ILLIDIANCE, Deformity (2013, self-released)

The skull:
The deep blue palette and the fine, soft brushwork on display here (even if it was done, as it likely was, entirely digitally) make me think of Necrolord, but there’s no way he’d ever create something as garishly stupid as this. Skull, brass knuckles, grenade, banner, sawblade, wings, outline stars, stencil AND script lettering: this cover has everything you need for like five douchey tattoos, with enough left over for two or three Affliction shirts. This is the pure, concentrated distillation of Hot Topic, in album art form.

The music:
Thuggish Soilwork style stuff, leavened by a shitpile of bloopy techno keyboards and bass drops, plus plenty of the djenty chugs that the kidz are so into these days. This is really shameless dreck, like a shittier version of Mnemic (if you can even imagine). Really, people: there is nothing more to be gained from mixing death metal howls and schmaltzy emo clean vocals. There’s no surprise in the contrast anymore, and no one will ever believe that your band is either tough OR sensitive. They will, however, immediately understand that you’re trendchasing whores without vision or talent. Read Illidiance’s Metal Archives page and you’ll be hammered over the head by this Russian band’s feckless opportunism: “Genre: Symphonic Black Metal (early), Electronic/Metal (later)…. The band now describes themselves as ‘cyber metal’.” Ugh. They even used to wear corpsepaint and are now all about full-sleeve tattoos and wraparound shades. Amazing. I guess I could give them points for making a good sounding EP, but actually, I won’t. Fuck this stupid band.
— Friar Johnsen


DEAD MAN’S HAND, Dead Man’s Hand  (2006, demo)

The skull:
Razor…brass knuckles…bullet hole through forehead…fiery noggin. Maybe I’m just getting desensitized to all this, but this is a lame cover. This sort of tattoo-ready Black Label Society-meets-hardcore sort of imagery is BEAT, people. Stop using it. It certainly doesn’t get me excited to hear the music which, after 266 skulls, we can’t expect to be life-changing, can we? Forgive me if I appear cynical…

The music:
Golly…wouldn’t you know it? This is no good. Technically, it’s well-played. There is no sloppiness here. They are very aggressive. They would appeal to people who cannot get enough of Slaughter of the Soul filtered through lazier musicians who don’t care a thing for nuance or subtlety of any kind. It’s like this band thinks Carnal Forge and The Haunted are the BEST BANDS EVER. I love Slaughter of the Soul, but I’m as tired of the endless iterations on that theme as you are, and I cannot take any more watered-down cloning of that sound. So ends one of the most useless entries into the halls of the Big Dumb Skull as there ever was. Goodbye.
— Friar Wagner