This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Artillery, Corpsevore, Ghoul, Hauntologist, House Of Atreus, KMFDM, Meth, Necrowretch, Stages Of Decomposition, Striker, Transit Method and Troy The Band.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Artillery – Raw Live (At Copenhill) (Mighty)
Danish thrashers Artillery have been around for more than 40 years and issued ten studio albums. Live albums from them have been even more scarce. Raw Live (At Copenhill) is only their second ever live release. It was recorded at the 2022 Copenhell festival in their home country.
Unfortunately, it ended up being one of the final shows for drummer Josua Madsen, who was killed in a car accident. Vocalist Michael Bastholm Dahl and guitarist Kraen Meier also recently left the band. Artillery blaze through 11 songs during their set. Three are from their most recent effort, 2021’s X. They also revisit their early years, playing a couple of songs from 1987’s Terror Squad, including closing the show with the title track. As the album title suggests, the set is raw and loud, played with passion and energy. It’s a good snapshot of this era of the band as fans await what the next era will bring.
Corpsevore – Feed The Plague (Horror Pain Gore Death)
Feed The Plague has a fairly simple premise: animal cruelty is unconscionable and anyone that disagrees is going to get the death/grind of Corpsevore right to the skull. This buckshot of noise is quick and completely painful, designed for maximum splatter effect in the shortest way possible. As is customary with the grindier side of death metal, the release is over and out before it gets anywhere near the 20-minute mark.
That means the main musician behind this group, Wintereve guitarist Armand, only has finite time to rail against the mutilation of helpless creatures. There are some good variations in the music, like the shredding guitar solo on “Fur Bitch” and slick bass leads on “A.H.A.B. (All Hunters Are Bastards)” and “Science Without Conscience.” These give Feed The Plague more depth than may be expected.
Ghoul – Noxious Concoctions (Tankcrimes)
It has been a while since there has been new material from the Oakland, California masked splatterthrashers Ghoul. There was a live album in 2021, but their last studio effort was 2016’s Dungeon Bastards. Their latest is the five track EP Noxious Concoctions.
While most of the songs are compact and streamlined, opener “The Eyes Of The Witch” clocks in at over 7 minutes, delivering both galloping thrash and groovy death metal and an extended instrumental outro. The title track puts the hammer down at maximum tempo, while “Shotgun Gulch” and “Ratlicker” are more ominous and mid-paced. The EP closes with a cover of Funerot’s “1-900-DTH-LINE.” It’s a welcome return for Ghoul and whets the appetite for a new full-length.
Hauntologist – Hollow (No Solace)
“In rapid decline of the future, A chimera is about to step in.” This is how Hauntologist, featuring members of Mgła, take their first lyrical steps. It’s a statement about the darkness of tomorrow that may never come, and if it does happen, it will drown humanity in its most nightmarish state. This is Hollow, Hauntologist’s debut, derived from the world of Mgła, filled with nihilism, human depravity and nightmares.
But do Hollow and Hauntologist have more to offer than Mgła? In some ways, the answer is no, and in other ways, it is a resounding yes. Although Hollow follows the new school of Polish black metal, it also looks at integrating post-rock elements into its music. That’s why it takes a step beyond the familiar Polish black metal sound, and becomes a multi-layered work strongly based on experimental musical narratives. While they follow the principles of black metal, Hauntologist take a glimpse into post-punk and challenge the hallucinatory states and human anxiety. Hollow is a big winner; an ambitious striking monster.
Minnesota’s House Of Atreus perform a very crunchy form of death metal on the EP Orations. Their music has been compared to Argholescent, so fans of that band should find something to like here. The music could also be labeled melodic death metal. The guitars take over for the most part and have a center of focus attached. The drumming is intense and has a nice repetitive feeling to it.
This is fun by just following the main riffs. Songs like “Morphos of Degeneration” are crushing and they stand alone nicely. The six track EP wraps up with a cover of Running Wild’s “Riding The Storm.” The sum of the parts on Orations is probably better that every individual idea. Still, with more out-there ideas the band would be even more compelling than they currently are. Those with a need for an accessible sound will find a lot to like here and will be coming back time and time again. Orations is a very good death metal release.
KMFDM – Let Go (Metropolis)
German industrial pioneers KMFDM are celebrating their 40th anniversary. They have been remarkably consistent over their long career, never going more than three years between studio albums. Let Go is their 23rd full-length.
KMFDM have delivered another varied album. The opening title track is an upbeat banger that’s catchy and memorable. Their trademark mix of heavy guitars and danceable beats is fully intact. Sascha Konietzko’s baritone vocals are instantly recognizable. “Airhead” is a celebration of American life in the ’70s and ’80s, name checking everything from chia pets to Donkey Kong to Pop Tarts. Featuring Lucia Cifarelli on vocals, it’s the poppiest track on the album. That’s contrasted by “When The Bell Tolls,” when her vocals transition from spoken word to ’90s influenced grunge/punk. KMFDM stay true to their established sound on Let Go while injecting plenty of modern elements that keep them moving forward.
Meth – Shame (Prosthetic)
It’s only the beginning of February and we may already have ourselves one of the most disturbing albums of the year in Meth’s sophomore release, Shame. Unpleasantries abound as vocalist Seb Alvarez sinks himself further into an emotional hole caused by addiction issues and undiagnosed mental illness. His unwavering shrieks are drenched in rot.
The songs are much longer, with a blackened slant on “Blush” and “Cruelty.” All of this, combined with a production that feels like a ton of bricks being dropped from a skyscraper, makes for authentic depravity. Shame is a hard record to listen to on a daily basis, but its honest expulsion of negativity is something that can’t be replicated.
Necrowretch – Swords Of Dajjal (Season Of Mist)
The French black/death metal band Necrowretch‘s latest album Swords Of Dajjal was recorded as a three-piece. Lone remaining original member Vlad (vocals/guitars) was joined by guitarist W. Cadaver and new drummer Nicolas Ferrero (Catacomb).
While earlier albums emphasized the death metal part of the equation, Swords Of Dajjal is their most black metal record to-date. There’s also plenty of variation when it comes to tempos, from the moderately paced “The Fifth Door” to the more intense “Vae Victis.” Most tracks on the album utilize both the traditional blastbeat driven frantic black metal pace along with slower grooves. The mostly instrumental “Daeva” is also a nice change of pace. The lyrics focus on Dajjal, who is similar to the Antichrist. Swords Of Dajjal is ambitious and complex, and Necrowretch make it an engaging listen.
Stages Of Decomposition – Raptures Of Psychopathy (Gore House)
Between the release of their 2016 EP Crawl Space Burial and a fair bit of touring, these past ten years since their debut album Piles Of Rotting Flesh has kept the L.A. brutal death metal band Stages Of Decomposition quite busy. Raptures Of Psychopathy draws inspiration from famous psychopaths, such as the case with “Carve Out The Eyes” being about Richard Ramirez.
That being said, their latest creation is not only a step down in terms of quality from their debut, but it feels repetitive and a slog to listen to. There is no way to differentiate the songs unless they start with a clip in the beginning, which gets old after a while. “Drilling Of The Cerebellum” takes ninety seconds before the actual song starts, and it doesn’t do a good job of hooking you into the album. Raptures Of Psychopathy feels like it could have been something good, but ultimately disappoints.
Striker – Ultrapower (Record Breaking)
After churning out their first six albums in an eight year span, the Canadian band Striker took their time with their latest release. Ultrapower comes six years after Play To Win. It’s their first album to feature guitarist John Simon Fallon (The Order Of Chaos) and bassist Pete Klassen (ex-Skulldozer).
The album is packed with arena rockers that are bombastic and melodic with plenty of guitar solos. They blend classic metal, power metal and hair metal into their own sound. They describe “Give It All” as from the soundtrack to an ’80s action movie that doesn’t exist, which is the perfect encapsulation of the song, even down to the sax solo. “Blood Magic” starts out like the theme to a Western before blasting off into a heavy shredfest. Uptempo, singalong songs make up the majority of the album, and while they aren’t overly original, Striker’s execution and sense of humor makes for an enjoyable ride.
Transit Method – Othervoid (Brutal Panda)
Transit Method have been around for more than a decade, founded by brothers Matt (vocals/guitar) and Mike (drums) LoCoco. The latest release from the Austin, Texas prog band is Othervoid, their third full-length. It features two new members: guitarist Bryan Rolli and bassist Charlie Anderson (Panopticon).
Their songwriting style is different than the typical prog band, implementing heavy rock riffs and catchy melodies alongside more experimental forays. “Psychometry” has soaring, traditional metal influences while “The Outside” brings vocal harmonies and a ’70s rock vibe. “Savage Creatures” starts out smooth and melodic, but gets heavier and more intense. Most of the songs are in the four minute range, but closer “Frostbite” is a nearly 9 minute epic. It encapsulates the variety and diversity of the entire album in one memorable track. Othervoid has plenty for prog fans to enjoy, but has appeal to wider audience of rock and metal fans as well.
Troy The Band – Cataclysm (Bonebag)
Troy The Band’s stoner metal is given a quivering shake by a dominant bass guitar performance from Sean Durbin on Cataclysm. Most songs start off with a hazy riff from Durbin, as the rest of the band waits to join in on the jamming. While these songs don’t meander much, there’s definitely spaces where a listener could imagine the group leading a long instrumental break in a live performance.
The vocals drift around, then roar to the foreground when vocalist Craig Newman wants to hit a particular line. They tend to act that way musically as well, floating through traumatic experiences before having a spirited uptick in tempos, as evident on the last two songs, “I.H.O.D.” and “Fauna.” Cataclysm checks all the required points for efficient stoner metal.