Sunday, September 29, 2013

Årabrot: Årabrot (2013)

Finally Getting It

I’ve tried several times to figure out the appeal of Norwegian noise rockers Årabrot. There was obviously something there, but it eluded me. And so, without forming an opinion, I avoided saying anything about them. Of course, as soon as I did say something dismissive about them, I got my hands on their self-titled album.

Soon, I found myself singing choruses like, “I’m throwing rocks at the devil” long after I turned the music off. I found myself attempting the drum pattern from the opening track with pen on desk, and humming its vocal melody. Årabrot was just getting under my skin and growing there.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Oranssi Pazuzu: Valonielu (2013)


It’s not very often that I get a promo and listen to it immediately. Usually I download a few, add them to my library, put them on the old iPod, and listen later. Usually there’s a 2-3 day lag. Not for Valonielu. I couldn’t hit “play” fast enough.

I’ve been following this curious psychedelic black metal band from the beginning. Debut Muukalainen Puhuu (2009) was a rather clumsy synthesis by the Finns. It came off as an interesting album from a gimmick band, but lacked a very strong gimmick. The evolution shown on Kosmonument (2011) was astounding. I placed that intimate exploration of pain and fear at number 5 for the year. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to hear where they would take it from there, and Valonielu does not disappoint.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Death Metal Briefs: Reanimations of 2013


In the music industry, death is not always final, especially when a reissue or compilation is such a low-risk endeavor for any label that needs to make a few bucks to keep the lights on. Here are three such releases that you may not have noticed.

Pathogen: Miscreants of Bloodlusting Aberrations (2010)
3 out of 5 stars

Pathogen are out of the Philippines, and their 2010 album was reissued this year by Dunkelheit for some reason. While it's quite competent, I can't think of a more run-of-the-mill death metal album than this one. It is almost purely Floridian death metal as it existed 20 years ago (mostly Morbid Angel), with no distinguishable features worth mentioning. Undoubtedly they are a cool live band, and they're no strangers to the whammy bar, but there are more interesting death metal albums released every week.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Metal Briefs: Clearing the Docket #3


There are a whole lot of records that have been sitting on my iPod for far too long now. It's time to clear the docket.

Ranger: Knights of Darkness (2013)
4 out of 5 stars

Ranger's Knights of Darkness will cause spontaneous horn-throwing. I'm not kidding. This is catchy speed metal, played with enthusiasm (a necessity) and competence (a nice touch), with loads of short solos and more than a few falsetto screams. If Venom could play their instruments back in 1982, they might have sounded like this.

Monday, September 23, 2013


I had a great conversation with my first grader son while working on his homework. 

Lincoln: "How do you spell 'of.' Is it 'O V'?" 
Me, without missing a beat, "Only if you're a Polish death metal band."

Friday, September 20, 2013

More Entrails, Please

I wanted to draw your attention to "A Very Dirty Lens: How Can We Listen to Offensive Metal." It's a very long article, but I've summed up what I take to be the most important parts.

I've written fairly extensively on the topic in the past, and, to pull a quote out of this one that describes me as a hypothetical person:

"They might argue that it doesn’t matter when you can’t decipher the lyrics anyway… it’s simply about the stirring sounds. Putting aside the contentious to enjoy the transcendence from the mundane that black metal provides is a stance taken by many, but it’s also a position that others would see as weak, and there’s an entire red and anarchist black metal scene backing that view."

The article quotes some academic as saying that even INSTRUMENTAL music is political if the artist has said that an idea inspired it. That should be laughable, and it ignores the entire history of art criticism, which holds that once a work is created, it's no longer controlled by the artist. But the article seems to agree, and take the stance that simply by doing anything in the world you are doing something political.

The article also claims that it's contradictory to support freedom of speech while also claiming that politics doesn't matter. How did that get past the editor? That's nonsense, on its face.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pesanta Urfolk Briefs

Condolences, and Celebration

I recently mentioned that the strange mix of music that Pesanta Urfolk chooses to focus on--obscure metal, dark Americana, and neofolk--intrigues me a whole lot. So I thought I'd explore a whole lot more of what they have to offer.

As a side note, it seems the label head's mother recently died. I'd like to extend my condolences. She was quite young, which only makes it harder.

Munly & The Lee Lewis Harlots: Munly & The Lee Lewis Harlots (2004)
4 out of 5 stars

I previously expressed an interest in hearing Munly & The Lee Lewis Harlots, and this reissue by Pesanta Urfolk provides an excellent opportunity. This blends 16 Horsepower's rock-influenced old-time Americana with Nick Cave's unhinged genre-bending narratives. There's plenty of strings, guitar, and enough banjo, plus female backing vocals. The folk and country are joined not just by their familiar gospel music ("The Leavening of the Spit-Bread Girls") but also by relatively modern, mid-century styles ("Of Silas Fauntleroy's Willingness . . .") Being genuinely different, engaging, varied, dark, light, and entertaining, it's one of those rare 78-minute albums that works.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Reconsideration: Atlantean Kodex: The White Goddess (2013)

Schizophrenia and Gross Misconduct

It seems joanismylover had reviewer's remorse over his ill treatment of Atlantean Kodex. Now it looks like I'm the only one who doesn't like them.

“A real man is not the one who has a lot of women, it's the one who has one and knows how to treat his right!”* by Naughty Nishan

I found the above quote searching the internets for an appropriate quote to bow down before Atlantean Kodex. Joan is my lover. That moniker would suggest I have a lot of women. I don’t! I’m married! I have one and I hope I treat her right! I don’t know how but a funny thing happened after I submitted my White Goddess “unreview,” citing to the Powerwolf rule. This caused me to rethink the review and this order granting a motion for reconsideration follows.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Ruins of Beverast: Blood Vaults - The Blazing Gospel of Heinrich Kramer (2013)

Cryptae Sanguinum - Evangelium Flagrans Henrici Institoris

The Ruins of Beverast is one of those bands with a fanatical cult following, whose fans are intimately familiar with every release and the band’s evolution, and who are willing to shell out extra money for an elaborate physical release. Since I’ve never heard the band before, fans of the group should ignore this review. You are not the intended audience. Conversely, if you’re not already an uber-fan, then the uber-fans’ reviews are completely useless to you. So that’s where this comes in.

Between the type of fans they have and the incredibly long-winded title, you can make two perfectly reasonable guesses about this, all of which would be true. One, the songs are really long, and the album is really fucking long. Two, there is plenty of artistic merit to the work, but not enough to warrant the overall length. But it just might be worth trudging a little bit further into this record, considering how good it really is.

Walking for Aaron

I originally intended to post a review tonight, but I wanted to say some other things.

You may notice the time I'm posting this is a bit later than usual. I discussed a while ago that I needed to be better about sleep, and for the most part I have been successful. I had been getting to bed by 12:30 almost every night. Whether or not that made any difference, I was able to donate blood recently. The last week has been a little bit tougher.

Tonight I will get to sleep about an hour later. That doesn't sound like a lot, but when you're already talking about less than 6 hours of sleep, it's significant.

So, why the lack of sleep? I realized that it has been a year since I've seen my brother. Not long after that realization--earlier today, in fact--we were at an Out of the Darkness walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It was good to see just how many people showed up for this (there were certainly more than 1,000), but I was troubled that the walk didn't leave the park area, to actually bring it out of the darkness and make people notice it. While sometimes awareness is just about making people feel better and trying to get donations, in this instance, awareness is the most important goal.

So all this thinking about my brother has interfered with my sleep pattern. Again. I will get a handle on it again. And struggle again. And get it under control again. That will be the way of it for me.

I guess, the take-away is what you need.

One, sorry I'm not posting a review right now.

Two, suicide fucking happens; so keep that in the back of your mind when dealing with your loved ones, so maybe you can see the threat and do something to stop it.

Three, if you've ever thought about committing suicide, know that there are a lot of people that would affect. And yes, they do care.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Thank You, Michael Westen

I deleted my number 1 priority DVR timer tonight.

I had been watching Burn Notice for the last three years, since a little while after I broke down and got satellite TV. I don't think it was really that great a show. The acting wasn't great (it did have Bruce Campbell in a central role), and if you thought about the plot too critically some of it just seemed a little too implausible. But it's entertained me a great deal. It had everything a show like this needs, with likable characters, plenty of twists, and lots of cheesy humor. I also found the main character's relationship with his mother to be extremely touching and powerful. The actress playing his mother won an Emmy for the role.

After jumping in mid-stream, I went back and watched every episode. The series ended earlier tonight, and they did a fantastic job of taking it there. After years of coming closer and closer to the truth of a conspiracy, finally facing it, they could only engage the possibility of becoming their own enemies. There was nowhere else for the series to go without taking it down the crapper, which thankfully they never did--even after seven seasons.

I'm going to ignore the minor plot hole that doesn't explain how the last scene ended up with all three of the characters who were there, instead of just the two, because I really loved the show.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Sterling Sisters: Hale (2012)

Raised in the West . . . or Baltimore

Pesanta Urfolk may be one of my favorite labels at the moment. Not only did they release the incredible Lux Interna album this year, which takes a Neurosis approach to Americana, their whole deal may be to do exactly what interests me right now: Straddling the worlds of metal and dark folk. I’ll just make a note to myself to do more research on them later. For now, The Sterling Sisters are what’s important.

The Sterling Sisters play in the old-timey folk/country meets rock and roll style pioneered by 16 Horsepower and other Denver bands. The modern drumming, bass, and the occasional distortion give the sound the update to make it palatable to a modern audience. That’s old news. But here’s the new part. This young band has fully taken advantage of what the Internet has to provide aspiring musicians, putting everything out on Bandcamp and running a Kickstarter to fund their tour. Their debut full-length, Hale, was given a limited release last New Year’s and is now being given a proper issue by Pesanta Urfolk.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Azure Emote: The Gravity of Impermanence (2013)

What the Hell am I Listening To?

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

What a weird album. I am not even really sure how to classify this band. I suppose the best way would be to compare them to a group like Hollenthon, Septicflesh, Sigh, or the oddball projects of Dan Swanö. In other words, they seem to have influences from a wide variety of metal styles, such as black, death, and industrial. Never has the term avant-garde been more fitting than when listening to this album from Azure Emote.

This is Azure Emote's second album and it has gained them a fair amount of interest. I have been in a little bit of a metal black hole in the last few months due to an extremely busy work schedule and even I have heard some hype about this release. Azure Emote is the new band of former Monstrosity frontman Mike Hrubovcak. But it definitely does not follow in the footsteps of Monstrosity. Monstrosity was a fairly paint-by-numbers death metal band. As previously stated, this is anything but formulaic. The songs do not follow any traditional song structure and the music is widely varied, crushing and intense one minute, slow and dissonant the next, and allows with a number of sonic surprises.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

SubRosa: More Constant Than the Gods (2013)


When I got the link to download SubRosa’s More Constant Than the Gods, my heart fluttered in my chest. That should tell you how I feel about this band, whose last release was my album of the year in 2011.

They haven’t significantly changed their sound in the last two years. They’re still heavier than anyone else out there, except perhaps Electric Wizard. That’s key. Beyond that, it’s tough to sum up their sound into any kind of compact formula. They’re entirely unique. Slow, mellow, and smooth most of the time, with soulful vocals. But they understand dynamism quite well, shifting to quieter, louder, faster, slower, more intense and violent as the mood requires. The folksy, off-key female singing is the Platonic ideal that Chino Moreno strives for.

The music has such gravity of soul that it can nearly suck your soul into itself.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Atlantean Kodex: The White Goddess (2013)

Refuge Denied

I requested that joanismylover NOT read my review of Atlantean Kodex's previous album before writing this. It didn't seem to make a difference.

This brief statement is to note that Atlantean Kodex's application to be included in the metal reviews on Full Metal Attorney ("FMA") is denied. The band and its "White Goddess" release fall within the Powerwolf Rule and thus do not merit a full review or a rating. See; August 13, 2013.

The metal court does take note of some metal tendencies regarding the album, including its theme and indeed, in a small portion of its music. The concept album however, has been applied to other genres, and while the metal court appreciates song titles with "Fire" "Giant" and "Sword" in them, it does not recognize (or at least appreciate) the overly long nature of said titles and the inclusion of the word "Flaming" in any of them. The metal court also appreciates the use of a tolling bell in one of the songs, and Churchill quotes, but is confused by said quotes in light of the supernatural theme apparently being presented. The metal court notes some heft and doom metal vestiges but they come too infrequently and with too little force to be given a full blown acknowledgement.

Application denied.

No rating per application of the Powerwolf Rule.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Altars: Paramnesia (2013) - Second Review

Australian Avant-Death Explained Scientifically

I asked joanismylover if he wanted to review the same record as I was reviewing, and see how different our reviews turned out. So, let's just say this my review of the CD Paramnesia, released on Nuclear Winter, even though we both just got a digital version.

To say that a band “kind of sounds like Portal” is usually just a cop-out way of saying “they play some twisted, mutant form of death metal.” I’ve said that bands sound like Portal before. More often, I’ve pointed out that it is, usually, a cop-out to say that. Usually!

Altars, on the other hand, actually sound like Portal. Well, not all the time, but much of the time. Being fellow Australians, they’re exposed to similar levels of Cthulhu’s farts. Scientists are just now beginning to understand the symptoms of exposure to Great Old Flatulence: Riffs that swirl around the wrong way, ending unnaturally, sounding just a little like black metal throwing up all over itself. In case you couldn’t already tell, that’s a good thing.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Altars: Paramnesia (2013) - First Review

Circuit Split

I asked joanismylover if he wanted to review the same record as I was reviewing, and see how different our reviews turned out. So, let's just say this is his review of the vinyl Paramnesia, released on Blood Harvest, even though we both just got a digital version. My review will be posted in a few hours.

Is this death metal or black metal? According to the promo materials this is straight up death metal but I hear me some black metals in there, both in the music and the vocals. Whether you want to run out and buy this will depend on your tolerance mixed genre music and your preference among the two.

The songs on Paramnesia fall into the punishing category, and at times they drop into a swagger or head snapping hypnosis reminscent of old school death metal lurches. But while the structure of the OSDM pervades, the sound does not. Black metal blasting and distortion pepper the fringes of these songs. The opener "Mare" is a great example of this. It's not until the next song "Terse" that OSDM influences become obvious but the framework is nonetheless distorted, given the brief duration of that song (under 2 minutes). The sound is not unlike Abyssal but without that band's all in commitment to crushing the listener. Death metal bands are at times too focused on playing the shit out their instruments instead of pummeling the shit out of their listeners.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Välikäsi v. Come



Anyone who knows punk music well would probably find this matchup untenable. Philadelphia's Psychic Teens have nothing at all to do with Finland's Sokea Piste (I believe their name means piss-soaked). But I know so little about punk that this is perfect.

First, Sokea Piste. Välikäsi has been sitting on my iPod since March, and I've listened to it occasionally several times since then, each time coming away with almost nothing to say about it. I just don't know how to talk about punk music. It's catchy hardcore, with a raw production. It has some gang vocals, but not to an offensive degree. It also has a psychedelic side, and just a hint of deathrock (note the title track). It's good stuff, and much more intelligent than the tough-guy stuff that I know is an unfair stereotype of the genre.