Bölzer – Hero

Genre: Black/Death | Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Location: Zurich, Switzerland | Listen: YouTube

The Swiss-based duo known as Bölzer have certainly been making waves over the last few years thanks to the strength of their 2013 EP, “Aura.” Their demo and follow-up EP also have helped create quite a lot of hype for the band. With performances across the globe, the question still remained: could Bölzer capture the magic of their shorter releases and create a full length worthy of the hype? Fans have spent the last two years longing to hear this black/death metal’s massive riffage take over with a long playing format, but ultimately, they were not able to meet their goal.

bolzerhero

First, let’s discuss the production here: it’s a very professional sounding recording that’s well balanced, giving space to all the instruments, especially giving the drums room to resonate and a gnarly tone to the guitars. This wasn’t a huge surprise for me, although I’m sure some fans will dislike the cleaner approach compared to the EPs.

The reason Bölzer’s EPs got so hyped is really simple: their riffs are colossally heavy. There are some moments of that here on “Hero,” however, a lot of these riffs fall short of the standard the band gave us initially. Instead, the band’s writing has shifted from stellar riffs to making the vocals the focal point. To me, this is what separates metal/punk/extreme music in general from pop music, and Bölzer have done themselves a huge disservice with this approach. Throughout this record, I found myself cringing at the clean singing. This isn’t to say I think clean singing has no place in extreme music. Bands like Paradise Lost or even more recent acts like Vastum have managed to utilize interesting types of clean vocals that are dark and add so much more to their music. Perhaps Bölzer could’ve got away with what they’ve done here if they added more delay/reverb to these parts, but I think more importantly, the riffs aren’t there to support such experimentation in the vocal department.

Indeed, the first couple tracks, “Archer” and “Hero,” did not give me much hope for this record. Both songs are pretty mid-paced and meander around with their choruses sounding like fingernails on chalkboard. Some may feel the singing to be out of tune/key, but most will agree it’s strange either way. In fact, these two songs make the clean singing on the album’s initial premiere track, “I Am III” sound not so ridiculous. At least that track has some interesting riffage, where as these first two songs do not.

“Phosphor” is by far the best track on this album, and it’s no coincidence it doesn’t feature any off-kilter vocals at all. In fact, it’s pretty minimal on the vocals (which are mostly aggressively shouted). The tempo of this song is more lively too which lends to my enjoyment of it. “Spiritual Athleticism” is the next best track on this album, and again, it has to do with the quicker pace, and the clean vocals on this track are probably the best ones on the album.

So just as this album starts to feel like it’s not a total let down, it teases the listener by saving the worst song for last, “Chlorophyllia.” The song does start off promising by having the only blast beat on the record. But right away, it descends into just down right silliness with an “OOH-AH!” chorus over some pretty stale riffing. Just before you start thinking that the song couldn’t get worse, it does, with some generic “see you on the other side” lyrics and the cringiest clean singing on the whole album.

I really wanted to like “Hero.” A lot of fans wrote the album off after hearing the first single, but I didn’t want that kind of hive mind to keep me away from the full album. However, after hearing it the first time, I was let down, and subsequent listens have been a chore and ultimately an undesirable listening experience. Honestly, after reviewing this LP, I don’t think I’ll be listening to it again. Bölzer came up short here, and you’re better off sticking to their EPs/demo. I’m not normally the kind of person who gets turned off by vocal experimentation when it comes to metal, but when that’s the focus of the record and the riffs take the backseat, that’s the result. Maybe Bölzer can redeem themselves in the future, whether they stick to short formats or by taking more time when it comes to a full length.

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Godflesh – Streetcleaner

Genre: Industrial Metal | Label: Earache
Location: Birmingham, England| Listen: YouTube

Back in 1989, former Napalm Death guitarist Justin Broadrick released his debut full length with his new band, Godflesh. For those expecting an extension of his work with the seminal grind act, “Streetcleaner” would come as a surprise. However, for those who have followed the trajectory of Broadrick’s career, Godflesh’s sound comes as no surprise, as he had been involved in a couple of noisier experimental acts, Fall of Because and Head of David, that foreshadowed the industrial sound that Godflesh would be known for.

godflesh streetcleaner

“Streetcleaner” is an album made up of two recording sessions on the LP, with an additional session’s tracks added onto the CD version. As a result, the CD ends up being over an hour long, but kind of plays out like you’re listening to three distinct, yet cohesive EPs on one disc that adds up to the quintessential industrial metal album.

The first five tracks feature the line up of Justin Broadrick and his longtime collaborator, JC Green. These tracks are probably the most groove driven ones on the LP, but make no mistake, they are devastatingly heavy. The album starts off strong with one of Godflesh’s most well known tunes, “Like Rats,” which displays a ferocious groove with a noisy bridge section. Following that, we get “Christbait Rising,” which is arguably the grooviest track on the record, taking an old school hip hop influence on the main beat. As a side note, whenever people talk about how metal and hip-hop shouldn’t mix, I feel this track proves that sentiment wrong. Thankfully, Godflesh’s hip-hop influence is strictly seen in the beats, and there are no attempts at rapping. The vocals are aggressively shouted and drenched in reverb, which is as far as the Napalm Death connection goes in terms of the music.

The next five tracks are where things start to get cold and induce feelings of anxiety, isolation, and defeat. These tracks were recorded with a second guitarist, Paul Neville, who was also a member of Fall of Because with Broadrick and Green. In fact, the tracks “Mighty Trust Crusher,” “Devastator,” and “Life is Easy” can be traced back to this early incarnation of Godflesh. These tracks in particular have an approach that could be compared to early Swans. Due to the dual guitar attack of Broadrick and Neville, there’s emphasis on discordant lead work that bands like Pitchshifter would incorporate into their interpretation of industrial metal. The final track of this part of the album, “Locust Furnace,” is an excellent display of desolation and wraps things up nicely.

As I mentioned before, the CD has an additional third session worth of tracks from an unreleased EP known as “Tiny Tears.” These tracks were recorded between the recording of this LP and their debut eponymous EP. They are a little more riff based, just like the Godflesh EP is, and have more in common with the first side of the album (which may also have to do with the absence of Neville on these tracks as well). “Wound” is the standout track from this part of the CD, as it’s main riff is heavy enough to bring down a city block’s worth of buildings.

“Streetcleaner” makes one thing clear: Godflesh was carving a path for many industrial acts to follow, as well as quite the precursor to the rest of the band’s career. Later in their discography, Godflesh experimented with quite a variety of sounds outside of metal, including some more dance oriented EBM/trip-hop/etc sounds. None of that is really found here, as guitar/bass/drum machine is the main driving force here. There is a reason this album is seen as a classic, and anyone who’s wanting to hear proper industrial metal needs to have this in their collection.

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Begrime Exemious “Eviscerating Pestilential Shrines of the West MMXVI” Tour

In support of our new full length, Begrime Exemious will be crossing the border once again to play a string of shows on the west coast US/Canada.

Begrime-Tour-2016

September 1 – Kamloops, BC @ The Office w/ Watchdog, Wormhold
September 2 – Vancouver BC @ Astoria w/ TBA
September 3 – Seattle, WA @ The Highline w/ Drawn & Quartered, Oxygen Destroyer
September 4 – Portland, OR @ The Panic Room w/ Petrifacation
September 5 – Salem, OR @ The Space
September 6 – Sacramento, CA @ The Starlight Lounge w/ Crawl
September 7 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Blue Lagoon w/ Gloam, Moirai
September 8 – San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick w/ Seraphic Disgust, Xantam
September 9 – Los Angeles, CA @ The 5 Star Bar
September 10 – Oakland, CA @ The Golden Bull
September 11 – Eugene, OR @ Old Nick’s w/ Mortuary Drape, Predatory Light

Anticipated 2016 Releases

Here’s a list of upcoming releases for 2016 that I’m looking forward to hearing.  I’ll be updating this list periodically.

Abhomine – Larvae Offal Swine LP [New Pete Helmkamp project]
Absu – Apsu LP [The conclusion to the band’s latest trilogy of albums]
AHNA – Crimson Dawn LP [They get better with every release.]
Blood Incantation – Starspawn LP [Heard some of this right from the label, this will a monument of technical death metal]
Bloody Master/Sempiternal Dusk – Split LP [Pacific northwest death doom]
The Body – No One Deserves Happiness LP [Portland sludge that’s always pushing forward]
The Body & Full of Hell – One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache [The Body make great collab albums!]
Bone Sickness – Debut LP [Repulsion meets Autopsy from Washington State.]
Deceased – Ghostly White LP [It’s Deceased. Enough said.]
Destroyer 666 – Wildfire LP [New songs sound way better than the last LP already]
Funebrarum – Exhumation of the Ancient mLP [US Death metal with a new line up]
Gadget – The Great Destroyer LP [First LP in 10 years, Nasum style grind]
Gorguts – Pleiades’ Dust EP [A single song from the masters of technical death metal.]
Grave Miasma – Endless Pilgrimage mLP [Dark UK death metal]
Incantation – 10th LP [Favourite death metal band re-signs to Relapse, no question this will be heavy.]
Interment – Scent of the Buried LP [Swedish death metal boasting a huge low end]
Inverloch – Distance | Collapsed LP [diSEMBOWELMENT reborn.]
Knelt Rote – 4th LP [“Trespass” was incredible, high hopes for this black/grind fusion.]
Lantern – 2nd LP [Heard some directly from the label, heavy stuff.]
Massgrave – The Absuridty of Humanity LP [Canada’s crust/grind masters 3rd full length]
Neurosis – 11th Album [Do I need to say anything?]
Paroxsihzem – Abyss of Excruciating Vexes mLP [Preview track sounds like their most vicious work to date]
Putrescence – Voiding Upon the Pulverized LP [Heard a pre-mix, Canada’s goregrind/death metal masters will go out on top.]
Ritual Chamber – Obscurations (To Feast On The Seraphim) LP [Cavernous death metal]
Ritual Necromancy – 2nd LP [Buzzsaw tones, Incantation riffs, gotta hear this.]
Rude – 2nd LP [OSDM worship from the Bay Area.]
Rotten Sound – Abuse to Suffer LP [Finnish grind masters, first album in 5 years.]
Sect Pig – Crooked Backs EP [Abstract black metal]
Sect Pig – Praying Prey EP [Unable to pull away]
Veneficium – Demo [New Zealand band with members of prominent bands out there]
Venomous Concept – Kick Me Silly LP [Hardcore punk supergroup.]
Wake – Sowing the Seeds of a Worthless Tomorrow LP [Deathspell Omega meets Nasum. Sounds amazing.]
Weregoat – 2nd LP [Bestial metal from Portland, always delivers.]

Begrime Exemious – The Enslavement Conquest

 

The third Begrime Exemious album, “The Enslavement Conquest,” will be released this March on CD/LP/digital on Dark Descent Records. It features 9 brand new songs of savage thrashing death metal in addition to an Incantation cover. Listen to “Noose for a Monarch,” which is streaming online courtesy of Decibel Magazine. 

Begrime Exemious - The Enslavement Conquest

Track List:
1. Cradled in Our Hands
2. Overpowered (Under Siege)
3. Transcendence
4. Rat Amongst the Herd
5. Conscription Woes
6. Subconscious Nemesis
7. Noose for a Monarch
8. Impending Diabolical Conquest (Incantation cover)
9. Crusade Towards Self Devolution
10. When the Vultures Leave

Lineup:
D. Orthner – Vocals, Guitar
F. Thibaudeau – Guitar, Vocals
A. Rintoul – Bass
L. Norland – Drums

“The Enslavement Conquest” was recorded in the first half of 2015 by Lee Norland, mixed by Derek Orthner, mastered by Dan Lowndes at Resonance Sound Studio (UK), with artwork by Mark Riddick.

I’ve never been more proud of anything I’ve ever done, musically or otherwise. This is the first album we’ve done with myself handling lead vocals and penning all the lyrics. I was also responsible for all the mixing and the layouts for the CD/LP. The LP will be available in both black and gold wax. Shows in west Canada and a tour of the west coast US will be executed throughout 2016 in support of “The Enslavement Conquest.”

Cemetery Filth / Ectovoid / Sabbatory / Trenchrot – 4 Doors to Death

Genre: Death Metal | Label: Unspeakable Axe Records
Location: Various| Listen: Bandcamp

Unspeakable Axe Records has been making quite a splash in the metal underground over the past few years. The Dark Descent sub-label has been releasing quality death and thrash metal in the old school vein since their inception. Their latest release, “4 Doors to Death,” features four ripping death metal bands across ten tracks that comes together as the first worthwhile release I’ve heard this year.

4 doors front

The first three tracks are by Cemetery Filth, who have recently emerged out of Tennessee. Their songs are full of furious death/thrash riffs that stem out of the Morbid Angel school. I wasn’t really aware of these guys until this split was announced, and they only had a lone demo prior to this release. Needless to say, what these guys are doing is pretty exciting. The riffs are drenched in evil, and are sure to satisfy any old school death metal fan. Even the production sounds like Mike Browning era Morbid Angel. This is old school death metal to the bone, and Cemetery Filth will hopefully put out a full length if these songs are any indication of what to expect in the future.

4 doors cemetery filth

Coming next is Ectovoid, a dark death metal band from Alabama. They’ve put out a couple of albums, and much like Cemetery Filth, I was inclined to check some of their material out in anticipation of this split. The two tracks they present on the split are very dark, which becomes apparent within seconds. The first track will satisfy Incantation/Disciples of Mockery fans with it’s contrast of blasts and churning death/doom sections. Ectovoid’s second offering switching gears to a looser Autopsy feel, complete with infectiously evil melodies. These are probably the “rawest” sounding songs on the split, but by no means is that a negative. It fits the cavernous style these guys are going on, and helps muster up a suffocating atmosphere.

4 doors ectovoid

The main reason I was anticipating “4 Doors to Death” has to do with the next two bands. Sabbatory’s debut album was one of my favourites of 2014, as it was morbid journey of twisted riffs in the vein of Morgoth. These Canadians from Winnipeg return with a new track and a cover. The band hits full throttle with their first track, displaying more and more ferocity as the song goes on. Sabbatory’s riffs morph by way of rhythmic variety (punk beats, blasts, pummeling double kick work, etc), and are successful due to tight interplay between the drums and guitar picking.  The vocals sound more like Martin van Drunen than ever, and Asphyx/Pestilence also appear to have their influence in the riffs. Their Mortuary Drape cover is savage, and if you weren’t aware that it was a cover, you’d think this was one of their own songs. These are probably the best sounding tracks on the split, and the sheer energy of the performances makes it the highlight for me.

4 doors sabbatory

The final three songs belong to Philadelphia’s Trenchrot. Trenchrot obviously worship Bolt Thrower and various other death metal classics, and their 2014 album was another favourite from that year. Here we get more of the same, starting off with a slow riff that builds up into a warlike blitzkrieg of death metal. Plenty of midpaced grooves with double kick work break up the songs, and this is definitely where the Bolt Thrower influence is apparent. My only complaint about Trenchrot’s recording is that the kick drum sounds odd. On previous recordings, the drums have always been really loud, but here it just sounds overly compressed. That aside, these are some seriously solid slabs of death metal, complete with some top notch lead guitar and a Death cover to boot.

4 doors trenchrot

Label head Eric Musall really did a wonderful job putting together this split. Anyone who’s ever been involved in a split can tell you the potential for headaches in regards to coordinating more than one band for a release, and in this case, we have four bands that all managed to put forth quality material. If that doesn’t earn him any credit, you have to give it up to him for contributing artwork (the Sabbatory one in particular is incredible), layouts, and even some audio engineering. “4 Doors to Death” is home run, and it’s great to see a project of this scope come out so well.

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Top Releases of 2015

Reminiscing and reflecting on events of the last year is always a common theme once December rolls around. In regards to music, there’s been plenty of great releases that I’ve come across from a variety of genres. Although mostly death metal, there have been some solid albums outside that style that have given me much enjoyment. So here is my list of my favourite 2015 releases, categorized by release type, and sorted alphabetically. Streaming links have been included.

LPs:
Abyss – Heretical Anatomy [Death metal from Toronto, ON. 20 Buck Spin. Bandcamp]
In 20 minutes, these Canucks crank out some serious Swedish-style death metal with a clear crust foundation that sounds somewhere between Entombed and Repulsion.

Adversarial – Death, Endless Nothing and the Black Knife of Nihilism [Death metal from Toronto, ON. Dark Descent Records. Bandcamp]
Sophomore full length that sucks you into a pit of razors and reduces you to black bile. Album of the year.

Ares Kingdom – The Unburiable Dead [Death/thrash from Kansas City, MO. Nuclear War Now! Productions. Bandcamp]
Third full length effort by legendary midwest death thrashers. Epic songwriting and pounding riffs.

The Body & Thou – Release from Love / You, Whom I Always Have Hated [Sludge from Portland, OR & Baton Rouge, LA. Thrill Jockey Records. Bandcamp]
Neurosis inspired sludge by two bands coming together to create a really heavy record.

Cannibal Ox – Blade of the Ronin [Hip Hop from Brooklyn, NY. iHipHop Distribution. Soundcloud]
My only hip-hop choice that I was really into this year, Can Ox return with their follow up to 2001’s “Cold Vein.”

Cruciamentum – Charnel Passages [Death metal from England. Profound Lore Records. Stream]
Incantation inspired death metal that sounds cavernous but was recorded by extremely competent hands. Perfect balance of tones.

Crypt Sermon – Out of the Garden [Doom metal from Philadelphia, PA. Dark Descent Records. Bandcamp]
Members of Trenchrot/Unrest playing heavy doom metal with a good dose of Dio/Tony Martin era Sabbath. Big hooks ahead.

G.O.D. – Body Horror [Goregrind from Peterborough, ON. Blastasfuk Grindcore. Bandcamp]
Taking influence from the best old school death metal, grindcore, and crust bands, these gore-mongers really grind hard.

Goatsnake – Black Age Blues [Stoner doom metal from Los Angeles, CA. Southern Lord Records. Bandcamp]
Goatsnake’s comeback album proves to be more upbeat than some of their previous material but it’s very infectious with it’s blues driven riffage.

Grave Ritual – Morbid Throne [Death metal from New Orleans, LA. Dark Descent Records. Bandcamp]
Fat-free death metal that gets down to business with sinfully catchy riffs. This follow up LP is a set up from their already excellent debut.

Gruesome – Savage Land [Death metal from California/Florida. Relapse Records. Bandcamp]
Fans of late 80’s/early 90’s Death have to hear this record. Matt Harvey of Exhumed and friends pay tribute to the founding death metal act.

Hooded Menace – Darkness Drips Forth [Death metal from Finland. Relapse Records. Bandcamp]
This band never seems to let up on putting out quality death doom. I don’t think they’ll ever top the debut, but their approach of combining Candlemass melodies over heavy death/doom proves golden.

Horrendous – Anareta [Death metal from Philadelphia, PA/Columbia, SC. Dark Descent Records. Bandcamp]
Following up their highly acclaimed sophomore album from last year, Horrendous unleashes another slab of death metal that utilizes a lot of melody (reminding me of “Testimony of the Ancients”). I didn’t like the last one that much, but this one is definitely more on point. A+ production as well.

Iskra – Ruins [Black metal from Victoria, BC. Black Raven Records. Bandcamp]
The third LP from this modern classic Canadian band is some of their best work. They’ve pretty much crossed over to a full on Scandi-black metal sound, and I’m a fan.

Napalm Death – Apex Predator – Easy Meat [Grindcore from England. Century Media. Youtube]
Some of the most dynamic Napalm Death in years, these grindcore legends keep it fresh by injecting a lot of dirge driven desolation into their 15th full length.

Perdition Temple – The Tempter’s Victorious [Death metal from Tampa, FL. Hells Headbangers Records. Bandcamp]
The best thing that Gene Palubicki has done since Angelcorpse’s “The Inexorable.” Having a full line up really helped this record stand out among the crap he’s released in the last 10 years.

Pissgrave – Suicide Euphoria [Death metal from Philadelphia, PA. Profound Lore Records. Bandcamp]
The artwork sums this record up well – fucking disgusting. Real blasty and filthy death metal with Deicide-esque vocals.

Revenge – Behold.Total.Rejection [Black metal from Edmonton, AB. Season of Mist. Soundcloud]
Edmonton’s own Revenge has certainly made themselves a cult classic, and their fifth album continues down the savage path of war metal that was first traveled under the Conqueror banner.

Rhythm of Cruelty – Saturated [Post-Punk/Industrial from Edmonton, AB. Mass Media Records. Bandcamp]
After releasing their excellent debut “Dysphoria” last year, these dirge-y post-punkers have pushed their music to even more mature territories. Absolutely love it.

Scaphe – Long Way Down [Hardcore/Alt Rock from Minneapolis, MN. Insides Music. Bandcamp]
Taking influence from a variety of bands, such as Dinosaur Jr. and their local legends Husker Du, Scaphe’s sophomore record is a dynamic journey of sonic brilliance.

Shroud of the Heretic – Unorthodox Equilibrium [Death metal from Portland, OR. Iron Bonehead Productions. Bandcamp]
Four tracks of creepy death metal from the Pacific Northwest. They conjure up a similar feel to Deathspell Omega but with a more death metal aesthetic.

Suffering Mind – Wastefarm [Grindcore from Poland. 365 Thrashcore. Bandcamp]
Suffering Mind just doesn’t stop putting out quality grindcore. These Polish grinders have a frantic pace to their music that outdoes most of their peers.

Unrest – Grindcore [Grindcore from Philadelphia, PA. Unspeakable Axe Records. Bandcamp]
A project of Trenchrot/Crypt Sermon members that took its time to see the light of day. Fans of Nasum will love this record for it’s varied approach and big hooks.

Vastum – Hole Below [Death metal from San Francisco, CA. 20 Buck Spin. Bandcamp]
Bay area death metallers Vastum have returned with their third full length of suffocating death metal. They have yet to disappoint.

Weed – Running Back [Alt rock/grunge from Vancouver, BC. Lefse Records. Bandcamp]
This Vancouver based/Wisconsin born band bangs out some grungy tunes in the vein of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. This is a really chill record and it has a lot of replay value.

The Weir – Calmness of Resolve [Sludge/doom metal from Calgary, AB. Bandcamp]
Taking the Neurosis/Isis sound, The Weir produces some earth trembling heaviness drenched in melancholy.

EPs/Demos:
AHNA – Perpetual Warfare [Death metal/crust from Vancouver, BC. Choking Hazard/Neanderthal Stench. Bandcamp]
The stench of death that AHNA has unleashed on this mLP is unreal. Crusty Bolt Thrower worship that has it’s own unique voice. My favourite short release of the year.

Autopsy – Skull Grinder [Death metal from Oakland, CA. Peaceville. Youtube]
Death metal legends Autopsy have been going strong since reforming. 2015 sees their new mLP spill forth filth and doom, just as you’d expect from Autopsy.

Besieged – s/t 7” [Death/thrash from Winnipeg, MB. Unspeakable Axe Records. Bandcamp]
After forging a relationship with Unspeakable Axe records to properly release the “Victims Beyond All Help” album, the altar of Sepultura is further worshiped with two new tracks from these Winnipeg death thrashers.

Blood Incantation – Interdimensional Extinction [Death metal from Colorado. Dark Descent Records. Bandcamp]
Proper technical death metal should have hooks, and Blood Incantation do that just right with their sci-fi themed death metal. Fans of Demilich and Timeghoul have to hear this.

Languid – 4 Tracks Live [D-beat from Edmonton, AB. Self Released. Bandcamp]
I recorded this demo, so I’m totally bias, but I love how it turned out despite the fact that it was done in just a matter of days from recording to mastering. Fans of Green Beret, Warcry, and Discharge in general should take note of these Edmonton crusties.

Messiahlator – Demo 2015 [Death metal/Crust from Edmonton, AB. Self Released. Bandcamp]
Another demo I’m totally biased about as I handled all the audio work for it, but again I’m very pleased with the final results. Perfect combination of Swedish death metal and crust with a pinch of sludge. Certainly some of the finest in Edmonton.

Spectral Voice – Necrotic Doom [Death/doom metal from Colorado. Self released. Bandcamp]
Members of Blood Incantation also play in a death/doom band that will satisfy anyone who’s into stuff like diSEMBOWELMENT or Winter.

Trenchgrinder – Demo 2015 [Death metal from Brooklyn, NY. Self released. Bandcamp]
Savage Bolt Thrower worship out of NYC, Trenchgrinder returns with a second demo that’ll convince you to drive a tank into your neighbour’s house.

Witchrist – Vritra [Death metal from New Zealand. Iron Bonehead Productions. Bandcamp]
Easily their best material since “Beheaded Ouroboros,” these Kiwis churned out a cross between Pestilence and Bolt Thrower to make a solid three track EP.

Splits:
Black Witchery/Revenge – Holocaustic Death March to Humanity’s Doom [Black metal from Florida/Edmonton, AB. Nuclear War Now! Productions. Bandcamp]
This is like the sequel to the Black Witchery/Conqueror split, with years of experience behind it. Savage war metal pairing, and was a great way to get hyped for the new Revenge LP.

Blood Incantation/Spectral Voice 7″ [Death metal from Colorado. Bleak Environment/Woodsmoke. BI side, SV side]
These two bands made the list already with their EP/demos, so of course this split 7″ is also fantastic.

Vassafor/Temple Nightside – Call of the Maelstrom [Black/death metal from New Zealand/Australia. Iron Bonehead Productions. Bandcamp]
A pairing of oceanic black/death metal, and likely the best material from both bands.

Witchrist/Antediluvian 7″ [Death metal from New Zealand/Edmonton, AB. Martyrdoom Productions. A side]
This split was planned years ago, as the Antediluvian side was recorded at the time of the “Revelations in Excrement” EP, but the Witchrist side was only recorded recently alongside the aforementioned “Vritra” EP.

Noothgrush – Entropy

Genre: Sludge | Label: Fuck Yoga Records
Location: Oakland, CA, USA| Listen: Bandcamp

In regards to sludge, there are three bands I consider to be essential to the genre: Eyehategod, Grief, and Noothgrush. Noothgrush never released as much material as the other two bands, but they’ve certainly left their mark on the genre. While Eyehategod incorporates more punkier grooves in their music, and Grief is usually set on slow crawls, Noothgrush straddles that middle line between the two approaches.

noothgrush entropy front

Having reformed in 2011 after a ten year hiatus, Noothgrush haven’t wasted any time putting out new releases. There’s been a few releases of old material, and there’s been some new material: the split 12″ with Coffins, and this 7″. The band looks a little different now, with Dino Sommese (former Dystopia drummer) taking over the vocal department. That being said, Noothgrush sound like they haven’t missed a beat, and “Entropy” certainly doesn’t sound like the band was broken up for ten years.

“Entropy” consists of two tracks – the A-side title-track, and an old song re-recorded for the B-side. Both are solid slabs of sludge. The A-side embodies the main qualities that made Noothgrush so amazing in their initial existence: big riffs that groove along to pounding drums, with savagely screamed vocals that can tear through flesh. As the song grooves along, it breaks down into an even slower part, increasing the magnitude of heaviness put forth. The outro of this track is cool too, it has a nice melody that leaves a feeling of desolation.

The B-side, as I mentioned, is an old song that was re-recorded for this 7″. “Life Shatters into Pieces of Anguish” was originally on the band’s 1994 demo, and appears here with a twist: Dino sings on this song. His singing voice sounds kind of like Ozzy but less nasally, which is fitting for a sludge/doom metal band. The feeling of agony is really displayed well thanks to the vocal performance. Again, this song has a fantastic break about 3/4 of the way through, entering devastating realms of slow riffage.

noothgrush entropy back

This is a really solid 7″, and both songs benefit from thick guitar/bass tones and a pounding drum sound. I’m glad Noothgrush decided to record some new material, even if it’s only been a handful of songs. Based on that, I’m sure a full length would be welcomed, but if they choose just to release smaller releases, I won’t complain. Thankfully, the price of this EP is very affordable, and anyone who digs Noothgrush should get their hands on it.

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