The Black Halos, How The Darkness Doubled (Stomp Records 2022)

Canadian punk-n-roll band The Black Halos are back with a new album, How The Darkness Doubled, twenty three years after their first.

Think back to 2001 when the iconic underground record label Sub Pop released The Violent Years, The Black Halos’ second album. It was a big success for the Vancouver band, riding hot on the heels of their self-titled debut from a couple years before. There were a series of line-up changes after that, and the band came together and drifted apart several times over the years. They did release several more records, EPs, and compilations. How The Darkness Doubled is their fifth studio long-player. Original songwriters Billy Hopeless, Rich Jones, and Jay Millette, have reunited now and are joined by new members John Kerns and Danni Action.

The record begins with “A History of Violence,” a peppy snarler. The vocals are a combination of melodic and a bit of a growl, and the catchy music features unforgettable singalong lines that will have the crowds at live shows joining in. “Tenement Kids” follows with a slight downshift in tempo and an upshift in attitude. Different still, “Uncommonwealth” brings an insistent urgency in the delivery. With these opening songs, and all of them, truly, the guitars are the driving force, and the vocals are what make the music stick in your head.

There are a dozen songs on the new record, each one its own individual implementation of the band’s unique, appealing style. Stand out tracks include “Better Days” – see the video for a feel of the band in action in 2022, and “A Positive Note,” the closer and one of my personal favorites of the set. I am glad to hear new music from The Black Halos, and I hope this album is a sign of more to come. Recommended.

How The Darkness Doubled is out now. You can get the digital at Bandcamp – the vinyl might be sold out by now. Follow the links below to find out.

Band photo by Michael Crusty.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://theblackhalos.bandcamp.com/album/how-the-darkness-doubled

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

Stomp Records, https://stomprecords.com/shop/how-the-darkness-doubled/

© Wayne Edwards

The Black Halos, How The Darkness Doubled (Stomp Records 2022)

Photo Gallery: Integrity, Pure Filth Festival, Sharkey’s, Liverpool, New York, June 18, 2022

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Ghost Cult Magazine article, https://www.ghostcultmag.com/festival-review-pure-filth-festival-at-sharkeys-event-center-liverpool-new-york/

Integrity website, https://www.facebook.com/INTEGRITY.HT/

Sharkey’s Event Center, https://sharkeysbarandgrill.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Photo Gallery: Integrity, Pure Filth Festival, Sharkey’s, Liverpool, New York, June 18, 2022

Photo Gallery: Hookers, Muddy Roots Festival 2022

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Muddy Roots, https://www.muddyroots.com/

Ghost Cult Magazine article, https://www.ghostcultmag.com/festival-review-muddy-roots-festival-2022-live-at-junebug-boogie-ranch/

FFMB article on Muddy Roots 2022, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/10/03/muddy-roots-cookeville-tennessee-september-2-4-2022/

© Wayne Edwards

Photo Gallery: Hookers, Muddy Roots Festival 2022

Photo Gallery: The Casualties, Muddy Roots Festival 2022

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

The Casualties website, https://linktr.ee/TheCasualties

Muddy Roots, https://www.muddyroots.com/

Ghost Cult Magazine article, https://www.ghostcultmag.com/festival-review-muddy-roots-festival-2022-live-at-junebug-boogie-ranch/

FFMB article on Muddy Roots 2022, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2022/10/03/muddy-roots-cookeville-tennessee-september-2-4-2022/

© Wayne Edwards

Photo Gallery: The Casualties, Muddy Roots Festival 2022

Muddy Roots, Cookeville, Tennessee, September 2-4, 2022

The Muddy Roots music festival celebrates punk, roots, metal, folk, and just about everything in between.

Muddy Roots isn’t much like other music festivals. Apart from the unusual combination of musical acts, Muddy has a few other characteristics about it that set it apart. Free camping is the big one. The venue is a large sloping field surrounded by trees. I don’t know how many people attended this year – maybe one thousand – but there was plenty of room to set up a tent and a fire pit, or a marquee and an RV. First come, first served; camp anywhere you like. To sweeten the deal, they also have free hot showers. I do not know of any other festival that does this. Given the relatively low ticket price in the first place, free lodging at the campsite makes Muddy Roots one of the best deals for fans in the country.

Antagonizers ATL
Black Cobra
Black Tarpoon

Along with the free camping, you can come and go as you please between the camping areas and the event space. You can even leave the grounds and return whenever you like – the gates are open twenty-four hours a day. You can bring in your own food and alcohol … try doing that at any other festival. There are several vendors on site so you can buy chow and drinks, and the prices are the lowest I have seen anywhere, especially for beer, soft drinks, and water.

Doyle
Fear

There were three stages at the festival this year. The main stage is called the Wood Stage, and it is at the bottom of a sloping main (gravel) street that where everything happens. It is an open stage with a shed roof and good views from all angles. The smallest stage is in the Little Tent, and then there is the middle ground of the Big Tent a little bit farther along. These tents are open-sided, and they allow you to get out of the direct sun and rain while listening to the music.

The headliners this year ended up being Stöner, Fear, and Heavy Temple. Monolord was a late dropout and Heavy Temple took up the mantle on day two. The variety of bands that played is impressive and fascinating. There was a large punk presence, and that surprised me (even though I hadn’t formed strong expectations in the first place before the festivals). There were many folk and roots bands, and I did expect. Straight-up rock bands, and especially Doyle, felt a little out of place, but the crowd seemed to love them just as much as all the others.

Stoner
Hookers
HR of Bad Brains

There is a real sense of community at this festival, unlike any other I have ever been to. Part of it is the small size of the crowd, but it is more than that. There is a very specific vibe at Muddy Roots. One way to say it is that they only really have one rule at the festival: Don’t be a dick. I only saw one small group get the boot during the entire weekend. Virtually everybody had a constant positive attitude and there were good vibes all around all the time. Really.

IV & The Strange Band
Mike Vallely & The Complete Disaster
Munly And The Lupercalians

This was my first trip to Muddy Roots, and I won’t be going back. No hard feelings, but I am simply looking for something else in a music festival. Muddy offers an eclectic blend of music and people, adding up to a unique music festival in the humid hills of middle Tennessee. It is worth going at least one time and, if you don’t live too far away, it is one of the best deals in music festivals you can find anywhere.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Note: This is a summary/excerpt/reduction/reimagining based on the original article that appeared in Ghost Cult Magazine. A link to the article appears below.

Links.

Ghost Cult article, https://www.ghostcultmag.com/festival-review-muddy-roots-festival-2022-live-at-junebug-boogie-ranch/

Muddy Roots Festival, https://www.muddyroots.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Muddy Roots, Cookeville, Tennessee, September 2-4, 2022

Autopsy, Morbidity Triumphant (Peaceville 2022)

Oakland death metal band Autopsy is back after eight years with a new full-length album, Morbidity Triumphant.

Autopsy stomped the earth in the first half of the nineties. Their first two albums, Severed Survival (1989) and Mental Funeral (1991), are considered by many to be standards even now. They were a band that cut deeply in the death metal scene, and left carnage in their wake. The band split in 1995, then reformed in 2008/9 and have been cracking on ever since. Their most recent full-length album came out in 2014, Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves, and there have been EPs and splits, compilations, and live albums aplenty along the way. Morbidity Triumphant is Autopsy’s eighth long-player. The band is Eric Cutler (guitar), Danny Coralles (guitar), Chris Reifert (vocals, drums), and Greg Wilkinson (bass).

Autopsy was different from other death bands in the way they used grindcore, punk, and doom in their musical constructions. You get this on the new album as well. The first song is “Stab the Brain.” What a great title. It sounds at first like a disturbed beehive, then a groove kicks in unexpectedly. The chaotic swirl tag teams the groove and hook, showing how well the two disparate ideas can work together. Clever moments of melody and lead guitar bursts elevate the composition to the next level. “Final Frost” is next, and it has an eastern mystical twinge and a moving doom posture walking it to a different space compared to the opener. The second movement of the song is straight up death metal, and then the doom comes back. “The Voracious One” is different still, starting on a groove with a great disarming riff. This one is a top pick for me from the set.

Every song is more than one thing on the new Autopsy album. It is filled with doom and mysticism, and also raging death metal. I particularly like “Tapestry of Scars” for the depths of its doom, and “Skin By Skin” in a similar vein. “Maggots in the Mirror” is a wonderfully stabby punk piece, and “Your Eyes Will Turn to Dust” is perfectly dreary closer. To me, Autopsy has struck exactly the right tone at every turn on this record. Highly recommended.

Morbidity Triumphant is out on Friday, September 30th through Peaceville Records in the customary forms. Check it out through the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://peaceville.bandcamp.com/album/morbidity-triumphant

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100050176223094

Peaceville Records, https://peaceville.com/bands/autopsy/

© Wayne Edwards

Autopsy, Morbidity Triumphant (Peaceville 2022)

Venom, Inc., There’s Only Black (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The sophomore full-length album from Venom, Inc. is an unwavering menace: There’s Only Black.

Venom is the iconic band that brought us Welcome To Hell (1981) and Black Metal (1982), essentially creating Black Metal from punk and speed metal. Since then, black metal itself has evolved in a particular direction while Venom had other ideas. At War With Satan (1984) was on brand but it was clear that things were changing, and then Possessed (1985) was a noticeable, clear shift. The seas calmed a bit with Prime Evil (1987), but chaos was coming. The band paused, considered reforming, then split in twain.

Venom, Inc. emerged from the schism of the original band. Their debut album was Avé (2017), and I found it enthralling. That one will be hard to follow, but if any band can do it, Venom, Inc. is the one. The musicians are Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan, Jeffrey “Mantas” Dunn, and Jeramie “War Machine” Kling.

You can hear the music coming from far away on the first track, “How Many Can Die.” It is a stylized punk attack with a hardcore head and intermittent hooks. The song works, and still this is a chancy approach for an opener – you have to really depend on the fans being in to what you are putting down. And I was. “Infinitum” is a stone cold killer with a battering mission. The lead guitar break will really wind you up. “Come To Me” is a chopper. I love the straight-forward, no nonsense musical construction. An excellent metal song where the vocals take the forefront while the riff and rhythm provide an indelible platform and the dark lead guitar work intoxicates.

I am having a hard time finding anything to complain about on this record. The title track is a stunningly superbly sinister metal song. “Don’t Feed Me Your Lies” begins on a contemplative foot and then turns into a ravager. “Rampant” is a race straight toward a sharp cliff. Every song has a unique appeal, and they all come together to create a solid set you will want to listen to over and again. Recommended.

There’s Only Black is out now through Nuclear Blast Records. Links below.

Links.

Venom, Inc. website, https://www.venom-inc.co.uk/

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

Nuclear Blast Records, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/index.html

© Wayne Edwards

Venom, Inc., There’s Only Black (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Manic Abraxas, Foreign Winds (2022)

Bangor, Maine blackened punk band Manic Abraxas reveal the third album of their canon, Foreign Winds.

Early on, Manic Abraxas played at a slower pace, focusing on doom. The tempo has since quickened but the darkness has not lifted. Their latest album features music that lies in the blackened realm between thrash, punk, and doom. The band is Tom Bennett (drums), Justin Hamm (bass, vocals, synth), and Dallas Seger (guitar, vocals, synth).

“Red Camo Rock” is a straight-up heavy number with a good roll and the intimation of a groove. It runs on the plus side of mid-tempo and gets the job done. A fine beginning. “Onyxsphere” is very punk indeed in its construction and spat-out lyrics. Quite an attitude is on display with this one. Very nice lead break toward the end. “I Toblakai” lurches toward the creepy, with eerie keys working a number on your spine and stabbing guitars pointed at your orbital sockets. If you catch them in the right mood, a goth might dance with you on this one – careful of the turns and twists.

The title track is the doomiest so far in tone. The count picks up and becomes positively speedy from time to time. Unusual percussion wrong-foots you more than once, and the keys whisper incantations that you can hear but that you don’t really understand. “Canonized” and “Domerunner” both put me in a strange mood. The former pecks at you with great deliberation on a ceaseless unspoken mission. The latter is a constant threat that draws a small amount of blood then nibbles at the wound – again – ceaselessly. They both hang on in different, almost opposite, ways.

The set ends with “Black Destrier.” It’s a ripper, with a cruising riff in a goth-n-roll gear that is wonder of its own. The guitar work is beautifully done. I hope they close every live show with this number. I did not know where this record was going when it started but I am delighted with where it ended up. Recommended.

Foreign Winds hits the streets as an independent release on Friday, September 30th in CD and digital. Bandcamp is the easy get at the link below.

Links.

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

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

Manic Abraxas, Foreign Winds (2022)

Anxious Wave, Live From The Poison Factory (Nefarious Industries 2022)

Punk rock foursome Anxious Wave ply their trade with Live From The Poison Factory.

Stemming from Providence, Rhode Island, Brandon St. Pierre (vocals), Mikey Belcastro (guitar), Sam Okon (bass), and Dylan Lagory (drums) make up Anxious Wave. The band has been together since 2018, issuing a demo, an EP, and a split since then. Live From The Poison Factory is their first full-length album.

There are ten tracks on the record with an average running time of about two minutes. Number one in line is “Complex Needs.” Drums enter first, then a great bass line, a riff, and punk vocals. We are off and running now. Without listening to the lyrics at all you get the attitude from the tone. The complex needs seem to be a real pain in the ass – that’s what I am taking away from it. “The Silk Fortress” puts together disparate stances and makes them dance together as the bass line seems to have a mind of its own, the vocal is sad then mad, and the riff is surprisingly linear. It is like if an earthquake somehow created a perfect portrait in the generated ruin.

“Mirror Bed,” different still, does put me in mind of classic punk music from way back. It has a nice bounciness that helps the anger move along. “Nothing Elicits Joy” sounds like the title of a comment card at a crisis therapist’s office, and then “Regards” is a lovely ballad. Sort of.

The back half is similarly variegated. Lots of great juxtapositions, but also excellent straight-forward constructions, too. I am particularly enamored with “Executive Dissector,” with its additional vocal line and the flagrant raggedness of it all. It could just be me, but I get a strong nostalgic feel for the punk I used to listen to when I first listened to punk as I listen to Anxious Wave now. Yeah. Recommended.

Nefarious Industries will let Live From The Poison Factory loose on Friday, September 2nd on vinyl, cassette, and digital.

Links.

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

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

Nefarious Industries, https://www.nefariousindustries.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Anxious Wave, Live From The Poison Factory (Nefarious Industries 2022)

Defect Designer, Neanderthal (Transcending Obscurity 2022)

Free-form death metal band Defect Designer hoe their own row on Neanderthal.

Constructed in Norway and endorsed by Diskord, Defect Designer is a death metal band that does not closely monitor is sub-genre status. Elements of grind, punk, and hardcore exist and come and go as the musical river rages by filled with objects both blunt and sharp. The band has two previous long-players, Wax (2009) and Ageing Accelerator (2015), and the new one is a tight EP loaded with accelerant. The musicians are Eyvind W. Axelsen (bass), Simen Kandola (drums), Dmitry Sukhinin (vocals, guitar, bass), and Martin Storm-Olsen (vocals, guitar).

The album begins in chaos with the one-minute title track. Growling, howling, beating, and shoving – savage knuckle-dragging punk. Tasty.

“Wrinkles” is a little more linear, in a way. It maintains the ragged power of the opener but it is followable. There is a compelling guitar line walking alongside the vocals in the second stanza and a taunting bridge that is a pure delight. The warbling stays mostly near the rails, and there is a Misfits-like playfulness that surfaces in the second half. “Trolls” then is a beating taken stretched out on a rack. The tension is relaxed and increased in a cycle that is unpredictable.

“Luddites” goes toward the land of doom and the hollow of prog, but it doesn’t actually wander over those borders. The music at first seems straight-forward but soon it reveals itself not to be. It is my favorite track. “Vlad” and “Pigsty” have a comradery in excess. The former is a dead run of brutal badgering while the latter takes a break to go to a jazz lunge for a pop before heading out into the night at the end.

“Time, Forward” shuts the door with an embedded identity of contained plethora. The press release was right about the “maniacal fervour” of this music. It exists in loosely described borders where “rules” is not a concept that is entertained seriously. It is hard, loud, and fast. Recommended.

Neanderthal is out on Friday, July 8th through Transcending Obscurity Records. Examine the options at the links below.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/defectdesigner1

Defect Designer website, https://www.defect-designer.com/

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Defect Designer, Neanderthal (Transcending Obscurity 2022)