Terminal Nation, Holocene Extinction review (20 Buck Spin 2020)

Arkansas metal leaders Terminal Nation raise their voices to proclaim the next mass extinction is already underway.

A fairly recent entry into the heavy music arena, Terminal Nation has been releasing music since 2015. Their two EPs – Terminal Nation (2015) and Absolute Control (2017) – along with last year’s Neckbeard Deathcamp split One Party System laid the groundwork for Holocene Extinction and its thirteen slices of grievance.

The heaviness of the music does not rely on sudden bursts or blast beats for the most part. It is more on the traditional side, and even doom-edged now and then (“Expired Utopia”). The opener, “Cognitive Dissonance,” is a window into the album both thematically and musically. The guitars and drums are heavy thumps with a faster pace in the middle and the a less optimistic beginning and end. After declaring that what you see is not what you get (the title of the first song), the band drives straight into “Arsenic Earth.” It is about what it sounds like it would be about. The title track is next, and the droning inevitability of the vocals (“you cannot save the world”) and the rhythm is exactly how I imagine a mass extinction to occur – consistent misery over a long period of time. And we’re only three in – they’re just getting going.

The songs are mostly short, and the set has a punk feel to it and sometimes a punk sound. Political and firmly anti-establishment, just read through the song titles (links below) to gather up the messages. What I hear are statements about how hard it is in the world right now just to exist, and that it doesn’t have to be this way – it is being made to be this way. If you want to know what the band meant by these songs, there is a great Brooklyn Vegan article where they go track by track and tell you what was on their mind when putting it all together, and you should check that out. The music is a little smoother on this new album than the earlier EPs but it is every bit as heavy – the vocals sound great and the guitars are a spiked mace swinging at your head. The combination of the contemporaneous narrative intrigue and the metal/punk attitude sets this album apart from the others in the crowd.

Out now on 20 Buck Spin and buyable at Bandcamp, Holocene Extinction is 36 minutes of reality checks laid bare and wrought in metal. Recommended.

Band photo by Kurt Lunsford.

Links.

https://terminalnationhc.bandcamp.com

http://www.20buckspin.com

Brooklyn Vegan article, https://www.brooklynvegan.com/terminal-nation-discuss-every-track-on-their-killer-new-album-which-is-streaming/

Terminal Nation, Holocene Extinction review (20 Buck Spin 2020)

Bedsore, Hypnagogic Hallucinations review (20 Buck Spin 2020)

The debut album from Bedsore, Hypnagogic Hallucinations, will warp your ideas about reality and Death Metal predispositions.

The start with, the band explains its name on Facebook by giving a definition of the word and indicating that choosing it follows in the tradition of bands like Autopsy and Carcass. More interestingly, the explanation goes on … “At the same time, ‘Bedsore’, read as ‘suffering of the bed’ also has a more veiled meaning. In this sense, the crib is the gate that ferry the human being into a universe dominated by its unconscious fears, dream-like visions, aberrant figures and grotesque manifestations, which are capable to leading the individual to total destruction, rotting the flesh and eroding the mind.” That last part gives you the best idea of where the band is coming from.

And to make sure I knew what “hypnagogic” meant, I looked it up – relating to the state immediately before falling asleep. We all know what that space is like, don’t we; that crazy half asleep / half wake world and the mad images that live there. If you combine the explanation of the name of the band with the meaning of the name of the album, you will be in the right frame of mind to experience the first full-length release from the Rome-based Death Metal band Bedsore.

The musicians are Jacopo Gianmaria Pepe (vocals, guitars, synthesizers), Stefano Allegretti (vocals, guitars, organ, other keyboards), Giulio Rimoli (bass), and Davide Itri (drums). They published a demo only two years ago, so they are just getting going as a band. The new release sounds like the work of seasoned veterans with its solid musical structure and it also has the creativity and spark of fresh minds at work on new ideas.

There are seven songs. Three fairly short pieces start the set, followed by four longer compositions. The first thing you hear is an eerie keyboard spell that rises for a second into a jazzy layer before the guitars begin push through and the power gets cranked up. The opener, “The Gate,” is presented in two parts, and it is a reconnoitering of the landscape. The first long song takes its title from H. P. Lovecraft, “At The Mountains of Madness.” Apropos. This track can be seen as an embodiment of the entire set in that it has all the elements that are so important to the whole: sorrowful, mournful keyboard passages, avalanche guitar riffs, vocals that convey an entombed mental torture, and lead guitar work that lays bare the toll of the life and time. “Cauliflower Growth” is next and has a more urgent and aggressive overall tone to it (and a guest appearance by Giorgio Trombino). “Disembowelment of the Souls” begins with an epic scale and ultimately transforms into a dirge in the final moments while the closer, “Brains On The Tarmac” is a lilting hallucination at the front and ultimately ends symphonically. If you listen to the entire program in order (turn the shuffle OFF), the effect is mesmerizing. This album is definitely one of the most memorable of the year so far. Highly recommended.

Hypnagogic Hallucinations drops in July 24. You can get it in many different forms from 20 Buck Spin and through Bandcamp.

Band photo by Void Revelations.

Links.

https://bedsoredeath.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/bedsoredeath

http://www.20buckspin.com

http://www.facebook.com/20buckspin

Bedsore, Hypnagogic Hallucinations review (20 Buck Spin 2020)

Skeleton, Skeleton review (20 Buck Spin 2020)

Loud and clanging, Skeleton’s their first album is gruff metal music with a punk attitude and a flare for the menacing.

This band from Austin, Texas is populated by David Skeleton (guitar), Victor Skeleton (drums and vocals), Cody Combs (bass), and Alex Guzman (guitar). I first listened to this set on a mountain in the Rockies and it fit right in with the granite surroundings. It is hard crushing metal in one hand and a slicing knife in the other.

The songs are short, typically under three minutes, and they are catchy in a ruinous sort of way. Every song is fast and battering with a transparent intention to bludgeon. From “Mark of Death” to “Toad” to “Taste of Blood” and particularly on the eponymous track, there is violence and damage in the vocals and all the other instruments, a general invitation to malefaction. Even in the transitional element “Victory,” which has a slow tempo, there is an insistent echoing threat that matches it perfectly with the rest of the album.

The exception to the short song rule is “Catacombs,” the closer, which clips along for coming up on five minutes. It winds its way around you, easing into your psyche with a quiet start. One minute in, you are hit by a barrage of machine gun fire guitars, followed by laments of the suffering damned. This song wraps it up, but the entire album is filled with foreboding and woe, and feels at times like the musical instantiation of a twisting knife. Absolutely drenched in the personified dark, it is the kind of haunt you want to have. Recommended.

Skeleton is out July 10 from 20 Buck Spin on CD, vinyl, and cassette. It will be streaming and downloadable too, of course, and you catch those versions at Bandcamp, amongst other places.

Band photo by Nark Garcia.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/Skeleton-1425382974369527

http://www.skeletonatx.bandcamp.com

http://www.20buckspin.com

http://www.facebook.com/20buckspin

Skeleton, Skeleton review (20 Buck Spin 2020)

Ulthar, Providence review (20 Buck Spin, 2020)

Oakland’s own Ulthar release their second album, the Lovecraftian enterprise Providence, and by doing so demonstrate their commitment to shattering your nerves.

Ulthar is a trio peopled by Shelby Lermo, Steve Peacock, and Justin Ennis; guitar, bass, and drums. The name of the band is a reference to some of the writing of H. P. Lovecraft, and you can easily imagine this music being created along the mythical Miskatonic River in a cellar off the beaten path in the dodgy part of Arkham. The Great Old Ones would definitely approve.

The band’s first album, Cosmovore, was released in 2018 and established a viable energy and engaged aggression that was legitimate and intense. This new album is even harsher than the first one, less melodious. It is more overall along the lines of “Entropy-Atrophy” from Cosmovore than, say, “Dunwich Whore” from that same album, which had significant doom metal elements to it, especially up front and at the end. There is more chaos in Providence, more mayhem and musical violence. There is still the occasional thundering doom pause here and there, but the black and death metal characteristics are fully brilliant throughout.

“Churn” opens the album with a two minute punch in the throat. It reminds me of “Denial of Life” from Death’s Scream Bloody Gore for its ferocity, but the vocals on “Churn” are harsher. This short song is a Welcome To Providence announcement, an invitation, a menu, maybe, of what lies ahead. Let’s see, what are some highlights: “Undying Spear,” “Through Downward Dynasties,” and “Cudgel.” As you listen your way through the shattering musical landscape Ulthar has created, the message of suffering is increasingly clear. By the time you take the last two steps, “Narcissus Drowning” and “Humanoid Knot,” there is no apparatus of denial left to grasp. The music is intriguing, engaging, and punishing all at once. With two superior albums in a row, I have growing admiration for this band. Recommended.

20 Buck Spin has many formats of Providence available, and you can also get a download at Bandcamp.

Band photo by Melissa Petisa.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/Ulthar-386850314846106/

http://ulthar666.bandcamp.com

http://www.20buckspin.com

Ulthar, Providence review (20 Buck Spin, 2020)