Plasmodium – Entheognosis

God, where the fuck do I even begin with this thing? Yeah, a thing, I wouldn’t really call this an album. This is more like 60 minutes of a complete deconstruction and reconstruction of extreme metal into pure textural form. This is 60 minutes of me loving the absolute fuck out of guitar feedback wank for the first time in my life. This is just 60 minutes of pure fuck. That’s it, it’s just fuck, I can’t really think of how else to describe it. This psychedelic, noisy, bewildering, oppressive, evil, crushing, zooming, absolutely mind boggling 60 minute fuck-a-thon 3000. This thing, Plasmodium’s Entheognosis, is something I can safely say I have never heard the likes of in my entire reviewing career.

Sure, I’ve heard noise mixed with black metal before. Not much of it, but it’s there. When people think of noise and black metal, they instantly run to Gnaw Their Tongues. They think of edgy, disgusting, ear numbing and raw black metal that sounds like it came straight for the scariest horror film one could think of. Fuck I would say it SOUNDS like a horror film itself. If that’s what you’re expecting here, throw that out the window. This is something much worse than that. Not worse in that it’s got more edgy cover art, or that it’s louder, or that it has more spooky industrial black ambient parts to it. It’s scarier in a different way. There’s something much more terrifying about music that is horrifying without trying to be horrifying. That the band in question isn’t trying to make their music as scary as possible, it’s just that terrifying in it’s natural state. That’s what we have here.

The most complete way in which I could possibly describe Entheognosis is a 60 minute, 4 track album consisting of psychedelic, noisy avant-garde black metal, that often obscures riffs all together for the sake of just shrieking textures on the guitar. That absolutely does not do this music justice, but it’ll have to do for now. It sounds as if Plasmodium took the aspect of raw aggression in extreme metal and broke that down, than reanimated it without paying head to any sort of musical conceptions of what extreme metal is supposed to sound like. So like post-metal, except actually creative. This is post-extreme metal in the most extreme way possible. Sure you’ll hear vague influences from black, death, and doom metal (black metal like vocals, death/thrash drumming, slow, doomy bass guitars), but if you’re focusing on that, you’re missing the point of the music. Instead you get these, fuck not even journeys, just explorations in texture and what it means to have aggression and evil in music. If that sounds massively pretentious, trust me, it isn’t. I would put this on full blast if it was. The album sounds so genuine, which is all the more impressive considering how grand and far out the concept is.

This is an extremely difficult review because I genuinely have no background to go by. I simply haven’t heard anything remotely close to this before, and I’m 99.999% sure whoever is reading this hasn’t either. If this band had a wider audience, this could be a revolutionary work. But you could say that about a lot of bandcamp bands. Albums like this are the best part of being a reviewer. It’s finding spectacular records that nobody else gave a chance. It’s finding that one speck of gold in the entire Colorado River. This has been a shit year for black metal, with none of the popular records blowing me away, and the obscure finds not doing much for me either. I can definitely say that this record is my black metal AOTY so far, which is a major relief to someone who loves the genre so much. Though calling this black metal is like calling a Schoenberg prelude a song. You’re technically right, but completely fucking missing the point. For as weary as the concept of this album can get (the length is a bit much and the ideas don’t always support it anyway), I kept having the thought that maybe the point of this record wasn’t to have structured variety. Maybe this isn’t a record that’s meant to be analyzed like any other album. Maybe I shouldn’t be trying to find faults in every bit that’s made. Perhaps this is simply something that’s meant to be experienced. Something in which you just get lost in the textures and ideas, not trying to figure out if they’ve been repeated. Nah who am I kidding, that would take letting go of what I already know. And even though some blessed bands are able to do that, I’m going to sit here staring in awe, still trying to find a reason to subtract points on an imaginary scoring system like the complete simpleton I am.


The Body – No One Deserves Happiness ALBUM REVIEW

The Body has always been one of those bands that’s bordered on the edge of “is this actually metal?” at times. And that’s gotten them both acclaim and dissent from the metal community. Because the truth is the metal community doesn’t often take too kindly to massive experimentation of the non-metal variety in metal albums. Many see it as the invitation to the hipster community to love metal, of which as they do everything, will lead to the further degeneration and destruction of metal as a whole. And this isn’t totally wrong, we’ve already seen plenty of shitty pitchforkcore metal albums come out specifically because the general populace has grown more into the more extreme genres of metal. However, that doesn’t faze me when going into this record. Because I like weird shit. If you’ve followed my reviews for the short time that I’ve been doing them, you might’ve caught on that i love really strange and experimental metal, which often involves me giving “random bandcamp album #2324” a 10/10. This is because smaller bands typically do shit that no other large band would even think of doing, because of the risk of losing fans, which equals losing money. The Body isn’t exactly the largest band in the world, but they’re known, and they have quite a following. The difference being The Body has built their image on some of the coldest, hate induced music of any major band right now. No One Deserves Happiness is no different. The Body has created a masterpiece that speaks to everyone who has ever wished ill will on other people or themselves, and those who’s cynicism and pessimism has controlled them to the point of no return.

Even since people have actually started using the descriptors feature of RYM albums I’ve seen the tag “misanthropic” on pretty much any album that’s dark in the slightest. The tag is almost a joke at this point, one that always hypes me up but never delivers. So again, on this record I got the it’s page and sure enough, that tag is there, calling to me another massive let down. Except when I put this on, there was no letdown. This is some of the most anti-social music I’ve heard that wasn’t just noise. And it’s all done by the implementation of industrial sounds in combination with the droning heavy guitars. I think the evilness of machinery is quite underestimated among most music fans, especially those who love metal. One of the reasons black metal sounds so evil is because of the hollow and cold guitar tone associated with it. It sounds distant, cold, detached. However I feel like there’s still some human emotion attached to them, mostly in the fact that they actually play tonal notes. So no matter how black you make the guitar, there’s always going to be some sort of warmth involved. Machines don’t have that. They just have pure, cold, noise. There is no warmth of human flesh attached to those sounds, no familiar imperfections or touch. It’s just noise. But that can be said of any electronic album, why does it work so well here?

It’s because of the combination BETWEEN both the warmth and the cold. In combination with the bleeps and bloops we have warm, down to earth guitars. We have soothing, soft female vocals that almost seem to be sarcasm at times, and at others beckoning those who reject humanity to come back to the comfort of man. We have distant, fuzzy screams, as if a response to the vocals, yelling “NO, let me suffer in peace!” We have a distant and quiet production, which I initially criticized, but came to realize made everything else even more detached. The amazing part of No One Deserves Happiness is that even things I would normally see as imperfections are done so well in context that I see them as strengths. There are tracks where we do see some actual melancholy tonality, something that you would take for granted on basically any other record. Normally I would look at that and think “wow that really doesn’t fit in context of what I’ve heard so far”. But god dammit it works here. Specifically on The Fall and the Guilt, we have a track with pianos and violins, combined with angelic female vocals, contrasted with the guttural, doomy guitars and noisy background fuzz. It shouldn’t work but it fits perfectly because The Body restrains themselves from going too all in on either aspect. There’s just enough of each one to work, no more, no loss.

Which is why this album is one of the best records this year. Because everything fits together perfectly. Not only does it accomplish its goal to almost perfection, but it goes beyond that, giving the listener a true misanthropic experience that I haven’t seen in a long time. I know this is isn’t going to get high ratings from most people, but I urge anyone who can give weird music a chance to let this masterpiece explain to them why humans are pure fucking garbage.


Mutant – Pleiades ALBUM REVIEW

Holy mother of fuck, where did these guys come from and why haven’t I heard of them before? Normally if I’m giving an obscure and unknown band a really high score it’s because despite its low production value, it does something incredibly unique and spectacular that I can ignore, or in the best case, embrace the fact that it’s not professionally made. This is not the case of Pleiades. No, despite being an almost completely unknown band (at least here in the states), Mutant crafted not only an album that sounds big budget and well produced, but takes the now stale and dying genre of thrash metal to a whole new level I haven’t seen this century. And yes, that includes Vektor.

Before even attempting to listen to this album, you need to let go of all expectations of what thrash metal is supposed to sound like. Or better yet, don’t and be totally blown away like I was. Because this isn’t a revival album. This isn’t trying to bring back the glory days of thrash. No, this is Two Thousand and fucking Sixteen. It’s time for a new style for a new era.

The vocals? They’re so harsh they border on death metal at times. Which is fitting because the guitars are so downtuned there are times where it legit sounds like tech death. This is aggressive and angry as fuck thrash metal, so much so I have no shame in admitting that I head banged copiously and flailed around my dorm room like a retard on ecstasy. Makes me wonder what kind of image would come up if Google Earth happened to be taking pictures right by my window at that time, just in time to see a skinny guy in an Ahab shirt apparently having either the happiest or angriest seizure ever experienced.

But the kicker? That’s not all this album does. I’d say it’s barely over half actually. What separates his album over all other modern thrash is that it ISN’T just a headbanger, it ISN’T just aggressive, and it ISN’T a copycat album. You want to know what modern thrash sounds like? How about adding dark/tribal ambient sections to your music? I mean what better way to set up the mood for an album about the Mayan Apocalypse than setting the mood with dark, sinister synths, closing and beginning certain tracks as if warning as to what is to come.

You want modern thrash? How about tritones as your main chord. There are multiple sections in this album that show off these old school djenty / othodox black metal like tritone chords that I’ve never heard in a thrash album before. Now, it’s true that lots of old school thrash bands use tritones, but the way these two bands utilize them is entirely different. Thrash bands typically utilize the tritone found in a blues scale. So like they’re E a few times then hold a Bb, before descending back to E with A and G. So the scale would be E, G, A, Bb, Cb, D, E. A pretty common scale it lots of old rock, metal, and well uh, blues of course. However Mutant doesn’t do that. On Road to Xigbalba, the main chord of the track is A, Bb, E. Now, that sounds similar to a blues scale, because you played E to Bb, it would be a blues scale tritone. But not here, because the actual focus of the tritone is A and Bb. The scale ends up being A, Bb, C, D, E, F, G, A. Do you know what that fucking scale is? THAT’S FUCKING A PHRYGIAN. WHO THE FUCK WRITES A THRASH SONG IN A, FUCKING PHRYGIAN? Classical musicians don’t even write music in that mode because it’s so archaic. It’s absolute madman level of crazy… but it fucking works. And it’s not even the only time they use atonal chords.

Oh but I’m sorry, that’s not enough cool shit? How about jazz chords as well. Actually you know what would be really cool in a thrash album? A song that begins as a full on dark ambient track, transitions perfectly into a jazz prog track, and then transition again IN ABSOLUTE PERFECTION into an aggressive, melodic, proggy thrash track with an amazing mix of clean and harsh vocals. You want that? Of course you fucking do, and it’s on this god damn album on Children of the River, which I would say is the best track on the album, but I don’t even think I can decide that without feeling like I’m leaving another track out.

This album is absolutely everything thrash could be that it isn’t right now. It has all that I could want, but never have. In essence, this is the future of trash metal. If only people could actually give this a listen.


Tyranny – Aeons in Tectonic Interment ALBUM REVIEW

Funeral Doom is a genre for which previously I knew nothing about, and have recently grown in love with. I’ve always loved doom metal, it’s been my favorite genre of metal since I first put on Dopethrone and began my foray into the metallic arts. But for the longest time Funeral Doom never really clicked with me. I mean yeah, it’s slow, but so what? Most people don’t just slow down other music tracks and listen to that for fun. I mean I did because I’m weird (some of the songs from Pokemon Fire Red sound way past cool when slowed down, just for the record), which may explain why I eventually came into favor with the genre. But that’s not something that people typically like, right? It’s not normal to like funeral doom, even as a metal fan, right? Well yeah, right. It does take an abnormal kind of person to enjoy funeral doom. I don’t mean to say that I’m some sort of special snowflake, but the genre is certainly not for everybody. Especially when your favorites include Mordor, early Esoteric, and Thergothon, the rank kinda funeral doom that sounds like it was literally made in a morgue. So what’s my point, where does this put Tyranny’s latest album “Aeons in Tectonic Interment”? While Aeons is certainly one of the more accessible funeral doom albums there, it is also one of my albums of the year, both for it’s immense atmosphere and amazing production value.

In Tyanny’s first full length album, “Tides of Awakening”, there was a feeling that something was coming. Some danger was approaching, something dark, something sinister. Because of the feeling that all of this was impending, that album came off as a bit weaker than was probably intended. Kind of like a climate scientist desperately telling his conference that the world is going to end in 50 years, only for people to slow clap and get on board with next presentation “BP’s Guide to a Slightly more Sustainable future (now featuring recycling!)”. It was a great album, but it lack a bit of oomph. Aeons in no way lacks any umph. You were warned, and now the danger is here to wreck havoc. The feeling I get from this album is that this is the music that would play as the Illuminati carries out the end of the world.

And what’s more impressive is that this is not carried out with sheer volume, or any titanic riffs that are so often the focal point of funeral doom. No, Tyranny does a different rout, that of atmosphere. Pure, fucking, awe inspiring, atmosphere. Screeching violins combine with gargantuan synths and towering guitars to create a literal sense of funeral doom. As if you’re doomed to die and given a funeral by the maggots in the ground. One particular detail that facilitates this are the vocals. I was unsure of them at first, as they were much more frog-like than I am typically accustomed too in funeral doom, however after a few minutes I grew to love them. They sound as if the vocalist is literally suffocating on his words. Or to put it more dramatically, as if angel of death him(her?)self is speaking the gospel of despair. That the four horseman have come to bring out the ultimate destruction. It’s beautiful.

I typically don’t even really like over produced funeral doom, but this might’ve changed my mind on that. Like I said earlier, I’m typically one of the lo-fi, crusty funeral doom. I like the idea of a thin fog layered over a weak drum beat going on for 20 minutes or so. Typically if I find something bombastic it’ll just be a massive turnoff. However while this does feel quite over the top, to the point of being epic (which is something I’m not typically fond of in funeral doom), it gets one essential element right that makes that all ok; it’s depressing. This is one fucking depressing album. Not in the suicidal way, but in the pure emotionally destructive despair kind of way. As I said before, the feeling of ultimate demise can’t be avoided when listening to this, and there’s never that one bit of positivity in this record to keep your hopes up. It’s just straight up sad, sad, and more sad the whole way through, and I love it.

If there is one weakness it’s that Aeons never really improves on it’s sound. The first two tracks hit you so hard that the other three don’t make nearly as much of an impact. It should be worth noting that part of this is because the first two tracks are essentially one full track split in two. I was immensely disappointed when I heard the break in between the second and third track to signify the change of ideas, even more so when I realized the ideas really didn’t change. It’s hard to keep a lot of variety in funeral doom, and generally you don’t need to. I think the undoing of this is the fact that Aeons setup for this epic journey through the end of time, filled with twists and turns and awesome adventures in billions of people dying. It raised my expectations so high that there really wasn’t any way to meet them. Because there isn’t a drop in quality throughout the rest of the songs. But there is a set of unfulfilled exceptions that fair or not, lesson the experience just a little bit.

I’ll have to revisit Screaming at the Sun, because deepening on my re-review of that, this may be my doom metal AOTY. If you need an album to express your desire to see all of humanity perish, this is the album for you.


Monolord – Vænir ALBUM REVIEW

From the moment I heard this first line of this album, I knew it was amazing. For background, my favorite band is Electric Wizard. It’s why I tend to love stuff like Stereolithic Riffacalypse. Stoner doom is my favorite genre of metal, and even though I tend to like it more, I tend to also scrutinize it more. It has to meet a higher standard with me. So keep that in mind when I say this, and what I’m about to say hurts me, but at the same time, I can’t hold back from the truth: this is better than Electric Wizard. In every way. It’s dirtier, it has more psychedelic influences, it has more prog influences, the vocals are better, the riffs are better, everything is better. However initially, through the first two tracks, I could really only give it about a 9.5/10. Something was missing. Yeah, it was the album I’ve been looking for for years, but at the same time, it’s something I’d heard before, at least somewhat. Then it happened. About midway through the third track “Nuclear Death”, the riff happened. THE riff. I’m gonna call it the God Riff. Every strum of the downtuned guitars rocked my entire world for about 2 minutes. It was a semi, no it WAS a religious experience in music. That’s when I knew this was it. This wasn’t just any old album, this was possible the greatest album I’ve ever heard. And that wasn’t even the best part of the album. It can’t be, right? It’s only the third track. So the rest of the album was going solid when the title track came up, which I had previously heard was a great track. Oh yeah. Oh yeah it was. You know that God Riff I mentioned a few sentences back? Stretch that out 16 minutes.

This is a modern masterpiece. I was expecting a lot when I listened to this, and it exceeded my expectations in every way.

EDIT: Well it only took about a month but this is dethroned. Still fantastic however, please listen to this.


Wilderun – Sleep at the Edge of the Earth ALBUM REVIEW

Typically when I give an album a really high score, it’s because it blew me away in some fashion, and it’s an album that immediately after I listen to it I think “wow that was incredible!”. This was definitely not that. You know how many drinks and foods aren’t really amazing initially, but the aftertaste really gets to you? This is an album with an aftertaste. My first impression was somewhere along the lines of a high 7 or low 8, very solid, but not amazing. It wasn’t until I actually started thinking about how to review this that I realized how amazing it is.

This work is very much separated into 3 sections; well, more like an intro and 2 sections if you will. The intro section is the first track which starts off with the sounds of a river running and bird calls, with accompaniment by acoustic guitar, mandolin and what sounds like a clarinet however I’m not entirely sure exactly what instrument it is. You can really think of this track as the calm before the storm, leading into the next section, which is essentially the tale of a hero’s journey, told in the next 4 tracks with a combination of acoustic instrumentals, boisterous symphonic outputs, and straight up folk/death metal, alternating between harsh and soft vocals along the way. What I really love about this section is that even though there are minisections within this one part of the album that are focused mostly on these individual parts, the influences of these independent parts can be heard in all the others. There will be times where you will even hear a mandolin in the melo death sections, or have loud symphonic instruments with the clean vocals. It’s so rare to find a band that doesn’t just take from a lot of influences, but actively fuses them together in their music, even though they may be contrasting ideas. That being said, this is probably the weakest part of the album, if solely for the fact that it’s the least interesting or progressive. While it is nice to hear an overdone concept done well, it doesn’t make for something I would considering one of my top albums of the year.

What DOES make that though is the second part of this album, which is a section of 3 tracks ranging from 8-11 minutes, and a stunningly beautiful outro. Unlike the first section of this album, which was essentially one song, these tracks are separate from each other, though they do flow into one another. What makes this section so head and shoulders above the rest of the album, and what puts it as one of the top albums of the year, is the non-obvious, and very unusual harmonies. While all 3 of these tracks use this, I want to focus actually on the shortest of the three, “Linger”, which I think is the best track on the LP. The song is in G minor, however two of the main chords used in the piece are Dmaj10 and Abmaj. For people who don’t know much about music, D major has almost no relation key wise to G minor, other than being the major version of the V chord in G minor (that being D minor), and Ab major has absolutely no relation to G minor harmonically speaking (well, not none, but they certainly aren’t related closely). The D major 10 (basically a D major chord with an extra F# on top) acts as a chord used right before a resolution, but in itself kind of sounding like a resolution, keeping you guessing and unfulfilled, waiting for that final resolution that never seems to come. The Ab is just chromatic harmony, which is almost never used in metal that is supposed to be completely tonal and “pretty”. This is just one example of the many different kinds of ways this album uses unusual chords to keep things interesting. It reminds be a lot of what Beethoven did in his later work, often switching to keys completely unrelated to the tonic (home key) in the middle of the piece, which was completely revolutionary back then.

This album isn’t quite what I would call revolutionary, as it’s ideas have been done before, but it’s certainly not usual or standard in the slightest. Folk metal is something that is really easy to be done wrong, as any time someone that’s not from a culture tries to incorporate that cultures sound, it’s not hard to make it sound awkward and cheesy, as they typically rely on the stereotypes of that sound rather than it’s genuine voice. Sleep at the Edge of the Earth avoids that by incorporating folk instruments into all aspects of their music and combines that with unusual, but not unpleasing, harmonies that make this an extremely unique album that ranks among the top this year.


Ad Nauseam – Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est ALBUM REVIEW

At first listen, I didn’t think much of this album. I thought, yeah it’s showing ugliness in music, but I didn’t have much more than that. Then I went to review it and saw how highly rated it was. I thought “wait, really? But how?”. So I decided maybe I should at least give it a second chance. And yeah, it was one hell of a chance. I realized that this was the closest thing to Schoenberg metal I’ve heard. It goes by basically the same principles of disregarding previous conceptions and training and just going with your primal instinct. The extreme dissonance and primal, guttural, and incoherent yelling exhibit this, more so than in another death metal album and this doesn’t really have that much of a formal structure or chord progression to it. Overall a masterpiece and certainly one of the AOTY candidates.