Phylactery head into full beast mode as they unleash thrashy fire on ‘Necromancy Enthroned’

Metal is the music of great beasts, and I don’t think there is anyone who could deny that. We have Behemoths and Mastodons making music, the devil’s shit is all over this stuff, and any type of overgrown, disgusting giant is easy fodder for fantasy-style lyrics or for colorful album artwork that, if displayed in a store, should stand out.

But what about music that sounds like it was made by beasts? Edmonton death/thrash unit Phylactery has that element covered on their devastating debut record “Necromancy Enthroned.” If I was told that this music was made by four creatures with hooved feet and horns protruding from their skulls, I wouldn’t exactly bat an eye. These 11 songs are punishing and deadly, easily stuff that could be deemed beyond the reach of mortal men and into the world of monsters. Alas, it’s but three guys—vocalist/drummer K.T., guitarist T.G., and bassist J.M.—making this hellacious noise, and their riff-heavy, nasty approach makes these things sometimes feel like it’s all flowing into one bloody stew. It’s easy to lose track over this nearly 35-minute punishment session, as your skull is bounced from wall to floor, like you’re being attacked by Skeletor during one of his more potent assaults. Not that it’s a bad thing.

“Risen Restless Dead” kicks off the madness with charging riffs and menacing growls, as K.T. demands his minions to, “Rise!” Clean playing streams in momentarily before everything fires up again suddenly and then heads toward “Wisdom of Heretics,” where strong guitars and thrash violence meet you and head right for the throat. The vocals sound delivered by a manic goblin out for blood, as the words are spat with venom, as K.T. demands you, “Die!” “Fulminations” has a satisfying, almost nostalgic old school thrash bend to it, as the song speeds ahead, and K.T. howls, “We will devour your name!” The basslines give black eyes, as the track comes to a furious end. “Morbid Existence” pulls no punches, as it’s a fast blast complete with raspy growls and chugging riffs. The assault remains mean and channeled throughout, as K.T. wails, “Die and die again!” to hammer home their ill intent. “King of Ruin” is another blistering attack, where nasty growls rip at the flesh, and guitars stab every vulnerable spot.

“Where I Dwell” has drums rumbling through the gates, guitars chewing muscle, and growls lurking mysteriously under the surface. “Enslaved by the Dawn” is calculated and vicious, as the bass rollicks underneath the din, the growls threaten lives, and a sudden shift change toward the end sends the song into a mad gallop. “Eyes of Fear and Flame” has drums rolling in and clobbering bodies, while the riffs send blinding lightning, and K.T.’s growls sound delivered from a throat lacerated by war cries. Every bit of this is fast and aiming to take your breath from your lungs. “Bubonic Undeath” fades in from the darkness before exploding outright. From there, it’s a death march, as the growls sound like they’re gurgling through blood, and some classic metal flourishes are tacked on for good measure. “Unholy Empire” rips apart, as it’s fast and gnarly, with the vocals unleashing grit. Their thrashing is well meted out, reddening the skin, and some evil-sounding chuckles and a bashing finish add pain and take you into closing cut “Eat of My Disease.” As you can deduce from the title, things are misery inducing and disgusting, as the vocals scrape along and the guitars trudge heavily. “Humankind is made in our image, born just to die!” K.T. growls as the song rounds it way to its mashing finish.

Phylactery’s music is made by monsters for people who want to be terrified of what’s coming out of their speakers. These guys give you exactly that on “Necromancy Enthroned,” an ugly, devastating platter of songs that fly by in an instant but still leave ample bruising. Nothing here is pretty. It’s all blood, puss, and broken bones, just the way thrash and death are meant to be.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Phylacterydeaththrash/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.unspeakableaxerecords.com/purchase/

For more on the label, go here: http://unspeakableaxerecords.com/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Cormorant’s creative juices bleed into fiery, captivating adventure ‘Diaspora’

A few years ago, the universe George Lucas created with “Star Wars” essentially was wrestled away from him and placed in what most hoped would be better hands. Still, it was strange to accept this ongoing story without its primary creative visionary at the helm, and happy as many people were, it wasn’t until we saw the final product on screen that people let loose a sigh of relief.

It’s been five years since Arthur von Nagel left Cormorant, and the band now is on their second release without him in the fold. Honestly, it was weird at first when the group carried on, releasing 2014’s “Earth Diver” to an audience of people who didn’t know what would greet them. The results were pretty good, but now that they have returned with massive “Diaspora,” Cormorant have rounded into the ideal post-von Nagel band. This unit truly is the transformed body created by its members—bassist/vocalist Marcus Luscombe, guitarists Matt Solis and Nick Cohon, and drummer Brennan Kunkel (the latter three also member of Ursa)—and this new effort, a four-track, 61-minute record, is their statement that Cormorant is theirs alone now. The album is challenging and enthralling, and with some epic run times, you’re given no choice but to plug in and take this journey every step of the way with them. This is Cormorant’s true show of force.

“Preserved in Ash” is the 10:41 opener, and it rumbles open, kicking up dust and getting your heart in gear for the long trip ahead. Luscombe’s growls penetrate, while the melodies swell and take you with them, deep into the heat. “Head to the sea, on this volatile path, follow the sun, through the cracks in the ash,” Luscombe calls while the band swings out of a proggy cloud and into power. The guitars feel like they’re wind cracked and burnt, and everything comes to a pummeling end. “Sentinel” runs 15:52, and it fades in from the clouds. The first bit is slurry and hypnotic, but it’s not long until the thing chugs harder, and creaky growls lead into a section of spirited singing. The track goes from tricky to heated to hazy to cold, with guest Jackie Perez Gratz’s (Grayceon, Giant Squid) unmistakable cello work filling in even more texture. The cut goes clean, as Luscombe pleads, “Gods above, forgive me! Let them find their own way and release me to my dreams,” and the song tears apart again. The growls gnaw away, the guitars give off wilting steam, and the track fades away like a memory.

“The Devourer” is the shortest cut at 7:51, and its blasts open with grime and violence. The verses are filthy and delivered with crusty abandon, while the choruses have a huge, glorious feel to them, adding light to the murky dark. The track has its moments where it gets tricky and seems to feed off sci-fi tendencies, while the soloing is powerful before giving way to some serenity. Luscombe pushes his voice into the stratosphere again before the song turns burly again, and its body disintegrates into a pocket of noise. “Migration” is the 26:15 closer, a song that breathes even more life to the record’s multi-panel packaging by essentially telling its story. Spending time with the lyrics alone is enough to compel and get the bloodstream surging, but applying it to the music compounds the experience. Out of mystical winds, the band drives slowly, with Luscombe calling, “Lex Sempronia Agraria, we migrate to find it.” Strong melodies and a sense of traversing the land and finding new prosperity bubble to the surface, while the guitar interplay brings a sense of glory. About halfway through, a feeling of desolation and loneliness arrives, as the music gets spacious and strange, and then the music begins a rapid ascension. The music keeps burning off layers, as the finality comes into focus. As Luscombe wails, “The mission embellished, charged ‘from above,’ the promise of virtue, contrived imperialist lie,” puts a dagger in that hope, and like those dreams, the final moments bleed off and dry in the dirt.

Fully in control of their plotlines, both creatively and from a band perspective, Cormorant deliver a rousing, devastating journey on “Diaspora.” The band has made an aggressive journey of their own from their early years to where they stand now, and they are reaching the height of their creativity. This remains one of the most stimulating bands in all extreme music, and with this album, we are witnessing a galvanized force ready to tear its way forward.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/CormorantMusic/

To buy the album, go here: https://cormorant.bandcamp.com/

Pyrrhon’s maniacal death metal convulsions destroy reality on manic ‘What Passes for Survival’

Over the past decade, death metal has gotten kind of weird in sections. Bands have been taking the brutality and disgusting blends created by the pioneers of the genre and turned it something that seems to have originated in deep space. Perhaps it has infected the entire bloodstream, because as things go on, we get more and more artists twisting the music to obscene levels.

One of the groups that have been in on this run the past several years are Brooklyn-based beasts Pyrrhon, who have done their fair share to shake the body to its core and leave only strange scraps behind. The band has returned with their mind-liquifying third record “What Passes for Survival,” released on Willowtip Records and Throatruiner Records, two places where their challenging art is right at home. The follow-up to 2014’s “The Mother of Virtues,” the band tackles abuse, the soul-grinding workforce, and even ridiculous war bros who go to stupid lengths to prove their truth. Essentially, you get a lot of dark dashed with some light, and holding that all together is some of the most intricate, busy, soul-bruising death metal alive on Earth. The band—vocalist Doug Moore, guitarist Dylan DiLella, bassist Erik Malave, and drummer Steve Schwegler—punish your senses and insert their own warped reality into their art, resulting in one of the strangest death metal records you’re bound to hear.

The record starts with a noise burst before the band chews you up and spits you out on “The Happy Victim’s Creed.” Here, they lambaste the mindless drones in the workforce as growls mix with shrieks, guitars drill into your skull, and the band sets a path to devastation. “Make me the servant I was born to be!” Moore howls as the track reaches its end. “The Invisible Hand Holds a Whip” is deranged and furious, as Moore’s voice hits monstrous chaos, and the guitars go on an exploration mission. Strange effects coat the growls, while the noises pile up, and Moore wails, “Our number’s up, we all got to pay!” “Goat Mockery Ritual” is a poke at those dudes (let’s face it, it’s almost all dudes) who cry about the metal scene and go a little overboard proving their kvltness. “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing you saps that ‘observe the dress code’ shall be the whole of the law,” Moore howls sarcastically, as the band backs him with twisting punishment, guitars that swing into space, and a slow-mauling finish. “Tennessee” turns things serious again, as the song focuses on a friend who suffered abuse while incarcerated. Ominous bass tones start the song, as the dizzying, sprawling damage sinks its teeth, and the punishment fits the theme of the song. The shrieks unleashed remind of Mike Patton at his most unhinged, as the song hammers home the torment and injustice served.

“Trash Talk Landfill” opens with satirist/musician Tom Lehrer’s 1959 line that, “Life is like a sewer, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.” It’s a hilarious line, but then the track becomes unglued, as the band grinds away, and the growls blister the ribcage. Part of the playing is rubbery as fuck, as the soloing goes nuts and confounds reality, the pace crunches, and the back end is packed with death-style lunacy. That leads nicely into the three-part “The Unraveling” triptych, with the whole thing cemented together nicely, and the only real way to keep the parts separate is to follow the track listing. “Hegemony of Grasping Fears” is the first part, unleashing total insanity, as everything hits the fan. The tempo is crunchy and mathy, reminding a bit of Dillinger Escape Plan, and that all bleeds into the second portion, “Free at Last.” “This is a first-hand account of a culture committing suicide,” Moore cries, as this middle section is disorienting and peels the paint off the walls, while the last bit, “Live From the Fresh Corpse,” is more straight-forward … when considering what preceded it. We’re back into a death march, with terrifying growls and an assault that ends abruptly. “Empty” closes the record, a 12:03 pounder that brings soupy guitars, coarse growls, and a thick haze. The pace calms some in the middle, letting the humidity in, but then we’re back into bludgeoning death that drops a million hammers. The band slips into a free-form section where they noodle in outer space. Then we’re back to slowly meted out torture, vocals scraping skin, and the band delivering a final beating.

Pyrrhon remain disinterested in doing things the conventional way, as “What Passes for Survival” proves repeatedly. Their brand of death is not here for brutality’s sake; it’s here to push your brain and alter what you expect from heavy music. Their style, as it’s always been, likely won’t be everyone’s tastes, but for those who are aligned, Pyrrhon have more concoctions to destroy your perception of reality.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pyrrhonband

To buy the album, go here: https://www.willowtip.com/store/

Or here: https://deathwishinc.eu/collections/throatruiner-records

For more on the label, go here: https://www.willowtip.com/home.aspx

And here: http://www.throatruinerrecords.com/

Atriarch sink deeper into dark moods, relentless depression with torturous ‘Dead as Truth’

Photo by James Rexroad

Being able to turn torment and psychological pain into music that drips black with those awful things if a gift, albeit a terrifying one. Many artists over the years have traveled dark paths and led listeners into harrowing corners where sadness and torture lurk. Few have been able to make music that literally sounds like it’s constructed of those things.

Atriarch lurked out of the shadows years ago from their home base in Portland, Ore., and their deathrock-infused doom always has felt overwhelming and sinister. The band’s new, fourth record “Dead as Truth” is near, and it’s another punishing display that could carve away at your body and mind. Everything they create feels like it has been lurking in the bleakest caverns of their mind, letting you taste the depression, anger, and frustration welling inside. It doesn’t take long into their new album to express that, especially when the acidic words drop from vocalist Lenny Smith’s mouth, tearing their way into your heart. His singing is one of the most effective elements this band has, as it’s impossible to avoid or deflect. But let’s not discount the rest of the group—guitarist Joshua Dark, bassist Andy Savage, and drummer Maxamillion—who help create those thick curtains of sorrow that drape you skin and bone and leave you shivering in tears.

“Inferno” starts the record and immediately thrusts you into the madness. Synth slowly unfurls, as Smith’s singing starts cutting into the skin, as he pokes, “Regret what you cannot change,” an instant tributary into guilt complex, before leveling with, “This is hell, we’re in hell!” Depression is thick and impossible to shake, while the fear of death stomps, hammered home with Smith’s ungodly shrieks and the band’s pummeling power. “Dead” is dripping with deathrock-style bass and guitars charging, as Smith manages to find a way to make things ever sootier. “All is lost!” he yelps at one points, taking you into his downward spiral, but it’s the gunshot blasting chorus of, “Su-i-cide!” where the despair gets to be too much. The final moments dissolve into rage, with Smith wailing, “Dead and gone and dead and gone!” “Devolver” has grimy growls and guitar sludge, as the vocals dig into your veins, and the pain is spread thick right up to the end.

“Void” runs 7:15 and rides in on the wings of charnel keys. The bass rolls while the singing warbles underneath it all, rising to the surface long enough for Smith to demand, “Stop saying words!” From there are shrieks, anguish, and self-loathing, as the vocals pierce the ear drums, the guitars rise and slay, and the track bleeds away. “Repent” has a strong doom charge right out of the gates, letting things lightly boil before rage pours over on the chorus. The song digs into class warfare and the plight of those who must struggle every day, as Smith ups the ante, screaming, “Annihilation, time to die!” as the song comes to a bruising end. Closer “Hopeless” has a clean run for a while, as emotion cascades, and Smith slurs and stalks from behind. The cut crumbles with Smith’s psyche, as he wails, “There is no love, there is no life!” The track’s tempo leans toward carnage, as the fires are stoked, giving off heat. Later, it’s back to ink-filled seas, misery-soaked singing, and the song disappearing into a static void.

Atriarch’s music isn’t for sunny days or for summer fun or for friendly gatherings. “Dead as Truth,” like all their records, is for deep reflection, personal bloodletting, and confronting any lingering psychological demons. This music isn’t here for anything else but taking part in the band’s suffering and figuring out how that overlaps to your own scarred existence.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/AtriarchOfficial

To buy the album, go here: https://store.relapse.com

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords/

Black metal duo Poison Blood combine long-tenured artists on crushing, mind-splitting EP

Two major forces coming together for the betterment (or at least the appreciation) of black metal sounds like a welcome proposition, especially when both of those behemoths have very impressive resumes between them. Their debut EP is nearly upon us, and that effort is one that could crash the walls surrounding your already fragile psyche (well, at least mine is shaky).

Poison Blood is the new union combining Neill Jameson of Krieg and Jenks Miller of Horseback, two musicians who approach their art from very different perspectives and who do not, at least on the surface, seem like artists who’d naturally work well together. Yet, the band’s 8-track, 19-minute scorcher of a self-titled debut entry makes perfect sense once it’s upon you and gnawing the flesh. Jameson and Miller sink into their love of early black metal, as well as deathrock, doom, and synth rock, to create an EP that’s thunderous and savage, but also a really interesting trip. The guys also cite their shared appreciation of bands such as Beherit and Rudimentary Peni (there’s some Christian Death in here as well) as other touch points of inspiration for them, and elements of those groups also are well represented in the sound.

“The Scourge and the Gestalt” gets things going with strange noises flooding and a doomy riff suddenly turning to full swagger. Jameson’s monstrous growls burst through the gates, as the melodies show off attitude, guitars unleash hell, and the track comes to a ferocious end. “Deformed Lights” tramples and kills, as vicious vocals lead the way, and the tempo mauls. The vocals sound massive and crazed, as the guitar soloing takes on a Southern drawl (no doubt a Miller trait), as synth swells and fades away. “Myths From the Desert” blasts apart, with Jameson unleashing his throaty best, which sound painfully emitted, and synth barrels into the bombast. The back end of the track has a unique, war-ravaged feel, with these guys tacking on a huge finish. “A Cracked and Desolate Sky” thrashes massively, with the vocals echoing off walls and the riffs dominating. The pace chugs from there, with synth drizzling over top, and the final moments just killing you.

“The Flower of Serpents” is a nice dose of castle synth, with the music feeling like it should have sound-tracked an old NES game in the mid-1980s. “Shelter Beneath the Sea” is an unforgiving, strangulating push of black metal chaos, as the band unloads all its artillery in order to do as much mental and physical abuse as humanly possible. “From the Lash” brings cement truck-heavy guitar riffs that blacken the eyes, as the vocals kill and cause you mentally to spiral into space. The song keeps storming until calm settles over the scene, strange synth glimmers, and bass work helps the song roll away. Closer “Circles of Salt” settles into a synth bed, feeling like it jettisoned in from the ’80s. That coldness works with the warm guitars and the drums disrupting the picture, and out of that, voices swirl as if trapped in a tornado. The final moments are strange and trance-inducing, putting an interesting finish on a massive mind trick.

Jameson and Miller have a vicious, blood-thirsty effort on their hands with this massive self-titled EP, and where they go from this point is anyone’s guess. Poison Blood are not reinventing the wheel or anything on these eight songs, but that’s not the point. This is a fiery torch held aloft to the black metal gods of old and pushing that sound into the future, where they look to keep the heathen spirit alive.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Poison-Blood-115522469047123/

To buy the album, go here: https://store.relapse.com

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Hell’s massive fourth album simmers in riffy sludge, atmospheric suffering

There are people who believe we are actually in Hell. Not an earthly existence, not in Purgatory, but actual Hell. Would anyone be surprised? This past week alone is evidence enough for me, a joke of a time period in this country that feels like we are being fucked with by an evil force we cannot seem to overcome. See how that feels like real life?

So, it’s apropos to have a visit from a Hell of another kind, the Oregon-based doom beast that is the product of the elusive M.S.W. We are being served the band’s fourth full-length record, a self-titled affair that also happens to share a name with the band’s debut opus. At seven tracks, 45 minutes, these are the most songs we’ve ever gotten on a Hell full-length, and the running time should clue you into the fact that this document isn’t packed with dirge epics like we’d grown accustomed to hearing. In many ways, the tenets one expects from Hell—somber, draining drone that pounds away at your soul—remain, but we also get thicker sludge, stoner-style guitar riffs in greater amount, and a sense of urgency that’s surprising to hear from M.S.W. But it also makes for the most unique offering in the Hell catalog, and a massive record that’s devastating and molten from front to back.

The 9:34-long opener “Helmzmen” starts ominously, with clips of the mayday call from the Northern Belle sinking in 2010, which already pushes this into darkness. Then, molten, stoner-style riffs kick in hard as fuck, as noise-drenched growls pierce the surface, a heaping dose of sludge crumbles, and a nasty Sleep vibe spreads and kills. As the song reaches its end, the guitars burn, drums devastate, and the thing ends in corrosive bubbles. “Sub0din” simmers in feedback before riffs rise from the ash, and the growls scorch. There is a severe power surge out of that, as the guitars chug and pound, and then atmosphere whooshes in. Creaky growls that remind of Leviathan jab the veins, while sound spreads like illness and reverberates into oblivion. “Machitikas” is a shorter cut, at least for Hell, and it rolls into burly riffs and a face-stomping groove. As the song progresses, it takes on a hypnotic edge that disorients, while harsh, maniacal screams lash out, and the abject heaviness disappears into the fog.

“Wandering Soul” runs 5:09, and it stomps gigantic holes in everything at the outset. Meaty riffs mix with weird voices, and then guitars swirl and create a mind fuck. Things feel like they’re soaring into a nightmare void, and then the hammers drop again. Strange voices echo, panic is induced, and this instrumental comes to a menacing end. “Inscriptus” is a beast, with scathing screams and blistering violence, as voices argue back and forth over the validity of Biblical truth. The shrieking gets crazier, tearing at your ear drums, and while some atmosphere filters in later, this is a beating. “Victus” is the longest track at 12:35, and it starts with slow-driving horror and wild shrieks that tear at the flesh. Noise gathers like an oncoming storm, as the darkness gets to near sun-blocking level, but later the mood changes. Solemn guitars trickle, while strings layer in texture, but later a hole is torn in the center. Gut-wrenching doom levels cities, vocals scorch the flesh, and layered guitars give the final moment an equally sorrowful and glorious sheen. Closer “Seelenos” is an instrumental that cuts right to the heart, as guitars drip and leave black streaks, while a reading of Emily Dickinson’s “I felt a Funeral, In my Brain” sinks this further into despair. Female operatic vocals cut in and swell, while the final moments gently bleed away, unable to heal the wound of vulnerability.

The return of Hell three years after M.S.W. started writing the record and five years since the last full-length could not come at a better time. The world feels like it’s crumbling, humanity is accumulating filth, and existence has never felt less desirable or worthy of the sphere we’re given. Hell pack their music with vitriolic power, and these songs will feel like they’re burning you alive.

For more on the band, go here: https://loweryourhead.bandcamp.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://sentientruin.com/releases/hell-hell

Or here: https://loweryourhead.bandcamp.com/album/hell-full-length

For more on the label, go here: http://sentientruin.com/

Less Art approach dark societal, personal issues with blistering fury on debut ‘Strangled Light’

Photo by Scott Evans

We’re not living in particularly easy times. It feels like we’re in the darkest timeline of real life, a place that looks and feels like what we’re used to but that is populated by villainous figures looking to twist and contort what we know is good and right. That’s on top of what we must deal with personally every day.

Less Art, the new (well, sort of) union of musicians from bands including Kowloon Walled City (if you’re not familiar, stop reading this now and go listen to their entire discography … we’ll wait … it’s the Internet), Thrice, and Curl Up and Die, centers on the types of things that make life and navigating the news every night an impossibility. On top of that, personal demons, guilt, and anxiety are things that eat away at many of us, sometimes making it even more difficult to just deal. The members—vocalist Mike Minnick, guitarists Ed Breckenridge and Jon Howell, bassist Ian Miller, and drummer Riley Breckenridge—pour their volatility and passion into”Strangled Light,” a post-hardcore stew that’s steamy and chewy but also is packed with personal and social messages that might be preaching to the choir for many but also feel cathartic and powerful. This is a big change for these guys who already play together in baseball-themed hardcore band Puig Destroyer (minus Ed Breckenridge) but wanted a more serious route to express themselves. They sure found it, as this killer album can attest.

“Optimism as Survival” starts raw, with Minnick singing about a family tragedy and the process of cleaning out the house of relics and memories. As the band punches along with him, he recalls a grandfather’s suicide, dark family secrets, and all the darkness that should bury a person. “I’m too curious to kill myself,” he wails, refusing the give in to tumult. “Diana the Huntress” sinks its teeth as one of the most aggressive songs on the album. Meghan O’Neill-Pennie (Super Unison and formerly of Punch) shrieks with animalistic abandon over the chorus, as the music lays in punches, and Minnick howls, “This is a warning to those who think we’re weak!” “Mood 7 Mind Destroyer: Guilt” chews on bruised nerve endings that have been beaten for years. Guitars churn and then torpedo through the chaos, while Minnick spits, “It’s a guilty conscience, and I deserve this,” only to follow with the wounded, “My demons have gone hungry, while I starve myself.” “Wandering Ghost” reminds a bit of Thursday, mostly from approach. The talk-sung words are wailed and hang, ready for plucking, while the guitars drip and drums pelt the senses. The throes of addiction and emotional flaws flood to the surface, while the song sits in the mid-tempo simmering.

“Pessimism as Denial” sort of echoes the opener, at least in title, and the track cuts open and lets Minnick’s raspy howls take center stage. “Why don’t we ever help those we hurt?” he wonders aloud, as he touches on subjects including racism and hatred, blasting out, “This system doesn’t work, the world is better without us.” Much of humanity likely is too self-absorbed to consider that line. “Shapeshifter” pulls back the reins some, though it remains intense emotionally. Again, we travel into guilt’s merciless hands, as Minnick fears a death where he feels he didn’t do enough in his life and pleads, “Help me do better.” “Crushed Out” is a firebreather, a track that seems to share the shame many of us feel about the country in which we live, at least how it stands now. “This is a fucking nightmare!” Minnick wails, seeing a scene that no longer looks welcoming and inviting to him and those of his mind frame. “What Is in It Man?” follows a similar vein, but also confronts the contorted views of what God has come to mean or represent to people who have twisted what should be honorable teachings, as well as the violence that resulted from this. “Which school or church will be the next target?” Minnick wonders, as the band backs him with incendiary power. The closing title track has a burly opening and shriekier vocals. The bass spills and thickens the scene, with Minnick reminding, “No one comes back from the dead,” as the band hits an agitated, yet thunderous finish to a thought-provoking record.

Lots of people are asking a ton of questions about the country and world in which we live, and answers aren’t exactly forthcoming. Less Art put a lot of challenging material in front of us on “Strangled Light,” as they turn these nine songs into examinations of events both inside our head and in the world around us. The record is a powerful statement not only musically, which it very much is, but intellectually and morally as well.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/LESSARTBAND/

To buy the album, go here: https://gileadmedia.bandcamp.com/album/strangled-light

For more on the label, go here: http://gileadmedia.net/