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Saturday, 11 April 2020

Reviews: Cordyceps, Benighted, Forndom, NIL (Paul H, Dr Claire/Charlie, Lee & Matt)

Cordyceps: Betrayal (Unique Leader) [Paul Hutchings]

Fancy being run over by a steamroller? You’ll probably like this album then. Formed in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2014, Cordyceps hold a vision of pure death metal extremity. Debut EP Black Blood Butchery was unleashed in 2017, to some high praise. “A veritable festival of blazing technicality and musical prowess. This is thinking man’s brutal death metal in every way” said Black Dahlia Murder vocalist Trevor Strnad writing in his Obituarist column. Line-up changes and attention to detail may have prolonged the arrival of this debut long player but it’s a beast that has been worth waiting for. It simply smashes from start to finish in true Cannibal Corpse/Disentomb style. Sharp, punishing and brutal tracks with a ferocity that masks the underlying technical style. Cursed Are They opens the album, introducing the listener to an avalanche of visceral riffing, slicing guitar work and unparalleled intensive drumming. Combine this with some gruesome guttural growls. There is no let up until the final bars of Black Mass end. If your neighbours are getting on your tits during the lock down, I recommend playing Cordyceps at extremely dangerous volume. It should do the trick. Pulverising death metal with a size 13 boot. 7/10

Benighted: Obscene Repressed (Season Of Mist) [Charlie Rodgers & Dr Claire Hanley)

Mixing influences from classic death metal, grind, and slam, Benighted cater for those with some pretty diverse music tastes. So it comes as no surprise that this album has all the subtlety of a lit match in a fireworks factory. Opening with the title track, we’re greeted with a variety of chewing noises...clearly, their parents didn’t teach them the value of appropriate meal time etiquette. The grind aspect is instantly audible while seamlessly contrasting with elements of brutal death metal - the crisp snare sound being particularly punchy. The diverse tempo shifts remain a continued theme as Nails spins up. One of the standout tracks on the album, the maniacal song writing constantly kept us guessing as to where it would go next. We were certainly caught off-guard by the melodic interlude at the transition into Brutus, which diverges into a full-on slam fest with some impressively rapid vocal delivery.

Unfortunately, at this point the material begins to slide into mediocrity, with the next few tracks providing us with very little that we haven’t heard already. Such is the curse of extreme novelty. Smoke Through The Skull is pure grind with choppy riffs that slice through the mix. Implore The Negative has one hell of a catchy opening riff, with double kicks to die for. There is even a sexy little jazz breakdown in Muzzle but it isn’t enough to save these tracks from being regarded as fillers. The unique elements seem almost shoehorned in for the sake of being different, rather than necessary pieces of the puzzle. They simply don’t add anything.

Our attention spans waning, we were just about ready to throw this album down the crapper, until the comedically titled Mom, I Love You The Wrong Way turned things around. There are moments where the song composition is absolutely spot-on; from tasty bass licks to a killer solo. Harking back to their roots, the high-pitched vocals and blackened riffs were a welcome departure from the often chaotic vibe of the preceding tracks. Now rescuitated, Undivided Dismemberment kept the pulse strong and re-energised the album, with catchy riffs and infectious gurgly vocals. Bound To Facial Plague features some bone-rattling bass and some seriously pit worthy moments. Wrapping things up, the album concludes with a Slipknot cover. Quite the obscure choice but Benighted’s rendition of Get This surpasses the original (just).

Obscene Repressed is an album with quite the identity crisis. Great to keep the listener poised for the first few tracks but things stagnate rapidly. As a whole, it leans on cliche, with every other song seemingly beginning or ending with a gurgling, grunting, or choking sound. Who knew there was such a thing as too much gore. Lots of strong starts with minimal follow through. 6/10

Forndom: Faþir (Nordvis) [Lee Burgess]

Right, Forndom, and his album Fabir. Here we go. First off, this isn’t metal. It’s dark folk. Don’t go looking for metal, because you won’t find any. I know, because I’ve tried. This one-man maker of musical soundscapes is obviously very talented. His knack of creating lovely, sprawling music that is taken from his natural surroundings is quite clear. The trouble is that it never quite hits the ground running. It opens with the usual Euro-metal witchy darkness. Dark sounds, programmed sections of strange melody and eerie slow layers of strings, percussion and low Swedish vocals bringing forth visions of Vikings and sacrificial offerings to Norse Gods. And then suddenly we are offered… more of the same. The issue here is that right now there are a lot of bands that sound remarkably similar. If this is your thing, then of course more of the same may be just what you’re looking for.

This is a well produced album, with all the right bits in the right places, but it lacks pace and never really offers anything more than pretty sounds that we’ve all heard before, over and over. There’s only so much flying over Swedish mythical countryside a person can take, and for me, if this was an EP, the experience would have been more palatable, but as a full length album it becomes tedious very quickly. The issue I fear, is one of self-indulgence. What be hypnotic and deep just becomes irritating and cliché. If you are fans of the artist and the genre, then you may enjoy this, but personally, I’ve heard it, and it isn’t very impressive. 5/10

NIL: Self Titled (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

It's a weird time for music and as such many bands are having to adapt to the times we are living in. With streamed shows and delays with releases there are a lot of obstacles to jump. South Walian band NIL have really come up against it, timing the release of this debut EP to coincide with a tour that unfortunately will not happen. So that left them in a bit of a quandry, it means that the three songs on this album will be released as independent singles over the coming months rather than as one cohesive EP. As we don't review singles, I'll be critiquing the EP as a whole but I'll focus on the individual songs, as it's only got three.

First up is Abort a percussive slab of low grooves and aggressive riffs, it's immediately clear that NIL are hard to categorize as a band, but I'd say that they are a noisy, angry four piece with bags of experience (all the members have been in notable local acts), Abort gets the head banging from the first moments with a stomping riff that breaks into some hi-hat battery, it's almost got an unrelenting industrial tinge to it. Grueler comes next and it's just brimming with bile, punishing the listener with aural abuse. The last track is New World which retains the style of battery though with shortest song on the EP and a snarling end to it. Despite the hardship they now face, I urge you to check out the music here as it's another sparkling example of the Welsh underground scene. 7/10

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