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Demo:listen: Nembutal Sleep

Short, fast and violent. If we’re talking about sleep, then these attributes are extremely unpleasant. Fortunately, we’re talking about a new hardcore punk duo from Stockholm, Sweden named Nembutal Sleep. As you’ll discover, theirs is an ironic name. And their demo is by no means a sedative. Although it may knock you out. Let’s meet Nembutal Sleep.

“Nembutal Sleep grew organically out of a bunch of ideas I had and the fact that I was missing something that sounded like it,” writes Eldar, Nembutal Sleep’s everything-but-vocalist. Eldar says Nembutal Sleep “was mostly about creating something that sounded like what I like about hardcore and sludge, but it was also about trying out new things and consciously moving away from the down-tuned metal-influenced sound that dominates the sludge label right now into a more hardcore punk oriented style, and trying out new ways to write songs.” He adds: “It was also about finding an outlet for and a way out of the dejection I was feeling at the time.”

band photo by Jimmy Wistrand

As you’ll hear evidence of all over the Nembutal Sleep demo, Eldar is no stranger to playing heavy music. “Currently I am focusing on writing new material for my slow death metal project Armus and my doom/folk project Eastern Lord but I am also busy playing drums for a old school black metal-influenced hardcore band called Drab.”

Vocalist Jens has been in a number of other bands, too.  “Former or current,” Jens says, there’s: “Noll Iq, Rawheads, Efemär, Arrogante, Sepulchral Frost, No Krångel, etc.”

When it came to Nembutal Sleep, Eldar decided to go it alone, for the most part. “By the time the songs were finished I just decided to go for it,” he remembers. “When I had finished writing the songs and they felt right I went to the rehearsal space and rigged up the gear and pressed record.” 

Nembutal Sleep by Nembutal Sleep

Eldar explains how Jens came to be Nembutal Sleep’s vocalist. “Jens and I met through hardcore punk shows and we talked regularly,” Elder tells us. “Both he and I play in a bunch of projects and we talked a lot about music and playing in general—and being miserable without meds haha. Anyway, we had been talking about doing something for a while and by the time I had finished up the recording I knew who to ask. Jens just fit the bill perfectly.”

As for their band name, Eldar says, “I came across the name Nembutal when reading about how Marilyn Monroe died. Nembutal is also administered during executions, and in assisted death. It stuck with me because there is alot tragedy attached to the word Nembutal. That in turn reminded me of a song titled “Nembutal Sleep” by a band called Sanctuary in Blasphemy which a couple of good friends of mine were playing in way back. So the band name was pretty much taken from that song title.” Eldar adds that Sanctuary in Blasphemy “released an impressive discography with a unique, really dark take on stoner metal/sludge. Relevant for anyone into the genre.”

We ask Eldar about the band’s themes of daily mental health struggles and trouble sleeping. Eldar says, “That’s daily life for a lot of people, both of us [in Nembutal Sleep] included. Look out the window and you’ll know why. Wars are still being fought, starvation, pollution, misinformation and global pandemics, meanwhile the rich get richer. It’s a cliché but this world still fucking sucks. Top that off with personal demons to fight on a daily basis. At least these days there’s drugs for that, by which I mean both medicinal and non-medicinal.”

Anyone else getting a strong Suicidal Tendencies vibe? Maybe mixed with some Eyehategod. Are we close? Eldar admits: “It is all over the place really, but obviously the late ‘80s and early to mid ‘90s periods of bands like Eyehategod, Buzzoven and Cavity had something to do with how it sounds, but more so bands like Celtic Frost, Type O Negative, Sheer Terror and Siege inspired me a lot. But if  I’d be more general about it, old school doom like Candlemass, Saint Vitus and hardcore created the mold that Nembutal Sleep was shaped in.”

We ask if the demo took a while to write or if it was all done in a burst of inspiration. Eldar tells us: “Somewhere in between both, basically the riffs would come in bouts of inspiration. The basic song itself that is. By taking my time I mean it was not like I would be intently focusing on details and be meticulous with the material, but rather let it grow over time. Add little details and let the songs develop on its own. They were done when they were done.”

As for the lyrics, Jens says, “Basically Eldar hit me up, he had everything done but vocals. We clicked early on so I wrote some lyrics which we both could stand for and took it from there.” He continues to say, “Lyrically it’s mostly stuff that’s been going on around me, shit that happened to me or my friends or relatives. I have periods when I don’t write anything at all and periods when I’m almost manically productive and creative. I listen a lot to old school sludge but when Eldar showed the instrumental tracks I didn’t expect the powerviolence starts and stops, fast hardcore beats and mangling doom all crammed into one.”

I mean, who could have?

When it was time to record the demo, Eldar says, “The hardest part technically was getting the tempo changes right on the drums. The drums were recorded to a click track which was difficult but a good learning experience, I just kept recording takes until it sounded right. The second challenge was getting the drums to sound right. I was listening a lot to Life is Killing Me by Type o=O Negative around the time I was mixing it and the drum sound really clicked with me. So I decided to mix triggered drum sounds from old sound modules with the Fibes kit which I tracked the drums on. The guitars were quad-tracked on an Ampeg VH140C. But I think the biggest challenge was finding the energy and motivation to do it, but I just pushed forward and I am glad I did. The whole thing was recorded on a weekend.”

As for stand-out tracks, Eldar tells us, “My personal favourites are the intro and ‘Zoloft Warrior.’ The intro was the first track I started on the project and when I realised that I wanted to do something more with this idea—so everything kind of grew out of that song. ‘Zoloft Warrior’ was the most fun to write and record, and where I felt I got the concept most right. My friend Nayeem also did a sick video for it which you should check out [streaming above].”

“For me it’s probably ‘Curse’ or ‘Zoloft Warrior,’” says Jens. “They speak to my punk roots.”

Eldars says “There are no concrete plans for [the release of a physical version of the demo] right now, but it is something we want to do in the future for sure.”

Since finishing and releasing the Nembutal Sleep demo, Eldar says he’s been: “Writing more riffs and recording more material” for the band. His plans, he says, are to “keep developing the project and trying out new things. I am looking forward to whatever this project has in store for us.”

For Jens’ part, he’s been “Spreading it around like a plague.” He says, “I’m thankful for every praise we’ve gotten so far, glad to hear people dig that slow depressing shit.”

Go get some Nembutal Sleep! 

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Demo:listen: Nuclear Christ

Nuclear Christ are the kind of Floridian death metal band that make you realize just how close Florida really is to Hell. The four-piece released their demo less than two weeks ago, signifying the entrance of a pristine and formidable new force of destruction in the underground. At five tracks plus a cover, their demo Twisted Idols for Nihilism represents some of the hottest, most unexpected material to erupt from the Sunshine State in some time. Of course, we had to reach out. 

Nuclear Christ are a band with a unique past, we found out after contacting them. 

 

 

According to Maleficio, the one-half of the band’s guitar assault squad, “Nuclear Christ is a project that has existed close to 20 years. Could never find a steady line up, I’ve jammed some of the material with many people over the years,” Malefico says. He names: “Chris Briggs from a band down here called Deviant Burial, Rick Smith From Caveman Cult, a few others, I have a rehearsal track somewhere with my bandmates from Devastator around 2012 which was going to be Nuclear Christ. Some of the songs and riffs I had ended up in my other band, Hexorcist. I had given up on Nuclear Christ entirely years ago. Upon revival, my first choice for a vocalist was Stewart George (ex-Abysmal) ,who is in Phalanx Inferno doing vocals these days.” Malefico says Nuclear Christ also consists of guitarist/bassist “Matteus (From Koroidia and now, Gnosis) and Severed Deity deserves all the credit for manifesting this project into reality due to their drive and conviction.”

Matteus remembers, “Over the years the band had went through a lot of line up changes but no shows or releases. Just the name with a lot of potential. Eventually, I met with Maleficio about bringing back the band, we talked about it for a year, then I showed him a couple of songs that I wrote and he really liked them. He said ‘that sounds like Nuclear Christ!’ We decided to get the ball rolling. Sooner or later we got Kryptic Kurser on vocals, followed by Severed Deity on drums, whom I played in bands with before Nuclear Christ.”

Looking back, Malifico says the name Nuclear Christ, “many many years ago (2002/2003 maybe) it just seemed like a name combination that wasn’t used yet. I may have also been listening to Nuclear Death and Demonic Christ at the time, haha! Not entirely sure, that was many years and drinks ago!”

Kryptic Kurser says, for their part: “Some names are just catchy and that makes one want to hear what’s behind it. I had been interested in participating with Nuclear Christ for a number of years and had spoken to Maleficio about this as far as 2010, but I was living in California at that time and the logistics didn’t work out. Maleficio’s comment about some of Nuclear Christ’s material ending up in Hexorcist was a catalyst for me at first. Personally, I couldn’t see why NC was unable to step forward but, what mattered is that we felt it had potential. The experience already there and the result of Nuclear Christ’s combined songwriting plus a theme and visual idea conceptions did work well in a way that, we were sure enough this was solid and could continue on.”

Twisted Idols for Nihilism by Nuclear Christ

When it came to writing the demo, Matteus says, “I wrote the majority of the original songs in the demo with the exception of a track called ‘Blessed in Monuments – Dammed by Sacraments.’ Maleficio and I wrote that track together. I didn’t write ‘Remnants,’ [not streaming] as it is a cover of song written by Blood Feast but did the solos for that version which there were none in the original.The rest of the demo’s music was mostly written by myself with help in some parts by Severed Deity. I wanted to go for something chaotic, I pictured the world being in an apocalyptic disaster which is the perfect way to write cursing death metal! The name Nuclear Christ is what really fueled my songwriting for this demo. The lyrics were done by Kryptic Kurser and they locked in well with my ideas. I think ‘Ascension of the Demonaut,’ the demo’s first track, is a perfect example of that.”

 

Twisted Idols for Nihilism is currently available on pro-tape from Texas-based label Goat Throne Records. This mandatory releases come thanks to hard work put it by Nuclear Christ’s atomic vocalist Kryptic Kurser. “I handle all aspects of cooperation with labels,” they tell us. “Goat Throne was already familiar with Hexorcist and [Goat Throne] label boss, Aaron, liked them. He offered us the chance to have this one out on cassette when I sent it over to him for consideration. Originally, the songs were only going to be out on a split CD but, it seemed better to seek interest from metal fans in a dual manner as well. We have striven to make each release different for both labels: [Singaporean death metal label] Vrykoblast and Goat Throne Records. We are also looking for someone in Europe who might give it a listen and perhaps, partner with us and do a version unique to that part of the world as we have done with the other two.” 

Matteus says the blood-spitting ferocity of Twisted Idols for Nihilism was captured at “a place called Dark Lake in Fort Lauderdale run by Adam Lvcifervs.” Matteus confirms: “We went in full-throttle, recording with no click track and tracking everything in one take.” Hails! “Adam was really fun to work with;” Matteus continues, “he knew what the band needed to sound the raw way you hear it on those recordings. He had really good gear, and a great setup for drum recording. We will record with [Adam Lvcifervs] again for the next release for sure!”

Adam is a good friend of mine,” Malefico says, telling us, “we did a few recordings under the name Lvcifervs. He’s an esoteric and eccentric madman. He himself was in a few bands back in the day with our mutual friend Doug Humlack Lichdom, Spiritus Infernus, Hibernus Mortis and Acrimonium. The guy is a massive talent with electronics. Once upon a time back in the 1990s, Acrimonium was sharing rehearsal space with this weird punk rock band and they messed with his PA so he re-wired all their gear to explode when they turned it on! He has a short fuse (no pun intended!) working with him is a real pleasure although he has little to zero patience.” 

 “I had known Adam for a number of years but had not had contact at all for a long time,” Kryptic Kurser tells us. “When I was informed that he was going to produce these recordings, I felt secure during the session that it would be good because he understands heavy sounds and is a technical kind of guy. He has a very good understanding of different styles in metal, is extremely helpful and he will engage with you in getting to understand what it is you want and work hard to give you a killer product. Knowing that we will work with him again, is what gives us a good start in getting all the moving pieces together for planning. I composed the demo’s outro, ‘The Perpetual Endbringer’ and he captured a good atmosphere for that during the final mix.” 

The outro is really sick! 

Kryptic Kurser goes on to tell us about the demo’s artworks. “Nizin Lopez created the covers used in both the CD and cassette versions of Twisted…” Nuclear Christ’s vocalist says, “I don’t think that Nuclear Christ would be the same if not for Nizin’s influence. I would say that his ‘visual aggression’ approach to abstract apocalyptic visions he created, mixed with knowledge coming from his own personal studies, helped forge our colorful miasma of hate. Nizin Lopez’s artwork can be seen in Morbid Angel and Deicide’s releases among others. We are fortunate that we have pieces commissioned to him for use in Nuclear Christ. Twisted Idols for Nihilism is having a Vrykoblast CD release with a different cover than the one seen on the cassette version from Goat Throne Records. We will feature more of his artwork in our next release.”

Now that the demo is finally released and the band’s potential is finally being realized, Matteus says the most reward experience has been: “For Maleficio’s benefit, I think, for getting this name out there after so many years of trying to bring it to life. For us as a band, I would say reading what people have to say about it, it’s been great nothing but great responses!”

“The feeling of completion is what I’d say matters,” says Kryptic Kurser. “I am overjoyed that a number of people found our compositions to their liking. Things, of course, have changed a little in the last few years but seeing it as a whole that despite it all, we are alive and still here to do this tells me that we have put to use whatever little time we have left alive in this world. Hope it’s not too dramatic to put it in those terms!”

 In these times? No way. 

“Right now, we’ve just been promoting our release with Goat Throne Records,” says Matteus. According to Matteus the Singaporean imprint of their demo will be a split CD from the aforementioned Vrykoblast. “They are going to put the demo out on CD, but it’s a split with Vrykolakas and yes, it’s the same guys. They have their own label and have several releases under their belt. Our side will be the same songs on the demo with the difference that a rough version of ‘Ascension of the Demonaut’ is on the cassette version only. This tape version only had 100 copies made.” He says, “For the next release we’ll be taking it a step further. For example, writing crazy and insane mixed together songs, haha! It’s a challenge we’re willing to accept.” 

Kryptic Kurser tells us lately they’ve been working on the music video for the demo opener, “Ascension of the Demonaut.” They say, “The video is just a precursor to the efforts planned to begin soon. Like Matteus, said we do plan on more creations. Vrykoblast’s plans have been slowed down some due to factory issues beyond their control. For now, it seems the release of the split CD will be seeing the light of day around July this year.” They continue: “For our second release, at this moment it is going under the title of ‘Venenum Dei.’ The musical direction will continue to be in the vein of what we have shown. When it is heard, you know it is Nuclear Christ. We have been asked as to the status of NC playing live. For now, we feel that a second release is needed to make that a bit more solid and to have sufficient material on hand.”

My brother in Nuclear Christ, you need to go support this new hellish death metal band.

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Full Album Stream: Void Wraith – II

Under the pitch-black cloak of anonymity, Void Wrath have woven fiery riffs and intense drumming for the past 8 years in the Pacific Northwest underground. Beginning with Ø, the Seattle-based black metal five-piece made their presence immediately known, their mission abundantly clear. With zero intention of adhering to trends or expectations, they were here for our souls and our skulls alike. Void Wraith’s debut EP was a swift and bloody attack, bursting full of potential and vitriol. But it would be another five years before the band released I, their debut’s follow up.

Now, only three years since the maniacal and darkly layered I, Void Wraith are poised to let loose their latest recording. Out this Friday, May 13th on pro-tape and 12” vinyl from American Decline Records, II was recorded, mixed and mastered by audio engineer extraordinaire Detto at Sentinel Studio in Seattle, WA. II witnesses Void Wraith wield some their sharpest and deadliest riffs and most sadistic compositions yet. More ferocity, less mercy, II is pure USBM annihilation.

II by Void Wraith

Preorder II from American Decline Records.

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Track Premiere: Simulakra – ‘Follow the Flies’

Anyone with an ear for metal-tinged hardcore will like what Delaware bruisers Simulakra are putting down on their new LP, The Infection Spreads. The follow-up to 2019’s Tales From the Fevered SubconsciousThe Infection Spreads is a concept record that focuses on death and disease.

Today, Decibel shares “Follow the Flies,” the final track on the album. Featuring Year of the Knife vocalist Tyler Mullen, the two vocalists trade lines over pummeling riffs and an extended mosh part at the end of the track. It may only be their second song since 2019, but Simulakra have shown that the hype behind their demo and EP weren’t a fluke.

“I wanted to write a song that was constant back and fourth parts between two vocalists since I barely see it happen ever,” explains vocalist Dom Pabon. “The track is a story of someone finding their dead relative a little too late and their remains are being tainted by flies.”

Listen to “Follow the Flies” below. The Infection Spreads is out on May 24 via DAZE.

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Full Demo Premiere: Vengeance Horde – Vengeance Horde

In the case of the brand new bestial-nuclear war metal outfit Vengeance Horde, what you see is what you get. That is, if you look at the above promo picture featuring the American musician naked from the waist except for chains and nail-spiked gauntlets and expect to get the shit beaten out of you, you’re absolutely on the right track.

Entering the world with merely two tracks and less than 10 minutes of material is exactly the kind of bloodthirsty belligerence we should come to expect from these new stateside conquerors of black/death. But it’s ‘Same War Both Sides’ so expect to find yourself going round after round against this ultra-fast and completely fucked shred-attack on the senses. In other words, Vengeance Horde might only be two quick bangers, but how long do you really want to spend on this hellish battlefield? At least at first. When it’s here, we’ll be ready for the full-length. But first . . .

“We are a swift axe to the skull of all foes,” announce Vengeance Horde. “Possessed by manic lust for vengeance, nothing but the blackness of war lies ahead!”

Vengeance Horde by Vengeance Horde

Go get Vengeance Horde’s demo from Stygian Black Hand.

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Demo:listen: Somatic Decay

Somatic Decay, that abominably heavy death metal band comprising two former members of the late Ossuarium that debuted last week, are back with an exclusive full premiere of their three-song demo, Existential Decadence. All the way back in 2017, we featured Ossuarium, here on the D:L. Incidentally, they went on to release a crucial split with fellow Demo:listen darlings, Draghkar, and if you don’t know the Ossuarium full-length that came out in 2019, see about fixing that. But now Ossuarium are finished; long live Somatic Decay!

Somatic Decay logo by Ink Lesions

“Nate and I simply weren’t done making death metal,” Somatic Decay’s drummer/vocalist Ryan says, referring to how he and guitarist/bassist Nate continued on after Ossuarium sundered. “Once we got together we honed in on a more straightforward, headbanging sound [on] this go-round. A nod to our Finnish and Danish contemporaries along with, of course, some American death metal flavor.” 

As for their name, that is the standard beneath which they will wage their skull-crushing campaign, Nate says: “We wanted something body horror related that conveyed a feeling of helplessness. Like your mind is intact while your form rots around you.” And we point out that it slant-rhymes with Seraphic Decay, he adds: “It was also a sick, albeit unintentional nod to the legendary label.”

When it came to writing material for Somatic Decay, Nate tells us he and Ryan started completely from scratch. “These tunes are original to this project,” Nate says. “Ryan and I are good friends so it was pretty natural to meet up and write riffs. After we finished ‘Surrender the Flesh,’ we got pretty hyped to try and sleaze out a demo.”

Existential Decadence (LUNGS-201) by SOMATIC DECAY

If you caught their quote from last week’s track premiere, you may have noticed that Somatic Decay’s demo songs seem to encompass a greater emotional range than simply growling about gore. 

“That’s a solid read,” Ryan confirms. “Lyrically I try to keep things horrifying for sure, but using it as a metaphor for more human struggles. I love reading old Mortician and Corpsegrinder lyrics where it’s like ‘stab stab murder kill now you’re dead,’ but also the poetry of Daniel Butler of Vastum/Acephalix or the angst of Edgy 59 of Burning Witch.” 

Somatic Decay went to Sentinel Studio in Seattle, Washington to record Existential Decadence with soundboard slayer Detto. Nate tells us there were pandemic-related challenges along the way, but overall, he says, “Working with Detto was sick.” He tells us, “[Detto’s] super good at what he does, and made the recording process feel effortless. Fully plan to hit up Sentinel again for future recording.” 

Last week Sean Frasier took us for a deep dive into the depths of “Mutilated Facades,” the opener from Somatic Decay’s demo. Here’s what Somatic Decay have to say about the other two bangers that compose Existenstial Decadence

Ryan reiterates how “Surrender the Flesh” was the first song Somatic Decay wrote together. “It’s all about that hook going into the ‘doopa’ part at the end for me,” Ryan says. “The theme is L’appel Du Vide or the call of the void. Here the ‘void’ is a giant, boiling stew of flesh and sinew calling you jump on in.”

As for the demo closer, the subtly-titled “Total Human Obsolescence,” Ryan says: “This song is definitely heavy, no frills. Wrote it about humans devaluing their own humanity in favor of wealth, power and individualism and how it will cause our inevitable demise.” 

To properly contain this beast, Somatic Decay knew they needed artwork that could match its gnarliness. First for their logo, they went to Undergang’s David Mikkelsen who splatters out graphic logos under the name, Ink Lesions. For their demo artwork, they went to Form Terror Growth, AKA Bloodspore drummer Fred Mycelium, who conjures dimensional monstrosities from his inkwell for death metal bands around the world. 

Nate found Form Terror Growth through the art Fred’s done for his own band Bloodspore, who I saw a couple months back here in Portland and damn they rip!” Ryan tells us. “We both knew his stuff was perfect for us, and it looks great alongside David Mikkelsen’s logo. Fred is not only super talented at making nasty art, but has also helped a ton with design work for us. Thanks Fred!”

Iron Lung Records will be putting out Existential Decadence on pro-tape. Ryan inform us, “Iron Lung releases for the hardcore band I play drums in, Retirement.” He continues: “Jensen and I met at a show we played with other choice ILR bands Nasti, Convenience and Electric Chair. We hit it off and bonded over death metal instantly. Jensen plays guitar in Innumerable Forms who are my favorite goddamn death metal band doing the thing right now. When I let him know about this project he told me to keep him posted and here we are! Shouts to Jensen and Jon for running the best label on Earth!”

Ryan adds: “Tape comes out May 6 and is up for preorder now via Iron Lung!”

Meanwhile, Nate lets on that “since recording” Somatic Decay have “gone straight into working on new material and expanding on [their] sound.” Nate says: “We plan on playing live soon (not as a two piece), but the focus at the moment is hashing out these new songs.”

Ryan graciously concludes with a personal thank you to Demo:listen “for keeping people informed on what’s happening in death metal!

“Also shouts to Iron Lung Records, Detto, Jason Anderson, Form Terror Growth and David Mikkelsen of Ink Lesions for making this all possible,” Ryan says. “We’d just be two sweaty dudes riffing in a plywood box if it wasn’t for y’all!”

Go get that Existential Decadence pro-tape right now while you still can.

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Full Album Premiere: Lorelai – ‘Concealed Ovulation’

Some of the most depraved minds of Philadelphia are back to assault your sense of reality. Lorelai, the brand new death/grind project from Bea$ters mastermind Rory Kobinza is dropping their debut tape Concealed Ovulation later this month on Aggressively Uninterested and we are fortunate enough to share with you an exclusive stream of the EP here on.

Lorelai continues Bea$ter’s progressive explorations of all the crevices between thrash and brutal death metal, albeit spliced with hilarious samples that eschew modern hook-up culture. The project is rounded out by vocalist Justin Melon and some select hired guns who somehow agreed to take part in Lorelai’s twisted vision.

Check it out below and pre-order Concealed Ovulation here before its release on May 7.

Concealed Ovulation by Lorelai

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Demo:listen: Worn Mantle

It takes but a glance to see that the Minnesotan three-piece Worn Mantle are a band apart from the crowd. Instead of a promo photo, they have what looks like an alien fungal growth under a microscope. Turns out, it’s artwork by Monolith of Flesh, who also plays bass and does vocals under the initials IE for Worn Mantle.

Then, as you get to know Worn Mantle, by listening to them, perusing their Bandcamp page, becoming transfixed by their strange cover art, your instincts are affirmed. Whether they’re doling out black/death intensity or death-doom despair or doom/sludge punishment or filling your ears and thoughts with guitar-driven psychedelic ambience, Worn Mantle are indeed a unique band. 

Genre-wise, we more or less agree with that characterization,” replies I.E. after we call Worn Mantle ‘black/death done noise metal-style.’ “Obviously the black/death elements are very central to the sound,” IE says, “but our writing process was fueled more by a pursuit of intensity and less by a strict adherence to a specific style.”

I.E. goes on to tell us how Worn Mantle began. As you might suspect from their tight sound, there’s a bond that goes back a whole decade-plus here. IE tells us they met ND “around 2010 in middle school and pretty quickly started learning [their] instruments together.” IE says, “Our music making was pretty private for a long time and evolved naturally as our music tastes matured. This band ‘formed’ without a name in late 2019 after we mutually decided to end our prior doom/post-metal project to clear the way for something fresh. We met CHS in 2021 the summer before recording, originally as a session drummer. However, we got along extremely well and invited her to join the band after recording was finished.”

Worn Mantle by Worn Mantle

Unpredictable as their sound may be, if they weren’t nailed-shut-tight, the result would be  a mess. No wonder then, according to IE, Worn Mantle “practice completely in-person and on a regular basis.” IE says, “We meet almost every other day to practice old material and write new stuff. Once something feels good, we bring it to CHS, who really breathes life into it.”

As for their likewise unpredictably awesome name, “The band name is actually derived from some lyrics in a Bardo Pond song,” says IE. “It had existed as a cool combination of words for some time in my mind and we decided it fit well when this project needed a name. Worn Mantle also evokes images of a tattered cloak or a donned mask, which seemed to suit this project.” 

Looking deeper into the meaning behind Worn Mantle, we ask the band about their lyrics. They tell us, “The lyrical themes revolve around the emotions we experienced during the zenith of the 2020 uprising. Our beliefs and morals corresponded to a primarily anarchist analysis of race, class, gender and capital. From this ideology came the perception that we had a nigh religious imperative to do as much as we could at this invaluable watershed time to help be a small part of both ourselves and other people potentially reshaping the Twin Cities to become a better place for life. At the time, we believed we had to do everything we could possibly do to achieve this, and that anything less was essentially blasphemy. The absolute moral goalpost we set for ourselves, in conjunction with the pressing imminence of the time, led to a sensation that we had to “cut” away from ourselves anything that was not utterly devoted to doing the right thing, so that we could be a “knife” and do whatever it was that needed to be done, at whatever level of expense to ourselves. The writing of this album spanned both the advent and the demise of this mentality, as later our beliefs matured from being akin to a religious crusade to being a more serious philosophy that also honored our well-being.”

IE goes on to tell us about their artwork for Worn Mantle under the name Monolith of Flesh. IE says their style of “visual arts really came into its own around the time we were writing this album. Branches, tendrils, roots, veins and all similarly organic complexities have always had a strong grasp on my imagination and mid-2020 was when I was really able to articulate my fascination. The resulting overgrown, jagged forms and dark horror vacui psychedelia ended up fitting the needling, intense music we were exploring at the time.” 

By now you’ve noticed how deliciously heavy and organically pulverizing Worn Mantle’s self-titled debut sounds. Turns out, according to IE, “We were extremely lucky to live in the same city as Adam Tucker and Signaturetone Recording. We didn’t realize it for a long time, but he’s been the recording or mastering engineer for countless bands we love and admire (Void Omnia, Anicon, Thou/Emma Ruth Rundle, Sunless, Void Rot, Forn, etc.). He’s the type of person who telepathically knows what you’re trying to achieve and as the virtual patron saint of the Twin Cities extreme metal scene, it made sense to bring this to him.”

Grindcore this is not. Just looking at their epic song lengths, you’d almost think Worn Mantle were  a prog band. “We come from a doom metal background, and enjoy the possibilities of longer form songwriting so it was inevitable,” IE says. “Without even thinking about it, most of the songs we write usually fulfill their purpose after the 10 minute mark.

“The best art is the stuff that exists unto itself and makes no attempt to court expectations,” IE continues. “Just entities of expression that have the potential to wreak emotional and creative havoc on you. This piece of music is an attempt to craft something like that, we scrapped hours and hours of material before we had something that sat like a stone in our bowels.” 

Worn Mantle are only getting started and seem eager to continue exploring and refining their sound. They say, “We have some more dense slabs in the works. One will hopefully be arriving sooner than later. They add that they “would love to get it out to a wider audience.” We’ve done our part here at Demo:listen. Go forth and do yours.

Go get a Worn Mantle CD

 

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Demo:listen: Besotten

Some demos crush, but Besotten’s demo buries its listener, slowly and without remorse. In Filth It Will Be Found spans almost seventeen minutes across its three tracks, during which time, amidst one of the most noxious atmospheres heard on a death metal demo in years, the Portland, OR three-piece swing their corroded pendulum between bestial death and decaying death-doom. A true gem of raw potential, bespeaking both a powerful future while simultaneously appeasing those lachrymose shades of death-doom past and their rigid expectations. 

Turns out Decibel had a little something to do with it, too. According to Besotten’s bassist/vocalist, Garth Purkett, a “huge credit” is owed “to Decibel” for Besotten becoming what you hear playing below. Garth and Besotten’s drummer Andy O. “attended Decibel Metal & Beer Fest 2018.” According to Garth, “experiencing Spectral Voice live for the first time was so brutal and devastating that it altered our musical brain chemistry—like a B.C. to A.D. moment—and inspired us to pick up our instruments again after a long hiatus to create our own vision within this disgusting genre.”

The band continues, “We’ve all been in various bands before, and Andy and Garth played together back in the day and already had a great working relationship. We’d been jamming together again for a few months before looking to the festering heap of Craigslist in search of a guitarist with the very specific grim style and taste we were looking for. Patrick moved to Portland right around the same time and was already of the same desolate death-doom mentality—we were able to speak the same language from day one. We all ended up mentally and physically in the same place at the right time and it all meshed together beautifully.”

Besotten is an interesting, but definitely perfect name for a band with their filthy, wet sound. Says Garth, “The first name I came up with was ‘Besotted,’ a word I learned from the dialogue of a BBC series. ‘Obsessed, infatuated, intellectually or morally blinded’ fit our psychological horror as we’re all obsessed with death, darkness, and the grotesque. Andy brilliantly fine-tuned it to Besotten (an archaic form of the word) because it rhymes with ‘rotten’ and it just felt… perfect.”

 

As it turns out, their rather unique logo was born at an interesting time. “I sketched the logo while on a companywide call with my job announcing upcoming COVID layoffs, minutes before being laid off myself,” Garth recalls. “I was half-paying attention to the call and mostly focused on the logo. It just sort of flowed out organically in an eerie way, like I already knew the path ahead even though things were all going to shit.”

The demo came together, according to Besotten, as such: “Andy and Garth had one solid song together from our early jams, and when Patrick joined, he came locked and loaded with a sick song of his own. From there we’d each write riffs at home, demo them out in practice, and plug our favorites into the existing songs to punch them up, or use them to start building new ones. Fusing our separate riffs together — most notably in the second track “Putrid Metamorphosis” — helped shape the sound in a manner that didn’t get too repetitive with either of our individual tendencies. We practice every week and played these songs for close to eight months to refine them.”

Throughout the interview Besotten have hinted at their psychological aspect. They say, “Besotten’s lyrics focus on psychological horror, existential dread, and the terrors within the human subconscious. In Filth It Will Be Found is the translation of a saying in medieval alchemy—‘In Sterquiliniis Invenitur’—which in psychological applications means ‘That which you most need to find will be in the place you least want to look.’ Every human carries in our psyches an entire hidden realm of suppressed memory, pain, misery, shame, and torment personalized specifically to us that we can maybe only access in dreams or therapy. While the band appreciates death in space and the sewer, we write about the horrors of the human mind.”

 

In Filth It Will Be Found by BESOTTEN

With a slow approach, wallowing in loose flesh, deliberating plodding, Besotten’s opener “Summoning Fog” spreads across reality, seeming to warp time itself. The Kadathian riffs and sudden rhythmic storms of Rippikoulu worship that compose this opener have ensured its place among killer demos forever. And “Summoning Fog” is only the opener. 

“We practice in a pretty shitty sounding space and were very used to that sound, so we recorded it live in the space so the demo would take on that same grime,” the band tells us. “We planned our recording schedule around the next full moon and took 3 or 4 days to record. Andy had been learning how to record and mix in the preceding months, so having him at the helm of that was perfect so we had full control of our sound. We chose Julian Silva at On Air Mastering to master the demo as he’s a passionate death metal freak/friend embedded deeply in the Portland metal scene who’s extremely familiar with this specific style of metal.

“Putrid Metamorphosis” takes place among the same desolation as its opener. A certain paranoia and dread fills the air between the notes on this cruel and unusual cesspit in the middle of In Filth According to the band, “Putrid Metamorphosis” is the first song they wrote together—and that is exciting.

In Filth…’s third and final track gathers overheard like an apocalyptic storm with a brooding into before launching into a down-tuned, tremolo-driven tempest of fucking destruction. In the eye of which you’ll find yourself about three minutes in. The demo ends frantically and on a chaotic note, however tight, as if the band themselves are concussed and reeling about. 

Besotten says, “The demo came out better than we expected given how DIY and unprofessionally we did it. As far as the overall style, we were lucky to have a unified vision from the get-go for the morbid sound and cryptic atmospheres we wanted to create together. Once we had the bones of the songs, we knew these were the winners for the demo and kept tweaking and refining them all the way through the day of recording. Some of the final flourishes and edits that help make the songs special came minutes before nailing the final take.”    

Talking about their artwork, the band says, “Before we nailed down the theme and lyrics we looked for band inspiration everywhere, and Andy pushed us down a rabbit hole of historical creepy artwork. We were drawn to macabre artwork from the late 19th and early 20th centuries — works from the minds of truly tortured souls inspired by the human-based horrors and grim realities surrounding them, as opposed to modern day horror movies — which led us to this stunning piece by R.V. Hoerschelmann. Once we saw it we were all instantly like “This is it.”

A disheveled man impaled on a scraggly tree, but seemingly not dead; suspended long enough to become one with the vines, but not turning skeletal; contemplating the filth surrounding him as he merges with it in solitude. The artwork conveys such a sense of loneliness, woe, grime, depression, time, and misery that felt perfect for the demo’s journey into the darkest corners of the human subconscious that none of us want to explore.” 

We had to congratulate the band on taking the completely DIY route and releasing 100 tapes themselves, all of which are now gone. “We wanted this demo to be exactly that—a demo—and felt that the self-release route was a no-brainer,” says the band. “Plus we all love metal tapes and knew that this dismal and grimey style of music would translate super-well to cassette.”

 

Besotten says, “We’ve been humbled and overwhelmed by the rabid response to the demo, and people’s enthusiasm has exceeded all expectations we had upon releasing it. We’d been writing and refining the demo songs for so long, that for people to pick up on the demo immediately and resonate with the style, riffs, and overall ethos feels incredible. Selling one tape outside of our family/friends would have been enough, so to be mailing tapes from my living room in Portland to death metal freaks in Germany and New Zealand felt surreal and special.”

They go on to tell us, “Since finishing the demo we’ve been working on some nasty new songs and are in full writing mode. We’ve already had the honor of playing live with some incredible PNW bands and will be playing as many shows as possible this year, ideally getting up and down the west coast. Our goals for the year are to put out a split with another sick band and to release a full length. We’re still figuring out the details of how we’d like to release those since the demo was an all-DIY release.”

While the tape versions of their demo may be long gone, Besotten have recently put up a super-sick shirt design. According to the band, “Our first shirt release features historic artwork by Alfred Kubin that directly inspired the first song we wrote, ‘The Hour of Death’. Every moment of existence is another step closer to the grave, marching to the beat of a clock we have no control over. Kubin’s gloomy and gruesome depiction of time as the ultimate killer drew us in immediately and helped the song write itself. Hell’s pendulum is always keeping time, and everyone’s just another head waiting to drop.”Go support Besotten.

Go support Besotten.

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Blast Worship: Scud

Where they from?
Rehovot, Israel. Baseball season starts this Thursday, so I figured I’d make some predictions (please don’t ask about my Stanley Cup predictions — fucking Islanders). It’s so hard with baseball because the postseason truly feels so arbitrary so I guess I’ll just swing for the fences and say the Padres beating the Blue Jays in the World Series. Also, the Mariners will make the playoffs and the Yankees won’t.

Why the hype?
Damn, it’s been a while since I reviewed something that had this much OOMPH to it (‘OOMPH’ being a highly technical term for kickassness). It’s funny how much these Israeli grinders sound like they come from Washington D.C., as their music is highly reminiscent off the grinding hardcore first doled out by bands like Magrudergrind, Needle and Deliriant Nerve. All the riffs twist and turn in that snarky mid-Atlantic way before imploding into serious beatdowns that bring to mind bloody noses and broken beer bottles in bleak Baltimore basements.

Latest Release?
Scud, out now on Rat Covenant Records. The band does a Pentagram cover on this record and I’m going to be completely honest and just say that I didn’t know how much I needed this in my life. Who knew that mixing spooky ’80s doom metal with grindcore production and OOMPH would make for such a combustible formula? The crazy part is, it’s not even the most serious beatdown on this record. Check out the opening to “Infesting Clockwise” and try not to imagine the Chicken Man punching you in the face.

Scud – Scud by RAT COVENANT

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