ALBUM REVIEW: Defect Designer – Chitin

If the striking artwork courtesy of Ian Miller of Ulthar was not a giveaway, Chitin (Transcending Obscurity Records) is far from a conventional affair. As previous output from Defect Designer proved, this Russian (by way of Norway) vehicle is one totally unafraid of formulas and usual genre structures even amongst a seemingly increasing amount of more esoteric death metal acts. Even previous experience however will not fully prepare listeners for proceedings here however with some equal parts innovation and outright absurdity- for better or worse.Continue reading

Ulthar – Cosmovore

Pause for a moment, dearly beloved, and check out THAT COVER. See it, feel it, breathe it in. It is Ian Miller at his gothic grotesque best like someone crossed a lurid creepy crawly with a bad trip in a fin de siècle opium den. It’s got one of Lovecraft’s Elder Thing exploding with mouths, beaks, eyes and profane wind instruments, striding through a cancerous landscape full of writhing horror and grandeur. It is also my laptop’s Christmas wallpaper.Continue reading

Slipknot To Open Haunted House, Details About New Album And Reissue Project

You can keep your lame Pumpkin Spice flavored everything, Autumn is for Halloween! Slipknot, not strangers to the spooky side of life, is opening a badass themed haunted house in the spirit of the next month. Dubbed “The Slaughterhouse”, it will be hosted by the Barnum Factory. The 10,000 square-foot Slaughterhouse opens Oct. 5 at the Barnum Factory (97 Indiana Ave.) and runs through Oct. 31. General admission tickets cost $20, with $30 skip-the-line passes also available. The concept was co-created by M. Shawn Crahan (left), co-founding Slipknot member, and Ian Miller, Slaughterhouse owner. In a conversation with the Des Moines Register Crahan detailed the venture and also the prospects of new Slipknot music, and the coming re-issue for All Hope Is Gone (Roadrunner) and more!Continue reading

Kowloon Walled City – Grievances


Despite the fraught hostility coursing through the first two albums from San Francisco Sludge quartet Kowloon Walled City, there was evidence of a Post-hardcore sensibility. It’s no surprise, therefore, to see a heightening of the band’s melody on third album Grievances (Neurot).

Brief flurries of lead are evident from the outset, but so is a slow pace; Ian Miller’s rumbling bass, especially throughout tolling closer ‘Daughters and Sons’; and Scott Evans’ embittered yell. What opener ‘Your Best Years’ misses in urgency and frenetic neurosis, it gains in feeling and an almost unbearable tension: sections where brakes are applied evoke scenes of tethered wild animals straining to be free. The ensuing title track has the same doleful, stone-kicking pace: violent desires suffocated by a Doom-like oppression which leaves every synapse twitching with the harrowing drama of it all. When the explosion occurs at the track’s midway point, it too is sufficiently reined to maximise its powerful statement. Less, here, is more…

It is this skill which Kowloon Walled City possess in buckets: the ability to move further toward the more touching, tortured elements of Touché Amoré without sacrificing their own aggravated, pummelling core. Timing, especially with the introduction of Evans’ vocal, is immaculate and delivered to optimum effect with always a word left out there hanging past the instrumentation: the “Weaknesses…” refrain to ‘Backlit’ is positively chilling. Yet it all feels so organic, a fluid part of the breathing whole.

That anger is occasionally allowed its freedom, within the crashing ire of ‘The Grift’ for example, yet it remains tempered by a complexity of sound: the guilt after lashing out which even the tweak of strings at the track’s coda highlights. This is the embodiment of pure expression: an album depicting a person with so much justified anger, yet is too nice to show it or feels like shit when they do. An album fizzing with pain and frustration yet constantly, feverishly, grasping at its reins for fear of what could happen if let loose. The pregnant ‘True Believer’ epitomises this fragile balance: a squall of pent-up hurt and aggression which flays the skin when the bubble pops.

Grievances is an at times unsettling and traumatic but always potent experience, blowing this year’s closest relative, Black Sheep Wall’s I’m Going to Kill Myself (Season of Mist), from the water by more accurately personalising the rawness and unpredictability of suppressed emotion.