Caïna is one of the most revered acts on the UKBM scene and since the first days of the project sole member Andrew Curtis-Brignell has pushed the sounds of his band further and further from the initial steps taken on 2006s demo, The King Beneath. Since that time, Caïna has evolved and taken on new identities – from “post” black metal to experimental improvisation which has seen the band constantly shift and flow with the mind of its creator.
In 2011 Curtis-Brignell announced a new record and that it would, unfortunately, be the end of Caïna. The musical journey for the band came to an end with the incredible Hands That Pluck. Yet, in the latter stages of 2012 Caïna was resurrected and a return to the live arena was established in September of this year. The live experience of Caïna was markedly different and having been away from the stage for over four years, Curtis-Brignell began to experiment with sound and on stage improvisation (live footage can be seen below).
Splits are a funny old thing. One side might be terrible, one side might be great, the other side completely overshadows the other, both sides might be awful, neither side makes any sense when put with the other or, in the case of this Botanist and Palace of Worms split, both sides might be complete polar opposites and yet somehow perfectly in sync at the same time. It’s some kind of magic.
The two artists behind this release have been in talks to do something together for a while (see our below interview with Otrebor of Botanist) and as such the themes and currents running through their tracks align and give us a deeper insight into the Bay Area’s black metal scene. While Botanist treads the unconventional path, Palace of Worms sidles along a more orthodox route but the two projects throw curiosities into their music – Botanist via those incredible dulcimer parts and Palace of Worms through gorgeous synths and uneasy clean vocals – and both move forward from their previous releases into new territories and sounds.
There must be something in the air of late – darkness and gloom is permeating the world of rock and roll in a more obvious manner these last few months and it’s in bands such as Soror Dolorosa, Beastmilk and Vaura that this melancholy resonates. It’s almost pertinent to note that all of those acts have a history with much more extreme genres of music but all have, for some reason, wandered over to the side of sadness and embraced the cold, dark waves of modern goth. Vaura have, among their ranks, a member of Gorguts (Kevin Hufnagel – guitar), Toby Driver of Kayo Dot (bass) and they are lead by the ever busy Joshua Strawn (Blacklist, Religious to Damn – vocals, guitar) along with drummer Charlie Schmid (also ex-Religious to Damn); it’s clear, though, that despite their backgrounds, all four musicians share a love for the sounds of the gothic movement.
Pelican have always been a steady presence within the rock scene despite taking a step back after the release of 2009s What We All Come to Need. It seems as though people never really forgot about the instrumental group despite them scaling back their efforts a tad after four full lengths and countless EPs. The band have been through some tough times and although last year’s Ataraxia/Taraxis EP was a welcome return for the quartet, there was something much more pressing at hand for the Chicago-based group and their, until then, solid line-up.
After forming in 2001 as a sort of side-project to most of the members other band, Tusk, Pelican have been a constant force. They’re adept at creating sweeping landscapes of sound and travelling through many an emotion without ever uttering a word, yet the excitement surround new material and touring plans had a darker side for the band as long-time guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec wasn’t feeling as into Pelican as he had done in the past. Luckily Pelican were able to still play live and drafted in Dallas Thomas of The Swan King and in the interview we have with Trevor de Brauw (guitar) below, you’ll learn about how this whole process and change was handled.
Forever Becoming then, holds a lot of Pelican within its walls of sound and evocative title and the band feel as new and as refreshing on this new record as they did way back in the beginning. It’s a joyful record, a sad record, and a record of forward motion. Forever Becoming is the sound of a band learning their place within their own lives, and within the post-rock/instrumental/wherever the heck you want to place them scene and it is wonderful.
When you think about Finnish black metal, bands such as Beherit, Sargeist, Behexen, Horna and Satanic Warmaster come to mind. Bands of the trve kvlt ilk, bands that deal in an unholy and orthodox sound, bands that lather the corpse paint on and wear spikes longer than is necessary and shout about Satan. All that stuff is definitely great, but Oranssi Pazuzu do not fall into that category at all. This Finnish quintet are an entirely different breed of black metal and their third full length, Valonielu is a trippy, psychedelic journey that is awash with colour and experimentation. It’s absolutely bonkers and for a lot of the running time you won’t have any idea what’s even happening to your ears. And that’s OK.
“Vino Verso” gets things underway with a steady pulsing rhythm that takes in glitches of electronic weirdness that flit in between a wonderfully crunched down guitar sound that cycles through the same sound in a repetitive and hypnotic measure. It’s a tad unnerving on first listen and Valonielu is certainly a record to spend some time with. Layers slowly reveal themselves through repeated sessions and the strangeness of it all soon becomes familiar, but no less nightmarish in scope and achievement.
Seidr’s second full length Ginnungagap is as mysterious and cosmic as their 2011 effort For Winter Fire, and it builds on the foundations of the debut and outstrips it in terms of scope and sound. For Winter Fire certainly took its sweet time (both in being birthed by the band and in its run time) and Ginnungagap is another masterclass in the old adage, “good things come to those who wait.” Opening track “A Blink of the Cosmic Eye” rumbles on ethnically tinged strings before giving way to droning shades of electronic noise for a stately ten minutes which in turn segues into a more recognisable progression of music. It’s always been the way for Seidr, that they allow themselves to express their musical vision in their own way and not because they feel that they have to do something in a certain, preconceived manner.
Windhand’s slow crawl to the top of the current doom scene has been a delight to experience. After their much anticipated, self-titled debut of 2012 and this year’s excellent showing on a split with Cough, Windhand seem set to leave a trail of utter desolation in their wake.
Soma is Windhand’s sophomore effort and it builds on the debut with more atmospheric woe and emotion than you ever thought possible. Windhand take a smoky glance at the tribulations of life and the dread that is conjured by the knowledge that death awaits us all.
Perigaea Antahkarana is an evolution of 2012′s demo Perigaea, which in itself took a long time to come about – how does the new record compare to the original sounds that you created (for anyone that didn’t hear the previous release) and did the album move forward in a way that you expected or even wanted it to?
Perigaea Antahkarana sounds better than the demo. We recorded and mixed with producer/engineer Mell Dettmer. She has worked with Earth, Asva, Sunn, Boris, Eyvind Kang and Gamelon Pacifica, among many others. We recorded through a killer vintage Trident board onto two-inch-tape which has given this album a very interesting sound. Our performances were better on this record than any in the past. I am very happy with how the pieces have progressed musically. There is probably 40-45 minutes of new material. It really is the difference between a demo and an official release. I hope that our fans will enjoy both.
How collaborative is the Wolvserpent process? Do you bring separate ideas to the table or work on things together?
Wolvserpent is a very collaborative project. We basically do everything together. But we are also very open to the unique ideas that we develop on our own. Our material is best when we develop it together. One of us may bring an individual idea to the table but we work on it until it becomes Wolvserpent. We each have our own strengths and that is very helpful when one of us gets stuck on an aspect of composition or atmosphere, the other can provide starting points to the solution.
Wolvserpent have been around for quite a number of years yet 2013 sees them release only their second full length effort since 2010 saw them change to Wolvserpent after their initial 2005 inception as Pussygutt. The release of their debut Blood Seed had them taking new steps into droned out, doomed landscapes of sound. Last year’s demo Perigaea was only a taste of things to come and Perigaea Antahkarana builds and learns from those initial recordings to become the monstrous and distressing sophomore album that it is today.
Perigaea Antahkarana flows from deeply felt and atmospheric sounds of nature – crows cawing and a fire crackling – laid over a melancholic and rich string sound (Brittany McConnell) that weaves itself around the increasingly claustrophobic noises and a subtle howling wind. “Threshold:Gateway” and its introductory style is a deftly constructed piece; the mystery that it evokes is dangerously sensual and it leads perfectly into the instantly heavy doom of “Within the Light of Fire” which twists and turns with a blackened soul and a sly, heady rhythm.
Occasionally a record comes along that, for some reason, is extremely difficult to write about. Whether that’s because it’s terrible or there’s a lot to take in or that you just love it so damn much, it can take on a life of its own and drag you down into a pit of complete despair before you’ve figured out that it’s happening. All Hail Corrosion is a tough work to talk about, and not because it’s awful – far from it. It’s not even that there’s too much going on but it’s because it’s so simple yet so overwhelming in its emotional structure and ritualistic vibrations. Ephemeros do more than tug on the heartstrings with their debut and this three track monolith of an album is so wonderfully despondent that sitting through it all at once in order to get some thoughts locked down becomes a struggle.