Review of Sowing The Seeds Of A Worthless Tomorrow by Wake

Band: Wake
Album: Sowing the Seeds of a Worthless Tomorrow
Release Date: 26 February 2016
Record Label: Sentient Ruin Laboratories
Buy as CD ($8) or cassette ($7) or digital ($5) from: Bandcamp
Buy on vinyl (€13) from: Bandcamp

Cover of Sowing the Seeds of a Worthless Tomorrow by Wake

As 2016 comes to a close you’ve probably seen countless end of year lists of albums, often listing many of the same popular releases. We don’t like ranking music here at DCHM (our album reviews aren’t given a score for this reason as well) so at the end of the year I always give my album review writers the chance to pick an album of their choice from the year that they feel deserves more attention than it received. It doesn’t have to be a local band, and in fact this year they have both chosen bands from outside the US. DCHM reviewer Buzzo Jr. chose to review the latest release by Calgary based Wake. Be sure to stream the tracks at the end of the post to give it a listen while you read and be sure to check out Tal’s review of Chinese black metal band Demogorgon’s debut here if you haven’t already.

2016 has been another great year for heavy underground music, and like the previous year, there are a good amount of hidden gems that went unheard by a majority of people. One of the many records I saw missing from far too many album of the year lists was Wake’s Sowing the Seeds of a Worthless Tomorrow. Formed in Alberta, Canada, in 2009, the band’s third full length album is a furious onslaught of grindcore mixed with crust punk, sludge, and black metal.

The album’s opening track “Burn Well” begins with a short, yet foreboding ambient style intro that soon erupts into a full on assault of blast beats and frenzied riffage. The opening track soon fades into silence, but the chaos almost immediately resumes with “Wretched Tongues;” a track that comes rushing out at top speed and then slows down in the middle section for a heavy sludge style breakdown. Kyle Ball (also of Canadian tech death band Kataplexis) showcases his insane vocals on this track in particular; punctuating the breaks in the instrumentation with ear piercing shrieks and gut churning growls. “Wretched Tongues” picks up the tempo once again near the end and terminates with a droning, industrial style outro. The album continues on with “Drones” and my personal favorite track “Better Living Through Apathy.” These third and fourth tracks are rife with dissonant black metal style guitar passages that flow brilliantly with Brian Serzynski frantic d-beat style drumming; creating a fantastic fusion of the band’s influences.

The second half of the record is kicked off by “Low,” and at over three and a half minutes, it’s certainly an epic in the context of a genre with songs barely averaging two minutes in length. It opens with a clean guitar melody that lasts just long enough to lull the listener into a false sense of security, only to explode once more into a barrage of sludge tinged riffs and hyper-speed blast beats. The usage of violent vocal overlays on this track makes it a definite standout and creates an atmosphere of total pandemonium. As one may have already guessed from the album’s title, this is a nihilistic album; both in sound and in message. “Unrelenting Hate” sums up the misanthropic tone of the album perfectly during the song’s breakdown; “We don’t deserve this, we are all hypocrites, we are all arrogant, we are all worthless. We are all scum.” No artsy metaphors, no beating around the bush. Wake’s message is plain and simple: humanity sucks. The album soon comes to a close with the final two tracks. “Vultures” is definitely the fastest track on here, zooming through with hardly any changes in speed and before the listener knows what hit them, it’s already flowed seamlessly into the final track of the album, “Endless Decay.” The final track starts off with a dark vocal sample accompanied by slow, heavy riffs and tribal drum beats. The band once more goes into full on overdrive at the halfway point, putting everything they have left into the final minute before the album comes to a final, screeching halt.

Finally, the production on the album also deserves a mention. Recorded and engineered by Joel Grind of Toxic Holocaust fame, the production manages to land right at that perfect spot in between raw and overly polished. Rob Lachance and Arjun Gill’s guitar tones are phenomenal, being both grime-ridden and filthy while also being perfectly clear. This goes for the vocals as well, with Kyle’s screams being extremely harsh while still having a large amount of clarity to them. A large amount of grindcore acts tend to go all the way to one side or the other when choosing between super raw or super polished album prosecution, so it’s great to see a band that manages to find a good compromise between the two. The main, and possibly only gripe I can manage to think of concerning this record is that it’s relatively short running time of 20 minutes will definitely leave you wanting more. But apart from that, there isn’t a bad song on here and it’s an album practically begging for multiple listenings in one sitting.

Wake’s Sowing the Seeds of a Worthless Tomorrow is a furious vortex of crust soaked grindcore, and is an absolute must have for fans of the genre. Happy New Year to everyone, and once again, here’s to 2017 being yet another year of great music!

Burn Well:

Better Living Through Apathy:

Review of Dunsmuir by Dunsmuir

Band: Dunsmuir
Album: Dunsmuir
Release Date: 22 July 2016
Record Label: Hall Of Records
Buy on vinyl with signed lithograph ($24) from: Indie Merch
Buy as mp3 ($8.99) from: Bandcamp or iTunes

Cover of s/t by Dunsmuir

Dunsmuir is releasing their debut album this Friday. While the band’s talented line up has been getting a lot of attention, Dunsmuir stands up strong on its own merits. The concept album is a great launching point for the band. We lucked into getting an advance copy of the full album and I got DCHM writer Buzzo Jr to write the following review. Be sure to stream a couple tunes at the bottom of the post while you read it.

Dunsmuir is a newly formed heavy metal band whose self titled debut will be landing this week. While not an entirely local act, Neil Fallon, the frontman of Maryland’s own Clutch, is teaming up with legendary drummer Vinny Appice, formerly of Black Sabbath and Dio. Rounding out the lineup is Brad Davis of the desert rock band Fu Manchu on bass and Dave Bone of The Company Band on guitar. Having been in the works since 2013, Dunsmuir’s self titled debut is an ode to classic heavy metal, along with being a concept album about the fates of the survivors of a 19th century shipwreck.

Upon the first few notes of the album’s opening track, “Hung On the Rocks,” listeners can tell that they’re in for one hell of a good time. The main thing one will take note of here is that the tunes on this record are filled with a much more of traditional metal influence than vocalist Neil Fallon’s other outings like Clutch or the Company Band; both of which feature a heavy blues/punk/stoner rock vibe to them. This is by no means a negative however, as it’s always a pleasure to hear Neil’s amazing vocals regardless of the music around it. Vinny Appice’s drumming is the main star of the following track “Our Only Master,” with his hard hitting beats driving the head banging grooves onward, and at some points hearkening back to his tenure in the Dio era of Black Sabbath. The band’s traditional heavy metal influence becomes even more prevalent in my personal favorite track on the album, “The Bats are Hungry Tonight;” a grooving track that has guitarist Dave Bone playing Iron Maiden-esque galloping riffs and driving melodies backed up by Neil’s powerful voice. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Neil’s vocals, (as mentioned in my review of Clutch’s previous album, Psychic Warfare) and his instantly recognizable bellows are in part what gives Dunsmuir, and any other band he works with, a unique element that sets them apart from other rock and metal bands. The fast galloping pace of “The Bats are Hungry Tonight” soon give way to the slower “What Matter of Bliss,” a track oozing with doomy riffage and Black Sabbath worship. The slow eerie riffs soon speed up once again on “Deceiver;” a track that combines a great amount of Judas Priest inspired metallic riffs and an infectious chorus.

The grooves keep on coming with the tracks “…And Madness” and “Orb of Empire.” Neil delivers his trademark bluesy shouts and ruff barks alongside Vinny’s bombastic drumming and Dave Bone’s fuzz drenched riffs. The tempo comes slowing down once more for the album’s longest track, “Church of the Tooth.” Dave plays at a crawling pace, interspersing the dark atmosphere of the track with melodic guitar licks and is backed up perfectly by Brad Davis’s bass lines. The penultimate track “The Gate” is a great mid paced track full of hard rocking rhythms. The album comes to an end with “Crawling Chaos!,” which is by far the most sinister sounding track on the album. Neil finds himself switching between his usual melodic croons to an angry growl; all the while telling tales of Lovecraftian deities from another dimension. Lyrics such as “They rise from the desert, from the mountains, and waves, to swallow the sun, cast down their chains, they open their mouths and fill up their lungs, speak the unspeakable, with their terrible tongues” evoke a sense of mystery and wonder, as Neil’s cryptic lyricism often does. Neil’s shouts combine excellently with the bombastic drumming and the grooving riffs, bringing the album to a slow and steady close.

While it’s relatively short run time of 35 minutes may leave you wanting more, Dunsmuir’s debut album is not one you want to miss. Those of you who are fans of Clutch and Dio era Black Sabbath will love this record although they may miss Dio’s signature wails. Here’s hoping that a tour is in the works soon, because I’d love to hear these tracks played in a live setting.

The Bats Are Hungry Tonight:

Crawling Chaos!:

Review of Desolate by Musket Hawk

Band: Musket Hawk
Album: Desolate
Release Date: 6 May 2016
Record Label: Unholy Anarchy Records
Buy on CD ($9.99) from: Unholy Anarchy
Buy as mp3 ($9.99) from: iTunes

Desolate by Musket Hawk

Baltimore’s Musket Hawk put out a a full length in May titled Desolate, despite the quite vibrant colors in cover art. DCHM reviewer Buzzo Jr spent some time with the album and wrote the following review of it. Be sure to stream a few songs at the end of the post as well!

Baltimore’s own sludge/grind trio Musket Hawk are back with Desolate; their second full length album since their self released debut, The Form of Disgust, from three years prior. On their newest release, the dudes in Musket Hawk go full throttle with an intense mixture of sludge, grindcore, and stoner metal.

Sludge and grindcore are two of my favorite subgenres of metal, so it’s always great when more bands successfully merge the two together. Musket Hawk’s Desolate is a perfect example of this fusion of genres done right. The album starts off at a speedy pace with the first two tracks “Pollute Your Throat” and “Reluctant Punk;” both filled with fast, heavy riffs and rapid blast beats interspersed with slower sludge based sections. The next two tracks “Jeweler” and “The Grove” are more mid paced tracks, with “Jeweler” being centered around a grooving breakdown while “The Grove” opens up with a great deal of black metal influence in its riffing structure. Marty Spiro’s guitar work on here is superb, laying down thick riffs that intertwine with Gary Fry’s fuzzy basslines. One of the standout elements of this album are the dual vocals of Gary and Marty; interchanging between deep low gutturals and sharp high pitched screeches. While more grind oriented in nature, the vocals also lend themselves to the more sludge based sections of the albums as well. At times they almost sounded like the frantic cries of a wounded animal; perfectly adding to the grimy atmosphere that the riffs already provide.

While the first four tracks on the album were much more crusty and murky, the second half of Desolate begins to flirt a bit more with melody and stoner rock influences. The B-side begins with “Connois Sewer,” a track that opens with some melodic guitar lines before exploding back into the heavy riffs of previous tracks, although a good deal of melodic undertone is layered into the remainder of the song. “Space Ray Houska” soon comes up next, a track that showcases some post rock elements at its mid way point. Jason Goodman’s drumming on this track is great, transitioning between mid paced d-beats, to slow primal thuds, to all out blast beats. While the drumming is great from a technical standpoint, they did seem to sound a tad wooden when it came to the bass pedal’s sound, but other than that I can’t find any issue with them. My favorite track on Desolate is the seventh track, “Tweed After Dark;” another faster paced track that has an epic melodic line coursing through the song along with the pummeling riffs, giving it an almost Iron Maiden meets High On Fire type vibe. The album comes to a close with the six minute “Candidate For a Knife”; a massive slab of sludgy riffage that goes from a slow doomy dirge, to hyperspeed grind and back again.

Musket Hawk’s newest album is a brilliant fusion of some of the most abrasive genres in modern metal, and at the same time is an album that has a great deal of amazing melody at its forefront. Definitely give this album a listen if you are a fan of grimey, dark sludge and grindcore, and be sure to catch Musket Hawk on the 22nd of July when they play with the legendary Belgian band Agathocles at the Windup Space in Baltimore (details here).

Tweed After Dark:

Space-Ray Houska:

Review of Dominion Of Darkness by Hellbringer

Band: Hellbringer
Album: Dominion Of Darkness
Release Date: 28 September 2012
Record Label: High Roller Records
Performing at Maryland Deathfest XIV: 9:50 Sunday at Edison Lot B

Dominion Of Darkness by Hellbringer

Welcome to the start of our Maryland Deathfest XIV coverage! Usually we only review releases by local bands on DCHM but there are some exceptions, and MDF is one of them. Every year I ask my album reviewers to pick a lesser known band on the Deathfest bill and review their latest album (even if it’s a few years old) in the hopes of getting people to check out one of the great bands on Deathfest that isn’t as well known as the headliners. DCHM writer Buzzo Jr. picked the band Hellbringer, the first band playing on Saturday at the Edison lot. Be sure to give a listen to the songs at the end of this post too.

Hellbringer is a thrash/speed metal band that was formed in Canberra, Australia. The three piece was originally founded in 2007 under the name Forgery by bassist/vocalist Luke Bennett and his brother Josh, who is the drummer, along with Tim Sheppard on guitar. In 2010, following the release of their EP, Tim was replaced by James Lewis and the band changed their name to Hellbringer. The trio soon released their debut full length Dominion of Darkness on High Roller Records in 2012, and will now be playing some of their first ever shows in the United States on their Darkness Over North America Tour; the final show being their first ever appearance at Maryland Deathfest. Hellbringer will be the first band to take the stage on Saturday, playing the B stage at the Edison lot at 12:15 PM.

The mid 2000’s saw an influx in newer thrash metal bands attempting to revitalize the genre that had previously lost most of its mainstream appeal in the 90’s. Modern thrash bands like Havok and Violator were a dime a dozen, but a large amount of these bands suffered from the fact that they all sounded like a 2000’s era band attempting to play Exodus or Megadeth riffs with much cleaner production. This is not the case with Hellbringer’s Dominion of Darkness. This record doesn’t simply sound like a few guys trying to emulate old school thrash metal; no, this is music that if you heard today you would swear it was recorded at the tail end of 1984. A large amount of the bands that emerged in the modern thrash revival mostly relied on emulating the party-thrash style of the classic crossover thrash bands like DRI and Cryptic Slaughter, or the more aggressive and serious sounding social commentary of Megadeth and Metallica. While there are a few exceptions, there are very few modern thrash bands that are able to sound truly evil. Taking an indisputable amount of influence from Slayer’s Hell Awaits record, Dominion of Darkness accomplishes just that. Luke’s reverb soaked vocals are akin to the cries of a demonic hell-beast. Comparisons to Slayer’s Tom Araya are inevitable, but Luke makes these vocals his own, and they work extremely well alongside the crushing riffs that are delivered from James Lewis. The riffs on this album are absolutely vicious; forming a whirlwind of teutonic, blackened vileness, and creating a hellish atmosphere that brings visions of demons inhabiting an otherworldly realm filled with nothing but pain and fear. The crushing riffs are interspersed with solos that are melodic yet at the same time absolutely chaotic. While not as technically impressive as the guitar and vocal work, the bass guitar and drumming on the album also play their part brilliantly. The grooving bass lines supply additional weight to the main guitar riffs, while the d-beat style drum beats serve to make sure that there is never a sense of empty space in the album; varying the tempo of the fills and double bass when needed. While some listeners may be seeking more technical and progressive thrash metal in the realm of Vektor, I definitely think it’s one of the best thrash albums to come out it a long time.

If you’re a fan of old school satanic thrash metal, then give this record a listen as well as heading to the Edison lot early on Saturday to catch Hellbringer’s set. These tracks are bound to get everyone’s heads banging from the get go. Hellbringer will also be releasing their second full length record Awakened From The Abyss this August, so make sure to keep an eye out for it!

Sermon Of Death:

Demon’s Blood:

Hellbringer live:

Review of Awake by Lord

Band: Lord
Album: Awake
Release Date: 18 March 2016
Record Label: heavy Hound Records
Buy on CD ($9.99) or digital ($7) from: Bandcamp

Awake by Lord

Lord is a local band that I’ve been a fan of for some time here at DCHM so I’ve been excited we’re finally getting more songs from them. The following review is from DCHM writer Buzzo Jr who certainly has his opinions about the release. Be sure to give the songs a listen at the bottom of this post.

The Fredericksburg, Virginia, based stoner/sludge outfit Lord returns with their newest full length album Awake, following up their sophomore release Chief from 2011. The band has seen a few lineup changes in the past five years; with drummer Steven “Sven” Sullivan being replaced by Kevin Marimow, and Helena Goldberg (also of Virginia stoner/sludge band Akris) handing bass duties over to Chris Dugay. Lord’s third full length outing has them sticking with the familiar southern sludge they’ve been known for.

In a good amount of cases, an album’s production can be the key element that will make or break the listening experience. Lord’s newest full length is unfortunately a prime example of the latter. Awake has all the elements necessary to make a great sounding stoner/sludge album, but all of those elements are muddled by the album’s overall audio production. The first thing I noticed about the production was how raw it was. Now, raw production can work very well for sludge metal in some cases. Bands like New Orleans’ Eyehategod and England’s Iron Monkey utilize raw production to accentuate the harsh and nihilistic feel of their music. But with sludge bands like Lord who incorporate more melodic and psychedelic elements into their sound, an extremely raw production on the album will negate any of the effect they may have been going for. The guitar and the bass are the first two casualties of this. The riffs on all of the tracks lack a great deal of the punch that they had on Lord’s first two albums which is disappointing seeing as they had the potential to be absolutely crushing if not for the way the mix drowns them out, and the bass lines are almost inaudible for a majority of the running time. The guitar solos also take a hit; with all of the melody and feeling of them sapped away by how muddy the end result is. The drumming suffers from similar issues, with the pounding drumbeats we heard on their first two albums being replaced by a heavily muffled sound that really takes away from the overall experience. It’s definitely not as bad as Lars Ulrich’s tin can monstrosity from Metallica’s St. Anger album, but it’s definitely not the best I’ve heard from Lord.

The element that is most negatively affected by the raw production are Steven Kerchner’s vocals. The vocals on Awake alternate from multi layered mid ranged howls, low grunts, and high pitched screams. A glaring difference from the previous album Chief is the lack of the clean and melodic vocals that former member Helena Goldberg supplied; giving a contrast to Kerchner’s harsher vocal styles. The variety of Kerchner’s vocal deliveries is unable to overcome the fact that for most of the time the vocals on the album are drowned out by the other instruments and the raw haze that the production puts on the record. Out of all the vocal styles that Steven alternated between, his high pitched scream is actually the one that ends up sounding the best, due to it being the one that was able to cut through the rest of the instruments and become fairly audible in comparison. The one track on this album that did stand out to me however was “The Great Communicator;” an all acoustic track that showcases a great deal of southern influence in the guitar playing, along with a great vocal performance that sounds much better than on any of the other tracks, mostly due to the fact that there are fewer elements in the song, thus allowing the echoing vocals to create a hazy atmosphere that resonates along with the bluesy strumming of the acoustic guitar. “The Great Communicator” is a standout example of the potential the rest of Awake had, and hopefully they can learn from this and release a much better record next time around. However, I am very interested in seeing these songs performed live, as it’s likely that they will translate far better in a live setting. I’m sure “The Great Communicator” will be a great track to bust out at the midway point in the live show to bring in a more mellow tune. [Editor’s Note: Lord will be playing in Fairfax, Virginia, on Saturday, May 14th. Details here.]

Third time is unfortunately not the charm for Lord’s newest release, and if you are looking to get into them I would recommend that you start off with their Chief album instead (get it here). Here’s to hoping that Lord go back to the great production of their second album and give us a quality fourth release in the future.

Review of Arc by Agoraphobic Nosebleed

Band: Agoraphobic Nosebleed
Album: Arc
Release Date: 22 January 2016
Record Label: Relapse Records
Buy on CD ($11) or digital ($6) or vinyl ($19) from: Bandcamp

Arc by Agoraphobic Nosebleed

Locals Agoraphobic Nosebleed have been very active lately. They recently started performing their first live shows at various festivals around the world (including their first ever live performance at last year’s Maryland Deathfest). Now they’re working on putting out a series of EPs that each feature a different band member’s musical tastes. When I heard the first of these was going to be a slower, more sludgey album I knew that DCHM writer Buzzo Jr would be perfect to review it since he is a fan of both grind and sludge metal. What follows is his take on the first studio recording of this new era for Agoraphobic Nosebleed. And don’t forget to stream a track from it at the end of this post!

Grindcore legends Agoraphobic Nosebleed have been delivering hyperspeed audio assaults fueled by manic riffs and machine gun tempo drum machines since the early 90’s. The band have since experimented with harsh noise, power electronics, and crossover thrash. Their experimentation continues with Arc, the first in the series of EPs the band is releasing that will each have a separate style representing a different member’s musical taste. Driven by vocalist Kat Katz, Arc is definitely a major departure from the ultra fast grind/crossover style Agoraphobic Nosebleed is infamous for, and instead is a slow, heavy, 3 song slab of sludge metal. If this was your first time listening to them, I’m pretty sure you would be quite surprised to learn that this is the same band that released Altered States of America; a frantic 100 song EP clocking in at only 20 minutes.

Arc gets the ball rolling with “Not a Daughter,” a relentlessly groovy track that at some points sounds almost upbeat with its swaying, southern feel. I don’t think anyone has ever dared to use the term “catchy” to describe an Agoraphobic Nosebleed song, but I’ll be damned if I can find a better description for the bluesy, pulsating riffs that guitarist Scott Hull unleashes here. Hull, also of local grindcore band Pig Destroyer, has flirted with slower, doomy material in the past on some Agoraphobic Nosebleed tracks and with Pig Destroyer’s Mass & Volume EP, but on this album it seems as if he’s actually been in at least 3 secret sludge bands. The riffs here are something I would expect from seasoned sludge veterans like Jimmy Bower of Eyehategod or Buzz Osbourne of the Melvins. The mid paced grooves of “Not a Daughter” soon give way to the next track, “Deathbed.” Any sense of slight optimism that may have been heard in the first track are now all but gone, with the pace coming to a slow dirge that creeps along with a spiteful sonic intensity. Agoraphobic Nosebleed has always been instantly recognizable for their use of incredibly fast drum machine blast beats, giving their early releases an almost machine like feel to them. Scott Hull’s programming skills have vastly improved throughout the years however, and on Arc the pounding drumbeats feel completely organic; at times I almost completely forgot that Agoraphobic Nosebleed didn’t have a drummer. The methodical pace of the drums on this album show that Hull definitely knows what he’s doing. Hull also handles the basswork on all of the tracks, and while not as exceptional as his guitar work, the flowing basslines on all of the tracks provide a great backbone to the rest of the music. The EP soon comes to a close with “Gnaw”, a mammothly crushing track filled to the brim with slow, sinister riffs and tormented screams. Vocalist Kat Katz is front and center on this album, with her howling screams and low growls echoing along with Scott Hull’s brilliant guitar and drum work. Kat is no stranger to doom and sludge, as many will remember her amazing vocals from her time in local doom band Salome. While not exactly a replication of past work, it’s great to hear Kat’s amazing vocals alongside slower material once again. Apart from the major change in tempo and number of songs, another huge change that listeners will notice about Arc is the subject matter of the tracks. You won’t find any songs like “Dick to Mouth Resuscitation” or “Druggernaut Jug Fuck” on here. The morbid comedy of past Agoraphobic Nosebleed tracks are instead replaced with much more personal tone. The lyrics on Arc are all written by Kat Katz, and revolve around her dealing with the death of her mother who suffered from schizophrenia. The intense personal meaning in the songs gives even more weight to them; with the emotional severity adding to the bleak tone the album already conveys.

The band is planning to release the rest of the EPs later this year, and I’m pretty psyched to hear how they differ from this and all of the previous Agoraphobic releases. Those of you who were expecting just another hyperspeed offering of grindcore may be disappointed, but if you’re open to a band experimenting with vastly different musical influences, and are a fan of slow, Black Sabbath worshipping tunes, then this is for you. Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s Arc is a major departure from the sound we know them for, but it’s proof that experimentation can bring forth great results. For those still sad about Salome breaking up (myself included) this is a great way to appease your need for more local sludge driven by Kat’s peircing howls. Definitely give this album a listen and don’t miss Agoraphobic Nosebleed when they play their first ever local headline show at the Black Cat in May!

Review of The Insolent by Antigama

Band: Antigama
Album: The Insolent
Release Date: 7 May 2015
Record Label: Selfmadegod Records
Buy CD ($10) or digital ($8) or vinyl ($15) or cassette tape ($8) from: Bandcamp

The Insolent by Antigama

At the end of every year I like to give my album review writers the chance to write about not their favorite album of the year but the one they think was most overlooked and deserving of more attention. The albums don’t have to be from the local scene like most of the reviews on DCHM and the choice is totally up to them. Today is Buzzo Jr’s turn and, well, I’ll let his words do the talking from here.

There was a ton of awesome heavy music that was released this year, but an unfortunate amount of it went rather unnoticed by most people. One of those releases that I felt wasn’t given enough praise this year was The Insolent. The Insolent is the newest full length album from grindcore outfit Antigama; a band that has been delivering punishing tunes ever since the they formed in Warsaw, Poland, at the dawn of the millennium. With their seventh album, Antigama offers up a vicious array of grindcore tracks that that experiment with tempo and technicality.

The Insolent comes roaring straight out of the gate with the one-two punch of the tracks “Reward or Punishment” and “Foul Play,” both of which consist of blisteringly fast blast beats and energetic guitar riffs. Keeping within standard grindcore conventions, these first two tracks are very short; with neither of them breaking the two minute mark. Those who think that they are in for just another standard grindcore album are in for a surprise however, as they will soon realize that as the album progresses, the tracks get longer and more and more experimental. The next two tracks “Data Overload” and “Used To” bring the tempo of the album down slightly with distorted, industrial sounding grooves that are interspersed with sections of the familiar break neck speed found at the start of the record. Some grindcore bands often treat the bass guitar as a secondary instrument or shirks it in the production entirely making it all but inaudible and placing more emphasis to the lead guitar. This isn’t the case on this album however; Sebastian Kucharski’s bass is nice and audible, giving off a strong metallic twang. The flow of the album changes up again with “Randomize the Algorithm”; one of the more technical tracks on the album. The track opens with a brief audio sample from the 1995 supernatural horror film The Prophecy, (a pretty bad film in my not so humble opinion) and soon erupts into a barrage of start/stop riffage, dynamic bass lines, and tortured vocals roaring over it all. Sebastian Rockicki shows off his proficient guitar skills on this track especially; fusing traditional grindcore structures with more complex patterns to create a harsh, atonal sound that seems to take influence from the industrial sounds of Godflesh and the multi-layered, dissonant tunes found in GorgutsObscura album. The title track that soon follows is also jam packed with varying time signatures and corkscrewing riffs. The drumming on The Insolent is fantastic, and the title track provides the best example of Paweł Jaroszewicz’s incredible versatility on the drum kit. In the span of only two minutes, he transitions from hyperspeed blast beats to jazzy, polyrhythmic drum fills; meshing perfectly with the bass and guitar barrage provided by the two Sebastians.

The second half of The Insolent starts with the track “Sentenced to the Void,” a mid paced stomper filled with crunching grooves and thunderous vocals. Lukasz Myszkowski is a force of nature on this track, delivering cataclysmic roars that are soaked in distortion and vocal effects. The experimentation on the record comes out again in “Out Beyond”; a spacey track that makes good use of electronic effects to create an otherworldly atmosphere. The track is almost completely instrumental but for the last few seconds when the sample of a countdown to a launch is heard, perfectly leading into the track “Eraser”; another hyperfast display of technical riffs and vocal terror that slows again near the end to segue into the final track; “The Land of Monotony.” At over seven minutes long, this track is a slow, crushing slab of sludgy riffs and pounding drums. It provides a stark contrast to the balls to the wall speed of the majority of the album, giving a terminal sense of finality. The track at some points seems to be ticking down to its very last moments before coming to a void-like silence after the last echoes of Lukasz’s vocals fade away. There isn’t a single bad track on this album, although people who are looking for a more straightforward grindcore album may be put off by the slower, longer tracks near the end. That being said, if you were ever wondering what it would sound like if you took the spacey experimental style of Voivod and merged it with the balls out fury of Pig Destroyer, look no further than right here.

The Insolent is one of the best releases of 2015; grindcore or otherwise. If you consider yourself a fan of grindcore and experimental music, then give this album a spin and make sure to catch Antigama live if you ever have the opportunity, because I can say from first hand experience that they always put on one hell of a show. Here’s to another year of great underground music!