Tidbits: the various, the sundries, the miscellaneous, the whatevers.

dev_randomEvery decade or so, at least for me, I hit a “dry spell” as a music listener and/or reviewer. No one album sounds that great, rocks my world, whatever– hence the four-month absence of Sawtoothwave from the “new article” section of Awesome Websites Monthly.

I finally figured that, since there were no full albums worth reviewing, on this, my birthday in the early/mid/late 40s, I should hip you to what I have actually been listening to whilst I get up, or work out, or wash dishes, or fall asleep, or whatever. Sound good?

And maybe, just maybe, these tracks are extra good because they pierced my shell of indifference, my equivocal soul, my hemming-and-hawing eardrums….

So, in no order:

Carcass’ “Thrasher’s Abbatoir,” and “316L Grade Surgical Steel,” from Surgical Steel: blistering thrash-cum-archetypal death metal, ferocious as fuck, played by experts.

Hail of Bullets’ “Pour La Mérite,” and “Dak” from III The Rommel Chronicles: a lumbering granite Godzilla, destroying the earth and teaching you about World War II German commanders all the while.

Finnish thrash-ish band Stone’s “Get Stoned,” from Stone: catchy power metal/ thrash that went on to influence bands like Children of Bodom. Great stuff.

Skeletonwitch’s “Burned From Bone,” from Serpents Unleashed: typical Skeletonwitch, in that it’s thrash/black/power metal’s heavy yet disco-ish fury in less than three minutes.

Pelican’s “The Tundra,” from Forever Becoming: if the whole album were like this, it would be as awesome as their greatest album….

Sting’s (I love Sting and every ounce of his pretentiousness, you shut your damn face) “What have we got?” from The Last Ship: add some distorted guitars to this and it would be Týr’s greatest song EVAR….

Speaking of which, Týr’s “Hold the heathen hammer high,” and “Trondur I gotu,” from By the Light of the Northern Star: pagan metal that is an inspiring as a pre-battle pep-talk from a renegade Norse warlord. Fair warning: play either one and you’ll hum it for weeks; it will be more of an earworm that anything Kahn could have devised.

Shining’s “Healter Skelter,” from Blackjazz, and “I Won’t Forget,” from One One One: tenor sax as jazz that really loves metal, much like….

Peter Brötzmann Octet’s “Responsible/ for Jan Van de Ven” from The Complete Machine Gun Sessions: jazz, as metal as it gets.

Fontanelle’s “Traumaturge,” from Vitamin F: if Miles Davis, specifically the Miles Davis from Bitches’ Brew, wanted to make some metal– and rub some funk on it.

Tribulation: anything from The Formulas of Death, but you’ll only need one tune.

Eric Church’s “Smoke a little smoke,” from Caught in the act: Live— this country outlaw ends his tune about wine and weed with the main riff from Sab’s “Sweet Leaf” (love the audience’s collective What the fuck?)– what more do you need to know?

Pharoah Sanders’ “The Creator Has a Master Plan”: a 32-minute opus of revolving licks and paeons to marijuana and altered states in general.

Finally, we have Sloath’s newest work (though it was recorded at the same time as their first album, one of my favorites of all time): “The Deep Rift IV.” Just listen.

I’ve been me and this is my time. Thank you very much, I’ve been great.

Micro: Vulgaari

VulgarriHere’s the first line and all. There doesn’t seem to be anything at all unique about these guys, but yet… man, they just kill it.

Don’t know anything about them. Don’t care to. Just stumbled upon them. But man– this is some rocking sludge/doom/ funeral doom metal.

Buy: Bandcamp / Amazon

Classics That Still Endure: Albums of the Year for 2008 and 2009 (including Cynic, Pelican, Behemoth & Shrinebuilder)

[I never posted about my favorite albums of 2008 and 2009; below are my favs from those years.]

Heart vs Spine, cover2008– The Devil and the Sea’s Heart vs Spine (which was discussed previously here) and Cynic’s Traced in Air were easily my favorites (and to which I still listen)….

One of the best covers ever.

One of the best covers ever.

2009– Shrinebuilder’s Shrinebuilder, Pelican’s What We All Come to Need, and Behemoth’s Evangelion were easily the top albums. Shrinebuilder is the perfect genetic blend of stoner/ ambient bands like Neurosis, Om, the Melvins and everything Scott Weinrich has ever done. It’s graceful and great and (even though it was apparently recorded really quickly) truly well-composed. One of my top 5 records of the last few years.

Cynic, Traced in Air coverCynic’s Paul Masvidal (he, late of Death fame), also writes about the intercession of Buddhist ideas with Eric Dolphy’s thoughts on the nature of sound and music (big Sawtoothwave points there)– so, to me, he’s interesting even before I’ve heard Traced in Air. And I didn’t particularly like Focus, their 15-years-before follow-up, either; didn’t hate it, didn’t love it– it just really didn’t register with me.

But when you consider Masvidal’s other band, Æon Spoke, the acoustic touches prevalent as they are, make much more sense and truly show how metal and folk/acoustic might coincide successfully.

Evangelion, cover (hi res)And lastly there’s Behemoth’s Evangelion.

There is not one bad song, one unmemorable tune, on this. Nergal and co. tuned their guitars up (from B to Db) on this nearly-perfect album of blackened death metal, and apparently that was the right move: Evangelion is the perfect blend of death, black and sheerly-ferocious metal: it is ridiculously intense, insanely memorable, and mind-bogglingly literate (witness the lyrics and the insert regarding the lyrics). I can’t say enough good things about this record, which is easily my favorite of the last 4 years. Opener “Daimonos,” with its insanely-intense chorus of “ALL! HAIL! Slain… and risen God! ALL! HAIL! DIONYSUS!!” is to me the absolute incarnation of heavy metal.

Anyway, if you’re Christian (perhaps ironically, in light of the aggressively Atheistic/ Satanic band I just recommended), merry Christmas!

Hooded Menace/ Serpentine Path

As my BlogBrotherFromAnotherMother Racer said: when reality conforms to your expectations, “Sometimes Life just works.”

I’m not used to that– to life just… working. I’m used to life just working against me. Or seemingly to, at any rate. I’m a bit freaked out when it actually works in my favor.

I’m… suspicious.

And yet, here– it seemingly has.

[Sidenote: I just bought a new computer, after six years… and via these downloads from Racer, it’s very weird to me to have only 16 tracks on iTunes (normally it’s over 10K)… I took this as Somehow Important, Somehow Monumental….]

Herein follows two fucking awesome releases from Relapse records– Hooded Menace’s “Effigies of Evil,” and Serpentine Path’s (featuring members of Unearthly Trance, Ramesses and Electric Wizard) self-titled debut.

Both are doom metal. Both are doom metal so obsessed with unholy/infernal vocals that they border on death metal, but are also too obsessed with the riff to truly be death– the sludge, the stoner riffage, the tempo, the sheer DOOM is too obvious to be anything other than than death metal-influenced doom/sludge/ stoner metal….

First, Serpentine Path’s debut:

We open with “Arrows,” with its approximation of the intro to Maiden’s “Number of the Beast,” but this not as cool: too wordy, too long, too high in pitch, not nearly as evil/ metal…. The overall vibe here is of Ramesses meets Unearthly Trance (perhaps not surprisingly– I love it when life is actually logical)… next there’s “Crotalus Horridus Horridus” (apparently the Latin genus and species name fo the timber rattlesnake)… which makes me think: how awesome would it be if every song from Serpentine Path’s record was named somehow for a snake…? It would be the doom metal equivalent of Marvel comics’ Serpent Society!

Of course, then Captain America would show up and kick its ass, but still…! Cool, right…?

Both these bands, particularly SP, are what I’ll call… I dunno… “Lovers of the Detuned Octave.”

Even more so than a doom act like Bongripper, these songs are written around the essentially-ceremonial concept of Detuning a Guitar and then Playing the Lowest Note There, and then: The Next Octave Up on the Scale… and all this, whilst growling over this chord “selection.”

And it’s worth stating explicitly: I’m not hating– this is rather awesome.

“Bats Amongst Heathens,” and its opener, is the best riff on here, but the beginning of “Obsoletion,” with its spirally, “Am I Evil?”-ish trudging is also Rather Quite Awesome, as is the entire tune. “Aphelion” bangs out of the gate with a nice forebeat-bashing riff… “Compendium of Suffering” comes pretty close to Candlemass (were they a death metal band)… and closer “Only a Monolith Remains,” with its minor-third harmonies, chillingly ends the record.


Hooded Menace and their Effigies of Evil are just as detuned as Serpentine Path (in B standard, it seems), and it lets you know this immediately on “Vortex Macabre,” once the infernal winds of the intro pass away… this is a Hallowe’en record, and it’s no less metal and/or great for this… it almost sounds like something Serpentine Path might record as a covers album… each song somehow seems familiar, whilst also being seemingly new, as well as being detuned badassed-ness….

Hooded Menace are much like Serpentine Path in terms of execution and intent (if I may be so bold as to assume I can accurately posit and understand their intent), if only very slightly more (NC-17-ly) cartoonish: larger-than-life, more obviously-yet-obliquely Robert Crumb-ishly evil, and at the same time metal: they’re not mocking metal at all– they’re trying to sweet-talk it and ass-fuck it in the same night….

Bottom line: Serpentine Path and Effigies of Evil will both make my year-end top 10 list. Assess this statement accordingly.

Serpentine Path on

Hooded Menace on

Goatwhore, Blood for the Master

Having previously written about Goatwhore here,

their previous album, Carving Out the Eyes of God here,

and their live show here

what follows, gentle reader, is my experience of their newest LP, Blood for the Master, wherein it may be safely assumed that your narrator is most thoroughly on said New Orleans-based  black/death/thrash ‘n’ roll band’s proverbial dick.

Short version: Goatwhore are a blackened, thrash ‘n’ roll Mötorhead. Blood for the Master solidifies this assessment.

Take that as you will.

(And call me over-analytical, but it amuses me that a band from the bottom of the Mississippi Delta, New Orleans, my home, can sound so much like an evolution of a band from the chilly Midlands of England, Birmingham.)

Track one, “Collapse in Eternal Worth,” (which continues the Goatwhore tradition of seemingly/probably blasphemous yet-incredibly-vague song titles) opens with blast beats and segues to D-beats, but at around 2 minutes hits a memorable, maudlin chorus (it’s even  hummable)… like something from a lost Celtic Frost demo….

Track two, “When Steel and Bone Meet,” (which, along with the above album opener, was pre-released) is a 3-minute D-beat, raspy-vocaled Satanic Discharge-fest.

Track four, “In Deathless Tradition,” opens with that roar-of-roars (Oh Ben Falgoust, you star, you)– and reiterates the necessary place of a great vocalist –including the line, “Forgiveness is the failure of your faith,” again a wildly-vague yet sinister pronouncement in that rasp-of-rasps….

“Judgement of the Bleeding Crown,” next, again with its opening blast beats, then Mötorhead-ish double-bass and D-beats, manages to sound like a heavier, early-career Ministry (think The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste)… track six, “Embodiment of This Bitter Chaos,” opens with an Atheist-like acoustic intro, complete with melodic guitar solo, only to segue to a lurching, forebeat-ish riff at around 1:00…

Track seven, “Beyond the Spell of Discontent,” actually sounds like, in its chorus, memorable black metal, or the background of a Michael Mann film (analyze that commonality at your leisure)…

Song eight, “Death to the Architects of Heaven,” adds a NWOBHM-ish flair to their Lemmy-and-co. sound before taking off into blast beats and minor verse riffs. It sound like something Metallica would’ve covered on Garage, Inc. or the $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-visited.

“An End to Nothing” is a full-on rager, starting at double-bass out the ass D-beat velocity and never letting up, and track 10, i.e. closer “My Name Is Frightful Among the Believers,” continues this blast-the-shit-out-of-the-ending-of-the-album tradition, alternating from blast beat to D-beats and back again

The fact is –perhaps memorably, and this, ironically– these tracks are not at all memorable for the most part.

They’re nearly all interesting (from a metal/musician standpoint), but pretty much none of them will linger in your ears (i.e., brain)– they’re so remarkably non-memorable that I wonder if this wasn’t intentional.

–But again, I love to overanalyze stuff–

Is is good? Yes, very much so–

the sheer ferocity of Blood For the Master brings to mind the best Behemoth– as played by Mötorhead.

Tell me that doesn’t sound like fun.

Feeling disillusioned? By nearly anything? From organized religion, to society in general?

Put this on.

The sheer rageful rejection of All will fill your soul (ironic thing to say, isn’t it, of something so obviously Satanic)….

You may not remember the riffs, but you’ll remember the visceral feeling you got from the record, played loud and drowning out your problems.

Momento Mori, Withered

I am really enjoying this one, of late– it haunts me. Like ghosts with a vengeance, or good metal.

Withered, Atlanta’s black/death/arty/sludge punk trio are best (ostensibly) described as blackened funeral sludge….

My faves are “Within Your Grief,” (a black metally, apocalyptic and/or symphonic end of all time, sad-yet-angry riff that goes on for some time but still seems sad when it’s done) and “Like Locusts” (with its Candlemass-as-death-metally funeral doom metal band riff) thus far, but who knows what next hour will bring? The more I listen, the more there is to this bad boy. It’s nuanced and fairly complex, and in my opinion is more of a doom metal than a black metal record, but it’s purely subjective, yanno?


Trap Them, Seizures in Barren Praise

Not really sure what the eff the title means. But man… I dig that cover: a monochrome yet intricate and detailed suggestion of suffering… Bosch meets Edward Gorey… an almost perfectly appropriate description, too, of the music of Trap Them– a detuned, doom-metalled, punk-ish, grindcore’d, D-beat sound of pure sonic fury… the kind of stuff that Monkey Defies Gravity lives for….

Opener “Fucking Viva,” somehow sounds like the cool version of Godsmack’s “Voodoo”….

Next, “Targets” roars out the gate at 1000 mph, like they’re pissed that Entombed isn’t more angry, man….

“Flesh and Below” sounds like Agnostic Front on Quaaludes and Crossfit workouts (imagine), and seven minute closer “Mission Convincers,” though it goes through several tempo changes, ends up sounding like a detuned Jimi Hendrix as played by the Infected from 28 Days Later.

The whole thing’s only 25 minutes, but it blazes by like a spliff laced with the Joker’s Smilex toxin.

Furious, fun psychedelic rage….