Tuesday, December 29, 2015

4 Doors to Death Comp review

Various Artists: CEMETERY FILTH (Tennessee/Georgia), ECTOVOID (Alabama), SABBATORY (Winnipeg, Canada) and TRENCHROT (Philadelphia)
4 Doors to Death
Unspeakable Axe Records
February 16, 2016
Reviewed by hutch

When this drops, Cemetery Filth will have been a band for two years. That is a short time for this l of destruction. And considering they split member from Atlanta and Tennessee, they have a synergy to be lauded. They have released one EP, Screams from the Catacombs, in their short journey. Now they birth three more tracks of savage, penury virility. They have moments of driving, fast tempos. But they also enjoy tempering their jagged-timed sound. Sections of mid-tempo or even off-time, dragging drums show a nod to Death and emphasize the depressing, morbid atmosphere. 
These elaborate, and frequent, time changes exercise all that I love about death metal. They evade the trap of monotony. The production is thick and ominous in tone. Stellar performances mean that this young band has talent dripping from the members’ digits. Clean solos over foreboding riffs that linger like the guillotine convey adherence to a genre and individuality all in one. The five guys here encapsulate a varied, evil sound that will crush fans. 

Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, Ecotvoid deliver death metal in the coarsened vein of Obituary and Autopsy. They give us two tracks at over five minutes each. “Ash Primordial” has a few churning moments, writhing in a mid tempo gallop. The main body though pushes forward, fast as a whiplash. “Thoughts of Ancient Dread” opens with a slow pace, fluttering guitar lines lingering over a slow fog of down-tuned chords. Heavy, thick and dominating, Ectovoid’s tracks definitely burst into fast moments. Their strength is in the reticent, gigantic presence. This trio has provided fans with two full lengths. These two tracks lash out through the speakers. They harness a big sound. Ectovoid have mastered conjuring a true feel and tone in their songs, beyond just playing kick ass music.

Their first track, “Ascension to My Holy Tomb”, whips out of the gate, riding a grinding gallop. The riff twists as the drums push forward. The descending tight riffs herald a good old school feel. Other diabolical metal seeps into the sound here. Sabbatory, from the bracing cold of Winnipeg, share members with besieged. They have one full length released since their grotesque inception in 2011. The shred with chaotic speed, pulsating riffs guiding the way. Their two tracks are five and three minutes. Not one second of either track lets up in attitude or speed. The raw production, lending a live feel, taps into the early predecessors. Sabbatory’s influences probably encompass aspects of Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Morbid Angel, Carcass, Dismember, Repulsion mixed with peers like Midnight, Nunslaughter and Asphyx; but none of which are an exact match. Sabbatory piss away expectations. This is stripped down, death-soaked speed metal. Killer shit here.

Coming out of Philly in 2012, Trenchrot lend their donations here with two original tracks and a Death cover. Their sound is not cut and dry. The vomitus vocals spew over tumultuous, heavy spasms laying the foundation. They finally form a groove in a slow chugging, about one fourth into the track. As with the other bands here, atmosphere is big. Trenchrot create the miasma of confusion in a cave. Listening feels like a soundtrack to abandoned trekkers, unwilling to continue. Then they push into a fast part, riding on double bass kicks. The swirling dual guitars cloud my headphones, sirens and screams complete the riotous feel of chaos.

“Powerful Kendarian Steel” is an anthem. This track is a beast. Again, this atmospheric goliath could provide the music for twisted regrets converging as you descend in madness. Guitars layered on top of rollicking, seizure drums and thick, crusty riffs merge to slowly roll out the last half of the track. The Death cover, Evil Dead, is what a cover should be. Great nod to the original with deciphering, personal twist executed well. 

Sarcofagos Die Hard Review

Greyhaze Records

Sarcofago are legends, and also unsung. Standing in the shadows of another late 1980’s Brazilian metal band, Sarcofago released a genre defining album, INRI, in 1987. Through the next ten years, and a few member swaps, they released four more albums. INRI remains the Satanic monolith that you might not have heard. Admittedly, though, for Die…Hard, when I see “1985” and “demos” in the description, I get a little worried about sound quality and repetition.

Repetition is unavoidable when compiling these types of projects. Greyhaze, via Brazil’s Cogumelo Records, treats us to two early demos, and some random tracks off of single release demos. The treasure here is the two demos, Satanic Lust and Christ’s Death. Yes, some tracks here appear two or three times. So, maybe only a true die hard will appreciate the incremental progression. But, in the days of digital libraries, one can always only keep what they want.

As the album starts, the production is a little tough here. This is the first demo. The drums sound like a hammering construction project executed in the next room. The poor man’s King Diamond wail in the beginning of “Satanas” is jostling. But, then, every other vocal is gruff and evil. The guitar sounds great. The guitar tone on “Nightmare” is treacherous. The drums fit better, plodding and menacing. Even the roughest demos here are still killer; never too muddy or quiet. The production increases in quality as the CD goes forward. “Satanas” third appearance is tight as hell, with even production.
The demo exposes the mastery and influence of Sarcofago. This is the sound black metal purists would kill Christian babies for. I personally like more thickness in the production, a little more chunk in the guitar. But the sound and brutality of this A side cannot be debated.  The listener can make rapid connections to bands like Hellhammer and Mayhem hearing this. The miscellaneous demo tracks are hit or miss. Some tracks can be skipped (“Alcoholic Coma” for one); but when “Black Vomit” kick in, it does so with a feral delivery and blistering tempo.

Christ’s Death demo sounds a little worn from the original tape. But, the playing and recording come with more balls and relentless fury. The tracks are fast. By this time, Sarcofago had a vision and were not meandering in sound. “Desecration of Virgin” is brutal as hell, with a few leads, and a present bass line. The demonic growls and bullet driven drums remind the listener to Sarcofago’s learned status in extreme metal. Again, by the time we get to this, we have heard some tracks multiple times. But this version of “Satanic Lust”, whoo! Finally, a bass!

This is a damn fine record. I do not think you have to be a diehard fan to appreciate this. You can pick and choose which versions you like best. All are sinister. This is savage metal. These dudes do not always come up when talking the history of metal. That’s a shame. Greyhaze gives us a chance to explore the beginnings and foundations of legendary tracks.

Suppressive Fire Bedlam Review

Suppressive Fire
Jan 14, 2016
Review by hutch

Thrash will never die. That’s not some half-assed, bumper sticker rally cry for me to use as a crutch. A few years ago, and back in 2000ish, there were “thrash revivals”. However, that sentiment implies that afterwards, thrash “died” again. Do not tell Suppressive Fire that. These North Carolina shredders, injecting some ill death metal into their formula, deliver intense and furious thrash metal. After an EP and a split, Suppressive Fire opens 2016 with one hell of an album.

As Exodus purists argue over who should be on vocals and Municipal Waste spawns another side project, Joel Grind moves into producing amazing bands. Suppressive Fire unleash this mammoth album to declare their place in this genre. Grind has pulled a strong performance, thick riffs, and killer leads out of these dudes. Stunningly, this band is a trio grinding out these tracks. They have been in existence since 2013. They have opened for Wretched, Hookers, Genocide Pact (!!!), and, obviously, Toxic Holocaust. These eleven songs should propel them into the mouths of others.
Suppressive Fire stick with apocalyptic and evil themes. The kick drum is adorned with their jagged moniker over a pentagram. Song names include “Nazi Face Melter”, “Thy Flesh Consumed”, “Holy Masochism”, and “Crucify the Kings”. Capturing the senses of the disillusioned in a world gone to Hell, Suppressive Fire push an angry, damning sound. The dark atmosphere provided fit all expectations. Death metal and thrash depend on tight delivery. SF sound focused and honed in their menacing version of metal. The drumming is superb, rolling with every time change. That snare gets hit without yield in blistering speedy moments. Twisted chugs are wrenched out of guitar and bass fervently. And, again, smoking leads bless almost every track.

Bedlam, adorned with a Par Olofsson (Abysmal Dawn, Exodus) painting, is a quick album with no excesses or indulgences. SF come for one reason and that is accomplished. Their sound is heavy, fast and dark.  Joel Grind’s work behind the boards shows faith in these young dudes. It is deserved.

RIYL: Kreator, Destruction, Exodus, Testament, Slayer, Wilderness Dream, Toxic Holocaust, Skeletonwitch

TYPILL and Statik Selektah Veterans Day Review

TypIll & Statik Selektah
Veteran’s Day
Released November 11

When a single producer works with an emcee for an entire project, the album always stands above the rest. There is a thread that runs through the album, a cohesive angle that broadens the impact. Statik Selektah has never made a bad beat. Simplicity is never his prolific output in the last years with consistency and potency, rivals Apollo Brown, Marco Polo, DJ JS-1 and more. Enter in TYP-Ill, a LINY, veteran MC that carries his past on his sleeve. Flourishing on the mic and over Statik’s funky string and piano concoctions, TYP-Ill brings fierce street stories and bragadocious skills.

Sometimes, he has a delivery and voice exactly like Chino XL. Less focus on metaphors and wordplay, Typ-Ill still carries venom. His strength is embedded in his detailed story telling. Obviously when TYP-Ill talks of his service and the impact on his constitution it holds sincere gravity. The weight of those experiences will shrivel most nonsense MC’s trite hood tales. However, TYP-Ill is quick to tell his stories of drugs, ladies, and debauchery just as quickly. The vivid painting which Ill’s lyrics and syllabic mastery depict matches some of the rap game’s best.

The bombastic feel of the soulful 70’s flare of “The Hustle” is captivating. Statik’s use of sparse, deep piano and pitch-bent female, emotive vocals and long brass notes and the wailing, wandering electric guitar all coalesce to enrich Ill’s story of having to slang to survive. This track is as colorful as any Scorcese flick. “Onyx” combines some funk and a PE type siren over raucous drums to motivate TYP’s retarded energy as he harnesses chaos with rebellious lyrics. TYP goes in and spazzes.

Songs like “Dog Tags and Duffel Bags” and “Soldier” again garner intense facets to create blistering racks. TYP and Statik team up over dark beats. From sparse strings plucking to a dense, heavy Hammond organ, Statik gets heavy, emotional beats from opposite approaches. Statik shows he is a master here. He can utilize many approaches to confront the listener. I believe his guidance had to be a factor in TYP-Ill hone his abilities.

A skilled, tongue bending lyricist, TYP-Ill gains respect through a weathered life. But his genuine sincerity and mature humility are the engrossing factors. Combined with Statik at the paragon of his game, and a myriad of funky ass drums, Veteran’s Day is a vicious, moving album.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Malfunction Fear of Failure Review

Fear of Failure
Bridge 9 Records
Release Date: November 20, 2015

Carrying the torch for Buffalo Style hardcore, Malfunction unleashes their first proper full length. Harsh riffs with thunderous drums, Malfunction kill it here on Fear of Failure. This is their first new material in two years. Tempered by years of touring (Terror, Bane, Backtrack, Turnstile, Harms Way), the band has become tight. Recording again with Jay Zubricky at GCR, they then grabbed Taylor Young to mix (Twitching Tongues, Nails, Xibalba) and had Fear of Failure mastered by Paul Levitt (Turnstile, Darkest Hour). The result is a brutal thrashing comprised of two step parts and breakdowns.

We’ve listed the talented dudes behind the album. We have certified that Malfunction is steeped in a synergy from touring relentlessly. The band has recently signed to B9. All planets align. A rough, raw guitar sound with thick riffs ensures the metallic crunch is delivered with a vicious blow. They had a demo and a great seven inch and appeared on some comps, but this mammoth full length crushes far beyond their earlier material. 

They have a big sound here, building stress and strain with songwriting that pays off for the listener. The mixing highlights the drumming which is balanced perfectly. From the hi-hat to the kicks to the snares, all aspects provide a foundation of low-end splendor, while pushing the songs forward.

The lyrical content is negative and angry, as should be expected. Cold and isolated, Buffalo is not known for the happy times. Loneliness, betrayal, loathing, all of these elements push the narrative of the vocals in each track. Anxiety and disappointment are fodder to churn up jaded growls while chugging rhythms and tumultuous mosh parts. Dark atmospheres and maturing songwriting filtered through the top production in the game ensure this band delivering the best example of what metallic hardcore can be. Fear of Failure will get those crowds going as Malfunction ours with Terror and Code Orange through December 19th.

FFO: Xibalba, Backtrack, Buried Alive, Terror, Ruckus, Forced Order, Expire, Incendiary, Downpresser

Park Sparrows Demo Review

Park Sparrows
Demo 2015

It’s comforting to be wooed by a band not on your predictable radar. Park Sparrows is such a band, perched to remind that I love good music. This is awesome music. Park Sparrows relish in down-beat, solemn, atmospheric gritty punk. A solid two step rhythm with an undeniable catchy swing lies in the pith of these five RVA dudes. Park Sparrows deliver a sincere, mature sound.

The morose tones, accompanied by somber and self-destructive lyrics, hit home for any weathered punk or hardcore kid turn old guy. The gang choruses and “whoah-ohs” capture the feel of any 90’s streetpunk band, inviting depressed and downtrodden to join along, after the shot is finished. Harnessing harmonies, Park Sparrows let the snare charge forward and the raw, open chords set the tone. Regret soaked lamenting mirrors the fast paced reminiscent lyrics.

Images come to mind, battling catharsis through these speakers: The golden hue of streetlamps igniting the crest a damp, autumn morning; a bracing wind cooling off the whiskey sweat on your forehead when you walk home at two a.m.; some old guy typing to force poetry in punk rock. These images are there. The lyrics for Spark Sparrows cut straight into the gut. There are talks of break-ups that finally heeded the extensive harbingers, and shouldering all of the blame. “Horoscopes” reflects on getting out of the hospital immediately, despite better judgment and sound medical advice. There is true depth in the words sung here. Freeman Martin’s vocals have a hardened lesson touching each syllable.

“I’ve never been one for waiting and I’m not staying here tonight”

This doesn’t sound like a demo.  I wish they would have just given it a name. I d o not see any level of production pushing this to another level. The open live sound, fits perfectly – and the mixing gets all the kicks and cymbals, the off notes and string highlights and bass level where they should be. Again, the choruses and backing vocals are placed strategically for emotional impact. But if this is a demo, let’ get to the new EP or LP! Steeped in RVA history, members spent time in quite an eclectic array; Wheelbite, Freeman (which was ¾ of Avail), Murder Weapon, Dead Serious, Scarlet, The Hotdmans, Strike Anywhere. Some of those sounds apply here, some don’t but these are seasoned vets playing punk for its own rewards. Shows are quickly amassing and hopefully the word will spread.

“I heard you’re wondering if I’m doing well/ would it make any difference if I was going through Hell?”

RIYL: Strike Anywhere/Inquisition, Avail, Leatherface, Epic Problem, Good Riddance, Only Crime, GC5, Whiskey Rebels