MINI-REVIEW: Mord'A'Stigmata - Our Hearts Slow Down (MINI-ALBUM)

MINI-REVIEW:
MORD'A'STIGMATA
OUR HEARTS SLOW DOWN
PAGAN RECORDS

MORD'A'STIGMATA leans on a more calm, experimental approach to Black Metal. Though, yes, it contains a good deal of the genre's tropes - it's almost more akin to a progressive rock album then anything. Somehow, however, this works extremely well. A stark contrast is drawn between harsh vocal content and emotion displayed through music, Our Hearts Slow Down uses both mediums to more clearly express themes displayed in each of it's three tracks. While the lyrics convey a more manic and forceful approach, the music itself takes on a voice of its own - adding an atmospheric layer of depression and melancholy that this sort of vocal style cannot.

This entire mini-album is somewhat feels a cross between a late SATYRICON album and TRIPTYKON (Or even some CELTIC FROST). The progressive emotional styling is there, prominent and very well done - never used when not needed. There is, however, all the elements of Black Metal here too and a good deal of those heavy droning and whining notes you'd expect from the latter band I mentioned - especially on the instrumental track 'Our Hearts Slow Down.' These Polish masterminds have surely breathed some life into a genre that I personally felt lacked a lot of life in the last few years, even compared to their older work - your in for quite a step up in quality and general bravery when it comes to a more experimental sound.

REVIEW: Methwitch - Rotting Away

METHWITCH
ROTTING AWAY
CAMERON MCBRIDE

Capping off a rather excellent week in aggressive releases, I'm happy to present METHWITCH - an ultra low-end solo project out of New Mexico. Now, there is some speculation on it's genre but, to me, Rotting Away borders on Death Metal, Sludge, and Grind. However, it'd be more accurate to say this album is closer to Death and Sludge than anything - because, lets face it, Grind doesn't exactly pride itself on variety such as what is provided here.

This album has a rather unique approach to its track structure, providing it's listeners with a majority of shorter tracks and choosing to save the meatier ones (the best ones) for midpoints and end points. Personally, I love this. The songs are all to the point, never boring, and it all comes together to remind me of BLEEDING THROUGH's 'The Fire.' Though, don't expect the same brand of harsh content, METHWITCH simply aims to drag the scum of the this earth even lower.

As I mentioned earlier, this album is closer to Death and Sludge. Such is ever apparent on tracks like 'Stigmata' and 'Guillotine', which employ the use of droning notes and slow monotonous progression - though, not monotonous in a negative sense. These two tracks, no doubt, are the most sinister of the bunch. All the hate and anger of the album seems to have reached a cumulative peak at this point, like a festering clot of anger and disgust. It's almost surprising this content has been written by a single person; almost terrifying if you didn't know they lived in New Mexico.

The main highlight of this album is actually its extreme low-end nature, the entire album I believe was written in Drop F on a eight string guitar. It's thunderous nature begs that you listen to it at the highest possible volumes, and its way more appreciated when a copious amount of bass is involved on your system. Almost accidentally, METHWITCH employs a good deal of Djent mentality but throws it out the window - all the low end you could desire with no polyrhythmic 'technique' involved. Being someone who has experimented with extended scale guitars, I can say it's damn near impressive that Rotting Away didn't ever even play with that style.

The only negative aspect of this album is that, at times, there seems to be a bit of crackling. It's not a big issue, but it is persistent and several times I did check my headphones to see if they were going out. Of course, this is a independent solo release and there is only so much you can do with loud distorted and bass ridden guitars.

If your a fan of aggressive bands like RINGWORM, DISSIMULATOR, or even BLEEDING THROUGH (at least their last two releases) you'll like this. As well, two covers are included on this album which range from awesome (Festering in the Crypt - CANNIBAL CORPSE) to a little bit hilarious (Everything Ends - SLIPKNOT), so if you want to hear SLIPKNOT be as heavy as the uberfans claim they are - it might be the added bonus which gets you even more involved in Rotting Away.

REVIEW: Nex Carnis - Obscure Visions of Dark

NEX CARNIS
OBSCURE VISIONS OF DARK
NIGHTBREAKER PRODUCTIONS


Of all the bands, groups, and solo projects I've reviewed, I've yet to encounter any which describe an utter state of lunacy and despair as well as NEX CARNIS. There is some serious dedication to subject matter on this Iranian band's part when it comes to lyrical content, and it’s not really all that usual that a Death Metal band shows that sort of consideration. Sure, string me up and what-have-you but it's true, a lot of Death Metal bands stick to the typical tropes and certainly begin to feel stale after a while when it comes to substance - this album doesn't.

The musical dressing to the lyrics isn't half bad either, it wouldn't be hard to say that it's borderline fantastic. Aggression is abound on Obscure Visions of Dark, from the start your pretty much in for an assault akin to getting slugged in the side of the head about ten times repeatedly. Things also get very technical, though not enough to consider this band technical Death Metal or anything. A lot of thought was put into making tracks non-typical, Guitar riffs, though sometimes a bit of a chug-fest are interlaced with complicated solo work, which even sometimes play with dissonance, and even clean sections that, somehow, come off dark and brooding. It works to keep Obscure Visions of Dark extremely varied for a Death Metal album. And, dare I say, the drums on this album are some of the best I've heard in a long time - almost akin to that of Flo Mounier of Cryptopsy. They serve to keep the blood pumping, and keep the general uneasy feeling of the album alive.


Now, every good album has its downsides. Specifically, though I can go on about the lyrical content being fantastic - it never really lets down or drastically changes. Obscure Visions of Dark will no doubt be your fill when it comes to manic content. That aside, it's a great slab of Death Metal for those looking to have their brains wracked until the insides look a little something like the album's cover.


REVIEW: GRAVESITE - Horrifying Nightmares...

GRAVESITE
HORRIFYING NIGHTMARES...
XTREEM MUSIC

Its rare I find bands that aim to, not change, but perfect their genre; rare that a band that does, is able to maintain their own identity. GRAVESITE completely blows my mind with this. 

It took only one track, the first ('Submerged in Vomit'), to get me excited and wanting to listen. Yes, the album is a little more clean and well put-together than the usual underground release and there is a fair-share of tropes prominent throughout Horrifying Nightmares... but it all comes together to make a beast worthy of your time. Songs don't follow one specific route or repeat certain sections tirelessly and GRAVESITE doesn't even seem to care what sort of genre they are considered. Often you'll hear Death Metal but at times you can find yourself faced with more thrash, progressive or blackened elements. One track will be full of speed, aggression, and anger while the next will slow down and throw out aspects of despair or horror. The track, in my opinion, that best sums up the entirety of this album is 'The Painter of Agonies' - which seems to incorporate all facets of the albums themes.

As with anything Death Metal, there are some issues when it comes to GRAVESITE's straight-forward approach. It is painfully obvious that this album doesn't aim to break any molds, and as such you get sections that sound very much like other bands. Influences are abundant and I'd be here all day comparing certain bits to others, no matter if it was intentional or not. The vocals are good, very good, but sometimes they feel out of place or even uninteresting. A good bit of the time, I found their lack of variety as tedious and just focused on the music which surrounded them. Of course, these things are more or less nitpicks and are probably something everyone expects.

Overall, Horrifying Nightmares... is a good listen. It's hateful and horrific in all the right ways and knows what Death Metal is. GRAVESITE has some serious skill, I'd love to see them push things even further.


REVIEW: ORCumentary - Destroy the Dwarves

DESTROY THE DWARVES
ORC ROCK RECORDS


Niche groups seem to be popping up a lot these days, more-so then in the past at least. It almost seems like only bands that make waves, outside of the usual veterans and scholars of metal, are same-same metalcore bands or completely insane fantasy-themed bands. Personally, I prefer the latter and ORCumentary had insanity by the boat loads.

There is no doubt that ORCumentary's Orc Adams is very talented, his work with the piano/keyboard is extremely good when it comes to Destroy the Dwarves. In fact, the piano and synth of this album add a strange quirkiness, which I admire and appreciate considering the rather non-serious nature of this album. Oddly, however, it takes some serious patience, about four tracks, to get past some pretty rough tracks. Perhaps its the tone of the fuzzed out guitar, how it just numbs my ears the more I increase the volume, or how the industrial influences remind me of 90% of the music on vampirefreaks (no god, no) - but everything up to 'He Drank Deep From His Mug' almost hurts my ears. Get past this, however, and things really start to even out - even the fuzzy not-so-sure-if-its-real guitar finds it place and Mr. Adams shows that he can do a lot more then play a mean piano.

The vocal styles that Destroy the Dwarves consists of, at times, seem to sort of fit the whole low-budget insanity feel. Guttural bellows, raspy characterization, and black metal inspired screeching all fit rather well - but the shoddy attempts at 'singing' are beyond bad. Specifically, a terrible attempt at... some unspeakably high sound near the end of 'You must Procreate!'. The whole album would've been better off just doing something else completely. Luckily, any vocal downfalls are met with a host of colorful and questionable lyrics, surely a madman thought this entire saga of Dwarves and whatnot up - or else a genius terribly bored with today's limited content.

I think Orc Adams engineered this entire, ear rattling, and completely wonderfully odd album as a symbol of true creativity. That, yeah, sometimes not everything work and not everyone is going to like it, some might even hate it - its cheesy, its unnatural, its jarring, but its fresh and new. Get past those first four tracks, if you don't like them, and you'll start to see what ORCumentary is all about.