Cell Press review (No Funeral Records 2020)

Montreal [*]core band Cell Press venture out with their first EP.

The band Cell Press is only about a year old, but the musicians it is comprised of have been plying their trade for some time. The band is Sean Arsenian, Joey Cormier, Mark McGee, and PQ. If I had to label the music on the self-titled EP, I would call it Punk, but the band does not embrace a particular label and writers are calling them everything from Grindcore to Metalcore to Sludge to Noise so I am going to go with [*]core. Fast, loud, guitar-driven music, sometimes discordant.

There are four songs and a longer track that is referred to as a “noise” piece in the press materials. “Piss Police” is up first and it begins tentatively with thrilling drumming and progressively coagulating guitar riffing, joined later by shouting. “Desert Breath” is like a person running down the street in a flaming halter top who seems to be more concerned about being late than being on fire. “Blacked Out in Verdun” – more great drumming and pensive guitar riffs to twist up the personal cataclysm. “Dead at OACI.” I assume this refers to the Metro Station (but it might not), and it goes from linear, certain riffs to pure mayhem, especially as the end nears. The long track is “My Son Will No the Truth,” clocking in at 11:40 and appearing at the end of the set. It is almost as long as the other for pieces combined. It is the sort of thing you have to just listen to and let happen. Describing it wouldn’t really get us anywhere.

Noisy and enjoyable, I give this Cell Press effort high marks. I am a Punk fan from the beginning, and I hear those roots here, certainly in the attitude, even if the category is technically off. The disenfranchisement is very appealing. Recommended.

You can buy the digital at Bandcamp, No Funeral Records has a cassette and T-shirt, and Ancient Temple Recordings will also be carrying products. Links below. The official release date is this Friday, November 27.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://cellpress.bandcamp.com/releases

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

Ancient Temple Recordings, https://ancienttemplerecordings.bigcartel.com/

No Funeral Shop, https://store.nofuneral.ca/product/cell-press-t-shirt-t-shirt-cassette-bundle

Cell Press review (No Funeral Records 2020)

Iron Flesh, Summoning The Putrid review (Great Dane Records 2020)

Back for the attack with their second full-length album, Iron Flesh storms the gate with thundering old school Death Metal.

Hailing from France, Iron Flesh has been active in the heavy music scene since 2017. They have released two EPs, Worship The Necrogod (2017) and Scourge Of Demonic Incantations (2018), as well as last year’s LP Forged Faith Bleeding. In May this year they also released a live album, A Necro Dead One, and now there is Summoning The Putrid. You can’t say they are not dedicated to the craft.

Their sound is stone crushing Death Metal, with infused Black Metal influences. No quiet songs, no clean singing. The band sticks to traditional implements of musical creation: guitar, bass, voice, and drums. The new album is nine songs of shattering sonic disturbance.

After a few conciliatory seconds, “Servants of Oblivion” flies off into a rage of straightforward metal aggression, getting the set going with a big push. The compositions overall are riff heavy on this album and light on the lead breaks, putting more pressure on writing creative combinations and tempo shifts. Solo guitar expressions in songs like “Purify Through Blasphemy” occur in unusual places, giving them added emphasis. Longer pieces such as “Death and the Reaper’s Scythe” express fundamental Doom elements with aplomb and execute them with precision. And immediately following this long track, the blistering “Incursion of Evil” resets the pace and energy to overdrive. The closer is “Convicted Faith,” and it establishes an ominous message at its onset, signaling an eldritch threat. It sounds like the speaking of dark incantations over the bodies of the fallen after a tumult. It is an excellent lid to a fine album. Recommended.

Summoning The Putrid is out this Friday, November 27. Look no further than the Bandcamp links below. If you preorder it now you get two tracks immediately – “Relinquished Flesh” and “Demonic Enn” – and the rest when the full album drops in a few days.

Links.

Band Bandcamp, https://ironflesh.bandcamp.com/

Band Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/IronFlesh

Label website, http://www.greatdanerecs.com

Label Bandcamp, http://greatdanerecords.bandcamp.com/

Label Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/GreatDaneRecords

Iron Flesh, Summoning The Putrid review (Great Dane Records 2020)

Empress, Wait ’Til Night review (Brilliant Emperor 2020)

Following up on their first album, Empress walks even deeper into the darkness.

In 2017, the Australian band Empress released their self-titled exploratory record. Their second, Wait ’Til Night, was recorded in 2018-2019 and is appearing now in the perfect historical setting for the mood the music establishes. The band is Chloe Cox (vocals and keys), Julian Currie (guitar), Jackson Tuchscherer (guitar), Shaun Allen (bass), and Ben Smith (drums and percussion).

There is a long list of tags associated with Empress including doom, shoegaze, alternative, indie, post-rock … and they all fit. The songs on the new album are mostly very quiet and subdued, and entirely infused with darkness. The recurring themes I hear are sadness and regret written into a variety of settings.

“Golden Orb” opens with a single guitar accompanying Chloe Cox’s pleading voice, joined in time by slightly off center rhythm and pace. The most aggressive vocals appear in this song, and here the music lives up to the band’s own description that its work is “a clash of emotional and musical contradictions, soft and harsh, calm and hysterical.” The next two songs – “Wait ’Til Night” and “Scorpio Moon” – share a sourness, a sort of clashing twinge in the composition that ties them together in my head. “Back To The Ground” is eerie, like a slow murder in the mist. “Void Share Void” is a study of emptiness where the sorrow eases quietly along, occasionally interrupted by punctuating bursts. “Curse” feels like a story of fate being imposed on you and “Where No Light Remains” has an ambient soft roar underlying the gentle singing and sympathetic piano that removes all resistance from your mind.

The album ends with “I Let You In,” which is the loudest in the set, beginning as it does with coarse, crossing instruments. Cox’s voice moves from its quietude to straining against the recurring theme of regret. The first song and the last song together create an ethereal border that holds all the music in the set together. I find this album to be solemn and darkly soothing. Recommended.

Wait ’Til Night is available now. The digital is an easy get at Bandcamp, and Brilliant Emperor has released a vinyl version as well as a merch bundle (shop link below).

Links.

Empress Bandcamp, https://empressempress.bandcamp.com

Empress Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/empress.band.empress

Label Shop, https://brilliantemperor.bigcartel.com

Label Bandcamp, https://brilliantemperor.bandcamp.com

Empress, Wait ’Til Night review (Brilliant Emperor 2020)

My Dying Bride, Macabre Cabaret review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Hot on the heels of The Ghost Of Orion released earlier this year, My Dying Bride issues even more new music with Macabre Cabaret.

My Dying Bride is a storied band. A pioneer of Doom Metal and atmospheric Death Metal, not to mention Gothic Metal, they have been a mainstay in heavy music for thirty years. The band is Andrew Craighan (guitars, keyboards, and bass), Aaron Stainthorpe (vocals), Lena Abé (bass), Shaun Macgowan (keyboards and violin), Jeff Singer (drums), and Neil Blanchett (guitars). Macabre Cabaret includes three songs.

The title track is a ten minute long expression of dark beauty. It is solemn and ethereal, with movements of quiet reflection seamlessly transforming into forceful, surrounding dread. “A Secret Kiss” echoes like a seafaring nightmare told on a dark rocking ocean after the sun goes down. It is the essence of sinister. “A Purse Of Gold And Stars” is a plea to unseen universal forces. A quiet piano and softly spoken lyrics glide atop a churning malevolence of sound and, as the song progresses, a ghostly accompaniment of violin and disembodied choir. The final simple singular notes are piercingly haunting.

Macabre Cabaret is out now and available at the links below. The CD reportedly has an additional track, “Orchestral Shores (Buiksloterkerk Cathedral Mix).” Fans of the band will immediately embrace this album, and it is an excellent introduction for newcomers as well. Recommended.

Photo by John Steel.

Links.

Website, http://www.mydyingbride.net/

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

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/mini-cd/my-dying-bride-macabre-cabaret.html

My Dying Bride, Macabre Cabaret review (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Fuming Mouth, Beyond The Tomb notice (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Following up on their impressive debut full-length from last year, Fuming Mouth has released a new EP.

Since 2013, Fuming Mouth has been releasing demos, splits, and EPs, leading up to The Grand Descent (2019). That was a big album with twelve crushing tracks. The new one is three songs, and they are just as ferocious.

“Beyond The Tomb” is a dark curse thrown at your spirit that cannot be escaped. “Master Of Extremity” is a steam roller headed straight for you. “Road To Odessa” is a heavy hammer of doom. Three things stand out to me about this release: the attack vector of the music which I hear as multidirectional, the massive bass lines, and the originality of the clever elements that are integral to the music, not merely ancillary. It is not easy to make a place for yourself in the heavy music scene, but Fuming Mouth is doing just that. This is a band to watch.

The new EP is out now from Nuclear Blast Records. Gather it unto you, in digital or physical incarnations. Either way, consider it highly recommended.

Photo by Gabe Becerra.

Links.

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

Website, https://www.fumingmouth.com/

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

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/vinyl/lp/fuming-mouth-beyond-the-tomb.html

Fuming Mouth, Beyond The Tomb notice (Nuclear Blast 2020)

Ilsa, Preyer review (Relapse Records 2020)

Washington, DC doom metal masters Ilsa unveil their sixth full-length album, bringing feral certainty to a world of indecision.

The first music of Ilsa’s I heard was Corpse Fortress (2018), well into the history of the band. What a great album. The music is Doom Metal in a very active sense, with no dragging or overdrawn moments. It is intense, and I expected the same from the new one, Preyer. It is all that and more.

“Epigraph” has a voiceover for the entire song where a Satanist discusses killing someone as part of what appears to be an interview. This is about Sean Sellers, a convicted murderer, and the album has this notion as its starting point. The music is heavily distorted and begins in the background. By the end of the song the positions are reversed with the voice becoming more distant and the music taking the forefront. “Poor Devil” is next and it is the first step after launch. The fully formed doom vision of the band is instantly in play and there is no looking back.

The pace is variegated but the filling line is not. The vocals on every track sounds like the world depends on the message getting through. The lead work is penetrating and the rhythm sets solid steel railing. The Punk intentions are plainer on some songs, like “Shibboleth,” and on others, like “Mother of God,” Doom lays it hands on heavy and presses hard. The title song is like a mad monk’s manifesto and the closer, “The Square Coliseum,” slides the stone lid over the sarcophagus of ruin in a final, terminal jolt. The place where solace lives is not accessible from this musical world.

Preyer is out this Friday, November 20th. It is a welcome addition to the band’s burgeoning canon. Recommended.

Band photo by Maire O’Sullivan.

Links.

Ilsa Bandcamp, https://ilsa.bandcamp.com/

Ilsa Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/ILSADC

Relapse Records, http://www.relapse.com

Relapse Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

Ilsa, Preyer review (Relapse Records 2020)

Greenwitch, CosmoSteelBlood Trinity review (HPGD 2020)

Directly from outer space to you, Greenwitch lands a heavy Death Metal EP in your lap.

Not much is known about the California metal band Greenwitch apart from their affinity for discord and their yearning for exploration. The band describes the new album this way: “‘CosmoSteelBlood Trinity’ utilizes the classic HM-2 tone along with cosmic noise to convey an epic tale of the aftermath of a power struggle between the 9 Galactic Lords and 3 extradimensional beings.” OK, then. Let’s give this a spin.

“Cellar Dweller” is the first punch to your aural canals and it offers up a grinding squeal for a handshake. Breathy Death Metal vocals cast aspersions on the surroundings while clomping guitars are pilloried by pummeling percussion. It’s beautiful. The music does have a buzzing intergalactic insect tone to it, and that is carried through on the next song, “Parasite Possession,” although there also has a strong groove in the riffs as well. “From Nothing” is Punk in the singing while “To Devour The Flesh Of Worlds” is a march on the field of battle.

The final two songs are a couplet, “Celestial Tomb” and “Conquest Of Thorns.” These songs are the most ominous (and the longest) on CosmoSteelBlood Trinity. Relentless, I would call them, especially the latter. The sinister whispering toward the end is deeply creepy, and the final flourish sounds like an alarm and an impending metallic crash. When this is over, you need to wipe your face. Recommended.

Anticipating its drop on November 20th, you can preorder the album now at the links below.

Links.

HPGD Website, http://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/

HPGD Bandcamp, http://hpgd.bandcamp.com/

HPGD Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/pg/horrorpaingoredeath/posts/

Greenwitch, CosmoSteelBlood Trinity review (HPGD 2020)

Dvne, Omega Severer review (Metal Blade Records 2020)

The new EP from Dvne captures some of their new music and reinvigorates some of their well-known work.

Edinburgh, Scotland Prog Metal band Dvne will have a new album out in 2021. In the mist of time between now and then, they have released an EP that has two songs: one new, and the other a re-recording of a favorite tune from the band’s Aurora Majesty release of 2015.

The band is Victor Vicart (guitar, vocals, and keys), Dudley Tait (drums), Daniel Barter (guitar and vocals), Greg Armstrong (bass), and Evelyn May (keys). I found out about them via Psycho Las Vegas, and I have been a fan ever since. For many people, Prog is an acquired taste, perhaps because of its compositional density – it requires participation from the listener. I like it in just the right amounts; I know when to listen and when to stop.

The new song is “Omega Severer,” to which the EP owes its title. It is heavy on the synthesizers. I do not mean that as a negative criticism – the song is ten minutes long and there is a lot going on throughout the journey. There are multiple voices, heavy guitars, quiet moments and outrageously loud ones. The complex nature of this type of music often means that these sort so transitions are expected, and here they all are. The possibilities are truly endless but artistry and talent are required to make something enjoyable to listen to and memorable. This song hits all the marks, and more.

The re-recorded song is “Of Blade And Carapace.” I liked this song the first time I heard, and the re-recording is excellent. It is a very active piece, with rapid movements and a pulsating, compelling nature.

Bandcamp is the place to collect these songs. Link below. I am anxiously awaiting the full album in 2021. Recommended.

Band photo by Johannes Andersen.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://songs-of-arrakis.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://facebook.com/DvneUK

Dvne, Omega Severer review (Metal Blade Records 2020)

Seismic, Seismic review (2020)

The first album from Philly instrumental doom band Seismic is an all-encompassing heavy crush.

Anthony Mariano (guitars), Ken Miller (bass), and Mike Lang (drums) came together as a trio in 2018. The quick take is that they play instrumental Doom Metal, but it is not really as homogenous as that. The band’s self-titled debut plainly demonstrates the musicians’ broad palette. In some ways, instrumental music is more compositionally freeing because of the absence of the vocals. It is true you lose the blatant narrative organ, but you also dispense with the need to create music that works with that element.

The album is three songs: 6½, 7½ , and 11½ minutes running. “The Colour Out Of Space” is a minor cacophony for a few seconds before the heavily distorted vibrating strings turn up the power and the feedback squeals open your eyes. The massive doom thrum is the billboard you drive by until the lead work drops in and percussion solidifies the form. You are halfway through by the time the speedy chop rolls up. Riding the high waves of the pushing riffs is nimble electric guitar melody. “Haunter In The Dark” has a more straightforward front end – an ominous percussion movement that is hesitant and also forewarning. It sounds like something terrifying is about to happen, but you have to hang around to hear it.

The longest piece is last, “At The Mountains Of Madness.” Lovecraft is a doom go-to, and they bleed the eerie vibe for all it is worth. Over the course of the song, the haunting seeps in and cannot be shaken out. The atmosphere swells in your lungs, roiling and determined, and clings like sticky smoke. But then you don’t want to let it go, anyway. This is more than an excellent start, this first album from Seismic, and I can’t wait to hear what comes next in the coming months. Recommended.

Bandcamp is the quick and easy place to buy the download. You can also preorder a vinyl version there which will be out in January.

Links.

Website, http://www.seismicdoom.com

Bandcamp, https://seismicdoom.bandcamp.com

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

Seismic, Seismic review (2020)

Balothizer, Cretan Smash review (Louvana Records 2020)

The sophomore album from Balothizer is a heavy fusion of folk music from Crete and sturdy metal influences making the title of the set spot on.

The band is Pav Mav (bass and vocals), Nikos Ziarkas (electric lute), and Steve J. Payne (drums). The band explains that their music for the new album starts with “Cretan folk songs, either for their melodies, historic and regional idioms, potent lyrics, rhythms, patterns or dances” and combines or transforms them into modern metal fusion pieces. This is somewhat different from the approach of their first album in that the new one is heavier, utilizing an electric lute (that’s right) rather than acoustic executions. The result is astonishing.

This music is not like Folk Metal you hear from Scandinavia. It is more in the lane of System of a Down, but Balothizer’s approach is more deeply rooted in the tunes and rhythms of the traditional music they are celebrating. The application of modern instruments and sound does not separate from the roots but it does grow a different branch. The attitude and posture is punk while the reverence for the underlying traditional music is never trampled.

“Jegaman” leaps at you with a fierce speed and relentlessness that grabs your attention immediately. “Peace” emerges slowly with percussion and an echoed voice, then the electric lute kicks in and we are off to a different place. “Aleppo” is the noisiest track, brimming with angular musical leverage and clanking assertions. And then a song like “Anathema” has a quiet beginning, a melancholy feel that evolves over its ten minute path into a bigger, louder call. All of these separate approaches are necessary to complete the full message of the album. The music is very different compared to most other heavy acts – it is a refreshing and welcome listen. Recommended.

Cretan Smash is out now. Check out the available versions at the label link below. Also Bandcamp.

Band photo by Andreas Christophides.

Links.

Band Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Balothizer

Bandcamp, https://balothizer.bandcamp.com/album/cretan-smash

Label, https://www.louvanarecords.com/store#!/Balothizer/

Balothizer, Cretan Smash review (Louvana Records 2020)