Scorching the Retinas – The films of Bruno Mattei

Island of the Living Dead

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Island of the Living Dead (2006)
Italy
Director – Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn)
Writers/Screenplay – Antonio Tentori, Giovani Paolucci and Bruno Mattei
Runtime – 98 minutes

 

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For those who are new to the films of Bruno Mattei, like myself, an introduction. Island of the Living Dead was the last feature Bruno Mattei completed before his passing in 2007. His filmography is vast, diverse, and much like Joe D’Amato, he has also worked under a plethora of pseudonyms touching upon soft core, exploitation, Nunsploitation, drama, adventure, science fiction/fantasy, Caligula/Nero Emperor debauchery films and the cannibalism genres (although some twenty years after their heyday).

He’s most famous for a film entitled Virus (1980) aka Hell of the Living Dead, Night of the Zombie and Zombie: Creeping Flesh. And with as many aka’s as that you can betcha’ it placed high on Thatcher’s Banned/ ”Nasties” list back in the day.

Ironically, His output oftentimes overlaps those more renowned in the same genre, both in theme and substance. Zombie 3 (1988) is an instance where he stepped in to finish a Fulci feature when the original director was forced to depart due to suffering a stroke.

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Alright, so this is a film shot somewhat recently hoping to capitalize on the aura and feel of an 80’s old school classic. The giveaways; well for one the copyright date, the names in the credits changed to give it more a European feel, but other than that it boasts a made for television, on the cheap, feel (much like a vintage Troma feature) down to the font, boldness and even the position of the credits themselves.

The movies opening scene introduces an island with a slight problem. Apparently, the locals have tired of the foreigner influence and rather than use the age-old trick of poisoning the visitors (or boring them to death with interpretive dance and the like) they decide instead to reanimated corpses via magick of the Dark variety. It works. Too damn well in fact, the undead overrun the Isle. One would think rifles would help, they don’t, but they do provide a decent enough head explosion to perk the interest of the Gorehounds among the audience early on. A character who could be a vampire is the last to be seen (I’m not sure where he figures into things, perhaps we’ll find out later?) before the scene comes to a close.

(trailer courtesy of SeverinFilms Official)

Cut to present times. A fishing boat, a crew (complete with a distinguished English gent) whose acting abilities are close only to the quality of the dubbing (it’s hilarious) and a treasure pulled from the sea. But the boat becomes damaged as the sea vomits its disgust at having the film produced upon it. The crew soon find themselves on an undersized dingy and soon upon an island with plenty of bushes (huh?) But that’s not all, there’s also ruins, a graveyard and a rotting looking chap in a Cavalier helmet who likes to grin at the camera (this makes me wonder what he’s been up to for the last four hundred years).

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The crew split. A nod to “Night of the Living Dead” and “They’re coming to get you Barbara” in not so many words is blatant but it’s the wait until the corpse is upon you until you scream and move which makes me snort with laughter. It gets better; rather than run the poor lady struggles as if to fend off an unwanted snog. The chap grunts, as if to say “well, what do you expect. It’s not as if we have mouthwash or even toothpaste, it hasn’t been invented yet or transported to this island yet”.

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Gimme a kiss

Her companions scramble I’m sure they don’t want corpse lips on their bits either but he’s a persistent bloke who’s rather good at taking punishment from an adversary whose Kung-Fu is only slightly better than his acting.

Meanwhile the ships mechanic is encountering problems of his own. A legion of round helmeted troops has arisen from the sea, without appearing wet in the slightest, to infest the engine room. The ship, I’m guessing probably the most expensive prop in the movie, goes up with a boom, crackle and pop and the crew deliberate amongst themselves as to the reasoning why without really considering the likelihood that the mechanic is still alive.

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This is in Latin, but it’s OK. I know Latin

The remainder of the team find themselves deep underground in the company of ancient texts and wouldn’t you know it one of them reads Latin. One spells out doom whilst the others are fancifully jacketed Readers Digest special Editions most probably pilfered from the nearest Goodwill.

Soon, our heroes find themselves crowded with the likes of various types who shambles and display very little in the way of rhythm. I’m guessing within their four hundred years of solitude that they didn’t learn the Salsa, the Rumba or the Macarena. Luckily the script calls for our heroes to remain mostly unscathed. They advance accompanied by the type of soundtrack one would expect to find within a fantasy-based RPG and find themselves in a fortified building, a place of worship of sorts. The locals however remain hungry.

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C’mon just a nibble. It’s been four-hundred years fer Christs sake!

The night has magically transformed into day (kudos to the continuity department, perhaps their lunch break overran?) and our band of intrepid treasure hunters are off again. Those ominous tunnels won’t discover themselves, right? One contains a plethora of doors, one with a handle which begs to be broken whilst the other a sanctuary of sorts.

Probably the best line of the movie (“Oh shit, I think it might be too risky to go this way”) takes place at about the point when one of the crew discovers that it wasn’t altogether too wise to tap a mysterious cloaked figure on the shoulder (but it was in the script) “Father, Father” only to realize ‘he’ might have in fact, been a ‘she’ after all (wrong movie? Whoops).

Traipsing through the caverns our heroes soon happening upon plentiful homage to both Edgar Allen Poe (‘Montel Agro’ (sp) a wine from one of his tales?) and Lovecraft (one of the mirrors needs a little attention as it shows a reflection which is most definitely not a reflection).  A disgruntled head in a trunk full of gold is a surprising touch as too is the brief swashbuckling score. A spot of guitar fretboard tinkering is intriguing, do corpses still have sufficient dexterity in their extremities to pull off the flamenco?

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However, it’s a scene sporting blatant Fulci (Zombie) worship, an eyeball and a wicked looking splinter, without a ‘money shot’ which might leave the majority puzzled.

Ghostly shenanigans and sudden Misfit (the band) in appearance acolyte silliness adds to a story with more holes in it than a string vest. Greed as it often does override survival instincts and the survivors continue about their merry way in utter disregard of their safety. The Isle opens up with its backstory using handy dandy stock footage from the 1600’s (wait what) and leaves only those with very scant attention still confused as to what’s going on. There’s an epidemic, the people are cursed with eternal undeath, blah, blah, blah.

Madness and hallucination prevail as it often does in times such as these and the crew start attacking each other. This threat is nothing however compared to the sudden appearance of a horde of vampires in corpse paint who’ve been hiding in plain sight the entire time.

island of the living dead conquistadors

They’ve been here the entire time. Did you know this?

Will Sharon, Snoopy, (Captain) Kirk (Where’s Spock?), Mark, Balboa, Max and Fred survive or at least make it off the island? How is it that their names seem pulled out of a hat dedicated to 80’s celluloid and/or cartoon worship? Why does Sharon remind me of the usually-naked-in-most-films-she stars-in; Laura Gemser? Is this in part homage to The Tombs of the Blind Dead series as well to Romero? Does anyone care, is there anyone even still watching at this point? Admittedly, this is rather silly but the ending boasts a lady with surprisingly adept scythe skills (where can I find a class?), a blazing inferno and a horde of zombies who grunt and groan like lovable (but don’t fed them after midnight, or get them wet) creatures from a Joe Dante helmed Christmas movie.

island of the living dead im not a gremlin

No one has ever called me a Gremlin, before now

Recommended only for those who have an adoration for the very worst, this is a feature overflowing with horrific one-liners, a script which a middle school-ager would be proud to take home to their parents, cardboard acting, makeup comprised of caked on foundation, obvious green screen effects aplenty and not nearly as much naked flesh on display as one might assume. But as much as I like to complain (I’m rather good at it) it has a certain something which can’t be denied. Is it the fact that it tries so hard to be what it so definitely isn’t? It deserves huge props in that regard, it fails but it’s delightful to watch it do so. Or is it that it’s just horrid and reminds me such of that which as a child I couldn’t get enough of. An element which dragged me into the realm of cult celluloid. I’m not entirely sure, but it has something which kept me watching, unable to caress the STOP button.

bad taste bear goes boom!

You were expecting a pic plucked from an early Peter Jackson film?

I can’t recall the amount of times I quoted, yelling furiously at the screen, Bad Taste, whilst witnessing the antics of those in distress. Seriously…”the head shots the only true stoppa!”.

Watch this at your peril, the cover art is better than the movie itself and the pictures displayed on the back jacket about say it all without one actually watching the film. But God help me, I want more and I have four more to sit through, so be prepared for I might scribble upon each in turn in my own good time.

Cult

Abrasive Audio…to Soothe the Senses Part 37

headbangin metalhead

As the year draws to a close, I must come to the realization that there’s a whole bunch of tunage warranting discovery that’ll I won’t get to. Perhaps next year when the cycle begins anew? But for now, in this installment, I’ll concentrate on releases which have been unleashed within these past twelve months.

intoxicate

Intoxicate – Cross Contamination
(Sweden)
Release – November/15/2019
Downfall Records
Against PR
https://downfallrecords.bandcamp.com/album/cross-contamination
ARTWORK – 66

At first glance I thought this image depicted a glowing sword plunged into the planet. I don’t believe it is, but rather a vial of some kind dispensing a dastardly vile concoction to pollute the planets air (am I close? I’m not sure but it sounds better than “a sword in the planet”) This is utterly 90’s in its overall vibe, nevertheless I remain intrigued.

Mattias (Intoxicate’s vocalist) commented, adding;

I just wanted to comment on your take on the “Cross Contamination” cover. You are close :). It actually is “a sword in a planet”, sort of. First, the album title should, of course, be interpreted as “the cross contaminates”, which then points to the green contaminant leaking into the planet. Second, Christianity, as a religion, has a history of war and violence to gather influence and power, hence the sword. Third, the “sword in a planet” should be interpreted as a globus cruciger, which is a part of many christian countries’ royal regalia and a general christian symbol of power. Last, I’m happy that the 90’s vibe shines through. That’s thrash for me, a bit obvious in it’s cultural expression and incorporating social commentary.

Now I feel silly, not in the slightest offended, but truly honored that the band actually took the time to read this, comment and appreciate my thoughts.

FIRST TRACK – 84

Not knowing what to expect though reading that Intoxicate were one of, if not, the first thrash bands in Sweden I’ll admit I had expectations. But I’m pleased to say they were met. This is old school energetic thrash which attains face melting pace in instances though gets there at a controlled rate rather than all-out speed instantly for gratification and speeds sake. A great opener that’ll perk the interest of the thrash aficionado and newcomer alike.

INITIAL LISTEN – 83

Sporting dynamic rhythms, clever, exciting, arrangements and a fluidity resulting from experience and a myriad of influence, originating from the roots of the scene, there’s no denying that these guys know exactly what they’re doing, although I find it puzzling that this is their first full-length in so many years. Stylistically this covers a wide swath of the thrash arena from earlier Anthrax output to mosh pit-inducing Exodus pace to the gruff, heavily accented, vocal approach and melody of Amon Amarth and a fair few in-between. This has the potential to appeal to a wide audience. A quality album which offers a great deal to grin about, an album I will revisit.

Favorite Tracks; Caravan of Hate, Cross Contamination, Eyes Unwilling, Posthumous Posthuman,

FFO; Exodus, Amon Amarth.

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Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas
(USA)
Release – November/29/2019
Metal Blade Records
https://cattledecapitation.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 92

Time is running out and Atlas, brandishing a scythe like our good ole friend the Grim Reaper, is about done. This screams a message which is more than clear to all and should come as no surprise to those accustomed to the message the band perpetrates, and have for years.

FIRST TRACK – 93

Like a scene plucked from Blade Runner or an alternate future reality scribbled upon in many a dystopian novel, the introduction encapsulates a myriad of (audio) news clippings portent the planets demise. Once it climaxes one is hit with unmitigated intensity courtesy of blast beats, hyper speed fretwork and Travis Ryan’s vicious throat issuances. This is quite unlike that which I have experienced before from under the bands stable, I’m left open-mouthed and in shock. To be Frank this is quite the opener and I’m dripping (yes, that kind of excited) with anticipation for the remainder of the album.

INITIAL LISTEN – 93

Prog/tech/grind/brutal death you can call this what you will but there’s no argument that this is inhumanely crafted with both precision and intelligence. A part of me believes the style has changed somewhat (although my experience with the bands output is inadequate to state such a thing) accommodating that which sounds more like Strapping Young Lad in the “City” album albeit with a speed which puts rocket powered devices (does Granma’s “Man toy” drill attachment count?) to shame. Regardless, the audio herein is akin to an injection of adrenaline to the system, this makes the listener want to move with the same excited intensity of a monkey who’s just learned he is about to inherit a banana plantation. Like an amorphous entity the music shifts from one stylistic element to another with an effortless fluidity which is stunning to behold. Progressive passages meld with technical prowess and a pace which varies dramatically throughout both the album and every track making for a listening experience to please those with discernible tastes and those with open minds. I’ll admit the band was rather hit and miss for me before now but with this between the ears my opinion upon them has flipped ass over tit and my appreciation for them has blossomed. No matter one’s opinion of what the band preaches, though it getting easier and easier to see their point of view, there’s no argument that this is a release which will carve a great many grins across the vast extreme audio landscape.

Favorite Tracks; stunning from start to finish, my digits refuse to mention one from an album which has left such an impact from the very first listen.

FFO: Strapping Young Lad, Dying Fetus, Aborted, Benighted, Strapping Young Lad.

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Chamber of Torture – Necrodomain
(Russia)
Release – November/ 15/2019
Eclectic Productions
Grand Sounds PR
https://chamberoftorture.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 64

I’m not even sure what I’m looking at to be honest, is this a dead body sprayed over with graffiti? Props however must be given to the band for taking the gamble to go against the traditional flow of posting a grotesque image be it comic imagery or realism upon their cover.

FIRST TRACK – 83

With zero introduction, other than vocals and a slow pace rather than a piano, classical silliness or synth created atmosphere, this track makes an impression. It picks up pace around the mid-way point and earns the key to the city of Groovesville.  Rhythms are dangerously addictive and accompanied by the Barnes (early Cannibal Corpse) esque vocal approach the combination is one which’ll make the limbs twitch without consent. A great start from an act I haven’t been introduced to until now.

INITIAL LISTEN – 83

Sludgy, mid-paced old school madness complete with occasional atmosphere and a slight injection of diabolical presence. Far from technical this is more akin to ‘meat and potatoes’ style, old school death, but it makes an impression, keeps the attention until the last note based on its blunt waste little time approach and makes the listener want to move with the undeniable groove it showcases throughout.

Favorite Tracks; Shriveled Stump, Necrocarnage Spree, Degenerated, Consecrated Ground, Human Fertilizer.

FFO; Cannibal Corpse, Jungle Rot.

Revel in Flesh

Revel in Flesh – The Hour of the Avenger
(Germany)
Release – December/6/2019
War Anthem Records
https://war-anthem-records.bandcamp.com/album/the-hour-of-the-avenger
ARTWORK – 85

There’s truly archaic about this image. Drenched in a crimson filter it depicts a cloaked skeleton of sorts overseeing a domain about to feel his wrath. He comes complete with a wicked looking scythe am I therefore to assume he is the Reaper?

FIRST TRACK – 92

There’s Swedish death and then there’s this (although they are from Germany). A wicked cross of MK2, the old trusted influences, and an undeniable injection of “Storm of the Lights Bane” Dissection and… something else which is quite undefinable yet blistering in its (instant jaw hitting the dirt) impact.

INITIAL LISTEN – 94

Boasting a collection of tracks with a slew of stylistic ambiance this album offers a great deal to enjoy. Comforting in its nostalgic familiarity yet seething with an air of superiority. One thinks fondly upon Swedish metal of decades past and this is that but reimagined, polished and slathered with playful menace, melancholy with a production which slays. It doesn’t get better than this folks. I don’t know where Revel in Flesh have been between albums. I only wonder if there’s a location someplace in a remote mountainous region whereupon enigmatic Monks strip one of everything they know only then reeducate one (in the most mysterious ways imaginable) in the true path of Godly extreme audio. For this really is that good!

Favorite Tracks; From start to finish this is orgasmic ear candy, nuff said!

FFO; Dissection, Sortregn, Dismember, Unleashed, Entombed, Nocturnal Hollow, Grave, LIK, Swallow the Sun, Be’lakor.

abeyance

Abeyance – Portraits of Mankind (EP)
(Italy)
Release – November/27/2019
Sliptrick Records
Grand Sounds PR
https://abeyance.bandcamp.com/releases
ARTWORK – 67

A serene landscape boasting a trio of alabaster faces in the foreground and a bird (?) drinking from a puddle. This is admittedly kind of strange, an image which begs for dissection. A dissertation which I’m thinking would include the use of the word ‘emotion’ ad nauseum.  And this really doesn’t give much away in relation to the audio within. Here goes nothing; hitting play.

FIRST TRACK – 81

Dynamic riffage and fluid arrangements which are constantly evolving. Part thrash, part melodic death and part progressive with a somewhat harsh vocal accompaniment. This is a fantastic start from an act with something to prove, and they’re going about it the right way based on the caliber of this track alone, on this their first recorded outing.

INITIAL LISTEN – 82

This is not what I was expecting from the cover’s art. It is however a collection of tunes which keeps the listener interested, a certain familiarity becomes apparent as the album unfolds although it isn’t glaring and doesn’t put one in mind of the act taking from another in order to garner attention. The rhythms are unpredictable and energetic. Ranging from dreamy progressive interludes and classical introductions to faster paced all-out melodic thrash/death passages the album bears a certain diversity which isn’t at all overwhelming but rather fluid and easily acceptable on account of how well the music is pieced together. This is quite the feat admittedly from an act with little history behind them. A youthful vibrancy shines throughout, a pleasing, smirk inducing, ambience, a freshness with an aura which tips the hat to genre standouts of the past, which bodes well for the act’s future. And, if this is any indication of what’s on the horizon expect to hear a great deal more of their name in the near future.

Favorite Tracks; Portrait of Mankind, In Falsehood Dominion, Innerscape,

FFO; Dark Tranquility, Soilwork, In Flames, Paladin.

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Putrid Coffin -Desecrated Tombs (EP)
(Chile)
Release – March/14/2019
La Cripta Metal Shop
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKMtkRjyuAk
ARTWORK – 79

Something is afoot in the graveyard. Candles, romantic music and a fella with a hankering for sexy times with a beauty with no pulse.

FIRST TRACK – 89

A storm in the background, a shovel (in the foreground) a coyote howls to signal a spot of open grave mischief. Then an exquisite old school tone ala early Barney Napalm Death, more groove than one can count on both hands (no matter how big) and a rhythm which is ungodly infectious part grindcore, part brutal mid-tempo death madness. A stunning start to get those into vintage extreme audio schnanigans in the mood.

INITIAL LISTEN – 88

Part infernal menace, part grindcore, part blackened death with the entire mixture blanketed in rhythms which are unfathomably inciteful. Chaotic rumbling riffs, drum salvos which are hard to ignore and a vocal style which is instantly acceptable. It’s safe to say this crawled from the very depths (under cover of night) to bring me to my knees in appreciation (get that mind outta the gutter!) Here’s hoping others noticed this release’s ‘might’ also. This isn’t melodic in the traditional sense, it isn’t pretty, but it hits hard and leaves a mark!

Favorite Tracks; Hypnotic from start to finish.

FFO; Terrorizer, early Morbid Angel.

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Extinction – The Apocalypse Mark
(Italy)
Release – October/18/2019
Revalue Records
https://extinction2.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 75

“Alright. Has everyone got the new iPhone? Let’s sync”… “Did I mention your soul is now owned by a huge conglomerate and…me?”

A darkly humorous take on the “Number of the Beast” from a Biblical “End of Times” standpoint.

FIRST TRACK – 81

The albums newsreel introduction is the gist of the album. An intriguing and scary insight into where technology is taking us and the similarities to that foretold in the Bible. The first track is crunchy, no fills thrash with a somewhat simplistic mid-tempo rhythm which is hard to ignore. Accompanied by growled vocals the product is one on the thrash/death fence and makes for a fantastic attention grabber to prime one for the audio to follow.

INITIAL LISTEN – 78

Energetic thrash rhythms and fantastic leads. A familiar sound but these guys make it their own with enough movement and excitement to keep the intrigue level elevated. Fans of thrash/death will want to lay ears upon this and those missing an act of similar ilk, Dethklok, will want to add this to their collection.

Favorite Tracks; The Apocalypse Mark, No Crime in Paradise, Staged Terror Attacks.

FFO; Malevolent Creation, Jungle Rot, Sodom, Six Feet Under, Dethklok.

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Crest of Darkness – The God of Flesh
(Norway)
Release – December/6/2019
My Kingdom Music
https://crestofdarkness.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 84

A corpse painted individual sacrificing a damsel against an alien skull backdrop and a crimson cloth which boasts apparently near endless dimensions. Gothic elements collide head on with blackened metal qualities, I am curious indeed!

FIRST TRACK – 91

Speed encrusted Blackened metal with ‘force of nature’ vocals and a delightful touch of crust. A damn impressive audio concoction to be sure! Be prepared for this will yank you from what you’re currently doing and toss you into a maelstrom of viciousness. An excellent start!

INITIAL LISTEN – 81

Following the initial couple of tracks the album takes a dive into diverse territories to showcase a variety of styles one probably wouldn’t expect, especially based on the first two tracks on offer. A fan of their previous work might have an idea of where the band might take the listener but as a virgin to their audio I’m rather taken aback. Doom sensibilities collide with speed metal, heavy metal and a touch of Avant Garde and sometimes all in a single track. Injected synth passages (in the track “Forgotten” which display cult celluloid influences and Fulci esque touches) elevate this into realms unquestionably unclassifiable. The mixture might put a few traditionalists off but for those willing to give this a few listens with an open mind it blossoms into an exciting, unpredictable, menacing audio experience enveloped in an undeniable Gothic presence which might often make you reminisce on vintage metal albeit with a sinister accompaniment. Keep an open mind, leave your assumptions at the door and this will be a listen you’ll want to discover again and again.

Favorite Tracks; The God of Flesh, The Child With no Head, Salvation in Hell.

FFO; Rebel Wizard, Emperor, Ancient.

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Abigail Williams – Walk Beyond the Dark
(Finland/USA)
Release – November/15/2019
Blood Music
https://blood-music.bandcamp.com/album/walk-beyond-the-dark
ARTWORK – 92

Although I feel like I’ve seen this image before, many a time, this still fascinates me and serves as an outstanding doom-laden accompaniment to any album with atmospheric tendencies in the extreme audio spectrum.

FIRST TRACK – 91

Epic and somewhat experimental within what many perceive as the black metal style. But don’t let that put you off, this overflows with atmosphere and majesty with plenty of nods to that which is termed ‘traditional’, even though the genre is fractured into as many shards as a vintage vase falling from an unsteady grasp. A brilliant introduction to the album and the band itself (for me). This leaves me unfathomably eager for what’s to follow.

INITIAL LISTEN – 91

Hypnotizing from beginning to end this utilizes both traditional and non-traditional means to attain the heights which it transports its gob-stricken listeners. Violins as well numerous other classical instruments accompany guitars and a somewhat black/death vocal approach accompaniment as the album whisks its audience away to realms which one might expect under the guise and camouflage of “black metal”. Beauty cavorts with viciousness and black metal sensibilities frolic with folk, doom, progressive and even the occasional traditional heavy metal element to form an ocean of atmosphere which like the nature of water itself is harrowing, melancholic and ferocious. The whole is utterly palpable in its effectiveness. Prepare to have your pre conceived notions of the genre shattered. I honestly had no idea this is what the band offered in terms of audio lest I would have subscribed to their output many moons ago. Expect to see this upon many a #YearEndList.

Favorite Tracks; mesmerizing from start to finish, it would be unfair to mention merely a handful of tracks when the album plays at such an elevated level such as this.

FFO; Uada, Wayfarer, (newer) Dark Throne, Opeth, Amorphis, Swallow the Sun.

condemned to dream

Condemned to Dream – Black Emerald Cold
(USA)
Release – November/22/2019
Ancient Mythos Entertainment
https://condemnedtodream.bandcamp.com/releases
https://open.spotify.com/album/7N2t0jQluDzxKUW1phHvBk?autoplay=true&v=L
ARTWORK – 78

Something is in the water. Although what, exactly, is unclear. Something ancient.

FIRST TRACK – 73

Crashing death core riffs atop a bed of pummeling drums and a cavalcade of hooks sure to grab the attention. Sweeping melodic breaks are a great touch accompanied by vocals with considerable angst. A good start that’s not what I was expecting, this is a tad closer to death core than death based on the first track. However, it’s utterly listenable.

INITIAL LISTEN – 76

I’m pleased to see that these guys are from my old stomping ground; Tucson, Az. With that being said I’ll try to remain unbiased. These guys have been busy; this is their second full-length this year. With a style which includes forays into melodic waters, vocals with angst and passages akin to what most assume death core offers this sounds like another run of the mill, every day, release. I’m glad to state this isn’t. There’s a quality here which is undeniable, a flow and professionalism which sets this apart from the herd. It’s surprisingly infectious and sports rhythms which traverse both melodic and death core territories, and even on occasion touch upon a style akin to Slam. Although aggressive in overall feel the feel is that which many discovering the genre can easily appreciate and those already deep within its grasp will have no problems appreciating.

Keep an ear out for these folks, with a dedication and quality such as theirs I expect great things on the horizon.

Favorite Tracks; The Yawning Depths Inside, The World Offered, Lost, Before the Altar of Victims and Fools.

FFO; Black Dahlia Murder, Arsis, At the Gates.

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Fleshcrawl – Into the Catacombs of Flesh
(Germany)
Release – November/29/2019
Apostasy Records
https://fleshcrawl.bandcamp.com/album/into-the-catacombs-of-flesh
ARTWORK – 72

Yea, I think I took a wrong turn. I was looking for the bathroom, which this definitely isn’t.

There’s no confusion as to what manner if audio is encapsulated here. Unless of course you were brought here by mistake. Then there’s little hope. Prepare to enter the catacombs of extreme audio.

FIRST TRACK – 84

Undeniably (Gothenburg) Swedish in tone and executed with passion with enough bounce to have one pinging from one side of the room to the other in absolute glee. The production thus far allows each instrument to breathe, there’s definite menace and presence here. The drums are at the forefront of the mix, like a sinister wizard with diabolical intent to enthrall the audience. I’m hooked already.

INITIAL LISTEN – 85

Fleshcrawl are back! Their last full length, “Structures of Death”, was released in 2007. Channeling “Massive Killing Capacity” era Dismember and a dirge which brings to mind the best of Bolt Thrower while boasting more pronounced D-beat, crust elements and less ‘clean’ melodies the band have carved an album sporting stellar production (heavy on the drums giving it that desired oomph) which is instantly welcomed with eager ears. Hardly classed as homage since they’ve been around since 87′ though under different monikers (which both had to be changed as they were both monikers of acts “Morgoth” and “Suffocation”, with renowned reputations) this is a reinvigorated upgrade. A Fleshcrawl for the coming decade offering up the classic Swedish MK2 sound with a freshness for the next generation to cherish as their parents did before them.

If you’ve yet to take the plunge into the Swedish side of death this is a great place to get the feet wet.

Favorite Tracks; Delivers throughout, it’s extremely hard to pick only a few to praise.

FFO; Dismember, Vomitory, Entombed, Nocturnal Hollow, LIK.

memoriam a requiem

Memoriam – Requiem for Mankind
(United Kingdom)
Release – June/21/2019
Nuclear Blast Records
https://willettsio.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 91

Dan Seagraves up to his old archaic mastery eye-widening antics. Nuff said!

FIRST TRACK – 88

Instantly recognizable as Karl Willetts and the sound he’s come to be associated with; an industrial steamroller devastation dirge which has influenced eager musicians the world over. My heads a noddin’ and I’m unceremoniously tossed back many a year to when I originally laid ears upon an album which changed my listening habits dramatically from that moment forth. I don’t honestly know why it’s taken this long to lay ears upon this!

INITIAL LISTEN – 92

The logical progression from “Those Once Loyal” for fans of the legendary Bolt Thrower. This shows Memoriam taking the style to another level, leaps and bounds from their last effort. Injecting the whole shebang with undeniable presence, interwoven veins of ominous melody and passages of groove that which will make the torso move of its own accord. But that’s not all, not by miles. The style itself has been upgraded (taken to a secret facility for a full body upgrade ‘comic book style’ bonus points if you can name the two characters which I’m thinking of) not merely (if it ever was merely just that!) a genius creation of dirge/crust/grindcore now, this is a beast of many facets, a creation to influence a whole new breed of musicians. The album only gets better as it progresses. With an album of a quality such as this the metal community is left stunned and probably pondering where do Karl and crew take us next? Bravo.

#BestofBritish I’m thankful to see my fellow countrymen leading the charge yet again (pun intended).

Favorite Tracks; Shell Shock, Never the Victim, Refuse to be Led, Requiem for Mankind,

FFO; Bolt Thrower, Benediction, Death Kommando, Origin.

Animal - music is meant for sharing

And you shouldn’t… great music is meant to be shared!

This concludes another entry in the ongoing Abrasive Audio series and I already have my sights set on a slew of releases which came out this year to be included in the next installment. But there’s still so many to explore, obviously I won’t get to them all but that’s what #BestofYear lists are for. And I’ve already started to post a few of those, in preparation for my own (if the “event” ever happens).

Until next our paths of audio interest meet, fear not discovery of that which would normally be foreign to the senses.

Cult

Abrasive Audio…to Soothe the Senses – Year End List #2

heavy metal santa
Courtesy of He11fir3

It’s still that time of year, the trees are whispers of their former selves, white stuff is everywhere frustrating even the most seasoned of driver and the pets are indoors reminiscing upon simpler times when it was a damn sight easier to leave a steaming present on the neighbor’s lawn. Hats with bobbles on top are all the rage and yoga pants are packed away, at least until spring.  However, the climax of the year also means End of Year lists, a time when a large number of audiophiles stun their compadres with mention of releases which remain largely unheard though deserve praise from on high. Without further ado, a few words and a myriad of suggestions from an old pal.

The year’s top ten from the mind of He11fir3
(starting with the #1 then working down to #10)

Mirror - Pyramid of Terror

Mirror – Pyramid of Terror

The fact that my AOTY is Heavy Metal and not Black Metal should be enough to let you know that this must be an amazing album. It became an all-time fav, and I know I will be listening to it for the rest of my life.

http://stareatthemirrorandweep.bandcamp.com/album/pyramid-of-terror

Infernal Conjuration – Infernale Metallum Mortis

Everything we don’t have enough of. Evil Death Metal. Knew it was special from the first listen and it has not once caught me “not in the mood”

http://infernalconjuration.bandcamp.com/album/infernale-metallum-mortis

Elegiac – Thirst for Vengeance

Pagan Vicious Black Metal. I found this band this year and it became one of my all-time favorite projects. Bought almost everything he has put out.

http://elegiac.bandcamp.com/album/thirst-for-vengeance

Forgjord - Ilmestykset
Forgjord – Ilmestykset

Hauntingly beautiful and FuckUgly Grim Black Metal. Does everything right to build perfect atmospheres.

http://werewolfrecords.bandcamp.com/album/ilmestykset

Is – Another Side of Existence

Cold Frostbitten Winter Wandering Black Metal. I always hear something new to appreciate and love this album even more with each listen.

http://kareliannokken.bandcamp.com/album/another-side-of-existence

Devil Master – Satan Spits in Children of Light

Punk Attitude, Heavy Metal Influences Great Energy and Black Metal Spirit. I wish it was higher on the list but goddamn this year was like a piano landing on you over and over again.

http://devilmaster.bandcamp.com/album/satan-spits-on-children-of-light

Zeit - Drungsal
Zeit – Drungsal

Black Sludge. Evil Metal Covered in mud. Atmospheric, Dark, Clumpy, Heavy, Pretty, Earthly, Scratchy, Ugly, and very natural sounding.

http://rumsdiezeit.bandcamp.com/album/drangsal

Tanith – In Another Time

70s/80s inspired rock/prog with fantasy themes, like having a whole new world born just for your ears. Russ Tippins is the great Satan.

http://tanithnyc.bandcamp.com/album/in-another-time

Denial of God – The Hallow Mass

Melodic Horror themed black metal. Haunting and Spooky but Tragic and mystical too. Makes me want a fog machine.

http://denial-of-god.bandcamp.com/album/the-hallow-mass

Arnaut Pavle - Arnaut Pavle
Arnaut Pavle – Arnaut Pavle

Chaotic but focused black thrash. Does everything right. Every song has its own power, but the whole thing speeds through with unstoppable fury.

http://arnautpavle.bandcamp.com/album/arnaut-pavle-2

 

Editor’s Note; I believe I’ve heard only of a few of these, this just shows how unfathomably huge the world of extreme audio is and how little I actually get to even though my days are packed to overflowing with tunage.

foehammer metal podcast

Whoops -nearly forgot… He11fir3 is half of the Foehammer Metal Podcast found here

https://www.tumblr.com/search/foehammer

https://www.facebook.com/foehammerpodcast/

and on Instagram.

 

Abrasive Audio…to Soothe the Senses – End of Year Lists (#1)

heavy metal santa

 It’s that time of the year again. The trees are skeletons of their former selves, the malls are packed and wouldn’t you know it ever damn commercial on the television is advertising a product which your child doesn’t need but naturally, wants anyway. It’s Christmas. Fat blokes the world over have a sudden hankering for wriggling adolescent flesh upon their knees and all depending upon one’s penchant for the ludicrous some even attempt to clamber down a chimney. “Dad, why does it smell when I turn the fire on?” And then there’s Hallmark, for this is the ideal time to fill the wife’s head of ideas about how married bliss is supposed to be. But enough about my life, there’s more important things at hand. The best of the year according to whomever scribbled this (obviously). Obviously tastes vary, opinions are vastly varied but fantastic extreme tunage is meant to be shared. So, with that in mind I’ve enlisted the help of a few like-minded friends (fear not, for we aren’t that similar in tastes) to help spread the word.

atomic heartbeep on twitter

To start things off; this list heading from ten towards the years absolute mind-melting finest is courtesy of Atomic Heartbeep 🖤🤖 (@Drachensturm711 on Twitter)

Elephant Watchtower-The Church Is at Fault

(Independent)

Elephant Watchtower

https://elephantwatchtower.bandcamp.com/album/the-church-is-at-fault

Hypnotic Progressive Death Metal that often branches into long, almost ambient passages.

Iapetus-The Body Cosmic

(Independent)

https://iapetus1.bandcamp.com/album/the-body-cosmic

Truly epic Progressive Death, patience is a must, as several songs are over 12 minutes in length. Absolutely worth the effort.

Rage of Light-Imploder

(Napalm Records)

https://rageoflight.bandcamp.com/album/imploder

Trance metallers from Switzerland, featuring the incredibly talented vocals of Melissa Bonny. “Mechanicals” is one of the greatest anthems you’ll never hear in a stadium

Cognizance-Malignant Dominion

(Prosthetic Records)

Cognizance

https://cognizance.bandcamp.com/album/malignant-dominion

Clinical, merciless Tech-Death. After several excellent singles and EPs, they finally deliver a full length and it does not disappoint. A fantastic sound lets the brutality shine through

Godeater-All Flesh Is Grass

(Independent)

https://godeateruk.bandcamp.com/album/all-flesh-is-grass

The finest album to come out of Scotland since Korpse’s “Pull the Flood”, a dizzying display of Technical Death Metal

Freedom of Fear-Nocturnal Gates

(EVP Recordings)

freedom of fear

https://evp-recordings.bandcamp.com/album/nocturnal-gates-2

The spirit of Schuldiner lives on in the riffs and solos of these Aussie Prog Death Metallers

Warforged-I: Voice

(The Artisan Era)

https://warforged.bandcamp.com/album/i-voice

Wonderfully varied and composed unpredictable Prog Death. Can be as peaceful as it is utterly demolishing

Hath of rot n ruin

Hath-Of Rot and Ruin

(Willowtip Records)

https://hathnj.bandcamp.com/album/of-rot-and-ruin

Progressive Death Metal that takes the Opeth template and twists it into something much darker and more violent

Equipoise-Demiurgus

https://equipoiseofficial.bandcamp.com/album/demiurgus

An extraordinary gathering of musicians combined to put out an extraordinary album of Progressive/Technical Death Metal. Solos to die for and plenty of them!

And..drum roll please…

plaguebringer

Plaguebringer-Diabolos

(Independent)

https://plaguebringercanada.bandcamp.com/album/diabolos

A genuine force to be reckoned with, exemplary performances from all involved to make the most exhilarating display of Tech Death I’ve heard in a very long time. Phenomenal musicianship, flamboyant songwriting and a creepy atmosphere make this the one I held aloft in an incredibly strong year.

 

Editor’s Note; Huge thanks go out to Atomic for putting this list together. I believe I’ve heard only about a third of this list. It appears I have a little catching-up to do and a slew of audio which is deserved of discovering. But it’s going to have to it until the New Year I have a mountain of audio I need to sift through if I want to formulate a list of my own.

Scorching the Retinas – The Devils Rain

Well, hello again friends. It’s been a hot minute (at least that’s what all the cool cats are saying) but I’m back. At least for a little while, until the neighborhood fully replenishes its pet supply.

brain dead your mother ate my dog

“Your Mother ate my dog!” Cult will be proud that I’ve mentioned a Peter Jackson film in this

*Buuurrppp-!

Excuse me. Whoa – that’s a long hair! I’m betting that was a Friesian? Now, where was I? Sitting comfortably on the indents left by Cult’s ass on his couch, but apart from the obvious. I’m sat here staring at a towering stack of DVD’s. Two in fact. And it appears they might be what’s holding the TV up. It’s obvious which belongs to whom with titles like the Collected Gilmore Girls, Big Bang Season 8, PJ Masks to the rescue, Train to Busan and A Dogs Purpose. Cult has we quite the varied tastes. Naturally, I jest. He lives with a toddler and his wife it’s not hard to guess that he’s a huge fan of children’s programs. But what’s this I spy? Halfway down the stack. A classic, and on remastered Blu Ray (courtesy of Severin); The Devils Rain. This is a chunk of raunchiness I need to rediscover before I hear alarms and the house starts to awaken to find an odd-looking creature on the couch cradling a remote surrounded by various baked goods.

Sans further silliness…

The Devils Rain art.jpg

The Devils Rain (1975)
Director – Robert Guest
Writers – Gabe Essoe, James Ashton and Herald Hopman
Runtime – 86 minutes
Bryanston Distributers, Inc.

Before I start a few useless tidbits of information. Cult likes to tell people this came out on or around his birthday (when he was actually born) much like another of his favorites; Salo; 120 Days in Sodom. This film marked the first feature film starring appearance of John Travolta (one in which he doesn’t dance, sing or wax poetic on a “Royale with cheese”). The films consultor was none other than Anton Levay; the High Priest of the Church of Satan. Without further ado what say we hit play.

(courtesy of SeverinFilmsOfficial)

Tormented screams of suffering and wicked imagery by Hironimus Bosch open the feature to supply that truly unsettling feeling only a ten-hour marathon of The Golden Girls can effectively provide. The opening scene ends in a neato segway and introduces the Shatner family (yea, that’s not their name but it’s a damn sight easier to remember than Preston!) The lady is in hysterics and her companion, an old codger barely inches from falling into his own six-foot-deep final resting place, has trouble setting down her cuppa’ without spilling the while damn thing everywhere. Enter William (he’s understandably younger here) with the bad news, delivered in his typical theatrical fashion, that a storm has washed away the bridge. (Sure, Dad will be fine, but what about that helicopter the producers have? Couldn’t we borrow it?)

the devils rain full bar

This man can’t hold his liquor.

There’s a knock at the door and some fellow with a melted face mumbles something about a book before he collapses (therein lies the problem with an all-day open bar on set). The family looks on as the poor fellow spouts something about Satan (what-!) and continues his degradation into goo. But they don’t seem perturbed in the slightest at his mention of the Dark Lord only that his clothes might need a stain treatment before they hit the main cycle. Oh, and something about a “book”.

Ole Shat heads decides to head out (with a handy Luger in tow) but only at the insistence from his mother that he wear an amulet, which makes him look like a true Baller. He doesn’t get far. Turning back, he finds his mother’s companion hogtied, upside down, and his mother missing (but he was only gone two minutes, if that!)

At this point the film has a slight western feel to it, lots of lingering shots of desert vistas, rocks and cloud formations. The soundtrack is dramatic enough to send a High School drama teach running to the hills but it’s strangely effective.

the-devils-rain-borgnine-hail-satan.jpg

Hail Satan! He can kick your puny Gods ass!

Ole Shat arrives at a ghost town whereupon he encounters Ernst Borgnine and his crazy eyebrow pets. It is at the steps of an abandoned looking church that Shat and Borgnine strike a deal. “Your faith against mine”. The crazy eyebrow guy wants the book (it must be important) whereas Shat merely wants his parents back (but, why? I don’t for the life of me get this plot device).

A conflict ensues in which both argue over Shays given name. Is it Fife or Preston? It’s a battle of the ages, a battle of the amulets. But Fife/Preston has a gun and he isn’t afraid to put plentiful holes in those without eyes. And wouldn’t you know it one of them is seated in his car. He’s truly F-ed!

Jump to another scene. A Doctor Richards experiments with assorted Preston family members in order to better understand brain waves or some such nonsense.

the devils rain I can see the future

I can see the future! Sure dear whatever you say.

The scene climaxes with a scream, apparently the while brain wave experimental thing has turned Miss Preston into some form of clairvoyant. Skerritt (another Preston) receives a troubling note. “Something has happened to my family”. He leaves upon a mission, cue another Nova’s (a classic car with a V8 which drinks more liquid than an excitable youth upon their virgin discovery of soda) depletion from the car pool.

Back to Shat. He’s laid out on a table sporting sufficient weeping scars to send a pharmacist running for the ‘good stuff’ but it isn’t over. Apparently, he’s tied to a cross and the bastards aren’t satisfied with merely torturing him “Where’s the book?” They want to invert him in true black metal fashion (cue vintage Venom tunes).

the devils rain shatner on a table

Spock. Help me Spock!

Skerritt and companion arrive at the church in the middle of nowhere, but it’s too late all the cookies have been eaten. However, they did leave wax “Lookit, it’s the same as was on the porch.”

A loud bang causes out heroes to look outside. Their car is now naught but a blue metal fireball. Enter stage left a familiar vehicle but it’s headed right for them. Following a spot of cat and mouse action the pair corner the assailant. But what the F-! He has no eyes (the look is one which makes me ponder upon the Shatner mask and the Halloween films, is this from whence the influence came, I wonder if anyone has ever asked?). Is this a common theme in this film, or what? Skerritt’s companion utilizes her clairvoyant skills and witnesses a party of sorts dating back centuries in which a bunch of pilgrims fight the might of the heavens, and the townships priest, whilst arguing over themselves about the whereabouts of “The Book”. It is in this scene that the Fife/Preston curse is explained. The pair get captured, Skerritt becomes part of a black robed parade (isn’t that a Chemical Romance track?) And his companion falls prey to the same trick utilized in the original Children of the Corn, the ol’ bad guy popping up in the back seat of a moving car trick.

the deviuls rain borgnine as satan

Boo-!

Borgnine transforms into a goat character, is he Satan? (we may never know) with a wicked set of gnarly horns but Skerritt manages to escape the ritualistic scenario and returns home but not before running through one poor fellow with a pitchfork and tossing another, also chasing him, from a flight of stairs.

He manages to find his good Doctor friend and convinces him to join him in his endeavors (I’m sure a case of beer helped sway the decision). Following the script, he returns to the ghost town church and makes an interesting discovery. Apparently, you can store souls in a contraption that looks like a portable television set with a handle which has an ominously appearance, much like Devils horns. As luck would have it the eyeless rabble are still in need of supplementary worship. They return, Skerritt does what he does best (other than sport a great looking ‘tach) and for some reason the church suddenly loses part of its roof. A hole in which the storm finds its way and then the movie ends. Nope, I didn’t forget the best part.

the devils rain gif

A whole ten minutes of bubbling, oozing, flesh melting action which makes Rick Baker’s The Incredible Melting Man seem pale in comparison, although the effects aren’t quite on the same level they are effective. Most of the ‘melting’ takes place in the rain (not even the finest brolly will save you from The Devils Rain). Did I mention when the acolytes get shot, they don’t bleed, they ooze with something akin to a thick “Slurpy” orange liquid, which is often green. One could even call it a diabolical rainbow. Add to this a place of worship immolation which will make most Kvlt black metal fans salivate in appreciation and you have a film which lives up to its Drive-In cult status. Did I mention the ending is kinda silly, it’s one final twist (and the only part I won’t ruin and narrate ‘play by play’)?

the devils rain lobby card

A lobby card in typical 70’s raunchy fashion 

So, was this any good? It was entertaining, I’ll give it that. The soundtrack was top notch, if a little over dramatic, but it did its job and added to the scenes which demanded a little extra, it even adding to several which didn’t. The cast list reads surprisingly well which leaves me pondering on whether this was a ‘regretted role’ by any involved. Don’t get me wrong, this is hardly a bad film it’s just not run of the mill, in any regard. Sure, there’s a slew of religious persecution flicks from around the same era, even a few which are more risqué (the XXX/horror scene was taking off in a big way at the time, or so I’ve heard) some (Mark of the Devil, 1970, and its sequel, 1973, come to mind) which linger on images depicting methods of torture to make one admit to being in league with Satan (two nods to Venom in one review. I’m getting good at this!) but none, to my knowledge, which sport the same tone as this. Although, thinking upon it, Race with the Devil released in the same year and more recently Drive Angry (starring Nick Cage) come close. The Devils Rain also has surprising atmosphere and is drenched in palpable menace (these acolytes have a unmerciful zombie vibe though they really don’t seem to do much once they capture you other than bind) not to mention that the films climax is unflinching, undeniably over the top though highly effective in getting the point across that one should be weary on whom they wish to worship, as there might be consequences. I find it odd that I’ve witnessed a truckload of other films bearing an R rating when this has a PG (rating) and includes definitely more sinister values and more than enough melting action on offer.

the devils rain borgnine melting

Screw you Dorothy!

No matter how one slices it, this warrants a view. It’s not half as horrid as many others bearing similar ‘cult’ status (it delivers on its promises) it’s not going to win any awards (actually it did, well one of the actresses in it did) but it is watchable and entertaining. Did I mention people melt? Kinda puts a whole new spin on the term ‘Cuban for a cannibal’, right? Probably not, but it’s a damn sight better than a Dad joke.

devils rain misfit records vinyl

I hear the alarms chirping.

I’m outta here, I gotta scramble. Until next we meet.

-B

Whoops, nearly forgot there was a Misfits album released in 2011 with much the same title and some truly stunning art accompanying its vinyl format. I’ll leave it here.

 

Abrasive Audio…to Soothe the Senses – Part 36

headbangin metalhead

As the year draws to its close, I’m left pondering upon all the releases I know I’ve missed. With that in mind I’ve included a Recc. from an individual who demands a ‘follow’ on social media based on the priceless “services” he offers the metal community at large. Obviously, it’s hard to know where to look, or turn to, for releases which warrant investigation when there is such an immeasurable amount released on a week by week basis. I try to do my part but I pale in comparison to that which this individual, a generous Australian fellow indeed, covers on a daily basis in his prolific posts. Without further ado…

Carnifliate - Disgusting Festivities.jpg

Carnifliate – Disgusting Festivities
(Slovenia)
Release – October/23/2019
Self-Released
Qabar PR
https://carnifliate.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 76

Odd, creepy and deranged are words which come to mind upon setting the eyeballs upon this art. This is a rather unsettling party atmosphere to say the least. I’m glad I tossed my invite.

FIRST TRACK – 81

Grinding death, blast beats, Slam elements, somewhat technical riffage and rhythms which immediately impale the listener with unquestionable curiosity. And all executed with surprising tightness. Add a diverse vocal attack and this is a fantastic start to an album from an act I’ve only just now been introduced to.

INITIAL LISTEN – 79

Channeling the unpredictable dizzying nature of grindcore, adding to it ferocious brutal death elements and a smidgen of technicality Carnifliate have somehow managed to create an album which is intriguing and dynamic in comparison to those in the same genre which is fast becoming far beyond overcrowded. As a debut this is far and beyond that which is expected boasting a production that certainly aids in its overall appreciation. Showcasing a precision which appears beyond the bands relatively short existence rhythms are fast furious and evolve at a pleasing pace certain to place an ever-widening smirk on the listeners face and set festival crowds alight in a frenzy. The vocal style is varied; ranging from guttural values, a hardcore esque approach and assorted occasional pig squeals sporting a quality that which fans of Benighted are sure to salivate over. Fun from beginning to end this is sure to perk the interest of fans of melodic brutal death/grindcore who are in the market for new audio to scar the place between the ears.

Favorite Tracks; Fist Class Cunt, Fried in Fat, Paraphilitic Infantilism, Compel Insemination.

FFO; Benighted, Fleshless, Aborted, Dying Fetus.

MXD Endurance

MXD – Endurance
(Switzerland)
Release – November/1/2019
Tenacity Music
Against PR
https://mxdmusic.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 77

A purple Worm Ouroboros encircles a demonic visage against a shape (which may or nay not be mystical in context) with many angles and sharp pointy edges. This grabs the attention though really gives little away in regards to what manner of audio one is about to place between the ears.

FIRST TRACK – 74

Whoa, this is a little different than what I normally set upon the senses. Synth elements collide with an introduction which includes an everyday busy street aura (the backing up of trucks, a honking of a moped) and a filthy industrial tone takes over. Infectious guitar riffs complement an audio landscape and vocal accompaniment (reminiscent of British Goth Rock) which one might expect to hear in a Gothic nightclub or on a soundtrack to an edgy 90’s movie. This is a damn sight more listenable than I was imagining, with zero introduction. I am intrigued, onward…

INITIAL LISTEN – 79

Varied in its approach this album drags the listener through a varied audio landscape with a backdrop of vastly differing influence and a terrain which varies from hypnotic smooth, futuristic drone, cinematic soundtrack, deviant soundbites to jagged razor wire. The mind reels with similarities to other artists as it leaves an impact often settling upon Ministry, Prodigy, Rammstein and various others whose names flutter upon the synapses only to be recollected in the most obscure of moments. Certainly not for those who prefer audio which fits easily in predetermined parameters this is recommended for those who can accept experimentationalism with little complaint. Although with that in mind this isn’t wildly Avant Garde or of the quality which a small fraction of society will want to pin to a wall in order that they may lay their college degrees to work and argue over what it actually symbolizes. This is drenched in an undeniable dark tone that’s often grandiose in nature, it isn’t what one might expect though does exhibit elements which will do naught but grab the attention as the album seeps into the part of the brain labeled slow- burn appreciation. Far from what usually bounces between the ears I must admit I’m liking this; the dark humor is a nice touch although I could do without the injected, occasional, urban element (much like anything noted here that’s a personal preference). Step away from the norm, broaden your musical horizons and give this a listen.

Favorite Tracks; Eraser, Ain’t Dead Yet, Sisyphus, Black Metal Shopping List.

FFO; Ministry, Rob Zombie, Prodigy, Rammstein.

Unbounded Terror - Faith in Chaos

Unbounded Terror – Faith in Chaos
(Spain)
Release -January/2/2020
Xtreem Music
https://xtreemmusic.bandcamp.com/album/faith-in-chaos
ARTWORK – 72

Seraphim and Demonic beings fighting across a fiery landscape. Is this what happens when Granma invokes house rules in Monopoly and then loses? All hell breaks loose.

FIRST TRACK – 75

From a placid to an energized heartbeat introduction (a nod to the bands recent resurgence from a 26 year slumber) a dirge slathered mid-tempo groove rhythm awakens, an Old School approach which doesn’t in the slightest break any new ground for the genre, but it does make an impression and gets the limbs a twitchin’.

INITIAL LISTEN – 81

(Put this in initial listen) This album took twenty-six years to come to fruition following prompting from rabid fans and a reignited passion. The band hold the honor of releasing g the first death metal release in Spain (on various formats) in 92′. And now this. Huge riff, mid-tempo melodic brutality with more groove than a treasured vinyl. This might be meat and potatoes, somewhat simplistic but it hits the spot! Showcasing rhythms which range from plodding Candlemass doom to dirge laden Bolt Thrower with an OSDM vocal style (Willetts/Ingram) to match.

Favorite Tracks; Hiding from the Light, Hated in Hell, They Will Come from the Pain, Engulfed by the Gods.

FFO; Gorefest, Benediction, Jungle Rot.

CRS - The Collector of Truths

CRS – The Collector of Truths
(Mexico)
Release – December/6/2019
Concreto Records
Dewar PR
https://play.google.com/music/preview/B4dzyhyaiyuessiqvz2w7w6vznu?play=1
https://www.iheart.com/artist/crs-cirrosis-32507413/albums/the-collector-of-truths-81576855/?autoplay=true
ARTWORK – 76

Tentacles, babes in the woods and an ominous looking milky liquid which I will refrain from commenting on in a juvenile manner.

FIRST TRACK – 74

Crunchy riffs slightly djent in nature display a tribal, heritage heavy edge forming an aura that’s a shifting mix of Soulfly, Fear Factory and Meshuggah. Diabolical leads are a nice touch to lift this from waters which have been muddied to the point of boredom as of late.

INITIAL LISTEN – 77

What I was assuming to be a rather run of the mill djent influenced chuggery laden release turned out to be far from it. Although it has passages which are saturated in the theme progressive elements run riot, and at times bring to mind Opeth even, in instances, a later Death vibe. Groove and melody rather than brutality is the general theme which runs throughout the album placing this release somewhat on the borders of aggressive thrash/melodic death accompanied by vocals which will appeal to fans of Soulfly/Sepultura. Diverse and surprising this has the potential to grow on the listener and offers something new with each listen. My by qualm is that the vocal style is a tad stagnant, it rarely changes tone I believe this factor may have upped the interest level somewhat.

Favorite Tracks; Tan Lejo de Dios – Nowhere but Here, Resistencia, The Daydreamer Nightmare, I Am the Universe.

FFO; Soulfly, Sepultura, Meshuggah, Fear Factory.

My Funeral - Graveblaster.jpg

My Funeral – Graveblaster (EP)
(Finland)
Release – December/13/2019
Self-Released
Against PR
https://myfuneral.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 70

Instead of a ‘Ghetto-Blaster’ this is a ‘Grave-Blaster’ utilizing a coffin as a huge speaker and tape deck. I get it though I’m not entirely sure what to expect as the logo has an urban slant to it while the album title and the image itself boast somewhat a grindcore/crust vibe. Hitting play…

FIRST TRACK – 71

Melting paint from the walls fast thrash in a similar vein to Germany’s Violent Force, early Kreator and vintage (“Howling Furies”) Anthrax. The vocals, aren’t what’s expected, especially based on the opening “scream”, they’re gruff and lend the music a hardcore edge, whereas ‘gang vocals’ lend it a crossover feel. An interesting start with a mix of styles smashed together giving little away as what to expect from this audio collective.

INITIAL LISTEN – 69

Thrash, speed, crossover, groove, hardcore it’s all here. And sometimes all in the same track. Both ends of the EP are quite different. One is primarily aggressive fast as balls speed metal with a crossover leaning whilst the other is more akin to (newer) Sepultura meets Machine Head meets Hatebreed.

While “Retro Satan” is closer to Exodus thrash in tone and sandwiched between. The audio here is diverse even slightly misleading at times, showcasing a myriad of influence ranging from raunchy metal, speed, thrash, punk and more modern sounds.

Favorite Tracks; Thrash n’ Destroy, Retro Satan.

FFO; Hatebreed, (newer) Sepultura.

Coffin Curse - Ceased to Be

Coffin Curse – Ceased to Be
(Chile)
Release – January/27/2020
Memento Mori
https://coffincurse.bandcamp.com/
ARTWORK – 80

The likelihood of this being from the same hands responsible for the last couple of Drawn and Quartered albums seems highly likely. The image flows with undeniable malevolence and an unfathomable diabolical nature. But it only leaves me wondering; is this how one creates Goulash? And then…who’s left to package it?

FIRST TRACK – 85

Tumbling drums accompany slightly chaotic riffs which brings to mind “Blessed are the Sick” era Morbid Angel. The vocals stand out and top the style off like a rotting cherry. Grindcore esque sensibilities, albeit draped in a sinister tone, bring the track to a close making me even more intrigued as to the audio to follow. A wicked start indeed!

INITIAL LISTEN – 92

Ferocious and filthy draped in undeniable infernal sensibilities. This is as if Drawn and Quartered decided to collaborate with Morbid Angel, Vader and Immortal with the resulting audio showcasing each act distinct influence throughout. Toss in a smidgen of black metal, a sprinkling of black and roll, a little groove and a boisterous mischievous quality which binds the whole and the diabolical concoction is near complete. Toss in a cavernous tone and this could now be Folk music for the Underworld. Highly recommended and this came out of nowhere to pummel me like a red headed stepchild caught elbow in the butter dish (huh?!)

Favorite Tracks; Where Sickness Thrives. Chopped Clean off, Extinct, Deep in Streams of Putrifying Dirt.

FFO; Drawn and Quartered, (“Cursed” era) Morgoth, Morbid Angel, Vader, Immolation.

Time for an Old Favorite; Reccd’ By

heavymetalyeti

Reccd’ by Heavy Metal Yeti @heavymetalyeti on Twitter
Iapetus – The Body Cosmic
(USA)
Release – November/9/2019
Independent
https://iapetus1.bandcamp.com/album/the-body-cosmic

Iapetus - The Body Cosmic.jpg

Thoughts –
This release’s stunning art depicts a celestial being. Entwined with the universe she’s exploding with essence; one could even say “heart” as that’s where the ‘power’ originates. The colors and details are exquisite and the look on her features are sublime.

With little indication of what to expect the music captivates from the first. Intricate swift riffing brings to mind black metal influences but this is far beyond what one might assume with this in mind. This is unquestionably hypnotic rather than raw. Occasional vocal accompaniment (soft female and something skin to reflective/narrative soundbites) adds to the same effect and elevates a cosmic presence woven expertly into the mix. I’m floored! The combination of black, progressive and doom elements alongside an atmosphere which transports the listener so effortlessly to another plane are seamless and I’m less than third way through the first track.

The album continues and offers its first sojourn into harsh vocal realms, accompanying angelic choruses and chants, acoustic interludes and rhythms which are assured to change the listeners outlook on their immediate surroundings.

In lieu of mentioning every track here I’ll mention that this flows with an uncommon and undeniable brilliance throughout. Showcasing a love of the genre which is unquestionable and a talent for composition which is awe- inspiring Iapetus have formulated an audio collective which is both epic, intricate, diverse, unfathomably distracting and mesmerizing to the Nth degree. In effect, an album one might want to tether themselves to reality to before embarking upon.

For those who have the patience, time and willingness to allow this to seep into the system the rewards are immeasurable. Probably best to keep track of the cord for the Bluetooth enabled wireless headphones for this is an epic diversion from the everyday that one will want to discover it again and again. Expect to see this mentioned atop many an end of year list which features an author’s appreciation of a wide variety of genres.

For fans of Ne Oblivicaris, Insomnium, Be’lakor, Opeth and Aggaloch.

kman riffs

Reccd’ by KmanRiffs @KManriffs on Twitter
Novembers Doom – Nephilim Grove
(USA)
Release – November/1/2019
Prophecy Productions
https://novembersdoom1989.bandcamp.com/album/nephilim-grove
Novembers Doom - Nephilim Grove
Thoughts

Huge thanks go out to Kman for this Recc. I honestly had no idea that Novembers Doom were still active, so it was a huge surprise and delight to hear they were and are. Admittedly it’s been a while since I last laid ears upon them. Their earlier output, especially “To Welcome the Fade” (I believe is the title), remains one of my go-to death/doom albums.

Before I dive into the audio, a few words upon the art. A creature resembling an aging Pan type-Diety traverses a rough track as a motley crew of misshapen creatures look on in wonderment. I’m left wondering if they’re hungry and perhaps have just happened upon their next meal or is this something entirely more sinister still? One thing stands out, above all others; this is stunning art. perhaps one of my favorite pieces of the year (again thanks to Kman without whom I would not have known or probably even discovered this until perhaps years from now). The color contrast here is superb, the style intricate, shrouded in shading, texture and detail aplenty, and the wicked scythe looking moon adds ominous qualities galore. The design and characters included aren’t that which normally grace an album, unless this fellow is a goat then he’s desperately in need of a vacation/break from all of the recent exposure. I need this on a shirt, it’s perilously close to the gift giving season (*takes time out to drop hints to the wife and Santa).

In regards to the music on offer it takes mere seconds to realize this is indeed the Novembers Doom of old, and not a reimagined line-up hoping to cash in on the name and bands notoriety.

The arrangements are drum heavy and boasts supreme build up. Part acoustic mastery complementing huge riffs and driving rhythms. And the voice, oh that voice, the timbre is the one instantly recognizable as that associated with the band. The twin pronged, clean and harsh, vocal approach has returned, back to form if not better than before. The writing is intelligent and reflects upon a reinvigorated vitality, but it’s the composition and arrangements and passion which grab and hold the attention. Miles from mere chuggery and Gothic keyboard antics and overused accompanying atmosphere this is an album which showcases beauty and darkness, melancholy and an element which is rather hard to pinpoint but has Novembers Doom written all over it.

Sans scribbling upon each track (lest this turn in an unreadable narrative diatribe event) in turn I feel it best to mention that the album as a whole bears the power to sate any fan in need of a passionate death/doom injection. It goes without mentioning that this will have me, as well I’m sure a great many others, (re)discovering the bands discography.

Expect to see a great many more mentions of this album as the year draws to its conclusion.

Animal - music is meant for sharing

Because…great audio demands to be shared!

And that brings another installment to a close. Until our paths of interest cross again don’t fear discovery of that which is normally foreign to the senses.

Cult

Scorching the Retinas; Short, Blunt and “Brootal” Reviews (the first)

kung fu cinema

Because I can’t always find the time to muse, in detail, upon what I watch here’s a shorter, more to the point approach on a trio of films, martial arts related, I recently soaked my senses upon.
Iron Protector (2016)
Director/Writer – Yue Song
Runtime – 90 minutes

Iron Protector movie art

Originally titled “The Bodyguard” the filmmakers decided to change its name, to “Super Bodyguard” (then “Iron Protector for the overseas market) to spare confusion with another released, of the same name, produced in the same year by Samo Hung.

This is, I’m pleased to say, everything the blurbs on its box promise. This is martial arts of the highest order, hyper-violent video game in nature, showcasing plentiful brutal bone snappin’ action and legendary high flying (wire gymnastic) antics. Slathered in humor and humility with a backstory drenched in the evils of corruption versus family bonds (in short, two close brothers separated as their Master, not parents, begins to notice their true nature). This isn’t exactly original but it is undeniably stylish and captivating from start to finish especially for those who prefer their face-kicking action fast, frantic, akin to that of an animated hyper-kinetic affair and sporting a superhuman stamina level.

(trailer courtesy of Film Combat Syndicate)

Highly recommended for fans of early Jackie Chan craziness, The Raid (and the sequel) and The Night Comes for Us.

89

ANNA film

Anna (2019)
Writer/Director – Luc Besson
Runtime – 119 minutes

(Art)

With a trailer that plays out like many others (recently; Le Femme Nikita, Columbiana and Hanna) Anna might not turn many heads when it comes to grabbing the initial attention from watching it alone. In fact, it appears much like many of the other films from out of the Luc Besson stable. What makes it slightly different however, is that it includes and combines spy as well Femme Fatale elements.

Strong performances from Luke Evans, Sasha Luss (who convincingly portrays an assassin who’s pulled from every angle until close to breaking), Helen Mirren (a hard ass apathetic boss) and Cillian Murphy lead the cast and the somewhat predictable story which has been rehashed several times before but it’s the brutal action and frenetic eye-widening combat throughout which save the day not to mention that unlike most it’s actually somewhat relateable. A scene in a restaurant is one of the first to show the genius level choreography, it doesn’t play out as one might think (especially the main character) but remains one which the viewer will want to play again and again.

(Trailer courtesy of Film Trailer Zone)

Admittedly, I have favorites from the Besson stable (which include the obvious sci-fi entries) this doesn’t quite reach that elevated level but comes within a hairs breadth, based on the fact that it appears somewhat of a rehash of a story which has been produced many times over with only slight deviations each time. Nevertheless, I recommend it especially for those who enjoyed the newest John Wick entry (“Parabellum”).

85
Executioners from Shaolin (1976)
Written by – Kuang Ni
Directed by – Chia-Liang Liu
Runtime – 101 minutes

Executioners from Shaolin

Admittedly, whenever I see Dragon Dynasty or Shaw Brothers on a DVD case, I become intrigued. This had both, you can imagine my excitement.

The opening credits are a tad silly; a pair of priests dooking it out against an empty backdrop (save for a red, instead of a green, screen). For some ungodly reason a ‘nut-shot’ doesn’t suffice and only leads the “deliverer” into a world of unimaginable hurt blessed by a soundtrack of broken bones.

A soundtrack slathered in ominous drums and a slight Gothic nature makes for a grandiose audio backdrop for archers, swordplay, assorted amounts of dubbing tomfoolery and more than the expected amount of claret to make an instant impression. A cavalcade of impressive ‘forms’, creature derived styles and over-enthusiastic sound effects add to the non-stop action approach. This is certainly nothing like the silliness I used to enjoy as an irresponsible, impressionable, brat many moons ago, this appears more polished, although it does contain fair amounts of effective humor, albeit juvenile at times, which I can fully appreciate now (especially the juvenile parts!) Surprising bedroom themed shenanigans might turn a few heads and change many a preconceived notion of what the genre offered in decades previous.

(Trailer courtesy of YouTube Movies)

Revenge/to Avenge is the backbone of the story, as is the case with a great many in this genre. Unlike most, however, this adds a little history (of the region and the unrest at the time among the people) and depicts the progress of the main characters, Hong Xiguan, and his family as he trains (also his son, for some reason disguised as a girl throughout the movie) in order to, one day, be good enough to beat he who murdered his teacher. Legendary Lily Li plays Yung-Chun and beats most everyone who even insinuates, because she’s a lady, that her Kung-Fu is inferior.

A slew of standout scenes includes a dinner table Father and Son skirmish, the initial Priest (Pai Mei) confrontation and the inability if Hong to ‘break the knees’ of the bride in the bedroom in order to consummate the marriage and the unintentional destruction of the backyard when boisterous ‘training’ gets out of hand. However, it’s the humor in the final scene which steals the film when inexperience meets the skills and wisdom of a true Master. I won’t ruin the ending, I’ve tried my best to keep spoilers at a minimum, I will mention that the willingness to experiment and veer from the traditional course went a long way towards achieving the ultimate objective.

Annoyingly enough the film climaxes mid fight leaving me wanting more. All in all, though this is a damn sight better than I imagined it would be and is a fantastic jumping on point for anyone interested in exploring the cinematic world of the Brothers Shaw. Highly Recommended.

91

Please note that this (DVD) copy is a 2003 re-release with a tidied-up print, brighter colors and bolder subs (I can’t read or understand Mandarin, or Cantonese so it helps out a great deal).

Until next time I chose to lay digits upon keyboard in appreciation of celluloid,

Cult