Friday, September 27, 2013



Saint Vitus in Brooklyn, a venue perhaps too cozy (despite being the headquarters of the New York metal scene) for titans like Carcass and Immolation. The tickets sold-out in less than ten minutes, and thanks to my buddy Ellie (whose Noothgrush back patch made her the belle o’ the ball), I was able to snag a ticket. After getting a new drink special (Storming the Castle: One Newcastle pint and a shot of Jameson Black) I perched at the front of the stage like a gargoyle.

I saw Immolation play at the Decibel Magazine Tour this past summer, but they treated the crowd to several new songs off their upcoming album, as well as “God Complex,” which they played live for the first time. Ross Dolan (vocals/bass) pre-emptively apologized in case they “fucked up.” Fucked up they didn’t. It took half a song for drummer Steve Shalaty to warm up, but once he got locked in the whole band worked together like an efficient killing machine.

Despite their fantastic performance playing song from their whole discography (though understandably leaning on Kingdom of Conspiracy), the crowd was a bit mild, except for one very vocal audience member claiming to be a fan from the “old days.” Dolan sized him up and replied, “You were born after we recorded our demo.” Closing with a new track called “All That Awaits Us,” Immolation’s new material sounds amazing, with even more drastic tempo shifts and dangerous groove mixed with their signature technicality.


A brief intermission where I refuse to leave my spot, enjoying Slaughter of the Soul playing over the Saint Vitus speakers. I eat an obscene number of gummy dinosaurs. Then: Carcass.

“So Williamsburg, I remember when you were just called Brooklyn,” quips Jeff Walker, snarling frontman/bassist of Carcass.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Walker in the past month for Girls and Corpses Magazine, an article which will be included in their Winter Issue. Walker continued his playful antagonization of the audience by inquiring, “Are the guys from MetalSucks here?” After silence from the crowd: “Didn’t think so. They’re a bunch of poseurs.” Unfortunately he didn’t ask if Decibel Magazine staff was present, or I would have humiliated myself by raising my hand silently like I was in social studies class.

While Walker was having a blast skewering the crowd with barbed words, Bill Steer (lead guitar) was caught between smirking and grinning the whole night. Along with new members Ben Ash (guitar) and Daniel Wilding (drums), they raged through songs from Reek of Putrefaction to Surgical Steel, insisting with a smile they’re playing new stuff because their record label was present. “Wait ten years, and you’ll be calling that a classic,” Walker said after completing their most recent single, “Captive Bolt Pistol.” Kicking out greasy death’n’roll and goregrind in equal measure, the crowd barely had enough room to headbang or mosh without causing constant concussions, but what’s a little brain bruising when it’s CARCASS? Playing with a slideshow of penises plagued by venereal diseases in the background, the band members seemed to have as much fun as the crowd.

“Our last song is off the album you love to hate,” promised Walker. The song: “Keep on Rotting in the Free World” off of Swansong. That track was my first introduction to Carcass, which I heard on an Earache Records sampler when I was in junior high. I discuss this more in my Girls and Corpses piece, but my fondness for that song is undying, and it was an entirely appropriate way to end the evening. Here's the Carcass set list for the night:

Pro tip: Click to enlarge.

While Carcass are only making a few brief stops here in the states, Walker promised a “proper tour” in the Spring. That’s enough notice, so save your pennies, gorehounds.
In the meantime, buy Surgical Steel and support the return of this legendary band. While you’re at it, pick up Kingdom of Conspiracy too. Both of these albums are on my current top 40 list for the year, and come highly recommended.

And Immolation’s most recent album is waiting to punch your cerebellum here: 

Thursday, September 26, 2013


G’morning, brainiacs. After a brief shipping delay due to damaged Godflesh Flexi-disks, issue #109 of Decibel Magazine is out on shelves. It’s another great chapter, with an entertaining Call & Response column with Ghoul’s Digestor as well as features covering Skeletonwitch, Doomriders (whose new album I review), and Morbid Angel. Here are the pieces I wrote for the magazine this time around:

Page 26: Ulcerate - Vermis profile. I exchanged e-mails with Jamie Saint Merat, founding drummer of New Zealand’s extreme metal conquerors Ulcerate. We discussed tyranny, Latin translations, and how his geographic isolation has impacted their music. Although it didn’t make the profile, he was also refreshingly honest about how their band name doesn’t seem to capture the sound they’ve developed since their high school days of gore metal.

Page 86: Blood Red Throne - Blood Red Throne review. I really enjoyed this Norwegian death metal album, even if the score seems unspectacular. It was a lot of fun, leading me to quip about Richard Simmons and my childhood dream of being a seven-foot tall baseball player. I recommend this album to those who embrace the less technical side of death metal and don’t mind flashes of metalcore. I gave it 7/10.

Page 88: Doomriders - Grand Blood review. I dig these guys from Beantown, and proudly wear one of their shirts often (let’s face it, their Grim Reaper “D” logo can brawl with anyone else’s logo and win a heavyweight belt). I handed this review to Decibel a week before seeing them play with Red Fang, and after hearing the songs performed live I likely would have changed this score to an 8. That’s not entirely fair, since the album should stand on its own --which it solidly does-- but sometimes songs don’t make as much sense until you see them screamed in person, or accompanied by the synchronized headbanging of a front-row of Brooklynites. I also gave this 7/10.

I have three more pieces in next month’s issue, so more on that in a few weeks. This ssue should be on shelves now if you’re still one of those weirdos who ventures into the world and stores and stuff to buy things. Just order stuff online like the rest of us Morlocks.

Go over here to subscribe to Decibel Magazine. At $29.95 for a whole year this is one of the biggest bargains out there. The writing staff is fantastic, the editors are awesome, and the design is sleek and filled with trippy illustrations. Definitely worth your money:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


The perfect way to discover Opus Serpens, the split EP from Ashencult and Mephorash, would be to mysteriously unearth a black cassette with ancient symbols carved in the plastic from the soil of your lawn while gardening. The fact that I listened to it on Bandcamp is only unfortunate because it denies me that story. But it’s a good thing for every black-hearted metalhead that this split exists, even in digital form. But soon that won’t even be necessary, as you can now pre-order this release on either silver or black vinyl and conjure unknown evil from your turntable.

Ashencult hide somewhere in the meatless ribcage of Philadelphia, in a neighborhood I imagine looks like the elephant graveyard from The Lion King. “My Tenth Death” is based in melodic, somber black metal that brings the grace and danger back to the genre that thrived in the days of tape-trading. But there’s a sharpened, sophisticated edge of this double-sided axe, and even while it blasts without mercy there’s an overarching sense of drama that makes it feel immediate and emotive. The lead guitar work is superb and the drums plow through fields of bones with a rock vibe that avoids the occasionally stiff blastbeats that lesser BM bands employ. The vocals sound like they come from some creature who has seen dinosaurs come and go and watched the forces of nature and man drive species to extinction. It’s a fantastic song with texture and suspense that compares favorably with early Emperor, but with a little less grime.

“Atramentous Ungod Suspect” closes the album, a 9+ minute song from Uppsala, Sweden’s own Mephorash. Commencing with low groaning and gothic organs, it sounds like it could be rooted in the candelabra-lit crypts of early-90s Cradle of Filth. But don’t let that fool you, when the song begins foaming at the mouth and thrashing wildly the guitars provide extra bite and sound heavy as hell. With guest vocals from Acherontas V. Priest, the song features a variety of vocal approaches, ranging from a traditional black metal rasp to the insane whispers of some leprous gatekeeper. The fastest moments of this song could stab unprepared metal novices to death. When all’s said and done, the song reminds me of a grittier Borknagar song that was raised in complete darkness in some forgotten catacombs, nursed on the milk of plague-carrying rats.

This is a must-purchase for anyone who likes bleak black metal with tasteful keyboards, or anyone who enjoys extreme music with a sense of mystery and majesty. I’m definitely excited to hear this spinning in my room, and I’m looking forward to each band’s future releases.

Listen to Opus Serpens over here on Bandcamp, and check out the pre-order links for their beautiful 10” records:

Or support these bands and this awesome release from Unholy Anarchy Records by pre-ordering this on vinyl from their address:

Follow Ashencult over on Facebook here:

And do the same for Mephorash here:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


“…damn everything that is grim, dull, motionless, unrisking, inward turning, damn everything that won’t get into the circle, that won’t enjoy, that won’t throw its heart into the tension, surprise, fear and delight of the circus, the round world, the full existence…” - e.e. cummings

Sunday evening in Bushwick, with the hospital halogen glow of a gas station illuminating the Pumps Exotic Dancing banner on the side of the building, I enter the third show from The Pumps Pin-Ups, entitled “Damn Everything But the Circus.” The casual bar has been transformed into a neon graffiti palace, with grotesque, macabre, inspired creatures and profane scrawlings adorning every centimeter of mirror on both sides of the stage. The artwork ranges from psychedelic foliage and casually satanic symbolism to characters that look like Robert Crumb portraits drawn for a Butthole Surfers album cover. Wise words above urge the audience to “Iggy Pop Til You Drop.” The show’s art curator, Aubrey Roemer, glides through the crowd and applies glow-in-the-dark ink to their faces with glee. She adds a few decorations to my forehead and cheeks and they feel like inverted crosses, which makes me feel like she’s seen deep into my evil soul and understands exactly who I am. When I examine the symbols they’re more like addition signs (+ + +), but what the hell, close enough. Sunny de la Vega entertains the crowd before the show officially starts and every person who came early rejoices in their decision to arrive before showtime. She seems effortless as she displays grace and impressive and strength while pole-dancing, seemingly defying gravity while the red flower in her hair impossibly stays in place. But this is the brilliance of The Pumps Pin-Ups: They make everything difficult and challenging and anxiety-inducing seems calculatedly cool and easy.

The show’s MCs, the wise-cracking Rocket Ships (rocking neon green/black lingerie and teased pigtails) and new team member Evan Von Doomstein, looking slick in a suit and combed mustache, welcome the audience to feast their eyes on Sinister Shabzzz, Harley Quin, and Foxy Highroller, each posing in their own spotlight while Scarlett la Rosa, the troup’s fearless leader and director, circled them with a whip as the evening’s Ringmistress.

The first half of the show was full of inspired performances, including: Ariel Wolf’s inventive routine in a white gown of balloons, popped one by one by a peacock-feathered quill; Scarlett la Rosa’s sultry rendition of Peggy Lee’s “Fever” concluding with a triumphant drag of a cigarette; Bella Boop transporting us all to Burning Man with an impressive display of neon hula-hooping in her awesome horned demon outfit.

Around this point Von Doomstein appropriately asked the crowd if anyone was willing to share their drugs, and received one whistle. Selfish bastards.

Sinister Shabzzz took the stage in a black corset and pink heart pasties as a spellbinding black metal siren looking for her “pussy,” who subsequently returned in the form of Harley Quin wearing a cat costume and purring. I have friends whose first crushes were anthropomorphic animated bunnies and cats who would replay their heart-warming exchange over and over, with even less clothing in mind. Shanlita Bandita then  sizzled in a pink onesie, guiding Von Doomstein to a chair and giving him a private dance, if you ignore the bar full of ogling people. My friend leaned in and whispered, “The irony of paying to watch another guy get a lapdance.” Shanlita stole a flask from her mark’s pocket and proceeded to rob him at gunpoint, requesting he strip to a leopard-print thong, to the delight of the scowling guys stationed in front of him. Come on guys, you could do worse, and you probably have. If anything, this routine, apart from being incredible fun and slyly humorous, should also inspire some guys to come open their wallets when lapdances are available.
Spanx Sinatra then sang a song possibly titled “Creep,” which was not a Radiohead cover, but a brutal and totally deserved skewering of cheap, shady, disrespectful tools that occasionally wander into Pumps. She has natural ability that just dazzles and transforms any space she inhabits into a high-class speakeasy. Sasha Berkowitz danced to Marilyn Manson’s “Dope Show” (guessing her name was inspired by Daisy Berkowitz a bit) with makeup that invoked either a seductive clown or the sidekick we all wish The Crow had. With chains draped from her black collar to her negligee bracelets, she had my favorite outfit of the night. Heidi Glum, dubbed “Supermodel of the Underworld” and dressed like a 60s pin-up homemaker, steered the show to its intermission, where Kill ‘Em All-era Metallica had me drumming on the bar top while Kat and Vanessa, the establishment’s amazing bartenders, served up cold drinks with corsets and a smile.

Act Two, and Scarlett la Rosa is knocking ‘em dead again with her smooth voice and her white boa, draped over black & white bra top. Rocket insists that the audience is “Ten years younger and 20% more cancer free” after hearing Scarlett’s voice, and I have toa dmit it’s a pretty damn good tonic. Shanlita then downs half of a bottle of some anonymous liquid while donning a gol leopard-print dress. The audience thought it might be water, someone verified it’s not. My money’s on absinthe. Whatever it was, she sought escape near Dom, from Air of Ants, hiding in the shadow of his keyboard.

The performance of the evening may go to the tag-team rendition of “Don’t Tell Mama” that the lovely Ivy Nyx, Spanx Sinatra, and Scarlett la Rosa unleashed on the crowd. There was a huge reaction as each of them dared the other to sing louder and with unparalleled amounts of charisma and sass, and holy shit were each of them up to the challenge. I don’t have many notes written because I was applauding and throwing money in a nearby top hat, but in my notebook I have written down: HUGE. That could be describing the applause, their voices, their busts, or perhaps I glanced down at my own crotch.

Foxy Highroller made her Pumps Pin-Ups debut and was fantastic, pole-dancing to Radiohead’s “Talk Show Host.” With a rose-print dress, cigarette holder, and tattooed wings, she looked like she was floating and enjoying high society at the same time. Ivy Nyx was kind enough to grace us with another sing, belting out “Hit the Road, Jack” while Sinister Shabzzz brought howls and hollers from the crowd with her patented vertical split against the pole, which sounds less impressive than it looks. Seriously, watch that shit in person and tell me that pole dancing isn’t an art and a sport at once. The music wasn’t finished, as Spanx Sinatra sang one of my favorite songs ever, “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” with support from Jerry, an unfairly talented clarinetist who made that instrument sing and scat with impossible dexterity. I played the clarinet for years and it was one of my favorite moments of the night.

Before Rocket could round up a pack of “cats and small rodents to overpower her lifeless body,” Shanlita awoke from her alcoholic slumber in a sailor hat and polka dot bathing suit. With Gogol Bordello cranking out their unique brand of cabaret punk she spray-painted “see the spectacle” over the mirror artwork. The spray-paint leaked red all over her hands and chest like she was stuck in a crime scene from Dexter, which a creep like me finds very alluring. After her performance Evan Von Doomstein had his revenge, forcing her to strip with her own gun pointed at her, completing one of my darker fantasies in front of me. Who am I kidding, that’s kid stuff compared to what gets me off.

Spanx Sinatra sang a song while Sunny de la Vega, the Barcelonian dancer of undebatable skill, did a dramatic routine that was classy and captivating. I particularly liked the percussion of her opening and closing her fan as she slid pole to pole. I wasn’t sure of the song and just wrote down that it was “exotic,” a code word for “foreign” because I’m an ethnocentric douche. Rocket followed with her first solo dancing performance as a Pumps Pin-Up, entertaining the crowd in gold lingerie and headbnging like the black-souled metalhead we all know she is to “Minnie the Moocher.” At some point Evan Von Doomstein broke out the line “In Soviet Russia, Rocket fires you” and I laughed and raised my Bud in appreciation of his joke.

Heidi Glum brought hard rock and heavy metal back into the fray by dancing to “Living Dead Girl” by Rob Zombie while dressed like vintage Marilyn Manson with a Frankenstein’s monster twist. It was an inspired performance but mostly made me miss the days when Marilyn Manson wasn’t so chubby that he had to draw in a jaw line to try and convince people he was still thin. Ariel Wolf then illuminated the room with a fire-eating and breathing act to another song I love, Louis Armstrong’s “Kiss of Fire.” Damn everything but the circus indeed, and Ariel held the spirit of the evening in high regard with her two amazing sets.

The audience showed their appreciation with cat-calls and crumpled dollars as Scarlett la Rosa invited the performers back on stage while she sang “Calendar Girl.” Having seen the two prior shows, I had high expectations for the night and they exceeded every one. The admission was raised $5 (to $12 at the door), but that increase could be seen in the additional performers and artwork, the improved sound quality (especially in the show’s second half), steadier work from the new MC duo, and the lighting that seemed seamless. This is exactly the sort of event that people in New York/Brooklyn write home about to brag about the benefits of being in the city. I can’t recommend it enough.

Go follow The Pumps Pin-Ups over on Facebook so you don’t miss a show. Even if you’re dumb as hell, you can do this one smart thing in your rotten life and turn it all around:


Sometimes there’s music that just isn’t made for the 13 year old mind, the age I bought my first Gorguts album, the now-legendary Obscura. At that that I couldn’t appreciate the artistry involved, and I wanted, above all else, more breakdowns. It’s like expecting a teenager to get totally pumped about Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries. Go live a little, then revisit.

Gorguts have never been an easy listen, and Colored Sands (their first studio album since 2001’s From Wisdom to Hate) certainly doesn’t deviate from their reputation as a challenging band that demands patience and full attention from their audience. That being said, there are moments here where they sound almost traditionally heavy, with head-banging momentum and groove amidst the chaos and cacophony. When they’re at their best, Gorguts sound like death metal an alien species might make when trying to replicate earthling heavy metal, trying to slowly worm their way into our population. Starting with “Le Toit du Monde,” band founder Luc Lemay and company dazzle with technicality that lures you into its confounding labyrinth of sound. The title track is simply one of the best metal songs of this young century, with clean guitar building like an escalating warning call that builds to a fanged burst of crawling death. It’s a song that will hunt and haunt you to the end of human existence.

The only thing predictable about Gorguts is their unpredictability. Just when you think you’ve figured out their discordant brand of planet-melting metal you hear “The Battle of Chamdo,” a piece performed by a string quartet that feels like Danny Elfman composing music for a long-lost Hitchcock film. Throw in the John Zorn freak-out of “Enemies of Compassion” and the intoxicated, kaleidoscopic sludge of “Absconders” and there’s no shortage of standout performances on display here. Anyone familiar with Coneheads knows that extra-terrestrials claim to come from France. Judging by the alien sounds of Colored Sands, however, they may actually say they’re French Canadian.

Colored Sands released TODAY in North America, so order it from Season of Mist over here: