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Friday 8 September 2023

Reviews: Cryptopsy, Dying Fetus, Slomatics, Nasty (Reviews By Danika Ulrich, Matt Bladen, Rich Piva & AV4APod)

Cryptopsy - As Gomorrah Burns (Nuclear Blast) [Danika Ulrich]

For eleven years Canadian death metal pioneers Cryptopsy kept their fans waiting for a follow up to their self titled album. The long awaited As Gomorrah Burns has found the appropriate home with Cryptopsy joining label, Nuclear Blast Records. If you're a regular listener of the more extreme metal like I am, you know how difficult it gets to find bands who can still make you feel excited by the intensity of their music but, with the wait since their last it's safe to say there has been a massive buzz for what As Gomorrah Burns holds (and rightly so).

The album's opening track Lascivious Undivine accomplishes its purpose as a short but sharp punch with a powerful vocal performance at the song's climax and a nasty breakdown at the end. Sure, it’s a little generic for the band but a strong start to the album. Godless Deceiver features a groove that I wouldn't say is typical for their work but I can definitely get behind. 

Although, the drums are something from the earlier days of Cryptopsy. They relentlessly maintained throughout the whole nearly four minute track giving me no break before the next one. Track 6, The Righteous Lost, stands out the most to me. You never know what will happen next as the song alternates between pure heaviness to technical absurdity. A favourite part for me is the solo that appears towards the middle. No fancy riffing is used but rather played in a cryptic way that matches the bands signature style.

There is no doubt that the band has returned to take centre stage in the death metal arena. The sense of tech-death infuses every track. Whether it’s the structure or the tone I never knew where it was going next but I couldn't wait to hear more. It sounds more cultivated and contemporary whilst still paying homage to earlier albums. With the arrival of As Gomorrah Burns, Cryptopsy are now poised for another era of death metal supremacy. From beginning to end this is amongst the best death metal albums I've heard this year. 9/10

Dying Fetus - Make Them Beg For Death (Relapse Records) [Matt Bladen]

Why not Dying Fetus? This mantra has become a talisman for the metal fandom, whenever a band pulls out of a festival or a gig inevitably someone will shout or comment "why not Dying Fetus?" this is especially funny when it's a pop or alternative show/festival. The reason why this is so funny is that Dying Fetus are probably one of the most extreme metal bands on the block. Marble gargling vocals, discombobulating grooves, shredding lead breaks and more anger than Trump fans at the Democratic Party Convention, Dying Fetus have carved themselves as one of the leaders of brutal techincal metal. 

Make Them Beg For Death, the ninth album, sees the the band helmed by founder John Gallagher collaborating with longtime producer Steve Wright, not trying to reinvent the wheel, they have taken this long to nail down what they are as a band, so why would they change it? Mixed to ear splitting intensity by Mark Lewis, they beckon you to Enlighten Through Agony with the first song, but as they carry on the record brings Undulating Carnage, which is the best descriptor for it, they do the same with Unbridled Fury where the title explains what the track is going to sound like. It's almost like they are trying to pastiche by making things too obvious. 

Trey Williams, who obliterates his kit throughout, but especially on the stop start Raised In Victory, Razed In Defeat, mentioned that Make Them Beg For Death carries on where their last album left off, Dying Fetus content to let everyon else try to outdo each other while they churn out more disgusting death metal. The amount of noise this trio make is deafening Gallagher's guitar willdy flailing in patches as the bass of Sean Beasley looks set on gutting you like a salmon, both men trading roars and growls across these ten tracks. 

Inspired by the American death metal scene but adding industrial-like mechanical repetition in the grooves and slam metal beatdowns Dying Fetus are still right up at the peak of the heavy scale. Determined to Make Them Beg For Death, Dying Fetus pulverise as per. 8/10

Slomatics - Strontium Fields (Black Bow Records) [Rich Piva]

The Belfast, Northern Ireland band Slomatics have been around since the mid-2000s, pounding us into submission with their take on fuzzy, doomy sludge are ready to unleash their eighth full length, Strontium Fields. While the band has been around for a couple of decades, I have not spent too much time with their material, so let’s see if that changes after hanging out with the new one for a bit.

So, fuzzy doomy sludge is a pretty accurate description for the eight slow burners on Strontium Fields. The opener, Wooden Satellites crawls along, growling at you as you encounter it face to face. There is a crunch to it, and I can see immediately why the band is named as it is. I, Neanderthal sounds like some serious doom, with the opening guitar and synth riff (which I love), until the pace picks up (for them) and the big vocals takes over the track. But make no mistake, this is a colossal doom/sludge hybrid ready to take stuff out. Heavy, with a sense of atmosphere. 

The keys are the key here, and the next track, Time Capture, is the perfect encapsulation of this. This track is heavy in a different way, with pretty much just voice, synth, and drums practically pleading with the listener to understand and act accordingly. This track is a definite pivot from the rest of the album, yet still nicely fits the vibe. Like A Kind Of Minotaur sounds like a song called that should, with a killer crunchy riff and a heavy gallop of destruction leading the way. I love the synthy doom vibe. 

Voidians is the slowest of the slow burns, bringing the album to a literal crawl with a fuzzy riff that actually reminds me of Type O Negative. While nothing is bad, the last couple of tracks after the interlude type track Zodiac Arts Lab are very similar to the rest of the album which puts a bit of a drag on the record.

Strontium Fields gave me enough to go investigate more of why Slomatics have been around for so long ands have the following they do. I dig the doomy sludge vibe and the use of synths for sure. The atmospheric sludge heaviness is something that fans of that kind of work should dig when they check out Strontium Fields, but be warned the tail end seems a bit long and repetitive, but overall this is a strong album number eight from Slomatics. 7/10

Nasty - Heartbreak Criminals (Century Media Records) [Quinn Mattfeld @AV4Apod]

I have a deeply ingrained aversion to machismo. It's like an overly sensitive allergy or how the mole-people can smell residual sunlight on your skin… At first pass, Nasty sounds like music made by, for, and about guys who are mad at their ex-girlfriend(s). 

The lyrical refrain of the album opener, "All roses turn to dust…" ought only to add to my personal aversion to the record and yet, the sheer force of the music is undeniably thrilling, and at times, even moving.

Nasty are releasing what is their eighth album, Heartbreak Criminals and for a quartet of tattooed bros who consider their music “hardcore beatdown” something about the whole project is deceptively endearing. They also describe themselves as “Four dudes doing fucked-up music for a fucked-up world.” 

So one might watch the opening moments of the video for their 2015 release Shokka in which piles of cash and luxury cars are intercut with Uzis and dancing girls and miss the lyrics “Face reality / The face of Humanity / Endless cruelty / Violent demise in a State of Emergency!”

Nasty opens and closes the album like Pantera on meth and stomps unapologetically forward with lead vocalist Matthias Tarnath alternately channeling Fred Durst and Marilyn Manson on Reality Check, but something really interesting starts to change as we reach the title track. 

Gorgeous vocal melodies begin to sprout from the piles of ash left over from the album opener and deep into the record’s second-half, Kiss From A Rose has a wonderful moment of distinction in which the wall of sound drops and what is presumably the voice of Tarnath says, “fuck it” in an almost delightful belgian accent before the melody soars, finally descending into a cadence borrowed from American Hip-Hop. 

The first half of the record lacks the diversity of influences on it’s B-Side but Heartbreak Criminals is a sonic pummeling from a Hardcore, Groove, and Hip-Hop inspired quartet made infinitely more palatable for those of us who despise the swaggering bro-metal of Five Finger Death Punch and Breaking Benjamin by the virtue of the band originating in Belgium. 

If you’ve ever been to France, you know machismo is not an American export. And while Nasty showcases all the tropes of popularized American-male-aggression, like the music itself, that outward presentation is an armor for something much more vulnerable, human, and compelling. 8/10

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