2016 is almost over, thank fuck. What a shithole of a year. But hey, not everything is awful – there’s always good, inspiring music out there to be found. Which brings us to this month’s short reviews, which takes in death metal from Encrypted on Drifting To The Impaled; absolutely not-kvlt metal on Biophobia by Bearstorm; ambitious noise rock by Phase Order; melancholic death-doom by Marianas Rest on the sorrowful Horror Vacui; bombastic, powerful symphonic black/death from Seven Sins with their album Due Diaboli Et Apocalypse; and feminist hardcore/powerviolence from the superbly named Cliterati. Enjoy!
Encrypted – Drifting To The Impaled
Label: Lord Of The Sick Recordings
Originally self-released in 2001, Drifting To The Impaled was re-issued last year by Lord Of The Sick. I wouldn’t usually cover a release this old, but Encrypted‘s take on death metal is an interesting one, situated right in the middle between brutal and old-school death metal. At points the genesis of brutal death metal is clear, especially in the deeper-than-deep growls and occasional chugs; but at others, an Autopsy-esque filth and New York-style technicality and weight rises to the fore. To modern ears, it’s an interesting meeting of styles, and if more brutal death metal bands took this route, I’d be a much bigger fan of the style. As it is, Drifting To The Impaled feels like a lost classic that never quite was.
Bearstorm – Biophobia
Label: Grimoire Records
This shouldn’t work. There’s probably a few thousand corpsepainted warriors of trve grimness out there who would try to destroy every copy of this record if they could, to stop music like this spreading. Because god-damn, Biophobia is a superbly catchy and fun record, blending Southern metal with black metal coldness. If the idea of Baroness fronted by Nattefrost excites you, then Bearstorm are the band you have been waiting for. On the other hand, if reading that sentence has made you angry, then you’re best off giving this a miss for the sake of your own sanity. But get on board with it, and Biophobia‘s progressive, riff-heavy style of grimness makes for a thoroughly enjoyable 24 minutes of heaviness.
Phase Order – Phase Order (self-titled)
Interesting one, this. On the first half of their three track EP, Phase Order do exactly what you expect noise rock bands to do – play lots of dirty, fuzzed-out riffs, propelled along by solid drumming, all topped off with a sense of desperation that can’t be faked. “The Idiot I” and “The Idiot II” are somewhere between The Stooges and Unsane, and it’s great. Final track “Boiler” is a much more unusual proposition, being over fourteen minutes in length. It’s unafraid to take its time building atmosphere and tension, before settling in to a hypnotic, cyclic kind of heaviness that brings Swans to mind, without sacrificing any of their dirty noise rock and stoner goodness – it’s a surprisingly effective combination. If only every band who wrote tracks this long was as good as this trio.
Marianas Rest – Horror Vacui
Label: Sliptrick Records
Melancholic, melodic death-doom isn’t something I turn to often. There’s few albums that I’ll listen to from start to finish, but the ones I like, I really like. The first half of Horror Vacui has me all kinds of excited, with Marianas Rest hitting all the right notes, combining sorrowful heaviness with catchy melodies and a sense of catharsis; opener “The Millennialist” is especially strong. The songs may be fairly long – the shortest is still over five minutes long – but they don’t feel bloated, and the oceanic feeling (as in the ocean, not the Isis album) gives the band a sense of character that helps separate them from their contemporaries. This is an excellent debut from a band who could easily go on to much bigger things.
Seven Sins – Due Diaboli Et Apocalypse
If you’re going to play symphonic metal, then you need to absolutely commit to it – embrace the bombast, and create something with a true feeling of epic grandeur. Seven Sins from Kazakhstan do just that on Due Diaboli Est Apocalypse. The keyboards are given a suitably strong role, and they work in tandem with stirring guitar lines to create metal that sounds like it should be the soundtrack to some era-defining medieval war. It’s remarkable that such an underground band as this five-piece could record an album that’s so much more powerful, passionate, and convincing than anything done by the mainstream symphonic extreme metal bands. It is a bit of an exhausting listen, but Dui Diaboli Est Apocalypse is everything symphonic metal should be.
Cliterati – Cliterati (self-titled)
Label: Tank Crimes
Oh man, this is furious. Storming feminist hardcore, with plenty of powerviolence influence and enough melody to keep the songs tuneful, Cliterati absolutely do not fuck around. Songs like “Make America Hate Again” have never felt more relevant, whilst “Virtue” and “Marked By God” criticize the warped morality so prevalent in Christian America. The music has more than enough passion and fury to match what is expressed in the lyrics and vocals, making this a righteous ten minute blast of hardcore that will hopefully help inspire those who are feeling pretty deflated by recent political events. Or, failing that, will at least get a rush from the music, which is awesome.