Although it sounds more like some kind of horrifying children’s book from in the 1970s, Nog and the Hospital of Death is actually the origin story of UK act Terrible Claw. Introduced to each other by a mutual bandmate in Birmingham over ten years ago, guitarist Paul Harrington (Nog, Anaal Nathrakh, Fukpig, Kroh) struck up a friendship with fellow guitarist Stuart Pendergast (H.O.D., Neanderthal), and shortly after formed Danmaku along with vocalist Mike Pilat (Bad Precedent, Collusion), releasing their debut Turn Up the Gas (Thrash Lizard) in 2011. Unfortunately, personnel problems became an issue and Danmaku disappointingly only managed to play one single show, disbanding shortly after. Continue reading
Releasing their fourth album in only six years, all on Earache, Chicago, Illinois’ Oceano don’t do two things – subtlety or surprises. Wading in like a behemoth sumo, with each stab of the guitar representing a tree-trunk leg thudding down and with each pig squeal signifying the friction of flabby thigh slapping flabby thigh, the beatdown-focused Ascendants lumbers into town, modelling deathcore 101 with the open string chug enhanced by some tight and imaginative percussive work.
Taking their cue from Thy Art Is Murder and All Shall Perish’s more staccato moments, Oceano’s is a considered violence, a repetitive ham-hock fist to the head with pendulum regularity and in no particular rush; it’s the troll wading through the sea of bodies that are trying to force it back in an exercise in futility. For those who enjoy their pro-wrestling, they are the Big Show; cumbersome, but effective (and somehow higher-profile than you think they deserve to be, and you prefer the other, more interesting wrestlers anyway….).
Oceano are also beginning to suffer from the inevitable law of diminishing returns. If their debut, Depths, one of the best examples of deathcore to date, showcased diversity in amongst the rhythmic bullying chug and Contagion had a darker, twisted feel, Ascendants is Oceano at their lowest common denominator, most Neanderthal, a notion that is enhanced by ‘Dawn of Descent’ and it’s more atmospheric endeavours, which help it stand out in a sea of proto-human repetitive pounding.
Other acts, in particular Suicide Silence, have shown it’s possible to continue to progress a sound and develop as a band while retaining a deathcore identity (though the further they, and others move from the deathcore “core” the more successful they are and the better they sound), but Ascendants is still a decent, if unspectacular, repetitive brain injury of a deathcore album. With (another) new line up in place, one wonders about the future of Oceano as not even by playing it safe and playing the genre card to the max – for this is dictionary definition beatdown laden deathcore – is enough to bring Ascendants up to the level of their previous outings.
While most bands from Brooklyn should be viewed with caution given the possibility they may be a hipster plot to infiltrate the metal scene, at least according to a certain breed of metal ‘fan’, in the case of power-trio Mortals one should preferably don body armour and a hard hat lest you be flattened in the wake of their thunderous, bulldozing assault. Once their sophomore full-length release Cursed To See The Future(Relapse) starts to move, it barely lets up in single bloody-minded intensity over the course of forty-seven pulverising minutes.
Blending the feral, filth-flecked riffage of Mayhem at their most ugliest with the battering ram impact of crusty US types High on Fire and Lair of the Minotaur, Cursed To See The Future takes the Route One approach in terms of pace and structure; it’s quick, nasty and aggressive with minimal concessions to melody, akin to being repeatedly pounded over the head with a bone by a rabid caveman under a full moon. In short, it’s a wholly Neanderthal, unsubtle manner of playing and for the most part it’s utterly exhilarating as the frenzied attack of opening track ‘View From a Tower’ demonstrates while the more mid-paced, shifting grooves of ‘The Summoning’ remind you just how punishing sludge can be.
All three musicians are exemplary throughout with the triumphant drumming of Caryn Havlik deserving special praise while the venomous screech of Lesley Wolf lends an air of demonic intensity to proceedings that just makes everything that bit more evil sounding. One complaint is that some of the longer songs tend to drag at nearly ten minutes but with the overall assault being so devastating you’ll likely be too busy trying to catch your breath to care.
This is one band for the future we could do with seeing more from.