Indefensible Positions: Dear Hollow Defends Controversy

God probably hates me. The Big Man Himself, the Most High, was like, “wow Dear Hollow, look at all those shitty albums you 4.0ed last year. Eat shit, loser.” And *record scratch* here we are. I guess we all got tired of actually good albums, so I’ve been blessed with an incurably bad taste this year – yeah I know, worse than usual.1 So take this post with a grain of salt, and maybe try a few of these buttery, greasy morsels. Or don’t, and trash my bad taste like popcorn in a darkened movie theater for me to clean up later. Trust me, the realization that I have constantly spammed the replay button on the abominations below hurts me more than it hurts you.

I’ve run the gamut for you bastards. This piece will be simultaneously too kvlt and too scene “4 U,” and you’ll come out of it feeling like you’ve been yoinked in all directions. Whether that’s from the genre whiplash or being literally drawn and quartered, maybe think twice about being executed like a hapless criminal in the colonial era before you cut down George Washington’s cherry tree, you fuckin’ walnut – you put the “L” in lumberjack. Prepare to throw up a little in your mouth, fall asleep, and cringe like you’ve never cringed before. So without any further ado, enjoy the music. Or noise. Or whatever. Shut up.2

ten56. // Downer, Pt. 2 [Out of Line Music]

I heard this described as “deathcore Korn,” so I’m just gonna roll with the “deathKorn” vibe. Look, it’s nu-metal plus deathcore, which is like 80% of what your olde-man metalheads hate about music today and what 60% of society thinks is corrupting the youths… part 2. Former Betraying the Martyrs vocalist Aaron Matts turns his snapback backwards for ten56., a fusion of crushing breakdowns, beastly vocals, and hip-hop. I know, you’ve thrown up in your mouth reading that but hear me out. Are there breakdowns? Yup. Are they abused to high heaven? Uh, yeah. Is the excessive manly brutality on full display? Oh yeah. Is there godawful rapping? …uh-huh. Has this been on repeat in Hollowshire since it came out? Also a resounding yes. But is it too long? No! While the second half admittedly begins to run together with tracks like “Masque” and “Ender,” “Traumadoll” and “Yenta” are unashamed nu-metal insanity, while the smooth and beat-heavy hip-hop cut “RLS” is the definition of guilty pleasure. Unashamed deathKorn for an ashamed Hollow. C’mon, Matts’ vocals and juicy breakdowns just hit different.

Songs to Throw Your Snapback on to: “Yenta,” “Traumadoll,” and “RLS”

Eyes of Ghost // The Black Astral Travel [Self-Released]

Look, I get it. Atmoblack is already a controversially bland topic, and symphonic black metal is monopolized by the Cradle of Filths and Dimmu Borgirs of the world. So one Italian was like, “let’s make atmoblack with symphonic black.” Toss in a potentially insufferable and melodramatic blend of gothic and depressive sensibilities, piano-driven drivel, and, oh, ridiculously deep growls – and The Black Astral Travel is a collision of confusion in the best way. Armed with cavernous roars and thunderous percussion, Eyes of Ghost ends up feeling like melodic death/doom a la Novembers Doom or Swallow the Sun fed through the symphonic atmoblack metal shredder like Steve Buscemi in Fargo. Majesty and frailty collide without knowing why and gentleness and fury coexist in truly unique form. Truly beautiful moments sprawl with a nearly post-rock serenity while frightful choirs, raw black riffs, chugging leads, and blastbeats are upheaved by earth-shaking growls. The Black Astral Travel is weird as shit, an imbalanced, beautiful, and imperfect atmospheric/symphonic raw black/death metal album, but Eyes of Ghost proves there’s nothing like it out there.

Songs to Contemplate Vampires and Nature to (??): “The One Who is Without Reflection in the Mirror,” “The Last Flame of Prometheus,” and “Il Canto del Cigno”

Crawl // Damned [Profound Lore Records]

A compilation of “worst-ofs but actually sorta greats” wouldn’t be complete without drone. And who better than a guitar-less, literal one-man band of Boris live musician Mike Engle, who plays everything at once to make Damned? Four tracks of blackened dungeon synth forced to a breaking point, with doom percussion and dark ambiance, greet the ears with tar-black horror. Crawl aptly lurches from passage to passage in a cancerous sprawl, dividing the assault between ominous synth-led passages and bass riffs of crackling overdrive. Damned assumes the aesthetics of Locrian or Nadja, asking “wait is this metal or ambient?” in ways that complicate Moëvöt’s vibe. But if you’re into drone, synth-heavy metal, black metal, or simply the auditory experience of drowning in tar, Crawl has got you. Guided by Engle’s tortured shrieks and haunted cleans, “10,000 Polehammers” lives up to its name in megaton weight alongside its more energetic tempo, while “Poisoned and Shadowed” weaponizes drone girth with dark ambient depth, and the soundscape of “Renaissance of Worthlessness” balances the razor’s edge between synth and drone. It’s blackened drone/dungeon synth – wake up and smell the joe! Or don’t.

Songs to Fall Asleep Hulk-Smash in Slow Motion to: “10,000 Polehammers” and “…This Lesser Form”

Shrezzers // Sex & Sax [Gentlepunks, Inc.]

I think I’m broken. First of all, Peruvian/Russian group Shrezzers began as Shredding Brazzers (later going with the portmanteau for copyright reasons), if that’s any clue to the sleaze that seeps through Sex & Sax – as if the cover and title weren’t enough. But seriously, you need to hear this shit. It’s everything you hate to love and love to hate: crispy djent, wild guitar licks, sleazy R&B-inspired vocals, and goddamn tasty, fuckin’ bonkers saxophone solos. Vocalist Diego Malaga recalls Emarosa’s Jonny Craig, the Warped Tour-inspired post-hardcore cleans injected with a soulful tone, adding a jazzy vibe to Sex & Sax. In line of blatant error, “Temperatura” adopts the Latin rhythms for the booty jam of the century, the feature of CJ McMahon from Thy Art is Murder in “UVB-76” is a WTF-but-kinda-vibin’ moment, and the confused raps of “PVRNHVB” and “Jealousy” are about as “oh god make it stop” as you’d expect. However, the streamlined middle is catchy, technical, and probably the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off. I am so utterly confused and enamored by Sex & Sax, and you should be too.

Songs to Clear Your Internet History to: “23,” “Libertad,” and “p7ay3rS”

Theatruum // Triumphs [Xenoglossy Productions]

Look, I get it. Hell, Cherd of Doom gets it. Is there a point at which raw black metal becomes too raw? Yes. But Italian duo Theatruum says jump and asks how high. What can I say? La dolce vita. Triumphs is so raw it’s noise; there’s no two ways about it. But amid the ear-abuse is a contemplative ambient specter that makes me return to it again and again, channeling more the gentle Upir than the ear-raping Wold. In intriguing fashion that recalls the acoustic/industrial fusion of Giles Corey, Triumphs is an anachronism: channeling the archaic in 17th-century painter Giambattista Tiepolo’s work while its rawness that borders modern industrial noise. You will feel deeply uncomfortable with the droning hum and howling insanity but also intrigued by the ghostly figures that emerge and disappear from the darkness, the howls and the gutturals resisting the impenetrable march of murmurs. Equally beneficial in soundscapes and background noise as well as studiously examining the dimensions of this hellhole, Triumphs is a triumph. Or, you know, just noise.

Songs to lament industrialized society while appreciating 17th-century art to: “Scourge of the Serpents,” “Death of the Hyacinth,” and “The Flight Into Egypt”

See You Next Tuesday // Distractions [Good Fight Music]

A lesson from the masters. To the uninitiated to – ahem – CUNT, this Michigan quartet lives in infamy, fusing mathcore insanity with grind intensity and deathcore meatheadedness. 2023’s Distractions is the act’s first album in fifteen years, since 2008’s mixed Intervals. Certainly not a bad album by any means thanks to its balanced attack, Distractions’ and See You Next Tuesday’s reception is often marred by its influences. While the fusion sounds about as subtle as a Car Bomb or as restrained as The Callous Daoboys and the fifteen-year dormancy lends itself to an absolute apeshit performance of Converge– or Dillinger-esque proportions, CUNT is a slow burn this time around. Only indulging in the mathy “screee” and scrappy rhythms in blasters like “The Happy Madness,” “Call Me Irresponsible,” and “Glad to Be Unhappy,” and dragging its deathcore knuckles across “Hey Look, No Crying” and “I’ll Never Be the Same,” CUNT’s whole dwells neatly in menacing midtempo plods that give further emphasis to the blasting grind. Recalling last year’s Dr. Acula, it’s a cumback comeback record of restraint and tastefulness, exemplified by the haunting seven-minute closer “Strange Music,” which almost assumes an Amenra-gone-core vibe. This may not be a “guilty pleasure” thing after all, so have at it.

Songs to have a seizure in the mosh pit to: “Why Can’t You Behave,” “Hey Look, No Crying,” “Strange Music”

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Lookin’ at you, Discord bastards.
  2. But before you do, let me know if you want more of this kinda shit.
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