COREY MITCHELL’S FEBRUARY ’12 BLEEDERS’ DIGEST (THE “IT’S ABOUT F*CKING TIME” EDITION)
Sorry for the delay. SXSW. Does it every year. A week-and-a-half of horror films, parties, BBQ, interviews, and heavy metal concerts kicks my ass every time. I need another week just to get my bearings straight afterwards. Hell, I even moderated a panel with Clown from Slipknot and Mike IX from Eyehategod where we showed pictures of decapitated naked men and dead deer. And we went on AFTER Bruce Springsteen!
As a result, I have just now caught up on my February metal listening and, man, all I can say is what a perfectly shitty month. Don’t get me wrong, the Bleeders I’ve chosen are all solid efforts. It’s just the rest of them, and there were a fuck-ton of ’em (maybe 160 releases???), were astoundingly crappy. More Blowers than ever.
As usual, there will be bands on my Meh’ers and Blowers lists that you guys may like. I could care less if you think I’m an idiot for not liking them. I’d rather hear why you think those bands deserved to be ranked higher. Be an advocate, not an asshole.
I’m grateful that March is already looking way better with excellent releases from Meshuggah, Primitive Weapons, Every Time I Die, Ministry, Black Sheep Wall, and more.
Here are the February 2012 releases that got under my skin, burrowed their way into my brain, made my ears bleed, or simply tickled my unmentionables:
FEBRUARY ’12 BLEEDERS
These are the keepers. I expect to spin these throughout the year and longer.
The 11th Hour – Lacrima Mortis (Napalm Records)
One of the worst things about extreme metal is that so much of what is going on gets lost in either shitty mixes or the maniacal maelstrom created by the musicians themselves. Being able to discern lyrics or to pick out an intricate guitar melody or a simple drum pattern can get subsumed in the quest to be the heaviest, the fastest, the most br00tal. Dutch doomsters The 11th Hour, however, understand that it is not necessary to flail away at their instruments for an hour or to scream incoherently to prove your worth on the scale of heavy. Instead, they focus on mega-ton guitars, measured and methodical drumming, and clean, higher-pitched vocals by guitarist/lead vocalist Ed Warby to convey their ultimate take on doom and despair. As a result, each instrument is heard clearly, each vocal line takes on a greater impact, and when harsh vocalist Pim Blankenstein (Officium Triste) barrels his way in, it adds even more tension to the overall soundscape. I can easily imagine a Gothic burlesque girl performing a seductive strip-tease in front of a room of drooling freaks desperate for an explosive payoff while listening to this record. Doomonic!
YouTube It! –> “We All Die Alone”
4ARM – Submission For Liberty (Rising Records)
I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again — thrash ain’t dead! As long as groups like Australia’s 4ARM keep releasing killer material like this, thrash, not neo-thrash or nü-thrash or whatever other bullshit label is ascribed to this type of music, will remain a viable musical entity. All the old-school tenets are on display from beefy riffs to propulsive snare-driven drumming to heavy, yet audible (and good) vocals. Led by vocalist/rhythm guitarist Danny Tomb, 4ARM harkens back to the classic thrash of early Metallica by way of modern day Machine Head. Brilliant drumming from Andy Hinterreiter and solid, fairly inventive lead guitar from Johnny Glovasa. There are dozens of riffs on display here, with just as many hooks, that I’m sure will have hundreds of goats thrown each night they hit the stage.
Asphyx – Deathhammer (Century Media Records)
I’d certainly cough up my hard-earned money to hear Possessed vocalist and thrash legend Jeff Becerra front a blackened doom thrash band, wouldn’t you? Of course, this is actually a different vocal legend, Martin Van Drunen (Pestilence, Hail of Bullets), at the helm, and when he barks out “This is true death metal, you bastards!” you know you are in for a glorious Cenobitic ride of pain and pleasure. Strong guitar work loaded with memorable riffs, with hints of Tom G. Warrior on display, coupled with a clean production that never strips away the grit or the intensity of the playing. The division of speed and doom may throw off some listeners unfamiliar with Asphyx’s raison d’etre, but they should instead revel in the diversity of evil sounds and varying speeds on offer.
Goatwhore – Blood For The Master (Metal Blade Records)
What would be the Cajun equivalent to meat ‘n taters metal? Sausage & red beans metal? Crawfish and boudin metal? Hell, I’m not sure, but whatever it is, that’s what Goatwhore is to these ears. A tasty, reliable dish with some serious kick to it that you know will always leave you satisfied. Those familiar with the New Orleans band know the recipe — black metal combined with Bay Area thrash spiced with some bluesy motorcycle rock. It may not redefine metal in any way, shape, or form, but it’s not trying to either. Drop the needle, feel the instantaneous blast of your epidermis being removed, and bang your skinless face until the whole place is a mess. Metal’s version of “sucking the head.”
Inspirative – Memories Come Rushing Up To Meet Me Now (Finalkid/Realising Media)
Instru-metal taken from the same shelves that Explosions In The Sky used to shop from before they met Peter Berg. Airy, jangly bumblebee guitars, followed by seemingly interminable build-ups that eventually unleash full-blown catharsis that make you want to pump a fist to the sky while simultaneously shedding a lone tear, all the while stroking a stray kitten you found in a dank sewer. I kid, sort of. This is heady heavy. Dim the lights, select your mood enhancer of choice, and let the waves crash gently over you until realize you need to get your ass up out of the water before you drown like Whitney Houston after a weekend bender. Tacky, but so goddamned on point it hurts.
Knives Out! – Black Mass Hysteria (Razor To Wrist)
And you thought nü-metal was dead. HA! This is a great fucking hard rockin’ metal album that I had no idea was performed by dudes from such bands as Dog Fashion Disco, Nothingface, HELLYEAH!, and Polkadot Cadaver. Not familiar with the first two bands, though I know who they are, professional courtesy prevents me from expressing my opinion on the third band, and I was a fan of Polkadot Cadaver’s last album, Sex Offender. I could care less what bands these guys are/were in, I just know this record gets the old ’90s metal sound down and right. Think Tool with a more aggressive singer in parts. Think “Bodies”-era Drowning Pool as influenced by Clutch as opposed to whatever the fuck that shit is they’ve been emulating for the last decade. I know it may sound horrid to some of you, but this is a solid rock/metal record that deserves attention. Plus, how bad can album be that has a song called “Swollen Mistress” that’s about fucking a dead hooker?
Napalm Death – Utilitarian (Century Media Records)
I have no idea how these guys still do it. Okay, so they’re no longer a true grindcore band. Thank, Satan. This is, however, HAF industrial death metal tinged with just enough musical fuckedupness to keep things moving along in a fascinating way. I’m feeling their Swans love now more than ever and wholeheartedly support this expansion of the ND sound. You already know what stellar musicians these guys are and, if you don’t, please go ahead and kill yourself with a Taylor Swiftness. Twenty-first century Napalm Death is a completely different beast from the S.C.U.M.-era band that I first spun on college radio way back in the late ’80s. The modern-day ND still pummels, pulverizes, and grinds down its listeners, they just do it now with an actual sense of melody (okay, rarely), an assured punk rock swagger, and even the occasional Burton C. Bell clean vocal nod to keep shit bouncing. Oh, and there’s that crazy ass sax solo by the legendary John Zorn on “Everyday Pox.”
Ribozyme – Presenting The Problem (Indie Recordings)
Nine Inch Tools in Chains — that’s the best way to describe these Norwegian rockers. Take the best of ’90s alt-rock, mesh it with some tasteful industrial embellishments, and top it off with some excellent clean vocals and you get probably the least “metal” album I’ll declare a Bleeder all year, but it is absolutely deserving of such high praise. It grooves the fuck out without trying to be hipster cool. It gets you hummin’ and your head a-bobbin’. Hell, it even sounds like they stole John Zorn from Napalm Death for another insane sax interlude. Gasp, there’s even a dubsteppy moment that actually works and doesn’t sound like a teenager’s idiotic bastardization of metal and electronica. These guys have been around for more than a decade. Hopefully, this record will get them the widespread acclaim they deserve.
Sunpocrisy – Samaroid Dioramas (self-released)
With the death of Isis, the where-the-hell-did-they-disappear-to status of Neurosis, and the unexplained silence of Cult of Luna, the New Favorite Post-Metal Band title is still up for grabs. Last year it was unsigned band Signo Rojo that caught my ear and seemed posed to snatch the moniker. This year, it seems as if another unsigned band may grab that ever elusive banner. I know little to nothing about this Italian six-piece other than they like pyramids, oceans, and bad Photoshopped album covers. The music inside, however, is stellar post-metal reminiscent of the aforementioned pioneers of the movement, but with solid clean vocals to go along with the usual harsh roars. Throw in a few acoustic atmospheric interludes and you have enough to differentiate Sunpocrisy from the pack and, hopefully, allow them to shine on their own.
Witchaven – Terrorstorm (Metalhit.com)
Alright, I’m cheating here. This is actually a re-issue of the 2010 self-released blackened thrash crustfuck by L.A.’s evil purveyors of hate, Witchaven. Raspy vocals placed high in the mix (like I prefer), killer black metal riffs with thrashy overtones, and powerful speed metal drumming are featured here. Although better drum production would have helped and somebody please turn the volume up on the bassist! Otherwise, this is a fun, evil, wicked little slab that will please black metal fans and thrashers alike. Check out “Black Thrash Assault” for the band’s definitive sound.
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Sadly, the Asphyx (Century Media), Napalm Death (Century Media), Goatwhore (Metal Blade), and most of the The 11th Hour albums (Napalm) are not available on Spotify.
I’m keeping a label tally throughout the year for Bleeders that don’t appear on the #1 streaming service:
BLEEDERS, BY LABEL, NOT ON SPOTIFY
Century Media – 3
Metal Blade – 1
NoiseArt Records – 1
Napalm Records – 1
Good points throughout the record, but not enough to make we want to revisit it.
Abominable Putridity – The Anomalies Of Artifical Origin; Aggression – Viocracy; Allerjen – Equilibrium; Amoral – Beneath; Appollonia – Crimson Shades; Autolatry – Of The Land EP; Autopsy – All Tomorrow’s Funerals; Avatar – The Black Waltz; Blues – Death And Taxes; Blutsbrüder – Höllenfeuerclub; Broken Mirrors – The Universal Disease; Chasing The Coroner – Sleep When You’re Dead; Chimp Spanner – All Roads Lead Here; Christian Mistress – Possession; Coprolith – Hate Infected EP; Corrosion Of Conformity – s/t; Crimson Death – Fleshdance; Crimson Shadows – Glory On The Battlefield; The Dead & Buried – No Forgiveness For Traitors; Demoncy – Enthroned Is The Night; Diabulus In Musica –The Wanderer; Djerv – s/t; Domination Black – Dimension: Death; Drudkh – Eternakl Turn Of The Wheel; Dyscarnate – And So It Came To Pass; Earth – Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light 2; Edge Of Sanity – KUR-NU-GI-A; Ektomorf – The Acoustic; Eluveitie – Helvetios; Engel – Songs For The Dead EP; Enochian Theory – Life…And All It Entails; Förgjord – Sielunvihollinen; Freedom Call – Land Of The Crimson Dawn; Genus – Origin EP; Grimind – Through The Eyes Of Janus; Hammer Horde – Vinlander; Human Carnage – Unleash The Carnage; Hypno5e – Acid Mist Tomorrow; I The Breather – Truth And Purpose; Immolith – StormDragon; Insense – Burn In Beautiful Fire; Irdorath – Dekonstrukteur des Fleisches; Iron Fire – Voyage Of The Damned; Labyrinthe – The Depths Of Hell; Lanfear – This Harmonic Consonance; Lay Down Rotten – Mask Of Malice; Les Discreets – Ariettes Oubliées…; Lis Er Stille – Nous; Lost World Order – Parasites; Lyriel – Leverage; Mace – Harp Strings EP; Maligno – The Funeral Domine; The Mariana Hollow – Velvet Black Sky; Masterpiece – Heirs Of Freedom; Moby Dick – Good Bye; Monarch! – Omens EP; Morbid Angel – Illud Divinum Insanus – The Remixes; Morbid Tales – Planet Death; Morning Ablaze – s/t; Necronomicon – Invictus; Nephelium – Coils Of Entropy; Ninth Circle – Judecca; Nitrogods – s/t; Oakenshield – Legacy; Oceanides – Metahuman; The Omega Experiment – s/t; Opera Diabolicus – 1614; Opera IX – Strix Maledicte In Aeternum; Orange Goblin – A Eulogy For The Damned; Orbeth – The Way; Outcast – Awaken The Reason; Pallbearer – Sorrow And Extinction; Powerdrive – Instinct; Project Viremia – The Viremic EP; Psycroptic – The Inherited Repression; Rage – 21; Ram Zet – Freaks In Wonderland; Re-Armed – Worldwide Hypnotize; The Ritual – The Devil’s Tongue EP; Ritualization/Temple Of Baal – The Vision Of Fading Mankind split; The Safety Fire – Grind The Ocean; Sektemtum – Aut Caesar Aut Nihil; The Seven Year Itch – Beyond This Life; Stam1na – Nocebo; Stephan Forté – The Shadows Compendium; Struck A Nerve – s/t; Summoner – Phoenix; Swallow The Sun – Emerald Forest And The Blackbird; Synapses – Expiation; Terrorizer – Hordes Of Zombies; Trapjaw – Tschandala – Best of 2004-2011; Tremors – Island Songs EP; UFO – Seven Deadly; Van Halen – A Different Kind Of Truth; Varhorn – Vookhoo The Raven; Voices Of Destiny – Power Dive; Winterburst – The Mind Cave; Witchhammer – The Lost Tapes; Wykked Wytch – The Ultimate Deception
FEBRUARY ’12 MISSES
Was not able to get my grubby little hands on these platters.
Anguish – Through The Archdemon’s Head; Breag Naofa – s/t; Carnalation – Deathmask; Dawn Of Ashes – Farewell To The Flesh; Desaster – The Arts Of Destruction; Dimesland – Creepmoon; Forgjord – Sielunvihollinen; Funeral Heaven/Plecto Aliquem Capite – Astral Mantras Of Dyslexia split; Funeral Whore – Step Into Damnation; The Kandidate – Facing The Imminent Prospect Of Death; Nattfog – Mustan Auringon Riitti; Nocturnal Torment – They Come At Night; Ominous Crucifix – The Spell Of Damnation; Pilgrim – Mystery Wizard
BEST FEBRUARY ’12 RECORD
The 11th Hour – Lacrima Mortis
“We all die alone.”
2012 TOP 15 EARLY INCLUSIONS
Let’s see if they make the final cut.
The 11th Hour – Lacrima Mortis (February ’12)
Ribozyme – Presenting The Problem (February ’12)
Acheode – Anxiety (January ’12)
Desecravity – Implicit Obedience (January ’12)
*Suicidal Angels – Bloodbath (January ’12)
Vita Imana – Uluh (January ’12)
*Bleeder of the Month
New Metal Releases Listened to this year – 261
Bleeders – 23
Meh’ers – 170
Blowers – 68
Top 15′ers – 6
**Some of these releases are possibly late 2011 sets, first-time U.S. releases, re-issues, or sneak peeks of upcoming albums.**
Corey Mitchell is a best-selling author of several true crime books and is currently helping Philip H. Anselmo write his autobiography.
Also, be sure to check out Philip Anselmo and Corey Mitchell’s Housecore Horror Film Festival coming to Austin, TX in October 2013.