Welcome to the first installment of Brutal Bits & Pieces, a monthly miniseries culled directly from the extreme metal underground. The aim is to shed some light, and perhaps a little blood, on some of the grittiest, grimiest, and heaviest bands the metal realm has to offer.
Banisher – Oniric Delusions (Deformeathing)
First on the docket is Polish tech death band Banisher, a quartet that features a hefty veteran lineup of current Decapitated, Ketha, Shodan, and Fetor players (the latter two bands, both of the tech and brutal strains, have new releases this year). Banisher’s third full-length is Oniric Delusions, and while it certainly harbors its fair share of dreamy technicality, it doesn’t quite meet the standards of acts like First Fragment or The Zenith Passage.
It’s a frenetic and groove-heavy record, bolstered by a muscular rhythm section, forceful vocals, and precision riff-play, with intermittent solos adding gracious color and melody. The steam-engine drumming and relentless energy is reminiscent of death/grind acts like Misery Index or Keitzer, while the more off-kilter grooves and quirky riffs remind of French acts Trepalium or Gojira.
Carnophage – Monument (Unique Leader)
Next up is Carnophage and their second full-length release in Monument, the long-awaited follow-up to their 2008 debut Deformed Future//Genetic Nightmare. Hailing from Turkey and featuring current and ex-members of Cenotaph and Black Omen, the quintet play a decidedly technical and brutal style of death metal without straying too deep into either territory.
Aided by Cihan Engin’s infernal cover art, the music is dense and battering, but every so often evens out the more uncompromising sections with moments of welcome clarity. The commanding vocals and busy atmosphere recall the majesty of Nile, while the demented blasting and oppressive, no-holds-barred verve smacks of Hate Eternal and Immolation.
Knife Hits – Eris (Dead Tank)
The quintet in hardcore act Knife Hits call both Philly and Chicago home, and their full-length debut, Eris, well, it likewise embodies the band’s flexible nature. Shaped upon the Greek goddess of strife and the related philosophy of discordianism, which basically throws order and disorder on its head, Knife Hits use the inherent angst and temper tantrums of hardcore to exciting effect.
They instill moments of crawling sludge and doom, as well as a strong dose of melody and Mastodonian noodling, to create an album that finds focus amidst all the freneticism. Inspired by the metallic hardcore scene of the early 1990s/2000s, the moody and passionate songwriting of Eris reflects violently, accurately with their namesake.
Negative Thought Process – Methylene Butterfly (Hibernacula)
Based on real-life experiences with drug addiction, self-harm, destructive relationships, and suicide, Methylene Butterfly is the absolutely pummeling debut record from UK-based duo Negative Thought Process. Playing some bastardized version of crust, grind, and power violence, the band feature current and former members of Victorian Whore Dogs, Exquisite Ending and Strike Offensive. This firsthand knowledge, both chemical and musical, has enabled them to marry the record’s innate pessimism with palpable legitimacy.
With ceiling-shaking blasts and d-beat kicks, fuzzed-over and crunched-out riffs that border on the Sunlight sound, and vocals mean and forceful enough to power-wash your back porch, Negative Thought Process have burst on to the scene to fix your Nails withdrawals.
Nuclear Holocaust – Overkill Commando (Selfmadegod)
Influenced by old-school bands like Terrorizer, Extreme Noise Terror, and Repulsion, Polish death-grind quartet Nuclear Holocaust seek to live up to their idols, and one hell of an explosive band name, with their full-length debut, Overkill Commando. Fresh off a four-way split that saw them drop eleven tracks, Nuclear Holocaust have churned out another twenty rapid-fire grind meltdowns, none of which eclipse the two-minute mark.
The constant blasting and grimy barrage of thrashing riffs are ferociously performed, with fittingly dense sewer-drain vocals keeping things nice and ugly. But it all soon runs its course, and while standout tracks like “Vomiting Blood” and “Nuclear Waste Repository” add character and gracious tempo shifts, tunnel vision and a desire to race through the motions leaves Overkill Commando feeling oddly, well, overcooked.