Friday, 28 August 2015

Funerary/Ooze - 'Funerary/Ooze' Split (Review)

By: Chris Bull

Album Type: Split 12inch
Date Released: 11/08/2015
Label: Midnite Collective



The 2 tracks on offer from Funerary are gloriously heavy, dark and cold. 'Ascent' begins with a simple yet ominously evil riff before the tortured banshee like vocals breathe fire into the frostbitten air.  Ooze are an altogether different beast; their 4 tracks are very much from the Eyehategod school of sludge but with harsher vocals and the occasional subtle time signature change.

Funerary/Ooze Split 12inch LP//DD track listing:

Funerary

1. Ascent
2. Descent

Ooze

1. Targeted
2. Necrotopya
3. Bridges Burned
4. Satanachia's Will


The Review:

This split comes straight off the back of Funerary's album 'Starless Aeon' released earlier this year and is very much in the same vein, which is a very good thing!

The 2 tracks on offer from Funerary are gloriously heavy, dark and cold. 'Ascent' begins with a simple yet ominously evil riff before the tortured banshee like vocals breathe fire into the frostbitten air. 'Descent' has another lumbering beast like feel to it, the weight of the riffs and the claustrophobic atmosphere make for some uneasy listening. At the 3 and a half minute mark, everything breaks down and a creepy lead riff plays over some droning guitar work. Some weighty chops break through the tension and fade to nothingness. Bands, take note; this is how to do doom.

Ooze are an altogether different beast; their 4 tracks are very much from the Eyehategod school of sludge but with harsher vocals and the occasional subtle time signature change. 'Targeted' and 'Necrotopya' sound like the groovier parts of Soilent Green. 'Burned Bridges' is almost like 'Broken Glass' era Crowbar in it's chops and guitar tone, I can imagine this setting many heads bobbing in a live setting. 'Satanachia's Will' is slower in pace than its predecessors, much more straightforward but still punishing.

This split was released to coincide with Funerary and Ooze's tour and gives a brief glimpse into both bands' respective psyche. Definitely worth a listen and a nice companion to Funerary's full length.

‘Funerary/Ooze’ Split is available here

RIYL: Eyehategood, Iron Monkey, Soilent Green, Indian, Grief, Crowbar


Grey Widow/Sons of Tonatiuh - “Grey Widow / Sons of Tonatiuh' Spilt (Review)

 By: Eric Crowe

Album Type: CD / Tape
Date Released: 8/09/2015 
Label: Red Valley





…damn when the guitars kick in! Your gut drops at the sheer thickness and weight of the disgust. Powerful and an intense drive that makes you want wreck everything around you and Overall this is a great pairing of bands, both bringing something different to the table, but yet both still so violently pleasing

“Grey Widow / Sons of Tonatiuh” CD//CS tracklisting:

1. Grey Widow “X”
2. Grey Widow “Obey” (Leechmilk cover)
3. Sons of Tonatiuh “Skull File”
4. Sons of Tonatiuh “Wounded” (Cavity cover)
5. Sons of Tonatiuh “Sun Goes Down” (Killing Joke cover)
6. Sons of Tonatiuh  “The Oracle”



The Review:

This split begins with Grey Widow’s track “X” with slow, thick plodding drums for a solid minute before the wash of amp worship and feedback fades in, very reminiscent of the uneasy nature of a Corrupted album. Samples fade into the mix, adding additional layers to the building tension. But damn when the guitars kick in! Your gut drops at the sheer thickness and weight of the disgust. Aching vocals bleed through with such scorn and distaste for everything. It’s about the 5:30 mark when they shift gears from the sludgy tar pit to a crustier, angst driven kick in the teeth. This drive is perfect and just when you really start digging on it really good, it bottoms back out to the thick ass molasses / amp choking riff to finish out the track.

Next up is my favorite track of the split, Grey Widow do a mean as fuck cover of Leechmilk’sObey” The tones are so thick and breathe new life into an already timeless song. I can’t help but get into this track every time I hear it! Grey Widow is an amazing band and look forward to seeing what else this crushing band has to offer in the future!

Sons of Tonatiuh kick off their portion of the split with “Skull File” a slow build introduction that from off the bat is teeth clenching hatred. The duel vocals evoke sheer anger and maximum hostility, which match perfectly to the tone and style of SoTs music. “Wounded” is next and has a serious crusty d-beat feel to it. Powerful and an intense drive that makes you want wreck everything around you, especially with Dan’s vocals leading the charge; fiery and demanding.
This track is very reminiscent of the old Leechmilk days.

Sun Goes Down” keeps the drive going with this Killing Joke cover. Executed with excellence with heavy crunch and a steady chug that’s like “Fuck yeah!” Closing out SoTs side of the split is “The Oracle” a heavy hitting track that slows it back down to a crawl through a dreary sludge romp. Everything about this band clicks for me, and I’m glad to see that maybe all the pieces have fallen into place for Sons of Tonatiuh. Guitar and bass tones compliment each other perfectly and drumming with the right amount of knowing when to be in the pocket and to come forward and kick it up a bit!

Overall this is a great pairing of bands, both bringing something different to the table, but yet both still so violently pleasing. Be on the look out for this to drop in early September!

This is split is available here

RIYL: Fistula, Leechmilk, Dopefight, Killing Joke, Cavity, Buzz*oven


Old Witch/Keeper - ‘Old Witch/Keeper’ Split (Review)

 By: Daniel Jackson

Album Type: Split Cassette
Date Released: 25/7/2015
Label: GrimCvlt



Old Witch is full of drone and borderline funeral doom. Keyboards swell over guitars part that recall Sunn O))) or, more accurately, Teeth of Lions Rule The Divine. There's nothing pretty or subtle about Keeper’s approach, and that’s likely for the best. If there’s anyone doing this sort of ugly, miserable dirge any better they’re obscure enough that I haven’t found them

‘Old/Witch/Keeper’ CS//DD track listing:

OLD WITCH:

1. The Vague Fears That Bother My Waking Life Regarding The Inevitability Of Death And What May Or May Not Lie Beyond
2. Broken Soil On An Early Grave
3. A Gathering Of Strangers Who Knew The Deceased But Not Too Well
4. Gallows

KEEPER:

1. Four Walls; A Home
2. With or Without Pt. 1, 2 & 3


Old Witch is:

Stephen H. Heyerdahl | Everything

Keeper is:

Jacob Lee | Guitar, Bass, Vocals
Penny Keats | Guitars, Drums, Vocals


The Review:

I tend to look at split releases as two EPs on one release. The reason being that the bands involved are usually different enough that the album doesn’t flow together cohesively, thus making the album a sort of double feature rather than one whole album. While that is still the case on this split cassette release from Old Witch and Keeper, the two halves work well in tandem together, making for a less disruptive experience when listening to the whole album. If you happen to prefer one band’s contribution over the other, that’s likely accounting for personal taste rather than talent and creative ability, as both bands contribute to their specific niches exceedingly well.

Where the bands differ most is in how much they opt to diversify their songs. Old Witch, over the course of four songs, plays with softer dynamics and various styles. The opening song, “The Vague Fears That Bother My Waking Life Regarding The Inevitability Of Death And What May Or May Not Lie Beyond”, is full of drone and borderline funeral doom. Keyboards swell over guitars part that recall Sunn O))) or, more accurately, Teeth of Lions Rule The Divine. Things take some abrupt turns from there, with “Broken Soil On An Early Grave” having the sort of barbaric death metal riffs and drumbeats you might expect from Coffins, although the keyboards still play a massive role here as well. “A Gathering of Strangers” is more like the softer moments of a Sleepytime Gorilla Museum album than may have been intended, but it works as a way to break things up before “Gallows”  brings things full circle back to the sound of  the opener.

Where the Old Witch side is more diverse and layered, Keeper is laser focused on the sort of caustic doom that’s had people talking from the beginning. There's nothing pretty or subtle about Keeper’s approach, and that’s likely for the best. If there’s anyone doing this sort of ugly, miserable dirge any better, they’re obscure enough that I haven’t found them. The recipe is the same as it’s been since ‘MMXIV’, with the more traditional doom of a band like Grief colliding with the wretched corrosiveness equal to that of Khanate, whose first two albums are absolute landmarks of the genre. What it's missing in variety, it makes up for in sheer power. Having said that “With or Without pt. 1, 2 & 3” is perhaps the band’s most nuanced and well crafted song to date, with a lengthy middle section bringing a deep, rich atmosphere that sees Keeper is willing to expand their sound in a meaningful and logical way.

Which brings us back to that earlier point about these two bands playing well together. There’s more than enough to satisfy fans of either band, and both bands approach their corners of the broader doom genre admirably. However, being the greedy sort that I am, I’d love to hear a collaborative effort. I think these two halves would do an incredible job of rounding out each others’ sounds. If nothing else, these two bands could learn from what each band offers that other doesn’t. Old Witch would benefit from gaining some of Keeper’s commanding sonic aura and more powerful recording quality. Keeper, while starting to broaden their horizons already might take something from Old Witch’s ability to hit a number of different emotional tones and expanded instrumental range. Each band is on strong ground, putting out high quality music. But as great as they are, each band also highlights some opportunities to for the other to grow into something even better.


You can pick up a digital copy here, cassette copies appear to be sold out already.

RIYL: Sunn O))), Khanate, Grief, Funerary

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Hope Drone - 'Cloak of Ash' (Album Review)

By Chris Bull

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/07/2015
Label: Relapse Records


'Unending Grey' begins with some subsonic rumbles and distant keys before the traditional black metal blast and the Deafheaven meets Wolves In The Throne Room riffs fill the air with ambience. It slows down nicely towards the end (it's an ambitious 20 minute song) and leaves the notes to ring out and cling to the ether.

‘Cloak of Ash’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Unending Grey
2. Riverbeds Hewn In Marrow
3. The World Inherited
4. The Chords That Thrum Beneath The Earth
5. Every End Is Fated In Its Beginning
6. He Waves Forever Shatter Upon Our Shores
7. Carried Apart By The Ceaseless Tides

Hope Drone is:

Karl Hartwig | Guitars, noise
Christopher Rowden | Guitars, vocals, noise and organ
Aaron Pickersgill | Bass
Francis Keil | Drums and additional percussion 

The Review:

Relapse are certainly surprising people with recent releases, this time they've plucked Brisbane Australia's Hope Drone from obscurity to much aplomb. I had heard nothing of this band before 'Cloak Of Ash', suddenly they're the next big thing, let's see shall we?

'Unending Grey' begins with some subsonic rumbles and distant keys before the traditional black metal blast and the Deafheaven meets Wolves In The Throne Room riffs fill the air with ambience. It slows down nicely towards the end (it's an ambitious 20 minute song) and leaves the notes to ring out and cling to the ether. 'Riverbeds Hewn In Marrow' is very similar, I'll avoid the obvious reference to Altar Of Plagues...Damn, it got me! The song speeds during its finality and bleeds straight into 'The World Inherited' and blasts away while retaining the vast atmosphere. Again, it slows down to let everything breathe for several minutes. 'The Chords That Thrum Beneath The Earth' follows with some atmospheric guitar building up to the inevitable blasts. There's some interesting melodies to be heard, the guitars are a key element in this band. 50 minutes have passed and there are 3 songs remaining...strap in, you're here for the long haul! 'Every End Is Fated in its Beginning' builds with a hulking slow riff before some more following of the Altar Of Plagues blueprint. 'The Waves Forever Crash Upon Our Shores' and 'Carried Apart By The Ceaseless Tides' bring the album to an end, the former lasting a brief (by comparison) six and a half minutes and the latter 9 minutes which goes fast part, slow part, fast part, fade out much like every other song on this album.

I'm not saying this is a bad album, far from it! It's damn good. I personally think it is way too long, 4 tracks would have been plenty. Also there's the hype; "they're one Relapse, that automatically means they're awesome" when in reality, there are albums that have been released this year that are way more deserving of praise than this. This will probably make several end of year lists in the metal press, and fair play, it should be in the top 50, but as Chuck D and Co once said, 'Don't believe the Hype'.

‘Cloak of Ash’ is available here

RIYL: Altar of Plagues, Deafheaven, Tombs, Wolves in the Throne Room, Neurosis, Cult of Luna




Band info: Facebook  | Bandcamp

Limb - 'Terminal' (Album Review)

By: Dominic Walsh

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 11/09/2015
Label: New Heavy Sounds


All in all, Terminal builds on what Limb have already achieved and is ultimately better than their top notch debut. The tracks on Terminal are well crafted, and the whole piece is tighter throughout. Absolutely no time is wasted on the album with every note being completely integral to the success of the album

‘Terminal’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Three Snake Leaves
2). Ghost Dance
3). Micromegas
4). Dawn Raiders
5). Spoils of a Portrait King
6). Down By The Banks
7). Sleepwalkers
8). Mortuary Teeth
9). Cocytus

Limb is

Rob Hoey | Vocals
Sam Cooper | Bass
Tom Mowforth | Drums
Pat Pask | Guitar

The Review:

My first exposure to Limb came when they were main support to New Heavy Sound label mates, Black Moth last year. I was instantly enamoured by them and subsequently ensured I was the owner of their superb, self titled, debut opus (on a lovely slab of green and black wax). I included it in my list of picks for 2014 at The Sludgelord, and then sought about waiting for a new record. That new record comes by the name ‘Terminal’.

Immediately, ‘Terminal’ sounds slicker, groovier, more polished...but ultimately,  just as heavy. Whilst the record's track listing suggests an opening trio of songs, the whole 8 minutes of music flows seamlessly and magnificently. ‘Micromegas' lead guitar riff is an air guitar dream and the middle section of the track sounds as expansive as the imagery captured in the cover art for the album. The opening of ‘Dawn Raiders’ has a Beastie Boy'sSabotage’ feel to it before a straight up rock track ensues. ‘Down By The Banks’ rocks hard with some vociferous drumming driving the track. Whilst dealing with primarily sludgy grooves, ‘Mortuary Teeth’ has a much harsher, almost grind feel for its snappy 2 minute duration. The maniacal vocal delivery is a snarling success. ‘Spoils of a Portrait King’ has some utterly despairing doom moments too; the strings on Limb's heavy bow are many!

The band close out the record with the near nine minute ‘Cocytus’. The groove is tight and solid. The haunting, chanted vocals over the monotonous and chugging riff that accompanies the closing strains show that the band is not afraid to expand and be playful with their brand of heaviness. ‘Cocytus’ is a towering and epic ending to a superb album. All in all, Terminal builds on what Limb have already achieved and is ultimately better than their top notch debut. The tracks on Terminal are well crafted, and the whole piece is tighter throughout. Absolutely no time is wasted on the album with every note being completely integral to the success of the album.

‘Terminal’ is available here




Band info: Facebook | BandCamp

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Bone Gnawer - 'Cannibal Crematorium' (Album Review)

By Theron Moore

Album Type: Full-Length
Date Released: 10/07/2015
Label: Pulverised Records




“Cannibal Crematorium” is an exercise in true metal and Kam Lee delivers a workshop in how death metal vocals should sound like at any age.  Take heed, take notice.  Bone Gnawer is the best thing to happen to music this year.


‘Cannibal Crematorium’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1.Anthropophagist Inferno
2.Modern Day Cannibal (Featuring Sly Goregnome of FONDLECORPSE)
3.Chainsaw Carnage (Featuring Adam Scott & Tom Knizer of CARDIAC ARREST)
4.Horrors In The House Of Human Remains (Featuring Matt Witchclan of DEADMAN’S BLOOD & WITCHCLAN)
5.Chawed, Mauled & Gnawed (Featuring Noel Kemper of GRUESOME STUFF RELISH & ALTAR OF GIALLO)
6.Il Sesso Bizzarro Di Cannibali (Featuring Miss Desideria Gabreiella Annuziata)
7.Chrome Skull (Featuring Vincent Crowley of ACHERON)
8.Below A Murder Of Carrion Crows (Featuring Patrick Bruss of CRYPTICUS)
9.Carnivore Beneath (Featuring Dave Ingram of DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN, BENEDICTION)
10.Untold Story: Human Pork Bun (Featuring Mark Riddick of FETID ZOMBIE)
11.Cannibal Crematorium (Featuring Dany Dead of DEAD)

Bone Gnawer is

Kam Lee | Vocals
Ronnie Bjornstrom | Guitars, Bass
Morgan Lie | Drums

 The Review:

“Anthropophagist Inferno” sets the tone of the record with its horror movie-soundtrack intro.  It unsettles you.  It makes you squirm uncomfortably listening to it.  You’ve got ten more tracks to go.  Old school death metal at its finest.  No fucking around.  No pulling punches and it’s not for the weak or posers.  It’s brutal.
Bone Gnawer’s vocalist Kam Lee is the real deal.  He is a legend in the world of death metal.  I took notice of him when he did the record “From Beyond” when he was with Massacre.  That was greatness.  “Cannibal Crematorium” matches that pinnacle of perfection and that’s huge praise.  Bone Gnawer holds its own with Massacre. What gives this record an extra boost of unique sound and certain fury are the guest stars that appear on each track:


We’re talking eleven tracks of pure old school death metal with Kam Lee in top form.  You’d think after all these years he’d slow down or show signs of maybe a weakened vocal but he kills it with every song.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard him this strong before and he’s doing things vocally that have to be heard to be believed.  After hearing “Cannibal Crematorium” I have to see them live and I need this band to put out record #2 ASAP.  Amazing is an understatement.

There’s not a bum tune anywhere and the stand out tracks are “Modern Day Cannibal,” “Chainsaw Carnage” and “Untold Story:  Human Pork Bun” if not for the title alone. “Cannibal Crematorium” is an exercise in true metal and Kam Lee delivers a workshop in how death metal vocals should sound like at any age.  Take heed, take notice.  Bone Gnawer is the best thing to happen to music this year.

‘Cannibal Crematorium’ is available here

Band info: Bandcamp | Facebook

Wombbath - 'Downfall Rising' (Album Review)

 By Theron Moore

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 07/08/2015
Label: Pulverised Records/
Dark Descent Records




“Downfall Rising” is a heavy, heavy as fuck comeback which succeeds on every level from production to vocals to the music itself and how it all comes together on record.

‘Downfall Rising’ CD//DD track Listing:

1. Intro
2. Under Apokalypsens Svarta Vingar
3. Underneath The Rotten Soil
4. I Am The Abyss
5. Fall Of The Weak
6. Putrid And Bound (By The Seed Of Satan)
7. Paid In Blood
8. Abandoned Furthermore

The Review:
Formed in 1990, Wombbath soon disbanded around 1994 following the release of their EP entitled ‘Lavatory’, now they are back after a 22 year hiatus with “Downfall Rising” which is released on Pulverised Records/Dark Descent Records.  According to their bio the band had a huge Death influence, especially with the “Spiritual Healing” and “Leprosy” records.  Whilst I  agree with that reference, what got my attention wasn’t the Death influence but how much of a sound they shared with fellow swedes Necrophobic.  I wish more bands had this thick, brick wall, guitar sound.  Downfall Rising” was mixed by the band's drummerJeramie Kling (The AbsenceInfernaeon, etc) and mastered by James Murphy (Disincarnate, ex-Death, ex-Testament, ex-Obituary, etc) at SafeHouse Production, USA.

Although “Downfall Rising” is hailed as a straight forward death metal record it also treads into blackish metal territory perhaps best highlighted on track four “I Am The Abyss.”  I like it, it works, it broadens the band’s sound in a way that takes them away from being one dimensional and opens them up wider, gives them more musical space to explore which we hear in track five, “Fall Of TheWeak.”  It’s speedy, growly death metal that isn’t afraid to plod and grind with a heavy crushing groove when called for and that’s to be said of the entire record as well.  
The band does a good job knowing when to play fast and when to slow it down which might be stating the obvious, however, not a lot of bands actually have a grasp on how to do this or when to do this.  Putting a record together isn’t an easy task, especially trying to get the band’s sound translated just the right way and Wombbath have done it quite well.
Downfall Rising” is a heavy, heavy as fuck comeback which succeeds on every level from production to vocals to the music itself and how it all comes together on record.  Had I not known about their hiatus it never would’ve dawned on me that Wombbath had been out of the game for the last 22 years?  Would I buy it?  Hell yes and I’d put it next to both Necrophobic and Death, in terms of overall quality.  Buy this record.



‘Downfall Rising’ is available here

Band info: Facebook

Associated Bands: Skineater | Ashcloud