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CVLT Nation’s Label Spotlight: KING OF THE MONSTERS

When I think of record labels that are willing to take chances with the music they put out, KING OF THE MONSTERS is always at the top of the list. Mike Genz, the force behind this sonic house of radness, has great taste in music and his loyalty to quality is evident in everything he releases. Some of my favorite all time pieces of vinyl have come out on his roster. I could sit and talk about all of the different genres you will find on KING OF THE MONSTERS, but I think it’s better for you to hear it for yourself. So below, check out CVLT Nation’s feature on a label puts it down like no other! KING OF THE MONSTERS Records RULES HARD!!!

1. BLOOD BRIGHT STAR: The Silver Head

I was fortunate enough to find out about Blood Bright Star when they released their split album with High Aura’d (which you should also check out). It was obvious to me back then that this project of visual artist Reuben Sawyer was mesmerizing music. The blend of psychedelic influences, drone and noise alongside deathrock and krautrock was done in such an intriguing fashion that you simply could not ignore Blood Bright Star. Since then, Sawyer also released Solar Infinite, which further explored the unique nature of the project, and now Blood Bright Star takes things even further into this psychotic analysis with The Silver Head.

“Ash Through Aethyr” starts things off, and the mystical auras of Blood Bright Star take over immediately. The disturbing melodies, alongside the huge bass line, come and greet you, creating a great foundation for the track. Soon the vocals join in and seem as if they are conveying a message from beyond the stars, as Sawyer uses the dreary structure of his song in order to create a ritualistic ambiance. The result is amazing, with the songs sounding so intense. And it feels as if the band is forcing you to pay attention to their music, never blinking. Read More HERE!

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2. GOG: S/T

Drone doom has a history of pioneering bands drastically changing the concepts and pre-supposed definitions of it, and that includes both well-known acts such as Earth and more obscure ones like They Yearn For What They Fear. There is a refreshing element in almost all bands in that cycle that isn’t there, among likes of the so-called post-metal scene. It’s staggering because one would have expected a minimal outlook to have had the opposite effect of castrating every possibility of novelty, but here every act turns out to possess threshold of its own, a mood of its own, or even a way of evaporating the mood of its own. And that goes for GOG, too.

If Om encompass Tibetan grooves, eastern riffs, and religious concepts; and if Bong incorporate space rock with ancient matters in hand, then GOG must be remembered for their blend of lo-fi noise, black metal, and Kafkaesque imagery. The self-titled album works that out as marvelously as possible. Their soundscapes are rotten, their sense of emotion both gone and present, and their look into the future neither optimistic nor pessimistic. GOG is a one-man project — featuring Mike Bjella of Unruh and Wellington on all duties except drums — true, but the soul of each instrument stands out as divergent as lost from the suffering body of their architect. This is quite a fine demonstration of T.S. Eliot’s modernist notion of depersonalization being practiced in a postmodern framework. Read more HERE!

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3. UZALA: Tales of Blood and Fire

Uzala is one of the most exciting listens I have recently come across. Including members of legendary doom/sludge outfit Graves At Sea, blackened doom overlords Atriarch and the newly formed funeral doom destructive force Ephemeros (if you have not done so yet, you should definitely check out their debut album) and with Darcy Nutt taking over the main vocal duties and shares the guitar work with Chad Remains, the band becomes more and more intriguing by the second. And if you consider that Tales of Blood and Fire is coming out just a year after their self-titled debut you can only stand in awe in front of the band’s ability to conjure material of such high quality.

What becomes obvious about the music of the band is that it is quite dim. The combination of their doom metal foundation and the inclusion of some sludge-y bits along with their psychedelic influences make this album quite dark… and therefore absorbing. And what acts as the perfect contrast to the band’s heavy sound is Nutt’s unbelievable voice. Slicing through the huge sounds and slow riffs, it is wondrous to behold and it makes the whole journey through Uzala’s mystical realm even more enthralling. Even when the parts are heavy and full, as is the case with the peaks that the band reaches in “Countess”, she is giving the music an even more thunderous edge. And what is even more impressive is what she is able to do when the music is stripped down, as is the case with the hypnotizing “Dark Days”, a psychedelic sonic trip through the dark passages of the mind with Nutt accompanying you along the way proving that she has a voice that can simply transcend genres. Read more HERE!

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4. Suffering Luna with The Astronaut King/Suffer the Storm Split

Suffering Luna go a long way back. The psychedelic hardcore band was formed back in the ‘90s but has not been very active. They released a couple of split albums, one with sludge/crust overlords Dystopia and the other with Gasp, and then vanished from the scene for about fifteen years. They still returned in 2011 with their first self-titled full-length, followed by the Blood Filled Bong Cassette EP and now they are coming back for this split release, acquiring the assistance of Ian Covelli aka The Astronaut King. The inclusion of the psychedelic space ambient artist helps come up with the trippy “Most High,” which marks their contribution to this album.

The vibe of Suffering Luna is quite hardcore-based with a lot of sludge thrown in there for good measure. Their music has great groove and does not leave you for even a second to catch your breath. And this band is making sure as hell that this trip is going to be interesting. They throw in some frantic parts with sudden drops and smearing the foundations of their song with very well laid out guitar work. The crazy leads about two minutes into the song fit great, while the band even goes and includes solo parts which grow increasingly insane. And those fucking lead parts about five minutes in sound fucking infernal to say the very least. But what is even more impressive, at least to me, is their sonic manipulation of effects. Throughout the track, the band makes sure that you will not find a dull moment – including strange sounds in their music – constantly building soundscapes and destroying them. Especially the more noise-y part about three minutes into the song, and the effects they use alongside the guitar solo are just amazing to behold. Read more HERE!

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5. ALTARS: Live on Pure Hate

American Black Metal outfit Altars aren’t afraid to draw influences from unorthodox sources. In a recent interview with Regress Magazine, they cited noise legend Prurient as a major source of inspiration; and it shows. A three piece, consisting of J. Hartings on drums, J. Dorsey on vocals and guitar, and M. Reis crafting a wall of punishing noise, Altars have an expansiveness to their sound that evokes the industrial clamor of an abandoned factory grinding to a halt. Raw, but not muddy. Noisey, but not amelodic, Altars is one of the finest realizations of blackened noise on the scene.
 

Following the success of their epic split with Halla, Altars Live on Pure Hate weighs in at five tracks. The introduction set’s the stage to this record. A noisy, crunchy industrial piece that swells to violent extremes by it’s midpoint. The sound of steel on steel, the drone of a distant motor, sparse percussion that builds under layers of noise. Clearly drawing inspiration from the harsh noise and power electronics that Reis cites as an influence, it posits a different strand of black metal. Born not in the dark forests of the north, but of the hellscape of modern industry. As guitar kicks in we hit the first real track on this album, “The Slain God”. The noise transitions clearly from the intro here, but with a simple, crystal clear riff driving this along we’ve clearly entered black metal territory. After chugging along for a minute, all hell breaks loose as the vocals drop in. Distorted and distant, they offer a stark contrast to the clean guitar. Read more HERE!

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6. GATECREEPER: S/T

Crushing! Gatecreeper gate-crash the crowded Swedeath d-beat hybrid scene with true destructive power. Don’t want to wait til you can bang your head to the breakdown, Gatecreeper have you covered. A little groove helps, as the band spend little time dilly-dallying with melodic touches, and get on with the hardcore bash. This death metal rocks like an axe chopping a huge chunk of log in half!

The rhythm section provides soundtrack to a demolition, as the bass rumbles and the drums get pounded into oblivion. The riffs are catchy power-chord buzzsaw swipes of the thick strings, down-tuned for one purpose – make you bang your fucking head!

You’ll love standout track, Overdose, for its monster girth and gurgling bellow. The bass is amped on this album and it helps a lot. This is dirty, sewage-seeped death metal for those who like their music stinky, sweaty, and well-done in the worst ways known to alt rockers. Read more HERE!

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7. LUSITANIA s/t LP

Lusitania: these black metal terrorists first struck with a rehearsal tape that quickly sold out on Bandcamp. Now they have come out of hiding to strike again with this self-titled lp that is being released by King of the Monsters Records. This is going to be another limited release, with only 300 copies being pressed on clear vinyl. In truth, this Phoenix, Arizona-based project has been hiding in plain sight, as this filthy piece of work was created by the members of Gay Kiss, Dealing, Sacred Followers and Detached Objects. The rehearsal tapes were a little too raw for my tastes, as the guitars might have been a snarling wall of sound, but they were also largely indecipherable. The project’s 2014 release is more coherent sonically, holding more musicality within the din of depravity. The metallic buzz of the guitars rings out into more than just a drone, even over the more blurred blast beats. The songs vary in lengths from eight minute drifts into bleakness to compact two minute songs that have almost a punk punch in their straightforward delivery. Read more HERE!

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