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Album Reviews Reviews Short Sharp Shock

Short Sharp Shock #54: Dredging up Succulent Treats

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.

Once again we descend into the pit to dredge up succulent treats for your refined palates to sample. Let’s tuck in…

Brain Stem - Symptoms of Annihilation - Stage 2Band(s): Brain Stem
Title: Symptoms of Annihilation – Stage 2
Style(s): Death Metal
Duration: 16 minutes
Release date: March 20, 2020

This Canadian death metal act demonstrates considerable potential on this, their second EP. Shifting between groove-based heaviness and technical aggression, this release is brutally good fun.

The tracks have decent riffs, barbed hooks, and a surprising amount of songwriting variety that’s spread equally across this short EP. The band are obviously keen to not overly repeat themselves, while still forging their own identity at the same time.

Brain Stem clearly know how to write solid, interesting death metal, and do so with skill and talent. These songs are impressively enjoyable, and I look forward to hearing what the band get up to in the future.

Ergodic - ErgodicBand(s): Ergodic
Title: Ergodic
Style(s): Death Metal
Duration: 15 minutes
Release date: March 9, 2020

This US band specializes in a technical and melodically-charged modern brand of death metal. This is their first release, but it’s a very well-formed one. Imagine a mix of bands such as First Fragment and Equipoise mixed with The Black Dahlia Murder and Anata. Imagine that, and then realize how satisfyingly sharp Ergodic is.

Featuring neoclassical elements and more than enough technical mastery to satisfy fans of ridiculous playing, there’s potential for a chaotic delivery that is nonetheless restrained by a streamlined sense of songwriting that stops things from getting too out of control. There’s a lot to like here, but I particularly like the singer’s vocals. Very nice indeed.

Yes, I liked this very much.

Muscipula - Little Chasm of HorrorsBand(s): Muscipula
Title: Little Chasm of Horrors
Style(s): Death/Doom Metal
Duration: 10 minutes
Release date: February 28, 2020

This is the first demo release from this US group, and it’s a 10-minute romp through swampy terror and crushing sludge. What this demo lacks in length, it makes up for in nastiness and disgusting atmosphere.

Taking elements of doom and sludge, drowning them in slow, rumbling death metal, and producing agonizingly bleak music, is what Muscipula do, and they clearly mean business. As for the vocals, these are so grim and inhuman that it’s a stretch to think they’re made by a person.

A fittingly grimy serving of ugly and foul underground old-school horror.

Plague Weaver - Through the Sulphur EyesBand(s): Plague Weaver
Title: Through the Sulphur Eyes
Style(s): Black Metal
Duration: 24 minutes
Release date: January 10, 2020

This is the second EP from this Canadian black metal band, which seems to consist of a single band member augmented by a session vocalist, as well as guest guitarist on one track who provides a solo.

The music is a combination of raw black atmosphere and hateful doom. The latter is felt more than it was on the band’s debut release and fits the style well. Through crawling malignancy is how Plague Weaver approach their art, and these songs are filled with grim mood and malevolent auras.

Through the Sulphur Eyes mixes old and new influences into a compelling example of how a band can progress and develop between releases. It’s clear that Plague Weaver are still in this development phase, but what this collection of songs shows is much promise, and is also enjoyable enough in its own right to be worth spending some time with.

Gouge Away - ConsiderBand(s): Gouge Away
Title: Consider
Style(s): Hardcore
Duration: 6 minutes
Release date: March 20, 2020

There are two songs on this release for us to enjoy.

“Consider” is a brightly energetic punk song that combines modern melodic sensibilities with classic hardcore potency to produce a track that hits the right notes. The guitars have an indie influence too, making for a song that has a bit more subtlety to it than your standard hardcore rager.

I like the vocals quite a lot. For most of the track the singer’s voice is sharp and serrated, and her screams cut nicely across the music. Near the end, however, we get soft cleans that increase the atmosphere in conjunction with what the music is doing very well.

The second song is a cover of “Wave of Mutilation” by The Pixies. It’s a brief foray into even more melodically bright territories, and it’s performed well.

A strong little release from a band I hadn’t encountered before. Check this out.

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