2020

Faceless Burial – Speciation Review

Faceless Burial – Speciation Review

“Sometimes you know within seconds that an album is going to absolutely rule. I knew it when I heard the chimes in Desolate Endscape. I knew it when I heard the first riff of “Cognitive Sedation Butchery.” This time I knew it when I heard three notes – guitar, bass, and snare – and fell into a tetanic stupor, fists clenched in ecstasy, tongue projected out to the state line. Faceless Burial just made a modern classic in old school death metal.” Endangering species.

Soulrot – Victims of Spiritual Warfare Review

Soulrot – Victims of Spiritual Warfare Review

“By the time you’re an adult you’ve made many life choices and traveled many paths. Some you regret, some you embrace. Entombed‘s legendary Left Hand Path is one of my personal favorites, and 30 years after its release, the legacy of its singular sound lives on. Chile’s Soulrot are big fans of that particular path, and sophomore album Victims of Spiritual Warfare is a loving stroll down the well-trod byway now known as Swedeath.” Pathfinders.

Dystopia A.D. – Rise of the Merciless Review

Dystopia A.D. – Rise of the Merciless Review

“Preconceptions are fun, aren’t they? When I tell you Dystopia A.D. is a 2-man unsigned band from Jersey, or Joisey as it’s colloquially known, you’re already forming a picture in your head. If you’re like me, you’re probably expecting some sort of politically charged thrash, possibly of a crossover or core-related variety. Dystopia is, after all, a word that inherently defines a result of particular forms of governance, and Jersey is known primarily for blue collar thrash, Overkill of course its flag carrier. Combine that with the unsigned 2-man band and the picture seems complete. Except it’s utterly, utterly wrong.” Garden state fake.

High Spirits – Hard to Stop Review

High Spirits – Hard to Stop Review

Hard to Stop seems an apropos title for a new High Spirits platter, as founder and solo performer Chris Black (Dawnbringer, Professor Black, Aktor) cannot easily be dissuaded from his quest to fuse the hard rock playfulness of Thin Lizzy into a metal format. On album number four, he’s once again assembled a collection of high energy rockers built around simple but effective hooks and harmonies.” Never stop never stopping.

Blackballed – Elephant in the Room Review

Blackballed – Elephant in the Room Review

“Standing on my shelf next to other “non-metal” records, like Captain Beyond, Pink Floyd, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, Waylon Jennings, Blue Öyster Cult, and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, you’ll find albums from B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Joe Bonamassa, Robert Johnson, and John Lee Hooker. Am I trying to say I’m an expert in the field? Heavens, no. But this would explain my odd selection of (typically) straight-forward, go-nowhere blues/hard rock promos for review. And here’s yet another.” Blues balls.

Katalepsy – Terra Mortus Est Review

Katalepsy – Terra Mortus Est Review

“Ah, death metal, my old nemesis. This style and I have never quite seen eye to eye on things, which I think comes down to me not having an especially high tolerance for prolonged brutality. I like rhyme and reason, order, and all things calm and sane. So given that, you might wonder why I would read the words “Russian brutal death metal masters Katalepsy return with their devastating new record Terra Mortus Est” and think “sounds good to me!” Honestly, I would too.” Insanity and Terra.

Dkharmakhaoz – Proclamation ov the Black Suns Review

Dkharmakhaoz – Proclamation ov the Black Suns Review

“Industrial black metal has not boded well in 2020, with groups like American snoozers T.O.M.B. and Dutch painmongers Ulveblod earning some of the lowest ratings I’ve awarded during my tenure. Dkharmakhaoz‘s Proclamation ov the Black Suns, blessedly, is extremely well-written and densely punishing second-wave foray into atmospherics that never neglects its highlights.” Black sunshine.

Pale Horseman – For Dust Thou Art Review

Pale Horseman – For Dust Thou Art Review

Pale Horseman have only been around for eight years, but For Dust Thou Art is the Chicago sludge quartet’s fifth album and their 2017 effort, The Fourth Seal, showed enough promise that I kept their name on my radar. I’m a fan of the (rather typical) influences I could hear on that record – early Mastodon, Neurosis, High on Fire – and thought the band was onto something good despite the overly long compositions. I’ve been looking forward to hearing how they hone their craft for the past three years now, hoping to hear them set themselves apart from what can often be considered a very homogeneous genre.” All we are is sludge in the wind.

Unruly – Unruly Review

Unruly – Unruly Review

“Look, I’m not saying I judge books records by their covers but, come on, everyone likes nice artwork, right? When I’m plumbing the murkier depths of Bandcamp, a cool cover can lure me into that one extra purchase that I swore I wasn’t going to make. It’s just as well for Te Whanganui a Tara, Aotearoa (or Wellington, New Zealand) trio Unruly then, that I didn’t see the cover of their self-titled debut before I hauled it out of the promo pit.” Ugly is as Unruly does.