Imagine yourself in the middle of a frozen wasteland, far from civilization. The snow has accumulated tremendously and has swallowed your feet completely. The bitter wind swarms about you, threatening to peel the skin from your face. You finally collapse in a heap from exhaustion and starvation. Unseen wild animals can be heard issuing their hunting cries in the distance. You are convinced that the end is nigh and you begin making amends with whichever god you believe in. The debut album from self-proclaimed “winterdoom” outfit Phantom Winter, “Cvlt”, recreates this scenario through their haunting compositions. Born out of the ashes of German post-metal group Omega Massif, Phantom Winter aim to rip any shred of hope you have in you and leave you for dead.
Whenever Aaron Turner attaches his name to a musical project, people take notice. Whether it be the forward-thinking metal compositions of Isis, the sludgy monkey-business of Old Man Gloom, the haunting drones of Mamiffer, the hardcore-tinged debauchery of Split Cranium and others, it’s hard to deny Turner’s musical prowess. So when Sumac was announced, everyone, including myself, was instilled with insurmountable excitement. Turner is joined by the equally proficient Brian Cook (Russian Circles, Botch, etc) and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists), and the end-result is absolutely tremendous. Brimming with complexity and colossal heaviness, The Deal delivers the all the goods in a jam-packed 54-minute duration.
I was introduced to the eccentric yet virulent sounds of Muck sometime last year, when a friend randomly sent me the link to their 2012 full length, Slaves. The Icelandic quartet’s music immediately struck a chord with me with its erratic, complex instrumentation and general wackiness. Obvious reference points would be Coalesce, Botch and the like. But upon further inspection, one could see this wasn’t just rehashed mathcore sensibilities. Slaves definitely had a personality all its own. Muck return this year with the record’s follow up and it most certainly delivers. But rather than just rewrite Slaves, Muck opt for something a little familiar yet different at the same time. Much like its predecessor, Your Joyous Future is a unique animal.
The illustration of the woman about to have her throat sliced open by an unknown assailant is probably the best visual representation of Cowards‘ second full length album, Rise to Infamy. The Parisian quintet is said assailant; swift, cunning, merciless and violent. They attack when you least expect them and you won’t find time to recover from the initial blows before being subjected to more unhinged violence. A slashed throat will honestly be the least of your worries. The murderer analogy serves to prove that Cowards are no band to be taken lightly. Rise to Infamy is a dark and gritty record whose sole goal is carnage.
Dead In The Manger made an interesting entrance last year with the release of their debut, six-track EP, Transience. The band, who remain shrouded in anonymity, combined blistering black metal instrumentation with the ferocity and hyper-speed rhythms of grindcore. The six-movement record was immediate and dismal, as one would expect from a grind/black metal hybrid. To follow up that release, Dead In The Manger have crafted another six-track album that will, once again, drag you into the deepest depths of a blackened abyss.
When California sludge/doom outfit Black Sheep Wall announce the title of their third full length to be I’m Going to Kill Myself, my curiosity was piqued. When the doomsayers revealed the record’s cartoonish cover art, my anticipation grew further. This playfulness is something to be expected out of the same band who have songs by the names of “Lamb…Gayyyy” and “Ancient Fvck”. But the black comedy angle is merely a facade to lure the unexpected into a full 63 minutes of oppressive sludge that is no laughing matter. Colossal riffs unleash a relentlessly sadistic, repetitious beating that never seems to stop. It’s almost akin to be stricken with mental illness in which unhealthy thoughts constantly batter your psyche until you reach the point where committing suicide is the only thing that will bring you relief.
When musical minds of various ilks come together, one can only assume that the byproduct of their union is one that is equally varied and experimental in scope. Anatomy of Habit is just that. The Chicago-based quintet is comprised of members who have shared their time in acts like Tortoise, Indian, Bloodyminded, Joan of Arc and Radar Eyes. With each member coming from a completely different musical background, what could their collective compositions sound like? The answer(s) is epic, dark, sprawling, traumatic and multifaceted. Ciphers + Axioms, the band’s proper sophomore full length is all of the adjectives previously listed and more. The 42 minute behemoth of an album effectively avoids being pigeonholed into one specific genre and provides enough twists and turns to keep the listener on the edge of their feet and interested despite the lengthy durations of the tracks.
Two of the strongest up-and-coming powerviolence/fastcore bands decide to team up and release a 7″ together, you say? 9 songs in less than 8 minutes, you say?
Please, go on.