Death metal band Grotesqueries present their debut EP, Haunted Mausoleum.
Grotesqueries was started by drummer Yianni Tranxidis, known for his work in bands like Black Mass, Garroted, and Gog. Well versed in a broad array of heavy music stylings, he focuses on death metal in the new effort with impressive results. Joining Tranxidis for the album are Brendan O’Hare (guitar), John Rainis (bass), and Mike Buonomo (vocals). The EP runs a sparse three tracks, but in those moments you can get a good feel for what Grotesqueries is capable of achieving. Let’s track-by-track this one.
“Flesh Prison” is a surging dirge of obliteration. It begins with a battering attitude, then turns to a short series of great hooks before settling down into a growling steamroller of a death metal song. At times sounding like the disturbed rantings of an unstable dark wizard, the music cradles the evil spark inside you.
“From Skin Into The Sin” hangs you on hooks and beats you with switches. There is charging quality to this track, as in an armed force on horses charging toward their foes. The groove moments are tantalizing delights while the vocals are relentless, insidious. The lead guitar break is harnessed chaos.
“Gortician” is muscular, like a rampaging gorilla jacked up into a white line fever. A third of the way through, there is a wind-down that serves to create tension more than relaxation, because you know this is not the way it ends so you get worked up wandering what comes next. Urgent slicing riffs break through and resolve your uncertainty.
This EP builds a strong foundation that points toward splendid possibilities for the future. Recommended.
Haunted Mausoleum opens to the public on August 11th through Caligari Records.
The fourth album from LA ska-punk band The Interrupters is out now: Into The Wild.
Breaking ground in 2011, Los Angeles ska band The Interrupters is comprised of Aimee Interrupter (vocals), Kevin Bivona (guitar), Justin Bivona (bass), and Jesse Bivona (drums). Their first album was self-titled and released in 2014, and was followed in two-year jumps by Say It Out Loud and Fight The Good Fight. The new one is pretty much on schedule, adjusting for the pandemic, and it is right on the mark as far as the band’s fans will be concerned.
“Anything Was Better” gets things going and has a decidedly Celtic punk structure, feel, and cadence to it, and that is one of the things I like most about the song. There is a catchy chorus, a snappy little lead guitar jam, and Aimee Interrupter’s fantastic voice. “As We Live” carries a Squirrel Nut Zippers vibe, and “Raised By Wolves” matches a light-hearted beat to a serious story. What a great beginning.
“In The Mirror” was the lead single, and its two million taps on Spotify testify to its popularity. It is one of the most California ska-ish tunes on the record, and appeals directly to the band’s multitude of fans. Then “Kiss The Ground” takes a hard turn into pop reggae, tilting the musical mirror in a corollary direction. That mirror gets smashed on the next one, “Jailbird,” an up-tempo clipper with a rousingly-singable chorus.
Throughout the fourteen song journey on the new album you can, in many ways, make what you want from the music. It is imminently enjoyable on the surface, so you can listen casually and be enormously entertained. If you want to dive a little deeper, listen more carefully and you will find meaning in the songs that seem to relate directly to you. However you want to take it, a dose of The Interrupters is good for what ails you.
I was hooked the first time I heard the band play a few years back. Since then I have been waiting for new music to hit the street and now it has. This is a great album. Recommended.
Into The Wild is out now through Hellcat/Epitaph Records. You can hear it at all the streaming services and pick up the physicals at the links below.
Soulfly returns with their twelfth album, Totem, and it is another earthshaker.
The beginning of Soulfly dates back to the mid-nineties. After leaving Sepultura, singer and guitarist Max Cavalera started the band, initially playing a kind of nu-metal that integrated influences from diverse sources. As the years passed, the compositions continued to weave in fascinating elements from world music while turning toward thrash and groove metal, and death metal as well. The new record, Totem, makes an even twelve full-length albums from Soulfly, and it is as creative and innovative as any in their canon. Zyon Cavalera (drums) and Mike Leon (bass) join Max Cavalera to create some of the biggest sounds you will hear this year.
The ten-track set opens with “Superstition.” You can sense the rampage coming from a mile off as the sound builds to an explosive level. Max Cavalera’s familiar voice immediately centers you and draws your attention to the mangling configuration. You are trapped by the whirling guitars, and there you stay until the end. “Scouring The Vile” loads next, and there is a seamless continuation into another situation of adrenaline-soaked menace and groove. Fast and chopping, this one breaks you open from the inside out. “Filth Upon Filth” is a tantalizing riot of surges paired with an arc of extra-sensorial guitar sincere enough to vibrate your molars.
These first three songs were released as singles before the full album dropped, and they set the stage perfectly for the rest of the music. There is a lot going on here. Witness “Rot In Pain” as a short ragged punch and compare it to, say, the title track where the groove has a bigger place and the song has a longer and deeper path, generally. Or “Ancestors,” which is itself dramatic and fascinating, with the epic closer, “Spirit Animal” – a song with some similar elements that are developed into a sustained assault and explored in fascinating variety. The perfectly matched segments, if you heard them separately, would seem to be from different songs but here in tandem coalesce into an unforgettable journey. This album is another triumph for Max Cavalera and Soulfly. Highly recommended.
Totem is out now through Nuclear Blast Records. Investigate the possibilities at the links below.
It was a big night of monstrous riffs at Piere’s when Crowbar and Spirit Adrift stormed the stage, along with openers Wolftooth, Blood Of Heroes, and Lust Witch.
You know The Riff Beast Tour is well named if you have ever heard Crowbar. As the headliner and anchor of the evening, they provided the biggest, most massive guitar pronouncements. There were many incredible preludes as well when the opening acts were on the stage.
First up was Indianapolis doom band Lust Witch. This trio is working on a new EP called We All Die Alone, and you’ll be able to grab before too long. I love doom metal so this was the perfect way to start the evening as far as I was concerned. The band was already playing when I got inside the venue and I am sorry I missed part of their set because I really liked what I heard.
Danville, Illinois metal band Blood of Heroes came next. Having recently signed with Dark Star Records, they have several up-coming dates to promote their presence and get ready for more roadwork and newly recorded music. They play in a heavy metal groove lane, and put out an energetic live performance. I am looking forward to the follow-up to their debut album Symbolic Voices (AMG).
Wolftooth is from Richmond, Indiana. Their most recent album is Blood & Iron (Napalm Records), and they played several songs from that set. Their record label describes their sound as “offering a colossal slab of genuine, proto-metal influenced heaviness with a deep dose of doom essence and addictive stoner riffage to boot.” I can’t argue with that. Spirit Adrift’s lead singer described them as “corn-fed Iron Maiden,” and certainly their sound can be experienced in the Iron Maiden vein. Whenever you see them on a bill, make sure you get to that show.
I have written about Spirit Adrift regularly since I saw them for the first time at Aftershock in 2019. They are a straight-up heavy metal band with killer hooks and amazing guitar work. Lead singer and guitarist Nate Garrett has an ideal voice for their brand of music, and every time I have seen them has been an occasion. I would go to festival on the strength of them performing there alone. Spirit Adrift has a new EP coming out soon with a couple of originals and a half dozen covers – expect to hear a lot more about that album in this column when it drops.
Crowbar is an iconic sludge metal band. Fronted by the legendary Kirk Windstein, Crowbar has been putting out music for more than thirty years. Zero and Below is their newest album, and it forms the basis for the current Riff Beast Tour. When I was reviewing that record, I wrote, in part, “Windstein’s vocals blast power and energy that combine with the titanic riffs and percussion to forge an instantly recognizable and unforgettable sound.” Somehow, in all my years I had never seen Crowbar live. I don’t know how that is possible, but the situation was remedied on the last day of July in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Crowbar is out for the next few weeks with Spirit Adrift. Both bands continue after that in separate directions for dozens of dates throughout 2022. Go out and see them when they enter your orbit. It’ll be a show you talk about for months to come.
Iconic Viking metal band Amon Amarth have crafted their twelfth album, The Great Heathen Army.
Since 1992, Amon Amarth has been carrying the banner and swinging the sword for Viking metal, an heroic melodic heavy metal style that is wildly popular from sea to sea and icecap to icecap. Releasing a new album every two or three years for the past three decades has made them a reliable source of fresh music for their legions of fans. The new record has nine tales of heroism and conflict set in a savage world and told in the way only Amon Amarth can. The band is Johan Hegg (vocals), Olavi Mikkonen (guitar), Johan Söderberg (guitar), Ted Lundström (bass), and Jocke Wallgren (drums).
The battle begins with “Get in the Ring.” The song has a very ominous set-up to put you in the right frame of mind for the tenacious musical intercourse. Hegg’s gruff vocals cast their familiar spell over the abiding guitar riffs and steady percussion. It is an excellent choice for an opening song as it reminds you how much you like Amon Amarth. The title track follows, and it has a serious tone with a lithe delivery. “Heidrun” takes the baton and charges the field with a romping riff that sounds like the steady movement of a well-appointed army. A catchy chorus makes this song one that will stick in your head. “Oden Owns You All” is a much more aggressive track, with rippling percussion and forceful pattering that enhances the established style and theme.
Overall, the album delivers what the band’s fans are looking for. My favorite track is “Dawn of Norsemen” because it encapsulates the elements I like most about Amon Amarth from the story to the melody to the reliable rhythm section. You might choose a different favorite, but if you have enjoyed the previous albums from Amon Amarth, I think we will agree that the new one gets high marks. Recommended.
The Great Heathen Army is out now through Metal Blade Records in a variety of forms. Make your choices at the links below.
The debut full-length album from Dublin’s Coscradh is a menacing dark wonder.
Formed in Ireland in 2015, Coscradh is a death metal band that integrates black metal and doom elements to produce profoundly heavy music. They have released a demo and a couple of EPs over the years, and now they present their first long-player, Nahanagan Stadial.
The title of the album refers to a time in history usually called the Younger Dryas in the US. It is thought to be a time of cataclysm, with meteor impacts and coronal mass ejections from the sun causing the sudden onset of a short-lived ice age that destroyed civilizations across the globe. In Ireland, these events wreaked havoc, decimating the population and driving them off. Keep this in mind when you listen to the album, because that is what it’s about.
The set opens with the title track. It sounds like a catastrophe is underway. You can hear and feel the destruction; if you close your eyes you can see it. Guitar riffs impact you like granite slabs dropped from a great height, pulverizing your senses. The vocalizations are warnings that come too late. The lead guitar describes the rending of reality, and the grimy end to your own existence. The track is ten minutes long and there is no respite at any point.
“Feast of the Epiphany” follows and it is more actively aggressive, like an attack. You might say this track leans more in on the death metal side than doom, and ends in screaming. “Plagues of Knowth” offers a similar pace, even faster, in fact. The music breaks into chaos in the second half and your ability to reason flees as well. “Cladh Hàlainn” is a black metal upheaval, a rattling so severe its echoes might never leave your ears.
The record ends on the twelve-minute epic “Feallaire Dóite.” The mass of the doom in this song has a planetary equivalent. There are pace changes throughout, and magnitude of the musical presence remains dense. For a time, you can hear the howling wind of the ice age grow and the whispering of lost souls freezing in their places of ethereal torment. The is album is a dark destructive wonder. Recommended.
Nahanagan Stadial is out on Friday, August 5th through Invictus productions. Stream sample tracks for free and buy the album at the Bandcamp link below.
Indianapolis doom band Lust Witch was one of the opening acts for the Crowbar stop on the Riff Beast Tour at Piere’s in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I got to the show just as they were finishing their set so I was only able to get a couple of snaps. Photo galleries of the other bands and a show recap coming in the next couple days.