Botanist - I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose from the Dead (tUMULt, 2011)

I’m entirely enamored of the hammered dulcimer. The instrument sounds like the mutant offspring of a piano, harpsichord and harp.  Botanist employs the instrument’s powers for evil; it’s a refreshing and ingenious idea.  The band crafts twisted black metal in which the hammered dulcimer replaces guitars altogether.  The results exceed all possible expectations. Botanist’s ambitions, however, don’t end with this sonic switcheroo; the music is augmented with a vicious, verdant lyrical narrative.

Botanist doesn't possess any of the somnambulant torpor of the “world” and “new age” music that usually features the hammered dulcimer; these are fucking sinister compositions.  Botanist is the brain child and product of one enigmatic man bearing the pseudonym Otrebor.  He accompanies these manic orchestrations with well trained beats and blasts, overlaying it all with a crepitating croak.

The most stunning aspect of these songs are the riffs.  Each track is filled with distinctive and memorable musical phrases that ebb and flow with sonic tension. Creeping, chromatic formations battle with abject dissonance and fascinating harmony.  Vibes of victory, loss and sorrow take to life, enveloping the listener in a sylvan cocoon. The hammered dulcimer is produced with perfect clarity, making excellent use of the stereo field to transmit its staccato tintinnabulations.

Otrebor's drumming prowess imbues the hammered dulcimer with a particular vehemence.  The peculiar synergy of blastbeats and hammered strings radically rethinks black metal's tremolo picked  raison d'être.  Botanist unmoors a staggering raft of rhythms; I'm repeatedly inclined to bang my head to this music.

Tossing orthodoxy to the wind, Botanist ably embodies black metal's chaotic ethos.  Otrebor's saurian vocal ministrations convey only the utmost misanthropy.  Infinite care is given to the meticulous, poetic lyrics, which detail the constituents of The Botanist's Verdant Realm. The eponymous character tends his flock of  deadly flora as if they were family.  With melancholy and hatred, our narrator eagerly awaits the annihilation of mankind.  It's unclear whether or not he'll personally participate in the impending holocaust.

Don't fear this new horizon of sound; Botanist has produced something coherent, compelling and crucial.  Botanist's music won't please all ears, but don't discount these xenomorphic anthems without due diligence and an open mind.  Do beware the gorechid.


I bought the gorgeously packaged double album from Aquarius Records.  You can stream both discs in full over at Brooklyn Vegan.


Vore - Gravehammer (Self Released, 2011)

My review of the new Vore album, Gravehammer, is posted at Metal Injection over here. Behold glorious death metal devastation.


My Year in Metal, 2011 – Ten Favorite Albums

It's time for me add to the year-end list pile.  Metal Injection has posted my ten favorite LPs of 2011 over here.  As usual, longer lists may follow in this space, including favorite EPs and concerts.  Or not.  I may have already moved into the future.


Death - November 14th, 1998 - Coney Island High, NYC

I discovered Death shortly after discovering death metal in 1993. I spun Individual Thought Patterns for many a moon, loving it like only a teenage dude could. I love it to this day. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see Death live until halfway through college, when they hit New York on tour for The Sound of Perseverance.

My recollections of the concert are spotty but poignant.  Hammerfall opened, experiencing extensive technical difficulties. Curfews meant absolutely nothing to Coney Island High, so the show was simply delayed indefinitely. It was late in the night when Chuck Schuldiner and company took the stage, and the crowd was intoxicated beyond belief. With the opening notes of “The Philosopher,” the subterranean deathtrap erupted into an absolute melée.

My clearest memories of that night are of Chuck Schuldiner’s stage banter.  He seemed proud of the beastly, visceral crowd reaction to his musical legacy, but he was also annoyed by our violence.  Chuck asked the crowd to calm down, or at the very least stop crowdsurfing into his microphone, which had smacked him repeatedly in the face.

The performance, in my mind, was legendary.  Chuck’s band of the moment was spot-on, ripping through a setlist that highlighted the latter end of Death’s catalog.  I remember particular ecstasy as Chuck and Shannon Hamm traded iconic solos in “Trapped in a Corner.”  Chuck himself was a wondrous dynamo of ease, shredding, shrieking and smiling, all executed without the least bit of effort.

The insane audience looms large in my memories of that night.  I have no idea how I managed to capture any pictures; life-threatening danger must certainly have been involved.  I do recall complete, utter and total vehemence as “Zombie Ritual” closed out the set.  The crooked smile on Chuck’s face during that bedlam is burned into my brain.

Rest in peace, Chuck.


Inquisition, Disma, Agrath – December 2nd – The Studio at Webster Hall, NYC

Black metal doesn't always translate well to a live setting.  When it does, the resulting atmosphere is rarely jubilant.  Friday night, however, had a celebratory aura.  Inquisition and Disma sport diametrically opposed sounds, but the low and slow played incredibly well against the rapid and ripping.  By the end of the evening my face hurt as much as my neck; you aren't supposed to smile so much at metal shows.

I descended into Webster Hall's basement half-way through Agrath's set.  The subterranean space was jampacked with humanity; this tremendous bill flushed all manner of folk from the woodwork.  Agrath's orthodox take on black metal was sonically pleasing if not terribly original. The outstanding rhythm section, however, whet my appetite for annihilation.

Disma are acquiring a rabid fan-base.  The band's amiable, ordinary Jersey-guy vibe is particularly endearing.  Then, of course, there's the music.  Disma's crepitating old-school death expectorations are easy to appreciate.  Excellent sound conveyed the crawling, crushing immensity of their songs especially well on this night.  The sweltering crowd ate up the set, reciprocating the pulverizing intensity with appreciative howls.  “Chasm of Oceanus” spawned a lively, communal slow motion headbang.  The entire room experienced an involuntary, synchronized catharsis; the image is blissfully burned in my mind.  During the slowest instrumental moments, Craig Pillard would crouch down on the stage with an agonized look on his face; it appeared as if he could barely contain the demons that his vocals unleash. The crowd was more than willing to devour those growling apparitions. Absolutely righteous.

This was my first taste of the live Inquisition experience.  I was braced for disappointment; I've learned to reign in overactive optimism in my old age.  The band's music is a thesis in majestic black metal mastery.  Ominous Doctrines Of The Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm is one of last year's best albums (or this year's, or both).  Would it work on stage?  Yes, it did. Bedecked in meticulous corpse paint, the band spewed victory with every outburst of absurd, astral arpeggiation.  The concise mix transmitted superb sonic fidelity; the duo produce an unbelievably huge sound.  Dagon had a gorgeous, deep and shattering guitar tone; no tinny skinny here.

The crowd erupted into an immediate and massive melee for Inquisition's set.  People seemed surprised by their own violent, rapturous reaction to the music.  I was pummeled and quickly covered from head to toe in beer; it didn't matter one bit.  Folks were crowd surfing, clutching shiny new Inquisition LP's in hand while being crushed up against the ceiling. Claws filled the air, squashing invisible oranges while simultaneously performing the venerable Suffo-chop in time to Incubus’ bludgeoning blastbeats.  It's my new favorite metal gesticulation.

Dagon's reptilian vocals have a peculiar, melodic timbre that I'd never fully appreciated.  This becomes more evident and essential on stage.  Dagon also possesses a theatrical flair that recalls Abbath of Immortal.  Yes, the comparison is all too easy, but it's apt. Having completely surpassed Immortal in quality, Inquisition are on the precipice of massive success.  Judging by our goofy grins, windmilling hair and euphoric glee, they don't have far to go.

You can check out some pictures of the show here and here.


Best Music Writing 2011

I’m very self-conscious of my writing.  I work hard at it, probably too hard.  The harder I work, the more over-the-top, absurd and overwrought my writing becomes.  Sometimes, though, a review will just fall out of my head, fully formed, stream of consciousness.  Those are probably my best pieces.  If only it were always so easy.

I was shocked, to say the least, when Da Capo Press contacted me regarding my blog.  They wanted to publish one of my concert reviews in Best Music Writing 2011.  At first I thought I was being scammed (they would be paying me after all), but this was no joke.  I had no idea what an honor it was to be so chosen, and I steadfastly refused to believe the whole thing would happen until the book was in my hands.

The book is in my hands, and on book shelves now.  I’m incredibly grateful to my wife for editing everything I write with a discerning eye, and also to Jeanne Fury for helping make the whole thing happen.  I’d also like to thank Wormrot, Defeatist, Mutant Supremacy, Psychic Limb and Curandera for helping me besmirch this book with metal.  I’m damned proud.


Sulaco - Build and Burn (Handshake Inc., 2011)

Sulaco's new album is an outstanding outburst of death-grinding madness; my review is published over at Metal Injection.  This was my first attempt to limit an album review to 250 words, in keeping with the site's new edict.  It was tough.


Gaza, Defeatist, Tiger Flowers, Don't Give a Fuck – November 12th – The Acheron, Brooklyn

The Acheron has undergone a bit of renovation since my last visit.  In addition to fixing the egregiously broken toilet, the proprietors have blown out a wall to make room for a proper soundboard.  Unfortunately, the newly asymmetrical space isn't any more visually appealing.  In fact, the change somehow makes the cramped stage look even smaller.  Half of the bands on this night eschewed said stage altogether, using it as a glorified drum riser while playing on the floor.  Thankfully, the room's audio quality appears to have been augmented by the change.  The result was a seething evening of sonic annihilation, mandatory crowd participation and a fuck-ton of fun.

Don't Give a Fuck caught me a bit off guard.  Their amalgam of melodic, post-rock riffing and percussive hardcore extremity was a bit baffling at first.  The duo scream in tandem over a cacophonous cauldron of noise.  These guys don't peddle guitar wizardry or base brutality, but they do produce an entertaining sound. Matt Dillon's drumming was particularly impressive, especially when executed over simultaneous screams.  The band are certainly worth checking out.

Tiger Flowers' self titled EP is revelatory; it makes good on the apeshit promise of the band's live prowess.  I was righteously psyched to hear some of this new music live. I was not disappointed; the circle is complete.  All of the punchy percussive mastery, melodic mysticism and pulverizing force of the band's recorded music was perfectly transmitted on this night.  The stage was left entirely to the drum kit; the band raged in the midst of the crowd on the venue's concrete floor.  Deprived of space to roam, Jesse Madre was forced to expend his infinite energy in compact bursts of ferocity.  Howls of cathartic rage were deposited directly in our faces; we responded with smiles.  No blood was spilled, but much fun was had.  Tiger Flowers are very much worth witnessing in person.  Don't say I didn't tell you.

Defeatist's new album is also their last; the band recently announced that they'll call it quits.  This is an incredible shame; Tyranny of Decay is perhaps their best recorded work.  This evening was one of their two last live performances.  I've rambled on repeatedly about Defeatist's prowess, but this show topped them all.  The new tracks were particularly distinctive on stage, displaying a bit of breathing room that accentuates the band's hypnotic modus operandi.   Aaron Nichols' riffs had extra space to shine while Josh Scott and Joel Stallings dispensed the abstruse rhythmic rapine.  Aaron's vomitous vocals dripped with an extra bit of bile; the end is nigh.  Defeatist will be missed.

Gaza's last album, He is Never Coming Back, displayed devastating heaviness, made all the more sweet by the band's anti-religious fervor.  Death and black metal bands may have cornered the market on Bible bashing, but Gaza's straight-faced fury makes those guys seem like jokers.  The band were touring their way back home to Oregon, having just finished recording their next full-length with Kurt Ballou at his GodCity studio.

In person, Gaza are fucking unnerving.  This was my first observance of the band's absurd live intensity.  Vocalist Jon Parkin stood a head taller than the crowd on the floor, in the midst of which the band had set up.  His screams were delivered with a terrifying conviction, his body swaying precariously, one arm raised in the air, directing his wayward flock of unbelievers.  The flock ate it up, erupting into a room-wide pit of unholy jubilation that engulfed the band.  Gaza produced an absolutely massive sound, surpassing the weighty sonic heft of their recorded material.  The band's rhythm section threatened to tear the Acheron off of its foundation with tectonic force.  I can't wait to hear what Kurt Ballou does with Gaza's music.  I also can't wait to see them play again.


Taake - Noregs Vaapen (Candlelight, 2011)

I take on Taake's tremendous Noregs Vaapen over here at Metal Injection.  Rock out...


Obsequiae – Suspended In The Brume Of Eos (Bindrune Recordings, 2011)

My review of Obsequiae's obscenely great debut LP is up at Metal Injection. Absolutely one of my favorite albums of the year.  There's a full album stream along with the review.


Fuck the Facts - Die Miserable (Relapse, 2011)

Die Miserable is mesmerizing.  My review is up now at Metal Injection.


Infestus – E x | I s t (Debemur Morti, 2011)

E x | I s t  is a harrowing beast.  The vocals and lyrics tell a tale of crushing hopelessness, chronicling one man's descent into sickness, despair and the void of insanity. The music tells another tale altogether. The word 'epic' has been overused and abused as a metal adjective, but every once in a long while it's the best descriptor for an album.  E x | I s t earns that distinction.   E x | I s t is grand in scale, possessing the dynamic character of a symphony without employing any of the Stilton-streaked devices of “symphonic” metal.  Infestus unfurl a warm, nuanced and swarming breed of black metal that's utterly engrossing.  E x | I s t plays out in diverse, memorable movements of melancholy, misanthropy and rage, marked by an abundance of mind-melting riffs.  Melodic themes are visited and revisited, revealing a deep attention to compositional detail and a fount of songwriting skill.

Improbably,  E x | I s t is composed and performed entirely by one man. Andras plays every instrument on the album with eminent skill.  He draws from diverse influences to manifest this master-course in interesting music.  Tireless, teeming tremolations are accompanied by constantly distinctive, purposeful leads.  Blastbeats and outre arpeggiations evoke the stranger aeons of Bergraven or Deathspell Omega.  Opethian leads ride over stuttering, dark, thrashing polyrhythms and plodding dirges.  Clean guitars are broken out in good measure, reminding me specifically of Opeth's early forays into progressive music.  The album is crisply produced, featuring the the wide-open, resonant sound-field of a classical recording.

I've had  E x | I s t in rotation for months; I'm repeatedly drawn into its disturbing and satisfying grasp. Infestus conjoin a unique, tenebrous atmosphere to the timbre of absolute madness; never has a psychological hell-ride been so enjoyable. E x | I s t is certainly one of the year's more astounding and disconcerting musical journeys.



Urfaust, Black Anvil, Krallice – September 17th – Union Pool, Brooklyn

On paper, Urfaust are an absurd proposition. The Dutch duo play a doomy, mid-paced and droning breed of black metal, over-topped by operatic, howling male vocals, in German (I think). The unlikely result is an intoxicating and addictive perfection. Due in part to their friendship with members of Black Anvil, Urfaust made the journey to the United States for the brief “Rites of Alcoholic Darkness” tour. Union Pool was packed with drunken, adoring fans for the band's New York show.

I've been hearing from more and more Krallice detractors of late, who either prefer the band's earlier material or dismiss the band outright with “post” and “hipster” pejoratives. I'm still enjoying Diotima immensely; it's persisted in my playlist throughout the year. Based on the crowded room on Saturday, a good many people also enjoy the band's newer music, or were at least overcome with a morbid curiosity. Krallice played a relatively short, three song set, featuring two Diotima tracks. I'm still taken by the the physical intensity involved in playing this music live. As usual, Krallice performed with a mesmerizing, organic brilliance.

Black Anvil are a band I'm constantly rediscovering. I know I enjoy their music, but every time I throw on a Black Anvil album I'm shocked by its immediacy. This revelatory propensity also applies to the band's live performances. Black Anvil always play like they have something to prove; they're only satisfied with completely flattening a crowd. The first thing I noticed when they took the stage was the gut crunching glory of Gary Bennett's guitar tone; I love it. I started out standing directly in front of Paul Delaney, but he screamed and wielded his bass with such apoplectic dementia that I feared my skull would be split open. The excellent set tore tracks from both albums and accentuated Black Anvil's power to harness riffs and rhythm in the name of malignity.

Stripped down to their essence, removed from keyboards, vocal reverb and choruses, Urfaust are an incredible live band. They may be one of the very few bands that sound better in person than on tape. Plugged into Black Anvil's rig, the guitars were sparse and gorgeous, as was the mix from the soundboard. IX's vocals were clear, strong and magnificently in key. When he let loose his signature howl, its unhinged glory begged us to respond in kind like wolves. The banter was kept to a minimum, although at one point IX dedicated a song to Peter Steele, calling him the band's single greatest influence. This explains a lot and also elicited a raucous response from the audience, as you can imagine.

The crowd was surprisingly vehement, singing along (in German?!), screaming, shoving drunkenly and raising many a beer in tribute to Urfaust. Although IX was remarkably subdued on stage, drummer VRDRBR rode his kit with a restless, punk rock rage. Never has a rudimentary beat been so viciously eviscerated. Even while keeping an eye on the crowd's soccer hooligan antics, I smiled throughout the entire set. Urfaust for strength.

Justina V also has a fantastic set of photos from the tour here.


Tiger Flowers - Tiger Flowers EP (The Path Less Traveled, 2011)

I posted a review of Tiger Flowers' debut EP at Metal Injection. This thing kicks my ass.  You can stream it right here:


Heavy Rotation

Botanist - I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose from the Dead

Tiger Flowers - S/T EP

Opeth - Heritage

False - S/T EP

Krallice - Diotima

Deafest - Through Wood and Fog EP

Defeatist - Tyranny Of Decay

Fuck the Facts - Die Miserable

Vader - Welcome to the Morbid Reich

Urfaust - Der freiwillige Bettler
Listen: (Bandcamp goodness below)


Revocation, Mutant Supremacy – August 20th – The Studio at Webster Hall, NYC

Revocation don't fit neatly into metal's Venn diagram.  They're not exactly death metal, and they're not exactly thrash.  They don't dabble in the “taking it seriously” world of cvlt credibility, but they don't  belong to the djentified morass of “modern” metal.  These distinctions matter little to me; I simply enjoy the band's music.  The ambiguous allegiances, however, ensure that a Revocation concert is a sociological Petri dish.  Regardless of the diverse clientele at their shows, Revocation are monstrously entertaining on stage.  The band recently visited New York in celebration of their newest album, Chaos of Forms.  The captivating experience transcended any and all social concerns of the motley crowd; we were unified by metal.

I love me some Mutant Supremacy, and evidently I'm not alone.  The Studio at Webster Hall was absolutely jammed with folks stoked on the sounds of old school death.  Infinite Suffering was one of my favorite albums of 2010, and its distinctive tracks continue to rip in the live setting.  Sam Awry and company blasted barbarically through a set of older songs and a handful of new ones that deserve an expeditious recording.

Despite the fury of the band and its fans, I couldn't help but be distracted by the sound.  Webster Hall is frustratingly capable of both perfect audio transmission and awful muddy landslides of fuzz.  Mutant Supremacy's set suffered from the latter, but no one in the seething crowd seemed to notice.  Onward to Death.

My last live experience with Revocation was a rapturous affair that almost left me paralyzed.  On that night the pit consisted only of myself and a couple of hapless drunkards.  We had a great time while the rest of the crowd stood stock-still.   The band have since found their audience, and Webster Hall was a writhing metal mass on this go-around.  The PA was absurdly loud, but David Davidson's riffs cut a clear swath through the air.

Revocation seemed more reserved on stage for this performance, as if their self-consciousness has increased with their fame and fan-base.  They shredded with abandon a year ago as if they had nothing to lose.  Now the stakes are higher and the band seem to be working harder on audience interaction.  The results were sometimes awkward, but never faulty or distracting.

The short headlining set focused on new compositions off Chaos of Forms, interspersed with an excellent helping of Empire of the Obscene and well worn tracks from Existence is Futile.  Every riff and lead was executed with heart-stopping precision.  It's easy to lose yourself in the Revocation live experience. The band induce a satisfying suspension of disbelief.  I'm not standing in a room with a bunch of people listening to music, I'm experiencing an organic, transporting metal experience.  Don't mind the air guitar, I can't help it.


Wormrot – Dirge (Earache, 2011)

There will always be a place in my heart for Abuse, an album that revived my passion for grind and remained in constant rotation for two years. But as much as Abuse warms the cockles, Dirge has earned its keep. Insinuating itself into the interstices of my daily routine, Dirge has become the de facto soundtrack to 18 minute slices of my life. The album's treblier production and incisive riffs have the uncanny ability to cut through the din of commuter train drone, Manhattan street cacophony, subway roar and rumbling road noise. Dirge pushes punkier arrangements, chuggier chunks of distortion and some straight-up fistfuls of metal, dispensing a shocking jolt of adrenaline. Every time I crank this thing up, I feel as if I'm pissing on the proverbial electrified fence.

Rasyid seems to draw from a fathomless pool of essential grind riffage. His guitar work on Dirge remains intensely satisfying in delivery and diversity. I was slightly disappointed in the guitar tone on the album at first, but with time, I've grown to adore the bark of its mid-range distortion. These riffs intertwine synergistically with Fitri's absurd drumming to induce a feeling of falling continually down stairs, head first. Dirge is a maniacal rhythmic feast. Fitri's drumming remains primal, animalistic and inspired; he is the Keith Moon of grind in my mind.

Arif is a man of many voices, from porcine indigestion to wretchedly withered screams. He spews brilliant grind aphorisms throughout the album, constantly shifting tone in a dissociative downpour. Dirge's allure is magnified by its 'fuck off and die with a smile' attitude and brilliant lyrics. I can't count the number of times I've involuntarily screamed, “All go no emo!” while walking down the street; it's become a motivational mantra.

Abuse's magnificence was miraculous, its impact personal. Dirge's intensity is addictive, its effect a physical, utilitarian rage. Both are essential.


Earache is still offering Dirge as a completely free download here. Being a lover of plastic discs, I pre-ordered the CD before it came out.


Revocation - Chaos of Forms (Relapse, 2011)

I posted a review of the ripping new Revocation album over here at Metal Injection. It's ridiculously entertaining. Shred or die trying.


Disma, Coffinworm - August 16th - Saint Vitus Bar

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been 96 days since my last metal show. Seriously. I broke that unfortunate streak on Saturday night by attending Disma's record release party for the titanic Towards the Megalith at Saint Vitus Bar. I was rewarded with superlative death of the old school and a surprisingly beastly set of bloodcurdling sludge from Coffinworm.

In the interregnum since I got a new job and fell off the face of the earth, Saint Vitus has risen to well deserved prominence in the New York metal scene. This well appointed bar and excellent concert space is situated in the northern wilds of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, on the very edges of civilization. As advertised, Saint Vitus is a “metal themed” drinkery, meaning metal is blasted so loudly in the bar area that any meaningful conversation is impossible. This is precisely what the clientele desire. The modest backroom (measuring roughly 2 ½ Brooklyn basements) is perfectly sized for a wide array of underground shows and features fantastic sound and views. I arrived at the end of a thundering set from the freshly unretired Unearthly Trance and found the space packed to the gills with a who's who of Brooklyn metal.

Coffinworm's When All Became None is an album that's grown on me like a slime mold. Its viscous sludge pierced by blackened-doom vibe has been hitting the spot repeatedly of late. I'm happy to report that the band and their tunes stand up well in person; in fact, they destroy. The vocalist's wretched scream and evident metalborne madness is a perfect foil to the lumbering annihilation of these tunes. In addition to fine cuts off When All Became None, we were treated to a new track (video below) that portends of good things to come from Coffinworm.

Judging by the packed room and jubilant atmosphere, Old School Death Metal is the shit, and Disma are riding the throne. I saw Disma destroy the stage last year when they opened for Immolation. Their live show was a sight to behold. At that time I had only recently acquired their cassette demo, The Vault of Membros; it hasn't left my tape deck ever since. Towards the Megalith is another story altogether. Riding a huge wave of hype, I had a bit of trouble absorbing its dense deathiness. But I've since accepted its bludgeoning goodness into my bowels, and I was excited to hear this music live.

Craig Pillard is a death metal legend, and he lived up to that billing on Saturday night. The unassuming guy belted out gurgling growls of the highest order and the crowd (including myself) ate it up. Hair was flying, necks were wrecked and a truckload of oranges were juiced. The band ably rode the fine line between taut mechanization and flailing destruction; I'd expect nothing less from such a prestigious assemblage of musicians. Towards the Megalith was played in order until the curfew cut it short, but that couldn't dampen the crowd's rabid enthusiasm. These songs were made to be played live; it was a pleasure having them rammed down our throats.


Flourishing - The Sum of All Fossils (The Path Less Traveled, 2011)

The new Flourishing album is astounding and addictive. My besotted review of The Sum of All Fossils is available here at Metal Injection.


Cloud Connected - Fun With Google Music Beta

I'm currently nursing a love/hate relationship with Google music beta. Grueling days at the new job sting a bit less with my entire music collection at hand. Unfortunately, uploading 9000 files to Google's cloud service took several excruciating weeks (a story for another time). Although the web interface has decent features, it's still unpleasantly rough and exhibits all the frayed edges of a beta. About half the albums are missing their art, and some display hilariously wrong covers.

(The cover for With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness shows Smoky Mountain Christmas. "Raped By the Light of Christ" indeed.)

But it works, and it plays my music with the desired fidelity (I'm a stickler for audio quality). The playlist below was my accompaniment to a particularly gruesome work day. The songs were randomly culled from the metal/punk portion of the music collection.

And yes, I'm on Spotify (you can follow me under the name "atanamar"). And yes, Spotify rules. And no, you can't find all of this music on Spotify (32 of the 52 tracks are available in the U.S. version; you can see that abbreviated playlist here). But Spotify is also a story for another time.


Blut Aus Nord - 777 - Sect(s) (Debemur Morti, 2011)

The new Blut Aus Nord album is absurd and amazing. My review of 777 - Sect(s) is published over here at Metal Injection.


Batillus – Furnace (Seventh Rule, 2011)

I don't always see eye to eye with doom. The music has to have to some fiery flavor to keep me awake, engaged and interested. Batillus bring the basting brush and a bucket of homemade sauce to the BBQ, liberally lathering the doom in pungent riffs and spicy, memorable minutia.

Furnace's rhythmic diversity helps to hold me rapt throughout its 44 mammoth minutes. The often lumbering gait is by no means a sign of indolent torpor. Instead, the funereal pace serves to make every note count, make every riff heavy as fuck and every beat of the drums sound shatteringly intense. Batillus grasp the power of a gargantuan groove but don't abuse it as a device. Geoff Summers' percussive dexterity allows the band to incorporate an array of velocities, up to and including blistering blastbeats; his drumming is superlative.

Batillus revel in the doom but are no means confined by it. Riffs occasionally stray into melodic, tangy post-whatever radiance, leaving behind the tenebrous gloom, if only for a moment. Sparse but wisely used keyboards add interstitial melody that I find mesmerizing. For the most part, though, Greg Paterson's riffs are a slug-fest of sludgy ardour, served up with irresistible finesse. These resounding intonations are filled with hooks that engender a delightful sense of delirium. Sandford Parker's production spotlights gorgeous, gurgling guitar tones and gives ample space to fathomless depths of Willi Stabenau's bass.

The lyrics are cryptic missives on failure, decay, suffering and pain. Fade Kainer's voice adds a searing edge to these doomed slabs, spewing irate rancor over the album's six tracks. His vocals hit all the right spots, perfectly interlocking with each song's rhythmic essence. I'll be damned if the chorus of “Deadweight” hasn't been lodged in my skull for months: “Fall on your knees, crushed by it all. Poisoned this mind, blackened a soul.” I think that just about says it all.


You can buy the physical LP here, buy it digitally here and stream the entire album below:


Tombs - Path of Totality (Relapse, 2011)

I've risen from the dead and posted a review of the incredible new Tombs album over here at Metal Injection. Dive into it.


Enslaved - The Sleeping Gods EP (Scion AV, 2011)

Scion A/V are putting out a new Enslaved EP, and I wrote a piece for Metal Injection to accompany their premier of a new track. It took half a year for Axioma Ethica Odini to sink in, but this EP slapped me right across the face and reminded me why I love this band. Check it out here.


Krallice - Diotima (Profound Lore, 2011)

After digesting the new Krallice album for 4 months, I've finally coughed up a Metal Injection review over here. Incredible.


Negative Plane - Stained Glass Revelations (The Ajna Offensive/Invictus Productions, 2011)

I posted a review (and stream) of this incredible album over here at Metal Injection. I went on a Lovecraftian bender.


Woods of Ypres, Gwynbleidd – March 16th – The Bowery Electric, NYC

Woods of Ypres have been my frequent audio companions of late, and it was time to consummate the relationship with a live performance. I approached this show with a good bit of trepidation. Would the band's melodic take on blackened doom translate in person? Would David Gold be able to reproduce those dispiriting clean vocals on stage? Yes, and yes, thank you very much.

After local hard rock band MP Project (featuring Mike Pacheco of Mortal Remains) played a fun, competent, if not entirely incongruous set, Brooklyn's Gwynbleidd set up. I've heard their name floating around for a couple of years, but never managed to cross their path. The band's folky, melodic, deathy doom came across quite well, aided by excellent sound and an enthusiastic crowd. Gwynbleidd's performance betrayed a bit of rust, but that was quickly shaken off. Their music was appreciably well crafted, with Opethian flourishes that made for an impressive first listen. The set was comprised of material from the band's debut EP and most recent album, Nostalgia, in addition to a new track, captured below.

Woods of Ypres kicked off their set with the blistering and bouncy “Sham of Optimism,” from their debut EP, Against the Seasons. “Everything I Touch Turns To Gold (Then To Coal)” followed, showing that David Gold's deep, clean vocals convey the same vast desolation in person. Earache reissued the band's most recent LP, Woods 4 – The Green Album, and I was expecting a set heavy on its tracks (I sang the album's praises here). We certainly got a good helping of Woods 4 tracks, but we were also treated to a fine selection of older songs.

The band fired on all cylinders, producing a devastating, full and crunchy live sound. Evan Madden's drum performance was shockingly deft and energetic. His brother Shane pitched in screamed vocals on several tracks, demonically dominating the center of the stage. The nearly perfect sound helped convey an incredibly heavy atmosphere. The modest crowd seemed just as enthralled by the proceedings as myself, with many heads banging throughout the night.

Although partially obscured by darkness throughout the set, David Gold was clearly the ringleader of this morose metal machine. He churned out mesmerizing riffs while delivering pitch perfect melancholy and savage, inhuman screams. A rousing rendition of “Wet Leather” sounded particularly pessimistic. Woods 4 tracks such as “Pining (For You),” and “By The Time You Read This (I Will Already By Dead)” ran the full gamut of emotional annihilation. The incredible set showcased the paradoxical message inherent in these songs (that which does not kill you only makes you stronger). Interestingly, the band closed out the show with the the extended bellicose balladry of “A Meeting Place and Time,” from their debut EP. Repeated calls for “one more song” brought the band back out for a crushing encore of “Your Ontario Town is a Burial Ground.”

All of my questions regarding Woods of Ypres were affirmatively answered; they slay in person. I recorded audio of the set and have been listening to it repeatedly ever since. The show really was that good.


Drugs of Faith - Corroded (Selfmadegod Records, 2011)

I posted a review of Corroded, the debut LP from Drugs of Faith, over here at Metal Injection. It grinds, it rocks, it kills.


Fuck the Facts, Psychic Limb, Radiation Blackbody, Swords of Chaos – March 13th – Cake Shop, NYC

I'm developing a soft spot for shows at Cake Shop; the combination of coffee, cake and aural destruction just goes down easy. Also, I love early shows. On this evening, Fuck the Facts brought their tenth anniversary tour to town, unleashing their unique breed of bastardized grind upon an eager crowd in the Cake Shop's basement.

The first band to set up was the unassuming Swords of Chaos, straight out of Reykjavik. The show was part of the band's maiden American tour and first stop on their road to South By Southwest. A quick glance at the Swords of Chaos Myspace page before the show revealed a claim that “subliminal aural contradictions leave the masses perplexed.” The band certainly brought the contradiction, playing an eclectic blend of hardcore tinged with odd melody and rampaging rock. I was, however, much more impressed than perplexed by the band's performance. A baritone guitar stood in for bass, giving the music an oddly proggy bent. Chaos was also well represented, with the vocalist screaming up a storm while running through and around the crowd during the set. A couple of tracks featured well executed clean singing that I'd call out of place, but I think that was the point. All told, it was a fun set and a band worth checking out.

I've rhapsodized repeatedly about the rhythmic prowess of Joshua Scott and Joel Stallings (of Defeatist and the defunct Anodyne). As Radiation Blackbody, the duo let rip a ridiculously entertaining drum and bass blasting. I've found their self-titled (and freely available) LP to be a constant walking companion; the thing propels me like a battering ram. In person, this shit is just unbelievable. Joel Stallings is a draw-dropping drummer. Joshua Scott accompanies the percussive precision with rolling, rocking and ludicrous bass lines, all tinged with discernibly dissonant melody.

Psychic Limb are a fucking mystery; the band have zero internet presence. I saw them open for Wormrot in Brooklyn last year, where their unhinged, off-the-rails brand of grinding hardcore made quite an impression on the crowd. On that night it was difficult to discern exactly what was going on with their music, so I was looking forward to an up close and personal listening session.

Vocalist Brian Montuori is a living paroxysm, spilling splenetic screams all over the crowd while wantonly throwing his body around the room. The band tore through a set of blindingly fast tracks that speak of spastic chromatic riffs, crushing composition and rhythmic destruction. This is combustible and mesmerizing music that I'd love to hear in recorded form.

When Fuck the Facts played Cake Shop last year, I was blown away by their ferocious live show. This evening was even more impressive, as the band uncorked a stunning set of tracks spanning their entire career. Topon Das is an absolute beast on guitar; I have no idea where he gets these ideas and how he executes with such absurd precision. Although he seemed crammed into an uncomfortably miniscule spot on the stage, Mathieu Vilandre steered the band with indefatigable, flawless drumming. Mel Mongeon rampaged in all directions, screaming in eye-popping madness and enjoying every minute of abject invective. When he wasn't treating the crowd to incomprehensible Canadian jokes, Marc Bourgon towered above the band and audience, bellowing vocal fire and purveying barreling bass.

Excellent sound helped drive home the abstruse audio annihilation. Neck snapping grind was sewn together with moments of engrossing melody and infused with gallons of groove. I was particularly pleased to hear songs from Backstabber Etiquette and Stigmata High-Five, two albums I've been jamming a lot lately. Most importantly, I was hoping we'd get to hear some tunes from the band's upcoming LP, Die Miserable. The band obliged, closing out the set with two vicious new songs (one is captured below). Ears were annihilated and many facts were fucked; it was a great evening.


Woods of Ypres - Woods 4: The Green Album (Earache, 2011)

Earache is re-issuing Woods of Ypres' most recent album, and I take the opportunity to rhapsodize about it here at Metal Injection. Woods 4 is one of my favorite albums in recent memory.



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