Screams from the Gutter Vol. IV: Dying Is for the Better
In this episode of Screams from the Gutter, we bring you some bitterness, some filth, some morbid introspection, some loss and a ton of gloom. If these bands ended up in this series, it means three things mainly: 1) I’m clusterfucked with work and can’t for the life of me find the end of my list of awesome bands I keep running into; 2) that is no excuse to leave these bands un-talked about; and 3) THEY FUCKING RULE.
1. ARGENTAVIS – Split with Dispara
Argentavis was a massive and now extinct prehistoric condor-like bird that was so huge, its simple wingspan could block out the sun… One indicator about this band’s music that bears this massive bird’s name could be just this: it’s huge-sounding punk and it’s very epic. Hailing from Santa Rosa, northern California, ARGENTAVIS are an archetypical crust d-beat band. Seriously, these guys have it all: filthy sound, raging breakdowns, rioting anthems, soaring soloing, pounding and bashing rhythm section, and a ton of heart-splitting intensity and rage. The band is comprised of members of Deras Krig, Hellbomber and Shadow of Progress, and these two songs, released as a split with Seattle’s Dispara, serve as their first ever outing put to tape, to be released soon on a split 7″. Argentavis are a raging ride, and in their sorrowful, embittered, dark and apocalyptic d-beat assault you will hear clear influences coming from bands like Tragedy, From Ashes Rise, Doom, Discharge, Amebix, Totalitar, Skysystem and the such. It’s amazing to see such young bands appear on the face of the earth for the first time with solid and confrontational musical statements. This band is a rager!
2. xTOM HANx – Posers from Space
Alright, sometimes shit just gets retarded. Sometimes shit is just demented. Sometimes shit just fucks with you. Where is the line between awesome and awesome? Ask xTOM HANx from Sacramento, cause they drew it. They will drink your beer, smoke all your weed, trash your house and then laugh in your face. Why? ‘Cause they can of course. ‘Cause they are AUTHORIZED to. In fact, they rule, so they should be able to do whatever the fuck they want. So open your wallet and give them more money so they can go down the street to the liquor store and buy more booze so they can keep up their filthy craft and keep pounding out their demented, hallucinating, narcotic-fueled stonerviolence. IT’S YOUR MORAL DUTY TO DO SO…. xTom Hanx come from Sactown, CA, and this sick band is comprised of two dudes from Sacramento death-grind destruction machine Plague Widow and another dude from notorious Oakland-based blackened sludge pillagers Augurs (you read that right – your argument is invalid, go home, these dudes are the shit). xTom Hanx is to be considered the three dudes’ own take on powerviolence, but there is no place for self-righteousness or pretension here, everything must be instead humiliatingly fucked up. So filthy and corroded and senseless that you gasp in awe, wondering how the fuck these three managed to create something so demented and obliterating. I just wanna say this album sounds like a weird and fucked up cocktail of Anal Cunt, Spazz, Siege, Sikfuk, Weedeater and and a rabid Ewok, but take that with a grain of salt…. From the song titles to the song structures themselves, to the sound, to the production – literally every fucking corner of this album sounds like the band is just fucking with you big time and pulling your every string, while you (the real cretin in this equation) try to figure out if they are for real or not. Regardless, there is nothing out there quite like this, no one has ever come up with something so slanted, weird and fucked, so you have no choice: get down with it or get the fuck out. If you are too uptight you’re gonna hate this shit, if you like to smoke weed, get drunk and enjoy loud, fast and angry shit, then this shit will be your bliss.
3. EALDATH – Ancient Oath
Time for the slime bog. EALDATH are purveyors of filth, loss and despair. Their filthy and crusted sludge/doom is a slow burning of flesh. A sonic coma that crawls in a stasis. The riffs are filthy and bloated with sorrow and feedback but have an eerie taste of tracing guitar melodies and soaring solos that is captivating. In some of these more upbeat and sustained moments, the band has a weird viking/folk slant to it that can remind us of bands like Ancient VVisdom or Woods of Ypres, but for the rest, shit stays filthy, heavy, downtuned and just fucking scummy, keeping the roots of the band firmly anchored in sludge and crust. In the same way, the vocals never go after any kind of refined or melodic solution, opting to always come out in a hateful and putrid bellow. The term “funeral Sludge” comes to mind listening to this band, as they sound like a really fucked up splicing of Loss and Iron Monkey. Basically, this band is as filth-ridden and emotionally captivating as it gets, and their songs are real funeral dirges for all the sorrowful people out there.
4. BARREN ALTAR – A Monument to Endless Suffering
I saw this band live just the other day, after knowing virtually nothing of them, and they fucking crushed my spine and bent it in half under the immense weight of their plague-ridden riffs. BARREN ALTAR hail from Santa Rosa, CA, and A Monument to Endless Suffering is their debut offering – four songs of slimy, disembodied, suffocating and lurid blackened doom, that regardless of the quality purveyed on tape, do not do this band entirely justice, as in the live environment they simply fucking annihilate you. They sound like an insane mix of Coffinworm, Whitehorse (minus the noise parts), Thou and Cough with weird and ambiguous folk or nature-tinted striations cutting through their sound as if the aforementioned bands were infected by the ancient seeds of bands like Primordial, early Enslaved or Wolves in the Throne Room. In fact, far from being a monotone “slow” doom band, Barren Altar often launch with ease into mauling gallops of pillaging black metal, and are masters at creating extremely dynamic, unpredictable, and captivating blackened doom. Keep an eye on these heavy lads, I have a feeling we’ll be hearing much from them in the future.
5. ION – Self Titled
From San Francisco hails the mysterious progressive black metal band called ION, a threesome of young lads who craft some of the most ambitious, winding, celestial and intricate progressive black metal I have heard around the Bay in a long time. The band weaves many styles of black metal perfectly, creating their own personal formula of epic and technical black metal in a masterful way. With long and vast compositions of twisting and boiling progressive black metal, this self-titled debut by the San Francisco band is definitely not something for those with short attention spans. This band’s music demands patience, focus and a full immersion into their craft to allow the songs to carry you away and let the band show the far away places they have uncovered in writing their music. You can hear the dense, layered thickness of Wolves in the Throne Room and Drudkh in these songs, as the introspective and celestial craft of bands like Agalloch, Primordial and Fen, as well as sorrowful and grim overtones of bands like Woods of Desolation, Altar of Plagues and Secrets of the Moon. Overall, for being the debut of a young band, Ion is a very ambitious and accomplished work, showing how this band can still grow and evolve their sound, but that already shows a maturity and musicianship that is very hard to grasp.