Gatecreeper- Sonoran Desert Death Metal

 

In Gatecreeper's self titled debut you will not find undiscernable technical noise and leads galore. But you will find the most pummeling riffs you will ever hear. That's what I want. A sign of a killer album is when you play it 12 times and then feel reinvigorated as a whole in the genre. Last night I did just that. I blasted this album and then I pulled some old gems from the crate (Clandestine and Left Hand Path from the almighty Entombed). The first song is Void Below. Like a warrior preparing to enter the front lines, Void Below is the perfect introduction. Drawn swords uplifted, knobs cranked and ready to deliver, Void Below delivers furious blows maiming and mutilating. Void Below has such intense swedish death distortion sound akin to bands like Dismember and Carnage. I would be eager to see what pedals this band uses to accomplish such nasty tone. One of the more dynamic songs on the album, Force Fed, pummels you with a mixture of guitar buzzsaw distortion and a schmidge of just enough harmony. This creates a very groovy death metal and an ease to knod your head to. A review of this album couldn't be left without Chase Mason's excellent vocals. Delivered with such gravity and force the guitars could not have been complemented by better vocals. One moment please..... Okay I'm back. I had to put the album on pause to get some gauze for my eardrums which which suffered a great deal of blood flow. Overdose is probably my favorite song on here. Its got just enough melody. And I love the guitar solo at around 1:25. Fits perfectly! The album ends with Slave. Very Dismaish. What I really like about this song is the focus on heavy as opposed to crunchy fast tremolo picking that is typical of a lot of new death metal. Tomas Lindberg once stated, "I don’t think anyone who wasn’t there in the late 80’s can ever understand the feeling, the honesty, and the energy of the early death metal scene. As the 90s came, death metal turned into big business and that initial feeling was lost forever”. Well Gatecreeper's new album encapsulates this same energy perfectly. It is essential that you catch Gatecreeper's album release with Lusitania, Biocidio, and Kashykk on Nov. 1st at 51 West. Be warned though, there is a a disclaimer for attending a Gatecreeper show. You may or may not be dismembered during the course of the show. Tomas Lindberg quote from Swedish Death Metal By Daniel Ekeroth

 

Lago- Tyranny brings us Death Metal Decimation

 

Perusing through a few different reviews of Lago's full length Tyranny, I see various references to Immolation, Morbid Angel, etc. While comparisons to those bands are obviously flattering and an aspiration for many, this band has moved on from that point. This band has definitely come into its own fold and is not a worship band. I remember when Lago came onto the scene with a beast of an EP called Marianas. I proclaimed that I "was beating the war drum to let you know that hidden in the urban recesses of phoenix, the beast is coming with a giant haboob behind them". But Tyranny just brings it next level. Here we witness instrumental maturity and a firm entrenchment among the frontlines of some of the better death metal acts coming out the Southwest the last few years. This is an exceptional feat in this world of click happy death metal browsing where the effort put in by many bands gets lost in oblivion. But of the isolation of the Arizona desert, 4 musicians just made this easier. This album stands out easily. Where Marianas was a haboob, Tyranny is the monsoon. From the desert washes, arrives this album. The Lago monsoon spurts blood and guts and omits all that is weak. I can't imagine the painstaking effort spilled into this. I can't imagine the time spent penning riffs and erasing tiny errors and omitting miniscule parts to create this death metal perfection. Well done boys. I was very excited seeing Andrew Breshears guitar skills in the various times I have seen this band live. And I was quite bummed to hear of his departure. However, some things happen for a reason and the return of Manuel Dominguez brings an entirely different vengeful element to the table. After three listens to this album, I am able to differentiate each song on its own- a sign of great songwriting. No filler. My favorites are Father to all and Pox of the Weary. The Cello and Violin addition in the Reckoning create a bleaker and steeper drop into death metal decimation. The galloping crawl of Garrett Thomas' bass playing is a highlight. Brian Miller's drums are tight pitched. A special compliment should also be given to Ryan Butler of Arcane Digital Recordings for some superb engineering. I would suggest picking this up through Battleground Records and/or http://lagometal.bigcartel.com/

 

Megadeth: "Super Collider"

 

Megadeth Super Collider 2012 This album sucks. This album doesn't just suck for a Megadeth album, this album sucks for anything ever put to recording. I've made better thrash music in my bedroom with a $99 B.C. Rich Warlock with no high e string and a bowed neck. The only reason it gets 1/2 a pentagram is because I'm too lazy to make a plain black square. Garbage. Utter, complete garbage.

 

Singularity- A labryinth of an album

 

I remember first seeing Singularity in 2010 live at Tempe Tavern and I knew they were going to exact a presence in the metal world it was just a matter of when. Each time I saw them, I remember saying to myself that with a properly marketed full length, this band will be huge. The talent was already there in the form of a young longhaired wizard bearing a guitar as his staff. However I don't want to say that Jack is this band as I'm not a fan of bands that are essentially one person. This wizard, also known as Jack Fliegler has assembled an excellent team to ensure that the band is firing on all cylinders and has added keyboards which adds an even darker element. There is no reason not to find this album entertaining as the listener is continuously assaulted by a formidable assembly of talent consisting of not only Jack Fliegler (guitar, vocals) but also Nick Pompliano (keyboards), Nathan Bigelow (drums), and Adam King (Bass).

 

 

A withdrawal of salvation is a perfect introduction to the menacing fortress of sound that is this album. The drum intro sets a good groundwork in creating a visual of this fortress, much as the album cover created by Molly Smith displays. The masterful guitarwork and keyboards provide a beautiful yet dark ascent up the path to the space fortress engulfing the listener into a postapocalyptic vibe. The postapocalyptic vibe is a common metal theme yet what puts Singularity ahead of the curve is their ability to intertwine all musical elements in a manner that doesn't sound like noise. The song ends in a fantastic guitar vortex that sends the listener into a temporary vortex in the form of the track Remnant of Stellar Evolution. You have now entered Singularity, a land where "stars and planets have been devoured" by white sound. In this land lies the Monolith, a giant slab of metal that will aurally destroy you. Holding the grooviest of riffs, Monolith also is one of the heavier and longer songs on the album. Via the Throne of Thrones, we arrive at the nucleus of this white emptiness and the climax of our journey. Catchy keyboard scales, riffs, and rapid fire drumming combined with scientific themes of space, death, and extinction create a beautifully scientific death metal symphony in Desert Planet. Desert Planet is my favorite song since i'm from...well..the desert. Utopian Flesh covers the topic of the reconstruction of a new species after the death of the universe leading to a new species domination. In the last tracks (the Descent, the Ascension, and the Resolution, we arrive at the beginning of the end and are given a labryinth of intricate musicianship to close. This album is blackened scientific metal and is as epic as that musical genre name sounds so order it at http://singularityaz.bandcamp.com/

 

Sarah's Metalifestyle Best of 2012


Metalifestyle Best of 2012
Sarah Kitteringham
Mutilation Rites – EP & follow up Empyrean (Prosthetic Records)




After seeing Mutilation Rites crusty blend of black metal in a tiny bar in Austin back in March, I was hooked. Their four track EP – on a tape adorned with a Baphomet whose “program repeats on both sides” – has been on perpetual repeat in my shitty old Mazda truck for the past several months. Contained inside is miserable, hair raising black metal, minus the kvlt posturing and Satan worship. The four-track tape features a dose of thrash metal, rumbling doom, and sloppy crust iced with blackened screams and battering percussion. New York black metal is lame no more! To make things even better, their full-length follow up Empyrean made good on the potential that oozed from that tape.
2. Dragged Into Sunlight – Widowmaker (Prosthetic Records)



I know: Hatred for Mankind made fankids blow a collective load. Raw, primal, and evil as fuck, the record unveiled England’s enigmatic troupe to the world. Three years later, Dragged into Sunlight came back and that subterranean merging of black, death, and crusty grind was largely gone, replaced by sweeping movements, skillful transitions, and an obvious doom influence. Widowmaker is Dragged Into Sunlight all grown up, and is it ever beautiful.

3. Grand Magus – The Hunt (Nuclear Blast)



You know the type of heavy metal – often, tunes that came from the New Wave of British heavy metal in the ‘80s – to which you pump your fist, scream along, and mosh with your buddies while beer soaks everything? Grand Magus makes music like that. Although their early days were dubbed as “doom” influenced, they’ve always featured sweeping, operatic choruses and galloping leads straight from the Iron Maiden/ Rainbow/ Judas Priest handbook. To make things better, their performance at Noctis Metal Festival was perfect. BLOOD WILL SPILL!

4. Swans – The Seer (Young Gods)



In its schizophrenic opener “Lunacy”, Alan and Mimi of minimalist rock act Low chant the soundtrack to a breakdown as Michael Gira and co. lay on the atmosphere suffocating and oppressive. “Hide beneath/ Your monkey skin/ Feel his love/ Nurture him/ Kill the truth/ Or speak his name/ LUNACY LUNACY”. It’s enough to make goosebumps rise on your skin, and sets the tone for a triumphant Swans album Gira claimed was “30 years in the making.” I believe it.

5. Evoken – Atra Mors (Profound Lore)



Doom in all factions exploded in 2012, and the marriage of death/doom was no exception. Nowhere was it done as skillfully as on Evoken’s Atra Mors. The Jersey act’s fifth full length was five years coming, and worth the wait. Crushing, dirgy, glacial paced… mmm, mmm, good!

6. Deathspell Omega - Drought (Season of Mist)



This band demands your attention. Artful, original, extremely philosophical black metal with a transcendental, yet incredibly Satanist bent, their music is challenging and nearly unreachable. They don’t play live, they don’t do interviews, and they don’t release shit. Drought is part two of the EP package that followed 2010’s incredible Paracletus; though it has sidestepped the form of it’s predecessor it features all of the rage,

7. Gojira- L’Enfant Sauvage (Roadrunner Records)



Clearly, I like my metal with a slab of “pretty”. Gojira has always made “pretty” technical death, but with L’Enfant Sauvage they perfected their assault. Every song on the record is a groovy and precise with crystal clear production. Plus, I’ve finally found a metal band that cares as much about recycling and flying whales as much as I do.

8. Witchstone – Witchstone EP (Self released)



I’ve said it about 600 times, but for the sake of consistency, I’ll say it once more. Calgary quartet Witchstone sounds like the child of Black Sabbath and Sleep, and their live performances are consistently tight. Can’t wait to hear what comes next from this band.

9. Napalm Death – Utilitarian (Century Media)



After over 25 years of grinding it out, Napalm Death still sounds relevant. Scratch that, they’ve made their best record since 1996’s Diatribes. A saxophone solo with John Zorn, odd vocal experiments, and metronomic blast beats sweeten the deal.

10. Saint Vitus – Lillie: F- 65 (Season of Mist)



Mournful Cries was my first Saint Vitus record, purchased on a whim a couple years back due to the fanciful cover art. Dragons are always good in my books; the music contained within was perfect and incited a pre-1988 Saint Vitus buying spree. Lillie: F- 65 harkens back to a time when Vitus was still touring with Black Flag to the chagrin of hardcore punkers; this was when Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling was snorting and huffing his life away. Actually, the opening track from the record, the haunting “Let Them Fall”, could be the soundtrack to such misery. The doom progenitors are back.

11. Enslaved – RIITIIR (Nuclear Blast)



It takes about five listens for me to stop hating a new Enslaved record. Then, as it flowers, I start obsessing over it, banging out the rhythms on my dashboard, and losing my mind over the insightful lyrics and arrangements. This extreme metal band is completely unique; RIITIIR is another part of their impressive legacy.

12. Gaza – No Absolutes in Human Suffering (Black Market Activities)



Gaza makes ugly music for an ugly world. Crusty, grindy, and full of hate. Just the way I like it.

13. Neurosis – Honor Found in Decay (Neurot Records)



Scott Kelly, Steve Von Till and co. have grown up, and channel their seething anger through subtly and nuance. Despite Honor Found in Decay being quieter than most Neurosis records, the conjuring of complex and contradictory emotions has never been so poignant. Second track “At the Well” personifies this duality; raging tribal rhythms and quiet acoustic segments play side by side.

14. Ahab – The Giant (Napalm Records)



Mad Captain Ahab’s tireless quest for the white whale has been explored countless times by metal bands, but nowhere as fitting as in Germany’s Ahab. Dubbed funeral doom, the quartet slowly rumbles, as relentless and endless as a violent storm raging through the night. On The Giant, there is absolutely no progression to be found from their previous releases, but given the tiny niche the band belongs to, that’s beneficial, rather than a hindrance.

15. Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction (Profound Lore)



The only reason this record is sitting this high on the list, rather than at number one, is because I listened to it too much. WAY TOO MUCH. After discovering the band in February and seeing them at SXSW, I got a bit obsessed with the “Candlemass done better than Candlemass” of Pallbearer. It seems everyone else has caught on, but I’m giving the record a rest till further notice.

16. Mares of Thrace – The Pilgrimage (Sonic Unyon)



This ferocious Canadian two-piece creates a tremendous racket. Thanks to the skillful combination of screeching noise, galloping death metal, skillful jazz percussion, creeping doomy atmosphere, and throaty howls, The Pilgrimage is simultaneously a huge step-up from their previous outing The Moulting and a huge middle finger to the naysayers who pretend women can’t rage.

17. Witch Mountain – Cauldron of the Wild (Profound Lore Records)



Uta Plotkin is what makes this classic doom band shine. Sparkling and varied, her honey soaked voice transforms from growling and guttural to soaring and clear while her bandmates crash and groove all around her. Check out “Beekeeper” and you’ll instantly understand.

18. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind (Deathwish)



If any band is a benchmark for consistency, it’s Converge. Once again, they’ve made a walloping record. I can’t say much that hasn’t been said, so I won’t.

19. The Devil’s Blood – The Thousandfold Epicentre (Metal Blade Records)



Another record that shines on the basis of its vocal gymnastics. Farida Lemouchi, who is popularly known as "F. The Mouth of Satan", has the perfect voice to accompany her brother’s occult tinged psychedelic rock. The result of a fast aging process for the band makes The Thousandfold Epicentre the most realized album by The Devil’s Blood.

20. Hammerdrone – A Demon Rising EP (Self released)



Calgary act Hammerdrone makes driving blackened death. Music to mosh to, to dance to, and to kick some random stranger’s ass to. Listen up! http://hammerdrone.bandcamp.com/