“Mature” probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind when one thinks of brutal death metal, hell it probably isn’t the five-hundredth word one thinks of. But I’ll be damned if Parables of Umbral Transcendence, the debut full-length from NY/FL-based project Swine Overlord isn’t a shockingly mature slab of BDM. The band has largely shed the slam leanings and cartoonish visual imagery of their earlier recordings in favor of a more pure brutal death metal sound accompanied by science fiction-influenced artwork, and as a result have released one of the genre’s best albums of 2014.
As a heavy metal fan, I’ve seen dozens of amazing shows. But I can probably count on one hand the number of shows that fully immersed me, the ones that made real life and all the horrific mundanity that goes with it melt away completely, the ones that made me feel like I was alone in the universe with nothing but the band and the music. Dispirit’s headlining set at the Starlite Lounge last Sunday night was one of them.
I’ve only talked about it a few times here on THKD, but those of you that know me personally and/or follow me on social media are no doubt aware of my unabashed love of all things KISS. As such, I couldn’t help but be a little excited when I heard that my favorite original member, lead guitarist Ace Frehley, had signed a deal with eOne Music and a new solo album was on the horizon. Frehley’s last effort, 2009’s Anomaly, was a solid slab of rock and the guitarist seemed poised to succeed where Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley had failed with the abysmal pair of recent faux-KISS records, Sonic Boom and Monster. After all, Frehley’s 1978 solo record was the last great KISS album, and is quite frankly more enjoyable front-to-back than many of the full-band KISS albums from the quartet’s classic era. Sure, 1978 was a long time ago, but considering the potential shown on Anomaly and the fact that Frehley was on-point when I saw him live a few years back, there was reason to be hopeful.
I’ve been following Santa Cruz’s Fiends at Feast ever since they self-released the excellent Shadows of Extinction EP back in 2011. In that time, they’ve signed to up-and-coming metal label Horror Pain Gore Death Productions and released an impressive debut full-length in the form of Towards the Baphomet’s Throne, an album that saw the band building upon their already considerable strengths, sharpening their songwriting and upping the musicianship factor. Continuing to capitalize on the momentum they’ve built for themselves over the past three years, the Fiends are back with what might be their most compelling set of songs yet on Purgatory Rites, a split with Madison, Wisconsin’s previously unknown (to me) Tragic Death.
Brooklyn, New York’s Spü is a multi-headed beast; part molten sludge, part scuzzy black metal and part even scuzzier noise rock. The trio recently self-released Deluge, a genre-blending maelstrom of filth that’s one of the most intriguing debut albums I’ve heard in 2014. It’s rare that a young band emerges with their sound fully formed, but Spü appear to have done just that with this killer tape.
Los Angeles, CA’s Gore House Productions has one of the most insane release schedules of any of the independent labels I regularly work with. Seriously, they pump out such a constant stream of awesome slam, brutal death metal and goregrind that you’d think this shit grew on trees. The latest GHP onslaught comes in the form of Systematic Mutilation, the second album from Vegas-based one-man wrecking crew Phalloplasty. Taking bits and pieces of all the aforementioned subgenres and hammering them into a bloody slab of brutality, Phalloplasty in many ways sums up everything GHP is about.
I’ve always believed that there’s something to be said for staunch traditionalism, especially when it comes to black metal. I often tire of the progressive tendencies the genre has picked up in recent years, especially here in the US; sometimes I just want to scream “cut the shit and get to the ear-raping already!” Fortunately, Sacramento, CA’s Killgasm exists, and their second album A Stab in the Heart of Christ is the ultra-corrosive antidote to the overly pretentious, meandering mess that much of the current crop of USBM has degenerated into.