Again Shall be…

•March 25, 2015 • 1 Comment

It has been far too long. Seriously. It wasn’t until I sat down and began to write my first review in ages that I realized how much I missed Worm Gear. The interaction with all of you and being able to sit and singularly focus on someone’s piece of music. Though this is a smallish update, Jim and I are back in spirit and mind. So what inspired the hiatus? Burnout. Busy family life for both of us. And the fact that Bindrune Recordings has been picking up steam. Finally. Been working since 2000 to see this happen. You will never hear me bitch about that. I’m just going with it and we had to step away from WG to realize how much it meant to us. So yes, should we go silent again, do know that we will return at some point. This has been slogging on since 1995… how could we stay away?

One thing that was a bit overwhelming, is to realize the amount of releases that we missed out on spewing about while we were gone. so not all of these reviews will likely be current in moving forward. We will likely pick and choose to keep it interesting.

I can’t even wrap my head around what came out last year, although there was a lot of great stuff. Jim took the time to throw a list of favorites from 2014 and I may do the same at some point, but for now the year is a clouded mess in my head other than the stunning (in my perhaps not so humble opinion) music that we have released.

So for future plans… the whole thing. Massive amounts of reviews. Select interviews. Band discography retrospectives. Album streams. Perhaps some goest writers? Sure! We’re back. -Marty

Marty Rytkonen – Playlist

Ahamkara – The Embers of the Stars
The Sex Pistols – Flogging a Dead Horse
Monstrosity – Imperial Doom
Waldgefluster – Femundsmarka – Eine Reise in drei Kapiteln (Test press 2LP)
Alda – Passage (master)
Panopticon – Autumn Eternal Demos
Kjeld – Skym
Darkenhold – Castellum (My god this rules!)
Fall of the Leafe – Evanescent, Everfading

Jim’s Favorite Albums of 2014

Since it’s been too long in coming, I’ll spare everyone descriptions of these albums’ sounds and any attempt at putting them ‘in order’. Here are the 2014 albums that have had me take the most notice – enjoy:

Agalloch – The Serpent & The Sphere
Waldgeflüster – Meine Fesseln
Dead Congregation – Promulgation of the Fall
Mare Cognitum – Phobos Monolith
Woman Is the Earth – Depths
Panopticon – Roads to the North
Krieg – Transient
Falls of Rauros – Believe In No Coming Shore
Thou – Heathen Spectral Lore – III
Howls of Ebb – Vigils of the 3rd Eye
TrenchRot – Necronomic Warfare
Heavydeath – Demo I (Post Mortem in Aeternum Tenebrarum)
Ifing – Against this Weald
Skogen – I Döden
Nachtreich / Spectral Lore – The Quivering Lights

Darkenhold – Castellum

•March 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

darkenholdThe term “Castle Metal” is a relatively new one to me. The first time I ever heard it was from Tanner Anderson who half in jest described Obsequiae as being a Castle Metal band. We laughed. But it stuck. The thing is, opening up a clever new sub-genre for the sake of sticking bands that fit such a title into it’s descriptive dungeon is good for floundering “writers” like myself who are always eager to add something colorful to their metal vocabulary. Yes I know… needing to describe something with a tidy tag is lame and often cheapens the art so painfully toiled over by the musicians creating it, but for the sake of making my life easier, fuck it. Enter the French Quintet, Darkenhold. With a brooding castle adorning the cover of the very enjoyable Castellum, I feel very confident in dropping the Castle Metal bomb right here like a 13′ tall iron gate.

Having never heard this band before, the opening minutes of Castellum instantly enchanted me due to Darkenhold’s truly great overall atmosphere that harkens back to the early and exciting years of black metal. The band possesses the spirit of the genre perfectly and fill the 10 tracks on this album with endlessly memorable “medieval” scales that unfurl hooks that you simply cannot get away from. Add colorful synth work to accentuate these melodically charged riffs and you are indeed ushered away from this plane of existence back to the romantic dark ages where sword met shield and honor burned in the hearts of men… well those men who didn’t happen to die from the plague that is. There is that moment where I realized that in some way, Darkenhold had united the viking metal spirit of Bathory with For All Tid era Dimmu Borgir as the opening Bathory tribute riffs on “Glorious Horns” nodded to their influences with majesty and conviction. And that is fine with me! The lions share of Castellum is mid-paced which allows all the songs to develop and lope along within vibrant layers of melody. You can hear the bass lines perfectly and the synths add so much feeling to these songs. The vocalist maintains that higher register screaming style which suits this material perfectly and further points to the 90’s as main their era of influence.

Darkenhold nailed a style of black metal that I still hold dear and upon spinning this opus, one cannot deny Castellum multiple spins. The songwriting rings out as so mature and patient. These tracks really develop nicely and slowly, to eventually soar within a metallic majesty that has become their own style. Castellum are great. No joke. Castle fucking metal yourself into oblivion with this truly epic treat. -Marty
Those Opposed Records

Devilspit – Grim, Hateful, and Drunk

•March 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

DevilspitBlack metal punk continues to be well-explored in the modern era, but rarely has the style been fleshed outward enough to hold my interest long. Around comes Brittany, France’s Devilspit with a heavy enough dose of originality for me to keep my finger away from the virtual ‘stop’ button on the available stream of it’s second release (and first for Caligari Records), Grim, Hateful, and Drunk. While a linking vibe of necro-debauchery drips from each fetid track as its title implies, you will be pleasantly surprised by sole member Körpserizer’s inclusion of early ‘80s post-punk guitars and vocals (displayed prominently on opener ‘Dedicated to my Enemies (Prelude to Ignorance’) and that style’s accompanying solemnity, adding weight to the alcohol-infused delivery of grim guitars and mid-tempo drumwork. And in the midst of dark punk stompers like ‘A Tout Les Faux’, don’t be surprised to hear a somber, dark synth interlude with a reverb-laden, roving-medieval riff carrying out the latter portion of the song. Körpserizer just plays upon expectation well, for while you’ll hear the familiar three-chord beer-guzzle on ‘A.R.P.M.’, as the song nears its end, a melancholy melody-line rides over said riff, seguing into what sounds like bagpipes being played by a hammered-on-Springbank Scotsman. It’s as if Devilspit sonically tells honest during-and-after tales of over-indulgent nights spent in seedy metal/punk dives of choice: there will be Satanized-frivolity in the moment, but all shall be eclipsed afterward by the hellish hangover awaiting the next day.
The final two tracks, ‘’The Witching Stone’ and ‘Mon Caveau’, give themselves fully over to the eeriness hinted upon in earlier tracks, each driven by strange, reverb-drowned guitar-realizations that creep into the mind but have little in common with albums of the black metal punk ilk. And the resultant feeling that, taken on the whole, Grim, Hateful, and Drunk is indeed something uncommon will resonate well after the final sound you’ll hear on the album – namely, that of (fittingly enough) Mr. Körpserizer actually ‘devil’-spitting.

Caligari Records

House of Atreus – The Spear and the Ichor That Follows

•March 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

House of AtreusWhile (luckily) few stomach the “views” of Arghoslent, many in the extreme metal scene champion the actual music of the band itself, the band’s mostly mid-tempo galloping riffery finding its inexorably catchy way into misanthropic minds. Fans may have wondered what the accumulative impact of those West Virginians’ arrangements could have been if somehow extricated from their author’s hate-fueled lyrics, but ever since Minneapolis’ House of Atreus appeared in 2011 with their first demo, the answer has been available: yes, powerful, melodic war metal is quite capable of going beyond any influence or content, and can tread boldly into the realm of pure sonic bludgeoning well within its own right.
This is not to say that House of Atreus’ debut full-length The Spear and the Ichor That Follows, due out May 5th on Dark Descent, should be considered a simple rehash of the triplet-driven, harmonic battle cries of Arghoslent’s aural exploits, just with different words – no, House of Atreus’ metal Minnesotans incorporate their own chosen doses of melodic ‘80s thrash (perhaps a bit of Time Does Not Heal Dark Angel, Mind Wars Holy Terror, maybe even a little early Voivod) and death metal outside of the Arghoslent repertoire, even adding occasional light touches of black metal (especially Greek ungods Rotting Christ and Varathron) in their cauldron of darkness. Like their brothers-in-spirit Sacriphyx, HoA are unafraid to downpick with the need to instigate head-snapping blood lust in its listeners, or to indulge in a purely anthemic guitar solo whenever necessary. The militaristic and memorable death metal-bark cadence of Anxietous Nero (aka bassist/vocalist Dan Huddleston) relates tales of Greek tragedy, war, along with Shakespearean quotes, all in unflinching accompaniment to the menacing march of spear-thrusters like ‘Veiled in Dignities of Wrath’, a song conjuring an enraged riff-discipline Roman centurions of old could appreciate. The open-chord reverie of ‘Heir to the Crown of Sodom’ explodes into a barrage of palm-muted guitar mortar that will either convert or slay the haters upon first listen (and if you have any doubts about the ‘brutal-ness’ of Shakespeare, listen intently to the sample of ‘Titus Andronicus’ at song’s end, leading into ‘The Beasts of Antiquity’ – pure darkness). Aptly-named closer ‘The River Black’ machines the album’s only shrieking black metal-style lead vocal with a heart-stirring, arpeggio-shredding lead guitar into one of the band’s best tracks.
The Spear and the Ichor That Follows will surely polarize metal fans for different reasons; some for where the heart of its sound takes inspiration, others by the brazen melodicism of its song structures in comparison with other Dark Descent releases (aside from Crypt Sermon’s and the last Horrendous, of course). I care nothing for the inevitable, oncoming wave of discourse either way – Huddleston deftly dismissed it here
over a year ago – and instead urge you to give this early End of Year list contender a careful listen. -Jim

Dark Descent

Kjeld – Skym

•March 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

KjeldWith 1 lonely 2010 EP lurking in their back catalog, the Netherlands own Kjeld may not be stirring a prolific stew, but judging by the highly advanced songwriting and strong unification of ferocity and mid-90’s Scandinavian atmosphere, Skym is a mature and very striking release for this quintet. It is all about quality and not the quantity after all, and this band has delivered a searing full-length with depth and focus.

Even though Kjeld often lay the blasting hammer down, Skym benefits from excellent pacing in the speed department. The band knows when to ease off the attack to allow subtle synth textures to seep in along with a well placed and audible bass line and it gives the album a lot of character when they embrace a slower frostbitten groove. The riffwork is truly great, centering on those higher end chords that disorient with a strangely melodic dissonance for the aforementioned Scandinavian influence, but tracks like Us Grun break out of the mold with a plodding double bass march and hefty power chord riffs that inject a pleasing weight to their sound before erupting back into the memorable nature of their tremolo firestorm. Repeated listens really unlock the genius in these tracks, for each song holds onto a life all it’s own within the scaring framework of Kjeld’s hateful style. This feeling is further perpetuated by vocalist Skier’s unwavering and blistered screams. He doesn’t break character with his full on delivery and it somehow acts as a sensible contrast up against songs with so much feeling and movement as found on the hook laden track Bonifatius.

Skym has arrived and really appealed to my appreciation of the mid 90’s black metal aesthetic by way of endlessly memorable and superiorly crafted songs. There is an obvious passion and conviction detonating from this material and even in a sea of bands decades deep, Kjeld managed to rise to the surface and demand just as much attention from the listener as they themselves have put into the feeling and traditional spirit within this expertly sculpted album. -Marty
Hammerheart Records

Myrkur – Myrkur

•March 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

myrkurDuring the Worm Gear hiatus, there have been a lot of albums that have come and gone that at the time I had a lot of opinions about. Thankfully this one was still in the Relapse cue, so let’s see if I can dig back into those old frustrations and anger and rekindle this thought process…

There was a time in Worm Gear’s history where Relapse Records was closely involved with the print side of the zine. They sent out issues with all of their outgoing orders. They advertised. They NEVER tried to influence or censor our raw opinions. They cared and were eager to see it grow. For that, I will always be grateful, for those were indeed some really great times that won’t soon be forgotten. The bands and albums Relapse released back then were influential at times and largely really great. And also in those days, they said they would NEVER release a black metal album. I heard that time and again it seems. NEVER!! So for Relapse 2014 to get behind a “black metal” album, it’s gotta be something really special right? It’s gotta be! So I entered into the S/T Myrkur release ready for something fantastic, especially when bands like Ulver are dropped in the propaganda pages. What hit me was 7 songs of underdeveloped, barren and a just plain terrible attempt at 1 person in a pop band’s interpretation of black metal. This isn’t a “ladies shouldn’t be in BM” rant at all, for opinions like that are ridiculous. For me it’s all about good or bad and Myrkur’s songs are scattered and swirling around the bowl. There is one riff on this release that I like and it appears at the 1 min mark of Ma Du Braende I Helvede with it’s awkward and interesting flow and dirty sound. That was redeeming for a measure, then it was back into songs that really didn’t make any sense with a tone that was lacking distortion and overall feeling. The pitch singing in between tracks is competent for sure, but sounds like it belongs in a different band/style. Her grim vocals are processed in an attempt to make them sound more disturbed and they really are not much of a focus when looking at these songs as a whole. Nattens Barn for example is a disjointed mess from beginning to end. The structure is mostly linear where riffs start, play for a couple measures, end with an awkward transition, and go into another unrelated riff. The whole of this MCD is like this. Nothing concrete musically or structurally to hold onto. The whole thing just sounds like someone with some obvious guitar skills just can’t figure out how to write a real song containing interest, dynamics or feeling to save her ass.

In closing, I have read a lot of really favorable reviews for this release and have seen record collectors on youtube proudly showing off their vinyl copies. I gotta ask…. what the hell is the matter with all of you? You like this? There is no accounting for taste I know, but when the music presents itself like a half assed train wreck, one has to wonder what it is one sees in the result. Did Relapse sign Myrkur on its musical merit? Fuck I hope not. Did they sign Myrkur because it is the project of a woman? I don’t think so! Did they sign Myrkur because the person behind it is in a pop band evidently popular enough to mention in the bio info and is a famous model? Yes! That’s got to be it! And for that point, bypassing musical integrity and something creative in favor of a sound marketing plan, they should be ashamed! Thankfully Relapse, you have held to your promise and haven’t yet released a black metal record even though you think you have. Strike one. -Marty
Relapse Records

Unrest – Grindcore

•March 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment

UnrestThe title says it all really, but this burning power trio brings an old fashioned grind asswhooping to the table on this, their debut full-length. No demo. No warm-up EP. From obscurity to obliteration is what this album should have been called, but in spite of my apprehension, there is no denying the attention to detail found within.
With members found in the ranks of Woe, Trenchrot and Crypt Sermon filling the positions, Unrest are no strangers to the front lines, so I think this is why this material works so well in spite of the fact that the album is fashioned after the Nasum (and the like) formula. Offsetting vocalists handle the higher end screams and a deeper growl/shout in a predictable manner and get the job done, but really the standout for me is the music. From full on grind to punk tinged D-beat, Unrest craft 12 well considered songs that you probably have heard before, but the fact that the riffs are so damn catchy really shows that they know what they are doing putting this material together. Strange chord phrases and other interesting twists in the musical composition as on the track False Brotherhood and others, do hint at subtle black metal appreciation and this helps inject a welcomed feeling to seep into the songs other than the rip your fucking face off all the time, which I must admit these guys also handle perfectly well.

Unrest have all the grindcore genre defining characteristics covered on this album, but inject enough of their own spirit into the mix to make this set of songs go from pretty enjoyable to “damn good”. Grindcore certainly isn’t dethroning any classics when I want to be assaulted by this style, but I do like this debut effort and plan on putting it all up in my Ipods nefarious business. -Marty
Unspeakable Axe Records

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 79 other followers

%d bloggers like this: