Written by: Volt Thrower
Being born into a bible bashing religious cult/family is a traumatizing experience for a curious child. Something I've only started to fully grasp after countless hours and thousands of dollars in therapy. So when I saw the press release for a Bible Basher record featuring Tich of Temple of Coke, Joe E. Allen of Kurokuma and the doom doc featuring the UK underground, plus members of Archelon and Spaztik Munke, I knew I had to have it. I purchased a cassette copy instantly, I don't even own a tape player but I guess I'm on the lookout for one now.
Scathing, sacrilegious, supergroup sludge from Sheffield, UK, is exactly what the doctor ordered for this 2020 hellscape. “Words from the bible, riffs from hell.”
Written by: Blackie Skulless
It took me only a couple seconds to realize that the band was not named after the programming tool of the same name, but in relation to Valhalla. Considering the ancient themes and warlike attitude of the music, this would become quite obvious. Condemnation is the forth record by the Italian death metal quartet, dropping loads of life and layers on what is a generally darker sound.
For a good majority of Condemnation, the songs avoid the typical layout, and instead build themselves on unconventional riff patterns and sprinkle in melodeath tactics. Those allow for extra bridges thrown into areas that don’t necessarily lead into a solo, but perhaps an entirely different sequence of sounds. Depending on the transitions, this can help or hurt. Some points feel natural, as if they go above and beyond the norm. “Divination - Marked By The Unknown” is one of the best tracks here, as it blends this with heavy synth presence, ultimately kicking out a longer track. The doomy outro of the title track was also a neat touch.
Written by: Volt Thrower
Winnipeg, Manitoba: a misunderstood and often unknown entity on the global stage. Easy to overlook, easy to make the butt of a joke--but those who have spent time here know there is a veritable treasure trove of historical or natural beauty to stumble upon. There is of course a dark history (and present) of racial injustice and a growing class divide, but this observation isn’t meant to politicize the intro--just a quick backdrop for sources of inspiration that manifest themselves in a sometimes devastatingly beautiful art scene. One such iteration of that specific art is the burgeoning sludge metal scene, an umbrella I'm willing to stretch a bit just to shine a deserving light on some local artists who know how to bring the heavy.
Now: on to some music, shall we?
Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
Oh, Finland. What a glorious country--with your beautiful scenery, and, of course, your DEATH METAL. Yes, Finland, has produced some of the greatest death metal bands of all time: old Amorphis (love their new albums still), Convulse, Mordicus, Demilich, and of course Purtenance. The latter, topday's band in question, formed in 1989 under the name Purtenance Avulsion but shortened their name in 1991, releasing an EP and debut album before disbanding. Buried Incarnation is their third album released after reforming in 2012. But what awaits me on this audial journey? Let's begin.
"Into the Arctic Gloom" is quite the introduction. It's epic, sinister, and full of atmosphere. I really love the eerie melodies they use for the keyboards in the background, which only give the song more atmosphere.
Sometimes, this particular scribe finds it useful to glance backward and spend some quality time with an album defined by good memories, high spirits, and the sweet taste of familiarity. In that spirit, we post a lot of brief retrospective reviews over on our Instagram, but said pieces seldom make their way here to graze in greener pastures. Here are eight brief write-ups of death metal albums that we have revisited over the past few months--a veritable death metal menagerie. Enjoy! - Ed.
GOJIRA - From Mars to Sirius (2007)
There are few albums that remain so influential in my indoctrination into the chrvch of riff-centric music. Mastodon's essential Remission, perhaps, tops the heap, but Gojira's multiple efforts cycle through rotation on a remarkably consistent basis. From Mars to Sirius is a monstrosity of an album, demonstrating the heaviest of riffs within the confines of a striped-bare (yet progressive) mentality. Here, Gojira's trademark conceptual and thematic underpinnings are on full display--not preachy, but immediate. And never have whale sounds sounded so utterly massive. In short? If you've missed this album in favor of their more popular releases...you should probably get on that.
HOODED MENACE - Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed (2018)
Although this was released early on, no other album impressed me in 2018 with such a finely-tuned ability to straddle the line between death’s crushing riffage and funeral doom’s dismal gloom. Harrowing and heavy, the layers of grotesque yet melodically lofty leads form a near-tangible environment for these Hooded Menaces to dwell. Despite these leanings,“cavernous" remains an apt description for the atmosphere. I mean, just look at that album cover. Precision and restraint in the percussive department-- and a killer vocal tone--further delineate Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed as a masterful album, easily their best (and most ominous) to date.
Written by: Lord Hsrah
Swedish metal outfit Katatonia's first full-length release, Dance of December Souls, is a monumental record that helped shape the then-evolving doom metal scene, particularly as the influence of death metal started creeping into Europe and consequently into their music as well. Dance of December Souls is a wild ride of sorts through various emotions, all on the negative side of the human nature. And though this monolith of an album provided the blueprint of music for a myriad of other such doom and death fusing bands, this craft was still left wanting on certain fronts. In contrast though, on a few other fronts, it explored domains that would go on to become the band's path to further evolution down the long road of their career.
After long last, we slumbering peasantry arise, back with another edition of our neglected Sleeping Village Sampler.
For those of you not in the know, this is our (regrettably infrequent) column wherein we review, in brief, two of the bands that have escaped the clutches of a full length writeup. There's a lot of underground stuff wailing incessantly from the ol' inbox, and, as this particular scribe has made a concerted effort as of late to listen to bands who don't necessarily benefit from label support, the bigger releases have kinda been getting the short end of the stick. Rather than devoting the time, then, to reviewing these two albums in full, I'll just throw out my general thoughts and we can call it a day. Sound good? Good.
There is something aggressively unsettling--nay, terrifying--about fungi. And I'm not talking about the prospect of eating then, because here at the Village, we can get down with a variety of mushrooms (from a culinary perspective.) Nor am I referring to the one-bite wonders of the world, the Deathcaps and the Autumn Skullcaps and the Destroying Angels, of which the most delicate of bites brings, in many cases, coma or death. No. I'm talking about a vision of mycological apocalypse. The worldwide decomposition at the gaping maw of all-consuming saprophytic fungi--a form of fungus that gains its life-force through the gourmandization of decaying organic matter. As we die, the ultimate decomposer has its way with our remains...and so survives when all else finds inevitable demise. Given the sheer staying power of fungus, it all seems very possible, this eventual process of worldwide reverse fungi-cide. And, unlike zombies, said apocalypse has a concrete basis in biological reality. Scary shit, no matter how you slice it.
Demonstrating adherence to a vague moral code, this particular villager will only review a split release if there's a fair balance between the parties involved. If a split is inherently weighted in an obvious fashion, it's simply not worth touting around a recommendation of the package as a whole. This is all to say that this (fairly mysterious) 2-track from Alberta's Tekarra and Mexico's Malamadre fits the bill quite well, thankyouverymuch. Both tracks here hold up, with graceful ease, its respective end of the bargain, and thus, a successful split is born. At risk of showing all my card, this fine little effort is a slow and exceedingly worthwhile burn.
Tekarra starts things off with the massive Barbaric Tools, a simultaneously deathy and droning slab of feedback-ridden amp worship. As one might expect, this living mountain of a track clocks in at over ten minutes--a slow burn, but ruthlessly effective in it's delivery. Over the course, Tekarra unleashes anticipatory waves of distortion-heavy (and indeed centric) riffage. Supplication before the the amplifier is the name of the game, and if you're new to drone, Tekarra invites you in with a warm tone and welcome arms.
Some quirky soloing and extended bouts of hypnotically intense feedback round out the guitar's delivery, lending the track a sense of character that all-too-oft goes amidst in the genre's more lackluster efforts. It's unique identity is only strengthened by the addition of crushingly heavy vocals, absolutely massive in stature. While everything remains audible, the production does lean towards the reedy side of the spectrum. In some sense, this gets the track a uniquely antiqued feel that, frankly, I've come to greatly enjoy over repeat rotations. For that gut-wrenching punch we've come to anticipate from modern doom, however, a little extra heft and girth will throw these guys in with the heavyweights. It's a great track regardless, and I'm interested to see what these potential heavyweights hit us with next.
But Tekarra aren't the only headliners here, and Malamadre, to their credit, follow up with great aplomb. Without the benefit of vocals, the appropriately entitled Cataclismo makes subtle, sparse, and incredibly effective use of drums to fill the Less a mere necessity, each cymbal hit is a statement. By design, there is limited space for any real crescendo until the very end, and Malamadre actually get by quite well by simply offering minor changes to the riff structure and percussive patterns. That's not to say the back half doesn't make exceptionally great use of noisy elements to draw things towards a natural conclusion. The entire track feels wondrously organic--somehow alien and monstrous, when compared to Tekarra's more deliberate riffage. Appropriately enough, Malamadre state that their "slow and colossal riffs" are inspired by "legends of the great kaiju." Evident enough, and well executed. Cataclismo is supremely effective in building up an inevitable catharsis.
Both of these tracks strike me with their ability to take the unexpected and use it productively against the listener. Given Tekarra's runtime, I was expecting a drawn out affair, and yet, not so much. These 10 minutes hardly feel like 5, and that is truly an accomplishment. Malamadre, to their credit, succeed enormously without vocals, utilizing well-conceived and exceedingly deliberate instrumentation to great effect. They work off each other quite well, each illustrating and inhabiting a distinct persona of doom metal's drone-ier side. As a split should.
Tekarra / Malamadre's split was released April 5th, and can be found at their respective bandcamps.
Despite remaining a banner year by most accounts, few 2018 releases exemplified the new era of underground death metal as well as the fantastic split shared between Coffin Rot and Molder. As a certain glowing account reported at the time, Molder's putrid, fetid, and otherwise sarcophagal sound wasn't created so much as uncovered. It's a relic wrestled from the locked jaws of a dusty cadaver. Call it an exercise in grave robbery--albeit committed not with the typical implements of the trade, but rather with ragged fingernails. It is with great pleasure that we here at the Sleeping Village can confirm: neither this split, nor Molder's previous EP, were flukes. Enter the appropriately entitled "Granulated Chunks," the first track off Necrobiome, their forthcoming 3-track demo.
Besides a deliciously lo-fi production value--which contributes immensely and indeed feels essential to the aesthetic--Molder operates on a simple winning formula: meaty riffs, restrained drums, and a dry-bones distressed bark. Making no particular effort to get any too quickly, the guitar evokes a near-doomy bent as it takes on riffage straight out the respective playbooks of early-era Master and Pungent Stench. The bass is buried, yet effective at providing "Granulated Chunks" the weight it oh-so deserves. The percussion does exactly what is needs to do without senseless flair--seldom do drummers receive praise for maintaining a status quo, but I'll be damned if Nick Ayala isn't becoming notably consistent. And of course, Aaren Pantke's dusty, no-nonsense tonality, which made "Condemned to the Catafalque" such a fine track, is here to stay.
All told, "Granulated Chunks" reaffirms a commitment to a core sound. Gloriously, it adds little in terms of fresh content--because let's face it. Molder doesn't deal in fresh. Their climb out of the plague pit doesn't necessitate the destruction of established motifs and boundaries. Molder represents the concentrated form of everything we underground and old school death metal fans love about the genre trappings. Give "Granulated Chunks" a listen below...and keep one eye open. With any luck, Necrobiome shall claw its way out of the grave shortly.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!