Having exhausted just about every “metal” opinion in my skeleton last time out, this week arrives, mercifully, sans the big talking points. There’s still more than enough insanity to go around, however, so grab the Thorazine and let’s get at it.
WHAT TO BUY: A dying breath in the dim, cobwebbed halls of the soul. If you wanted me to describe Ævangelist’s latest blackened death squall, Enthrall To the Void of Bliss (20 Buck Spin), in a sentence, there it is. That’s my sentence. It doesn’t articulate everything this Oregon/Illinois timeshare packs into its every twisted opus, of course—and I’m fairly certain nothing I could write here would—but it’s a start. A poetic way of saying, if your sole listening goal this week is to throw back the hood of misery, despair, and self-loathing, then this twisted, cacophonous hellscape should be your first and, given the auditory pummeling it exerts, probably last stop. There’s a very real chance I won’t be coming back to this one for a couple of days, but consider that a testament to its excellence in grotesquery (vividly rendered in Invisible Oranges’ free stream) more than anything else.
Want to double down on the horror? Then look no further than III (The Compound), the new 14-minute full-length from Philly bonegrinders, Die Choking. Pushing the limits of grindcore until the engines ignite and engulf the whole fucking thing in a blaze of death and glory, Die Choking cough up one sub-two-minute diatribe after the next, raging on everything from socioeconomics to the Eagles with equally unhinged intensity. If grind isn’t your thing, this probably won’t do much to convert you, but everyone else owes it, at least, a listen and, at best, a full-on, forehead-vein-pulsing circle pit throwdown.
After that, things slow down in a big way, starting with San Fran gloom outfit Kowloon Walled City’s first full length since 2012, Grievances (Neurot Recordings). From overcast to downcast and every shade of grey in between, Grievances dwells along metal’s softer, blurred fringes, where anger turns to depression and depression, somehow, back around to some form of beauty. It’s heavy, yes, but not because its overwhelmingly loud or distorted or about demons (well, tangible ones, anyway). Instead, Grievances finds its lumbering weight in unraveling tunings, tempos, and a fixation on adult monotony and the shackling power of employment that calls to mind the themes explored in David Foster Wallace’s final novel, The Pale King, of all things. If that sounds a bit pretentious, that’s probably my fault, so make sure to check it out regardless.
If that’s not enough, then head about 800 miles north, where Seattle prog-sludge shape shifters, He Whose Ox Is Gored, are set to drop their expansive new LP, The Camel, The Lion, The Child (Bleeding Light), today. This eight-anthem opus is certainly not shy about throwing a lot at the wall, but most of it—even the liberal slathering of synths—sticks, thanks in large part to expert build-and-release songcraft throughout. Like doom riffs? Down for post-rock melody? Able to stomach some prog weirdness? Then these guys (and a gal) have something for you. Open your mind and check it out.
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Of course, nothing balances out all those artistic ambitions quite like some syrupy southern riffage, and that’s just what Irata are hawking on their second full length, Sweet Loris (Retro Futurist). Backed by Kylesa—who run Retro Futurist and have tapped Irata to support them on their current tour—this North Cackalacky power trio specialize in chugging palm-muted grooves, psychedelic swirls, and huge, head-bangable choruses. In other words, wait till Friday night, crack a beer, and check them out. They’re not reinventing the wheel (which, contrary to popular belief, rolls best when round), but the flawless execution, from songwriting to production, more than warrants a listen.
If that peaks your appetite for denim vests and pentatonic riffs, then break off a big piece of Philly retro rockers Wizard Eye’s self-titled full length (Black Monk Records), swaggers into the proverbial dive bar of life today. Dripping with 70s fuzz and ample amounts of Yuengling, this one, from the wah drenched mayhem of opening instrumental “Eye of the Deep” to frontman Erik Caplan’s Lemmy-ish vocal delivery, does throwback right, so make sure to give it a try.
Finally, new releases wrap up with the beginning of Coheed and Cambria’s post-concept album era, The Color Before the Sun (300); Norwegian grindcore jokers Beaten to Death’s latest throat punch, Unplugged (Mas-Kina Recordings); and the long-awaited full-length, Self (Burning World/ConSouling Sounds/Tarturus Records), from discordant Dutch black metal auteurs, Terzij de Horde. If there’s not a suitable après meal night cap on that menu, then you’re probably too damn picky.
WHAT TO SEE: Friday, Friday, Friday. Kick things off the weekend with KEN Mode at The Acheron and Rat Salad at Lucky 13 Saloon tonight, and then keep it rolling into Saturday, which features a full metal show battalion spearheaded by A Place To Bury Strangers and Sannhet at Saint Vitus, Eye of the Destroyer at Court Tavern, Witchtrap at The Acheron, and an old shred-nerd special featuring The Winery Dogs (Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan, Richie Kotzen) at the Playstation (formerly Best Buy) Theater.
Sunday arrives with a fistful of matinee shows in tow, including The High and Mighty at Lucky 13 Saloon, IKILLYA at Slake, and the three-part live recording of Think Tank’s 33-minute noise opus, “Whale Song”, at the Nihil Gallery. That last one comes with a free beer if you RSVPd, so get out there and get the pregame going for Jucifer, Serial Hawk, and It’s Not Night at The Acheron, which is bound to be a good one.
Monday follows that up with a pair of heavy Manhattan options from For Today and Hollywood Undead at the Gramercy Theatre and Webster Hall, respectively. If those are your kind of thing, enjoy. If not, then cool your heels until Tuesday, when Nader Sadek hits Lucky 13 Saloon and Fates Warning rolls into Saint Vitus with Imminent Sonic Destruction (an actual band) rattling along in their wake. Wednesday, meanwhile, earns metal-night-of-the-week honors, with Cannibal Corpse and Cattle Decapitation at The Emporium in Patchogue, NY; Unearth and Wovenwar at The Stone Pony; Menace and The Clap at The Grand Victory; and Torche and Primitive Weapons at Saint Vitus. Get out there and lose your head.
Finally, draw the weekly iron curtain on Thursday with a death metal meatgrinder at Blackthorn 51 featuring Vital Remains and Necronomicon; some arty blackened noise from Oneirogen and Spiteful Womb at Trans-Pecos; and a mammoth doom spectacle courtesy of Goatsnake and our friends up at SV. Needless to say, minus the toxic air, subways, narcissism, and Jets fans, NYC is an awesome to place to be a metalhead.
WHAT THE FUCK: I’m on CMJ duty Tuesday through Saturday, which means the bright, dangerous world beyond on these walls will unfortunately have to take precedent. In order to make up for it, however, I have compiled a list of next week’s five can’t miss records today. Grab those headphones and get after it.
1. Panopticon – Autumn Eternal (Bindrune/Nordvis)
2. Satan – Atom By Atom (Listenable)
3. White Widows Pact – True Will (New Damage)
4. Shining – International Blackjazz Soxciety (Spinefarm)
5. So Hideous – Lorestine (Prosthetic)