Author: Bryer Wharton

Emigrate – Silent So Long

Emigrate
Silent So Long
Spinefarm
Street: 10.21
Emigrate = Nine Inch Nails + Rammstein + Stabbing Westward

Being a Rammstein fanboy, I was excited to hear the first output from Rammstein guitarist Richard Kruspe, released in 2007. I enjoyed the record—it was catchy and had a Rammstein bite to it, except it was sung in English. Being just a bit too similar was also a bit of a flaw for the album, however. With Rammstein on hiatus, Kruspe has returned and offers a hugely dynamic album—not only separating itself from its predecessor, but further separating from the Rammstein style. The songs are still catchy, but they carry their own styles with them, with good heaps of different guitar styles from Kruspe. The record showcases some guest vocalists—Peaches, Jonathan Davis, Frank Delle and the mighty Lemmy, who handles vocal duties on one of the album’s best tracks, “Rock City.” Silent So Long is a damn-good modern rock offering for any listener of any musical tastes. –Bryer Wharton

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Ass to Mouth
Degenerate
Selfmadegod Records
Street: 02.19
Ass to Mouth = Squash Bowels + Toxic Bonkers + mid-’90s era Napalm Death
I love the smell of fresh grindcore in the morning. This Polish band delivers some nice tongue-in-cheek grind goodness on their second full-length and first (one could argue) on a bigger label—the always grinding Selfmadegod. The album flies by like a bullet licking your eyeball. The only real thing that breaks through the band’s ludicrous speed is movie samples from Nic Cage and some other song-related blurbs. Ass to Mouth take the groove-oriented grind approach, which is nice to have some tight riffs that remain in memory. “Sentenced to Grind” and “Drunk & Stoned” give the goods by way of meat-falling-off-the-bone riffs. “Brainless Retards” and “You have 0 Friends” take it up a notch on the BAM! Looking for some punk/hardcore/thrash-punching grind? Better take on that Ass to Mouth action. –Bryer Wharton
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The Creature From Jekyll Island
Self-Titled
Self-Released
Street: 03.07
The Creature From Jekyll Island = Mindless Self Indulgence + Abney Park + Depeche Mode
 
TCFJI conquer and conjure a hell of a lot of musical goodness on their debut record. It’s highly difficult to properly describe and entirely critique what this SLC steampunk/industrial rock band does. TCFJI are fantastic at creating songs that folks can not only dance to, but also rock out to. “Pepsi Christ,” “Obamanomicon” and “Demand and Supply” are aggressive, rocking tunes, tricking the mind with humorous, dark ideas. It’s all Jekyll and no Hyde here—crafty synth programming and beats mixed with a hefty amount of rocking and aggressiveness. Then, almost swoon-like vocals spice up the imagination and make the experience not only aural, but visual, too. With that imagery in mind, TCFJI are known for putting on some gnarly, visually exotic live shows. So step on up and take “the ‘Pepsi Christ’ challenge!” –Bryer Wharton
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Shitfucker
Suck Cocks in Hell
Hells Headbangers
Street: 10.31
Shitfucker = Motörhead + Sodom + Midnight
So they say: What’s in a name (or even an album title)? All the profanities and vulgarities aside, and belligerent and unabashed as Shitfucker’s tunes are, they’re not quite as vulgar as the eye-catching band name and vulgar album title suggest. Take the “fuck you” attitude of punk and other metal spawns, toss in some booze fuel, broken bones and black-as-night bruises, and you have an idea of Shitfucker. Great, crusty riffs are plentiful here, as well as smacking bass lines, all of it more punk than shiny metal stuff. This means that you’re not going to find a bunch of damn guitar noodling solos here. Imagine some dirty science lab spliced the DNA of Lemmy and Tom Angelripper with little Damien from The Omen, started a band and called it none other than Shitfucker. –Bryer Wharton
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Bone Sickness
Alone in the Grave
20 Buck Spin
Street: 04.30
Bone Sickness = Autopsy + Repulsion + Napalm Death
Continuing to farm out all the best metal bands from the Northwest, 20 Buck Spin lets the voices of Olympia, Wash. flow from the fine mountain water brimming in the city’s creeks. Bring an extra pair of pants to this listening party, folks—you’re gonna need something to wrap your balls in after this debut album from Bone Sickness hits like a slamming scissor kick to the nuts. My crystal ball says Bone Sickness are going to be big. Their death/grind is decisively classic-sounding without being retro. The recording quality makes it sound like these nice fellows are playing a show in your living room. This is the ghost of the long-aborted fetus of Autopsy and Repulsion’s lovechild. If the gooey musical ooze of all this isn’t quite enough, the cover art belongs in a damn museum.

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Grave

Grave – Out Of Respect For The Dead

Grave
Out Of Respect For The Dead

Century Media
Street: 10.16
Grave = Entombed (old) + Dismember + Unleashed

Grave have stayed mostly consistent in putting out grizzled, buzz-saw-guitar toned, low-end death metal albums, give or take a few. The best thing about Out Of Respect For The Dead is that it sounds like it could have been the followup to ’91’s Into the Grave. The production, powerful riffing and blissfully dynamic songwriting that all yell old-school rotting death metal is here. It’s serious riffing and songs that will stick to your skull like there is a nail driven through it, such as “Plain Pine Box” and “Flesh Before My Eyes.” The drum tone is the least diverse performance on the record, though it’s meant to be—it has that raw, organic sound that keeps Grave 2015 sounding like classic Grave. “Redeemed Through Hate” grabs the listener and never lets go. This is the best of the new-era Grave with Ola Lindgren further proving he’s one of the masters of death metal. –Bryer Wharton

Winterlore
Self-titled

Slaughterhouse Records
Street: 04.29
Winterlore = Windir + Enslaved + Emperor

I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to the latest from this Salt Lake City black metal foursome. While the six tracks from the self-titled record may not stick in my head, they are great black metal listening. With the almost two week’s time I’ve had the record and played it, there is a reason the songs don’t stick. It’s just one of those albums you can’t fully absorb quickly, which is a great thing for any album to have (for me, at least). It means that repeated listening is a must. I’ll listen and then listen again, finding things I didn’t notice before.

The black metal style of Winterlore is far from the typical American style, which, at the moment, is a good thing, because most American black metal bands are spinning it by adding extra genres into the mix. When I listen to Winterlore, I think of Sweden or some other Scandinavian country. Much of the songs are midtempo, though not for lack of songs with blazing, faster material, either. The first track, “…In the Frozen Forest,” starts out fast as hell, and “Marching Hordes on Warpath’s Old” is definitely a high-speed listen. There is a magnificent scope and an almost epic dynamic to the album—something broad and amazing. I try to come up with comparisons, and other than the band equation, nothing much comes up. Winterlore’s first album, Four Swords Against the Pious, used many other elements than the guitar/bass/drums/vox, including a jaw-harp, but here, the extra elements are minimal. There is some flute use, but the chanting vocals on this new release add that grandiose, “Listen to me again and again” element.

Pretty much every time I play this album, I go back and listen again, as band members move to and from the band. Since its inception six years ago, Winterlore have played few live shows: Winterlore’s future is unknown, and this adds to the band’s mystique, especially for a local scene that does a lot to support its bands by seeing them live. The album’s last track, its title track, feels like a somber goodbye. It’s also one of the greatest, most brain-widening, eye-opening and beautiful songs on the album. With all I’ve said here, I hope that this record is not a goodbye. In time, I may absorb what Winterlore are doing with this album, but I’ll still want to listen to it. It’s most lasting quality is the sense it imparts that you will want to go take its journey again. I know that even years from now, Winterlore will creep its way into my listening rotation. –Bryer Wharton

God Dethroned
World Ablaze

Metal Blade
Street: 05.05
God Dethroned = Hail of Bullets + Unleashed + Necrophobic

I remember coming across this Dutch death/blackened death metal band as a teen listening to the old Metal Blade Records compilation CDs. The featured God Dethroned songs stirred up my interest enough to pick up whatever GD album I could grab. I continued to listen to albums that came my way over time. World Ablaze is the band’s first new suite of music in eight years. With my unquenchable thirst to discover different and exciting bands, I often forget about the stalwarts. God Dethroned have a solid discography, and World Ablaze does not disappoint as the new addition to the Dutch death metal crushers’ long history.

World Ablaze is the third album in a trilogy of World War I–themed records, following Passiondale (Passchendaele) and Under the Sign of the Iron Cross. The Dutch extreme music scene is in need of a new band to carry its banner—with Bolt Thrower gone, the throne is vacant. With Passchendaele, it seemed like a new, brutal speed and raw, intensity-driven style reminiscent of the first couple albums from God Dethroned, come anew. It should be intense if the subject matter is World War I. Those records rip and rip some more. World Ablaze offers that same intensity but with some different dynamics. The listener definitely gets the feeling that the trilogy is coming to a close. Imagery from the title track, the instrumental “Königsberg” and album closer “The 11th Hour” allow us to survey the destruction of the war. The songs are slower, more dissonant, grimy and have a disturbed edge. Dynamics are their focus over ultimately crushing riffs and speed. God Dethroned present and wrote those songs with the same caliber of excellence, but in different ways. The fantastic “On the Wrong Side of the Wire” bridges that gap of dissonant and blasting riffs. “Close to Victory” offers some terrifying, crunching riffs.

The raw intensity from the past two albums in the trilogy remains, but some familiar territory mixed with new comes with World Ablaze. It’s a bit of renewal of some of the band’s mid-period records that featured a good chunk of melodic guitar work. The band’s main force, guitarist and vocalist Henri Sattler—who has kept God Dethroned going despite breakups over 26 years—demands attention with his gravelly, growling death vocals and guitar chops. That said, the melodic work doesn’t feel like God Dethroned are revisiting their more melodic era. The style and way it works together with the intensity of the heavy portions of the songs—such as with the absolutely devastating “Close to Victory”—punches along, and out of nowhere, a melodic break hits and doesn’t feel at all out of place. The songwriting is something to applaud loudly on World Ablaze. It’s easy to write a batch of heavy, riff-oriented songs, but applying those other touches and elements makes them stand out and leaves listeners coming back to divulge in each and every track. I say this despite much of my personal taste these days, a love for ridiculously and incessantly heavy music that is fully dominated by riffs and not a lot of dynamics. The records that I find myself returning to are the ones that offer more than that overbearing and sometimes ridiculous “brutal-ness.” My biggest complaint is that the production doesn’t seem to match the other two albums; its volume seems slightly subdued, and more importantly, the raw edge that those other records have feels muddled more than often on World Ablaze. It’s a small complaint and easily forgotten when you just listen to the album standing alone and leave the trilogy comparisons out. –Bryer Wharton

Amigo the Devil | Everything is Fine | Regime Music Group

Amigo the Devil
Everything is Fine

Regime Music Group
Street: 10.19
Amigo the Devil = John Prine + Hank Ill + Murder City Devils

Why is it that you develop some special relationship with an artist that you have followed since the start of their career? At times, the “old school” fan might even feel a little defensive of their “fandom” over a “newbie.” But that’s really all semantics for fans. Amigo the Devil—aka solo artist Danny Kiranos—had made a trip to The Heavy Metal Shop and dropped off some mercy and CDs. It was around the time when the artist had their first two EPs out—Manimals and Diggers. Soon after, Amigo the Devil came to The Heavy Metal Shop for an in-store performance. I first interviewed Krianos in 2014 for the zine I put out, Burning Salts Mag, and then in 2015 I arranged to do another for SLUG and the rest is history. Now, we’re super close friends—yep, I’m special, at least that’s how I feel.

In reality, it’s the intimacy of seeing Amigo the Devil perform live and just chatting with him for a few minutes after the gig that gets to me. Kiranos’ honesty and sincerity translates into Amigo the Devil’s music in heavy and lighthearted ways. Amigo’s last EP, Decompositions, features a trio of tunes ranging from a romantic track, “Hell and You,” that was re-recorded for this new full-length, a funny and sarcastic track called “One Kind of People” and, finally, “For a few good men,” a dark song to what I understand is about a man contemplating suicide. That song draws strong parallels to Everything is Fine—especially within the first track. While “For a few good men,” has a lyrical portion that says “Change won’t change a thing,” the track “Cocaine and Abel” talks about the desire to become a better man than in the past “because change is alright.”

It’s that strong juxtaposition that Everything is Fine starts out with that is also a huge statement about just how renewed and rebirthed Amigo the Devil is with his first full-length album and where the heart of the songwriter lies. The rest of the album is an assortment of folk/rock/country/punk songs that are a far cry from one of the first songs Amigo the Devil ever made, like “Perfect Wife”—a dark, comedic banjo ditty.

The banjo playing became a part of ATD’s identity and is still around on the new album, but less prevalent. “If I’m Crazy” has some intense electric guitar and pounding drums, followed by the equally intense “You’re Perfect Too,” a multi-instrumented song complete with some horns. “Everyone Gets Left Behind” is a punk rock tune I could honestly see getting played on the radio as an indie break-out hit. It’s just a fun, rocking, sing-along song. Other tracks are part country, part rock and some are intensely dark ballads. 

While Everything is Fine does mark not only a vast musical branching out for ATD, there are also changes in lyrical direction, but it’s nowhere near unfamiliar for the artist. I’ve always felt that smaller EP releases were teases or tastes when done successfully. Amigo the Devil may be selling out smaller venues while on tour in the last couple years and Everything is Fine feels like it can open all kinds of doors for the solo act. I didn’t understand the choice for the full-length, but after the listenings, I get it—and I’m probably never going to say, “I’m fine” again. –Bryer Wharton

Napalm Death 
Apex Predator – Easy Meat 
Century Media
Street: 01.27
Napalm Death = Repulsion + Bolt Thrower + Unseen Terror 
 
Hold on to your butts—anytime there’s a new Napalm Death record, the earth spins on its axis a few extra times. Apex Predator continues what the band has been doing on their last few records, but the songwriting here is probably as tight as it’s ever been. Napalm Death want you to hear every bit and piece of what they’re doing, and the production lends itself perfectly to that. The big difference with this album compared to the past is the riffs and, yes, groove. It’s not Napalm Death going back to their groove era, though. The crunchy riffs go hand in hand with the mass chaos going on in the background, and it all builds, creating a lot of memorable songs. “How the Years Condemn,” the let’s-not-be-grind “Dear Slum Landlord,” and the particularly nasty “Beyond the Pale” are just tidbits of the waste-laying of the Apex. –Bryer Wharton 
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