Nequient, Darker Than Death Or Night (Nefarious Industries 2022)

Chicago hardcore band Nequient release their second full-length studio album this week, Darker Than Death Or Night.

You’ll see Nequient described as a hardcore band or maybe a death metal band. The press release declares the band’s music to be from a variety of wells, and that the band draws “influences from a broad spectrum of aggressive styles including grindcore, crust, sludge, death metal, black metal, and noise rock.” That covers a lot of ground, and it absolutely rings true. Wolves At The Door (2018) was Nequient’s first long-player, and I think the new one is even better. The band is Chris Avgerin (drums), Keenan Clifford (bass), Patrick Conahan (guitar), and Jason Kolkey (vocals).

The first track is a rampage, “First Casualty.” It sets the bar very high right at the jump. The chaos of “Worshippers of the Apocalypse” is what I imagine being gargled in Satan’s colon might be like; so to, “Consensual Hallucination.” The ragged rawness of these tracks is enough to make your gums bleed. The intensity and rapidly shifting off-angle attacks are a true aural battering. But this manner of music isn’t the only look you get, even if it does predominate. “Minotaur” is a gloriously doom-ridden landscape of mountain-high walls past which you cannot see the sun. “Wrongs” does this a bit, too, but with a more active brand of gloom.

The number one track for me comes near the end, “Bootlicker.” Here the emanations are barely contained. At many points along the way it seems like the music might burst apart into a ball of fire. “Golden Age of the Grift” is the kiss goodnight, and it is more of a kidney punch than a peck on the cheek. Nequient has put together one of the fiercest albums I have heard this year. Recommended.

Nefarious Industries will release Darker Than Death Or Night in multiple formats on Friday, March 18th and you can preorder it now.

Band photo by Nicolas Côté.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://nequient.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/nequientband

Nefarious Industries, https://www.nefariousindustries.com/

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Nequient, Darker Than Death Or Night (Nefarious Industries 2022)

Týr, A Night At The Nordic House (Metal Blade 2022)

Folk metal icons Týr have recorded a live album with an orchestra that exhibits an unforgettable musical symbiosis, A Night At The Nordic House.

It has been a little over twenty years since progressive folk metal band Týr was founded in the Faroe Islands. Their location is certainly a memorable aspect of the band’s character, but of course it is the music they create that sets them apart. Over the years they have released eight full-length studio albums, the most recent being Hel (2019). Their style is a progressive form of epic folk metal that overlaps Viking and death metal as well.

The new album was recorded live at The Nordic House in Tórshavn, in the Faroe Islands on February 8th, 2020, with the Symphony Orchestra of the Faroe Islands. If ever there was a metal band that could make effective and dramatic use of an accompanying orchestra, Týr fits the bill. From the press release … “Working with the Symphony Orchestra was without a doubt one of the highlights of our careers,” admits vocalist Heri Joensen. “The feeling of sheer sophisticated power behind us was extraordinarily uplifting. We were awed by how well the songs worked in a symphonic setting. ‘By The Sword In My Hand,’ for example, seems to take on a new life.”

There are eighteen tracks on the massive album, including the opening intro. “Gates of Hel” is the ideal song to hear first if you want to know what to expect from the rest of the performance. The slow build is enormously enhanced by the fullness of the orchestration. The primary instrument is still the guitar, and the voices and orchestral apparatus work a pervasive, all-encompassing effect. The gruff lead vocals match the perfectly the melodic aspects of the overall musical construction.

“By the Sword in My Hand” is another exemplary performance. The theme is an epic tale of conquest and the ideal instantiation of the narrative. Dazzling lead guitar work and soaring choruses combine into overwhelming musical power. The final track, “Álvur Kongur,” is the capstone, and you get the feeling at the end that seeing this performance would have been as amazing an experience as hearing it.

A Night At The Nordic House is out on Friday March 18th through Metal Blade Records. Highly recommended for fans of Týr, and genre fans as well – but, seriously, if you appreciate folk/Viking/epic metal then you are already a Týr fan.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://tyrband.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/tyrband

Týr website, https://tyr.fo/

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/us/

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Týr, A Night At The Nordic House (Metal Blade 2022)

Muddy Moonshine, Are We There Yet (Secret Entertainment 2022)

Swamp rockers from Finland, Muddy Moonshine, release their sophomore album, Are We There Yet.

You read that right: swamp rockers from Finland. Are there swamps in Finland? Absolutely, but of course that has nothing to do with the actual music. The style appealed to the originators of the band and they decided to go with it. The result is very impressive, bluesy, guitar-driven rock that is uncommonly listenable. The band is Tuomo Varjola (vocals), Jonne Rytkönen (guitar), Saku Manninen (drums), Jarmo Ikala (guitar), and Kim Sandström (bass).

There are thirteen tracks on the new album. “Under The Moon” is the first song, and it verily seeps swamp gas and drips Spanish moss. It has the pleasant, lay-about twang often associated with the declared musical type. The next song is “Crystal Riders” and it is very different, carrying more of a radio mentality, with pushing rhythm and a catchy chorus. It almost puts you in mind of D.A.D. here and there. “Sold Out” made me think of early 70s Nazareth with its brightness and voracity. It is one of my favorites on the album – it has a great hook and drive.

And there is more. “Corn Whiskey A Go” lays on the southern rock harmonies and “Distilled In Bayou” is essentially a power ballad. “Charm Of Drinking Hard” is a rambler with an undeniable bass and a tasty lead break. Songs like “One More Time” are just straight-up party tunes that put you in the mood and keep you going. There is a lot of good music here, put down in familiar rock styles and performed with the consent of genuine earnestness. Recommended.

Are We There Yet drops on Friday, March 18th through Secret Entertainment. Snap it up at Bandcamp.

Band photo by Emma Manninen.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://muddymoonshine.bandcamp.com/

Muddy Moonshine website, http://www.muddymoonshine.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/officialmoonshine

Inverse Records, https://www.inverse.fi/

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Muddy Moonshine, Are We There Yet (Secret Entertainment 2022)

Cryptivore, Celestial Extinction (Bitter Loss Records 2022)

Australian one man band Cryptivore rakes the earth with Celestial Extinction, the inaugural long-player.

Brisbane’s own Chris Anning handles all the instruments, including voice, for his project Cryptivore. Five years ago he released a demo called Unseen Divinity, and now we have ten new songs. There isn’t any inherent reason why one person cannot take on the complete burden of creation and performance, except that it is a lot to do – it’s an enormous task. Sometimes it turns out well and other times you really miss the third party perspective collaborators provide. In the case of Cryptivore, the end result is excellent and engaging death metal. Well done.

The ten songs on Celestial Extinction all fall in the two-to-three-minute range, and brevity is an opportunity for high impact. “Gate Of Dismal Torture” is an excellent example. Clocking in at just over two minutes, it has great hooks and is able to stimulate suspense with tempo changes and unexpected punches. The track the follows immediately, “The Ethereal Deceased,” has a convincing doom intro followed by a catchy hook then pressed on by a forceful death metal verse. There are many looks on this album – it is full of exploration.

The elements in the music are clear enough to see. The best part about the music is the way Anning combines them and puts his own unique flair and sensibility in the mix. The first bars of “Solemn Desolation” are like a call to dark meditation and that gets almost immediately juxtaposed with a ravaging death metal torrent but then on the way out there is a cooking groove. I got into this album immediately and stayed with it all the way through, from the opening wails of “Cocoon Hecatomb” to the closing dramatic bars of the anchoring title track. Recommended.

Celestial Extinction is out on March 15th through Bitter Loss Records on digital, CD, and vinyl.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://bitterlossrecords-au.bandcamp.com/album/celestial-extinction

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Cryptivore/

Bitter Loss Records, https://www.bitterlossrecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Cryptivore, Celestial Extinction (Bitter Loss Records 2022)

Overkill, Prong, and Cultus Black at Piere’s, March 9, 2022

It was a night of thrash in northern Indiana when Overkill stopped by for a little rampage on The Wings Of War tour.

I like the extremes of heavy music – I love doom and I love thrash. New Jersey’s Overkill has always been one of my favorite thrash bands. Starting back in the early 1980s, they have released nineteen (!) studio albums, the most recent being The Wings Of War (Nuclear Blast), which they are supporting with the current tour. My favorite Overkill album is probably The Electric Age, and I have been told many times that it’s a controversial choice. I stand by it, and at the same time, I will listen to any of their albums all the way through any time. The music always cranks the adrenaline up. I was most excited to see Overkill, but two other impressive acts went on ahead of them.

A band that I was seeing for the first time, Cultus Black (or Cvltvs Black), opened the show at Piere’s Entertainment Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. On their Facebook page, they describe themselves as “a dramatic deathcore/Nu-metal crossover.” The photos will give you some idea of what went on. These musicians were fully committed and you have to see them live if you really want to understand the experience.

Like Overkill, Prong, too, have a history that stretches back to the 1980s. They released five albums during their first run, then took a break for a few years. For the past twenty years, they’ve been hitting it hard and putting out new music regularly. The band’s latest full-length album is Zero Days (Steamhammer). The style of heavy metal they play has been described in many ways, ranging from hardcore to punk to industrial to thrash to groove. I am satisfied to call it high energy heavy metal, and they stalked the stage like they owned the place. Great set.

Overkill took the stage and took no prisoners. They opened with “Wrecking Crew” and played one monstrous metal anthem after another, wrapping things up on an tidy encore. Founding members Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth and D. D. Verni led the way and Overkill tore the roof off the place to the delight of screaming fans. I was expecting to see a raucous performance but what the band delivered went above and beyond. Many famous and impressive bands play at Piere’s, and Overkill making the journey there was something extra special; another step up.

The Wings Of War tour continues, with many more dates this month and later in the year. Get out there and see these bands to satisfy your need for speed.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Overkill, http://wreckingcrew.com/Ironbound/

Prong, https://prongmusic.com/

Cultus Black, https://www.cultusblack.com/

Piere’s Entertainment Center, https://pieresentertainment.com/

Nuclear Blast Records, https://label.nuclearblast.com/en/music/band/about/71097.overkill.html

Steamhammer, https://shop.steamhammer.de/artists/prong

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Overkill, Prong, and Cultus Black at Piere’s, March 9, 2022

E-L-R, Vexier (Prophecy Productions 2022)

Swiss doomgaze trio E-L-R turn up the ponder knob on their sophomore album, Vexier.

With beginnings in Bern, E-L-R released their first album in 2019, Mænad. The musicians are listed in the press materials in an understated minimalistic way as S. M. (guitar, vocals), I. R. (bass, vocals), and M. K. (drums). They seem to want the album to speak for itself, so let’s honor that premise and give it a listen.

The five long tracks on Vexier begin with “Opiate The Sun.” It is a steady strum at first, slowly growing volume and presence. The clear feeling of Pink Floyd permeates in a Shine On You Crazy Diamond kind of way. The heavy guitars enter about three and a half minutes in – a welcome heavy herald. Listening is hypnotic. The music takes you to another place if you let it, an altered state. The cooldown is dripping water and, from that, slowly your consciousness returns to the here and now.

The next track, “Three Winds,” begins like a hurricane, pounding away at pace in percussion and riff. This one is heady, and it is the vocals that ultimately let you take flight. “Seeds” has an unsettling aspect to it that puts you a bit on edge, even with the reassuring deliberateness of the recurring riff.

“Fleurs of Decay” and “Floret” are the last two tracks, and they came together duet-like in my mind, whatever the intention might have been. A thread from the previous song is still running through, acting as a launching point. You feel the loop in your bones by now, and the doomgaze aspects have taken strongly ahold of your center. You want it to play out, and so it does. I think the experience can be different for each individual, and to some people there could very well be revelations layered into the music. For me, I felt rejuvenated at the end, reassured by the ayahuasca-like plane. Recommended.

Vexier is out on Friday, March 11th through Prophecy Productions. Links below.

Band photo by Ramon Lehmann.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://e-l-r.bandcamp.com/album/vexier

E-L-R website, https://www.e-l-r.band/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/elrhaze

Prophecy Productions, https://us.prophecy.de/

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

E-L-R, Vexier (Prophecy Productions 2022)

Unru, Die Wiederkehr des Verdrängten (Babylon Doom Cult 2022)

German atmospheric black metal band Unru release their second long-player, Die Wiederkehr des Verdrängten.

Unru began ten years ago in Bielefeld, Germany. The trajectory of their recording career has been a cautious one. The band released a demo and a couple of splits before introducing the world to a full length experience in 2016 with Als Tier ist der Mensch nichts. That album was very well received by the growing cadre of fans, and another split and demo followed in due course. It is an understatement to declare Die Wiederkehr des Verdrängten has been looked forward to for several years but, even after a single listening, I would say it was worth the wait.

There are five long tracks on the album, ranging from five minutes to nearly sixteen minutes in duration. The first one begins in a thick gloom, droning then introducing bewitchingly lyrical vocals. The voices seem at first to be an invitation, but as they go on the tension builds and they start to take on the tang of a warning, or perhaps simply a direct threat. It is a rising tide of dark beauty that builds for nearly eight minutes. The title track follows with a structure that is somewhat more straight-forward, featuring heavy guitar riffs leading to a shift toward a blistering pace and strained, hissing black metal vocals. There is a progression in this song, too, moving in the theatrical direction and laying down dramatic passages.

The remaining songs are all epic-length. Each is its own differential combination of sounds, ideas, and techniques the band has become known for producing. The depth of the artistic expression contained in these compositions is formidable. The composers took the necessary time to ensure that the final version of each piece was precisely what they intended, and their efforts show in the impact the music has on you when you listen. I can imagine hearing these long pieces performed live at a festival like Psycho Las Vegas where you can sit back and absorb it all with no alacrity or haste. This music will mark you beneath your skin. Recommended.

Die Wiederkehr des Verdrängten is out now through Babylon Doom Cult Records in CD and digital, with vinyl to follow.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://unru.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/unruband

Babylon Doom Cult Records, https://www.babylondoomcultrecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Unru, Die Wiederkehr des Verdrängten (Babylon Doom Cult 2022)

Pillaging Villagers, Pillaging Villagers (2022)

If you are looking for high-energy drinking music for an enraged mob, you can stop at Pillaging Villagers.

Pillaging Villagers was created entirely by David Frazer. He brought in session musicians Jason Hirt (drums), Brian Koenig (guitar), and Adam Tucker (bass) to commit the ideas to indelible digital in the studio. The press release for the album puts it this way: “Merging the punk-influenced aggressiveness of crossover thrash with the Celtic melodies of folk metal, the ‘peasant metal’ of Pillaging Villagers takes the listener on a journey to a medieval world of pitchfork-wielding rebellion where songs of victory and sorrow alike are belted out with tankards raised high.” Whoever wrote that description deserves a tip because it really makes me want to hear the music. What in the world could this be?

“Wretched Of The Earth” has a hooky opening riff followed by growling vocals and a chorus that sounds like something you might hear from an homogenized Irish exile band. It is very odd. I like all the elements and I am trying to put them together in my head. They are not necessarily disparate, but neither are they necessarily cohesive. “We Remember” lays similar tread, turned up a notch. “The Count” adds an eerie key passage (reminiscent of John Carpenter) while maintaining pace. By now you start to get the hang of what is going on. I can’t say that it is completely understood but the structure has revealed itself to the point where everything is no longer a complete surprise.

Most of the songs are quite short, typically under three minutes. The exception is “The Crisis,” running over eight minutes. Compared to its fellows, this song begins dirge-like. It has a longer narrative arc, unsurprisingly, and the vocals are in a more relaxed mode, at least for time. The landscape does rise and fall during the extended journey, and in the end all these different looks were very appealing as sequenced. Excellent.

There are twelve tracks in all. Look for big singalong choruses and killer riffs around every corner. I haven’t heard anything else quite like this. The way the pieces are put together is fascinating. It is a unique accomplishment. Recommended.

Pillaging Villagers is out on Friday, March 11th. Bandcamp is the easy snag.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://pillagingvillagers.bandcamp.com/album/pillaging-villagers

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/pillagingvillagers

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Pillaging Villagers, Pillaging Villagers (2022)

Nile ~ Incantation ~ Sanguisugabogg ~ I Am at Piere’s, March 1, 2022

It was a night of death metal devastation at Piere’s in Fort Wayne, Indiana when Nile, Incantation, Sanguisugabogg, and I Am rattled the rigging of reality for fans from far and wide.

It was my first time at Piere’s Entertainment Center. I think I am going to be there a lot during my residency in the Midwest because so many heavy music acts make this stop in Northern Indiana. It is an excellent venue with plenty of room for fans and it offers an intimate proximity to the stage.

First up was I Am, a band from Texas. They have an EP and a couple albums out, the latest being Hard 2 Kill. They hit several songs from that recent record and it sounded like there were a couple of new ones in there, too. They got the night off to a great start with some heavy-hitting death metal.

Sanguisugabogg comes from Columbus, Ohio. They are currently touring in support of their latest album, Tortured Whole. I had never seen them live before, and I still don’t think I am pronouncing their name right. I can tell you this: they are formidable. Their songs are filled with savagery and the delivery is razor-sharp. Take the chance to see them whenever you get it, even if you don’t know how to say their name.

I have followed Incantation for many years. I can’t even remember the number of times I have seen them play, and I always come back for more. Their newest album is Sect Of Vile Divinities, which we reviewed very positively here at FFMB (link below). Thirty years in and their music and performance is stronger than ever – my favorite set of the evening.

I think we can all agree that Nile has forged an unforgettable place for themselves in the annals of heavy music. There is not a ton of music out there themed around Egyptian mythology at the jump – it might just be Nile. They have honed their presentation to an unswervingly precise delivery, and the music seeps into you like an ancient curse. The band’s most recent album is Vile Nilotic Rites, and in the live show at Piere’s they didn’t miss a beat.

At first pass you might not have thought to put these four bands together on the same ticket, but their music, in fact, worked exceptionally well together. The tour continues through for a few more stops so if you are in their path make sure you catch this show.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Nile, https://www.nile-official.com/

Incantation, https://www.incantation.com/

Review of Sect of Vile Divinities, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/08/18/incantation-sect-of-vile-divinities-review-relapse-records-2020/

Sanguisugabogg, https://sanguisugabogg.com/

I Am, https://iamtxmusic.bandcamp.com/

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Nile ~ Incantation ~ Sanguisugabogg ~ I Am at Piere’s, March 1, 2022

Crowbar, Zero and Below (MNRK Heavy 2022)

The twelfth studio album from Crowbar is yet another monumental earth-shaker: Zero and Below.

One of the biggest sounds to emerge from the New Orleans heavy music scene, Crowbar are pioneers of sludge metal. Kirk Windstein (vocals, guitar), Matt Brunson (guitar), Shane Wesley (bass), and Tommy Buckley (drums) deliver not merely a new album, but a vitally important one. There is no half in their game – it is a full-on assault from beginning to end.

Sludge metal is a lethal amalgam for doom and aggression. Windstein’s vocals blast power and energy that combine with the titanic riffs and percussion to forge an instantly recognizable and unforgettable sound. While Crowbar has been a clear influence on many successful bands, they have never rested on their success and, for more than thirty years, they have held the throttle wide open.

There are ten killer songs on Zero And Below. The opening track hits you at speed, “The Fear That Binds You,” and turns you right around. The guitar riff is like an advancing legion. “Her Evil Is Sacred” animates the wicked into a reckoning. “Confess To Nothing” leans into the doom realm heavily to great effect, then the pace pounds on with “Chemical Godz.” The music keeps you moving this way and that.

There is all manner of pace and shift in this set. “Denial of the Truth” imbibes a kind of “Planet Caravan” vibe, but it is much heavier than that classic. “Crush Negativity” pushes steamroller weight while “Reanimating A Lie” is more nimble in the clip and every bit as heavy in the narrative. “Bleeding From Every Hole” is a show-stopper, and I would put the title track high up on the list, too, with its surrounding, melancholy ever-presence. This record wreaks havoc from every angle. Highly recommended.

Zero and Below is out now through MNRK Heavy – vinyl, cassette, longbox, digital … whatever you want. Grab them while you can. And see Crowbar on the road – they are out now with Sepultura and Sacred Reich on tour, and they will be doing dates with Gwar, Nekrogoblikon, and The Native Howl later in the spring and summer.

Band photo by Justin Reich.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://crowbar.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/crowbarmusic

MNRK Heavy Records, https://mnrkheavy.com/

Crowbar, Zero and Below (MNRK Heavy 2022)