Author: Alex Coulombe

Aphex Twin
Syro
Warp
Street: 09.19.14
Aphex Twin = Polygon Window + Conjure One

Syro is the sequel to Aphex Twin’s 2001 masterpiece Drukqs. I remember friends in high school throwing tantrums about how it was “just a bunch of random bleeps and bloops” before ironically ejecting the CD to listen to Radiohead’s Kid A for the millionth time. Newcomers may find Syro a little more accessible—the beats are more discernable and easier to follow. Fortunately, it retains Richard D. James’ unmistakable, signature quirky genius. The tracks are simultaneously off-putting and tranquilizing. Syro starts with “minipops 67 (source field mix),” which contrasts radiance with warped vocal samples. “180db_” has unsettling, altered synth loops repetitively strewn over an oscillating, start/stop drum pattern. The album ends on a softer note with “aisatsana,” a simple yet satisfying piano piece laced with chirping birds. Syro, armed with encoded mystique and sleek grooves, is easily the best electronic album of 2014. It’s the Aphex Twin album everybody’s been asking for and nobody saw coming. –Alex Coulombe

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Impaled Nazarene

Vigorous and Liberating Death

Osmose Productions

Street: 04.14

Impaled Nazarene = Sodom + Satanic Warmaster x Aura Noir
Impaled Nazarene has been terrorizing the realm of extreme metal with their easily recognizable, ominous and hateful black metal for over two decades. On their new offering, Vigorous and Liberating Death, they showcase a sound that’s slightly more thrash and D-beat oriented than previous albums, without abandoning their Finnish ferocity. The first track, “King Reborn,” gives you a taste of things to come: Panzer-fast instrumentation, harsh, battle-commanding vocals and fiery imagery, all beaten into a blender to make gasoline margaritas with broken glass frosting the rim. While some black metal bands opt out of guitar solos for whatever reason (usually choice or ability), Impaled Nazarene whip out entrancing and intricate solos on several songs, including “Flaming Sword of Satan” and “Pathological Hunger for Violence.” Lots of tempo variety from one song to the next, and even within the songs themselves, but a dizzying speed is maintained from start to finish. “Dystopia AS” slices back and forth from thundering double bass attacks laced with roaring war riffs to bestial, light speed pandemonium with evil precision and technical prowess. Demonic, spiteful, fast, heavy, loud and awesome: you’ll need to look elsewhere if you are into the slow, gradually-droning-and-chugging-along kind of music that seems to be so popular these days. –Alex Coulombe
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Hibria

Hibria
Self-Titled

Power Prog
Street: 08.07
Hibria = Helloween + Metal Church + Stormwarrior

I was down as shit until the brass section came in on the first song. I’m not just being a dick, either: Hibria’s first album is among the most played albums on my iTunes. But Jesus … I actually laughed, and not with them. But by the time the inhuman solos (bass and guitar) came in on “Abyss,” the hot-rockin’ “Tightrope” plowed my ears, and “Life” made me bang my head, I almost forgot about it. The best songs, “Ghosts” and “Church,” reminded me why I liked the band in the first place. But then, out of nowhere—Bam!—the brass section awkwardly stumbles in like an unwanted drunk guest, ruining the otherwise-awesome “Ashamed.” They should fire whoever thought that those would add anything other than shittiness to the album. The rest actually kicks a fair amount of ass—I’ll give them that. The skinny: It’s no Defying the Rules, but it’s not quite close to being atrocious enough to be lumped in with Celtic Frost’s Cold Lake. –Alex Coulombe

Visigoth
The Revenant King
Metal Blade Records
Street: 01.27
Visigoth = Icarus Witch + Hammerfall + Manilla Road

Utah’s own heavy metal staple return with their first full-length album—released on none other than Metal Blade Records. Lee Campana and Jamison Palmer use their axes like master warriors, hacking out classic-assed riffs and melodic solos like camps of unsuspecting enemies while bassist Matthew Brotherton and drummer Mikey T. hold down the rhythms steadily and skillfully. The songs are dynamic and ensure that the catchy choruses linger in your mind—with one exception: The track running times never fall below the five-minute mark, making me want to take a drill to my brain à la Pi so I stop waking up with “Blood Sacrifice” on repeat in my head. Those familiar with their other releases will hear polished renditions of older songs, such as “Creature of Desire” and the proclamatory “Iron Brotherhood.” I’m particularly impressed with the increased, raw emotion that vocalist Jake Rogers exhibits on this album. Classic metal purists and basement-dwelling D&D nerds alike are going to need emergency stockpiles of tissues and lotion for this one. If Magic: The Gathering had a soundtrack, this would be it. –Alex Coulombe

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Disturbance Project
Grita Mientras Puedas
EveryDayHate
Street: 05.01
Disturbance Project = Nasum + Toxic Narcotic + Extreme Noise Terror

Disturbance Project turned up both the volume and grind knobs (the latter of which goes far past the 11th mark) and Grita Mientras Puedas was brought to life. It’s also probably safe to assume that they’re really pissed off. The songs speed by like crack-addicted light particles, all the while puking diatribes in Spanish. Both polar ends of the grindcore vocal range (low growls and banshee screams) are employed, which is impressive when pulled off correctly. After an intro of radio sounds, the drummer counts three on the snare, prompting order and harmony to take a smoke break. “Casa Belli” is 57 seconds of blast beats, shrieks and blurred punk riffing. The title track kind of sounds like some of the other ones, but it’s still pretty cool. I have a friend who gets horrific migraines all the time. I think that after giving Grita Mientras Puedas a listen, I can now empathize with that kind of head pain, albeit on a much smaller scale. Grind on, fellas. –Alex Coulombe

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Reverence of the Martyr – The Great Divide

Reverence of the Martyr
The Great Divide

Self-Released
Street: 07.30.14
Reverence of the Martyr = Septicflesh x Whitechapel

Ah, Utah blackened-ish metal-kind-of-core. If I’m going to be honest (why wouldn’t I be?), the drums are a little too low in the mix, and everything seems kind of stale as far as the overall sound goes, but the guitar work is pretty topnotch, and I know how costly a proper studio production can be. Maybe I’m just kind of burned out on this kind of style. I don’t want to discourage the band—The Great Divide shows promise, and as far as many local acts go, ROTM are still leagues above many of the more popular bands in the state. It’s easy to tell that the band has substance—the great riffs and talent indicate this. I wasn’t thoroughly impressed, but I wasn’t pissed off by any means at the end of the album either. I think they just need something that sets them apart from the vast ocean of acts like this in the local scene. –Alex Coulombe

Black Cilice
Mysteries
Iron Bonehead Productions
Street: 01.30
Black Cilice = Striborg + Belketre + Master’s Hammer
 
The scornful, mysterious and raw Portuguese black metal band Black Cilice is not for those afraid of getting their ears spattered in filth, or of recordings made outside of a professional studio setting (the word for these types escapes me … oh yeah, pussies). All the instruments slightly blend together, but this isn’t to the listening experience in any detrimental way—au contraire, each acts as a limb of an evil, angry, lo-fi Voltron. The vocals howl like a lycanthrope on a full-moon night, and any intelligible words are lost within a stream of ghastly effects and pulsing reverberation. Choral keyboards add a melancholic mortar to the wall of majestic yet vile sound, and the result is a grim, atmospheric assault which makes for a satisfying spin. My only gripe is that Mysteries is my first exposure to this kick-assery. I hereby christen Black Cilice: “Lycanthropic Black Metal.” Damn. I should get a T-shirt for coming up with that. –Alex Coulombe 
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Obscure Burial
Epiphany
Invictus Productions
Street: 09.15
Obscure Burial = Nihilist (Sweden) + early Mayhem + Sadistik Exekution

This is a neat, little release from Finland’s death dealers, Obscure Burial. Epiphany can be considered a demo, both in its rough production, length and the grim cover artwork, yet it could stand up to many of the studio albums from major labels that I’ve heard this year. The vocals have a slight delay on them, giving them a ghoulish, inhuman quality (think Deathcrush by Mayhem). “Night Queen” starts with guitar feedback and then builds into a bestial onslaught of fast black/death, uncut and straight from the heart. No melodies here, friend: just buzz-sawing bass lines like the one in the intro to “Dweller In The Abyss,” nauseating guitars (the good kind) and blasting drums. Tremelo riffs and chugs adorn the album in humble doses, and put bluntly, I’m thoroughly impressed. When I’m at the dinner table this Thanksgiving and that certain brother-in-law asks me what I’m thankful for, I’m going to toss a copy of this album over to him and let it speak for me. –Alex Coulombe

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Call Of The Void
Ageless
Relapse Records
Street: 02.10
Call Of The Void = Converge + Nasum + Gaza
 
Though the band is Coloradan, Ageless was recorded by Andy Patterson right here in Salt Lake City. Patterson has a knack for showing bands realistically—his work often has an organic, honest quality, and Ageless presents COTV as they are: crisp, tight, down-tuned hardcore/grind. Local artists also lent their talent to the album—Kim Pack (SubRosa) contributes her violin skills, and Anthony Lucero (Cult Leader) did the album artwork and performs vocals on “The Hive.” “Old Hate” beckons us into the void with a sludgy riff and then shoves the listener into a blast-laden pit of pandemonium, which ensues for most of the album save for the song “II.” The title (and final) track, my favorite of the bunch, makes sure you won’t get breakdown withdrawals and ends the album with a bang. I’m a sucker for albums that can put me on edge, and this will make you feel like your barista snuck six extra shots into your Americano. –Alex Coulombe 
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Johnny Touch
Inner City Wolves
Shadow Kingdom Records
Street: 08.19
Johnny Touch = Riot + Tokyo Blade

Another NWOBHM release! I’m not sure how they came up with the band name, but I have my suspicions—all of which are probably overthought and sickeningly juvenile. The music kicks ass, and these guys are talented, though I wasn’t blown away by any means. “The Metal Embrace” proves that they’re capable not only in their instrumental ability, but also of writing a catchy ’80s style sing-along. “Radiation Axeposure” is an instrumental track mostly consisting of a face-melting guitar solo, not out of place by any means on the album. I enjoyed this release, but I’d be lying if I said it ever ventured outside the well-travelled road of this style and into originality. It’s good, but I would much sooner give Defenders of the Faith or Thundersteel another spin before I put this back on. However, I would be interested to see if their next release will bring in something to set them apart from their peers. –Alex Coulombe

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