Straight To The Point: Quick Reviews Of GLADIATORS EAT FIRE And IMMORTAL BIRD

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Gladiators Eat Fire – Avant Garage

Avant Garage cover art

Other than their peculiar name, Seattle heavy rockers Gladiators Eat Fire are sure to grab listeners’ attentions with their eclectic and infectiously heavy sound. Avant Garage, their newest release, picks up where their 2012 Psychedelic Hogwash EP left off. Post-hardcore makes up the skeleton of this record’s sound, while very pronounced elements of sludge, stoner and waves of psychedelia give it its flavor. With only five tracks and a mere 28 minutes at their disposal, Gladiators Eat Fire make the most of their short time and leave the listener wanting more. The record opens with the one-two punch of “Shapeshifter” and “Smoke Tactics”. Knife-like melodies bleed into bouncing, drop-tuned riffs throughout “Shapeshifter”, only to give way to corrosive grooves and bestial chords on the massive “Smoke Tactics”. The vocals, which range from harsh screams, belting yells and unenthused ramblings,  give the music an extra dash of character.  Reverberating, desert melodies ring out menacingly atop primal percussion during the beginning moments of “Vertical Event Horizon”. The track then conjures up Kyuss-esque sludge progressions that are quickly followed by angular, dancing riffs and hazy-eyed psychedelic solo work. The multifaceted “Duke Mongrel” follows with fuzzy, serpentine stoner riffs morph into dissonant assaults and kaleidoscopic melodies. The nearly seven minute “Bohemian Decadence” closes out the record with a mashup of somber dirges, monolithic sludge, These Arms Are Snakes-esque mathematic guitar acrobatics and walls of noisy riffs. As previously stated, Avant Garage is sure to leave listeners with a longing for more after it comes to and end.  Gladiators Eat Fire have a very unique sound that will be interesting to watch evolve over the years to come.

Rating: 8/10
Label: Alive & Breathing Records
Release Date: April 25, 2015
Favorite Tracks: “Smoke Tactics” and “Vertical Event Horizon”
For Fans Of: He Whose Ox is Gored, These Arms Are Snakes and Helms Alee


Immortal Bird – Empress/Abscess

Empress/Abscess cover art

Immortal Bird sneaked their Akrasia EP into the final moments of 2013 and turned a lot of heads in the underground metal community. The Chicagoans’ sickening blend of blackened death metal and grindcore made for a nauseating 19-minute debut. Naturally, 19 minutes isn’t enough to satiate the hellacious soul. Thankfully, Immortal Bird have return with their punishing full-length debut, Empress/Abscess. This half-hour record twists and contorts the sounds present on Akrasia into new towering, abysmal and grandiose passages. The brooding “Neoplastic” opens up the record with bending, dissonant melodies and sets the stage for the rest of the album. Pummeling blast beats and accompanying black metal adjacent tremolo picked riffs morph into dissonant grind assaults and unbalanced, Gorgutsian rhythmic bursts during this frenzied, stylistically-varied track. Vocalist Rae Amitay’s malevolent rasp and guest vocalist John Hoffman’s (Weekend Nachos) bark help make this one stunner of an opener. But the fun is not over. “Saprophyte” follows shortly after with somber melodies that ride atop grumbling, palm muted riffs. This twin guitar attack evolves into vile chugging marches accompanied by serpentine dissonant melodies. As it progresses, the track churns out more and more malformed, sliding and convulsing riffs before exploding into straightforward, frostbitten black metal. “The Sycophant” is the album’s most straightforward tune, what with its driving death-infused hardcore chord progressions and catchy yet abrasive leads. The band return to swirling chaos with “To a Watery Grave”, which churns out walls of Deathspell Omega-esque, angular black metal during its initial moments. Scathing guitars burst through the sonic miasma with a procession of blackened grind that is relentless in its attack until it is halted by a polarizing piano interlude. Immortal Bird choose to close out their debut with a 10-minute behemoth titled “And Send Fire”. Intertwining, dissonant melodies buzz like hell-spawned insects before giving way to a cold, black metal death march. Rapidly shifting, noisy riffs spiral out of control and are interspersed with clean interludes during the bulk of the track. The song reaches its climax of cataclysmic chords and dissolves into a final three-minute smog of haunting atmosphere. Empress/Abscess is one of the best full-length debuts a metal band could have. It’s dark, suffocating and unapologetic. If this record is any indicator of what is to come, then Immortal Bird is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Rating: 9/10
Label: Broken Limbs Recordings/Manatee Rampage
Release Date: July 14, 2015
Favorite Tracks: “Neoplastic” and “Saprophyte”
For Fans Of: Pyrrhon, Sulfur Aeon, Imperial Triumphant and Hod


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