Written by: Blackie Skulless
Looking back to my days of high school, it’s fun to reminisce on albums that came out around the time that had some sort of hype, but lost it over the years. Sometimes, that’s due to not aging well; other times, it just gets lost in the depths of everything else going on. Trivium’s album In Waves comes to mind, considering that it’s one that seldom gets talked about (positive or negative) compared to the likes of Shogun or Ascendancy these days. This disc turns ten later on this year, and I still to this day view it as a masterpiece, which may be a bit of a hot take.
For starters, I want to say that this is metalcore done exactly right. By this point, most metalcore bands abandoned the genre’s roots, and traded in thrashy riffs and hardcore aesthetic for endless chugs, overly produced vocals, and extremely generic songwriting. Trivium never got caught up in that undertow. In Waves is absolutely packed with furious thrash riffs that cast sharp hooks, and evenly work in the hardcore chugs without being overwhelming. If that isn’t enough, the actual songs have more advanced writing than ever. The Crusade may be a more direct thrash release, but this is where Matt Heafy and co. blended it wonderfully with hardcore to pump out a spectacular album.
FRESH MEAT...erm, SATURDAY: April 17th, 2021, Feat. Bushido Code and Mother Anxiety / S H R I E K I N G
Every Friday (erm...or Saturday, folks), a wagon arrives at the Sleeping Village’s rusted palisade, stuffed to the brim with musical sustenance. Today is the day we must offload this week's new and noteworthy music, and so, in the process, we thought it would be worthwhile to share some of our choice picks from this veritable mass of fresh meat. This is what we’ll be listening to today at the Village HQ. We hope you join us in doing so!
This week marked the release of a whole lot o' stellar music, but we opted to focus on two albums rather than our typical four. As such, please accept these delayed-albeit-longer-than-usual reviews. - Ed.
On the docket for today, April 17th, 2021:
Bushido Code and Mother Anxiety / S H R I E K I N G
Bushido Code - The Ronin
Before we get too far into it: how 'bout that opening riff? Muscular, pugilistic, and delightfully earmwormy. Needless to say, The Ronin's title track is exactly what ye might expect from a band that bills itself as a hearty metal/thrash/hardcore crossover conglomerate. The tracks that hit do so with a notable gusto, and the energy contained within the first half of the album is quite infectious, coated with an unexpectedly fun and groovy patina. As such, Bushido Code operate best when they embrace the intrinsic physicality of their work.
While one might expect a typical bruiser-ish crossover lyrical route, "The Ronin" opts for character-driven storytelling over tough guy posturing, which is always a bonus in this line of work. Critically, the album does lose a little steam and sheer headbanging energy in the back half after interlude "Prelude to Battle," and makes me wonder if it would have landed even harder as an EP with all the fluff neatly trimmed away. But let's be real: for a 29 minute album, I ain't complaining all that much. Listening to this thing inevitably results in a whole lotta sweat and a very sore neck. It serves as prime "get pumped" music, and, as such, has found itself employed in mighty fine service down at the ol' home gym. If yer on the hunt for the juiciest cuts, give "Ronin," "Aftermath," and "Relic of War" a listen, and throw 'em on your workout playlist for good measure.
Find it on bandcamp here!
Mother Anxiety & S H R I E K I N G - Isolation Diary
Confession time: I went into this release with a certain trepidation, despite a favorable familiarity with both artists featured. The trepidation came from the subject matter itself, and the prospect of immersing myself fully. In a not-yet-post-COVID-world, the impact of isolation is a sore subject, and living through the eyes of not one but two distinct projects was intimidating. After many, many listens, it still is. I think that's a good thing.
Like unto the best of experimental music, this stellar split between solo acts Mother Anxiety and S H R I E K I N G is not immediately digestible. Given the complex arrangement of ambient, drone, post metal-- punctuated by the occasional blackened outburst or assorted spoken word samples--each of the nine tracks herein takes significant time to explore. As someone who thrives on releases that merit multiple listens in a variety of environments, I feel fully consumed by this split in a way that is equally satisfying and confusing.
The first half, home to Mother Anxiety, presents a largely half-conscious atmosphere and ambiance, featuring a quiet cacophony of hushed voices and assorted electronic noises. Listening to these four tracks feels intrusive in a wholly unique fashion: this is like listening to the inside of my own skull, witnessing undeveloped thoughts tumble and collapse. "Entry 4" is the culmination, and it illustrates the yoke of anxiety with frightening accuracy. These entries are not meditative; Mother Anxiety's half feels like a reflection of a consciousness under constant duress. In contrast, S H R I E K I N G's contribution feels more outward--its (frankly indescribable) confluence of genre allows for more sonic range. That said, it still feels intensely individual, which, given the overarching theme of loneliness, indicates a Job Well Done. While the first half feels inwardly panicked, S H R I E K I N G somehow uses chaos to impart a deep sense of heart wrenching sadness. This is genuinely tear-inducing stuff, and I don't have the words to articulate why. That's uncomfortable, but it is also a demonstration that this split has succeeded enormously at what it set out to do. Bravo.
Find Mother Anxiety here and S H R I E K I N G here
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Not far from my stomping grounds, Philadelphia, PA based Daeva somewhat helped my recent growing taste for certain styles of black metal. Though they’re heavily thrash induced, the lone EP entitled Pulsing Dark Absorptions is an evil and crushing spin. Their only release to date, it’s full of breakneck speeds, blistering blackened vocals, and evil lyrics to the max. Very much one of those things that passes by before you even realize it.
Comprised of four tracks and a Mayhem cover, there isn’t a lot of time for any kind of filler or screwing around. For optimal experience, it’s layered nicely to allow the drums to pop really well, displaying advanced fills all over the already crushing riffage. “No Effective Banishings” weaves this in with tremolo picks to really inject that harsher feel, allowing slower passages to come across more menacing. “Clenched Fist Of The Beast” is a rather straightforward track with a noisier effect, backed by chaotic execution.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Coming from the cooler lands of Minnesota is a fresh project of thrash and death proportions known as Begravement. Considering how young these kids are, they definitely have an ear for abrasive fronts and classic tactics, managing to get out a demo-quality EP early this year known, in turn, as Conjuring The Necromancer. Notably, there’re also some slight hints at progressive-leaning writing.
With all of that in mind, it is obviously pretty rookie. This is nearly a half hour of extremely unhinged layering at depths that are sometimes difficult to measure. By that I mean it’s a bit uneven in spots between bass and lead/rhythm precedence. On the bright side, the hooks are plenty sharp, such as the simpler rhythms in the title track, as well as its bridge. “Opaque Malevolence” is also a more straightforward one that was stronger in this regard, emulating thrashy passages that make up the better parts of this disc.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Wow, talk about a neat hybrid here. Sleepless are a band that took formation from the remnants of an ‘80s death metal project called Dead Conspiracy. The trick is that they are meant to be a traditional heavy metal act, but the death metal history makes its way into the actual music itself, thus creating something that could be heavy/death metal? It seems impossible, you can’t really have the latter without harsh vocals, but should it exist, I think this would be it.
Entitled Blood Libel, this EP is four songs of chunky and brooding riffs that are topped off with melodic singing. Thank our lucky stars that the vocals aren’t overly clean production-wise, because this allows the two to work together rather nicely. Opener “The Man Who Could Not Sleep” is the beefiest song here, churning out multiple moods dipped into this odd blend. The constant jumps in pace and deep piano notes thrown in make it such a fun ride. “Host Desecration” follows this with a sinister drop in tone and overall meaner makeup.
Written by: Lord Hsrah
Torture, pain, cannibalism, gore, evisceration, murderous psychopaths are all entities done, brushed, bruised and dusted in death metal and all its various derivative forms over the years. But Pune, India based trio Dead Exaltation bring forth their debut album, Despondent, in progressive/technical death metal flavors, and with it an interesting story of innocent civilians picked off the streets straight into prison, for no rhyme or reason (well, that's a rhyme), left at the mercy of a psychopathic jail warden and his sadistic, cannibal guards who show them what it feels like being hell's very own citizens living in God's created world.
Dead Exaltation took birth in 2015 as a five-piece band, but flowing in the daily course of the river of life, bassist Anish Poulose and second guitarist Sourjya Mukherjee separated as tributaries, leaving vocalist Satyajit Gargori, guitarist Mradul Singhal (who also recorded the bass, now deceased, R.I.P), and drummer Aditya Oke to record this since-long composed concept album.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
The third full-length offering by Vanik somewhat came out of nowhere, but seeing how much I liked Vanik II: Dark Season, this became a priority. Simply titled III (or Vanik III), it delivers more of what they’re great at. Since the beginning, Shaun Paul Vanek and Co. have delivered hefty blasts of heavy/speed metal residing on the rustier side. Picture something like Venom but not quite as abrasive--or in other words, lose the blackened atmosphere.
A notable difference that could be spotted right away is the cleanliness of the riffs and even the vocals a bit here. Though still raspy, the layering is better placed to allow every part to stand out in its own merit, even if it loses a little bit of the bass prominence from before. That also forces room for a tiny drop of melody boost and passages that feel a bit more comprehensive. No worries though, because you still don’t lose that spooky undertow that coats everything this band does.
Written by: The Voiceless Apparitio
Where do I even begin? Only in 2020--one of the most trying times in human history--would Mr. Bungle come back to release "new" music. Granted, it's a re-recording of their first demo, but still, it's freshly recorded material from them. I, of course, am beyond stoked to see this happen. I'm a strong admirer of Mr. Bungle, and, for that matter, most of Mike Patton's projects. This album features the original trio of Mike Patton, Trey Spruance, and Trevor Dunn, and this time they are joined by Scott Ian from Anthrax on rhythm guitars and Dave Lombardo, formerly of Slayer, Fantomas, and various other bands on drums. A stellar lineup of musicians.
So now it's time: The Easter Bunny is pissed off and out for blood. Can you survive its WRATH?
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?
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!