Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Metal Bounty Hunter: Volume 6

Yellow Eyes – Sick with Bloom (2015) / 79%
Gilead Media
"Behind Yellow Eyes" - Fred Durst

New York is definitely a hot bed for “hipster” black metal with Krallice at the forefront (sup Colin Marston) and Yellow Eyes fits the scene. While I’ll admit I’m not the biggest fan of dissonant black metal, I do appreciate the genre and I don’t think it’s the worst thing to ever happen to the underground. While not as discordant and “technical” as Krallice, Yellow Eyes do share a lot of similarities with them in the way they compose their songs and riffs. Their six compositions are all somewhat on the long side with loads of well written riffs and buried yet enjoyable typical screams. While not an atmospheric band per se, tracks like “The Mangrove, The Preserver” explores a more natural territory than most of their counterparts without turning too much into hippie/tree lovers like Wolves in the Throne Room or Skagos. Nonetheless, the excellent closer “Ice in the Spring” certain has this forest feel with its ethereal outro full of cicadas and subtle acoustic guitar

Band members Will and Sam Skarstad (no, it’s not a Viking metal band) self produced the album and they were able to retain this vivid raw sound and it was for the best, really. I can’t wait to see these guys in Montréal when they’ll play with Forn.

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Witchthroat Serpent – Sang-dragon (2016) / 54%
Deadlight Entertainment

The Baguette Doom Series pt. XVI: Cloning

The big trend in doom metal right is to sound like Electric Wizard. This French trio is quite good at it, perhaps too good even. The main problem of this scene is the fixation on the SOUND and the AMPS. I mean it’s one of the reasons it’s getting more and more popular with the non traditional metal crowds. It’s LOUD music. If you know your doom, you’ll get nothing new with Witchthroat Serpent, even their name is inspired by the used, unoriginal tropes of the genre. What you’re getting here is the standard doom/stoner clean vocals (not as buried as usual) with heavy, mid-paced to slow riffing and efficient bluesy solos. I mean, it’s not bad at all, it’s even pretty good sometimes (“Into the Black Wood”) but it’s just mundane. There’s too many bands playing this style and the scene is saturated. Be an innovator, not a follower. If you can’t wait for the next EW album, check this out.

Altarage – NIHL (2016) / 93%
Iron Bonehead/Doomentia Records/Sentient Ruin Laboratories

Basque annihilation

I really liked Altarage’s debut demo (both tracks reappear here) released last year and I was expecting something great for their debut full length, I’m far from disappointed. This is perhaps the heaviest and most insane album of the year, it’s mindblowing good. It’s primitive death/black metal with a strong war metal attitude, they’re usually in an insane crushing vibe but they can deliver on the occult atmospheric side as well (such as the debut of “Graehence”). As expected, the drumming is super fast, the guitars are so loud and heavy that their sound just creates a loud but totally blissful and enjoyable mess. Sure, it’s repetitive but so is life, death is the only solution and these guys certainly kill everything they encounter.

Think of Adversarial but add some grind intensity, a more vicious attitude and an additional thickness and you wouldn’t be too far from what Altarage plays. Their music and pummeling guitars are so intense that NIHL becomes some sort of trance experience that will nail you to your chair Nightmarish music that would make our ancestors kill themselves out of fear. All hail nihilism, the Earth is doomed anyway.


Geryon – The Wound and the Bow (2016) / 83%
Profound Lore Records

Bass n' drums abstract exploration

This band formed by the rhythm section of Krallice (yes, them again) is quite interesting. It’s some sort of bass and drums exploration into cacophonous experimental death metal. They’re like Neoandertals if the Estonian band wasn’t terrible and hilarious. The bass playing of McMaster is perfect in all its dissonant glory, as a novice (if I can call myself a novice at all) bass player, it’s fun to hear the instrument at the forefront. Compared to what I’ve heard from the debut, this is more experimental and less than trying to play death metal without guitars. The drumming of Weinstein is jazzy and full of subtleties, he really shows how good he is on the closer “Dioscuri” and its long extended instrumental moments. There’s not a lot of vocals but when McMaster sings, it’s deep vitriolic harsh vox with a sludgey feel. It's meditative, entrancing material with a simple and uncomplicated yet technical approach, I think the cover art done by the bassist/vocalist is a good representation of how abstract the whole thing is.

It may seem like a pretentious fest played by NY snobs but it’s actually highly emotional in the same sense that improvisational jazz can be, it’s metal that’s free of conventions, rigid ideas of what the “metaldom” should be and should like. It “transcends” labels and isn’t for the narrow minded. Post-black? Avant-garde? Experimental? Who cares, it’s intelligent and well played.


Apteronotus said...

If Yellow Eyes tickles your fancy even in the least bit, and from your review it seems like they do, I heartily recommend Ustalost.

Dire Notes said...

i'm glad someone else noticed Altarage and their album 'Nihil.' I was completely blown away by it, I haven't been so engrossed in Death Metal since Cerekloth released their last album (which was phenomenal.) Here is hoping there is more from them in the future!