Insect Ark – Portal/Well
Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist Dana Schechter’s Insect Ark project returns this year with the moody, sprawling follow-up to 2013’s awe-inspiring Long Arms EP. Portal/Well, the debut full-length from the ex-Bee and Flower frontwoman, builds upon the sounds and structures crafted on that previous three-track release and ends up creating something much more unique and sonically devastating. From the multi-faceted walls of oppressively haunting sound on the title track, to the eight-minute crawl of “Octavia” and the empty ambient drones of “Low Moon”, these eight tracks showcase the full creative prowess of Schechter. Schechter utilizes every instrument at her disposal to bring about some of the more otherworldly sounds you will hear this year as well as craft some of the more surprisingly heavier moments as well, despite the fact this project has no ties to heavy music. The bass is used like a giant hammer; bringing down huge metallic riffs upon the unsuspecting heads below. The drums and percussion are thunderous like the footsteps of some mythological beast and never miss an opportunity to ride out an insanely catchy groove. The lap steel summons ethereal croons that are reminiscent of a specter from the next life, while the guitars and synths both work together to conjure cinematic soundscapes. Since the release is devoid of vocals, the instrumentation is pushed its full potential to make each and every note count. Although the songs do not deviate much in their approach, they still serve their purpose; to drag you into Schechter’s beautifully dark sonic realm. Portal/Well is a massive release that defies categorization and is one that you would regret not checking out.
Mad Trapper – Dead Living
Toronto metallic hardcore quartet Mad Trapper lunge for the throat with open jaws on their chaotic, vitriolic full-length debut, Dead Living. The follow-up to their 2013 EP, Kill Us, Start Anew, is rife with relentless, death-dealing instrumentation that fans of the most oppressively heavy and technical sounds hardcore and metal have to offer will chomp at the bit to hear. The band eases the listener into the coming storm of insanity with a bluesy crawl on “Claws”. Shortly after the song draws to a close, the album’s title track comes rushing out of the gate with the intent to harm any living, breathing organism in its path. “Dead Living” is like being trapped in a whirlwind of shrapnel that shreds feeble human bodies into bits. The guitars churn out riff after riff of dissonant-soaked complexity and angular aggression, while the rhythm section pummels craniums into paste and the vocals propel the chaos further with throat-searing ululations. From there the band continue their auditory massacre with nine more tracks of agonizingly-heavy riffage and vile breakdowns up until its final track, which marks the return of the “Claws” riff. The only issue here is that the riff is brought to an abrupt halt, making for a slightly unsatisfying ending. But that issue is minute when compared to the rest of the album’s glorious carnage. Dead Living might not be doing anything new for the metallic/chaotic hardcore (or whatever you choose to define it as) style, but it does push the basic structures of the genre to their most extreme. It will be very difficult to leave an encounter with Mad Trapper unscathed.
Label: Sorrow Carrier Records
Release Date: June 29, 2015
Favorite Tracks: “Dead Living”, “Caved In”, “1/3” and “Paths”
For Fans Of: Converge, Seizures, Coalesce, Fever Dreams and Cult Leader