After the success of our latest edition, including a certain teary-eyed black metaller who was flattered by our blurb, we’re back with yet more “small” releases for you guys to peruse.
Considering that the music industry is in a bit of a bad zone (if we are honest, they’ve been digging their grave for a while) it’s always good to give new guys a chance. We have a lot of great stuff here, so make sure to check them all out!
[section label=”Borracho/Cortez Split”]
Borracho – Know my name / Cortez – Vanishing Point
Borracho have been taking the stoner rock/metal world by storm, having shared the stage with such legendary bands as Saint Vitus, Fu Manchu and Jucifer. They’ve released two full-length records, both of which have garnered a lot of praise in the media, and have now released their latest split with Cortez.
Borracho’s track, “Know My Name,” starts off with a super fuzzed out guitar riff, followed by the whole band crashing in, and instantly makes the statement that Borracho are here to destroy some speakers. The music is of the desert rock variety, a la Fu Manchu, and rocks loud and hard. The vocals leave a little to be desired, having a bit of a gritty quality to them that sound like a mix between Lee Dorian of Cathedral and Scott Weiland, formerly of Stone Temple Pilots. There’s plenty of rock and roll swagger and attitude, but it’s not the most tuneful thing you’ve ever heard; this is sad, since the music itself is pretty rocking.
Cortez actually upstage Borracho a bit with their track, “Vanishing Point,” which features a faster tempo and a better vocal performance. The music is also planted firmly in the stoner genre, with the fuzzy guitars and bluesy solos, but with a more overtly metal feel. It’s similar to The Sword, but with better vocals, sung with a gritty feel and in a higher register than Borracho.
Overall, this split release can’t really be called anything more than just okay, despite Cortez’s valiant effort to release the kraken, so to speak. The riffs just don’t stand out from anything else in the genre, and while they do their best to ruin your sound system with volume, they’re also brought down, in Borracho’s case, with a poor vocal performance.
Cave of Swimmers – Cave of Swimmers
Label: The Path Less Traveled Records
Cave of Swimmers are an interesting duo based out of Miami, Florida, consisting of Guillermo on bass guitar, 6 string guitar, vocals, and moog synthesizer, and Arturo on drums and vocals, both of whom are originally from Venezuela.
This band is hard to categorize, due to the randomness found throughout their songs (e.g. the Latin drum beat that comes out of nowhere in “Hangman”). While the guitar work is very 70’s hard rock influenced, almost psychedelic at times, rather reminiscent of Santana’s early work, but there are some pretty crushing riffs as well, like in “Materia.” Even though the randomness sometimes gets mildly irritating, you don’t get the feeling that it was all thrown together for the sake of being different, but rather that it was all very calculated.
There’s a tongue in cheek feel to it all, as Cave of Swimmers kick out some seriously heavy jams, but with a healthy dose of humor injected into the mood, reminiscent of The Melvins. In fact, the vocals remind me of Buzz Osbourne’s higher register, and the riffs are sludgy and heavy, with a little classic rock and roll swagger thrown in there.
Cave Of Swimmers is a unique demo, and certainly deserves a few spins; it’s not the kind of thing you can just make an opinion about in only one sitting, as little things reveal themselves with repeated listens. If you like more serious-minded music, the randomness and somewhat goofy vibe will probably throw you off completely, but if you like some humor and dig bands like Clutch, or The Melvins, this is definitely for you.
[section label=”The Infernal Sea/Old Corpse Road Split”]
The Infernal Sea / Old Corpse Road – Insidious Art And Serpentine Rites
The Infernal Sea open with the cacophonous “Tannis Root,” a very moody piece that starts off with the obligatory nature sounds you typically hear on black metal releases. This all gives way to a chorus of shrieks and growls that float in like some kind of nightmare, then fading into one viciously brutal guitar riff. I’m reminded very strongly of Gorgoroth, particularly their work in Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam, even if The Infernal Sea are a little more melodic at times.
Although Old Corpse Road were given the difficult task of following that blistering opening act, they show that they’re more than up for the challenge with their own tune, “The Sockburn Worm.” Right of the bat, you’re sent flying head first into a storm of blast beats, lighting fast guitars, and shrieked vocals, with some synths reminiscent of Emperor. Where The Infernal Sea go for a more raw and heavy approach, Old Corpse Road go for an epic and more bombastic form of black metal, very orchestral in its execution. The vocals are all over the map, from deep guttural death growls and ear-splitting shrieks to choruses of clean vocals and lengthy spoken word passages. Old Corpse Road are true storytellers, and create an atmosphere that feels like you’re watching a battle in some cinema period piece.
This split release is a must have for any black metal fan that loves the Norwegian originators Gorgoroth and Emperor, as The Infernal Sea and Old Corpse Road sound, respectively, quite similar to them. That’s not to say that they’re copying them, as both bands are certainly carving their own niche, and deserve to have their entire back catalogues listened to.
[section label=”Al Namrood – Heen Yadhar Al Ghasq“]
Al Namrood – Heen Yadhar Al Ghasq
Location: Saudi Arabia
Label: Shaytan Productions
In such a competitive genre, it’s all too common for bands to make audacious statements about their art to make it stand out from the crowd. One of the most familiar tactics, that of ‘coining a new genre’, clicked for Al-Namrood back in 2008, with their reward being a dedicated cult following, drawn to their uniquely-bizarre self-proclaimed label of ‘oriental black metal’. As it often happens when artists attach their music to a hollow label, Al-Namrood have spent years honing their craft in order fully realise their claims; the result of this process is some of the most peculiar metal you’ll ever hear, something that is made clear on their record Heen Yadhar Al Ghasq.
Identifying with a genre like ‘oriental black metal’ can be hard to live up to. While most bands’ attempts at this sort of experimentation would be, “let’s add a few obscure folk instruments over the riffs and call it a day”, that’s not what happened here. While the band does experiment with an assortment of unusual instrumentation (and rather playfully, at that), these affect the songwriting in a much more conscious way, rather than just being an afterthought to add some variety to the songs. An exotic range of pipes, strings and steel drums work in twine with grinding guitars and manic percussion that, although feel distinctly metal, possess a serious avant-garde spin. The tone of the record evokes typical black metal feelings of disorder, corruption, death and evil, but conveyed in a much more fanatical, passionate sense. It’s not a guy in corpsepaint yelling about how much his life sucks, it’s a maniacal town crier preaching the end of the world, something that is really brought to life by vocalist Mukadars, who puts huge amounts of energy and theatrics into his performance; although his skills as a vocalist may not be much, his unique and skittish vocal delivery alone makes the record worth checking. I was honestly expecting him to break into ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’ any second!
If you’re bored with traditionalists in Europe, and you think the USBM scene is going nowhere, look over to Saudi Arabia. Those guys are getting somewhere. Much like Peste Noire and Sigh, if you dig unconventional, grotesque, insane, outrageous and captivating black metal, I cannot recommend Al-Namrood enough.
-Sunny[section label=”Warckon – High Treason”]
Warckon – High Treason
Label: Emanes Metal Records
Warckon’s new full-length, High Treason, ticks all the boxes of a great thrash album. Blisteringly fast? Check. Deliciously self-indulgent riffs? Check. Gracefully nimble-yet-powerful drumming? Checkarooney. Following up from 2011’s promising but dishearteningly-modest The Madman’s Lullaby, the new High Treason is a hedonistic danse macabre of psychotic riffs and depraved vocals.
It’s easy to trace the Warckon’s influences back to the classics, all the way to acts like Venom and The Faith. The prevalent nods to early crossover thrash in the songwriting are a great touch, but with enough of a modern edge to keep the band from being tied down by their influences. Take for instance the gang vocals on ‘The Weak’ bursting into a spirited vocal soar that travels along with the mad guitar fills. There’s a whole lot of variety in this record, and you can seriously tell that these guys had a lot of fun writing it. It feels really authentic.
Like their other modern thrash contemporaries, such as Vektor, the band’s striking resemblance to those they revere can be a crutch to their creativity. Regardless, Warckon’s music is simply aimed at being entertaining, genuine and good; it isn’t bogged-down in the conceptual lyricism or over-ambitiousness of their last record, instead going for that ‘fuck yeah!’ quality.
Keep an eye on these dudes, they’re definitely worth watching. Oh, and they look goddamn fantastic live.
Another week, another bunch of great indie releases.
We would like to thank all of the bands who submitted their material for review and are looking forward to what more you guys can come up with.
If you have a release that you’d like to have reviewed, do not hesitate to contacts us!