Unspeakable Axe Records
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.
Pantheon of Blood
Eldritch Lunar Miasma
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
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 = 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
Decline & Fall
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