Coffins – Beyond The Circular Demise

When you think of Japan, you think of sushi, manga, anime, bullet trains, and the samurai; what you do not think of is solid death metal. And Coffins are a prime example of why we cannot spend any more time sleeping on Japanese death metal. The death/doomsters are back with their fifth release “Beyond The Circular Demise” an infernal release with grit and teeth.

It is a crime that after four full-length releases, numerous splits and EPs and fourteen years on the scene, the bruisers in Coffins are slowly grinding their way into worldwide stardom. But their approach on Beyond The Circular Demise clearly shows us that they are masters of their craft. There is no mucking about with longwinded intros and ambience that plague many modern death metal releases. Coffins hits you right where it hurts on opener “Terminate by own Prophecy”. Their signature sound mirrors the grimy, unpolished, and almost primal nature that has been popularized in recent times by acts like Tomb Mold, Convulsing, and Pyrrhon. The drums are lumbering, the bass is dripping, and the guitars are thick, gritty, hefty, and illicit a sincerity that the synthetic production of modern records belie.

The riffs on Beyond The Circular Demise are as nostalgic of OSDM but are not without tricks and flourishes buried deep within its chasms. There are flecks of crust-punk inspired chugs and oozing sludgy doom arrangements like those found on Impuritious Minds. These sections are where Coffins do their best work. The vibe is instantly cavernous and monstrous, pummeling, and filled with inevitable dread. Chuggy sections like main riff section of Insane form a perfect backdrop for vocalist (and guitarist) Uchino to summon infernal growls from the bowels of hell itself. A surprising quirk is the occasional use of vocoders to blend the vocal lines into an electronic static sample which is odd and unsettling, and becomes a quick highlight. Album closer Gateways to Dystopia takes a small step towards modern doom with its main riff arrangement and quicker pace set by the thundering double kickdrums and is one of the strongest ways to end a record.

As a Japanese artist, it is understandable that English is not their primary language of expression, so props must be given to the band for trudging on with English titles and lyrics, however the grammatical errors in the song titles feel awkward and take away from the total effect of the record itself. In addition ,being a spoiled millennial I still struggle with the crusty production values, and I firmly believe that Coffins would be better served by modern sonics, but the sound does match the imagery and adds weight to the savage motif so my quibbles are minor. The drums are unquantized, the hits are not always square but are hard, and human.

At the end of the day, Beyond The Circular Demise is a beast of a record. It makes no excuses for what it is: a chunky slab of slow moving, evil, dreaded animal which should not be trifled with.

Rating: 7.8/10

Favorite Tracks: The Tranquil End, Insane, Gateways to Dystopia.

Coffins – Beyond The Circular Demise / Bandcamp / Relapse

Whitechapel – The Valley (Metal Blade Records)

If there was ever a big 4 of Deathcore, Whitechapel would be among them, along with Job for a Cowboy, Suicide Silence, and perhaps All Shall Perish. These are the bands that invented the genre and created the foundation for what would become nearly a decade of future copycats and a mire of mediocre ripoffs. But Whitechapel are back in 2019 to show us why they truly deserve their seat among the genre elites. “The Valley” is a sharp response to all the haters out there criticizing the band and the genre of waning into obscurity.

Whitechapel has been slowly moving away from the classic breakdown-laden deathcore sound since 2011’s The New Era of Corruption, adding fresh elements to each subsequent offering. The New Era began to fully utilize extended range guitars and incorporated more elements lifted from death metal. This record was followed by 2012’s S/T record which began playing with more prog-metal ideas while still maintaining that brash exterior that fans of deathcore expect from Whitechapel. They began to veer dangerously away from traditional death metal and deathcore on 2014’s Our Endless War drawing influences from “djent” and nu-metal, much to the anguish of many of their fans, including me. Their penultimate record Mark of the Blade was poorly received and labeled Whitechapel as washed out and tired, with many fans complaining about how far they had diverged from their deathcore roots and attacked the decision to include clean-vocal passages into their songs, which many see as grievous deathcore sin.

However, The Valley is a different beast. It is new Whitechapel fully realized. The record is the culmination of the experimental elements and brave leaps taken on previous records after The New Era, but now sharpened to lethal precision. Album opener When a Demon Defiles a Witch immediately informs us that Whitechapel are masters of their craft and serves as a perfect marketing pitch for the entire record. It is emotional, explosive, brutal, catchy, and every other positive adjective you can attribute to a successful metal track. The maligned clean-vocals are back, but this time they are oh-so-good! Following that rollercoaster, we are thrown right into deathcore territory with Forgiveness is Weakness, which slaps listeners with proof that Whitechapel can still write crushingly devastating riffs, breakdowns, growls, and blast-beats. I found myself screaming “Forgiveness… is useless!” to the air after two listens, instantly fast-tracking the track to my favorites. Every track on The Valley is set in purpose, with zero fluff. Tracks like Brimstone, Black Bear, We Are One are blistering deathcore tracks that will be perfect additions to their live repertoire.

Even when Whitechapel decides to ease up on the brutality with acoustic sections and melodic arrangements they do so with the maturity of veterans. It never comes off as contrived or insincere, and instantly connects with the listener. A prime example of this is the emotionally-charged Hickory Creek. Any deathcore fan, including myself, would have balked at the idea of a Whitechapel track filled entirely with clean-vocals, but Hickory Creek is easily among the heaviest tracks Whitechapel has ever written, not in the traditional sense, but with the amount of sincere weight it carries. There is not a weak or forgettable track on this record, which is high praise for a genre that is pretty played out in 2019. Album closer Doom Woods is apt, it is an epilogue to an immensely enjoyable journey through the ten tracks of ferocity, anger, strength, vulnerability, and depth. Doom Woods is a mid-paced lumbering beast with gigantic chords backed with ominous string arrangements perfectly closing the record on a somber note.

The Valley shows that Whitechapel can write superlative and cohesive deathcore, because at its core the members of Whitechapel are constantly innovating. The guitar riffs are sharp, the breakdowns chunky, the solos soaring. Even though Whitechapel will always be criticized for underusing their three guitarists, The Valley does show each of the guitarist’s flair at various points through the record. The bass is well-mixed, and slices right through the mix, which is a tall order for a band with three extended range guitarists. It growls during the riffs, and is smooth during the slower sections and is altogether rewarding. Drum duties on The Valley were handled by Navene Koperweis (ex-Animosity, ex-Faceless, ex-Animals as Leaders, Entheos) who is no stranger to writing bludgeoning drum sections and his heavy hits go a long way to make The Valley as brutal as it is.

But nobody will deny that the true star on The Valley is vocalist Phil Bozeman, and oh god, he is absolutely godlike on this record. His lows are hellish, his shrieks are banshee-like, and his cleans are easily among the best in metal, period. He channels Deftones, Slipknot/Stone Sour, and Alice in Chains with his clean-vocal stylings with masterful proficiency cementing his place as the best vocalist in the genre. Where Suicide Silence failed catastrophically with their attempt at clean vocals, Whitechapel (and Phil) clears any doubt that clean vocals can be pristine in the genre when done right. Furthermore, the lyrical content is directly influenced by Bozeman’s own childhood struggles and difficult relationship with his addicted and abusive mother. Tracks like When a Demon Defiles a Witch, and Hickory Creek even have lyrics directly taken from his mother’s diary which adds a level of gravitas that is unparalleled. Another example is when Third Depth grinds to a halt and Phil moans “Im not stable” you feel every breath of angst in his voice. Even with a few moments spent with these tracks are enough to convey that these songs are near to Bozeman’s heart and by extension, Whitechapel. This is surely his strongest effort to date and will be difficult if not impossible to beat on subsequent records.

Whitechapel has not sold out, in fact, they are back with a vengeance, and have made a bold proclamation with The Valley. They are here to stay, they are the band to beat in the genre, and anyone who skips this record is doing themselves the greatest disservice!

Overall Rating: 9/10

Favorite Songs: When a Demon Defiles a Witch, Hickory Creek, Forgiveness is Weakness, Doom Woods.

Whitechapel – The Valley (Metal Blade Records) / Facebook / Twitter /

Obscura – Diluvium (CD)

Few names in technical death metal actually stick around to be instantly recognizable in the genre, and with Diluvium, German sluggers Obscura find themselves genre veterans, often in the same breath as critically acclaimed acts like Necrophagist and Death. This new offering is the fourth and final chapter in the album-saga and is a direct sequel to the 2015 banger, Akroasis. Is Diluvium the crescendo of the story? Continue reading “Obscura – Diluvium (CD)”

Morne – To The Night Unknown

Doom metal is usually a miss for me owing to a slew of bands devolving into a formulaic trudge through molasses of mediocrity. But ever so often, there comes a piece of music so gargantuan and animalistic that you cannot help but get excited. The fifth release To The Night Unknown by Boston doomsludgers Morne released on Armageddon Records and the first to be released on the band’s own eponymous Morne Records is one of those works. Continue reading “Morne – To The Night Unknown”

Light This City – Terminal Bloom

At the Gates did a lot for metal music, giving a melodic edge to the oft-brash death metal genre, birthing melodic death metal, a genre now as established as any other, and Light This City are back after a decade long hiatus to rekindle our love for the band and genre with their newest record Terminal Bloom. Continue reading “Light This City – Terminal Bloom”

Abjection Ritual – Soul of Ruin, Body of Filth

Let’s face it, we all have genres and subgenres and microgenres that we don’t get into not for any reason but because there is just so much content from bands in genres that we do like that we rarely find reason to stray. Doom and it’s microgenre drone metal is one of those genres, that I hear only good things about, but seemed so far away from the metal I am used to, that I never stray into its rotting, fetid maw. When Abjection Ritual’s third LP, Soul of Ruin, Body of Filth was passed along to me, I decided to take a deep dive into its murky depths. Continue reading “Abjection Ritual – Soul of Ruin, Body of Filth”

At the Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself (single)

At the Gates requires no introduction, not from someone the likes of me at the very least. Hailed among the forefathers of the Gothenburg melodic death metal scene, these Swedes have been iconic in shaping a genre and spawned a legion of like-minded bands in their decades-long career. Continue reading “At the Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself (single)”

Dying Fetus – Wrong One to Fuck With (CD)

Dying Fetus is one of those artists that are always on the list of bands I use to scare away my non-metalhead friends, especially those who subscribe to the “metal is noise” school of thought. Just to bristle their jimmies some more, the band name itself is like adding cayenne to their already bleeding ears. I cannot get enough! Continue reading “Dying Fetus – Wrong One to Fuck With (CD)”

Bad Omens – Bad Omens (CD)

Imagine the metalcore-world we live in now, where Asking Alexandria is still trying to find its way back to its metalcore roots, and Bring Me The Horizon have arguably made the decision to go in a more commercialized direction with their new record. Pray tell where should we find our new Warped Tour-core messiahs now? I have found the answer: Bad Omens. They are setting the scene on fire with their debut self-titled CD. Continue reading “Bad Omens – Bad Omens (CD)”