Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Je m'excuse, mais...

I apologize for the lack of recent posts, but I've had a lot on my plate recently - most importantly, my wife and I have a baby on the way in less than a month and we're trying to get everything ready (finishing the nursery, doctor's appointments, etc.).  I'm working on a bunch of reviews, extra credits, etc., so keep checking back for updates.  Thanks for your understanding.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Class of 2013: Blåhø - Through Sinister Nightfall

Blåhø is a Norwegian black metal band that gets it name from a mountain in Oppland, Norway.  Debut record Through Sinister Nightfall features synths, clean vocals (purists beware), and catchy hooks that almost feel anthemic.

Album opener "Eternal Dreams" is immediately memorable and highlights Blåhø's strengths, especially the band's ability to write a catchy chorus that mixes black metal vocals with clean ones.  In fact, throughout Through Sinister Nightfall, clean vocals are deftly mixed in, often in the background, and they complement the black metal vocals very well.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Extra Credit: Apothesary

Apothesary is a four-piece out of northern California that plays a mixture of technical death and thrash metal.  The band released They All Carry Ghosts, which includes four originals and one cover (At The Gates' "Blinded By Fear"), in December of last year.

"Hamartia" starts things off, and while it's pretty good, it may well be the weakest of the originals.  In fact, They All Carry Ghosts seems to get better and better as each song plays through.  "Parting at Morning," the EP's longest track, shows just what Apothesary is capable of.  It has a piano/synth intro and outro and features some classic-sounding heavy metal guitar solos.

They All Carry Ghosts is available at Apothesary's bandcamp page for the "name your price" option, so you can download the EP for free or pay what you can to support the band.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Class of 2013: Head of the Demon - Head of the Demon

Not much is known about Head of the Demon.  They're Swedish, and they're clearly influenced by Black Sabbath and traditional doom bands from decades past. 

The group's self-titled debut starts off with "By Titan Hand," and when the vocals kick in, the element of surprise rears its demon head.  Based on the music, I was expecting a singer with some pipes and range.  Instead, we get much more interesting vocals.  There's even whispering and what sounds like backing female vocals on "They Lie in Wait - Riding the Waste," one of the standout tracks.

Repetition is a musical trend throughout Head of the Demon.  For example, the recurrent guitar part in "Phantasmagoria" is super catchy (more so than any of the vocals) and highly effective. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pass/Fail: Rotten Sound

Believe it or not, Finnish grindcore band Rotten Sound is celebrating its 20th year this summer.  To tide us over between 2011's Cursed and the next full-length to come, the group has released Species At War, a 6-song EP that lasts just over 8 minutes.

Species At War begins with "Cause," and it's instantly clear that Rotten Sound is holding nothing back.  Next comes "The Game," a much slower-paced track with a cool intro and a bit of a sludgy/stoner feel.  "War" picks up the pace and would probably be the strongest song if it weren't for what follows.  "The Solution" builds in intensity and its final 15 seconds is just plain filthy.  "Salvation" gets off to a blistering start and then slows to deliver a killer riff.  And the laughably-titled "Peace" closes the EP in a similar fashion to the way that it began - it's frenetic and doesn't let up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Movie Day: Rungs In A Ladder

Rungs In A Ladder is a short documentary film by Ian McFarland about Jacob Bannon of Converge.  This is much more cinematic than a simple interview.  Throughout the film's twelve minutes, Bannon talks about his life - past experiences that have shaped him, his raison d'être, what motivates him, etc.  As Bannon's voice serves as narration, we see the vocalist/artist at home, at his art studio, at the gym, and at the recording studio, but at no point is he ever talking to the camera.

The documentary is streaming over at Noisey, and there's even a short printed interview with Bannon at the site.  So be sure to go check it out when you have a few minutes.  And if you haven't heard Converge's latest, All We Love We Leave Behind, then do so immediately.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Movie Day: Black Metal

Black Metal is a 9-minute short film written and directed by Kat Candler.  Without giving too much away, the film centers around a black metal vocalist who finds himself in a difficult situation after a fan of his band commits a heinous crime.

The short film is debuting at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and is currently available to watch at Kat Candler's YouTube channel.  It features the music of Vesperian Sorrow, Horned Almighty, and Pallbearer.  So head here and check it out while it's still streaming.