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.
Lycus - ChasmsRelapse Records
Bay Area producer Jack Shirley is experiencing something of a creative awakening in his most recent works. Having overseen the production of San Francisco’s hugely litigious metal outfit Deafheaven on their 2013 breakthrough Sunbather and last year’s New Bermuda, Shirley is fast becoming the go-to for illuminating the darkest of sounds. And it’s primarily thanks to Shirley’s adroitness behind the mixing desk that Oakland’s funeral doom quartet Lycus have manifested a successful return to form.
Chasms, the group’s follow up to 2013’s notably passable Tempest, demonstrates a newfangled brawn behind their lugubrious gloom. Here, the incessant downbeat tonal whirring ignites a Ghost-laden urgency in a genre marred in novelty and an eroding shelf life. Chasms presents a fully revived Lycus steeped with sacramental sincerity and void of funeral doom’s stunted vagary.
Dolven - Navigating The LabyrinthSelf-Released
Dolven have been described as ‘an acoustic Agalloch,’ which, in their most cardinal state, is eerily accurate. Both Oregon based acts brandish a tenebrous affiliation with neofolk; an asinine umbrella term for more experimental metal acts. The groups share a resourceful creative synergy.
Yet while Agalloch fuse their folkish fabling with conventionally torrid black metal, Dolven’s Navigating the Labyrinth rebuffs from shrilled distortion. Instead, this doom is somehow gentle yet calamitous in equal measure. Electric guitar is utilised purely for momentary solos (one of which is wielded by Agalloch’s own Dan Anderson on opener, Inhale). Aside from these instances, Navigating the Labyrinth is a precocious exercise in melodic simplicity.
Cauldron - In RuinThe End Records
Toronto’s Cauldron fashion a sound that brazenly treads in the prototypical footsteps of the early 80s New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement (NWoBHM), trumpted by the likes of Diamond Head, Girlschool and Angel Witch.
With In Ruin, their fourth studio album, Cauldron’s retromanic riffing becomes almost slapstick – a comical throwback with the most earnest of intentions. This metal caricaturing, similar to fellow descendants of the NWoBHM such as High Spirits and Enforcer, converges disparate playing styles from speed to thrash to hard rock with dulcet competence.
At times, the production tardily overestimates the worth of vocalist Jason Decay’s wailing against the undervalued muscle of Ian Chains’ guitar work. Despite this, In Ruin is an amorous ode to heavy metal’s unhallowed beginnings; oafish and addictive.
Agoraphobic Nosebleed - ArcRelapse Records
Historically, Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s oeuvre of work within the parameters of grindcore and powerviolence has been akin to the acidic singe you feel behind your teeth after vomiting. But Arc, the group’s first EP in a series of ‘solo’ records (each EP aiming to represent the contrasting tastes of the four band members), separates itself almost entirely from their garden variety cyber-grind of the past.
Far removed from the 20 minute, 100-track Altered State of America heyday, Agoraphobic Nosebleed flex their criminally unsung nous for songwriting, adapting a more comprehensive interpretation of sludge. This is violently new territory for these harbingers of hate; territory that is assured to drastically shift over the course of this series.
Krallice - HyperionSelf-released
The current rhetoric around record releases wears thinner by the close of each year. There’s a deafening white noise around today’s cryptic, pigeon-chested publicity stunts. But Krallice bypass puffy marketing subterfuge.
Within the past eight years, these black metal purists have released five LPs, frequently self-released and always on their terms. And aiding to this autonomous backbone, these New Yorkers have received an undeniable surge in notoriety. Hyperion, a surprise Bandcamp release on New Year’s Day, follows last year’s six-song download Ygg Hurr; a atavistic revision of black metal with momentary inferences of prog rock.
This EP further cements Krallice as an act bereft of attention seeking schemes yet worthy of all the attention they receive.
Satanic Warmaster / Archgoat - Lux Satanae (Thirteen Hymns of Finnish Devil Worship)Hell’s Headbangers Records
Archgoat’s lyrical contribution on Lux Satanae contains ‘hymn’ titles such as Penis Perversor, Thrice Damned Sodomiser and Angelcunt. Satanic Warmaster currently consists of one permanent member, multi-instrumentalist Werewolf; a nihilistic satanist whose politics lies in “the reflection of the Luciferian spirit”.
These Finnish acts coalesce the apocalyptic aesthetic of oblivion with a generally comical crudity. With this comes a two sided amalgam of traditional black metal and abhorrent grind. New material sidles up nicely with old classics that have been re-recorded with both groups’ respective current lineups. Both performances are grossly significant here but it’s Archgoat’s abomination of a b-side that is so thoroughly revolting.
Egypt - Endless FlightDoomentia Records
Egypt are unashamedly derivative of almost every heavy genre that precede them. This North Dakotan trio invoke the self-aware stoner blues grooves of Kyuss with the doctrinal doom conventions of Sabbath and Pentagram. Their fuzz formed desert rock has a pronounced awareness of the genre’s ancestry. Endless Flight is like a metal swab; doused in the sonic sounds of the past and daubed over contemporary doom frameworks.
Considering the group have had an unapologetically stop start career since 2005 – despite having previously played alongside Church of Misery, Weedeater and Orange Goblin – it’s finally with Endless Flight that Egypt have found a smallholding in stoner rock’s hazardously overpopulated landscape.