Khemmis – Hunted

Denver’s Khemmis materialized as quickly and supernaturally as the panel van wizard-style illustrations that grace their album art. Absolution, their impressive debut album from the not-so-distant 2015, bubbled up as a critical favorite, garnering attention from publications large and small – no small feat for an upstart band in an already populated scene. Taking nods from old-school progenitors like Candlemass and Thin Lizzy, Khemmis carry diverse classic vibes into the modern era, zeroing in on a more alloyed kind of retro revival than peers like Pallbearer or The Sword. Somehow, in wizard-like fashion, they’ve quickly conjured their follow-up, Hunted, a record that polishes the ideas presented on Absolution, but ultimately feels like an all-too-familiar sequel.

Atsuko Chiba – The Memory Empire

Earlier this year, Montréal’s Atsuko Chiba released three-track EP Figure & Ground, a perfectly enchanting follow-up to their 2013 endeavor in Jinn, which we sang the praises for when we discovered them a little over a year ago. To say we were anything but delighted with Figure & Ground as…

Satanic Panic: America’s War On Heavy Metal in the 1980’s

In 1966, the advent of the Church of Satan would mark a shift in societal attitudes. Upon its creation, founder Anton LaVey declared “Annos Satanas,’’ – the first year in the “Age of Satan.’’ All of a sudden, a once feared, taboo belief system had ingrained itself in the public consensus, and its appeal extended to rock stars and celebrities whose participation in the movement would make it mainstream. However, the popularity of the Church of Satan was just one of a few countercultures shifting away from traditional, religious and wholly conservative attitudes. It is also worth noting that the Civil Rights Movement was ongoing, rock n’ roll music was massively popular and the hippies were spawning all over the world; particularly in America. The Church of Satan was merely a reflection of a society rejecting traditional values – well, a portion of society anyway.

With the rise of these movements came the response of the traditionalists who weren’t too pleased with the proposed change in norms. But the notion of Satanism was an especially terrifying one for them, to say the least. On top of the Church of Satan, the atrocities committed by Charles Manson and the Family helped instill a widespread fear of emerging countercultures across America. Throughout the 1970’s, Satanic panic was already being churned out by evangelists, but it wasn’t until the following decade where it would be given its label and become a catastrophic phenomenon.

Hey! Listen to Convulsing!

Side projects are either an iteration on the main project’s sound or a complete departure thereof, aiming at identity and self-definition. It takes a special breed of musician to walk that thin line and somehow meet the main project while still maintaining uniqueness. It has to be a subtle and a thematic welding point; too obvious, and the styles just stick together, too obscure and there’s no real ground for comparison. Let me introduce you to Convulsing, a steaming, abrasive trainwreck of corrosive blackened death metal from the mind of one Brendan Sloan, also a premier part of a band called Dumbsaint. Yeah, those guys; the guys with the movies and the post metal. So how in the hell does one find common ground between the monolithic hatred of Convulsing and the cold misanthropy of Dumbsaint? Simple; it’s all in the tone.