Visions from the Fractal Generator

5V3A5060As Isolation Grind continues to evolve and grow, I’m hoping to do more “round-up” style pieces such as the one you’re about to read.  The reasons for this are many, but the main ones are as follows:

1. I hope to be able to cover more ground.  Let’s face it, a metric fuck-ton of metal albums get released each year, and my lazy ass covers only a small handful of them, meaning that year after year there are tons of albums I’d like to cover that slip through the cracks.  Round-up style pieces seem like a pretty good option for spreading the love and giving more worthy albums some digital ink.

2. The more I listen to metal and write this blog, the more I’m starting to realize that not every album needs a five hundred word review.  It’s entirely possible that I’m running out of shit to say about metal, but I honestly think a lengthy, in-depth review is a bit of a time-waster when you can just go listen to the damn album yourselves with a few mouse clicks and form your own opinion.

3. I discover and re-discover old shit just as often as I listen to new shit.  I often want to write about the older music I’m listening to, but not every used CD score or re-discovery of an old album is worthy of a Top 100 Albums post.  I’m hoping that this will give me the opportunity to talk about older albums, be they universally recognized classics or hidden gems on a regular basis.

coverOk, enough house-keeping, lets get down to business.  First up is Fractal Generator, a band I discovered only a few days ago as of this writing thanks to a hot tip from my sometime partner in crime Expiring Sun.  These Canadians play thick and chunky death metal with a futuristic/sci-fi vibe ala Wormed, Across the Swarm and Sickening Horror, and I’m always down for more forward thinking bands to help stem the tide of retro-itis that has afflicted the genre for so long.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the shit out of oldschool, caveman death metal (more on that later), but I also recognize that the genre needs a kick in the ass to evolve, and this is what Fractal Generator provides with their debut album Apotheosynthesis.

Fractal Generator are ridiculously heavy and execute their music with terrifying precision, exuding a cold, mechanical atmosphere peppered with synths and samples. It’s the kind of music you imagine the T-1000 listening to while impaling pathetic humans with liquid metal blades.  The band aren’t overly technical, making for album that’s strangely catchy in spite of its killer-cyborgs-with-guitars demeanor.

T-1000_telling_sarah_to_call_for_connerUnbelievably, Fractal Generator are offering Apotheosynthesis as a pay-what-you-want download via Bandcamp.  That means you can get this mechanized beast for free if you want. Personally, I’d love to see a label like Willowtip pick these guys up, but I’m not sure if the world is ready for their mechanized death metal assault.

AP_cover1500x1500On the opposite end of the spectrum, I was pleased to learn recently that Unique Leader is reissuing The Anomalies of Artificial Origin, the second album from Russia’s Abominable Putridity.  This album had the misfortune of originally being released back in 2012 on Brutal Bands, arguably one of the sketchiest metal labels that ever existed, which means it wasn’t promoted for shit and good luck trying to find it at your local shop.  It’s a damn shame too, because this album might just be the absolute pinnacle of knuckle-dragging slam.

Basically, The Anomalies of Artificial Origin is just one massive mosh part, designed as an optimum soundtrack for mouth-breathers to beat the living shit out of each other to. It’s one of the most awesomely ignorant slam albums I’ve ever encountered and that’s what makes it such a ridiculously fun, not to mention neck-wrecking listen.  It’s also probably the best sounding slam album ever, with an absolutely huge production that just flat-out crushes everything in its path.

I think I’ve said this before, but I’d love to know what the hell is going on over in Russia; between these dudes, Katalepsy, Disfigurment of Flesh, Traumatomy and 7H. Target, they’ve got the brutal/slamming death metal thing on lock, even more so than the Japanese at this point.  The reissue of The Anomalies of Artificial Origin is out in October via Unique Leader, but in the meantime you can check the album out on Bandcamp.

PromoImage (2)It’s been a while since I last checked in with Cattle Decapitation in spite of being a fan of their earlier work; I somehow missed The Harvest Floor all-together, and I was put off by the overly robotic/triggered-sounding production on the one track I heard from 2012’s Monolith of Inhumanity (whichever song had the gross video).  But I was prompted to come back to the band after seeing Wes Benscoter’s nifty cover art for The Anthropocene Extinction and was subsequently hooked when I heard “Manufactured Extinct.”

There’s much to enjoy about The Anthropocene Extinction, but for me the immediate highlights are the subtle black metal elements they’ve incorporated into their sound and Travis Ryan’s highly varied vocal performance.  There are some seriously burly black metal riffs that pop up from time to time on tracks such as “Circo Inhumanitas” and “Mammals in Babylon,” recalling the likes of Marduk and Dark Funeral, and this lends even more darkness to Cattle Decapitation’s already overwhelming assault to the senses.  Meanwhile, Ryan’s performance ranges from putrid gurgles to bizarre, quasi-clean croons and pretty much everything in-between, making the album as interesting vocally as it is musically.

Cattle Decapitation is one of those rare bands that evolves from album to album rather than continually putting out more of the same; I can’t say how much they’ve progressed from Harvest to Monolith to Anthropocene since I’ve not heard the former two, but I can say that their development since I last listened to them with regularity is both significant and impressive.  Better production, better songwriting, better performances; this is a band that has improved vastly in pretty much every way since their early days.  Cattle Decapitation always felt to me like a band that were on the cusp of releasing something great but could never quite reach that next level; with The Anthropocene Extinction they’ve blown the next level to bits.

Welp, that wraps it up for this time around.  Here are a few other albums that are currently yankin’ my crank…

Melvins – Nude with Boots (Ipecac, 2008)
Weezer – Pinkerton (DGC, 1996)
Krisiun – Forged in Fury (Century Media, 2015)
Hercyn – Dust and Ages (self-released, 2015)
Rollins Band – Weight (Imago, 1994)

Church – Unanswered Hymns (Transylvanian Tapes, 2015)

coverMy first exposure to Sacramento’s Church came back in September of last year, when I witnessed them nearly level the Starlite Lounge while opening for the mighty Dispirit.  Like a complete idiot, I didn’t write about them at the time in spite of being thoroughly impressed with their set, largely due to the fact that they didn’t have much of a web presence or any recordings to point IG readers in the direction of (I did however post some footage to my YouTube channel).  But much has changed since that early show; Church have finally released their debut album in the form of Unanswered Hymns and rest assured friends, this three track, forty-five minute long beast is every bit worth the wait.

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Abjvration – The Unquenchable Pyre (Caligari Records, 2015)

a2554957507_10Caligari Records has proven itself capable of releasing excellent recordings from just about any metallic subgenre they see fit, but some of their very best stuff of late has come from the realm of slow ‘n’ low. Whether it be the Pentagram-esque trad of Denmark’s Demon Head, or the uh, heavy death of Sweden’s Heavydeath, this is a label that knows its doom.  But The Unquenchable Pyre, the debut recording from Abjvration, just might be Caligari’s most debilitatingly heavy offering to date.

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Church @ The Press Club, Sacramento, CA 06/04/2015

014At this point it’s well documented that shows during the week are typically a no-go for me; I’m a corporate lackey that’s typically in bed by 9:00 pm.  That said, there was no way in hell I was going to miss Church’s tape release / tour kickoff show with Lycus, Usnea and Ufomammut in spite of it taking place late on a Thursday night (shout out to my boss for letting me take off the Friday before a week-long business trip).  The Sacramento doom quintet recently unleashed their absolutely stellar debut album Unanswered Hymns in digital form, but being a physical format guy, I was dying to pick up this three song behemoth in glorious analog and hold it my hands, not to mention the fact that Church are an excellent live unit and I’ll find just about any excuse I can to see them play.

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Ester SegarraIf there’s one thing I hate doing, it’s writing intros to interviews.  Fortunately, Paradise Lost is a band that needs no introduction.  The death/doom/gothic metal pioneers have been releasing great music for nearly three decades now, and that enduring legacy continues with their latest full length, The Plague Within, which is out June 1st via Century Media.  Legendary vocalist Nick Holmes graciously answered my questions about their stunning new album via e-mail.

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Sewer Goddess – Painlust (Malignant Records, 2015)

a4098605531_10My first exposure to Sewer Goddess came back in 2013 in the form of Mutilation Process, a thoroughly unsettling live recording released on cassette by the always great Graceless Recordings.  Ever since that initial taste of their harsh electronic depravity, I’ve longed to hear more from the band, but tracking down their releases is no easy task.  Fortunately, they’ve opted to release Painlust, their most recent studio assault, through high profile noise/electronic/industrial label Malignant Records, making it much easier for schmucks like me to track down this half-hour long exercise in mechanized malevolence.

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