Monday, 31 December 2012

Cacophemisms' 2012 Top 10s

Top 10s. They crawl out of the woodwork around this time each year and inspire the usual trivial discourse, dialogue and debate in internet chat rooms, social media networks and occasionally in "real life" situations - when you actually put down the damn iDevices and, god forbid, have some face to face interaction with other human beings. At this point it seems fruitless, if not just slightly clinically insane to natter on about a bunch of releases that have been covered by most forms of media peddling in the areas of our interests, and have also probably been spun to death by most of the cyber travelers who trip and fall onto Cacophemisms. But that is exactly what we are going to do (though hopefully, you may find something included here that you will want to investigate further). Everyone else has done it, so why not us?

And why not YOU? We invite you, readers of our small-time, intermittently updated blog, to put your 2012 top 10s in a comment at the end of this post. Be a part of this thing, or just feed us some stuff we may have missed.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more in 2013.

Jon Dangerous, Uncle K and lxp

Jon Dangerous

A review of a year in which so many heavyweight bands have released albums of extremely high quality cannot take place without some form of tip of the hat in acknowledgement. High On Fire, Saint Vitus, Baroness, Neurosis, Torche, Pig Destroyer, Municipal Waste...I mean, the list goes on and on. And for the record I own and spun the bejesus out of all of these. However, I feel I should throw out some cyber vomit that, like observing some epic artwork, focuses on some of the finer points and some overlooked releases that perhaps may not have caught the imagination of some in the media, or indeed a few readers. Here are my arguments for my favorite albums of 2012.

1. Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind
I think pound for pound, All We Love We Leave Behind, Converge’s latest slab is the best of the lot, as yet again, the band has managed to strike deep at the heart of the statement "expect the unexpected".

2. Pallbearer - Sorrow and Extinction
This was easily the biggest surprise and the highlight of the year for me because I totally didn’t see it coming at all! In fact, I ordered this after a recommendation from Shane from 4Dead, not expecting much at all. But I was also ordering Samothrace’s latest offering and figured I’d chuck it in to make the postage worthwhile. Classic start, acoustic slow, yeah I know what this is...oh wait, no I don’t. BAM! I seriously can only think of a handful of words to describe this release; soaring, cosmic, epic and just WOW. Really a huge surprise. I STILL can’t stop listening to this album, months after purchasing it. What makes this so good is that I NEVER saw it coming! One of my hugest regrets this year is missing this band along with Samothrace and Royal Thunder on the one bill a few months back, 'cause I had my dates wrong. I still wanna punch myself in the dick just thinking about it, especially since I spent the night sitting on the couch drinking shitty, cheap lite beer thinking I had nothing to do until the next night!

3. Witchcraft - Legend
Ok, this isn’t under the radar at all. So why the exception, you ask? Perhaps it’s due to the subtle shift overall that the band has made with this release. Nigel Melder (Trial and Error Records/Mindsnare/all around nice guy) once said to me you can’t keep making the same album over and over. Since The Alchemist was released, Graveyard have really kicked on and had some killer releases and Kadavar, Horisont and a plethora of other bands have done so as well, all producing that similar Pentagram/Sabbath style of classic blues based, stoner/old school doom. This is the thing about innovators: they set the tone and others follow, rip off and reproduce. Witchcraft have done it again, throwing in a googly or a zooter, or whatever it is, that would have Warney lost for words.

4. Serpentine Path - S/T
I already wrote a piece on this, and have just chucked it back on the turntable. Yep, great sample to get things going. Definitely makes me want to wind back the clock and suck down a bong in the back of a shitty old blue Ford Laser in the ANU carpark. The surprising thing about this release is that, although lots of people like it, particularly people who I really respect with regards to their taste and involvement in heavy music, it seems to have been left off most end of year lists! Bleak. It just sounds fucking bleak!

5. Turbonegro - Sexual Harassment
Why is this not in most top albums of the year lists? This is catchy as all fuck and, in fact, I will go ahead and say it...I actually like it better than some of the later Hank-era releases. It has real cojones, the kind you get from smoking too much, growing your beard, drinking whiskey and eating red meat. Compared to Retox, this is the equivalent of rubbing two red bricks together, in a good way. Gritty, substantially heavy, dirty, punk rock ‘n roll. And solid as fuck, actually.

6. Nachtmystium - Silencing Machine
Yeah ok, are you done with the hipster black metal ribbing? Ok, good. I never saw this band as “black metal” by definition, and they have really had some diverse and interesting releases with Sanford Parker in the lineup. This latest offering finds them stripping back some of the cleaner production and returning to a dirtier sound, as well as a smashing out a generally faster pace with increased attack in the songs.

7. Samothrace - Reverence to Stone
My opinion is that this band is MASSIVELY underrated. I loved their last release, Life’s Trade and was on the lookout for Reverence to Stone since I caught wind of them returning to the studio. Like Pallbearer, this band has that epic thing going on. However, their music really is allowed to breathe, with the vocals being placed sparingly, or even withheld. When the vocals do kick in, they come on like a sonic eclipse, blanketing all. But before you know it, they’re gone and there’s another crushing riff and two minutes of atmospheric, passionate, sincere and grandiose music before the next line.

8. 16 - Deep Cuts From Dark Clouds
This is another release that seems to have slipped past without anyone really noticing. It came out earlier in the year, and in such a strong year with regard to releases, I can only assume that it fell through the cracks. That and the fact that I am a big fan of 16 and maybe not so many others are? Always groove oriented, 16's recent releases are as pummeling and as fucked up as they were back in the day. If you feel that whole 90’s vibe of groove-laden, mid-paced stuff, this definitely doesn’t disappoint.

9. Old Man Gloom - NO
This release has been totally glossed over by most in their annual reviews, however it is probably the group's most instantly engaging and immediately gratifying effort to date. It makes me want to get drunk late on a "school night" on harsh cheap liquor, and proceed to run around the neighborhood setting things on fire. I am simply at a loss as to how this album seemed to generate so much excitement prior to its release, and then almost disappear into the ether post its initial release! THE BAND IS EVEN TOURING THIS RELEASE TO AUSTRALIA FOR FUCK’S SAKE!!! (This fact still has me seething with anger as I cannot make the shows. Am I EVER going to see this fucking band?!?!?!) And, as if I needed to convince and cajole you further, I will complete my argument by simply saying: "Aaron Turner’s vocals"; dueling guitar overdubs on "Regain/Rejoin"; and the line, “Higher, higher burning fire...” on "To Carry the Flame".

10. Horseback - Halfblood
More repetitive, brooding, blackened, haunting, country-esque soundscapes from Horseback (I mean, c’mon, how the fuck DO you describe what they put together?). I don’t seem to get tired of their releases and thoroughly enjoy blaring them on the car stereo on long drives, or spinning this record at full bore whilst pottering around the house. For mine, they seem to find the audio equivalent to the period just between wake and sleep. It has definitely been difficult to remove this LP from the turntable this year.

Honorable mentions, and stuff I bought that I haven’t got my head fully around or listened to enough yet, but have enjoyed on my first few spins:
Burning Love - Rotten Thing To Say
Hooded Menace - Effigies of Evil
Earth - Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II
Horisont - Second Assault
Black Breath - Sentenced to Life
Nate Hall - A Great River

Unkle Kronoz

1. Aluk Todolo - Occult Rock
Blackened pyschedelic kraut rock is the best description I've read to describe this French instrumental act. This double LP is epic and crushing and I wait with great anticipation for its arrival in the mail so I can fully absorb it.

2. Black Magician - Nature Is The Devil's Church
Liverpudlian doomsters have released a monster of a debut. Five tracks of tales of English history and folklore. Massive riffs and wonderfully used Hammond organ combined with epic vocals that have a distinct early Cathedral edge. Not just one of the best doom releases of 2012, but of the last 5 years. BRING OUT YOUR DEAD!!!

3. Ancestors - In Dreams and Time
Ancestors up the ante again. They have combined their earlier stoner prog/psych moments with the ambient/lighter moments of their last EP, The Invisible White to stunning effect. This is another double LP release, which has a real atmospheric, dreamy feel. And with tracks lasting from 6 to 19 minutes it takes plenty of twists and turns. Highly recommended.

4. Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind
Kind of lost interest with Converge over the last few releases, unfairly I'd say, as the musicianship has always been top notch, but I have always found Jacob Bannon's vocals hard work. This new release has ticked all the right boxes and the vocals seem to have more range and not so much whine. Very much looking forward to their return to Australia in 2013 with Old Man Gloom in tow.

5. Old Man Gloom - NO
Originally not in my top ten, but repeated listens over the Xmas break have shifted it up the standings. OMG have always been a favourite of mine due to their ability to write some of the heaviest, most crushing, catchy riffs around, and they don't disappoint with NO. They are still mixing the droney noisescapes with mammoth riffs - I know the droney parts annoy some folk but I think they just add to the suspense of the monster riff that is around the corner. Very much looking forward to crossing them off my to-see-live list in the New Year.

6. The Kill - Make 'Em Suffer
Hellbourne grind kings return with their first full length in an eternity and it's a 19 minute blistering raging blastfest. Ahib (Roby), Jay and Nik have really delivered a cracker and even thrown in a cover of Slayer's 'Necrophobic' that peels paint. I am really stoked for the lads as they are also top gents and always make my trips down to Melbourne more enjoyable. And Roby also runs the excellent cheap distro Blastasfuk. Cannot wait for Obscene Extreme Australia in Melbourne in April.

7. Witch Mountain - Cauldron of the Wild
Bluesy doomy rockers from Portland, Oregon showed plenty of potential on their 2011 return South of Salem. Their latest, Cauldron of the Wild shows even more improvement. The gorgeous Ula Plotkin's haunting, hypnotic vocal performance really sets up a flawless release.

8. Tragedy - Darker Days Ahead
The roaring d-beat/doom/punk masters return with their first album in 6 years, and it's well worth the wait. It's closer to metal than their punk rock roots of the past - this isn't bad thing. They have always had the DIY punk values and still do, but the production on this massive. The soaring vocal melodies and deep roar are still present - vocalist Todd Burdette even sounds like local legend Adam Agius (Alchemist/Levitation Hex) at times. Another band touring Australia for the first time in 2013, check them out.

9. Windhand - S/T
Richmond, Virginia's Windhand (featuring members of Facedowninshit and Alabama Thunderpussy) have released a killer debut of Wizardy/Sabbathy sounding doom that has a real swagger. Nothing too fancy going on here, just catchy, heavy doom with amazing female vocals. Get on it.

10. Neurosis - Honor Found in Decay
Probably the band with the most consistently good releases over the last 15 years, so I waited with great anticipation for this one. Not disappointed at all but it has not hit the mark quite like some of 2012's other highlights. I'm sure with more listens it will creep up the list.

The following great releases rated highly. They did not make the cut but are well worth checking out:
Conan - Monnos
Slomatics - A Hocht
Seremonia - Rock 'n' Rollin Maailma
Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell - Don't Hear it...Fear it!
Pilgrim - Misery Wizard


1. Neurosis - Honor Found in Decay
You just cannot fuck with the masters. Neurosis’ control of their craft in creating this raw, visceral, nuanced and complex record is astounding. The use of effects to illuminate whatever shadowy spiritual plane you’re being dragged through is perfect, and never detracts from the barrage of tactile, unadulterated drums that heave with the weight of the rest of the music. Forged from experience and honesty, this is simply mind-blowing.

2. Kowloon Walled City - Container Ships
I was chomping at the bit for a fresh dose KWC’s sludgy noise rock, and although it’s only a few weeks old, this has burrowed right in. I love hearing a great band progress without losing their edge. This is more controlled and subtle than their previous releases, with a greater focus on melody and atmosphere. But the way the open steamrolling riffs linger to build and maintain that uncomfortable tension, while the songs churn deceptively underneath, is untouchable. A VERY close second.

3. Witchcraft - Legend
Yep, when I finally got my hands on this, I was hooked from the first spin. The band’s change of direction, flowing from a new lineup and the inclusion of a wider range of influences, made this one of the most interesting albums of the year for me. It’s still definitely Witchcraft, but it’s amazingly diverse, completely unpredictable and more fun than ever.

4. Samothrace - Reverence to Stone
Awesome. Feedback screams through enveloping, apocalyptic sludge/doom. The crumbling world’s dust settles in ominous lulls in the maelstrom. Two wizened old souls ponder the horror:
“I hear the sky torn open by forgotten gods, come to wreak devastation upon failed humanity.”
“No. That sound is the desolate realisation that there are no gods. We have done this to ourselves.”

5. Mares of Thrace - The Pilgrimage
A recommendation from Unkle K, this Canadian duo instantly grabbed me by the throat and did not let go. The Pilgrimage drips bilious, loathsome scorn, but is as dynamic as it is savage. It shreds remorselessly and torments with noise and whispers, but offers catharsis by unleashing some irresistibly brutal groove (see “The Gallwasp”). A stunning, nightmarish thrill-ride.

6. High on Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis
High on Fire’s sixth album is an absolute belter. It hits like a ton of bricks, dropped from a great height by Kurt Ballou’s monstrous recording/mix. “Madness of an Architect” was the standout track for me, an opinion that was set in stone after seeing them play it live. On a related note, getting to witness Sleep at Roadburn was nothing short of stupefying - a massive highlight.

7. Eagle Twin - The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale
Eagle Twin is a completely unique band and this is a unique, jaw-dropping record. In the review I posted back in October, I wrote that they are operating on another level. I stick by that.

8. Old Man Gloom - NO
They really brought the fucking hammer down with this tirade of smart-ass misanthropy. Feast upon it, human tapeworms. And place your fickle hope in OMG’s pledge to June's Rock-A-Rolla magazine:
“So long as humanity is in need, so long as there is suffering and injustice, so long as there are skulls that need to be not-so-gently caressed by cascading gusts of soaring riffs, Gloom will be there.”

9. Verma - EXU
Verma’s addictive heavy psych spirited me away as soon as it first floated into my head a few months ago. On EXU they took down the intensity, fenced in the improvisation and restrained the sprawling guitar eruptions. But it worked. The undulating basslines have more room to hypnotize and the ethereal vocals are free to drift in from further beyond the ebb and flow.

10. Propagandhi - Failed States
I know that among our few readers (and contributors) there are those who cannot stand this band - too preachy, cheesy, etc. But for me, Propagandhi’s anthemic explorations into personal and social complexities, set ablaze with an abiding love of thrash, always stir up some dormant sense of idealism. Failed States was no exception. Oh, and the Rod’s cover art is just swell.

Honorable mentions:
First, some killer local releases that blew me away and absolutely deserve a nod:
4Dead - Anchors (Finally! Well worth the wait to hear the finished product.)
Hoodlum Shouts - Young Man Old Man
The Reverend Jesse Custer - Perpetual Victim

And finally, just because, here are a few more releases that snagged me for different reasons:
Gaza - No Absolutes in Human Suffering (So fucking intense.)
Graveyard - Lights Out
Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music (The life support system hip-hop needed.)
Krallice - Years Past Matter (Confused the shit out of me but compelled me to persevere.)
Northless/Lightbearer - Split
Titan - Burn
V/A - Hell Comes Home Vol.1 (7” subscription series - collected some ripping music from some cracking bands.)

And to wrap things up, we invited some guests to throw their lists into the mix...

JJ (I Exist/BMA 'Metalise')

1. The Kill - Make 'Em Suffer
2. High On Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis
3. Fuck I'm Dead - Another Gory Mess
4. Pig Destroyer - Book Burner
5. Saint Vitus - Lillie: F-65
6. Pallbearer - Sorrow and Extinction
7. Witchcraft - Legend
8. The Levitation Hex - S/T
9. Torche - Harmonicraft
10. King Parrot - Bite Your Head Off

Geoff (Mendicant Music)

1. The Kill - Make 'Em Suffer
2. Anhedonist - Netherwards
3. Dead Can Dance - Anastasis
4. Evoken - Atra Mors
5. Inverloch - Dusk | Subside
6. Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind
7. Pallbearer - Sorrow and Extinction
8. The Levitation Hex - S/T
9. Katatonia - Dead End Kings
10. Backyard Mortuary - Lure of the Occult 

Shane (4Dead/Black Bong/Cutting Hose, Melting Plastic)

1. Pallbearer - Sorrow and Extinction
2. Troubled Horse - Step Inside
3. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell - Don't Hear it...Fear it!
4. Tragedy - Darker Days Ahead
5. Pig Destroyer - Book Burner
6. Witchcraft - Legend
7. Horisont - Second Assault
8. Unsane - Wreck
9. Neurosis - Honor Found in Decay
10. Ahab - The Giant
11. Graveyard - Lights Out
12. Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind
13. Hooded Menace - Effigies of Evil
14. Old Man Gloom - NO
15. Mutilation Rites - Empyrean
16. Eagle Twin - The Feather Tipped the Serpent's Scale
17. Samothrace - Reverence to Stone
18. Torche - Harmonicraft
19. Conan - Monnos
20. Christian Mistress - Possession

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Unkle K's Bands of the Week

Holy shit, this is heavier than Conan's epic Horseback Battle Hammer. Wall shaking DOOM from ex-Snowblood members.

Corrupt Moral Altar
Liverpool nutters Corrupt Moral Altar feature members of other great UK grind acts Magpyes and Horse Bastard, but I think this release by CMA actually betters both those bands. Catchy as crabs sludge/grind crossover.
Article on Baiting the Trap Records: Cvlt Nation

Gig of the Week 
It's that time of year again. Cell Block 69 hit the ANU Bar on Saturday 22 December (supported by Leisure Suit Lenny). This will sell out and is a thoroughly enjoyable night - get on it. Spewing I will be at the coast. Details: RiotAct.

Unkle K

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Earthless Return

11.12.2012. Strap yourself in baby, 'cuz we're blowin' off this psychic funk. Fire up the core and set controls for the next dimension. We're gonna surf interplanetary gravity fields and hitch rides to contracting nebulae on the tails of comets. Engage the warp drive. We're gonna fold this whole space-time deal into a cosmic pretzel and jam this jalopy headlong into the eye of a black hole. We'll be everywhere at the same time, baby. This trip's our fast-track to nirvana. And the way back down is forever. It's gonna be a gas.

Um, I mean, Earthless are bringing their blistering psychedelic rock jams to the ANU Bar on Tuesday night, and if it's anything like the last time they were in town, it will be incredible. Presented by Heathen Skulls. Go.


Monday, 3 December 2012

Unkle K's Bands of the Week

Jason from Buried at Sea and members of Atriarch and Minsk, among others, deliver a massive slab of doom and gloom. Highly recommended. 

Wizard Rifle
More Portland nutters, Wizard Rifle sound like a crazy combo of Big Business, Lightning Bolt and Torche. They have just released their debut album Speak Loud Say Nothing on Seventh Rule.

Video of the Week
"Double Crossed" by Valient Thorr: YouTube

Unkle K

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Nate Hall - A Great River

US Christmas?! What kind of a name for a band is that? At least, that’s what I remember thinking when someone offered to sell me a copy of Run Thick In The Night sometime in 2010. I hadn’t really heard of them, and being the lazy dickhead I can be, I closed the email and figured I’d just not get back to the guy about his offer. A few days later I was mulling around at Shane’s place before band practice and something came blaring out his speakers. I can be incredibly particular about the music I like, and tend to gloss over most suggestions. Some things click a few years after the fact, some things stand out like the proverbial dog’s balls, you know, the non-desexed variety! This was one such occasion.
 “Who’s this?” I asked, a question that can now loosely be translated as, “this is interesting to me...unlike the last hour's worth of stuff we’ve listened to.”
“This is the latest US Christmas album. It’s just come out,” Shane obliged.

I returned home later that night and sifted through the penis enlargement and Cialis emails in my trash, found the email concerning the LP, responded, and upon it’s arrival on my doorstep, proceeded to wear an extra groove in the record from playing it over and over and over. I am pretty sure that anyone who had the misfortune to be at my house or in my ute around that time experienced at least some of that album. I was hooked! It was kinda alt-country-meets-stoner-meets-psych. Hard to describe really, but all I knew was that often, sometimes during the wee hours of the morning, being crammed in a van with four other smelly dudes who are snoring and farting their way between pub shows that stink of stale beer and wet carpet, THIS, my good friends, THIS was the sonic meeting point of the sky and the sea! This was what I needed to hear at 3am somewhere along a pitch black road on the Hay Plains! This was my introduction to Nate Hall.

Nate Hall, part of the US Christmas collective, releasing a solo album, A Great River...hmmmm? Gotta get my big fat sausage fingers on that. And so I did.

Bright guitars, minimalist in nature, ranging between the soft ocean growl of electric riffing and some uplifting leads, to the simplistic strumming and plucking of acoustic organic strings. Melancholic, sorrowful themes and vocals, this is the kind of music that appeals to alcoholics. That therapeutic wallowing in my own misery and isolation. I’ll just crack another beer, pour myself another neat nip of liquor and we’ll head further down the spiral of self-medicating, self-loathing, depressed bullshit. This is the kind of music that plays in the background of the end scene of sad independent movies where the protagonist ends up hanging himself, just when you think he’s worked it all out. This is bags under your eyes at work and bourbon on your breath in the boss' office during that performance review - tie loosened, top button undone, coffee stain on your crumpled and untucked shirt. This is the soundtrack to you, your greasy, crevassed face and your 5 o’clock shadow, and how you explain it all to the dog, 'cause your wife, she already left you!

In this I hear heartbreak. I hear drowning in life. As awesome as it is tremendous in its emotional power, songs like "Dark Star" cut to the bone. It’s the kind of music you want to see in a country pub filled with the scent of stale cigarette smoke and complete with horrible red carpet, old leathery-faced barflies and, of course, the chicken wire in front of the stage.

A Great River is a very complete album too, right down to the Townes Van Zandt cover, "Kathleen". Lengthy enough to provide you with ample drinking tunes or to cover a decent drive out of town, without becoming redundant or one-dimensional, so often the Achilles' heal of solo guitar, singer/songwriter (is that in line with current industry terminology?) albums.

So if life has recently kicked you in the balls or your hound has been put down, you lost your job or your good for nothing husband/wife/partner/girlfriend/boyfriend/etc has walked out on you, hide the pills and the rope, crank out the hard liquor and spin this album after 12am on a weeknight. Fuck your neighbours. Perhaps when the clock strikes 1 you’ll regale them with the lyrics off key and out of tune!

Jon Dangerous

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

DEAD - Idiots

Melbourne two-piece, DEAD are about to embark on an 18 show tour around the country on the back of their new album, Idiots. With them will be Vaz, from Brooklyn, NY. Featuring two members of Hammerhead, a criminally underrated band from the 1990's Amphetamine Reptile roster, Vaz build on that legacy to play a unique brand of driving, sarcasm-fueled, off-kilter noise rock. Check out their album, Chartreuse Bull here.

We'll be getting a taste of the madness in Canberra on Wednesday 28 November, when this ridiculously exciting double header will be teaming up with local sludge/punk/grind fiends The Reverend Jesse Custer, who will also have their shiny new 10" in tow.

But back to DEAD. On their first album, THUNDAAAAAH! and the couple of times I've seen them live, Jace (bass/vocals) and Jem (drums/vocals) consistently belt out a raw, primitive racket that hits like a sledgehammer to the guts. They haven't done too much to mess with the format on Idiots, and that's a good thing. Their music hits hard because there isn't really anything to distract from the force they put into it - it's just two blokes throwing everything they can at their instruments.

However, that's not to say what DEAD produce is one-dimensional - they can pack a lot into their songs. For example, the opening track on Idiots, "The Carcass is Dry" begins like some kind of minimalist art film soundtrack until the neck-breaking bass riff cuts in to introduce a battering snare and scathing growl that in turn gives way to an open rhythm and strained melodic wail. The empty horror of "Murder Hollow" works because the gravelly sustain of the bass, the ringing out of the cymbal and the hazy drawl of guest vocalist Linda J Dacio are all allowed to overlap and hang in the spaces. The sound on Idiots is clearer than on THUNDAAAAAH! so those kinds of contrasts are pretty well defined, but it's not like these guys have any intention of diluting the stripped-back ferocity of their music.

DEAD's stock-in-trade in a live setting is that bottom-feeding groove, and that's here in spades too. "Inherit the Wind" is an absolute rager, and "UP!" offers a dirty mid-paced rumbling bass line that would make Unsane proud. The album ends with the 11 minute "Lego Men", which sounds to me like it could have been inspired by spacing out to the Melvins - and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Have a look at DEAD's website: Listen to/buy Idiots here or at the shows.



This Friday 23 November will see the legendary EYEHATEGOD beat down the doors of the ANU Bar to humiliate and utterly obliterate Canberra's sense of well the best way imaginable. We're getting one of five shows on their first ever Australian tour, presented by Heathen Skulls, and it's definitely not to be missed. Supports I Exist and Law of the Tongue are both amped for it, so head out early and prepare yourself!

Until then, if it feels like you're "serving time in the middle of nowhere", try distracting yourself with this EYEHATEGOD live video essay: Cvlt Nation.


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Unkle K's Bands of the Week

I wasn’t wearing fingerless gloves but I had a bit of a head bang to thoroughly enjoyable sets from Captain Cleanoff & Blood Duster at BastardFest on the weekend. Great vibe at the Friday show and good to see a few old faces.

Code Orange Kids
Pittsburgh hardcore teenies Code Orange Kids have recently signed to Deathwish Inc. for the release of their forthcoming LP, Love is Love // Return To Dust. I’ve only heard the video below but I’m hooked, looking forward to hearing more.
"Flowermouth (The Leech)": YouTube

Sea Bastard
Brighton, UK bastards, Sea Bastard have a new 5 track release of bleak sludgy doom. Recommended.


Unkle K

Gig of the Week
Just jumping in on Unkle K's column to add that on Sunday 18 Nov, the Pot Belly is playing host to the fantastic pairing of Canberra titans Looking Glass and Hoodlum Shouts (yep, I still call 'em "local"), with A Drone Coda along for the ride. Will be a great night!


Monday, 5 November 2012

Unkle K's Bands of the Week

Aluk Todolo
Instrumental prog rock from France with occult leanings. Brilliant.
Live at Out.Fest 2008: YouTube

Dusseldorf sludge monster. Download their killer demo for free.
Live in Nürnberg 2012: Vimeo 

Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Enabler have recently signed with Southern Lord records. Their All Hail the Void is an unstoppable brutal hardcore release.
Live at Saint Vitus 2012: Metal Injection

Gig of the Week: BastardFest
Big weekend for Canberra metalheads as Bastardfest makes its way to Canberra for 2 nights at the Basement (9-10 November), featuring big guns Blood Duster, Captain Cleanoff, Psycroptic and I Exist, as well as exciting up and comers The Reverend Jesse Custer and Law of the Tongue + many more. Tickets are limited so buy pre-sales or get in early.

Bang on

Unkle K

Friday, 2 November 2012

Renegades: Metalheads in Botswana

I was sent a couple of links today (thanks Dave) that opened my eyes to the existence of a small but strong and growing metal community in Botswana. The Lemmy/Rob Halford inspired leather-clad rebellion of Batswana metalheads was captured in Renegades, an exhibition by South African photographer, Frank Marshall. Since the exhibition has been covered fairly widely already, I'll let the material speak for itself, except to say horns up!

Frank Marshall, Dethguard, 2010
You can see photos from the exhibition on the Rooke Gallery website, which provides both a slideshow and the complete exhibition catalogue (PDF download). The catalogue also contains an introduction discussing the Renegades' relationships to Botswana's society and to broader heavy metal culture.

Some of the photos are also on Marshall's website (, along with other examples of his work (there's a live Carcass photo in there).


Thursday, 25 October 2012

Unkle K's Bands of the Week

The Kill
Melbourne grind masters are back with their new release, Make 'Em Suffer, on Blastasfuk. 15 tracks of blasting grind, including a ripping cover of Slayer's "Necrophobic".

These Washington DC crusty deathsters have had me interested for a while, reminding me of a more deathy Boonhorse. But their new track, "Say You Love Satan" off their forthcoming platter, Intoxications just reeks of catchy, dirty sludge and I am very keen to hear the full release on A389 Recordings.
"Say You Love Satan": Cvlt Nation  

High Spirits
This one's for you, Adza & Mel...
Holy shit it's the 1980s again! Chicago's High Spirits totally nail it with Another Night, mixing all that was great about NWOBHM with hints of Scorpions, Thin Lizzy, DIO, etc, without sounding rehashed.

Video of the Week 
(Courtesy of the RBB)
Axl looking more and more like a fat white trash Michael Jackson clutching his chest and panting through a truly woeful version of "Welcome to the Jungle", with multiple face pulling wankers playing acoustic guitars (I've always thought this band sucked). Enjoy: YouTube.

Bang On

Unkle K

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Iron Crow - Demo + Live / Elizabeth - Where Vultures Land

I have never really understood the point of reviews that cover two unrelated releases, but it seemed like the thing to do today. After starting the morning with Disrupt's classic Unrest, which once again kicked the vego gas right out of me, I was left feeling lighter but had punk on the brain and wanted to dig up something new. And that's the dubious link holding this piece together.

First stop was Grindcore Karaoke, a label run by J Randall (Agoraphobic Nosebleed) that has tons of releases available for free download. I clicked lucky dip style on Demo + Live by Iron Crow. Nice one.

Sampled crow squawks bookend the Demo part, which consists of 8 gritty powerviolence ragers clocking in at just over 5 minutes. There's a pretty nifty display of the genre standards here: slow, open riffs that give way to short blast explosions; throaty, barked staccato vocals; and the almost obligatory sub 5 second song ("Two Seconds 'Till Death"). But Iron Crow still manage to squeeze a couple of interesting touches in. The Slayer-like thrash of "Society's Burden", the syncopation between the guitar and drums in "Pedophile", and the way a couple of the riffs are built around sliding, rather than static chords (maybe slightly reminiscent of the Locust) stand out.

The Live part is 9 tracks that sound almost like they could have been recorded in the same shoebox as the demo (they weren't), with a few extra people crammed in. It captures the energy pretty well and actually makes me keen for a house show. Anyway, it's definitely worth giving this a rip if you've got a spare 15 minutes. Download here.

My next target was more deliberate. I was told about Elizabeth, from Geneva, Switzerland a few months ago and wanted to finally give them a proper go. Their EP, Where Vultures Land was co-released in April this year by Throatruiner Records & I For Us. It's a nasty little bastard of a noisy hardcore record that plies its trade in desolation using a whole lot of tension, some unsettling changes and distorted, desperate vocal delivery.

The songs do break into a few passages that power straight ahead, sometimes with a bit of d-beat dropped in. But just when you're that little bit too comfortable, the rhythm shifts to awkward to put you on edge again, as in "Heartbeats". "Sharp Teeth and Knives" even has a chugging breakdown towards the end of the song, but that ultimately just falls away in futility. Even in the more restrained parts, like the verses in "The Call", everything points downwards. Any hint of uplifting melody Elizabeth offer is snatched away as soon as you accept it. "Sailor's Grave" gets almost triumphant, but really just ends up miserable.

I hear Ringworm and Converge influences in this, though that's not to limit what Elizabeth are doing because these songs are crawling with their own character. But don't take my word for it, listen here.


Friday, 12 October 2012

Unkle K's Bands of the Week

Witch Mountain
Portland bluesy doomsters have just released their third LP, the wonderful Cauldron of the Wild, which features the hauntingly powerful vocals of the gorgeous Ula Plotkin.
Live at Scion Rock Fest 2012: YouTube

Doomed out death metal from Finland done the old school way.

Gig of the Week
The wonderful gents from 666 Entertainment ( have brought out Atomic Bitchwax from the US to headline Doomsday Festival 2012.

Stellar Canberra lineup:

And to celebrate EYEHATEGOD’s first Australian tour in November, enjoy this great video from their performance in Baltimore earlier this year: YouTube.

Thrashing is my business and business is good.

Unkle K

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Eagle Twin - The Feather Tipped the Serpent's Scale

Eagle Twin's music takes me a while to digest, and I've been sitting on this album for a few weeks now. But after seeing them in full flight at the ANU Bar last Thursday, playing between Canberra's I Exist and headliners Russian Circles (thanks Heathen Skulls!), the motivation to try to write about The Feather Tipped the Serpent's Scale came pretty quickly. Their 40-odd minute performance simultaneously battered and mesmerised the crowd with its completely unique combination of stomach churning doom, soulful acid blues and ethereal meandering. The presence they command and the cascade of sonic lava they spew forth utterly belies the fact that there are only two people on stage. Gentry Densley chokes some unbelievable textures out of his guitar and tempers the music's "artiness" with the right amount of neck breaking groove, while Tyler Smith beats the living shit out of his drums like a possessed ape, to lock the audience in for the whole journey.

I had seen Eagle Twin live a couple of times before and really got a lot out of their first album, The Unkindness of Crows. I have always thought of them as an alchemical concoction derived from Warhorse (of As Heaven Turns to Ash fame), Neurosis and Tom Waits. But there is also an undeniably strong sense of poetry in their music: the unconventional phrasing of both the guitar parts and the lyrics; the sometimes subtle, sometimes abrupt shifts in timing; and the band's express acknowledgement of their literary, biblical and hymnal sources of inspiration in the liner notes. There is an overarching theme across the two albums, described in Southern Lord's promo blurb on The Feather Tipped the Serpent's Scale as follows:

In this installment the crows documented in the first album have battled the sun and were burned back down to earth as black snakes, the concept of the album continuing mainly on the snake and its various mythic and symbolic incarnations. Ultimately the great ancestral snake is transformed from its lowly beginnings back into a bird soaring upon the thermals. 

Right on. And with that, it's time to dispense with the background and turn to face the album.

"The Ballad of Job Cain" is spread over the first two tracks and sets the tone within a few seconds. It begins with Densley's trademark multiphonic singing layered over subdued feedback, before the guitar and drums interweave and morph into a beast of a riff that sticks around only long enough to slowly disintegrate back into a different form of itself as the foundation for one of the first main vocal passages. From there, the song travels a treacherous landscape of peaks and valleys with subtle, controlled crescendos toward heaving riffage that cuts away to morose, isolated chants before climbing back up again. And that ride cymbal underpinning the rolling, brutal groove passages that break out kills me!

The plodding drudgery of the start of "Lorca (Adan)" is given life by the increasingly thick atmosphere that builds with intermittent flashes of tremolo picking before melting into a fuzzed out drone toward the song's end. "HornSnakeHornS" threatens to explode underneath its straightforward vocal melody a couple of times, but holds back until it escalates (still with restraint) and blends into the short instrumental, "It came to pass...".

"Snake Hymn" starts as a pounding juggernaut punctuated by heartbeat-length pauses (again, that ride cymbal!), then opens out into a soaring guitar jam until returning to a hacked up version of the original riff with, deeper, darker vocals. "Epilogue" closes the album proper with a hypnotic, slave driver's drumbeat pushing forward a doom-laden intonation on the rebirth of the crow. The LP version also contains a bonus live track, "Ghosts of Eden", which makes it worth getting the vinyl if you're thinking of buying this.

In this one geek's humble opinion, Eagle Twin are operating on another level. In all honesty, I think I lack the vocabulary, musical or otherwise, to adequately describe this record. But the saving grace for me, and I think the genius in the music, is that you can either take up the challenge and try to follow everything that's going on, or you can simply sit back and let the moods they create burn into you. At the very least, I can safely say this: The Feather Tipped the Serpent's Scale is the perfect soundtrack to locking yourself inside on a sombre, wet, unseasonably cold (it's October for fuck's sake) day.


Saturday, 6 October 2012

Serpentine Path - S/T

I can still remember finally getting my hands on Unearthly Trance’s Seasons of Seance, Science and Silence. I had been trying to track the album down as it had a description along the lines of “...crucifix shaking, bleak, unholy crippling doom!”. I finally found it in Missing Link in Melbourne, on a weekend which found myself and my band cohorts at the time with $12 to our collective names upon departing home (which we chose to spend on a bag of goon, incidentally) for the weekend of shows which would have us sleeping on half a couch each, face down in our own grot, still clad in our sneakers and jeans in order to contain the majority of the funk. There wasn’t much to do in between our shows, other than to alter our states and blast that CD. It instantly appealed to me. It was equal parts creepy and nightmarish. It made me think of what the results would be if Iron Monkey ran really fucking hard at Electric Wizard, and by chance, formed some super congealed black tar you could pour into your ears in some state of “melt into the couch” paranoid bliss.

Well, many years later, and most importantly an Australian Tour later, Unearthly Trance gave up the ghost and called it a day. I was pretty bummed about it, but totally stoked I got the chance to see them live. They truly were one of those bands that I thought were uncompromisingly and hurtfully thick and heavy, like the flat face of a cricket bat straight to the shins. So you can imagine my excitement when I caught wind of three of the members forming Serpentine Path, particularly as the blurbs all read similar to this one:

Crushing cult death/doom featuring current and former members of Electric Wizard, Unearthly Trance and Ramesses! - Relapse.

All of a sudden that whole “congealed black tar” statement has come to life, like some monster from the black lagoon crawling out of bed after a night long session on the turps drinking Bundy and Guinness.

So I guess the real question here is whether or not the LP can live up to those increasingly overused stickers that the record labels paste all over every release these days, hyping it and attempting to make you part ways with your money (Serpentine Path have been termed a "supergroup", you know. Does this mean they wear their undies on the outside of their jeans?). The short answer is FUCK YEAH! Consider me a believer.

I have lost a lot of faith in many types of heavy music these days, for various reasons (predominantly because I hate “the kids” and can’t work out how to google the e-mails on the intraweb like “the kids” are doing to all Lars’ music these days!!!). But I had a lot of faith in the musicianship that would go into the writing process, as well as the attention to sonic detail this record would present.

The low end, provided by Jay Newman of Unearthly Trance, really comes across LOW, thick and black like Turkish Coffee. Likewise Ryan Lypinsky, also of the 'Trance, delivers his vocals in a fashion that has never sounded quite so deep, gravelly and full. Both of these aspects of the record have me thinking a little of Japan’s Corrupted (perhaps?) as an influence. It’s that kind of bleak and bone blackening, evil sound that I heard on Unearthly Trance, but perhaps a little thicker and slightly less atmospheric.

The riffs, because even a geriatric cantankerous prick of an individual like myself knows that “riffs” are all the rage with “the kids” these days, leave one feeling like the schoolyard bully has forced you into a barrel and is proceeding to roll you down a hill for the amusement of him and his pals. Yet unlike many albums I hear at the moment, they move on before that boredom that has you headed to the bar in a live setting sets in. Little highlights and overdubs are timely and present without appearing unnecessary or detracting from the pummeling weight of the songs. In fact, this is probably the key part to this record; it keeps the listener interested and has enough going on to invite me to repeat listens. I am, as I type this, on my fourth straight spin and can easily see myself grabbing another coffee, turning up the amp and not doing any of the most basic and remedial of tasks I had set for myself today.

The bottom line is that this is a solid album that, whilst it tips the hat to the members' former projects, more than holds it’s own and then some. Harass your local record store and Heathen Skulls, turn up your subs and annoy the piss out of your mum/housemates/annoying neighbours. If sludge and doom be your taste, then you’ll be left wanting to hear much more from this outfit.

Jon Dangerous

Friday, 28 September 2012

Nux Vomica - Asleep in the Ashes

Let me begin by acknowledging that I have well and truly missed the currency boat with this review. Asleep in the Ashes was recorded in 2007, released in 2009 by Aborted Society, and only hit my ears a few weeks ago when the cassette arrived in the mail (yes, tapes are cheap and can still serve purposes beyond being ironic design motifs). Definitely a case of better late than never.

Nux Vomica crafted something special on this record. With six songs in about an hour, Asleep in the Ashes is a harrowing and ultimately cathartic metallic crust epic.

The songs unfold patiently and deliberately. They lull you into a false sense of calm with restrained, deeply peaceful, atmospheric passages, only to turn on a dime and bludgeon you with rapid-fire snares and throat-shredding shrieks. But just as quickly, they reach down, pick you up and light a fire inside you with a searing melodic lead blazing over a ferocious stomping punk beat, before shifting down into some filthy sludge to make you focus closely on that fire for a while longer.

The emotional push/pull is inescapable, and it seems pretty clear that Nux Vomica are aiming to extract and harness a response. They succeed by making the transitions between moods and styles within the songs flawless, and you can't help but pay attention because the changes are so damn fun to listen to. For example, the thrash part about halfway through "The Discussants" is as awesome as it is unexpected, but it makes perfect sense as a stop along the way. It works as the point where the song breaks away from its sullen, brooding beginnings and sets off towards its frenzied anarcho-anti-church devotional battle cry climax. And the album is full of moments that ensnare you like that. 

Asleep in the Ashes seethes with direct fury - to incite and agitate - but is also complex and contemplative, with more to be found with each listen. The individual tracks stand alone, but when you listen as a whole, and album closer "Kaumaha" sets you back down, it definitely leaves a mark.

For more information on Nux Vomica, read their bio here.


Friday, 14 September 2012

Unkle K's Bands of the Week

Welcome to Unkle K's Bands of the Week! Unkle Kronos has been spreading word to the faithful through a weekly email list and at the end of the Metalise column in Canberra's street rag BMA for a while. We are glad to introduce this regular feature to Cacophemisms, starting right now...

Portland Pussy Grind. Brilliant. 
East Cat Paw-Violence Demo:

San Francisco heavy rock doomsters are back with a new EP. Epic stuff.  
"Capricorn" live at Roadburn 2012: YouTube
Two bands from the great Give Praise Records (

No Qualms 
Orlando punk with an Infest vibe.

Buried at Birth 
Female fronted San Jose fastcore/powerviolence

Unkle K 

Heavy Blanket - S/T

Since only about nine people will read this, I figure there's no real problem in pasting an email I wrote to a couple of friends about this album last night, adding a couple more sentences, and calling it a "review". For anyone else who stumbles across this and has not heard of Heavy Blanket, they have a wacky fictional (...or is it?) bio that you can read for yourself here.

All that aside, the short version is that Heavy Blanket's self-titled record on Outer Battery Records consists of J Mascis throwing down relentless guitar solos/jams over a rhythm section that pounds like a freight train pushing itself up a big hill. The bass is huge and strikes the right balance of punchiness and twanginess (technical terms, obviously), and the drums kick the whole thing along with a deceptive arsenal of fills and flair.

But it's that fuzzed-out, delay-filled guitar work that soars above everything else to steal the show. Mascis rocks over, under, behind and ahead of the rhythms to whatever distant plane his whim is drawn to, and the character that makes his heavier moments his best pours out of the speakers. But make no mistake, this is no Witch rehash. Aside from the fact that Mascis is back on the axe, it's way more loose and free than that. The whole record plays like it's live. And it wants to be turned up loud.

In some ways (and here comes the bit from last night's email), this shit feels like a bizarre, twisted version of one of those guitar clinic videos where some smirking fuck is displaying his otherworldly chops and we're all supposed to be learning something from him, or otherwise just sitting there dumbstruck with gaping maws and glassy eyes to inflate his already enormous ego. But it doesn't have all of that control, pretentiousness or contrivance about it. It's rough, lo-fi Earthless, with the swirliness removed and the drums and bass thumping along all dirty meat and potatoes while J furiously hammers his fretted cock at you like a gurning, sweat-soaked predator who gets off on making unsuspecting bystanders watch, ripped out of their skulls.

And I love it.


Thursday, 30 August 2012

Interview: Glenn Smith

Glenn Smith's instantly recognisable art has become iconic within Australia's underground/heavy music communities, and continues to spread to wider audiences. His images drip with his unique brand of stylised, hyper colourful horror and gore, but the strongest impact of his work is in its savage humour and sardonic commentary. Jon Dangerous interviewed Glenno in July, and we are proud to present the results here. 

Jon Dangerous: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. 

Glenn Smith: Grew up in Orange, lived in Sydney. Did Lawnsmell. Sydney spat me out back to the hometown, but now I’m back, harder and faster than before. Married to my best friend Gina and killing it with art…paying the rent at least. Got a new band called Chinese Burns Unit and life rules with my 2 cats, Pishy and Cha-chi. 

JD: One of the first things I saw that you had done was the Necrotardation comic. Are there plans for, I mean the band, to do anything else? 

GS: I would like to, but my thunder was stolen by Metalocalypse. Necrotardation was the original, but they had the budget and the celebrity voices. I also lost my drive for doing comics. Illustrations are far more satisfying to do and as a result, I get to say more, quickly and often. Everyone knows that bands like Necrotardation never really die...we may see some sort of retardmetal revival. If Sadistik Exekution can keep surprising the naysayers, anything is possible. 

JD: You have often worked with Ben Hutchings. Are there any more plans to collaborate à la the Glenjamin stuff? 

GS: Love to but as the ball rolls quicker down the hill, inertia keeps things on a straight track. It’s hard to do side projects when there is rent to be paid. I still think Ben Hutchings is the greatest and I’d love to do more stuff with him if the chance arose. I still have a box of those books to shift. 

JD: Your art involves a lot of lines (tattoo artists hate it). Other than the main subjects of your work, I often see weird and wonderful things when looking at the line detail of your art. Am I crazy? How intentional is this? 

GS: You are just as crazy as me, I’m sure of that. Seen your stagecraft in action over the last few years and you are a nut. The devil is in the detail. The opposite can be said of really simple art, but it’s not my thing to reduce things to blocks of simple colour. Lines are great for creating shapes and movement. Artline pens are marvelous. Sometimes I intend a subtle line thing but everyone gets a little something different from all types of art, that’s why it’s so great. It’s not a simple finite thing. [It’s] like good music you can listen to all your life, receiving different things on each listen. 

JD: Something I’ve always enjoyed about your artwork is your ability to take the piss out of pretty much anything. Do you ever find yourself working on something and chuckling away about it? Has it ever stopped you going through with an idea ‘cause it was perhaps a little “too much”? Who's next in line for some schtick? 

GS: I crack myself up. If I don’t it’s a failure. I am my audience and this way I connect to others of a similar bent. Outraging those that walk a different path is the greatest gift to culture you can give. “Too much” is sometimes dancing around taboos and political correctness but I still believe parody is in everything. It’s in the intent and cleverness of execution where your success is found. The world shits me in so many ways. There is so much parody that isn’t funny. My favourite targets at the moment are the religious (any) and the terrible, so-called alternative music that is being sold about the place. 

JD: What art stuff do you have in the pipeline?

Luckily I have my site up and running so you can see my output ( I just did the Frenzal Rhomb art, new Summonus art, new Church of Misery tour poster…but THEY JUST PULLED OUT!!!!!! I believe you are better off just checking in on my site every now and then. I don’t quit creating. I better have an exhibition soon, a bit of show and tell would be a good break from this rotten little office.

JD: Tell us about the band, and can we expect to see you guys in Canberra any time soon? 

GS: Can’t count on us doing Canberra soon. We barely play by design as well as logistics. We are all very busy with life and other bands. John Irish is in a stack – he plays drums – Pure Evil Trio and Black Vat Trio. Jonny T is the other guitarist and he plays in The Optionals, Grand Fatal, Brave the Burrito. And Jay sings in a little band called Frenzal Rhomb. I’m writing/singing almost all the songs and demoing them with Jay. Jay pretty much pulled my sorry arse out of “retirement". Didn’t think I’d do music again, too much of a hassle, but this band is super fun and super casual. The music is fun, catchy punk shit. It’s great being able to do harmonies and stuff. Feedback is that it’s similar to Lawnsmell but a whole lot more thought out, heavy and a little less naïve. It’s a style I suppose that is classic but no one is really doing it around the place – simple punk shit with none of the bullshit of scene awareness or a big plan.  

JD: Chinese Burns Unit have more songs than Axl Rose did for Chinese Democracy. Are there any plans for a release or several? 

GS: The album, vinyl, is almost done, followed by a split with the awesome Dick Nasty (hopefully soon). I’ve demoed so many songs that there may be a CD giveaway of these ditties at a gig soon. CBU is a time-poor band. We are rich in tunes and some sort of balance will need to be found to keep the releases flowing. I have 100 plus songs done, and some of them are rippers. I can’t give you an exact breakdown of the quality/quantity equation. We rule though. 

JD: Any last words or advice for budding young artists out there? 

GS: Keep it original, don’t be too precious, learn all the disciplines. Carry a book to sketch ideas and concepts – you’ll forget your best thoughts and observations if you don’t get them down on paper. Draw every day and get better each day. Set up a desk – couches will cripple your spine. Visit the art gallery on the uninspired days. That’s enough free advice.

All images used here were taken from Glenno's web site. In case you missed the address above, you can see more, and also hear some Chinese Burns Unit tracks at: CBU's album is planned for release on Poison City Records some time later this year!