Punk, hardcore, metal, noise: Music shouldn’t always be easy on the ears. Each month, Loud unearths some of the loudest, crudest, weirdest, and/or heaviest sounds writhing beneath the surface. The world’s not getting any quieter. Neither should we.
Song debut: Narrows, “Under The Guillotine”
Botch’s Dave Verellen, These Arms Are Snakes’ Ryan Frederiksen, Unbroken’s Rob Moran: It’s the recipe for a post-hardcore curb-stomp. But their new project, Narrows, goes one further on its new full-length, Painted. The album guts post-hardcore and leaves its carcass in the ditch, then animates its skeleton with delirious fantasies of violence and revenge. Joined by drummer Sam Stothers and guitarist Jodie Cox, this gang of vets finds a fresh wellspring of bile to tap into—and the result is a shit-sheeted nightmare of black riffs, white noise, and howls of hellish torment. Courtesy of Deathwish Inc., here’s an exclusive debut of Painted’s opening track, “Under The Guillotine.” Flinch if you need to.
I like In A Reverie. I even like Comalies. What can I say? I’ve always had a soft spot for melodic, melodramatic, female-fronted bands. But I was not expecting anything out of Lacuna Coil’s new album, Dark Adrenaline. After all, the band’s last album, Shallow Life, was slick, flimsy, and about as menacing as an empty Hefty bag. Surprisingly, Dark Adrenaline is better—a little. There’s a bit more meat on the bone this time around, and the anthemic atmospherics actually feel restrained (relatively speaking). And like I said, Cristina Scabbia’s sumptuous vocals go a long way. That is, except on the disc’s cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”: Unless you’ve ever wondered what it would sound like if Madonna sang a goth-metal version of it, steer clear (as if you weren’t going to avoid this anyway).
Switching gears entirely, behold Loud’s unofficial album of the month: Becoming, the latest and greatest from Abigail Williams. The band is pretty down to a duo now, with mastermind Ken Sorceron and guitarist Ian Jekelis leading the charge (with studio drummer Zach Gibson of Black Dahlia Murder bringing up the rear). Somehow, though, Sorceron has managed to shroud Becoming’s black-metal core with just as much symphonic vastness; the disc’s six sprawling songs are swallowed up in swaths of bleary malignance, haunted chamber orchestration, and dimension-straddling majesty.
Where Abigail Williams soars, Desecravity steamrolls. The Japanese outfit’s new full-length, Implicit Obedience, opens on an epic, churchlike note, but from there, it’s all power and speed; injecting death-metal mayhem with a jazzy, almost Meshuggah-esque technicality, the album squeals and sears as it skirts the precipice of implosion. The group’s dual, growl-screech vocals sound more like an afterthought than an integral part of the music, but this one’s all about the riff-worship anyway.
Imagining a Dario Argento/Goblin soundtrack sent to Satan for a merciless remix, The Devil’s Blood’s The Thousandfold Epicentre meanders through an infernal soundscape teeming with menace and magic. But it’s a methodical bloodbath; with eldritch female vocals and psychedelic oppressiveness reminiscent of Blood Ceremony or Black Widow, the album traffics in an almost theatrical convocation of eerie ritual, massive chords, stinging leads, and bacchanalian abandon. Granted, it’s a little campy—but it’s executed with enough craft and grandiosity to make it work.
A band that takes itself—and, one would assume, its Satanism—a little more seriously is Uzala. The group’s self-titled debut is murky, cryptic, and as ethereal as a fog-soaked forest at witching hour. Much of that spews forth from singer-guitarist Darcy Nutt, whose echo-smothered, psychotropic doom imagines a grainer, spacier Jex Thoth. There are a lot more pockets of shadow and weirdness to this disc than first meets the ear; at the same time, there’s just enough classic, crystalline songwriting to pierce the veil.
It’s probably not the coolest thing imaginable, but good, heavy, raunchy mudslides of Motörhead/High On Fire-style biker-sludge is something I’m always a sucker for. Black Pyramid has delivered exactly such a disc with its new Black Pyramid II. The album’s sound is just as no-frills and tradition-leaning as its title; thick, thunderous, and thoroughly uglified, II touches upon gloriously boneheaded valor and mythic, sub-Nordic nonsense with all the subtlety of a dropped anvil. Into glory ride, brothers. I’m right there with you.
Like Black Pyramid II, Better To Die On Your Feet Than Live On Your Knees—the debut full-length by Liberteer—isn’t the most original thing ever. Note the album title. Also, there’s a song named “Class War Never Meant More Than It Does Now,” and it’s serious. Then again, some of the greatest crust bands work squarely within the genre, despite the fact that so many of its founding outfits were radically innovative. Thankfully, Liberteer thoroughly understands that somewhat generic lyrics need to be paired with fresh sounds; blending traditional anarcho-punk with power-violence abrasion and elements of folk, Better To Die is a stunning, surprising, and blissfully belligerent piece of protest music that isn’t afraid of its roots or the future.
Blackened this, blackened that: St. Louis’ Everything Went Black cuts to the chase with its amazing debut, Cycles Of Light. Spacious yet agoraphobic, the disc mashes metal, hardcore, and Coliseum-scented discharge into a churning, guttural gunk. It’s grotesquely poetic. It’s pissed off at you, me, that guy over there, but most of all itself. It gobbles down buckets of bleak, dismal distortion, shits it out, and then eats that. Every time someone within earshot whines about hardcore being weak and watered down in this day and age, Cycles Of Light is the kind of album I want to gently beat them with.
Loma Prieta isn’t quite as impenetrable, but the Bay Area band’s screamy, treble-spiked post-hardcore has been a shining light over the past few years. The outfit’s latest album, I.V., doesn’t concede a single element to trends or sympathy. A bit more thoughtfully structured than the group’s previous output—there’s even a song trilogy parked in the middle—the disc lacerates itself with brittle high-end and the kind of go-for-throat savagery few bands can pull off with authority; ambitious, tooth-grinding, and feedback-fucking in a Dropdead-meets-Pg. 99 cyclone of bile, I.V. adds chaos to injury in the best possible way.
And then there was pop. Power-pop, to be exact: Television Youth, the latest from Montreal’s Sonic Avenues, is the group’s catchiest yet, a snotty, adrenalized shot of old-school punk that calls to mind The Boys and The Dickies. Captured in shambolic mid-fi, the disc still manages to throw in lots of tasty little touches, from snippets of barrelhouse piano to minor-key angst. Make no mistake, though: As bordering-on-sophisticated as the songwriting gets, Television Youth is crude, bruised, and punk to the nuts.
Retro Loud: Poison Idea, Darby Crash Rides Again: The Early Years
If you’ve ever worked at any indie record store, you know few albums resonate more (or rock harder) than Poison Idea’s 1984 scum-core masterpiece, Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes. The ultimate irony, of course, is that an original vinyl copy of that EP is now worth a fortune—as is most of the group’s early output. With sadistic generosity, Southern Lord just collected and reissued Poison Idea’s first rancid spurt of demos and singles under the title Darby Crash Rides Again: The Early Years. Making most of its hardcore contemporaries look like total weenies, Poison Idea—and its late, great guitarist, Pig Champion—were incalculably influential to scores of punk and metal bands that followed. But even in its most fetal stage, the outfit knew how to use those genres as things to piss on, kick down the street, and chew apart with its teeth.