Socioclast, Socioclast (Carbonized Records 2021)

The first album from California metal trio Socioclast is a ferocious declaration of intent to rattle the cages of the status quo.

The musicians that form Socioclast walk on from bands like Mortuous, Altars, and In Disgust, and they are Colin Tarvin (bass, vocals), Matt Gomes (guitar), Cris Rodriguez (drums). With a home base of San Jose and a musical ethic of grindcore, the band has an energetic pathology. It should be fairly obvious from the name they have chosen that they have a lot to say about society, mostly not complimentary. The music, then, is tuned to the outrage of their observations and constructed for maximal impact.

There are sixteen songs on the new self-titled album, all but one less than two minutes long and almost half clocking less than sixty seconds. Blast beats abound. As does the irrepressible voice of Tarvin which I had already come to admire from his previous work. Not a lot of slow songs here, but there is the occasional doom moment, as in the way “Terminal Regress” begins, for example. Mainly you can expect a blistering pace and bursts of chaos.

The whole album is great, and I do have a couple of favorites. “Eden’s Tongue,” in particular – I love the Black Metal sinews and the arching back in the middle. The co-curricular vocals in “Convention Of Ruin” gave me a similar rush. “Surrogate Will” wins the prize for making me dizziest. “Concrete and Steel” is the long track at the end, running 2:48. It has a melancholy opening refrain that stuck with me even after the churning heat of the rest of the song. It is a good capstone to the set. I am onboard. Recommended.

Socioclast is out tomorrow in many and varied forms from Carbonized Records.

Band photo by Anna Gomes.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://carbonizedrecords.bandcamp.com/album/socioclast

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

Carbonized Records, https://carbonized-records.myshopify.com/

Socioclast, Socioclast (Carbonized Records 2021)

Maudiir, La Part du Diable (2021)

Black Metal one man band Maudiir is out with a new EP filled with sinister menacing.

Following up on last year’s release Le Temps Peste, the new set continues the sentiment and drives the dark spike further, leaning in on speed and prog to unveil a broader musical spectrum. Maudiir is comprised entirely of a single musician, F, or Frédéric Bergeron, according to the Metal Archives. Everything you hear on the album is him.

There are five songs, beginning with “Fracture,” which has a head fake up front followed by walloping riffs. The vocals are very much Black Metal in style, with the slider moved toward the middle. And there is a tasty lead guitar passage, too, putting a ribbon on the song. More up-beat and catchy than your typical music in this vein, Maudiir is creating a unique space for the musical brew he stirs up.

“The Slumber” is next, and while it has high concept guitar layers to it, the track does not give up on the melody. The complexity starts to deepen. “The Fortunate Few” has a more death-metal-like opening but rolls quickly  into a rollick then shifts toward prog. “Spirit Of Sulfur” is frantic at every turn, while the closer, “The Crowning Hour,” settles back into the blue collar riff and pushes in Mercyful Fate / King Diamond style storytelling and musical theatrics. A lot of ground is covered on this EP, and it is an excellent continuation and escalation of the groundwork in last year’s album. Recommended.

La Part du Diable drops on Friday, February 19th and the Bandcamp link below is the place to get it.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Maudiir-100174698189554/

Maudiir, La Part du Diable (2021)

Muka, Patologija Poniznosti (No Profit Recordings 2021)

Croatian metal band Muka release their third EP for another round of crushing despair.

Formed in Zagreb in 2012, the band is peopled by Ivan Borčić (vocals), Edin Karabašić (guitar), Goran Tatalović (guitar), Stjepan Dianić (bass), and Marin Lelas (drums). Their first album was Svi šute (2014), followed in 2017 by Sveta stoka. The feeling you get when listening to the latest release is that the symptomology continues as before while the execution of the sound has solidified through evolving compositional refinements. Or, more plainly, the praxis is catching up to the theory more and more with each new album.

There are five tracks on Patologija Poniznosti (The Pathology of Humility). The vocals take a moderate death metal posture for the most part, with menacing black metal layers occasionally possessing the spirit of the natural expression. The tempo of songs is variable, with simmering slow, doom-laden moments and recurring eruptions of speed and noise.

The commitment to the form the band has created is admiral. Every song has its own concepts and deliveries, yet they all exist in the maelstrom of the musical environment defined by the constructed ethos of the band’s collective. For example, the straight forward walking riff that pops up in the early middle of the second track seems on the surface to be quite ordinary, but its placement (and existence) is essential in the song, just like the short, naked bass line a minute and a half later in the same piece – it is not repeated, that bass line, not that way by itself elsewhere in the song, but without it there would be a completely different beast to contend with. There is a lot to hear here, so take you time with it. Recommended.

Patologija Poniznosti is available now at the Bandcamp link below. There will be a limited vinyl edition in March as well and it will have a bonus live track, so if you like this music, circle back.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://muka.bandcamp.com/album/patologija-poniznosti

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

Pre-order vinyl, https://noprofitrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/patologija-poniznosti

Muka, Patologija Poniznosti (No Profit Recordings 2021)

Slaves To Fashion, The History Of Heavy Metal (2021)

Slaves to Fashion celebrates metal with a history lesson that will make you want to bang your head.

The band from Haugesund, Norway started out nearly twenty years ago as P:O:B. After a few lineup shuffles, they changed their name to Slaves To Fashion, releasing an EP in 2009 and then a long-player in 2011, Artistic Differences. They were playing a version of prog metal then, expressing their art through precision. The principals on the current album are Johannes Støle (vocals), Torfinn Sirnes (guitar), John Lind (bass), Vidar Ingvaldsen (drums), and Stein Arild Grønås (guitar).

The idea behind The History Of Heavy Metal is to celebrate heavy metal in all its guises. Each song therefore focuses on a specific period in the evolution and spread of metal, branching out along the lineage in sometime surprising ways. Which subgenres exactly? Have a look at the cool chart developed by the band inserted at the end of this review. There are a lot of different flavors of heavy music.

There are ten tracks on the album, ranging from the radio-friendly three minutes of “The NU Wine” to the epic thirteen minute rapture of “The Evergrowing Tree.” This is not a goof – in every case the music is rock solid and a genuine respectful homage to the type, with a number of playful references thrown in the lyrics that fans will spot immediately. I don’t have a favorite because they are all good but I do have a strong affection for that big 13-minute track as it is a showcase of just about everything, and the opener, “1970,” is a loving tribute to the early days and it hits home with me. Without fail, there is something here for every metal fan. Recommended.

The official release date for the CD and digital versions is Saturday, February 13th. Hit the Bandcamp link below. There will also be a special edition vinyl version later in the year that will include three bonus tracks.

Band photo by Stones Photography.

Flowchart from the band’s Facebook page.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://slavestofashion.bandcamp.com/album/the-history-of-heavy-metal

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

Website, https://www.slavestofashion.net/

Slaves To Fashion, The History Of Heavy Metal (2021)

Warzaw, Werewolves On Wheels (2021)

The Trøndelag, Norway four piece throw-back metal band Warzaw rips a new one out.

There are/have been a number of bands and albums with the title “Werewolves On Wheels” running around out there over the years. This one is from Norway and is made up of Daniel Rønning (vocals), Håvard Alvarez (guitar), Trond Jullumstrø (guitar and bass), and Mats Sødahl (drums). The stated goal of these seasoned professionals is to “make energetic, riff-packed music reminiscent of the glory days of 80s heavy metal.” I am down with that.

Werewolves On Wheels has eleven songs with tongue-in-cheek themes and good-time metal riffs and melodies. The title tracks starts things off with a high-voltage up-tempo riff and a howl of party energy. A great lead shred lands just past the middle, where it belongs, and is followed up with an immediate second one. Bonus. “The Second Banana” comes next, picking up the flag and waving it at the other side of the stadium. It puts me in mind of Alcatrazz a little, maybe a little bit of Blue Murder (but less serious). What they are doing is what they said they wanted to do – lay down some great catchy riffs in the same vein as all those 80s bands, many of which we’ve lost to our degraded memories. Every song on the album is a new crack and they are all razor sharp.

I really like this album. Keep in mind that the style is just the starting point – they still have to write and perform the music. While the themes Warzaw is working with here are meant to be on the light side, the music rides on iron rails. The riffs and rhythms are creative and the playing is impeccable. Rønning’s voice would have worked back them and it is perfect now for this new metal. Count me in. Recommended.

Werewolves On Wheels is out now and available on Spotify. I am not sure if there is any way to actually buy this or not, but you can certainly stream it for free. I have added the YouTube link below as well so you can check out the videos.

Links.

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

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZxg45Ijq7UkZQ-37lc0jxQ

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/album/6uaM8PL3elIV86lz9x1bmS?si=qZlCm3tMRtiK0ugVHP288A

Warzaw, Werewolves On Wheels (2021)

Sacred Reich, 3 Re-Issues (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Metal Blade is re-issuing three classic Sacred Reich albums: Ignorance, Surf Nicaragua, and The American Way on February 12th.

If you are a thrash fan you know about Sacred Reich because they are one of the leading bands in the second wave of thrash back in the late 80s / early 90s. They are less well remembered compared to, say, Testament, mainly because they broke up for several years around the turn of the century and therefore there is a gap in their catalogue. The band came roaring back in 2019 with the studio album Awakening, which was very well received. That album was a bittersweet return to prominence following, as it did, the shocking death of founding guitarist Jason Rainey.

The three reissued albums are the band’s first full length studio record, Ignorance (originally 1987), the follow-up EP, Surf Nicaragua (originally 1988), and the next full-length, The American Way (originally 1990). These reissues all sound great, and fans are going to be thrilled to have newly minted products to set alongside their well-worn artifacts. If you are new to the band, these are the albums to start with in order to experience the majesty of the music from these incredible metal musicians. You will hear thrash just as sharp as any of their contemporaries, played with meticulous precision and set around themes that vary from social commentary to the absurd.

You can preorder these albums today – the drop date is Friday, February 12th. There are many variants in the vinyl to go along with the CD option. All the details are at the info link below. Recommended.

Links.

All the info: https://www.metalblade.com/us/news/sacred-reich-ignorance-surf-nicaragua-and-the-american-way-cd-and-lp-re-issues-now-available/

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

Sacred Reich, 3 Re-Issues (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Appalooza, The Holy of Holies (Ripple Music 2021)

French heavy stoner trio Appalooza tell stories of distress and decline in their latest long-player.

The band formed only a couple years ago in Brest, France, issuing their first album (self-titled) in 2018. That album has a grungy pulse to it, deterministically joining the informal revival of that bygone time. With many desert-scented colors whirled into the song writing, the album is very listenable.

The new music has a crisper presence. It is not as murky in the mix and has generally sharper edges. There is still strong, sometimes overpowering, grunge reflection throughout, and the desert feel runs deeper this time. According to the Bandcamp page, the band is Sylvain (vocals and guitar), Vincent (drum), and Tony (bass), with additional mystery contributions.

The first song on the album is “Storm,” and it has a muted opening after an initial distant ethereal vocal. I am repeating myself in my head, so let me lay it down here: this is a grunge album. The ghost of Layne Staley can be heard clearly in “Reincarnation,” perhaps the most direct Alice In Chains homage, although there are many. Nearly every track, in fact. The band does tell you this in the descriptive material on their social media pages, mentioning AIC specifically as an enduring influence. They mean it.

Looking back from the end of the set, there is more here than a retreading of popular 1990s genre music. Traditional music influences from the Mediterranean (and Middle East) add depth to the pressing guitars, and the song structures, especially on the second half of the album, stretch out to test and expand the borders of the band’s compositional universe. Living in their own space and telling their own stories, Appalooza brings a new perspective forward in the cloak of the venerable past. Recommended.

The Holy of Holies is out now. CDs, vinyl, and downloads can all be snapped up at Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://appalooza.bandcamp.com/album/the-holy-of-holies

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Appalooza.OfficialPage/

Ripple Music, https://www.ripple-music.com/

Appalooza, The Holy of Holies (Ripple Music 2021)

Clouds Taste Satanic, The Satanic Singles Vol. 4 (Kinda Like Music 2021)

Clouds Taste Satanic releases Volume 4 in The Satanic Singles project, the final installment.

To recap [for the last time]…This New York instrumental metal band is peopled by these fine persons: Steve Scavuzzo (guitar), Rob Halstead (bass), Greg Acampora (drums), and Brian Bauhs (guitar). For years on end they have been producing their unique brand of vocal-free doom (and doom-adjacent) heavy music, typically in long form. Recently they decided to shift gears a bit a put out a series of shorter cover pieces as singles, leading to a collection early in Spring. The latest installment has just appeared – and it is the last one before the collection comes out.

Volume 4 has two tracks. Side A is a cover of the Cheap Trick song “Auf Wiedersehen” originally on Heaven Tonight (1978). Being the ever-peppy band that Cheap trick is, a doomish version of one of their typically pop-oriented rock songs is a delight. Consistent with the original, the guitar in this new version carries the founding momentum and gives it a nice twirl.

Side B is the CTS version of “Sleeping On The Roof” by The Flaming Lips from The Soft Bulletin (1999). The treatment on Volume 4 is to flesh out some of the airiness of the principles from the original while reinforcing the intended sentiment with a bigger sound. The melancholy shines through and cleaves a deeper trench, in my mind.

This was an interesting project. It has been great to get a couple new songs every month, like clockwork. I am really looking forward to the full set. Recommended.

Bandcamp has Volume 4 right now. If you want a hard copy, time to get going.

Links.

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

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

Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/artist/5QidF8yXlvTyGkDy24JImY

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvVu8mcXrE2eVjq_ApcGBmw

Overview Article on Clouds Taste Satanic, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2020/04/07/a-quick-look-at-clouds-taste-satanic/

Clouds Taste Satanic, The Satanic Singles Vol. 4 (Kinda Like Music 2021)