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)

Nocturnal Blood @ Starlite Lounge, Sacramento, CA 08/08/2015

11817267_1061987837159767_5049974786752808206_nSacramento gets a ton of great shows, but we’ve been more than a bit lacking in the black metal department of late.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the shit out of seeing the likes of Melt Banana, Ufomammut and -(16)-, but I’ve also been absolutely dying for the visceral experience that only a straight-up black metal show can bring.  So, I was extremely grateful to Wretched Earth Productions for treating us to this killer lineup of Cali-bred BM at Starlite Lounge, which is quickly turning into my go-to spot for kick-ass metal shows.

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Cradle of Filth – Hammer of the Witches (Nuclear Blast, 2015)

CoF HammerAfter years of listening to mainstream metal, Cradle of Filth were one of the first “extreme” bands I latched onto as a wee lad.  As such, it has pained me to watch them slowly but surely become a shadow of their former selves.  I’m not entirely sure what went wrong after Nymphetamine (some fans would argue that CoF went to pot well before that) but it seemed that Dani and the boys were damned to linger in the limbo of mediocrity forevermore following that last gasp of greatness, as evidenced by a lengthy string of tepid albums such as Thornography and The Manticore and Other Horrors.  The music was uninspired and Herr Filth’s voice sounded shot, leading me to largely turn my back on this once well-regarded symphonic/gothic/black metal institution.

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Kafirun – Death Worship and Essene – demo (Sol y Nieve, 2014)

KAFIRUNOf the handful of cassette-centric labels I’ve developed relationships with over the past few years, Sol y Nieve is surely one of the most exciting.  While they aren’t the most prolific, they stress quality over quantity, and their passion is evident in every aspect of every release, from the music itself on down to the often elaborate packaging.  The label was recently gracious enough to send me a parcel overflowing with releases including the debut demos from Kafirun and Essene.

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Pale Chalice – Negate the Infinite and Miraculous (Gilead Media, 2015)

relic67Things up to now have been quiet for San Francisco’s Pale Chalice.  The band released their debut EP Afflicting the Dichotomy of Trepid Creation via The Flenser back in 2011, and I think we can all agree that in today’s metal climate four years is a freakin’ eternity between releases.  But give just one listen to Negate the Infinite and Miraculous, the quintet’s inaugural full-length for new label home Gilead Media, and it will become readily apparent that Pale Chalice favors quality over quantity.

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False – Untitled (Gilead Media, 2015)

relic58Since 2010, Minneapolis, Minnesota’s False has been quietly making some of the best USBM in the game. Their split with the equally excellent Barghest, as well as their untitled 2012 EP were both great slabs of atmospheric black metal that remain largely unnoticed, or at the very least woefully underrated by the metal community at large. With the release of their untitled debut full length on the ever-reliable Gilead Media however, False is poised to bid farewell to their under-the-the-radar status once and for all.

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