Monday, November 17, 2014
16) Ered Wethrin - Tides of War
At first I just wanted this to be more like Caladan Brood or Gallowbraid, but while some similarities pervade, this album has a decent set of feet to stand on. A mighty debut!
17) Abigor - Leymotif Luzifer
Yet another cacophonous futuristic maelstrom from one of my favorite bands. This is definitely a challenging listen but a rewarding one at that.
18) Swallowed - Lunarterial
I've been waiting for a debut from these guys for 5 years at least, and in that time they have gnarled into a differen beast entirely. I was a little let down but this is still very original.
19) Drudkh - Eastern Frontier in Flames
So odd how this plays like an album, yet its mostly covers. Phenomenal release nonetheless.
20) Horned Almighty - World of Tombs
I will never get tired of this band, another rock solid fist banger of an album. These guys just keep getting better.
21) Mare Cognitum - Phobos Monolith
Oh man, this totally hits the spot. I liken this to a cross between Wolves in the Throne Room and Darkspace. Definitely worth your attention!
22) Woman is the Earth - Depths
Its great to hear a new band hearken back to Weakling's "Dead as Dreams" without sounding contrived. These guys are headed in the right direction.
23) Cauldron Black Ram - Stalagmire
I've always loved these guys but this album really clicked with me. Everything fell into place here and this record is awesome.
24) Goatmoon - Voitto Tai Valhalla
Killer band with tons of great riffs, always a fun listen despite their questionable repute.
25) Paramnesia - s/t
I was really excited to have discovered these guys. They take the Ash Borer formula and run with it to great effect!
26) Ahamkara - the Embers of the Stars
Holy hell, who pissed these dudes off? This is an absolutely killer debut from the UK.
27) Alcest - Shelter
Yeah, I'm just not ready to give up on these guys yet. This album has absolutely nothing to do with their former genre, but the signature blissful and longing melancholic melodicism is still strong with them. I still haven't grown tired of it.
28) Falconer - Black Moon Rising
One of my most listened to albums of the year. Its a monster power metal album with all sorts of catchy and memorable moments. This album will never get old.
29) Fluisteraars - Dromers
Pretty interesting and solid effort. I really like the monotonous and grinding repetition they use.
30) Latitude Egress - To Take up the Cross
I was looking forward to this a great deal, and I'm still getting comfortable with it. It doesn't help that the very similar Cross Vault album was in heavy rotation all year long.
When I present part 1 of this 2 part article, I will also include a list of honorable mentions that didn't quite make the cut of top 30, but are still albums worth giving a listen if your are in search of more metal. Thank you to all the talented, artistic and humble people that make this world of music more interesting, vital and expressive. This is our language and this is how we speak. 2014 has been a huge year for metal. Lets take it easy in 2015 so I can have some time to listen to all this great stuff even more haha!
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Though its all we've got, I've often felt like using words to describe music is pointless. Its like painting basketballs about divorce. I can tell you what an incredible album this is until I am blue in the face but my words have little ability to accurately portray the power that these songs hold. I have probably listened to the album 25 times since I got it last week and I though I've had so many of the different parts swimming about my head every second that I haven't been listening to it, it still sounds like the first time I heard it. Its IMPOSSIBLE to get sick of this. There is an instrumental section at the end of the song "Spectral Eyes" that is an apex. A section so brilliant that it makes everything I've ever done as a fan of this music seem entirely worthwhile because it brought me to the point of being able to understand, appreciate and be in awe of what went into what I'm hearing.
In comparison to past work, this album in particular is a lot more down to earth as far as the production is concerned. I cant say I have ever heard any other album sound like this. The overall timbre of the instruments in unison is somewhat drab and pallid, it all feels very...within reach and real. This lends to it being a very intimate and personal sounding record, it also serves to highlight the ornate and lush musicality found on the record by starkly contrasting it. To even further deliver the realness, this album sounds extremely well rehearsed and live, I cant imagine they spent much time doing punch-ins or edits. Stylistically speaking, this record is a long progression from a foundation that is black metal, this album is barely black metal by definition. The guitar playing, the bass playing, and drums are teeming with influences ranging from 70's rock & country to modern post rock and a moderate amount of other US black metal. Even further removed from this album are other typical elements of your average metal album of today such as barbarity, anger, or really any dark subject matter in general. Falls of Rauros needn't bother themselves with any of that posturing because they clearly focus on being one thing: GREAT.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Today I am feeling relieved. My trouble began when I met Tanner Anderson in the winter of 2007 and soon after was the first time I'd heard Autumnal Winds. Upon loving it immensely (see my review), there was always this distracting itch that I couldn't scratch. I really wanted to be able to say the typical phrase "Oh, this is just like ______ crossed with ______." There was such a tangible familiarity that I am usually able to quantify easily by communicating something by describing it as "A thrashier ______" or something to that effect. This trouble is even further fueled by Tanner and I's mutual and unforgivingly rampant obsession with melodic black and death metal bands of the 1990's. Knowing that Tanner and I's CD collections are largely interchangeable makes it all the more frustrating that I couldn't easily reverse engineer Tanner's music; be it Autumnal Winds or Obsequiae to a palatable formula that could be stated in a short sentence.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
In 1998 when this came out, the metal world was bursting forth into dozens of sub-genres and it seemed everyone was trying new ideas, and a lot of it was great. I go back to this era quite often for new things that I may have missed. Otyg had tremendous foresight and bravery to take this idea to the hilt, and they were very lucky to have hit the nail on the head with this album in particular. (I will note briefly that though I liked it when it came out, Otyg's follow up "Sargovindars Boning" falls vastly short of what Alvefard was able to achieve, and hasn't aged well with me. Maybe in another 16 years I will get around to liking it.) Musically speaking this album is a metal record, arguably more prog than metal but lets not get caught up in semantics. Most other forms of folk metal at this point in time had a backbone consisting of the standard ferocious and / or vicious blackened metal with various flutes and violins adorning and dressing it up to be folk or viking metal. I have to make a clear distinction here, this type of metal I have a hard time considering "true" folk metal, whereas an album like "Älvefärd" I consider to be a more believable interpretation of original Swedish folk songs into this modern heathen foray (* nod to Falkenbach). Bands like Finntroll or Moonsorrow can play squeezebox pizza metal all day long and I can count on one hand the number of albums I like in this niche, but I think "Älvefärd" champions all of that nonsense. To further illustrate my perceived authenticity with this record, Swedish folk music is traditionally played on a violin or fiddle, and Cia Hedmark's violin playing and simply gorgeous accompanying vocals are given a great deal more play in Otyg than most other bands. Additionally there is a fair amount of terrific flute playing throughout the album.
If you take away all the above elements, the core of "Älvefärd" is mostly some sort of 70's prog album with a modern leaning toward the heavy without veering too closely to anything sneering, evil or ferocious whatsoever. The influence of bands like Saxon, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Jethro Tull, & Focus is probable. The band's satchel of talent is flourishing with ideas that lay the groundwork for these varied songs. Furthermore I think it is important to highlight this album in particular because Otyg had three demos prior to this debut, which never quite fell into place, but show that a far amount of carving trial and error went into making this such a perfect record. Vintersorg's talent is unquestionable as a guitarist and a vocalist. Knowing that he was a tender 20 years of age when he began the odyssey of Otyg is clear evidence of this. Singing entirely with clean vocals and writing such stirring and memorable songs are what make this far and away my favorite output of Vintersorg.
Last year I attended a metal show in Chicago featuring several bands from all corners of the earth, and while I'm not too familiar with the themes these bands dwell upon, it was pretty clear that if you weren't into Satan, you weren't welcome at this show. I was never really into Satan but I tolerated the idea because for most of my life, I would have argued that all metal should be about Satan and at least concern itself with an enjoyable amount of spiritual warfare to counteract the right wing religious upbringing all of its fans had endured. It took this show to make it clear to me that I no longer had a place in this particular form of heathenry. I'm a much more humble man these days and no longer and I drawn to such reckless contagion of negativity. The grandest things I enjoy now are in the ways I connect with nature, science, history and art. As of late "Älvefärd" has been waiting for me at the edge of the forest inviting me into its humble and welcoming world. In this way I fell a much more fulfilling and familiar connection with it than I ever have.
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
With that out of my system, here it is.
1) Caladan Brood - Echoes of Battle
2) Seidr - Ginnungagap
3) the Ruins of Beverast - Blood Vaults
4) Gorguts - Colored Sands
5) Gris - À l'âme enflammée, l'äme constellée...
6) Horn - Konflikt
7) Progenie Terrestre Pura - U.M.A.
8) Portal - Vexovoid
9) Inquisition - Obscure Verses for the Multiverse
10) Panopticon / Vestiges - Split
Each album at some point lifted the hair on the back of my neck, gave me tingles all over my body and made my ears gaze in wonderment. These albums gave me what keeps me happy as a rabid music maniac.
Honorable as fuck Mentions:
Abysmal Grief - Feretri
Abyssal - Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius
Altar of Plagues - Teethed Glory and Injury
Arckanum - Fenris Kindir
Arsaidh / Saor - Roots
Begrime Exemious - Wasteland of Damnation
Burzum - Sôl austan, Mâni vestan
Csejthe - Réminiscence
Coffins - Fleshland
Cultes Des Ghoules - Henbane
Ephel Duath - Hemmed by Light, Shaped by Darkness
Falkenbach - Asa
Finnr's Cane - A Portrait Painted by the Sun
Galdr - Ancient Light of the Stars
the Howling Wind - Vortex
Hypocrisy - End of Disclosure
Incursus - Adaestuo
Kawir - Isotheosis
Magic Circle - s/t
Njiqahdda - Serpents in the Sky
Nocturnal Graves - From the Bloodline of Cain
Oranssi Pazuzu - Valonielu
Paysage d'Hiver - Das Tor
Peste Noire - s/t
Prosanctus Inferi - Noctambulous Jaws Within Sempiternal Night
Red Fang - Whales and Leeches
Sacriphyx - the Western Front
Skagos - Anarchic
Skogr - In Obscure Darkness
Summoning - Old Morning's Dawn
Thou Art Lord - the Regal Pulse of Lucifer
Ulcerate - Vermis
Vali - Skogslandskap
Voivod - Target Earth
Warlord - the Holy Empire
Wedrujacy Wiatr - Tam, gdzie miesiąc opłakuje świt
When Bitter Spring Sleeps - Coven of the Wolves
Witherscape - The Inheritance
Carcass - "Fart Blood" I cant forgive one of my favorite bands for releasing a mediocre, forced, uncohesive mess of an album to make $, and luckily I don't have to. This sounds like a Carcass tribute band playing medleys of the worst parts of their past songs at the grand opening of a nail salon.
Germ - "Grief" This band had one redeeming quality to it that made me love the first two. Its hard to put into words, but whatever it was, its absolutely gone from this hot mess of an album. What a shame, I was really looking forward to this.
Horna - "Askel Lähempänä Saatanaa" Maybe I need to give this a third chance, or maybe I'm just burned out on this band, but this album seems like the exact same song over and over and over.
Satyricon - "Satyricon" Not a huge fan of this band but I usually find a minute reason or two to listen to their recent albums, but this is just totally out of left field and they forgot to write any cool parts.
Ihsahn - "Das Seelenbrechen" - This is what emptiness sounds like. I'd rather listen to paint dry.
Morbosidad - "Muerte de Cristo en Golgota" - I was once a big fan of these guys, but this sounds like my entire Revenge collection being flushed down a toilet for 40 minutes. BARF.
Deafheaven - "Sunbathsalts" - Not only is this band uninspired, unimaginative and a bunch of posers, but they are getting shitloads of accolades for completely ripping off Panopticon. Fuck these nerds.
Ulver - "Messy Curtains XXX" - I find Tangerine Dream fascinating, but I seriously cannot stand more than 6 minutes of this without being bored to tears. This is devoid of anything interesting, what the fuck is with all the hype?
Darkthrone - the Underground Resistance
If you've read this and you think I've forgotten or omitted anything...youre probably wrong. I've spent countless hours sampling the heaps of shit that came out this year and that is why I feel a duty to be the voice of reason here. See you next year!
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Luckily, in his latest release "The Absent King of the Earth," I am very pleased to hear a less distracting accompaniment and a more focused and tasteful production lifting these great songs where they deserve to dwell. This isn't one of my preferred genres of music because I often get a bit dragged down by the "sad sack" attitude of some singer-songwriters. In contrast however this EP has a comfortable length and enough variety and personality to keep me pretty much glued whenever I put it on. I tend to be a sucker for catchy melodicism and hooky song craft, and I find that the core of Arlen's songs possess a mindfulness of his ability to take advantage of that skill. Though I like the EP quite a bit, the highlight for me is a spoken word track called "I Want a Life" where he speaks pointedly about what he wants out of life. Though not technically a song, I think that the accompanying music, the mixing and recording on this track -clicks- the way I think all of his songs should, and can.
"The Absent King of the Earth" is not only a joy, but also a heap of evidence that Old Man Charlie is clearly heading for brighter horizons. I like to think of this EP as his parting gift to Iowa City, as the talent pool here is severely lessened by his departure to Los Angeles.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Whats been keeping me afloat lately:
Suhnopfer - "Nos Sombres Chapelles" Devastating, unrelenting, pummeling french black metal. I havent heard anything this aggressive in a long time. Makes me feel old. This was a great find by my friend Kurt.
Gorguts - "Colored Sands" A maelstrom of whirling and intricate death metal from these legends. This is a monument of human capacity to say the least.
Warlord - "The Holy Empire" Here is an enthralling take on the classic Warlord sound. Its so rare to hear traditional metal done so tastefully well. Its a bit too cheesy at times but hey this is Warlord we are talking about here.
Michael Perkins "Mr. 666 - GA008" This could easily be the score to a eerie 80's horror movie. Akin to Goblin and that ilk but done remarkably well without being too overly kitschy.
Eclipse "the Act of Degradation" Sort of a more symphonic and more adventurous version of what Lord Kaos was trying to do. Very complex and well arranged.
Lonndom "Viddernas tolv kapitel" Fairly ragged and charismatic folk from Sweden by guy from Lik. Very accessible.
Allegiance "Blodornsoffer" & "Hymn till Hangagud" I always overlooked these albums because of my hatred for Peter Tagtgren's lifeless production, but they are actually very good. Kind of hard to categorize even though people often think of them as viking metal.
Alcest "Les Voyages De L'ame" I've had a problem listening to Alcest ever since Les Discrets sorta beat them at their own game. After giving this a second chance I'm really enjoying it. This is an album that I will spend years devouring.
Watain "the Wild Hunt" After the single they released I feared it was the downfall of one of my favorite bands, but if you omit that track "the Child Must Die," this album is impeccable. If you're not expecting another Casus Luciferi or Sworn to the Dark, this holds its own quite well. This is more leaning away from the Dissection / Nifelheim influence in favor of a good helping of Bathory influence. What I find enjoyable about it is that its a near perfect commercial black metal album. This should please a lot of people and with proper touring I think Watain will be tops in black metal for many years.
The Howling Wind "Vortex" This is a great snarling album of straight forward black metal with excellent riffing and memorable songs. I'm really excited about this band.
Arch Enemy "Black Earth" I bought this in a dollar bin expecting to hate it, thinking it would be worth some $ down the road. It really caught me off guard and takes me back to 1998, a time when Swedish death metal was modernizing and commercializing. A sad eventuality, but a few choice albums stood the transition.
The Knife "Shaking the Habitual" This band has never quite done anything for me but Karin Dreijer Andersson has made me a fan with her work with Fever Ray, Honey is Cool and Royksopp. With this album I feel like they finally locked it in place. This has a lot to offer.
Peste Noire "Peste Noire" These guys are really starting to get fun. Its great to hear them further and further abandoning the trappings of the black metal genre and carving their own identity. This album seems to be where they grow their wings and really take off. It has a prevalent Mr. Bungle influence to it that I find addictive.
Supplicium "Magna Atra Missa" Another killer French band that I'd describe as a more raggedy Annthennath. I love this french style of guitar harmony.
What have you been listening to?
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Albums I have been playing a lot lately:
Hypocrisy - End of Disclosure
Blaze Foley - Cold, Cold, World
Horn - Naturkraft
Progenie Terrestre Pura - U.M.A.
Seidr - Ginnungagap (this will blow your fucking mind)
Darkthrone - all the albums with commentary
Bethzaida - LXXVIII
Demigod - the Slumber of Sullen Eyes
Caladan Brood - Echoes of Battle
Virus - Oblivion Clock
Erasmus - Alpha demo 1998
Come to think of it, please check out the aforementioned Erasmus demo. Its extremely rare and infinitely inventive. Its YEARS ahead of its time. You are welcome to download it for free here: http://319dude.bandcamp.com/album/alpha-demo
Friday, January 25, 2013
Sometimes I feel like I can be pretty wishy-washy on this subject but I have a lot of experience and insight on the subject and therefore I have a lot of opinions on this "hot topic." A friend of mine once said to me "I don't believe in MP3s, they hurt musicians." I'm not ashamed to admit it: I download a SHITLOAD of mp3s illegally, and I have since the days of Napster in the late 90's. I would estimate I download around 20 new (to me) releases a month, mostly metal. A large portion of it is stuff that I will never in a million years find physical copies of. Should that fact bar me from ever hearing it? If I went by that logic, then I would have to pay $119 (currently on discogs) to hear Emperor's "As the Shadows Rise" seven inch. While I think that is a decent price, not a single penny of that money will ever go to Emperor.
Last night I was really enjoying listening to a 7" by the Moon Lay Hidden Beneath a Cloud in my car (on my mp3 player of course). This likely was limited to 267 copies and came out in 1996, years before the wonderful voice of Alzbeth ever graced thine stubborn ears in 1999. This and other music is worth keeping available, and we have an inexpensive, simple and easy way to make sure that we, and other newcomers are able to enjoy this stuff for years to come. Its name is "the internet". The digital posterity of music is important to me because our generation is solely responsible for overseeing the inevitable progression of music technology from a tangible format to a virtual one. This is arguably the hugest thing to happen in the history of music. It affects every single musician on the face of the earth who wishes to compile a publicly available release.
Back before the internet, everything hung on an 8-14 word description in an obscure catalog or zine. In 1998 I knew that Lunar Aurora were an up and coming band because I had seen their debut "Weltenganger" mentioned in a playlist in a magazine, and it was a brief description (whose verbiage eludes me now) but I imagine it was something like "Great atmospheric BM from Germany" that was enough for me to spend $12 plus shipping on it back then. We now have the luxury of hearing everything before we buy. So I take full advantage of that opportunity, and consequently through the years, I have bought easily hundreds MORE CDs, LPs, shirts, etc from bands that I never would have known about were it not for the digital availability of so many releases. Obviously I am somewhat of an exception to the norm here, but my point here is that just because you download MP3s doesn't mean you HAVE to be a douche bag and never support artists. its certainly not one or the other.
I fully support bandcamp, soundcloud, and all these other services, they somewhat circumvent the need to illegally download albums. Ultimately though the days of buying a CD or LP without having heard it first are long behind us and its time to rethink some ideals about MP3s and such. Lastly I have said it before and it bears repeating. Music is meant to be heard, enjoyed and shared with others. The exploitation and objectification of music is what leads to even more terrible music, ALWAYS. If illegally downloading MP3s means the collapse of businesses that operate to do this, then all hail the new dawn.
Friday, December 28, 2012
Thursday, December 20, 2012
First lets get a few things out of the way to make this easier for both of us. This isn't epic, melodic, retro, goat-y, necro, and doesn't sound much like any other black metal band I've ever heard.. Musically, this is quite original and scratches an itch that only Lugubrum, and maaaaaaybe Vediog Svaor have even begun to scratch in the past. Not to toot my own horn much either but the riffing is also reminiscent of my old band "Satan's Almighty Penis." Of course there are some familiar tenets of black metal found here: varied but frequently blasting drums, fairly typical but notably well performed vocals and a typical overall production value that does the music justice by being somewhat dry and pallid with a bit of snarl to it. You should be able to dive right into if you've listened to ten or more black metal albums before.
Ok so now that I have cleared all of that out of the way: THE RIFFS! The guitar work of Darvulia's Kobal is out of this world. The riffing is HIGHLY imaginative, often grinding, completely disharmonious and dissonant as all fuck. If you are looking for riffs that make you think about mountains, trees, lakes, pirates, castles, vikings or pretzels, DON'T ENTRY!! All I can say is that musically this stuff is very obnoxious and therefore insanely hellish and challenging. Half of what makes "Mysticisme Macabre" so enjoyable and refreshing for me is that it is what it isn't. The other half is that there is some highly challenging and obtuse music composition found here, and Darvulia have become highly productive within this style. The composition is about as untraditional as you can get. The varied ebb and flow of their 5-7 minute long songs keep me enthralled more than a lot of records of this ilk ever do. Its disgustingly awkward enough to keep me interested and yet not so unrelenting that it gets boring. I often find myself listening to it three or four times in row.
I haven't been able to peel myself away from this album for a long enough time to check out the rest of Darvulia's catalog, but I really look forward to seeing where else they can take this band.
Friday, December 14, 2012
1. Panopticon - Kentucky
2. Germ - Loss
3. Demoncy - Enthroned is the Night
4. the Kill - Make 'em Suffer
5. Nekromantheon - Rise Vulcan Spectre
6. MGLA - With Hearts Towards None
7. Blood of the Black Owl - Light the Fires!
8. Licht Erlischt - ...and Below, the Retrograde Disciples
9. Wodensthrone - Curse
10. Blut Aus Nord - Cosmophy
Alcest - Les Voyages de l'ame
Antediluvian / Adversarial - Split
Ash Borer - Cold of Ages
Asphyx - Deathhammer
Autolatry - Of the Land
Avenger - Bohemian Dark Metal
Bestial Holocaust - Into the Goat Vulva
Borknagar - Urd
Bound by Entrails - the Stars Bode you Farewell
Brulvahnatu - Descending Divine Worth
Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity
Christian Mistress - Possession
Coffins - March of Despair
Deathspell Omega - Drought
Desecresy- the Doom Skeptron
Drapsnatt - Skelepht
Ebonylake - In Swathes of Brooding Light
Elysian Blaze - Blood Geometry
Evoken - Atra Mors
False / Barghest - Heavy as a Church Tower
Genocide Shrines - Devanation Monumentemples
Hell - III
Katatonia - Dead End Kings
Love Sex Machine - s/t
Lunar Aurora - Hoagascht
Morbus Chron - A Saunter through the Shroud
Master's Hammer - Vracejte konve na místo
Moss of Moonlight - Seed
Muknal - Muknal
Mutilation Rites - Empyrean
My Dying Bride - A Map of All Our Failures
Napalm Death - Utilitarian
Nefarious - The Universal Wrath
Revenge - Scum.Collapse.Eradication
Sanguinary Misanthropia - Loathe Over Will
Sear Bliss - Eternal Recurrence
Weapon - Embers and Revelations
Worship - Terranean Wake
Yakuza - Beyul
Things I still need to listen to:
Anglagard - Viljans Oga
Árstíðir Lífsins - Vápna lækjar eldr
Azaghal - Nemesis
Corsair - Corsair
Dammerfarben - Herbstpfad
Elffor -Heriotz Sustraiak
Into Oblivion / Cromlech / Shoor - "Under the banner of the Serpent Sun"
Les Discrets - Ariettes Oubliées
Maveth - Coils of the Black Earth
Rahu - The Quest for the Vajra of Shadows
Svartidaudi - Flesh Cathedral
Urkaos - I
Venus Star - ep / full length
Verge / Charnel Winds - Two Serpents
Vomitor - the Escalation
Winterfylleth - the Threnody of Triumph
Anticipated in 2013 (somewhat speculative):
Swallowed debut full length
Hunter's Moon full length?!?!?
Inquisition (confirmed !)
Incursus (confirmed !)
Sadomator (This band is currently on hold, but Seventh is working on a debut full length for his other band Odgru Jahad)
Paysage d'Hiver - Das Tor (AMAZING!)
Cultes des Ghoules (RULES!)
Pensees Nocturnes (confirmed!)
Manzer "Light of the Wreckers"
Hatespawn "Abyssic conquerors"
Panopticon / Vestiges split (confirmed!)
Drowned - debut LP (confirmed !)
Big time let downs:
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Two years ago I hadn't been to Kentucky, and I hadn't heard Panopticon's album of the same name. Today, the state and the album represent each other boldly in my eyes, and they both have become some very dear things to me. Such has the friendship Austin and I have found this year. I wanted to finally offer my take on this album because I think I offer a unique and closer perspective on the album than most, and maybe what I have to say will help some folks understand it better if they care to listen to it and learn from it.
Panopticon is a very different band than a lot of people are used to. The ever-trodden path of black metal since 1982 has been to portray a guise that you are not. To use emotions and urges to give a theatrical and exaggerated voice to thoughts. To step outside of the human shell and personify metaphorically certain emotions and ideals that seem somehow larger than life. In stark contrast, Austin lets absolutely nothing stand between his music and who he is. When you listen to Panopticon, you are experiencing the pure unadulterated heart and soul that he is offering you. you can take it or leave it. Austin plays black metal and blue grass because that is who he is, and this is how he speaks to you. Austin and others argue that this fact invalidates the label of "black metal" from Panopticon, but I make this comparison sonically, and not politically. Some reviewers have had the gaul to say that the blue grass isn't to their liking and that it should be different or not present at all. Some have even gone as far as saying that the blue grass should sound more like European folk. Or that the metal sections aren't "folky enough", etc. As fucking outlandish as this is, I won't address it specifically. Asking that of any artist is preposterous. Lets be honest folks, we are all grown ups and you wouldn't know about this album if you didn't have the capacity to fully understand Panopticon's effective language of metal and blue grass.
I am proud of my friend Austin for so many reasons but here I should note that Kentucky is an album Austin should be proud of. It speaks vastly of a place he loves and does so in such a heartfelt way that it evades criticism by standing above it in a place where this type of dialogue contains no dishonesty, or insipid cruel humanity.
Kentucky the album successfully acts as a conduit between you and the topics that Austin holds dear enough to write about. Instead of acting as an end all authority upon the topic, it verily tells a story and then asks you confrontingly "Which Side are You On?"
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Without regard to the term's definition I had some poignant thoughts in reaction to its use to label me. If I seek out music that isnt popular, that would mean that I would have to know what is popular, to be able to avoid it. Therefore I would be paying the same attention to popular music as most people are, if not more. So in a way the term accuses me of doing what everyone else does only to portray that I am in fact only interested in everything but that which is popular.
Am I wrong here or what?
Saturday, October 27, 2012
As expected the Iowa two piece utilize a murky, indistinct overall tone and production quality to paint the veil between their performance and your imagination. As a black metal listener I appreciate when this is understood and I often require this quality of a band for me to be drawn into a recording (due to my fervent A.D.D. and tendency to listen to black metal bands that I already know are good.) Producing an unfavorable, "necro", or murky black metal sound hard is enough to even achieve, let alone harness and have it enhance everything about the craft of black metal song. This is Altarnihil's strongest element yet. While all too many bands today have taken a reliance upon this much too far, I still believe that teetering upon this balance is where much of the magic of black metal lies.
I do not feel that Altarnihil rely all too heavily on this quality, but I do see great potential for a more musical direction for the band, mostly in the guitars, but I think some synth would work nicely here as well. There is a staunch and unwavering style to the music, and I think some more evocative riffing is where I look for the band to head. The riffing is simplistic and unmelodic but nothing I could draw comparisons to.
Overall I give this a 7 out of 10. The band was gracious enough to give me a copy of the demo, and gracious enough to offer it to you on their bandcamp page http://altarnihil.bandcamp.com as a pay what you want download. Look for a tape release soon, and I will look forward to future output from one of Iowa's rare black metal bands.
Alternately I thought I'd mention that this entire demo reminds me fondly of the last song "Einsamkeit" from Zorn's 2002 demo "Terror Black Metal" which is just absolutely stunning. Tell you what, heres a download link for that entire demo: DOWNLOAD
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
The personality of the songs on these albums is so refined and honed that to try to find comparable musical influences has always proven difficult for me. Of course a heavy Bathory and Venom element is there in the forcibly driven pace of everything, but the riffing seems to call upon very noodly and cantankerous buzzing kraut rock. At age 22 Nocturno Culto's style of playing repetitive dissonant chords and harmonizing with lead guitars to achieve a memorable, vivid melody is remarkable in its own right.
The production value on this album mirrors the song writing in this sense. At first listen I'm always forced to take a step back to remember how to listen to this album. Its got an obscure, glossed over and murky hiss to it all. At the end of some of the songs you can hear the instruments all brought to silence, and all that is left is the extreme tape hiss that lends so much to the atmosphere. The lack of clarity beckons you to focus your ears upon the droning subtle melody. The more you tune your attention to its permanent barrage of darkness, the more you enter its despicable realm of utter satanic majesty. One of my favorite characteristics of black metal is the interplay of rhythm and lead guitar to achieve complex harmony and melody.
To think that frantic, buzzing, clashing, racket can be so evocative, enigmatic, ethereal and beautiful is a challenging notion. The fervor that these 19 year old Norwegians found use for over the course of three years will never be equaled again. The greatest black metal albums of all time have already been written, fortunately one of them is Transylvanian Hunger.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
So here is Death Grips. I'm impressed by it and I applaud it for it's ingenuity, but I'm still on the fence about the album as a whole.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Midlake - the Courage of Others [ Lush and extremely well written folk. Has a real 70's vibe to it, but far from boring and really really catchy ]
Lugubrum - De Ware Hond / Albino de Congo [ One of my favorite black metal bands, still as original, contorted and relevant as ever ]
Isengard - Høstmorke [ This is a huge classic, always worth singing along to]
Melechesh - Epigenesis [ Headbanging fun for all ]
Merkaba - Bones of the Sacred Forest [ Undeniably powerful and evocative modern black metal, i'll be listening to this for a long time ]
Horn - Naturkraft [ Traditional raw german black metal. Well written from start to finish ]
Yearning - Plaintive Scenes [ I've always liked this band, nothing too ground breaking but an album definitely worth owning ]
M83 - Hurry Up, Were Dreaming [ This give me a raging 80's hard-on. Wonderful album ]
Septic Flesh - Esoptron / Temple of the Lost Race [ I've always been kinda tepid with this band, but i found these releases to be a little more "gorey" than the other more greek romantic sounding stuff ]
Cry of Silence - Wandering Through pagan Times [ THIS is the new Xasthur. Xasthur who? ]
Friday, September 23, 2011
I discovered this band years ago when I was doing some research on the amazing Eucharist. Technically somewhat unrelated because the guitarist of Cromlech only played in Eucharist for a short bit after Mirrorworlds was released in 1997, but the two bands styles can be easily compared. They may not have made much of an impression having never released a single album, but Cromlech leaves behind a handful of absolutely blistering melodic death / black metal songs spread across 5 releases totalling 15 songs. I want you to download them below and listen to them all. If listened to properly they will cause blistering in your groinular region. The performance, creativity, and intensity are unmatched.
DOWNLOAD HERE PLEASE
Friday, September 9, 2011
Performing music on stage for humans is an act. It is a portrayal, a visual and human interaction of the medium whose subject matter and demeanor can often be the exact opposite. It relies on many people and a lot of money to be able to fall into place. The relevance of the audience when creating music pales to that when speaking about performing music on stage.
Would you really want to see Deathspell Omega's "Paracletus" album performed on stage? I for one like the album so much that I would hate to subject the music to such potential scrutiny. Would you want to listen to early Mortiis or any of Arcana's discography on stage? If you can find a reason to say no, then so can any artist.
Friday, August 5, 2011
I was talking about how I wanted to achieve optimum audio quality with a music project I'm working on, and I presented my goals to him. I feel like my goals were somewhat rendered irrelevant by what he then said. The audial fidelity of any recording (actually EVERY recording) is entirely subject to representation that it is being given; ie listening to it on a burned CD on a small stereo, listening to it on vinyl with nice speakers, or streaming it online with a pair of ear buds. No matter what the recording sounded like when it was created, it will invariably sound very different with every other listener's listening configuration and setup. Therefore this lend a lot of validity to the idea of performing music live, and listening to it in person as the artist intended it to be heard.
So the idea that every person hears every album differently, and largely different from the artist has had me in a lot of ponderous moods this week.
Thanks for reading.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
After reading Chris Grigg's open letter to Liturgy's Hunter Hendrix, I was compelled to give Liturgy's album an honest listen. All politics aside, there is probably some music here and I'm compelled to listen to it and reflect upon it, mostly because I'm really bored.
Though I encourage an open minded approach to black metal, several upheld traditions make the genre a very reliable and enjoyable style to many of us. When a less thrash oriented, more atmospheric type of band attempts to build some sort of tangible emotive atmosphere, production value lends a lot of credibility to the overall communication of said atmosphere. Regardless of whatever intentions this band has with their style of music, the recording quality and overall fidelity is shit. It sounds like a bad mastering job pressed to vinyl then played through my mother's "vintage looking" wooden record player that she got at K-Mart. The guitars are annoyingly hard panned and tinny, buzzing and unpleasant. Zero cymbals are heard and all Im getting out of the drummer is constant blastbeats that make me want to go to sleep. If you pay close attention there is a monotonous bass tone that isn't really offering anything musical to the album. Oh and the vocals, well I almost forgot about the vocals. I guess they sound ok. Take all of that and unnecessarily compress the hell out of it all out of habit and you have what this album sounds like. Its probably what our parents all think black metal sounds like only this really sucks to listen to. Its seriously taxing on the ears. Maybe that's what they were going for, who knows?
I'm going to give Liturgy a hell of a lot of credit here and go with the assumption that they have engineered an entirely new mode of chaotic black metal in that all musical idealism has been shed. Liturgy have said "Fuck melody, fuck composition, fuck any goal of making memorable music having character, personality, structure or originality. Lets just take all the sonic qualities of black metal and do whatever we can get away with." Renihilation is the musical equivalent of clicking on an internet advertisement promising you a 55" HD television only to come up with a trojan horse that infects your computer with shitty fucking music. So in that respect...sure, the album is really chaotic and has all sorts of "not good" floating around just meandering, stumbling, tumbling and crashing into a picnic table like a drunk bum.
You know how sometimes bands will play a really powerful song (usually in the live setting at the end of a set) and then outro with that syncopated slowing down type of thing? I could be wrong but I believe its called "trash cans." You'd know what I mean if you heard it. Anyways this whole album feels like that, only I guess it sorta sounds like black metal. I honestly hope not a single human being lets this album at all represent the black metal genre to them.
I want my 40 minutes back :-(