Left Hand Path
#009: Merlin Is Magic



everything has its opposite. For the righteous, there are the wicked; for the lucky, there are the unlucky, and for those that live, there are those that die. The ancient Hebrews gave us yamin; the ancient Romans, sinister. Inevitably, these words grew into even more divergent connotation—that of the Right Hand Path and that of the Left Hand Path. This monthly column will celebrate all that resides in the shadow of the left, regardless of religious allegiance or format.






Abigor - Fractal Possession
[End All Life]

After a hiatus of several years, Austria's Abigor returns with a highly refined set of industrial black metal. The approach is much more nuanced than the usual "turn up the drum machine and throw in some samples." In fact, the guitar work is quite delicate, with precisely picked machine-gun melodies zipping by like mechanical fireflies. Bell-like clean tones sparkle at times, with chords reaching jazz fusion levels of abstractness. Occasional singing offsets the usual black metal croak, as reverb and effects shift the soundscape like a kaleidoscope. The mix is a bit pristine, but it brings out the astounding detail here. Purists will flee from this futurism; open ears will discover rich, mesmerizing guitar work.
[Listen]
[Cosmo Lee]


The Angelic Process - Weighing Souls with Sand
[Profound Lore]

Having gained a cult following since 2001, Athens, GA's The Angelic Process makes a monstrous debut on Profound Lore with Weighing Souls with Sand. Imagine Neurosis' melodic moments or early Jesu filtered through the oceanic haze of My Bloody Valentine. MBV is a common influence in ambient drone circles, but few releases have captured so well the distant swooning of Loveless. This husband-and-wife duo drowns massive riffs and searing vocals in waves of distortion and effects; over-compressed drums punch through the wash like last gasps. You'd swear your speakers were pulsating, the sound is so overwhelming. At last—atmospheric metal that drops prissiness for pure passion. Crushing, hallucinogenic, and highly recommended.
[Listen]
[Cosmo Lee]


Ayurveda - Ayurveda
[Baby Julius]

Hellooo, '90s! Ayurveda blends metal and bluesy hard rock that starts at Alice in Chains, passes through Tool, and ends somewhere in nu-metal. That's true, at least, for the first half of its debut EP. The assertive, melodic vocals beg for "active rock" airplay or whatever buzzword radio uses for angsty male rock. But the EP opens up a few cuts in with Beatles-esque pop, dreamy tones, and even a brief bout of thrash. The latter might have been what attracted Alex Perialas, producer extraordinaire of '80s NY thrash. His knob-twiddling yields a great recording, with meaty guitars and natural-sounding drums. Why did the band leave its best song as a hidden 13th track? It's a Smashing Pumpkins-esque gem that's much more worthy of the band's name than its frat rock side.
[Listen]
[Cosmo Lee]


Baroness/Unpersons - A Grey Sigh in a Flower Husk
[At a Loss]

Sludge metal and "futuristic" don't usually go together, but this split from these Savannah compatriots is the state of the art. Baroness' attack is impeccably calculated, weaving trenchant palm-muting and sinuous runs among huge, hairy riffs. Extended six and twelve-minute structures add some prog, but the songs stay focused and dynamic. Unpersons' angle is more noise rock, with eerie jangles hanging all over the place like meat hooks. The final track delivers a devastating downtuned blow that sounds like a motorcycle spinning wheels in mud. With the best album art of the year (by Baroness' John Dyer Baizley), this split is a must-have.
[Listen / Listen]
[Cosmo Lee]


Charnel Valley - The Igneous Race
[Paragon]

After deservedly having his nuts cut off for releasing Charnel Valley’s first EP—an odious bit of plastic that seemed nearly contemptuous of its style and audience—Marty Rytkonen returns with seven more Charnel tracks, all fortunately less laughable despite being paired once more with poorly made, ha-ha-ing notebook art. Rytkonen is, of course, the co-founder of Bindrune Recordings, the editor of the excellent fanzine of the same title and a writer for Metal Maniacs. Drummer S. Craig Zahler is also a long-time writer at Metal Maniacs. At the very least, these things ought to be perversely entertaining, if not instructive. But The Igneous Race is actually a very well-made pastiche of underground trends starting from 1990 onwards.

It’s not completely gimmicked either, but doesn’t fully shake the feeling that this might only be a kind of weird exhibition between friends. Not that it couldn’t be more, it just seldom is. But when it is… Although grouping together Norse (“Blackfist”), Canadian (“January”), and Trad. Metal (“Carry their Bodies to The Horizon”—what Abbath’s otherwise execrable I might sound like if it had some true grit behind it), Charnel Valley’s best material appears toward the disc’s end with a pair of exceptional death metal tracks showing the undeniable sense and promise of Rytkonen’s songwriting. Production-wise, the guitar is grainy but smoothed around the edges. The beats are clear and even though the bass is still largely absent, in general the sound is louder, more distinct and overall professional.

(Incidentally, LHP readers should stay tuned for mine and Voegtlin’s own LP, a tribute of sorts to the legacy of Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley. If anyone knows where to purchase a discount gong or can furnish a list of obscure and wholly irrelevant third world music to be used for promotional purposes, please contact: limitedpress.trite@gmail.com)
[Listen]
[Todd DePalma]


Daymares - Can't Get Us All
[Selfmadegod]

Completely unoriginal but enjoyable "death 'n' roll," "punk 'n' roll," or whatever you want to call it. Thus, round up the usual suspects—Entombed and Motörhead, with some High on Fire thrown in. Why a Polish band would want to sound like it's Swedish is beyond me. Scores of bands mine this sound now, though few have this much control. Fat-free structures and filthy tones make the songs fly by. The secret weapons are toms and cowbell, which yield rolling, primal grooves. Varied speeds and a nicely raw recording help eke 11 tracks out of this sound. When the band kicks up the bpm, like on "Suicide Watch," its energy easily rivals that of, say, Doomriders or Rise and Fall.
[Listen]
[Cosmo Lee]


Dimentianon / Rigor Sardonicus - Amores Defunctus Tuus Mater
[Largactyl]

A split release from two of the NY undergrounds longest drudging bands, one honed to perfection, the other working on it, and both sharing a crucial member in guitarist J. Fogarazzo. Six tracks are dealt out evenly beginning with Dimentianon's skillful balancing of black and death metal. Although rooted in a technically sound display of serrated melodies and almost fusion-like pairing of drum and bass, there are plenty of shrill intervals unleashed in between. This makes it harder to locate one defining influence, but also works toward a more engaging listen. The vocals, pallid but discernable screams, often trample on the band’s subtle dynamics. Overall, the music is better experienced in these small doses.

Shifting gears drastically, the duo (plus drum machine) of Rigor Sardonicus arrive in the form of a devouring e-chord, one of many ringing monstrously in absolute dismay. Doom? Funereal? Banal categories that imperfectly, unfairly cage the totality of effect. Rigor Sardonicus is the sound of the shape, is the shape and the space surrounding the low-end domain built from foundational acts like Thergothon, Hierophant and Esoteric: Of groaning argot rippling across a pool of ebon static; exploded maw drooling its pitch-shifted enmity into the well of imagination.

Try to picture what it might be like to hear a tumor speak and after coming that far, listening to one drink mud through a straw. Strings are gouged, moan and left to hover side by side, untouched within a misty otherness undisturbed by cymbals crashing the lordly tones of fear and dread, a rhythm that seems otherwise involuntary, intimidated into action by the rumble of underworld frequency. In another setting the artificial beats would likely give the show away. That mechanical rattling, coldly jittering under enormous stress, is like its audience both activated and abused by the dark procession.
[Listen]
[Todd DePalma]


Dimentianon - Hossanas Norvus Ordo Seclurum
[Non Compos Mentis Records]

On their debut album, Long Island’s Dimentianon is once again in the tough spot of challenging some traditionally held notions of what it means to play extreme (black, death) metal in and around New York. Though flawed, the album is ambitious enough to gain sympathy and even turn some clichés to their advantage, backed up by the group’s strange morbidity (captured potently in an arrangement of bullet shells, red roses, pentagrams and flyers for dead friends’ funeral services shown on the back cover that reads cheap, sentimental and disquieting within a single glance.) However, results here remain gravely mixed. Dimentianon have claimed an identity but seem unsure in which direction to take it.

The album is also heavily compromised by a cold, sterile production that renders instruments more as Black & Decker tools, rarely sparing even their more attractive movements. An uneven but ultimately satisfying closer which lasts a full third of the disc (“To Return that Which is Above to that Which is Below”) finally does achieve momentum inside an emotional crescendo—greatly elevated by bassist Jim Mroz’s bare-digit string work, injecting some humanity into the performance—and leaves us with a better impression than when they first started before fading into a ghostly contralto surrounded by thunder, wind and rain.
[Listen]
[Todd DePalma]


Eibon / Hangman's Chair - Split
[Bones Brigade]

Four cuts of filthy sludge from France, of all places. Eibon channels Eyehategod hard, down to the use of movie samples over throbbing, low-slung riffs. Minus the wrathful vocals, "Venom of Solar Dust" is really a slow blues, with Godflesh-esque harmonics. The recording is phenomenal—natural, electric, in-your-face. Jerome Lachaud's rimshots feel like they're mere centimeters away. Hangman's Chair is like Alice in Chains circa Facelift gone sludge/doom. Heavy-lidded, melodic vocals preside over swinging, Doc Marten-shod rhythms. The immensely pounding "The Getaway" has a fair bit of cock rock in them bones, but a thousand hair farmers never had this much balls. Feedback and amp hum crackle all over the place. Heavier than a sumo tournament, and highly recommended.
[Listen / Listen]
[Cosmo Lee]


Force of Darkness - Force of Darkness
[Proselytism]

With already so much over saturation and formula to fall back on, there are few today who, with the right tools, could not turn out a passable thrash metal album. Fewer still are those who sound as though they truly believe in what they’re doing, and it does make a difference. As it is with Villains and Repugnant, so it is with Force of Darkness. After a brief introduction put forth in the best style of “Bestial Devastation,” with dramatic voice blown over warping effects of wind and chiming bell, the Chilean trio begins their black celebration of old-school filth with 13 tracks of abhorrent invocations to air, wind, earth and fire.

The presence of local and greater South American bands like Torturer, Mutilator and Pentagram lurks faintly at best behind the music’s violent, frenetic movements. Mostly, Force hues close to the still earlier works of Kreator and Slayer, even belting out some cringing falsetto howls before returning to murder the English language through a red haze of thick accents and forked tongue. Highlights include “Beast Carnage,” “Capricorn’s Conspiracy,” “Crom Cauch” and the epic “Cult of Asmodeus.” Despite the heavy influence and relative youth of the band, they carry with them prestige above their peers, remaining excellent in their own right. Highly Recommended.
[Todd DePalma]


From the Shallows - Beyond the Unknown
[Tribunal]

This EP is a tight, precise fusion of Swedish melodic death metal, hardcore breakdowns, and growled and rasped vocals. Problem is, a zillion other bands have done this already, especially All Shall Perish and The Black Dahlia Murder (guitarist Jon Deering was even an early BDM member). Occasionally, the band thinks outside the box, dropping abstract chords in "Ice Box," luscious sweep picking in "Entities Beheading," and moody acoustic guitars in "Under a Killing Moonlight a Fire is Awakening." Black metal-esque chords in the latter open up dark avenues the band would do well to explore. The recording is perfectly punchy and clear. Bonus points for Jeff Wagner's artwork, which recalls the sinuous, hyper-detailed monsters of the nightmares in Calvin and Hobbes.
[Listen]
[Cosmo Lee]


Glorior Belli - Manifesting the Raging Beast
[Southern Lord]

For the last couple of years, Greg Anderson's Southern Lord has made a concerted, if not amusing effort to assemble a "formidable" stable of Black Metal acts—Orcustus, Tangorodrim and Urgehal among them. The predictable addition of France's Glorior Belli caught few by surprise, as greater bands—Watain and Deathspell Omega—eluded Southern Lord's monopoly of mediocrity. Without coincidence, Glorior Belli assumed shameless Watain aping on its first full-length, O' Laudate Dominus.

Admittedly technically dazzling, but woefully short on individual take and offering, the record moved some to laughter and jeers, others to wonderment over what would unfold in its wake. Glorior Belli has therefore taken the next logical step, unabashedly donning Deathspell Omega's persona with an eight cut recording that differs little from the DsO's Si Monumentum Requires Circumspice.

Apology's din is deafening: supporters decry the stubborn fact that Watain and Deathspell Omega make little effort to hide their influences; Anderson himself felt the need to heroically shout out from on high via Internet message-board in order to dispel a single criticism of the latest record, launching into a directionless argument about the death of originality and the "offensive" production of Watain's latest, Sworn to the Dark—all hilarious statements considering Southern Lord's support for Sworn to the Dark, and better yet, the hard-and-fast derivative artificiality of Anderson's own band, Sunn O))). The only relevant argument, of course, is why settle for imitation when one can have the genuine artifact? And that's not entirely rhetorical….
[Listen]
[Stewart Voegtlin]


Goreaphobia - Vile Beast of Abomination
[Necroharmonic]

A re-release of demo and live recordings by this group, billed as PA's first full-fledged death metal band, whose members later went on to Blood Storm and Immolation. The disc open with sever finely re-recorded and new tracks circa 2004 but is primarily worth seeking out for their earlier material. Particularly, Morbidious Pathology and the Omen of Masochism EP are among the most ferocious and inventive recordings the genre has produced and, being vaguely similar to the early works of Incantation, Immolation, Morpheus and even Suffocation, are emblematic of the ways in which death metal began to evolve both from speed metal and grindcore. Also includes a cogent and exceptionally detailed—nearly 13 full pages—biography and scene history written by former Decaying Visions video zine editor John Verca. The cover art is by Drew Elliot.
[Listen]
[Todd DePalma]


Harvey Milk - My Love is Higher Than Your Assessment of What My Love Could Be
[Relapse Records]

I couldn't see the road. Streetlights were snuffed; traffic lights swung in the wind, their yellow caution illuminating nothing so much. Rain, heavy rain—and hail—fell from the sky. We had run out of beer and had headed out for more, a map and destination scribbled in felt pen on a flyer. A case of beer and countless nitrous oxide balloons later, three skinny, acne-pocked dorks took the stage.

The club had been "opened" for a few weeks; apparently no one had promoted the show—or if they had, no one cared. The three dorks were drenched, skeletal, quiet. We sat on the floor a few feet from their humming amplifiers. The storm raged on outside. "We're Harvey Milk; sorry we're late," Creston said in his hoarse baritone and then launched head-on into "Where the Bee Sucks, There Suck I." The ground shook; our ears rang; a fat dreadlocked guy in a dirty tie-dye shook his head free of any and everything that had taken up nest. They played for hours.

Weeks later I bought My Love is Higher… I listened to it every day for months on end. I played it for everyone I knew and argued vociferously with those that did not warm to its palpable genius and fierce individuality. Nearly 12 years later, I continue to do more of the same and that should be enough to convince any poor schmuck reading this to purchase the fucking disc.
[Listen]
[Stewart Voegtlin]


Harvey Milk - The Pleaser
[Relapse Records]

Go, Jim Dandy! Go, Jim Dandy! Harvey Milk went and did a novel thing: right before they sunk their own goddamned ship they recorded an album for no one so much as themselves, fattened on Southern boogie and unrepentant paeans to prick-hugging '70s stage stalkers. ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin and Kiss are harnessed, saddled and ridden into the goddamned ground with astonishing musicianship.

The 'Milk's "Shame" takes Led Zep's "Black Dog" and trains him for the scrappin' pit; "Misery" rides a Hill/Beard snorter bareback, twisted and turned in mock rapture, hooves upended in fields of burnt wheat; "Rock & Roll Party Tonite" undulates the ten-foot tongue, a four-minute plus homage to g-spot revelry, light beer fountains, Greco-Roman wrestling in a gelatin ring. The live disc is as good as the studio, and features a heart-thumping rendition of "Deuce." Baby, if you're feeling good/And, Baby, if you're feeling nice/You know you're many is workin' hard/He's worth a deuce…
[Listen]
[Stewart Voegtlin]


Inanna - Day Ov Torment
[Cold Spring]

UK institution Cold Spring remasters and reissues this classic death industrial album from 1993. It shows its age with machine percussion, but the sound is refreshingly full-bodied. Evil chimes and endless whooshes go through the reverb tank, immersing the listener in focused, menacing atmospheres. Strange bellowing, distorted screams, and indeterminate rattles echo through hellish chambers with German Expressionist films flickering silently on the walls. Mournful pads writhe amid symphonic samples summoning jackbooted doom. In the distance, alarms sound for the already-dead; pipe organs low for no one. This is the after-party of war: sifting through the rubble.
[Listen]
[Cosmo Lee]


Irepress - Samus Octology
[Translation Loss]

Any record named for the heroine of Metroid deserves a listen. On its remarkably mature debut, this Boston quintet lays out instru-metal in intriguing pieces. The parts don't add up to wholes; they're more like strings of highlights. Irepress (pronounced "ear press") chews on clean tones for long periods of time, achieving Afropop-esque levels of interweaving goodness; imagine Don Cab and Explosions in the Sky covering King Crimson. What's up with the frequently out-of-tune guitars? They're charming, perhaps. The heavy parts aren't that heavy, but there are already enough bearded dudes out there doing heavy. Don't skimp on the bitrate, as the recording is fantastic. With round bottom, natural drums, and bell-like tones, this is a lovely effort—though it whets, not sates the appetite.
[Listen]
[Cosmo Lee]


Kronos - The Hellenic Terror
[Xtreem]

Lair of the Minotaur don't have a lock on Greek mythology metal, as France's Kronos brings forth awesome song titles like "Tricephalic Hellkeeper." Of course, one won't understand the lyrics anyway, and that's just fine. This is death metal the way it should be—with power, atmosphere, and speed when needed. Kronos demonstrates amazing mastery of the latter, dropping mean, chunky riffs as drums subdivide underneath like shifting tectonic plates. The Hellenic Terror updates early '90s New York and Florida death metal (especially Deicide) with perfect execution and sharp production. Fluid leads flow like fresh blood, while high shrieks answer low growls in diabolic counterpoint. Easily one of the best death metal releases in recent memory.
[Listen]
[Cosmo Lee]


Marduk - Rom 5:12
[Regain Records]

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." And so it goes… The addition of vocalist Mortuus, née Arioch, has allowed Sweden's Marduk to do something it had not done since '99's Panzer Division Marduk: record a decent album. 2004's Plague Angel saw the quartet back in fighting shape; guitars as shredders, Gatling drums, preternaturally evil vocalization—Black Metal in nuce.

Mortuus' influence is highly prevalent on Rom 5:12; songs dissolve in warbled dissonance or some hymn torn from the ghost of Imperial Deutschland. Lyrical themes are redolent of Funeral Mist and its malign obsession with subverting Christianity, and ultimately transliterating its iconography for Satanic or nihilistic means. There are nods given to Bessoni, the Gregorian calendar and the region known for its "Palace of the Popes." The sonic tone is appropriate: precise and rhapsodizing guitars, thudding bass, propulsive and muscular drumming. "Imago Mortis," even with its "Suzie-Q" drum intro, acts as a showcase for some of Mortuus' more emotive vocals, which fluctuate from his usual blood gargle to impassioned shrieks and tormented cries.

The ambitious "1651" pairs church organ and orchestra, providing adequate backing for Mortuus' recitation re: prophecy—"this and more than this will come to be; not even your bones the end of time will see, since time chose of nothing it to make." The slower—or flawed—moments are quickly forgotten; "Limbs of Worship," "Vanity of Vanities," "Voices from Avignon," and "Cold Mouth Prayer," all flail forth with the selfsame prejudicial speed that Marduk wielded remarkably well in Plague Angel. But the diversity is welcome here, and despite its unevenness, Rom 5:12 succeeds in ways that newcomers can only hope to aspire. Recommended.
[Listen]
[Stewart Voegtlin]


Municipal Waste - The Art of Partying
[Earache]

America's late-coming answer to Tankard; polished, huggable, lovable thrash metal (crossover, if you prefer) stuck in a permanent, sexless adolescence of B-movies and alcohol. For their third and dramatically weaker new album, the pasty-faced foursome from Richmond, Virginia take on the ultimate slacker dream and knead it further into their soft, altogether harmless gimmick: "Putting the fun back into rock," with 15 new tracks of ultra camp, smug anthems to brew, styled like a rerun of USA Up All Night, complete with references to OX 45.

This helps explain the incredibly lame impulse toward "partying," a term which I've seriously never heard spoken but from the mouths of dipshit frat boys living (literally and figuratively) inside the cathode ray. It would still be benign, I suppose, if it weren’t pushed so heavily in a ruinous attempt to link arms between their superficially concocted style and the work of more talented and inventive artists.

I'm sure some people, smart people, find this genuinely funny and their concerts entertaining, but too much of it is simply try-hard pandering whipped up for their moronic fan base. (If cooking scrambled eggs with beer doesn't mark you as a poser, I don't know what does.) An album that yields nothing but a watered down concept, a zero proof, padded knock-off with maybe (maybe!) 3 good songs total. Those thrash riffs may launch again with super-human speed but the cleverness quickly fizzles below the vivid colors of Andrei Bouzikov’s cover art.

What's left is an appalling display cuteness and self-satisfied mugging that exposes the band's hip, yet blanket normality. Put it this way: If you are actually old enough to drink beer legally but still consider it a radical activity then please, shoot yourself in the dick. Although once more copying the tone of their betters, Waste wimps out on what made these—and granted, even their last record—both sharp and entertaining, supplying content likewise stripped of all rebellion (A song about food fights? Really?) So yeah, like The Stoned Age, or Troma, or maybe Porky's, but without the goddamn tits of it all.
[Listen]
[Todd DePalma]


Nuclear Death Terror - Nuclear Death Terror
[Plague Bearer]

From Copenhagen, where bloody, Molotov soaked clashes between the polity and civilian street armies count as weekend recreation, comes Nuclear Death Terror, with no nobler conditions for mayhem. The corpse-painted crust outfit’s debut LP is 27 minutes of nothing more than pure grinding assault, 10 tracks massacred between voracious twin barks and the hate-fucking march of their Nasum cum Napalm rhythm machine, with strings twisted higher than a dead pro wrestler. Destroy.
[Listen]
[Todd DePalma]


Profanatica - Profanatis de Domonatia
[Hell's Headbangers]

Perhaps the only USBM act truly deserving of their legendary and genre defining status, Profanatica arose from the east coast death metal scene in the early nineties and fashioned themselves as obscene but adept practitioners of the style. Consisting at one time mainly of former Incantation members, including spiritual malefactor and post-modern blasphemic guru Paul Ledney (Havohej), their long trail of recordings and public exposure includes several demos, EPs and one live album along with notoriously debauched photo sessions, a brief appearance in Harmony Korine's Gummo and a much talked about video involving Ledney, a bible and the consumption of an mysterious, albuminous substance.

But in their years of shocking and bewildering even their own black legion, a full-length album had yet to surface, until now. Lacking the high-brow aesthetics or showmanship of Watain and Deathspell Omega, Profanatis de Domonatia carries with it a deadness and base desire that is part and parcel to its gross enchantment toward evil, translated in a borderline pornographic display of mockery ("Scourging and Crowning"), perversion (the lewd incitements of "God Dethroned in Heaven") and unbelief ("Profanation of the Gods").

Upset by rumbling bass lines and the measured build up of keyboards, the music swells from a pale silence to a sudden blowtorch-like energy contained by Ledney's sulphurous breath and guitarist John Gelslo's taut, mechanical phrasing and horror-tone melody. Some playful editing techniques along with the usual lyrical mayhem are demonstrative of art as a kind of vandalism, chopping Catholic hymns into backward speech, pieced together crudely like a shattered stained glass window. 10 tracks on CD/LP .
[Listen]
[Todd DePalma]


Pulsefear - Perichoresis
[Profound Lore]

Christened prior to co-writers Michael Blenkarn and Brooke Johnson becoming the better known Axis of Perdition, Pulsefear's first and only public record arrives in five tracks set down between 2001-2006, cycling through another dark and disarming ambient soundtrack, a literal embodiment of the album's title carried out under mock-paranoid conditions. Thematically similar to Cold Meat Industry staple Atrium Carceri (and to a lesser but noticeable extent, death metal band Portal), sound and image pour into each other.

The album is littered with views of abandoned hospital corridors (a purposeful nod toward the Silent Hill game franchise), walls peeling with infected rot, collapsed ceilings and cancerous soot spread over what little remains. All caught within a nauseous iridescence that shivers the lifeless wreckage alive through unnerving wipes, smudges, sirens, whispering currents of air, rattling gates and more immersive noise. There is enough potential for pathetic fallacy here to go on and on forever and all produced masterfully as well, if at the same time blurring together with other conatured releases.
[Listen]
[Todd DePalma]


Sathanas - Flesh for the Devil
[Pagan]

"In the name of Satan! She wants the darkness! She feels the evil! Her blood is flowing! We made her...FLESH FOR THE DEVIL!" So intones the hilariously pitched-down voice that introduces this 2005 EP, which Pagan recently reissued. The cover art screams "Venom," and Sathanas indeed recalls Cronos and co., minus the reverb and bluesy bits. However, this band seems deadly earnest. "Possessed by Blasphemy" and "Reign of the Antichrist" deliver as promised, though the latter is mostly no laughing matter, as sinister melodies descend over Glen Benton-esque roars. Perhaps the Venom comparison is unfair, as Sathanas is far more technically competent. Old-school black/death through modern chops and strong production—not bad at all.
[Listen]
[Cosmo Lee]


A Second from the Surface - The Streets Have Eyes
[This Dark Reign]

20 minutes of absolutely flawless grindcore from Minneapolis(!) These two-minute killings have no subconscious, hammering with all manner of attack—machine-gun drums, dirty-bomb riffs, agonized yells. Not since Discordance Axis and early Nasum has a band packed so much "fuck you" into so little time. Guitars peel off sharp, abstract chords and drums cycle effortlessly through backbeats and blastbeats. The result is a machine that continually changes shape while running you over. Ride cymbals prick the skin like short needles. Filthy bass tones rumble like rusty tanks. It's almost pointless to describe grind this good—just stick your head in this blender and hit "liquefy."
[Listen]
[Cosmo Lee]


Sistrenatus - Division One
[Cold Spring]

"Black ambient," "power noise," and "death industrial" are but a few of the terms tossed around to describe this malevolent creation. Whatever it is, it's evil as hell. It's as if the typical ambient intro to a metal album took a detour past the guitars and took on a life of its own. Factory noises churn as static hisses and mechanical voices stutter and chirp. Martial snares tattoo unrelenting patterns with ordnance exploding nearby, disrupting electronic communications. Glass breaks; live wires hiss; a TV goes on the fritz. Bulkheads collapse amid oceanic reverb. If you're wondering what this release is doing in this column, brace yourself for Sistrenatus' upcoming cover of Napalm Death's "Multinational Corporations."
[Listen]
[Cosmo Lee]


Sleeping Giant - Dread Champions of the Last Days
[Facedown]

Genres are shit, and Sleeping Giant know it. This California quintet animates metallic hardcore's corpse with hybrid vigor—Neurosis heaviness, varied speeds, occasional singing, and melodic riffs galore. Perfect production avoids the over-compression trap, preserving the edges of distortion and the metal of cymbals. Even the inevitable breakdowns hit with jawbreaking force. Anthem after anthem emerges from this sprawling set; "Whoremonger" will stick in the heads of even the most hardened heathen. Yes, these guys are down with JC—so what? For once, a band that sounds like it's playing for its life, not for the scene.
[Listen]
[Cosmo Lee]


Victimizer - Rapid Thrashing Violence
[Hell’s Headbangers]

Victimizer’s latest thrash attacking, B-movie ejaculation offers three new thracks suped up and slathered with samples from Return of The Living Dead and Running Man (RIP Professor Toru "Plain Zero" Tanaka), with a bonus cover of "Evil Has No Boundaries"—and if you don't know who that is, just skip this altogether. As you may have guessed, Rapid Thrashing Violence leaves no room for uncertainty; the kind of music that feels sinful as a child and completely stupid later in life. Stupid, but inspired; after listening to the barrage of "Hell Made Metal," "Victimizing Blitzkrieg" and "Hell Whore"—each blasted from the lungs of what might literally be one of Cronos' thousand bastard sons. You almost wish the disc came inside its own custom slab of brick for later mischief.

Each track rushes into such glorious, bottom-feeding lunacy, thug metal spouting feral, asinine and plain ugly shit; total trash like: "Hell made metal, and it tamed the beast. Metal made me, to say the least…Crushing all in heaven with my guitar strings-ugh!" Victimizer pursues all this without shame but still manage to pull off the joy and humor of it all. For that, it’s worth a few spins. So, shoulder your guilt, indulge and don't forget your switchblade. Out now on 7" and CD.
[Listen]
[Todd DePalma]


Vomit- Still Rotting
[Lyderhorn]

The posthumous compiling of Vomit's only recordings, first laid down on tape between 1986-87, disinters one of the rarest and most foul voices in death metal. This Norwegian outfit—which once shared members with Mayhem and across the icy border, became a favorite of the future Entombed—had in a brief period released one demo, the infamous Rot in Helltape, presented here alongside three rehearsal sessions (22 tracks total) all of which reflect the near disastrous state of sound and environment: No matter where you hear it, you are deep inside the basement.

For that same reason, Vomit, Mayhem and others of their time, were often referred to simply as "noise." (A fact observed over many local zine reviews and interviews included in the deluxe vinyl, where a surprising obsession with The Residents is also revealed.) While 'Rot in Hell" appears today very much as it did to early listeners– a scratchy speed metal mix of fast thrumming gallops marked by familiar chromatic digs—the later tracks dole out a surprising combination of slow, drudging slime ("Bloodshed") and rabid grindcore ("ABF") pounded at speeds that compromise distinction.

Buried in that consuming shadow of feedback, premature cuts, pops and other nameless creaks, the schizophrenic grunts of Tom Berg become little more than thin inflections of air, phantom gasps shackled to Torben Grue's wrapped-fist battery; Lars Sorbekk's fingers seem to reach for that certain note and burst just above the knuckle, human mulch that falls upon bassist Kittil Kittilsen's darkening coils. And the lid falls down again.
[Listen]
[Todd DePalma]


Vorkuta - Into the Chasms of Lunacy
[Paragon]

Hungarian horde Vorkuta begrimes Bathory atmosphere with Darkthrone punky grit, with quirky, appealing results. For all the invocation of masters, the melodic sense is skewed and idiosyncratic; dig those bass fills that pop out of "Gargoyle" like recalcitrant boils. Peter Hook rears his corsepainted mug in "Vorkuta" as well, with roving bass work high on the neck. Meanwhile, the guitarist does his best to play out of key, squawking with delightful calm. Martial keys and wind chimes bookend the album and provide a lush interlude in "Stardust." Three tracks each of black metal and dark ambience make for quite a push-pull listen. While bigger names will make the year-end lists, this album will likely fester longer in the memory.
[Listen]
[Cosmo Lee]


Whitehorse - Untitled 2 CD
[20 Buck Spin]

Despite Seldon Hunt's involvement, Oz's Whitehorse manages to shirk boring pretension or unpalatable post-rock tropes and offer two discs of Doom Metal the likes of which no one's heard since Winter walked the earth with concrete feet. I'm not one for rubbing one out over "packaging," but this shit just looks right: some sort of incomprehensible mélange of scat and mud and splintered wood in a black on black presentation with a no-frills gatefold affixed with song titles.

The music, thankfully, is just as stark, treading a fine line from the "avant" predilection that few have been able to convincingly work out, save Corrupted, Khanate, Japan's free-rock outfit, Mainliner—and to some extent, Acid Mothers Temple. Whitehorse shares some tropes with the aforementioned, but is mainly content with limping along in relentlessly linear fashion while a yawning din of pure noise threatens to consume its pathetic take on progress. Scabbed and desolate, this is the heavy shit everyone's jonesin' for these days, even if some of the content appears to be slapped together with little regard for continuity.
[Listen]
[Stewart Voegtlin]

[The Left Hand Path logo was created by Patrick Delaney.]


Submissions
Left Hand Path welcomes CD, CD-R, LP, 7”, DVD, VHS, and cassette releases to be considered for review. Information on the release should be included, if at all possible.

Address [North America]
Stewart Voegtlin
211 Estoria Street SE
Atlanta, GA 30316


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By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2007-07-11
Comments (4)
 

 
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