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.
Misanthropic Rage - Gates No Longer ShutGodz Ov War Productions
Deconstructionism is one of contemporary metal’s cardinal tools. As Jacques Derrida’s seminal 1967 thesis Of Grammatology outlines, the relationship between text and meaning permits us to reassess all traditional assumptions of language, contextual signifiers and creative dialects. Misanthropic Rage – a Polish duo mistakenly perceived as a black metal outfit by name and aesthetic – own the bare bones of this deconstructionist philosophy. Deconstructionism is their brutish weapon of choice; vigorously fusing together all forms of extreme sounds and creating something entirely new and entirely unrestricted.
This aptly titled debut LP is not so much an opening of the gates in terms of musical exploration but a violent bank bursting of stylistic ingenuity. With black metal as its nucleus, Gates No Longer Shut camps itself in classic Moonfog era territory but traverses from grind to atmospheric to kvltish trilling to stalwart blast beating. It’s a Quality Street of metal diversity and a testament to both how far the genre has come. Having set the bar so high over a single EP release before Gates No Longer Shut, the expectation for Misanthropic Rage to be the poster duo of black metal’s next gen is extraordinary. But as the group’s bio confirms, they refuse to be ‘post this or that’ and instead choose to concentrate on pushing boundaries ‘in a respectable, reverential manner.’ A solid LP with its footing in the past but its eyes fixed on the future.
Oozing Wound - Whatever ForeverThrill Jockey
With a perfectly placed jab to the blubbery paunch of the industry hype machine, Oozing Wound took a documented referral as being ‘the Nirvana of thrash’ hilariously well. In fact, their stately label Thrill Jockey were so ‘excited’ by this prospect that they sat the Chicago trio down to discuss how this badge of distinction was reflected in their work. As anticipated, it was met with the same pugnacity that has grown accustomed to the group’s sneering public identity. Instead, Oozing Wound shrugged off the loose accolades and rightfully described their music in their own terms. ‘A horrifying concoction of apathy and malaise…’ guitar and vocalist Zack Weill claims of Whatever Forever, the band’s third LP since 2013’s debut, Retrash.
According to the group, their work process is driven by a collective nihilism and ‘a belief that taking anything too seriously is a guarantee it’ll suck.’ Not only does this record not suck, it wretches on the girth of its own savagery. Such a potent use of disorder makes Whatever Forever a prolapse of combative riffs and scrambled time signatures. It took four days to produce – three days longer than Retrash – and the band have utilised that extra time by neglecting the calamitous urgency of their debut in order to fine tune their anarchic craftsmanship as genuine songwriters. Oozing Wound put it best: ‘The same people made it but we all got BETTER at it this time, not worse.’
Riti Occulti - TetragrammatonNordavind/ Triton's Orbit
Italy’s Riti Occulti are regarded as a bit of an aberration. They fashion a sort of delusion of doom or at least a deviation from its usual tropes. Primarily, there is a distinct omission of six-string guitars. Instead, fatty pounds of bass are omnipresent like the filing down of rusted machinery. The Roman five-piece are also heavily dependent on Emperor-afflicted synths. Vocals are shared between the raspy croaks of Serena Mastracco and whistle clean carolling from Elisabetta Marchetti – a ‘light and dark,’ ‘good vs. evil’ interplay like the call and response between heaven and hell. It’s unashamedly quirky. Indigestible at times. But if you succumb to the group’s profoundly overdecorated interpretation of the Kaballah with all its occultish truisms in tow, Tetragammaton is not only hilariously entertaining but hilariously sincere.
Winterfylleth - The Dark HereafterCandlelight / Spinefarm Records
As we enter the most aesthetically appropriate season for black metal – where the scars of the basking sun tighten and pulse beneath the roots of deadened trees and the clouds turn lesions of porous ash and all but immortal blight ceases to live etc. – it just wouldn’t be the same without a solid release from UK genre titans Winterfylleth.
This, their first entry for Spinefarm, thematically concentrates on the ignorance of mankind and, in a turn of phrase that would make Adam Curtis fall to his bare boned knees in reverence, how society has failed to learn from the wisdom of the ages. In a career spanning almost a decade, The Dark Hereafter feels like a inward, self-reflective appraisal of the group’s triumphs over the years.
Ensigns of Victory owns a paradoxically morbid cheeriness; internally positive with a cadaverous grimace. Green Cathedral plays counterpart to this; a soundtrack to defeat, a cradling of subjugation. Beautifully constructed and perceptibly contrary emotions captured over a mere 40-minutes. Comparatively, The Dark Hereafter doesn’t feel as urgent as 2014’s The Divination of Antiquity (arguably their most important record), but it feels that this Manchester band are finally playing exactly the type of emotive black metal they’ve been striving to deliver for the past ten years.
Alcest- KodamaProphecy Productions
Inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s film Princess Mononoke, Kodama, the fifth studio album by French blackgaze duo Alcest, is a conceptual storytelling of ‘the confrontational of the natural world and the human world.’ It took three years to write and three months to mix and produce (statistically enough time for Oozing Wound to release approximately 22 records).
It’s thematic leanings aid in the record’s sporadic shift of moods from convoluted guitar gadgetry to technically exhaustive soundscapes. Sonic nods to Smashing Pumpkins, Cocteau Twins, Explosions In The Sky and even Grimes have been made albeit loose nondescript references.
Alcest’s compositions are habitually complex, candidly merging their influences without fear of a complete creative omnishambles. And yet, they still maintain to adhere to this hybrid genre, blackgaze; a contentious title to say the least. Kodama presents a dichotomising area of metal, one that isn’t as militantly dedicated to a single form but constantly alters state. And much like its Studio Ghibli abstractions, it’s a spiritual escapade of style and substance.
Wormrot - VoicesEarache Records
Something’s happened to Singapore trio Wormrot. Something not entirely right. It’s like a limb has been messily cleaved from the group’s anatomy. A limb responsible for time-keeping, rationing the group’s collective stamina and generally hitting skins so hard that it tickles your cheekbones. The fact that original drummer Fitri had to be replaced halfway through the recording of Voices by Vijesh for personal reasons has left the record at a bit of an aggravating quandary.
Did Fitri really strip Wormrot of their boundless aggression on his departure triggering a premature demise of one of the more reliable grind acts this side of the 21st century? Not entirely. Voices may be more melodious, a little more distracted than the band’s previous records, but there’s a dynamism here that hocks globs of fury at the band’s frustrating situation. Yes, at times Voices feels strangely unfinished, like the vacuous shrugs of Defaced or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Grind. But then there are moments of true progression here. The 1st World Syndrome, Forced Siege and Shallow Standards are fatally dexterous in dividing sections from generic riffing to all out instrumental carnage. Not their best, but a tumultuous step forward.
T.O.M.B. - Fury NocturnusPeaceville Records
An increasingly reliable metal tastemaker informed me that Total Occultic Mechanical Blasphemy met their drummer, Hellhammer (of Mayhem), in Oslo during the early stages of recording Fury Nocturnus. Hellhammer escorted the group to the grave of Euronymous (Mayhem co-founder murdered by Burzum’s Varg Vikernes in 1993). Surrounding his tombstone, the group partook in field recordings, many of which were distorted, gnarled and perverted in the studio with Hellhammer’s drum accompaniments.
This is potentially the most extreme, most incendiary addition to any In It For Life list yet. It’s disturbingly NSFW – something that could warp even the most indomitable mind. It’s anti-music. Not only have you been warned, you’ve been urged to consider your entire impression of sound and its potential to provoke genuine sadness, anger and confusion.