Thursday, August 29, 2013

Carved Cross/Sump Split

Carved Cross/Sump Split 7”
Legion Blotan/All Dead Tapes/Winterreich Productions/Down and Out

Featuring two standout names within the current “raw” Black Metal scene, this split delivers exactly what is to be expected from both Carved Cross and Sump. Australia’s Carved Cross offer forth two tracks of their mid-paced sound with depressive undertones in the vein of other down-under contemporaries (most notably Drowning the Light). Low-fidelity recording qualities add to the signature CC sound, mixing agonizing high-pitched shrieks into the drunken-guitar melodies and stomping percussion. Lots of pace-changes between tremolo passages with stomping drum accompaniments and moving segments that keep both pieces at an engaging pace. “Domination of the Will” takes full advantage of its short track length with a developed, haunting structure and repeated passages/vocal phrasing that in turn are quite catchy. All-in-all, however, this brief side doesn’t do the band complete justice (previous releases showcase longer tracks with more depth), but given the restraints, Carved Cross does an excellent job of portraying the critical elements of their sound. The B-side features the United Kingdom act, Sump, who rely on sloppy presentation and an ugly approach throughout their four-song share of the split. Although the production remains low-fidelity, the atmosphere has a peculiar warmth to it that allows for the instruments to shine a little brighter(in turn helping to better grasp their raw compositions). “Black Tombstone” features tremolo-riffing and thumping d-beat marches into chaos until climaxing into a short harsh noise “outro”(low-end static rumbles...seriously!). “Live for Evil” opens with a catchy guitar-melody and maintains a high “punk” energy before slipping into a grimy movement with reckless drum plodding and high-speed riffing (and another stint of electronics just before the final burst of anger...winding and airy oscillations from the distance...). “When Satan Appears” closes their side with a catchy song structure and a vicious vocal styling to match, and overall this Sump material is some of the best the band has released as of recent. Strong songwriting capabilities and a violent approach to their craft helps plant their seeds into the soil contemporaries such as Bone Awl and Ildjarn had laid. 

A definite purchase for fans of either band, and worth inspecting by anyone with a taste for hideous, raw Black Metal/Punk. Copies can be purchased via the Down and Out blog. 

Raspberry Bulbs "Deformed Worship"

Raspberry Bulbs “Deformed Worship”
PERC-003 (CS)

Black/Punk hybrid Raspberry Bulbs from Brooklyn, New York have been stirring waters murky waters in the underground for a couple years now, thus making a name for themselves in both metal and punk communities. Taking heavy influence from Bone Awl, Ildjarn, and (what I assume) an extensive catalogue of 80’s hardcore/Punk and even Post-Punk/Goth-Rock, the New Yorkers weld an interesting sonic structure that digs far deeper than contemporaries of the genre have ever imagined to excavate. Featuring He Who Crushes Teeth (of Bone Awl infamy), RB combine the ugliness and crude-nature of low-fidelity Black Metal with a raw, stomping nature and a reckless prose. Tracks like “Crackled Flesh” romp and trample the listener while incorporating interesting lead-work that was seldom featured in past releases. These leads are akin to many gothic/post-punk groups with their noodling presence and eerie structure, adding a refreshing flavor to the hardened and pounding sound RB had previously been dependent on. However, songs like “Before Man”, “When a Lie Becomes the Truth”, and “Standing in Line” stick strongly to the “traditional” formula and are solid tracks in their own right. The atmosphere throughout the entire listen is high energy and the improved production quality gives each instrument space to breathe and leave their own important mark on the album. The guitar in particular has a bright, bouncing tone that fits perfectly with the new emphasis on leads, and the bass fills the voids left open with the signature booming tone. Vocally this record isn’t much different than previous efforts aside from the heavier emphasis on “singing” (and I use that term very loosely) which can be heard clearest in “Wild Inside” during the chorus and “I Was Wrong” for a majority of the song. For the most part, however, the vocals are drunken slurs straight from the throat and have stayed rooted in the Black Metal side of the sound. The skins are handled marvelously in minimal fashion and keep the band focused as the pieces flow from movement-to-movement. “Groping the Angels Face” is a personal favorite for this exact reason...from the get-go the band jumps into arguably the “catchiest” riff of 2013 with the drums flaring in a true Punk fashion (bouncing from d-beats to tom-fills), encompassing the entire RB methodology into one 3:01 slab of music. “Deformed Worship” finishes off with “I Was Wrong”, a song that (as previously mentioned) features an emphasis on blurred singing and ends strong with a second-wind, building to a dramatic climax that is guaranteed to put a wretched smile on any sick face. Demented and raw, RB have put together a release that will grace many “Top Records of 2013” list(mine included), and is a testament to the versatility of the Black/Punk genre. Not everything needs to sound like Bone Awl, and Raspberry Bulbs will be remembered as an original player in this exciting style for years to come.

Copies of this LP are available through Forced Exposure, and the tape is available via Seedstock

The Rita + Prurient “Women Pissing”

The Rita + Prurient “Women Pissing”  7"


A powerhouse collaboration between the innovative HNW master The Rita and prolific Power Electronics-gone-Electronica entity Prurient was conceived a few years ago and has finally been pumped out of the Fusty Cunt womb on a purple-mixed 7” this year. Both sides feature McKinley (the Rita) taking over on electronic duties and Fernow (Prurient) vocalizing, and although the runtime is short, the destructive nature of the sound manages to fill every inch of this wax. Crunching low-end rumbles combined with mid-range static textures are synonymous with McKinleys style and are executed flawlessly across both sides of this collaborative effort. At times there are mechanical undertones hidden deep within the walls, whereas others the crunching layers thump and bump along with commanding prowess. Fernow adds his high-pitched screams with feedback-filled swirls to both compositions, and it is obvious that the intention was to have the vocals sit on top of The Rita’s sonic structure. Uncomfortable and driving, Prurient’s contribution is enjoyable although not necessarily vital to the success of the release as a whole... that isn’t to say Fernow isn’t a crucial piece to the collaboration, just that the electronics themselves are stellar enough to be used on their own and are ultimately what I find most memorable once the record is done spinning. While this collaboration is certainly an all-star effort, the 7” is not going outside of the boundaries both artists are comfortable within. The Rita and Prurient utilize their strengths they have become cherished for and produced exactly what was to be expected;a solid and enjoyable display of dominance.

As a whole, The Rita + Prurient collaboration is a strong output and a must-have for fanatics of both projects (and Harsh Noise/Power Electronics in general). Fusty Cunt may still have copies available through their blog. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Skin Graft "Switched Off"

Skin Graft "Switched Off" c10

Cleveland is home to many Harsh Noise powerhouses, all of whom bring violent variables to the infamous No-Coast sound. Wyatt Howland leaves little to the imagination with his stellar discography and beautifully bleak output, in turn making himself a huge figure within the American Harsh Noise scene. “Switched Off” is short c10 endeavor that channels ideas previously touched upon in earlier releases and enhances them all within short bursts...Side A in particular moves from movement to movement in a moments notice (before you can truly fall into the sound the track goes silent and another begins). It feels as if Howland continues to “switch-off” his sound only to restart at a different point with heightened intensity. Crunching low end makes an appearance during the B side during a “longer” output of sound between silences...the dynamics are suspenseful in turn making the entire tape a thriller-esque wet-dream. Blindly outstretching the listener fingers against cold cement walls, “Swtiched Off” is a haunting plummet into the belly of a nightmare with only the unknown to discover. As a whole, Skin Graft stays within the middle of the sonic spectrum without diving too deeply into the higher/lower registers of sound, but all-in-all the lack of spaced-out composition helps to keep this tape focused and clean.

Copies of this tape are sold out.

Breaking the Will "Normalization"

Breaking the Will "Normalization" c20

Although this tape is nearly three years old, it is never too late to give credit where it is due. Being the (at the time) second release from the midwestern Harsh Noise project Breaking the Will, “Normalization” showcases an impressive sense of maturity and grown compositions. Dynamic and unfaltering junk mangling, the tape gnashes and splices seamlessly between sections of mid-range static grinding to low-end twisting. Feedback finds it’s way to bleed through the walls of metallic sound and often times helps to bind movements together. The use of climactic jittering and allowing the pieces to build to monumental heights before letting them truly “hit” is flawlessly executed...this release never gets tiresome. Each sound has it’s fair levels of space while maintaining relativity with the composition as a whole rather than allowing each frequency to blend into a bag of mush. Side B contains a personal favorite display of this spacing (around the 2/5th point the build-up reaches maximum altitude while a thin layer of bass-driven rumble slowly molds underneath until finally connecting and stealing the spotlight), and ultimately I feel this side is the strongest of the two. However, Side A is a stellar opening with a much heavier emphasis on a mid-range assault and a “faster pace”, in the end working hand-in-hand with the more dynamic flip-side.

Copies of “Normalization” are available on the New Forces blog. Highly recommended for metal-abuse/slice-and-dice HN addicts. 

Developer + Water Torture "The Developer Remixes" c10

Developer + Water Torture  “The Developer Remixes”

Dayton Ohio’s master of cut-and-splice Harsh Noise, Developer, discovers a new sound-source for this c10...Buffalo, NY’s Powerviolence trio Water Torture. This being said, the mutilations held within hold little (to no) resemblance of the original pieces done by the group...instead they have been generated into a chaotic sound collage by the veteran hands of Matthew Reis. Bubbling rushes of static, occasional blast-beat bleeding, and layers-upon-layers of slice-and-dice mania, there is no breathing room for the duration of the tape. At times the sound circulates within the “typical” Developer style (stops-and-starts, stimulating waves of impenetrable mid/low range HN bliss), whereas other instances it has more of a Noisecore feel (side B in particular towards the 3/4th mark). The briefness of the tape feels tidy and complete, however it would have been great to hear more...using WT as the source of sound gives the recording a wholesome quality as Reis dismantles the group into malleable forms he can compose with. Truly an energetic listen and is by no means much different than other Developer works in terms of his signature breakneck approach to cut-up Harsh Noise, but the charm is heavy and thick. Cannot get enough!

Copies of this tape are available on the Factotum blog.