Cassette Assault! Noise, Noisy, Noisier!

Uh oh, folks, it’s time for another…cassette assault!!!!  Or perhaps those exclamatives should be written as !!!!11!11!!!!  Either way, we’re bringing it in that beautiful analog format that warps in the sun and makes stuff like this sound even better.  Last time we had a selection of four beautiful pieces of plastic from one label, No Visible Scars.  This time around, we have a selection of four that fit into one general concept: noise.  Or, rather, stuff that’s actually noise and stuff that uses noise to its advantage.  Some literal noise, some other genres that mix noise into the fray, you get it right?  Then let’s get it going.  Pull out that Maganavox with the neon colors and Bauhaus sticker, use a pencil to adjust the broken volume switch, crank it, live it.


Ana Venus – I AM MERZBOW

This one would be more properly titled I Am Masonna, because that’s about what it sounds like in totality.  At least he’s honest on the cover, visually speaking, because what you’re in for is generally noise and basically screaming randomly through a megaphone.  As such, it’s been done countless times.  Now, before you get in a huff, realize this.  We like noise around here, and we’ve heard a great deal of it.  But noise is deceptive, there are tons of “acts” out there that do the usual, which typically involves pedal pounding and screaming whilst doing something provocative, like tossing fake blood into the crowd or flashing sexual organs or fake versions thereof.  Does this equal something of interest?  First time, maybe, after that kind of loses the flavor, the honeymoon is over, and you get married.  Ana Venus comes from Hungary and plays the usual noise.  Harsh, expressive sound patterns are the norm, with screams overlayed for further confrontation.  As such, it does what it does just well enough to pass average, but don’t be expecting anything unusual or new.  The title I AM MERZBOW says what it needs to, namely, “this is typical noise that bows to the greats.”  Ana Venus Official Facebook  Score: 3.5 / 5


Chain Gang Grave – When Your Friends Become Cops

Boy do these guys ever need a Facebook page or site outside of Bandcamp, like seriously.  See that looming, eerie being on the cover?  That’s their career coming behind you, hands waiting to strangle the hip out of your veins and leave bruises all over your neck that you try to write of as hickeys because you actually enjoyed it.  Somehow managing to poke their head out of the crowded Brooklyn scene, Chain Gang Grave play an angry, noisy, turbulent form of crust/sludge.  They’re similar to the ill-fated act Pollution, and just as aggressive.  The vocals are delivered with this awesome echo that’s somewhere between punk hollering and hardcore screaming, but yet infuses itself with a bit of the death.  The guitars are so evilly corrupted it pleases the soul of us fallen ones, as chords are torn to pieces and reassembled.  And the drumming is notable in that it doesn’t satisfy with mere keep-it-in-step tempo, it goes for the rolling, falling everywhere approach with sick fills and stomping, brutal glass-into-the-face tempo.  With James Plotkin putting his name on it, it’s amazing these guys have yet to apparently play a single fraggin show.  Really?  God damn it, get the Hell out there and mess it up.  Chain Grave Gang Official Bandcamp  Score: 5 / 5


Ethereal Shroud – Absolution|Emptiness

Woah, even the Bandcamp page for this is shrouded in darkness.  You have to mouse highlight to read any of it!  Too bad you can’t somehow do that to the essence of your life, because Absolution|Emptiness practically destroys it.  Ethereal Shroud takes a proper stance against all the stupid in black metal (racism,  jingoistic nationalism, etc.), but keeps all the genius (depression, corruption, etc.).    It’s not an easy one to stomach, though, and is clearly meant for the initiated.  Absolution|Emptiness takes the haggard pace of funeral doom and increases the speed using the crunch of black metal, which is the complete opposite.  How did it work here is shrouded in mystery, get it?  Actually, it’s easy to explain.  Take the blasting of black metal drumming and keep the guitars frail and frozen, as well as massive, without too much speed.  The atmosphere is top notch for depression, but not without fault.  The first half is a little hard to follow, because below average recording quality of the drums makes it sound like a wall of sound.  Better technique in that area, but not too much, would have been the best route to take to really derive the pounding out of it so the death marching had more force.  Luckily it starts to pick up after the second, atmospheric track, albeit slowly.  And slow is the word because of the funeral elements.  As such, it’s definitely not something to start with if you’re just learning about this kind of thing.  But, aside from some issue with the drums, it’s atmospheric where it needs to be, and melancholically aesthetic.   Ethereal Shroud Official Facebook  Score: 4 / 5


Morgirion – None Left to Worship

Holy shit, talk about a title with meaning.  Morgirion is pretty much completely unknown in black metal, but keep this kind of thing up and that’s going to change.  There are so many bands from America trying out the black metal thing, and really failing at it that it’s just embarrassing at times.  Xasthur keeps trying to puke out atmosphere but unfortunately he’s only good at writing song titles, Leviathan gets stuck in a mess of drum  pounding with that one damn cymbal that sounds like a telephone, and Crebain has the guts, or lack of brains, to actually use Halloween toys for samples while he poses holding a sledgehammer.  So, generally, it’s more of trying to retain an image than it is sounding like anything.  Morgirion, however, are about the music.  Screw the image, in fact if you look at the artwork it looks like one of their children did it for daddy in kindergarten.  None Left to Worship is exactly what it seeks out to be, classic black metal, recorded live.  That’s a risk anymore, but now and then, like here, someone gets lucky and it has just the right amount of haze.  You can still make out everything they’re playing, you can’t catch a single slip, and the vocals are more in the background than foreground, saving itself from the Darkthrone “where TF is the music?” curse.  Only four songs to devour here, but they crush.  They catch some awesome hooks and blast away with little effort.  It would be nice to see how these guys would hold on a full-length, but this is a nice sampling for now.  That last track, nice.  Morgirion Official Facebook  Score: 4.5 / 5


Written by Stanley Stepanic