Hiatus (well, sort of)

Alien2-074It’s been a long time coming.  As of October I’ll have been doing the metal blog thang for the better part of six years, with five hundred and eighteen posts published; that averages out to roughly eighty-six posts a year.  I’ve grumbled about it turning into a chore from time to time, but somehow I’ve always managed to power through and rekindle my enthusiasm at the zero hour.  I can’t say exactly when I hit the proverbial wall, but at some point this year it finally happened, which explains why IG has been kind of limping along for some time now.  As such, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to take a break and let the batteries recharge… sort of.

I say “sort of” because I do have some remaining commitments to honor and as a man of my word I have every intention of honoring them.  Labels, if you’ve sent me something in the mail recently or we’ve talked online about a review, you can expect a write-up; I just can’t guarantee how timely they’re going to be.  I also have one last interview I’m working on that I’m actually pretty darn psyched about.  Additionally, I do intend on getting down with some year end list shenanigans when the time comes.

Once those few things have been posted, IG will go into cryosleep, for how long is anyone’s guess.  I’ll also be going (mostly) dark on social media during that time.  To reiterate, this hiatus is only temporary; I’ve said many times that IG will still be here when the dust settles and that I’m in this until I’m in the ground, and that remains true. IG will return stronger than ever, but in order to regain that strength I need some time away to recharge and refocus.

Thanks to everyone who’s read the blog on the regular, shared my posts on social media, sent me stuff to review, talked shit about me publicly (any publicity is good publicity), or supported IG (and its previous incarnation THKD) in any way!  You’re the reason I’m here to stay.

Kriegszittern ist krieg

a1731883717_10Kriegszittern are a German duo committed to vomiting up short, sharp shocks of punky, war-obsessed death metal.  Their debut demo was recently committed to tape by the ever-reliable and increasingly prolific Caligari Records, and it’s certainly a must-listen for fans of the genre at its ugliest and most primitive.

Of course, when one thinks of war-themed death metal, one immediately thinks of Bolt Thrower, and while Kriegszittern undoubtedly employs some of that legendary band’s churning brutality, I find myself more reminded of the rumble of early Swedish death metal, as well as the smoked-out savagery of Autopsy.  To be sure its a winning combination, perfectly suited to the demo’s slightly muffled, ramshackle production scheme and the band’s bludgeoning approach to songwriting.

Kriegszittern aren’t going to win any originality contests, but if you’re in the market for this sort of atavistic death metal fix, chances are you could give two shits about originality and are more concerned with having your skull sufficiently rattled by a blast of cro-magnon musical mayhem, and this is something that the band excels at.


A quick glance at their Bandamp page reveals Kriegszittern have a second demo out titled Frostbite.  Although I haven’t had the opportunity to spend as much time with this demo as I have the Caligari-released one, a cursory listen reveals longer compositions and a more sophisticated approach to songwriting without losing any of the nastiness that makes their first tape so darn enjoyable.  It’s currently available from the band as a pay-what-you-want download, so snap it up while you can.


Interview: HERCYN

1234597_545205382216513_1535978094_nIn early 2014, New Jersey-based black metal band Hercyn sent me a copy of their debut release, the excellent Magda.  To say that I was blown away by the twenty-four minute, single track demo would be an understatement; this was the kind of gloomy, neo folk-tinged black metal I had been yearning for more of ever since Agalloch released their classic The Mantle back in 2002.  A subsequent split with Thera Roya spoke to the band’s dedication to continuing to refine their sound, but it also left me wanting more.  Fortunately I don’t have to wait any longer, as Hercyn are about to release Dust and Ages.  Indeed, the band’s first full length makes good on the promise of the their previous shorter releases, delivering a pair of epic tracks (plus an intro and outro) that are easily the band’s most accomplished and fully-realized works to date. Curious to know more about the band’s inner workings and the creation of Dust and Ages, I sent the band a slew of questions which they graciously answered in great depth via e-mail.

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Goat Torment – Sermons to Death (Amor Fati, 2015)

a2181040547_10Like any good metalhead, I try to keep track of all the shows happening in my neck of the woods, even though I can only make it to a fraction of them.  This is how Belgium’s Goat Torment popped up on my metal radar.  Turns out the band will be tormenting Sacramento as part of a handful of West Coast dates in conjunction with their appearance at California Deathfest in Oakland (no, I will not be in attendance), which is right around the corner.

Goat Torment play the sort of burly, bulldozing, death metal-influenced black metal popularized by the likes of Blasphemy and Archgoat.  Indeed, this is black metal with plenty of low-end heft; you can actually hear what the bass guitar is doing.  Granted, much of the black metal scene has gotten away from the thin, trebly sounds of the good ol’ days, but Goat Torment sound particularly pummeling on their sophomore album, Sermons to Death.

You won’t find any keyboards, female vocals, or progressive flourishes on Sermons to Death.  You will however have your ass handed to you as Goat Torment barrel through seven tracks of grim and grimy black metal that rolls over the listener like a Panzer tank battalion.  An ambient intro, interlude and outro bring some atmosphere to the table, but for the most part this duo is all about snapping necks and breaking bones with a sound that rumbles along in delightfully no-frills fashion for most of the album’s forty minute duration.

Goat Torment aren’t reinventing the wheel with Sermons to Death and they sure as hell aren’t forward-thinking, but in listening to the album you get the distinct feeling that they wouldn’t have it any other way.  There’s something to be said for well-done black metal that doesn’t aspire to anything other than smashing your skull to bits, and in this respect Goat Torment are doing it better than most.  See you fuckers in Sacramento.

Goat Torment US Tour Dates:
Sunday, October 11 — Oakland, CA — California Deathfest
Wednesday, October 14 — Seattle, WA — Highline
Thursday, October 15 — Portland, OR — Panic Room
Friday, October 16 — Eugene, OR — Old Nick’s
Saturday, October 17 — Sacramento, CA — The Colony
Sunday, October 18 — Los Angeles, CA — The Black Castle

Saturnian Mist – Chaos Magick (Candlelight, 2015)

Saturnian Mist_Chaos Magick_CANDLE490CDEvery few years, Candlelight Records releases a really cool black metal album and then does jack shit to promote it.  Back in 2013, it was Throne of Katarsis’ The Three Transcendental Keys.  This year it’s Chaos Magick, the second full length from Finland’s Saturnian Mist.

Granted, Saturnian Mist didn’t exactly set the black metal world on fire with their previous output, but trust me when I say these guys have stepped up their game immensely on Chaos Magick, screaming out of the gate with a singular approach to the genre that I quite frankly didn’t know they had in ’em.

But what is it that sets Saturnian Mist apart from the hordes, you ask?  For one thing, an ultra-burly approach to black metal that’s clearly influenced by death metal and the heavier, darker side of hardcore (think Integrity, Ringworm, etc) with its chunky guitar tone, deep, throaty vocals and pummeling, prominent drums.  There’s plenty of the requisite evil atmosphere happening here, but the band sounds more like they want to stomp you into the asphalt of some dark alley than use you for a ritual sacrifice.  In spite of these influences, Saturnian Mist still sound like a black metal band through and through, not that blackened hardcore nonsense all the kids cream their shorts over these days.

Many of the tracks feature a groovy, quasi-industrial vibe that’s difficult to describe, almost like mid-nineties Prong or Helmet playing black metal.  This is bound to throw off many a black metal fan, but Saturnian Mist successfully incorporate it into their approach and come out the other end sounding nothing like the industrial black metal you’re used to (see: Aborym, Mysticum, Blacklodge, etc).  It’s a combination that probably shouldn’t work, but as a fan of those bands I find it refreshing to see a black metal act taking the genre into this previously uncharted (to my knowledge) territory.

So why the hell is no one talking about Saturnian Mist when they’ve released what is arguably one of the most uniquely innovative black metal albums of 2015?  I don’t mean to throw so much shade on Candlelight Records as they’re a great label, but I think the only way I found out about this release is because I saw it pop up at a distro I frequent, it wasn’t until later on that I found the promo buried in a single multiple band press e-mail I received, never to be mentioned again.  Whatever the case, I encourage all fans of bizarre, inventive black metal to look beyond this year’s over-hyped releases from the usual suspects and explore the myriad depths of Chaos Magick.


Dark Realm Records

oThis past weekend, my wife and I ventured down to Anaheim to get our Disneyland fix. But the magic kingdom wasn’t the only destination on our agenda; Mrs. IG built some time into our busy itinerary to make a stop at the mighty Dark Realm Records.  For those unfamiliar, Dark Realm is the Los Angeles area’s only all-metal record store and is run by brothers Rick and Bay Cortez of the legendary Sadistic Intent.  I first visited the shop roughly six years ago and was blown away by the selection of CDs, shirts and various other heavy metal goodies, so I couldn’t wait to finally make my second pilgrimage.

Dark Realm has recently moved to a new location, but don’t let the blacked-out windows and lack of signage fool you, the store is very much open for business with a killer selection of all things metal.  This time around I was able to fill a glaring hole in my CD collection, picking up a copy of Blasphemy’s recently reissued classic Fallen Angel of Doom.  Additionally, I grabbed a cassette copy of Morbosidad’s Tortura EP, as well as a black vinyl copy of Sadistic Intent’s Reawakening of Horrid Thoughts EP and a sweet Sadistic Intent shirt.  I could’ve easily spent a fortune, but sadly I don’t have a fortune to spend, so I had to limit my purchases.

10868229_993855767296139_7561354637916016331_nBut what might have been the coolest part of my visit to Dark Realm was getting to spend a few minutes chatting with Sadistic Intent guitarist Rick Cortez.  It’s not every day that you buy a record and get to talk with someone from the band about how it was written and recorded!  It was a pleasure to listen to a veteran underground musician talk about his band and their craft, and it was obvious that Rick genuinely cares about the folks that visit the store and listen to Sadistic Intent.  A very cool experience all around.

I encourage any metalhead who ventures to the LA area to be sure and stop by Dark Realm.  You definitely won’t regret it; just don’t be surprised if you leave with an empty wallet and a bag full of awesome metal.

Profound Death

ProfoundLore_Logo2015 has been a damn fine year for death metal so far, and it appears that Profound Lore is looking to up the ante with their most recent salvo of releases.  Indeed, the label has in its hot little hands a pair of debut full-lengths from two up-and-coming bands who’s respective takes on death metal couldn’t be more different if they tried, yet both strive for excellence in their own way.

Pissgrave_Cover_750Philly’s Pissgrave first impressed the hell out of me with their self-titled 2014 demo, which was an exercise in old school DM at its most filthy and furious.  But make no mistake, the band haven’t cleaned up their sound in any way, shape or form for their big label debut; in fact I would go so far as to say that Suicide Euphoria sounds even nastier and more scathing than the demo.  Imagine Legion-era Deicide hitting the crack pipe and engaging in a blood-soaked brawl with Revenge and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what this feces-covered beast has to offer.

Suicide Euphoria is one the most wickedly corrosive slabs of death metal I’ve had the pleasure of soiling my ears with since… well, since I soiled my ears with their demo last year.  Underneath that grotesque production scheme are some equally sickening riffs, and songs such as “Impaled Vibration” and “Prevail in Hell” end up lodging themselves in your skull in spite of the unbelievably harsh execution; the band might have caked on even more dirt, grime and bodily fluids, but not at the expense of the craftsmanship they’ve exhibited since the beginning.


CoverLowResIf you were disappointed in Morbid Angel’s atrocity of a comeback album (anyone who says they weren’t is either lying to themselves or just being a contrary motherfucker) and/or got excited when you heard that Steve Tucker is back in Morbid Angel, look no further than Cruciamentum’s Charnel Passages for a twisted death metal fix until Tucker and Azagthoth unleash their next attack.  This isn’t to say that Cruciamentum is a straight-up MA clone, but rather the same unearthly, eldritch vibe that ran through Formulas Fatal to the Flesh and Gateways to Annihilation also runs through the UK band’s debut.

Armed with seething, serpentine riffage and pummeling double bass, tracks such as “Tongues of Nightshade” and “Dissolution of Mortal Perception” are utterly bulldozing, but also strangely hypnotic and even catchy.  This, combined with Cruciamentum’s doggedly oldschool mentality and knack for dynamic songwriting, make for an album that sounds both familiar and fresh at the same time.  Much like the elder death metal bands they so obviously worship, Cruciamentum emphasize quality above all else, which in turn makes for a highly satisfying listening experience.

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, Cruciamentum’s approach to death metal couldn’t possibly be more different from Pissgrave’s, but both albums are thoroughly enjoyable, speaking to the extreme diversity and high level of craftsmanship that can be found within the genre’s current crop.  With veteran bands like Nile, Krisiun, Hate Eternal and Cattle Decapitation releasing albums this year, it’s good to see death metal’s next generation stepping up their game.