Blackened thrash veterans Witchery are back, once again with significant line-up changes. These changes, thankfully, embellish the ethos which have made the band, in all their previous installments, vital in their respective field throughout the years. With new vocalist Angus Norder and drummer Christofer Barkensjö now in the fold, In His Infernal Majesty's Service marks a new chapter in the band’s career, a chapter which sounds as ferocious, angry and evil as ever. It’s business as usual for the Scandinavians, and the horror-themed occultisms coupled with copious amounts of thrashing are all present and accounted for. No pretenses. No nonsense.
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.
In 2016, if you’re still listening to Crowbar then you know what to expect: slow tempos, chugging riffs, raspy vocals, the occasional shifting time signatures, and – most of all - comforting, loud familiarity. The Louisiana sludge pioneers have been doing what they do best for thirty years after all, and even with their endless line-up changes, you can count on them to deliver the goods. After nearly three decades grinding away, they might not sound as fresh as they once were; often is the case with so many bands who don’t evolve significantly with time is they get stale. On the other hand, some bands try to evolve and end up worse because of it. But Crowbar are a band who’ve remained consistently good for the duration of their career so far without ever departing from their roots, and it’s never been to their detriment – nor is it now.
Scottish post-rock denizens Mogwai are a band who thrive in chaos and unpredictability – much like the little furry creatures from Joe Dante’s Gremlins they’re named after. Boundary-pushers since their inception, their feats of trailblazing subsequently launched post-rock into the mainstream stratosphere without ever having to compromise their artistic vision. Mogwai’s success is well earned and proof that, sometimes, crafting consistently great and innovative music can get you far. To traverse their discography is to explore vast oceans and limitless skies of both welcome familiarity and unexpected delights. Whether unleashing earth-shattering audio assaults or elegiac passages of soothing soundscapes, their music is profoundly human and capable of eliciting an emotional response through instrumentals alone.