“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 April 21st — April 27th.
Sunday, April 21st
Children Of Technology – It’s Time To Face The Doomsday (2010)
Children of Technology obviously went down the essential crossover checklist when drawing up their plans. Riffs that switch between punk fury and heavy thrash? Check. Punk vocals barking about the apocalypse and war? Check. Constantly galloping drumming? Check. Acronym-ready moniker? Check check. From the speedster guitar soloing in “New Enemies to Hunt” to the infectious chorus in “No Man’s Land” straight through to how the occasionally broken English only adds to the fun, Doomsday is a constantly raucous retro romp. With the exception of a touch of clean guitar introducing album-closer “Screams From the Earth” (which sounds eerily like part of Testament’s “Return to Serenity”), the entirety of the album follows the above formula, completed by the occasional gang shout and even more quality soloing and memorable choruses. The band’s honesty and stylistic dedication are palpable: Children of Technology isn’t trying to sound as if they’re from the 80s, they just naturally do. That kind of effortless honesty is a major key to quality retro metal, and it’s a major key to this album’s success. [Zach Duvall]
Monday, April 22nd
Malignancy – Inhuman Grotesqueries (2007)
At its core is manic, technical brutal death metal sweating pinch harmonics profusely. Instability dominates as patterns are briefly established and evaporated. Songs constantly evolve forward and backward in what seems to be an effort to find a comfort zone, but never settle into it for more than five seconds. To some, this may present a challenge that is reluctantly accepted. It’s not easy listening to a Malignancy song; I imagine memorizing a deck of cards in order to be an easier task. But others may revel in the disorder. If you are breakdown focused, don’t bother. If you want melody, go away. If you want traditional structure and listenability, take a hike. If you want schizophrenic, chaotic, brain dissecting brutal death, then proceed.
How does Inhuman Grotesqueries compare to other Malignancy efforts? A super clean production that slightly tops Cross Species Transmutation is evident. A new percussionist brings a tighter drum sound with a slightly varying style and different tone. And there seems to be a few less 3.7 second chunk-downs (if you can actually keep track), but as far as the flying harmonics, they are integrated into every nook and cranny that is possible, which is typical Malignancy style, and the wacky assortment of death riffery remains. Something notably different however is the acoustic intro & outro, showing a more “sensitive” side to the bi-polar blasters. Basically, it’s Malignancy with a few minor touch ups and a new button pushed here and there. I guarantee that if you already find pleasure in listening to this band, that Inhuman Grotesqueries will do nothing but perpetuate that pleasure. Malignancy remains Malignancy, maintaining a style that has been staked and claimed as their own, which is a difficult task to accomplish in the realm of music known as brutal death metal. Their work is of high quality and I have no choice but to recommend it. [Dan Staige]
Tuesday, April 23rd
Sophicide – Perdition Of The Sublime (2012)
Perdition of the Sublime is the debut album from Germany’s Sophicide. Sophicide is a technical death metal band originally formed as a one-man project by Adam Laszlow (though now it’s a duo, after the addition of guitarist Sebastian Bracht). Fans of Necrophagist will find this story familiar. No doubt the two bands have similar origins and perform music that falls within the same arbitrary genre classification. In addition, both bands feature amazing feats of musicianship. However, where Necrophagist’s music is rigid and at least a little masturbatory, Sophicide’s music has a more organic flow, and while the playing is certainly stunning, it serves a greater musical purpose. There are a billion notes on Perdition of the Sublime, but Sophicide wastes not a one.
On Perdition of the Sublime melody is king, or perhaps more accurately, melody is God. The conventional components of death metal riffing are all present, but they exist primarily as a framework over, around and through which Bracht and Laszlow weave a tapestry of melodies. Some of these melodic threads weave small complex designs that draw attention, while others form larger, more subtly wrought patterns that tie a song together. In both capacities, melody serves to render each composition distinct from its fellows. [Jeremy Morse]
Wednesday, April 24th
Hellwell – Beyond The Boundaries Of Sin (2012)
The Hellwell project came on seemingly out of nowhere, but once details spread, it came as no surprise to fans of the band’s most noteworthy member. After all, Mark “The Shark” Shelton’s immortal Manilla Road has always had strong roots in 70s proto metal and hard rock, so adding the type of keyboards you might have heard in that era to his music seemed like a capital idea. (Manilla Road themselves have had the occasional keys included, just never in a featured capacity as they are here.)
Beyond the Boundaries of Sin is an immediately rewarding album, but it has a deceptive side. The first impression, which is understandable given the presence of Shelton’s immaculate lead guitar and unmistakable vocals, is that this is just Manilla Road with keyboard / organ, but that is far from the complete story. This album, particularly the early tracks, has a mildly haunting feel to it, undoubtedly provided by the silent horror movie vibe of the keys/organ, which adds just enough top end creepiness to allow the less rocking, more plodding tempos to take full effect. The keys, and this more open tempo, also allow the vocals more room to work within, and in that department Shelton truly excels, both in terms of delivery (more smoky than nasal) and of melodic choices. His work during the chorus of excellent opener “The Strange Case of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes” really adds to the slightly mysterious, ever-so-sinister vibe that the album holds, and gives way to the first of many instantly memorable moments within these 47 minutes. The utterly rad, almost medieval sounding bridge in “Eaters of the Dead” and the keyboard hooky chorus of “Deadly Nightshade” are two others, not to mention Shelton’s frequent guitar solos, which are as unique and freakishly stylin’ as ever. [Zach Duvall]
Thursday, April 25th
Sanhedrin – A Funeral for the World (2017)
The basic facts: A Funeral for the World delivers old-school heavy metal without sounding like a mindless, dusty rip from 1985. The modern production is clear, punchy and perfectly uniform, and the music itself balances heavy-footed face-peelers and dark ’n’ doomy strutters with equal consideration. Guitarist Jeremy Sosville (Black Anvil) loads every minute with enough infectious fretwork and fiery solos to pin the tunes on your brain for days, and Stoltz is an absolute hero behind the mic, flaunting a gritty, dynamic delivery that’s sure to recall trailblazers such as Leather Leone and Doro Pesch.
A Funeral for the World is a tremendous debut—one that’s deserving of 2017’s highest crown— and Sanhedrin deserves more attention, a solid record deal, and more people excited to hear where they might take us next. [Captain]
Friday, April 26th
Sarcofago – I.N.R.I. (1987)
Ignore the massively influential artwork of the band posing in a cemetery with full-on corpse paint and bullet-belts. Ignore the fact that Sarcofago’s first drummer D.D. Crazy was among the very first to pioneer the blast-beat. Hell, even ignore the undeniable chain of influence that Sarcofago’s crude, vicious early recordings has had on the ever-increasingly fertile ground of bestial black/death metal (or “war metal,” or whatever the shit you’d like to call it) from South America to Canada, and from the United States to Finland to Southeast Asia and beyond. Get past all that, and I.N.R.I. still holds up as a rippingly good time—lewd, sloppy, snarling, thrashing black metal from the time when black metal was hardly anything other than any other kind of metal played faster and nastier. Like tossing Slayer and Bathory in a glass jug and hurling it at brick wall at the speed of light. Gruesome fun. [Dan Obstkrieg]
Saturday, April 27th
Vio-Lence – Eternal Nightmare (1988)
There were lots of refugees in the 1980s Bay Area thrash scene. Because so many rode in with the tide, when the wave finally rolled back, there were few who charged forward, more that floundered on the shore, and dozens washed back into a sea of anonymity. Vio-Lence tend toward the middle category, with dot-connector types enjoying the guitarist cross-pollination with early Forbidden [Evil], and especially later Machine Head. But vocalist Sean Killian may be the band’s most distinguishing feature… though also its greatest detractor, depending on who you ask. His rapid punk sneer kept pace with the twisted Demmel–Flynn riffage, but Killian sounds like a flattened Bobby Blitz, which possibly kept Vio-Lence relegated squarely to the third-tier, its strengths notwithstanding. Eternal Nightmare is their first and best, relentless at nearly every turn, with a sense of vitriolic abandon that is usually either forced or lacking. Killian genuinely sounds crazier and angrier than a shithouse rat, plus you gotta commend both drummer Perry Strickland and bassist Dean Dell for laying a solid anchoring foundation in a relative sea of chaos; here, Vio-Lence helped lead the projected second wave of thrash. [Matt Longo]
See you next week.