Stop the fucking presses! Apparently Metal is the worst and is officially dead.

Plot twist: It’s not and never will be.

So it was a slow, easy day full of cleaning up around my house and jammin’ out to random jamz when something caught my eye.  A recent article for CLRVYNT.com written by David Hall(director of Maryland Death Fest documentary) popped up on my newsfeed causing a massive shitstorm. Like other writers for music-related websites, he is another person making rather cynical crass and asinine statements about how Metal is supposedly the absolute “worst” and is “dead.” The first thing that went through my mind was how this is probably the billionth time someone has said along the lines of what David Hall is trying to make an argument about. Unfortunately, I have to hear and read about it on my Facebook newsfeed. It was a stupid thing to say in 1997 and 20 years later in 2017 it still holds no water or weight. You know the old saying that goes something like time is a flat circle and that everything we do, we will do again and again and again? This is a clear example. Journalists, writers, bloggers, and online complainers have done this time and again. They might make the argument that I am the proverbial 16 year old trapped in a 34 year old man’s body because I continue to listen to Metal and I could easily make the case that they simply got old, stopped caring, and became the father figure that I am not going to show respect for- especially when that father figure has been largely absent. The article is a clear example of “tl;dr” in the most cringey ways. Combine it with an edgy as fuck clickbait title, you would think this was Axl Rosenberg of Metalsucks in disguise. This shit had me seriously debating whether to ignore it, or take a step back and give him room to explain himself. Well I did the latter obviously in this case. So let’s just breakdown this example of the misguided anger-cynicism-edgy bull’s eye that David Hall is blindly trying to throw darts at and failing to hit.

David Hall starts his shit-list of complaints with this gem:

Is there any other genre of music that is so self-absorbed, so desperate for validation, so pathetically obsessed with itself, so childish and image-conscious, so accepting of conformity and mediocrity as metal? No. There isn’t. Because metal is the fucking worst, at least in North America, and it needs to get right or go away forever.

This depends on your source, dude. If you are basing these observations off the Metalocalypse-inspired goofy mainstream metal bands that sound like the really fucking TERRIBLE miasma of Arch Enemy/Behemoth/Opeth/Machine Head crud, I agree. The same goes for the Rockstar Energy Drink crowd of Korn/Five Finger Death Punch/White Chapel/Suicide Silence mainstream bros with plugs in their ears. Mainstream Metal for the most part has always been fucking goofy as shit. Glam Metal in the 80’s. Nu-Metal in the 90’s. Metalcore/Sweden-worship and Deathcore in the 00’s. Hipster Metal in the 2010’s. Mainstream Metal will always have it’s trends and fads and that’s all they are for the most part. BUT, if you are basing this off bands who are currently fucking things up in a positive way in the underground, then my good friend, you are seriously misguided. Let’s continue;

Metal is a petulant little child that is wrought with an Oedipus complex, an oral fixation and a collective transference of identity issues (somehow stemming from a lack of identity) that causes it to be constantly screaming for attention. Metal ALWAYS needs a great big dick in its mouth to calm it down and stroke its melodramatic ego. Metal wants to be heard and seen. It wants to rebel; yet, if you look at it, it ironically shuns your gaze because you are not credible enough to soothe its aching teats. Metal wants to be different, but only within a strict set of guidelines. Metal is a tireless masochist. It suffers, it moans, it whines, it annoys; it is a culture of emasculation, castration, penis envy, communism, capitalism and third-grade intellectualism. Metal is weak, ill-formed, small-minded, an accident. Metal is modern man in search of a soul, yet it looks not to the heavens for answers — instead it stares in awe up its own gaping asshole, whispering with quivered lips, “You go, girl.” Yes. YES. Metal is a cliche, a reproduction, derivative and fucking lame. Metal is an echo chamber.

Metal is in constant celebration of a victory it has never achieved.

Ok, the “You go, girl.” part did raise a smirk on my face. I will be the first to admit that some of these things are true. Some of these are things people don’t want to hear. And some of these are just down-right fucking stupid. These are also some of the vaguest fucking crass statements I have heard. David Hall sounds like some random ex-writer for Rolling Stone magazine who is bitter that this month’s issue didn’t have that eagerly-awaited review on the 40th re-re-re-re-re-release of a random Bob Dylan album. Combine that with him trying his hardest to pull off an wannabe-Bukowski sense of smugness and tortured artist soul , just reading his vapid and fleeting words make me feel like I’m going to get a bad case of Taco Bell shits.

David Hall then talks about the importance of the first Black Sabbath album. Which at this point in the game of “I listen to REAL metal” might as well be this automatic safe answer that every writer uses as some sort of leverage in their arguments. It’s like an art student straight out of high school and going up to his university college professor who has been teaching his class for the past 20 years and saying “Art is dying. Dadaism is pretentious bullshit, but Picasso is the start and finishing statement of my argument.” After which he completely fucks up the time-line as far as Metal’s evolution and misses some rather important key points to it’s evolution:

From the first spins of Black Sabbath, metal grew fast. As bands like Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple focused on songwriting, riffs and performance, other musicians crawled out of the swamp and started to take metal in new directions, effectively creating the first subgenres of metal that would lead us to our present state of affairs. Speed metal, black metal, death metal; which led to doom metal, glam metal and thrash; which led to grindcore, technical death metal and crossover; which led to a whole array of sub-sub-sub-subgenres; which ultimately led to “blackgaze,” which, in my opinion, was the death knell of metal, and it’s where we are now, and it really sucks and is shitty and it’s the fucking worst.”

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FUCK ELITISTS! I’M GOING TO BE A NON-ELITIST ELITIST! NOTHING IS GOOD PAST A CERTAIN YEAR!” – David Hall in a shirt that I must admit I’m jealous for not having. Can someone find this for me? I’ll Paypal you ASAP.

Blackgaze? First I am triggered at this that he is not only being racist and homophobic but if he seriously thinks that’s an accurate timeline, then he gives an F for failing history class. IF my assumption of incorrect historical evolution is actually correct, I would highly recommend that he at LEAST read “Sounds of The Beast” by Ian Christe. Decibel Magazine has some really excellent reads concerning essential albums in Metal in all types of genres. Or watch any of the Sam Dunn metal documentaries on Youtube. Even as “For Beginners Only” sources of information, both are way more accurate in pointing out the evolution in an historically accurate fashion. How the FUCK did Speed, Black, and Death Metal lead to Glam Metal? That’s like saying Exhorder is responsible for the existence of Korn. Unless you were to do a Six Degrees To Nu-Metal, that’s a jump that Evel Knievel couldn’t make. And as far as “blackgaze” being the death knell of metal? Have you heard of Five Finger Death Punch? You want to talk about goofy fucking bands? There’s you an easy target.

So, what happened? When did it happen? How did it happen? How did a fertile, underground, credible, artistic and meaningful genre of music go unfettered for almost 40 years before it suddenly hit a wall? Well, like many journalists suggest, it wasn’t Nazism, misogyny, racism or elitism. It is a fallacy to assume that one genre of music is discriminatory — a) music is inanimate; it isn’t anything but sounds and words delivered on whatever medium is most profitable; b) music cannot “be” anything but music; any social and human behaviors attributed to music is transference and anthropomorphization; c) fuck off and put your personal politics into a medium or social construct where it belongs and works: social work, politics, medicine, engineering, volunteering — you can’t change a light bulb with a piece of cheese, and you can’t fix (or ruin) society with art.

I can agree with this for the most part. I’ll give him a gold star for today for not using tired, worn-out, and over-used accusations and slander. Good job in not making this piece part of the online social-political echo chamber.

No. Like most artistic movements, metal’s death blow was commercialization. And more importantly, the widespread acceptance of said commercialization. I can pinpoint the exact point in time when this happened: June 11, 2013. What happened on this date? An album called Sunbather by a band named Deafheaven was released. This was the apex of metal’s commercialization. 1999 – 2012 were creatively fertile, but financially lean times for underground labels. The vinyl boom was just starting to hit. Metal was not quite hip yet. Metal needed a kick-start. And thanks to commerce and cultural appropriation, it got one.”

Soooo, you’ve pretty much stroked yourself  for the first half of this article just to be ready to fire-off a lazy orgasm into your proverbial cumsock? OVER DEAFHEAVEN? Of all bands, you choose Deafheaven to base all of your misguided anger towards? If you were any less impotent, you would pass as a prime candidate for erectile dysfunction pills.

Like Black Sabbath — who did not invent the genre of metal, but perfected it and made it real and signaled its arrival in a measurable, quantifiable, identifiable package — Deafheaven made real (did not invent) a subgenre of metal called “blackgaze,” a combination of black metal and the indie rock subgenre shoegaze. Yes, many other bands played this kind of music before Deafheaven. Yes, many bands in the parenting genres of black metal and shoegaze laid a fertile framework of music prior to Sunbather. But like Sabbath’s Sabbath, Sunbather was a signal post. This post said, “We are blackgaze; we are marking this territory for our own; there will never be a better blackgaze album than Sunbather; we are taking a stand, planting our feet firmly and announcing that from this point forward, WE are the progenitors of a new scene.

And people bought it. Thanks to a propaganda campaign led by Pitchfork, Sunbather became a cultural force in the “underground” world of metal. Except it wasn’t underground metal that was listening or buying. It was children, and those uninitiated and unaware. You know how Nirvana’s Nevermind “invented” grunge, even though those of us who were there can clearly remember an organic scene called “indie” or “alternative” that existed for years before Kurt and co., appropriated it and sold it out? People at Dinosaur Jr shows weren’t listening to or buying Nirvana. People at Pixies and Meat Puppets shows weren’t listening to or buying Nirvana. And yet suddenly Nirvana dropped Nevermind and every asshole at the mall was wearing a flannel shirt. Well, that is Deafheaven and Sunbather. Nobody I know was listening to that band or buying Sunbather. In fact, anyone in the know resented their blatant skip-the-line success. But suddenly everyone at the mall was wearing corpsepaint and praising Loveless by My Bloody Valentine. No, the music on Sunbather isn’t terrible. That’s a personal call. Musical enjoyment is subjective. Whatever goes in your ears is for your ears only. But suddenly Deafheaven were everywhere, had the Breaking Bad of “metal” albums, and for a time, you know, it was fine. People wanted to buy their records. Sure. Cool. I mean, Pitchfork was guilty of selling an album as black metal that has no business being called black metal, but for the most part, the success of Sunbather was organic and fan-based: real, dedicated metal outlets pretty much ignored and/or scoffed at the band, and fans drove the album’s success. Hey, there’s no accounting for bad taste, right?

Stop. Please, for the love of Cthulhu. Just stop.

What happened next, however, was not organic, was not fan-driven or relatively harmless cultural appropriation. What happened next is what killed the underground scene and brought us to the point we are at now: Deafheaven, too $uccessful to ignore, started to be given credibility by the metal press. And even worse, other underground labels — much like the “grunge” frenzy in the ’90s — started to look for more Deafheavens. Blackgaze, and other nonsensical subgenres that have no business being sold as metal, started to be sold as metal. And bands began to change their style to profit from this. Suddenly, a niche was making money. People were selling out. People were following their wallets. And the worst part is no one seemed to care. On August 4, 2016, eyewear conglomerate Luxottica, through its child company Ray-Ban, released an ad campaign featuring Deafheaven. It used their music, their images and their story. (Well, the campaign spun their story anyway.) Suddenly, Deafheaven were brave innovators who stood up to their critics, and against all odds, released an album. They had courage! #ittakescourage. That was the hashtag given to the Deafheaven campaign. Metal. Reduced to a fucking hashtag and a sunglasses commercial. And the worst part? Nobody said shit. People loved it! And any form of criticism was brushed off as “haters” or “Well, Deafheaven has always just been about seeing how far they can take it.” The band sold themselves out and sold out underground music, and people fucking loved them for it. They were heroes. And anyone who said otherwise was a misogynist, racist, homophobic “edge-lord.” That’s when underground metal died for me. Not the music — I love the music … well, not Deafheaven — but the spirit and ethos and individuality of metal. Sold to a fucking sunglasses company. It made me really depressed.

I suddenly felt like I was in The Matrix or Inception. At metal shows, everyone looked the same and acted the same. Throw the “horns” up and party! Be blind to the conformity that surrounds us. Eyes wide shut, please. Buy. Conform. Don’t criticize. Go inside and eat supper with the pigs. Accept. Blame! Be inclusive for THE SAKE OF SOCIETY! WELCOME ALL CONSUMERS TO THE TABLE. MAKE METAL YOUR IDENTITY. CLICK. BAIT. CLICK. BAIT. MORAL SUPERIORITY THROUGH THINK PIECES!!!!!!! BUY TWO PAIRS OF RAY-BANS, THAT TAKES COURAGE.

Fucking weak, man.”

Before I disagree, I DO particularly remember when the accusations of anyone being against Deafheaven was met with the PC brigade- whatever the accusations they did and can dish-out in total non-sensible fashion as usual. Even I didn’t understand this and I’m not even invested in a band like Deafheaven. I’ve always been extremely indifferent to them -to me they simply don’t exist. I have way better shit to pay attention to, like David Hall’s arguments for example.

BUT

If it takes a band like Deafheaven for you start making comments like this, then YOU are weak. You are what we look at and feel completely taken aback. It’s a total sense of dumbfounded reasoning. Why take every negative thing of both past and present out on one single band? That’s a total cop-out. Mainstream Metal for the most part has always been more or less goofy. Even when the mainstream flirted with the underground in the 90’s, it was goofy to certain degrees. If you equate Deafheaven making black metal acceptable for swoopy-haired hipsters with flannels to cultural appropriate in 2013 as the death-knell of metal, then I would hate for you to be around in the late 90’s to early 2000’s when Cradle of Filth made it acceptable for Marilyn Manson fans to cultural appropriate with contact lenses and write shitty poetry about vampires named Lestat.

This was the apex of metal’s commercialization. 1999 – 2012 were creatively fertile, but financially lean times for underground labels.

I seriously doubt you were around in the late 90’s. If you were then you would not be trying to sound like some washed-up 45 year old Dad with a mullet wearing a sleeveless Metallica shirt – one who complains about how metal past the year 1991 sounds like shit because of “cookie monster vocals.” As far as metal’s commercialization starting in 1999? I think you have mistaken Nu-Metal’s success with whatever else you are talking about, but then I still can’t even tell.  If you had a point, you lost me. My advice?  Instead of giving a band like Deafheaven more press and clicks, go listen to new and recent albums by Blood Incantation, Loss, Power Trip, Ulver, Immolation, Death Worship, Nails, Necrot, Full Of Hell, or a dozen other bands and releases from the past 3 years that you can give more attention and energy into. Do that rather than make asinine and crass statements that will only grant you favors and sloppy handjobs from the authors of Metalsucks. If this was clickbait, then you one-upped Axl Rosenberg when he claimed that Todd Jones is a scene-bully. Congratulations Dad.

Closing statement to David Hall:

Raisin’ Hell: Life As a Metalhead From the South.

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Crackin’ open a cold one with the boys. Photo courtesy of Alexandria Erickson.

As a human being and speaking about this particular topic, my opening point is not directly based on any connection to music what-so-ever. Let me just start by saying that I feel it’s important to experience as many different cultures as you can in your lifetime, even if you don’t see eye-to-eye with them. As bullheaded and bone-fucking-stubborn as I can be when I want, I try to keep an open-mind. I know that where I live is NOT the center of the universe. Nobody else on this ball of dirt floating around the sun should think that way either. If you do that, you are really missing out on the grand scheme and big picture of life. But what happens when you come from a certain part of the United States that is viewed as backwards, ignorant, sketchy, and an area of general negative shit? Now combine that with the fact that you’re also a metal fan. That takes a bit more explaining to do.

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Eldehelm of Gravehill with Matt Heffner of Morbisidad performing in Texas. Photo courtesy of Alexandria Erickson.

Just a couple of months ago I had a friend visit me from the west coast. Where I currently reside in Florida came as a total and complete cultural shock to this person. We come from two completely different backgrounds, and I’ll be the first to admit that the first impression of the state of California invokes eye rolls. The idea that pops into my head is a sprawl generated by the mass media with stereotypes of gentrification, tech industry people, Hollywood celebs, health-conscious suburbanites in upper middle-class houses, etc. It’s the kind of place that would make me feel completely out of touch with humanity, as I come from a completely different world. To me, the only positive about the west coast would be not having to deal with the humidity-drenched swamps and general moist environment of Florida. I would definitely stick out like a sore thumb as well. Not that I would let it completely ruin my day, but it’s really the whole of where I come from -the South.  It has a certain stigma that I TRY not to bring up. It’s a negative stereotype that I’m stuck with even though I do not carry that ignorant mind frame with me wherever I go. Call it guilty by association just based on the region where I live.  The media which, as usual, likes to create these little divisions between working-class people of all different backgrounds, creeds, races, religions, etc. Because of this, people like me, people of the South, are the constant butt of all jokes. To this day in the year 2017, these stereotypes continue. Well I am here to help shatter that fucking mold and give you an insight to living life in the South as a metal fan.

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Elsie Bordon of Vile Productions and Chris Briggs of Universities Of Miami’s very own WVUM’s Metal Revolution college radio show. Photo courtesy of Elsie Bordon

Things get trickier when you add the fact that I’m a Metal fan into to all of this. It’s bad enough that in the past, southern metal heads have been painted with a broad stroke and generalized as uncouth. It’s even more difficult to make a fellow hesher understand that regardless of where we live, we are not at all completely different. We who are south of the Mason-Dixon line really just don’t give a fuck. And a lot of people cannot understand why. They can’t understand why this lack of couth hasn’t served us for any positive benefits for the most part. And with the advent of social media, for those of us who are more vocal than others, it gives outsiders the wrong impression. It gives them the idea that we are all fat, sweaty, McDonald french fry-stained Pantera shirt-wearing, trailer park-dwelling idiots. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Let me just sum this all up for you. Let me tell you what it’s really like being a hesher/underground maniac  living in the dirty south.

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Good times and good friends. Photo submitted by Elsie Bordon of Vile Productions

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Mob Murray of Miami’s My Phantom’s Kiss hanging with friends. Photo courtesy of Mob Murray.

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Moshing it up in the pit. Photo courtesy of Cat Anton. 

Let’s get to one thing right off the bat: We’re not all Trump supporters. Nor are we all democrats. We’re not one-sided when it comes to whatever political party is currently causing trouble in the country’s capitol. A lot of us are apolitical and that just generally comes from a complete lack of trust of politicians. Too many facets to that ugly many-sided dice. While yes, conservatives have an iron fist wrapped around our laws, many of my friends including myself have what many would consider liberal views, but politically-speaking when it comes to liberal politics, we simply agree to disagree. The majority of my close friends come from conservative-minded families but that does not hold us or keep us from being friends with others who come from different backgrounds.

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Hell’s Fauna of Ocala. Fl. Photo courtesy of Stu Everson.

Religion: That’s a major factor in our regional make-up. The church side of things is full of hypocrisy and really does give Christianity a bad name. At this point ‘the devil’ does have the best tunes and his infernal influence has been rather splendid because the music is honest and exposes a lot of what is wrong with things today. I was raised in a Roman Catholic family by very loving parents. I was taught excellent values. I still hold on to the ideas of treating others the way I want to be treated and being an all-around decent human being. The church however is the result of giving people power in the name of God which typically results in absolute corruption. Not trying to go into an elongated rant, but that bold statement DOES come from a deeply-rooted southern lifestyle that I have lived for the majority of my life. With the religion part said, a lot of my fellow southern headbangers are non-religious. Depending on the individual, you’ll find a wide variety of beliefs: atheists, agnostics, deists, and satanism. Some have explored the darker regions of the occult with dedication. All-around the vast majority have a rather confrontational outlook on organized religions of all sorts. Our previous experiences of growing up and dealing with snake-handlers, swindlers, charlatans, hypocrites, lairs, and what-have-you have more or less forced us down a rather left hand path in life. For some it’s based purely on defiance. Others we still have yet and refuse to see the light in the words of Hank Williams. It makes perfect sense when you hear the sounds of the South: Morbid Angel, Absu, Black Witchery, Nyogthaeblisz, Necrovore, Deicide, Grave Gnosis, Funeral Ash, and countless others are the ones representing the anger and bitterness towards those who have promised a light at the end of the tunnel through blind servitude.

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Devoted to the black arts of the coven. Photo courtesy of Funeral Ash singer Malfeitor 

There are other issues that we deal with. Drugs and addiction are always a hot topic in our day-to-day lives. Bands such as Down, Pantera, Crowbar, and Eyehategod have written about and sang the blues through drug addiction for the majority of their careers. Alcoholism, painkillers/opiates/heroin, and crystal meth are a daily virus that plague our friends and families lives and run the local news networks with stories of personal defeat. Why is it such a predominant factor? It begins with the fact that a lot of us weren’t born into this world with a silver spoon in our mouths. Throw in the fact that we are not located in say, New York or LA, -that “good life” is a dream that we defiantly give our middle fingers to. It doesn’t work for us. So we have to go out on our own and build our own lives enforced by our own rules and philosophies. A lot of us do not go to universities, by the way. We are forced to take whatever general labor job with menial pay and it usually means working out in the god-forsaken oppressive heat and humidity. I’m not here to preach or sing the gospel according to Jesus Christ, but I have seen nothing but problems come from drugs. The painkiller/opiate epidemic is by far the worst affecting every single walk of life and is basically a quick trip to living in a trailer park in the more rural areas where everyone is in a constant downward spiral of addiction, going to jail and or prison, or a life of crime. With that said, I’d say stick to weed if you need your fix. That’s one thing everyone down here DOES agree upon. Hail the leaf indeed!

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Serving time in the middle of the Everglades . Photo submitted by Jess Harris

While not focusing so much on drug addiction, there’s also its depressing sister named poverty. Even a problem within the major cities, it’s everywhere you go outside the confines of steel and concrete. It’s why we aren’t as(what we like to call) high-falutin as you city folk from the East or West Coast. Many of us are either in the more rural parts surrounded by swamps, bayous, mountains, cow pastures, or stuck in towns that had a massive shit-bomb dropped on them. Promises of prosperity and jobs at one point might have given hope to our families, but those all went away due to the passing of time and multiple lay-offs. The only roads that those shitty jobs lead to are a dead-ends, barely making past minimum wage. Some of us do live in the major cities such as Miami, New Orleans, Houston, Tampa, Atlanta, Charleston, Memphis, etc. Some cities are nicer than others. Some are dirtier. Some have more to offer with music heritage, particularly New Orleans, being home to Sludge, and Tampa being ground-zero for Death Metal.  A lot of those music scenes and cities are EXTREMELY open-minded in comparison to the more rural areas. Miami is a massive one where the majority of the population is Latino(Cuban/Puerto Rican/Haitian). New Orleans, Atlanta, and Biloxi, have substantial African American communities. If you’re the kind of person that cannot get along with any race other than your own, don’t come strolling through our cities. Simply put, if you bring that attitude with you then you’re more than likely to have a lousy afternoon. That goes double in the rural areas. Do NOT under any circumstance go out to those parts and start preachin’ about whatever is currently the hottest topic of racism, safe spaces, unemployment, or xenophobia. Don’t talk down to people or seeing them as somehow below you. People down here have a hard enough time trying to get through the week and they don’t need you coming around and making them feel like a giant lump of shit. Don’t stroll through here and enforce any sort of negative stereotype and fuck it up for the rest of us who have more serious shit to worry about instead of whatever the color of someone’s skin is.

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Live in Hell, Norway? Went to Tromaville High School? BLOCKED. Photo courtesy of Youtube vlogger Joshua Armijo aka runnerjma.

That brings us the the ugliest issue of all: Racism. That is by far the darkest and often misunderstood facet of our way of life. The idea and stigma of online social media and mass media is that we all are hanging up confederate flags in our windows as curtains. That couldn’t be further from the actual truth. The majority of people in the south are not racist. The racists you see in online videos make up a really small percentage of all who live here. The truth is that for many of us growing up, we had to deal with the bastard offspring of genetically and intellectual lacking late term abortions. Most of us who are all part of the same generation (Generation X and Millennials) all came from the same obsolete public school system where many of us were bullied and given a lot of shit because we listened to “that devil-worshiping music.” These were the same ignorant jack-offs who drove pick-up trucks that blared Hip-Hop music, while blatantly using words such as “nigger”(yes it is an ugly word and I personally do not like it myself) and did other sketchy things. In other words, these lowlifes should have been kicking their own asses instead of ours. Essentially it made us not want to be associated with said trash in any sort of way.

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Achin’ feet, warm steps. Photo courtesy of Jay H Gorania writer/reviewer of Blabbermouth.net

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“Born dead into this world, to starve and rot in agony” Photo courtesy of yours truly.

At the end of the day, all these issues factor into one thing. They make us Southern. Southern lifestyle is far different than the negative white trash and redneck images and stereotypes that are fed to you on a constant basis. Yes, many of us say “Sir” and “Ma’am.” Some of us come from families that still say blessings at the dinner table before a huge meal. And we all have many friends and family members all comprised of multi-ethnic backgrounds and beliefs. We are welcomed with a huge pitcher of sweet tea and a plate of soul food ready to to fill bellies and hearts up with the old stories of our families and friends that we hold very close to us. That happens right before we are hit with food comas and diabetes and want to take an afternoon nap or go straight to bed. We are no different than anyone else that lives outside of our region of this great country. We’re all struggling to make it on our own, and at the end of the day we all listen to and support Metal and have been for quite some time. So when you find yourself in the South be it visiting, driving through or whatever other reason that you have….just show respect and you will be given respect back, and if someone offers to feed you their family’s cooking, you’ve struck gold. You’ve hit the jackpot. Keep blasting out that ‘hard ‘n heavy devil music‘ and y’all come back y’hear!

Twisting, turning, and writhing: New jamz from Plaguewielder!

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The name Plaguewielder should not come as foreign to the reader, seeing how I reviewed their rather excellent 2015 debutSuccumb To The Ash” album last year. Keeping in touch with the band via online social media has not exactly been an issue, as I honestly can’t really think of any other band that sounds like them. Blackened Sludge is a sub- genre that has yet to hit it’s explosive period. It has only recently started to come into it’s own within the past several years as a sub-genre with bands such as Wolvhammer, Lord Mantis, and Coffinworm. This is a good thing because this gives Plaguewielder a massive one-up in the creativity department as far as expanding their sound, while also helping forge possible new paths. This could force said sub-genre to discover it’s own potential to become a much bigger beast.

A few days ago, Plaguewielder dropped/posted a new song on their official Bandcamp page called “Writhing In Mental Torment. ” Previously to getting my butt over to listen to it, I had been spending that entire day reviewing and listening to the new Loss album. Before clicking on the ‘play‘ button, I almost slightly hesitated, mostly due to the fact that the new Loss album made me want to die a slow rotting miserable death (in the best way possible). Would the new Plagueweilder song distract my attention away long enough to take notice? Surprisingly, it did. The song “Writhing In Mental Torment” was the complete polar opposite in terms of tempo and song arrangement. It’s shockingly rather short and up-beat with a blackened Punk-like spirit to it. Think of Fenriz playing an off-kilter drum beat cover of “New Rose” off the first The Damned album but in a total urgent “Die or get the fuck outta my way“-type fashion. Combine that with a crusty, oozing, sludgy breakdown towards the end. How this couldn’t motivate more bands/musicians who want to possibly go down this route or play similar styled music to take initiative to bring new things to the table is a question that will be answered best in time. Check it out and Hails reacts only brodies!

“Horizonless” but not directionless, Loss loses nothing and gains all with their 2nd album.

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I do not remember a depression such as this
How many clocks has it been since we’ve last spoken?

Such is the question many have asked. 6 years of being silently and completely overcome by the band Loss have fans such as myself have not even heard a peep or a muster out of the US funeral doomsters. And the longing for the lights to dim in that room and for their particular brand of depressing darkness that has not been felt has been utterly painful. A split released in 2014 with Hooded Menace was nothing more than a red flag for the surfacing of possibly a new album. But again, more silence. Leaving fans such as myself in the best of words “horizonless” as implied by their newest album’s title. BUT…alas, the sorrow and melancholy never truly goes away and Loss are back and as bleak as they have ever been. Never letting up on punishing the listener and throwing them into a severe state of chemical imbalance…

Horizonless” picks right up where their 2011 debut album on Profound Lore Records, “Despond“, ended in absolute and total desolation. The tragic despondency of their 2nd album may seem as if they are stepping outside of their own brand of US funeral doom, but if anything, it’s adding 10 more layers of grief to the already sorrow-filled listener. The slow pounding drumbeats and retching vocals of the intimidating and towering Goliath of torment, Mike Meacham, breaks the quiet of the past 6 years with the opening track “The Joy of All Who Sorrow.” The next 10 minutes and 42 seconds, that dark room shakes with the knowledge that the stars have finally burnt out and fallen and the physical boundaries of the walls to the room fade into the shadows, exposing the entrance to the void appears, widens and opens once again, reaching for all of those who want to defy the damnable and disappear into the fathomless depths of abyss and all that lies there within. This is not to say this is the only song that you should not dread on this album. Songs such as the title track, “All Grows On Tears,” “When Death Is All,” and “Naught” are all songs reaching for the 10 minute mark and reaching past. “i.o.” is the almost a snippet of a horror film not yet been filmed. “The End Steps Forth” is an extension of “i.o.” and opens up all the doors to the endless halls in the maze-like mausoleum that Loss watch over in solitude but which hauntingly recalls Industrial legends Skinny Puppy‘s “The Killing Game” minus the electronics.

  Loss is not what one would call a traditionally conceptual band, but if you have noticed, or maybe it’s their music that is making me look past the sorrowful tunes into possibly deeper shades of darkness, their artwork adorning their release paints a grim story to a man via suicide (2004’s demo “Life Without Hope…Death Without Reason“) onto his mourning widow’s death bed (2011’s debut “Despond“) and then finally what lies beyond the end to whatever life they may have lived or led to a place without meaning, without light, without hope, without any thing that might resemble a light at the end of the tunnel they called life. A place where ravens, and vultures circle the lost wandering souls and ghost in a plane of existence that is beyond one’s comprehension. A void of absolute anguish with zero redeeming hope of possible redemption or deliverance from it’s shadowy realm (2017’s sophomore “Horizonless“). I don’t know if I am the only corrupted listener that has noticed this….but it’s something that has recently popped into my head as I review this album and quite honestly, it’s a bit disturbing. With their newest album, artist Adam Burke who’s visual landscaping talents have given other sonic heavy artists such as Gatecreeper, Artificial Brain, and Mare Cognitum album artwork eye-candy, has expanded the portrait that Loss has hung up in it’s rotting, mildew, moldy and decrepit funeral parlor.

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Bow your heads and worship. Hail to nothingness.

If anything the album “Horizonless” shows that the musicians have grown to the point where their music can inflict even MORE pain and hopeless struggle upon the listener. Vocalist Mike Meacham is the lighthouse, the welcoming dark light for the dismal, the heavy-hearted, and downcast. Guitarist Timothei Lewis has honed in further to his melodies that have become like a handful of blunt, rusty razors easily slicing up wrists and opening the veins to let the blood flow for the last time. John Anderson’s bass is the rumblings of absolute and impending doom which is makes any living mortal shudder in total despair and panic. Sound wise, drummer Jay LeMaire leaves no downward posture of the downbeat unweighted down without piling upon even more burden on their already broken backs, each kick or blast another pound of unhappiness forcing the listener to finally cave in and fall to their knees. Assisting these pallbearers with the recently deceased and parted on their funeral marches to their waiting lonely graves are none other than black metal’s Tall Man himself Wrest a.k.a. Jef Whitehead (Leviathan, Lurker of Chalice, Twilight), his wife/musical partner Stevie Floyd(Dark Castle/Devout/Taurus) and well-known producer Billy Anderson (Melvins/Asunder/Neurosis/Swans/etc.) all three whom providing vocals to the final curtain-pulling track “When Death Is All” which closes on another long, depressing chapter in the dust-and-cobweb-covered signature book in Loss’s funeral parlor where they are currently making a killing in their own personal business.

In the immortal words of Dante’sInferno“;

Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure
All hope abandon ye who enter here

Track Listing:
1. The Joy Of All Who Sorrow (10:42)
2. i.o (1:50)
3. All Grows On Tears (8:44)
4. Moved Beyond Murder (2:44)
5. Naught (9:52)
6. The End Steps Forth (4:08)
7. Horizonless (10:54)
8. Banishment (4:47)
9. Where Death Is All (11:00)

Horizonless” by Loss is now available on Profound Lore Records. You can listen to it streaming on Spotify, or you can order it on their Bandcamp. You can also follow them at their official website and official Facebook profile.

Interview: Inside the hallucinatory and haunted world of True Love.

True Love, much like Convulsing, is another one man band that I have reviewed here on Esoterica Codex  last year. Completely summoned forth by sole musician/creator Raii himself, True Love is a band that should be listened to with the lights off and a bottle of anti-psychotics within your grasp. Raii just released a killer split with Whitewurm on Canada’s very own Les Fleurs du Mal Productions. After not only being turned onto and intrigued by both of his two 2016 demos,(“Hate Through Meditation,” and “Pray For Perpetual Violence“) and currently being blown away by said same mentioned split, I decided to get in touch with this maniac and ask him a few questions, not even prepared for some of the bit of the off-the-padded-walls answers that they would receive. Read on!

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  1. Give a brief description of what True Love is in your words. Why in particular the name True Love? Is there more meaning behind it or is the band name a “what you see/hear is what you get” type of statement? 

    True Love is my vehicle for draining the deepest, ugliest, most hate and fear filled caverns of my mind…a audible anxiety attack. I chose this name because in my mind it is the ultimate level of consciousness that the pain of man is created by trying to achieve…absolutely Nothing to do with romance but rather the holy grail that man may never get to, the death of the ego and the human experience. And the start of complete immortal euphoria. 

  2. There are so many different types of black metal currently being played/performed/made as far as the genre goes, how would you describe your sound to a first time listener? 

    Wuss Rock.

  3. People tend to associate you with other current one man black metal bands such as Mare Cognitum, Palace Of Worms, Ecferus etc. How do you feel about this? Do you feel you are in any sort of league with these other individuals of isolation? 

    They do? Well I enjoy Ecferus quite a bit so i will gladly take the compliment. 

  4. Your music sounds like it’s very raw and very unorthodox. It doesn’t sound pre-thought of in a contrived notion. What kind of environment are you in when you are creating/writing music and lyrics? 

    Usually in the middle of the night, always alone and often whilst battling high anxiety or weird episodes of hallucinations to be honest… True Love has been a result of and also a continuous cause of strange personal situations and episodes.true_love_-_meditating_through_illusion_pro-mc_large

  5. Being from Reno, Nevada and seeing how that is a bit isolated from the likes of other major music scenes, do you think being located there has added to the quality of your music? 

    Not at all to be honest, I mean I don’t play out anyway but I’m not huge fan of the music “scene” here or am really even apart of it at all anymore, there are a handful of bands here I’m a fan of but there’s quite a bit of bro metal and bar rock and EDM and just plain weird shit…but everyone’s on their own path who am I to say what’s good or not…not many touring bands come through either..I don’t think many people here have even heard of True Love…there’s a few guys here and there that I see from time to time kind of mention True Love which I am very grateful for but ultimately I’m nobody in this city nor do I really feel like I’m apart of it. 

  6. Let’s go into a bit of your personal history; how did you get into Metal music and how did you discover black metal? 

    I got into metal and that mostly being Metallica when I was a really little kid because of my older family members getting me into it, it’s been the one constant obsession that’s lasted my entire life…as for kvlt, when I was 11 or 12 I was failing a math class at my school and a kid in my class would wear this long sleeve faded black shirt EVERY fucking day that had red pentagrams down the sleeves and these scary pro wrestling looking guys on it sticking their tongues out with weapons and shit that said Emperor on the front and back…I was so intrigued… I ended up asking about it and he gave to me and insisted that I read a copy of “Lords Of Chaos” and it was the coolest shit I ever saw…the quotes and clippings on the back “after the murder of a complete stranger,” “I had to knock the knife out of his head” etc… I was blown away…,these were the days of cd burning and Napster haha so I got to get a LITTLE bit of music in my hands here and there and it was so extreme, so terrifying, so important… I ended up buying a used copy of A metal blade comp cd called “Blackened” maybe volume 2 I think? that had “Thus Spake The Nightspirit” on it at a local venue store front and the obsession is still growing for me to this day. 

  7. What are some of your personal influences?Musically I love classic Heavy Metal and NWOBHM and quite a bit of the second wave of kvlt, I love the Pest-era of Gorgoroth but I also love a lot of the shit from around the world especially the French Black Metal scene that has come out the last 10 to 15 years I’d say…. I haven’t come to close to achieving what I want yet but my personal fear and horror is something I try and want to put into True Love. I have an obsession with getting scared and I ultimately want to figure out how to make my music horrifying but like I said I’m no where near that yet.

     

  8. What led you to creating True Love and have you done anything musically prior to True Love? 

    I wanted to do something solo in black metal since I was about 15 …infact on my first demo there is a song called the final drought and I actually wrote the first riff when I was 15…I just never knew how to record and it was always an ambition in the back of my mind… I worked in a funeral home a few years back as a crematory operator and body removal specialist and I would often fantasize in those days about putting what my mind was comprehending of those experiences onto tape and into music and one day back in 2014 I just decided that the band I was in at the time just wasn’t doing enough for my expressions needs and I wanted to make something darker and more extreme so I finally started writing with the idea of doing everything myself. 

  9. What are some of the general themes that your lyrics touch upon? Are they based on personal experiences or are they based on personal beliefs meaning those who follow a more left hand path? 

    Supernatural experiences both positive and negative, complete paralyzing fear, hate, and the positivity of self reliance and the strength of being an outsider, the power of LSD, the immortality of a spirit. 

  10. Is there any sort of ideology that you personally hold and try to convey within your music and lyrics? 

    I believe that the worship of anything is self dooming, and that this human experience is a mere fragment of reality…”time” is a complete illusion and everyone and everything is one single entity that has been masked as separation to control true barbaric and heathen freedom… it’s complicated obviously…I don’t think I have it all figured out or anything but I don’t tend to share this mindset with many people… infact I think I’ll always be confused as long as I’m a human haha.
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  11. You just recently put out a split with another one-man USBM band, Whitewurm, which was released through Les Fleurs du Mal Productions. Your song features a rather pulse-y noise-esque intro. Is this something that you are going to be bringing more to the table with your music as far as adding more textures to your already evolving sound as an artist? 

    Ahh yeah the Cliff Burton “Orion” intro worship…absolutely. I have many ambitions to fuck around with as many sounds and new instruments I can get my hands on. 

  12. How did you get in touch with Les Feurs du Mal Productions and how was it like working with them? 

    I reached out to them after I heard the Olkoth tape… and it has been excellent working with LFDM….they have brought True Love over seas and I encourage any up and coming black or death metal bands to reach out to them! 

  13. Speaking of evolution, looking in hindsight from your perspective, how well do you see yourself in terms of just putting out 2 demos from last year in terms of the riffs? I noticed on some of the riffs on “To Pray for Perpetual Violence” that they tend to have a very subtle progressive edge to them whereas “Meditating Through Illusion” comes across as a very straight-forward style of black metal. How far do you see yourself in taking  your music and progressing with it while still keeping it pretty unorthodox and raw?Well first off thank you for taking your time to listen to those demos… I would love to push True Love into many types of song writings and arrangements and I suppose as I progress as a musician I’ll do what I can with what skill I do or do not have… but for me the stranger or more abrasive the better.

     

  14. How has the reaction been so far as far as your music goes and in such short of a time? I know Cvltnation.com covering your releases must have added to the online traffic and attention. 

    Yes Cvltnation has absolutely helped me get my music heard, as for reaction I really don’t know you know…being that I don’t play live and not too many people know who I am it’s kind of mysterious… there’s so much music being pushed out daily that I’m just happy someone somewhere has listened at all to my music, but I started out just recording these songs and not even telling anyone for the first year and a half…it was just a means of an outlet so I’ll continue to kind of do this for my own psyche and if anyone cares that’s great. 

  15. Are there any other artists that you would like to collaborate with in the future as far as splits go? Are there any other current artists that you give praise to and would like to urge the listener to go out and seek?
    Dude there are tons of bands I’d love to work with on a split release, very happy to have this
    Whitewurm split coming out, got a release with Hag Graef from Florida coming next and I recorded a set of songs for a split with a band from the U.K. Called Thy Dying Light last year that will hopefully see a release sometime this year… and as for current artists I would encourage people to right now go out there and buy the first thing you see at your record store that you’ve either never heard of that simply looks cool or check out a band you’ve been hearing other people freak out about or go back and try to listen to every release you can from Sabbath to now… that’s what I’m doing anyway… there’s so much fucking music out there, I want to completely drown myself in it. I’m obsessed. And I love hearing new bands and I freak out when I finally get around to checking out older bands that I’ve heard of for years and they blow my mind…. right now I’m really into Whoredome Rife from Norway and Tod Huetet Uebel from Portugal and Necropole, Curved Blade, Ordinance… I could go on and on… I feel like North America is doing really strongly right now too. 
  16. Are there any plans yet for a full length yet? 

    Oh yes, there are some things to get out of me first but my mind is set on it. 

  17. What else do you have in store for those that listen to your music? 

    Much more hallucinations. 

  18. If you had one word to describe the future of True Love, what would it be?
    Haunted.
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Full Of Hell has a heart like a graveyard on “Trumpeting Ecstasy.”

If anything one should expecting from the new Full Of Hell album “Trumpeting Ecstasy,” just take a look at the front cover: as blasphemous and unholy abomination of Death/Grind/Noise/etc all put through the Hardcore aesthetic of not giving a single fuck about the listener and throwing them into a world of absolute chaos.

Full-of-Hell-2017.jpgOut of the coal mines and straight into the fiery furnace

The new Full Of Hell has been one of those top anticipated albums of 2017 off the Profound Lore Records roster and for good reason; they are a band that have been making enough noise(that’s not a pun) and doing their own D.I.Y. tours and putting out splits and collaborations with artists such as The Body, Merzbow, Nails, and forging their own unorthodox path while turning heads onto their own brand of controlled chaos. And the great thing about their specific brand is that there is something for everyone of every particular sub-culture be it the doom-laden tortoise-like crawl of  “Gnawed Flesh,” the 2-step up-beat(!) mosh of “Ashen Mesh,” the eerily gothic female vocals of the title track, the subtle black metal-esque tremolo riffing of “The Burning Of Yew,” and even some noodling melodies that would remind someone of last year’s Blood Incantation album “Starspawn” in the song “The Cosmic Vein.” Where as that album was an advancement in galaxies and the the unknown ancient ass-end of the universe, Full Of Hell is the the simple and cataclysmic fiery raining down of asteroids leaving uninhabited planets completely black and blue.

0009666121_10 “I am here to defy God.”

Building up to the release of this highly-anticipated album, the first two singles off the album was extremely well-executed on Profound Lore Records. That’s something that I feel is extremely important for not just the band themselves but the label in order to promote an upcoming product/vision from the artist themselves. The first single/preview track was the opening “Deluminate” was a good shock to the system that helped knock some of the rust off, “the second single/preview track from Profound Lore Records aptly and bitterly-titled “Crawling Back To God“(Possibly song title of the year for me, so fucking unholy!) with guest vocals by Aaron Turner of Isis fame, which just bleeds and fucking oozes the old-school Swedish death metal vibe that ends in the collective artists screaming in acid-drenched vocals “ON BENT KNEES, CRAWLING BACK TO GOD!” Previous excellent examples for my personally would be bands like Celtic Frost(Monotheist-era), Nails, Paradise Lost, Leviathan(another Profound Lore Records artist), A.M.S.G., and a couple others so having Full Of Hell do this same pattern that CORRECTLY hyped me the fuck up and the entire album being better expected, “Trumpeting Ecstasy” for me is what Code Orange‘s “Forever” SHOULD have been as far as a better executed in the mixture of metal/hardcore/noise/electronics department….don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking shit because I appreciate Code Orange as well and did enjoy some songs off that album, but let’s cut the bullshit here; “Forever” by Code Orange was – and I know I am not the only person who felt this – hype as fuck. Full Of Hell is the real deal Holyfield son. And if you’re not falling down further into the abyss by the time “At The Cauldron’s Bottom” kicks in for a womppin’ six minutes and twenty three seconds and huffing some good drugs provided to you by some cackling witch stewing her brew and making you hallucinate.

This is one album you’ll be dying to get into. Case closed.

Full Of Hell‘s “Trumpeting Ecstasy” is out now on Profound Lore Records. You can listen to it here on Bandcamp and follow the band at their official FB page. But seriously…just buy the damn album.

Enter Conqbine’s world of violence and prepare to fucking die.

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“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here…”

And that’s all there is to Delaware’s trio of crusty/post-black metal sounds of general misery and nastiness. I mean, I could go into detail and all the gory bits about just how downright disgusting Conqbine is? I’m sure you’re reading this JUST to be told to fucking die? Right? Ok, ok, I’ll get on with these rather misanthropic jamz that would make Mike Williams of Eyehategod cult it up by donning an Appalachian Noise Records t-shirt.

Conqbine (for the most part) seriously do not care about you as the listener.  They want you to feel all the pain and suffering…their particular pain and suffering and they want you to suffer in anguish with them. There’s nothing fake or weird about that. I personally can’t think of a single artist that have completely made me a fan of them without massacring my mind and shattering my sanity along with it, therefore sending me into a padded room via-H.P. Lovecraft style. And this is the kind of music that unflinchingly doesn’t care to do the same again even after I’ve successfully completed my last inpatient therapy/treatment. With only two demos under their belt, Conqbine is a confirmed convicted felon that is ready to batter and assault the senses to send me and the listener back to therapy for possible PTSD flashbacks.

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2015’s “Let Them Die” EP

Starting with their 2015 “Let Them Die” E.P., this is the heavyweight bruiser of the deadly duo of releases from Conqbine. 5 really professionally-mixed songs of out-right misanthropy. It’s not squeaky clean-sounding but it is beefy and audible enough to know that these guys are serious in their strong mixture of Crusty-Post-Black Metal. Imagine the likes of Tragedy, Krieg, with the bitterness of Thou and the effects of Neurosis and you wouldn’t be too far off from pinpointing the the lethal dosage of Conqbine’s sound even though they aren’t their direct influences(at least to my best guessing). With lyrics such as “If I were a god, I would kill you all,” off the song “Bastard” vocalist Erick Baker remind you of your insignificant existence and would swallow your fucking soul if he could. The song “Jettisoned” slows it it down to a funeral-like dirge but stays on the droning/chugging side rather than go at it and try to be another lame Sleep-worship clone that is currently clogging up the underground these days.

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2015’s schizoid nightmare “Into A Void Ever flowing” EP

Into A Void Ever flowing” EP is where the blackness just oozes right thru the fucking speakers. This is where the beefy and “good production” of the first demo goes right out the fucking window and now we are getting down to what sounds like a straight-up well-produced lo-fi black metal demo. Again, it’s the same band but the first song “The Spine Of A Giant” is nothing short of what one could possibly find off Xasthur’s “The Funeral Of Being” or possibly “Telepathic With The Deceased” LPs. There’s a weird vocal effect on Eric Baker’s that is present on this digital-only-available demo that gives this particular showcase of fucked-up blackened jamz a serious Thorns(Norway) vibe as well. And the second song “Personal Non Grata” it’s seriously enhanced and gives the music a massively schizoid quality and rather detached feeling from reality itself.  “An Hourglass Vacant” is a look into the CPU brain of a robot with Alzheimer’s. Total and complete breakdown of an electronic brain into absolute dementia.

Conqubine just recently announced that they are going to re-release both of these EP on a compilation LP in the form of limited edition cassette tape via Appalachian Noise Records and are currently planning on putting out their first full length album. You can expect me to review it and be the first to read about it here first. In the meantime, pull out your debit cards and get on this band. It’s completely worth all the mental suffering that you will endure.

You can listen to both EPs at their official bandcamp page, and follow Conqbine on their official Facebook page. Also you can order their compilation cassette tape here.