Haunter, Discarnate Ails (Profound Lore 2022)

Texas death metal band Haunter pull out the stops on their new album, Discarnate Ails.

Centered in Austin, Haunter came together in 2013. The music they make is a fusion of black and death metal elevated by progressive percolations. Combining subgenres is not new, of course, but the level of success achieved depends on the way the mixing is done. Haunter always gets it right, and they are top-of-the-line experts if their last record, Sacramental Death Qualia (2019), is any measure. There is an arc to the band’s career that, given Discarnate Ails, appears to be heading upward. Listed musicians on the new album are Bradley Tiffin (vocals, guitar), Enrique Bonilla (guitar), and Cole Tucker (bass).

There are three long tracks on the album. “Overgrown With The Moss” opens the set with gentle discovery. It is as if you are wandering through a forest that slowly turns darkly magical as you pass through it. You notice a raised placed in the earth. You go over to investigate and, brushing aside the overgrowth, you unleash something unimaginable. The black metal is there, and the wonder of progressive ingenuity is too – that is what supports the ten-minute-plus running time and maintains your interest through all the valleys and crypts and plains.

“Spiritual Illness” clangs out brusquely, and has the feeling of an attack. “Chained At The Helm Of The Eschaton,” on the other hand, is filled with mystery and wonder in its opening melody and has a resonating cooldown that is beautiful to hear. All three tracks have their own unique postures and progressions, and they all are mesmerizing. Recommended.

Discarnate Ails is out on Friday, May 6th through Profound Lore Records. Take note also that Haunter is scheduled to perform at Fire In The Mountains this year, a unique music festival held at the Heart Six Ranch in the Tetons. If you can get there, definitely do it because it will be an experience like no other. Links to the record and the festival appear below.

Band photo by Oscar Moreno.

Links.

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

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

Profound Lore Records, https://profoundlorerecords.com/

Fire In The Mountains Festival, https://fitmfest.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Haunter, Discarnate Ails (Profound Lore 2022)

Motor Sister, Get Off (Metal Blade 2022)

Motor Sister is back with a dozen original tracks on the band’s second album, Get Off.

If you haven’t heard who Motor Sister is yet, this line-up will be an eye-opener: Jim Wilson (vocals, guitar), Scott Ian (guitar), Pearl Aday (vocals), Joey Vera (bass), and John Tempesta (drums). Name those bands! Originally formed as a tribute band playing a special set of Mother Superior music, they released an album of just such covers in 2015 called Ride. The band sometimes calls the music they play “no bullshit hard rock and roll” and that label does indeed fit. The new album follows this course with twelve original tracks and one cover to put a bow on it.

Most of the songs are up-tempo rushes that will flush your face with nostalgia. Witness the opener, “Can’t Get High Enough.” That one goes right along with the cover art, doesn’t it? Charging guitar, great hooks, and the incredible pairing of two fantastic rock voices is a recipe for success. You can tear another one of those off for me any time and I will be ready to listen to it. “Coming For You” follows hot on its heels, and it is a blood boiling fever maker. There is speed and energy here, more than enough to go around; enough to spare.

There is a ballad on the album, “Sooner Or Later,” in the frame hard rock bands used to make them in. And there is an introspective song, “Pain.” Slower pieces are more than balanced with ragers, like “Excuse Me, Your Life Is Exposed” and “Bulletproof.” And anyway, who wants an album that sounds all the same. There is a compelling variety of compositions on the record, all of it sounding like an unearthed treasure trove of music you have never heard before that fits like a glove. The only question I have is: When does the tour start? Recommended.

You can get your hands on Get Off starting Friday, May 6th from Metal Blade Records. Examine your options at the links below.

Links.

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

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

Metal Blade Records, https://metalblade.com/motorsister/

© Wayne Edwards

Motor Sister, Get Off (Metal Blade 2022)

Paddy and the Rats, From Wasteland To Wonderland (Napalm Records 2022)

Pirate polka punks Paddy and the Rats hit the high seas again for new adventures on From Wasteland To Wonderland.

Formed around 2008 in Hungary, Paddy and the Rats plays a type of polka punk you might expect to hear from Irish exile bands, with a specific and deliberate focus on a shanty vibe. The band is big, and it needs to be with all the instruments deployed: Paddy O’Reilly (vocals, guitar), Sam McKenzie (fiddle, bagpipe, banjo, whistles), Bernie Bellamy (accordion), Joey MacOnkay (guitar), Vince Murphy (bass), and Seamus Conelly (drums). From Wasteland To Wonderland is the band’s sixth full-length album, and it is the crest of the wave.

There are thirteen rousing tunes on the new record, appropriately beginning with “Wasteland” and ending with “Wonderland.” The opener is up-tempo and peppily scored with catchy refrains and a sing along chorus. The music is guitar driven, but there is so much more going on you can lose track of that aspect, and if you do it is because the rest is so enchanting. “Ship Will Sail” comes next in the set, and, if anything, it is more on brand than the first song. Truly, when I think of Paddy and the Rats, this is this song that will pop in my head first.

“After The Rain” and “Everybody Get Up” were released earlier as singles, and “Party Like a Pirate” was the lead at the street date for the album. The entire album is very much party music so that fits right in. There are a few slower songs, but mostly these are ale-pounding anthems. If you want to get in a good mood or if you are already in a good mood and you want to keep it rolling, this is the album for you. Recommended.

From Wasteland To Wonderland is out now through Napalm Records.

Links.

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

Website, https://www.paddyandtherats.hu/

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

Napalm Records, https://label.napalmrecords.com/paddy-and-the-rats/

© Wayne Edwards

Paddy and the Rats, From Wasteland To Wonderland (Napalm Records 2022)

Brkn Love at The Vogue, April 30th

Brkn Love wrapped up their current tour this past weekend, including the penultimate stop at The Vogue in Indianapolis.

Brkn Love (฿ Ɽ ₭ ₦ ⱠØVɆ) has been on the road for the past few weeks supporting Badflower on an arc of shows that traversed a winding path, leading finally to the toe-stub stop in Broad Ripple on Saturday night. While lightning flared outside, Justin Benlolo and the band threw down their music with accustomed gusto to the swelling crowd.

My first time seeing Brkn Love was a couple years back at Aftershock in Sacramento. I was impressed by performance and the sound they put together. The music they play is hard-edged rock that sometimes gets labeled alternative. To me there is a classic vibe in it, updated and extended through the eccentricities and urgencies of the composers.

The tour has ended for now, so here are a few pictures to help remember the show at The Vogue. The follow-up to the band’s self-titled 2020 debut album can’t be too far away, and when it arrives it will be big news. Until then, stream the current single “Like A Drug” and think back to the last time you heard them play live.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

BRKN Love, https://www.brknlove.com/

Spinefarm Records, https://spinefarm.merchnow.com/catalogs/brkn-love

The Vogue, https://thevogue.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Brkn Love at The Vogue, April 30th

Watain, The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Notorious black metal band Watain release their seventh studio album on an unsuspecting world, The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain.

It has been almost twenty-five years that Watain has stalked the earth now. This black metal band from Sweden has a reputation like no other, building loyal fans from all over the world by creating unique dark music with no compromises. Their first full-length album, Rabid Death’s Curse (2000), was a sign to anyone who wanted to read it, and the promises made then are fulfilled with every new set.

Anyone who has seen Watain live surely has a story about the experience. It is a journey bathed in darkness. The band has found a way to capture the live experience more essentially than ever before with the new album, which was itself recorded live in the studio, where founding members Erik Danielsson, Håkan Jonsson, and Pelle Forsberg, were joined by Alvaro Lillo, Hampus Eriksson, and Emil Forcas.

“Ecstasies In Night Infinite” breaks through the veil first with an unrelenting, monstrous assault. The combination of the roaring speed with cascading riffs overlaid by a black lace of cogent lyrical hooks is a structure that stands up to the many twists and turns presented. The vocals are coarse and intimately discernable; the lead breaks are savage and crackling. Watain stands alone in the way they combine dark, heavy elements into music that is approachable in the groove and complex on every individual layer as well as in the spaces between them. Just listen and you will hear it in every song.

“The Howling” is next, and it offers us more of everything from other angles we hadn’t contemplated before. The groove is seductive and black metal is razor sharp. “Serimosa” shows a down-shifted tempo perspective with theatrical balancing, further demonstrating the variety and complexity of the music Watain presents on this album. “Leper’s Grace” is another example of the unexpected in rhythm and pace – it is one of my favorites from the set as it left me tipsy by the halfway mark.

“Before The Cataclysm” is especially eerie, and that is saying something in the context of this music. Here again, it is the fascinating combination of elements that are themselves individually stunning and somehow, in their amalgamation, rise to another place altogether. “Septentrion” brings the curtain down in a grand fashion, hearkening to the mystery and wonder of the spaces in the cold dark north. It is an enduring culmination.

This music is not meant for the weak of heart or mind. The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain is out through Nuclear Blast Records on Friday, April 29th. Recommended.

Live photos by Wayne Edwards, Webster Theater, Hartford, 2019.

Links.

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

Bandcamp, https://watainsom.bandcamp.com/album/the-agony-ecstasy-of-watain

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

Nuclear Blast Records, https://www.nuclearblast.com/eu/band/watain

© Wayne Edwards

Watain, The Agony & Ecstasy of Watain (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Cognitive and Hath at the E Street Pub, April 26th

There was a Midwest metalfest this week at the E Street Pub when Cognitive and Hath showed up.

Cognitive

Hath and Cognitive, both death metal bands from New Jersey, are on tour for a few weeks, hitting venues from New York to Chicago to Atlanta. On Tuesday night, they rattled the brick walls of the E Street Pub in Richmond, Indiana.

Hath went up first. They released a new album in March, All That Was Promised (Willowtip Records), and they are on the road carrying those new songs to the waiting world.

Hath
Hath
Hath

Cognitive has been laying down the metal for more than a decade. Their catalogue boasts four fierce long-players, including the newest, 2021’s Malevolent Thoughts of a Hastened Extinction (Unique Leader Records). In the past few months, Cognitive announced they have signed with Metal Blade Records, and I bet that means a new album is not far off.

Cognitive
Cognitive
Cognitive

Check out the links below for music and merchandise. Cognitive is on the road right now with Hath and Inoculation through May 8th. See the tour poster for cities and dates.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Cognitive, https://www.indiemerchstore.com/collections/cognitive

Hath, https://hathnj.bandcamp.com/album/all-that-was-promised

E Street Pub, https://www.facebook.com/estreetpub

Unique Leader Records, https://uniqueleader.indiemerch.com//collections/cognitive

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/us/news/metal-blade-records-welcomes-cognitive/

Willowtip Records, https://willowtip.bandcamp.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Cognitive and Hath at the E Street Pub, April 26th

Nazareth, Surviving The Law (Frontiers Records 2022)

Legendary hard rock band Nazareth release their 25th studio album, Surviving The Law.

I could go on and on about Nazareth, but I have done that before in this very blog so I’ll try to keep it short this time. They are icons in the heavy music world, best known for the timeless album Hair Of The Dog (1975), they had many big albums and a few radio hits as well, like “Holiday” from Malice In Wonderland (1980). They played hard rock in the earliest days, and maintained a hard edge throughout even as the music lightened up a few notches and went through phases and evolutions. I have a physical copy of every album they ever released and, while of course I have favorites, I still pull from the entire canon when I want to hear Nazareth music.

When I started listening to them in the 1970s, the band was Dan McCafferty (vocals), Manny Charlton (guitar), Pete Agnew (bass), and Darrell Sweet (drums). Over the years the line-up changed of course, and now Pete Agnew is the only founding member still in the band. Agnew is joined by Carl Sentance (vocals), Jimmy Murrison (guitar), and Lee Agnew (drums) on the new album.

First up in the fourteen-track set is “Strange Days.” It has a gritty sound and grungy guitar line that is complemented by the ever listenable vocals of Sentance. It is a heavy song and great opener. “You Gotta Pass It Around” follows on a slower heel with a soulful lilt. “Runaway” hit me like a song from Loud ‘N’ Proud, and that is a good thing. Peppy and ever on the chase, this one is a great radio song.

“Sweet Kiss” is a great bluesy song that hooks you early and keeps you in its clutches. “Sinner” is a fast-moving rocking number that does remind you a little of Judas Priest (but not that song), and “Psycho Skies” has a feel to it that makes you want to hear it live. While the last song, “You Made Me,” is a slow one, ballads are avoided on this album. I was pleased by the pace, and there are many great cuts throughout.

I wondered before I sat down to listen to this album whether it would sound like Nazareth to me. I have gotten over Dan McCaffrey’s retirement and that was a tough for us long-time fans because his voice is iconic. No one else sounds like him. Once that idea is inculcated, you can hear Nazareth in the music. Long lived bands almost always change over time. We can, each of us, either accept that truth or not.

I don’t know how many more Nazareth albums there will be, but I can tell you this – Surviving The Law is a good one. Recommended.

Surviving The Law is out now through Frontiers Records on CD, vinyl, cassette, and digital.

Links.

Website, https://www.nazarethdirect.co.uk/website/

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

Frontiers Records, https://www.frontiers.shop/nazareth/

© Wayne Edwards

Nazareth, Surviving The Law (Frontiers Records 2022)

Slowtorch, The Machine Has Failed (Electric Valley Records 2022)

Italian stoner metal band Slowtorch have a new record out this week, The Machine Has Failed.

Slowtorch came together around 2005. They rolled out at a measured pace, releasing a series of EPs leading up to their debut long-player, Serpente (2014). The new album is their first since then, so fans have been waiting awhile. The style of music they play is a kind of heavy stoner, groove-driven affair that has a lot of crossover appeal. The band is Fabio Sforza (drums), Matteo Meloni (vocals), Bruno Bassi (guitars), and Karl Sandner (bass).

The album starts out on a heavy groove with “Hammerhead.” The hook alternates with a bob while Meloni’s voice floats around it all. The shifts sometimes have a GZR feel to them, and I do see where the Clutch comparison might come in. It is a high-energy pop with a heavy riff. “Book Of The Dead” has a darker, slower, heavier weight to sling around, and that makes a lot of sense given the title. Singable repeaters predict this one will be a fan favorite. “Man Vs. Man” comes on and I am thinking this party might never slow down. This track has the first dedicated lead guitar work, too.

“Behold” has melodic moments and the most concentrated doom delivery on the album. “Kraken” brings the big monster energy, and “Sever The Hand” takes the tone toward noir with a hectic chop. “Charger,” then, is a big power push and a relentless riff that will grind you right off the cliff. The title track raises the tension to set up the closer, “World Behind My Eyes.” This final song has an attractive clomp to it – the kind of thing that has enormous jam potential and could be expanded live to go on for ten minutes it the band wanted it to. This is great outdoor festival music. Recommended.

Electric Valley Records has the vinyl, along with digital, out on Friday, April 29th. Pick up your favorite variant while you still can.

Links.

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

Bandcamp, https://slowtorch.bandcamp.com/album/the-machine-has-failed

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

Electric Valley Records, https://www.electricvalleyrecords.com/products

© Wayne Edwards

Slowtorch, The Machine Has Failed (Electric Valley Records 2022)

Grimtone, Polaris (Void Wanderer 2022)

Darkness convenes on the new Grimtone album, Polaris.

With origins marked in 2015, Sweden’s black metal maelstrom Grimtone plies a regimen of oblique, inky metal. The band is Michael Lang, who broke out of the gates in a flurry of recording, with three full-length albums between 2017 and 2019: Memento Mori, Morte in Vitam, and Hymner till döden. Just last year Grimtone appeared on the five-way split Mourning in Autumn and also released an EP, The Awakening. And now there is Polaris – he must have a lot to say. After all, it is not just Grimtone, is it? There is also Arsonists of Lucifer, Dommedag, etc. Prolificity by thy name.

The standard is set by the first track, “Creed Of Hate.” A rapid, raking riff sets up a steady percussive entry and the gloomy, distanced vocals. It is a murky affair, with a solid hook. The order is more apparent here than the chaos in this black metal statement. “Streams Of Polaris” waken slumbering denizens with a callous affront that is curiously salved in the coming bars, creating a salubrious avenue for mental ingestion. It is a surprising choice that works exceptionally well.

There is no pivot to look out for as the music flows over you. Certainly there is variation and there are angular takes, as in the elegance of the opening of “Burning The Rye” and the furtive ending to “Calls Of The Bells.” Even with these textures in the landscape, the dedication to evoked principles never wanes. My favorite track is perhaps “Haunt The Realm” as it makes me feel chased and at risk, but every track has a culminating insight. This my first experience with Grimtone, and I am impressed. Recommended.

Polaris is out now. Void Wanderer Productions has the cassette (limited to 50) and digital. War Productions has a CD version (limited to 100).

Links.

Bandcamp, https://voidwandererproductions.bandcamp.com/album/polaris

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

Void Wanderer Productions, https://voidwanderer.com/product/grimtone-polaris-mc/

War Productions, https://war-productions.org/warproductions/

© Wayne Edwards

Grimtone, Polaris (Void Wanderer 2022)

Cancer Bats, Psychic Jailbreak (New Damage Records 2022)

Canadian hardcore band Cancer Bats continue a winning streak with their seventh studio album, Psychic Jailbreak.

One of the great things about the Heavy Montreal festival is, coming from the states, you get to see a lot of bands that don’t always play at the US festivals. I saw Cancer Bats there for the first time in 2019 (I put a couple photos from that show at the bottom of the article). They were fantastic, and I have had an eye out for them ever since. As a result, I was pretty excited when I heard they had a new album on the way.

The band had a steady line-up of Jaye Schwarzer, Liam Cormier, Mike Peters, and Scott Middleton for more than a decade. Just last year, Middleton exited the band and the remaining three have continued on. Over the years they have released six previous studio albums, the most recent being 2018’s The Spark That Moves. Cancer Bats’ music is almost always labeled hardcore, and that fits. You will find as you listen all manners and shades – fast, slow, heavy, light, and dark. There is a corridor in their music for all types of heavy music fan.

The new album has eleven churning tracks, cracking the egg on “Radiate.” It is a stomper, driving the idea into your head with delectable repetition and a short pointed lead break toward the end. Do your stretches before this one because it will get you going. “The Hoof” follows and ramps the tempo up even higher. This is an early keeper. I love the driving force of it and the plunging inertia it creates.

“Lonely Bong” has a lot of plays on Spotify, as does the title track. The bong song is a trooper and a metric ton of fun to bounce around with. “Psychic Jailbreak” has a more serious tone to it, and more apparent aggression in the riffs and vocalizations. It is a menacing creeper toward the finish and definitely memorable – just the kind of song you want to go out on.

Other stand-outs for me are “Hammering On,” which is a laid back number with a big pounce to go along with the impressive vocals, and “Shadow Of Mercury” because of its straight-head clobbering approach to musical construction. “Pressure Mind” and “Rolling Threes” is a tasty pairing, too. They are the kind of songs you want to hear in the second half that keep the pace, energy, and inventiveness hitting hard as you roll toward the finish. This new Cancer Bats album delivers the goods. Recommended.

Psychic Jailbreak is out now through New Damage Records. Check out the links below.

Band photo by Sid Tang.

Links.

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

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

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

New Damage Records, http://newdamagerecords.com/

Live photos by Wayne Edwards from Heavy Montreal in 2019.

© Wayne Edwards

Cancer Bats, Psychic Jailbreak (New Damage Records 2022)