Thursday, November 5, 2015


Pulling Teeth helped me conquer a fear of flying. On a hot summer's night in Baltimore, they shared a bill with Ceremony - right around the time Rohnert Park was released -, Magrudergrind as well as the highly underrated The Love Below and much missed Judas (Along with Triac and Hatewaves now that I think about it). I had pretty much worn out my copy of Paranoid Delusions/Paradise Illusions and knew PT really didn't tour all that much at that point so I faced fears and bought a plane ticket.

The Baltimore experience was interesting and after barely surviving a taxi ride - not to mention wandering the city with zero GPS or knowledge of good block, bad block for a solid six plus hours - I found Charm City Art Space. The show was ridiculous in the best possible way. The Love Below threw condoms into the crowd, Judas' singer head butted a wall and bled, Triac and Magrudergrind killed it, Ross from Ceremony hung from the ceiling as the band wailed below. But to see Pulling Teeth, on their home turf was what really stood out. The passion and chaos that fills their entire discography were so evident live. And as minuscule as it sounds, the fact they took the time after the show to talk about their music and lyrics was really cool. Anyhow, I flew back to Buffalo the next day and went to work immediately after but that night really stood out.

Over the course of doing music reviews and write ups for the various guises of Total VVar as well as Halifax Collect and even an issue of Midnight Mass - issue #2 - Dom was always super friendly and inviting, even taking time away from the label and his family to do a lengthy interview which I still appreciate to this day. So as a fan of PT I was stoked to be able to do a review of their final record, Funerary. But I wasn't expecting it to hit me as hard as it did. From a personal standpoint, it was a heavy time so to hear a track like "At Peace" was comforting. Even to a jaded hardcore kid, the record had something for everyone. Riffs galore, collaborations with Mike Cheese & DC of Gehenna, Dwid, and Jeff Beckman to just name a few, fast parts and slowed down doomy sections... It's something that'll take multiple listens to fully digest and appreciate. It's still one of the reviews I'm most proud of - and if you go into Halifax Collect's archives you can still give it a read. Of course as an unabashed fan of the band, I wish they went on to put out more music but it would've been almost impossible to top Funerary. And it's a fitting epitaph.

As much as I love the chaotic no bullshit, fast paced tracks that dominated Vicious Skin and Martyr Immortal it was something like the slow, methodical crawl that filled Funerary's final half that blew me away. And that's not discrediting the first half at all. Filled with absolute rippers barely crossing the three minute mark, that title track makes you go "what the fuck?" Clocking in at over ten minutes it's a journey in the same vein as Gehenna's "Deathkamp Ov The Skull" where despite it being on the length get side there isn't a moment wasted or a section that feels out of place. And with as many guest appearances the track has it could have been an absolute mess and sounded disjointed but everything gels so well that even the transition from the solo laden previous track "Grudgeholder" is smooth.

There were so many moments during the course of Funerary where I didn't know what to expect next. PT throws everything but the kitchen sink at the listener over the course of eleven tracks yet those surprises bring me back to the times where I first sat down and heard "Bloodwolves" or "Paradise Illusions." Funerary was like taking everything that worked so well in their previous recordings and upping the intensity to an almost breaking point.

I miss Pulling Teeth, but the fact I can pull out one of their LPs and still get as excited and hyped as I was on a hot as shit day over five years ago is a feeling I can't really put into words. A thousand bands are disposable and say nothing of real importance, but Pulling Teeth left a clear mark and an untouchable discography in its wake.


A few years back a band emerged to release one vicious three-song demo. First seen as a cassette tape from Hemlock 13, A389 Recordings later put out the demo on vinyl. For a label that has put out some serious great records, there was something about the Unholy Majesty demo that made it stand out. Much like the highly underrated Gray Ghost Succubus 7”, the music itself sounded like nothing else out there. The influences are evident in Unholy Majesty – a (un) healthy love of Integrity, Ringworm, and that classic and often replicated 90's Clevo sound – but along with the solos that make you want to head bang yourself stupid and snarling vocals, there was something under the surface that made made it truly have a powerful presence. As the CTW (Who put out killer records from some of my favorite UK bands such as xRepentencex, Rot In Hell, Wayfarer) page says, “it's been a long time coming” for this full-length. And the wait was completely worth it.

All Is Dust is a ten track monster of a record with a ferociousness that I haven't heard since the aforementioned Rot In Hell's As Pearls Before Swine. “The Keys Of Hel” being a perfect example as the guitar squeals and the pace just changes from a chugging along to a full on riff feast to close things out. There's a lot to like about the record. The softer murmuring vocals in “Malleus Maleficarum” are a nice touch – in fact the vocals are tremendous, very much at the forefront of the sound without drowning out the music - as is the slow build up in the second to last track “All The Way Alive”. Whilst it's not as violent and breakneck as the other songs, it's an interesting three-minute lead into the closer, “The Tempering.”
Unholy Majesty delivers an stunner of a debut after teasing the world with just that demo for three or four years. The appreciation of that Clevo sound is there but All Is Dust is not just a rehash. No, this is perfect metallic hardcore that doesn't rely on silly gimmicks. It seems like bands carrying that holy terror sound have disappeared in the last couple years.. Unholy Majesty reminds us that there are still some surprises hiding in the shadows.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

GEHENNA - Deathkamp Ov The Skull

Gehenna has steadily been releasing various splits and EPs for over twenty years, but the latest record Deathkamp Ov The Skull may be their most frantic and chaotic yet. The last handful of splits have shown various forms of the band. “Disciple In My Own Image” and “Lord Of The Witch” showcased a nightmarish psychedelic sound that was only previously touched on whilst “Get Fucked Up” and “Within The Peyote Cult” (You can even throw in the split with Integrity because it smashed together both an experimental side and the fast thrash that makes them so recognizable) were fast rippers. 

Combined with the last two or three EPs on Holy Terror records, Deathkamp Ov The Skull is a slow, methodical crawl into the maelstrom. Clocking in at over seven minutes, the opening eponymous track is a true journey. They draw you in that slow build up, teasing that moment where everything melts down and chaos rains. But it doesn't come just yet. Mike Cheese's vocals dominate the soundscape as tortured howls. And it isn't until past the four minute mark that the pace quickens and you're in the midst of an unstoppable attack. Any hint of a lengthy crawl is quickly replaced by pounding drums and squealing guitars. The breakneck speed slides right into the follow up track “First Blood Part II” (Which I think was “Strategic Annihilation” on the highly limited and sought after They Begged For A War lathe cut released a few years back?). 

It's a quick vicious whirlwind. As the music washes over you, it's like being trapped in a storm with no escape. Suffocating and dangerous. To compare it with their previous material isn't fair because for my money, this is them at their most violent but the overall power reminds of a track like “No One Will Miss You” or a “I Made You” off their second full-length Upon The Gravehill. “First Blood Part II” is over in a flash. 

“TormentOrr” is a fucking awesome track. Gehenna enlists Integrity's legendary voice Dwid Hellion and Orr's insane level of riffs to put a brand new spin on an older track. The result is an audio assault on the senses. The combination of Mike Cheese and Dwid on vocals is something truly terrifying – as is the cries of “I'm your tormentor”. It's a killer track and a perfect way to close things out. 

In three tracks, Gehenna reminds the masses why they're one of the best and just how ridiculously good the upcoming full-length is going to be. Whilst they've remained in the shadows a bit over the last couple years, perfecting their plan of attack Gehenna is going to be doing a West Coast tour soon and you'd be a fool to miss out if you have any semblance of a chance to see them. The last couple of records have shown that no matter if it's fast or slow paced, they're going to fucking attack and there's no shelter in sight.