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.