The allure of extreme music, for most, comes from its roots in counter culture. The hippy-dippy era had no idea what the hell was happening when Iommi picked the first distorted tritone. Fast forward all the way to the present day and a lot of extreme music can be branded and catered to specific groups. Counter culture is consumer culture. Honest extreme music is much more difficult to come by and much more difficult to consume when it finally shows up. It doesn't get much tougher to swallow than this. Primitive Man are the embodiment of an "acquired taste"; the Denver residents playing doom that most fans of doom can't even stomach. Consumption of their new full length Caustic is not advisable for anyone of a weak disposition.
Subtlety isn’t a common approach when it comes to sludge metal, which rather favours blistering, distortion-focused guitars and thunderous drums since the notoriously volcanic heaviness of genre spearheads Electric Wizard and Weedeater. Although in a genre that finds it’s bands in a battle of extremes, seeing who can cause the most damage to the PA system with their amps, the 2010s have seen sludge been taken down a number of different avenues. We have Mastodon using it as a basis to conjure up progressive, multi-layered musical odysseys, Indian using noise experimentation to make it as hellishly freaky as possible, to Bongripper putting an emphasis on the direct riffs in creating a mood through repetition. However, we have Melbourne underground head-turners Sundr, dragging the style even further out to a much less assertive sound, yet a much more ethereal and tension-building experience on their vertiginous sophomore LP, The Canvas Sea.
Hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee, the synthwave producer known as Skeleton Beach released his first album, Being There, in January of this year featuring his own unique blend of ambient darkwave. He has since followed it up with the Last Night Alive EP, which was released earlier this month, itself a sort of self-described "bridge" between his first album and the next which is currently in production. Although relatively new to the synth scene, Skeleton Beach has been making music since his early teens starting with the drums before moving on to guitar and eventually piano; all self-taught by just playing what "felt right." Therefore it comes as little surprise that he's been able to take to the synth genre so quickly, notably after being introduced to electronic music through Radiohead, Squarepusher, and Burial. Though what truly inspires the sounds of Skeleton Beach are the horror movie soundtracks of yesteryear, especially those by John Carpenter, and the heaviness of black metal, doom metal, and stoner metal with bands such as Sleep and Sunn O))) constantly in his listening rotation.
Over the past several releases, New York-based White Suns have crafted an abrasive and esoteric noise rock formula. Rather than operating in the genre's standard fare of "noisy rock," the trio of Kevin Barry (vocals, guitar), Rick Visser (guitar, electronics) and Dana Matthiesen (drums, electronics) have opted instead for a seamless marriage of noise and experimental rock, with an elevated mood of unease conjured by Barry's cryptic lyricism and spoken word delivery. It's a peculiar formula which unfolded spectacularly across nine disorienting tracks on the band's previous effort, Totem (2014). The album presented an abundance of these unhinged noise rock bastardizations accented by extended passages of dark ambiance and industrial noise that created a painful degree of suspenseful dread before the band finally released the listener back into its chaos-ridden assault. It's the styling of these moments that composes the bulk of Psychic Drift, a four-track bludgeoning anchored by a nightmarish lyrical* journey as disturbing as the music that engulfs Barry's narration.
Press releases in general are typically excessive affairs, but those accompanying new music can be particularly unbearable. Take, for example, the opening promo blurb for Yersinia Pestis, the latest "necroclassical" offering from Goatcraft. Apparently, Lonegoat created his solo-piano project because he was "disappointed by a stagnating metal scene incapable of renewing its original spirit and sheer power." Setting aside this mindset's removal from reality (especially considering the album's release on the excellent I, Voidhanger Records), it's also an interesting assertion considering the musical response that Lonegoat feels is fit to offer. It would seem obvious for someone with this opinion to then go ahead and attempt to fix the "problem" directly by creating metal with these supposed qualities. But instead, Lonegoat created an album that not only rests within a discernible comfort zone, but heavily relies on the music which he critiques.
The sort-of-recent trend in metal has been trying to disgust and terrify listeners with sonic bombardment. Full of Hell and The Body already made that noticeable enough with their collaboration One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache (nicely reviewed by our own Simon Handmaker), and Author & Punisher did something close to this (albeit with a heavy industrial influence) with last year’s Melk En Honing. Today, however, I’d like to bring to the table a band that is arguably a forerunner of the “grosscore” sound that we love today: Wolf Eyes.