A PILE OF BODIES part two of a yearlong feature in the form of a list devoted to grouping together requested reviews for recordings of interest that were released between March 1st – April 30th in the year 2020. These albums were volunteered by the bands directly with request for coverage/review. All releases are given equal time and consideration unless the art demands more attention, some releases were excluded for crimes outside of already very forgiving taste! All releases are presented in a loose order of receipt. If you’d like to send an independent release for review: firstname.lastname@example.org please see FAQ for details on submitting releases.
|Title [Type/Year]||Sleepwulf [LP/2020]|
|Cursed Tongue Records||PREVIEW on Bandcamp!|
Strap on that cherry red Gibson SG, grab a pair of homemade bell-bottoms, stick a joint in the headstock for intermission and we’re in the right headspace for Kristianstad, Sweden based quartet Sleepwulf who’ve made thier self-titled debut full-length statement here within terrestrial earshot of proto-doom metal and late 70’s occult rock darkness. Straight up you’ve heard this sound before and no doubt bands like Witchcraft, Kadavar, Graveyard, Demon Head, Dunbarrow and countless others have kept the Sabbath ‘n Pentagram dream alive but I’d argue this sound is timeless and the variations here are remarkably fresh, spirited, and exactly the sort of magickal doom rock true doom die-hards are always praying to our auld urns to be cursed by.
What’d clicked for me in terms of songwriting, beyond the obvious, was when a friend of mine had remarked that they had the feeling of Atomic Rooster‘s debut; Of course without a keyboard in the mix that didn’t ring true sonically but with consideration for the spirit of the music there is some similarly stoned and sour personal desolation here. Yeah in reality it’ll be a ‘recommended if you like’ record for fans of early Witchcraft and ‘Last Rites’-era Pentagram. Sweet place to be, sweet ass record, and an incredible jam to sit with on a weekend afternoon. As a debut it feels like a show ’em how statement, fully goddamned capable stuff, but I’d like to see what they can do with more full and/or psychedelic sounds without losing that incredible songwriting voice.
|Title [Type/Year]||Ladoga [LP/2020]|
|Olhava on Facebook||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Olhava is a cinematic post-black metal duo out of Saint Petersburg, Russia featuring members of Trna and Somn. These names won’t mean much if you’re not huge into ruski atmospheric black metal but the gist is that these young gentlemen excel at heavily layered and sweetly droning atmoblack sounds using the general modus of post-rock for structurally loose boundaries. ‘Ladoga’ finds the duo at this most expressive, inspired by a core concept of man’s return to nature. The idea that the body of man is largely unchanged from our ancestors but our minds are completely different is a paradox in some respects and a meaningful point of consideration in others. This thought is used as a medium to ponder ones place in the universe, both in terms of existentialist bewilderment and the creation of finding one’s place in nature when culture and society feel their most oppressive. ‘Ladoga’ is valuable for the washes of contemplative and peaceful atmospheric black metal it provides as a ringing vacuum of meditative thought. The nearly 18 minute “Trembling Night” has been a regular spin in my rotation lately and I’d suggest at least experiencing that piece.
|Title [Type/Year]||Funeral Radio [LP/2020]|
|Witches of Doom on Facebook||BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Witches of Doom are an interesting crossing of gothic metal, stoner rock, and doom metal influences that works best when they’re on the solid ground that (non-adventurous) stoner metal and alternative rock structures provides. A quick look at the tortured album art and messy typeface and you know something is going to be ‘off’ about ‘Funeral Radio’ but thankfully they’re totally inoffensive. Think of Witches of Doom as a dramatic stoner rock band with a taste for Type O Negative and Danzig and some serious grungy 90’s heavy metal standards clunking out from below. Does the easy groove of southern/stoner rock work when the vocals are sogged-out with watery effects and easy-paced gloom of gothic metal? Well, it worked for Paradise Lost on ‘Icon’ but it doesn’t really gel together for these Romans just yet. The same way you can tell when a writer doesn’t read books you can tell that Witches of Doom aren’t digging deep enough for inspiration when it comes to crafting their instrumental vision. The vocal effects have to go and focusing on harmonization would go much further for the intended style, the guitars need a to really ‘go for it’ with a more distinct tone/effects, and the dirty bass tone that kicks off the album gets totally lost in most of these songs. There are a few exceptions, as I found “Sister Fire” reached into some interesting territory in its refrain, and “Queen of Suburbia” is a pretty catchy piece. This one won’t be up to par for a lot of stoner rock/metal fans but I think gothic rock/metal folks will warm to at least some of what ‘Funeral Radio’ has to offer.
|Title [Type/Year]||Highwaymen At the Vesper [Split LP/2020]|
|Grodek on Facebook||Falling Giants Side / Grodek Side|
Here we have a split LP between two independent bands along the Adriatic coast of Italy. Up first is Ancona-area stoner/sludge metal band Falling Giants who kick things off with an extended quasi-psychedelic doom instrumental piece, jog into a sludgy stoner metal roar, then pivot over towards death growls and doom metal on the final piece. That last eponymous song is a reworking of an epic piece from their first demo (back in 2018) and this new version is much improved. It is way early in the band’s lifespan to really gauge what they’ll become but I love the range covered on their side of the split, from grungy sludge to loosely woven punkish stoner runs. If you’re not sure what to make of their sound check out their 2019 EP as I found it summed up their style a bit faster.
Second is Grodek from a bit further south in Vasco and their style couldn’t be more different, leaning towards the melodic death/doom spectrum with some light melodic black metal influences in the guitar work. I liked this side of the split, really strong melodic voicing in the guitars and a deeper vocal register that is still readable a la recent October Tide records. Beautifully morbid lyrics and very strong guitar work make this a special experience to have stumbled into and I’d found myself captivated as a generally enthusiastic fan of this type of death/doom metal. Having sat with both sides of this split for a while I really appreciated the window into Italian underground extreme music that is distinct and yet readable and tastefully within certain sub-genre norms. Both bands have promising futures and I am excited to hear what each does next.
|Title [Type/Year]||Dead End Town [LP/2020]|
|BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp|
2020 hasn’t been a huge year for noise rock just yet, and I couldn’t point to many true highlights but this solo project from Minneapolis, Minnesota musician Josh Stever arrives with the right spirit and sensibilities. Belligerent, confrontational, ranting, and occasionally fucking annoying like a drunk uncle at a shitty kids birthday party Asbestos Worker don’t know when to shut up and I like ’em for it. Noise rock that doesn’t forget to rock, eh? The man collapses, not the grooves! ‘Dead End Town’ leads with its strongest pieces and fully understands that the big riffs and nods to early 90’s noise rock are where folks’ ears are going to perk up. The first six songs, Side A, is all killer and the main reason to pick this debut LP up but dude loses steam on Side B with the spoken-sung vocals wearing thin and the lyrics begin to lose their clever charm. Don’t get me wrong I appreciate what a song like “Deadlock” is saying, totally, but at some point it becomes a third song on a drunken dad poetry slam, growled over a late 80’s Melvins riff. Top this off with the last two songs being: “Hey, hey buddy. Fuck you, fucker.” I’d just wanted this approached with as much care and tact as the first half of the record. Its cool, I mean noise rock is supposed to push you with its honesty so ‘Dead End Town’ goes where it needs to in terms of narrative. Not a perfect record but still a damned good one for the noise rock crowd.
|Title [Type/Year]||Plague [Demo/2020]|
|BUY & LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Disrotter are a fairly new project featuring members of black/death rippers Appalling and cavernous crypt-cursers Scolex. Their pristine cover of Terrorizer‘s “Storm of Stress” should immediately cue you into what they’re up to, crust-thickened and merciless deathgrind that will shock the shit outta fans of bands like Excruciating Terror and Insect Warfare. The whole demo is less than eight minutes long but they pack an obscene amount of death n’ grind riffing into the piece alongside some Autopsy-esque stumbling and plenty of society-collapsing blasts. Huge recommend for folks who love deathgrind if/when it has riffs. I’d like to see what they could do with 20 minutes and if it’d stretch beyond the straight forward kill of this tape.
|Title [Type/Year]||Das Nichts [LP/2020]|
|Gods Yrre on Facebook||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
A concept album exploring the mythos of Hell, the underworld, and the realms of punishment promised by subversive religions spanning cultures the world over, ‘Das Nichts’ is the third full-length in a trilogy from Godes Yrre. Formed as a side project from promising Cuban death metal group Sectarium, Godes Yrre is the work of musician Abel Oliva who combines industrial metal, gothic metal, and some influences from extreme metal for the sound of this project which’d began back in 1994 as an experimental death metal side-project. If you can look past the sort of ‘bedroom metal’ aesthetics of a release like this where thin guitars and programmed percussion appear sharp-edged in creation of organically intended music then you’ll likely find ‘Das Nichts’ successful in terms of atmosphere and feeling, there is this odd early Septic Flesh feeling to certain songs that I’d enjoyed (see: “Death of the Worms Lord”) though the vocals really don’t do much for me between bad modulated effects and a lot of whispered parts that do nothing for the music. As a personal solo project I’d say this communicates atmosphere and mood well enough, it feels like the kind of thing we’d get on CD from Wild Rags back in the late 90’s where it would have been forward thinking at the time and generally more of a demo quality release. Interesting but definitely not my ‘thing’ in terms of style.
|Title [Type/Year]||Postnihilera [LP/2020]|
|Nomad Sky Diaries||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Here is my absolute favorite request of the last two months and one of my favorite black metal records from April, the second full-length from this raw naturalistic and unhinged Slovakian black metal project, Porenut. First thing you should notice is the woodcut style album artwork from Svjatogor who plays drums on ‘Postnihilera’ as well as in the incredible Ceremony of Silence whom you should remember from last year. What does it depict, though? An ascetic floating his raft along the river, afire and having eaten those on it with him. Maybe my imagination is running wild with this perception because the music inspires me but, this along with the suggestion of post-nihilism means to depict the current fated mankind in a state of self-defeat and unknowing ruin. I’m sure the lyrics within are actually much deeper than this, as the translated pieces I’ve read are eloquent and acerbic, but I think getting the ‘vibe’ of ‘Postnihilera’ is most important. So, without question this record is a piece of cerebral yet feral art between imagery and poetry but, what of the music?
‘Postnihilera’ is a black metal album in motion, raw and clangorous in the true spirit of the genre but also completely willing to take the rhythms of pagan black metal and shatter them into compelling, mind-expanding tirades. By the time “Starec, ktorý zabudol…” rings out its last few chords I feel I’ve peeled only one layer of paint from an old artifact, that there is something golden and truly transgressive beneath if I keep listening. What some might see as quirky or deranged in spirit I found moving, vibrant and restless in response to the stimulus of today. I’ll have a bit more to write about this album soon, as it will be included in my ‘Best of April 2020’ column shortly, but I wanted to include it here to amplify its reach as I am truly moved by the jagged spirit of ‘Postnihilera’.
|Title [Type/Year]||The Curse [LP/2020]|
|Hellhookah on Facebook||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
Hailing from Vilnius, Lithuania this duo manage a healthy rip of classic doom metal that leans into the bounding nature of stoner metal along the way. The main point of character when approaching ‘The Curse’ is certainly vocalist/guitarist Arnas‘ thick accent and breathy vocal delivery which make for some incredibly distinct moments within what is otherwise a fairly straight forward psychedelic doom metal experience. “The Creature” embodies the sort of bluesy slow-motion doom-rock spirit of the band and this should appeal to folks who love both Finnish style doom metal as well as stuff like Year of the Cobra. The really big grooves come nearby the title track in the middle and second half of the album and I’d felt like a real peak was reached between “Flashes” and “The Curse”. Hellhookah might appear non-serious at a glance but ‘The Curse’ is seriously a good time for pure doom metal and stoner/doom metal fans who’re looking for bands that aren’t just bland Electric Wizard rehashes.
|Title [Type/Year]||Abandon Hope [Demo/2020]|
|Doomsday Profit on Facebook||BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!|
A quick demo featuring live and rehearsal recordings from this Raleigh, North Carolina area psychedelic doom/sludge metal quartet, ‘Abandon Hope’ offers a glimpse into what these guys were up to before widespread plague put studio recordings on hold. Hey, not the best circumstances but all things considered this is actually a great first glimpse of what makes Doomsday Profit special. Think along the lines of Yatra or Warhorse with rasped vocals and psychedelic doom metal influenced sludge slugging things along. Miserable and nearly as apocalyptic as their name and nihilistic themes suggest, I see the potential here on this demo but I’d definitely say it speaks more of their songwriting and arrangement skill rather than the typical stoner/doom metal sound they’ve given a bit of a sludge snarl to. “Scryers of the Smoke” should fire up the psych-doom crowd and holy damn, “Monument to Nothing” is a fuckin’ jam if you can make out its driving bassline. I’d probably cut that intro track if a studio demo happens down the road but otherwise this was an excellent first glance at what Doomsday Profit are all about.
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