Stuck in the Filter – September’s Angry Misses

September’s Filter is extra late. It’s extra late for a wide array of reasons, not the least of which involved this sponge working long hours several weeks on end, the looming threat of list season, and a flu scare. But I refuse to let my “colleagues” sit idly by and skimp out on getting my Filter cleaned out. So, I chased them all over the AMG campus until they submitted—or suffered. Luckily for my compatriots, September’s Filter wasn’t so jam-packed with gunk that there was much to find in the first place, but we still dug up a few good chunks of mutton from the grates.

Eat up!1

TheKenWord’s Charred Choices

Rotborn – On the Perspective of an Imminent Downfall

Brazilian newcomers Rotborn came to my attention thanks to someone on the Discord server, and Jørn knows I don’t remember who anymore. It doesn’t matter, because I’m taking all of the credit for this find. Debut slab of brutal deathgrind On the Perspective of an Imminent Downfall should immediately recall the vicious venom of Skam with the skin-flaying relentlessness of Depravity. With extra-potent hits like “Moral Grudge,” “F.U.B.A.R.,” “The Stench of a New Era to Come,” and immense closer “The Void Eater,” Rotborn deliver crushing tunes determined to level cities across the world. The biggest problem is the album’s brevity—an issue exacerbated by the band’s somewhat generic riff-craft in the less grindy songs. Its extra-tight twenty-seven minutes is about five to seven minutes too short for me, making this record feel somewhat incomplete. Regardless, this is a promising debut and I’m excited to hear how Rotborn progress from here.

Dark Divinity – Unholy Rapture

Hailing from Wellington, New Zealand, Dark Divinity have toiled in deep obscurity since 2017. I have heard literally nobody speak of this chunky bit of melodic death metal, save for the dozen people who bought their debut record, Unholy Rapture, on Bandcamp. This is weird to me, seeing as how Dark Divinity kind of kick ass, with standout tracks “Subterfuge,” “Blood on the Altar,” “Left for Dead,” and “The Nothing” gnashing against my brain with rows upon rows of sharp teeth. There are some moments that feel decidedly weaker than others (“The Seer,” “Cadavers”), but even accounting for that, Unholy Rapture is chock full of cool riffs, infectious grooves, and a wide variety of approaches to the style. With some tightening up of, and just a touch more depth in, their mid-paced songs, I see a bright future ahead for Dark Divinity.

Crispy Hooligan’s Hooch

Labyrinth of Stars – Spectrum Xenomorph

Spectrum Xenomorph’s entire package serves to evoke the cosmic horror of Alien, from the HR Giger inspired album cover to subtext laden song titles (“Star Pervertor”) and lyrics (“Dissolving into the Eternal Nothingness”). The Blood Incantation-but deathcore sound crams layers of Starspawn horror into concise 3 minute structures. Unfortunately the Blood Incantation-but deathcore comparison has its own Timewave Zero analogue. Spectrum Xenomorph‘s closer, “Transmission Delta – Exile,” is a 12:40 ambient track that constitutes nearly 40% of the entire album runtime and adds absolutely nothing. When you strip it out, are the seven remaining tracks still an LP? I want to lean yes, but the nigh-EP ness of Spectrum Xenomorph kicked it down my promo queue this month. Nonetheless, Labyrinth of Stars’ vibe is so of the season that Spectrum Xenomorph has been in daily rotation. The Germans’ distress signals from deep space have been received. Contact has been made. A follow-up transmission has been requested.

Steel Druhm’s Infected Incisors

Freedom HawkTake All You Can

Back in 2018 I was knocked over by the uber-cool stoner doom rock stylings of Virginia’s Freedom Hawk and their Beast Remains album. Its smart, slick combination of classic Sabbath groove and swagger and Kyuss-esque dessert rock was too easy to love and love it I did and still do. In fact, I underrated that opus and feel some shame. Fast forward 4 years and we get the follow-up, Take All You Can. I wanted to give it a proper review but time worked against me in a particular nutty month so here it is. It’s much the same as Beast Remains stylistically but perhaps a bit more open and mushroom-fueled. The tasty stoner rock anthems are there like “Age of the Idiot” and the groovy, spacey title track, and both hit the doom rock sweet spot with big staying power. The Sabbathian grooves are present on “We Need Rock N’ Roll” and the laid-back, lava lampy Kyuss vibe is found on “Seize the Day.” Then there are the straight-up ragers like the Queens of the Stone Age by way of Fireball Ministry “Never to Return” and the infectious, Thin Lizzy-meets Led Zeppelin guitar rock mania of “From the Inside Out” These guys know how to craft hooks that get deep in the skin and grow scar tissue and this is stoner rock at its most propulsive and catchy. Special note should be given to the righteous dream-rock of “Coming Home” and the wonderfully odd and hypnotic carnival weirdness on closer “Desert Song.” There’s so much great throwback 70s guitar work here and this thing is great for road trips and easy summer brew-sipping sessions. Get yourself a Freedom Hawk!

Stratovarius – Survive

After a 7-year hiatus, I had pretty much moved Stratovarius into the “Dead” category in my brain files. I was very wrong, as they’ve come roaring back with a swirling maelstrom of classic Euro-power called Survive and I’m quite impressed by it. The band sounds vital and reenergized, essentially picking up where they left off on 2015s Eternal but with the intensity dialed up a few clicks. The opening title track is a powerbomb and the classic Strato track. It could have appeared on golden-age platters like Destiny or Visions and it will rustle your jimmies with anthemic bombast and crunchy riffage. “Demand” and Frozen in Time” are more hammers for the power anvil, offering the classic Strato recipe full of hooks and guitar heroics. Even the relatively cheese-stuffed entries like “Firefly” and “Breakaway” work because the band is so adept at juggling the power and the puffery. Over their career, Stratovarius toyed with long-form compositions with mixed results, and mammoth closer “Voice of thunder” is one of the bigger successes they’ve had, managing to keep you strapped in and engaged over its 11-plus minute voyage. Throughout it all Timo Kotipelto’s voice sounds ageless and Matias Kupiainen carpet-bombs the listener with big, driving riffs and stunning solos. Rumors of Stratovarius’ demise have been greatly exaggerated and they show once more that they know how to Survive.

Inhuman Depravity – The Experimendead

Open a brutal death metal album with a sample from Re-Animator and you have me in your corner. Proceed to beat me into jelly for the following 34 minutes and you may never get rid of me. Istanbul-based Inhuman Depravity do both these things and much more over the course of their sophomore platter, The Experimendead. This is take-no-prisoners, done-fucking-around death metal with both fists in your teeth and it’s refreshing in its one-note brutality. With a sound akin to Cerebral Bore mixed with the nastiest of Cannibal Corpse, these folks come at you hard and offer no mercy. Songs like “Obsessed with the Mummified” and “Mescannibalismus” sound dopey as fook, but they’ll cut a bitch. This is the kind of album that feels like a relentless beatdown done by an industrial smashing machine. The tempo stays more or less the same and every shot hurts equally. No nuance, no experimentation, just the choice of violence over and over again. The guitar work isn’t flashy by the riffs have real hostility. The vocals by Lucy Ferra are impressively brutal and ugly. They lack variation but you won’t care much because of all the gloriously dumb pain. The Experimendead is not the best death album of the year but it is a brutal boot party worthy of attending. BYOB.

Show 1 footnote

  1. Do not consume any article removed from the Filter, mutton included. And why the fook is mutton in there? Who’s been eating over the goddamn Filter? I want names! I want asses! – Steel
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