Yet more proof that no one way of utilising a kick-ass riff is superior.
Pyreficativm – संसार का पथ
Image is an important part of black metal, acting for many as a signifier of sound and ethos. With their religious iconography and song titles like ‘Transcendental Conjuration ov Nvth’, it’s clear that Pyreficativm are a Serious Black Metal Band, and that debut album संसार का पथ (which roughly translates to “Worldly Path” is intended as a Serious Album. It’s not the kind of record designed to be enjoyed, but to be experienced – the kind of metal that is intended as the soundtrack to deep soul-searching and a quest for philosophical understanding. The songs are long, with many breaking the ten-minute mark, and consist largely of stripped-down arrangements, almost minimalist in their approach to the traditional guitar/drum/voice set-up, complemented by more esoteric flourishes, that walks a thin line between being hypnotic and, frankly, boring.
The intention is clearly to create a mystical atmosphere, to take the listener to some other head-space away from the physical world; which, if given the environment required, it will succeed at. This isn’t an album you can just press play on and expect it to work – you have to meet it part-way, and give it what it requires. In the proper environment, it’s a consuming, captivating listen, even if there are some musical aspects that could be improved upon that would aid this, such as the transitions between mid-tempo and up-tempo sections. But listened to in the wrong atmosphere or mindset, you’ll just wonder what all the fuss is about.
संसार का पथ is out now on Living Temple Records. Purchase here.
Words: Stuart Wain
Tongue Eating Louse – Voidwalker
Mixing elements of black metal, sludge and doom, Ottawa’s Tongue Eating Louse have created an intriguing and immersive piece of work with their first full-length release Voidwalker.
Clocking in at over sixteen minutes, the album’s opening track ‘Lappel Du Vide’ offers a wide pallet of sounds and emotions. The guitars are dirty, metallic and crushing throughout yet at intervals the band offer some truly beautiful and melancholic arpeggio passages that serve as a heart-wrenching backdrop for the screamed vocals, duties of which are shared by three members of the band. ‘Alchemy’ is a more wretched beast, echoing Eyehategod in parts, the atmosphere is darker and the vocals more guttural than the previous track. Yet despite the crushing and claustrophobic heaviness there is room for the band to breath and shine individually. A special mention has to be given to drummer Nick Tooms’ superb work on this track, whose subtle fills in the quieter moments manage to maintain both the groove and atmosphere of the song. Final track ‘Shaman Of Low’ again offers some gorgeous guitarwork ringing out beneath the intense vocal performances, in particular the disarming and soaring lead work around the track’s midpoint, creating something truly unique. Voidwalker makes for an epic listen and it feels we are only just beginning to see what this band can offer.
Voidwalker is out now on Sludgelord Records. Purchase here.
Words: Adam Pegg
HAAN – By The Grace Of Blood And Guts
By The Grace Of Blood And Guts is an upfront and gritty medley of styles. From heavy metal, thrash, groove, hard-rock and sludge, it’s a direct and aggressive work of metallurgy. The music doesn’t follow an overly complex structure but it breathes momentum, like ‘It Smells like Gas’, with its furious drum rolls hammered in with abrupt guitar and bass. Even the more suspenseful introduction of ‘Zero Day’, where an eerie resonating guitar melody occupies the space between the punctuating bass and drums. In either case they both hurtle into the sludgy groove of the chorus. The instruments hit with a crushing impact, the vocals give not only a early-thrash velocity but also contribute a melodic aspect which the other musical elements miss in their strive for sludge.
HAAN have managed to create something engaging in its straightforward presentation and its intoxicating groove. The sound of the LP is harsh and impactful but not obscure or muddy. Its directness is a real strength too, every song establishes its theme then drops you straight into the groove of the track. It will appeal to a broad metal audience and perhaps some outside it.
By the Grace of Blood And Guts is out now on Aqualamb Records. Purchase here.
Words: Omur Sowar
Frontierer – Unloved
Earlier this year, we featured Scottish bruisers Sectioned as they released their unrelenting new album, but compared to Frontierer, a band with whom they share several members, Sectioned’s hardcore rackets sound infinitely more straight-forward. That’s not to say Frontierer are any less direct though, quite the contrary. On Unloved, Frontierer’s chaotic concoction of mathcore rhythms, djent riffs and madcap electronics conjure up a veritable shitstorm of impossibly in-your-face heaviness.
For all the intensity, though, there’s an underlying, latent progressiveness to these raucous displays of unbridled fury. It is, of course, a densely-packed onslaught from start to finish, but the adept way in which the band wield the various components of their sound is truly impressive, and an increase in glitchy electronics and jagged rhythms make it entirely less predictable than its predecessor, in spite of the fact that long-time fans will be wise to the band’s manic sound. The striking brutality of their first album may have caught some unawares, but don’t be fooled into thinking you know what’s coming when you hit play this time around.
A step-up in intensity and even more genre-defying than their debut LP, Unloved chucks some tried-and-true extreme metal shrapnel in a cannon and lets it off in your face.
Unloved is out now. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr
Backwoods Payback – Future Slum
Formed in 2003 in Coatesville Pennsylvania, noisy three-piece Backwoods Payback return with Future Slum, a large and varied slice of dirty, grunge-infused stoner rock.
Opener ‘Pirate Smile’ is a real gem, a neat three-minute rocker that’s rough, catchy as hell and showcases singer Mike Cummings’ powerful, unpolished vocals to great effect. Some subtle guitar embellishments bolstered by the tight rhythm section of bassist Jessica Baker and drummer Erik Larsson are clear evidence of band with 15 years experience of playing together. Personal highlight, the towering hook-filled ‘Whatever’ features a great guest performance from Royal Thunder’s Miny Parsonz and recalls the Seattle sounds of the early ’90s without ever being derivative. The gloomy, fuzzy ‘Cinderella’ offers a change of pace at the album’s midpoint and shows the band’s ability to play with restraint, creating a brooding, unsettling atmosphere with its gorgeously beefy guitar tones and hypnotic drumming. A wide range of influences can be heard throughout the album from the Fu Manchu-esque ‘Generals’ to the Alice In Chains nods of ‘It Ain’t Right’ via the Sleep-inspired riffs of ‘Alone’.
Indeed, Backwoods Payback wear their influences firmly on their sleeve but five albums in have managed to create a wonderful sound that’s all their own.
Future Slum is out now. Purchase here.
Words: Adam Pegg
Vardan – Unholy Lightness Summer
The press release for the busiest man in black metal’s fourth album of the year claims that the album is mandatory for fans of Watain, Burzum and Darkthrone, but in truth it strays so far from the second wave-inspired sounds the Sicilian musician once championed that it’s more likely to piss off the die-hard corpse paint-fanatics – or does that only count once you dare to drop the whole “nihilism” aesthetic? Regardless, Unholy Lightness Summer still maintains a solemn and raw atmosphere very obviously derived from black metal, with the croaky shrieks reserved to an aura of despair rather than anger. Comprising three lengthy tracks, the album spends most of its runtime melding ethereal keyboards with dark wave-esque minor key tonalities.
As a man who has released a whopping 25 albums since 2012, you can hardly blame Vardan for wanting to expand on the black metal genre, and this is a captivating attempt to move beyond those infamously rigid boundaries. ‘Part 1’ acts as an enchanting and enveloping seven-minute intro to the twenty-one minute ‘Part 2’, which attempts to win you over through a monotonous atmosphere and unhinged (and potentially contentious) vocalisations. It’ll take some time, but it certainly has its moments, whilst ‘Part 3’ is a more serene affair, decidedly bolstered by an open-hearted sentimentality and the addition of celestial choirs.
As always, Vardan’s latest is an ambitious effort, but as always, it largely delivers.
Unholy Lightness Summer is out now on Moribund Records. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr