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.


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

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

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Pillaging Villagers, Pillaging Villagers (2022)

Toxic Ruin, Nightmare Eclipse (M-Theory Audio 2021)

The sophomore album from Wisconsin’s Toxic Ruin is a relentless inculcation of maniacal Death and Thrash Metal.

From its beginning, Toxic Ruin put everything out like the world was riding on the outcome. Their first album, Subterranean Terror, was released in 2016 and it was a swinging heavy hammer that could dislodge any passivity or derelict insolence. An EP followed in 2018 an now Nightmare Eclipse is an all new gargantuan menace. The band is Stephen Behrendt (vocals and bass), Jacob Baneck (guitar), Blake Toltzmann (guitar), and David Miller (drums).

There are eight tracks plus a bonus ninth on Nightmare Eclipse. A blistering pace is set with the opener, “Until Everything Is Gone.” As fast as physics allows, the song runs through stalwart old school manifestations and plucks them up with incredibly precise executions. Stephen Behrendt’s vocals are a rampaging beast all their own, uncontained by any convention from the beginning to the end. “Ritual Rebirth” takes the baton and presses the ideas further, segue to the ripping single “Defiler,” a song to make your head spin and your ears ring into next week. These first fifteen minutes are an overwhelming display.

Toxic Ruin has amazing, insistent pace but the music isn’t just about speed. The compositions seek clever ways around and into places others have not tread. The pushing rhythm section and battering percussion lay the groundwork for engaging and unexpected lead guitar journeys and explosions.

The feeling of darkness and horror grips you on songs like “Voices Of Death” and “It Of The Horrid Storm” even with the latter’s more measured tempo. On “Liquor Blood Bound” there is pure adrenaline and “Nightmare Eclipse” has a more theatrical construction. Set aside your expectations and accept that Toxic Ruin is going to shake you up. Recommended.

Nightmare Eclipse is out this Friday, August 27th from M-Theory Audio. Links below.


Bandcamp, https://toxicruin.bandcamp.com/album/nightmare-eclipse-2

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/toxicruin.metal

M-Theory Audio, https://www.m-theoryaudio.com/

Toxic Ruin, Nightmare Eclipse (M-Theory Audio 2021)