The 2016 edition of MDF kicked off yesterday, which means 50% of the NYC metal scene has packed up and moved south for the weekend. Thankfully there’s still enough radioactive spillover to go around, however, so sit down, shut up (yes, that means me too), and dig in.
WHAT TO HEAR: Leading off this week is The Grief Relic (Season of Mist), the first record from hybridized ATL death metal outfit, Withered, since their 2010 opus, Dualitas. Of the lineup involved in that one, only guitarist Mike Thompson and drummer Beau Brandon remain, recruiting avant-metal Swiss Army Knife, Colin Marston, and capillary-popping Primitive Man growler, Ethan McCarthy, for a wholly different, but equally crushing, tour de force. Tightly wound and technical, but with an organic brutality that could only come steaming up from the South, The Grief Relic is one of several early contenders for death metal album of the year, so check out the free stream via Noisey and—if you like what you hear—grab tickets to the band’s upcoming appearance at Saint Vitus alongside Inter Arma.
Meanwhile over in Finland, revered satanic black metal contingent, Behexen, are set to conjure their fourth full length, The Poisonous Path (Debemur Morti), out of the smoke, blood, and darkness. A thrumming, swarming assault on the auditory senses, The Poisonous Path—which kicks off with one of the single finest black metal specimens of 2016 in “Umbra Luciferi”—is what we’ve all come to know, love, and fear from Behexen over the course of their shadowy two-decade reign. As both a gateway and a ninth circle, this one more than suffices, so make sure to lend it your ears (and soul).
Rising from the underground ashes today is El-Ahrairah‘s self-titled debut (Underground Soundscapes). Though the Minnesotan contingent was largely presumed dead after their 2012 demo and subsequent disappearance, this viper’s nest of crossbred black metal disciplines rears its fanged face today nonetheless, proving worthy of its own surprise. There is no shortage of new black metal on offer these days, but this one—with its cassette-ready production and subtle sense of melody—more than earns a place on the terabytes-deep playlist.
Moving from old new to now, 80s Bay Area thrash undercard, Death Angel, are back with their eighth LP, The Evil Divide (Nuclear Blast), today. Death Angel have been eclipsed by the countless current bands they’ve influenced (Toxic Holocaust, Power Trip, Vektor, etc.), but as The Evil Divide proves, they still have plenty of big, badass riffs left in the tank. After that, check out Gravenous Hour (Unique Leader), the second full length from upstart Russian death metallers, Katelepsy. If you don’t find something whiplash-worthy in that pair, then there’s probably nothing more I can do for you here.
Rounding out the week is Acid Crusher/Mount Swan (Tee Pee), a new two-song split from Earthless and Harsh Toke, and Love (The Flesner), the latest from witchy doom artistes, Muscle & Marrow. If you just cleared the bong, check out the former via Stereogum. If you’re looking for something that barely qualifies for this section, then perhaps Love, despite the universe’s repeated evidence to the contrary, is meant for you, after all.
WHAT TO SEE: This is where the MDF effect begins to truly be felt, but rest assured there are still a healthy number of extreme shows on tap this week, beginning tonight with The Body and Uniform at Saint Vitus, and continuing tomorrow with the equally revered Kayo Dot on the very same stage. Sunday keeps the skull kicking, well, kicking with Chud and Filth Hound at The Acheron, Nadja and Insect Ark at Saint Vitus, and the F*ck Tumors! Hardcore Benefit, which comes together for a good cause and a crazy bill featuring Cro-Mags, Sheer Terror, Extinction A.D., and more at the Highline Ballroom.
Memorial Day, meanwhile, is spearheaded by an absolutely bonkers lineup in Webster Hall’s Marlin Room, featuring Discharge, EYEHATEGOD, Toxic Holocaust, and Ringworm. Backing that one up is a Life Stinks-headlined get together at The Acheron, which brings us to Tuesday, when Venom Inc. and Necrophagia are set for the first of their consecutive appearances at Saint Vitus and Moon Tooth joins Tiger Flowers and Husbandry for another Acheron-approved rager. Finally, Thursday rolls around with local instrumetallers, MantisMass, at Vitus and a 25-year celebration bash for NYC hardcore stalwarts, Pro-Pain, at Santos Party Haus, effectively bringing another week crashing down around us.
WHAT THE FUCK: Another week, another obit, this time for golden-era Megadeth drummer, Nick Menza, who passed away after suffering a massive heart attack onstage this weekend. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but it can’t hurt to say it again: Rust in peace, brother.