Thursday, 26 April 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Of Feather And Bone, "Bestial Hymns of Perversion"

By: Mark Ambrose

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: March 23, 2018
Label: Profound Lore Records

It’s a stellar record, one that cuts deep and infects your blood supply.  I suggest you subject yourself to this trauma and damn the consequences.

“Bestial Hymns of Perversion” CD//DD//LP track listing

1. Repulsive Obscurity
2. Resounding from the Depths
3. Lust for Torment
4. Mockery of the Ascension
5. Hymn of Perversion
6. Pious Abnormality
7. Throne of the Serpent

The Review:
There are a few tried and true methods when it comes to hair-raising metal album intros.  Some really solid menacing spoken word, particularly religious insanity culled from a crackling radio transmission.  The patented horror movie sample of practically any Mortician song.  So when I heard demonic chanting and what can only be described as the buzz of carrion flies, I knew I was in for some relentlessly grim death metal.  I did not expect, however, that with “Bestial Hymns of Perversion”, I’d be wading into a grim, necrotic nightmare that may also be one of the best releases of the year.  With their second full-length, Of Feather and Bone have completely reinvented themselves as one of the most devastating death acts operating today.
Aforementioned opener “Repulsive Obscurity”, after the descent into sonic madness of the intro, centers on drummer PW’s double-kick assault.  This is tribal warfare music, not tech wizardry – every hit sounds like it’s rattling against bloodied skins, reverberating through a chasm of evil.  The thick, fuzzy tone of DG’s guitar is pure filth, without ever losing the discernable, disturbing riffing.  AS’s bass is much more subdued but essential, a clean counter to the buzzing fury of the six-string assault.  Meanwhile, AS and DG counter guttural death growls with agonized, frayed higher register shrieks.  The combination is particularly unnerving.  Which isn’t to suggest its pure cacophony – tracks like “Resounding from the Depths” have an oldschool punky rhythm break that bely the trio’s earlier hardcore roots.
“Lust for Torment” may be the standout track for me on a record without a moment of filler.  The breakdown, punctuated by cracking snare work, frenetic fills, and pinch harmonics that will make you scream “fuck!” while you’re sitting all alone in traffic, is one of the most enervating musical moments of my year.  Plus the mid-song crescendo is the type of chugging riffing that mosh pits were made for.  The tortured high end vocals of “Mockery of the Ascension” are almost too distressing after such brutality, but Of Feather and Bone is not here for your weak bullshit.  Instead the tribal rhythms coalesce again, around a blissfully simple guitar line.  The minimal, tremolo lead work is as effective as any sweep picking, and far more memorable.

“Hymn of Perversion” is a testament to how aware Of Feather and Bone is of the power of space – sometimes they allow room to breathe, only to collapse back in with so much intensity that you may suffocate.  And throughout all this chaos, the production is never muddied, never too busy, always unflinching in capturing the relentless assaults on display.  When PW blisters his snare with furious blast beats on “Pious Abnormality”, not one hit is lost – no mean feat when the distortion is so primal.  “Throne of the Serpent” closes as the album began – with sheer, unmitigated power.  DG and AS weave a sinewy, descending guitar riff that is beyond sinister – it’s downright malevolent.  With tradeoffs between chugging rhythms and high-end tremolo, slowed down tribal drums and breakneck blast beats, the closer builds to a nauseating expulsion of raw energy, before dissipating in another cloud of buzzing flies.

It’s hard to express just how grim and powerful the whole experience of “Bestial Hymns of Perversion” is.  It stuck to me like a layer of grime you really need to scour yourself to get off.  Even when I felt unburdened from the filthy tones and punishing rhythms, I had to go back, re-traumatize myself, and contemplate just what was so unsettling and compelling about the whole thing.  For one, it’s a major departure from their frenzied, punky debut, “Embrace the Wretched Flesh”.  There’s far more skill, more despair, more wrathful intensity.  But there’s something ineffable about the primal necromancy these guys dredge up for “Bestial Hymns…”.  It’s a stellar record, one that cuts deep and infects your blood supply.  I’m likely to keep returning all year, like the scene of an atrocity I can’t erase from my memory.  I suggest you subject yourself to this trauma and damn the consequences.

“Bestial Hymns of Perversion” is available here

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: Vomitor, "Pestilent Death"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 20/04/2018
Label: Hells Headbangers Records

This is metal as it should be: balls to the wall, nasty sounding and with an evil undertone to it all. No wimps. No posers. Vomitor are ungodly and stand as a beacon of satanic light. Welcome to hell, again.

“Pestilent Death” CD//CS//DD//LP track listing:

1. Tremolation (04:19)
2. Roar of War (04:38)
3. Abracadabra (04:46)
4. Manic Oppression (03:48)
5. Tremendous Insane (05:40)
6. Pestilent Death (04:12)
7. Hells Butcher (04:29)

The Review:

Australia's Vomitor plays a kind of death metal/thrash metal/black metal hybrid. Noisy, tough and uncompromising about sums these boys up. This is very much on the Venom-Bathory-Sodom continuum, use that as a starting point and then modernise a bit...

The band, having been plugging away since the 90s and are on vicious form here. This is even better than “The Escalation” album of a few years ago. Better songs, production and mix. Over the course of seven tracks the band batters the listener very convincingly from the opening maelstrom of “Tremolation” to the slowed down and grinding “Road of War” and into the noise fest of “Abracadabra”, the band sets out their stall and invites you to leave if you don't like it.

You can hear the influences here; early Slayer, Sodom and so on, but this is more extreme than any of the bands mentioned above. The band has picked up the ball and run with it, Aussie-rules style. The dramatic opening of “Manic Oppression” gives way to an all out thrash attack while the album's epic centrepiece of “Tremendous Insane” makes a truly unholy racket.

Of the final two tracks, the title track is more blackened in approach while the closing horror of “Hells Butcher” is as beastly as the previous album's “Pitch Black”. The record is unrelenting and makes for very uneasy listening throughout. This is metal as it should be: balls to the wall, nasty sounding and with an evil undertone to it all. No wimps. No posers. Vomitor are ungodly and stand as a beacon of satanic light. Welcome to hell, again.

“Pestilent Death” is available on Cassette (HERE), CD (HERE), and Vinyl (HERE).

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

6 NEW BANDS: THE SLUDGELORD's 666 Pack Review (April 2018)

By: Nikos Mixas
Art by: Joshua M. Wilkinson

It’s the April edition of THE SLUDGELORD’s 666 PACK REVIEW and because Jesus turned into a zombie for all intents and purposes, we’re going with an undead rating scale this month.  If you’re new to this, each and every month we handpick 6 review submissions and critique them by only using 6 words, then we rate them on a scale from 1 to 666!  Check out this month’s zombified rating scale below: 

1 – Worse than a bunch of zombies eating a handful of Peeps covered in shit.       
2 – Zombified rabbits would consider this excellent music, um…we don’t. 
3 – You’re average, kind of like the movie, “American Zombie.”
4 – You just earned yourself a basket full of fleshy colored jelly beans.  Mmmmm…. zombies love flesh…
5 – Helluva lot better than any of the Rob Zombie or White Zombie albums in existence, that’s for sure. 
666THE SLUDGELORD commends your efforts for thwarting the zombie Jesus with your killer tunes!    

Some of you aren’t paying attention to this part…take notice!  Even though the 666 PACK REVIEW is meant to offer humorous critique, there are no safe spaces here and your gripes will be taken with a grain of salt.  THE SLUDGELORD is a picky listener…and doesn’t care what you think of his opinions….

1). Nervewrecker, “Murmur” (Norwich, England)    Rating: 4

Loud and plodding…Godzilla on downers.

2). Morpholith, “Void Emissions” (Reykjavík, Iceland)   Rating: 666!

Really digging the vocals. Hails Iceland!

3). Mystrionics, “Mystrionics” (Portland, Oregon) Rating: 5

THE SLUDGELORD loves a great curveball! 


4). Cries Of Your Sins, “Cries Of Your Sins” (Czechia) Rating: 5

Single person black metal blistering melodiousness.

5). Godhead Lizard, “Godhead Lizard” (Québec City, Québec)   Rating: 3

Hey Clutch, you’re drunk, go home…

6). Udyat, “Udyat” (Bahía Blanca, Argentina) Rating: 2

Raw…real raw, like REAL raw…

ALBUM REVIEW: Sleep, "The Sciences"

By: Mark Ambrose

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: April 20, 2018
Label: Third Man Records

“The Sciences” CD//DD//LP track listing

1. The Sciences
2. Marijuanaut’s Theme
3. Sonic Titan
4. Antarcticans Thawed
5. Giza Butler
6. The Botanist

The Review:        

How the hell do you approach a release like this?  Any Sleep fan had been hoping, expecting, waiting for a full-length to follow up the band-disintegrating opus “Dopesmoker”.  Even after original drummer Chris Hakius departed amicably after a series of reunion dates in 2009, there was hope of things to come.  The immediate live participation of Neurosis stalwart Jason Roeder, the sporadic trickle of new output like “The Clarity” single in 2014, and the ascension to “elder statesmen of metal” status of Matt Pike and Al Cisneros made some monumental future output all but certain.  And in a particularly keen bit of stoner humor, the trio dropped “The Sciences” on, of course, 4/20.  I actually feel pretty bad for anyone else dropping their own passion projects on a date that Sleep practically owns.  And beyond the particular bit of gimmicky scheduling, “The Sciences” is as appropriate a paean to smoke altered consciousness as stoner metal worshipers could have hoped for.
The introductory title jam is a wall of savage, droning fuzz.  It’s chaotic, gut churning, and LOUD even through a pair of earbuds.  Like a bongrip as rocket launch, the brief number propels into “Marijuanaut’s Theme”.  Cisneros’ bass tone and subtle variations is a welcome counter to Matt Pike’s signature MONSTER playing, and his brief solo breaks are invigorating.  Each speaker is palpable in Pike’s riffing, but he’s distinctly not hijacking as a repository for High on Fire castoffs, or vice versa.  His style with Sleep is looser and dirtier, less Fast Eddie Clarke and more Tony Iommi.  His ability to simultaneously melt faces in two distinct outfits should never be discounted, but here, with less autonomy, his soloing shows a joyfulness that you don’t often get in the gritty, paranoid shredding of the most recent High on Fire albums.  And, from a production standpoint, this is completely beholden to power trio methods – when Matt shreds, there may be multitracked lead freakouts, but there are no rhythm guitar overdubs.  The whole thing could be pulled off live and sound just as full as the record.

“Sonic Titan” is one of those long fermenting cuts that first saw life decades ago, appearing as a rough cut on the Tee Pee issue of the (still incomplete) “Dopesmoker” in 2003.  Anyone professing that the “original” is better, is likely trying way too hard.  This is a honed, heavy, beefed up track.  Plus, Sleep is all about that positively pornographic tone, and while the “Dopesmoker” outtake has a raw appeal, the warmth and fuzz crackling across my speakers is perfect.  Plus, this may be my favorite use of bass wah post-Sabbath.  In my brief scrolls through social media, Al Cisneros’ peculiar vocal delivery seems to be a divisive issue: for those who followed Om, Al’s style is not surprising, perhaps a trademark, and even beloved.  For others, the flat affect is confounding.  I’m of two minds here – sometimes it sounds like the vocals are just a little too high in the mix, but I also really love distinctive vocal cadences.  To hear Cisneros fronting Sleep is a joy – and the register of his chants on “Sonic Titan” is a welcome departure from the strained yelp of the earlier, live cut of the long gestating song.

“Antarcticans Thawed”, a Lovecraftian epic with shades of spaghetti western in the opening, is the best track, and features Al’s best, most intense vocal performance on the record.  In comparison, “Giza Butler” is a bit too restrained.  It sneers but never snarls, though the riffs and mystical cannabinoid is a damned bit of fun that should be adapted into its own issue of Heavy Metal (the fantasy mag, not the genre).  And if “Giza…” transports us to outer rim planets of continental nugs, the sweet, acoustic denouement of “The Botanist” is an instrumental sendoff that brings the most bleary eyed listener back to equilibrium.

So can it possibly live up to the hype?  Honestly, what could?  This is not “Dopesmoker” part 2, or even a follow-up to “Holy Mountain”.  But even though this is heralded as a comeback record, it’s really a new permutation of the gestating giant. From the first crashes and fills, Jason Roeder establishes his own identity as a new element of Sleep.  Whether here or with Neurosis, he’s a titan of the kit.  He, thankfully, doesn’t ape Hakius’ beloved style – peppered with idiosyncratic snare work and warped cymbal crashes.  In reality, anyone doing a “Hakius v. Roeder” rundown is playing a fool’s game: they stand not so much in opposition as distinctly powerful eras of Sleep – the playful, Loki style playing of Hakius and the muscular, Thor on drums mastery of Roeder. 

So it’s a bit of a cheat – Sleep but not the Sleep you expected.  But in the course of 6 prog-infused stoner metal jams, Cisneros, Pike and Roeder earn all the goodwill they garnered in the post-“Dopesmoker” wilderness.   If anything, their well honed prowess outmatches any expectations.  Wherever “The Sciences” is ranked in the Sleep discography, it stands as a testament to a band who had to wait nearly 20 years for the critical and music-buying public to catch up.  Or, more aptly to spark up, sit down, and thrust themselves into the hazy riff worship they’ve been peddling longer than nearly anyone still relevant in the metal game.

“The Sciences” is available here

Band info: facebook

Monday, 23 April 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Pestilence, "Hadeon"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 05/03/2018
Label: Hammerheart Records

As early as the third track, “Multi Dimensional”, it is certain that Pestilence are well and truly back and firing on all cylinders.  “Hadeon” is business as usual and for Pestilence, business is good

“Hadeon” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Unholy Transcript
2. Non Physical Existent
3. Multi Dimensional
4. Oversoul
5. Materialization
6. Astral Projection
7. Discarnate Entity
8. Subvisions
9. Manifestations
10. Timeless
11. Ultra Demons
12. Layers Of Reality
13. Electro Magnetic

The Review:

Since 2013's “Obsideo”, Pestilence has once again become defunct and been reactivated. The Dutch troupe that made “Testimony Of The Anicents” and “Consuming Impulse” have their place in death metal history assured, so why continue at this point? Well, Patrick Mameli obviously still feels that he still has something to say in the genre, despite his protestations that he no longer listens to metal.

It would be fair to say that this picks up where “Obsideo” left off. The band (or Mameli and cohorts) retains its angular and technical sound. “Astral Projection” is a somewhat unusual example of something different in that it features a robotic sounding voice and some almost jazz like verse sections. The album is not all experimentation, though. “Manifestations” sounds much more like business as usual for Pestilence. There are a couple of extra tracks on here in comparison to “Obsideo”, but they are instrumental interludes and the main tracks such as “Materialization” remain as focused as ever. Once again, Mameli has focused on short running times, bags of riffs and loads going on in each three minute piece. It certainly makes the album easier to listen to from a fan's perspective. You can engage with the sound and songs (or not) fairly quickly.

There are really riffs galore and Mameli has retained the distinctly Euro-death feel that the band has always had- along with a technical approach. One thing to note is that to these ears Pestilence sound nowhere near as extreme as they once did. Maybe this is because times have moved on and extreme metal has only got more extreme, or maybe it is because Pestilence have always been quite a listenable band- even early on. I'll leave that for you to decide.

There are enough adrenaline inducing tracks such as the closing “Electro Magnetic” to keep the die hards happy, while there are enough textures to keep more progressive or tech death fans content as well. The shredding solos of “Layers of Reality” are a joy, the all out assault of “Timeless” a visceral delight. As early as the third track, “Multi Dimensional”, it is certain that Pestilence are well and truly back and firing on all cylinders. The mix is much better than “Obsideo” with the snare in particular being much less intrusive, but overall there is not too much to split the two records to my ears. I think this is superior to “Obsideo” and sounds more pleasing to boot. “Hadeon” is business as usual and for Pestilence, business is good

“Hadeon” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

EXCLUSIVE STREAM & REVIEW: Aerosol Jesus bring the heavy underground to its knees with debut "Failure"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 28/04/2018
Label: Astral Noize Records

Imagine the bludgeoning weight of Old Man Gloom and Sumac engulfed by a wave of thick, dirty noise and you have a good idea of the oppressive atmosphere Aerosol Jesus create.

“Failure” CS//DD track listing:

1). Legacy
2). Here is not here
3). The Inbetween
4). Lurch Leech Grasp

The Review:

Right from the first filthy, earth-shaking chord it is clear that Aerosol Jesus’ debut EP is something very special. “Failure” consists of just four tracks but this is enough to demonstrate the frightening power of this Brighton quintet.

The ominous introduction of “Legacy” builds tension with a funereal drum beat and distant squeals of feedback. When the band fully kicks in, the impact is devastating. Imagine the bludgeoning weight of Old Man Gloom and Sumac engulfed by a wave of thick, dirty noise and you have a good idea of the oppressive atmosphere Aerosol Jesus create. Sections of pummelling sludge give way to outbreaks of scratchy black metal that elevate the track into epic yet still dark territory.

Throughout the EP the music is a perfect match for the bleak despondency of the lyrics. The most spine-tingling example of this is when the slow-burning restraint of “The Inbetween” erupts into a huge lament of “Standing on the edge of life and death”. “Lurch Leech Grasp” closes proceedings with a lumbering, queasy doom riff that squeezes maximum despair from every note. The treacly tempo is punctuated by an outburst of horrible noise rock riffage that highlights Aerosol Jesus’ talent to bring a level of nastiness to their sludge that few can match.

It is rare to hear a band so fully formed on their first release. If “Failure” is anything to go by, Aerosol Jesus are set to bring the heavy underground to its knees.  

“Failure” is available here

Band info: facebook

TRACK PREMIERE: London heavyweights Limb debut "Wych Elm"

London heavyweights Limb set the controls for the heart of the sun with their third record on New Heavy Sounds.  “Saboteurs of the Sun” sees Limb hurl themselves skyward to discover new worlds within the riff–time continuum.  Building on their previous two records, which positioned the band in the thick of the UK heavy fuzz scene, the band now move beyond their sludge–doom origins to explore a cosmos of bubbling synthesizers, screaming organs, ecstatic choirs and galaxies of wild unidentified sounds, but feaer not the grooves, the power and the chops are all there in spades – helped by a masterful production from Russ Russell (Napalm Death, At the Gates, etc.)  “Saboteurs Of The Sun” will land on May 25th and today you can get your first taste of the record  with an exclusive stream of the track “Wych Elm” below.  Preorders are being taken here

Singer Rob Hoey had the following to say about track:

"In 1943, a woman’s dead body was found stuffed inside the hollow trunk of a wych elm tree in the West Midlands. No-one knows who she was. Perhaps she was a Nazi spy, perhaps a local prostitute, perhaps the victim of an occult killing – after all, her severed hand was found elsewhere, consistent with the ‘Hand of Glory’ ritual. The mystery remains very much alive through the enigmatic reappearance of graffiti asking, “Who put Bella in the wych elm?” We still want to know."

Limb Live Rituals:
Sat 19 May - London, Underdog Gallery
Fri 25 May - Bournemouth, The Anvil
Sat 26 May - Southampton, Firehouse

Sun 27 May - Cardiff, Tiny Rebel, Cardiff Psych and Noise Fest

Band info: facebook