After a little mental health sabbatical last week, your second favorite neighborhood halfway house for hesh is back and serving up another ladle-full of sonic torture. It is the antidote to all that ails you; the elixir of life and death; so drink and be merry.
WHAT TO BUY: With LPs from the likes of Theories, Atigama, and more already on the books, the first half of 2015 has flown the grindcore banner high, and this week is no exception, with Cloud Rat and their stunning new album, Qlipthoth (Halo of Flies), taking up the torch. Where other offerings from the micro-fiction of metal have seen fit to hold the status quo, however, Cloud Rat, led by frontwoman Madison Marshall’s empowering rasps, have grabbed it by the ankle and weaponized it. On Qlipthoth the Michigan moshers have augmented their traditional breed of ground-n-pound with elements of classic streetpunk, black metal, and ambient interludes to create a raging-yet-resolved entreaty for human equality and the evisceration of all those that stand in the way of it. And while it remains to be seen if the Michigan mosher’s third album can do for modern grindcore what Sunbather did for USBM (i.e. carve a template into the collective popular consciousness), the potential, hype, and, most importantly, execution all seem more than up for the task. If you haven’t hopped on this bandwagon yet, you better fucking hurry.
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On the other side of the grindcore spectrum—where it remains caught in the tangled spazz of tech death—are Florida heathens Maruta and their relentless Relapse debut, Forever Dystopian. Despite four years of relative silence following a brief breakup in 2011, the Maruta hypetrain (perhaps aided by the fact one of the world’s most popular pornstars is repping them) is at full steam ahead, tearing through one pit after the next on their way to utter underground domination. The level of complexity in Maruta’s metallic meltdowns is downright daunting but thankfully the detail-oriented production is up to the task, giving each ridiculous riff, polyrhythmic blast beat, and guttural utterance its just due. If you’re a glutton for punishment, let this one tie you up for 28 minutes.
As long we are on the subject of Relapse Records, we should also discuss the Brooklyn maniacs in Pyrrhon, who, following an unceremonious split from the mid-metal Leviathan this winter, let their newest head-splitting maul of an EP, Growth Without End (Handshake Inc.) fall today. Ironically enough, Pyrrhon, who Relapse allegedly dropped because their 2014 LP, Mother of Virtues (which we named our sixth best metal record of last year), didn’t prove commercially successful enough, have crafted in Growth Without End something that may well have satisfied those requirements. Pyrrhon remain one of the most hostile, impenetrable bands in death metal—they haven’t become Behemoth or anything, so don’t stress—but where Mother of Virtues stuttered, Growth Without End almost grooves, and where Pyrrhon once opted for a wall of white noise, they now turn to things that quite nearly resemble riffs. If you liked what Pyrrhon was doing before, check out the stream on their bandcamp. If not, I still highly suggest you do the same.
Taking a total sonic u-turn now, two of power metal’s most storied acts, Helloween and Armored Saint, also drop new full-lengths on their rabid fanbases (it’s hard to imagine new devotees really coming in at this point) today. The former, My God-Given Right (Nuclear Blast) finds the German legends tearing off their NWOBHM-influenced anthems like Band-Aids, while the latter shamelessly bathes in the gritty glitter of its 1984 Sunset Strip roots. If you’re OK with a little cheese and a lot of sugary hooks, then go enjoy the adult onset diabetes.
Also on offer this week is Noisem‘s second LP, Blossoming Decay (A389), which, for all those who feel the urge to run out and hunt it down immediately, doesn’t actually drop until Friday. One listen to this punishing about-face, streaming in full on their bandcamp, however, and you’ll see that a lot has changed in the two years since we last heard from Baltimore brats. Gone is their high-octane (if slightly juvenile) brand of speed thrash, replaced instead by a potent dose of grind and powerviolence, which find the Noisem dodging the sophomore slump by making themselves a moving target. If you wrote them off as just another big four re-thrash after Agony Defined, now’s your chance to recalibrate.
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If you’ve been holding out for some doom, let Goatsnake reward your patience with Black Age Blues (Southern Lord), their newest brew of witchy stonerisms and massive riffs. Pete Stahl’s voice, mixed very high throughout, has always been a bit of stumbling block for me, but if you can get past that, you’re in the clear. If that still doesn’t scratch the itch, transfer up to the mid-majors, where Paradise Lost have their latest LP, The Plague Within (Century Media), ready for deployment.
Finally, let’s end the week on a subterranean note, with Quebecois black metal outfit Akitsa‘s latest slab of lo-fi grime, Grands Tyrans (Hospital Productions), and Brooklyn cemetery thrashers Throaat‘s new EP, Black Speed (Invistus Productions), which is clawing it’s way up from the dirt as we speak. Neither, musically or otherwise, has much to do with the other, but they do share one common denominator: A love for utter, impenetrable blackness. If that’s your thing, check them out.
WHAT TO SEE: The week in off-your-couch heavy gets going tonight with Volbeat, Anthrax, and Crobots at the Hammerstein Ballroom, before Thursday rolls around with a pair of awesome pit parties featuring No Way, Rhin, Grizzlor, and Fashion Week at The Acheron and Iron Reagan, Angel Du$t, and Noisem at Saint Vitus.
The slow start to the week is actually a blessing in disguise, however, with Apex Fest VI hitting Trans Pecos over the weekend for three straight days of ear drum-liquefying insanity. The power electronics/noise fest kicks off on Friday with short films and visual installations from Martin Bladh and Karolina Urbaniak, while Saturday gets the music underway with Gnaw Their Tongues, Menace Ruin, Burial Hex, and more. If you’re still kicking on Sunday, then get back out there for The Body, who headline with a yet un-named special guest that you are free to speculate on until head your comes off (probably Thou or Full of Hell, either of which would be incredible). Tickets are $20 for single-day passes, $30 for two-day passes, and $40 for the three-day package and you can peruse all of the limited edition merch-accompanied bundling options here.
If you’re a little fested out, that’s cool too, with plenty of one-offs going down on Friday as well, highlighted by The Casualties, I.R.A., and Iron Force at The Acheron; Huldra at Clash Bar; Grey Skies Fallen/Buckshot Facelift at Mother Pug’s Saloon on Staten Island (which is actually the first SI show to ever feature in this space, hooray). Saturday keeps the skull rolling with another Acheron rager featuring Disrotted and Skullshitter; an epic sea-tinged Vitus visit from Maine-iac black metallaers Falls of Rauros; and a Studio at Webster Hall-obliterating appearance from venomous hardcore supergroup Obliterations, who, in a potentially fortuitous twist of fate, will be playing just downstairs from Modern Life Is War‘s Witness 10-year anniversary throwdown in the Marlin Room.
Should that still not be enough, you can check out Rob Zombie at the Starland Ballroom (yep, he’s still at it) on Saturday, or simply wait until the Sabbath, when Power Theory crushes Blackthorn 51, Secret Cutter slices Saint Vitus, and Jucifer clambakes The Acheron.
WHAT THE FUCK: The first track on Mark Kozelek’s new Sun Kil Moon record, Universal Themes, is about Godflesh. The fourth, “Cry Me A River Williamsburg Sleeve Tattoo Blues”, an alleged dig at Stereogum’s high king of heavy, Michael Nelson. In between there’s lots of great non-metal stuff. If none of this makes any sense out of context, don’t worry, because the context doesn’t help much either. Universal Themes is out 6/2 via Caldo Verde.