I just got back from a weeklong trip to Chicago, which has long been one of my favorite cities in the world, and in spite of my hot dog hangover and scabby new tattoos, am still feeling all warm and fuzzy about it. I don’t go to many metal shows at home in New York City anymore, but I managed to hit up two gigs out in Chicago that both brought back memories of my touring days, and reminded me why I used to spend three or four nights a week crowding into dark rooms full of hot breath and distortion pedals. It was nice.
It felt necessary, too, because in the midst of so much chaos and division and acrimony, it can be all too easy to lose sight of the things we love about this music, and this community. Metal is still my favorite thing in the world, and metal shows are still the closest thing to a church I’ve got (with apologies to my Romanian Catholic grandmother). So, in the glare of a mind-bogglingly hot, humid Midwestern summer, I went to church.
I was already super excited to see sludge/crust trio Body Void play at Live Wire the day after the Fourth of July (it felt fitting, given their crushing sound and anti-oppressive politics). Then, once I realized that not only were Boston post-metallers Lesser Glow staying at the same place as I was (with The Atlas Moth’s Stavros and Alex, two of my oldest and dearest friends in this scene) but that I’d actually known their vocalist, Alec Rodriguez, for many years as well, it felt like I’d hit a sort of extremely specific lottery.
Their new album, Ruined , is a fucking belter, and they killed it live, too—they sounded immeasurably heavy, and their muscular, kinetic performance laid bare the members’ hardcore pasts. They’d been described to me as “Failure, but doom,” and while I won’t pretend to be overly familiar with Failure’s canon, they certainly nailed the doom part, in an early 2000s Hydra Head kind of way. It ripped (and of course Body Void were great, too, because they are excellent and their sound is gigantic and pained and all-consuming live).
I also got to see something a bit out of the ordinary on that trip: the return of Indian, who remain one of the heaviest, most palpably miserable doom bands in existence (god love ‘em). They’d been tapped as a special, secret opener for the YOB and Bell Witch at Reggie’s Rock Club, and this particular performance marked the band’s first live outing since the death of founding member and drummer Bill Bumgardner, who passed away in 2016. The band has since enlisted drummer Noah Leger, who made his live debut with the band that night; Leger’s powerful efforts that evening made it crystal clear that, while Bumgardner himself is irreplaceable, the music he helped create will live on in capable hands.
As a unit, Indian was absolutely punishing, and just as ugly, mean, and confrontational as I remember; with lips curled and eyes squeezed shut, guitarists Will Lindsay and Dylan O'Toole traded off corrosive howls, Ron DeFries dug into the low end, anchoring the agony, and Mark Solotroff of Bloodyminded and Anatomy of Habit held court in a corner of the stage, unfurling peals of anxious noise. This was a warm-up gig for their appearance at the Psycho Las Vegas festival later this summer, and man, if this was just a warm up…
In addition, YOB and Bell Witch were cathartic and perfect like they always are, and had been when I saw them play in New York City a week or so prior. I’m endlessly grateful that this strange life I’ve built for myself has enabled me to establish precious personal relationships with so many artists and musicians whose work and ethos’ I deeply appreciate and respect, and this particular trip was rich in those kinds of friendships and connections. I left the city feeling loved, and grateful, and ready to come out swinging.
That being said, here are a few of the best things I’ve listened to since Vacation Kim switched off and Work Kim logged the fuck back on. Most of them are punk or punk-adjacent, deal with it.
As far as I’m concerned, the appearance of anything new from Portland, OR queercore metalpunks Cliterati is cause for celebration. The fact that their latest offering comes twinned with Autopsy god Chris Reifert’s punked-up project Violation Wound as part of a new split LP is even more delicious—as is that said new material lights a signal fire right underneath the Nazi scumfuck asses that vocalist Ami Lawless and their bandmates are fighting against.
As we’ve seen before, Portland doesn’t suffer Nazi fools gladly, and Lawless is no exception. On “Alt-Wrong,” the track we’re premiering here today, you can feel the rage emanating from their very pores as they spit, “I'll wipe my ass / With your Confederate flag / Won't be no cross burning / Here tonight / We'll fuck you up / Stand and fight!”
You heard ‘em. No pasaran!
John Gossard’s second act continues to intrigue and engross whenever it rears its hoary head. A new two-track, 40-odd minute Dispirit demo popped up on Bandcamp with little fanfare last week, and it’s excellent; slow, meditative, and imposing, with its strains of magisterial black metal and chthonic doom twisting and turning around one another like gnarled roots. To call it merely “atmospheric” does the recording a disservice; Enantiodromian Birth is nothing short of elemental.
I've been following this rising Boise death metal trio for a few years now, and am delighted to see that they've made the leap into a greater slice of spotlight by finishing up their debut full length, Within a World Forgotten, and signing with Profound Lore. Their take on metal of death is positively barbaric—yeah, there's a certain moldering atmosphere, and it surely falls within the modern "dark death metal" pantheon, but my major takeaway is how fucking HEAVY this shit is. Whew. Keep an eye on these lads.
Ultra pissed, socially conscous hardcore punk from Bristol, UK that name-checks Dropdead, G.L.O.S.S. and Limp Wrist and just released a smashing new record on Alerta Antifascista Records—what’s not to like?
I came across Niboowin via an email from one of their members, Jimmy Danger, who also plays in the beyond wonderful Dakhma (who I gushed about last week). Their rough-edged screamo leaves plenty of room to emote, but fits rather well into the Fall of Efrafa school of musical thought, too, taking vast swaths of influence from black metal, post-hardcore, and epic crust punk (exacerbated by some nifty guest vocals from Cloud Rat’s Rorik Brooks). They’re currently on tour in Europe (!), catch ‘em if ya can!
I’ve long considered Norway’s Faustcoven to be a damn near perfect synthesis of black metal, death metal, and doom—illustrated most convincingly on 2012’s Hellfire and Funeral Bells. The duo’s upcoming new album, In the Shadow of Doom, upends that formula, skewing far more heavily towards straight-up, plodding sepulchral doom (though the atmosphere is still all spooky and graven, of course). I’m still digging it, and am especially into how fucking miserable they sound now. I don’t know what the hell went down in the Faustcoven camp since 2012, but it sounds like it wasn’t pretty.
What a brutal fucking name, man. It gives me awful chills—and I know that that’s exactly the kind of reaction Damian Master was hoping for. As the headman of Colloquial Sound Recordings, he and his many projects—from A Pregnant Light to Aksumite, Ornamental Headpiece, and more—thrive within the twilight nexus of visceral discomfort and smoldering intrigue, and his hardcore punk project Prison Suicide is no exception, nor is its caustic, breakneck new self-titled jawn. Get stuck in.
Brainpan is a fairly new project, but one that shows buckets of promise. In short, this is DC-area powerviolence that comes correct with an impeccable guitar tone, a murderous groove, and a healthy emphasis on violence. It’s also heavy as shit (which doesn’t surprise me, since guitarist/vocalist Rob Moore also spent time in dearly departed doom ‘heads Salome) and the title of their ass-whipping new release, Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead, basically sums up my entire personal philosophy.
Noisey contributor Chris Krovatin introduced me to the genre-fucking metal enigma that is Rebel Wizard a few weeks back, and I didn’t quite know what to make of it. The project’s progenitor, NKSV, serves up noodly, hard-charging, 80s-flavored heavy metal mixed with power metal bombast, thrashy breakaways, and screechy, distorted, black metal-inflected yelps that somewhat unnervingly recall both vintage Children of Bodom and early Leviathan’s lo-fi sickness. It’s weird as hell—but Rebel Wizard’s Prosthetic debut, Voluptuous Worship of Rapture and Response, been steadily growing on me like some sort of toxic grave mold, so I thought I’d add it in here for kicks.
Kim Kelly is an editor at Noisey and a massive buzzkill on Twitter.