© 2020 — Lore

Monthly Soundscapes: April 2020

Aborted – La Grande Mascarade (Century Media Records)

By now, most of you have heard of Aborted. Hailing from Belgium, these absolute maniacs have devoted themselves to the more horror-centric strand of death metal, evidenced by their grandiose and gore-splattering records such as Engineering The Dead, Goremageddon, Global Flatline and Retrogore. Apart from LPs, Aborted have also released a myriad of EPs, of which Le Grande Mascarade is the latest one. Containing three new songs and starting with a monologue by Dr. Samuel Loomis – a character from 2007s Halloween flick -, La Grande Mascarade is yet another brutal release that keeps on improving the sound that the band has accustomed us to. “Gloom and the Art of Tribulation” and “Serpent of Depravity”, for example, contain that technicality the band has been messing around with in recent years, and there are also a few progressive elements in this EP, something that nowadays might bring them closer to a band like Cattle Decapitation rather than the usual deathgrind outfit, which is a good thing, as variety is the spice of life. Overall, another great release by a great band that can do no wrong. [7.7]

Highlighted tracks: Gloom and the Art of Tribulation; Serpent of Depravity

 

 

Abysmal Dawn – Phylogenesis (Season of Mist)

After six years of studio absence, the Californian sci-fi death metal gurus of Abysmal Dawn have finally unleashed a new LP for everyone to headbang to. While the conditions aren’t certainly the best to release new material – you know, the COVID-19 pandemic and whatnot -, the timing seems appropriate. Once again dealing with societal issues that plague the world while still retaining that vein of cosmic expiration and apocalypsis, Phylogenesis shows us once again why Abysmal Dawn are a force to be reckoned with. From the fast-paced guitars and groovy bass lines to the brutal yet calculated drumming and Charles Elliott’s ever-present asperous vocals, this is a record that shines a bright light on the many aspects that make the band sound so good and so fresh. You will want to hear it until your ears bleed, time and again. [7.9]

Highlighted tracks: Hedonistic; A Speck in the Fabric of Eternity; Coerced Evolution; True to the Blind

 

 

Auroch – Stolen Angelic Tongues (20 Buck Spin)

Auroch is a band that keeps surprising the underground metal scene with each release they spew. A hidden gem composed by current and former members of Mitochondrion and Tusk, we last saw Auroch in 2016 when they released their third opus Mute Books, an excellent record that brought the band closer to the forefront of extreme metal. With Stolen Angelic Tongues, I’m positive that the band will now bask in the glorious light of stardom, as this is further proof that that is exactly where they should be. Despite its somewhat pointless intro, the real nasty shit begins with “Hideous New Gods”, as the primal cavernous howling, ultra-rapid blast beats and vile guitar riffs take center stage, creating a suffocating and abysmal atmosphere that holds the listener by the throat from beginning to end. It all continues until the last track, which ends the EP with a brief and more satisfying ambient track than the intro. Apart from its lackluster start, Stolen Angelic Tongues is a solid and crushing EP through and through, and you will be hard-pressed to find any other faults in it. [7.6]

Highlighted tracks: Hideous New Gods; Carving The Axis Mundi

 

Benighted – Obscene Repressed (Season of Mist)

If you ever wondered why Benighted are highly-regarded as one of the best brutal death metal bands that walks the earth nowadays, look no further than their most recent release. Entitled Obscene Repressed, this new record by the French group is a violently brutal offering that just might be the band’s best record yet. Relentlessly savage riffage, groovy as all hell bass lines, insane drum pummeling and rage-filled vocal work that will make you want to open up the fucking pit, are all ingredients that make this record a standout in their already excellent discography. Whether you crave the violence of death metal or the brutality of grind, this is the record for you. [8.0]

Highlighted tracks: Nails; Brutus; Smoke Through The Skull; Implore The Negative; Casual Piece of Meat

 

 

Black Curse – Endless Wound (Sepulchral Voice Records)

Despite being a relatively new name in the scene, the members of Black Curse are veterans that come from a variety of bone-crushing and mind-grinding projects, such as Blood Incantation, Spectral Voice, Primitive Man and Khemmis. It’s no wonder then, that this was one of the most highly anticipated records of April. As far as supergroups go, there is a lot of room for failure and examples of that are not uncommon. But as far as Black Curse are concerned, there shouldn’t be any worries to begin with. Kicking things up with “Charnel Rift” and “Crowned in (Floral) Vice”, one can see what the appeal is – depraved howls are intertwined with visceral and barbaric instrumental sections that give shape to this incredibly textured and layered sound that instantly puts the band apart from other groups in the genre. To say that Endless Wound is an instant classic is by no means an understatement – it is as uncompromising, filthy and intense as death metal should be. A work of infernal art brought forth from the deepest chasms of Hell. [8.8]

Highlighted tracks: Charnel Rifts, Crowned in (Floral) Vice; Enraptured by Decay; Seared Eyes; Finality I Behold

 

 

Bolt Gun – Begotten (Art As Catharsis)

Up until very recently, I didn’t know who Bolt Gun were. Thanks to a friendly tip, I decided to check their latest record, Begotten, and I have to say I was immediately struck by awe. Awe at the tremendous capability the band has to create rich and cinematic soundscapes and awe at how sinister and dark those same soundscapes can be. Listening to tracks such as “They Herd Together To Bleat Their Hopes” and “The Altar Of Lies Will Not Be Destroyed”, one can verify a certain affinity for ambient drone but also to noise, as harsh vocals bounce off of post-rock instrumental sections, all in a very delicate and balanced manner – there isn’t too much of one thing and equilibrium reigns over the whole record. For those that enjoy music that is both challenging and cinematic, Bolt Gun’s Begotten is a must-listen. [7.7]

Highlighted tracks: They Herd Together To Bleat Their Hopes; Crawling Like An Insect Under The Shadow Of God; The Altar Of Lies Will Not Be Destroyed

 

 

Bongtower – Oscillator

What happens when you pick up the best elements of Hawkwind’s retro sci-fi worship and mix them with High On Fire’s aggressive stoner/sludge combo? Well, the answer is Bongtower. Hailing from Russia, these guys tell in their sophomore record, Oscillator, the story of the famous space race between Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union and the US, to see who would first reach spaceflight capability and, consequently, who would be the first to set foot on the moon. With its story told in the various spoken word ambient tracks that go from “Phase I” to “Phase CVIII”, the rest of the record is comprised of hard-hitting tracks such as “Voskhod – 2” and “Space Shuttle”, all of them featuring that signature analog synth sound, as well as that good ol’ slow and heavy riffing that is characteristic of the genre. In a general sense, this record doesn’t do anything too surprising – some might even feel fatigued due to the incredible amount of interludes -, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Oscillator is a cool sounding record that blends in history with psychedelia. [6.8]

Highlighted tracks: Voskhod – 2; Space Shuttle; Salyut – 7

 

 

Brown Acid – The Tenth Trip (RidingEasy Records)

It’s not usual for me to review compilations, but this one is special. Composed of rare and unreleased 60s and 70s proto-metal and pre-stoner rock singles that were seemingly lost to the sands of time, The Tenth Trip is, as the name suggests, the tenth volume of Brown Acid, a project started by RidingEasy Records that consists in recovering lost songs and presenting them to the public for the first time. This tenth volume contains tracks by Bitter Creek, Brood, Sounds Synonymous, Ralph Williams & The Wright Bros, Conception, The Rubber Memory, Brothers and One, First State Bank, Tabernash and Frozen Sun, all of them having been fully licensed legitimately by the label, who paid the artists. It is a neat release filled with psychedelic jams and rock n’ roll songs that could have been hits if they were given the chance during their time. It isn’t anything new per se, but like all the previous Brown Acid volumes, it is a nice compendium of sonic blasts that influenced many bands that succeeded them. [7.0]

Highlighted tracks: Tensions (Sounds Synonymous); Never Again (Ralph Williams & The Wright Bros); Mr. Sun (First State Bank)

 

 

Burn Damage – Downward Passage (Raging Planet Records)

Burn Damage are a Portuguese group that follows the flow but not in an exactly good way. While their sound could be described as a mixture between thrash, death and groove metal – think early Sepultura with Pantera in their later years, as well as Lamb of God -, it is as bland and repetitive as you can imagine and the problem doesn’t necessarily lie in their influences but rather, the fact that they want to be a lot of things at once. In Downward Passage, the band tries to mix and match various genres and sound stylings that would go well together if they were done properly and the end result is a chaotic mishmash that goes absolutely nowhere. While their debut record, Age of Vultures, was a somewhat enjoyable experience, this new EP is a giant misstep by a band that might need a clearer focus and direction next time. [3.0]

Highlighted tracks: None.

 

 

Caustic Wound – Death Posture (Profound Lore Records)

Formed by members of Mortiferum, Magrudergrind and Cerebral Rot, Caustic Wound is one of the latest projects to assault the extreme metal scene. The goal, according to the band, was to capture the aesthetic and devastating essence of the classic old-school era of the genre up until ‘92 and in that regard, it’s definitely a mission accomplished. Playing a very aggressive blend of death metal and grindcore, the band unleashes violent dose after violent dose of pure, unfiltered blast beats and punishing, caveman-like guitar riffs, a deadly cocktail that is on the same level as many veteran records in the scene. It is an unyielding and powerful record that will surely leave no one indifferent and I for one cannot wait to see and hear what other chaotic hymns the band will unleash in the near future. [8.0]

Highlighted tracks: Death Posture; Cemetery Planet; Blast Casualty; Uranium Decay; Invisible Cell; Cataclysmic Gigaton

 

 

Doctors of Space – Covid Sessions (Space Rock Productions)

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the world of underground and alternative music pretty hard – cancelled shows and festivals, and delays in CD and vinyl production were but a few of the many hardships that bands and labels all over the world had to contend with. The state of confinement was an unbearable experience for some, but for others, it was an opportunity to introspect, isolate and create new music. Case in point, Dr Weaver and Dr Space, collectively known as Doctors of Space, took the time to develop a six-track album that feels like a jam session from outer space. Repetition and looping are the words of the law in Covid Sessions and the Doctors of Space unravel a cosmos of sound that is full of improvisational analog passages and spacy soundscapes. It is a neat and pleasurable record that you will want to take with you in those long road trips to distant and faraway places. [7.0]

Highlighted tracks: Apollo Groove; Viral Usurper

 

 

Dool – Summerland (Prophecy Productions)

In the realm of dark and occult rock, Dool have been making waves since the release of their debut record, Here Now, There Then. Formed by notorious rock musicians from groups such as Gold and The Devil’s Blood, the Dutch quintet radiated an undeniably vibrant energy with the aforementioned record and quickly became a hot buzz in the underground scene. With their sophomore record, however, it seems that the band has lost some of its mysticism. Don’t get me wrong, Summerland has moments where it shines, such as the opener “Sulphur & Starlight” and the ritualistic “Wolf Moon”, but other than that, it’s just another record that you listen one or maybe two times and that’s essentially it. There are no surprises, nothing that really jumps to the attention and makes you want to go back and enjoy it all over again. As sad as it is, it’s just another record that will be forgotten in a couple of years. [4.0]

Highlighted tracks: Sulphur & Starlight; Wolf Moon

 

 

Elder – Omens (Stickman Records)

It’s been three years since Elder released their monumental Reflections of a Floating World, a record that pushed the band even further towards the more progressive side of stoner rock and metal. And while on that particular record I quite enjoyed the progressive nuances, in Omens they fall short of being good. From the instrumental section that feels a bit bland and creatively lacking, to the vocals that at times don’t seem to fit the music all that well, it looks like Omens is, sonically speaking, a far less ambitious record than the band’s previous efforts and that shows. There are some sections that will appeal to those who might still find some enjoyment out of listening to this new record, but for all its worth, its definitely a pass in my book. [5.0]

Highlighted tracks: Halcyon

 

 

Feed Them Death – Panopticism: Belong​​/​​Be Lost (I, Voidhanger Records)

Based in London, Feed Them Death is the experimental deathgrind solo project of Void, founding member of Antropofagus, and a man that has a knack for pushing the boundaries of extreme metal. Mixing the heaviness of sludge/doom with a dark and filthy strain of deathgrind, and incorporating them with the combativeness of black metal and the insane allure of avant-garde music, Feed Them Death finds in his sophomore record the perfect way to showcase the utter pandemonium that is today’s society. Inspired by the works of philosopher, historian of ideas and social theorist Michael Foucault – specifically, his books Discipline and Punish and Madness and Civilization -, Feed Them Death presents madness and insanity as the only outcomes of a doomed society and displays those same certainties with violent walls of grinding noise and misanthropic howls. It’s not an album for the faint of heart, but those who dare listen to it will soon find themselves entrapped by a spiraling bedlam that grabs by the throat and doesn’t let go until it is finished. [7.8]

Highlighted tracks: Scar?; Apologue of Descent; Anti-Modernist Extradition; Black Bile Banquet; Dead Is Better

 

 

Hexvessel – Kindred (Svart Records)

Nature and spirituality go hand in hand and no one knows this better than Hexvessel. Self-professed players of psychedelic forest folk, the group led by Mat “Kvohst” McNerney weave story and esotericism into their songs, creating bonds between them and their audience. Their music is a harmonious concoction containing pieces of occult rock, psych rock and dark folk, without forgoing those 70s revival prog nuances that appear ever so often in their music but that never really remain under the spotlight for too long. Their new opus is the fifth in a line of great records that merge all of the aforementioned elements in incredible fashion, creating an obscure and cinematic atmosphere that envelops the listener and puts them in a state of trance. Even though it’s far from being their best offering, Kindred is still a record that displays the band’s influences in a great manner – fans of the band will be pleased to once again hear the delicate and complex song structures filled with psychedelia, as well as the much-appreciated cover of Coil’s “Fire Of The Mind”. Those unfamiliar with the band will find in Kindred a good starting point to get into the group’s music. [7.0]

Highlighted tracks: Billion Year Old Being; Fire Of The Mind (Coil); Bog Bodies; Phaedra

 

 

Jarboe – Illusory (Consouling Sounds)

Apart from Michael Gira himself, there is no other person in this world that has influenced the sound of Swans more than Jarboe. Owner of an incredibly powerful and eerie voice, as well as seemingly unlimited creativity, Jarboe is one of the most prolific artists to ever grace the Earth and her latest record is further proof of her undying love for forging and exploring new music. Armed with only a haunting piano, small rhythmic and ambient sections, and her own ethereal voice, Jarboe melds tranquillity with solitude, emanating a ghostly ambience that chills the listener and puts them in a state of uneasiness and restlessness. Boundless and free from musical conventions, Jarboe extends her melancholic reach further down the exploratory road that she forever walks in and delivers a record that is emotional, captivating and unique – something she has accustomed us to for many years, but still feels as surprising as ever. [9.0]

Highlighted tracks: Illusory; Cathedral; Flight; Into The Arms of Sleep; Nourish; Man of Hate

 

 

JG Thirlwell & Simon Steensland – Oscillospira (Ipecac Recordings)

In the realm of industrial, post-punk and avant-garde music, JG Thirlwell is a well-known name thanks to his solo project Foetus. Having collaborated with artists such as Swans, Zola Jesus and the Melvins, JG Thirlwell is always looking for a new partner that shares his desire to explore the far reaches of sonic experimentation. As a result, teaming up with Swedish multi-instrumentalist and theatre music composer Simon Steensland was a natural step for him to take. Different in their own compositional ways yet complementary to each other’s work, the duo journeys together with the goal of creating a distinctive sound that is filled with breathtaking intensity and suspense, and that gives out the feeling of being inside a mysterious and long-lost thriller flick. There is an abundance of frightening, dynamic and imposing orchestrations that create a dramatic sense of urgency and woe, intertwined with eerie and bizarre choral voices that sing in haunting fashion in songs such as “Heresy Flank” and “Crystal Night”, something that makes the record even more dense and unpredictable. But it is that unpredictability and uneasiness that makes Oscillospira such an incredible record and one of the best works by both artists. [8.0]

Highlighted tracks: Catholic Deceit; Papal Stain; Heresy Flank; Crystal Night; Redbug

 

 

João Vairinhos – Vénia (Regulator Records)

João Vairinhos is a well-known face in the Portuguese music scene. Playing in bands such as Löbo, Wildnorthe and Day Of The Dead, Vairinhos is a man that prefers to keep his creative muscles active rather than bask in the light of old glories. Vénia is his first solo record, a three-song opus that combines all the ingredients that make the previously mentioned groups noteworthy, as well as everything that influences Vairinhos as a musician and as a person. The result is a collection of textures and layered drone sonorities that sound massive and complex, and give way to a brutalist and wasteland-like scenery of desolation and loss that has this filmic feel about it. One of the highlights of this year, for sure, though I wish it was a bit longer in duration. [8.0]

Highlighted tracks: Vala Comum; Vénia

 

 

Live Burial – Unending Futility (Transcending Obscurity Records)

Born in Newcastle and with an appetite for all things destructive and gory, the quintet of Live Burial crafted in their debut record, Forced Back to Life, an uncompromising sound that puts together the best parts of Asphyx and Hooded Menace, and blends them with the sonorous onslaught of bands such as Autopsy and Bolt Thrower. As filthy and decaying as death/doom should always be, Live Burial refined their sound even further in their sophomore record, Unending Futility, which stands as their best work so far and a definitive highlight in the genre this year. Rapid-fire guitar riffs that cut your throat in murderous fashion, blast beats that are as precise as they are deadly and tormented vocals that come straight out of Hell make the perfect recipe for a record that will be thoroughly enjoyed by the most avid fans of death and decay. [7.2]

Highlighted tracks: Seeping Into the Earth; Condemned to the Boats; Swing of the Pendulum; Rotting on the Rope

 

 

Oranssi Pazuzu – Mestarin Kynsi (Nuclear Blast Records)

Oranssi Pazuzu are a band that I have been following very closely for the past decade. Ever since the release of their second LP, Kosmonument, I have felt mesmerized by the peculiar and expansive sonorities they unleash with each release and so, naturally, the prospect of a new record by the Finnish collective is an idea that always captivates me. I must confess I was fearful at first – a change in label is not always a good sign, especially the one at hand -, but in the case of Oranssi Pazuzu I should have been weary of other things. If there is one aspect of Mestarin Kynsi that I dislike, it is the band’s willingness to perform long and drowned out intro sections that kill the momentum and flow of the record for me. Even though with each subsequent listen they have grown a bit on me, especially in the track “Kuulen ääniä maan alta”, I still feel the record suffers a bit from this and that, perhaps, these sections should have been shorten by half to give more space for the actual songs to breathe. Notwithstanding, Mestarin Kynsi is still an Oranssi Pazuzu record through and through, and a great one at that, as it still retains that touch of kaleidoscopic madness that is so often associated with the band, and the blend between psychedelic elements and black metal still works wonders for them. Their creativity seems to know no bounds and I’m grateful that, despite the aforementioned nuisances, the band still enjoys to fuck with some minds when creating music. [7.5]

Highlighted tracks: Ilmestys; Uusi teknokratia; Kuulen ääniä maan alta

 

 

Pyre – Chained to Ossuaries (Memento Mori)

Talk about brutality, fucking Pyre. Formed in May 2011 by members of Blazing Rust, Teitanfyre and Neva, this Russian trio unleashed a devastating debut record back in 2014 and, after releasing two splits, are back with another deliciously cruel full-length. Entitled Chained to Ossuaries, this is much like its predecessor, a 100% no bullshit, old-school death metal offering, chockful of potent drum pummels, assaulting guitar riffs and solos, and mercilessly sadistic vocals that howl unholy blasphemies, as if a mad man was chanting about the impending end of the world. There is a clear ferociousness in the sound of Pyre and they have managed to evolve it a bit further in their sophomore record by incorporating a bit of doom metal, something that makes things sound more fresh and interesting. Do yourself a favour and listen to this absolutely ruthless record. [8.0]

Highlighted tracks: Impaler the Redeemer; Across the Shores of Emerald Fractals; Ornaments of Bones; Crown of Death; Disgraced and Dethroned

 

 

tētēma – Necroscape (Ipecac Recordings)

Mike Patton is a man of many projects. Between Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk, Fantômas and so many others, it’s not only hard to keep track of everything the man has done during his music career but also, it’s hard to fathom how he finds the time and the creative insight to invest in all of his projects. The simplest answer is the man is a genius and a mad man, and that is a fact. And if you were thinking he was done doing stuff for a while, you are dead wrong. Enter tētēma, a project that joins Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras together to, well, do as they please sonically. After a debut record released in 2014, the modernist electro-acoustic rock duo returned this year with Necroscape, a record in which they are joined by violinist Erkki Veltheim and drummer Will Guthrie, and that stands as the fever dream of an insane asylum patient who dreads control and surveillance in a society that is full of it. From the futuristic and dystopic soundscapes of its predecessor, we go to a more uncontrollable and intense atmosphere. But despite all the dementia that the group musters in the record, it seems to be too displaced, convoluted and confusing to be enjoyed. Maybe the absurdity was turned way up or maybe Mr. Patton and co. should calm down for a while before attempting anything too unorthodox. [3.0]

Highlighted tracks: None.

 

 

The K. – Amputate Corporate Art (Jaune Orange)

Throughout their past two records, The K. have made a point in becoming an example on properly done hyperactive noise rock, and after a hiatus of three years, the band returns to unleash their third and most ambitious record to date, Amputate Corporate Art. As the name suggests, this new release sees The K. fight tackling issues relating to societal norms and the world of soulless corporate art – it’s a record about pain and hopelessness, but also tenderness and the desire for better things to come. Throughout the record, the band displays incredible walls of sound that contain some of the most interesting and lively guitar work that I’ve heard this year, as well as intricate and heavy drum play, all of which are complemented nicely by Sebastien von Landau’s incredibly grungy and outrageous voice. As is the norm with the noise rock genre, this record may feel a bit too crazy for some but rest assured, controlled chaos is a specialty and The K. are masters of it. [7.6]

Highlighted tracks: The Future is Bright; Dominant Tracks; Petty Profit; The Rougher Aspects of Love; Keep My Nightmares Cold

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