The CHAINMAIL section reviews bands that were proactive enough to e-mail me directly. Here at Cerebral Metalhead, initiative is rewarded.
Credit Chicago's Black September for smooshing together blackened blastbeats and crusty Bolt Thrower death without sounding forced. Also credit Black September for faking me out with a quick deceleration at 2:06 that erupts into frosty Dismember territory just as quickly. A third credit goes out to mixman Sanford Parker, who once again proves why he's the go-to guy for any Chi-Town metal band looking to capture its unsavory side on wax. And while we're at it, I'll throw out a fourth credit to anyone who gives me the contact information for Black September's frontlady Jen Pickett, just so that she can spurn my romantic advances with that bristly grunt of hers. "THANK YOU FOR THE POSITIVE REVIEW," Ms. Pickett would roar, "BUT I WOULD PREFER THAT OUR RELATIONSHIP NOT CROSS THE REVIEWER/REVIEWEE BOUNDARY." Ah well. Here's some sour grapes instead: Black September could easily have lopped off the last two and a half minutes of "Under the Rising" and used it as the basis of a great doom track. Whatevs. This is a band to watch.
Thou's contribution "Smoke Pigs" rends flesh with a harshness only hinted at on their magnificent Peasant LP from earlier this year. We already knew that Thou could play filthy Eyehategod riffs, and this one starts off with a disgusting one, all bone-crunch drums and thudding whips from rusty chain guitars. What's truly hair-raising here is how the band ratchets up the tension in the song's second half, working a single chord into a froth of distortion and cymbal crashes 'til that groove from the beginning makes its triumphant return. Typical of Thou, there's some thoughtfulness to the lyrical concept -- it's split between a police apologist ("Some people who put on a badge are just trying to help people") and his indicter ("There is a psychological deficiency in policing others...when they attack in the name of the law, we will retaliate in the name of liberty"), each voiced in feral snarls by the spectacularly-named Bryan Funck. Given the unfiltered vitriol (and title) of "Smoke Pigs," is there really any question which side Thou is on? Between this and the recent Outlaw Order album, Louisiana ain't a good place to be if you're a cop.
Click here for full lyrics to "Smoke Pigs" and other Thou ditties.