Funny to think how much has changed in this past year. Comparing where the world is now with where it was when I posted my first set of short reviews a year ago is sobering. Let’s try not to dwell on that though, and have some music instead. This month there’s words on the new single from melo-death band Eshtadur, Cornered At The Earth; artful post-punk by Russians Mirrored Lips on чичичи; hyperspeed fastcore on the split between Beartrap and Hummingbird Of Death; soul-crushing black/death on Breeding Ruin by Dawn Of Tyrants; grindcore as love by The Brood on The Truth Behind; and psychedelic doom/stoner from Heavy Temple on new record Chasit. Enjoy!
Eshtadur – Cornered At the Earth
The problem I find with much melo-death metal is that it forgets the “death metal” part of the equation. It’s all well and good having strong melodies, but unless it also has elements that hit hard, I’m not usually interested. Colombians Eshtadur‘s latest single, Cornered At The Earth, hits plenty hard – it’s a strong, muscular take on melo-death, with pummeling drums and riffs that have the requisite weight. Rather than relying on melodic guitar leads, the riffs and movements themselves often carry the melody, and it combines well with the desperate, harsh vocals. It all bodes very well for their coming album Mother Gray. Follow the band on Facebook and Bandcamp for further details as they are confirmed.
Mirrored Lips – чичичи
Recorded live in a single take during their December tour, Russian art punk trio Mirrored Lips return with three-track EP, чичичи. Showcasing a more raw and stripped-down sound than previous release MOM, чичичи is an intruging listen; there’s a playful feeling to it at points, yet there’s also the sense that the band are making a serious point – even though the lyrics are all in Russian, the passion of the vocals is more than enough to make their intent clear. Closing track ‘Русский Кокаин’ is especially strong, with an uncomfortable tension building between the guitars and drums. My only complaint is that it’s only eight minutes long, making this a short but highly enjoyable listen.
Beartrap / Hummingbird Of Death – Split
With this split clocking in at roughly one minute in total, it’ll probably take you less time to listen to it than it will to read this review. Short, sharp bursts of fastcore is the order of the day, with Beartrap having a slightly more punk feel, whilst Hummingbird Of Death‘s side is a bit more grind. Riffs are over before they’re barely had the chance to start, the drumming is relentless, the vocals are urgent and aggressive, and yet both bands still manage to fit in distinct sections in to their songs, even if they only last for a second or two. Great fun!
Dawn Of Tyrants – Breeding Ruin
The debut EP from Canadians Dawn Of Tyrants is a wonderfully negative experience. Soul-crushing black/death metal with a hint of war metal brutality is what Breeding Ruin offers, and it is a punishing, pummeling listen. Thankfully, it doesn’t just throw the listener in to a maelstrom of riffs and echoing vocals, like so many bands worshiping at the altar of world-ending metal do, but has actual riffs, movements, and even a few hooks. Second track ‘What Can Be Broken… Must Be Broken’ features an especially impressive movement starting just before the fourth minute mark, when the band slow down and let the guitars ring out behind the vocals. The closing Celtic Frost cover (‘Dethroned Emperor’) is a bit superfluous, detracting slightly from the band’s own strong compositions, but they still do it justice. Ugh!
The Brood – The Truth Behind
Label: Give Praise records
There’s a lot of different influences evident on The Truth Behind from UK grind band The Brood. To these ears, post-millenial Napalm Death is the obvious point of reference in the main, with the songs on this album mostly lasting a few minutes each, giving them time to grow and progress rather than simply being blasts of rage (though there’s plenty of that, too!), and there’s a bit of a death metal feel at points. There’s also an obvious crust influence throughout, which is enhanced by the raw production that gives the band that extra punch. More subtly, there’s a bit of black metal going in to the sound of The Brood too, giving some of the riffs a bit of edge that is unusual in grind. There’s a lot of thought and creativity gone in to this album, making it an addictive listen. Grind Is Love! Follow the band on Facebook and Bandcamp for details ahead of the album’s release on 3 February 2017.
Heavy Temple – Chassit
No prizes at all for guessing from the name and artwork that Heavy Temple play stoner/doom metal with a heavy debt to the likes of Black Sabbath and Sleep. Chassit is something of a frustrating listen – not because it’s inherently bad, but because it’s so nearly great. Take opener ‘Key And Bone’ for example, a (relatively, for doom) short fuzzed-up stomper that starts really strongly and powerfully, but spends its last two minutes repeating the same riff with diminishing results. Second track ‘Ursa Machina’ is a slow, psychedelic trip, and the contrast between the two songs doesn’t really work – the shift from one extreme of doom to another undermines the strengths of both songs. Third track ‘Pink Glass’ begins in superb style though, hitting that sweet spot between Sleep and Boris, and is worth the price of admission alone – the interplay between the heavy riffs and soaring vocals is excellent, though it’s a shame the sparse psychedelica of the second half doesn’t hit quite as hard as it should. ‘In The Court Of The Bastard King’ closes the album strongly, with some progressive vibes and interesting stop-start guitar movements. But ultimately, I can’t help but feel that Chassit would come across much more strongly were the tracklisting to be revised. It’s still a great half hour of doom/stoner fuzz, though I suspect that Heavy Temple’s best days may yet to come.