Fiends at Feast / Tragic Death – Purgatory Rites (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions, 2014)

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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.

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Spü – Deluge (self-released, 2014)

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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.

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Phalloplasty – Systematic Mutilation (Gore House Productions, 2014)

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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.

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Killgasm – A Stab in the Heart of Christ (Moribund, 2014)

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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.

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Extremely Rotten – Zombification of the Masses (Gore House Productions, 2014)

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If you’re into brutality, Southern California’s Gore House Productions have been killing it in 2014, putting out a slew of excellent brutal death metal, slam and goregrind releases with no end in sight.  Among their latest is Zombification of the Masses, a quickie EP from Florida’s Extremely Rotten, featuring two tracks of slamming brutal death metal.  Clocking in at just five minutes, it is the very definition of all killer, no filler.

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Sons of Famine – Alcohol and Razor Blades (self-released, 2013)

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Just as I’ve started to settle into life on the West Coast, along comes a band from the Midwest to remind me that my home region can kick serious ass when it wants to.  That band is Chicago’s Sons of Famine, who’s stock-in-trade is pummeling oldschool death metal with a blackened edge.  Their debut demo, Alcohol and Razor Blades, is a musical battering ram of ungodly filth and fury that beats and bludgeons the living hell out of just about every other demo I’ve heard of late.

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Street Sects – Broken Windows, Sunken Ceilings (self-released, 2014)

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2014 will be remembered as the year that actually got me excited about extreme music again.  I haven’t exactly been bored, but it seems like this year I’m finding so many exciting young bands that are doing something truly interesting within the genre paradigm.  One such band is Austin’s Street Sects, who are releasing the second part of their “serial album” in the form of Broken Windows, Sunken Ceilings.  The duo creates what can best be described as electronic hardcore; violent, jarring and noisy as hell, like a factory full of automated machinery going haywire and collapsing on itself, the machines still trying desperately to function however imperfectly amidst the burning wreckage.

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