Releases

Portal – Hagbulbia Review

Portal – Hagbulbia Review

“There are a number of cool things about Hagbulbia, but on my first listen, I figured the coolest was that Portal won’t ever have to make it again. By my fifth, I was convinced that they should. After two decades muddling death metal and noise, the release of thirty-eight minutes heavily skewed towards the latter is not just obvious; it’s almost required. As such, Hagbulbia is a burning distillation of Portal’s less musical humors, but the band have chosen a canny strategy for its release. As an unannounced companion to the more traditional Avow, it can be at worst a novelty rather than nuisance for fans, who may be far more receptive to the cocktail than a shot.” There may be cake.

Altarage – Succumb Review

Altarage – Succumb Review

“I’ll just come out and say it; I have no clue what is going on in this record. As The Guy Who Explains Why Shit Like This Is Good, that really puts me in a bind. As a result, I’ve spent weeks putting off this review. But hey, maybe we can try something new; instead of me telling you what’s the point of Succumb, how about you tell me. For once, I’m going to read your comments and entertain the idea that your opinions are as valid as those of my own self, The Guy Who Explains Why Shit Like This Is Good. Go wild down there.” Late hit.

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.

Dark Zodiak – Ophiuchus Review

Dark Zodiak – Ophiuchus Review

Dark Zodiak borrow bits of the chunky, militaristic rhythms of Sodom, the scratchy grooves of Kreator and the progressive wanderings of Metallica. The push into heavier death-thrash territory is almost entirely due to a grotesque performance from vocalist Simone Schwarz, who commands the record with guttural roars, dry rasps, sinister narration, and even the occasional pig squeal.” Sign stealing.

Ad Nauseam – Imperative Imperceptible Impulse Review

Ad Nauseam – Imperative Imperceptible Impulse Review

Ad Nauseam spilled into the avant-garde black/death metal scene in 2015 with Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est, a record that stood out for its audacity even among the most ambitious and experimental extreme metal records. Think Gorguts, think Baring Teeth, think Imperial Triumphant, and, yes, think Pyrrhon, but the Italian quartet are their own phenomenon.” Artisan sickness

Scarred – Scarred Review

Scarred – Scarred Review

“One of the more mystifying phenomena in the development in the metal scene is the emergence of “tech metal.” So far as I understand it, tech metal is a European scene and the bands therein are the aftermath of the total collapse in interest in djent in the rest of the world. Wisely, the Europeans rebranded, and even more wisely, they learned (though I believe “learnt” is also acceptable over there) to play something other than Meshuggah riffs. The results are… well, that’s the odd part.” Scar-core.

Glorious Depravity – Ageless Violence Review

Glorious Depravity – Ageless Violence Review

Ageless Violence is a death metal album. You know the deal. Glorious Depravity is the band. There are a bunch of guys in it, cool guys, some of whom are in some other good-to-killer bands that don’t play this style. It’s 2020, they’re doing old school death metal like everybody else because it’s fun. Nothing wrong with that. Plus, they’re quite good at it, and Ageless Violence is an undeniably tight, well-made record. The “but” awaits.

Skelethal – Unveiling the Threshold Review

Skelethal – Unveiling the Threshold Review

“Though a combative Al Kikuras rightfully panned the group’s debut, this sophomore record introduces a more fleshed-out Skelethal offering something beyond buzzsaw revivalism. After the departure of founding drummer/bassist Jon Whiplash, the band’s other half, Guillaume Zeller, pieced Skelethal back together at twice the size.” Bone collecting.

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.