Soundtrack To Your Annihilation II

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“A series that promises to get progressively darker and starts with None So Vile? Ballsy”.

dr.derelict – sometimes Toilet Ov Hell commenter and Riff of the Week contender


What’s up Toilet fans. Your eighth favorite semi-regular contributor to the Toilet Ov Hell is back with part two of Soundtrack To Your Annihilation. I promised we would get weirder. I promised we would get darker and more brutal. I promised we would not cover things that matter much in 2014. I’m a man of my word, except on that last part; trust me I am as surprised as you are. Last time we took a look at (and hopefully you guys gave a listen to, had you missed it previously) None So Vile, Cryptopsy’s second album, which is widely considered a death metal masterpiece. We are going to take one step down toward the unending black in this second installment. Taking a strong suggestion from my co-conspirator, this edition of Soundtrack To Your Annihilation will cover *two* albums further down the extreme scale than None So Vile.


step_down


Earlier this year, 2014 was hailed as the year for “hideous sludge” by some well known voices within the metal community. Fans and pursuers of heavy metal know it’s also been a stellar year for death metal releases. What’s “hideous sludge?”, you might be thinking. Is it just some catchy phrase? Something the kids are listening to? It’s today’s brand of sludge metal; turn up the intensity, offensiveness, and lay it thicker than a concrete bomb shelter. 2014 has seen releases from Coffinworm (Coffinworm were recently covered in an edition of Don’t Miss This! at our beloved Toilet), Lord Mantis, and Eyehategod, who many credit as one of the earliest bands in the sludge style. Their 2014 album is solid, it had been in the running for my Best Albums of 2014, but it is not as hideous or sludgy as some of their previous efforts, and surprisingly (for Eyehategod) featured several pieces of Clean Singing. The Body released a collaborative effort with The Haxan Cloak, another favorite of mine this year; fans are also eagerly anticipating their split with Thou in 2014. Indian released another hideous sludge album in 2014, titled From All Purity. The first focus of this installment of Soundtrack To Your Annihilation, however, is From All Purity’s predecessor, Indian’s horrifying Guiltless.


 

Indian - Guiltless - Relapse Records 2011

Indian – GuiltlessRelapse Records 2011


Indian’s Guiltless was released in 2011, and I got wind of the album at the end of that year from an end of the year records list. I had not heard of Indian before that, but Guiltless was advertised as being “one of the heaviest records of the year“. Intriguing, right? I thought so too. Indian are billed on their own Bandcamp as “blackened noise nihilists”, which is a fair description of their sound. Guiltless wastes no time in drawing you into its sonic horror, stomping your face with golf shoes in its opening moments. The album’s tempo ranges from slow to mid paced. Indian has benefited from a consistent line up, three of the band members playing on Guiltless have been with the band since it’s inception in 2003; it shows on this record. Will Lindsay and Sean Patton turned the band from a three piece to a five piece for the first time here, credited with vocals / guitars and “noise” respectively. Nothing sounds out of place here. The band’s low tuned, blasted out sludge is persistent through almost the entire album’s forty minute runtime. There are few moments of relief, few soft passages; but there is a series of riffs that could pass as uplifting at 4:50 during the album’s first track “No Grace”. “The Fate Before Fate”, the album’s second track, opens at a mid tempo, and lead singer Dylan O’Toole sounds like a man possessed here. The vocals never stray too far from “tortured”. Guiltless is relentless in its hopelessness. The album’s title track lurches at the same deliberate pace over its eight minute runtime. O’Toole screams throughout “Guilty” the entire next track; it makes me wonder just how aptly titled this particular song is. The album’s sixth track, “Supplicants” is a quiet interlude before Guiltless ends with its final track.

If you are anything like me, you’ve had serious conversations about Christs, Redeemers and where it fits into The Body’s body (ahem) of work. I wasn’t initially as blown away by it as their previous efforts. To be fair, perhaps I hadn’t given it the same chance I have many of The Body’s other albums, like the aforementioned I Shall Die Here and their brutal, unstoppable albums All The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood and Master, We Perish. A recent conversation about this, and reading an article with the opposite viewpoint of mine, revealed to me that Christs, Redeemers could be more layered and nuanced than their previous efforts, disregarding I Shall Die Here (cause that came later, homey). Edward, I thought we were talking about Indian? Don’t worry, full circle, we are arriving to the point. The thing is, there is certainly a time for nuances, layers, and subtlety. There is also a time for one note brutality, or bleakness as the case may be. Indian succeed on Guiltless by finding something that works and sticking to it. I preferred Guiltless to their newest, From All Purity. I haven’t had the opportunity to play From All Purity as much as Guiltless, but the same discussion applies to the last two Indian records. Is From All Purity less horrifying, but more nuanced? Does that make it the better of the two records?

Check out Indian’s Guiltless if you aren’t familiar with it. We are moving on to stranger landscapes.



 

Portal - Swarth - Profound Lore Records 2009

PortalSwarthProfound Lore Records 2009

 


Australia’s Portal have often been the subject of conversations like “well, that’s not even music”. Your mom may have caught you watching a Portal music video which led to some very awkward family holidays. They’ve been the subject of bizarre interviews (caution, seriously). Portal are often referred to as “Lovecraftian”, “otherworldly”, and “nightmarish”. An internet comment about their music said “I’ve been listening to metal for 20 years now…and this music is garbage. It takes more talent to run a trash compactor”. They have alternately delighted, bewildered, baffled, and disgusted metal fans and outsiders alike since the release of their first full length album in 2003. Portal is difficult to categorize. They play “death metal”, but along the lines of “death metal that I’m not so sure is death metal”; you may or may not be wondering if it is death metal buried under layers of mud, soot, and sulfur. The second focus of this edition of Soundtrack To Your Annihilation is on Portal’s third studio album, the impenetrable Swarth, which was released on Profound Lore Records in 2009.


Is that a giant clock on your head or are you just happ... forget about it.

Is that a giant clock on your head or are you just happ… forget about it, it’s actually a huge clock.


Swarth has no introduction, and it wastes no time in befuddling the listener. It sounds like death metal, sure, even bordering on technical death metal in a perverse way. The furious riffing is persistent, but the riffs are hard to make out. Songs start and stop with seemingly no rhyme or reason to be replaced by blasts of noise. At some points the drums are placed high in the mix, at other times it’s the guitars. The vocals differ from your standard death metal fare as well, ranging from ghastly bellows to vaguely discernible demonic instructions. Midway through “Writhen”, the album’s fifth track, Portal play something that strangely resembles a breakdown for the duration of the song. Einstein’s famous phrase about time being relative is given new meaning when listening to Swarth. Four minute songs seem to exist for much greater periods. Taking in this particular album as a whole can be a feat unto itself, as the thick atmosphere can be overwhelming, like trying to decipher encrypted codes underwater. Swarth is relentless in doling out punishment, nothing occurs over its forty one minute run time like a respite or break. “Werships”, the album’s penultimate track, sounds somewhat like its namesake being called into a maritime battle until The Curator makes his presence known a couple of minutes into the track. The riffwork in “Marityme”, Swarth’s final song, suggests a circling downward spiral toward oblivion. Like most complex and difficult music, Swarth demands repeated listens, but is that really a process you are willing to engage in? If you aren’t familiar with Swarth, now is the time for you to find out.



On the spectrum of aural violence, place Guiltless in a category with other oppressive hideous sludge acts. Portal’s Swarth borders more difficult metal and acts as an introduction to noise. In this writer’s humble opinion, Guiltless and Swarth are more of a “difficult” listen than Cryptopsy’s None So Vile. Guiltless operates with a relentless bleakness, and Portal is a confounding nightmare all unto itself. The vocals on Guiltless are harrowing, pushing past even Lord Worm’s maniacal performance. They both have about eight minutes lengthwise on None So Vile.

Did I miss your favorite hideous sludge record from 2014? Do you also prefer Guiltless to From All Purity? Is Portal your favorite Australian mask wearing extreme metal act? Which seven Toilet Ov Hell writers was I referring to in the intro to this? Did you grimace at least once during this article and think “Edward, you Pitchfork lovin’ fvcker”? Is I Shall Die Here one of the great names for a record over the last few years, or do you prefer The Sun Through A Telescope’s I Die Smiling?




Thanks to Christian Molenaar for the assist in the conception, planning, and execution of this series.

Photos via & via & via & via

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  • Edward Meehan

    Since we have two hours until the next ToH post goes live, you guys can easily listen to both of these albums back to back, with no break.

    Love,

    Edward

    • Indian has won me over. Would buy a t-shirt/10.

    • Indian rips. m/

    • Virgil the Ghost Poet

      Hey Edward, did you know that Will played on the last A Storm of Light CD? He’s everywhere. I really like Indian but I like Withered better. They are really good and they are finishing up their new CD right now. Plus you might want to check out Godhunter. Their new CD City of Dust us one of my favorites of this year. Right now album #3 on my list.

      • Edward Meehan

        Withered and Godhunter, I will make an effort to check them out! I was unaware of that until now, thanks for the heads up.

        • Virgil the Ghost Poet

          Withered is one of Decibols favorite bands. They are from Atlanta so the have that southern sludge with their blackened doom and Godhunter is from Phoenix and this album is just great. This album has an environmental lyrical theme.

          • Edward Meehan

            Refresh my memory, I’m leaving for work in a second otherwise I would just try to Google fact check this, isn’t one of the dudes from Indian also in Wolves in the Throne Room?

          • Virgil the Ghost Poet

            Yes, Will was in WITTR also. I don’t know if he is still in that band. I have not bought the new CD yet. And that Anatomy of a Habit has members of other bands also. You might want to check that out. I believe the are a noise/ post-metal band. Sounds interesting.

          • Edward Meehan

            I’m pushing play on Godhunter now for a song or two, sounds pretty tight so far.

          • Virgil the Ghost Poet

            Glad you like it, Edward. I would hate to recommend something that sucks.

    • Virgil the Ghost Poet

      I just remembered that Will is in a band called Anatomy of a Habit which comes out next month on Relapse.

  • Death

    Somehow that giant clock on his head reminds me of The Residents and their giant eyeballs.

  • JWG

    I kind of figured that Portal would be in STYA 2.

    I can’t as easily predict future editions. If you’re going for deeper and darker each time I think you’ve already passed where I’d expect to see Mitochondrion and Antediluvian.

    • Edward Meehan

      Good guess. I’m pretty sure I have the next two nailed down, and I have an idea of where I want it to go, but it’s a work in progress. No spoilers!

  • Howard Dean
  • Tyree

    I hope there will be tons of sweaty shirtless bros moshing and doing ninja moves in the pit when I see Portal at MDF next year. Also there needs to be beach balls and glow sticks!

    • Stockhausen

      Hipsters in robes. Ironically.

    • Howard Dean

      If I don’t get to eat BDubs and karate mosh when I see Dead Congregation next week, I don’t know what I will do.

    • Might do this at Housecore.

      • crazytaco_12

        Nice man, you going?

        • Yep! My schedule is a little weird so I might not be able to make it to much. Planning on Gwar/Neurosis and (possibly) Portal.

          • crazytaco_12

            Fuck yeah man, I’ll be there! I’d describe myself but I probably look like every other guy there haha

          • HA! I look just like the nerd in my picture so if you see me be sure to say howdy!

          • crazytaco_12

            Sounds good man!

          • Leif Bearikson

            I definitely do not look like a polar bear with a mustache, unfortunately.

          • Edward Meehan

            I have heard Neurosis just DESTROY shit live.

  • Tyree

    Also the 1:35 minute mark in “Larvae” is some of the heaviest shit ever.

    • Edward Meehan

      Tyree would you say Swarth is their most difficult listen?

      • Tyree

        I’d actually say it’s their easiest listen honestly. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to the entire Portal catalog though.

        • Edward Meehan

          Ha! We were going for difficulty here. I avoided Vexovoid because it has noticeably cleaner production.

          • Tyree

            Maybe, but I think Vexovoid is muddier and more claustrophobic then Swarth is. Swarth always seemed to be their more mainstream album.

            * Which I love.

          • Edward Meehan

            *face palm*

          • Tyree
          • Howard Dean

            It’s like Tommy Lee Jones carries the collective burden of the world on his shoulders at all times. Guy is either one of the most dour motherfuckers to ever live, or is a seriously skilled method actor who became trapped in a role.

            Related tangent: Can you imagine if Daniel Day-Lewis had a mental breakdown and somehow got trapped in his Bill “The Butcher” Cutting character? That would be crazy. And awesome.

          • Edward Meehan

            See also: There Will Be Blood.

            I AM THE THIRD REVELATION!!!!

          • Tyree

            I’M FINISHED!

          • Edward Meehan

            Listen, Paul. If I travel all the way out there and I find that you’ve
            been lying to me, I’m going to find you and I’m going to take more than my money back. Is that all right with you?

        • crazytaco_12

          Completely agreed. I personally think Seepia is probably their most dense and inaccessible album, then Outre, Vex, and then Swarth.

  • Good to see Indian make it on this site…Guiltless is the only album of theirs i don’t own in a physical form. If you like Indian, you’ll love Lord Mantis.

    • NefariousDude

      Lord Mantis >>>

    • Edward Meehan

      From All Purity got some positive press this year, but honestly I don’t see many people here talk about Indian and I count myself as a fan of theirs. I have not checked out Lord Mantis’ album from this year, I dug the last one which had an equally bizarre cover lol

    • Howard Dean

      I actually only own Guiltless, and haven’t listened to it in awhile, but I remember enjoying it. I bought albums from Indian (1 album), Lord Mantis (1 album), and Coffinworm (2 albums) in order to find a sound similar to Dragged Into Sunlight (those three bands were all “similar artists” to DIS on metal-archives), and though I enjoyed them all, none of them captured the same sound and vibe as Dragged Into Sunlight. Still a little disappointed about that.

      • wow. “hatred for mankind” has some mindblowing art.

        • Howard Dean

          Indeed. Everything about that album is mindblowing. It might be the angriest, most misanthropic album ever made (with the most apt title, too).

      • Xan

        Don’t you hate it when the similar artists don’t sound like the band they’re similar to? I’ve been searching for three years for a band with a similar sound to Woods of Ypres and the only band that I’ve found that comes even remotely close is some of Novembers Doom’s stuff.

  • Mother Shabubu III

    Dat new At the Gates album tho….

    • Edward Meehan

      Is it solid?

      • Not sufficiently dissonant and brutal. 4/5 Flushes.

        • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

          But, but the catchiness and easy-listenability. Is nothing holy anymore?

          • Link D. LeonhⒶrt V.

            i don’t want to live in this planet anymore.. this kiddos these days prefer these dissonance and disharmonies

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Röhä! ‘Tis my pleasure to disappoint you, so do I

          • Just sayin’ considering the subject of this post…

          • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

            Yes, yes. Ach!

      • Mother Shabubu III

        Yes. Very solid. I forgot how good melodic death metal could be. “The Book of Sand” is my jam right now.

      • Xan

        I found it to be extremely disappointing and I didn’t even go into it with expectations. There just aren’t any memorable riffs on it for me.

  • GL

    • KJM

      I’m guessing he’d burn water trying to boil it.

    • W.

      I wouldn’t trust him to cook good Mexican food.

  • Nordling Rites Ov Karhu

    I’d say Portal is definitely my favorite masked australian extreme metal act, until Nick Cave starts wearing a giant clock on his head.

  • Link D. LeonhⒶrt V.

    Haven’t realized the huge quantity of sludge/stoner music out there this year!!

    • Edward Meehan

      It’s a metric shit ton.

      • Link D. LeonhⒶrt V.

        have an hypothesis of why we have a Sludgy year? 🙂

        • Edward Meehan

          I’m only speculating, but it seems that a lot of bands in the hideous sludge style have released albums that have gotten praise and press. It’s kind of an “in” or “vogue” thing at the moment, as much as “hideous sludge” can be a vogue thing haha.

  • The Battle Born NDN

    PORTAL. Fukk yeah. Never took the chance to check out Indian. Pretty good from what I’m hearing. “Bro, do you even NDN??”

  • George Clarke

    indian is lame but portal is cool

    • You’re cool, George Clarke.

    • Howard Dean

      I feel like Portal almost captures the same level of claustrophia, menace and darkness as Sunbather. Almost.

    • Edward Meehan

      George Clarke > Dylan O’Toole + The Curator

      • Howard Dean

        George Clarke is like the reincarnation of GG Allin. Except even edgier and more badass.

        • George Clarke

          but with less poop throwing

          • Howard Dean

            …and more sodomy.

          • George Clarke

            soooo much more sodomy

          • Howard Dean

            George Clarke can never sit down.
            #ClarkeFacts

          • George Clarke

            i sit down when i pee actually

    • Tyree

      You stole my ladies you jerk-face! I wish I could spill red wine on your white v-neck shirt. That would show you.

      • George Clarke

        yeah but then i’d be like wow this stain is so… meaningful and just rock it anyways

      • Virgil the Ghost Poet

        Yeah but you got more ladies now! Prettier ladies!

  • IronLawnmower

    That Portal interview is just trying too damn hard. Unless the band is subtly tongue in cheek then it’s hilarious.

    • Way too cringe-worthy to be tongue-in-cheek, I think.

      • IronLawnmower

        May as well claim they’re ancient vampires. They’re like Ghoul but not good.

        • crazytaco_12

          Even though their interviews are goofy, Portal has some incredible music. If you’re up for giving them another go, Swarth is probably the album to start with. I personally think it’s their most accessible and maybe my favorite album of theirs.

      • George Clarke

        yeah that was really cringey and hard to read

        • W.

          I love Portal, but I’ve been making fun of that interview ever since I first encountered it.

  • Xan

    I’ve been trying to break down Portal’s music for years. I enjoy it in some perverse way but it’s as if my mind isn’t able to comprehend some hidden evil in it. I’ve read enough Lovecraft to know to not attempt to discover the secrets of the dark and arcane lest I be driven mad and made to be Yog-Sothoth’s little bitch.

    • crazytaco_12

      I personally feel Portal (and take this possibly pretentious sounding explanation any way you want) make albums that are more like books or paintings than albums. Like a book, you sometimes have to go over what you just read again and again to finally take it all in. Portal are also so much to digest that you have go about their discography slowly and with care and could never really “get it” in a day. Some may say that anybody who has to focus that hard on the music must be fooling themselves into liking it, but I think they’re just a band that you really have to be fully encapsulated in and dedicated to, to understand. Not saying their entire recorded output is spotless or anything, but the good far outweighs the bad.

      • Xan

        That’s a really good analogy. I found the interview listed in the article to be a really cool read. I like bands that really get into what they’re doing and role play it up a bit. I like it when a band creates a lore that you can get into that connects with something you are into. Though not very many of Portal’s songs are based on Lovecraft, many of the themes are similar and it is definitely heavily inspired by it. It’s one reason I like Ghost. Their music isn’t anything new but I find it catchy and they developed a little lore about the band. This is also why I love Gwar.

        • crazytaco_12

          Xan, you fucking get it my man. I don’t personally like to read Portal’s interviews because they never really answer anything, but at the same time it adds a little more to the mystery of them. Also, love that you mentioned Ghost; so many people shit on them for x or y reason, but it’s like you said, yeah, they’re nothing new, but the music they make is still great and seeing them live, their image really adds to the whole show. Also, fuck yeah Gwar.

          • Xan

            To me, it has never been about being progressive or technical. As long as a band makes music that has a “feeling” to it or sounds good, I usually enjoy it. That’s why I’m not ashamed to like Ghost. It’s just good ‘ole cult rock.

  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    birth of a metalhead hybrid demon child/beast-
    underground generation..born to flawlessness

    watch the birth—while also listening to the others

    v birthing scene – creepy birthing scene (50% vol)
    http://youtu.be/mU-ZB-Kj-Vs
    indian – guiltless (33% vol)
    http://youtu.be/VJhAvm_7pPs
    rick wakeman bonus interview(100%vol)
    http://youtu.be/dNqusKxnEeQ

    • KJM

      I’ll wait until my friend gets here with the OG Kush.

  • Janitor Jim Dvggan

    I shall listen to these when I get home. I’m visiting my cousin who had a baby.

    • Howard Dean

      Congrats to custodial cousin Jim Dvggan and the new baby! You should bring the baby a 2×4 and an American flag as gifts. “Hoooooooooo!”

      • Janitor Jim Dvggan

        I will next time I see it tough guy! Hooooooooooo!

    • crazytaco_12

      That baby’s first word better be “Byah!”

  • Gurp

    That Portal interview is just too much.

  • W.

    Great work, Ed!

    • Edward Meehan

      Thanks W!

      I got one more article submitted (which I thought perhaps would go up before this one), and now since this went up I need to start the third volume. I also want to tinker with my Best Albums of the Year list a little, which I think may cause a few hurt feelings (others, or maybe me, lol).

  • TrickleDownTacoRiff

    Huge clock….lol

  • Janitor Jim Dvggan

    Listening to the album by Indian right now. Goddamn it is bleak but life is a bleak thing. We are all going to die at some point and there is nothing we can do about it. Our lives on this earth are going to be either enjoyable or nightmarish. If you have depression like I do there is nothing you can do to stop the pain. War and disease exist and we can’t stop them.

  • crazytaco_12

    Great fucking post man, Indian is one of the best newer sludge bands, and by god, Portal… fuck yeah. Stoked to see them in a week. Seepia is fucking mandatory October listening.

  • Call the Slambulance

    Once again, Ed, really fantastic stuff. I’m loving it. Also, Swarth has now made this list of current favorite bands.
    Negrodamus uber alles!

  • dr.derelict

    Excellent second installment.