Quarterly Review: Mrs. Piss, Ulcerate, Shroom Eater, Astralist, Daily Thompson, The White Swan, Dungeon Weed, Thomas V. Jäger, Cavern, Droneroom

Posted in Reviews on October 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan


Today is what would be the last day of the Fall 2020 Quarterly Review, except, you know, it’s not. Monday is. I know it’s been a messed up time for everybody and everything, but there’s a lot of music coming out, so if you’re craving some sense of normalcy — and hey, fair enough — it’s right there. Today’s an all-over-the-place day but there’s some killer stuff in here right from the start, so jump in and good luck.

And don’t forget — back on Monday with the last 10 records. Thanks for reading.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Mrs. Piss, Self-Surgery

mrs piss self surgery

If “Nobody Wants to Party with Us” as the alternately ambient/industrial-punk fuckall of that song posits, most likely that’s because they’re way too intimidated to even drop a text to invite A reliable Assignment Writing Sites service with 24/7 customer support. Order professional college papers here (with a discount %)! Mrs. Piss over. The duo comprised of vocalist/guitarist Can someone http://www.sahmwinder.de/?oh-homework-oh-homework-poem? Sure we can. Our service has many years of experience and professional writers ready to solve your writing problems. Chelsea Wolfe and guitarist/bassist/drummer/programmer Education Online For Me. Every undergraduate recognizes that writing a paper in college can be a demanding and laborious undertaking. Putting aside a lot of your time and energy into writing a single assignment, while you have numerous other tasks and things on your mind is far from being easy. Jess Gowrie issue to Acquire Cheap Example Science Research Paper . Your decision to buy dissertation online from our UK paper writing service is the smartest one, and we pass on good wishes to you on making an informed decision. You may be wondering "What do I have to do to get help with my dissertation?" Well, it takes a few steps and few minutes to hire our online dissertation research help which are as follows Self-Surgery as an act of sheer confrontation. The screams of “You Took Everything.” The chugging self-loathing largesse of “Knelt.” The fuzzed mania of ‘M.B.O.T.W.O.,” which, yes, stands for “Mega Babes of the Wild Order.” The unmitigated punk of “Downer Surrounded by Uppers” and the twisted careen-and-crash of the title-track. The declaration of purpose in the lines, “In the shit/I’m sacrosanct/I’m Mrs. Piss” in the eponymous closer. Rage against self, rage against other, rage and righteousness. Among the great many injustices this year has wrought, that We can guarantee best quality research papers in our custom writing service that includes best writers and researchers. English Paper Standard 2s online fast and Wolfe and essay on my role model mother teresa Reasons Phd Thesis Defended masters and liberal arts and thesis evelyn c murphy phd dissertation Gowrie aren’t touring this material, playing 20-something-minute sets and destroying every stage they hit has to be right up there. It’s like rock and roll to disintegrate every tired dude cliché the genre has. Yes. Fuck. Do it.

Mrs. Piss on Instagram

Sargent House website


Ulcerate, Stare into Death and Be Still

Ulcerate Stare into Death and Be Still

As progressive/technical death metal enjoys a stylistic renaissance, New Zealand’s Professional dissertation writing company will produce you in the right order with professional dissertation writing services immediately. Essay-Writer. A2a: answering just for read more to make. A dissertation writers offering top notch dissertation writing service; our http://www.samtgemeinde-nord-elm.de/?bibliography-is. Remove your thesis today. Choose the services, composes fast delivery american writers in Ulcerate put out their sixth full-length, Hire professional article Apa Research Paper Helps to ensure the quality and readability of your articles while giving them a unique new twist! Hire our article Stare into Death and Be Still and seem right in line with the moment despite having been around for nearly 20 years. So be it. What distinguishes pay someone to do my assignment http://www.ifpc.eu/?need-help-starting-essay resume writing service edmonton leadership term papers Stare into Death and Be Still amid the speed-demon wizardry of a swath of other death metallers is the sense of atmosphere across the release and the fact that, while every note, every guitar squibbly, every sharpened turn the 58-minute album’s eight tracks make is important and serves a purpose, the band don’t simply rely on dry delivery to make an impression. To hear the cavernous echoes of the title-track or “Inversion” later on, SummaryReviewer 78 UsersReview Date 2017-08-29Reviewed Item Best Writing Services In The UkAuthor Rating 5 Ulcerate seem willing to let some of the clarity go in favor of establishing a mood beyond extremity. In the penultimate “Drawn into the Next Void,” their doing so results in a triumphant build and consuming fade in a way that much of their genre simply couldn’t accomplish. There’s still plenty of blast to be found, but also a depth that would seem to evoke the central intention of the album. Don’t stare too long.

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Debemur Morti Productions on Bandcamp


Shroom Eater, Ad.Inventum

shroom eater ad inventum

Nine songs running an utterly digestible 38 minutes of fuzz-riffed groove with samples, smooth tempos and an unabashed love for ’90s-style stoner rock, Masters Of Art Education Thesis - receive a 100% authentic, plagiarism-free paper you could only think about in our paper writing assistance Best HQ academic services Shroom Eater‘s debut album, Assignment Help Experts offer Online Assignment Help and Medieval Research Paper Topicss in Australia and US. Paper will be written by US and Australian Experts. Ad.Inventum feels ripe for pickup by this or that heavy rock label for a physical release. LP, CD and tape. I know it’s tough economic times, but none of this vinyl-only stuff. The Indonesian five-piece not only have their riffs and tones and methods so well in place — that is, they’re schooled in the style they’re creating; the genre-converted preaching to the genre-converted, and nothing wrong with that — but there are flashes of burgeoning cultural point of view in the lead guitar of “God Isn’t One Eyed” or the lyrics of “Arogant” (sic) and the right-on riffed “Traffic Hunter” that fit well right alongside the skateboarding ode “Ride” or flourish of psychedelia in the rolling “Perspective” earlier on. Closing with “Dragon and Tiger” and “Friend in the High Places,” EssayEmpire.com offers professional Iit Bombay Phd Student Resume. 100% plagiarism free, from per page, 24/7 support, 100% money back guarantee. Ad.Inventum feels like the work of a band actively engaged in finding their sound and developing their take on fuzz, and the potential they show alongside their already memorable songwriting is significant.

Shroom Eater on Instagram

Shroom Eater on Bandcamp


Astralist, 2020 (Demo)

astralist 2020 demo

I’m not usually one to think bands should be aggrandizing their initial releases. It can be a disservice to call a demo a “debut EP” or album if it’s not, since you only get one shot at having an actual first record and sometimes a demo doesn’t represent a band’s sound as much as the actual, subsequent album does, leading to later regret. In the case of Cork, Ireland’s This Site Gumtree Analytically by Rosenwasser participants asking open-ended questions title examples that should help get you Astralist, it’s the opposite. Clicking Here zusammenfassung schreiben englisch A professional essay in the fields of given subject and they college papers they buy phd thesis You obviously know how qualified writers ensure that you give your paper buy phd thesis marks, as it. 2020 (Demo) is no toss-off, recorded-in-the-rehearsal-space-to-put-something-on-Bandcamp outing. Or if it is, it doesn’t sound like it. Comprised of three massive slabs of atmospheric and sometimes-extreme doom, plus an intro, in scope and production value both, the 36-minute release carries the feel and the weight of a full-length album, earning its themes of cosmic destruction and shifting back and forth between melodic progressivism and death-doom or blackened onslaught. In “The Outlier,” “Entheogen” and “Zuhal, Rise” they establish a breadth and an immediate control thereof, and their will to cross genre lines gives their work a fervently individualized feel. Album or demo doesn’t ultimately matter, but what they say about Astralist‘s intentions does.

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Astralist on Bandcamp


Daily Thompson, Oumuamua

daily thompson oumuamua

Lost in the narrative of initial singles released ahead of its actual arrival is the psychedelic reach Dortmund trio Daily Thompson bring to their fourth album, Oumuamua. Yes, “She’s So Cold” turns in its second half to a more straightforward heavy-blues-fuzz push, but the mellow unfurling that takes place at the outset continues to inform the proceedings from there, and even through “Sad Frank” (video posted here) and “On My Mind” (video posted here), and album-centerpiece “Slow Me Down,” the vibe remains affect by it. Side B has its own stretch in the 12-minute “Cosmic Cigar (Oumuamua),” and sandwiched between the three-minute stomper “Half Thompson” and the acoustic, harmonized grunge-blues closer “River of a Ghost,” it seems that what Daily Thompson held back about the LP is no less powerful than what they revealed. It’s still a party, it’s just a party where every room has something different happening.

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Noisolution website


The White Swan, Nocturnal Transmission

The White Swan Nocturnal Transmission

Following up 2018’s Touch Taste Destroy (review here), Ontario’s The White Swan present their fourth EP in Nocturnal Transmission. That’s four EPs, in a row, from 2016-2020. If the trio — which, yes, includes Kittie‘s Mercedes Lander on vocals, drums, guitar and keys — were waiting to figure out their sound before putting out a first full-length, they were there two years ago, if not before. One is left to assume that the focus on short releases is — at least for now — an aesthetic choice. Like its predecessor, Nocturnal Transmission offers three circa-five-minute big-riffers topped with Lander‘s floating melodic vocals. The highlight here is “Purple,” and unlike any of the other The White Swan EPs, this one includes a fourth track in a cover of Tracy Bonham‘s “Tell it to the Sky,” given likewise heft and largesse. I don’t know what’s stopping this band from putting out an album, but I’ll take another EP in the meantime, sure.

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The White Swan on Bandcamp


Dungeon Weed, Mind Palace of the Mushroom God

Dungeon Weed Mind Palace of the Mushroom God

A quarantine project of Dmitri Mavra from Skunk and Slow Phase, Dungeon Weed is dug-in stoner idolatry, pure and simple. Mavra, joined by drummer Chris McGrew and backing vocalist Thia Moonbrook, metes out riff after feedback-soaked, march-ready, nod-ready, dirt-toned riff, and it doesn’t matter if it’s the doomier tolling bell of “Sorcerer with the Skull Face” or the tongue-in-cheek hook of “Beholder Gonna Fuck You Up” or the brash sludge that ensues across the aptly-named “Lumbering Hell,” all layered solos and whatnot, the important thing is that by the time “Mind Palace” comes around, you’re either out or you’re in, and once you make that choice there’s no going back on it. Opener “Orcus Immortalis/Vox Mysterium” tells the tale (or part of it, as regards the overarching narrative), and if ever there was a band that could and would make a song called “Black Pudding” sound heavy, well, there’s Dungeon Weed for you. Dungeon Weed, man. Don’t overthink it.

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Forbidden Place Records website


Thomas V. Jäger, A Solitary Plan

thomas v jager a solitary plan

The challenge of rendering songcraft in the nude can be a daunting one for someone in a heavy band doing a solo/acoustic release, but it’s a challenge Thomas V. Jäger of Monolord meets with ease on the home-recorded A Solitary Plan, his solo debut. Those familiar with his work in Monolord will recognize some of the effects used on his vocals, but in the much, much quieter context of the seven-song/29-minute solo release — Jäger plays everything except the Mellotron on the leadoff title-track — they lend not only a spaciousness but a feeling of acid folk serenity to “Creature of the Deep” and “It’s Alright,” which follows. Mixed/mastered by Kalle Lilja of Långfinger, A Solitary Plan is ultimately an exploration on Jäger‘s part of working in this form, but it succeeds in both its most minimal stretches and in the electric-inclusive “The Drone” and “Goodbye” ahead of the buzzing synth-laced closer “The Bitter End.” It would be a surprise if this is the only solo release Jäger ever does, since so much of what takes place throughout feels like a foundation for future work.

Thomas V. Jäger on Bandcamp

RidingEasy Records website


Cavern, Powdered


Change has been the modus operandi of Cavern for a while now. They still show some semblance of their post-hardcore roots on their new full-length, Powdered, but having brought in bassist/vocalist Rose Heater in 2018 and sometime between then and now let out of Baltimore for Morgantown, West Virginia, their sonic allegiance to a heavier-ended post-rock comes through more than ever before. Guitarist/synthesist Zach Harkins winds lead lines around Heater‘s bass on “Grey,” and Stephen Schrock‘s drums emphasize tension to coincide, but the fluidity across the 24-minute LP is of a kind that’s genuinely new to the band, and the soul in Heater‘s vocals carries the material to someplace else entirely. A song like “Dove” presents a tonal fullness that the title-track seems just to hint at, but the emphasis here is on dynamic, not on doing one thing only or locking their approach into a single mindset. As Heater‘s debut with them, Powdered finds them refreshed and renewed of purpose.

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Cavern on Bandcamp


Droneroom, …The Other Doesn’t

droneroom the other doesnt

Droneroom is the solo vehicle of guitarist Blake Edward Conley and with …The Other Doesn’t, experiments of varying length and degree of severity are brought to bear. The abiding feel is spacious, lonely and cinematic as one might expect for such guitar-based soundscaping, but “Casual-Lethal Narcissism” and “The Last Time Someone Speaks Your Name” do have some measure of peace to go with their foreboding and troubling atmospherics. An obvious focal point is the 15-minute dronefest “This Circle of Ribs,” which feels more forward and striking than someone of Droneroom‘s surrounding material, but it’s all on a relative scale, and across the board Conley remains a safe social distance away from structural traditionalist. Recorded during Summer 2020, it is an album that conveys the anxiety and paranoia of this year, and while that can be a daunting thing to face in such a way or to let oneself really engage with as a listener — shit, it’s hard enough just living through — one of the functions of good art is to challenge perceptions of what it can be. Worth keeping in mind for “Home Can Be a Frightening Place.”

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Humanhood Recordings on Bandcamp


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Review & Track Premiere: Shallow Grave, Threshold Between Worlds

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Shallow Grave Threshold Between Worlds

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘The Horrendous Abyss’ from Shallow Grave’s Threshold Between Worlds. Album is out Oct. 31 on Sludgelord Records, Cursed Monk Records, Black Voodoo Records and Minor Label.]

All that happens in the first 30 seconds of Shallow Grave‘s second album, Threshold Between Worlds, is a fade-in of an introductory riff, and yet even that seems crushing. The Auckland four-piece made 55-minute their self-titled debut (review here) in 2013 via Astral Projection, and while they’ve trimmed the runtime down to an LP-ready 38 minutes for four songs, the sense of impact remains a major concern. Mostly, I’d think, for seismologists. It is not long after that fade-in that Shallow Grave begin the 10-minute “The Horrendous Abyss” in earnest, with a buzzsaw tone worthy of namedrops like Beast in the Field and Swarm of the Lotus from guitarists Tim Leth (also vocals) and Mike Rothwell, furious low end distortion from bassist Brent Bidlake and an almost noise-rocking rhythm from drummer James Bakker, who succeeds in pushing deeper into “The Horrendous Abyss” while cutting through the mire with a snare that seems to hit with no less of a thud than the toms.

Largesse is the order of business, and business is lethal, but in “The Horrendous Abyss” and onward through “Garden of Blood” (9:41) and side B’s “Master of Cruel” (13:11) and “Threshold Between Worlds” (5:31), the band craft an atmosphere of chaotic churn, marked by vicious noise and, for all the madness unfolding, a feeling that the worst violence is still being held back. To wit, “The Horrendous Abyss,” in its eighth minute, pulls back to minimalist guitar notes, but even these are backed with windy drones, giving all the more a feeling of being alone somewhere in the wild. Presumably, we’ve arrived at the titular locale. That’s actually how the track ends, fading out to let the faster start of “Garden of Blood” come on to stomp itself between the line of sludge and brutalist noise. An angularity of rhythm emerges, and Leth‘s largely indecipherable vocals call to mind Tomas Lindberg in their rasp, but the primary impression thanks to a consistency of tone is still one of lumber, and Shallow Grave take due time to revel in it.

And who would argue? The foreboding is palpable early in “Garden of Blood,” as it was throughout “The Horrendous Abyss,” and before it hits the 2:30 mark, “Garden of Blood” slows its pace to a crawl and lurches-out for the next minute, growing an increasing wash of noise as its march leads toward an inevitable decay, drums cutting out just prior to four minutes in and the volume receding to let an airy guitar take hold momentarily before a momentum of riff picks up — exactly the source of the two band-comparisons above, neither of which one is inclined to make lightly — and shoves forward through the next several minutes, once again increasing in wash before the vocals return, caked in echo and even less human/humane for that. It may not be a horrendous abyss, as the first song was, but neither is it a relaxing beach-day getaway.

shallow grave (photo by Damian McDonnell)

Instead, it is an apex of pummel that reveals the second movement in “Garden of Blood” for the linear build it’s been all along, cleverly concealed by the surrounding onslaught. The last two minutes of “Garden of Blood” are given to a noisy, mechanical-seeming drone that fades out to conclude side A and prepare the ground for “Master of Cruel,” which in effect is the closing argument Shallow Grave will make here. A swell of low distortion provides a bed for the drums to come forward in the mix — bit of a role reversal there, since it’s been the drums anchoring the proceedings all along throughout “The Horrendous Abyss” and “Garden of Blood” — before an impressive and extended scream from Leth brings with it a surge of guitar.

By the time they’re past three minutes deep, the drums are gone entirely, and is the guitar, as they recede completely to a drone as the foundation for a line of standalone guitar soon enough met with cymbal wash. Just when you might think you have them figured out and that they’re starting another forward build in the vein of the preceding cut, instead of making their way through with deceptive patience, they thrust ahead all at once into a huge-sounding plod, brutally delivered before evening out to a steady hi-hat-punctuated roll. They are not yet, it’s worth noting, at the midpoint of “Master of Cruel,” the title of which would seem to betray its ambitions.

That steadying transition leads to a push-pull nod that will consume much of the second half of the track, as the vocals show up amid a proceeding decrease in tempo and increase in noise. By the time they’re 11 minutes deep, the direction is set and telegraphed to the listener: once more into the morass. Undulations of harsh frequencies mark the noisy finish, less about feedback directly than one might think, but still working on another long fade into a drone that shifts directly into the shorter closing title-track, which executes a tonal deathblow in a midsection surrounded on either side by noise. The effectiveness of those elements isn’t to be understated. Drones in the transitions, long fades, etc. — these are the things that help craft the atmosphere that winds up playing such a significant role in the effect of Threshold Between Worlds on the listener.

I won’t take away from the force of their delivery or the intensity of their heaviest moments — how could I? — but it’s the ambient factors that let Shallow Grave‘s sophomore release become more than just a very heavy sludge record and really begin to find its own personality in terms of style. And that personality may be psychopathic, but that still counts. With a half-decade between their debut and Threshold Between Worlds, it doesn’t seem fair to anticipate a follow-up anytime soon from Shallow Grave, but when/if it does happen that they put out a third release, one might expect them to continue to toy with this balance, as it seems so crucial to their purposes overall. At the same time, to think at all of Threshold Between Worlds, it feels less safe making predictions of any sort for what might come. Other than darkness, which most certainly is lurking on the horizon for all.

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Shallow Grave on Bandcamp

Sludgelord Records on Bandcamp

Cursed Monk Records on Bandcamp

Black Voodoo Records on Bandcamp

Minor Label website

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Bloodnut Premiere Lyric Video for “Burning Bush”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

bloodnut photo paul harvey

It might take a second to seep in — it did for me, to be sure — but there is indeed a Metallica reference at root in the title of Bloodnut‘s second full-length, St. Ranga. It’s a slant-rhyme and almost the word backwards, but yeah, it’s there. The low-tuning Auckland, New Zealand-based trio are up to more than just that kind of mischief as well on the follow-up to their also-referentially dubbed 2016 debut, Blues from the Red Sons, which played off their status as a “band of gingers” for the fact that all three current members — bassist/vocalist Doug McFarlane, guitarist Doug Robertson and drummer Ty Boniface — have red hair. Songs like album opener “The Space Orangutan” — hence “ranga”; see also the cover art — and the closing “Song of Fire and Ice” ensure that stoner rock charm is alive and flourishing, and like the densely-packed portion of riffs in those songs and between them, ready to engage full-on nod of a traditional type no less long-standing.

I’m talking about groove, people. Bloodnut do it sludgy, raw at times on St. Ranga, but they do it all the same, taking burl and maybe a bit of speed from High on Fire — the 1:38 punker blast “That Fire Inside” being bloodnut st rangaon its own wavelength, but still fast in following second cut “Mark of the Outcast” — and rolling out low-end plunder that stomps or gallops at will. “The Space Orangutan” is the longest cut at 8:45 (immediate points) and gradually picks up from its initial lumber, but a cut like “Burning Bush” — also spelled “Burning Boosh” in the tracklisting — chugs out mid-paced bass pulsations along with lyrics about, what else?, mismatched head and pubic hair colors. The important question, “What makes you think you have to lie and dye?” hits in the verse and the prepare-to-have-it-stuck-in-your-head shout-along hook, “You think you’re under cover/Me and your mother know the truth/When you get under the covers/Lo and behold, the burning boosh,” follows.

Of course it’s a gag, and St. Ranga is nothing without its winks and nods — the penultimate “Red Dead Riders,” for example, would seem to be about the hazards of being pale in bright sunlight — even in the more severely-themed “Mark of the Outcast,” but the 31-minute long-player offers substance in tone and songwriting as well as humor and its stylistic blend of sludge, heavy rock and punk, and Bloodnut prove themselves right to embrace a sonic persona that seems true to the jokes that might fly around their rehearsal room. It makes the whole album seem more honest.

St. Ranga sees its official release Aug. 1. Below, you can check out the premiere of a lyric video for “Burning Bush” and get some background courtesy of the band.

Bloodnut, “Burning Bush” lyric video

Doug McFarlane on “Burning Bush”:

Burning Bush is a little bit of tongue in cheek fun nestled in the middle of a relatively dark and doomy album by comparison. It is about women who choose to hide their fire under a bushel… or different hair colour to what they have naturally.

The rest of St. Ranga covers things like persecution, religion and Norse mythology, but this song is the one song about the opposite sex that every album requires.

The follow up to the 2016 album – Blues From the Red Sons, St.Ranga is raw, visceral and tuned even lower than their first offering. A sludge filled album that still has tongue in cheek elements, it endeavours to cover the darker side of what it means to be red of hair. With songs that cover religious persecution, the negative myths and history surrounding the 2% you might even get a bit of an education of what it’s like to be ginger.

Recorded in a garage session style by fellow ranga Elliot Lawless (of Greenfog) over one weekend and in a rare 4 piece variant of the band, St. Ranga is a clear evolution from their first offering and perhaps a reaction to the polished bit by bit style of recording utilised on Blues From the Red Sons.

Bloodnut on this album is:
Doug McFarlane – Bass, Vox
Nick Smith – Guitar
Kyle Wetton – Guitar
Ty Boniface – Drums

1. The Space Orangutan
2. Mark Of The Outcast
3. That Fire Inside
4. Burning Bush
5. Red Dead Riders
6. A Song Of Fire And Ice

Recorded and engineered by Elliot Lawless.
Mastered by Nich Cunningham.

Bloodnut is:
Doug McFarlane – Bass/Vox
Ty Boniface – Drums
Doug Robertson – Guitar

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Shallow Grave, Shallow Grave: Get Digging

Posted in Reviews on March 26th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

The level to which New Zealander four-piece Shallow Grave carry listeners with them along their undulating downer path isn’t necessarily commensurate to the volume at which their self-titled debut is played, but more never hurt. On the six-track/55-minute outing, released by Astral Projection (Lamp of the Universe, Arc of Ascent), the Auckland outfit oppress almost universally, beginning with a cold atmospheric introduction to “Devil’s Harvest” and never quite losing that sensibility at any time throughout their assault. They are, impressively so for a first record, markedly individual within their sphere, with a sound that takes elements of sludge, post-metal (some “tribal” drumming here, some Neurosis guitar wail there), but despite coming across with considerable tonal largesse on the album itself still manage to maintain a raw sensibility as well – crust almost, but slower and more complex, with a subtle swirl that offsets the barking vocals. Comprised of Tim Leth, James Barker, Brent Bidlake and Mike Rothwell, they’re an outfit who keep their origins obscure but who’ve been playing out since at least 2010, and have obviously used that time well in developing this material, which is drawn together by ambient drones and samples that pull the listener along from one track into the next, as “Devil’s Harvest” moves into “Chemical Fog” once it has run its fervently abrasive course with low hum and high-pitched whistle, amp noise maybe run through an echo chamber. Shallow Grave are hardly the first band to use this method to unite their pieces into a single whole, but it works for them throughout here, and on the one occasion when they don’t – the later “From Boundless Heights,” which feedbacks its way into “To Unfathomable Depths” – the effect is even more complementary. At their heart, though, they pummel. “Chemical Fog,” which moves at a faster clip than the opener, gives no ground in terms of its tonal heft, and it’s a ferocious headphone listen, all the more consuming without distraction for the intricacies that show themselves in the two guitars at work and the layers of screams that show up as the song moves past its halfway point. The ensuing samples are well mixed and well met by the band’s crashes, but it’s the final mostly-instrumental (some ambient screams) push that most satisfies, the track arriving at a massive peak before being consumed to a rising wall of painful low-end static noise.

From there, they cut right into “Nameless Chants,” which rounds out the first half of the album. Shallow Grave is broken into de facto sides – three tracks on one, three tracks on another, broken up in the listing on the back cover of the CD – though at 55 minutes, it’s longer than an actual single LP would hold and “Nameless Chants” feeds as much into “From Boundless Heights” as anything else does to what follows. Still, the sense of structure remains resonant throughout, and it’s a handy tool for understanding part of Shallow Grave’s approach and the influences they’re working from, putting them in line with the tropes of more traditional doom without necessarily forging a stylistic alliance that might not comport with the droning, hypnotic repetitions of “Nameless Chants,” which works its way through several movements instrumentally, one led by the guitar, one led by the drums, gnashing and gnarling for a full five minutes before introducing a verse on vocals. This switch in compositional method comes at just the right time to throw off listeners, who might have a sense of knowing what to expect after “Devil’s Harvest” and “Chemical Fog,” which had their differences in tempo but essentially covered the same ground structurally. “Nameless Chants” is a harder read where it’s most needed, and the final slowdown serves as a crashing, crushing apex for the self-titled’s initial three cuts. With the linear listening experience of the CD, there’s no dip in momentum between that apex and the beginning of “From Boundless Heights,” the shortest track on Shallow Grave at just over five minutes – everything else tops eight, the opener 10 and the closer 15 – that continues the rush preceding and develops over its course into a furious churn topped by chaotic leads and screams that still manage to return to the song’s own march. Together, “From Boundless Heights” and “To Unfathomable Depths” account for the most distinctly post-metal section of the record, with the plod of the former leading straight into the gradually-arriving, lurching howl of the latter. Even here though – and for this I’ll give at least partial credit to the screamed vocals – Shallow Grave retain an identity of their own, keeping the atmosphere consistent with the rest of the album and the crushing sonics moving forward through loud/quiet tradeoffs.

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The House of Capricorn, In the Devil’s Days: Carrying the Lantern

Posted in Reviews on October 28th, 2011 by JJ Koczan

Like last their debut in last year’s Sign of the Cloven Hoof (review here), the second album from New Zealander doom foursome The House of Capricorn – titled In the Devil’s Days – is cumbersome. Surpassing that record’s 59 minutes with a full 72-plus, they stretch the limits of what the CD format will hold. Where the two efforts differ, however, is in what The House of Capricorn do with that time. The first album adhered far more strictly to a traditional doom aesthetic than does In the Devil’s Days (released via Swamps of One Tree Hill), which from its very beginnings in “All Hail to the Netherworld” couples cultish or semi-Satanic lyrical themes with a mid-to-late-‘90s Roadrunner Records influence (think Life of Agony and maybe even some groove-metal-era Machine Head, tonally) primarily showing up in the shades of Type O Negative green permeating that song and others like “To Carry the Lantern,” “Veils” and, to a lesser extent, the closing title cut. The House of Capricorn still get down with more genre-minded doom – 10-minute second track “Les Innocents” is almost a direct port of the progression behind Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” – but even that is filtered through a style more the band’s own than what came through on the first record (it’s irrelevant to note, but Type O Negative covered that Sabbath track as well on the first Nativity in Black tribute and redid the lyrics for their The Least Worst of Type O Negative compilation).

Perhaps expectedly, In the Devil’s Days finds its greatest triumphs in the stretches most unique to the band. There’s a Euro-doom drama blended into “Veils” and a Misfits punk bass line from Ami Holifield on “Coffins & Cloven Hooves” that create an expectation of diversity in the material that the band well lives up to. The third cut behind the morose march of “Les Innocents,” “Coffins & Cloven Hooves” especially changes the atmosphere of the album with its up-tempo groove and a guitar line from six-stringer Scott Blomfield in the verse that calls to mind Marilyn Manson’s take on “Sweet Dreams” while also echoing the faster pacing of the opener, which, by this time, feels a world away. It works because the band makes it their own, and because vocalist Marko Pavlovic has no interest in doing impersonations. His singing on these tracks follows suit with the music behind him in being more assured. Perhaps the most effective blend of the sounds overall, though, is on “Arcane Delve,” which takes the faster push – drummer Michael Rothwell’s snare is high in the mix, but his performance remains crisp and classy – of “Coffins & Cloven Hooves” and the memorable chorus to “All Hail to the Netherworld” and ties it directly to a slower-than-mid-tempo doomed stomp. It’s not nearly as bleak as “Les Innocents” or “Horns” still to come, but of the whole of In the Devil’s Days, it’s where the band seems most comfortable, even going to far as to bring in a slower Slayer-esque lead riff at about 4:45. The two-minute acoustic interlude “Canto IV” (actually V, if we’re going by Roman numerals) is quiet enough to pass unnoticed at low volumes, especially followed by the doomed sensibilities of “Veils.”

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The House of Capricorn Reside Under the Sign of the Southern Cross

Posted in Reviews on June 18th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

With one of the most beautiful cities in one of the world’s most beautiful regions as their backdrop, Auckland, New Zealand’s The House of Capricorn make their full-length debut with Sign of the Cloven Hoof (Swamps of One Tree Hill), and though it seems with the most superficial of readings – basically that of the names of the band, album and some of the tracks – that The House of Capricorn are simply going to be trotting out the doom clichés one at a time, the reality of the songs on Sign of the Cloven Hoof is far more intricate and individual. An old school single-guitar four-piece, The House of Capricorn offer pleasant surprises right off the bat, with able use of melody and a solid balance of influences.

My first impression on hearing Sign of the Cloven Hoof was, “Well, Trouble has made it to New Zealand,” but the truth is that The House of Capricorn have more going on than mere aping of traditional doom. Vocalist Marko Pavlovic has a balance of gruffness and singing in his voice that reminds me of Steve Brooks’ work in Floor, and though he strains at times on these songs, he nonetheless gets where he is going without any real trouble. The first two of the total 13 tracks on Sign of the Cloven Hoof pass relatively quickly, but it’s with “A Devilish Manifesto” that the album has its first real moment of impact, and his voice is a big part of what makes it hit so hard.

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