I honestly do not know what is going on in this small and seemingly peaceful country called Iceland. Iceland has given us big names within the black metal scene – we can highlight names like Svartidaudi and Wormlust. There is also a very interesting array of bands there that follow the same path, such as Chao, Azoic, Vansköpun, Dynfari and Kontinuum just to name a few. All of these bands have above average talent and a very characteristic kind of sound, so much “their own” that they could almost certify it with a “Made in Iceland” stamp. From Iceland comes one of the most spectacular albums I have had the privilege to hear this year, brought by the hands of the, until now, unknown band Carpe Noctem.
Connecticut’s Sea of Bones have been pretty quiet for a while now, with six years passing since their debut record The Harvest but perhaps the doom band allows new music to blossom at the same pace as their ponderous riffs.
Where the band is clearly comfortable with extensive and sprawling passages of atmospheric doom tinged with sludge, they have pushed that affinity into extreme territories with this new LP entitled The Earth Wants Us Dead, a heaving behemoth, clocking in at over 90 minutes of sorrowful dirges.
Pairing two bands together for a split should be thoughtful and while there’s intrigue in seeing two totally different bands mashed together for a split and have the dichotomy displayed and examined, more often than not the best splits are when bands share a sonic and thematic camaraderie. This is very much the case with Amiensus and Oak Pantheon, both hailing from Minnesota too as a matter of fact.
I don’t recall feeling so lost and alone and surrounded by sorrow and desolation as much as I do when listening to Dopo L’Apnea, the debut self-released album of Italian apocalyptic crust band BUIOINGOLA. This album is massive and grand in so many ways, but that’s not exactly the description we’re going for right now. What we want to tell you about this album is how its intensity, heaviness and bleakness literally force you to your knees under the immense weight of a darkness impossible to withstand and then drags you by the ankles into an enormous oblivion of starving shadows. This album literally boils over with darkness and is so steeped in misery and loss that when sitting down to listen to it almost feels like madness and sadness start seeping through the walls and flooding the room. The music is grand and majestic, beautifully shrouded in an outer shell of sludge and doom that maintain the tempos very paced and dilated and the sounds monolithic and dense. But the heart of this work is what really shines of its own blinging light. What is hidden beneath is where the pulsing soul of this music lies and where the magic happens.
To their credit, but probably also to their annoyance, Russian Circles seem to be known as musicians first, a band second. Much has been made of Mike Sullivan’s harrowing guitar skills and his densely-layered construction of riffs and tapped melodies, and about half of all comments I see on new Russian Circles songs seem to be about Dave Turncrantz’s octo-armed fills and furiously technical math-rock mindset. And there’s certainly something to it: after being frustrated by the challenges of Station, a friend told me to watch Turncrantz in live videos, and suddenly the songs made sense to me. But as I alluded to in my recent review of Castevet’s Obsian, there has to be something beyond pure skill driving a band, else their songs flail and sputter, failing to reach any spiritual dimension of sound.
For Russian Circles, Memorial may be the record that breaks that mode of discussion. After the post-hardcore throbs that populated much of 2011’s Empros, Memorial feels lacking in bite, a sheen covering the guitars and bass, preventing them from truly cutting through the mix. This bothered me for a long time, much as Station did after I had been weened on the fairly clear post-metal of Enter.
Technicality is something of a sticking point among metal fans. There are some bands that impress people solely with their chops (Dragonforce, etc.), possessing little in the way of ‘songwriting’ or ‘good material’ but much in terms of wicked fast guitar solos and operatic vocals. Then there are the bands for whom, to quote Mick Barr of Krallice, playing guitar is like banging two rocks together. Second wave of black metal, I’m looking at you.
Of course, there are bands that cross this divide, conjuring the gut power of angsty-caveman metal but with the technical wizardry of the practiced. Russian Circles springs to mind, but a more recent, and in a sense more powerful, addition to this group is Castevet, a Brooklyn-based group that blurs the lines between black metal, math rock, and post-hardcore. On Obsian, the threesome proves the possibilities inherent in musical virtuosity, but lack the noodling baggage of their peers in high-speed shreddage.
Still, Weekend Nacho‘s 4th full length album, displays the band’s signature animosity with a handful of new tricks, but the same rough and tumble approach we’ve come to love (yes, you all love it). The band’s had an interesting trajectory – from humble fastcore/PV roots that evolved into a heavier, slower sound with 2009′s Unforgivable (still one of my favorite records) – to a more hardcore influenced sound with more breakdown and mosh tendencies (Worthless and now Still). Still encapsulates this growth perfectly; the gang choruses (“No Idols and No Heroes” and ”S.C.A.B”), slowmo stomps, spit verses that’d get a young Jamey Jasta excited, and plenty of power chord progressions to get you circling in the pit.
Over the past few years, one-man synth mastermind Wes Eisold has traversed virtually the entire spectrum of dark electronic music – beginning with bedroom recording experiments under the formative Ye Old Maids moniker, which then evolved into Cold Cave, through which he was experimented with harsh power electronics and industrial noise (on the Cremations collection), minimal dance pop (on debut album proper Love Comes Close), and even full blown arena-ready new wave (on the project’s first professional studio/full band realisation Cherish The Light Years). In the process, he worked with a range of different record labels including sometime collaborator and Prurient godfather Dominick Fernow’s Hospital Productions, indie rock giants Matador Records, and his own recording/publishing venture Heartworm Press. Since the somewhat climactic Cherish The Light Years, which looked set to push Cold Cave into considerably larger venues and audiences, Eisold has returned to his bedroom roots and weirder tendencies, releasing a string of stripped-down singles through his own label and old band American Nightmare’s hardcore home Deathwish Inc. Over the course of these singles – A Little Death To Laugh, Oceans With No End, God Made The World and Black Boots – Eisold has returned to the minimal synth/drum machine/laptop set-up and dark dance pop of Love Comes Close, whilst maintaining the harder rocking tendencies and confidence of his bigger material.
Hoarders Basement Chain Tape Out Now!
Hoarders came and went and left pretty much no record of their existence outside of some promising word of mouth and a few scattered releases, including Basement Chain, their last will and testament in the form of fifteen minutes of searing, frantic, atonal noise. Released posthumously, Basement Chain is essentially a relic, but the fact that Hoarders are no longer around to harm you doesn’t make listening to them any less of a terrifying experience.
Basement Chain pretty much does sound like a recording of some feral, maladjusted species being mercifully though unpleasantly wiped from the earth. High, piercing shrieks tear out of the speakers to a clamour of crashing cymbals, rumbling fuzzed-out bass and jagged stabs of trebly dissonance.
The black metal duo, originally from Colombia, returns through the demonic astral planes. Just two years after the unbelievable Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm, Dagon and Incubus are back with a vengeance. Having signed a deal with Season of Mist for their latest album, Obscure Verses for the Multiverse, Inquisition are once again bringing an all-consuming offering of pure malice and boundless darkness.
Through the ten tracks of the album, the band brings forth an insane amount of energy, with an ever-burning fury driving their music to its extremes. The ability of the band to somehow retain an ambiance despite their aggressive style is still at large in Obscure Verses for the Multiverse, as uncanny as ever, while Dagon’s vocals still maintain their insane Abbath-ian character, with a few interesting twists in there, for instance the deeper growls in “Where Darkness Is Lord and Death” and “Darkness Flows Towards The Unseen Horizons” giving a different flavor.
Inquisition are able to produce tracks of unearthly speed and anger. The explosive blastbeats of “Force of the Floating Tomb” are thrown straight in your face when the album kicks, while in “Master of the Cosmological Black”, the band is showing of their bare teeth with Inquisition unleashing their schizophrenic guitar playing and letting loose a sonic tempest of black metal cruelty. The insane nature and power of the band is prevalent in other instances as well, “Arrival of Aeons After” is pinning you to the wall with its intensity while the haunting leads are crafting a sickening ambiance for the song. Dissonance is another strong aspect of the band, something that Inquisition have no problem showing in “Infinite Interstellar Genocide”, crushing your very essence with the most brutal moment of the entire album.