SUMAC – What One Becomes

SUMAC - What One Becomes album cover ghostcultmag

With the formation of SUMAC back in 2014 featuring Aaron Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom), Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) and BrianCook (Russian Circles, These Arms Are Snakes) and the release of their début album, The Deal, shortly afterwards, the metal community was taken back by the sheer exponential experimentation that was introduced on this project. And let’s just say that they left quite a raw post-metal-ish impression. Nevermind that the expectations were already set pretty high with such an all-star line-up, but what is more stunning is that they met them effortlessly with The Deal, showing the machinic beauty in minimalistic chaos.

Now one can only wonder what to expect from SUMAC’s sophomore release, What One Becomes, having newly signed to Thrill Jockey Records. How are they going to show progress after such a smashing début? Well, they sure as hell did something because the bar has officially been set higher for all bands in the cold metal game. This 5-track LP is a masterpiece of mechanical pandemonium and order, props to Kurt Ballou (Converge) for mixing. All tracks clock in a minimum of 10 minutes, with the longest one, ‘Blackout’, being a 17-minute journey. One of the aspects of this record that stand out the most from the previous is that on the balance scale of control and chaos… a tad more weight was placed on control although chaos still has more emphasis.

The first stand-out track, ‘Image of Control’, pushes out an interpretation of what it feels to be in constant battle with an anxiety-ridden mind. It begins its manifestation with confused out-of-key guitar distortion and cavernous vocals. But as the clouds of confusion begin to break, the lone guitar signifies the deep breathe of relief to finally gain order in the midst of it all. And so begins the heavy monologue of awkwardly orchestrated harmony between the zombie guitar/bass riffs and marching drums. To the untrained ear, it may sound like just noise. But with each additional listen, one will realize the strong musicianship and technical skills needed to create this amazing sound.

Another stand-out track is, without a doubt, ‘Clutch of Oblivion’. It starts off with a somber annunciated guitar riff which leads into a slow progressive groove that can easily give you an Isis flashback. But SUMAC is a lot dirtier sounding and experimental, which is one of the greatest differentiations from the band members’ past projects in general. Nevertheless, the track suddenly shifts from that familiarity to this wall of epic sound, bringing the listener back down to harsh cold earth. The technicality is most notable on this track because the time signatures throughout this entire track (and every track for that matter) are so strange and unpredictable that it leaves you intrigued.

With the magnitude of progressive and experimental metal available for your listening pleasure, you can often find yourself knowing what’s coming next whether it be a down tempo breakdown, extended distortion or ambience. But with SUMAC, you truly cannot see what’s coming. Every track on the album leaves an everlasting feeling and one can easily find themselves circling back through the entire album without hesitation. This solid body of work is truly a highlight of 2016 metal releases thus far and will surely be on plenty of end-of-the-year lists.




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Video: Gone Is Gone – Starlight

gone is gone stil image from Starlight video

Gone Is Gone – the new supergroup featuring of At the Drive-Indrummer Tony Hajjar, Mastodonbassist Troy Sanders, and Queens of the Stone Age/Failure guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen has debuted their new music video for ‘Starlight’. You can watch the video at this link or below:

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Audio: Gone Is Gone – Starlight

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Gone Is Gone – the new supergroup featuring of At the Drive-Indrummer Tony Hajjar, Mastodonbassist Troy Sanders, and Queens of the Stone Age/Failure guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen has debuted a second single from their upcoming début EP. You can stream ‘Starlight’ below:


Releasing on July 8th, The self-titled EP will drop from Rise Records and is one of the most anticipated releases of the second half of 2016. Pre-orders are live now for both merch packages and digital.


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Entheos – The Infinite Nothing

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In the world of extreme metal, Entheos is what the experts like to call a blue chip prospect. They’re fairly new (a year and some change, roughly), but they’ve already released the well-received Primal EP and have got some serious roadwork done with the likes of The Contortionist, The Black Dahlia Murder and Revocation. And about one year after the release of Primal, they’ve already cooked up their debut full length The Infinite Nothing (Artery Recordings).

With a work ethic like that it’s easy to understand the prized prospect status. But the secret to these young turks success also can be drawn from the members individual pedigrees. For starters, bass wunderkind Evan Brewer spent some quality time in The Faceless while drummer Navene Koperweis kept rhythm for Animals as Leaders. And before that they gigged in the underappreciated in their time Animosity. You may also remember vocalist and human furnace Chaney Crabb from Systems or the Veil of Maya audition video that made the internet rounds. Guitarist Malcolm Pugh is a one man band in A Loathing Requiem.

So you’re probably asking what The Infinite Nothing sounds like. It sounds exactly as how you imagine it. The Infinite Nothing is as fine as tech-death gets. Brutal slam and technical proficiency is dealt out in equal measure while wrapped in a vague sci-fi theme. The oddly titled ‘Bad Chemicals’ and lead single ‘Neural Damage’ are some stellar examples of technical finesse that still bludgeons the reptile brain.

And if you’re thinking it sounds like I just described Unique Leader’s entire catalogue, then you’re not entirely wrong. This is death metal with sci-fi sounding song titles. However unlike most in that quickly crowding field, there is an uncluttered feeling to Entheos’ style. ‘Mind Alone’ crushes like anything their contemporaries can muster, but not relying on studio trickery or heavy samples. Also kudos to Crabb on being a standout growler in a field full of mic cuppers. Think of her voice as an extra angry Mark Hunter from Chimaira who also just stepped on a tack before walking into the booth. Pugh rips into solos like a motivated Michael Keene, while Brewer’s bass acrobatics fill in for the lack of a second guitarist.

Noting their consummate hunger for work (long layoffs were Brewer’s reason to quit The Faceless), Entheos will continue to evolve and scale the extreme metal ladder. Wouldn’t doubt another strong release by next year.



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The Mute Gods- Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me

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You would think that strenuous touring schedules with both Steven Wilson and Steve Hackettwould take up enough of one’s time, but somehow Nick Beggs manages to juggle this with studio session work and other projects with the likes of Lifesigns and Lonely Robot, as well as being a general hero of contemporary prog rock. Still not familiar with the notion of a well deserved rest, Beggs has also started up new band The Mute Gods with fellow busy bodies Marco Minnemanand Roger King, in which his pop and prog backgrounds seem to come head to head.

Debut album Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me (InsideOut Music) certainly shows both sides in abundance, but does so with neither watering itself down or by proving daunting and inaccessible. Far from a massive prog odyssey, DNTYHFM is melodious and song based; strikingly immediate and catchy on the face of it. The opening title track proves an archetype of this, particularly with its easy to follow vocal lines which seem to hide its 7 plus minute duration; whilst sultry ballad ‘Nightschool For Idiots’ wouldn’t seem out-of-place on more straight forward rock acts’ repertoires.

Scratching past its poppy exterior however reveals deeper layers, from drawn out passages, heavy guitar tones, quirky wordplay and subject matter and near psychedelic synths, showcasing the many sides of its personnel but still sounding fluid. The only real drawback here is a lack of consistency, where the strength of its best songs only detract further from lesser counterparts like the weaker ‘Your Dark Ideas’ and ‘Mavro Capelo’ which prove more forgettable.

Aside from small discrepancies however, DNTYHFM is a solid and at times sumptuous début, albeit from a cast of seasoned and experienced personnel with fingers in many pies. Not a perfect album, but one that should be on the radars of anyone who likes catchy rock with a little more depth to jump in to.



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Saint Asonia – Saint Asonia

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Super groups, as we have discussed in this space many times are a) sprouting up everywhere, and b) are a risky proposition for the bands and fans. Saint Asonia has all the makings of a “big deal” new band in an age of shrinking headline acts. With Adam Gontier, formerly of Three Days Grace and Mike Mushok of Staind, the collective radio hits and platinum records sold between just the two of them, that is impressive for any era, but especially this one. Added to the mix are Rich Beddoe (ex-Finger Eleven) and bassist Corey Lowery (Eye Empire, Stuck Mojo, Stereomud), and you have enough talent and power to create an impressive beast of a band. On Saint Asonia (RCA) the band has certainly made a good first impression. Let’s see if they answered the hype bell, or not.

First single ‘Better Place’ has been everywhere this summer and rightfully so, since it rocks. It’s great to hear Gontier’s voice wailing again. Especially with the full use of his dynamic vocal range, his thoughtful lyrics hit you hard. The song also features a terrific shreddy and soulful guitar solo from Mushok, which is cool, since he did almost none of that with Staind. Best of all this track is heavy and catchy, which is definitely the secret sauce for this band. Second track ‘Blow Me Wide Open’ is a strong, sensual track that is rough enough to please. These two songs are indicative of confident modern album rock writing at its finest. Third track ‘Let Me Live My Life’ might be the best track on the entire album. With an ear-worm for a chorus so hummable, the marketing boys ought to hashtag that title!

Where Saint Asonia has all of the members former bands’ beat is in the heavy rock department, some of the ballads prove to be a possible Achilles heel. ‘Even Though I Say’ is fairly solid, but it’s not special. ‘Fairytale’ roars back in next, wakes you up and cements the fact that this groups’ best musical moments are when they just scream out and let it fly.

The second half of the album has more arena-ready ragers such as ‘King of Nothing’ and ‘Happy Tragedy’. Rich Beddoe’s drumming stands out a lot on these songs, providing some fierce beats when needed to match the riffage. ‘Dying Slowly’, ‘Trying to Catch Up’ and the folksy ‘Leaving Minnesota’ have might some legs at radio, but also could be stronger. It’s hard not to imagine the many hits Mushok has had a hand in crafting and Gontier’s ability to deliver a penetrating impassioned verse, you wish there was a little bit more of that on here. Still, credit goes to both for not regurgitating old sounds either. The potential is definitely all there in this band to be enormous.

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Despite their lineage, Saint Asonia has much more in common with Alice In Chains and Sevendust in terms of melody, grooves, and bringing the feels. Get used to seeing them at a lot of festivals in the coming years.



Tool, Mastodon Members Form Supergroup, Download Two Songs Free!


BRENT HINDS of MASTODON by Echoes In The Well Photos


Tool, with Daney Carey on the right


Danny Carey of Tool and Brent Hinds of Mastodon have long been rumored to be working on a side project, originally when Mastodon opened up for Tool seven years ago. Now fully formed in the aquatic-themed Legend of the Seagullmen, the supergroup have released two songs for FREE download on their website. The group also includes OFF! Guitarist Dimitri Coates and film director Jimmy Hayward (Horton Hears A Who, Jonah Hex) who has a long association with Hinds and Mastodon, who is also producing the band.

Super Group Vanishing Life To Release EP, Play CMJ Fest In New York



As reported by several music outlets, Vanishing Life, a new group made up of members of Quicksand, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of The Dead and Rise Against have an EP coming out on Collect Records this month. Their debut 7″, ‘People Running’ b/w ‘Vanishing Life’. Spearheading the super group is legendary hardcore/post-rock veteran Walter Schreifels (The Dead Heavens/Gorilla Biscuits/Quicksand/Rival Schools) who has written some songs, but is maily doing vocals for the first time in his career. Joining him are Trail of Deadmembers, Jamie Miller and Autry Fulbright, and Rise Against‘s Zach Blair. Collect Records is owned by Thursday/United Nations’ Geoff Rickly runs with Texas is the Reason’s Norman Brannon. The band will make an appearance at the upcoming annual CMJ MusicMarathon Festival in New York, which will serve as their live debut. They are also doing two in-stores on October 18 in New York with two in-stores that day: one at 2 PM at Generation Records in NYC and another at 6 PM at Looney Tunes Records in West Babylon. They’ll be playing a brief set and doing a signing at each.


You can listen to the first track below:

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