Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sigh: Graveward (2015)

Sigh would most likely be the craziest thing to come out of their own country, if they were from anywhere other than Japan. But as the popular wisdom has it, Japan is home to some crazy pop culture. Now, it’s been my experience that crazy Japanese pop culture stuff is mostly terrible, and occasionally brilliant. Sigh has been mostly brilliant. I mean, their last album was just one example of a brilliant masterpiece. At their worst, they’re just pretty good.

Graveward isn’t one of their best albums. It’s not one of their worst, either. Over the course of their long and storied career, the Japanese masterminds have honed their craft to a level that they’re simply not capable of putting out weak material.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Solefald: World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud (2015)

Why the hell isn’t anyone in America talking about Solefald? Their full-length Norrøn Livskunst was the most criminally underrated album of 2010, and now they’ve got a new full-length, and once again nobody is talking about this brilliant duo.

World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud is unmistakably the work of this avant-garde Viking metal oddity. It’s got catchy riffs, both high-speed black metal style and slower stomps. It’s got growled and sung vocals, with infectious melodies. And then, it’s got everything else thrown in to make it insane.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Dwell: Vermin and Ashes (2015)

I have to confess that I’m more inclined to check out bands from Denmark than bands from anywhere else. (LLTK, for those in the know.) Dwell is one such band who caught my attention for just that reason.

They’re billed as a death/doom band, but I think you’d find it difficult to pick up any death metal in this at all. The vocals might fit that mold, but the rest does not. The first song sounds like a less sophisticated Agalloch, from the slow progression of chords to the clean guitar interlude. It’s followed by a five minute ambient track, which is a hell of a downer way to kick off an album. Don’t worry. It gets better.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Hands of Orlac: Figli Del Crepuscolo (2014)

"You're All the Same, The Lot of You"

Review by joanismylover, the third metal attorney.

I had the distinct pleasure on Monday (April 20) to see Electric Wizard in Santa Ana, California. This is a band so steeped in doom and B movie horror films that it feels like they invented the melding of the two. They probably did. Emphasizing their prominence in this doom meets 70s horror genre, Satan's Satyrs opened. If that band's name didn't give it away, their biker metal with EW fuzzed tone did. Horror stoner doom. (Totally unrelated - In the interlude EW has the balls to play both Slayer ("Hell Awaits") and Celtic Frost ("Procreation of the Wicked"). I was head banging at the bar to Celtic Frost before EW took the stage because that riff is sooooo amazing. Talk about confidence). EW tore the house down. Everything you'd expect and want: a bottom end cavalcade of riffs TOO BIG to handle and a montage of all that x-rated 70s eurotrash satanic movie clips in the background. It was awesome. But what of Hands of Orlac?

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Royal Thunder: Crooked Doors (2015)

Remember when Relapse only released metal albums? That was weird, huh?

Crooked Doors is the second album from Georgia hard rockers Royal Thunder. The style hasn’t changed much—bluesy rock and roll with a female vocalist oozing swagger and soul. But I hear a lot less doom influence this time around, and a few more radio-friendly elements (even some 90’s R&B) that are a little surprising. But just like CVI, it’s starts strong right out of the gate.

They bring the hooks with tunes like “Time Machine,” “Floor,” “The Line,” and “Glow.” Mlny Parsonz has a sultry, powerful voice, and she lays it all out there for you, to great effect. No surprises there, honestly. We already knew this was a good band, and they could do this.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Sketches

Here are some sketches I've done recently. One is concept art for a book I'm making for my son's fourth birthday. The others are for a placard for my neighbor's weight room, where I've been lifting a couple times a week. 



Friday, April 24, 2015

Wino & Conny Ochs: Freedom Conspiracy (2015)

The legendary Wino has been working with German guitarist/singer Conny Ochs for a while now. It started out a little shaky, as they didn’t seem to know how to use their very different voices in a coherent way. It seemed like the only thing tying them together was a similar vision and perhaps friendship, not complementary qualities. But now, on their third collaboration, they’ve really got this thing figured out.

Freedom Conspiracy is just the kind of dark Americana, singer-songwriter material you’d expect if the album cover is a black-and-white drawing of a guillotine, arranged so that you are looking at it from the same angle as its victim. Now, lay your head down right there, above the basket, and listen.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Domovoyd: Domovoyd (2015)

The last time I mentioned Finland’s Domovoyd (based on their 2011 EP), I said they were basically Electric Wizard knockoffs. Today, there’s no way I can say that.

Domovoyd has come up alongside Oranssi Pazuzu in forming a small revolution in Finnish psychedelic metal. In both cases, the elements are familiar, but blended in a new way. But where Oranssi Pazuzu started with black metal, Domovoyd started with doom. And you might be thinking, well, doom and psychedelia aren’t exactly strangers. But I think you haven’t heard anything quite like this.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Goatloard: Demo '87 / Reh. '88 and Sodomize the Goat (1988)

Caprine Rectal Copulation

It's amazing just how many completely unknown bands have been lost to history, only to be exhumed by those dedicated to revealing these lost treasures. Of course, some of them should have stayed buried. Which one is Goatlord?

First, I've gotta say how much I enjoy the crudely-drawn album art for these two records. They look like they were sketched during third-period social studies class by the eighth grade boy that none of the girls want to talk to. But I don't think that dude's sodomizing that goat, as the title suggests. Based on the angle it looks more like he's performing the more traditional form of beastiality.

I think by now you should know whether you want to read the rest of this review. Ask yourself: Are you the kind of person who wants to listen to an album with a crudely-drawn image of beastiality on the cover? (If you're reading my blog, I assume your answer is "yes.")

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dark Wave Briefs

"Full Metal" . . . right . . .

It seems these days I'm circling further and further afield of metal or even anything remotely associated with it.

In wrapping my head around the brilliant work of Chelsea Wolfe, I've begun listening to an iTunes Radio station based on her. It is one of the most remarkably eclectic stations I've ever heard, playing Nails as well as some clearly hipster-oriented dreck. But one thread that I've enjoyed out of it is the dark, synth-based stuff. If you've been paying any attention to this blog over the years, you would have noticed by now that I love the dark synth elements of the likes of Killing Joke and Theatre of Tragedy. So this, one more departure from metal, should not surprise you. I'm using the term "dark wave" because I've seen it in reference to bands like this, although I couldn't tell you how accurate that label is in any given case.

Austra: Feel It Break (2011)
4 out of 5 stars


My wife told me she had heard one of the songs by Austra somewhere, and she only partakes of the most mainstream of media. I figure it was either on an Apple commercial or a movie soundtrack somewhere. So maybe I lose all credibility by mentioning this, but I really enjoy it. Other genre names attached to this include synthpop and dreampop, so take that for what it's worth. A few of the songs have a brighter sound, but even at its brightest there's an undercurrent of darkness. And the "heavier" synth parts on tracks like "Darken Her Horse" and "The Beat and the Pulse" are pure joy for me. "The Villain" or "The Noise" could be Chelsea Wolfe tracks, although you won't find any guitars here. The female vocalist also employs a vaguely folksy style, akin in a way to many female-fronted doom bands.