Another in a long line of looks at standout metal releases that you should be putting into your ear holes.
All Pigs Must Die – Hostage Animal
The bio that came with this release starts with the line, “All Pigs Must Die are far more than the sum of their parts…” That’s not only a true statement but one that perfectly sums up this band’s sound. Few bands in the metal pantheon are able to deftly sew together such a long and vitriolic list of influences, and not have it sound like a garbled mess, the way All Pigs Must Die have done for years now, culminating in what may be their best release to date. By now we are all familiar with the various ‘other’ projects this band’s members have partaken or currently still partake in – Converge, The Hope Conspiracy, etc. While the band’s roots stem from the hardcore side of things, and the foundation of this act will forever lie in the bedrock of all things crusty and punk, Hostage Animal is a wild, lawless ride through a plethora of metallic landscapes. From the frosty, black metal-like blasts of the album’s opener to the more doom and gloom passages that dot various tracks, All Pigs Must Die are not afraid to open up the playbook, or even just set the whole thing on fire. Yet again, they are able to take the finest threads that tie together these extreme corners of the metal universe and create something wholly tangible. It’s an album that continues to surprise and entertain even after a dozen or so listens from start to finish in a very short period of time. Take it from someone who has done just that.
Friendship – Hatred
Let me join the long list of people who, prior to discovering this jewel of auditory disdain, knew nothing about this band. Frankly, I still know virtually nothing about this band. That’s fine by me. I actually like when bands decide to go the anonymous route. There’s something to be said about nameless, faceless beings producing music that, in this case, is so consumed by the pain and angst of it all. Japan’s Friendship have dropped their debut album (Southern Lord is handling the vinyl, while Sentient Ruin is on cassette duties) and the title of this beast couldn’t be a more fitting moniker. It is indeed twelve tracks of pure, sonic hatred. To say their brand of crust meets powerviolence meets grind is caustic would be the most massive understatement you could possibly muster. It’s a powerful and unrelenting album, chock full of crazy blasts undercut by the occasional headbanging grooves. It’s the type of ‘let’s-all-get-together-and-burn-this-mother-down’ type of album that gets the Molotov cocktails brewing and the corporate glass shattering. If someone had told you at the beginning of the year that some unknown band from Japan would obliterate everything in their wake and deliver one of the ten best metal releases of the year would you believe it? Believe it.
Amenra – Mass VI
Five years. Five cold, hard, long years have come and gone since the metal world was gifted a full-length album from Belgium’s Amenra. The first question that almost always gets asked anytime a band goes longer than say two or three years between releases is, ‘was it worth the wait?’ That can sometimes be a tricky question. Do I want to wait five years for a new album from a band I admire? Not necessarily. I’m as selfish as the next music nerd. But am I o.k. with a band taking their sweet time to deliver something as devastatingly good as this record? Yes. Yes I am. Before I heard note one of this album I had the privilege of seeing Amenra in the live setting for the first time as they opened an East Coast run of dates with Neurosis and Converge. It was, to say the very least, a powerful experience as they shrouded the entire venue in a veil of transcendence that gave great hope that whatever recorded material was set to emerge would be as epic as their live set. Whatever expectations were set that night have been shattered. Amenra has seemingly captured all the human misery floating around us like a dense fog and woven it into a tapestry of esoteric doom and post-metal. It’s an album that drifts between bombastic, bludgeoning metal and serene interludes that only serve to offer a respite before the thunderous rumblings of discontent begin anew. It’s a stunning and captivating release from start to finish, and one mass that offers little hope for humanity’s salvation.
DSKNT – PhSPHR Entropy
Another act that I knew virtually nothing about beforehand, and still have very little grasp on now, is the mysterious Swiss outfit, DSKNT. Here’s what I do know, come early December this act is ready to claim their place alongside some hefty contemporaries as one of black metal’s new darlings of the avantgarde. Their debut album is a swirling, churning, cacophonous array of second wave black metal stewed and boiled until virtually unrecognizable (in the best way possible). From note one, DSKNT set a tone of aural disarray and dysfunction. They are only concerned with exploring the darkest corners of our existence and with the overall annihilation of it all. This is one trip through a dark musical vortex you may very well never find your way home from, and if you do manage to make it back you certainly won’t be the same as before you left.
Desolate Shrine – Deliverance from the Godless Void
There’s been quite the run on atmospheric death metal lo these last five or so years, and that’s an excellent thing as the death metal genre continues to fester and reinvent. One of the bands at the forefront of the movement has been Finland’s Desolate Shrine. Few death metal bands have been as prolific as this act in recent years – this makes album number four in just a six year period – but that proliferation of releases certainly hasn’t taken the luster off their output as their newest quickly ranks as one of their best efforts to date. Desolate Shrine comfortably exist in a world where death metal continually mates with doom, sludge, and black metal to procreate an army of unholy offspring. Never a band that feared stretching and bending songs to their will (six of eight tracks clock in at 6+ minutes), Desolate Shrine continues to take their death metal influences on long, ethereal trips, returning home with a trunk full of blood-soaked diatribes. This is a band that continues to help push death metal to new and exciting boundaries, and this album is a stellar example of how to take a 30 year old genre and reinvent it yet again.