Heresiarch – Hammer of Intransigence

Look up the word intransigence and it comes up with a meaning of stubbornly refusing to compromise. Add the word hammer and you have all the clues and information needed going into the new EP from New Zealand death metalers Heresiarch. Consisting of six destructive and highly uncompromising slabs of aural muscle Hammer of Intransigence, released via Dark Descent is a merciless and oppressive onslaught on the senses, a bestial corruption upon the ear.

Heresiarch’s previous demo Obsecrating the Global Holocaust ruptured more than a few eager ears but with Hammer of Intransigence the quartet have pushed up the intensity and aural assault as they mercilessly thrust their venomous hatred filled sounds forcibly and deeply into all those willing or unknowingly standing in their way. Listening to the EP will be a certain challenge for many, casualties guaranteed but as equally as it is violent and painful to take even over the brief 22 minutes of noise, it is also hypnotic as riff upon threatening riff and rhythm upon punishing rhythm rampage upon the ear. Like a giant suction cup it draws one into the black bitter maelstrom of evil intent and unrelenting abuse.

As this is being written ears are ringing, blood virtually seeping and senses beating a hasty retreat into the safe arms of numbness. There is no respite within the walls of Hammer of Intransigence and no lessening of its spiteful colossal intensity and determination to fully consume its victims. The EP is about a bleak and destructive outcome for man, the portrayal of a forthcoming apocalypse and the music the soundtrack to this hellish cataclysm, as stark and black as the vision. There is no warmth or light, just cold threatening and unrelenting oppression in sound and theme; if you are looking for a melody or a slither of uplifting brightness than turn back before opening the EP’s dark depth.

Each song is a force of incapacitating sonic noise, a wall of sound that has the only intent of leaving one a shell shocked victim. Opening intro ‘Abomination’ is the warning, its siren sound over animalistic and predatory noises a forewarning though it does not really give a hint to the tsunami of aural pain to come with ‘Carnivore’ and beyond. Incessant drums and blast beats, machete like riffs, and an unrelenting flesh ripping velocity overwhelm with any thought of pacing themselves absent. The set up and determination is the same from track to track, from the release’s two most impressive tracks ‘Iconoclasm’ and ‘Thunorrad’ through to the closing atmospheric stalk of ‘Intransigent’ it is about nonstop consummation of the senses.

Whether Hammer of Intransigence will feature on many Album of the Year Lists is probably doubtful but it is certainly one more than decent album and for all into primal and all consuming sounds this is a must check out release. Heresiarch have made an album that despite its agonising effect at times does draw you back to it even if you run shy for safer climes more often than not.

RingMaster 19/11/2011

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Senser – Biting Rhymes

As a prequel to their forthcoming fifth album and a sure fire key to get the juices of anticipation going, metal hip hop crusaders Senser release their Biting Rhymes EP on Nov 27th via Imprint Music. The release is a five track compilation of unique covers of hip hop classics from artists that inspired and influenced them, the UK rap metalers giving their homage to the makers of the music that lined and filled their lives and journey into becoming Senser. The band themselves say in the press release for the EP, “This is really the music most of us grew up with, to us early Hip Hop represents a parallel with folk music, or the Jazz standards – a lexicon of classics” 

    Bringing three brand new covers, a remastered all time favourite of the band and a remastered live cut, Biting Rhymes shows affection and respect for the originals whilst being steeled with Senser’s distinct and powerful essences to result in a release that will satisfy rap and metal fans alike. There is a recent move from bands it seems to bring out releases with a spattering of covers of songs from their strong influences with recent offerings from As I Lay Dying and Whitechapel springing to mind, but there are not many that hit the mark as acutely and impressively as on Biting Rhymes. To be honest there was a little caution before going into the EP, a ‘more covers? Sigh!’ mentality, but as soon as the opening track states its purpose and unveils its quality the reticence is replaced as guilt for not trusting Senser and their hearts.  

The three new covers consist of ‘Don’t Believe The Hype’ (Public Enemy), ‘Follow The Leader’ (Erik B & Rakim), and ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ (LL Cool J). The first of the three opens up the EP with the band bringing a faithful and beefed up interpretation of the original through a stalking deep bassline which skirts around and through the track instilling the strong intent they bring to all their original sounds. Senser actually sound very much like 90’s UK band Honky on the song with the vocals of Heitham Al sayed and the songs eager groove. The third of the trio ripples with attitude and belligerence, the song standing sure footed in front of the ear, chest beating and throwing its weight around. Again the track is a more muscular version of the original, the band bringing their own distinct flavouring in equal measure to their respectful use of the original sounds.

Those two songs are split by the release’s best track ‘Follow The Leader’. With a darker intent and rippling menace the song is immense, and whereas elsewhere the songs offered are on a virtual even par with their sources here Senser outshine the original easily. Even watching the classic gangster video from Erik B & Rakim at the same time as playing Senser’s version of the song, it pales in comparison to the intensity the UK sextet infuse into the track.

The release is completed by firstly ‘Channel Zero’  (Public Enemy) a song the band has adored and brought to their live shows since the beginning, the samples from Slayer’s ‘Angel Of Death’ that vein the track an easy fit with Senser’s own metal strengths. The song is noted by the band as being one of the most important tracks in the band’s development into being and there is a sure extra energy from the band within it that backs that statement up. The track carries the trademark Senser heavy slashing guitar sound and aggressive rap vocals and instantly is a fit to the Stacked Up album era.

Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun’ (Beastie Boys) finishes the EP, a live track taken from way back in 1994 from a gig at Reading University. Despite its age the song still sounds fresh and is a pretty faithful version that raises the spirits even if matching The Beastie Boys is impossible, for anyone.

     Biting Rhymes is a great and extremely enjoyable collection of sounds and insight into Senser’s strong acknowledgement to their inspirations and loves. It is also a fine teaser and the trigger for the eager anticipation for their album to go into overdrive.

RingMaster 19/11/2011

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Dead – Hardnaked… but Dead

Though new to German deviants Dead, listening to their new album Hardnaked… but Dead one can tell they do not take themselves particularly seriously and nor should we. Musically the band are skilful, deliberate, and creative with their death/black metal  groove grinds, but lyrically and in theme there is one giant tongue in cheek, the band all mischief and dripping pervy intent.

The history of Dead comes in two parts, the first with their formation in 1990, their sound pure gore-grind inspired by the likes of Carcass, Pungent Stench, and Autopsy. A demo, EP’s, split EP’s and two full-length albums followed before disbanding when one of the members, Peter K left the band. It was with their second EP Slaves To Abysmal Perversity during this phase of the band that there was a shift with the content of their music, the gore soaked lyrics outgrown and replaced by black and nasty dirty humour of pornographic themes. This was named by many as Porngrind, with Dead its originators.

In 2001 the band started to rehearse together again for a one off gig under the pseudonym Les Stars Du Rock Porno. This first step saw Dead revived fully in 2004 and a mini tour of Japan organised. The following year Peter K. left again this time to be replaced by Ali A.

Another Japanese tour and festival appearances quickly followed and though2008 the departure of another founder member Uwe S. he was soon replaced by Volker E. Joining Ali and remaining founder Dany R. Since the return the band has released a live EP, a best of album, a split album and two full lengths in the 2006 Whorehouse Of The Freaks and In The Bondage Of Vice of 2009. Hardnaked… but Dead released via FDA Rekotz carries on their filthy sex soaked appetites with sounds as energetic, intense and as full on as one is likely to find anywhere. 

The opening two tracks of Hardnaked… but Dead tell you all you need to know about Dead, the first ‘Cock A Hoop‘ a brief funny intro skit and the second ‘The Fineribber‘ , a punk thrash lined slice of death metal with imposing riffs, direct simplistic rhythms, and the blackest guttural growls. As the following tracks lay their grubby fingers upon the ear initially there is a firm similarity across the album’s length, mostly from the vocal delivery and forceful directness, these over powering the actual diversity that is within the songs. Occasionally the neat touches peek out like the guitar grooves within ‘Liquor Store Goddess‘ but generally one has to go looking deeper for them, not a flaw but it does mean some will not have the patience or attention to get further involved.

Though the album has a strong start it does improve as it progresses especially with the early pairing of ‘Wall Of Flush‘ and ‘A Beer‘. The first is a death metal pummelling with incisive guitars slicing slithers off the senses with their sonic swings. An incessant grind works its way deeper and deeper as the song plays manipulating limbs to match its time and pace. The latter of the two to be honest is more a beverage loving skit than a song but in the same way that the folk metal Korpiklaani ditty of ‘Happy Little Boozer’ just lifts the place, so does ‘A Beer’, it is fun, simple as.

Other notable tracks include the black distorted sexual appetite of ‘Short But Slim‘ which comes over like the aural equivalent of the movie Bad Biology and southern grove tinged heart of ‘Possessed Soldiers Of Luv’.

      Hardnaked… but Dead is not going to be for everyone, even after listening numerous times and finding the positives within there is still an uncertainty as to how good the album is. At times it is an uneasy mix and in others a striking bundle of messed up joy. If you are looking for something different but heavy and with a definitely dark humour that will raise more chuckles than grimaces, then Dead and their album are a must investigate recommendation.

RingMaster 19/11/2011

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Neige et Noirceur – Hymnes de la Montagne Noire

Dark, intimidating and as formidable as the vast Québec Nordic landscapes that inspire the music of Neige et Noirceur, come the striking sounds of Hymnes de la Montagne Noire. The release consisting of five distinct disturbing and oppressive soundscapes brings together creative ambient beauty and harsh melodic shades in journeys through an aurally atmospheric black wilderness. The music as it consumes the ear brings the imagery and experience of being lost in emotive and at times disturbing lands through its threatening intrusions, suffocating shadows and aggressive intensity.

Hymnes de la Montagne Noire is Demo Nine from Neige et Noirceur which is actually the work of sole instrumentalist Spiritus, the ‘band’ a project he began in 2002 inspired in content by his deep interest in the occult and religious principles, cosmic signs and symbols, wars and folklore, and as mentioned the surroundings and natural tradition, spirit and essences of Québec. He instils a visual ambient quality to his music though with this new release there is a move towards a striking guitar driven attack. Spiritus does not leave those emotive dark ambient sounds alone though instead fusing the two to bring force a creation that is aggressive and as powerful as his previous releases.

‘Hymne I – La grande faucheuse ouvre la marche’ opens Hymnes de la Montagne Noire. It is a track that is openly stark with its black metal tones alongside a flowing melodic atmospheric emotion and wintery cold ambience. It gives the base of what to expect ahead though the release is often varied and a strong mix of sounds well written and realised to make each adventure smooth if cold. The song is layered with mesmeric melodic waves and steely primal aggressive insurgency brought together in a seamless combination; moments when the bare melodic touches and strong emotions taking precedent are replaced by an aggressive caustic intent, easy and natural.

Vocally Spiritus has a sand paper rasp that suits the harsh soundscape he conjures up as does the natural sounds of winter that wrap some pieces. Together these elements intensify with the music the feel of the black aural beauty and the raging atmosphere of the cold wastelands his tracks unveil. It is fair to say each track does have a similar set up which instils a similarity across the release overall and though as said previously the songs are varied it is not distinctly enough to avoid this effect. The pieces are satisfying all the same , tracks like ‘Hymne II – Neige Noire’ a vibrant cold drone with striking melodic glimpses and ‘Hymne IV – L’aube des magiciens’  a stark desolation  revealed with its quiet start building into a slowly expanding manifestation of enticing evil and malevolence, very pleasing and agreeable as they move deep within the senses.

At times Hymnes de la Montagne Noire is not the easiest of music to listen to, the power and intensity within numbing without any engaging glimpses to give respite but at the same time every track is never less than intriguing and carry more than enough inspiration in songwriting and its emotion to make a return to its cold charms a willing decision. With sounds that attack and sooth in equal measure and an at times sublime blend of intensity and melodies, Neige et Noirceur has produced a release that is impressively creative and willingly intrusive.

RingMaster 19/11/2011

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