Friday, December 15, 2017

New Music Revue: Cannibal Corpse, Electric Wizard, and more gruesome, ghastly new releases

October 18, 2017 by Adam Marsh, student editor and Greg Pratt, managing editor

Electric Wizard
Wizard Bloody Wizard
(Spinefarm Records)

English doom metal goes with Halloween like beer goes with bar nuts. Electric Wizard’s latest album, Wizard Bloody Wizard, is a great addition to the haunting festivities this year, because, to put it bluntly, it’s creepy as hell.

“Necromania” makes me feel as though I’m walking down a dark, deserted street at 1 am on my way to a drug deal that I might not come out of alive. Okay, maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of Narcos, but, seriously, the song is freaky, and powerful: its opening riffs bear a slight resemblance to parts of Crowbar’s sludge metal classic Odd Fellows Rest.

“Hear the Sirens Scream” is flat, and its riffs are repetitive at times, but the track redeems itself: it’s a flip-flopping, invigorating, nauseating roller coaster—but a pleasurable one. It’s well worth enduring the fear that it conjures up, and it’s also worth experiencing the mind-blowing Halloween-appropriate vocals, which sound as though guitarist/vocalist Jus Oborn is both stoned and possessed. In my opinion, this album is better than fan favourite Dopethrone but nowhere near as good as Witchcult Today; luckily for us at this time of year, it’s more suitable for Halloween than either of those albums, because Wizard is a hell of a lot creepier than either of them.

The legendary stoner and sludge sounds that give this band their heartbeat are present as always. “Mourning of the Magicians” keeps my blood pressure up, and the lyrics, when sung in Oborn’s intimidating, fierce, serial-killer way, send chills up my spine. In the song, he sings, “Goodbye, farewell, I’ll see you in Hell”; can it get more Halloween-friendly than that?

The songs often feel like an album in themselves, not just because of sheer length, but because each has a darker tone than the last. It’s easy, simplistic listening that is perfect for the season, but it’s also rich enough to keep the hair on the back of your neck raised through its storytelling.

I’m pretty sure “The Reaper” could be played at the devil’s resurrection ceremony. The band slows things down a bit with the song, and it’s the climax to the eeriness of this album. It comes early, around the halfway point, and from there, the band sure doesn’t shy away from bringing a dark, dooming death to life.

-Adam Marsh

Cannibal Corpse
Red Before Black
(Metal Blade Records)

“Destroyed Without a Trace.” “Heads Shoveled Off.” “Code of the Slashers.” “Only One Will Die.” As a quick skim of the song titles confirms, Cannibal Corpse, the kings of horror-movie death metal (well, Mortician might have a thing or two to say about that, but that’s an argument we’ll save for later), are back. Red Before Black is the 14th album from the Florida-based lovers of gore, and it shows them continuing to ride their mid-career wave of vitality that began back with 2006’s excellent Kill.

For the uninitiated, the band’s sound is an almost textbook example of what good, solid death metal sounds like: a rhythm section that is wound so tight they are ready to explode; guitar work that is intricate but never overly noodly; a vocal performance by the one and only George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher that is truly harrowing.

They can blast with the best of them (see “Remaimed”), and they can drag the listener through body-ridden swamplands (“Corpus Delicti”); either way, few do it as well as Cannibal Corpse.

-Greg Pratt

Death Revenge
(Relapse Records)

In the promotional materials marketing California gore metal band Exhumed’s sixth full-length, Death Revenge, their record label refers to the album as being “disgusting.” This is a selling point in Exhumed’s world.

What that world sounds like is reminiscent of a toilet being flushed, but with melody. And the toilet is full, so it’s a gurgling, burbling mass of sound, but amidst the swirling death metal cacophony, there are tons of guitar melodies to keep things listenable.

Make no mistake, Exhumed can write a song: “The Harrowing” sounds like thrash metal amped up to 11, and “The Anatomy Act of 1832” is an epic feat of mature songwriting not often seen in such extreme forms of music.

The best part? This is a concept album based on a true story of grave robbings, murders, and black-market cadavers, all set in the 1820s in Scotland. It’s the kind of gruesome and, yes, disgusting tale that few bands could pull off basing a whole album around. But then again, few bands are Exhumed.

-Greg Pratt

The Blood of Gods
(Metal Blade Records)

Gwar is the goriest of the gory, the band’s live shows a cornucopia of fluids sprayed all over the audience, their whole intergalactic-alien schlock just tons and tons of fun.

Unfortunately, their inimitable singer, Oderus Urungus, blasted off this mortal coil since their last album, 2013’s Battle Maximus, and new guy Blothar is left to take his place. That is an extremely difficult position to fill, but here Blothar does a fine job: although he doesn’t have the personality of Urungus (who does?), he manages to be both humorous and menacing in these songs, walking the fine line between parody and serious metal that a Gwar frontman should.

The songs themselves go between Sabbath doom worship (the opening “War on Gwar”) and insane nursery rhymes from Hell (“El Presidente”). In other words, it’s business as usual from the scumdogs of the universe, The Blood of Gods an admirable enough entry into a long catalogue, one that started off as novelty and ended up becoming decent and enjoyable straight-up metal.

-Greg Pratt

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