As of this past Wednesday my first post for The Wednesday Sludge has gone live via Metal Injection! Every Wednesday you can check in as I introduce you to new sludge bands.
And as of today I will be officially writing with Broken Amp! Will be contributing features, essays, and reviews. Keep an eye out for all the work to come this year.
2016 was an amazing year for music! Amazing record after amazing record came out, and 2017 looks to be just as (if not more) amazing. Follow the link below if you want to see my ten most anticipated records of the year!
After a very successful year of writing in 2016, I took some time to compose six solid pieces of advice that helped me excel further.
For the full article follow the link! Keeping It Blunt: Writing Advice
Here’s a treat from a part of the world I don’t get too hear much from. For those who don’t know Tokyo’s Sithter, they were originally formed in 2006, releasing their first EP The Last Temptation, along with their first LP Evilfucker, in 2009. This year they deliver their newest record Chaotic Fiend (Bonten), which proves to deliver on all the aspects that make sludge metal proud.
Sithter attribute bands like Eyehategod as major influences behind their music, and Chaotic Fiend really backs that notion up. That being said the band never sounds too much like their inspiration, being able to throw their own spins in from time to time. Opener “Chaotic Fiend” doesn’t even kick in until the halfway point, spending the first half with moaning vocals and hectic distortion (which all makes for a grimy intro). The song itself is a swampy jam that trudges forward. “I Drink Your Blood” picks it up a couple notches and really rocks the fuck out. At this point the record really sets the mood for what effective sludge metal records should aim to do, and that’s playing with the listener’s senses. Instrumentally (and even vocally), sludge should be able to manipulate with one’s sense of hearing, touch, and smell: the distortion throwing off sound ever so slightly, the thickness of each note hanging on the finger tips, and the sense of filth and burning in the nostrils.
There’s strong distortion that fills the backgrounds, while the drum beat aides in setting adrenaline. The guitars maintain a solid groove whether they are grinding it slowly or jamming away. They never blend too much into each track moving forward (since the style and sound of each song differs just enough). Vocally the strong point is the heft felt through them that adds to the entire instrumental combo. Moving forward the record plays off variations of the trudging and jam out effects; tracks such as “Masque of The Black Death” linger in a mid-tempo range and hit hard on each note, while “Punisher #13” starts off the bat pummeling away.
Chaotic Fiend is a solid example of what makes sludge metal so fucking awesome. Even with legends like Crowbar that just put out a record this year, I have to say that personally this stands out as the more polished work. While sludge can have some monotony to it, there are effective ways to work with that structure, and that is what Sithter pulls off here. From start to finish the instrumentals really do a terrific job of playing with tempos and sounds, while really hitting it on the nose with emotional heft. Make sure to add Sithter on your radar, and let’s hope for a U.S. tour soon, because Chaotic Fiend is one of the best underground gems of the year.
You can pre-order Chaotic Fiend via Bandcamp.
The Midwest of America is a desolate and barren wasteland in the shadow of a gray looming metropolis. From the depths of the land comes Michigan’s Boreworm, an “insecticle” death metal act with powerful atmosphere and unrelenting darkness. Their new EP Entomophobia is a collection of technical brutality that is only amplified by moments of tranquility; the sort that lingers the listener within the darkness, and has them take in all the emotion present. Combining both straight forward technical death metal, and atmospheric death metal, Boreworm finds themselves taking the best of two, and creating a stronger force to be reckoned with.
Slithering in slowly at first, opening track “Synapse” drops like a sudden fall with blast beats and devastatingly deep vocals. Taking off from there, it only breaks up just a little in the mid-section with a gentle, yet powerful solo. Immediately afterwards it descends almost into silence, just to shift to a beautiful melody and relentless drumming. It actually comes off as a pretty song, making the atmosphere all the more haunting before moving into the next track “Esoteric”. For the most part this is a technical death metal treat with underlining melody, which then falls off right around the three-fourths mark. There comes a gentle and sincerely heartwarming guitar piece, that at once feels comfortable but also distant.
The shift that comes after that is one of the most intense flips I’ve heard a song take. “Vile Husk” comes in slamming so fucking hard upon its intro; darker chords meet sonic wails, dipping into an almost djent groove, all backed by some destructive drumming. This is easily one of the heaviest things I’ve heard all year (and that’s already after an excellent year of music). Closer and title track “Entomophobia” almost follows the same musical philosophy as “Esoteric”, the only difference is that it never goes into full ambience, but has a stronger presence of outstanding melody.
The only fault I can find in Entomophobia is that it isn’t an actual full length record. I just discovered these guys, and hopefully you’ve been a fan of them for much longer. Boreworm’s new EP is a terrific work of art that captures phenomenal atmosphere, and a devastating darkness.
“Neo-Viking Metal/Djent” … hell of a mouthful. But that’s how Norway’s Strandhugg has been since coming out of the gates in 2013. With one album to date, the band is looking forward to releasing their new EP Kyn later this month. And while it is a heavy treat, there is room for the band to grow. While it stumbles at first, it is successfully able to bring with it some memorable parts that stick out.
From the get-go Kyn comes in like a storm coming off the seas. “Elding” is a terrific build up that gets the blood pumping, and takes a brief few seconds before the crushing djent hits (and it hits so damn hard). While mixing it up with choppy and melodic moments, it is a pure instrumental lead into the first song with vocals, “Rift”. While the groove in “Rift” is simple (yet catchy), the vocals felt off (which brings up the one issue with the band). The vocals are jarring (and in the beginning tracks), take away from the pure groove of the instrumentals. When you have such a solid thing going for you instrumentally, it can be somewhat of a turn off to have clean vocals blaring against a component so smooth. Luckily this is not an issue found in the majority of the EP.
“Silhouettes” blends in from the previous track, with the halfway point adding a great rhythm section that makes a difference in standing out. The difference doesn’t do much to save that blending of the tracks though, and the momentum beginning in “Elding” slows down. However, following that is “Plague”, which is hands down the best song on the EP. With a surprising nü-metal opening kicking into a high electric speed, this was a strong way to shake things up. It also presents the EP’s best vocals, with them trying new methods (such as raspy and screeching). These vocals work much better than the cleans found earlier, and stand out as something leaning more towards unique. Each part of the song compliments itself as a whole, driving with energy and speed. In “Óðr” we find a very simple instrumental interlude before ending on “Gallows”. This is another great track, moving forward slowly in its mechanical and menacing instrumentation. Vocals are also stronger here, and give a strong Meshuggah vibe.
Strandhugg’s Kyn finds itself in the middle being a work that at once has great moments, and then “eh” moments. While the vocals find themselves facing some issues in the beginning, they also prove they have the ability to do some terrific things. That being said, the band does their combination of genres well, and is able to shake things up. There is a great potential in this band to create brutal and a storm like atmosphere, which I hope to see more of in the future.
Sometimes you get through an entire year just to have a great album thrown your way that you missed earlier on. That’s the case with Astral Path’s latest release Ashes Dancer (released originally July 29th via 7hard – a division of 7us media group). This Italian outfit finds its success in capturing the strengths of progressive and melodic death metal. For the fan of bands such as The Contortionist and Cynic, each song on the record is equal parts intricate composition, brutal speed, and epic.
Eugene Yu is a vocalist whose range is praise worthy. While his lows sound great, it is really his clean singing which makes for all the great parts of the record. There is such an elegance to them that when accompanied by the melodic moments of instrumentals, come off profound in emotion. In regards to instrumentals there are no complaints. Astral Path does a superb job in composition and balancing out the flow and structure of the body in each song. It is worth mentioning the great periods when drumming goes into more of a death metal frenzy (truly giving off a racing momentum), and the excitement and peaceful presence found in the guitar work. Both guitarist Gabriele Papagni and Simone Catania hook in the listener using equal parts serenity and thrash; both sounds eliciting emotion and strongly catchy.
After a relaxing intro, “Blinded” kicks in sharp and jagged, dipping back slightly into a beautiful soft melody, to playing back and forth with sounds. The song portrays a sporadic nature that never comes off jarring, but may take a couple listens to appreciate all the styles at play. In just one song it captures elements of what makes the record strong with heavy riffs, beautiful sung vocals, and dreamy melodic notes. All the songs act in this manner, never settling in on one style. The shifts in sound come with the idea that either they're not expected, or delicately planned. Tempos are all over the place and are straight up enjoyable; the design is fun and easily keeps the listener entertained.
“Silent Whispers” is a noticeable track since it too captures more of these prominent transitions. Starting in with a straight forward drumroll and some quick strums, it jumps right into speed. From there it slowly sinks away to peaceful guitar playing, and ends using an at once gentle and resounding melodic progression with Yu’s graceful vocals.
While only made up of eight tracks (two of which are brief instrumentals), all the songs embody a powerful nature; whether through a more straight forward modern death metal approach, or an epic melodic sense. Of the entire album, “Ashes Dancer” is the strongest in musicianship and energy. With a gentle clean vocal and instrumental intro, it slowly transitions with heavy notes and builds little by little. This dips and rises as the song progresses making for a strong use of getting the listener on the edge of their seat, right before a beautiful and soaring mid-section. High guitars back by a simple drum beat lay the way for a sonic solo that makes for the most memorable part of all the work. From there it gets chaotic just ever so briefly, before shifting into the band’s peaceful moments, and rising back once again to the end.
Coming to the end of 2016, it has been a pleasure to be introduced to Ashes Dancer and Astral Path. Surely an act to keep an eye on for their talent and craftsmanship is top notch and without flaw. Ashes Dancer is a work that does not ask for constant replays to let the varying styles sit in, but a trust that what is to come in its progression is worth every second from the beginning.
I feel confident being so close to the new year to at least share the bands I've discovered this year that have made my eardrums shake with joy and adrenaline. Some of these bands just came out, some of them have been around for years (and after hearing them I can't understand what rock I must have been under to miss out on the hype). So here are my picks for New Bands I've Discovered in 2016:
Sabaton: These guys just announced a tour and I thought "What the hell?" and checked them out. It took just the opening to their newest record The Last Stand to sell me. It is such a breath of fresh air when a band can make music that is playful and just damn fun to head bang too!
Latest release: The Last Stand (Metal Blade, April. 19, 2016)
Serpentine Dominion: The love child of Adam D. (Killswitch Engage), Shannon Lucas (ex-The Black Dahlia Murder), and George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher (Cannibal Corpse). At first I was afraid this was going to be a Cannibal Corpse rip-off, but luckily it acts more of a tribute to classic death metal while having its own identity.
Latest release: Serpentine Dominion (Metal Blade, October. 28, 2016)
Wormrot: 2016 was the year when I truly became a fan of grindcore. At first I thought it was just too much noise to be music, but while I discovered the rush of grind through bands like NAILS, Wormrot was such an incredible spin by adding dark rhythms and a chaos I had never heard before up until then.
Latest release: Voices (Earache, October. 14, 2016)
Revocation: What an excellent combination of death and thrash. Speed, heaviness, and supreme technicality make this a musician's band. Experimentation and classical metal meet here to create a whirlwind of devastating steel and gore.
Latest release: Great is our Sin (Metal Blade, July. 22, 2016)
Oathbreaker: In the world of metal there is so much of those droning blackened hardcore bands that it is tough to tell them apart. With Oathbreaker it was the use of at time clean vocals, gentle dream-like instrumentals, and poetic lyricism that grabbed my attention towards one of the more unique bands of today.
Latest release: Rheia (Deathwish Inc., Septemeber. 30, 2016
Motionless in White: The most mainstream thing on this list and a band I use to have no interest in giving a shot. But one day out of boredom I played their most recent album and was blown away by both how well they pay tribute to their inspirations, and also how heavy they just happened to be. Their ability to mix so many styles is an incredible plus that I wish more bands would attempt to do today.
Latest release: Reincarnate (Fearless, September. 16, 2014)
Baroness: Another band that mixes many styles of music together, this time along the lines of rock, sludge, acoustics, and metal. I forget how I came across them to be honest, but after listening to their Yellow & Green album I was in LOVE. I actually got to meet the vocalist on the same day I saw them for the first time, and after finding their performance so beautiful and driven, made a promise to see them every time they tour.
Latest release: Purple (Abraxan Hymns, December. 18, 2015)
Cattle Decapitation: On this entire list this easily has to be one of my top favorites. In particular I've fallen heavily for their two most recent releases, and in a world that has so much heavy music, I can not get over the technicality, speed, and repulsive aura that surrounds this band. I also love when death metal actually has something to say. Seeing them live was one of the best treats of the year hands down.
Latest release: The Anthropocene Extinction (Metal Blade, August. 7, 2015)
This is pure chaos unlike anything I’ve heard in quite some time. I’ll be honest and state that I am a little out of the loop as far as industrial music is concerned, but as far as music that has anything to do with black metal, grindcore, or is purely extreme, I’m at the front of the line. Upon hearing “Depravity Favours the Bold” I started itching for more, and let me tell you that Anaal Nathrakh’s The Whole of the Law (Metal Blade) is not just an excellent blend of the elements just mentioned, but a powerful work able to elicit emotion and warp senses.
Being the first two singles, “Depravity Favours the Bold” and “Hold Your Children Close and Pray for Oblivion” both contain the same elements of sound, but don’t come off similar at all. This is something that works out well for the record (beyond the constant use of blast beats). While the majority of the tracks feature the same style of drumming, what aides the eventual monotony is the use of guitar, vocals and electronics. There are fantastic sections of rhythm and vocal patterns that help differentiate from song to song. So even if from start to finish every track is going a mile a minute, there is always a slight difference to them.
“We Will Fucking Kill You” begins with an overwhelmingly strong electronic beat and somewhat djent guitar intro (with a bright and simple rhythm playing underneath). It makes for one of the prime examples of the hysteria producing effect that takes place over the record. With “In Flagrante Del” comes opera-like vocals that help balance the shrieks and screams that take over a solid 80% of the record. “And You Will Beg for Our Secrets” demonstrates how even just a little use of simple rhythm can alter a song and what vibe it emits. These brief moments of adding new parts to the basic structure payoff since all these songs go in the same direction of frenetic chaos. Speed and heaviness sounds great in theory, but once applied (and if are the only elements used), can more than likely lean towards tiresome. It would be fair to say that The Whole of the Law does a strong job of keeping its listener within grasp, only losing them towards the end. But on the flip side of this, it is the aura pulsating from this work that makes for Anaal Nathrakh’s greatest strength. In nature this is a sinister work of art, digging deep into a filth and decrepit place; and in a hypnotic sense, these feelings find themselves borrowing into the listener’s core.
Anaal Nathrakh refuses to allow any sense of rest. The Whole of the Law is a relentless attack on the senses, and one of the greater works recently to have such an ability to emotionally suck its audience in. It effectively creates a world out of the emotions it captures, and through its runtime wraps the listener’s sense of place. While it eventually becomes a little monotonous towards the ends, the overall excitement and sparse uses of different instrumentation do help shake things up, making for an overall hellish ride.