“Album Of The Day” is a Last Rites Facebook feature we started whose purpose is quite straight-forward: highlight one album per day and say a few words about it. Understanding that not everyone chooses to participate in the booking of faces, we thought it might be nice to toss in a feature that gathers the albums in a single piece on a weekly basis.
Here are the seven albums we picked for the week of March 24th — March 30th.
Sunday, March 24th
Godflesh – Post Self (2017)
The absurd heaviness was obviously a huge part of the band’s early metal allure, but equally spellbinding was the way the duo managed to explore uncharted atmosphere that was ludicrously dark, crumbling, withdrawn and mechanized. The coldest black metal bands in the wintriest of winter forests still got nothin’ on the Siberian touch of a track like “Streetcleaner,” and the sense of hopelessness and isolation leveled by “Godhead” still crushes most of what gets produced by funereal acts today. To the point, atmosphere was something Godflesh mastered early on, and it’s something they’ve apparently decided to reconnect with in 2017 with the release of full-length number eight, Post Self.
Not to diminish the boldness of what the band produced from the mid-90s up to now, but missing from a sizable portion of it, particularly with regard to the last two records, is the band’s unique connection to that decaying mood and overpowering darkness. Post Self reasserts that face of the band, and even though it marks a point where Broadrick and Green emphasize the whole of the record’s un-metalness in favor of roots embedded in post-rock, it ends up feeling exceptionally metal because of its cathartic reconnection with grim atmosphere. You might not guess that based on the way the record starts, though. Alongside the opening title track, “Parasite” and “No Body” launch the record with three patent bruisers that strike with the sort of potent beats and pulverizing bass runs that could lead one to believe they’re about to experience a revitalized Songs of Love and Hate, but that extra bit of atmosphere already pokes through in Broadrick’s fretwork, and his vocals are more harsh than they’ve been in years. [Captain]
Monday, March 25th
Mare Cognitum – Phobos Monolith (2014)
Mare Cognitum is the sole project of Santa Ana’s Jacob Buczarski, and while one-man bands are not exactly an oddity within the blackened realms, rarely are things so meticulously composed, arranged, and performed as on Phobos Monolith, the project’s third full length. Buczarski offers a brand of progressive black metal that is as atmospheric and emotionally soaring as it is clinically precise and even brutal (and not entirely out of place on I, Voidhanger Records). There is an staggering level of detail on display here, from the razor-sharp tremolo leads (they are many and they are spectacular) and intricate drum ideas (a syncopated hi-hat serves as the constant in opener “Weaving The Thread Of Transcendence”) to the busy bass work and varied, often scorching vocal delivery.
But it isn’t necessarily the instrumental prowess on hand that makes Phobos Monolith so impressive, nor the vision it took to put this all together, but rather the visions that it can and should induce through its moving compositions. Initially, much of the album feels like an incredibly good, yet familiar version of technical-but-atmospheric black metal, but bit by bit, the album’s big moments and emotional arc give the music a highly dramatic, even cinematic quality. [Zach Duvall]
Tuesday, March 26th
Beaten to Death – Xes and Strokes (2012)
Xes and Strokes is a weird and infectiously melodic grindcore album. But, probably not in the way that you’re used to thinking of weird and infectiously melodic grindcore albums. These guys aren’t Birdflesh. Beaten to Death doesn’t introduce unconventional instrumentation or melodic vocals to the mix, either. The songs mostly run in the 1:30 to 2:30 range, and the tempos swing between marches and blasts. The weirdest thing about Xes and Strokes, then, is that Beaten to Death seems to believe that this is how grindcore ought to sound.
What does it sound like? Think Lykaethea Aflame interpreting “Where the Slime Live” on Les Paul guitars, with the stipulation that there needs to be at least 20 seconds in every track where Dan Hoerner (Sunny Day Real Estate) could make a guest spot on vocals if he wanted to. And, again, the weirdest thing about Beaten to Death’s take on that eye-rollingly convoluted brew of styles is that they execute it with a conviction which suggests that these sounds do belong together. [Ramar Pittance]
Wednesday, March 27th
Pestilence – Obsideo
21st-century Pestilence is less about speed outright and more about overall tonality, with only smatterings of jazz interspersed between brutal breakneck thrash and sickening serpentine grooves. It’s difficult to guess if Choy and Thesseling distinguished amidst the din because of their experience working with Pestilence in the past, or if their skills simply resulted in greater presence on the final mix, but one of the most surprising things of Obsideo is how much the new dude is buried. On the previous two albums, the aforementioned gentlemen certainly make their presence known — although you probably hear more JPT in just “Sinister”, “Divinity”, and “Deception” than you notice Tony Choy across all of Resurrection Macabre. Maier’s fingers are likewise adept and adaptive, whether strongly punctuating tracks like “Transition” and “Superconscious” or directly accompanying the riff as on “Soulrot”; he may be the reboot in the bass seat they’ve been looking for. It’s unclear how Dave Haley will factor in the future, being a couple of continents away and still in Psycroptic, but on Obsideo he lays a solid foundation for these daunting constructs. Check out the dozen or so paths crafted on “Aura Negative”… [Matt Longo]
Thursday, March 28th
Exodus – Blood In Blood Out (2014)
Fear not, Exodus faithful, because the stars have aligned again, and Zetro’s back. And as you’d expect, the result is by far Exodus’ best record in a decade.
After a surprisingly effective electronica intro (contributed by Dan the Automator), “Black 13” wastes no time in establishing the game plan. Exodus c. 2014 is playing like a band with something to prove, and the whole of Blood In, Blood Out benefits from a blistering energy. Mainstay guitarist Gary Holt can write some ripping riffs—he’s proved that over the past three decades—and herein, he and relative newcomer Lee Altus (also of the underrated Heathen) churn through some killer thrashing, all propelled by Tom Hunting’s absolutely stellar drum performance. Thrash is all about the driving force, and the team of Hunting / Holt / Altus brings it in spades.
As a whole, they’re the best songs Exodus has composed since Tempo Of The Damned, the product of their parts, of a band seemingly with something to prove. The first four tunes—“Black 13,” the title track, “Collateral Damage,” and “Salt The Wound”—are as solid an introductory pummeling as any thrash album has had this year. From those four, Blood In doesn’t let up, but it does settle in. “Body Harvest” is a respectable thrasher, but “BTK” gets a bit silly (and oddly outdated, since Dennis Rader was convicted not long after Tempo Of The Damned was released). The groovy “My Last Nerve” is a later standout, but most of Blood In’s second half blends into a blur, dragged down somewhat by more forgettable fare like “Wrapped In The Arms Of Rage” and “Honor Killings.” Whereas the Atrocity Exhibitions felt bloated and overlong, although not markedly shorter in actual time, the songs on Blood In feel more concise, which is really just them being better constructed and more passionately performed. [Andrew Edmunds]
Friday, March 29th
Lychgate – An Antidote For The Glass Pill (2015)
In many ways, Lychgate has fully realized the “musical Baphomet” status to which their debut album pointed. An Antidote for the Glass Pill is both god and the devil; melodious and deeply discordant; lacking in aggression but strangely brutal; dramatic and theatrical and yet deadly serious; occasionally rockin’ but completely in opposition to such a mindset. Throughout all 50 minutes, these various dualities are at work, with each spin peeling away more of the countless layers.
“I Am Contempt” expands and contracts through both tonal techniques and masterful drumming (T. J. F. Vallely is a beast throughout), while moments of “still dissonance” are among the album’s most unsettling. “Letter XIX” is downright demented, becoming more so throughout before bludgeoning the listener with a unified hammering from all instruments, even after the jazzy, light-touch blasting eases you into a false sense of security. “Davamesque B2” re-emphasizes the band’s oft-doomy approach; “An Acousmatic Guardian” ups the bombast; “The Pinnacle Known to Sisyphus” ends the album in majestic splendor, echoing chants introduced in earlier tracks while offering touches of neoclassicism. This is a band that understands how to be outlandish by their very nature, and how to wield self-indulgence as a musical instrument. [Zach Duvall]
Saturday, March 30th
Jesu – Conqueror (2007)
If last year’s sublime Silver was indeed considered an experiment, it would appear that Justin Broadrick has not yet left the laboratory. Conqueror picks up much where its EP predecessor left off, and finds our protagonist continuing to meditate on the lush pop structures that left so many fans and critics fawning last year. There’s nothing on Conqueror as irrepressibly poppy as the deliciously sugary “Star,” but the lion’s share of this album leans on these new tendencies harder than the despondent, droning dirges of the self titled record. Not that those have vanished by any means, as tracks like “Weightless & Horizontal” prove, but the two aspects are more intertwined than on past Jesu efforts. At the very least you’ll be tapping your foot while getting your mope on.
Of course, the common element that ties both of these elements together is Broadrick’s tremendous penchant for meticulously sculpted soundscapes. An avalanche of shimmering layers of heavily effected instrumentation and vocals create the billowy, ethereal, yet downright weighty atmosphere at the core of the band’s sound. Although much will be said about Broadrick’s melodic proclivities, Jesu’s power continues to stem from the hypnotic dreamy waves that carry the listener along like a raft. Without the use of traditional heavy-handed industrial/electronic percussion (the drums this time around are natural and quite understated) or epic arrangements, these relatively simple but effectively constructed and immaculately recorded songs are able to engage the listener well enough to create illusions that these songs cover more ground than they actually do, and that they do so in less than their listed track times. [Clay Moore]
See you next week.