ROTW: Phantom Limb!

Sorry for the absence of Record Of The Week posts here since summer (and they had already really become Records Of The Month posts, to be honest). It's not like there haven't been plenty of great candidates in the last little long while – heck, a new Slough Feg came out in June, and the sophomore Apprentice Destroyer album Permanent Climbing Monolith should have been a ROTW in September, too – but other things intervened. You can check out our as-yet-to-be-completed year end lists to see what some of our faves were, that we probably should have written up here had we had time.

But anyway, here's one last Record Of The Week entry before the new year: a NEW freakin' album by underground European industrial jazzcore titans 16-17! Phantom Limb, the band's first full-length since Gyatso in 1994, due for vinyl release on January 3rd via the Trost label, was actually mostly laid to tape back in 1995 but was never completed or released before 16-17 ended their original eighteen-year run in the year 2000. Then, in 2018, raving vokills courtesy of Oxbow's uniquely talented Eugene Robinson were added to the mix, and now this surprise slab of new noise from these old faves is finally about to be unleashed. Talk about a blast from the past...

Led as always by Swiss sax-abuser Alex Buess, the line-up for this 'new' version of 16-17 includes members of Alboth! and Techno Animal along with the aforementioned Eugene from the mighty Oxbow. And they deliver all the industrial crushing chaos and distorto-jazz-dirge we could hope for, unlike any other outfit ever, still sounding like an unholy melding of Godflesh and Borbetomagus, perhaps, or Author & Punisher playing free jazz – with extra added Oxbow-ification.

The seven tracks here are a devastating onslaught, with moments of real beauty amidst all the cavernous electronic atmospherics, cathartic cries, intense saxophone squeals, and mechanized percussive brutality. It won't be a bad thing if more of 2020 harks back to the 1990s just like this...

RIYL: God, Oxbow, Combat Astronomy, Peter Brotzmann


ROTW: We Hope You Fvkken Hate It!

Andee (obviously Andee, can't you tell?) wrote this review as a favor to eccentric, international metal/noise crew Enbilulugugal for them to use as a one-sheet for their latest blast of blackened blasphemy and goat-luvin' perversion, just 'cause he's such a big fan. Big enough that of course said blast of blackened blasphemy and goat-luvin' perversion has also got to be our Record Of The Week, currently on pre-order but due to be released this very Sunday as a limited run CD-R in DVD packaging via Italy's Non Resurgam Records. So dive in, if you dare...

After five full lengths in two decades, not to mention about a million demos, comps and splits, the metal miscreants in the practically unpronounceable Enbilulugugal return with lucky number SIX (six six)! In some ways, We Hope You Fvkken Hate It is very much cut from the same cloth as Noizemongers For GoatSerpent (2004) or Praise the Fukken Lard!!!! (2015). It’s thick, viscous, dirty and dense: a twisted hybrid of black metal, gore grind, and blown out blacknoize. Much of what’s going on is often less black metal than some sort of sickening black doom, buzz and blast blurred into heaving sprawls of distorted chaos. Sure there are furious bursts of hellish blackness, a LOT of them, but most of the time, Enbilulugugal seem to crawling and oozing through sonic tarpits of distorted crumble and almost industrial sounding crunch. Even when the tempos are cranked, the sound is so suffocated in murk and buzz it sort of bleeds into droned out sprawls of grunting, gurgling chug and crush.

And while this might be the best sounding Enbilulugugal album yet, they manage to find a balance between ‘clean’ production and total demented and damaged WTF disregard for what passes for proper sounding metal in most cases. But odds are if you’re reading this, and likely buying this, then ‘proper’ sounding metal is hardly a concern…

The guitars are doused in crumbling distortion, and heavily processed so they sound almost like grinding blurts of sci-fi throb, the drums perfectly compliment that sort of alien blackness, and while it’s unclear if it’s a drum machine or not, the pummeling machine-like rhythms give the sound an almost industrial feel, the whole thing tangled up into a garbled mutant sludge, shot through with strange streaks of fractured melody and underpinned by undulating sheets of feedback, every single bit of it buried beneath a putrid sonic scum.

The vokills veer all over the place, sometimes they sound like a computerized mouthful of maggots, other times like a pack of rabid zombie wolves, at others, like a broken siren broadcasting blasts of malfunctioning FX and once in a while, like the gurgliest, gruntingest gore garble you’ve ever heard.

Adding to the overall chaos is the fact that most of the songs tend toward entropy, often splintering into some serious free form sounding blacknoize, all abstract blasts and dissonant bleats, like free jazz played by Abruptum. And yet, even at its most chaotic, the sound is rife with all sorts of sonic details, weird samples, what sounds like a church organ, maybe a mooing cow, strange little sing song melodies buried in the mix, shards of full-on harsh noise, not to mention swirling clouds of fractured effects and damaged caveman rhythms. Deep listening reveals more and more sonic mysteries, allowing the listener an unfettered glimpse into an intense, and seemingly bottomless black soundworld, of unknowable depths, a hellish alternate musical reality only reachable via the shamans of Enbilulugugal.

“Lard Of The NekrObese" is a solid start, hewing closer to ‘proper’ metal than most anything on the record, with its chugging, almost classic metal foundation, but its surrounded in a suffocating cloud of atonal melodies and layers of thrum and howl, the sound so distorted it sounds like the speakers are melting. “Torn To Pieces By Rabid Devils” starts out deathly doomy before launching into some seriously sick, blown-the-fuck-out goat metal, but again, laced with what sounds like a horn section, adding a weirdly malevolent melancholy to the proceedings.

“Insemination Of The Drunken Goatfukk” sounds like a blackened Butthole Surfers crossed with the psychedelic black metal paganism of Ride For Revenge, equal parts knuckle dragging thud and totally tripped out noise-psych. “The Lard Is The Life” spends almost half of its running time drifting through a field of fractured ambient doom, bookended by acid soaked shred and shriek. And don’t let the actual acoustic guitar that opens “The Ol Goat Bangin LardSkank” fool you, it quickly (d)evolves into a two minute blast of maybe the most frenzied, fucked up ferocity on the record.

While “Shit On The Kvnt” sounds buzzy and black on the surface, strap on some headphones and immerse yourself into a head-shredding trip that’s weirdly one part atonal dissonant experimentalism, one part chugging, blackened mesmer and one part avant blackened sound collage. In some ways, this might be the best track here, or at least the one that perfectly captures the band’s seemingly constant push and pull between grim blackness and baffling experimentalism, with absolutely no fvkks to give, and no regard for the tropes usually associated with similar sounding artists.

Enbilulugugal’s demented musical damage and sonic sickness removes itself from other black metal simply by being so much more: louder, heavier, noisier, weirder, more experimental, more chaotic, but somehow without losing the thread, that ineffable something that keeps these songs actual songs, and this record somehow an actual collection of music, although it’s right on the edge for sure. This is most definitely not four guys in a room playing sick riffs and insane blastbeats, although both are present in abundance, it’s more some otherworldly sonic conflagration fed by warped visions of what metal can and should be, instrumentation and melodies melted down and mutated into shapes nearly unrecognizable. And while the wish expressed in the album’s title will no doubt prove true for most mundane metalheads, those looking for something way more far out and fucked up will, like myself, will have to (dis)respectfully disagree.


ROTW: Mana!

This debut full-length release from intriguingly familiar-yet-fresh metallers Idle Hands (after an EP last year) has been eagerly anticipated 'round here... definitely ROTW material and maybe for some, AOTY. Heck, if you listen to Allan's Gimme Radio show By This Wax I Rule! (which he hopes you do, along with Andee's show Battleflutes And Sideways Skulls) then you already know how excited Allan is about this band.

Indeed, he probably hasn't been so stoked on a new metal band since epic metalpunk outfit Iron Dogs (now the one-man Ice War) emerged from the frozen tundra of Canada a few years back (for whatever that's worth), but while that band stayed firmly underground, he suspects that Idle Hands just might be the next big thing, seriously. The band is possessed of a certain self-assured style and swagger that's pretty convincing, their power further proven by the material on Mana.

Signed to Holland's Eisenwald, a label best known to us for black metal fare, Idle Hands aren't black metal at all. And, they're from Portland, Oregon, USA. Formed by ex-members of the now defunct trad metal band Spellcaster (a break-up that spawned another cool band as well, Silver Talon), Idle Hands are also very inspired by the '80s – but while retro in a sense, the melodic, melancholic material they play amounts to an original amalgamation of '80s heavy metal (verging on hair metal) and '80s goth/death rock as well.

Maybe not the best comparison, but we like to describe Idle Hands as sounding something like a cross between The Cure and Celtic Frost circa the latter's controversial 'glam' excursion Cold Lake (an album unfairly maligned in our opinion, it's really pretty cool!), in large part due to the style of the melodic vocals, deep and mopey, punctuated with the occasional 'huuahh!', an interjection that's become a trademark tic of the band, even more effective/amusing in the live setting, as Allan can attest. He saw 'em perform a couple months ago (on tour with Haunt) and they were utterly fantastic... and the gig he attended was only their third live show ever apparently! But they were clearly ready for some high-profile festival gigs to come their way, as they have.

Their nostalgic but still unique sound might well appeal to fans of the likes of Sweden's Ghost, or at the very least quite possibly to fans of Haunt and High Spirits. Here, check out this MTV-worthy (circa 1989!) video for one of the songs from their earlier EP Don't Waste Your Time, giving off heavy Metal Church Badlands vibes visually:

In the US, Mana is available on cd and vinyl via mailorder from Eisenwald's new US webstore.


ROTW: Dusk To Dusk / City Girls!

Berlin-based (by way of Sweden) act Maggot Heart put out the Dusk To Dusk LP of nocturnal, hard rocking death rock last year, and a debut 4-song cassette called City Girls the year before that, and now the Caligari label has just taken it upon themselves to put both excellent releases out on one compact disc (and, separately, Dusk To Dusk on cassette now also), giving us the opportunity to make 'em collectively our Record Of The Week for this week! Better late than never, right?

Maggot Heart's guitarist/vocalist/main songwriter Linnea Olsson has been involved in some fave bands of ours: Beastmilk, Grave Pleasures, and The Oath. She's aided by two ex-In Solitude guys including the drummer, who was responsible for a previous ROTW on this blog via one of his other bands, Black Salvation. In fact, Maggot Heart's addictive sound kind of blends that of Black Salvation and another ROTW we had here last year, from the band Bat Fangs.

Melancholic and melodic, the dangerous, dark post-punky vibe conjured by Olsson & co. makes for songs as hypnotically moody as they are headbangably catchy. So... if any of the bands bolded above fall into your 'cool' category, give this a spin and we expect you too will be bewitched.


ROTW: Metaprogramação!

Hey, happy Record Store Day, people! Of course, there's no way that either of us is going anywhere near a record store today due to our RSD-PTSD. But at least we can post a new Record Of The Week, one we've been meaning to highlight here ever since it came out last month on the Ides of March: the percussive and primal protest music of Metaprogramação! by Brazil's DEAFKIDS.

Ask yourself, how do some echoing, heavy, rhythmic, industrial Brazilian Hawkwind-y noise punk tribal jams sound to you? We say, um, yeah!!!

Makes sense this third album of theirs came out via Neurot Recordings, as heavy tribal drum circle shit is part of Neurosis's own repertoire (in a good way!). And DEAFKIDS deliver on the rhythm and the noise. You could almost say that they kind of sound like Gnod meets Roots-era Sepultura. It's raw psychedelic dubby punk that could be a sonic fever dream spawned from a collision of, like, R.D.P. and the Boredoms.

Ideal for fans of the ‘chaotic hypnotic’!


ROTW: Haze County!

Hailing from the land of moving sidewalks and thirteenth floor elevators, Texas trio Crypt Trip definitely live up to the druggy part of their band name, while not being nearly as occultic or doomy as the "Crypt" bit might suggest. That’s fine though, real fine, as they stand out from the crowded field of retro-proto-metal mongers these days by being way more retro & proto than most, while being metal not nearly so much. Maybe they play retro-proto-proto-metal?

Their big influence/inspiration clearly lies with the melodic hard rock/heavy psych of such vintage ‘60s and ‘70s power trios as the James Gang and Cream. Especially Cream. But a wee less bluesy, instead proggier and mathier.

Crypt Trip’s own version of Ginger Baker, their drummer Cameron Martin, is the clincher (especially if you get a chance to see ‘em live), really putting on a show, exuberant and phenomenally skilled. The kind of drummer that actually makes you not want the drum solo to end soon, or ever. And he's definitely propulsive to the proginess mentioned. But it's a gentle prog touch, think T2, Saga (Sweden), Tucky Buzzard... Rural-tinged as well, which brings us back to the James Gang (see the album cover above, yep).

This, Crypt Trip's third album, came out just last Friday on an Italian label that really doesn't want anyone to have any misconceptions about the kind of music they release, Heavy Psych Sounds. They released Crypt Trip's equally excellent Rootstock last year, and have a lot of other great throwback-y bands on their roster. Look out for the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest USA that's gonna be happenin' in various venues in California and Texas in May, btw.


ROTW: Minecxio Emanations 1993​-​2018!

Wowzers. The 10.000 Chickens Symphony Drone label 7". The infamous (but lovely) Blank Tapes cd on Trente Oiseaux. Such conceptual faves, along with gobs of shambolic, shamanistic 'rock' music spread across many, many DIY tapes and cd-r's and other formats since 1993, constitute the bizarre legacy of one of the most unusual and eccentric sound-making units of our era, Reynols.

Thus, this release is something that both Andee and Allan instantly pre-ordered for themselves weeks ago, as soon as we first heard about it. Now it's just been released, so it's definitely a solid Record Of The Week choice for this blog of ours. Or should we make that, a 6xCD + 1xDVD Box Set Of The Freaking Week?

Yes, you heard that right. A "Record Of The Week" that could actually take weeks to listen to and fully absorb – and probably an eternity to truly comprehend! But, if you're already familiar (hopefully so) with the Argentinian noise/drone/improv WTF? trio of Miguel, Anla, and Roberto, then you know you probably want this too. Especially since this box set consists of mostly previously unreleased material – and the rest of it is quite rare. Check out more specific details of the contents here.

The 52 tracks on the six cds provide plenty of distorted drones and harsh guitar noise slashings mixed with meandering, moaning lo-fi echo-effected crooner-y chaos, all delivered with Reynols' own peculiar panache. An entire disc is devoted to their more conceptual compositions, including an unreleased outtake from the aforementioned 10.000 Chickens Symphony, as well as performances at NASA in Houston and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Another disc is devoted to various collaborations, such as their sublime meeting with Pauline Oliveros (another previously unreleased outtake), and there is also a nearly ten-minute team-up with Acid Mothers Temple among collabs with other, more obscure folks as well.

Ten years ago, Norwegian noisenik Lasse Marhaug's Pica Disk brought us a massive 10xCD box set from Japan's Incapacitants, Box Is Stupid. More recently Pica Disk has been responsible for a couple other great archival box sets from Omit and Witcyst. Now Pica Disk has outdone itself with this Reynols collection, apparently six years in the making. We've only heard the audio so far, but based on the quality of those other boxes, we are certain the physical package will be very nicely done – can't wait to delve into the two booklets of art and liner notes... Oh, and then the 90-minute DVD, which we expect to blow our minds completely.

About the only thing that could be cooler and weirder and even more legit outsidery would be a Japor box set.


ROTW: Michael O'Shea!

Our Record Of The Week this week is a reissue of a 1982 album, originally released on Bruce Gilbert & Graham Lewis of Wire’s Dome label, from a world-wandering, eccentric Irish busker named Michael O'Shea (1947-1991).

It was the only album he ever made, and it's a unique masterpiece. On it he conjures gorgeous experimental drone-folk from a homemade, hybrid electric dulcimer-zelochord-sitar of his own design (it had 17 strings, played with chopsticks).

Celtic, North African and Asian folk musics (and more) are filtered through O'Shea's special DIY improv/electronic instrumental aesthetic... just lovely! Worth the price of admission for the first side's fifteen minute "No Journeys End" alone, a hypnotizing track of gentle but percussive melody, wreathed in echo.

It's certainly cause for celebration that this has just been remastered and reissued on vinyl for the first time by Dublin record shop/label All City, via their Allchival sub-label.

Although, if you can find the out-of-print Michael O'Shea collection put out on cd by WMO in 2001, it includes a few extra tracks not on the original (or reissued) vinyl. It's a bit pricey on Discogs, however (twice what this LP will cost ya).