Hell Awaits is a column by Kim Kelly and Andy O'Connor that shines a light on extreme and underground metal. This time, Andy O'Connor sizes up new releases from Dawnbringer, Cara Neir, Rigor Mortis and more.
Dawnbringer: "Hands of Death"
Chris Black, Chicago’s Metal Lord, isn’t content with having one smash record this year. High Spirits, his ecstatic, Thin Lizzy-worshipping solo project, released the tops-drop summer jam, You Are Here, earlier this year. He’s following that up with Night of the Hammer, the latest from Dawnbringer, due out October 28 on Profound Lore. As summer gives way to autumn, Dawnbringer’s slower, more contemplative but no less majestic melodic metal becomes more appealing. “Hands of Death” is the fifth track from Hammer, a laid-back number that verges towards Black’s High Spirits work while maintaining Dawnbringer’s darker character. Black’s vocals still ring clearly; he couldn’t turn off his anthemic strut even if he tried his damndest. Hammer’s cover depicts Black standing alone in a nondescript (but possibly Midwestern) field; “Death,” and Night as a whole is great for heading out to the highway to pass through waves of said fields, bleak day or bleaker night.
Embed is unavailable.
Cara Neir: "Pitiful Human Bindings"
Dallas black metal duo Cara Neir have not slowed down since the release of their third record, Portals to a Better, Dead World, last year. In fact, their upcoming release, a split with Chicago blacknoise trio Venowl on October 14 through Broken Limbs Recordings, will be their third release of 2014. (This is also not their first split with Venowl, having also been on a split with them plus Horseback and Njiqahdda in 2012.) “Pitiful Human Bindings” is the last song from their side, and their fusion of black metal and post-hardcore still reigns. Garry Brents’ melodies, which were brimming with potential with his past projects Parabstruse and Semen Across Lips, are more fully realized here. He incorporates the most searing moments of early '00s metalcore while leaving out the Swedeath dependance and excessive melodrama. Vocalist Chris Francis is in fine form too, harnessing a vocal style not unlike Austin Lunn of Panopticon. He grounds Brents’ music into something more earthbound, filled with mystery but also a sense of openness.
Embed is unavailable.
Rigor Mortis: Slaves to the Grave
When Ministry become a heroin-fueled industrial metal beast, they needed a guitarist who could handle their inhuman rhythms. They found that in Mike Scaccia of Dallas thrashers Rigor Mortis. Scaccia’s right hand was utilized in Ministry with reckless abandon, but his work with that band did not hint at his gift for songwriting and intricate riffing that made Rigor Mortis a groundbreaking, if under-appreciated, group. Their self-titled debut is as essential as Master of Puppets and Reign in Blood. Sadly, he passed away in 2012 from a heart attack while performing with Rigor Mortis, and Slaves to the Grave, which comes out October 7 through Rigor Mortis Records, is the epitaph to his career. For the most part, it’s the real follow-up to their debut. Impending death did not slow down his guitar work; “The Infected” features an intro passage that reaches a glorious balance between Cacophony-like shred and catchy flamboyance. Opening track “Poltergiest” has Scaccia calling up bee swarms that would be the envy of most primitive black metal bands. Vocalist Bruce Corbitt, currently of Warbeast along with bassist Casey Orr, is also as animated as ever, delivering horror-movie-inspired lines with a bulging-eyes fervor. Admittedly, the last track, “Ludus Magnus”, where Corbitt takes the role of a Roman Emperor, is a little overwrought, but it’s less shameful than anything Al Jourgensen puts his name on these days. Rigor Mortis will reunite as Wizards of Gore for next month’s Housecore Horror Film Festival in Austin with Mike Taylor on guitar. (Stream “Ancient Horror” below.)
Rigor Mortis: "Ancient Horror" (via SoundCloud)
Volahn: "Halhi K'ohba"
Hot off the heels of the Black Twilight Circle compilation Tliltic Tlapoyauak, Volahn just released a new track, “Halhi K'ohba”, which will appear on his forthcoming Ajna Offensive/Iron Bonehead release Aq'ab'al. It’s much like his other material—melodic, deeply personal, and all-around intense—with a sound boost from Arthur Rizk (Sumerlands, War Hungry). There are parts that are not unlike For All Tid-era Dimmu Borgir, especially when the synth strings come in. Volahn, however, would never play Ozzfest, should that ever come around again.
Volahn: "Halhi K'ohba" (via Bandcamp)
Heavy Chains is a new traditional metal label out of Australia, and one of their more interesting releases is the debut tape from Melbourne's Outcast. The music itself is ripping, owing a lot of debts to '80s Swedish metal and NWOBHM, but the vocalist carries this oddball sadness not a lot of singers possess. He clearly can’t shake whatever demons are haunting him, and his lachrymose inflection clashes with the “let’s kill and fuck!” rhythm section. Seems like a drag, but oddly, it works. Australian bands always bring something weird to the table, even if they’re not complete psychos like Sadistik Exekution or Portal.
Outcast: "Spiralling Down" (Buy on Bandcamp)
Fistula: Vermin Prolificus
You want some real grimy sludge? The kind where it’ll take five showers—minimum—to get the funk out? Cleveland scumbags Fistula are the band you want, need, and deserve. Vermin Prolificus is their new full-length through PATAC Records (whose label head Dan Harrington also serves as Fistula’s vocalist), and it’s as dirty as their Dirty South influences and contemporaries. They hate cops, sobriety, and good taste, and they’re willing to bare all of their contempt for you with you. Fistula operate on punky fast (“Harmful Situation”), slow (“Smoke Cat Hair and Toe Nails), and really goddamn slow (“Pig Funeral”), and Corey Bing’s diseased riffs penetrate in all modes. Best listened to while day drinking on a Tuesday, because this is not the album you’ll turn your life around to.
Fistula: "Harmful Situation" (Buy on Bandcamp)