Time is Eternal in the Shadow Land

•July 9, 2014 • 4 Comments

Welcome to another Worm Gear update on the heels of a week off. Did you miss us? Like all of you, the summer is keeping us scribes pre-occupied and in demand in other areas of our lives. This doesn’t mean the fire is dwindling!!

Here are 4 reviews for all of you to ponder. As I sit here and listen to Lucifer’s Hammer I have to lament on the passage of time and how this music has evolved over the years. There is a lot of promising changes for certain, but as LH once again enchants me with ancient black doom, there is no denying the old feel that permeates in an atmosphere rarely felt in the newer generation of occult metal. Is it the curse of technology? Have musicians lost the muse? Or have we all just become so accustomed to the darkness that we can no longer feel the reheated flames of mysticism? Discuss friends. And let’s not allow the sharing of playlists to die….

Thanks for your time and dedication folks! -Marty

Marty Rytkonen – Playlist

Brutality – Screams of Anguish (such a good hammering of Floridian carnage!)
Bolzer – Soma (Wow!)
Panopticon – Roads to the North (Test Pressing) Passionate and genre expanding!
Agnostic Front – Victim in Pain (So much fury and well played crossover)
Cryptic Slaughter – Stream of Consciousness (I love this album. Even the production. Never could understand why people passed on this)
Sacrifice – Forward to Termination (An often overlooked thrash classic. Fuck the big 4!)
Obsequiae – Suspended in the Brum of Eos (On vinyl! A modern classic!)
Coldfells – S/T (Summoning on blackened doom steroids? Yes please!)
Lucifer’s Hammer – The Mists of Time MMXIV (FUCK!)
Sacrilegium – Sleeptime (cold and churning excellence!)

Bolzer – Soma

•July 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

bolzer_SomaEndlessly mystical and seemingly locked into a vein of expression completely their own, Switzerland’s Bolzer have taken death metal by storm. Aura is still being talked about, discovered and revered by those of us who search for darkness within art and the band is quick to follow up that MLP with another EP to keep our ears bent on worship and our souls yearning for the release of that elusive full-length which just can’t seem to drop fast enough.

Soma finds this innovative duo staying the course set aloft on Aura. The main difference is a less “cluttered” production this time out, though the songs are just as enchanting as the tones and nuances found on Aura. Bolzer’s sorcery is unlocked/enhanced/entranced by the 10 razor strings of a BC Rich Bich guitar and the manner in which vocalist KzR morphs open chords into searing harmonies at seemingly the same time. His playing style fills all the holes left behind by the lack additional musicians and instruments, with light defying darkness and a truly atypical riff style that claws up from the chamber very much alive. KzR is doing double and triple time, once again handling all the vocals and lyrical rituals while his desperate and burly death moans add even more of a unique flavor to Bolzer’s overall sound. His delivery feels like a force of nature, or even an entire wolf pack on the hunt with the urgency and projection of his screams that embody feelings of glory, suffering and even punishment. HzR’s drum performance is just as commanding as his rhythmic choices always fit the mood and intent of the guitar work seamlessly. There is a lot of confidence and pure fury in these beats and such a powerful sense of self in his playing, and in this band for that matter, further empowers the music of Bolzer and makes it the ruling entity that it is.

Even though there is no one riff between these 2 songs as world ending as the one found in Entranced by the Wolfshook, Bolzer are an inferno of deathly magic and with Soma, have further set their legacy in stone. The moon is full… Come… join in the hunt. -Marty
Invictus Productions

Empire Auriga – Ascending the Solar Throne

•July 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

empireLo-fi solar flares burn slow and reach out on Ascending the Solar Throne, the 2nd full-length effort by Michigan natives Empire Auriga. The lack of production values and dissonant note choices allows the sounds and style to congeal in an unashamed level of Xasthur appreciation, but Empire Auriga employ an underlying electronic aura in the form of caustic dark ambience to further infect their doom laden black metal crawl. The drum programing is a functional, slow plodding kick drum, (when there are drums at all) but is so enveloped in static ambience that the reality of it being merely a time/place holder really isn’t a bothersome factor. We’ve heard these sounds and style before, but the chilling depression that emits from the presentation of this music is unshakable and at times overbearing. This has always been the mission statement for Empire Auriga… unyielding depression in the frozen vacuum of space. Ascending the Solar Throne isn’t something you will reach for often, but if cult to the core blackness finds its way into your player on occasion, Empire Auriga are perfect for late night drones and sulking in a nebula of negative energy. -Marty
Moribund Records

Lucifer’s Hammer – The Mists of Time MMXIV

•July 9, 2014 • 1 Comment

lucifershammer-themistsoftimeBeing a Michigan native during metal’s formative years, I have attended the Michigan Death Fest organized by Sandy “Metal Mom” Newton as often as I could over the years. During this era I was able to witness Lucifer’s Hammer live on many occasions. They always made the fest line-ups because lead singer Todd was Sandy’s son. That aside… they DESERVED to be on the bill every time, for Lucifer’s Hammer were sadly an overlooked gem in the late 80′s/90′s US black/death metal underground. Their sets consisted of dense fog and some of the best blackened doom crafted the old way you have probably ever heard. I am admittedly late to cover this excellent reissue by Destro records because I have interviewed the band in the past and reviewed this very material when it came around the first time back when Worm Gear was a zine proper. As I hit play on something that I haven’t spun in several years, it all comes back to me. That vibrant conviction. Well placed and utilized keyboards. Plodding, though so perfectly constructed songs built on atmosphere. Lucifer’s Hammer was a band that you could tell practiced a lot and meant every note they played. Todd’s vocals on this recording are right out front in burnt black agony where his phlegmy delivery lends an aura of ritual sickness to this musical event. Even though this re-issue could have benefited as a 2CD compiling all of Lucifer’s Hammer’s music (There was also a full-length album to come after this one called Ghosts of Fall), Destro Records chose the better of the 2 albums to revitalize and further making this essential by including the fantastic The Burning Church demo as a bonus. With new artwork and a what seems like a thicker sound, this disc captures Lucifer’s Hammer’s most stirring material that feels just as timeless as the years it was created. Perhaps The Mists of Time MMXIV will finally give this band the due they fought so hard to achieve while they were still functioning. Excellent. -Marty
Destro Records

To my surprise…. this band remains so obscure that the only track to be found on youtube is from their The Burning Church Demo. So, we’ll post the link to Destro’s bandcamp…

Misery Index – The Killing Gods

•July 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

mnisery indexYet another band that enjoys a lengthy career/discography and I wander into their latest album like the lost and confused old guy at the mall. Perhaps such a vantage point is a good thing when reviewing a longstanding bands new music, for I can enter with no preconceived notions or thoughts of, “this will NEVER be as good as their demo” elitism that sadly does creep in from time to time and attempt to close my mind. It rhymes. Word.

13 years behind them and The Killing Gods is Misery Index’s 5th full-length album. Deathly potent grind is the platform for this material, but what instantly grabs me is the searing catchiness, or dare I say “traditional metal” influenced guitar harmonies? Yes. It’s all in there. The twin leads and undeniably memorable motion and notes in the riffs keep me going back with the desire to have these songs stick. And they do! Misery Index lays on the speed with precision and a feeling of life ending violence, but they are not slaves to the grind so to speak. Tracks like Conjuring the Cull are solely mid-paced and metal to the core with sophisticated leads and again… those powerful melodies that will remain long this album concludes. Mid-ranged, though discernible death vocals may center on a dimensionless intensity, but the lyrical placement is usually well-considered and the overall delivery simply fits perfectly. The vocals serve and important purpose effectively, but I found myself mainly concentrating on the music as it always felt more meaningful and endlessly intense in all the right ways.

The Killing Gods is a no bullshit type of album that will appeal to fans of bands like Nasum, Dying Fetus and Squash Bowels, though Misery Index maintain a far more diverse songwriting open-mindedness. Meaty and pristinely produced grind with true substance exploding from their metal core, Misery Index have unearthed a scorcher and though this is within a genre that I really need to be in the mood for, one cannot deny the quality at hand. -Marty
Season of Mist

No light escapes the shadow

•June 25, 2014 • 2 Comments

Here we are, past the mid-way point of 2014. It is alarming how quickly time goes. In spite of all the busy things going on in our worlds, Worm Gear is never too far from myself and Jim’s thoughts. We didn’t want to drop another barren week on all of you fine folks, so here we are, some last minute reviews to keep you guys satiated until we’re all able to re-emerge in full-force.

Thanks for reading and participating as always friends! Keep spreading the word and sharing what music has been doing it for you these past several weeks. Till next time, take care! -Marty

Marty Rytkonen Playist

Vallenfyre – Splinters (This album is MASSIVE on vinyl! Believe it!)

Morbus Chron – Sweven (I went into this doubtful, but I’m a believer. Really interesting music. Glad I bought the vinyl!)

Sacramentum – Far Away from the Sun (Another vinyl conquest. Such a classic and the poster is ace!)

The Ruins of Beverast – Blood Vaults (Another vinyl acquisition. I’ve been going nuts again!)

Brimstone Coven – S/T (Congrats to Andrew and the guys for their signing to Metal Blade!)

The Best of Metal Massacre

Vex – Memorious (On tour with Agalloch! The boys are destroying!)

Ahamkara – The Embers of the Stars

Emptiness – Nothing But the Whole (A pretty interesting and creative album. Closer investigation forthcoming)

Afflicted – Prodigal Son

Blood Red Fog – On Death’s Wings

•June 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment

blood red fogOne of the many cryptic and caustic black metal projects to arise from Finland during the 2000′s, Blood Red Fog have soldiered on through the years, producing 3 full-length albums and a myriad of split and EP releases to keep the name out there and to fill in the gaps. I have heard this band before and have always appreciated the traditional dissonant crust executed by them, even though the overall impact is largely unremarkable. Harsh and unforgiving black metal that hides behind a treble grated, lo-fi guitar tone and affinity for depressive minor notes/chords. Agonized vocals that range from your typical mid-ranged snarl, to more of an old Vikernes, crying orc scream of anguish are evenly paced and largely interesting in the way the lyrics are placed/performed over the wall of fuzz.

What has stayed my hand in hitting “stop” and hunting for something else to review, is regardless of the fact that Blood Red Fog still cling to their core formula and many of the elements previously mentioned, there is a noticeable jump in songwriting quality this time out. BRF still won’t boast pure creative innovation with their sound for On Death’s Wings, but the bands attention to creating riffs that are memorable and the way they are constructed within a structure makes me want to stick with this album and maybe even come back to it. The depression on hand somehow feels authentic even though there is a playful motion in tracks like As Lightning From Heaven with its memorable and simplistic nod to folk rock.

Has it always been this way? Have I skimmed over this bands past works during a time when I either wasn’t in the mood, or burnt out on Finnish bands general fascination with crust? Again, Blood Red Fog certainly are not re-inventing the wheel on this album, but the outcome is very catchy, making it easy to get into with only several listens invested. Does this bode well down the road for my enjoyment of this album? In all likelihood, it will fall through the cracks in time, but for now On Death’s Wings is an enjoyable listen. Fans of Goatmoon and the like take note. -Marty
Saturnal Records


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