(stoner record reviews)

Godflesh - Cold World:  This is the British grindcore band's newest release, a
single in the classic industrial style of two songs and two remixes.  Or
alternate mixes.  Whatever they are, the last three tracks are essentially the
same song, so this ends up being a Godflesh song and then some protracted
background music that doesn't vary that much.  However, this release is
important in that it gets back to more of the core of Godflesh:  industrial
emotion, harshness, a conveyance of rage and pain and fear and resignation.
The sound has moved closer to the mainstream through the loss of the scratchy,
hellish, deathlike vocals of past albums and through a newer tendency toward
occasional mellowness through less reliance on the distorted guitar clawing of
guitarist/vocalist Justin Broadrick (Napalm Death, Head of David, Scorn).  The
title track starts softly but then progresses into the power of full drum
machine anger and distorted guitar, bringing back more of the feel of
"Streetcleaner" than anything else.  Many hardcore Godflesh fans may feel it's
a sellout, but I value this release because it escapes the formulaic nature of
some of their recent stuff.  At least the band hasn't festered, despite
Broadrick and bassist G.C. Green working on other projects, including the Mick
Harris/John Zorn colaboration "Pain Killers."  It's a newer start, a return,
but most of all some hope for an otherwise stagnant band.

Crowbar - Obedience Thru Suffering:  This album comes from the Grindcore
label, but it's the most mainstream grindcore I'd ever seen.  This is the slow
& heavy variety of grindcore, a more anguished, tortured and industrial souding
doom metal, perhaps.  Musically, it's competent, more complex than average
grindcore and more precise, given the new opportunity for critical listening
caused by the reduced speed.  Heavy riffs populate these songs, often varying
to great effect.  Drumming is mainly routine, but has some interesting tempo
changes.  Vocals are harsh sometimes, shouted others, and sung still others,
leaving a combination of the metal singing styles of the past twenty years.
It's not hard to listen to, though, sounding somewhat accessible while still
being far enough underground to attract the more serious fans.  This album
decreases as it progresses; I think it would have been better off as an EP,
with some songs removed and others edited.  It's still powerful, however, and
also has the advantage of avoiding the clone state of being; this music has a
new sound and a new appeal, which doesn't give it the automatic fan base most
death metal or black metal bands can expect but leaves it with the potential to
escape the cliches dragging these genres down.  High hopes for the next

Cathedral - Soul Sacrifice:  Cathedral's doom metal heaviness comes out even
further on this EP, where they leave behind the deadpan heaviness of the past
and further develop their musical variation and melodic power.  The first track
is a new recording of the song by the same name on their "Forest of
Equilibrium" album, done with more energy but no less feel on this release.
After that, three new songs featuring Cathedral's powerful heaviness
(reminiscent of Black Sabbath on heavier days) follow, making this almost as
extension of the last album, which was no lightweight either.  If you enjoy the
music of Cathedral, a definite recommendation; if you don't know whether or not
you want to hear heavy, churning, melodic yet growlish music, this is a safe
investment to help you decide.

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