In terms of sociopolitics, 2019 was not exactly the most stable time — and neither was some of its most captivating music.
Die Choking – IV
The Philly group Die Choking’s latest album IV very quickly proves spectacularly caustically frantic. With their spastic, punked-up grind sonic attacks, the band feel like they have truly captured a viscerally gripping, sincere portrait of manic meltdowns. The sound structure is top notch: while the crushing music never leaves much breathing room, the band sometimes alternate between having their spiraling guitars and their thundering, frenzied drums in the spotlight, with plenty of time when both gears grind at once. Even as the musical world that the band construct blows up over and over again, the sonic precision ensures that the core mania really sticks, like you’re trapped between those gears and can’t escape.
They’ve brought fury-soaked, mental mania to life and completely dived in. The more that listeners creep towards the core of this wildly spinning beast, the more mayhem emerges. The band’s sound feels reminiscent of early Converge thanks to the thundering punk beats that reverberate through the relentlessly vicious IV, but Die Choking add rounds of additional manic guitar spirals that turn their music into more of a whirlwind, which they perform with absolutely blistering speed.
Diploid – Glorify
The title is where the hints of pleasantry begin and end on Glorify, the new album from Australia’s Diploid, which is available via Art as Catharsis, Black Wire Records, and Lacklustre Records. The album combines raw noise soundscapes, manic grind attacks, and deranged beats into a morphing, monstrous picture of mental derangement that heaves out with volatile determination. The album feels like a portrait of a mind that has been crushed to the point beyond misery where there’s some kind of mindless bliss and acceptance of the pain, which here rolls out with crushing intensity, no matter the exact sounds that Diploid are performing. From the tortured roars and screams of the vocal work to the similarly tortured sounding, prodding grind of the music, Glorify transcends.
It’s like the soundtrack of going into shock after a terrible accident. Although the band remain totally unpredictable, there’s not really any freedom, considering their relentlessly pained-sounding, sludgy musical march. Yet, there also remains an intricate, crucial tapestry to explore.
False – Portent
The Minneapolis black metal band False sound like they’re summoning raging, all-consuming fire from the earth on their 2019 album Portent, which is available via Gilead Media. The album only contains four tracks, three of which stretch more than ten minutes — and there is never a single dull moment. The guitar and drum work build twisting, intricate sonic pummeling, but the band don’t stop there. They build these contorted, blast beat and riff driven onslaughts into a powerful beast that does not ever truly let up, no matter the gradually unfolding, slight dynamics that do eventually appear. The whole really feels like even more than the sum of its parts here — the effect of the building music leading into more and more physically crushing, metaphysically miserable, raging animalism sparks an immersive experience that’s not at all easily forgotten. It’s taking struggles through misery to gripping cosmic heights.
Even the vocal work feels specially tailored to this aim. Sometimes, even in black metal terms, it’s incomprehensible. The sonically massive album doesn’t just feel like personal misery; it’s like the apocalyptic sound of the world falling apart.
Fluoride – Disentanglement
Available via Nerve Altar, much of the NYC/Philly grind group Fluoride’s new album Disentanglement feels like it’s all falling out at once. What sounds like the performances of a dozen chaotic grind bands run right alongside each other, and thanks to the repeatedly surging beatdowns and occasional slowed down, miserably sludgier portions that this group include, the wild mix feels just accessible enough to let you into the chaos. The band establish footholds of hypnotic beats pulsating through the musical muck, and then they rip the access point away and let the stunningly raw and furious grinding guitar and blasting drums pile up.
Maintained right alongside that expert musical agility, the sheer power of Disentanglement shines brightly. The record feels like both letting it all out — seriously, all — and an assertion of inescapable opposition to those pushing interpersonal and social oppression. All of this spiraling energy has got to go somewhere, after all. The powerful vocal work sounds somewhere between a shriek and a roar, and it helps define the music’s apparent positioning as a lethally sharpened sonic dagger.
Oxx – This Skeleton is Just a Coat Hanger; These Are the Black Strings That Make You Dance
The Danish crew Oxx’s new album This Skeleton is Just a Coat Hanger; These Are the Black Strings That Make You Dance, which is available from Nefarious Industries, feels like some monstrously anthropomorphized beast captured in absolutely unhinged sonic form.
The band veer through pounding hardcore riff attacks, frantically thudded out drum rhythms, and lunatic accompanying experimentation (like what sounds like some kind of meandering horn), and the final result delivers simultaneous demanding exertion and wild thrills. These pieces don’t fit together in any kind of nice, orderly fashion, even in terms of extreme music. Rather, this album’s musical frontier constitutes bizarreness within extremity. While muffled roars about silencing the voices (among other themes) bounce around, the band’s instrumentation endlessly sputters and spins around. Melodic riff ideas feel never quite completed; instead, they’re abruptly abandoned and lopped off, and something else grippingly ghastly grows. That process unfolds over and over again throughout the album, and the band’s obvious relentless determination to make every sound pop holds this heaving beast together. The piece quickly proves an absolutely wild ride to step into.
portrayal of guilt – Suffering is a Gift
If you couldn’t guess as much based on the title alone, 2019 Suffering is a Gift EP from the increasingly prolific Texas group portrayal of guilt doesn’t exactly have any soft edges. Available via Closed Casket Activities, it’s intensely (and captivatingly) anthemic misery packed into six tracks that together total less than ten minutes. No matter the short runtime, the both intricate and relentlessly pummeling music feels dazzling, like it’s the swan song of a volatile wanderer who’s found some kind of home. When vocalist Matt King harshly belts out the screamed sentiment on “Scarcity” that he believes in nothing and no one, you just about can’t help but fist-pump along, even if that’s while hanging on a metaphorical cliff edge.
Although the first track consists mainly of noisy sound effect-driven sonic nausea and a blast beat attack amplified to what’s got to be a physical limit, the crushing melody on that track “Scarcity” (among other points) exemplifies the majestically dark musical power that the band have really packed in here. After that, the group’s relentless power packs epic, blackened chaos-driven sweeps, more noisy fogs, and more, topped off by King’s shredding screams that evoke thoughts of Converge’s Jacob Bannon at his harshest.