Northern death grinders Foetal Juice are a good bunch of lads. The self proclaimed “Masters of Absurdity” have a 15 year record of producing catchy, aggressive death metal, with a grindy edge that often pushes over the boundary of the surreal. Opening the album is a track named Take Your Face For A Shit, leaving my head sore trying to work out what on earth they’re talking about. Back to their usual tricks you’d assume, and largely they are.
Foetal Juice have a very distinct sound, from Rob’s expert use of high energy beats - blast or otherwise - synergizing with Ryan’s frantic riffing and Lewis’ solid bass playing. Derek’s vast vocal range offers both shrill screeching and bog monster growls, cementing his place near the top of the UK vocal totem pole. Massive props to both Lewis and Derek here, as they’ve stepped into some massive shoes left behind by founding members, and done so with gusto. Throughout the album we’re treated to a very consistent, fast paced deluge of riffs. It rarely slows, keeping the excitement maxed, and lending the music to no doubt lead to much movement once the shows start once more.
There’s less obvious humour on this release, with many of the tracks having fairly standard names such as Trepidation, Metamorphosis, and Carnage”. And yet we still see the spirit of the band’s nutty past shine through in titles like Septic Mollusc and Antagonistic Bastard. While fans of the humorous side may be disappointed in this move to more standardised naming, the groove, the thick production, and the copious invitations to circle pit are all still very much present in their tunes. Perhaps it’s this more serious tone that’s struggling to embed any one particular song in my memory, with a post-listen malaise setting in once the auditory bludgeoning stops. However, every song absolutely deserves to be on this album - there’s certainly no weak track in particular I’d take out, and that should speak volumes for the consistency Foetal Juice have brought to the table here. Looking forward to running around to this in a live setting real soon. 8/10
16: Dream Squasher (Relapse Records) [Matt Bladen]
For the first time since their reformation in 2007 the San Diego sludgers are a very trim four piece with the erstwhile guitarist Bobby Ferry stepping up to the mic for lead vocals on what could be their most affecting album yet. Ferry comments that their was "A conscious effort was made to inject some positivity into the lyrical themes," however he goes on to say that this positivity takes the shape of "loving your dog so much, you'd end up killing yourself if your dog dies." (Me And The Dog Die Together). Since 1991 16 have been delivering punishingly heavy sludge metal with a streak of hardcore through it edging towards the sounds of Trouble, YOB and Godflesh. Which means that within the sludge sounds there's a element of psych/drone on Summer Of '96, there is monolithic doom on Acid Tongue and some more world music and melodic tones on Agora (Killed By A Mountain Lion) making for the most musically dense offering from this long established but sometimes overlooked metal act. On Dream Squasher you can understand where bands such as Mastodon and Baroness got their influences from but 16 bring something more... they revel in misery, almost like an omen they appear when things are at their worst reflecting what's happening with their visceral musical offence. With the absolute misery of the world currently once again the portent that is 16 have returned and Dream Squasher is their current snapshot of the evils in this world. Not for those of a nervous disposition. 7/10
Calling All Astronauts: #Resist (Self Released) [Liam True]
Labelling yourselves as Electro-Goth-Punk makes it sound like an interesting combination of two worlds colliding into one to make an exciting sound. And I can safely tell you that Calling All Astronauts have killed all expectations I had for it. What I was hopefully expecting was a mix between Pretty Hate Machine & Rocket To Russia. But instead was greeted by a poorly sounded, washed down Ministry cover band with worse sounding synths. While their schtick may be Electo sounds, they hammer in to many sythwave elements that are joined by a decent guitar tone. Unfortunately, the guitar is using the same three chords through every song with a pitch harmonic about four times a song. The vocals sound boring and uninspired, almost as if vocalist David B didn’t want to be there.
The only thing that draws me into the album is the bass work by Paul Buzzsaw McCrudden. Dark and dreary resonates with the feel of the already mucky album and actually gives the record a glimmer of hope. Beyond the bass tone, there’s nothing else this album has to offer. It’s as if The Smiths and The Cure had a baby. But it was brought up to disrespect the surroundings it was offered. You may also notice on some songs it may seem a bit out of time. Whether this was intentional or not is a mystery, but it doesn’t handle well. This record is forgettable and bland. Shame really. I was hoping for more. 2/10
Everlore: Everlore (Self Released) [Rich Oliver]
Everlore are a power metal band hailing from Finland with this self titled album being the independently released debut album from the band. Everlore formed back in 2013 and have released a steady stream of singles since 2017 culminating in the full length release this year.
Everlore perform a very back to basics style of power metal. It is less over the top and grandiose than a lot of power metal released these days and is far more rooted in classic heavy metal and some of the earlier power metal bands. The formula is simple and the songs follow a fairly standard pattern but Everlore know the art of power metal and the songs on this album are damn fucking good. Nothing is particularly overstated but it is just great power metal with stand out songs such as Stranger Skies, The Poet, the magnificent title track and my personal favourite the nifty speedy number that is Brighter Tomorrow that should probably come with a catchiness warning.
The musicianship on display is to an excellent standard with great performances all round and the vocals by Joonas Kunnela are more understated than your average power metal singer being in a lower register but they are very effective and compliment the music tremendously. Everlore have a great release here and a very promising debut album. It is more subdued than a lot of the power metal released today and very much goes to the roots of the genre. It’s a great bunch of songs that are extremely well written and performed and that’s all you can ask for really. 8/10