|Original Interview: R. Matos interviewing Motorscreamer of Motorpenis in Herege Warfare Productions Fanzine #2 (2009)|
Slovakian outfit 0N0 have manufactured a very interesting product with their experimentation. Cloaked Climax Concealed is their first output in three years following Reconstruction and Synthesis, their second full length. The trio sounds like more than three people sonically; numerous layers of ringing guitars, atonal elements, and vocals creative an immersive listening experience even across only these two tracks. Perhaps the most defining element is the drum programming courtesy of Twisted. It reminds me not of other programmed drums but instead of Steve Shelton's work on Confessor's Unraveled; the usage of unpredictable cymbal hits and unconventional rhythms to back the atmospheric miasma created by guitarists Twisted and Acidmilk is similar to the abnormal approach taken by Shelton throughout the career of the North Carolina experimental doom band. Further emphasizing the importance of the drums is the subtle way in which they are mixed. The identifiable distance between crash and splash in the sound design draws the ear to the constant clattering. I am partial to the second track, "Hidden In The Trees (Sail This Wrecked Ship)" due to the solemn melodic underpinning. Opener "The Crown Unknown" has a conniving and cunning progression which appeals to me less. The vocals of once again, Twisted and Acidmilk - I am guessing one does the low gutteral vocals and one does the atmospheric clean vocals in a post-metal vein such as Jesu - are utilized throughout to highlight the changes in the track's parts which aren't always noticeably distinguishable. 0N0 are doing something really interesting. I feel they fit squarely into the post-metal heading. The usage of death metal vocals alone here doesn't do enough to escape the post-metal / post-rock genre but 0N0 are on a trajectory that could cause something groundbreaking in the near future. As of now, I expect this mostly to appeal to fans who wish they could find post-metal that had low, guttural, death metal vocals.
This four song 7" from Japanese street metallers Abigail and Connecticut sleaze metal masters Lustrum is a perfect example of the kind of quality short-plays that squeak through the awareness of so many people. Opening with the Japanese ragers, speed metal reigns supreme in influence here with opening track Thundercunt puts the record on notice for it's kick-drum romp but the highlight of their tracks, and the whole 7", is the blistering "Satan Power, Unholy War" which is about as aggressive, angry, and memorable as a song could be. Replete with essentially one main riff through the entire track with minor variation, Yasuyuki's bass rhythm pulls the track together and gives moments separation by incorporating a walking bass motif at times. Jero's lead halfway through the track is perfectly placed and adds a nuanced harmony against the aggressive track. Lustrum command side B of the 7" with "The Seven Witches of Hell". The track is indicative of the Venom and first-wave Black Metal influences Lustrum make their calling. Highlights are the slick and big transition riff that slows the song down and patiently carries it over the threshold as well as Intolerant One's massive echoing vocals. "Temple of Lust" is a little boring but once again contains Lustrum's trademark riffing style and primitive aggression. The 7" is worth it's cost for sure and is a great addition to any speed metal / street metal / underground metal fan's collection.
The two tracks presented here by, at this point in the band's history, sole-creator Joe Aversario are promising and do hint at what Death Fortress has become beyond this period as a one-man project. The most interesting facet for me is how remarkably similar they sound to Astrofaes' debut, which is one of my favorites from the eastern European black metal scene. The demo obviously lacks some of the folk elements - you will not find much folk music in New Jersey compared to Ukraine - but the overall black metal foundations present on opening track "Eternal Enemies" is not far off from the voracious hypnotism of "Fiery Mysticism". The slightly more complex "Pulling Ancient Stone" is willing to integrate slower melodic movements but the faster black metal components which build up the majority of this track also owe much to Ukrainian and Polish Black Metal. The production on this debut demo is rightly raw and underground but showcases a strong bottom end and drum production. The vocals emphasize Joe's intensity in everything he does, as I have known since his time in Dethroned Emperor. He often utilizes both a higher scream and a lower growl at the same time on these two tracks. While the songs are overall very promising in their execution, I can't help but feel that the tape is missing something stand out. Both songs are propelled by the guitar melodies but other than transition riffs, the melodies can be monotonous. Some interesting arrangements nonetheless appear such as the transition section in "Eternal Enemies" with Joe providing vocals over windy guitars and the aforementioned slower movement in "Pulling Ancient Stone" which manifests as an admittedly stereotypical strummed guitar interlude, but I am ultimately left unfulfilled.
This Boston band has undergone lineup changes since the release of this 2007 compilation on Witchhammer Productions and I've not followed them at all and have no idea if they've improved since this tape release. The band falls into a mix of black and death metal with some thrash elements borrowed from the Germans. This conglomeration of early demo material does little to inspire interest in the band, however, and I don't see myself going out of my way to explore the recent releases unless someone is adamant their new material must be heard with some form of fervor and urgency. Hekseri's demo material sounds poor, and is difficult to get through, and does not stand up to otherwise available black metal of the time period. In it's favor, there are some interesting movements and musical ideas but they are often murdered by the overall sound. Examples would be some of the guitar solos and instrumental movements in tracks like "The Atrocity" and "Der Hekenhammer". Production is so harsh on the release that it sounds like a majority of the tracks are backed with a drum machine of some sort but research indicates Seth Greenblatt as drummer during the period of time that the demos were recorded so once again the product leaves a lot to be desired. The overall presentation doesn't offer much information aside from where the material on the tape came from. Vocally, I have no idea who is doing vocals on what so I am assuming it is either Megan Leo or Larissa Glasser but once again.. no information... the vocals are the best element of the music. Deep death metal growls are interchanged with higher-pitched black metal screams and come across as visceral and emotive. For me, there's not a lot here. "Der Hexenhammer" is the best combination of the styles they are trying to put forth and gets my vote as the band's best track.
This three track release from noise artist Josh Lay explores the moods of famous mob hitman Richard "Iceman" Kuklinski, through an assortment of ambient textures and, in the case of the final track presented, "Iceman", samples from Kuklinski's famous interview with Dr. Park Dietz. While the first two tracks, "Coma One" and "Coma Two" are pure noise, with "Coma One" including repeated samples of breaking glass and animal sounds over long shifting tones, possibly symbolizing the memorable moments in the interview where Kuklinski speaks of tying cats' tails together and watching them fight each other to death, or throwing cats in a local incinerator for fun, the real highlight that is sure to make anyone uncomfortable is the final track. Through it's sixteen minute run time, Lay manages to backdrop Kuklinski's interview with a sound design that includes a number of samples that reference his spoken words. It is well done. The clear immorality and deviant behavior of Kuklinski self-narrated with such analytical indifference when paired with the nuanced tones gives the track even more of an uneasiness. At times, I got shivers, imagining Kuklinski, The Polack as he sometimes was known as, creep up behind me and strangle me. Lay's soundtrack builds a huge amount of tension behind the interview, rising to crescendos as Richard touts his individual murders, emphasizing the moments when he is at his most sadistic; when he is most authentic. It's that framing of authenticity which is perhaps what Lay has done best here, pointing out the existence of evil in the nature of man. This will appeal to fans of noise and fans of mass murderers, horror, and serial killer themed extreme music. Out on Husk Records this time, the original release contained only "Iceman" and was limited to ten handmade tapes in 2007.
Lustrum / Alcoholic Rites - Drunk and In Charge Split 7" (2016)
Rounding out the entire discography of Lustrum which has at this point been covered throughout the past several months and which will be compiled into a single post for posterity, this split with Ecuador's Alcoholic Rites may be the weakest in the Lustrum canon. It's not that Scum Brigade isn't a great song or that Burning Sin is forgettable, but compared with songs on the other Lustrum releases, these two do no stand out as heavily. Scum Brigade is scratchy and abrasive in tone and lacks the usual lo-fi occult clarity that is often the case with Lustrum's other releases. "Burning Sin" fares better of the two somehow. The main influences of Venom, Motorhead, and Hellhammer are still clearly recognizable. Alcoholic Rites is gifted side A and provide two interesting tracks. The first of which is "The Flight of the Black Owl." Alcoholic Rite's is separated from other bands by the mostly baritone vocals of guitarist Devastador. I'm not entirely sure whether this side of the split should be played at 45RPM or 33RPM but it sounds wrong both ways... almost as if the first part of the track should be at 45RPM and the second half at the faster rotation. Opening with a memorable doom-stricken motif and then running into a headlong furious riff that reminds me of the earliest Bolt Thrower material, it's an interesting combination of influences combining Speed Metal and Death Metal. Second track, titled in a uniquely Japanese manner (See: Abigail), "Alkolic Metal Explosion" is a fast two-minute long blitz of the same mixture of tones and sounds. Insane Blast Beat, who is the drummer and not a descriptor of his technique, is a highlight on both tracks. He lends the band an even more primitive styling through heavy usage of the tuned aspects of his kit.
Why Paganfire aren't a household name by this point in the underground is beyond me. It's true that these prolific Filipino thrashers have adopted a raw and purely underground sound that might not break into mainstream listeners' tastes, however the longevity and old school mentality should by this point have yielded opportunities for the band to expand outward. The music on this promo CDr is collected from various sourced from the past seven years and is evidence of the band's nature; Thrash with death metal moments in the mid-80's vein like Possessed and Death. The sound is overall very good - clear with all instruments audible but rough and ragged. I think the weakest produced instrument is consistently the drums which sound a little bit snappy in the kick. The performance is excellent though across the material entirely. Nonoy Padrejuan has been a pal of mine for several years (I released a live tape of theirs two years back). Best tracks for me are "Bloodsoaked Life", "Bitayin! Katayin! Sunugin!", and "Much of Madness, More of Sin". "Much of Madness, More of Sin" is one of their top tracks for me for it's catchy and intense riffing and harsh almost atonal aggression. If you have any doubts about what Paganfire are about, the liner notes here say it all: This CDr is spread to zines and labels and everyone else in between as a sign of life and as a huge middle finger to all trendsuckers!! Die!!." Love these guys and they should be in every underground thrasher's collection in some manner by this point.
Opening with the seminal "All We Are," Doro Pesch is on display with an incredible vocal performance and one of the most powerful and memorable female fronted Heavy Metal albums maybe of all time. What is so impressive about Triumph and Agony is the front to back consistency. While the B-sides don't quite match up with the first half, it's the kind of consistency which is not lauded enough. Practically every song has a chorus which makes you want to scream alongside the blonde bombshell as she puts the majority of metal vocalist's voices to shame. Let's touch upon the highlights. "All We Are" is the kind of anthem Manowar forgot how to write. With it's universal chorus, bad-ass opening guitar histrionics, and pounding drums the track is a warning that there is nothing ahead but full-on fist clenching and head-banging heavy metal of top tier quality. The strongest period of the record for me is the one-two kick of "I Rule The Ruins," a moody melody-reliant blazer and "Kiss of Death," which is my favorite track on the record and is far superior to both Fate's Warning's and Dokken's track of the same title. Side B starts off with the rugged "East Meets West" which alongside "Cold Cold World" are the two best of the heavy tracks from the second half. Hear her throat tear at the end of "East Meets West". "Metal Tango" should remind immediately of countrymen Accept. Triumph and Agony is bookended with "Fur Immer," a unique anthemic number at the opposite intensity level as "All We Are". The contrast shows Doro's versatility and ability to both hit the screaming raspy metal notes as well as dial it back into an emotional performance and sound as powerful doing one as the other. For fans of traditional heavy metal, especially the German style and NWOBHM, don't let Triumph and Agony slip through your fingers.