Album Review: Fortress Of My Dark Self by Oceans Of Grief

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With a lyric like “Guards of my emptiness/keep away the joyful feels”, it’s safe to say that Oceans Of Grief aren’t here to deliver feel good moments. In fact, pretty much every lyric on Fortress Of My Dark Self is bleak. There is no silver lining. Everything is terrible and you just have to wallow in it. 
Oceans Of Grief come from Greece and their debut EP is a gloomy throwback to the 1990’s doom metal scene. It’s slow, incredibly heavy, and full of atmosphere. Most of the time, it’s very reminiscent of My Dying Bride, minus the Gothic flare. And while playing melodic death doom may not leave a lot of room for interpretation, Oceans Of Grief are perfectly adept at paying tribute to those that paved the way while doing their own thing. Their riffs are excellent and heavy, while just melodic enough to remain memorable. The vocals are low and harsh and fit will with the depressive lyrical content being spewed forth. 
The five songs on display don’t stray too far from the path of slow and heavy, but there are some really great moments throughout. The solo in ‘House Of Misery’ is beautiful and encapsulates everything I love about 90’s death metal. ‘The Birth Of Chaos’ is an excellent closing track and features a spotlight on the bass that is great. ‘Spiritual Fortress’ is definitely the album standout for me, though. It’s a damn near perfect death doom song. It’s a perfect opener and sets the tone for all the doom and gloom that follows.
Fortress Of My Dark Self may not be the most original album ever made, but it’s a well-crafted piece of 90’s inspired doom. I look forward to hearing what they do in the future, especially with a full length album. If you’re a fan of early My Dying Bride and their ilk, don’t let Oceans Of Grief pass you by.

You can pick up Fortress Of My Dark Self on Bandcamp HERE!

Follow Oceans Of Grief on Facebook and Twitter.

Eye On Springfield with Jared Stimpfl from Secret Cutter

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Secret Cutter are a band that came out of nowhere for me. I randomly added them to my wishlist on Bandcamp and was very quickly gifted their album through the #MetalBandcampGiftClub. Their doomy grind/hardcore immediately caught my attention and proceeded to bludgeon me over the head repeatedly. I was immediately hooked and have listened to Self-Titled at least once a day since. The three piece create an incredibly heavy sound through just drums/guitar/vocals. There is no bass and you don’t miss it. In fact, I didn’t even notice until I started looking into Secret Cutter’s background that they didn’t have a bass player.

Drummer Jared Stimpfl was kind enough to nerd out on The Simpsons for me and I can’t thank him enough.

 

What is your history with The Simpsons? Do you remember the first time you saw the show?

I can’t even remember the first time I watched the Simpsons…But I was always excited for prime time TV Sunday nights for a new episode when I was a kid.

Who is your favorite character?

I love Troy McClure because he is always a part of something ridiculous. And Ned Flanders because he was super wholesome and you kinda hated him for it…until he ‘kills’ his wife!

Do you have a favorite episode(s)?

I love the Japan episode where the family travels there but has to go on a game show to win tickets back home…there was a moment when Homer loses his ticket and yells out in Japanese in a really long and angry way…and the caption of course was “D’oh!” So many good lines in that episode….FISH BULB.

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The Simpsons has had a wide array of guest stars. Do you have a favorite?

Not really sure!

Who from the world of metal would you love to see guest on the show?

Well he was already on so…JONATHAN DAVIS OF KORN!

What character would you be most excited to find out was a fan of Secret Cutter?

Otto Mann because he’s always rockin something right? He should be driving the bus full of children to “Self Titled” for sure.

Do you have a favorite musical number from the show? Also, what band would you love to see cover said song?

When Bart switches out the church Hym for “In A Gadda Da Vida” by Iron Butterfly was always my favorite. And I would only want to see them do it. OR Bongzilla.

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I’ve always thought that Lisa Simpson would be the one character to eventually discover metal or punk. What character do you think will be a metal head?

Millhouse for sure. He reminded me of me as a kid…just awkward. Then I found metal. And i’m still Awkward.
Do you still watch the new episodes of the show? If not, do you remember why you stopped watching?

I don’t unfortunately…I remember when family guy rebooted I started watching that more and then eventually ditched cable.

Finally, how would you like to see the series end? Any ideas on where you would like to see the family end up?

That’s a tough one…Possibly Homer obliterating Springfield from job negligence and everyone dies a slow painful toxic death while ‘Aftermath” from Origin paints the landscapes behind their screams. That would be pretty cool.

 

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Follow Secret Cutter at:
Secret Cutter Bandcamp
Secret Cutter Facebook
Secret Cutter Twitter

Album Review: Demo MMXVI by Necrolytic Goat Converter

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Trying to review a demo is like judging a TV show on its first season. Take The Simpsons for example: the first season is rough. It’s full of animation glitches and defects. The jokes are there, but not as perfectly crafted as they would become during season 2 and beyond. This metaphor can be used when looking at a bands demo as well. It’s to be expected that a demo will have a less than stellar recording, but like any good TV show, the moments of genius will shine through.

Demo MMXVI is the first recording from Necrolytic Goat Converter, a one man project from Chris Voss. Using NGC as a way to express his thoughts about depression and isolation, Chris has made an excellent demo for those into 80’s/90’s death metal. The songs all have a mid-paced feel (or what I take as mid-paced in a world of tech-death overload) that wouldn’t feel out of place being played along side Covenant/Domination era Morbid Angel. And while the demo feels like it could be a long lost relic of the last century, the songs have enough modern metal aspect to keep them interesting and memorable. ‘Second Skin’ has a nice melodic middle section that will burrow it’s way into your skull and never leave. It also features a great solo towards the 4 minute mark.
The instrumentation throughout the demo is remarkable. While not being overly showy, the musicianship and competence Chris shows for each instrument is exceptional. The bass and drums (I’m still not 100% sure on whether or not the drums are a drum machine or real) play off of each other well while propping up Chris’s real strength: the guitar playing. Voss knows his way around some riffs. They’re catchy without losing speed or heaviness. I could see a song like ‘Throne Of Cold’ being an early At The Gates song, even down to his almost Tomas Lindberg style vocals.
Lyrically, Voss paints vivid pictures of sadness. “Upon your head there lies a broken crown/You are the King of all you are/There is no hope for absolution/Your soul is ground into the dust/In sunless skies I watch the universe collapse/Beneath the branches of my grave”, from ‘Absolution’, is an exceptional lyric that hits me hard.. It’s sung, as opposed to screamed, and fits well in the overall scheme of what ends up being my favorite song. It’s a doomy death metal jam that is reminiscent of parts of Turn Loose The Swans era My Dying Bride and completely nails the sound and feeling of isolation. The follow up song, ‘The Futility Of Self Revision’, is a great companion piece to ‘Absolution’, as well.
Demo MMXVI isn’t perfect. The sound quality, like most demos, leaves much to be desired. Some stuff muddles together a bit, but nothing that takes away from the enjoyment. And like most first recordings, Voss wears his influenced on his sleeve. But all in all, Demo MMXVI is a stellar beginning to what I hope is a long string of albums from Chris Voss, be it under the Necrolytic Goat Converter name (which I understand is basically a joke name created from a conversation on Facebook) or something else down the line. Voss shows an excellent command of his instruments and I look forward to hearing what he has coming up next.
Album Highlights: Absolution, The Futility Of Self Revision, Throne Of Cold, Withdrawn
You can pick up a digital copy of Demo MMXVI on Bandcamp HERE! It’s up for Pay What You Want, but support Chris so he can make more music!

#MetalBandcampGiftClub Spotlight

This week’s, I’m focusing on the first two albums I was gifted through the #MetalBandcampGiftClub. Both of these have become absolute favorites of mine. Their heavy and as different as you can get.

Dragged Into Sunlight & Gnaw Their Tongues – N.V.

DISGTT

N.V. is a dark, heavy, and brutal album. The collaboration between Dragged Into Sunlight’s grim and harsh sound with Gnaw Their Tongue’s uncomfortable noise is a must have for anyone into either band. Featuring unnerving samples from serial killers amongst the chaotic and vicious sounds, N.V. is an incredible listening experience. Check it out HERE!

N.V. was gifted to me by Ross McKendrick

 

 

Panopticon – Autumn Eternal

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Panopticon is hands down the best project/band in black metal. Austin Lunn is brilliant and bold and creates some of the mot unique albums I’ve ever heard. Following the groundbreaking Kentucky and Roads To The North, Autumn Eternal follows in the footprints of both of those albums. Lunn’s take on Appalachian bluegrass and black metal is infectious and breathtaking. This is an album you don’t want to miss out on. Check it out HERE!

Autumn Eternal was gifted to me by Head Ov Metal.

To find out about the #MetalBandcampGiftClub and join in on the fun, visit metalbandcampgiftclub.com for all the info you need!

Otto’s Band Of The Week

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Starting this week, I’m retiring the Band Crush Wednesday tag as a way to incorporate more Simpsons into the page. So, from now on, I’ll be doing ‘Otto’s Band Of The Week’. This weeks band is California’s doom metal practitioners, Pendulous.

I actually discovered Pendulous through the Full Metal Hipster podcast and immediately fell in love with their My Dying Bride meets post punk take on gothic doom. Their songs are slow and mournful and often times beautiful. I don’t want to play the My Dying Bride comparison up too much, but fans of theirs will fall in love with Pendulous immediately.
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Forming in 2011, Pendulous have two releases under their belts: 2013’s Mirrored Confessions EP, and 2015’s A Palpable Sense Of Love And Lost full length. Both albums are excellent showcases of what can be done with funeral doom when you incorporate other elements less expected from a metal band. The bass often times sounds like mid-80’s Cure, especially Faith era. There are occasional fast and almost upbeat sounding moments, like the beginning of ’40 Years’.
It’s odd to think about a band like Pendulous being from California and not Europe. They’re sound is so drenched in European in melancholy that it’s hard to picture them wondering around Los Angeles at all. But is gothic/funeral doom is your thing, you’d be hard pressed to find a band doing it as well as Pendulous right now.
At the time of this post, Pendulous has both of their albums on Bandcamp for Pay What You Want. But throw these dudes some money if you can. 

Album Review: No One Deserves Happiness by The Body

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Even after a good 5 years of listening, The Body are a band that continue to confound me. I don’t mean this in a negative way, but more of a “I’ve listened to this album 50 times and still have no idea what the fuck is happening” kind of way. Their take on doom is usually buried underneath beats and noise, sometimes completely obscuring whatever “normal” instrumentation is taking place.

After a string of collaboration albums, most notably with Thou and Kreig, The Body are back with their first solo full length since 2014’s I Shall Die Here. No One Deserves Happiness is a mindfuck of an album.  Chip King and Lee Buford stated that they were out to make the “grossest pop album of all time”, and they’ve definitely achieved that in spades. Featuring a handful of tracks with Assembly of Light Choir’s Chrissy Wolpert on clean vocals, the album is a pretty weird mix of weird pop and The Body’s typical harsh noise laden doom. The combination almost seems at odds with one another, but after a few listens, No One Deserves Happiness starts to make sense.
Fittingly enough, the most interesting thing about the album are the more pop oriented tracks. Wolpert’s vocals are soothing and add a nice bit of beauty to the ugliness she’s singing over. A track like ‘Adamah’ wouldn’t seem out of place being sung by Bjork. Opening track ‘Wandering’ features a great duet, for lack of a better word, between Wolpert’s clean vocals and King’s buried shrieks. It makes for an interesting opener and definitely had me confused as to whether I had the right album or not for the first minute and a half.
But don’t let all of this talk about clean vocals and pop music fool you, this album is gnarly. The third track, ‘For You’, is the full mode ugliness that’s usually associated with The Body. It’s two and a half minutes of suffocating noise with a brief but welcome drum beat for about 30 seconds in the middle. It’s one of my favorite parts of the album and works as an excellent one-two punch with the following track, ‘Hallow/Hollow.’
Overall, the album works as a whole, but it definitely leaves me wondering how it would be taken if it was split into two EP’s, one for the more pop sounding songs and one for the heavier songs. Either way, fans of The Body won’t disappointed and No One Deserves Happiness adds a new aspect to The Body that should make their future interesting. Their mix of noise, doom, and industrial griminess works wonders when added to pop beats and clean vocals. I’d be really interested in hearing them record an entire album like the more pop oriented songs on No One Deserves Happiness.
Go into this album with an open mind. It’s disorienting and weird and often times wonderful. It’s an album that needs your full attention to pick out the subtle details within. Those willing and patient enough won’t be disappointed.
You can pre-order No One Deserves Happiness at The Body’s Bandcamp page HERE or a plethora of physical packages through Thrill Jockey HERE.
No One Deserves Happiness is out March 18.

BCW – Monolithe

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Forming in 2001, Monolithe having been releasing some of the best doom this century. Wallowing in the same slow waters as funeral doom band Skepticism (whom they covered the song ‘Edges’ for a tribute album).

Monolithe have been releasing albums since 2003, the first four of which are part of the same concept storyline. Starting with Monolithe I and ending with Monolithe IV, the story focuses on the origin of mankind while digging deeper throughout the four albums. There were also two free EP’s released online in between Monolithe II and Monolithe III.

Monolithe recently released their new album, Epsilon Aurigae, which is the first to not be a part of the origin of mankind storyline. It’s a new area for Monolithe both thematically and musically. They’ve always pushed their sound into newer territories with each release, and Epsilon Aurigae is no different. It’s still extremely slow and heavy, but with a new sense of purpose. The atmosphere on the three tracks is incredible and must be heard.

You can buy Epsilon Aurigae HERE.

Follow Monolithe at:
Monolithe Facebook

 

BCW – Un

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Un are a funeral doom band with some heavy sludge elements that I recently discovered and have completely fell in love with. I can’t find a whole lot of information about them as their name makes it almost impossible to search. I know they’re from Seattle and features a member of the phenomenal Samothrace.  So far, they’ve released one demo and a self-titled EP. Their first full length, The Tomb Of All Things, is set to be released on December 4th, via Black Bow Records. I’ve listened to the album at least once a day since receiving the promo and can say it’s definitely one of the top 10 albums I’ve heard this year. It’s extremely slow and crushing, but has a nice sense of melody that makes everything incredibly memorable.

Follow Un at:
Un Bandcamp
Un Facebook

Album Review: Survey The Wreckage by Wildspeaker

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Sometimes you come across a band that fits so perfectly into your life that after hearing them, you can’t fathom how you ever got through life without them. Wildspeaker fit firmly into that category for me. Everything about them speaks deeply to me. Wildspeaker’s first full length, Survey The Wreckage, have created an album that resonates with me down to my core.

Wildspeaker are from Texas and play a form of powerviolence/hardcore with lots of black metal and doom influences. The riffs are incredibly catchy and memorable and interplay well with the bass and drums, the former being a major highlight throughout the album. The drummer manages to hold all of the chaos together while switching between grindcore fast blasts and doom inspired breakdowns.

The thing that makes the album resonate with me so deeply, though, is the lyrics and vocals. Natalie sounds ferocious while screaming about how mankind is ruining the Earth. Her lyrics are inspiring and highlight a lot of problems with how people view nature and abuse the Earth without any thought as to how we’re basically shitting where we eat. “Let the lands cry out. They silently beg us to quietly retreat on hind legs. Fauna and flora grieve. We are an invasive species” from the song ‘Invasive Species’ are a prime example and one of my favorite lyrics on the album.

Wildspeaker are a band with a bright future. They have enough different influences stirred into their powerviolence to keep things interesting. The samples and segues interspersed throughout the album add a nice touch. Even after the album ends, the themes will linger with you, making you second guess some of the decisions you make. Survey The Wreckage is an instant classic in my mind and will hopefully find it’s place in the pantheon of crust and powerviolence. I hold Wildspeaker in the same high praise as His Hero Is Gone or Reversal Of Man. Pick up Survey The Wreckage and find out why.

 

Highlights: Survey The Wreckage, Invasive Species, Abrupt Decay, Powerlines, Reclamation.

Pick up Survey The Wreckage at Wildspeaker’s Bandcamp.