Friday, December 30, 2016

Top 10 Canadian Albums of 2016

Originally posted at along with the picks from the rest of the team.

Honourable Mentions: Dopethrone - 1312 EP, La Chinga - Free Wheelin’, Thrawsunblat - Metachthonia, The Night Watch - Boundaries, Panzerfaust - The Lucifer Principle.

10. Domestikwom - Pater Vita EP (self-released): Domestikwom is a one man black metal project from Jonathan Petkau. I like to think “domestikwom” means “pet cow” in a language I don’t know. But this isn’t a funny EP. It’s admirably bleak and cut with electronic touches and somewhat morose spoken word. The atmosphere is spread thick over the dynamic whole. This project has plenty of potential. Wait, were those horns?

9. Harangue - No New Prey (Pluto Records): I’ve been repping Harangue since Day One, yes. But this TOHC crew continues to impress. No New Prey shows an increased range while still managing to piledrive the listener into paralysis. Well, at least you’ll be paralyzed after moshing like a madman to their take on ‘90s Hardcore. I can still hear those little hints of Helmet too. This band is underappreciated to say the least.

8. Black Wizard - New Waste (Listenable): Who doesn’t love a good riff? I know I do. Black Wizard do too. So they packed New Waste with riffs. Of the stoner rock kind. I’ve passed a joint and drank beers with these guys so I know their laid-back-but-edgy sonic aesthetic isn’t a put on. Some good times were had in 2016 getting wasted with New Waste!

7. Forteresse - Thèmes pour la Rébellion (Sepulchral): I can be pretty picky with my black metal but I like this kind. Depraved vocals, soaring tremolos blazing across dark skies, and jackhammer percussion. It’s relentless and epic if not exactly original. Originality is hard come by while staying within genre boundaries but when done this well it doesn’t matter. It’s one of my favourite black metal albums of the year, Canadian or otherwise.

6. Olde - Shallow Graves EP (self-released): Do you like Eyehategod, Buzzov*en, -(16)-, Bongzilla, Crowbar and other sludge acts of that ilk? Then you’ll like Olde. They’ve got an LP coming out on STB next year but this year’s EP is enough to satiate even the biggest Olde appetite. Gravelly vocals, endless killer riffs, tone for days and an all-star cast from the Toronto scene. What more do you want? How about a Motörhead cover? DONE. Besides, have you seen how cool those motherfuckers look in their bandcamp cover photo? DOOM ON!!!

5. Begrime Exemious - The Enslavement Conquest (Dark Descent): I can get picky with my death metal too (note the lack of Chthe’ilist, Auroch or Phobocosm) but I’ve no problem with the raw, raging death of Begrime Exemious. They’ve got the kind of old school, foot to the floor approach that causes concussions and makes chiropractors see dollar signs. I really should get a copy of this on CD but it might make driving dangerous. Oops. Just ordered the t-shirt bundle.

4. Astrakhan - Reward in Purpose (War on Music): Like their Vancouver brethren Anciients, Astrakhan can be classed as progressive sludge. Astrakhan however replace the former’s deathly edge with an almost doomy feel. And more melody than you can shake a stick at. But their real game changer is the vocals. Toth and Zawistowski soar and scream and harmonize and raise the album above the considerable heights achieved musically. The reward here is letting the album consume you.

3. Public Animal - Palace Arms (Yeah Right!): I knew a couple of Public Animal songs before I saw them play with Olde. And I was somewhat familiar with Bionic and C’Mon. But now nothing makes me feel as good as Palace Arms. It’s an instant pickmeup. Ian Blurton is a national treasure. Caitlin Dacey is as wondrous as DisneyWorld fireworks. Eric Larock and Ryan Gassi are the rhythm section sent from the gods. Palace Arms is psychedelic garage/prog rock fire to fall in love with.

2. Blood Ceremony - Lord of Misrule (Rise Above): I literally cannot get enough of this album. Keys, flute and all. Alia O’Brien is incomparable. But that wouldn’t mean a thing if the band didn’t rock like they do. Vintage occult rock virtually without equal. Their spell over me cannot be broken. There hasn’t been a single moment since I got the promo that I didn’t want to listen to and absorb this. Captivating doesn’t even scratch the surface. And my kids don’t run away when I play it.

1. Anciients - Voice of the Void (Season of Mist): Recently someone commented that Voice of the Void is soulless and boring. I don’t want what they’re smoking because I find this soulful and exciting. The multi-faceted vocals are spectacular, the solos deliver all the goods and the prog on display is well-crafted and balanced with the crushing sludge. This is only their second full-length, man. You could say they haven’t even hit their stride yet as you know, that’s kind of the point of progression. This is even better than Heart of Oak so I’m really looking forward to loving what’s next even more.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My Favourite Albums of 2016

Most scrobbled albums of 2016 as per

So I scaled back on my writing this year. You couldn’t tell from this site because it’s neglected anyway but I wrote less for other sites. I was burning out, man! I was losing the passion. I had become a factory. I work at one and I don’t want my job to become my identity. Ha! In doing so I was able to enjoy fewer albums to a greater degree instead of my previous method of listen-write-move on. I didn’t have to move on if I didn’t want to. So basically my Top 20 albums of 2016 are those albums that I didn’t want to move on from. And didn’t. Or at least kept coming back to them. Now bear in mind there are a handful of Canadian albums that cracked 11-20 but since they’ll be highlighted in my Top 10 Canadian Albums for I left them out to highlight as much as I could. Screw it. Let’s just make this a Top 40. But pay little attention to the numbers after 20. Let’s get to it.

40. Darkthrone - Arctic Thunder (Peaceville)
39. Neurosis - Fire Within Fires (Neurot)
38. Mizmor - Yodh (Gilead Media)
37. Skeletonwitch - The Apothic Gloom (Prosthetic)
36. Asteroid - III (Fuzzorama)
35. Meshuggah - The Violent Sleep of Reason (Nuclear Blast)
34. Psalm Zero - Stranger to Violence (Profound Lore)
33. Khemmis - Hunted (20 Buck Spin)
32. Amon Amarth - Jomsviking (Metal Blade)
31. Conan - Revengeance (Napalm)
30. Sumac - What One Becomes (Thrill Jockey)
29. The Dillinger Escape Plan - Dissociation (Party Smasher)
28. Sourvein - Aquatic Occult (Metal Blade)
27. The Shrine - Rare Breed (Century Media)
26. Brant Bjork & The Low Desert Punk Band - Tao of the Devil (Napalm)
25. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell - Keep it Greasy (Rise Above)
24. Fistula - Longing for Infection (self-released)
23. Trap Them - Crown Feral (Prosthetic)
22. Gozu - Revival (Ripple Music)
21. Gatecreeper - Sororan Depravation (Relapse)
20. Greenleaf - Rise Above the Meadow (Napalm): I’m a sucker for stoner rock.
19. Gojira - Magma (Roadrunner): I’m hit or miss with this band. Hit.
18. Ringworm - Snake Church (Relapse): Human Furnace burns so hot!
17. Ash Borer - The Irrepassable Gate (Profound Lore): They can do no wrong.
16. Crowbar - The Serpent Only Lies (eOne): Always brings the heavy.
15. Megadeth - Dystopia (Tradecraft/Universal): Megadeth back on point!
14. Wrong - Wrong (Relapse): Blatant Helmet worship works for me!
13. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard - Y Proffwyd Dwyll (New Heavy Sounds): DOOM!
12. -(16)- - Lifespan of a Moth (Relapse): RIFFS RIFFS SLOW SOUTHERN STEEL
11. Testament - Brotherhood of the Snake (Nuclear Blast): Thrash album of the year!
10. Spirit Adrift - Chained to Oblivion (Prosthetic): Emotionally addictive.
8. Oranssi Pazuzu - Värähtelijä (20 Buck Spin): Goodbye, reality.
7. Subrosa - For This We Fought The Battle of Ages (Profound Lore): No brainer.
6. Blood Ceremony - Lord of Misrule (Rise Above): Captivating isn’t even a start.
5. Graves at Sea - The Curse That Is (Relapse): May have compromised the structural integrity of my house.
4. Hammers of Misfortune - Dead Revolution (Metal Blade): So much air guitar.
3. Anciients - Voice of the Void (Season of Mist): My kind of prog. The sludgy kind.
2. Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas - Mariner (Indie Recordings): Wow. Just fucking WOW.
1. Cobalt - Slow Forever (Profound Lore): Charlie Fell and Erik Wunder are a match made in heaven.

Here's hoping 2017 is better. Even with Trump as leader of the free world.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Trap Them - Crown Feral

By now Trap Them have built quite a reputation as unfuckwithable purveyors of corrosive grindcore or "dark hardcore" as the Seattle-based foursome are often described. They've only strengthened their stranglehold on the upper echelon with new album, Crown Feral. Reception for 2014's Blissfucker wasn't quite as warm as that for previous LP Darker Handcraft but you'd be hard pressed to criticize this latest offering. It's 10 tracks force fed over 32 minutes that will have you choking on your own vomit trying to match their fierce intensity.

Opening with "Kindred dirt" Ryan McKenney barks over a slow build - like the deep breaths taken to steady the heart and mind - before plunging into the vortex of chaos unleashed over the next half hour. Once they get into it they leave no doubt that their fire burns hotter than ever. Trap Them slice and dice with buzzing guitars and percussion that just won't quit. The energy is off the charts. Adrenaline pumps so hard just listening to it that I can't imagine their live shows. Back when Blissfucker came out I even stated that if I saw them live I'd spend the whole time on all fours barking and snarling, foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog. I'd bark even louder now. Trap Them definitely have a way of bringing out our animal nature.

Few bands can tap into that feral side quite like they do. I won't get all hyperbolic about being the best this or the greatest that but they make it impossible to listen passively, especially during the hard hits on a track like "Prodigala". You just want to double down on the urge to unleash on everything in whatever way suits you best. Screaming, moshing or other such loss-of-self activities.

As much as Trap Them run circles around you in a buzzsaw fury, they can and do slow things down every once in a while on Crown Feral adding some dynamic flow to the album. Those moments still pull some groove amid riffs that blast like automatic cannon fire. In their "lighter" moments they bend and stretch your will with ease, as displayed on closer "Phantom Air" as at this point you've been made malleable and unable to withstand the onslaught. Have no fear though as the closing minute or so reignites the flame from still scorching embers and burns all to ashes leaving you no choice but to attempt escape through the harrowing portal that graces the cover. It will earn you no reprieve however as Crown Feral demands repeated listens under penalty of death as you're hurtled back in the chaos until you can simply stand it no longer.

Wow, that sounds cheesy. But it's true.

Crown Feral established its grip early and often, tossing you around like a predator toying with the kill firmly clenched in its jaws. The "quieter, slower" parts do provide some breathing room but I doubt Trap Them took your comfort into consideration when crafting their all-out assaults.

Face it. You're trapped. There is no escape. Give in to the violence, the chaos, the power. Channel it and use it, and grind it all to dust.

Trap Them on:

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

(Semi) Weekly Temptations: June 22, 2016

Let's face it. There's no way I'm getting this done every week. But at least it's something. Here's some of what has rattled my chains in the last week.

Nails - You Will Never Be One Of Us (Released June 17, 2016 on Nuclear Blast)

Well, frontman Todd Jones has been taking some heat this past little while as a reaction to his own hot headedness. I won't go into specifics but it's not like we didn't expect Jones to blow his top at least once during this album cycle. Maybe it wasn't even Jones. Who knows on social media? Moving on, this newest "full length" keeps driving the way Nails fans expect. I like it. It's good but I don't think it's the AOTY candidate some are touting is as. But really, if you want super aggro, tear your arm off and beat yourself in the head with it hardcore, Nails will help.

Obsidian Kingdom - A Year With No Summer (Released March 11, 2016 on Season of Mist)

I'm sort of surprised this is still hanging around on my phone. But it's got that little something that halts tapping delete. Lots of melody and plenty of hooks. The "progressive rock" tag doesn't really do them justice as that makes the album sound weak. Which it's not. The power is emotional and it's all wrapped up in good songs that make tapping repeat all too easy.

Electric Citizen - Higher Time (Released May 13, 2016 on RidingEasy Records)

If one thing is going to catch (and keep) my attention it's groove. EC spreads the groove nice and thick on Higher Time. It's one of those albums I can dig whenever and wherever. The saturation of killer riffs is total. It's got that dirty tone of the old school and an abundance of hooks. And vocalist Laura Dolan comes in as the clincher. Smooth, soulful, just a bit of grit and a perfect complement to the heavy rock power. Any time spent with this will take you higher without question.

Grand Magus - Sword Songs (Released May 13, 2016 on Nuclear Blast)

Dude. I shouldn't have to tell you about Grand Magus. The Swedes have been dishing out the battle hymns for long enough now. But that doesn't mean they don't still make albums worth listening to. Sword Songs is simply the latest is a long line of epic albums steeped in themes that traditional metal was born from. And in this case that means Vikings. Leather and steel. Sharp and tough. Horns up!

The Judge - The Judge (Released July 22, 2016 on Ripple Music)

More groove! I went on a bit of a kick where all I wanted to listen to was stuff that reminded me of the old days when stoner rock was LIFE. Bluesy and rockin', The Judge give me the ole heavy eyes. It's another album that makes me not feel so bad about being born too late. Sure, being there in the '70s would have been great but with albums like this around to capture that feeling you get the best of both worlds. (Note: That's the cover of their EP above. Not this LP. But it's right below. Silly internet.)

Foghound - The World Unseen (Released July 8, 2016 on Ripple Music)

Are you feeling the theme of this week yet? Seriously heavy on the hard rock/stoner bands. Foghound keep that going. They definitely bring the riffs. And the swagger. They've got a real southern sound that betrays their Illinois locale. They make me want to drink beer and throw my back out. A sore neck is almost a given. "Serpentine" is a definite highlight. Get fucked and get down.

Gozu - Revival (Released June 10, 2016 on Ripple Music)

Let me tell you! This album is one of the best I've heard this year! It hits those sweet spots that get my motor running. Hard driving riffs, killer tone, and dynamic vocals. Depending on the song, you can pick up the sounds of other bands that run in the same circles but it never feels like they're ripping them off. It's a diverse effort full of rockin' and rollin' fun. These dudes are definitely in it to win it! I just can't get enough of these Boston boys! FFO: Goatsnake, QOTSA, Fu Manchu, etc.

Bat - Wings of Chains (Released June 10, 2016 on Hells Headbangers)

First things first. Ryan Waste (Municipal Waste), Nick Poulos (Volture) and Felix Griffin (ex-D.R.I.) combine their powers on this raging speed metal beast. The pedigree is unquestionable and the trio does not let you down. Filthy, dirty and loose, it's a rager that combines the snarl of punk rock with the power of metal. What else did you expect? Well, expect plenty of air guitar and banging heads.

Slow Season - Westing (Released July 1, 2016 on RidingEasy Records)

Alright, alright, alright! This is the kind of hazy, laid back stoner rock I'll dig all day, man. By far the most psychedelic of this group of bands, they take the listener on a blissful trip full of fuzz and retro sensibility. They nail the vintage feel through both sound and production. You can really escape your worries with Westing. Just tap into the plane they're on and ride it all out in hypnotic splendour. Like many of the bands above, but more so than any, Slow Season bring the aura of the old days up to the present but wouldn't it be cool if this was some lost gem? Nah, this way we can get new music from them for years to come! And I for one, want them to continue guiding my trips.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Weekly Temptations: May 30, 2016

Ok, so there's no way I'm going to get this done every week but I have a plan. I don't know quite how to execute it yet, but I have one. In the meantime, now that I fixed my scrobbling issue (sort of) you can see what the last few days had in store.

Withered - Grief Relic (May 27, 2016 on Season of Mist)

The return of WITHERED!!!! Their "tortured blackened doom" has added more death to the mix here. They've also added Colin Marston on bass and his presence is definitely felt. Far from a instant gratification type album you've really got to crack this one open.

Eleanora - Allure (May 7, 2016 on Consouling Sounds)

I'm used to having Consouling release albums with an ambient side. Eleanora however obliterate ambience. Their allure comes from a savage, sludgy, hardcore place that builds up primal urges in the listener. Disgustingly good.

Cough - They Still Pray (June 3, 2016 on Relapse)

You know you're getting heavy-ass shit with Cough. It was produced and recorded by Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard with Windhand's Garrett Morris.  I can hear that. Massive slogging doom. There's no medicine for this and prayers don't work.

Begrime Exemious - The Enslavement Conquest (March 4, 2016 on Dark Descent)

Vicious, searing, crusty, blackened, thrashing death. Canada has a tonne of great bands but Begrime Exemious are one of the best. They continue to pummel brains and terrorize eardrums on this latest release. I really should order physical copy of this. Perfect for raging out in the garage when I need to blow off some steam.

Phobocosm - Bringer of Doubt (May 13, 2016 on Dark Descent)

Another deathly Canadian product! The difference here is Phobocosm are fucking weird. Eternally dark and twisted, they make you feel uncomfortable all the time. It's terrifying and technical death that lurks close to the floor to drag you into nightmares.

Red Wizard - Cosmosis (April 8, 2016 on Ripple Music/STB Records)

Ripple Music and STB Records are two of the kickin'-est labels going. And Red Wizard are pretty kickin'. Fuzzy grooves and dirty bellows abound amidst no frills stoner rock. Bands like this (and their labels) bring back memories of the good ole Man's Ruin days. Cosmic!

Voidnaga - Demo MMXVI (March 11, 2016 on Iron Bonehead)

Malicious Malaysian death/black metal! This one-man project exudes darkness and the stench of foul beings. Crawling doom atmosphere, varied tempos, soul-swallowing vocals. If this is just a demo, the world is in serious trouble.

Deformatory - Malediction (February 5, 2016 on CDN Records)

The third of four Canadian entries. Ottawa's Deformatory brutalize with speed and dexterity while keeping the wankery to a minimum. They're not inventing any new tricks but that's not an issue when you can channel bands like Suffocation to devastating effect.

Mortillery - Shapeshifter (May 27, 2016 on Napalm)

Blistering thrash from Edmonton pulling from the wild and crazy heyday of speed metal and injecting bitchin' vocals into the guitar fury! It reminds me of the neo-thrash savagery of bands such as Warbringer and Havok, even topping those bigger names. MORTILLERY FUCKING RIP!!!!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mothra - Decision Process

It's known to happen that I will listen to instrumental bands. Less so now than when I was big into Karma to Burn but Decision Process, the debut LP five years in the making from Aukland's Mothra has made me remember some things. First, who needs vocals when the music is so expressive. And second, it's quite relaxing to not have someone yelling at you sometimes.

Influences listed include Neurosis, Tool and Meshuggah and you can hear those bands in Mothra's progressive post-metal. They're not as downright have as any of those bands (ok, maybe Tool) but when they put the hammer down you feel a similar effect. Mothra bring that epic scale to the picture and the rhythm section makes sure the thunder is felt and heard.

It's in that rhythm section where the Tool influence is most apparent. The bass playing is great; locking into cyclical grooves and blazing a trail for the guitars to follow. It's not straightforward however. Wide open grooves meet ethereal melodies littered with atmosphere, layers and progressive song writing.

Mothra deftly avoid the pitfalls of the style (and long runtimes) by continually pushing forward making minor and major changes to the themes to keep the listener interested. Trust me on this. I've been listening to it for three days and there's been no desire to move away from the musicianship or enduring songs.

Highlights include "Splinters" (see video below), "Elements of Sleep" (with cello and violin adding to the beauty), and "Burnt Impression". No matter where you go on Decision Process you're met with the same fulfilling music dynamically saturating the space in three dimensions. For fans of Neurosis/Isis, Tool, Pelican and other crafters of fine post/prog metal (even latter day Mastodon and Helmet at times) the decision is easy: Check this out now. Like their namesake, it will blow you away.

Released February 12, 2016

Hear Decision Process on Bandcamp:

Mothra Official Site

Mothra on Facebook

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Metal Matt Recommends: Week of April 11-17, 2016

As you can see by the fact that this is being posted a good two weeks after the week in question, this taking a break thing is serious. This site is sorely neglected regularly but I was writing a lot elsewhere. Anyway, I'm scaling back to get a grip on myself and clear my head. But I can't turn off completely (out of guilt) so I'll continue with this series as best I can. I'm going to try something fun next time I hope. I have to make sure I can pull it off. You'll see. Until then, enjoy this stunningly rifftastic week!

Graves at Sea - The Curse That Is (April 1, 2016 on Relapse Records)

It's taken a good long time but we finally have a full length Graves at Sea release with The Curse That Is. Not that their previous work hasn't made an impact but here we're graced with over 70 minutes of writhing, bitter, vengeful doom where every second makes your very being an avatar to its will. The cavalcade of ripping riffs are heavy and overpowering, capturing some of the essence that makes Sleep and early High on Fire so captivating. The paint-peeling vocals are wracked with pain and a desperation for understanding beyond the self. Their relatable insanity taps into that piece of us begging for release. From start to finish Graves at Sea batter the listener down to an unrecognizable stain and in doing so have crafted what could become a classic doom album. Embrace the curse.

The Curse That Is on Bandcamp

October Tide - Winged Waltz (April 22, 2016 on Agonia Records)

Originally published at Heavy Metal:

Not being well versed in the Peaceville Three, or even Katatonia for that matter, should preclude me from being able to speak on Winged Waltz, the latest from melodic death/doom quintet October Tide. But you don't have to be to “get” them. The third album since the band's reformation in 2009, Winged Waltzpowers through the darkness spreading melancholia and sorrow.

It's a beautifully crafted album full of ups and down, heaviness and light and is bursting with emotion. Crunchy death and draining vocals are mated to arching melodies and hard won drive. Fredrik Norrman's guitar work is masterful. Passive and active listening both yield amazing enjoyment but you'll want to dedicate time to digging in as the storm clouds gather and the world grows dark.

Winged Waltz on Bandcamp

Purson - Desire's Magic Theatre (April 29, 2016 on Spinefarm Records)

UK's Purson created quite a buzz for themselves with 2013's The Circle and the Blue Door, leading to high expectations for new LP Desire's Magic Theatre. As you can tell by the cover, the psych/prog group packs all they can into the dramatic album.

The rock opera quality of the work is apparent immediately, recalling the kind of feeling heard on The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's. Work in The Who and Queen for good measure and get psyched by the Hendrix-isms (“Electric Landlady”). Organs, flute and horns complete the flashback show. DMT is quite a musical trip with Rosalie Cunningham narrating the acidic journey with dynamic grace. It feels like the art they were born to make. If rock opera's your ticket, enjoy the show!

Desire's Magic Theatre on Spotify

Blood Ceremony - Lord of Misrule (March 26, 2016 on Rise Above Records)

I talked about this album in my last post. But you can see that it still showed up this week. Because it's awesome and I keep listening to it.

Blood Ceremony on Facebook

Valley of the Sun - Volume Rock (April 29, 2016 on Fuzzorama Records)

Volume Rock by Valley of the Sun says really all that needs to be said in the album title. This is high energy rock that begs to be cranked to stupid volumes. It's pretty radio friendly stuff, not really metal at all. Lots of catchy riffs and other tasty guitar work with a little Fu Manchu/QOTSA fuzz tacked on. It's not overly complicated but that's not what you're looking for with heavy rock such as this. Keep it simple. Crack some brews, sit back with some bud(s), and let the speakers do the work.

Volume Rock on Bandcamp

Necrolytic Goat Converter - Demo MMXVI (self-released on March 6, 2016)

Created by Chris Voss (@cmvoss042 on Twitter) Demo MMXVI is his initial offering under the name Necrolytic Goat Converter. And the parched black metal within reflects the name. Abrasive guitars and even more abrasive rasps sandpaper the ears into a state of living death. Warm bass and spot-on percussion round out the feral presentation. Miraculously he's done this all with Garage Band. Dude's got more time than I to figure that program out!

But now I'm inspired to try. Voss is exorcising his demons (and spoiled milk) on this bleak and powerful release. And I'll be damned if anything is going to beat that album cover this year. Fuckin' sweet! It's a deeply personal outpouring executed brilliantly. Load up on batteries, spikes, corpsepaint. Drag your stereo out into the abyss. Crank it to 666 and get converted.

Demo MMXVI on Bandcamp (Name your price)

Pyramido - Vatten (May 1, 2016 on Halo of Flies)

Vatten is a crazy good mix of doom's weight and plod fused to the dirty tone and pissed off attitude of sludge. Nearly every note is a call to destroy. Hammering riffs and muscular drums assault the listener guided by fierce and forceful all out yells. Not to be dumbed down, Pyramido layer a ringing atmosphere in sometimes that can make them feel bigger than they already do. This Swedish outfit is pretty cool. Check out Vatten and you'll have a smashing good time. Literally.

Vatten on Bandcamp

Zippo - After Us (March 25, 2016 on Apocalyptic Witchcraft)

Zippo is a pretty cool band that I'd never heard of until now. But it's bands like this that make "stoner rock" my preferred genre. Head noddin', toe tappin' stuff. After Us is loaded with gritty vocals, groove and some deadly low-end fuzz. Ass-kicker songs are mixed with more laid back tunes (and sax on "The Leftovers"). Nice variation, good riffs and that atmosphere you're looking for in a stoner/sludge/psych band are all present and accounted for. It's sunny out. I wish I was at home crankin' this outside.

After Us on Bandcamp

Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas - Mariner (April 8, 2016 on Indie Recordings)

Originally published at Heavy Metal:

What do you get with a collaboration between post-sludge heavyweights Cult of Luna and the volatile nature of Julie Christmas (ex-Made Out of Babies, Battle of Mice)? You get a bunch of words not appropriate for this site. Mariner is that good. It would have been great without Christmas, but her contributions take it to a transcendental new level.

Melody clearly drives the sails. Both parties lift the listener to weightless heights with it through many stirring passages. CoL's solar storms and nebular skies are countered by the grace of Christmas's interplanetary siren call. But when she puts that edge on she becomes the supernova battling the lunar roars. Mariner is beyond stunning. It's a match made in the heavens.

Cult of Luna on Facebook

Keep an eye on Twitter (@kingdomofnoise) for more of what you need to hear!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Metal Matt Recommends: Week of March 27 - April 2

I'm trying something new. Every so often I'll take what the generator makes for my collage, even though it's not an accurate representation of what my last week of listening was, and say a few words about each one. Sound like fun? I hope so. And I hope this gets me to pay a little more attention to Kingdom of Noise. Anyway, let's do this!

Blood Ceremony - Lord of Misrule (March 26, 2016 on Rise Above)

This album is fantastic! Somehow their previous album, The Eldritch Dark slipped right by me. I've yet to go dig it up because I can't stop listening to this one! Few bands do the "retro occult rock with female singer" thing as well as Blood Ceremony. Alia O'Brien is just one facet of what makes this album so good. The riffs are smooth and catchy, the mood is perfect, and O'Brien's double threat wins on both sides with her powerful voice and folky flute. Not to mention the songwriting. There have been days I've listened to Lord of Misrule on repeat from the time I wake til I turn in for the night and I was just as excited about it at the end of the day as I was at the beginning. This one's going to put up a good fight for Album of the Year.

Amon Amarth - Jomsviking (March 25, 2016 on Metal Blade)

Good ole reliable Amon Amarth. I named Twilight of the Thunder God my favourite album that year. They keep making new albums but they don't keep topping my list. See, at the time it was the first I'd heard the band. They were fresh and new to me and I loved it. But three albums later it's not fresh or new anymore. I still enjoy them but churning out album after album of the same stuff doesn't always work for me. It might for many but maybe I'm just not fun. Melodic death metal about Vikings and stuff is cool and all, and I don't even know what they could do to change it up, but it's getting stale at this point. Truth me told, I have enjoyed Jomsviking more than Surtur Rising and Deceiver of the Gods.

Conan - Revengeance (January 29, 2016 on Napalm)

CAVEMAN BATTLE DOOM!!!! Can't put it more plainly than that. Heavy as Hell doom battered out with epic screams and bellows carrying between the mountain peaks. They've picked up the pace a bit on this one, moving away from their stereotypical slow and steady march. Or at least the march you expect. No matter the pace Conan are great and Revengeance has become my go to album for when I can't decide. It delivers for me every time. It's bloody massive and I love it!

Black Cobra - Imperium Simulacra (February 26, 2016 on Season of Mist)

This duo can bring it. Punishing sludge with a sort of punk energy and tendency for violence. Their aggressive style gives the listener a thorough beating. Take High on Fire, the Melvins and the spastic nature of noise rock and blast it out of a tank as it flattens humanity before it and you get the idea. Black Cobra were supposed to play locally a couple years ago with Black Wizard and Anciients but they didn't get across the border. Man, that would have been a killer set. I love this kind of stuff live. My neck and back have different ideas though. It's been a few years since they've released an album but Imperium Simulacra makes the wait totally worth it.

Rotten Sound - Abuse to Suffer (March 25, 2016 on Season of Mist)

Who doesn't love Rotten Sound, right? Losers, that's who. They've long been a band that doesn't believe in reins and just lets it fly. Explosive grind with nuclear capability that knows when to slow down and let the heaviness do the torturing. Vengeful vocals tough enough to break down all defences. If memory serves correctly Abuse to Suffer is a little more controlled in general than 2011's Cursed and 2013's Species at War EP. But that doesn't mean the bone-breaking tone and bath salt-equivalent extremity don't make me want to dismantle the world with my bare hands. Because that's exactly what I want to do.

Church of Misery - And Then There Were None (March 4, 2016 on Rise Above)

I admit I wasn't all that into Church of Misery until now. Bear in mind that was more ignorance than distaste. I just didn't listen to them much. I've got a split around here somewhere. And neither was I much for Repulsion. Same. I might have heard Horrified a couple times. So I wasn't as excited as many when word came down that Scott Carlson was taking over vocal duties for a revamped lineup for And Then There Were None. But damn. This is killer shit. About killers and shit. I knew to expect that much. Slow jammed, Sabbath influenced serial killer stoner doom that goes down smooth and leaves a warm feeling inside from veteran musicians feels pretty good to me. Now it's time to dig in to that back catalog.

Wormed - Krighsu (March 25, 2016 on Season of Mist)

On Twitter I said Krighsu was like "I'm hurtling through a wormhole screaming about cool, interesting stuff but you can't understand a fucking word!" That was my first impression and it still holds. I just can't get with this kind of tech death. I just can't. I didn't like the latest Gorguts either. Or Obscura. Or just about any of the super-technical, piq-squeely writhing ball of space maggot stuff that falls into this style. Have at it though. I'll stick to Archspire. I can handle them.

Rotting Christ - Rituals (February 12, 2106 on Season of Mist)

I don't have any real knowledge of Rotting Christ's work before Aealo but I love that album. Kata Ton Diamona Eaytoy didn't stir up the same emotions for me. I can't say Rituals does either but it's pretty much what I expected from the Greeks this time. All their stylistic touches are present and accounted for and it's those Eastern and folk touches that set the band apart. They've got a massive sound lush with melody and power fit for crushing the enemy. It's the kind of black metal that makes you feel alive. The more I listen the more I like it so I have a feeling it will stick around my playlist for a good while.

Wytch Hazel - Prelude (April 22, 2016 on Bad Omen)

It's a fun album if not exactly the sort of thing I listen to regularly. Fairly dramatic, clean vocals, traditional heavy metal sort of thing. Not Maiden clones but he does hit some high notes. The press materials paint Prelude as a mix of Jethro Tull, Wishbone Ash, Thin Lizzy and NWOBHM. I can't argue with that. Based on medieval influences and sporting a sense of grandeur often found at LARP events, there's all kinds of uplifting moments. It's pretty good stuff for the style but there's only so much of it I can handle in one sitting.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Striker - Stand In The Fire

I don't really have much to say about Stand In The Fire from Edmontonian metallers Striker. Everything about them screams heavy metal. From their logo to their image to the music. Hell bent for leather and denim or what!

They've got their own label for this release (after a couple on Napalm) and hey, why not? I have to give them props for their chops and cred for their shred but this just isn't my kind of metal. It's too "Metal". It's like thrash (and all the mind-numbing speed that can come with that) with NWOBHM influences (namely Iron Maiden and Judas Priest) and penchant for some glam elements. Balladish songs and what not. I skipped that whole era for the most part but those moments remind me of Motley Crue if anything.

The closest Big 4 analog would be Anthrax because honestly they're the most fun. And Striker are plenty fun for those who are looking for it. I can't say it's bad because it isn't really but Stand In The Fire burns in a different place than my desires. But hey, if you like high energy, fists in the air, hair flying Metal with a capital M, get a little closer to the flames. And I know plenty of folks who live for this stuff.

Released February 5, 2016 on Record Breaking Records

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Blëed - The Hatred Inside

On first listen The Hatred Inside by Blëed sounded kind of derivative. Subsequent listens didn't lead to some epiphany but the critical edges were softened. That doesn't mean Bleed are poised to make serious waves but for a modern (mainstream-ish) metal album it's not too bad. If you didn't know already, I'm more of an underground guy.

They still sound like weekend warriors that recorded an album but at least it's fun. There's no lack of mosh/bang-worthy riffs or rhythms as they bash their way through these 11 tracks. They also change things up enough from one track to the next to keep the listener awake.

I'd say it's mostly thrash based but there's melody working its way in. Death metal makes an appearance and NWOBHM drops by a few times to let everyone know what's up. More often than not I'm reminded of GWAR oddly enough. The lyrics are more earthly but the vocals have an Oderus/Green Jelly flavour and phrasing. Rounding out the list of styles comes a smattering of nu-metal in the vein of Slipknot/Mudvayne without ripping them off too obviously.

The bass stands out often in the mix and even gets some solo time. At times it does come off a bit sloppy but it's a heck of a lot tighter than I could ever hope to be. (Even though I did have a few solos in the only band I was ever in.)

It's hard to compare Blëed to any one band but that's good. The Hatred Inside is a solid slab of mainstream metal suited for the masses that are content to throw back some brews and headbang until they can't see straight. Going to far as to tear yourself apart as depicted on the cover is a stretch but the longer you listen the deeper it sinks its teeth in. And truth be told, some of those riffs are pretty fuckin' killer.

Released September 29, 2015

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