Slicers, Hookers, Cutters August 2019: Agenda, Isole, and yeah, Slipknot

Slicers, Hookers, Cutters is a monthly rundown of the best and worst albums released during the previous month. Let’s be real…there’s only so much time we can dedicate to albums every month, so feel free to tweet @BethpageBM and let us know what we missed. Understand, of course, that we may have actually hated the garbage you recommend…so if you don’t see a social shout-out for that release, you’ll just have to sit there and wonder whether we missed your comment…or whether your taste is terrible. This crushing paranoia is all part of the doom metal experience.

EAGLE: ‘Apocalypse Wasteland Blues by Agenda

‘Apocalyptic Wasteland Blues’ by Agenda

Obviously we tend to promote Black Metal around these parts when we’re discussing Norse music, but we’re absolutely all in for the “Crust” Punk / hardcore of groups like Agenda. The more obvious comparison point in Norse music is Kvelertak, who continue to gather acclaim for their “black ‘n’ roll.” If you—like many members of the crust community—think the worship of Celtic gods and sleaze of those respective genres is bullshit, you’ll be more satisfied perhaps with the music (and logo) of Agenda. The Crust subgenre’s abuse of the D-beat is well documented, and the stomachs of those at the front row will take equal abuse when the pit surges forward into the fence. A good crust band has anthemic choruses, and so does Agenda. It’s mildly surprising at the end of this album to recall the total lack of gang vocals, maybe because you yourself were providing them once you figured out the track title. The band’s probably not prog enough to match Refused, but it sure doesn’t mind lending a more human brutality to the Misfits. The whole of the album can be summed up with the last line of “Save Your Praise”: “Fuck you.” Annnnnnnnnd we just realized what trap we fell into by praising them.

 

BIRDIE: ‘Dystopia’ by Isole

‘Dystopia’ by Isole

We try not to let the outside stuff impact how we view a record. Album art and titles, for example. Isole’s new one has so many problems before you can even unwrap the plastic. Dystopia was a cliched album title before Megadeth had a chance to use it, which makes it all the more predictable now. The album art doesn’t help, seemingly a Lovecraftian take on Korn’s Follow The Leader. Now you understand what Isole had to overcome to earn a “Birdie” status with BPBM. Fortunately, the Doom Metal band doesn’t let thematic elements of “dystopia” override the subgenre’s requisite concepts of sadness, loneliness, nihilism and, uh, doom. Case-in-point, “You Went Away” takes the band from being compared to Candlemass to absolutely surpassing Candlemass’s own 2019 release. The entire record takes the epic nature of the band’s Swedish forebears and fills it up with the more cruel realities of another Doom standby, Paradise Lost. Death growls are used conservatively, for maximum effectiveness upon doing so. Oh, and church bells, duh.

 

BIRDIE: ‘When We Are Forgotten’ by Imperium Dekadenz

‘When We Are Forgotten’ by Imperium Dekadenz

Man, speaking of Doom Metal themes, here’s a Black Metal band channeling the most Doom Metal of themes in both album cover and title. When We Are Forgotten, yeesh. Maybe Isole couldn’t get a hold on more Doom-appropriate titles and artwork because Imperium Dekadenz had already booked it all? Look, feelings of Doom aren’t exactly new to the Black Metal world. Rumors swirl that Deafheaven may indeed be a Doom Metal band in a well-crafted disguise. But, of course, Imperium Dekadenz could also be Deafheaven in disguise. It’s an “atmospheric” Black Metal band, so of course its instrumentals are going to touch on the whole “blackgaze” thing, even if it never quite reaches that point. What you’re hearing is a grandiosity that’s been around Black Metal for like, ever, but the atmospheric angle (versus, say, the actual orchestras something like Emperor might use) makes you think you’re listening to something mournful, or even depressive. But do you best and consider the lyrics, even the title, for a song like “Transcendence” and snap yourself out of the idea that you’re listening to one of Black Metal’s more emotive subgenres. Of course, it would help if we didn’t open the album’s summary by making a bunch of Doom Metal references.

 

BIRDIE: ‘Nocturnal Gates’ by Freedom of Fear

‘Freedom of Fear’ by Nocturnal Gates

Still working on the ol’ family trip to the Melbourne Sandbelt, so in the meantime we’ll be looking at pictures from the region while enjoying the city’s impressive metal offerings, which produced two of our favorites from 2018. Freedom of Fear only dwells on a Melbourne label, hailing from the more Western Adelaide. Important to understand that “Freedom of Fear” and “Freedom From Fear” are totally different things. The latter means living in peace, and is totally lame. The former means accepting fear and even finding an ounce of satisfaction in falling to your death. Technical to the end, tracks such as “Abstract Venom” seem to be Tetris games where the band quickly assembles prog riffs as they fall in order to unlock the next song. Occasionally there are weird “bonus moments,” which in this case means a saxophone lick drops from the top of the screen. I would call this “tech-death-for-the-melodeath/At The Gates” crowd. Jade Monserrat is not necessarily the strongest vocalist—and we mean that in the literal “her voice is not as loud” sense—but she may be the victim of a bad mix. Probably deserves some more volume to fill the void a bit.

 

BIRDIE: ‘Pyrefication by Pa Vesh En  

‘Pyrefication’ by Pa Vesh En

If you came away from our Isole writeup thinking “this Doom is much too clean!” and from our Imperium Dekadenz writeup thinking “this Black is much too clean!”, here’s your happy place. Pa Vesh En has answered your concerns by, apparently, taking his instruments to the deepest depths of some cave in Belarus and recording straight to vinyl (the recording implements are located in another section of the cave, obviously. Looking at his setup is like a friggin’ D&D map). The final result is muffled production that would make Bob Nekrasov proud, and audio that comes with a vinyl crackle, even on compact disc. It takes some sort of discipline to create such a grand sound—you can hear the traditional Black Metal instrumentation through the murk, not to mention a second layer of hymnal vocals and occasional keyboard—but Pa Vesh is committed to the obscurity of it all. Church of Bones is a great album title for any subgenre, but such a vessel didn’t capture the venue behind Pa Vesh En’s debut very well. His sound is designed for a church of stone and/or earth, where little escapes into the light.

PAR: ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ by Slipknot

The typical badmouthing of Slipknot you’ll see on our social feeds doesn’t exactly stem from an outright dislike of Slipknot. It’s not the greatest band in the world, but they can sure write a hook every now and then. A good ‘Knot cover band name could be “Saved by The Hook,” because that’s Corey Taylor, more often than not. Same as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We’re willing to overlook Anthony Kiedis’s addiction to the concept of California because he usually finds a swinging hook to go with it. And that’s cool; both of those bands deserve to make a happy buck using that strategy. It gets weird when Taylor et al, but mostly Taylor, start to believe in themselves as leaders of some revolution. Basically this boils down to the revulsion we felt during the vocalist’s pulpit moment within “All Out Life” (a good RHCP song title, less-than-coincidentally). “My time, my attention, my quality should not be bought and sold for convenience’s sake, ever!” This would be annoying coming from the lips of Neil Young, much less a band built upon tracks such as “People = Shit.” And it’s telling that “People = Shit” means more to us than anything on We Are Not Your Kind. It’s not a bad album. Probably a better album than Iowa, honestly, with obvious songwriting development shown on singles such as “Nero Forte.” But as our preference for aforementioned “People” suggests, can’t help but there’s a more raw “happy” medium out there.

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