Thursday, November 25, 2010

Again, Short Bursts II

Here comes another deluge of albums for your consideration. Keeping it short…

Offending Human Concept

Deep Send Records

Offending MySpace

The OSDM revival hits the shores of France in the form of the debut full-length from Offending, but Human Concept is not quite straightforward OSDM, though. Besides the necessary downtuned guitars with choppy, meat and potatoes riffs and so on, Offending ramp up the speed a bit, approaching the music perhaps just a tad faster than is usually the case on most recent OSDM releases. Hell, Offending even attempt to add a few doses of technicality as if they’ve endeavored to have studied at the feet of Mohammed Suicmez with some fluid guitar work.

Don’t get too concerned, however, as Offending are sloppy enough to tone back the technical aspects of their music just the right amount, and are catchy as all get out with a huge, bottom heavy production. In short, Offending are another solid OSDM band, indeed, from Deep Send Records, a label that is increasingly releasing quality albums.

Crucifyre Infernal Earthly Divine

Pulverised Records

Crucifyre MySpace

More OSDM from Pulverised Records, a label that is pretty much a “must get” with regards to just about every release fired my way (OK, they’ve had a stinker or two, and some mediocre ones, as well; see below). Crucifyre, yet another Swedish act, are treading the hallowed ground between death and thrash metal, but not really in the Swedish sense. Similar to my recent look at California’s Deadly Remains, Crucifyre are firing forth, and stealing, solid riffs from bands of yesteryear such as the early versions of Slayer, Possessed, Dark Angel, and so on.

The riffs are infectious, the lyrics blasphemous, and the assault comes at you full throttle with a good production for this sort of thing. Once again, I ask, what’s not to like? Solid OSDM, yet again!

Encoffination Ritual Ascension Beyond Flesh

Selfmadegod Records

Encoffination MySpace

Bottom heavy, deep, deadly funeral doom/ death metal, released on cassette and vinyl only, no less, is not exactly what comes to mind with releases from Selfmadegod Records. But, that’s exactly what you get with Ritual Ascension Beyond Flesh from Encoffination. A duo splitting time between Georgia and Texas, Encoffination play what could obviously be pigeon-holed as funeral doom, but Encoffination actually speed it up a bit. The result of this amalgamation of styles is an extremely heavy, slightly slower version of dark death metal bands such as Incantation, and fits squarely between the funeral doom and death metal genres.

Not too many bands are treading these waters, perhaps the similarly named Coffins for one, but Encoffination are heavy enough to satisfy most funeral doom purists, and are “fast” enough to satisfy connoisseurs of dark death metal. The songwriting’s not too bad, either; judge for yourself. Yeah, the album only appears on cassette or vinyl.

Lightning Swords Of Death The Extra Dimensional Wound

Metal Blade Records

Lightning Swords Of Death MySpace

Lightning Swords Of Death (LSOD) are, by far, the best black metal band from Los Angeles at the moment (Nokturne are not too bad, either, but are largely inactive). I’ve seen LSOD perform live on multiple occasions, and they seem to just get better and better with each performance. In short, LSOD can bring the Hammer in a live setting with a darkly personified vocalist in Autarch, and a top notch bassist in Menno. The rest of the band is not too shabby, either.

Metal Blade Records obviously noticed the quality of this act, and promptly added LSOD to their roster for the release of The Extra Dimensional Wound (the Giger-esque cover art is exquisitely detailed, and outstanding). However, on record, LSOD’s sound is, initially, more of that of dark, rich death metal rather than black metal. The album is well produced with lots of deep, bottom heavy sound with a loud bass. All out blasts segue into mid-paced tempos that enhance the atmosphere and mood. However, the music has a discernible, intentional lack of structure and a chaotic quality that definitely categorizes LSOD as black metal rather than death metal, as the well planned lack of structure has a powerful atmosphere.

I should note that a number of the songs appearing here are re-recordings of songs that appeared on a split with Valdur from 2008. Even so, The Extra Dimensional Wound is an excellent release from a band that deserves your notice.

Salem Playing God And Other Short Stories

Pulverised Records

Salem MySpace

A long running Israeli band appearing on from Pulverised Records, Salem are playing traditional heavy metal with a dark tone and a few Gothic touches. The musicianship is tight, and the band’s sound comes a bit from the more bluesy, doom inspired aspects of the NWOBHM. Some of the riffs are quite good with an up tempo pacing, and the vocals are typically gruff. Gothic touches creep in with very melodic, clean female vocals and some flowing keyboards. I must admit that I find the music reminiscent of Samael circa Ceremony Of The Opposites minus the blackened themes and overt Satanic imagery. In fact, the lyrical themes of Salem are the polar opposite, so to speak, focusing upon the plight of Jews and islamic terrorism.

Salem definitely have a unique take on the darker shades of NWOBHM, however, and are an unusual band to appear on Pulverised Records’ roster for that reason. However, the songwriting on Playing God And Other Short Stories is a bit uneven, with the best songs appearing at the beginning of the album, by far. Overall, Playing God And Other Short Stories is a somewhat unique album, but not great.

Grave Desecrator Insult

Hells Headbangers Records/ Ketzer Records

Grave Desecrator MySpace

Brazilian death metal and, yes, it sounds like a collision between Abhorrence, Nephasth, old Sepultura, toss in some Krisiun, and so on. Rather primitive, but with plenty of good riffs, catchy songs, a guitar solo or two, blasphemous lyrics, all out speed, etc. What more could you ask for?! I tell you what: Harris Johns twiddles the knobs and gives the album THAT drum sound! Old Sodom, anyone? Now, you’re getting it!

Torture Division Evighetens Darar

Abyss Records

Torture Division MySpace

Various alumni from Swedish giants such as (possibly) Dark Funeral, Entombed, Vomitory, and about a billion other bands come together as a trio to crank out some pure, old school Sunlight Studios-era Swedish death metal. Evighetens Darar is a fix up compilation of sorts, putting together various bits of recent demo material from this off again on again project. All of it is very solid, straightforward Swedish death metal with no surprises whatsoever, but, what’s sort of unique is the “free music” policy of Torture Division. The band actively encourages fans to download their demos, trade/ sell the music to “friends”, make up their own artwork, etc. Sounds like a bit of an experiment in communism to me, but the music’s good enough for you to seek out active participation, if, in the end, you’ll probably end up getting screwed by totalitarians.

Dan Swanö has a hand in the mixing, so you know that, at least, Torture Division are worth a listen.

Excruciator By The Gates Of Flesh

Heavy Artillery Records

Excruciator MySpace

Silly band name and Heavy Artillery Records only means one thing, old school thrash metal. A label that is very hit and miss with regards to the quality of the bands that appear on the roster, Heavy Artillery Records are nothing if not persistent in raising the flag of thrash from yesteryear quite high. This time around, the discovery is Excruciator (at first glance, I initially thought that they were called Exlaxicator) from Portland, Oregon, and the name of the game on this five song EP is old school Teutonic thrash from the glory days of Kreator. Chris Birkley’s voice is a dead ringer for that of Mille Petrozza, and the vibe is sort of reminiscent of Terrible Certainty. Not bad, not great, but Excruciator show some promise (goofy band name notwithstanding).

Tribute to H.P. Lovecraft Yogsothery - Gate 1: Chaosmogonic Rituals of Fear

I, Voidhanger Records (ATMF has a hand in here somewhere)

Aarni MySpace

Every now and then, a tribute album appears in homage to H.P. Lovecraft, seemingly metal’s favorite horror writer. Certainly, he’s one of my favorites, as well, but tribute albums to his writings never really work. The reason, in my opinion, is that Lovecraft’s writing is so visually stunning, so strong, that it is very hard to encapsulate into any sort of worthwhile auditory representation, particularly with readers who have already formed such strong imagery in their minds while reading Lovecraft.

Four projects/ bands, three of them Finnish, attempt to do just that on Yogsothery - Gate 1: Chaosmogonic Rituals of Fear, a tribute organized by one man doom metal act Aarni, an artist with whom I’m not familiar. As would be expected, the admittedly wonderfully entitled Yogsothery - Gate 1: Chaosmogonic Rituals of Fear is uneven with two strong tracks, and two not so strong. By far, the strongest track is the nearly 26 minute opener entitled “Kuihtuman Henkivi" by horror electronica duo Jääportit. A haunting scream of harmonics and electronic tones sort of reminiscent of “Lux Aeterna” from the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack, this nightmarish abyss provides the perfect accompaniment to Great Cthulhu’s emergence from R’lyeh. If any track comes close, on this album, at least, to personifying the cosmic horror of the Cthulhu Mythos, this is it, and really makes the album worth purchasing for this track alone.

Also of note is the fourth track, another marathon, this time from Caput LIIIVm, a project comprised of members of various Italian bands, none very well known. Entitled “Resurgent Atavism,” the song would fit in quite well with the work of Sunn O))) and Boris on Altar with the same sort of mild, droning vibe. Of lesser quality are the other two tracks, uneven mixtures of cascading doom, acoustic guitars, various intonations, and so on from Aarni and Umbra Nihil.

So, worthy of a purchase? Yes, but I would’ve loved to have gotten a look at the 20-page booklet of liner notes that accompanies a formal purchase in order to bolster my recommendation.

Complete Failure Heal No Evil

Supernova Records

Complete Failure MySpace

Heal No Evil from Pennsylvania’s Complete Failure is pretty much straight up grindcore, but contains some slower-paced, longer songs than most blastfests (Complete Failure can still go all out, though), and occasionally drifts into crossover territory. Originally self released, Heal No Evil is, not surprisingly, a bit raw, and that definitely works in Complete Failure’s favor as I’ve developed a real aversion lately to über-produced grindcore.

There aren’t any real surprises on Heal No Evil, but Complete Failure write good enough songs, for the first half of the album, anyway, for anyone who feels that their grindcore collection is incomplete. However, the songwriting really takes a nosedive in the album’s second half with meandering, overly long songs that will rapidly bore you.

Give the first 16 minutes or so of Heal No Evil a shot, and you’ll find that there’s promise to be had with Complete Failure. Otherwise, take a pass.

Good enough for now…


Stench In Putrescence

Agalloch Marrow Of The Spirit

Agalloch Tour Flier

No comments: