July 2014 Rapid Fires

Thursday, 31st July 2014

As the corner begins to turn on summer, we anxiously await the inevitable deluge of fall releases to come. What better way to bide our time than to clear out the perpetual queue here at DR with another 15 short, but oh so sweet (or not so sweet, this is metal after all) reviews for your reading pleasure. This month, we take a glimpse at Abysmal Lord, Athanatos, Cold Colours, Dementia Senex, Dysangelium, Enabler, Fucking Invicible, Gnosis of the Witch, Mutilated Veterans, Necuratul, Ravenscry, Shaven Women, Starblind, Vainaja (pictured above), and Wo Fat.


Abysmal Lord – Storms of Unholy Black Mass (Hells Headbangers)
True to both band name and album title, this debut EP from Louisiana-based Abysmal Lord is a cacophonous and suffocating but of ultra-kvlt black metal. Straddling some unseen line between the worlds of black and death the sound doesn’t really fully embody either, actually sharing a handful of musical themes in common with Paroxsizhem, though largely built around bludgeoning and completely without melodic accompaniment aside from some absolutely searing solos. This is music born of the murk and in truth, it’s rare that I’ve heard anything sound quite so, for lack of a better term, filthy. A release like this isn’t for everyone but for those who traffic with Hells Headbangers regularly, you will find much and more to love in this obscure piece of work. – Matthew Bowling (Abysmal Lord on Facebook)

athanatos unholy

Athanatos – Unholy Union (Iron Bonehead Productions)
Hailing from one of the most epic corners of the world and featuring a particularly fierce and thrashy black/death sound, Athanatos is here and bulldozing its way through absolutely everything on the all-too brief 18 minutes that make up this four-song demo. Crisp but lashed in the black each of these songs, the initial track notwithstanding, get in and out with minimal fuss and heaps of primeval slaughter. Blasts and riffery galore are crammed into facet, nothing wasted in these largely breathless and slamming 18 minutes. As time goes on Athanatos will be a band to keep an eye on, if this Unholy Union ‘demo’ is any indication, they could soon be moving mountains. – Matthew Bowling (Athanatos on Facebook)


Cold Colours – MMXIV (Self-Released)
Only fitting that doom this depressive/oppressive would come from the winter-choked lands of Minneapolis. It’s a fitting environment, and even though Cold Colours pulled a fast one by using the European spelling of the word “colors,” they certainly are in the right surroundings. With Sir Dan Swano handling the mastering duties, MMXIV has three certifiably enjoyable songs, wrapped up in hearty melodies (think Swallow the Sun), along with Novembers Doom’s penchant for dead-set-center clean vocals, as found on the excellent “Terminal Winter.” Pretty top-notch stuff, with Cold Colours doing what most smart bands do: Leave ‘em wanting more. – David E. Gehlke (Cold Colours at Bandcamp)

Dementia Senex-Heartworm

Dementia Senex – Heartworm EP (The Path Less Traveled Records)
This curiously heavy three-track EP from a fairly nascent band hits hard and hits often. Featuring flavors from across the metal spectrum but settling into this kind of post-death hybrid, the intricately constructed songs never feel gratuitous or bloated, even with their length. The title track is especially strong, whether taken as a part of the whole or in its role in closing things out, a work of minimal happiness but primeval catharsis. While “Unscented Walls” takes a bit longer to lift off than the closer, once it does it remains lofty and staggering, the ending almost shocking in its heft. Among the better surprise releases I’ve encountered this year, this is a new group to watch out for in the years ahead. – Matthew Bowling (Dementia Senex on Facebook)


Dysangelium – Leviaxxis (W.T.C. Productions)
Meant as a ‘warm up’ for a full-length to be announced, the young band Dysangelium already seem to be off to a great start with Leviaxxis, their second demo. Three tracks of spiraling dissonance and intriguing melodies, there are also gruff shouted vocals that keep it too far from sounding like every other black metal band. The band mostly sticks to the higher tempos, but there are enough memorable riffs and melodies that nothing ever blurs together or sounds humdrum. If this was just a rehearsal, one can only imagine the devastation that is coming when they take the plunge and release a full-length album. – Kyle McGinn (Dysangelium official website)


Enabler – La Fin Absolue Du Monde (The Compound/Creator-Destructor)
One has to feel a tad sorry for the trio of Enabler, who are forever tied to the fact Fall Out Boy’s drummer was once their sticksman. Granted, such things are of little consequence when the dude (Andy Hurley) can actually play (he can), but you know how the underground works – people will find anything to nitpick. In the case of the band’s second full-length La Fin Absolue Du Monde, they’ve managed to inject a rash of dynamics into a relatively dynamic-less sound, that being crusty d-beat punk/metal. The fertile riff-action going down on “Neglect” is totally mosh-worthy, while the dissonant tremors of “Balance of Terror” and potent punk/thrash of “Linear Existence” don’t f-around. Certainly more of a versatile album than their All Hail the Void debut, that’s for sure. – David E. Gehlke (Enabler at Bandcamp)

fucking invincible

Fucking Invincible – It’ll Get Worse Before It Gets Better (Atomic Action! Recordings)
A combination of powerviolence, hardcore, punk, and even a bit of sludge, It’ll Get Worse Before It Gets Better is an intense listen. Leading the charge are the downright psychotic vocals being screamed with pure vitriol, adding to the mess is the skuzzy and fuzzy guitar tone. This is fast stuff, played with no higher purpose of melody or restraint. With noise being the main focus on an album like this, it takes a certain type of individual to enjoy it to it’s fullest extent, but even non-believers would do well to admire the sheer heaviness of a song like “Inconsistent and Indifferent.” – Kyle McGinn (Fucking Invincible at Bandcamp)

gnosis of the witch

Gnosis of the Witch – Dauðr Burðr Þrysvar (Iron Bonehead)
After about 4 opening minutes of ambience, the spooky, mystical black metal of Gnosis of the Witch takes flight. Some of the eerie leads bring to mind Thantafaxath, but the overwhelming majority of this album consists of garbled screams, blasting drums, and faceless riffs. While the mystical moments are cool (side B is far stronger than side A), it’s not enough to keep the rest of the EP above water. Especially considering almost a quarter of the EP is unnecessary ambience that doesn’t have much business being more than about a minute long. There is some potential here, but it might be worth waiting to see what they can do with a full-length. – Kyle McGinn (Gnosis of the Witch on Facebook)

mutilated veterans

Mutilated Veterans – Necro Crust Warhead (Hells Headbangers)
Opening with a rather ominous intro riff, Mutilated Veterans takes little time to open the floodgates once “War Funeral” begins. Crusty, war-soaked death metal is the name of the game here, and the d-beat approach to death metal is powerful. Unfortunately, even with the rather short MLP approach, the songs end up suffering from a severe case of redundancy. The frequent use of almost identical tempos and one-dimensional growls keep things from being their most vicious, and it takes the band almost the entire album to get back to the power of the initial track, with the bit of groove in closer “Carnage Warfare.” – Kyle McGinn (Mutilated Veterans at Bandcamp)


Necuratul – Sanguine Lupus Graves (Forever Plagued Records)
Necuratul is an old school black metal band that was created by Weird Wolf (Prosanctus Inferi, Black Funeral). Being released on tape, it does have that vintage appeal (read: not the strongest production values) of early black metal with some eerie keyboard atmosphere. Unlike most early black metal though, there is a decent sense of melody here as well as some true song dynamics (as opposed to just blasting away on each track), and while the production is raw, it does not inhibit this from becoming pronounced. Not the most unique album on the planet, but it’s well done for what it is. – Kyle McGinn (Necuratul at Forever Plagued)


Ravenscry – The Attraction of Opposites (Revalve)
The second full length from Italy’s Ravenscry combines modern melodic metal and latter day Soilwork/Fear Factory groove-oriented material to give The Attraction of Opposites as appropriate a record title as one could expect. Giulia Stefani’s gothic and sultry timber brings Sharon from Within Temptation to mind on the emotional “The Witness” and peppy “Living Today”, while the guitars churn away in gothic meets melo-death fashion. Simon Carminati’s progressive meets solid groove drum chops elevates this 13 song effort beyond most, probably best served for those who appreciate catchy hooks and Amaranthe minus the keyboard flood. – Matt Coe (Ravenscry on Facebook)


Shaved Women – Just Death (Ektro)
Here’s a name you won’t forget: Shaved Women. (Wonder how many times someone else has said that…) A St. Louis, MO-based quartet, the band plays a raw, actually VERY raw brand of punk/metal, one that doesn’t require much technical aptitude, but needs some sass and attitude, which Shaved Women has on some level. Because of this, there’s a lot of (purposeful) slopping through Just Death’s nine songs, none of which are capable of leaving much of an impact. Maybe the back alley trudge of the title track is doable, or “Is it Worth It,” which contains what is perhaps the album’s most identifiable riff at the song’s onset. Beyond that, total bar/basement rock, which is fine, for a larger audience may not be in the wings for Shaved Women. – David E. Gehlke (Shaved Women on Facebook)


Starblind – Darkest Horrors (Stormspell)
This Swedish quintet formed in early spring 2013, including a former drummer from Steel Attack in Mike Stark putting down the sticks for microphone duties. Their debut album Darkest Horrors throws down nine traditional metal cuts full of NWOBHM vigor, dual guitar harmonies, and high pitch melody action sure to elicit screams of pleasure from those into a boatload of Iron Maiden circa 1980-1986. Bassist Daniel Tillberg pumps out serious Steve Harris finger action while guitarists Björn Rosenblad and J.J. intertwine twin guitar harmonies and steady hooks. Mirroring “Children of the Damned” meets “Strange World” for your own “Crystal Tears” can be a blessing or a curse if you wish to establish an original sound. Overall, Starblind has talent, but is struggling to assemble their own niche in a proven genre. – Matt Coe (Starblind official website)


Vainaja – Kadotetut (Svart Records)
Kadotetut is a concept album telling the tale of 19th century Finnish cult’s murderous exploits who were later sentenced to death, sung entirely in Finnish of course. Vainaja weave this tale through the use of some crunchy death/doom. Able to handle both higher tempo and funeral doom speeds with ease, they also incorporate some potent atmosphere from time to time. The showstopper here is the sheer number of super heavy, masterful riffs that couple with the punishing low roars, creating a crushing blend that is layered with dark melodies. Add in the Dan Swano mastering job, and this is a definite winning combination. – Kyle McGinn (Vainaja on Facebook)


Wo Fat – The Conjuring (Small Stone Records)
The wheel need not be reinvented every time out and The Conjuring is a beautiful example of why. Stoner/doom/whatever executed in a manner very similar to Kyuss’ seminal Welcome To Sky Valley and bursting with all the flavors of late night desert drives, this five track, 47 minute indulgence is one of the best releases you could hope for in this style and one of the better releases I’ve personally come across this year. Book-ended by its best tracks, with closer ‘Dreamwalker’ stretching out to a psychedelically delicious 17+ minutes, there is little fat even on these oft-lengthy tracks. Honed to a fine point and a blueprint example of how to do this style without leaving a listening numb, The Conjuring scores even more points for the phenomenal cover art. Almost the feel-good hit of the summer, and barring that, at least the most summer-sounding release I’ve indulged all year. – Matthew Bowling (Wo Fat on Facebook)

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