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)

Negative 13, Mourning Asteri (2022)

The sophomore album from Negative 13 is an ambitious affair, Mourning Asteri.

Negative 13 is a band from Pittsburgh, and it is the new incarnation of the band Negative Theory which proliferated in the early aughts. The music is sludge-centered with adventures in many other directions. The musicians are Scott Fisher (vocals), Edward Banchs (guitar), Chip Reynolds (drums, vocals), and Mary Bielich (bass).

I listened to the record straight through and wrote down a one-line knee jerk reaction to each song. These are not really based on the lyrics and mostly have to do with whatever popped into my head as I heard the songs for the first time. It is what the music made me think of and therefore what I plastered onto it. I wouldn’t take this too seriously.

Here we go. “My Scars Are Showing Again” – like a hoarse, wandering goblin minstrel drinking in a rural English pub talking about its day by candlelight. “Never Ending Exit Wound” – a very punk piece that turns into doom toward the end. “Pain Prism” – belligerent angst stemming from the lost search for peace and isolation.

“Mourning Asteri” – a sinister instrumental mood track. “Crack the Code” – continues from previous song and builds into a journey where many things go terribly wrong. “The Key and the Coat” – a hot punk take up front meandering off into the psychedelic wilderness as the song goes on. “Parahell” – wandering somewhat lost in mental confinement, searching for an exit. “Villain” – somber long-form doom, beautifully dark.

More thoughtfully, let me say I really like this music. In its totality, is unlike what I usually hear. The idea of combining sludge and doom with punk is a winner for sure. Adding psychedelic and even ambient-like passages deepens the effect. Give it a listen. Recommended.

Mourning Asteri is out on Friday, July 8th. Check it out at Bandcamp or any other elsewhere you like.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://negative13.bandcamp.com/album/mourning-asteri

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/people/Negative-Thirteen/100063690412382/

© Wayne Edwards

Negative 13, Mourning Asteri (2022)

Black Void, Antithesis (Nuclear Blast 2022)

The flipped coin lands on the Black Void side with Antithesis.

Norwegian band White Void plays a luxurious sort of heavy music; bright and melodic. Black Void is looking at the world from a different perspective. Not like Janus, not to me anyway. These two forces exist together. I read this description of Black Void: “a musical equivalent of a punk with a Mohawk fighting a dude in corpse paint.” I’ll take that one, too. White Void put out a successful album last year, and now we have this alternate look on the world from Black Void, Antithesis. The band is Jostein Thomassen (guitar), Tobias Øymo Solbakk (drums), and Lars Are Nedland (vocals, bass).

The music is described more formally as a combination of black metal and punk. Whenever I hear those two mentioned together my mind immediately skips to Venom, but that is not where Black Void goes. There is a punk sensibility throughout, and you can hear black metal twinges, but they are much more subdued. There are many hooks and catchy moments, and there are also frequent melodic passages. The perfect example is “Tenebrism Of Life,” which has gruff vocals and an aggressive guitar attack. I also offers singable moments and toys with pop-punk catchiness. It is an excellent hard-edged song that gets right in your head.

Top picks for me on the album are “It’s Not Surgery, It’s A Knife Fight” and “Void.” Both of these have the kind of punkitude that brightened me up and made me want to punch the air. The final two songs on the set are heavy hitters, too: “Nihil” and “Dadaist Disgust.” The band has talked about the nihilist aspects (Nietzsche) and the influence of Dadaism on this set. If you are looking for it, go to the end and work your way back toward the beginning. You will not be disappointed. I don’t know what White Void fans will think of Black Void, but I think this record is great. Recommended.

Antithesis is out on Friday, May 27th through Nuclear Blast Records. More info at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://blckvod.bandcamp.com/album/antithesis

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

Nuclear Blast, https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/products/sound/cd/cd/black-void-antithesis.html

© Wayne Edwards

Black Void, Antithesis (Nuclear Blast 2022)

Skaven, Flowers Of Flesh And Blood (Carbonized 2022)

The last recordings of famed Oakland crust band Skaven get a new release.

The new The Flowers of Flesh and Blood “commemorates the 25th anniversary of the final recordings of acclaimed Oakland Crust band, Skaven.” This music was originally released in two pieces, but here it is now altogether. Some remastering has been done on these tracks, setting them apart from previous releases and compilations. Skaven was Zebediah Gammack (vocals), Mike Matusio (bass), Shane O’Gallagher (bass), Geoff Evans (guitar), and Ross Vogelsong (drums).

Skaven was only around for a couple years, really, but during that time they laid down some unforgettable music and haunted Bay Area venues in an aggressive circumlocution. Their music was a long drift away from radio-friendly intimations that were more popular at the time, and the band did not seem to care at all about that. They did what they wanted to do and that was the whole story.

There are three songs included in the new collection. “Severed” and “Flowers of Flesh and Blood” were originally released together on an EP with the same title as the one at hand. “The Swarm” comes from a latter day split with Stormcrow. The music is raw and howling, with a charging rhythm section, as you might expect. For all the urgency and vigor there is a noticeable confidence in the constructions – they are not hurried or slap-dash. They have a monumental presence, which explains why, twenty five years later, fans still want to hear it.

Conjure your memories or, if you are unfamiliar with Skaven, consume the history of this significant lane of music. When you hear it you will know why it is important. Recommended.

Flowers Of Flesh And Blood is out now through Carbonized Records. Check out the options at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://carbonizedrecords.bandcamp.com/album/flowers-of-flesh-and-blood

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

© Wayne Edwards

Skaven, Flowers Of Flesh And Blood (Carbonized 2022)

Nequient, Darker Than Death Or Night (Nefarious Industries 2022)

Chicago hardcore band Nequient release their second full-length studio album this week, Darker Than Death Or Night.

You’ll see Nequient described as a hardcore band or maybe a death metal band. The press release declares the band’s music to be from a variety of wells, and that the band draws “influences from a broad spectrum of aggressive styles including grindcore, crust, sludge, death metal, black metal, and noise rock.” That covers a lot of ground, and it absolutely rings true. Wolves At The Door (2018) was Nequient’s first long-player, and I think the new one is even better. The band is Chris Avgerin (drums), Keenan Clifford (bass), Patrick Conahan (guitar), and Jason Kolkey (vocals).

The first track is a rampage, “First Casualty.” It sets the bar very high right at the jump. The chaos of “Worshippers of the Apocalypse” is what I imagine being gargled in Satan’s colon might be like; so to, “Consensual Hallucination.” The ragged rawness of these tracks is enough to make your gums bleed. The intensity and rapidly shifting off-angle attacks are a true aural battering. But this manner of music isn’t the only look you get, even if it does predominate. “Minotaur” is a gloriously doom-ridden landscape of mountain-high walls past which you cannot see the sun. “Wrongs” does this a bit, too, but with a more active brand of gloom.

The number one track for me comes near the end, “Bootlicker.” Here the emanations are barely contained. At many points along the way it seems like the music might burst apart into a ball of fire. “Golden Age of the Grift” is the kiss goodnight, and it is more of a kidney punch than a peck on the cheek. Nequient has put together one of the fiercest albums I have heard this year. Recommended.

Nefarious Industries will release Darker Than Death Or Night in multiple formats on Friday, March 18th and you can preorder it now.

Band photo by Nicolas Côté.

Links.

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

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

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

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Nequient, Darker Than Death Or Night (Nefarious Industries 2022)

Pillaging Villagers, Pillaging Villagers (2022)

If you are looking for high-energy drinking music for an enraged mob, you can stop at Pillaging Villagers.

Pillaging Villagers was created entirely by David Frazer. He brought in session musicians Jason Hirt (drums), Brian Koenig (guitar), and Adam Tucker (bass) to commit the ideas to indelible digital in the studio. The press release for the album puts it this way: “Merging the punk-influenced aggressiveness of crossover thrash with the Celtic melodies of folk metal, the ‘peasant metal’ of Pillaging Villagers takes the listener on a journey to a medieval world of pitchfork-wielding rebellion where songs of victory and sorrow alike are belted out with tankards raised high.” Whoever wrote that description deserves a tip because it really makes me want to hear the music. What in the world could this be?

“Wretched Of The Earth” has a hooky opening riff followed by growling vocals and a chorus that sounds like something you might hear from an homogenized Irish exile band. It is very odd. I like all the elements and I am trying to put them together in my head. They are not necessarily disparate, but neither are they necessarily cohesive. “We Remember” lays similar tread, turned up a notch. “The Count” adds an eerie key passage (reminiscent of John Carpenter) while maintaining pace. By now you start to get the hang of what is going on. I can’t say that it is completely understood but the structure has revealed itself to the point where everything is no longer a complete surprise.

Most of the songs are quite short, typically under three minutes. The exception is “The Crisis,” running over eight minutes. Compared to its fellows, this song begins dirge-like. It has a longer narrative arc, unsurprisingly, and the vocals are in a more relaxed mode, at least for time. The landscape does rise and fall during the extended journey, and in the end all these different looks were very appealing as sequenced. Excellent.

There are twelve tracks in all. Look for big singalong choruses and killer riffs around every corner. I haven’t heard anything else quite like this. The way the pieces are put together is fascinating. It is a unique accomplishment. Recommended.

Pillaging Villagers is out on Friday, March 11th. Bandcamp is the easy snag.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://pillagingvillagers.bandcamp.com/album/pillaging-villagers

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

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Pillaging Villagers, Pillaging Villagers (2022)