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.

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.

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.

Get Hexed

a3203209171_10Regular IG readers and especially those that know me outside of music blog land are well aware of my affection for John Carpenter, and a sizable chunk of that affection is based on his soundtrack work.  Films such as Halloween and Escape from New York simply wouldn’t be as effective without Carpenter’s sinister, tension-filled electronic soundscapes as accompaniment.

Anders Manga’s Hexed sounds like a long-lost Carpenter soundtrack.  It’s characterized by the same queasy, creepy-crawly synths, but adds a heaviness that’s no doubt derived from Manga’s work with doom/occult rock quartet Bloody Hammers.  A ton of Carpenter-influenced artists have come out of the rotting woodwork of late, creating soundtracks to imaginary films, but Manga is one of the few that successfully captures the spirit and substance of those classic soundtracks while others are merely aping the style.

Hexed is available as a pay-what-you-want download via Manga’s Bandcamp page; fans of Carpenter, Goblin, Zombi, Nightsatan, Perturbator and the like take heed.

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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Lycia – A Line That Connects (Handmade Birds, 2015)

alinethatconnetsWhen darkwave legends Lycia returned from the musical wilderness with Quiet Moments in 2013, it was widely hailed as a stellar comeback for the band.  While I certainly enjoyed the album, I couldn’t help but feel that they were just warming up. Quiet Moments is unquestionably a good record, a great record even, but it also struck me as the work of an artist attempting to fully regain their footing after some fairly lengthy gaps between releases (seven years between Empty Space and the Fifth Sun EP, three years between Fifth Sun and QM).

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