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.
Battle PathAmbedo (Inherent / Crimson Eye Records)
Amidst the Stepford Wives cosmopolitan of Murfreesboro Tennessee, Battle Path soundtrack a polemically barren landscape of their perfectly provincial birthplace. Since 2011, the five-piece’s banefully decelerated black metal has been hightailing out of their suburban penitentiary and shrilling for international acclaim. Succeeding two relatively straightforward records, 2011’s Storm & Stress and 2012’s Empiric, Battle Path have amended their relationship with experimental ambience and fine-tuned their callous melancholy.
Ambedo is a far more tentative release than their previous offerings. The bright sludge and tenebrous feedback of tracks like A Thirst For Blood and Finis Omnium typify Battle Path’s progressive negligence towards settling within any particular field of metal. Now, their attention lies with tempering moods of wistful gloom; both formidable and arresting in one single turn.
Mammoth StormFornjot (Napalm Records)
Last year, Sweden’s Mammoth Storm released Rite of Ascension, a two track EP spanning 24 minutes in length. The EP was a pestle and mortar of grounded stoner drone and riff-dependant metallic doom. Its tonality and production standard walloped on the chest of Swedish metal, boisterously winding the genre’s contemporaries.
Today, Fornjot (Norwegian for Moon) applies the group’s bull-horned bellowing to a conceptual arc expectedly based on Norse mythology. Thankfully, the formulaic Nordic fantasising comes off as deeply sincere and loyal to Mammoth Storm’s fabled heritage. The severity of the group’s duelled riffing hailstorms over Danei Arvidsson’s husked howls as he retells the legend of a colossal ancient ruler from Kvenland. There’s a seriously blackened Church of Misery cum early Saint Vitus groove about this record. And while momentary instrumental asides such as Sumerian Cry purely provide unwarranted intermissions, the imperious weight of Fornjot’s doom remains truly gargantuan.
Dragged Into Sunlight/ Gnaw Their TonguesN.V. (Prosthetic Records)
N.V is the abbreviation of Negative Volume; a sonic dimension so horrifyingly paradoxical it’s actually impossible to create. Yet the collaboration between British grind / death quartet Dragged Into Sunlight and the reclusive Dutch agoraphobe Mories, aka Gnaw Their Tongues, forges a volume so injurious it cannot be described as anything other than a gross force of negativity. There is a sickness – like a physical longing to wretch – throbbing in this split. Opening with a monologue outlining a killer’s process of constricting his victim’s windpipe sets the general tenor.
It’s like playing every Godflesh record over the top of every Obituary record ever written at once – convenient considering the production credits are owed to Godflesh’s own Justin Broadrick.
Blissfully repulsive, like gently applying pressure to a pin wedged inside your bellybutton.
Extreme Noise TerrorS/T (Willowtip Records)
‘Pissed off grind’ is how Ipswich’s self-proclaimed kings of crust-punk, Extreme Noise Terror describe their first full-length in six years. For decades the band has frenetically strived to cement the perfect marriage between thrashy punk and accessible ‘mosh driven’ grind. This release endeavours to re-establish the groundwork laid by ENT’s early successes such as A Holocaust In Your Head and Phonophobia.
And despite there not being anything particularly extreme, noisy or terrifying about Extreme Noise Terror, there’s an antiquated aggression that’s as frenzied as it is surprisingly controlled. Click tracks and fastidious post-production mixes are obsolete. Instead, their self-titled album hones in on the analogous nostalgia factor. What is presented here is an engaging and familiar sound that at least tries to be as relevant today as it was some thirty years ago.
Haunted ShoresViscera EP (Self Released)
In the final flares of Haunted Shores’s Viscera EP comes a blazing saxophone solo courtesy of Jorgen Munkeby of Shining. The horns foam over indigenous percussive blasting and atonal guitar scaling. As Periphery’s Mark Holcomb and Misha Mansoor spar with syncopated palm muting, Munkeby screeches down the reed of his sax. Everything becomes a calamity of instrumental mess. Viscera is slightly easier on the nine-stringed Meshuggah worship of Periphery and heavier on free-tech-blackened-digi-prog-djent that Mansoor and Holcomb lobby so fervently for. Listen to this if only for the searing closing track, Blast Inc., alone.
AweProvidentia (Pulverised Records)
Black metal is a corpse-painted anomaly; parentless and emotively intangible. The genre’s truisms of robed cadavers soothing scream-scarred throats with lamb’s blood are all but a fragmented misperception. Greece’s Awe trounce upon these truisms. Their angular retake of black metal is earnest and divergent, eschewing the trite banality of tradition and welcoming dissimilarity.
Providentia, the group’s debut album following a split release with End and Vacantfield, is three songs stretched over 52 minutes (a challenging length, but the rewards for persistence are infinite). Its loosely themed chaos theorising and existential musings judder incomprehensibly and are almost superfluous to the final product. What really shines here is the boundless musicianship that cleanly cleavers through the callous vocal roaring. Guitar lines travel in modes and staves – lengthening passages like a slow injection of anaesthetic before ripping the needle through the nerve endings. Fans of Blut Aus Nord won’t be disappointed.
Kult MogilSerene Ponds (Pagan Records)
In the interim between releasing their debut album, Anxiety Never Descending, Polish death metal band Kult Mogil taunt us with a sampler of what is to surface. Loosely translated to ‘cult of graves,’ Kult Mogil play a deranged deluge of dissonance akin to Necros Christos and Dead Congregation. Serene Ponds pulsates with alien precision, mutating from atmospheric sludge to staccato blast beat. This sort of spliced amalgam of styles is very en vogue with Poland’s stoic metal scene but it’s Kult Mogil who are currently defiling the proverbial hornet’s nest.
Their debut album is to be released early December.
HegemonThe Heriarch (Season of Mist)
Season of Mist is one metal’s most lucrative labels. They have a cultivated knack for curation and maintain a mushrooming roster of acts such as Finnish hellraisers Baptism, America’s Withered and Italian extremeists Hierophant. Now, we see more ominous black metal from France in the blistered form of Hegemon. Deeply nihilistic and symphonic, The Hierarch is frightfully conformist in its approach to the genre yet the violent misanthropic zeal delivered by the group is undeniable. They’re a band with palpable malice and a resolute sharpness of vision. ‘We do not belong to anything, we don’t want to be linked to anything, we are what we are,’ so the band claim. What they are is an impeccable example of very classic black metal.
MAKEThe Golden Veil (Self-Released)
MAKE’s second full length is a requisite expansion of their debut. The Chapel Hill trio pocket their follow up with a juxtaposition of influences; segueing from the dichotomising power electronics and acoustic lauding of I Was Sitting Quietly, Peeling Back My Skin to the elevated doom of The Immortal. Scott Endres and Spencer Lee unionise their Steve Von Till meditative crooning with an unforgiving audible malevolence. Multiplicity is key with The Golden Veil. It gallantly kisses the hoofs of Neurosis and Horseback while infusing Pelican-esque post-rock playing styles. Rhythmically resilient and aesthetically muscular, MAKE are by far one of the more accessible heavy acts of 2015.
Illustration by: James Burgess