A Varied Cornucopia of Metal
Join me on a journey through the varied wilderness, the unchartered terrain of the all the metal universe has to offer*.
*Some conditions apply, not available in all states, my opinion is mine and therefore not up for debate, not ‘all’ will be covered this is merely a convenient term to promote intrigue and wonderment.
To start things off
Psygnosis – Neptune
April / 28/2017
Psygnosis Official Site
Not to be confused with the video game/software company, from the 90’s, with the same name, Psygnosis have been making waves in the metal scene out of France since 2009. Although comparably young theirs is a style that has recently transmuted from a progressive/Industrial death metal to an instrumental industrial/ progressive soundscape that offers the listener much to comprehend. Complete with cello this is a powerful release indeed, it boasts moments of beauty, ferociousness and the odd tranquil passage to break the album up nicely, this makes for a rich tapestry that not many other albums can claim.
Phrase 7 starts off the album as a fantastic introduction to the varied style on offer. Twelve minutes in length it recalls a style close to Apocalyptica’s as well as Gojira and a definite melodic sensibility very often found in both the thrash and melodic death realms. A cello accompanies the guitar and drum (machine?) melodies better than one might fathom inciting an aura that’s powerful, euphoric and truly impressive.
Psygnosis is Shit (an odd choice for a moniker, right?) is another track that offers more of the same unique atmosphere though slightly shorter in length it still transcends what one might expect from a release without vocals. If truth be told I’m usually very weary of albums san vocals, but this one is outstanding, cathartic at times and epic (well over an hour in length) yet manages to hold the attention throughout.
Highly recommended for those that chose to occasionally open their minds to something fresh, diverse and even at times oddly relaxing.
Burning Shadows – Truth in Legend
Independent (a successful crowd funded release)
A teaser to get the noggin bobbin’
Any fan of Three Inches of Blood will devour this album. If that’s not enough prompting, for their earlier catalogue is a must own in my opinion, then I will continue as to the reasoning why. Burning Shadows encapsulate a style many have tried to hone (wait for it) unsuccessfully, a wicked hybrid of heavy metal, speed/thrash run through with definite NWOBHM influence without the falsetto vocal range that does naught but make my skin crawl (Sorry haters, I can only listen to King Diamond for a track or two before my ears start to hurt!). I can listen to Rhapsody all day if it wasn’t for the cadence and shrill notes coming from the vocalist’s throat, Sabaton are slightly better but in all honesty Burning Shadows offer what fans of Three Inches have been yearning for ever since their split (I cried for days!) Naturally Tom Davy doesn’t quite compare to Cam Pipes (best name for a vocalist award goes to…) but who does, Bruce Dickinson or Dio of course they have legendary status this goes without mentioning.
Think Manowar mixed with Three inches of Blood (I’ll mention them at least ten more times in this article, be warned. They’re just that damn good!), Iron Maiden, Blitzkrieg and Satan (who are both still around close to forty years later producing some very wicked tunage that still holds up) and as if that wasn’t enough the tracks are all epic in length, drenched in melody without once dipping into the “donkey noddin’” (that head twitch/spastic jerk movement when you fall asleep without really wanting to) realms of boredom. The last track clocks in at over twelve minutes. I only wish I could mention a favorite track, it’s very difficult as all are uber-impressive. However, The Blessed is a tad different than most, a ballad of sorts you might say (blessedly short, that was a pun!) which is alright only in this instance as the remainder of the album far surpasses top notch quality
Call this fist pounding metal, call it arena metal (on second thoughts let’s not!) call it vintage. Give it whatever moniker you like but one things for sure this is stellar material that warrants more spins than your audio player and neighbors will care for, fuck em’! Break out the denim and studs, worship at the altar of traditional metal and prepare for a workout. Your neck will be sore in the morning.
Hive – Parasitic Twin (vinyl and cassette only)
Crown and Throne Ltd.
Crown and Throne LTD on bandcamp for a teaser
Hailing from Minneapolis Hive are a four piece that meld Swedish D-beat (I’m still not sure exactly what this really is), crust (I have an idea what this is. Disrupt are a band I often turn to when I need to unwind viciously) and what is often called Pacific Northwestern dark hardcore.
The album starts with a wallop grabbing the listener’s attention with its cloying darkness, grittiness and dark punk leanings. Morgan Carpenter adds to the overall vibe impeccably by rasping lyrics with spite as if from the deepest depths of a life-long tobacco user’s lungs.
Gated Community is an early standout displaying influence from a variety of genres it stampedes at a fantastic pace pleasing fans of the hardcore arena with the occasional gang vocal and rhythms that might well incite a riot. (be warned small venues!)
Foot Binding takes a while to get up to speed, an unexpected track length to be honest (over seven minutes) in an album of this ilk, but when it does it stylistically reminds me of an old favorite – Pro-Pain. Whilst other tracks offer more atmosphere many rely more on the ‘denseness’ and punk riffage that’s often associated with the crust side of the extreme metal spectrum.
Like many tracks found here Acephalite burns with a punk edge slathered in hardcore influence another slab of impressive to add to a growing list of tunage that could well be the soundtrack to an impending disaster.
Common Ancestor is another standout that proudly offers a diverse mixture of styles leaning slightly towards the industrial arena although progressive tones are also to be found here, albeit sparingly mixed with grim atmosphere.
Overall an album that could well sate urges that aren’t covered by death and black metal means, an album blanketed by a familiar style tainted with punk influence, remarkably addicted melodies and an even darker edge.
Virvum – Illuminance
Hands up. Flash quiz (damn I the these, I always get nervous and forget everything, even my own name). What is Switzerland famous for? Chocolate? A Treasury? A land mass that would comfortably fit in Shaq’s pant pocket? In truth, a great many things (seriously?) none of which have anything remotely to do with rock or even metal music. But then came along Virvum. As if materializing out of the ether, a hyper technical/progressive death outfit comprising of only a few releases (two singles and one full length) since their inception ten years ago. So how can this be? I’ll suggest a singular reason. It takes time to compose with such utter brilliance as is captured within Illuminance.
Much like Necrophagist’s material the style is technically astounding, at times hard to fathom in its complexity though always awe inspiring, mesmerizing in its texture, depth and composure. Bryan Berger (also in Ashcloud) growls for our pleasure and his style doesn’t feel out of sync with the music in the slightest, odd that people still inform me “I don’t like that growling shit!” Fuck em’! I’ve always classed the vocalist’s ability to contort his voice in such a way as another instrument, it isn’t easy to do contrary to popular belief, that only adds to the complexity of the overall sound.
The Cypher Supreme eases the listener into the style gently whilst tracks like Ad Rigorem and Tentacles of the Sun offer an immersion into a style of musical prowess that is quite simply indecipherable within composed track structure that’s beyond commendable.
I’m at a loss for words, it isn’t as rare as it may seem, this is a must listen and an experience that must be shared, in the band’s own words …”A journey to a place where timelessness reigns and nature blooms in strangest colors; A heavenly place far beyond comprehensible perception.” – N. Gruhn (Guitars)
How is it that these guys are, as yet, unsigned? Unique Leader is one of the forerunners of the genre, fingers crossed they come to their collected senses.
Madrost hail from Orange county (CA) where they’ve been thrashin’ about since 2007. It’s taken them a little time to get out of the starting gate to attain recognition however, having only released three full lengths following a slew of demos and an EP entitled Infected Chaos.
It doesn’t take but a moment for the listener to realize what they’re in for one hell of a spastic, breakneck, paced experience. Eyes of Deceit show Madrost take thrash to another level, adding progressive themes (think Death, the band not the genre!) and technical prowess throughout for an altogether different listening sojourn that many might expect from an album under the thrash umbrella (it’s huge and only getting bigger with a recent resurgence in the scene).
Chuggery is a staple in the genre that’s found throughout TEoTMnF, no surprise really, but tempo changes are appreciatively rampant and precise, rhythm variations delight and hold the listener captivated, melodies refuse to remain representatively stagnant what many deem stereotypical of the scene.
The Silence in Ruins is a standout very early on, a silly fast pace and precise riffing dare you to stay still, to be honest I’m not really a fan of the thrash genre but this album is impressive and very addictive. This is certainly not a release I could listen to whilst driving. I would most certainly look like a fool trying my damnedest to stay in my lane as my vision turns cloudy as my dash receives a pounding.
Recommended from start to finish Madrost have certainly delivered with this release and demand respect. Keep an eye out for this album folks. You won’t be disappointed especially if you prefer your metal fast, intricate, technical and addictive sans grunts, blast beats and brutality.
Gurt – Skullossus
When Planets Collide
Use this only as a teaser, it’s important to support the scene!
At first glance I thought this album didn’t look too appealing. The artwork suggests comedy values and a gothic presence with a cheesy edge (Jabberwocky the earliest of entry from the Monty Python catalog came to mind). The track list comes across as humorous also, titles such as Meowing at the Fridge, Battlepants and The Crotch Wobbler peak my interest as admittedly I’m tad juvenile. So, I’m left wondering is this another Crotch Duster type release? If you haven’t delved into the wonderful world of their brand of metal insanity, I suggest you take a peek, a listen, but only if you possess a very open mind. You have been warned! http://www.darklyrics.com/lyrics/crotchduster/bigfatboxofshit.html
Back to the release in question.
Gurt have been around since 2010, the only remaining original member is the vocalist, Gareth “Growth” Kelly perhaps it’s the work rate that retires the members early as Gurt’s discography is lengthy, however only two full lengths have been released during this time, Skullossus being the second.
The introduction, Welcome to the Shit Show could well have ramifications as to any listener’s immediate thoughts on the album. But fear not, it suffices to entice intrigue and digit to stray away from the stop button. The second track works excellently as an introduction to Gurt’s style (It’s a first time for me!) Distorted riffs ooze lazily from the speaker to suffocate the listener in unexpected groove. “Growth” adds to the overall muddiness of the style with his unique growl somewhere between that utilized in Grindcore and the style heard in the output of Green Jello (can I still say that or will I get sued by the mighty horseshoe boiling conglomerates?) at times it also reminds me of Phil Anselmo’s work, outside of Pantera. The album progresses to prove my initial thoughts correct. Sludge and comedy play well together, plenty of slapped groove passages enable the enjoyment level to far surpass that which I originally thought could be possible.
Beavis and Butthead even make an appearance (I’m still a fan. I mentioned I had a juvenile sense of humor, right) to inject a modicum of silliness into the proceedings. As if that wasn’t enough to tickle your curious bone John Gar See Ya Later utilizes a sax and Hawkwind (“fuzzy” progressive sci-fi) stylings. But wait, there’s more. The Ballad of Tom Stones … boasts another element to the Gurt rostrum. More of a growl becomes apparent in “Growth’s” voice as too a dirgey doomy quality to the sound. This is death doom folks another level entirely to an already surprisingly listenable album.
Gurt proves that you should rarely take an album’s art for an indication of what lies within. I’m a fan based on a single listen. The band delivers a style of metal I can whole heartedly get into whilst also offering a tongue in cheek element, that isn’t overworked, which I’m always down for.
Try this on for size, expand your listening horizon.
That’s about it for this instalment folks. I can hear my dearest daughter screaming, in her cutest Nell impersonation, for my attention in the background . And the wife. Well. you honestly don’t want to know what she desires, it truly boggles the mind.
-Cult (You can find Cult on twitter talking about gore, metal, and tr00 br00tality.)