khost – Governance

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Label: Cold Spring Records

Of all the records to have come my way recently, Governance by Birmingham band khost is probably the most punishing. Combining harsh noise with an industrial stomp and muscularity, Governance is far from an easy listen; but at the same time, it’s one that’s relatively easy to sink in to. Whilst khost may excel at creating an atmosphere of utter darkness, filled with horrific malevolence, they do so in a way that includes just enough shades of light to make the darkness all the more effective, whilst also stopping it becoming overwhelming. This sense of contrast is vitally important, and helps make Governance be such a success.

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american – Violate And Control

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Label: Sentient Ruin Laboratories / Fragile Branch Recordings / Shove Records

In the increasingly populated world of extreme music, it gets harder and harder to stand out. There’s only so many novel ideas out there, and there’s no guarantee that musicians have the requisite talent to properly convey what they have to express. It’s this context which helps make american seem an all the more startling prospect. Their mix of black metal, industrial, and harsh noise already sounds exciting on paper, but what Violate And Control demonstrates is that the duo have both the ideas and talent to take this combination in to strange new places. This results in an album that feels remarkably fresh, even as it indulges in some of the most horrific music committed to tape whilst still remaining listenable.

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rabitrup – SWVMPS

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Label: Self-released

Sometimes, the most disturbing aspects in art are the most human. Whilst extra-dimensional Lovecraftian creatures and blasphemous demons may have their own type of power and horror, they can be as nothing when compared with a well-placed spoken word sample. SWVMPS by rabitrup is proof of that were any ever needed. The music itself is powerful enough, mixing industrial, harsh noise, and even dubstep elements in to a challenging listen. But what really makes this three-track EP horrifying are the spoken word samples, which give the music extra context and power. If you’re feeling emotionally fragile or downcast, this is a record to avoid; but, if you want an experience of staring in to the void that is humanity, press ahead.

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Balance Interruption – Door 218

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Label: Satanath Records /  Abstruse Eerie Radiance

As of late, I’ve been feeling quite disheartened about the creative emptiness of much black metal. For sure, there are plenty of worthwhile, ambitious releases out there (as well as those which aim to stick to their chosen style, and absolutely nail it); but finding them amidst a sea of generic corpsepainted, tremolo-picking, Satan worshiping clones is quite the task. It’s that which makes the discovery of a band like Balance Interruption all the more heartening. Theirs is a black metal that does not give one single fuck for orthodoxy or the constraints of genre and their third album, Door 218, is a devastating tour-de-force of industrial, progressive black metal that deserves to be raised above the mediocre masses and praised for the damaged genius that it is.

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October Blasts

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!

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Caïna – Christ Clad In White Phosphorus

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Label: Apocalyptic Witchcraft

Trying to second-guess what a new Caïna record will sound like is a pretty pointless task. Within the back catalogue of the UK act, you’ll find everything from blackened hardcore to neofolk to experimental electronics and beyond. Added to that is the fact that the band is no longer a solo concern, with founding member Andrew Curtis-Brignell now being joined by Laurence Taylor (Cold Fell, COF Records) on vocals, adding a whole new element to the equation. Then consider that the band’s recent live performances had tended towards noise performances rather than anything traditionally metal, as well as the band publicly hinting that 90s industrial metal was becoming more of an influence. Taken together, it means that the only thing that could be stated with certainty about Christ Clad In White Phosphorus is that it would be a dark, challenging listen – which it most certainly is. It’s one of the more demanding releases in the Caïna catalogue, but given time and patience, it also reveals itself as one of the strongest.

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Pop Duo – Pop Duo (self-titled)

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Label: Self-released

It may only be just shy of six minutes long, but this little three track release is something pretty special. Pop Duo are one of several projects involving Matt Finney (also of It Only Gets Worse and Secret Admirer), and here he teams up with Brandon Duncan, to produce something that can adequately be described as the soundtrack to “2am drives to nowhere”, as Matt states on the duo’s bandcamp page. Whereas other projects involving Matt have tended towards the bleak and depressed – something there’s strong elements of here – Pop Duo are notable for the almost desperate sexual tension in their music. Recalling a whole host of diverse acts – from Sisters Of Mercy to Drake to Skinny Puppy to an army of forgotten trip-hop artists – it’s an uncomfortable listen, but one that is incredibly addictive and impressive in its portrayal of such desperate, physical humanity. Continue reading