Extreme metal’s status as outsider music can sometimes be taken for granted. After all, we live in an age where famous celebrities will wear Morbid Angel shirts and think nothing of it; and even in the genre’s early days, Cannibal Corpse were making cameos in mainstream movies. As such, the genre’s potential to be truly transgressive can taken for granted, if it even still exists. But then a band like Cryptae come along with a record like Vestigial, and the capacity for metal to once again seem shocking and challenging is brought into sharp focus. Combining death metal, grind, and an experimental spirit, Vestigial is the sound of metal remembering how to be dangerous to complacent minds and established structures.
So often, when a band aims for transcendence, what they instead achieve is simply indulgence; the repeated riffs become boring rather than hypnotic, the time signatures frustrating rather than interesting, and whatever impact the music might have had is lost in a sea of missed opportunities. So thank your deity of choice that Grogus have avoided such mistakes and, on Four Kings, create music that taps into something truly beyond. This is not so much music as self-expression as it is channeling some other realm, where emotions have sound and physical form; where every moment of doubt and anxiety has a real shape and texture that can be grasped. As this might imply, it’s something special.
You might expect just shy of fifteen years to take some of the fire out of a hardcore band; after all, a decade and a half is long enough for young men to become full-fledged adults, for youthful fires to dim and give way to a desire for routine, stability, and safety. Yet listening to Misery Sequence, there’s no indication that such a fate has befallen Brutality Will Prevail. As dark and heavy as ever, Misery Sequence also showcases a version of Brutality Will Prevail who have tightened up, crafted their song-writing, and produced arguably their best record to date.
The concept of joy is something that can be overlooked in heavy music; for all the euphoria of live shows, how many bands set out to make actual records which even try to replicate that life-affirming feeling? To that small, select number, we can add this collaboration between two of the UK’s leading heavy, progressive metal bands. With Curse These Metal Hands, members of Pijn & Conjurer have recorded an album that is intentionally joyful, a celebration of the power of heavy music to bring light into the world and a moment of happiness during dark times.
Five years since reforming, Dutch four-piece Kludde have finally offered new music to the world. Eleven years have passed since they last released a record, 2008’s In den Vergetelheid, during which time whole new styles of black metal have been spat into existence and become established scenes in their own right, with all the rise and fall in quality and popularity that brings. Not that you’d necessarily know such time has passed from listening to new album In de Kwelm. This is the kind of black metal that could have been recorded at any point since the mid-90’s – it’s not so much influenced by the second wave , so much as it sounds like a lost record from that time unearthed and given a modern production.
This month’s short reviews come a little later in the month than usual, but that’s because so many records I wanted to cover ended up getting full reviews instead; sometimes, that’s just how it goes. That shouldn’t be seen as any kind of slight on these records, though. The Last Martyr‘s modern metal aims for the highest stars; whilst Moloch and Groakwill drag you down to the gutter. Wallowing may tell sci-fi tales, but their music is still very much of this earth; and Death by Fungi offer up some of the finest hardcore to be found not just in India, but anywhere. Finally, Wreck and Reference do what Wreck and Reference do – switch styles, experiment, and offer up something emotionally devastating. Enjoy!
If there’s one thing Possessor know how to bring, it’s riffs. Gravelands spits and snarls like the bastard child of Motorhead and High on Fire, with a little bit of punked-up dirt thrown in for good measure. It’s hard not to appreciate the sheer sense of conviction and joy of heaviness that the London trio put across on this, their fourth album, and what it lacks in originality it makes up for in spirit and passion. It may not reinvent the wheel, or offer any hints of pushing their chosen genre forward, but Gravelands is still a lot of fun.