Tool

Famyne – II: The Ground Below Review

Famyne – II: The Ground Below Review

“U.K.-based “modern” doom act Famyne evaded my metal detector with their eponymous 2018 debut. I might have missed their sophomore outing too, had I not been desperate for some doom when skulking through the fetid promo sump on a dark and dreary night. Thus, I approached II: The Ground Below without context or expectation, and what I heard befuddled me for a good while.” Uncommon grounds.

Dälek – Precipice Review

Dälek – Precipice Review

Dälek is a duo from Newark, New Jersey, having quietly added to the late-90s burgeoning industrial rap scene with debut Negro Necro Nekros. Hip-hop courses through this crew’s veins, their compatriots the likes of Death Grips,clipping., and JPEGMAFIA, but metal’s battle jacket graces members MC Dälek and Mike Manteca’s shoulders.” Lethal futures in flimsy wrapping.

Meshuggah – Immutable Review

Meshuggah – Immutable Review

Meshuggah is often accused of failing to evolve or change. That accusation is misplaced. While it’s certainly true that their unique style means it requires just one guitar line from Fredrik Thordendal or a single snarl from Kidman to know it’s Meshuggah, exactly how they’ve deployed that has changed subtly from record to record. Immutable picks up where The Violent Sleep of Reason left off, feeling freer than Meshuggah‘s precise technicality has sounded in many a year.” Immutable, inflexible, inshuggahable.

Author & Punisher – Krüller Review

Author & Punisher – Krüller Review

Author and Punisher albums seem to alternate between anthemic and ambitious. Women & Children saw Tristan Shone’s transhumanist industrial drone-doom project spinning out singles with the force of a hundred pound steel drum, an approach echoed by 2018’s belligerent Beastland. But between them, the disturbing, experimental Melk en Honing took a slower, nastier pace, savoring the acrid stench of electrocuted machine-oil that the music produces. So does Krüller, Shone’s densest work yet.” Punishment and dystopian donuts.

Franklin Zoo – The Dandelion Child Review

Franklin Zoo – The Dandelion Child Review

“I know we’ve been harping about shitty band names a lot this year, but come on. Franklin Zoo? Why? Is your music about 6-year-olds getting their first biology lesson because two bonobos decided to get exhibitionistic? Do you have a tearful ballad saluting Harambe? Apparently not, since The Dandelion Child addresses the philosophic studies of Soren Kierkegaard.” Animal farming.

Alustrium – A Monument to Silence Review

Alustrium – A Monument to Silence Review

“Philadelphia’s progressive tech death architects Alustrium smashed out an album for the ages with their 2015 opus A Tunnel to Eden. The sophomore LP presented a kaleidoscopic, grand in scale masterwork of progressive and technical death metal, featuring serious instrumental and compositional chops, while possessing tons of heart and style. Despite being a little too bloated and ambitious for its own good, the pros far outweighed the miniscule cons to deliver a knockout punch. Punctuated by 2020’s strong Insurmountable EP, it has been a long time between drinks on the full-length recording front. Curiously slipping under the radar, Alustrium‘s third album, A Monument to Silence is now upon us.” Unquiet monuments.

Ophiuchi – Shibboleth Review

Ophiuchi – Shibboleth Review

“For one, I wouldn’t have guessed that the topics of the band’s doomy black nightmares revolved around Greek mythology. But they do. While the abduction of Persephone inspired Bifurcaria Bifurcata, this year’s Shibboleth is inspired by Homer’s Odyssey. If you’ve heard the music, you know it’s deeper than just a concept album. Like the music, the lyrics are waves on the ocean. Metamorphesizing in color and shape, gathering secrets as they move to shore—patiently waiting their turn to smash you into the rocks. It’s been four years, and I still don’t know Bifurcaria Bifurcata‘s secrets. And Shibboleth proves once again that Ophiuchi is as mysterious to me as it was in 2017.” Mysteries abound.

Wheel – Resident Human Review

Wheel – Resident Human Review

“Remember that unexpected wave of quality Tool-like albums that got released in short succession a few years ago? One of the more overlooked albums at the time was Moving Backwards, the excellent debut from British / Finnish proggers Wheel. With a dark take on the modern prog sound, slightly off-kilter riffs, heavy and engaging bass and drums and a smooth, expressive vocalist, the band did not disappoint after its excellent supporting appearance for Soen. With another platter exploring human nature landing in our laps, can the guys live up to the high standard they’ve set for themselves?” Wheels as tools.

Soen – Imperial CD Review

Soen – Imperial CD Review

AMG Himself and I come at Soen from slightly different directions. Our overlord fell in love with this band in spite of the overt Tool worship present on their initial releases, and felt that Ekelöf was their secret weapon, a vocalist of sublime talent. For AMG Himself, the band started off near the top of their game and have only gotten better over their first four albums. This writer, however, got on board with Soen because of their Tool worship (and the fantastic rhino artwork on Tellurian), and I felt what was holding the band back on their first three release was, in fact, the vocals.” Soen the seeds ov love.