Zvi is the pseudonym under which guitarist Ron Varod crafts his aching, abysmal dirges. Varod has been linked to his work as the guitarist and vocalist of So is the Tongue and currently swings his axe with the avant-garde heavyweights Kayo Dot. One could attribute the sound of Zvi to the time Varod spent in both of the aforementioned bands. But the overall product is much darker and sinister than a lot of the music put out by both musical outfits, if you can believe that.
It’s been roughly seven years since the release of Bird Eater’s debut EP, Utah; a release that unfortunately flew under the radar as sister band Gaza was making their ascension into the “limelight”. Utah’s blend of death metal, metallic hardcore, sludge, and western influences was a slight contrast to the dissonant chaos of Gaza, of which Bird Eater shares two members. The band’s long awaited, recently released debut full length succeeds in further distancing the band stylistically from their sister band. Dead Mothers Make the Sun Set shows Bird Eater really growing into their sound and harnessing it for the goal of beating you to death.
When it comes to metalcore, upbeat riffing with clean singing and deathcore chugging…I usually do my eye roll and move on to the next album submission. Yet, Quebec’s The Prestige is something I can not only listen to and tolerate….but somewhat enjoy.
The majority of the nation is freezing. Flurries of white powder from Hell are accumulating in mass quantities in certain corners of the U.S. It’s become so cold in those areas that the snuggie your significant other bought you (the things you always thought were a joke until you realized how comfortable they are) cannot bring you any solace. You’re wondering what you can do to stay warm without running up your electricity bill? An easy answer; listen to Godhunter. Tuscon’s purveyor’s of sludgy goodness have harnessed the intense Arizonian heat within every note. Godhunter’s debut full length, City of Dust, is so thick with heaviness that you will forget about the severity of the weather for a good 50 minutes.
I remember stumbling upon the Connecticut duo Have a Nice Life randomly about four years ago. I was perusing the internet, doing Satan knows what, and came across a picture of Aaron Turner (Isis, Hydra Head, etc) wearing a Have a Nice Life t-shirt. I was strangely drawn to the name, so I did a little research and found their 2008 album Deathconsciousness; the debut full length that started their “cult” following. The album was certainly ambitious and not just for being a double album. The album’s amalgamation of drone, post-punk, Gothic rock, noise, shoegaze and so one, was definitely something I had not beheld before. I honestly regret not learning of the band sooner. Since that album, Have a Nice Life’s activity has been fairly sparse, besides the 2010 Time of Land EP. Tim Macuga and Dan Barrett have been using their time in other various side projects, such as Giles Corey and The Flowers of St. Francis. But this year the duo reunited by fate, as a song title suggests, to release Have a Nice Life’s long awaited sophomore album. The Unnatural World takes what the band have done in the past and progress it ten steps further; even rivaling that of their 2008 cult classic.
It’s always refreshing to see sludge or doom metal bands thinking outside of the box and not rehashing the familiar nuances of many bands before them. Chicago’s Indian is one of those bands who stand out of the doom pack for sure; always verging on the edge of blackened malevolence. The band’s 2011 album Guiltless showed the band’s first voyage into a more darker realm than heard on their previous releases. This year’s From All Purity is next step in their blackened exploration and makes Guiltless sound weak in comparison. From All Purity is a 40 minute, debilitating monstrosity that will envelop you in choking blackness.
As far as instrumental rock is concerned, Scotland’s Mogwai have always been in the upper echelon. The band’s continuing stylistic evolution helps them distance themselves from your average post-rock categorized band. Album after album, Mogwai add something new to their musical repertoire and create a full length that is alien and familiar at the same time. 2011′s Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will represented yet another new chapter for the band. Compared to 2008′s The Hawk is Howling, the instrumentation was more on the subdued side, but without sacrificing any of the band’s lavish songwriting. The bursts of heavy guitar mastery were replaced, for the most part, by bright selections of melody and driving, alternative rock rhythms. It was a little different but something you would expect to hear Mogwai do. With this year’s Rave Tapes, the band takes a step in a slightly new direction. Forget what you heard on Hardcore Will Never Die, because Rave Tapes is a new animal all together.
El Drugstore formed around 2008 by past and present members of New Jersey progressive outfit East of the Wall and have remained a rather silent entity since their inception. The trio of riff-manglers have released a handful of stand alone tracks and a split EP with noisy duo A Fucking Elephant, but are still relatively unknown despite being attached to East of the Wall, whose notoriety is slowly growing. But El Drugstore are bound and determined to change that with their mind-boggling full length debut, Plague Ship. The common brain is not prepared for this massive forty-five minutes of eccentric complexity and intricate musicianship.
With two solid full length under their belt (The Order of the False Eye and Quasi-Hallucinogenic Sonic Landscapes), Gigan can either release another brain-splitting opus or a big flop. If Quasi-Hallucinogenic Sonic Landscapes was any indication, then a big flop is out of the question for these tech-metal miscreants. How do you follow up an adventurous, maddeningly complex record? With another even more adventurous and maddeningly complex record! Enter Multi-Dimensional Fractal Sorcery and Super Science, the third and possibly most exciting Gigan album to date. These eight new tracks continue to place Gigan as one of the more interesting technical metal bands of recent years.
Excuse me, but how would you like your brain demolished this evening? Well, Seizures prefers to deep-fry the brain in abrasive song structures, beat it to a paste with the finest riffs that chaotic hardcore can buy, and served with a side of experimentation. Cheesy restaurant metaphors aside, that is the gist of what California’s hardcore quintet Seizures has to offer. The Sanity Universal is the group’s sophomore album and follow up to 2011′s Antipathy. Antipathy was a good album, but nothing that really enthralled me personally. The Sanity Universal is an entirely different story. I do not know what happened or who lost their mind during the years between the two albums but this record is absolutely viscous. There are a number of “chaotic hardcore”/”metallic hardcore” bands that are derived from the sounds of Botch and Converge but Seizures are shaping up to be an entirely new beast. Prepare your body because the next hour you belong Seizures and you are not going to escape without a few bruises.
Seattle’s curators of drug-induced noise rock for coke parties, Monogamy Party, are a relatively new band whose scuzzy brand eccentric rock is sure to be devoured happily by the psychotic and deranged, like myself. Monogamy Party was already noisy and erratic enough with just bass, drums and vocals on their debut EP Pus City. On their debut full length False Dancers, they welcome the addition of new guitarist Ricky and his wacky riffs that drip with psychoses. If you haven’t given this band a chance yet, now maybe the time.
Each subsequent album since their 2006 debut Enter has propelled Russian Circles to the forefront of dynamic instrumental metal and rock with the likes of Pelican, Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. With each release it seems the Chicagoan trio offer a good amount of familiarity with a nice touch of experimentation, and their fifth full length Memorial is no exception. Their 2011 album Empros was quite possibly their heaviest piece of work but Memorial might just be their most dynamic and varied to date.
With the release of 2010′s Ressentiment, the name “East of the Wall” began to be tossed around in small circles within the heavy music universe on the net and by word of mouth. That sophomore effort was garnered with high praise and the following record The Apologist was met with the same, if not more positive press. The hype truly holds up because the New Jersey quintet are definitely one of the more forward thinking “progressive” metal acts to come around in quite some time. 2013 marks a new chapter in East of the Wall’s existence, for the outfit was recently wrought with lineup changes and rotations. Members were lost and members were gained. Redaction Artifacts, their fourth full length, is the first to feature new lead guitarist Ray Suhy, new guitarist and clean vocalist Greg Kutler, and first time for previous guitarist/vocalist Chris Alfano to handle bass duties. Redaction Artifacts is the byproduct of extensive inner band renovation but it definitely pays off in the end.
The three track EP Master, We Perish, was only the tip of the iceberg destined to wreck the ship that is our psyches. The purveyors of apocalyptic dread, The Body, have unleashed ten new End Time hymns that collectively make up their third full length album Christs, Redeemers. Once again, the Portland duo have created an album that truly captures the feelings of insurmountable isolation, dread and hatred.