Fascinating Things : Issue 04

This time around things of a metal flavour dominate the blog.

Following an extended slumber, Mammoth Lake, California-based black/death merchants, Valdur, emerge from their crypts with the infernal fruits of latest offering, lovingly titled  Pathetic Scum.

The follow-up to 2013’s  At War With full-length, Pathetic Scum was tracked entirely at the band’s Bloody Mountain Bunker, mixed by drummer Matthew, mastered by Dan at Morbid Mastering and offers up seven intense pieces of metal.   Featuring the addition of new guitarist, Vuke, the record delivers an onslaught of warring riffs, wrath-infused vocal offensives and percussive barrages. Indeed, Pathetic Scum maintains the bands place as one of America’s best kept extreme metal secrets.

The band say, “Guitarist/vocalist Samuel is still with us so to speak, but he is so busy with personal/family matters at the moment. Vuke, new guitarist, is not a replacement, but a full time member of Valdur. And for live dates this spring, Roskva will be on vocals again. And we have William on bass and Matthew on drums. We all appreciate anyone who takes the time in this world to have a listen to our music. It is built and moulded by our own hands to the form and shape that we like. With these new songs, we give you something different yet again along the obscure Valdur timeline…”

Featuring past and current members of Weverin, Endless Blizzard and Plutocracy, Valdur was formed at the turn of the century in a small mountain town located in the pulsating heart of the Sierra Mountains where the Death Valley desert lands meet the ascending Mt. Whitney and where the collective dwells without interference of fashionable scenes or rulebooks.

Pathetic Scum will be officially unveiled digitally and in digipak format via the band’s own Bloody Mountain Records on June 30th, 2015.

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Unique Leader Records have confirmed July 24th as the date French death metal band, Kronos, will release their Arisen New Era album upon the waiting world. Recorded, mixed and mastered by David Potvin at Dome Studios (Lyzanxia, Arcania, Under The Abyss etc.) in Angers, France, the band’s latest slab of audio menace features nine tracks adorned with the distinctive cover art of Pierre Alain (Withering Soul, Silentlie, Cyrax etc.).

Kronos formed over fifteen years ago and quickly established a name for themselves based solely on their musical unity of harmony and violence. Featuring a continuous textual reference to the gods of ancient civilizations, Kronos punctures ears with a heightened level of dynamics accomplished by only by a select number of bands. It all began in a small town in the north eastern province of Alsace-Lorraine. Following various line-up shifts and musical experimentation, the band recorded their first demo in 2000. One year later, they released their Titan’s Awakening debut. Produced entirely by the band, the album lead to a union with French imprint Warpath Records. By the end of 2001, Titan’s Awakening was re-released, this time with a brand new cover designed by Deather (Gurkkhas, Vital Remains, Angel Corpse) as well as a visually disquieting booklet.

Kronos later joined forces with Spanish label Xtreem Music run by Avulsed’s Dave Rotten, for the unleashing of their next two full-lengths. Second offering, Colossal Titan Strife was released in 2004 to the applause of underground critics in the proverbial know.

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Chicago-based blackened death grind unit, Immortal Bird, have confirmed the official details of their anticipated Empress/Abscess LP.

Set for release on July 14th, the follow-up to 2013’s Akrasia EP was captured by Pete Grossmann (Weekend Nachos, Harm’s Way, Dead In The Dirt) at Bricktop Recording in Chicago, Illinois earlier this year and mixed and mastered by Colin Marston (Gorguts, Krallice, Nader Sadek, Atheist, Origin etc.) at Menegroth, The Thousand Caves in Queens, New York. Empress/Abscess includes a guest appearance by John Hoffman of Weekend Nachos and finds former drummer/vocalist, Amitay, swapping in her drum stool for a full-time position at the mic with longtime live drummer, Garry Naples (Novembers Doom) taking her place at the kit.

Elaborates Amitay, “I’ve stepped away from drumming duties and enlisted our live drummer, Garry Naples (Novembers Doom). Essentially, I had to set my ego aside and determine what was going to be the best for this music. [Guitarist] Evan [Berry] and I wrote some incredibly challenging material for Empress/Abscess, and Garry had been playing it live for months, whereas I’d been focusing a lot of my drumming energy on the newest Thrawsunblat album. My chops are in a very different place than they were when we recorded Akrasia and it would take me a week in the studio to do what Garry can accomplish in two days. Having him behind the kit saved us time, the finished product is stronger, and I was able to delve into the vocal performances and lyrics with my undivided attention. Will I play drums on future Immortal Bird albums? It’s entirely likely, but for Empress/Abscess, I passed the sticks over to the best person for the job.”

The band was formed by Rae Amitay and brought to fruition by cowriter and guitarist Evan Berry and bassist John Picillo. Their debut EP, Akrasia, mixed by Kurt Ballou and mastered by Brad Boatright, was released in December of 2013 to widespread critical acclaim. Decibel Magazine called the offering, “dark and twisting,” while The Chicago Reader commended the band’s “…sick and greasy black metal that does an admirable job inventing the sound of a mind tearing itself apart.” Elsewhere the sentiment echoed with Ghost Cult crowning Akrasia, “Distinctly disturbing and beautifully harsh,” This Is Not A Scene heralding, “…nineteen minutes of metal greatness,” and Last Rites noting, “these songs don’t really make their point; they insist on it.”

Following several tours that took the band across the United States and into Canada, the band entered the studio to record their debut full-length, Empress/Abscess. Picking up where Akrasia left off, Empress/Abscess delves once again into a cesspool of misery, fury, and anguish with stunning cover art by Kikyz1313 (Akrasia). The album will be released as a collaborative effort, with Broken Limbs Recordings taking charge with vinyl and cassettes, while the band will be self-releasing the CD/digital version under the moniker Manatee Rampage Recordings.

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Olympia, Washington-based 20 Buck Spin has hooked up with Denver, Colorado’s doom quartet Khemmis for the band’s impending debut LP, Absolution, which is coming together for release later this Summer amidst extensive touring from the band.

20 Buck Spin has, over the course of the last ten years, worked with the best of the best in the crowded doom genre; bands as diverse as Samothrace, Graves At Sea, Pallbearer, Yob, Mournful Congregation, Lycus, Atlantean Kodex and more. In that tradition, the label is proud to present Khemmis, a quartet from Denver, who, on their debut full-length brings components of many of the aforementioned label alumni and create a testament to what heavy doom rock is in 2015.

The six meticulously crafted songs on Absolution reveal a level of musicianship and writing skill seldom heard on debut albums. Often within the scope of a single song, Khemmis veers effortlessly between the crushing heaviness of Southern sludge and the sombre melodies of traditional doom metal, cohesively weaving the disparate styles into their own immediately recognizable form. Vocally, Khemmis also utilizes a dual approach, sometimes harsh and guttural, but generally through a stunningly smooth classic doom/heavy rock delivery that even adamant fans of Pete Stahl and Wino will applaud. The powerfully adept rhythm section perfectly anchor the towering riff mastery and colorful dual guitar harmonies, all brought together by Dave Otero’s (Cobalt, Nightbringer) pitch perfect production work.

From the album opener “Torn Asunder” to closing track “The Bereaved,” the latter of which will stand as the doom track of 2015, Absolution positions Khemmis among the highlight surprises of the year. The band is most certainly a live act and will tour at intervals throughout the remainder of 2015, including a planned West Coast US run in Summer 2015. Fans of Goatsnake, Pallbearer, Samothrace, Graves At Sea, Red Fang and Yob should keep the name Khemmis at the top of their list of bands to watch this year. The album’s fantastic Frazetta inspired cover art by Sam Turner (Speedwolf, Black Breath, Trve Brewing) is notable.

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All Pigs Must Die are bringing their blistering take on volatile hardcore/metal to the UK for the very first time in July, as part of only two European dates this year (the other one being Roskilde Festival, Denmark). The band, who are well known individually for their roles in other acts such as Converge, The Hope Conspiracy, American Nightmare and The Red Chord, will be playing London’s Underworld on July 5th, with Krokodil, Quiet Man, and the newly reformed Throats supporting.

Xibalba has issued an official video for the revolutionary anthem “Guerrilla,” one of the most vital tracks from their third LP, Tierra Y Libertad, which saw release in January via Southern Lord Recordings.
In complete DIY fashion, Xibalba basically took the concept of their classic “Cold” video to the next level, this time the overthrowing an entire neighbourhood in their hometown of Pomona, California. Directed, shot and edited by Shawn Skadburg and Matt Welch for Nine/One films, with footage by Danny Mayo and Mike Sogoff, the video for “Guerrilla” features a brutalizing live uprising filmed at a live outdoor show in a Pomona neighbourhood, utilizing the voices of their friends and family to carry the message of the track to the masses.
With new tour dates and festival appearances confirmed, Xibalba continue to deliver their piledriving death metal-infused hardcore in support of Tierra Y Libertad through the Summer months. September will see Xibalba hitting Ghostfest in Leeds and Bristol, UK on 5th and 6th of the month alongside Hatebreed, Emmure, Despised Icon, Born Of Osiris, Turnstile and more.
Tierra Y Libertad was recorded by Taylor Young (Nails, Twitching Tongues, Disgrace) at The Pit in Van Nuys, California, the LP’s forty-four minute onslaught delivers more haunting, atmospheric tones and traumatic death-infused metallic hardcore. Tierra Y Libertad is available on CD and grey vinyl LP direct through Xibalba’s Southern Lord store here, and digitally through BandCamp here, as well as through All In Merch including a t-shirt package here.

 

Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, alongside fellow Montreal artist Charles-André Coderre, returns with If He Dies, If If If If If If, a second full-length album from his acclaimed Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH) project, conceived and recorded in his dual homes of Montréal and Beirut.

Known for his production and engineering work with artists as diverse as Matana Roberts (all three chapters of her Coin Coin recordings to date), Mashrou’ Leila, Ought, Eric Chenaux (with whom he also released a collaborative album for the Grapefruit Records Club) and Suuns (with whom he also released a collaborative album on Secretly Canadian in spring 2015), Moumneh has been firing on all cylinders over the past few years. He has brought JIMH to mesmerized live audiences in Canada, Europe and the Middle East since the release of his first album in 2013, following many years during which the project was a strictly Montréal-based live/theatrical happening. While JIMH continues to expand to include a larger cast of players for select engagements and commissions, the group is currently an immersive and performative audio-visual duo at its core, with Moumneh responsible for all sound/composition and Coderre creating 16mm visuals and live projections/installations.

Moumneh expands his compositional palette on If He Dies, If If If If If If, exploring new deconstructions and juxtapositions of both traditional and popular Arab musical currents, with an album that oscillates between powerfully emotive vocal tunes and instrumental works that primarily make use of Radwan’s expressive acoustic playing on buzuk as a point of departure. One of Moumneh’s finest melismatic a cappella vocal performances opens the album, followed by the uncharacteristically literal-titled “A Granular Buzuk”, where said instrument is processed, re-sampled and otherwise disrupted through Radwan’s real-time custom signal patches. “7ebr El 3oyoun” follows with languidly plaintive vocals set against a gradually accelerating riff underpinned by hand percussion, and Side One closes with a scabrous white noise intervention wherein the entire audio mix is fed through a contact mic placed in Radwan’s mouth. Moumneh continues to channel his love for Arabic pop and Casio/cassette culture on the silky lo-fi dance of “Lau Ridyou Bil Hijaz?” which opens Side Two, then pays homage to the until-recently-exiled Kurdish poet and singer Sivan Perwer on the traditional-minded, unadorned folk tune “Ta3mani; Ta3meitu”. The album closes with a tour-de-force drone piece built from Bansuri flute (performed by guest player Dave Gossage) and a delicate acoustic number set against the sound of waves recorded on a beach in Lebanon. (Song titles employ the transliterative characters used in Arabic phone texting.)

Coderre’s creation of the album artwork involved re-photographing images on 16mm film and then developing that film with bespoke chemical treatments of his own discovery and invention; the cover images result from this entirely hand-made and analog process. The album art is also an extension of the JIMH raison d’etre: the pursuit of innovative reciprocal relationships between celluloid film and live music performance, and the preservation of and experimentation with manual photographic methods and materials amidst a culture/tech industry that encourages the obsolescence of celluloid.

If He Dies, If If If If If If is an adventurous, scrupulous, impassioned and highly original work of modern contemporary Arabic music and a gratifying sign that Jerusalem In My Heart is situating itself in recorded works with the same thoughtful and dynamic intensity previously accessible only in live performances.

Much of the music described above will be featured in future editions of the Sonic Attack podcast.

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Aural Delights Radio Show – 27th July 2011 – Metal Special

A selection of new releases of the metal kind – but kicking off with a classic from my youth….and before you think I’ve gone slightly potty the words below, are in the most part, from the promos that come with the albums:

  • Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath – band, track and album title – where it all began in reality…….
  • Planks- Tentacles – The Darkest of Greys/Solicit to Fall – Planks are an intense, darkened hardcore/metal band from Germany. This exclusive Southern Lord CD release compiles both The Darkest of Grays 12” and the Solicit to Fall 12”. This is the first time any of their recordings have been available on compact disc. Whether through driving melodies, explosive noise, or the most fragile of interludes, Planks hits hard and resonates deeply within the listener. At the core of the bandís approach is evenly influenced by groups like His Hero is Gone as well as Neurosis and even Dark Throne. Their surging hardcore/punk power chords are forcefully accented by dissonant melodies. http://www.myspace.com/walkingonplanks
  • Seven Sisters of Sleep – Monasteries – Seven Sisters of Sleep –   a new band from Southern California, featuring ex-members of Tafkata and Arm and Sword of the Bastard God. This slef titled debut album is loaded with pulverising riffs and hypnotic drumming in the name of the horned one! Ultra gloomy, subsonic depression delivered with a vicious kick to the skull. The vinyl version of this album was released by A389 records (Ringworm, Integrity, Pulling Teeth)/ www.myspace.com/sevensistersofsleep
  • Xibalba – Fallen – Madre Mia Por Los Dias – another band from Southern California, effectively fuse death metal influences like Sepultura and Obituary with more modern and 90s hardcore. The group’s downtuned, heavy as f*ck music is a force to reckoned with. The old world influence is only evident to the trained eye, but Xibalba gives nods to the hardcore bands they were raised on, and also to the culture which spawned them. The band not only know their roots, but make sure you won’t forget them either. The Madre Mia Por Los Dias CD contains not only the s/t debut album from Xibalba but also the material from the Earthquake comp CD. The vinyl version of this album was also released by A389 records (Ringworm, Integrity, Pulling Teeth).http://www.myspace.com/placeoffear
  • Retox – The World is Ending and It’s About Time – Ugly Animals – a blistering four-piece who made their live debut mere months ago, join Ipecac’s roster with the band’s debut album,Ugly Animals. The band members are Justin Pearson (The Locust, All Leather, Some Girls, Swing Kids), Gabe Serbian (The Locust, Cattle Decapitation, Holy Molar, Rats Eyes), Michael Crain (Festival of Dead Deer) and Thor Dickey. The album was recorded in March with Manny Nieto and Retox co-producing the all analog release.  The band recently released a self-titled EP and completed a UK tour where Midland Rocks succinctly described Retox as “… a punch in our stagnant, mediocre, celebrity-obsessed culture’s face.  Their sound is like a brick wall crashing into a dump truck.  In less than thirty minutes, Retox delivered an intense performance that left the crowd in shock and awe.”
  • Grumbling Fur – Sommaren A|er Ha|er – Furrier – Borne form a day long improvisation in deep dark south London… A smattering of Fins and Englishmen chatter, chant and chime as rail lines whistle and hashclouds billow. Swamped cavernous modes unravel into vistas of blissed kraut mantra and stilted metal drifts. Months pass, O’Sullivan and Uusimaki quietly trundle through the wreck-age with a fine tooth comb assembling the hairy monolith. Scene changes and juxtapositions are magnified, temporal dream states fall deeper into comatosed hypnosis. O’Sullivan and Tucker’s deep psyche vocal duets fly above bubbling hippopotamus pools and humming electric temples. Lethisalo barks the Viking lament from sonic Helheim. ‘Furrier’ basks in astral shade. Featuring Daniel O Sullivan (Ulver, Guapo, Mothlite, Miasma & The Carousel of Headless Horses, Aethenor) Alexander Tucker, Antti Uusimaki (Mothlite, Panic DHH), Jussi Lethisalo (Circle, Pharaoh Overlord) and David Smith (Guapo, Miasma & The Carousel of Headless Horses, The Stargazer’s Assistant and Amal Gamal) this really is a sumptious psyche record, not to be overlooked.
  • Acephalix – In Arms of Nothing – Interminable Night – San Francisco based ACEPHALIX spew forth a stripped-down and tonally obliterating old-school Entombed/Bolt Thrower death metal style infused with West Coast crustpunk angst. Featuring members of Depressor and Vastum, Acephalix deliver a brutal combination of low and metallic distortion, pummelling riffs and gnarled vocals. Interminable Night is a compilation of recently released demos previously available only on cassette. Prepare for audile annihilation! CD limited to 2,000 copies.
  • Alpinist – Nighttime Poet Daytime Dead – Lichtaerm/Minus Mensch – are from Munster Germany, and produce crushingly dark hardcore/crust played with blinding intensity. The band is meant to be understood by those who are sick of following musical trends, those who want to live out music with dedication and those who believe in expressing their own ideals through their own art. Alpinists’ socio-political lyrics are openly and strongly against all forms of fascism, racism, sexism and homophobia. The disc contains both of the band’s albums that were previously only available on limited vinyl releases, making this the first ever CD release from ALPINIST. Limited pressing of 2,000 copies.
  • Drainland – Rebuilding Salem – And So Our Troubles – Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, is the crust behemoth DRAINLAND. And So Our Troubles Began is a compilation of two previously released vinyl-only releases. DRAINLAND’S intense (ins)urgency is saturated with the crushing sludge of Eyehategod and the crusty punk filthiness of His Hero is Gone. This release will be a one-time, limited CD pressing of 1000.
  • Mark Deutrom – Buried in the Jewel – The Value of Decay – he fourth solo release from the veteran noisemonger, The Value of Decay’s bizarre passages are alive with creepy, quirky and off-kilter anti-riffage over its 15-track cerebral assassination. Deutrom, having helped found West Coast hardcore act Clown Alley in the early ’90s, is most widely known for his time spent in the Melvins in the mid-’90s, with their Prick, Stoner Witch, Stag, Honky and Alive at the Fucker Club albums. Mark D also bears producer credits under his belt for massively influential albums including the Melvins’ Ozmaand Gluey Porch Treatments LPs, RKL’s Rock n Roll NightmareLP, Raw Power’s Mine To Kill and Too Tough to Burn albums, and Neurosis’ almighty 1998 Pain Of Mind release. Presently Deutrom runs with his new band The County Bucks and continues to create musical chaos on many other levels.
  • Ramesses – Towers of Silence – Possessed by the rise of Magick – The time has come to unleash Possessed By The Rise Of Magik, the eagerly anticipated, brand new full length from the widely acclaimed metal alchemists, Ramesses. The Chrome Pineal LP unearthed an even more experimental side to Ramesses, whilst Possessed… takes these more progressive tendencies into a whole other realm, and they sound all the more refreshing for it. The album begins with Ramesses’ trademark retro doom rock on the tracks ‘Invisible Ritual’ and ‘Towers Of Silence’. As the album unfolds, the music slips into a slow psychedelic groove, revealing spell-binding psyche-folk melodies, most affecting on the tracks ‘Duel’ and ‘Safety In Numbness’ which, together with the 11+ minute eponymous monster are amongst the stand-out tracks on the album. Enormous churning riffs and soaring mournful guitar harmonies still encase the album, with rasping horror versus dream-state vocals, and ancient ceremonial yet savage drum beats that could summon demons from the very depths of hell. Not just a title, Possessed By The Rise Of Magik is more a statement in response to the cathartic affects of this album, once you submit yourselves, it is impossible to resist its deadly charms. It sees the band capturing the ritualistic side of their nature to great effect without resorting to costumes props and make-up. They incorporate the ideas, images and symbols of influential occult British artist Austin Osman Spare into their own spaced-out grim craft to create a new magikal language (the spelling of the word as ‘magik’ as opposed to the traditional ‘magic’ or Crowley’s own ‘magick’ reflects this thought process). Recording in trances and automatic writing are key techniques in the creation of this next step in the Ram family’s journey to the end! As affecting and visceral as Take the Curse and all that has gone before, Possessed… affirms Ramesses’ place as one of the UK’s most forward thinking metal bands. Bang thy head!
  • Horse Latitudes – Hornblas – Gathering – from Finland and its another exceptional outfit. The band consists of Harri on drums and vocals, with Heidi and Vellu both playing bass. The CD is on the Aurora Borealis label with a vinyl version to follow very soon according to their press page.
  • Dog Kicked In Half – Simon Weston – EP3023 – I can’t remember who recommended this to me but it’s a rather fine release on Bandcamp.
  • Zomes – Pilgrim Traveller – Earth Grid – Earth Grid, Zomes second solo album, is the culmination of Asa Osborne’s (no relation I hasten to add) years of exploring meditative modal models. Written, played, and recorded entirely at home on cassette tape, Earth Grid, is an intimate and intentionally primitive recording.
To listen to the sh0w click on the link below