Many times in music journalism, we writers are given to hyperbole, often because it is the low hanging fruit of the field to gush about the classics with a torrent of compliments. You often read words like genre-defying, and frankly, a lot of the time they don’t land as they are meant to. However, in the case of the entire career of Fear Factory and certainty of the album Demanufacture (Roadrunner Records), the words can never do proper justice to the music. Simply stated, Deamnfacture is one of the most important, unique, and unapologetically brutal albums in heavy metal history. Continue reading
Those who’ve known me for some time will have had their ears blunted by my constant praise for Birmingham, UK Industrial Doom duo Khost. Equal parts sampled violence, malevolent strings and vocal apocalypse, beautiful Eastern lamentations often deflect from that harsh path and create a nuance flavoured by the likes of VAST and Moby. Their fourth album Buried Steel (Cold Spring Records) sees a band now truly at ease with its style, happy to have edgy two-minute psalms populating a set in the knowledge that they serve a purpose for the whole.
Iconic artist Stephen Kasner who came out of the underground scene to create horror-themed art for films, books, and avant-garde and metal artists’ albums, died on Christmas Day. He was just 48. In addition to painting, art and other mixed media, Kasner also made music under the Blood Fountains moniker. He created art for albums from a variety of artists such as Khlyst, Sunn O))), Integrity, Lotus Eaters, Skullflower, Justin Broadrick, Subarachnoid Space, and Martin Grech among others. Kasner released the book Stephen Kasner Works: 1993 – 2006 (Scapegoat Publishing, 2007), a lavish career retrospective with text by various artistic luminaries and collaborations with Seldon Hunt, David D’Andrea, Dwid Hellion, Steven Leyba, and Steven Cerio. Dwid’s Integrity band posted a remembrance of Kasner on Social Media. Continue reading
Harm’s Way, following their full-length album in 2018 have released a special remix EP PSTHMN, with remixes by such names as Justin Broadrick and Sanford Parker. PSTHMN follows the vision of Posthuman and sheds light on influential aspects that have shaped the sound and aesthetic of Harm’s Way. Purchase and stream PSTHMN now at the link below. The vinyl edition is limited to 499 copies worldwide, so be sure to order your copy now!Continue reading
It’s a curious spelling but when you realise that Yerûŝelem is the new project of Vindsval and W.D. Feld, high priests of French dark experimentalists Blut Aus Nord, nothing else is expected. As mystical as they are, and as profoundly dramatic and volatile as the city which gives the band its name, debut album The Sublime (Debemur Morti Productions) is both an enthralling and a nerve-tingling experience.Continue reading
I’m looking at Spirit Crusher (Prosthetic) the latest release from Sweden’s Dödsrit and I’m getting a feeling. Not super familiar with the band but judging by the font and the presence of umlauts we know extreme music is on the way, particularly of the Black Metal persuasion. And these song lengths certainly suggest experimentation and a non-commercial nature. Dödsrit is a one-man project isn’t it?
Those one man acts always have the most to say.Continue reading
Although initially billed as an Industrial Metal band, France’s Dirge have long left the confinements of the classification. And although electronic sounds abound on their latest EP, Alma | Baltica (Division), the style here is somewhere even further down the post-metal rabbit hole. I’m not quite sure even if Alma | Baltica falls under metal anymore. These five tracks seem more like the score of a science fiction film that’s yet to be filmed. Continue reading
After multiple listens, I’m still attempting to find the right adjective to describe Uniform’s second full-length, Wake in Fright (Sacred Bones). I could use intense, but that probably wouldn’t fit the bill for the more subdued tracks like ‘Habit’ or ‘The Lost.’Continue reading
…And so we continue with our countdown of the Official Ghost Cult Top 50 Metal releases of 2014 by bringing you Albums 15 to 11. As we get closer the top, the sheer unadulterated quality of the albums covered is astounding, and every one of our Top 20 should proudly sit in your collection already. And if it doesn’t, you should get investigating immediately…
15. GODFLESH – A World Lit Only By Fire (Avalanche)
Joining the growing list of bands who have returned from a leave of recording absence in style, Justin Broadrick resumes where he left off thirteen years ago, delivering dissonant, nihilistic, industrial cold post-metal. Innovators and leaders to a previous generation of bands, Godflesh returns with metallic precision and destructive poundings.
“The crushing landscapes of Streetcleaner (Earache) are recalled in the merciless dehumanised beats yet the harshness of the eight string guitar has taken this unforgiving creation an even blacker more disturbing feel. The momentum never lags throughout this fearsome monolith feeling urgent and vital throughout. It may be their first full length in thirteen years but every fibre of the bands DNA has mutated into an even more virulent strain of post-Sabbath paranoia whose icy claws cannot be escaped.”
Read ROSS BAKER’s 8/10 review here
14. INDIAN – From All Purity (Relapse)
Extreme doom has never been in a healthier or more prolific state, and is a scene with a surfeit of reeking repugnancy spread over a growing horde of performers. Oozing themselves to the very peak of the sludge mountain is Chicago’s Indian, with a release that tests the very limits of just how hideous a piece of music can be and still be appreciated. Essential art, manifested as abhorrent compositions.
“Over the course of 39 harrowing minutes, Indian attempt to batter the listener into submission with a ceaseless barrage of spiky sludge riffs that aren’t afraid to repeat themselves to make their point well and truly felt, percussion that hits as hard as a drunken preacher taking his belt to a cowering sinner, horrible harsh droning noises that sound like a possessed radio broadcasting live from Chernobyl, and all topped off with Will Lindsay’s throat-shredding howls and screeches.”
Read JAMES CONWAY’s 8/10 review here
13. OPETH – Pale Communion (Roadrunner)
On Heritage, Mikael Åkerfeldt led his Swedes away from a technical Death Metal past towards the Prog Rock light. With Pale Communion, transition completed, he perfects the marriage of Opeth and their new slant, constructing a beautiful, reflective, warm and overwhelmingly natural album that speaks in an altered, more progressively refined tongue to the previous voices of Opeth.
“Fast forward three years and Pale Communion is, in many ways a continuation of such a direction, but one that see’s Mikael’s uncompromising view drawing more clearly into focus. Harking back again to the late 60s and early 70s this eleventh studio opus features fluid dexterous drum patterns, moody distorted organ work and another all clean and highly proficient performance in the vocal department. Where Heritage felt somewhat disjointed on occasion Pale Communion is richly woven into a tapestry of ornate and complex elements rather than flitting from one genre to the next.”
Read ROSS BAKER’s 7/10 review here
12. YOB – Clearing The Path To Ascend (Neurot)
Like one of their own dark, weighty epics, Yob’s career is slowly unfurling, opening out as expansive riffs draw out of the dark, and slab-heavy tones meld Post and Doom Metal. Yob’s previous two albums, in particular, have been preparation for this career defining opus, where the permutations of delicate beauty and unsubtle heavyweight guitars are woven skilfully.
“Clearing the Path to Ascend begins by showing a return to the inventive aspects of …Cessation with a gently repetitive chords, and mellifluous tones riding a colossal riffs that move with the speed of a tortoise. All four tracks far exceed the ten-minute mark yet none here exceed their welcome. Combining the best aspects of the band’s aforementioned last albums this is a perfect blend of weight, hostility, melody and ecstasy, and will need many plays to yield its full array of splendour.”
Read PAUL QUINN’s 9/10 review here
11. TOMBS – Savage Gold (Relapse)
While predecessor Path of Totality (fortunately not a dub-step album, like Korn’s of the same name)) was a great album in its own right, it is in 2014 that songwriter Mike Hill, backed by a crystalline production by Erik Rutan, has finalised the blueprint of how to merge granite flecked post-Metal with rusted Black Metal, bathing us all in cold, exacting, current, intelligent and hostile extreme music, where the caustic overwhelms.
“Savage Gold, the third album from Brooklyn quartet Tombs, is certainly no easy listen. Since their debut release Winter Hours in 2009, the band have attempted to show just how black and post-metal should go together and once again stand head and shoulders above the competition, for Savage Gold is a triumph in visceral aggression and brooding atmospherics.”
Read JAMES CONWAY’s 9/10 review here
Compiled and additional words by Steve Tovey