CD Review: “Electric Messiah” by High On Fire

High On Fire pay tribute to the legendary Lemmy Kilmister with its aptly titled eighth record, Electric Messiah. The trio’s blend of Motorhead, Black Sabbath and Slayer is in full throttle throughout the record. “Spewn from the Earth” is a straight trasher replete with frontman Matt Pike’s guttural wails and ground shaking guitar riffs. Drummer Des Kensel’s manic double bass only heightens the song’s intensity. “Steps of the Ziggurat/House of Enlil” is one of two epic songs on this album that surpass nine minutes. A metallic take on the history of Sumeria, “Steps” is a towering piece of riffs that trudge forward, engulfing the listener’s ears. Things speed back up on the title track, which would do Lemmy proud. “Electric Messiah” is a blitzing take-no-prisoners assault of pummeling double bass and lighting palm muted riffs. This track offers little breathing room and forces you to bang your head. The way it should be. The second epic track, “Sanctioned Annihilation,” is composed of a driving triplet drum pattern underneath sludgey guitar riffs. This leads to a disjointed, yet cohesive tempo that is slow but mid-paced. There is little drag despite its 10 and a half minute duration, and it stands as the record’s centerpiece. Album closer “Drowning Dog” is a galloping psychedelic rocker that concludes the album in grand fashion.

Electric Messiah rarely lets up throughout its 56 minute duration. This record pays homage to Lemmy in the best way: playing loud, fast and heavy. Matt Pike’s riffs attack from every angle while bassist Jeff Matz and drummer Kensel easily keep up. The record’s primary weak spot is “The Witch and the Christ” which lacks direction. Matt and company are at their best when they are dynamic and have an end goal. Luckily, this is only one misstep and the other eight tracks more than make up for it. The production is rugged yet clear, and one can hear the band’s pugnacious sound in all its glory.

Matt certainly paid proper respect on Electric Messiah. A heavy, thrilling musical journey that will leave ears bleeding and necks hurting. Fans of the band should pick this up as well as folks new to the group. This is certainly worship music for the Church of Metal.

Check out the band’s official website here:

http://highonfire.net/

CD Review: “Decision Day” by Sodom

It took three years, but the legendary Teutonic thrash outfit Sodom is back with its fifteenth record, Decision Day. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the band’s formation in 1981. However, the band still retains the aggression and Satanic vigor of its early years. The opening track, “In Retribution,” blasts through with reckless abandon with its chainsaw riffing and maniacal drumming. Frontman and bassist Tom Angelripper’s fiendish shrieks are as menacing as they were on Persecution Mania. The title track has a strong Slayer influence with its dissonant guitar chords and double bass drumming. It is a thrasher with a solid groove but a little underwhelming compared to the initial track. However, the barraging “Caligula” is a mammoth tribute to the decadent Roman emperor. The lumbering guitar riffs sound like a centurion of demons clearing a path for Caligula himself. A Sodom record is not complete without a blasphemous track, and “Who Is God” fulfills that requirement. The punkish tempo moves things at a hellish pace before it is drowned by a molten breakdown towards the end of the song. Another standout is the hellish “Belligerence” with its sinister meld of groove, blast beats and punk. The schizophrenic nature of the track puts the listener on alert for its duration, never knowing what will happen next.

Decision Day does not attempt the reinvent the wheel. Sodom is more than able to do what it wants at this point. Still, the trio deserves props for not simply dialing it in. Decision Day has great songs and there is some solid musicianship. One should not forget that Sodom was the least technical band out of the “Teutonic Three” with Destruction and Kreator pushing the musical envelope. Still, Sodom won the award for being the most extreme out of the trio both in music and lyrics. Decision Day shows the band playing blackened thrash the way it is meant to be played, nothing more and certainly no less. The production is slightly murky, and it works as it gives the music a raw edge.

Well, the grizzled trio have created another devilish treat with Decision Day. The are some solid songs on this record that will cause headbanging and moshing on the band’s upcoming tour. That is all that matters at this point. Sodom have a winning formula and it sticks to it on Decision Day. If one decides to purchase this record they will not be disappointed.

For news and tour dates, check out the band’s website http://www.sodomized.info/?l=en

CD Review: “Constricting Rage of the Merciless” by Goatwhore

The album is relentlessly fast and coarse.

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Review by David Feltman

Criminally underrated and perhaps unfairly pigeonholed into the blackened death metal genre, Goatwhore is one of the most consistent and hardest working acts in extreme metal. Despite misfortune and multiple lineup changes, the band has managed to not only maintain its core, but also release a new album every two-to-three-years like clockwork while constantly touring.

While fans considered 2012’s Blood for the Master to be the band’s high point, Constricting Rage of the Merciless appears hell bent on one-upping its predecessor. The album is relentlessly fast and coarse, inviting comparison to Carcass’ recent Surgical Steel. The band’s sound is truly blackened in imagery only. The New Orleans natives cultivate a technical death metal style that is cross pollenated with all of the speed and shred of traditional thrash and the sleazy grooves of southern steel. Frontman Sammy Duet, of Acid Bath and Crowbar fame, has let his pedigree sound germinate with Goatwhore. Tracks like “Baring Teeth for Revolt” and “FBS” shift gears easily into Motorhead-esque grooves without losing momentum. Duet never shies away from shredding, dive-bombing guitar heroics on tracks like “Reanimating Sacrifice” and “Externalize This Hidden Savagery.” However, he shreds sparingly on the album, lightly seasoning the occasional track but never overpowering the other elements.

With the cult following the band has built in its tenure, Goatwhore could easily coast through tours on its existing back catalogue and/or idly turn out more of the same (cough*Cannibal Corpse*cough). But despite a nearly 20-year career, Goatwhore feels like a band just hitting its stride.

Goatwhore’s new album is brimming with energy, but to get the full gut pounding experience this is a band you should see live. Luckily, Goatwhore will be playing The Masquerade in Atlanta on 7/30/2014 with Morbid Angel.