Author: Gavin Hoffman

Mental Machination Musing and Hic Omnia Ur-Aizib
Red Light Sounds
Street: 11.01.12
MB = Nurse With Wound + Cycles Per Second + Cheapmachines
I’ve always been on the fence regarding musicians/artists who mesh noise with dark ambient or soundscape-type material: Sometimes I absolutely adore it, and sometimes I simply throw the physical copy in the garbage. MB is undoubtedly of the former grouping. Mind you, I am reviewing two separate releases—Mental Machination Musing and Hic Omnia Ur-Aizib—though I am treating both as one. The Hic Omnia release is the more primitive sounding of the two, but both releases are amazingly droned-out and spacey without ever reaching the point of being boringly repetitive or overtly harsh. Brought to you by Salt Lake’s own Red Light Sounds, MB is an artist worthy of your support if you are a dark ambient or noise aficionado, even if you aren’t of that mentality currently, these releases are excellent ways to set you on that path.  -Gavin Hoffman  

The National
Trouble Will Find Me
Beggars Banquet
Street: 05.21
The National = Bob Dylan + Frightened Rabbit + Death Cab for Cutie
Disclaimer: I really wanted to like this release. Second disclaimer: I fucking loathed it. After being turned on to the overly dreary and somewhat whiny likes of The National shortly after they released the album Alligator, they became—over the course of two albums—one of my favorite bands. Then they released the painfully boring and self-serving High Violet in 2010, and for all intents and purposes, I wrote them off. But, when given the chance to review their latest angst-ridden offering, Trouble Will Find Me, I figured I’d give them another chance. Fuck, one of the worst mistakes I’ve ever made. While early material from The National was almost comically pretentious and seemed like the kind of music twenty-somethings who refer to themselves as "cutters" would absolutely adore, they at least had charm and wrote catchy, almost perversely fun music. With Trouble Will Find Me, however, the band’s pretentiousness takes center stage, and it’s embarrassingly apparent how in love with themselves they are. I wish I could have that hour of my life back. -Gavin Hoffman 

Dead Can Dance

In Concert
PIAS America
Street: 04.16
Dead Can Dance = This Mortal Coil + Cocteau Twins + Chelsea Wolfe
If you have ever heard Dead Can Dance, then it should be obvious that my "equation" does them no justice. These genre-crossing pioneers of folk-influenced "mood" music have wisely released In Concert, which somewhat summarizes the band’s globetrotting tour, only scratches the surface of what they have to offer. It’s an excellent starting point for anyone who has interest in the band, and it’s a more-than-worthwhile catch for those who have been following them since their inception, and who hang on vocalist Lisa Gerrard’s every breathy, beautiful, haunting note. The compositions featured on this release are mainly from the band’s 2012 release, Anastasis, but they have included some often-overlooked gems on the album as well. Put simply, this is a must-own release. –Gavin Hoffman


Eternal Warfare
Street: 10.11.12
Hell = Leviathan + Ahab + Evoken
I’d heard of the one-man doom cult Hell at different points over the past few years, but I was never sufficiently interested to actually give the band a listen. After digesting III, I’m unsure if this was a good or a bad decision. Multi-instrumentalist M.S.W. is a more-than-proficient songwriter, and the tones from all instruments on this album are masterful, but there is something about this release that just doesn’t work. Aside from the unnecessary Napalm Records-ish female vocals scattered throughout, there isn’t one specific thing that I can put my finger on that ruins the release. In fact, I believe with multiple listens, it will become at the very least a sporadic spin in my collection, but as of this writing, III is simply not something I can get overly excited about. Maybe time and a more open mind will sway my opinion, but until then, there are far better bands of this ilk that deserve your attention.  –Gavin Hoffman 

Split 7”
Hells Headbangers
Street: 06.26
Nunslaughter = Midnight + Nifelheim + Nekrofilth
Antiseen = The Murder Junkies + Motörhead + Speedwolf
After my initial thought of “What the fuck?” regarding Nunslaughter and Antiseen releasing a split 7”, I immediately realized how much sense it actually makes. Nunslaughter is one of my personal favorite bands, and pairing their sleazy brand of death metal with the sheer nihilism and grime that is the punk outfit Antiseen is absolutely brilliant. Of course, Antiseen is probably one of the only bands that Nunslaughter haven’t already done a split of some sort with. Regardless, the two Antiseen tracks on this beautifully grotesque slab are pure, filth-ridden, up-tempo punk rock, and they complement the fly-blown death metal of Nunslaughter perfectly. While neither band is doing anything new—for themselves or for their respective genres—they are two of the best at what they do. –Gavin Hoffman


Dead in the Dirt
The Blind Hole
Southern Lord 
Street Date: 08.06
Dead in the Dirt = Nails + Dropdead + Rorschach

For all the absolute garbage being released by Southern Lord these days, if one chooses to sift through it, they’ll find somewhat unlikely treasure. Case in point, Atlanta’s Dead in the Dirt and their debut full length, The Blind Hole. This is one of the most angry and downright filthy releases I’ve heard in many moons, managing to stuff 22 songs into roughly 20 minutes. From beginning to end, Dead in the Dirt scarcely give the listener a chance to breathe, and the high- and low-end vocal swap almost makes one feel as if they’re in the middle of a deranged “good cop/bad cop” grilling, but it’s a grilling you want to continue for as long as possible. In short, this is a motherfucker of a release, and it belongs in your collection. –Gavin Hoffman

The Devil’s Congeries, Vol. 1
Hell’s Headbangers
Street Date: 07.23
Nunslaughter = Blasphemy + Nekrofilth + Schnauzer

Ah, Nunslaughter—my favorite “collector’s-fucking-nightmare” devil metal band. To the uninformed, these Pittsburgh natives (now residing in Cleveland) play absolutely filthy, blasphemous metal, and they have more releases than there are shitty “reality” television shows about people I don’t give a fat fuck about. The Devil’s Congeries is the first of a planned series of releases which will collect all of the band’s 7” and split releases. Being a two-disc set, the first is a collection of tracks from splits and from the band’s own 7”s, and the second is comprised of live tracks from Nunslaughter’s infamous “Hell On…” live series. While only crucial for collector dorks such as myself, this is a great introduction to Nunslaughter for those who have either never heard them or have only been exposed to small amounts. Exquisitely brutal stuff. –Gavin Hoffman
Void Meditation Cult/Sperm of Antichrist
Sulfurous Prayers of Blight and Darkness
Hell’s Headbangers
Street Date: 06.05
Void Meditation Cult/Sperm of Antichrist = Bestial Mockery + Beherit + Cultes des Ghoules
It’s releases such as this that make me wish I could submit a review that simply states: “Buy this album. Now.” What essentially amounts to a split release by the same band (Void Meditation Cult was previously called Sperm of Antichrist), the first side of Sulfurous Prayers of Blight and Darkness is Void Meditation Cult and the second side is Sperm of Antichrist—confused yet? Regardless, this release is everything I love about black metal—it’s extremely raw, dark, cold and unrelenting. The instruments swirl together with the vocals to create a single sonic mass, and the dissonant guitars and straight-forward drumming simply ooze evil. For anyone who has been displeased by the current lull in decent black metal releases, this may be exactly what you’ve been waiting for. –Gavin Hoffman