Wednesday, February 2, 2011

0100 The year 2010 through a Cephalochromoscope (Part 4/4)


/winning a sludge contest is like - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[making funny faces to adults / the ass-
holes might not appreciate your work]

Thou - Summit [posted]
Madly prolific, inimitable, apocalyptically hopeful Louisiana sludge. Summit may not be as heavily catchy as Tyrant, but I'd rather focus on how awesome it still is. Coupled with the lyrics, Thou's sludge might sound like ruby red lava creeping down bleak NOLA streets, cleansing the city of cop, dope, and man all-together; crystal clear progressions erupt into waves of distortion, sprout into monolithic trees spreading rich, emerald green branches - life - stubbornly rooted into asphalt, growing all the same. If I imagined a polar opposite to Thou, I'd think of Orgone, Pittsburgh's masters of tech-death - the latter fast, the first one slow - 'cause both bands let their music flow without elitist restrictions, naturally like blood, sweat, spit, cum, piss. How is it that these bands, showcasing remarkable sophistication in composition and lyricism, manage to bring forth such heartfelt, even raw sound? [Pretty sure I got into Thou thanks to Alex - thanks, man!]

The Body - All the Waters of the Earth will Turn to Blood
The Body is a band that goes a bit beyond, or simply avoids, writing catchy riffs, hooks, clichés in general. Except for crushing heaviness - they're fine with that. Opening with a downright heavenly, alleviating female choir build-up, made all the more eerie by the background crackle, the moment that the actual (two man) band kicks in sounds something like the apocalypse. Saw a live video somewhere; drummer Lee determinately smacking huge crashes, guitarist / singer Chip wailing into the microphone like a banshee, sticking his tongue out for added effect. The Body's concrete discord evoked in me an uneasy feeling of abandonment that I perceived as both beautiful and grotesque; shit, I even felt like watching the End of Evangelion again (what, four years already gone?). Big thanks to Nigel for introducing me to this one.

Harvey Milk - A Small Turn of Human Kindness
Taking their name from the first openly homosexual dude to be elected to Californian public office (whom Dan White assassinate back in 1978, along with San Francisco's mayor, George Moscone), Harvey Milk are certainly one of the least subtle bands that I ever heard. Each time I put them on I find myself freshly eager and patient to get crushed by some of the saddest, lowest, most depressive music without an ounce of cheap, pathetic melody to paint their sorrow with (similar to the Body in this regard). "Rich" is the last word I’d use when describing their sound, ‘cause it’s a crippled, painfully naked thing, like an elephant without its trunk, with the vast and blunt qualities of an earthquake. "But I, just me alone, by myself got up and left, yes, I alone got up and left the fire to check it out. I just seen the saddest thing I ever saw."

Bastard Noise - A Culture of Monsters
Smoke volcanic dope, love everyone, etc.? All great advice. On first listen it may seem like this weird new Bastard Noise simplified, even dumbed down the otherworldly, pure filth bass-framework set down by Man is the Bastard (the first being but a side project of the second, originally), but for fuck's sake, A Culture of Monsters recreated jazz in a powerviolent manner, the album being a clear testament to / masterwork of Man is the Bastard-born powerviolence extravaganza, including their image, the symbolism of the cover art, the song titles (Me and Hitler?) and such. Sure, it's all hardcore punk, and this may sound weird but, looking back, 2010 seems like one of the sweetest years for powerviolence as music, regarding its specific, unique sound and potential, since the year that Jesus died, following two releases included:

The Endless Blockade - Splits with Bastard Noise (The Red List), Unearthly Trance
The Endless Blockade doesn't have much to do with the cult of G.I.S.M. other than the band name. These jesters don't care much about the modern definition of powerviolence yet play what might be called its essence (despite ten to fifteen minutes long tracks on these splits), sounding something like a mix between Infest and Man is the Bastard, heavy on the sludge with pronounced tempo & noise acrobatics. Sadly, 2010 is also the year that the band claimed its own death, so let's put on that Noah Crecshevsky remix and weep. While you've got a relevant description of Bastard Noise above, Unearthly Trance ought to be a well established name in sludge by now considering all their splits (Minsk, Ramesses, Aldebaran, Suma), notwithstanding the massive, blackened atmosphere. (Speaking of Suma, saw them play a few years ago with one of my favorite sludge bands ever, brothers to Corrupted, Birushanah -)

Birushanah, Drain the Sky - Split [posted]
Birushanah is a folk sludge band if there ever was one. Also just about the fastest sludge band ever. Still, nobody in their right mind could call them anything other than just that - sludge. There's something frightening about the Japanese and their tradition, starting with the Emperor's noble samurai (see their code of conduct, Bushidō), declining inversely in parallel to industrialization, inevitably left on the backs of a few, just as "noble" madmen like Yukio Mishima (see his 1960 short story, Patriotism + the story of his life and suicide), but it goes on to this day, this (now) paradoxical devotion and excellence in art and cultural things in-general. Steeped in Japanese traditional music (most of all, rhythm), Birushanah provide but one song, Anagura, on first listen not insanely complex like their earlier works, but ultimately their most epic, exhilarating chapter in eighteen and a half minutes of a great catastrophe composed (relevantly, I wonder when Corrupted’s coming back?). Even if you don't care about extreme music or whatever, Sougyo's playing ought to fascinate any the slightest bit interesting bass player. The other half of the release pertains to Drain the Sky, a band hailing from the States, delivering four speedy, emotionally loaded, hardcore punk-born (e.g. His Hero Is Gone) post-sludge songs (refuse to use the brand of neocrust, although others might) without the build-up-inducing intensity of Osakan folk sludge, even much less atmospherically enthralling, although exactly atmosphere is what they seem to aim for very often, but take what I say with a grain of salt ‘cause I’m certainly biased toward Birushanah’s indisputable superiority over most of contemporary extreme music (based on composition, at least / yes, riffs). The split's a joy to listen to any way I choose to put it.

Dad They Broke Me - Rot EP
Ever since I heard the crushing nugget of gold that is their debut EP, Lack, I’ve been eagerly awaiting anything new, anything at all. Was supposed to find Rot in my mailbox ages ago, too, but that never happened (courtesy of the Croatian Post, probably). Anyway, for those who’ve never heard Dad They Broke Me - they took their name from a Pavement song’s lyrics and they play shamelessly destructive sludge, as noisy and as slow / fast as they like to, but it’s most definitely sludge at all times, even when it’s over a blastbeat. And what else could you expect from a song titled "Swine Filth Hate God", for example? In order to please my laziness, I’ll end this with a simple statement about how Dad They Broke Me is one of the most underrated bands of today, so take note as this is their last ever release ‘cause the drummer is moving to Japan! Fuck.

/avant-garde, why so slow? - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[I mean the tempo / I mean, I miss Ruins (JPN),
Keiji Haino, and the rest of the psychiatric ward]

Ehnahre - Taming the Cannibals & Kayo Dot - Coyote / Stained Glass EP
[Decided for a combined sort of thing.]
Whereas Toby Drivers seems to have pulled Kayo Dot together into a harder, that is, less spastic form reminiscing of maudlin of the Well, Ehnahre, a band I fell in love with on first listen of their debut, The Man Closing up, sharing most of (what might be called) its key members with Kayo Dot, seems to have gone the exact opposite way (toward earlier Kayo Dot-type stuff, even). Driver's band (and work in-general) could be called dreamy (the usual continuation of his "music heard in dreams put to conscious use" approach, if we could call it that), and, sure, even unnerving at times ("Help me, I'm disappearing!"? that's one simple, matter-of-fact howl, sounding perfectly uncomfortable), but Ehnahre is a downright horrifying experiment in dark atmosphere, like stumbling down a filthy, pitch black hallway, searching for yourself, finding only an elephantine worm, manically convulsing on the floor, pale and dripping, eating away at itself... "Silvery, a childlike skeleton smashes on bleak wall." What both bands use excellently are time signatures deconstructed to the point of everything just left droning, or even silent, with their collective middle finger generally raised toward the classic, riff-enthusiastic metal crowd. Some review vaguely described Ehnahre as diSEMBOWELMENT / Gorguts, and that's alright with me!

/manowar wannabes - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[not wearing tigths is not fooling anyone]

Lair of the Minotaur - Evil Power
The Great Destroyer was a fat, crushing slab of chug. Their sludgy tendencies minimalized, you get Evil Power - a bunch of nicely produced, average metal riffs. A split with 3 Inches of Blood is the next logical step. This power ain't evil, it's just kistchy.

High on Fire - Snakes for the Divine
Same shit as above. High on Fire is kickass rock'n'roll, though, but my problem with them has always been the songs dragging on for much too long, and I'm supposed to suffer through all these long, annoying solos now as well.

The Lord Weird Slought Feg - The Animals Spirits
Not really slow, but I like referring to that Manowar part. I've been somewhat of a fan since I heard Down Among the Deadmen during some of those early highschool years. What's there not to like in heavy metal this fun? Instead of classic and annoying heavy / power metal clichés, Slough Feg go from Celtic folklore to trashy sci-fi operas, the first of which the following band still clings to:

Mael Mórdha - Manannán
About the whole epic doom thing, these lads never disappoint. With Ó Bogail yelling as resolutely as ever, the rest of the band abandoned some of that trademark melancholia (e.g. no more sad piano) seemingly as inherent to Irish metal (similar case with Primordial) as tasteless swords, suits of armor and angry old dragons are to Italian power metal, all of a sudden they make me wanna light a forty pound torch to beat policemen with. Manannán mac Lir seems like a solid guy, too.

/noisy boner for the stoner - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[a hundred blunts in, vulgarity keep-
s me sane! just kidding; i.e. I wish...]

Kylesa - Spiral Shadow
No objective reason for me to enjoy Kylesa's "prog-sludge" wankery more than any other sludge band's sloppy underperformance. It's still all about the riff and shit so what am I even talking about? "They're a pretty cool band, but I don't really find them interesting enough to follow their growth as a band," and similar ass-sentences. On the other hand, it's awesome that they don't care about set genres and all, 'cause they do sound like they're having fun. I've only joy after tracks like Hollow Severer, but hey, wrong album. Instead, Spiral Shadow provided me with psychedelic, mid-tempo grunge-reminiscing stuff that one might mistake for a Foo Fighters cover, as is the case with "Don't Look Back". For that sort of stuff, I'm still sticking with:

Torche - Songs for Singles (EP or whatever)
Cool stuff, Torche. I mean, if I ever grow tired of their catchy as hell brand of greasy stoner pop, I can always recede to Dove, Floor, Cavity, and such. Torche's cool, I say again. It's like the hyperactivelly grinning Melvins finally penetrated the walls of downtuned misanthropia, leaving behind the occultist Sabbath worshiping cross-hanging and hellish narcomania. Here's to surfing on one colossal, slow wave with beer in one hand, blunt in the other.

Melvins - The Bride Screamed Murder
Speaking of the Melvins, they're not stopping either. The opening track, The Water Glass, starts out with a heavy, dropping riff; turns out to be a rhythmically uplifting end of the decade sing-a-long à la 60s garage rock / the US army footsoldier department marching, yelling. Continuing with track two, Evil New War God, whereupon I found myself killed by riffs. Ladies and gentlemen - the goddamn Melvins.

Melvins, Isis - Split
Melvins-wise, not that much to hear here 'cause their tracks are but alternative versions of tracks 3 & 4 off The Bride Screamed Murder (Pig House, I'll Finish You Off). As for Isis, these are probably the last tracks of the band that we'll get to hear. Ever. Musically, they're on the level of Wavering Radiant's (not that) vague hints of prog-rock, with sweet, bubbly bass, heavy and flowin', a sound that nobody could mistake for any other band. But just like that, Isis is dead, so I'm glad I got to see them play once, even though the setlist didn't include The Beginning and the End (!?).

Fight Amp, Kowloon Walled City, Ladder Devils - Split
Some bands just want to watch the world enveloped in heavy, low, love, uh, I mean, noise, noise rock. Starting with Fight Amp, probably the most Unsane of the lot; continuing with Kowloon Walled City, too-heavy-for-its-own-good sludge with a noise rock backbone, whose free-for-download 2008 debut EP I "reviewed" after Evans kindly sent me the thing; ending with Ladder Devils, a four-piece enriching this whole ménage à trois with their punkish - rather than strictly heavy - approach. Nice!

/too slow for school - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[what's the opposite of supercollider? some-
thing akin to a turd slipping down the bowl]

Electric Wizard - Black Masses
Enough reviews, essays on this one and why it sucks. In reality, it's not bad at all, but the bias must be taken for granted considering Dopethrone. Black Masses is nowhere near. So what? I kinda dislike the sound of the drums, but I've no objections otherwise. The album's title speaks truthfully of its sound, each track being a black, fairly primitive ritual in itself - the atmosphere reminded me of Black Widow, and that's most definitely nice (occultist UK prog-rock / check out "Sacrifice", released 1970), and maybe completely inane, too.

Salome - Terminal
From the lyrics to the sound, everything about Salome is crushingly bleak. Terminal is "stoner" sludge stripped to its very core, an exercise in massive minimalism, the meaning of "less is more" defined very strangely in consideration of the genre - doom metal - by the exclusion of the bass guitar. Simplistic, concrete groove drumming, a guitar downtuned to fucking oblivion, and polarized growling & screeching recalling both Runhild (of Thorr’s Hammer-) and a bit of Edgy (-of Burning Witch, respectively), the vocalist being Kat, who also yelled on Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s 2009 effort, the very overrated Agoraphocalypse.

Bongripper - Satan Worshiping Doom
Bongripper are the stoned masters of the jam without a care in the world for anything other than the riff. Four tracks, fifty three minutes of post-Sleep sludge that might've been just as well pre-Sleep, devoid of vocals, devoid of Jesus.

Cough - Ritual Abuse
Some people believe that their true calling lies in tuning deep, deep down and attempting to invoke riffs directly from Satan, but what they usually get is the merry Ozzy Osbourne Orchestra, i.e. a Burning of a Witch luckily degenerated to the point of excellent sludge. This is what happened on Cough's Ritual Abuse, a damn slow Year in Suffering spent riding down the Crooked Spine of a Crippled Wizard (that is, a madman's Collapsed Mind, as there are no gods, no wizards, no witches, no Harry Potter, Hogwarts, and so on).

Fistula - Goat
Goat is no nonsense filth, a gallon of bleach, a horrendous mass of rotting meat lumbering through presumably America, occasionally collapsing into a barrel roll in honor of rock'n'roll as devised by Black Sabbath. But to be honest, it's barely recognizable. From the bandname to the music, I am utterly disgusted with Fistula's Goat - it's a treat for those who enjoy being covered in abysmal mountains of shit. Awesome! P.S. Set aside the goat's demonically square and you will comprehend its cuteness. But speaking of filth...

haarp - The Filth
"IT'S ME ..... AGAAAAAAIN!" is how haarp start it off. Those are some stupidly effective, funny as hell lyrics to begin with. The joyous thing about his downright demonic vocals is their comprehensibility. "WHY... DO, YOU... DO THIS... TO, MEEEEE?" Jesus fucking Christ, that’s just wonderful. In fact, almost too wonderful - too loud in the mix - it seeps the Power of the Riff (for its form, see Crowbar or similar). I assume that this is Anselmo’s fault as he was the producer. God bless NOLA sludge, anyhow...



gamefaced said...

epic writing sir x four.

thethirdchildren said...


sweet recollection. having seen many 'year in review' lists, this one comes on top. tons of cool releases last year but only a few sticked in my head. here's for 2011! cheers!

i've secretly enjoyed torche as well ... there i said it.

Zmaj said...

Thanks you two. Took a while, too. I doubt I'm doing this shit next (i.e. this) year (at least not outside of [specifically] grind).

brutalex said...

You left nary a stone unturned. Exquisitely done, Dr.Z.

Now I must look up all these albums.

memories of better days said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
memories of better days said...

and if we all were not brothers of metal, would we fall? NO!

dont ever talk shit on and/ or compare these shitty bands to ManOwaR!!

Zmaj said...

True, I just don't know what to do with myself. ♫