Cheap Thrills #5: Wave of Sporulation
The holiday season is now behind us, but who knows what gnarly metallic delights await us in 2023? Over here in the land of Cheap Thrills, I’ve been going through my backlog in preparation for the new year’s new music, so here are some of my favorite name-your-price releases from the tail end of 2022. If you like what you hear, show your thanks to the artist by supporting them!
Mycorrhizae - Mycorrhizae
February 4, 2022
I won’t be able to avoid making fungal puns for this one, so I apologize in advance to the various mycelia-themed metal bands out there (please don’t hunt me down and reduce me to a pile of compost). Mycorrhizae, a speedy melodic black metal project from a former member of False, released their debut EP earlier this year, and it’s a delightful little shot of trebly riffs atop a substrate of pummeling percussion and steadily rumbling bass. Despite the fact that Mycorrhizae is ever so slightly raw around the edges (presumably for optimal sporulation), the epic melodies ring out loudly, clearly, and almost sweetly.
For more, check out Mycorrhizae’s sister projects Kaldeket and Svisselsant, each with their own takes on “very fast melodic black metal played at incredibly high speeds”.
Doom Beach - Copperhead
July 29, 2022
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
Sorry for yelling–it’s just that my own hearing is totally shot after listening to Copperhead, the latest album from Connecticut noise-punks Doom Beach. This two-man wrecking crew blew my ears to pieces with their all-out sonic assault, yet I kept crawling back for more. The album doesn’t play from the speakers so much as it erupts–it’s the aural equivalent of a nailbomb, perforating eardrums and collapsing cochlea with impunity. Ask not for whom the bell tolls–that’s just the tinnitus talking.
Bocc - Dolça mort en els llims del Rec Comtal
September 1, 2022
If you’re looking for something a bit grimier, then Bocc is just the ticket. “Straight from the sewers of Barcelona”, this Spanish trio delivers chunky, punky death metal interspersed with crushing doom passages. The title of their debut album roughly translates to “sweet death in the slimes of Rec Comtal” in Catalan, and the music certainly fulfills this promise. Wretched rasps and guttural roars reverberate through the tunnels as the guitars, bass, and drums buffet the listener with wave after wave of murky riffs. This is probably the most fun that you’ll have in a sewer all month (though I make no promises to sanitation workers).
Floating - The Waves Have Teeth
September 13, 2022
Opening with the sounds of gulls and distant foghorns before segueing into the first of many unsettling riffs, The Waves Have Teeth initially evokes Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, particularly the story’s eerie atmosphere and the distinct sense that the listener is on the verge of discovering a terrifying secret. However, Floating soon demonstrates that there is much more to their sinister dissonance, which exists not just between the notes themselves, but between the disparate components that make up their sound. Textbook death metal growls suddenly become unhinged howls, dreamy guitar leads bearing post-punk influences give way to gnarly chromatic riffs, and there’s a brief section late in the album where the bass is augmented with simple piano chords that manage to feel like the clanging of huge church bells. The Waves Have Teeth even ends with a nearly 10 minute progressive rock metal instrumental with nary a trace of metal to be found. The juxtaposition of these various elements won’t be for everyone, but Floating is nonetheless a fascinating project with a lot of promise.
Ch’ahom - Excavation
October 6, 2022
Though this is technically a rehearsal tape, Excavation can be enjoyed on its own as a sampler of Ch’ahom’s ruthless and belligerent death ritual. It sounds like it was recorded in a long forgotten catacomb whose blood-soaked stones lend each track an ominous, boomy reverb. This makes the slow ramp-up of tracks like “Xibalba” and “Knots of Abhorrence Part 1” even more menacing, as both songs gradually transition from ceremonial percussion and flutes to stomping war marches to torrents of blast beats and churning riffs.
While you’re at it, you might as well check out the new Prehistoric War Cult album for some more lethal German black/death. The two bands recently toured together, and I imagine that they put on one hell of a show.