Ride At Dawn – Blast Cage

Label: Survivalist

I stumbled across this band a few weeks back whilst trolling through a few select label distros on Discogs and investigated them further via their bandcamp site: http://rideatdawn.bandcamp.com/  (does not have audio for any of their albums currently, just a single).  I was immediately taken in by moody post punk of their single “I Don’t Care” which bore a striking resemblance to some of my favorite Red Lorry Yellow Lorry tunes, but sadly I could not track down “I don’t Care” as it’s not on any of their release that I could get information on so I blindly purchased their two full-lengths: Blast Cage and Human Altars. At this point I’d simply hoped that they might bear some resemblance to what I’d heard, but upon arrival and first play through all I got was an ear blasting from the distorted puking Celtic Frost/Hellhammer/Venom swathed in crackling hiss bombs of distortion and total analog worship, which was a pleasant ripping I’d not forget nor want to anytime soon.

In a time when too much punk for my tastes is infiltrating metal of all styles, mostly to the point where it’s not even metal anymore, it’s a real fucking treat to hear something that actually still holds up to what it is and in this case it’s raw, early first wave, black metal before it was known as “black” metal. The title of Blast Cage isn’t overly misleading either so here you CAN judge the sound by it’s presentation as Blast Cage is a hypnotic brew of about 20 minutes of catchy sonic punk rhythms, some great treble wails of black metal riff glory, some ugly scum low end bass bombs, and a variety of tempos from blast beat hysteria down to clunky percussive stumbles (particularly on the “The Eldritch Matriarch”). No necro shit here, no core, just raging riffs and raspy bouts of vocals behind the mix, fully dissolved in treble, sometimes completely manic, and even backed by some decent walking bass lines as on “Pulmonary Salvage”.

In short Blast Cage, and Ride At dawn for that matter, is an essential for fans of the Legion Blotan releases, first wave black metal, and some of the more blackened punk metal sounds of some of the Primal Vomit releases (NRIII, Black Lands, OV, Vomikaust).  The tape is actually double sided although the description I’ve seen says single-sided, but the album repeats across both sides.  The only pressing was 100 copies and they are all gone form Survivalist although I found a few available on Discogs so they are still floating around and only about $5 -$15 at the moment so act on this one quick before the “out-of-print” mark-up hits and you have to go into the full on prison style “compromise” position to get a copy.

Like many smart bands these days, these guys keep a VERY low profile, so no clips are available right now that I could find.

Wreck And Reference – Want

Label: The Flenser

Wreck and Reference are one of the few bands churning out continually reliable and desirable turbulent post punk with so-called black metal leanings that have kept me pre-ordering everything they put out and never being disappointed at the result.  I began my W&R affliction back with the distorted, catchy, tantrum filled demented beauty of Black Cassette and have followed them through to their very recent delivery of Want, a more down tempo and experimental twist to their MO of depressive fueled aural discontent and emotional instability. In fact when I hear songs such as “Stranger, Fill this Hole” I’m thinking about Nurse With Wound tape reels, clocks, and countless other strange found sounds dissolved into a dreamlike fabric of chemically altered mind states, ever more so than late 70’s to early 80’s post punk or even black metal. I even have to claim experiencing some reminiscence of some of the trippy off the cuff stuff that I often found on labels such as Soleil Moon or Beta Lactam Ring that expressed a bit of psychedelic, goth, post punk, dark, experimental, maybe even borderline shoegaze, rock.

Honestly, fuck the cheap lame ass reviews that quote Joy Division at every turn, as there’s at least 10 fuck loads of everything else moody and dark from those styles just thrown out there for every one Joy Division reference. Bands like Wreck and Reference deserve to be recognized for the balance they give between the morose,the dreamy narco-fueled drfitscapes, and the violent hysteria of emotional instability that crafts real, potent, memorable experiences. In fact, listening to Want very easily captures an opioid bliss filed with the tension being escaped from and the floating numbness of intoxicated half wake states so realistically that it could possibly substitute for the psychological craving for the opiate high in addiction treatment programs.

All in all this recent W&R output is one of their strongest and ironically more accessible on the superficial level. As I’ve found with bands this intense and genuine, whether the band is obliteratingly heavy and aggressive on the album, or pulling themselves way back from the decibel throttle and drawing out the pain out via continual, deliberate, depressive punches with the sporadic manic outburst of violent emotions, it’s almost always the slower and more thought out album, or even song(s) on the album that does the most damage and for Wreck and Reference they went ahead and made an entire album to create that bruising inflammation on us listening to them when they unleashed Want.

http://store.theflenser.com/

http://theflenser.bandcamp.com/

Definitely check out the bandcamp Flenser site link above for the full album. I especially recommend hearing other songs such as “Stranger, Fill This Hole In Me”, “Convalescence”, although the album as whole is strikingly brilliant when listened to from beginning to end.

Departure Chandelier – The Black Crest of death, The Gold Wreath of War (Demo)

Label: Tour de Garde

By far one of my favorite recent findings and yet another towering pillar of strength for modern black metal, Departure Chandelier not only viciously stab the current vanilla state of black metal but they further twist the jagged rusty blade into a major artery of stagnation with this demo. I honestly often forget that it is a demo because it has that much of a seductive force and hard to compete with ferocity, that it’s one of those rare releases that through listening actually feels as though it captured an atmosphere, both physically and metaphysically, at a specific moment in time such that with every listen one can thoroughly experience everything as if they too were there in that moment when the sounds were captured.  Not surprising given the label the release is on, nor the French Canadian historical themes based on the brutal and narcissistic human condition that is the underlying root of the story.

The album is loose in structure, the vocals are of a more throat based and coherent form than the usual shrieked piercing black metal banshee wails, and ends with a haunting keyboard based ambient track very much like the bizarre Giallo-like intro. Only 20-minutes in total the album leaves a distinctive scar on the listener as it transcends atmospheric black metal, raw fuzzy treble based, and modern, almost punish, grooving black metal that’s as warm as pissing on oneself while asleep due to the right balance of distortion and treble settings, but still as cruel and discomforting as the burning urine scald and raw burning rash that results form exposure.

Behind the blaring anthemic main guitar riff that drives the title track through it’s nearly 9 minutes of a simple, addicting rhythm, set to a persistent taunting pace, is a harrowing archaic synth element that appears sporadically through the song reminding me of the subtle power of symphonic elements that often backed some of the greatest black metal albums of all time such as In the Nightside Eclipse, or even a few of the Deathspell Omega triumphs. It’s not a huge factor when looked at on it’s own, but when it shows up where it does on songs like this one it really gets the adrenaline pumping. There’s really nothing technical, unusual, or spectacular here when each component is dissected out and looked at on it’s own, but somehow the way this band combines those bits together the whole becomes greater then the sum of it’s parts. Allegedly comprised of members of Ash Pool and Akitsa, whether that’s true or not I’m not sure and frankly don’t care, I do have to say that the overall sound and structure of this band is very much a crossbreed of those two bands which is probably one of the main reasons that I instantly fell under their spell. Think of Akitsa with their hypnotic punkish rhythms fused with atmospheric raw black metal from “Sang Nordique”, and some of the ferocious muddy textures of Ash Pool’s Genital Tomb and you’re pretty fucking close to treading into and sinking slowly into the muck that is Departure Chandelier.

http://www.t-d-g.net/

 

 

NRIII – The Algea

Label: Prison Tatt Records

I was going to cover some of the tapes this Floridian gutter ensemble has released but when this full-length came to me courtesy of Mr. Berger I felt this recent excretion of audio obscenities would be a more appropriate review than older tapes, although those will certainly get their spotlight very soon as well because they are pretty essential finds. But for those of you who aren’t familiar with NRIII let me begin by briefly “briefing” you on them: NRII are one of the raw,primal, Florida based ugly punkish black metal noise bands that are featured on the glorious Primal Vomit records roster alongside Black Lands, Floridian winter, No Pleasure in Life,  OV, Vomikaust…; in other words really good, harsh, insane, toxic sound producing assholes with a total disregard for rules and other peoples feelings. So anyway, I’m putting this record on expecting it to be noisy raw post-industrial with black metal (?),in other words their “usual”,  but instead I get this acid tripping, almost nightmarish kraut rock/komische vibe? It’s like death industrial funneled underneath an analogue UFO landing hum of ambience that’s as cosmic as it depraved and this is the appropriately titled “Inescapable Wilderness” that ends side one of this oddity. Not too far off for NRIII, but holy Hell is this taking what they already do so well to another universe of “What the Fuck” that’s not even been acknowledged yet… so put down the ether boys and stop licking toads.

And if that first song wasn’t crazy enough there are other songs that feature layers of crackling so heavy and intense that I honestly thought my needle was skipping and dragging at one point. Then gradually short snips of black metal vocal screech  join the crackle all the while  strange analogue synth drone fills in the background.  For many this would be weird to experience, even if you’ve experienced NRIII before, but  after that initial shock wears off you’re insides will be liquefied and glowing fluorescent to the bass blurps, hisses and, dare I say, metallic minimal techno grooves(?) of The Algae. Yes, I fucking said techno, as in the German style minimal speaker burning bombs of bass and hissing, no dance rhythms , just a sea of clicks, scrapes, metallic clanks and clinks, and bass “Whhhhhhoooooooommmmmmmpppppphhhh….Brrrrrrrmmmmppppphhh”.

There’s a slight Cluster and Cosmic Jokers aesthetic that collides with some of the true industrial classic artists such as Dissecting Table, Aube, even some Nurse With Wound and the unique sounds of Esplendor Geometrico that flirt with the debauchery of weird black noise acts like Hypsiphrone and possibly even T.O.M.B.  But if this still is a baffling hodgepodge of a description then maybe it’s best to leave it as said that: If indeed this album were representing a psychedelic journey than the visuals would most likely be the bouncing and erratically fluttering sound waves of an oscilloscope connected through electrodes to the exposed brain of someone entirely conscious and watching hardcore porn.

If you’re already a fan of T.O.M.B., Stemcell Research Project, Demonoligists, Deathstench, and the like then you’ll be right at home with NRIII and the other recent Prison Tatt release, Bob Bellarue Butcher’s Broom (I’ll cover that one on the next posting along with Smoke and Sesso Violento).

http://prisontatt.com/

The songs from this album are featured on the PT website, but just to give you some idea of what NRIII produce I’m including a few clips below:

http://youtu.be/zG57QFVPrV8

 

 

Black Howling/Hypothermia – Split

Label: Isolationist Productions

Black Howling has recently become an obsession of mine, to the point where I’ve been easily swayed to blow upwards of $25 on a cassette just because it’s a Black Howling release of some sort, and this split is one of those examples although I’m quite pleased with Hypothermia’s contribution to the second side of this tape. I first heard BH with their This Rain is the Weeping of Forefathers, a 35-minute single song released on Legion Blotan, which is a 100% treble based, clunking, chaotic, hypnotic, addicting experience that somehow freezes ones soul without paralyzing them form the thrilling sensation of transcendence. It’s truly amazing how something so completely stripped down and technically mediocre at best can have such a prolific impact on a listener but Black Howling does for me, not unlike early Urfaust and most White Medal stuff. I guess, if I had to really chalk up Black Howling to a few simple strengths they’d be the riffs and guitar licks that seem to add something distinct to their sound, and the fluid, organic song structures.

The riffs here buzz and are loaded with amplifier feedback, which give them a thicker sound than mere distortion would, but the feedback is more of a wooshing fuzz phenomena then piercing shrieking. It completely compensate for the lack of all bass or lower end tones whatsoever, giving the sound a skeletal feel that’s never too muddy and is ironically warm like an analog recording should be although the environment is anything but comforting. The guitars often times throw in some really good leads and rhythm bursts that create actual hooks and build up some great climaxes and phrases that are infectious and memorable, they actually resemble great heavy metal elements that have all of the low end and some mid-range filtered out. They also use some great arpeggio picking during a climax build that has an almost reverb texture and some unique tones that come from whatever they do to get that flat treble sound that grinds and shreds as much as it invokes a dense atmosphere of channeling spirits and leaving ones body.

The looseness of the songs in conjunction with the guitar element and the clamoring percussion somewhat reminds me of other unique sonic powerhouses lurking on the outskirts of the black metal realm much like two of my current desert island bands, White Medal, and One Master. There’s a definite parallel between the three mentioned in terms of loose, fluid songs, tied together with random, but perfectly placed pauses and climaxes that really keep things natural and real as there’s a spirit/vibe that is present with it that makes it truly organic. With Black Howling, and even some White Medal, the magic is in the way songs clunk along awkwardly with the drums and the vocals are that definitive shrieking howl that fails miserably as vocals in any style other than black metal, but yet with the riffs and all of these combined the atmospheres created are second to none.  The breaks in mood that give the songs room to breath between explosive highs, and the climactic build-ups that yield a thrilling instability that’s as emotionally based as it is in either song structure and/or sound.

I’ve left myself almost no room for Hyopthermia now, but that’s not for any lack of credibility on their part. I had not heard Hypothermia until this split, but the atmospheric depressive black metal (I hate the DSBM stigma) they deliver here is pretty noteworthy. In fact they almost present themselves as a loose rhythm, at times even drifting into groovy loungy psychedelic realms, such as they do on “Aprilimprovisation I”. And albeit moody black metal with major post black metal/shoegaze might be the best way to attempt to summarize what they bring to this split, I can sense some of the gloom and depressive in the two songs on here.

Unlike BH Hypothermia uses a fair amount low-end tone present that not only works in the bands favor to create songs that have a nice distorted buzz rounding out the blaring chords to give the sound something full and fat. I almost imagine classic tube amplifiers glowing and rattling as they churn out a drizzly melodic lusciousness of black psychedelia. In fact the band shocked me into pure disbelief when the “Aprilimprovisation I” really began to explode into Technicolor sound that makes me think more of White Hills and Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound with deranged emotionally over exaggerated black metal vocals.  Then once I thought I’d gotten into the swing of their sound they make a sudden detour into a stable psychedelic, almost blissful, shoegaze/post metal jam with “Aprilimprovisation II”.

Funny, given the DSBM label I’d expect more Benighted in Sodom to come to mind then modern psych rock bands, but it’s seriously fucking badass that they not only do it BUT they do it brilliantly. I’ll surely be checking their other stuff out asap, but it might not measure up to the druggy grooves they lay down on this excursion.

Below is the entire split, so enjoy: (the first two songs are BH although the transition between the two bands will be obvious)

http://youtu.be/AifLcMXBBm0

So with that last doozie I’m signing off. The next excursion will feature some new stuff from WOHRT like the recent Black Death tape and Gnosis of the Witch, a few more recent Prison Tatt stuff, and gobs of other shit I’ve picked up and been stunned by digging around on Discogs, stuff folks have turned me on to, and a few demos and EPs.