4.0

Hell Fire – Reckoning Review

Hell Fire – Reckoning Review

“I vividly remember writing the review for Hell Fire’s 2019 release Mania. I was sitting in a folding chair in my empty, about-to-be-sold house, passing the time while an HVAC person repaired my apparently damaged furnace. I sat there typing with my headphones on, letting the San Francisco band’s beautiful guitar harmonies and journeyman heavy/speed/thrash metal soothe my heart, a heart still aching from an unanticipated $2000 bill. I remember at the time thinking that I might be underrating Mania, wondering if the stress of moving wasn’t affecting my ability to be objective.” Hell bills coming due.

Toxik – Dis Morta Review

Toxik – Dis Morta Review

“Founded in 1985, New York thrashers Toxik released two albums before vanishing into obscurity. 1987’s World Circus (think Anthrax meets Sanctuary) and 1989’s Think This (think Cowboys-era Pantera meets Megadeth) have enjoyed cult-classic status ever since thanks to the band’s phenomenally technical playing, insane vocals, and bizarre songwriting. The band broke up in the early 90’s and briefly reformed in 2007 and again in 2013, and is ready to unleash Toxik’s first full-length in over twenty years.” Toxik thrashculinity.

Liminal Shroud – All Virtues Ablaze Review

Liminal Shroud – All Virtues Ablaze Review

“I was first alerted to the upcoming release of All Virtues Ablaze, the second full-length record from Canada’s Liminal Shroud, in a social media post by Hypnotic Dirge Records. That post brought excitement, as I loved the band’s debut record, Through the False Narrows, which was a proper, pitch-black soundtrack to my 2020 Autumn. Hypnotic Dirge’s post also, however, brought sadness, as, in a rather classy fashion, it was promoting the upcoming release of All Virtues Ablaze, even though Liminal Shroud had moved labels (to the very good Willowtip) because Hypnotic Dirge is winding down its operations.” Thresholds, shrouds and bittersweet endings.

Chat Pile – God’s Country Review

Chat Pile – God’s Country Review

“Hopelessness is both a universal and local phenomenon. It’s always the same handful of pressures that cause it; resource inaccessibility, environmental/health factors, power held by the unscrupulous, etc, but every place has its own particular aesthetic of hopelessness. Despondency in, say, Guangzhou, China will look, sound and feel different than it does in the American Midwest. Sludge/Noise band Chat Pile call their debut album God’s Country “Oklahoma’s specific brand of misery,” and indeed their name itself comes from the piles of toxic waste, left over from an unregulated lead and zinc extraction industry, poisoning towns in the Sooner State.” American nightmares.

Grima – Frostbitten Review

Grima – Frostbitten Review

“Finally, I have wrested reviewing rights for Russia’s Grima from the grips of the dastardly Cherd of Doom. Not, it should be noted, because he accepts that he underrated the masked duo’s last two albums but because he has other pressing deadlines. Underrate them he did though, in my opinion at least. 2019’s Will of the Primordial and the 2021 follow up, Rotten Garden, were both 4.0s if you ask me (not that Cherd did ask me). Atmospheric black metal powered by the icy winds of the tundra and the exhaled air of a bayan or accordion, Grima is very much my cup of vodka.” Roll out the blizzard barrel.

Ironflame – Where Madness Dwells Review

Ironflame – Where Madness Dwells Review

“About two and a half years ago, I covered Blood Red Victory, the third full-length album from Ironflame, and I nearly dropped the 4.0hammer™ on it. That record had some incredible traditional anthems on it, and the chorus of “Honor Bound” still runs through my head every so often—usually when I’m forced to deal with a commitment that I regret making. The Ohio-based Ironflame is the brainchild of one Andrew D’Cagna, an artist probably best known for his work as a drummer in blackened bands like Nechochwen and Obsequiae, but this project reveals that D’Cagna’s abilities cannot be contained to just one instrument or just one style of music. When I reviewed Blood Red Victory, I felt like D’Cagna was on the verge of true greatness, and I’m happy to report that follow-up Where Madness Dwells proves that, as usual, I was right.” Iron evens the score.

Esoctrilihum – Consecration of the Spiritüs Flesh Review

Esoctrilihum – Consecration of the Spiritüs Flesh Review

“I’m not convinced that Asthâghul—the mysterious figure behind avant-garde black/death project Esoctrilihum—is even human. This latest LP marks their seventh in only five years, following a slew of offerings each more complex and demented than the last. Whatever demons of inspiration are clamoring to channel themselves through these weird soundscapes, they show no signs of slowing down. It’s a cycle of such maddening inexorability, that former overseer of this prolific act, Cherd, has this time relinquished responsibility. It now falls to me to attempt to chronicle and demystify this year’s eccentric tale.” Hard work and insane thoughts.