Nunslaughter – Red Is the Color of Ripping Death (Hells Headbangers)
It might be recency bias, but it appears that Don of the Dead (alias Donald Crotsley) is just now hitting his stride when his long-running Nunslaughter band is concerned. Because Red is the Color of Ripping Death is easily the best LP he has put out with Nunslaughter since the project’s inception way back in the 1980s. While the band’s discography contains a plethora of EPs, splits, and live records—their number matched only by the countless musicians that accompanied Crotsley during the years—none of them felt quite as defining, well-rounded or varied as this new record, which amplifies death with bits and pieces of sludge, thrash, and black metal.
The fourteen cuts roar with confidence and take no prisoners. That holds true from the brutal crunch and fuzz opening of “Murmur” right to the end of “Below the Cloven Hoof” that sinks in a pit of pure groove and insanity. Add to that exquisite production and mastering, which make the album sound simultaneously disgusting and strangely pleasing, and it quickly becomes clear how Red is the Color of Ripping Death is a must-hear for fans of extreme metal of any shape or form. – Antonio Poscic
Osi and the Jupiter – Stave (Eisenwald)
While there are at least a few other releases in this column that are examples of superb atmosphere building in metal, none of them come close to the sublime dark folk of Ohio’s Osi And The Jupiter. Steeped in the cold, harsh, and strikingly beautiful weather of the Appalachian mountains, Sean Kratz’s new album Stave belongs in a place long gone or a place that perhaps never was.
At times, as the cello weeps sepia tears and the guitar plucks gently away, the emotional heaviness reflected by and from nature between the notes becomes almost palpable. You can feel the chill on your skin in those passages. You can taste the earthy mystique of the woods. But there are also glimmers of proper folk-rock songs among the ambient swells of neo-folk strings. These fragments of memories are paradoxes that simultaneously deepen the mood and reinvigorate the soul until there is nothing left to do but to surrender and let go. – Antonio Poscic
Our Place of Worship Is Silence – Disavowed, and Left Hopeless (Translation Loss)
As I write this review, it’s a lovely late summer day outside. Yet as “The Conspiracy Against Cruelty” ushers in the second LP by Los Angeles duo Our Place of Worship is Silence, the sky suddenly goes dark, and pungent heaviness permeates the air. The opening few minutes of Disavowed, and Left Hopeless are dissonant and dissolving, textural and elusive like a buckling barrier holding back god knows what unnamed horror.
That curtain unavoidably falls with an explosion, leaving Tim (Lake of Blood) and Eric (Xibalba, Lake of Blood) to unfold a tapestry of chaotic and extremely nasty black and death metal. At specific points, the concoction of riffs dripping with filth and resounding drum hits flows furiously like a river of molten lava from hell. At others, it transforms into a crashing and crushing boom that forces the world to tremble. As a whole, it makes for a shocking and profoundly affecting listen, its final notes leaving a taste of blood and lead in the mouth. – Antonio Poscic
Oxygen Destroyer – Sinister Monstrosities Spawned by the Unfathomable Ignorance of Humankind (Redefining Darkness)
The music of Seattle’s power quartet Oxygen Destroyer exists on the fertile divide between death and thrash metal, where wicked double bass drums and inhuman growls meet crunchy riffs and chugging grooves. Add to that a sprinkling of black metal and what you get is Sinister Monstrosities Spawned by the Unfathomable Ignorance of Humankind, an album as intent on emitting ear-destroying blow as it is in providing comic relief like the kaiju movies it riffs on. From start to finish, its eight cuts are the definition of fun, with a curious elation contained in its supremely fast sections, bumbling breaks, and the fragments of dialogue from the 1961 cult monster movie Gorgo. – Antonio Poscic
Sunk Heaven – THE FVCKHEAѪTED LVNG (American Dreams)
The innards of metal and other transgressive genres like power electronics are often utterly bland and safe. They punch down instead of up and fail to challenge power while flouting purported rebelliousness. If metal’s more out-there variants have in recent times finally been appropriated by antifascists, feminists, LGBTIQ+, people of color, and other underprivileged groups, its more traditional strains remain escapist fantasies at best, but more often than not align with implicit reactionary politics.
Placed next to them, the music of New York artist Austin Sley Julian (alias Sunk Heaven) seems tame at first. His aesthetic consists of electroacoustic effects, found sounds, and transmuted vocals that rarely play the card of aural aggression. The tracks’ sound design is sublime, sometimes toying with razing textures or sharp individual noises, but never assaulting. Yet the true power of THE FVCKHEAѪTED LVNG travels beneath the surface, slipping between interstices of existential terror and a sense of powerlessness. Mainly, it communicates a disgust of having no choice but to live how we live and a certain helplessness against the dominant system. That leads to an endless spiral: the system generates apathy, then uses it as fuel for self-proliferation.
But as the album progresses, pleasing techno phrases and faintly industrial patterns gain energy until they become harsh noise. Meanwhile, Sley Julian raises his voice and shapes it into an axe to smash the glass dome of the status quo. The contrast between these peaks and the murmuring sustained discomfort of the rest of his collaged instrumentals is thrilling. It feels like a painful manifestation of the sword of Damocles. It sounds like a warning to the slowly boiling amphibian. Wake up and look around. – Antonio Poscic