When: Tue., Aug. 12, 9 p.m. 2014
On their second full-length, Lowgazers (Throatruiner), French band Plebeian Grandstand get mathcore and grind all tangled up with black metal, producing a nasty little masterpiece of constant discomfort. Because they allow no familiar cliche to live for more than a few seconds, sooner or later the album is going to make you squirm or piss you off, no matter what your metal background is. (In case you were wondering, I think that’s a good thing.) Though Lowgazers is broken up into individual tracks, after a while it starts to sound like a single oozing, animate lump of black-earth clay, unpredictably extruding spikes or shooting jets of acid—but no matter how radically it changes shape, it doesn’t spawn any new free-standing entities. Not till the very last track, at least: “Mvrk Diving,” for all its aggression, is sufficiently song-shaped that next to the rest of the album it sounds like a pop single.
Copenhagen’s Hexis have been releasing choice cuts in EP and demo form since 2011, so you could be forgiven for not realizing that this spring’s Abalam (Halo of Flies) is their first full-length—especially since every moment of it sounds utterly assured. The album sits on the cusp between black metal and blackened hardcore cusp, and from the latter it draws a tightly controlled but explosive ferocity that knows how to punch hard and then leave ’em in the dirt—almost all of its howling fits of concentrated evil are less than three minutes long, and that’s sans any restful ethereal interludes. But just when you’ve developed a tolerance for that vicious short-song barrage, along comes the album’s eight-and-a-half-minute closer, “Inferis,” which demonstrates that Hexis very nearly could sustain that intensity for much longer. They just choose not to—if they wanted to go epic all the time, they could be terrifyingly good at it. —Monica Kendrick