Last year, a mysterious new Black Metal band emerged from the west coast of the United States. Little is known about Obolus, they appeared seemingly out of nowhere with a formidable demo (one of CVLT Nation’s top 6 of 2011). The demo spanned two songs of raw, emotional and brutally honest depressive black metal. At just seven and a half minutes, the demo was just barely a glimpse into a swirling dark realm that left listers yearning for more. Obolus have recorded a follow up to the demo, a five song EP called ‘Lament.’ CVLT Nation are proud to give you a sneak peek at the new EP by exclusively streaming the lead track “Desolation.” This track provides moody tremolo picked riffs, hateful blasts and vocals choked with despair; everything that made the demo such a commanding listen. “Desolation’ is just a glimpse of the descent into regret and self loathing that is the ‘Lament EP.’ Stream the track below and keep an ear out for the new EP. In the meantime you can stream/download the demo here, which will see a cassette release on Merz Tapes later this year.
#6 Fell Voices at Eli’s Mile High Club
I was able to see Fell Voices and Ash Borer three times during their time in the Bay, but their appearance in Oakland was particularly special. The lineup consisted of Oakland funeral doom band Lycus, San Francisco blackened noise trio Sutekh Hexen, Oregon doom band Hell made their California debut, and Velnias from Colorado played by candle light. The combination of a diverse lineup, good friends and a solid turnout helped make this one of the best shows of the year.
Read the rest of the list and find out who’s number one after the jump.
It’s fitting that Atriarch did one last short tour before the year is over. It was almost like a victory lap for the band as they have been collecting accolades and making tons of year end best of lists (including a spot here on CVLT Nation). This was my third time seeing Atriarch, and I’m never anything but completely in awe of their live performance. I always feel like I’m intruding on a deeply private ritual as I watch them. The lights dim and the scent of burned sage clings to the air. Vocalist Lenny writhes as he screams while bassist Nick nods hypnotically to his rumbling dirge-ridden bass lines. Brooks’ guitar cuts through the thick bass tone like a knife, while Maxamillion holds the songs together with forceful drumming. Their recordings are more ethereal, but their live show is nothing short of primal. Check out the stills from their San Francisco stop below. See a full black and white gallery of Atriarch after the jump.
I’ve written a fair amount about Chelsea Wolfe on CVLT Nation in times past, so this time I want to let the imagery of her live show do the talking. Chelsea Wolfe played Bottom Of The Hill in San Francisco Sunday night with Black Heart Procession, and these are the photos I captured. See full gallery after the jump.
This November, three heavyweights in the world of sludge embarked on a tour together that brought the threat of seismic activity from city to city. Brooklyn’s Batillus, Chicago’s The Atlas Moth and San Francisco’s Kowloon Walled City teamed up to bring their down-tuned riffery across the nation. This was an ideal tour for music fans that prefer lower frequencies combined with crushing tones. By the time the tour approached San Francisco, Batillus had split off, so I saw them separately at Elbo Room and then KWC and TAM two days later at Hemlock Tavern.
Batillus released an album called Furnace this year on Seventh Rule records. The album is a cold, crushing exercise in claustrophobia and despair. Furnace is the soundtrack to 12 hours of forced labor during the industrial revolution. Sludge, doom, and the perfect amount of Godflesh makes Batillus a formidable live band. The bass cuts through just as clear as the guitar as the drums pound and snap all the while vocalist Fade releases his tortured screams. He also makes timely use of synths to create a further distorted soundscape.
Read the rest of this review and check out a full gallery after the jump.
Pyramids frontman R. Loren has already proved that he plays well with others. Last year he started two new highly collaborative bands, White Moth and Sailors With Wax Wings, and he started a record label called Handmade Birds. Pyramids has already done an excellent collaboration with Nadja, and now they’ve hooked up with forward thinking musician Jenks Miller aka Horseback for the album A Throne Without A King. Both artists operate on a completely different level than their peers and are unique and exciting forces in the music world, and this collaboration is as golden as the album art.
The physical version of this release with be an LP plus 7″ with art and design by Aaron Turner. Horseback and Pyramids each have their standalone tracks that will be featured on the 7,” with the the LP containing the four part title track that features members of both bands. The Horseback song is similar to the material on his split with Volitgeurs, but like every Horseback release, it’s an evolution from the last one. Forbidden Planet was the last Horseback full length and featured layers of droning, scuzzy guitar and harsh vocals. The new Horseback song “Thee Cult Of Henry Flynt” takes the same tremolo picked guitar from Forbidden Planet and backs it up with programmed drums. The melodies are far more discernible, with Miller’s scathing voice crackling in like it’s coming from a dying CB radio. The song is incredibly high energy and really sets itself apart from the rest of the Horseback material. Read the rest of the review and view a sample of the album art after the jump.
Let Yourself Be Huge is the third full length album from instrumental composer Ben Sharp, better known under the moniker Cloudkicker. Since its creation in 2008, Cloudkicker has been a unique presence within metal. While solo artists aren’t uncommon in metal, Cloudkicker was different in that they didn’t belong to any sort of particular scene or spawn from a ‘real’ band. His recordings are exceptionally clean, and very early on he stood out from other solo and technical metal bands with his unique sense of melody and flare for cinematic and melancholy tones. Cloudkicker’s first album The Discovery was released as a free download, a format that he still favors this day. Sharp’s mission was to get his music out to as many people as possible and didn’t feel it was necessary to charge for his music. Only last year with the release of Beacons did he offer a physical product for his albums having has LPs and CDs manufactured for the release. All the profits from the physical sales and donations from Beacons were put directly back in to new musical equipment for the recording of Let Yourself Be Huge.
Cloudkicker is truly a progressive band. His first few releases were highly technical Meshuggah-worship. The drums were programmed impeccably with a level of detail that was hard not to appreciate. As heavy as the early recordings were, Sharp never lost track of good songwriting and his sense of melody. In the years to follow, he released a slew of EPs as his style began to develop and change as he came into his own. His writing got tighter and the recordings started to sound more natural and less clinical. His second full length Beacons from 2010 was an accomplishment in instrumental metal. No longer syncopated tech metal, but also not a meandering post-rock album, Beacons was an album unto itself.
Cloudkicker- The Word Water
Cloudkicker- You And Yours
Rest of the review after the jump!
Last weekend two very elusive bands made live appearances in the Bay Area. The two kindred spirits play a style most of the world would call Black Metal. But here genres, labels, lineups, press releases, promo photos and album cycles are irrelevant. Ash Borer from Arcata and Fell Voices from Santa Cruz exist purely create and revel within their own unique sphere of sound. Their albums serve as mere documents of a fleeting moment in time, their live performances are releases of pure energy. You get the sense that either band could disappear at any given moment and never be heard from again (in fact, Fell Voices were on hiatus), therefore it was important to catch these two bands as many times as possible while they made themselves available to the public eye as well as ear. Fell Voices and Ash Borer played Oakland with Velnias, Hell, Sutekh Hexen and Lycus, and San Francisco the following day. The SF date was a unique case seeing as how the bands played two sets. The first was an early show at Elbo Room that started at 4 in the afternoon. Immediately following the Elbo Room show, the bands set up inside a garage and each played a truncated set of furious and punishing music. CVLT Nation gives you an in depth look at this rare live ritual. More review, full photo gallery and a video after the jump.
Tuesday night, Zola Jesus ended her Conatus tour in San Francisco. What unfolded that night was one of the most powerful and moving live music experiences I have witnessed. The packed crowd, live percussion, and Zola’s unmistakeable voice made for an evening to remember. Watching the shifting lights from the projector ripple across her white shawl as she danced to the music was nothing short of captivating. The set emphasized the new album, but also included older songs like “Sea Talk,” “Night,” “Stridulum,” and encore “Run Me Out.” I was there with my camera in an attempt to capture the magic of Zola Jesus live. Check out the full gallery after the jump!
The music world is completely different now than it was when Wrest spawned the first Leviathan demo in 1998. So much of the danger and mystique of Black Metal has been dissolved since that time; a recent article in The New Yorker declaring Black Metal OK for the bourgeois made sure of that. Despite the genre’s ever increasing popularity, Wrest continued to push the musical envelope with Leviathan, the exceptional standalone masterpiece that was Lurker Of Chalice, as well as drumming for the latest Nachtmystium record and joining the black metal collective Twilight. It is impossible to start this review without giving some background as to how the first Leviathan record in three years came to be. In January of this year the news rippled across metal blogs that Wrest (real name Jef Whitehead) had been arrested and was being held on $350,000 bail for sexually assaulting his then-girlfriend. While this news was no where near as sensationalized, the arrest made Wrest North America’s answer to Varg Vikernes; a staggering musical genius marred by violence and jail time. The subsequent court proceedings were much kept in the dark following the news, and his fate remained uncertain. Months later, out of the blue, renowned label Profound Lore announced that they would be releasing a new album from Leviathan called True Traitor True Whore. This November will see the release of one of the most daring and nauseating black metal releases in recent years. Read the rest of this review and stream two new Leviathan songs after the jump.