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)

Gravesend, Methods Of Human Disposal (20 Buck Spin 2021)

Freshly minted grindcore trio Gravesend open a massive crack in the earth with their debut full-length album Methods Of Human Disposal.

Fashionably semi-anonymous, the musicians in Gravesend are telling stories of mayhem and decline set to the soundtrack of chaos. Stalking the streets of New York City with malfeasance on their minds, the music they create is super charged with the darkest episodes and artifacts of society most drear. The attitude calls punk to the front of my brain and the application is grinding at the speed of metal with the elemental tools of the trade.

“Fear City” is the first song, and it opens like a soundtrack to Dark Shadows or some such, with quiet, creepy keys. Slowly a violent argument starts the narrative off and it is the second piece where the music really begins to drop, “STH-10,” with the breath of doom. Building, angrier and angrier, into “Methods of Human Disposal” for the first taste of the savage vocals. The title track is dripping with callous disregard for propriety, establishing a purpose all its own.

The music is up-tempo but it is not breakneck for the most part, letting the drums push the urgency while the other instruments slam down the heavy. Some songs, like “Subterranean Solitude,” do set a blistering pace and combine it with a downshifted walking riff in the middle. And then there is “Eye For An Eye,” which is basically a mood piece that might be about the mass torture of seagulls. Entirely unpredictable.

The back-to-back pummeling of “The Grave’s End” and “Scum Breeds Scum” (my favorite track, the latter) near the end tees up the closer perfectly: “Concrete Feet” is a hi-test thrumming with twenty seconds of silence at the end to allow you to gather your thoughts. This album shook me up and Gravesend is on my radar from now on. Recommended.

The album is out on Friday February 19th from 20 Buck Spin Records. Hit the links below for cassettes, LPs, CDs, and/or the digital.

Links.

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

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

20 Buck Spin, https://www.20buckspin.com/

Gravesend, Methods Of Human Disposal (20 Buck Spin 2021)

Gatecreeper, An Unexpected Reality (Closed Casket Activities 2021)

Desert Death Metal force of nature Gatecreeper release and incredible set that shows you how to do it fast and how to do it slow.

Hailing from Arizona, Gatecreeper has been creating music since 2014. Their first EP was the self-title release in that early year, and it landed a tight four songs with harrowing bravado. The pounding rhythm and powerfully insistent vocals were a sign and a statement. It was mid-tempo Death Metal with great hooks, and there was no mistaking the possibilities. Two years later Sonoran Depravation came out and warped musical reality. Many splits and singles have come to pass in the intervening years, plus a live album and the amazing sophomore full-length, Deserted in 2019. They have been throwing down the metal day after day.

The new EP is titled aptly as it is a direction that was not predictable. Separated into a “fast side” and a “slow side,” this is a Janus faced masterpiece. There are seven short songs on the fast side, and by short I mean some of them are less than one minute long with one clocking in at 31 seconds. There is a very hardcore punk attitude in these pieces but at the same time the Gatecreeper sound and hook is in their too, unmistakably.

The slow side is one eleven-minute Doom infused bone crusher, “Emptiness.” The band has never done a song like this before, and we can say the same about the short songs – even though they have a lot hard hitting short pieces in their catalogue, they are nothing like the fast side songs here. The combination of these two completely different elements that are also new to the work of the band to this point is a bold move, and one that pays off astronomically. Highly recommended.

An Unexpected Reality is out now from Closed Casket Activities. Most of the vinyl has sold out at last look, including the second pressings. The CD is still available, and of course the digital. You can get these at Bandcamp, etc.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://gatecreeper.bandcamp.com/album/an-unexpected-reality

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

Closed Casket Activities, https://closedcasketactivities.com/collections/cd/products/gatecreeper-an-unexpected-reality-1

Gatecreeper, An Unexpected Reality (Closed Casket Activities 2021)

Bleach Everything, Bound / Cured (Dark Operative 2021)

Tighten up your wig because this one is a quick, hard punch right to the mouth.

Bleach everything began in 2012 as a band with a central locus of Richmond, Virginia. Changes and evolution ensued, and a few years ago they also started a magazine – check out their website (link below) to see what some of that content looks like. The taproot is punk with hardcore capillaries, but they do sound different from the store brand. The band’s discography shows a good list of 7 inchers, splits, and the well-known RFTCC (2019). The band is Ryan Parrish (drums), Brent Eyestone (vocals), Kelly Posadas (bass), and Graham Scala (guitar).

“Bound” has a chorus that teeters on the melodic, existing like an idyllic island surrounded by rough waters. “Cured” does that, too, and so we have a theme carried out in two pieces over the course of less than three minutes. It is punk and maybe hardcore, but there is this modulating factor I am talking about that gives it a different ring.

The press releases reads, in part, thusly. “Thematically, ‘Bound’ explores the uncertainty of luck and life and never truly knowing how it can, will, and can still shake out. ‘Cured’ addresses the notion of figuring out how one must come to terms with the truth before death takes care of the task.” I can’t disagree with this assessment. What I got out of it went off in rather a different direction and came from just letting the sounds roil over me. You do it your way.

Pre-order the digital for two bucks or the x-ray flexi disc for three bucks via the Bandcamp link — they’ll be out this coming Friday. This one is for fans more than newbies, and the fans are going to like it.

Links.

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

Website, https://www.bleacheverything.com/

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

Dark Operative, https://darkops.site/

Bleach Everything, Bound / Cured (Dark Operative 2021)

Dread Sovereign, Alchemical Warfare (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Dublin Doom trio Dread Sovereign sets a raging fire with their third album, Alchemical Warfare.

The driving force in the band is Nemtheanga, known otherwise as the vocalist for the band Primordial. He started Dread Sovereign some time back, releasing an EP in 2013 followed by two LPs, All Hell’s Martyrs (2014) and For Doom The Bell Tolls (2017). Joined by JK (Johnny King) on drums and Bones on guitar, there is an urgency to the music on the new album, unmistakably circling the chasm of Doom. The vocals are mostly clear, and the themes walk the Black Metal road. The band’s motto is “the world is doomed,” and the theme is a through-line explained this way: “The subject matter and aesthetic are particular to the three characters on the front cover of each release, the time travelling trio who appear on the debut flaying Saint Bartholemew, on the second album hanging Sarah Wildes Averill in Salem and now as lab assistants to Isaac Newton as he tries to discover the secret of Alchemy.” The songs are sinister odes from dark moments in history.

There are seven tracks (four of them over eight minutes long) with an intro piece and an intermission segue. That intro sounds a little like swirling bells and whispering dark witches casting spells. “She Wolves of the Savage Season” then picks up the doom and slams it back down. The frenzy gets really whipped up on “Nature Is The Devil’s Church” with its pressing riffs and pleading vocals. There are also extended guitar passages here, in this song and well distributed throughout where the narrative concepts are given musical form. “Her Master’s Tomb” is almost a Doom ballad while “Devil’s Bane” rips and roars and finishes with a raging shred. The album wraps on a single-length banger, “You Don’t Move Me (I Don’t Give A Fuck)” – they decided to go out swinging with a heavy punk punch. This is an great album, front to back. Highly recommended.

The full album drops on Friday, January 15th and preorders at Bandcamp will get you two tracks now while you wait for the week to end. Metal Blade Records has CDs and vinyl if you want to go that way.

Links.

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

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

Metal Blade Records, https://metalblade.com/dreadsovereign/

Dread Sovereign, Alchemical Warfare (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Deathblow, Insect Politics (Sewer Mouth Records 2020)

Salt Lake City Thrash Metal atomizers have cooked up a searing slab of crooked speed just in time for the holidays.

The band is Holton Grossl (guitar and vocals), Paul LaChica (bass), Rob Larsen (drums), and Adam Kelly (guitar). In 2014 they released Prognosis Negative, a high speed recantation of the extant world. The following year we got an EP, The Other Side Of Darkness. Now there is Insect Politics, which is a little bit of a divergence from the earliest music, heading down the side streets of heavy music while maintaining a cynical attitude. It is still clearly Thrash. The subjects of the songs have the superficial impression of seriousness, but when the band and the first album are named after made-up movies from a TV sitcom, you have to know that this music is about having a good time while you are complaining about the world.

“Brain Bugs” gets things going, and its opening is very dramatic and theatrical, with a ninety second lead-in that is a misdirection for the chaotic hailing that is to come. The lead inserts are blistering and the vocals are frenetic – just like if your brain was filled with scrambling insects. The next track, “Accelerated Decrepitude,” has an almost military persistence to it, and some fantastic bass lines to go along with the wildfire guitars. Every song has a different take on one thing or another and they are all high energy metal.

There is no slowing down, and the turns come hard and fast. The riffs and leads are cleverly arranged, some sounding like a dramatic insurgence and others more like a fire-snorting dragon with a leg cramp. You can read into these songs as much or as little as you like, experiencing whatever level of satire you suits you. The killer music is there and it straight up rips, no matter what your level of social and political engagement. Recommended.

Insect Politics is out today. Bandcamp is the first call for CDs, vinyl, digital, and cassettes. You can have your Thrash any way you like.

Links.

Deathblow Bandcamp, https://deathblow1.bandcamp.com/music

Deathblow Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/deathblowofficial

Sewer Mouth Records, https://www.facebook.com/sewermouthrecords/

Deathblow, Insect Politics (Sewer Mouth Records 2020)

Scour, Black review (Housecore Records 2020)

The trilogy is now complete as Scour releases the final EP in the cycle, Black.

The band Scour is the stuff of dark dreams: Philip H. Anselmo (lead vocals), Derek Engemann (guitar, vocals), John Jarvis (bass, vocals), Mark Kloeppel (guitar, vocals), and Adam Jarvis (drums). These musicians came together in 2015 and started a musical project to be released in three parts. First was Grey (2016), and then Red (2017), and now the final installment has arrived, Black.

The music has a ravaging brutality about it, a dedication to Black Metal and Grindcore principles. “Doom” breaks the silence with sirens, fair warning and a sign that the onslaught is underway. The music is a massive, pulverizing force, directed along by the drums and liberated through vocals and a piercing, succinct lead break. “Nail,” “Propaganda,” and “Flames” pile drive new legendary pillars into the heavy landscape as Anselmo’s voice is joined in chorus, flanked by guitar and with underlay of bass and drum. “Microbes” is a beautiful instrumental track with melancholy violins and a disturbing, increasingly destabilizing piano. The menace builds with bigger strokes and added vocals, leading at the end to “Subprime” – the closer and the final hammer down on the shattering granite.

The band brought in guests Pat O’Brien, Erik Rutan, and, improbably, Jason Momoa for the recording of the last piece of the puzzle. Every element came together in synchrony and synergy. Black is the best end to the trilogy I could imagine. Recommended.

The music is available now at the links below in many forms. Listen to the earlier installments first, then dive into Black.

Band photo by Joseph P. Dorignak IV.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://scourhc.bandcamp.com/album/black-ep

Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/scourband

Label, http://www.thehousecorerecords.com

Label Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/housecorerecords

Scour, Black review (Housecore Records 2020)

Cell Press review (No Funeral Records 2020)

Montreal [*]core band Cell Press venture out with their first EP.

The band Cell Press is only about a year old, but the musicians it is comprised of have been plying their trade for some time. The band is Sean Arsenian, Joey Cormier, Mark McGee, and PQ. If I had to label the music on the self-titled EP, I would call it Punk, but the band does not embrace a particular label and writers are calling them everything from Grindcore to Metalcore to Sludge to Noise so I am going to go with [*]core. Fast, loud, guitar-driven music, sometimes discordant.

There are four songs and a longer track that is referred to as a “noise” piece in the press materials. “Piss Police” is up first and it begins tentatively with thrilling drumming and progressively coagulating guitar riffing, joined later by shouting. “Desert Breath” is like a person running down the street in a flaming halter top who seems to be more concerned about being late than being on fire. “Blacked Out in Verdun” – more great drumming and pensive guitar riffs to twist up the personal cataclysm. “Dead at OACI.” I assume this refers to the Metro Station (but it might not), and it goes from linear, certain riffs to pure mayhem, especially as the end nears. The long track is “My Son Will No the Truth,” clocking in at 11:40 and appearing at the end of the set. It is almost as long as the other for pieces combined. It is the sort of thing you have to just listen to and let happen. Describing it wouldn’t really get us anywhere.

Noisy and enjoyable, I give this Cell Press effort high marks. I am a Punk fan from the beginning, and I hear those roots here, certainly in the attitude, even if the category is technically off. The disenfranchisement is very appealing. Recommended.

You can buy the digital at Bandcamp, No Funeral Records has a cassette and T-shirt, and Ancient Temple Recordings will also be carrying products. Links below. The official release date is this Friday, November 27.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://cellpress.bandcamp.com/releases

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

Ancient Temple Recordings, https://ancienttemplerecordings.bigcartel.com/

No Funeral Shop, https://store.nofuneral.ca/product/cell-press-t-shirt-t-shirt-cassette-bundle

Cell Press review (No Funeral Records 2020)

Ilsa, Preyer review (Relapse Records 2020)

Washington, DC doom metal masters Ilsa unveil their sixth full-length album, bringing feral certainty to a world of indecision.

The first music of Ilsa’s I heard was Corpse Fortress (2018), well into the history of the band. What a great album. The music is Doom Metal in a very active sense, with no dragging or overdrawn moments. It is intense, and I expected the same from the new one, Preyer. It is all that and more.

“Epigraph” has a voiceover for the entire song where a Satanist discusses killing someone as part of what appears to be an interview. This is about Sean Sellers, a convicted murderer, and the album has this notion as its starting point. The music is heavily distorted and begins in the background. By the end of the song the positions are reversed with the voice becoming more distant and the music taking the forefront. “Poor Devil” is next and it is the first step after launch. The fully formed doom vision of the band is instantly in play and there is no looking back.

The pace is variegated but the filling line is not. The vocals on every track sounds like the world depends on the message getting through. The lead work is penetrating and the rhythm sets solid steel railing. The Punk intentions are plainer on some songs, like “Shibboleth,” and on others, like “Mother of God,” Doom lays it hands on heavy and presses hard. The title song is like a mad monk’s manifesto and the closer, “The Square Coliseum,” slides the stone lid over the sarcophagus of ruin in a final, terminal jolt. The place where solace lives is not accessible from this musical world.

Preyer is out this Friday, November 20th. It is a welcome addition to the band’s burgeoning canon. Recommended.

Band photo by Maire O’Sullivan.

Links.

Ilsa Bandcamp, https://ilsa.bandcamp.com/

Ilsa Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/ILSADC

Relapse Records, http://www.relapse.com

Relapse Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

Ilsa, Preyer review (Relapse Records 2020)

Greenwitch, CosmoSteelBlood Trinity review (HPGD 2020)

Directly from outer space to you, Greenwitch lands a heavy Death Metal EP in your lap.

Not much is known about the California metal band Greenwitch apart from their affinity for discord and their yearning for exploration. The band describes the new album this way: “‘CosmoSteelBlood Trinity’ utilizes the classic HM-2 tone along with cosmic noise to convey an epic tale of the aftermath of a power struggle between the 9 Galactic Lords and 3 extradimensional beings.” OK, then. Let’s give this a spin.

“Cellar Dweller” is the first punch to your aural canals and it offers up a grinding squeal for a handshake. Breathy Death Metal vocals cast aspersions on the surroundings while clomping guitars are pilloried by pummeling percussion. It’s beautiful. The music does have a buzzing intergalactic insect tone to it, and that is carried through on the next song, “Parasite Possession,” although there also has a strong groove in the riffs as well. “From Nothing” is Punk in the singing while “To Devour The Flesh Of Worlds” is a march on the field of battle.

The final two songs are a couplet, “Celestial Tomb” and “Conquest Of Thorns.” These songs are the most ominous (and the longest) on CosmoSteelBlood Trinity. Relentless, I would call them, especially the latter. The sinister whispering toward the end is deeply creepy, and the final flourish sounds like an alarm and an impending metallic crash. When this is over, you need to wipe your face. Recommended.

Anticipating its drop on November 20th, you can preorder the album now at the links below.

Links.

HPGD Website, http://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/

HPGD Bandcamp, http://hpgd.bandcamp.com/

HPGD Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/pg/horrorpaingoredeath/posts/

Greenwitch, CosmoSteelBlood Trinity review (HPGD 2020)