Saturday, February 23, 2019

TAR PIT - Tomb Of Doom review

TAR PIT - Tomb Of Doom

Sludgelord Records

Thankfully I don't get hangovers from drinking anymore or this would've been misery early in the morning on my initial listen. Not that I don't drink anymore because that would be bullshit. I just drink good quality craft IPA beers now. I've been doing it for ten years now thanks to a good friend who got me to switch from quantity to quality. Hey I can afford it. But on this particular morning I was not in the mood even though I had a deadline which was "Shit! I'm a month behind in reviewing stuff."

Fast forward to a week later and I'm drinking. But the music, which sounds like my cool 70's hard rock output ground down to liquid and added to a molasses drip into my veins, is still loud as fuck. Here we have the debut album by TAR PIT, a sludgey, doom band hailing from Portland, Oregon. I've seen a band photo and they don't look like hipsters, well there is one big fat beardo guy in a WINDHAND shirt? But lets move on because I'm kidding around.

My first thought was what, where's the photo of the La Brea Tar Pit model kit with the mastodon stuck in the tarpits? Like this one below which I had as a kid?

If you're gonna raid your dad's record collection for influences you might as well ask him what else was up in the 70's. Be that as it may this here is airy hypnotic doom minus the female vocals which normally accompany it as the trend goes. Yeah after a few years you get tired of that female white privilege thing. But hey TAR PIT, points for a cool name to start with. Second part, huge points for not being an atypical sludgey doom act from the Northwest. I'm thinking someone in this band heard some Leslie West. 

In the end I'm loving every second of this release. The sustained breaks which do not repeat past grooves but introduce new ones. The vocals aired out as if they're cries from the past. The total abandonment of stoner cliche grooves and incorporation of a touch and go fuck yourself we'll do it our way attitude towards the song structuring. Even when they're doing an obvious Geezer Butler SABBATH-ian bass groove on "Bruja", they rip it a new asshole. Seriously, and yes I can be, this band as well as release are what you want to hear a lot in 2019.

MORKAST - Deadlands review

MORKAST - Deadlands

Self Released

Here's an act that took a few listens in order to fully get what's going on with them. Honestly many acts are easy to pigeonhole and then there's the ones with plenty of baggage to open. First off this band comes from my nation's heartland aka: Ohio. Before I move on I'd like to point out that when certain people look upon American Metal and it's scene they see places like New York, Florida, NOLA or the whole Western Coast as it's meccas. Ah no, if you look at it all as a body then those are it's limbs. The heart and soul of American Metal is in the Midwest with it's bastions of working class burgs. Remember British Metal didn't come from London. It came from Birmingham. Remember that.

The second thing to mention is that the band self describe their sound as progressive death metal. Personally I don't think so. If anything it's basically great American metal. MORKAST draw upon a slew of influences in order to forge an impressive sound albeit not totally original. First off you've got good death thrash styled riffs and galloping rhythms. Vocals are a combination of basic death metal deep throat and harsh screams. We're talking something out of the melodic death metal handbook here but they're not taking the Swede-deth train.

What sets this band apart as far as I'm concerned is their guitar lead work. There's a combination of blues based leads as well as classical styled ones (someone likes Yngwie) which all scream 80's fuckin metal. Also give some props to the drumming on here because this guy goes effortlessly from basic rhythm to dynamic fills to blastbeats to trigger stationary beats with some jazz tom work. Basically he's keeping thing exciting. A second thing this band incorporates well is some eclectic song tempo sequences. It's something that straight up melo deth bands lack if it's not obvious. If ya wanna use the term "progressive" than that's probably where it applies. 

Earlier I said that musically what MORKAST is doing on here is not original. That's not meant as a slight against them at all. In fact they remind me of a band, also from Ohio, who came out a little over a decade ago. I'm talking about SKELETONWITCH who are playing nearby in the coming weeks. I won't say what MORKAST do on here is copying. Actually it's more like following in another's footsteps and enhancing a sound which in 2019 is all their own. I look at this as a great demo for a band who should have this release put forth to the masses. Hey kid, you like Metal? Then kiss the boot, nuff said.


GAST - Morkret kallar review

GAST - Morkret kallar

Black Market Metal Label

A few years ago there was a Swedish death metal act called ASYLUM who enjoyed a decade long career. They released a couple of albums during those years but it wasn't good enough. So in 2015 their bassist, guitarist and drummer ditched their vocalist, got a new one and became a Swedish black metal act. Sounds familiar as far as history goes, Hmmm?

Well if the founders of black metal's second wave could do it then why not GAST? On this their debut album the four piece embrace the classic sound of mid-90's Swedish black metal. Opener "Distans" hits you with a typical thrash, blastbeat and burn attack. As the release progresses on they incorporate a thicker sound structure. Aside from the bludgeoning riffs, bass lines and powerhouse drum work there's plenty of eerie as well as icy guitar lead fills. The vocals are like a harsh barking variety.

Toss in some atmospheric / acoustic breaks, as well as nods to MARDUK and DARK FUNERAL plus a decent production job and you've got something very cool. Be thankful it's 2019 and not a decade ago when troo kvlt naysayers and hipster noobs would be pushing a hate factor towards this. GAST's debut here is for fans of the music and not the bullshit people like to tack onto it. Great black metal here people.

YATRA - Death Ritual review

YATRA - Death Ritual

Sludgelord Records

For those of you who don't know it, Sludgelord Records has an incredible record in finding quality doom genre bands from all over the globe. This time around we have something close to my home, well I can drive there. YATRA is a three piece act hailing from the holy land of US Doom (that's Maryland for you ignorant hipster types. I know you wanna say Brooklyn but no you would be wrong.)

While I was first listening to this my thoughts were well they'll never ever open up for SLEEP. I say that not as being negative towards this band. It's just that they sound a lot like SLEEP. That's not a bad thing these days for me. Personally I look at SLEEP as a nostalgia band. They got back together, well two thirds of em, for the money. So now they play for hipsters at fests who need their famous band cards punched and to sell some merch.

But as far as this release goes, musically it's SABBATH-ian stoner doom. What makes it stand out the most is guitarist Dana Helmuth’s vocals which come across as a drunk reptilian. Plus I like the savage wah wah pedal leads he cuts loose every once in a while. All in all I think this is a top notch release. We fans need a forerunner and here it is. Besides this is cheaper to buy then that last SLEEP release.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

ILLIMITABLE DOLOR - Leaden Light review

Transcending Obscurity

To some people out there this could be the last music you hear before you commit suicide. But buy the gatefold LP version anyway because ya know... Aside from that remark I must say whenever I check out music which comes in for review it's during certain hours of the day which has become a regiment pattern. Because of my occupation I'm either checking music out in the mid morning or at night and many times late at night.

When I first checked out this Australian band's latest release, their second full length by the way, it was early in the day. I had my coffee made with cup in hand. I turned on the music and was fucking around with stuff in the office when suddenly I was overcome with grief. I even looked out through the window blinds to see if it was raining. It was and how ironic was that? Then I sat down and cried because I was reminded of the time I held my dying cat in my arms.

OK that last part was bullshit because I actually turned the music off, went into the kitchen to make breakfast and had a smoke on the back deck because it was a beautiful sunny Winter day. But I did have a cat die in my arms once. So, sorry I'm laughing, but I have listened to this a few other times and I'm not overwhelmed by what this band has created.

The fact is that ILLIMITABLE DOLOR have put forth paint by the numbers atmospheric death doom. If they added a violin then you would think this was MY DYING BRIDE. If the vocals were more cavernous and filthy then SWALLOW THE SUN would be called out. But hey this band is from Australia so no names need to be dropped because scene purists will know who I'm talking about. 

BUT, with all of that said and aside from the familiarity, this band does put out some of the most beautiful sounding and engaging death doom that their peers have lost sight off. The vocals are ghostly death growls which are soothing. While there are aggressive riffs there's more airy guitar melodies. The keys used in the back drop carry you along but it's the silence and piano plucking which hit you like nails. 

I'm not a genre stalwart but I like good music and if you are then Leaden Light will be / should be the one release you will turn to again and again in 2019. Please don't kill yourself because they've got a huge back catalog.

0N0 - Cloaked Climax Concealed review

0N0 - Cloaked Climax Concealed 

Transcending Obscurity Records

I feel like I'm reviewing a seven incher again. Oh wait, I am. Two songs here with an eleven minute running time for both. You know the longer ones are called EPs which is kind of an oxymoron. Don't worry there's plenty more where that came from. So the tagline for this is atmospheric death doom. In other words it has no definitive riff patterns or groove. Actually it's fairly free form with a huge swath of psych damage. I bet they use a smoke machine during performances with a light technician.

ONO is a three piece act hailing from Slovakia and are to be considered seminal veterans as far as their music scene goes. They started out back in 2005. Since then they've been a busy little trio. So far they've put out six releases prior to this, two full lengths and the rest small format stuff. Of course with this style of music I kinda believe the small format release works best but that's just me.

Like I said this is atmospheric death doom but to be specific it's an avalanche of ambient sounds and song structure. That's also oxymoron number two. The song patterns contain a basic slow rhythm that's overlaid with plenty of  noise / industrial guitar dissonance to bring on the hypnotic atmosphere. The drumming is programmed which is a nod to GODFLESH. They employ duel vocals with one harsh and cavernous while the other is clean and airy. In the end I feel like I'm having a bad trip from the mid 80's. 


Transcending Obscurity Asia

So when I saw this in the emails and read the promo info (yeah I do that once in a while) two thoughts came to mind. The first was oh no more generic blackened thrash, give me a fuckin break. Seriously that's become the most generic sounding genre style over the past couple of years. It's second only to stoner rock with a female vocalist.

The second thought came when I read that this band was made up of a few members from the Singapore act RUDRA and I was like, who? Now don't get me wrong I do have some releases by Singapore bands although it's almost entirely stuff by IMPIETY (duh!) with one exception that being a WORMROT dink which I hardly ever listen to. Thankfully after a listen I was glad to hear this is really not thrash at all with the exception of a blastbeat or two. And they come across more as fills.

THE WANDERING ASCETIC are basically straight up metal with blackened threads that make it into something horrific. The standard evil vibe permeates the music on this their debut full length. Frankly they have more in common with modern era KING DIAMOND, sans operatic vocals of course, This could essentially be first wave black metal which is something you don't here so often except for your average VENOM copycat act. Well done.

EMBRIONAL - Evil Dead review

EMBRIONAL - Evil Dead 


Remember a decade ago (OK maybe not but I do) when there were a dozen or more young Swedish bands all reclaiming their past by putting out old school death metal. The music all sounded like demos from 1988. Someone from the metal media, who was probably flogged afterwards, coined the genre phrase OSSDM or Old School Swedish Death Metal. Nowadays it's been shortened to simply OSDM. 

But what if a Polish band was doing the whole old school death metal sound inspired as well as influenced by their great nation's extreme metal heroes? Couldn't you call em OSPDM or Old School Polish Death Metal? Right now the heads of genre scene police on metal forum sites have exploded because of that comment. Which is good since the people on those forums, crybabies and hipsters, need to have their heads exploded.

Be that as it may this new release by Poland's EMBRIONAL is somewhat explosive but still very addictive. The band are not newcomers at all, actually starting out over a decade ago. Musically this has the harsh brutality of VADER with the technical complexity of HATE. They also have a great knack for incorporating plenty of blackened melodic atmosphere, exceptional lead work that'll make your hair stand up (that's if you have hair) and of course touches of macabre doom essence.

This is the band's third full length overall and it obviously gives a salute to the greatness as well as the distinct power which is Polish Death Metal. But for me it's how well the band weaves in the softer breaks in-between the crush, kill, destroy intensity. Yeah that's the addictive part because it makes the songs flow at a comforting pace. The barked harsh vocals and precision drumming just come with the package.

WINDSWEPT - The Onlooker review

WINDSWEPT - The Onlooker

Season of Mist

WINDSWEPT is just another one of the side projects that DRUDKH 's main man, Roman Sayenko, has been involved with in recent years. This project started out in 2017 which resulted in the The Great Cold Steppe full length put out by Season of Mist. They followed that up in 2018 with the Visionaire two song EP which came out on Van Records. Since I've been a fan of Roman Sayenko's work whether it was HATE FOREST, DRUDKH, BLOOD OF KINGU or OLD SILVER KEY, I get drawn into whatever he is involved with like a moth to a flame. In this band Roman handles the guitars and vocals. He's helped out by some fellow DRUDKH members (aka: Vlad Petrov on drums and Krechet on bass.)

On this second full length by WINDSWEPT sound wise it's basically the same as the debut. It's a stripped down version of DRUDKH, as in no keyboards. Then again you could call it HATE FOREST part two. All the essential Roman Sayenko elements are in full bloom. Aside from the kinda interesting music box intro and outro this is basic ice coated melodic riffs that are just so powerful. I give credit to drummer Vlad by always keeping up with Roman's intense saga of tremolo riff package in their other shared bands. Here he keeps the percussion steady, adds plenty of fills and goes blastbeat crazy. Sorry Krechet but bass, fuck the bass.

Look people, OK I'm bias so fuck you, years ago Roman Sayenko took Ukrainian black metal to new heights which lend to dozens of imitators. Now some of those copycats are cool but seriously I'd rather hear from the creator. Secondly this man expanded upon what Varg did with BURZUM while others simply copied. It's Febuary, it's in the thirties outside, I'm here drinking a black IPA called Frostbite. You're damm right I'm enjoying this one.

Friday, February 8, 2019

NIGHT HAG - Insemination Rites Of The Succubus EP review

NIGHT HAG - Insemination Rites Of The Succubus EP

Horror Pain Gore Death

When I saw the title of this release it reminded me of the horror flick SiREN which came out a few years ago. It's a decent movie about a Succubus starring Hannah Fierman who basically reprises the Lily character she first played in the 2012 horror anthology flick V/H/S. Yeah I like horror movies, big surprise right. I also like some good old fashioned horrific metal.

This is the first official release by NIGHT HAG, a three piece act out of Virginia. The band actually started out back in 2010 and over time released three demos. Their last one was in 2013. I don't know why there's been a time lapse of six years. Whatever the case on this EP this band bludgeons out four originals and a cover of MORTICIAN's "Witches Coven". 

To describe this musically I'm forced to use current events as a metaphor. Imagine if you will a huge beast crawling out of it's burrow in early February. It doesn't see it's shadow but instead views a large gathering of humans in what looks to be a celebration for a small vermin. Feeling hungry after it's long sleep the beast rushes down and devours all the humans as well as the tiny vermin. Not done yet the beast commences to level the nearby town to the ground. Satisfied the beast let's out a huge burp and then the MORTICIAN cover kicks in.

All craziness aside NIGHT HAG are straight up death doom. There's nothing fancy in their execution. They're slow and sludgy for the most part. The vocals are of the deep bestial style. Once in a while they kick it into second gear for some burst of speed. There are a few hundred other acts past and present who are of the same genre vein. NIGHT HAG do not necessarily stand out of the crowded field. But they do stand toe to toe. 

Since this is a small format release (albeit at a thirty three minute time limit) I tend to enjoy it more than say an hour's worth of the same. Still I'm guessing this EP is a culmination of the work their career has created so far. Now that it's out of the way the future is wide open. Plus there's another town nearby able to be leveled with a population ready to be devoured. Feed the Beast.

INSANITY ALERT - 666-Pack review


Season Of Mist

When it comes to thrash I've always been more into the evil sounding violent stuff. Hey that's just me but anyway I've been known to like some fun sounding or shall we call it party thrash. I mean it does have it's merits. So when I saw this release, looked at the songs and of course it's title and my first thought was how did MUNICIPAL WASTE miss that one. I mean come on, 666 Pack, that's right up their alley.

Be that as it may here we have the third full length by this Austrian thrash / crossover act. That latter genre point, aka: crossover, is significant because of the band's punk / hardcore influences which are all over the place. There are 21 cuts on here by the way most of which are short sharp blasts of angst ridden, wannabe MUNICIPAL WASTE anthems.

Alright that last part about them being WASTE-oids is pushing it. Actually on here INSANITY ALERT do show diversity. First off they have a thoughtful side, "“The Body Of The Christ Is The Parasite” and "Chronic State of Hate". They have a sense of humor by including parody songs like “Stop! Slammertime” or “Saturday Grind Fever”. Oh yeah and they like to drink, "Why So Beerious?" and mosh "Mosh Mosh Mosh".The band does cover their bases. Maybe if I was a teenager I'd like it more. Ah no. But hey the new kids on the block will like it.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

VISTERY - Death Is Dead review

VISTERY - Death Is Dead

Satanath Records

Over the years or actually decades I've learned that Eastern European metal acts are not only behind the times of trends but even when years come close to confrontation they don't care. To them it's like Oh that's the flavor of the month well then fuck you here's OUR WAY. That's why I go apeshit over hearing music from their area of the world. It's always a middle finger to the faces of the western world of conformity. Oh yeah and why I do this blog.

Which is why VISTERY are a band worth checking out since they're pounding out GRAVE style filth with some touches of early 90's prog death. Add to that some melo-death touches which are not so boring. Basically VISTERY are a five piece act from Belarus, Minsk to be exact, who push the mid-tempo death metal formula to cool areas without losing any visceral punch.

USURPER - Lords of the Permafrost review

USURPER - Lords of the Permafrost 

Soulseller Records

It might be fourteen years since we last heard from USURPER but their spirit as well as musical style lived on with the bands started by the former members. There was BONES which featured three ex-members and released two cool albums some years ago. There was also SCYTHE named after former member Rick Scythe which put out a couple of ugly thrash albums. I'm an old fan of USURPER so when the band died I kept up with their ex-member's exploits which were always good.

This revised version of USURPER contains three fifths of the line-up from their last release, 2005's Cryptobeast. I'm talking about original founding members guitarist Rick Scythe and drummer Joe Warlord. Dan Tyrantor returns on vocals and the band has added new bassist Scott Maelstrom to their ranks. Of course it would've been a better reunion if Jon Necromancer, Carcass Chris and General Diabolic Slaughter were in this line-up. But hey that will never happen. I guess that exposes my fan bias as far as my favorite era of USURPER's career.

Listening to Lords of the Permafrost has been a chore to say the least. Obviously it's a perfect successor to Cryptobeast since there are no tones reminiscent of prior works. The explosive vibe has been cut back a bit. And there are no MANOWAR goes death metal anthem tracks like "Kill for Metal" which made their last one interesting. Musically this new one has more catchy head banging death grooves than previously. Riffs on the whole are pure death thrash and still with that strong BOLT THROWER meets CELTIC FROST aura. Tyrantor can't help himself without forcing in a few Tom G. Warrior style grunts per song. 

Speaking of which I like Tyrantor as a vocalist now more than I did years ago. His vocals on here have a deeper massive presence. It's the same with the riffs coming at you in a machine like pounding yet a few twists kicking in here and there bringing in that old school excitement which this great American metal band was always known for. Obviously this is guitarist Rick Scythe's vehicle being realized and he has come up with some amazing as well as fierce thrashy death hate fuck riffs to lure in new fans as well as us old fucks.

It's a rare exception ladies and gentlemen (and you others) that a band can re-group after this long a time and come up with something this potent which does not haze into rehash nostalgia. One of America's greatest metal acts is back, just as good as ever and what the young kids don't know us older folks understand. Wooooooooooo!

Update from last month's Op/Ed: KIM, YOU'RE FIRED

       (above photo: Kim Kelly sans "Will Write For Food sign)

Alright so at the end of January I posted the Op/Ed "A Hipster Joke Grows in Brooklyn"
Link is here:

In it I talked about this failed leftist music fest organized by one of the more alienating people in the metal media Kim Kelly. In the piece I mocked the fest, her, her politics as well as hipsters. Hey look freedom of speech right? Anyways I find out that the day after I posted my Op/Ed she, Kim Kelly, was fired by VICE media. WAS IT SOMETHING I SAID? I'm joking of course but seriously this woman has gained a lot of negative reactions from music fans over the years. Just to be fair, much of it has to do with certain opinions she's put forth in her journalist career as well as some articles she posted which turned out to be fake news.

Then came that music fest which went on in January which garnered some favorable press by her friends in the media. But questions came about that coverage and the truth. I was just one of many people criticizing the coverage of that fest, it's lack of turnout and of course the line-up of unknowns. Was that the final straw on her career? I don't know but since she's a big time hipster and they love irony. I thought it was hilarious that the guy, which she and her ilk despise, who put the phrase "You're Fired" into our modern day lexicon is what she got from VICE media in an email, bahahaha! You're Fired Kim.

Of course it doesn't end there since she had some interesting tweets which kinda expose her as the loser she is. For starters there's this one:

"Heartless bloodsucking capitalist leeches. This is our second round of layoffs in, what, two years? Worker-owned and -operated media NOW, we have nothing to lose but our chains and shitty office kitchen granola bars."

Ah excuse me lady but you worked for those "capitalist leeches" for four years. Where were those complaints about "chains" before? You were OK with working for them as long as you got your paycheck. Now as far as calling for a socialist media outlet well good luck with that one. But hey start a blog.

Which brings us to her next interesting tweet:

Fucking fire me, I’ve been here for over four years and have seen the way this company treats its workers. We know you don’t care about us, Nancy. “Progressive youth media” my ass

Followed by this one:

I literally woke up to the news that at least 12 of my close coworkers (and possibly me? Who’s to say!!) have had their livelihoods ripped out from under them, because some rich people decided they weren’t rich enough yet. “Global restructuring” is corporate for “Fuck you, poors”

Well now so there's a lot here to consider. First off I have to say for a person who has been in the media business you should know that if you do not produce then you get let go. Oh you had four years working there, so what? I have experienced being laid off, thank you President Obama and your shit economics. My reaction to my employer afterwards was hey I understand but I had a great time working with you and best of luck. Unlike Kim Kelly I've got class as well as smarts to know that you never denigrate former employers especially on social media.

Then there's this beauty:

A really fun part of all of this is how instead of doing all of this in one fell swoop, HR calls people up individually, one by one, throughout the day, so everyone is just in a state of constant panic

Ah yeah, I looked at some more of her Twitter posts via Google and it's generally pathetic. Talks of unions and minorities, yeah well there's one HUGE PROBLEM here Kim Kelly. It's the simple fact that YOUR ILK created Human Resource Departments whose job is to fire people like you. Come on girl your a hipster, it's irony. Be that is may Kim Kelly a left wing opinion writer like yourself should have no problem getting another journalist (in name only) / activist gig. But if that doesn't happen then here's some sage advice.