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Columnus Metallicus

Columnus Metallicus - Prising The Metal Out Of Your Cold, Dead Hands
Toby Cook , October 28th, 2009 13:25

Cut him - he bleeds metal. Well actually he doesn't, he goes 'Ow' and starts crying, but Toby Cook is still more metal than you. Unless you're Joey De Maio

Ah, October: the last of the leaves have fallen from the tress, the vast jungle of weeds in my back garden – that have been in danger of invading the kitchen for some months – are now nothing more than a dead, slowly composting sludge. It’s finally an acceptable time of year to intersperse the endless consumption of tea with the occasional Cup-a-Soup; in a few short days face-painted, parentless imps will spend hours ceaselessly demanding ‘trick or treat’, while worrying if that story the man with the loud music on told them is true – that some of those apples in the apple bob do indeed contain razor blades. . .

Insect Warfare World Extermination Earache

What these Haribo-munching urchins should really be worrying about is the possibility that some thoughtful individual may ‘treat’ them to a copy of this recently re-issued Insect Warfare LP. Unpleasant is scarcely an appropriate word to describe the Texans' 2007 grind masterpiece. 20 tracks in just over 20 minutes, when it first arrived three years ago World Extermination displayed a quality of song writing – not to mention a general distain for any semblance of production values – not seen since the heady days of late 80s grindcore. Sharing more in common with the systematic, articulate rage of Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror than the almost comical, digitised obscenities of people like Agoraphobic Nosebleed, tracks like ‘Necessary Death’ and ‘Mass Communication Mindfuck’ speak for them selves.

The Used Artwork Reprise

Articulate, and speaking for one’s self are phrases not so easily applied to The Used and main man Bert McCracken – a sort of Kurt Cobain figure, for people too young or too stupid to know who Kurt Cobain was. Hot, steaming dollops of turgid pop-grunge seep out of every godless minute of Artwork. Full of clichéd self-loathing and cumbersome guitar work, any edge The Used may once have possessed circa their eponymous debut has finally, thanks to expensive, lavish production, been completely lost. On the plus side there’s a great drinking game centred around The Used... Every time our lad Bert says “me”, you do a shot of Vodka. (I guarantee you’ll be floored by the second track.)

Latitudes Agonist Shelsmusic

The worst thing about Latitudes is that they sound a bit like Isis... The best thing about Latitudes is that they sound a bit like Isis. Since the post-metal genre became the most predictable of all of them, those bands whose stock trade revolves around it have had to toil long into the night to separate themselves from the heard – a feat Latitudes spectacularly accomplish, by sounding a bit like Isis. The raw power of Celestial, the subtlety of Panopticon... a bit like fucking brilliant!

Black Cobra Chronomega Southern Lord

Power duo – say it to yourself. Power. Duo. Just the words alone sound great, don’t they? Perhaps not, though, as good as the words – not to mention the music of – Black Cobra. Formed back in 2002 by Acid King’s Rafa Martinez and ex-Cavity man Jason Landrian, Chronomega takes equal parts stoner rock and sludge, and pinch of Melvins-style drone, all carefully constructed around riffs that in another universe are being used to smash holes in planets. If you don’t own this, you officially fail at metal!

Every Time I Die New Junk Aesthetic Epitaph

Speaking of failing at metal, it was with some trepidation that I approached the new ETID LP – perfect fodder, I thought, for forcibly inserting into any available orifice belonging to the Hobo’s who no longer adorn my wall, but instead indulge in stealing my Tomatoes. For a release by a band that have, for their last two albums, spent more time trying to think up imaginative puns for song titles, hopes were not high for New Junk Aesthetic. So it is a more than satisfying surprise to discover that this is possibly their finest effort to date. Opener ‘Roman Holiday’ is simply punishing, with sledgehammer blows of guitar work, whilst elsewhere on ‘Organ Grinder’, vocalist Keith Buckley roars as if enduring an anal prolapse. (We’ll just ignore the fact that Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz shits emo-pop all over ‘After One Quarter of a Revolution’).

Belphegor Walpurgis Rites Nuclear Blast

According to 16th Century occult lore, Belphegor is a demon who seduces unenlightened folk by suggesting ingenious inventions to them and then sowing all manner of discord amongst them via the devlish distribution of wealth. Unfortunately, the sharp-fingered one’s namesakes – Austrian death metallers Belphegor – are far less interesting (although they too have perhaps suffered because of laziness). It’s not that Walpurgis Rites is totally without merit, more it is a thick stew of often over obvious influences; if you want something that is sort of At The Gates-ish, or marginally Cradle Of Filth-like? You got it right here. Once past that – and when the band stops fuck-arseing about with acoustic guitars – this is a solid, not to mention brutal, effort.

Revocation Existence Is Futile Relapse

Slayer are great, aren’t they? Metallica are pretty damn good too – right? And Testament have got some pretty killer riffs, yeah? Wouldn’t t be great if there was, like, y’know, a band that were, sort of, like all three of them, but all playing at once? Well now there is! Revocation! Although far more than just the sum of their influences, Existence Is Futile struggles to hold your attention for the total duration. Look out for the solo in ‘Across Forests And Fjords’ though.

Portal Swarth Profound Lore

You know those times, when upon returning home from your local boozing establishment – having indulged in one too many ciders – it seems like a good idea to cook something? Only what you end up cooking is comprised mainly of random left-overs and dregs of questionable looking vegetables. Some how, despite the fact that the result should be a culinary abortion, it tastes fantastic though, right? Step forward Portal, the musical equivalent of that very meal. They should sound terrible, and to a point, do. The drums sound like they were recorded in a tin shack, and it’s not immediately clear weather the guitarists Horror ILLogiuM and Aphotic Mote actually even know what they’re doing. It’s death metal alright, but not as we know it.

Ancestors Of Sound Mind Tee Pee Records

What can you say about an LP of over 70 minutes in length that subtly tips the cap to stripped down, Kyuss-ian stoner blues, Hawkwind inspired space rock epics, and even finds time for sombre piano ballads (the truly compelling ‘Challenging’)? Well, probably just that. Tee Pee Records are fast establishing an impressive stable of talent, and Ancestors are no exception.

Russian Circles Geneva Suicide Squeeze

Given my earlier proclamations that post-metal has become the most predictable genre of all time it might seem strange to conclude this month's column with Russian Circles. Strange that is, until you actually listen to Geneva. Whereas many a band make mighty strides by sounding a bit like Isis, Russian Circles sound only like Russian Circles. Listening to Geneva is like having your reality split down into it’s constituent parts, right before your very eyes. The rhythm section of Dave Turncrantz [drums] and Brian Cook [bass] pitch and roll and wrestle like half dead men, eating half dead men after the plague, leaving Mike Sullivan’s cogitating, looped guitars to roam with neither let nor hindrance. Fellow Chicago natives Pelican are soon to unleash their latest opus; it’ll need to go some way to better this though.

NB: The reclining gentleman enjoying some down time with his arsenal is not Toby Cook, but in fact Quietus Editor John Doran