Welcome to Crack’s monthly round-up of extreme music
Make no mistake, the fringes of music are closing in on you. A world preoccupied by weighty, formless experiments, corpse painted theatrics and palm-muted misery is now but a click away. Those record sleeves decked with unreadable logos – the ones formerly only available in specialist shops in grimy small town malls – are now yours for the taking.
In the last few years the heaviest, most difficult artists committing their work to tape have been able to find an audience with relative ease. Sure, the audiences might not be huge but they’re always fiercely devoted. It’s a beautiful mystery. What seems totally absurd to one listener completely absorbs another. Those who are absorbed? They’re in it for life.
Grindcore, black metal, death metal, power electronics – call it what you like – each month we’re rounding up the best extreme music we can find on the internet and feeding it back to you.
Abhomie - Larvae Offal SwineHell’s Headbangers Records
Pete Helmkamp, the anomalistic brute central to an abscess of crass acts including Angelcorpse, Order From Chaos, Revenge and Terror Organ, returns with his first exclusively solo project. Taking the form of Abhomie, Helmkamp simply wrote, “Worm Pig Shit = Larvae Offal Swine”. Linguistically, that isn’t entirely accurate. But the imperious morsel Helmkamp has previewed of Larvae Offal Swine ulcerates with militant blast beats blotched with pockets of grindcore and flesh piercing screams. It’s a riff governed exercise of thrash with the basic anatomy of black metal. So if Helmkamp believes Larvae Offal Swine to be worm pig shit, then that’s what it is. Assured to be an apotheosised debut from a well-versed virtuoso.
Messa - BelfryAural Music
In their most primitive or elemental state, Messa (or Mass) are an Italian born doom four-piece. They formed in 2014 and are set to release their debut album on Aural Music, home to a battery of progressive metal acts such as Negura Bunget, Eoront and Void Of Sleep. What separates Messa from their label peers and horizonless expanse of analogous doom groups is their acute evenness in paying homage to their sound’s ancestry without being regressive, balanced with their desire for invention without veering off a baseless tangent. Throughout Belfry’s hour-long running time, the group converge the attack-heavy purple haziness of Pentagram with the melodramatic piety of Sunn O))) or Sabbath Church. And amongst all of their unwieldy distortion, folk-tinted experimentation and occult imagery comes this rhapsodical vocal bliss from Sara. Her tone is like thrumming peel of a bell. Altogether, Belfry is a beacon for doom’s future innovation. Grandiose and rapturous.
Mantar - Ode To The FlameNuclear Blast
Since the release of their 2014 debut, Death By Burning, German duo Mantar have performed the improbable. Their skin cleaving, unforgivably spiteful sludge laden black metal has received widespread international acclaim both in and outside of the genre’s core market. Death By Burning laid the groundwork for the pair to augment by a formula based upon sheer combative invention. And it’s this resourceful foundation that made their recent signing to Nuclear Blast such a sure thing.
Ode To The Flame solidifies Mantar as one of the most exciting metal acts to arise from the underground. Their punchy bass guitar omitted riffing cheekily toys with hardcore’s neanderthal 2-step construct, sections devoted to danceable rhythmic measures, but encases it within fast-paced timbre-less dissonance. Segues from OZ to I, Omen or The Hint and Born Reversed highlight this versatility in playing styles perfectly. As a followup, Ode To The Flame is another example of Mantar’s ability to write densely comprehensive metal anthems; ones that are capable of mass appeal.
New Keepers Of The Water Towers - Infernal MachineListenable Records
Infernal Machine, New Keepers Of The Water Towers’ followup to 2013’s similarly unorthodox Cosmic Child, is a truly left field affair. It’s a seven part retelling of Joe Haldeman’s 1974 novel The Forever War (a story intended to be brought to screen by director Ridley Scott which has patiently remained ‘in production’ since 2008). The novel allegorises Haldeman’s service during the Vietnam War but loosely realigns as an interstellar war between man and an alien species. New Keepers dutifully thus apply their prog-centric Porcupine Tree nodding psyche metal to soundtrack Haldeman’s military space opera. The final product is a psychotropic gust of groove heavy compositions akin to the verbose layering of Swans or the tripped out experimentation of Wish You Were Here era Pink Floyd. This is Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds for junkies.
Wode - WodeBroken Limbs Recordings/ Vendetta Records
There’s a working dichotomy in Wode’s self-titled debut. In a single amalgam, the Manchester four piece meld traditionally morose black metal with notably elating atmospherics. Similarities have already been drawn with Emperor, Immortal and a diatribe of fellow UK black metal outfits such Winterfylleth and Caïna.
What’s significant here is Wode’s limited catalogue of material. Formed in 2010, they have only released a three track demo prior to this record. Unlike the exhaustively unabridged nature of self-governed black metal bands, where every solitary moment is an opportunity to release another exclusive limited edition flexi disc, Wode seem to only share their work when they know it’s worthy of attention. They possess a prowess many of their contemporaries lack; resourcefulness and censorship. This debut is an auspicious position for Wode’s austere black metal to germinate from. A baron marsh of technical artistry and towering aptitude.
Piss Vortex - Future CancerIndisciplinarian Records
This is Ned Beatty in Deliverance getting molested by Appalachian inbreds. It’s like prizing away your ankle from the blades of a bear trap only to let go at the final moment. It’s your line of vision finding the cracks of light between your trembling fingers. It’s diseased. Rotten. Truly hateful stuff. Even if you’re not easily phased, Piss Vortex will seriously shake you.