Rotten to the Core // May 2024

Plenty of grinding, screaming, and noise on the docket this month. The return of Full of Hell in a non-collaborative setting, Glassing just keep getting better, Eidola showing why they

8 days ago

Plenty of grinding, screaming, and noise on the docket this month. The return of Full of Hell in a non-collaborative setting, Glassing just keep getting better, Eidola showing why they were the main tour support for Periphery, and some names you might not have heard of. Lets get to it.

-Trent Bos

The Wall of Death

Full of Hell - Coagulated Bliss (grindcore)

Any time a new Full of Hell album drops, it’s an event. Contemporary grindcore’s crown princes are on their sixth solo full-length record (I think we’re on something like 13 overall what with all the collab albums) and they’re as ferocious as ever, bearing down into their often sludgy take on deathgrind with a broad scope of influences that churn and cascade through the record’s nearly 25-minute runtime.

Opening track “Half Life of Changelings” and the later title track are off-kilter and invigorating tracks, with an almost melodic grind element that fans of Wormrot, Beaten to Death, and the late Nasum peddled. We’ve got the hardcore beatdowns of “Doors to Mental Agony” and a grooving crossover riff on “Transmuting Chemical Burns” delivered in a Pig Destroyer kind of way that is sure to please your everyday Full of Hell fan, with twists and turns like Godflesh style industrial turns on “Fractured Bonds to Mecca,” and of course, no Full of Hell LP would be complete without meditations in noise and drone, as heard on “Bleeding Horizon.” The most inspired of the bunch is the grand finale “Malformed Ligature,” a rager oscillating between blistering mathgrind and doom dirges while sharing the microphone with Converge’s Jacob Bannon. The band perhaps shine brightest while building atop the foundations of others (see their records with Merzbow and The Body, among others), but it’s good to be reminded why Full of Hell are on top.

While Coagulated Bliss is not exactly the irreverent and spontaneous wild ride you might hope and expect from the band at this point, but it isn’t quite a focused affair, either. What it is though is a wall-to-wall exploration of death grind within a kaleidoscopic array of contexts that Full of Hell have well mastered by now. 

-Jimmy Rowe

Glassing - From the Other Side of the Mirror (blackened screamo, post-metal)

Despite still being a relatively underground band, Glassing have evolved into something of a well-polished machine over the last 7 years since their strong debut Light and Death. Over that time they’ve maintained the same general approach, a dynamic and visceral fusion of emotive post-hardcore and screamo with the sludgy textural song-writing of post-metal and shimmering blackgaze. Yet, with each release they just keep refining and mastering that sound, culminating last month with their fourth LP, From the Other Side of the Mirror. I don’t know what is in the air this year, but along with Infant Island and Frail Body, this is the third time now that I’ve raved on this column about a screamo by-way-of post-metal blend blowing my mind and competing for the top spot on my album of the year list. 

While Glassing certainly lean more into the post-metal and blackgaze influence compared to those contemporaries, they maintain that dynamic balance between a raw, feral energy brought foremost by the vocal delivery, and some of the most euphoric and triumphant guitar melodies you’ll hear this year as on "Nominal Will". There’s some Sunbather meets the slightly off-kilterness of Liturgy, and damn does it ever just hit on a profound emotional level. The instrumentation however is refreshingly varied, going from those cloud-floating highs to abrasive, grinding Full of Hell-like heaviness, and expansive walls of post-metal, cascading and building on itself. Even the vocals themselves, which are mostly powerful heart-wrenching screams akin to the screamo and blackgaze genres, shift to these dreamy and haunting, near-spoken delivery like some sort of ghostly spirit that quite literally sounds like it’s from the other side of the mirror. These compliment the melancholic atmosphere, letting the dripping with reverb tones and crunch of the low-end distortion shine in true post-metal fashion. The screams and occasional gutturals bring out effective contrast, in what is a very shifting and liminal-space occupying album. 

I’ll note, the artwork has had some criticism for it’s AI-like appearance, and artist Christopher Royal King (of This Will Destroy You), who also did all their previous artwork has been open about it’s incorporation into the final product, admitting the artwork involved a blend of methods, “such as painting techniques, xerography, 3D rendering, and training generative image models.” You can decide for yourself how you feel about the ethics of this, but to me it isn’t too unlike generative tools digital artists have been using for years in Photoshop as a part of a larger process. 

On From The Other Side of the Mirror, Glassing have pushed things to another level with their biggest and boldest effort to date. This is a turbulent and colossal force of an album that will challenge every step of your emotional spectrum, proving themselves to be one of the most forward-thinking acts in both the post-hardcore and post-metal world. 


METZ - Up on Gravity Hill (noise rock)

In a first for the long-running Toronto noise rock trio, Up on Gravity Hill finds METZ turning down the volume and turning up the hooks. In much of the band’s previous output, from their eponymous 2012 debut to the masterful 2020’s Atlas Vending, the band has sounded faithful to the noise rock tag by following many of the genre tropes. And, really, who can fault them? One of the main points of noise rock is to be abrasive, unsettling, and confrontational in sound, attitude, and presentation. And METZ has been one of the most, if not the most, reliable noise rock bands in delivering that approach with consistent quality throughout their 17-year career.

Yet, while the songs on Up on Gravity Hill certainly owe their genetic makeup to noise rock, their new approach is qualitatively different from METZ’s previous output and the output of their peers. The anxiety-inducing immediacy that METZ displayed on previous albums felt claustrophobic, as any good noise rock should. This was often achieved through a combination of cutting distortion, explicit dissonance, and an oversaturated recording quality. But the tracks on Up on Gravity Hill lack all of these: the guitars sound noticeably cleaner, the dissonance is balanced with melody, and the recording quality allows all of the notes and percussive hits to be clearly heard. 

Basically, the new songs are allowed to breathe. Tracks such as “Glass Eye” contain verses that are primarily carried by the rhythm section and are almost completely void of distortion besides the tasteful amount added to the bass. Likewise, the verses on the airy and shoegazey “Light Your Way Home” are spacious, starting with a simple 4/4 drum pattern and bass notes that merely signal chord changes. 

Even more strikingly, the band has focused on writing more straightforwardly with a focus on hooks. Atlas Vending was arguably the band’s first foray into writing hooks (at least by noise rock standards), and that album retrospectively hints at what was to come with Up on Gravity Hill. The melodious guitar interplay of the chorus of “Hail Taxi” is an earworm that could burrow into anyone’s brain for days at a time. But that chorus is bookended by abrasive verses. This is not the case with tracks such as “Entwined (Street Light Buzz)” on Up on Gravity Hill. While the chorus of that song contains an equally as catchy vocal melody, the verses are once again carried by the bass and drum until the guitar comes in with a descending pattern that is decidedly dissonant but not confrontational. 

This is all not to say that METZ has lost their edge. Far from it. But stripping down their sound and songwriting has seemingly provided them space to write monster hooks while expertly balancing melody with dissonance — a feat few noise rock bands would even attempt much less overwhelmingly succeed in doing.


The Crowdkillers

Malevich – Trembling and Dowsed (sludge, screamo, grind)

This is not what I was expecting from a new Malevich release. Trembling and Dowsed is grander in scale and more experimental than any of their previous releases, despite the fact it’s only four tracks and 16 minutes long. I suppose this is what EPs are there for though, to try some new tricks and test out a few boundaries you’d like to break. And break them they do.  

Opening track “Irene Jacob” is sparse and tormented with a loop of synths and distorted beats providing an underscore to Connor Ray’s anguished cries. The second half of the track sounds like it could have come from The Beyond era Cult Of Luna (definitely nothing wrong with that), and the band execute their twisted take on post-metal extremely well, it just took me by surprise. Little did I know there were bigger shocks in store. 

“I Can Hear It Constantly, Without Relent” not only features sections of melodic clean vocals, but its delicate guitars are also heartfelt and understated. This is their first attempt at this sound and it’s not just impressive, it’s expertly composed and brilliantly realised. Thankfully there are still splashes of screams and distortion in the mix, but if this harmonious element is going to be present in their new material from now on, we could be in for a real treat.

The two remaining tracks find Malevich in more familiar territory, mixing up a wonderful cocktail of sludge, hardcore and grind for our collective palates. You’ll hear elements of Cult Leader, Cloud Rat and Generation Of Vipers (among others) and it’s all executed with the passion and poise you’d expect. Yet, even these more furious offerings feel like a positive progression for the band. 

I was a big fan of their 2019 album Our Hollow, but this EP shows real ambition and intent from the Atlanta quartet, and it’s got me frothing at the mouth for the next Malevich full-length. 


FoesEndless Exile (Chaotic hardcore, grind)

I’ve never been in a bar fight. You know, the kind of unhinged brawl you see in the movies, where violence escalates quickly and involves a large crowd of people using bottles, wooden furniture and snooker cues as weapons. But if I had been in such a bar fight, I’m pretty sure it would sound like Foes new album, Endless Exile. A furious, juggernaut of a record that is an assault on the senses. If you’re after pure unrelenting chaotic aggression, this is all your Christmases come at once. 

Let’s set the scene by throwing some names at you. Take the intensity of Pig Destroyer, the disarray of Benumb, mix it with the hardcore fury of Underneath and you’re getting close to what’s on offer here. The Oregon based quartet jump from grindcore to hardcore to metalcore without blinking and whilst those transitions are not always seamless, they do keep the bedlam under control…just about. 

The array of vocals on display here is something that must be noted and applauded. Screams, growls, squeals, chants, croons, and everything in between. You’d be forgiven for thinking there were four or five vocalists, but it’s just the impressively versatile pipes of lead singer Micah Berry and the back-up rasps of bassist Brandon Self. It certainly adds to the frenetic atmosphere, but more importantly it means they can choose what vocal delivery best matches their music at any given moment, which is pretty unique. 

This is an album you’ll want to put on when you’ve had a particularly shitty day at work, or when you need to drown out all the loud and irritating passengers on your train. It’s brutal, it’s nuts, and I can’t stop listening to it. 


Eidola - Eviscerate (progressive metalcore, swancore)

A contentious, yet surprising album from these (former?) post-hardcore darlings. For some, Eidola was the swancore band for non-swancore fans. Vocalist Andrew Wells’ (now also of Dance Gavin Dance) delivery is distinct from most of their contemporaries in the scene for his soulful lower register, and in general their sound is more spiritual and grounded compared to a lot of the DGD-extended universe. Their 2015 (and in my opinion still strongest) release Degeneraterra really embodied that in its highly varied song-writing and more progressive rock influence. Over the next six years Eidola would put out two strong, but flawed releases where I felt they struggled to find their sound and the end result didn’t quite stick out from the pack and have the same staying power. Then we get to Eviscerate, clearly a transitional release, but a clear focused commitment to it. This is a progressive metalcore album more than anything to put a genre to it, but it’s a pretty darn good one. 

Whether this shift to a heavier and often djent-influenced approach is what you want from this band has to be set aside to just appreciate this for what it is. Sure, did they leave some of what made them special in the lightning they captured previously? Maybe. But they’re the same band, that identity, that personality, is still here in spades. It wears the metalcore riffage and increased harsh vocal focus like a weapon and armor, to enhance and lash out when their song crafting and storytelling requires it. As this dropped just a week after the latest Erra album, it was hard not to feel like this was the Erra album I’d been waiting for. There’s so much feeling here, and the flow between the lighter, spiritual side of it works so well dynamically contrasting with the creative uptempo prog metal riffing and genuinely hard hitting breakdowns. 

So maybe I was wrong before, maybe this was the Eidola album I’ve been waiting for. They’ve found something here with worthwhile purpose and an undeniable passion that translates well into a metalcore fabric. As the piano outro plays out as I’m writing this, I’m left with a feeling of empowered, yet relaxed contentment. A great thing to feel from any album.  


The Circle Pit (Best of the Rest)

Imminence - The Black (metalcore)

Alpha Wolf - Half Living Things (nu-metalcore)

Erra - Cure (djent, metalcore)

Ingested - The Tide of Death and Fractured Dreams (deathcore)

Filth - Southern Hostility (deathcore)

Lightworker - How the Beautiful Decay (melodic metalcore)

Grind - Grace and Misery (deathgrind)

Heavenly Blue - We Have the Answer (screamo)

Oberst - Toil (post-hardcore, screamo)

Crossed - Vida Quieta (metalcore, noise rock)

Malevich - Trembling and Dowsed (screamo, sludge)

ACxDC - G. O. A. T. (powerviolence, grind)

Letsmakenothinghappen - Kill Your Local Politician (emoviolence)

Balmora /Since My Beloved - Six Pacts Etched in Blood (melodic metalcore)

Whores - War. (noise rock, sludge)

Couch Slut - You Could Do It Tonight (noise rock, sludgecore)

Idiot Child - The First Breath Is the Beginning of Death (noise rock, sludge)

Cäbränegrä - Karoshi (grindcore)

Trent Bos

Published 8 days ago