Sunday, September 24, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - Monarch!, Totengott, Cavernlight, Hundred Year Old Man

The 8th (!!!) album from French outfit MONARCH! plumbs the depths of misery without getting too monotonous. Never Forever is a car crash in slow motion of sludge metal, feedback, and droning noise passages. Emilie Bresson's vocal approach is accordingly eclectic, mutating from shrieks to growls to creepy clean singing and spoken word sections. A band that doesn't just perform doom metal as a form of Sabbath worship. [$7.99 CAD]

Spain's Totengott wear their Celtic Frost influence loudly and proudly. The aptly titled Doppelgänger is a spiritual twin to the heaviest Frost material, including a pretty spot-on Tommy Fisch-sticks impression. The world certainly isn't lacking reverential imitations of Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, but Totengott ranks among the best (and heaviest). Urgh! [€5]

Wisconsin's Cavernlight are only on their second album, but have seemingly mastered their style of sludgy doom. As We Cup Our Hands and Drink From the Stream of Our Ache (a long title for an equally drawn out and morose album) is at turns crushing and ambient, culminating in the monumental final track, which employs female vocals and a blasting finish. An eloquent and cathartic work of loss and sadness. [$5]

Leeds' Hundred Year Old Man approach the genre with more in mind than slow chord progressions. The three songs on the single/EP Black Fire is suitably bleak, adopting ambient drone to find a middle ground between Cult of Luna and experimental musicians like Aidan Baker. Heavy, but with the thoughtfulness befitting a band on the high-minded Gizeh records. [£2]

Friday, September 22, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Rosetta, Chelsea Wolfe, Ocean Forest

In this age of Trumpism and alt right trolls, we should be doubly thankful for the return of anarchist collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Though rooted in the atmospheric quasi-symphonic sound they pioneered, Luciferian Towers sees the band embracing the power of the riff, resulting in what may be the heaviest album of their career. [$9]

Philadelphia's Rosetta have been shaking lose their hardcore roots to arrive at more cerebral destinations. On Utopioid, the band crafts a concept album in movements, using their cascading guitar lines to flesh out a narco-somatic world of disappointment. The album is available as a name your price download.

Though ostensibly an indie artist, what Chelsea Wolfe does is as dark as anything you'd find with the suffix "metal" attached to it. Her latest album Hiss Spun isn't wanting for crushing riffs and pounding drums, though she's capable of being just as chilling with only her voice and an acoustic guitar on songs like "Two Spirit". [$8.99]

Ocean Forest probably remember the Eighties fondly. On their laconic debut, the South Carolina trio have a shoegazing, surf rock-tinged take on early post punk, delivering 9 songs of the New Wave that could have been - poppy, unvarnished, and haunting. [$5.95]

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

in the nineties we loved feedback and arty record sleeves.

Almost completely forgot about this: Dragbody were a band from Florida who did the noisecore thing (a la Converge/Botch/Kiss it Goodbye) and recorded an EP at Morrisound (albeit with an engineer who was neither Scott Burns nor Tom Morris). I saw them at CBGBs and bought this 7" from them (and liked it enough to track down their full-length Flip The Killswitch a little while later).

My memory is a black hole of false impressions and mis-remembered happenings, but I vaguely recall talking with these guys after their set and their being nice to me. That's something that would stand out to a long-haired metal kid who had just started going to hardcore shows in the Nineties.

I'm not sure why Dragbody never caught on with a wider audience; I'll put it down to the innate tribal/lemming mentality of hardcore kids at the time. Most of my hardcore friends would rather listen to a mediocre band from their hometown than take a chance on an unknown band from out of state or another country. [To wit: No one I knew cared about Refused until after they had broken up and made their way to the "best of" lists of punk rock's cool kids. But I digress.] Dragbody's releases were certainly as good as anything else in the style released between Fixation on a Coworker and Jane Doe. I'm glad someone has made this available online; hopefully a Bandcamp release is in the works so their music can find its way to a newer, less boxed-in audience.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - Celephaïs, Myrkur, Wolves in the Throne Room, An Autumn for Crippled Children

Five years since their ambitious 25 minute meisterwork Tir N'a n'Og (still phenomenal and still available for free), DoC faves Celephaïs are back with another bout of bleak folky instrumentals. Each track on Monad is a journey of tension and release - prosaic and contemplative one minute, bloodthirsty and unrestrained the next. As far as nature-themed black metal goes, you'll have a hard time finding anything that tops this. The album is available as a "name your price" download.

All the haters in the world haven't slowed down Myrkur. With her second album Mareridt, the erstwhile Amelie Bruun shows the songwriting prowess only hinted at on her unexpectedly divisive debut, letting her ethereal vocals traverse over black metal, gothy doom and neo-folk, along the way teaming up with fellow purveyor of Pitchfork-friendly darkness Chelsea Wolfe. Bruun probably won't end up being the cross-over star that Relapse is hoping for, but she brings a refreshing outsider's perspective to the heaviest of metals (not to mention some catchy tunes). No doubt everyone with a Von patch will hate it. [$10]

Wolves in the Throne Room have returned - for real, this time, and not as a synth rock band. Thrice Woven picks up where Celestial Lineage left off, augmenting the band's already epic forest metal with choral singing and acoustic passages without getting too twee about it. Not sure the bone dry recording (done by the band themselves) gives the songs the richness they require; certainly such passionate odes to nature and paganism deserve a fuller sound? Regardless, if anyone has forgotten why WITTR was such a monumental force in USBM, this should serve as a cogent reminder. [$9]

It may be heresy to describe any black metal as "pretty", but An Autumn For Crippled Children certainly make a case for it. Recorded in 2015, the three songs on morfine meld fuzzed out guitars, shuffling drums and sombre synth melodies for a sound as deeply rooted in Joy Division as it is in Burzum. An opiate haze in the northern sky. [€3]

let my people rock

Had to do some travelling recently. The long layovers and delayed flights gave me an opportunity to catch up on some cartoons. Among the most delightful was this episode of Bob's Burgers that introduces the fictional prog rock band Zentipede and their sci fi concept album/rock opera General Inzanity, complete with laser light show.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Mixtape 37 - D.O.A.

Here is the 37th installment of the Dreams of Consciousness podcast, featuring an interview with Joe "Joey Shithead" Keithley of Canadian punk legends D.O.A.