Undercover Spotlight: Exocrine - Molten Giant

Exocrine - Molten Giant
Label: Unique Leader Records
Runtime: 34 minutes
Released: August 17th, 2018
Genre: Progressive Tech-Death

A sleeper hit of a record if ever I've seen one, Exocrine's third album, 'Molten Giant', was criminally under-publicized at release, and few reviewers took the time to really delve into it. While I won't labor under the delusion that my voice carries any significant degree of weight, I regardless feel the need to shine what little spotlight I possess on this absolute monster of a record. 'Molten Giant' is, in this author's humble opinion, the greatest progressive technical death metal album since Virvum's masterpiece, 'Illuminance'.

Clocking in at a tight 34 minutes, Molten Giant doesn't spend any time screwing around. 'Scorched Human Society' sets the scene with an atmospheric soundscape swiftly giving away to frantic tech-death guitar. Fans of the band will immediately notice that the production woes that plagued them on their sophomore album 'Ascension' are long gone. The mix is clean and professional, though listeners of a more discerning nature will note that the album is on the loud side, but that's a staple of modern tech-death for better or worse. The real standout section here is the mid-album trio of 'Backdraft', 'Molten Giant', and 'Flamewalkers'. Atmospheric, technical, and memorable, these songs eviscerate the notion that tech death can't be simultaneously catchy and blistering. Each song also features breaks from the brutality with surprisingly tasteful solos and the occasional synth build. It's a noteworthy touch that helps the band stand out from the pack of modern tech-death. 

The album closes out with 'Shape of the New World', an 8-minute long behemoth of a song, led into by the slow build of instrumental 'Behind the Wall'. This closing track could easily have been a disaster, as longer tech-death tracks tend to be, but somehow it pulls through without any distinct issues. Listener fatigue can set in by the end of even the most concise tech death albums, and ending with a song this long is a ballsy move. (At least it's not Alkaloid's 'Rise of the Cephalopods', yeesh.)  In the end though, it just works, and rewards the listener with layers upon layers to tease out over subsequent listens. If you enjoy technical death metal, you need to check this out today. With it streaming for free on Bandcamp and Spotify, what excuse do you have to miss out?

Molten Giant is available now on Bandcamp.

Decapitated - New 'Kill the Cult' video released!

A year after being falsely accused of rape and imprisoned in a foreign country for over half a year despite being found innocent, the boys in Decapitated have finally been able to finish and release the third video for their album 'Anticult' which was one of the best damn grove metal albums released last year. I don't know what it was about Anticult--it wasn't overly technical or even original--but from a song-writing perspective it was pure win. I remember every note of this track like it was released yesterday. Too bad these guys won't be touring the US again any time soon, but who could blame them? Keep kicking ass, Decapitated! Don't let the bastards grind you down!

Live Review: Bloodshot Dawn, Æpoch, Becomes Astral, Ending Tyranny @Schwaben Club, Kitchener, Ontario

"Whose dad IS that?" Kyle Edissi (Æpoch, guitars) asked incredulously from the stage as a diminutive man, easily over sixty years of age, crowd surfed for the third time during last night's show. No one seemed to know, and it didn't matter in the slightest. Everyone on the floor was happy to give him the night of his life, transporting him around the floor atop dozens of helping hands. For all the bad reputation the industry press seems intent on leveling against the metal community these days for being a supposed 'unsafe space', it's anything but—at least if last night's concert at Kitchener's 'Schwaben Club' was any indication. People were attending from all walks of life: old-school geezers like myself, teenagers, men, and women (over a quarter of the show's patrons were female, a welcome sight!), and they were all there for the same reason—to witness the best technical death and melodic death metal that the region has to offer, topped off by a blistering set from UK's own Bloodshot Dawn on their very first Canadian tour.

Review: Goreworm - The Path to Oblivion EP

Goreworm - The Path to Oblivion EP
Label - CDN Records
Runtime: 18 minutes
Release Date: March 23rd, 2018

At the ripe old age of 36, I may not be hip to the 'slams' that metal kids these days listen to on their shitty earbuds while I shoo them off my lawn with a grandpa guitar, hurling Slayer LPs in a frothing rage of tr00 kvlt righteous fury, but every so often I stumble down the rabbit-hole and something dank tenaciously sticks to my shoe, refusing to be ignored. Sure I'll walk around pretending like it isn't there, but eventually people start asking about the smell, and by then it's too late. I have a serious Goreworm infection, and as any metal-head worth their salt knows, the only cure for a bad case of the br00tal-deaths is to lance and purge the boils in the form of verbal or written diarrhea. This is the latter. I'm sorry.

Hailing from the middle of ass-fuck nowhere (Brantford, Ontario), Goreworm allegedly started as a project by Brent Moerschfelder and Jordan Elgersman, intending only to write a couple of songs "just for the fun of it." According to their press release, when they noticed that every track was better than the last one, they decided to go whole-hog and make an actual band out of it, proving once and for all that anything can be made better by chucking a few more Canadians at it. The malformed motley crew was then picked up by local legends CDN music and catapulted into the stratosphere of obscurity where I found them floating in the aforementioned rabbit-hole alongside an old Thy Flesh Consumed promo and Michael Jackson's 'Thriller'. Initially mistaking it for a copy of Abysmal Dawn's 'Obsolescence', I picked it up and joyfully skipped home, not realizing that Goreworm had used me as a vector to spread dankness to the uninfected multitudes who read this blog (all four of them.)

Undercover Spotlight: Godslave - Reborn Again

Godslave - Reborn Again
Label: Green Zone Music
Runtime: 46 minutes
Released: March 9th, 2018

Oh man, where to begin with this one? It's thrash metal from Germany, and if that's got you thinking of Kreator, well, you're not too far off, but Godslave is far from a one-trick-pony. Influences here range from the obvious (Kreator) to early Metallica, Overkill, Iron Maiden, Exodus, and a host of other wide-ranging sounds. We start with excellent straight-forward riff-centric thrash, and slowly go off the rails the further the album goes all the way to the swaggering cock-rock meets thrash of 'Rock on, man', the brilliant speed-metal banjo in 'Instrumental Illness', and a surprising addition of female vocals on album closer 'No Complaint'.

Reborn Again could very easily have felt like a mess, but somehow it all comes together into an extremely entertaining album showcasing killer song-writing and flashy guitar, wrapped up in a punchy production. Check it out! The album is available for streaming on Spotify and to purchase on Amazon and Itunes. Unfortunately, they don't plan to distribute on Bandcamp, although you can check out a few songs there for free. Check out this awesome 360 degree video below.

Review: Rivers of Nihil - Where Owls Know My Name

Label: Metal Blade
Runtime: 56 Minutes
Released: March 16th, 2018

“Where Owls Know My Name” is the third in a series of albums representing the four seasons, with the summer of ‘Monarchy’ falling to the inevitable decay of Autumn. Themes of longing, change, and regret permeate the album from the lyrics to the band’s experimental take on the classic ‘Rivers’ formula. New elements have been added to form an unlikely mix: Mellotron, Moog synths, trumpet, saxophone, and clean vocals are all very present, added to Rivers of Nihil’s already proggy take on technical death metal. One would think that this would result in a heaping mess of clashing ideas and vibes, but somehow it all pulls together into one cohesive whole that, while not without flaw, is much greater than merely the sum of its parts.

My first sit-down with the album came in the wake of learning about the death of an old friend. Not just any friend—the friend who exposed me to extreme underground metal. Without him I wouldn’t be writing this blog, listening to this album, or have had some of the most transcendental experiences of my life. I sat alone in a dark room, turned up the speakers, and let the album wash over me, and like experiences that now seem so long ago I felt myself transported, soaking up the ascendancy of something pure, neither good nor evil, organic or spiritual, simply BEING. And for that moment in time, it was enough. “Where Owls Know My Name” is that kind of record. If you let it in.