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)

Balothizer, Cretan Smash review (Louvana Records 2020)

The sophomore album from Balothizer is a heavy fusion of folk music from Crete and sturdy metal influences making the title of the set spot on.

The band is Pav Mav (bass and vocals), Nikos Ziarkas (electric lute), and Steve J. Payne (drums). The band explains that their music for the new album starts with “Cretan folk songs, either for their melodies, historic and regional idioms, potent lyrics, rhythms, patterns or dances” and combines or transforms them into modern metal fusion pieces. This is somewhat different from the approach of their first album in that the new one is heavier, utilizing an electric lute (that’s right) rather than acoustic executions. The result is astonishing.

This music is not like Folk Metal you hear from Scandinavia. It is more in the lane of System of a Down, but Balothizer’s approach is more deeply rooted in the tunes and rhythms of the traditional music they are celebrating. The application of modern instruments and sound does not separate from the roots but it does grow a different branch. The attitude and posture is punk while the reverence for the underlying traditional music is never trampled.

“Jegaman” leaps at you with a fierce speed and relentlessness that grabs your attention immediately. “Peace” emerges slowly with percussion and an echoed voice, then the electric lute kicks in and we are off to a different place. “Aleppo” is the noisiest track, brimming with angular musical leverage and clanking assertions. And then a song like “Anathema” has a quiet beginning, a melancholy feel that evolves over its ten minute path into a bigger, louder call. All of these separate approaches are necessary to complete the full message of the album. The music is very different compared to most other heavy acts – it is a refreshing and welcome listen. Recommended.

Cretan Smash is out now. Check out the available versions at the label link below. Also Bandcamp.

Band photo by Andreas Christophides.

Links.

Band Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Balothizer

Bandcamp, https://balothizer.bandcamp.com/album/cretan-smash

Label, https://www.louvanarecords.com/store#!/Balothizer/

Balothizer, Cretan Smash review (Louvana Records 2020)

Violent Life Violent Death, The Color of Bone review (Innerstrength Records 2020)

The new VLVD release roars with a creepy dankness and shakes the mystic tree of hoary lore with the reckless violence of a terminal necromancer.

Violent Life Violent Death have released four EPs (counting the new one) since 2016. Centered in Charlotte, North Carolina, the band is David Holquin (drums), Joe Benham (guitar), Scott Cowan (vocals), Joey Park (guitar), and Justin Campbell (bass). They play hardcore metal that lies on the metal side (to my ear) with deep set hooks and a penetrating progressiveness.

The new one has five songs, all in the three minute range. “Grave Walk” gets things going with a chunky clank and battering percussion. It’s companion piece, “Dead With Me,” is more explicitly dramatic, even theatrical. It has a breaking-down-the-fourth-wall fierceness as Cowan’s voice seems to reach out to the listener individually – “I wish you were dead with me.”

“Roseblade’ is the epitome of punch. The darkness you feel listening to it is a claustrophobic cloak that is a circular orchestra surrounding your head. The echoey second-line voices and the marching chop of the guitars in the second half is mesmerizing. “Linger” is discordant at the front, tipping you, dizzy, into the final piece, “The Color of Bone.” Here you are lead into a knowable space and shown a fundamental truth. Sometimes it is worth hearing what we already know stated aloud. And here it is.

You can get The Color Of Bone this Friday, October 30th from Innerstrength Records through Bandcamp and all the usual other places. You can hear “Roseblade” now, and Spotify has a couple of the band’s other EPs available, so listen up in anticipation. It is an great set. Recommended.

Band photo by Justin Driscoll.

Links.

VLVD Bandcamp, https://violentlifeviolentdeath.bandcamp.com

VLVD shop, https://violentlifeviolentdeath.bigcartel.com/

VLVD Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/violentlifeviolentdeath

Label website, https://www.innerstrengthmusic.com

Label Bandcamp, https://innerstrengthrecords.bandcamp.com

Label Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/innerstrengthrecords

Violent Life Violent Death, The Color of Bone review (Innerstrength Records 2020)

Isotope, Isotope Compilation review (Carbonized Records 2020)

Isotope brings it all together with a round-up of their four recent releases in one tight package of mind mashing aggression.

The compilation includes the 2019 self-titled full-length LP, 2017’s Wake Up Screaming EP, the Midnight Soldier seven-inch from 2015, and the debut demo Final Wind Of Mercy (2014). It will get you up to speed in one slam. The band credits are Chuck “Zone Tripper” Franco (vocals), Nick “Sikki Nikki” Cantu (guitar), Paul “Bazzy” Capito (bass), Clint “Clza” Baechle (drums), Kristen “K.P.” Payne (guitar on the recent two releases), and Scootch (guitar on the first two releases).

If you don’t know about Isotope yet, this collection is the way to find out. They are known as a hardcore punk band made up of musicians well oiled in the scene and looking for another outlet for their energy. From the very beginning they were mixing genres with big riffs and blistering leads you expect to hear in more straight-stream metal acts. The singing has the attitude and perspective of punk, and at the same time emanates expressions varying into other bandwidths.

The collection is arranged with the newest music first so I suggest you listen to it backwards to see how the band has changed in the six years it has been working together as Isotope. Final Wind Of Mercy is a demo in name only – everything is well in place in this debut. Midnight Soldier has a cleaner production sound while maintaining the raging chaos. Wake Up Screaming brings a brittleness and sharper slice to the compositions, and the newest, Isotope, is a ranging machine of punk and metal terrorizing the landscape. Highly recommended for longtime fans and newcomers alike.

This compilation is out now on a limited edition cassette of 100 copies. There is also a download-only version available at Bandcamp if you miss out on the physical.

Band photo by Carlos Garcia.

Links.

http://www.facebook.com/isotopehardcore

https://isotopehardcore.bandcamp.com/

http://www.facebook.com/Carbonized-Records

https://carbonizedrecords.bandcamp.com/album/isotope-compilation

Isotope, Isotope Compilation review (Carbonized Records 2020)