Altarage – MMXV Demo (2015)

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AltarageMMXV Demo (Sentient Ruin Laboratories / Sol Y Nieve, 27 September 2015)

 

Well. Yesterday was pretty much a crap day. I’m not going to go into details because I don’t want to waste time dwelling on it (and you don’t care anyway) but from beginning to end, it was just one of those, like okay what else can go wrong next and why did I even get out of bed today, kind of days.

But today is going to be better, I’m sure of that. It’s still early in the morning and I still feel like I’m sleepwalking, but I’m starting the day off right — filling my ears with angry, aggressive sounds that I’ll gladly share with all of you. We all have a bad day now and then, and could probably use some help coping with it.

So I offer you: Altarage, a mysterious death metal band from Bilbao, in the Basque region of northern Spain. A few months ago the good folks at California’s Sentient Ruin let me know about this band’s two-song demo entitled MMXV, which is very dark and twisted and everything you need to turn that frown upside-down (and then contort it into a kind of devilish scowl)…

 

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Anicon – Aphasia (2015)

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AniconAphasia (self-released 06 May 2015; cassette via Acteon Records, 15 September 2015)

 

It’s Friday and the work week has ended and I’m all ready to kick off the weekend by heading out to the Slaves BC record release show! For those of you who aren’t close enough to Pittsburgh to make it here this evening, though, I’ve got something for you to keep yourself occupied — a band I first discovered when I saw them at another Slaves show…

About two and a half years ago, I went to see them with another excellent local band, Storm King, at this rinky-dink little dive in Pittsburgh called Kopec’s. The performance area was more like the living room of a run-down old apartment upstairs from the bar — a cool little space, which has been sadly missed ever since they stopped hosting shows later that same year. Anyway, that night was a special treat because a third band also played, whom I was not previously familiar with, but who definitely grabbed my attention and impressed everyone in the room with their energy and high-quality musicianship: the New York black metal group Anicon. Here is a video from their set that night, to give you a taste of what’s in store.

As one does when seeing a really good band from out-of-town play, I remember wanting to patronize their merch table, but as I recall they only had cassette tapes for sale, and since this is the twenty-first century, I had to leave empty-handed. Well, fast-forward to mid-2015, and I discovered that Anicon had put out a new EP. They said they had recorded it themselves in their practice space, intending for it to serve as a demo for a full-length due out sometime in 2016. But practice space demo or not, “Aphasia” still landed a spot on my list of last year’s best releases. Keep on reading (or just skip the next bit and head down to the part where you get to hear it for yourself) and I’m sure you’ll understand why.

 

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Crawl – Crawl Demo

 

CrawlCrawl Demo (self-released, 12 October 2012)

So who’s in the mood for some heavy doom with a nice dose of southern sludge??

Don’t bother answering that; it was a rhetorical question. Here we go…

There have been a few bands called Crawl over the years, but this one formed in Atlanta, in spring 2012. Most of what I hear coming out of Georgia nowadays is rather fuzzy and stonery; it’s clear these guys draw from SOME of the same influences as their fellow statesmen, but they also incorporate some darker elements of west coast doom and the weightiness of gulf coast sludge, for an amalgam that’s definitely worth checking out.

 
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Meth Quarry Interview: Pittsburgh’s Grim Hardcore Assault!

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Folks, if you’ve had your ear to the ground over the past few months you might have noticed that there has been some rumbling coming out of the dark underworld of hardcore. There has been so much hype swirling around the crusty, grimy beast known as Meth Quarry lately, that the band has reached a nearly mythical status — without having played a single show yet!

But all of that is about to change, because these guys are finally ready to come crawling out of the dank cellar of Pittsburgh’s underground and expose the good people of the Steel City to their grim “dirge” hardcore style. Last weekend I met up with the quintet (guitarists Chris Smith and Kevin Hogue, bassist Aaron Kaczynski, vocalist Adam Joseph Bailey, and drummer Brandon “Fluffy” Baker) to talk about the story of the band’s formation and what sort of things they’ve got on the horizon — I joined them at one of their rehearsals, which took place in the basement of Kevin’s house, so when I say “crawling out of the cellar” I actually mean it literally…

 
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Supervoid – Endless Planets EP

 

SupervoidEndless Planets EP (self-released, 11 November 2012)

Good afternoon, all you fine people! How are things where you are? Here it’s been rainy and nasty, and of course it’s Monday which is never good, but I’m actually feeling pretty good. For one thing, the day’s over, which means I get to go home. But mostly, I’m starting to feel healthy again!

You may have noticed things have been quiet around here for a while. Part of the reason is all the normal crap that keeps me busy and unable to write as often as I’d like to. But a bigger part — at least for the past two weeks or so — is the fact that I have felt like absolute garbage. My normal yearly sinus infection, which tends to completely drain my energy and make my whole body tired and sore for a few weeks (plus my chest, throat, nose and sinuses feeling congested and clogged — which is miserable enough as it is, but also makes it tough for me to listen to music because my ears don’t work right and my head hurts from feeling stuffed up and in general I’m in a very foggy and cloudy state). But I’ve been to the doctor and got some antibiotics, and they’ve finally started taking effect over the past day or two, so I definitely feel like I’m on the road to recovery.

I’m still pretty exhausted and blah, but no more than on any other workday. So, hooray for just feeling marginally lousy, rather than completely and utterly terrible! BUT ENOUGH ABOUT ME.

With a few exceptions, I’ve really been slacking as far as writing anything here, and I’ve been especially remiss in my duties to share new music with you readers. Here it is, nearly the end of the year, and I’ve got a virtual stack of music I’ve yet to write about, which figuratively is towering over me as I sit here. I’d better get moving!

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Here, for example, is something that I’ve been hanging onto for the past few weeks, and kept meaning to write about and share with you — because it’s a really incredible discovery, and I sure hope you all aren’t upset that I didn’t tell you about it sooner!

Endless Planets is the debut release from a relatively new band from the Pittsburgh area called Supervoid. Formed in 2011 by a couple Dethlehem ex-pats, and current and/or former members of several other bands across the region, the band decided to take time to perfect their style of space-rock/stoner/psychedelic/prog-metal before revealing themselves to the public. (By the way, check out this interview with The Sludgelord for more information about the band’s formation and their journey up to this point in their career.)

They had their debut performance at the end of August, and a few more shows since then, attracting a good bit of attention in the local music scene along the way. During that time, the band got together at Pittsburgh’s Treelady Studios to lay down some demo tracks — which they then decided to release in the form of this two-song EP.

Clocking in at around sixteen minutes, Endless Planets serves as a great introduction to Supervoid, as it showcases the band’s talent and is representative of the range they span as performers and songwriters. Plus, it’s available to download for free, so you have no reason not to grab yourself a copy — and once you do, you’ll understand why everyone who has seen this band has been so impressed, and you’ll find yourself anxiously watching to see where this quintet is heading next…

 
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Slaves BC – we mean nothing. EP

 

Slaves BCwe mean nothing. EP (self-released, 26 October 2012)

 
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PREFACE/DISCLAIMER:

Somehow this article turned out way longer than I originally intended, and the majority of it is way off-topic.

If you’re a big fan of my rambly writing style, feel free to keep reading.

But if you’re just interested in reading about some quality crust/hardcore/metal with a sprinkling of death/stoner/doom elements… you won’t hurt my feelings if you skip ahead to the next line of asterisks (where it says “Moving right along…”).

And if you really hate reading and just want to get to the music, you can skip all the way to the last set of asterisks, just above the Bandcamp player at the bottom.

 
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So I don’t know if you heard about this, because it didn’t get that much attention in the news or social media recently, but the other day there was an election held here in America.

In case you weren’t paying attention, the president was running for re-election, and quite a few seats in both houses of congress were up for grabs. And as it turned out, whichever political party was already in charge of those governmental positions basically stayed in charge of them. There may have been a few swaps here and there, but overall not a whole lot changed.

Naturally, the folks who wanted the party with more control to retain that power were delighted, and the others were disappointed, and there was a widespread reaction of surprise at just how evenly divided the votes were in some cases.

However, one thing that was made clear by the final results: America was not interested in electing the candidates who kept insisting that raping women is “God’s Will” — as that entire contingency ended up losing their respective contests.

Personally, I applaud this outcome, as (in my opinion) it seems to represent a triumph — for a majority of the voters living in each of those states or congressional districts, anyhow — of morality, human decency, and modern scientifically-based medical knowledge over ignorance.

Nevertheless, this is America, and of course we are all granted equal freedoms under our constitutional amendments — and many people are now worried that there is no outlet for the ultra-religious nut-jobs to voice their opinion publicly. (Okay, to the best of my knowledge no one is actually worried about that, just bear with me here…)

So that brings us to today’s discussion of the Pittsburgh-based hardcore band Slaves BC.

 
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Hounds of Hate – Cassette 2012 (Free Download!)

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Hounds of HateCassette 2012 (BHF Records, 22 October 2012)

 
Hey, good afternoon! Hope everything’s going well for you, dear readers. Here, it’s still pretty damn dreary and wet, but it looks a little bit less black outside than it has for the past few days — seems like that bitch Sandy might finally be leaving us alone.

Anyway, that’s all pretty much off-topic from what I wanted to tell you about this afternoon, which is how you can get your hands on some FREE music by a group of guys from my local area (not exactly the same part of town as me, but they’re from a little further downriver along the same valley that this website was named after) — plus how you can get a chance to see them play live (if you live in the midwestern or eastern United States, that is)!

 

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Get to Know: Cenobite (Review of ‘The Black’ EP)

 

CenobiteThe Black (05 July 2011)

 
Okay, first of all I feel like I need to clear this up right away: regardless of how it might sound, a “Cenobite” is not a unit for measuring computer memory. Don’t go into your local electronics store and try to buy a 50 Cenobite hard drive or something.

No, as my research has taught me, the word stems from the Greek roots κοινός (“common”) and βίος (“life”), and refers to individuals involved in the practice of communal living, as typified by Buddhist or Christian monks.

Researching a little bit further, I found that the name was also used for the race of formerly-human beings who live in an extra-dimensional void (but can be summoned to earth through a portal created by solving a complex puzzle-box) in the Hellraiser series of movies and comic books.

As I understand it, these creatures were named Cenobites because their apparently-religious-like devotion to hedonism and sadomasochism had ultimately transformed them into a state where they had completely lost all semblance of humanity, just like monks’ religious-like devotion to — well, to religion — inspires them to give up all earthly possessions and pleasures and enter a communal living environment. I guess.

I’d heard of the Hellraiser series before, but never actually knew anything about it until I read all this stuff earlier today. The funny thing is, the brief overview of the characters, and the synopsis of the first film’s plot that I read, both sounded awfully familiar to me — when I remembered that there was a Mortician song that incorporated a lengthy sample (as many of their songs do) where they talked about these demon-like beings who’d been summoned by using a box, and then they wanted to take somebody back to another dimension of hellish torture, someone who had escaped from their clutches previously. So I poked around a bit more, and found that the song “Hell on Earth” (from Zombie Apocalypse) did, in fact, make use of a sample from the original Hellraiser movie.

Isn’t it funny how sometimes a quick search on Wikipedia can turn into a whole chain of discovery?

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Free Music Alert: Now You Can Download Vesperia’s Whole Demo for FREE

VesperiaThe Swordsman Demo (Self-released, 01 May 2012)

 
Ladies and Gentlemen, if you’ve been paying attention to this blog over the past month, you’ve seen the name Vesperia a few times. That’s because this newly-renamed band has put together a brand-new demo to reintroduce themselves to the world, and each week throughout the month of May, they released a new track for free.

Well, now that they’ve all been made available, the whole four-track package can now be downloaded for free (or any price you choose), for your convenience. There’s also more stuff on the horizon for these guys — including a newly-added tour date and an upcoming live DVD!

So I’ve taken this opportunity to collect all the information I’ve previously shared about the band, combined it with the new stuff, and while I’m at it, I’ll say a few words about the music contained in the demo. Which, again, you can go download for free. Ready? Here we go…

 

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Get to Know: Injury Deepen (Review of Demo 2011 – FREE Download)

So the other day, I saw some exciting news on Facebook, that I just had to share with you, Readers. Indonesian brutal death metal band Injury Deepen posted, “Minggu ini Kami Siap Untuk Melangsungkan Proses Rekaman Untuk Debut Album Kami!!”

For those of us who don’t speak Indonesian, fortunately we have Google Translate to assist. It isn’t always perfect, and if any readers out there have a better translation for me I’d appreciate it, but as far as I can tell, it says, “This week, we are ready to establish the process of recording our debut album!!”

Anyway, like I said, I was pretty excited to see this; probably if you’d heard the band’s demo from last year, you’d feel the same way too.

I found the four-track Demo 2011 EP at the Death Metal Invasion blog, which is a wonderful resource for discovering new music, because several times a week they post another release (sometimes demos, EPs, or singles, sometimes full albums), and they are all 100% FREE to download — and 100% LEGAL because they only post stuff that comes directly from bands or record labels. As the name implies, they primarily cater to the death metal crowd, but the content spans the huge spectrum of sub-subgenres that fall under that umbrella: traditional, brutal, slamming, technical, melodic, etc., with bits of deathgrind or grindcore thrown in the mix as well.

So I end up downloading A LOT of stuff from DMI, across all those different styles, and from literally all over the world. As you might expect, there is also a wide range of quality in these releases — some I end up liking quite a bit, while others may not resonate so well with me.

Out of all that, Injury Deepen really caught my attention and ended up being one of the more memorable bands I’d heard on that site. So when I learned they’d be working on a new album, I decided to revisit their demo, and then share it with you! (Including, of course, where you can grab a copy for yourself, because they’re still offering it for free!)
 
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