Scorching the Retinas – Rabid – A film by the Soska Sisters

Rabid (2019)

(Canada)

Written by John Serge and the Soska Sisters (based on the David Cronenberg film of the same name)

Directed by The Soska Sisters

Runtime – 108 minutes

Back40Pictures Inc.

Shout Studios!

Twisted Twin Productions

Another remake? Yes, I’m going there but this is courtesy of the Soska Sisters, so I’m rather excited based on experiencing their past works.

Trailer courtesy of Movie Trailers Source

Ironically, the film opens on a monolog discussing reworking/remaking something “…Are we adding something new? If there is no soul, there cannot be life…” A high society fashion institution on the leading edge of transformation.

FML. Another remake?

Early interactions pave the way for delicious shenanigans to follow “…Doesn’t it ever bother you that you’re eating something dead?”

The film continues. Rose Miller (Laura Vandervoort; “Supergirl” also seen in “Ted”, “Smallville” and “Unspeakable”) is an outcast, a butt of jokes and feels seriously out of place when invited to the latest shows ‘after party ‘ by the office hunk. Fun fact; this is where the Soska Sisters make cameos as a pair of giggling, coke fiend, rumor mongers. One thing leads to another and she finds herself at the mercy of a truck’s undercarriage. She awakens a whole week later, yes, a full week, to find a coworker by her side and a familiar face (Stephen McHattie seen in “Pontypool”, “Watchmen” and “Shoot em’ Up”) attending. Disoriented she demands to be able to see that which the accident afforded. Doctor Keloid puts it bluntly “I strongly suggest avoidance of mirrors right now…you need to focus on your recovery”. Rose is visibly shaken and horrified at her appearance, honestly Greg Nicotero could save a few dollars at this juncture by hiring her as an on set extra. Rose asks Chelsea, her co-worker, played by Hanneke Talbot about work, to which Chelsea replies something along the lines of her being the main attraction in a line devoted to the memory of The Frankenstein Monster. I jest, but honestly the fashion industry is a harsh, wicked, mistress probably capable of such behavior.

Hey Mummy, I like your bandages

Rose is finally discharged, bandaged up as if sporting the Tutankhamen Winter line and moves in with Chelsea. Alone she reflects upon her state and appearance. It isn’t all that bad, seriously, I doubt random strangers will be bothering her unsolicited in the near future.

With her jaw wired shut she’s forced to eat via a giant turkey baster contraption which I can only imagine could also be used to inseminate Elephants with fertility issues. I’m left pondering if a straw might work a damn sight better.

Rose in her distraught and frustrated state turns towards “Trans-humanism” a theory and medical practices which hope to one day advance the human race to a state of transcendence. The Burroughs (an obvious nod to the famous American author whose works includes “Naked Lunch”; adapted by Cronenberg and featuring Peter Weller) Clinic offers such a service. And wouldn’t you know it Rose is an ideal candidate for an experimental regime called stem cell manipulation. Nothing to worry about here folks, this is just run of the mill scientists-playing-around-with-the-bodies- genetic-makeup. What could possibly go wrong? A manically smirking doctor certainly seems excited to try out his newly manufactured concoctions.

I shall alter, it is my will

And a diabolical atmosphere abruptly cloaks the proceedings commencing with red clothed surgeons readying themselves for action accompanied by piano tinkering one might hear within a Sunday service, albeit more on the Wagner epic side of things. This appears as if a religious experience with Doctor Burroughs (portrayed excellently by Ted Atherton; “Max Payne”, “Hollywoodland”) acting as the creator/manipulator of nature. His Christ pose whilst preparing certainly makes comparison clearer than transparent.

I’ve about covered all the box art promises and shall spare any further spoilers.

Suffice it to mention that Rose receives all that she’s promised (“…we have created, essentially, immortal skin grafts”) and a damn sight more than she had ever dreamed of. Rose has begun to exhibit urges, rampant, violent, sexual urges whereupon she isn’t at all herself. Thus, the films moniker of “Rabid”.

Steak “TaTa Vegetarian ways

It is from this point onwards the film literally grows legs, hairs, fangs, balls and an insatiable appetite! The introductions are through, now it’s time for business. And that is indeed what the viewer gets. From unusually intense on-screen antics to excruciating churning gut manifestations and salivating for uncooked meat; something is evolving at a pace that puts Covid to shame (there’s a topical reference).

Channeling “Species” and a slew of rather blunt Vampire films Rabid moves forward at a rollicking pace offering fans of the aforementioned and zombie genres something to get excited about (and for wrestling fans out there there is an appearance from CM Punk). As the number of cases rise, and crimson sprays to cover a wider radius, the authorities struggle to keep up though have managed to narrow down the probable cause.

Ahhh- boobies!

No matter their efforts contagion spreads like wildfire displaying the Soska’s knack of composing and capturing action fueled set pieces.

This story much like many others which have poured from the mind of Cronenberg seethes with wicked intent, the darkness beneath the thin veneer of sanity and relative normalcy and one’s desire to bring about horrific change at whatever cost. Also, much like other Cronenberg celluloid this has an underlying sexual nature within its violent sensibilities; phallic monstrosities and comparing the disease to the likes of an STD.

As well showcasing the ease and ferocity of a communicable disease (with added extras) Rabid, much like “The Neon Demon”, also manages to illustrate the ridiculous nature and cut-throat antics rampant within the belly of the fashion industry. Not to mention the comparative ease with which media outlets can be coerced into reporting with a certain angle/bias if one only knows the right people to pull the correct strings, no matter the truth behind the story reported.

Ted Atherton as the Doctor with huge plans

Strong performances bear mentioning and drive the feature; the maniacal doctor, the crazed fashionista and the “victim” (who only wishes to return to her former self) as well the overriding desire to succeed pitted against unfortunate circumstance.

All in all, this is as enjoyable as “American Mary” and “See no Evil 2” and shows the Soska’s stepping up the intensity and well the sheer scope and enormity of the production. My only qualms are that I wished for a cameo by Cronenberg (he was in Nightbreed, why not here?) and more bloodshed, although that’s not to say that Rabid isn’t blood soaked. It is, it also gives the viewers excellent physical effects rather than a reliance on CGI which others tend to lean towards. I’m excited for the Sisters next step, be it an original or a remake; for this didn’t tread the path which many have carved before now, this was surprisingly decent and even managed to compliment the original by adding certain elements.

I shall keep my eyes open.

8

Cult

Trailer courtesy of Blazing Trailers

For all those who are curious, why would one not be, here is the trailer for the original. Fun fact; Cronenberg’s Rabid featured former adult film star Marilyn Chambers in her first starring role

The tome in question

Searing the Brain – Shane McKenzie – Drawn and Quartered 2012

(Thunderstorm Books; Hard Rain Hardcover ed.)

In Cult’s absence I find myself searching through folders upon folders of unused/unposted files. This I one I’ve rather taken a fancy to, for obvious reason. Now I believe it’s time to peruse his library.

-B

This finds me taking another stab at reviewing a literary work. Perusing my collection recently I happened upon a vividly painted tome which caught my eye. Much like King’s “Four Seasons” it is also comprised of four works. And this is where the similarities end. Each “work”/ novella is accompanied by a foreword.

Why not add a touch of levity to the piece?

Stork.

(Foreword; Shane’s Baby by Wrath James White)

The brilliantly written foreword tells of an appreciation for blood and carnage and a grisly payoff. It also tells of an admiration of Shane’s writing style. With only a few hints, no spoilers, as to what the novella in question is based upon. I’m intrigued…

The gent responsible for such deviant prose

Stork is compact and takes little time to garner rabid interest. It showcases a young married couple and their difficulties in becoming pregnant. The young lady, Suzey, has a backstory and varied experiences I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.  Her husband knows little of this, Suzey closely guards her past, and loves his wife unconditionally. As the story unfolds the reader becomes all too intimate with Suzey’s past and the figure within it who still has, it appears, a strong ahold on her. And just what does a children’s book about a stork have to do with anything? Will the young couple succeed in bringing another life into the world? Will the husband bail when he hears of his wife’s past? These are only a few of the many questions answered as the story nears its climax.

Shane’s style is wicked, his prose concise and the jolts spark up from the very first sentence, then only build in intensity as the pages turn. The backstory unfolds as the present blossoms. As the two collide a psyche erupts to spawn a feral unrelenting nature only paranoia and madness can produce. And the pages fly, the mouth gets dry and the words whiz past the eyes. This guy knows his stuff, how to incite foreboding effectively ploughing unease into the reader, build on the premise to bring it to a boil then execute an eventual pay off which drips in eye-widening gruesomeness without unwarranted or unnecessary “silliness”.

In short, this leaves a tasty taste in the mouth and serves as a fantastic introduction to the book, Shane’s delivery and the brilliance of the fresh new talent on display here leaving one only eager for more.

Intriguing indeed – El Gigante

Cult

As well as being a celebrated author, and editor, Shane is also a screenwriter responsible for El Gigante, La Quinceanera, a segment in The ABC’s of Death (part 2.5) entitled “M is for Matador”, Aztech and Bingo (which is currently filming) among a slew of shorts. More information on Shane McKensie’s and his works can be found here;

https://www.fantasticfiction.com/m/shane-mckenzie/ and here;

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm6464289/

Abrasive Audio – February 2021

Black Meow-tal

 Welcome to yet another installment of Abrasive Audio. There’s seriously no end of Metal in sight and for that I’m eternally thankful as its distraction sutures tight the thin edges of sanity and apathy of an everyday life overflowing with the mundane and everyday responsibility. Who needs drugs when you have Metal? Don’t answer that, it was rhetorical. As is traditional I will lay a few words upon releases which have recently caught my attention. Obviously, your tastes will vary, so before you consider asking (why something wasn’t covered) please bear this in mind. That, and the fact that I’m the sole person responsible for the scribbles which make up both Abrasive Audio and the site as a whole, barring guest entries. Although I have been known to post guest pieces (feel free to submit something) and have on occasion been inundated with mysterious contributions, by way of a mischievous/odd fellow known simply as B (I’m still looking into this perplexing situation). Onward to (that which tickles the senses and the pleasure sensors) yet another varied selection.

… Did someone summon me?

It appears so, based on the fact that Cult is scribbling for someone else and leaving this to collect dust. (You should see his head, it’s a wonder he can get through the door and into the house). Well, fuk. I guess I’ll lay ear upon some audio, add to this my thoughts and a few words overflowing with nonsense then sent it on its way. Can you pick out the entries I’ve submitted? Who cares? It’s time to lay ear upon audio which has but one intention; scramble the brain matter responsible for putting up with the mundane. Onward…

TortureSlave (Germany) – Tools of Torture

Release – February 2021

https://tortureslave.bandcamp.com/album/tools-of-torture

Independent

Genre – Aggressive Thrash/Death

Artwork-

Is that the fella from Deathklok holding g aloft an unfortunate head?

Whatever happened to Deathklok? Am I spelling it correctly? Does anyone care?

Thoughts –

Well, fuck me till I bleed! This is rather early Haunted in tone. Adrenaline riffs and a vocal assault which pounds upon the Death Metal boundaries. What more could you ask for? Although this is only twenty – eight minutes in length it leaves me sweaty (in all the right places) wanting more. Did I mention the vocalist goes by the moniker of “He-Man Powerblast”? I’m laffing whilst nodding my head as if in mid-seizure. Admittedly this isn’t going to carve any fresh ground within the genre but it travels down an already well- trodden path with masterful navigation in a vehicle constructed for battle (is it that obvious I’ve just gotten through watching the newest “Deathrace” film?)

Yea, I like this. And I believe you will too! Prepare the torso for a bout of flailing insanity. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

Final Score – 89

Obscurae (USA) – To Walk the Path of Sorrows

Release – February 2021 (cassette format)

https://obscuraebm.bandcamp.com/album/to-walk-the-path-of-sorrows

Sentient Ruin

Genre- Black Metal/Ambient/Noise/Drone

Artwork-

A low-hanging moon lends its meager light to showcase a scene bathed in haze and draped in palpable ominous qualities.

Thoughts –

Setting this upon the senses is akin to being slowly lowered into a bottomless chasm (I try my damndest to never let this situation come to pass). A pitch affair boasting unfathomable dimension and a myriad of excitable denizen; shrieking, howling, clawing at the ‘walls’ in order to lay their claws upon their next meal be it physically or mentally. The senses set within these foreign realms are unfathomably heightened and only make the experience that much more intense. Screaming for release they fight amongst themselves in an internal struggle set against an atmosphere which is rife with malevolence. Harrowing and claustrophobic this is an audio experience one can easily lose oneself within.

Final Score – 84

Bloodkill (India) – Throne of Control

https://bloodkill.bandcamp.com/album/throne-of-control

Release – January 2021

Independent

Genre – Thrash/Death/Groove/Crossover

Artwork-

Mindless rats surrounding a dictator upon a throne. Am I to believe this album bears political connotations? Who cares, which album doesn’t these days, seriously? “Rats, get me a beer. It doesn’t matter which side of the fridge you pull it from, dammit!”

Thoughts-

One would never guess this is from India. My apologies if that sounds ignorant, but honestly the region isn’t one which immediately springs to mind upon mention of the word “Thrash” (well, perhaps with the recent Amorphia entry it might?) I guess what I’m trying to say is that this is an especially eye-opening slide of Metal. Fantastic production is the but the foundation of this structure. Stylistic influence plucked from all corners of the Thrash spectrum as well Speed-tinged HM waters are but only a small reason this stands out. Scorching vocals (of which I’m a huge fan) add to the appeal as well rhythms which are assured to entice the torso into spastic movements. No matter if you like Exodus, Slayer, Testament or Overkill this obliterates! And how.

Crank this till the authorities stumble upon the front door reigning fists and pleading for forgiveness.

Final Score – 88

Aversed – Impermanent

Release – March 2021

https://aversed.bandcamp.com/

Independent

Genre – Melodic/Progressive Death

Artwork-

Mist and nature running amok rule this landscape. A solitary form dissolving into the cosmos is beautifully captured in the foreground. This image really doesn’t give much away as to the music though certainly leaves me intrigued.

Thoughts –

It took me less than a minute to come to the conclusion that this is audio of the utmost quality. Obviously, the vocal origin helps and plays to my weakness. Rhythms which are driving, inciteful and intricate put one in mind of Angela era Arch Enemy output (as too, do the vocals) whilst a Beauty and the Beast styled vocal assault adds a little more oomph to the mix. Production is top-notch aiding arrangements which speak of both experience and undoubtable talent. Although this dips into realms which are considered somewhat mellow in instances, or progressive if you will, it still manages to hold the attention throughout and the transition is seamless. For the life of me I can’t understand why these guys aren’t signed and talked about more. Don’t let this be an album which slips past the radar. These guys deserve attention and a spotlight.

Final Score – 92

And Another From 2020

Evil (Japan) – Possessed by Evil

Release – December 2020

https://nuclearwarnowproductions.bandcamp.com/album/possessed-by-evil

Nuclear War Now

Genre – Black Speed/Heavy Metal/NWOBHM

Artwork –

Is there anything more sinister than a goat’s head, or more specifically the eyes. Strange than they are so transfixing. And the answer is yes; when a hand ending in claws reaches for you whilst you’re rooted to the spot held in utter thrall as you lose your sense within the abyss of the horned one’s dead gaze.

Thoughts –

Raw, primitive, unpolished yet still manages to bludgeon the senses to pulp. Raucous Heavy Metal, with many of the assumed “trappings”, meets Venom attitude corralled with take no prisoners damnable infectious arrangements. This boasts an aura which is difficult to resist, a hypnotic raunchiness which bows to the earliest of extreme audio pioneers (with the slightest pinch of South American aggressive thrash tossed in for good measure) whilst remaining solidified in the pitchest black realms; the kind which warrants the listener to push the speakers to their very limit.

Final Score – 90

Suffering Hour (USA) – Cyclic Reckoning

Release- February 2021

https://sufferinghour.bandcamp.com/album/the-cyclic-reckoning

Profound Lore

Genre – Black/Death/DeathDoom/Progressive Metal

Artwork-

In this BnW image a nekkid gent is seen lumbering across rugged terrain with a pair of blades held aloft. I’m left wondering if the myriad of serpents in the image believes him to be a form of public transport, as they seem to be abusing him as such.

Thoughts –

Broken up into five tracks this serves its listeners a varied journey, an excursion into realms one might not expect based on the bands prior output. Progressive elements are center stage building upon a foundation of menace and an atmosphere one could almost carve with a blade. Cavernous qualities complement the atmosphere as well vocals associated with DeathDoom realms. Before one makes up their mind however, as to whether or not to sample what this has to offer. one must also note that even though track lengths appear daunting and the prospect perhaps dull, Suffering Hour manage to deliver with an audio concoction which is, at times, marvelously hypnotic and often stylistically tumultuous in its arrangement.

This might well surprise those who bear doubts.

Final Score – 81

Miseo (Germany) – Initium et Fini (EP)

Release – February 2021

Fat Knob Records

Genre – Crust/Grindcore/Death

Artwork –

The band’s name and the name of the album against imposed across a red design on a black background. Simple, their logo is easy to read I’ll give em that!

Thoughts-

Notes of Napalm Death, Terrorizer and Benediction run riot here. Groove abounds and although the formula is rather standard this works and somehow, almost immediately, hits the spot. The heightened drumming in the mix is enough to get the limbs a -twitchin’.

Final Score – 78

Bushido Code (USA) – Ronin

https://bushidocode.bandcamp.com/releases

(unfortunately, the new one is up yet)

Release- April 2021

Independent

Genre – Hardcore/Thrash

Artwork –

The image looks freshly used from the movie Shogun Assassin only added to with a fantastic vor pallet and a form which at first appears to be green smoke but us in actuality a Chinese Dragon. One of the best covers I’ve seen in a while.

Thoughts –

Mix the rhythms of Annihilator with mid era Flotsam and Jetsam, Marauder and the vocal styling of Pro-Pain and you’ll be close to what’s on offer here. This is somewhat a hot and cold offering which boasts definite moments to incite uncontrollable twitching.

Final Score – 73

Sometimes acts contact me for a few words…

Here’s one such incident;

Escalpo (Brazil) – Retrocedendo (EP)

Release – November 2020

https://escalpometalpunk.bandcamp.com/album/retrocedendo

Independent

Genre – Punk/D-beat/Hardcore/DM/Crust/Grindcore

Artwork-

A face pulled taut in ferocious intent. And one of the best logos I’ve seen in a while. Something tells me this is going to be a dip into brutal audio arenas.

Thoughts –

Yes, the genre description is all over the place, but don’t let that deter you. The three tracks here seethe with angst and vicious intent. Rhythms are addictive and riffs infectious. The vocal accompaniment is something akin to that heard on Lockup/Brujeria releases and the obvious stands out. Yes, this is in Portuguese. However, it makes not an iota of difference from the very start this grabs ahold, it shakes ya awake then tosses unceremoniously to the dirt exhausted. Although influences are obvious (for example the Slayer riff in opening of the second track) this is hardly another copycat act. They kept the best for last; track three serves to offer Crusty Punk vibes as well a filthy DM edge. All in all, a short n sweet EP (running not quite ten minutes) which nods at the brutality we all hope will follow. A great start!

Final Score – 81

And Another Instance;

Grale (USA) – Agitacion

Release – February 2021

https://grale.bandcamp.com/album/agitacion

Independent

Genre – Doom/Industrial/Thrash/Metal

Artwork –

I could be mistaken but I see a collective of arms reaching for a white flag. Have they had enough, is it time to surrender? Or is it time to rise up, to replace this flag with another?

Thoughts –

A super-group of sorts this encompasses talent from Olde, Revocation and Sacrifice, among others. With those styles in mind what should one expect? Well, probably not this. The album starts with “Meth Aggressor”, a searing neck-breaker. Riffs which will get lodged in the noggin for days, a vocal accompaniment akin to Jorgensen (Ministry) and an aura which would transform a cemetery into party central, though let us not forget the abrupt stylistic transformation climax. A fantastic start with a caliber the following track leaps upon. A vibe which is slightly Cavaliers Conspiracy, slightly Nailbomb and a whole ton of infectious. “Blade” brings with it a futuristic edge draped in upbeat Stoner Rock and Doom elements. Sublime leads/solos nod to earlier Revocation genius whilst vocal gymnastics result in a track which is difficult to forget. Boasting a finale overflowing with angst and criminally addictive rhythms this comes to a close. Sure, there’s only five tracks here, however they seethe with enough ferocious energy and attitude for a full length. With any luck this release will find the attention it deserves, for merely referring to this as a pleasing teaser is a gross understatement. I for one eagerly anticipate a follow-up effort.

Final Score – 85

Room 101 (USA) – Sightless

Release – February 2021

https://room101.bandcamp.com/album/sightless

Independent

Genre – Sludge/Doom/DM/Hardcore

Artwork-

Clever indeed. A ‘Can’t see the forest for the trees’ type, perplexing, image, which only makes me curious as to the audio within.

Thoughts –

Some albums are rather hard to describe. This is one of those. Influenced by the likes of Neurosis, Acid Bath and EyeHateGod the style here is varied, and that’s not in the slightest strange. What is is the fact that this veers from Experimental and Avant Garde territories to occasionally wallow in Psychedelic realms. Audio doused in an atmosphere which often brings to mind Stone Rebel (France) and Somali Yacht Pirates (Ukraine) whereas other instances are slightly surreal and recall Mushroomhead and a style Faith no More excel at. A certain menace hangs over the whole affair and when the brutality drops it lands with an astounding thud! Complimented by a twin vocal attack that’s part Hardcore and all angst rhythms are as if pounded out by giants wielding formidable hardware. If you’re wondering why local streets are riddled with pot holes this might well be the culprit. Recommended for (fans of Crowbar, as well a slew of other acts who incorporate mammoth crushing Doom with an edge of Hardcore) those with tastes which suggest a mind which is very much open to new, fresh and exciting experiences.

Final Score – 81

Malice Divine (Canada) – s/t

Release- February 2021

https://malicedivine.bandcamp.com/album/malice-divine

Independent

Genre – Melodic Blackened Death/Power Metal

Artwork –

An amorphic entity stares upon the moon as his/her/its essence leaves devastation in its varied explorations.

Thoughts –

Vocals reminiscent of Toxin (early Witchery) against a surprisingly lively percussion veering g at times towards flourishes of grandiose Power Metal. Complemented by menacing classical instrumental accompaniments and plenty if movement this is hardly the run of the mill Blackened/Melodic Death release but rather very close to an hour of audio which channels Storm era Dissection in part as well definite swatches of influence from wide across the Metal spectrum (add a sprinkle of Candlemass, Stortregn, Zornheym and melodic breaks ala early Arch Enemy) resulting in a listen which is somewhat familiar though thoroughly entertaining and highly infectious. Add a few extra points as this is a stellar example of what a single, dedicated, undeniably multi-talented person is capable of. Honestly this puts many full bands in the same genre to shame!

Toss this in the ears, you won’t be disappointed!

Final Score – 92

Deiquisitor (Denmark) – Humanoid EP

Release – February 2021

https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/album/humanoid

Night Shroud Records/ Dark Descent Records

Genre- Brutal DM/OSDM/Grindcore

Artwork-

In the future there are no dentists, merely automated tunnels where robots condemn you for your plaque covered sins and overall horrendous hygiene standards, all while plucking the remaining pearly whites from the jaw.

Thoughts –

Equal part Brutal death and Grindcore this somehow manages to combine the fierce blunt brutality of Nile and Immolation as well exhibiting technical nuance with a maniacal nature often found lurking in numerous releases by way of Repulsion and Napalm Death. Rarely letting up this is an album which twists and turns all whilst pummeling the listener with a intensity akin to a whirlwind of hammers.

Final Score – 85

Ordo Cultum Serpentis (S.Korea/Mexico) – Derej Najash

Release- February 2021

https://ordocultumserpentis.bandcamp.com/album/derej-najash

Signal Rex

Genre – Death/Black/Doom/Ambient

Artwork –

A serpent entwines a goblet in this intricately composed and highly detailed Black & White image.

Thoughts –

Ritualistic in its approach, ponderous and palpable in its atmosphere this takes the listener nowhere quick but rather buries the senses in an ominous aura with considerable weight much like an avalanche of Doom. When the end appears near, due in part by the crushing weight upon the senses, the pressure is abruptly lifted and replaced by a primitive shroud; shrieks and howls overtop a foundation of all-consuming archaic, raw, dirge. Collective tortured chants break the Bestial assault and that’s just the first track. This release consists of two epic tracks of similar chilling, harrowing, quality for twenty-seven minutes of audio guaranteed to make the senses prance across a minefield of varied emotion with gooseflesh standing at attention. Recommended for those who prefer audio of a varied composition, unpredictable and seething with atmosphere.

Final Score – 79

Here’s Another from 2020

Gravfraktal (Sweden) – Unhallowed Death Triumph (EP)

Release – September 2020

https://gravfraktal.bandcamp.com/album/unhallowed-death-triumph

Unsigned/Independent

Genre – Blackened Speed/OSDM/Death

Artwork –

A Black n White rendering of an inverted cross, a demon type creature and a logo one can hardly decipher. I believe we all know what’s about to invade the senses here?

Thoughts –

This is yet another example of a release I’ve enjoyed immensely, but have yet to lay words upon (until now).

What starts out as ‘paint by numbers’ mid-tempo Death soon transforms into Cosmic tinged Blackened Speed. But let’s not forget the groove factor; “Putrid Gloria” is a track which is difficult to remove from repeat based on its vertebrae- contortion qualities. Other tracks hint ferociously at Blackened influence as well aggressive South American Thrash elements. The whole is a delicious teaser, albeit painfully short, perhaps of the Old School-tinged brilliance to follow? We can only hope.

Final Score – 88

Sumeru – Blood Ordinance (Australia) 2 track EP

Release – January 2021

https://sumeru.bandcamp.com/

Brilliant Emperor Records

Genre – Doom/Sludge/Hardcore

Artwork –

An intricate, ornate weapon probably never meant for battle but it sure looks neat, perhaps as part of a coat of arms. And this really gives little away as to what to expect from the audio itself.

Thoughts-

Just wow! Two tracks here with enough movement to put many full lengths to shame. Honestly, I’m in awe of how much is featured here; emotion, fury and melody with a variety of nods to genres one might not expect. But let us not forget the torso twitching groove. In short, these two tracks will leave one searching for a box of tissues as they anticipate what’s to follow. With audio like this the future is bright indeed. Assume there to be a great many throats issuing the word Sumeru as the year wears on.

Final Score – 92

Celestial Sanctuary (UK) – Soul Diminished

Release – March 2021

https://celestialsanctuary.bandcamp.com/album/soul-diminished

Refining Darkness

Genre – DM/OSDM/DeathDoom

Artwork –

I’m have not the faintest idea what I’m looking at here. A pile of rotting meat? A pile of crying rotting meat. Nope, still doesn’t make sense.

Thoughts –

Mid paced, plodding with a truckload of moments to send Messiah Marcolin stomping around like a loon. This is OSDM with groove and bursts of well structured, and highly inciteful, frenetic pace. Think Morgoth (“Cursed” era) with a splash of (vintage) Gorguts and then even less Unleashed and Benediction (who’s newest I’ve still yet to lay ears upon). This is quite the way to make an entry. This makes an impression (and bears stunning replayability) which is especially pleasing to those whose collection dates back to the early nineties Century Media output. Jump on this and devour it with ravenous ears (huh, what?)

Final Score – 87

And Another from 2020

Grave with a View (Finland) – Fangs and Flesh (EP)

Release – November 2020

https://gravewithaview.com/

Independent

Genre – Death n Roll/Post Rock/Progressive/Sludge

Artwork-

The image here reeks of a style I immediately associate with the Ouija board; Gothic romanticism and the supernatural (ala New Orleans). This image however depicts an ornate coffin and a skeletal hand rising from ethereal mists. No spoilers boasted here as to the music within but this leaves me intrigued indeedy.

Thoughts-

There’s certainly an interesting mix of styles on offer here. A temperament associated with Entombed’s “Wolverine Blues” is immediate though the first track hints at a myriad of other influence, surprisingly the combination works and I’m left tapping my limbs and nodding my head like one possessed. The EP continues and boasts arrangement hinting at a great deal more than merely Death n Roll worship (decidedly non- DM rhythms coupled with the traditional harsh DM vocal style.) Distortion and Crust rears its head to say hi, as well instances which tip the hat to both Progressive and Post realms. Overall, this is varied audio of a quality which tugs consistently at the enjoyment sensors, contrary to the fact that one might believe it not able to do so.

Final Score – 81

Seraph in Travail (USA) – A Black Death Incense

Release – March 2021

https://seraphintravail.bandcamp.com/

(unfortunately, the newest isn’t up yet)

Self – Released

Genre – Black/Death/Symphonic/Deathcore/Tech Death

Artwork-

Forms donning plague masks trudging through the mists across swamp terrain. It doesn’t sound like much. However, this image is quite stunning.

Thoughts –

Give this album ten seconds to reel you in and it’ll do so. Sporting a style akin to Cradle of Filth, BlackGuard, Kull, Bal-Sagoth, Black Dahlia Murder (and a few others which escape the memory at present) Seraph in Travail offer the listener epic arrangements bathed in exquisite symphonic majesty. Arrangements are both beautifully intricate and searingly intense accompanied by a twin vocal assault to give the whole a melancholic shroud broken only and bolstered by rhythms of a Blackened lilt to heighten the senses. Unlike many acts in the same genre the lyrics are delivered in such a way that they are wholly decipherable, a fact which only adds to the album’s enjoyment.

From start to finish this offers that which only a rare few have attained; the perfect combination of symphonic presence and riff-based menace.

An absolutely outstanding addition to the genre. Experience this pronto!

Final Score – 93

Beekeeper (USA) – Slaves to the Nothing

Release – May 2021 (Vinyl)

https://beekeepermetal.bandcamp.com/album/slaves-to-the-nothing

Metal Assault Records

Genre – Thrash/Death

Artwork-

On first glance one might imagine this to be part of either the Melodic Death or Symphonic Dark Metal arena. The promotional materials state otherwise. I’m up for a surprise. Hitting play.

Thoughts-

“Beekeeper”. One might think this a Stoner or a Doom act. Thrash might be the furthest from one’s mind. However, this is just that. Channeling a style which is part Exodus, part Destruction, part Vio-lence and in lesser parts Slayer as well Dark Angel the style could well be called varied, and why would it not? As well playful and downright addictive, if truth be known. The vocal element is equally diverse and carries notes of “Handle with Care” era Nuclear Assault (John Connelly) as well Vintage (“Mad Butcher”) era Destruction. Arraya -esque screams are tossed in also to incite a facial consuming grin for those of us who partake in the joys of Slayer from time to time (seriously, who doesn’t?). Slightly theatrical this element fully embraces the gymnastic approach, but it fits. And surprise, surprise the listener is hit with quite the rarity in the Thrash arena. A voice courtesy of a lady. Vicious, passionate and boasting definitive dexterity it’s the perfect combination and for certain a factor which makes this album shine. Sure, I might not have embraced the style at first but now I’m all in. As an added bonus several tracks bear SOD monikers to yank at the intrigue. However, this album doesn’t need any gimmicks. The quality on offer here speaks for itself.

Originally released in 2017 on all formats (including Vinyl) this rightfully sees a reissue to perk the attention of those its allure might have missed on the first pass.

Final Score – 86

Nocturnal Hollow (Venezuela) – Triumphantly Evil

Release – February 2021

https://nocturnal-hollow.bandcamp.com/

Independent

Genre – OSDM/HM2

Artwork-

At first what appears rather generic transforms into a delightful image depicting a hard ass boss (?) wielding a pair of horns, a pitchfork and most probably an attitude which only elicits the temptation to plant a fist in his smug face (Whoops. TMI? I’m talking from experience.) Just me or does this scream another album by Sinister?

Thoughts –

I’m glad I stumbled upon this, their last blew me away.

Admittedly the opening track threw me for a loop, the addition of a diabolical edge and slightly off-kilter riffs hasn’t 100% solidified my attentions. However, track two has me prancing around like one possessed. The rhythms, the drums and the vocal cadence. Just damn-! This is DM bliss! And I’m abruptly put in mind of the distracting power of their last release.

And this isn’t all chug, chug, chug (and more chuggery) there’s a few slower instances to break up the outstandingly infectious groove. Although this is all rather ‘meat and potatoes’ DM, with a few surprising passages tossed in, it will damn sure incite the most vicious party in your gut upon consumption (see what I did there?) Why aren’t these guys talked about more? Much like their last this distracts much like a speeding train strangely spilling a flamboyant decorated clown ensemble colliding with the family car at full speed. Expect the digits to move of their own accord to hit the repeat button. And. As an added bonus, who doesn’t appreciate a cover of a Slayer track (albeit draped in more a dirge blanket) depicting copulation with the recently deceased. “…I have the urge, a growing need…”

Final Score – 90

That brings us to the conclusion of another Abrasive Audio and the first featuring myself as the new CEO of the site. Ha-ha. Apologies for the lack of Reccs in this piece it appears it ran long as it was. However, In typical Cult fashion these words bear repeating; “Don’t fear that which is normally foreign to the senses”.

B

Scorching the Retinas – Happy Times

Happy Times (2019)

Israel/USA/Italy (subtitled in part)

Writers – Guy Ayal, Michael Mayer

Director – Michael Mayer

Runtime – 91 minutes

Genre – Comedy/Drama/Thriller

Oh! Pen

M7200 Productions

Urbandale

M- Appeal

Artsploitation Films

 Every once in a great while a film comes along which has the unnerving power to hold one in thrall. Happy Times is one such film. Obviously, the synopsis sounds much like any Thanksgiving Jerry Springer special, it does, but it has so much more to offer.

Trailer courtesy of BritFlix.com
If not Fish n Chips. What then?

Imagine if you will a lush mansion in the Hollywood hills and a monarch of sorts sitting upon the proverbial throne based on his business dealings and amassed wealth. This is Yossi (played by Ido Mor), Yossi is a hard headed Israeli who has made his fortune from a variety of dealings; double, illegal and otherwise. Naturally, everyone wishes to be him. He’s wealthy, has a beautiful wife and stories to tell to hold a collective audience in bondage. And he has another opportunity at such when Sigal, his wife (portrayed by the delectable Liraz Chamami), chooses to host a party.

Probably the most famous of Alex de la Iglesia’s works

The guests are an assortment of friends and family. And, wouldn’t ya know it, they all have varying viewpoints, beliefs and idiosyncrasies. Naturally this makes for an interesting evening but if it weren’t for the stellar writing of Ayal and Mayer this would probably deteriorate into just another Hollywood affair sporting mere fisticuffs, a possible food fight and more probably an array of colorful arguments amidst random instances of hair-pulling. Thankfully, this rises above. And for any fans of Pedro Almodóvar, Alex de la Iglesia and for those who have yet to discover either brilliant filmography the (more accessible) works of a certain Mr. Tarantino this delivers in aces.

As well the variety of dishes on offer intriguing conversation is also enjoyed, until an uncomfortable aura shrouds the collective. It appears one’s belief on not wanting to have a family (but instead a career) is the catalyst to spark a bonfire constructed from issues buried much deeper than what one can only imagine. It doesn’t help that the host is making eyes at her husband’s young employee and that a possible Muslim (… “wait, isn’t that a Muslim name?”) has been invited to a Jewish get-together. Other factors bob above the surface pleasantries within no time to mature the uncomfortableness into something more akin to verbal warfare with lines drawn in the sand which many are prepared to trounce upon. That is until blood is spilled. Then all manner of chaos drives the experience into what-the-fuck realms, admittedly arenas which aren’t too far removed from that which could actually transpire given the right circumstances.

so…uh…yea?

Surprisingly, the chaos of which I speak is controlled in a masterful way. As one situation arises, another comes to its conclusion in another part of the house, this is where my nods to Almodóvar and Iglesia come in. The directing here is superb and this film flows with a well-oiled purpose and smooth pace rarely experienced even though the film is broken up into segments a few with titles to incite a glorious grin across the chops. Naturally, the acting aids in the overall experience. Appreciatively there isn’t an actor who especially steals the film (as it were) although there are a few who are easier to associate with than others.

Are these bindings vegan?

If anything, Aliya (excellently portrayed by Stefi Celma) a character out of her comfort zone accompanied by her boisterous partner stands out; her expressions are sublime. Alan Pdut portrays, Avner, a character with a (undiagnosed) dark past mired in traumatic events which come back at the most inopportune times to haunt him. Also, I must mention Sigal, the virtual center of the storm around which most situations arise though not initiated directly because of, and her stunning performance as one who keeps her calm as the world comes crashing down around here as the film reaches its explosive climax.

Inner voice* Fuck my life, this whole afternoon is ruined!

Commendable also is the films excellent soundtrack, a score which only accentuates the on-screen action, the situations gradual descent into the absurd and unthinkable and heightens the viewers emotions, in essence a stellar partnership a great many more features could prosper from.

The factor which sends this celluloid affair into stratospheric realms of enjoyment however is its writing. The dialogue is top notch, interactions priceless and resulting situations that which only a certified genius (or two) could conjure. The writing is so exemplary, in fact, that the film doesn’t need to rely on nudity or gore to mesmerize its audience. The pace within Happy Times is superb, the comedy dripping in a black essence which would make nightfall in the country jealous but more importantly a realism which is brutally relateable to most everybody no matter of origin, stance, religious belief or gender.

In conclusion, do what is necessary to lay eyes upon this (especially if like me subtitled affairs are your immediate go-to) and be prepared to discuss its many qualities with friends, family and acquaintance in the very near future.

Artsploitation have yet again dared go where many fear to tread and the result is a magnificent piece of celluloid to be enjoyed for many years to come.

Cult

Bringing in the New Year; January Edition

Before I start, I would like to state that this was supposed to ‘drop’ a few weeks back, alas a myriad of obstacles hampered my progress. And, to be honest, I kept adding to this piece not knowing where to stop (suffice it to mention this is another mammoth installment which most won’t make it through) in essence my excitement took over. Hey, it happens. Here’s to raising a glass (whatever the poison of choice) to the wonderful world of Extreme Audio.

And, need it be mentioned again… fuk Covid!

Let’s begin, I have such varied sounds to share…

Dead Exaltation (India) -Despondent

https://deadexaltation.bandcamp.com/album/despondent

Release- February 2021

Independent

Genre – Tech/Prog/Brutal Death

Artwork –

Typical of the Death genre the art here sports spilled guts, maniacal ferocity and a surrounding which hasn’t felt the caress of a duster, vacuum or mop in some time.

Thoughts –

This is quite the refreshing change from what one might have imagined bearing g the cover art in mind. Intricate, complex and energetic are a few words which come to mind as the arrangements here slither their way through the senses. A concept album of sorts with only a spoken word track which has the most potential to take the listener out of the experience. Otherwise, an effort which displays stellar musicianship, creative genius and composition chops which are guaranteed to take this band and the listeners limbs places. Nods to a plethora of acts and an incorporation of a variety of musical styles are a pleasant surprise, even more curious is the fact that they don’t appear out of place in the albums flow. This is a damn sight better than I expected, if I’m to be honest, and India is fast leaving their mark on the metal map. Jump on this pronto!

Final Score – 84

Tragedy in Hope (Russia) – Sleep Paralysis

https://tragedyinhope.com/album/sleep-paralysis

Release – February 2021

Independent

Genre – Progressive/Black Metal/Symphonic/Tech Death

Artwork-

Free-falling through the stratosphere in a carnival ride ‘cart’ with a multitude of arms holding you down. Being held by the bar in one of those rides is bad enough (is this fucka locked?) but free falling within one. It’s enough to spur nightmares.

Thoughts –

Stumbling upon a one-person project isn’t rare is in this day and age, in fact they are pretty much spread across the metal spectrum, often proving that a whole band isn’t needed to make an impression. In this instance, from St. Petersburg Sasha Hiller makes the impression (a solitary lady rather than traditionally a guy), and it’s a huge one. It doesn’t take long for the jaw to drop and the eyes to widen. The first track opens on an acoustic setting though soon gathers fairy tale-esque atmosphere with the accompaniment of synth and chilling vocals. The feeling builds reaching a furious crescendo Cradle of Filth fans will instantly appreciate. Did I mention this is a one-person project? I am shocked. And the album progresses.

Cascading streams of melody frolic with a symphonic backdrop often assaulted by waves of frigid BM riffs and the (just wow!) vocals; Spoken word, traditional and shrieks propel this into Avant Garde realms, though not so much as to pull listeners away from the audio genius on offer. I probably should mention, at this juncture, that this is a concept album. Most in my opinion don’t garner my full attention. This one, somehow, has. In aces. Save a track-by-track breakdown I’ll state that this has held me in thrall from its first to last note.

Did my turning this into more of an essay rather than a few words suggest the same? Probably. Give this a chance, it’s obviously not for everyone but for those who enjoy BM with diverse tendencies be prepared to lose your shit!

Final Score – 92

Yoth Iria (Greece) – As the Flame Withers

https://paganrecords.bandcamp.com/album/as-the-flame-withers

Release- January 2021

Pagan Records

Genre – Melodic/Atmospheric Black Metal/Heavy Metal/Progressive

Artwork-

Dammit peasants, stop bothering me with inane questions. The moon is not made of cheese and you cannot capture its reflection in a puddle. Now. Back to my conquest of this vast, flat, domain.

Thoughts –

A few seconds in and one can already tell there’s something special about this album. Infectious melodies and atmosphere abound, as well an impression that countryman Rotting Christ are an obvious influence. Other influences are varied coming from both traditional BM arenas and from those whose penchants run deep into both mystical and folk arenas, examples; SepticFlesh and Amorphis. In short, this is an album which whispers an aura of the old school, an element weaved into a rich sonic tapestry sporting undeniably applaudable complexity and intricacies (not typical of the genre, if truth be told) which rocket this into stratospheric heights of enjoyment. Prepare to lose yourself in the brilliance on offer here. I’ll even go so far as to say expect for this to appear in many EOYL. There, I said it!

Final Score – 95

Devotion (Spain) – The Harrowing

https://devotiondeathmetal.bandcamp.com/album/the-harrowing

Release- January 2021

Momento Mori

Genre – Death Metal/DeathDoom

Artwork-

There’s little doubt what to expect with this art in mind. An inverted cross, a Grim Reaper type fellow and a trio of winged demonic entities hanging on his (?) every word.

Thoughts –

Steamroller-esque in its dirge approach. The style here really doesn’t reinvent the wheel though it does add to the enjoyment of its properties. Plentiful atmosphere and an aura which brings to mind European acts from the 90’s. Unique though it isn’t this certainly holds the attention. A fantastic slab of somewhat traditional, easy palatable, well-produced Death which warrants attention!

Final Score – 85

Tantivy (USA) – Eyes in the Night

https://tantivyrocknroll.bandcamp.com/album/eyes-in-the-night

Release- January 2021

Independent

Genre – Heavy Metal/NWOBHM

Artwork-

There’s something out there, waiting. Something lurking, a formidable presence camouflaged by the ominous darkness.

Thoughts –

Raunchy, rough and rowdy these fellas know how to toss a listener back several decades. Combine Motorhead, Priest, vintage Wolfsbane and a Chevy big block with a trunk bursting at the hinges with attitude and energy and you’ll be close to what this provides. Gravelly vocals against arrangements which incite ferocious head bobbing movements and a tone which screams “I’m in the wrong decade”. The late 70’s and 80’s was a fantastic time for HM Tantivy bring that same feeling rushing back to the senses. Lay the ears on this pronto!

Final Score – 86

Spire (Australia) – The Kronos Temple

https://sentientruin.bandcamp.com/album/temple-of-khronos

Release – February 2021

Sentient Ruin

Genre – Death/Black/Doom/Psychedelic/Experimental Metal

Artwork –

I’m honestly not even sure what I’m looking at here; a hodgepodge of elements combined to form an altar of sorts? Nevertheless, this leaves me intrigued.

Thoughts –

Not wholly this, not wholly that. There’s a great many factors and styles combined to form this audio of that there is little doubt. Influence is pulled from across the metal spectrum ranging from (I can only imagine, as I haven’t spoken to the band) Nuerosis, Virgin Black, Akercocke and melodic-era Rotting Christ. With the occasional blast beat, varied vocal approaches and a myriad of pace to keep the senses alight. Although the combined aura gives off a seething archaic vibe incorporating chants and dissonant hues the whole is wrapped as a Dark Metal package. Experimental? Sort of. Familiar? In part. Enjoyable? Of that there is no doubt. Expect this to enthrall and mesmerize following repeated experiences.

Final Score – 87

(And here’s another I missed in 2020)

The Fallen Prophets (South Africa) – No End in Sight (EP)

https://thefallenprophets.bandcamp.com/album/no-end-in-sight

Release – December 2020

MMD Records

Genre – Tech/Brutal/Melodic/Deathcore

Artwork-

Vivid colors and an alien looking creature in the foreground. In the background a nekkid lady with a look as if to say “Honey, that’s enough killing for one day, come back to bed”.

Thoughts –

It takes a little while for this to warm up, honestly the first track does little for me as an introduction (standard brutal death fare if I’m to be honest). From track two onwards however… well damn! This is some precise, bludgeoning audio, sporting melodious interludes and hooks with chops enough to reel in the most agile and elusive water-breathing creature. Melodic yet pulverizing, energetic and bolstered by top-notch production values the audio here hints at an act with more than merely two full-lengths to their credit. For a brutal death/deathcore album the flow here is incredible. If this EP is any indication of the audio to follow, I can only imagine labels will be clamoring for printouts and pens. Keep an eye on these fellas. This is another of those albums plagued by a release date which might well have hampered its undeniable end of/best of the year status.

Final Score – 92

Phlebotomized (The Netherlands) – Pain, Resistance, Suffering

https://phlebotomizedhhr.bandcamp.com/

Release – March 2021

Independent

Genre – Progressive/Avant Garde/Tech/Melodic/Death/ Doom

Artwork-

Is that an oversized brain floating through the cosmos, or a spaceship shaped like the same or even a piece of discarded cereal on a dirty carpet lit by neon light? Questions, questions and more of the same. Hitting play…

Thoughts –

It takes but a few seconds to come to the understanding that this is going to be a quality release. Draped in symphonic tones this bears both Melodic (Death) and Doom qualities as well an Old School aura. Varied pace and mammoth sized riffs aid melancholic tones, whereas Progressive cosmic themes and clean vocals lift the whole from crowded unimaginative arenas. For a first experience (of the act and their output) this has left me dazed, hungry and eager for more of the same. Quite simply this is an EP which shouldn’t he missed from an act who aren’t afraid to traipse and peddle their abilities outside of traditional genre realms.

Final Score – 86

(Here’s another from last year)

Slough of Despair (Greece) -Catacombs of Terror

https://sloughofdespair.bandcamp.com/album/catacombs-of-terror

Release – April/2020

Independent

Genre – Doom/Death/Dirge

Artwork –

A myriad of shadows part to display a skull of malformed origin and a plethora of other bones. With this in mind one might ponder upon audio of a Black or Doom nature. Hitting play…

Thoughts-

Initially assaulted with vintage Paradise Lost riffage one begins to wonder if these guys are another riding-the-coattails act. A vocal roar cuts this thought short however and the album plays out offering a quality mix of groove, dirge and thunderous riffs with influence as far afield as Candlemass, Bolt Thrower and October Tide. Epic compositions, traditional direction and variety in pace keeps the attention perked.

Final Score – 82

(And… yet another from last year)

Deus Mortem (Poland) – The Fiery Blood (EP)

https://terraturpossessions.bandcamp.com/album/the-fiery-blood

Release – December 2020

Malignant Voices/Terratur Possessions

Genre – Black Metal

Artwork –

A huge snake dances in the blaze about to consume the tree upon which it’s wrapped. One can only ponder upon the whereabouts of Adam and Eve. Perhaps they’re auditing another movie to add to their online empire?

Thoughts –

A snarling, pummeling assault with surprising melody and presence.  Occasional riffs akin to punk make this a highly distracting slab of audio. This is my first experience of the band; it most definitely won’t be the last. Many have likened their style to both Marduk and Blaze of Perdition. I guess I have some exploring to do

Final Score – 85

Deathgoat (Norway) – Regurgitated into Existence

https://deathgoat.bandcamp.com/

Release- January 2021

Musakonttori

Genre – Old School/Brutal/Hm2 Death/Doom

Artwork –

For some reason I’m reminded of an early Destruction album cover. Regardless, this is somewhat simple though hammers the ON button on the neon sign which reads Death Metal. A sign which is blazing bright for all to see.

Thoughts –

This is a style which reeks of adoration for Old School values. Mid-tempo groove galore and riffs so devastatingly pulverizing they could shake a small city to its foundation. Think old Grave with a sprinkling of Entombed and the remarkable aura of menace often associated with standout Blackened Death acts.

Final Score – 88

Werewolves (Australia) – What A Time to be Alive

https://werewolvesdeathmetal.bandcamp.com/album/what-a-time-to-be-alive

Release – January/2021

Prosthetic Records

Genre – Tech/Brutal Death/Grindcore

Artwork –

With this scenario in mind, I only wonder if he (the poor fella whose features are rapidly turning to pulp) asked, beforehand, why the dishes weren’t done.

Thoughts –

Listening to this is akin to spending time in an industrial sized blender (whose whisks have been removed with hammers and concertina razor wire) on full speed. A blender placed in a spinning concrete mixer upon a downward gradient, a road ravaged by apocalyptic seismic activity.

What with a year boasting releases from Psycroptic and Werewolves (all featuring the same members) those involved have been frenetically busy, producing output of a quality which boggles the mind. This is no exception. Think Lock Up, The Berserker (two members are also featured here) and a healthy smattering of Old School values and you’ll be close to what’s on offer here. A frustratingly enjoyable mixture of abrasive styles to turn the mind to mush!

Final Score – 90

Gravehuffer (USA) – Necro Eclosion

https://gravehuffer.bandcamp.com/

Release – January 2021

Black Doomba Records

Genre – Thrash/Grindcore/Sludge/Doom/Hardcore/Crust/Punk

Artwork –

Vivid and eye-catching, one only wants to look closer at this image. Fascinating is that upon closer inspection it still doesn’t divulge its secrets. So much so that I reached out to the band for assistance. If I had a Patreon I’d share the details, alas, I don’t, so I’ll merely continue the diarrhea- like keyboard pounding. I guess the image is whatever you wish it to be though Gravehuffer certainly offer a few suggestions which make undeniable sense and they even offered the artists name (Eric Sweet) I’m left wondering if he’s up for commissions?

Thoughts –

I would swear in the first track that Tom Araya makes a vocal appearance. He doesn’t (to the best of my knowledge) but it’s a great track (and tactic?) to capture the attention. As the album progresses one thing is undeniable (make that two); these guys are having fun and also don’t wish to conform to any pre-conceived genre ‘limitations’. Each track is delightfully different. Seriously, where else is one going to find an appearance/introduction by ‘the’ Buzz Aldrin. Other soundbites add a sense of levity. It’s strange that Disco and Extreme Metal play so well together, upon sharing a track, is it just me who thinks this?

The album progresses and proves it’s ok to sport a collection of tracks which are all blatantly different from one another, especially if they’re as damn impressive as the ones listed here. Boasting a list of styles too numerous to list and excelling at each they set their talents to Gravehuffer prove that infectious isn’t discriminatory, groove much like the color black goes well with everything and more importantly that this album is a blazing statement. It proves the adage that discovery and exploration is king. Lose your assumptions, pre-conceptions and take the plunge. This album has a great deal to offer those willing to take the chance upon it. Did I mention there’s a cameo by a pair of trumpets in here? There’s even a track dedicated (?) to Andre the Giant. But, that’s not all. There are plenty more surprises in store… Don’t miss out and be the last to experience this.

Final Score – 88

Ominous Ruin (USA) – Amidst Voices That Echo in Stone

https://ominousruin.bandcamp.com/album/amidst-voices-that-echo-in-stone

Release – February 2021

Willowtip Records

Genre – Tech/Progressive/Brutal Death

Artwork-

The mind spins upon attempting to dissect this image. A grand form stands front and center reaching to the heavens. Various precarious paths emanate from the form with the sun and the moon represented on either side. Does this image represent one’s daily struggle to rise above? Perhaps, either way it’s attention grabbing and bodes well for the audio within.

Thoughts –

Tech Death is an arena whereupon either an album is either one of two things. Either; over the top, fretboard wizardry on display to the Nth power (I could mention one act in particular here. But I’ll refrain) with elements which drag it screaming ferociously into SLAM territories. Or, audio which balances on the edge with intricacies and complexities on full display most usually at a dizzying speed accompanied with a “how-the-bloody-hell-can-he/she-do-that” vocal style.

Thankfully Ominous Ruin is of the former; the arrangements are jaw-dropping, the rhythms amorphous (tighter than the proverbial nun’s cooch) not content to remain static rather frenetic but highly controlled (those freaking instruments must be perilously close to smoldering) and the drumming. Well, let’s just state that Andrew Baird (also from Fallujah) is an ultra-talented human with octopi’s tendencies, if Octopi could drum at an alarming level of absolute genius. The vocals also are on another level. Although several guests make cameo appearances there’s no doubt that the primary throat behind the mic is a sheer force of nature, powerhouse, with abilities which I cannot even fathom the origin of. Just damn-! Overall, I’ve played this album more than any other in recent memory. This for me is the album to beat thus year, suffice it to say if you’re a fan of the genre, for reference this is similar to Archspire, owning this is a no-brainer!

Final Score – 98

Scarred (Luxembourg) – s/t

https://scarred.bandcamp.com/album/scarred

Release – January 2021

Klonosphere Records/Season of Mist

Genre – Melodic/Tech/Progressive Death

Artwork –

This is the depiction of someone about to explode. I believe this is where the ‘six feet rule’ comes in (?)

Thoughts-

This is a stunning example of an album I know I shouldn’t like but am swiftly falling ass over tit for. To explain; I’m not usually one to enjoy audio of diverse nature as much as I go for melody and flesh shredding speed. This however, has me rooted to the spot. The musianship is stellar, the flow sublime with an overall effect with seethes with an air of absolute composition brilliance. Tracks are delightfully unique though oceans from Avant Garde territories. Shades of Gojira, Sylosis, Soilwork and even acts of a more experimental nature (Faith no More) are spread throughout with an overall effect which results in a release with huge appeal. Progressive passages cavort with dynamic bursts of speed aided by creative rhythms and eye-opening riffs amidst a tumultuous atmospheric sonic landscape. It doesn’t get much better than this. Mark this up as one of the years earliest EOYL throne contenders, a proposition that should come as no great surprise to those who are more than familiar with their 2014 Gaia Medea album. Luxembourg may he amongst the smallest countries on the planet (is it?) but its metal speaks volumes for the talent within.

Final Score – 95

(Surprise, surprise. Here’s yet another which slipped by)

Mortuary Descent (USA) – Skeletonization (Demo)

https://lifeafterdeath.bandcamp.com/album/skeletonization

Release – December 2020

Life After Death

Genre – OSDM/Brutal Death/Doom

Artwork –

Old school gruesome Black and White imagery. This has my interest!

Thoughts-

Mid-paced, huge riffed dank and dark audio with more than enough groove to sate those whose interests run to raunchy DM with definite gutter undertones. Fans of 90’s earth shuddering death/doom rejoice there’s a new act in town who are sure to make waves.

Final Score – 84

And what would an installment be without a Recc?

(in this instance courtesy of) @DrMeh

Hate Forest (The Ukraine) – Hour of the Centaur

https://osmoseproductions.bandcamp.com/album/hour-of-the-centaur

Release – December 2020

Osmose Productions

Genre – Black Metal

Artwork –

Simplistic and stark yet the image still manages to leave me curious. Hitting play…

Thoughts –

A devastating unmerciful wall of sound awaits all ye who enter upon this audio experience. Nuances and intricacies await those who choose to embrace what’s on offer. Strangely harrowing, triumphant, yet melodious, hypnotic and often melancholic though rarely nothing short of uncompromising. This could very well be the audio representation of utter devastation courtesy of an encroaching monument of death with orders barked from on high. Regardless of your explanation/description this holds me in thrall and wields the undoubtable capacity to transfix all whose attention fall upon its wonder. Allow yourself to fall under its tremendous fury.

Final Score – 93

Recc from @LFCMFighter

Wrathrone (Finland) – Eve of Infliction

https://greatdanerecords.bandcamp.com/album/eve-of-infliction

Release – January 2021

Great Dane Records

Genre – Heavy Metal/Thrash/Melodic Death/DeathnRoll

Artwork-

A mysterious being in a state of trance evokes a creature of Lovecraftian origins. It may be merely that he/she/it is looking for a new drummer for the band though I suspect the entity is in attendance in part for vengeance against all those who frequently dine on savory sauce basted Calamari.

Thoughts –

Some albums just don’t want to be classified as either this, or that. This is a prime example. With that in mind however it must be stated that this isn’t wildly out of the ballpark of either of the genres listed above. For some reason the vocals remind me of Chris Barnes (wait, don’t go anywhere, just yet) circa the first entry within Six Feet Under’s discography. The music itself boasts rather ‘playful’ rhythms which touch upon both Doom territories (there’s atmosphere and exquisite build) and Thrash realms (without really fully subscribing to each exclusively) not really what one might expect based on the vocals. Strangely, the styles mix excellently and there’s plentiful groove if I haven’t managed to grab your attention fully just yet. Influences are far and wide culminating in a style which is often familiar, toe tappingly addictive, though rarely gets stale.

With the quality of this this in mind I believe I’ll start to explore their discography.

Final Score – 86

And what would an installment be without a Recc from Void?

Invictus (Japan) – The Catacombs of Fear

https://invictus3.bandcamp.com/

Release – January 2020

FDA Records

Genre – OSDM/Thrash/Death

Artwork –

My words cannot do this piece justice. Another blistering scenario penned by Juanjo Castellano. A gent who is quickly ascending to the throne of the most demanded in the industry.

Thoughts –

And again, Void has managed to toss a slab of audio in my direction which makes me want to slap myself. Seriously, I’m left pondering why this didn’t make any EOYL (which I’ve perused anyhow) and then why the green squirrel lovin Canuck hadn’t introduced me (to this) that much sooner. In short, this is blistering, infectious, addictive and honestly an album if had it been released that much sooner would have been heralded as a ground-breaking influence. As it is it stands as a testament to the fact that even outside of the expected geographical locations (Stateside, Europe) one can find extreme audio of a quality which mirrors distraction running into unnerving realms.

Jump on this, pronto! But limber up first. Sorry is it too late? Did you hit play already?

Final Score – 94

And… it’s time for a SPLIT

Deconsecration (USA)/Re-Buried (USA)

https://chaos-records.bandcamp.com/album/split-2

Release – January 2021

Chaos Records

Deconsecration

https://caligarirecords.bandcamp.com/album/demo-12

Genre- OSDM/DeathDoom

Thoughts –

Excellently handled cavernous, diabolical and menacing qualities (mid-tempo groove aplenty) accompanied by a vocal style which fits perfectly results in the upmost appreciation of the four tracks this act offers this Split. A hilarious soundbite (introducing “Shortness of Breath”) has me rollin in fits of laughter whilst the audio has me moving at a furious rate. WTF indeed. Overall, this is quality OSDM slathered in dense atmosphere. A fantastic greeting to an act who deserve attention.

Score – 89

Re-Buried

https://re-buried.bandcamp.com/

Genre – OSDM/Death

Thoughts –

Drastically up-tempo from the other side of this Split, Re-Buried offer audio of a more frenetic pace, slightly shorter tracks oozing with maniacal menace and an aura which nods to both Grindcore, Dirge and OSDM arenas. Thrash inspired dense, driving, riffage aids atmosphere to maintain and especially perk the interest levels of those whose audio collection includes both old and new school death standouts which decidedly veer from the more traditional, ‘meat and potato’, stylistic approach.

Score – 84

Overall Thoughts-

An exciting Split which offers listeners an insight into a pair of acts who both deliver quality cavernous tones and delicious nods to the Old School ways whilst also adding their own spin. This warrants attention!

Score – 86

A Blast from Metal Past

(In dedication to Alexi – “Wildchild” – Laiho RIP)

Impaled Nazarene (Finland) – Nihil

https://osmoseproductions.bandcamp.com/album/nihil

Release – 2000

Osmose Productions

Genre – Melodic Black Metal

Artwork-

All manner of debauchery and S&M antic entertainment in this image, is it a medieval painting? If not. Why not? That poor gent has a gas mask on his bits. Perhaps he isn’t that ‘poor’ after all, depending on its purpose and overall efficiency.

Thoughts –

Alexi Laiho (RIP)

Odds are if you’re into Black Metal or merely Extreme Audio in general you’ve probably heard of Impaled Nazarene. Theirs is a career boasting a healthy (?) discography more often than not containing lyrical themes which are more controversial than most and a style which has occasionally wavered off course from the expected. This sees them embrace more tradition BM standards (even though they’ve been known, on occasion, to mention their distaste for the Norwegian scene) complete with blistering pace, menacing vox and a raw production to match. Alexi’s (RIP) guitar prowess shines through offering both diabolical and frolicking impish rhythms one can easily lose their shit to. The drum battery supplies an infectious (heavy punk in instances) edge, set against the created atmosphere the whole effect is one which is easily consumable, especially for those with a penchant for riffs with the potential to shatter the vertebrae and snarled vocals cloaked in dripping venomous evil. I guess what I’m alluding to is that this has my unreserved seal of approval, leaving me to question what it was which prevented me from discovering this much earlier. Celebrate Alexi’s talent and legacy by taking time out to explore the various projects he’s left his mark upon (the obvious comes to mind though there are a slew of others which are lesser known).

And, that’s it. The first edition of Abrasive Audio for this year. Does it warrant mentioning there remains a huge list of albums I’ve yet to lay ears upon from last year? Probly not. I’ll attempt to, in time, as I trudge through what this year has to offer. It’s a fantastic start. Was there ever any doubt?

Fkn’ Metal.

And as is customary; “Don’t fear discovery of that which is usually foreign to the ears”.

Explore, discover, preach and support.

Cult

Abrasive Audio – A Conversation with

Going about my everyday internet wandering I recently stumbled upon a pair of music videos which left me intrigued (and grinning like an absolute loon). The guys responsible were obviously having a blast and I was more than intrigued. It took a few days, but I took it upon myself to learn more, I had my fingers crossed the band would humor me by stroking my curiosity (sorry, that sounds “wrong” in so many different ways).

I Call the Big One Bitey – Repaid in Blood (Official Video)

For those who don’t know, tell us a little something about yourselves.

We are just a bunch of dudes that love nerdy stuff and metal. We all play video games, read, watch movies and are just normal dudes.

I’m hoping this represents the current line up

When did you first realize that being a functioning band could actually pan out?

If you’re wondering how we are a band with members living across the US from each other? the answer is pretty easy. Juan (drummer) and I live in California where I write the songs along with Juan. We come up with the base of the song. I record it, send it off to Patrick (lead guitars) and Darrell (vocals) who write their parts and send them back. Juan and I will go into our favorite studio, Blue Room Recording Studio in Discovery Bay, and record all our parts. Darrell will fly in to record his vocals, and Patrick will send in his leads to our recording guy and there we have it! It’s tough not being able to do it all together in the same room, but we do what we can lol.  

That’s fascinating and shows a great deal of dedication. Why the “Repaid in Blood” moniker?

I found this image associated with the words “Funeral Thirst”. Kinda cool, huh?

The name itself comes from the lyrics of the Black Dahlia Murder song titled “Funeral Thirst”. We just dug how it sounded, and it wasn’t taken! Honestly, it was early 2006 and we had a hell of a time trying to come up with a name that sounded halfway decent. We were trying to steer away from the mall core/ screamo scene of using a bunch of words to form a band name. But every single cool, single word was already used. Thankfully we had the internet to let us know we couldn’t use an awesome band name lol.

I’ve seen the words “Geek Metal” floating about in your bio. Care to tell us more?

Basically, we have songs about fun stuff. We have songs about Star Wars, Batman, Game of Thrones, zombies, peeing on people, sharks, chocolate cereal and Godzilla! Just like with trying to find a “metal” and cool sounding band name, what else do you write/ sing about? It’s all been done, so why not have fun while playing some heavy music.

How would you describe the style of your music, are there any specific influences you’d like to mention?

My fave from their catalog

I would say we are a heavy band that likes to experiment now and again. We kind of officially describe ourselves as death core I suppose. Taking a little bit of death metal and some metal core to mix it up. But yeah, just a heavy band that likes to keep moving and grooving. Some of my biggest influences would be All Shall Perish, The Red Chord, After the Burial, The Acacia Strain, Meshuggah and Veil of Maya.

I knew it, I thought I detected the slightest whiff of Djent in “Reflective Duality” (the newest release).

I’ve seen a few of your ‘untraditional’ videos online, it’s fantastic to see a band having fun with their craft. One of these videos is a wild cover of a Salt n Pepa track, utilizing (of all things) puppets. Where did this idea come about?

Push It (cover) – Repaid in Blood

I’ve always loved ‘The Muppet’s. Grew up watching them, still do! It was always a dream of mine to make my own “Muppets” and do a music video. So, dream fulfilled lol. But yeah, took me three months to make the 4 puppets in my spare time in the evenings after work and any other time I could manage. Then did a little weekend video shoot with them all with family, friends and band members. It was a lot of fun.

Are there any plans to compose any more covers in the near future (is using Sesame Street characters out of the question)?

I certainly would never rule it out! If a fun idea strikes me, and I have the means, it will be done!

Awesome. I look forward to it!

The band’s discography is varied and spans from 2010. How would you say your style has changed within this time? (And where can I get a “Bullet Shy” t shirt. Love that image).

The “Bullet Shy” tee

Sadly, we don’t have any more of that design, but thanks! Over the years our sound has evolved a bit. I think we’ve refined as players, so things have gotten a bit more technical at times. Though I feel we’ve also slowed down a bit, and focused more on groove lately. It’s been a fun evolution, getting to mix things up. I always wanted our albums to pay homage to the classics of Pantera and Metallica where not every song on the album sounds the same. There’s faster songs, slower songs, instrumentals, clean guitars and heavier songs. I grew up listening to albums that had their own unique vibe, just always thought was cool and am trying to do something similar. In a way, because we sound nothing like either of those bands, just using similar ideas/ themes lol. 

This is a revolving door. And I’m an idiot!

Consulting EM files (anyone into metal knows this abbreviation) I can see that your lineup has remained pretty much the same throughout your history. Do you have any secrets to share as to why this might be the case? https://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Repaid_in_Blood/118375

It is definitely not the case, (poop – my bad! Perhaps I need to learn to read? *Ed) so I have absolutely no tips for you lol. The short answer is we have had a revolving door of other members besides Juan and I. The issue was if people were willing to go out on tour or not. That was always how someone left. Either didn’t want to or couldn’t tour… never hard feelings, they just couldn’t go out. So, we’ve had to find a lot of replacements, even fairly last minute to be able to tour! Musicians, lol.

 Schedules, priorities and home life responsibilities, all mortal enemies of touring.

Strange Hobbies…

I’m always intrigued when you aren’t composing, arranging, practicing or playing what might you be doing? Any strange hobbies you wish to share?

Strange? No. But everything I mentioned above is pretty much how we roll. Especially these days. Sheltered at home either watching a movie or show, reading, playing music and video games lol.

Wrapping this up, what does the future hold for Repaid in Blood?

That’s a great question, that only time will tell. With live music out of the picture for now, we don’t have any tour plans. Maybe another “cover” down the road as a single? Most definitely, probably that, at the very least lol.

Thanks for your time and patience guys, all the best for your future endeavors.

Cult

Repaid in Blood can be reached, and their varied output experienced, in a variety of places across the W.W.W.

www.facebook.com/repaidinblood

www.repaidinblood.com

www.repaidinblood.bandcamp.com

www.youtube.com/repaidinblood