Written by: Blackie Skulless
Not far from my hometown comes a compilation that dropped late last year consisting of two releases from the Philadelphia-based band Alement. One side consists of the EP Onward, which dropped in 2019. The other bears The Hunter from two years prior, thus the two smashed together as Onward / The Hunter. Caligari Records was swell enough to drop both onto one compact tape, as they fit a lot into a quick six-track listen.
Across the board, you get a sense of punky riffs and attitude that pass through thrashy territory, creating lots of sweaty angst and hard rhythms. Painted atop due to harsh soundscapes and production comes a crust-drenched tint. This works well with the use of build-up and suspense, thanks to noisy gradients. Moreover, bass takes a very high precedence here, teaming up well with the raspy and grunt-like vocals.
Village stalwart Izzy is delivering a fresh retrospective review every Friday! Make sure to check in weekly for a dose of nostalgia. - Ed.
Written by: Izzy
In spite of my adoration for many of punk’s subgenres, from metalcore to screamo to post-hardcore and more, I tend to struggle with enjoying the older and purer forms of punk. I could talk about the three aforementioned styles for hours and hours, but ask me about my favourite hardcore punk bands and my mind goes blank. Like, there’s uh…I like a couple Black Flag albums I guess? Crass and Spazz are okay too, and there’s a handful of Japanese hardcore bands like Gauze or Crow that I enjoy a lot, oh there’s Rudimentary Peni! Those guys are amazing. What about Midori, do they count? Eh they’re probably too artsy to be hardcore punk, much closer to jazz punk. I could maybe come up with one or two more, but you get the point.
Amongst that tiny list of bands, Fucked Up would probably seem like an odd choice, as most people know them for their later punk rock opera albums, but rather early into their career yet quite late in the grand scheme of hardcore punk sits an oddity dear to my heart: their 2008 sophomore LP The Chemistry of Common Life.
Written by: Shane Thirteen
Gravehuffer! If you haven't heard of this mid-west juggernaut, you will in the near future. They hail from Joplin Missouri, and if you have ever been to Joplin in this century you will know that it is famous for a few things. The first: almost being wiped off the map by a giant widow maker tornado in 2011. The second thing its is known for, far and wide, are the "Spook Lights," an active and annual documented haunting of a nearby farmer's meadow in the area.
What does this have to do with Gravehuffer, you may ask? Imagine, if you will, growing up in a place known for killer tornadoes and dead things literally walking the Earth outside your fucking city. Just milling about. Ya know, like the dead do. So lets examine the name for a moment. Gravehuffer. To huff or to breathe in the rotting putridness of a grave or corpse. To take in to your sinus cavity the rancid smell of rotting flesh. The stank of the dead, as it were.
But what else makes Gravehuffer sound as they do? Undoubtedly some good ol' mid-west oppression from the religious class and a healthy dose of knowing what is on the wrong side of the tracks. Why do I bring all this up? Why is all this prudent to explain Gravehuffer? You have to understand the mid-west mindset to fully understand what these geniuses are doing. What comes together in the middle of the country to influence heavy music fans and musicians? Everything. Everything American, culture-wise, flows to the center. We get it all. Gravehuffer is a regional band for me. I have seen them live a few times. They are solid dudes. Scene leaders undoubtedly. Gravehuffer is the perfect example of culture conglomeration. There are many hybrid bands out there these days, but Gravehuffer is one of those units that brings together everything from punk, thrash, death, and doom to deliver an entirely different vibe and sound to metal. That being said...if you are a fan of heavy you will love what Gravehuffer is bringing to the light of the world: pure Heavy Metal.
Black Doomba Records is releasing NecroEclosion January 15th, 2021, and you better sit down when you listen to it for the first time. Strap in: you are about to go on a trip you won't regret. There a few surprises on this album. I have it looping on my speakers for a while now, and every time I listen to it I find something new. Horns (not Dio horns, but as in brass horns!) Horns in metal? I have never heard it successfully pulled off until Gravehuffer did it on this album. Completely surprised.
Speaking of surprises: spoiler Alert! Gravehuffer has enlisted some heavy hitters as guest players on this album. Voivod's Dan “Chewy” Mongrain and Curran Murphy of Annihilator and Nevermore. If you are fans of any of those bands it is worth your time and effort to own a piece of their history, and history it will make. I fully expect NecroEclosion to launch Gravehuffer to the next level. They have elevated their game. The work done on this album is everything I need out of fast and heavy metal. In my old age I gravitate more towards the stoner doom. But having seen these guys live I knew what was coming. They have delivered something unique. It has covered every heavy metal base for me, including making fun of dance music, which is one of my favorite hobbies. To sum it up: it's all here, kids. Humor, fantasy, thrash, speed, death, hardcore, punk rock, sample babble.
Gravehuffer has something for every fan of heavy and aggressive music. Track them down. Find them on all social media platforms. Smash the like button. On Jan. 15th, share NecroEclosion with your friends.
Gravehuffer - NecroEclosion will be released Jan. 15th, 2021 from Black Doomba Records.
Written by: The Administrator
After receiving official word that my current sequestered life shall extend, at the very least, for another seven months, I decided that it would be worthwhile to rearrange my living space/prison here at the Sleeping Village. Y'know, alter the stuffy environment as much as humanly possible, given a marked inability to go outside.
As such, much furniture hath been moved here within the past few days, and, given a need for a high-octane kick in the ass, the highest quality furniture moving music was required. Crossover thrash was the only thing capable of injecting a little oomph into my disturbingly quarantine-atrophied biceps, and so the debut from Warsaw's Sanity Control--veritable paragons of the modern crossover aesthetic--was spun a disturbing number of times. And here I sit, icing, in hopes that War On Life (or the furniture) didn't push my haggard body beyond the brink. But enough talk. Let's get into it, shall we?
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Nothing like a good ol’ slice of death metal from an area not far from me. Spesimin are an upcoming act out of Philadelphia, PA, and their debut EP Born In The Crypt is an instant burst of in-your-face discomfort. With only thirteen minutes of runtime, they certainly gauge a healthy idea of what they’re all about, as they waste zero time opening on such a harsh kick.
Composition wise, Spesimin injects a surprising amount of thrashier elements. It’s quite riff oriented in that sense, boasting plenty of bounce and energetic life under a harsher mix. This allows for a solid balance between melody and chaos--the former being lesser in quantity. Most of this comes from a crustier, punk-like push that can be heard especially in “Violent Sanctification.” It’s your perfect moshpit banger with plenty of sharp leads breaking the buzzing rhythmic surface.
Written by: Arzou
2020 has been quite the year and we aren’t even halfway done with it. For almost six months we’ve been dealing with pain, sorrow, anger, resentment, and of course, political and social issues. So much so that it’s safe to say that most people have felt like they’re going insane! I know I have. I’ve been cooped up indoors for 69 days! (nice). Luckily, grindcore duo Human Obliteration felt the same way and instead of writing countless facebook posts about how shit sucks, they instead released their latest album “Definition of Insanity” for us to eagerly enjoy with our ear holes.
Straight off the bat, if you haven’t listened to this album: do it. It’s 18 minutes long, which is shorter than your average episode of anime. Trust me, it’s worth it, and a much better use of your time. It’s okay. Your body pillow and cheap instant ramen can wait.
Now that I assume you’ve listened to the album we can continue. If you haven’t that’s okay. I don’t forgive you.
Written by: Izzy
If you’re at all into grindcore, you likely recognize this name. If you aren’t into grind you’ve probably never heard of this band in your life--such as the scene goes, the best bands go unnoticed to all but the most dedicated. That said, I am bringing this album to your attention for one simple reason: it fuckin' rocks and you should go listen to it.
Nepalese immigrant grinders Chepang have been blast-beating their way into the crusty hearts of fans ever since their 2016 EP, Lathi Charge. Chepang, however, have only gotten better and better with each release if you ask me (which you may or may not be, but this is my review). As they improved they also got more adventurous, and Chatta continues to follows that trend. It’s 28 minutes of razor-sharp, hyper-focused jazzy grinding madness, split up into a main section that’s 16 minutes and a 12 minute remix B-side.
Written by: Arzou
ACxDC (Antichrist Demoncore, for the cool kids - Ed.) is to powerviolence as Gutalax is to goregrind. Extremely popular but disliked by the fans of the genre. After releasing their debut self-titled LP in 2014, people have been waiting for a follow up either with excitement or baited breath, ready to throw “ACxDC bad” comments wherever they can. Well it’s here, ACxDC’s Satan is King has been released with 15 songs and 23 minutes, and I’ll tell you what: if Satan is King then Satan is one milquetoast dude.
You see, another similarity ACxDC have with Gutalax is that they are both, despite their popularity, very mediocre. That parallel still reigns true with this album. It checks all the boxes of a good powerviolence album, blistering and skulldenting riffs, slow and crushing sludgy riffs, the ability to confuse grind babies into thinking it’s grind. Should be a good one, right? Well if you think reading a textbook is really fun then this might be the album for you. Despite all the checked boxes it feels like ACxDC really just did the bare minimum and created a bland and tasteless cake able to be consumed by the masses but unable to be remembered by anyone.
In the ‘verse of metal bloggers, there are many small establishments doing cool stuff, and despite the grizzled, ink-splattered, and decidedly misanthropic appearance of our scribes, we here at the Sleeping Village are, on occasion, cordial folks. As the inhabitants of our extensive grave pit will tell you, it’s an undeniably violent world out there. When the marauders return once more to our homely township, we certainly appreciate our allies mettle (and, well, metal. In a manner of speaking). It’s good to have friends.
This is all to say that Alternative Control, out of the wildlands of Connecticut, is one such blog doing cool stuff. As you may recall, we ran a review a while back for their Volume Doom compilation, which featured some truly excellent tracks of the low ‘n’ slow variety. This spring, Alt Ctrl is back with a seasonal sampler--a collection of songs from bands who have appeared on the blog, in some fashion, over the past few months. While the genre cohesion is nonexistent in this case, the general trend is not. To quote site proprietor extraordinaire Jessie May, this sampler contains "no garbage tracks," plain and simple. Sign me up.
There are eight great songs on this compilation, ranging from hardcore, to depressive black metal, to stoner. Each is highly enjoyable in it’s own right. Things kick off with a killer track from German dark metal progenitors Bethlehem--"Niemals mehr Ieben," which features Yvonne "Onielar Wilczynska on haunting vocals, comes from their forthcoming May release. I know the alphabetical nature of the tracklisting makes this a happy coincidence, but if we're going the thematic route, Bethlehem form an excellent bridge from winter's depressive side to a lighter--err, springier--soundscape. From there, Blind Scryer's doomy treatise and Dread These Day's hardcore approach should, on paper, clash, but both are such solid singles that any lost continuity is a complete non-issue. The same can be said for the remaining 5 tracks herein. London's groovy-yet-rockin' Gramma Vedetta, the avant-garde and deliciously bass-heavy Laster, and the ever-provocative Necrosexual all deliver in spades. Owl Maker contributes the penultimate track, the experimental Lizzy-esque "Owl City" from their recent 2-track EP, much beloved by our humble Village. The standout track, however, is the closer--Scabby Ghouls deliver an upbeat and punky Misfits-esque romp. "Knife Fight" is a whimsically horror-themed ditty, and the delightfully bombastic chorus has been stuck in my head for the better part of a month.
All told, this Spring Sampler is a first-rate collection of equally first-rate tunes. Alternative Control is hitting it out of the park with these compilations, and we're very excited to see where this trend takes them. Summer awaits!
1. Bethlehem - "Niemals mehr leben"
2. Blind Scryer - "Delta V"
3. Dread These Days - "Eldfell"
4. Gramma Vedetta - "Address Unknown"
5. Laster - "Haat & bonhomie"
6. Necrosexual - "Trust No One"
7. Owl Maker - "Owl City"
8. The Scabby Ghouls - "Knife Fight"
Cloistered high in the Sleeping Village’s Ivory Tower, amidst the industry of scratching quills and churning parchment, this particular scribe enjoys a moment of reflection, now and again. Without getting preachy, today’s topic is an unfortunate trap that I find myself falling into: I pigeonhole certain genres (and, by extension, bands) as intellectual, operating in contrast to those who are driven by emotion. As a thought process that unconsciously promotes a high-over-low-brow mentality, it’s particularly dangerous when this becomes a system for ranking the quality of music. The takeaway? There are multiple factors that define a band’s sound and approach, and if you approach new music assuming otherwise, you miss out. Case in point: Bather. With a bio that refers to Thomas Hobbes’ civility-be-damned exposé of humanity’s ugly underbelly, William Etty’s Musidora: The Bather 'At the Doubtful Breeze Alarmed, and the poet James Thompson’s Summer, it’s apparent that this Columbus, Ohio quintet approaches art from a decidedly well-read standpoint.
But does that mean their sound itself is stuffy and esoteric? Not in the slightest. Sonically, Bather recalls the good ol’ early days of ‘core, before everything was brought down by uninspired breakdowns and drenched in sappy lyricism. Y’know, neutered. They eschew the jubilantly punk oriented sound of the earliest acts--i.e. Agnostic Front--but 90’s frontrunners such as like Indecision’s Unorthodox, Integrity’s System Overload, or perhaps Hatebreed’s Under the Knife get you in a similar arena of hardcore spite and sasquatchian riffage. Promo material rightly compares Bather’s furious sound to Destroy the Machines, the debut album from metalcore tough guys Earth Crisis. Aggressive, dense, misanthropic. Throw in a healthy dose of death-tinged sludge for good measure.
Influences aside, Bather are undeniable bruisers. Drums are clobbered into submission, and the guitar is...weaponized, for lack of a better word. Whether chugging or thrumming, this tone is walloped around like a bat wrapped in barbed wire. The riffs themselves, while mighty, exist largely as a staging ground for muscular vocals, which act as the debut’s hooven glue. Like a wasp-stung muskox, this guy grunts and yelps with vivacious intensity. He alternates between styles of delivery with a certain abandon that, while seeming wild, is undoubtedly calculated. This expressive range lends Bather a dynamism that is frankly stunning for such a belligerent brand of ‘core. Look the the chorus on “All Dark Rooms,” or to the moments between chugs on “Birds,” where the vocals are particularly repugnant (and this, of course, in the best sense of the word). Thick, brooding, swathed in sweat. Even the more straightforward delivery on “The Path” utilizes a burly knuckle-dragging swagger, which is, in time, counteracted by a higher pitched tone. It’s both brutal and nuanced. A hard balance to hit.
As a result, nothing here feels stale. Take, for example, the aformentioned “All Dark Rooms,” which adjusts the tempo and general atmosphere, bringing the aggression from a boil to a menacing simmer. Similarly, closing track “Leaves Like Bones” changes the pace to a near-dirge at points, which is a well-played distraction from the fury of prior tracks. The latter may have succeeded more so as a mid-album interlude of sorts, as a punchier conclusion may have left the audience with a fresher welt. An exceedingly minor complaint, however, because in reality, reaching the end is essentially an open invitation to smash the repeat.
It's grimy, but beyond that, the whole affair is tinged with the miasma of sin. By tapping into the aggression, tension, and brutality of a short life sans society, Bather have done the near-impossible: they’ve crafted a metalcore album that holds appeal for academic riff-addicts. Honestly, when’s the last time you’ve been able to say that about ‘core? This debut is an impressive feat. Highly recommended.
Bather’s self-titled debut will be released April 12th, 2019 from Appalachian Noise Records.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!