Friday, October 02, 2015

Christian Mistress: To Your Death (2015)

Christian Mistress released a fantastic slab of heavy metal with Possession not too long ago. But looking back, it was a cover song—the titular track—that was clearly the best on the album. Regardless of the fact it was a little-known song before the cover, that’s still a red flag. I wondered how good their follow-up could be.

The answer is, it’s still rockin’. Husky female vocals over old-school heavy metal is a formula that’s tough to beat. It’s also a formula that needs no additional explanation, so I won’t waste your time with that.

It sounds good. It’s got hooks and energy. But without the incredible cover tune of the first album, and no serious song-of-the-year contenders, it’s not nearly on the level of Possession. But To Your Death is still worth a listen.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Chelsea Wolfe: Abyss (2015)

As far as I was concerned, Chelsea Wolfe came out of nowhere with Pain Is Beauty, and immediately she had a hardcore fan. So when Abyss was first brought to my attention, I made my purchase within 30 seconds.

My two big things on this blog are, obviously, metal, and also dark Americana. I occasionally cover some gothic, folk, shoegaze, or dark electronic stuff. Wolfe inhabits a space that draws on all three of those things, in a manner that’s as unique and compelling as Wovenhand’s take on post-punk/post-rock/shoegaze/country/folk. Another connection between Wolfe and Wovenhand? Against all probability, she followed up a brilliant, career-defining album with an even better album.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Horrendous: Anareta (2015)

So, last I checked, Horrendous was a fantastic death metal band with a style based in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean circa 1992. I had read about their last album and how far they progressed, but I never got around to checking it out. I should have, because this Anareta sounds like a completely different band.

The vocals are a blend of Chuck Schuldiner and Martin Van Drunen, which is to say, they’re awesome. But that’s where the predictability ends. Horrendous is now a progressive death metal band with a style all their own. Sure, there are Opethian solos (“Ozymandias”) and melodies (“Siderea”). They might occasionally sound a little like Cynic circa Traced in Air (“Siderea”), or later Death (“Polaris”). But they’re much more than that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

GosT: Behemoth (2015)

There’s been some buzz about GosT. The only reason seems to be it’s not a metal album, but has the cover of a metal album and song titles that should be on a metal album. There’s nothing about it especially that should appeal to metalheads, except I suppose a few of the beats are heavy.

It’s some flavor of electronica. I think some of it’s dubstep? But then I’m severely underqualified to make such an evaluation. I don’t know electronica. To me it sounds like vampire rave music, or a mix of heavy electronica and just a dash of John Carpenter soundtrack music.

It was fun to listen to, for something different. But it’s not going to make my year-end list by any means.

The Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Myrkur: M (2015)

Relapse isn’t typically known for releasing atmospheric/folk black metal, so the debut full-length from Myrkur certainly caught me off guard. It’s the project of one woman, whose background is in indie pop, so of course hipster alarm bells will go off. And go off they have: The Metal Archives ratings for this record are abysmal.

But fuck that, because I like this. If you’re looking for consistency and black metal credibility, look elsewhere. But if you are the type who will occasionally pick up an indie pop record, and non-judgmentally welcome outsiders to the metal fold, M is worth a listen.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Warhorse: As Heaven Turns To Ash (2001)

The last two releases of the defunct Warhorse were reissued earlier this year by Southern Lord. This review will be confined to the band’s sole LP, As Heaven Turns To Ash. (The reissue also includes the final EP, I Am Dying.)

This is so heavy it nears a 1.0 on the Electric Wizard scale. Huge, lumbering riffs steadily pound the listener. Raspy, semi-growled vocals don’t add a whole lot, but they serve well enough to add the human element and keep you engaged. Only occasionally do they add a little speed for good measure, while acoustic guitar/piano/bongo interludes break up the hour-long album and keep it from suffering the slightest bit of drag. The mood is just, heavy, man. It’s not depressive or upbeat, it’s just—“Hey, listen to this because it sounds awesome.” And the music stands well enough that it doesn’t need anything like that.

The highlight of the record is “Every Flower dies No Matter the Thorns (Wither).” Not all the titles are quite such a mouthful, but a tune like this warrants an extensive name. It’s an incredible, steady descent, sort of a gritty reboot of Sabbath’s “Into the Void,” featuring a section focusing on bass and drum with underwater-sounding clean guitar as a reprieve.

The only question for me is, how did I not know about this band before? This is incredible.

The Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Friday, August 28, 2015


So I started making some of my own memes, and thought I might as well start posting some here.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Blasphemy: Fallen Angel of Doom (1990)

Say you run across some backwoods boys slitting the throat of an animal at just the right moment to create the proper bucking motion. You might get out of there alive, but only if you hand them a third-generation tape of Slayer's Hell Awaits. Those boys would go on to create something like Blasphemy.

Fallen Angel of Doom is a perfect blend of mindless, bestial aggression, primitive instrumental work, and an instinctive sense of musicality. I'd swear none of these guys have had a music lesson in their lives, but the songs are great anyway. Many of them are just unrelenting aggression with well-timed cymbal crashes or lobotomized Slayer solos as accent. But the best tunes also have breakdowns, and the rhythmic sense of them is unfuckwithable. Your head will be banged by the likes of "Darkness Prevails."

The production is murky, and a little uneven. But other than the over-loud intro and outro synths, I wouldn’t change a thing on this magical bit of backwoods Canadian chemistry. It's no wonder Nuclear War Now is reissuing it.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

Friday, August 21, 2015

Doomed: Wrath Monolith (2015)

We’re All Doomed

Normally by this point in the year I’ve given out two or three perfect scores. This is the first for 2015.

In metal, the riff is king. The German death/doom monolith Doomed have a fucking lock on riffs. Massive lurch-and-stumble rhythms all around here. And their sound is just perfect. I’m reminded of a mix of Evoken and Doom:VS, with a pinch of Triptykon. It’s a brutal, pummeling death metal sound in a shambling march, with never-ending dynamics and obviously distinct, memorable songs. Sometimes, also, more melodic elements and squealing pinch harmonics reminiscent of My Dying Bride.

I’ll highlight two songs to illustrate the point. “The Triumph – Spit” may be the best tune on here. It begins with a fantastic stuttering riff and a compelling clean-ish lead, but eventually they charge ahead with a full-on death metal assault. “Looking Back,” on the other hand, has morose melodies worthy of Pallbearer, and partially foregoes the death growls in favor of clean vocals (and they’re no slouches there, either).

But that’s not the full extent of the variety. Every song on here is worthwhile, the pacing is excellent, and the production is exquisite. Get on this.

Doomed were complete unknowns to me before. And now they’ve dropped the gauntlet. So far, this is the best album of the year.

The Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars