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Friday 23 February 2024

Reviews: Desolate Tomb, Craneium, Seum, Vincent Crowley (Reviews By GC, Rich Piva, Mark Young & James Jackson)

Desolate Tomb - Scorned By Misery (Rottweiler Records) [GC]

Another week, another brutal death metal release for me, nothing changes! This week though it’s one-man band, Dakota Whiteside who has created Desolate Tomb and is about to release his second album Scorned By Misery. I am always slightly dubious about BDM bands as they never really deliver on their promises of unrivalled brutality, they always seem to have dubious titles and lyrics and usually are just a bit boring to be honest! And with that ringing endorsement let’s get on with it!

It all kicks off with Scorned By Misery which has the first of a few different guest appearances on vocals, this is from Jon Davenport of Cultist, and it’s instantly better than I was expecting! You can make out all the guitars that produce a clean and precise sound, the drums don’t drown everything out and the vocals aren’t the standard pig squeals nonsense usually thrown on top, really, it’s a more old school death metal approach with some more modern day heaviness added in to freshen it up.

The Hands That Mar is an absolute pleasure to listen to and it’s all Dakota on this track and he more than handles all sections of the music and vocals with brilliant dexterity and hellish playing, buzzing and chugging riffs fight with punching double bass drumming and when you hear the vocals you wonder why he bothered getting any guests at all!? 

Writhing In The Bowels Of Hell has guest vocals form Robert Manzone and the back and forth between both works well and mixes nicely with the more blackened death metal style of this track and it is actually fairly on the brutal side as well, which is a nice twist of styles early in the album and keeps you on your toes throughout, we do get some pig squeals here though that feel a bit unnecessary if I am honest but there are some HUGE beatdowns included which make everything better in the end! 

All Is Dust has Matthew McNamara AND Sam Dishington of Separatist lending their vocals and it all starts out in a very hardcore way, which is always a bonus and once it all gets going it’s a more deathcore vibe mixed with some more blackened death metal and all the vocals are thrown about and twisted in between this mentalness and its gloriously OTT and I LOVE IT! Tormented By The Succubus is back to just the main man and once again doesn’t suffer from this it’s a blasting and punishing run though of top-class brutality and is so refreshing that there have been so many different ways the music has come across because usually by now, I start to give up on usual BDM, not today though!! 

Sheepskin is good but doesn’t really stand out from the rest of the tracks and is slower and more measured in places and while it isn’t bad it just feels like it doesn’t fit with the rest of the album. Spitting Nails begins on a thudding beatdown riff but with a slowed down tempo and as it builds up the hardcore influence seeps back in and throws in another curveball style wise and bar the odd blast here and there it sticks mainly with the slowed pace which works well. 

Yearning Maw has the last of the guest vocals from Jaden Pruitt of Squelching and here we get a definite deathcore influence and it’s the good type as well full of scathing guitars and hectic drumming it’s a whirlwind of violence the only thing is I’m not sure the guest vocals are needed as they don’t add much to the song as a whole. Trail Of Tears tales far too long to start and when it does it’s another one of those you think probably could have been left off, it does have some nice breakdowns but that’s about it, finally The Suffering Fields closes things out and does so in a decent way with a brutal slab of deathcore that hits all the right notes.

I have to say I really enjoyed Scorned By Misery its shows you can do brutal death metal and not be boring, predictable, and lazy, most of the songs were energetic and heavy as a stone elephant, even the not so decent songs were still worth a listen. If you like your music with absolutely no remorse or subtlety this is for you. 9/10

Craneium - Point Of No Return (The Sign Records) [Rich Piva]

Point Of No Return is the fourth album from Finnish psych/desert rock band Craneium and continues the trend of the band delivering the good every time they put something out. This time we have six soundscapes that lean more on the psychedelic side of things with some of that desert rock goodness and even post rock leanings. Regardless of what you label it, Point Of No Return is an excellent fourth outing.

The super melodic and swirling One Thousand Sighs kicks us off and it sounds huge. This is the biggest sounding record from Craneium, and the clean but not over produced sound emanating from my speakers is perfect for these six tracks. There are layers upon layers of sounds on One Thousand Sighs. Its atmospheric when it wants to be but can still deliver a nice crunch. I hear Hum as a good reference point musically, but the vocals are on a different path, demonstrated at about the four-minute mark of this first track. The Sun is the most rocking track on Point Of No Return, leveraging more of their stoner/desert side with a nice and fuzzy ripper. 

Now, A Distant Shore is where the psych flag starts flying, with the tempo slowed, the bass rolling, and the song length extended, this one shows a ton of texture and atmosphere over its seven-plus minutes…but just wait until it starts to really rock just before the five-minute mark. Next, we have …Of Laughter And Cries which starts us with a nice riff and brings along a huge, multi-layered chorus to go along with the other big sounds created. Things Have Changed even incorporates some grunge elements to the psych desert vibes, and I love how the vocals work with the music on this one. Search Eternal brings a bit of that heaviness that is sprinkled across parts of the six tracks, with more huge sounding vocals partnering with all that sound.

The fourth Craneium album makes me as happy as all the others have. Have they increased the quality of their music? Not sure, but they have a great discography, so saying that Point Of No Return is on par with the rest of their stuff is a high complement. Great stuff. 8/10

Seum - Live At CJLO (Self Released) [Mark Young]

Seum are a bass only sludge band, hailing from Montreal and formed by veterans of the doom scene – Lord Humungus on vocals, Mlah! on bass and Uluun on drums. Live At CJLO is a free EP, timed for release to celebrate the first anniversary of their second album, Double Double which is a nifty way of saying thank you as well as getting their art out there. In their own words, it can also be taken as a Spicy appetizer for their next release due later this year.

And this is very spicy. Very spicy indeed.

This is stripped-back, harsh almost primordial stuff as Lord Humungus spits his lyrics as an almost primal release. The bass continually drove each song forward and is locked in with the drums, offering up an ungodly groove. A deliciously thick bass tone which other sludge bands would give their arms for coupled with their ability to write songs that take that sludge approach and meld it with punk gives their songs that little bit more of a punch. It more than makes up for the lack of guitar and you can understand why they have gone down this route. There’s no histrionics or displays of guitar wankery, the bass does the work and here Mlah! does it well.

The four songs presented are decent enough, Snow Bird kicking off as a mid-tempo vehicle that soon shows what they are all, constant movement. This is scuzzy stuff and for a radio set, they do a good job of capturing that live grit. Razorblade Rainbow has a more subtle feel despite it relying on the throat-shredding vocals of the Lord instead of a full-on attack. When it does come in that command of the riff is there, and on Seum Noir which starts with one of those monstrous riffs and the screams of the Lord. Its massive and you can only imagine what it must have hit like in person. 

Towards the end of this one there is some fiendish bass being deployed and then we are into Torpedo, which to me hits the most like traditional sludge which says a lot about the variance in each song here. There are no feelings of familiarity and there is a great sense of originality running through. Even with it being the most traditional it still has that movement to it; you can’t help but nod along to it.

Sludge isn’t for everyone, certainly sludge without guitar might appeal even less but over the course of the 4 songs they prove that you don’t need a guitar to be able to rock out. Each of the songs is heavy without relying on a boring riff repeated ad nauseum. There is that punk feel to it, maybe not in how the songs are written but definitely in how they are delivered. This is almost pure, unrefined sludge brought to you by three individuals who know how it should be done. Just like sludge / doom, its not for everyone but those who are craving new listening experiences should get on to this. 7/10

Vincent Crowley - Anthology (Hammerheart Records) [James Jackson]

When you think of Horror Movie scores there are the familiar tropes that automatically spring to mind, the buzzing of flies, the chilling string arrangements and of course the Demon summoning chants in a foreign tongue, Vincent Crowley have utilised all of these, plus more, in the aptly titled Intro, upon the second album released under the name, Crowley himself was previously the frontman for Death/Black Metal act Acheron.

Leading into the Amityville’s Horror the ambience of horror film score paths the way to a Death Metal ode to the classic film and the “true life” events that inspired it; vocally Crowley reminds me of Cancer vocalist/guitarist John Walker, a style which is still guttural but additionally coherent, it’s not all blast beats and frenetic riffing either, it’s more melodic, down tempo with touches of symphonic harmony.

Cthulhu inspired That Which Lurks In The Sea follows, there’s a vocal trick which brings to mind Morbid Angel’s Where The Slime Live, gloomier riffs are accompanied by a pounding bass drum, a church bell rings, a chorus of haunting voices conjures the eerie nature of Old Gods and the Lovecraftian mythos. Under The Hanging Tree is a far more powerful and melodic statement, sweeping solos and picked guitar parts ensure that this track stands out against the Old School Death Metal of previous tracks, it’s a tale of witchcraft and thematically fitting.

Nowhere To Hyde gives you a pretty good clue within its title as to where the inspiration for this track comes from, there’s definitely an element of duality within the song, the contrast between the parts hinting at the conflict within the titular character. Blood Moon Lycanthropy carries the theme, opening with a double bass drum attack beneath a riff that holds a contagious groove to it; a stripped down bridge allows a change of pace before offering an almost Doom like pace, before catapulting the listener into a more traditional Death Metal riff and tempo. Gods Of Crimson Cullings sets off with a rather somber tone to it, it’s a sentiment that returns throughout the song, amidst the more familiar Death Metal themes. Coupe De Poudre and Madam Laveau round out a rather solid album, two tales of zombification and Voodoo Queens.

The CD version of Anthology, of which I have had to review, contains a cover song of Killer, originally performed by King Diamond on the 1995 album The Spider’s Lullabye, a track that doesn’t appear on the digital version, so for fans of Old School Death Metal and King Diamond, the physical version would appear to be the best option. Whilst I’ve never hidden my aversion to the kind of Death Metal acts that never veer from the course, this blend of symphonic elements, Doomy atmospherics and the obvious Death Metal tropes makes for an interesting listen, whether I’ll play it again is highly doubtful but for now it’s been a worthy listen. 6/10

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