This Month’s Mini Reviews – June 2016

This Month’s Mini Reviews – June 2016

Jul 08
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Heavy Metal Reviews for June 2016

 

Mini Metal Reviews for June ’16

 

Ever since starting the podcast for this site I haven’t really had much time for reviewing albums, which is completely contrary to the site’s name. In fact, I haven’t been able to sit down and review a single album so far this year. I will be getting back to full album reviews soon, but for the meantime I’ve decided to start a new monthly column for small heavy metal reviews, little bite-sized rundowns that I can put together in the time I have available and present it as sort of a rundown of the releases that grabbed my attention in the previous month. Here’s the first installment, so enjoy and crank the speakers if you haven’t already listened to any of these albums.
 

Space Witch – Arcanum

It’s always nice when the name of a band can tell you just about everything you need to know about their sound. It’s even better when that sound is as great as the spaced-out psychedelic doom that aptly-named Space Witch from the UK have delivered on their new album Arcanum, out through HeviSike Records. The songs sound like a giant celestial cyclops plodding through the milky way on a Jupiter-sized dose of LCD. Giant guitars, heavy low-end, punchy drums, and plenty of trippy samples and synths make this a great one to sit down and zone out with.

The basic formula doesn’t stray much from the self-titled album of a few years back, but there is a little bit more diversity across the record. For all the slower-than-tar progressions that make up the bulk of the songs, there are some legitamate head-banger riffs to be found throughout as well. Throw on an absolutely fantastic piece of artwork for the cover and we have a must-listen for lovers of doom and space-rock alike.

 

 

A Flourishing Scourge – A Flourishing Scourge

What happens when you have a band form within a city that not only has a rich history of progressive music but also a unique if not undersized and underrepresented black metal scene? You get Seattle’s A Flourishing Scourge and their newly-released self-titled debut album.

The music is a vicious blend of blackened death metal with a healthy amount of technical flair (without being wanky at all). And amongst the aggressiveness the band manages to tastefully inject moments of very effective ambience and hopefully melody, giving the songs an interesting and diverse dynamic. The intelligent song structuring and beautifully natural sounding production (a result of being recorded at Gojira’s brand-new Silver Cord studios) make this a must-listen release. Catch my interview with bassist Kevin Carbrey here.

 

 

Selcouth – Heart is the Star of Chaos

The most interesting releases are always the ones that completely eschew any sense of genre boundaries or conventions. And it’s no wonder that Selcouth’s debut is such an odd little beast considering the band itself is largely a conglomerate of musicians from several different countries, even spanning whole continents. The music is an avantgarde trip into a world of unique songwriting that seems to revel in eccentricity. To be clear though, Heart is the Star of Chaos is not an exercise in oddness for the sake of itself; the album has a clear (if not weird) vision, one that is executed cohesively throughout its runtime.

At times the songs can harken to the cosmic vibes of Hail Spirit Noir or even Oranssi Pazuzu and at others the retro-folk of Hexvessel. The quirkiness of the album doesn’t necessarily come from the range of influence itself though, rather it’s the way the songs completely marry those influences into a seamless palette. A well-connected hodgepodge, if you will. For something outside the box, give this one a listen.

 

 

Igorrr – Savage Sinusoid

Speaking of odd, how ‘bout that new Igorrr release? If ever there was a way to achieve a peak state of being brain-fucked while being totally entranced by the process, then it is this French group conducted by Gautier Serre. Savage Sinusoid is a schizoid clusterfuck of death metal, black metal, trip hop, neo-baroque, and breakcore with more than one nod to the great Fantômas (in spirit, at least, but certainly not sound). Throwing so many elements into a song structure at an often breakneck pace may sound like a jarring exercise in asininity, but there is certainly a method to this band’s madness. As proven by the aforementioned Mike Patton project of yesteryear, there is an artform in haphazard stream of consciousness; it’s the difference between a Jackson Pollock and me dropping an armful of paint cans. One looks good because there was an overarching vision driving the seemingly erratic spattering of gloss enamel, whereas the other looks like a wasted afternoon of floor mopping.

Igorrr certainly isn’t an adventure for everyone; only habitual music explorers with a history of damaged brain functions from too many hours of falling down ‘what can I listen to that’s crazier than this’ rabbit holes are likely to find any redeeming takeaways from listening to their catalog. But if you are the aurally audacious sort then you should definitely twist your mind around this one.

 

 

Mavradoxa – Lethean Lament

I’ve made my appreciation of this New York atmospheric black metal duo pretty obvious on the site recently; I’ve played a few tracks off the new album on recent podcast episodes (#’s 57 and 58), conducted an interview with band-leader Nival, and of course included them in the Hypnotic Dirge Records showcase a few weeks back. And for good reason too; the band and their new album are absolutely great. Taking a good-sized step forward from their debut last year, Lethean Lament builds on the expansive and atmosphere-drenched songwriting with emotionally captivating passages which are accentuated at times with added string instrumentation this time around and convey a definite sense of maturity over the last album. The songs are longform odes to the natural world, owing much to the Cascadian scene on the country’s opposite coast, and are thoroughly engrossing in the way they capture both the subtlety and majesty of that subject. Mavradoxa have really come into their own with this sophomore release and prove that the atmospheric and folk subsets of black metal still have room for new and unique voices.

 

 

Satanarchist – First Against the Wall

Another example of when a name can say it all. If seeing ‘Satanarchist’ conjured thoughts of blasphemic anarcho-punk-infused death metal then these Portland heathens chose their moniker well. First Against the Wall is a furious and venomous collection of blackened crust and death thrash that leaves no prisoners as it goes for the throat at every given moment. Vicious songs that fall somewhere between black and thrash metal pummel their way through the speakers at a breakneck pace, foregoing atmosphere for attitude and they’re all the more effective for it. With a decidedly punk mindset the no-nonsense songs come quick and hard, rarely passing the four minute mark.

If a solid neckbreaker is what you’re in the mood for, this thrasher is ripe for the picking. Throw in a blackened Townes Van Zandt cover and you’ve got a solid album of vile crust and death metal ready to rip faces and chug whiskey.

 

 

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