Words by Andrew Lampela
Andrew Lampela was an employee and eventual co-owner of the 40-year old institution, Haffa’s Records in Athens, Ohio, just outside of the dark woods from which Skeletonwitch emerged. Over his years there he has played in a number of bands ranging from rock to noise to metal and has taken his lifelong knowledge of music into contributing to a number of publications.
The six a.m. walk to work was chilly, as the late June weather was being a bit rowdy. Crisp, tolerable mornings soaring into humidity-laced, soul-melting bullshit by early afternoon. The slight edge of chill brought the loudest out of the neighborhood bird community, and the townie deer were already decimating flowerbeds, forcing eye contact as they chewed to show how little fucks they had to give as I trudged my way towards the brewery. I have been relishing tiny moments like this a bit more these days, and the quiet streets of the early near East Side mornings have been an easy place to find solace from the daily grind.
I finished my set-up routine and took my coffee out back to have a moment before getting irrationally mad at an inanimate canning line for seven or so hours, soaking in the cool air before Summer really took hold.
And wouldn’t you know it, a bunch of motherfuckers went and tried to ruin the country again.
It’s been wild watching the Venn diagram of “Not wearing a mask, infringes on my personal rights!” people and the “Birth control and abortions are sins, women have no rights!” people become one circle. And hey, I guess that’s okay. Political disagreements are a thing we have to tolerate if we’re going to pretend this charade of ‘Democracy’ is still something we expect to work, and people outing themselves as idiots saves me the work of trying to figure out who to avoid.
But to watch a group of well educated Court Justices essentially flip the bird to every single uterus in this country is something else entirely. How do you sleep at night when you’ve essentially told your wives and daughters and mothers that they don’t matter? That they have no say in their own decisions, decisions that can have very, very real consequences on a woman’s health and well being. If we take the most basic right we have, one that rich CisHet males have enjoyed since the birth of cruelty, and strip it away from entire groups, well… we’re pretty fucked. The struggle for civil rights has always boggled my mind. And yet, here we are, the most ‘enlightened’ species on a speck of dust hurtling through a vastness beyond comprehension, worried that someone with a different skin tone might get a leg up in the world.
I’m all for keeping medical records private, but boy howdy I’d be interested to see how many abortions these morally superior assholes have funded while withholding your right to the same. You know damn well if Kavanaugh had to suffer through just a single period, let alone a lifetime of them, hygiene products would be free and insurance would cover a morphine drip for cramps with no questions.
A woman’s body is her own. Full stop. If you disagree, go read something else. Political disagreements are one thing. Denying people of basic human rights is quite another. How does one reconcile the stern belief that women shouldn’t have the ability to decide what is best for their body, for their mental health, for their very lives, and having any respect for your wife, or your daughter? The mental disconnect is astounding. This country’s regression has been accelerating rapidly as of late. Our climate is super fucked, guns are killing our children despite the bullet-proof protection of thoughts and prayers, and there’s a war going on that doesn’t involve the US, which is fucking rare, and scary. We’re so obstinately dumb, fucking Polio is back.
Tear it down to the ground, because it is fucking broken.
I was pretty enamored with Dreadnought‘s 2019 release, Emergence. There are plenty of bands doing the progressive folk/extreme metal hybrid, but the Denver group really stuck out to me for their complexity and restraint as much as their obvious chops, so I had raised expectations for The Endless (Profound Lore Records). As I knew it would be, it’s a stunner, but I find myself immersed a little deeper than I would have expected. Dreadnought make you wait nearly a full three minutes for the first blast of extremity, and it’s this reserve that really makes these songs breathe. The dual vocals of Kelly Schilling and Lauren Vieira soar throughout. The guitar and keyboards are interwoven such that it becomes impossible to imagine one without the other. Jordan Clancy and Kevin Handlon provide a dynamic, undulating rhythmic bed that ebbs and punches with ease. More importantly, these songs have purposeful direction, something that can most certainly be lacking in the wankery-obsessed progressive metal realm. There is no wasted effort or noodling to be found on The Endless. I’ll admit, I have an insatiable itch for well written progressive metal, so I am the target audience here. Even so, I’d imagine an album as good as this would have nailed me if that weren’t the case. Outstanding stuff, and easily becoming one of my favorite albums this year.
It’s way too easy to take a band like Municipal Waste for granted these days, with the pillaging of every genre giving a retro feel to music in general, not to mention that the band have been a consistent workhorse for almost two decades now. I honestly didn’t know how much my soul needed some throw-back crossover beatdowns until I popped the tape in the deck. These guys are fuckin’ pros, man, and having come of age to East Coast Thrash and Crossover, these songs are like home to me right now. Not feeling a song? Wait thirty seconds til it kicks your teeth in. The band hasn’t lost their sense of humor, and Electrified Brain (Nuclear Blast) is all the better for it, but these guys are serious about their jams. Besides, Dave Witte is one of the most beautiful motherfuckers I’ve ever met. “Restless And Wicked” is my current jam, but there are sweet riffs to be had all over.
Holy shit, Wormrot does not fuck around on Hiss (Earache). They pack a whole lot into thirty three minutes of Grindcore, with lots of weird textures going on (check out “Pale Moonlight” for a bit of a breather), but make no mistake, Hiss is all about the speed. Still, the band knows its way around a groove, as “Seizures” will attest. I just read that lead vocalist Arif has left the group, so this is a cap to this line-ups run, all worth a listen depending on your tolerance for production values (the early shit is gloriously raw and snare-y!). Good Grind is good.
Full disclosure, I spent a fair chunk of my available listening time for this column totally absorbed in a handful of older releases, and I fully blame the twentieth anniversary of Opeth’s Blackwater Park for this. How is that record twenty years old? Goddamn. Anyway, that album made me (made me!) track down a copy of Ghost Reveries, which is (hot take alert!!!) the far superior album, and for me, the pinnacle of the band’s powers. There is no finer a song than “The Baying Of The Hounds” in their catalog. Period. So good. Same with Trap Them Darker Handcraft, one of the finest encapsulations of crusty HM-2 worship the 2010’s produced and a total banger, start to finish.
I certainly haven’t kept my love of Magic Circle a secret, so hearing that vocalist Brendan Radigan joined Sumerlands for their new album has me absolutely crushing the self-titled self-titled one, as well as his Stone Dagger single (Electric Assault Records). All of these albums are well worth revisiting!
Molder‘s Engrossed In Decay (Prosthetic Records) is right in my wheelhouse. Four on the floor Death Metal with double bass breakdowns and Obituary-esque vocals. I honestly wish the production was a little shittier, but this is a very satisfying chunk of Death Metal. Hulder’s The Eternal Flame (20 Buck Spin) is ferocious Black Metal, and some of the finest I’ve recently heard. I’m ready for the full length! I’ll be honest, the new Northless didn’t really grab me at first, but the more you listen, the greater the rewards, I suppose. The middle chunk of A Path Beyond Grief (Translation Loss) ups the sludge tempo for a little variation, and the closing track is a mini epic unto itself. I don’t know why, but I expected some sort of Tech-Death when I threw on the new Xenoglyph. That is not what I got. Instead, I got an earful of dense, psychedelic deep-space Black Metal. That’s a total win in my book, this is good shit. Turian‘s No Longer Human (Wise Blood) is like a thrashy Noise Rock album, or a Noise Rock-laden Thrash record, or something. Whatever it is, it’s fuckin’ great. I don’t know what I expected when I threw on Chat Pile God’s Country (The Flenser), but it was not awesome Industrial. I’ve been missing out, because this is also nihilistically fuckin’ great.