Mutilation Rites – Devoid
Honestly, it just came in the mail as a freebie with my Bastard Sapling package and I haven’t listened to it; however, if it’s anything like Empyrean, I’m sure it will be awesome. Nonetheless, I was quite pumped to find this in my Forcefield package along with patches, stickers, and a beer cozy. I guess I’ll keep my water frigid with that.
xLooking Forwardx – Down With the Ship
If you, like me, found The Path We Tread to be a pretty big letdown in the wake of the explosive What This Means to Me, definitely check out Down With the Ship. The old energy is back on this 7″. While it still doesn’t match What This Means to Me, it’s clear that these guys rediscovered whatever it was they lost sight of a few years back and they are once again in the business of writing the type of infectious hardcore that made me love them in the first place. I know that for some reason “true” hardcore dudes don’t like these guys, but Down With the Ship deserves a listen. I bet you won’t regret it.
Sacred Revelation – Revelations of the End
Hey, let’s spend a long time debating whether or not Christians should play black metal. Or if we should call it unblack metal. Or if it’s true. Or blah blah blah. Sacred Revelation is another project from Polish metal mastermind Fire (Jarek Pozarycki) of Elgibbor, Firethrone, Frost Like Ashes, Amarth Sargon, No Return to My Vomit, and more. Impressive pedigree, but I don’t like all of this dude’s other bands. Sacred Revelation, however, is a much different project. Grimy vocals, grimier riffs. Revelations of the End is only four songs long, but those songs span some of the best elements of this sort of black metal — crust, speed, magma, oppressive heaviness. The songs are engaging, constructed expertly, and produced with a great balance of lo-fi and plenty of rumble. Don’t waste time trying to figure out if Christians can or should make black metal. Just check this out.
Blood of the Martyrs – Once More, With Feeling
Yeah, I wrote this band off before seeing them live. Another ________core band. Big deal. Then they crushed my face live. Honestly, I’m not even talking about the fancy synchronized moshing or guitar tosses; rather, I’m talking about simply being loud, tight, and extremely passionate. These guys were having a blast and I couldn’t help but enjoy myself as well. I picked up the cassette of this recording after the show because it was $1 cheaper, it has one extra song, it is hand-numbered (8/25) and gives me format cred (“Oh, I have it on tape. Oooooh.”). Glad I made this decision. Massive guitar tones quake through endless mosh riffs and breakdowns with strange keyboard atmospheres. I guess this is what kids love these days. Well, maybe I’m a kid because I have played it several times since Thursday night. With feeling indeed!
Love and Death – Chemicals
Marriage, fatherhood, and being over 30 mean I don’t need to worry about upholding some true metal image. Thank God. That’s a waste of energy. These songs by Former Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch’s new band, Love and Death, are 1 million tons of fun. Not falling far from the tree, the sound is extremely like Korn, but let’s be honest: I still have and listen to my copy of that first Korn record. I was really disappointed by Head’s solo record (Save Me From Myself) that he released after accepting Jesus, but Love and Death are far beyond solo Head. These songs are heavy as anvils and catchy like the flu (similes suffer after midnight). A mere peek at the fun awaiting us when the band release their full-length in January, Chemicals is two originals, two remixes of those originals (which I am surprised to enjoy as much as I do), and a really fun cover/restructuring of Devo’s “Whip It”. Head is an extremely capable frontman, handling both guitar/vocal and vocal-only duties with intensity and has some extremely capable musicians along for the ride — including a 17-year-old guitarist who is every bit as talented as Head and is clearly having the time of his life. The band’s set at Heaven’s Pit (Agape Church) in Stephens City on Thursday only reinforced this. I was at the very front of the stage, close enough that sweat from Head’s hair had to have sprayed on me. I have been blasting this for a few weeks now, but I was glad to get a physical copy. Is it January yet?
Bastard Sapling – Dragged From Our Restless Trance
May I name-drop for a second? Cool. Mike Paparo, the singer here in Bastard Sapling, did some vocals with my death metal, Dystopia Rising, band back in Harrisonburg days. This guy has been in countless bands and even the ones I don’t like are still pretty great. A charmed metal life, indeed. When I learned that Bastard Sapling had a new record, I made haste to get myself a copy; fortunately for me, the fine folks at Forecefield records made me an offer I wouldn’t refuse: beautiful white marble vinyl and a cassette. I geeked out a little.
Anyway, Dragged From Our Restless Trance is a real mental journey guided by twisted black metal. The songs are huge, weighty, extensive sonic labyrinths. All of the requisite epic black metal ingredients are here: blast beats, immersive atmosphere, dark riffs, thickly layered guitar, frightening vocals that will give children bad dreams. What’s missing? Pretense or any hint that Bastard Sapling are proceeding from anything but a deep love for metal and a passion to create the best listening experience possible. I usually come back to Horn of Valere as a standard for this type of black metal since I loved them and their live show stunned me; Bastard Sapling are just as good at this craft.
Or just forget all that I’ve written and note what Forcefield Records has to say: “Bleak, atmospheric black metal in the cold vein of Ulver, Drudkh, Bathory, and Immortal, filtered through Richmond crust.”