Short Reviews | October 2nd, 2022

SHORT REVIEWS Our first set of October 2022 releases finds us stumbling headfirst into a grip of big-deal releases, some major label stuff and most of it fairly extreme but we’ve got some desert rock, mega-shoegaze, and such in there too. All of ’em are pretty golden this time around. I’ve done my best to showcase the most interesting works that I come across while still presenting some decent variety but choices boil down to what sticks, what inspires or what is worth writing about. If you find something you dig in the lot of ’em, go tell the band on social media and support them with a purchase. The arts require your support and contributions. If you’d like your music reviewed send promos to: grizzlybutts@hotmail.com


ARTIST:GOATWHORE
TITLE:Angels Hung From the Arches of Heaven
LABEL(S):Metal Blade Records
RELEASE DATE:October 7th, 2022

Somewhere nearby ‘Carving Out the Eyes of God‘ (2009) New Orleans, Louisiana borne black-thrashing death crew Goatwhore would lean into their hardcore punk and thrash metal side a bit harder and it seems to have been good for the continued expansion of their sound, which still manages a balance of catchier groove focused riffs, black-thrash metal, and easy to ride with blackened death metal kicking about on this eighth LP. I haven’t kept up with the group over the years so it was great to blast through the void of knowledge for their discography and still find ’em consistently up to their usual high standard. This time around the energy is up well enough for a ~48 minute record with reasonable pacing beyond the opening bruiser even if “side thrash” and “side black/death” kinda began to fissure into separate parts on repeat listens. The whole thing benefits from a solid amount of variety otherwise and despite there being at few too many ~3.5 minute quick burners and lower impact songs mid-album.

There’ll be no argument here that these folks can put together a memorable listening experience, Goatwhore‘ve got an ear for what sticks and still reads relatively close to classic extreme metal ethos, managing a spin which makes quick friends without flaunting any trendy absorption. I’m left wanting for the elbow deep underground side of the coin, the true freakout shit ain’t here in general, but they’ve gone there before on previous albums well enough and we find no great lack here in terms of ideas. For my own taste the most inspired and rousing pieces among the twelve here are the hardest thrashed songs, so, as much as I enjoyed the many bases covered herein I’d just as well have been satisfied with a half hour of their hardest stuff since all of it is reasonably tuneful. ‘Angels Hung From the Arches of Heaven‘ lands somewhere nearby my expectations overall, a fairly airtight showing from a gateway drug kind of group that’ll quickly teach some tenets of black, thrash and death in various admixture while still entertaining with some performative value.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

ARTIST:TWIN DRUGS
TITLE:In Now Less Than Ever
LABEL(S):CrazySane Records
RELEASE DATE:October 7th, 2022

Twin Drugs manifest what folks innately into heavier music would imagine the existential dread inherent to shoegaze would sound like at a proper sonic extreme, fuzz-deranged and lush but entirely bent along the ruined drainpipe of its sleepy rhythms and catchier, dreamier pop expressionism. All worlds are relative, though, right? I’ve read “maximalist”, “harsh” and such used as descriptors by those well in-the-know yet after ten years of dodging Bandcamp blackgaze dreck this level of buzzing raw vibe is pure, oily pleasure listening. It is the sort of record which’ll find folks who remember the droning edge of records like ‘Evol‘ and ‘Isn’t Anything‘ fully prepared to sag their head and let out an involuntary depressive nose-sigh at least once per minute. If your interest in noise rock and shoegaze kind of rises to a head around 1989 you’ll definitely hear some of that dread, distortion and listlessness here but more importantly it has been amplified to a beautiful (yet not cheaply crystalline) standard here with extra nods deserved between the drum production, the guitar performances, and the render itself which holds up brilliantly when cranked too loud. It runs a bit over, I get the itch to spin back around to the start by the time the heartbeat of “Rule 110” puts me to sleep, yet the final two pieces are some of the more substantial work on the record. Pure pleasure listening from my point of view and one of my favorite non-metal records of the month.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

ARTIST:HUMAN CORPSE ABUSE
TITLE:Xenoviscerum
LABEL(S):Selfmadegod Records,
Caligari Records
RELEASE DATE:October 7th, 2022

Human Corpse Abuse is a deathgrind duo from Shelby Lermo (Ulthar, Vastum) and Adam Jarvis (Misery Index, Pig Destroyer) which speaks directly to the horrified late 80’s/early 90’s ex-hardcore punk gone noisecore ’til deathgrind part of my brain (see: Blood (Germany), early Nuclear Death, Xysma) while also tapping into the uglier veins of powerviolence, early grindcore experimentation, and a few shades of brutal death as they ping and pitch-shifted-puke all the way across these mauling ~18 minutes. Without any spaces between songs on my end it was a straight shot end-to-end and a bit of a terrorizing mindfuck to sit through on repeat, not knowing when to take a break and in that sense it’d been entertaining as one big head-on attack that’d only ever slow down to a mid-paced death metal stomp. Filthy yet satisfying death noise. Only thing I’d suggest is actually making further releases one big mass, it plays all the more sinister and oppressive without any assigned stopping points.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

ARTIST:CLOUD RAT
TITLE:Threshold
LABEL(S):Artoffact Records
RELEASE DATE:October 7th, 2022

Michigander grindcore trio Cloud Rat manage to make every minute of their rasped, beaten and spun-up take on the sub-genre read as modernity at a point where grind-adjacent music appears a completely known universe. They’ve brought in a hit of post-metallic groan to their guitar progressions, leaning into a few sleepier points of soul-searching but the basis of their most memorable peaks tend to revolve around square-cut riffs from the book of early 2000’s sludged-out grind abstraction, cleaning that idea up and pinning it at hardest possible impact. It reads as an ever-dragging cyclone, leaving a carved path in the pavement yet never stooping down to metalcore tropes or entirely blunted motion. Production here reminds me of the best of early Nasum, and the influence from neocrust and d-beat shine next to that can-kicking and kinda compressed drum presence well enough. It feels like a proper garaged-out hardcore release, emphasis on the bass drums providing a shaky but satisfyingly thick foundation. Plenty of highlights across these fifteen songs, “Cusp” floats off, “Persocom” goes off, and “Kaleidoscope” ensures you’ve not missed the unique character of the band overall.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

ARTIST:SUN VOYAGER
TITLE:Sun Voyager
LABEL(S):Ripple Music
RELEASE DATE:October 7th, 2022

New York-based and desert-minded garage psych pushers Sun Voyager have managed one of the best releases of the week for my own taste a high-spirited shove of electric-wah fuzzed downpour, all the right exaggerated heavy rock moves, a bit of ancient metal bustle in their side-steps and always a wandering ear for nowadays broad reaching but singularly expressed psychedelic rock. “Run For You” is a ride as much as it is a still-building anthemic upswing, “Some Strange” is a heavy-headed Spacemen 3-esque nodder, and the full experience isn’t as spread-eagled out there as Earthless or as intently focused as certain comparable Fuzz records but manages some spiritual adjacency to each. I don’t think it needs to amount to more than a shot of energy to be effective but the droning quality of their slower, eased up movements on this record (“Feeling Alright”) manage to give it all a sense of dynamic intensity and ease on the krauty repetition otherwise. An easy record to pick up and simply enjoy, mind altered or otherwise, as the summer afterglow sets in.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

ARTIST:BLODHEMN
TITLE:Sverger Hemn
LABEL(S):Dark Essence Records
RELEASE DATE:October 7th, 2022

Though the cold, murderous gaze of meathook wielding Norwegian black metal act Blodhemn persists their fourth full-length album finds musician Invisus further experimenting with elements of classic thrash and heavy rock. Their sound is overall still not too far from the aggression of groups like Svarttjern but perhaps even more rooted in traditional heavy metal inspiration, as evidenced by “Bomb Bergen” and “Velg Din Gift”, while also reaching for traditional Norwegian black metal scalding cold throughout. Roughly half of the pieces here wander into unexpected or simply divergent territory, lending even more of a punkish aggression to a group already known to be a bit of a knife fight yet album closer “Tid” should serve a surprise in terms of cleaner vocals with a sentimental tonal reach. A well stylized listening experience and frequently thrash riffcraft held my attention well and served some additional depth on repeat listens, the only minor catch here is that the drumming sounds programmed, or, the cymbals don’t convince at the very least, a bit less soil at the foot of all their carnage than desired. The album art is very memorable and the riffs generally are, too, warranting a moderately high recommendation overall.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

ARTIST:BLIND ILLUSION
TITLE:Wrath of the Gods
LABEL(S):Hammerheart Records
RELEASE DATE:October 7th, 2022

The original 1978-1992 run of Bay Area prog-thrash/heavy metal group Blind Illusion certainly received intermittent boost of mention over the years due to their debut full-length’s association with Les Claypool, Kirk Hammett, and Larry Lalonde helpfully allowing it to be immortalized in the years since 1988 but the real hardcore thrash metal heads either never forgot, or discovered it through file-sharing over the last twenty years as they plumbed the history of the sub-genre for its hidden gems. I could write pages upon pages on how much I adore ‘The Sane Asylum‘ but I wouldn’t ever go into a record like ‘Wrath of the Gods‘ expecting these folks to recreate it well over three decades later. With that said I did feel like having Doug Piercy (ex-Heathen) and Andy Gallon (ex-Death Angel) involved in this second attempt at a return to the realm since reforming in 2009 really helped with keeping the ideas primarily focused on the parameters, or strict semblance of distinctly Bay Area thrash metal sounds. Of course this includes the funkier Faith No More-esque strange of the late 80’s on a couple songs (“Spaced” is a vibe you know when you hear it) but not to a full-on Mordred level of funk-thrash, fans of 90’s Flotsam and Jetsam won’t feel alienated in the slightest at least.

Anyhow, in approach of ‘Wrath of the Gods‘ we’ve got an unmistakably “thrash metal” LP from Blind Illusion which even those still most high off classic thrash should not be able to pick or preen over with disgust, they’ve kept it fully tuneful and heavy throughout with an appreciably warm and analog sound. An honest, street level heavy metal performance with a weirding and talented tip is exactly on par with the ’88 spiritus excitable fandom have been pining for, so, you got it and it is good. Beyond being stoked to hear a complete version of “Slow Death” (originally an instrumental pre-production track from the 1989 ‘Psychedelic Symphony‘ demo) I am personally a bit more interested in the straight up high fantasy/prog influenced heavy metal pieces over on Side B (“Lucifer’s Awakening”, “Behemoth”) where it begins to feel like there is a path beyond-yet-adjacent to that sound that folks have such nostalgia for. We don’t need to call it “comeback” or whatever, just a great progressive thrash metal record from folks who’d been at it well before those sub-genre tags were even imagined, much less tropes. Easy record to pick up and jam, I’d found the CD extra pieces were worthy but the album artwork has me leaning towards vinyl.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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