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Thursday 26 October 2023

Reviews: Autopsy, Mangeld Carpenter, Falling Stars, Immortal Guardian (Reviews By Paul Hutchings, Mark Young, Rich Piva & Manos Sideris)

Autopsy – Ashes, Organs, Blood And Crypts (Peaceville) [Paul Hutchings]

We waited eight years for Morbidity Triumphant, but only just over a year for the follow-up. Such is the way with Death Metal legends and whilst Morbidity Triumphant certainly sated the thirst which had been parching fans of the old school, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing. Ashes, Organs, Blood And Crypts is another blistering listen and demonstrates that class is permanent.
It's evident that the return to the studio, and the universally positive response to the eighth album has fired the demons, for Autopsy are in raging form throughout this 41-minute opus. With the horrific yet expected cover art from long-time collaborator Wes Benscoter adding to the overwhelming gruesomeness on offer, the 11 tracks provide few options for pauses, despite the initial hope on the mid-section of the brutal opener Rabid Funeral, which at least slows enough to catch the breath after a frantic first few minutes.
There’s more crushing doom liberally distributed through the album. The slow start to No Mortal Left Alive is quickly dispersed as the battery is unleashed. The vocals are harrowing, the cross over of drummer Chris Reifert and guitarist Eric Cutler chilling, matching the sombre mood of the track, which drifts back to the slower, pulverising heaviness that could crush bone. This continues for the first two minutes of Well Of Entrails, before another explosive burst sees screaming lead solos rip through the track. It’s fair to say that Autopsy have never sounded better.
It’s the combination of grinding doom laced with such a bruising atmosphere that makes Autopsy so loved. Their early albums were classics of the genre, and here, with songs like the pulverising Bones To The Wolves, the ferocity of Toxic Death Fuk and the dark finale Coagulation simply abuse the aural senses. It doesn’t disguise some phenomenal playing which is intense, focused, relentless.
With the line-up settled following the arrival in 2021 of bassist Greg Wilkinson, who makes his second recording appearance with the band, this is a masterful piece of work. Gnarly as ever, their uncompromising themes are gory, full of death, horror, and sickening humour. But you wouldn’t want Autopsy any other way. 9/10

Mangled Carpenter - Salvation Syndrome (Rottweiler Records And Broken Curfew Records) [Mark Young]

Monterey Grindcore/Death Metal three-piece Mangled Carpenter bring their second full length release for your attention. Kicking off with Lumberyard, released in September in advance and it is as rapid as you like. 

The drumming is something else on this, the footwork is beyond fast, and it fires along like you wouldn’t believe. Step forward Mac Hine with display here that is just amazing and is continued all the way through. A Path To Sorrow (with Chris Ackerman) is just a stomper, the guitar on this is just brutal and then it takes off in a similar way to a sermon from hell. They Already Know displays more of that phenomenal foot speed, set against what feels like a slowly played out riff. 

Its not, its just the feet are moving that quickly. Its not just battery, it’s a controlled attack that sees it close and allow Salvation Syndrome to come in and set the place on fire, part light speed, part stop-start chord stabs that just continues to push forward, cutting and slicing into Severed which is just razor sharp which some classic high-low vocals. It’s a maelstrom of grind served up in 3 minutes and 48 seconds.

Faith Delusion takes the attack and distils it further, taking its attack on the Church reducing its narrow beam of focus into a sub-three-minute battering. Spit Parade (Ft Jason Wisdom) brings in some gnarly, elastic riff patterns all while the feet of flame continue to carpet bomb with an Industrial feel seeping into this one.

Whilst looking at their socials, Vocalist Seth Metoyer seemed a familiar name and yes, he’s a producer of a film I reviewed for Morbidly Beautiful, Murdercise which is a call back to the neon lit, dayglo fitness / slasher craze of the 80’s. Anyway, back to the album. J-G-S-H is that short, rapid grindcore that just blasts. Receive Him (ft Rob Clark) is the lords prayer set to noise and done.

In terms of what it is, its aggressive, direct and shows that they are capable of more than just super-fast songs that blow past In an instant. Some of it, despite liking the way they are put together and marvelling at how they are played something didn’t click. I liked it because I wish I had the same level of ability as these, but I didn’t love it. 7/10

Falling Stars - Lonely No More (Tee Pee Records) [Rich Piva]

It is not very often I get to review a band where Guided By Voices is mentioned in the band’s bio, but here we are with the Ohio based band Falling Stars, who come from all sorts of veteran indie rock bands including Cobra Verde, who you could play six degrees of GBV with a get the connect on the first try. I do not mention Guided By Voices much in my reviews and for good reason considering the blog I write for has metal in the title, but Bob Pollard and company are my all-time favorite band without debate. 

I know, I am the stoner rock/80s bands who put out albums in 2023 guy, but GBV is my all-time band. So, they have that going for them, plus they are putting out their latest album, Lonely No More, on Tee Pee Records, who pretty much never miss. This makes sense considering Tee Pee has released the Sweet Apple records from which Falling Stars share members. I love how Tee Pee has this indie rock leaning to go along with the killer heavy psych and stoner stuff they are more known for. So, let’s see what we have here…

We have some indie rock power pop that leverages all sorts of influences, including the aforementioned GBV, Dinosaur Jr., Wilco, late era Replacements, and other bands from that time and place. The opener has a Pollard meets Tweedy vibe and is a bright, catchy, and yummy pop song. I bet these guys love Cheap Trick too. Later era Westerberg and the boys influence play prominently on Lonely No More, with tracks like Floating Away and how about some catchy XTC vibes with Sky Is Falling

Love that fuzz guitar solo. Love Is Enough channels early Wilco via Minnesota and is more excellent indie pop rock while Indigo is a Children Of Nuggets inspired ditty. Tell Me What You Want is straight up Dinosaur Jr. worship (check out the J style solo, I had to check to see if he was guest starring) and that is fine by me. More Wico vibes return with the county rock twang of Walk Don’t Run. A nice cover of Tom Petty’s Walls closes out this short and very enjoyable trip back to a scene I cannot get enough of, even if it was 30 plus years ago.

An excellent indie pop record for 2023 is a gift that Falling Stars is giving to us as an early Christmas present. Leveraging all the goodness from the Midwest indie rock scene of the late 90s and early 2000s and more, Lonely No More is perfect for those of you who were digging that scene now and still do today. 8/10

Immortal Guardian - Unite & Conquer (Massacre Records) [Manos Sideris]

Immortal Guardian’s sophomore album is undoubtedly an ambitious effort. Unite And Conquer is a solid step forward for this flamboyant 4-piece out of Las Vegas, USA. The band already gave a taste of their technical proficiency and overall mastery in their first record Psychosomatic, and now returns to pick up where they left off.

Melodic Power Metal with neoclassical elements, down-tuned heavy riffs, catchy choruses and Latin flair seem to be the order of the day as Immortal Guardian tears it up in a balanced record that included heavy songs, incredible breakdowns, sentimental deeper tracks and a few well written ballads. My personal favorites were Echoes with its neverending chorus (Freedoooom stuck in my mind for ever), Perfect Person a well balanced banger, Divided We Fall with nice riffs and the use of a choir, Un Dia A La Vez a drumless ballad that very well manages to give me a minute to catch my breath before the Rise Of The Phoenix which is probably my favorite track of the record. 

Heavy riffs give way to frantic keyboard solos, drum solos, and great melodies soar over majestic minor chord progressions. Here the guys push all the right buttons. The outro is a great way to end this record and overall this song would probably be the one I would suggest to a new listener as it encapsulates almost everything you need to hear of this band in a nice balanced 5 minute outing.

I admit I did not know Immortal Guardian going in for this review. The guys definitely have chops, that is for sure. Songwriting is there at the top, so is production which although crystal clear, is what I like to call soullessly perfect! Such is my opinion for some of the new age productions that sound perfect in all variables but sometimes tend to lack the soul of the records of old. The record is self-produced as Gabriel Guardian (guitar/keys) and Joshua Lopez (bass) have done all the work in mixing and mastering along with Jesse Zato. 

Besides production, which is definitely not bad, just not my cup of tea, the only other thing that bothered me a bit was Carlos Zema’s vocals that most of the time were all the way up there in the high registers and seemed to not mesh with all songs while other times were a bit tiring for my ears. In general the band showed flashes of utmost brilliance with this record, but only for a few moments here and there. Had there been more, and this would be a perfect score. 8/10

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