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Saturday 26 February 2022

Reviews: Corpsegrinder, Tuskar, Bad Omens, Kajgūn (Reviews By Charlie Rogers & Dr Claire Hanley, Matt Bladen, Zak Skane & Rich P)

Corpsegrinder -  Corpsegrinder (Self Released) [Charlie Rogers & Dr Claire Hanley]

George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher is a man who needs no introduction. With a successful career as one of the genre’s iconic voices, spanning over three decades; he is to death metal what Andrew WK is to party metal but instead of an enthusiasm for socializing, he gets his musical jollies by crushing skulls. His debut self-titled offering comes hot on the heels of Cannibal Corpse’s 2021 release Violence Unimagined but, as a testament to the mastery of his domain, thankfully the two are noticeably distinct. 

The album wastes no time launching the listener into furious riffs, and the aforementioned trademark bark. Yet, Acid Vat offers up some unexpected slam vibes amidst the chaos, as the first taste of the myriad of influences on the record unfolds. Adopting a nightmarish swagger from the hardcore genre, some of the riffs are as thick as Corpsegrinder’s neck. That bravado continues into Bottom Dweller and All Souls Get Torn which are chock full of high energy, aggressive licks. The former features examples of pure bile and hatred in the lyrics (clearly, making an enemy out of George would be a colossal mistake), while the latter revisits the groovy slam feel and showcases a more venomous tone to the vocal performance. 

Defined By Your Demise is an equally gritty and mean track, promising all kinds of vengeance, and Vaguely Human - most closely resembling a Cannibal Corpse composition - bludgeons the senses with some seriously pounding double kicks, and more of George’s tortured screams. Nonetheless, not all the songs hit just as hard as each other, with On Wings Of Carnage being a prime example. Much darker, and more menacing, Death Is The Only Key provides the contrast to it’s fast paced predecessors; taking the tempo down a notch while still maintaining all that power. Both Devourer Of Souls and Master Of The Longest Night follow this pattern, with monstrous precision paired with skull-crushingly heavy chugs. 

An anomaly for the death metal genre, Crimson Proof opens with a guitar tone reminiscent of, dare we say it, nu-metal/metalcore. Maybe this isn’t such a surprise given the involvement of Nick and Charlie Bellmore (Kingdom of Sorrow, Phantoms). Having relative newcomers to the scene can be a gamble but seemingly they have taken to death metal like brutal ducks to shark-infested water. Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, it’s a short yet sweet romp through Death Metal 101. 

But there’s beauty in the simplicity - it’s ‘meat and potatoes’ death metal executed to the highest standard. This isn’t your grandma’s ropey roast dinner, swimming in watery gravy, it’s filet mignon and triple cooked chips. When you encapsulate a genre, you're allowed to stick to a formula, but perhaps there is too much of a good thing. 9/10

Tuskar - Matriarch (Church Road Records) [Matt Bladen]

Many of us will have learnt about the life of stars and the universe while at school. We're told that space is a vacuum and there is no sound. However when a Neutron Star collapses into a galaxy eating Black Hole, I'd like to think that the noise it makes sounds like Tuskar. The Milton Keynes duo are a band that use music as a weapon, their sludge metal denser than said Black Holes atomic mass and darker too. 

Just take the opening number on their debut full length record Matriarch, the title track is brooding, slithering song that moves at glacial pace with fleeting explosions of rage to stop you becoming to comfortable. It's a lengthy opening track but then the Tuskar do well with longer run times, bringing some post-metal atmospherics to The Trees, The Trees, The Trees, another sprawling instrumental that sits between the fiesty, furious hardcore of To The Sky and the frenetic percussion of Halcyon Gilt, a song that is as insistent as it is vicious. 

Despite being only 7 tracks Matriarch hits a very impressive 45 minutes with few gaps between the songs making it feel like one extensive journey. The sludge sound is often accompanied by the shimmering atmospherics, psychedelic freak outs or doomy low ends, making it a must for fans of bands such as Neurosis, (early) Mastodon or (early) Baroness, when the key was to be as heavy as hell but also to experiment with the style itself. 

These last two influences are clear as day on the impressive Into The Sea and the closing to Grave. Though Shame brings us back down with some introspective passages that build into flashes of full rage. Matriarch is a destructive, vicious record with progressive, emotive structures too. This duo are very impressive, I said so when I saw them live, but on record they are just as ear damaging, collapsing all the light around them. 8/10 

Bad Omens – The Death Of Peace Of Mind (Sumerian Records) [Zak Skane]

With successful singles like Glass Houses, The Worst Of Me and Dethrone in which have gained over Twenty Million streams Bad Omens have returned with their fifteen-track opus. The four piece utilise spine chilling atmospheres and cinematic soundscapes with seductive and catchy vocal hooks accompanied with metalcore aggression. Due to the bands tour being cancelled because of the global pandemic vocalist Noah and guitarist Jolly were left to their own devises and armed with artistic freedom, they have wrote their latest release The Death Of Peace Of Mind

This album opens up with oceans of electronic 80’s synths and drum machines accompanied with pop sounding falsetto vocals which as a result that can sound like anything The Weeknd have produced recently, in which as a result will make any casual metal listeners head tilt with curiosity before regaining their trust with a climatic breakdown. 

Following after is Nowhere To Go, which takes the tempo up a notch with it’s pop punk pacing and it’s post hardcore hooks that reminisces of bands that were popular of the 2011’s such as Pierce The Veil and Sleeping With Sirens. The leading single The Death Of Peace Of Mind highlights the peak of what this band is sonically capable of with the emotionally laced clean vocals that produce modern-day gothic seductive lyrics accompanied with electronic elements with modern metalcore breakdowns. 

Like A Villain ventures lyrically about coping with suicide and depression laced over the bands more metalcore arrangements with the guitars and live drums pushed more in the front of the mix instead of the electronics taking the centre point. 

Other highlights featured on this album are Just Pretend and The Grey with it’s soaring emotional choruses, the pop-core swagger of IDWT$ and rager that is Artificial Suicide with it's doom riffs and angry snarling vocals that Noah is producing. I really enjoyed listening to this album every song flowed within each other in an album context. Noah sounds hunting yet emotionally driven and Joakim and Nick’s guitars go from subtle ambient textures to a punishing blows to the ear drums as well as the experimental sounds of the synths and drum machines that were utilised through out the album. 

The few criticisms that I hold against with this album is that I find on some of the songs Noah's voice is a bit too over produced especially on songs like Concrete Jungle Take Me First and Like A Villain, as a result it takes away the character from his voice. The other criticism is that I find in the modern age of streaming and how artists are focusing more on releasing mini albums, EP’s and singles I find releasing a fifteen track album is a bit too over saturating and as a result it can lead to some of tracks to be quite forgettable. Overall if you’re a fan of bands and artists like The Weekend, Amo era Bring Me The Horizon and Issues this is straight up your street, 8/10.

Kajgūn - Daogoad (Self Released) [Rich P]

I love a good combo platter, so when I received the assignment to review Kajgūn, who describes themselves as a psychedelic jazz metal band my interest was piqued. Not so much on the second part, where they explain that the play totally improvised music. Now as someone who prefers some stability and certainty in life as well as someone who leans towards albums that have vocals, I became a bit more skeptical. Let’s see where this goes… 

To start, there is a lot going on musically. Some unique soundscapes are developed by this Hungarian three piece. Headphones would be a strong suggestion for maximum enjoyment. Winds, strings, and synths are right up front throughout the four sprawling tracks and the saxophone leads the way on the fifteen-minute jam, Dho Neyr Kouxmala with mixed results. This is some unique stuff, but you can see what they were going for with the jazz metal motif, but sometimes it is a bit much on jazz efforts. It’s obvious these guys can play for sure. The creativity is off the charts. But anyone looking for any kind of traditional song structure this album is not for you. 

Occasionally it feels like the band has thirty different random instruments spread across the room and I am picturing them running back and forth to pick the next one up, at the whim of their rapidly synapsing creative brains. If you enjoy instrumental doomy jams with instruments not normally found in something labeled “metal” then give this a try. I found it a bit repetitive and a bit too scattered, but that may have been what they were going for, and it is improv so maybe that was the goal. This may be a case of it just not being my cup of tea, but they can certainly play and are certainly creative, so if jazzy metal jam band is your thing check it out. 6/10

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