söndag 27 november 2011

Live undead

Death Wolf - Death Wolf
2011, Century Media

Being a huge fan of almost everything Glenn Danzig has put his voice to, it's no wonder I also became a fan of Devil's Whorehouse upon hearing their Revelation Unorthodox album a few years ago. The band oozed Danzig-ness. They weren't so much influenced by the earliest Misfits era, but rather the later years, around the time they broke up (Earth AD/Wolf's Blood) and their infamous frontman moved on to form Samhain with Brian Baker and Lyle Presslar from the remnants of Minor Threat. Devil's Whorehouse's music was a mix of fast heavy hardcore and thrash metal and the vocals were pure Samhain-Glenn. It was pastiche rather than parody. And it was actually really good. Particularly that album. The others though, left me vaguely disappointed. Then a few years roll by and the band resurfaces again, now with a new name - Death Wolf - signifying a move towards a sound more of their own; still unabashedly displaying their original influences proudly and openly, but also moving past it, to become more than just the-band-that-sounds-like-Misfits/Samhain.

Already on the opening track of their self titled album one notices a huge difference from the albums of the band's earlier incarnation; the riffs and rythms are less rooted in crossover/metal this time. It's heavier, it's rockier, punkier and bluesier. The vocals are both angrier and more relaxed and reminds me at times of Melvins frontman Buzz Osborne. Vocalist Maelstrom's voice still has a bit of that Danzig/Elvis twang to it, especially in the quieter, more emotional parts, but it's less apparent overall. There is also a sort of Dwid Hellion (Integrity) kind of snarling scream he uses in the faster, more furious tracks, like closer Dawn Of Flesh. The overall sound is less inspired by mid-eighties thrash metal than before; when it's hardcore it's pure hardcore and when it's metal it's pure metal, at times with a slow bluesy twist, if not in structure, then at least in melody. Think Entombed meets Melvins meets Earth AD-era Misfits meets early Danzig. This kicks so much ass it's unbelievable. Alot of the imagery is still very much steeped in that sensual, wet, warm occult darkness we've become accustomed to from both Danzig and Devil's Whorehouse but it feels less like a gimmick now and more like a cohesive whole that's actually part of an overall esthetic.

I know it may seem somewhat unfair to keep mentioning Glenn Danzig throughout this review, as if Death Wolf was nothing more than a fanboy-apes-their-hero-band, but the fact remains that much of what inspires these guys comes from that man. And to me it is as much a testament to his importance in modern heavy music, as it is to Death Wolf's vision and perseverance in creating something unique of their own, drawing influences from, but not limiting themselves to imitation of that man and his musical projects.

Death Wolf deserves much more attention than they seem to have garnered since the release of this album. They are hugely talented musicians and the rather oddly diverse musical threads they knit together in their songs fit as a whole in an ingenious and remarkable way. There's so much going on on this album it'll take many more spins for me to grasp it all. The range of moods and styles present on the album are so varied it's not really fair to call it just a metal album, nor would I call it hardcore (only a very few of the songs are actually that fast) and still it isn't a crossover album. It's just more and bigger and better than that.

torsdag 24 november 2011

You ain't so cool, I really can't take it. You've got an ugly face, you know I'm gonna break it!

Trenchfoot - Trenchfoot 7''

On their self-titled debut, New York's (the state, not the city, I think) Trenchfoot unleash ten tracks of sharp, quick and unrelenting modern hardcore with only minimal metal influences. It's not necessarily built on unwavering speed all the time but rather a sense of urgency and nervous aggression that's refreshing. Awesome breakdowns, fuelled by great riffs and sense of dynamics break up the frenetic pace of the songs and make them all really memorable. And the vocalist has a really cool Dwid meets Pushead thing going on that I dig immensely. Trenchfoot's particular style feels like it owes alot of it's existence to some of the heavier acts of the 80's HC era, like Septic Death, Corrosion Of Conformity, Sick Of It All and Die Kreuzen, rather than anything more recent; the tone of the music is dark and depressing and has a vicious streak that's oddly infectious. This is a short release, around nine minutes or so, recorded by Kurt Ballou (Converge), but it's really cool and really hope these guys stay the course because this ep is smoking hot.

onsdag 23 november 2011

Hardcore cluster bomb pt 4: Short and nasty

Hatewaves - The Tombs
2011, A389

I need to state this before I go on: this EP is TOO FUCKING SHORT! It just is. It needs to be at least twice as long, and then it'd still be too short. I mean c'mon guys, The Tombs is like four minutes long! What the hell?! I need to play this fucker on repeat like ten times to even begin to feel satisfied. So I'm expecting a full length real soon, like pronto, hear? Ok, good. That's settled then. Now onto what we actually do have here on this (way too fucking) short ep. Hatewaves plays a heavy, dirty mix of hardcore and grind that borders on power violence. The songs are (too fucking) short and to the point, like miniature nukes going off one after the other, in rapid succession, sometimes pried apart by weird interludes with samples and instrumental bits (well, one instrumental bit, really). There's lots of movement from blasting speeds to rumbling slow heavy parts but they are all (too fucking) brief so there's not any chance whatsoever of becoming bored for even a microsecond. The vocals are midrange burly screams which is awesome and a nice change to all the manic, high pitched pig-like shrieks and/or guttural, cookie-monster-throws-up-in-the-toilet-bowl growls that are so prevalent in heavy music these days. Like the equally (too fucking) short Taste The Beast ep before it, The Tombs is a rumbling monster of hardcore fury, but this time the music is more narrowly focused and nastier sounding. And a shitload heavier. These guys are moving in the right direction with what they're doing. I only wish they'd do it a little bit longer next time. You know like maybe ten minutes? Is that too much to ask? Oh, and what the hell's up with the cover art? I mean, seriously?

måndag 21 november 2011

Spawn of the ever-rolling abyss

Defeatist - Tyranny Of Decay
2011, Nerve Altar

I won't even try to pigeon-hole these guys into a genre. Is it grind? Yeah, sort of, but ... no not really. Hardcore? Umm, yeah well, yes but also no. Metal then? Yeah that too, but kind of not. In the end the only thing that counts is if it's any good. And Defeatist are good. Really good. They write catchy as hell riffs and saturate them with little twists and turns and semi-progressive flurries and huge helpings of blast beats. I love how they move flawlessly from fast bouncy punk riffs to menacing black metal-snarling melodies in no time at all and then without missing a beat crank up the blast beats. This is some really intense shit, but it's also very technical in a way that I rarely hear in bands like Defeatist, with breakneck turns and stops and weird time-signatures. There's a real sense of melody here, in the middle of all the sonic mayhem, that often reminds me of more progressive, jazzier, artists like Nomeansno and Converge (even though they in turn have basically nothing in common, besides being fucking amazing bands) and also a sense of off-beat dissonance in both riffing and melody. The vocal patterns and the vocals themselves give off a really dirty d-beat/black metal vibe, which, strangely, works really well with the music. These guys are something of a stand out within this weird anything-goes genre. They're both messier and more progressive than most of their peers. Two manically flailing thumbs up for Defeatist.

söndag 20 november 2011

Skin graft at 1.000 miles an hour

Dead In The Dirt - Fear
2011, Southern Lord

Dead In The Dirt's latest effort, simply titled Fear, offers up ten brief tracks of heavy as shit hardcore that mixes straight up 90's hardcore with elements of grind, d-beat and gritty death metal. None of the tracks move beyond the two minute mark, so it's all over in a flash. The brevity isn't really a problem; it only whets your appetite for repeated spins. The recording is extremely heavy and feels really dense, but in a good way. There's a gritty texture to the guitars and the drums sound great and are tight as hell. There's depth in the sound even though it's really really heavy, so even the basslines are clearly audible, which is a huge plus. I really dig the multiple vocal attacks and the way the songs are structured; they never become tedious, mainly because they're too short to become boring, but also because there's a shitload of stuff going on in every song. It's not spastic in that often enervating mathy sense, but more like something honed and stripped down to it's bare bones. There's no redundancy here. I can't and won't make any comparisons to other bands, except to say that DITD moves in the same, somewhat murky, territory as bands such as Nails, Defeatist, Naysayer and Full Of Hell.

fredag 18 november 2011

Apathy in the UK

The Rotted - Ad Nauseam
2011, Candlelight Records

Following searinlgy hot on the heels of last years Anarchogram EP, brit death metal quartet The Rotted's new album, Ad Nauseam, continues along the same lines as it's predecessor, dishing out fucking stellar death metal, painted with a brush dipped in punk attitude and sound as well as a murky hue of crustiness. These songs ooze a drunken youthful disregard and disdain for conformity and normalcy and flips the middle-finger at just about everybody ("fuck the left and fuck the right, stand straight or fall in line. No gods, no laws, no lies, until I die") even though these guys all must be in the thirties now. Which is impressive in itself because this type of attitude can often become just, well, sad, when done not quite right. But it's also impressive on another level, because that attitude and (a?)political fury was never really apparent in the band's past incarnation, Gorerotted. The band morphed into it's present form after Gorerotted dissolved due to "creative differences", that catch-all reason of seemingly all break-ups in the music industry. I actually didn't 'discover' Gorerotted until they were already gone, and even though I actually really enjoy their abrasive, dirty take on gore-death metal (which is a rare thing, since songs called Stab Me 'Til I Cum and Gagged, Shagged & Bodybagged, while funny, rarely inspire confidence in me, unless they're written by either Carcass or Exhumed) the music of Gorerotted doesn't even come close to The Rotted. I knew as soon as I heard the first few pummeling bars of opener Anarchogram Sun, with its stripped down, thunderous bassline, like some Bolth Thrower war machine, rolling over a heavy d-beat, that I would fucking love this album. And each song thereafter only solidified that first crucial impression. There are a few tracks that harkens back, somewhat, to the bands gorier more technical style as Gorerotted but they never fully commit to pure Carcass worship anywhere on the album, which, to me, benefits their style, as well as the album. Some of these songs are ridiculously catchy. And I mean this in a good way. At times The Rotted remind me of a less technical, brittish, version of Misery Index, with their equally punky attitude towards modern death metal. And while we're on the subejct of bands I'm reminded of while listening to Ad Nauseam, there is a huge Entombed vibe going on in Non Serviam, with its anthemic, fist pumping chorus of "I will not serve!" and chugging, very basic, very 'metal-y' chord progression. And it's perhaps that, at times, simplistic style that attracts me to The Rotted's music. Don't get me wrong, these guys are are highly proficient musicians and really talented song writers. And it's exactly that great ability to use simplicity to their advantage that, at least in part, make them such great song writers. Why complicate shit when there's no need? There's enough diversity here to sate anyone into this kind of drink- and drug-fuelled (they're brits, so of course substance abuse is heavily involved here: I mean they have songs called Drink Myself to Death and Angel Of Meth) sonic rebellion. Admittedly the brunt of the music is fast, often ultra fast, with hyper-speed tremolo picking and blast beats, but there's lots of variation and lots of different moods displayed on Ad Nauseam even though much of the fare has a real solid in your face 'fuck you' attitude to it. This is for fans of death metal and hardcore punk alike. Killer shit for real.

måndag 14 november 2011

On Earth as it is in Hell

Yeah I know, it's been a while. I won't make excuses, I won't pretend you really give a shit if this blog exists or not and I won't waste anymore of your or my time with this preamble. New shit I've listened to these past few days reviewed below.

Sulaco - Build and Burn
2011, Handshake Inc

Sulaco has been around since 2003 and even though I've seen the name around and heard of them I'd never made an effort to actually track anything of theirs down. It turns out I'm a bit of a fuckhead. Because I should've. Sulaco oozes energy from every available pore and orifice. There is a Converge-meets-Trap-Them sense of unstoppable urgency going on here that's impossible to not get hooked on. There are semi-mathy prog parts, lots of insane almost b-horror movie like melodies and a huge dose of Brutal Truth grindness/weirdness, both rythm-wise and in the riffing. The more I listen to this album the more I get an almost caleidoscopic feeling off of Build and Burn. I mean, shit there's a huge death metal presence here, loads of dirty punk as well as an almost, well, dare I say it...emo-esque sense of melody. There are heavy as fuck sludgy, almost doomy, parts and there are pure blast beat sections that weave in and out of it all, often driven by those mathy odd horror movie melodies. I am so incredibly pleased to have finally gotten my shit togehther to listen to Sulaco because it's most definately worth it.

Young Hunter - Children of a Hungry World

Young Hunter, hailing from Tucson, Arizona, sounds like they just stepped out of a time warp straight from the late sixties and they spin huge, epic doom yarns mixed with drugged out psychedelic rock and stoner elements in a way that completely blew me away. There are even black metal-ish segments thrown in for good measure, with blast beats and all! Amazing. This is living-in-a-van-smoking-dope-kinda-music, it's I-wanna-move-to-the-desert-and-do-peyote-music, this is Charlie-Manson-is-a-friend-of-mine-and-he's-groovy-kinda-music. With a modern twist that somehow eludes my attempts to pin down. Imagine mixing Jefferson Airplane, Black Sabbath and Kyuss and letting it all pass through the digestive system of both Boyd Rice and Hunter S. Thompson. That's what Young Hunter sounds like. Kinda. Their stuff is available through bandcamp. Go there and listen for yourself.

UFO Gestapo - Grandemmisair
2011, Streaks Records

Grandemissair is the latest offering from vaguely proggy, heavy doom dealers UFO Gestapo. There's a huge Sabbath presence in these songs but there's also a dirty, ADD-kind of punk vibe going on that's a bit Black Flagg-y if you get my drift. This isn't only all-out sludge in the EyeHateGod sense of the word, but there are lots of loose structures here, lots of weird, noisy parts and lots of spaced out jams. But there are also brief, wicked, blasts of unrestrained hardcore fury, that break up the plodding monotony that's inevitable in this kind of music. There is a strong sense of 80's hardcore to some of these songs, reminding me at times of bands like Flipper and early The Melvins. I know next to nothing about the band except that they're apparently from France and that this is their second full length release so far. Really good stuff.