Amigo The Devil, Born Against (2021)

The Murder Folk maestro Amigo The Devil returns to remind us of the woe of reality with Born Against.

Amigo the Devil is Danny Kiranos. In live performances he stands alone on the stage, usually alternating between an acoustic guitar and a banjo to accompany his solitary voice. His music is most often described as Murder Folk because of the subjects he sings about. If you asked me, I would call it Acoustic Doom.

Several EPs have been issued and a couple of compilations came out to gather them up. In 2018 the full-length album Everything Is Fine appeared, and now we have Born Against. The themes Kiranos explores are sometimes unusually graphic in the context of the musical delivery and that aspect will grab your attention. What you stay for, though, is the depth of the feeling conveyed and human story that underlies it all.

Two singles appeared before the album dropped, “Another Man’s Grave” and “Quiet As A Rat.” The former is delivered in beautiful troubadour style and is the perfect example of the juxtaposition I was referring to – the singing and the theme seem at odds. Of course, they really aren’t, are they? That might just be part of the point. In the latter, the Chicago-jazz style gives the song more of a playful background for the violence that is described. The video for this song is truly inspired – drop everything now and watch it on YouTube if you haven’t seen it yet.

You’ll recognize the singles, then, when you listen to the album, but don’t gloss over the rest of the set. My favorites are “Murder In The Bingo Hall” and “24K Casket” in the up-tempo category and “Different Anymore” along with “Shadow” in the more somber lane. Even so, every track is memorable. I recognize something in my life, my history, or myself in every song. Kiranos is giving voice to things we feel but that we choose to hold in silence. It is good to hear it aloud, even if the truth is hard to take.

Born Against is out now. Buy it on Bandcamp or hit the link to the website for Amigo The Devil and there are links to everywhere else there, too. Highly recommended.

Live photo by Wayne Edwards, 2019 Sonic Temple Festival.

Links.

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

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

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

Amigo The Devil, Born Against (2021)

Thunder Horse, Chosen One (Ripple Music 2021)

Following up on the tectonic power of their self-titled debut, the new album from Thunder Horse is both crushing and uplifting, in a planetary resurfacing kind of way.

Stephen Bishop, Todd Connally, Uncle Dave, and Jason West are channeling the spiritual sources of the sound on this album, bringing the elementals to bear. This music is doom metal with a lot of lead guitar work and call-ins from classics in the form as well as Southern rock roots. The combination is fascinating and unique but it is the execution the moves the needle into the red. I hope this band is around forever.

“Let Them Bleed” opens with a single guitar hammering a slow, powerful riff. The guitar solo past the middle could be in song like “Comfortably Numb” as easily as it is here in this doom-laden smasher. “Among The Dead” appropriately slows the pace a bit and wiggles in the sinister. I expected then a charging rampage in the next song, “Rise of the Heathens,” and instead heard a dramatic presentation and an orderly push of the heavy front. There is a charge in there toward the end and the rampage is the ripping solo guitar.

The title track has a very heavy Black Sabbath vibe and delivery, all to the good. It is a stand-out track for me, and so is the rumbling “Halfway To Hell.” “Texas” is a surprise in its quietude and melancholy, and the short piece “Remembrance” is ethereal and transitory, bringing up Southern rock memories. The capper is a cover of “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and now I will never hear that song the same way again. There is also an extended version of “Texas” right at the end. This album is one you are going to listen to over and over. Highly recommended.

The vinyl has been selling fast, reports say, so it might already be too late. There is always a download, and maybe a CD, though. Have a look at Bandcamp or wherever you like to plunk down your money because Chosen One is out now.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/chosen-one

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

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

Thunder Horse, Chosen One (Ripple Music 2021)

Frozen Soul, Crypt Of Ice (Century Media 2021)

The debut LP from Fort Worth metal band Frozen Soul is the merciless application of Old School Death Metal in the creation of a soundtrack for demise.

The band has only been releasing music for a couple years, with two splits, an EP, and a single leading up to Crypt Of Ice. They are OSDM in orientation, and for some reason they remind me a little of Tomb Mold, one of my favorite new(er) bands, except less frenetic and more deliberate. Expect blast beats and heavy rhythm circling the wagons around haunting growls. The band is Chad Green (vocals), Samantha Mobley (bass), Michael Munday (guitar), Matt Dennard (drums), and Chris Bonner (guitar).

The music has a grinding, heavy power to it. There is not a focus of lead breaks and whirling speed. Rather, Doom elements live in the metal here, bringing down the tempo and pushing the relentless riffs into focus. One of my favorite songs on the album is “Merciless,” and it is the perfect example of this, with a plundering, crushing weight towards the end that was set up by fierce first half. The song then leads into “Encased In Ice,” which very much feels like being surrounded by the thick walls of a glacial tomb for almost two minutes before the tempo picks up and stabs an ice pick in your brain. There is a flowing wave here. The wandering musical variegation is not random or haphazard – it is a compositional deliberation on the dark themes brought out in the album. The result is exceptional metal delivered on a frozen silver platter. Recommended.

The new album is out now and available widely from any place that carries Century Media Records products. Also, link below. Lots of versions and merch are out there if you are so inclined. Bandcamp has the earlier EP Encased In Ice if you are interested in that – it is also really good.

Links.

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

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

Century Media, https://www.centurymedia.com/release.aspx?IdRelease=2323

Frozen Soul, Crypt Of Ice (Century Media 2021)

Switchblade Jesus, Death Hymns (Cursed Tongue Records 2020)

Switchblade Jesus lets the aggression run rampant on Death Hymns.

My frame of reference for the Corpus Christi trio Switchblade Jesus is their 2013 self-titled album (later released by Ripple Music in 2015). That music leans heavy into the Stoner and Doom tracks, with an often bluesy and desert lilt. Great album. Death Hymns is much faster in overall pace, and harsher, having a noisier, Death Metal feel to it. The band is Eric Calvert (guitar and vocals), Chris Black (bass), and Jonathon Elizondo (drums, percussion, and synth).

First two tracks leap out at you with open antagonism, breaching any sense of security you might have had going in. “Scorched” has an ambient hum that is threatening enough at its start and, a minute in, the power kicks up. Paired with “Red Plains,” we are served a continuous front of sharp punches and heavy pushes. The next two songs draw from the Doom well, even with “Behind The Monolith” opening on a tear and riding it for the first half of the track. “Death Hymns” is introspective and infused with echoes.

The last three songs find the fuel to keep the rage going. “Forgotten” is heavy and doomy in the riffs, filled with harsh vocals, and mined by narrative captures. “Behemoth” is a roaring banger that holds a dark and sinister whirring lead break for the end. “The Blackened Sun” closes the show, and here the vocalizations reach farther than seems reasonable. This album is very different from the band’s earlier long-player, and all the shifts and moves land perfectly. Highly recommended.

The digital version of Death Hymns is available now, as is the CD. Vinyl starts to flow late in January and can be preordered now from Cursed Tongue Records directly or through Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://switchbladejesus.bandcamp.com/album/death-hymns

Website, https://switchbladejesus.net/

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

Cursed Tongue Records, https://cursedtonguerecords.bigcartel.com/

Switchblade Jesus, Death Hymns (Cursed Tongue Records 2020)