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)

Hammr, Eternal Possession (Hells Headbangers 2022)

Hammr returns to its roots with Eternal Possession, and at the same time gets back to basics.

There was an EP titled Hammr released in 2015 that started to capture the rowdy emanations that had been percolating for a while. Unholy Destruction (2018) was the debut long-player and it was a monster. Now we have Eternal Possession. Like the earlier work, the new album is the singular province of “JH” who started it all in the mid-twenty-teens. The label says that on this new album “each of these nine sick ’n’ sleazy slices of minimal-is-maximal crush just steamroll the listener with preternatural ease.” That sounds like a good selling point.

On “Forces of Sin” the vocals sound like they are emanating from another dimension. There is a furious pounding pace that is happening in a closed environment, as if you are being pummeled while seated in a chair. It is claustrophobic and upsetting. “Ritual Desecration” is next, and it is out there, too. It has an excessive aggression to it that I like a lot. Very punk, very thrashy.

“Seeping Chalice” is an entirely different beast with a motorizing kind of muscle. And then you have songs like “Negative Fury,” which is not only the longest track but is also relentlessly oppressive in its battering. If the metric is crush factor, then every track breaks the needle.

My favorite song might be the title number. It seems like an explanation of everything to me, a recounting and a declaration of what the music is all about. It is a roaring, smashing encumbrance of your senses that pushes straight into your brain. I am really glad I heard this album – it makes me want to dig deeper. Recommended.

Eternal Possession is out on Friday, February 11th through Hells Headbangers on CD, tape, and digital. Vinyl to follow. Check out the label’s website or punch the Bandcamp link below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://hammr-us.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-possession

Hells Headbangers website, http://www.hellsheadbangers.com/

Hammr, Eternal Possession (Hells Headbangers 2022)

Slowbleed, A Blazing Sun, A Fiery Dawn (Creator-Destructor 2022)

The debut long-player from the hardcore hadron collider Slowbleed menaces your senses.

According to documented sources, the band “formed with a goal of achieving unrelenting extremity, bridging brutality and technicality within their blend of hardcore aggression and death metal precision.” That gives you a good idea of what is happening on A Blazing Sun, A Fiery Dawn – a place to start, at least. The band is Jon Caytion (vocals), Logan Givan (guitar), John Laux (guitar), Ozzy Parilla (bass), and Tyler Castro (drums).

I heard this music in blocks – my brain just organized it that way. “No Shepherd (Of Wolves)” is a blasting, blistering rampage. It is a greasing grind, if that is possible. The raking vocals and mystical guitar flourishes hold their ground amid the earth-turning rhythm section. I wish that song didn’t have to end. Its immediate predecessor, “Hung At Dawn,” casts a long shadow of gloom at the outset then walks right into it with savage chops. To seal it all, “The Law (Atonement Through Blood)” throws in an 80s callback to spice the walloping trounce. These three are a jarring triplet and they clung together in my mind, unbreakable.

A similar coalescence happened with “Driven By Fire” and “Graves (Pours Of The Earth).” Tied together with the transitional element “Diliculum,” a small suite naturally emerges. To me, then, each song has its own identity, and the entire set has a more nuanced self as a whole. The little legions are in there too, fitting in while being their own thing. The rousing aggression of this songs and the clarity of composition pushes the music to a level well above the rabble. There is no pressure valve here, just the steady flow of heavy music presenting itself for the world to see. Recommended.

Digital and vinyl versions are out on Friday, January 14th through Creator-Destructor Records. Links below.

Links.

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

Creator-Destructor Records, http://creator-destructor.com/

Slowbleed, A Blazing Sun, A Fiery Dawn (Creator-Destructor 2022)

Suicidal Tendencies, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 11, 2021

Mike Muir brought along a couple of new musicians for the set in Danville – see if you can spot them. It is always great to hear a little metal and punk smashed together.

All photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Website, http://www.suicidaltendencies.com/

YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/user/suicidaltendencies

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

Blue Ridge Rock Festival coverage at Ryze-Up magazineBlue Ridge Rock Festival 2021 – (ryze-up.com)

© Wayne Edwards.

Suicidal Tendencies, Blue Ridge Rock Festival, Danville, Virginia, September 11, 2021

Heads For The Dead, Slash ‘N’ Roll (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Heads For The Dead veer off their usual path into straight-up horror with their new EP Slash ‘N’ Roll.

Heads For The Dead is a band with an international cast, hailing from Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands. The musicians are veterans of the heavy music scene who have come together for this project and have released two previous records, Serpent’s Curse (2018) and Into The Red (2020). The music they create has always had a strong horror and cinematic angle so this new EP might be seen as inevitable. The players are Jonny Pettersson (guitars, bass, and keys), Ralf Hauber (vocals), and Ed Warby (drums).

Slash ‘N’ Roll has three original songs and two covers, all horror-themed. “Maniac” is a playful punk tune cast for a broad audience. “Halloween” begins with John Carpenter’s classic theme from the movie and takes off from there. There is more death metal content in this song than the first but there is still plenty of punk in the corners here, too, along with the recurrence of the cinematic theme. “The Thing” continues the movie title motif and is suitably otherworldly, not to mention ethereal. It also includes a short dialogue capture from the film.

The covers are “Skulls,” originally by the Misfits, and the Ramones’ horror movie theme song “Pet Sematary.” The main beats are there and the songs are recognizable, but there is a profound Heads For The Dead stamp on these renditions. While it might be tempting to think of this set as a disposable one-off, I believe instead that it will become a much sought-after collector’s item in the physical forms. These tunes are a lot of fun for metalheads and they are hitting the street at the exact right time of year. Recommended.

Slash ‘N’ Roll dropped early, on Halloween, so it is out now. Links are below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://headsforthedead.bandcamp.com/album/slash-n-roll-horror-death-metal

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

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

Heads For The Dead, Slash ‘N’ Roll (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Fucked Up, Year of the Horse (Tankcrimes 2021)

The new album from storied Canadian hardcore/punk band Fucked Up is a massive treatise of all-encompassing heavy music effluence.

The musicians (from the band’s Bandcamp page) are Damian Abraham, Jonah Falco, Mike Haliechuk, Ben Cook, Sandy Miranda, and Josh Zucker. There is a lot going on here with this band. Twenty years and more than eighty (!) recordings in, they are still innovating and exploring. Let’s stick to the “Year Of” albums from Tankcrimes to maintain a little focus.

Year of the Dragon (2014) and Year of the Snake (2017) both feature an extended primary track along with one or two shorter ancillaries. As the titles indicate, these albums are part of an “ongoing series celebrating the Chinese Zodiac.” The story that rolls through the albums covers a lot of ground and that is perhaps the point. The music also travels quite a winding path. Given the length of these compositions, it is unsurprising that they present multiple musical expressions ranging from hardcore to classical, loud and raging to quiet and lilting.

Year of the Horse is a single track that runs over ninety minutes cut up in four pieces (Acts). The four segments function very much (in my ears) like movements in long pieces of classical music. It is not only that each one of them is different compared to the others, they also have individually different variations in each local environment. There are differences in the differences, you might say.

With such a lengthy musical expression, you have to figure you are going to miss something by sampling here and there because sampling means skipping. Resist the temptation. There are parts of each Act that I like especially but I am unlikely to skip to them when listening again because it would seem truncated to me if I did. Certainly the first time you listen you have to go from beginning to end without a pause. Heavy music fans, harken: set aside an hour and a half to discover where this album finds you. It is worth it. Recommended.

The digital version of Year of the Horse has been out for a while and you can pre-order the CD and vinyl versions now at the Tankcrimes store for anticipated September and December ship dates, respectively.

Band photo by Natalie Wood.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://fuckedup.bandcamp.com/album/year-of-the-horse

Fucked Up website, https://www.fuckedup.cc/

Tankcrimes Records, http://www.tankcrimes.com/

Fucked Up, Year of the Horse (Tankcrimes 2021)

Despise You, West Side Horizons (Tankcrimes 2021)

Tankcrimes issues West Side Horizons, a massive compilation from Inglewood power violence band Despise You.

Founded by Phil Vera and Chris Elder in 1994, Despise You had a major impact on the hard music scene. Lasting only a couple of years, the band released a slew of split 7s and compilations featuring their brand of aggression and anger operationalized in musical expression.

This collection is vast, including songs from splits with Crom, Supression, Scapegoat, and Stapled Shut, plus cuts from compilations and sixteen previously unreleased tracks. All of this music was recorded between 1994-1996 and bits and pieces are floating around out there in the ether. Having it all together in one tight package is boon to fans and collectors.

If you haven’t heard Despise You before then get ready for shrieking anger and spinning kicks. Only twelve of the sixty two tracks are over one minute long so listening to all of them in a row is a shock to the system. It is a shock worth taking.

I could do a track-by-track on this but it is better if you just listen to it – it is quicker to listen to some of them than to read a description of them. Hit up the first track, “Culpa Mia,” and see if it is for you. Then go from there. Brutal percussion and rhythm, screaming, shrieking, belligerence, and bad attitudes. That’s what you will find. My favorite song is “Puppet.” So there. Recommended.

The drop date for this big set is Friday, August 6th from Tankcrimes. There are CD and LP versions.

Photo by Anthony Mehlhaff.

Links.

CD, https://tankcrimes.merchtable.com/tankcrimes-music/cd/despise-you-west-side-horizons-cd/

Vinyl, https://tankcrimes.merchtable.com/tankcrimes-music/vinyl/despise-you-west-side-horizons-vinyl-lp

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

Despise You shop, https://despiseyou.bigcartel.com/

Tankcrimes Records, http://www.tankcrimes.com/

Despise You, West Side Horizons (Tankcrimes 2021)

Pray U Prey, The Omega Kill (Selfmadegod Records 2021)

The Omega Kill is the sophomore album from British hardcore Death Metal band Pray U Prey.

Pray U Prey formed in 2014, producing an EP almost immediately and their debut long-player, Figure The 8, three years later. You could hang a lot of labels on their music – hardcore, punk, crust, grindcore, death metal – but what you need to know is it’s loud, fast, and outrageous. The band is Shrew (vocals), Simon G (guitar), Colin (drums), and Shrub (bass).

There are twelve songs on the new album, every one of them a hammer to the head. “Earth Roulette Wheel” opens with a sweet capture from an old movie about the generosity of man and the plenty of nature that is quickly trampled under the relentless battering of the band’s instruments and the craggy growling of Shrew. “Hidden in Plain Sight” is next and it skips the intro, choosing instead to drop 65 seconds calamitous thrubbing onto your personal space. There is no time to take a breath before “Life Without Reflection” – my favorite from the set – pushes your face in the dirt.

With the shortest pieces, it is a straight-through clacking sprint to the end. When the song goes on a little longer, there is a pace change and shift in riff structure, usually. On songs with slower movements like “Active Suppression” and “Living Library,” the music focuses on doomy ideas in between the flailing and thrashing. So there is a lot of different ideas bandied about on the album. Through it all, aggression and persistent presentations of adrenaline are the mainstays. This one definitely inflames. Recommended.

The Omega Kill is available on Friday, August 6th through Selfmadegod Records. You can snap it up on CD or digital at Bandcamp.

Links.

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

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

Selfmadegod Records, https://selfmadegod.com/

Pray U Prey, The Omega Kill (Selfmadegod Records 2021)