Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Coffin Torture - Dismal Planet

Cover art by Thorfinn

Coffin Torture couldn't really have chosen a better name for their album. Dismal Planet works as both a reference to the state of the Earth in these times and as a reflection of the gargantuan sludge/doom the duo rely on to break up all that wax crusting up your ears.

Thorfinn handles guitar, bass, and vocals with Blind Samson handling drums, keyboards, and samples. You'll have to listen hard for those keys and samples but that's okay because this begs to be cranked to maximum volume. Secure any loose items first unless you want them on the floor. The level of low end distortion emanating from the speakers registers on the Richter Scale. It's a planet-sized record bleeding filth and darkness enough that “dismal” could be the most appropriate descriptor needed.

Coffin Torture work through a variety of tempos but by and large they operate on two levels; doom and sludge. Slow and not as slow. The faster parts are really driven by the percussion as the fuzz truly permeates the auditory spectrum and flows into one overwhelming wave of distortion. Layers stack upon one another until it creates a sound so thick and sustaining that silence is just not an option. The notes though are not hidden by the blanket of sustained noise affecting every nerve in your body. They just resonate. The notes hit like hammers and leave a lasting impression of residual amplifier strain.

The nuance here is subtle but effective. A ringing phone here, some psychedelic flavouring there, etc. In a way the straightforward nature of their low-slung sludge-conjuring doom doesn't have much to say but when the music holds you down and delivers this much pain the most poignant things to say don't even come out as words. In much the same way the lyrics come as perhaps less important than the way they are expressed. I'm sure Thorfinn would disagree, and I'm not trying to discount lyrics in any way but you can't help but feed off the rawness of the vocals.

It's pretty obvious what you're getting with Dismal Planet. Mountain-crumbling doom fused to sick sludge riffs heavy enough to affect your gas mileage. Coffin Torture bury the listener neck deep in fuzz then deliver a righteous beating that only dents the wall of distortion. Duos like this have a way of getting in, kicking ass, and getting out before the supernova explodes. Explode away.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Kingdom of Noise Picks the Best of 2017: Top 20

Hey! Yeah, I meant to get around to posting this weeks ago but life gets in the way. Life is continuing to do that so I'm just going to post my Top 20 of 2017 without blurbs and stuff. Just the band, album, label and a link. That should be enough, eh?

20. Monolord - Rust (Riding Easy)

19. Archspire - Relentless Mutation (Season of Mist)

18. Cannibal Corpse - Red Before Black (Metal Blade)

17. Necrolytic Goat Converter - Isolated Evolution (self-released)

16. Mutoid Man - War Moans (Sargent House)

15. Woe - Hope Attrition (Vendetta)

14. River Black - River Black (Season of Mist)

13. Pallbearer - Heartless (Profound Lore)

12. Ufomammut - 8 (Neurot)

11. Queens of the Stone Age - Villians (Matador)

Villains on Spotify

10. Spirit Adrift - Curse of Conception (20 Buck Spin)

9. Space Witch - Arcanum (HeviSike)

8. Royal Thunder - Wick (Spinefarm)

Wick on Spotify

7. Hell - Hell (Lower Your Head)

6. Wiegedood - De Doden Hebben Het Goed II (Consouling Sounds)

5. The Atomic Bitchwax - Force Field (Tee Pee)

4. Elder - Reflections of a Floating World (Stickman)

3. Couch Slut - Contempt (Gilead Media)

2. Olde - Temple (STB/Medusa Crush)

1. Alunah - Solennial (Svart)

Until next time!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Kingdom of Noise Picks the Best of 2017: 30-21

I think most of us were ready to put 2017 to rest. It was a tough year. I've had some personal hardships and some musical favourites have passed on. But 2017 wasn't a bad year for music. I really had to throttle back on the number of new releases I tried to consume. And I unintentionally cut way back on my writing. I'll try and fix that in 2018 but I can't make any promises. But in listening to fewer albums I was able to dedicate more time to the releases that I really enjoyed. That made making this list relatively easy as there weren't many other albums that I kept circling back to or that I could turn to no matter my mood. So know that I feel strongly about my picks. There will be some glaring omissions but I regret nothing.

Without further ado, our (my) picks for 2017's best releases #30-21!

30. Cavernlight - As We Cup Our Hands and Drink From the Stream of Our Ache (Gilead Media): You want misery? You got misery. This is the most miserable, depressing release I heard all year. Mind you, depressing music doesn't actually make me depressed so we're all good! But seriously, this kind of doom will break a person.

29. Young Hunter - Dayhiker (Fear and the Void): This one took some time to grow on me but when it did it spread like a fungus. Not necessarily a psychedelic fungus but visions of captivation by its subtle groove, smooth guitar work, and vocal interplay definitely danced in my head. Emotional. Soft yet heavy. Highly addictive.

28. Extremity - Extremely Fucking Dead (20 Buck Spin): How could a band consisting of Shelby Lermo, Aesop Dekker, Marissa Martinez-Hoadley and Erika Osterhout NOT kick ass? I'll have you know it kicks plenty of ass. Death metal ass. In "The Year of Death Metal" it's the fresh blood (er, new bands) that did the most damage to my ears. Brutality reigns!

I can't get the bloody embed to work. Click here for Extremely Fucking Dead on Bandcamp.

27. Bison - You Are Not the Ocean You Are the Patient (Pelagic): I see the Van City sludge stalwarts were able to drop the b.c. from their name. That's nice. It doesn't mean their riffs contain any fewer middle fingers though. New bass player, new label, same heaviness. I remember my bangovers from seeing them live and this one gives me the same feeling without even moving.

26. Woodhawk - Beyond the Sun (self-released): Woodhawk riffs are sweet riffs. Songs about Star Wars earn bonus points. A guest appearance by Kevin Keegan ices the cake. But all you really need are the riffs. Woodhawk put the whole package together with great songwriting, extreme catchiness and vocals you can sing along with. Hard rockin' and easy ridin'!

25. Void Ritual - Heretical Wisdom (Tridroid): If you're craving the icy pain of Scandinavian black metal but prefer it searing your flesh in the New Mexico sun, look no further than Void Ritual's debut full-length. Daniel Jackson threads powerful and gripping darkness right into your bones all while scorching a path of destruction through a vortex of determination. Dude just flat out rules.

24. Unearthly Trance - Stalking the Ghost (Relapse): 2010's V got me through many a cold Canadian Winter's night. I feared that may have been the last we heard of Unearthly Trance. I was extremely pleased when UT resurfaced to spread filthy doom across more frigid midnights. Scowl as you must and bang with all you've got; that ghost isn't going to stalk itself.

23. Necrot - Blood Offerings (Tankcrimes): FUCKING DEATH METAL!!! I can't dig all these death metal bands making things all weird and shit. I want death metal to kick me in the mouth over and over again with skull-cracking riffs that I can actually headbang to. Necrot give me all the old school death feelings I crave from the downtuned, guttural vocalized, bone-breaking end of the metal spectrum.

22. Electric Wizard - Wizard Bloody Wizard (Spinefarm): Electric Wizard could put out an album of cow patties hitting the ground turned into riffs and I'd fucking buy it. But that takes nothing away from their newest effort. The British doom institution delves into Uncle Acid territory on this one but maintain their classic EW identity in the smokey haze that proves eternally addictive.

21. Cavalera Conspiracy - Psychosis (Napalm): Max Cavalera is basically metal royalty to me so it was a given that anything he put out this year was going to show up on this list. CC's latest doesn't disappoint with its varied attack. The Cavalera Bros. tear shit up like only they can and manage to sound less like Soulfly than on previous albums. I spent more money on this album (deluxe box) than any other this year and it was totally worth it.

Top 20 when I get around to it. ~Matt

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Olde - Temple

Let’s get this out of the way first: I love Olde. I’ve been boosting this band from the beginning. Heavy-ass, sludgy doom from my neck of the woods? Yes, please! In case you don’t know by now, Olde was put together by guitarist Greg Dawson (Cunter). He recruited strangers from the same city to form the band back in 2014. (Or at least that’s when debut album, I was released.) Bassist Cory McCallum (Five Knuckle Chuckle), vocalist Doug McLarty (ex-Jaww, Catharsis, Holy Order), guitarist Chris “Hippy” Hughes (Moneen) and a fellow I’d been listening to for ages, drummer Ryan Aubin of Sons of Otis round out the quintet. With each release, including 2016 EP Shallow Graves, Olde just keep getting better and newest opus, Temple is proof of that.

Let’s start with the title track. My notes indicate bludgeoning slow groove. But there’s more to it than that. Like McLarty’s gravel-throated bellows for one. Aubin pounds away as Dawson, Hughes and McCallum churn through the heaviness, letting each note reverberate through your core, building up the chorus and smashing the ceiling, or rather, causing it to crash down. It shifts gears ever so slightly past the halfway mark where we find a sweet solo worthy of the song’s title.

Elsewhere Olde deliver track after track of doomy sludge. If bands like EyeHateGod, Buzzov*en, Crowbar, etc. come to mind, it would make sense. Although personally I feel Olde carve their own niche in riff-driven HEAVY music. It also depends on how you define doom. Opener “Subterfuge” is full of huge, muscular riffs of the hard and heavy variety. Their rubbery elasticity induces a furious banging of heads and when Dawson and Hughes lock in together it is unstoppable.

Bluesy, atmospheric solos cut through the murk, sometimes with a melancholic edge. Massive power sends the weak scurrying in the face of the Southern sludge-styled apocalypse conjuring, stomping it all to dust. “Fast”, mid-tempo, or slow, it matters not. Olde bring it from start to finish. Their m.o. - riffs - strikes right in my heart. They make you a puppet, pulling at you, moving you, destroying you. Take “Maelstrom” for example. There’s this riff that hits around the four minute marks that hits so hard that you can’t help but bang your head. I saw them play a small club a few weeks before the album’s release. They played a bunch of these new tunes. I was already in pain (because I’m old) and when that riff hit, I was powerless and went all out. It left me in pain for weeks. Weeks! But despite that, I still banged away while driving as I just couldn’t stop listening. “Centrifugal Disaster” yields similar results.

Closer “Castaway” is that easy end people who “need a breather” need before cycling back to the fury of “Subterfuge”. Syrupy basslines meet guitars ringing into the night, Aubin sounds most in Sons of Otis mode, and tremolos ride on ascendant chords spiraling up and crashing back down with the splash of a cymbal. It’s the closest thing to beauty these boys muster.

Temple is insistently catchy. I’m not saying that because I’ve listened to it a hundred times. (Ah, the privilege of band relations!) These riffs are hot. Dirty doom to the highest degree. Sonic beatings, broken necks, thoughtful lyrics and endless groove all come together to make not only for quite possible Canada’s best album of 2017, (sorry, Bison.) but one of 2017’s best globally. Oh no! I’m a globalist!

Worship the tone. Bathe in the glory of the riffs. Offer praise to percussion. Bow before the bellows. Enter the Temple.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Death Metal Epic Book II: Goat Song Sacrifice by Dean Swinford (ATLATL Press)

It seems like forever ago that I reviewed Death Metal Epic Book I: The Inverted Katabasis for a site that no longer exists. (2013!) So here's a little recap before we get to Book II: Goat Song Sacrifice.

Death Metal Epic follows our protagonist David Fosberg navigating post-high school life as a death metal guitarist in Miami during the heyday of Floridian death metal. Tape trading, fanzines, no internet. You get the idea. His band, Valhalla needs to fulfill their contract with Plutonic Records but the rest of the band split for college and gave up on the DM dream. Typical. Happens all the time.

David just happens to hook up with Juan, an eccentric fellow with some great ideas. Together they craft a very experimental album that satisfies the label enough that they are sent on a promised two week tour in Europe. Great, right?

The tour is a fool's errand. A way for the label to get Valhalla off the books and out of their hair. A disaster from the start, David and Juan quickly abandon the tour altogether. In the meantime, David meets with Nekrokor, a mysterious black metal musician and label owner who originally hated Valhalla's “life metal” but now wants to take the rechristened Katabasis under his wing. Book 1 ends with Fosberg taking a chance and staying in Europe to try and make his music dreams come true.

Book I (and Book II) are full of references to classic death metal bands as well as plenty from other subgenres. Swinford places these in such a way that -- and really, shapes David as a character -- exposes the metal culture as outsider culture. Which it is. But it also shines a light on how deeply passionate fans can be no matter how ridiculous it may seem, as anyone reading this probably knows from an insider's perspective. Swinford has struck the perfect level of self-awareness with Fosberg. Fosberg himself is even quite skeptical about just how INTO it some of his compatriots are. He, when you get right down to it, just wants to play some metal.

Nonetheless he faces the challenges of his new environment head on. Juan stuck around in Belgium too and their lives continue to intersect. I'm trying not to give away too much of the story here! The ethos of Fosberg's new associates, Nekrokor, Nordikron and Svart (and Juan to an extent) and their band Desekration can seem fairly ridiculous but it gives (at least to me) an accurate portrayal of that scene in the early '90s. Death metal is getting old and tired, black metal is the total death. They take the darkness very seriously, at least on the surface. I mean, how serious can you be when you still live at home with your mother, Svart?

It's relatable though. Think about it. How “cool” would metal be if those involved didn't put on some kind of act? You can't take your book store persona (Fosberg's old job) on the stage. Lame. Even for me, I talk one way when I'm writing a review of some nefarious filth cut to wax the colour of eternal darkness splattered in the blood of innocents, and completely different when I'm shooting the shit with pals. Even if I'm talking about the same thing. Swinford exposes that duality even if the characters in the book don't want to admit it.

Character-wise we see Fosberg coming out of his shell. He's living on a different continent, trying to immerse himself in a different culture, and still chase the metal dream. That's a far cry from feeling trapped in a dead-end job in the swamps of South Florida. He's even putting old loves behind him. Sort of. We'll have to wait until Book III to see how that plays out.

All the strengths of The Inverted Katabasis are replicated in Goat Song Sacrifice; Swinford's intriguing, relatable and interesting characters, his deep knowledge of both metal history and the locations described (he grew up in Miami and studied in Ghent, Belgium) and his way of describing it all with just the right amount of detail. You can picture it all but it doesn't distract from the story.

The story itself is a page turner. It's easy to read for us neanderthal metalheads and our more learned peers should still find themselves engaged. Digging a little you'll find out that more than a little of the Epic is autobiographical. No goat sacrifices that I know of though. Knowing that puts a different spin on how you read the books. Swinford didn't just do his research, he lived it.

I highly recommend the series. Where else are you going to read death metal fiction? Ya, I thought so. Prepare a worthy offering and receive Death Metal Epic Book II: Goat Song Sacrifice!

P.S. There's a cliffhanger at the end of this one too. Damn you, Dean!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fuzzorama Records Label Feature: 2016 Releases!

Swedish label Fuzzorama Records has been around since 2003 but you're forgiven if you've never heard of it. I have to forgive my myself as I've only been aware of their rock solid catalog for a few years now. That seems kind of impossible since the label is owned and run by none other than Truckfighters! How was I not on board in 2003?

As one would expect the Fuzzo roster is loaded with bands that share some (read: a lot) of stylistic similarities with the riff generators running the show. 2016 only saw three releases on the label (plus a live Truckfighters album) but quality over quantity wins every time. When you're done checking out the three releases featured below dig a little deeper starting with We Hunt Buffalo and Deville. Solid, solid stuff.

Hail the fuzz!

Valley of the Sun – Volume Rock

I've talked about this release before but in the intervening months nothing has changed. Volume Rock is still the perfect title for the album as it a) does totally rock and b) needs to be cranked to 11. It's an inoffensive, groove laden bitch of an album. Apparently this Cincinnati product has been around for a while (2010) but I'm just hearing about them now. Shame.

They couldn't be a more perfect fit for the label. They've got all the Fuzzo touchstones that are expected; riffs, groove, tone and that intoxicated/intoxicating vibe. There are no frills. Just straight up rockin'. There's dynamics though. Their movements from big sky openness to heavy-handed throwdowns are fluid and clean. Speaking of clean, that's how the vocals are.

Not just clean though. Ryan Ferrier has range! The kind of range that recalls vintage-era Chris Cornell. In fact, fans of Soundgarden's older (pre-Superunknown) material shouldn't find anything to complain about here.

Valley of the Sun have a real sense of drive. Their ample energy and sweet solos push and pull at the listener in equal measure. It's a weird sense in that you want to remain in place and take it in but it compels you to move. Not just the constant head nod/bang and toe taps. But move toward some sort of transportation and let the tunes rip as you cruise down an empty highway with the vocals moving you in a different way on tracks like “Speaketh” and “Land of Fools”.

Valley of the Sun and Volume Rock aren't doing anything new or innovative but that's really okay. If you just want to listen to fuzzed out riffs, bone-shaking bass and purposeful percussion, and not get screamed at, you don't need anything other than this. Just give this baby all the volume you've got and set your spirit free!

Truckfighters – V

V is, you guessed it, the fifth album from riffsters Truckfighters. Releasing your own band's albums give the boys a freedom to do whatever the hell they want (even though V is sub-licensed on Century Media, which is likely the reason it's not on bandcamp) and for this one Truckfighters have ventured off the path a little. You're still going to get a bevy of riffs and a warm, fuzzy tone that's just dialed right in, man. But this album feels and sounds a little more mature. This different approach has been met with some negativity and that's not without warrant. But that's typical of any band that evolves really. Also, sources must be considered. ie. YouTube comments for one.

Where V differs from the norm is in how they have stretched things out. At seven songs over 47 minutes that put the average song length at almost 7 minutes. A little long for stoner rock, eh? Well, Truckfighters have added some prog into the mix. Sections that feel more jammed out work into the structure, lengthening the tracks. Plus there's some straight up slow, pretty parts (“Storyline”). Sure, it's a different energy and depending on mood it could drag you down but you can't expect the same thing every album. I read once that Josh Homme loves these guys and look how diverse his career is.

If you listen close you'll hear the progressive influences, especially in the bass. “Hawkshaw” in particular features a bass line walking along a trail blazed by Tool. It's pretty great. You could follow that with some comparisons to Anciients in how they incorporate prog elements while still nailing tone. When Truckfighters aren't laying back they've still got ample crunch. And those riffs! No matter how you feel about V you can't fault the plethora of riffs coming at you.

Tone, riffs and groove are what we've come to expect from the Swedes, but this time they fleshed the plan out giving it more substance, and a maturity that some people (not just YouTube trolls) apparently aren't ready for. I'll admit at times my attention wandered (more than usual) but then Truckfighters will come in with some bangin' riffs to bring me right back. You just have to be patient and remember, they can only make Gravity X once.

Asteroid – III

Asteroid is another band who have been around a while but have just made their way to my ears. And truth be told, sitting down to write this is perhaps the first time I've listened to III sober. It's a stoner rock album after all! Or heavy psych. Pick your descriptor. Either way if you haven't already separated yourself from reality, III might just do it for you.

Listening clear headed does nothing to harsh the mellow or bring you down from the inevitable high Asteroid provide. It's the same sort of feeling you get from older Witchcraft or (a long lost favourite) Mammoth Volume. Everything just unrolls in its own good time spreading grooves and a raw, vintage tone far and wide. Not that they can't amp it up a little but for the most part they're content to soothe rather than slam. But that rollicking riff on “Wolf & Snake” mated to the soulful solo? Hot damn! That's fire, man!

That's a good track to highlight the dynamics on III though. After that high energy passage it gets low and slow, burning with a dirty tone and doomy riff. Contrast the earthly and sub-earthly facets against the heavenly heights Asteroid can reach with delightful melody, spacey atmosphere and soaring vocals and you've got one killer stoner rock album that begs repeat listens.

III captures a retro sensibility as well. Other than production value (Which is aces in this case.) you could drop this into 1972 and no one would bat an eyelash. Ok, “Them Calling” might blow some minds. The low end tone of this is incredible which enhances the bluesy, Sabbathian riffs. It's a balanced heavy and the chorus feels empowering and would be particularly endearing to fans of The Sword (pre-High Country).

III gets better with every spin. It's addicting and oh, so smooth. It grooves at all the right times, rocks when it has to and trips with every smoked-out second that hazily rolls by. This was easily one of the best stoner albums of 2016. Break out the bell bottoms and get those Coven and Wicked Lady records on standby.

There you have it, the 2016 Fuzzorama Records releases all in one handy place! Rock on!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Top 10 Canadian Albums of 2016

Originally posted at Hellbound.ca along with the picks from the rest of the team.

Honourable Mentions: Dopethrone - 1312 EP, La Chinga - Free Wheelin’, Thrawsunblat - Metachthonia, The Night Watch - Boundaries, Panzerfaust - The Lucifer Principle.

10. Domestikwom - Pater Vita EP (self-released): Domestikwom is a one man black metal project from Jonathan Petkau. I like to think “domestikwom” means “pet cow” in a language I don’t know. But this isn’t a funny EP. It’s admirably bleak and cut with electronic touches and somewhat morose spoken word. The atmosphere is spread thick over the dynamic whole. This project has plenty of potential. Wait, were those horns?

9. Harangue - No New Prey (Pluto Records): I’ve been repping Harangue since Day One, yes. But this TOHC crew continues to impress. No New Prey shows an increased range while still managing to piledrive the listener into paralysis. Well, at least you’ll be paralyzed after moshing like a madman to their take on ‘90s Hardcore. I can still hear those little hints of Helmet too. This band is underappreciated to say the least.

8. Black Wizard - New Waste (Listenable): Who doesn’t love a good riff? I know I do. Black Wizard do too. So they packed New Waste with riffs. Of the stoner rock kind. I’ve passed a joint and drank beers with these guys so I know their laid-back-but-edgy sonic aesthetic isn’t a put on. Some good times were had in 2016 getting wasted with New Waste!

7. Forteresse - Thèmes pour la Rébellion (Sepulchral): I can be pretty picky with my black metal but I like this kind. Depraved vocals, soaring tremolos blazing across dark skies, and jackhammer percussion. It’s relentless and epic if not exactly original. Originality is hard come by while staying within genre boundaries but when done this well it doesn’t matter. It’s one of my favourite black metal albums of the year, Canadian or otherwise.

6. Olde - Shallow Graves EP (self-released): Do you like Eyehategod, Buzzov*en, -(16)-, Bongzilla, Crowbar and other sludge acts of that ilk? Then you’ll like Olde. They’ve got an LP coming out on STB next year but this year’s EP is enough to satiate even the biggest Olde appetite. Gravelly vocals, endless killer riffs, tone for days and an all-star cast from the Toronto scene. What more do you want? How about a Motörhead cover? DONE. Besides, have you seen how cool those motherfuckers look in their bandcamp cover photo? DOOM ON!!!

5. Begrime Exemious - The Enslavement Conquest (Dark Descent): I can get picky with my death metal too (note the lack of Chthe’ilist, Auroch or Phobocosm) but I’ve no problem with the raw, raging death of Begrime Exemious. They’ve got the kind of old school, foot to the floor approach that causes concussions and makes chiropractors see dollar signs. I really should get a copy of this on CD but it might make driving dangerous. Oops. Just ordered the t-shirt bundle.

4. Astrakhan - Reward in Purpose (War on Music): Like their Vancouver brethren Anciients, Astrakhan can be classed as progressive sludge. Astrakhan however replace the former’s deathly edge with an almost doomy feel. And more melody than you can shake a stick at. But their real game changer is the vocals. Toth and Zawistowski soar and scream and harmonize and raise the album above the considerable heights achieved musically. The reward here is letting the album consume you.

3. Public Animal - Palace Arms (Yeah Right!): I knew a couple of Public Animal songs before I saw them play with Olde. And I was somewhat familiar with Bionic and C’Mon. But now nothing makes me feel as good as Palace Arms. It’s an instant pickmeup. Ian Blurton is a national treasure. Caitlin Dacey is as wondrous as DisneyWorld fireworks. Eric Larock and Ryan Gassi are the rhythm section sent from the gods. Palace Arms is psychedelic garage/prog rock fire to fall in love with.

2. Blood Ceremony - Lord of Misrule (Rise Above): I literally cannot get enough of this album. Keys, flute and all. Alia O’Brien is incomparable. But that wouldn’t mean a thing if the band didn’t rock like they do. Vintage occult rock virtually without equal. Their spell over me cannot be broken. There hasn’t been a single moment since I got the promo that I didn’t want to listen to and absorb this. Captivating doesn’t even scratch the surface. And my kids don’t run away when I play it.

1. Anciients - Voice of the Void (Season of Mist): Recently someone commented that Voice of the Void is soulless and boring. I don’t want what they’re smoking because I find this soulful and exciting. The multi-faceted vocals are spectacular, the solos deliver all the goods and the prog on display is well-crafted and balanced with the crushing sludge. This is only their second full-length, man. You could say they haven’t even hit their stride yet as you know, that’s kind of the point of progression. This is even better than Heart of Oak so I’m really looking forward to loving what’s next even more.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My Favourite Albums of 2016

Most scrobbled albums of 2016 as per last.fm

So I scaled back on my writing this year. You couldn’t tell from this site because it’s neglected anyway but I wrote less for other sites. I was burning out, man! I was losing the passion. I had become a factory. I work at one and I don’t want my job to become my identity. Ha! In doing so I was able to enjoy fewer albums to a greater degree instead of my previous method of listen-write-move on. I didn’t have to move on if I didn’t want to. So basically my Top 20 albums of 2016 are those albums that I didn’t want to move on from. And didn’t. Or at least kept coming back to them. Now bear in mind there are a handful of Canadian albums that cracked 11-20 but since they’ll be highlighted in my Top 10 Canadian Albums for Hellbound.ca I left them out to highlight as much as I could. Screw it. Let’s just make this a Top 40. But pay little attention to the numbers after 20. Let’s get to it.

40. Darkthrone - Arctic Thunder (Peaceville)
39. Neurosis - Fire Within Fires (Neurot)
38. Mizmor - Yodh (Gilead Media)
37. Skeletonwitch - The Apothic Gloom (Prosthetic)
36. Asteroid - III (Fuzzorama)
35. Meshuggah - The Violent Sleep of Reason (Nuclear Blast)
34. Psalm Zero - Stranger to Violence (Profound Lore)
33. Khemmis - Hunted (20 Buck Spin)
32. Amon Amarth - Jomsviking (Metal Blade)
31. Conan - Revengeance (Napalm)
30. Sumac - What One Becomes (Thrill Jockey)
29. The Dillinger Escape Plan - Dissociation (Party Smasher)
28. Sourvein - Aquatic Occult (Metal Blade)
27. The Shrine - Rare Breed (Century Media)
26. Brant Bjork & The Low Desert Punk Band - Tao of the Devil (Napalm)
25. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell - Keep it Greasy (Rise Above)
24. Fistula - Longing for Infection (self-released)
23. Trap Them - Crown Feral (Prosthetic)
22. Gozu - Revival (Ripple Music)
21. Gatecreeper - Sororan Depravation (Relapse)
20. Greenleaf - Rise Above the Meadow (Napalm): I’m a sucker for stoner rock.
19. Gojira - Magma (Roadrunner): I’m hit or miss with this band. Hit.
18. Ringworm - Snake Church (Relapse): Human Furnace burns so hot!
17. Ash Borer - The Irrepassable Gate (Profound Lore): They can do no wrong.
16. Crowbar - The Serpent Only Lies (eOne): Always brings the heavy.
15. Megadeth - Dystopia (Tradecraft/Universal): Megadeth back on point!
14. Wrong - Wrong (Relapse): Blatant Helmet worship works for me!
13. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard - Y Proffwyd Dwyll (New Heavy Sounds): DOOM!
12. -(16)- - Lifespan of a Moth (Relapse): RIFFS RIFFS SLOW SOUTHERN STEEL
11. Testament - Brotherhood of the Snake (Nuclear Blast): Thrash album of the year!
10. Spirit Adrift - Chained to Oblivion (Prosthetic): Emotionally addictive.
8. Oranssi Pazuzu - Värähtelijä (20 Buck Spin): Goodbye, reality.
7. Subrosa - For This We Fought The Battle of Ages (Profound Lore): No brainer.
6. Blood Ceremony - Lord of Misrule (Rise Above): Captivating isn’t even a start.
5. Graves at Sea - The Curse That Is (Relapse): May have compromised the structural integrity of my house.
4. Hammers of Misfortune - Dead Revolution (Metal Blade): So much air guitar.
3. Anciients - Voice of the Void (Season of Mist): My kind of prog. The sludgy kind.
2. Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas - Mariner (Indie Recordings): Wow. Just fucking WOW.
1. Cobalt - Slow Forever (Profound Lore): Charlie Fell and Erik Wunder are a match made in heaven.

Here's hoping 2017 is better. Even with Trump as leader of the free world.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Trap Them - Crown Feral

By now Trap Them have built quite a reputation as unfuckwithable purveyors of corrosive grindcore or "dark hardcore" as the Seattle-based foursome are often described. They've only strengthened their stranglehold on the upper echelon with new album, Crown Feral. Reception for 2014's Blissfucker wasn't quite as warm as that for previous LP Darker Handcraft but you'd be hard pressed to criticize this latest offering. It's 10 tracks force fed over 32 minutes that will have you choking on your own vomit trying to match their fierce intensity.

Opening with "Kindred dirt" Ryan McKenney barks over a slow build - like the deep breaths taken to steady the heart and mind - before plunging into the vortex of chaos unleashed over the next half hour. Once they get into it they leave no doubt that their fire burns hotter than ever. Trap Them slice and dice with buzzing guitars and percussion that just won't quit. The energy is off the charts. Adrenaline pumps so hard just listening to it that I can't imagine their live shows. Back when Blissfucker came out I even stated that if I saw them live I'd spend the whole time on all fours barking and snarling, foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog. I'd bark even louder now. Trap Them definitely have a way of bringing out our animal nature.

Few bands can tap into that feral side quite like they do. I won't get all hyperbolic about being the best this or the greatest that but they make it impossible to listen passively, especially during the hard hits on a track like "Prodigala". You just want to double down on the urge to unleash on everything in whatever way suits you best. Screaming, moshing or other such loss-of-self activities.

As much as Trap Them run circles around you in a buzzsaw fury, they can and do slow things down every once in a while on Crown Feral adding some dynamic flow to the album. Those moments still pull some groove amid riffs that blast like automatic cannon fire. In their "lighter" moments they bend and stretch your will with ease, as displayed on closer "Phantom Air" as at this point you've been made malleable and unable to withstand the onslaught. Have no fear though as the closing minute or so reignites the flame from still scorching embers and burns all to ashes leaving you no choice but to attempt escape through the harrowing portal that graces the cover. It will earn you no reprieve however as Crown Feral demands repeated listens under penalty of death as you're hurtled back in the chaos until you can simply stand it no longer.

Wow, that sounds cheesy. But it's true.

Crown Feral established its grip early and often, tossing you around like a predator toying with the kill firmly clenched in its jaws. The "quieter, slower" parts do provide some breathing room but I doubt Trap Them took your comfort into consideration when crafting their all-out assaults.

Face it. You're trapped. There is no escape. Give in to the violence, the chaos, the power. Channel it and use it, and grind it all to dust.

Trap Them on:

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

(Semi) Weekly Temptations: June 22, 2016

Let's face it. There's no way I'm getting this done every week. But at least it's something. Here's some of what has rattled my chains in the last week.

Nails - You Will Never Be One Of Us (Released June 17, 2016 on Nuclear Blast)

Well, frontman Todd Jones has been taking some heat this past little while as a reaction to his own hot headedness. I won't go into specifics but it's not like we didn't expect Jones to blow his top at least once during this album cycle. Maybe it wasn't even Jones. Who knows on social media? Moving on, this newest "full length" keeps driving the way Nails fans expect. I like it. It's good but I don't think it's the AOTY candidate some are touting is as. But really, if you want super aggro, tear your arm off and beat yourself in the head with it hardcore, Nails will help.

Obsidian Kingdom - A Year With No Summer (Released March 11, 2016 on Season of Mist)

I'm sort of surprised this is still hanging around on my phone. But it's got that little something that halts tapping delete. Lots of melody and plenty of hooks. The "progressive rock" tag doesn't really do them justice as that makes the album sound weak. Which it's not. The power is emotional and it's all wrapped up in good songs that make tapping repeat all too easy.

Electric Citizen - Higher Time (Released May 13, 2016 on RidingEasy Records)

If one thing is going to catch (and keep) my attention it's groove. EC spreads the groove nice and thick on Higher Time. It's one of those albums I can dig whenever and wherever. The saturation of killer riffs is total. It's got that dirty tone of the old school and an abundance of hooks. And vocalist Laura Dolan comes in as the clincher. Smooth, soulful, just a bit of grit and a perfect complement to the heavy rock power. Any time spent with this will take you higher without question.

Grand Magus - Sword Songs (Released May 13, 2016 on Nuclear Blast)

Dude. I shouldn't have to tell you about Grand Magus. The Swedes have been dishing out the battle hymns for long enough now. But that doesn't mean they don't still make albums worth listening to. Sword Songs is simply the latest is a long line of epic albums steeped in themes that traditional metal was born from. And in this case that means Vikings. Leather and steel. Sharp and tough. Horns up!

The Judge - The Judge (Released July 22, 2016 on Ripple Music)

More groove! I went on a bit of a kick where all I wanted to listen to was stuff that reminded me of the old days when stoner rock was LIFE. Bluesy and rockin', The Judge give me the ole heavy eyes. It's another album that makes me not feel so bad about being born too late. Sure, being there in the '70s would have been great but with albums like this around to capture that feeling you get the best of both worlds. (Note: That's the cover of their EP above. Not this LP. But it's right below. Silly internet.)

Foghound - The World Unseen (Released July 8, 2016 on Ripple Music)

Are you feeling the theme of this week yet? Seriously heavy on the hard rock/stoner bands. Foghound keep that going. They definitely bring the riffs. And the swagger. They've got a real southern sound that betrays their Illinois locale. They make me want to drink beer and throw my back out. A sore neck is almost a given. "Serpentine" is a definite highlight. Get fucked and get down.

Gozu - Revival (Released June 10, 2016 on Ripple Music)

Let me tell you! This album is one of the best I've heard this year! It hits those sweet spots that get my motor running. Hard driving riffs, killer tone, and dynamic vocals. Depending on the song, you can pick up the sounds of other bands that run in the same circles but it never feels like they're ripping them off. It's a diverse effort full of rockin' and rollin' fun. These dudes are definitely in it to win it! I just can't get enough of these Boston boys! FFO: Goatsnake, QOTSA, Fu Manchu, etc.

Bat - Wings of Chains (Released June 10, 2016 on Hells Headbangers)

First things first. Ryan Waste (Municipal Waste), Nick Poulos (Volture) and Felix Griffin (ex-D.R.I.) combine their powers on this raging speed metal beast. The pedigree is unquestionable and the trio does not let you down. Filthy, dirty and loose, it's a rager that combines the snarl of punk rock with the power of metal. What else did you expect? Well, expect plenty of air guitar and banging heads.

Slow Season - Westing (Released July 1, 2016 on RidingEasy Records)

Alright, alright, alright! This is the kind of hazy, laid back stoner rock I'll dig all day, man. By far the most psychedelic of this group of bands, they take the listener on a blissful trip full of fuzz and retro sensibility. They nail the vintage feel through both sound and production. You can really escape your worries with Westing. Just tap into the plane they're on and ride it all out in hypnotic splendour. Like many of the bands above, but more so than any, Slow Season bring the aura of the old days up to the present but wouldn't it be cool if this was some lost gem? Nah, this way we can get new music from them for years to come! And I for one, want them to continue guiding my trips.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Weekly Temptations: May 30, 2016

Ok, so there's no way I'm going to get this done every week but I have a plan. I don't know quite how to execute it yet, but I have one. In the meantime, now that I fixed my last.fm scrobbling issue (sort of) you can see what the last few days had in store.

Withered - Grief Relic (May 27, 2016 on Season of Mist)

The return of WITHERED!!!! Their "tortured blackened doom" has added more death to the mix here. They've also added Colin Marston on bass and his presence is definitely felt. Far from a instant gratification type album you've really got to crack this one open.

Eleanora - Allure (May 7, 2016 on Consouling Sounds)

I'm used to having Consouling release albums with an ambient side. Eleanora however obliterate ambience. Their allure comes from a savage, sludgy, hardcore place that builds up primal urges in the listener. Disgustingly good.

Cough - They Still Pray (June 3, 2016 on Relapse)

You know you're getting heavy-ass shit with Cough. It was produced and recorded by Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard with Windhand's Garrett Morris.  I can hear that. Massive slogging doom. There's no medicine for this and prayers don't work.

Begrime Exemious - The Enslavement Conquest (March 4, 2016 on Dark Descent)

Vicious, searing, crusty, blackened, thrashing death. Canada has a tonne of great bands but Begrime Exemious are one of the best. They continue to pummel brains and terrorize eardrums on this latest release. I really should order physical copy of this. Perfect for raging out in the garage when I need to blow off some steam.

Phobocosm - Bringer of Doubt (May 13, 2016 on Dark Descent)

Another deathly Canadian product! The difference here is Phobocosm are fucking weird. Eternally dark and twisted, they make you feel uncomfortable all the time. It's terrifying and technical death that lurks close to the floor to drag you into nightmares.

Red Wizard - Cosmosis (April 8, 2016 on Ripple Music/STB Records)

Ripple Music and STB Records are two of the kickin'-est labels going. And Red Wizard are pretty kickin'. Fuzzy grooves and dirty bellows abound amidst no frills stoner rock. Bands like this (and their labels) bring back memories of the good ole Man's Ruin days. Cosmic!

Voidnaga - Demo MMXVI (March 11, 2016 on Iron Bonehead)

Malicious Malaysian death/black metal! This one-man project exudes darkness and the stench of foul beings. Crawling doom atmosphere, varied tempos, soul-swallowing vocals. If this is just a demo, the world is in serious trouble.

Deformatory - Malediction (February 5, 2016 on CDN Records)

The third of four Canadian entries. Ottawa's Deformatory brutalize with speed and dexterity while keeping the wankery to a minimum. They're not inventing any new tricks but that's not an issue when you can channel bands like Suffocation to devastating effect.

Mortillery - Shapeshifter (May 27, 2016 on Napalm)

Blistering thrash from Edmonton pulling from the wild and crazy heyday of speed metal and injecting bitchin' vocals into the guitar fury! It reminds me of the neo-thrash savagery of bands such as Warbringer and Havok, even topping those bigger names. MORTILLERY FUCKING RIP!!!!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mothra - Decision Process

It's known to happen that I will listen to instrumental bands. Less so now than when I was big into Karma to Burn but Decision Process, the debut LP five years in the making from Aukland's Mothra has made me remember some things. First, who needs vocals when the music is so expressive. And second, it's quite relaxing to not have someone yelling at you sometimes.

Influences listed include Neurosis, Tool and Meshuggah and you can hear those bands in Mothra's progressive post-metal. They're not as downright have as any of those bands (ok, maybe Tool) but when they put the hammer down you feel a similar effect. Mothra bring that epic scale to the picture and the rhythm section makes sure the thunder is felt and heard.

It's in that rhythm section where the Tool influence is most apparent. The bass playing is great; locking into cyclical grooves and blazing a trail for the guitars to follow. It's not straightforward however. Wide open grooves meet ethereal melodies littered with atmosphere, layers and progressive song writing.

Mothra deftly avoid the pitfalls of the style (and long runtimes) by continually pushing forward making minor and major changes to the themes to keep the listener interested. Trust me on this. I've been listening to it for three days and there's been no desire to move away from the musicianship or enduring songs.

Highlights include "Splinters" (see video below), "Elements of Sleep" (with cello and violin adding to the beauty), and "Burnt Impression". No matter where you go on Decision Process you're met with the same fulfilling music dynamically saturating the space in three dimensions. For fans of Neurosis/Isis, Tool, Pelican and other crafters of fine post/prog metal (even latter day Mastodon and Helmet at times) the decision is easy: Check this out now. Like their namesake, it will blow you away.

Released February 12, 2016

Hear Decision Process on Bandcamp:

Mothra Official Site

Mothra on Facebook

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Metal Matt Recommends: Week of April 11-17, 2016

As you can see by the fact that this is being posted a good two weeks after the week in question, this taking a break thing is serious. This site is sorely neglected regularly but I was writing a lot elsewhere. Anyway, I'm scaling back to get a grip on myself and clear my head. But I can't turn off completely (out of guilt) so I'll continue with this series as best I can. I'm going to try something fun next time I hope. I have to make sure I can pull it off. You'll see. Until then, enjoy this stunningly rifftastic week!

Graves at Sea - The Curse That Is (April 1, 2016 on Relapse Records)

It's taken a good long time but we finally have a full length Graves at Sea release with The Curse That Is. Not that their previous work hasn't made an impact but here we're graced with over 70 minutes of writhing, bitter, vengeful doom where every second makes your very being an avatar to its will. The cavalcade of ripping riffs are heavy and overpowering, capturing some of the essence that makes Sleep and early High on Fire so captivating. The paint-peeling vocals are wracked with pain and a desperation for understanding beyond the self. Their relatable insanity taps into that piece of us begging for release. From start to finish Graves at Sea batter the listener down to an unrecognizable stain and in doing so have crafted what could become a classic doom album. Embrace the curse.

The Curse That Is on Bandcamp

October Tide - Winged Waltz (April 22, 2016 on Agonia Records)

Originally published at About.com Heavy Metal:

Not being well versed in the Peaceville Three, or even Katatonia for that matter, should preclude me from being able to speak on Winged Waltz, the latest from melodic death/doom quintet October Tide. But you don't have to be to “get” them. The third album since the band's reformation in 2009, Winged Waltzpowers through the darkness spreading melancholia and sorrow.

It's a beautifully crafted album full of ups and down, heaviness and light and is bursting with emotion. Crunchy death and draining vocals are mated to arching melodies and hard won drive. Fredrik Norrman's guitar work is masterful. Passive and active listening both yield amazing enjoyment but you'll want to dedicate time to digging in as the storm clouds gather and the world grows dark.

Winged Waltz on Bandcamp

Purson - Desire's Magic Theatre (April 29, 2016 on Spinefarm Records)

UK's Purson created quite a buzz for themselves with 2013's The Circle and the Blue Door, leading to high expectations for new LP Desire's Magic Theatre. As you can tell by the cover, the psych/prog group packs all they can into the dramatic album.

The rock opera quality of the work is apparent immediately, recalling the kind of feeling heard on The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's. Work in The Who and Queen for good measure and get psyched by the Hendrix-isms (“Electric Landlady”). Organs, flute and horns complete the flashback show. DMT is quite a musical trip with Rosalie Cunningham narrating the acidic journey with dynamic grace. It feels like the art they were born to make. If rock opera's your ticket, enjoy the show!

Desire's Magic Theatre on Spotify

Blood Ceremony - Lord of Misrule (March 26, 2016 on Rise Above Records)

I talked about this album in my last post. But you can see that it still showed up this week. Because it's awesome and I keep listening to it.

Blood Ceremony on Facebook

Valley of the Sun - Volume Rock (April 29, 2016 on Fuzzorama Records)

Volume Rock by Valley of the Sun says really all that needs to be said in the album title. This is high energy rock that begs to be cranked to stupid volumes. It's pretty radio friendly stuff, not really metal at all. Lots of catchy riffs and other tasty guitar work with a little Fu Manchu/QOTSA fuzz tacked on. It's not overly complicated but that's not what you're looking for with heavy rock such as this. Keep it simple. Crack some brews, sit back with some bud(s), and let the speakers do the work.

Volume Rock on Bandcamp

Necrolytic Goat Converter - Demo MMXVI (self-released on March 6, 2016)

Created by Chris Voss (@cmvoss042 on Twitter) Demo MMXVI is his initial offering under the name Necrolytic Goat Converter. And the parched black metal within reflects the name. Abrasive guitars and even more abrasive rasps sandpaper the ears into a state of living death. Warm bass and spot-on percussion round out the feral presentation. Miraculously he's done this all with Garage Band. Dude's got more time than I to figure that program out!

But now I'm inspired to try. Voss is exorcising his demons (and spoiled milk) on this bleak and powerful release. And I'll be damned if anything is going to beat that album cover this year. Fuckin' sweet! It's a deeply personal outpouring executed brilliantly. Load up on batteries, spikes, corpsepaint. Drag your stereo out into the abyss. Crank it to 666 and get converted.

Demo MMXVI on Bandcamp (Name your price)

Pyramido - Vatten (May 1, 2016 on Halo of Flies)

Vatten is a crazy good mix of doom's weight and plod fused to the dirty tone and pissed off attitude of sludge. Nearly every note is a call to destroy. Hammering riffs and muscular drums assault the listener guided by fierce and forceful all out yells. Not to be dumbed down, Pyramido layer a ringing atmosphere in sometimes that can make them feel bigger than they already do. This Swedish outfit is pretty cool. Check out Vatten and you'll have a smashing good time. Literally.

Vatten on Bandcamp

Zippo - After Us (March 25, 2016 on Apocalyptic Witchcraft)

Zippo is a pretty cool band that I'd never heard of until now. But it's bands like this that make "stoner rock" my preferred genre. Head noddin', toe tappin' stuff. After Us is loaded with gritty vocals, groove and some deadly low-end fuzz. Ass-kicker songs are mixed with more laid back tunes (and sax on "The Leftovers"). Nice variation, good riffs and that atmosphere you're looking for in a stoner/sludge/psych band are all present and accounted for. It's sunny out. I wish I was at home crankin' this outside.

After Us on Bandcamp

Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas - Mariner (April 8, 2016 on Indie Recordings)

Originally published at About.com Heavy Metal:

What do you get with a collaboration between post-sludge heavyweights Cult of Luna and the volatile nature of Julie Christmas (ex-Made Out of Babies, Battle of Mice)? You get a bunch of words not appropriate for this site. Mariner is that good. It would have been great without Christmas, but her contributions take it to a transcendental new level.

Melody clearly drives the sails. Both parties lift the listener to weightless heights with it through many stirring passages. CoL's solar storms and nebular skies are countered by the grace of Christmas's interplanetary siren call. But when she puts that edge on she becomes the supernova battling the lunar roars. Mariner is beyond stunning. It's a match made in the heavens.

Cult of Luna on Facebook

Keep an eye on Twitter (@kingdomofnoise) for more of what you need to hear!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Metal Matt Recommends: Week of March 27 - April 2

I'm trying something new. Every so often I'll take what the last.fm generator makes for my collage, even though it's not an accurate representation of what my last week of listening was, and say a few words about each one. Sound like fun? I hope so. And I hope this gets me to pay a little more attention to Kingdom of Noise. Anyway, let's do this!

Blood Ceremony - Lord of Misrule (March 26, 2016 on Rise Above)

This album is fantastic! Somehow their previous album, The Eldritch Dark slipped right by me. I've yet to go dig it up because I can't stop listening to this one! Few bands do the "retro occult rock with female singer" thing as well as Blood Ceremony. Alia O'Brien is just one facet of what makes this album so good. The riffs are smooth and catchy, the mood is perfect, and O'Brien's double threat wins on both sides with her powerful voice and folky flute. Not to mention the songwriting. There have been days I've listened to Lord of Misrule on repeat from the time I wake til I turn in for the night and I was just as excited about it at the end of the day as I was at the beginning. This one's going to put up a good fight for Album of the Year.

Amon Amarth - Jomsviking (March 25, 2016 on Metal Blade)

Good ole reliable Amon Amarth. I named Twilight of the Thunder God my favourite album that year. They keep making new albums but they don't keep topping my list. See, at the time it was the first I'd heard the band. They were fresh and new to me and I loved it. But three albums later it's not fresh or new anymore. I still enjoy them but churning out album after album of the same stuff doesn't always work for me. It might for many but maybe I'm just not fun. Melodic death metal about Vikings and stuff is cool and all, and I don't even know what they could do to change it up, but it's getting stale at this point. Truth me told, I have enjoyed Jomsviking more than Surtur Rising and Deceiver of the Gods.

Conan - Revengeance (January 29, 2016 on Napalm)

CAVEMAN BATTLE DOOM!!!! Can't put it more plainly than that. Heavy as Hell doom battered out with epic screams and bellows carrying between the mountain peaks. They've picked up the pace a bit on this one, moving away from their stereotypical slow and steady march. Or at least the march you expect. No matter the pace Conan are great and Revengeance has become my go to album for when I can't decide. It delivers for me every time. It's bloody massive and I love it!

Black Cobra - Imperium Simulacra (February 26, 2016 on Season of Mist)

This duo can bring it. Punishing sludge with a sort of punk energy and tendency for violence. Their aggressive style gives the listener a thorough beating. Take High on Fire, the Melvins and the spastic nature of noise rock and blast it out of a tank as it flattens humanity before it and you get the idea. Black Cobra were supposed to play locally a couple years ago with Black Wizard and Anciients but they didn't get across the border. Man, that would have been a killer set. I love this kind of stuff live. My neck and back have different ideas though. It's been a few years since they've released an album but Imperium Simulacra makes the wait totally worth it.

Rotten Sound - Abuse to Suffer (March 25, 2016 on Season of Mist)

Who doesn't love Rotten Sound, right? Losers, that's who. They've long been a band that doesn't believe in reins and just lets it fly. Explosive grind with nuclear capability that knows when to slow down and let the heaviness do the torturing. Vengeful vocals tough enough to break down all defences. If memory serves correctly Abuse to Suffer is a little more controlled in general than 2011's Cursed and 2013's Species at War EP. But that doesn't mean the bone-breaking tone and bath salt-equivalent extremity don't make me want to dismantle the world with my bare hands. Because that's exactly what I want to do.

Church of Misery - And Then There Were None (March 4, 2016 on Rise Above)

I admit I wasn't all that into Church of Misery until now. Bear in mind that was more ignorance than distaste. I just didn't listen to them much. I've got a split around here somewhere. And neither was I much for Repulsion. Same. I might have heard Horrified a couple times. So I wasn't as excited as many when word came down that Scott Carlson was taking over vocal duties for a revamped lineup for And Then There Were None. But damn. This is killer shit. About killers and shit. I knew to expect that much. Slow jammed, Sabbath influenced serial killer stoner doom that goes down smooth and leaves a warm feeling inside from veteran musicians feels pretty good to me. Now it's time to dig in to that back catalog.

Wormed - Krighsu (March 25, 2016 on Season of Mist)

On Twitter I said Krighsu was like "I'm hurtling through a wormhole screaming about cool, interesting stuff but you can't understand a fucking word!" That was my first impression and it still holds. I just can't get with this kind of tech death. I just can't. I didn't like the latest Gorguts either. Or Obscura. Or just about any of the super-technical, piq-squeely writhing ball of space maggot stuff that falls into this style. Have at it though. I'll stick to Archspire. I can handle them.

Rotting Christ - Rituals (February 12, 2106 on Season of Mist)

I don't have any real knowledge of Rotting Christ's work before Aealo but I love that album. Kata Ton Diamona Eaytoy didn't stir up the same emotions for me. I can't say Rituals does either but it's pretty much what I expected from the Greeks this time. All their stylistic touches are present and accounted for and it's those Eastern and folk touches that set the band apart. They've got a massive sound lush with melody and power fit for crushing the enemy. It's the kind of black metal that makes you feel alive. The more I listen the more I like it so I have a feeling it will stick around my playlist for a good while.

Wytch Hazel - Prelude (April 22, 2016 on Bad Omen)

It's a fun album if not exactly the sort of thing I listen to regularly. Fairly dramatic, clean vocals, traditional heavy metal sort of thing. Not Maiden clones but he does hit some high notes. The press materials paint Prelude as a mix of Jethro Tull, Wishbone Ash, Thin Lizzy and NWOBHM. I can't argue with that. Based on medieval influences and sporting a sense of grandeur often found at LARP events, there's all kinds of uplifting moments. It's pretty good stuff for the style but there's only so much of it I can handle in one sitting.