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Friday 16 June 2023

Reviews: Boris And Uniform, Thy Catafalque, Elder Devil, Massasauga (Reviews By Mark Young, Paul Scoble, GC & Matt Bladen)

Boris & Uniform - Bright New Disease (Sacred Bones) [Mark Young]

Bright New Disease is a collaboration between Boris (heavy rocks) from Japan and Uniform from New York, two vastly different animals brought together by the pandemic and that need to continue to produce art that is reflective of the world around them. I have never heard either of them before this and from what I have read online it looks to be a meshing of psych rock and industrial. 

Let’s go.

You Are The Beginning sounds like the apocalypse, updated for 2023. Thrashy guitars, solo breaks that hit like prime Slayer in the abuse of the guitar and maniacal shouting over the top of it. its unstoppable and just tears a hole in your ears. 

Weaponised Grief keeps this sonic pummelling going. It’s pure, unrestrained fury somehow captured and distilled for popular use. This is how I imagined industrial should sound. No just blast beats you into a corner with some fantastic riffing going on with a face off between quasi normal singing and those angry shouts. This is some next level shit. It is simply awesome. The Look Is A Flame eschews the speed and goes for something dark and unsettling. Otherworld singing versus what appears to be a completely different song that somehow comes together. I can’t describe it other than there is nothing remotely like it anywhere else and I’m going to stop trying. 

The Sinners Of Hell (Jigoku) manages to convey what hell might actually sound like. This is a slow, almost hypnotic collection of percussion, of noise that follows some dark path. It’s one place I don’t want to visit again. Narcotic Shadow blindsides by starting with an almost Stranger Things synth, set against a dirty, scuzzy electronica beat. It is filthy sounding, and you can smell the cigarettes and spilt beer as they unleash a mad solo break with the synths still plugging in the background. They still make it sound as though it would the soundtrack to the most dangerous night club in the world. It’s fantastic. 

A Man From The Earth another change in direction, with a guitar that sounds as though it was made from rubber, it bends and shifts, and I can’t get a handle on it. This is not a collection of noise that’s been thrown together, this is calculated and is precise in its execution. 

Endless Death Agony surprisingly sounds like death-throes as it brings some great riffage, channelling some top thrash that loops back to You Are The Beginning without being a carbon copy. Its just so angry and its intent is just one of destruction. I mean it’s like Slayer levels of aggression, driving over cats and other small animals because its raging. Not Surprised begins with that sonic drone that mutates into the most gnarliest doom tone ever. Anguished screams, feedback is the order of the day here. It is literally the sound of the end of days, captured and released for your listening (dis)pleasure.

This is not for the faint of heart, and I’m assuming that if you are fan of either band then this is right up your street. For what it does in 30 odd minutes is remarkable as I don’t know of anyone else who sounds like this and makes it sound so effortless in doing it. It just batters you from start to finish, even in the lighter moments there is still something dark about it. 9/10

Thy Catafalque - Alföld (Season Of Mist) [Paul Scoble]

Thy Catafalque, the band name that Tamás Kátai for his work since 1999. In that time Tamás has released ten albums before Alföld, the last few have been reviewed in these pages and have always been received in a very favourable way. Obviously Tamás can’t play every instrument on his albums and tends to collaborate with many other artists, and this album is no different as he is joined by a large number of talented musicians on Alföld.

Tamás plays guitar, bass, keyboards, programming, and vocals, he is aided by Martina Veronika Horváth on vocals, Lambert Lédeczy on vocals, Bálint Bokadi on vocals, Gábor Dudás on vocals, Breno Machado on lead guitar, Daniele Belli on acoustic guitar and double bass, Dario Cei on flute, Chris Lyons on violin and viola, Ido Romano on Ney, Samuel Chacon on fretless bass and Austris Apenis on French horn.

Tamás has stated that this album is influenced by the early days of Thy Catafalque, when the band was a black metal act and had a rawer sound. This more extreme approach is evident in several of the songs, but so too are the elements that I think of as being Thy Catafalque’s sound, an amalgam of lots of different styles from Jazz, to folk, into electronica all melded into an avant garde metal whole.

This rawer sound is most evident on the first two songs, A Csend Hegyei and Testen Túl, and on the final track, Néma Vermek. A Csend Hegyei has a nineties death metal feel to it, it is full of dense and chuggy riffs and nasty harsh vocals, there is a melodic tremolo picked riff near the end, but this is mainly death metal. Conversely, second track Testen Túl has more of a black metal sense, there are beautifully rapid blast beats and some very good tremolo picked riffs that are a little reminiscent of Mare Cognitum, in how they are savage, but still full of melody.

Final track Néma Vermek, is less obviously extreme, but is very heavy in places and features very harsh vocal performance, there are some very interesting big synth riffs as well to temper the heaviness and harsh vocals, but this is mainly taut and extreme.

In between these more extreme moments we get songs like A Földdel Egyenlő, which initially carries the black metal over from the previous song, before a section that features electronica and fretless bass, some taut mid-paced riffing, a guitar solo, and more electronica with clean, chanted vocals. Title Track Alföld, has more tight riffing, some very heavy riffs that are backed up by huge sounding brass instruments, brooding electronics, some very beautiful vocals from Martina Veronika Horváth and ends with clean guitar.

Folyondár, opens with heavy riffs and brass, but then goes into a more measured section with an absolutely brilliant flute solo, followed by a brilliant violin solo, the backing track is great, but this track is all about the solos. Csillagot Görgető is a mix of chanted vocals, pagan metal style riffs, another great flute solo, and an ending that features a very tight riff and spoken word vocals. A Felkelő Hold Országa, is another of the more raw songs on Alföld, featuring some very heavy riffs that at one point have a death metal feel to them, the song is very driving and purposeful, and feels as if it is always moving forwards.

Alföld is another great album from Thy Catafalque. This is the third album from the band that I have reviewed and I will always be impressed by the way Tamás can make them all sound and feel different, and yet, as soon as I hear anything by Thy Catafalque it is instantly recognisable. Having such a distinctive sound, but to still be able to be constantly creative and original is a very clever trick to pull off, but this is what Tamás has done. I love how many influences you can hear on this album, all melded together in a way that feels natural and unforced, Thy Catafalque must be one of the most constantly creative acts in metal, and they have made yet another brilliant album, if you like creative metal, then this is essential. 9/10

Elder Devil - Everything Worth Loving (Prosthetic Records) [GC]

Described as abrasive grindcore that mixes in sludge and black metal, I’m not sure there was anyone who could like this mix of genres much more than me, so I am about to get involved with the latest Elder Devil album, freshly signed to Prosthetic Records and their stellar roster they are about to unleash Everything Worth Loving on us all and I for one cant wait to hear what it sounds like.

Endless Need waste no time in forcefully opening the album and is a relentless barrage of scathing vocals, blasting drums and razor-sharp riffs and it is all very grindcore but has enough of a blackened hardcore edge to carry the song along in an unrelenting fashion, The Hounds At Night continues with the bleak, blackened grind and has some great crusty d-beat sounding guitars this time around and here they throw in some slowed down mid-sections to add to the sound and pad everything out nicely because Awash In Light doesn’t give you any time to gather yourself and is a short, sharp and chaotic hardcore punk battering. 

My Body Is An Earthen Shrine is an epic in contrast at 3 minutes, its starts with the noisy and raucous punk but then slips into a sort of sludge/grind mix and never really becomes one thing or another rather an amalgamation of everything to create a sound of such disgusting impact you really must hear it to full appreciate it, New Grief is another dose of scathing hardcore punk that heroically mixes in more doses of sludgey d-beat goodness and you almost wonder how 4 humans can create such an unholy noise and then Insomnia creeps into being and they have dialled the speed-o-meter right down to doom o’clock here it lumbers its way forward and aims short and precise guitar attacks at you and you can absolutely feel every single word that is spat at you deep into your soul, the change of pace here is a great idea as breaking it up adds more intrigue and a mystery to what you hear. 

What Do You See? rumbles into life on a big heavy sounding drum fill that interweaves with the bass, and this then is rudely interrupted by abrasive and chaotic guitars and more of the speed shows but the end drones and drags along to once again throw you a curve ball and keep you on your toes, After Flesh then just throws everything it has directly into your face and is has a feral ferocity about it that is truly wonderful and manages again at then end to slow everything right down and drag you along to the end to wonder what the hell has just happened? 

Puncture Wound is a fairly straight forward affair compared to most of what has been on this offer it’s a good if not slightly long and mid paced grindocre song that has the now standard slowed down sections but for some reason I didn’t really connect fully with this song, it may come on repeated listens but this one sort of passed me by but Burning Forest had my full attention from second one and is probably what they do the best, scuzzy d-beat infused hardcore punk it’s a pure cacophony of noise and feedback and leaves you feeling shaken and confused in the best possible way and What Do You Hear? Has a hardcore stomp to it and mixes up metallic crunch with another healthy blast of speedy hardcore punk for good measure. Dismal And Alone unfortunately then adds nothing but 2 minutes of feedback and ambience and for me really shouldn’t have been included as it just seems completely pointless! But thankfully this is a rare off moment and Everything Worth Loving finally finishes us off with one last slab of brutally devastating sludge infused goodness.

Barring a couple of tracks this couldn’t have spoken to me more! Its dirty, heavy, uncomfortable, and downright brutal in most places and also has enough of a mix of everything to make you never really know exactly what is going on at any given time! It can confuse in places but it’s the sheer weight of chaos and the unrelenting nature of everything on offer here that just makes this an essential listen. 9/10

Massasauga – The Only Good Wizard Is A Dead Wizard (Self Released) [Matt Bladen]

If QOTSA focussed on the witch trials of the 17th Century rather than Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy, alcohol and Cocaine then they may sound a bit more like Coventry duo Massasauga (pronounced mass-sa-sar-gah). With Conrad Lummus (guitar/vocals) and Adam Stewart (drums), they churn out fuzzy, garage rock, based in the blues but swirling into psych tendencies. The grooves of Don’t Be Scared Of The Dark getting your head bobbing while the chugging Dungeon Crawler is proto-metal featuring guest vocals from Sam Shiers of Ambrius. 

Vocally Conrad shouts into an echoed mic with Josh Homme-like attitude, though I think there’s also lots of the greasy biker rock of Admiral Sir Cloudselley Shovell or Ten Foot Wizard too. Lyrically inspired by the witch hunts, this is a concept EP, drenched in Hammer Horror gore and a rock n roll authenticity that fellow two piece Royal Blood would kill for. With the atmospherics driven by the interlude in the middle No Peace In The Village and the synthy outro The Sorcerer’s ThemeThe Only Good Wizard Is A Dead Wizard is short, story driven EP with some choppy garage rock riffs. 7/10

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