P.L.F. - 'Devious Persecution and Wholesale Slaughter' (Six Weeks)
There is no grey middle ground with grindcore—bands either write great grind or they don’t. Texan grind-trio P.L.F. (Pulverizing Lethal Force) write great grindcore; the kind that thrusts a fist full of terrorizing thrash metal into its breakneck musicianship and lyrical ire.
As with all great grind records, there is a feeling that P.L.F. could come off the rails at any second, as the unrestrained yet precise drum-work of Bryan Fajardo fires each of these straight-to-the gut songs along with an explosive intensity. Because of this, from start to finish, Devious Persecution and Wholesale Slaughter is one helluva white-hot, thrashing grind record.
Barbarian Warrior is Raven Black Night's first major-label release. They play bottom-heavy doomk. This album has some excellent riffs, and is generally well written. Clean, often high-pitched vocals permeate the release, but they tend to get samey and annoying.
Unfortunately, this album's major downfall is its terrible production, and some of its tracks, which appeared on their recording Choose The Dark, such as “Morbid Gladiator”, sound lifted and remastered, rather than re-recorded. Overall it's quite muddy. It's not a great debut for them, but new listeners will find Barbarian Warrior a solid introduction to the band's songwriting and scope.
Genre: Thrash Metal
The Bloodshed Summoning is the eighth album from Germany’s Sacred Steel. While the album’s not as cheesy as the cover would suggest, Sacred Steel do come across as almost stereotypically “heavy metal.” Their sound conjures images of bullet belts, long hair and devil horns raised in praise.
Sacred Steel’s particular brand of thrash sounds distinctly Teutonic. This is mostly due to the operatic vs. raspy vocals shifts, the latter sounding like Kreator’s Mille Petrozza. It’s brilliantly produced and blindingly fast with dark, blasphemous lyrics. A thrashing good time for sure. However, the best song might just be the Misfits cover.
Sannhet- 'Known Flood' (Sacrament)
Genre: Instrumental/Black Metal
If you tire of the typical shrieks and screams of black metal music, but love the raw and vivid instrumentation, Sannhet’s Known Flood will be a perfect fit. The album is like a condensed Krallice or Altar of Plagues album, with only one track, “Haunches,” containing vocals.
The trio lacks the technical complexity of a Behold… The Arctopus, but handles unsettling atmospheres with care. A couple of seven-minute tunes are excessive, though lean cuts like “Safe Passage” and “Moral” are more effective in representing their instrumental black metal style.
Genre: Death Metal
Despite what you may think, Skineater formed before the infamous Florida Face Eater. But perhaps the dude had a pulse on the underground and took a cue from this Swedish death metal quartet. Comprised of a number of scene vets, they leave no skin unpeeled as they tear through their debut, Dermal Harvest.
Skineater manage to weave some melody into their relentless death metal attack. It’s still a punishing album, but it’s not without its moments of respite. Brutal vocals, skin-flaying leads and precise percussion make this a meal not to be taken lightly. I’d pass on the skin though.
Genre: Experimental Black Metal
Unorthodox and surreal, Cypher is the third full-length from eccentric duo Spektr. Wholly instrumental, and blending eerie samples, jazzy percussion, second-wave riffing, and industrial and dark ambient noise, it is the French band's most abstract and phantasmagorical album yet.
Tracks such as "The Singularity," "Cypher" and "Terotology" lurch between tremolo-heavy torrents of raw, psychedelic frostiness, and avant-garde, atmospheric dementedness—with crepuscular crashes and feedback slathered in warping programmed effects adding to the cacophony. Sound bizarre? It is. Frighteningly so. Cypher is hearty and challenging fare for those hungry for mind-melting weirdness that's drenched in esoteric wickedness.
Terminate- 'Ascending To Red Heavens' (Selfmadegod)
Genre: Death Metal
With its blackened heart in early ‘90s death metal, Terminate’s roaring debut Ascending To Red Heavens is far from a contemporary take. Those who hold bands like Bolt Thrower and Asphyx near and dear will be more than content with Terminate’s buzzing guitars and guttural screams.
The Obituary-esque groove of “Rotten Dead Mass” and the winding title track step beyond what is largely an album of gore-drenched mayhem. Thirty-three minutes is all Terminate needs to establish themselves as musicians vying to specialize in the art of traditional death metal.
Genre: Experimental Metal/Rock
Bank on the zaniness with this one. Anything Mike Patton is involved with generates such a tag and while Tomahawk may not rank in the same whacked-out file as Fantomas or Mr. Bungle, there’s a noticeable degree of discord across Oddfellows.
However, Patton’s totally tuneful vocals work their magic on the title track, as well as “Stone Letter.” It’s true: the man can sing his proverbial balls off, all the while staying true to the avant-garde, yet palpable aesthetic he’s known for. Oddfellows is probably the easiest to take of his bands…not including Faith No More. Oddfellows is a winner
(David E. Gehlke)
Genre: Black Metal
Since 1995 Tsjuder have been violating their style of no compromise black metal to large success. The highlight of their career is 2004s vicious Desert Northern Hell. Now being re-released by Season of Mist, Tsjuder stay true to the furious onslaught of traditional black metal instead of succumbing to the avant-garde and progressive elements that were dominating the genre at the time.
The band destroys on the Celtic Frost thrash inspired tracks “Mouths of Madness,” “Sacrifice” and “Morbid Lust.” Also included are four bonus live tracks recorded in 2001 and the long out of print DVD Norwegian Apocalypse, Desert Northern Hell should be in every traditional black metal fans collection.
Genre: Death Metal
Sure, we all like something a little different now and again, but sometimes if the recipe works, don’t mess with it, especially if it gives you (an) Ulcer. Grant Us Death, the second album from this Polish group, borrows heavily from the Swedeath cookbook of their neighbors across the Baltic.
HM-2 buzzsaw d-beat coagulates in death metal crunch and Slayer-esque solos. Thickening as it boils, blinding speed and a sinister air emanates from the tasty (and catchy) riffage and burned-throat vocals. It may be a familiar flavor, but this is one Ulcer you’d be happy to have.