Quarterly Review: Crippled Black Phoenix, Chat Pile, Early Moods, Larman Clamor, The Necromancers, Les Lekin, Highbay, Sound Animal, Warcoe, DONE


See you back here Monday, huh? Yeah. If onslaughts of new music are your thing and you’ve been following along throughout this week — first, thank you — and second, we’ll pick up after the weekend with another 50 albums in this double-wide Fall 2022 Quarterly Review. This was a good week though. Yesterday had some genuine killers, and I’ve added a few to my best-of lists for the end-of-year stuff to come. There’ll be another Quarterly Review then too. Never any trouble filling slots with new releases. I’ve already started, in fact.

Madness. Didn’t I say something yesterday about one thing at a time? Ha.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Crippled Black Phoenix, Banefyre

crippled black phoenix banefyre

There are times where I wonder if Crippled Black Phoenix aren’t just making fun of other bands, their audience, themselves, and everything, and then there are times when I’m pretty sure they are. To wit, their latest outing for Season of Mist, Banefyre, is nearly an hour into its 90-plus-minute runtime before they offer up the 10-minute “Down the Rabbit Hole,” and, well, if we’re not down it by then, where the hell are we? See also “Wyches and Basterdz” near the outset. Whatever else they may be, the long-running, dynamic, progressive, dark heavy rock troupe surrounding founding songwriter and guitarist Justin Greaves are like nothing else. They offer shades of influences, discernable elements from this or that style, this or that band — “The Reckoning” has a bit of The Cure, “Blackout77” filters that through Katatonia, etc. — but are never working to be anyone but themselves. Accordingly, the thoroughly British depressive triumphs throughout Banefyre — looking at you, “I’m OK, Just Not Alright” — are part of an ongoing narrative of creative development that will hit its 20th year in 2024 and has offered listeners an arc of emotive and stylistic depth that, in whatever genre you want to try to confine it, is only ever going to escape. The only real tragedy of Banefyre is that they’ll probably have another record out before this one can be properly digested. That’ll take a few years at least.

Crippled Black Phoenix on Facebook

Season of Mist website


Chat Pile, God’s Country

Chat Pile God's Country

An Oklahoma hardcore-born circus of sludge-toned tragedies personal, cultural and socioeconomic played out across nine songs/42 minutes held together at times seemingly most of all by their disenchantment, Chat Pile‘s debut album, God’s Country is arthouse angularity, raw aggression and omnidirectional intensity. As the UK’s post-industrial waste once birth’d Godflesh, so now come vocalist Raygun Busch, guitarist Luther Manhole, bassist Stin and electronic-drummer Cap’n Ron with brilliantly constructed tales of drugs, murder, suicide, loss, violence, misery, and general wretchedness of spirit, presented instrumentally with quick turns that draw from hardcore as noted, but also death metal, sludge, industrial doom, and so on. The lyrics are masterful drug poetry and delivered as such, semi-spoken, shouted, some singing, some acting out, such that you never know from what direction the next punch is coming. “Why” tackles homelessness, “Pamela” demonstrates the impossibility of coping with loss, “Slaughterhouse” is what it says, and closer “Grimace_Smoking_Weed.jpeg” resolves its nine minutes in long-held feedback and crashes as Busch frantically screams with decreasing intelligibility until it’s even words anymore. A perfect finish to a stunning, terrifying, moving first album. Don’t go into it expecting listenability. Even as “I Don’t Care if I Burn” offers some respite, it does so while describing a murder fantasy. It’s not the only one.

Chat Pile on Instagram

The Flenser store


Early Moods, Early Moods

Early Moods Early Moods

Fuck yes Gen-Z doom. Yes. Yes. Yes. Show the old men how it’s done. Please. Not a gray hair in the bunch, or a bullshit riff, or a lazy groove. Early Moods got their influences in line with their 2020 debut EP, Spellbound (review here), and you can still hear some Candlemass in “Broken,” but their self-titled debut LP stamps its foot to mark their arrival as something new and a fresh take on classic ideas. Vocalist Alberto Alcaraz is a distinct presence atop the hard-distorted guitars of Eddie Andrade and Oscar Hernandez, while Elix Feliciano‘s bass fuzz-rumbles through the interlude “Memento Mori” and Chris Flores‘ big-room-ready kick counts in the Trouble‘d early highlight “Live to Suffer.” Later on, “Curse of the Light” leans into the metal end of classic doom metal ahead of the chugging roll of “Damnation” and the finisher “Funeral Macabre,” but Early Moods have already put these things in play by then, as demonstrated with the eponymous title-track. Songs are tight, crisply produced, and executed to style with a promise of more growth to come. It’s an easy record to get excited about, and one of 2022’s best albums. I might just buy the tape and the CD.

Early Moods on Facebook

RidingEasy Records store


Larman Clamor, With a Deadly Hiss

Larman Clamor With a Deadly Hiss

Less than a year after a return born of celebrating the project’s 10th anniversary with the Ink fo’ Blood (review here) full-length, prolific visual artist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and singer Alexander von Wieding returns with Larman Clamor‘s latest, With a Deadly Hiss. As ever, formalities are dispensed with in favor of deceptively intricate arrangements of slide acoustic and electric guitar, whatever’s-around-style percussion and von Wieding‘s telltale throaty vocals, which on “Swamp Jive” and even a bit of the six-minute finale “Eleventh Spell to Cast” draw back the throaty grit in favor of a more melodic, somewhat less performative delivery that suits the material well. Songs are mostly short — there are 11 of them and the aforementioned closer is the longest by about three minutes — but each is a blinking glimpse into the humid, climbing-vine world of von Wieding‘s creation, and in instrumentals like the manic percussion of “Monkey and the Trash Goblins” and the distortion-backed algae-delica of “Iguana at the Fountain,” the brashness of “Tortuga” and the playful falsetto of the leadoff title-track are expanded in such a way as to hint of future paths to be explored. One way or the other, Larman Clamor remains an entity unto itself in concept, craft and delivery, and if With a Deadly Hiss is just another forward step en route to the next stop on down the road, even better.

Larman Clamor on Facebook

Larman Clamor on Bandcamp


The Necromancers, When the Void Rose

The Necromancers When the Void Rose

Recorded in 2021, The Necromancers‘ third album would seem to have a mind toward picking up where the Poitiers, France-based four-piece left off pre-pandemic with 2018’s Of Blood and Wine (review here). Can hardly blame them, frankly. Now self-releasing (their first two albums were on Ripple), the semi-cult heavy rockers bring an air of classic metal to the proceedings but are remarkably cohesive in their craft, with guitarist/vocalist Basile Chevalier-Coudrain fronting the band even in the studio as demonstrated on the ’80s metal roller “The Needle,” which follows the eight-minute doom-adjacent unfolding of “Crimson Hour” — and that “adjacent” is a compliment, by the way; The Necromancers are less concerned with playing to genre than with it — wherein guitarist Robin Genais adds a short but classy solo to underscore the willful grandiosity. Bassist Simon Evariste and drummer Benjamin Rousseau underscore the grooves, prominent in the verse of the title-track, and while it’s guitars up front in traditionalist fashion, the truth is all four players are critical here, and it’s the overarching affect of the whole that makes When the Void Rose such an engaging listen, rather than the individual parts. That is to say, listen front to back for best results.

The Necromancers on Facebook

The Necromancers on Bandcamp


Les Lekin, Limbus

Les Lekin Limbus

Though instrumental across its vast stretches, Les Lekin‘s Limbus — their first full-length since 2017’s Died with Fear, also on Tonzonen, and third overall — begins with a verbal message of hope, lyrics in German, in the beginning intro “Licht.” That gives a specifically covid-era context to the proceedings, but as the subsequent three massive sans-vocal pieces “Ascent” (14:14), “Unknown” (8:18) and closer “Return” (22:00), unfold, they do so with a decidedly otherworldly, deeply-weighted psychedelic verve. The narrative writes itself in the titles, so I’ll spare you the pretense of insight (on my part there), but note that if it was escapism through music being sought on the part of the meditative Salzburg three-piece, the richness of what’s on offer throughout Limbus is generous enough to share that experience with the audience as well. “Ascent” swells and builds as it moves duly upward, and in “Unknown,” the trio explores post-metallic atmospherics in a crunching midsection without ever losing sight of the ambience so central to what they’re doing, while it would be hard for “Return” not to be the highlight, drums and initial bass rumble giving way to a huge sounding, engrossing procession of atmospheric density. Les Lekin have been a critical favorite for a while now, and it’s easy to hear why, but their work here holds far more than academic appeal or to-genre conformity. They embody the release they would seem to have sought and still carry an exploratory spirit despite the clearly charted course of their songs.

Les Lekin on Facebook

Tonzonen Records store


Highbay, LightShower

highbay lightshower

LightShower is the fourth session from Hungarian jammers Highbay to see release in the last year-plus, and it arrives with the immediately noteworthy backing of Psychedelic Source Records. In the vein of many of that collective’s offerings, it is live recorded, probably improvised, and wholly instrumental, the trio vibing their way into a groove early on “Walking on Bubbles” and holding gently to that locked-in, entranced feel across the following five jams. The shimmering guitar tone, particuly as “Miracle Under Water” moves into the more extended “Spaceship” and the pleasantly funky “FunKing Dragons Above Fissure Mountains,” is a highlight, but the intention here is a full set, and I won’t take away from the fuzzier, riffier emergence later on in “FunKing Dragons” either, or, for that matter, the ready-to-wander post-rock float of closer “3D(ays) Trippin’.” It’s a big universe, and Highbay have their work cut out for them if they want to feel their way through all of it, but “Spaceship” mellows its way off into a greater beyond, and even “Hungover Sadness (’90s Romance)” manages to not be a drag as filtered through the trio’s chemistry. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t be the last time Highbay are heard from this year, but they’re yet another name to add to the list of Psychedelic Source-associated acts whose jammy sensibilities are helping manifest a new generation of Eastern European lysergic rock and roll.

Psychedelic Source Records on Facebook

Psychedelic Source Records on Bandcamp


Sound Animal, Yes, Yes, You

Sound Animal Yes Yes You

Think of this as less of a review and more of a general reminder to throw a follow in the direction of Berkeley, California’s dug-in-as-hell Sound Animal, or at very least let your ears pay a visit every now and again to soak up some of the weirdo drone, dance, psych electronics and whatever else might be had on any given afternoon from the prolific solo-project. “Yes, Yes, You” is the latest single, but likely not for long, and it plays out across 3:33 of keyboardian ambience and recitations of the titular reassurance that would be soul-pop were they not so definitively experimental and part of such an ongoing creative splurge. Tucked away in a corner of the Bandcamp dimension, Sound Animal comes across as an outlet for ideas as much as sonics, and with the persistent thud of a beat beneath, one, two, three, four, the melodic serenity of the wash feels like direct conversation, with the listener, the self, or, more likely, both. It is beautiful and brief, as I’m told life also is, and it may just be the thing that came after one thing and before the next, but if you stop for a minute or three and let it sink in, you just might find a more substantial place to reside. Not gonna be for everyone, but the fact that “Yes, Yes, You” is so vague and yet so clearly encouraging rather than accusatory speaks to the artistic purpose writ large throughout Sound Animal‘s e’er expanding catalog. Wouldn’t be surprised or sad to find a subsequent single going somewhere else entirely, but again, just a reminder that it’s worth finding that out.

Sound Animal on Facebook

Sound Animal website


Warcoe, The Giant’s Dream

Warcoe The Giant's Dream

Somewhere between classic metal and doom, heavy rock’s riff-led impulses and cultish atmospheres there resides the Pesaro, Italy, trio Warcoe and their debut album, The Giant’s Dream. Led by guitarist/vocalist Stefano — who also plays bass on some of the later tracks — with bassist Carlo and drummer Francesco proffering thickened roll and punctuating rhythm all the while save for the early acoustic interlude “Omega Sunrise,” the band nestle smoothly into a modern-via-not-at-all-modern sphere, yet neither are they retro or aping ’70s methodologies. Maybe that moment has passed and it’s the ascent of the ’80s metal and doom we’re seeing here — or maybe I just slated Warcoe and Early Moods the same day and both bands dig Trouble and Death Row/Pentagram, I won’t pretend to know — but the bass in “Fire and Snow” is more of a presence than bass was pretty much ever 40 years ago, so to call The Giant’s Dream anything but ‘now’ is inaccurate. They lean into rock on “Thieves, Heretics and Whores” and manifest grim but stately lurch before the fade of the penultimate “Scars Will Remain,” but wherever each piece might end up, the impression is abidingly dark and offers a reminder that Italy’s history of cult doom goes farther back than most. Paul Chain, Steve Sylvester, your legacy is in good hands.

Warcoe on Facebook

Forbidden Place Records on Bandcamp


DONE, Aged and Untreated

DONE Aged & Untreated

Hard to find info on the Boston or Boston-adjacent extreme-metal-inflected, sludge-toned dark hardcore outfit DONE — and that may just as well be anti-social-media mystique creation as the fact that their name is ungooglable — but the tape slays. Aged and Untreated hammers 15 scathing tracks into its 28 minutes, and dies on a hill of wintry black metal and barking hardcore mostly but not completely summarized in the turns of “Soulsplitter.” The fun part is when they bounce back and forth, throw in some grind on “To Curt on Waverly,” scratch your eyes out with “Dance for Them” — the second cut behind says-it-all-in-a-minute opener “Nah” — and willfully crash into a wall on the comparatively sprawling 2:35 “I Fucking Hate Thinking About You.” Haven’t seen a lyric sheet and probably won’t if my success rate in tracking down relevant factoids is anything to go by, but shit, I lived on the South Shore for seven years, including the record-breaking winter of 2014, and it sure felt a lot like this. Maybe they’re from Arizona, and if they are, I’m sure some hack would say the same thing, but hell’s bells Aged and Untreated is an intense listen, and its wreck-your-shit violence is meted out such that even the slightly-slower punch in the first half of “Hope Trickle” makes the song feel sarcastic. I wouldn’t put it on every day, but yeah. Righteously pissed.

Tor Johnson Records on Bandcamp

Tor Johnson Records store


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3 Responses to “Quarterly Review: Crippled Black Phoenix, Chat Pile, Early Moods, Larman Clamor, The Necromancers, Les Lekin, Highbay, Sound Animal, Warcoe, DONE”

  1. GT says:

    Les Lekin & Highbay releases are great psych recs. Thanks

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