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Friday 19 August 2022

Reviews: Mammoth Volume, Morbid Evils, Subsun, Icosandria (Reviews By David Karpel, Paul Scoble, Matt Bladen & Matt Cook)

Mammoth Volume - The Cursed Who Perform The Larvagod Rites (Blues Funeral Records) [David Karpel]

Full of odd, progressive songs rife with retro vibes and angular hooks that slither between passages of funk, stoner, and Sabbathian psychedelics, The Cursed Who Perform The Larvagod Rites is Mammoth Volume’s return to exploration and experimentation. Their first full-length since 2008’s self-released Liked By Few, Hated By Dolphins, the new record comes out on Blues Funeral Records and it feels like a statement of faith in their original intent.  

The oddness and angularity shows up in the first track, The Kuleshow Effect, which builds on an infectious  groove reminiscent of an off-kilter Them Crooked Vultures. Diablo IV, continuing a series from earlier releases (the fantastical Diablo V closes this collection), marches into Tom Waits territory, providing the atmospherics for a freakish martial parade with jesters’ bells in the keys. Medieval Torture Devices follows with a strangely captivating groove that, again, feels off but still grabs. There’s a fun Steely Dan-like jazz section here that’s as natural as the funk underlying the next track, Want to Join Us? Come Back Later. The groove here is so sticky, and ultimately groove is the foundation for the whole album, no matter what form it takes. 

Osteoporos is a, multi-layered slow burner built on keys, fuzzy chords, gorgeous guitar sections, and a headwaying melodic chorus. Like the best of Sabbath’s psychedelic side, instrumentation is spare and breathy until it crescendos into fuller, more dramatic sections. Jörgen Andersson’s vocals bare more emotion here and hold onto the melody throughout, making this track more traditional in structure. The Lightwedge 60s Race, Zombie Piccolos, And The German (we could write an another paragraph on titles alone), picks up the pace with a Yes-like riff until its long, moody outro leads into another slow burner. A King And A Tyrant is an emotional narrative built on a mellow 70s like groove, while A Lullaby Of Doom attempts just that, a slow build fuzzy flannel tune about moving on from loss: “I’m moving up, the breeze is fine.” Diablo V closes us out with a spooky fairy tale vibe enhanced by flutes and strings. 

While it feels like titles take up a third of my word count here, I didn’t let that get in the way of enjoying this unique record. Honestly, it had its hooks in me from the first listen. Time changes and vocal choices might raise your eyebrows, but it’ll be while you're grooving to their riffs. Transitions are smooth, so their particular oddness is sewn into the full-effect of these cleanly produced songs. More than simply quirky or interesting, more than mood or oddity, this album works because of the hooks and melodies and the underlying grooves. And it works well. 8/10

Morbid Evils - Supernaturals (Transcending Obscurity Records) [Paul Scoble]

Morbid Evils is a side project of Keijo Niinimaa, lead singer with Grindcore band Rotten Sound, on Supernaturals Keijo plays guitar, octaver bass, samples and lead vocals. He is joined by Jarno Virkki on drums and Tuomas Varila on lead guitar. The Finish project has been making music since 2014, and has been quite productive in that time as they have released 2 studio albums before Supernaturals (2015’s In Hate With The Burning World and 2017’s Deceases), and a live album (Abacinated And Blind released in 2015). Everything Morbid Evils have released has been very well received, but all of that material came out in a 2 year period between 2015 and 2017; after a five year gap, are the band still producing great material?

The album features 4 long songs which are all very heavy, (mainly) very slow, and very aggressive in style. The main sound is a mixture of sludge, both the slow and heavy, and the Hardcore side of sludge as well, a healthy (or unhealthy) dose of death/doom and has a little bit of old school death metal as well for good measure. So, hugely heavy and massively aggressive, there are similarities to Eyehategod, Primitive Man, Body Void or Conan, but also to death metal bands like Asphyx or Autopsy. 

The album opens with Fearless, which is mainly sludgy, very heavy, slow riffs that feel aggressive and angry, interspersed with savagely nasty hardcore parts that are very rapid and very harsh. On some of the early sections in the song there is also a drone feel to riffs, which is also emphasised by a wailing lead guitar, which is returns at the end of the track with a nasty a-tonal solo. Keijo Niinimaa vocals sound and feel huge, and harsh and are the driving force behind all of the tracks, genuinely one of the best harsh vocal performances I’ve heard, and a huge asset to this album. 

Next song Anxious is less aggressive than the track which preceded it, it feels less angry and more melancholy. The song does still contain a little bit of hardcore, but the balance is more towards slow and heavy, and less about frenetic hardcore. The song has a relentless sense to it, so it’s slow but feels unstoppable, there is also a very pleasing section where the riffs have an echoy, psychedelic feel to them, this section I found quite reminiscent of British band Esoteric, and I enjoyed the additional texture. 

Tormented is less about sludge and more about doom and death Metal, admittedly slow death metal, but death metal nonetheless. The song is crushingly heavy, mainly slow, except for the little bits of full speed old school death metal that nestles between the pieces of massive doom. The song features a deeply mournful guitar melody lead over a lot of slow death/doom riffs, occasionally the Mournful heads off into more putrid and vile style of soloing, which is reminiscent of Autopsy’s style of sickening death metal.

Final and title track Supernaturals takes the nasty, sickening death metal feel to the next level, with very distasteful riffs, rancid solos and some of most unhealthy guitar harmonies I have ever heard. The track does have a slight eastern feel to some of the later riffs, so a slight Nile or Melechesh sense that works very well. The song ends in a blast of harsh and very nasty riffs, interspersed with feedback, a fitting end for a horrifically good, and very nasty album. 

Supernaturals is a stunning album, I can answer my question from the introduction with a very loud ‘Yes”. It is hugely heavy, incredibly intense and breathtakingly aggressive. The riffs worm their way into your head, until you are humming them to distraction, and the putrid leads and revolting harmonies will end up being the soundtrack to your life. If you are a fan of extreme music you should give this a listen, if you don’t usually do slow and extreme then let this album be your introduction, it’s just so good. 9/10

Subsun - Parasite (Parasite Records) [Matt Bladen]

From Quebec/Ontario Subsun are a hybrid prog/stoner/doom band who are reasonably new to the scene. Parasite is a debut album that brings their hybrid style together for the first time, and of you're fan of bands like Mastodon and High On Fire then Parasite will start the fires of excitement. Unfortunately it does start with what I think is the weakest song on the album, a simple repeating pentatonic lead guitar riff from Jean-Michel Fortin as Simon Paquette's bass and Jérémy Blais' drums get the chug going for this doom number. 

From here though things get a bit more impressive as Proliferation is the first song to bring those proggy Mastodon vibes, as the sludgy stoner riffs are given with odd time signatures. The vocals are gruff and woozy in equal measure and the songs are alright I guess but I did find myself zoning out after a couple of tracks, mainly as there's only so much riff riff, shout shout I can take before I want a bit more heaviness or a bit more proginess. 

Hopefully if they are recording a second album they'll either crank things up a bit with or become more proggy as the Mastodon worship is obvious, on Fusion especially, but there just seems to be something lacking on Parasite. 6/10

Icosandria – Icosandria (Self Released) [Matt Cook]

Post-Metal by its very nature yearns to be drawn out, voluminous, measured. It typically requires a scene be set; a motive established. It’s not a genre tailor made for an EP, per se. Though Icosandria present shining moments of intrigue on their self-titled release, it’s only four songs (and one is an interlude). But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Apricus reveals remarkable vocals – wispy and dreamy before plunging into harsh, foreboding rage. The rough vocals atop the music on Eternal Void Of Amnesia is simply a match made in heaven. Both the percussion and the signing noticeably ramp up in its intensity, and the juxtapositions becomes a pleasing episodic foray. However, that’s about where things conclude. 

Obviously, the EP is likely used as a way to drum up excitement and anticipation for future endeavours soon to come. Though Icosandria could have created a much bigger splash if it were beefed up with more songs or a longer composition here or there. What is established owes to the collective group’s experience and capability. I just yearn for more of that satisfying output in a larger release, which stands to reason. Some of that flair and success during this recording could be lost come the next album. At least what did come from it passes the smell test, albeit too fleetingly. 6/10

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