After seven years of relative silence since their debut, the excellently monikered TheMound Builders use the opening minute of their self-titled sophomore album (Failure Records and Tapes) to well and truly set the scene. There’s a triumphant opening chord ringing out, with more than a hint of Volume 4 (Vertigo) about its tone, Ryan Strawsma hits a vintage clanking bass run and the swinging drums come in. By the time Jim Voelz’ raw shouts come in on top, we’re well underway to establishing this is going to be a fun, riffy, High On Fire fuelled uptempo Sludge Metal romp, with all the essential hints of Hardcore to pepper things up. Continue reading →
Before you sink your teeth into this, let me make a quick disclaimer for those of you looking for a standard review. This ain’t it. If you want to read, ad nauseam, about each band that played, who was good, who wasn’t, what songs they played or how many bands are “female fronted,” have female members or where any of these bands are from I can guarantee you a quick internet search will get you your fix somewhere. If you are looking for someone to tell you what any of the bands sound like, look like or act like then here is a novel idea, buy their music, go to a show and form an opinion for yourself. No offense intended to anyone writing something like that or looking for that kind of thing but you won’t find it here because I don’t feel like writing something everyone else has or will. (Offense intended to anyone still finding some ridiculous need to write or read about bands being “female fronted.” Fuck off.)
Psycho Las Vegas 2017 will be taking place from August 18th-20th at the Hard Rock Hotel And Casino Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada. The initial lineup seemed to feature every band ever, but now they’ve added Mastodon as the final headliner, and it’s officially one of the sickest bills ever created. Continue reading →
Sadly, here is where we start reaching the beginning of the end, the last day of Maryland Deathfest. After icing my foot, I hurried off with a friend over at the fest because we had another friend who had their car short out and we were coming to the rescue. Conveniently for them at least, they were parked right in front of the Edison Lot, so when their problem was dealt with, we power walked inside to catch the opener for the day, Australia’s Denouncement Pyre. I had been a huge fan of them since I had heard Almighty Arckanum in 2013, so when they were announced for MDF, I made their set a priority, and it was well worth the struggle of waking up early on a Sunday. From there came the band Shed the Skin, featuring members of Incantation and Ringworm, and other Australian black metallers Nocturnal Graves. During these bands, I went around on another food hunt, and found a stand in the lot that was selling deep-fried dumplings filled with different things. I spent almost the rest of my food budget on food just from this place, those deep-fried cheesesteak balls were some of the best food I could find during the fest.
Wombbath, by Hillarie Jason
Once I devoured those, I went up to the barrier to get a good spot for Wombbath to get my daily dose of Swedish death metal, and their début album Internal Caustic Torments was one of the first old school death metal records I heard, so I was very happy to find out they not only reunited, but were playing MDF! These guys haven’t missed a beat, I would not have been able to tell that they had broken up with how well they sounded and performed. When they were done, Desaster came thrashing out of the woodwork to the pleasant surprise of many, putting on a fantastic set and not missing a beat with their song. Around this point in the day, clouds began to form and the rain began to start, but that didn’t stop Bongzilla, or as frontman Mike Makela said during their set, “Weedeater without the Weedeater”, from busting out the fuzzy stoner metal that had been lacking from the fest since Thursday. We were then treated to even more delectable death metal courtesy of Sweden’s Interment, whose eerie guitar tone and almost d-beat style drumming makes the band sound like they could be the soundtrack of a horror movie, which is something I can really dig.
Phobocosm, by Hillarie Jason
Once Interment finished, the rain began to really pick up, and instead of sticking it out, I decided to head over to the Soundstage, where I happened to catch Putrescence, some quality Canadian grindcore. I didn’t know much about him, and they put on a pretty decent performance, but unfortunately I went on to find out that MDF was their last performance as a band, so I’m kind of glad to have caught them when I had the chance. After them came Test, who were a two piece grindcore band from Brazil. They honestly blew me away with their performance, because it was so unique for a band like them. One minute they would just be noodling around and seeming like they were going to do some sort of an indie song, then the drummer would just start blasting as fast as he possibly could with the guitarist following suit. They would just flawlessly mix from sounding so light and smooth into relentless, muddy, disgusting metal, and it sounded just incredible. They definitely won over the crowd with their set. I proceeded to pound back some water and walk over to Rams Head to see Phobocosm setting up for their set. Even though their sound was a little muddy from the overbearing bass, they still put on a hell of a performance.
Mitochondrion, by Hillarie Jason
Once they were done, I went back to Soundstage to catch one of my most hyped sets of the weekend, Tragedy. Now, I have been a Tragedy fan for years, but unfortunately missed every chance I have had to see them when they have come around, so I was not letting this opportunity slip through my fingers. When those first notes to ‘Conflicting Ideas’ came in, I knew I was gonna be in for a rowdy time. After getting out my elation in the pit, I left to Rams Head, because they unfortunately had to put Mitochondrion on at the same time, and I’ve been waiting to see them even longer than I have wanted to see Tragedy! Mitochondrion were destructive, and somehow sounded even cleaner live than on record, which for their style of death metal, is rather impressive to pull off. Once their set ended, I decided to finally have dinner at the most illustrious of establishments: Subway. Once I got my fuel, I went to Soundstage to prepare myself for the crust overlords Doom to take the stage. As soon as they started, the whole front area turned into mass chaos, with beers, bodies, and objects just flying all over the venue, the pit turning into an ice rink from all of the spilled drinks. Mysterious odors aside, Doom’s set was incredible and probably the funnest of the weekend. Once they finished, I went to Rams Head to catch the last band of the weekend, Brazil’s own Mystifier. Mystifier falls into the category of bands I have heard of before, but know nothing about musically that blow me away, which is something that MDF seems to have a plethora of. Their fast and angry style of black metal is the type that is always right up my alley, and even though I was absolutely exhausted, I got really into their set.
Doom, by Hillarie Jason
Excel, by Hillarie Jason
Zhrine, by Hillarie Jason
Venom, by Hillarie Jason
Maryland Deathfest 14 crowd, by Hillarie Jason
Demolition Hammer, by Hillarie Jason
Testament, by Hillarie Jason
With the last note of Mystifier’s set, MDF XIV had officially come to a close. This year, they had a post-show matinee as well, but for many of us, that was the end. At least until next year, for the 15th anniversary of Maryland Deathfest! I can only wonder who they are going to book for next year, but regardless of who they get, I’m gonna work my hardest to make my way down again, and I encourage anyone to do the same. If you even have the thought “Maybe I should go down this year…”, just do it, it’s worth the trip.
Not wanting to miss a thing, I woke up bright and early to go on a hunt for food then head to the Edison Lot. Roaming the streets, I went to a restaurant called Big Apple Tree café, which offered deliciously cheap food and some of the best fries I’ve ever had. After gorging myself, I sped over to get myself a decent spot for South Carolina OSDM revivalists Horrendous, who opened their set with their rager “The Stranger” and were one of my personal highlights of the weekend. After them came some actual old school death metal courtesy of Sweden’s Centinex and Chicago natives Novembers Doom. Alien death metallers Wormed came out after the finished and went straight in, with their technical yet brutal riffing and robotic voices throwing the crowd into a frenzy. Their set consisted mostly of material from their new album, Krighsu, but they did play some older tunes like ‘Nucleon’ as well, which really god the crowd going.
Novembers Doom, by Hillarie Jason
When they finished, I went to buy myself a delicious sno-ball from the snowcone truck set up in Edison, which was a refreshing way to fuel up considering how hot it was outside on the concrete. I then sauntered over to the Soundstage while on the hunt for some fine dinner, which I found at downtown spot Chicken Rico, right across the street from the Soundstage. A fat burrito and fries for $8? Sign me up! After eating, I went inside to the venue, which essentially became my second home for the 4 days, and TheAfternoon Gentlemen were getting ready to start. Having seen these guys just days earlier opening for Weekend Nachos, I was excited to see them again, and their set at MDF was even better, albeit less crazy of a crowd. Ohio grinders Hemdale went on after them, and their grimy style of deathgrind got the crowd moving hard, and their preachings between songs of “Fuck The Internet” being echoed throughout the rest of the night.
Infest, by Hillarie Jason
German fastcore juggernauts Yacopsae kept the party going, with circle pits and stage dives abound. Unfortunately, this was where things went a little over the top, and I ended up trapped at the bottom of a 20-man pile up, ending up with a pretty gnarly foot injury. However, I wasn’t gonna let that stop me, so I got out, put some ice on it for about 30 minutes, then hopped right back into the fray for both Magrudergrind (who brought out Joe Denunzio from Infest to do guest vocals at the end) and Finnish HM-2 maniacs Rotten Sound, with their buzzsaw guitars and relentless blasting making the venue into a warzone. When they finished, the adrenaline began to wear off, and I’d become a hobbling flamingo all around the streets. Due to my injuries, I opted to head over to Rams Head and see Angelcorpse since they had seats, and while many were ecstatic to see them, I was only really familiar with them by name. They tore into their set with aggressive solos and nonstop in-your-face death metal, and they were only a three-piece, which caught me off guard considering how intense their sound was. They brought night 2 to a close, and I limped and skipped the way back, getting myself ready for day 3.
Rotten Sound, by Hillarie Jason
Hellbringer, by Hillarie Jason
Waking up and seeing that my foot was multiple shades of purple and yellow should have been more alarming for me, but I decided it wasn’t gonna keep me from enjoying myself, so I iced it then went back for round 3 of shenanigans. Kicking off day 3 were Australia’s Hellbringer, whose fresh mix of black metal and thrash was a good way to wake up the crowd! After them came Sweden’s own Demonical, who I caught much of, but the Pad That I bought from one of the vendors unfortunately did not agree all too well with me, and I fled over to the Soundstage for some relief. After, I ended up hanging around for a little while and caught Whoresnation from France and Priapus from North Carolina, two bands from two different areas, both providing their own 1-2 punch of grind to the face.
Angelcorpse, by Hillarie Jason
Once they were done, I decided to head back to the Edison Lot and ee what was going on and find friends. Luckily I made it just in time to see California thrash legends Hirax take the stage and deliver a blisteringly fast set in equally as hot weather. The thrash didn’t stop there, with Arizona’s Atrophy coming out and delivering their own style of thrash metal. I personally wasn’t into their set, so I decided to head over to HeadBangin Hot Dogs and got myself a Vegan hot dog to help curb the hunger pangs along with a strawberry lemonade from the Asian food stand to cool off from the heat. I eventually went back to the Soundstage and caught the last bit of Severed Head of State, featuring Todd Burdette of Tragedy/His Hero Is Gone fame, while waiting to the reason I came back, Despise You, to come on stage. The powerviolence OG’s came out to a rabid crowd, and their fast, angry, unrelenting style of hardcore brought everyone to go insane from the first note until the very end.
Centinex, by Hillarie Jason
The insanity didn’t stop there, with General Surgery coming out and busting out the chainsaw sounds with their HM-2 tinged deathgrind while dressed up and coated in fake blood. As soon as they stopped, I ran to Rams Head to catch Vancouver’s Auroch, who shares members with fellow contemporaries Mitochondrion, and sonically it is very easy to see, with the overwhelming, dark guitar tone and nonstop blasting, but slightly thrashier than them. I then went back to the Soundstage to catch the crazy Spaniards Haemorrhage, who were all decked out in doctor’s outfits and scrubs except for the lead singer, who was coated in fake blood running around with a plastic bloody leg. From there, things just went to the next level, with Infest just going absolutely bonkers. Even though they started about 20 minutes later than planned, they just went right into things and did not stop at all, with trash cans and people going flying. I unfortunately had to leave before it ended to catch the second half of Grave Miasma’s set, whose doomier approach to recently growing trend of cavernous death metal was much welcome, and incredibly heavy, with the band having a very dominating stage presence, playing with little lighting and letting the music speak for itself.
Dragged Into Sunlight, by Hillarie Jason
When they finished, the stage crew then began to set up for Dragged Into Sunlight. I had heard a lot about their live performances, and I was a big fan of their music, but nothing could have prepared me for what I was to witness. 5 minutes of feedback and noise, with the solitary lighting coming from strobes behind the drummer, the dimmest red stage lights possible, and the candlelight from the animal skull candlestand at the front of the stage. Then, the samples start, the first notes of ‘To Hieron’ begin, and they kick in to what may well have been the heaviest thing that I have ever witnessed. I felt like I was slowly being driven into a state of insanity watching them, with the vitriolic screaming of the vocalist, the lack of lighting, how loud and abrasive they were, and the lack of acknowledgment of the crowd, playing almost entirely with their backs turned. Besides the one drunk guy trying to bombard to the front who eventually got carried out by a multitude of people for his behavior and the pit going on, everyone else was just entrenched into the performance going on in front of us. Near the end, the lights were cut, so the only source was the strobe going off behind the drummer. Their set was easily the highlight of the fest, and may very well have been the best set I’ve seen from a band. Craft went on after them, and while they were good sonically, they didn’t really have much of a stage presence, which really dampened their performance, and after Dragged Into Sunlight, as far as my brain and ears were concerned, we were done for the day.
Ahhh, Maryland Deathfest, one of the most wonderful times of the year. Nothing but a vacation consisting of metal, drinking, debauchery, eating deliciously unhealthy fest food, and raging with friends. For those of you not in the know, Maryland Deathfest (abbreviated as MDF) is a 4 day heavy metal festival held over Memorial Day Weekend in Baltimore and is often called the biggest metal festival in America, bringing international bands and fans alike for the metal fueled weekend. For many of these bands, MDF is their first time playing in the United States, and some who would otherwise never play the States will often do one-offs just for the festival, with past acts including Asphyx, Ihsahn, Godflesh, and Electric Wizard. The fest is held across 4 different stages, 2 outdoor and 2 indoor venues, Baltimore Soundstage and Rams Head Live, with the former being more for grind and hardcore, while Rams Head is more for black and death metal.
My first exposure to MDF was in 2012, but it was always just a pipe dream until 2015 when I finally made the pilgrimage along with thousands of other metal fans to the mystical land of Baltimore, and it was one of the best weekends of my life. I got to meet a multitude of people from all over and made friends with a variety of characters, many of whom I had gotten to reconnect with this year, go on hunts throughout the city to find cheap food, and see bands I thought would never play again, let alone play the states (it still blows my mind that I got to see Demilich, Anaal Nathrakh and Portal, all in the same day, no less)!. After the time I had, I just knew I needed to come back next year. It almost didn’t happen, but I manage to put together the trip at the last-minute, and boy, was it worth it! I’ve been to multiple festivals across a variety of genres, but none of them compare to the intensity and pure joy that MDF brings, and my experience this year was no different! Now, on to my actual fun at the fest!
Day 1 is very different setup wise compared to the rest of the fest. Normally, there’s a mixture of different genres sprinkled on every stage each day, but this day is set up where only the 2 indoor venues are open, and one is exclusively stoner/sludge/doom, while the other is in-your-face brutal death metal. Opening up the festival were Baltimore hometown heroes Visceral Disgorge on the Soundstage, making their MDF début. I had been hyped to see these guys since they released their début (and currently only) album Ingesting Putridity back in 2011, and they absolutely did not disappoint, ripping through their set with ferocity as well as hilarity, with the vocalist cracking jokes about their song titles such as “Spastic Anal Lacerations”.
Visceral Disgorge, by Hillarie Jason
After their set, I made my way over to Rams Head to catch a bit of Crypt Sermon, a Philly-based doom band that reminded me a bit of Candlemass mixed a little with Warning. Personally, not my style of doom, so I ended up leaving to go catch scum grinders Waco Jesus. I wasn’t too familiar musically, but they caught my attention and I was pleasantly surprised. They ripped through song after song, with the vocalist making the occasional joke about the amount of women in the crowd and quips about having them flash them, or at the least show them a foot.
Crypt Sermon, by Hillarie Jason
Bongripper, by Hillarie Jason
When they finished, I retreated back to Rams Head to catch part of Buzzoven’s set, but mainly to get a good spot for Chicago’s Bongripper, who were one of my most hyped bands of the fest. Flying through a crushing 3-song, 45-minute set, they were easily the loudest band of the day, with the bass in particular being able to level the venue on its own. Opening with “Hail”, the band just dominated that stage and did not stop until the last note of their song ‘Worship’, then gave their thanks and walked off. One thing I took note of was that they were the only band there that were selling their own merch, going back after their set to hang out with the fans after the bombardment their merch table received. Proceeding them were North Carolina natives Weedeater, whose fuzz-fueled set included hits such as ‘God Luck and Good Speed’ and ‘Weed Monkey’, and after their set I went to see California slammers Disgorge, where their set turned into a party, with circle pits and glow sticks flying everywhere.
Weedeater, by Hillarie Jason
Italian maestros Goblin led by Claudio Simonetti then took the Rams Head stage, and knowing nothing about him besides that they composed soundtracks to horror movies, I was immediately sucked into their performance. The visuals they had came from the different movies, such as Dawn Of The Dead and Suspiria, and they synced everything flawlessly with what was going on, and I was kicking myself for not knowing more about them earlier. Catching the beginning few minutes of Severe Torture, I closed out my night with Earth, and their droning, minimalistic, yet loud riffs was a perfect way to unwind and end the first day of MDF.
With a track record that dates all the way back to 1993, it’s a testament to perseverance and dedication that T. Roy,the only and founding member of Sourvein,has continued to fuel his project through record label instability and periods of severe depression. It’s no wonder he has earned such a respected reputation in the world of sludge and doom, right up along side the fellow North Carolina lords of Buzzov*en.
With a new home on Metal BladeRecords, Sourvein releases their fourth full-length album Aquatic Occult featuring an impressive array of helping hands including, but not limited to, Randy Blythe of Lamb of God, Dean Berry of Iron Monkey and Stig Miller of Amebix.
As the name implies, Aquatic Occult is musically conceptualized around the theme of water, with samplings clearly heard in the opening track ‘Tempest (Of Desire)’ and closing track ‘Oceanic Procession’. A clear homage to their coastal origin Cape Fear NC, all the tracks are given aquatic names and the track names themselves can be an indicator of what kind of intensity to expect upon listening.
For example, the first single ‘Occypus’ (featuring Randy Blythe), with it’s maximally distorted riffage and aggressively thickened growls, represents fierceness and unpredictability – which is an accurate interpretation of an octopus. As opposed to the out-of-the-box track ‘Mermaids’ with its clean reverb-inflected vocals and whiny drawn out riffs, it can be interpreted to represent the mystical creature although this track is the weakest on this album.
However, it’s quite apparent throughout the album that the ability to memorably heavy guitar riffs comes easily to T. Roy. If you are as heavily into sludge as myself, you know how important it is for a slow chugging riff to be as blood curdling as possible. The heavy hitters on this album are ‘Hymn to Poseidon’, ‘In The Wind’ and ‘Urchins,’ featuring the most soul-crushing riffs so far this year. The more pensive doom tracks on this album lie within ‘Cape Fearian’, channeling the Judgement-era Anathema with its dark celtic melody, and ‘Bermuda Showdown’, channeling Neurosis-style minimalistic grooves with hesitant military drums marching alongside it.
The entire album is infested with T. Roy’s yells of his true realities and misfortunes, but he makes it clear that there is a light at the end of his tunnel. And although this honest album does have a few questionable lapses in production, Sourvein’s Aquatic Occult is a great fourth LP release and you’d be crazy to not look forward to more.
With their full-fat sludge sound and grizzled appearance, Howl certainly look like your average Relapse band. That’s far from a criticism as the aforementioned label has an unbeaten knack for putting out killer records that sound like they were recorded in a swamp, and the fact that Howl hail from Providence, Rhode Island suggests that location is no barrier to those who want to tune down and riff for Dixie. Continue reading →