Hardcore

Our Place of Worship Is Silence – Disavowed, and Left Hopeless Review

Our Place of Worship Is Silence – Disavowed, and Left Hopeless Review

“Don’t you hate it when people randomly come up to you and force you into happiness? You know, the types that just get in your face and tell you that “You’d be (prettier, handsomer, approachable, etc.) if you’d just smile more”? Because there are fewer things more unnerving and anger-inducing as toxic positivity, especially when we’re still a good couple of feet underwater when it comes to the pandemic, American politics, and the world continuously burning all around us. Californian duo Our Place of Worship Is Silence knows this, having thrown down just three years ago with With Inexorable Suffering, a promising album that combined the ugliness of sludge, the brutality of hardcore, and the murk of French black metal.” Worship the unsilent rage.

Rot Away – Nothing is Good Review

Rot Away – Nothing is Good Review

“It’s not controversial to say I miss shows. And while it seems there was a brief window where venues were opening back up, it looks like the next opportunity to catch an honest-to-god show won’t be until 2036, when each ticket comes with a complimentary hazmat suit. One thing that has increased my yearning for concerts over the past year and a half isn’t just the pandemic-induced down-tuned drought; it’s also reviewing bands that I know would be an absolute blast to catch live. Even if the score wasn’t particularly high, I can concede just how fun it would be to see that same band tear things up in person. Such is the case with Nothing is Good, the first album from Denmark-based metallic hardcore heathens Rot Away.” Aggressively rotting in a sick world.

Lower Automation – Lower Automation Review

Lower Automation – Lower Automation Review

“Noise-rock and mathcore haters need not listen to . The rest of you do. Lower Automation play a boisterous screamo-grind like you’d get from SeeYouSpaceCowboy boiling with hyperactive bass lines and pedal-board lust. What they excel at are antics: guitar parts that chirp at the very peak of the fretboard, stick-clicking percussion breaks, and bouts of sardonic wailing. If Daughters had gone through a severe Mr. Bungle binge when writing Canada Songs, Lower Automation would be a much less original record. But as it is, the Chicago three piece’s debut LP is one of the year’s most unpredictable and unique releases.” Full auto.

Leach – Lovely Light of Life Review

Leach – Lovely Light of Life Review

“In one of my very first reviews after being officially added to the Angry Metal Guy staff, my plan to preemptively punish myself with metalcore was foiled by my inability to not like metalcore. Well, “metalcore” may be a bit of a misleading label when it comes to Leach, because 2019’s Hymns for the Hollow found them employing a sound that reminded me a lot of the groovy melodic death/thrash style currently employed by their fellow Swedes in The Crown and The Haunted. That “core” label probably gets leveled at these guys because their songs tend to have more of a commercial tinge and because vocalist Markus Wikander uses hardcore shouts that can veer into “screamy” territory at times. Long story short: Hymns of the Hollow won me over with its simple-but-effective formula. But follow-up Lovely Light of Life is finding me two years older and two years wiser, and there’s no way I’ll fall for Leach‘s charms again. Right?” Love, hate, and metalcore.

The Plague – Within Death Review

The Plague – Within Death Review

“I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ve been spinning Black Breath‘s Sentenced to Life a lot recently. Maybe it was the epic face-kicking that I received from the recent Enforced release, but something made me seek out even more crossover bludgeonry by which to flagellate myself. Sentenced to Life saw the Seattle band blending crossover thrash with the rumbling HM-2 Swedish death metal of Entombed and Dismember, and the results were pretty glorious, earning the coveted 5.0 from my predecessor in unbridled optimism, Happy Metal Guy himself. Well, between this preparation and my recent Entombed kick following the passing of L.G. Petrov, I was primed to reach for the next buzzsaw promo I found. It sounds distasteful to say at a time like this, but bring on The Plague!” Get down with it.

The Armed – Ultrapop Review

The Armed – Ultrapop Review

Only Love was The Armed’s Vexovoid. For the sliver of readers who have heard both, that probably makes as much sense as it does to those who have heard neither. Vexovoid (the Portal album) was a push. Portal were driving their sound even further into clotted murk, draining that last drop of pus from the wound not with a syringe but with a vise. Vexovoid was crushed and suffocated by the band’s own attempt to solidify its sound, with the musicians resting their weight on an extremely thick and compressed production. In retrospect, that wasn’t a great idea; the record loses a lot of impact on repeated plays because the production is so dense. It becomes a massive pile of sound that obscures the band’s most interesting ideas. Now, maybe a sliver listeners get it. With Only Love, The Armed slammed their eclectic hardcore into synth-driven pop and told Kurt Ballou to make it sound like an absolute nightmare. He did. There you go. Blown-out ambitions, blown-out production: Vexovoid. Fresh popcore for all.

Horndal – Lake Drinker Review

Horndal – Lake Drinker Review

“Art always has a theme, even if that theme is not having a theme. Consciously or unconsciously, the theme informs the art, and never the twain shall be separated. But sometimes the thematic elements of a piece of art transcend their medium, taking on a life all their own and looming so large that it can be difficult for a critic to properly evaluate the piece. I’ve found this to be the case with Swedish band Horndal. Named for the small industrial town where some of its members were born and raised, Horndal is the sound of a town lamenting its own demise. Their debut album Remains told the story of the closing of the local steel mill and of the devastating and dehumanizing aftermath for the citizens of Horndal, and sophomore record Lake Drinker tackles the struggles created when tech monstrosity Google purchased huge tracts of land near the town in order to build massive server facilities.” Home is where the hurt is.

Enforced – Kill Grid Review

Enforced – Kill Grid Review

“Oh man, have I been excited to get my hands on this one. In 2019, I happened upon the promo for At the Walls, the debut record from Richmond, Virginia crossover thrash act Enforced. The album was a combination of previously-released demo and EP tracks with some newer material, and while this may have resulted in some minor consistency issues, that thing riffed hard, riffed often, and barely missed my 2019 year-end list. The thought of a follow-up record written in one, cohesive go was tantalizing, and my excitement only grew when I heard that Enforced was picked up by Century Media last year. But at the same time, when a raw, passionate band moves to a bigger label, I always get a bit nervous.” Dying on the grid.

Yer Metal is Olde: Corrosion of Conformity – Blind

Yer Metal is Olde: Corrosion of Conformity – Blind

BlindCorrosion of Conformity‘s third album, was an odd duckling for various reasons when it dropped in 1991. It remains the only album to not feature longtime bassist/vocalist Mike Dean in any capacity, but also the only album to feature his replacements, vocalist Karl Agell and bassist Phil Swisher. It also debuted guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, who only sang lead on the album’s hit single, “Vote With a Bullet.” Above all else, Blind saw the band at a crossroads of sorts, with one foot planted in the band’s seminal punk/hardcore history, while planting the other foot into Sabbath-drenched doom/sludge territory. The end result captured lightning in a bottle and today, Blind joins the ranks of the Hallowed and the Olde.” Blind but farseeing.