Hell Awaits is a column by Kim Kelly and Andy O'Connor that shines a light on extreme and underground metal. This week, Andy recommends new releases from House of Lightning, Sutekh Hexen, Autopsy, and more. Welcome to Hell.
House of Lightning: Lightworker
Henry Wilson has a big year ahead of him with the upcoming release of Floor's Oblation, but he's also got a new group, House of Lightning, formed in the ashes of his previous unit Dove. Lightworker, their debut, will be released on April 22 through Fair Warning Records, the label run by Austin's renowned poster artist Jack Barfield. The album was supposed to come out in 2012, but the final mixing was delayed until Oblation was done. Musically, this picks up where Dove left off, but with a less sludgy sound. Wilson still has those low-and-slow riffs in him, but he also throws in solos that are sometimes acrobatic, sometimes jagged, but definitely more active than Floor. In essence, what Steve Brooks did in Torche—bring up the pop influence—Wilson does with House of Lightning. “New Jam,” which you can stream below, sums up what Lightworker does pretty well. While it probably won't receive the attention that Oblation will, he's got something to tour with once Brooks gets busy with Torche again.
Sutekh Hexen: Become reissue
You think cassettes are whack? You think flexis are gimmicky? Try a tape reel, which is what Bay Area black/drone/noise group Sutekh Hexen originally released their 2012 EP Become on, through Auris Apothecary. Most metalheads don't have tape decks in their cars, so who has a tape reel player at home? Sentient Ruin realized this and are reissuing Become on tape and digital formats, with Cold Spring assisting with a CD reissue, both which are due next month. The album is two 15-minute tracks of drooping, decaying mist. If Burzum set the template for metal as ambient music, Sutekh Hexen rattles any semblance of musicality and goes full on with noise. The black-metal song trying to claw out of “The Voice : The Void” around the six-minute mark creates an effect sort of like when the Melvins bootleg pops up during Sunn O)))'s cover of their track “Rabbit's Revenge.” Oddly enough, Become is relaxing in parts, like Impetuous Ritual coming down from a victory-induced headrush. (While he doesn't play on this release, current member Ryan Jencks, who provides electronics, plays guitar in Dispirit with USBM visionary John Gossard.)
Bay Area death metallers Autopsy have had a successful reunion. Not only have they proven that they're still a thunderous live unit—anchored by the astonishing dexterity of their vocalist and drummer Chris Reifert—but they've also made music on par with their classic first three albums. Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves, set for release on April 22 in Europe and April 29 in North America through Peaceville, follows the same course as 2011's Macabre Eternal and last year's The Headless Ritual—Autopsy's timeless death-doom crawl with more modern production. We've got the first look at “Burial” from the new record, and it's one of Autopsy's slower songs to date. Felt like you've been “In the Grip of Winter” for too long? This won't help, but it rules all the same.
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Leather Chalice: Sweet Perfume of Coffin Air
Is there a black metal rennaissance happening in New England? Vattnet Viskar are perhaps the biggest band to arise from New Hampshire, Connecticut’s Autolatry have used New England's scenery and history as inspiration, and the Massachusetts-based Deathwish Inc. put money behind Deafheaven's Sunbather and the upcoming record from Young and in the Way. Leather Chalice, another group from New Hampshire, is the blackened punk project of Jan Slezak from Ramlord. He just put up their tape Sweet Perfume of Coffin Air on Bandcamp, and it's one of the more interesting black metal albums this year. The punk influence is pretty evident, but Slezak doesn't go for d-beats over static. He manages to retain the sorrowful nature of the second wave while adding just the right amount of crust flavor. It might be one of the truest fusions of post-punk and black metal – to-the-point while retaining morbid romanticism. Shit, the title could be a lost Baudelaire poem! At the very least, this is what would be on his iPod were he roaming the streets in 2014, wondering when they'll finally mail his freelancing checks.
Dead Neanderthals: “Pillar of Teeth”
Calling the Netherlands' Dead Neanderthals metal would be pushing it, especially since they're a drum and sax duo. Their songs are quite influenced by grindcore, and they've got a huge natural sound when you're sick of digital compression. Recently, they released a split 7” with Kuru, consisting solely of a six-minute song titled “Pillar of Teeth”. That one song is longer than their EP The Saw, which swept through unsuspecting listeners in less than four minutes. “Teeth” is more like the material from Dead Neanderthals' 2012 EP Jazzhammer/Stormannsgalskap, where sustain becomes friend and foe. Elements work in tandem where you could be convinced this is a backing track for the Body. There certainly is more noise on here than their other stuff, like Coltrane jamming with Vomir. If you're into heavy duos, this is unmissable.
Devil Childe: Devil Childe reissue
Minotauro Records is a small Italian label specializing in reissues of forgotten metal gems. Among their recent re-issues is Devil Childe's self-titled album, a bit of an odd metal artifact. The project came about when Dutch East Records assigned New York guitarist Jack Starr, then of Virgin Steele and currently of Burning Starr, to record three albums recorded and mixed in 12 hours each. He recruited drummer Joe Hasselvander, who was in the infamous Pentagram at the time and would later go on to drum for NWOBHM heroes Raven, and bassist Ned Meloni. Allegedly, the album was made by a series of teenagers who went under “Matthew Hopkins,” (Hasselvancder), “Lucifer” (Starr) and “Anton Phibes” (Meloni). In reality, it was three adults playing sloppy but charming Venom-inspred metal. The whole record has this bizarre fuzz that sounds like Blue Cheer giving themselves over to a Satanic cult – the magic of recording on a $200 budget in a New York minute. Add the fact that it was recorded on Halloween, and you've got a total cult record. (In case you're curious what the other two albums recorded for the Dutch East deal were, they were Hasselvander's solo debut Lady Killer, and Phantom Lord's self-titled debut, which was another project where Devil Childe members used fake names.)