Extreme-metal bands and their fans love gory lyrics. Slayer and Cannibal Corpse keep things theatrical, but on their new EP, Cleveland's Fistula tackle the all-too-real case of alleged rapist and murderer Anthony Sowell. The band cranks out ultra-distorted riffs over clattering drums; the vocals are an indecipherable howl of pain. Goat is a seriously ugly record, as befits its morbid and disturbing subject matter. The music is a buzzing, hostile roar. Samples of news coverage tell the story of sex crimes and the discovery of bodies (and body parts) in Sowell's home. The dispassionate narration, bolstered by grinding riffs, makes the whole thing even more depressing and bleak. There's no Cannibal Corpse-style shock value here — this is real death metal. — Phil Freeman
A Band Named AshesCircles
A decidedly retro vibe runs through the new album by these Akron-based progressive-folkies. The title track sounds like a solo Lindsey Buckingham cut from the '90s, and the cello-driven "Breaking" has overtones of soft-rock balladeers Simply Red. Pristine vocal harmonies are the group's strength. They sound like a virtual choir in "By My Side" and "Gonna Be King." But Circles' righteous attitude is a problem. A Band Named Ashes occasionally approach the modern-folk sensibilities of the Swell Season (like in the elegant "Where You Belong," the album's highlight), but their attitude too often comes off holier than thou. — Jeff Niesel
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