Embracing the Descent: March 31 – April 6, 2019

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Welcome back to another edition of Embracing the Descent and another opportunity to catch some nuggets of this week’s incoming metal. If it’s your first visit, we briefly discuss a handful of the current week’s new releases that stood out for whatever reason and maybe a week behind but who’s counting. We won’t be hitting everything because no one wants to read a 40 – 60 entry piece and who’s got that kind of time anyway. Without further ado, let’s jump in and don’t forget to check out the full listing from Monday’s Initial Descent. Before you go, leave us a comment if you have thoughts or gripes.

Totaled - Lament

I’m backtracking a week to a release that somehow flew under the radar but needs the spotlight. Blackened Hardcore is Totaled’s tag du jour and yes there is the zing of black metal around Lament’s razor sharp riffs but crust, hardcore and d-beat, as in beat your teeth in, are the backbone and it’s a heaving mass of lightless violence. Angst, depression, loneliness, hopelessness and darkness are some of the things encountered along the way but it’s a sweet pill to ingest for those that dig pain and the experience found therein. There is respite however, the heaven pointing solos in “As Below” and the short gasp of air on “Ominous” or even the sweet embrace of “Bereft” speak to a band with more up their sleeve than just total obliteration. And maybe we’ll see more of that on the next one but for now it’s mostly just knife hits from “Eclipsed” and ice pick tickles from “Transience.” Buckle up buttercup, this ride will get bumpy but I assure you, it’s well worth the time invested.

Pharlee - Pharlee

On a completely different wavelength is California’s Pharlee who bring plenty of sun and jam and blues on their debut Pharlee. Driven by psychedelic riffs and the sultry but powerful blues vibe of vocalist Macarena Rivera the band channels Big Brother and the Holding Company, Deep Purple and even Blue Cheer to a degree as they blaze their way through “Creeping” and drop an acid trip on “Sunward.” But, it’s the fantastic cover of Freddie King’s “Going Down” that shows the true muscle and muster this band has at its disposal. Listening through this 28 minutes, it’s clear this band was born too late and that’s not a knock in the slightest, it’s a term of endearment that they’re able to tackle all of the acid and haze of yesteryear with such gusto and conviction. Call it born too late or call it luck, Pharlee is a force to be reckoned with either way.

Fordærv - Knep Dig Selv Ihjel

Yet again flipping the script is the punishing grindcore of Knep Dig Selv Ihjel from Denmark’s Fordærv. For those that need RIYL references, look at Full of Hell and Rotten Sound for something close to this pummeling. Take a hard punk aesthetic and mix in well placed HM2 swedeath inspiration and voila, you’ve got Fordærv by the short hairs. 16 songs in 19 minutes that beat on the ears and wreck mental fortitudes is what’s served up here, “Manchester Fireworks” is a percussive bludgeoning while “Klub 27” veers towards punkish powerviolence and “Tordenkatten” revels in its soundcheck to oblivion approach. But, for my money, “Hellige Helvede” is the ‘all in’ definition of what this band is about, methodical in its approach and heavy handed in delivery, it would be just as much at home in a Mad Max film as it would be a horror film. If you’re short on time and in need of a nasty fix, this is the album for you.

West of Hell - Blood of the Infidel

Grab yer favorite beverage and settle in for some thrashy heavy metal good times with West of Hell on their second full length Blood of the Infidel. Anyone familiar with Zimmers Hole will recognize vocalist Chris Valagao and his throaty metal wails but will also recognize the same sort of lead fisted, battering ram of heavy metal with a hard lean towards early Exodus style thrash. Lead single “Chrome Eternal” drips with it while “Dying Tomorrow” yields some serious old school metal chops as does “Hammer and Hand.” For 47 minutes West of Hell pleads their case to just let go of any preconceived notions regarding metal in general and just let the music take over. It’s not new or groundbreaking by any means but it is a shitload of fun if you just give yourself over to a time when metal was all about pure enjoyment in lieu of keeping up with trends or status quo. Make no mistake, it’s not a simple album or simply done but it asks you to let go and let the good times flow. I’m in, what about you?  

hellripper black arts & alchemy

From the frantic opening salvo of “All Hail the Goat” to the iconic Wilhelm Scream that helps cap off “Headless Angel,” Black Arts & Alchemy is a ridiculous amount of fun, but it might just be the angular melody and flashy licks in the opening of the title track that sets this EP in a class of its own among the world of black/thrash bands.  Hellripper have taken everything you know and love from the world of classic speed metal, from the runaway freight train rhythm section to the unhinged vocal antics, and upped the ante with serious guitar chops that twist their vision into something that pushes boundaries in the best way.  OUGH/10, would recommend.

These are but a few we’ve been jamming, what will be in your ears come tomorrow?

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