Clutch, Live at the Doom Saloon II, review (August 7, 2020 Livestream)

The first Live at the Doom Saloon livestream a couple months back had Clutch plus three other bands (Crowbar, Saul, and Blacktop Mojo) playing short sets. This time, Clutch is playing a full set of fourteen songs. The set list was chosen by fans as part of a tie-in promotion leading up to the show.

The Doom Saloon (Clutch’s rehearsal space) has gotten an upgrade with new cameras and some lights. The editing (directing, I guess is a better way to put it since it happened live) does make a big difference in the way spectators experience the performance, switching from one camera to another and having close-ups camera movement and whatnot. It looks smoother and you get a better look and the band while they perform. In the end it is the music that matters most and this band never disappoints.

I have been to a lot of Clutch shows, but I have never seen these songs played together before, or any set very close to it. Lots of rarities. They played for about 60 minutes. Here is the setlist.

1. How To Shake Hands

2. Power Player

3. Rock and Roll Outlaw

4. Far Country

5. Smoke Banshee

6. What Would A Wookie Do?

7. Mice And Gods

8. Profits Of Doom

9. Ghoul Wrangler

10. King of Arizona

11. (In The Wake Of) The Swollen Goat

12. Your Love Is Incarceration

13. Brazenhead

14. Oregon

As with the previous livestream, $2 from each t-shirt sold will go to the Clutch road crew. The event also supports ILF, the Innocent Lives Foundation – check them out here, https://www.innocentlivesfoundation.org/.

You can still watch the show after the fact for a couple days by going here and buying a ticket, https://www.clutchmerch.com/collections/events/products/doom-saloon-ii-ticket. It is definitely work the $9 bucks, and you can pick up Doom Saloon II Livestream merch if you really enjoy it. The stream is available until Monday, August 9 at 9:00AM EST, so don’t wait too long.

Clutch, Live at the Doom Saloon II, review (August 7, 2020 Livestream)

Terminal Nation, Holocene Extinction review (20 Buck Spin 2020)

Arkansas metal leaders Terminal Nation raise their voices to proclaim the next mass extinction is already underway.

A fairly recent entry into the heavy music arena, Terminal Nation has been releasing music since 2015. Their two EPs – Terminal Nation (2015) and Absolute Control (2017) – along with last year’s Neckbeard Deathcamp split One Party System laid the groundwork for Holocene Extinction and its thirteen slices of grievance.

The heaviness of the music does not rely on sudden bursts or blast beats for the most part. It is more on the traditional side, and even doom-edged now and then (“Expired Utopia”). The opener, “Cognitive Dissonance,” is a window into the album both thematically and musically. The guitars and drums are heavy thumps with a faster pace in the middle and the a less optimistic beginning and end. After declaring that what you see is not what you get (the title of the first song), the band drives straight into “Arsenic Earth.” It is about what it sounds like it would be about. The title track is next, and the droning inevitability of the vocals (“you cannot save the world”) and the rhythm is exactly how I imagine a mass extinction to occur – consistent misery over a long period of time. And we’re only three in – they’re just getting going.

The songs are mostly short, and the set has a punk feel to it and sometimes a punk sound. Political and firmly anti-establishment, just read through the song titles (links below) to gather up the messages. What I hear are statements about how hard it is in the world right now just to exist, and that it doesn’t have to be this way – it is being made to be this way. If you want to know what the band meant by these songs, there is a great Brooklyn Vegan article where they go track by track and tell you what was on their mind when putting it all together, and you should check that out. The music is a little smoother on this new album than the earlier EPs but it is every bit as heavy – the vocals sound great and the guitars are a spiked mace swinging at your head. The combination of the contemporaneous narrative intrigue and the metal/punk attitude sets this album apart from the others in the crowd.

Out now on 20 Buck Spin and buyable at Bandcamp, Holocene Extinction is 36 minutes of reality checks laid bare and wrought in metal. Recommended.

Band photo by Kurt Lunsford.

Links.

https://terminalnationhc.bandcamp.com

http://www.20buckspin.com

Brooklyn Vegan article, https://www.brooklynvegan.com/terminal-nation-discuss-every-track-on-their-killer-new-album-which-is-streaming/

Terminal Nation, Holocene Extinction review (20 Buck Spin 2020)

Faceless Burial, Speciation review (Dark Descent Records / Me Saco Un Ojo Records 2020)

With Speciation, Faceless Burial reconciles the storied past with the calamitous contemporaneous world to show that, while the level of suffering is bad now, it is not new.

The three ambassadors who make up this band from Australia round out their first lustrum with a stabbing assault of inescapable musical kismet. If you had been looking and listening you would have known it was coming because the earlier work, Grotesque Miscreation (2017) and Multiversal Abattoir (2018) both, shook the elements and rattled the environment in a new creative space that maintained a distinct and obvious homage.

The average song length has ticked up a bit with Speciation, clocking in at around six minutes, and that is all for the better. The writing on the new album demonstrates increased depth of process compared to the earlier work. While the songs here certainly maintain the aggression and crack heard before, the arc of the expression is clearer and stronger over the length of each piece.

This set opens with a blast of energy and does not have an intro bit like the earlier albums did. “Worship” is a battering ram at the front with all elements aligning in a show of force. The melody and thread of the song appears just before the one minute mark, and the drama unfolds from there – a story shown in music and told in narrative. There is a driving force, there are external smashes that periodically disrupt the flow, and a then there is a recurring current (or two) in guitars and percussion that weaves in and out. This basic structure plays well in the rest of the album, and it is a stylistic element practically unique to Faceless Burial. You can certainly recognize them by it. There are six entries and my mind processed them in order, in pairs. The titled track does stand out (to me) because of its doom elements and clever riffs arrangements, plus the lead work in the fourth minute is inspired. This album is one to keep in regular rotation. Recommended.

Out this Friday, August 7, you can get one track now on Spotify to tide you over (the earlier albums are there, too). All of the physical versions can be discovered through the links below.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/facelessburial/

https://facelessburial.bandcamp.com/

https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/

http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/

https://www.mesacounojo.com/

https://mesacounojo.bandcamp.com/

Faceless Burial, Speciation review (Dark Descent Records / Me Saco Un Ojo Records 2020)

Brotthogg, The Die Is Cast review (2020)

With an EP in 2017, The Last Traveler, and a succinct full-length album in 2019, Echoes of the Past, Brotthogg was poised to make a leap forward with their new release, The Die Is Cast.

Brotthogg is from Norway. The musicians are Kristian Larsen Moen, who is credited with playing all the instruments as well as writing the music and lyrics (clearly the creative force behind the production), Jonas Moen and Craig Furunes who both contribute vocals, and Stephen Carlson handling all guitar solos. It is an unusual arrangement compared to other bands, but you cannot argue with the outcome. The music is basically a melodic death metal casting with a strong vein of thrash running through it.

Are you wondering what the name of the band means? According to the band (via the press release), “The name Brotthogg is derived from an old forgotten Norwegian word in dialect meaning ‘The one who has to take care of the job, the unpleasant one.’” Interesting. The music does not have any sense of hesitance or slog to it, and is in fact powerful and robust. You often feel heroic elements in the narrative impulse of the songs, but the most memorable parts of the delivered music are the rapid staccato rhythms, the drumming, and the confident vocals. The sweltering impertinence of the speed and unbalancing progressions of songs like “Resurrection” complement well more straight-forward death/thrash enterprises like “Behind the Gateways” – but even in the more familiar framings, there is always some twist, epic or subtle, that marks the music as plainly Brotthogg. The resilience of the climbing scales and the technical risks of the lead breaks add even more depth the set. I am definitely on board. Recommended.

You can listen to two tracks now on Bandcamp, and the full album drops August 1. Bandcamp also has the back-catalogue (as does Spotify) if you find you like what you hear.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/Brotthogg/

https://brotthogg.bandcamp.com/

Brotthogg, The Die Is Cast review (2020)

Resin Tomb, Resin Tomb review (Brilliant Emperor Records 2020)

Loud, fast, and terrifying, the debut effort from Resin Tomb marks the earth with blood and bile.

Resin Tomb is an Australian Death/Grind Metal trio. You might think you have an idea of what you are going to hear just from that one-line description, but you have to put it in your ears to really know. That fact is truer with this band than most. They describe their own music as dissonant, and there are no clean vocals (of course). The music might seem at first simply to be howls of rage, but there is more going on than that. Let’s take a quick shuffle through the five songs on the EP.

“Abrogate” is about two minutes of emotional musical projectile spewing, and that’s how the set opens. In “Penance,” the confession is the penance – at least that’s what seems to be going on. The song has a very dungeon feel to it. Imagine a dreary cave-like space with a mad person running around screaming and clearly trying to get something across to you, but you don’t really understand. “Surfacing” has a structural awareness. It sets a scene and you are poised to see it play out. It turns out to be a scene of violence, and toward the end there is a commentary that functions as an explanation but definitely not an apology. “Prostrated” has a straightforward, open kind of construction. Face-up, not face-down. It is the shortest song and leads into the epic-scale “Bestial,” the anchor to the exposition/exhibition. In your face up front, plodding and Germanic in the middle, the song is fierce and spiritually crippling. The experience of listening to this music pins you down in a rare crescendo of realization. Recommended.

Resin Tomb is out July 31 from Brilliant Emperor Records. You can get two tracks digitally from Bandcamp right now, and the rest on Friday. It will shake your teeth loose.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/resintombdeath

https://brilliantemperor.bigcartel.com

https://www.facebook.com/BrilliantEmperorRecords

https://resintomb.bandcamp.com/releases

Resin Tomb, Resin Tomb review (Brilliant Emperor Records 2020)

Foot, The Balance of Nature Shifted review (Copper Feast Records 2020)

Foot conjures a tsunami of sound with The Balance of Nature Shifted.

The Melbourne band Foot released its first EP (self-titled) in 2016, and its first full-length, Buffalo, in 2018. Sticking to the two-year cycle, more of their unique brand of introspective desert music has solidified from the mirage that is 2020. The main creative engine in Foot is Paul Holden, who writes the music and sings and plays guitar on the albums. On the band’s Facebook and Bandcamp pages, Holden has commented on this new collection of songs at some length, suggesting that their composition was influenced by the astonishing flux we all find ourselves in right now. It is not just the new catastrophes we have to deal with, but ones that have been building. Check the title of the album and interpret it in the broadest possible terms.

The music is a heavy desert sound, stonerish and reminiscent of grunge in many ways (although there might be more motivation today for the despondency that permeates the music than there was in the grunge era). The first song, “Despair On Hope Street,” starts off with a faraway tinny cracking for a few seconds before the avalanche of guitars lands directly on your head. It sounds like 20 guitars, that rumbling riff does. Heavy fuzz, and lingering vocals combined toward the end with a Tim Sult-style directness in the lead work puts you right in the middle of the situation Foot is going to deal with over the course of the album. The deep, cooking desert vibe emerges slowly over the next few songs and a straight-up doom hammer is there too from time to time (e.g, “Green Embers”). This album coalesced for me as an ethereal enterprise that sounded great the first time through and even better the more I listened to it. Foot is absolutely on my radar from now on. It would be great to see them at the next Psycho Las Vegas – they would fit right in. Recommended.

Streaming and digital downloads are available now at Bandcamp and the usual elsewheres. The physicals are out this Friday, July 31, from Copper Feast Records (links below). Foot will get you rolling, and that is a fact.

Links.

https://footmelb.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/footmelbourne

https://copperfeastrecords.bandcamp.com

https://copperfeastrecords.bigcartel.com

https://www.facebook.com/CopperFeastRecords

Foot, The Balance of Nature Shifted review (Copper Feast Records 2020)

The Naked High, Tap Into The Evil review (2020)

Montreal stoner/groove band The Naked High set the bar at a new level with their second album, Tap Into The Evil.

The foursome is Phil Rod (bass), Simon Ouellet (vocals), Hugo L-C (guitar), and Charlie Cayouette (drums). Their first album (self-titled) came out in 2017 and established the basis for their style and symptoms. The songs are dark and stalwart, and lay more on the doom line than the new one does. Their sound has evolved and is a little like a metal/doom version of Dangerous Toys, if that band had been a metal band (instead of a hair band), as they have a very bluesy persuasion to their compositions folded into a combination of squealing lead lines and heavy doom riffs. It is quite unusual and it is extremely compelling. Indeed, this band would fit right in on a label like Ripple.

The six songs on the new album all have a crisp sound and crack with a sustained energy. “Jewel of the Crowd” starts it all off, and the rhythm riff is a plundering thump with an infectious vocal and probing, muscular lead break to round it all out. This structure remains on display throughout but there is also something different that stands out on every song – “Rebirth” has, for example, that amazing bass line you can hear prominently under the wizened lead work. And there is “Pull of the Void” which has many Black Sabbath homages and propels its story of struggle and uncertainty through carefully selected musical elements. Every song is its own creation and they all stand together. I listened to both of The Naked High’s releases back to back and still wanted to hear more. I like this kind of music and I specifically really like the way this band does it. Recommended.

Tap Into The Evil is out now. You can get the download or vinyl at Bandcamp, and you can stream both their albums on Spotify, Apple Music, and so on.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/tnh.stonerrock/

https://thenakedhigh.bandcamp.com/

The Naked High, Tap Into The Evil review (2020)

Bedsore, Hypnagogic Hallucinations review (20 Buck Spin 2020)

The debut album from Bedsore, Hypnagogic Hallucinations, will warp your ideas about reality and Death Metal predispositions.

The start with, the band explains its name on Facebook by giving a definition of the word and indicating that choosing it follows in the tradition of bands like Autopsy and Carcass. More interestingly, the explanation goes on … “At the same time, ‘Bedsore’, read as ‘suffering of the bed’ also has a more veiled meaning. In this sense, the crib is the gate that ferry the human being into a universe dominated by its unconscious fears, dream-like visions, aberrant figures and grotesque manifestations, which are capable to leading the individual to total destruction, rotting the flesh and eroding the mind.” That last part gives you the best idea of where the band is coming from.

And to make sure I knew what “hypnagogic” meant, I looked it up – relating to the state immediately before falling asleep. We all know what that space is like, don’t we; that crazy half asleep / half wake world and the mad images that live there. If you combine the explanation of the name of the band with the meaning of the name of the album, you will be in the right frame of mind to experience the first full-length release from the Rome-based Death Metal band Bedsore.

The musicians are Jacopo Gianmaria Pepe (vocals, guitars, synthesizers), Stefano Allegretti (vocals, guitars, organ, other keyboards), Giulio Rimoli (bass), and Davide Itri (drums). They published a demo only two years ago, so they are just getting going as a band. The new release sounds like the work of seasoned veterans with its solid musical structure and it also has the creativity and spark of fresh minds at work on new ideas.

There are seven songs. Three fairly short pieces start the set, followed by four longer compositions. The first thing you hear is an eerie keyboard spell that rises for a second into a jazzy layer before the guitars begin push through and the power gets cranked up. The opener, “The Gate,” is presented in two parts, and it is a reconnoitering of the landscape. The first long song takes its title from H. P. Lovecraft, “At The Mountains of Madness.” Apropos. This track can be seen as an embodiment of the entire set in that it has all the elements that are so important to the whole: sorrowful, mournful keyboard passages, avalanche guitar riffs, vocals that convey an entombed mental torture, and lead guitar work that lays bare the toll of the life and time. “Cauliflower Growth” is next and has a more urgent and aggressive overall tone to it (and a guest appearance by Giorgio Trombino). “Disembowelment of the Souls” begins with an epic scale and ultimately transforms into a dirge in the final moments while the closer, “Brains On The Tarmac” is a lilting hallucination at the front and ultimately ends symphonically. If you listen to the entire program in order (turn the shuffle OFF), the effect is mesmerizing. This album is definitely one of the most memorable of the year so far. Highly recommended.

Hypnagogic Hallucinations drops in July 24. You can get it in many different forms from 20 Buck Spin and through Bandcamp.

Band photo by Void Revelations.

Links.

https://bedsoredeath.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/bedsoredeath

http://www.20buckspin.com

http://www.facebook.com/20buckspin

Bedsore, Hypnagogic Hallucinations review (20 Buck Spin 2020)

Ruin, Plague Transmissions: Vol. 2 review (Blood Harvest/Horror Pain Gore Death Productions 2020)

The second compilation of recent Ruin music has hit the streets: Plague Transmissions: Vol. 2.

There are a lot of bands who have used the name Ruin over the years. You probably know which one we are talking about here, but just to be sure we are all on the same page, I looked up some information on Ruin at Encyclopaedia Metllaum (https://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Ruin/3540401007). This Ruin is the Death Metal band from California (not Massachusetts or Maine or Florida or New York or …) that was formed in 1990 and made a short but prominent fireburst at the time, breaking apart the next year. Founding member Mihail Jason Satan gathered up forces in 2015 to rustle the fire back to life. Since then, the band has been releasing a ton of EPs and splits, and a couple of full-length albums, including Drown In Blood (2017) and Human Annihilation (2018).

Volume 2 of Plague Transmissions collects material from Into Endless Chasms (2018), Infested Death (2020), Death Tomb (2019), and the Ruin / Anthropic (2018) split (according to the Metal Archives). This is the way to go if you missed out on any of these earlier releases or you just want to grab them all at once.

What does the music sound like? Savage, brutal Death Metal. There is a no nonsense approach to song writing here that yields growling aggressive vocals, fierce guitars, and pummeling percussion. Ruin exhibits a high level of production quality and inserts narrative samples and juxtaposed musical elements to enhance and deepen the impact of the pieces. The songs display a greater variety than you sometimes hear in such hard music, but they never compromise their edge. From the fade in of the first track, “Into Endless Chasms,” and the somber chants therein to the final screeches and growls of the last song, “Eternal Curse of Rotten Beings,” there is no filler, no place holder, no pointlessness – this compilation is rock solid and comes highly recommended. If you are a fan you know you want it, and if you have never heard of Ruin this is a good place to get acquainted.

You can imbibe in the digital from Bandcamp now, with CDs shipping out soon.

Links.

https://bloodharvestrecords.bandcamp.com/album/plague-transmissions-vol-2

https://thedeathmetalcult.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/BloodHarvestRecords/

Ruin, Plague Transmissions: Vol. 2 review (Blood Harvest/Horror Pain Gore Death Productions 2020)

Chaos Over Cosmos, The Ultimate Multiverse review (Narcoleptica Productions 2020)

High concept Prog Metal duo Chaos Over Cosmos release their second album, The Ultimate Multiverse.

I wrote “duo,” and it is true, but the driving force behind the project is Rafal Bowman who started Chaos Over Cosmos with Javier Calderón in 2017. The two musicians, Rafal in Poland and Javier in Spain, never met in person and collaborated at this great remove to create The Unknown Voyage in 2018. There is a message here and an example for us all in the current state of world affairs, isn’t there. Javier moved on to other things after that first album, and Rafal worked with Joshua Ratcliff (Australia) on the new set in the same remote way. Rafal is credited with guitars, synths, drum programming, songwriting, and Joshua with vocals, lyrics, songwriting. The collaboration has produced an expansive soundscape that reaches across genres of contemporary music.

If you wanted to land this album in one category, it would be Prog, and you might refine it to Prog Metal. “Cascading Darkness” plants a flag in the land of Prog at the jump, with a swirling opening that puts you immediately in mind of bands like Saga. The guitars kick in soon, though, and they are bigger and heavier than you hear in most Prog acts. And then there is the vocalizations – the first ones we hear are very much Death Metal, morphing into a kind of sinister screaming whisper, and alternating (occasionally overlaid) with clean vocals. The percussion holds a driving tempo throughout, shifting up and down as the terrain changes. The keyboards are technically astute and creatively exploratory. All of this on the first song. As you progress through the set, you get alternate takes and new musical vistas, things completely different and some familiar homages as well. Most of the songs are on the long side, except the closer, “Asimov,” which is radio length and kind of a curtain call for the overall performance.

The Ultimate Multiverse is available for download now at Bandcamp. In the Prog Metal lane, Chaos Over Cosmos is creating a solid place in the world for its music.

Links.

https://chaosovercosmos.bandcamp.com/album/the-ultimate-multiverse

https://www.facebook.com/chaosovercosmos/

Chaos Over Cosmos, The Ultimate Multiverse review (Narcoleptica Productions 2020)