A début EP can be a very worthwhile investment for a new band, indeed. A chance to introduce the world to their sound and style, without having to commit to (or wait until you’ve written) a full albums worth of material; a chance to not just test the water, but begin to feel out what really works and what doesn’t within a band’s prospective oeuvre. And in the case of Godthrymm, boasting a cast of talented beasts a-plenty, they’ve more than made the most of the opportunity to plant their dark and melancholic flag. Continue reading
It is not often that I ever get the chance to listen to split albums, let alone review one. Fortunately, the powers that be here at Ghost Cult have awarded me such a chance with the bleak, yet satisfying, Split (Halo of Flies) from Primitive Man and Northless. Primitive Man punches out a fifteen minute track while Northless made three tracks for the recording (receiving about fifteen minutes of total play time). Comparing the tracks was an adventure to say the least especially where both bands dabble in the world of sludge metal, yet have such differing overall sounds.
Primitive Man’s sole track on the split, ‘Empty Husk’, is a fifteen minute descent into absolute hatred and depression. For a quarter of an hour, the Denver natives beat the unholy Hell out of your ears and very soul. A steady tempo is kept throughout the track until its sudden ending. Northless then gets up to bat with three tracks, ‘Deleted Heartstrings’ , ‘The 10,000 Year Wound’ , and ‘Wasted Breath’. The Milwaukee residents of sludge and post-metal really bring the same intensity their partners did on the split, but bring it with even more chaos. Thunderous drum work mixed in with what seems like schizophrenic guitar riffs really give off an eerie vibe on all of three tracks. The second track hits the breaks a little in terms of tempo but the overall attitude remains the same as it picks up in the second half. The last track has a much more post-metal and melancholy feel compared to the first two. The final two minutes or so brings in a crescendo that speeds you up until slamming into a wall to end the album.
The hardest part about this split and reviewing it was trying to determine how to grade it. Most often I receive full lengths and the occasional EP. I found this split to be enjoyable from both artists involved and each of the four total tracks stand out and I found were memorable. Clearly I need to invest more time in both of these bands since both are clearly good at their craft.
Grindcore is not a genre renowned for embracing diversity. Sure, there are degrees of complexity, sub-sub genres (the much reviled Goregrind and unbelievably-somehow-even-worse Pornogrind being tragic examples) and bands who’ve found their own sound, but the basic template laid down by Siege, Deep Wound and the original Napalm DeathThe Peel Sessions (Strange Fruit) is as relevant to the genre now as it ever was.
Which makes Cloud Rat both extremely important and extremely difficult to describe, because their thoughtful, reflective Grind manages to capture musical territory that is both recognisably Grindcore and recognisably different. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how they accomplish this – they slow down quite a lot, but that’s hardly a new thing; sure, they use spoken word sections and Dark Ambient elements, but again Grind’s involvement with Noise is hardly new. It’s more the way these elements are used, not to crush or destroy but to create a sense of distance and space, which is then contrasted with the more genre-conventional violence and blasting to heighten the impact of both. “Contemplative” is not a word you might ever have expected to read in a Grindcore review, but for Cloud Rat it honestly fits.
Their third full-length album (fifth if you count odds-and-sods collection Fever Dreams and Blind River) since 2010, Qliphoth (all Halo of Flies/IFB) is a snapshot of a ferociously dedicated and hardworking band continuing to carve out their own unique sense of what Grindcore can be. It’s a varied collection, its songs as meandering and reflective as my raiding-the-thesaurus-for-words-that-mean-thoughtful would have you expect, while still as savage and devastating as a Grind album should be. Anyone just seeking wall-to-wall blast beats and mosh breakdowns will be disappointed, but it’s not like those are exactly hard to find. Cloud Rat have offered something both more rare and more interesting, and have made themselves genuinely the best new Grindcore band in years in the process.
Cloud Rat on Bandcamp
Protestant do not deal in subtlety.
In Thy Name (Halo of Flies/Throatruiner) is the Milwaukee four-piece’s fourth album since they formed in 2004, it’s eight tracks of Crusty and raw black metal with muscular hardcore and punk aggression spread over half an hour. From the opening blasts of ‘Vulture’ to the blistering final track ‘Delusion’, it’s a relentless barrage of pained screams, rusty chainsaw guitars and blast beats. The sound Protestant create is genuinely unnerving it’s so dark and aggressive.
Protestant do a good job of straddling the black/punk divide. It’s savage and filled with urgency but retains a sinister sounding edge about it. Whether it the punk groove of ‘Carrion’ or the pure fetid blackness of ‘Blood’, the band manage to prevent the album becoming stale – something that is always a risk with this kind of uncompromising music.
If you like your metal raw, noisy and aggressive, they don’t come much more angry and crusty than Protestant. If you could hear raw hatred, it would sound a lot like In Thy Name.