Album Review

Skullflower – Draconis (Cold Spring, 2014)

skullflower - draconis album cover
SkullflowerSunset Dreams (Cold Spring)

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The masters of chaotic drone are back with their first solo full length since 2011’s Fucked On A Pile Of Corpses, and this time it’s a double CD overstuffed with a total fucking maelstrom of gloriously harsh drone, and some might balk at the drone label here but make no mistake, this has all the makings of the most perfect fucking drone, overwhelmingly loud with a thousand layers going at once, each seeming like they’re totally independent from each other, doing their own thing, but they work in a discordant unison and form a cohesive slab of destruction, at a distance, this sounds like an impenetrable waterfall of noise, but the closer you get, the clearer it becomes, patterns emerge and harmonies rise from the static, this is an unequaled transcendent experience, and I know I’ve been throwing around “transcendent” a lot lately, but it’s always been appropriate, and here even more so, Draconis takes drone to new heights, this is a spiritual rite, the majestic mess of sounds conjured are not only the conduit to a greater truth, but themselves are an element of the Holiness that Skullflower embrace, they’ve created an altar of tumultuous bliss and call you forth to take part in the worship, you can’t fucking deny this.

Album Review

Trepaneringsritualen – Perfection & Permanence (Cold Spring, 2014)

trepaneringsritualen - perfection and permanence album cover
TrepaneringsritualenHe Who Is My Mirror (Cold Spring)

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This dude is one of my favorite dudes, his work as Dead Letters Spell Out Dead Words was incredible and Deathward To The Womb from 2012 is one of the most uniquely horrific records ever, and he’s ever evolving into newer and more painful sounds, finding a groove in evil rhythms and going full on death industrial on Perfection & Permanence, a wholly unique decrepit ritual rooted deep in Christian mythology, growled distorted vocals that couldn’t possibly be coming from a human, gurgling “Father, why have you forsaken me?” with a mouthful of puss, the monstrous atomic bomb beats and throbbing synth balanced perfectly with walls of caustic static and ethereal gongs, the blackest most wretched ambient that will make your blood curdle, bleak as fuck sounds from beyond the post-apocalypse, where the remaining humans have taken up arms against angels, this is beautifully disgusting and absolutely fucking enthralling, the rotting remains of a human corpse that you can’t turn away from. Limited vinyl from the UK, currently available stateside at Forced Exposure. This is not something you want to miss out on.

Album Review

Teeth Engraved With The Names Of The Dead – Starving The Fires (Pt. 1) (Malignant, 2014)

teeth engraved with the names of the dead - starving the fires part 1 album cover
Teeth Engraved With The Names Of The DeadLacerate (Malignant)

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Total fucking depravity. These two dudes, who only have one other physical release to their name, the Kosmiche Deathworship tape on Sol Y Nieve (the first five copies came with deer teeth), put out this 70 minute long death drone monstrosity that delves deep into necro nihilism, full of slow churning bestial static, demonic hypnothrum vaporizing your bones, garbled samples spitting filth at humanity, this travels to some very dark places, a hideous doomed ambient that screams of abandoned hope, at times boiling up to a full on black industrial noise, reaching monolithic fucking heights of caustic horror that knock you on your ass and eat you alive, this is pure fucking evil and every painful, prolonged moment is worthwhile, and something tells me these guys are just getting started. Make sure to snag Cold Ashes, the free companion EP which clocks in around 35 minutes.

Album Review

Grasshopper – Dark Sabbath: Symbol Of Evil (Hausu Mountain, 2014)

grasshopper - dark sabbath symbol of evil album cover
GrasshopperInverted Cross Of Satanic Justice (Hausu Mountain)

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New York synth drone trumpet noise duo Grasshopper goes to new heights with Dark Sabbath and it’s a fuckin trip, a noise record wearing a doom cloak, worshiping the dark arts, and turning souls to stone, this is a totally twisted mess of demonic drone that buzzes & hums from the depths of the void, freakish spouts of squelching electronics, and constant pulsing from the unknown dimensions of horror, menacing as fuck and easily capable of driving you mad if you pay close enough attention, there’s a black beast hidden behind all the stretched out static and nauseating cosmic skree, ready to take you to the next level and flip you inside out, an unholy transcendence that is pushed upon you, full of fear, but infinitely grateful of the experience, these dudes have truly outdone themselves, and lucky for us Hausu Mountain gives them the vinyl treatment, which you can (and should) snag next week.

Album Review

Dreamcrusher – Suicide Deluxe (Hausu Mountain, 2014)

dreamcrusher - suicide deluxe album cover
DreamcrusherNovokuznetsk (Hausu Mountain)

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I’d seen Dreamcrusher’s name tossed around here and there and thought “Oh, cool name” but never made it a priority to seek out his tunes. FUCK. You guys, this is unreal. Don’t do what I did. Listen to this now. “Inspired by a vast series of traumatic events,” Suicide Deluxe goes on a fucking technoise rampage, massive beat driven jams that could be jungle or house or glitch or whatever but you’d never know because everything is buried under a hundred layers of caustic grit, totally bombastic and in the red, like someone accidentally got their number one dance mix stuck in a feedback loop and it just grew to inhumane proportions and now we’re being rushed to the ER after coming from the filthiest most crushing blown out party, ear piercing squelches & brain crunching bass that make Pete Swanson sound like Paul Oakenfold, this is complete and utter fucking madness, visceral and nightmarish and just the fucking best, and the volume on this is cranked to infinity, so please please please turn your speakers way the fuck down before you hurt yourself. $7 for the tape if you’re into that kinda thing, or pay what you want over on Bandcamp, so NO EXCUSES.

Album Review

Isolator – Culture And Principal Of Anti-Human Exaltation (Black Plagve, 2014)

isolator - Culture and Principal of Anti-Human Exaltation album cover
IsolatorCast In Blood (Black Plagve)

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The most recent release on Black Plagve (a sub-label of Malignant) looks like it might be Isolator’s true debut, but both of the two dudes involved (Justin Stubbs and The Nothing) have years of experience making extreme sounds, and holy fuck does it show, this is a magnificent terror of hellish drone fueled by pure hatred & misanthropy (in case you couldn’t tell by the title), walls of dense static undulating with decay, unpenetrable slabs of death industrial chaos with the bombastic percussion traded for endless scraping feedback and haunted harmonics, vocals that range from unholy priests, to tortured howls, to grotesque chants, these are the sounds you’d hear months after a Hellmouth broke open and the horror died down to a constant dull roar, a 22nd century warzone close enough to perpetually fear for your life but far enough away so the shrieks of the dying are merely muffled background noise, but spend enough time with this and you’ll unearth some bittersweet angelic tones, a soft sad beauty lurking beneath the caustic devastation, this is absolutely fucking massive and nightmarish but undeniably a drone record, bleak as fuck and way more harsh than most of the other drone I review, but drone nonetheless, and it’s fucking fantastic.

Album Review

Howard Stelzer – Brayton Point (Dokuro, 2014)

howard stelzer - brayton point album cover
Howard StelzerUntitled (excerpt) (Dokuro)

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I remember first getting into weird music and having Howard Stelzer be one of my launchpads. All I knew was that he made the most awesome sounds essentially from messing around with tapes, and of his innumerable collaborations, the ones with Giuseppe Ielasi on Night Life and Jazzkammer on Tomorrow No One Will Be Safe were on constant repeat for a while. Then I went to a show he put on with Astronaut (early OPN group), Geoff Mullen, Fire In The Head, Skeletons Out (which unbeknownst to me at the time was a collab between Stelzer and Jay Sullivan), and Red Horse, and while talking to Howard at the merch table afterward, I realized that 1: the dude I was talking to was in fact the one & same Howard Stelzer who collaborated with anyone worth a damn, 2: this guy ran a super boss label Intransitive, and 3: he was from Boston! I was a kinda floored. He had his brand new solo CD Bond Inlets for sale, so I snatched that up and have been enamored ever since. According to Stelzer, Brayton Point is his first solo full length since 2008’s Bond Inlets (although Discogs begs to differ), but yeah, I’m pretty fucking psyched about this one, and yeah, it’s as good as I hoped it would be.

Brayton Point is comprised of sounds taken from the Brayton Point Generating Station in Somerset, Massachusetts, and it’s one big horror show of industrial chaos swirled together in a hulking drone storm, a dense and twisted hellmouth with fleeing screaming demons, the sort of music your parents thought you’d hear if you played a melted Black Sabbath record backwards, except way fucking cooler, with more high end skree, whirlwind static, and core shattering garble, but with plenty of moments of reprieve, a subtle mechanical hum with ancient technology creaking in the distance, the texture of tape making its way to the playing field, this is absolutely & ridiculously awesome, the whole 50 minute piece a welcome beast of Stelzer’s patented tape fuckery, so glad this dude is back in the game, and he’s back with a motherfuckin winner, really can’t wait to see what else he’s got on deck.

Album Review

Peter J. Woods – Impure Gold, Pt. I (FTAM / Hewhocorrupts Inc, 2014)

peter j woods - impure gold pt i album cover
Peter J. WoodsImpure Gold (FTAM / Hewhocorrupts Inc)

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Milwaukee DIY champ Peter J. Woods, self described maker of “Theatrical Harsh Noise,” part of Phoned Nil Trio, xALLxFORxTHISx, and FTAM head, drops his vinyl debut (7″s be damned) and the world is now a better place, this is high caliber shit, throwing down the dynamics gauntlet on here, going for long stretches of absolute silence (or so far out of my fucked up hearing range that it might as well be) to harsh walls of caustic blown out static and high end insect skree, this has so much range that if you’re not careful you’ll fry your speakers & eardrums from cranking it up during the quite parts because it’s fuckin tricky like that, rusty industrial clank & rattle alongside nonsensical vocal samples processed to sound like a glitching melted Speak & Spell, obliterated screaming and ghostly dungeon whispers over an acid bath wash, tinnitus buzzing drone vaguely reminiscent of Charlemagne Palestine or Birchville Cat Motel, but always, relentlessly, an unpredictable treachery, this isn’t noise for noise sake, nor for shock value, nor for machismo, it’s elaborate, beguiling, & filthy as fuck, and it’s fucking excellent.

Album Review

Telecult Powers – Black Meditations (Experimedia, 2014)

telecult powers - black meditations album cover
Telecult PowersNever Ending Empires (Experimedia)

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Crazy duo of Witchbeam & Mr. Matthews are back at it with a stellar freakshow on Experimedia that features guests like Rachel & Grant Evans (Motion Sickness of Time Travel & Nova Scotian Arms) and Lala Ryan (Excepter), so already this record is at peak awesomeness. Dark rhythmic weirdness banged out in an enchanted lodge that sounds just like what you’d hope a record called Black Meditations would sound like, unnerving noise waving in & out of focus, bleary drone making you woozy and filling every inch of the room, suffocating and hypnotic, conjuring an inter-dimensional knowledge of the Beyond, these guys capture the ritualistic séance of the 21st century with a creeped out occult vibe that permeates every moment, from the stuttering static and panning future electronics to the bizarre samples and mystical imagery, this record is way off the deep end, and I gotta say I’m both surprised and impressed Experimedia released this. Not their usual type of jam, but clearly Black Meditations transcends that bullshit, this will be right at home in any weirdo’s collection.

Album Review

Lawrence English – Wilderness Of Mirrors (Room40, 2014)

lawrence english - wilderness of mirrors album cover
Lawrence EnglishThe Liquid Casket (Room40)

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Lawrence English is one of the artists that continuously/impossibly tops himself with each new release and Wilderness Of Mirrors is just fucking jaw dropping. Way more dynamic and aggressive that his recent efforts, this is the drone that smothers all competitors, it’s dark and audacious, intense sounds coming from midnight forest jaunts, swirling static that cuts deep alongside delicate chimes and melodious humming, balancing perfectly the reassuring soft tenderness & sky high soaring bliss with nightmarish gravitas & densely melancholic cacophony, English unleashes a visceral chaos peppered with the sweetest fucking drone, delicate minimalism, and moments of sheer triumph, all mixed together this is full blown euphoria that is unrivaled, dude is at the top of his game on this record and his game can’t be fucked with. This is all time Top Ten stuff. Immerse yourself.

Album Review

Ben Vida – Slipping Control (Shelter Press, 2014)

ben vida - slipping control album cover
Ben VidaPart 8 (Shelter Press)

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Shelter Press doin a fuckin number on 2014, this new Ben Vida record just adding to the awesomeness, and while anything by Mr. Vida should be on your radar regardless, Slipping Control gets extra points for including Tyondai Braxton and Sara Magenheimer on vocals. What started out as the book Tztztztzt Î Í Í…, which was “composed to act as a score, a sound piece and as raw data for electronic control source” turned into this record of brainwarping levels of insanity, full blown electronic scatter glitch that ping pongs in your skull like misfiring neural synapses, laser sharp and reverbed wire snap, and then Ty & Sara come in with their wordless stuttering, either solo or with electronic accompaniment, and it’s just fucking brilliant, with fleeting rhythms that pull you in for sweet moments of focused repetition before being twisted, layered, and chopped into its alien bio-mechanics, these are sounds that come from an intentional randomness that transforms the way you hear the world around you, the hums and scratches in your life being re-imagined and given new life. This is, unsurprisingly, supremely excellent work from Vida. Wholly worth your time.

Album Review

Wreck & Reference (Flenser, 2014)

wreck & reference - want album cover
Wreck & ReferenceApollo Beneath The Whip (Flenser)

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No one else is doing this right now. Fuck, no one else has ever done this. Wreck & Reference are forging new ground here and have been since their insane Black Cassette debut. They’re a duo of limitless despair treading among noise, black metal, punk, dark ambient, industrial, targeted cacophony, everything bizarre & grim, that sounds brilliantly original and crushes souls every minute along the way, this is heavy as fuck and horrifically sparse, blowing through a drum kit and electronics with heavy handed dexterity, both dudes taking turns at the mic with bloody screeching & beastly roaring vocals, singing of staring deep into the void of misery and knowing nothing is on the other side, this heaves and creeps like an endless nausea rising from your core and black blood coursing through your veins, all hell has broken loose and we’re left to rot in the bleak absurdity, if Want was any more devoid of hope it would likely be banned in several countries. You’d be doing yourself a great disservice by ignoring this band.

P.S. These guys are currently on tour with Deafheaven and Pallbearer and they fuckin rip it up on stage. Even if you don’t care about DH or PB, just go for these dudes and you won’t be disappointed.

Album Review

Brinstaar – Testarossa (Kotä, 2013)

brinstaar - testarossa album cover
BrinstaarLakshmi (Kotä)

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Some killer weirdness coming out of Russia with this new Brinstaar record, abstracted wandering that births intimate ritualistic chimes & clatter, static glitch finding new ways to hypnotize, mega drones, pulsing bliss, plinky rhythms, and solar transcendence, adding some hidden & mysterious field recordings alongside the processed guitar and synth, this is fantastic work that Brinstaar says comes from looking for that “elusive moment of infinite bliss that keeps him alive and conscious.” Not sure what his moment is but it’s probably pretty similar to mine because this record fuckin rules. And it comes in the most future-tastic holographic jacket that has to be held in your hands to be fully appreciated. New to me label Kotä has instantly won me over with this one.

Album Review

Dhow – Amara (Inam, 2014)

dhow - amara album cover
DhowNhi (Inam)

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The supremely talented and ridiculously prolific Ryan Huber, who works under guises like Sujo, Olekranon, and others, as well as running the Inam label, has put out yet another insane record, this time as Dhow (the second release under this name), and holy fuck he knocks it out of the park with this one, a little more shoegazey than his other monikers but Amara still goes to 11, getting loud & fuzzy, catchy riffs and big swells of feedback that sound like the world is ending, total apocalyptic vibes on here, crushing Angelic Process-esque sounds alongside heavenly blissed out drone clouds à la your favorite euphoric masters, soft, gauzy, and serene as fuck, like suffocating in a thick fog on top of a mountain, a mask of massive static to take you to the other side, the most explosive & bombastic fucking drone record I’ve heard that seriously just makes me wanna die. This dude knows no bounds. And if you don’t slack on this, you can get the super limited (to 40) CD-R on the cheap ($8!!) and it includes and even MORE limited (to 23!) sexy 7″ lathe with mono variations of the first two tracks on the CD. The artwork up there is for the digital version, which is slightly different than the CD-R & lathe.

Album Review

Cleared – Drown (Immune, 2014)

cleared - drown album cover
Cleared – Remote Ocean Prayer (Immune)

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Cleared is drummer Steven Hess (Locrian, Pan-American, etc) and multi-media artist Michael Vallera (aka COIN) and with only a few killer releases under their belt, Drown is looking to be their breakout record. So while this is essentially a guitar/drum duo, these dudes take that trope to a whole new level, making an almost-but-not-quite-metal noise/drone record that’s bookended with two amazing tracks that go way out into dream pop & shoegaze territory, something that walks the line between dark & heavy and light & drifty, with tons of feedback drone, static skitter, dark ambient shadows, cosmic expansion, shimmery guitars, and hypnotic percussion, it’s really just the fucking best, an absolutely stellar weird droney poppy record that’s hitting all the right spots for me right now, I honestly can’t get enough of this. Brought to you by the strangely underrated Immune, a seven year old slow burning label that’s doing everything right.