Monday, 29 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week D, Day Three: Demolition Hammer

Demolition Hammer - Photo

I wouldn't call Demolition Hammer criminally underrated because they're not. Like a lot of just-under-the-surface bands they haven't received the widespread attention - like the Bay Area bands or the Teutonic trio - but that's not to say they've been neglected. At a brief glance - at a time when Metallica and their friends had watered down their sound, at a time when Pantera shook off their glam-rags in favor of fuck-off biker-garb and at a time when Sepultura moved towards their nu-metal roots - perhaps the aggressive and pummeling thrash had lost steam and chugged to stagnancy. But, as there always is, bands like Demolition Hammer along with the likes of Morbid Saint, Exhorder, Dark Angel, Solstice, Sadus and many more, continued - even intensifying - the thrash sound that sent shock-waves through the 80's.

Demolition Hammer - Epidemic of Violence
With three albums, 1990's Tortured Existence, 1992's Epidemic of Violence and 1994's (not so good) Time Bomb, Demolition Hammer - straight outta Com...The Bronx - steamrolled into the 90's turbocharged, leaving grunge and groove and arena-rock mediocrity in their wake, choking on the fumes. Their sound is thrash with the chunkiness of death-metal, a hybrid fueled by a complete fuck-off D.I.Y no-nonsense approach - their awful album artwork, a tradition in thrash, particularly good thrash for some reason, is testament to this.  Epidemic of Violence, the best of the three, is one of the most headbang-able albums, with mostly throttling riffs mixed up with the occasional death-metal chug and mid to fast-paced groove. Lyrically it also leans more towards the gory and ultra-violent, more Carcass and Autopsy than Metallica.

The vocals are, as screamed in 'Skull Fracturing Nightmare', gruesome tools of torture; once again the death-metal hybrid is brought to the fore, the vocals inherently more gruesome and nasty. The drumming is just one of the great things about this album; Vinny Daze's (who died in 1996 after being poisoned by a globefish - I presume after eating one - after attending a tattoo convention in Japan) drumming is a frenzied and unmerciful assault that never lets up. The solos are also great and I like that they retain a certain melody rather than spiraling into noisy wailing (Slayer). I don't know why I keep comparing them with Carcass, but the solos have a much more thrashy Bill Steer-esque quality in my opinion, which is a great thing. Most importantly, Demolition Hammer had an intensity, aggression and mad energy that the best thrash bands had in abundance. 




Sunday, 28 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week D, Day Two: Darkspace

Darkspace - Photo

In space no one can hear you scream but Darkspace belong to a more terrifying galaxy, a dark space that moans and creaks for light years in all directions. Their music deals with  space, the cosmic void, and the mystical mysteries of the vast dark universe. Their music is dense and smothering and incessant, a neutron star crushing inwards. Formed in 1999 in Switzerland by Wrothe of Paysage d'Hiver and Zhaaral of Sun of the Blind, they've released four full-lengths - the equally ambiguous Darkspace 1, Darkspace II, Darkspace III and Darkspace III I. Everything about their sound seeps darkness. 

The keyboard ambiance is key to their cinematic sound and the movie sample of Hal 9000 from 2010  in '1.1' intensifies the atmosphere that is created throughout their first album and the three albums - pretty much direct continuations - that follow. Darkspace are a difficult band and there isn't a vast amount of differentiation or jarring change in their sound; their music is purposely incessant and repetitive, yet there are subtleties in most songs that, although maybe hard to notice, are captivating - from a change in tone or key of the keyboard  to a slight riff-change, from moments of completely suffocating noise to airy transitions into ambient dark-wave. I suppose it's the ambient black-metal equivalent of funeral doom yet there are more than a fair share of great riffs - from the expected black-metal tremolo riffing to blocks and chugs of reverberating noise. Their music really rewards close listening. It does ask a lot of its listeners but their music creates a stifling atmosphere like no other. 




Saturday, 27 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week D, Day One: Demilich


Finland's Demilich formed in 1990, releasing only one full-length, 1993's Nespithe, before breaking up and fading into the swampy coldness of the Finnish landscape. Finland produced some rather unnerving and left-of-centre death-metal bands in the 90's - the likes of Demigod, Adramelech, Convulse, Funebre, Abhorrence, Depravity and many more meshing technical flavorings with razor-sharp old-school death and abhorrent and often weird morbid themes.

Spasmodic, rhythmically irregular, jarring with gurgled  vocals  tremble beneath the music like something  slimy disfigured creature from the deep, Demilich were truly an anomaly. There's a bizarre angularity to their sound that sounds genuinely alien - a slimy, crushing, pulsating approach oozing eccentricity. Masked underneath this unearthly multi-dimensional monstrosity are flecks of muddy old-school death-metal - the occasional dissonant solo and spurts of intense blasts and quick fire riffs and melodies. Nespithe doesn't shy away from melody either, although the melodies travel through more unconventional wires. The jarring rhythmical approach resulted in some of the most mesmeric riffs and repetitions I've heard - every songs seems to share a particular thread or pattern that runs from the beginning through to the end, the album has an incredibly satisfying flow. 

Conceptually, the album artwork and lyrics are a perfect extension of their sound - with hyper-detailed song titles like 'The Planet That Once Used to Absorb Flesh in Order to Achieve Divinity and Immortality (Suffocated to the Flesh That It Desired...)' and 'The Sixteenth Six-Tooth Son of Fourteen Four-Regional Dimensions (Still Unnamed)' and 'The Putrefying Road in the Nineteenth Extremity (...Somewhere Inside the Bowels of Endlessness...)' basic cavemen-death grooves and themes are nowhere to be seen or heard in this ultra-weird vomit-infested sun-crushing alternate universe.  

Nespithe is one of the albums I can listen to over and over again and never get tired, there's always something odd - be it a stray bass-line, a partiular riff-pattern, or a particular noise that rises from the tangled 'fourteen four-regional dimensions' - that hooks me in. Part of Demilich's cult status is gathered from how they faded away right after Nespithe; they're touring again now and I'm sure their shows would be incredible. 



Friday, 26 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week C, Day Seven: Converge


Converge belong to the true sect of metalcore with bands like Earth Crisis, Botch, Coalesce, Zao, The Chariot taking direct influence from the gritty violence of hardcore and punk and the complex heaviness of extreme metal. Chaotic, complex and most importantly heavy, Converge are definitely metal. There is more than a fair selection of completely overpowering grind, crust, black and thrash-metal moments - guitarist Kurt Ballou described their first album, 1994's Halo In A Haystack, as 'a bunch of hardcore kids playing leftover Slayer riffs' - to attract even the purist of extreme-metal fans.

I'd describe them as Pig Destroyers hyper-active, higher-pitched, supersonic twin (they released a split with Scott Hull’s Agoprahobic Nosebleed, incidentally). Converge's music from the early 1990's up to 2001's Jane Doe is a relentlessly sharp attack of shredding shrieks, intense tempo-changes and progressions, chaotic riffs and incredible drum work. Ben Koller's drumming is some of the best you'll hear, an unrelenting force of nature. Their third album, 1998’s When Forever Comes Crashing, is my particular favourite: a melting-pot of chaotic hardcore, mathcore, and thrash with slabs of industrial noise. 2001's Jane Doe is their pinnacle - a skin-shredding 45-minute assault that also experimented with suffocating industrial and doom-like sections. Converge are probably one of the most energetic and visceral bands, but their approach, particularly from Jane Doe onwards, is not purely an all-out assault - there are many moments and songs that morph and change from chaos to slow and sludgy, trance-inducing doom in the vein of Godflesh and more contemporary bands bands like Indian and Thou ('The Lowest Common Denominator' is a good example of this). There is a great diversity to their sound and pigeon-holing the band doesn’t do them justice.

I wouldn't say that black-metal is a direct influence on the band, or something that has been purposely utilised in their music, but their sound is an intensification of hardcore, punk and - to a certain extent - speed and thrash, four styles that were partly merged to form the evil atmospheric sounds of the first and second-wave black-metal bands. I'm sure that if Converge really wanted to be a black-metal band they'd be a very good one, but their sound is closer to the US hardcore-punk scene of the 80's and 90's.

So many bands get derivatively labelled and grouped as being one thing, although Converge have managed to break out of the derogative metalcore/mathcore rubbish heap. Often – in metal circles - people who speak of metalcore, or hardcore even, are shunned from the circle as lepers are from the populace. Perhaps such repulsion is partly to do with the fan base that these ‘genres’ attract, but there really are some great bands with great riffs and a great sound buried beneath watered-down bands like Killswitch Engage and Hatebreed. I’m going to stop here because I’m just ranting about things that have been said over and over again for years. Converge are good.





Thursday, 25 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week C, Day Six: Cryptopsy


I'm just going to jump right in and talk about None So Vile, Cryptopsy's second - and best - album, and arguably one of the best extreme metal albums. Many bands have attempted to perfect that art of the unruly, the schizophrenic, the chaotic, but none come close to the 32-minutes of complete and utter freakishness that 1996's None So Vile manages to ooze.

None So Vile opens with a roaring demon dinosaur type creature welcoming us into the mad-world; indecipherable lyrics - including a notable selection of references to anal play - and inhuman vocals layered above rapid drumming and unstable guitar sounds that happen to contain both a brain-numbing difficulty and an incredible level of groove. There is so much groove invisible behind the cacophony as in 'Grave of the Fathers' for example. This is unconventional brutal-death, the parameters of straight-forward death turned on its head, floating in a bizarre space defying gravity and the laws of conventional music. This is all incredibly dramatic and hyperbolic but I think a cautious approach does the album no justice whatsoever - sometimes you have to go a bit crazy. 

Cryptopsy - None So Vile
Lord Worm's vocals are made up of some of the most disgusting sounds known to man: diseased and frothing gargles, spewing gurgles, razor sharp snarls, excruciatingly painful groans, piggish snorts, heart-wrenching shrieks, cannibalistic growls - not many other vocalists touch the complete madness of his vocals; they are unstructured and loose, but this unruliness is more of selling-point than a weakness. The vocals are like the cries at an exorcism, some brutal demon pouring from the portal of the throat; this is how the closing sections of 'Benedictine Convulsions sounds. Lord Worm now teaches English - those poor children.



Combining and controlling all of this chaotic unruliness must be a difficult task, yet there is a cohesive unstructured structure to the album; there are immensely good riffs that never linger too long, that always mutate and move on to the next - the band must have sold their soul to the devil for a bottomless pit of riffs because almost every transition is mesmeric. This is attenuated by the maniacal drumming of Flo Mounier - it's difficult to really put my finger on what it is so I'm just going to be completely hyperbolic about describing this too: it's a multi-dimensional, warped, multi-armed piston-heavy explosion of blast-beats, hat-riding, and bellowing rhythmic annihilation. It's an acquired sound; the snare is pronounced, at times sounding hollow, but it works with the album, it's purposely not meant to sound clean or fluid.

The bass is the same; it's played with the panache of a classical or flamenco guitarist - fingers and bass strings stomping and swinging about with such incredible energy. It doesn't really sound like a bass - it transcends the boundaries of sound, curving and warping as the waves tumble through the air. There are also moments of beauty and semi-conventionality carried through brief solos and spurts of rhythm - 'Slit Your Guts' is an example of this. 

Cryptopsy's first album Blasphemy Made Flesh has a much grittier production, it perhaps does not contain the overly-spasmodic tendencies of None So Vile but from an outsiders it's just as unconventional; the bass seems to ping with even greater clearness due to the production on Blasphemy Made Flesh, the vocals are maniacal if slightly more conventional and the drum-work once again pummeling. Their third album, Whisper Supermacy, is also worth checking out despite no Lord Worm on vocals, the instrumentals are still mind-boggling. After that album my knowledge is a bit more hazy - there was that one album that shall not be named. Their 2015 E,P The Book of Suffering was actually decent, but it lacked something, it dropped pretty quickly onto the ever moving conveyor belt of good but not incredible music.






Brutal Bandcamp: Interesting New and Upcoming Releases #3

I haven't done much deep-web trawling of new and upcoming releases for quite a while, so I dedicated some time to scouring Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Twitter, Facebook and all other bastions of extreme metal to present some interesting new and upcoming releases.

Altarage

What toxic chemical has been secretly drained into the Spanish waters producing such dense death-metal? . Like Wormed, Altarage are a gargantuan and oppressively-heavy: it's planets colliding, incessant pounding, monsters emerging dripping acid from the deeps. Similar in ways to earlier Portal. An assault on the ears. Nihil, their debut full-length, is released on the 26th of February. Or if you want your brain mushed from the force of their sound you can listen to their album at cvlt nation, link here 



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Solacide

The Finish Line cover art
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/Solacide
Bandcamphttp://solacide.bandcamp.com/
The Finish Line is the upcoming second album by Finnish band Solacide, set for release on the 28th of Februray. Their sound is a sort of progressive-melodic-tech adorned black-metal with equal moments of brutal intensity and melancholic melody.  There's a good mix of styles here that interplay nicely. Mixed with clean vocals too that initially brough to mind an Enslaved/Borknagar/Strapping Young Lad hybrid. There are interesting guitar lines and moments crammed in to the record. The album is being streamed in full here


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Krater

Urere cover art
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abstrusekrater
Krater have a blackened-death sound, mixing heaviness with sudden ambient and choral layerings. It's a really interesting and well-done sound. Riffs are not overly complex yet they maintain a viciousness and an intensity that some bands neglect. Urere is the German bands third full-length, scheduled for release on the 26th.





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Cult of Erinyes

Cult of Erinyes - Transcendence Tape cover art
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cult.erinyes
Bandcamphttp://cavernaabismal.bandcamp.com/album/cult-of-erinyes-transcendence-tape
Really nice abrasive and  riff-based black-metal from Belgium. Good riffs, evil vocals and evil atmosphere - what more could you want from black-metal? No pretense, no showing off, it's the music and nothing else. Their upcoming 3 track EP contains two original songs and a cover of Mayhem's 'Pagan Fears'. Worth playing loud if you want to frighten off vvimps. 



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Begrime Exemious

The Enslavement Conquest cover art
Bandcamphttp://begrimeexemious.bandcamp.com/
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/begrimeexemious/
Grit.  Gritty production for in-your-face death-metal: riffs galore, churning sound. mud and flame and lightening and guns and blasts and death...everywhere. Begrime Exemious's sound is a monstrous and grotesque thrashy-death. The Canadian bands third album is scheduled for release on the 4th of March.



Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week C, Day Five: Cirith Ungol


In 1972, riding dragons arising from the sandy vistas of California, Cirith Ungol breathed their first eccentric flames. They didn't release anything until 1980's debut full-length Frost and Fire, a more conventionally heavy-metal record that flaunted elements of the eccentricities - croaking, higher-pitched, goblin-throated vocals and an engulfing bass lead sound - that would catapult Cirith Ungol into power-doom-progressive realms with their three later releases.

'Atom Smasher' opens 1984's King of the Dead album - its bubbling, warped bass lines ensnaring as strained vocals welcome the listener to 'the brave new world' and guitars progress and solo into an atom-smashing oblivion: this is just the tip of the iceberg, an example of things to come. Perhaps jarring at first, the odd production and idiosyncratic vocals, for me at least, grow more endearing and ultimately work in harmony with the fantastical themes. Yet underneath the quirky soundscapes are incredible instrumentals - there are speed-riffs, doom-riffs, psychedelic-riffs, punk-riffs, jazz-riffs, jazz drumming, thrash-drumming: riffs to satisfy all your needs! Cirith Ungol's sound is ultimately a power-doom hybrid - part Sabbath, part Rush, part The Grateful Dead. 

And the doomier elements - not to say the other aspects are sub-par - are strikingly good: the seven-minute 'Master of the Pit' a particular example of quirk mixed with an aggressiveness and a bluesy-progressiveness; 'King of the Dead' a downcast journey; 'Finger of Scorn' a conflict between folky-prog and expansive doom. 1986's One Foot In Hell and 1991's Paradise Lost are equally as interesting, with songs about doomed planets and  trolls (a song about the internet way before its time) and even a cover of 'Fire' by Arthur Brown. First reactions might be 'what the hell am I listening to?' but after the initial tumult of banshee wails, pulsating solos and crazy progressions you'll be sucked into a memorable and endearing world.



Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week C, Day Four: Can


Kraut: hypnotic and psychedelic, mesmeric and repetitious, ritualistic and frenzied; Can's sound is a tribal frenzy of world-music, jazz, noise, rock, progressive...it's neither one thing or another. Their music transcends and infuses from structured sections through to semi-improvisational groove passages, from minimalist ambient whirling to jazzy bursts of energy; from progressive-rock flamboyancy to disordered proto-punk- in the context of 'extreme' metal, I don't think it's unfounded to say that Can must have had some influence on noise, drone, ambient, progressive and whatever-else bands today. The whole German kraut scene in the 60's/70's - Faust, Neu, Can some of the big 'uns - paved the way for experimentation within a rock/pop framework. 

Their first five releases - Monster Movie (1969), Soundtracks (1970), Tago Mago (1971),Ege Bamyasi (1972) and Future Days (1973) - are exercises in musical discovery and freedom. That sounds pretentious but it is rather apt. Fluid, unconventional, intense and dense (quality rhyme there), Can were truly ahead of their time. From the 17-minute world-music drone/noise song 'Aumgn' sounding like something from an Om album or 'Peking O' sounding like a descent into  John Zorn or Mr. Bungle levels of madness just being the peak of this musical ice-berg, it's worth just jumping in and getting lost in the sounds. 




Monday, 22 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week C, Day Three: ColdWorld

ColdWorld - Photo

ColdWorld is a one-man ambient black-metal project based in Leipzig, Germany. 2008's Melancholie² was Georg Börner's last release but, excitingly, there is new music scheduled for release sometime in the next year, or two...or three. An extension of the ambient coldness of Burzum's Filosofem, ColdWorld's sound consists of shimmering atmospheres layered upon raw sharpness; there are a lot of atmospheric bands that are heavily influenced, some even blatant rip-offs, by Burzum's sound - ColdWorld are obviously influenced but there is much more to the music than shameless copying.

ColdWorld - Melancholie²Melancholie² is has a genuinely vast and expansive sound similar in richness to Darkspace and Paysage d'Hiver; synths and heavily distorted guitars seep and swirl. It's much more alluring than the barren intensity of Darkspace, however - there is a much greater reliance on melody and harmony as violins hum and synths float with less ominousness; it is the sound of melancholy that draws influence from depressive and dark-ambient sub-genres. Production wise the guitar tones are pretty lo-fi, the drum-work programmed, and the vocals seem to levitate above the mix, yet there is something rather appealing and enticing about the production, from my warped mind at least. I like the rough, synthetic quality of many atmospheric projects, I like image of these atmospheric worlds being created from absolutely nothing into something as expansive and immersive as ColdWorld's music; a lot think it simple and easy to do and this, regrettably, means there is a lot of wet and cold atmoshperic shite out there, but when you have the skill and direction to pull such a venture off, the output can be some of the most imaginative and engrossing extreme-metal. Off the top of my head there are bands like Spectral Lore, Midnight Odyssey, Panopticon, Elysian Blaze, Burzum, Mare Cognitum, Saor, Paysage d'Hiver, The Ruins of Beverast and most likely a diverse range of other one-man projects making genuinely colorful and creative music from the confines of their blackened rooms.


Sunday, 21 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week C, Day Two: Colosseum

Colosseum - Photo

Colosseum's funeral-doom sound is intensely dreamlike and oddly comforting at times; it dwells in despair with its slow dirge-like progressions but its ambient overlays are, at times, angelic, even soothing; 'Weathered',from their first album Chapter 1: Delirium (2007), is one such song. The ambient sounds move with a lightness that lifts the crunching slabs of guitar and the growls into an ethereal soundscape. There are dramatic orchestral elements - groups of violins, cellos, etc. - that truly forges a sense of grandeur. The majority of Colosseum's songs are long, reaching in to the double-digits, yet they never seem to lose focus or fizzle out; there is always something dragging you back in - an example of this, once again, in the closing minutes of the thirteen-minute 'Weathered' where the pace picks up: double bass drums rumble and riffs and solos burst from their languid states of despair into something more energetic as the orchestral continue to swirl and throb. Their sound is melancholic and forlorn with more than a fair share of beautiful pirouetting guitar leads and dense melodies. It's the sound of something emerging from a thick fog, entrancing and vexing as it's shadow creeps into light.  There are so many subtleties and variations weaving and seeping through each song, it's a true auditory experience.

The Finnish band disbanded in 2010 following the death of vocalist and guitarist Juhani Palomäki aged 32.Their third album, which was in the works before Palomaki's death, was released posthumously in 2007, titled Chapter 3: Parasomnia. Their three albums are interconnected, each a progressive chapter, each centering themes of desolation inside a Lovercraftian and Sumerian mythological world. It's terribly sad for anyone to die so young; it's particularly sad to see such an interesting band stopped at their prime.  





Saturday, 20 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week C, Day One: Code


Code are a band from England formed in 2002. I write that in the most minimalist way possible because its is near impossible to accurately categorise their sound, yet I suppose I should try. A progressive black metal sensibility is the fundamental driving force of their early output but their albums warp and modify sometimes beyond the realms of metal, leading to the expansive melancholy of their current post-rock output. 'Experimental' is a tag stuck on to bands that are often hard to pin down or define but Code, I'd say, are a band who actively experiment and try to develop their sound from album to album.

In Code's DNA are touches of straight-forward black-metal - particularly in their first two albums: 2005's Nouveau Gloaming and 2009's Resplendent Grotesque - alongside an expansive progressive and melodic sound akin to more recent Enslaved and Borknagar; beyond this songs regularly reach must vaster and unpredictable dimensions - unorthodox and stylistically similar to Scandinavian experimenters Arcturus, Solefald and Diabolical Masquerade. There is also a particular quirky Englishness - especially from third album Augur Nox onwards (with new vocalist Wacian) - comparable to the Triple-A attack of Akercocke, A Forest Of Stars and Anathema . Despite my blatant attempt at deciphering their sound through comparisons with a hotchpotch of other extreme-metal bands, there is a much wider essence and diversity to Code's music that reaches far beyond metal. 

Code's smooth transition into more alien territories began with their third album Augur Nox, an album that bridged the gap between two soundsThe Surrey band's most recent album - 2015's Mut - paints on a much wider canvas, exploring post-rock and progressive soundscapes with their idiosyncratic approach to song-writing and atmosphere. A much more reflective and melancholy sound makes up the core of the album and their change of direction draws similarities with Anathema's excellently executed transition from doom through to their alternative sound. Mut is an incredibly interesting and nuanced progressive album that draws more similarities with Porcupine Tree and Soen. You can tell that a lot of thought and a lot of hours has gone in to each sound, transition and effect in Code's music; they are a richly textured and diverse band that will kick-start even the blandest of imaginations. 

Dense and Bludgeoning: The Infernal Sea - The Great Mortality (2016)

The Infernal Sea - The Great Mortality
Bandcamp: https://theinfernalsea.bandcamp.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theinfernalsea/?fref=ts
I remember seeing The Infernal Sea maybe two years ago; I had gone in blind and wasn't sure what to expect when they took to the stage, hoods-up, donning plague doctor masks, their backs to their crowd and the lights dimmed. What followed was a gritty, abrasive and unrelenting sound that cast the audience into a sickening trance. At their core the The Infernal Sea are straight-forwardly black-metal with their already deadly attack tipped with poisonous elements of crust and grind. It was a full-throttle, no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners sort of approach that was inherently more evil than a lot of corpse-paint clad exhibitionists. Most importantly, however, is that the band managed to mesh that abstract notion of  'atmosphere' with riffs and aggression. 

The Great Mortality is dense and bludgeoning, its pace of attack at full-throttle from the very beginning. In a sense it reminded me initially of a more sulfurous and smog-filled Absu with its overwhelming yet seemingly well-organised chaos. Spurts of melody mixed with clouds of ethereal eeriness do manage to rise to the surface occasionally, clashing against the constant black-metal attack; in 'The Bearer', for example, the wisp sound of a flute or pipe of sorts, together with clean vocals, emerge - Anaal Nathrakh-esque - from the maelstrom. The song transitions into a passage of  industrial noise as a solemn guitar atop of equally solemn drums,  layered with violins (one thing I certainly not expect to hear) haunts the mid-section of the eight-minute song. This rather unexpected change in pace and tone works nicely; the progression from such dense brutality into  subdued melancholy is a satisfying moment of rest-bite. At six minutes and 30 seconds the song emerges from pensive gloom into a whirlwind of atmospheric tremolo picking, pumping bass and machine-like drumming.



Dean Lettice's vocals - though largely uniform - are sickening throughout: high-pitched, abrasive, and anguished, they are the cries of a man forced to watch the new Ghostbusters movie on repeat for a thousand years. Occasionally they dwell lower in the register - croaking and tormented - but on the whole a constant blanket of sharpness stabs and prods through the mix, often accompanied by a slightly deeper backing vocal that serves to fatten the already full-bodied sound.

I'm surprised - in a pleasant 'just found a fiver on the bottom of my shoe' sort of way - by the variety of sounds in The Great Mortality; simultaneously I'm impressed by the the core black-metal intensity: it's pessimistic, haunting, throbbing with energy and most importantly rammed with good riffs and interesting progressions. The unholy trinity of an album of this sort for me is riffs, atmosphere and flow: The Great Mortality achieves all three. 'Pestmeester', the fifth track, opens with a mid-paced crusty onslaught that is lightly caressed with ghostly chantings and moments of unorthodox disharmony akin to the equally unorthodox approach of French weirdos Deathspell Omega and Spektr. 'Plague Herald' is similar, it's tempo even steadier with traces of, what to me, sounds like a sort of of evil hardcore-punk groove that demands to be headbanged to. The final track, 'Brethren of the Cross', opens with a deluge of hazy guitars before settling down into a more intricate and steady ritual. It really is captivating riff after captivating riff, enhanced by truly pained vocals and solid and dynamic bass lines; the drumming is just sort of there doing its thing, nothing out of the ordinary, but too distractedly abhorrent either. The album as a whole is nothing totally bizarre or original, it's not going to open up your mind to an alternate reality that you didn't know existed, but it will certainly rejuvenate that evil alter-ego - that little black-metal gremlin - that we know exists somewhere in the corner of our brain, nestled comfortably between daily worries and anxieties.

Part Deathspell Omega, part Darkthrone, part Abigor: an unholy trinity channeled, to great effect, into The Great Mortality. It's a richly textured and  has many moments worth revisiting. The Infernal Sea are an integral part of an  interesting and diverse British black-metal scene. Over the last few years many British bands have solidified themselves on the international stage and the diversity of British bands (Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone, A Forest of Stars, Fen, Saor, Voices, Old Corpse Road, Ninkharsag, The Meads of Asphodel, Anaal Nathrakh and many others I've not enough room or patience to list) is incredibly encouraging. The Infernal Sea are one such band carrying the plague-infested banners of the British scene to great heights, and long may it continue.




Friday, 19 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week B, Day Seven: Bast

Bast - Photo
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Bastmusic/
Bancamp: http://bastmusic.bandcamp.com/
Bast - formed in London in 2008 - are denizens of a blackened-doom realm. Their sole full-length, 2014's Specters, is a communion of a frantic and wretched tremolo-led black metal and intense, reverberating atmospheric sludge. Slabs and chugs of pure unrelenting doom, delivered beneath cavernous battle-cries, morph into moments of even slower - swampy, with floating psychedelia - steadiness (as in 'Denizens') or moments of mid-paced groove ('Spectres'); at other times, as in the opening track 'In the Beginning' doomier rumblings make way for lightning bolts of black-metal - vocals shriek and writhe with a much greater vulnerability as songs explode and break down. These transitions work incredibly well and really give the album a sense of unpredictability.  

Bast's music is vast and eclectic with touches of various styles: Isis-esque ambiance, Neurosis-esque grit and Sabbath-esque grooves merge with a melodic black-metal intensity. Spectres is 42-minutes of diverse and powerful extreme metal that is neither doom not black-metal, neither sludge nor drone: it's a truly eclectic mix of styles and influences that progresses and moves without at all seeming fragmented or ill-fitting. 

Yesterday I talked of the diverse range of doom/sludge/drone/stoner bands in the UK, Bast are one such band whose debut album is far more proficient and interesting than bands ten times more established. Akerblogger will be featuring another dose of  doom from the UK featuring soon as there is a gig coming up that I'm likey to write a review of: Slabdragger, Ohhms, Morass of Molasses and Mower in Liverpool.  



Thursday, 18 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week B, Day Six: Byzanthian Neckbeard

Byzanthian Neckbeard - Photo

Formed in 2013, Byzanthian Neckbeard's mission is to rid the doom world of all trendiness in favor of a lumbering, caveman-like, no-nonsense approach to their craft. Their sound is a stripped back blackened-sludgey-doom from Guernsey, UK. Their one album - 2014's From the Clutches of Oblivion - is a 32-minutes grit-fest of old-school death vocals, knuckle-dragging riffs and transitions into moments of glorious groove. 

Byzanthian Neckbeard have a galloping Conan-esque expansiveness that drips with atmosphere cupped from the cauldrons of Electric Wizard. Rumbling and croaking like mortar fire is a harsh vocal roughness akin to Bolt Thrower. The UK really seems to produce quality bands that lean towards the harsher side of the doom family: Cathedral, Anathema, Conan, Electric Wizard - all spawned from the withered evil hands of that small time band from Birmingham: Black Sabbath. These guys carry on the tradition in the best way and I look forward to hearing their future releases. 




Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week B, Day Five: Blut Aus Nord


Blut aus Nord - Photo

Secretive and cryptic, hooded figures, the blood from the north, Blut Aus Nord play a swirling combination of unorthodox styles with a black-metal sound at its core. Lyrically merging mysticism, philosophy, and individualism within a diverse series of interconnected albums - for example, the Memoria Vetusta trilogy and the 777 trilogy - Blut Aus Nord take a complex and, I suppose, sophisticated approach to their craft.

Their mystique does not cheapen their appeal at all, in fact their aversion to rock-star posturing intensifies their already vastly creative music. Their sound is diverse, never stagnant; their debut album, Ultima Thulée, is a cold and ethereal, a raw-black metal duels with sections of pure ambient sound. To think that this album was executed by a 15 year old Vindsval in 1995 is astonishing.

They are a band that will engulf a listener in atmosphere, their ability to create diverse and particular music universes from album to album is unmatched. Their Memoria Vetusta trilogy is made up of sweeping and eccentric riffs that merge melody with a dissonance or disharmony. It’s a hard sound to grasp and, like fellow French black-metallers Deathspell Omega, there is much spastic freneticism and inhuman sounds, but Blut Aus Nord differ in that they mix this unorthodox, idiosyncratic approach with sections of intensely beautiful melody. These albums are at times dreamy and distant but in an instant they’re harsh and difficult.
                                         
I suppose it could be said that the Memoria Vetusta trilogy is rooted in the more traditional aspects of black-metal. Their other recordings stray and shoot off in to various experimental directions, shooting around with such ambitious speed of release that pockets may idolise certain albums that others may hate. Some love the ambient droney dissonant MoRT, some hate it; some prefer the mystic airiness of Cosmosophny, some hate it; everyone loves Memoria Vetusta! Either way, there is something for every listener. It’s fair to say that Blut Aus Nord truly embrace the musical avant-garde with their diverse and honest approach to a range of difficult styles. Blut Aus Nord are purposely difficult and their morph of styles is meant to elicit a variety of feelings and responses. We need more weirdness in music; weird is interesting and interesting does not necessarily have to equate to good.



Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week B, Day Four: Blotted Science


Instrumental Tech-death super scientists Blotted Science are a freak experiment gone right: super-freak bassist Alex Webster of Cannibal Corpse fame has mutated into a technical monster alongside half-man half-machine drum-cyborg Hannes Grossmann of Alkaloid, Obscura and Necrophagist fame and mad scientist guitarist Ron Jarzombek of Watchtower and Spastic Ink. They've two releases under their cyber-belts: 2007's full-length The Machinations of Dementia and 2011's E.P. The Animation of Entomology.

Their music is beyond wankery, it's beyond human control; their music is a robotic force that constantly evolves and mutates, it's the sound of vials crashing and inhuman mixtures merging, thick heavy smoke from huge industrial chimneys seeping through vents into a cyber-world where cyborgs fight giants in a simulated cityscape. To bring it back down to earth, Blotted Science are purposely over-blown. Radical tempo changes and changes in tone clash jarringly as harsh and piercing siren noises fade in to deft 70's prog-esque harmonies before jumping in to extreme metal force; the majority of their sound is incessant head-pounding jackhammer shred-fest: jumpy rhythms, fluttering solos, drilled drumming, all mingled together, but there are also moments of pure jazz-fusion-esque groove when songs slow down (from break-neck pace to a steadier flurry of aggression).

Each member is pretty much a virtuoso; Alex Webster has traded his dirty bass for a pristine sounding instrument, Grossmann's drumming is varied and thoughtful and Jarzombek's leads are an inhuman force of technical insanity. Sometimes you need something completely bizarre and ultra-progressive, Blotted Science is that. 



Monday, 15 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week B, Day Three: Black Crown Initiate

Black Crown Initiate - Photo

Black Crown Initiate's debut E.P in 2013 - Song of the Crippled Bull - received quite a few rave reviews across the interwebs, and rightly so: a tech-death attack with flurries of melody, progressiveness and most importantly atmosphere. Unafraid to experiment with clean vocals and the softer side of the genre, Black Crown Initiate's sound is a hybrid of Opethian progression, Obscuran experimentation and Pyscroptitian brutality. Their debut album, The Wreckage of Stars, was released a year later in 2014: a similarly unorthodox atmospheric tech-death approach. 

My knowledge of the more contemporary clean sounding tech-death isn't as profound as other sub-sub-sub genres of sub-genres, but there is a particular other-worldliness and expansive playfulness that, when done to a high standard, can be incredibly immersive, powerful and awe-inspiring. Black Crown Initiate are one such band who have awe-inspiring moments (others cut from a similar cloth: Psycroptic, Wormed (more brutal), Blotted Science, Pyrrhon) forged from fresh songwriting, interesting progressions and an ability to merge technical proficiency with a more human touch.

They were the first band I ever crowd-funded and when I received my stuff from their home in Pennsylvania, USA to the UK I was greatly satisfied; they are only going to get better and I'm willing to throw my money at them like a tech-death whores whenever new music is announced. Coincidentally, the band have announced on their Facebook page that their new album is full recorded in the studio.






Sunday, 14 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week B, Day Two: Boris


Japanese band Boris have tried their hand at most genres and this eclecticism has not, at all, made them jack's of all trades and master's of none; Boris are masterful. Due to their diverse sound from record to record (sometimes song to song) - J-pop to drone to stoner to grindcore to psychedelia and so on - they draw a diverse fan-base, but those albums that lean closer to the metal side of things are, on the whole, extremely impressive.

Boris have released a lot of music, sometimes something once or even twice a year, and  consistency and proficiency of their mesh of styles is astonishing. Their first three albums - Absolutego (1996), Amplifier Worship (1998) and Flood (2000) - are vast and engrossing in scope and build-up; Boris know how to arrange albums, how to intensify and heighten certain moments with build-ups and progressions. Absolutego is a crushing mass of dense drone and incessant pounding. The succeeding Amplifier Worship is essentially drone-sludge but stirred among the dragging riffs are swift moments of change: stoner-esque pace, bluesy-grooves, psychedelic wobbles and trance-like drumming; the songs need to be listened to in their context to experience the full impact: 'Hama', the third song, begins 25 minutes into the album and is the first moment of any speed or release; it well and truly explodes as the valve is blown off and the release of pressure is huge: speedy drumming, riffs and stoner-esque vocals in Japanese contrast powerfully with the preceding steadiness. There are incredible rises and falls, shifts from slow to fast, loud to quiet and vice versa throughout Boris's music. It's something they do better than most. 



The name Boris was taken from the Melvin's song 'Boris' and in early Boris their influence is most noticeable. Like Melvin's they've dabbled in most things; their most conventional, riff-based music is some of the most energetic and powerful. My personal favourite Akuma No Uta (2003) - the front cover of Takeshi Ohtani holding his trademark guitar mimics British singer-songwriter Nick Drake's Bryter Layer album - is a sprawling and engrossing epic of an album that is structured to perfection: the atmospheric nine-minute instrumental opener - vibrating and crackling with droney anticipation - ciphers into the second track 'Ibistsu' - a frantic, groovy romp of whistling guitars and gruff intensity; 'Ibistu' leads in to the similarly energetic and catchy 'Free' before fading in to 'Naki Kyoku (Crying Song)' that I believe to be the centerpiece of the album - a melancholy guitar led track that slowly moves from its bittersweet opening into an out-pouring of psychedelic steadiness, gradually picking up pace and intensity before bursting into life; the album finishes with 'Akuma No Uta', a fragmented dual of guitar sounds and thumping drumming that spirals and thrashes to close. 

Their 2014 release Noise is a dark and vast album that recalls the expansive sounds of their earlier work with the playfulness of of their mid to present career. I've only talked of a few albums that I've given the most time to, but there are so many others that I've neglected to speak of due to time (and effort): Pink, Heavy Rocks, Vein (Drone) and Vein (Hardcore), Feedbacker, and Flood are all quality albums that I just haven't explored as thoroughly as I would have liked to, and if you like J-pop check out Attention Please.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week B, Day One: Bethlehem


Taken from Bethlehem Official (Facebook)

Bethlehem are credited for inventing dark metal, or at least for bringing together black metal with a morose gothic spirit. With major line-up changes effecting each album, their first two albums are most consistent with proliferating the crushing dark metal sound. 1994's Dark Metal and 1996's Dictius Te Necare (Latin: You must/should kill yourself) can be defined by the extremely tortured vocals of Andreas Classen (on the first album) and Rainer Landfermann (on the second): schizophrenic, shredding, croaked, groaned, shrieked, cried and spat - at times goblin-hobbit like, at others a step down from the melancholy of Tom G. Warrior - always sadistic and unstable. A rather unsupported statement follows: Bethlehem paved the way for the glut of depressive black metal bands that emerged out of Europe and Scandinavia in the years to come; if not, they were at least one of the first. Bands like Sweden's Shining (formed in 1996), Silencer (formed in 1995), and Italy's Forgotten Tomb (formed in 1999.)

Bethlehem - Dictius Te Necare
The music - forgetting the vocals - itself is strikingly good. On Dictius Te Necare - my favorite of the first two - the pace varies from a typical first-wave inspired black fury - but a lot meatier than the typical early 90's sound - and sparse and dragging doom sections akin to Candlemass. Sometimes, as in 'Die anarchische Befreiung der Augenzeugenreligion', the guitars reverberate alone and grating vocals and gloomy ambient under-flow; or in 'Aphel - Die schwarze Schlange' as the morose solo bass clangs in the hollows between black-metal riffing and down-tuned slabs. The contrast between loud and quiet, aggressive and melancholy is very well done. The atmosphere they create is also truly oppressive: take the end section of 'Verheißung - Du Krone des Todeskultes', for example, where eerie gothic chanting, blocks of post-punk/goth synth and German spoken-word broods.

All song titles and lyrics on Dictius Te Necare are in German, and that's a more disconcerting and unsettling thing than your typical depressive lyrics written in English; this is where bands like Shining fail, their lyrics and persona's as promoters of suicide and self-harm is a cheap attempt at clutching for something to differentiate them from the crowd, for getting a bit of media attention and morbid curiosity. It's a shame because their music is multiple times more interesting, diverse and unique than their childish extremism. Of course, it's meant to upset, it's meant to cause controversy; it doesn't upset me, it just gives the music a much cheaper feel. 

After writing the last paragraph I've realised it's wrong to pigeon-hole Bethlehem with depressive black-metal. Bethlehem have much more to do with gothic and melancholy doom similar to Anathema, Paradise Lost and Katatonia. The 11 minute epic 'Apocalyptic Dance' from Dark Metal is thick and crushing with interesting riffs, haunting violins and a general harrowing atmosphere that runs throughout the album. Classen's vocals on Dark Metal are slightly more conventional: consistently deeper gutturals and growls, yet they still maintain a raspy black metal evilness. Bethlehem are crushing and maniacal and will satisfy the most corrupted of minds.


Friday, 12 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week A, Day Seven: Aquilus

Photography by Mark Hoffmann at Not Flash Photos.
Aquilus is a one-man black-metal project out of Melbourne, Australia and Aquilus's only album - 2011's Grisieus - is incredible. Sensuous, vast and sweeping orchestral melodies - layers of violin, cello ringing, sliding - collide with crunching melodic riffs in the long and varied epic. The melodic progressions are mind-blowing; with all this music reaching us from all corners of the globe a click away, I think sometimes genuine moments of awe are distilled, or lessened, by the excessive amounts of incredible and instantly-accessible music, however there are more than a few awe-inducing moments on Aquilus's Griseus that only occur sparingly in music. 

Aquilus - Griseus
There are many prolonged orchestral passages void of any extremity; light, airy, subtle and fairy-like at times, in my opinion it never gets boring, it's brilliantly constructed, it progresses and moves through various sounds and intensities like an epic film-score (at times it really feels like something cut from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, it's much less plastic and flat as, I feel, is the case with Summoning.)

Grisius is long: at 1 hour and 19 minutes it really demands a lot of attention, but it's incredibly submersing and nothing ever feels like it's being dragged on for too long, nothing is blown out of proportion. Australia does seem to produce these epic one-man atmospheric projects and Aquilus, it can be said, is the more folky and neoclassical inspired younger brother of the astral, dream-space music of Midnight Odyssey. A less blatant connection would be with Opeth; there are many qualities in Aquilus's music, particuarly when it breaks into black-metal intensity (such as in 'Loss'), of Morningrise-esque melody and riff progression. Songs like 'Loss' erupt towards the end with a haunting aggression. 'Smokefall' opens with searing riffs and deep guttural growls, leaning more towards a melodic-death/doom sound akin to the ethereal soundscapes of early Amorphis or Anathema.

The heavy parts are heavy, but laced with poisonous melody and orchestral sweeps. 'Latent Thistle' is one such example. It's an incredibly ambitious sound: the ambition has paid off. I genuinely think that Griseus is one of the best atmospheric black-metal albums.


Thursday, 11 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week A, Day Six: Alice In Chains




It wouldn't be a controversial comment to say that Alice In Chains are metal. It may be more controversial to say that they are perhaps one of the few bands that are almost universally lauded. I don't know of many people who dislike the band; there are those who are most likely indifferent, or haven't really given them a chance, but across the board they seem to appeal - even their recent albums with 'new' vocalist William DuVall - to a wide array of listeners.

Formed in Seattle, Washington in 1987, the band released three full-lengths in the 90's with the incredible Layne Staley - Facelift (1990), Dirt (1992) and Alice in Chains (1995) - alongside the less aggressive and more vulnerable Jar of Flies EP in 1994. Following the tragic of death of heroin-addict Layne Staley the band disbanded.  Fuzzy, gruff and groovy, they were simultaneously doomy, melancholic and introspective. 'Love Hate Love', for example, from debut album Facelift, is a downcast explosion of slow and crushing doom; it creeps slowly into life as Staley's pained vocals soar and writhe, it has a sort of Saint Vitus feel, and the guitars slither and crawl beneath. Conversely, on the same record, is 'I Know Somethin  (Bout You)', a funky romp of grooves, key changes, bluesy bass exploration, stoner-esque riffs and rich vocal harmonies. 'Head Creeps' from the self-titled is similar: a flangy, acid trip groove seeps beneath deranged spacey vocals.  



There's always an intense aggression and sense of self-directed anger most of their songs, even the more rock based tracks; Staley's and Cantrell's lyrics are full of bitterness, melancholy and general gloom. They're an emotional and vulnerable band, who (cliche) wear their hearts on their sleeves. It's what makes their music appealing; it's down-to-earth and real; as much as we like songs about three-headed dragons battling gold-plated dragon slayers on mountains made of skulls, or songs about the almighty malevolence of Satan, sometimes the most hard-hitting songs are those that are about boring old personal experiences. It's what these 'wrongly pigeon-holed as grunge' bands (Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden) do so well, and it's part of the reason they're so popular. When you combine this - in Alice in Chains case - with incredible song-writing, diverse and interesting riffing, and a generally powerful sound, you've on to something special. To go from the desperately sad 'Rotten Apple' to 'Sludge Factory' is why they're such a great band ('Sludge Factory' is, with much deliberation, my favourite AiC song: The monstrously swampy and crunchingly down-tuned guitars layered beneath snaking vocal harmonies, the echoing reverb of the bass that clangs with menace, and the breakdown of the song towards the end is great. The live unplugged version is incredible to: the vocals are pitch perfect.

And there are plenty of riffs stored away in their metal toolbox. 'Them Bones' from Dirt opens with crunchy heaviness that slams the album in to gear from the get go.  'Rooster' is a semi-ballad mixed with wavering Sabbath riffs and fuzz aplenty. 'Junkhead' is a pessimistic and dark, spiraling in to a pit of self-loathing and lyrics about the evils of addiction, Their sound is part Type-O Negative, part Melvins, part Sabbath and part Kyuss, yet Alice in Chains are completely their own band. There are just too many great songs and too many great moments to talk of and here's just not enough time. 

They returned in 2009, with the charismatic vocal powerhouse William DuVall alongside guitarist, songwriter, vocalist and blonde-haired master Jerry Cantrell, with the excellent Black Gives Way to Blue and The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here in 2013. The sound on these albums is, perhaps, even heavier than on their previous recordings. The sound of songs such as 'Stone' and 'Last Of My Kind' is suffocating. The entire tone - credit to the production - is completely monstrous. There are just too many incredible songs and not enough hours in the day to give them to the time they deserve to write of them. Certainly one of the most consistent bands in music today. 


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week A, Day Five: Asva

Asva - Photo

Formed in California in 2003 by Burning Witch bassist G. Stuart Dahlquist, who also played bass on Goatsnake's 2001 album Flower of Disease and has featured for Sun 0)), Asva play a richly rich, textured. and slow-burning drone-doom with touches of experimentation and exploration throughout. Their music has the epic scope of film soundtrack's: 2009's What You Don't Think Is Frontier would work perfectly, I believe, as the soundtrack to an adaptation of William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying or as the music for some other book-movie adaptation about the desolate, grotesque and gothic southern plains. I hear in their sound the haunting tones of Skepticism drifting through the arid desert partnered with Earth, trudging towards the horizon as waves of psychedelia and orchestra flutter in the air;  in the distance are the silhouettes of mountains under a burning Sun[n 0))]

Earth are an obvious influence, but Asva's music uses a much diverse range of sounds and atmospheres. Asva's first full-length, Futurist's Against The Ocean (2005),is the darkest of their three: a throbbing, unruly mix of slow doom rhythms and electronic sounds. Asva don't neglect the almighty riff from their music: slow and heavy, and on their first album in particular, they flow in to the mix like molten lava, gradual and crackling, with elements of traditional and funeral doom steaming from the fires. That's not to say there aren't any moments of speed and intensity (from the perspective of drone);  at 12.20 of 'A Game In Hell' from What You Don't Think Is Frontier, after twelve minutes of steady thunder, the drums kick in and pick up pace: heavy, galloping hooves and frontier men, wading through prairie grass and past wild-creatures in the new found-land. 

In 2010 vocalist and guitarist Toby Driver,  the creative mastermind behind avant-garde/progressive projects Maudlin Of The Well and Kayo Dot, joined the band for Presences of Absences (2011), their last full-length: an ethereal and spacey record combining soft organ sounds, wispy individual vocals, church-choir harmonies, mournful melodies and the occasional breakdown in to guitar-led heaviness. It's solemn and reflective, with the odd unsettling touch that sets a listener off balance. It's also hauntingly minimalist with Philip Glass-esque textures and Scott Walker-esque sparsity.

Asva are constantly developing  and changing, they defy concrete categorisation; like Earth and Sun o)) - two of the most important, and probably best, of this vague and wide-reaching style - Asva seem always willing to explore and change up their sound, you won't find monotony here.




Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Alphabetical Discovery - Week A, Day Four: Amebix





If you merged Lemmy's gravel-throated rock'n'roll, Ozzy's doomy midlands drawl, Tom. G. Warrior's oppressive pessimism and Killing Joke's metallic coldness you'd come close to producing the gravel-throated, anarcho-punk vocalist of Amebix: The Baron Rockin Von Aphid (a.k.a 'Rob Miller'). But 'The Baron' is too eccentric and authentic to flatly compare to others. Vocally, Dave Mustaine must have taken inspiration from The Baron; Mustaine's vocal deliveries, such as those semi-spoken worded croaks - as in 'Sweating Bullets' - is a hallmark of Amebix's unstable sound ('Feel a little numb? Feel a little tired?' The Baron croaks in the 'largactyl', the fourth song on Arise!, a song about former drummer Martin's spiral in to a paranoid schizophrenia in 1981).

Amebix - PhotoThought of as one of the pioneers of the Crust style - dirty, bass heavy. shifting tempos, guttural or grunted vocals, dark and pessimistic lyrics centered on social problems and political disenchantment - Amebix are a huge influence on a diverse range of bands. For Bathory and Darkthrone to credit Amebix  is profound; Darkthrone's more recent output has swayed towards the crust-punk atmospheres that Amebix mastered in the 80's with Arise! (1985) and Monolith (1987). 


Amebix's combination of sounds was staggering; our obsession with labeling was, probably for the better, non-existent in the early-days of extreme metal, but in their music is an eclectic mix-up of anarcho-punk, thrash, sludge, doom, heavy-metal, black-metal, industrial and noise. Praise for the band from Sepultura to Neurosis is an indication of the bands diversity. They were a band ahead of their time who embraced the  spectrum of extreme and dark musical genres, combining their sounds with to great effect.

Amebix returned, 24 years after Monolith, in 2011 with the spellbinding Sonic Mass, a much meatier, textured and industrial record that manages to maintain the darkness and angry energy of the earlier albums. It's staggeringly good and as far as comebacks go it's perhaps one of the best. It reminds me a lot of Cetlic Frost's Monotheist; both bands seem to have mastered the art of the oppressive and disconcerting atmosphere.