Lines In Wax

THIRTEEN YEARS OF UNWANTED OPINION

Month: March 2024

Prehistoric War Cult – Cold Wind Howls Over The Burial Site (2021)

Don’t fuck with the Prehistoric War Cult. True derivative war metal served right up for your fuckin’ ears! Bashed about the head with clubs! Like a fuckin’ axe through your skull, lodged in your brain like dropping a knife in a stick of butter. Production where you can FEEL every hit of the drum, the rumble of the bass, the ear-shredding mess of the guitar. Truly uncompromising extreme metal, strongly fucking recommended.

Nyctophobic – War Criminal Views (1996)

This is one of those records which I have put off writing about for years and years. I think I could go as far as to say that this is a cult classic of the whole grindcore genre; once you’ve explored the recommended gems, and start to go off the beaten path, Nyctophobic’s first full length should be somewhere on your list of albums to check out. It’s easy to miss, and therefore it is a true underground gem, but it is well worth your time. The production reminds me of early 90s Brutal Truth or Agathocles, also in musical terms too these acts can be compared, more so the latter in regards to the use of blasting grind and pitchshifted vocals, and more to the former in regards to slowing down for a sick death metal riff or employing manic shrieks over the top of the aural carnage. Samples are used frequently but only to punctuate the main musical bulk and also to act as intros to some tracks. The decision to close on a sample of a news report signing off and then several minutes of static is an interesting one but after the litany of atrocities that Nyctophobic have displayed for us in the last 40 minutes it does feel like a fitting end. To recap: extremely good and well worth tracking down.

Eyehategod – Dopesick (1996)

Dopesick was the first Eyehategod album that I bought, although I didn’t really get into them until I heard Take As Needed For Pain. There was much more groove there – painstaking and agonizing groove but groove nonetheless – whereas Dopesick just seemed tortured to me; drawn out, unpleasant. I also found the production to be rather muddy, which is OK for drug-addled sludge, but the 2007 remaster rather refreshingly opens up Dopesick without losing any of its grime or disgusting sound.

Barrington Pheloung – Broken Sword 2: The Smoking Mirror OST (1997 / 2010)

Barrington’s soundtrack for the original Broken Sword haunts me in my dreams, and the sequel is a continuation of that excellence. However, it should be said that the follow up is far more ethereal and atmospheric, with only a recurring leitmotif holding the whole thing together. Aside from that, breathy synths are the order of the day, with stabs of instrumental punctuation reserved for important plot or gameplay points. There’s a collection of “worldly” music as well as some tracks that were supposed to be diegetic sources in-game, but otherwise this near 2 hour experience flies by. One thing I will say, is that Barrington’s music is synonymous with the feeling that Broken Sword conjured up. Good times.

Lee Perry – Roast Fish, Collie Weed & Corn Bread (1978)

What a thoroughly charming and endearing set of songs. The beautiful, sun-drenched production (as in, it sounds like the tape was left in a Walkman which in turn was left out on a pavement outside the Black Ark studio for two whole days) provides a warm and comforting listen, with Perry’s homely and down to earth lyrics only reiterating this feeling. Truly, this is a pleasure to listen to on almost any occasion, and has to be up there with the very “best” reggae records (only downside is that there seems there is very little in the way of dub on this album – at least in instrumental form, mostly this is a vocal-led affair).

Of The Wand And The Moon – Nighttime Nightrhymes (1999)

A beautiful and evocative debut. It took me a few listens to “get” the whispered vocal approach, which felt like a bit of a cop-out at first. Once I had gotten over this personal hurdle, the full impact of Nighttime Nightrhymes could be fully appreciated. For me, it is an embodiment of the perfect neofolk sound; that dark acoustic simplicity augmented by various other stringed or wind instruments helps develop a sound that is fresh yet also ancient at the same time, morose yet uplifting, sad yet affirming, like the worm ouroboros (or something like that).

Bassnectar – Cozza Frenzy (2009)

Cozza Frenzy is a long-ass album. I didn’t really notice at first, listening with earphones at work, but when I went for a round two I found my attention slipping fairly easily. Frenzy has it’s highlights, but also a series of low points too. I guess you just gotta take the rough with the smooth. The production is huge, crystal clear and very, very tidy – to the point perhaps of being somewhat homogeneous, but I can’t fault someone for consistent and great production skills, that would just be idiotic, even for my rambling ass.

Bassnectar – Timestretch (2010)

Starts off good but loses me towards the second half, which is stuffed with pointless filler and shitty remixes, taking this “EP” to over 45 minutes long. Timestretch, indeed, my dude(s). Taken on the first 4 tracks alone, or even just “Basshead” (by far the strongest here), this is pretty cool, but as I said the rest drags it down.

Christian Death – Only Theatre Of Pain (1982)

Apathy: the album. The analogue production and the bubbling post-punk (to become “deathrock”) is fantastic but Rozz Williams delivers his vocals in such a way that he sounds like he is already done with this band before it has even begun. Yeah I get it, that’s part of the vibe, but things are delivered with such a nonchalance I’m left wondering why I should ever bother give my time in return to listen to it. Besides, the EP Deathwish, on which I’m sure a few of these songs reappear, sounds much more full of life and energy. IDK, maybe this just isn’t for me. It’s not bad, though.

Borgore – Delicious (2011)

I’ve thusfar defended Borgore releases on here but today that stops (lmao). Production is great but the songs are pretty poor tbh, with Borgore’s terrrribbbblllle rapping taking center stage. When the highlight of your record is a song about taking a girl who is so ugly to a gloryhole so you can happily fuck her face without worrying about her looks (but not in a sleazy way, in a cheeky chappy bro its a joke LOL kinda way, which is even worse tbh), well, then there’s problems. Lads lads lads brostep bullshit. If he OWNED the filth rather than just passing it off as a lads bants kinda vibe, at least there would be some integrity here. But without that this is just vapid, useless bullshit. The shtick is wearing so thin at this point that Borgore just comes across like that drunk asshole at a house party high on coke just talking about shit to anyone who will still listen. Yes mate, I know, you fuck supermodels, you’ve already said. Now go away.

Fear Factory – Archetype (2004)

I was into “Cyber Waste” when this first came out (“nothing you say matters to us”? – matters enough for you to write a whole fucking song and release it as the lead single to this album LOL) but otherwise I mostly snoozed on this album. I was 13 or 14 years old, and wasn’t really THAT into Fear Factory. Now, as a legit old cunt, one can return to the Fear Factory discography in retrospect and see the highs and the lows. For me, Archetype is a high. Oddly, its a record without Dino on it, someone whom I attribute the chuggalugga FF sound to as a personality, but here we are without him and we get one of the best Fear Factory record in ages, chronologically at least. Ray Herrera’s drumming is fucking class too.

Bratkilla – Methamphetamine (2009)

This was my jam in 2010. Back when I first had Spotify (crazy to think I’ve had it for around 15 years now) I would make playlists of all the underground dubstep shit that I could find. Bratkilla’s “Methamphetamine” is not exactly the most inspired thing in the world, and the Family Guy samples are pretty cringe, but the bass on this is so fucking nasty I still play it fairly regularly 14 years after first discovering it (this also makes me feel old as fuck I won’t lie). The B-Side isn’t up to much, but the first track is one of my favourites in this style.

Urgehal – Through Thick Fog Til Death (2003)

Uncompromising, unforgiving… uninspiring? I’ll be honest with you, it was the cover art that drew me in here, and whilst I stayed for the nearly 1hr runtime, I couldn’t help but think this album would have been much more effective if it was just a little shorter. I suppose you could draw parallels to Chimera-era(-era!) Mayhem or earlier 1349, but Through Thick Fog Til Death is nowhere near as good as either of those.

EarDelete – Devilogy (2013)

Can I get a reeeeee, a skreee and possibly a breeeee? EarDelete play glacial paced “grindcore” with silly vocals and party atmosphere, and in this case an overarching theme of the devil somehow being involved, for reasons beyond my comprehension. Production is good, but the best thing about this is the guitar; thick and chunky with a dark tone. Tidy.

Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)

I’ve never been much of a fan of Johnny Cash but do enjoy a spin of the covers now and then. There is a morose feel to the whole record, which is known primarily for “Hurt” let’s be honest, but despite this, sadness and perhaps a weariness permeates every second of this thing. The production is simply gorgeous, allowing the rustic Americana of these interpretations to fully shine. A classic record, for sure.

Necros Christos – Doom Of The Occult (2011)

I love the mix of crushing doom metal and more traditional instrumental passages, which use all manner of different sounds to build the atmosphere. Anyone who puts a church organ on a doom record is a genius in my book. The production is also fantastic and the length of this thing, seemingly impenetrable at first, opens up the album like some sort of sprawling journey or concept album. Granted, this type of death/doom at the core here is not particularly original and may put some people off due to its limited sound palette, but for those into such things you can’t really go wrong with this album.

Electric Wizard – We Live! (2004)

Ah yes, THE Electric Wizard, everyone’s favourite dope smoking fuzz fiends. Not sure what inspired that brief name change, but I am glad they reverted back after this album. We Live! seems to be a transitional period for the band, with Jus moving the band away from their “classic” lineup and still – honestly – having not found their stride with the newer incarnation of the band. This would come in spades with Witchcult Today, but We Live! is still well worth your time. The production is fairly clear for a EW album (lol) and some of the songs are absolutely incredibly, such as the opening track as well as “Saturn’s Children”.

Flux Pavilion – Lines In Wax (2010)

You may recognise the name of this EP. Yes it is the name I “borrowed” for my blog, YouTube channel and eventual RYM profile. It also made SEO for the first two things on that list absolutely impossible lmao, but there we go, you live and learn. Lines In Wax is a four track EP that is stacked with bangers, in all fairness. I guess this falls into the whole brostep / dubstep thing, but tbh it just seems like bad dance music that belongs in the 2010s. I love it for what it is, but whether it will be remembered so fondly but the average electronic music is debatable.

Proclamation – Advent Of The Black Omen (2006)

Proclamation often get it in the neck for being “derivative” – but is it possible (at all) to not be derivative in the microgenre that is war metal? Either way, I don’t give too much of a shit personally, because Advent Of The Black Omen is fucking class. Expect muddy, downtuned guitars, endless spastic drumming and vokills to invoke the horn-ed one. Y’know, it sounds like war metal. Don’t forgot to break out your bullet belt(s) for this one.

Fluids – Ignorance Exalted (2020)

Muddy, nasty, gory death metal a la Mortician, slightly underdone, more blue than rare, but still tasty all the same. I have a very (penetrable?) soft spot for Fluids despite calls that they are nought but a derivative copy. I think the success of their “rise” through the “world” of “modern death metal” and the number of vinyl and cassettes these guys have sold would perhaps indicate that the haters are indeed wrong (who would have thought?). I know you can’t measure artistic talent by number of albums sold, but in such a small and stifling world as this there are clearly a lot of people listening to Fluids and enjoying it. Anyway, Ignorance Exalted is pretty great – not perfect – and well worth a listen. If you had to do one track only I’d recommend “Capped”.

Borgore – Ruined Dubstep Vol. 2 (2010)

Like part 1, but improved. Again, lots of asinine lyrics but the programming has improved tenfold. Tracks like “Money” and the excellent “Broken Rulz” (with metal drumming, no less – do I smell a Drumkit From Hell VST plugin!? Ha!) are pretty fucking experimental, I’ll give the man his due. Despite this, Borgore seems universally hated and this EP will no doubt never win any lifetime awards, but Vol 2 (along with Vol 1) are important to me because of a time and a place in my life when this shit was the bomb.

Borgore – Ruined Dubstep Vol. 1 (2010)

This has aged pretty poorly, but I’m going to try and briefly review it from the mindset I had in 2010. The mainstream dubstep craze was in full effect. Radio 1 after 10pm was full of this shit. However, Borgore, who’d turned some heads with his unique “gorestep” style, dropped his first full EP proper with Borgore Ruins Dubstep Vol. 1. For the kind of stinky drops that we all listened to in my mate’s garage passaging tulip-sized joints, this seemed pretty fucking good at the time. I listened to it again recently at the gym (seemed fitting hahaha) and whilst the lyrics are purile I gotta admit I still enjoyed the beats and bass.

Revenge – Behold.Total.Rejection (2015)

Behold.Total.Rejection. completes my descend into the murky world of Revenge full-lengths. Sometimes I can struggled to think of what to say for certain releases, and Revenge are a band that I’ve noticed this happening for multiple times. I guess once you know what Revenge are about, and you start coming back for more and more, you know exactly what you want and you know exactly what to expect. In that regard, BTR is another variation on a narrow template, however it is a template that the band execute with extreme savagery. This is very little that rivals the greatness of Revenge (Conqueror comes close), even in the world of war metal.

Cradle Of Filth – Trouble And Their Double Lives (2023)

“She Is A Fire” sounds great, to be fair. Dani sounds amazing, the current / new version of the band is on the ball, and Martin is a machine on the drums. Regarding the live session, I’ll be honest, when I heard about this release of yet another Cradle live album I rolled my eyes, but I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that the band are tight as fuck right now. Like, the performance here is seriously good from both the new blood as well as Dani. Cradle has always sounded like something of a car crash live, I’ve seen them many times over the years with different members and earlier live albums such as Live Bait For The Dead attest to this, but I was blown away by how good Dani’s voice sounds and how on-point the band is. The sound is fantastic, too. I don’t know how much massaging this has had in post-production but it sounds absolutely fantastic.

Absurd – Asgardsrei (1999)

(Review of the 2012 expanded version)  A tidy little record from Absurd, perhaps a little rough around the edges and not as catchy as the 00s period led by Wolf but still lots of great work here. Production is a little raw but complaining about that on a black metal release is just incredibly stupid. Lots of atmospheric intermissions and bombastic interludes cut the metal segments up nicely.

Gallhammer – The End (2011)

It might be the squeaky Despise You on helium vocals that put folks off after the first few songs but The End is Gallhammer at their most glacial and experimental. Worth listening to for the closing tracks alone, “Wander” and “108=7/T-NA”, the latter of which has what sounds like some sort of Zorn-like sax improvisation over it.

Misfits – Friday The 13th (2016)

Friday The 13th is one of the better things that Jerry’s Misfits put their hand to. Not that the bar was particularly high with the competition from other releases in this era, but Friday The 13th actually has sessions that sound like the band is trying. The songs fall somewhere between sounding like Devil’s Rain and Jerry’s recent solo outing. The production is also surprisingly rough, but IMO this works in the band’s favour. I never understood the desire to polish up the Misfits studio records so much. Let Jerry hide himself in the fog of that hideous bass tone! Maybe this was the start of a new album and that got shitcanned when Danzig rejoined?

Kovenant – S.E.T.I. (2003)

Not sure what happened here, because Animatronic, whilst divisive, appeared to come off as a successful experiment. I guess what SETI does is double down on the style of that previous album, but maybe the band pushed too far with this one. SETI is like, what, 80 minutes long? 80 minutes of mediocre industrial metal is enough to drive anyone to absolute madness, regardless of quality, but SETI fails to deliver the instant satisfaction of Animatronic; none of the songs are remotely as memorable, there are no hooks or passages that stick with you, and the vocals are decidedly toned down too. The guitar and drums give way for the synthesizers to lead the songs, but when every time all they offer is the same formless bubbling techno stepper sounds, this gets old very fast. You could probably shave nearly half of the songs away from this thing and the album would just be stronger for it. Thankfully, the production is enormous (although there’s no saving that snare sound), and the album starts to correct its course from around the half-way point, with tracks like “Acid Theatre”, “The Perfect End”, “Pantomine” and “Industrial Twilight” really shining the most.

Fukpig – This World Is Weakening (2014)

This World Is Weakening is the “fixed” version of 3. You’ll find less wooly production, more balanced instrumentation and more audible vocals (which is nice, obviously). In comparison to the modern remaster of 3, This World Is Weakening seems like a bit of a pointless endeavour but trust me this album was a breath of fresh air into these songs back in 2014. Both versions still warrant investigation today, as Fukpig had truly developed their own unique sound by the time this album came around.

Fukpig – The Depths Of Humanity (2001)

Like Misery Index on crack cocaine. Fukpig really hit the ground running and Depths Of Humanity is a masterpiece in my eyes. It is, truly, one of the most under rated and slept on grindcore / crust demos of any era. The band would go on to become something slightly different, but this first view into what they were about is incredibly good and well worth your time.

Fukpig – Bombs Of War (2002)

Bombs Of War takes the same (or very similar) set of songs from the band’s original demo The Depths Of Humanity and reimagines them somewhat. The differences are marginal, but the production is significantly different. I’m not sure if there was a big lineup change or what; I’m not sure what would warrant the rerecording of all of these songs into a second demo which is arguably not as good as first. If you do ever come across this though it is still well worth a listen, this early incarnation of Fukpig was fucking awesome.

Misfits – Descending Angel (2013)

Jerry really set himself up to fail here. In what world would a re-recording of the Graves-led tune “Descending Angel” ever be better than the original? In fact, I’m pretty sure “Descending Angel” is one of Graves’ own songs (he brought many to the Misfits) which rubs salt in the wound even more. But yeah, everything about this single is absolutely pointless, and pretty awful to be honest. The live version of the B-Side from DeA.D. Alive! is also much better than the studio version.

Fukpig – 3 (2012)

I was 22 when this came out. I was a vinyl-buying devotee of Devizes Records, and the very minute it was possible to do so, I ordered the 3 album on 12”. Spewings… was OK, but Belief… was fucking savage, and having seen the band live a few times I was now as pumped as I could be for the next Fukpig installment. 3 came and it was just… there. I can’t really remember thinking it was awful but I do remember a bit of a backlash to it sounding like arse. The band were also not happy with 3, and rereleased it in a corrected form as The World Is Weakening soon after. The trouble is, listening back now, I don’t even know what the fucking problem was. I’m not sure if the version online has been remastered or what, but 3 sounds huge. Listening to it is like asking AI to paint a picture of what it would look like to drown in a vat of HM2 distortion. I don’t know what the point of this little story was, but rest assured 3 is well worth your time.  The digital version of 3 comes with a bunch of demos tacked on. I’ve already heard Depths Of Humanity and Bombs Of War, but sandwiched in between these two sessions are a few that I’ve never heard before. They sound far more modern than the latter, with the buzzsaw HM2 style guitar leading the way. The drums on this session are fucking fantastic; so fast, so tight. Excellent blasts. The whole session kinda sounds like Benediction but on steroids.

Judas Priest – Angel Of Retribution (2005)

Finally, Halford returns to his rightful place at the front of Priest. No shade to Ripper, who had a 50/50 track record with Priest albums, but Halford belongs as the group’s front man and from the off this actually sounds like a Judas Priest album, despite the modern production (which is not a problem, just a little jarring if you think the last time we heard Halford-fronted Priest was the legendary Painkiller, an album that is absolutely fantastic but also dated in its sound and production). I do think however that Priest played it safe with this one. There are no daring choices both musically and during the production of the record. This results in a consistent reunion piece but also one that is a little one dimensional, despite the various song ideas attempted. Some of the songs are great, some are not so great, but they all sound more or less the same, with the uniformity of a single product. Yknow, it’s an album, so fair enough, but still, there’s just something about this record that just isn’t sitting right with me, even after a few listens.

Jig-Ai – Katana Orgy (2008)

A gargantuan fecking slab of brick-walled goregrind. Loudness war? Forget that shit, you won’t ever be able to hear another record ever again if you play this little bastard loud enough. Obscene production technique aside, Katana Orgy is the Jig-Ai sound fully matured from the debut era, and kind of the blueprint that they would use going forward for the rest of their work. For that reason, and because this album is just generally amazing (the last track excluded), I’d say Katana Orgy is the best Jig-Ai album.

Kreator – Pleasure To Kill (1986)

What can I say about a record this legendary? Pleasure To Kill is a classic of not just the thrash genre but an integral piece of metal music history. The production is clean and whilst I wouldn’t go as far as to call the band’s playing sloppy, there is definitely a youthful energy to their work here that is barely contained. It feels like each song wants to go racing off as fast as possible, and the guys are wrestling to keep things in check, which is fine with me!

Jarboe – Mahakali (2008)

I first bought the Mahakali album in 2010 or 2011 and despite being massively into Swans and even some of the guest players here (Atilla for example), the album didn’t really resonate with me. I found it slow, frustrating and directionless. I’m not sure what has changed, but coming back to it thirteen years later and I am immediately blown away by this thing. I listened to the whole thing through for the first time in one sitting and I loved every second of it; in fact I didn’t want it to end. Mahakali is a dark record, and whilst it is – for the most part anyway – devoid of structured songs with involved lyrics, it is full of incredible passages of sinister atmosphere and creeping danger. It feels like a soundtrack to the end of the world, and Jarboe feels like the voice that mocks us for our poor life choices as we descend to what could be described as hell. Tribal drums and deep, droning electric guitar are used frequently, as are of course synthesisers and other unusual instruments. There are some songs where a bass guitar tuned to some unfathomable low rumble and it’s left to just ring out and create an earth shattering racket. Beautiful.

Swans – Die Tür ist zu (1996)

I’ve always had a stand-offish relationship with Die Tur Ist Zu because well, what’s the fucking point in this thing? “Helpless Child” (slightly extended here) and “All Lined Up” sang in German is little more than a novelty, and the hodge podge of other cuts and live bits are just… well, just there. Considering SFTB is such a gargantuan and groundbreaking album, this “EP” stands entirely in its shadow. Don’t get me wrong, nothing on here is bad, in fact it’s all incredible. I just don’t know why anyone would listen to this over Soundtracks.

Misfits – Land of the Dead / Twilight of the Dead (2009)

I fucking HATED this shit when it came out. Little did I know how much worse it would get (looking at you, Devil’s Rain). I’ll be honest, thanks to seeing the Jerry-Fits live a bunch of times and also thanks to the DeA.D. Alive! CD I really started to appreciate some of the newer tracks, especially “Land Of The Dead”. The chorus is mad catchy. Jerry’s Danzig / Elvis attempt on “Twilight Of The Dead” leaves a lot to be desired however.

Slayer – Undisputed Attitude (1996)

Cunnilingus and hardcore punk brought us to this! It says a lot about your relationship with a band when one of your favourite albums by them is a covers album but fuck it, Undisputed Attitude is the shit. Slayer are angry as fuck and it translates perfectly into the world of hardcore punk. They absolutely fucking kill it here. (As a side note I totally didn’t need to hear Tom Araya singing about putting his tongue in “that special place” – lmao)

Venetian Snares – Winnipeg Is A Frozen Shithole Vol. 1 (2005)

I don’t want to say the first few tracks from the Winnipeg… sessions are “calmer” than the latter, but they definitely do not descend quite as far down the staircase of pure electronic fuckery and madness as tracks like “Die Winnipeg Die Die Die Fuckers Die” or “Winnipeg as Mandatory Scat Feed” from the Vol. 2 but they are still a test of patience for those who are not initiated into the world of breakcore (lol). The locked grooves on Side A are kinda cool, but I have to admit I had the vinyl for about ten years before I realised they were even there (lmao). There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this EP but you’re honestly better off just getting the full album that contains both 12″ sessions as well as a few extra tracks too.

Venetian Snares – Winnipeg Is A Frozen Shithole (2005)

Bosh bosh bosh! “Album” which compiles both the Winnipeg 12″ singles, as well as a bunch of new tracks from the same session, into one super mega awesome 45 minute breakcore fuckfest. …Frozen Shithole seems to be one of those albums that gets more and more brutal as it goes on, just pounding you into the shitty, frozen dirt with each passing track. This is something which I do not doubt was a purposeful decision by its creator. The album finishes with the SKM-ETR remix of the aptly-titled “Die Winnipeg Die Die Die Fuckers Die” which more less transcends breakcore, techno, all of that, and basically just becomes harsh noise. Lovely.

Slabdragger – Regress (2011)

The main selling point for Slabdragger, at least on this LP, is the phenomenal guitar tone. Crunchy, fuzzy, chewy, riffy goodness! Unfortunately, Regress fails to hold much attention for the entirety of its runtime and I attribute this to the lack of variety in its textural content; it’s all rather one dimensional, despite the songs being generally very good in isolation.

Rainbow – Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow (1975)

A stunning debut from this legendary band. Personally, I think the Rainbow sound was perfected on Rising, but there are some frankly excellent songs on this album, including the now immortal opening track, “Man on the Silver Mountain”. The production, seemingly shared between Blackmore and producer Martin Birch, is organic and flows nicely through the various styles of songs present on the album. (Apparently I enjoy listening to this so much that I reviewed it twice, this time on 15th May 2024) Are Rainbow one of the greatest bands of all time? Off the strength of the first two records alone I don’t think that’s too daft of a statement. This thing is loaded to the gills with absolute rock and roll classics, such as the phenomenal opener “Man On The Silver Mountain” and side B’s “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves”. Granted, there are a few tracks here which are good but aren’t really my kind of thing, such as “Black Sheep Of The Family” or “If You Don’t Like Rock N Roll”, but I can’t let this kind of thing detract too much from what is otherwise a good album. Production wise, things sound as brilliant as you’d expect for 1975; fans of warm analogue production should rejoice.

Realize – Demolition (2017)

Somewhat predictable but immensely satisfying industrial metal that worships almost exclusively it seems at the altar of Godflesh. Expect claustrophobic guitars, punishing programmed drums and robotic vocals. Expect pain, anguish and misery. Expect it to sound a lot like Godflesh!

Toad – Stop This Crime (2001)

Stop this crime? What crime? The only crime here is this band’s attempts at ballads. If you wanna go ahead and stop those, I’m with you 100% of the way, my dudes. Toad’s 4th album, released 26 years after the previous studio album, is a bit of a wet fart of a comeback. The production is fantastic, but the album is top-loaded, with excellent numbers at the start, but the record soon meanders off into the mediocrity of blues and power ballads, both of which blow ass and suck as hard as the rock that the group claim to play. All in all, a mixed bag.

Mjölnir – Walpurgisfeuer (1997)

Very atmospheric and evocative black metal, with the riffs wandering through the haze of the mist, and bathing you in their ancient glory. Beautiful undercurrent of synthesizers / keyboards present too, giving these tracks a unique dimension, despite fulfilling many of the tropes of black metal. Good shit.

Sturmfolk – Klänge des Nordens (2019)

Entertaining but incredibly messy black metal from Germany. The synths and atmospheric elements are fantastic but when the core of the band come in, well shit is almost as shambolic as early Graveland. In fact, I’m pretty sure the guitarist and the drummer are in different bands and they’ve just stapled the unrelated recording sessions together to form songs. I’m joking of course, but the tightness is uhhh, not great. Verdict: A for atmosphere (and vocals!, Z for everything else, so a score right down the middle.

Insane Clown Posse – The Mighty Death Pop (2012)

I was surprised by how good some of the songs were on The Mighty Death Pop. Don’t get me wrong here, there’s a lot of shit floating around on this here disc, but damn I cannot deny that the title track or “The Blasta” or “Bazooka Joey” are fucking excellent. I also can’t speak for the bonus discs including the covers disc because that shit is just too awful for me to sit through, but as far as the main album goes, I’ll fuck with this, for sure. TMDP has a strong, bold production, with a nice ratio of proper hip hop beats (instead of crappy rap rock tracks, but these are still here even if in fewer numbers).

Curta’n Wall / Fugitive Wizard – Split Tape (2021)

Armed To The Teeth is a fairly uninspired split release from the usually excellent Curta’n Wall and the grimm and grimy Fugitive Wizard. Curta’n Wall’s tracks here are pretty catchy, especially “Castle Spire”, but the quality does not come near that what can be found on the self-titled EP or the Siege Obsessed full length. Fugitive Wizard falls off the deep end into a bottomless murky pit of horrendous production. We’re talking almost as bad as Revenant fucking Marquis here. Granted, once I’ve adjusted, “Spellforge” has chance to grow on me. Personally however, I’d go elsewhere in the discography of both of these bands rather than return to this.

Lamp Of Murmuur – Heir Of Ecliptical Romanticism (2020)

Incredibly solid black metal that at first feels quite impenetrable, but gives way to some dense yet mesmerizing songwriting. Equal parts unforgiving and atmospheric, Lamp Of Murmuur’s full length debut ticks all of the right boxes when it comes to modern black metal. This project seems to get a lot of hate, I guess for attracting hipsters or some shit, but who gives a fuck about that when the record is this good?

Fela Kuti – Why Black Man Dey Suffer (1971)

As a white man in a western country I can only empathise with the themes of this record. That’s not to say Kuti’s music isn’t for me, as music is for anyone who is willing to listen. Knowing the sensitive political situation around Kuti and the severity of the confrontation between him and those that were in power, one can really feel the weight of every word in these epic, sprawling tracks. On top of that, they groove like nobody’s business, so for an occasion where you perhaps want to dance AND expanding your mind consciously to the plight of others, look no further.

Sepultura – A-Lex (2009)

I appreciate the experimentation that Sepultura did with A-Lex. Previous album Dante XXI aside, Sepultura ran a very real risk of becoming stale in the years running up to this record. However, A-Lex is a step down from its predecessor in a number of ways. The first is the production is nowhere near as clear. As a musician I would find it infinitely frustrating having found the perfect palette of sonic clarity for my band or project, only to not be able to replicate that on my next record. This means a lot of the more experimental stuff gets lost in the mix, and the album sounds like one unified mush of the same song and over, negating all of their hard work. This also means that the only piece that stands out above the others is the unfortunately awful Beethoven section. Like, what? Why is that even here? I appreciate this review probably makes A-Lex sound like it is complete dogshit. It’s not. In all fairness, it has some very cool moments. It’s just sad to see an album with a bucket full of shortcomings this soon after a record that corrected their course so well.

Insane Clown Posse – Lich Mich Im Arsch (2011)

“Leck Mich Im Arsch” is a mess, I’ll be honest. Nothing about it works, at all. The musical styles are a complete mismatch, and ICP’s lyrics are probably the best thing about it all. “Mountain Girl” on the flipside is appalling, a second-rate continuation of the same-old same-old shit you got on “Redneck Ho” and “Chicken Huntin’”. Aside from the novelty that this was produced by Jack White (like…what? lmao), this is mid ICP at best.

Slayer – Divine Intervention (1994)

I expected a fairly high drop off of quality after Seasons… so I was pleasantly surprised to find that Divine Intervention has aged quite well. Yeah, there’s more of the “groove” sound here than anything that could be called thrash metal, but we are now firmly entering the phase that I like to call “angry Slayer”. It’s a silly term, I know, because Slayer has always been angry, but from here on out they seem generally more angsty and pissed off with absolutely everything and everyone. There’s a streak of hardcore punk running through this in some of the more chaotic moments, which makes sense with what was to come next in their discography. The biggest downside for me is that Lombardo is gone, but Paul Bostaph holds his own, I’ll give the man his dues.

Deathstars – Termination Bliss (2006)

When I saw the “Cyanide” single on the TV as a teenager I thought it was pretty cool even though it was clearly very cheesy goth music. I wouldn’t usually be super into this sort of stuff, but I was really into The Kovenant’s Animatronic album, after hearing “Mirror’s Paradise” on one of Bam Margera’s CKY dvds (those were the days, eh). Deathstars to me seemed like KovenantLite, and that was OK with me. I quickly and perhaps illegally obtained a copy of the album, and I really started to enjoy the album. Sure, there are a few uninspired songs, and the whole thing is kinda similar in its own way, but I played the absolute fucking life out of this album. Nowadays, looking back, some of the vocals are kinda cringe and I really don’t like the whole whisper/shout fry vocal thing that they have going on, but for the most part this held up way better than I ever could have imagined. The production is fantastic, if not a touch dated, but hey, this is old as balls now. I was filled with an immense sadness listening to this, as it was another one of those albums that took me back to my youth. The thing about the good old days, is that you don’t know they are the goodold days until they are long gone. Anyway – that’s Termination Bliss for you.

Sepultura – Dante XXI (2006)

Dante XXI is the best Sepultura album chronologically in quite some time. There seems to be a fire underneath Dante XXI that has been absent for far too long, despite the band’s best efforts in the interim period. With the metal world crawling out the grip of nu / alternative fads and into some whole other bullshit (metalcore I’m looking at you), Sepultura forged ahead with their own unique sound. The production for Dante XXI, shared between the band and several engineers / producers, is absolutely fucking fantastic. Easily one of the clearest and most well-balanced production jobs I’ve heard in a while (which makes it even more baffling as to a. why there was a 2021 remaster in the first place and b. why said remaster sucks so fucking badly). The drumming on this record in particular is worthy of note. Cavalera shines here, and its worth listening to just for following along with his fills, accents and other interesting personal touches. Really great, just avoid the remaster and go for the original.

Slayer – Seasons In The Abyss (1990)

Seasons In The Abyss is an amalgamation of the previous few Slayer albums. Good thing that these albums are some of metal’s all-greats, so Slayer retreating old ground here is not necessarily an awful thing in this case. I think they got away with rehashing stuff here for the first and only time, only because the quality of the songs are still very, very high. There are signs of the not-so-great groove / nu metal stuff that plagued them a bit in the 90s, but generally this album is fucking great. It’s got “War Ensemble” of course, and the closing title-track is one of my favourites from the band.

Minenwerfer – Alpenpässe (2019)

One of the most magnificent pieces of music I’ve heard in some time. I’ve seen this artwork bandied about online / on people’s RYM lists for years (also I’m pretty sure YouTube has recommended me this album about 700 times). The art is very striking to me; a soldier wielding a gun above the clouds has a strange otherworldly feel to it. Musically, I get the same feeling from this as I did from Peste Noire’s debut record. There is far more of a post-(genre) (lol) feel here, especially in the guitar work, which results in a far more trance-like atmospheric state, but with that unpinning level of violence and ferocity that makes things seem just a little bit scary – the way good black metal should be, might I add. The production is fantastic and even at an hour or so in length the album does not outstay its welcome. My favourite tracks would have to be the opening 17-minute epic “Der Blutharsch” or the savage “Withered Tombs” that sees the drumming speeding up to the superhuman levels of say, Frost in 1349, and the rest of the band follows in intensity. Brilliant stuff.

Sturmpercht – Geister Im Waldgebirg (2006)

I’m new to the music of Sturmpercht, but more or less completely in love with it after only a few short weeks. Geister Im Waldgebirg filters traditional Alpine folk music (a type of music that I am admittedly not familiar with) through the medium of neofolk, resulting in a morose acoustic experience that sounds confident and authentic. The record cannot be dismissed for following repetitive acoustic folk structures however; for each campfire acoustic guitar track there’s a haunting atmospheric track, full of stifling effects like (I’m assuming) synthesizers, horns, accordions, the works! If I had one complaint it would be that Geister Im Waldgebirg is overly long at 70 minutes in run time. None of the tracks feel like filler, this is important to state, but I do feel the album would flow better at a more hospitable run time of 35-45 minutes.

Judas Priest – Demolition (2001)

The Jugulator V Demolition argument has raged for several decades now, but I’m here to finally lay it all to rest: this shit fucking blows ass. This is clearly, unequivocally the worst album of the two, and is a stain on the Priest name. There’s probably two good songs on this thing, the rest of them are either inconsequential or sound like bad Rammstein or Fear Factory b-sides. Cyyyybeerrrfaaacccceeee lmao get the fuck out of here! “He is interfaced to Hell” hahahaha my sides, my sides, make it stop.

Slayer – Show No Mercy (1983)

I’m just gonna say it: Slayer were way cooler when they did Bathory-esque metal (pre-Bathory metal, even!). I’ve coined it “evil Slayer” (original, I know) and it’s better than “thrash Slayer”, “nu metal Slayer” and “legacy band releasing shit for the sake of it Slayer” all put together (thrash Slayer is pretty cool though). I’m obviously breaking bawls here but fuck this shit rules so hard. In layman’s terms this is Slayer’s Kill ‘Em All, but even such a debut from a youthful incarnation of the band showcases excellent songwriting prowess and that “special sauce” feeling that these guys really had something special, even back then.

Voivod – Lost Machine (2020)

An excellent set, featuring some of Voivod’s best tunes, and – of course – their Pink Floyd cover. The sound is a bit flat in places but generally the production is very well balanced, especially between Chewy and Rocky. Snake sounds just like he does in the sound, it’s uncanny.

Ragnarok – Arising Realm (1997)

Came for the album art (I mean, just look at it), stayed for the cold yet precise black metal. Arising Realm sounds so brittle it feels like the entire thing could collapse into thousands of icy shards at any given moment. Despite this, a rock solid backbone of tight drumming and deep bass allow hypnotic guitar riffs to weave through frozen tapestries, accompanied by occasional smatterings of frosted keys and evil roars of vocal outpouring. With this group / project being from Norway, I feel like I should have heard of this before, but alas I have not. Perhaps it is the generic nature of the band name? I feel like there’s probably a hundred bands called Ragnarok. Either way, this record seems like a gem that can be found for those who traverse the less travelled path, and off the strength of this album I’m very curious as to the rest of Ragnarok’s catalogue.

Voivod – Ultraman (2022)

I’m not gonna lie to you, chief. I have zero fucking clue who or what Ultraman is. I can only assume, this being Voivod, that it is some sort of obscure sci-fi movie or TV show. I did not expect, in any universe or pocket dimension, to ever hear Snake singing in Japanese. Sometimes even a band like Voivod, where you should expect the unexpected, continues to out-pace my imagination. Fair play. But yeah, these are covers of the various Ultraman themes, backed with some pretty good live recordings. All in all, a pretty fun release. I saw this for sale at the recent 40th anniversary tour, but I didn’t buy it. Maybe this will end up as a collector’s item, who knows?

Voivod – The End Of Dormancy (2020)

Of all the tracks from The Wake, “The End Of Dormancy” is far from the best, the first few minutes of it even being tedious, not a word I would often use to describe Voivod’s music, but here we are. The version of the track here, with the additional brass sections, is a fun experiment, but not one that I feel really pays off. The track doesn’t really get interesting until mid-way through and even then it’s not the additional brass parts that are making it interesting. The other live songs here feel like filler, making this feel like a pretty pointless release, all in all. I for one champion experimentation and I also think Voivod are one of the greatest bands to ever exist, but this release didn’t stick the landing.

Voïvod – Post Society (2016)

You gotta love it when bands release EPs that almost reach LP status due to their run time. Voivod is one such band; a band that is always bestowing onto us the most interesting and engaging dystopian metal gifts. Post Society is no different. Come for the off-kilter sci-fi thrash, stay for the Hawkwind cover (yes!). As always with the “modern” era of Voivod, production is fantastic and everyone is performing on point. This EP also has some of my favourite Away artwork, which I have on a t-shirt. Long live Voivod!

7 H.Target – Yantra Creating (2023)

Yantra Creating sees 7 H.Target expanding upon their punishing slam sounds. Unless I’ve got this all wrong (I am, after all, an ignorant westerner) there’s an undercurrent of Hinduism layered through the precision blasts and massive riffs. This bleeds into the music too, with not only more traditional elements of religious music interwoven into the brutality, but also introspective passages of melody and moments of calm. It’s an interesting development that has 100% of my attention, even if I came here craving nought but uncompromising slams, bro.

Casiopea – Mint Jams (1982)

Mint Jams is a collection of cheeky, sprightly, impossibly complex jazz fusion played carelessly in front of a no-doubt enthralled audience as if it was the easiest and most natural thing in the world. The ease at which the group play in a live environment is truly impressive, although I would be a liar if I said the exact “music” hit the mark 100% of the time. This is an inherent problem I have with jazz fusion in general, that despite the absurd musical talent on display, the tunes come across like the backing tracks for a VHS porno meeting a lost Sonic The Hedgehog soundtrack. I suppose that in of itself could sound like an interesting proposition, but unsurprisingly only a select few weirdos (hi there!) are going to be down for such a thing.

Midnight – Farewell To Hell (2008)

Calling midnight sloppy does them / him a disservice, but there is a looseness to this EP which gives it a kind of drunken swagger, allowing tracks like “Black Rock N Roll” or “Vomit Queen” to hit that much harder. I don’t want to say farewell to hell, especially if this is what it sounds like. Sounds like Satan smashed on whiskey.

Hex Minora – Ai (1995)

Pretty incredible that this came out in 1995, when you think about it. Not that it was particularly far ahead of its time or anything like that, I’m just a simpleton and I’m easily amazed by the crushing certainty of the passing of time. Anyway, Ai is a busy slice of noise, with all sorts of punishing sounds going on (and some great cover photography to boot). If you like your noise more involved rather than ominous / atmospheric then this is well worth your time.

The Berzerker – Live At Tuffnel Dome / Live In London (2006 / 2019)

Slightly muddy sound, but an excellent set that covers the first four (read: the only decent) Berzerker albums. I saw them live on this tour and it was fantastic, so to have this disc come out not long after was a nice little treat and reminder about how good they were live. For this line-up Luke had long-time Berzerker collaberator Sam Bean on bass, recent (for the time) Akercocke recruit Matt Wilcock on guitar and Blast Vader himself, David Gray, on drums. Good times.

Behexen – The Poisonous Path (2016)

Biiig, biiiig production for black metal. The drums sound fantastic but the guitars almost have a HM2 fuzz to them which is an interesting choice. I don’t wish to disparage the riff writing or excellent vocals but I find this entire record a touch uninspired. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but it’s just not grabbing me. The Poisonous Path is not equalling the sum of its parts.

Archagathus / Bangsat – Split 7″ (2008)

Leave it to Archagathus to make completely inhospitable landscapes of downtuned grinding mush into catchy songs that are easily digested and heavily enjoyed. Truly, they are masters of the mincecore craft. Bangsat are a more straightforward grindcore affair, not that this is to their detriment; ample carnage awaits you on side B of this short disc.

Old Nick – The Truest Spell (2023)

Projects like Old Nick should always be taken with a pinch of salt but it is astounding how good this record actually is. The songwriting is fantastic, and some of the ways these songs turn out is just incredible, with these fantastic riffs or synth passages just coming out of nowhere and blindsiding you. Honestly, there’s a lot of talent here, and a real knack for writing catchy and engaging music, its just that its buried (intentionally it seems) beneath a wall of grime and bad production. As always with this kind of thing, that’s part of the charm rather than a defect or a strike against it. But yeah, this is excellent.

Ulcer / Failure Face – Split 7″ (1994)

Random find of the day goes to this fantastic little split EP. Both bands are new finds for me. Ulcer are on the more brutal, “grindcore” end of the powerviolence spectrum, with a bludgeoning production intent on smacking you into the ground. Failure Face on the other hand have a bit more of malleable nature to them. The songs are tightly sprung and bounce around with that undeniable hardcore punk energy. The vocalist is on a whole Jello Biafra meets John Brannon thing, which is fine by me.

Gorgoroth – Promo ’94 (1994)

The perfect balance between Sorcery… and the debut full-length, Pentagram. I love the denser “treble” sound to the production here, which is admittedly much more atypical of the style at the time (brb, tying an onion to my belt). Both tracks sound absolutely massive on this promo, despite the limiting production, but the riff leading us up to the conclusion of “Måneskyggens Slave” is just absolutely spellbinding (but better before the flanger effect hits, I’ll be honest). Another early Gorgoroth release that I can only wish was longer.

Gorgoroth – A Sorcery Written In Blood (1993)

Hat’s vocals on this are absolutely insane. I also really like the production, its not that much rawer really than the debut, but still has a good balance. It begs the question, is (slightly) rawer better? Also, whatever “Sexual Bloodgargling” is about, you guys can count me out. The song rules, though. A great demo, all in all. I really wish it was a little bit longer.

Division Triad / War 88 – Split CD (2015)

Division Triad have some really good riffs, and some excellent production values too, at least from what I’ve heard on this split. The drums sound fantastic and there’s a really good balance between all the instruments, which is always nice. All in all, nothing super groudbreaking, but a good set of songs. The imaginatively named War 88 (no dogwhistles there, eh) have dare I say more of a traditional black metal sound, with wasp-like guitars, thinner drums and thrumming bass underpinning proceedings. Things get nasty and frenetic very quickly, with the songs often descending into fucking amazing blastbeat sections. The vocalist “Black Cross Commando” has a super cool rasp to his voice. Have to check out more War 88, really great shit.

Gorgoroth – Pentagram (1994)

Solid debut from the legendary and influential Gorgoroth. I love the “dank” production and the organic sound, might sound a bit silly but it feels a bit rare to hear this kind of thing in black metal. The riffs are just fantastic. Hat’s vocals are a bit strange (kind of weird effect on them sometimes) but otherwise this a great album. Short and to the point at less than 30 minutes.

Usurpress – Trenches Of The Neverworld (2012)

Pretty uninspired, straight forward d-beat style stuff with that “dark” edge that was trendy as fuck around maybe 2010 or whatever. My only real surprise here is finding out that this wasn’t put out by Southern Lord. If that were the case then my “dark and mysterious modern hardcore” bingo card would have been well and truly full. I’m being facetious of course, and Usurpress are hardly a bad band. It’s just I feel like I’ve heard this a thousand times before, to the point where I am unfortunately quite bored by the time the record ends, which isn’t great.

Pharmacist / Golem Of Gore – Split CD (2020)

A fucking incredible split from two giants of the goregrind world. Golem Of Gore bursts out of your speakers in a frenzy of crazy riffs, absurd pitchshifter vocals and a restaurant kitchen’s worth of pots and saucepans (the drums lol). It’s a hell of a smack to the face, with tracks averaging about a minute long. Pharmacist on the other hand, take a bit more time to make their incisions and fill your mind with their disgusting gore in a more precisie and methodical way. You can slowly feel the sickness flowing through your veins like the freezing and inevitable grasp of a lethal injection. Seriously, Pharmacist just absolutely fucking rules in every possible way. Some of the most disgusting – and well made / well written! – goregrind you’d ever hope to hear.

Disrupt – Disrupt (2008)

Not to be confused with the self-titled Disrupt demo/7″ from 1990, this archival release combines unused material from two split releases into one banger of an EP. Spinning at 45 RPM and only about 11 minutes long (both sides combined!) this is really the perfect way to experience such music. The quality sounds incredible, and the production is fantastic. Fucking great shit.

Disrupt – Disrupt (1990)

If this doesn’t make you want to move then I don’t know what will. Incredible crust punk music, with the right sprinkling of grindcore elements to keep things interesting. Production is a bit grim, as to be expected from a 1990 DIY release, but everything hangs in a nice balance and can be heard in the mix. The songs are fucking killer, and this EP makes me want to drink cider and run around in a circle at a small and probably incredibly smelly music venue.

Hymen Holocaust – Donec Mors Nos Separaverit (2011)

On Donec Mors Nos Separaverit, Hymen Holocaust further hone and perfect their snail-pace goregrind. The vibe in general just feels a bit more mature than the previous records and the crawling pace gives me a Mortician meets Satan’s Revenge On Mankind vibe, which is just absolutely beautiful in every single possible way. The production is organic and clear, and the buzzing guitars stand apart from the sewer monster vocals. The only (small) downside is that I keep expecting it to burst into unstoppable barrages of blastbeats, because, y’know, it is goregrind afterall. But that aside, this shit rules.