Texas’ own Fleshrot present their inaugural album, Unburied Corpse.
The death metal scene in Texas is flourishing these days. Fleshrot is a relatively new band from Lubbock, having released a demo and a split (with Phantasmagore) in 2020. Out now with their first full-length album, they play an intense style of death metal that carries a monstrous weight with it.
There are seven songs on the new album. Let’s take a quick sniff at each one. The opener is “Wrapped In Entrails,” and the doom influences are writ large in this terra stomper. “Intricate Dissection” is short and to the point, with croaking, growling vocals and a persistent guitar thrust you have to dodge or else it’ll get you right in the face. “Draining The Liquified Remains” is the grimmest of doom in the opening bars. About a minute in, it takes off on a rampage of death metal. The lead guitar sounds like a warning siren, and the doom returns toward the end to consume whatever is left.
In the title track, Fleshrot hits the high speed button and scorches the earth ahead of a marching army of metal that tromps through land thereafter. “Post Burial Extractions” is a song that forms a coalition to raise the dead through the application of death metal toward a specific goal. This is my favorite on the album. It is the ideal combination of dark mystery, death metal, and doom.
“In Filth and Pain” is another short one, and it tips the velocity scales then it beats a wretched path toward the pit. “Haunted Visions of Sick Depravities” is the perfect bookend to the saga begun by the opening track. Fleshrot is only getting going but they are already on the road to the land of Texas legends. Listen to the album and see if you agree. Recommended.
Unburied Corpse is out on August 1st through Desert Wasteland Productions in the US and Me Saco Un Ojo Records in Europe.
Swedish blues rock band Cirkus Prütz take you for a ride on their new album, Blues Revolution.
I do not think of bands from Sweden first when I am tabulating a mental list of blues rock acts, but after hearing Cirkus Prütz I might have to recalibrate. Blues Revolution is their third album, following All For The Boogie And The Blues (2017) and White Jazz – Black Magic (2019). You’ll hear a variety of music on the record in the fertile lane of southern-influenced blues rock. The more I listen to it, I hear a strong influence of classic rock like Deep Purple in there too, but maybe that is just me. Whatever comparisons anybody wants to make, their music is great to hear. The band is Christian Carlsson (vocals, guitar, harp), Franco Santunione (guitar, vocals), Jerry Prütz (bass, vocals), and Per Kohlus (drums).
The title track starts the set off with a big build-up and a singalong jam, kind of like “Space Truckin’,” but smoother. It is a hard rock pop angle aimed at broad appeal. The guitar solo that comes along is very nice, and it is the part I like best. When I first started listening to this kind of music in the 1980s it was the lead breaks I would always anticipate. “Boogie Woogie Man” puts that guitar right up front with a tasty lick that is a welcome invitation. The singer here is channeling Danny Joe Brown a bit and the song is an excellent bluesy southern rock number. “Modern Day Gentleman” tips its hat to ZZ Top with smooth vocals and a biting lead guitar.
The tempo slows down and picks up as you wind your way through the ten tracks on the album. Each one is well produced with a polished sound. I especially like “Howl Like the Wolf” which has a real get-up-and-go vibe to it, and “Death Knock Blues” because it reminds me of the Ian Gillan songs I like best. I am getting the feeling Cirkus Prütz will put on a good show, and, based on what I have heard here, I would really like to see them live. Recommended.
Blues Revolution is out on Friday July 29th through Metalville Records.
Droning doom band Lathe open the way westward toward an uncertain, peculiar place on their debut album, Tongue Of Silver.
Lathe is Tyler Davis (guitar, bass, organ), Eric Paltell (pedal steel, guitar), and Flynn Diguardia (drums). They are an instrumental doom band from Baltimore, Maryland. This manner of composition is the sort of thing I greatly appreciate because, to me, this is clearly doom music but it is also country music, obviously, and the drone elements are unmistakable, too. None of these separate lands are compromised by the amalgamation. What results is unique.
“Vinegar” is a lonely country tune at the beginning. After a few bars, the music shifts into a more ethereal lonely country tune, with peculiar side bars laying at odd angles, some almost perpendicular. “Drain” is even more sorrowful and downtrodden, offering a beautiful lead guitar presence. “Heat Wave” slows the pace and deepens the atmosphere to a point so thick it begins to close off your air. “Rodeo Fumes” is an upbeat rambler compared to its predecessors. It has a good clip, and a nice melody. There is still the echo of uncertainty that keeps this one in the doom realm.
Things start to get more peculiar on the second side. “315W” has a droning noise bed that tones slip into and around. “Cauliflower” lays on the blues, and the guitar here is a highlight in the set. “Journey To The East” is the big dog in the barnyard and has the most Lost Highway weirdness feel among the contenders, I would say, all the while maintaining the established laid back attitude. It is unhurried, certain. Lastly there is “Morris,” a song to nourish your darkening soul. The powerful rumbling of the guitars is a cushion for the beautiful lead string rambling. A tinge of bitter flashes in once or twice, reminding you that this is real. I am captivated by this album. Recommended.
Tongue Of Silver is out on Friday, July 29th through Grimoire Records. Touch the links below to see the sites.
Hypervirulence Architecture is the new album from Hissing.
With three EPs and a long-player under their belt, Seattle’s Hissing brings out a new full-length album, Hypervirulence Architecture. Having begun only in 2015, this is a notable record of musical creation from the highly respected death and black metal band. The musicians are Zach Wise (bass, vocals), Joe O’Malley (guitar), and Sam Pickel (drums).
This new record is noticeably different from their debut album, Permanent Destitution (2018). The press release gets it right when it notes that, on Hypervirulence Architecture, “the trio take their sound into more nightmarish, trance-inducing, mercurial, and mind-altering sonic dominions.” They achieve a delicate balance between what we might think of as death metal and black metal, while making concerted use of ambient/noise moments constructed sometimes almost ritualistically. It is a sinister blend.
“Cells of Nonbeing” is the first of seven tracks. It sounds for all the world like a frantic casting about in a dark cave that might very well be an abyss. The farther in you go, the more mysterious it becomes. The guitars lean toward dissonance part of the time, and the vocals are not meant to be reassuring. “Hostile Absurdity” further loosens the moorings you thought were secure, leaving you to drift into dangerous regions. “Operant Extinction” is then unleashed, and it is the most impressive track on the album. An epic piece, running over ten minutes, it is fascinatingly doomy and filled in every space with dark and frightening looks.
The second half of the album starts with a transition piece, “Hypervirulence,” then kicks in the door with “Intrusion,” a song that builds tension to the bursting point. “Identical To Hunger” and “Meltdown” are reflected images – visions distorted by a warped onyx glass. Listening to these last two tracks, I began to feel appropriated by some existential object that could not be clearly discerned. This album will affect you. Recommended.
Hypervirulence Architecture is out now through Profound Lore Records. Have a look at the label’s website and/or pick the album up at Bandcamp.
South American thrash metal band Critical Defiance returns with their sophomore album, No Life Forms.
Critical Defiance is from Chile, and they have been playing thrash metal in that vibrant scene since 2013. The new record follows the success of the band’s 2019 debut long-player Misconception, and it is a mighty step forward. Proceeding from the standard of early thrash lines, the music you will hear is rendered at high-speed and set to disrupt. Critical Defiance is not very concerned about where the border lines are in heavy music – they crank it up and do what they want, mixing in some delightful surprises. The band is Mauricio Toledo (guitar, vocals), Rodrigo Poblete (drums), Felipe Alvarado (vocals, guitar), Ignacio Arevalo (bass), and Javier Salgado (guitar).
There are ten tracks on the new album. Many are on the short side, with four running under three minutes. The kick-off is “A World Crumbling Apart.” Faithful to the title, this song comes at you from all directions at once, demonstrating apparent chaos. The speed is dizzying and there is a lot going on for a song that runs less than two minutes. It all sorts out in your head and the aggression and perfectly paced fretting gets the gears turning. “The Last Crusaders…Bringers of Death!” chomps at the bit all the way through. The vocals are urgent and forceful, and the rhythm section is deliberate and careening. The first guitar solo is executed with tripping ferocity while the second one is more melodic. It is an excellent combination. And then “Altering The Senses” pivots between a groove riff and a blistering rager. This album does not allow you to become complacent.
Other stand-out tracks for me are “Elephant,” which has a sort of jazz lounge thrash beginning before opening the gates of speed, and “Warhead,” a composition that is completely off the rails. A transition piece leads into the closer which is the title track and the longest song on the album. It is fantastic, displaying both the most patience of any piece on the album, and the greatest sense of completed energy. Thrash definitely lives on this record. Recommended.
No Life Forms is out now through Unspeakable Axe Records.
Romanian death metal band Rotheads bring the menace on their second full-length album, Slither In Slime.
From Bucharest, death metal ministers Rotheads have been laying down the riffs since 2014. Originally springing up as a side project for members of the band Keeng Ra’at, Rotherads have definitely become their own thing. Their first long-player, Sewer Fiends (2018), hit the street hard and the ranks of the band’s followers have been swelling ever since. Their music has death metal as its starting point and infuses thrash and surprising catchiness to create something that you will not hear anywhere else.
The new album has seven luscious tracks. “Vampyric Inbreeding” calls the meeting to order with a deceptively straightforward death metal set-up in the rhythm, guitars, and vocals. The divergences are manifest with choppy riffs and tasty licks somehow living in the caustic environment. “Lost in the Cemetery Gardens” sounds like it could be an overture at times; very theatrical and dramatic but also dark. “Gut Mauled” is a walk up a haunted mountain trail with lost guides who turn on you with a grin on their lips and knives in their hands. Yeah. Exactly like that. Great song.
The band next shows us “Gore Coffin,” raring at pace – there is no time to get out of the way. The pliant guitar line has a mesmerizing effect, a hypnotizing influence. “Spectral Visitation” carries with it the weight of doom as it pulls back misty veils to reveal another world. “Skin Forest” is a tome of dark secrets that are both right at hand and also from distant lands. Finally, “Dragged Through Existence” has the last word and makes the most of the opportunity. It is the longest song on the record and the most densely composed, and it will churn beneath the shell of your consciousness long after it seems to be over.
The music on this album is death metal expanded in a way I have never heard before. It is captivating, with all the strong metal roots needed for sustenance and such an incredible variety of otherness that you are constantly engaged while you’re listening to it. Highly recommended.
Slither In Slime is out on July 25th through Memento Mori. Peruse the label’s website or hit up Bandcamp at the links below.
Castrator’s debut full-length album Defiled In Oblivion is a refreshing punch in the gut.
Castator is a death metal quartet from New York that came together in 2013. After releasing a roaring EP in 2015, No Victim, they have been building toward a long-player, and now we have it with Defiled In Oblivion. The band is Robin Mazen (bass), Carolina Perez (drums), Kimberly Orellana (guitars), and Clarissa Badini (vocals).
The ten-track album opens with all guns blazing on “Dawa of Yousafzai.” Grisly vocals and battering rhythm grinds at you and will not allow you catch your breath. The lead guitar break is a swarm of bees swinging chain saws. The next song slows the pace to a step below dizzying in the opening bars, but then “Tormented by Atrocities” hits the gas and doesn’t look back. The guitars introduce a sour perspective now and then, and sometimes tilt the ground to keep you on your toes. The punishment continues on “Befoul My Existence,” where there is a throwback homage if you listen for it. The percussion is killing it on this track, and Badini’s vocals are the menacing centerpiece.
Other tracks I especially like include “Voices of Evirato,” which has a great spacey guitar break in it amidst extremely heavy riffs, and “Sinister Mind” for its absolute relentlessness. I also really appreciate Castrator’s cover of the classic Venom song, “Countess Bathory.” The beats are there as is a fresh infusion of enthusiasm. It is such a good song and it is great to hear it resurrected. Let me add “Sinister Mind” to the list, too, while I am at it. That song flat out rips. I have got to see this band live. Recommended.
Defiled In Oblivion is out through Dark Descent Records on Friday, July 22nd. Hit the links below.
The Inkcarceration Music and Tattoo Festival returned to the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, on July 15-17 with three days of music played to a sold out crowd.
Inkcarceration is a relatively new event. The festival began in 2018, following on the heels of the Ink In The Clink festival that had run for three years prior in a similar theme. When I first attended in 2019, and there was one main stage and a smaller side stage. Last year, the festival partnered with a major festival promoter, Danny Wimmer Presents, and the festival expanded dramatically, attracting 75,000 fans in 2021. In 2022, there were more than fifty bands playing at the event, including headliners KORN, Breaking Benjamin, Evanescence, and Disturbed.
There are many things that make Inkcarceration different from other music festivals. To Begin with the most obvious, the event is held on the grounds of the Ohio State Reformatory, an historic prison that opened in 1896 and was in use until 1990. All attendees of the festival could go on a self-guided tour of the prison for free during the weekend. You don’t get that at Bonnaroo.
Another huge feature of Inkcarceration is right in the name – it is a tattoo festival as well. More than sixty tattoo artists displayed their work and offered tattoo appointments to attendees in halls set up toward the rear of the prison. Even though I focused on the music while I was there, I did see a lot of fresh ink wandering the grounds so clearly the tattoo aspect of the fest is a big draw.
With so many bands playing during the weekend, I cannot talk about them all, so I will mention a few highlights from each day to give a sense of experience.
Day 1. The big draws on the first day were Papa Roach and headliner KORN – I have seen both bands many times before and they always put on a great show. Being a metalhead myself I am perpetually on the lookout for the louder acts, so I was also fired up to see Code Orange and DED, and they did not disappoint. The crowd was at first a little confused by Code Orange, I think, but they came around and threw in with the spirit of things by the end of the set. Lacuna Coil gave an emotive performance, and they announced that they were releasing a re-imagined version of their famous album Comalies in the near future for its twentieth anniversary. All of the music was delivered with energy and passion, and the big show really was KORN at the end of the day.
Day 2. There was a chance of rain as the second day dawned, but it never happened. Clouds provided a nice screen from the summer sun most of the day and the music went off without a hitch. Breaking Benjamin and Evanesence were the biggest name on the slate, and they offered up breath-taking performances. The award for the feistiest set goes to Spiritbox for an amazing show. There is a short drone video of part of Spiritbox’s set and if you haven’t seen it yet, look it up because it is extremely well done. You get to see the perspective of the crowd, and then the perspective of the band, and you also get to hover on stage for a while. Very cool. My favorite set from the day, predictably, was Black Label Society. Zakk and crew played an hour of unforgettable metal spiced with amazing, nearly-impossible guitar playing and a rowdy round of chest beating at the end. It couldn’t have been better.
Day 3. The rain caught up with Inkcarceration on Sunday. The door time got pushed back one hour because of lightning in the area and three bands were cut from the line-up as a result: Fire From The Gods, The Violent, and Darkhorse Saloon. That is unfortunate for those bands and their fans, but overall it is amazing that no other scheduling adjustments had to be made. The crowd was a bit smaller on the third day of the festival, but concertgoers still swarmed in droves to make it all happen. Disturbed, Lamb Of God, and Seether were the top-billed names on the schedule for day three. The slots leading in were loaded with hot tickets, too: Jelly Roll, Black Veil Brides, John 5, Butcher Babies, and 10 Years were must-sees for me. Even in the rain.
Inkcarceration is a festival that is growing every year. The combination of the setting, the tattoo artists, and the compelling line-up makes it one of the best music festivals of the year. If you missed out on the festival in 2022, give this one strong consideration for next year because it is a guaranteed good time.
[This is an excerpt from the article I wrote for Ryze-Up Magazine. A link to that full article appears below (or it will, as soon as it posts).]
Los Angeles metal band Behold! The Monolith have created a doom-laden masterpiece with their new album From The Fathomless Deep.
Behold! The Monolith have gone through some changes since their inception fifteen years ago. They have released an EP and three previous long-players prior to the latest album. The band has shifted and reshaped since the sudden loss of vocalist and bassist Kevin McDade in a car accident in 2009. Reorienting to a trio on the new album, Menno Verbaten plays bass and sings, Matt Price is on guitar, and Chase Manhattan, drums. This latest music is some of their heaviest to date.
There are six tracks on From The Fathomless Deep. “Crown/The Immeasurable Void” opens the set and establishes a weighty foundation. All instruments, including voice, hit on the first note laying out a heavy front of doom. Slow and monstrous, you can feel the behemoth getting closer as the song moves along. The tension grows throughout and, when you hear a quiet passage, it is positively ominous. “Psychlopean Dread” has a mysterious beginning and melancholy lead work. Verbaten’s gruff vocals churn primordial forces to create meaning from the mist. “Spirit Taker” picks the pace up, and then some. The stabbing guitar riff and rapid-fire percussion catch you off guard and hit all the harder for it. It’s a rager.
Side two leads with “The Wailing Blade,” a song that has a less ominous but more directly threatening tone. It is short and cracking. “The Seams of Pangaea” is a fascinating title when you think of the implications it carries, and the music delivers a full-on expression of the possibilities. The overlayed lead guitar work is exceptional, and the Pink Floydian movement is an experience. The album closes on the eleven-minute epic “Stormbreaker Suite.” This piece has some of the most progressive segments on the record, to my ear, anyway. Over the course of the song, an ambitious array of ideas is explored, and the answers are found.
The is album is very heavy, and it is one of my favorites, not just from Behold! The Monolith, but among the all the albums I have heard so far this year. Highly recommended.
From The Fathomless Deep is out now through Ripple Music. Secure your treasures at the label’s site, or at Bandcamp, like I did.
Canadian death metal band Wake release their sixth album, Thought Form Descent.
From Calgary, Alberta, heavy music band Wake has built a career by being different, not just from other bands but also from their previous selves. Moving from grindcore and crust toward black and death metal, combining and fusing them, and adding whatever was right and deemed needed is a hallmark of Wake. Over the course of five previous long-players, a couple of EPs, and split, the music is as reliably earnest and unpredictable.
There are eight tracks on the new album. “Infinite Inward” opens like a melodic death metal song and travels on an arc that leads to more extreme environments. “Swallow The Light” has a rambler kind of feel to it in the opening bars, reminding me a little of Mastodon. “Mourning Dirge (Repose of the Dead)” completes the first triplet, sounding for all the universe like a battling starship in an uncertain scrap that could go either way.
After a transition piece, “Venerate (The Undoing of All)” leads the way into part two. The song is a big production with dramatic presentations throughout, pushing even more than the previous pieces, and that is saying something as, up to this point, the album has already been intense. “Observer to Master” plasters rage across the horizon, and then does it again, and then does it some more. “Bleeding Eyes of the Watcher” puts me in mind of sorcery and has me thinking the world is not what it seems to be on the surface. This is a steady one that climbs a mountain then explores the coastline on the other side. Unsatisfied, the music presses on to reveal horrors buried deep. That is where it leaves you. “The Translation of Deaths” is a short reflective cooldown.
I presumed this album would diverge from the previous one because the previous ones had done that very thing to their predecessors. The new album lived up to that expectation and, more than that, provided active entertainment, drama, and opportunities for introspection. Recommended.
Thought Form Descent is out through Metal Blade Records on Friday, July 22nd. Explore the possibilities at the links below.