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Thursday 21 September 2023

Reviews: Cannibal Corpse, Thy Art Is Murder, The Bites, Taz (Reviews By Erick Willand, Danika Ulrich, Matt Bladen & Rich Piva)

Cannibal Corpse - Chaos Horrific (Metal Blade Records) [Erick Willand]

Writing a review for a band as legendary as Cannibal Corpse can be a daunting task, right off the bat you have to figure out…where do I even begin. I mean it feels like only a few weeks ago they dropped Violence Unimagined, their 15th and possibly strongest album ever. That slab didn’t leave my play rotation for months. 

Not to mention the addition and continued participation of the equally legendary Eric Rutan who comes with his own Death Metal pedigree stretching back decades and bridges songwriting, playing and production. This is Cannibal Corpse, the only Death Metal band a normie might recognize the name of thanks to none other than Jim Carrey. A band who’s lead singer is called Corpsegrinder yet is known on Instagram for winning stuffed animals from claw machines…you literally can’t make this stuff up.

Of course I’m not here to just give you a stream of consciousness rant about the history or weirdness of this legacy Death Metal act, I’m here to stick my head in the Corpse blender, get my brain shredded and then report back. So with no further fuckery, on to Chaos Horrific!

The opening track on this gruesome slab is fittingly titled Overlords Of Violence and it delivers within seconds, of course that should not surprise you. A blast from the guitars, a rumbling bass line and we’re off to the slaughter properly. Driving rhythm and guitar noodling in bucket fulls and there are no stops on this meat train ride as you are bodily hurled right into Frenzied Feeding. Fast and aggressive like a proper zombie chow down, until the slow part comes and it’s down right belligerent. Corpsegrinder is great at this moment, deep and gravel laden he just sounds mean and I’m here for it. I spin Frenzied Feeding again before being Summoned For Sacrifice by a thick swirling riff and thunderous drums. Rutan shines on this one and the chorus is just plain sing-along fun.

Blood Blind might just be one of my new favorite Cannibal Corpse songs, when you hear the fade in for “Subjugate, subjugate, subjugate!” you can’t help but get sucked right in. Prime work and sure to be a crowd fav in the live setting. Vengeful Invasion will also fall into that slot, the song's riffs literally stick to the inside of your skull. Leading of course right to the colorful title track Chaos Horrific and the riff assault begins instantly, a vicious, tight rampage like being locked in a metal box and tossed down a large hill but your descent is somehow controlled and precise. Such fun. 

There’s so much meat on this album and Rutan’s addition to the fold continues to prove a very solid choice. Fracture And Refracture is brutal as you expect but with a cool almost lazy riff throughout the song that gives it a unique vibe and fits nicely with the solo, which is the best on the album easily. Pitchfork Impalement gives me classic Corpse vibes with its speed and swagger. Pestilential Rictus comes galloping in with some fun thrashy vibes and brilliant guitar work that feels crisp and amazingly well timed. Final track Drain You Empty has this same…touch. Both songs are just very well made Death Metal made by craftsmen at the height of their art and still enjoying it immensely. That comes through on this whole album. 

And the cover art…Vincent Locke hits the tension of a zombie attack just right, what more can I say I’ve liked his work since his Deadworld comics. The verdict is simple in the end. 9/10

Thy Art Is Murder - Godlike (Human Warfare) [Danika Ulrich]

Australian extreme metal giants Thy Art Is Murder are back with 10 tracks of deathcore dominance. Their blistering sixth full-length album, released via their own label Human Warfare, shows signs that new directions are being pursued. Titled Godlike, Thy Art explores new dimensions and complexities without surrendering a single bit of the intensity you find in their older work. But instead of just delivering the hardest breakdowns conceivable, the emphasis is shifting more towards storytelling.

The band's growth in songwriting is instantly on display in the first track, Destroyer Of Dreams, with its opening breakdown. In addition to the blasting guitars, thunderous growl increases intensity of the track as he joins in with his deathly bellows and high screams. Without a doubt, this is the best start to a Thy Art Is Murder album. It's a glimpse of things to come, from the drums and palm mutes to the haunting lead guitar that joins sinister vocals. Blood Throne has some extremely fun groove sections whilst single Join Me In Armageddon has dreary melodies that successfully create an impending state of doom. Gang vocals during the chorus heighten the feeling of perilousness. It hits as hard as anything else they have put out whilst omitting blast beats.

Track 4, another single from the album, is Keres. This is my personal favourite, I’ve listened to the whole album multiple times but this has been repeated by me for days. The title is derived from Greek mythology and means spirits of death. This song is undoubtedly a metal anthem with it's pounding choruses and verses paired with a frenzied riff. I can imagine it being the one to rile fans up the most when it comes to performing these new tracks live.

Through its eerie low-gain guitar parts, Everything Unwanted throws gloom down strongly. This is the closest thing Thy Art Is Murder will ever get to a ballad. A gloomy, melancholy intro explodes into an unstoppable hit where the vocals have more force. Low growls are definitely more prominent in this track. At the halfway point we get Lesson In Pain. A song that perfectly captures the extreme brutality of Thy Art, fusing ominous lead guitars with vicious deathcore riffs. Strikes of savage guitars and unnerving screams make it a fitting title. Title track, Godlike, is once more nothing short of brutal and features drummer Jesse at his finest. Corrosion perfectly captures the band's signature sound, which includes intensely exhilarating and chunky riffs, ferociously pounding drums and some of the best deathcore screams and growls in the album.

The main attraction throughout the album has been the louring grooves but, these take a backseat in Anathema. As a chaotic blast beat bridge bellows, the vocals become much more jarring. This led way to gloriously harsh riffs with a gruelling breakdown that sounds as unnerving as it does vicious at the tracks end. The final song, Bermuda, brings everything to a close. With a melancholic beginning and an eerie EDM beat, poignant growls while the track descends into even murkier territory. This stands out from the album's other songs. Unearthly guitars set the tone followed by new realms of guttural screams. The vocals perfectly complement the massive guitars and drums with such emotion. Bermuda as an ending was unexpected. The song wouldn't be as impactful in any other place but, it perfectly closes out a spectacular and sincere album.

With unrelenting effort, Thy Art Is Murder has arose as one of Australia's biggest and best extreme metal bands. Godlike is in my eyes vastly different from any previous Thy Art album. In terms of sound, I can only say that it is fuller than earlier albums. It still captures the spirit of their previous work but results in an album that feels enormous in comparison. Outstanding, 10/10

The Bites - Squeeze (Earache Records) [Matt Bladen]

From Hollywood USA, The Bites play rock n roll, unashamed, retro rock n roll. Garage rock fuzz, party choruses and a glam rock stomp The Bites make 36 minutes fly by with a macho swagger that will appeal to fans of The Struts and Dirty Honey. Jordan Tyler is a music obsessive, dressed to kill and imbued with the confidence and charisma of the best rock frontmen, he started the band with Mark Hylander as a drummer/producer, adding guitarists Dustin Coon, Joni Richer and bassist Zack Currier ready to record this debut. 

From the Acca/Dacca strut of Love Affair, the sleazy Heather Leather and the filthy Wild Animal. Squeeze uses the best rock styles of the 60's, 70's and 80's for a jukebox of frivalous rock n roll which you can just hear the influence of Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Status Quo, The Stones and even The Hives on the jiving fuzz of the title track. Ripe with double entendres, lust and lyrics that would probably get them cancelled if they weren't a throwback and from L.A. Try not to focus on the lyrics themselves, just listen to the music, crack open a beer and get your rocks off to The Bites. 8/10

Taz - Wake Up And Sweat, Vol. 1 & Shipwrecked, Vol. 2 (Eonian Records) [Rich Piva]

There are so many bands in the days when hair metal was huge that took the pilgrimage to the Sunset Strip and did their best to become rock stars. Most did not get much past recording demos and playing some shows with their own material. Some bands who were top level talents that had every reason to break through just didn’t. While some others who could barely hold their instruments became global superstars. 

For every Poison there were a hundred bands like Taz, who are one of the ones who inexplicably never saw any success, which boggles the mind after listening to the complete anthology of their career on two volumes, Wake Up And Sweat, Vol. 1 and Shipwrecked, Vol. 2. I had never heard of these guys, but after just mentioning them on my little corner of Twitter there was an excitement for Taz that was hard not to get caught up in. There was a great EP, a duper talented and magnetic frontman, and great songs that should have catapulted these guys to at the very least a big record deal, but it was not to be. I was specifically pointed to the Cold Shoulder EP, which was the only official material that was released. 

These two sets however contain everything ever put to tape by the band, which for a fan and collector it is cool, but the recording quality of some of the demos and the live stuff is pretty rough to say the least, but if you hang in there are some real gems that point to the fact that these guys were great and should have been as big as any band coming out at the time.

The first batch of demos on Volume One are raw, glam metal goodness with the lead singer, the talented Kent Kleven, sounding a lot like Brett Michaels, and are the types of songs with the right studio slickness would have put these guys on Dial MTV for sure. You can hear bits of a lot of bands that made it big from that scene in Taz, including a band from Baltimore, Kix, especially on the fun Rock N Roll Rodeo

The next batch of demos, still pretty raw is highlighted by I’ll Wait, which reminds me of Poison’s Fallen Angel, but with a cooler riff. The next batch of songs are way more professionally recorded, and now you can get a bit more insight into why these guys should have been huge. Sex (88) is perfect hair metal. A bit funky and super fun, exactly what the kids were looking for back then. I love L.A. Danger Zone, a super catchy sleaze anthem that is perfect. There are bits of Crue, Kix, Bang Tango, and Ratt in these tracks and I am here for it. But on these tracks, I can’t shake the Poison vibes, try to when listening to She Does Bad Things Good (88). The rawness reminds me of Too Fast For Love as well. 

I dig when Kleven goes all Steve Whiteman with his vocals rather than Brett Michaels, like on Political Song which is another of my favorites. The last four tracks on Volume One are from a different session that has a bit more of an edge and a bit more polish, and I believe were the actual EP that saw the light of day. Cold Shoulder kicks ass and is a track that leans towards the Kix side of things while Bad Religion is a bluesy number that shows a bit of maturity from the band. Tattoo You musically reminds me of L.A. Guns with Brett Michaels on vocals and it works just fine. Fun stuff.

Volume Two starts out with four tracks produced by Rob Cavallo, who went on to work with a whole bunch of huge names that you would know, and you can tell the difference. These tracks sound like a heavier Cinderella. Shipwrecked is a hair metal banger, No Relation has a sweet riff and is dripping Sunset Strip sleaze, and Father McGee is catchy and would have been a great addition to a full length that never happened. Volume Two is for fans only for sure, as the next batch of demos are cool songs but pretty raw and the live tracks are really for the diehards who want to either relive of try to get a glimpse of what the band was like in person.

Sometimes life is not fair, and Taz is an example of this. They had the songs, the talent, the charisma, but just not the luck. Check out Volume One first of you are into this type of stuff and if you really dig it dive into Volume too. This was a lot of fun and frustrating, because give me these songs over most of what was on Open Up And Say Ahh any day. 7/10

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