Friday, 12 June 2020

Ulthar - "Providence" (2020)

Ulthar's 2020 album, "Providence", with the Tree That Shagged Itself.

Let’s cut to the chase here and address the bleedin’ obvious. The cover art for Pittsburgh death metal squad Ulthar's new album, "Providence", is knee-deep in dongs and minge. In fact, you can't move for all the hideously mutated clunge ‘n todger on display here.

True, they all emanate from what could best be described as a grimdark cancer-tree shagging itself silly in the lower depths of washed-out, spiky hell, care of legendary UK fantasy artist Ian Miller. But still. You'd think the wretch hanging off the top right of the picture would be happier, somehow...

But enough of what you're missing. This album may not always score a direct hit, but when it does, you feel it. I've already drooled over one track, Furnace Hibernation in a previous post. However, it's not alone. Songs like Undying Spear, Through Downward Dynasties, and album closer Humanoid Knot, are a case in point.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

First Reactions - Ulthar's 'Furnace Hibernation', from "Providence." (2020)

In a previous life, I found myself, if not ravished, than as sure as heck seduced by the 2018 album, "Cosmovore", care of Oakland death metal threesome Ulthar. While it was having its wicked way with me behind a skip (it later bought me a kebab), I was impressed by how it blended huge, nasty, meaty hooks with at times deep and rich song structures. Also, the Ian Miller cover art.

As I held its hair up while it projectile vomited up the side of a Vauxhall Astra, and before we tried to find where one of its stiletto heels ended up (on the roof of a bus shelter), I was also left to ponder another question - what would Ulthar's next record sound like?

I got my answer today, care of the band's label, 20 Buck Spin. Ulthar has a new album, "Providence", coming out (if the Plague Lord wills it) on 12th June, 2020. It already scores points with another Ian Miller cover (really, he ought to be just given the brief to re-design the British Isles and be done with it). But what about the song just released from that album, Furnace Hibernation?

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Vengeful Spectre - "Vengeful Spectre" (2020)

Vengeful Spectre's 2020 black metal debut is eerily good fun.


Harsh times often require harsh music. In a sense, then, Vengeful Spectre, a black metal act from Guandong, China, is both perfectly timed, and placed, to score the sheer screaming horror of it all.

This may sound glib, but you can't deny the symbolism, or the fact that the band has worried fans asking about their status, and, indeed, health. 

For all that, its new album (out now on Pest Productions) is well packaged, with excellent, and evocative, cover art, and a novel sound which combines the more accessible end of the black metal spectrum (think Bulldozer, or late stage Immortal) with traditional Chinese instruments.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs - "Viscerals" (2020)

Pigs’ 2020 doom metal album, "Viscerals". Irony will eat itself, but has this band lost its soul in the process?

In many ways, this is the Chicken Korma of doom metal albums. That's to say, if you want to know how Indian (really, Bangladeshi) cuisine swept all before it in the UK, you have the really mild dishes to thank

Oh, there will always be a place for the anus-flaying glory of the Vindaloo, or the mild napalm tang of a good Jalfreezi. But the mild, wimp-out options, like your Butter Chickens, Pasandas, and, indeed, Kormas, gave the blander, more timid parts of the British palate a fighting chance.

Which brings us, naturally, to the new album by Geordie doom/psych rock quintet, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. (Or Pigs7, as they will be referred to from now on in this review, because RSI ain't my bag.) "Viscerals", with its knowingly kitsch, luridly yucky cover art, is doom metal, but for the ironic craft beer crowd.

Friday, 17 April 2020

Midnight - "Rebirth by Blasphemy" (2020)

Midnight's blackened thrash album, "Rebirth by Blasphemy" (2020).
I really wanted to like this album, at least to begin with. 

Ohio's Midnight is a blackened thrash band with huge, filthy punk influences. It is also the product of a single man, Athenar, whom I somehow suspect is not actually called that.

But still. Stop ruining the magic for everyone. Bad Sheep, bad.

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Duende en la Penumbra - "That Same Evergreen I Love So Well, Despite the Way Its Shadows Make Me Sad" (2020)

"A shambolic bricolage of badly rendered ideas, hurled together like debris in the wake of a tornado that smells of farts."
It would be too easy to say that the Covid 19 lockdown is taking its toll. I may well be at the 'dressing up like Marie Antoinette' stage, but that's more recreational, and frankly that's how most Saturdays go for me, as a rule.

No, what has really taken a toll is this album. This shining disc of glistening ordure. This huge pimple on the collective arse of metal. 

How bad is it? It's the last thing cute baby seals hear as some gore splatted Canadian sets about them with a length of wood. It makes cystitis in Slough sound like a viable career option.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Cadaveric Undead Mutilation - "Machete Massacre" (2020)

The problem with transgression is that it has a short shelf life. There are only so many times a geek can bite a chicken's head off before they become passe, or you end up as the last icon on your bonfire of vanities.
The problem with transgression is that it has a short shelf life. Either you end up passé, or it destroys you. 

There is no chance of the latter befalling Finnish goregrind peddlers Cadaveric Undead Mutilation, I’m glad to say. Instead, they just start out crap and stay crap, as their new album "Machete Massacre" (sigh...) makes only too clear.

Yes, all the old grindcore chestnuts are present and correct. If it sounds like every other grind band trying to out-gross all the other grind bands, that's because it does.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Cardinals Folly - "Defying The Righteous Way" (2020)

Cardinals Folly's 2020 doom metal album, Defying The Righteous Way. Also, Simon Hettrick is a narcissist and has severe BO.
Sometimes, in the midst of all the dross, a doom metal album comes along which makes you want to skip and hop. In the bleakest way possible, you understand.

Such is the case with “Defying The Righteous Way”, the new album by Finnish trio, Cardinals Folly. In a previous life, I reviewed an earlier release of theirs, 2017’s enjoyable “Deranged Pagan Sons.” 

Even then, despite their rather blatant Fin-doom influences, the band was heading in its own direction, one that was fierce and even brutal.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Dopethrone – “Transcanadian Anger” (2018)

Dopethrone's 2018 album, Transcanadian Anger. Seriously though, Vince - you're a miserable sod, even by doom metal standards.

Dopethrone’s new album is like that crackhead that breaks into your house, ravishes the vacuum cleaner, vomits over the kitchen, and then collapses half-dead on your carpet – in a clown costume.

"Transcanadian Anger", with its luridly apocalyptic cover, is the product of a band that’s comfortable with its sound, but more than able to make it do new things on every track.

That’s to say, you know every song is a Dopethrone song, with that trademark shriek trademarking away with the equally trademark guitar sound that drones, thunders, croons and writhes up and down the blues scale like it wants to give it VD. (Presumably, also trademarked.)

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Oxygen Destroyer - "Bestial Manifestations of Malevolence and Death" (2018)

Oxygen Destroyer just loves Godzilla, as per their 2018 album, ‘Bestial Manifestations of Malevolence and Death.’
What is good in life? Big rubber monsters tw*tting each other and everything else that gets in the way (usually Tokyo), of course.

We are living in a kind of big screen kaiju renaissance right now, as Godzilla (2014), Shin Godzilla (2016), King Kong: Skull Island (2017) and the forthcoming Rampage (2018) all show.

So, big monsters make for big box office, but do they make for great death metal? Seattle Gojira-fanciers Oxygen Destroyer say they do, and their new album "Bestial Manifestations of Malevolence and Death" makes the case very, very forcefully.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Something Bunny: Dubstar – “Disgraceful” (1995)

Dubstar’s classic 1995 dream pop album ‘Disgraceful’ manages to fill its songs with pain, heartbreak, hope and despair. But it does it in the nicest, softest way possible. Did we mention the crypto-fanny on the front cover? Yes, it looks like a vagina. The album’s rather good too, by the way.

How best to sum up "Disgraceful", the 1995 debut album by dream pop crew Dubstar? As we’re about to see, there is a lot to say, and it’s very good. But let’s focus on the most obvious thing – the crypto fanny.

Because, on the cover, is, well – let’s just say you don’t need much of a dirty mind to spot what’s being implied here. It practically leaps from behind a (particularly hairy) bush, going RAAAAAAAAR. I dread to think what the rabbit ears represent.

It wasn’t even the original cover, which had a fluffy pencil case filled with a folded over balloon in it. The resulting ninja fanny was so blatant, it gave you a diploma in gyno just by gazing at it. It also looked a lot like the Eye of Sauron, which adds a whole new Freudian subtext to Lord of the Rings.