Thursday, July 31, 2014

Palms v. Crosses

Son of Deftones Versus Mecha Deftones


There’s a story that the Cash family sent young Johnny to singing lessons. But upon hearing him for the first time, she told him to stop taking the lessons because his way was better.

I like to imagine the same thing could have happened to Chino Moreno. He’s definitely not singing the “right” way, but his way is so much better. It’s held me rapt for the better part of two decades. And more than that, he (and his bandmates) have grown and matured at roughly the same rate as my taste since my teenage years. It’s hard to imagine the Deftones were initially panned as a Korn clone, when today they’re more like an electro-Neurosis.

So you know where I’m coming from on the subject of Chino, as I discuss his most recent output—the self-titled debut albums from side projects Palms and Crosses.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Autumn's Dawn: Gone (2014)


Germ is an incredibly weird band that I’ve mentioned once or twice before in these pages. Inhabiting uncharted territory near the border of black metal, it’s one of those projects that endlessly fascinates me. The unmistakable singing voice of drummer/vocalist Sorrow is present in one more sort-of-black-metal band, Autumn’s Dawn.

There is a lot of similarity between the two projects. Germ seems to combine synth-pop and 80’s action-film soundtrack music with some of the most bloodcurdling black metal around. Autumn’s Dawn is based on the same principle, but takes a less extreme approach. It starts with some of the mellower post-black metal and meshes it with gothic rock and a few other ingredients. Either way, it’s all about making black metal catchy using familiar ingredients.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Metal Briefs: Doom EPs

At the Graves at Sea

Where my doom at? There seems to be a drought of doom as of late. Perhaps it’s at the graves, which may be at sea. But a few short players have found their way into my hands.

Graves at Sea: This Place Is Poison (2014)
4 out of 5 stars

I've got to admit, I'm a sucker for Black Sabbath covers. This EP by Graves at Sea features an original tune that showcases their brand of sludge/doom with acidic, croaking vocals. But for me, it's an unrecognizable version of "Orchid" and a slower, more hostile "Lord of This World" that really grab my attention.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kult of Taurus: Divination Labyrinths (2014)

Hellenic Aggression

Review by Metallattorney. He is the law.

Without a doubt, one of my favorite black metal scenes of all time is the Hellenic scene. Groups like Rotting Christ, Varathron, Ravencult, Thou Art Lord, and others bring a unique melodicism to an otherwise bleak and miserable sound. The bands have a unique style all to themselves and it is a sound that other regional scenes simply do not possess. Kult of Taurus is another of these bands and has been around since just 2007.

The album begins in fairly typical fashion with a largely ambient track. There is some voiceover discussing the nature of mankind that probably comes from some horror movie or other, which lends a nice creepy vibe to kick things off. From there, we are off to the races with the kind of dark riffing this breed of black metal is known for. Musically, Kult of Taurus is probably most similar to Melechesh. There is a strong Middle-Eastern element to the band's sound, though Kult of Taurus do not use the constantly repetitive riff structure that Melechesh uses to great effect. The structure of the songs is very progressive as well, leading to room for experimentation.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Principality of Hell: Fire & Brimstone (2014)

Back Patch Territory

I’m just guessing that if you went to see Principality of Hell, you’d probably see a lot of dudes with back patches in the crowd. Call it a hunch, but this is just the kind of bread-and-butter tr00/kvlt/underground metal that I associate with cut-off denim vests. Debut Fire & Brimstone is coming out August 18 on W.T.C. Productions.

There’s simply nothing new here, but there’s not supposed to be. But it does happen to represent a list of all the things considered most cred-worthy in 80’s metal, so let’s go down the list and check off a few boxes.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dark Americana Briefs, Volume 16

Kristian Harting: Float (2014)
4 out of 5 stars

I wasn't quite sure whether to include this as a dark Americana entry, because there's very little Americana in it. But in spirit, Kristian Harting is much the European equivalent. Aside from acoustic guitar and his wonderful voice, he also uses echo effects, synths, and some distorted electric guitar to create a blend that's as much Hexvessel 60's psych-folk as it is dark singer-songwriter. And it's quite catchy, too.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Death Metal Briefs: 2014

Death: There's Enough to Go Around

Death metal came back in 2013, and it's still going strong in 2014. But I've been favoring the Profound Lore releases so far, and it's time to spread some love around.

Unaussprechlichen Kulten: Baphoment Pan Shub-Niggurath
4 out of 5 stars

The expansively-named Unaussprechlichen Kulten (Chilean, not German) play exactly the kind of death metal that generates underground buzz. It's got Incantation atmosphere, but with actual riffs that you can pick out with ease, and everything's twisted just a little bit off-kilter in the way of many Lovecraft-obsessed death metal bands. But more importantly, they are doing this shit at a very high level, and with a whole lot of dynamic shifts. It's absolutely worth your money--so much that I'm going to forgive the fact the promo is in two files ("Side A" and "Side B") instead of a separate track for each song.

Unfortunately, I can't find a sample of the new record to share, so this older tune will have to do until you can pick it up through Iron Bonehead.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wolvhammer: Clawing into Black Sun (2014)

Better Than Tombs

I listened to 2011's The Obsidian Plains. I even reviewed it. Back then, there were a handful of bands making this novel combination of black metal and sludge metal with varying degrees of hardcore influence: Castevet, Tombs, Withered, and Wolvhammer all released albums that garnered a lot of attention in a relatively short period of time. And they competed for space in my brain, with Wolvhammer being the one that unfortunately fell out some hole in my head. I had to go back and re-familiarize myself with them.

Now we're experiencing a new cycle with those same bands releasing their follow-up albums in a relatively short period of time (except Withered). This time around,Castevet took a left turn with mixed results and Tombs stayed the course for diminishing returns. Wolvhammer takes the crown of victory this cycle.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Auroch: Taman Shud (2014)

Death Metal: Not Like Legos

Auroch really get it. Death metal has gone through a lot of phases in its 25 plus years of existence, but all of the trends--be they melodic, technical, modern or otherwise--have missed one very important point. Death metal is supposed to be repulsive. It's not enough to be more technical or more br00tal than anyone else. Even the majority of the old-school death metal revival have missed this subtle point, but Auroch are one band that really gets it.

So, it's probably fair to call them an OSDM band, like I did a couple of years back. But they're better than that tag alone suggests.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Mastodon: Once More 'round the Sun (2014)

The World's Greatest Metal Band, Once Again

Mastodon is, right now, the world's greatest metal band. You might not agree with that statement, but you can't make a stronger case for anyone else. The glory days of Metallica, Black Sabbath, and even Slayer and Iron Maiden are long behind them. Opeth might not even be a metal band anymore. No other upstarts even come close. Granted, a few of you out there don't quite understand what the appeal is, but then I suppose there were a few who didn't understand the appeal of Master of Puppets in its day.

Just in case you can't tell where I stand, I'll say this little bit: "Colony of Birchmen" and "Curl of the Burl" are my two favorite songs of the 21st century, and I state that without hesitation.

The band's latest, Once More 'round the Sun, is another worthy edition in their catalog. The main reason for that is the band's longstanding secret to success, excellent songwriting and excellent performances. Shh! Don't let the secret out, or everyone will start doing it.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Agalloch at The Waiting Room Lounge

Omaha, July 7, 2014

Agalloch played The Waiting Room Lounge in Omaha last night, and I had the distinct pleasure to attend. The short answer is, it was worth the two-and-a-half-hour round trip to see them. I also managed to take a decent live video (embed at the end of the post).

This was my first time at this venue, and I was impressed with the layout. There was a separate area for the merch table, and plenty of room to see the band, with high visibility. The sound was great as well.

I missed local openers Ezra, but if you're interested in their act you can read about it here. As I arrived, Thrones was playing. I was a little surprised to find a band on the bill that I'd never heard of, until I discovered it was a one-man ambient/electronic act. I use those terms loosely, because this was some heavy, intense music, and was far from boring. It didn't blow the crowd away; it did get some appreciative hoots, but I also overheard someone calling it "shit."

This might be a good time to talk about the crowd. There were about 75 people in attendance. Only a couple didn't fit the expected stereotypes--a guy in plaid and another just dressed as a regular dude--while the rest wore almost exclusively black T-shirts. The shirts I saw were all the big names of black metal, plus a few oddballs like Braindrill and Between the Buried and Me. The crowd was definitely into Agalloch's set.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Nux Vomica: Nux Vomica (2014)

Working for It

It’s pretty easy to write a review when the music fits into some clearly-defined box. Nux Vomica actually made me work. You wonderful bastards.

So, this record is definitely a slow burner. That’s another reason I had to work so hard to wrap my head around it. It’s moody, acidic, blistering and beautiful. There are some punk sounds in the vein of Amebix when they speed up, but that’s not what they’re doing most of the time. Indeed, when I think “punk” I don’t think of an album with three songs ranging from 12 to 20 minutes. If it’s crust, it’s the doom-crust of Embers, fit more for metalheads than that other crowd.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Kvlt Black Metal Briefs


Not long ago I told you that I went on a binge of listening to totally untrue music. When that happens, I typically have to balance myself out with the opposite, or I never feel right. Incidentally, I didn't plan to give them all the same score.

Chasma: Codex Constellatia (2013)
3.5 out of 5 stars

Since they're from Portland I don't think Chasma will be too offended when I tell you they sound a lot like Deafheaven's first record. It's post-black metal, but a bit heavier and angrier than Roads to Judah, and quite worth your time if you haven't dismissed them outright based on this description.