Deaf Forever III: March's Best Metal Reviewed

On March 30, 2016

by Andy O'Connor

Deaf Forever

What March lacked in quantity — this will probably be the shortest Deaf Forever yet — it made up for in sheer metal thrashing maaaaaaaadness. Of course, there was Cobalt’s Slow Forever, a monumental album that will likely be the best shit I — and you — will listen to all year. These are not Slow Forever — I reviewed that elsewhere. But, these are all still worth your time. And fret not, April will be stacked like the corpses of posers you’ll annihilate while jamming these releases.


Soon: Vol. 1 (Temple of Tortuous)

Oh brother, a band of indie dudes trying to make a go at metal? Didn’t we get over this in the mid-2000s, when Dead Child thought it’d be fun to play the Sword for a while? I totally understand why you’d get bored playing indie rock, but don’t bring your lack of heart into our metal. Chapel Hill’s Soon is the new metal project of The Love Language’s Stuart McLamb, but they actually bang, trust. They take a lot of what was once trendy in metal (and still kind of is, somewhat) — Witchcraft’s occult boogie, Earth’s warm drone, Kyuss’ desert rock — but add a crucial ingredient: a key for hooks! Not that any of their references didn’t have pop smarts — it’s just that few of their followers did. “We Are on Your Side” should be blowing up on radio, drifting between huge Sabbath riff walls and tender psych-folk. They can also do psych-Detroit, as evidenced with “Glass Hours” and “Burning Wood,” and “Mauveine” is an unexpectedly lovely acoustic refrain. Nighttime listening for lovers, loners, and everyone in between. Vol. 1 is what Ghost would sound like if they abandoned their campy Kiss Oyster Cult hybrid and put all of their black magic towards writing solid bangers.


Wormed:  Krighsu (Season of Mist)

Technical death metal is often at is most engaging when it throws rigid cleanness and hitting as many as the “right notes” as possible out the window in favor of bold experimentation and all-out weirdness. Most of the time, that’s the only way it’s listenable at all. Madrid’s Wormed are exemplars of this philosophy, playing hyperspeed tech-death that sounds like if Suffocation wrestled control of the spaceship from the album art of Nocturnus’ Thresholds. There are guttural slams and instrumental flights of fancy, yes, but they’re ruled by a cosmic fuckery. Krighsu, only their third full-length, is even more relentless and wacked-out than their 2003 debut Planisphærium, a record still ahead of its time when most of their peers were — and still are — engaging in schlocky and/or misogynistic gore slams. There’s dark ambient woven in too, much like their Swiss black metal brothers (and sister) in arms Darkspace — “Eukaryotic Hex Swarm” is one great example, using the underlying synth as a launching pad for warped guitar work. “Zeroth-Energy Graviton” mutates Ministry’s jackhammer syncopation into Wormed’s alien death metal, familiar and unrecognizable all the same. Even an interlude like “578893308161” is filled with interesting guitar work, like if a free-jazz guitarist was given a full Mesa stack.


Castle Freak: Human Hive (Self-released)

On the more savage end of death metal, we have Philadelphia’s Castle Freak. They’ve been around since 2012, but last year, Noisem guitarist Sebastian Phillips joined them on drums, and their latest EP Human Hive draws upon the primordial grindcore of Repulsion and the crypt-aged sweat of Autopsy. Guitars arrive at a neat intersection of Incantation’s murkiness and the punky rawness of death metal’s formative days. It’s subterranean, but also kind of fun? That seems like a dirty word, but Castle Freak sound like they were born for smelly house shows where everyone smell likes shitty beer and weed, even if you’re the most straight-edge dude out. As such, they’re an ideal band to cover Impetigo’s “Boneyard,” an artifact to when death metal had more swing. Death metal can’t often be considered dank — still, Castle Freak are dank as fuck.


Sorcier Des Glaces: North (Obscure Abhorrence)

Canada’s coldest black metal band — and that’s not bestowed lightly — Sorcier Des Glaces dropped their latest, North, at the end of last month, just before winter unleashed its grip and spring brought about hordes of plague wielders and beams of corrosive light. (I’m still recovering from SXSW, in case you can’t tell.) No matter where you are, this will plunge you straight into sub-zero. There’s frosty melodies for days, taken from the likes of Dissection and Vinterland. There’s even traces of Immortal at their most majestic — guitarist and vocalist Sébastien Robitaille knows how to spin a melody into a frenzied spiral without totally losing control. Luc Gaulin’s double bass becomes a lullaby when paired with Robitaille’s riffing, furthering the notion that some of the best black metal leans closer to “ambient with metal instrumentation” than metal itself. Icy synths are totally 1997, but they’re totally appropriate for the more winter than winter vibe here.

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