Goregang: Neon Graves (Transcending Obscurity)
Goregang are a 2 piece based in Florida, Neon Graves is their first album. The 2 members in question are Jeramie Kling and Taylor Nordberg who both work as audio engineers at Smoke and Mirrors Productions. The album features 12 tracks of old school death metal with maybe a little grind as well. All the tracks are short and blasting, most of the influences for this sort of sound come from 1988 - 1992. So think Entombed, Napalm Death, Massacre, Grave, Death, Carcass etc. Fairly simple death metal riffs that flow and feel like there is a lot of inertia to the music. There is a certain amount of grind and D-beat to this as well, the tracks False Flags and Goregang both have this slightly punky D-beat feeling to them, and the chorus of "Goregang (We are Goregang!)" reminded me a little of Gang Green. This is a sound that also has a lot of thrash in it, the early days of Death Metal had a fair amount of thrash influences, so we get a thrashy beat on Plague Of Hammers, Feeble Minded Rash and Putrid Hammers.
The fast and flowing goes without saying, but there are a lot of slow and achingly heavy parts as well, Neon Graves starts slow and grinding, has a fast section and then goes back to the heavy and slow again, and final track This Era Of The Human has a very slow and heavy ending. The song also contains the only solo on the album! Neon Graves is a lot of fun. It isn’t massively original or groundbreaking, but I don’t think it was meant to be, it was meant to be fun and enjoyable. This reminds me a little of Municipal Waste, not in the sound, but in the attitude, think of this as a Death Metal Art Of Partying and you’re pretty close. This album isn’t new and innovative, but it is massively enjoyable and fun, and there is nothing wrong with that! 7/10
Destroyer Of Light: Mors Aeterna (Argonauta Records)
Destroyer Of Light are a four piece from Austin, Texas, who have been making huge noises since 2012. Mors Aeterna is the band's third album coming two years after their last album Chamber Of Horrors and seven years after their self titled debut. In addition to the 6 long full tracks the album features 4 short instrumentals. Overture Putrefactio is the intro to the album, and is dark and brooding. The Unknown is a short electronic instrumental, Pralaya's Hymn is a piano led instrumental and Into The Abyss is all about the clean guitar. The rest of the tracks are all huge stonery doom tracks, with massive riffs and very good vocals that are packed with personality. This is perfectly shown by the first (proper) track Dissolution, which is packed with fat riffs and is so stonery it made me feel high just listening to it. It has that perfect relaxed tempo, that is essential for stoner doom. This almost perfect stoner tempo is also on the track Falling Star, which is dripping fat, relaxed riffs.
This is also a band that can do massive grooves as well as massive riffs (this album sometimes does both at the same time!). Afterlife has a great groove to it, its impossible to not nod your head to this, and the chorus is fantastic as well. Afterlife also has a massive ending, something it shares with several other tracks. There are some psychedelic elements as well, Loving The Void, and Burning Darkness both have a psychedelic feeling to them that works very well with the huge riffs, really enjoyable. The album is brought to an end by the track Eternal Death, which is probably the darkest track on the album. Slow and incredibly heavy, the song has a tempo that is driving and feels unstoppable. The song also features some chanting, and a very nice piano and violin ending. Mors Aeterna is a fantastic stoner doom album. Well written and played, the riffs get into your head, and it ends up being impossible to get rid of them. I always take that as a sign of a very good album, highly recommended. 8/10
Eartheater: Spirit Ascend (Bloodsoaked Records)
Eartheater are a four piece stoner/doom/sludge band who have been making music since 2014 and this is their second album coming two years after their self titled debut. In doing my research for this review I have found a lot of bands called Eartheater, this one is based in Sweden. The album starts with Lotus Feet which is a massively sludgy instrumental. Huge heavy, and slightly nasty riffs, played to a lazy tempo. Next is the song Man Of The Sea, which is very alternative sludge, the vocals feel angry and harsh, and the overall feeling is nasty. Ritual Pt.2 is a 10 minute beast of a track. it feels less aggressive than the track which proceeded it, and feels more like traditional doom. The middle part of the song is darker and brooding, before it gets really heavy for the ending. Night Flight has the aggressive, alternative feel to it again. There is a punky sense to the song, and a little bit of a Jane's Addiction feel to the middle section.
Final track Spirits Ascend is another long monster of a track. It’s aggressive and sludgy, nasty and alternative. The vocals are angry and anguished, and in places feel quite punky. The track has a softer section in the middle, before a slow and heavy section brings the aggro back. The track finishes in a faster, but more melodic way. Spirit Ascend is a good piece of angry sludgy doom. It’s nasty, it’s aggressive, it’s heavy as anything, it’s quite short. Yeah, that's another thing, this album is 36 minutes in total and nearly five minutes of that is the instrumental intro, that's fairly short for this sort of music, a couple more tracks and it would have felt like more of an album, rather than feeling like an EP. However, what is here is enjoyable, and well played, so I suppose criticising the length is a compliment, I wanted to hear more. 7/10
Neckbeard Deathcamp: So Much For The Tolerant Left (Prosthetic Records)
Neckbeard Deathcamp are a bit of an enigma. Hated by fascists, loved by anarchists, communists and anti-racists. Very little is known about the 2 main members or the live members (Neckbeard Deathcamp are now a live entity) of the band, according to their Bandcamp page they are based in Bordeaux, France, although that is probably just to troll Nazi poster boy Varg, who now lives in France (where he was arrested a couple of years ago for far right terrorism offences). So Much For The Tolerant Left is their second album, the follow up to last years White Nationalism Is For Basement Dwelling Losers. Musically this is war metal, so everything is pushed to ridiculous levels of extremity and savageness. This massively over the top approach to sonic extremity will put a lot of people off, war metal is purposely impenetrable, and difficult. This extreme music, mixed with a political and ethical standpoint that is diametrically apposed to some of the grandee’s of black and war metal elite, has gained the band the tag of ‘Joke band’ to a lot of fans of those Grandees. So, let’s deal with this label first.
Yes, Neckbeard Deathcamp use humour to attack the far right. The cover of Richard Spencer being wedgied by a spiked arm-banded hand is funny. Ok, if you like Richard Spencer it isn’t funny, but then, if you like Richard Spencer enough to be upset by this cover, you probably didn’t have a sense of humour in the first place. Also, song titles like Shitpostnacht, and What Are The Cargo Pockets For Lanza Extra Mags?, are also funny if you aren’t a nazi. However, using humour as a weapon against the far right, is a very well used way of attacking Nazism, just look at Charlie Chaplin’s Film The Great Dictator, Neckbeard Deathcamp are just continuing this tradition is taking the piss out of pathetic Nazi losers.
The accusation that Neckbeard Deathcamp make music that is a joke, is also not really a valid argument. The riffs are simple and brutal, the pacing is insanely fast, and the vocals drip reverb and staggering aggression. Or, to put it another way, it’s war metal. If Neckbeard Deathcamp are a joke, then so are all war metal bands, you can add Revenge and Black Witchery to the ‘Joke’. There are some really great, filthy riffs on here, the aforementioned track What Are the Cargo Pockets For Lanza Extra Mags? has some cracking second wave black metal riffs in it. The opening riff of Bricks Out For Harambe have a blackened grindcore feel to them that is really great. So the riffs are sickening and extreme, whats not to like about that?
Personally I really like the vocals, the reverb makes them sound ridiculously huge, and if people are complaining about that, then that shows an issue with war metal rather than specifically with Neckbeard Deathcamp. Another note about vocals, this album features vocals from Karl Willets of Bolt Thrower and Memoriam, and Denis Boardman of Doom; any other war metal albums have vocals by Extreme Metal royalty? No didn’t think so. This is not an album for the faint hearted (Musically or politically), it’s extreme and nasty, and it really upsets Nazi’s. What more do you want from your war metal? After all, isn’t this sort of extremity meant to upset people? 8/10