So, October has been pretty busy. There’s been quite a few big, exciting releases – not least of which are the new albums from Darkthrone and Planes Mistaken For Stars – and I spent a few days travelling around the country to see SubRosa on their first UK tour. Their shows were every bit as incredible as I hoped, and if you get the chance, I recommend you go see them.
For this month’s short review, there’s eclectic hardcore from Death By Fungi on In Dearth Of; psychedelic doom by Cities Of Mars with Celestial Mistress; discordant post-black metal by Simulacro on Echi Dall’Abisso; harsh soundscapes of Perennial Disappointment by Concrete Mascara, which is anything but disappointing; raw death/doom with black and folk elements on Sangreal by Cóndor; and one of the most uncomfortable pieces of sludge/hardcore I’ve heard by Cowards on Still. Enjoy!
Death By Fungi – In Dearth Of
Gonna cut to the chase with this one: it’s fucking great. Dearth By Fungi‘s brand of hardcore draws from all sorts of different places, making this one of the more eclectic and exciting punk records to have come my way recently. Opener “Black Lung” jumps right in with some early Converge-esque dissonance before moving in to more rocking territories; second track “Pathfinder” is situated somewhere between Shai Hulud and Prophaghandi; “Iced” could almost have slotted in with the first Deftones album, albeit much harder hitting and without any sense of self-pity; and closer “Endless Rain” is the missing link between melodic hardcore and the progressive heart of Hot Cross. As varied as it all is, this EP all hangs together as a cohesive whole, and when combined with the passion the band put across, it all makes In Dearth Of a truly exciting piece of hardcore.
Cities Of Mars – Celestial Mistress
Label: Suicide Records
The cover looks like it’s pulled from some 70’s sci-fi flick, and the music is in keeping with that too. Cities Of Mars‘ play psychedelic doom like punk rock never happened, with Celestial Mistress containing three lengthy tracks that pull you in to their smokey haze and don’t let go. Big riffs and a concept about a soviet secret agent bringing an ancient Martian civilizaition back to life all mesh together in very effective ways, and even if there’s nothing too revolutionary going on here, there doesn’t need to be when the atmosphere and riffs are this good. Tune in, drop out, and let yourself be crushed by the cosmic weight.
Simulacro – Echi Dall’Abisso
Label: Third I Rex
Third I Rex seem to have become a hotbed of post-black metal talent as of late, and Echi Dall’Abisso by Italians Simulacro is very much in keeping with that style. Comprised of eight hulking monoliths of songs, Echi Dall’Abisso is built more upon the black metal side of the equation, with the ‘post’ being more present in the disonant, uncompromising atmosphere. Whereas some post-black bands can spend too long getting to the point, Simulacro go straight for the throat. There are moments of restraint though, to help stop it becoming too one-dimensional, with wordless female vocals adding a more human character than bands of this style often possess, and it’s those hints of humanity which make the album effective for me. They might not reinvent post-black metal, but Simulacro are doing enough that’s novel to come across as fresh and interesting.
Concrete Mascara – Perennial Disappointment
Label: Malignant Records
As should be expected from a release on Malignant Records, this is incredibly difficult to listen to, and absolutely not suitable for casual listening. Concrete Mascara unleash something emotionally and sonically devastating with Perennial Disappointment, where harsh noise and death industrial soundscapes combine with a bleak, caustic aura. Tracks such as “Utopian Nightmare” may crush you under their sonic weight, but it’s the relatively sparse, deathly atmosphere of “Mouth Of Flies, Tongue Of Maggots” that really stands out. As an album though, Perennial Disappointment possesses a depth of sound that is rare in the noise scenes, with each different aspect of Concrete Mascara’s sound being a success. Uneasy listening for sure, but highly rewarding.
Cóndor – Sangreal
Whilst the previous two albums from Cóndor, Duin and Nadia, were very strong pieces of doom metal, they felt like they were both missing that certain something. With third release, Sangreal, that extra something has been found, making this the band’s best work to date. There’s a more black metal flavour to proceedings, which helps make the raw production more successful than on previous efforts, though the band have lost none of their melancholy or majesty. It’s as reminiscent of early Greek black metal as it is death-doom, which is a delightful combination. The opening title track and closer “Roncesvalles” are among the most ambitious and successful songs Cóndor have recorded, and it’s delightful to hear the band building upon their previous works to create something so complete. A true underground gem.
Cowards – Still
Label: Throatruiner Records
This is perhaps the most uncomfortable hardcore release I’ve heard in a while. Mixing plenty of sludge in to their caustic, post-Converge hardcore sound, Parisians Cowards have put together something utterly devastating in Still. Side A contains three new songs, which are blistering, bloodletting slices of dark hardcore, with second track “Let Go” especially impressing with the way it switches from bleak sludge in to riff-heavy hardcore. But it’s the second side which contains true darkness. “You Belong To Me” is a cover of “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, but rather than play it straight, the possessive horror of the song is emphasized by slow, crushing riffs, unsettling guitar movements, and pounding drums. Closer “One Night In Any City” (a cover of electronic artist The Horrorist’s “One Night In New York City”) is utterly horrible, which is exactly how a song telling a story like this should be. Still is incredibly unpleasant, in the best possible way.