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Friday, 19 October 2018

Reviews: Scorched, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Birdpen, Binah (Reviews By Sean & Matt)

Scorched: Ecliptic Butchery (20 Buck Spin) [Sean]

In a world where reinventing the wheel is the idiom of the day, death metal falls into one of 3 categories. There are those that seek to redesign the wheel completely, either by adorning their creation with genre bending and/or blistering technicality. The second kind? The wheel is the enemy, proceed smash it to fucking bits, scatter its splinters against a wall and proceed to nuke that wall. The 3rd and final? Unchanged though unnatural. Rot and rust have set in but it remains ageless, strong and certain much like death itself. What of Delaware death dealers Scorched? What wheel does their second album, Ecliptic Butchery resemble? The last and proudly so.

From the moment that Blood Splattered Eclipse kicks in filthy tremolo riffs lead the assault, tumbling and heaving with Matt Kapa’s Pillard-esque roars recount tales of horror and gore. This is more or less the core essence of joyful filth wizardry that is Ecliptic Butchery, each song ebbing and flowing between Incantation like blasting and doom/death stylings of Autopsy. Astral Groove , builds upon this perfect foundation, introducing more haunting leads that wouldn't go amiss in a John Carpenter flick. Bodies Collect is stomping tour de force, a throwback to Altars era Morbid Angel (or Slayer, even!) with churning riffs and wailing dive-bombs aplenty. Mortuary Of Nightmare is straight up mean, introducing a pinch of dissonance among the angular riffing. It jumps from tempo to tempo without batting an eyelid and never losing coherency.

As final track Dissected Humanity brings the murder spree to a close, I’m left feeling immensely satisfied. Scorched have crafted a superb piece of horror, nuanced as it is accessible and done with complete and utter devotion to their craft. Ecliptic Butchery is an ugly monstrosity of lurching riffs, sinister grooves and over the top otherworldly bellows. Wrapped in a crisp yet expansive production, Scorched have finely balanced all of what makes old school death metal so damn satisfying. The strong songwriting, attention to detail and mighty performance ensures that you’ll be staring into the abyss long after that wailing whammy fades into dreadful silence. 9/10

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats: Wasteland (Rise Above Records) [Matt]

Apparently the concept behind the fifth album from stoner cultists Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats is “an post-apocalyptic hellscape where everyone lives isolated in walled cities, the population has had their memories wiped clean. Instead of personal experience, they subsist on the information being force fed to them via glowing propaganda screens” so basically a metaphor for modern life and the onset of technology (the irony isn’t lost on me that this review is on a blog) essentially it’s parts Escape From New York, part They Live and part zombie movie just what you’d expect from these acid dropping proto-metal weirdos.

Driven by the experiences of bandleader Kevin Starrs it’s rumination on detachment, paranoia and the invasion of technology into daily life something he notices at the gigs they play where folks watch the whole set through a phone screen (something that infuriates me). It’s also the most psychedelic record in the discography relying heavily on melodic, trippy sonic experimentalism along with their proto-metal riffs, Bedouin has brass cutting through the fuzz, the atmospheric I See Through You is a track that has a whiff of Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy) by Rob Zombie, while Shockwave City brings the Sabbath worship and No Return takes on some electronic gothica. Wasteland is the most well rounded of all of the Uncle Acid albums it's a tour of a warped mind with pretty good concept behind it, enter the wasteland and get freaky! 8/10

Birdpen: There's Something Wrong With Everything (Self Released) [Matt]

Something a little different now with Southampton based two-piece Birdpen, formed by Dave Pen (also the singer and guitarist in Archive) and Mike Bird (thus the name). The duo play some slinky, electronic alt rock which melds dreamy psychedelic soundscapes with synth-driven Krautrock and progressive rock, a heady brew of Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Can and doom-laden progressive rock. The driving This Is Your Life opens the record with bubbling bottom end driven by bass and old school electronics (something that makes this record sounds out), it's got an edginess to it along with a sense of urgency which transition into the dreamy title track which has shimmering synths, some biting strings and drums that wash over you. The mixture of sounds here makes it a really interesting listen, the indie electronica of Eyes In The Sky with the Easy Life having the heady rhythms of the concert for Bangladesh. The vocals have the breathy emotion of Coldplay's Chris Martin, Star Of The Half-Time Show is the best example of this but with the expressive music behind there's a dark side that makes it a very rewarding listen. 7/10 

Binah: Phobiate (Osmose Productions) [Sean]

If anyone knows anything about me, they know that I have profound love of the Chainsaw. I’m not on about the DIY deforestation tool or the Tobe Hooper flick, but the gnarly godawful tone which roared into existence in early 90’s Stockholm. The Boss Hm-2, everything jacked to 11 and filthy caveman riffs to match. This recipe mostly holds true for Binah though on this, their 3rd release, Phobiate seeks to tweak the formula beyond the “rip and tear” blueprint of yesteryear. Heresy, some may say as the saw is the law! As for me, colour me intrigued! It has on more than one occasion succeeded for acts such as Morbid Chron (RIP) and Horrendous, will it do so for the English death dealers?

The desire for exploration manifests itself the strongest on 2nd track The Silent Static, a 12 minute epic wielding old might and new menace in equal measure. Seamlessly shifting between traditional riffage and blackened influences, it embraces occultic atmosphere to great effect. Make no mistake, this is something far more sinister than simple Dismember worship (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Mind Tap returns to a purer, doom laden sound, though owing more to Finnish filth merchants Convulse and/or Abhorrence. Dream Paralysis is another foray into complexity, with huge power chords ringing out into a gorgeous and expansive production. Consuming Repulse is bestial filth incarnate, whilst closer Bleaching is a dreadful dirge of crawling tremolo before giving way to outro Serum.

Phobiate is a fascinating beast to be sure, equal parts wonderful filth peppered with subtle layers of experimentation. While the bulk of this is contained in The Silent Static, those sinister touches do return from time to time. In the moments where Binah allow that slight gasp for air, a haunting lead or a juxtaposed melody elevating the foundations beyond the simplistic (though pleasing) slaughter of their forebears. Could they wander further into these foreign voids more often? Perhaps, but this in no way diminishes the more “orthodox” compositions and Phobiate showcases Binah as masters of their own craft. Comfortable in its unique malignancy and compositional guile, Phobiate rends thought and flesh alike with ease. 8/10

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