2018 was messy and ugly, and proved to be fertile ground for all kinds of messy and ugly musical ideas to grow in. There were a lot of great records released this year, and here are the ones I really vibed with and kept listening to with time. Also threw in some that let me down because this is the internet so you have to complain about at least a couple things.
Fight me, etc Continue Reading
In case you were inclined to wonder about the roots of Austin, TX quartet Portrayal of Guilt’s music, one probably need look no further than the credits for their debut LP Let Pain Be Your Guide. Contained therein, you would find Matt Michel, formerly of Majority Rule listed as producer, and you would also find that Chris Taylor of Pg. 99 and Pygmy Lush is responsible for the album’s art. Through that window, you could safely make some assumptions regarding what Portrayal of Guilt sounds like – in all likelihood conjuring for yourself a cacophony of grinding guitars punctuated with angularity, dissonance, and the occasional mid tempo groove. In that assumption you would not be too far off base, but I am here to tell you that Portrayal of Guilt is one of those special bands that does not simply eat its influences and then summarily excrete a slightly faded version of them. Instead, they digest them, learn, and create a synthesis. Continue Reading
In the past decade, Thou has become a household name in the heavy music scene. Arguably Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s best artistic export, the band has churned out an unrelenting stream of releases year after year, with 2018 possibly proving to be their most prolific yet. Of the four (yeah…4) records issued by them in the space of the last few months, their upcoming full length Magus, which sees the light of day via Sacred Bones Records on 8/31, is the one most representative of the totality of the band’s oeuvre up to this point. This new offering feels as though it follows in the footsteps of their 2014 LP Heathen, but does not tread precisely the same ground. Continue Reading
HAAN is a blistering 4 piece noise rock band from NYC, operating in the spirit of all that description implies. In the grand, grimy tradition of their forebears like Helmet and Unsane, HAAN will hit you in the gut and leave you lying breathless in the street. Their particular fusion of post punk/hardcore and hard rock is muscular and undulating, not leaving anything to the imagination as they strip all of the filth and stress and rage off of daily life and hold it up in front of your face. This is exactly what the band accomplishes on their new offering By the Grace of Blood and Guts, out 8/10/18 on Aqualamb Records. Continue Reading
I used to not really like The Body. I never considered them a metal band, even though that was where they had more or less made their nest early on. I always perceived them as a noise band that got cool among the metal intelligentsia (read: terminally bored scene kids only semi-seriously projecting a love for the most obscure shit possible). I saw them as maybe a particularly dark, doomy, and experimental noise band, but still did not understand the hype. Continue Reading
For the uninitiated, first exposure to the bizarre avant death metal of Australia’s Portal is probably like getting sucked into a literal portal to some interdimensional elsewhere that exists sandwiched between a sense of abject terror and crippling existential dread. As a live band, their presence is a singular experience that is somehow dramatic and theatrical without the cringe-inducing antics that those descriptors imply in the metal world, while also being strangely unsettling. On their 2013 opus Vexovoid, they created a massive churning maelstrom of brooding darkness that overtakes the listener with wave upon wave of unease. With the release of their new record ION, they retain their penchant for gloom and actual doom, but crank the chaos up to 100. Continue Reading
Rotting Forms is the first full length offering from Pacific Northwest industrial/metal unit At the Heart of the World, released in January 2018 via Glory Kid Ltd. The group is composed of guitarist/programmer Danny Porter and vocalist Joshua Greene, who come together to assault the listener with walls of distortion, mechanized beats, and sneers of static and rage on every track. Continue Reading
Fucking 2017 man. Shit year for life, great year for music. Get into it.
For the uninitiated, Bell Witch is a funeral doom duo comprised of former Samothrace bassist Dylan Desmond and recently joined drummer Jesse Schreibman, who began working with Desmond after the departure of founding member Adrian Guerra. Their new release, titled Mirror Reaper, is the band’s third full length, and while it strays from its predecessors in terms of format, it treads the same thematic territory of death, disillusionment, and the dawning of a fragile sense of hope. Continue Reading
It is sometimes surprisingly difficult to remember the first time you encountered a particular thing, even when that thing later turns out to be significantly meaningful, or something you really enjoy. Amenra is like that for me, in that I’m not sure when exactly I ran across them first or what led me to it. I do remember that the first exposure I had to them was seeing a video for their song The Pain. It Is Shapeless, which had been set to scenes from E. Elias Merhige’s dark surrealist film Begotten. If you haven’t seen Begotten before, its an extremely intense high contrast black and white art film that begins with a scene in which a god figure seated in a chair is disemboweling itself while vomiting filth. I had seen the film before and was always really drawn to its aesthetic and strangeness. It blew my mind a little that someone had decided to use it as a music video. Then the Amenra song began playing over it and somehow worked as a perfect complement in that moment. So, naturally I dove down the Amenra rabbit hole immediately afterward. Continue Reading