Author: Bryer Wharton

Human Cull
Stillborn Nation
Wooaaargh / EveryDayHate / Rip Roaring Shit Storm Records
Street: 03.31
Human Cull = Insect Warfare + Cripple Bastards + Machetazo

I love discovering new bands by random occurrences. Human Cull made its way to me through a physical promo of the CD sent to SLUG Mag. This UK grind band surprised the shit out of me—not so much in the way that when I first heard Napalm Death, in which I think I actually shit myself a little bit. But still, the shit flowed from blasting Stillborn Nation. I’m an admitted grindaholic, and the speed of the songs on this record is impressive. The more impressive thing about the band is, where many grind acts these days are mashed albums of very similar songs, Stillborn Nation impresses with its diversity and production value that screams live sound. The speed-born tunes are riddled with some crust and D-beat sounds. There’s also the tempo breaks of really gritty, greasy shit. –Bryer Wharton

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Trenchrot
Necronomic Warfare
Unspeakable Axe Records
Street: 02.18
Trenchrot = Denial Fiend + Ghoul + Obituary
Add another mediocre (at best) death metal album to the burning pits of hell with Trenchrot’s debut Necronomic Warfare. The Philly crew attempts to take on OSDM, which is fine when there are oh so many bands playing the old-school death metal style. The problem with Trenchrot is, for the main part, redundancy—and they present nothing very interesting or mentally appealing. The guys also bust out a lot of hardcore/punk influence and it’s actually a bit much—there are times when the album sounds almost upbeat. There are also quite a few puzzle pieces jammed into the wrong spaces in the way of highly melodic guitar solos that last way too long at times. It’s almost as if the band can’t figure out how to nail a death metal guitar solo. Some folks may dig the many decent riffs and the band’s attempt at old-school, but I’m gonna take a pass on this one.
–Bryer Wharton
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Vader
Tibi Et Igni
Nuclear Blast
Street: 06.10
Vader = Decapitated + Behemoth + Vomitory

Polish death metal giants Vader enter the summer release chaos with Tibi Et Igni—meaning “For You and Fire” in Latin. Tibi Et Igni isn’t a bad album, though it struggles quite a bit. Most songs lack the luster of the past. Losing two great drummers in a band where drumming has always been a huge factor feels like a large drain on the death crew. A good chunk of the songs seem to go through some regular motions and are also abruptly short—so the new album here seems to bear the weight of whether or not the strong songs can carry the record over the weak ones. “The Eye of the Abyss” is highly dynamic, “Triumph of Death” is catchy as hell and “The End” makes a great album closer. In the end, the fans will decide this record’s place in death metal history. –Bryer Wharton

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Pantheon of Blood
Tetrasomia
Eldritch Lunar Miasma
Street: 07.22
Pantheon of Blood = Charnel Winds + Arvet + Cosmic Church
Call it cliché or call it archetypal: Black metal band members—especially of the loosely Scandinavian descent—are well active in a bunch of bands that can be either similar or very different. Pantheon of Blood are a Finnish black metal band that’s a little bit down-tempo, comparatively, but also heavy on the bleak atmospheres they set out to create. The trio of members have all been part of Saturnian Mist—a faster, grittier blend of blackness. Judged solely on Tetrasomia EP, I’m ready to scour the universe for the band’s first EP: Consociatio Solis et Lunae. Time will tell whether Pantheon of Blood move on or end. But such is the point of EP releases—they’re a testing of the musical waters, so to say. Sadly, so many bands have put forth EP releases and gone into the wind. Judging by the darkness conjured up on Tetrasomia’s four tracks, the extent of the journey your ears and psyche take from three dudes laying down the black in layers and layers—the mysticism that a full-length could offer is tantalizing. –Bryer Wharton
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Cough/Windhand 
Reflection of the Negative Split 
Relapse 
Street: 04.15 
Cough/Windhand = Cough + Windhand 
Split releases of any type can be risky, considering a good chunk of the time before the split is even created, either artist hasn’t heard the others’ tunes going into the work. I’m not sure how this release came into fruition, but the one almost 20-minute tune from Cough and two tunes equally the same playtime come from Windhand. Cough most likely annihilated an entire population with the nasty hack that was their 2010 Relapse Records debut, full-length Ritual Abuse. Their contribution here gets uglier, more toned in ugly, muddy bass guitar that makes the distortions that much more harsh. It’s boggy, down-tempo and mean. Windhand, hot on the heels of their 2012 debut album, give a little yin to the yang of Cough. Windhand are sludge, but a bit more heavenly, especially with a bit more epic-doom type soaring vocals and loftier guitars. The gears are greased bloodier still with higher guitar distortions, but just as plentiful bass. Windhand adds a nice juxtaposition with the heavy and fizzled popping guitar distortions. –Bryer Wharton 

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Venefixion

Venefixion
Defixio

Iron Bonehead
Street: 10.02
Venefixion = Autopsy + Vomitor + Sarcófago

From the land of the demos comes this nice debut from Germany-by-way-of-Australia three-piece Venefixion. I always say about demo material: The more the listener is left wanting more, the better the demo is. The four tracks here go by in fury and fire, and the desire for more is above and beyond. It’s got all the best bits of extreme metal metal—thrash, death and black. Combine riff after riff of stuff that is intricately played and highly dynamic with a raw but clearer production tone, and that is why you’ll be wanting more. Slower tremolo riffs bring up all the good stuff from black/thrash that really doesn’t exist much today. Within that gritty, gut-boiling riffing comes the nasty, foul stench/tone that made Autopsy famous. It’s not a new mix or style or sound—the band just puts it out there in a fantastic and catchy way. –Bryer Wharton

Dödläge
Self-titled

Wargame Records
Street: 03.17
Dödläge = Unholy Grave + Disfear + Agathocles         

It’s with a warm touch that I remove the seven-inch piece of vinyl from its package. Crust, D-beat, the ugly bastard child of punk and hardcore, is something I’ve been fond of. The first time I listened to the insane, noisy bastardization of noise from the likes of G.I.S.M. and Discharge (mostly thanks to my love of Napalm Death), I ate up the genre, and still do when I can. Portland, Oregon’s Dödläge bring the noise and everything great about D-beat crust to the forefront of their unrelenting, self-titled 7”. The hard part about standing out and making a lasting impact in the realm of being a crust band these days is the fact that there is so much of it—because the genre inspired so many bands, it’s also, possibly due to the fact that you don’t need to be a guitar/drum/vocal pro to play the raucous shit: Hence the busting-at-the-seams new scene of powerviolence bands. So, the question is: In the 10-11 minutes that the entire 7” plays out, is it memorable or forgettable?

Dödläge display a huge European style in their aggression, considering that their name is Swedish for “deadlock” or “stalemate.” But it’s also the more metallic approach to their songs that give it the more Euro feel—think a better produced Unholy Grave or Disfear. It also has some tenancies of early U.K. grindcore. If you told somebody that “Expendable Population” was an unreleased Napalm Death track, they might believe you. The vocal approach to the whole EP is a mix of gruff grunts and higher-pitched scowls, and backing the tempo is some heavily skilled drumming. That drumming hits hardest with this self-titled release. The guitar reverb and and noisy tinkering take good effect and make things more noisy and ear-drilling: “No Sacred Ground” is a good example. All through listening, I think to myself that this is cool, but shit, is it going to stick? Do I want to repeatedly listen to it, or is is another rip-off/clone? It’s not really a rip-off so much as it is a band that is well versed in the genre and it’s headliners, playing what they want to play.

I honestly am not a pro or any sort of expert on the genre at all. I really only know a lot of big names. The cool thing, however, is that this EP and the band’s first release are available at name your price on Bandcamp. So, you can definitely try and buy, and I emphasize the buy if you’re into the music in any way, shape or form. Nothing beats vinyl. My last judgment is that for me, the listen is fleeting. Once I’ve listened through, it’s done, and its repeat value isn’t high in my mind because I’d rather listen to the names of the crust, D-beat etc. genres that have stuck. Between this 7” or a 7” from Unholy Grave, you know which one I’m picking—no offense given to Dödläge. –Bryer Wharton

Dwell 
Vermin and Ashes 
Hells Headbangers
Street: 02.10
Dwell = early Anathema + The Vein + early Paradise Lost
 
With a growing trend of bands paying homage to early doom—specifically early UK doom—Denmark’s Dwell indulge in bit of that lineage but have created something that sounds completely new, and to gush: It’s perfect. Dwell comprises members of the mighty Cerekloth, including vocalist JBP as well as members of The Vein and a bunch of other great bands. The gigantic strength of Dwell is the dynamics of the band—no song sounds the same, and things never sound tedious—a difficult task for any band. At times, we have soul-crushing doom and at others we have incredible, old school death gnashing. Then there is the atmosphere—the synth work here is some of the best I’ve heard since the UK death/doom days. The mostly synth track “Become the Void” is easily one of the most amazing things I’ve heard in a while. –Bryer Wharton
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Godflesh

Decline & Fall

Avalanche Recordings

Street: 06.26

Godflesh = Head of David + Pitchshifter + (old) Ministry

Greased, oiled and tuned up, the soul-crushing machine that is Godflesh has returned in a more than triumphant way. Decline & Fall, the first new Godflesh material in 12 years, retains all those rushed and uncomfortable beats, crunching guitars and ludicrous bass tones but with a newly added crush factor. The guitar tones are tweaked, as are the bass tones—tweaked to even heavier sounds. It’s the heaviest the band has been since Pure. This ’Flesh drain soul energy in even more harsh ways than before. “Dogbite” and “Playing with Fire” are the best representations of the new influence from all those years of working on other things, but that old Godflesh spirit is still at the core of everything. With the amazing outcome of this EP, the impending doom and horror of what the upcoming full-length may offer makes my imagination dreadfully happy. –Bryer Wharton
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The Devin Townsend Project – Z2

The Devin Townsend Project
Z2
HevyDevy
Street: 10.28
The Devin Townsend Project = Ocean Machine + Strapping Young Lad + Gojira

Devin Townsend has been busy. Z2, a double album, is the second double album from the metal-prog dude this year. The first part of Z2 is a full-on DTP album. The sound traverses a hefty amount of musical territory. It’s loud at times, soft and ethereal others, and there’s a bigger emphasis on electronic elements. The DTP portion, though, seems overshadowed by the Ziltoid Part 2 disc—a continuation of a concept Devin came up with in 2007. It’s centered around an evil, “sort of good” alien, Ziltoid, who lusts after Earth’s coffee. Z2 is a nice riff on ’50s-era radio plays. The story is a blast, and its music is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Heavy, epic, silly—it’s more than massive. Z2 is another fantastic package from Townsend. Fan or not, this achievement is some of the best music he’s created in the last few years. –Bryer Wharton

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