You know what? Summer kinda sucks. Especially when you live in a building old enough to be cold in winter, roasting in summer; but not so old that it has any charm or, well, many redeeming features at all (other than reasonable rent and a decent landlord). This heat is a total downer. The sooner Autumn comes around, the better.
But, whatever. Let’s have some short reviews. This month, we’ve got Kommando and their brand of machinegun punk on Distroyer/Iron Goat Triumph record; The Sound That Ends Creation unleashing hardcore/tech-metal devastation with We Are The Burden; something beautifully different on the split 12″ by Human Hands and The Blue Period. There’s also melo-death from Skeleton Wolf on their self-titled album, an invitation to the doomy Cult Of Bathory from Yidhra, and glorious black metal from Toska on their self-titled EP.
Kommando – Destroyer/Iron Goat Triumph
Ugh! This record sounds exactly how the cover art looks. I mean, come on, there’s a goatman with an automatic rifle and alcoholic beverages, of course it’s a dirty blackened metalpunk record. There’s a healthy d-beat influence (as seen in the album title), and a sarcastic sense of humor that helps raise the record above most of the competition – just see songs like “Old And In The Way” and “Bitching Hour”. Kommando are no joke though, and this record has enough violence and attitude to win over even the most cynical types. Even by the standards of metalpunk, this is one nasty twenty minute ride. Which means, of course, that it’s pretty damn good.
The Sound That Ends Creation – We Are The Burden
I really struggled with this on initial listens. Even though it’s only twenty minutes long, We Are The Burden by one-man act The Sound That Ends Creation is so full of technical movements and desperate energy that it feels much longer – in a good way. It did take me some time to appreciate the depth of this record, and I’m not ashamed to admit I was initially put off by the impenetrable nature of its tech-grind. But there’s an emotional edge, similar to Converge, that helps give something to latch on to. I normally prefer my grind more straightforward, but after a bit of time, I can certainly appreciate and enjoy this. An exhausting listen, but a very rewarding one.
Human Hands & The Blue Period – Split
Label: Ruined Smile Records
I’ll admit, this one is a bit out of my usual listening habits, but I enjoyed it enough that I wanted to give it some coverage, even if I’m a bit out of my depth. The side from Human Hands is more familiar to me, walking the line between indie, early post-rock and 90’s emo, with clean guitars and impassioned vocals. If Saetia replaced the screamed, loud sections with a stronger Slint influence, they might have sounded like this. The Blue Period, meanwhile, are very far outside my realms of experience, playing a kind of sedate, gentle indie rock. It’s quite ephemeral, feeling at times as if it could fade away if touched, with graceful melodies and melancholy violin atop joint male/female vocals. I’ve no idea who to compare it to, and it’s not the sort of thing I’d listen to often, but it’s all wonderfully beautiful and relaxing. It might stand in stark contrast to the records I usually review, but man cannot live by blast-beats alone.
Skeleton Wolf – Skeleton Wolf (self-titled)
Odds are that, if you care at all about the new Amon Amarth album, you’ve already listened to and been disappointed by it. Rather than sulk in to your mead about how such a great live band have settled in to a rut of producing disappointing records, give the self-titled album by Skeleton Wolf a spin instead. This is stirring, rabble-rousing melo-death that gets everything right, and highlights just how flat the bigger names of this style often sound now. The trio play with real passion and energy, which is captured over these seven tracks. Lyrically, they may get a bit cheesy at times with the metal tropes of songs likes “She’s Insane” and “M.P.F.F.”, but it’s all in good fun. There’s the feel throughout that the band are enjoying themselves, and want the listener to be head-banging and enjoying the music too, in which case: mission successful. Hardly revolutionary, but bloody good fun.
Yidhra – Cult Of Bathory
Label: Black Voodoo Records
Cult Of Bathory could hardly be more metal if it tried. This perfectly captures the spirit of bands like Black Sabbath or Sleep, where the riff is king and we are all mere worshipers. Yidhra‘s doom/stoner metal is rough, addictive, and delightfully heavy. It’s not really introducing anything new to the style, but what it does do is get everything right, sure to get heads nodding along in a captivated haze. The riffs are absolutely perfect, and I love the hazy atmosphere throughout, especially on the brooding “Iron Mountain”, which is a prime demonstration of how this music can be crushingly heavy but also possess a sense of space and movement. This is a fine way to lose an (almost) half hour in a doomed-out cloud.
Toska – Toska (self-titled)
Label: Eihwaz Recordings
Iceland has been making one hell of a claim for being the most exciting place on Earth at present in terms of black metal, and Toska‘s self-titled EP only adds to that. There’s a lot going on over these seven tracks, resulting in a breathless intensity that is both unsettling and cathartic, whilst also possessing moments of beauty. It’s full of the power of the North, cold and frost-bitten, with interlude track “Spirits Of The Winter Moon” providing a moment of calm in amongst the madness. There’s also moments where the riffs really shine through, breaking free of the maelstrom to provide moments of head-banging thrills as well as wide-eyed chaos. Fans of Windir and early Dødheimsgard should take note, as should anyone with a passing interest in the most consistently thrilling black metal scene of recent times. Very excited to see where this band goes; there’s the potential here for the band to produce something world-beating.