And so, farewell to one of underground black metal’s most intriguing acts. Täyttymys is the swansong from Cosmic Church, and whilst it would be inaccurate to say that the solo act was ever one of the biggest names in underground black metal, they were certainly one of the more promising. Previous album Ylistyswas (or should have been) a modern classic, full of atmospheric black metal, just on the right side of raw whilst still possessing a real sense of grandeur, tapping in to something bigger than humanity. Täyttymys picks up where that album (and previous EP Vigillia)left off, summoning grandiose, genuinely epic black metal that feels as if it is more than just music, and is instead trying to communicate something fundamental to existence.
This is an album that will make a lot of people unhappy. Kill All Men (Starting With The White Ones) is the first album from Olivia Neutered John, the satirical porno-grind project of Pope Richard, and whilst that’s a genre normally known for its poor perceptions of women and anyone who isn’t a straight white male, Kill All Men flips the usual practices of the genre on its head. The record mixes sexualised topics with the kind of gore that’s part way between Cannibal Corpse and Castrator, placing women in positions of power. It’s backed up by furious, straight to the point blasts of grind, making Kill All Men a rush of furious energy, that often masks its serious points with crude humour.
If I told you that The Black Tower made me think of mid-90’s Darkthrone, Blind Guardian, and viking-era Bathory all within one song, you’d either be a) highly interested or b) very worried. Well, if you fall in to the later category, don’t be. The second album from Sons Of Crom is a masterful piece of epic heavy metal, that draws from a wide variety of influences to create something that is incredibly confident and powerful. It is also possessed of a singular vision, an undeniable sense of purpose and conviction that keeps the album focused, bringing together those multiple influences in to something far greater than the sum of their parts. It’s not often a (relatively) traditional metal album wins me over, but The Black Tower has done just that, and I highly recommend it.
The main problem with most “comedy” bands is that they simply aren’t funny. This is often further compounded by the fact that most bands who try to be funny forget to write worthwhile songs, so that even if the jokes fall flat, at least there’s a solid base of riffs to fall back on. England’s Raised By Owls differ from most comedy bands in that they’re actually genuinely funny; and even if they weren’t, their grindcore is more than strong enough to stand on its own. Combining a very British sense of humour – which should be evident from the title of The Great British Grind Off alone – with varied, impressive grind, this album is a winner on all fronts.
It starts gently enough. Opening track “Fathom” spends plenty of time setting the scene and tone, with softly sung vocals, the sound of sea and wind, and the most sedate of tempos. It’s at once a very deceptive introduction, soon giving way to heaviness and violence, but also utterly in fitting with the broader feel of Covenant Of Teeth. What Morrow have created here is a deeply emotional, passionate mix of crust and post-metal, self-described as emocrust, full of heart and power. It’s an unorthodox mix, but the band make it sound so utterly natural and captivating that you wonder why more people aren’t making music like this.
I’m not sure why, but I never really got in to previous releases by UK hardcore bruisers Dead Man’s Chest before. Something about their heavy brand of hardcore never quite clicked for me before, and whilst I could enjoy and like it, it was never to the extent I thought I should have. Well, new album Violent Days absolutely changes that. Heavier than ever, and with new vocalist Martin standing front-and-centre, Violent Days is an ample demonstration of just why Dead Man’s Chest have been able to keep going for ten years, and they show no signs of slowing down or mellowing out.
I mentioned last month how excited I was over SubRosa coming to the UK, but that excitement has been matched this month by the announcement of a new Planes Mistaken For Stars record. I honestly never expected it to ever materalise, ever though the band have been playing shows for years since reforming. There’s few bands I hold in higher regard than those guys, so I’m very excited.
But, that’s for the future. For now, we have Bloodshed Remains offering up some hardcore Peace; Austrian D-beat/hardcore/grindcore band Six Score with Lebensräume; metallic French hardcore bruisers Pallass and their Devotion Of Souls; Yūgen from atmospheric black metal act Ashbringer; UK anti-fascist black metal band Dawn Ray’d with A Thorn, A Blight; and the pumelling split between Sea Of Bones and Ramlord. Oof!