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Columnus Metallicus

Horns Up Ya Shitters! The Best Recent Metal Reviewed
Mat Colegate , November 29th, 2013 10:48

Mat Colegate steps manfully into the breach and surveys the recent metallic activity

Oh, what fresh perversion is this?! Hail, fellow travellers of the necrotic tundra and welcome to another Columnus Metallicus. It is an honour to have been asked to fill the big iron boots of Toby Cook and to shepherd the pick of the last few month's metal releases up and down before your disbelieving eyes. Toby will be back when... well it's hard to tell. You know that scene in Gravity where (SPOILER ALERT) George Clooney gets assaulted by the tentacles of that dimension hopping astral demon and eats a whole meteor before being sucked screeching into the hellish void of deep space? Yeah? Imagine a drunken Rumbelows' cup version of that and you're somewhere close. Obviously, space being deep and, as Hawkwind put it, oh so endless (and that's extremely endless indeed, folks) I can't pinpoint exactly when our brave traveller will return. I can however reveal that Toby's last words before his disappearance were, “Listen to Domovoyd! They sound like Gnod playing Electric fucking Wizard or something!” and it is in the spirit of such wisdom that this month's column is proffered.

Shitfucker - Suck Cocks in Hell
(Hell's Headbangers)

Once again proving the old adage that there ain't no scene so necro that the bros won't show, come these Detroit dirtbags, resplendent in puke-encrusted denim and cum-splattered gauntlets, cheap beer frothing out of their noses like the shit-stained demon steeds of the apocalypse and determined to throw down like it's nineteen-eighty-booze. This is a party record, son. I mean, you wouldn't want to go to the party, you'd end up having a pair of Harley handlebars tied to your head while a tattooed man called Big Horse used your rectum as a bottle opener, but from this safe distance it looks to be an inner city riot. A shot-gunned vomit cocktail of Venom, early Bathory and Motörhead that sounds like it was recorded by a trio of priapic leather-gnomes in a rusty watering can and features titles like Sex Dungeon, Smash Your Skull and Acid Bath (the latter a charming ode to lonely hearts poster boy Jeffrey Dahmer). You know what you're going to get with these bozos, for sure, but there's a fresh foul smell to these hymns to Satan, skullfucking and smashing shit up that might have something to do with their firm, yet nonetheless surprising melodic chops. Seriously, if you can get the chorus of 'Demonic Rock' or the Dead Boys-esque 'OooOOO!'s of 'Sex Dungeon' scrubbed out of your head in time for your mum's visit to your festering, encrusted plate-strewn hole of a flat then you are doing far better than I did. I stopped playing this album three days before she came round and aired the place thoroughly and she still vomited from its stench when she passed the threshold. Fun rancid fun rancid fun fun fun.

Botanist/Palace of Worms – Spilt EP 1: The Hanging Gardens of Hell/Ode To Joy
(The Flenser)

As his name would suggest, the plant kingdom is the domain of Botanist and his unconventional style of one-man-black-metal reflects his fascination with all things flora and fauna. Screeching his sinister calls to arms from the perspective of a vegetable potentate awaiting the downfall of man is a bold move in its own right, but replacing the usual what-I'm-contractually-obliged-to-call-a-blizzard of guitars with a hammered dulcimer is a whole different level of whacked. Kudos, carrot fancier, because your bravery is, for the most part, rewarded. Sure, occasionally King Celery miss hits and the results lurch a little too close to post-rock for comfort, however when he gets the balance right the ringing tones of the dulcimer serve to give the usual blast beats an' shrieks a wonky air of grandeur that brings to mind the ancient rites and temples of antiquity and that suggest a weird – and lets face it extremely unlikely – moonlit meeting between Burzum and Konono no.1, officiated over by a goat's head carved out of a prize winning marrow.

EP sharer Palace of Worms – another one man project – sticks more rigidly to the formula set down by Leviathan et al but is no less satisfying for it. Opening proceedings with the kind of wibbly spoken word vocals favoured by charmers like Sutcliffe Jugend before the what-I'm-still-contractually-obliged-to-call-a blizzard of guitar kicks in and he starts chucking around tinny keyboard fanfares, semi-operatic vocal breaks, an almost Maiden-esque sense of grandeur and the kind of bleak atmospherics that bring early Cure and Joy Division to mind. It becomes quickly apparent that this fella has a lot of ideas to play with and a knack for hammering them into pleasing shapes that on the first few listens can confound the ear. It doesn't all always stick together, sure, but the moments when it does, such as 'Twilight Of The Idols (For R.B.)''s unexpected phased electronic breakdown and Beherit-esque vocals, mark Palace of Worms down as someone who's willing to take more than a few risks with what can be a boringly hidebound genre.

Brutal Truth/Bastard Noise – Axiom Of Post Inhumanity

Brutal Truth! Bastard Noise! How much fun does that sound!? Okay, it sounds about as much fun as an octopus in the face but what the hell, I'm a committed man and this is definitely a record that rewards commitment, which is ironic really because if you played it too loud in public you'd end up being committed. Neat eh? Not really, Mat, not really. Bastard Noise take the biggest chunk of running time with no less than seven assaults on your sanity, ranging from the kind of shrieking high-end din that got Prurient barred from ever playing the Harvester restaurant chain, to more reflective, almost cosmic, noise feasts. The charred ambience of 'The Horizon On Lynx'-stands out, suggesting as it does Apollo-era Brian Eno hallucinating an army of flying insects after eating a bad hamburger. It also has the most appropriate title of the month, as it uncannily replicates the experience of looking out to sea after downing six cans of cheap corner shop lager. After this grim wallow in the styx the presence of Brutal Truth comes almost as a relief... oh, sorry, no it doesn't, it's fucking horrid. Glowering unnervingly from your stereo like some kind of atavistic, pissed off water buffalo, Brutal Truth choose a (slightly) subtler approach to their racket, revelling in crackle, drone and static buzzes over their three contributions. This split isn't strictly metal, I suppose, coming closer to straight up power electronics, but seeing as listening to it made me cry petrol I would suggest that it is, in fact, VERY METAL INDEED.

Celeste – Animale(s)

In which one of the single most powerful creative forces in the world today just get more... more. I warn you now, I can get unnecessary about Celeste, to the point of routinely lambasting frightened looking strangers at parties for having not heard them, but by the chattering of my teeth they never fail to deliver and what we have here is a bumper delivery indeed. A double album – a double concept album, no less – that sees the French four-piece refine their blackened nihilistic hardcore into one of the most fearsome weapons around. If you're one of those who's criticised them for their lack of range in the past then this album is not going to change your opinion. On, ON! it pummels, leaving nothing but splintered bones and spat, bloody teeth in its wake. Indeed it becomes apparent during Animale(s) that Celeste have actually toned down the dangerous hints of variety displayed on their last monolithic slab, Morte(s) Nee(s). No more experiments with mournful strings and harrowing vocal samples here, just surging, passionate, balletically agile aggression from the get go. They're clearly Very Clever Bastards are Celeste, finding kinship with that school of intellectually rigid French extremity that includes films like Martyrs and Irreversible, and like those two cinematic stomach churners they know how to apply pressure to your wounds until you learn how to love a whole different way. The occasional drops in pace certainly do nothing to reassure you, sounding as they do like funeral music for morality itself and filling your head with solid black shapes before the next scathing assault smashes them into icicles and leaves you gibbering, spitting and busting the claw so vigorously that someone pulls the emergency stop leaver on the tube. I told you I could get unnecessary about them. The concept? Well apparently it's a pitch black story of two tragic young lovers, meaning that this album is basically Fucked Up's David Comes To Life re-written by Georges Bataille, and if that doesn't strike you as a recommendation then you and I are just not going to get along, son. Immense.

Domovoyd – Oh Sensibility

Because you want to stand on a high mountain, back to the setting sun, loons flapping in the breeze and tripping balls so hard that Azrael the Angel of Death himself avoids your soul for fear it might make him "go weird". Heavy psyche is certainly not a music in short supply these days and, more often than not, while its heaviness is rarely in question it's about as psychedelic as a cricketing injury. Let's say this one time, nice and loud so that they can hear us in the back, eh? USING LOTS OF EFFECTS PEDALS DOES NOT MAKE YOU PSYCHEDELIC. It can help certainly, but merely cranking out bog standard riffs for over five minutes while stepping on so many stomp boxes that you resemble some kind of troglodyte Fred Astaire just does not cut it any more. You need guts to be psychedelic, you need an adventurous spirit and a lion's mighty heart. Only then will you be able to cross the gulf of Argonax and seize the prized soul jewel in order to free the Princess of... sorry, I was playing Dungeons And Dragons there... Where am I? Right, Domovoyd. What these Finns have that a lot of their hairy, free loving contemporaries do not is precision. They know exactly how to weight their riffs for maximum impact; when to step back from the chaos and when to push the metal to the floor of the Big Space Rig and roar off into the howling nebula. The result is brassy, tripped out and - especially on the 13-minute-plus 'Effluvial Condenser' and the screeched mantra of 'Lamia' – fucking colossal.

Oozing Wound – Retrash
(Thrill Jockey)

Aaaand we're back at the party! Did you miss us, fellas? No? Ah, fuck you then. Leavening their rifferama with the same beer-fuelled intensity that drives prime High On Fire, Oozing Wound are clearly not threatening anyone in the originality heats, but then that's not the point is it? The point, on the evidence of this, the Chicago three-piece's debut album, is to hammer a warm lager down your neck, rip the arms off your denim jacket and leap head first through the local kebab shop's front window, before using the word "dude" a lot in your inevitable remonstrations with the local constabulary. It's fun, in other words, a whole sweaty, stinking ruck of basement smashing fun. Song titles such as 'Autopsy Turvy' and 'Sustained By Hatred (Rambo 4)' are the obvious giveaways, but don't let these jokers lull you into thinking they don't give a shit, because the riffs here are fearsome. Seriously, Matt Pike himself would kill for some of these barbed-wire wrapped scud missiles. Check out the face-ripper that runs out in front of your car waving its shaggy arms about at the beginning of 'New York Bands', or the pummelling meted out to the ears by the frantic chug of 'Welcome To The Spaceship, Motherfucker' (Jesus, it's been a good few months for song titles). These guys are certainly no slouches on the arrangements front, a total lack of soloing ensures that every element is super shipshape and flab free for maximum brutality and leads to some stunningly intense passages. The endless cycle of riff that closes 'New York Bands' made me feel like that replicant lady in Blade Runner when she's boshing through all those panes of glass after being shot. Just like that. But really, really drunk. Obviously.

Oranssi Pazuzu – Valonielu

Surprise of the month! Normally I run like a startled antelope at the mention of 'progressive' black metal, being as it's so often a short hand for 'previously scorching band's slightly wonky attempts to be taken seriously by their mums', but this latest album from Finnish foursome Oranssi Pazuzu manages to get all the elements just right. The riffage is tar-thick and gloriously ponderous, scraping leftovers from the corpse of Entombed's Wolverine Blues, but still managing to pack a hefty clout of its own. The electronic elements are woven in seamlessly, stuttering and spluttering all over the deafening mess, but it's how it makes you feel that marks this album out as a true (sorry 'TRVE') inheritor of the keys to the Church of Misanthropic Oblivion. This record makes me want to pull a face like I've just stepped on a piece of Lego in bare feet and beckon towards invisible mind castles on the edge of man's comprehension. It makes me want to sail a skull-prowed longboat into the dreams of sleeping children. It simultaneously sounds like a voyage down the laser Nile and a holiday in a burned-out tree house. Psyched out? You betcha. There's elements of Floyd at their most chillingly numbed, as well as a host of krautrock influences in the marriage of monolithic riffery and paint-peeling electronics, and in vocalist Jun His Oranssi Pazuzu, they have a devastating weapon, his wounded roar ensuring that despite its many stylistic leaps and contortions the album stays focussed and third-eye blindingly powerful.

OvO – Abisso
(Supernatural Cat)

In which every record you have ever used the word 'heavy' about is revealed to be about as 'heavy' as a fine china model of a shepherdess. Actually that's probably the wrong word, OvO go out the other side of 'heavy' and end up somewhere closer to 'harrowing'. Stefania Pedretti's soured shriek of a vocal style is the aural equivalent of having a one of the Cenobites from Hellraiser pull itself out of your mouth, while her guitar playing has the ability to uncannily replicate the sound of a naked body being dragged across wet rubber. Of course, all this unpleasantness would amount to nothing if the tracks weren't also shit hot, but thankfully OvO have nothing to fret about. Held together by the ludicrously funky drumming of Bruno Dorella - a dude who can make your neck snap back and forth like a hangman - every track on Abisso is razor sharp, focussed and dedicated to causing maximum distress. There's a surprising variety here as well, whether it's coaxing former Khanate vocalist Alan Dubin out from under whatever pair of soiled knickers he's been sleeping beneath to contribute vocals to the lecherous plod of 'A Dream Within A Dream' or engaging in a spot of thuggish glam stomping on 'Harmonia Macrocosmica', OvO ensure that you never once avert your horrified gaze. By the time the weirdly disconnected samples of what I presume are Italian folk songs start floating across the devastation you're gawping like a landed carp at the scale of the carnage. Terrifying and impossible to ignore.

Satan's Satyr's – Wild Beyond Belief!
(Trash King)

I must admit to having been a bit put off by Wild Beyond Belief's cover art. There it is, revelling in its Russ Meyer-esque B-movie goonery, gamely trotting through the biker rock book of cliched track titles with their references to witches, whips and wampyrs. “Does anyone think the horned one can actually be bothered with this stuff?” I wondered, sipping my Earl Grey “surely he's more of a Hall and Oates man?” Y'see, I don't wish to upset anyone with inverted blasphemies, but a lot of that post-Electric Wizard school of heavily stoned retro rock, with its unholy trinity of Beelzebub, bikers and bongs leaves me a bit cold. It all just seems so, well, so obvious, any frisson contained within the separate elements long since dulled by familiarity. However, having given this album a thorough throttling over the last few weeks I can reveal that I deserve to be tarred, feathered and dragged out of Shitsville tied to a petrol spitting hog for my ignorance, because this album slays. Originality be damned, child, this wild ride is a blast. Tongue firmly in cheek it rampages through eight tracks of horribly produced, gnarled and scuzzy biker trash that sets its stall out firmly in the Blue-Cheer-via-Comets-On-Fire gutter and proceeds to spit petrol into the eyes of non-believers. The mix is insanely blown out; great rutting clots of low end dominating the vista while occasional spurts of scything wah erupt from the edge of the speakers. At one point a seedy, Seeds-y organ pipes in and ineptly sputters over the proceedings, adding even more hilarity to what was already a pretty awesome party. Want to see your local biker chapter revisit their youths and set fire to a police station before urinating on a church alter? Then play 'em this little beltane- and Baphomet-fuelled belter and stand well back.

Seremonia – Ihminen

And while we're on the subject of objects that could have been sculpted in days of yore... ah, that's unfair. Not one of Seremonia's many, many reference points (Curved Air, Sabbath, numerous hairy Scandinavian psychers with checked loons and dubious body odour) sounded like they were having anywhere near this level of whacked out fun. The secret to this retro lark, of course, is not to be too gosh-darned respectful to your forebears. Seremonia have clearly taken this advice to heart and have chosen to skirt around danger by attacking every song like a gang of hairy toddlers. The drummer in particular often sounds like he's trying to play seven different beats at once, while the fuzzily numbskulled riffs have a puckish attack that pushes them closer to punk than to any studious retro book balancing. Seremonia generally keep things short and to the point as well, not letting the songs drag. Getting in, riffing like hell spawn and checking the hell out. Again it's an approach that lends itself readily to punk comparisons. Check out 'Suuri Valkeous' if you were ever intrigued by what it would have sounded like if Siouxie Sioux had fronted a particularly aggro Soft Machine.

That's it for this month. Next month the training wheels come off and I no doubt plough painfully into a bus. Until then,

Horns up, ya shitters!