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Album Reviews Reviews Short Sharp Shock

Short Sharp Shock #52: Out with the Old, in with the New

Welcome to the latest edition of Short Sharp Shock, where we take a look at some of the shorter metal releases that are out there.

This edition of Short Sharp Shock finishes up the last few 2019 releases in my, (long overdue), playlist, and starts us off on some of the first ones from 2020. Dig in, and don’t forget to let me know what your favorites are.

Praetorian - Knee Deep in DetrirusBand(s): Praetorian
Title: Knee Deep in Detritus
Style(s): Sludge Metal
Duration: 21 minutes
Release date: October 1, 2019

This UK band offer up caustic sludge metal with a hardcore edge. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow, always pissed off, this is angry music for angry people. It’s also surprisingly catchy in places. Influenced by the likes of Eyehategod and Iron Monkey, (as well as bands like Soilent Green, and Brutal Truth), but with some surprising elements making appearances as well – I wasn’t expecting clean singing, for example, (although I should state these only appear briefly; the bulk of the vocals are piercing, acidic screams augmented by brutal growls). Atmospheric melody occasionally makes an appearance too.

A good mix of bludgeoning swagger and raw hatred. Sludgetastic stuff.

Abyssal Vacuum - MMXIXBand(s): Abyssal Vacuum
Title: MMXIX
Style(s): Black Metal
Duration: 23 minutes
Release date: December 1, 2019

This French act combine atmospheric and dissonant elements into their black metal; it sounds eerie, otherworldly, and distinctly malevolent. Imagine a mix of Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega, and you’ll be on the right lines. There’s a lot to like here if you’re a fan of this sort of foreboding, underground menace. The lead guitars are especially striking, with their bleak, unnerving melodies, and I really like the deep, dark growls, to name just two aspects of the music.

Atmospherically accomplished, I look forward to what the future may bring for Abyssal Vacuum. On the strength of this release, this is a project to watch.

Skarntyde - SpurvehaukBand(s): Skarntyde
Title: Spurvehauk
Style(s): Black Metal
Duration: 24 minutes
Release date: December 13, 2019

This is the debut demo from this German black metal duo, (a member of which also is involved with the talented Asche der Welten and Burial in the Woods). Despite originating in Germany, everything about this release is in Norwegian, from the name and titles to the lyrics and the second wave style.

Raw and grim, the music explores the demo’s theme not only in homage to past glories but also with a firm eye to bending those influences to meaningful service in the here and now. With an interesting concept that helps give each track its own identity, the band have crafted each song to reflect its subject matter with detail and skill.

This is an addictive and enjoyable debut for Skarntyde.

Priests of Prometheus - LodestarBand(s): Priests of Prometheus
Title: Lodestar
Style(s): Death Metal
Duration: 19 minutes
Release date: January 1, 2020

This is an interesting and engaging death metal debut, with a few surprises up its sleeve. Brutal and aggressive it may be, we’re also treated to some depth, nuance, and atmospheric weight – especially on the 9-minute closer. The EP has many gems to uncover across its running time.

The music doesn’t stick to any particular style; Swedish belligerence can be heard occasionally, as can a more atmospheric feel. There’s a dirty OSDM crunch to the meaty guitars in places, but also a Cannibal Corpse-esque dose of brutality in others. Sometimes the assault is simple and direct, while at others, it can wind and twist, or embrace technicality. In some places, death metal is left behind altogether.

Lodestar is nicely diverse release that bodes well for the future and has bucketfuls of promise.

Kings Never Die - Raise a GlassBand(s): Kings Never Die
Title: Raise a Glass
Style(s): Hardcore
Duration: 14 minutes
Release date: February 7, 2020

Featuring members of Murphy’s Law, Mucky Pup, and Dog Eat Dog, and boasting members of Agnostic Front guesting on the title track, Raise a Glass has an impressive pedigree. This means that it would have to be a real stinker to not be at least good, and thankfully it’s better than merely average.

This music exists in the traditional punk/hardcore sphere, and while it may not reinvent the wheel, it is a heartfelt and enjoyable example of how to produce satisfying old-school hardcore punk. The songs are well-written, as you would expect for a band such as this, with all due consideration given to hooks, choruses, and finishing touches. It’s an easy release to get on board with if you have a taste for hardcore, and the quality levels on this EP cannot be denied. Check this out.

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