As the Polish musical machine punches on through the steel and mortar that blocks them, Sacrilegium erupts as a monolith from the 1990’s; a stain on music as black as the lyrical settings that their music portrays. Without question, Sacrilegium is a diamond in the rough of black metal that is centered around the themes of individual spirituality, nature, impending darkness, and the final moments of Paganism that now come forth, in a full circle type manner in 2017 with their newest release, Ritual (EP).
A journey to animosity follows with the Polish black metal monsters, as Sacrilegium manages to spawn an endless onslaught of perpetual assaults through consistent poundings on the percussion which is led by MG 42, the slicing guitar and vocals handled by Suclagus, and the ripping chords through Hellthorn handled on the bass. As a unit, Sacrilegium moves together and focuses on keeping a tight-knit on their trifecta. Even as the Ritual (EP) only barely reaches into the fourteen-minute span, Sacrilegium creates a hellish world of damnation and suffering. The band resembles a cultist styling as they function like clockwork, playing off of the energy of each member and capitalizing on creating truly crushing blows that resonate over and over again. In a professional manner, Sacrilegium is frightening at times and bares their teeth through the entire journey. In a literal sense, Sacrilegium is a crisp ride on a chimera that rejuvenates the system and takes a quick dash for the kill in a necessary time frame.
The tracks on Ritual (EP) manage to bleed into each other and never feel as though they drag on. Even while keeping the sound rather similar to each other, they still feature slight breakdowns where Suclagus will have a featured part in perhaps a solo on the guitar or a spotlight for his vocals. The same can be said for the other members, both MG 42 and Hellthorn who have specific sections of a track mapped out to fit their play styles. This gives Sacrilegium an extended edge when creating a diversity within their sound. To break up the monotony, they decide to layer additional instruments like synthesizers, backing vocals, and other atmospheric sounds to fill some of the voids left by the band.
For an example, on the self-titled track, “Ritual”, there is a gentle use of ethereal voices to lead in the instruments like hunting giants on a smaller prey. The voices are overpowering to an extent and follow a continuous pattern of containing some sort of other-worldly entity in black metal, but Sacrilegium uses the bleeding seguing motions to their advantage as “Ritual” moves into fruition. It becomes a swift, balancing act between a vicious frenzy of blast beats and continually pulverizing musical sense that only until succumbing to the final moments of silence does it finally cease.
Ritual (EP) is a standing ovation to the old days of metal music and a call to arms for showing new bands how it can be done again. Sacrilegium does not exactly flip the script and provide any ideas that are entirely new or from the deep recesses, but it does provide a substantial look into the future album being released by Sacrilegium sometime this year. Black metal can become an oversaturated medium by some standards, but Sacrilegium manages to stay on top of the incoming competition as they have done for the past near thirty-years.
Deep within the Norwegian forests lays an unruly evil, a darkness that surrounds the trees and engulfs the night sky. There is a horrible cloud that oversees the emptiness of the foreboding forest, because there is something that lurked in those forests years ago. An entity known to man as Darkthrone stalked the woods, perfecting a witches’ concoction of low-fidelity recordings and relentless alchemy that created one of the highest rated Black Metal albums in musical history. From Darkthrone’s twisted mind to another, Transilvanian Hunger dawned the white-painted faces, the black-stricken clothing, and the midnight skies of flame once again.
To put class in an art form is a feat only achieved by those who are masters of their craft, those who dedicate time in and off the clock to construct new meaning into their path. To change what surrounds them for the better and to produce for those in the future, to be led by their example and understand how to create history. The Alchemist is the man that never takes a day off as he has created countless projects, done hundreds of beats, and spent what seems like an unlimited amount of time in the recording studio. His limits know no bounds and strike straight into the hearts of millions. While moving on, Israeli Salad is not just a delicious dish, but it brings an enticing entrée of Middle Eastern style with all the flair of American Hip-Hop.
“Arrival” is anything but a standard finger-food for the opening meeting, Israeli Salad is at first glance a beautiful arrangement of glorious guitars and gentle percussion while it slowly begins to segue into the true “meat” of the record where The Alchemist can put forth some instrumentals that include chopped but not screwed samples of classical piano, bass riffs, and vocals. What The Alchemist does on Israeli Salad seems as if it was created by black magic and runes, but it is more simply put as an adventure of sound that both enthralls and displays a prowess to the musical ability. From the new, more rapid styling on tracks like “Collage Pt. 3: Rush Hour”, and the fluttering sounds of “Chetzi”, to the boom-bap styling of “Turn This Sh*t Up Pt. 2” or the subtle climbs of “Matzik”. It appears as though when given even the strangest of sampling material, The Alchemist can make a masterpiece.
He reaches deep into the different regions of sounds and pulls out some head-moving, feet-stamping, true to life hip-hop that any producer could not have even dreamed of. Israeli Salad is a shorter project, reaching only thirty-seven minutes; but it still has an incredible amount of depth behind it as well. The twenty-track behemoth manages to keep the attention, while shifting consistently, but also plays out long enough to reach a substantial full feeling. Even as the tracks change, the beats shift, and the dust settles, The Alchemist blends genres of music and shows dozens of diamonds on the tracks, like “Meduza” where he segues from the previous “Yala Yala” and continues moving with a breath-taking guitar solo and drum fills that sound ripped straight from heaven. It feels like a full band was recorded and not just one man behind the MPC (Music Production Controller).
The final moments of Israeli Salad are just as alluring as the opening notes. Israeli Salad shows more as an expedition than just another record, the transpiring beats are sent as a message to break the boundaries that lay before you, open up your eyes to the surrounding sounds, and keep an ear out for what lays ahead of you. The Alchemist is a proven master of mixing beats, cutting selections, and finding samples; with an open ear, it can change the world.
Thrash metal is an organic instrument of malicious intent that when executed correctly, can shift entire hoards of people into lunatics. Cryptic Slaughter is a diamond in the rough that strikes viciously and swiftly, their swords are sharpened guitars and blitzing percussion. Rushed from the punk-esque vocals and the over-the-top guitar solos, Cryptic Slaughter moves from the sunny beaches of Santa Monica, California, into your home and around your mental within minutes. Not only is their sound a universal groundbreaker for thrash music, but it was a quick manipulator of other artists that surrounded Cryptic Slaughter, spawning a wave of rapid assaults that seemed nearly endless.
Their debut full-length record, Convicted is a monumental punch and manages to shake the airwaves and punish the Earth as it moves; striking fear into those who get surrounded in the noisy cloud. From the first seconds of “M.A.D.” where the bass and percussion hit together in syncopated rhythms to build this sudden push within the musical lines and a push for a revolution in the pits, Cryptic Slaughter is angrier than ever from start to finish. With Bill Crooks handling the vocals, Les Evans on guitar, Rob “Blasko” Nicholson, and Scott Peterson on the percussion, Cryptic Slaughter was a quick wrecking force of ballistic intent. Every track has an entirely similar sound where it creates the simple but effective, two-step style on the percussion with hi-hats and cymbals crashing and clashing every moment. There is also a sudden audacity behind their actions to make a hybrid animal of both punk music and hardcore, seamlessly blending the two into one destructive beast.
With several moments appearing to be horrific through lyrical expression, the track “Lowlife” is a sullen mixture of both hopeless questioning and political prowess. From the lines that discuss, “What the hell is going on? I feel like I’m dead, is it life around me… or am I fucked in the head…” to the passage that describes, “…There is no way out, you’ll just have to fight it out. No useless world to save, nuke threat and no escape.” Cryptic Slaughter came up in a time where many artists where describing their disdain for the Reagan Administration and throughout Conviction, there are many references to both Ronald Reagan and the government’s power over the general population.
In the following track “State Control”, Crooks mentions to his audience, “Born to live, then to die, never ask the question why. State control by mindless men, believe in death, they live to win.” There is a sudden disconnect from the thrash sectioning of Cryptic Slaughter as they instead adopt a surf-rock approach for the introduction of the track. A memorable riff that balances between something both new-waving, and the rough edges of punk music. The riff is soon abandoned as the percussion moves back into a two-step that introduces Crooks and the other instrumentalists that rage with iron fists. Cryptic Slaughter decided to run with born-hard aggressive tactics of drilling a message with music and resorting to the primal instincts to display their agenda. It is satisfying however and works well when paired with the constant pounding featured on Convicted.
Even through the noise-ridden tracks that follow, Cryptic Slaughter keeps a mostly consistent style of making the loudest message possible. Whether it be a frantic fight with paranoia, or to the overthrowing of the United States Government, Cryptic Slaughter is a band that brings a new element to a quite old classic sound. One of the originators of thrash/death metal, Convicted is an instrumentalist dream living within the hard-hitting reality. From the rapid guitar work to the final moments of winding down, Cryptic Slaughter does it swiftly and efficiently.
Danny Brown hails from Motor City, Detroit, the infamous city of industrial beginnings and humble homes. From the downtown areas of sprawling city life to the urbanized factories of yesteryear, Brown emerges from the rubble, born anew from the ashes of a decaying nation. He spreads his metaphorical and lyrical wings to reach into the unknown grasps of experimentation with his newest masterpiece, Atrocity Exhibition.
Brown has always been a frontrunner of using hip-hop musical style and a clashing abrasiveness to display a prowess toward showcasing an exciting and comedic element that had been seemingly missing from music. The lyrical style is brash, near slapstick at times, but never ceases to be an amazing standout display of raw, unfiltered emotion. From the bitter moments of “Downward Spiral” where Brown explains in a horrific manner; a display of loneliness, depression, substance abuse, and the uneasy feeling of emotional frustration. Brown explains, “Everybody say, you got a lot to be proud of, been high this whole time, don’t realize what I done. Cause when I’m all alone, feel like no once care, isolate myself and don’t go nowhere…Drowning frustrations in a ocean of sin, thinking irrational, I have no emotions.” This is the powerful catalyst for Brown’s emotional flooding and is the seguing momentum that Brown capitalizes on when shifting the boundaries from shades of tone on tracks like “Ain’t it Funny”, “Tell Me What I Don’t Know” to the final moments of Atrocity Exhibition with “When It Rain”, where the attitude of the tracks change, but the tone and approach stays consistent.
There are moments of downright shadows on Atrocity Exhibition, where Danny Brown reaches into the ill-tempered recesses of the mind and takes those levels of emotional agony into a creative outreaching position. Not only is he managing to put forth a level of lyricism that is both mature and engaging, but he is also able to create a window into the darkness that surrounds fame, the chains of material possession, and the inner psyche of someone who might just possibly be insane. The track “Lost” is a prime example of how Brown manages to show this darker side of the mirror that represents Brown, but how he also still keeps his older, more childish style of lyricism where Brown explains, “I’m like Spielberg with lil ill words and hoes on that curb, gotta screw loose, I’m cuckoo, mentally disturbed but still smart enough to hit this bitch with a rubber.” It is the moments like these on Atrocity Exhibition where Brown shows his creative output while managing to still put a comedic spin on his twisted path and situations. Even with this being a mainly emotional disturbed album with lots of pitfalls that Danny Brown expresses through his own fish-eyed perception of the world around him, there are at times where Atrocity Exhibition is a beautiful album. The instrumentals are some of the most other-worldly and of the most off-the-wall style that it is incredible how Brown can somehow mold them to fit his style and manage to approach these beasts with a ready smile on his face.
Shifting momentum can be a difficult process for any producer or MC, but Brown uses his experience to launch into “White Lines” which is another track that really stands out for both the instrumental and for delivery on Brown’s aspect where he lyrically stands as a heavyweight. The hook of “White Lines” as perceived revolves around the topic of cocaine, but Brown leads a different type of perspective, Brown begins, “Lines and lines of coke, heart beating hope it ain’t my time to go. Take another snort, no way, no no… Lines and lines of coke, nose bleeding got me with an itchy throat. Heart beating fast, oh no, oh no, oh no.” All while the carnival-esque instrumental backs Brown in this constant clash of the light-hearted party style that Danny once had, to the now introverted style of beat selection that Brown sided with on this project.
Even before this on the hip-hop heavyweight track, “Really Doe” which features Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and other shadowy rapper, Earl Sweatshirt whose last project, “I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside” was another mostly depressive project that featured an introspective look into the personal life and new-found maturity within the career level. “Really Doe” is a truly explosive track and while it was featured as a single off the record, it is still an instant crowd mover when it rears its head on Atrocity Exhibition even now. While it is the most approachable track off of Atrocity Exhibition, it still features the only more up beat, straight-forward style of hip-hop track on the entire record.
Then as the final moments of Atrocity Exhibition flash in the distance, Brown still has a few tricks up his sleeve with one of the last cuts, “When It Rain” where Brown shows for one last time that he can rap on any style and he really does come through and shine through the strange, schizophrenic, and rapidly-tapping instrumental ripped straight from Brown’s blitzing mind. There are sections on this track where Brown just lets loose and begins an onslaught of his usual clapping lyricism, Brown near shouts, “Oh, you ain’t know that when it rain, when it pour, get your ass on the floor now. Oh, you ain’t know that did you? Better duck when you hear them gun shots go off, pop off when them shots go off, knock off, you tried to play me soft.” Brown then continues on to say, “Glocks all in your face, dog, no baseball, better run home. Hit ya lung, blood on your tongue, Exorcist, your head get spun, Exodus, I might forget. Bitch, when it’s time for your ass be done.” Throughout Atrocity Exhibition, Brown manages to exhibit a solid look into the true working mechanisms behind his career movements and the way that he operates.
Danny Brown might not be a reliable narrator for some of the stories that he personally embodies, but Brown makes Atrocity Exhibition a true to life display of exactly how horrible decisions can make for an electrifying experience and artistic outflow that captures in essence what it means to change the straight-forward styles of hip-hop, blending the lines of genre, and making for an experimental art show that reflects the darkest side of one man’s personal journey.
Beauty and grace are always common subjects in music, but none do it so significantly or as extraordinary as the prodigious Allman Brothers Band. With Duane and Gregg Allman as the front runners of The Allman Brothers Band; the rest of the company followed directly behind as each member featured on their self-titled, debut record, The Allman Brothers Band is an incredible addition, leading like monumental members of their own sections. Together, The Allman Brothers Band would become a memorable, quotable, and loveable group from “Where Florida Begins”, none other than Jacksonville, Florida.
The band started as nothing more than just simple a jam band, but would eventually turn into something entirely larger than life. With each member fulfilling their own duty, becoming outstanding in their own style of playing and in their own field. With Duane Allman on the slide and lead guitars, Gregg Allman on the organ and leading vocals, Dickey Betts on the lead guitar, Berry Oakley preforming on bass guitar and background vocals, Jai Johanny Johanson on the percussion, as well as Butch Trucks leading on the percussion as well. Not only were The Allman Brothers Band substantially tight in their musical playing, but they often times performed with one set of two different percussionists at a time. This could mean that Johanson would be performing on the congas while Trucks performed the actual sectional set drum parts; and vice-versa. Often times, there were two drummers playing a set a time and made for a grand stage performance live. The backing instruments are just as important as the leading instruments and are often times thrust into the foreground with solos or breaks in the standard line-up.
Moments where this is especially true is the track, “Dreams” which is closer to the end of The Allman Brothers Band’s Self-Titled, but still an important track to highlight for the use of Gregg Allman’s organ and just how incredible he was at such a young age of twenty-one years old. No one in the recording process of The Allman Brothers Band was over twenty-five at the time and this is not only an incredible feat in sound, but also an incredible accomplishment in creative art at such young stages in life. As “Dreams” continues on, it becomes one of the most beautiful tracks to ever be created by The Allman Brothers Band as it continues gently, but is moving in the way that a stream or current would be. It is soft in approach and almost soothing to hear, Gregg’s instantly recognizable sound is projected perfectly and gracefully. The following instrumentalists tread closely behind his leading hand and play elegantly; in a subtle, but fluent manner.
The final moments of The Allman Brothers Band is just as eloquent as the start of the record, but picks the pace up with “Whipping Post”, a definite crowd favorite and explosive ending to an outstanding piece of wonder. Almost coexisting within that defined beauty of the first half, “Whipping Post” is a straight-forward attack of rocking momentum, but slows to a dramatic crawl of howling high-pitch guitar that echoes in eternity with a memorable statement. That guitar will forever resonate within The Allman Brothers Band as being one of the essential pieces to grace their musical talent. When paired with the sudden momentum shifts and the constant organ and backing instruments that reign through the silence as instruments of pure acoustic beauty. “Whipping Post” is magical and a perfect closing to an artistic zenith that only continued to climb years after the initial release.
From the masterminds of pure, unfiltered beauty; The Allman Brothers Band becomes a staple in music history for their unending influences on other musicians and for making an album that is simple in concept, become one of the most cherished albums for generations to pass and follow.
Cobalt’s Gin is an explosive, adrenaline-filled, love letter to metal music and an instantly recognizable golden standard in musical production and the true abrasive nature of musical ability. With only two members, Cobalt quickly rushes onto the scene and makes their appearance more grand than a thousand red carpets, more influential than fifty spoken word poets, and a beautiful dedication to both, the late Ernest Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson.
Erik Wunder and Phil McSorley are the creative brains behind Cobalt, and to say creative would be an understatement. Cobalt is sporadic in a sense, maniacal in another, but gorgeous in other stages. Gin follows a loose adaptation of a structure that flexes and bends between outrageous subsections of hardcore elements, and music that features screams, constant assaults from the percussion, and guitars that sound horrific in the way that they growl and hiss like an untamed animal. The other portions of Gin are much easier to handle and while still managing to keep a discreet undertone of cult-esque chanting or atmospheric playing, Cobalt stands tall as a monument for experimentation and for creating a gruff, but polished sound with Gin. The twisting and contortioned child that springs from Cobalt is aggressive and comes off to be exactly what a war both externally, and internally would embody. It is incredible to hear a pounding of tribal sounding drums, to then shift into soft, but echoing vocals of subtle cries for help. Gin is a constant reminder of how music can shift both tone, and thought within the listener and stay consistent throughout the near hour of resonating and pronounced sound.
There is a certain ambience behind Cobalt’s personal sound, their noise derives itself from a place of pure ugliness, confusion, and the darkness that weighs like cinderblocks on both the physical and mental wellness of a person’s personal journey. With Phil McSorley shouting desperately into a void with lyrics of bitter anguish and animalistic nature; the following track “Stomach” is a prime example of both McSorley and Wunder becoming animals in their craft both lyrically and musically. McSorley and Wunder begin, “His eyes are lost, and his form is gone. His time was up and he lies in the fields, in the banks of rivers and on the edges. What I’ve seen you won’t see, urge to kill and love and hold and smash”. To read through the thought process of the musicians on Gin is almost churning to the stomach and even with the sections of instrumentals, Cobalt is still a reckoning force of nature that smashes everything held within a blast radius of their overbearing, daunting, and near-frightening sound.
Through the motions of the horrific, Cobalt pushes on through a journey of memoirs and shattered pieces of what seem like a distant enigma within themselves. Gin is a place of incredibly personal themes and of overstating abrasiveness, but also a call to subtly and to instinctive ability. With the track, “Two-Thumbed Fist” for an example; Cobalt rushes through the nine-minute journey with an unrelenting force of bass and guitar that shakes the Earth, becoming a golden standard for Cobalt. There is then the following track, “A Starved Horror” which still shouts and makes a presences known, but it does so in a slower, more melodic manner. “A Starved Horror” builds up to the abrasiveness and takes the gentle road to a screaming match within itself. The guitar work from Wunder is a shining example of simplicity against the grain of melodic nature. He works fruitfully and grasps the listener with cold hands, but the hands continue to shine a symptom of life.
Gin is a textbook example of experimental metal that takes a turn for complexity and powerful prowess. Cobalt spares no expense with leaving stones unturned, with leaving a single track without a substantial end, and an ugly solution to an ugly situation. The use of wicked guitar and deadly percussion is a must-have for Gin and the style of lyricism combined with the inner demons of both Hemingway and Thompson make for an engaging display of both fire and brimstone.