Mantar – The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze (Review)

MantarThis is the third album from Mantar, a German black metal band.

I’m a latecomer to Mantar’s work, but I can tell you that if you’re looking for filthy, ugly blackened metallic punk that’s still catchy as fuck, then they stand head and shoulders above most of their peers. Continue reading

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Monthly Overview – the Best of February 2018

Oh my. There has been some very good stuff released this month. Let’s have a look… Continue reading

Ilsa – Corpse Fortress (Review)

IlsaThis is the fifth album from US sludge metal band Ilsa.

Ilsa are well-known around these parts for being prime suppliers of dirty, heavy, riff-driven kicking metallic sludge. 2015’s The Felon Claw and 2012’s Intoxicantations in particular were both huge, crushing records which still get regular rotation from yours truly. Continue reading

Monster Coyote – Neckbreaker (Review)

Monster CoyoteThis is the third album from Brazilian Sludge/Stoner Metal band Monster Coyote.

With a colossal and crushing sound, Neckbreaker holds nothing back. The album is aptly named, let’s just say that.

Living in the same hinterland between styles that is inhabited by bands such as Ilsa, Serpent Eater, Northless, Colombian Necktie and the like, Monster Coyote play heavy, nasty music that’s too upbeat to be Doom, too gnarly to be pure Metal, and too rocking to be Death Metal. It’s somewhat how you might imagine Mastodon would sound if they had fallen in love with heavier, nastier music after their first release, or maybe Clutch if they developed a love of Sludge Metal.

The singer has a formidable roar that doesn’t let up. His caustic, gruff tones are a joy to listen to as the music rumbles and chugs its way through the 40 minutes of playing time.

The music is all about the crushing riffs and relentlessly aggressive heaviness. What separates them from some of their peers though is that instead of fusing this with Doom or Hardcore, they instead choose to fuse it with a Stoner Rock sensibility that means these tracks are all endowed with high energy and furious vitality.

The band know their stuff when it comes to playing and some of the longer tracks give them ample opportunity to develop their art. The drums in particular are a really satisfying listen, all rolls and pounding beats.

Emotive without being weak and strong without being brutish, Neckbreaker is the perfect recommendation for anyone into heavy, aggressive music that knows how to rock the fuck out.

Highly recommended.

Seven Sisters of Sleep – Ezekiel’s Hags (Review)

Seven Sisters of SleepThis is the third album from the USA’s Seven Sisters of Sleep. They play Sludge Metal.

On this album Seven Sisters of Sleep combine a lot of influences from a wide array of nasty, extreme sub-genres into their potent brew of Sludge Metal. Doom, Hardcore, Death Metal, Black Metal, Grindcore…it pretty much all gets a look in at some point in these 50 minutes.

This is nasty music that seems to revel in the filth and dirt, with no stone of depravity left unturned or unsoiled.

This is a wild and dangerous ride through all things heavy, taking pit stops in the aforementioned styles and mashing them together with all of the subtlety of a maniac with a very big hammer. Having said that though, there’s a fierce guiding intelligence at play behind the scenes here, and the band obviously know what they’re doing with the material they have bloodily birthed.

There are a lot of giant riffs on this release and whether the band are playing fast, slow or anywhere in between, they steer this ship of gloom with unerring accuracy through the fog of Sludge. Or something. I think my metaphors got a bit out of control there. Regardless, think of Ezekiel’s Hags as the nastiest form of Doom, shot through with streaks of blast beats and a predilection for terror.

The vocals are every bit as nasty as the music, even more so as they have a real splenetic fury to them.

This is an exceptional release full of horrorful energy and a testament to what you can do with the variety and interest that can be had with Sludge Metal.

I can easily imagine fans of Ilsa, Serpent Eater, Secret Cutter, Colombian Necktie, Cult of Occult, Behold! The Monolith, Nightslug and Eyehategod taking a real shine to this. I know I have.

Interview with Ilsa

Ilsa Logo

Ilsa are one of the best Sludge Metal bands out there. After the electrifying Intoxicantations and now their crushing new album The Felon’s Claw, I’ve been privileged to fire some questions at their drummer, Joshy…

For those who are unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself!

Ilsa is comprised of five people: Orion is the vocalist, Joshy (me) plays drums, Tim plays guitar, Brendan also plays guitar, and Sharad plays bass guitar.

Give us a bit of history to Ilsa

We formed in early 2008 after the guitar player in our former band tried to punch somebody on the other side of a window that happened to be closed. After that, due to a lack of connected tendons in his arm he couldn’t play guitar, and we started Ilsa as a way to take up time while he recuperated. Obviously Ilsa ended up being the main band for us after that.

What are your influences?

Musically I’d say our influences are Bolt Thrower, Amebix, Asphyx, Townes Van Zandt, Dead Moon, Morbid Angel, Burning Witch, The Plasmatics, Thin Lizzy, a bunch of other stuff.

What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?

At this very moment I am listening to Pink Floyd, I would recommend them very highly. Other stuff I’ve been into lately would be Alan Parsons project, Primitive Man, Forn, honestly I listen to a bunch of really lame shit like Air Supply and Chicago and things like that. I’ve really been into Eddie Hazel lately, I think he’s a really underrated guitarist. Oh and the Saga demos from Iron Age are amazing!

Ilsa BandWhat did you want to achieve with your new album?

I wanted to make the heaviest most thought provoking yet lunkheaded album ever recorded.

How do you go about writing the songs?

Generally I write songs in my basement and record them on my computer, then bring them to practice and show everybody and we go from there. Or somebody will bring some riffs to practice and we’ll work with them and build them there. I personally write much better when I’m by myself in my little dungeon

What can you tell us about the lyrics?

Well Orion would be the best at explaining the lyrics, but I can say that one goal that he has always had was to think of our songs as spells and our concerts as rituals. I don’t personally believe in mystical or supernatural powers, but I think that if words were capable of any tangible power like you would find in a ritualistic setting then it would be the veracity behind them that produced it. In that sense, I feel like our songs would have more power than you would find at any church.

What is your favourite song on the album and why?

I think my favorite is Buried In the Bedrock and Concrete of Our Cities, because I think it’s the most successful in my attempts to make a song that has memorable, heavy, and simple riffs.

What do you feel the main differences are between Intoxicantations and The Felon’s Claw – how have you changed between the two releases?

I don’t think there’s a ton different between the two, except I think this one is more focused. I think we were able to approach the idea of making music that is as stripped down as we could make it while still retaining a certain amount of brutality and heaviness in a way that we hadn’t been able to before.

Are you happy with how the album turned out?

I’m very happy with it. It’s my favorite album yet. Of course there are always things you wish you could have changed or tweaked in retrospect, but there are way fewer of those things on this album than any before it.

How do you see your songs/direction developing in the future?

Like I mentioned before, the goal for me is to make songs that are as simple and basic as they can be without being boring. I think there are few things that sound as good as a heavy guitar with a solid, driving beat behind it to bang your head to. That’s really all I’m personally trying to do with Ilsa. The other guys may have different goals, but so far whatever our individual ideas are they seem to all be reachable by the same approach, so that’s good.

What’s next for Ilsa?

We’ve got a couple of splits coming out, one with the awesome Japanese death/doom band Coffins, and one with the Hardcore/D-beat band Greta. There’s another split that could possibly happen, but it’s too early to talk about at this point. If it does work out, it could possibly be the heaviest split ever released! We’ve got a few local shows coming up, and we will be playing at Don’t Call it a Fest in Detroit this year with Eyehategod, In Cold Blood, Noisem, and a bunch of others.

Ilsa – The Felon’s Claw (Review)

IlsaIlsa are a Sludge Metal band from the US, and this is their fourth album.

I’m a huge fan of Ilsa’s last album Intoxicantations. It’s such an excellent album with an immense sound that it’s been a firm favourite of mine since I first reviewed it. To say I was excited when this new release popped into my inbox was an understatement.

This is filthy, unpleasant music that only true Metal fans could like. It’s horrendously ugly and disgustingly depraved and we fucking love it that way. Ilsa are masters of their formidable blend of Sludge, Doom, Crust and Punk.

They retain their heavier-than-Hell sound and it’s great to hear them just crash into the first track Oubliette without any preamble.

The vocals are still snarling, vicious beasts that seem to rend and tear their way through the playing time. This attitude is apparent from the very first rabid bark and the intensity is kept up throughout all 48 minutes.

Once more, each song has its own identity and character. This is a complete album, holistically, but like Intoxicantations, The Felon’s Claw is made up of individually identifiable songs. So many bands are incapable of this, for some reason, so it’s great when you can put an album on randomly and it’s easy to identify what song is playing and where it sits in the running order. After a few spins, of course.

On this new release Ilsa sound a bit slower and groovier than their last outing. They still step up the speed on occasion, but overall the Doom/Sludge side of their sound is more prevalent. With riffs that could capsize ocean liners, Ilsa populate their disgusting landscape with ugly landmarks that you can’t help but stare at in wonder.

Well, I’m extremely pleased with what the band have produced here. Ilsa have not disappointed.

There’s no reason, none whatsoever, for you to not get this.

Colombian Necktie – Twilight Upon Us (Review)

Colombian NecktieColombian Necktie are from the US and this is their début album.

The band have a basis in Hardcore but build elements of Sludge and Metal on top of this to create something heavy, raw and nasty. I’ve been watching this band’s development over the last few splits and EPs that they have released and it seems that with this album they’ve taken everything they’ve learned and ramped it up to the maximum.

A suitably crushing sound heralds the start of the album and it immediately draws you in. The recording is arid, focused and everything sounds both tight and loose at the same time.

Colombian Necktie have a relatively varied sound that employs bits from many different Metal subgenres and puts them to work creating this monument to Hardcore Sludge. Sludgecore, if you will. And I’m glad they did as it sounds just great.

This belongs to the same stable of bands such as Charger, Eyehategod, Enabler, Mistress, Serpent Eater, Ilsa, etc. – bands that are doing their own thing by their own rules and make a virtue out of the heavy, filthy and unclean.

For the most part Colombian Necktie’s songs are tightly compressed balls of rage. Hardcore and Sludge sensibilities combine along with the odd Stoner Rock moment to create an album with a vicious swagger and an attitude that just won’t quit. Add to this the odd synth effect, some other interesting ideas and the emotional closing track Kevin’s Song, (which is by far the longest track here), and you have an engaging and diverse album.

The singer is impressively rabid the whole time and sounds like he would be great live, which of course can be extended to the entire band.

Considering their past releases I was hoping this would be a good album but they have more than exceeded my expectations in this. I knew it would be of a certain quality but wasn’t expecting an album of this depth and nuance.

A highly recommended listen for all connoisseurs of heaviness.

Secret Cutter – Self-Titled (Review)

Secret CutterSecret Cutter are from the US and this is their début album. They play Sludge Metal with an added side of Hardcore/Punk.

The Secret Cutter sound is one of pure unbridled filth, fury and fucking heaviness. This is aggressive and nasty in only the way that Sludge and really pissed off Hardcore can be, and when combined like this it just sounds gloriously horrible!

Think of bands like Eyehategod, Serpent Eater, Ilsa, Corrupt Moral Altar, Wolvhammer, Enabler and the like; distil what makes these bands so interesting, nasty and individual and you’ll have a good idea of the murky swamp of urban decay that Secret Cutter dwell in.

I love albums like this – no messing around, just undiluted heaviness and aggression, whether that’s done at speed or slowly. It’s rough, raw and genuine.

The Sludge is strong and works well with the added Hardcore/Punk influence that the band have.

The songs have a good degree of variety in them for a short album, (only 26 minutes), and within the style they play. Each song is readily identifiable also, (no mean feat for any band), and show a creative force at the top of their game.

They have some great riffs on this release and the songs are surprisingly catchy for this type of band. Although catchy probably isn’t the right term. Infectious, maybe?

Special mention should go to the singer, who absolutely rages and tears his way through the songs as if it’s the last thing he’s ever going to do. His high pitched screams are the very incarnation of savagery.

This really is a top quality release that has so many plus points it’s silly. In many ways this is the best of heavy, nasty music, and this is one I’ll be listening to over and over again.

Play it loud and get it now.

Ilsa – Intoxicantations (Review)

ilsaWell, isn’t this the proverbial hidden gem. Filthy, dirty sludge Metal with elements of thrash and death ‘n’ roll mixed in. Quite simply this is brilliant.

The overall feelings and structures of the songs are composed in such a way that this is a very complete album. Each song easily identifiable from the rest and together forming one of the most enjoyable albums I’ve listened to in a while. I haven’t been able to stop listening to this the last few days.

Very insipid; the riffs crawl their way into your subconscious and refuse to dislodge. The production miraculously manages to sound both dirty and clear at the same time. The guitar tone in particular is strong and powerful. Crushing in fact.

Each track has its own character and personality, comprising of top-shelf riffs and attitude. There is no filler here; each song is its own entity and more than capable of standing on its own merits.

Snarling, vicious vocals accompany the metallic mayhem and perfectly suit the musical vision of the rest of the band. As a reference point they are sometimes reminiscent of the Darkest Hour vocalist and have the same level of passion and legibility. The singer of Ilsa gives an excellent performance in all ways.

This album is first-rate. If you are a fan of metallic sludge and like plenty of depth and longevity in your music then this will certainly be a must for you. So far, alongside the first album by Morality Crisis, this is a very strong contender for album of the year as far as I’m concerned.