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Akimbo - City of the Stars (CD)



City of the Stars is heavy but without a ton of distortion, and the songs have an almost mathy-type feel to them. With the jagged, hoarse vocals, Akimbo take on a more abrasive quality. It's a hectic, chaotic album. Songs start and stop without warning, yet all the time maintaining momentum. It’s like they’ve created a perpetual motion machine that runs on madness. If that doesn’t entice you to check them out, I don’t know what will.

The tracks are melodically versatile and the vocals beautifully abrasive. At times it will feel like you're listening to a classic rock station, then swept up by '80s punk and hardcore only to be laid out flat by the intense vocals and riffs. City of the Stars successfully embodies the elements of the hard rock and punk evolution.

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Akimbo - Elephantine (LP)

180 gram vinyl!

To describe their sound, I'd have to say imagine thirty thousand Rick James bitch slaps. Now imagine how those would feel if they were delivered audibly through eleven tracks with names like "Bitten from the Thigh of Zeus" and "I'm a Fucking Ice Giant." That's right, not only do they tear shit up, but they have a God complex as well. What makes this band distinctive is its use of time signatures and complete use of instruments. The bass plays the most insane riffs and chords, complemented by the guitar screeching out. This is all tied together by some of the heaviest drumming full of crash cymbals, fills, and syncopated hi-hats and rides. The vocals are guttural and growling without being all crappy and tough guy like every band out there with either "death" or "bleeding" in their name. What you get from this record is most likely what you'll hear at the live show. No overproduction, and no fucking Auto-Tune. This shit is the real deal.

Unavailable (Archived)
Price: $11.99
Atriarch - Forever the End (LP)



Oppressive in its atmosphere and crafted with an unrelenting darkness of aesthetic, Forever the End, from Portland, Oregon’s Atriarch is an intelligent masterwork that harkens to a very particular sense of drama. It’s a grieving, sorrowful atmosphere, playing modern doom tonality off depressive ‘90s-style guitar weeping that’s more Gothic than “gothic,” but owes something to drunken teenage late nights spent hanging out in cemeteries nonetheless. The four mostly-extended tracks of Forever the End keep to linear structures, and the result is they flow together almost as one larger piece. That they’re wrapped around a central and pervasive sonic misanthropy only enhances this feel, and through all of “Plague,” “Shadows,” “Fracture” and “Downfall,” Atriarch balance doomed heaviness with black metal’s cultish sensibility, vocalist Lenny resting far back in the mix for vicious cavern screams or cutting through with a sort of monotonic clean singing.

It’s an easy release to be excited about for its effective blend of modern doom and black metal – like Cough’s first record with more emotional flair – but Atriarch back up the surface hype with an obvious strive for individuality that one imagines will only help distinguish them going forward. Heavy tone, heavy heart.

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Batillus - Concrete Sustain (CD)



Two years after breaking through with Furnace, Brooklyn's finest, Batillus, are back with Concrete Sustain, a collection of six fairly lengthy but surprisingly lean and focused updates on the band's industrial sludge repertoire. Representing more of a refinement of the existing Batillus sound rather than an evolution per se, Concrete Sustain dials back the atmospherics just a smidge without sacrificing any of the bottom end. Heavy is and always will be the Batillus stock-in-trade. "Concrete" is hands down the band's catchiest song to date, which hardly makes it a radio friendly unit shifter but if you can get that damned chorus out of your head you're a more disciplined man than I.

"Beset" is probably the most "vintage" tune here, eight minutes of unexpurgated post-metal squall casually punctuated with scowling proclamations of grimy sludge hate. "Rust" is the only overtly industrial-themed track on the album, and though it offers a little spice-of-variety to an album already chock full of such, it also serves as a reminder that the rest of the songs work just as well without any electronic ornamentation. This is a group that has outgrown anything so forced as inter-genre alchemy experiments. While Concrete Sustain would be highly recommended for the track "Concrete" alone, this is really must own material as a whole for anyone whose tastes straddle those oft-blurred lines between sludge, doom and post-whatever. The fact that the band tour like madmen and are probably soundchecking in your local dive bar's basement as you read this only serves to make them all the more inescapable. 2013 is the year of Batillus.

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Price: $11.99
Batillus - Furnace (CD)



New York doom act Batillus is finally dropping the long-awaited debut full-length album “Furnace.” Now fully equipped with a vocalist, Batillus is filling out its sound and taking the reins of its own destiny. The long stretches of simmering doom found in previous outings are all here, but cranked up a notch as the group finds its footing and looks to make an impact on the sludgy metal scene. Fans of massive riffs and being crushed to death in slow motion have got a fantastic album to look forward to in “Furnace.” For a debut full-length, Batillus has done something pretty spectacular.

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Batillus - Furnace (LP)



New York doom act Batillus is finally dropping the long-awaited debut full-length album “Furnace.” Now fully equipped with a vocalist, Batillus is filling out its sound and taking the reins of its own destiny. The long stretches of simmering doom found in previous outings are all here, but cranked up a notch as the group finds its footing and looks to make an impact on the sludgy metal scene. Fans of massive riffs and being crushed to death in slow motion have got a fantastic album to look forward to in “Furnace.” For a debut full-length Batillus has done something pretty spectacular.

Unavailable (Archived)
Price: $13.99
Buried at Sea - She Lived for Others but Died for Us (LP)

A one sided record with side B featuring a beautiful laser etching done by Stephen O'Malley (SunnO))) and Khanate). Includes a cover of Eyehategod's "White Nigger". Limited edition of 539 copies only!

Buried at Sea draws from doom, noise, and psychedelic rock. The band's patience and self-control makes them masters of heavy psychedelia. Every riff, every change is so well crafted, that it seems like they have mastered time itself. A 10 minute song can seem like it is a fraction of its length. They do an amazing job of keeping your attention while hammering a long durational riff into your head over and over again. She Lived for Others but Died for Us is the perfect follow up to Migration and is a warning of what's to come from this band. Recommended for fans of Eyehategod, Swans, Corrupted, Neurosis, Thrones and so on.

Unavailable (Archived)
Price: $12.99
Coffinworm - When All Became None (LP)

Limited edition of only 500 copies. Deluxe gatefold sleeve.

These guys reside solidly within the Unearthly Trance school of sludge. They mix thick doomy riffs with more higher register chunks of six string noise, and a harsh, aggressive vocal style. The black metal and punk influences are clearly also there, but not as much D-beat, and they lean much more heavily on the death metal side of things, which is always welcome in my book. The tempos range from a snail's crawl to a mid-paced groove, with a few faster sections as well for good measure. There are a lot of different elements and influences going on, but what it all really boils down to is this: if it's ugly but awesome it's in there.

Unavailable (Archived)
Price: $12.99
Diesto - High as the Sun (CD)



Heavy without being oppressive and familiar without being redundant, Portland, Oregon, post-sludgers Diesto’s High as the Sun is an hour of righteously brutal ambience made flesh with crunching riffs, post-metal rhythmic churn, hypnotically chanted vocals and drone just where it’s needed most. The four-piece seem modern in their influence, but as much as one could point to YOB, Kylesa and more recent A Storm of Light for comparisons, elements of Unsane, Earth, Oceanic-era Isis, Neurosis and Sleep are also audible.

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Gnaw - Horrible Chamber (LP)



Ladies and gents, the next Eugene Robinson: Alan Dubin, formerly of Khanate -- oh yeah … that guy. Dubin-fronted Gnaw may be merely Oxbow ‘lite’, but their advanced mimicry has become nigh-comprehensive: the ugly blubbering of ischemic excruciation, gnash-and-spittle freakish yowls; every leaky faucet in John Watermann’s brain, the sawdust whispers of workbench trauma; the smothering hum of wound myiasis, maggots and locusts come to roost in a wet fleshly blanket all the terror of hypertrophy; the free jazz stagger of percussive rustles and ratchet spasms; the Conradian horrors of blood, ocher, charcoal … and eloquence. Dubin’s emetic performance is the centerpiece and the torque of this uniquely visceral album, Gnaw’s sophomore effort Horrible Chamber.

The abomination should not have been shivered into the light of day. If you aren’t sitting in a dark corner gibbering to yourself, licking raw eggs and vodka off your fingers, and utterly constricted to your hind-brain mind by the end of this …! “Look around,” urges Dubin in the title track, and indeed, the prospect is too horrible. Hyperbole? Barely. Horrible Chamber is the only album I’ve been scared to listen to again besides Calcutta Gas Chamber. Physically repulsive, it’s just awful to behold, and the fight to continue listening only makes you more cathexically involved and more disgraced. As with Oxbow and Watermann, Horrible Chamber airs those vivid imaginative inscapes not unknown to man, but lockboxed away; it is a stark, intimate, frenetic work of raw emotive power and sonic precision. Enter if you dare.

New York’s Gnaw have no respect for music whatsoever. Judging by this sweaty, fulminating mass of a record, the way they see it is that music should be utterly destroyed, the last breath of every tone, timbre, and texture ever plucked from a guitar string, smacked out of a drum kit, tickled from the ivories, and squeezed out of any electronic noise-producing box should be smashed to fucking bits and expression in its purest form should be its only purpose. And so with album number two, Horrible Chamber, “music” continues to die countless deaths. Violent, filthy, desperate, this journey is harrowing. The combination of slowly-slammed guitar, bass, and drums with terror-torn vocals and other-dimensional sounds makes for a chilling encounter. This is the soundtrack to your own private horror flick, one where the visual aspect is induced by the music. There is no choice. You must and you will suffer.

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Indian - Slights and Abuse (LP)

Severely limited edition of only 303 copies on black vinyl!

This is stripped down hate doom, very much akin to their late Chicago brethren Buried at Sea or Portland Maine’s Ocean.

Unavailable (Archived)
Price: $13.99
Indian - Slights and Abuse/The Sycophant (CD)



Slights and Abuse/The Sycophant (originally released as two separate limited edition LPs) literally leaps out at you and barely pauses over the course of its nine songs. The first three songs pummel the listener with a thunderous barrage of heavy that could be described as a syrupy, swampy form of grindcore. It's not until “Fatal Lack” that the band reverts back to a slower tempo and settles into an evil 15 minutes of crusty doom. If the Slights and Abuse half of the album focuses on raw, primal aggression, then the Sycophant portion is where the band explores new sonic directions. The production, once again courtesy of Sanford Parker, isn't as oppressively thick as on The Unquiet Sky, but the extra breathing room creates a bigger, more dynamic sound. The band's turned a corner on Slights and Abuse/The Sycophant - they've become more than just another doom band. They're now something far more evil sounding.

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Indian - The Sycophant (LP)

Limited edition of only 300 copies on black vinyl.

The Sycophant portion is where the band explores new sonic directions. “Lust” lurches with a sea sick rhythm and incorporates some almost clean sounding guitar parts. It goes on almost too long, but then delves into the Melvins-inspired “Pigs In Your Open Wound” (think “Hooch”). Instrumental “Allotriophagy” is the most interesting of the bunch, as it's a piano-driven cross between Tom Waits and Weedeater. With it's 100 man chanting and minimalistic guitar parts, “Gloat” sounds like it should be part of some diabolical ceremony. It's not much of a song – it just sort of repeats itself for five minutes, but it does serve as a good lead in to closer “The Sycophant,” which once again brings to mind a doomy Melvins and ends the album on a crushing note.

The Sycophant is also more experimental with dabblings in electronic squibs and coldwave tweaks amidst the tonal crushes Indian expels, perhaps reminiscent of Botch and mid-term Isis. Be it the haunted key compositions of "Allotriophagy" or the Boris-like note stretches on the lumbering "Gloat," Sycophant is the more artistic of the two albums, while Slights and Abuse is the heavier and more driven album.

If you happen to dig bands like Black Cobra, Eyehategod, Hackman, Lair Of The Minoutaur, High On Fire, etc, you're going to love Indian. They're a 3 peice from Chicago that make a hell of a lot of beautiful, angry noise. Recorded and mixed by Sanford Parker, (from none other than Minsk/Buried At Sea), this album will flatten your head. The riffs are fantastic, all about the off-time rhythms, and the vocals are wretched and almost intolerable at times. Sweet. Indian covers the full range here, fast and thrashy, slow and doomy, and that nice steady travelin'-riff speed in between sort of what Neurosis crawling out of the ruins of a nuclear disaster would sound like.

Unavailable (Archived)
Price: $13.99
Indian - The Unquiet Sky (Black) (2LP)

Limited edition of only 400 copies on black vinyl! Deluxe gatefold sleeve!

This is stripped down hate doom, very much akin to their late Chicago brethren Buried at Sea or Portland, Maine’s Ocean. The forays into southern sludge grooves and the occasional faster pace add some color as well. Like most bands of this nature, it takes awhile for the full effect of Indian to sink in. It’s a massive sound, almost confrontational in nature. Fans of this style of music will be raving about this one for awhile.

Amazingly deep, crushing production, and the tracks on the first half kill unequivocally. The overall vibe and presentation has vague suggestions of Buried at Sea but I think Indian are their own beast.

Unavailable (Archived)
Price: $18.99
Indian - The Unquiet Sky (CD)



This is stripped down hate doom, very much akin to their late Chicago brethren Buried at Sea or Portland, Maine’s Ocean. The forays into southern sludge grooves and the occasional faster pace add some color as well. Like most bands of this nature, it takes awhile for the full effect of Indian to sink in. It’s a massive sound, almost confrontational in nature. Fans of this style of music will be raving about this one for awhile.

Amazingly deep, crushing production, and the tracks on the first half kill unequivocally. The overall vibe and presentation has vague suggestions of Buried at Sea but I think Indian are their own beast.

Unavailable (Archived)
Price: $12.99
Indian - The Unquiet Sky (Re-issue) (CD)



This is stripped down hate doom, very much akin to their late Chicago brethren Buried at Sea or Portland, Maine’s Ocean. The forays into southern sludge grooves and the occasional faster pace add some color as well. Like most bands of this nature, it takes awhile for the full effect of Indian to sink in. It’s a massive sound, almost confrontational in nature. Fans of this style of music will be raving about this one for awhile.

Amazingly deep, crushing production, and the tracks on the first half kill unequivocally. The overall vibe and presentation has vague suggestions of Buried at Sea, but I think Indian are their own beast.

Out of Stock (temporarily)
Price: $6.66
Indian - The Unquiet Sky (Re-issue) (Color) (2LP)

Limited edition of only 100 copies with yellow and red bleed colored vinyl. Deluxe gatefold sleeve.

This is stripped down hate doom, very much akin to their late Chicago brethren Buried at Sea or Portland, Maine’s Ocean. The forays into southern sludge grooves and the occasional faster pace add some color as well. Like most bands of this nature, it takes awhile for the full effect of Indian to sink in. It’s a massive sound, almost confrontational in nature. Fans of this style of music will be raving about this one for awhile.

Amazingly deep, crushing production, and the tracks on the first half kill unequivocally. The overall vibe and presentation has vague suggestions of Buried at Sea, but I think Indian are their own beast.

Low Stock (under 5 left)
Price: $27.99
Kongh - Shadows of the Shapeless (CD)



Yes, Kongh employs many of the same tactics as YOB. There are big, catchy riffs and progressive song writing forms. There’s also plenty of high end guitar work providing intellectual counterpoints to the massive guitars that hammer away at main riffs with reckless abandon. The rhythm section is groove-oriented and occasionally steps out of line for smart time signature play and flare. Still, is that such a bad thing? Both bands’ songs are magnificent and distinct. I, for one, think there’s no such thing as too much of either of these good things.

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Lord Mantis - Spawning the Nephilim (CD)

Features members of Nachtmystium and Indian.

If you were to leave Lair of the Minotaur in the depths of whatever cavern Khanate existed in, they might come out sounding like Lord Mantis, whose appropriation of Morbid Angel-type mythological references (and a black metal-type logo) underscores the varied influences playing out in Spawning the Nephilim’s seven tracks. As the chugging modern sub-thunder riffage shows, they’re not just blasting away with aimless aggression. There’s a sense of purpose to all the chaos. Just what that purpose might be, other than sheer destruction, I haven’t a clue. Sometimes sheer destruction is enough. Anyone who dug Coffins’ Buried Death but wants something a little more cerebrally menacing would do well to dig into Spawning the Nephilim. It feels familiar on the surface, either because of the personnel, or the production, or even just the mentality; Lord Mantis’ songs have a character to them that is unique unto themselves. If that character is buried under 600 tons of riffs, well, start digging if you feel up to it.

Utilizing his time in black metal outfit Nachtmystium to his advantage, guitarist/vocalist Andrew Markuszewski has learned to embrace torment, bleakness and fury, combining them with extraordinary results in the bludgeoning outfit Lord Mantis. Doom-y and baneful, Spawning The Nephilim is a continual onslaught of scorching vocal shrieks blasting out over methodical yet odd metallic structures. When realizing the degree of demonic intensity that permeates these seven tracks, one can't help but gawk in awe at Lord Mantis's power.

Spawning The Nephilim is the perfect soundtrack for something fucked up and awful. Some dark, violent, hellish journey into the unknown. It's really heavy and insane sounding, not an album to kick back and relax to, more like an album to have an axe fight to. If you like Unearthly Trance, Lair Of The Minotaur, etc. I'd check Lord Mantis out immediately.

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Makai, The - The End of All You Know (CD)



The End of All You Know is noisy, guitar-heavy, and cranked up to the maximum. The band blends thrash and extreme metal, Swedish-influenced melodic death, and a good bit of chaotic hardcore. The pace is relentless, the songwriting is solid, and the arrangements are written in a way that keeps each song from sounding like the next one.

The Makai excels at injecting its tunes with a controlled chaos that makes it seems as though the entire affair may fall apart at any moment. The furious pacing, rip-roaring riffs, and teeth-rattling drumming of Jessee Shreibman provide the listener with a range of styles and all-around cool musical segments. The album is not devoid of tunefulness either, as the melodic guitar lines and song structures in general can be rather alluring. The group's abrasive mixture simply sounds like a band that has drawn influence from many different types of bands. Overall there is an intelligence and penchant for keeping things interesting on The End of All You Know — to some extent like the manner in which Mastodon composes its thunderous metal — that should bode well for future releases.

Unavailable (Archived)
Price: $6.66
   
 
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