Against The Grain

Against The Grain: SNAFU

Detroit, Michigan is home to some very rich music history. The origins of Motown, early Punk Rock, and even Techno can be traced back to Detroit. Throughout the years, Detroit has still remained an epicenter of music. With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to SNAFU from Detroit who have been ripping up stages and decimating crowds for a number of years now. Their most recent album, Exile//Banishment is one hell of an album. It’s heavy metal roots are very present with bits of hardcore, punk, thrash and even a tinge of black metal mixed in. When you listen to Exile//Banishment, you can hear the evolution of the band and the progression to make this album their heaviest, darkest, and angriest affair yet focusing on personal frustrations and the hopeless future of humanity. Take those themes and add the right amount of heavy with the music and you’ve got a recipe for a killer band. It’s very refreshing to hear a band like SNAFU. In particularly, the rawness of their sound is unapologetic and ruthless. The razor sharp riffs and rhythms are impactful and direct with the vocals adding an element of aggression to make everything come together in a way that will have you headbanging and contemplating moshing (even if you are by yourself). SNAFU is the real deal and I can’t wait to see where they are headed and what they do next!

SNAFU- Exile//Banishment:

Against The Grain: Mass Worship

Sweden is one of the worlds best exporters of heavy music. There is absolutely no denying the impact that Sweden has had on metal, hard rock and even pop music (ABBA). One band that has recently been brought to my attention that has really taken the Swedish sound by storm is Mass Worship. Taking cues from the likes of At The Gates and Meshuggah with bits of Mastodon and Discharge, Mass Worship is making one hell of a name for themselves. Their punishing and crushing riffs and rhythms mixed with bits of Swedish death metal and dbeat crust punk, it’s no wonder I’m digging this band. Their second album Portal Tombs is out February 4, 2022. The first song released from the album is “Revel In Fear” and features Napalm Death’s Mark “Barney” Greenway on guest vocals. Personally, I can’t wait to hear more from Mass Worship.


Mass Worship- Revel In Fear feat. Barney of Napalm Death:

Against The Grain: END

There really is something intriguing about extreme music and the heavier side of rock music. I’ve always been drawn to it in bits and pieces but, as I’ve gotten older, I’m starting to realize the technicality that comes with it. Which brings me to the band END. What began as a fun passion project for guitarist (and producer) Will Putney, quickly became something else as the band became more recognized for their aggressive and volatile music. END features a collection of musicians from various sub-genres of extreme music, including current and former members of Counterparts, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Fit For An Autopsy, Misery Signals, Shai Hulud, and Reign Supreme. And all those pieces have made for quite a reputation. The debut EP From The Unforgiving Arms Of God, released in fall 2017 via Good Fight Music, was met with critical praise and fan response was definitely there as well. This summer will see the release of their debut full-length, Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face. The two songs released from it so far, really are quite a glimpse into their in your face approach to heavy music. END is more than just a run of the mill heavy/extreme band. When you take the time to listen, you can hear a plethora of inspiration and influences, which in turn, makes for quite a listening journey.

END- Pariah:

 

 
END- Covet Not:

 

 

 

END- From The Unforgiving Arms Of God:

Against The Grain: Umbra Vitae

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As a musician and artist, when you have the chance to tap back into a genre that you’ve been away from for a long while, the end result is something that often times feels refreshing and reinvigorating. That being said, while in rehearsals for Wear Your Wounds, Jacob Bannon, Sean Martin and Mike McKenzie, began messing around with some heavy riffs. After realizing what they had, the three of them recruited Greg Weeks (The Red Chord, Labor Hex) and Jon Rice (Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Job For A Cowboy) for the rhythm section to back their aggressive riffs and thus Umbra Vitae was conceived.  Taking their name from a poem by Georg Heym, The music and and words are as haunting as it’s namesake. Their debut album, Shadow of Life (out May 1st via Deathwish Inc.), was recorded and mixed by Kurt Ballou. The album one that will pummel the listener with unrelenting force and unpredictability. As well as providing self affirming mantras to give it even more of an edge.

Vocalist Jacob Bannon has gone on to say about Umbra Vitae “After reading the piece from Heym, I immediately felt connected to it. Later, while working on the previous Wear Your Wounds album, my love for Death Metal was rekindled. This was likely a reaction to working on non-aggressive music for such a concentrated period. As these songs started to form, the ominous nature of that original poem came to mind.”  He continues, “In many ways it embodied the character of what we were all creating together. For me, Umbra Vitae is darkly confrontational and my own internal struggles are nested within each song. At this point in my life it is of the utmost importance to use this art and music as the vehicle for a healthy purge of emotion. By design, even in something this intense, there is righteous intent to be a better human through the process of creating it.” Umbra Vitae definitely is a band to look out for and hopefully will continue as time goes on.

 

Umbra Vitae is:
Jacob Bannon: Vocals, Lyrics (Converge, Wear Your Wounds, Blood From the Soul)
Mike McKenzie: Guitars, Vocals (The Red Chord, Wear Your Wounds, Stomach Earth)
Sean Martin: Guitars, Vocals (ex-Hatebreed, Wear Your Wounds, Twitching Tongues)
Greg Weeks: Bass (The Red Chord, Labor Hex, etc)
Jon Rice: Drums (ex-Job for a Cowboy, Uncle Acid, etc)

Umbra Vitae- Return To Zero:

 

 

 

Against The Grain: Ether Coven

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The many sub-genres of rock and heavy music have given us some pretty awesome bands over the years. When a band begins to draw from different areas of influence and inspiration, the end results can often be refreshing. A couple weeks ago, my attention was drawn to a band that has combined bits and pieces of bands like Neurosis and Swans along with a bit of a Type O Negative vibe and that band is called Ether Coven. The bands new album, Everything Is Temporary Except Suffering, is one hell of a way to start off 2020. It’s got all the elements of the bands I mentioned above along with some other surprises thrown in making it quite a very interesting and thought provoking listening experience. Ether Coven is the type of band that can make those “epic” style songs, along with some straight up heavy and doom laden material, which helps to create a sonic diversity in what they do. Plus having their album being produced by Erik Rutan (Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel and so many more) has really packed quite a punch to make sure the end result is pristine. So, break out of your norm, and check out Ether Coven!

 

Ether Coven- Everything Is Temporart Except Suffering:

 

 

 

 

 

Against The Grain: Vitriol

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Death metal is a very interesting sub-genre. It’s never easy to get into but, when you really sit and listen to some of the bands from that genre, you can hear some pretty amazing things. There is a real technical aspect to playing like that be it guitar, bass, drums or even “singing.” There is a band that is about to release their debut album that has really made me pay attention to the genre. I’d like to introduce you to Vitriol. This trio based out of Portland, Oregon, have made a record that is as explosive and ferocious as something that a band like Morbid Angel might release. The technical veracity that this band plays with along with the neck breaking savagery that is emitted while listening will have you wanting to listen again for the little things that you might have missed. The band which features Kyle Rasmussen (vocals/guitars), Adam Roethlisberger (vocals/bass) and Scott Walker (drums) proved on their 2017 EP “Pain Will Define Their Death” that they are not a band to miss. Their debit album “To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice” (out Sept 6) is one of the most brutal and heaviest albums I’ve heard all year. I have a feeling that Vitriol will be a name many in the extreme metal circles will be talking about for a long time.

Vitriol- Crowned In Retaliation:

 

Vitriol- Pain Will Define Their Death:

 

 

 

Against The Grain: Destrage

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I love when bands combine genres and the end result is something that kicks ass. Not a lot of bands are able to pull it off especially when mixing progressive music with extreme metal but, Italy’s Destrage have become masters at it. The band formed in 2002 and have been making a name for themselves in the underground since their 2007 debut album Urban Being. The follow up The King Is Fat n Old further cemented Destrage as a force within the metal community. Their 2014 album Are You Kidding Me No was my first introduction to the band and from that point I’ve been hooked. This album saw the band really define their sound and take the heavy up a few notches while at the same time adding a bit of melody to separate themselves from the pack. The most recent album A Means To No End builds on what their previous album started. Destrage are bold and pummeling without losing their focus on the music. Do yourself a favor and delve into this great band.

 

A Means To No End:

 

Are You Kidding Me, No:

 
The King Is Fat N Old:

 

 

Urban Being:

Against The Grain: God Mother

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There is a new force to be reckoned with in the extreme music circles. Hailing from Sweden, God Mother is here to leave you with a severe case of whiplash and change your perception of heavy music. God Mother was founded in 2012 Michael Dahlström (drums), Daniel Noring (bass) and Jonatan Lindgren (guitar). When they formed the band, they sought to combine their influences form hardcore, metal, grindcore and sludge. Until the addition of Sebastian Campbell (vocals) in 2013, drummer Michael Dahlström was the bands vocalist. God Mother have released 2 EP’s and one full length album (so far), that are a very take no prisoners heavy approach to what they do. Most recently though, while The Dillinger Escape Plan was touring through Sweden, they handpicked God Mother to be their support band for those shows. Then when it came time for South By Southwest, Dillinger guitarist Ben Weinman invited the band to be a part of his Party Smasher showcase at the event.

Now, God Mother are gearing up to unleash the fury that is their upcoming album Vilseledd. I’ve had the opportunity to hear this album and it is absolutely crushing and heavy in all the right places. You can just tell from the couple songs they’ve released that God Mother are here and are taking over. Even Ben Weinman has said “God Mother is an undeniable force majeure that demands attention like bands did in the old days, by just being that f—king good. Torch, officially passed!”

So do yourselves a favor and check out God Mother and all they bring to the table. Your ears and your CD/Record/Digital collection will thank you!

 

God Mother- Weak:

 

God Mother- By The Millions:

 

God Mother- De Ovälkomna:

 

God Mother- Tar Mirror:

 

God Mother- Between Voids:

 

God Mother- Maktbehov:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Against The Grain: Shroud Of The Heretic

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When I listen to heavy/extreme music one of the things that really gets my attention are the lyrics and rhythms. There is something truly hypnotic about a pummeling drum beat that hits you the right way. It’s as though that beat puts you in “the zone” and allows the listener to become engrossed by the waves of music coming at you. There is a band from Portland, Oregon called Shroud Of The Heretic that combines the ferociousness of death metal and the subtle undertones of doom metal. The lyrics touch on different topics such as mythology, the elements, and mysticism, providing an extra layer of darkness to their already heavy tones. The rhythm section of vocalist/bassist Thom and drummer Lauren is bursting with thunder and drive that makes you feel the intensity that is walloping in your ears. Their most recent album Unorthodox Equilibrium is a profound statement on where you can take death metal. Portland has quite the band on their hands with Shroud Of The Heretic. Take a closer look at this band!

 

Shroud Of The Heretic- Unorthodox Equilibrium:

Against The Grain: Cult Leader

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A few months ago when The Dillinger Escape Plan came through town on their recent tour, they brought with them Cult Leader as an opener. I had really been looking forward to seeing them. After listening to their latest album Lightless Walk, I knew I was going to be in for a treat. Needless to say, their performance left me in awe, and inspired. Cult Leader is the type of band that will steal the show, and leave the audience in a state of astonishment.

Formed in 2013, following the break up of their former band Gaza, Anthony Lucero, Casey Hansen, and Mike Mason decided to continue to make music together. They then recruited Sam Richards to join them. After spending time working on new music and releasing two EP’s, Nothing For Us Here and Useless Animal, it was time for the band to begin work on their first full length. Lightless Walk was produced by Converge’s Kurt Ballou. The album is a righteous slab of metal, hardcore and punk with bits of ambiance properly placed to give the songs the proper dynamics they need to be powerful. With songs like “Great I Am,” The Sorrower,” “A Good Life,” “How Deep It Runs,” and “Lifeless Walk,” it’s no wonder that Cult Leader has become one of the best bands in the genre of heavy music. Their live performances are intense, aggressive and hypnotic. I highly recommend seeing Cult Leader when they come though your town.

Take a moment and expand upon your musical palate… Listen to Cult Leader!!!

Cult Leader- Lightless Walk:

Cult Leader- Live (10/30/16 @ The Regent Theater with The Dillinger Escape Plan):