Black Math Horseman, Black Math Horseman (Profound Lore 2022)

Regathering after more than a decade, Black Math Horseman release a new album.

Black Math Horseman is a band from LA comprised of the musicians Sera Timms (bass, vocals), Ian Barry (guitar), Bryan Tulao (guitar), and Sasha Popovic (drums). They originally got together in 2007 and released a demo. More importantly, their debut album, Wyllt, came out in 2009 and cast an entirely different light on the heavy music scene with the way it created hypnotic expressions in such a chaotic space. A few years later, they parted.

In 2020 the group came back together. Sera Timms says about the re-meeting, “At first, the conversation was about how we were all in different places now, and could we even go back to being that band that we were? … Maybe we’d write completely different music now—and we were all open to that.” Instead, “When we started jamming again, we didn’t sound any different. We discovered that the music that comes from us four together is something that we have no control over. It just happens. It’s a recipe that’s beyond us.”

Fans know what to expect from this new album. It is composed as a single musical piece. Although it is split into four parts, it is meant to be heard all at once. It does work best that way. “The essence of the album is overcoming a great enemy, a great adversarial force, and reaching a place of harmony that has never been found before,” Timms says. “You go to a dark place and destroy relationships that you love, all based on ego. Eventually, you have nothing. And when you have nothing, you have to find a new way of doing things. That’s where we’re at now as a band and family, and that’s also the theme of the record.”

The four movements are “Black Math Horseman,” “Boar Domane,” “The Bough,” and “Cypher.” As described by Timms, this is indeed a journey. The music is trance-inducing post-rock, and it has a clear ritual feel to it at times. I hear elements of black metal come through, especially in the lead guitar passages, while the vocals are beautifully lyrical. The coexistence of these near-opposites is an important aspect of the music and its achievements.

The entire cycle runs about twenty-five minutes, and while the separate movements do have their own feel and structure, you are missing something if you do not listen to it all straight through from the beginning. Let the music envelope you and get lost in the story and emotion. Recommended.

Black Math Horsman is out on Friday, October 21st through Profound Lore Records.

Band photo by Travis Shinn.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://blackmathhorseman.bandcamp.com/album/black-math-horseman

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063492333782

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

© Wayne Edwards

Black Math Horseman, Black Math Horseman (Profound Lore 2022)

Mantic Ritual, Heart Set Stone (M-Theory Audio 2022)

The new EP from Pittsburgh originals Mantic Ritual has three new songs and three covers: Heart Set Stone.

Mantic Ritual began in Pittsburgh in 2005, operating for the first couple of years as Meltdown. They play thrash in a fundamental form, observing the integrity of the past while sharpening their methods for the world of today. The full-length album Executioner came out in 2009 and things have been on the quiet side since then, recording-wise. The band split for a while, but they are back at it now. The line-up is Dan Wetmore (vocals, guitar), Jeff Potts (guitar), Ben Mottsman (bass), and Carlos Cruz (drums).

There are three new songs on the EP and three covers. Let’s start with the new ones. “Life as Usual” is a blazingly speedy attack that chargers directly at you. At times clippy, and at other times whirling, the riffs are energetic and intrusive. The lead break is deadly effective. “Crusader,” released earlier as a single, is a longer piece compared to the opening smash-and-grab track. What you get is more time for execution along a similar primary theme. The extra attention to guitar work pays off in a big way. The third original is the title track, a breathless testing of all surrounding waters. There is a lot going on with this song; they mopped every corner. The performance fulfills any thrash expectation. It’s a big ride.

The covers are “Race Against Time,” a G.B.H. tune, the Mercyful Fate standard “Black Funeral,” and Razor’s “Cross Me Fool.” That’s a punk hit, a dark metal classic, and a speed metal rager. In each case we hear an impressive run at the style and substance of the original creators, making the homage all the more poignant. I particularly liked the Mercyful Fate take. Good stuff, this record. Recommended.

Heart Set Stone is out on Friday, September 2nd through M-Theory Audio.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://manticritualthrash.bandcamp.com/album/heart-set-stone

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

M-Theory Audio, https://m-theoryaudio.com/store

© Wayne Edwards

Mantic Ritual, Heart Set Stone (M-Theory Audio 2022)

The Interrupters, Into The Wild (Hellcat Records 2022)

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.

Links.

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

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

Hellcat Records, https://kingsroadmerch.com/hellcat-records/

Band shop, https://theinterrupters.store/

© Wayne Edwards

The Interrupters, Into The Wild (Hellcat Records 2022)

Behold! The Monolith, From The Fathomless Deep (Ripple Music 2022)

Los Angeles metal band Behold! The Monolith have created a doom-laden masterpiece with their new album From The Fathomless Deep.

Behold! The Monolith have gone through some changes since their inception fifteen years ago. They have released an EP and three previous long-players prior to the latest album. The band has shifted and reshaped since the sudden loss of vocalist and bassist Kevin McDade in a car accident in 2009. Reorienting to a trio on the new album, Menno Verbaten plays bass and sings, Matt Price is on guitar, and Chase Manhattan, drums. This latest music is some of their heaviest to date.

There are six tracks on From The Fathomless Deep. “Crown/The Immeasurable Void” opens the set and establishes a weighty foundation. All instruments, including voice, hit on the first note laying out a heavy front of doom. Slow and monstrous, you can feel the behemoth getting closer as the song moves along. The tension grows throughout and, when you hear a quiet passage, it is positively ominous. “Psychlopean Dread” has a mysterious beginning and melancholy lead work. Verbaten’s gruff vocals churn primordial forces to create meaning from the mist. “Spirit Taker” picks the pace up, and then some. The stabbing guitar riff and rapid-fire percussion catch you off guard and hit all the harder for it. It’s a rager.

Side two leads with “The Wailing Blade,” a song that has a less ominous but more directly threatening tone. It is short and cracking. “The Seams of Pangaea” is a fascinating title when you think of the implications it carries, and the music delivers a full-on expression of the possibilities. The overlayed lead guitar work is exceptional, and the Pink Floydian movement is an experience. The album closes on the eleven-minute epic “Stormbreaker Suite.” This piece has some of the most progressive segments on the record, to my ear, anyway. Over the course of the song, an ambitious array of ideas is explored, and the answers are found.

The is album is very heavy, and it is one of my favorites, not just from Behold! The Monolith, but among the all the albums I have heard so far this year. Highly recommended.

From The Fathomless Deep is out now through Ripple Music. Secure your treasures at the label’s site, or at Bandcamp, like I did.

Links.

Band website, https://beholdthemonolith.com/home

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/from-the-fathomless-deep

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

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

© Wayne Edwards

Behold! The Monolith, From The Fathomless Deep (Ripple Music 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)

Insineratehymn, Disembodied (Blood Harvest 2022)

Los Angeles death metal band Insineratehymn put forth their second long-player, Disembodied.

The history of the early days of Insineratehymn is a bit murky. In the past few years, they have put together two albums. The first was 2018’s A Moment In A Vision, which was quite well received. The new album shows some refinements in composition and execution without extinguishing the original dark spark. The Metal Archives reports the band members to be Miguel Martinez (bass), Abraham Garcia (drums), Demitree Rivera (guitar), Frank Montero (guitar, vocals), and Nico Poblete (bass).

The opening track of Disembodied, “Perpetual Anguish,” has beautiful instrumentation and very creepy voices and vocals. It puts you in the right mood. “Visceral Ignominy” throws the first lump of meat on the floor with pummeling rhythm and slicing guitar. The singing is a cross between is deep growl and a foul croak. The music seems to be designed to press the breath right out of you. The lead guitar work emanates from the pitch-black netherworld, promoting an unseen, surely sinister, agenda.

This is fundamental death metal, pumping in a 90s vein and traipsing the unhallowed earth with unfettered disregard for order. “Proliferation Of The Deceased” has an exceptional doom vibe while following along the defined agenda of set-up, excursion, and delivery. In a similar stance of divergence and coordination, “Immolated Ascension” marches off in the direction of chaos in order to hold a black mirror up to new delights. My favorite song is “Bitter Loss” as it maintains the essential facets of the declared musical paradigm and excels in the individual pieces, especially the vocals. This album is a dark delight. Recommended.

Disembodied is out now. Blood Harvest Records and Rotted Life conspire to bring CD, digital, vinyl, and cassette formats to life for the choosing. Investigate the possibilities at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://bloodharvestrecords.bandcamp.com/album/disembodied

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

Blood Harvest Records, http://www.bloodharvest.se/

Insineratehymn, Disembodied (Blood Harvest 2022)

Civerous, Decrepit Flesh Relic (Transylvanian Recordings 2021)

The Los Angeles blackened metal band Civerous brings forth its first full-length album, Decrepit Flesh Relic.

Beginning only a couple years ago, Civerous has released two demos and a live set, along with a split pairing them with Stygian Obsession. The steady work has paid off, culminating in one of the strongest records in the blackened death/doom arena this year. The band is Daniel Salinas (guitar), Alonso Santana (guitar), Lord Foul (vocals), Drew Horton (bass), and Matt Valencia (drums).

After the creeps-inducing intro piece “Eidolon,” there are six primary tracks on the album. Having set the mood to dark and tense, “From The Crypt To The Cavern” is a functional nightmare. The riff is a heavy clomp that batters you up front in anticipation of the following tenderizing percussion and growling vocals filled with the wisdom of eldritch blackness. “Herodacy” deepens the lines of inquiry as a well-timed lead-in to “Rot Delineated (Decrepit Flesh Relic),” a quieter and creepier rendering of similar sentiments, evolving slowly into beautifully crushing doom.

“Hubiku” is a trip down the sinkhole into the swirling chasm of hell – once you pass the event horizon, there is no escape. “Bone Wreath” is the song that stuck deepest in my brain. The hopelessness conveyed in the opening moments is monumental, and the reckoning of that promise is unforgettable. The final movement is the epic “Spiral OF Eyes,” a tale older than time; maker of destruction. The darkness evoked is sincere and penetrating.

I appreciate especially the commitment to doom throughout the album, and the willingness to explore in directions that could not be easily predicted by the listener in advance. This recording deserves attention and should make year-end “best of” lists far and wide. Highly recommended.

Decrepit Flesh Relic is out now through Transylvanian Records. Hit the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://transylvaniantapes.bandcamp.com/album/civerous-decrepit-flesh-relic

Transylvania Recordings, https://transylvaniantapes.bandcamp.com/

Civerous, Decrepit Flesh Relic (Transylvanian Recordings 2021)

All Hail The Yeti, Within The Hollow Earth (Minus Head 2021)

Mythical sludge metal band All Hail The Yeti go deep on their new album, Within The Hollow Earth.

All Hail The Yeti have been banging out music for fifteen years, including three long-players: All Hail the Yeti (2012), Screams from a Black Wilderness (2016), and Highway Crosses (2018). Their take on the word is that it is full of mystery and that legends hold some valuable information about elemental truths. These ideas are expressed in heavy groove metal with sludgy sensibilities. The musicians are Connor Garritty (vocals), Dave Vanderlinde (guitar), Nicholas Diltz (bass, vocals), Ryan “Junior” Kittlitz (drums).

Within The Hollow Earth has seven tracks at common length opening with the pummeling “Bury Your Memory,” a song stout enough to hammer you thoughts flat. “Headless Valley” gets your blood up with a pursuing, pulsing riff that enjoins a warning and a prediction. This song is a monster slap with terrifying flashes alternating with a misleading periodic calm.

“Funeral Heart” is a ravaging affair in its raking riff and the story is even harsher. “Cold Dead Leaves” is a show-stopper, offering up a deep, dark bitterness and wicked guitar. The melodic vocals that float across the transom of these songs amid what by comparison seems a clambering explanative assault is a creative construction that delivers effectively fresh tellings of hoary themes. Truly, the ideas are infused with a bristling enthusiasm that elevates them, making them new and fascinating.

The chop of “The Cry of the Waheela” and the resolute finality of “The Great Dying” bring the set to a close. The jabs and haymakers just keep coming in this music. It is a wicked walking dream that inflames your senses. Recommended.

Within The Hollow Earth is out on Friday, November 12th. Snap it up at Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ahty.bandcamp.com/album/within-the-hollow-earth

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

All Hail The Yeti, Within The Hollow Earth (Minus Head 2021)

Black Veil Brides, The Phantom Tomorrow (Sumerian Records 2021)

Metal veterans Black Veil Brides create a concept album for their newest release, The Phantom Tomorrow.

Originating in the Midwest, Black Veil Brides have made a name for themselves in the heavy music world as a polished gothic-tinged band with a complex worldview and a penchant for intricate storytelling. In their relatively short career they have released five previous albums, including two concept albums. The newest is one of their strongest to date and carries a timely reflection on fame and projection. The band is Andy Biersack (vocals), Jake Pitts (guitar), Jinxx (guitar), Christian Coma (drums), and Lonny Eagleton (bass).

The new album has ten songs and two transitional pieces. The title track is an orchestral on-ramp to “Scarlett Cross,” one of the set’s early singles. Biersack’s melodic, insisting vocals surf on the layered production as the focal point surrounded by punching and jabbing rhythm and guitars. This raucous opener sets the stage for extended exploratory peeks in narrative corners of the established thematic arc.

The melodies they create are uncompromisingly catchy and impossible to forget. The compositional depth is truly enhanced by the non-guitar strings and keys, but the metal is never far away. Other bands try to do this, too, but none excel like Black Veil Brides. I am a metalhead from way back, a thrash and doom fiend both, and I can’t stop listening to this album. Every segment and transition, every song lands right.

Some of my favorite songs are the tracks with heavier openings like “The Wicked One” and “Crimson Skies,” but whether the pace is up or down, or the push is hard or soft, the music is clearly drawn from the same well. I saw Black Veil Brides live a couple weeks ago in Sacramento at Aftershock and it was an amazing performance. They are on tour in the US right now so go see them if you can. You will be glad you did.

The Phantom Tomorrow is out now through Sumerian Records. Check out a few videos at the band’s website and immerse yourself in the story. This is another great album from a band a admire more every time I hear them. Highly recommended.

Photo by Steve Thrasher from Aftershock Festival 2021.

Links.

Black Veil Brides website, http://blackveilbrides.net/

Store link, http://phantomtomorrow.com/

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

Sumerian Records, https://www.sumerianmerch.com/collections/black-veil-brides

Excellent article by Bryan Reesman at Billboard, https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/9648734/black-veil-brides-interview-the-phantom-tomorrow/

Black Veil Brides, The Phantom Tomorrow (Sumerian Records 2021)

Alcatrazz, V (Silver Lining Music 2021)

Los Angeles metal band Alcatrazz returns with their fifth long-player, simply titled V.

Alcatrazz started almost forty years ago in California. Its first phase lasted from about 1983 to 1987 when a hiatus ensued, but not before the band released three albums. Picking back up in 2007, a touring incarnation was in place for a few years. Most recently, Alcatrazz came together again on the edge of the pandemic, putting out the well-received Born Innocent album in 2020. And now, in rapid succession, we have V. The band is Jimmy Waldo (keyboards), Gary Shea (bass), Doogie White (vocals), Joe Stump (guitar), and Mark Benquechea (drums).

The opening song “Guardian Angel” has a real Iron Maiden feel to it, and I mean that in a good way. The delivery lays over on the radio-ready side, even with the ripping guitar shreds. The music is heavily layered and produced, resulting a very polished final product. It goes down smooth. A fine way to start the album.

The keyboards have a large presence throughout the set and they work well with the vocal style. In some ways it is like the second phase of Deep Purple except, again, more in the pop lane. The singer Doogie White is well known, after all, for his vocal performances with Rainbow and Rising Force (among others) so you recognize his signature sound immediately and the compositions are designed with synergy in mind. For me, the music is solidly created and the existence of big lead breaks makes every song worthwhile. Witness “Nightwatch.”

While the music does operate in a definable universe, it offers considerably variety, too. One of my favorite songs is the bluesy “House Of Lies,” and then there is the solemn heavy ballad “Dark Day For My Soul.” Rollicking tunes abound as well as in “Blackheart” and “Target.” There is an old school sensibility here that is tuned into a contemporaneous awareness that results in a new and unique sound. Recommended.

The new album is out now through Silver Lining Music in digipak, digital, and streaming formations.

Band photo by Alex Solca.

Links.

Alcatrazz website, http://www.alcatrazzofficial.com/

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

Silver Lining Music, http://sl-music.net/en/releases/259-artists/releases-alcatrazz/984-v

Alcatrazz, V (Silver Lining Music 2021)