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Infernal Ruminations

Greetings and salutations, acolytes. It has been a few weeks since I last graced you with my presence, a development I attribute to a lack of writing time due to real life obligations, but fear not, because although I have not necessarily had time for writing about music, I have still been listening. Writing a music review is a bit of an art, and sometimes it can be difficult to find enough words to fill an entire review. My solution, seen here, is to review several different albums in the space of this column, thus reducing the amount of attention given to each album while still being able to convey my thoughts. This week, I will be addressing the most recent releases from four different bands: Carthage, The Odious, Blockheads, and Bad Religion.

Carthage - Salt The Earth

Carthage – Salt The Earth

[11th December 2012]

01. Destroy The City
02. Blackout
03. Perception Fails
04. The Furthest Thing
05. Years & Darkness
06. Pushing Forward
07. Maelstrom
08. Exegetics
09. To Return
10. 1984/4
11. Green
12. Continuous

Carthage’s Salt The Earth is an album I have been intending to review since its release, but due to the busy holiday season and the preparation necessary to create and unveil my 2012 end-of-year list, that particular task found itself repeatedly pushed to the back burner. Carthage, for those unfamiliar, are a band from Baltimore who number within their ranks a pair of friends of mine: onetime solo artist Tre Watson and Heavy Blog Is Heavy writer (and also occasional solo artist) Noyan Tokgozoglu. Musically speaking, Carthage’s music uses deathcore as its foundation, building upon it with elements of djent, technical and brutal death metal, progressive metal, melodic death metal, and more.

The album is quite varied, musically, and it never gets bogged down by the trappings of the musical styles contained within. However, I find that my interest in the album is limited by my lack of interest in djent and deathcore, two fundamental elements of the Carthage sound. I suspect that I would better appreciate this album if I were more in tune with those genres, and I would imagine that fans of those styles will find more to like on Salt The Earth. As it stands, it is still a very good album, and the fact that I still willingly listen to it speaks volumes. There is no question that the gentlemen of Carthage are very talented and are excellent songwriters; I’m just not necessarily in tune with their audience.



The Odious - Joint Ventures

The Odious – Joint Ventures

[8th December 2012]

01. Nuchal Cord
02. Ancestral Perplexities
03. The Gynecic Curse
04. Combaticus
05. Minutia
06. A Sheep In Wolf’s Clothing
07. Mer/ka/ba
08. Fail Science!
09. Charlie Guiteau
10. Joint Ventures
11. Houses Of Stone

If you recall, Portland’s The Odious narrowly made my top albums of 2012 when they released Joint Ventures in the 11th hour, but even early on I was struck by the album’s brilliance. I was a fan of the band’s previous release, That Night A Forest Grew, and the band easily expanded their quirky brand of off-kilter death metal to cover a full-length release without losing any of what made their initial release so great. If anything, the expanded run-time simply gave the band more time to be themselves, twisting metal and grindcore together with a more avant-garde sensibility, held together by a knack for writing cohesive songs loaded with memorable hooks.

It is within these winding, psychedelic tunes that such diverse elements meld into something powerful, whether it’s the clean vocal harmonies strongly reminiscent of Alice In Chains, the stabbing chaos that calls to mind the late great SikTh, or the mad dabblings that can only be compared to the legendary Mr. Bungle. Joint Ventures is a difficult album to describe, especially in only two paragraphs, but it is an exhilarating, hallucinogen-fueled ride best experienced for oneself. Fortunately for all of you, the album is available as a free download, something made all the more amazing given just how good this album is.



Blockheads - This World Is Dead

Blockheads – This World Is Dead

[22nd January 2013]
[Relapse Records]

01. Deindividualized
02. Already Slaves
03. Born Among Bastards
04. Final Arise
05. Bastards
06. Awaken
07. This World Is Dead
08. Hidden Terrors
09. All These Dreams…
10. Media Warfare
11. Be A Thorn To Power
12. Human Oil
13. Poisoned Yields
14. To The Dogs
15. Buenos Aires S.C.
16. Crisis Is Killing The Weak
17. Famine
18. Sell Your Flesh
19. Look Down
20. Take Your Pills
21. Digging Graves
22. Pro-Lifers
23. Follow The Bombs
24. Doctrine Of Assured Mutual Destruction
25. Trail Of The Dead

With regard to grindcore, I will readily admit that I am something of a newcomer, after my interest was sparked by the likes of Anaal Nathrakh, Napalm Death, and Pig Destroyer. I consider it a product of my ever-evolving taste in music, but I have discovered that my tolerance for the relentlessness inherent in grindcore’s sound has increased to such a point that I no longer shy away from releases like This World Is Dead, the latest product from French death/grind stalwarts Blockheads. Instead, I have found myself more able to appreciate the sheer aggression present in this sort of music, and subsequently I have found myself exploring some of the genre’s better-known artists.

Blockheads may not necessarily be one of those better-known acts, but This World Is Dead pulls no punches, and with the exception of the doomier intro and album closer, the album bashes away at the sensibilities without pause. The album seems a touch on the long side for a grindcore album, clocking in around 40 minutes, but the album’s final track is 7 minutes and thus accounts for a decent amount of time in itself. Blockheads certainly aren’t much for originality, but when it comes to a genre like grindcore, innovation is not generally the key, and in that respect, these Frenchmen have provided a swift punch to the sternum in audio form.



Bad Religion - True North

Bad Religion – True North

[22nd January 2013]
[Epitaph Records]

01. True North
02. Past Is Dead
03. Robin Hood In Reverse
04. Land Of Endless Greed
05. Fuck You
06. Dharma And The Bomb
07. Hello Cruel World
08. Vanity
09. In Their Hearts Is Right
10. Crisis Time
11. Dept. Of False Hope
12. Nothing To Dismay
13. Popular Consensus
14. My Head Is Full Of Ghosts
15. The Island
16. Changing Tide

Bad Religion are quite easily a top-5 band for me, so it’s no particular surprise that True North was one of my most eagerly anticipated releases of 2013. I had some apprehension, of course; while 2007′s New Maps Of Hell was a brilliant album that recalled the band at its best, 2010′s The Dissent Of Man was uneven and was ultimately a disappointment. It was a pleasant discovery, then, that True North finds the band returning to form once again, cranking out short, energetic songs filled with Greg Graffin‘s insightful, intelligent lyrics and the lush vocal harmonies that Bad Religion are known for.

As with much of their recent output, I don’t see the necessity of having three guitarists (I can understand not wanting to unseat two excellent guitarists back when Brett Gurewitz returned to the band, however), although Gurewitz and Brian Baker certainly earn their money as backing vocalists. The album is solid from beginning to end, with the only notable misstep being ‘Hello Cruel World‘, a slower song placed right in the middle of the album that severely disrupts the album’s momentum. (Even so, I find the song is slowly growing on me with repeat listens.) With True North, Bad Religion handily remind me of why they are my favorite punk band of all time. The album stands as a splendid return to form and a reminder to all that punk is not entirely dead.


Professor D. Grover the XIIIth