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CRUCIAL BLAST WEBSTORE: NEW ARRIVALS FOR TUESDAY AUGUST 11TH 2015

    So much strange stuff to share with you this week. First and foremost is the latest from Filipino chaos metallers Deiphago, whose latest album Into The Eye of Satan felt like an IED detonating the first time I blasted it here at C-Blast headquarters. Hell, it still does. Produced by Colin Marston of Gorguts/Krallice/Behold The Arctopus fame, Eye is an interesting new chapter in this bestial, blackened death metal outfit's twenty-five year career. Long heralded as one of the most lethal bands to follow in the wake of legendary Ross Bay maniacs Conqueror, Deiphago's music has been some of the most intense and chaotic to come out of this bile-splattered corner of the black/death underground, with bizarre song structures, extreme discordant riffing and traces of filthy black ambience and industrial screech that come together to create an unhinged, ultra-violent assault upon the listener's senses. These guys have been producing some of the craziest stuff that I've heard from the black/death field, up there with the likes of Revenge and Hellvetron in terms of sheer inchoate violence. But with their new album, Deiphago warp their sound into something even more abrasive, with a bizarre, counter-intuitive approach to guitar solos, riffing and song structures that makes this one of the more unusual black/death albums to appear this year. If you thought previous albums like Filipino Antichrist and Satan Alpha Omega were chaotic, wait till you hear this. There's stuff on this album that sounds like Last Exit-era Sonny Sharrock on bath salts, crazed and transcendent blasts of total Satanic chaos that have made this one of my favorite extreme metal albums of 2015, and absolutely worth checking out if you're a fan of the more ferociously fucked-up fringes of sulfuric black/death metal.

    Some of the other new, recently released and newly added titles that are featured on this list include:

     ...the brand new Gnaw Their Tongues album Abyss Of Longing Throats out on Crucial Blast, the first album in three years from this Dutch black industrial metal monstrosity
     ...the vinyl edition of Aria Of Vernal Tombs from medieval-influenced porgressive black metallers Obsequiae
     ...a windswept album of dark and dolorous Western prog-sludge and twangy post-rock beauty from Idre
     ...a reissue of the classic improv jazz/rock masterwork Iron Path from the mighty Last Exit
     ...a new LP of punishing droning mega-sludge from British bass/drums duo Ghold, Of Ruin
     ...the new album Moros from operatic prog-crust band Eye Of Nix
     ...ferocious new industrial black metal from Diabolicum, featuring new singer Kvarforth from Shining
     ...a new CD reissue of weirdo Japanese doomdeath obscurity Ether For Scapegoat from Transgressor
     ...the new vinyl reissue of Bell Witch's crushing Demo 2011, the first release from these titanic bass/drums-driven funeral doom masters
     ...gorgeous new vinyl reissues of the back catalog for Swedish progressive death metal legends Edge Of Sanity
     ...the latest blast of mutant death metal/slam gore/breakcore mayhem from Himiko
     ...the debut album of pummeling, concussive Fudge Tunnel-esque industrial-tinged sludge rock from Meatwound
     ...the latest album of sludgy, heavy-duty dub/prog/post-rock crush from Metallic Taste of Blood
     ...an amazing new album of avant-garde gothic doom from ÖXXÖ XÖÖX , featuring members of Whourkr
      ...the latest slab of fucked-up quasi-black metal psychosis from Boston-based necro-mutant Cryostasium, akin to the surreal dissonance of Striborg/Xasthur but immensely more fucked-up
      ...bitchin' new CD reissues of early albums of neon-drenched synthwave dread from Perturbator
      ...lots of cool, off-kilter occult black metal from the likes of Abhor, Chilean bands Black Grail and Athanatos, Esoterica, and Demoncy
      ...a stack of new vinyl and CD reissues from The Crypt, including avant-garde deathdoom weirdos Pan.Thy.Monium and some killer early Absu recordings
      ...the amazing new album from UK death metallers Abyssal, which perfectly combines their churning blackened heaviness with streaks of melodic grandeur, a unique new direction for their sound
      ...some killer new industrial black metal from the likes of Alien Deviant Circus and Dodheimsgard
      ...lots of cool new progressive black metal and blackened rock from bands like Negura Bunget, Aversion To Mankind, Sigh, Beyond Light, Imperial Triumphant, Kommandant, and Plamen
      ...the stunning new album from funeral doom duo Bell Witch, one of the most listenable albums of it's kind to come through here in ages
      ...great new horror scores including Joe Bishara/Dave Lombardo's Insidious III, Goblin's Claudio Simonetti and his Demons soundtrack, plus stuff from Fabio Frizzi, and Elliot Goldenthal's Pet Sematary
      ...heavy duty new Earache reissues of early cult titles from Confessor and Cathedral, and the recent Century Media vinyl reissue of Gorguts From Wisdom To Hate
      ...lots of bizarre, brain-melting necro-psychedelia, black noise and other macabre weirdness from Dead Reptile Shrine, Funerary Call and Crown Ov Bone, Koozar, and Sect Pig
      ...new blasts of skull-caving sludge and doom metal from Warhorse, Forn, Corrupted, Goatsnake, Cold In Berlin, The Body, Rise of Avernus, Blood Farmers, and Saturnalia Temple
      ...a ton of killer avant-garde death metal and grind releases from the likes of Knelt Rote, Legion Of Andromeda, Phlebotomized, Septic Flesh, Sickening Horror, Irreversible Mechanism, Unholy, Mulk, and Nocturnus
      ...eerie dungeon synth, death industrial and dark ambience from Trepaneringsritualen, Yen Pox, Profane Grace, Resgestae, Satanath, Stonewired, Shinkiro, Trauma, and Obscene Noise Korporation
      ...punishing noise rock from Swans (a deluxe reissue of their classic Filth album), Couch Slut, and Special People
      ...weirdo hardcore and punk from Perspex Flesh, Folded Shirt, YDI, and Same-Sex Dictator


As always, we have a lot for you to check out, much more mutant extreme music and misanthropic art to be found on our shelves and in our bins...keep reading below to check out all of the strange and extreme new music, film, and art that's included in this week's new arrivals list.

Don't forget, you can click on the thumbnail image of the album cover for everything we carry in our shop to pull up a pop-up window showing an actual photograph of the item!



FEATURED RELEASE



DEIPHAGO   Into The Eye of Satan   CD   (Hells Headbangers)    11.98



    I expected chaos with the new Deiphago album, but what they unleash here turned out to be another level of bestial weirdness. These Filipino black/death warmongers have been detonating their blasts of Satanic hate since the late 1980s, but Deiphago's latest Into The Eye Of Satan delivers a seemingly newfound level of aural ear-hate and outré blastcraft. The guitar playing alone is totally insane, an assault of extreme atonal shred that makes one wonder if Deiphago axebeast Sidapa had been guzzling large quantities of Last Exit and Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects during the writing process. It's not like this feels self-consciously avant-garde, though; the fucked-up, hyper-violent atonality of the solos and fractured, weirdly warped nature of the riffs churning and gnashing through Eye are all in service to an atmosphere of hellish violence. In the past, Deiphago have been derided by some for being too chaotic and seemingly unstructured, but it's that reckless, turbulent quality that makes this stuff sound so unique. "Psychedelic" isn't a word I often when describing this kind of black/death metal, but it definitely applies to Deiphago's swarming, delay-drenched bestial blast.
    On their latest, Deiphago remain rooted in that classic Conqueror-influenced war metal sound while pushing their barbaric sound into stranger extremes. That they enlisted Colin Marston from Gorguts / Behold The Arctopus / Krallice to produce the album is telling, as this propels Deiphago's sound into more abstract, angular territory. The album enters their killzone on a wave of imperious orchestral murk and snarling black noise, then proceeds to unleash a violent assault of total noise metal. In some ways akin to Teitenblood's latest, this is bestial black/death metal pushed into utterly cacophonic madness, a grindcore-style blur of hyperspeed blastbeats and pummeling war-toms hurtling beneath a maelstrom of hopelessly angular riffage and full-blown atonal noise, but with more emphasis on sculpting monstrous riffs out of that churning black chaos. That awesome, twisted dissonant guitarwork really adds to the unusual feel of this stuff; when you hear the sweeping waves of spaced-out skronk and almost jazz-like shredding that flies across these nine tracks, and the overload of rhythmic weirdness that continues to unravel with each song, it's clearly a new level of madness that Deiphago is exploring here. There are moments like "Bloodbath Of Genocide" where the violent blasting falls back and it sounds as if the guitarist is attempting to wrangle a mutated classic rock-style riff out of his instrument, then suddenly everything erupts into an almost Gorgutsian assault of atonal shred. A few riffs even seem to mimic the sounds of doom-laden orchestral string sections, lending moments of oppressive, desolate ambiance glimpsed briefly in the band's cyclonic deathnoise attack. Other tracks like the suffocating “Red Dragon of Chaos” become saturated with cosmic synth-like noise, giving the song an almost industrial vibe.
    It's only with the very last song, "Into The Eye Of Satan", that Deiphago slow down into something approaching a "groove", a monstrous, sludgy, dundering caveman riff that is quickly sucked back up into the tornadic chaos, flayed by another savage shot of ultra-atonal, unmusical skronk-shred that resembles a demonic Sonny Sharrock, and ending with an abrupt blast of sinister, clanging metallic noise and garbled voices tangled in atonal violin-like skree, like the sound of some monstrous sepulchral door slamming shut, leaving the listener entombed in absolute blackness. Definitely one of the most intense blackened death metal albums to show up this year, thanks to the wealth of whacked-out, gonzo riffs and the sheer weirdness of Deiphago's sonic assault. Awesome.
Track Samples:
Sample : Red Dragon Of Chaos
Sample : Into The Eye Of Satan
Sample : Bloodbath Of Genocide


NEW ADDITIONS



A FOREST OF STARS   A Shadowplay For Yesterdays (JEWEL CASE)   CD   (Lupus Lounge)    11.98



     In addition to the band's latest full-length Beware The Sword You Cannot See, we also just picked up the preceding 2012 album A Shadowplay For Yesterdays from this strange steampunk-tinged black metal band. Envisioning themselves as characters from some late 19th century Victorian tragedy with names like Mister Curse, The Gentleman, Mr. T.S. Kettleburner, and Katheryne, Queen of the Ghosts (the latter actually being Kati Stone of My Dying Bride), A Forest Of Stars delivers an imaginative and anachronistic mix of withering black metal, Dickensian imagery, early 70's British folk rock influences, and epic prog rock that could only have come out of England. Released as both a standard jewel case edition and a deluxe digipack version that includes an embellished booklet and bonus track "Dead Love" that's only available on this and the double LP versions of the album.
     England has certainly produced it's share of eccentric, unusual black metal outfits, with the likes of Meads Of Asphodel and Fen bringing a distinctly English touch to their often offbeat and atmospheric music. The Yorkshire band A Forest Of Stars, though, might be the most British sounding band I've heard from the region, delivering an offbeat combination of ragged black metal, psychedelic folk influences, and a weird obsession with Victorian-era aesthetics that's pretty unique . They start to build an ominous and dramatic feel with the spoken word narrative that's delivered over the atmospheric ambience of opener "Directionless Resurrectionist", but follow that up with the snarling, maudlin black metal of "Prey Tell Of The Church Fate"; shrill, eerie tremolo riffs wind into eerie folk-like melodies against the background, before the band blasts into a vicious blur of jangly, blackened guitars and rickety blastbeats, continuing to maintain that strange, antiquated vibe. That's in large part due to how A Forest of Stars weaves violin, flute, piano, acoustic guitar, old-style frame drums and tambourines into their ragged black metal, both over the band's ferocious blasting and in the spaces between, and the result on this and the rest of the album sounds incredibly rustic. This stuff is possessed with a gloomy grandeur, rumbling with massive double bass driven power and slipping into stretches of harrowing blackened despair, and passages of pure prog that take over songs like "A Prophet For A Pound Of Flesh", sending swirling kosmische synths washing over long, almost krautrock-esque rhythmic workouts, Katheryne's bewitching singing drifting in over those mesmeric sprawls, intertwining with Curse's gravelly croon to produce stirring vocal harmonies. They employ strange electronic textures and synth noise to create some really immersive soundscapes, and gloriously weird moments like the dread-filled funereal oompah of "Gatherer Of The Pure" that suddenly ascends into almost Floydian spaciness. I'm not the biggest fan of music that combines folk elements with black metal, but what makes this work is how ragged and vicious the black metal aspects of their sound are, delivering a raw and vicious black metal attack that contrasts well with the more psychedelic elements. All throughout Shadowplay, the sounds of funerary violins and psychedelic folk wafting from out of their majestic, weirdly rustic metal, and it gets pretty damn catchy, shot through with more than a few moments of seriously striking dark beauty and power, while also maintaining that haunting, twilight vibe through all of their songs.
Track Samples:
Sample : The Blight of God's Acre
Sample : Prey Tell of the Church Fate
Sample : Left Behind As Static



A FOREST OF STARS   A Shadowplay For Yesterdays (DELUXE DIGIPACK)   CD   (Lupus Lounge)    17.98



     In addition to the band's latest full-length Beware The Sword You Cannot See, we also just picked up the preceding 2012 album A Shadowplay For Yesterdays from this strange steampunk-tinged black metal band. Envisioning themselves as characters from some late 19th century Victorian tragedy with names like Mister Curse, The Gentleman, Mr. T.S. Kettleburner, and Katheryne, Queen of the Ghosts (the latter actually being Kati Stone of My Dying Bride), A Forest Of Stars delivers an imaginative and anachronistic mix of withering black metal, Dickensian imagery, early 70's British folk rock influences, and epic prog rock that could only have come out of England. Released as both a standard jewel case edition and a deluxe digipack version that includes an embellished booklet and bonus track "Dead Love" that's only available on this and the double LP versions of the album.
     England has certainly produced it's share of eccentric, unusual black metal outfits, with the likes of Meads Of Asphodel and Fen bringing a distinctly English touch to their often offbeat and atmospheric music. The Yorkshire band A Forest Of Stars, though, might be the most British sounding band I've heard from the region, delivering an offbeat combination of ragged black metal, psychedelic folk influences, and a weird obsession with Victorian-era aesthetics that's pretty unique . They start to build an ominous and dramatic feel with the spoken word narrative that's delivered over the atmospheric ambience of opener "Directionless Resurrectionist", but follow that up with the snarling, maudlin black metal of "Prey Tell Of The Church Fate"; shrill, eerie tremolo riffs wind into eerie folk-like melodies against the background, before the band blasts into a vicious blur of jangly, blackened guitars and rickety blastbeats, continuing to maintain that strange, antiquated vibe. That's in large part due to how A Forest of Stars weaves violin, flute, piano, acoustic guitar, old-style frame drums and tambourines into their ragged black metal, both over the band's ferocious blasting and in the spaces between, and the result on this and the rest of the album sounds incredibly rustic. This stuff is possessed with a gloomy grandeur, rumbling with massive double bass driven power and slipping into stretches of harrowing blackened despair, and passages of pure prog that take over songs like "A Prophet For A Pound Of Flesh", sending swirling kosmische synths washing over long, almost krautrock-esque rhythmic workouts, Katheryne's bewitching singing drifting in over those mesmeric sprawls, intertwining with Curse's gravelly croon to produce stirring vocal harmonies. They employ strange electronic textures and synth noise to create some really immersive soundscapes, and gloriously weird moments like the dread-filled funereal oompah of "Gatherer Of The Pure" that suddenly ascends into almost Floydian spaciness. I'm not the biggest fan of music that combines folk elements with black metal, but what makes this work is how ragged and vicious the black metal aspects of their sound are, delivering a raw and vicious black metal attack that contrasts well with the more psychedelic elements. All throughout Shadowplay, the sounds of funerary violins and psychedelic folk wafting from out of their majestic, weirdly rustic metal, and it gets pretty damn catchy, shot through with more than a few moments of seriously striking dark beauty and power, while also maintaining that haunting, twilight vibe through all of their songs.
Track Samples:
Sample : The Blight of God's Acre
Sample : Prey Tell of the Church Fate
Sample : Left Behind As Static



ABHOR   Ritualia Stramonium   CD   (Moribund)    15.99



     Some great ghoulish black metal on this new one from Abhor, who embellish their satanic dungeon visions with understated gothic organ accompaniment. Their latest Ritualia Stramonium is haunted by the presence of that medieval-sounding pipe organ, which was what initially drew me to their moldering occult metal, lurking beneath the band's furious witchblast and adding a fantastically creepy and eldritch vibe.
     These cloaked Italian black metallers have been at it for years, with Ritualia being their sixth album since forming in the late 90s, and the ominous metal they peddle on this disc is definitely of an old-school vintage, with lots of ferocious thrashing riffs and bursts of crushing, doom-laden Frostian heaviness. When that pipe organ kicks in with it's grandiose sound, though, it lends a cool proggy touch to this stuff, an element of gothic grandeur layered over the cackling, maniacal vocals and furious minor-key thrash. The singer's vocals are somewhat odd, as well, a schizoid torrent of gargling gibbering hatred and weird slurred chanting which add to the generally deranged feel of the album. Musically, it's fundamentally straightforward old-school black metal, though these guys do work in some interesting atonal guitarwork, the odd off-kilter bass riff, and murky, chaotic samples into the mix along with a couple of moments of nocturnal folkiness. And that organ sounds great, loud and brash in the mix as the baroque black-mass keys loom over Abhor's violent blackened thrash; there's a couple of moments on Ritualia (like the terrifically weird "I...the Witch") where that organ even sort of evokes some of the more ghoulish Italian creep-prog deliria of classic Goblin, Antonius Rex and Jacula. There's an aged, cobwebbed feel to this stuff, a macabre atmosphere that aligns them more with the likes of Mortuary Drape than with most contemporary Italian black metal, the sort of stuff that evokes images from Bava's Black Sunday and Ferroni's Mill of the Stone Women.
Track Samples:
Sample : Wine of Sabbath
Sample : I... the Witch
Sample : De Exorcismis Et Supplicationibus Quibusdam



ACID WITCH   Witchtanic Hellucinations (Orange / Purple Vinyl)   LP   (Hells Headbangers)    23.98



    The latest vinyl version of Acid Witch's 2008 debut Witchtanic Hellucinations, released as a new Orange/Purple colored vinyl variant for 2015 via Hell's Headbangers. Fans of this band's kooky psychedelic death/doom who slobbered all over the Halloween-centric presentation of their last Lp Stoned will find a similar set of goodies here; featuring a slightly revised look and layout, this latest edition of Hellucinations is otherwise identical to the old Razorback edition, with thirteen songs of Acid Witch's killer horror movie obsessed heaviness and groovy, fx-splattered doom (which also happens to feature Finnish sludgemonger Lasse Pyykkö of Hooded Menace / Vacant Coffin in his only full-length recording with the band). Starting off with a ridiculous intro track that sounds like something off of one of my old Halloween-themed spoken word Lps on the Caedmon imprint from the early 80s, Hellucinations quickly gets down into the bubbling swamp-muck with their mix of burly Sabbathian riffage, gurgling guttural death metal-style vocals, lysergic guitar spew and trippy electronic sounds, sounding not too unlike a more beastly version of Cathedral high on 70's occult horror films, the day-glo pastaland splatter epics of Lucio Fulci, and loads of vintage Halloween visuals. My kind of party.
     Acid Witch throw in all sorts of weird touches in building their stoned basement fug across this album, with moaning voices drifting in from behind the rocking metallic chuggery, washes of spacey Hawkwindian synth-gloop surging out of their many passages of creeping, crawling doom, cauldrons bubbling beneath droning psychedelic guitar spew and nocturnal sounds and howling wolves introduce one pulverizing down tuned deathgroove after another. They even slip into some purely instrumental soundscapery on tracks like "Beastly Brew", where gusts of wah-drenched guitar meets slabs of cavernous black drift soaked in reverb, or the spires of gothic organs and dreamlike electronics that make up the brief interlude "Realm Of The Wicked". Those keyboards are one of my favorite aspects of Acid Witch's sound, their eerie analogue tones and shifts into gothic organ sounds obviously nodding in the direction of those vintage 80's horror movie scores from Goblin, Fabio Frizzi and John Carpenter; where most bands would be content to use that sort of thing to simply introduce a song, Acid Witch incorporate those creepy, hallucinatory keyboards right into the meat of their music, evoking the feel of classic early 80s splat cinema even as the band is grinding out their monstrous doomdeath. I said the same thing about Stoned, and its just as applicable here - Acid Witch really does sound like the perfect fusion of Forest Of Equilibrium-era Cathedral and the kind of 80s-era horror-synth sound that I am a complete and total junkie for.
     The vinyl reissue features a revised album layout, and includes killer artwork from Zornow and Shagrat across the gatefold sleeve, a big foldout full-color poster of the cover art, and a custom window hanging that is designed in the style of those classic Halloween decorations from the 70s and 80s.
Track Samples:
Sample : Witchtanic Hellucinations
Sample : Swamp Spells
Sample : Realm of the Wicked
Sample : October 31st



ACID WITCH   Witchtanic Hellucinations   CASSETTE   (Hells Headbangers)    8.99



    Acid Witch's 2008 debut Witchtanic Hellucinations is now available on limited-edition cassette, featuring thirteen songs of killer horror movie obsessed heaviness and groovy, fx-splattered doom (which also happens to feature Finnish sludgemonger Lasse Pyykkö of Hooded Menace / Vacant Coffin in his only full-length recording with the band). Starting off with a ridiculous intro track that sounds like something off of one of my old Halloween-themed spoken word Lps on the Caedmon imprint from the early 80s, Hellucinations quickly gets down into the bubbling swamp-muck with their mix of burly Sabbathian riffage, gurgling guttural death metal-style vocals, lysergic guitar spew and trippy electronic sounds, sounding not too unlike a more beastly version of Cathedral high on 70's occult horror films, the day-glo pastaland splatter epics of Lucio Fulci, and loads of vintage Halloween visuals. My kind of party.
    Acid Witch throw in all sorts of weird touches in building their stoned basement fug across this album, with moaning voices drifting in from behind the rocking metallic chuggery, washes of spacey Hawkwindian synth-gloop surging out of their many passages of creeping, crawling doom, cauldrons bubbling beneath droning psychedelic guitar spew and nocturnal sounds and howling wolves introduce one pulverizing down tuned deathgroove after another. They even slip into some purely instrumental soundscapery on tracks like "Beastly Brew", where gusts of wah-drenched guitar meets slabs of cavernous black drift soaked in reverb, or the spires of gothic organs and dreamlike electronics that make up the brief interlude "Realm Of The Wicked". Those keyboards are one of my favorite aspects of Acid Witch's sound, their eerie analogue tones and shifts into gothic organ sounds obviously nodding in the direction of those vintage 80's horror movie scores from Goblin, Fabio Frizzi and John Carpenter; where most bands would be content to use that sort of thing to simply introduce a song, Acid Witch incorporate those creepy, hallucinatory keyboards right into the meat of their music, evoking the feel of classic early 80s splat cinema even as the band is grinding out their monstrous doomdeath. I said the same thing about Stoned, and its just as applicable here - Acid Witch really does sound like the perfect fusion of Forest Of Equilibrium-era Cathedral and the kind of 80s-era horror-synth sound that I am a complete and total junkie for.
Track Samples:
Sample : Witchtanic Hellucinations
Sample : Swamp Spells
Sample : Realm of the Wicked
Sample : October 31st



AFTERBIRTH   Foeticidal Embryo Harvestation   CD   (Pathos Productions)    9.98



    Was never much of a fan of the whole "slam" sound that emerged in death metal towards the latter half of the 90s, save for a couple of bands whose inherent weirdness or insanity distinguished them from the hordes of sub-Suffocation clones that sprouted up across the globe. While I'm all for mindless brutality in metal, most of the stuff in this vein leaves me cold, and comes across as far too formulaic for my tastes. Go back to the early days before "slam" became a thing, though, and you'll dig up some genuinely odd death metal that was particularly extreme for the time. Declared by some as one of the progenitors of this style, Long Island, NY band Afterbirth puked up a small but influential body of work in the early 90s that would later be cited as one of the first bands to produce this combination of monstrous misshapen grooves, fucked-up ultra-guttural vocals and complex arrangements. Some C-Blast followers might recognize member Cody Drasser, who in recent years has produced dark droneological noisescapes with his Caulbearer project, but here he helped to unleash a putrid assault of demented discordant riffery and crushing slower tempos fronted by the utterly unintelligible guttural fumes of singer Matt Duncan. With just a demo, Afterbirth introduced a deranged variant of New York death metal with an extreme vocal style that was really only comparable to what Demilich were doing; in his liner notes to this collection, Internal Bleeding's Frank Rini describes these vocals as "the most guttural and brutal that I had ever heard", and Duncan's delivery definitely sounds less like it came from a human throat and more from a rabid animal trapped in a culvert. It sticks out as one of the more insane death metal vocal performances from that period.
    During their brief run in the early 90s, Afterbirth only released that one demo and a rehearsal tape, all of which was collected and re-mastered for Foeticidal Embryo Harvestation, rounded out by a couple of live tracks. The main attraction is the Psychopathic Embrytomy demo from 1994, which blows four chunks of emetic, fucked-up death metal with songs like "Obliteration Of Human Tissue" and "Obstetric Bastardization". The sound quality is actually pretty good for a demo tape from this time period, and it's certainly heavy as hell, the songs erupting into tangles of colossal chromatic riffing and dissonant shred, smeared with those insanely guttural belched vocal noises. The songs shift spastically between bursts of violent blastbeat tempos and barbaric thrash and those slower, sludgy grooves and doom-laden passages that would prove to be a seminal influence on the nascent "slam" sound, with catchy riffs and an oddly flanged bass sound and unusual playing style (slap bass techniques, odd melodies) that's frequently pushed to the front of the mix.
    The bands 1993 Rehearsal Demo is also pretty interesting, featuring earlier versions of the demo tracks (as well as an exclusive track "Rebirth") laced with snippets of horror film soundtrack music; the sound quality on this recording is naturally pretty raw, but Afterbirth sounded even more bizarre and brutal here, a ramshackle blast of murky, glottal horror that's a bit more frenzied and chaotic compared to the demo. The rest of the disc is rounded out by some soundboard recordings taken from shows in New York and Rhode Island, and feature later material that didn't appear on the demos, tracks like "Saving The Dead", "Crematorial Gates" and "Fleshwound" that pointed towards a more abrasively atonal direction that the band seemed to be taking prior to breaking up, and which potentially hint at a somewhat Gorgutsian brand of sickening discordant violence.
    Comes in digipack packaging.
Track Samples:
Sample : Obstetric Bastardization
Sample : Obliteration of Human Tissue
Sample : Impure Conception



ALDEBARAN   Buried Beneath Aeons   12"   (Parasitic)    14.99



    Back in stock. I've been gradually making my way through the entire discography of Portland, OR band Aldebaran, who have been producing some of the finest contemporary doom/death around ever since forming around a decade ago. I'm a big fan of drummer Tim Call and his various other bands, which ranges from the black metal of Howling Wind and Ardour Loom to the blackened doom-crust of Nightfell to his stints as the live drummer for C-Blast faves like Saturnalia Temple and Mournful Congregation, but Aldebaran is one of his longest running outfits, with a number of fantastic albums of crushing, cosmic doomdeath albums under their belt.
    The 2011 EP Buried Beneath Aeons features just one song from the band, but it's an epic, a half-hour long crawl through hellish depths of molten downtuned doom and ascending on wings of soaring, solemn majesty. As with the rest of Aldebaran's work, "Buried Beneath Aeons" combines otherworldly Lovecraftian imagery and themes of cosmic horror with their creeping tectonic crush, evoking antediluvian intelligences and awakening gods with their mix of monstrously lumbering death metal and sorrowful guitar parts. They're tapping into an old and well-worn sound with this stuff, of course, but Aldebaran combine all of these elements into something much more effective and unearthly than most, skillfully weaving those eldritch vibes through these waves of glacial death metal, crafting stunning, sepulchral melodies that course and creep through the various passages of winding riffery that emerge over the course of the record. Tribal drumming and crushing funereal tempos intertwine as the riffs shift, moving from one impressive depth-charge eruption of slow-mo heaviness to another, the guitars sometimes shedding their molten black weight in favor of plaintive chords that shimmer with heavy doses of reverb, like the passage of almost Earth-esque gloom that rings out over the very beginning of "Buried". Naturally, you'll hear echoes of the classic doom/death of early My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost in this stuff, but the ghostly guitar parts and the almost Neurosis-esque drumming that reappears throughout the record give Aldebaran's music its unique touch. The killer album art from acclaimed illustrator Dan Seageave perfectly matches the towering, titanic feel of their music, and it's reproduced on the big fold-out poster that comes with the album. Pressed on one hundred eighty gram vinyl, and issued in a limited run of five hundred copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : Buried Beneath Aeons
Sample : Buried Beneath Aeons
Sample : Buried Beneath Aeons



ALIEN DEVIANT CIRCUS   Ananta - Abhâva   CD   (Necrocosm)    11.99



    Once again stirring an unholy mix of Satanic delirium, apocalyptic Vedic mysticism, technoid rhythms and necrotic hatefulness, French industrial black metal weirdos Alien Deviant Circus are back with Ananta - Abhâva, the band's first new album since 2010's En To Pan Omegas. And their stuff is still firmly rooted in the maniacal mechanized terror peddled by the likes of Blacklodge, Mysticum and Aborym, but Alien Deviant Circus up the techno ante a bit more than most, at times coming close to the sort of black metal speedcore of D-Trash artists like Schizoid.
    These maniacs kick it off with a twenty-two minute opening track, the mesmeric, murky electronica that creeps across the beginning of "Ap (Nâda)" blending fragments of blackened doom-folk and eerie overtone chants, squelchy bass throb and a slow-motion technoid pulse, the first few minutes swirling with a strange, demented ritualistic vibe. Once those black metal guitars kick in, their bass-driven pulse turns into a relentless thump beneath those icy riffs and washes of black cosmic electronics. Definitely reminiscent of industrial black metal pioneers Mysticum, but enfolding that sound within their own uniquely sensual derangement, as female voices emerge in the distance with ghostly operatic wailing, glitchy noises and rhythmic bleeps creeping around that malignant slow-motion techno pulse. As things progress, the Circus continues to weave a weirdly narcotic atmosphere, erupting into glitch-riddled blasts of frigid blackness, and slipping into twisted, psilocybin-dosed, Tesla-quoting excursions into mechanized heaviness. The singer switches off between those morose chants and a hoarse, gargling croak, and some songs seem to unfold into a bizarre liturgy, layering magickal verses over minimal burbling synthscapes, wafts of malformed kosmische ambience spreading like inky clouds across recitations from Crowley's Liber Samekh. Clanking industrial rhythms and swarming guitars mutate into wicked necro-techno attacks, emitting blasts of pneumatic hiss amid the trance-inducing rhythmic pummel, while bits of Carpenterian synth dread circle in the depths alongside Wax Trax-sized chunks of dancefloor obliteration. These guys aren't doing anything to reinvent industrial black metal, but I could care less when it sounds this insane. Ananta-Abhâva is definitely on par with their previous works, injecting some of that uniquely French depravity into their howling electrocuted black metal, and it delivers what is now my favorite song of theirs, the heavily atmospheric closer "Maha Pralaya (Pradhvamsa-Abhâva)" that welds a particularly tough doom-laden riff to a sweeping tremolo riff, before speedcore-style drum programming ends up turning it into something vaguely Ministry-like, easily the most vicious song on the album.
    Limited to five hundred copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : ÿþMaha Pralaya (Pradhvamsa-Abhâva)
Sample : ÿþAp (Nâda)
Sample : ÿþAham Tattva (Kriyâ)



ATHANATOS   Unholy Union   7" VINYL   (Nuclear War Now! Productions)    6.50



    These Chilean black/death vets get vaguely psychedelic with their new band Athanatos, debuting with a killer demo cassette that surfaced in 2014 and which has now been reissued on 7" by Nuclear War Now. Tantalizingly described on Athanatos's Bandcamp page by one fan as sounding akin to "Dark Angel on LSD", you can definitely hear something more twisted and warped than just another black-thrash attack with this stuff, which delivers some really cool off-kilter riffage winding through these four tracks. Featuring member Hateaxes Command (aka Pablo Clares) of cult death metallers Totten Korps and Atomic Aggressor, Athanatos draws from the classic South American death-thrash sound, but filters that influence through a thick, tenebrous atmosphere of subterranean filth charged with frantic energy, a violent blast of pummeling blackened death-thrash formed from the band's mix of convoluted riffery and blasphemous, brazenly Satanic imagery delivered in fractured English that "consecrates the anal chalice". Athanatos fucking rip on this demo, belting out a crazed blast-assault of blackened chaos across the beginning of "Unholy Union", with crazed shouted vocals drenched in echo instead of the typical guttural puke-approach, giving this stuff a gruff, maniacal feel; there's a moment where the blasting heaviness suddenly stops and those bellowed, reverberant shouts come echoing out of the depths, and all of a sudden it almost sounds like Killing Joke's Jaz Coleman howling over the echoing blackness, right before it leads into an even more twisted riff-maze, the song mutating into an awesomely savage assault of warped, vaguely proggy thrash. A killer debut from these guys, and I can't wait to hear more from them. Limited to five hundred copies.


AVERSION TO MANKIND   Between Scylla and Charybdis   CD   (Maa Productions)    11.99



     Killer epic bluesy depressive blackness from this Spanish outfit. Like a lot of the bands released by Japanese label Maa, Aversion To Mankind have remained little known outside of the most fervid progressive black metal circles, though the music that this band has been creating over the past few years is both surprisingly accessible while still retaining a great degree of mournful, somber atmosphere that'll no doubt appeal to anyone into the more miserable, "depressive" realm of black metal. Between Scylla and Charybdis is the second full-length from this one-man band, and it's a stunning combination of doom-laden atmosphere, soaring Floydian guitar, and anguished black metal; the sound is huge, moving from cavernous, slow-moving blackened funereal tempos into hauntingly pretty passages of jangling minor key chords or layered acoustic guitar, field recordings, piano, smears of rain-drenched jazziness, and mysterious voices that bring drama and emotion to these instrumental vignettes that materialize throughout the three sprawling tracks that comprise the album.
     The recording is drenched in reverb and there's a distant quality to everything, especially whenever the music kicks into the actual black metal parts, the drums a far-off rumble, blastbeats blurred into a deep reverberant pulse beneath the swarming minor key guitars and funerary melodies that appear and ascend over the long, stretched out passages of mournful blast. And there's that noticeable Spanish folk influence in the guitar leads, too, which I noticed on the previous album; the soaring, droning guitar lines seem to be directly influenced by older folk melodies and flamenco, which gives this a unique feel...it can get pretty vicious too, though, like with the furious rocking black thrash that washes across "In a Fleshy Tomb, I'm Buried Above Ground", and the ferocious riff that tears through the end of the song. It's all very epic in feel, though, powerful, even cinematic scope of this stuff, with the album's most striking moments arriving whenever the guitar emerges with one of those killer bluesy Pink Floyd-esque parts, sorrowful and twangy leads that drift dreamily over the wintry ambience and rumbling blackened fury, sometimes erupting into squalls of crazed atonal noise. Since getting turned on to this band, both this and the previous album have joined the likes of ColdWorld, Trist, early Hypomanie and Hypothermia as some of my favorite downer black metal.
Track Samples:
Sample : In a Fleshy Tomb, I'm Buried Above Ground
Sample : Between Scylla and Charybdis (Part II)



AVICHI   Catharsis Absolute   LP   (New Density)    19.99



Finally picked this vinyl version of the latest Avichi album up for the shop; originally released on CD in 2014 by Profound Lore, this remains one of the better American black metal albums to come out last year.
The third album from American black metallers Avichi, Catharsis Absolute continues to explore the ambitious, often progressive black metal that main member Aamonael (aka Andrew Markuszewski, a former member of Nachtmystium and current member of black sludge beasts Lord Mantis) has been developing since 2007's Divine Tragedy. His serpent-tongue visions are obsessively detailed, and further distinguished by the fact that Markuszewski recorded all of the music entirely on his own. For a true one-man band, this sounds amazingly cohesive, delivering as powerful and as sophisticated a blackened assault as any of his peers.
Opening with the sounds of requiem-like piano, "Repercussion" introduces the album with a brief bit of dark, atmospheric melody before shifting into the furious dissonance of "Flames In My Eyes". As Avichi's droning black metal glides on repetitive circular riffs over the monotonous blastbeat that gives an almost Von-esque trancelike feel to this first track, the vocals a layered mixture of scowling shrieks and monotone chanting, this simple sinister hypno-blast continues to circle endlessly, blasting through the gloom. Surges of looped orchestral sound swell up out of the depths, before finally shifting into something more melodic halfway through, Markuszewski's vocals transforming into a striking post-punk style croon over the malevolent blackened blast. Killer stuff. Then there's "Lightweaver", contrasting that blazing majestic black metal with a seriously rocking mid-tempo hook joined by some unexpectedly new wavey synthesizer accompaniment, almost Cure-style keyboards drifting up as the music downshifts into a ferocious black n' roll groove. "Voice Of Intuition " is even more haunting, those crooning vocals washing over more menacing chiming minor key melodies and serpentine bluesy leads, blastbeats racing furiously, slipping once more into another one of his signature sickoid rock parts. Markuszewski's complex arrangements mark most of these songs, but never at the expense of atmosphere and regal black ambience, and there's some seriously catchy stuff laced all throughout Catharsis. The nearly thirteen minute "All Gods Fall" starts off in a haze of ceremonial ambience, ritual bells ringing and rattling over a simple percussive pulse, then transforms into a mesmeric instrumental crush, an almost Neurosis-esque dirge laced with more of that eerie singing and furious howling vocals, imperious and apocalyptic and steeped in a heady philosophical darkness. And when the album comes to a close, its not with a blackened roar, but with a final descent into that minimalist piano that opened the album, a sprawling instrumental of elliptical minor key piano that expands the sound of the intro into a somber piece of shadowy chamber music gloom, those eerie ivory keys circling and tumbling through a haze of woodsmoke, an almost religious quality emanating from this meditative sound.
It's all still as evil and progressively minded as previous Avichi works, but with that deeper exploration of post-punk influenced melody that makes this his most infectious work. His most focused and affecting album so far, the vinyl edition of Catharsis Absolute comes in a heavyweight gatefold presentation.
Track Samples:
Sample : Flames in My Eyes
Sample : Catharsis Absolute
Sample : All Gods Fall



BARREN HARVEST   Beautiful Flowers   3 x 7" BOXSET   (Black Horizons)    24.00



    Back in stock. This amazing ghostfolk duo is back with more of their hauntingly beautiful music, bringing us their earliest recordings via this gorgeously assembled collection. Beautiful Flowers is the earliest material from the duo of Jessica Way (Worm Ouroboros) and Lenny Smith (Trees, Atriarch), featured here in all of its stark beauty spread across the six sides of a triple 7" set. If you dug the band's debut album Subtle Cruelties that came out late last year (and which I raved about upon its release), this stuff is just as terrific. Fans might recognize a few of these tracks ("The Bleeding", "Claw And Feather"), as they would appear in reworked form on that album. But this set is worth picking up if you're as enthralled with Barren Harvest as I am, as these early versions can differ a bit from what appeared on Cruelties.
    It's gorgeous, ghostly music, the songs stripped down to spare arrangements of just vocals alongside the lush strum of the acoustic guitar and their slowly swirling synthesizer. Way and Smith weave their voices together through each song, his gravelly baritone billowing beneath her icy, lilting melodies. It's steeped in an occult folk tradition, with echoes of classic witch-folk outfits like Comus and contemporaries like Stone Breath, but there's also a grave majesty to these songs that reminds me a bit of Dead Can Dance, further distinguishing Barren Harvest's music from other current neo-folk outfits. Even their cover of the ancient English folk song "Gently Johnny" (best remembered by most from the score to The Wicker Man) is here transformed into something almost unrecognizable from previous versions, imbued with so much sorrow that the meaning behind the lyrics transforms into something much more dire. All of these songs drift beneath the cold red glow of an autumn moon, delicate strands of dried flower and ivy woven through the lush chords and dramatic singing, offering another shadow-wreathed example of how this sort of grave, gorgeous, gothic folk-flecked darkness can be as grim and powerful as any doom metal outfit. And it's beautifully packaged, the three records housed in a printed slipcase, each record in a plastic sleeve with its own printed lyric sheet, all printed in silver ink on black woven stock, issued in a limited edition of three hundred thirty-three copies.


BEASTMILK   Climax   CASSETTE   (Svart Records)    11.99



    Picked up some of the limited-edition tapes that Svart did of this fantastic post-punk album.
    One of the best new bands to emerge in the past few years out of this current 80's-era post punk revival is Beastmilk, a Finnish band who appeared in 2010 with their White Stains On Black Tape demo that was later championed by Darkthrone's Fenriz on his Band of the Week blog. It was easy to hear why - these seasoned musicians (which include front-man Kvohst of Code / Hexvessel / Dødheimsgard, and Juho Goatspeed from the amazing avant-garde black metal band Spiderpact) appeared fully formed, performing a sort of driving, anthemic gloom-rock with a subtle metallic undercurrent and gobs of apocalyptic atmosphere, but with monumental hooks that seemed primed and ready for something arena-sized. Their first full length Climax (now back in stock here at C-Blast) polished that sound even more, delivering ten tracks of infectious, disaffected post-punk that is ridiculously catchy stuff, and which should be heard STAT by anyone into the similarly gloomy, infectious sounds of like-minded bands Vaura, Soror Dolorosa and Hateful Abandon, who all share some sort of distant black metal background. Compared to some of those bands, though, Beastmilk's roots in the Nordic metal underground are barely noticeable here, if at all.
    As the propulsive drive of "Death Reflects Us" kicks off Climax with a perfectly crafted blast of soaring gloom-rock, the bass guitar and chiming riffs soar over pounding motorik drumming, the vocals clear and soaring as they ascend to the anthemic hook of the chorus. That anthemic quality is all over this album, the bass guitar WAY out front as it lays down the driving Joy Division-esque lines, fusing their huge hooks to grim visions of a world in rapid collapse and other, more personal ruminations, and Kvohst's Danzig-esque croon is at once both icy and tremulous, layered into striking harmonies at all the right moments. "The Wind Blows Through Their Skulls" paints a bleak portrait of a radioactive nightmare future, as do the likes of "Genocidal Crush" and "Nuclear Winter", nightmarish imagery set to swirling clean guitars and crunchy metallic riffs, handclaps and huge guitar hooks shifting things into a dark majestic pop that often creates an effective contrast with the eruptions of distorted guitar squall and the relentlessly rocking tempo of most of the songs. There are echoes of The Cult and Samhain and Sisters Of Mercy all through this, and there's a bunch of moments on Climax when the band seems to suddenly transform into a vaguely blackened version of Echo And The Bunneymen - with those types of names being dropped, you should have a pretty good idea iof what sort of stuff these guys are doing, though this never sounds like pastiche to me. Songs like "You Are Now Under Our Control", "Surf The Apocalypse" and "Fear Your Mind" will rattle around in your head for days after hearing it, alternating with the slower, brooding atmosphere of songs like "Ghosts Out Of Focus" and "Strange Attractors", the latter featuring guest vocals from Viveca Butler of New York gloom rockers Occultation that closes the album with it's most haunting melody. Beastmilk are unabashed in their fierce devotion to the darkest regions of classic post punk, but they re-envisioned that sound as something much more muscular and malevolent and modern. Despite the deafening amount of hype that has been hovering around this band, it really is pretty fucking great.
Track Samples:
Sample : You Are Now Under Our Control
Sample : Nuclear Winter
Sample : Genocidal Crush



BEAUSOLEIL, BOBBY   The Lucifer Rising Suite   4 x CD   (Ajna Offensive)    29.99



    Now available as a four-CD boxset that essentially reproduces everything from the original vinyl set that Ajna put out, right down to the pair of miniature posters and the 24-page booklet loaded with liner notes, with each disc housed in it's own full-color sleeve, and all bound together in a casewrapped box. A gorgeous, exhaustive document of some of the best apocalyptic psychedelia of the 20th century.
    Bobby Beausoleil's legendary Lucifer Rising suite has appeared in various forms over the years, first as a limited edition LP release on Lethal Records in 1980, later on self-released CDR through Beausoleil's own White Dog Music imprint that he ran in partnership with his wife. This piece of experimental film/music history never received the sort of deluxe, in-depth treatment that it really deserved, however, until the mighty Ajna imprint assembled this monstrous four-record box set that came out back in 2009. A masterpiece of infernal, occult psychedelia, dark cosmic blues, and shadowy synthesizer music, this boxset featured not only Beausoleil's now infamous score that he recorded in prison for Kenneth Anger's long-in-the-works Aliester Crowley-inspired experimental film Lucifer Rising, but also a ton of additional material that includes some of the earliest Beausoleil recordings in existence. The original boxset sold out not too long after its release, but Ajna has recently issued a new pressing of this massive set, this time on colored vinyl under the guidance of Beausoleil. As before, this is one of the most immersive sets that I've picked up for the store, charting Beausoleil's strange story from his beginnings in the West Coast psychedelia/experimental music underground through his later, more developed prison recordings. And its all essential listening for fans of occult prog and psychedelia.
    This CD boxset edition of The Lucifer Rising Suite includes the four discs along with a thick booklet that features extensive photos and liner notes from illustrator/subterranean historian Dennis Dread (Entarte Kunts), writer Michael Moynihan (Lords Of Chaos) and Beausoleil himself, two full-color poster reproductions of Beausoleil and Dennis Dread's artwork, and printed full-color inner sleeves for each disc, the whole set housed in a stunning tip-on box illustrated by Dread and Finnish artist Timo Ketola (Watain, Opeth, Teitanblood, Deathspell Omega). It's absolutely gorgeous.
    The whole saga behind Beausoleil and the soundtrack to Anger's Lucifer Rising is both tragic and fascinating. Often erroneously considered to have been a part of the actual Manson Family, Beausoleil was a young musician in the late 60's Los Angeles psychedelic underground who had already performed with Arthur Lee of Love and associated with the likes of the Beach Boys and Frank Zappa before being approached by acclaimed experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger to star in his then current project, Lucifer Rising. Agreeing to take on the role with the understanding that he would also be allowed to create the score for the film, Beausoleil began to work on the music for Anger's film just before finding himself caught up on the fringes of the crowd that was hanging around Charles Manson and his followers, and was soon involved in the brutal murder of fellow musician and drug dealer Gary Hinman in 1969, an act that ended up sending him to prison and became the spark that would ignite the series of events resulting in the horrific Tate-LaBianca murders.
    But to fans of dark underground psychedelia, Beausoleil is more than just a footnote in the bloody saga of the Manson Family. Prior to his murder of Hinman, Beausoleil had staged several live performances that tied in with his work-in-progress for the Lucifer Rising score, sprawling experimental improv sets that blended crude rock dirges and cosmic free-jazz blurt, one of which is documented here. But in the years following his conviction, he spent his time behind bars writing and recording some seriously gorgeous music, using fellow prisoners to flesh out his "Freedom Orchestra", even creating a primitive studio inside of his jail cell. Using ancient Moog synthesizers, trumpets, Fender Rhodes electric piano and a standard rock lineup of bass/drums/guitar, Beausoleil and his backing band created some stunning psychedelic soundscapes that combined primitive electronics and effects-drenched electric guitar with propulsive, hypnotic drumming and lush layered synths, sounding at times remarkably like a more sinister Tangerine Dream flecked with bits of sun-scorched Mojave twang. It's all amazing stuff, and it definitely leads me to believe that if Beausoleil had not been caught up in the insanity of the Manson crowd, he could very well have become a legendary figure of 70's rock.
    So what you get with Ajna's luxuriant Lucifer Rising set is basically everything that Beausoleil recorded up through the end of 70's, up to the long-delayed release of Anger's film in 1980. The recordings span more than a decade, starting with the original 1967 live recordings up through his studio work at Tracey Prison, with much of the material featured here never before released. The music is a lush opiate fog of droning psychedelia and dark kosmische drift, the first side featuring the nearly twenty-five minute live recording of "Lucifer Rising I" from 1967, a sprawling psych-rock workout woven out of saxophones and other horns, flutes and rumbling percussion, the sound a delirious haze of improvised jazziness and haunting, dreamlike melody, meandering blues guitar winding through the squalls of jazzy freeform chaos, with moments of striking dark beauty constantly surfacing throughout the recording. On tracks like "Dark Passage", Beausoleil and company craft an eerie confluence of primitive electronics and subterranean drones into something resembling a psychedelic horror film score, before lurching into the searing spaced-out blues of "Hellion Rebellion", its slide guitar slipping like black tears over the massive reverb-drenched drums. There are blown-out cosmic garage-rock raveups ("Dance Of The Fire Demons") and monstrous choogle ("Tear It Down"), and the gorgeous, almost Morricone-esque moodiness of "Penumbra"; elsewhere, it's all eerie New Age-y synthdrift, abstract and Teutonic, and at it's darkest ("Sleeping Dragon") isn't very far at all from the grim electronic soundcscapes of early Tangerine Dream. "Fallen Angel Blues" employs the talk-box to mesmerizing effect. And through it all, Beausoleil's amazing guitar playing is front and center, warm and expressive and evocative, his blues licks filled with an amazing amount of emotional resonance for someone who was so young at the time of the recording. One of the best tracks included here is the gorgeous sprawling cosmic psychedelia on the twenty one minute long jam "Beacon", one of Beausoleil's most beautiful recordings in the set, a delay-drenched, synth-smeared starburst of sound that is reminiscent of classic Piper-era Pink Floyd.
    But it's the film score for Lucifer Rising that will truly blow you away. The fourth and final disc features the complete six-part Lucifer Rising Suite, and it's undeniably Beausoleil's masterpiece, with that vague Morricone-esque vibe hanging over the ominous melodies and brass-laced moodiness, a dark, malevolent piece of cinematic psychedelia made up of stunning electronic textures and shadowy atmosphere, breathtaking passages of trumpet cutting through the dark twilight soundscape, while distorted, crunchy hard-rock guitar riffs sweep through the abyss. The suite later erupts[ts into gales of wah-drenched psych-guitar frenzy and flurries of otherworldly electronics, and in its final moments transforms into something like a more sinister Tangerine Dream or Ash Ra, and certainly on par with the work that those bands were producing around the same time.
Track Samples:
Sample : Lucifer Rising, Pt VI
Sample : Penumbra
Sample : Fallen Angel Blues, Pt I
Sample : Lucifer Rising I, 1967



BEYOND LIGHT   Paintings In The Hall   CD   (Maa Productions)    11.99



     Things get really miserable on album number two from Dutch experimental black metaller Beyond Light, another one-man band delivering the sort of intoxicatingly mournful gloom-bliss that Japanese label Maa has been cornering the market on. Sole member Belfalas offers his own odd take on the "depressive" black metal sound, mostly made up of writhing minimalist riffs and droning blackness woven around some great, uber-gloomy melodies and the occasional ripping black n' roll hook. Belfalas whips out lots of soaring hard rock solos over his rumbling old-school black metal attack, but also leads the songs into sometimes unexpected territory, scattering passages of sorrowful classical piano amid the heavier metallic songs, or slipping from the furious, slightly off-kilter black metal of "Painted Memories" into a strange freeform soundscape of wheezing harmonica and distant rumbling sounds of warfare. The songwriting is actually pretty weird, with lots of awkward, angular riffs and odd tempo changes that throw this stuff off kilter by a few degrees, but it's also quite beautiful at times, too, especially when those piano instrumentals come in, gorgeously maudlin passages of heartbroken melody and weeping string sections, or the lush, dreamy darkwave that emerges across the beginning of "Her Broken Face", resembling some classic 80's era gothic rock draped in acoustic guitars and that ghostly piano, distant wailing vocals drifting over washes of chorus-drenched guitar, leading into the sudden shift into regal black metal that kicks in about half way in, which itself makes way eventually for a monstrous blackened groove towards the end that would make Khold proud.
     The album also features some terrific flights of Floydian spaciness that ascend from the remnants of Beyond Light's buzzsaw black n' roll, blurts of blighted Sabbathian doom-groove, passages of lovely dusty folkiness overlaid with harmonica that recalls Neil Young's early stuff, and smatterings of an almost Ved Buens Ende-esque dissonance that all contribute to a creative take on the "DSBM" aesthetic. And the vocals are mostly delivered as a hushed, menacing whisper buried beneath layers of distortion and grit...as with a lot of the bands in this vein that I dig, there's a bit of a Katatonia vibe going on with the more subdued gloom-rock parts; there's one song in particular on this album, "Her Cold Hands", which is one of the catchiest black metal songs I've heard in ages, and it pairs up the band's apparent love of vintage goth rock tones and ragged black metal riffery better than anything else on this disc, producing a particularly riveting anthem to personal desolation. It takes a few songs for Paintings In The Hall to really get it's footing, but once it does, it delivers a distinctive sound that's equal parts contempo black metal, weather-beaten folk and arty gothic gloom.
Track Samples:
Sample : Tempest Of Light
Sample : Painted Memories
Sample : Her Cold Hands



BLACK GRAIL   Misticismo Regresivo   CD   (Uncreation)    12.99



    Some more killer stuff from out the Chilean black metal underground. Black Grail's debut album Misticismo Regresivo unleashes a terrifying blast of cavernous mayhem that falls somewhere in between the frenzied savagery of the classic South American death-thrash sound and the occult weirdness of All The Witches Dance-era Mortuary Drape. With quotes from Emil Cioran and Alejandro Jodorowsky interspersed among the band's arcane Spanish-language lyrics and surrealistic drawings (all of which can be found in the thick twenty-four page booklet that comes with Regresivo), Black Grail offers an unusually heady mix of raw, morbid metal and eccentric songwriting, one that exudes a dank, delirious atmosphere across these songs.
    Starting with the reverb-heavy production, this thing just echoes with a vintage eeriness; it almost sounds like something from a quarter of a century ago. Kicking into the ragged black thrash of opener "Diálogo entre Arcanos" amid a chaotic blur of distant swarming tremolo riffs and screaming guitar leads, the band follows the booming tom-heavy drum work and screeching vocals down into the obscure, dungeon-like atmosphere. That first, mostly instrumental track charges this with a chaotic, maniacal current that leads into the rest of the album; when they ravenously tear through "La CIudadela de Shiva", it's a release of pure devilswarm ferocity, the music shifting recklessly between blistering blackened thrash riffs and slower, moodier doom-laden darkness, while the singer's rabid screams and strange chant-like moans collide and intertwine in the shadows. That chaotic quality gives this a unique intensity, with much of the album erupting into bizarre discordant blastscapes and weirdly arrhythmic passages of insane atonal guitar shred and stuttering, blasting drums, twisting that classic South American black/death sound into something stranger. It's vicious stuff, with lots of cool atmospheric touches, like the instrumental track "Elevación Frustrada" that appears mid-album, a spooky, organ-drenched piece of gothic kosmische darkness, or the passage of ophidian psychedelia that introduces "Plegaria Catártica", the first few minutes sounding like something that could have come off of an old 70's era French prog rock record, up until it savagely erupts into another one of their hysterical black metal blasts. Killer stuff, and cool packaging, presented in a full-color slipcase with metallic foil stamped artwork.
Track Samples:
Sample : ÿþPlegaria Catártica
Sample : La Ciudadela de Shiva
Sample : ÿþFotofobia Póstuma



BODY, THE + THOU   You, Whom I Have Always Hated   CD   (Thrill Jockey)    14.99



    Back in stock. The ongoing collaboration between Baton Rouge doom metallers Thou and avant-sludge duo The Body continues apace with You, Whom I Have Always Hated, which picks up from their previous collab with more crushing noise-damaged heaviness, creeping doom-laden atmosphere and chunks of twisted mega-crush. The LP release of You, Whom... is certainly heavy enough on its own, but the expanded CD release also includes the entire Released From Love album that came out last year, for maximum art-sludge punishment.
    On the CD, that Released From Love material is first, delivering slow-motion crush colored in Crowleyian imagery and capped off with an impressive cover of the Vic Chesnutt song "Coward" off of his final album At The Cut, here re-imagined as a kind of funereal, doom-laden ambience. As the grueling slomo weight of opener "The Wheel Weaves as the Wheel Wills" spills forth, the presence of both bands feels more cumulative than collaborative; rather than being able to pick out recognizable traits of either, the bands succeed in coalescing into a massive grinding force, an avalanche of asphalt-encrusted down-tuned riffage and gut-churning bass, tribal drums slowly pounding out their hypnotic rhythms. It's not until the two-pronged vocal attack comes in that you can hear the respective front men doing their thing, Chip King's strained, breathless howl drifting over Bryan Funck's monstrous growl, both of these tortured voices echoing through the thin layer of black ether that hangs suspended above the pulverizing dirge. Second track "Manifest Alchemy" is more engaging, dropping passages of looping, caustic electronic noise in among the mournful minor key leads and the funereal atmosphere; it's no less heavy than the preceding song though, especially when it slips into the almost industrial-tinged clank and crush that slowly creeps across the final minutes of the side.
    It's "In Meetings Hearts Beat Closer" over on side two that really flattened me, though. Bringing an icy, almost black metal style tremolo riff to the rolling, percussive power that pushes this grim, noise-drenched dirge through the blackness, the bands come together to craft an effective, intensely eerie atmosphere on this one that doesn't let up, even as the song is hurled into the pummeling, Swans-like sturm und drang that drags "In Meetings" all the way down into that final coda of crackling radio-waves and garbled guitar noise. And to finish this collaboration off, Thou and The Body present a harrowing cover of Vic Chesnutt's "Coward", starting it off with a lone guitar weaving its sorrowful, bluesy song out over the abyss, eventually joined by King's hysterical screams sounding off in the distance. When the rest of the bands kick in, it becomes something both luminous and tortured, the gorgeous guitar harmonies rising like incense smoke curling from a censer. A blast of beautiful, soul-crushing sound.
    The other half of the disc features the newer You, Whom I Have Always Hated LP, and flows perfectly from the previous material. Again, you get this heavy industrial-tinged vibe as soon as the opener "Her Strongholds Unvanquishable" kicks in, with its pummeling metal-shop rhythms echoing beneath squalls of feedback and rumbling noise, leading straight into the song's immense, noise-drenched power-dirge. That sets the tone for the rest of the record, the two bands again fusing together into a monstrous, noisy roar of droning doom metal, the vocals shifting back and forth between guttural roars and that extreme high-pitched screamo-esque yelp, the slow rhythmic pound of hammers slamming against sheet metal ringing out while ultra-distorted, massively down-tuned riffs uncoil in slow motion. The group occasionally lurch into a kind of sickening, deformed groove on tracks like "The Devils Of Trust", while the unexpected cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Terrible Lie" really delivers on that quasi-industrial metal hinted at before, heaving mechanical rhythms and eerie droning guitars surrounded by bursts of processed feedback and distortion, resulting in one of the most interesting tracks to emerge from this experiment (not to mention one of the catchiest). Those industrial elements surface over the rest of the record, with lots of noisy loops and grating textures woven into the tectonic crush, but there's also a brief track titled "He Returns..." that offers its own gorgeously grim soundscape of distant machinelike thunder and ominous ambience towards the end, while the last song sees members of Assembly Of Light Choir joining the fray, lending their haunting vocal harmonies to a hideously lumbering dirge that plows vast black furrows into the earth. Great stuff that leaves me wanting to hear even more from this great team-up.
Track Samples:
Sample : The Wheel Weaves as the Wheel Wills
Sample : Lurking Fear
Sample : In Meetings Hearts Beat Closer
Sample : Her Strongholds Unvanquishable



BODY, THE + THOU   You, Whom I Have Always Hated   LP   (Thrill Jockey)    19.99



    Back in stock. The ongoing collaboration between Baton Rouge doom metallers Thou and avant-sludge duo The Body continues apace with You, Whom I Have Always Hated, which picks up from their previous collab with more crushing noise-damaged heaviness, creeping doom-laden atmosphere and chunks of twisted mega-crush. The LP release of You, Whom... is certainly heavy enough on its own, but the expanded CD release also includes the entire Released From Love album that came out last year, for maximum art-sludge punishment.
    The You, Whom I Have Always Hated LP flows perfectly from the previous collaboration. Again, you get this heavy industrial-tinged vibe as soon as the opener "Her Strongholds Unvanquishable" kicks in, with its pummeling metal-shop rhythms echoing beneath squalls of feedback and rumbling noise, leading straight into the song's immense, noise-drenched power-dirge. That sets the tone for the rest of the record, the two bands again fusing together into a monstrous, noisy roar of droning doom metal, the vocals shifting back and forth between guttural roars and that extreme high-pitched screamo-esque yelp, the slow rhythmic pound of hammers slamming against sheet metal ringing out while ultra-distorted, massively down-tuned riffs uncoil in slow motion. The group occasionally lurch into a kind of sickening, deformed groove on tracks like "The Devils Of Trust", while the unexpected cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Terrible Lie" really delivers on that quasi-industrial metal hinted at before, heaving mechanical rhythms and eerie droning guitars surrounded by bursts of processed feedback and distortion, resulting in one of the most interesting tracks to emerge from this experiment (not to mention one of the catchiest). Those industrial elements surface over the rest of the record, with lots of noisy loops and grating textures woven into the tectonic crush, but there's also a brief track titled "He Returns..." that offers its own gorgeously grim soundscape of distant machinelike thunder and ominous ambience towards the end, while the last song sees members of Assembly Of Light Choir joining the fray, lending their haunting vocal harmonies to a hideously lumbering dirge that plows vast black furrows into the earth. Great stuff that leaves me wanting to hear even more from this great team-up.
Track Samples:
Sample : The Wheel Weaves as the Wheel Wills
Sample : Lurking Fear
Sample : In Meetings Hearts Beat Closer
Sample : Her Strongholds Unvanquishable



BORIS   Absolutego   2 x LP   (Southern Lord)    24.99



    This pulverizing drone-metal classic from 1996 has been out of print for years now, but we recently stumbled across a stack of the vinyl version that Southern Lord put out in 2010, hidden away in some dark corner in the bowels of one of our suppliers warehouses. Move quick, as quantities are limited. Here's the ancient writeup on this album I did way back when the original Southern Lord CD came out:
   More than a decade after they were originally released, the first two Boris albums are finally making an appearance on vinyl courtesy of Southern Lord, who has reissued Absolutego and Amplifier Worship on 180 gram vinyl in gorgeous heavyweight tip-on gatefold jackets that feature new package design from Stephen O'Malley.
   Here's the crucial 1996 debut album from Japanese power drone / sludge / metal trio Boris, released domestically on doom metal powerhouse Souther Lord. This Super Low Frequency Version (an obvious reference to the Earth influence splattered all over this album) gives you new artwork and an additional bonus track, "Dronevil2", for a combined 2 tracks in 73 minutes, with "Absolutego" clocking in at close to 65 minutes (here split across multiple sides of the multi-album set by way of some creative editing). Freaking monolithic feedback-soaked slomo glacial drone-sludge. An essential part of the contemporary drone metal canon alongside Sunn O))) , Khanate, Growing, Isis, and Earth.
Track Samples:
Sample : Absolutego
Sample : Absolutego
Sample : Absolutego



BORIS with MERZBOW   Sun Baked Snow Cave   2 x LP   (Hydra Head)    27.98



We've got one (1) copy of this now out-of-print 2xLP in stock. Here's the original review from the CD release:
This latest collaboration between Japanese drone/sludge/rockers BORIS and legendary noise artist Masami Akita (MERZBOW) follows their previous matchups Megatone and 04092001, and returns to the drone-heavy fields explored on Megatone and BORIS’ Flood. Languidly strummed acoustic guitars open the album, gauzy and delicate as single notes are plucked and hung on a wide open expanse of sound. Eventually far-off rumbles and approaching electronic flashes begin to appear around ten minutes in. At twenty minutes into the track, the roar of massively downtuned guitar crashes in, as Merzbow beams in crackling electronic shrapnel and glitchy noise over the amorphous swells of noisy powerdrone. The final half of the record crawls out of the heavy swirl and drifts into black with ghostly blots of computer noise and feedback, as the album’s opening guitar movements re-appear as the coda. Packaged in a killer casewrapped gatefold jacket virtually identical to the original CD packaging, super striking, Stephen O'Malley's hyper-abstract album artwork printed in blue, black and white metallic inks. Limited to one thousand two hundred copies.


CARA NEIR   Stagnant Perceptions   CASSETTE   (Broken Limbs)    5.98



     Been getting into this Texas band's brand of frantic blackened hardcore more and more, largely through their killer cassette titles that Broken Limbs has been issuing over the past year or so. First heard 'em on that killer split with blackened noise-doom mutants Venowl, but here we're finally getting a full length from the group, a reissue of a super-limited CDR they self-released a while back. And Stagnant Perceptions is even better than the stuff I've heard up to this point, delivering eleven short, punchy tracks of blistering, despairing hardcore that seems to draw equally from the more miserable fringes of black metal, the harsher edge of 90's emo, and a big dose of filthy, stench-filled grindcrust. Don't get spooked by the "E" word, though. Where I'm hearing that is in Garry Brents's use of jangling, dissonant guitar chords and brief breaks where the band's furious blackened thrashpunk suddenly swerves into muted, almost solemn melody while singer Chris Francis shreds his larynx over top, moments that are reminiscent of harder-edged stuff like Pg.99 and Saetia. These guys whip up a killer sound here, and the recording quality is the best yet from 'em, powerful and punchy and huge, especially considering that you're hearing a duo.
     There's some great, technical guitarwork in here in addition to some hauntingly tremulous melody weaved throughout the songs, alongside bursts of absolutely savage blackened grindcore (which are aided by guitar and vocal contributions from Dorian Rainwater from Noisear/Phobia), and some of the guitar parts bring an almost mathy quality to certain parts of the album. Definitely not just another Trap Them / Young And In The Way clone, Cara Neir deliver their own distinctive strain of black metal-influenced hardcore, possessed with a frantic, frayed energy and a subtle progginess (especially in the rhythm section) along with a couple of moments where the band suddenly swells into awestruck beauty and majestic melody that's reminiscent of the likes of Fall Of Efrafa and Agalloch, all of which come together to really set it apart from the hordes of other bands working within this realm. Not to mention, the songs themselves are pretty goddamn catchy. This is definitely a band that fans of stuff like Young And In The Way should be checking out. Limited to one hundred copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : The Apothecary
Sample : Amaranthine Figures
Sample : Imperialist Design



CATHEDRAL   Forest Of Equilibrium   2 x LP   (Earache)    25.98



    Here's the latest vinyl reissue of Cathedral's classic debut Forest Of Equilibrium, paired up with their Soul Sacrifice EP, issued by Earache/Century Media.
    Long before doom metal burst into popularity with both metalheads and non-metalheads alike at the end of the 90's, there was Cathedral, the British band that helped to reshape the sound of doom and push it into new areas of sonic extremism, and who became the flagship band for Rise Above Records, the label that would bring such titans of slow n' low heaviness as Church Of Misery, Moss, Electric Wizard, Unearthly Trance, Witchcraft, Orange Goblin, Sunn O))), Sleep and Goatsnake to your stereo. During the 80's, there were a handful of bands that continued to fly the flag of trad doom that Sabbath kickstarted, Saint Vitus, Candlemass, Trouble, and the whole Maryland doom crowd, for instance, but there wasn’t anybody as slow or as heavy as Cathedral, who took the notion of the crawling Sabbathian riff to whole new levels of torpor. Formed after singer Lee Dorrian bailed from grindcore pioneers Napalm Death in 1989, Cathedral combined the heaviest modes of classic doom with Dorrian's unique vocal style, a love of 70's prog rock, and a guitar sound that seems as if it had been carved out of slabs of pure granite. They signed to Earache and released their debut album Forest Of Equilibrium, which has become one of the all time classics in the doom metal pantheon; later albums would pursue a groovier, more rocking sound that the band pretty much perfected on 1993's The Ethereal Mirror. Both of these crucial early albums have just been reissued by Earache in expanded packages that have the original albums bundled with previously out-of-print bonus material, and each comes with a DVD that features a documentary on the making of the album; both are fucking ESSENTIAL for doom metal fans.
    When Cathedral's Forest Of Equilibrium came out in 1990, there really wasn't anything else like it; the British doomsters had produced one of the most crushing, sorrowful doom albums up to that point, heavy on the Sabbath influence of course, but IMMENSELY slower and heavier and more extreme, with Lee Dorrian's deep distinctive growl still holding over some of the grit and hellfire from his brief stint as the frontman for UK grinders Napalm Death. Not only that, but there was a heavy 70's prog rock influence going on with the trippy flutes and psychedelic flourishes that appeared sporadically throughout the album, a unique touch that would later influence legions of newer doom crews. The duo of guitarists Garry Jennings and Adam Lehan crafted monolithic, suffocating heavy slow-motion riffs that crept over the pounding glacial drumming, creating some of the heaviest metal ever heard up to that point. But the album starts off with a sense of disorientation as the flue and acoustic guitar of the intro piece "Picture Of Beauty And Innocence" suggest something much more airy and light, only to pave the way for the sickly harmonies and slurred doom of "Commiserating The Celebration". One of the only eruptions of speed on the album is the short song "Soul Sacrifice", which starts off as a pounding grooving sludge jam, but then evolves into a ripping Judas Priest-like riff. Aside from that song, though, the band moves through these epic, ultra-long songs (several come close to the ten minute mark) like a wave of molasses, coloring their ponderous Sabbath influenced doom with morose, despair-filled minor-key melodies and those meandering Comus-like flutes.
    The end of the cd features the legendary Soul Sacrifice EP, which some consider to be one of Cathedral's finest releases; there's an extended version of the title track, which also appears on Forest Of Equilibrium, as well as three exclusive tracks, "Autumn Twilight", "Frozen Rapture", and ""Golden Blood (Flooding)", all of which continue in the same oppressive style of doom as Funeral.
    And on top of all of that, both reissues are packaged with newly re-designed booklets and inserts that present Patchett's artwork in extended form. Both reissues come highly recommended, and are totally essential for any doom fans that don't already have these classic albums in their collection.
Track Samples:
Sample : Autumn Twilight
Sample : Reaching Happiness, Touching Pain
Sample : Serpent Eve
Sample : Soul Sacrifice



CHAOS ECHOES   Transient   CD   (Nuclear War Now! Productions)    10.98



    Available on both gatefold CD, and a stunning deluxe 2xLP edition that comes in a thick case-wrapped gatefold jacket with a foldout color poster, a massive twenty-page LP sized booklet, and an obi strip.
    Ever since being announced late last year, this new album from weirdo French deathdoom outfit Chaos Echoes has been eagerly awaited around the C-Blast office. These guys had already started to garner some buzz around their earlier EPs, and their first proper full length was being touted as one of the more unusual and avant-garde releases to come from Nuclear War Now this year. And they weren't foolin' - Transient emanates a mysterious, narcotic vibe that's quite unlike anything else to come from the esteemed underground metal label, an intoxicating blend of droning chthonic deathdoom, roiling blackened death metal, and ritualistic sun-blasted ambience that sweeps across the beginning of the album like the sounds of a deathcult procession making it's way through a sweltering bazaar. The sounds of chimes and ringing feedback lilts over the steadily encroaching waves of downtuned heaviness, but when the band finally kicks into "Senses of the Nonexistent", they unleash a haltingly syncopated doom-dirge that moves in long strides over the lockstep pummel of the rhythm section and a chorus of distant chanting.
    The album settles quickly into that ritualized atmosphere, unfolding like a monstrous droning doom-trance, inexorably growing in force and expanding in rhythmic power, and I'm reminded of both the occult Hawkwindian hypno-sludge of Saturnalia Temple and the krautrock-influenced black throb of Aluk Todolo while listening to this, echoing in the way that these Frenchmen grind out their fearsome, repetitious heaviness. That opening track flows right into the next, paving the way for a sprawling multi-part epic, the music drifting from out of that monstrous grinding deathdoom into dense fields of psychedelic guitar drone and rumbling black drift, long stretches of feedback-drenched ambience and Earth-en amplifier roar cutting huge swathes through the album as they lead into more of that titanic slow-moving metallic crush. The doom-laden riffs often fray apart into swells of swarming blackened buzz or howling psych-shred, then swallowed up in a churning maelstrom of dragged-out blackened riffage and mournful sub-blasted dirge. Later on, they lavish the churning rhythmic workout that dominates the nearly fifteen minute "Advent of My Genesis" with druggy Hammond organs, and blur into a strange, almost Penderecki-esque field of dissonant modern classical darkness that comes out of the cyclonic blasting chaos of "Kyôrakushugi" . Along with that killer Hammond accompaniment, the band also makes use of synthesizers and electric piano, adding additional sonic textures and swells of sinister jazziness to their hallucinatory assault, even dipping into almost Sunn-like experimental soundscapery at times. And the closer is Transient's shining moment, a long and labyrinthine descent into the depths of blackened prog called "Soul Ruiner" that sounds for all the world like a black metal-tinged Univers Zero track, complex rhythmic interplay and off-kilter time signatures meeting grinding minor key riffage and spiraling guitars, croaked demonic vocals billowing through a black fog amid blasts of terrifying feedback and amp rumble, eventually mutating into a frenzy of blastbeats and droning tremolo riffs, prayer bells and dazed chanting that stretches like a mass of black tendrils through the close of the album. Awesome.
Track Samples:
Sample : Soul Ruiner
Sample : Senses of the Nonexistent
Sample : Interzone V: Ignorance Is Bliss



CHAOS ECHOES   Transient   2 x LP   (Nuclear War Now! Productions)    33.00



    Available on both gatefold CD, and a stunning deluxe 2xLP edition that comes in a thick case-wrapped gatefold jacket with a foldout color poster, a massive twenty-page LP sized booklet, and an obi strip.
    Ever since being announced late last year, this new album from weirdo French deathdoom outfit Chaos Echoes has been eagerly awaited around the C-Blast office. These guys had already started to garner some buzz around their earlier EPs, and their first proper full length was being touted as one of the more unusual and avant-garde releases to come from Nuclear War Now this year. And they weren't foolin' - Transient emanates a mysterious, narcotic vibe that's quite unlike anything else to come from the esteemed underground metal label, an intoxicating blend of droning chthonic deathdoom, roiling blackened death metal, and ritualistic sun-blasted ambience that sweeps across the beginning of the album like the sounds of a deathcult procession making it's way through a sweltering bazaar. The sounds of chimes and ringing feedback lilts over the steadily encroaching waves of downtuned heaviness, but when the band finally kicks into "Senses of the Nonexistent", they unleash a haltingly syncopated doom-dirge that moves in long strides over the lockstep pummel of the rhythm section and a chorus of distant chanting.
    The album settles quickly into that ritualized atmosphere, unfolding like a monstrous droning doom-trance, inexorably growing in force and expanding in rhythmic power, and I'm reminded of both the occult Hawkwindian hypno-sludge of Saturnalia Temple and the krautrock-influenced black throb of Aluk Todolo while listening to this, echoing in the way that these Frenchmen grind out their fearsome, repetitious heaviness. That opening track flows right into the next, paving the way for a sprawling multi-part epic, the music drifting from out of that monstrous grinding deathdoom into dense fields of psychedelic guitar drone and rumbling black drift, long stretches of feedback-drenched ambience and Earth-en amplifier roar cutting huge swathes through the album as they lead into more of that titanic slow-moving metallic crush. The doom-laden riffs often fray apart into swells of swarming blackened buzz or howling psych-shred, then swallowed up in a churning maelstrom of dragged-out blackened riffage and mournful sub-blasted dirge. Later on, they lavish the churning rhythmic workout that dominates the nearly fifteen minute "Advent of My Genesis" with druggy Hammond organs, and blur into a strange, almost Penderecki-esque field of dissonant modern classical darkness that comes out of the cyclonic blasting chaos of "Kyôrakushugi" . Along with that killer Hammond accompaniment, the band also makes use of synthesizers and electric piano, adding additional sonic textures and swells of sinister jazziness to their hallucinatory assault, even dipping into almost Sunn-like experimental soundscapery at times. And the closer is Transient's shining moment, a long and labyrinthine descent into the depths of blackened prog called "Soul Ruiner" that sounds for all the world like a black metal-tinged Univers Zero track, complex rhythmic interplay and off-kilter time signatures meeting grinding minor key riffage and spiraling guitars, croaked demonic vocals billowing through a black fog amid blasts of terrifying feedback and amp rumble, eventually mutating into a frenzy of blastbeats and droning tremolo riffs, prayer bells and dazed chanting that stretches like a mass of black tendrils through the close of the album. Awesome.
Track Samples:
Sample : Soul Ruiner
Sample : Senses of the Nonexistent
Sample : Interzone V: Ignorance Is Bliss



CHRISTIAN DEATH   Ashes (Ash Grey Vinyl)   LP   (Season Of Mist)    19.99



    Now available on vinyl as a special "30th Anniversary Edition" from Season Of Mist, in gatefold packaging on ash grey vinyl in a limited edition of 500 copies, released as part of their "Masters Of Goth" series - would love to see where that might lead!
    While Christian Death did put out some highly listenable material after the departure of founding member Rozz Williams (at least early on), there's really only three Christian Death albums that you really, really need in your collection: the pioneering and provocative 1982 debut Only Theatre Of Pain, and the two albums with both Williams and Valor Kand that followed, Catastrophe Ballet and Ashes. All of these are key works in the death rock canon, and their combined influence has reached well into the realms of extreme metal, industrial music and beyond; any headbanger who turns their nose up at Christian Death's early works simply based on the band's campy look should consider sitting down and listening to these albums side by side with Celtic Frost's 80s output to see just how far the band's black tendrils extended. There's been a recent resurgence of interest in the early Christian Death material, though, what with this whole death rock revival thing that's been going on for the past few years, and it looks like a whole new generation of listeners has been turning on to the weird, morbid genius of Rozz Williams. Not a moment too soon, I say. We've had the reissue of Only Theatre Of Pain available here for awhile, but up till now never stocked the following two albums, both of which were reissued by Season Of Mist in 2009; featuring booklet materials from the original first edition LP releases on L'Invitation Au Suicide and newly re-mastered, both come with the highest recommendation for anyone obsessed with true death rock and the most macabre fringes of post-punk.
    Originally released in 1985 on French label L'Invitation Au Suicide, Ashes was the final album from the Rozz Williams-fronted lineup of Christian Death, and an end to an era. While I won't completely write off the post-Williams output from Christian Death (the subsequent 1986 album Atrocities is pretty goddamn good), this was the last chapter in what had been a genre-defining run of albums, now iconic entries in the American death rock canon. On their third album, Christian Death were getting even more progressive, evolving into something totally unique within the realm of American post-punk. Williams' vocals are more measured, less overwrought than before, and there's a heavier feel to this material; maybe more so here than with any of the other Christian Death records, you can really pick out the elements of their sound that so enamored Tom Warrior - one listen to the driving, almost metal-tinged power that emanates off of the opening title track, and you can hear echoes of what would later emerge on Celtic Frost's Into The Pandemonium, the end of the song showcasing a ferocity rarely heard in this era of the band. From there, the eerie instrumental "Ashes Part 2" leads into more of Rozz's penchant for experimental soundscapery, and all throughout the album he laces the tracks with peripheral traces of Gregorian chant and ghostly mechanical sounds, squealing violins and nightmarish sound collage, even dreamlike forays into Weimar cabaret on "Lament (Over The Shadows)". The actual songs are some of their best, too. "When I Was Bed" is classic death rock, catchy and propulsive and draped in elegant shadow, and "Face" is the band at their churning best, fusing a smoldering psychedelic quality to the rolling tribal drums and handclaps and cob-webbed post-punk guitars, another all time favorite. Other highlights on the album include the slow brooding atmosphere that wraps around "The Luxury Of Tears", the metallic mausoleum creep of "Before The Rain" that transforms into something surprisingly triumphant, and the bad-dream dread of closer "Of The Wound", the sound of a screaming infant laid over a nightmarish string section and discordant piano, taking the album out into a final sprawl of surrealistic weirdness. A genuine classic of morbid post-punk.
Track Samples:
Sample : The Luxury of Tears
Sample : Face
Sample : Before the Rain [#][*]
Sample : Ashes



CHRISTIAN DEATH   Catastrophe Ballet (Bone White Vinyl)   LP   (Season Of Mist)    19.99



    Now available on vinyl as a special "30th Anniversary Edition" from Season Of Mist, in gatefold packaging on bone white vinyl in a limited edition of 500 copies, released as part of their "Masters Of Goth" series - would love to see where that might lead!
    While Christian Death did put out some highly listenable material after the departure of founding member Rozz Williams (at least early on), there's really only three Christian Death albums that you really, really need in your collection: the pioneering and provocative 1982 debut Only Theatre Of Pain, and the two albums with both Williams and Valor Kand that followed, Catastrophe Ballet and Ashes. All of these are key works in the death rock canon, and their combined influence has reached well into the realms of extreme metal, industrial music and beyond; any headbanger who turns their nose up at Christian Death's early works simply based on the band's campy look should consider sitting down and listening to these albums side by side with Celtic Frost's 80s output to see just how far the band's black tendrils extended. There's been a recent resurgence of interest in the early Christian Death material, though, what with this whole death rock revival thing that's been going on for the past few years, and it looks like a whole new generation of listeners has been turning on to the weird, morbid genius of Rozz Williams. Not a moment too soon, I say. We've had the reissue of Only Theatre Of Pain available here for awhile, but up till now never stocked the following two albums, both of which were reissued by Season Of Mist in 2009; featuring booklet materials from the original first edition LP releases on L'Invitation Au Suicide and newly re-mastered, both come with the highest recommendation for anyone obsessed with true death rock and the most macabre fringes of post-punk.
    Originally released by the French label L'Invitation Au Suicide in 1984, Catastrophe Ballet is an all-time deathrock classic, part of the essential Christian Death canon. It was also the first release to feature new members Valor Kand and Gitane Demone, both of the LA post-punk outfit Pompeii 99; for this new album, Williams and his new lineup shifted away from the creepy, transgressive punk of their debut, into a more expansive and psychedelic sound that was slightly more accessible, but no less twisted. Dedicated to the memory of André Breton and featuring excerpts from Jean Lorrain's classic text of nightmarish decadence, Nightmares Of An Ether Drinker, Ballet saw Williams getting deeper into his obsession with French surrealism and Dadaism, though this did nothing to improve his terminally dour mood. From it's opening salvo of sinister, kitschy haunted house organs that pave the way for the heavy bass-driven post-punk of "Beneath His Widow" (a bonus track that appears here for the first time), to the surrealistic washes of experimental texture and droning instrumentation of "Sleepwalk", the driving, disaffected menace and gloomy elegance of "The Drowning" and "Evening Falls", the pounding tribal rhythms and twitchy, stop-start momentum of "Cervix Couch" smeared in trippy Hammond organ textures, and the ritualistic dreamlike haze of "The Glass House", the band's sound was clearly becoming more sophisticated and experimental. That fey, androgynous howl that Williams belted out on the first record is replaced by a richer, more resonant croon that's frequently been compared to David Bowie, and he was often joined by Gitane Demone's soulful, sometimes bluesy wail, which added a new wrinkle to Christian Death's sound. Many of the songs on Ballet are sublimely catchy, but they also ventured further afield into the kind of creepy experimental soundscape work that Williams would explore with his solo projects later in the decade, tracks like "The Fleeing Somnambulist" blending together looping vocals, vast sprawls of warbling drone and distant industrial rumble, swells of psychedelic electronic noise and random percussion, dreamlike terrain strafed with the dark carnival sounds of what sounds like a steam-powered calliope. This results in one of the more adventurous dark post-punk albums from the era, combining themes of violence and death and eroticism with haunting hooks and an unsettling, though often strikingly beautiful vibe as no one else could. Crucial.
Track Samples:
Sample : The Fleeing Somnambulist
Sample : Cervix Couch
Sample : Awake at the Wall
Sample : Androgynous Noise Hand Permeates



CLAUDIO SIMONETTI'S GOBLIN   The Murder Collection   LP PICTURE DISC   (Rustblade)    31.00



     Shit has gotten completely out of hand with the Goblin guys. It seems we're now looking at least four different versions of the band that are currently active, presumably due to internal dysfunction amongst the founding members. It's making it tough to keep track of what's what. On the other hand, there's a LOT of Goblin related stuff coming out, whereas ten years ago it was virtually impossible to, say, find a decent copy of Suspiria here in the US without having to sell a kidney to fund the venture. I'm planning on stocking the new Goblin Rebirth album that just came out from Relapse, as what I've heard so far has been pretty terrific. Right now, however, I'm having a Simonetti moment. He started working with the Italian industrial music label Rustblade recently, and suddenly we're getting all kinds of cool stuff from the famed Goblin keyboardist. You'll find the brand new thirtieth anniversary reissue of Simonetti's awesome Demons score elsewhere on this week's new arrivals list, one of my favorite recent horror soundtrack reissues, and here we have a less-essential (but still plenty enjoyable) limited edition picture disc from Simonetti that (once again) sees him revisiting some of Goblin's most classic themes.
     Released under the name Claudio Simonetti's Goblin, The Murder Collection is a collectable art-object/collection of revamped themes from the band, which is really just a renamed version of Daemonia, Simonetti's long running heavy metal/prog rock outfit. I'm a fan of Daemonia's stuff as well, so it's a blast hearing them do new rearranged versions of nine of Goblin's best-loved tracks, adding some of that metallic edge that Daemonia has always had. They don't stray too far from the feel of the originals, but longtime Goblin fans will definitely notice a difference; Simonetti's synthesizers are given prominence, so if you're a fan of his iconic electronic textures and style, you'll get a lot of that with this record. The new version of "Phenomena" particularly sticks out, the band reworking the second half of the song into a monstrous Hammond-dosed boogie, and Zombi's "L'alba Dei Morti Viventi" gets some serious metallic chug added to the song's sinister, droning prog rock groove. The version of "Roller" that appears here is lushly arranged, and "Non Ho Sonno" is given more metallic bite than before; a rendition of "E Suono Rock" off of Goblin's classic 1978 album Il Fantastico Viaggio Del "Bagarozzo" Mark is turned into a stunning piece of jazz-laced prog metal, and the record is capped off with an especially rollicking version of "Zombi". It's all classic stuff that's hardly necessary for fans who already own the original scores, but if you're a big Simonetti / Daemonia junkie, it's an enjoyable alternate take on this music. Gorgeous to boot, though the "spooky child" artwork seems a little too contemporary for this sort of stuff. Released in a limited hand-numbered edition of four hundred ninety-nine copies on 180 gram vinyl; all of the copies that we received from the distributor do not include the obi strip that apparently came with some of these records, FYI.


COLD IN BERLIN   The Comfort Of Loss & Dust   CD   (Candlelight)    15.99



    Really digging this new one from UK heavies Cold In Berlin. With their third full-length, the band offers a compelling mix of 80's goth rock moodiness and molten doom metal that's thankfully free of the sort of flowery, funereal moping you might otherwise expect from that combo. It's something grittier and tougher, compared by some as a cross "between Cathedral and Siouxsie Sioux". On paper, that might seem an odd confluence of sounds, but on Comfort of Loss & Dust, I can definitely see where people might draw comparisons between Cold In Berlin singer Maya and the chilling, swoonsome wail of a younger Siouxsie; the combination of those dramatic vocals and the band's churning, slow-motion heaviness results in a distinctive, doleful take on modern doom metal that's flecked with a peculiar witchiness.
    Maya's singing is definitely a big draw, a nice change of pace from the seemingly endless parade of Coven worship that seemed to haunt the doom scene in recent years. And the grinding, ultra-Sabbathoid riffage and fuzz-blasted heaviness nods towards the influence of the aforementioned Cathedral as well as Electric Wizard's earlier stuff. There's moody, reverb-drenched guitar that starts to emerge as the album lumbers through these ten songs, a hint of an older gothy melody seeping up through some of the album's more brooding passages of thunderous doom, and the band's apparent love of classic goth/post-punk continues to inform the songwriting. Some of the standout tracks include "Pray For Us", where Maya's wail is met with a deep, gothy male voice on the powerful chorus, while the drums shift into a heavy, almost tribal rhythm that pounds slowly beneath the dark guitar melodies and droning riffs - killer stuff that sort of feels like something akin to late 80's Sisters Of Mercy transformed into a pummeling sludge metal anthem. And they slip from that lurching doom into a long spoken word passage on "Mysterious Spells" that's laid out over waves of murky industrial drift, eventually re-emerging as a devastating dirge on the other end, suddenly casting an evil pall over everything. And the soaring melodic sludge of "Coming Back For More" is super catchy, an almost gloompop hook drenched in gluey guitars and the rhythms section's elephantine tempo. It's a skillful balance between crushing doom-laden power and the band's softer, more introspective side, with a dark sensuality in the lyrics that makes this album stand out even further, blending visions of violence, debasement, and eroticism together into powerful imagery.
Track Samples:
Sample : She Walks
Sample : Pray For Us
Sample : Mysterious Spells



CONFESSOR   Condemned   CD   (Earache)    15.99



     I know I'm in the minority. You'd be hard pressed to find a more polarizing band on the early 90s Earache Records roster than the North Carolina outfit Confessor. There are those of us that think that these guys were demented geniuses who delivered one of the most unique sounds to come out of the American metal underground. Then there are those that think that Confessor were total garbage. While I strongly disagree with those that hold that opinion, you can't argue that Confessor's weirdo tech-doom isn't a challenging listen, and not for all tastes. Musically, these guys were ridiculous, playing a strange sort of doom-laden metal wrapped around bizarre architectural riffing and brain-scrambling time signatures that often had them compared to prog-thrash giants Watchtower. But it was the unique, love-em-or-hate-em vocals of frontman Scott Jeffreys that either endeared or enraged audiences, and this weird mixture hasn't gotten any less confounding in the decades since the release of the band's infamous 1991 debut. Condemned is a classic slab of oddball prog-doom that's finally been reissued after a long stint in OOP-purgatory, now available on both CD and vinyl, and it's as always recommended (with reservations) to anyone obsessed with the more off-kilter, prog-damaged end of extreme metal. Your certainly not going to hear anything else quite like it.
     Confessor scramble your head right out of the gate with the lopsided math-doom of opener "Alone", as crushing, angular riffs stagger around the rhythm section's confusional time signatures and oddball rhythmic changes, but it's Scott Jeffreys and his high-pitched, almost Geddy Lee-esque wail that pushes this into utterly singular territory; seemingly singing either behind or ahead of the beat, Jeffreys delivers one of the strangest vocal performances in extreme metal history, enough so that plenty of folks have written this album off completely simply due to his singing style, finding them entirely too off-putting. For some like myself, however, his monotone falsetto yowl has an oddball charm that's intrinsic to Condemned's bizarre vibe, and indeed continue to grow on me with each new listen. It's been described by some detractors as sounding almost improvisational, but there are these weird little melodic hooks that emerge in his singing that weirdly work so well, there's got to be a twisted logic behind them. Musically, these nine songs are pretty far out, definitely very goddamn heavy, but in the form of jaggedly arranged prog-doom riffscapes that in some ways share Watchtower's level of difficulty, albeit fused to a slower, more Sabbathoid level of heaviness; backed by a crackerjack rhythm section (who would later go on to form the math-metal band Loincloth), the band frequently threatens to drop into a monstrous groove (and sometimes delivers - whenever that happens, it's absolutely skull-flattening), but more often subverts those buildups and expectations by spinning out into yet another, even more complicated blast of snare-heavy anti-funk. It's probably only comparable to what Candiria were doing rhythmically a few years later, and listening to this again makes me think that Confessor had to be more than a little influential on that NYC jazz/fusion/deathcore outfit. Man, I love this album. These guys were utterly unique and way ahead of their time, attacking their music with a rhythmic complexity that other bands wouldn't really begin to explore for several more years. And even then, no one ever came close to capturing the insane feel of this stuff.
Track Samples:
Sample : Suffer
Sample : Condemned
Sample : Alone



CONFESSOR   Condemned   LP   (Earache)    23.00



     I know I'm in the minority. You'd be hard pressed to find a more polarizing band on the early 90s Earache Records roster than the North Carolina outfit Confessor. There are those of us that think that these guys were demented geniuses who delivered one of the most unique sounds to come out of the American metal underground. Then there are those that think that Confessor were total garbage. While I strongly disagree with those that hold that opinion, you can't argue that Confessor's weirdo tech-doom isn't a challenging listen, and not for all tastes. Musically, these guys were ridiculous, playing a strange sort of doom-laden metal wrapped around bizarre architectural riffing and brain-scrambling time signatures that often had them compared to prog-thrash giants Watchtower. But it was the unique, love-em-or-hate-em vocals of frontman Scott Jeffreys that either endeared or enraged audiences, and this weird mixture hasn't gotten any less confounding in the decades since the release of the band's infamous 1991 debut. Condemned is a classic slab of oddball prog-doom that's finally been reissued after a long stint in OOP-purgatory, now available on both CD and vinyl, and it's as always recommended (with reservations) to anyone obsessed with the more off-kilter, prog-damaged end of extreme metal. Your certainly not going to hear anything else quite like it.
     Confessor scramble your head right out of the gate with the lopsided math-doom of opener "Alone", as crushing, angular riffs stagger around the rhythm section's confusional time signatures and oddball rhythmic changes, but it's Scott Jeffreys and his high-pitched, almost Geddy Lee-esque wail that pushes this into utterly singular territory; seemingly singing either behind or ahead of the beat, Jeffreys delivers one of the strangest vocal performances in extreme metal history, enough so that plenty of folks have written this album off completely simply due to his singing style, finding them entirely too off-putting. For some like myself, however, his monotone falsetto yowl has an oddball charm that's intrinsic to Condemned's bizarre vibe, and indeed continue to grow on me with each new listen. It's been described by some detractors as sounding almost improvisational, but there are these weird little melodic hooks that emerge in his singing that weirdly work so well, there's got to be a twisted logic behind them. Musically, these nine songs are pretty far out, definitely very goddamn heavy, but in the form of jaggedly arranged prog-doom riffscapes that in some ways share Watchtower's level of difficulty, albeit fused to a slower, more Sabbathoid level of heaviness; backed by a crackerjack rhythm section (who would later go on to form the math-metal band Loincloth), the band frequently threatens to drop into a monstrous groove (and sometimes delivers - whenever that happens, it's absolutely skull-flattening), but more often subverts those buildups and expectations by spinning out into yet another, even more complicated blast of snare-heavy anti-funk. It's probably only comparable to what Candiria were doing rhythmically a few years later, and listening to this again makes me think that Confessor had to be more than a little influential on that NYC jazz/fusion/deathcore outfit. Man, I love this album. These guys were utterly unique and way ahead of their time, attacking their music with a rhythmic complexity that other bands wouldn't really begin to explore for several more years. And even then, no one ever came close to capturing the insane feel of this stuff.
Track Samples:
Sample : Suffer
Sample : Condemned
Sample : Alone



CONVIVIAL HERMIT, THE   Issue One   MAGAZINE   (Convivial Hermit)    4.99



   The folks behind the excellent metal zine Convivial Hermit have come out with a limited-edition reprint of the very first issue from 2004, long out of print. It's essentially identical to the original, except stapled together and not perfect bound. Still a great read from one of my favorite underground music rags; even this early in its existence, Convivial Hermit editor Yury was cultivating a thoughtful, intelligent mag focused on dark, atmospheric music that spanned an eclectic variety of sounds and forms, centering around themes of art, the occult, nature, misanthropy, and romanticism. The inaugural issue featured the same sort of in-depth interviews and enthusiastic energy found in later issues, with similarly solid writing, and featured lengthy and engaging interviews with Finnish funeral doom gods Skepticism, Romanian avant-garde black metal band Negura Bunget, Finnish darkfolk outfit Tenhi, folk-flecked Irish black metal legends Primordial, Austrian black metallers Abigor, Summoning, Amestigon and Dornenreich, German black metal/neo-folksters Empyrium, Finnish doom metallers Dolorian and Yearning, Aussie black metallers Abyssic Hate, raw German black metaller Akerbeltz, the atmospheric Maryland death metal band Garden Of Shadows, obscure Finnish black/death band Thromdarr, classic funeral doom outfits like Norway's Funeral and Ireland's Mourning Beloveth, Brazilian doomdeath titans Mythological Cold Towers, symphonic Swedish black metallers Parnassus, melodic Finnish death metallers Nocturnal Winds, neo-folk bands like Hekate. It's rounded out with well-written essays on "Some Thoughts On The Concept Of Originality" and "Reawakening The Impulse For Exploration", a piece on Diogenes of Sinope who helped to develop the Cynic philosophy, a well-argued defense on the merits of printed zines, and more, as well as that massive review section that delivers equally in-depth criticism on everything from uber-cult black metal to experimental noise artists like Daniel Menche and Merzbow, to dark industrial artists like Puissance and IRM. Even though it came out a decade ago, this is still an indispensable resource guide to dark, experimental music of the early oughts.


CORRUPTED   Nadie   12"   (Throne)    19.99



    Back in stock. A classic slab of apocalyptic sludge from legendary Japanese band Corrupted, Nadie is once again back in print via the recently reactivated Spanish label Throne, re-mastered and presented in gatefold packaging with a large fold-out poster, all featuring strikingly grim images from equally legendary Japanese photographer Kyotaka Tsurisaki. As one of the earliest releases from the band, this is pre-piano Corrupted, pre-post rock grandeur, rising from the depths of their torturously slow, jet-black wall of sludge. 1995's Nadie captures Corrupted at their most primitive and putrid, rolling out three lengthy songs of filthy, glacial crustmetal carved from the slowed-down Sabbath-meets-hardcore of bands like Buzzoven, Eyehategod, and their diseased ilk, but put their own unique spin on this sort of abject torture by singing all of the lyrics in Spanish, and with their predilections towards exercises in droning, bulldozing mono-riffs. The two songs on the A-side, "Nadie" and "Bajo De Cero", are goddamn titanic, crushing slabs of molten slo-mo metal with smatterings of disgusting Black Sabbath-esque doom-blooze emerging out of the roiling repeato-riff tar-pit, singer Chew bellowing over the slugfuck heaviosity. In the years that followed Nadie, this sound has been copied by a ton of bands, but when this originally came out it really set a new benchmark for bludgeoning skull-caving sludge. And even here, Corrupted wove their eerie melodies into their quarter speed metallic crush, threading trails of phosphorescent melodic guitar and swarms of feedback that wisp off the skull-flattening riffage.
    The flipside is made up of the side-long track "Esclavo", slowly rising out of a fog of droning feedback and squealing amp noise, the band summoning a thick miasma of electric hum and shrieking distortion that a simple, devastating riff slowly emerges from, that noisy intro leading into a barbaric dirge that crawls across the entire side, occasionally dropping out into brief stretches of howling noise before returning with another malevolent riff, gradually crafting an anguished, hopeless atmosphere while what sounds like electronic noise (but is most likely just some seriously overdriven guitar feedback) gargles in the depths of the mix like garbled Morse code transmissions. It's about as close to the sound of a collapsing planet as you can get in the studio.
    A classic of ultra-bleak heaviosity. Limited to four hundred copies.


CROOKED NECKS   Faded Fluorescence   CASSETTE   (Black Horizons)    7.99



    This glorious grungy gloom-rock EP from Crooked Necks is apparently the final release from the band, who have brought us some terrific contempo post-punk darkness in recent years. Initially starting out as a similarly mournful sounding black metal outfit, these guys eventually morphed into a kind of infectiously gloomy, distortion-drenched pop with undercurrents of black metal and noise buried beneath the hooks, a sound that's essentially perfected on Faded Fluorescence. All five of these songs worm their way through your morose mind-meat, as tracks like opener "Tornado Formations" bring together driving Peter Hook-style bass lines and swirling murky keyboards with droning, jangling guitars, with near somnambulant, monotone vocals. You can easily make out the sort of stuff that influenced Crooked Necks' sound (Joy Division, The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen), but there's still those remnants of blackened gristle that cling to these songs, bits of black metal-esque debris a la the occasional snarling vocal lost in the blizzard of distortion in the background, or the faint buzzing tremolo riffs that bleed into the band's explosive choruses. Naturally, this is all highly recommended if you're into stuff like Deafheaven, Cold Body Radiation, Alcest, etc., but these guys take an overall dirtier and dingier approach to that sort of vaguely black metal-influenced gloompop. The distorted noisiness of this sets it apart as well, with songs like "From The Roots" shimmering with powerful, blissed out waves of overdriven tremolo'd fuzz and intense, high-pitched screaming that makes this sort of sound like some strange but enthralling cross between Loveless-era My Bloody Valentine and the frenzied suicidal black metal of Silencer. Nicely packaged like all Black Horizons tapes, housed in a green metallic paper cover with silver printing and a full-color insert, and limited to two hundred copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : Tornado Formations
Sample : And Now I'm Dying
Sample : Broken Into Shapes



CRYOSTASIUM   self-titled   CD   (Satanath)    9.98



    The latest full-length from this extremely prolific Boston-based black metal outfit is an eponymous blast of unearthly dissonance, delivering more of that unique sonic ugliness that I had previously described as "a strange and hallucinatory mix of atonal bass guitar, warbling ambient feedback, simple off-kilter drumbeats, sort of akin to an even more fucked-up and discordant take on Xasthur's bleary low-fi black metal." You get more of that abrasively raw, nerve-rattling sound with these thirteen tracks (one of 'em a near-unrecognizable cover of Von's "Satanic Blood"), but there's also an added element of haunting atmospherics adrift among all of the howling dissonance, white-noise distortion and distant, plodding rhythms. Sole member Strep Cunt (aka Cody Maillet from the awesomely primitive and pulverizing sludgy black metal band Bone Ritual) wanders through a hallucinatory sonic haze, the simple atonal riffs and crashing cymbals all etched in super-distorted hiss, the treble cranked all the way into the red, burying the whole album in a blanket of high-end static. There's still a bit of a hardcore punk influence in Cryostasium's music, songs like "Evict" and "Into The Disposal" almost resembling some amped-up, speed-dosed old New York City art-punk band hitting supersonic speeds, the drumming diffused into a blurred pulse situated way down in the mix. Chords clang abrasively against the staticky black metal riffs, and it's certainly abrasive as hell, but the songs themselves seem to be a little more structured, and there's melody going on, albeit warped and woozy and unsettling. There's some interesting stuff going on with the layered guitars and hypnotically repetitive song structures, often producing odd chiming melodies and spooky melodies that get all tangled beneath the field of fuzz.
    In fact, there's almost a No Wave vibe to a lot of this stuff, with more than a few moments on Cryostasium where I'm almost hearing echoes of old American noise rock outfits like Harry Pussy, Live Skull or even early Sonic Youth, especially when he drops in one of those borderline motorik beats beneath a squall of swarming treble-cranked riffs and howling feedback. There's even a few moments of honest-to-goodness prettiness in here, like the bleary, moody melody that takes shape on "To Stay Alive" that almost evokes the shafts of light burning through the bruised twilight sky seen on the cover. It's all definitely rooted in black metal though, maybe even more so than the preceding disc, delivering more blasting tempos and plenty of that unhealthy, psychotic atmosphere that seeps from just about everything that I've heard from Cryostasium. This disc is an interesting new chapter from the band, which might appeal to more than just the demented noiseniks who picked up Alternative Funeral - I'd recommended fans of both the more challenging, experimental black metal-influenced weirdness of stuff like Jute Gyte check it out, as well as filth-junkies addicted to the torturous white noise of Wold, Xothist and Enbilulugugal.
Track Samples:
Sample : To Stay Alive
Sample : Insomniac Manifesto
Sample : Drown



DARVULIA   L'Alliance Des Venins   LP   (Battlesk'rs)    19.99



    Now available on limited edition vinyl with poster and printed inner sleeve, and includes a bonus track called "Le Silence D'Anna" exclusive to this release. Here's my old review of the original CD release:
    If you've been paying attention to the international black metal scene over the past few years, you've no doubt noticed that France has been cultivating an especially fucked-up, furious identity with bands like Deathspell Omega, Blut Aus Nord, Eikenskaden, Mystic Forest, and Diapsiquir all putting their own, unique stamp on ferocious, discordant black metal. Darvulia is another on the list, a two-piece from Toulouse, France that features ex-members of Fornication and Nuit Noire, and whose second full length L'Alliance des Venins summons a strange, hellish swarm of stumbling, droning black metal that nods to both the weirdness of early Ved Buens Ende and Fleurety, and the raw, pitch-black buzzsaw hatred of Vlad Tepes and Mutiilation. A thick swirling black metal blur of bleak, quirky minor-key riffs and depressing droning arpeggios, throaty, growling vocals, chaotic drumming, strange passages where the band suddenly stops and shifts into a waltzing post-rockish dirge with messy drumming and discordant, mathy guitars; weird sloppy punk rock mid-tempo parts, and a general hypnotic murkiness that has a similar diseased, psychedelic vibe as USBM outfits Xasthur and Leviathan. Excellent mystic black metal, with cool almost all-black artwork and interesting imagery.
Track Samples:
Sample :
Sample :



DEAD IN THE MANGER   Cessation   LP   (20 Buck Spin)    16.99



    Back in stock. The anonymous group operating under the name Dead In The Manger returns with their first full-length Cessation, the follow-up to last year's impressive Transience EP. And as with their debut, the band offers a vicious strain of blackened blast-metal, though this time they build on the moments of atmospheric power that were glimpsed on the 12", expanding that aspect of their sound into even more dramatic form. The band's black metal influences comprise only a portion of their overall sound; when the album opens with "I" (the first of six numerically designated track titles), the stark, doleful guitars play over a bed of soft staticky hiss, reminding me more of the elegiac slowcore of Codeine or Slint for a moment, a tense build into that first song's explosive outburst of violent, mournful energy. From there, Dead In The Manger race through these blasts of viciously fast, intense blackened grind, weaving in bits of depressive melody and bursts of pulverizing doom, the occasional ambient noisescape, and a few more traces of that gloomy math rock in the guitars. They can slow things down to punishing effect as well, cutting massive swathes of droning, almost Godfleshian sludge throughout some of these songs, unleashing a simple but powerful riff that repeats ad nauseum amid peals of tortured feedback and squealing guitar noise. Just about every one of these songs features one of their moody, sorrowful melodies, though, and the vocals are used sparingly, a scathing, reptilian rasp that bleeds heavily into the slower, crushing passages. When they're going at top speed, it's blindingly fast, more grindcore than anything, frostbitten blastbeats racing beneath sorrowful chord progressions like something off of White Birch and streaked with regal tremolo-picked leads. It's all put together really well, elevated by strong songwriting chops and their knack for those grimly majestic guitar leads and melodies, further distinguishing their music from the hordes of black metal influenced stuff out there. Recommended.
Track Samples:
Sample : Part VI
Sample : Part V
Sample : Part II



DEAD REPTILE SHRINE   N.t.K   CASSETTE   (Antihumanism)    5.98



     Just dug up a couple copies of this cassette from bizarre one-man Finnish outsider "black metal" outfit Dead Reptile Shrine, a band whose sound continues to bewitch and bewilder every time I listen to 'em. One of several Dead Reptile Shrine cassettes that were released by the now defunct Antihumanism, N.t.K. first appeared as a similarly limited CDr back in 2002, one of the band's very first releases. And it's a total brainwarp, opening with a weird shambling dirge of primitive percussive thud amid squealing feedback and distressed noise, an almost industrial-style intro that lurches beneath sinister whispered voices as "Nokturnal Thelema Krusifixion" gradually winds down into a rickety improvised dirge. It's only with the second track "Rotting Flesh Laid On Altar" that Dead Reptile Shrine kicks in with his demented take on black metal, as the music swells up into a murky, low-fi racket of sludgy riffing, howling chantlike vocals and sneering shrieks all over that perpetually deranged drumming that perpetually falls in and out of time. It's a perfect example of the band's brain-damaged black metal, the music often degenerating into a shambling mess that still manages to possess a strange psychedelic quality, and as the album goes on, it delivers a weird kick akin to hearing some satanic outsider improv-folk outfit on ESP Records shot through with meandering distorted guitars and snarling rat-vocals.
     There's some gloriously tuneless stuff on here that's like the Shaggs (a band that they've been compared to before), slow, plodding black metal riffs collapsing into drooling mayhem, the vocals truly demented as they slip in and out of that fucked-up chanting, but those moments where it all comes together have a crushing, retarded power that I totally adore. Some songs erupt into noisy blasts of blastbeating drums and mangled blackened guitar, tornadic swarms of chaotic violence, only to give way to rambling, reverb-drenched folkiness, long stretches of mesmeric dungeon ambient or bursts of plodding, drunken hardcore punk, sometimes backed up warm, minimal synthesizer chords and laced with freeform guitar plucking, or wandering into ultra-abrasive stretches of over-modulated noise overlaid with traces of epic orchestral music ...and songs like "Power From Blasphemous Intent" twitch and blast with a hideous discordant violence that's as brain-scrambling as anything from later Havohej. There's a twelve minute track on the b-side called "Of Silence, Sickness & War" that's also noteworthy, delivering a languid, shadow-streaked psychedelic jam that emanates a ghostly, murk-drenched atmosphere all its own. It's fucked. Raw and rambling and exquisitely messed-up. But in all this chaotic craziness, there's some amazingly catchy melodies that creep out of the seemingly random riffery and improvised din, a brilliantly brain-damaged strain of garage-grade necro-psychedelia that I can't get enough of, for fellow fans of the most demented, delirious outré black metal only...
Track Samples:
Sample : Holocaustogrammaton
Sample : Immolation of Tainted Flesh
Sample : Power from Blasphemous Intent



DEATH IS THE ULTIMATE LUXURY   Death Is The Ultimate Luxury   ART BOOK - SLIM   (Black Horizons)    6.00



    The third title in this batch of recent art zine offerings from Black Horizons, Death is the Ultimate Luxury is a limited-edition art zine featuring sixty-four pages of black and white xerographic collage art created by the minds behind the Black Horizons visual aesthetic, though the work featured here is much more graphic and eroticized than what many fans of the label might be familiar with. Much of the work presented here starts with hardcore pornographic imagery as the raw material, then cuts it apart and distorts it into vaguely menacing and violently-tinged scenes, using a rough, cut-and-paste aesthetic heavily reminiscent of certain strains of old-school industrial music visuals; flipping through this grotesque Sadeian patchwork of tough homoerotic pornography, abstract collage, malfunctioning Xerox textures, violent penetration, monstrous facial deformations, and macabre imagery, one is reminded of antecedents like Merzbow's Pornoise/1kg-era collage art, Mike Williams' Southern Nihilism Front graphics, the black and white cassette covers of Texas noise artist Richard Ramirez. Most definitely not for anyone under the age of eighteen, nor the biologically squeamish. As with the other art zines that we've picked up recently from Black Horizons, this is nicely assembled, with a dark grey linen cardstock cover and black vellum end papers, housed in a black mylar bag and issued in a limited run of sixty-three copies.


DEATHSTENCH   Nekro Blood Ritual   CASSETTE   (Fall Of Nature)    6.50



    Possibly the ultimate in necro-industrial murk. Still can't get enough of this band's brand of rumbling, glacial horror, and if you dug that supremely putrid album on Malignant and the split with Trepaneringsritualen that these guys put out a while back, this is just as essential. Made up of members of the blackened industrial metal bands Welter In Thy Blood and Pro-Death, this duo delivers another one of their pungent blasts of roiling graveyard droneology with this six-song tape on Aussie label Fall of Nature, moving through a series of ever widening black-hole generated loopscapes and mesmeric rot-rituals. Evolving from the grimy low-end rumblings of opener "Chalice Of Maggots" into the Basinski-esque drones that spin in slow motion through "Blood On Black Books", the tape chases ghostly murmurs that echo endlessly through a vast subterranean abyss. The sounds slowly corrode and decay as it unfolds, completely stripped of any high end frequencies, leaving behind an incredibly murky black sonic residue. Compared to some of their other stuff, Nekro Blood Ritual is a little more amorphous and ambient, but still quite heavy, effortlessly exuding the sort of decomposing bass-heavy darkness that has long marked their work, dank industrial-tinged rumblings streaked with strange sonic detritus and the sound of ghastly chanting.
    Things do get significantly heavier with the likes of "Nekrobloodritual" or the slo-motion chainsaw dirge of "Desecration Of The Host". On those tracks, the duo disgorges some massive Sunn-esque doom metal riffery that tumbles end over end through the darkness, disinterred metallic fragments drifting languidly through a foul miasma of demonic voices and crackling noise. When Deathstench get really heavy, this tape transforms into something akin to hearing a monstrous blackened doom metal outfit performing from the bottom of a bog while thunderheads slowly encroach over the horizon; or, in the case of closer "Burning Ov Entrails", akin to the sound of titanic tentacles rustling against the exterior of a bathysphere deep in the Marianas Trench, while stygian synthdrones bore through the blackness. Another killer blast of necromantic filth from these guys, taking the spirit of old-school death metal and filtering it through a hideous blackened fog. Limited to one hundred copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : Blood On Black Books
Sample : Nekrobloodritual
Sample : Burning Ov Entrails



DECONDITION   Sukellan Tuntemattomiin Syvyyksiin   CD   (Force Majeure)    11.99



     The follow-up to the band's 2006 cassette on Freak Animal The Universal Nothingness, this Finnish outfit returns with their first full-fledged full-length album of ultra-heavy death industrial, bulldozing through thirteen tracks of grinding machine loops, rhythmic metallic noise and bone-crushing percussive power, delivered at mind-numbing level of heaviosity. There's something about Finland that produces some of the most crushing industrial noise I listen to, and Decondition's latest sits nicely next to other purveyors of corrosive filth as Grunt and Sick Seed.
     As soon as Sukellan Tuntemattomiin Syvyyksiin ruptures the monstrous, monolithic drones and cyclical noise blasts that open the album, it's obvious why Decondition's stuff would have found a home at one time on Mikko Aspa's infamous noise label. This hour-long crawl through infernal factory-works and clandestine metalshops fuses a suffocatingly bleak atmosphere of future-shock despair and urban ennui with pulverizing blocks of repetitious distorted sound, delivering a similar grueling listening experience as the likes of Grunt and Strom.ec, alongside nods to early Genocide Organ. It has an even heavier, more doom-laden edge though, and the use of deafening scrap-metal rhythms and the general level of abrasiveness also draws some comparisons to apocalyptic machine-beasts Sektor 304. There's moments on Syvyyksiin like the monotonous, soul-crushing sledgehammer hypnosis of "Epätoivon Riivaamat Ajatukset" that take on an almost Swans-esque level of brutality. There's also a hint of musicality here, which emerges through some of the almost melodic loops and grim synth-riffs that take shape throughout the album, but for the most part this remains thoroughly bleak in tone, each track further expanding on Decondition's scrap-yard deathtrance, a mesmeric cacophony of steel beams clashing against oil tanks in brutal, bludgeoning time, distorted voices raving through a haze of black static, the tension and power of each peice exponentially increasing as the tracks build to a kind of deafening, skull-pulverizing satori, a crushingly monotonous industrial nightmare broken up with only a couple of descents into murky, submerged black ambience at the very end. Released in digipack packaging in a limited edition of four hundred ninety seven copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : ÿþEpätoivon Riivaamat Ajatukset
Sample : Diseased Within
Sample : Aistiharhojen Luoma Todellisuus (Sukellan Tuntemattomiin Syvyyksiin)



DEIPHAGO   Into The Eye of Satan   CD   (Hells Headbangers)    11.98



    I expected chaos with the new Deiphago album, but what they unleash here turned out to be another level of bestial weirdness. These Filipino black/death warmongers have been detonating their blasts of Satanic hate since the late 1980s, but Deiphago's latest Into The Eye Of Satan delivers a seemingly newfound level of aural ear-hate and outré blastcraft. The guitar playing alone is totally insane, an assault of extreme atonal shred that makes one wonder if Deiphago axebeast Sidapa had been guzzling large quantities of Last Exit and Fredrik Thordendal's Special Defects during the writing process. It's not like this feels self-consciously avant-garde, though; the fucked-up, hyper-violent atonality of the solos and fractured, weirdly warped nature of the riffs churning and gnashing through Eye are all in service to an atmosphere of hellish violence. In the past, Deiphago have been derided by some for being too chaotic and seemingly unstructured, but it's that reckless, turbulent quality that makes this stuff sound so unique. "Psychedelic" isn't a word I often when describing this kind of black/death metal, but it definitely applies to Deiphago's swarming, delay-drenched bestial blast.
    On their latest, Deiphago remain rooted in that classic Conqueror-influenced war metal sound while pushing their barbaric sound into stranger extremes. That they enlisted Colin Marston from Gorguts / Behold The Arctopus / Krallice to produce the album is telling, as this propels Deiphago's sound into more abstract, angular territory. The album enters their killzone on a wave of imperious orchestral murk and snarling black noise, then proceeds to unleash a violent assault of total noise metal. In some ways akin to Teitenblood's latest, this is bestial black/death metal pushed into utterly cacophonic madness, a grindcore-style blur of hyperspeed blastbeats and pummeling war-toms hurtling beneath a maelstrom of hopelessly angular riffage and full-blown atonal noise, but with more emphasis on sculpting monstrous riffs out of that churning black chaos. That awesome, twisted dissonant guitarwork really adds to the unusual feel of this stuff; when you hear the sweeping waves of spaced-out skronk and almost jazz-like shredding that flies across these nine tracks, and the overload of rhythmic weirdness that continues to unravel with each song, it's clearly a new level of madness that Deiphago is exploring here. There are moments like "Bloodbath Of Genocide" where the violent blasting falls back and it sounds as if the guitarist is attempting to wrangle a mutated classic rock-style riff out of his instrument, then suddenly everything erupts into an almost Gorgutsian assault of atonal shred. A few riffs even seem to mimic the sounds of doom-laden orchestral string sections, lending moments of oppressive, desolate ambiance glimpsed briefly in the band's cyclonic deathnoise attack. Other tracks like the suffocating “Red Dragon of Chaos” become saturated with cosmic synth-like noise, giving the song an almost industrial vibe.
    It's only with the very last song, "Into The Eye Of Satan", that Deiphago slow down into something approaching a "groove", a monstrous, sludgy, dundering caveman riff that is quickly sucked back up into the tornadic chaos, flayed by another savage shot of ultra-atonal, unmusical skronk-shred that resembles a demonic Sonny Sharrock, and ending with an abrupt blast of sinister, clanging metallic noise and garbled voices tangled in atonal violin-like skree, like the sound of some monstrous sepulchral door slamming shut, leaving the listener entombed in absolute blackness. Definitely one of the most intense blackened death metal albums to show up this year, thanks to the wealth of whacked-out, gonzo riffs and the sheer weirdness of Deiphago's sonic assault. Awesome.
Track Samples:
Sample : Red Dragon Of Chaos
Sample : Into The Eye Of Satan
Sample : Bloodbath Of Genocide



DEMONCY   Faustian Dawn / Within The Sylvan Realms Of Frost   2 x CD   (Baphomet)    11.99



    Back in stock. This double-disc collection reissued a while back by Baphomet Records offers most of the early material from this early U.S. black metal outfit, who were one of the first on these shores alongside Absu, Black Funeral and Judas Iscariot. Demoncy was one of my favorites, with a murky, miasmal strain of atmospheric black metal on those early releases that had a harsher, more isolationist feel than his peers. Primarily the sole project of founding member Ixithra, who at one time also played in Profanatica as well as recording various death industrial and dark ambient albums under the names Profane Grace, Mysterian and Raven's Bane, Demoncy sounded like something that had just been dug out of an ancient, rotted cellar; while the project's sound would evolve and become more polished over time, these early, low-fi, dissonant blasts of evil black metal remain my favorite stuff of theirs.
    Demoncy's Faustian Dawn demo still kills more than twenty years later, though modern listeners might find this early stuff to be little more than a blast of low-fidelity noise. It's certainly raw, and supremely oppressive, the music screaming out of the abyss in a rush of hypnotic blastbeats and bizarre vocals that seem to be simultaneously guttural and whispered, the guitar parts simple and repetitive and trance-inducing, occasionally offset by sudden shifts into slower, sludgy heaviness. Sort of comparable to what Beherit was doing early on, with a similarly primitive and fucked-up vibe and a tendency to throw in some eerie experimental synths, atmospheric instrumental guitar and backwards vocals on the book ending tracks, or belt out a thrashing, scum-encrusted punk riff over a pummeling D-beat, but Ixithra also scattered some surprisingly melodic riffs in here as well. The other tracks that round out this first disc are taken from rehearsal recordings from 1995-1996, and mostly make up material that would eventually appear of Demoncy's debut album Within The Sylvan Realms Of Frost.
    That album is the centerpiece of the second disc, a six-song Lp that's one of my favorite American black metal albums from this era. Demoncy's sound had gotten a little more polished and refined by this point, as those rehearsal demos showed, but Frost retained that noisy, saturated distortion and gravelly production, keeping it evil and abrasive. The savagery of that early stuff hadn't been too diminished either, these new songs deliver more of those simple, violent riffs and sweeping ominous scales and frost-charred leads, but there's also the occasional left turn like the borderline poppy hook that shows up on "Abysmal Shores Of The Dark Lands Beyond The Sun", or the dreamy keyboards that drift over some of the tracks like something from a heat-warped Badalamenti soundtrack cassette. And Ixithra slows it down to a monstrous, crumbling dirge every once in a while, where the keyboards take on a low, rumbling distorted sound. It's a killer combination, the sound of a classical heavy metal aesthetic churning within a storm of droning distortion, an epic treble-cranked night-trance that's been mimicked by countless black metal outfits ever since, and still some of the best USBM to come out of the late 90s. The other remaining seven tracks on the disc comprise excerpts from Demoncy's 1994 Hypocrisy Of The Accursed Heavens demo and 1995's Ascension Of A Star Long Since Fallen demo, both of which are in the band's earlier, noisier style of Beherit-esque madness.
Track Samples:
Sample : Ascension Of A Star Long Since Fallen
Sample : Winter Bliss
Sample : In Winter's Ancient Slumber
Sample : Denial Of The Holy Paradise
Sample : Fullmoon Twilight
Sample : Commence ment of the Dark Crusades



DIAGNOSE: LEBENSGEFAHR   Transformalin   CD   (Hidden Marly)    11.99



    The one and only album to date from this diseased industrial project from Silencer's Nattramn was recently reissued by the Japanese label Hidden Marly, with all-new (and much improved) artwork from Nattramn and Romanian artist Costin Chioreanu. This album still sticks out as one of the more unsettling industrial/experimental albums to creep out of the periphery of underground black metal, and is as recommended now as it was back when it came out on Autopsy Kitchen back in 2007. Here's my old review of that original release:
    When Nattramn of Swedish black metallers Silencer ended that project and was purportedly institutionalized in a mental hospital several years ago, he left behind one of the weirdest, most personal expressions of mental anguish to come from the black metal scene, the Death - Pierce me album from 2001, a harrowing combination of shredded, noisy BM and Nattramn's singularly unique vocals that are still some of the most tortured, high pitched vocalizations you'll ever hear, a weeping shriek that disturbs to the core. Silencer's legacy, although obscure, was nonetheless recognized by fans of severe black metal weirdness, and many of us wondered if we'd ever hear another Silencer album. Well, Nattramn ended up leaving the mental institution he was in, and with a back story that alleges that part of his rehabilitation was the creation of a new body of music work, he's back with a completely new project called Diagnose: Lebensgefahr and a debut album Transformalin. You can't call this black metal, that's for sure...there's a black metal influence to Diagnose: Lebensgefahr, but Nattramn's new muse appears to be a wholesale plundering of assorted Industrial, techno, ambient, and other electronic forms, in the process creating a kind of weird black-industrial electro-drone fusion that's tough to compare to anything else. The idea here is that this is an audio portrait of Nattramn's struggle with mental disease, and it certainly transports you through a ever-shifting realm of terminal unease, filled with gritty synthesizer drift and gauzy, old-timey marching songs layered over brutal industrial beats and deranged spoken-word declarations, droning machine noise and grinding loops.
    Diagnose: Lebensgefahr isn't as over the top as Silencer, but there's a similar vibe that things are wrong here, a deeply disturbing atmosphere which makes this album pretty compelling. Parts of Transformalin remind me of both MZ.412 and Godflesh, but much of the album is so wildly abstract that it's more like a damaged version of black ambient than anything, a buzzing electrical presence glowing under yellow sanatorium lights. The third track “Flaggan På Halv Stång I Drömmens Västergård” invokes the icy drift of Lustmord or Troum, and “Tillsammans Men Ensam I Stillhetens Kapell” is a billowy cloud of white hiss and buried half-melodies that remind me of something from Tim Hecker, but darker, bleaker, the stuff of bad dreams, beautiful and threatening. The album's standout might be “The Last Breath Of Tellus”, which opens with a gorgeous wave of angelic voices surging through a veil of fuzz like a blackened Fennesz piece - it's exquisitely beautiful, until a diseased percussive loop enters and turns the track into a throbbing, malevolent techno-industrial jam. The more adventurous explorers out there who delve into the weirdest corners of post-black metal experimentation may well find this to be a fascinating followup to Silencer's suicidal disintegration. Highly recommended.
Track Samples:
Sample : Transformalin
Sample : The Last Breath Of Tellus
Sample : Situazion: Lebensgefahr



DODHEIMSGARD   A Umbra Omega   CD   (Peaceville)    16.98



    Available on both digipack CD, and double LP on 180 gram vinyl in gatefold packaging with digital download.
    Since they started to take seven years between new albums, Norwegian mutants Dodheimsgard have strayed further and further from their black metal roots into a uniquely demented sound that by this point resembles John Zorn-esque assault-prog more than anything. And they've never sounded more distant from their Scandinavian environs than on their latest, A Umbra Omega, fueled by the same sort of violent schizoid delirium that marked their previous album Supervillain Outcast, but largely foregoes the extreme electronic edge of that Lp for something a bit more informed by experimental jazz and European prog rock.
    In fact, the album kicks off with a brief instrumental glitchscape titled "The Love Divine" that may or may not be a vague nod towards John Coltrane. That haunting electronic ghostscape that opens the disc is suddenly shredded in the chaotic blasting black metal and shredding, complex arpeggios that guitarist Vicotnik sends sweeping over "Aphelion Void", though, the music rattled by Bjørn "Aldrahn" Dencker's strangely distorted and processed vocals as the band contorts their intricate, progged-out sound with surges of eerie saxophone and jazzy piano figures. Made up of constantly shifting arrangements and amorphous riffs, that song introduces the complex, jazz-damaged sound that permeates the whole album, each song an epic of convoluted blackened prog with the shortest clocking in at just under twelve minutes. Songs shift from blackened blast and vicious blackthrash into sudden detours into flamenco-flecked rock, or skittering dark electronica, or bits of dark jazz-stained ambience. Chamber strings and frigid post-rock stylings gleam in the cracks between the band's cyclonic whirlwinds, surrounded by lovely choral harmonies, and passages of unearthly blues and classical guitar that are woven into the phantasmal tapestry of the album. Multiple listens reveal a bit of a math rock quality to a lot of the guitar parts on A Umbra Omega as well, and Vicotnik's playing is some of the most interesting I've heard on a DHG record: expressive and virtuosic, lushly layered and atmospheric one moment, then hurtling through a discordant flesh-ripping shred fest the next. The vocals are likewise much more expressive than your typical blackened shriek, a mixture of guttural bloodpuke snarls and a weird declamatory carnival-barker delivery, deranged Patton-esque crooning and evil android chants and hysteric, high-pitched screaming. It's a big part of the harrowing, unearthly vibe, at times a little like the similarly alien Ved Buens Ende, but wholly reflected through DHG's bizarre sensibilities and fractured, fucked-up genius.
Track Samples:
Sample : God Protocol Axiom
Sample : Architect Of Darkness
Sample : Aphelion Void



DODHEIMSGARD   A Umbra Omega   2 x LP   (Peaceville)    39.99



    Available on both digipack CD, and double LP on 180 gram vinyl in gatefold packaging with digital download.
    Since they started to take seven years between new albums, Norwegian mutants Dodheimsgard have strayed further and further from their black metal roots into a uniquely demented sound that by this point resembles John Zorn-esque assault-prog more than anything. And they've never sounded more distant from their Scandinavian environs than on their latest, A Umbra Omega, fueled by the same sort of violent schizoid delirium that marked their previous album Supervillain Outcast, but largely foregoes the extreme electronic edge of that Lp for something a bit more informed by experimental jazz and European prog rock.
    In fact, the album kicks off with a brief instrumental glitchscape titled "The Love Divine" that may or may not be a vague nod towards John Coltrane. That haunting electronic ghostscape that opens the disc is suddenly shredded in the chaotic blasting black metal and shredding, complex arpeggios that guitarist Vicotnik sends sweeping over "Aphelion Void", though, the music rattled by Bjørn "Aldrahn" Dencker's strangely distorted and processed vocals as the band contorts their intricate, progged-out sound with surges of eerie saxophone and jazzy piano figures. Made up of constantly shifting arrangements and amorphous riffs, that song introduces the complex, jazz-damaged sound that permeates the whole album, each song an epic of convoluted blackened prog with the shortest clocking in at just under twelve minutes. Songs shift from blackened blast and vicious blackthrash into sudden detours into flamenco-flecked rock, or skittering dark electronica, or bits of dark jazz-stained ambience. Chamber strings and frigid post-rock stylings gleam in the cracks between the band's cyclonic whirlwinds, surrounded by lovely choral harmonies, and passages of unearthly blues and classical guitar that are woven into the phantasmal tapestry of the album. Multiple listens reveal a bit of a math rock quality to a lot of the guitar parts on A Umbra Omega as well, and Vicotnik's playing is some of the most interesting I've heard on a DHG record: expressive and virtuosic, lushly layered and atmospheric one moment, then hurtling through a discordant flesh-ripping shred fest the next. The vocals are likewise much more expressive than your typical blackened shriek, a mixture of guttural bloodpuke snarls and a weird declamatory carnival-barker delivery, deranged Patton-esque crooning and evil android chants and hysteric, high-pitched screaming. It's a big part of the harrowing, unearthly vibe, at times a little like the similarly alien Ved Buens Ende, but wholly reflected through DHG's bizarre sensibilities and fractured, fucked-up genius.
Track Samples:
Sample : God Protocol Axiom
Sample : Architect Of Darkness
Sample : Aphelion Void



DODHEIMSGARD   Supervillain Outcast   2 x LP   (Peaceville)    39.98



    Finally back in print on vinyl, reissued by Peaceville as a double LP in gatefold packaging. Here's my old review of the album from the original Moonfog release:
    Possibly the avant-black metal album of 2007? After eight long years, Norwegian black metal mutants Dødheimsgard (now referring to themselves as simply "DHG") have risen anew with their fourth album, Supervillain Outcast, and man is this one an awesome, ambitious assault of sleek, futurist blackness. Doesn't come as too much of a shock really, since the band's last album (1999's 666 International) saw them evolving into a digitally-enhanced machine, fusing Dødheimsgard's raw, furious Norwegian black metal with dark industrial and electronica elements. But with Supervillain Outcast , Dødheimsgard have tripped into new obsidian realms, like a black metal warning being beamed back to us from some dystopian, Blade Runner future, and it's a grim, smog-filled vision that I've been blasting nonstop since we got this in. The album begins with "Dushman", a barely one-minute loop of Muslimgauze style Middle Eastern ambience that explodes into the atonal black metal fury of "Vendetta Assassin", which morphs into a brutally catchy machine-groove thrash attack overlapped with awesome synthoid textures and weird insectoid bleeps flaring at the corners of your peripheral vision. "The Snuff That Dreams Are Made Of" is one of my favorite jams on the album, a crushing martial rhythm and precision deathriff onslaught carried on the silicon wings of digitized powerdrill whirrs and synthesized Middle Eastern fanfares. "Foe X Foe" emerges as a mass of bizarre, waltzing rhythm and fractured death metal.
    And things definitely get weirder, more unearthly: "All Is Not Self" sounds like the Psychedelic Furs surrounded by stuttering breakbeats, factory sounds, and choral chanting, while "Secret Identity" is a haunting interlude of clean, harmonized chanting. Songs are tied together with found-sounds and ethno-ambient prettiness. Whiplash breakbeats scuttle beneath syncopated, cybernetically-enhanced Meshuggah-esque grooves. The vocals are handled by newcomer Kvohst (formerly of black metallers Code), and he unleashes an amazing array of voices that move through brutal roars, doo-wop harmonies, creepy understated whispering, clean darkwave-pop croons. And as harsh and CRUSHING and mindbending as Supervillain Outcast is from start to finish, it's equally an amazingly catchy, hooky album, I mean really catchy, I've been blasting this disc in it's entirety all week and still haven't gotten my fill of Dødheimsgard's near-future hallucination. An awesome, trippy, breakbeat-infused black metal/industrial/dance/glitch/tech-metal/gloom-pop epic. Fucking amazing. Definitely in the running for my favorite metal album of the year. The album artwork is awesome too, depicting a manga style cloaked figure sending out hordes of death's-head flies swarming over a murky, polluted city skyline. Highly, HIGHLY recommended.
Track Samples:
Sample : Senseoffender
Sample : Addicted to Perdition [Instrumental]
Sample : Ghostforce Soul Constrictor
Sample : 21st Century Devil
Sample : Vendetta Assassin
Sample : Apocalypticism



DODHEIMSGARD   666 International   2 x LP   (Peaceville)    37.99



    Available again on double LP, white vinyl, with the same music as the expanded 2011 CD reissue.
   Norwegian black metallers were experimenting with the use of electronic music, techno, and industrial elements as far back as Mysticum's In the Streams of Inferno, and bands like Solefald and Arcturus took the fusion of BM and electronics even further out in the late 90s. But when Dodheimsgard released their third album 666 International in 1999, we hadn't heard anything quite this strange and futuristic before. Upon it's release, 666 International was immediately divisive among black metal fans, and was derided by many for lacking the more traditional black metal elements of their previous releases. In hindsight though, this is a pioneering album of extreme electronic black metal that still sounds ahead of its time, with members of Aura Noir, Ved Buens Ende, and Fleurety in the ranks. It originally came out on Moonfog Productions and has been out of print for years, but has now been reissued with bonus tracks on Peaceville. I can't recommend this classic album of mindfuck technoid black metal weirdness enough. Everything about this flies in the face of black metal dogma. From the techno-album style cover art and the full color photo on the back of these (then) young Nordic weirdos made up in dayglo face paint and adorned in Vedic jewelry, to the schizophrenic song arrangements, the weird crooning vocals and shape shifting electronica-meets-mechanized-black-metal, it's total insanity.
    Beginning with strains of dark classical piano and chaotic blasting black metal, opener "Shiva Interfere" soon settles in with it's brooding industrial throb, equal parts UK post-punk and Skinny Puppy creep, shifting across it's nine minute length as dissonant black metal riffs dart out of the thumping rhythming grooves and dark ether, skipping across weird counter-intuitive rhythms and strange music box melodies, a funhouse delirium of 80s goth sensibilities and Wax Trax beats infused with the swarming buzz of classic Norwegian black metal. As strange as that opening song is, I'm betting that it was the chunky techno trance of "Ion Storm" that weaves in and out of a holocaust of robotic hyperspeed blackened chaos that really baffled BM fans back when this first came out, as the song races through breakneck changes from frenzied quasi-gabber beats to loping frosty black metal. Next is the eerie baroque piano music of "Carpet Bombing" and the drill n' bass laced dread of "Regno Potiri", followed by "FInal Conquest"'s pounding percussive groove and tribal black metal hysteria. There's another short piano interlude titled "Magic", and the techno hell of "Completion", which seems to be the final track as the disc moves through a series of 50 short silent tracks. The original "hidden" track "Completion Part 2" appears at the end, a reprise of the previous track that is even heavier and more pummeling. That's the original album proper, but Peaceville's reissue also features two additional bonus tracks: the first is the neck-wrecking EBM of "Hemorrhage-Era One" that had previously been included on the Moonfog 2000 compilation; the second is an unreleased track called "Proton Navigator", a lengthy instrumental that blends together jazzy drumming, horns, strange chanting, bluesy guitar solos, pounding slow breakbeats, and lots of nightmarish ambience that gradually shifts into a kind of dark Eastern European folk-inflected trip hop towards the end.
    The evolution in sound that Dodheimsgard underwent for 666 International has people pegging them incorrectly as a techno/black metal hybrid, but there's much more to this music than just pounding programmed beats and electronic textures. The songs are arranged so strangely, and the vocals so crazed sounding that it feels like this was beamed straight out of a mental ward from the year 2018. It really is a classic in the realm of avant-garde black metal, and absolutely essential for fans of bands like Manes, Thorns, and Aborym.
Track Samples:
Sample : Proton Navigator
Sample : Shiva Interfere
Sample : Sonar Bliss



DOOMED   Doomed To Death Damned In Hell   CD   (Aphelion Productions)    11.98



     Another skull-crushing oddity/rarity from Autopsy member Eric Cutler that came from one of his many side-projects that he was involved in during the mid 1990s, Doomed To Death Damned In Hell is the complete collection of the recorded output of his band Doomed, reissued a while back by Apehlion. Compared to some of the other projects that Cutler was involved in during this period, Doomed sounded the most like a direct offshoot of his main band Autopsy, playing a variation of that band's barbaric, sludgy death metal. That's not surprising, seeing as how Doomed also featured Cutler's Autopsy bandmates Chris Reifert and Danny Coralles, along with Autopsy buddy and Finnish expat Petri Toivonen on vocals. The punky racket that Doomed whipped up definitely has it's own unique cadaverous stench, though. If anything, this is a direct predecessor to what these guys would do with the later band Abscess, belting out a similar strain of violent, psych-tinged grindpunk with a heavy dose of lysergic weirdness pumping through its gnarled, pulsing black veins.
     This disc collects everything that Doomed put out during their brief run, including the Haematomania 7" and the Broken 7" that came out on Peaceville and Relapse in 1993 and 1994, respectively. I loved that Relapse EP back when it came out, but the Peaceville Ep was always really hard to find, so I never had a chance to listen to those tracks until now; again, these songs are really reminiscent of the filthy tripped-out grindpunk of Abscess, mashing together ratty hardcore punk, doom metal, maniacal old-school grindcore, primitive death metal, and the occasional 70's rock riff complete with wailing wah-wah abuse or blast of fucked-up psychedelic guitar shred. It's killer stuff, a feral, punk-damaged assault of violent heaviness with some wickedly atonal riffs and a general atmosphere of chaos and violence. The stuff from the two 7" releases makes up the bulk of this collection, accompanied by a raw live recording of the band performing "Witches" at a New Jersey club in 1993, and comes with a twelve page booklet includes liner notes, photos and reproductions of the original 7" sleeve art and lyrics.
Track Samples:
Sample : Witches
Sample : Straight Up
Sample : Haematomania



DOOMED AND DISGUSTING   Satan's Nightmare   LP   (Nuclear War Now! Productions)    14.99



     All hail Dave Slave! Though he's probably best known in extreme metal circles as the bass player for maniacal Aussie black/death lunatic squad Sadistik Exekution, Dave Slave has been dishing out an entirely different (though no less demented) brand of sonic skum over the past decade with his current project Doomed And Disgusting. The band's recordings have remained pretty obscure outside of Australian metal circles, but D&D's 2005 album of drug-addled demonic weirdo doom insanity Satan's Nightmare just got a nice reissue treatment courtesy of Nuclear War Now, with new and improved album art that replaces the ridiculous original CD art with something a little more dignified. The music on this thing is still totally brain-scrambling, though. I'd never heard this project till now, but it promptly squashed me with this weird, lysergically-fucked brand of oddball doom.
     Dave Slave sets his visions of Satanic ritual, blasphemous communion, torture chambers, vampyric mania, and other danse macabre against a backdrop of cheesy 80's era horror movie synths, eerie minor key guitar and ghostly voices that make up the intro track "Chanting Souls", but that goes straight into the brain-damaged doom of "Ceremonial Sacrifices", rolling out a delirious mix of chorus-drenched doom riffs and Dave's weird vocal delivery that shifts between an echoing blackened rasp and Gothy chant-like singing. His somber Sabbathian riffs spurt atonal leads that mingle with the more Middle Eastern-inspired scales that appear throughout some of these songs, and ghosthouse pipe organs and druggy carnival keyboards warble in the background. It's essentially old-school doom metal, but with a creepier, weirder vibe that blends his molten riffs with backing choral sounds like something from a Fabio Frizzi score, which can get downright rabid at times, turning into an unintelligible nest of seething demonic blabbering. Songs sometimes just shamble to a stop, metallic percussion clanks in the depths like someone banging on pipes during this sickly Sabbathoid ritual, and the guitars seem to constantly teeter on the edge of going out of tune, which adds to the unsettling, hallucinatory vibe, classic doom creeping through a haze of brain damaged DXM insanity. Definitely memorable in its own demented way, this album delivers some supremely evil, messed-up doom that's part Witchfinder General-style schlock, part Upsidedown Cross / Kilslug-esque punksludge. Limited to two hundred fifty copies.


DREADLORDS   Death Angel   LP   (Not Just Religious Music)    14.99



     More or less an alter ego of Philly black noise merchants T.O.M.B., Dreadlords emerged a couple of years ago with a uniquely blackened, fucked-up take on ancient blues and folk music, first appearing with a demo that was one of the strangest sounds I'd come across. As a longtime fan of T.O.M.B.'s ghastly black industrial noisescapes, I had certain preconceptions of what another project from those guys would sound like, but they were shattered against the murky, incantatory power of "Going To The Well", still one of my favorite songs from this project, a strange bit of blown-out gothic scum-blues hammered out on amplified banjo that sounded like some deranged cross between Danzig and the murky low-fi cigar-box weirdness of the Negromancy crowd.
     The 'Lords finally delivered their first full-length Death Angel, issued on King Dude's label Not Just Religious Music, and it featured almost all of the stuff from that 2013 demo along with a bunch of new songs, and they're all spectacularly fucked up blots of shambling, hallucinatory madness. It's equal parts ancient devilpunk a la some demented take on Bad Seeds-style gutter blues punk, outsider blues and rumbling black noise, a bizarre concoction served up in mostly short blasts of dank, dark blackness, the growled vocals drifting over the reverb-draped sound of distant electric guitar and primitive percussion, hand drums and tortured banjo, all sounding like you're hearing some whiskey-drunk deathcult whipping themselves into a sweaty fervor in some blighted roadhouse on the edge of a charred wasteland. There's also stuff like "I Live In A Cemetery" that sounds like primitive black metal being played by derelict hillbillies on busted guitars, broken amplifiers and someone banging on a ratty, hand-made drum; and the title track works a grittier, more soulful vocal delivery around ominous acoustic guitar, smears of far-off synth and the rattling of bones, almost like some wretched Nephilim-esque death-folk. The album has a hollow, distant feel to the instruments, like you're hearing them clanking and buzzing up from beneath the floorboards, a ramshackle atmosphere that evokes their visions of snake-handlers, Appalachian devil-cults and backwoods blasphemy.


EDGE OF SANITY   Unorthodox   LP   (Black Mark)    28.98



   The latest vinyl reissue of this Swedish prog-death classic, released in a new 2015 transparent yellow vinyl edition from Black Mark. Here's the old review from the original CD version:
   I'm finally getting the Edge Of Sanity back catalog in stock here at C-Blast, after being almost impossible to obtain for years without paying insane import prices. The Black Mark titles from this pioneering progressive death metal band are all essential for fans of both Swedish death metal and prog-death, with some albums (Crimson, The Spectral Sorrows, Unorthodox) ranking as some of my own favorite progressive extreme metal albums of all time. This was, of course, the most well-known band from Swedish metal polyglot Dan Swano, formed after his run with Pan-Thy-Monium as a crushing entry in the evolving Swedish death metal underground. After a relatively straightforward 1991 debut, Edge Of Sanity quickly began to experiment with a combination of prog rock, hard rock and gothic influences being infused into the band's monstrous death metal, and in the process produced some of the most adventurous extreme metal to come out of the Swedish underground.
    While Edge Of Sanity's 1991 debut Nothing But Death Remains was a solid, if by-the-numbers slab of Swedish death metal, their follow-up Unorthodox came as a shock to the senses, outlining the adventurous and experimental approach that Dan Swano and company would pursue with this band throughout the rest of its career. Full of violent, macabre imagery and cosmic horror, Unorthodox begins with a brief intro track of catacomb ambiance that leads into a doleful violin melody that introduces the crushing three-part prog death epic "Enigma", and in this one song the band brings us a host of different sounds woven together into an ambitious death metal attack; pounding fast-paced thrash and powerful guttural roars stop on a dime and turn into soaring prog with dramatic sung vocals, operatic female voices, and backing violins and cellos; putrid deathslime rises up and is twisted into peculiar angular, mutoid grooves; regal doom-laden synths back the galloping majesty of the middle section. Swano wasn't at all bashful about incorporating a variety of progressive rock and classical elements into Unorthodox's music, and much like Celtic Frost's groundbreaking albums from the mid 80s, these guys were obviously looking to expand the textural and sonic parameters of death metal.
    No heaviness is sacrificed here, though. Songs like ""Incipience to the Butchery", "Everlasting (Epidemic Reign Part III)" and "In the Veins / Darker Than Black" are carved out of the burliest, chunkiest Swedish death metal stock, even as they unfold to reveal some stunning melodic hooks and the occasional oddball production or editing trick. Compared to the even proggier later albums in Edge Of Sanity's career, this is still very rooted in classic Swede-death, but it's juiced up by Swano's clever injections of spacey electronics, somber instrumental classical guitar, horror-movie synthesizers, weird effects and editing tricks, and is loaded with Swano's brilliant use of melody and memorable riffs that would become even more mature on the following album The Spectral Sorrows.
    Essential for fans of progressive and experimental old-school death metal.
Track Samples:
Sample : Dead But Dreaming
Sample : Enigma: The Blessing/Celestial Dissension/The Loss of Hallowed Life
Sample : Everlasting



EDGE OF SANITY   Purgatory Afterglow   LP   (Black Mark)    28.98



    A bunch of older titles from Swedish prog-death titans Edge Of Sanity are back in print on vinyl, in new re-mastered colored vinyl editions with printed inner-sleeves; they look and sound terrific, and we've picked up three of them so far, 1992's Unorthodox, 1993's The Spectral Sorrows, and 1994's Purgatory Afterglow.
    Edge Of Sanity's fourth album Purgatory Afterglow from 1994 wasn't as focused in its delivery of the band's unconventional mixture of epic death metal, progressive rock and gothic bombast as their previous album Spectral Sorrows and the songwriting isn't quite as strong, but I'm still quite partial to this ambitious slab of Swedish heaviness. It's heavier on the synths, that's for sure. When the album opens, you could forgiven for thinking that you're hearing some moody pop outfit, as Dan Swano croons softly over the wash of dreamy keyboards that introduce "Twilight". But that kicks into the song's main death metal assault pretty quickly, and it's as anthemic and triumphant as anything I've heard from them, welding a mid-tempo groove and chainsaw guitars to a rousing melodic chorus. Sinister and sweeping Swedish death metal mastery, absolutely killer stuff. From there, Afterglow weaves through a maze of catchy darkwave synths and stretches of electronic ambience alongside the grinding death metal, and Swano employs more of his clean singing here, a baritone croon that sort of reminds me of Peter Murphy a little, at least at certain spots on the album. Songs tend be longer and more sprawling this time around, and the overall feel is a little more indulgent than the concise delivery of Spectral, but these songs still pack a hell of a punch, dishing out legions of guttural, crushing riffage laced with folky guitar leads, a variety of tempos as the music shifts from blasting violence to rocking death n' roll to crawling doom-laden darkness. Monstrous boogie gives way to ear-friendly hard rock hooks that are just as quickly swallowed up in vomitous sludge. Ripping thrash erupts from the likes of "Silent", then leads into the organ-soaked power pop darkness of "Black Tears", which could be seen as a follow-up to the similarly catchy Sisters Of Mercy-esque song "Sacrificed" from Spectral. And there's a stomping, Helmet-esque stop-start groove that cuts through the songs "Velvet Dreams" and "Song Of Sirens" towards the end, giving those songs a quasi-industrial metal edge that is admittedly a little more dated than the band's more straight-forward death metal. Still a blast, though. And by early 90's standards, all of this was pretty adventurous, at least stylistically. They were still an album away from their most acclaimed work, Crimson, but Edge Of Sanity were already creating some of the most interesting, eccentric stuff coming out of the Swedish death metal scene.
Track Samples:
Sample : Black Tears
Sample : Blood-Colored
Sample : Twilight



EDGE OF SANITY   The Spectral Sorrows   LP   (Black Mark)    28.98



     A bunch of older titles from Swedish prog-death favorites Edge Of Sanity are back in print on vinyl, in new re-mastered colored vinyl editions with printed inner-sleeves; they look and sound terrific, and we've picked up three of them so far, 1992's Unorthodox, 1993's The Spectral Sorrows, and 1994's Purgatory Afterglow.
     As much as I love the entire Edge Of Sanity catalog, gun to my head, I'd probably pick the band's 1993 album The Spectral Sorrows as my favorite of the bunch. It's a classic slab of melodic Swedish death metal with some spectacular hooks, but it also saw the band getting even more stylistically experimental. Spectral manages to be both offbeat and highly listenable; these guys were crafting some really solid songs by this point, combining powerful melodies with their chainsaw riffage that foreshadowed the likes of In Flames and Soilwork. But band leader Dan Swano and crew were also incorporating their interests in prog, goth rock and psychedelia into their songwriting, which made for some interesting results. You get lots of seriously heavy death metal, songs like "Lost" and "Dark Day" delivering eerie intros, churning downtuned violence and somber melodies. Swano is singing more as well, his clear, baritone voice appearing more frequently amid the more standard guttural roars. The songs are more complex, sludgy chromatic grooves colliding with washes of spacey synth, vicious blasting tempos suddenly bursting from killer death n' roll hooks, and acoustic guitars and violins accompany the band into stretches of proggy, almost Opeth-esque majesty. Even when they break into a cover of Manowar's "Blood Of My Enemies" midway through, it feels of a piece with the rest of the album. It's a ll very infectious, the dark death metal broken up with passages of ethereal guitar and traces of folky melody, but it can also get quite weird, such as when the anthemic "Jesus Cries" breaks down into horrific dissonance and shrieking chaos at the end.
     And then there's "Sacrificed". From out of nowhere around halfway through the second side, Edge Of Sanity suddenly launch into this insanely catchy, monstrously propulsive goth rock anthem that sounds like a burlier, tougher version of Jim Steinman-era Sisters Of Mercy, with Swano even delivering his vocals in a deep, Eldritch-esque croon. It fucking rules, and somehow fits in perfectly with all of the crushing death metal.
     And on it goes, lacing that catchy death metal awesomeness with bits of moody piano and martial drumming, swoonsome vocal harmonies, strange Sabbathy sludge-a-thons, fist-pumping hard rock hooks, blasts of hardcore punk, all woven seamlessly with their pummeling heaviness. And it closes with yet another curveball, a New Agey instrumental electronic piece that sends gorgeous synth strings and glimmering melodies and delicate acoustic guitar sweeping across the final moments of Sorrows like a particularly pensive Vangelis piece, a strange but perfect finale to the album's dark, otherworldly journey....
     Definitely my fave album of theirs - it's the one that I usually turn to when playing Edge Of Sanity to someone who hasn't heard them yet. If you're into the more offbeat and adventurous side of old-school death metal, this is absolutely a must-hear. Features some great Dan Seagrave artwork as well.
Track Samples:
Sample : Darkday
Sample : Lost
Sample : Sacrificed



ELECTRIC FUNERAL   Total Funeral   2 x LP   (Southern Lord)    19.98



      Finally in stock! The massive Total Funeral double LP collects the entire discography from this Swedish one-man band, and it's some of the most vicious, rampaging punk extremism blasting out of our stereo system right now. Headed by a guy named Jocke D-Takt who's also known for his crust band Warvictims as well as operating D-Takt & Råpunk Records, Electric Funeral deals in that Confuse-influenced "noise-punk" aesthetic that I've been getting more and more addicted to lately. While a lot of the stuff in this vein tends to draw almost exclusively from the influence of noisy Japanese punk, Jocke additionally grounds his blisteringly distorted hardcore punk in a classic Swedish attack informed by the likes of Mob 47 and Anti-Cimex, which results in a much heavier brand of noise-punk than we usually get. If you dug the other forays into this style that have shown up on Southern Lord in the past (Kromosom, etc.), you should definitely give this a listen. Almost every song is a rampaging blast of Discharge-style metallic riffs and D-beat drumming, his vocals a fearsome scream buried in gales of echo and static. But that static is at the heart of the recording, the distortion cranked so hard that it feels as if the whole record is thrumming with dangerous levels of high-voltage electricity, a thick layer of white noise covering all of the instruments. It's not as insanely blown out and anti-musical as some of the stuff I've been listening to in this vein, but Electric Funeral's stuff is definitely pretty goddamn harsh. Some of this even starts to sound like actual power electronics, like the opening to "Make Noise Not War" that almost sounds like something from a Grey Wolves cassette before it suddenly erupts into a static-blasted Dis-crust assault.
     It's like hearing Scandinavian Jawbreaker run through a hellstorm of Broken Flag-style skullscrape, but it's not the noisiness alone that makes this such a ripper. The songs themselves are fucking ferocious, every one of these tracks a ripping blast of aggressive, rabid punk being played at breakneck speeds, a roar of shrill white noise and thunderous D-beat drumming whipped into a furious anti-war declaration; the lyrics are pretty much exactly what you'd expect from this sort of stuff, fericely anti-authoritarian, anti-war, anti-system, but more of a misanthropic, reclusive vibe than usual. A couple of Darkthrone and Warcry covers round this out, and even they are almost devoured by the blistering static annihilation of Electric Funeral's sound. Fans of stuff like Disclose, Zyanose, D-Clone, older Kromosom, Zatsuon, etc. as well as fans of just straight-up unbridled raw/crust punk will find this to be a dose of high-caliber skullshred. Everything is in here, collecting the Harvester Of Death and Make Noise Not War 7"s, the tracks from the split with Go Filth Go, the D-Beat Noise Attack, In League With Darkness, Order From Disorder, Gröndalen and Make A Change cassettes, the The Face Of War lathe cut, and a handful of unreleased recordings.


ELECTRIC WIZARD   self-titled   LP   (Rise Above)    31.00



Available once again, via this new 2015 reissue on black vinyl via Rise Above, in the same striking gatefold package as the previous edition. Here's my old write-up for this classic UK doom album from way back when...
In honor of Electric Wizard's recent induction into the Decibel Magazine "Hall Of Fame", which was just awarded to their milestone album Dopethrone from 2000, we've got all of their crucial deluxe re-issues available through Crucial Blast for you doomhounds that are missing these mighty platters from yer library. Repackaged in sweet digipack cases with enhanced and expanded artwork, brand new liner notes, great photos captured during each album's respective era, and bonus tracks, these Electric Wizard reissues are essential for any real fan of dope-huffing, spine crushing British DOOM.
Originally released in 1995, Electric Wizard's self-titled debut emerged from the pit with an elephantine heaviness that was pretty well unmatched. Available here in the States as a double CD along with 1997's Come My Fanatics, Electric Wizard is finally available as a standalone album in a sweet digipack with all of of Dave Patchett's amazing psychedelic artwork, and with two previously unavailable bonus tracks, "Illimitable Nebulie" and "Mourning Prayer Part 1" from the unreleased Doom Chapter demo. While their debut wasn't nearly as wrecked and planet-crushing as their classic Dopethrone album, this is still a devastating dose of super-heavy stoner doom, running the stoned science fiction visions and Lovecraftian nightmares of band leader Jus Oborn through cosmic post-Sabbath stomp and blue-collar nihilism ("But look around you, what have you got / no hope, no future, no fuckin' job..."). Absolute crushing hippie doom from the darkside. Essential.
Track Samples:
Sample : Devil's Bride
Sample : Mourning Prayer



EMPTINESS, THE   self-titled   CD   (K35 Incorporated)    11.98



     I get all kinds of strange black metal here at C-Blast, but the recent debut from French outfit The Emptiness is definitely one of the strangest that's come in here lately, offering a surrealistic strain of avant-garde blackness that combines muted BM-style drumming with a miasma of hushed croaked vocals and almost theatrical singing, backed by wailing dissonant horns and piano, and streaked with murky, wavering electronic keyboard tones that all fuse together into this very odd, weirdly jazzy mutation of blackened prog. Not to be confused with the slightly more well-known Belgian band called Emptiness, these guys have a much more tenuous connection to traditional black metal, with most of it existing just in the band's aggressive, blastbeat-laden drumming.
     The first time I heard these guys, I was much more reminded of that Rhode Island outfit Gravesideservice, who also combined black metal style drumming with weird classical elements, but as The Emptiness's eponymous debut continues to unfold, this stuff ends up going in a more hypnotic and unsettling direction. Thanks to those grating horns, there's also a really heavy avant-jazz influence, with several tracks having a chaotic, improvisational feel. The whole album has a constant backdrop of weird electronic sounds and droning instrumentation that lurks behind each of these eight songs, and it's against that backing swirling murk that The Emptiness drapes their blaring trumpets and squealing saxophones, often joined by washes of eerie, funerary chamber strings; that stuff alone would have made this a kind of creepy, outsider jazz album, but with the addition of those blastbeats and thrashing tempos that blaze through most of the songs, it becomes something much more crazed. Like the song "Why ?", which at first unfolds into a much less metallic, more straightforward (but still plenty weird and dissonant) avant-jazz sound, morphing from a clattery, almost Bohren-esque darkness into a murky black blast. Those dramatic vocal croaks are pretty malevolent as well, spitting a stream of consciousness flow of misanthropy and existential despair, and the guitars creep through the shadows, often relegated to a repeating minor key arpeggio that circles endlessly deep in the mix. It's an unusual but terrifically evil sound these guys have going on, the majority of this resembling some far-out atmospheric European jazz improvisation with ghoulish vocals, frigid blastbeats and swirling horror-movie organs glimmering blearily in the background. It can be downright spellbinding at times, an album that might well appeal as much to fans of ugEXPLODE-style aggro jazz as those into the more outré fringes of black metal inhabited by the likes of Aderlating, Nahvalr, Gnaw Their Tongues and Mamaleek.
Track Samples:
Sample : Why ?
Sample : Torments
Sample : Prison Without Walls



EPHEMEROS   All Hail Corrosion   LP   (Parasitic)    15.98



   Now in stock on vinyl.
   If there's one thing that I've learned after listening to a couple decades worth of doom metal, it's that merely slowing one's songs down to glacial tempos and offering dour riffs does not alone make for an enjoyable listening experience. Even the most funereal slogs need a song somewhere in there, which Ephemeros realize in spite of the sheer crawling weight of their music. This Portland, Oregon outfit features members from several punk/metal outfits like Nux Vomica, Graves At Sea and Uzala, but the glacial entropic waste that Ephemeros lay out on >All Hail Corrosion is carved out of the most dismal of sounds, with three epic-length songs spreading out in a black stain of funereal doom across the album. As soon as the opening title track kicks in with its sour lead guitars and plate-shifting tempos, the influences of the likes of Thergothon, Mournful Congregation and Worship reveal themselves, but as far as this sort of abject slow-motion metal goes, Ephemeros do it better than most, due to their ability to craft some solid memorable music underneath all of this misery.
   A soul-wrenching sense of existential horror bleeds from the band's lyrics, casting dire, depressing visions of a life lived in loss and futility, crushed beneath the weight of time, all hung against the band's stately heaviness; the deep, guttural roar of the vocals is imbued with a mournful emotional delivery that packs some punch, and there are moments where those vocals become more frantic and frenzied. Titanic riffs uncoil beneath the hopeless, sunless atmosphere, the crushing dirge often breaking away into the sound of a lone guitar picking out a lonely melody for a moment, before the whole band crashes back in with another punishing blast of funerary crush. Ephemeros's melodies are effective, emotional, intense; while this doesn't break too far from classic funeral doom conventions, it's really well-crafted stuff, certainly better than most Thergothon-worship I hear, and there are some really great touches like the plangent horn-like reveille that shows up on "Stillborn Workhorse". Closer "Soilbringer" is even more powerful, a devastating slow-motion hymn whose chords form into something that at times seems to echo with the dark power of "Dies Irae", the sound vast and majestic, the singer shifting into a strained howl as the guitars blossom into harmony, gorgeous leads guiding the album downward into torturous slow motion death metal obliteration that takes over the last half of the song. Fans of the more sophisticated melodic doom that bands like Thou, Dark Castle and Samothrace trade in will find much to dig here, despite Ephemeros's distinctly slower and more anguished approach.
Track Samples:
Sample : Soilbringer
Sample : All Hail Corrosion



ESOTERICA   A Home For Rats   CASSETTE   (Fall Of Nature)    6.50



     A blistering seven-song cassette from Philly-area black metallers Esoterica, A Home For Rats explodes in a miniature white-hot supernova of swirling synthesizer gloom, dreampop-tinged majesty and blackened discordant guitars, imbuing the recording with a killer otherworldly atmosphere as songs like "III" seethe and blast in a cyclonic storm across the beginning of the cassette. Made up of members of Chaos Moon, Krieg, and Lithotome, this band achieves a psychedelic quality that could be compared to some of Chaos Moon's own atmospheric rock-influenced material, but Esoterica is overall a much more violent beast, with most of their songs hurtling over a monotonous tornadic blastbeat, the vocals a hateful, animalistic snarl appearing high up in the mix, while additional layered guitars create an effect akin to the mindless drone of a factory that seems to blur through the depths of nearly the entire recording.
     There's a definite dissonant element to this stuff, but it's balance out by the gorgeous synthwork and gauzy celestial guitar textures that are woven throughout the tape, incorporating an almost Loveless-like melodic power to Esoterica's bestial blastscapes. Add in those slower, churning grooves that cut open the guts of songs like "Dilated", and the stretches of gorgeous kosmische ambience that follow right on the heels of that grinding mid-paced heaviness, and you get an interesting, unusual take on violent, spaced-out black metal, offset with a few lengthy tracks of beautifully murky and cinematic ambient music that stretch out into bleary, heat-blurred vistas, resembling some Teutonic synth outfit performing a film score deep within the vaulted chambers of a derelict cathedral. These songs can take on a mysterious, liturgical quality as the sounds bleed together into a washed-out haze of haunting orchestral drift. It's hardly what you'd call "blackgaze", but it does draw from some similar influences to create something more vicious and powerful, while seeping with a strange sort of bleary, blackened ambient beauty that the band skillfully juxtaposes against their raging mystic blast. Loved this stuff. Limited to one hundred copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : Elixir And Aer
Sample : Idolatraiae
Sample : IV / Ayahuasca



FAITH NO MORE   Superhero   7" VINYL   (Ipecac)    7.50














FISTULA   Vermin Prolificus / Ignorant Weapon   CASSETTE   (The Omega)    6.50



    Now available as a limited-edition tape from new label The Omega (an offshoot of The End Records), this pairs up Fistula's latest full-length Vermin Prolificus with the four tracks from the band's Ignorant Weapon 7" along with some additional bonus tracks, including vicious cover versions of Fang's "Destroy The Handicapped", GG Allin & Anti-Seen's "I Love Nothing", Overkill L.A.'s "Ladies In Leather", and Cro-Mags' "Life Of My Own". Limited to three hundred copies.
    The latest feast of filth from these Clevo scum-beasts, Vermin Prolificus delivers seven new tracks of fucked-up, violent sludgecore that's some of the grooviest stuff I've heard from 'em since Goat. Never ones to tinker with what makes them such a vicious listening experience, the band brings us the same sort of feedback-smeared, sample-laden misanthropy that we know and love, songs like "Smoke Cat Hair & Toe Nails" hurtling through an utterly hideous mix of shambling slow-mo sludge metal and ferocious crossover-tinged thrash. As on previous albums, Fistula use sinister samples lifted from various television programs and other pop-culture dead-ends, re-employing them here to extol the virtues of hard drug abuse, mutilation, and other depravities. The way that they mix those samples into their abject, abrasive sludge as always recalls the likes of Dystopia and Buzzoven, but Fistula jack up their sound with so much feral thrash and D-beat driven mayhem that they've turned into something uniquely diseased and demented, with a taste for high-speed carnage that gives us the occasional churning blasts of noisy, mangled grindcore that erupt out of their agonized slow-mo slogs through suffering and dementia.
    Yep, Vermin's got all of this, from short blasts of thrashing savagery like "Harmful Situation" and "Goat Brothel" to the rabid buzzsaw punk of "Upside Down" and back into those terrible, torturous crawls through gaping sewers on tracks like "Pig Funeral". It gets really abusive with the monstrous thirteen minute title track, where they drag their down-tuned, ultra-heavy riffage through a septic daze of grinding black crush and urban violence, the whole track almost totally instrumental save for the disturbing collage of sampled voices that the band stitches together across the sprawling , hypnotic puke-groove. The whole Lp is also loaded with those killer tempo shifts that Fistula pulls off so well, dropping from speedy, scum-encrusted thrash in the most devastating manner possible, the amped-up tempos downshifting with bone-breaking abruptness into disgustingly heavy riffs that instantaneously boil your blood. Ridiculously heavy stuff, and with killer album art from both Luciana Nedelea and Frank Oblak, illustrating Fistula's foul scumscape where the only catharsis is found through acts of brutal violence and ritualized narcotic use. Still yet to be disappointed by anything that Fistula has put out, fans of their misanthropic filth will get all the pain they seek and more - can't recommend this enough if you're addicted to the hateful negativity and tar-pit nihilism of bands like Grief, Eyehategod and Buzzoven.
Track Samples:
Sample : Goat Brothel
Sample : Pig Funeral
Sample : Smoke Cat Hair and Toenails



FOLDED SHIRT   self-titled   LP   (Fashionable Idiots)    11.98



     I probably could have guessed that these guys came from Cleveland, just from listening to the first couple of minutes of damaged punk rock that flopped off the beginning of this record. For whatever reason, the northern Ohio area has been particularly fertile for producing this sort of brain-damaged punk, and this older LP from Clevo mutants Folded Shirt delivers a blast of that upstate weirdness that I've been digging ever since the heyday of the Wheelchair Full Of Old Men label.
     This self-titled Lp came out on gonzo punk imprint Fashionable Idiots back in 2011, and if you're familiar with the other examples of outsider hardcore and punk weirdness the label has put out, you'll have a general idea of where this is headed. Folded Shirt has a ratty, art-damaged vibe that's gotten their music compared to the likes of early Sonic Youth and Chrome in a few reviews I've read, but the band's rambling, raving noise-addled punk is a bit more aggressive, with an undercurrent of fucked-up hardcore that's no doubt due to the fact that some of these guys have also played in bands like Darvocets and Homostupids. On their one and only full-length, Folded Shirt belt out eleven songs of this plodding, often discordant slop-punk that's loaded with oddball atonal riffs and some rather Greg Ginn-esque "soloing", bizarre xylophone melodies and droning bass guitar and awkward, arrhythmic drumming, and a wonky vocal delivery that piles on the bizarre lyrical visions, the singer descending into random yelps and bouts of borderline glossolalia. This stuff is a blast of Beefheartian mayhem - songs like "Always Born That Way" manage to glom these discordant qualities and maniacal, petulant vocals together in a way that's really catchy, and really reminiscent of fellow Clevo-area weirdos Sloth (at least when that band is playing their brain-damaged version of punk rock) as well as terminal creeps Sockeye. The influence of the latter hovers over this stuff, with songs that delve into the challenges of having a moist brain, the joys of ice machines, bizarre appropriations of Billy Idol lyrics, and something called a "retard hoedown".


FÓRN   The Departure Of Consciousness   LP   (Vendetta)    19.99

The Departure Of Consciousness IS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE FOR ORDER

     At last got around to stocking this impressive new album from Boston's Forn, now that it's gotten a second pressing (sans the striking obi band that wrapped around the jacket for the first edition of the LP). This album has been steadily amassing accolades from both press and purchasers since coming out this past summer, due to it's powerful take on atmospheric doom metal, delivering a six-song set of glacial gloom and scorched-earth ambience that blends in just the right amount of grinding industrial-tinged soundscapery to transport this music into an upper echelon of sonic dread.
     The album's intro track is entirely instrumental, weaving grating factory-rumble loops around swells of severely downtuned guitar and enshrouding it all in a heavy black fog of end time dread, but it's the second song "Dweller On The Threshold" that really bulldozes across your soul, with a massive gravitational pull emanating from the band's massive guitar sound and the strength of the rhythm section as they lumber, heavy enough to rival any other new doom metral album that came out towards the end of 2014, but those stately guitar melodies that these guys wind around the imposing slo-mo heaviosity really tower over this album, unfurling twin guitar harmonies and demented licks that puts 'em in a similar league as the likes of Thou, Asunder and Samothrace. But Forn also incorporate more of a black metal influence throughout this record as well, with the songs sometimes rupturing into violent blackened riffery and gales of frostbitten blastbeat drumming that flow fluidly out of their crushing torpor. Really immense stuff that gazes into the void, surrounded by susurrant sighs and coldly gleaming starlight. Tracks like "Gates Of The Astral Plane" coupling utterly bone-rattling low-end rumble with elegiac arrangements, and the plaintive, Godspeed You Black Emperor-esque passages on "Suffering In The Eternal Void" that erupt into titanic dirge are all quite moving. Deserving of the attention that this album has been getting since its release. Gorgeously macabre illustrations from Natures Mortes imbue this with added power.


FRIZZI, FABIO   Zombie Flesh Eaters (Strong Uncut Edition)   LP   (Death Waltz)    29.98



    The very first release from Death Waltz was their reissue of the classic Fabio Frizzi score for Fulci's Zombi 2, kicking off an amazing run of soundtrack releases over the past few years - this killer Lp is finally back in print with an all new package design and retitled under one of the film's more notorious alternate titles, and newly remastered by Frizzi. It's still one of the coolest soundtracks that Death Waltz has unearthed, a bizarro sonic nightmare of tropical delirium, evil electronics and shambling necro-prog that's an essential addition to your library of classic gore-scores.
    Couldn't have picked out a better score for Death Waltz's inaugural release, really. One of my all-time favorite Italian composers from the Golden Age of pastaland splatter, Fabio Frizzi assembled one of the most iconic film scores from this era with his hallucinatory score for Lucio Fulci's 1979 undead splatter classic Zombie Flesh Eaters. The film itself is a classic of Italian horror, in spite of it's obvious cribbing of ideas from George Romero's work; the story is prone to all of the nonsensical plotting and lapses in logic that infect much of Fulci's horror output, but there are images in Zombi 2 that are among some of the most indelible visions of flesh-carnage on record. The infamous "splinter" sequence alone elevated this into some upper echelon of filmic carnography. For the soundtrack to Fulci's blood-splattered tropical nightmare, Frizzi crafted a dreamlike assemblage of island music, primitive droning synthesizers, and eerie Mellotrons floating in a putrescent haze of rot and decay. If you were to stumble across this Lp blindly, hearing Frizzi's opening sequence of Caribbean percussion, steel drums, and sunny island melodies would hardly suggest the imminent descent into Fulci's nightmarish world of black voodoo magic, violent jungle death and shambling rot contained on these reels; the first track on the Zombi 2 soundtrack sounds more like the theme music for a tropical resort commercial, but this strange intro only serves to make the sinister synthscapes, Mellotron-laced prog and glistening early 80's horror ambience that follows all the more haunting. This is some of Frizzi's best known work, a classic spook-prog soundtrack and a solid album of malevolent synthesizer music all on its own, enhanced by collaborator Maurizio Guarini who handled the keyboard work. Some of those traces of tropical music continue to appear throughout the score, subtle percussive elements suggestive of steel drums that are carefully sublimated beneath the sleek synths and propulsive rhythms, and the feverish trancelike sound of tribal drums are a recurring theme, evoking the themes of voodoo magic and undead chaos that creep through Fulci's film. There's also a smattering of wailing atonal acid guitar and some subtle Moroder-esque disco elements, all wrapped in Frizzi's mutant electronic sounds. And then there's that main theme, those muted muffled drum machines thumping beneath the choral voices buried beneath all that murk, the sound ancient and moldering, only to birth that main synth hook that any fan of Italian splatter will instantly recognize. It's right up there with Goblin's output from the same period, eerie and weird and totally unforgettable, the whole soundtrack imbued with a feeling of wrongness that's impossible to shake.
    This new 2015 reissue looks fantastic, totally revamping the packaging, presented in a gatefold jacket that features the original UK quad art created by legendary poster artist Tom Beauvais, a re-designed insert with liner notes from renowned author and musician Steven Thrower (Coil, Psyclobe, Nightmare USA, Eyeball, etc.), star Ian McCulloch, Beauvais, and Frizzi himself.
Track Samples:
Sample : Main Title
Sample : Maggots
Sample : Eyeball
Sample : Virus



FRIZZI, FABIO   A Cat In The Brain   LP   (Mondo)    34.99



     I've been raving about the recent Frizzi reissues that have been coming out on vinyl lately, like the gorgeous re-mastered Lp editions of Zombi 2 and City of The Living Dead, which all offer an opportunity for a much needed re-appraisal of the Italian composer's work. With Mondo's reissue of Frizzi's soundtrack to the 1990 film A Cat In The Brain, though, we're treated to one of his lesser known, more offbeat film scores that shows a different side to his style. Appearing here on vinyl for the first time ever, Frizzi's Cat In The Brain was another in a long line of collaborations between Frizzi and legendary Italian splat-master Lucio Fulci, but for this project the composer offered an oddball mix of romantic synth music along with his signature throbbing electro-funk terror and sinister ambience, several of the tracks sourced from previous Fulci-film soundtracks, which served as the backdrop to Fulci's meta examination of his career that was the basis of the film. Cat was definitely one of the more unusual and thoughtful films in Fulci's body of work from the late 80s, featuring a narrative that saw Fulci essentially playing himself as an aging horror film director questioning his ever-tenuous grip on reality amidst a series of violent murders. It was an intriguing diversion from the sort of hyper-violent horrors that made Fulci famous in the earlier part of the decade, though Cat has its share of seriously moist gore sequences. And the soundtrack was likewise a bit different from the classic synth-drenched Frizzi scores of the early 80's with its heavy jazz and pop influence, but you'll still find that signature sonic sickness that we love from this guy, along with a few traces of the gothic progginess that made earlier scores like City and Zombi 2 some of my favorite Italian horror scores of all time.
     Frizzi's Cat In The Brain mirrors the psychological disarray of it's protagonist as it moves erratically from disturbing atonal jazziness laced with screaming hard rock guitar solos and those signature dissonant piano chords, into saccharine late-80's instrumental casio-pop draped in sickeningly sweet romantic synth-strings, a weird casio-flute rendition of the melody from Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King, passages of smoky ragtime, arrangements for ghostly music box melody and creepy children's songs, and a couple of awesomely vintage action-synth themes scattered among the score's spookier synthscapes and twisted dark funk. There's also a reworked version of Frizzi's classic "Voci Dal Nulla" theme from The Beyond that ties in with Cat's meta musings on the state of the creative mind and a directors relationship to cinematic violence.
     While it would have been nice to have the original Un gatto nel cervello poster art for the sleeve, the artwork from We Buy Your Kids is one of the better designs I've seen from them. Packaged in a gatefold jacket, the reissue is rounded out with new liner notes from Frizzi, and is pressed on one hundred eighty gram vinyl.
Track Samples:
Sample : Un Gatto Nel Cervello - Sequence 12
Sample : Un Gatto Nel Cervello - Sequence 11
Sample : Un Gatto Nel Cervello - Sequence 2



FULL OF HELL + MERZBOW   self-titled   LP   (A389 Records)    19.99



    Back in print, now on 180 gram black vinyl.
    Even though the band is from right down the road from C-Blast HQ, it wasn't until quite recently that I started to listen to these guys in earnest, starting with a rather blistering set I saw them perform in DC with Column Of Heaven around a year ago. The 7"s I'd picked up from the band were pretty cool, but after seeing them live I realized they didn't do justice to the strength of their sonic attack; in the live setting, their mix of brutal hardcore and cyclonic grind flayed the flesh right off of my bones. When the band's collaboration with Japanese noise pioneer Merzbow was announced shortly thereafter, this vicious album turned into one of my more anticipated new releases of '14.It's one of the best noise/metal collabs I've heard since Masami Akita himself teamed up with those maniacs in Gore Beyond Necropsy, with a ferocious sound that comes much closer to capturing the live savagery of the band.
    The album is a short one at just twenty-three minutes long, but it hurtles at top speed through eleven tracks of blasting ferocity. Songs race by in a blur of ultra-violent blastbeats and discordant hardcore riffs, the multiple vocalists swapping back and forth between the frantic, bestial screeching and deeper, gruffer bellowing and a weird disaffected moan, the music blending equal parts spazztoid staccato powerviolence with blurts of massive dissonant sludge and full-on grindcore. Occasionally this will slow down into turbulent assaults of jagged noise-rock or pulverizing dirge, and Merzbow's presence is felt throughout, not only in the swells of jittery electronics and squealing high-pitched feedback that bubble up in the spaces between songs, transforming entire tracks like "Raise Thee, Great Wall, Bloody And Terrible" into outbursts of virtual power electronics, but also as an omnipresent texture in the midst of the band's raging grind. A layer of electronic filth and corrosion that smolders beneath the instruments, creating an edgy aural abrasion lurking in every corner of the album. Towards the end, things slow down to a seriously epic crawl, starting with "High Fells" as it drags itself through vast furrows of droning heaviness somewhere in between the industrial plod of early Swans and the barbaric trance of Neurosis, crushing riffs churning over noisy percussion as the vocals rise in wraithlike chant and vein-popping screams, while volleys of jazzy horns streak overhead. And on ""Ljudet Av Gud", most of that instrumentation is swept away, leaving just a creaking noisescape of distant electro-acoustic sounds slowly overcome by the rhythmic boom of hammers on empty oil tanks, building into a desolate industrial dirge that takes over the entire track. Building to the cathartic release of closer "Fawn Heads And Unjoy", the final blast of dissonant, delirious grind violence is splattered in free jazz squonk.
Track Samples:
Sample : LuDJet Av Gud
Sample : High Fells
Sample : Fawn Heads And Unjoy
Sample : Blue Litmus
Sample : Merzdrone
Sample : Litany Of Desire



FUNERAL   self-titled   CD   (Aphelion Productions)    11.98



     Along with Doomed, Funeral was another project spun off by members of Autopsy back in the 90s, but this one never even managed to release anything during their brief run. This eponymous collection on Aphelion is the first time that the recorded output of Funeral has ever been officially released, and while the band is little more than a footnote in the history of Autopsy and West Coast death metal, this stuff is actually pretty goddamn ripping, definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of obscure early 90s prog-death. I'd been wanting to hear these recordings ever since realizing that mighty bass virtuoso Steve DiGiorgio (also of Death / Sadus / Control Denied fame) had played in the band, and it's definitely one of the more compositionally adventurous projects to come from this crew; it featured DiGiorgio playing alongside Autopsy band mate Eric Cutler, and even features some killer sleeve art from Autopsy's Chris Reifert, who furnishes the album with some great gruesome psychedelic cartoon art and the band's killer caveman bone logo.
     These guys were only around for a minute back in the 90s, recording only one demo tape and an instrumental rehearsal in 1996 before they split up. It's killer stuff, though, as these guys burped up some great wonky deathdoom, mixing that signature sludgy Autopsy style with some weird, almost prog-informed bass playing, lots of discordant guitar shred, and a heavy dose of fucked-up chordal dissonance; the latter gives a vaguely Gorgutsian vibe to certain parts of the band's demo, blended with the passages of eerie, cavernous doom and contorted slo-mo riffery. The vocals are a guttural, demonic muttering that actually sounds like they might have been played back at the wrong speed, spewing out a variety of morbid visions, and the recording itself has a weird sparseness that contributes to its off-kilter vibe. While these guys weren't doing anything too outré here, Funeral's demo did stick out from the other projects that the Autopsy guys were involved with, with more of an offbeat progginess that I really dig. These guys could thrash too, with songs like "Mourning" offsetting their crawling deathdoom with bursts of raucous Sadus-esque violence, and even the faster material features more of DiGiorgio's awesome, fusion-influenced fretless bass playing. The other four tracks on the disc come from a pro-recorded rehearsal session the band did later in 1996 - it's all instrumental and is sans DiGiorgio, and it gets a little rough on one track with some tape garble and dropouts, but it's still an interesting listen for fans of the demo, made up of all new material that showed the band moving into even slower and more miserable depths of doomdeath dementia. Includes a booklet loaded with lyrics, liner notes, photos, and artwork.
Track Samples:
Sample : Funeral
Sample : I Hate I Kill
Sample : Mortem
Sample : Mourning



FUNERARY CALL / CROWN OF BONE   self-titled   CASSETTE   (Fall Of Nature)    6.50



    Fetid mortuary ambience meets annihilating black noise! The latest split from prolific blackened noise outfit (and ex-Demonologist) Crown of Bone pairs him up with long running ritual black ambient project Funerary Call, who returns with one his darkest new recordings since Fragments From The Aethyr / Nightside Emanations.
    Funerary Call's "Idols Of Perdition" and "Silent Prayers Of Execration" are highly evocative crypt-rituals, much in the vein of his C-Blast release Fragments From The Aethyr. These tracks combine acoustic rattlings and dank subterranean ambience with monstrous vocal utterances, inhuman sighs and bursts of rumbling low-end, his blackened deathdrift sweeping through a vast underground system of tunnels and chambers, creating an awesome nightmarish atmosphere that stretches across the entire side. I've really dug the more ambient work on his recent Mirror discs on Cyclic Law, but this rougher, more hellish material is always my favorite side of Funerary Call's sound, a hallucinatory, utterly ghastly soundscape that curls its withered, knotted claws tight around your heart. Some killer black kosmiche synth-like roars rip through the blackness as well, trumpeting blasts of distorted electronics that amp up the heaviness a bit at certain points throughout the tape, and some glimmering, almost glitchy tones emerge across the second track to create a softer, more droning effect, but that creepy, chthonic vibe is maintained throughout the whole side. A perfect meeting of Lustmordian ambience and black metal-style charnel atmosphere, and one of the most evil recordings to come from Funerary Call in some time.
    Crown Of Bone counters that charnel creep with a completely different but no less blackened wall of abrasive, evil noise. "Befallen Pillars Of Dissected Flesh" and "Altar Of Nocturnal Decomposition" sprawl out into vast hellstorms of crackling black static and whiplash electronic skree, further enshrouded in a mist of tape hiss and high-end tension, while monstrous death metal-style roars rage over the cacophonic waves. Very similar to previous stuff that we've heard from this project, but it's an effective combination of HNW-style aesthetics and violent vocal horror, occasionally shot through with short passages of bleary, blasted beauty that break through the acid storm like streams of orchestral drift, underscored with layers of rumbling low-end drone and smoldering electronic grit, boring through the furious black swarms of distorted Merzbowian chaos. Really excellent blackened noise that fans of his earlier work in Demonologists should be checking out.     Limited to 100 copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : FUNERARY CALL - Idols Of Perdition
Sample : CROWN OF BONE - Altar Of Nocturnal Decomposition
Sample : With Curse



GAS CHAMBER   Stained Hand   7" VINYL   (SPHC)    5.98



     The latest from proggy blastcore beasts Gas Chamber, Stained Hand delivers two new tracks of this Rochester, NY band's killer mix of atmospheric, prog-tinged darkness and violent hyper-fast hardcore. These guys have been putting out some of my favorite stuff on the Iron Lung label, and this new EP is just as great. "Stained Hand" weaves a mournful, slightly menacing melody around hypnotic clean guitars and restrained drumming over the first half of the song, a dark and almost math-rock-esque feel to this long instrumental introduction; they eventually kick it into high gear though, while keeping up that eerie guitar melody, winding it around the pummeling high speed tempos and blazing hardcore riffs and bellowed vocals that spill out across the rest of the song, turning this into something sadly majestic and super catchy all at the same time. The untitled song on the b-side is even more expansive in scope, arising out of a cloud of looping melodic fragments and backwards sound, a bleary, droning backdrop that the band sets another one of their brooding melodies against, only to once again tear it apart as they hurtle headfirst into another violent blast of breakneck thrash. And then out of the blue, the song suddenly shifts into a killer doom-laden second half that almost sounds like a rawer, hardcore-damaged take on 80's era King Crimson. Very nice. Another killer piece of music from one of the most interesting bands in hardcore right now, housed in fantastic sleeve art taken from early 20th century German illustrator Ernst Reupke.


GATES   Moths Have Eaten The Core   LP   (Anti-Matter)    16.99



    Finally have this vinyl reissue of Gates' Moths Have Eaten The Core in stock, on colored vinyl in acasewrapped jacket, with download code, double-sided insert and an 11" by 17" poster, all featuring brand-new artwork.     Here's my old review of the original CDR release:
    This album from the Canadian ambient doom project Gates more or less suffered this fate; we're down to just a couple of copies, and once these sell out, this title will be out of print. When I finally did dig it out and give it a spin recently, I was pretty impressed with the massive rumbling doomscapes that Gates produces, a sprawling, wide-flung abyss of industrial doom drifting through utter blackness. The three songs on Moths Have Eaten The Core are expansive affairs, the first built up with dense layers of hiss and reverb and field recordings, huge glacial doom metal riffs slowly undulating in the depths, super heavy and distorted, while high end guitar notes, gleaming cold and shimmering with more reverb, slowly ascend overhead, and mysterious cracking, crashing, clanking noises sound in the background. It's like Sunn's Black One reshaped into a space rock jam. The second track "Inner Labyrinth" is just as heavy, just as blackened, but instead of a howling abyssal mass of amorphous dronemetal, the sound on this one is much more restrained. The slow, oozing riffs are buried under flattened low end frequencies and waves of amplifier hiss, streaked with droning feedback and speaker crackle. The latter half of the song grows more unstable, blasts of high end synthesizer and buzzing, almost black metallic melodies snaking through the murk. And then the final track "Dust of Absence", a monolithic twenty-plus minute symphony that moves through smoking wastelands of pitch-black amplifier drift into oceanic drones and what sounds like majestic strings and French horns and a whole orchestral percussion section playing in extreme slow motion, a washed-out, blurry symphonic drift buried beneath layers upon layers of hum and roar, lifeless moaning and Lustmordian blackness.
Track Samples:
Sample : Dust of Absence
Sample : Inner Labyrinth
Sample : Outer Labyrinth



GNAW THEIR TONGUES   Logo (SMALL)   SHIRT   (Crucial Blast)    14.98



    Specifically printed for the band's Maryland Deathfest and Apex Fest appearances in 2015, this design features the classic logo art from Dutch black industrial metal outfit Gnaw Their Tongues emblazoned in red ink across the front of a black 100% cotton Gildan brand garment. It's pretty sharp. We've have the last available shirts from Gnaw Their Tongues' U.S. dates featuring this print design, so quantities are very limited.











GNAW THEIR TONGUES   Logo (MEDIUM)   SHIRT   (Crucial Blast)    14.98

Logo (MEDIUM) IS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE FOR ORDER

    Specifically printed for the band's Maryland Deathfest and Apex Fest appearances in 2015, this design features the classic logo art from Dutch black industrial metal outfit Gnaw Their Tongues emblazoned in red ink across the front of a black 100% cotton Gildan brand garment. It's pretty sharp. We've have the last available shirts from Gnaw Their Tongues' U.S. dates featuring this print design, so quantities are very limited.











GNAW THEIR TONGUES   Logo (LARGE)   SHIRT   (Crucial Blast)    14.98

Logo (LARGE) IS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE FOR ORDER

    Specifically printed for the band's Maryland Deathfest and Apex Fest appearances in 2015, this design features the classic logo art from Dutch black industrial metal outfit Gnaw Their Tongues emblazoned in red ink across the front of a black 100% cotton Gildan brand garment. It's pretty sharp. We've have the last available shirts from Gnaw Their Tongues' U.S. dates featuring this print design, so quantities are very limited.











GNAW THEIR TONGUES   Logo (EXTRA LARGE)   SHIRT   (Crucial Blast)    14.98



    Specifically printed for the band's Maryland Deathfest and Apex Fest appearances in 2015, this design features the classic logo art from Dutch black industrial metal outfit Gnaw Their Tongues emblazoned in red ink across the front of a black 100% cotton Gildan brand garment. It's pretty sharp. We've have the last available shirts from Gnaw Their Tongues' U.S. dates featuring this print design, so quantities are very limited.











GNAW THEIR TONGUES   Logo (XXL)   SHIRT   (Crucial Blast)    14.98



    Specifically printed for the band's Maryland Deathfest and Apex Fest appearances in 2015, this design features the classic logo art from Dutch black industrial metal outfit Gnaw Their Tongues emblazoned in red ink across the front of a black 100% cotton Gildan brand garment. It's pretty sharp. We've have the last available shirts from Gnaw Their Tongues' U.S. dates featuring this print design, so quantities are very limited.











GNAW THEIR TONGUES   Abyss Of Longing Throats   CD   (Crucial Blast)    9.99



    Though Gnaw Their Tongues has hardly been quiet in the interim, what with recent collaborations with Alkerdeel, the release of the Collected Atrocities collection and recent high-profile performances in the US at Maryland Deathfest XIII and Apex VI, it's been a good three years since the last full-length album from this Dutch nightmare machine. But with new album Abyss Of Longing Throats, Gnaw Their Tongues has returned in full ravenous glory, offering another hellish cacophony of mangled industrial black metal, lurching deformed heaviness, twisted electronic carnage and bombastic orchestral power that sounds like no one else.
    From the frenzied black swarms that sweep across the doom-laden death industrial of opener "Lick The Poison From The Cave Walls" that eventually resolves into a glacial haze of bleary, blasted bliss, to the hallucinatory black metal of "Through Flesh" that fuses staccato violins, terrifying choral singing and grueling mechanical doom to one of the most emotionally stirring sequences yet heard in the band's catalog, Abyss continues to chart the evolution of Gnaw Their Tongues' sound. There's plenty of the grueling industrialized heaviness and violent orchestral sounds the band is known for, but this new material also expands upon the filthy blackened doom at the heart of Gnaw Their Tongues' music with those moments of striking melodic power, moments where all the horror surging through these songs suddenly transforms into something hauntingly elegiac. Brief passages of tragic beauty, scattered throughout an abyss roiling with relentless programmed blastbeats, somber chamber strings hovering mournfully amid tortured shrieks, harsh clanking percussion and blasts of raging orchestral chaos, all writhing together into another exhilarating descent into total demonic delirium from this monstrous outfit.
Track Samples:
Sample : The Holy Body
Sample : Through Flesh
Sample : Lick The Poison From The Cave Walls



GOATSNAKE   Black Age Blues   CD   (Southern Lord)    12.98



     Available on CD and LP, the vinyl version with an additional two exclusive tracks.
     Time flies. It's been fifteen years since the last Goatsnake album, though it feels like just yesterday that I was getting flattened by the titanic blues-doom heaviosity of Flower Of Disease. It's indeed been a decade and a half since the L.A. doom rock heavies dropped their modern masterpiece of American doom metal Flower Of Disease, with a long hiatus interrupted with brief spurts of activity between, but after all this time Goatsnake are back, and with a monstrous set of tunes that sounds like there's been no downtime at all. These guys are my favorite American doom metal outfit as a matter of fact, so to hear them return with a roar of triumph with the appropriately titled Black Age Blues remains one of the musical highlights of 2015 for myself; over the course of their previous two albums Goatsnake crafted some of the catchiest, heaviest Sabbathian music I've ever heard, like some monstrous, sludge-encrusted blend of The Cult and Sabbath, and that powerful sound is in full force on their comeback album. In Pete Stahl, Goatsnake boast one of the finest frontmen to ever swing the mic in a doom metal outfit, his powerful, soaring singing and weathered, Astbury-esque croon offers a perfect contrast with the soul-flattening Sabbath-on-steroids might of their music, and he sounds more world-weary than ever with these songs.
     There's a poignancy to how the album opens, beginning with fading echoes of the song "The River" that ended Flower Of Disease, leaving no doubt that the band is picking up exactly where they left off fifteen years ago. And as they slide into the pulverizing elephantine crush of "Another River To Cross", it's as if no time has elapsed at all, the band's signature downtuned doom rock as molten and menacing as it has ever sounded, and singer Stahl sounds utterly unweathered, his honeyed, soulful croon taking flight across the song's bluesy, slow-motion crawl. It's a hell of a comeback, displaying the same impeccable level of songwriting acumen as the previous album, syrupy yet bone-grinding guitar tone, the rhythm section swerves and swings expertly , laying down titanic grooves amid some sneaky off-kilter time signature changes and edgy, stuttering rhythms, while heightening some of their more unique influences, with elements of gospel, soul and southern blues all seeping into these songs; they break out the harmonica again on the massive Sabbathoid "Elevated Man" before careening through the garagey rocker while tossing off armloads of bludgeoning riff-grenades. On "Coffee & Whiskey", they hammer down on a mammoth gluey heaviness that would flatten the ugliest sludgecore outfit, but can follow it up with the rollicking biker-doom perfection of the title track, a slow-mo shimmy that's as ominous yet infectious as the saurian boogie of their last album. There's some great use of backing gospel-style vocals on "House Of The Moon", and "Jimi’s Gone" is a skull-smashing blues-metal earworm that oozes around yet another massive magmatic hook and more of those terrific all-female backing R&B vocals from the trio Dem Preacher's Daughters. It's all so goddamn heavy, it's almost overwhelming, with Anderson dropping sledgehammer riffs that most metalcore bands would lose a limb for, while strafing you with his searing, asthmatic solos that lash out like barbed wire from the tarpit heart of these tracks, and yet still throws some new twists into their sound, everything a little more rhythmically complex than before, the tone darker and more sinister. A great goddamn comeback from these guys.
Track Samples:
Sample : Jimi's Gone
Sample : Black Age Blues
Sample : Another River to Cross



GOATSNAKE   Black Age Blues   2 x LP   (Southern Lord)    22.99



     Available on CD and LP, the vinyl version with an additional two exclusive tracks.
     Time flies. It's been fifteen years since the last Goatsnake album, though it feels like just yesterday that I was getting flattened by the titanic blues-doom heaviosity of Flower Of Disease. It's indeed been a decade and a half since the L.A. doom rock heavies dropped their modern masterpiece of American doom metal Flower Of Disease, with a long hiatus interrupted with brief spurts of activity between, but after all this time Goatsnake are back, and with a monstrous set of tunes that sounds like there's been no downtime at all. These guys are my favorite American doom metal outfit as a matter of fact, so to hear them return with a roar of triumph with the appropriately titled Black Age Blues remains one of the musical highlights of 2015 for myself; over the course of their previous two albums Goatsnake crafted some of the catchiest, heaviest Sabbathian music I've ever heard, like some monstrous, sludge-encrusted blend of The Cult and Sabbath, and that powerful sound is in full force on their comeback album. In Pete Stahl, Goatsnake boast one of the finest frontmen to ever swing the mic in a doom metal outfit, his powerful, soaring singing and weathered, Astbury-esque croon offers a perfect contrast with the soul-flattening Sabbath-on-steroids might of their music, and he sounds more world-weary than ever with these songs.
     There's a poignancy to how the album opens, beginning with fading echoes of the song "The River" that ended Flower Of Disease, leaving no doubt that the band is picking up exactly where they left off fifteen years ago. And as they slide into the pulverizing elephantine crush of "Another River To Cross", it's as if no time has elapsed at all, the band's signature downtuned doom rock as molten and menacing as it has ever sounded, and singer Stahl sounds utterly unweathered, his honeyed, soulful croon taking flight across the song's bluesy, slow-motion crawl. It's a hell of a comeback, displaying the same impeccable level of songwriting acumen as the previous album, syrupy yet bone-grinding guitar tone, the rhythm section swerves and swings expertly , laying down titanic grooves amid some sneaky off-kilter time signature changes and edgy, stuttering rhythms, while heightening some of their more unique influences, with elements of gospel, soul and southern blues all seeping into these songs; they break out the harmonica again on the massive Sabbathoid "Elevated Man" before careening through the garagey rocker while tossing off armloads of bludgeoning riff-grenades. On "Coffee & Whiskey", they hammer down on a mammoth gluey heaviness that would flatten the ugliest sludgecore outfit, but can follow it up with the rollicking biker-doom perfection of the title track, a slow-mo shimmy that's as ominous yet infectious as the saurian boogie of their last album. There's some great use of backing gospel-style vocals on "House Of The Moon", and "Jimi’s Gone" is a skull-smashing blues-metal earworm that oozes around yet another massive magmatic hook and more of those terrific all-female backing R&B vocals from the trio Dem Preacher's Daughters. It's all so goddamn heavy, it's almost overwhelming, with Anderson dropping sledgehammer riffs that most metalcore bands would lose a limb for, while strafing you with his searing, asthmatic solos that lash out like barbed wire from the tarpit heart of these tracks, and yet still throws some new twists into their sound, everything a little more rhythmically complex than before, the tone darker and more sinister. A great goddamn comeback from these guys.
Track Samples:
Sample : Jimi's Gone
Sample : Black Age Blues
Sample : Another River to Cross



GODFLESH   A World Lit Only By Fire   CASSETTE   (Hydra Head)    9.99



Now available on limited edition cassette from Hydra Head.
Throughout 2014, there were numerous long-awaited albums that I was dyin' to hear, long in the works comebacks from longtime favorites like Mysticum and Eyehategod, but more than any of them, I was looking forward to the brand new album from Godflesh. This mucho anticipated comeback from the British industrial metal titans came on the heels of the fantastic Decline & Fall EP from earlier in the year that teased us with a glimpse of the molten fury of the band's reinvigorated sound, but even with that preface, A World Lit Only By Fire still stunned with it's relentless, hammering power. From the opening moments, it's clear that the band is firing on full force, hammering out the sort of punishing mechanized heaviness that their earliest albums were known for. And World has it, a triumphant return after a thirteen year silence, sounding like there's been no downtime at all.
Aglow in apocalyptic ambience and encrusted in corrosion, A World Lit Only By Fire strips away virtually all of the melodic undercurrents that appeared on the last Godflesh album Hymns (and which foresaw the heavily-layered shoegazey sludge that Broadrick would explore in more depth with his Jesu project following Godflesh's demise), going for a more streamlined and skull-crushing assault right off the bat with the syncopated mecha-crush of "New Dark Ages", massive downtuned guitars piling atop the robotic thud of the drum machine, the bass slung like slack power cables across the grimly hypnotic groove. That relentless chug continues through the pissed-off dirgey dissonance of "Deadend" that downshifts into even more bone-rattling slo-mo tempos, and the death-factory pummel of "Shut Me Down" swings a titanic hammer across it's punishing head-nodding groove; the power of this material is consistent throughout the entire album, with shades of the band's haunting post-punk tinged pummel seeping into some of the middle tracks, echoes of Killing Joke and Swans lurking beneath the grinding grooves and malevolent pneumatic rhythms, alongside brief glimpses of redemptive beauty that shimmer out across the occasional melodic riff that emerges out of the machinelike anvil crush. And then there's "Imperator", which would be the heaviest slab of industrial death metal I've heard in eons if it weren't for Broadrick's contrasting stoned-out crooning vocals. This is one lean comeback album, devoid of anything that would detract from the single-minded lethality of Godflesh's renewed vision, and the result is easily the best industrial metal album to arrive in recent memory. Highest recommendation.
Track Samples:
Sample : New Dark Ages
Sample : Forgive Our Fathers
Sample : Carrion



GODFLESH   Decline & Fall   CASSETTE   (Hydra Head)    7.99



Now available on limited edition cassette from Hydra Head.
Though Godflesh were resurrected in 2010 for a run of festival dates (one of which ended up being their crushing performance at the 2012 Maryland Deathfest, still one of the best sets I've ever seen at the festival), it's taken them a few years to get around to actually putting together some new material for us. Released as a taste of what's to come with their impending new album A World Lit Only by Fire coming later this year, Decline & Fall finally brings us the new Godflesh that we've been waiting for, their first batch of original songs in thirteen years. And man, as soon as "Ringer" kicks in, it's like it's been no time at all, the massive propulsive crush of that opening song is classic Godflesh, that monstrous corrosive downtuned riffage and low-frequency blast of the bass, Broadrick's bellicose bellow and off-key singing, the inexorable grind of the drum machine, it's all as skullcrushing as anything the band did before Broadrick abruptly ended Godflesh in the depths of an nervous breakdown over a decade ago.
That molten mechanical metal bulldozes across these four songs, powered by the punishing machinelike pummel of the drum machine, but that's also traced by some subtle electronics that are vaguely similar to the sort of textured noise you'd find with Jesu, some murky washed-out melodic drift lingering beneath the surface of the duo's devastating ultra-dirge. Monstrous rhythms lurch across the blown-out dystopian churn of "Dogbite", its deformed funk hammered into a punishing groove splayed over a brutal hip-hop informed breakbeat; and there's an almost tribal energy to the massive bass-driven thud of "Playing With Fire". But its the title track that really sticks out, more complex and faster than what you might expect from these guys, like a a more frenetic, intricate version of their Streetcleaner-era mecha-metal. The band definitely sounds as heavy as ever, the production is crushing. A killer comeback for sure, any skepticism as to whether Godflesh still possessed the consuming fire of their classic output is extinguished as soon as this roars forth from that first track. Can't wait for the album.
Track Samples:
Sample : Playing With Fire
Sample : Dogbite
Sample : Ringer



GODFLESH   Hymns   2 x LP   (The End)    28.99



     Just dug up a couple of copies (less than a five) of this out-of-print orange vinyl 2LP version of the Hymns reissue; it comes with new linter notes from Broadrick, complete lyrics, and a download code for the additional bonus tracks that were featured on the second disc of the double CD version.
     While it definitely wasn't the strongest album for Godflesh to go out on prior to their dissolution in 2002, I've never quite understood why the band's sixth album Hymns has gotten knocked around so much. I've always been a fan of Hymns, and with the new comeback album from these industrial metal legends that just came back, we've been going back and re-visiting some of the band's releases that we've never previously had in stock here at C-Blast. The band's sixth album, 2001's Hymns was also Godflesh's first major label release, as well as their first studio album to feature an actual human drummer, in contrast to the drum machines that powered their previous albums. And what a drummer they enlisted for Hymns, none other than Ted Parsons (Swans, Killing Joke, Prong, Teledubgnosis, Treponem Pal, etc.), whose work on classic records like Holy Money was undoubtedly an influence on Godflesh's formative sound back in the 1980s. And their sound was still pretty consistent here, Hymns continuing to mine that dystopian fusion of gloomy post-punk, industrial pummel, distorted breakbeats and abrasive noise that has defined the band's sound.
     One thing that Hymns has in spades is groove: Tracks like "Paralyzed" and "Deaf, Dumb & Blind" rattle the walls with monstrous breakbeats and grinding, discordant guitars, locking into a kind of bulldozing, noise-stained funk; ultimately, tracks like these feel do somewhat reductive, lacking some of the formidable apocalyptic power of the band's finest moments, but that stuff is still massively heavy and menacing, barbaric hip-hop-flecked beats pumped full of industrial strength steroids, shambling mechanically over the massive churn of the bass. The more impressive moments on the album are found with moodier tracks like "White Flag" and the twang-laced "Anthem", where Godflesh dial back some of the bone-rattling boom-bap for something a little more melodic, foreshadowing the sort of industrialized shoegazer crush that Broadrick would explore at length with his subsequent project Jesu. "Anthem" in particular stands out as one of the album's best songs, with a huge sweetened hook fused to Broadrick's soaring vocals, the song awash in gleaming synthesizers, and it's here that you can really hear him working with some of the nascent ideas that would develop into Jesu's blissed-out sludge. Another example of that is "Regal", a stunning piece of crushing sludgepop that is one of my favorite Godflesh songs, as well as the titanic droning immensity of the prophetically titled "Jesu" (which features a guest appearance from future Jesu member Diarmuid Dalton of Cable Regime on moog and electronics). There's a great "hidden" track at the end as well, a gorgeous piece of gloomy slowcore that, much like some of the later Jesu stuff, comes across sort of like Codeine on steroids, chiming clear guitars and minimal electronics meshed with plaintive piano over the slow, shuffle of Parsons' drumming, those guitars eventually shifting into distorted heaviness as that gorgeous downcast melody evolves and climbs into heartbroken splendor. And another high point on Hymns is the deathdub monstrosity "Antihuman", splattered with sickening synth squelch, filthy wah-pedal noise that seems to be doing some gross mimicry of turntable scratching, and Broadrick's already guttural roar gets pitch-shifted into an even more ogrish bellow, like some putrid mutation of the early Scorn stuff.
     The bonus material features seven demo tracks that had been produced for Hymns, re-mastered and in some cases remixed; this stuff is revelatory, as it suggests a much dirtier, grimier sound that the album might have otherwise had if the label hadn't interfered with the recording process and demanded they use a high-end studio to record their album. The bass on these demo tracks is cranked up to monstrous floor-shaking volume and there's a gritty, blown-out edge on everything, making some of these my favorite versions of the album tracks; songs like "Paralyzed", "For Life" and "Voidhead" certainly all sound meaner and filthier than ever, the latter here transformed into a bone-rattling personal apocalypse. And they cap off the disc with a re-mastered version of "If I Could Only Be What You Want", a killer exercise in murderous malevolent drum n' bass that originally appeared on the Loud Music For Loud People compilation.
Track Samples:
Sample : If I Could Only Be What You Want [*][2012 Remaster][Version]
Sample : Antihuman
Sample : Jesu
Sample : Defeated
Sample : Voidhead



GOLDENTHAL, ELLIOT   Pet Sematary   2 x LP   (Mondo)    44.99



     For many children of the 80's like myself, Mary Lambert's 1989 film adaptation of Stephen King's Pet Sematary was a psyche-wrecking blast of cinematic nihilism that's haunted us ever since. A nasty riff on the classic short story "The Monkey's Paw", Pet Sematary would go down as the bleakest of King's works, and while the film version was far from perfect, it certainly had it's moments of skin-crawling dread and nightmarish horror, as well as moments of utter soul-crushing sadness. All of this was accompanied by an often terrifying score from contemporary classical composer Elliot Goldenthal, which has been reissued by the folks at Mondo in a new twenty-fifth anniversary vinyl edition. And his score is stunning, incorporating many of the experimental techniques that his work had been known for, blending piano and orchestral strings with searing electronic synthesizers and the terrifying sound of the Zarathustra Boys Chorus; the score shifts like a darkening dream from the early. lighter pastoral pieces into sequences of soul-blackening dread as guttural cellos are scraped and strangled beneath sheets of dissonant strings, while stretches of jet-black synthdrone unfurl beneath the childlike schoolyard children's chorals and plaintive, sorrowful piano arrangements. There are parts of Goldenthal's score that, removed from the horrifying visuals of Mary Lambert's adaptation, sound like some terrifying fusion of modern classical and industrial ambient; it gradually builds in intensity as the story makes its way to the pessimistic, disturbing climax, with blasts of industrial-strength percussion and atonal strings injecting harrowing sonic violence into the proceedings, utilizing noise and atonality. Some of this is somewhat reminiscent of Philip Glass's work, but while one can also hear echoes of Hermann, Jack Nitzsche's work on The Exorcist, and Penderecki, but this never sounds derivative. And all of this would be perfectly perfect all in its own, but this reissue plops a big old cherry on top by including the two key Ramones songs from the film at the end of the record, their theme song being one of my all-time favorite Ramones songs.
     A high point in the intersection of modern avant-garde music and horror soundtrack work, and quite enjoyable on it's own as a particularly frightening piece of contemporary orchestral music, especially in this gorgeously re-mastered reissue, which includes a bunch of tracks that were never previously released on vinyl, and all sounds absolutely stunning on 180 gram vinyl. Something of an unsung gem in 80's horror cinematic music. One of my top favorite Mondo horror reissues so far. And the artwork - man, this has one of the coolest Lp designs I've seen out of the recent soundtrack resurgence, Mike Saputo's newly commissioned art is 100% eye-poppingly amazing, utilizing spot varnish printing and geomancy references to create a highly original and creative visual presentation. Please note, however, that several of the copies we received from the distributor have slight creasing on the top right corner.
Track Samples:
Sample : To The Micmac Grounds
Sample : The Return Game
Sample : The Pet Sematary



GORGUTS   From Wisdom To Hate   LP + CD   (Century Media)    23.99



Once again reissued on vinyl, this time by Century Media in a heavyweight LP + CD set, with new liner notes written by Gorguts mastermind Luc Lemay.
Finally back in print! This is the fourth and last album that Gorguts put out before the band went on an indefinite hiatus in 2001 that just let up this past year when the French Canadian metallers reconvened with a new lineup that included members of Dysrhythmia and Behold The Arctopus, and was the follow-up to their career-defining masterpiece Obscura, still one of the most challenging, avant-garde death metal albums of all time. Everyone wondered how Gorguts could follow up the bizarre, ultra-dissonant alien death metal of that album, and in response the band came back with something that was part Obscura, and part old school Gorguts, dialing down some of the over-the-top skronk and atonal riff weirdness while reinstating some of the sound of their technical early 90's albums The Erosion of Sanity and Considered Dead; the result is not as challenging and far-out as the previous album, but it's still a fantastic combination of their avant-garde skronkiness and crushing death metal riffage. The album is full of convoluted time signatures, those trademark discordant guitar sounds, the scrapes and squeals and bizarre chords, and the songs are assembled in strange, complex arrangements that are generally far outside of typical death metal, with angular interlaced riffs often shifting and repeating over and over, like on the mind-warping skronky death metal blastage of opener "Inverted", and the jarring, doom-laden insanity of "Behave Through Mythos". Compared to Obscura, however, the vocals are less extreme, with singer Luc Lemay delivering a deeper, more guttural vocal style than the psychotic wheezing screams that he emitted on the previous record. Also of note is the lengthy "The Quest For Equilibrium", which combines eerie keyboards and gongs for a neo-classical ambience that leads into one of the album's more doom-laden moments. Overall, though, this is a more straightforward and focused album than its predecessor, and an essential disc for Gorguts fans (and anyone into extreme tech/prog death).
Track Samples:
Sample : Elusive Treasures
Sample : Inverted



HADEWYCH   Nu   CASSETTE   (Black Horizons)    7.99



     The first new release from this mysterious Dutch outfit in more than four years, Nu is a fantastic collection of dark and ghostly improvisational ambience and deformed doom-laden jazziness that came out recently on Black Horizons, delivering three tracks of the band's unique brand of near-formless aural darkness. The first track "Hadewych II" unveils a deranged, dreamlike atmosphere with its mix of spoken word vocals, clattering metallic percussion, deep roaring horns and trombones and eerie drones, almost like some oddly industrial-tinged deathjazz, a bass lurching and creeping through the mix, shadowy orchestral drones unfurling in the depths of the mix, the whole thing slowly and deliberately weaving this fantastically dread-filled ambience, like some demented death industrial version of Bohren perhaps, tribal drums surging up out of the blackness as the group slips into a woozy, wasted trance-state in the final moments of the track.
     As the tape continues to unfold, the band employs strange instrumentation, the sounds of wooden percussion, French horn, bullroarer and trombone mingling with eerie field recordings, some of which were apparently recorded in forests in the middle of the night, and gradually introducing spoken narrative over this ritualistic driftscape. I'm generally not a big fan of spoken word stuff when combined with this sort of abstract, experimental soundscapery, but these guys manage to make it work very well, adding to a delirious, off-kilter atmosphere that becomes more disturbing as frantic screams ring out in the distance over the shambling ritualistic dirge of the second track. And those horns and trombones reappear on the b-side "Forest Of Riss", which shifts into something even epic and breathtaking, a sprawling cinematic driftscape that stretches those elegiac horns over vast washes of majestic sound and minimal pounding drums, awash in grainy distortion and flecked with that lone male voice, like some ice-shrouded soundtrack, almost Sigur Ros-like in it's vastness and desolate beauty, but bathed in a distinctly bleak and twilit glow, laced with languid bass and distant echoes of gonglike reverberations. Awesome.
     Beautifully assembled in typical Black Horizon fashion, the tape housed in a die-cut black matte six-panel j-card printed in silver metallic ink on linen stock, and issued in a limited edition of just one hundred copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : Hadewych II
Sample : Nu
Sample : Forest Of Riss



HALL, NATE   Electric Vacuum Roar   CD   (Heart & Crossbone)    11.98



     Killer psychedelic heaviness! U.S. Christmas guitarist / singer Nate Hall follows up a pair of killer solo appearances on Neurot with this new two-song dip into the cosmic whirlpool, raining down a pair of fairly epic-length psych jams that shudder with Hall's trademark low-slung riffery and penchant for star-scorching effects splooge. This really hit the spot when I threw it on earlier in the midst of a rather depressing workday; the first track "Dance Of The Prophet" howls across the first half of the disc, sending some languidly lysergic power-blooze noodling soaring through a fog of delay and flange effects, billowing out across waves of rumbling distorted amplifier drone and distant slo-mo drumming, almost sounding in those first few minutes like some classic Acid Mothers style space-psych being played back at quarter speed.
     Once Hall drifts in with those far-off, incantatory vocals, though, this definitely starts to resemble the sort of Appalachian sludge-psych he's been delivering with his main band for the past decade. It's a different spin on it though, incorporating subtle bits of electronic glitchery and manipulated guitar sounds to craft something a little more spacey and surreal. The whole thing meanders across the disc, both tracks oozing into long stretches of barely formed bleariness and wailing guitar drone, seeping strange shortwave frequencies and drifting into passages of haunting glacial twang, a kind of slow moving and sun-blasted sinister psychedelia beamed in from some rustic black nebulae mapped out by Manly Wade Wellman, rife with moments of startling stark majesty. And on the second song "Long Howling Decline / People Fall Down", Hall cranks up the amps for an even heavier descent into an acid-fried hypno-rock ritual, the frantic howl of Crazy Horse tumbling in reverse up through an ancient mine shaft, before finally breaking apart into a searing blast of solarized feedback and ghostly feedback drone that transforms into a beautiful elegiac passage that climbs upward across the finale of the album, which turns out to be a cover of a song from Idaho psych rockers Caustic Resin, who's Brett Netson (also of Built To Spill) actually appears on this album on additional guitar and bass. If you're into the likes of Hall's main band, the country-fried doom n' twang of recent Neurosis, the glacial rural gothic of latter day Earth, and the blown-out saurian country rock of Across Tundras, then this is one you're definitely going to want to pick up.
Track Samples:
Sample : Dance Of The Prophet
Sample : Long Howling Decline / People Fall Down



HANNUM, TERENCE   Spectral Life   LP   (Shelter Press)    23.00



     As a member of blackened kosmische architects Locrian, Terence Hannum has had a hand in harnessing some of the coolest, darkest synthscapes and blasts of sonic desolation I've listened to in recent years. When he's working solo, though, Hannum's work can take more minimal, amorphous forms. Now sold out from the label, Spectral Life was one of the first solo releases to appear from Terence Hannum, a member of Chicago-based kosmische crush ensemble Locrian. With sleeve art that draws from his visual art that is largely obsessed with strange abstract visions of hair, this Lp is a stunning abyssic zone-out, the core sounds are for the most part the same as Locrian's, drawing heavily from vintage space music, dark synthesizer-based soundscapes and carefully crafted blats of jet-black drone, and fans of that band's work will find much of he same dark, amorphous grandeur here. But Hannum does give this Lp a slight twist, the first side "Invocation Of Deities" rumbling forth on a billowing, faintly luminescent fog of murky percussive reverberations and distant metallic clank. It's got this fantastic malevolent vibe from the start, those swirling gusts of metallic rumble and rattle buried beneath a heavy blackness, and as it unfolds across its thirteen minute duration, Hannum unleashes a pulsating electronic drone that drills through the muted ambience, leading the side through some interesting shifts into looping cosmic chorales and darkly gorgeous synthdrift, evolving from a minimalist horror-movie score into something more unearthly, slipping downward in a beautiful multi-part finale that at one point resembles classic Tangerine Dream as heard through a wall of black soil, muffled and ghostly.
     When the other track "Total Dissolution" suddenly crashes in on the b-side, it's as a jarring din of crashing cymbals, abrasive metallic noise that seems to be looped round and round, circling swells of ominous droning drift. It's still quite eerie though, settling into an odd, almost ritualistic feel as the sounds continue to loop and circle each other, and creepy EVP-like voices surge out of the background, building to this swarming hive of clattery chaos that eventually blossoms into another powerful synth-drone. The second half of the side is gorgeous, transformed into a gleaming, noctilucent wash of midnight psychedelia, seraphic voices stretched wide over waves of distorted guitar and clustered keyboards.
     Issued in a limited edition of four hundred copies.


HELEL   The French Industrial Cursed Tape [Unreleased demos from 2006 to 2008]   CASSETTE   (Necrocosm)    7.99



     Made up of members of Temple of Baal and Arvakh, the French industrial black metal outfit Helel has been kicking out some hideous mechanized evil since 2009, though with only one album out on Debemur Morti to date. With this new cassette-only release out on French label Necrocosm, we get the demo recordings that led up to that album, though it appears that all of the material on this tape is exclusive to this release. If you're a fan of French black metal, these guys hit upon a familiar sound, employing evil dissonances and an arrogant, misanthropic vibe, with tough, martial percussion trading off against vicious mechanized blastbeats.
     But as Helel cranks up their blackened warmachine, some interesting nuances start to reveal themselves; as first song "Une Nouvelle Garde" is unleashed, the band demonstrates their sickening power by fusing swarming, dissonant guitars and icy tremolo riffs with smears of cold electronic drone and that furious jackhammer drumming, with a nasty discordant edge becoming more apparent as the song unfolds. On the surface it's carved out of similar stuff as classic necro-mech outfits like Aborym and Mysticum, but Helel give it their own touch by injecting a hefty amount of sideways riffing and extreme atonality that at times recalls fellow Frenchmen Deathspell Omega, while at others offering something much more wretched and cacophonic. They'll also slip out of that pummeling industrial black metal into a weird slow dirge that'll start off like a dopesick Minstry, but then heaves forward into a crushing bulldozer groove, or grind through a vicious Voivodian riff as the drums lock into another one of their stuttering percussive spasms. The album is laced with weird musical samples and loops, bursts of imaginative studio fuckery, bits of creepy piano music, deranged circus organs and orchestral string sections looming put of the violent chaos, glitched-out electronic noise giving way to monstrous tectonic drones, screaming guitar-hero solos soaring over the blackened rumble, and moments where the music will suddenly drop into an intense blast of speaker-rattling churn that sounds more like some ultra low-fi noise rock outfit. Helel's frontman does his part, with a fucked-up performance that sounds like he's totally plastered, his voice shifting from a demented, drooling croak into a legion of sputtering, mewling shrieks, and that unhinged delivery can make parts of this demo sound pretty goddamn insane. Literally insane. There's a woozy, inebriated feel to this stuff, an unhealthy, reprobate quality reminiscent of label mates Diapsiquir. For the most part, Cursed doesn't go too far afield of the classic industrial black metal aesthetic and delivers much of what you expect from this sort of stuff, but the band's depraved vibe and experimental tendencies drag this into harsher, stranger territory.
     Limited to two hundred copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : Dans la Chambre 101...
Sample : ÿþMalgnose Deux Zéro
Sample : La Foi est l'Ennemie Du Vide



HIMIKO   Victims Of Greed   CDR   (D-Trash)    11.98



     Easily one of the nastiest and heaviest artists to come out on the Canadian speedcore/digital hardcore label D-Trash, Edmonton-based deathtronic artist Himiko is back with her fourth album of bizarro death metal-infested breakcore, and as with the previous disc we've carried from these maniacs, it's utter madness. Talk about an odd stylistic arc - her early releases were nothing like this, more J-pop/electronica, or modern jazz, but somewhere along the line this Japanese expat got enamored with the sonic brutality of modern death metal. Not a whole lot has changed stylistically from the previous disc aside from the move away from the almost Bloody Fist-style speedcore of before into a more drum n' bass / modern breakcore assault, though the intermingling of sampled chunks of sludgy death metal and bestial breakcore is a little more schizophrenic this time around. The twelve tracks throwing any sort of typical song structure to the fetid winds as they careen drunkenly from raw drum n' bass eruptions possessed with stuttering, distorted screams, the sorts of pig-screams you get from slam death bands, and guttural beast-belch vocals into that massive, bone-grinding death metal heaviness rolling bulldozer-like across spastic drum programming and pulverizing slo-mo drumming amid blasts of ferocious double bass, and there['s also plenty of Himiko's staccato yelping that always reminded me a little of Melt Banana's Yasuko.
     This stuff isn't nearly as insane and complex as, say, Whourkr, but Himiko and her horde of death metal troglodytes still thoroughly deliver a violent kick to the solar plexus with this hodgepodge of violent electronic dance music and putrid deathsludge that's pretty enjoyable if you've got a taste for these kinds of extreme metal/electronic music smashups. Tracks like "B-29 Raids", "Thalidomide" and "Victims Of Sociopaths" are splattered across the sound-field in short ninety second bursts; the whole crazy mess is over in just under twenty minutes, but by the end of it you're pretty obliterated by lots of fucked-up glitchery, pounding junglist rhythms scorched in distortion, and a couple of parts where this turns into some killer industrialized slam-death. Pretty goddamn bonkers, this definitely gets my adrenaline going.
     Comes as a professionally manufactured CDR with full-color disc art, in digipack packaging with cover art that looks like something off of a Unique Leader release.
Track Samples:
Sample : Superbug
Sample : Itai Itai Byoh
Sample : B-29 Raids



HURUSOMA   Sombre Iconoclasm   CD   (Zero Dimensional)    11.99



A killer piece of cult Japanese black metal terror, finally reissued, with new and improved album art and a bonus Burzum cover ("War"). Here's my old review of this awesomely weird disc:
Here's a one-man Japanese black metal outfit that is at least as fucked up and strange and otherworldly sounding as it's Western peers. And where Western black metal uses imagery and themes from Biblical mythology and Satanism, Hurusoma's black metal is enveloped in the floating twilight world of Japanese folklore, it's charred razorwire riffs and flourishes of traditional Japanese folk music invoking visions of Oni demons and ancient monks, unseen forest witches and ghosts. To me, this music is even darker and creepier and more ancient sounding than any Western black metal. Consisting solely of a bald, corpse-painted, intensely creepy looking guy named "Woods" who performs all of the vocals, guitar, and bass on these recordings, and accompanied by session drummer Darkness Profanation from the band Deathlike Silence, Hurusoma is a seriously low-fi, ultra raw black metal assault that takes the most wretched and primitive Darkthrone-meets-Sabbat style blackthrash, adds seriously deranged, weird vocals, and cloaks it in ear-shredding white noise and the sounds of haunted Japanese woodlands. Sombre Iconoclasm is a new CD that collects the strangely titled Welcome To Hurusoma World cassette/LP album from 1998, plus six additional demo and live tracks, with all new artwork.
The disc opens with "Intro", an eerie recording of nocturnal forest sounds, tolling bells, falling trees, and some kind of creepy hooting off in the distance; this sets the nightmarish woodland tone of the album, which then erupts into the blackened buzzsaw thrash and lopsided doom waltzes that makes up most of the songs here. The songs are composed of Woods' ultra-distorted echo-chamber shrieks howling over awesome, ripping riffs and speedy, sloppy thrash tempos, monochromatic and droning, encrusted in buzz and filth and moss, the chaotic drumming buried deep in the mix, the frenzied cymbal crashes loud and hissing. Ultra grim and blown out and thrashing. Like I mentioned, one of the elements of Hurusoma's sound that makes it sound especially twisted are the vocals: in addition to Woods reverb-soaked howls, he'll also break into a sort of bizarre monk-like muttering, a low indiscernible chanting over the razor riffing, or else weird cackling noises that add a whole 'nother level of creep to the deal. There's also frequent use of what sound like traditional Japanese drums and flute, sometimes as the intro to a song, but just as often appearing in the middle of the track over the noisy blasting fuzz. And on the song "Open My Black Grave", he even breaks into some straight-up psychedelic guitar action that sounds like something off of one of the old Tokyo Flashback compilations. Weird and mesmerizing, this disc is an awesome blast of deformed, amazing low-fi Japanese black metal primitivism that reeks of open graves, primeval forests, and unseen rites.
Track Samples:
Sample : Thunderbolt
Sample : Shade Of Soul
Sample : Open My Black Grave
Sample : Grudge - From The Black Forest -



ICECROSS   self-titled   LP   (Vintage / Rockadrome)    26.00



    Finally have this killer early 70's Icelandic band's sole album back in stock, newly reissued on vinyl by Rockadrome sub-label Vintage for the album's fortieth anniversary, with new liner notes and vintage press clippings/band photos and an 11" by 17" poster.
    One thing I don't come across often is creepy, heavy Icelandic psych-rock, so I was instantly curious about the band Icecross when I first heard about them a couple of years ago on some message board conversation about early 70s proto-metal bands. It took forever to finally track their music down as it's gone in and out of print over the years, being released on a number of different labels as well as being bootlegged a couple of times. Eventually I came to what appears to be the most recent version of the self-titled album from this obscure band, a rare Italian (I think?) import of the only record that the sinister Icelandic psych-rockers Icecross ever released during their short career. Several of the songs on Icecross have a definite proto-metal feel, and fans of Captain Beyond, Dust, early Pentagram and Sabbath would probably dig Icecross, but these guys were more of a rollicking psychedelic rock outfit with progressive touches. A really dark one though, much darker than most bands I've heard from this era; the songs are laced with creepy Middle Eastern flavored solos and ominous lurching riffs, and the singer occasionally puts these weird demonic distortion and effects on his voice. The weird occult-themed lyrics and wailing possessed vocals really kick in on the bizarre nightmare psych of "1999", but even the more pastoral, folky songs like "A Sad Mans Story" are seriously dark and gloomy, the moody singing drifting over softly strummed guitars and tinkling piano beneath low, black clouds. The blasphemous psychedelic prog rock of "Jesus Freaks" is probably where Icecross gets most of their notoriety from, with it's evil sounding vibe and the heavy, quasi-Sabbathian crunch; hard to believe that these guys were producing something that heavy and dark this early in the decade. There's a couple of exceptions to all of the doom n' gloom, like the good-time boogie rock of "Wandering Around", but for the most part Icecross's music is at least partially cloaked in shadow, their loose, shambling psychedelia revealing a cloven hoof more than once throughout the album. Who should really be checking Icecross out are fans of all of those newer occult rock revivalists like Witchcraft, Graveyard, and Devil's Blood along with hardcore fans of vintage macabre psych/prog like Coven, Black Widow, and Jacula / Antonius Rex...
Track Samples:
Sample : 1999
Sample : Jesus Freaks
Sample : Nightmare



ICECROSS   self-titled   CD   (Vintage / Rockadrome)    15.99



This killer slab of Icelandic proto-doom is also now back in print on CD via specialty reissue imprint Vintage/Rockadrome, remastered and presented with a twelve page booklet filled with new liner notes, press clippings, and rare photos.
One thing I don't come across often is creepy, heavy Icelandic psych-rock, so I was instantly curious about the band Icecross when I first heard about them a couple of years ago on some message board conversation about early 70s proto-metal bands. It took forever to finally track their music down as it's gone in and out of print over the years, being released on a number of different labels as well as being bootlegged a couple of times. Eventually I came to what appears to be the most recent version of the self-titled album from this obscure band, a rare Italian (I think?) import of the only record that the sinister Icelandic psych-rockers Icecross ever released during their short career. Several of the songs on Icecross have a definite proto-metal feel, and fans of Captain Beyond, Dust, early Pentagram and Sabbath would probably dig Icecross, but these guys were more of a rollicking psychedelic rock outfit with progressive touches. A really dark one though, much darker than most bands I've heard from this era; the songs are laced with creepy Middle Eastern flavored solos and ominous lurching riffs, and the singer occasionally puts these weird demonic distortion and effects on his voice. The weird occult-themed lyrics and wailing possessed vocals really kick in on the bizarre nightmare psych of "1999", but even the more pastoral, folky songs like "A Sad Mans Story" are seriously dark and gloomy, the moody singing drifting over softly strummed guitars and tinkling piano beneath low, black clouds. The blasphemous psychedelic prog rock of "Jesus Freaks" is probably where Icecross gets most of their notoriety from, with it's evil sounding vibe and the heavy, quasi-Sabbathian crunch; hard to believe that these guys were producing something that heavy and dark this early in the decade. There's a couple of exceptions to all of the doom n' gloom, like the good-time boogie rock of "Wandering Around", but for the most part Icecross's music is at least partially cloaked in shadow, their loose, shambling psychedelia revealing a cloven hoof more than once throughout the album. Who should really be checking Icecross out are fans of all of those newer occult rock revivalists like Witchcraft, Graveyard, and Devil's Blood along with hardcore fans of vintage macabre psych/prog like Coven, Black Widow, and Jacula / Antonius Rex...
Track Samples:
Sample : 1999
Sample : Jesus Freaks
Sample : Nightmare



IDRE   self-titled   CD   (Dust House)    11.98












Track Samples:
Sample : Witch Trial
Sample : Factorie



IGORRR   Hallelujah   2 x LP + CD   (Ad Noiseam)    25.99



Now in stock on vinyl, which also includes a CD copy of the album.
Hallelujah is the latest album from former Whourkr member Igorrr, who continues to explore the kind of hyper-surrealistic, hyper-violent breakcore experiments that he had previous pursued with that band's unique mash-up of spastic splattercore, insanely fractured hyper-speed rhythms, and blasts of crushing abstract death metal. While Igorrr hasn't left those extreme metal elements behind, his sound does keep heading into ever more fantastic realms where chopped-up, mutated passages of classical music and opera are fused to the skittery, insectile rhythms, ultra-heavy chunks of death/grind riffage, and gleaming evil ambience. It still reminds me of a cross between a classical-music obsessed version of Shitmat's super-complex breakcore, Mr. Bungle's genre-hopping madness, any random Norwegian black metal outfit and Obscura-era Gorguts splattered together into an insane, violently glitched-out sound, the album shifting between massive lurching deathcore breakdowns draped in spastic rhythmic seizures and bizarre blasts of baroque French harpsichord music that appears out of nowhere, ultra-complex glitchscapes that erupt into weird robotic black metal, random noises like vacuums and dogs barking, sequences of blasting free-jazz saxophone and loungy porno soundtracks, waves of deformed Noism-esque glitchgrind, Christian hymns blending with over-the-top operatic wailing, sinister blackened tremolo riffs giving way to puerile fart noises and virtuosic folk melodies, video game noises and powerful female vocals, monstrous discordant death metal melting into bits of classical guitar, insanely heavy distorted dub-step slamming into swirling cyclical string arrangements that sound like a Phillip Glass piece being tossed into a maelstrom of ultra-tech glitch/grind/breakcore, all assembled into perfectly-placed rhythmic elements, everything laid out coherently despite the seeming chaos of Hallelujah's baroque blackened breackcore. The schizophrenic vocal attack reminds me of Patton's work in Mr. Bungle, an obvious influence on this sort of genre-splattering extremism. It's like some spastic, cyborg version of a Carl Stalling score, blasting breathlessly out of a crazy-quilt of fractured, futuristic electro-heaviness. Total genius.
Track Samples:
Sample : Tout Petit Moineau
Sample : Scarlatti 2.0
Sample : Lullaby for a Fat Jellyfish
Sample : Infinite Loop
Sample : Absolute Psalm



IGORRR + RUBY MY DEAR   Maigre   CD   (Ad Noiseam)    14.98



     Available on both vinyl and gatefold Cd.
     The latest from French breakcore genius Gautier Serre, aka Igorrr (a former member of avant grind / breakcore lunatics Whourkr), Maigre sees this maniac collaborating with another French breakcore artist, Julien Chastagnol, who records under the name Ruby My Dear. Chastagnol's music itself tends to be a mashup of various musical forms with his frenetic breakcore as the connective tissue, so this team-up makes perfect sense. The five tracks featured on this new EP are certainly comparable to previous Igorrr works, maybe a little less schizophrenic as it allows some of the traditional French musettes and chamber music arrangements to develop for a little longer than they might when Igorrr is on his own, and spitting his stuff in out supersonic blasts of ADD-fueled chaos. Maigre still zips by at a hundred miles per hour though, a constantly evolving blastscape cobbled from mournful piano melodies and those lovely accordions, eerie lullabies that suddenly give way to ultra-violent digitized deathgrind, lush chamber strings and icy music box melodies, massive gut-churning bass drops, washes of doleful guitar twang and reverb, operatic female vocals, blasts of excoriating noise, and hauntingly pretty sequences that seem to drift in from some lost Morricone giallo score.
     It's all threaded together with rapid-fire editing, a knack for crafting some genuinely affecting dark melodies, and their often brutalist drum n' bass rhythms and the bone-rattling distorted wubwubwub of dubstep that skitters and scatters and spasms beneath all this disorienting sonic absurdity. It's some of the best stuff of it's kind since Shitmat and Venetian Snares, but shot up with bursts of violent death-metallic guitars and flesh-flaying blastbeats, and like everything else that Igorrr has put out, extremely recommended if you're into the more aggressive, abrasive side of breakcore. Some great additional shading appears thanks to guest vocals from Laure Le Prunenec and other members of Öxxö Xööx and Corpo-Mente, as well as orchestral contributions from electro-grinders Bologna Violenta, and some added crushing riffage and soaring guitar shred provided by Nicolas Sénac of fellow French freakazoids Pryapisme on the last track "Biquette". Méchants!
Track Samples:
Sample : Cuisse
Sample : Biquette
Sample : Barbecue



IGORRR + RUBY MY DEAR   Maigre   LP   (Ad Noiseam)    15.99



     Available on both vinyl and gatefold Cd.
     The latest from French breakcore genius Gautier Serre, aka Igorrr (a former member of avant grind / breakcore lunatics Whourkr), Maigre sees this maniac collaborating with another French breakcore artist, Julien Chastagnol, who records under the name Ruby My Dear. Chastagnol's music itself tends to be a mashup of various musical forms with his frenetic breakcore as the connective tissue, so this team-up makes perfect sense. The five tracks featured on this new EP are certainly comparable to previous Igorrr works, maybe a little less schizophrenic as it allows some of the traditional French musettes and chamber music arrangements to develop for a little longer than they might when Igorrr is on his own, and spitting his stuff in out supersonic blasts of ADD-fueled chaos. Maigre still zips by at a hundred miles per hour though, a constantly evolving blastscape cobbled from mournful piano melodies and those lovely accordions, eerie lullabies that suddenly give way to ultra-violent digitized deathgrind, lush chamber strings and icy music box melodies, massive gut-churning bass drops, washes of doleful guitar twang and reverb, operatic female vocals, blasts of excoriating noise, and hauntingly pretty sequences that seem to drift in from some lost Morricone giallo score.
     It's all threaded together with rapid-fire editing, a knack for crafting some genuinely affecting dark melodies, and their often brutalist drum n' bass rhythms and the bone-rattling distorted wubwubwub of dubstep that skitters and scatters and spasms beneath all this disorienting sonic absurdity. It's some of the best stuff of it's kind since Shitmat and Venetian Snares, but shot up with bursts of violent death-metallic guitars and flesh-flaying blastbeats, and like everything else that Igorrr has put out, extremely recommended if you're into the more aggressive, abrasive side of breakcore. Some great additional shading appears thanks to guest vocals from Laure Le Prunenec and other members of Öxxö Xööx and Corpo-Mente, as well as orchestral contributions from electro-grinders Bologna Violenta, and some added crushing riffage and soaring guitar shred provided by Nicolas Sénac of fellow French freakazoids Pryapisme on the last track "Biquette". Méchants!
Track Samples:
Sample : Cuisse
Sample : Biquette
Sample : Barbecue



ILL OMEN   Divinity Through Un-creation   LP   (Analog Worship)    15.98



     Started to work my way back through the output of Australian black metallers Ill Omen (a one man band from sole member IV, who has also worked with other notable Aussie black metal outfits like Nazxul, Temple Nightshade and Pestilential Shadows), which led to the band's first proper album, 2011's Divinity Through Un-Creation . First released on Aussie imprint Adverse Order and here reissued on vinyl via the Stateside label Analog Worship, Divinity delivers nine aggressive tracks of swirling, reverb-rich black metal with a murky production style and dissonant guitar sound that manages to position this somewhere in between the depraved gloom emitted from the Australian "depressive" black metal crowd, and the churning discordance and cavernous atmosphere that comes from certain sectors of that country's death metal underground. The result is effectively chilling, marrying repetitious, straightforward blackened churn with some really striking atonal melodies delivered through slow, sweeping tremolo riffs, which writhe and worm their way through the hiss-soaked gloom permeating such tracks as opener "Utterance Befell The Curse". Classic Scandinavian black metal fuels Ill Omen's sound here, but it's slightly twisted just so, stretched out into those hypnotically droning tremolo riffs and then slowed to crawling, doom-laden dirges, weaving in these simple but totally stunning harmonies.
     There's almost a perverseness to the way that Ill Omen employs some extremely catchy songwriting to create these sprawling odes to rot and misanthropy and abject despair, layers of morose melody buried in the roiling murk of each of these songs, interlaced in interesting and creative ways that definitely give this a unique touch feel. The few times when the music truly erupts into a violent vortex of dissonant heaviness, there's a vaguely Portal-esque vibe, but those moments are brief and fleeting; there are also parts of this that trail out into gorgeous driftscapes of distant female vocals and hazy black drift, as if the raging black metal suddenly dissolves into a dimly lit blissout of muffled blackened sound, almost like hearing an old Dead Can Dance record being sucked into a black hole. Fuckin' epic stuff for the band's first proper release, though it's still only a hint of the powerful black depths that this project would eventually lead into...


IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT   Abyssal Gods   CD   (Code666)    15.98



     A killer (and highly anticipated) new album from these New York black/death chasm-crawlers that include members of Epistasis, Pyrrhon, Secret Chiefs 3 and John Zorn's Simulacrum trio, following up that recent reissue of early EP material Shrine To The Trident Throne that I raved about a little while back. The fusion of crazed discordant black metal and avant-garde death metal dissonance that these guys flaunted on that collection definitely got my attention, but this stuff might be even crazier, aided by additional guest musicians like Bloody Panda's Yoshiko Ohara. When the album kicks into the spastic black vortex of "From Palaces Of The Hive", the band immediately unleashes their fractured, cracked violence at full force, the splintered, discordant riffs raging over the complex percussive battery, whipping themselves into a fury of atonal blackened chaos that suddenly and joltingly drops into an awesome stretch of mutant jazziness; it's another one of their forays into the sort of modern avant/classical influenced dementia that they delivered on their previous release, but here it sounds even more evil and unholy. That's only amplified once this leads into the title track, a lurching off-kilter math-metal horror awash in fearsome choral voices and layered black drift - the goddamn song is just barely over two minutes, but it's one of the most powerful pieces of music I've heard from this band so far.
     And from there Abyssal Gods continues to writhe and contort, moving from the slippery, serpentine nightmare of "Dead Heaven" that sort of resembles a Gorguts song becoming slowly unspooled, complex blackened blast-violence splintering into weird staccato rhythms and off-kilter stop/start tempos, the riffs shifting and mutating constantly while remaining almost constantly crushing. There's some chilling use of manipulated symphonic music and operatic voices that are warped into plumes of hellish ambient sound, and the vocals have a great, monstrous presence, deep, cavernous roars that seems to billow out of the depths of the earth. This also gets into some pretty serious shred-gasms, with the guitarwork on "Opposing Holiness" getting well into Mick Barr/Colin Marston-like levels of octopoidal fretboard insanity. As unhinged as this music is, the musicianship is top notch, and the band navigates these atmospheric labyrinths deftly. Inhabiting that weird realm between Obscura-era Gorguts and the mathier direction that more recent Deathspell Omega has gone in, Imperial Triumphant balance their sonic assault against the passages of otherworldly orchestral music that are laced throughout the album, ghostly soundscapes collaged from sounds reminiscent of Schoenberg and Penderecki, which ends with an entirely instrumental arrangement for piano and violin, closing the album with an eerie mix of dark jazziness and queasy dissonance. Challenging, often difficult music, but it shimmers with a uniquely nightmarish power; they pretty much sum it up with the title of their song "Black Psychedelia". Fantastically surreal album art, too.
Track Samples:
Sample : Opposing Holiness
Sample : Metropolis
Sample : Abyssal Gods



IMPETUOUS RITUAL   Unholy Congregation of Hypocritical Ambivalence   2 x LP   (Profound Lore)    34.99



    One of 2014's best and most sonically oppressive death metal albums is finally out on vinyl, in gatefold packaging from Profound Lore. Let the murk commence!
    Another killer album of outré death metal from Down Under. Sharing some of the same personnel as Portal and Grave Upheaval, Impetuous Ritual ply an intensely oppressive brand of death metal that was first introduced on their 2009 album Relentless Execution Of Ceremonial Excrescence. Like the other bands in the Brisbane underground, the approach is primal, deformed, and pitch-black, the music formed from waves of putrescent, near indecipherable riffs, unconventional song structures and a churning, subterranean low-end heaviness. Their brand of barbaric death metal might not be quite as abstract as Portal or as noisy and oppressive as Grave Upheaval, but these guys definitely seethe with a similar sonic sickness and hallucinatory vibe that sounds more twisted than ever on their latest album Unholy Congregation of Hypocritical Ambivalence.
    As soon as that first song "Verboten Genesis" pours forth in a volcanic blast of blacknoise guitar chaos, and the monstrous exhalations and pounding war-drums begin to race with ever ascending levels of frantic energy through the band's almost totally inchoate deathstorm, you're left crippled by the sheer barbarism of Impetuous Ritual's sonic attack. Comparisons to the chaotic, angular death metal of Portal are to be expected, but Unholy Congregation offers a swarming horror that is distinctly its own, the sound soaked in a fetid fog of low-end noise that casts an unholy hallucinatory glow across these nine tracks, but also possessed by some intensely eerie melodies that the guitarists strategically place amid their more unformed blasting violence. The guitar solos are insane squalls of tortured squealing shred; the listener will suddenly be able to clutch at a monstrous riff, a massive sludge-splattered hook that will suddenly loom out of the maelstrom, but these moments are surrounded by expanses of sheer chromatic chaos. On tracks like "Despair", the band abruptly shifts out of that blasting black chaos-storm into an expanse of dank, doom-laden atmosphere as everything slips into a slow seething churn, earthquake double bass rumbling beneath the black static swarm of the guitars, the crushing riffage smeared into a droning, dreadful ambience, then shifting into a truly haunting tremolo-picked riff that rises above the amorphous, tectonic roar. The vocals are largely a guttural hiss, suffused into the chaos, but there are some moments of hysteric savagery that sear the deathscape, like the crazed falsetto scream that rips through "Inservitude of Asynchronous Duality". Strange auditory hallucinations form at the edges, like the ritual tolling of bells on "Metastasis" that synchronize with the blast of stentorian riffage, and the surges of sepulchral reverb and streaks of alien ambience that appear in the chasms left as one track collapses into the next, until we're left with the sprawling fifteen minute closer "Blight", a near instrumental epic save for some wordless, chant-like moans and bizarre wailing that drifts lugubriously through the abyss, the music shifting down into a swarming slow-motion crawl that gradually dissolves into a final blast of formless blackened noise at the end. For death metal fans who dug the oppressive nature of Grave Upheaval's suffocating sound but who wished that there was more in the way of tangible riffs, this album's going to be exactly what you're looking for.
Track Samples:
Sample : Verboten Genesis
Sample : Inservitude of Asynchronous Duality
Sample : Blight



JESU   Conqueror   2 x LP   (Hydra Head)    29.99



Now remastered and available on limited edition vinyl.
It's been a long year, laying in wait for Conqueror to finally appear. Yeah, we had the Silver EP come out in March of 2006 as a stop-gap between full lengths, and that was an awesome offering from Justin Broadrick and company that included 'Stars', the uptempo shoegazer anthem that hinted at even even poppier side of Jesu. But a mere half hour of new Jesu just isn't enough, you know? It's impossible for me not to gush when it comes to this band, as Jesu sits without question in my top 5 favorite bands ever, a band that finally fulfilled the dream I had had for over a decade of hearing someone marry the blissed strains of early 90's dreampop to the heaviest possible Metal crunch. When I first heard the streaming samples off of the Heartache EP from 2004, it blew my mind, alternating crushing Godflesh rhythms with blissed out melody. And when the self-titled full length on Hydra Head appeared in 2005, I immediately fell in love with that album's dense layers of melodic noise, lumbering slo-mo beats, and pure metallic massiveness. So Conqueror is finally here, and it's as crushingly heavy as I would have hoped, despite all of the naysayers online that have called the album ""too soft"", or ""too pop"". And it is very ""pop"", impossibly catchy and melodic as a matter of fact, with a bit more variety in that department than with the first full length.
Conqueror picks up where Silver left off, and while there aren't any songs that are as fast as 'Stars', Jesu definitely steps further into the realm of pure British shoegazer rock, and on songs like 'Medicine' and 'Mother Earth' sounding more like an ironclad Ride than the MBV / Codeine-trapped-in-sludge of the self-titled album. These eight songs chug along at a brutal pace over the albums hour long running time, the pulverizing downtuned guitar riffs dipped in sugar and bulldozing through shimmering crystalline keyboard melodies and woozy layers of electronic texture, deep layers that reveal unheard nuances and sounds every time I spin this, Broadrick's soft and patient croon almost devoid of the echo overload that was applied to his vocals on previous releases as he delivers his aching, wistful, yet surprisingly hopeful lyrics. That his singing is so much more unaffected and naked here is indicative of how stripped down and concise this album is, the heaviness transmuted but still utterly flattening, a bittersweet glacial pop metal masterpiece oozing from torn amplifier speakers and sparking laptops.


KNELT ROTE   Insignificance   CD   (Nuclear War Now! Productions)    10.98



    Back in stock on both CD and LP. An incredibly violent album of experimental black/death metal, Knelt Rote's 2010 album Insignificance captured this Portland, Oregon band (which at this time was made up of various members of Sissy Spacek, L'Acephale, Deep Jew and the harsh noise project Oscillating Innards) right in the midst of their evolution from the early, primitive mix of grindcore and harsh electronic noise that made up their debut album From Without into the more focused and hyper-violent blackened grind that the band is known for now. It was definitely a marked shift in intensity and extremity, not like their debut was easy listening or anything; suddenly their sound had taken on a more blackened, bestial ferocity while still retaining that undercurrent of filthy, ear-fucking electronic noise.
     And that's exactly how Insignificance begins, kicking things off with a pounding industrial noisescape that stretches across the beginning of the album, setting up the churning, oppressive atmosphere that then gives way to the bestial black blast of "Immeasurable". When the band unleashes their violent metal, it's like a swarm of gnashing, gore-clotted teeth; the vocals are a monstrous, guttural roar, more animalistic than the screeching vocal assault of their first album, and the three long songs that make up Insignificance all erupt into seething, spiraling cyclone of murderous blackened riffs and hypnotically repetitious blastbeats, this noisy wargrind assault shot through with chunks of charred blackened drone or desolate ambient drift, and also often slipping into a savage D-beat assault in the middle of that tornadic blasting. It's just so goddamn violent, exuding a cacophonic energy that reminds me of a more hardcore punk-influenced take on Conqueror's bestial death metal. And the noise elements are sued for more than just abrasive song intros; they create these dense electro-acoustic soundscapes and rumbling walls of distorted sound that are woven in and around the band's blackgrind carnage, aural wastelands of tortured metal and rumbling junk stretched into fields of stark, textured abrasion, and at times that stuff isn't too far removed from the more abstract noise experiments that Knelt Rote drummer Charlie Mumma was also exploring with his noisecore band Sissy Spacek. Those noisescapes are all in service to the album's nihilistic atmosphere, and most of all when the whole thing culminates with the nearly fifteen minute bestial blastscape "Constituent Of Oblivion", where the band violently mutates from their barbaric blackened death metal into crushing, Vomir-esque walls of suffocating static and into vast black oceans of minimal dark ambient drift.
Track Samples:
Sample : Immeasurable
Sample : Constituent Of Oblivion



KNELT ROTE   Insignificance   LP   (Parasitic)    14.99



    Back in stock on both CD and LP. An incredibly violent album of experimental black/death metal, Knelt Rote's 2010 album Insignificance captured this Portland, Oregon band (which at this time was made up of various members of Sissy Spacek, L'Acephale, Deep Jew and the harsh noise project Oscillating Innards) right in the midst of their evolution from the early, primitive mix of grindcore and harsh electronic noise that made up their debut album From Without into the more focused and hyper-violent blackened grind that the band is known for now. It was definitely a marked shift in intensity and extremity, not like their debut was easy listening or anything; suddenly their sound had taken on a more blackened, bestial ferocity while still retaining that undercurrent of filthy, ear-fucking electronic noise.
     And that's exactly how Insignificance begins, kicking things off with a pounding industrial noisescape that stretches across the beginning of the album, setting up the churning, oppressive atmosphere that then gives way to the bestial black blast of "Immeasurable". When the band unleashes their violent metal, it's like a swarm of gnashing, gore-clotted teeth; the vocals are a monstrous, guttural roar, more animalistic than the screeching vocal assault of their first album, and the three long songs that make up Insignificance all erupt into seething, spiraling cyclone of murderous blackened riffs and hypnotically repetitious blastbeats, this noisy wargrind assault shot through with chunks of charred blackened drone or desolate ambient drift, and also often slipping into a savage D-beat assault in the middle of that tornadic blasting. It's just so goddamn violent, exuding a cacophonic energy that reminds me of a more hardcore punk-influenced take on Conqueror's bestial death metal. And the noise elements are sued for more than just abrasive song intros; they create these dense electro-acoustic soundscapes and rumbling walls of distorted sound that are woven in and around the band's blackgrind carnage, aural wastelands of tortured metal and rumbling junk stretched into fields of stark, textured abrasion, and at times that stuff isn't too far removed from the more abstract noise experiments that Knelt Rote drummer Charlie Mumma was also exploring with his noisecore band Sissy Spacek. Those noisescapes are all in service to the album's nihilistic atmosphere, and most of all when the whole thing culminates with the nearly fifteen minute bestial blastscape "Constituent Of Oblivion", where the band violently mutates from their barbaric blackened death metal into crushing, Vomir-esque walls of suffocating static and into vast black oceans of minimal dark ambient drift.
Track Samples:
Sample : Immeasurable
Sample : Constituent Of Oblivion



KOMMANDANT   Stormlegion   CASSETTE   (Infernal Kommando)    7.99



     New in stock, both on LP/CD via Higher Power and on cassette from French label Infernal Kommando.
     At least on a visual level, Chicago black metallers Kommandant are one of the more imposing black metal bands in the US underground. Clad in black uniforms, combat boots and gas masks, the band's garb makes them look like a quasi-totalitarian military unit, and their performances take on their air of a political rally as frontman Marcus Matthew Kolar looms high over a podium situated at center stage, flanked on each side by drum corps-style snare drummers. It's a combination of dark theatre and fetishistic military aesthetic that ties in with Kommandant's vision of an Orwellian nightmare, and it knocked my socks off when I saw them live at the 2013 Maryland Deathfest. And when the band ripped into their first song of the set, it was utterly ferocious, a lightning-fast blast of crushing blackened riffs, militaristic rhythms and bizarre vocals that made 'em one of my favorite acts of the festival. It certainly lived up to my expectations after seeing them described in the festival program as a cross between Boyd Rice's NON and the warped black metal of Mayhem. I've been working on getting their entire catalog ever since, though it's taken awhile as even though the band is based out of Chicago (and includes former members of Cianide, Nachtmystium and Usurper), almost all of their releases have come out on smaller European labels.
     The first Kommandant release I was able to track down for the shop so far is the recent reissue of their Stormlegion debut, and it's a killer blasting black metal assault with a slight industrial edge, with violent precision riffage and a powerful militaristic cadence that they slip into the album's more violent blast-attacks. This early stuff from the band is a little rougher than their recent output (which I hope to have in stock soon), but it's thoroughly vicious. Book-ended by a pair of short instrumental tracks of eerie faraway guitar and martial drumming, Stormlegion proceeds to unleash a thirteen song assault of ferocious, militant black metal, forged from hypnotic, razor-sharp riffing, reptilian shrieks, swarms of blackened buzzsaw drone, dissonant dark guitar melodies, and that killer, almost martial approach to the drumming, which alternates with faster, more frenzied tempos and eruptions of D-beat driven violence. The lyrics mirror that mock-fascist aesthetic, extolling the merits and majesty of violent warfare, but in a way that's a bit different from the sort of stuff you'd see on a Revenge or Conqueror lyric sheet. That subtle industrial vibe is really understated here, mainly heard in the martial rhythms and the harsh edge to some of the guitars, but there's a couple spots where it's reminiscent of less bonkers stuff found on Mayhem's Grand Declaration of War. These guys would further refine this sound with subsequent releases, but Stormlegion remains a ferocious first strike from this Chicago deathquad.
Track Samples:
Sample : Shiltron (Intro)
Sample : Seige Engine
Sample : Ravenous Conquest



KOOZAR   Koozar / Bangi Vanz Abdul   CD   (Zero Dimensional)    11.98



    Some seriously noisy and blackened distorto-hell here. This is the debut recording from a new project from obscure Japanese black metaller Kozima (also a member of similarly speaker-shredding outfit Gorugoth) who I've been getting more into lately, after discovering his back catalog on the Japanese label Zero Dimensional. Koozar / Bangi Vanz Abdul blasts out a wicked, fuzz-encrusted assault of ultra-raw black metal offset by slabs of abstract droneological ambience and experimental noise; it's essentially a split album between Kozima and Tokyo-based occultist Bangi Vanz Abdul, who creates the interstitial noisescapes, interjections of rumbling, Broken Flag-style industrial abrasion influenced by tenets of chaos-magic.
    The disc kicks off with the softly swelling dronescape "Kaotaoatoak", shimmering and shuddering like a bleary heat mirage, the blurred murky tones hovering like distorted, layered organ drones over a vast subterranean rumble, with gong-like metallic scrapes and reverberations sounding above it all. That ghostlike haze opens the album with an air of mystery, but when it suddenly mutates into brutally garbled noise art the end, it's utterly violent, warping into the blown-out blackened hate of "Zznz Kz Chaos". Oddly, all seven of the songs on the disc are titled either "Kaotaoatoak" or "Zznz Kz Chaos", the titles used merely to distinguish between the black metal and noise tracks. When Koozar belts out his filthy, ultra-noisy brand of black metal, it's satisfyingly savage stuff, a rickety, fast-paced assault of simple, wasp-swarm riffs drenched in trebly hiss and driven by tinny, frenzied drumming. There's plenty of powerful riffs and punishing punk-style hooks under all of that fuzz, and Koozar's vocals are little more than a snarl of white noise. Some of this stuff is almost regal, though, reminiscent of classic Darkthrone at times, but more cavernous and crackling with filthy static, like the epic twelve minute black metal closing track that combines haunting melodies with an almost industrial-tinged black metal freak-out.
    Those alternating noise tracks offer an interesting contrast to Kozima's noisy black metal, ranging from strange soundscapes created from layers of heavily distorted, backwards-running guitar, bursts of gargling electronic vomit, rumbling Ramleh-esque industrial dronescapes, and some very cool murk-draped pieces that sound like amplified field recordings captured in the bowels of some ancient, derelict crypt, and collaged with cracked electronic tones and overmodulated breathing. Some of this stuff is almost reminiscent of some of the more experimental Black Legions projects. All quite fucked up and ugly, of course, a vicious assault of filthy Japanese evil.
Track Samples:
Sample : Zznz Kz Chaos III
Sample : Zznz Kz Chaos II
Sample : Kaotaoatoak IV
Sample : Kaotaoatoak I



LEE, THANIEL ION   Selections from the Dark Sketchbook 2012-2014   ART BOOK - SLIM   (Black Horizons)    6.00



    Hadn't really heard of this guy before picking up his Selections from the Dark Sketchbook 2012-2014 art zine from those shadow-crawlers over at Black Horizons, but all they had to do was describe this guy's stuff as "Blinko-esque" and I'm sold. This slim, half-sized twenty-four page chapbook style publication delivers a bunch of black and white illustrative work from Lee, who apparently also spends his time working with other forms of multi-media artwork and recording ambient drone music under his own name and black metal/noise chaos as Blood Escutcheon. It's very cool stuff, definitely reminiscent of Nick Blinko's obsessively detailed black ink drawings, but also inhabits that weird realm that exists in the cracks between perverted Mike Diana-esque scum-doodles, crude horror comics art, the decadent visions of Aubrey Beardsley, and demented death metal demo-cover scribbling that I'm continuously obsessed with. Fans of morbid, surrealistic art should check this out: the twenty-four different works collected here offer an array of fanged third-eye mutations, intense phantasmagoric scenes, crude demonic visages, occult symbolism, botanical drawings of bizarre Lovecraftian forms, cadaverous seraphim, and other snarling horrors seemingly dredged up out of a dissociative psychedelic state. Like the other art zines we've picked up recently from Black Horizons, this comes in a cardstock cover with black vellum end papers, and is housed in an opaque black mylar bag, limited to just seventy-five copies.


LEGION OF ANDROMEDA   Iron Scorn   LP   (Unholy Anarchy)    19.99



     Utterly addictive, atom-crushing bestial heaviness. When it comes to slavering, war-mongering heaviosity and flesh-destroying death metal barbarism, let me tell you that nothing I've heard this year has fucked me up as much as the debut album from Legion Of Andromeda. Diabolical in its minimalist approach, the new album from Tokyo-based duo Legion Of Andromeda wormed its way deep into my brain upon first hearing it (thanks to a recommendation from fellow Maryland label Unholy Anarchy), unleashing a grinding nightmare of violent, industrial doomdeath rooted in a barbaric simplicity, moving in endlessly cyclical percussive patterns. It makes perfect sense that the band enlisted none other than Steve Albini to record this album, as the monolithic percussive pummel of Big Black is an admitted influence on Legion's sound. Iron Scorn was first released on vinyl by the aforementioned Unholy Anarchy, with At War With False Noise handling the European release, but I got so goddamn hooked on this thing that we're doing a CD release through Crucial Blast to further the blast radius of this immense debut.
     Iron Scorn has a strange effect upon certain listeners, myself included. As opener "Transuranic Ejaculation" bellows across the beginning of Scorn, the band's combination of primitive bone-crushing riffage and minimal, mechanical tempo might seem overly simplistic, even monotonous. Each song centers around little more than a pair of interchanging riffs that circle endlessly over an unfluctuating mid-paced drumbeat that rarely deviates from a simple combination of metronomic crash cymbal and rumbling double bass. Keep listening, though, and Legion Of Andromeda's atavistic heaviness starts to reveal a perversely hypnotic quality, the brutal repetition and savage cyclical flow of these seven tracks turning into surprisingly infectious blasts of concussive doomdeath. The riffs shift between droning heaviosity and abrasive dissonance, without ever diminishing the sheer skull-flattening density; sure, the pummeling violence of tracks like "Transuranic Ejaculation" and "Fist Of Hammurabi" is undeniably monotonous, but that monotony is both deliberate and crucial to the band's sadistic, sickening assault, each song sculpted into an interlocking flesh-rending horror of gnashing steel teeth and machine-driven hypnosis and rabid violence. Next thing you know, you're hooked. You can't stop listening to it. An endless mecha-death trance that burrows like some slavering cyborg worm through your brain. And it's topped off with repulsively bestial vocals that frequently devolve into psychotic gibberish or rabid snarling vocalizations, as if you're hearing the singer devolve, Altered States-style, right before your eyes. Those fucked-up vocals definitely bring an added unhinged vibe to this rigid, skull-flattened dronedeath assault.
     Legion Of Andromeda have hacked out a uniquely vicious sound, and shares as much disgusting DNA with the clanking ugliness of early Swans and the grinding industrial metal of bands like Dead World, Skin Chamber and Streetcleaner-era Godflesh as it does with the putrescent doom/death of Autopsy, Cianide and Asphyx, brilliantly fusing the devastating down-tuned chug of the latter to the repetitive, belt-driven clangor of the former. Each monstrous track churns through the black cosmos like a mechanical warbeast comprised of gnashing teeth and interlocking gears, terrifying and trance-inducing, with equal nods to the most depraved strains of industrial metal and the most primitive depths of black/death violence. And oh god, I can't stop listening to it.
     The vinyl version comes in a heavyweight casewrapped gatefold with printed innersleeve and is limited to five hundred copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : Cosmo Hammer
Sample : Transuranic Ejaculation
Sample : Fist Of Hammurabi
Sample : Scourge Of Pestilence



LILES, ANDREW   Wanton Wives, Monstrous Maidens And Wicked Witches   LP   (Blackest Rainbow)    27.99



     One of the latest in Andrew Liles' extensive ongoing Monster series, Wanton Wives, Monstrous Maidens And Wicked Witches is another whacked-out conglomeration of experimental horror synth, murderous nocturnal jazz, and abstract dread-filled weirdness from surrealistic soundscaper and Nurse With Wound member Liles, who is accompanied by a spoken-word read of an original horror story that takes up the entire b-side of the album, backed by Quentin Rollet's creepy avant jazz score. Like much of the other stuff in this series, it's another weird faux-horror "soundtrack", released back to back with the similarly minded Maleficent Monster album that plunges into a bizarre sonic netherworld of alternate-dimension library music records, mutated Caedmon LPs and demonic exotica.
     The album wanders through a delirium of midnight movie soundtrack detritus. A woman's voice whispers in French amid swells of ominous gong-like shimmer and eerie, atonal folkiness, cellos and other strings winding around a broken harp melody that grows ever more disturbing as it progresses. Seek Carpenterian synthesizers glide over minimal percussive propulsion, like some obscure theme from a long-lost slasher from 1982. Tiki torches flicker at the edges of delirious black magic rituals taking place in the heart of some sweltering jungle, creating a kind of cannibal kitsch as tribal drums combine with monstrous chants, orgasmic cries and stock Amazonian animal noises, like something out of a cough-syrup fueled Deodato / Lenzi gut-munch hallucination. Experimental loopscapes are drenched in gothic organ, spinning into an almost Goblin-esque vibe that tumbles through the blackness. Spectral xylophones drift through haunted passageways and down cobwebbed stairwells, before everything erupts in a bizarre blast of frenetic, flute-streaked jazz-funk surrounded by the nightmarish squealing of a wild pig. Shrieking electronic hellscapes blast like malevolent transmissions out of the center of a black hole. Pieces of oddball noir jazziness meet blasts of nerve-shredding orchestral terror akin to a meth'd-riddled Bernard Herrmann score. It's an impressively loopy trip, playing out like some crazed, hyper-obscure record of library music from the late 70s/early 80s, but then the second side features that piece of spoken-word fiction for "La Sensation D'Engourdissement", where Isabelle Magnon reads a French translation of a short story from Liles, an eerie, understated piece of medical horror backed by Rollet's ghostly sax and washes of dark electronic ambience. Perfect for midnight turntable sessions.
     Once again, this gets another killer Graham Humphreys cover, and it also includes the original English-language text of Liles' story printed on the back of the jacket; the vinyl itself is pressed on candy-crazed, one hundred eighty gram splatter wax, and issued in a limited run of three hundred fifty copies.


LITHOTOME   self-titled   CD   (Fall Of Nature)    11.99



    Finally have this killer avant death grotesquerie in stock on CD from Australian label Fall Of Nature. These guys have frequently been compared to Portal, but their brand of violently contorted death metal is a lot uglier and more vicious than you might expect. Made up of several veteran members of the Philly black/death scene (singer Neil Jameson is best known for his bands Krieg, Twilight and Hidden, Alex Poole plays in Chaos Moon and Esoterica as well as Krieg, and Dan Martin hails from Vrolok and Vomit Orchestra), Lithotome produce a putrid chaos that seems to draw equally from the fumes of early 90s Finnish death metal and the atonal Gorgutsian horrors of certain strains of contemporary death metal a la Portal, making for a uniquely fetid stew of crushing doom-laden death and churning angularity whose hideousness becomes enhanced by a skillfully applied coating of cracked electronic noise.
    The psychotic atmosphere on the band's debut is established as soon as the opening track unfolds, a churning nebular mass of murky electronics and demonic utterances that swell up over the first few minutes of the album, before blasting into the vortex of the "Comavoid". The discordant violence produced by the swarming guitars is where we hear many of those echoes of both Obscura-era Gorguts and the hallucinatory dissonance of Portal, but when Lithotome suddenly lurch out of their swirling blackened pandemonium into one of the many rampaging thrash parts that litter the album, they distinguish themselves from a lot of the Portal-esque death metal you've probably heard, dousing this and the following tracks in noisy savagery. Jameson's monstrous gasping vocals are smeared across that thrashing atonal death metal, while the drumming lurches and stutters, slipping into furiously off-kilter rhythms blasting beneath the bleary droning riffs. Things slow things down to a deformed doom-laden crawl on tracks like "Indulge The Flesh Of The Earth", veering between that grotesque murky blast and a heaving slow-motion plod before it drops off again into another one of their imposing riffs, and the album is filled with these abrupt descents into crushing, discordant, doom-laden heaviness. There's some odd, almost Slintlike math-rock elements that surfaces on a couple of the tracks, and bizarre passages of free-jazz-like percussive chaos arise alongside liturgical voices and swirling synthesizer drift suddenly emerging out of one of these crawling discordant dirges. Sprawls of cosmic muck and distant Catholic chants bubble to the surface amid their crawling, mathy sludge, punctuated with squalls of garbled electronic noise. In the end though, what I really like about Lithotome's debut is how rooted it is in classic murky death metal, with a host of ravenous riffs that keep this from disappearing into total abstraction, with aspects that occasionally remind me of the spacey, off-kilter death metal of Timeghoul or Demilich. Another new favorite from the weirder fringes of American death metal.
Track Samples:
Sample : Indulge The Flesh Of The Earth
Sample : Comavoid
Sample : ÿþA Halo´s Swarm Of Locusts



LOST TRIBE   Solace   LP   (Mass Media)    21.00



     New in stock. The resurgence of interest in classic death rock and goth punk that's come about in the past five years or so doesn't seem to be waning, with some really great stuff in this style coming out in just the past year on labels like Mass Media. I couldn't be more pleased, seeing as how this sort of death rock and doom-laden post-punk is some of my favorite music, and one of the better bands coming out of this gloomy zeitgeist is the Richmond, VA band Lost Tribe. I loved the self titled debut that these guys put out a few years back, which combined classic peace punk influences and a hard-edged, almost hardcore level of aggressive energy with their dour hooks and driving death rock-influenced punk; that older stuff was seriously catchy, with memorable songs that recalled the best of the old guard, bands like TSOL, Samhain, Christian Death and early Killing Joke. Lost Tribe managed to reinvigorate that sound and make it sound contemporary, and not just another exercise in nostalgia. Along with Deathcharge, these guys were playing some of the best macabre deathpunk going right now.
     They've finally followed up that impressive debut with their second album Solace, and while some of the harder elements of their previous work have been stripped back a little, it's still more of the catchy, moody gloom-punk that these guys do best. Simple, driving riffs and tribal rhythms propel these songs into anthemic territory, the singer howling through wind tunnel reverb, guitars slashing violently through the rocking, moody hooks that litter this record. Their use of synthesizers feels a bit more prominent this time around, with more atmospheric backing pipe organ sounds and lots of cool, spacey Moog-like trippiness soaring over the bass-driven songs and adding to Lost Tribe's apocalyptic mood. This new stuff can get downright psychedelic at times, like with the untitled instrumental at the end of the first side that unleashes a furious blast of sky-scorching space rock smeared in saxophone, sounding like a creepier, angrier Hawkwind. Awesome. That picks up with a killer gothic organ dirge on the second side, and from there they rip right back into their driving dark post-punk. It's great stuff, still evocative of those aforementioned death rock/goth punk outfits, and you can also hear echoes of New Model Army in the driving tempos of "Conquer", while the guitars get some added metallic bite on tracks like "Rise Or Fall", once again giving this sound a slightly more aggressive edge. It's another solid album of contempo death punk from one of the best bands currently working within this style, who bring a slight experimental touch to their music that stands out among the rest of the dark punk hordes. Comes on colored vinyl, and includes a digital download.
Track Samples:
Sample : Conqueror
Sample : Century
Sample : Disease



MASSHIV SEX TRAUMA / ASS DEEP TONGUED   24 Ways To Seduce A Woman   CDR   (La Distrophie)    11.98



     Absolutely putrid French goreporn nonsense. Released by the same label that recently put out that new album from glitch-grind brutalist Mulk, this split album features a ridiculous mash-up of guttural goregrind slop, noisy weirdness and mutated hip-hop that reaches a new low in scatological absurdity. It pairs up two bizarre French outfits whose common thread is a love of vile pornogrind and rampant weirdness, MassHIV Sex Trauma and puerile perverts Ass Deep Tongued, both bands offering their own gross version of bowel-blasting ridiculousness. It's puerile and repulsive and probably wildly offensive to anyone with an ounce of good taste, and I've found myself listening to this disc more than is probably healthy.
     The first half of the disc features the tenderly named MassHIV Sex Trauma, and these septic freaks set a dangerous precedent with their absurd blend of horrorcore/gore-hop retardation and utterly repulsive goregrind. Somehow this manages to reach a new low in scatological disgust, which if you've ever seen my record collection is really saying something. Opening with a bizarre spoken word intro (in French, natch), the band erupts into a gooey, fractured delirium of fucked-up hip hop and guttural toilet-bowl vocals, combining their menacing French flow with blasts of staccato death metal guitar and glitchy electronics. It's seriously demented, crushingly heavy at times, and pretty goddamn hilarious; if you check out the crudely animated videos these guys have up on Youtube, it comes off as very "Dethklockish", if you catch my drift. It's definitely played for laughs, the visuals and the delivery is so perverse and vile and completely over the top, the monstrous rhymes winding around insane porn sequences and goofy samples, but the way that they weave those sputtering goregrind riffs and the mega-distorted bass around the skittering, choppy breakbeats is pretty brilliant, and at times approaches the sort of metal/breakcore mayhem you get from artists like Whourkr and Bong-Ra. Although this stuff is quite a bit heavier and more sonically fucked-up, it's right up there with the repulsive likes of Butchers Harem, Bushpig and Nekrorgasm.
     And this goes from gross to grosser when the absurdly named Ass Deep Tongued appear, following their pals in MxSxTx with fifteen tracks of their own bizarro goregrind. Granted, their first song "Le Premier Soir" is pure techno-pop, all auto tuned singing and dancefloor beats, but from there on it's all gut-spluttering goregrind, Carcass-inspired grindslop splattered across weird polka beats, the vocals reduced to a gurgling septic rumble that resembles some weird insectlike creature. Totally batshit gross-out grind insanity that fans of the sort of weirdo goregrind that Last House On The Right used to put out are going to love, right up to the very last track where they puke up a bizarro chiptune number that somehow manages to sound just as menacing and sickening as anything else on their half of the disc.
     If there's a "Metal Night" at Le Rectum, I'm pretty sure this in on their playlist. Comes in digipack packaging.
Track Samples:
Sample : ÿþMASSHIV SEX TRAUMA - Pré-jaculation Infantile
Sample : ÿþASS DEEP TONGUED - Tiens Volia Des Spermatozoïdes
Sample : ASS DEEP TONGUED - 8-Bites Mental
Sample : MASSHIV SEX TRAUMA - Ma Sale Grosse Pute d'Ex (Au Fait t'As Surprise Dans Ton Vagin)



MELT BANANA   Return of 13 Hedgehogs (MxBx Singles 2000-2009)   CD   (A-Zap)    13.98



     Back in stock. As great as their albums are, some of the best stuff that Melt Banana has done can be found on the myriad of EPs and splits that these Tokyo blastpop legends have released over the years. Which is what makes collections like this so essential for fans, especially if, like me, you're not prone to tracking down every goddamn 7" that Melt Banana shows up on. The latest such collection is Return of 13 Hedgehogs (MxBx Singles 2000-2009), another massive collection of singles and EP releases from the last decade, fifty-six tracks in all, and some of this ranks as their best music. Like the last Hedgehogs anthology, this is a colossal collection, and features all of their stuff from the split 8" With cult screamo outfit Three Studies For A Crucifixion, the tracks from the split 7"s with Dynamite Anna And The Bone Machine, Daemien Frost, The Locust, ska group Big D And The Kids Table, grinders Narcosis, and Young Widows; their side of the split 5" with Fantomas; the 666, Ai No Uta and Initial T. EPs; the split 10" with German noise punks Chung; and the material from the split CD with Boston weirdos Fatday. It comprises some of my own personal favorite stuff from Melt Banana, and captures them at the point where they had streamlined the often ultra-abrasive racket of their earlier, more No Wave-influenced material and had really perfected the use of electronics and guitar effects, producing a spectacularly spastic, super-catchy sound.
     There's so much great stuff in here, from the oddball Yoko Ono-esque avant-gardism of "Who did it? Who dig it?" that erupts into the piercing sugarshock hardcore of "Dog In Lost", the onslaught of hyperspeed punk spasms careening from violent three-chord hardcore eruptions splattered with weird electronic FX, scratching sounds and crazed glitchery, to near grindcore-style assaults, or rocketing into a kind of PCP-fueled pop-punk played at insanely fast (yet totally controlled) tempos. Of course, the band gets experimental on a lot of these EPs as well, with weird soundscapes made up of abstract vocal noises and looped rhythms, swirling sounds forming into a kind of industrialized psychedelia, excursions into eerie a capella singing, some stuff that sounds like collaged sound FX records giving way to minimal glitch and fractured electronics, or slipping into passages of bizarro dub or chaos-storms of skipping CD noises or atonal piano improv. No matter how abstract Melt Banana's music gets though, it's always all woven so perfectly into their far-out electro-shock hardcore.
     And then there are the cover songs that make up some of the highlights of this collection, nutzoid renditions of what seems like unlikely material that Melt Banana transform into their own image; there's a cover of "Monkey Man" from Toots And The Maytals that's a total adrenalized blast, that classic reggae song perfectly subsumed into Melt Banana's hyperactive hardcore sound, reinterpreted as an awesomely exuberant and energizing blastpop anthem; The Damned's "Love Song" sticks fairly close to the feel of the original but gets sped up a thousand times over, sprayed with a swarm of searing electronic noise; and Devo's "Uncontrollable Urge" gets mutated into a killer No Wave-infected blast of thrashpop brilliance. Nobody can quite cover another band's song like Melt Banana, that's for sure. A terrific collection that all fans of the band will want to grab, Return comes in digipack packaging and includes complete liner notes detailing the source of all of these tracks.
Track Samples:
Sample : Steel Me Lust
Sample : Love Song
Sample : Jack and a Red Dog
Sample : Grave in the Hole (Pitfall Fits a Bit)



MHONOS   Humiliati   2 x LP   (Dead Seed Productions)    24.99



    Now available as a double LP on white vinyl, in gatefold packaging with gold foil stamping, apparently re-recorded for this edition. Everything I had to say about the CD and tape version still holds true, though:
    Album number two from this mysterious, black-cloaked collective from France, an ensemble of hooded drone-sculptors who craft monstrous low-frequency psych-dirges through a ritualistic process that has more in common with classic industrial music than the French black metal scene that the band initially emerged from. Each member bears the monastic title of "Frater", each attributed to "low-frequency bass", with other members credited to synthesizers, prayer bowls, bells, "infrasounds", "organum", "ultrasounds" and "incantations"; the entire aesthetic behind Mhonos's music gives it the feel of some arcane underground cult. The music of Humiliati follows in a similar vein as their cassette releases, a kind of experimental extreme doom metal that dispenses with electric guitar, instead heavily relying on the layering of monstrous drones formed from rumbling bass guitar, hypnotic chanting vocals and warbling atonal keyboards to crate their blackened ritualistic dronescapes, the sound infested with crackling electronics and a throbbing, almost motorik pulse that seethes beneath the liturgical black rumble.
    Opening with the thunderous rhythmic pounding of booming kettledrum-like percussion, the band immediately establishes their delirious, ritualistic atmosphere with "Aleveus Terra", as pounding death-rite drums echo through the air, laying down a heavy trance-inducing rhythm that completely dominates the first several minutes of the half-hour long track. After awhile, the band slowly emerges into the mix with distant churning choral moans surfacing around those booming drums, gradually joined by swaying, hypnotic bass riffs and billowing clouds of low-end murkiness. Gregorian-like chanting starts to appear, bringing with them a blackened ecstasy, the sound of eyeless monks lost in endless prayer at the center of a circle of monstrous rhythmic pounding and gnarled, sinister riffage. Later on, loud bursts of distorted doom-laden heaviness briefly appear, and as additional layers of bass guitar are introduced, it starts to turn into a weird sort of blackened trance-rock, a little bit of an Aluk Todolo vibe showing through all of the rumbling black bass. And there is never any feeling of release, only an eternal tension that stretches all the way to the end of the sprawling track, the sound only becoming more complex and layered as it goes on, the band layering more of those warbling murky keyboards churning in the depths. The latter half of the track eventually drops out completely, drifting way out into a long spacious passage of clanking rhythmic heaviness and deep cosmic whoosh, the synthesizers howling and swooping around the ominous, psychedelic space-doom dirge.
    That goes right into the middle track "Ex Nihilo... Ad Nihilum...", where the band picks up the tempo a little bit, pounding out a steady thunderous drumbeat while deep, buzzing voices swirl around in a fog of droning chant and electronic textures, the chanting almost like Tuvan-styler throat singing, maintaining that evil, ritualistic atmosphere as they pound their way through this funereal fog-drenched synthdirge. It's laced with more of those mysterious chiming melodies and the metallic whirr of Tibetan prayer bowls, and the chortling sound of hollowed-out antlers, like some creepy John Carpenter-style electronic synth score merged with the sounds of some pagan blood ritual.
    That leads right into the epic closer "Mortificare", a churning twenty-four minute hypno-sludge workout that weaves crushing angular riffage into huge circular grooves, while a frantic howling voice raves in the distance, the sound building into an ecstasy of down-tuned blackened heaviness and looping rhythms, almost like a heavier, black metal tinged version of old-school hypno-rockers Gore, intense and discordant and seriously hypnotic. The band later drops off into long stretches of their creepy electronic drift and ritual drumming, the kosmische synths swirling in over the increasingly hysteric screams and moans of the singer, the music again becoming a strange soundtracky sort of psychedelia, swirling trance-inducing percussion percolating beneath sprawling fields of electronic whirr and drift, until it finally erupts into even heavier droning doom metal crush at the end, a torturous droning wall of tectonic pummel that rivals the likes of Moss or Monarch...
Track Samples:
Sample : Alveus Terra
Sample : Mortificare



MINAMATA   Niigata   CD   (Zone De Confusion)    11.99



    A seriously punishing blast of mid-80's industrial violence from cult French group Minamata, who took their name from a neurological disease that swept through the population of the Japanese island of Kyushu in the 1960s. With that inspiration in mind, the band delivered a suitably nightmarish cacophony of crude, abrasive noise with this album; first released as a cassette in 1985, this reissue collects the original tape along with additional compilation tracks recorded around the same period, and a nearly twenty minute unreleased track that was recorded in 2002. It's all ferocious stuff - these guys were renowned in noise/industrial circles for their fearsome live performances, and it comes across forcefully here. Each track is a rumbling, monstrous conglomeration of brutal metallic percussion and crushing distorted rhythms that splutter and spurt out of what sounds like a atrociously distorted and malfunctioning drum machine, as crazed vocals swoop and echo over the thunderous racket, sometimes suddenly screaming to the fore with a horrific intensity that's pretty extreme by mid-80s standards. Those screams and roars are violent enough to rival any old death metal outfit, actually, and they're met with blasts of heavily delayed synth noise and machine-noise loops. Pretty intense, and there's a monstrous psychedelic quality to it, but Minamata also exercise total control over these pummeling industrial noisescapes, capable of bringing their raging blasts of noise to a sudden and powerful halt, only to suddenly veer into something like the creepy, claustrophobic deathwave and icy female shrieks of "Es Ist Schwer Zu Leben", or the twisted, martial feel and fractured atonality of "Niigata Fetal Case".
    There's a sense of dread and dawning horror that permeates these older recordings, and it's a genuinely unnerving listening experience, especially at higher volume. Chaotic and menacing, lumbering through crazed, irrevocably cracked industrial dirges and mangled proto-power electronics assaults, only stripping away that onslaught of noise at the very end, with the final track on the album "Nacht Und Nächte" disintegrating into total psychosis, broken metal clanking against frantic screams as extreme dub-style effects assist in sucking everything into a wormhole. I suspect that if I was to dose myself on acid and feed myself feet-first into an industrial steam press right when the peak hits, the experience might be comparable to the "carnage vision" of Minamata's assault.
    Previously unreleased bonus track "Niigata 2002" is a marked departure from that earlier industrial chaos, though. Swells of heavily distorted synthesizer crash over furious vocals, both shrieked and spoken, while mournful organ-like sounds climb out of the toxic muck, a eulogy drifting over the charred, blasted waste. Here, the group transforms into a kind of grim kosmische nightmare that spreads out across the final eighteen minutes of the disc, churning with waves of heavily modulated drone, dissonant gothic organ and saturated digital distortion, and shot through with bursts of maniacal power electronics-style vocals and martial percussion.
Track Samples:
Sample : Niigata 1965
Sample : Niigata 2002
Sample : Niigata Fetal Case



MULK   Testo(y)sterie   CD   (La Distrophie)    12.98



     Latest album of synapse-shredding hyper-violence from French blast-fiend Mulk, who continues to deliver a bizarre and abrasive blend of technical death metal and breakcore that's somewhat aligned with the likes of Whourkr, a band that Mulk actually performed with for a period of time. In contrast to Whourkr's vicious, spastic blast-collage approach to extreme breakcore aesthetic, Mulk is a much a more barbaric beast, often more resembling some bizarre, glitch-infested deathgrind monstrosity. I've been listening to this maniac since the awesome 2009 album Putrilogie, and his stuff was always significantly more noisy and spastic, often foregoing breakcore style rhythms for an insanely fast mix of digigrind blastbeats and chopped-up drum programming that sounded like Shitmat or Venetian Snares being shot through a noisecore cuisinart.
     The long-awaited follow up to that album finally surfaced last year, and amazingly the sixteen songs on Testo(y)sterie manage to be even more skull-shredding, most of the tracks averaging at around two minutes in length but packing in a mind-melting array of serrated death metal riffs, lightspeed beats, swarming electronic glitchery and guttural, nauseating belch vocals, all sliced and diced and splattered at a thousand miles per hour across the album. This is extreme stuff. There seems to be more of a pronounced speedcore / splittercore influence on this new Mulk material, but he can still get down on tracks like "Membres", slinging sickening breaks through the cyclone of hyperspeed techdeath chaos. There's a couple of guest appearances from members of Cuban deathgrinders Suffering Tool and some other pals, but what really stood out is the track "Vis De Merde" that features legendary French madman / performance artist Jean Louis Costes on vocals, mewling and gibbering over one of the album's more drawn out songs. That, my friends, is some wild shit. Some of the other tracks incorporate bits of what sounds like cinematic orchestral music, or slip into passages of foul abattoir ambience, but mostly Testo(y)sterie zips by in a maggot-infested blur of putrid supersonic breakcore, before closing with the shadow-drenched dubstep of "Manifest Biomecanique", a weirdly Scorn-esque piece integrated with a girl's whispered voice, leaving you with a distinct feeling of lingering unease as this fuckin' thing slams to a close. Sporting one of the most vile album covers of the week, this stuff comes across as equal parts Planet Mu and disgorged deathvomit, a total brain-scrambler of an album, and totally recommended if you're into the likes of Whourkr, Noism, and Agoraphobic Nosebleed's remix material. Just stock up on the aspirin. Comes in digipack packaging.
Track Samples:
Sample : Vis De Merde
Sample : Molusk
Sample : Manifest Biomecanique
Sample : Candydady



MYSTICUM   In The Streams Of Inferno   LP   (Peaceville)    29.99



    Available again on vinyl with poster, in embossed gatefold packaging.
    A classic industrial black metal album that has been out of print for years, Mysticum's The Streams Of Inferno was one of the very first albums to combine the mechanical coldness of industrial music with blazing Norwegian black metal. Although their debut full-lengther might not be as complex and crazed as Dødheimsgard's 666 International or the experiments with fusing black metal and spastic breakcore that would emerge a few years later, this is still a crushing blast of Satan-worshipping, drug guzzling, narco-worshipping heaviness that has actually aged a bit more gracefully than some of the more techno-influenced BM experiments that followed in their wake. Originally slated to be released on Deathlike Silence, eventually found its way to the American label Full Moon Productions and came out in 1996, delivered a relatively straightforward strain of crushing black metal that was fused to programmed percussion and ultra heavy mechanical grooves, with a couple of detours into experiments with hardcore techno and drum n' bass.
    The monstrous slow-motion drum machines that crawl across the beginning of "Industries Of Inferno" resemble the earth-rending pistons of infernal machinery, draping the album with a heavy cloak of smog-covered dread from the beginning, but Mysticum's electronically-mutated black metal really kicks in to full gear with "The Rest", where sinister tremolo riffing is welded to jackhammer drum machines and sheets of crackling, corrosive electricity. That drum programming gives this album a really cold, robotic feel, and in some places take on the mechanical percussive precision of heavy artillery fire; the vocals are a withered shriek joined by majestic choral synths, and minimal keyboard melodies and smatterings of vintage horror movie samples were worked in for added atmosphere. A lot of this pounding, hypnotic black metal is infused with a diseased "techno"-like propulsion, but the band can also slow down, such as on the syrupy, almost breakbeat-like swing on tracks like "Kingdom Comes" or the murky oil-drum percussion that becomes lost in the blizzard of evil, droning riffs on "Wintermass".
    There are vast rumbling synths and black pulsating electronics that take over tracks like "Crypt Of Fear", and passages of extreme low-frequency drone and minimal crackling noisescapes that open up several tracks, or take over entirely, as on the eerie "In The Last Of The Ruins We Search For A New Planet" which crawls with bits of discordant piano music and fluttering electronics, gothic organs and eerie black cosmic ambience. That noisiness and murkiness in Mysticum's sound prevents this from ever turning too "symphonic", even when the band reveals waves of warped orchestral sound, whole string sections melting over the machinelike blasting and wavering electronic textures. When it closes with the blown-out, chaotic techno/BM terror of "Black Magic Mushrooms", the album's wildest track, things truly reach a psychotic peak, as trippy Hammond-like organs cuirl around the pounding jackhammer rhythms and spastic snares, the closest that Mysticum ever get to actual techno on this album.
    This 2013 reissue of The Streams Of Inferno also includes a number of bonus tracks, as well as a Dvd that features two full live sets from Mysticum circa 1996, one from Asker, Norway, the other in Bradford, UK while the band was touring Europe with Marduk and Gehenna; both of these concert films were shot on VHS by fans of the band, but both the picture quality and the audio are surprisingly good considering the source material, with the former set in Norway being particularly atmospheric, the band playing by candlelight in some small, darkened underground club. Highly recommended.
Track Samples:
Sample : Wintermass
Sample : Eriaminell
Sample : Crypt of Fear
Sample : Black Magic Mushrooms



NEGURA BUNGET   Tau   CD   (Prophecy Productions)    19.98



     Available on both digipack CD and gatefold vinyl.
     Romanian avant-black metallers Negura Bunget have risen in prominence in recent years, with their previous albums finding continuing critical acclaim and their audience growing after a number of high-profile appearances in the US and on the European festival circuit. The stuff that they've released over the past decade and a half is some of the finest atmospheric black metal that I've heard coming from Europe, but it's been a good five years since we've had a new album from the band. Continuing with the more folk-influenced sound that founding member Negru explored on the previous album Vîrstele pamîntului, their latest Tau follows in a similar vein, but that's fine with me when the result is music that is this majestic.
     Tau sees the band returning with furious, synthdrenched anthems whose dark primal energy flows directly from their country's folkloric traditions and the lush Romanian forestlands that are so beautifully depicted on the album sleeve. As with their previous work, it's a skillfully assembled blast of progressive black metal, heavily draped in ghostly electronics and thick kosmische synths, but centered around the band's often long and winding black metal epics, the music slipping from powerful, doom-laden funerary marches and maudlin dirges buzzing with acoustic folk melodies into ferocious, blasting aggression and washes of spaced-out grandeur. They also continue to display a knack for incorporating strange electronic sounds and instrumentation into their songs that add to the often unearthly feel of their music, with eerie theremin tones buzzing through the sprawling opener "Nametenie", and hunting horns trumpeting across the twilight processional that opens "Curgerea Muntelui", eventually morphing into something jazzy and gorgeous as the songs blackens and slithers towards it's haunting climax. "La Hotarul Cu Cinci Culmi" is a haunting piece of lush, gloomy orchestral folkiness, dark and wondrous with the sounds of dulcimer and the lute-like Romanian cobza mixed in with the rest of the band, and other songs boast huge, sinister riffs, the album getting quite heavy with the likes of "Tarîm Vîlhovnicesc" with its furious blasting and contorted riffing that trades off against those soaring vocal harmonies. Some additional scathing vocals are contributed by Sakis of Rotting Christ / Thou Art Lord for some of the more violent black metal songs, and there are killer psychedelic Hammond organ sounds and bouts of energetic hand drumming and rustic percussion, which can often help sweep these songs into a kind of complex and epic blackened prog. That rustic vibe is especially apparent with the frenzied hoedown that kicks off "Împodobeala Timpului", which begins with what sounds like a traditional Transylvanian folk dance furiously played over rumbling metallic drumming, before the song veers into speedy, blackened metal that features Aura Noir's Rune Eriksen unleashing a searing guitar solo. It's proggy and folky and heavy as hell all at the same time, and the way that Negura Bunget blend all of these sounds and instruments together can be somewhat reminiscent of both Sigh and Enslaved, but this has a much more somber, solemn tone, more rooted in the traditional folk forms that the band draws from. Great stuff, and an impressive return from these Romanian black metallers.
Track Samples:
Sample : Picur Viu Foc
Sample : La Hotaru Cu Cinci Culmi
Sample : Curgerea Muntelui



NEGURA BUNGET   Tau   LP   (Prophecy Productions)    29.99



     Available on both digipack CD and gatefold vinyl.
     Romanian avant-black metallers Negura Bunget have risen in prominence in recent years, with their previous albums finding continuing critical acclaim and their audience growing after a number of high-profile appearances in the US and on the European festival circuit. The stuff that they've released over the past decade and a half is some of the finest atmospheric black metal that I've heard coming from Europe, but it's been a good five years since we've had a new album from the band. Continuing with the more folk-influenced sound that founding member Negru explored on the previous album Vîrstele pamîntului, their latest Tau follows in a similar vein, but that's fine with me when the result is music that is this majestic.
     Tau sees the band returning with furious, synthdrenched anthems whose dark primal energy flows directly from their country's folkloric traditions and the lush Romanian forestlands that are so beautifully depicted on the album sleeve. As with their previous work, it's a skillfully assembled blast of progressive black metal, heavily draped in ghostly electronics and thick kosmische synths, but centered around the band's often long and winding black metal epics, the music slipping from powerful, doom-laden funerary marches and maudlin dirges buzzing with acoustic folk melodies into ferocious, blasting aggression and washes of spaced-out grandeur. They also continue to display a knack for incorporating strange electronic sounds and instrumentation into their songs that add to the often unearthly feel of their music, with eerie theremin tones buzzing through the sprawling opener "Nametenie", and hunting horns trumpeting across the twilight processional that opens "Curgerea Muntelui", eventually morphing into something jazzy and gorgeous as the songs blackens and slithers towards it's haunting climax. "La Hotarul Cu Cinci Culmi" is a haunting piece of lush, gloomy orchestral folkiness, dark and wondrous with the sounds of dulcimer and the lute-like Romanian cobza mixed in with the rest of the band, and other songs boast huge, sinister riffs, the album getting quite heavy with the likes of "Tarîm Vîlhovnicesc" with its furious blasting and contorted riffing that trades off against those soaring vocal harmonies. Some additional scathing vocals are contributed by Sakis of Rotting Christ / Thou Art Lord for some of the more violent black metal songs, and there are killer psychedelic Hammond organ sounds and bouts of energetic hand drumming and rustic percussion, which can often help sweep these songs into a kind of complex and epic blackened prog. That rustic vibe is especially apparent with the frenzied hoedown that kicks off "Împodobeala Timpului", which begins with what sounds like a traditional Transylvanian folk dance furiously played over rumbling metallic drumming, before the song veers into speedy, blackened metal that features Aura Noir's Rune Eriksen unleashing a searing guitar solo. It's proggy and folky and heavy as hell all at the same time, and the way that Negura Bunget blend all of these sounds and instruments together can be somewhat reminiscent of both Sigh and Enslaved, but this has a much more somber, solemn tone, more rooted in the traditional folk forms that the band draws from. Great stuff, and an impressive return from these Romanian black metallers.
Track Samples:
Sample : Picur Viu Foc
Sample : La Hotaru Cu Cinci Culmi
Sample : Curgerea Muntelui



NEPTUNE TOWERS   Caravans To Empire Algol   LP   (Peaceville)    29.98



    Finally available again on vinyl.
    Want another example of just how closely black metal and experimental electronic music have been aligned since the beginning? Just look to the music of Neptune Towers, the strange all-electronic project that Darkthrone's Fenriz was involved with for a brief time in the 90s; this side-project allowed him to pursue a singularly dark and sinister strain of interstellar ambience that was directly influenced by the young Norwegian's interest in the kosmische music of Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk's seminal krautrock. As with the bizarre mid-90s albums from Beherit and the sympho-ambient excursions from noth Burzum and Emperor's Ihsahn, whenever any of these corpse-painted teens tried to channel the vast, majestic sound of their Teutonic heroes the result would be a fractured, distinctly darker mutation of this sound, and Neptune Towers was definitely one of the strangest. Fenriz only released two albums of this ominous space music with Neptune Towers, 1994's Caravans To Empire Algol and 1995's Transmissions From Empire Algol, both featuring a dramatic electronic sound that combined those classic cosmic synthesizers with simple sequencer robotic rhythms and hypnotic pulsations, otherworldly ambience and eerie melodies, crafted into epic astral soundscapes. Both of the Moonfog albums have been out of print for years until recently, when Peaceville re-issued them with new artwork and liner notes, full-color slipcases, and in the case of the Transmissions re-issue, never-before-released bonus tracks that were originally supposed to appear on the third Neptune Towers album before Fenriz abandoned the project.
   The debut album from Neptune Towers features just two tracks, the first "Caravans To Empire Algol" sprawling out for nearly twenty five minutes as it passes through a number of different passages. It begins with the slow steady hum of cosmic keys rising into the night sky, clustered notes warbling and warping while celestial feedback streaks and dives across the blackness. After a few minutes, Fenriz starts to develop a simple, pulsating rhythm beneath the howling buzzing drones, a hypnotic throb that fades in and out of view while at the same time these huge swells of distorted low-end heaviness begin to emerge, waves of almost Sunn O)))-like rumble hovering in clouds of electronic whoosh and blasts of murky orchestral sound. By this point, you can really hear how Fenriz goes for a more sinister, oppressive take on analogue space music, the black hole ambience and grinding chordal clusters fused to stentorian rhythms and smears of gothic melody. After about ten minutes or so, a wash of crystalline melodic keys flows in over the eerie phased synthesizers and that throbbing bass arpeggio, briefly transforming the music into something brighter and more heavenly, but then fades soon enough as more chaotic synth noises and more sinister melody lines take over, again guiding us into the consuming maw of the black hole, our eyes slowly burnt out by starlight, our ears filled with the whispers of irradiated seraphim. Towards the end, some sort of Middle Eastern-tinged stringed melody takes over, a motif that continues to writhe and undulate for awhile even as the central arpeggio from the beginning reappears amid a stirring, cinematic finale, a vast grinding doom-laden synthdirge that dominates the final minutes of the track, evoking an apocalyptic, Lovecraftian take on classic Tangerine Dream...
    The other piece "The Arrival At Empire Algol" is shorter at just twelve minutes long, and presents a more desolate synthscape in the wake of the title track. Distant clanging chords echo through the cosmic haze while deep rumbling reverberations ripple across the void, and bits of stray electronic noise soar overhead. Darker and more ambient in tone, this does begin to reveal a host of glimmering keys far off in the background as some of the heavier droning elements begin to fall away, glimpses of celestial light breaking through the blackness for a moment before being swallowed up again by the emptiness of space. Finally about halfway through Fenriz drops in another deep hypnotic bass line that creeps through the remainder of the track, a looping ominous figure that anchors the music even as all manner of frenzied electronics and granular hiss and primitive synth effects swoop and trickle and bubble over the grim gothic astral ambience.
    Both of these Neptune Towers albums ranks as some of the best stuff to ever come out of black metal's ongoing dalliance with electronic music in the early 90s, and now that they've been given the posh reissue treatment are ripe for rediscovery for anyone who digs the void-worshipping electronic music and black-hole ambience of their protégés in Moloch, Northaunt, Raven's Bane, Tomhet, Vinterriket and Atomine Elektrine...
Track Samples:
Sample : Caravans To Empire Algol
Sample : The Arrival At Empire Algol



NOCTURNUS   self-titled   CD   (Moribund)    9.98



     This long out-of-print 1993 EP from sci-fi obsessed Floridian death metallers Nocturnus just got reissued on CD by Moribund, who also did the original 7" release. It's a super short EP at right around ten minutes, with only two songs, but I was stoked to finally get my hands on this stuff. Formed by former Morbid Angel drummer Mike Browning in the late 80s, Nocturnus have long been one of my favorite death metal bands from the Sunshine State, with their keyboard-drenched heaviness and oddball high-concept storylines. Though they only put out two albums in the early 90s before being dropped by original label Earache, that early Nocturnus stuff left an impressive legacy, cementing them as one of the most unusual American death metal bands from that era. They broke up not long after being dropped, but right before they did so, they released this eponymous EP featuring the songs "Possess The Priest" and "Mummified". These songs saw Nocturnus trading the science fiction themes and imagery of their previous releases for a descent into ancient Egyptian death rites; while not as crazy or as inventive as their classic synth-drenched, prog-tinged sci-fi death metal epic The Key (which remains the band's most accomplished work), this EP is still a blast, with keyboardist Louis Panzer laying out a cool mix of spaced out Moogy texture and gothic-tinged organ tones behind the group's complex, crushing assault of intricate death-shred, with the guitarists throwing in some evil-sounding Middle Eastern scales over their choppy death metal assault. If you're a newcomer to Nocturnus's cosmic tech-death, you've got to start with The Key, which remains the band's shining moment. Diehard fans though will find this an interesting final diversion from the band, before they went on their decade long hiatus/breakup.
Track Samples:
Sample : Possess the Priest
Sample : Mummified



OBJEKT/URIAN   Tonfragmente II   CD   (Zone De Confusion)    11.98



     Malevolent Teutonic transmissions. Another killer offering from the French industrial reissue label Zone De Confusion, this expanded version of Tonfragmente II from German band Objekt/Urian features the original five tracks from the self-released CDR that came out in 2001, along with an additional five bonus tracks. I knew nothin' about this German outfit prior to picking this up, but Zone De Confusion hasn't let me down yet. Wasn't disappointed in the least, as this album spews out a great mixture of Coil-esque post-industrial creepiness, sweeping waves of black kosmische synthcrush, and the hypnotic rumble of ancient engines, some of my favorite sounds all wrapped around primitive hypnotic drum machine rhythms and whorls of jet-black drone. Exactly the sort of stuff I like to listen to while falling asleep and/or inhaling carbon monoxide.
     Using hand-made electronic instruments and obsolete analogue technology, these guys create some great ominous driftscapes and doses of pulsating power electronics, all draped in dystopian atmosphere. The opener "Fog" made me want to crank it while watching Galaxy of Terror on mute, and track titles like "Nightwar", "Fight" and "Perversion" all evoke an atmosphere of urban collapse and pending violence, while seemingly mapping out the psychic wastes bordering some desolate ghostworld. Those smoke-belching infernal engines rattle and buzz over the far-off sounds of children singing, their angelic voices distorted and obscured by the incessant billowing mechanical fumes, and eerie atonal melodies flutter like fragments of fractalized data through clouds of electrified energy. On a few tracks like "Useless Informations", the band lurches into a kind of deformed industrial dirge akin to Wolf Eyes, monstrous distorted vocals and pulsating bass slithering around staggered rhythms and smears of queasy electronics, but on "Nightwar", they unleash a throbbing synthscape that's almost Carpenterian in its icy menace. Great stuff from these guys all around. Other tracks are vicious power electronics outbursts, like the rabid robotic horror of "Perversion" that sounds like a call to arms for a violent sex-droid uprising, or the demonic black pulse of "Last Farewell" that carries echoes of the malignant throb of Genocide Organ, or the meeting of militaristic drumming and cinematic elegance on the closer "An Appeal". I'll definitely be keeping an ear open for more Objekt/Urian stuff. Comes in digipack packaging.
Track Samples:
Sample : Perversion
Sample : Logic control
Sample : An appeal



OBSCENE NOISE KORPORATION   Primitive Terror Action / The Rape Of The Blue Planet   2 x CD   (Malignant)    12.98



     Pay no mind to the cheeky text along the spine of Primitive Terror Action / The Rape Of The Blue Planet that states this is "True Swedish Danceable Black Metal". This is filthy, thoroughly corroded industrial punishment from Swedish death industrial pioneer Peter Nystrom of Megaptera / Negru Voda fame, with not a glint of metal to be found. This double disc set is a fuckin' massive reissue of the complete recorded works of this late 90's project, and includes the Primitive Terror Action Lp that originally came out in 1997 on Slaughter Productions, contributions to the 1999 Cold Meat compilation Esthetiks of Cruelty, demo tracks and a brand new album recorded in 2014, totaling two hours of rumbling, blackened noisescapes that billow out of your speakers like clouds of choking ash and acrid smoke.
     The wall of crackling, oppressive noise that Peter Nystrom creates on Primitive Terror Action foreshadows the "HNW" aesthetic, and is as dense and mesmeric as anything you've heard from the likes of Vomir or The Rita, but the album will also delve into more rhythmic industrial pieces like "Breakfast At West's", where distorted loops form into trance-inducing rhythmic churn overlaid with sheets of heavily textured noise and blasts of gritty hiss. Much of Primitive is built around these looping power-tool drones, a distorted rattling that seethes beneath his bursts of sheet-metal abuse and tortured electronics, at some points transforming the scream of warped metal into sinister half-formed melodies, while consistently maintaining an oppressively dark atmosphere that hangs over the entire album. Pretty powerful stuff, dirty charred deathdrones suspended in a storm of distortion, stretched out and battered by blasts of blackened static and rampant machine noise, lone doleful synthesizer notes shot out into raging storms of speaker-shredding violence, and ghostly vocals obscured by waves of smoldering sonic magma that eventually drifts into strange noisescapes, filled with abstract bleeps and bloops amid gales of junk-metal abuse and amplified scrap-scrape. Old-school industrial noise really doesn't get better than this.
     The demo tracks that round out the rest of the first disc are an interesting deviation from the dark industrial noise of the album, on some tracks utilizing hammering drum machine rhythms and ominous, almost gothy synthesizers that hang in the background, buried in filthy sonic murk and distortion. Some of this stuff almost sounds to me like a dirtier, more aggressive version of some of the earlier Sisters of Mercy stuff, weirdly enough - but of course enshrouded in coarse distorted static; there's definitely a dancefloor vibe to a couple of those tracks. Otherwise, you get more of that vast murky deathdrone, as ghastly voices echo from the depths of some black pit, or threatening high-voltage electrical pulsations get strung out into tense drones, or hellish hornet-swarms swirling around monstrous processed vocals, or glacial mechanical rhythms throb and clank beneath arcs of searing kosmische blackness. It's relentless.
     Though the material was apparently recorded more than a decade later, the new album Rape Of The Blue Planet picks up right where those 90s sessions left off, unleashing eight more violent blasts of pummeling machine noise and corroded loops, desolate factoryscape ambience and murky rhythmic churn, and oceanic masses of suffocating junkmetal avalanche that obliterates everything. The oppressive feel of the older material is still there, sometimes approaching a death industrial-level of menace on tracks like "Hjärntvätteriet", thanks to the appearance of John Stillings (Steel Hook Prostheses), who lends his vicious, ultra-distorted shriek. There's a couple of new wrinkles in the sound as well, like the blasts of processed orchestral sound that occasionally blare across the rumbling, churning noise, and an added psychedelic quality when the atonal synth melodies emerge over locomotive rumblings and crushing, broken percussive rhythms begin to stagger out of the toxic haze.
     Obviously Megaperta fans are going to want to add this to their collection, as this project sees Nystrom exploring a similar blasted wasteland of blackened industrial textures, but anyone into abrasive, terrifying industrial noise from this era needs to hear it. It's absolutely crushing. Comes in digipack packaging.
Track Samples:
Sample : Noise Terror
Sample : Demo I
Sample : Bricks Covered With Blood
Sample : ÿþHjärntvätteriet



OBSEQUIAE   Aria Of Vernal Tombs   CD   (20 Buck Spin)    13.99



     Back in stock on CD, and now also available on vinyl.
     An utterly stunning new album from this Midwestern outfit, which is essentially the work of one man, Tanner Anderson, whom I had previously known as the guiding force behind the excellent, washed-out funereal doom of Celestiial. With his current band Obsequiae, Anderson has been exploring a combination of black metal aesthetics and medieval music that was first heard on the excellent 2011 album Suspended In The Brume Of Eos, but with his latest Aria Of Vernal Tombs , Obsequiae’s sound is even more finely crafted, producing one of the year's most impressive new albums that reaches beyond the edges of black metal towards something entirely unique.
     It's a real knock-out of an album, with that medieval music influence woven even more seamlessly with the band's more aggressive aspects. It opens with the gorgeous medieval folk of "Ay Que Por Muy Gran Fremosura" before unleashing the folk-flecked, frosty blast of "Autumnal Pyre"; those ancient European musical elements are combined perfectly with the heavier, rather classical-sounding metal that Anderson employs, and it's really rather unlike anything coming from the more folk-influenced end of modern black metal. As "Pyre" unfolds its regal melody and thunderous metallic hooks, it hits a similar nerve as some of Drudkh's stuff, but the overall atmosphere here is quite different. All eleven of these songs that comprise Aria are carefully arranged mini-epics that move from that sprawling, majestic blackened metal to fields of atmospheric ambience and rumbles of distant thunder, glimpses of female choral voices adrift somewhere in the distance, the songs flowing organically from one to the next. It's all so damn catchy, too, even as there's a definite proggy element to all of this (just listen to the track "Anlace And Heart"), which you can hear in the complexity of most of these songs and the sweeping guitar shred that soars over the whole thing. While Anderson is behind much of this, he's assisted by harpist Vicente La Camera Mariño and Nechochwen drummer Andrew Della Cagna, who each lend their strengths to Aria's dark elegance; that harp is especially intoxicating, and when the album slips softly into the instrumental tracks "L'amour Dont Sui Espris" and "Des Oge Mais Quér' Eu Trobar" with their reverb-drenched harp strings shimmering in the dying sunlight, the shift in sound is absolutely perfect. Such a great album, capped off with the rousing, triumphant heaviness of "Orphic Rites Of The Mystic" which is about as good a prog metal song as you're going to hear this year. Highly recommended, the current CD version of Aria Of Vernal Tombs comes in a digipack stamped with gold foil lettering, and includes an eight page booklet.
Track Samples:
Sample : Orphic Rites of the Mystic
Sample : ÿþL’Amour Dont Sui Espris
Sample : Anlace and Heart



OBSEQUIAE   Aria Of Vernal Tombs   LP   (20 Buck Spin)    22.99



     Back in stock on CD, and now also available on vinyl.
     An utterly stunning new album from this Midwestern outfit, which is essentially the work of one man, Tanner Anderson, whom I had previously known as the guiding force behind the excellent, washed-out funereal doom of Celestiial. With his current band Obsequiae, Anderson has been exploring a combination of black metal aesthetics and medieval music that was first heard on the excellent 2011 album Suspended In The Brume Of Eos, but with his latest Aria Of Vernal Tombs , Obsequiae’s sound is even more finely crafted, producing one of the year's most impressive new albums that reaches beyond the edges of black metal towards something entirely unique.
     It's a real knock-out of an album, with that medieval music influence woven even more seamlessly with the band's more aggressive aspects. It opens with the gorgeous medieval folk of "Ay Que Por Muy Gran Fremosura" before unleashing the folk-flecked, frosty blast of "Autumnal Pyre"; those ancient European musical elements are combined perfectly with the heavier, rather classical-sounding metal that Anderson employs, and it's really rather unlike anything coming from the more folk-influenced end of modern black metal. As "Pyre" unfolds its regal melody and thunderous metallic hooks, it hits a similar nerve as some of Drudkh's stuff, but the overall atmosphere here is quite different. All eleven of these songs that comprise Aria are carefully arranged mini-epics that move from that sprawling, majestic blackened metal to fields of atmospheric ambience and rumbles of distant thunder, glimpses of female choral voices adrift somewhere in the distance, the songs flowing organically from one to the next. It's all so damn catchy, too, even as there's a definite proggy element to all of this (just listen to the track "Anlace And Heart"), which you can hear in the complexity of most of these songs and the sweeping guitar shred that soars over the whole thing. While Anderson is behind much of this, he's assisted by harpist Vicente La Camera Mariño and Nechochwen drummer Andrew Della Cagna, who each lend their strengths to Aria's dark elegance; that harp is especially intoxicating, and when the album slips softly into the instrumental tracks "L'amour Dont Sui Espris" and "Des Oge Mais Quér' Eu Trobar" with their reverb-drenched harp strings shimmering in the dying sunlight, the shift in sound is absolutely perfect. Such a great album, capped off with the rousing, triumphant heaviness of "Orphic Rites Of The Mystic" which is about as good a prog metal song as you're going to hear this year. Highly recommended, the new LP version of Aria Of Vernal Tombs comes in a gorgeous jacket with a printed inner sleeve.
Track Samples:
Sample : Orphic Rites of the Mystic
Sample : ÿþL’Amour Dont Sui Espris
Sample : Anlace and Heart



ODOUR SONOUR   Earth Burial   CD   (Exabyss)    8.98



    This NYC by-way-of-Hungary death industrial artist finally delivers his first proper full length with Earth Burial, crafting a supremely morbid miasma of necro-ambient dread across a fifteen-track album that features additional input from another ExAbyss-related project, Stone Wired. The generally pitch-black atmosphere of this album finds itself riddled with deep, juddering rhythms and sheets of rotted drone draped over a seemingly bottomless abyss, so we're deep into death industrial territory here. There's some variety to Odour Sonour's stygian explorations, though, as the outfit alternates passages of almost Atrax Morgue-esque abattoir rattlings with waves of immersive synthdrift or eruptions of pummeling tribal percussion that thunder beneath squalls of echoing metallic pandemonium and dense reverb-drenched sound. It's resolutely dark stuff, with fragments of human voices in distress emerging amid blasts of electrically-charged high voltage hum and distant reverberations, and passages of unsettling iron lung ambience and subterranean whirr, but it never lingers too long in any one of these deathly noisescapes. Morbid pulses and crackling minimal rhythms hover in the depths, surrounded by ghostly environmental noises, or the sound of intercepted phone conversations and creepy EVP-like exhalations.
     It's on tracks like "The Cortege" that Odour Sonour's sinister atmosphere really takes hold, blending minimal Marclay-esque loops of dusty vinyl crackle with emissions from some disinterred grave, and the abyssal gurglings generated by their massively distorted synthesizers give birth to almost doomdrone-level heaviness on "Bereaved And Abandoned". That stuff is seriously heavy, those rumbling crushing chords gradually bathed in harrowing orchestral howls. All of this stuff is possessed with a sense of inexorable doom and shot through with moments of ghastly grandeur, intensely morbid stuff, and anyone into stuff like Megaptera, the aforementioned Atrax Morgue, and Archon Satani will probably love it.
     The latter half of the disc is the separate collaboration with Exabyss labelmate Stone Wired, which combines that dank industrial dread with weird robotic vocals and a more abrasive noise textures and shambling android rhythms, a weirder and more surrealistic version of death industrial than before, blending malignant tumorous throb with eerie, ethereal female vocals and foul mausoleum emissions that culminates in a killer cancerous dirge called "Hands That Not Mine ( Dead Hands )", which closes the disc in a blast of atomized blackness. An interesting addendum to the otherwise Slaughter Productions-style murk that makes up the album proper.
     Comes in digipack packaging, released in a limited edition of one hundred fifty copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : Hands That Not Mine ( Dead Hands )
Sample : Aspirating Soul From The Abdominal Cavity
Sample : Algor Mortis



OLD MAN GLOOM   Meditations In B   LP   (Hydra Head)    22.00



     Crucial avant-metalcore. Coming on the heels of that massive two-album Ape Of God release from the end of 2014, Old Man Gloom's punishing debut has finally been reissued on vinyl, with a new re-mastering and presented in a new package design that reproduces the sleeve art that appeared on the Japanese Daymare CD release that came out a couple of years ago.
     Originally released back in 2000 and sub-titled "A Sound Wave Replication Dissertation On Alien Simian Technology in 13 Chapters", the noisy, super-heavy Meditations In B foreshadowed the wave of experimental sludge metal that would sweep across the oughts, and listening to it again, it still holds up as one of the weirder and more creative albums to come not only from Old Man Gloom, but from the entire constellation of bands and projects that surrounded Isis and Hydra Head Records. Back when it came out, Old Man Gloom was just the duo of Hydra Head boss Aaron Turner and drummer Santos Montano, and the pair wrote and recorded this blast of sludgy experimental heaviness in a whirlwind session, bringing together a host of influences that ranged from old-school British industrial rock a la Skullflower and Ramleh to harsh electronic noise, the more outré fringes of post-Am Rep noise rock, and sprawls of mesmeric minimalist drone, fusing all of these influences and elements together with a crushing metallic framework and their weird fascination with both primates and alien technology, the latter of which fueled their album imagery and lyrical content. Meditations isn't as well constructed as their later works, but this album still delivered a really compelling strain of experimental metalcore, shifting haphazardly from the bursts of crazed angular heaviness and barbaric math-metal that opens the album with "Afraid Of" and "Flood I", straight into the gorgeously bleak dronescape of "Simian Alien Technology: Message" that blurs meandering guitar noise and vast rumbling ambience into something akin to the abstract amplified driftscapes of artists like Mirror, Jonathan Coleclough or Tim Hecker. This combination of avant drone, noise and metallic heaviness would become more commonplace as the decade wore on of course, but back when this Lp came out it was pretty original, with hushed fields of metallic rumble and reverberant thrum that are as expansive as anything you'd hear from the Drone Records catalog, making the sudden eruptions of serrated, mathy metalcore or bludgeoning Godfleshian hypno-riffs that much more punishing.


ORDER FROM CHAOS   Frozen In Steel   5 x CD   (Nuclear War Now! Productions)    47.98

Frozen In Steel IS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE FOR ORDER

    We now have the five CD boxset version of this awesome collection in stock, packaged in a foil-stamped, casewrapped box that's essentially just a miniature version of the one that holds the multi-LP set. A definitive, comprehensive collection of all of the band's studio recordings, including their three albums, demos, promotional tapes and EPs, and further fleshed out with a number of rare live and rehearsal recordings - it's all here. The complete works of a band that Nuclear War Now clearly sees as one of the most important bands in American death metal, and it's easy to see why. Here's my previous review of the vinyl version:
    Formed in the late 1980s by a trio of heathen teens from Kansas City, MO, Order From Chaos created one of the most uncompromising and violent sounds to ever come out of the underground. Although I'd followed several of the bands that Order From Chaos bassist/vocalist Pete Helmkamp and guitarist Chuck Keller would go on to form after the band broke up in the mid-90s (Angelcorpse, Terror Organ, Kerasphorus, Vulpecula, etc.), I really didn't begin to develop my obsession with their music until fairly recently. I had heard a few songs here and there over the years, but it wasn't until I stumbled across a description of Order From Chaos's debut album Stillbirth Machine on a list of "Death Metal oddities" (compiled by the guy behind the excellent but sadly short-lived Devoured By Vegans blog) that I finally became infected by the band's elite sonic barbarism. That list compared Stillbirth to "Blasphemy molesting Voivod while GISM watch", an invitation I could hardly ignore, and that record did indeed deliver one of the most bizarre, ultra-violent death metal assaults I've ever heard once I got my hands on it. Weird, noise-damaged death metal that helped to lay the template for the whole "bestial black/death" aesthetic but which still sounds totally unique, and Helmkamp's lyrics often read like a Ligotti cut-up, philosophical nihilism and cosmic horror interwoven with hardcore Social Darwinism into sprawling texts. Much of their music feels accidentally avant-garde, industrial noisescapes and long samples of terrifying modern classical music stitched in among the ravenous, thrashing death metal. Time has not dampened Order From Chaos's sound, either. Listening to all of this material in a marathon session felt like a physical assault, but for fans of the band (especially those of us who weren't there to pick up the original releases), this set is essential.
    The first LP collects the band's demo recordings that were released between 1988 and 1992, comprising the Demo 1, Inhumanities, Crushed Infamy and Alienus Sum cassettes along with the 1990 Will To Power 7" on Putrefaction Records. Presented in chronological order, these sixteen songs follow the band's primitive origins through the early 90s, starting with the crazed hardcore thrash of the earliest demo tracks that bear a noticeable resemblance to early Voivod's ragged violent thrash, played with a blistering punk abandon. Even this early into their career, the band was unleashing a genuinely violent sound, laced with berserk guitar solos and weird atmospheric flanged chords and bits of crushing Frostian heaviness, while at the same time dropping some extremely catchy riffs into the deranged thrash. The Inhumanities tracks are particularly fucked, their tough, nuked-out thrash turning more feral and discordant, with some weird use of guitar effects and doubled vocal tracks, the weird processed recording quality and sheen of metallic flange giving that stuff even more of a lunatic edge, while the Crushed Infamy tape saw the band moving deeper away from their rabid thrash roots into a more frenzied, chaotic death metal sound that they would come to be known for, rhythmically complex with jarring tempo changes and lurching riffs. That record is capped off with the Will To Power 7", a blistering assault of rampaging death-thrash insanity mottled with traces of Voivodian dissonance.
    And then there's the bands bile-stained masterpiece of maniac mutant death metal, 1992's Stillbirth Machine. The double LP set for the Stillbirth Machine era is an expansive set that features additional material in the form of live tracks from the band's ferocious Live: Into Distant Fears 7", the unreleased Pain Lengthens Time EP from 1994, and outtakes from their Alienus Sum promo cassette session alongside the album itself. By this point, Order From Chaos had fully evolved into an insane death-fueled maelstrom of bestial energy, and Stillbirth Machine established a new level in extremity. Seven songs of slavering sonic warfare, opening with a sequence from Gyorgy Ligeti's "Requiem" that sends those terrifying choral voices swelling up from the depths, ascending in a terrifying arc to where the band suddenly rises and meets them head-on, kicking into the rabid deathnoise of "The Edge Of Forever". We're instantly sucked into a carnivorous vortex of crazed angular riffing and churning thrash, Helmkamp's scathing, bestial screams transforming into a truly unhinged litany of violence and blasphemy. We are chewed up in the band's gnashing jaws, slipping with them into sickening blasts of mid-paced buzzsaw punk aggression, batshit atonal guitar solos and weird Voivodian chords tangling with bone-scraping guitar noise splattered like black vomit across the filthy, lurching thrash. The drumming is a brutal clattery cacophony with flashes of intricate playing, while vocals swirl out in tentacles of echoing hatred. That hardcore punk influence is undeniable, boiled down to an ultra-violent essence, but the band also laces their songs with mysterious field recordings and eerie ambience, amplifying the psychotic feel of this record. It is still one of the weirdest and most vicious death metal albums I've heard, and remains my favorite of all of their recordings.
    Available here on vinyl for the first time ever, the band's second album Dawn Bringer is featured on the third double-LP set. This succinct six-song attack is just as chaotic and deranged as the previous album, moving between bizarre experimental tracks like "Labyrinthine Whispers" that fused spoken word vocals with discordant organ noise and a seething black mass of crazed guitar skree, to the gibbering death metal violence of "Ophiuchus Rex (He Who Plays With The Serpents)". Other tracks trudge through eerie, dissonant doom-laden majesty laced with odd gong-like reverberations, see strains of haunting piano suddenly appear over one of their churning mid-paced death metal riffs, or offer weird metallic instrumental renditions of old Germanic anthems, even erupting into an irradiated, lunatic version of the Voivod classic "War And Pain" at one point. The set also includes the tracks from the band's three-song Plateau Of Invincibility 10", a rabid delirium of disjointed blackened death metal laced with chunks of Basil Polidouris's score to Conan The Barbarian, vicious covers of Venom and Sodom, and screaming air raid sirens; and the And I Saw Eternity CDEP on Shivadarshana/Ground Zero that featured re-recorded versions of older tracks, the new song "Imperium", and a sprawling, blackened industrial noisescape that spreads out across the final minutes of the side.
    Their third and final album was 1998's An Ending In Fire, considered by some fans to be their best. Me, I prefer the unhinged bestial ultra-violence of Stillbirth Machine above all else, but Order From Chaos had definitely polished their sound to a lethal edge on their swan song, retaining all of the manic atonality, complex riffage and arcane occult/celestial weirdness that made 'em so unique, while also brandishing the most coherent and powerful production of any of their records. Its an interesting album, essentially made up of three epic "songs" that are then sub-divided into different tracks/chapters, and there are several of those strange ambient/atmospheric/noise sections that add to the band's violent, unearthly chaos. There's a twelve minute bestial thrash epic titled "There Lies Your Lord! Father Of Victories!", blasts of harrowing industrial noise and black-hole ambience that sound like diabolical transmissions from an alien planet ("De Stella Nova"), and walls of down-tuned bass guitar that turn into beastquakes of Repulsion-like noise churn. Seriously brutal stuff. This set is rounded out with a pair of devastating live sets, one recorded in Omaha, Nebraska in 1993, the other from Manassas, Virginia in 1994, each featuring four songs.
    The final record captures an early rehearsal session from the band, recorded on Christmas Day 1988. Adorned in kinetic album art taken from George Grosz's Explosion, this single LP captures the band tearing through a ferocious eight-song set, the sound quality raw but quite listenable. Mostly of interest to hardcore fans of the band, it's a revealing look at the band in the throes of creation, capturing their nascent sound mere months after the band was formed. And even this early into their existence, they fucking ripped.
    Unquestionably essential for fans of the band who missed out on the original vinyl releases or those looking for the definitive collection of the band's works. Easily the reissue/boxset release of the year, at least as far as extreme metal is concerned.
Track Samples:
Sample : Stillbirth Machine
Sample : Iconoclasm Conquest
Sample : The Edge Of Forever
Sample : An Ending In Fire
Sample : De Stella Nova
Sample : Plateau Of Invincibility



ORTOLANI, RIZ   Cannibal Holocaust   LP   (Mondo)    29.99



   Can you believe that this is the first time that Ortolani's Cannibal Holocaust has ever appeared on vinyl? Considering Ortolani's prestige, I was really surprised to see that. But Mondo's new reissue of Ortolani's classic score is indeed the first time that this haunting work has appeared on wax - it's the same material that appeared on Red Stream's CD release a few years ago, re-mastered by James Plotkin and pressed on 180 gram black vinyl, and housed in a strikingly designed gatefold jacket with a full-color art print. Here's my old review of the score from when we had the CD version in stock:
    Riz Ortolani's legendary score to the 1979 fim Cannibal Holocaust is one of the most renowned of all of the Italian horror soundtracks, the work of a Grammy Award-winning composer setting sound to some of the most depraved visions of violence and degradation and gut-churning horror ever put to film. One of his only forays into the realm of horror, Ortolani's score blended unearthly beauty with sickening electronics for one of the most unsettling scores I've heard, and was an effective accompaniment to Ruggero Deodato's vile visuals found on this pioneering early found-footage nightmare. The utterly gorgeous sound of Ortolani's "Cannibal Holocaust (Main Theme)" that plays out over the film's opening scenes of the vast, verdant Amazon rainforest is about the last thing that you would expect to hear at the onset of an ultra-violent cannibal epic, but the haunting sound of those nostalgic strings and tremulous choir voices are arranged into a theme that's as romantic and achingly pretty as anything I've heard from Morricone, an aural beauty that is completely at odds with the retina-scorching flesh carnage that follows. But from there, Ortolani's score meets those lurid horrors of Cannibal Holocaust with a combination of sickening atonal synthesizers that lurk through pieces like "Adulteress' Punishment", solemn string arrangements, airy acoustic guitars, passages of weird, sickly jazziness, bits of bizarre 70's action-funk, and the horrific mutant disco of "Massacre Of The Troupe" and "Savage Rite" that creates a thoroughly disturbing tension between the horror movie style orchestral strings and the seemingly random blubbering synth-funk. And there's another striking composition titled "Crucified Woman" that accompanied what might be the film's most notorious set-piece, a profoundly mournful piece of music that ranks as one of Ortolani's finest works.
Track Samples:
Sample : Cannibal Holocaust (Main Theme)
Sample : Crucified Woman
Sample : Savage Rite



OWL GLITTERS   Alchemical Tones   CD   (Heart & Crossbone)    11.98



     At first glance, this album from Owl Glitters didn't look like something I'd be interested in; the combination of that goofy band name, the garish mandalas that make up the album art and the presence of songs with titles like "Dervishes" and "By The Candle Light Our Eyes Welcome Glimmers Of Eternity" sort of suggested something along the lines of hippy-dippy neo-psychedelia, which I've been less and less interested in lately. But an endorsement from the fine Israeli label Heart & Crossbone is always enough to get me to check something out, usually indicative of heavier, more fucked-up tuneage. And that's what you get from Tones, the debut album from this Georgia-based band, who definitely cruise through some higher elevations with their stoned-out conglom of chanting voices, mesmeric hand drum rhythms, searing psych-fuzz guitar and circular bass lines. But that druggy, bleary psychedelia gets hammered by some bursts of serious heaviness, giving this a more sinister vibe than expected.
     There's a definite resemblance to hypno-rockers Om. Opener "Dervishes" kicks things off with that distinctly Om-esque feel, lumbering across the beginning with it's bass-heavy elliptic groove, but as the band starts to pile on more and more electric guitar into the mix, the music begins to evolve into something a little frayed and edgy, streams of distorted noodling and Morricone-esque atmosphere wafting over that narcotized tribal thump. That tribal percussive feel is present through much of this, with similarly hypnotic psych jams like "Journey Of The Godheads" and "Hakim Sanai" further fusing a hazy, bleary black-forest drum circle vibe with moody melodies and more of those bouts of screaming guitar shred. There's also some weirdly galloping freak-folk on "Mindfull Of Gems" that sort of feels like an old-school doom metal riff being played over that pounding drum circle, and elsewhere, you'll get some proggy, borderline metallic guitar parts mingling with more of that ecstatic percussive din. That rolling, layered drumming becomes the pulsating heart of Owl Glitter's darkened psychedelia, rattling tambourine and polyrhythmic beats leading their twisted forest rituals further down a knotty tunnel into deeper and more delirious realms of doom-drenched chant and soundtracky shadowscapes, joined by glorious vocal harmonies and raga-laced drones, all seared by waves of shimmering nightside guitar. By the end of this disc, I was totally hooked on the band's music, which at times resembles a more shredtastic, doom-laden Master Musicians Of Bukkake, at others a more folk-fueled Om, but with their own oddly epic vibe feel. If you dug that Queen Elephantine stuff that also came out on Heart & Crossbone, this is definitely on a similar druggy, ritualistic wavelength.
Track Samples:
Sample : Mindfull of Gems
Sample : Khalifa's Visions
Sample : Poets of Shiraz



OYAARSS   Zemdega   CD   (Ad Noiseam)    17.98



     The third album from Latvian artist Arvids Laivinieks and his Oyaarss project, Zemdega continues to blend elements of atmospheric post-rock, metallic heaviness and dark electronic music into one of the heavier sounds to come from electronic music label Ad Noiseam. Laivinieks displays an impressive sonic vocabulary, as this ten-song disc moves through a strange, tense soundscape forged from dark, speaker-rattling dubstep and abrasive IDM, seething electronics and heavy rhythmic sounds coursing through the heart of the album, woven with unusual sonic choices. Some songs unfold into eerie, prog-tinged forms that almost resembles a cyborg version of Goblin, and 80's soundtrack influences seeping into other sections of the album; elsewhere he draws from older Eastern European folk melodies and pummeling hardcore techno and extreme noise all in the same breath, creating these rattling rustic blasts of garbled melody and mystic beauty, littered with repetitious, haunting piano melodies, or drifting into stunning jazzy ambience that slowly pan across his fields of glitch-riddled chaos and smoldering blackened dronescapes. There's an impressive depth to the mix that makes this an intense and immersive listening experience.
     All throughout Zemdega, Laivinieks delivers an often dread-filled soundscape, but it's the opener "Cetrvieniba (Quadrality)" and the lengthier "Brustwart" that tremble with particularly frenzied intensity, due to the presence of guest vocalist Colin H. Van Eeckhout. The lead singer for Belgian blackened sludge outfit Amenra and Holy Terror hardcore squad Blind To Faith (as well as a member of the dark ambient group Sembler Deah), Van Eeckhout here delivers a distraught vocal performance over these two tracks, spewing his frenzied, hysteric screams over ever-shifting backdrops of orchestral power, skittering electronica and doom-laden melody. The latter track emerges as the standout on this disc, blending what feels like a mutated Middle Eastern folk melody with waves of shimmering electronica and nervous rhythms while colossal blasts of monstrous distorted bass detonate like IEDs in the distance, shaping into a kind of dystopian, doom-laden dubstep-laced ambience. Pretty fucking immense.
     As with previous Oyaarss albums, there's an epic, futuristic vibe to this stuff, not as heavy as some of the stuff that's been coming out of the more extreme end of the dubstep/electronic scene, but definitely dark and tinged with metallic power, and quite recommended if you're into the grimmer, more atmospheric regions of the Ad Noiseum catalog.
Track Samples:
Sample : triality
Sample : platelet in vivo
Sample : brustwart



OYAARSS   Zemdega   LP   (Ad Noiseam)    19.99



     The third album from Latvian artist Arvids Laivinieks and his Oyaarss project, Zemdega continues to blend elements of atmospheric post-rock, metallic heaviness and dark electronic music into one of the heavier sounds to come from electronic music label Ad Noiseam. Laivinieks displays an impressive sonic vocabulary, as this ten-song disc moves through a strange, tense soundscape forged from dark, speaker-rattling dubstep and abrasive IDM, seething electronics and heavy rhythmic sounds coursing through the heart of the album, woven with unusual sonic choices. Some songs unfold into eerie, prog-tinged forms that almost resembles a cyborg version of Goblin, and 80's soundtrack influences seeping into other sections of the album; elsewhere he draws from older Eastern European folk melodies and pummeling hardcore techno and extreme noise all in the same breath, creating these rattling rustic blasts of garbled melody and mystic beauty, littered with repetitious, haunting piano melodies, or drifting into stunning jazzy ambience that slowly pan across his fields of glitch-riddled chaos and smoldering blackened dronescapes. There's an impressive depth to the mix that makes this an intense and immersive listening experience.
     All throughout Zemdega, Laivinieks delivers an often dread-filled soundscape, but it's the opener "Cetrvieniba (Quadrality)" and the lengthier "Brustwart" that tremble with particularly frenzied intensity, due to the presence of guest vocalist Colin H. Van Eeckhout. The lead singer for Belgian blackened sludge outfit Amenra and Holy Terror hardcore squad Blind To Faith (as well as a member of the dark ambient group Sembler Deah), Van Eeckhout here delivers a distraught vocal performance over these two tracks, spewing his frenzied, hysteric screams over ever-shifting backdrops of orchestral power, skittering electronica and doom-laden melody. The latter track emerges as the standout on this disc, blending what feels like a mutated Middle Eastern folk melody with waves of shimmering electronica and nervous rhythms while colossal blasts of monstrous distorted bass detonate like IEDs in the distance, shaping into a kind of dystopian, doom-laden dubstep-laced ambience. Pretty fucking immense.
     As with previous Oyaarss albums, there's an epic, futuristic vibe to this stuff, not as heavy as some of the stuff that's been coming out of the more extreme end of the dubstep/electronic scene, but definitely dark and tinged with metallic power, and quite recommended if you're into the grimmer, more atmospheric regions of the Ad Noiseum catalog.
Track Samples:
Sample : triality
Sample : platelet in vivo
Sample : brustwart



PAN.THY.MONIUM   ...Dawn / Dream II   CD   (The Crypt)    11.99



   Now available on CD for the first time ever, remastered and featuring reversible cover art, liner notes and rare photos. Here's my old review from the previous vinyl version that came out on The Crypt:
   Alongside Abruptum and Ophthalamia, Pan-Thy-Mononium was indisputably one of the weirdest of Sweden's death metal exports in the very early 1990's. The band (led by Swedish death metal legend Dan Swano) played a brutally heavy brand of death metal, but this was like no other death metal anyone had heard before. Deliberately trying to play the weirdest, most doom-laden death metal that the members could come up with, Pan-Thy-Monium blasted into deep space with a wigged-out combination of complicated arrangements and drawn-out songs, pummeling old-school death metal riffs, gaseous guttural vokills, and lots of weird spacey effects, the recurring sound of a ticking clock, horror-movie synthesizers, synthetic flutes and clavichord-like melodies, creepy droning ambience and swells of gorgeous Vangelis bliss, quirky Voivod-esque chords, and plenty of jarring changes that take the band abruptly from blasting death metal into crawling angular doom and then straight into oddball off-time rock parts. "Unpredictable" is one way to describe Pan-Thy-Monium's music, but in spite of it's rampant weirdness, these songs are both crushing and engaging, a weird Beefheart approach to early death metal that's never been rivaled. In addition, the guys in Pan-Thy-Monium created their own language, or something like that, with totally nonsensical song titles and constant references to some sort of deity called "Raagoonshinnaah", and the liner notes that accompany this record reveal that the singer was actually improvising all of that awesome monstrous growling, calling it "Obituary syndrome" since having lyrics wouldn't be "spontaneous" enough for their music. This wasn't your typical death metal band by a long shot.
    Pan-Thy-Monium would eventually release several cult albums on labels like Osmose and Relapse, but their earliest demo releases remained some of the band's most bizarre-sounding and sought-after recordings. The ...Dawn and Dream II demos, recorded and released in 1990 and 1991 respectively, are completely fucking bonkers; this music must have seriously blown the minds of death metallers who ordered these demos from the band. The debut demo ...Dawn never received any sort of official release beyond the original cassette, and while Dreams II was later released on Cd by Avantgarde Music, both recordings have been almost impossible to find in recent years. Enter cult vinyl reissue label The Crypt, who has assembled and released a stunning new Lp collection of both recordings, re-mastered and presented in a thick gatefold jacket which has demo artwork, fanzine interviews, brief liner notes from Dan Swano and photos printed on the interior, and issued in a limited one-time edition of 500 copies (250 of which are on 180 gram gold vinyl, which is the color that we have in stock), and includes a huge 24" x 36" poster of the original Paw Nielsen artwork for the cover of Dream II!
Track Samples:
Sample : II
Sample : Vvoiiccheeces
Sample : Zenotaffph



PECCATUM   Strangling From Within   CD   (Candlelight)    7.99



     Finally stocking the remaining Peccatum titles that are still in print here at C-Blast. Known by most as the avant-garde side project of Emperor's Ihsahn, Peccatum featured him alongside wife Ihriel (aka Heidi Solberg Tveitan) and her brother Lord PZ exploring an offbeat mix of neo-classical sounds, dark prog rock, and black metal aesthetics. Much was made of the classic elements within Peccatum's sound, back when this project first emerged as a side project to Norwegian black metal heavyweights Emperor in the late 90s, but really Peccatum was Ihsahn's first foray into the sort of baroque prog rock that he would fully develop later under his own name. Peccatum wasn't exactly welcomed with open arms by the black metal crowd, who saw this as too indulgent and too weird, but they absolutely floored me when I first heard them, which was live as one of the openers for Emperor on their US tour in 1999. I had no idea what to expect when these three walked out on stage, and their bizarre combination of wailing operatic singing, stentorian drum programming, dark neo-classical arrangements and odd soundscapery ended up being one of my favorite things about the entire concert. Their weird kind of industrialized black metal-tinged prog sounded so strange and unique, then and now. So as part of my ongoing pursuit of more obscure black metal related offshoots for the deeper end of the C-Blast catalog, I tracked down all of their available releases in an effort to turn some newcomers on to Peccatum's surreal sound.
     Opening with the melodramatic and gothically-tinged neo-classical of opening track "Where Do I Then Belong", Peccatum's 1999 debut Strangling From Within proceeds to transform into a bonkers fusion of Emperor's blackened bombast, Ihriel's gorgeous operatic singing, and layered orchestral darkness, like some bizarre avant-garde black metal-infused opera. The Peter And The Wolf-esque keyboard arrangements and dark black-forest pomp all draws from the stuff that Ihsahn was doing with his old Thou Shalt Suffer project, but here he injects a heavy dose of screaming metallic power and full-on progginess into the mix. Oh yeah, it's self-indulgent and totally over the top, definitely not for everyone, but I loved this album back when it came out. It's so demented and over the top. From the industrialized symphonic metal of "Speak Of The Devil" powered by industrial-tinged drumming and Ihsahn's awesome Halford-esque falsetto shriek, to the wicked prog-tinged metal and rocking riffery of "The Change" that transforms into epic operatic blackened blast, and the lurching, off-kilter bombast of the some of the later tracks, it was an utterly weird sound that they were going for. You got King Diamond style vocal histrionics, lots of killer shredding guitar and complex interlacing melodies and Danny Elfman-lite orchestral arrangements. Not all of the tracks flow as well as others and there are moments where it gets pretty haphazard due to the sheer amount of ideas that the trio were attempting to put together here, but on songs like "The Sand Was Made Of Mountains" and "The World Of No Worlds", Peccatum succeeds in crafting a uniquely fearsome and heavy strain of symphonic prog that just sounds goddamn nuts.
Track Samples:
Sample : The Song Which No Name Carry
Sample : Speak of the Devil (As the Devil May Care)



PECCATUM   The Moribund People   CD   (The End)    6.50



     Finally stocking the remaining Peccatum titles that are still in print here at C-Blast. Known by most as the avant-garde side project of Emperor's Ihsahn, Peccatum featured him alongside wife Ihriel (aka Heidi Solberg Tveitan) and her brother Lord PZ exploring an offbeat mix of neo-classical sounds, dark prog rock, and black metal aesthetics. Much was made of the classic elements within Peccatum's sound, back when this project first emerged as a side project to Norwegian black metal heavyweights Emperor in the late 90s, but really Peccatum was Ihsahn's first foray into the sort of baroque prog rock that he would fully develop later under his own name. Peccatum wasn't exactly welcomed with open arms by the black metal crowd, who saw this as too indulgent and too weird, but they absolutely floored me when I first heard them, which was live as one of the openers for Emperor on their US tour in 1999. I had no idea what to expect when these three walked out on stage, and their bizarre combination of wailing operatic singing, stentorian drum programming, dark neo-classical arrangements and odd soundscapery ended up being one of my favorite things about the entire concert. Their weird kind of industrialized black metal-tinged prog sounded so strange and unique, then and now. So as part of my ongoing pursuit of more obscure black metal related offshoots for the deeper end of the C-Blast catalog, I tracked down all of their available releases in an effort to turn some newcomers on to Peccatum's surreal sound.
     2005 EP The Moribund People would prove to be one of Peccatum's most accomplished releases and their final recording, a three-song swan song featuring two terrific originals and a cover of Bathory's "For All Those Who Died". The originals are Peccatum's brand of avant-garde symphonic metal evolved into elegant prog-pop, still brimming with those recognizable black metal elements and Ihsahn's withering croak, but the music feels much better constructed than on previous releases. The title track is a stunningly catchy piece of orchestral-tinged prog with a killer hook and some great vocal melodies, while "A Penny's Worth Of Heart" blends in burbling electronica, skittering crackling beats and a simple, moody piano figure for a darker and tenser arrangement that hints at the band's ongoing love affair with trip-hop, while eventually leading into a furious metallic chorus that's as heavy as anything they've done prior. The Bathory cover is barely recognizable, swapping out the pounding heavy metal of the original for a sumptuous, jazz-flecked trip-hop interpretation , rendered through a haunting mix of Portishead-esque atmosphere and gorgeous darkwave that still manages to retain the overall apocalyptic feel of the original song. At least, right up to the point where the band suddenly swerves into a full-blown metallic attack, Ihsahn taking over the reins as he unleashes a thrashing black blast of galloping Nordic power. Easily one of the coolest and most creative covers of a Bathory song you're going to hear. An all too short listening experience, of course, but one that I've pulled out many times over the years, and a bittersweet reminder of how wonderfully weird and offbeat band was during their run. The disc also has a quicktime music video for the title track, apparently the only music video that Peccatum ever produced, a strange black and white Lynchian vision of ballet and bloodletting that's certainly worth a look if you're a fan of the band.
Track Samples:
Sample : PECCATUM-The Moribund People
Sample : For All Those Who Died
Sample : The Moribund People



PECCATUM   Lost In Reverie   CD   (The End)    7.98



     Finally stocking the remaining Peccatum titles that are still in print here at C-Blast. Known by most as the avant-garde side project of Emperor's Ihsahn, Peccatum featured him alongside wife Ihriel (aka Heidi Solberg Tveitan) and her brother Lord PZ exploring an offbeat mix of neo-classical sounds, dark prog rock, and black metal aesthetics. Much was made of the classic elements within Peccatum's sound, back when this project first emerged as a side project to Norwegian black metal heavyweights Emperor in the late 90s, but really Peccatum was Ihsahn's first foray into the sort of baroque prog rock that he would fully develop later under his own name. Peccatum wasn't exactly welcomed with open arms by the black metal crowd, who saw this as too indulgent and too weird, but they absolutely floored me when I first heard them, which was live as one of the openers for Emperor on their US tour in 1999. I had no idea what to expect when these three walked out on stage, and their bizarre combination of wailing operatic singing, stentorian drum programming, dark neo-classical arrangements and odd soundscapery ended up being one of my favorite things about the entire concert. Their weird kind of industrialized black metal-tinged prog sounded so strange and unique, then and now. So as part of my ongoing pursuit of more obscure black metal related offshoots for the deeper end of the C-Blast catalog, I tracked down all of their available releases in an effort to turn some newcomers on to Peccatum's surreal sound.
     The third album from Peccatum, 2004's Lost In Reverie saw the core duo of Ihsahn and Ihriel teaming up with Norwegian jazz drummer Knut Aalefjær, and also featured some additional vocals from Lord PZ and Einar Solberg of prog metallers Leprous. Just as complex and confounding as their other works, but more focused now that Ihsahn was focusing his attention exclusively to this project, Reverie delivered seven songs of piano-draped shadow-epics that continued to blend together shades of Emperor's bombast and Ihsahn's demonic croak with murky trip-hop influenced rhythms and hammering industrial drum machines, waves of classical ambience and cascading piano, with Ihriel's breathy singing usually at the heart of the music, her voice still somewhat reminiscent of Kate Bush at her most ghostly. And this stuff still holds up, though your appreciation for Peccatum's music will depend largely on your own predilection for prog and darkwave. This stuff is pretty bewitching though, like the gorgeous darkness of "In The Bodiless Heart" that fuses an infectious acoustic guitar and vocal melody to skittering electronica and bursts of chunky metallic guitar, and there are a few moments where the black metal influences take over, like the savage blasting heaviness that appears on songs like "Ihriel" and "Parasite My Heart", shattering the album's placid beauty with gales of windswept blastbeats, icy riffage and sinister serpentine grooves. But those moments of aggression are always tempered by something more atmospheric, shifting into another ghostly piano sequence, or soaring progged-out pop, or lush jazziness that flows from the Rhodes-like keys and expressive fusiony bass work on songs like "Veils Of Blue". This might have Peccatum's heaviest song ever, though, when they unleash the punishing flystruck industrial metal monstrosity "Stillness"; it's definitely the heaviest song on the album, with its French horns blasting over swells of orchestral might, as mechanized riffage grinds over top fractured electronics. Generally considered to be Peccatum's best work, Reverie has a similar post-black metal vibe as later Manes and Ulver, and clearly foreshadows the dark prog that Ihsahn would pursue under his own name after Peccatum ended, shot through with strikingly beautiful passages of dreamlike atmosphere. Comes in slipcase packaging.
Track Samples:
Sample : Black Star
Sample : Desolate Ever After
Sample : Parasite My Heart
Sample : Stillness



PELICAN   Arktika (ORANGE VINYL)   2 x LP   (Oblique)    26.00



     Originally available only as a digital download direct from the band, this powerful 2013 live performance from instrumental metallers Pelican captures the band in Saint Petersburg, Russia while on a European tour, and it's one of the better live recordings I've heard of theirs. Now available as a deluxe double LP set, Arktika is a terrific live document from these guys, featuring top-notch sound quality as Pelican constructs their architectural riffage across an entire set. The performance is mostly comprised of songs from more recent, post-Hydra Head releases, with a scattering of material drawn from What We All Come To Need, Ataraxia / Taraxis, Ephemeral, and Forever Becoming, though they do include a couple of older songs from City Of Echoes ("Dead Between The Walls") and their self-titled debut ("Mammoth") that appear at the close of the set. The band sounds titanic here, opening with the gradually unfolding grandeur of "The Creeper", then moving through rollicking, wall-rattling renditions of "Lathe Biosas" and "Deny The Absolute"; the latter soars even higher here than it did on the 7".
     As with all of their recent output, these songs pummel you with the best aspects of noisy, distorted 90's guitar rock plated with huge doses of metallic crunch, combining winding, almost proggy riffage and ethereal, chiming guitars, the heavier moments dropping into devastating chugfests and doom-laden atmosphere that can overtake some of the set's more thunderous tracks. The heaviest part of the set comes at the end, when Pelican deliver the two oldest songs, each one an epic of lockstep prog-sludge, crushing riffs bulldozing beneath their serpentine leads and intricate melodies. They've never sounded better, each song a masterful display of thunderous power and complex, emotional melodicism, as always rooted in the band's trademark interlocking riffage, twisting these songs into even darker and more threatening thunderheads across the final moments of the performance. Gorgeously presented, Arktika comes on colored vinyl and is packaged in a super-thick, heavyweight case-wrapped gatefold jacket.
Track Samples:
Sample : Immutable Dusk
Sample : Parasite Colony
Sample : The Creeper



PELICAN   Arktika (CREAM VINYL)   2 x LP   (Oblique)    26.00



     Originally available only as a digital download direct from the band, this powerful 2013 live performance from instrumental metallers Pelican captures the band in Saint Petersburg, Russia while on a European tour, and it's one of the better live recordings I've heard of theirs. Now available as a deluxe double LP set, Arktika is a terrific live document from these guys, featuring top-notch sound quality as Pelican constructs their architectural riffage across an entire set. The performance is mostly comprised of songs from more recent, post-Hydra Head releases, with a scattering of material drawn from What We All Come To Need, Ataraxia / Taraxis, Ephemeral, and Forever Becoming, though they do include a couple of older songs from City Of Echoes ("Dead Between The Walls") and their self-titled debut ("Mammoth") that appear at the close of the set. The band sounds titanic here, opening with the gradually unfolding grandeur of "The Creeper", then moving through rollicking, wall-rattling renditions of "Lathe Biosas" and "Deny The Absolute"; the latter soars even higher here than it did on the 7".
     As with all of their recent output, these songs pummel you with the best aspects of noisy, distorted 90's guitar rock plated with huge doses of metallic crunch, combining winding, almost proggy riffage and ethereal, chiming guitars, the heavier moments dropping into devastating chugfests and doom-laden atmosphere that can overtake some of the set's more thunderous tracks. The heaviest part of the set comes at the end, when Pelican deliver the two oldest songs, each one an epic of lockstep prog-sludge, crushing riffs bulldozing beneath their serpentine leads and intricate melodies. They've never sounded better, each song a masterful display of thunderous power and complex, emotional melodicism, as always rooted in the band's trademark interlocking riffage, twisting these songs into even darker and more threatening thunderheads across the final moments of the performance. Gorgeously presented, Arktika comes on colored vinyl and is packaged in a super-thick, heavyweight case-wrapped gatefold jacket.
Track Samples:
Sample : Immutable Dusk
Sample : Parasite Colony
Sample : The Creeper



PERSONAL BEST   Issue 5   MAGAZINE   (Personal Best)    14.99

Issue 5 IS CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE FOR ORDER

    New in stock. Always great to get a new issue of Lasse Marhaug's excellent zine Personal Best. The latest issue of his thick, perfect-bound avant rock/noise/art zine is packed with one hundred pages of well-written, conversational interviews, unsettling and imaginative imagery, and plenty of eye-bleeding weirdness that always touches on at least a few of C-Blast's exposed nerves. For fellow fans of the more extreme ends of the underground music/art scene, the standout features of issue number five include the lengthy Q&A with professional Italian pervert / power electronics maniac / scatological art criminal Nicola Vinciguerra, the guy behind the repulsive power electronics outfit Fecalove; Marhaug's interview explores every grimy corner of Vinciguerra's artistic obsessions, and includes lots of appropriately insane photography and examples of his original drawings, including some amazing illustrations of artists like Gerogerigegege, Pain Jerk, and Hijokaidan that Vinciguerra produced for his "Icons Of Noise" series. There's also big, fascinating conversation with Rudolf Eb.er of Runzelstirn & Gurgelstøck / Schimpfluch-Gruppe which makes for immersive reading, and an interview with experimental Japanese film-maker and C.C.C.C. collaborator Takashi Makino is a must-read for serious fans of the Japanese noise underground.
    Most intriguing to me, though, is the interview with a New Zealand weirdo rocker named Glen Stewart, who also records under the name Gfrenzy. I wasn't familiar with his various projects discussed here, but about a third of the way into the interview, it's revealed that this is the guy behind the amazing Devoid Of All Mercy project, who released a single album of utterly nightmarish "black metal" called Your Children Left With The Stranger around a decade ago, which still ranks as one of the creepiest goddamn things I've ever heard. His interview doesn't dig too deep into that particular project, but it's still a great read. The rest of issue five has other lengthy interviews with Argentinean experimental musician Anla Courtis (Reynols), the bewitching Norwegian avant folk artist Jenny Hval, and wraps up with a big conversation with Belgian art punk Dennis Tyfus of Ultra Eczema infamy, which also includes several pages of his own eye-melting artwork. As always, an engrossing and entertaining read.


PERSPEX FLESH   self-titled   12"   (Static Shock)    17.99



     New in stock. There's been some absolutely blitzoid hardcore punk coming out of the UK lately, and these Leeds maniacs are one of the best. I first stumbled across Perspex Flesh through their self-titled 12" that came out back in 2014, and was pummeled by this vicious ten-song mini-album; it sees the quartet belting out a blistering, noise-damaged strain of hardcore, super ugly and blown-out, their songs harsh and angular and edgy. I'd seen them frequently compared to the outre deathpunk of classic Rudimentary Peni in written reviews of the band's output, and you can definitely make out some of that sound in Perspex Flesh's dark mid-tempo punk, the vaguely claustrophobic vibe that seeps from the edges of their music, and the bizarre, somewhat macabre imagery found in their lyrics.
     That's only a part of their sound though, and these guys ultimately sound very contemporary, with an unhinged, discordant quality that nods towards the more psychotic fringes of classic American hardcore while jolting the blunt attack of these songs with abrasively mangled guitar and a sheen of nerve-fraying distortion that covers the entire recording. There's also the occasional cacophonic percussive assaults that show up on songs like "White Horse", where it suddenly sounds like they've got a gang of street mutants hammering on pieces of sheet metal somewhere in the background. There's a noise rock feel to some it as well, sometimes swinging into a slower, catchier riff fringed in dissonant ugliness, like the brooding, stomping anthem "Black Magic", and frontman Liam roars his lyrics through permanently clenched teeth for one of the most belligerent vocal performances I've heard in a while. Goddamn ripping stuff, tough and intense and malevolent, with a similar strung-out, discordant energy as classic psycho-core outfits like Mecht Mensch and Die Kreuzen at times; anyone who's been loving the sort of damaged, anti-social hardcore that's been coming out on labels like Iron Lung and La Vida Es Un Mus as of late should definitely check these guys out. Comes with printed lyric sheet, band name sticker on outer plastic sleeve, and download code insert.
Track Samples:
Sample : Prison Of Glass
Sample : Black Magic
Sample : White Horse



PERTURBATOR   Terror 404   CD   (Blood Music)    14.99



     We now have all three of Perturbator's re-mastered album reissues that just came out on Blood Music, available on CD for the first time, and it's an overdose of dark synthwave bliss. I've gotten completely hooked on the synthwave sound that's been growing over the past few years, but Perturbator is without a doubt my favorite. Makes sense that these reissues came out from Finnish label Blood Music, a label better known for releasing progressive and avant-garde metal works from the likes of Ihsahn, Sigh, Kauan and Whourkr; while this project is entirely electronic, its also some of the darkest synthwave out there, and has found mucho favor with the metal and dark industrial crowd. Like all synthwave, Perturbator (aka James Kent, son of the well-known British rock critic Nick Kent) heavily mines the world of classic 1980's-era electronic soundtracks and synthesizer music, drawing from the malevolent throb of classic Carpenter scores, the epic electronic orchestrations of Tangerine Dream, New Order's brooding synthpop, and the rich, glimmering ambience of Blade Runner-era Vangelis. But Kent synthesizes these influences better than just about anyone else I've been listening to, delivering these ominous, pulsating tracks with a heightened sense of dread and a more aggressive energy than most of his peers. Almost entirely instrumental, Perturbator albums will sometimes include a track or two of moody synthpop with guest vocals, but for the most part they play out like some amazing lost score to an obscure unearthed dystopian thriller from the mid-1980s, utterly captivating and an instant time-warp to the rain-drenched, neon-lit streets of my dreams.
     Originally released online in 2012, Terror 404 was the first album from Kent's Perturbator, an proudly wore its influences like a badge of honor. From the minimal black pulse of "Opening Credits" that echoed the feel of Carpenter's score for Halloween III, to the dark, dramatic synthwave that followed with tracks like "Terror 404", "Savage Streets" and "X-CaliBR8", Kent makes it clear exactly what kind of vibe he's trying to conjure here. And it works perfectly. Even this early on, Perturbator's menacing synthwave was some of the best stuff of its kind; it's not that hard to properly evoke a vintage 80's soundtrack feel, but Kent's songwriting and arrangements surpass much of what I've been hearing in the synthwave scene, skillfully building tension and bringing a narrative approach to how he constructs the album. He lays on the 80's video-sleaze nostalgia pretty thick compared to later works, with track titles like "John Holmes VHS Nightclub" and "Linnea Quigley Horror Workout", but that's fine with me, and he keeps the film samples to a bare minimum. The album features a guest appearance from fellow French synthwave producer Lueur Verte who contributes additional synths to the song "Mirage", and "Quigley" delivers a killer piece of New Order-esque pop. But for me, it's really all about those crushing, distorted doom-laden synths that rumble throughout the album's darker tracks, blasts of electronic malevolence situated among Perturbator's shadowy technoid rhythms and electro throwbacks. So great.
Track Samples:
Sample : X-Calibr8
Sample : Savage Streets
Sample : John Holmes VHS Nightclub



PERTURBATOR   I Am The Night   CD   (Blood Music)    14.99



     We now have all three of Perturbator's re-mastered album reissues that just came out on Blood Music, available on CD for the first time, and it's an overdose of dark synthwave bliss. I've gotten completely hooked on the synthwave sound that's been growing over the past few years, but Perturbator is without a doubt my favorite. Makes sense that these reissues came out from Finnish label Blood Music, a label better known for releasing progressive and avant-garde metal works from the likes of Ihsahn, Sigh, Kauan and Whourkr; while this project is entirely electronic, its also some of the darkest synthwave out there, and has found mucho favor with the metal and dark industrial crowd. Like all synthwave, Perturbator (aka James Kent, son of the well-known British rock critic Nick Kent) heavily mines the world of classic 1980's-era electronic soundtracks and synthesizer music, drawing from the malevolent throb of classic Carpenter scores, the epic electronic orchestrations of Tangerine Dream, New Order's brooding synthpop, and the rich, glimmering ambience of Blade Runner-era Vangelis. But Kent synthesizes these influences better than just about anyone else I've been listening to, delivering these ominous, pulsating tracks with a heightened sense of dread and a more aggressive energy than most of his peers. Almost entirely instrumental, Perturbator albums will sometimes include a track or two of moody synthpop with guest vocals, but for the most part they play out like some amazing lost score to an obscure unearthed dystopian thriller from the mid-1980s, utterly captivating and an instant time-warp to the rain-drenched, neon-lit streets of my dreams.
     Perturbator's second album naturally saw the Parisian synthwave artist further focusing and tightening up his sound, while remaining firmly rooted in that vintage 80s synth-soundtrack aesthetic. And it's one of the best dark synthwave albums that's come out since this style of electronic retro-futurism became a "thing", certainly a high point in his already impressive and growing catalog of releases. I Am The Night continues to combine ominous Carpenter/Tangerine Dream-esque synths and sinister sweeping melodies with a relentless four-on-the-floor beat and the occasional film sample used to dramatic effect. Tracks like "Retrogenesis" and the utterly punishing "I Am The Night" are furious dance floor annihilators, delivering a darker and more malevolent vibe, with massive electro hooks and synths so distorted that they rattle your goddamn bass bins; there are moments on Night like the Noir Deco collaboration "Technoir" where the synths are so heavy that it almost feels like a heavy metal riff. Other tracks like "Eclipse" evoke the pulsating dread of Carpenter's score for The Thing, or slip into gleaming, almost jazzy ambience a la Vangelis on "Nexus Six / Interlude". And while most of the material is purely instrumental, there's always at least one track where guest vocalists are used, and here we get two of 'em; featuring the soulful, breathy singing of Memory Ghost's Isabella Goloversic, "Naked Tongues" is a stunning piece of moody synthpop, and later Greta Link provides the vocals for the equally great "Desire", and both make you wish we could get an entire of Perturbator music in this vein. Other tracks draw elements from chiptune music and hammering technoid throb, or drift thorough solemn, introspective synthscapes, but mostly this is pure, driving, black-clad synthwave, a perfect soundtrack to committing night crimes and dangerous heists, pursuing androids or engaging in open warfare with savage neon-painted street mutants. Once again, Kent's pounding, nocturnal electro creates a dramatic, dangerous atmosphere that's leagues beyond most of the stuff coming out from the current synthwave scene. Highly recommended if you're a fan of this sort of sinister retro-synthesizer stuff.
Track Samples:
Sample : Retrogenesis
Sample : I Am the Night
Sample : Technoir



PESTE NOIRE   La Sanie Des Siècles - Panégyrique De La Dégénérescence   CD   (Transcendental Creations)    12.98



     Just got several older albums from these French "black metal hooligans" back in stock!
     Finally stocking the early works of provocative French black metal outfit Peste Noire, whose mix of ultra-raw black metal aesthetics, French nationalism, folkloric themes, punk-damaged pop filth and a savagely contrarian "fuck you" attitude continues to make 'em one of the most interesting bands to come out of the French black metal underground. With Transcendental Creations' reissue of Peste Noire's debut album La Sanie Des Siècles, we're introduced to some of the Peste Noire's earliest recordings; originally released on French label De Profundis in 2006, this eight-song album delivered a uniquely demented and distinctly French take on black metal, opening with a short, strange waltz lashed with a wailing guitar solo, flecked with droning background organ and the cymbal-splattered mid-paced tempos of drummer Niege of Alcest/Amesoeurs fame, who briefly played with the band during this period. But from there, La Sanie unleashes a furious squall of violent, low-fi blackness, "Le Mort Joyeux" kicking in with rumbling double bass and killer mournful guitar melodies, slipping into a super-catchy thrashing hook and in and out of those raging blastbeats and shrieking violent black metal, into eerie folk-tinged slower passages that echo ancient Gallic melodies beneath the murk. Throughout all of this, you can hear just how skilled the musicians are, despite the raw, low-fi nature of the recording and the bizarre songwriting choices; the guitar playing is fucking killer, matching these ferocious, catchy riffs with shredding solos and emotional melodies that are really effective. The vocals are equally deranged, often multi-tracked into intensely harsh, frantic screams, a palpable anguish felt in the way that those screams rasp and crack over the band's music.
     Some of the best stuff here includes "Spleen", fusing a classic early black metal sound to an incredible hook, intensely catchy and colored by tastefully used acoustic guitars that bring more of that folky feel while also kicking into a terrifically infectious metallic riff, a fierce metallic chug fused to ominous, twisted poppiness. Elsewhere, they'll drape their ragged blackened anthems with droning pipe organ, or push that acoustic guitar way up front in the mix. Those idiosyncratic choices distinguish Peste Noire's music above so much other raw black metal; they can unleash the most malevolent of buzzing, swarming black metal hatefulness, then at the drop of a hat slip in a gorgeous classical guitar interlude or a flurry of flamenco-style notes or an infectious jangly melody , or drift into a brief but supremely creepy passages of blackened rumble and liturgical chanting, or the sound of French church choirs raising their voices in Hallelujah. The songs themselves are sprawling, multi-chambered things, sometimes stretching out for up to twelve minutes at a time as they wind through a multitude of different sections, with the madness of "Retour De Flamme (Hooligan Black Metal)" giving birth to a delirious epic of wailing female operatic vocals, bluesy slide guitar and classic metallic power, all within the first minute; once it gets going though, it transforms into one of the most powerful songs on the album, the almost jazz-informed bass guitar leading this through continuously changing blackened riffery and soaring leads. On "Dueil Angoisseus", the music begins with the soft sound of rainfall while a moody guitar instrumental slowly unfolds, but then this too blasts into another striking folky hook and driving, rocking anthemic black metal. And it closes with the trippy, terrifying "Des Médecins Malades Et Des Saints Séquestrés", starting off with another flurry of frenetic shred as each instrument enters one by one, then rumbles forth on top of a massive old-school metal attack, almost NWOBHM-esque as the song charges forward with a powerful mid-paced gallop and the sinister blackened riff takes hold, those ghostly pipe organs emerging with their mesmeric gothic warble, the song shaping into this killer menacing epic.
     These early Peste Noire works are still some of the most vicious and fascinating French black metal albums I've heard, super creative and unique while remaining thoroughly misanthropic in attitude, all recommended listening for enthusiasts of uncompromising black art. Includes an eight page booklet that includes an interview with the band, albeit en francais.
Track Samples:
Sample : Spleen
Sample : Le mort joyeux
Sample : ÿþDes médecins malades et des saints séquestrés



PESTE NOIRE   Folkfuck Folie   CD   (Transcendental Creations)    12.98



     Just got several older albums from these French "black metal hooligans" back in stock!
     The French underground has long been a breeding ground for some of the strangest and most otherworldly-sounding black metal, and the reclusive cult outfit Peste Noire remains one of France's most anomic, anti-social purveyors of blackened sonic weirdness. On their 2007 album Folkfuck Folie, the band's second full-length, Peste Noire offered their weirdest blast yet, eleven songs of mysterious folkiness and raw, chaotic black metal possessed with a brilliant way with melody, which made this often ear-bleeding abrasiveness often bizarrely catchy. The band was also talented at producing some supremely creepy abstract soundscapery as well; opening song "L'Envol Du Grabataire (Ode À Famine)" unfolds into an eerie buzz of doleful electric guitar and nocturnal murmurs, distant chittering sounds echoing ominously against a backdrop of starless night. As a kind of martial folk slowly enters, the band begins to mix in shredding blackened tremolo buzz with that folky strum, the thud of hide-wrapped drums booming in the distance, shrieking vocals piercing a mist like veil of murky distortion, all creating this hauntingly pretty yet quite abrasive atmosphere that sets the stage for Folkfuck's deranged atmosphere. And that kicks into high gear with the raging, demented black metal blast of "Chute Pour Une Culbute", a ferocious assault of roughshod black metal violence where woozy slide guitar-like sounds mingle with the jangling guitar chords and bursts of heroic guitar shred, the song's main hook almost sounding like something from some early 80's indie rock album, more Mascis than De Mysteriis at times, but still quite dark and aggressive, slipping into some killer thrashy rifffage later in the song.
     And as the album continues, the songs continue to move from that jangling, melodic black metal into further weirdness, "D'un Vilain" introduced by the sound of a shotgun being cocked and fired, the sound of which then proceeds to ring out percussively throughout the song's assault of blackened thrash; "Condamné À La Pondaison (Légende Funèbre)" suddenly swerves out of its strange mix of halting folky metal and cracked thrash into a middle passage of monstrous rumbling ambient muck, before eventually reemerging into another killer blackened melody on the other end. Again, the guitar playing is fucking amazing, using all kinds of unorthodox arrangements and playing styles to create this unusual, idiosyncratic black metal, with lots of weirdly mathy riffing and spiraling leads that hint at a mix of classical and even flamenco influences, but there's also lots of ferocious galloping riffs that are like some souped-up, demented version of classic NWOBHM. The bass playing also stands out, much busier and more expressive than what you usually hear in black metal without being overbearing or distracting. Other highlights include "Maleiçon", which starts off as a weird spoken word piece, a menacing narrative being spun in French while the baleful cry of wolves echoes in the distance, and tortured moans and murky ambience drifts deep in the mix, like some twisted Caedmon record, before suddenly erupting into regal black metal; and on "Extrait Radiophonique D'Antonin Artaud", the whole track is a surreal environmental recording of someone screaming shrilly while objects are slammed and shifted, a surreal, almost Nurse With Wound-esque piece of sound art. Still holds up these many years later as an amazing black metal album, and still one of my favorite things that this band has ever released - fans of Ghost Kommando will love this, as there's a shared ramshackle poppiness that both bands have. Highly recommended.
Track Samples:
Sample : Paysage Mauvais
Sample : La Fin Del Secle
Sample : ÿþCondamné à Lq Pondaison (Légende Funèbre)



PESTE NOIRE   L'Ordure À L'État Pur   CD   (La Mesnie Herlequin)    12.98












Track Samples:
Sample : ÿþCasse, Pèches, Fractures Et Traditions
Sample : Sale Famine von Valfoutre
Sample : La Condi Hu



PHLEBOTOMIZED   Immense Intense Suspense / Skycontact   2 x CD   (Hammerheart)    17.99



     Total Dutch death metal weirdness. Whenever anyone talks about the strangest death metal bands of the late 1980s, the name Phlebotomized eventually comes up. Formed around 1989 as Bacterial Disease but then changing their name to Phlebotomized in 1990, these oddballs started out playing a really warped brand of doom/death that featured unusual for the time instrumentation (violins and synthesizers), odd, meandering arrangements, and loads of suffocatingly gloomy atmosphere. By the time that their 1994 debut album Immense Intense Suspense rolled around, though, Phlebotomized had morphed into an even stranger mix of offbeat prog rock and crushing death metal that was even more unique. Out of print for years, much of their entire catalog was recently reissued by Hammerheart, including both full lengths 1994's Immense Intense Suspense and 1997's Skycontact as a double disc set, and if you're into the more offbeat stuff that was coming out of the European death metal scene back then, this stuff is a must-hear.
     Defying categorization, Immense Intense Suspense blended folk instrumentation, synthesizers and an almost ethereal vibe with the band's crushing, doom-laden metal, the nine tracks continuously shifting between monstrous chugging death metal and bursts of ferocious thrash and softer passages that have an almost prog-folk feel. It's definitely an odd sound that can be pretty jarring at times, but it also has an otherworldly vibe that continues to bring me back. That mix of airy folkiness and spacey ambience and bulldozing death metal is just so odd; violins and synths drift over the brutal, chugging heaviness, and other sounds appear throughout the rest of the songs, adding what sounds like xylophone, chimes, vibraphone, trumpets and pipe organ into the mix, with the songs forming from off-kilter riffage, volleys of cyclonic blastbeat chaos, and some seriously pummeling, rocking grooves. There's stuff like the intro to "Dubbed Forswearer" where they slowly open with a heartbreakingly sorrowful funerary violin, slowly building a moving, mournful atmosphere before the band kicks in with the complex, blasting death, and it sounds seriously powerful. And they make good use of sung vocals alongside the guttural roars, dropping in at one point to almost tease at a dark, poppy vocal hook before everything erupts again. There was nothing else quite like what Phlebotomized was doing on this album, and while the execution sometimes outpaced their abilities, this is still a spectacularly weird death metal album, one of my favorites from this era.
     But that was nothing compared to what Phlebotomized would return with. Second album Skycontact doesn't even look like a death metal record, what with its trippy album art that looks more like something from a psychedelic techno single, and the new, equally psychedelic-looking logo. And their sound had mutated even more wildly, evolving from the folk-flecked proggy doomdeath of their debut into a crazed kind of death n' roll, fusing an arsenal of hard rockin', ass-shaking riffs and catchy-as-plague stoner hooks with washes of Hawkwindian synth and spacey effects. Nope, they'd fully mutated into something else by this point, but it was still thoroughly weird. Often slipping into the sort of proggy interludes and dreamy balladry carried over from the previous album, and splitting the vocals between that monstrous guttural roar and soulful crooning. And there's some great stuff here, from the chunky downtuned space metal of opener "StoleShowSoul" and the funk/jazz bass guitar breaks that appear amid the song's thrashier moments, to the Moogy keyboards that pepper the album, with a wealth of catchy, crunchy 90's style alt-rock hooks winding through the entire disc. Some of these hooks almost sound like an uber-heavier Gumball at times, or like older In Flames at their poppiest, but then that metallic power-pop will transform into a crushing death metal riff or churning blast of grinding chaos. You can bet that death metal purists turned their noses up at Phlebotomized's evolution. And it featured one of their most ambitious songs, closing with the four-part epic "I Hope You Know"; this twenty-minute epic weaves a soaring, almost cinematic atmosphere, moving fluidly between passages of anthemic instrumental metal and heart-tugging melody, swells of bright orchestral majesty giving way to sprawling dark progginess and almost Soundgarden-esque psych-metal, with bits of gloomy folk-flecked gothiness and killer soundtracky synthscapes. It would end up being their final release, as Phlebotomized broke up not long after it came out, but Skycontact remains one of the most unusual and original albums to come from the Dutch metal underground, boasting prog ambitions that rivaled the likes of Edge Of Sanity and Pan-Thy-Monium.
     Comes in a gatefold digipack with a sixteen page booklet featuring liner notes, lyrics and archival material.
Track Samples:
Sample : Stoleshowsoul
Sample : I Hope You Know: a Cry In July/Never Lose Hope/Imagine This/Out To You
Sample : Dizz-Tance (Bonustrack)
Sample : In Search of Tranquillity Subtle Disbalanced Liquidity
Sample : Immense Intense Suspense Barricade
Sample : Dubbed Forswearer



PHLEBOTOMIZED   Preach Eternal Gospels   12"   (Hammerheart)    17.98



     Phlebotomized! Say it with me! One of the weirdest bands to ever come out of the Dutch death metal underground, Phlebotomized are finally seeing their back catalog coming back into print, and not a moment too soon. I've been wanting to get my hands on this stuff for years. Along with that killer recent double disc set collecting the band's two full-lengths (also on Hammerheart, and also on this week's list), I also snagged the brand new reissue of Phlebotomized's 1993 EP Preach Eternal Gospels, here available as a one-sided 12". This had actually already been reissued not too long ago as part of a double LP set that came out on the boutique reissue label The Crypt, but that version has since gone out of print.
     While Preach only features five tracks and clocks in at just under a half hour, it's a punishing piece of outré early 90s death metal, blending the band's early grueling doomdeath sound with weird keyboard accompaniment and a generally prog-damaged sensibility that produced an unorthodox, unsettling sound that really weirded out listeners back when it came out. The grisly, amoebic sleeve art from Kristian Wåhlin and song titles like "Ataraxia" and "Mustardgas" offer the expected morbid kicks, but Phlebotomized really warped their sound with their unusual, ethereal keyboard textures, as well as utilizing an odd, almost fusiony bass guitar sound, bizarrely abrupt tempo changes, and a confusional, baroque songwriting approach that has these songs stumbling and crawling somewhat haphazardly, moving in off-kilter and unpredictable directions like multi-limbed mutations clambering through cobwebbed chambers within some monstrous funhouse labyrinth. This early stuff from Phlebotomized drew some comparisons to the equally avant-garde death metal of Pan.Thy.Monium back when it came out, which is certainly an apt comparison, but these guys definitely had their own thing going on, with some wickedly atonal shredding and frequent use of sorrowful synth-violins and passages of dark folkiness threaded throughout the EP. Their offbeat tendencies are never at the expense of sheer heaviness, though; this stuff is bone-crushingly heavy, with loads of pulverizing slo-mo doomdeath shot through with fucked-up arrhythmic grind a la Disembowelment, and serpentine chugfests infested with utterly putrid, gut-rupturing death growls. Awesome. This latest 12" reissue features the entire EP on the a-side, while the reverse has a killer-looking screen-print/etching.
Track Samples:
Sample : Tragic Entanglement
Sample : Preach Eternal Gospels
Sample : Mustardgas



PIG HEART TRANSPLANT   For Mass Consumption   LP   (Iron Lung Records)    15.98



    Now available as a limited-edition LP, with the same track listing as the CD version.
    When he's not flaying listeners alive with surgically precise powerviolence as one half of blastcore duo Iron Lung, Jon Kortland spends his time assembling gruesome power electronics assaults, pummeling slo-mo industrial sludge and desaturated ambient fragments with his solo outfit Pig Heart Transplant, who returns here with new album For Mass Consumption. This newest chunk of torturous, terrifying industrial punishment barrels over the listener with some of the most grueling industrial sludge I've heard from this project yet, though there's some stuff in here that borders on the cinematic when Kortland breaks out one of his super-short synthesizer pieces. And it's all super short, actually; the whole album is maddeningly made up of forty-five second tracks, twenty-eight of 'em, so the whole thing is constantly churning through one sonic attack after another, almost demanding an immediate replay to absorb all of this stuff. The core of Pig Heart Transplant's sound has long been rooted in a pummeling, noise-damaged heaviness influenced by the abject sludge of Cop / Filth-era Swans, but Kortland distorts and deforms his repetitious dirges into an immensely abrasive blast of sound that ends up mutating into something gnarlier. Each of these tracks lurches between that grinding distorted dirge and more experimental pieces that range from monotonous electronic drones to extreme over-modulated ear-hate and bouts of pummeling pistoning sheet-metal abuse, the monstrous vocals bellowing through the cracked and crumbling noisescapes. The distortion levels are pushed into ridiculous extremes, emitting waves of pulsating static reminiscent of certain strains of death industrial, as the sound threatens to disintegrate beneath the sheer corrosiveness of that distortion, blasts of caustic throb emanating from the boiling guts of some of these tracks like a particularly malignant Brighter Death Now recording. But Kortland also employs the occasional blast of excoriating No Wave guitar noise or eerie, blown-out synthesizer melody that will suddenly focus the crawling chrome-skinned horror into something more tangibly human. Even then, the obsessively brief nature of these decollated tracks makes this a jarring listen. A rumbling, misanthropic mass of monstrous pneumatic violence, one of the more challenging releases from Pig Heart Transplant, with more of that Feeding style of minimal typography that reminds me a little of the Young God aesthetic.
Track Samples:
Sample : Safe
Sample : Drug
Sample : Dirt
Sample : Acts
Sample : 1980



PORTAL   Outre (Oxblood Vinyl)   LP   (Hells Headbangers)    19.99



    A new 2015 vinyl reissue of Portal's second album, remastered exclusively for this release and with a slightly reworked album layout.
   Up till now, Portal's Outre mind-melting second album of avant-garde death metal had only been released on vinyl in Australia, in a super-limited run on Obsidian Records, but its back on wax this time courtesy of Hells Headbangers, presented in a gatefold jacket with new alternative cover art and pressed on heavy vinyl. Here's my old write-up on the original Cd release:
    The Australian death metal band's previous release Seepia was a brilliantly disturbed assault of cyclonic death, an organic hateful sound that felt like I was hearing something oozing out of another dimension into our own as all of the instruments seemed to melt together into a trance inducing smear of atonal riffing, buzzing guitars seemingly sliding in and out of tune, gloomy glacial doom, and demonic guttural invocations. Seepia seeped dread, and was the closest thing I've ever heard to capturing Lovecraft's cosmic horror in the context of death metal. Everything about this band screamed weirdness, with members named Aphotic Mote, The Curator, and Horror Illogium, who wore black executioners hoods and in the case of The Curator, an ridiculously oversized witches hat that completely obscured his face. Now Portal are back, and they've crafted an even more oppressive and atmospheric dive into swirling chaos with Outre. The album features surreal artwork from artist Jeff Lowe depicting the "Clockfather", with a booklet that includes additional freakish visions and lyrics. The eight songs on Outre blend together into an amorphous blackness, hallucinogenic technical death metal with slippery, filth-covered riffs inverted and twisted into themselves, the riffs crawling through a thick murky ambience of effects and distortion. The grunting, growling vocals are likewise buried in the mix, heard as horrific subterranean mutterings reciting bizarre verses through Portal's muddy vortex. Melodies are stretched out, warped and melted, and the drumming alternately plodding and blasting with little warning, creating an endless seasick vibe. Imagine hearing Morbid Angel and Gorguts melted down into formless ooze, laced with grinding industrial rhythms, otherworldly smears of droning synthesizer, crushing doom being spun slowly backwards, sudden eruptions of harsh chaotic guitars, and swimming through a noxious, suffocating mire. Total genius. One of the creepiest, most fucked up, psychedelic and unearthly sounding death metal albums that I've picked up.
Track Samples:
Sample : Black Houses
Sample : Moil
Sample : Omnipotent Crawling Chaos



PORTAL   Seepia (Oxblood Vinyl)   LP   (Hells Headbangers)    19.99



    A new 2015 vinyl reissue of Portal's second album -here's our old review of this record from the last time we had it in stock:
   Currently the only available version of the debut album from Australia's bizarro black/death metal technicians Portal, this limited edition LP of Seepia comes in a thick full color gatefold jacket with slightly different artwork from the CD release.
   This album blew a lot of minds when it was reissued through Profound Lore last year. If you've been paying attention to their output lately, Profound Lore has been consistently releasing some of the most exciting, surrealistic death and black metal in existence, and they've been flooring us with every single release we've gotten in from them. This beautiful reissue of Portal's Seepia is one of the first releases we heard from Profound Lore, and it's taken us awhile to finally list this in the Crucial Blast store, but if you're a fan of truly demented, mind-bending death metal and you haven't pick up this disc yet, you seriously need to check this out immediately! Seepia had been out of print for awhile, but now it's presented in a beautiful, eerie looking 4-panel gatefold jacket with spot-varnish printing on the cover, and comes with a full color insert booklet. The closest reference point for Portal would probably be the avant-angularity of Gorgut's legendary Obscura album, but this is even more fucked up, if you can believe it. Taking their brutal death metal riffs and blastbeat-heavy drums and bestial vocals and contorts the assault into a hyper chaotic blizzard of twisted, tangled arrangements and trance inducing riffs and stuttering rhythms, infested with amazingly fucked up sounding lead guitars that squiggle and shred all over the place. The music is ferociously frenetic and dense, every possible area of sound filled with warped guitars and impossibly complex drumming figures and horrific howling feedback.
   Psychotic, psychedelic death metal, performed by faceless entities in nightmarishly exaggerated black cloaks, and creating a effectively disorientating effect comparable to sitting in between multiple stereos playing an assortment of skipping Beherit, Mayhem, Incantation, and Arkon Infaustus CDs all at the same time. Despite the complete lack of structure, Portal summon up a dense, hypnotic storm of terrifying death metal abstraction that sounds like a Lovecraftian drug nightmare coalescing into flesh. Highly recommended!
Track Samples:
Sample : Track 2



PROFANE GRACE   Cast In The Mold Of The Ancients   CD   (Memento Mori)    11.98



     This 2003 album on German label Memento Mori was one of the last releases from the cult death industrial project Profane Grace, one of several projects from Ixithra of Profanatica, Demoncy, Crimson Moon, and Incursus; after this, the project would go dormant for nearly a decade, not returning until 2010's Nocturnal Omniscience. Profane Grace has always been one of my favorite of Ixithra's many projects, producing a very strange strain of dark post-industrial ambience that reached a new level of overall creep-out with Cast In The Mold. The album delivers a kind of mausoleum ambience draped in 80's-style cinematic synth sounds and woven into elliptic, droning mini-symphonies of dank funerary drift, and featured contributions from Magus Wampyr Daoloth (Raism / Rotting Christ).
     Like a lot of stuff on Memento Mori, it's something of a dated sound, but man do I love that sound: there are plenty of moments on here that have a distinct Tangerine Dream-like feel, other than the rattling chains and blurts of bleary guitar drenched in delay that echo through the depths, and the raspy, goblinoid cackles and screeches that sound out of the distant, shadow-infested corners of the mix. More than anything though, it heavily features the mix of Cold Meat-style death industrial and dark ambient aesthetics that marked the later Profane Grace output, the twelve tracks ranging from the witchy, moldering ambience of the opener "Beyond The Sphere Of Eternity" that sort of resembles an Aghast outtake, to the looping reverberant drones, rhythmic murk and liturgical voices that circle the blackness of "Cast In The Mold Of The Ancients", and the slow-motion cacophony and rattling spectral percussion that echoes throughout "Descent Into Primordial Chaos"'s demonic driftscape. Spoken-word passages are threaded throughout the album, that along with the frequent appearance of booming tympani, give parts of this a ritualistic feel; but Ixithra's raspy, muted snarls and gasps are more prominent, and offer a tenuous connection between this and his black metal material. Like most of the stuff in this vein, it can be pretty melodramatic, but that's all part of the appeal for me, blending an old-school horror-synth soundtrack vibe with mesmeric primitive industrial rituals and a cavernous ambience, sometimes slipping into monstrous vignettes that center around the sort of ghastly keyboard-heavy weirdness that I loved about the later Abruptum albums, the whole atmosphere growing more horrific and hallucinatory as Ancients unfolds. When it's at it's best, though, Profane Grace is capable of summoning a ghastly graveyard ambience that's as effectively chilling as the likes of Aghast and later Funerary Call.
Track Samples:
Sample : When Only Dark Suns Rise And Set
Sample : Sanctum Of Desolation II
Sample : Descent Into Primordial Chaos



PROVOCATIVE RITUALS   II   ART BOOK - SLIM   (Black Horizons)    14.99



   Here's the second issue of this beautifully assembled, 6" by 6" zine from the folks behind Black Horizons. Housed in a painted metallic silver envelope, Provocative Rituals II continues to explore the subterranean interests that fuel the label, this time focusing on an array of original artwork and written work from a mix of artists both aligned with Black Horizons and otherwise. Sixty pages, professionally printed on a mix of different textured paper stocks, part art-zine and part philosophical chapbook, with all of the different material relating to the overarching theme of the issue, "Blood". You get artwork from Sherri Higgins, Joel Danielsson, Emme Ya's Edgar Kerval, and French artist Maxime Taccardi, who uses his own blood in his painting and illustrative work; there's nine pages of material from Taccardi featured here, all of which is amazing. The issue also contains a portion of Burton Watson's translation of The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Chapters, surrealistic collage art that folds out into multi-panel triptychs, and the sleazy microfiction of Marcus Labonte's "The Sweetest Eyes"; a series of drawings from Jackson Holbrook that look like what Stu Mead might have come up with if he had been enlisted to do Barker's Tapping The Vein; an interesting discussion on black metal and neo-folk aesthetics with the minds behind the Amarantos zine; nightmarish art from Rudolf Eb. er (Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock); live photos of black noise / death industrial outfits Trepaneringsritualen and Sutekh Hexen; hideously erotic collage art from Genevieve Ryoko Larson; and more, all with an emphasis on erotic imagery, malevolent surrealism, and extreme sonic art. In other words, right up my alley. Published in a limited edition of one hundred copies.


PRURIENT   Time's Arrow   CASSETTE   (Hydra Head)    9.50



    Just dug up some remaining copies of the limited edition cassette version of this Prurient EP...
   The follow-up companion piece to Prurient's controversial Bermuda Drain, the Time's Arrow Ep continues in the same vein of crepuscular electronica and cold synth dread that ran through that album, offering up more of Dominick Fernow's alluring fusion of malevolent darkwave and grim industrial sounds.
    The a-side is made up of the title track and an epilogue. Rattling drum loops cruise beneath glowing black synthesizers and Fernow's eerie spoken word narration about infamous Hollywood murder victim Elizabeth Short, also known as the "Black Dahlia", the song moving horizontally as new glimmering electronic melodies and lush chordal shadow are continuously draped over this sleek industrial darkwave track. It's like a bastard fusion of something from Tangerine Dream's brilliant score to Risky Business and Floodland-era Sisters Of Mercy. Which would explain why it's one of the best things I've heard all year. I could care less about all of the bellyaching I've seen over Prurient's recent music; this stuff sounds amazing, the sounds pooling across my ears and brain like liquid blackness, icy and driving and merciless. The track that follows is titled "Time's Arrow (Unsolved)" and is basically what would have appeared as a b-side remix. The rhythm is rougher, the sound slightly more jagged, but it's still mesmerizing and jet-black.
    Over on the second side, we get three different odds and ends. The first, "Let's Make A Slave (De-Shelled)" is an alternate version of a song off the recent Bermuda Drain album. Exponentially more savage than the original, here the blackened electronica is penetrated by brutal high end feedback and skull-damaging noise as well as variations in the vocal track. "Maskless Face" is, I believe, exclusive to this Ep. Pounding drums alternate with controlled blasts of noise, and Fernow howls a litany of threats and demands; it's the closest to power electronics that we get on this record. The instrumental piece "Slavery In The Bahamas" is also new to this disc, a vicious mash-up of junk noise and fractured high-speed rhythms that at a couple of points seems like it's about the reform into some sort of spastic drum n' bass attack, but it never quite gets there. After a few minutes of that sputtering chaos, it melts down into a field of pure black electroshock, laying down waves of roaring metallic noise, feedback and ominous guitar-like drones over a sea of crackling, smoking distortion.


PRYAPISME   Futurologie   CD   (Apathia)    15.98



     More multi-colored mutant musical madness from this awe-inspiring, cat-obsessed French blast-prog outfit. Although Pryapisme's latest aural mindfuck Futurologie is being labeled as a new EP, fans should note that this release ends up clocking in at over forty-five minutes, due to the epic last track that makes up over half the disc's running time. The first eleven tracks are all separate parts of a larger piece titled "Petit Traité de Futurologie sur l'Homo Cretinus Trampolinis (et son annexe sur les nageoires caudales)"; once again, these guys throw a mind-boggling array of sounds and styles into their frenetic attack, moving from heavenly harps and tribal rhythms that come together in a kind of delirious instrumental pop riddled with 8-bit electronics, which then bursts into killer chiptune metal and weird Nintendo-fueled hardcore, splattered with crazed breakcore rhythms and bizarre samples. The first few minutes are totally brain-scrambling, but it just gets more crazed from there, hurtling into stretches of weird prettiness with what sounds like Japanese folk melodies being played on banjo amid skittering electronica and swells of Morricone-esque majesty, blaring noir-esque horns howling over mutant dubstep, jazz fusion keyboards whipped into a frenzy over infectious old-school breakbeats, blasts of awesome rumbling orchestral drone and monstrously garbled free-jazz blowing, parts that sound like a Danny Elfman score at his darkest and most menacing, even slipping into a murderous disco groove on part "IX" that sounds like Goblin teaming up with a thrash metal guitarist.
     It's an insane hyper-speed cuisinart blast of orchestral instruments and heavy percussion, violent chiptune-driven grindcore, eerie instrumental prog rock, jaw harp and western twang laid out over hypnotic tribal drums, calypso sounds and steel drums spewed out in an obsessively composed spazz-symphony. The sound of late 80's era video game soundtracks play heavily into Pryapisme's maniacal blast-prog, and is one of the constant threads running through these hundred-mile-per-hour genrefucking freak-outs, alongside the recurring bursts of cybernetic grindcore. It's also almost entirely instrumental; what little vocals there are on Futurologie mainly show up in the form of robotic chatter or grandiose chorales. It's fucking awesome, but such an utterly breathless blast into musical madness that anyone but the most hardcore fans of Naked City / Mr Bungle / Genghis Tron / Igorrr / Web Of Mimicry style weirdness might find it hopelessly migraine-inducing.
     And then there's the second half of the disc. A twenty-three minute "bonus" orchestral version of the EP that features more or less the same music, but in symphonic form - while the arrangements are largely the same, they transform it into something essentially new, an often gorgeous, sometimes macabre piece of rapidly changing, hyper-complex orchestral music that swoops and soars like some mad cinematic soundtrack, the band aided by guest musicians on contrabass and bassoon. A little like hearing Elfman or maybe Howard Shore on a serious sugar high, perhaps, careening through a myriad of compositional ideas in madcap fashion and moving at breakneck speed. And though there's only about a half dozen people playing this stuff, the sound they manage to create is huge.
     Comes in DVD-style digipack packaging.
Track Samples:
Sample : XII
Sample : VI
Sample : IX
Sample : III



PYRAMIDS   A Northern Meadow   CD   (Profound Lore)    13.98



    We now have the deluxe, ultra-hefty vinyl edition in stock, as well as a restock of the digipack CD version.
    Has it really been seven years since the last time we heard a full-length from Pyramids? Sure, this ever-morphing ensemble headed by visionary musician R. Loren has continued to put out a steady stream of splits and collaborations with the likes of Nadja, Wraiths, Mamiffer and Horseback in the years since their stunning self-titled debut came out on Hydra Head, but A Northern Meadow is in fact the first stand-alone full length Pyramids release since 2008. And it's amazing. I loved the debut, which blew me away when it came out, a mysterious and multi-faceted blast of soaring melody and alien textures, gorgeously arranged vocal melodies and waves of crushing guitar that fell somewhere in between prog rock, black metal and the heaviest strains of dreampop, but which ultimately sounded totally unique. And their various splits and collabs have been fantastic as well, some of it reaching even higher levels of otherworldly beauty and deeper realms of darkened, crushing heaviness. But on the band's latest, Pyramids delivers what may be their most focused and seamless work, resulting in one of the best dark prog albums that's come out so far this year.
    It's also some of the most gorgeous stuff that Pyramids has done. When that first song kicks in with its mix of keening Thom Yorke-esque crooning, blackened tremolo riffing and tricked-out prog rock arrangements, I'm in heaven. The music is a perfect balance of violent energy and complex beauty, opening with a stunning blast of intricate, almost shoegazey sound that obliterates the boundaries of genre. And as Meadow unfolds, that sound grows more malevolent, finding its way from the complex beauty and power of "In Perfect Stillness, I’ve Only Found Sorrow" to the seething black metal-isms of "The Substance Of Grief Is Not Imaginary", a song that resembles a strangely pretty version of Blut Aus Nord's convoluted, avant-garde black metal. Which makes sense, seeing as how Loren and his band mates are joined by Blut Aus Nord's Vindsval for much of the album. He's part of an impressive guest roster on the album, joined by experimental electronic artist William Fowler Collins and Colin Marston from Gorguts / Behold The Arctopus / Krallice. This formidable crew sculpts the album into a kind of dark, pop-flecked prog rock, and as it continues, that sound is further fleshed out with heavier undercurrents and lush electronic backdrops. The black metal elements recur throughout the songs, but frequently untangle themselves from the contorted riffage and blast beats and soaring vocals to coalesce into the most heart-rending of melodic hooks. It often spills out into sprawls of immersive synthesizer and lush ambient textures, bits of industrial abrasion seeping into the drumming and electronics, the songs woven from complex rhythmic interplay and layered melodies that continue to surprise and stir the soul with each revisit. "My Father, Tall As Goliath" is dark prog-pop sorcery, while "Indigo Birds" disappears into a breathtaking kosmische middle that channels the most epic of 70's space music, before swarming back into more of that labyrinthine riffery. The heavier-than-thou may scoff at the gorgeous singing that sits at the forefront of these songs, but this is still heavy, heavy stuff, much of it amongst the heaviest Pyramids music I've heard so far.
    Stunning stuff. There's a similar enigmatic art-rock vibe as stuff like Time Of Orchids and Kayo Dot, but the metallic elements are much more prominent, specifically the black metal influences that inflame Meadow's more furious moments. If you're a fan of the previous Pyramids output, I can't imagine that you won't flip over this. It's a Pretty confident saying it's the strongest music the band has brought us yet. Highly recommended.
Track Samples:
Sample : The Earth Melts Into Red Gashes Like the Mouths of Whales
Sample : My Father, Tall As Goliath
Sample : Indigo Birds



PYRAMIDS   A Northern Meadow   LP   (Profound Lore)    34.98



    We now have the deluxe, ultra-hefty vinyl edition in stock, as well as a restock of the digipack CD version.
    Has it really been seven years since the last time we heard a full-length from Pyramids? Sure, this ever-morphing ensemble headed by visionary musician R. Loren has continued to put out a steady stream of splits and collaborations with the likes of Nadja, Wraiths, Mamiffer and Horseback in the years since their stunning self-titled debut came out on Hydra Head, but A Northern Meadow is in fact the first stand-alone full length Pyramids release since 2008. And it's amazing. I loved the debut, which blew me away when it came out, a mysterious and multi-faceted blast of soaring melody and alien textures, gorgeously arranged vocal melodies and waves of crushing guitar that fell somewhere in between prog rock, black metal and the heaviest strains of dreampop, but which ultimately sounded totally unique. And their various splits and collabs have been fantastic as well, some of it reaching even higher levels of otherworldly beauty and deeper realms of darkened, crushing heaviness. But on the band's latest, Pyramids delivers what may be their most focused and seamless work, resulting in one of the best dark prog albums that's come out so far this year.
    It's also some of the most gorgeous stuff that Pyramids has done. When that first song kicks in with its mix of keening Thom Yorke-esque crooning, blackened tremolo riffing and tricked-out prog rock arrangements, I'm in heaven. The music is a perfect balance of violent energy and complex beauty, opening with a stunning blast of intricate, almost shoegazey sound that obliterates the boundaries of genre. And as Meadow unfolds, that sound grows more malevolent, finding its way from the complex beauty and power of "In Perfect Stillness, I’ve Only Found Sorrow" to the seething black metal-isms of "The Substance Of Grief Is Not Imaginary", a song that resembles a strangely pretty version of Blut Aus Nord's convoluted, avant-garde black metal. Which makes sense, seeing as how Loren and his band mates are joined by Blut Aus Nord's Vindsval for much of the album. He's part of an impressive guest roster on the album, joined by experimental electronic artist William Fowler Collins and Colin Marston from Gorguts / Behold The Arctopus / Krallice. This formidable crew sculpts the album into a kind of dark, pop-flecked prog rock, and as it continues, that sound is further fleshed out with heavier undercurrents and lush electronic backdrops. The black metal elements recur throughout the songs, but frequently untangle themselves from the contorted riffage and blast beats and soaring vocals to coalesce into the most heart-rending of melodic hooks. It often spills out into sprawls of immersive synthesizer and lush ambient textures, bits of industrial abrasion seeping into the drumming and electronics, the songs woven from complex rhythmic interplay and layered melodies that continue to surprise and stir the soul with each revisit. "My Father, Tall As Goliath" is dark prog-pop sorcery, while "Indigo Birds" disappears into a breathtaking kosmische middle that channels the most epic of 70's space music, before swarming back into more of that labyrinthine riffery. The heavier-than-thou may scoff at the gorgeous singing that sits at the forefront of these songs, but this is still heavy, heavy stuff, much of it amongst the heaviest Pyramids music I've heard so far.
    Stunning stuff. There's a similar enigmatic art-rock vibe as stuff like Time Of Orchids and Kayo Dot, but the metallic elements are much more prominent, specifically the black metal influences that inflame Meadow's more furious moments. If you're a fan of the previous Pyramids output, I can't imagine that you won't flip over this. It's a Pretty confident saying it's the strongest music the band has brought us yet. Highly recommended.
Track Samples:
Sample : The Earth Melts Into Red Gashes Like the Mouths of Whales
Sample : My Father, Tall As Goliath
Sample : Indigo Birds



RESGESTAE   État D'Urgence   CD   (Force Majeure)    11.99



    This experimental Greek noise/ambient project delivers some intensely distorted blackened dronescapery with their latest disc État D'Urgence. It's a nine-track journey through murky low-frequency noise fields, fragments of broken melody, and abstract glitchery woven together into increasingly bleak and nightmarish forms over the course of the hour-long album. While there's some pretty harsh moments of grinding noise scattered throughout the disc, Resgestae primarily focuses on long, sprawling slabs of atmospheric dread that combine sampled voices and shards of eerie cinematic music, field recordings and environmental noises, percussive metallic sounds, and some seriously deep low-end rumbling that seems to inhabit much of this disc. Those vast tectonic reverberations swell and surge beneath the mysterious soundscapes like shifting earthen plates or oceanic movements that have been captured and amplified. , and serves the dystopian, dead-future imagery and themes that surround the album.
    Bleak stuff, with track titles like "From Repression To Management", "Political Economy Of Fear" and "L'Évasion Impossible" all pointing towards an utterly desolate and paranoid vision of societal collapse and bio-engineered devastation occurring in slow motion beneath our very feet . Further in, undercurrents of smoldering blackened power electronics begin to appear, fluttering and crackling with increasing agitation, seeping up in gouts of filthy ravenous synthesizer noise from those long stretches of crumbling, grey drift. Things take a heavier turn on tracks like "Terrain D'Essai" and "Repression", as an agonizingly slow drumbeat and guttural bass line become stretched and distorted into a doom-laden roar, while gusts of distorted low-end and blackened static swirl overhead amid frantic sampled voices, creating a kind of jet-black industrial dirge. Other tracks offer up huge expanses of echoing sound like the amplified drip of water in some nightmare oubliette, while pieces of scrap metal are caught in a subterranean breeze, rattling noisily as voices call out from far down in the depths of an absolutely lightless void. They manage to produce an effective and immersive slab of apocalyptic ambience and seething power electronics here, achieving some seriously heavy moments of electro-horror punishment sometimes reminiscent of the morbid industrial soundscapes of T.O.M.B. and Sistrenatus, but also inhabited by bits of mutant electro-industrial throb and strange surrealistic sound collage. Limited to five hundred copies in digipack packaging.
Track Samples:
Sample : Political Economy Of Fear
Sample : ÿþL'Évasion Impossible
Sample : From Repression To Management



RISE OF AVERNUS   Dramatis Personae   CD   (Code666)    13.98



     Monumental symphonic prog-doom from Down Under. Sydney, Australia's Rise Of Avernus return with the follow-up to the band's thunderous 2013 album L'Appel Du Vide, delivering another batch of wall-rattling death-epics across this half-hour long disc. Once again, their mixture of bombastic symphonic doom, prog metal and scathing blackened fury is a potent one, and a tougher sounding affair than a lot of bands that mix symphonic elements with doom metal, their songs shot through with some great blackened savagery and stripped of many of the more "operatic" qualities we heard on the band's previous record.
     With these five songs, Rise Of Avernus gets even proggier and more immense, with dark orchestral strings and piano woven into the complex, raging heaviness at the heart of opener "In The Absence Of Will; you can hear ancient wax-cylinder recordings of Aleister Crowley drifting in and out of the song's symphonic fury, while those same orchestral elements are used to moodier effect on "Path To Shekinah", guiding the band into a crushing deathdoom riff draped in funereal violin, and backed by monstrous deathgrunt vocals that transform into a soaring, solemn croon. One of the things that I dig about this band is how they manage to temper the gothier side of their sound with sheer massive riffage, and also giving this stuff a heavy dose of prog rock that shows up in the complex bass parts and the winding multi-part arrangements for several of these tracks. Like bands of this kind, that classic Peaceville doom sound informs this stuff pretty heavily, but the band builds on that with their own melodramatic style, forged from pulverizing guitar riffs and sweeping piano sequences, the combination of those dark, dramatic strings laid over crushing staccato doom metal, some almost jazzy fretless bass work, and interesting ambient and percussive touches, even blending tribal rhythms and what sounds like didgeridoo into the grimly portentous atmosphere of the closing track. A high-quality blend of orchestral beauty and bone-crushing heaviness from these guys, this also features a guest appearance from Grutle of Enslaved on the song "Acta Est Fabula". Pretty slick stuff, but very well done- fans of Septic Flesh and Fleshgod Apocalypse might find this quite enthralling. Comes in gatefold packaging, limited to five hundred copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : In the Absence of Will
Sample : In Hope We Drown
Sample : Acta Est Fabula



SAME-SEX DICTATOR   Open The Coffin   CASSETTE   (Hanged Man)    5.98



     More oddball prog-core from the bizarrely named Same Sex Dictator. While older releases from the band saw them operating as a trio, more recently they've scaled down to a duo of drums and bass guitar along with additional synth, and it seems to have focused their sound further. Back with this tape-only release, these brain-warping blastcore mutants combine that percussive powerviolent assault with abrasive synths and vocals, and the result is a clusterfuck of off-kilter heaviness, a multi-tentacled monstrosity that lurches wildly from blasts of bestial blastcore into dissonant, angular sludge, then slowing down even further into a feedback-splattered deathdirge. It can turn into some punishing deathdoom-level heaviness, hazed by waves of overblown amplifier rumble and droning feedback, like with the crawling abject horror of opener "Air Burial" that falls somewhere in between the fractured black rot of Khanate and the putrid megacrawl of Disembowelment.
     Further along, this stuff gets a little more complex, with that sludgy bass-heavy battery getting bent into more crooked, angular shapes, the riffs splintering into haunting melodies that share space with the grueling heaviness, and martial drumming starts to appear while gales of roaring amplifier noise are swept up in a storm of reverb-drenched sound. A couple of vicious mid-tempo riffs rip through the ramshackle blastcore of songs like "Becoming Aurelius", turning into ferocious blasts of hateful hardcore power, only to make way for something akin to deformed black metal, or lock into a mesmeric repetitious groove, ominously rolling out over heavy tribal toms and whirling electronic noise. Naturally, the combination of brutal bass riffs and that aggressive drumming is a little reminiscent of stuff like Man Is The Bastard, but the Dictator duo delivers something a bit more varied than just another callback to classic powerviolence. All throughout this tape, they slipping into sprawls of percussive, pummeling psychedelia and spacey electronic ambience in among all of the lumbering low-end grooves and pounding tempos, with a couple of huge hooks suddenly soaring out of the sonic muck and bone-rattling bass rumble. I've dug a lot of the stuff I've heard from these guys over the years, but this is by far their best stuff. Comes in a hand-numbered edition of one hundred copies.


SANGUS   Saevitia   7" VINYL   (Eternal Death)    6.50



     Awesomely violent black metal-infested grindcrust! These Rhode Island blast barbarians stomped my face in with this four-song debut, blending harsh electronic noise and utterly ferocious black metal with a stench-ridden old-school grindcore assault for one of the most fearsome records I've slapped onto the turntable this week. These guys will shift from an almost bestial wargrind attack to the epic D-beat driven crust of "Nati Da Vulcani" that rivals the likes of Tragedy, and they lace all of these songs with bursts of searing static, or intros of garbled sampled voices and harsh distortion that seem to threaten a power electronics onslaught, before it erupts into another pulverizing blackened blast. This stuff fucking rips, with a harshness and militancy that almost reminds me of a crustier, noise-infected Marduk, but it has this dark, triumphant melodic sensibility that really elevates this one above the hordes of similarly influenced bands; the lyrics are interesting as well, with their interjections of Italian phrases. My only grip with this is that they didn't include the harsh noise track "Ossos: SSS" that appears on the digital version of the EP, as that wall of distorted static hatred featured there is a perfect finale to Saevitia's savage, apocalyptic assault. Killer stuff nonetheless, highly recommended if you're into the likes of Human Bodies, Column of Heaven, Ramlord, Radioactive Vomit and the like. On black vinyl.


SATANATH   Deep Universe Vacuum   CD   (Symbol Of Domination)    9.99



     Return to the necro-planetarium! It's another album from a black metaller wrangling a bank of synthesizers and tackling electronic space music, which I can never resist. Never. Luckily, Satanath's debut full length delivers the cosmic hellscape I needed; while the album art and label description could lead you to believe that this is in the vein of more traditional space-synth ambient music, Satanath's Deep Universe Vacuum is actually a bit of a stranger and more unsettling mutation. You get thirteen tracks of hellish deathdrone, sheet-metal reverberations, clanking ritualistic rhythms and mysterious necro-drift that he summons across this disc, a ritualized projection into the voids between star systems and the shores of vast nebular oceans. It's actually a lot closer in mood and feel to the darker and more negative cosmic soundscapes and mesmeric star-rot trances of Caravans to Empire Algol-era Neptune Towers, the occult dark ambient of artists like Herbst9 and Inad, and especially the bizarre satanic industrial hallucinations of H418ov21.C / Electric Doom Synthesis-era Beherit. Which should give you an idea of what type of stuff we're talking about here - it certainly isn't true dark ambient, but more of a pulsating, pitch-black post-industrial that prominently features washes of alien electronic textures and weird processed effects, with simple hypnotic rhythms and loops swirling through the majority of the album.
     Vacuum unfolds into fields of gleaming metallic drone and distant, chantlike murmurs, with certain musical themes continuing to appear throughout the album; there's a couple of creepy melodies that thread their way through these strange soundscapes, making this sound almost like a single, epic-length piece. Dreadful orchestral movements become caught in a spectral warp, repeating endlessly within a fog of murky sound and shot through with phased rhythms and distant tribal drums as they simultaneously decay and diffuse, disintegrating Basinsky-like into the yawning emptiness of the cosmic abyss. Or, as in the case of "Viarma", drifting into a weird and unnerving dub-like ambience flitting with bizarre alien cries and echoing percussive sounds. It's often wild stuff, and can produce some nightmarishly fucked up dronescapes. On "Mekulas", a distorted klaxon-pulse shapes into a mutated EBM throb as atonal crystalline notes flicker in the blackness, and it's really not till we get to the end of the album that we hear anything resembling classic space music, but even here Satanath perverts the form into something black and infernal, moving slowly out of that dark pulsating electronic ambience into something more akin to Prurient's searing jet-black techno experiments. All of that is jettisoned for the last track, though: it's a "cover" of the theme music from the early 90s videogame Contra: Hard Corps that gets transformed into a killer synthetic space rock instrumental with pummeling programmed drums and wild synthesizer sweeps, sounding almost like a metallized Zombi, epic and eerie but with that aggressive mechanized double bass attack going on underneath the electronic arpeggios and synth-bass. Bizarre.
Track Samples:
Sample : Ukeliu
Sample : Hard Corps Blues
Sample : Dahtre



SATURNALIA TEMPLE   To The Other   CD   (Ajna Offensive)    9.99



     A soul-devouring sonic mandala of trance inducing doom-filth, album number two from these occult-obsessed drugdoom demons is back in stock on both LP and digipack CD, the latter featuring an exclusive bonus track.
     Following up that amazing Impossibilum 12" from a while back (which featured the band doing an incredible cover of a song from the legendary Bahamian psychedelic folk/soul artist Exuma), mysterious Swedish hypno-doom outfit Saturnalia Temple finally returns with this new nine-song slab of mesmeric low-fi heaviness that lays on as much grit and grisly, gut-churning riffage as anything I've heard from them previously. As with earlier outings from the band (which here includes Aldebaran / Howling Wind / Nightfell / Weregoat member Tm Call sitting in behind the drum kit), To The Other fuses their esoteric imagery and references to the Scandinavian occult order known as the Dragon Rouge with more of their elongated, circular hypno-rituals, rolling out massive, molten fuzz-encrusted riffs across simple, mesmerizing drumming, each song stretched out into long, sprawling rituals of droning, rumbling heaviness. Gruff, black metal-esque vocals echo through the band's drugged-out haze, hateful tracers streaking above the hypnotic doom metal, and waves of Hawkwindian synth drone and dark cosmic whooooosh wash across all of these songs.
     As trippy and synth-soaked as this stuff gets, it's still as heavy as ever, often sinking into a lumbering, Frostian riff-trance. But Saturnalia Temple also frequently venture into even more psychedelic, psilocybin-fueled regions here, and there's an added bluesy quality to some of the guitar parts this time around, alternating with the band's penchant for odd, almost Middle Eastern-like scales; at times, this new Temple stuff has a similar blown-out, speaker-rattling vibe as Warhorse's more elliptical, narcotized moments, or the most murk-drenched, mesmeric passages off an old Electric Wizard album. It's all about those grimy, ongoing riffs though, which the band stretches out endlessly. Another killer slab of tripped-out Draconian doom filth from the band, custom made for late-night listening enshrouded in opium-den ambience and luminescent black-light visions, and totally evocative of the sort of churning labyrinthine realms that are mapped out in the cool album art from Finnish illustrator (and Bunkur member) Manuel Tinnemans.
Track Samples:
Sample : To the Other
Sample : March of Gha'agsheblah
Sample : Crowned With Seven



SATURNALIA TEMPLE   To The Other   LP   (Ajna Offensive)    19.98



     A soul-devouring sonic mandala of trance inducing doom-filth, album number two from these occult-obsessed drugdoom demons is back in stock on both LP and digipack CD, the latter featuring an exclusive bonus track.
     Following up that amazing Impossibilum 12" from a while back (which featured the band doing an incredible cover of a song from the legendary Bahamian psychedelic folk/soul artist Exuma), mysterious Swedish hypno-doom outfit Saturnalia Temple finally returns with this new nine-song slab of mesmeric low-fi heaviness that lays on as much grit and grisly, gut-churning riffage as anything I've heard from them previously. As with earlier outings from the band (which here includes Aldebaran / Howling Wind / Nightfell / Weregoat member Tm Call sitting in behind the drum kit), To The Other fuses their esoteric imagery and references to the Scandinavian occult order known as the Dragon Rouge with more of their elongated, circular hypno-rituals, rolling out massive, molten fuzz-encrusted riffs across simple, mesmerizing drumming, each song stretched out into long, sprawling rituals of droning, rumbling heaviness. Gruff, black metal-esque vocals echo through the band's drugged-out haze, hateful tracers streaking above the hypnotic doom metal, and waves of Hawkwindian synth drone and dark cosmic whooooosh wash across all of these songs.
     As trippy and synth-soaked as this stuff gets, it's still as heavy as ever, often sinking into a lumbering, Frostian riff-trance. But Saturnalia Temple also frequently venture into even more psychedelic, psilocybin-fueled regions here, and there's an added bluesy quality to some of the guitar parts this time around, alternating with the band's penchant for odd, almost Middle Eastern-like scales; at times, this new Temple stuff has a similar blown-out, speaker-rattling vibe as Warhorse's more elliptical, narcotized moments, or the most murk-drenched, mesmeric passages off an old Electric Wizard album. It's all about those grimy, ongoing riffs though, which the band stretches out endlessly. Another killer slab of tripped-out Draconian doom filth from the band, custom made for late-night listening enshrouded in opium-den ambience and luminescent black-light visions, and totally evocative of the sort of churning labyrinthine realms that are mapped out in the cool album art from Finnish illustrator (and Bunkur member) Manuel Tinnemans.
Track Samples:
Sample : To the Other
Sample : March of Gha'agsheblah
Sample : Crowned With Seven



SCORN   Ellipsis   CASSETTE   (Scorn Recordings)    6.50



    Just unearthed some copies of the long out-of-print cassette version of Scorn's remix collection Ellipsis, released in 1995 on Earache sub-label Scorn Recordings. I've been a fan of Mick Harris's apocalyptic industrial dub/breakbeat project Scorn for years, but have always had a hell of a time getting my hands on copies of the remix album Ellipsis. When these Scorn albums originally came out, Earache was still primarily known for releasing grindcore and death metal, and Scorn's dark electronica/dub was radically different from what people were used to hearing from the label, let alone the former drummer for grindcore pioneers Napalm Death and jazz/grind/dub geniuses Painkiller. One of the best releases in the Scorn catalog, essential for fans of Harris's brand of crushing beatscapes and dystopian ambience.
    1995's Ellipsis is a very different sort of album. This disc, which has been out of print for years, is a compilation of remixed Scorn material taken from Evanescence and reworked by an impressive lineup of guest collaborators that include Coil, Autechre, Meat Beat Manifesto, and PCM. It opens with Meat Beat Manifesto funking up "Silver Rain Fell" in their distinct style, stretching it out for almost nine minutes but sticking pretty close to the sound of the original. Harris does his own remix of "Exodus", which also makes some subtle changes to the track, but Coil take the source material in a much darker and more infernal direction for their rework of "Dreamspace". The UK industrial legends stretch the track out to almost twelve minutes, creating a wheezing, creaking trip-hop nightmare coated in grimy distortion, sinister bass, demonic voices, but then turn the second half into an epic orchestral ambient peice, letting looped strings drift over muted drums and skittering electronics, and it's without a doubt one of the highlights of Ellipsis. Next, Bill Laswell (who had performed with Harris in Painkiller) turns "Night Ash Black (Slow Black Underground River Mix)" into an even longer dose of epic dubdirge that's almost a whopping sixteen minutes long. Laswell stretches out the didgeridoo drones of the original version across a stygian chasm, drifting black ambience and rumbling drones inhabiting the first few minutes before a CRUSHING bassline drops in alongside a steady hi-hat keeping time, the track turned into a monstrous doomed-out darkhop dirge, super heavy and sinister, with samples of Harvey Keitel from Bad Lietunient looping in the background. If you thought that the original version of this track was pretty heavy, wait till you hear this....
    Scanner follows and deconstructs Scorn's throbbing low end beats for "Night Tide (Flaneur Electronique Mix)", stripping it down to the rudimentary rhythm and fusing the beats to creepy samples. Autechre's re-imagining of "Falling (FR 13 Mix)" isn't as wacked out as I thought it might be when I first spun this disc, but it's still a twisted and fractured take on the original, the beats chopped and clipped, distorted and skipping across a minimal dark soundscape populated with all sorts of clicks and glitches and rhythmic pops and dub effects. Probably the most radical reshaping of Scorn's music comes from P.C.M., an obscure drum n' bass project that would later take part in continued collaborations with Mick Harris; these pioneers of dark, heavy jungle take the eerie melody from "The End" and strap it to a combination of spastic, pounding junglist rhythms and digital dub grooves. Germ's remix of "Automata" is also another dark drum n bass workout, but here the remix is slower and heavier and closer to the pounding industrial throb of the original. The disc ends with Harris once again remixing his own material, giving "Light Trap" a stripped down, blissed out redux, the end result both jazzy and dark, but quite mesmeric and pretty. Essential for Scorn fans and those into Dalek, Tackhead and Justin Broadrick's heavy dub/beat experiments in Godflesh, Ice and Techno Animal.
Track Samples:
Sample : SCORN-Ellipsis
Sample : SCORN-Ellipsis
Sample : SCORN-Ellipsis
Sample : SCORN-Ellipsis



SCORN   Gyral   CASSETTE   (Scorn Recordings)    6.50



    Just unearthed some copies of the long out-of-print cassette version of Scorn's Gyral, released by the Earache sub-label Scorn Recordings back in 1996. It's a classic slab of dark, doom-laden industrial dub/trip-hop from the former drummer and founding member of grindcore gods Napalm Death, Mick Harris; along with Painkiller/Bill Laswell, Techno Animal and Ice, Scorn was one of the most fearsome practitioners of post-industrial dub in the 90's, fusing grim electronic ambience with dub-heavy break beats and spacey effects.
    1995's Gyral was the first with Mick Harris as the sole member following the departure of Nic Bullen, and the sound is appropriately sparse and skeletal, a reductionist version of the band's previous industrial dub sound. The pounding languid break beats are wound into looping circular mantras that anchor the dark, ominous ambient drift and electronic ether that float by, sonar pings and fragments of piano echoing through the shadows, percussive samples locked into air-tight tick-tock grooves, snares popping and leaving incandescent tracers dissolving against the blackness, the speaker-rattling bass coiling almost subliminally in the background. The whole atmosphere of Gyral is dreamlike and ambient, not quite as apocalyptic as releases like Deliverance, but definitely still quite sinister and bleak, with none of the vocals that were so prominent on prior albums. Eight tracks: "Six Hours One Week", "Time Went Slow", "Far In Out", "Stairway", "Forever Turning", "Black Box", "Hush", "Trondheim - Gävle". Gyral is an engrossing slab of industrial trip-hop/dark ambient dub, one of Harris's most hypnotic and heavy-lidded albums, and another personal favorite of mine from Scorn. Extremely limited!
Track Samples:
Sample : Black Box
Sample : Six Hours On



SECT PIG   Self Reversed   CD   (Nuclear War Now! Productions)    10.98



    Sect Pig's nerve-shredding disc Slave Destroyed was one of my favorite releases from Nuclear War Now in 2013, an enigmatic and entirely nightmarish blast of hateful blackened psych-violence that I couldn't stop listening to. This mysterious and utterly singular outfit maintained an air of anonymity that only added to the clandestine, dangerous vibe of their art, which continues with their follow-up album Self Reversed. And this stuff is even more bizarre. As with Slave Destroyed , the band continues to build their diseased black metal upon an unmistakable Von influence, mining that seminal California band's primitive, monotonous sound for its most barbaric elements, then stitching that sort of minimal, monstrous sonic assault patchwork-style with passages of murky psychedelia and carefully selected samples that delve into themes of self-mutilation, murder and psycho-sexual violence. It's presented as a single, nearly twenty minute long track comprised of two original compositions ("Self Reversed" and "Swine Denounced"), followed by a vicious run through GG Allin's "Fuck Off, We Murder" and Carnivore's "7.2 Billion Dead", both of which are reshaped into Sect Pig's mutant image, further mainlining the abject misanthropy that explodes from the original tracks.
    It's definitely more jarring and abrasive than their older material, careening from that punishing, droning Von-esque blackened blast with its ravenous boar-like vocalizations and monstrous guttural whispers, into haunting soundscapes where spoken word sequences are intertwined with ritualistic, resonant prayer-bowl drones, delirious Tuvan-like chanting and swirling, murky ambience. There are also these passages of languid, solarized psychedelic rock that will suddenly pop up out of nowhere, muffled blues guitar licks curling around a shambolic backbeat beneath a bruised twilit sky, while recordings of interviews with serial killer Edmund Kemper drift lazily through the gloom. Even more than before, Sect Pig summons a uniquely mind-melting strain of sonic savagery with this stuff; the vocal processing is more extreme than before, the shrieks and grunts layered into a cacophonic Legion that achieves a genuinely disturbing feel, and the band unleashes a near constant blast of reverb-soaked noise and low-end rumble that swoops and swirls lower in the mix, oceanic swells of sonic chaos that perpetually rage beneath their hypnotic two-chord black metal trance. When this music is operating at its full chaotic power, it's almost like hearing Conqueror blasting through a dense, lysergic haze, the cover songs transforming into bizarrely catchy eruptions of acid-drenched blastnoise.
Track Samples:
Sample : Self Reversed
Sample : Self Reversed
Sample : Self Reversed



SERRATO, MARCO   Seis Canciones Para Cuervo   CD   (Alone -Spain-)    12.98



     A pretty far-out assemblage of improvised scrape-scapes and atonal free-jazz adventures makes up the first solo album from Marco Serrato, a member of idiosyncratic Spanish avant-doom outfit Orthodox. While there's a dark undercurrent to much of Seis Canciones Para Cuervo, this is pretty far from the avant-garde doom metal of his main band, though fans of the more abstract and experimental recordings that those Spanish doom metallers have included among their blasts of crushing heaviness should give this a listen. While the main instrument that Serrato uses here is an acoustic double bass, the music is actually quite varied, starting with the tactile bass scrapes and squeals that strafe the solo piece "Cuervo Canta Su Balada" that opens the album, before heading into the eerie free jazz of "Cuervo Sueña Que Es Mujer" where Serrato blends ghostly cello drones and dissonant strings with the creak of tortured wood and the bleating of horns, and the gibbering, slippery cacophony that chatters across "Cuervo Devora Los Ojos De Su Padre".
     Serrato thoughtfully layers his sounds to produce a spectral haze, and it frequently leans more towards "noise" than "jazz", but this isn't a Borbetomagus-style skullfuck, either; this stuff can get rather harrowing at times (I hear echoes of both George Crumb and Penderecki in the swarming scraping strings and rumbling, discordant piano of "Las Dos Caidas De Cuervo"), but it's mostly a subdued, surreal experience, culminating in a strange patchwork of sounds at the end, as the delicate chiming melody of a child's music box encounters the guttural groan of that bowed upright bass, trumpets drifting into the darkness like fog-horns resonating across a Cerenerian Sea. In his liner notes, Serrato discusses the creative process behind each track, and cites the likes of Ligeti, Xenakis, Black Sabbath and the murky basement aesthetics of early Norwegian black metal as an influence on his improvisations, and though there's absolutely no metallic elements present on this album, those with a taste for the creepier end of the improv spectrum as well as fans of Dead Raven Choir's creepy bass-driven scrapescapes may find this an enthralling collection of unsettling but often spellbinding pieces.
Track Samples:
Sample : ÿþLas dos caídas de Cuervo
Sample : De cuervo y las estrellas...
Sample : ÿþCuervo sueña que es mujer



SHINKIRO   Cycle Of Rebirth   CD   (SSSM)    12.98



    Released on Contagious Orgasm's in-house label SSSM, Shinkiro's Cycle Of Rebirth is the latest full-length from Japanese artist Manabu Hiramoto's latest outfit, previously known for his ghostnoise recordings with the Kotodama project. With Shinkiro, Hiramoto pursues even darker currents of electronic soundscapery, crafting some really impressive spectral shadow-drenched driftscapes and excursions into glistening black electronica.
    Made up of five "cycles" inspired by Buddhist cosmology, the album starts off on oceanic waves of liquid sound drifting beneath vast vaulted skies, the sounds of fluid swirling and sloshing in a lightless void as titanic steel-girders groan and bend in the distance, and monstrous reverberations drift and bubble up from the depths. From there, Hiramoto plunges deeper into his mysterious, alien soundworld, drifting into mesmeric synthesizer sequences where gleaming arpeggiated notes loop through the low-hanging atmosphere, like fragments of a p[particularly ominous-sounding Tangerine Dream score being swept far out to sea beneath the veil of night, as soft electronic drones pulse in the deep like remnants of inverted starlight. That kosmische quality courses throughout Rebirth, often as a subtle shimmering ambience that hovers like a nocturnal heat-haze over the deep, rumbling drones and murky, muted environmental recordings, sometimes coalescing into a throbbing, soundtracky pulse that resembles a super-minimal John Carpenter score or the darkest corners of the Bad Sector discography, or else into a gorgeous piece of ethereal, New Agey electronics fluttering over a brutal, distorted sheet-metal rhythm.
    Deeper into the album, though, the sounds turn darker and more abrasive. Eventually Hiramoto unleashes gales of low-frequency noise and distortion, sculpting dense dronescapes from waves of crushing tectonic sound and strafing these rumbling psychedelic fields with harsh metallic tones and sweeping spacey effects; on "3rd Cycle", that sound shifts into a pummeling tribal rhythm and distorted synth riff that suddenly cranks tense atmosphere to an almost unbearable level, like some weird fusion of Brad Fiedel's industrial score for The Terminator and Blood Music-era Yen Pox. It's great stuff that straddles a variety of forms, the tracks moving through a strange middle ground between vast, fearsome emanations from some upper level of Jigoku and a sleeker, more modern electronic ambience. And the fourth track, while the shortest, is by far my favorite, an eerie synthesizer piece coated in sleek black 80's gloss akin to the best of Prurient's more recent nocturnal synth endeavors. All in all, Rebirth is terrific stuff, a striking piece of dark post-industrial art that continues to draw me back for repeated listening. Comes in gatefold packaging.
Track Samples:
Sample : 5th Cycle
Sample : 4th Cycle
Sample : 2nd Cycle



SICKENING HORROR   Overflow   CD   (Deepsend)    10.98



    Album number three from Greek prog-death outfit Sickening Horror, which comes after a loooong period of silence from the group, a good six years since the last time we were pulverized by their elaborate, fusiony, jazz-tinged heaviosity on Dead End Experiment. Early on, Sickening Horror featuring metal drummer extraordinaire George Kollias who would join Nile roughly around the same time, and after his departure from the band it seemed like their activity began to slow down considerably. Good to hear 'em again though, as their tech-death had a quirky, jazz-tinged energy that I dug.
    Overflow picks up right where they left off, with nine songs of elaborately arranged tech-death that balances their taste for violent, churning grooves with killer spacey melodic guitarwork and Ilias Daras's impressive, acrobatic bass playing, which has a fluid, fretless feel that I love in this sort of death metal. It almost has an Atheist-like vibe at times. And indeed, the proggy death metal that these guys perform isn't all that groundbreaking - you can pick up on some discernable Cynic influences throughout the album as well, and the songwriting itself doesn't get too wonky - but Sickening Horror does write actual songs, something that's too often overlooked within this particular realm of death metal. There's some really great stuff going on here song-wise, making this one of the more memorable prog-death albums I've picked up lately, and they throw in some cool touches like the extended jazz piano on the songs "Versus Entropia" and "The Day The Worms Became Kings", the washes of kosmische electronic textures that billow through various points on the album like plumes of star-gas, and the bludgeoning death-funk of "Fractal Maze" that turns into a mix of fusiony metallic bliss, ominous shredding and pulsating electro-industrial rhythms. Frankly, the guitarwork is gorgeous, with some seriously moving melodic passages juxtaposed against all of the crazy shredding, dissonant chords and oddball scales, right up there with the similarly striking tech-death of another recent album, Irreversible Mechanism's Infinite Fields. The nuttiest stuff going on here is the rhythm section, which slips into some pretty fucked-up anti-grooves and frantic time signatures that pop up amid the album's more conventional skull-cracking chuggery, blastbeat-riddled churn and eruptions of violent down-tuned thrash. A pretty safe bet that fans of Atheist / Cynic / Pestilence style prog-death looking for something new will dig it, but with better songs than you usually get in this field.
Track Samples:
Sample : May the Ground Not Receive Thee
Sample : I, Explorer in Akashic Fields
Sample : Fractal Maze



SIEGE   Drop Dead (30th Anniversary edition)   LP   (Deep Six)    12.98



    This latest vinyl edition celebrates the 30th anniversary of this seminal hardcore punk / proto-grindcore album with a limited colored wax run, newly re-mastered, and including all three of the bonus tracks that appeared on the various other editions over the years.
    When it comes to extreme hardcore, Siege's legendary Drop Dead is the most important record ever. Can there be any doubt? C'mon, we're talking about the EP that influenced Napalm Death to play grindcore, and the music that birthed every blastbeat spewing outfit that has come since. It's fucking staggering to listen to Drop Dead today, in 2006...these songs, recorded way back in 1984, still sound every bit as berserk and apocalyptic and brain melting as they did then. Beneath Rob Williams' mach 10 thrash beats and Kevin Mahoney's psychotic, blood-curdling vocals, Siege's songs had hooks that any band would kill for, and one of the most destroyed guitar performances ever put to tape. These guys totally mutated hardcore in the early 80's and turned it into something completely new, just listen to the psychedelic hardcore epic "Grim Reaper" with Mahoney howling about a man being diagnosed with cancer as he belts out a freaked out saxophone performance over nightmarish tape loops and the rest of the band noisily improvising on one noxious riff. Total genius. Aside from Bad Brains and Black Flag, I can't think of any other bands that were this crucial to the development of the American punk underground. Drop Dead is one of my all-time favorite records, a statement of extreme music that has never been equalled in my opnion, and it's essential to anyone into extreme hardcore, grindcore, outsider heaviness, and noise-damaged insanity.
Track Samples:
Sample : Grim Reaper
Sample : Walls
Sample : Conform



SIGH   Scorn Defeat (Euro Version)   2 x CD   (Hammerheart)    14.98



    Here's the Dutch release of Sigh's classic Scorn Defeat in jewel case packaging.
   The reissue of the debut album Scorn Defeat from Japanese black metal avant-gardists Sigh first appeared a couple of years ago on the Enucleation label, but went out of print pretty quickly when that label ended up going down the tubes. Thankfully, Deepsend and Hammerheart resurrected this classic album yet again as an expansive double disc set that improves upon the previous version with a wealth of rare, never-before-heard material that Sigh fans are going to drool over.
    There's few black metal bands as quirky and strange as Japan's Sigh, who have been delivering their whacked-out brand of cinematic prog-influenced blackthrash since the early 1990's. The band burst into the black metal underground when their debut album Scorn Defeat was released in 1993 on Deathlike Silence, the label run by Euronymous from Mayhem, and Sigh's debut would become legendary for being the last release on the label before Euronymous was murdered. But even if Scorn Defeat hadn't been caught in the shadow of the events chronicled in Lords Of Chaos, this album would still have become one of the great cult classics of the second wave of black metal just for it's sheer weirdness. From Imaginary Sonicscape (the band's brilliant 2001 masterpiece) onward, Sigh has become one of the world's most psychedelic metal bands, blending together Wagnerian bombast and 70's psychedelia and jazz fusion and Venom and John Zorn into a unique and mind-boggling sound of their own, but it might surprise a lot of fans that haven't heard Sigh's earliest material just how oddball the band was even in the beginning. Compared to their later albums, Scorn Defeat is obviously a black metal album, with lots of killer fast paced buzzsaw riffing and blastbeats and slower dirgier parts, and the song titles and lyrics all pointed towards the kind of death worship that no doubt had the Norwegian black metal kids bugging out. But then there's the weird band photos, with the not-quite-right corpse paint makeup that's way more kabuki than necro, and the band doing battle with fuckin' maces while Mirai breathes fire in the background...and then there's the music itself, a ripping black metal attack that's heavily influenced by the primitive sound of classic Venom, but which is injected with weird prog-rock interludes, classical piano (that's shockingly competent compared to what most bands were doing with keyboards back then), subtle psychedelic overtones and other elements that made it abundantly clear that Sigh were not just another black metal band...
    The first song "A Victory Of Dakini" is as heavy and blackened as anything off their most recent, and already pointed towards the wild, avant-garde direction that Sigh would continue in; the songs kicks off with a halting doomy dirge and some acoustic guitar over top, then lurches into a plodding black metal riff with that unique majestic quality that all of Sigh's riffs have, super catchy but dark and evil, and it winds through slower sections of gloomy acoustic strum and grim mid-paced dirge with Mirai's distinctive raspy vocals. But then towards the end of the song, the band breaks off into a weird punky riff that suddenly erupts into an insane Hendrix-style acid-guitar freakout complete with jazzy bass, which goes on for a minute or so, stops abruptly, and then goes right back in to the gloomy black dirge, only this time the band backs the music with beautiful Pink Floyd-like vocal harmonies and Hammond-like keyboards. It's the sort of jarring and bizarre shift in tone that won't surprise anyone who's heard their classic Imaginary Sonicscape album, but I bet that this confused quite a few black metallers back in 1993.
    "The Knell" is more straightforward black metal, thrashing buzz-saw guitars and scorched vocals, epic melodies clashing with squealing Slayerized solos, but as the song progresses, it starts to reveal another proggy arrangement, this time moving into passages of heavy keyboard and acoustic guitar that alternate with the heavier parts, and culminating in a blazing psychedelic climax with ripping harpsichord solos (!) and angelic vocal choirs. "At My Funeral" gets even stranger, mixing up that Venom-esque mid-paced plod with more tinkling piano lines, soaring choral synths, and a killer theatrical part that kicks in during the middle.
    On "Gundali", the guitars are excised completely for another theatrical sounding piece that combines church organs / harpsichord keys, Mirai speaking in a low, creepy whisper, tambourines and a simple repetitive drumbeat into a cinematic dirge that later turns into a purely instrumental performance of classical piano. The black metal returns on the next song, though, and it's one of my favorites - "Ready For The Final War" is another proggy blackthrash anthem, with some of the most crushing riffage on the album, going from proggy synth-driven drama to raging high-speed thrash to one of those immensely rocking and catchy Venom-chugs that, again, turns into a pure piano piece at the end, one that's so beautiful and jazzy it's as much of a shock as any of the other moments of weirdness that have previously appeared on the album. The rest of Scorn Defeat is loaded with these amazing what-the-fuck moments, like the jazz piano that pops up in the middle of the black metal anthem "Weakness Within", or the Floydian atmospherics and chiming triangles (how often do you hear those on a black metal album?) on "Taste Defeat".
    The last five songs on the disc are all bonus material. There's the three tracks ("The Knell", "Desolation Of My Mind", "Taste Defeat") from the Requiem For Fools cassette that came out on Wild Rags in 1992, two of which are rawer versions of the album tracks, and the other a crushing dose of doomy blackness with loads of supremely cheesy splatter movie synths. And the last two tracks ("Suicidogenic" and a cover of Venom's "Schizo") are from the 1994 split 7" with Kawir, and these two songs are the most straightforward black metal numbers that I've ever heard from the band (although there's still weird phone-ringing sounds and squelchy noises and other weirdness floating around in here, too).
    Along with the first disc, this latest re-issue also features a second disc of stuff from the same era as Scorn Defeat that is black manna for Sigh fans, collecting unreleased covers of Venom, Mayhem, their Tragedies and Desolation demos, unreleased rough mixes, and some unearthed studio tracks recorded for long-forgotten compilations that never materialized. On top of that, this switches out the new artwork from the Enucleation edition for even newer black and white artwork from artist Chris Moyen and a package design from Mike Riddick, as well as the extensive liner notes from Mirai, photos, lyrics and other information printed in the eight-page booklet. The recording has also been remastered (by Scott Hull over at Visceral Sound), and it sounds HUGE compared to previous versions; add that together with all of the assorted bonus tracks included here, and you get an essential document of Sigh's earliest work. Highly recommended.
Track Samples:
Sample : Gundali
Sample : The Knell
Sample : Weakness Within



SIGH   Graveward   CD   (Candlelight)    12.98



     While the latest from these legendary Japanese avant black metallers might not be as mind-blowing a release as the previous In Somniphobia (considered by a lot of fans to be one of the best albums in the band's long career), the symphonic genre-mashing necro-opera that mastermind Mirai Kawashima whips up on Graveward still delivers plenty of that sweet weirdness that Sigh has perfected so well. Tearing across the album opener "Kaedit Nos Pestis" like an acid-dosed Venom, Sigh's whacked-out blackened prog-metal is loaded with blistering rocking tempos and blasts of symphonic majesty, crazed chipmunk vocals and auto-tuned wailing, weird incursions of glitchy electronica and sweeping Moog overload, maniacal flute solos and pounding tribal percussion, chorus line singers and chunks of psychedelic folkiness, searing bursts of jazzy synth straight out of 1984 and screaming metallic guitar solos, brass fanfares and blasts of excoriating electronic noise, jazzy saxophone and oddball psychedelia that shows up from the sinister krautrock flirtations that pulse through the heart of "The Forlorn" to the bizarre funkiness that kicks in with "The Molesters Of My Soul". The bizarre vocal performance mixes Mirai's strangled vicious snarl with weird throat singing and crazed gibberish, and half the time it sounds like he's being backed by a Greek chorus. Yikes! And though Sigh's current form is still a far cry from the ragged black metal of their early releases, the band still whips up an onslaught of vicious blackthrash riffery across the entire disc, with lots of aggro riffage and pummeling thrash that gets combined with dense orchestral sounds akin to something off of a Basil Poledouris score. There's also a heap of guest appearances from the likes of neoclassical guitarist Kelly Simonz, singer Matt Heafy (Trivium, Capharnaum), Dragonforce guitarist Frédéric Leclercq, Metatron from The Meads Of Asphodel (who delivers narration over the track "A Messenger From Tomorrow" alongside vocals from Niklas Kvarforth of Shining), and vocalists Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ). Fucking killer stuff, maybe not on the same level as stuff like the aforementioned Somniphobia or my personal favorite Imaginary Sonicscape, but this album is still a total blast and sounds like nobody else. The list of albums that Mirai includes in the liner notes that apparently helped to inspire this glorious thrashing madness gives some insight into the sonic mayhem on display, including everything from Celtic Frost to Ornette Coleman to Magma to Fabio Frizzi. Brilliant and confusional, I'll be heading Graveward for some time to come...
Track Samples:
Sample : The Molesters of My Soul
Sample : Kaedit Nos Pestis
Sample : Dwellers In Dream



SIMONETTI, CLAUDIO   Demons   CD   (Rustblade)    18.98



     Available on LP (limited to six hundred sixty-six hand-numbered copies on blue vinyl), digipack CD, and a deluxe steelbox set.
     "They will make cemeteries their cathedrals, and the cities will be your tomb..." Thus goes the prophetic warning that heralds the onslaught of razor-taloned, pus-spewing 80's horror insanity that is Lamberto Bava's Demoni, or Demons as it was titled for the American release. Outside of his work with the legendary prog rock outfit Goblin, my favorite solo score from keyboardist Claudio Simonetti has always been his nutzoid work for this gore classic. One of the decade's most infamous splat attacks, Demons was a high-energy assault upon your eyeballs, setting loose an army of flesh-ripping, pus-spewing horrors upon the helpless patrons of a sinister Berlin movie theatre, and setting the ensuing carnage to an insane soundtrack that combined Simonetti's bombastic score with a raucous heavy metal playlist that included songs from Motley Crue, Saxon and Billy Idol. For his part, Simonetti used the sort of spiraling gothic synthesizers that marked his work in Goblin, but combined them with hammering drum machine rhythms and harsh, staccato orchestral stabs for something that at times almost sounds like a cross between Goblin and the brutalist electro-funk of Tackhead. While this killer score was finally released in full via a 2003 CD on label Deep Red, it's only now that Simonetti's Demons is being issued on vinyl as a standalone score as a 30th anniversary reissue, along with brand new, definitive CD editions that contain never before released material.
     And man, I love every aspect of this score, it's maniacal Euro-disco throb and pounding mid-80s electro and orchestral sounds that fuels so many of these pieces, funky and ferocious and hallucinatory all at once. The propulsive murderous hypno-rock of "Killing" that Simonetti fleshes out with a wicked ascending string arrangement that turns it into one of the best action pieces I've ever heard, and the bizarre tribal rhythms and staccato drum machines that power the weird Gothic electro-funk of the main "Demon" theme, with it's weird sampled vocal noises and an ass-shaking synth riff make another memorable piece. Elsewhere, he incorporates screaming heavy metal guitar solos with pulsating synth, or stretches of jazzy organ and soulful female vocals that subtly mutate that signature funky theme; some of this is very experimental, like the unsettling combination of industrial rhythms and dissonant orchestral samples on "Cruel Demon", or the swirling cyclical synthdrones of "Threat" that transform into a quick blast of discordant strings; glitchy melodic fragments are layered over deep Moog drones, and backwards-masked noises and strange edits that produce a disturbing effect. This score is so catchy that it works perfectly even completely separated from the gross visuals of Bava's cinematic nightmare; it's all very deliciously 80's, and there's definitely a few moments on here that are very reminiscent of Simonetti's later Goblin work from the 80s, but much of it resembles a more gothic take on the industrial funk of Tackhead, which may look weird on paper but sounds goddamn phenomenal to my ears. An excellent reissue of one of my favorite film scores of all time, a classic blast of 80's Italian hyper-splatter that I love so much I had to pick up every single version for my own collection.
     The LP and CD versions of this reissue feature a bunch of bonus material, including "Demon's Lounge", an awesomely jazzy version of the film's main theme complete with Rhodes piano and soulful female singing; demo versions of several of the main tracks; an eerie demo version of the main theme played on electric piano; a KILLER breakbeat version of the main theme from Simonetti's Simonetti Horror Project album from 1990; and it' capped off with a seriously bizarre (and surprisingly burly) heavy metal version of "Demon" performed by Simonetti's prog-metal outfit Daemonia in LA in 2002. And for the disc, there are also a couple of Quicktime videos included on the CD version of 1985 Italian TV commercials for the original Demoni soundtrack release that RULE, along with some additional photo galleries.
Track Samples:
Sample : Out Of Time
Sample : Killing
Sample : Demon
Sample : Demon (Simonetti Horror Project Version)



SIMONETTI, CLAUDIO   Demons   LP   (Rustblade)    24.98



    Available on LP (limited to six hundred sixty-six hand-numbered copies on blue vinyl), digipack CD, and a deluxe steelbox set.
     "They will make cemeteries their cathedrals, and the cities will be your tomb..." Thus goes the prophetic warning that heralds the onslaught of razor-taloned, pus-spewing 80's horror insanity that is Lamberto Bava's Demoni, or Demons as it was titled for the American release. Outside of his work with the legendary prog rock outfit Goblin, my favorite solo score from keyboardist Claudio Simonetti has always been his nutzoid work for this gore classic. One of the decade's most infamous splat attacks, Demons was a high-energy assault upon your eyeballs, setting loose an army of flesh-ripping, pus-spewing horrors upon the helpless patrons of a sinister Berlin movie theatre, and setting the ensuing carnage to an insane soundtrack that combined Simonetti's bombastic score with a raucous heavy metal playlist that included songs from Motley Crue, Saxon and Billy Idol. For his part, Simonetti used the sort of spiraling gothic synthesizers that marked his work in Goblin, but combined them with hammering drum machine rhythms and harsh, staccato orchestral stabs for something that at times almost sounds like a cross between Goblin and the brutalist electro-funk of Tackhead. While this killer score was finally released in full via a 2003 CD on label Deep Red, it's only now that Simonetti's Demons is being issued on vinyl as a standalone score as a 30th anniversary reissue, along with brand new, definitive CD editions that contain never before released material.
     And man, I love every aspect of this score, it's maniacal Euro-disco throb and pounding mid-80s electro and orchestral sounds that fuels so many of these pieces, funky and ferocious and hallucinatory all at once. The propulsive murderous hypno-rock of "Killing" that Simonetti fleshes out with a wicked ascending string arrangement that turns it into one of the best action pieces I've ever heard, and the bizarre tribal rhythms and staccato drum machines that power the weird Gothic electro-funk of the main "Demon" theme, with it's weird sampled vocal noises and an ass-shaking synth riff make another memorable piece. Elsewhere, he incorporates screaming heavy metal guitar solos with pulsating synth, or stretches of jazzy organ and soulful female vocals that subtly mutate that signature funky theme; some of this is very experimental, like the unsettling combination of industrial rhythms and dissonant orchestral samples on "Cruel Demon", or the swirling cyclical synthdrones of "Threat" that transform into a quick blast of discordant strings; glitchy melodic fragments are layered over deep Moog drones, and backwards-masked noises and strange edits that produce a disturbing effect. This score is so catchy that it works perfectly even completely separated from the gross visuals of Bava's cinematic nightmare; it's all very deliciously 80's, and there's definitely a few moments on here that are very reminiscent of Simonetti's later Goblin work from the 80s, but much of it resembles a more gothic take on the industrial funk of Tackhead, which may look weird on paper but sounds goddamn phenomenal to my ears. An excellent reissue of one of my favorite film scores of all time, a classic blast of 80's Italian hyper-splatter that I love so much I had to pick up every single version for my own collection.
     The LP and CD versions of this reissue feature a bunch of bonus material, including "Demon's Lounge", an awesomely jazzy version of the film's main theme complete with Rhodes piano and soulful female singing; demo versions of several of the main tracks; an eerie demo version of the main theme played on electric piano; a KILLER breakbeat version of the main theme from Simonetti's Simonetti Horror Project album from 1990; and it' capped off with a seriously bizarre (and surprisingly burly) heavy metal version of "Demon" performed by Simonetti's prog-metal outfit Daemonia in LA in 2002. And for the disc, there are also a couple of Quicktime videos included on the CD version of 1985 Italian TV commercials for the original Demoni soundtrack release that RULE, along with some additional photo galleries.
Track Samples:
Sample : Out Of Time
Sample : Killing
Sample : Demon
Sample : Demon (Simonetti Horror Project Version)



SIMONETTI, CLAUDIO   Demons (Limited Edition Boxset)   2 x CD   (Rustblade)    46.98



    Available on LP (limited to six hundred sixty-six hand-numbered copies on blue vinyl), digipack CD, and a deluxe steelbox set.
     "They will make cemeteries their cathedrals, and the cities will be your tomb..." Thus goes the prophetic warning that heralds the onslaught of razor-taloned, pus-spewing 80's horror insanity that is Lamberto Bava's Demoni, or Demons as it was titled for the American release. Outside of his work with the legendary prog rock outfit Goblin, my favorite solo score from keyboardist Claudio Simonetti has always been his nutzoid work for this gore classic. One of the decade's most infamous splat attacks, Demons was a high-energy assault upon your eyeballs, setting loose an army of flesh-ripping, pus-spewing horrors upon the helpless patrons of a sinister Berlin movie theatre, and setting the ensuing carnage to an insane soundtrack that combined Simonetti's bombastic score with a raucous heavy metal playlist that included songs from Motley Crue, Saxon and Billy Idol. For his part, Simonetti used the sort of spiraling gothic synthesizers that marked his work in Goblin, but combined them with hammering drum machine rhythms and harsh, staccato orchestral stabs for something that at times almost sounds like a cross between Goblin and the brutalist electro-funk of Tackhead. While this killer score was finally released in full via a 2003 CD on label Deep Red, it's only now that Simonetti's Demons is being issued on vinyl as a standalone score as a 30th anniversary reissue, along with brand new, definitive CD editions that contain never before released material.
     And man, I love every aspect of this score, it's maniacal Euro-disco throb and pounding mid-80s electro and orchestral sounds that fuels so many of these pieces, funky and ferocious and hallucinatory all at once. The propulsive murderous hypno-rock of "Killing" that Simonetti fleshes out with a wicked ascending string arrangement that turns it into one of the best action pieces I've ever heard, and the bizarre tribal rhythms and staccato drum machines that power the weird Gothic electro-funk of the main "Demon" theme, with it's weird sampled vocal noises and an ass-shaking synth riff make another memorable piece. Elsewhere, he incorporates screaming heavy metal guitar solos with pulsating synth, or stretches of jazzy organ and soulful female vocals that subtly mutate that signature funky theme; some of this is very experimental, like the unsettling combination of industrial rhythms and dissonant orchestral samples on "Cruel Demon", or the swirling cyclical synthdrones of "Threat" that transform into a quick blast of discordant strings; glitchy melodic fragments are layered over deep Moog drones, and backwards-masked noises and strange edits that produce a disturbing effect. This score is so catchy that it works perfectly even completely separated from the gross visuals of Bava's cinematic nightmare; it's all very deliciously 80's, and there's definitely a few moments on here that are very reminiscent of Simonetti's later Goblin work from the 80s, but much of it resembles a more gothic take on the industrial funk of Tackhead, which may look weird on paper but sounds goddamn phenomenal to my ears. An excellent reissue of one of my favorite film scores of all time, a classic blast of 80's Italian hyper-splatter that I love so much I had to pick up every single version for my own collection.
     The LP and CD versions of this reissue feature a bunch of bonus material, including "Demon's Lounge", an awesomely jazzy version of the film's main theme complete with Rhodes piano and soulful female singing; demo versions of several of the main tracks; an eerie demo version of the main theme played on electric piano; a KILLER breakbeat version of the main theme from Simonetti's Simonetti Horror Project album from 1990; and it' capped off with a seriously bizarre (and surprisingly burly) heavy metal version of "Demon" performed by Simonetti's prog-metal outfit Daemonia in LA in 2002. And for the disc, there are also a couple of Quicktime videos included on the CD version of 1985 Italian TV commercials for the original Demoni soundtrack release that RULE, along with some additional photo galleries.
     In addition, the super-limited deluxe boxset has that digipack CD as well as a bonus CD that features the entire score remixed and radically altered by the likes of Ohgr (Skinny Puppy), Cervello Elettronico, Simulakrum Lab, The Devil And The Universe, :Bahntier//, Needle Sharing and Leather Strip, as well as additional tracks from Fangoria scribe and electronic musician Chris Alexander and Creature From The Black, and also incudes a metal Demons badge, a full color art insert, and a postcard reproduction of the Metropol ticket seen in the film, all housed in a hinged tin box and limited to four hundred ninety-nine copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : Out Of Time
Sample : Killing
Sample : Demon
Sample : Demon (Simonetti Horror Project Version)



SLAVES   Issue 2   MAGAZINE A5   (Slaves Fanzine)    7.50



     Caveat emptor. Black and white British zine Slaves has a rude, raucous attitude that reeks of the more misanthropic fringes of 90's underground zine culture. As you flip through these sixty-four pages of unbridled spite delivered through surprisingly in-depth Q&A's with a variety of subterranean mutants, one definitely gets the feeling that the maniac behind this thing is just as influenced by the likes of Answer Me!, Panik and Headpress as by classic extreme metal rags like Slayer and Descent. An old-school style, half-size xeroxed zine, Slaves is well edited and designed, and positively loaded with lengthy interviews from the likes of Dweller of Endless Graves from noise-damaged black metal outfit Below; vicious American black thrashers Ampütator; black/death metal scumbeasts Sex Blasphemy; Lithuanian black metallers Sanctophoby; Danish label Silver Key Records; the guys behind Hellvetron / Nyogthaeblisz; reviews ranging from Ride For Revenge records to violent pornography to Howard Chaykin's "transgressive horror noir" comic book Black Kiss to dark, apocalyptic drum n' bass; porn / fetish / horror actress Caroline Pierce; Sabazios Diabolus from Canadian black metallers Lust; and UK doom/death heavies Indesinence, along with continuous doses of nudity, tongue in cheek humor, femdom, profanity, lewdness, and rudeness.
     The highlights of this issue, though, are two interviews in particular: the first is a conversation with Iscariah (aka Stian Smørholm) of Immortal / Necrophagia / Twilight of the Gods / Dead to This World fame, where he talks about his experience as a kid when he was subjected to a "heavy metal deprogramming" camp run by a Christian group in Norway; the other is a massive sixteen-page interview with infamous artist / provocateur / misanthropist Antichrist Kramer that makes for a highly interesting read. The focus of the whole zine is on the eccentric and the contrarian and the transgressive, with no kvlter than thou metal purist attitude, but a wickedly sardonic sense of humor and an erudition that can see the editor citing the likes of Anthony Braxton and Conqueror in the same sentence (in his review of M.N.D.B.L.S.T.N.G.'s Worse + Worse 1979-2088). You'd best be warned, though - the language and sentiments expressed here can be impolitic to say the least, and "un-P.C." would be one way to describe some of what is found within the pages of this zine. Both the editor and the artists he interrogates display an unapologetic level of misanthropy and sneering disdain for pretty much everyone, so if you wish to avoid despicable language, severe anti-social behavior and unfriendly attitudes, steer clear of Slaves.


SLEEP   Dopesmoker   2 x LP PICTURE DISC   (Southern Lord)    31.99



    The latest repress of the double picture disc LP version of this all-time stoner metal classic.
    The umpteenth release of one of sludge metal's most legendary albums, the 2012 reissue of Sleep's classic Dopesmoker album offers a new re-mastering, new (and improved, in my opinion) artwork from Arik Roper, and a different bonus track from the previous edition released by Tee Pee back in 2003. Most doom fans know that this album itself is an alternate release of the ill-fated Jerusalem that famously was supposed to have been released by the major label London Records back in the 90s, but ended up being shelved for years due to the label's complete loss of interest in the release. It was later resurrected at the end of the decade, and an alternate version titled Dopesmoker emerged at the beginning of the 2000s, which has gone on to become the band's (and fan's ) preferred version of the album. Listening to Dopesmoker again, it's easy to see why this has become such a landmark of slow-motion metal.
    Sprawling out for just over an hour, this titanic tar pit jam winds through a maze of gluey riffs and thunderous hypnotic tempos, shifting from a leaden crawl to quicker (but still pulverizing) grooves every couple of minutes. It's hardly a one-riff slogfest; just take a look at the copy of the band's ridiculous "charts" that's included on the insert - how these guys could manage to keep track of what they were doing and where they were going while smoking as much dope as they did is nothing short of amazing. The trio of Al Cisneros, Chris Hakius and Matt Pike crafted a towering monument to explorational heaviness on this album, pushing past the boundaries of Black Sabbath's dread-filled doom into more ecstatic regions of molten psychedlia and tectonic drone. All through the lumbering lava-like riffing and trance-like repetition of "Dopesmoker", you can hear the seeds of the meditational hypno-rock that Cisneros and Hakius would go on to develop with Om, and the bone-rattling guitar tone, chant-like bellow and molten war-riffage of Matt Pike (later of High On Fire) was fully formed here. The religious references and reverence for the Leaf were another aspect of Sleep's music and presentation that would be later adopted by a million stoner-doom wannabes, but here it feels unique.
    For the CD version, the band also includes a live performance of their "Holy Mountain" from a 1994 San Francisco show, replacing the live track "Sonic Titan" from the Tee Pee release. On the 2xLP version, however, both "Sonic Titan" and "Holy Mountain" are included together on the last side.
    Utterly essential. I can't imagine any serious doom metal/sludge fan not having this in their collection.
Track Samples:
Sample : Dopesmoker
Sample : Sonic Titan



SOLUTIONS   Life Of Joy   12"   (Iron Lung Records)    14.99



     These maniacs extricate themselves from the current seething mass of neo-powerviolence bands with this singularly bestial take on that classic West Coast hardcore aesthetic. The new record Life Of Joy from Solutions is one of the nastiest pieces of vinyl you're going to find on this week's list. It's the debut from this NY hardcore outfit, which features members of several other C-Blast faves like Dead Language and Gas Chamber, a short one-sided 12" that still manages to totally exhaust you by record's end, fusing a thoroughly vicious blastcore assault to intelligent, philosophical lyrics laced with literary references (there's an entire quote from Malcolm Lowry's 1947 novel Under the Volcano in one song, for pete's sake) and readings from old press releases from Jim Jones's Peoples Temple. As you might guess, there's a bleakly misanthropic vibe at work in this stuff.
     Opening with surreal looped sounds and robotic female voices repeating the band name over and over, Joy winds it's gears to the snapping point, then releases in an ultra-violent spasm of muscular, nihilistic blastcore, which in its most violent throes is cut from the same raw meat as Infest and Man Is The Bastard, but somehow manages to sound even more feral. The blasting tempos and ultra-violent hardcore riffs hammer through the listener like metal against flesh, six songs of vicious powerviolence that are infested with traces of other, equally rabid forms: when the band slips down into the monstrous sludge of "Organs Of Generation", it's like an asphalt roller pasting you into the gravel; and on "Destroy Potential", Solutions hurtle through a pulverizing powerviolence assault raked by crazed string scrapes and intense, bestial screams that make you wonder if the guitarists have been listening to copious amounts of Canadian war metallers like Revenge and Conqueror. And then there are the parts where they hammer out some awesome skronky sludge like the end of "Man's Journey Sunward", which ends up falling somewhere between Midwestern noise rock puke and late era Black Flag. Goddamn awesome, a totally different approach than the stuff that some of these guys do in Gas Chamber, but it's just as compelling and forward-thinking.
     Limited to three hundred copies.


SPECIAL PEOPLE   David Carradine Style   CASSETTE   (Special People Music)    5.00














SPECIAL PEOPLE   Spring Tour 2015   CASSETTE   (Special People Music)    5.00



     Along with the latest full-length slab of twitchy noise rock from these Baltimore punks that was likewise released on cassette, we also nabbed some copies of their Spring Tour EP that was released in arigato-style packaging in a limited run of fifty copies for their Spring 2015 tour down through the South. It's just three songs, but they all kill, each a brand new blast of discordant jangle and pounding off-kilter drumming, once again bridging that weird zone of theirs somewhere in between low-fi noise-pop prettiness and some totally snot-nosed noisepunk yowl. It teeters between the band's penchant for lurching, melodic skronk that sort of reminds me of some of the more accessible stuff that was coming out of the NYC art-punk underground in the early 80s, and slower, almost dirgey chunks of miserable Flipper-esque sludge a la "Plain". As with the other stuff I've picked up from these guys, these songs have a creepy undercurrent that kinda crawls under your skin more and more with repeated listens. Which means you gotta listen to it repeatedly. Great stuff from one of the best noise rock bands coming out of Baltimore right now.


SPRAWL   self-titled   LP   (Trost)    24.00



    If the rusted sawblade image that makes up the cover art wasn't enough of a clue, this is anything but another bleating, meandering avant-jazz exercise. No fuckin' sir. Headed by Alex Buess of the Swiss power-jazzcore outfit 16-17, Sprawl only existed long enough to record this one album back in 1997, but man what a record. The lineup that Buess surrounded himself with is European assault-jazz royalty: you've got legendary saxophonist Peter Brötzmann playing alongside the great NYC bassist William Parker, powerhouse drummer Michael Wertmüller (Alboth!, 16-17, Full Blast) and Swiss avant-guitarist Stephan Wittwer, with Buess on sax and electronics, and together these guys proceed to strafe the room with tongues of vicious white fire that's some of the most vicious improvised jazz-rock I've heard. We're talking about a heavy-duty, industrial-strength skronk assault. The whole record vibrates with Wertmüller's pummeling performance, detonating grindcore-style blast beats and super-heavy percussive attacks that only occasionally falls back into more restrained, nuanced playing. This amid squalls of searing sax noise and mangled guitar, which frequently comes together into a wall of sound and speed that can hit hardcore punk-levels of ferocity and manages to out-heavy Last Exit.
    The first track alone is a goddamn bulldozer, the drums speeding in at light speed velocity before everything tangles into a nuclear-strength squall of bleating chaos. It rarely lets up from there. There are moments when the musicians pull back and you start to get some interesting interplay between the group, but for the most part these guys are working in concert to totally flatten the listener with the force of their sound, often deconstructing the music into a crushing, primordial rumble. It's fucking awesome. And that last track "Erstes Purgatorium" is about as brutal as free jazz can get - the drumming sounds like it could have been lifted straight off of a Napalm Death record, which just whips the rest of the group into a blur of skin-melting skronk. I loved this album when it originally came out on CD, but it's hitting me even more now as I revisit via this new, remastered vinyl reissue; the CD is still the definitive release, as they had to trim some of the material for the vinyl reissue, but since that version is long out of print, I'd say grab it however you can. Highly recommended if you're into stuff like Painkiller, Last Exit, Flying Luttenbachers, and John Zorn's other, harder projects. Includes a digital download.


STONE WIRED   Umbral Depth Of Shade   CD   (Exabyss)    7.99



     The final album of monstrous black electronics and technoid horror from NY-based artist Mortum, who blends mutant Annihilvs-esque visuals and an oppressive, dystopian atmosphere with these thirteen tracks of bleak, nightmarish industrial music. And it is some grim stuff. Umbral moves from the pounding opening salvo of almost Terrorfakt-like power noise of "Regressed Back To The State Of Primal Being", with massively distorted vocals buried beneath a fog of acrid static, through the rumbling death-drones and searing synths of "Diminutive Bodies" and "Darker Medium" and the hypnotic and hideously distorted black throb of "Severe The Silence" that burrows like a grub through the rotting electrified carcass of the track.
     All of this stuff navigates through a similarly blasted, wreckage-strewn waste of industrial filth, mapping out the disintegration of the early 21st century mind through the assemblage of samples, crushing slow-motion synth-pulse, increasingly abstract dronescapes that break up into fields of malignant glitchery, and some incredibly heavy blasts of mechanized throb that thunder up from the depths of vast Lustmordian voids, sprawls of blackened Carpenterian pulse, and on a few tracks Stone Wired combines a hellish death industrial vibe with putrid, slithering dancefloor rhythms and evil drawled vocals, like some filthy strain of EBM dredged up from the sewers of some collapsed urban filthscape. It's those moments that really stand out, a malevolent mix of evil power noise, brute-force power electronics and Cold Meat-influenced abyssal ambience that's possessed with a particularly crushing synth sound that cranks the distortion so far into the red that the massive rumbling chords and drones take on the weight of tectonic crust breaking apart beneath your feet. It throws a curveball at the end though, offering an alternate version of the track "With The Eyes Of A Blind" that adds a live drummer and additional waves of black cosmic electronics, and produces a killer, spaced-out dose of industrial dirge-rock that doesn't sound like anything that preceded it, awash in squelchy synth noise and howling Hawkwindian effects and sini8ster slurred vocals. It's another cool slab of pitch-black electronic abuse from the ExAbyss imprint, which anyone into the equally jet-black industrial sounds that have been coming from Annihilvs and Malignant in recent years should check out.
Track Samples:
Sample : With The Eyes Of A Blind ( Version )
Sample : Severe The Silence
Sample : Desecration Of A Venerated Object



SWANS   Filth (Deluxe Reissue)   3 x CD   (Young God)    22.98



    Swans' devastating debut Filth recently got the vinyl reissue treatment via Young God (the label run by Swans founder Michael Gira) at the end of last year, but we've been waiting a while on a new, definitive CD version for this essential, seminal album of ultra-heavy industrial scum rock, a masterpiece of abject dread and late 20th century urban horror. And here it is, a deluxe triple-disc reissue of Filth that's the final word on this era of the NYC band's existence. Packaged in a thick, killer-looking digipack with raised print, this new, re-mastered 2015 edition of Filth features the two discs that made up the previous Filth / Body To Body Job To Job CD that Young God put out years ago, but also adds a third disc that contains the band's self-titled 12" from 1982, as well as live recordings of Swans at CBGBS in 1982 and '83 and in London in 1984. It also features a revised package design and a sixteen-page booklet, and again, looks fantastic. Needless to say, I grabbed my own copy as soon as they came in. Here's my previous write-up for the Filth / Body... set:
    Thirty years on, and still nothing matches the sheer teeth-loosening power of Swans' Filth. An all-time favorite, this one, a crucial slab of crushing urban decay and psychological putrescence from this legendary, pioneering post-punk outfit. The band's 1983 debut (originally released on Neutral Records) from the classic pre-Jarboe lineup is Swans at their all-time ugliest, lumbering through a set of some of the nastiest No Wave-damaged sludge ever, their sound and their attack informed by the early industrial skree of Throbbing Gristle, the discordant energy surrounding the nascent NYC art-punk underground, and the caveman punk stomp of classic Stooges. At the time, Gira stated that he wanted Swans to be heavier than anything else, and he succeeded - make no mistake, Filth sounded like nothing else in the early 80s, an abject trudge through pounding brutalist rhythms produced by the formidable drumming team of Jonathan Kane and Roli Mosimann, who bashed out their simple but powerful rhythms on dual drum kits and assorted metal detritus, infesting the booming slow dirge-like tempos with an array of clanking junk, while guitarist Norman Westberg smears his atonal chords and howling jagged anti-melodies over the spiked off-kilter grooves, and Harry Crosby's bass lurches against the beat. Behind the band's abrasive assault, various crudely constructed tape loops and mutated electronics squeal and splutter, a backdrop of warped noises that potentiate the disturbing feel of this music. The atonal skronk of songs like "Big Strong Boss" obviously draw from the No Wave stuff that had emerged several years earlier, but here Gira and team hammered that sound into something so much more heavy and grotesque, a perfect backing on which Gira was able to hang his yowling vocals, his lyrics drenched in themes of power, sex, greed and debasement that Gira would continue to explore throughout Swans' career, but here blunted and stripped down to a kind of broken sewer poetry, barked out in a minimal, declamatory delivery over the band's brutal noise-addled punk. Seminal stuff; just take a listen to the discordant quasi-hardcore of "Freak", there's no mistaking the album's influence on pretty much all extreme metal, punk and industrial that followed. A truly essential album within the realm of extreme music.
    The Filth disc is rounded out with a pummeling twenty-four minute live set comprised of recordings made between 1982 and 1983 at legendary NYC experimental art venue The Kitchen, featuring six tracks taken from various early Swans releases ("Strip/Burn", "Heatsheet", "Blackout", "Clay Man", "Stay Here" and "Weakling"); this live material captures the band at full ferocity, battering their way through sprawling, monotonous percussive assaults, the band hammering the audience with their din of howling noise and clanking scrap-metal rhythms and lurching, elliptic heaviness. Fucking awesome.
    Disc two is an expanded version of Swans' 1991 compilation Body To Body, Job To Job, a collection of material recorded between 1982 and 1985 comprised of assorted studio recordings (mostly alternate versions of material from the band's Cop album) and some of the squealing noise loops that the band created to be played during their live sets. It's all odds'n'ends, but really fascinating for fans of this era of the band, back when Swans were creating some of the heaviest music to come out of the American post-punk underground. At their heaviest, you get the tortured dirge of "I'll Cry For You" and the howling pummel of "Red Sheet", churning rhythmic thud driven by the crushing dual-drummer assault, while the lurching discordant sludge of "Your Game" and "Half Life" clearly shows where Justin Broadrick got his inspiration for Godflesh's industrial grindcore. That and the other studio recordings featured here rank as some of the bands heaviest ever, monstrous slabs of deformed industrial funk and squalling No Wave horror, insidiously hypnotic but lashed with astringent guitars, offset by murky live tracks that ooze out of your speakers like so much black blood and engine grease. An act of endless self-immolation in motion, the disc finally collapses beneath the weight of a monstrous live rendition of the band's classic "Raping A Slave", recorded in Berlin in 1984, a final testament to the ruination of wretched flesh. Essential.
    The collection is rounded out with that third disc with the self-titled four-song EP from 1982, unavailable on CD since the early 90s and possible the main reason why longtime Swans fans may want to upgrade to this version. While that 12" wasn't as brutally heavy as the Filth album, these earliest recordings from Swans still show a decidedly more brutal take on the No Wave aesthetic and post-punk influences that helped shape the band's sound early on. Discordant guitar chords ring out over lurching, cyclical bass lines, and the eerie bleat of Daniel Galli-Duani's saxophone echoes across the background on opener "Laugh", a mesmeric slab of art-punk ugliness that reveals an almost krautrock-style propulsion. "Speak" is a little closer to the abject power-sludge the band would shift into, sending shards of splintered guitar noise flying over the damaged anti-funk the rhythm section lays down, while "Take Advantage" almost feels like a vastly more anxiety-riddled take on Joy Division, stumbling over itself in its headlong rush into oblivion. And "Sensitive Skin" twitches in slow motion, a writhing angular dirge that may be the most menacing song on the record. All in all, a fascinating look at the band's earliest post-punk throes. The rest of the disc is rounded out with those live tracks from CBGBs and London club Heaven, mostly made up of album material bashed out violently in front of tiny, dumbfounded audiences, beset by miniature symphonies of clashing metal and brutal concussive rhythms, squalls of horrific guitar noise and tortured prose, capturing Swans raw and bleeding in the flesh at the dawn of their career.
Track Samples:
Sample : Freak
Sample : Power for Power
Sample : Stay Here
Sample : Weakling



T.A.Z.   Communique #1 (Fall 2013)   7" VINYL + CDR   (Annihilvs)    8.50














THOABATH   Through Smoke and Feathers   CASSETTE   (Black Horizons)    7.99














THORNS   self-titled   2 x LP   (Peaceville)    37.99



    Finally available again on vinyl, repressed by Peaceville in gatefold packaging.
    First released back in 2001 on Moonfog Productions, the self-titled debut from the Norwegian band Thorns reached a new level in sleek industrialized black metal power, combining bizarre electronic textures and sheets of noise with the pummeling, precise black metal assault of primary member Snorre W. Ruch. Ruch's project had its roots in the nascent Norwegian black metal scene of the late 80s/early 90s alongside the likes of Mayhem, Emperor and Burzum, but the band's activity was cut short when Snorre was imprisoned for his role in the murder of Mayhem guitarist Euronymous. It wouldn't be until the very end of the decade that Snorre would resurface and return to his dormant project, resurrecting it as a fearsome new vision of cold, futuristic black metal, combining blazing Nordic blast with heavy doses of pitch-black abyssal electronica that didn't sound like anything else out there when it came out, the closest possible comparison being the bizarre avant-gardisms of Dødheimsgard's 666 International. This bold, bombastic new industrial black metal sound would first appear on the split LP with Emperor, which is still one of the weirdest albums to come from the Norwegian black metal scene, and was then followed by this, Thorns's self-titled debut, which remains to this day the only official full-length from the band.
    Recorded with the help of members of Satyricon, Mayhem and Dodheimsgard, Thorns is a futuristic, often abstract album unlike anything else in the Norwegian black metal underground. From the album opener "Existence" and onward, Snorre crafts tightly constructed blasts of blackened violence from his arsenal of dissonant guitar riffs, ferocious blastbeats, and the scowling vocal attack of Satyr Wongraven and Bjørn Dencker. Cold, clinical tremolo riffs ripple across the mechanized percussive pummel as the songs surge and spasm, lurching through odd time signature changes and sudden breakdowns into vicious militant martial rhythms, like the fucking ferocious breakdown that rips apart "World Playground Deceit". Other tracks feature pounding sheet-metal / machine shop percussion and swells of sinister orchestral drift injected into the creeping black dirge, at times sounding like some ultra malevolent Wax Trax industrial, the sounds of drills and pneumatic presses operating behind the jagged metallic riffage and pounding percussive stomp. There's some killer mechanized thrash that appears on songs like "Stellar Master Elite" and "Interface to God", while other tracks drift out into fields of minimal dark ambience, distant bathysphere pings and tectonic rumblings like something off of an Inade album, slowly building into another militant metallic kill-groove. There's a warped, seasick quality to a lot of these riffs, bringing a disturbing discordance to Thorns's strange Satanic cyber-symphony, and the surreal feel of the album is further enhanced by blasts of chilling organ and skittering, almost breakbeat-like rhythms, gleaming black electronics and fractured trip-hop like beats, and passages of ominous minor key piano laced with crushing metallic guitars and Snorre's sinister spoken word delivery.
    Can't recommend this one enough to anyone into mechanized black metal. Thorns is still one of the more terrifying industrial black metal albums from that era, as weird and as vicious as what Dodheimsgard were doing around that time. On the CD version of the Peaceville reissue, the original album is also joined by a pair of bonus tracks taken from Thorns's 2000 demo, a longer version of "Existence" followed by a track titled "TSoS" that delivers a killer blast of kosmische-tinged blackness.
Track Samples:
Sample : Existence
Sample : Tsos [*][Demo Version]
Sample : Underneath the Universe, Pt. 2
Sample : Vortex



TRAUMA   After Visiting Hours   CASSETTE   (Fall Of Nature)    6.50



    Now sold out from source, Trauma's After Visiting Hours is a new cassette reissue of the 2008 album from this obscure, somewhat mysterious outfit, issued on the ever-terrific Australian label Fall of Nature. Little is known about the project that produced this piece of grimy medical horror, having issued only a handful of extremely limited CDR releases along with some material that was apparently only available online as digital files. This tape was the first thing I'd heard from the project, myself. Killer stuff, though, a bit different from the sort of blackened noise and experimental black metal that this label is generally known for, but just as unremittingly grim.
    You get eight tracks of pulsating electronics, withering rhythmic throb and creepy vocal noises that metastasize as a kind of minimalist death industrial. Track titles like "Tracheotomy", "Electroconvulsive Therapy" and "Intubation / Sleep Deprivation" combine with a cold, clinical atmosphere that successfully evokes the isolation and distress of finding oneself in a hospital, the experience transmuted into a kind of personal hellscape. Unsettling conversations and overheard diagnoses echo from far down sterilized hallways, drifting over ominous machinelike drones and layered feedback, slipping into nightmarish tangles of garbled sound and monotonous industrial rumble. Muffled whimpers and racking coughs resound deep underneath hypnotic electrical impulses and looping high-end noise. There's some recurring rhythmic elements, super-minimal crackling loops and almost cardiac-like pulses that drift in and out throughout the album, but that stuff often disappears behind controlled bursts of black static. Sounds of human distress are slowly buried beneath a grainy blanket of reverberant electronics, gradually transforming this into a delirious shortwave transmission drifting out of the bowels of some horrific surgical clinic; it's like an aural accompaniment to a Michael Blumlein story. It's only at the very end that After... connects with something a little more human, slipping into another super minimal throb almost akin to some super-minimal industrial techno, a static-streaked electronic pulse and distant snare hit coalescing into a head-nodding groove, cutting through the final stretch of burn-ward ambience and electro-shock emanations. It's all very much in the vein of that classic Atrax Morgue / Slaughter Productions aesthetic, but done very well; fans of more recent outfits in this vein like Subklinik and Klinikal Skum would do well to check this out. Limited to sixty copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : Catatonic
Sample : Withdrawal Symptoms
Sample : Tracheotomy



TREPONEM PAL   Aggravation   CD   (Metal Mind)    15.99



    Not sure how I missed stocking this here at C-Blast before, seeing as how Treponem Pal's Aggravation is one of my fave industrial metal albums from the early 90s, but we're just now getting this limited-edition digipack reissue in stock. Recorded by founding Swans member Roli Mosimann and originally released on once-great metal label Roadrunner Records, Aggravation was the second album from these French metallurgists, who were part of that original groundswell of industrial metal in the latter half of the 1980s.
    It's still considered by many fans to be their best work. It certainly embodies their unique combination of sounds in it's most stripped-down, aggressive form, a mix of pounding scrap-metal rhythms, dissonant guitarwork and off-kilter time signatures that could be crudely compared to a cross between Voivod and Godflesh. The crushing clangor of early Swans is clearly an influence on Treponem Pal's sound as well, but the band also heavily utilized the violent energy of late 80's thrash metal in the construction of their rusted-out, dystopian anthems. The result is one of the more interesting and atmospheric sounds to come out of the blasted post-Streetcleaner landscape, delivering controlled bursts of discordant mecha-thrash like opener "Rest Is A War" alongside the jackhammer industro-crush and bleak, feedback-lashed ambience of "Love" and "What Does It Mean". Godflesh's influence can be heard in the monstrously distorted bass riffs and grinding, machinelike grooves that cut through these songs, but Treponem Pal combined that lurching, mechanical heaviness with their dissonant thrash in a manner that sounded pretty unique, and they definitely stood out among the rest of the 'Flesh-disciples that were appearing during this era. The album never slips into rote mindless repetition, mixing things up with bursts of speed and power, especially towards the end where you get a blast of hardcore thrash like "TV Matic" heading directly into a brooding, epic rendition of Kraftwerk's "Radioactivity". There's a harshly nihilistic attitude that flows through this album, intrinsic to the cold, apocalyptic vibe that emanates from Aggravation, and that tough, misanthropic attitude can be heard in Marco Neves' snarling vocals and the read in the angry lyrics. It's also interesting to note how prescient some of the album's slower moments are as well; there's a couple of moments where Treponem pal drop into a punishing dirge that foreshadows the sound that Neurosis would explore a few years later. An essential album for fans of the band, and one of the best industrial metal records from this period.
    Comes in digipack packaging, in a machine-numbered edition of two thousand copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : Rest Is a War
Sample : Radioactivity
Sample : Love



TRTRKMMR   Avec La Souillure Nous Entrons Au Règne De La Terreur   LP   (Iron Lung Records)    15.99



     I've been looking forward to a TRTRKMMR album ever since hearing the split with Dead Times from several years ago. This horrific black industrial outfit from the former vocalist of Philly sludge metallers Otesanek delivered some terrific nightmarish filth on that record, and we're finally getting that long-awaited LP of this stuff; TRTRKMMR's strangely regal mix of occult imagery, skull-shredding electronic noise and pummeling percussive power still sounds very unique, akin in some ways to the blackened industrial horrors of labelmates Pig Heart Transplant, but as one can hear with this collection of tracks, ultimately pursues a very different aim.
     Avec La Souillure Nous Entrons doesn't have the formless quality that a lot of contemporary death industrial has; each of these sixteen tracks feels intricately assembled, nothing left to chance. Each putrid noise loop, each warbling synth drone fits perfectly in place, and when the almost militaristic pound of the sampled drums that thunder across the first few tracks suddenly gives way to the blown-out industrial black metal of "The Black Leprosies Of Hell", it's violently effective, moving abruptly into a black swarm of Nordic buzzsaw riffs and stomping martial rhythms, festooned in electronic gristle and blood-gargling vocals. As the album progresses, those black metal elements continue to weave in and out of the music, shifting from ultra-raw blackened riffery and crushing, wrecked drum machines into queasy industrial loop-blasts and glitch-scarred electronic chaos, erupting into walls of suffocating distortion and rumbling low-end power. Gusts of weirdly pretty synth that are distorted into high, keening, searing metallic melodies appear, sometimes laced with ancient and obscure horror movie samples. Many of these sequences of almost Godfleshian might stumble into sickening yet utterly hypnotic mechanical grooves, and the end result is a garbled, but oddly majestic brand of blackened industrial, balanced on the edge between cacophonic blackness and determined power electronics, at times akin to early Ildjarn being re-worked by Batztoutai-era Merzbow. And it includes a cover of the track "Cro-Bar" originally written by Chicago power electronics squad Bloodyminded, reinterpreted as something filthier and more frenzied. The one constant of Avec La Souillure Nous Entrons is the atmosphere of feral, ravenous violence that creeps across both sides of the record. It's one of the best things I've heard on Iron Lung this year. Total industrial savagery.
     The assembly for this Lp is pretty nuts: each record comes with a hand-numbered insert featuring artwork and a Rorschach blot stained with the artist's own blood, and they made five hundred of these things. The twenty-page booklet that also comes with this is filled with more artwork, lyrics, and ample quotes from the likes of dark fantasists and literary pessimists such as Robert W. Chambers, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, J.K. Huysmans, Thomas Ligotti, Algernon Blackwood, E. M. Cioran, Baudelaire, and Michael Moorcock that connect the dark vision behind this music and art. It REALLY speaks my language. Check this out if you're into the likes of Sewer Goddess, Gnaw Their Tongues, Demonologists, as Avec La Souillure Nous Entrons Au Re`gne De La Terreur delivers an equally high caliber of demonic industrial horror. Includes a digital download.


UFOMAMMUT   Ecate   CD   (Neurot)    14.99



     Celestial ascension is imminent with the long-awaited new album from Italian space metal titans Ufomammut, their first new release since the monstrous multi-part Oro saga that came out over three years ago. As these guys have continued to do throughout their fifteen year career, Ufomammut continues to deliver some of the most massively crushing cosmic sludge around, unleashing long lumbering tripped-out dirges on Ecate that rise from a storm of swirling Hawkwindian synthesizer effects and kosmische electronic spew, a backdrop for the monstrous slow-mo riffs that uncoil through each of the six songs that make up the album. That tooth-rattling guitar sound of theirs seems even more crushing and distorted than ever here, birthing these awesome saurian riffs that are cranked into immense levels of fuzz and crunch, clambering across the elephantine rumble of the rhythm section and the waves of chromium electronics that sweep across the mesmeric power-dirge of songs like opener "Somnium". There's a vaguely religious feel that seeps throughout their sludge-a-thons, ghosts of church choir voices and shades of liturgical majesty that flicker like faint shadows behind their mammoth drugged out dirges, and as always, repetition is weaponized, the band wielding their titanic circular riffs to create a earthshaking trance state akin to bands like Circle and Gore, a fusion of motorik propulsion and beastly sludge metal.
     The rest of the album is just as relentless in it's plodding, lysergic power, staggering through dense nebular clouds of shortwave radio chaos and interstellar synth fuckery, slamming into brutally heavy sludge-encrusted grooves that threaten to collapse beneath their own shoggoth-like weight and mass, emitting a mix of spaced-out chanting and screeching vocal violence, descending into sprawls of gleaming spacedrift akin to classic Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Ash Ra Tempel, but bathed in an ocean of abyssal murk. So heavy, and so addictive. And as usual, the album art and design is fantastic, once again utilizing the band's in-house design studio Malleus to produce the mystic, menacing imagery that adorns the eight-page booklet that accompanies Ecate.
Track Samples:
Sample : Somnium
Sample : Revelation
Sample : Chaosecret



UFOMAMMUT   Ecate   LP   (Neurot)    16.98



Celestial ascension is imminent with the long-awaited new album from Italian space metal titans Ufomammut, their first new release since the monstrous multi-part Oro saga that came out over three years ago. As these guys have continued to do throughout their fifteen year career, Ufomammut continues to deliver some of the most massively crushing cosmic sludge around, unleashing long lumbering tripped-out dirges on Ecate that rise from a storm of swirling Hawkwindian synthesizer effects and kosmische electronic spew, a backdrop for the monstrous slow-mo riffs that uncoil through each of the six songs that make up the album. That tooth-rattling guitar sound of theirs seems even more crushing and distorted than ever here, birthing these awesome saurian riffs that are cranked into immense levels of fuzz and crunch, clambering across the elephantine rumble of the rhythm section and the waves of chromium electronics that sweep across the mesmeric power-dirge of songs like opener "Somnium". There's a vaguely religious feel that seeps throughout their sludge-a-thons, ghosts of church choir voices and shades of liturgical majesty that flicker like faint shadows behind their mammoth drugged out dirges, and as always, repetition is weaponized, the band wielding their titanic circular riffs to create a earthshaking trance state akin to bands like Circle and Gore, a fusion of motorik propulsion and beastly sludge metal.
The rest of the album is just as relentless in it's plodding, lysergic power, staggering through dense nebular clouds of shortwave radio chaos and interstellar synth fuckery, slamming into brutally heavy sludge-encrusted grooves that threaten to collapse beneath their own shoggoth-like weight and mass, emitting a mix of spaced-out chanting and screeching vocal violence, descending into sprawls of gleaming spacedrift akin to classic Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Ash Ra Tempel, but bathed in an ocean of abyssal murk. So heavy, and so addictive. And as usual, the album art and design is fantastic, once again utilizing the band's in-house design studio Malleus to produce the mystic, menacing imagery that adorns the eight-page booklet that accompanies Ecate.
Track Samples:
Sample : Somnium
Sample : Revelation
Sample : Chaosecret



UN FESTIN SAGITAL   Deimos   CASSETTE   (Black Horizons)    9.50



     Along with the more recent Etna cassette, we're also finally listing this older tape release from the dark Chilean prog outfit Un Festin Sagital, also out on Black Horizons. Both of 'em are great, this outfit has certainly come up with a distinctive and delirious sound that'll appeal to those into the heavier, more sinister fringes of modern prog/psych rock. Un Festin Sagital's unusual mix of warped low-fi electronics, creepazoid prog and demented danceable rhythms is pretty infectious right from the start of this four-song cassette, the opener "Terror Diluviano" resembling a sweltering fusion of early Goblin and Delia Derbyshire, while "La Ofrenda Danzante Del Cuerpa Enamorado" mutates into a crazed, improv-heavy psych jam where noodling atonal electric piano and bursts of fuzz-drenched synth noise zoom across burbling, hypnotic bass guitar, strange robotic vocals and weirdly blackened snarls, while a primitive drum machine thuds and sputters in the background; while this song lurches wildly and erratically, decaying at times into squalls of shortwave radio static and mangled electronic noise, it's somehow manages to be bizarrely catchy as well.
     This gets into more abstract territory on the other side, the title track shifting into a mysterious creaking soundscape that feels like a requiem, weaving around the slow, heaving sounds of some ancient ghost freighter drifting across arctic seas; there's a very Nurse With Wound-esque feel to this one, akin to their Salt Marie Celeste album, but the band also pulls in funerary flutelike melodies, sheets of distorted, doom-laden drone and echoing ominous voices through this nearly eight-minute darkened driftscape. That gothic vibe carries over into the last track as well, blending eerie organs and mysterious percussive sounds with more of that distant droning thrum and far-off oceanic drift, slowly invaded by swirling atonal electronics that transform this into something akin to an experimental 70's era horror film score. The whole thing comes across as a kind of demented mutant occult gothic psychedelia that's right at home next to labelmates Spettro Family.
     As with everything on Black Horizons, the packaging is exquisite, housed in a four panel j-card printed with metallic silver ink on a metallic bronze paper stock, and issued in a limited run of one hundred copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : Terror Diluviano
Sample : Deimos
Sample : Ni Sobreproteccion, Ni Descuido



UN FESTIN SAGITAL   Etna   CASSETTE   (Black Horizons)    7.99



     More dark, spaced-out, doom-laden prog from Chilean band Un Festin Safital, whose strange and sinister sonic entanglements have really been hitting the spot lately. The latest offering from the band, Etna manages to feel even more alien, more unearthly, some weird, void-gazing psych jam beamed back from the edges of the Dreamlands. It's gorgeously creepy stuff, drenched in occult atmosphere, starting off with the band's signature dreamy flute drifting in like smoke across a steadily building backdrop of rumbling percussion and deep, resonant drones, the band building an atmosphere of ominous tension across the beginning of the sprawling fifteen minute long "Árboles Negros"; the bass guitar unfurls a deep, hypnotic groove as it slowly congeals into a dusk-tinged ambience, reverb-drenched chords spinning off into the twilight haze. Absolutely beautiful stuff, even as it gradually erupts into squalls of fuzz-cranked guitar noise and echo-drenched wah chaos that sweeps across the final minutes of the track.
     And so it goes throughout Etna's ever darkening waves of lugubrious psychedelia, slipping into more of those clusters of atonal piano and crackling noise that distinguished their previous releases, but then dropping into a wicked krautrocky groove on tracks like "Lackonn", unleashing heavy distorted guitars and hefty riffs that give their dark hypno-rock a metallic bite. It descends into tangles of crazed metallic shredding and chunky, palm muted guitar chug over that mesmeric backbeat; other songs transform into eerie abyssal explorations, moving from fluttering electronics to moody ambience, suddenly cranking the distortion up big-time for the crushing, almost doom-laden heaviness that erupts near the end of side one, a rumbling, spaced-out thud as tough as anything from early Mammatus, that comes out on the other side with more dreamy, folk-flecked prettiness.
     Side two is even more crazed, kicking off with "Acéfalo"'s staccato, sinister prog, a garbled stop-start riff segueing into another propulsive motorik groove, only this time a cacophony of screeching guitar noise and chortling flute slashes across the length of the song, followed by the jazzy prog of "El Asesino Del Sol III" where organs pulse and woodwinds float over the drummer's energetic groove, almost reminiscent of a murkier Magma for a moment. It wraps with the epic title track, a twenty one minute crawl through some seriously sludge-encrusted space-psych, developing into a blown-out, smoldering mass of sound, layered voices and grinding guitar noise and massive metallic drones all piled on top of each other, swelling up into a crushing cacophonic roar, a sludgy slow-motion dirge that seems to pulse with a mesmeric black electricity, drawing out into what is probably the heaviest music on the tape - think Grey Daturas and that sort of overdriven rumbling psychedelic heaviness, but then shifting midway through into a brooding, hypnotic dronerock groove that stretches across the remainder of the album, streaked in sinister organ and wailing guitar leads.
     Like the other Un Festin Sagital tape and everything else on Black Horizons, this is beautifully packaged, housed in an eight-panel j-card featuring artwork from William Blake, printed with metallic silver ink on metallic green paper stock with a miniature art insert, and issued in a limited edition of one hundred copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : ÿþÁrboles Negros
Sample : ÿþAnuibis (Sueño Y Muerte)
Sample : Etna



UNHOLY   The Second Ring Of Power   CD + DVD   (Peaceville)    12.98



    One of the most interesting and unusual bands in Peaceville's ongoing reissue campaign of the old Avantgarde catalog, Finland's Unholy was a monstrous experimental deathdoom outfit that released a number of increasingly progressive albums through the 1990s, before splitting up right after the turn of the century. Like a dope, I'd completely snoozed on this band up until these reissues came out, but when I finally checked 'em out I discovered some spectacularly strange doom with a heavy streak of European prog rock, a combination that I can never tire of. I ended up picking up the entire series of Unholy reissues, and it's all great. Emitting an unearthly mix of vintage early 90s doomy death metal, funerary ambience, psychedelic experimentation, and those prog rock influences, Unholy's music kept getting more progressive and experimental as they went on, culminating with the extremely experimental final album Gracefallen from 1999. We've got all four of these re-mastered reissues in stock now, some with additional bonus tracks, DVD material and revised album art, and all are highly recommended if you're into the more eccentric end of classic death/doom and their contemporaries like Esoteric, Thergothon and Skepticism.
    This expanded reissue of 1994's The Second Ring Of Power pairs the original nine-song album with a bonus DVD that features a 1994 liver performance from the band, who were continuing to mine an unusual mix of death doom, old-school gothic rock, prog and avant-garde. Adding synth and violin on their second proper full-length, these Finnish gloom-lords returned with a more refined, elegant sound, which was still rooted in a classic Peaceville-style doom death heaviness, but mixed in some unusual atmospheric touches. The often dissonant synth-strings and droning keys that the band frequently drape behind their angular, abrasive slow-mo crush are still present, and that atonal quality gives songs like the opening title track a decidedly weird feel, twisting their morbid lurching death metal into winding instrumental progginess, with droning choral synths that give it a noticeable Euro prog rock vibe that continues to creep in amid their blasts of pummeling death metal. The songs feature lots of effects-drenched guitar textures, complex songwriting, ornate orchestral synths and swells of gothic ambience, and bassist Pasi Äijö's adds a jazzy style to his playing, an interesting touch. Ring was the first album to feature female vocals, for which they enlisted Merja Salmela from Finnish prog-death band Mind Rio; her strong vocals rise ominously over the droning psych-tinged doom of songs like "Lady Babylon". And the more gothic moments on Ring are quite striking, slipping into passages of lush ringing guitar and hushed, hissed vocals that are reminiscent of the Nephilim, all of these elements coming together for something that occasionally sounds like a Peaceville Three outfit providing the backdrop to a late-80s Italian horror film. And then there's the last song, a sprawling eight-minute descent into lurching, demented delirium, screeching violins scraped across mangled electronics and formless gothic organ, Middle Eastern scales sinuously winding around the drummer's hypnotic rhythms, a bizarre finale that unfolds into sinister psychedelia across the album's final moments. Probably my favorite Unholy album, it's a must-hear for fans of eccentric and avant-garde early 90s death metal a la Atrocity, Carbonized and Phlebotomized...
    The live performance on the DVD is nothing fancy, an old-school camcorder-shot set with soundboard quality recording that runs about forty-five minutes, but it's perfectly watchable, and probably one of the very few live video recordings of Unholy out there, following them as they wander through a fog-shrouded performance in front of an enthusiastic audience, delivering eight songs from the first half of their career.
Track Samples:
Sample : Covetous Glance
Sample : Dreamside
Sample : Lady Babylon



UNHOLY   Gracefallen   CD   (Peaceville)    12.98



    One of the most interesting and unusual bands in Peaceville's ongoing reissue campaign of the old Avantgarde catalog, Finland's Unholy was a monstrous experimental deathdoom outfit that released a number of increasingly progressive albums through the 1990s, before splitting up right after the turn of the century. Like a dope, I'd completely snoozed on this band up until these reissues came out, but when I finally checked 'em out I discovered some spectacularly strange doom with a heavy streak of European prog rock, a combination that I can never tire of. I ended up picking up the entire series of Unholy reissues, and it's all great. Emitting an unearthly mix of vintage early 90s doomy death metal, funerary ambience, psychedelic experimentation, and those prog rock influences, Unholy's music kept getting more progressive and experimental as they went on, culminating with the extremely experimental final album Gracefallen from 1999. We've got all four of these re-mastered reissues in stock now, some with additional bonus tracks, DVD material and revised album art, and all are highly recommended if you're into the more eccentric end of classic death/doom and their contemporaries like Esoteric, Thergothon and Skepticism.
    The fourth and final album from Unholy, 1998's Gracefallen saw the arty Finnish doomcrawlers teaming once again with vocalist Veera Muhli, whose ethereal singing was used as a powerful counterpoint to both the guttural roar of frontman Pasi Äijö and the band's rumbling slow-motion heaviness. As with their previous album Rapture, this saw Unholy moving away from the putrid, bizarre deathdoom of their early works and towards some strange confluence of keyboard-heavy, 4AD / Dead Can Dance influenced dreaminess and miserable, angular heaviness. The music is still morose and massive, of course, songs like opener "...Of Tragedy" crafted from high quality gothic doom, and the band continues to layer their songs in a thick blanket of sinister organ and those creepy carnival funhouse keyboards that started to become more prominent on their later albums. These nine songs (joined by an additional bonus track called "Gone" that appears here for the first time) are somewhat more accessible than previous works, foregoing much of the heavy prog influence that marked the previous records for a more straight-forward darkwave-tinged doom metal sound, though there's still a considerable amount of gnarled dissonance and atmospheric guitar work. Some of this almost hints at a Katatonia-like gloom rock, like the driving, catchy "Daybreak", and their off-kilter, experimental undercurrents pop up occasionally. The biggest change to their sound is that Muhli's vocals are at the forefront, adding much to the already rather lovely, ghostly gothic feel of Gracefallen. A different sort of album from Unholy, but still pretty great, taking their music in another interesting direction for what ultimately would be their last release.
Track Samples:
Sample : Athene Noctua
Sample : Reek of the Night
Sample : ...of Tragedy



UNHOLY   From The Shadows   CD   (Peaceville)    12.98



    One of the most interesting and unusual bands in Peaceville's ongoing reissue campaign of the old Avantgarde catalog, Finland's Unholy was a monstrous experimental deathdoom outfit that released a number of increasingly progressive albums through the 1990s, before splitting up right after the turn of the century. Like a dope, I'd completely snoozed on this band up until these reissues came out, but when I finally checked 'em out I discovered some spectacularly strange doom with a heavy streak of European prog rock, a combination that I can never tire of. I ended up picking up the entire series of Unholy reissues, and it's all great. Emitting an unearthly mix of vintage early 90s doomy death metal, funerary ambience, psychedelic experimentation, and those prog rock influences, Unholy's music kept getting more progressive and experimental as they went on, culminating with the extremely experimental final album Gracefallen from 1999. We've got all four of these re-mastered reissues in stock now, some with additional bonus tracks, DVD material and revised album art, and all are highly recommended if you're into the more eccentric end of classic death/doom and their contemporaries like Esoteric, Thergothon and Skepticism.
    It all started with the band's 1993 album From The Shadows, a fantastic slab of proggy deathdoom that combined Peaceville Three-style misery with some black metal elements and lots of prog rock influence. Compared to their later work, Shadows comes across as a little haphazard with a raw production, but it still wins out thanks to the weird atmosphere and ambitious songwriting that was already apparent by this point. The first song "Alone" suggests some classic deathdoom, combining roaring guttural vocals and some pretty heavy slow-motion deathchug with mystical Moog that sounds like it was lifted right off some demented 70's prog rock outfit, but as it proceeds the band starts to throw in bits of acoustic delicacy that add a haunting undercurrent to the crawling heaviness. It gets truly strange with the following song "Gray Blow", where the band starts to shift between a monstrous Hammond-blasted strain of deathly doom and bits of wonderfully grim, understated prog rock with eerily sung female vocals from Tanja Wehsely, accompanied by swirling synths and almost King Crimson-esque textures. It's a unique mix, especially considering when this album came out. Throughout Shadows, Unholy's awkward, hideous death metal often warps into passages of spectral electronics and frenetic hand drumming straight out of some weird Mesopotamian death-rite, then starts sprouting complex bass guitar parts that have a distinctly jazzy feel, or breaks into imperious horn-like synths. You can easily see where this would have been a big influence on the weirdo prog-doom of later Finnish bands like Aarni and Umbra Nihil. It can be torturously slow at times, but always changing, never settling into the sort of lumbering stasis that makes up lesser doom bands. And there's stuff like "Colossal Vision", where an almost poppy melody is woven into the discordant doom. Even at it's heaviest, Shadows has this unearthly, almost surrealistic edge that definitely stood out in the early 90s landscape of underground metal.
Track Samples:
Sample : Gray Blow
Sample : Autumn
Sample : The Trip Was Infra Green



UNHOLY   Rapture   CD   (Peaceville)    12.98



    One of the most interesting and unusual bands in Peaceville's ongoing reissue campaign of the old Avantgarde catalog, Finland's Unholy was a monstrous experimental deathdoom outfit that released a number of increasingly progressive albums through the 1990s, before splitting up right after the turn of the century. Like a dope, I'd completely snoozed on this band up until these reissues came out, but when I finally checked 'em out I discovered some spectacularly strange doom with a heavy streak of European prog rock, a combination that I can never tire of. I ended up picking up the entire series of Unholy reissues, and it's all great. Emitting an unearthly mix of vintage early 90s doomy death metal, funerary ambience, psychedelic experimentation, and those prog rock influences, Unholy's music kept getting more progressive and experimental as they went on, culminating with the extremely experimental final album Gracefallen from 1999. We've got all four of these re-mastered reissues in stock now, some with additional bonus tracks, DVD material and revised album art, and all are highly recommended if you're into the more eccentric end of classic death/doom and their contemporaries like Esoteric, Thergothon and Skepticism.
    Opening with a drawn out intro of hypnotic tribal drumming, celestial electronics and an ominous, droning bass riff circling in the gloom, 1998's Rapture saw Unholy continuing to develop their unique fusion of death doom, classic UK gothic rock and prog into ever more otherworldly forms. As that instrumental opener "Into Cold Light" gradually builds in power across the beginning of the album, the group turns up the tension until it is released in the dreamy doom-laden haze of "Petrified Spirits", where driving mid-paced doom is draped in flange-heavy guitars and those ghostly atonal synthesizers that make up Unholy's signature sound. Each of their albums had gotten a little more polished over the course of the 90s, and Rapture continues that evolution, boasting their best production yet. And again, they enlisted a new female vocalist to contribute to some of the songs, Veera Muhli (later of post-industrial outfit Noaidi and folk metallers The Mist And The Morning Dew), who contributes her soft, wispy voice to "For The Unknown One", one of Unholy's best songs and a fine piece of gothy atmospheric doom with vaporous vocals that are somewhat reminiscent of Alison Shaw from Cranes. The ten songs are long, labyrinthine affairs, often changing up riffs and intensity as they wind along; the crushing death doom of previous albums is tempered here with a more atmospheric, droning direction, those Nephilim-like touches that drew me to their earlier stuff even more pronounced here. Songs like "Unzeitgeist" veer into straight-up synth-heavy prog rock somewhere between Goblin and later Univers Zero in betwixt the off-kilter doom-laden metallic crunch, but Rapture still delivers plenty of monstrously heavy slow-mo power as well, with the organ-drenched "Wunderwerck" unfolding into a funereal epic that's as coldly majestic as anything I've heard from these guys, and "Wretched" glazes its Skepticism-esque funereal procession with martial drumming and warm, rich synthesizers like something from an old Tangerine Dream album. A strange and awesome album, one of my favorites from their discography. This reissue is presented with a couple of bonus tracks, rare versions of "Petrified Spirits" and "Covetous Glance" recorded live in Finland in 1999 that appear at the tail end of the disc.
Track Samples:
Sample : Into Cold Light
Sample : Petrified Spirits
Sample : Unzeitgeist
Sample : Deluge



VARIOUS ARTISTS   Nekromantik: Original Expanded 1987 Motion Picture Soundtrack (SPECIAL EDITION)   LP + 7"   (One Way Static)    33.00



     I consider myself pretty hardened to depictions of atrocity in art, but there were permanent scars left after my initial encounter with the putrescent, visionary art-gore of German madman Jörg Buttgereit. The Nekromantik series of films that Buttgereit produced in the late 80s/early 90s still retains a primal, disturbing power, with some of the most controversial and taboo-shattering imagery yet put to film. And you can thank the bizarre soundtracks that accompanied those films for at least part of their disturbing aura. For the original Nekromantik, Buttgereit enlisted some friends from the German punk and industrial scene to produce a strange sonic backdrop to his images of necrophilia, murder, and dysfunctional sex; isolated, the Nekromantik score is a bizarre, avant-garde soundscape that can still unnerve and disturb, but it also glints with moments of joyous beauty, and in my opinion sits alongside Lynch's musical work for Eraserhead in terms of abstract, nightmarish power. A chunk of this score had previously been available as part of Hermann Kopp's Nekronology compilation, but the full, complete Nekromantik score with the other composers had never been available on vinyl or cassette until now.
     The three tracks from German musician Daktari Lorenz includes the film's weird waltz-like theme, which like the rest of Lorenz's contributions features stilted orchestral synth sounds, acoustic guitar and tinny percussion to create an unsettling, unnatural atmosphere, a mix of low-tech symphonic bombast and more intimate melody that contrasts queasily with the earlier sequences in the film.
     John Boy Walton (aka German composer Benedikt Middeler, a member of the renowned country-punk band The Waltons) brings a sweet, romantic feel to the two compositions he created for the score, achingly beautiful piano pieces that play out over the film's scenes of gut-churning sexuality, which in some ways makes his tracks among the most disturbing when paired up with those cinematic images, gorgeous and lyrical music violently at odds with the scenes of charnel horror that Buttgereit splays across the screen.
     But it's Hermann Kopp's music that makes up the bulk of the score. Kopp's contribution is the creepiest music here, a kind of damaged outsider jazz/folk mixed with primitive drum machines, violins, and random objects, producing something that, in my old review of the Red Stream CD of his collected Nekronology, I described as having "...a dreary, mournful vibe, heavy with quivering violins and lush Moog synths, frequently merging together into something resembling a slow motion funeral march. Sounds of bubbling liquids and crazed muttering are combined with primitive doom-laden keyboards and wistful music box melodies, and the atonal weeping of violin strings give way to the sound of body parts being sawn off and the thud as they hit the floor." And like I mentioned in that review, stuff like the funereal dirge-folk of "Supper" almost sounds like the blackened cello-creep of Dead Raven Choir, depraved and discordant, miserable yet weirdly mesmerizing as Kopp's broken melody circles drunkenly through a thin, murky haze of spiritual nausea. His other tracks are similarly horrifying noisescapes, tangles of high-end squeal and tortured strings that would rival the likes of Borbetomagus, or maudlin funerary jazz that drifts over droning electrical currents, washes of rotting tape-noise and ghastly, Throbbing Gristle-esque loops, gritty yet haunting.
     The 7" that comes with this set features two alternate versions of Walton's tracks (including a monstrously dissonant version of his heartbreaking "Menage A Trois" theme), a pounding neo-classical composition from Lorenz called "Gardener" that juxtaposes blaring synth-horns with the sound of a man being decapitated, and alternate versions of two of Kopps' tracks.
     And for this limited edition expanded version, the set also comes with a postcard-flexi that features a cover of the "Nekromantik" theme by Norwegian black metal sickos Carpathian Forest, which had previously appeared on the band's Strange Old Brew album; here, the song is pressed into a large full-color postcard that features Nekromantik's classic film poster art.
     It's the best presentation that this score has ever received, beautifully presented in a case-wrapped heavyweight gatefold jacket that includes an insert with new liner notes from Kopp, Lorenz and assistant director Franz Rodenkirchen, as well as a new interview with Buttgereit. Limited to five hundred machine-numbered copies.


VARIOUS ARTISTS   Nekromantik: Original Expanded 1987 Motion Picture Soundtrack   CASSETTE   (One Way Static)    9.98



     I consider myself pretty hardened to depictions of atrocity in art, but there were permanent scars left after my initial encounter with the putrescent, visionary art-gore of German madman Jörg Buttgereit. The Nekromantik series of films that Buttgereit produced in the late 80s/early 90s still retains a primal, disturbing power, with some of the most controversial and taboo-shattering imagery yet put to film. And you can thank the bizarre soundtracks that accompanied those films for at least part of their disturbing aura. For the original Nekromantik, Buttgereit enlisted some friends from the German punk and industrial scene to produce a strange sonic backdrop to his images of necrophilia, murder, and dysfunctional sex; isolated, the Nekromantik score is a bizarre, avant-garde soundscape that can still unnerve and disturb, but it also glints with moments of joyous beauty, and in my opinion sits alongside Lynch's musical work for Eraserhead in terms of abstract, nightmarish power. A chunk of this score had previously been available as part of Hermann Kopp's Nekronology compilation, but the full, complete Nekromantik score with the other composers had never been available on vinyl or cassette until now.
     The three tracks from German musician Daktari Lorenz includes the film's weird waltz-like theme, which like the rest of Lorenz's contributions features stilted orchestral synth sounds, acoustic guitar and tinny percussion to create an unsettling, unnatural atmosphere, a mix of low-tech symphonic bombast and more intimate melody that contrasts queasily with the earlier sequences in the film.
     John Boy Walton (aka German composer Benedikt Middeler, a member of the renowned country-punk band The Waltons) brings a sweet, romantic feel to the two compositions he created for the score, achingly beautiful piano pieces that play out over the film's scenes of gut-churning sexuality, which in some ways makes his tracks among the most disturbing when paired up with those cinematic images, gorgeous and lyrical music violently at odds with the scenes of charnel horror that Buttgereit splays across the screen.
     But it's Hermann Kopp's music that makes up the bulk of the score. Kopp's contribution is the creepiest music here, a kind of damaged outsider jazz/folk mixed with primitive drum machines, violins, and random objects, producing something that, in my old review of the Red Stream CD of his collected Nekronology, I described as having "...a dreary, mournful vibe, heavy with quivering violins and lush Moog synths, frequently merging together into something resembling a slow motion funeral march. Sounds of bubbling liquids and crazed muttering are combined with primitive doom-laden keyboards and wistful music box melodies, and the atonal weeping of violin strings give way to the sound of body parts being sawn off and the thud as they hit the floor." And like I mentioned in that review, stuff like the funereal dirge-folk of "Supper" almost sounds like the blackened cello-creep of Dead Raven Choir, depraved and discordant, miserable yet weirdly mesmerizing as Kopp's broken melody circles drunkenly through a thin, murky haze of spiritual nausea. His other tracks are similarly horrifying noisescapes, tangles of high-end squeal and tortured strings that would rival the likes of Borbetomagus, or maudlin funerary jazz that drifts over droning electrical currents, washes of rotting tape-noise and ghastly, Throbbing Gristle-esque loops, gritty yet haunting. The rest of the tape features two alternate versions of Walton's tracks (including a monstrously dissonant version of his heartbreaking "Menage A Trois" theme), a pounding neo-classical composition from Lorenz called "Gardener" that juxtaposes blaring synth-horns with the sound of a man being decapitated, and alternate versions of two of Kopps' tracks.
     It's the best presentation that this score has ever received, here available as a limited edition cassette with the original onesheet artwork on the cover, limited to three hundred copies.


VARIOUS ARTISTS   Frozen In Time II: Music To Accompany The Films Of Ingmar Bergman   3 x CASSETTE   (Black Horizons)    19.99



     Here's the second installment in Black Horizons' Frozen In Time series, where an interesting array of artists have once again been hand-selected to create original music inspired directly by the films of Ingmar Bergman. As with the previous volume, this features three cassettes in an oversized plastic case, each artist taking up an entire side, with the tapes enclosed in a strikingly designed foldout cover with silver print; as with everything else on this label, it's gorgeously presented. This time around we get twenty-minute contributions from such C-Blast faves as L'Acephale and Spettro Family, along with material from Micromelancolié & Sindre Bjerga, German Army, Head Dress and Night Worship. These tracks are again presented as alternate soundtracks to the films they are inspired by, and include time codes for those intrepid listeners interested in synching up the music with the film. It's great stuff on its own, though, beautifully bleak fields of midnight drone and regal black metal, dark formless noise and eerie soundtracky ambience, as diverse a mix as the first installment in the series.
     The set opens with a twenty minute long piece titled "En Pasjon" from Nordic noise artists Micromelancolié & Sindre Bjerga, once again collaborating on a murky, muffled driftscape laced with fragments of industrial clang, deep buzzing drones, and half-glimpsed voices that swirl together into a gorgeously monochrome wash of corroded ambience akin to the sound of ghosts moving through an antique clock shop, then building into a wall of molten black drone. Cali experimental band German Army contribute "People Of Bamboo", a mesmeric haze of tribal drums, distant cries and bursts of electronic noise that circle and shift endlessly throughout their grey-washed soundscape. Northwestern avant black metal/neo-folk ensemble L'Acephale incorporates bits of dialogue and sound from Bergman's Seventh Seal into their epic "Totentanz", opening with languid acoustic guitars and mournful minor key chords, unfurling a moody sprawl of ominous folk across the first half of the track, slowly building into a rumbling wall of guttural piano and anxious feedback that finally explodes in a rush of majestic low-fi black metal fury. That's followed by the band Head Dress, who I'd never heard before; they offer up a three-part saga that drifts down into gorgeously moody depths of cinematic ambience and ominous murk, resembling one of the more staid John Carpenter scores, a slow seething mass of minor key drift and sinister pulses that slowly evolves into a vast wash of blissed-out kosmische shadow. It's amazing stuff that definitely makes me want to hear more from the band. Italy's Spettro Family delivers a similarly cinematic piece of music with "L'ora Del Lupo", one of the most beautiful pieces in this collection; an aching piano melody drifts through a haze of dust motes and ghostly strings, revealing a stunning piece of instrumental moodiness that moves from ghastly graveyard jazz into something that sounds like the prettiest thing that Fabio Frizzi never recorded. And on the final side, the mysterious Night Worship billow out across a vast empty expanse with a fog of nocturnal jazziness, trombones smeared into distant peals, voices dissolving into a haunting choral mist, everything rising in waves of sinister jazz-murk, like the sound of angelic swarms tumbling in slow motion into a distant black hole.
     Limited to two hundred copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : ÿþMICROMELANCOLIÉ & SINDRE BJERGA - En Pasjon
Sample : GERMAN ARMY - People Of Bamboo
Sample : L'ACEPHALE - Totentanz
Sample : HEAD DRESS - Black
Sample : SPETTRO FAMILY - L'ora Del Lupo
Sample : NIGHT WORSHIP - Degrading & Everlasting The Same



VARIOUS ARTISTS   P.H.N.W. (Pure Harsh Noise Worship)   2 x 7"   (Antropofago Ateo)    14.98



     Showing a variety of approaches to harsh noise, this double 7" set was curated by Sissy Spacek's Charlie Mumma, and delivers pure, ego-destroying distortion from both current and former denizens of the Pacific Northwest noise scene. The P.H.N.W. compilation delivers four tracks of exclusive harsh noise, featuring side-long blasts of sonic destruction from Oscillating Innards (which features one of the guys from blackened grind metallers Knelt Rote), Okha (featuring a member of funeral doom outfit Aldebaran), Redneck, and HHL, who some of you might remember from their split tape with Demonologists that we did a few years back.
     And in keeping with the ultra-violent nature of everything else I've heard from that project, HHL's "Astral Incursion" is another crushing blast of severely distorted, ultra blown out noise, which sounds like it could have originally been a death metal recording that has been so over-modulated and distorted and strangled with shrieking feedback that it transformed into this roar of monstrous, rumbling, speaker-shredding noise. Nothing hypnotic about this one, it's utterly violent and seriously heavy. The flipside of that first record follows with Okha's "Universal Restitution (Live @ Baltigate 2011)", an alien electronic noisescape teeming with looping bird-like cries and repetitive whooping shrieks, laid out over a field of similarly looped low-end throb and whorls of guitar-like noise. It's certainly abrasive, but Okha also reveals a weird, musicality within this dense din of noise and loops, an eerie droning melody taking shape as the track evolves. It's sort of similar to the chirping psychedelic blasts of Bastard Noise, and with a comparable level of intensity.
     The second record starts off with Oscillating Innards' "Suspended In Vanity", another one of Gordon Ashworth's hyper-detailed pointillist harsh noise pieces; here, micro-bursts of static and fluttering bass tones flame out in a vast black void, gradually accompanied by distant metallic rattles that echo in the depths, becoming more abrasive and active as the track evolves. There's a muted junk-noise aspect to this, but there's also an attention to space that you don't hear as often with artists like K2 and Hal Hutchinson. The set closes with Redneck's "Faceless", a wall of merciless black static and distorted rumble that's the only real adherent to the "HNW" aesthetic on this compilation. It unleashes a mesmeric mass of searing distorted pulses and skull-crushing distorted rumble that sounds especially savage when played at higher levels of volume, and fans of both Vomir and The Rita will find a similar oppressive, nihilistic vibe with this stuff.
     Comes in a black and white sleeve with a printed foldout insert, limited to two hundred fifty copies.


VARIOUS ARTISTS   No Speed Limit: Essential Québec Metal Demo Tapes   8 x CASSETTE   (Nuclear War Now! Productions)    46.98



     Dig French accents and raw old-school thrash metal? Well then, here's your new favorite boxset of 2015. Nuclear War Now put out this killer collection in collaboration with Cauchemar's Annick Giroux as a kind of companion pieces to Félix B. Desfossés's recently published history of French Canadian metal L'Évolution du Métal Québecois, gathering together eight of their favorite demo tapes from the Québécois thrash scene of the mid-to-late 1980s. It's lovingly assembled, each tape reproduced down to the original label design and with a reproduction of the original xeroxed tape cover tucked behind each tape, everything housed in a big chunky plastic box with cover art from Voivod's Away, with a sixteen page booklet with liner notes and band info written in both English and French. Very cool. This whole collection is a wicked blast from the past, and a great look at how vibrant the French Canadian metal underground was during this era. Just by looking at the thanks lists in each of the demos, you can see how Voivod were the nucleus of the burgeoning Quebec thrash scene, but at the same time there was a lot of variety coming out of this region. Some of these demos had previously been reissued on vinyl and/or CD by NWN, but here they are reproduced in their original form with an impressive attention to detail.
     For fellow fanatics of weird 80's thrash, the centerpiece of massive boxset is Voivod's No Speed Limit Weekend live demo, recorded at The Spectrum in Montréal on October 12th, 1986 and originally released exclusively through the band's Iron Gang Fanclub prior to their excursion to Europe to record Killing Technology. These guys were at the top of their game at this point, brilliantly combining their prog rock influences with a ferocious, off-kilter thrash metal assault that was heavily tinged with the chaotic energy of US hardcore. Taking the stage as the theme from John Carpenter's The Thing plays over the PA system, the band tears through a ferocious hour long set, racing through blistering renditions of various songs off of Rrröööaaarrr, War And Pain and the Thrashing Rage 12". Sound quality is actually pretty great for being a soundboard recording, punchy enough that the band's zonked-out, dissonant sci-fi prog thrash totally irradiates you as they tear pell-mell though these breakneck versions of classic tunes like "Ripping Headaches", "Iron gang", "Warriors Of Ice" and "Voivod".
     While they didn't achieve the level of fame that Voivod did, Obliveon were another amazing prog-thrash band that came out of the Montreal area around this times, and were themselves clearly influenced by the proggy weirdness of Voivod. The band's Demo #2 is included here, an awesome dose of unusual thrash metal that was already starting to show the spacey atmosphere, oddball riffing and chord structures, the nimble, dizzying bass work, savage death metal-esque vocals, and churning rhythmic complexity that would define their later albums. You can hear that heavy prog influence, but it's balanced with lots of speed and ferocity, and this along with the band's first album are pioneering pieces of Canadian tech-thrash history.
     Barely out of junior high and looking like a cross between KISS and Venom in the high-contrast band photo that appeared on the sleeve of their 1987 Thrash Till Death demo, Quebecois numbskulls Vensor offer up one of the more bizarre demos in this set, with awesomely crude cover art and provocative use of swastikas and rude song titles for shock value, and a crude, low-fi attack comprised of raucous, sloppy thrash metal, some major delay-overdose on the vocals and a generally tilted vibe that makes this one weirdly endearing for fans of teenage violence. It's a nicely fucked-up stew of primitive brain-damaged speed metal, ambient weirdness that borders on Abruptum-esque, and unbridled adolescent misanthropy.
     The craziest demo in this set might be Soothsayer's 1986 To Be a Real Terrorist tape. Easily the most maniacal outburst in this collection, the debut recording from this crazed outfit took Slayer-influenced thrash a few steps further into rabid, shrieking hysteria. With a demented, frothing at the mouth vocalist whose shrieks and near death metal-level throat-hate propels these five ripping blasts of spastic ultra-thrash into the further reaches of PCP-addled insanity, Soothsayer deliver their violence at a terrifying level of intensity. Musically, this demo fucking shreds, but those vocals are some of the most animalistic I've heard off a thrash tape from this era, so nutzoid and out of control that it's kind of reminiscent of Siege. Now I'm kicking myself for not grabbing that discography release that NWN put out a few years ago.
     Even the more straightforward bands featured in this set are the crème de la crème of 80's era speed annihilation. The 1987 Trials of War demo from St-Bruno speedbeasts Treblinka delivers war-obsessed thrash ferocity, racing through six tracks of 100 mph fleshrip that has an unmistakable Slayer influence, but with a weird vocal delivery that goes from piercing Araya-style screams to an odd drawled moan. Denim-and-leather-clad street mutants Aggression are represented here with their 1995 “Demo #1”, which featured two songs that would later appear on the legendary 1986 compilations Thrash Metal Attack and Speed Metal Hell Vol. II on New Renaissance Records. Playing a violent brand of early thrash metal spiked with a noticeable hardcore punk influence, the band belted out this savage four song demo in 1985, combining evil, morbid imagery with a ferocious, super-catchy brand of filthy, punky thrash n' buzzsaw guitar assault that really rips, splattering insane guitar solos over their brutal speed bursts, slipping into titanic Frostian breakdowns and other savvy tempo changes to incite maximum mob-violence. The Buried Pieces 1984-1986 cassette combines two different demos from the obscure Montreal-area outfit Outrage, who briefly flirted with a record deal with Roadrunner in the late 80s before breaking up and disappearing into obscurity. It's another no-frills blast of rough-hewed thrash, at their core these guys were channeling some primo Motorhead-style speed metal (singer Nick Arrow sounds eerily akin to Lemmy) with mucho sass and some killer hooky songwriting ("Until You Bleed In" will likely be rattling around in my skull for at least a few more days), juicing that up with some heavy doses of later-era thrash metal, NWOBHM informed guitarwork, and even some flirtations with an early death metal vibe on the later recordings featured here. Burly stuff, across the board. And Voivod's hometown buddies in Voor spat out their own venomous brand of primitive blitzoid speed metal via their “Evil Metal” demo from 1985, a brief blast of wicked thrash that stood out for it's sheer unhinged chaotic energy and the singer's relatively extreme vocal style, a bestial bark that echoes wildly across these four songs; that gruff, unhinged delivery and the band's penchant for morbid imagery and satanic insanity reveals this to be a kind of lost proto-death metal artifact, somewhat comparable to early Possessed but infected with it's own unique strain of Quebecois madness. The violent energy on this awesome demo is through the fucking roof.
     Aside from layout out an absurd stack of cash for original copies, No Speed Limit is the only way you're going to get these killer demos on the original format and with the original covers; it's one of the coolest cassette boxsets I've ever seen, and laying this thing out in front of me and blasting these tapes at maximum volume might be the closest thing to time travel I'll be able to manage for the moment. Totally recommended for fellow obscuro thrash addicts.
Track Samples:
Sample : VOIVOD - Tornado
Sample : VOOR - Evil Metal
Sample : AGGRESSION - Evil Pox
Sample : OUTRAGE - Until You Bleed In
Sample : SOOTHSAYER - Build The Terrorism
Sample : TREBLINKA - Wings Of Omen
Sample : VENSOR - Alazif / Reign Of The Antechrist
Sample : OBLIVIEON - Whimsical Uproar



VARIOUS ARTISTS   The Exorcist (Musical Excerpts From)   CD   (Perseverance)    12.98



     Always been interested in the intersection between avant-garde music and horror cinema, and the original soundtrack to William Friedkin's groundbreaking 1974 masterpiece The Exorcist is still one of the best examples of the use of experimental music in horror. Prior to The Exorcist, filmmakers had used experimental music and some more adventurous jazz music in a number of horror films, mainly throughout the 1960s, but The Exorcist was the first soundtrack to heavily draw from the radical sounds of contemporary avant-garde composers. Friedkin's brilliant curation drew from progressive rock, the most terrifying depths of contemporary classical, and extreme avant-garde music, much of it assembled from his own personal music library in a collage of sounds that served to underscore his documentarian approach to the narrative. Musical excerpts from Penderecki, Webern, Henze and Crumb were incorporated into the film, and original interstitial pieces were commissioned from minimalist composer David Borden and avant-garde composer Jack Nitzsche, with Nitzsche creating his piece using the reverberant sound of glass being rubbed alongside recorded voices. The result is a witchy, weird sonic nightmare that can create a deep sense of unease even when listened to outside of the film.
     The chilling insectile ambience of Nitzsche's "Iraq" that serves as the introduction to the soundtrack is a brief but portentous piece that blends Muslim calls to prayer with dissonant strings and ambient sound from the film, leading directly into Oldfield's mesmeric and instantly recognizable "Tubular Bells", featured here as a nearly six minute edit; those icy, elliptic synth keys and ominous piano melody still have an eerie, hypnotic power, essentially inextricable from the film itself. There's just a short excerpt of Webern's "Five Pieces For Orchestra, Op.10 (Sehr Langsam Und Äusserst Ruhig)" that, while drastically edited from the full version that appeared on the old vinyl release of the score, still conveys a strong disturbing feel in the short time it has here. There are some other tracks that are unfortunately featured here in edited form, like Crumb's classic "Night Of The Electric Insects", but thankfully this reissue does feature extended versions of the Penderecki pieces. As "Polymorphia" slowly billows out of some deep, lightless crack in the earth like an amorphous black stain, at first an exercise in dark ambience that rivals anything from Sleep Research Facility or Lull; as the track unfolds though, and those wormy, atonal strings gradually writhe up out of the depths of the mix, it transforms into something much more nightmarish, a slow realization of abject horror bathed in blackened dissonance and ghostly clatter - even removed from the film, this is one of the key tracks from this soundtrack, a deeply unsettling and frightening presence. And Penderecki's hellish "Kanon For Orchestra And Tape" is one of my favorite horror movie musical sequences of all time, blending the shocking demonic frenzy of the orchestra with a mass of nightmarish tapes that produces and almost proto-industrial delirium. "String Quartet (1960)" offers a similarly disturbing atonality, the musicians scraping and torturing their violins and cello to produce a perverse pointillist hallucination, and Harry Bee's "Windharp" emits a dank blast of cavernous ambience. And the final two tracks are another pair of shorter excerpts, one a brief reprise of "Bells", the other the stunning performance of Hans Werner Henze's "Fantasia For Strings" that serves as a coda to the film.
     Despite some of the shorter tracks, this is still presents one of the most important horror scores of the 70s, essential for soundtrack collectors and fans of nightmarish dissonance. The re-mastered Perseverance reissue includes new liner notes from soundtrack expert Randall D. Larson (Musique Fantastique: 100 Years Of Music For Fantasy, Science Fiction & Horror Films).
Track Samples:
Sample : Polymorphia
Sample : Night of the Electric Insects
Sample : Canon for orchestra and tape



VOIDMORF   Beyond All The Light   CD   (Exabyss)    8.98



     My favorite release so far from the up-n'-coming NYC label ExAbyss, which has been plying some really great death industrial and death ambient stuff from a small circle of little-known Hungarian artists. Voidmorf's Beyond All The Light is one of the label's most recent offerings, a titanic slab of jet-black space ambient from this new duo, made up of members of other ExAbyss-affiliated artists like Odour Sonour and Stone Wired. It's carved out of massive, sprawling expanses of rumbling synthdrone and gleaming analogue tones, spreading out across the nearly seventy-minute album as edgeless fields of deep-space thrum and black electronic drift. The material is constantly shifting and evolving though, and it's far from a repetitive drone-fest; the duo unfurls these black cosmic driftscapes into deep, speaker-rattling expanses that emanate a distinctly sinister atmosphere, and it's strafed with all manner of ominous sonic activity, from bursts of solar radiation and frenzied shortwave transmissions to swells of weird, cephalopodan murmuring, distant disembodied female voices, and ghastly howls echoing from the bowels of some abandoned star-freighter.
     It also has some stunning sequences of orchestral drift that resonate with a kind of cinematic wonder, and blasts of powerful percussive sound that rattle the album's starlit voids. Throughout these swelling, oceanic expanses of sinister black-hole drift, the duo thread bits of delicate electronic filigree, ghostly half-formed melodies that are all but swallowed up by the vast blackness, and there's some minimal percussion that appears towards the end, an appearance of hand drummed tribal rhythms that emerges from within one of the squalls of irradiated nebulous stardrift. The whole level of malevolent cosmic vastness that these guys manage to create here is heavily reminiscent of Neptune Towers at its coldest and blackest, with only the occasional detour into a more subdued, wondrous ambience akin to classic Teutonic outfits, a heavier, more dread-filled take on this sort of interstellar ambience. I really dug this - play this one loud at night and in the dark, and you'll be transported. An excellent album of vast kosmische doomscapes on par with recent releases from Satanath, Frozen ocean, Saturn Form Essence and Wolves In The Throne Room's Celestite, as well as older favorites like M87's Noctilucent Threnody and those aforementioned Neptune Towers Lps. Comes in digipack packaging.
Track Samples:
Sample : The Phenomena Of Parallax And Aberration
Sample : Searching For God's Existence In Quarks
Sample : Kepler 47



WARHORSE   As Heaven Turns To Ash...   2 x LP   (Southern Lord)    22.98



    A classic slab of crushing, narcotizing ultra-heaviness, Warhorse's 2001 album As Heaven Turns To Ash is finally reissued on vinyl after nearly fifteen years, re-emerging once again to pulverize listeners with one of the most colossal doom metal assaults ever captured to tape. It would turn out to be the one and only album to come from this Worcester, MA outfit, and it's still discussed in hushed, reverent tones amongst certain doom metal circles. Heaven certainly deserves the worship, possessing of one of the most disgustingly heavy guitar tones I've ever heard, welded to some grade-A songwriting and riff construction, the whole album rumbling with a sluggish power and terrific use of dynamics that made this a favorite of mine back when it first came out, matched only by Electric Wizard's Dopethrone (a band with whom Warhorse toured with back when Heaven originally came out - I was lucky enough to see the bands together in a tiny club in downtown Baltimore in March of 2001, and my fucking ears are still ringing.
    This new reissue, gorgeously presented in a heavyweight case-wrapped jacket, pairs the album with the two tracks from the I Am Dying 7" that came out shortly after on Southern Lord; together, it totals eleven tracks of absolutely molten barbarian doom, combining monstrously down-tuned riffage and lumbering sauropod tempos with Jerry Orne's awesome gravelly roar, which sounds like he's been sucking on a piece of concrete for the past week. The album's heavier tracks are tied together with some wickedly sinister, lysergically glazed psych guitar instrumentals that all seem to head in the same direction: straight into the mouth of hell. Like a subwoofer-blowing, slow-motion avalanche of rock and bone and asphalt, those quieter moments of zonked-out apocalyptic introspection and almost raga-like drone (like the sublime liquid psychedelia of "Amber Vial") all build to brutally sudden eruptions of titanic mega-riffage. It's an absurdly heavy feast of tar-blasted doom metal, one that somehow managed to carve out a singular sound amongst the rising wave of likeminded bands that were already crawling out of the resin-stained woodwork back around 2000. While other bands were aping Blues For The Red Sun, Warhorse assaulted the listener with gargantuan doom, working in sublimely shadowy bits of jazziness and maudlin piano as well as gouts of mind-melting flange effects, washing over the album's more subdued moments like a black wave. Those eastern-tinged interludes between the crumbling walls of moon-blasted heaviness sprawl waaaaay out, into squalls of wah-destroyed guitar noise and meandering, acid-seared leads, as the vocals are swept up in a weirdly processed, almost vocoder-ized harmonized chant. Yes indeed, this blackened boogie motherfucker is right up there alongside the aforementioned Dopethrone and Sleep's Dopesmoker, a classic slab of modern mammoth psychdoom that's as close to sludge-metal perfection as I've come across, immensely recommended to anyone obsessed with the slowest and lowest strains of doom metal, and still one of my all-time favorite doom albums.
Track Samples:
Sample : Lysergic Communion
Sample : Amber Vial
Sample : Black Acid Prophecy



WAVES CRASHING PIANO CHORDS / FOOT & MOUTH DISEASE   split   12"   (CONTINUUM.)    13.98



     The first of several records that I recently picked up from the killer CONTINUUM. imprint, this split 12" comes housed in a hand-assembled jacket with pasted-on artwork and photocopied inserts, and features violent blasts of raw, misanthropic power electronics from each of these upstate NY artists, pairing up the primitive "juggalo power electronics" of Waves Crashing Piano Chords with the old-school industrial noise of F&MD.
     First up is Rochester's Sean Beard aka Waves Crashing Piano Chords, whose crude noise is influenced by the electro-shock assault of classic Whitehouse and paired with his bizarre Insane Clown Posse-style facepaint for his live performances. It seems like this guy irritates everyone, even noise snobs, and I love it. On this record, he unleashes a spare, minimalist assault of extreme feedback and violent vocals, offering up "I Hope I Get Aids", a dose of sadistic electronic ugliness opening with a painfully shrill assault of high-end feedback over a backdrop of whirling metallic clatter. It never relents, that torturous skree continuing to pierce the air while he spits out belligerent lyrics over the raw noise. There's a confrontational vibe somewhat comparable to some of Prurient's earlier, cruder works, but this is more barbaric and abusive.
     That's followed by "Epsilon Bootis" from Foot and Mouth Disease, who counters with their own murky brand of power electronics. Their side creeps through a caustic haze of echo-flecked feedback bursting like the squeals of rats from a swirl of gritty, rumbling distortion, a slightly more muted noisescape than the preceding side, but still plenty abrasive. Shifting from that abstract scrapescape into fields of almost Rita-like harsh noise and garbled feedback glitchery, this slowly transforms into an effectively unsettling atmosphere akin to the nocturnal emissions of some ancient, malevolent mainframe computer.
     Limited to one hundred and five copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : WAVES CRASHING PIANO CHORDS - I Hope I Get AIDS



WHORID   The Will To Speak Shall Be Severed   CDR   (Annihilvs)    7.50



     This three-song EP is a teaser for a full-length CD called Bloated Pig Carcass In A Shallow Wake coming later this year from Whorid, the Philly fiend whose live performances have gotten some notoriety in noise circles for acts of self-mutilation set against his grimy walls of doom-laden electronic noise. Since teaming up with Annihilvs (the label run by Lee from Theologian), Whorid has been cranking out a steady stream of powerful releases, some of which have been collaborations with likeminded death industrial / necro-drone artists like Mowlawner, Scowl and Theologian himself. But with The Will To Speak Shall Be Severed, sole member Daniel Suffering is on his own, spewing out these lengthy tracks of static-stained, malevolent power electronics that combine putrid low-frequency drones, walls of crackling static and manipulated feedback, and sampled voices. He creates a thoroughly oppressive mood with tbis stuff, moving from the harsh noisescape of "To The Dead Sentence Of Abandonment" to the malignant black pulse and abrasive electronic textures of "I Never Loved You; I Suffered You"; at first, that track almost starts to tempt the listener with a bleak vision of rotten industrial techno, but eventually it erupts into a suffocating blast of heavily distorted ambient noise, his monstrous snarling vocals echoing from some distant vantage, ascending over the churning backdrop of seething blackened electronics. And closer "Meek Death" wraps this up with a haunting piece of dark cosmic drift, layering faint choral textures across the slow rise and fall of a muted synthesizer, the sound like some glacially paced orchestral drone swirling in slow motion beneath a cloud of softly crackling static, a brooding kosmische sprawl blown with gusts of falling black ash, strafed with nightmarish screams that echo through the depths of the recording. It's another unsettling assault of smoldering death industrial and droneological horror from Daniel S. that further heightens my anticipation for that forthcoming album. Comes in a plastic sleeve with a super-minimal two-sided cover insert.
Track Samples:
Sample : To The Dead Sentence Of Abandonment
Sample : Meek Death
Sample : I Never Loved You; I Suffered You



WILT   From Depths Profound And Inconceivable   CD   (Fall Of Nature)    11.99



     The latest album of morbid necro electronics from Chicago duo Wilt continues to carve a route through the more abstracted and formless depths of death/black industrial and dark ambience, maintaining their own uniquely demented vision of jet-black charnel electronics. From Depths Profound And Inconceivable sees the group further navigating the abyss via fourteen tracks of pitch-black electronic music and monstrous death-drone, harnessing a more colder and more controlled intensity than many of their peers, forged from elements of ultra-heavy experimental doom-drone, shrieking power electronics, classic horror film soundtrack influences, traces of early black metal, HNW aesthetics, classic 70's era space music, and the blackest post-industrial ambience.
     That combination brings a varied approach to the nightmare dreadscapes that make up Depths, shifting from the churning ambient doom of the opening track "Buried Temples Of Belial" that resembles some of the more experimental and form-fucking forays into monstrous sound design from Sunn, with slabs of distorted blackened guitar drifting and tumbling through space, decaying and breaking apart high above fields of sleek Lustmordian synthdrift; to the black electronic pulse of "Into The Sightless Vortex Of The Unimaginable" that channels early 80's Carpenter by way of Prurient's eroticized black throb, before evolving into vast currents of obsidian kosmische power that sears the vast cauldron of an endless night sky. Those shades of early 80's era synthesizer music creep all throughout the album, tendrils of burbling black Moog-splooge oozing beneath distant hateful howls and the hissing pneumatic rhythms of infernal machinery. But other tracks almost start to resemble some ancient Nordic black metal demo that has been dissected and strung out into mesmeric industrial-style loops, draped over wafts of eerie subterranean ambience and amid peals of baritone guitar that ring out over the vast black wastes of Wilt's sonic underworld, unfolding into a kind of withered, tattered slowcore not too unlike Earth at their absolute darkest. Other parts of the album blossom into majestic smoldering driftscapes, plumes of black volcanic ash and cinder ascending and spreading across the heavens, or witness vast metallic reverberations in the deep, but all throughout this terrific disc, the atmosphere that Wilt constructs is thick and black and oppressive, a Lovecraftian nightmare transmuted into electronic frequencies.
Track Samples:
Sample : Les Fleurs Du Mal
Sample : Buried Temples Of Belial
Sample : An Ancient Circle Of Monoliths



WILT   A Daemonic Alteration   CASSETTE   (Fall Of Nature)    6.50



     Released simultaneously alongside Wilt's fantastic new album of Lovecraftian deathscapes From Depths Profound And Inconceivable, this cassette-only mini album is an equally killer assemblage of corroded black industrial, howling abyssal electronics, and decaying carcasses of rotted-out doomdrone riffs that the duo send drifting and oozing through a vast lightless void. You get more of the nightmarish Lovecraftian visions that fuel Wilt's doom-tronics on this eight-track tape, with evocative and adjective-drenched titles like "An Abyss Of Seething Chaos And Cerulean Splendor" and "An Oily River That Flows Under Endless Onyx Bridges To A Black Putrid Sea" all hinting at the depths of these dreadful dronescapes and crackling death industrial dirges that creep through the tape.
     And like the Depths album, this combines a heavy synthesizer presence with traces of brute power electronics and waves of drifting low-end drone, with most of the tape moving through passages of near-kosmische splendor like the opening title track, shimmering with a dimly-lit, crepuscular power, like some murky, moldering version of early Tangerine Dream or Ash Ra moving through a thick black fog, surrounded by the whirr of primitive machines and laced with traces of gothic organs rumbling out of the depths. It definitely feels like a slightly more meditative, "mellow" counterpart to the often abrasive Depths, but overall you still get the same level of cosmic dread that permeates Wilt's other recordings, orchestral maneuvers set to scenes of black planets colliding at the edges of vast oceans of dark matter. Virtually essential if you're picking up that other new Wilt full length and are "cassette inclined", this nearly hour long excursion into immense cosmic deathscapes, ritualized electronics, and chthonic industrial dread has zoomed right up the list as one of my favorite releases this duo has put out. Limited to one hundred copies.
Track Samples:
Sample : A Shadowed Portal
Sample : An Oily River That Flows Under Endless Onyx Bridges To A Black Putrid Sea
Sample : Winter Solstice Procession



WODDREA MYLENSTEDE   Demo II   CASSETTE   (Legion Blotan)    6.50



    Just dug up some of our last copies of this 2012 tape from the strange UK black metal outfit Wóddréa Mylenstede, all of which are the limited-to-a-hundred version with the unmarked/unprinted tape shell. Delivering more ultra-raw, demented outré black metal from the Yorkshire wilds, Wóddréa Mylenstede have that ghostly, distant vibe and murk-drenched atmosphere that several of my favorite bands on Legion Blotan seem to share; translated from the Anglo-Saxon as "Demon Mill", this band produces a primitive, almost punk-informed version of black metal that evokes cobwebbed rural ruins and ancient cairns, distant thunderclouds growing high above remnants of eldritch Druidic sites, the songs themselves formed around simple but haunting three chord riffs and jangly distorted guitars, swept up from moody mid-paced melodies into frenzied blasting and snarling chaos. It's murky and mysterious, at times sort of resembling an oddly maudlin-sounding Ildjarn, if that outfit had been more influenced by 80's post punk. The recording is extremely low-fi as with many of the releases on this label, the sound swept in a cloudy haze of tape hiss and four-track murkiness that contributes to the tape's moldering atmosphere, making this sound like it could have been captured on an ancient wax cylinder before being transferred to cassette. But in spite of the ramshackle ugliness of Wóddréa Mylenstede's sound, this stuff is also quite catchy, with a blown-out, jangling aggression on tracks like "Carmsceapen Weorc" that somewhat brings to mind Ghost Kommando or Peste Noire's brand of intensely raw post-punk influenced black metal, and there's one point on the closer "Sweltan" where the band busts out some twangy rocking punkiness that almost sounds like something from the Cramps. Awesome. Still one of my favorite Blotan tapes, and comes highly recommended for those with a taste for filthy, catchy evil murk and the sort of bizarre outsider low-fi English blackness that this label specializes in.


YDI   A Place In The Sun / Black Dust   2 x LP   (Southern Lord)    21.00



     Hands down my most eagerly anticipated release from Southern Lord this year, this double Lp reissues the complete discography of mutant Philly punks YDI (pronounced "why die"). In the mid 1980s, these maniacs cranked out a handful of releases that featured their particularly frenzied brand of hardcore punk, starting out as a feral thrash outfit but then evolving into something much heavier and much more fucked-up towards the end of their career.
     It's that early stuff that makes up the first LP in this set, which collects the demo, the A Place In The Sun 7", and the tracks from the Get Off My Back compilation (all released in 1983). This stuff fucking shreds, a vicious, stumbling hardcore assault with sludgy guitars and screaming solos, jarring tempo changes, and a blown-out, bass-heavy sound, with a singer named Jackal belting out the pissed-off, negatory lyrics in a slurred, burly snarl. In fact, the vocals sound like their being belted out by that gruesome ogre depicted on the cover of Dust, making for one of the more fearsome and fucked-up vocal performances on an 80's hardcore record. Combined with the unhinged, reckless vibe of this stuff, it makes for a savage listening experience, putting this stuff in the same league as other noisy, deranged early 80s hardcore outfits like Void, Mecht Mensch, United Mutation, and Eye For An Eye-era Corrosion Of Conformity. This stuff continues to garner a cult following among fans of raw old-school hardcore, and no wonder - it's goddamn ferocious stuff that just gets more discordant and freaked-out and anxiety ridden the further you get into the demo, with some inspired atonal guitar abuse and crushing sludge-drenched riffs that echo Black Flag at their most deranged, though these guys could belt out something as catchy as their anthemic "Why Die?" amid all of that rampaging, skronky thrash. Awesome.
     But then in 1985, the band seemed to do a complete about-face for their debut full-length album, issuing the notorious Black Dust, which took its name from the street term for a homemade brew of PCP, heroin and formaldehyde and featured a band pic with the members now decked out in leather, spikes and Venom t-shirts. Naturally, many of their fans were pissed, mistakenly calling this out as a sell-out move comparable to other popular hardcore bands "going metal" in a bid for commercial success. But that doesn't seem to be the case here at all. This slab of metallic filth certainly saw the band completely changing their sound and slowing down to a metallic chug, but it's so fucked up and deranged, with sloppy, maniacal guitar solos and an utterly spastic vocal performance, all contributing to a bizarre descent into drug-addled punksludge weirdness. Needless to say, I though this stuff was fucking awesome. Some of the songs sound like a brain-damaged Motorhead, speeding things up to a snarling locomotive boogie; others are a sludgy, almost doom-laden crawl, or have trippy tape noise and effects garbling the beginning of a pummeling power-chug like "Haunted House". It's all supremely hideous and noise-damaged, with a gruesome metallic edge that puts the album in a similar creepzone as bands like Kilslug, Flipper, early Drunks With Guns and In My Head-era Black Flag. I can't blame true-blue hardcore fans for hating this, but Black Dust definitely struck a nerve with more demented fans who dug the album's fucked-up, violent vibe.
     This killer piece of American hardcore weirdness comes with an oversized booklet loaded with photos, artwork and info, making this the definitive vinyl document of one of ther weirder hardcore punk bands to ooze out of the East Coast punk scene of the 1980s. Highly recommended.
Track Samples:
Sample : Black Dust
Sample : Haunted House
Sample : Why Die?
Sample : Out For Blood
Sample : Snarling Hate [Demo]



YEN POX   Between The Horizon And The Abyss   CD   (Malignant)    10.98



     Since their formation in the early 90's, the American duo Yen Pox has produced a modest number of releases that have gone on to become highly regarded within the dark ambient scene. In fact, the band's 1995 debut album Blood Music is considered by many (myself included) to be one of the preeminent dark ambient albums of all time, right up there with Lustmord's Heresy, Inade's Aldebaran and Lull's Dreamt About Dreaming, a masterpiece of lightless isolationist sound. Though we've been treated to a new Yen Pox release every several years or so - the most recent was the Universal Emptiness 10" EP that surfaced on Drone Records a couple of years ago - it's always an event whenever these guys re-emerge with more of their awesome black driftscapes.
     And I'd be lying if I said that there was any dark ambient album coming out this year that had me as excited as Between The Horizon And The Abyss. Only the third full-length album to come from Yen Pox (not including their excellent 2002 collaboration with Troum Mnemonic Induction) and the first from the band in more than fifteen years, Abyss is exactly the sort of vast, monolithic soundscapery that I hoped for, the album unfolding into eight massive tracks of pitch-black orchestral drone and immense gas-clouds of nebular synthdrift. We're talking classic Yen Pox, a direct continuation of the flawless sound of the iconic 90's works, each track a self-contained symphony of ever-shifting sound resonating with vast power, each an exquisitely crafted arrangement of swelling murky drones and distant, crushing mechanical rumblings. Terrifying and awesome, and often monstrously heavy, with tracks like "The Awakening" slipping into grinding industrialized loopscapes that reverberate with nightmarish, doom-laden intensity, and "Cold Summer Sun" seethes with cacophonic percussive sounds and scuttling, insectile horrors all bathed in an ocean of reverb. Choral voices are stretched across time and space, laid over massive planes of deep, bass-heavy ambient drone and ghastly time-stretched cries; several tracks feature the wordless ululations of Ruby Smith from Dark Muse, which turns tracks like "Ashen Shroud" into something akin to hearing Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard tumbling into a starless void, while the almost operatic shrieks that streak and swarm across the churning black chaos-drone of closer "The Procession" are like something distilled directly from the most horrifying of night terrors. While at times also cut with shafts of stunning, celestial beauty, this is primarily music of the abyss, easily one of the finest dark ambient albums to have emerged thus far in the decade. As immersive and awe-inspiring a slab of fearsome kosmische sound as you would hope for from these legends in the field. Highly recommended.
Track Samples:
Sample : The Procession
Sample : Cold Summer Sun
Sample : Ashen Shroud



ZORN, JOHN   Simulacrum   CD   (Tzadik)    17.98



     Never thought I'd be stocking something from one of the guys in avant acid-jazz legends Medeski Martin & Wood. Then again, I never would have expected one of those guys to do something this goddamn heavy. And Simulacrum is the second album that I've picked up this year to include John Medeski - please, keep 'em coming. Much like John Zorn's The Last Judgment that came out earlier this year, this outfit delivers an enthralling mix of fusiony organ shred and aggressive prog, and it's been rattling the walls here ever since we got it in.
     On Simulacrum, Zorn is only present in a composing and conducting role, leading this power-trio assembled from the aforementioned Medeski on organ, guitarist Matt Hollenberg from prog-metallers Cleric, and drummer Kenny Grohowski, who has also played with the likes of Secret Chiefs 3 and avant black metallers Imperial Triumphant. The group is touted by Zorn as "the most extreme organ trio ever"; it's certainly a wild ride, their six instrumental songs careening through spazzy percussive onslaughts and grindcore-level blastbeat attacks, squalls of maniacal freeform guitar shred, and Medeski's stunning mix of virtuosic organ work and frenetic noise. Medeski's keyboard work is comparable to what he was doing on Last Judgment, but this stuff gets even more abrasive and aggressive. Songs like "Marmarath" fuse a near nonstop spew of psychedelic organ shred to crushing, progged-out bona fide death metal, splattering the fast-paced keyboards over a massive, almost Mehsuggah-esque groove. It's gotta be some of the heaviest stuff I've heard from this label in ages. There's also lots of violent free jazz squonk seeping out of this album, often hurtling into frenzied stop-on-a-dime arrangements and cacophonic energy that Naked City fans are going to dig.
     Medeski's keyboards are front and center, with a rich, warm tone that gives even the album's most pummeling sequences a sumptuous fusiony feel, and is the most distinguishing aspect of Simulacrum; take his keys out of this, and you'd have a mighty fine slab of modern instrumental math-metal. With those keys, though, the trio are transformed into something really unique, glowing with a weird nocturnal energy as those sweeping melodic keyboards and warm organ tones rush across the blasts of jazz-damaged heaviness. Parts of this almost head into Goblin-esque creep-prog, others slip into long passages of gorgeous, expansive melodic interplay between the musicians that stretch out for a while, echoing the most epic of 70's-era jazz fusion. Pretty far from the jammy, Phish-endorsed jazz funk you might expect from Medeski's presence - this stuff is more like Behold The Arctopus or something along those lines. Highly recommended to anyone into dark, heavy prog rock and metal-tinged jazz/prog weirdness of bands like Secret Chiefs 3, the Mick Barr/Weasel Walter collaborations, and the aforementioned Behold The Arctopus. Comes in a heavyweight casewrapped jacket.
Track Samples:
Sample : Snakes and Ladders
Sample : Paradigm Shift
Sample : Marmarath



ZU   Cortar Todo   CD   (Ipecac)    16.99



     Yikes, it's really been six years since the last Zu album? Apparently so, as the band's latest Cortar Todo is the first proper full-length from the Italian jazzcore since 2009's Carboniferous, following a brief hiatus and with a couple of EPs and collaborations with the likes of Eugene Robinson (Oxbow) and Barney Greenway (Napalm Death) that came out in the interim. It didn't take long for them to dust themselves off though, as these Italian jazz-metal virtuosos kicks this album off with what might be the heaviest goddamn thing they've ever belted us with, a grueling, monstrously downtuned sludgefest titled "The Unseen War" that slings growling horns and molten doom-laden bass riffs with equal weight and power. And once they finally dig into one of their patented crushing deathjazz grooves, they lead us into one hell of a comeback record that might be the one to finally win over all of the metalheads that I've been telling to check these guys out for the past decade. Looks like adding The Locust/Retox drummer Gabe Serbian to the mix really pumped some brutal new muscle into their sound - replacing founding drummer Jacopo Battaglia who left after the last album, Serbian brings his hardcore punk urgency to the band's complex songwriting and expressive sound, and pushes the songs on Cortar Todo into gales of wheezing violence and furious (but totally controlled) percussive violence.
     These ten songs churn and flail through spasmodic arrangements of lurching lopsided bass guitar, spastic drumming, contorted math metal riffery and Pupillo's awesome fire-breathing sax playing, the guitars hammering out sludgy riffs as heavy as anything you'd expect to hear from their labelmates The Melvins, but here honed to droning, barbaric chugfests that stretch out like some weird inverted math-metal groove, while that sax squeals and whimpers like a tortured beast. There are some supremely discordant moments like the atonal, almost industrial ugliness of "No Pasa Nada" that resolves itself into a strangely mournful, saurian riff looming through a fog of swirling guitar noise and ghostly, droning horns, and the concrete-mixer destruction that overwhelms "Vantablack Vomitorium". There's also a vicious newfound swagger to tracks like "Orbital Equilibria", which swings it's monstrous groove like a sledgehammer and delivers one of the album's most memorable and intense jazzsludge workouts, followed by the glistening cosmic ambience of "Serpens Cauda", all whirring tiny engines and gleaming vistas of dark synthesizer bliss. That track is one of the very few respites that Zu offers on an otherwise exhausting but exhilarating album; mostly instrumental and hard as nails, the album is further fleshed out with guest appearances from keyboardist Joey Karam (The Locust, Le Shok) and experimental guitarist Stefano Pilia, producing a fucking scathing blast of brute-force jazzcore that's as punishing as anything from 16-17 or the Luttenbachers. Comes in digipack packaging.
Track Samples:
Sample : Vantablack Vomitorium
Sample : The Unseen War
Sample : Cortar Todo



ZU + EUGENE S. ROBINSON   The Left Hand Path   LP   (Trost)    24.98



     Now available on both LP and CD, the latter in deluxe gatefold packaging.
     Released just prior to the band's long-awaited new album Cortar Todo, The Left Hand Path is not at all what you'd expect from a Zu album. Instead, the Italian jazzcore outfit's recent collaboration with Oxbow frontman Eugene S. Robinson foregoes the sax-blasting math-metal assault of their latest for something much more subdued and sinister. These guys have made a name for themselves over the past decade and a half with their complex instrumental arrangements and aggressive jazz-damaged heaviness, and it's not too often that we hear Zu working alongside a vocalist. But working with Robinson has brought out a darker side to Zu's sound, and this collection of nineteen shadowy sketches is some pretty haunting stuff, probably the creepiest Zu has ever sounded thanks to the presence of Robinson's wrecked, anguished howl drifting over the band's droning, blues-stained musical backdrop.
     There's definitely a heavily mutated blues vibe going on that seems to reference Oxbow's music a little, the songs made up of ominous slow-moving riffs creeping across fields of desolate amp rumble and controlled swells of luminous feedback, though that is sometimes supplanted by a kind of monstrously doom-laden chamber music on songs like "In The Corner. Of The Corner Apartment" that feature guest cellist Luca Tilli. When the ominous creak and moan of the cello appears alongside Robinson's own mewling groan, this stuff can get pretty creepy, and some of the more abstract tracks can almost be reminiscent of some of Christian Death's early experimental dirges. But Robinson also constantly shape-shifts throughout the album, his throat often layered into a schizophrenic din of competing shrieks and weary bluesy singing and demonic grunts, sometimes unleashing sexually violent lyrics that are as perverse and unsettling as the likes of Dennis Cooper. All the while, bleary Hammond organs and primitive scrub-bucket percussion clambers across ramshackle blues-crawls, mournful air raid sirens howling off in the distance as someone tortures a saxophone to death over darkened guitar twang, and a man weeps softly to himself in the shadows as waves of softened orchestral drone slowly undulate in the depths. When it all comes together musically, the group creep through passages of heavy, unsettling doomjazz on tracks like "Phone Call From A Well Dressed Man" and "6 O'Clock", but even then it's like something dredged out of a nightmare.
     Much more experimental and abstract than most of Zu's recent works, Left Hand Path does have a few moments of hair-raising heaviness, and nothing beats the quietly deranged intensity that Robinson brings to this collaboration. The overall atmosphere here is closer to the doom-laden jazziness of Bohren And Der Club Of Gore or the chamber gloom of Amber Asylum than the physically demanding jazz-metal Zu is more known for, and the result is a brilliantly chilling new side to the band's sound.
Track Samples:
Sample : Praylude
Sample : Pinning the Body To the Soul
Sample : A Slick Not Spoken of Now or Again



ZU + EUGENE S. ROBINSON   The Left Hand Path   CD   (Trost)    17.98



     Now available on both LP and CD, the latter in deluxe gatefold packaging.
     Released just prior to the band's long-awaited new album Cortar Todo, The Left Hand Path is not at all what you'd expect from a Zu album. Instead, the Italian jazzcore outfit's recent collaboration with Oxbow frontman Eugene S. Robinson foregoes the sax-blasting math-metal assault of their latest for something much more subdued and sinister. These guys have made a name for themselves over the past decade and a half with their complex instrumental arrangements and aggressive jazz-damaged heaviness, and it's not too often that we hear Zu working alongside a vocalist. But working with Robinson has brought out a darker side to Zu's sound, and this collection of nineteen shadowy sketches is some pretty haunting stuff, probably the creepiest Zu has ever sounded thanks to the presence of Robinson's wrecked, anguished howl drifting over the band's droning, blues-stained musical backdrop.
     There's definitely a heavily mutated blues vibe going on that seems to reference Oxbow's music a little, the songs made up of ominous slow-moving riffs creeping across fields of desolate amp rumble and controlled swells of luminous feedback, though that is sometimes supplanted by a kind of monstrously doom-laden chamber music on songs like "In The Corner. Of The Corner Apartment" that feature guest cellist Luca Tilli. When the ominous creak and moan of the cello appears alongside Robinson's own mewling groan, this stuff can get pretty creepy, and some of the more abstract tracks can almost be reminiscent of some of Christian Death's early experimental dirges. But Robinson also constantly shape-shifts throughout the album, his throat often layered into a schizophrenic din of competing shrieks and weary bluesy singing and demonic grunts, sometimes unleashing sexually violent lyrics that are as perverse and unsettling as the likes of Dennis Cooper. All the while, bleary Hammond organs and primitive scrub-bucket percussion clambers across ramshackle blues-crawls, mournful air raid sirens howling off in the distance as someone tortures a saxophone to death over darkened guitar twang, and a man weeps softly to himself in the shadows as waves of softened orchestral drone slowly undulate in the depths. When it all comes together musically, the group creep through passages of heavy, unsettling doomjazz on tracks like "Phone Call From A Well Dressed Man" and "6 O'Clock", but even then it's like something dredged out of a nightmare.
     Much more experimental and abstract than most of Zu's recent works, Left Hand Path does have a few moments of hair-raising heaviness, and nothing beats the quietly deranged intensity that Robinson brings to this collaboration. The overall atmosphere here is closer to the doom-laden jazziness of Bohren And Der Club Of Gore or the chamber gloom of Amber Asylum than the physically demanding jazz-metal Zu is more known for, and the result is a brilliantly chilling new side to the band's sound.
Track Samples:
Sample : Praylude
Sample : Pinning the Body To the Soul
Sample : A Slick Not Spoken of Now or Again



ZYANOSE   Insane Noise Raid   CD   (L.A.R.V.A.)    17.99



    Check this out, static addicts: we've had the vinyl releases from "Osaka noise crusties" Zyanose in stock for awhile, but never had a chance to carry the Japanese import CDs that this speaker-blowing noise punk band out on the L.A.R.V.A. label until now. Each one is beautifully packaged, some in chunky "super" jewel-case packaging, all with those Japanese style obi-strips, but they're also on the short side, each one featuring the exact same material as the vinyl, and are a bit pricey considering the length. That aside, all three of these mini-albums are killer, rampaging blasts of bass-heavy, cyclonic punk that makes up some of my favorite contemporary noise-punk coming out of Japan. Here's my original write-up from the vinyl version:
    One of the noisiest and most extreme "crasher crust" bands I've come across, Zyanose is a newer Japanese trio who whip out ultra-distorted, ultra-noisy blasts of maniacal hardcore punk in the vein of fellow noise-damaged outfits like Framtid, Gloom and earlier pioneers of the style like Confuse and Gai, but with that fuzz and distortion cranked to absolutely insane extremes that makes 'em sound as if they've got Japanese noise gods Incapacitants circa Alcoholic Speculation jamming with them off in the background. They don't, of course, which makes the sonic chaos of Insane Noise Raid all the more impressive for being able to whip this level of earfuck with just three guys. And Insane Noise Raid is exactly that, a rabid assault of chaotic hardcore punk drenched in immense caustic feedback, blasting a heavy duty hyper fast thrash attack using two bass guitars and no regular guitar, yet the high end skree screams though this record. A lot of this stuff is borderline white-noise, a flesh-rending blur of distorted roar and hiss, and the vocals are some of the sickest I've ever heard from this kind of hardcore, a puking, unintelligible yowl; each of the songs more or less deal with each of the seven deadly sins ("Gluttony", "Greed", "Lust", "Wrath", etc.), and they veer violently between pounding hardcore thrash and pure skull-shredding noise , with a couple moments of gnarled, brutal noise rock slipped in. The drummer fuckin' destroys, serving up a mix of furious tribal rhythms, blitzkrieg thrash tempos and moments of such unbridled chaos that it sounds like the drummer just stood up and suddenly hurled his entire kit down a fire escape. Indeed, there's moments on Insane Noise Raid that borders on full on noisecore, yet they toe that line without totally abandoning the hardcore punk foundation of their music. Fucking awesome extreme hardcore that is absolutely recommended to fans of bands like Schizophasia and Nuklear Blast Suntan.
    The L.A.R.V.A. CD edition comes in a cool, minimalist package design, totally different from the vinyl version.
Track Samples:
Sample : Envy
Sample : Wrath
Sample : Lust
Sample : Greed



ZYANOSE   Isolation   CD   (L.A.R.V.A.)    17.99



    Check this out, static addicts: we've had the vinyl releases from "Osaka noise crusties" Zyanose in stock for awhile, but never had a chance to carry the Japanese import CDs that this speaker-blowing noise punk band out on the L.A.R.V.A. label until now. Each one is beautifully packaged, some in chunky "super" jewel-case packaging, all with those Japanese style obi-strips, but they're also on the short side, each one featuring the exact same material as the vinyl, and are a bit pricey considering the length. That aside, all three of these mini-albums are killer, rampaging blasts of bass-heavy, cyclonic punk that makes up some of my favorite contemporary noise-punk coming out of Japan. Here's my original write-up from the vinyl version:
    The Japanese hardcore punk scene has long produced some of the most extreme, noise-damaged punk bands around, but the recent wave of newer "crasher crust" bands that has appeared over the past couple of years has really elevated extreme hardcore to a new level of ear-shredding, pandemonic insanity. I've heard tons of killer shit coming out of this particular scene, bands like D-Clone, Framtid, and Death Dust Extractor all delivering a vicious mix of ultra-distorted guitar noise, weird effects, and PCP-fueled thrash, but none of these bands quite reach the level of skull-shredding violence that one encounters in the music of Zyanose. This Tokyo-based group first hit my ears with their awesome Insane Noise Raid 12" a while back, a record that I described as being in the vein of "fellow noise-damaged outfits like Framtid, Gloom and earlier pioneers of the style like Confuse and Gai, but with that fuzz and distortion cranked to absolutely insane extremes that makes 'em sound as if they've got Japanese noise gods Incapacitants circa Alcoholic Speculation jamming with them off in the background". What made their insane noise-drenched sound even more impressive was that they band didn't even use guitars, instead wielding a dual-bass guitar lineup that created crushing cement-mixer levels of distortion over their furious pogoing bass-lines and the wicked twin vocal attack. The band's latest is the Isolation EP, which features nine short blasts of ultra-distorted noise-punk, each one a sudden assault of mangled buzzsaw guitars whose distortion levels have been pushed into Merzbowian levels of screech and roar, the manic bass basically laying down the riffs over the drummer's speedy, stumbling attack, the sound often coming very close to total noisecore, the sound completely blasted in feedback and amp- noise. This CD version of the EP features additional songs that didn't appear on the Distort Reality 7" of the same name, though this CD does not include the noise remix that appeared on the b-side of that 7".
Track Samples:
Sample : The Lazy Song
Sample : Radiation Exposure
Sample : No Nuke
Sample : Dead Life



ZYANOSE   Why There Grieve?   CD   (L.A.R.V.A.)    17.99



    Check this out, static addicts: we've had the vinyl releases from "Osaka noise crusties" Zyanose in stock for awhile, but never had a chance to carry the Japanese import CDs that this speaker-blowing noise punk band out on the L.A.R.V.A. label until now. Each one is beautifully packaged, some in chunky "super" jewel-case packaging, all with those Japanese style obi-strips, but they're also on the short side, each one featuring the exact same material as the vinyl, and are a bit pricey considering the length. That aside, all three of these mini-albums are killer, rampaging blasts of bass-heavy, cyclonic punk that makes up some of my favorite contemporary noise-punk coming out of Japan. Here's my original write-up from the vinyl version:
    Why There Grieve? is the latest twelve-song blast of extreme D-beat hyperdistortion from Osaka's Zyanose, a band that has quickly turned into one of my favorites among that whole Japanese noise-punk scene. A lot of people throw the term "noisecore" around a little too loosely when talking about the current wave of ultra-noisy, Confuse-influenced noise punk, either forgetting or being ignorant of the extreme blast aesthetic of bands like Seven Minutes Of Nausea and Anal Cunt that term was originally conceived around. But with Zyanose, that descriptor becomes a little more appropriate. Featuring an unusual lineup of two bass guitars and no lead guitar, Zyanose have a quirkier take on that ultra-distorted noise punk sound, with an (obviously) heavier low-end presence that gives their music a constant rumbling abrasiveness, and their songs often erupt into torrents of ultra violent chaos that are, in fact, so noisy and frenzied that it often does indeed turn into a full-on noisecore assault; while we've seen that kind of chaos erupt on previous Zyanose records, it's never been more prominent than here on Grieve.
    Here, the band's wall of bass-heavy blurr becomes as noxious and ear-wrecking as anything from early Boredoms or Deche-Charge or Anal Cunt, the rumbling distorted bass riffs suddenly blasting out of the pummeling Discharge-style hardcore at maximum velocity, becoming a blur of crushing noise. The use of two bass guitars gives their racket a sludgier, more blown-out sound than many of their peers, producing an intensely heavy sound, with huge driving bass riffs surging and racing over the churning blasts, the usually blazing-fast tempos delivered via the drummer's quirky combination of ferocious tribal rhythms and rampaging D-beat thrash, while the other bass guitar often fractures into a maelstrom of insane flanger-pedal abuse, squealing feedback and bizarre effects. Despite the absolute cacophony that these guys create, though, their songs for the most part tend to stick to a classic hardcore punk structure; as on previous records, this delivers some crushing ultra-heavy, ultra-noisy Japanese hardcore, often akin to being subjected to some insane collaboration between Confuse and the brutal harsh noise of artists like Masonna or Merzbow. Their lyrics are in that classic Discharge nuclear-haiku format, but are even more fragmented and insane, filled with bizarre gibberish. Grieve features a few surprising moments as well, like the weirdly-placed, jarring edits and blasts of pure noise that are laced throughout the songs, and a few blistering attacks of mega-distorted pogo punk like "Chipping Song Of Bird", or the lurching noise-drenched dirge "Keep Your Self" that closes the album. Fans of offbeat, noise-damaged hardcore like Gloom, D-Clone, Framtid, Disclose, Isterismo, Death Dust Extractor and the like should definitely be checking these guys out, but ultimately Zyanose exist in a over-the-top nuclear hellstorm that is uniquely their own.
Track Samples:
Sample : Never
Sample : Keep Your Seld
Sample : Chipping Song Of Bird
Sample : Camouflage