Napalm Flesh: Exclusive Metal Reviews

Posted May 10, 2012 in

Welcome to Napalm Flesh! This week we have a slew of reviews for you, including the new 7”s from Burning Love and DNF, a quartet of reissues from Opeth, new albums from Cancer Bats, Superchrist, Tanhi, Witchaven and Wolfbrigade, as well as the mighty new offerings from Cattle Decapitation, Ufomammut and Worm Ouroboros. We also have this week’s rundown of events so you can plan your metal intake accordingly. Stay tuned next week for an interview with Schmier of Destruction!

Event Listings
compiled by Bryer Wharton

On Friday, May 11, Burt's Tiki Lounge (21+) hosts local stalwarts Thunderfist with Top Dead Celebrity and the Screaming Condors. $6 gets you in the door tunes underway around 9 p.m.

Follow up your ass kicking Friday night at Burt's Tiki Lounge (21+) on Saturday May 12 with Salt Lake's Eagle Twin and INVDRS. $5 gets you in the door, music at 9 p.m.

Also Saturday, long standing death metal crew Beyond this Flesh say goodbye with their final show at Bar Deluxe (21+) with Castleaxe and Odium Totus. $5 gets you in the door, music around 9 p.m.

If you happen to be a bit north of Salt Lake City on Saturday, Bountiful has Reveeler and Osiris playing at the Fifth (21+). $3 gets you in, music at around 9 p.m.

Monday, May 14, get your death metal fix with Origin headlining In The Venue with Cattle Decapitation, Decrepit Birth, Aborted, Rings of Saturn and Battlecross for an all ages show. Tickets are $16 in advance and $18 the day of the show, doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday May 17, Koala Combat headlines at Burt's (21+) with Burn Your World and Hypernovat Holocaust. $5 gets you in the door music at 9 p.m.

Also Thursday in O-Town Artists for Local Agriculture or AFLA host a benefit at the Basement with Loom, Cedars, Gunfight Fever and Merlin’s Beard. The show is all ages. $10 gets you in with music starting at 6:30 p.m.

Exclusive Reviews

Burning Love
Black Widow 7”
High Anxiety/No Idea
Street: 05.08
Burning Love = Cursed + Black Breath + Doomriders
Unlike most of their neo-crust brethren, Burning Love delve into the waters of d-beat with a shitload of rock n’ roll swagger—and that is definitely a good thing. This two-track 7” is a teaser for the band’s upcoming LP Rotten Thing to Say, being released this summer by Southern Lord. “Karla” is a mid-tempo stomper, combining the riffage of Louisville sludgers like Coliseum with the attitude and danger of The Stooges, all topped by Chris Colohan’s trademark snarls and growls. It doesn’t hit as hard as “Miserable Sound” or “Alien vs. Creditor” from the band’s first album, but it does make me excited to hear the rest of the new album. An exclusive cover of the Laughing Hyenas’ “Love is My Only Crime” ends the 7”, and it is fucking awesome. There’s jagged weirdness and a killer drumbeat driving this one along, bringing Burning Love’s sound into new territory. Grab this one and get ready for the ear-feast that Rotten Thing to Say is sure to be. –Ricky Vigil

Cancer Bats
Dead Set On Living
Hassle Records
Street: 04.16
Cancer Bats= Gallows + The Bronx
Honestly, I’m having trouble turning this record off. Canadian hardcore punks Cancer Bats return with a deliciously well-written album, and let me tell you, this record is so fucking groovy! It’s not happy, but it’s upbeat; it’s jumpy, it’s fun. And even the fucked up apocalyptic lyrics only add to that fun. I love the versatility of Liam Cormier’s vocals, jumping from throat-slashing screams to a more monotone, deep speaking voice that, against the groove, reminds me a lot of the testosterone of Scissorfight—particularly on my favorite track, “Breathe Armageddon.” I dare say the groove is southern in nature on this record with its thumping drums and howling guitars, but it’s growing from mean punk roots; check out “Old Blood” to see this hybrid at its best. The band says they wanted a non-traditional hardcore album sound this time around. Gentlemen: success is yours, and it’s fucking sweet. –Megan Kennedy

Cattle Decapitation
Monolith of Inhumanity
Metal Blade
Street: 05.08
Cattle Decapitation = Napalm Death + Dying Fetus + Circle of Dead Children
Metal's favorite veggie loving death/grind crew is back with the follow-up to 2009's  monster album The Harvest Floor. Even though Cattle Decapitation is currently a four-piece, Monolith of Inhumanity plays out like the band actually has a few more guitarists. Expect to find a hell of a lot of layered guitar sounds working on this apocalyptic, anthemic record. Since the inception of Cattle Decapitation, the band has been a great example of how musicians get better with time, and with success comes the ability to beef up production values. Knob tweaker Dave Otero took some great performances here and helped make them sound even greater. “Dead Set on Suicide,” reeks of classic Napalm Death style grinding with a whole heap of added guitar technicalities one doesn't often look to grind for blistering solos or excessive lead work but the band pulls it off and then some with Monolith of Inhumanity. Vocalist Travis Ryan seems to channel the mighty Barney Greenway at times with his mechanized, guttural style and higher screeched screams. The grind blasting and groove shifts on Monolith of Inhumanity make some of Dying Fetus' breakdowns look pretty sli—see “Forced Gender Reassignment,” or “Lifestalker.” This new offering is easily the most accessible Cattle Decapitation record for grind fiends or death metal jaw-droppers. These eleven songs beckon listeners to explore and explore again and offer some metallic goodies that sound like nothing else on the scene currently. -Bryer Wharton

High Anxiety/No Idea
Street: 04.17
DNF = Full of Hell + Young and In the Way + Ampere
Now that we’re calling all this stuff “extreme” music, where do we go from here? Well, if DNF and bands of their ilk have anything to say about, we should throw all that shit in a blender and scream at it as a cavalcade of genres are pureed into brutally delicious goop. That was cheesy, but you get my point—DNF combines elements of crust, hardcore, doom and grind into a pummeling style. This eight-song EP opens with “Hurt,” which bears more than a passing resemblance to Full of Hell’s “The White Mare,” as the band’s vocalist screams over the shriek of guitar feedback before it explodes into a blast-beat filled ass-kicker. The band’s greatest strength is their ability to switch in between breakneck speed and slow, glacial heaviness. And when they’re playing fast… holy fuck—check out “Most/Few” and “Waste” if you need your heart rate to jump up by several dozen beats per minute. Oh yeah, and the band features members of Trash Talk and Touche Amore, but this 7” is great enough that no namedropping is necessary. Stream it here, then buy it from No Idea for the low, low price of 3.75. –Ricky Vigil

Blackwater Park/Damnation/Deliverance/Lamentations reissue
The End Records
Street: 04.16
Opeth =  Yes + Rush + Opeth
Thanks to The End Records’ recent acquisition of the Music For Nations catalogue, prog metal deities Opeth have reissued some of their greatest albums: Deliverance, Damnation, Blackwater Park, as well as the live DVD Lamentations. While the recordings themselves aren’t changed, there are some delicious additions, in particular the “Casebound Legacy Edition” of my favorite album, Blackwater Park, which includes a full-color 28 page booklet of lyrics, photos and some wonderful memories from Mikael about the band during this album’s era. They also threw on a live recording of “The Leper Affinity”, which is delightful. DVD Lamentations is amazing to watch—even though Opeth’s live performance not be a beer and brawl fest, it is as uniquely hypnotizing as their music. Included is a 2-disc audio set of the live recording, so you can take the feel of the crowd with you, which some folks enjoy. The DVD also featured a documentary on the making of albums Damnation and Deliverance, two albums recorded together with intention to release as a double, juxtaposing the band’s heaviest work (Deliverance) with its transition into more progressive territory (Damnation). It’s an interesting watch if you are truly curious about how this band makes their music and these special albums in particular, but the average fan might find the laid-back and detailed studio work a bit on the yawner side—It’s not like these guys are doing blow with midget hookers in between cuts. Both reissues of Damnation and Deliverance don’t include any new material, sadly, but I would absolutely agree that the fancy new Blackwater Park is worth having for the gorgeous art booklet. Lamentations is a worthy purchase if you haven’t got it already, or if you really enjoy music documentaries. –Megan Kennedy

Holy Shit
Hells Headbangers
Street: 05.22
Superchrist = Motorhead + Dawnbringer + Tank
A little Motorhead worship goes a long way. Add the fact that Superchrist is a flat out awesome band name and the badassery just compounds on itself. Bassist/vocalist Chris Black has some fantastic bands to his credit currently part of Dawnbringer (new album on the horizon), Pharaoh (who just released the fantastic Bury the Light album), High Spirits and work with Nachtmystium—that information in itself is a huge indication of the talent of Superchrist. Holy Shit is thirty minutes of classic inspired metal and a nice departure from the usual black metal that Hells Headbangers is responsible for unleashing upon the metal hordes. The direction with this record is straightforward, as there’s no reinvention of the wheel—just rocking and rocking on top of rocking. “Black Thunder,” released as a single for good reason, satisfies every metalhead’s fancy, especially in the current climate of old school style being new. I've never been one for insisting upon labels so screw putting a specific genre tag on this bastard—it's just fucking heavy metal and it's a gargantuan bustling riff fest of cool as ice guitar riffs peppered with fat bass-lines. “Don't Wanna Know,” and, appropriately, “Beer Metal” flows the kick ass—like beer at any Euro metal fest. The proof in the pudding for Superchrist is the fact that you don't have to sound like something completely new to be killer you just have to have the ability to write great songs. The bass lines in “Sewer Snake” are enough to make Lemmy drool. This one is worth the small amount of time it takes to listen and well worth all the repeated spins you can muster. –Bryer Wharton

Prophecy Productions
Street: 11.25.11
Tenhi = Of the Wand and the Moon + Fejd
Rowing slowly through a dark sea of meditative melodies with soft, reflective voices haunting every stroke of the oars, Saivo might well be remembered as one of the great neofolk albums of the past decade. Tenhi takes the genre in a direction that reflects the traditional folk sound with its simple expressiveness, while incorporating a mild jazz influence that complicates their rhythms and adds emotional depth to their melodies. There's something truly special about the reflective warmth of this album, never delving deep enough into despair to seem self-indulgent, with vocals half-muttered in Finnish sounding like the bitter reminiscence of an aged seafarer. Other voices occasionally join in, like shipmates calling out the baleful rhythm of oars striking water in the midst of a fog-haunted sea. Songs swell with strings, pianos, and deep drums that drift closer and closer until the crescendo breaks, and then the ephemeral ensemble shifts away into the rolling waves of the sea. I wouldn't go as far as to call this album epic, as it would undercut the sheer minimalist simplicity of the project, which seems both as narrow as that rowboat pushing its way through the water, and as wide and dark as the unknowable sea it travels upon. Saivo will give you chills with every song if you have the patience to lose yourself in the beauty of its sonic landscape. –Henry Glasheen

Oro: Opus Primum
Street: 04.17
Ufomammut = Electric Wizard + Isis + Neurosis
Nothing about Italy's doom/psychedelic trio Ufomammut is ordinary or run-of-the-mill. Oro: Opus Primum is part one in a two part album—by the end of the record you really are left wanting that second part, Opus Alter, coming in September. Compared to some of the band’s prior work, Oro definitely feels like unfinished business, and seems very fractional when compared to 2010's Eve album. Album opener “Empireum” sets the tone of a meandering feeling that continues throughout the record and with Ufomammut it's all about that tone or “vibe.” While the second track, “Aurem,” is more complete than the album opener, it still has an open end, like a book not fully shut. However, juxtaposed next to the humble beginning track, the riffs pouring out of the “Aurem” are earth leveling and close to a dreadfully slow stop. The first two tracks aren't the entire album but the themes repeat, from slow-dirge guitar, heavy washes, crescendo building and crashing riffs to more atmospheric, electronic-doused ambient fair—it all balances well for something that is meant to be heard as one cohesive piece of music. By the time it's done and you've been super patient, the whole album will be your favorite track. -Bryer Wharton

Street: 03.06.10
Witchaven = Darkthrone + Aura Noir + Venom
With politically charged lyrics and swift, aggressive guitars, Witchaven most often leans on the thrash end of the black thrash spectrum. Their solos have that wild, raucous Slayer sound, combined with the ruthless black dissonance of Darkthrone—really straightforward, but powerful stuff. Terrorstorm isn't exactly breaking new ground, but Witchaven still manage to write extremely catchy riffs, with vicious-sounding tracks you'll want to listen to again and again. “Absolute Profit” and “Ardent Lust” rank as two of my favorite cuts from this album, with angular start-stop guitars and fast, dynamic drumming. “Empty Chasm” and “Unholy Copulation” begin with distinctly black metal style before shifting to the band's thrashy side. Witchaven have taken every element of black thrash to its logical extreme on this album, and though it's nothing terribly innovative, their sound is extreme and unique enough to stand as a fine example of the genre. –Henry Glasheen
Southern Lord
Street: 04.24
Wolfbrigade = Disfear + Avskum
Crusties ain't a discerning bunch. Throw a "dis" on the moniker, a Motörhead riff somewhere in the tumult and say "hey dorks, this band's from Sweden" and they'll come running in a studded, smelly swarm. That's not sayin' Wolfbrigade, formed in 1995 and backing their eighth full length, don't have some serious chops...but cautionary whiffs suggest the formula might be running a bit stale in 2012. Damned sports all the calling cards the wolfpack's carved in releases past, relentless clattering, D-beats and burl, and deviations are painfully scarce (the primal concrete groove on "The Curse of Cain," the moody atmospherics on "Ride the Steel" and the occasional swedeath flourish shouldn't be discounted though. Quality stuff). I can't diss 'em for playing to their strengths, but I will for not playing live...and in a new landscape of upstart young guns playing punk-gone-metal, (Trap Them? Inepsy? Black Breath?) Damned might be second tier (albeit competent) material at best. -Dylan Chadwick

Worm Ouroboros
Come the Thaw
Profound Lore
Street: 03.09
Worm Ouroboros = Lycia + Asunder + The Gault
Worm Ouroboros floored me with their beautiful self-titled release in 2010, and with Come the Thaw, they’ve driven me through said floor. The music is mesmerizing, and the sweeping dual vocals of Lorraine Rath and Jessica Wray take me back to the glory days of the 4AD record label. With heavily-delayed clean guitars and minimal, almost tribal, drumming, Come the Thaw seeps into your mind and causes it to wander to places you’ve most likely never thought of. This is a release that requires one’s attention, and it is imperative to begin and end the album with no breaks from the listener, at least the first time around. This should make several top 10 lists for 2012, and deservedly so. Headphones are suggested. –Gavin Hoffman