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Columnus Metallicus

Columnus Bloody Columnus: Kez Whelan On August's Heavy Metal
Kez Whelan , August 15th, 2016 07:04

This month tQ welcomes Kez Whelan to sit on the embloodened, Columnus Metallicus throne where he casts his blazing eye across releases by Helms Alee, Horseback, Wrekmeister Harmonies and more

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One of the few positives about the deluge of misery recent events have rained down on us is that, when writing the obligatory downbeat “the end is nigh” style introduction for a metal column, you’re pretty much spoilt for choice. Paralysed by choice, in fact – and fear, sadness, anxiety, blind ugly hatred and all the other laugh-a-minute emotions that come flooding in when faced with another month of bombings, political coups, violent unrest, rampant right-wing propaganda and hordes of glassy-eyed youths banging on your front door demanding to catch the virtual Pikachu that’s inexplicably taken up residence in your U-bend.

So maybe it’s best to focus on the positives instead. For example, global warming might be melting ice caps and stewing the planet on a timescale that makes Nails records feel as long as Tarantino films, but hey, at least it has prolonged festival season for a few weeks, eh?

August was traditionally a month reserved for recovering from heavy hitters like Hellfest and Download, staring at your bank balance in slack-jawed disbelief, and realising you were probably a bit hasty in cutting all the sleeves off your favourite t-shirts. This year however, you can bask in the sun’s rays and delay the onslaught of reality for a bit longer at London’s three-day grindcore extravaganza Chimpyfest, recent psychedelic retreat Supernormal, last weekend's metal booze-a-thon Bloodstock or Portuguese riff binge Amplifest, to name but a few.

There’s also that old adage about bad times delivering the best music, and there’s certainly no shortage of that this month either, so let’s get stuck in…

Palehorse - Looking Wet In Public
(Truthseeker)

Let’s get the really bad news out of the way first – Palehorse are finished. No more shows, no more music, no more knee-slappingly entertaining song titles, no more anything. Done. You always feared this day would come, but never thought it would actually happen, right? Remember that time you saw them threatening to blow the PA in some dive bar after enduring your single worst day ever? Maybe you got fired, your dog died, your significant other became an insignificant stranger, or perhaps a pigeon just shat all over your world-weary bonce on the way to the venue – we’ve all been there – but the point is, during that glorious, sweat drenched, cochlea-rupturing half-hour that they took to the stage, none of that seemed to matter anymore. Palehorse had your back then, as they always have done, and what did you do for them? Did you visit the merch table and pick up a record, a CD, or even a patch? Hell, you could have just chucked ‘em a couple of quid for a kebab before the drive home, but no, you pissed that money away on tequila slammers and weak lager and woke up the next day with that familiar feeling of existential dread and only the squealing din of your own tinnitus there to soundtrack it. You’ve been staring this particular ’Horse right in the mouth this entire time, haven’t you?

Anyway, the good news is that their swansong Looking Wet In Public also happens to be their punchiest, most immediately satisfying album. Right from ‘Half Lizard / Half Lizard’s opening roar of “This is the last chance!” to the hypnotic locked groove that closes ‘1893’, there’s an urgency and desperate, feral energy throughout – the quintet’s filthy bass grooves have never sounded angrier than ‘Miserable Heroin Addict vs. Jehovah’s Witness Guy’, whilst their slower, Swans-ier side has never sounded as ominous and intimidating as ‘Lambs To The Laughter’, which gradually unravels into a sombre, funereal dirge topped with a cacophony of spoken voices to beautifully disorientating effect. But, as fantastic as this album is, it makes for bittersweet listening knowing that this is the end of the journey. Whilst it’s definitely better to go out on a high note than fade into mediocrity (and this particular note is so high not even your dog can hear it), there’ll be a Palehorse shaped hole in the hearts of many from here on in – how many other bands could write a song about taking a shower and make it sound like the end of the world?

The Afternoon Gentlemen - Still Pissed
(Give Praise)

Still, when things get rough, at least you can always rely on The Afternoon Gentlemen for a good time. For the uninitiated, the band was formed almost a decade ago by members of Leeds’ absurdly fertile grind scene who all played in more serious, technical or demanding projects, and wanted to blow off some steam by blasting out the kind of grindcore you can still play after downing a crate of Oranjeboom. Over the years, though, The Afternoon Gentlemen have become far more than a fun little side-project, amassing a daunting array of releases, morphing into one of the country’s tightest live grind acts and becoming our answer to Spazz with their frantic, stop-start musical assault, variety of vocal styles and in-joke ridden lyrical themes tackling subjects like getting drunk, signing on and 4/4 time signatures (“13/7 timings like Meshuggah?/Get the fuck out you muso poncey buggers!”) Their laidback attitude and sense of humour shouldn’t be mistaken for misjudged “wackiness”, however. Yeah, yeah, “grind is protest” and all that jazz, but the Gents seem to understand that staring at monochrome photos of war atrocities and trying to decipher unintelligible lyrics about the obvious dangers of nuclear holocaust are only going to get you so far. There’s definitely wry political and social commentary in their music, but never to the point that it gets overly preachy or interrupts the sheer joy that the genre is capable of delivering. This is music that picks you up, slaps you on the back and reminds you that no matter how awful the world seems, you’ll still be able to find a dingy little sweatbox somewhere on this wretched isle where you can get smashed for under a tenner and gleefully wiggle your finger in the air in time to a volley of blastbeats.

Still Pissed compiles everything the band have put out in the last three years, from last year’s triumphant self-titled full-length to the loving ode to blasts that is the Grind In The Mind EP, through to splits with fellow grind darlings like Suffering Mind, Chiens and Lycanthrophy and even the previously unreleased bonus tracks from prior compilations like Power Joogle Pogger Violence. Phew! These exhaustive discography releases can make for exhausting listening experiences, but if you haven’t been obsessively following the UK’s grindcore underground for the past few years, then this is a great way to bring yourself up to speed with one of its finest practitioners.

Blood Incantation - Starspawn
(Dark Descent)

It’s a good time for inventive, forward-thinking death metal at the moment. It seems that for several years, we were drowning in overly technical bands that tried desperately to prove their worth by cramming in as many notes and sweep-picked leads as possible, or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, bands that were content to just rip off Nihilist until the next trend swung around. But lately, there’s been a big surge in bands who have managed to marry dizzying technicality with old-school song writing chops, capturing the murky essence of what made death metal so intoxicating in the first place whilst simultaneously pushing it into entirely new realms. Take the progressive leanings of Morbus Chron, Chthe’ilist or Stargazer for instance, or the hallucinatory brutality of Abyssal, Swallowed and Cadaveric Fumes. Blood Incantation’s debut album is another to add to that ever-growing list, making its intentions clear with gargantuan opener ‘Vitrification Of Blood (Part 1)’, thirteen solid minutes of head-spinning, cosmically inclined death metal, like Immolation gazing into the night sky armed with a telescope, a batch of bad acid and a copy of Lovecraft’s At The Mountains Of Madness. It’s a bold move blowing your load with such an epic track so early on, but the following tracks have enough of a deranged energy to keep the momentum going. Songs like ‘Chaoplasm’ and the title track are extremely busy, with riffs bubbling up out of the thick, viscous aural slime and then bursting with a macabre malevolence. Starspawn is one of these immediate yet intricately layered metal albums that’ll have you headbanging like an extra in a Candlemass video on your first listen, and still discovering numerous subtle nuances and eerie sounds on your umpteenth play-through.

Inter Arma - Paradise Gallows
(Relapse)

Paradise Gallows is an intimidating, labyrinthine listen, even by Inter Arma’s standards, a band who have become so synonymous with dense, cavernous pieces of music that their last release was literally a 45-minute song entitled The Cavern. It’s well worth investing the time to get lost inside this one however, as it’s perhaps the band’s most rewarding opus so far and will further confound those who lazily refer to them as a “sludge” band. Inter Arma, along with bands like Dragged Into Sunlight, Coffinworm and Lord Mantis, represent one of the most interesting things about modern metal – namely, the point where all its various subgenres bleed into each other to create an amorphous, gruesome yet enormously compelling mutant beast, a bit like one of the Resident Evil bosses or that thing on the front of Mental Funeral.

The sludgy, doomy overtones that have always been present in Inter Arma’s work are still just as powerful here (the devastating ‘Primordial Wound’ for instance, sees them out-Neurosising Neurosis) and the wistful, Southern guitar licks are out in force too (check out the heroic recurring phrases in ‘Nomini’ and ‘Potomac’), but there’s also a pronounced increase in the amount of death metal these guys must have been consuming. ‘An Archer In The Emptiness’ is like Morbid Angel gone prog, weaving ripping Azagthoth-ian riffs into a twisted and disorientating tapestry, whilst ‘Violent Constellations’ showcases the ridiculous skills of drummer T.J. Childers as vast post-metal vistas collapse into turbulent whirlpools of blasts and seething, black metal inspired fury. Brimming with great ideas and even better riffs, Paradise Gallows is required listening this month, no matter which particular metal sub-genre floats your metaphorical boat.

Myrkur - Mausoleum
(Relapse)

Speaking of genres evolving, can we all stop moaning about so-called “hipster black metal” now? It’s 2016 – even Fenriz is making house mixes for Vice. The concept of “true” black metal in this day and age is about as interesting as watching corpsepaint dry; it’s just shallow posturing perpetuated exclusively by vitamin D deprived teenagers with depressingly conservative musical tastes and unimaginative labels who’ve got warehouses full of LPs by second-rate Immortal clones they need to shift. Whilst Myrkur (AKA Amalie Bruun)’s blend of melancholy black metal with forlorn chamber music and – yes, whisper it – pop sensibilities was a step too far for many, those who gave it the time and approached it with an open mind found much to enjoy.

As if to further infuriate her naysayers, Amalie has followed up her debut album M with one of your garden variety black metaller’s greatest fears: an acoustic live album. It’s an acoustic live album with a suitably morbid twist, mind you, being recorded in Oslo’s historic Emanual Vigeland Mausoleum, with the Norwegian Girls Choir adding some extra texture and a stirring cover of Bathory’s ‘Song To Hall Up High’ for good measure. The location hangs heavy over this recording, with the natural reverb of the room dripping with atmosphere and, combined with the gentler, stripped-down arrangements, allowing many of these pieces to breathe a lot more than their studio counterparts. If you weren’t a fan beforehand, this won’t change your mind, but if you found yourself enamoured by M’s ethereal atmosphere and really don’t care whether this should be classified as black metal, pop or, I don’t know, “suicidal blackened lounge-wave” or something equally as daft, then this is a pretty captivating recording indeed.

Okkultokrati - Raspberry Dawn
(Southern Lord)

And for more proof that refusing to give a solitary fuck about genre restrictions is ultimately for the best, consider Oslo’s Okkultokrati. After three well-received albums of snotty, obnoxious punk with more than a passing nod to Norway’s black metal heritage, they’ve thrown us one big, purple, velvety curveball in Raspberry Dawn, a bizarre record that seems to take an anarchic, child-like glee in tearing apart the band’s punk origins to reveal the industrial and goth seams beneath, and then shredding those too before haphazardly re-stitching the whole thing in the shape of a big, wonky middle finger.

It’s a bold move, and could have gone horribly wrong, but a lot of the record’s charm comes from its ability to find beauty in disparate and even cloying sounds that feel like they really shouldn’t work together. Take a song like ‘We Love You’, for example: the drums sound strangely processed and mechanical, like Godflesh’s drum machine stuck on the D-beat setting, the guitar tone is jangly, washed out and in danger of being swallowed whole by the queasy 80s goth keyboards, the bass is thunderous but buried beneath layers of static hiss, the vocals are raw, scratchy, possibly very drunk and abrasively high in the mix a la Nocturno Culto on Panzerfaust, and yet it all comes together in a very organic (albeit grotesque) fashion. From ‘Suspension’, a sleazy, low-key electronically driven track that sounds like Cosey Fanni Tutti and Andrew Eldritch duetting whilst competing to see who can fit the most Quaaludes in their mouth at the same time, to the raging digital hardcore of ‘Hidden Future' with ominous droning guitars and Vangelis-on-a-shit-Casio-at-3AM-after-a-bottle-of-Aldi’s-most-agreebly-priced-red-wine keys, Raspberry Dawn carries such a manic energy and flamboyant disregard for what’s expected of it that it is arguably both the most interesting and defiantly punk rock statement the band has made thus far.

Horseback - Dead Ringers
(Relapse)

Jenks Miller’s perpetually fascinating Horseback project has always seemed to exist somewhere on the most distant fringe of extreme metal’s wild frontiers, marching bravely into more psychedelic terrain with a chunk of black metal aesthetic in one hand and the list from the back of Nurse With Wound’s Chance Meeting… in the other. 2014’s Piedmont Apocrypha saw him dispensing with most of his earlier metal influences to explore a more pastoral, folky sound, but it often seemed a bit too sparse and meandering for its own good, especially compared to the supremely hypnotic power emanating from previous records like The Invisible Mountain and Half Blood.

Whilst similarly “non-metal” in its approach, Dead Ringers is an entirely different beast to anything else Jenks has created, emphasising the electronic aspects of his sound more than ever before whilst still retaining that earthy, organic quality that has become the project’s trademark. This is immediately apparent during opener ‘Modern Pull’, as propulsive, squelchy synths collide with ripples of meditative guitar and Miller’s melancholy, John Balance aping drawl. Indeed, the ghost of Coil seems to have made itself right at home inside this record, surfacing throughout songs like the dark, subtle ‘The Chord Itself’ and the beautiful ‘Shape Of The One Thing’, as a steady post punk stomp provides the groundwork for all manner of twinkling, tender keys, cosmic echoes and bold, reverb drenched horns. ‘Lion Killer’, meanwhile, sounds like Ian Curtis fronting Amon Düül II in the Mos Eisley Cantina, and the mammoth sixteen minute closer ‘Descended From The Crown’ is one of those pensive, trance-inducing experiences that Miller pulls off so well, ending the record in a blissful haze like ‘Hatecloud Dissolving Into Nothing’ did on The Invisible Mountain. Despite being almost twenty minutes longer than Piedmont Apocrypha, Dead Ringers feels much more focused, with Miller’s obsessive attention to detail and texture blessing this record with seemingly infinite replay value and a uniquely dark, mystical contemplative atmosphere.

Marsh Dweller - The Weight Of Sunlight
(Eihwaz)

https://marshdweller.bandcamp.com/album/the-weight-of-sunlight

For something a little more orthodox, Marsh Dweller’s debut is a particularly heady mixture of atmospheric black metal and early 90s melodic death metal. Eihwaz (and its sister label Bindrune) put out a lot of this earthy, folky stuff and it’s generally of a very high quality, but this one definitely stands out. The work of John Kerr, drummer of experimental black metal act Vit and epic death/doom band Seidr (alongside Panopticon’s Austin Lunn), The Weight Of Sunlight is clearly a labour of love, steeped in luscious, yearning melodies that flow throughout like cascading streams running through grassy bogs, very much in the vein of Agalloch or Ulver’s Bergtatt.

The Wieght has its own distinct character though, and Kerr’s nimble fretwork, galloping harmonies and soaring, emotive solos (not to mention his keen attentiveness to classic heavy metal songcraft) really help to distinguish the project from those of many of his peers. As with a lot of solo metal projects, there’s a slightly home-made quality to this album, though not in a bad way. The relatively muted, scratchy production may be off-putting for some, but if that kind of thing doesn’t faze you, there’s bags of character and a beautiful, windswept aura here that makes this a great record to battle your seasonal affective disorder with.

Wrekmeister Harmonies - Light Falls
(Thrill Jockey)

Talking of one man black metal bands, you might recognise JR Robinson from that One Man Metal documentary from a few years ago. His own musical project, Wrekmeister Harmonies, have been exploring the boundaries between drone metal and classical composition since 2006, but have enjoyed a manic burst of creativity as of late. Since 2013, he’s delivered increasingly more interesting and ambitious albums each year, culminating in last year’s amazing Night Of Your Ascension, featuring gripping performances from his pals in Leviathan, The Body, Einstürzende Neubauten, Indian and Anatomy Of Habit, amongst others.

Even though Night was one of those rare instances of too many cooks actually serving up one damn fine broth, given the inevitable clusterfuck that must have gone hand in hand with organising such a large group of different musicians, it’s perhaps understandable that JR has opted for a smaller collective this time around. Light Falls finds him teaming up with a few members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and their presence is felt strongly throughout – both the heavy, yearning post-rock of the opening three-track-long suite and the reverberant droning guitar and elegiac violin flourishes of ‘The Gathering’ would have fit quite comfortably on that band’s latest Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress’. But whilst Asunder felt a little aimless and bloated around the edges, Light Falls is impressively cohesive, making the journey from its soothing intro to the harrowing, tumultuous riffs and anguished, tortured vocals of ‘Some Were Saved, Some Were Drowned’ with a very clear, concise narrative structure. There’s nothing here that will give you the same immediately apocalyptic feeling as the last album’s intense ‘Run Priest Run’, but then this is a very different record, opting to lull the listener into a rich, hazy reverie before gradually unveiling the horror that lies at its core, rather than beating you about the head with it and leaving you to pick up the pieces.

Monoliths - Monoliths
(Dry Cough)

Here’s another high-profile collaboration you definitely shouldn’t pass up; the debut full-length from Monoliths is the work of some of the UK doom scene’s most hard working musicians, namely bassist Tanya Byrne (Bismuth, Megalodoom, Diet Pills), guitarist David Tobin (Ommadon, Snowblood) and drummer Henry Davies (Moloch, Army Of Flying Robots). You could call it a “supergroup”, but that seems a little patronising given that ultimately, this is just three music-makin’ friends doing what music-makin’ friends do together: makin’ music.

If you’re a fan of any of their other bands, you’ll know what to expect here – basically, giant riffs so dense and abyssal that if you stare into them for too long, they’ll have a right old gander back at you. But Monoliths is a very different beast from Bismuth, Ommadon or Moloch for several reasons – for one, it’s cool to hear them jamming as a traditional power trio format. With Tanya’s planet-shattering bass holding down the low-end, David is free to indulge in some wild, free-form solos without sacrificing any of the band’s crushing weight, coming across like a heavily sedated Kawabata Makoto halfway through the humongous, instrumental ‘Perpetual Motion’. The combination of David’s low, guttural growl and Tanya’s chilling, high-pitched shriek on ‘The Omnipresence Of Emptiness’ sounds fantastic too, lending a truly evil, otherworldly vibe to the track’s final moments in particular. By the band’s own admission, Monoliths have “No plan, no goals, just riffs”, and whilst that’s the most admirable way to go about being in a band, let’s hope that doesn’t mean this is a one-off occurrence, as these three have created something very special here.

Wretch - Wretch
(Bad Omen)

It’s easy to get disheartened by trad doom these days, given the overwhelming number of bands who have all the requisite vintage amps and Trouble, Saint Vitus and Pentagram adorned patch jackets but none of the riffs to actually make it work. That’s the problem when retrogressive tunnel vision trumps new ideas though; “Fuck drone-doom bands that only play the same note for an hour!” they’ll cry, oblivious to the irony that they themselves have “only” been playing the same Sabbath song for a year. Luckily, there are still bands out there like Wretch reminding us that it’s still possible to sound fresh and invigorating within this style.

It’s hardly surprising considering both the personnel and circumstances behind the band though – as frontman of The Gates Of Slumber, guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon has been keeping the faith since ’98, though Wretch is a decidedly more personal endeavour. The untimely death of his old bandmate Jason McCash casts a long shadow over this debut’s lyrical matter, and whilst the album is undoubtedly driving and anthemic, there’s a darkness and genuine vulnerability lurking beneath songs like ‘Drown’ and ‘Winter’. The catharsis in Simon’s voice is palpable, and the thick, glorious grooves of tracks like ‘Rest In Peace’ and hulking great album centrepiece ‘Icebound’ are delivered with a conviction and determination that makes them impossible to resist. This isn’t just another misty eyed, carefully considered love letter to the heyday of that classic doom sound; this is music born of hard times and sleepless nights, a primal, heartfelt and painfully honest response to a tragic world that demands to be bellowed as loudly and passionately as possible for the sake of one’s own sanity. And yes, there’s riffs by the bucket load, too.

Helms Alee - Stillicide
(Sargent House)

Helms Alee’s latest is also overflowing with riffs, though it’s significantly harder to categorise. The Seattle based trio seem to revel in this, and have somehow managed to carve out a very distinctive sound for themselves without ever confining themselves to any particular style. They’re often compared to the Melvins, despite not really sounding anything like the Melvins – presumably it’s because both bands love big, sludgy riffs but refuse to be defined by them, anchoring their madcap antics with an encyclopaedic knowledge of classic rock and punk and an inherent knack for song writing (of course it could just be because every slightly off-the-wall guitar band that’s formed in the last two decades is invariably compared to the Melvins, but hey, just go with us on this one, OK?).

Stillicide is their fourth and arguably most accessible opus, despite the fact that it experiences more wild mood swings between tracks than your average teenage headbanger. Whilst the cathartic ‘Tit To Toe’, for example, alternates between hoarse Scott Kelly-esque roars and the kind of unashamedly catchy chorus that Kylesa deployed on their last few albums, the next song ‘Meats And Milks’ takes a deep breath and offers a brief glimpse into an alternate universe where Kim Deal and Slint live together out in the desert and write country and western hits, before crashing back into grand stadium sludge riffery.

Elsewhere, the rampant, hyperactive and vaguely Lightning Bolt-esque ‘Galloping Mind Fuk’ does exactly what it says on the tin, then minutes later the shimmering ‘Creeping You Company’ slams its foot on the brakes and gives us a beautiful indie-pop ballad, whilst ‘Andromenus’ basks in luscious, moody melodies and jarring, jangly guitars like Belly gone goth before ‘Worth Your Wild’ closes the record, sounding like the end of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’ stretched out into a gorgeous, aching doom anthem. All of these songs are bound together by Helms Alee’s unmistakable skill as song writers, and coalesce into a very varied, inventive and remarkably assured album.

Trap Them - Crown Feral
(Prosthetic)

Also benefiting from the meticulous hand of Kurt Ballou this month, Trap Them’s latest is one serious return to form. Not that their last effort, the charmingly titled Blissfucker, was a bad record by any means of course, but for some reason this particular hack found it hard to get too excited by it. Maybe it was due to the fact it followed a very similar formula to the album before it, or perhaps the glut of similar Entombed worshipping hardcore bands that erupted around the same time had stolen their thunder somewhat, but it felt like business as usual; just another competent record from a very competent band.

Crown Feral isn’t a massive departure from the band’s established sound, but it’s absolutely sodden with piss and vinegar, upping their usual intensity whilst offering some even more twisted riffs. After a short intro, raging lead single ‘Hellionaires’ does a fine job of demonstrating this: the D-beats, HM2 roar and trademark Trap Them snarl are all there in abundance, but also sound more textured and intricate, with the weird dissonant notes that ring out through the chorus adding an additional sense of unease and danger that’s evident throughout the album. ‘Twitching In The Auras’, for example, slows things right down, allowing them to indulge in some creepier, atmospheric passages before diving into tides of Herculean chug a la Converge’s ‘You Fail Me’. Even the more straight-forward fodder is imbued with a mean, vicious energy that its predecessor didn’t quite achieve, with the grinding fury of ‘Luster Pendulums’ and ‘Speak Nigh’ each containing those kind of riffs that make you want to punch the base of your skull repeatedly whilst screaming “FUCK YES”, whilst the heroic main riff from ‘Revival Spines’ could easily be reworked into a heads-down NWOBHM banger if you were so inclined. At a lean half-hour, Crown Feral doesn’t fuck about in the slightest, and is a particularly potent slap in the face to the jaded critics who were worried they may have run out of ideas.

Ghoul - Dungeon Bastards
(Tankcrimes)

In one of the most adorable marketing gimmicks since the ill-fated Merzcar (a Mercedes-Benz that blasted Merzbow’s ’94 album Noisembryo on loop, constantly, forever… imagine doing the school run in that), Ghoul’s splendidly titled Dungeon Bastards comes bundled with a fully-fledged D&D mocking board game. Unfortunately, since critics are notoriously allergic to any sort of fun, review copies are sadly bereft of said game – but then again, Ghoul’s music has always seemed better suited to downing beers whilst a guy in a giant papier-mâché pope mask douses you in fake blood, rather than rolling twelve-sided die and tallying up XP points, so it probably doesn’t matter too much.

Everything that made previous Ghoul efforts such a blast is still here in abundance: raging thrash riffs, a gnarly dose of B-movie splatter aesthetic, vocals ranging from Cronos-esque snarls, gang shouts, D.R.I. style yelps and throaty gargles, knowing nods to the thrash and death classics they’re drawing from and a steadfast refusal to take themselves seriously at any cost (all of which is quite neatly encapsulated in goofy, self-deprecating fan anthem ‘Ghoulunatics’). Dungeon Bastards is refreshingly pretence free and under no impression that it’s anything but a lurid, hyperactive schlock-metal thrill ride. Sure, you could chalk it up as just another Ghoul record to throw on the pile, but in this age of macho grandstanding, tedious Twitter feuds and dull, po-faced bands who repeatedly deny themselves the simple, visceral pleasure of cracking open a cold one and stomping about to The Accüsed, maybe that’s exactly what we need.


Aug 16, 2016 6:24am

Much more interesting selections than the last few months' articles.

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Falk U Rogner III
Sep 1, 2016 5:44am

Can we also, please, stop pretending that dislike of Myrkur paints one as a hidebound, corpse-painted conservative black metaller? She's just not very good at the black metal aspect of what she does and it distracts from the potential to do more interesting work that is less concerned with sounding "metal." This acoustic release seems like a step in a more interesting direction.

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