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.


Geisha - Mondo Dell'Orrore
[Crucial Blast]

It's as impossible to say whether the folks in Geisha are skilled songwriters as it is irrelevant. This is a band obsessed with one thing: the sound of white noise. There are actual songs on Mondo Dell'Orrore, but they're buried beneath layer upon layer of bristling distortion and blistering feedback. What is the Jesus-Jones-baiting "Love Theme From Reich Here, Reich Now" about? No one but the band knows ("Bondage Death," on the other hand, might be vaguely decodable), at least on a lyrical plane, but what they're really about is treating amps like the Bush administration treats the Constitution. This isn't the first band to look in the mirror and see an angrier My Bloody Valentine staring back (with more blood), but Geisha expertly mixes things, letting us truly savor the varieties of noise; we get some processed, contained bursts of static, and we also get excruciating emissions that could be the most evil pick-scrapes in musical history channeled through fifteen distortion pedals. Somewhere, deep down in the mix, screamed vocals join the fray, and every so often the noise-howl briefly ceases for some spaced-out noodling, but only to allow an illusion of peace before Geisha returns with shattering new levels of abrasion. In other words, highly recommended.
[Whitney Strub]


Heresi - Psalm II: Infusco Ignis
[Total Holocaust]

The claim has been made innumerable times, but only now has it truly come to pass: Skamfer—the “misanthrope” of Sweden’s Heresi—is carrying on in the tradition(s) of Mayhem’s Euronymous, crafting complex and thoughtful takes on Black Metal, empowered by extraordinary guitar work; bolstered by a voice that at once howls and bellows, all backed up by preternaturally strong drumming. Psalm I was a slow dispatch dominated by sharp instrumentation—guitar work as chamber ensemble; melody, pace, and construction all a flawless affair. This is a sonic document of the sacking of “Civitate Dei”—the City of God; homes are left in slow smolder; bodies and blood litter the thoroughfares. With Psalm II, these impressionistic—or “chamber”—parts have been fleshed in full, richly orchestrated and brimming with power. Comparisons with De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas era Mayhem are inevitable; that’s far from the point: what Skamfer is doing is merely operating in the same vein, picking up where Euronymous’ work was cut terminally short. The whole panoply is present and ready for utilization: candelabras, censers, buckets of blood. Far from a series of “songs,” Heresi heralds the “second coming,” a malign renaissance that Black Metal desperately needs. Highly recommended.
[Stewart Voegtlin]


Anata - The Conductor's Departure
[Earache/Wicked World]

Anata has long held critical respect without quite reaching the status of critics' darlings like Decapitated or Immolation, and on this fifth LP they mount a generally impressive challenge to that relegation. With the best production the band has seen yet, Anata's rich textures are more apparent than on earlier efforts such as 2001's Dreams of Death and Dismay, and tracks like "Better Grieved Than Fooled" transcend death metal's self-imposed generic limitations, with verses that could well be Rush if Alex Lifeson tuned down a few steps and Geddy Lee underwent a lycanthropic transformation; when it breaks into a slow, searching movement at the two-minute mark, "Better Grieved" rises to the top of the melodic death metal ranks, and naturally it delivers blazing rolls of kickdrum lunacy when it launches into the technical riffage that provides Anata's sustenance. Several tracks match its crafty dynamics, and the musicianship is (expectedly) sterling all around. "Children's Laughter" even strolls through the requisite pastoral interlude without reeking of cliché, helping to make The Conductor's Departure a strong and impressive effort that ranks at the forefront of contemporary death metal.
[Whitney Strub]


Behold… The Arctopus / Orthrelm - Split
[Crucial Blast]

For nine minutes of beautiful discomfort, check out this split. Behold… The Arctopus and Orthrelm each contribute one song of spastic, instrumental prog metal. Behold… The Arctopus is a trio featuring Colin Marston of Dysrhythmia on Warr guitar, a strange 12-string instrument that's kind of like a Chapman Stick. On this axe, Marston gets both guitar and gut-wrenching bass tones; seeing him play it live is mind-blowing. The rest of the band is also frighteningly virtuosic, going from math meters to blastbeats at the drop of a hat. "Paincave" is a brain-frying stew of violent gearshifts and kaleidoscopic tones. For an awesomely geeky transcription, click here. The band just signed to Blackmarket Activities, who will reissue the excellent Nano-Nucleonic Cyborg Summoning EP. Similarly-minded Orthrelm recalls early Fantomas, but with tighter chops and more stamina. "Pithot 1" is a rollercoaster ride of falling-down-stairs grooves, Buckethead-esque shredding, and more tritones than a Slayer album. Bonus points for the artwork by Away, who drums for Voivod and does their classic album covers.
[Cosmo Lee]

Bone Awl - By Ropes Through Dirt
[Worship Him/Klaxon]

Bone Awl is “He Who Gnashes Teeth” on vocals and guitar and “He Who Crushes Teeth” on drums; perhaps only coincidentally the shared monikers of the goat tandem in charge of powering Thor’s chariot. The duo’s sound, however, is far from coincidence, combining Ildjarn’s “music as violence” premise and the primitive punk of Skrewdriver’s All Skrewed Up. This volatile coupling makes for some great tunes, as “No Crosses Mark This Graveyard” is the first metal song one can “skank,” drink, fight, and fuck to—all within the confines of a single day. A great deal of this cassette recalls Ildjarn’s “Nattens Ledestjerene”—oompah Oi! with Black Label fangs—the title track a case and point with its furious, near surf-guitar riffing over meth’d-out drumming. Vocals are amorphous, uncontrolled paroxysms, sliding across the two-minute expanse of each song like a half-dead black snake on a basement concrete floor. Either piecemeal or in full composition, this is base music, filthy in its greased fundamentals, unmatched in its abandon. Entirely deserving of the “underground” buzz they’ve generated, this is a band to either be rolled over or reckoned with.
[Stewart Voegtlin]


Celestiial - Desolate North
[Bindrune]

Celestiial, T.R. Anderson’s “funeral doom” project, is an odd one. Keys, electronics; processed guitar, drums, vocals, and a whole host of “field sounds” combine to make an intriguing sounding record that comes off in a wholly banal listening experience. Despite the fervent hawking of Desolate North as some sort of invocation of the woodland pulse—whatever that means—the record rarely goes beyond the type of thing that one would expect to be playing in some “New Age” stronghold where all sorts of white magic minutiae, geodes, and incense are available for purchase. Anderson’s Celestiial would benefit heartily from a little less ambition, production, and persistence in melding organic with the inorganic, but then it would cease to be. And perhaps that’s a good thing.
[Stewart Voegtlin]


Chang Ffos - Trust This Arcane Device
[Moonlee]

I heard a demo by Chang Ffos back in 2004 and was impressed by their quirky, forceful take on sludge/noise metal. When this Croatian band released a full-length earlier this year, the only place to get it was their tiny label, Moonlee (whose flagship artist Analena is a must-hear Croatian fusion of Pretty Girls Make Graves and Jawbox). So I had to jump through shady Eastern European credit card hoops to buy this, but now it's available on Amazon as an import. Imagine Kyuss meets Converge, with the thick riffs of the former and the swinging rhythms of the latter. Early Clutch also comes to mind. The riffs are brutish and dissonant, but what drives things is the Brann-Dailor-on-downers drumming of Nikola B. Singer Ivan E tends to disregard bar lines, which takes getting used to, but which heightens the off-kilter attack. The recording is nice and beefy, with mastering by Steve Austin (of Today Is the Day fame). Fans of Orange and Sunn amp'd bands will like this. The artwork is beautiful, too.
[Cosmo Lee]


Communic - Waves of Visual Decay
[Nuclear Blast]

Communic cuts a surprisingly lithe musical figure, playing so smoothly and gracefully that their periodic injections of staccato riffing presumably exist at least partly to earn the band's place in the metal ranks and avoid the dreaded prog affiliation. Taxonomists may argue terms, but regardless of which label Communic receives, the Norwegian trio offers some compelling mini-epics on its second album. The slower moments on "Watching It All Disappear" evoke Queensrÿche, while the middle section of "Fooled By the Serpent" suggests Communic shares with Opeth a fondness for the sort of mid-1970s German prog-folk that can be found at 8 Days in April. Drummer Tor Atle Andersen shifts effortlessly from softness to thundering downbeats, while singer/guitarist Oddleif Stensland deploys admirable complexity without letting wankery intrude on songcraft. His vocals tend toward the pedestrian (he audibly strains to hit the climactic high note on the title track), but his lyrics reflect a refreshing social conscience, as on "Frozen Asleep at the Park," a ten-minute plea for humane treatment for the homeless.
[Whitney Strub]


Glass Casket - Desperate Man's Diary
[Abacus]

If you thought there was no connection between the fjords of Norway and the swamps of North Carolina, think again. On Desperate Man's Diary, Glass Casket mix black metal's melodies with death metal chops and hardcore punk attitude. American metal bands often fuse subgenres, resulting in terms like "metalcore," "deathcore," and "death/grind." Until now, though, they haven't put black metal in the mix (although Bleeding Through hinted at it on The Truth). But Glass Casket isn't just appropriating. Black metal is simply part of the band's fluid, unpredictable songwriting. No easy verse-chorus structures, just one godlike riff after another, with neck-snapping breakdowns that recall Pantera. Singer Adam Cody drops ferocious death growls and Randy Blythe-esque rasps, but he often lays out. This is a good thing, because Dustie Waring and Jake Troth put on quite a guitar clinic. Thundering riffs, emotional solos, memorable melodies—this is the most shredding album I've heard in a while. Waring and drummer Blake Richardson do double duty with metal polymaths Between the Buried and Me, but here's hoping they'll find the time to take this monster on the road.
[Cosmo Lee]


Graves at Sea - Documents of Grief
[20 Buck Spin]

A self-released recording that was nearly instaneously out of print; Documents of Grief is reissued here by 20 Buck Spin with nothing altered but the original artwork. Documents created a roiling din when it debuted nearly three years ago, immediately trumpeting avatars of the legendary Burning Witch, manifestations of a mastodonically heavier Black Sabbath, Winter, Electric Wizard. The Orange amp fueled guitar tone sets Arizona’s Graves at Sea apart from these volk, spreading seismic riffs across arid plains of guttural vocals that meld into warbling gray mirage, rising in sun-shocked eagle shriek. Toms and snare are dropped from above, coal cars shattering black on city streets. Cymbals eschew mere accents, sounding more like prejudicially exploded ordinance. “Praise the Witch” is the in nuce track, a slowly greased satyr fuck cloaked in wormwood, ivy vines, cost-cutter vodka. Amplitude’s toil is audible. Incessant shake and rumble runs through the track, often relaxing, popping as wood blaze, other times engulfed in a slowly decaying chord, embers in the dark distance. If there ever was “fire music,” this is decidedly it: Walpurgisnacht, ave
[Stewart Voegtlin]


Leviathan/Sapthuran - Untitled Split
[Battle Kommand]

Not since the split with Xasthur has Leviathan sounded this ferocious, closeting the digital drums, sitting behind a real kit and unleashing with four ripping tracks and a sealer that sounds more like Wrest’s Lurker of Chalice material than what is usually reserved for Leviathan. No time is wasted with opener “Odious Convulsions,” brought into existence with log drum and delay exercises which are erased with a tidal wave of noise: blast beats, static ridden riffs, scowling, shrieking vocals—the norm for nearly a half hour. “Crushing the Prolapsed Oviducts of Virtue” slows just enough to indulge in a mid-paced stomp, but quickly speeds to its conclusion, falling into the mesmerizing “Mesmerism,” a languid and atmospheric piece barely held together with rippling buoys of bass guitar, providing a glorious counterpoint to its incendiary predecessors. Sapthuran’s three contributions are primitive Metal much like Graveland circa Thousand Swords but with a greater concentration on dramatic setting with the first two pieces cloaked in the sound of roaring wind. “And Autumn Sheds Its Final Tear” is a classical guitar rumination, a celebration of nature’s autumnal death, and the ushering in of winter. Closer “The Wanderer: Blood in the Forest” is similar to Sigrblot or Drudkh, its sound not unlike folk song transliteration, melody that cries out for campfire intoning, bands of gatherers resting in the cold, night punctuated only by the fire’s crackle.
[Stewart Voegtlin]


Midnight - Complete and Total F@#cking Midnight
[Outlaw]

Gritty thrash and [drowsy] speed metal from the alleys of Cleveland, Complete and Total F@#cking Midnight collects the wealth of this one man wrecking machine, who slashes and bashes through 15 songs wearing his colors proud and true; early Venom and Slayer, The Accüsed, Motörhead, English Dogs and a host of others are held close and convincingly brandished. “I Am Violator” is nearly a reworking of Slayer’s “Evil Has No Boundaries,” with its muscular rhythm guitar, thrashing drums, and vindictive vocals. “Servant of No One” is bar-mat rock; all spilled well brands and slammed shots, suds on the floor and sticks in the air. “Endless Slut” is knuckle dragging libido stomp, saliva slick, ball slapping braggadocio saddled with a guitar tone not unlike the besotted wank proffered by the Bros. Dambra of Sir Lord Baltimore, Inc. Lyrically, we’re firmly in Black Metal’s fledgling period, where trips to Hell are as frequent as Monday morning hangovers and sober couplings are as infrequent as thorough bathing: Night of the long knives, motherfucker.
[Stewart Voegtlin]


Nachtmystium - Demise
[Autopsy Kitchen]

Having been released on LP by Australia’s Asgard Musik and on picture disc by Goatowarex, stateside Autopsy Kitchen lays down the goods in an excellent reissue of Nachtmystium’s 2004 recording, Demise. Nachtmystium frontman Azentrius has previously stated the intent of Demise: to craft Black Metal in the tradition of Burzum, especially the epic Hvis Lyset Tar Oss—long droning compositions sheathed in static buzz. While the songs on Demise don’t even come close to aping or rivaling anything on Hvis, they do offer homage to Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger and the sort of ice encrusted malevolence typified by Judas Iscariot’s The Cold Earth Slept Below. This record’s finest moments are realized in its longest compositions: “Rise and Fall” is one of those less-is-more affairs, where pleasure and intent is realized in seemingly banal sonic contributions—rattling hi-hats, repetitive guitar figure, morosely anguished cries, all of which grate and plod for over nine minutes. Same for “Solitary Voyage,” a seven-minute foray that transliterates Moonblood’s “In a Bloody Night of Fullmoon” into an even more oppressive syntax—unforgiving and as ferocious as the rest of the lot.
[Stewart Voegtlin]


Nadja - Bodycage
[Profound Lore]

A concept record about the rare bone disorder Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, Nadja’s Bodycage works the large canvas, creating songs marked by excruciatingly slow development, punctuated by sparse electronic hi-hats, treated guitars, unidentifiable rumblings. Each piece is an against the grain structural exercise, where each element reluctantly rears its head, making a contribution and slipping into the background to add to an already hefty sonic foundation of swirling electronics and phaser’d guitar acrobatics: Earth 2 handed an anvil and left in the desert to bake. When the noise relaxes, tones rise and maintain, like the way a warm breeze holds the dead smell of roadkill for days, even weeks. Some of the notes work through fractured permutations, sounding the equivalent of computations—number crunching sonically transliterated. Scrapped and bowed cymbals belligerently buzz and deal a dog whistle whine; keys paint with broad brushes, retracing tonal steps made minutes before in mere seconds. Bodycage will inevitably find mention with Black Boned Angel or other quasi “doom” outfits, as the water torture tenor and grotesque thematic bind the music securely to those trigger happy for taxonomy. While this music is certainly haunting, it’s in the same vein as the ambient work of early Aphex Twin or the unsung Nuno Canavarro, not a part of the sad-sack legion found traipsing through unkempt cemeteries whilst smoking cloves.
[Stewart Voegtlin]


Octagon - Artisans of Cruelty
[Autopsy Kitchen]

Octagon proffers a handful of songs dealing with perversion, sadomasochism, and deviant sexuality; the other half is basic nihilistic Black Metal rendered in a style that owes much to Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger. Leather fetishism and misogyny are thrown into and out of the mix as often as thrash and punk structures are; some of the songs work extraordinarily well: “Psychotic Erotic” and “Teachings in Cruelty,” to name two; some are just laughable, such as the juvenile “Futuristic Sadistic,” whose chorus—“Cumming, cumming / Cumming all over you / Cumming, cumming / Such a filthy whore” is real Neanderthal bullshit. The musically proficiency is there. Were Octagon to eschew the leather porn and read a bit of de Sade, the lyrics—and the music—could benefit enormously.
[Stewart Voegtlin]


Quinta Essentia - Neutrality for Defined Chaos
[Deathgasm]

Deep South Death Metal waxing classical with a moniker connoting the “fifth element,” the substance aether likened by Aristotle to comprise the space above the terrestrial sphere. A cursory glance at the lyrics shows a preoccupation with W.V. Quine’s preoccupation re: Quintessence, a rather heady and macroscopic foray into “what there is.” Sonically, we’re firmly in melodic Death Metal territory, with songs entirely dependent on guitar interplay. There’s plenty of six-string prowess to go around, and tremolo snarls and whines are as prevalent as tireless blast beats. Oases crop up in nearly every song, providing the opportunity for lyrical opine replete with ornate guitar flourishes, which lends Neutrality a narrative quality that certainly fits with its epic feel, sounding like a less fanged version of Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse, but with the propensity to proffer more baroque construction, usually a tendency that results in a superfluous mess. Yet, Quinta Essentia is a capable and tasteful enough lot to straddle the demarcation between too much and not enough with relative ease. Recommended.
[Stewart Voegtlin]


Rage - Speak of the Dead
[Nuclear Blast]

Mediocrity seems an odd avenue through which to reach the sublime, but at least for the first half of Speak of the Dead, veteran German metallers Rage take just that route. The seventeenth effort in an undistinguished but damn persistent career, Speak begins with an eight-song suite ("Suite Lingua Mortis"), five of which are instrumental. Recorded with the Minsk Symphonic Orchestra, the suite aims not for subtlety but for precisely the sort of swelling, blaring crescendos one would hope for in a band headed by a man whose last name is Wagner. The cheese-factor is immense ("Prelude of Souls," with its swirling uplift, could pass for the score from Gymkata or any given Golan-Globus masterpiece), but there's a real grandeur-in-a-tin-can, bush-league-Therion charm to the whole affair, and the suite draws to a close with some nice guitar-based blues runs on "Beauty." Alas, the second half of the album takes a sharp dip into blandness, as slow-moving speed metal meets powerless power metal. "Full Moon" achieves some ballad-bombast (the band even recorded it in four languages, with English and Spanish available here), but "Be with Me or Be Gone" leaves Foghat looking clever in comparison with its updated version of 1970s journeyman boogie rock, and the other tracks could pass for Manowar's more tired moments.
[Whitney Strub]


Sigillum Diaboli - Untitled EP
[Blasphemous Underground]

No frills Black Metal from this Russian horde, which could number as many as four or as little as one, as I can find neither verification nor denial of the components. Whatever the case may be, this untitled EP is in the vein of early Gorgoroth, which is to say that the wealth of the songs are comprised of persistent, blasting percussion (likely a drum machine), overlaid with roaring, buzzing guitar; vocals are the emphysema-crippled shrieks and wails to which one is likely accustomed. Unsurprisingly, there are those for whom this sort of stagnant take is never enough. They can have a big ol’ time with Sigillum Diaboli’s tired formulaic version of Black Metal.
[Stewart Voegtlin]


Skinless - Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead
[Relapse]

I love it when girls go in the moshpit. Usually they're the aggressive ones who jump in yelling with their fist up. Guys who are busy bro'ing down are often surprised to find themselves pushed across the pit by a girl. Once in the pit I saw a girl who was totally dressed to go clubbing—skimpy top, short skirt, stiletto heels. Displaying incredible balance, she was stomping around the pit like no one's business. Everyone was afraid and avoided her like the death on heels she was. This album is by dudes for dudes, but it's the type of stuff that makes girls jump in the pit. Cookie monster vocals, rat-a-tat blastbeats, tremolo-picked melodies, chugging riffs—this is moshpit gold. Skinless has been quiet since 2003, but these New Yorkers are back with a short, sweet album of pure death metal. Imagine Bolt Thrower (complete with war movie samples) plus the chops of Suffocation or recent Cannibal Corpse. This is hardly new ground, but the execution is killing. With hot mastering by Scott Hull (of Pig Destroyer fame) and a snazzy layout by Relapse artist Orion Landau, the whole package slays.
[Cosmo Lee]


/speed\kill/hate\ - Acts of Insanity
[Escapi]

Holy fuckin' shit. This one came out of nowhere and blew me away. Actually, it's not quite out of nowhere. /speed\kill/hate\ (what's up with the punctuation, guys? You're going into my MP3 player as "Speed Kill Hate") is 3/5th of Overkill plus a singer simply named Mario. This is good news. Overkill is a fine band but sometimes Bobby Ellsworth's sneering vocals (rivaled only by Exodus' Steve Souza) can be a bit much. Overkill's loss is our gain, as this is the ass-kickingest dose of pure thrash since Gary Holt raised Exodus back from the dead. Machine gun riffs, pummeling double bass, gang vocals—it's all here. This isn't just a retro thrash trip, though, as the vocals have a bit of Phil Anselmo going on and the band is much tighter than any '80s thrash band ever was. Guitarist Dave Linsk doesn't solo often, but the times he lets loose are appropriately shredtastic. The production is clear, the songs are savage, and if you aren't banging your head to "Face the Pain," you're not worthy of metal.
[Cosmo Lee]


!T.O.O.H.! - Order and Punishment
[Earache]

This has been out since late '05 in Europe and early '06 in the US, but it's been criminally ignored. It came out on Earache sublabel Elitist, but around the release date, Elitist folded amid accusations of shady business practices on the part of Earache. Thus, this album has slipped through the cracks with virtually no promotion. Even the usual metal review sites haven't picked up on it, which is frankly disgraceful. This is one of the freshest, weirdest metal albums in recent memory. Throw grindcore, technical death metal, and fusion-tinged prog into a blender, top with crazy vocals entirely in Czech, and you have !T.O.O.H.! (that's !The Obliteration Of Humanity!). Singing in one's native language is highly underrated; these vocals recall Beavis' Cornholio alter ego, but with balls. Every so often, beer-swilling, pub-style singing drops out of nowhere. The band's chops are sick, and the songs are completely unpredictable; imagine a compact, loony version of Individual Thought Patterns-era Death or early Atheist. The emphasis isn't on heaviness or brutality so much as crisply executed insanity. Lots of loopy solos, bass fills, and technical runs here—fans of the Willowtip label will dig this.
[Cosmo Lee]


Woods of Infinity - Ljuset
[Total Holocaust]

Bokma Oude Genever fueled Woods of Infinity utilize bass, guitar, drums, synth and numerous samples to create some truly unnerving music. As the lyrics are rendered mostly in Swedish—or indecipherably printed—I can only speculate about their content, yet numerous photos showing the band engaging in quasi rituals involving booze, inverted crosses, baby dolls, and a stuffed ferret removes this ensemble from the norm of Black Metal, showing Woods of Infinity to have a lot more in common with other marginalized outfits such as Lugubrum, Urfaust, or even Benighted Leams, rather than the typical Darkthrone and Burzum fixation that seeks to single-handedly homogenize the genre. For the majority of the record, Woods of Infinity’s Arr Ravenlord cackles and shrieks over solemn instrumentation, often evoking old Countess with its strict disavowal of cohesion as single pieces trudge slowly forward, walking through time in limbo while the band works out its deviant fascination with children’s voices, music box melody, and bizarre humor. Classical influence and folk song intermittently permeate song structures like the stench of potent flatulence and dissipate as quickly as they’ve announced their selves. “Eksynt” is completely consumed by this influence, providing only a backdrop for Arr Ravenlord to free associate. The song culminates in what sounds like an irritated child trying to find something of interest on the radio dial; various genres are scanned through until a kitschy tenor asks: “Satan, are you waiting? / Are you waiting somewhere for me? / In the darkness where you linger, will you realize for me?” As the voice vanishes, one feels as if the entire experience was via phantom radio, a dead signal enlivened by radio waves, essentially a joyless experience. Something tells me Woods of Infinity wouldn’t have it any other way.
[Stewart Voegtlin]


Yyrkoon - Unhealthy Opera
[Osmose]

Yrkoon should be a household word in metal, but perhaps the fact the band is from France, a country not known for metal, hinders its prominence. Hopefully, Unhealthy Opera should change that. Back up to 2002's Dying Sun, Yrkoon was mining an ambitious, occasionally comical mélange of death metal, black metal, and melodic thrash. Thankfully, the band ditched the keyboards and rethought its approach, as 2004's Occult Medicine was miles (or kilometers) beyond its predecessor. The album was death metal all the way, but heavy on melody, like Bolt Thrower covering At the Gates, with a touch of Heartwork-era Carcass. Unhealthy Opera is more of the same, and while it won't win awards for originality, it's flawless otherwise. The band is surgically precise, the solos are firing, and there's plenty of melody. "From the Depths" even briefly explores Opeth-esque prog terrain. The clean and heavy production is much in the vein of Andy Sneap's work. This stuff tears up moshpits, so why aren't more metalheads jocking this?
[Cosmo Lee]


Zoroaster - Zoroaster
[Battle Kommand]

Not since the Big Easy’s Eyehategod has the Dirty South birthed an ensemble this potent. Zoroaster, whom cull their moniker from the Iranian prophet of the same name, come forth bearing recognizable sludge and doom all given the same sort of treatment as comrades-in-arms Eyehategod, Sleep, or Bullhead era Melvins. This EP gives one several different looks at the band, with swamp gator paean to Tampa titty bar, “Mons Venus;” BDSM booty-shaker “Bullwhip,” which sleepwalks through single riff rides; “Honey & Salt”—a shout out to Sandburg and Sleep, slows St. Vitus down to a beer and Benadryl crawl, which provides the perfect segue way into “Defile,” and even slower black-lunged creeper. These last two are indicative of Zoroaster’s capability, which is to say that when the group is patient enough to let riffs rise and decay, the song writes itself. This EP was put to tape in 48 hours; mixed down in a day. Given longer, they’ll likely usurp their influences and give one something large enough to lie down in.
[Stewart Voegtlin]


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
Stewart Voegtlin
211 Estoria Street SE
Atlanta, GA 30316

[Many thanks to Justin Bartlett for permitting the use of his drawing "Dissecting Christianity" on the Stylus splash page.]


By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-07-24
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