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Another day, another Roundup…

Here’s some more (just barely) back catalogue business, ranging from the end of September through the start of The Double Deuce…which is to say, still plenty of time to run out and grab these if so inclined.

So without further ado, shall we?

Atavistia – Through the Hollow Raven’s Eyes (October 18)

With all the bombast of a festival circuit Viking metal act but the nasty
snarly-puke vox, blastbeat drumming and symphonic keyboard driven
business of some cheesy symphonic black metal one, these Vancouverites
come off more European than Canuck.

Polished production, assured performance…yawn and a stretch for us, but if
this sounds like your kind of thing, it probably is.

Wömit Angel – Under Sadistic Pressure (Reaper Metal Productions) (October 1)

Ah, Germany’s answer to The Mentors are back again with yet another slab
of sloppy-ass and repulsively lyriced “war metal” juvenalia.

While we were somewhat amused anyone was trying to revive this sort of
crass humor around the time of Sadomatic Evil, by the time they’d dropped Imprint of Extinction, it became obvious they were determined to overstay their welcome.

Here again is yet more of the same, for those desperate to hear far less clever
takes on the likes of “the 4F club”, “peeping tom” and Bill Cosby’s theme
song, “sleep bandits”.

Of course, referencing those songs gives waaaaaaaaay too much credit to
our Deutsche friends, who appropriate the grossout humor, weight problems
and executioner hoods, but without the boisterous humor and drunk in an
alley telling everyone to fuck off vibe El Duce and his pals brought to the
table.

And without that…sorry, it just ain’t the Mentors.

Cleric – Serpent Psalms (Raw Skull Recordz) (October 25)

Weird, overly busy death metal. While quite modern in most respects, it’s
apparent they’re at least trying to hail the retro bus as it speeds right
past their frantically waving arms, unconcerned.

There is a bit of the more obscure end of vintage DM to be picked up here,
thinking acts like Miasma, Krabathor, arguably a bit of Sinister in the frantic
speed that tends to define them…but it’s the slower, more deliberate
sections that bring the listener back from glazed eyed unconcern to pay
attention for a bit. Those parts sound most like Gorefest, perhaps with a hint
of Bolt Thrower in the vocals.

If there were a hell of a lot more of the latter and precious little of the former,
this would come off a whole fuck of a lot better than it does.

Yawn. I guess they tried…

…next?

Sentient Horror – Morbid Realms (Redefining Darkness Records / Testimony Records) (November 29)

One of the more convincing spit takes on vintage Sunlight Studios HM-2
driven Swedeath, these new kids pull off the classic Nihilist/Dismember
sound better than any dozen similarly intentioned acts.

And this with only an EP under their belt. Good stuff, for those so inclined.

Façade – The Eternal Dance (November 29)

Boy, some people have weird ideas about what constitutes adherence to any
given genre or subgenre these days.

I mean, sure, some acts are hard to peg, drawing from as many precedent
sources as some so often tend to do, all the while stamping their feet and
asserting just how “unique” they are, as if the world were tabula rasa before
they came shuffling in and setting up their tour rig. Delusional on a Trumpian
level, but we’ve heard this far too many times to even raise much of an
eyebrow at the sheer hubris of such an assertion. Another day, another band
claiming they deserve their own genre or transcending same.

But when you get a shoegazey, Buddhist-inclined, sort of but not quite gothic
doom inclined act with strong Alcest tendencies that simply presents itself as
“doom”…really? Does a bit of sad and slow somehow magically lump you in
with the Sabbaths, Candlemasses, Troubles, even Ahabs and suchlike of the world?

About the closest they come to a sort of low and slow semi-doom feel is the
latter end of “ego”, which at least drones along funereally in a progressive
leaning, vaguely Ahabian sense.

It’s certainly listenable, despite the stupid Alex Krull-style vox and
over-airiness…but doom? Debatable.

If you always wanted to hear what Alcest or Lush would sound like attempting
to pull a Paradise Lost (meeting Ahab on at least one aforementioned
track)? Here’s your chance.

Interesting, I’ll give ’em that. Watch this space.

VADIAT – Darkness Proceeds EP (Redefining Darkness Records) (October 31)

Damn, those vocals do not fit!

…or so it will seem if, like ourselves, you start off with closer “unearthed”,
whose speedy tempo goes about as well with these Clevelanders’
Disma-esque frontman’s deep vomit vox as pineapples do with breakfast
cereal.

When they slow down to a more appropriately lumbering, somewhat funereal
tempo, though, things begin to make more sense.

The fact that they pretty much swiped the cover of Interment’s Where Death
Shall Increase should say a lot…though don’t expect that level of quality here,
it’s a far more workaday affair.

EXORCISME – Visceral Lifestyles (Redefining Darkness Records) (September 20)

Two track, two man blackened speed metal. Could’ve gotten better marks
were it not for their weird adherence to the black/death underground thing,
with terrible rasped vocals buried in great swathes of echo and reverb.

Otherwise, think something along the lines of Midnight, Shitfucker or Joel
Grind’s various projects and you’ve got the general idea.

WRAITH – Absolute Power (Redefining Darkness Records) (November 15)

At times bearing a decidedly welcome similarity to Witchtrap (“devil’s hour”,
“the curse”, “war of aggression”, “at the stake”, “eyes of the sacred ram”),
this Indiana trio really delivers the vintage (Teutonic with elements of
Brazilian) blackthrash, with only the freakout rasp of guitarist Matt Sokol’s vox
holding ’em back somewhat.

Even so, really strong stuff, well worth checking out while we await the next
Witchtrap album (which, as history has shown, could take another 6 years to
arrive!)

Depraver – Suffering in the Coffin | A Crippling Crush (Redefining Darkness Records) (October 18)

California deaththrash act. Noisy and overly busy (think a less technical
Disincarnate, they do occasionally allow themselves to slow to a more
reasonable tempo, whereupon the surprisingly sludge underpinnings of their
sound suddenly make themselves apparent (as shown on “suffering in the
coffin” in particular.)

Fellow Italians refer to this as “menza-menz”. Meh, sorta lukewarm at best.
Shrug of the shoulders, doesn’t do a damn thing for me, why bother, you get
the idea.

…Next?

The Scourge – Warrant for Execution (Seeing Red Records) (October 25)

Weird.

Houston, TX delivers an old school Bay Area-worthy thrash act, but one who
seem at least on one track to be paying a bit too much homage to fellow
Texans Watchtower with all those oddball shifts of tempo and spastic riffs
(“progressive forms”).

That said, 99% of this of this is pretty damn straightforward, that same sort of NWOBHM vibe that informed the US power metal and thrash scenes (and often entangled one with another, hence acts like Meliah Rage or Attacker who are often noted as belonging to both genres.)

Melodicism and harmony informs nearly every aspect of this, and while guitarist and frontman Andrew Atwood’s (who also plays in Helstar, a band I was about to namecheck from the sound here) clean vocals may seem a bit odd to younger listeners weaned on screaming and growling assholes,* it actually leaves The Scourge feeling properly vintage and pushes the USPM aspect even more to the fore.

* he does push things nearly into Exhorder cum Pantera range in portions of
both “one by one” and “killed”, but thankfully it’s more of an anomaly than a
go-to.

Good leads, punchy riffing, vintage feel in vox and suffusing nearly every
pore…yeah, this is a band to watch.

MATTERHORN – Crass Cleansing [ Special Edition ] (Redefining Darkness Records / Dying Victims Productions) (November 29)

We’d covered this very release a few years back, and I refer the interested to the earlier review on the bulk of this.

Apparently this is their first vinyl pressing, and they’ve remastered the
production, tagging in two odd live tracks that showcase a more experimental
direction.

Will album #2 work so well? I guess we’ll see…not too thrilled by what these
bonus tracks suggest.

If you missed it last time around, here’s your chance.

Aggressive Perfector – Havoc at the Midnight Hour (Dying Victims Productions) (November 22)

Feeling for all the world like some failed NWOBHM album, this British power
trio brings quirky riffs and a lot of that vibe to the table, then pisses all over it
with some rather shite lisping vox, as if Martin Walkyrier decided to scream
like a lunatic at the orderlies through his padded cell.

That’s really the problem here. With a proper frontman (or woman), this
would be appealingly retro with a more modern aggression driving the whole
enterprise.

Too bad about those vox.

Iron Curtain – Danger Zone (Dying Victims Productions) 

Damn, this one fooled me!

Starting off as ever with closer “wildlife”, I thought this was a perfectly killer
speed metal act out of Spain. And again, late in the album you hit “rough
riders”, which bears a lot of the same feel, albeit in a more midtempo US
power metal vein. Even “the running man” has some drive and life to it,
right?

So why is the bulk of the album boring hard rock?

I mean, hey, if you’re one of those that thinks Riot held any merit whatsoever
outside of Thundersteel and Armor of Light, then sure, you may dig this as a
whole…

…but I’m seeing this as a missed opportunity from a band who are clearly
capable of some driving speed and heft (three tracks worth of it, in fact).

Hexenbrett – Erste Beschwörung MLP (Dying Victims Productions)

There’s an old school feel about this that brings odd juxtapositions to mind –
Viking-era Bathory, Celtic Frost, Bulldozer, Desaster, Cradle of Filth.

The vox are clearly Desaster, the riffs cross Frost with early Bulldozer, with
occasional whiffs of Mercyful Fate (“erste beschworung”). This feel is only
reinforced by the quirky first wave black metal-style production and general
vibe.

At times they’re slow and sloppy, with a vaguely sinister funereal feel…then
those Cradlelike chant-filled keyboards come in…and somehow evoke one
riding to Asa Bay or something. Wait, wha?

Don’t ask. Just try it.

It works.

Sacrifizer – La Mort Trionphante LP (Dying Victims Productions) 

Reissue of this French blackened speed act’s mini album, appended by their demo and one new track.

Amusingly enough, not only is the new track 10 times better produced than the album material, but there’s a strong argument for the demo sounding better as well…

It’s pretty raw and messy, and despite generally loving this sort of thing, it didn’t do much for yours truly at all.

Though I did get a laugh out of the guy’s moniker “Sexumer”. You mean you find Mem Von Stein and company hot?

…yeah, whatever, an easy pass unless you’re already a fan and looking to gather everything they recorded to date.

Helleborus – Saprophytic Divinations (Redefining Darkness Records) (December 6)

Black/death. Well produced, inoffensively vocalled, as yawn inducing as
you’d expect.

Next?

JC Autobody – Turbo (Doomsday Radio Edition) (Seeing Red Records) (November 22)

Oddball femme-fronted act out of Indiana that clearly doesn’t give a shit:
production changes from track to track (as in “bad to worse to abysmal and
back again”) as does style.

They cover Deep Purple, Link Wray and Pentagram on the same album, at
times coming off rockabilly then going all Mazzy Star, others stoner rock to
grunge, and then there’s the ones driven or puncutated by weird electronic
effects…they’re literally all over the place.

Honestly, they were too scattershot and diffuse to like, never actually settling
into a groove, style or production approach long enough to get a good
bearing on.

This is what happens when you have a lot of influences, wear them on your
sleeve, but never really find your own voice.

Signed or releasing material too fast, perhaps? Either way, these guys (and
gal) needed some seasoning only time and performances can provide,
before who they actually are and want to be can properly shake itself out
from all this mess.