Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Extra Credit: Barghest/False split

On their side of the split, Barghest offers up two songs - "Shifting Sands" is an old song and "Inhuman Hatred" is new.  Coming from Baton Rouge, the band plays an abrasive, low-fi version of black metal.

On the other side of the split, Minneapolis' False gives us one song, but it runs for over seventeen minutes.  "Heavy as a Church Tower" is more of a black metal journey - it's atmospheric at times, speeds up and then slows down, and even features synths.

The Barghest/False split is currently available at bandcamp courtesy of Gilead Media for the "name your price" option, so you can either get it for free or donate what you can to show your support.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Class of 2012: Enlsaved - Riitiir

Norway's Enslaved started out over twenty years ago as a pretty straightforward black metal band.  Over the years, the band's sound has evolved into a melodic/blackened/progressive style of metal.

Riitiir starts off strong with "Thoughts Like Hammers" and "Death in the Eyes of Dawn."  The former has a riff that will stick in your head for weeks, while the latter features an incredibly catchy hook.

Next comes "Veilburner," which is a solid track, but it can't compare to what follows.  "Roots of the Mountain" has a soaring chorus that fittingly sings of wings, eagles, and the sky.  Oddly enough, this chorus brings Garden State to mind.  See if you can figure out what I mean.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Extra Credit: Ah Ciliz

Ah Ciliz is the Mayan god of solar eclipses.  Ah Ciliz is also an atmospheric black metal project out of California. It's the vision of Elmer, who gets help on drums from Marco.
Led Astray, released at the beginning of this year, has a low-fi, homemade feel, but therein lies its charm.  It doesn't even really sound like metal until after four minutes into the self-titled opener, but then the vocals kick in and you get the full sound of Ah Ciliz. 
The strongest tracks here are "Ailing" and "Secrets of the Forest."  Be sure to give these a listen before making up your mind.
Led Astray is available at bandcamp courtesy of Broken Limbs Recordings for the "name your price" option, so you can either get it for free or donate what you can to show your support.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Class of 2012: Winterfylleth - The Threnody of Triumph

Winterfylleth is Olde English for "Winter Full Moon."  And while we're at it, a threnody is a song, poem, or hymn to commemorate the dead.

Winterfylleth is a British black metal band with slight folk/pagan leanings.  The band describes its music as "English heritage black metal."

The Threnody of Triumph opens with "A Thousand Winters."  It's a pretty good start, has effective tempo shifts to add variety, and ends with chants of drawn-out "whoa"s.  The chanting also appears on next track "The Swart Raven," which is one of the album's highlights.  It starts very strong, twists at just past the halfway point, and then shifts back toward the end.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Movie Day: One Man Metal, Part Two

Part two of Noisey and Vice's One Man Metal documentary is available to watch here.  If you haven't yet checked out part one, then do so first right here.

While black metal is not for everyone, it's interesting to compare and contrast these three artists behind the music of their solo projects Leviathan, Xasthur, and Striborg.  Did you know that Jef Whitehead got his start as a skateboarder?  Russell Menzies seems very normal.  He's married, has a family, and has been drug-free for 10 years.  Scott Conner avoids getting too personal, but he makes it clear that he's not a people person.

Part three should be available in the coming days or weeks.  Stay tuned.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pass/Fail: Titus Andronicus - Local Business

I'm sure that I'm in the minority, but I didn't love The Monitor like everyone else seemed to.  I liked it (and still do), but I think I'd rather listen to The Airing of Grievances.  I'd almost forgotten about Titus Andronicus when I found out that a new album, Local Business, was about to come out.

Titus Andronicus plays indie rock with a punk spirit.  Think Bright Eyes meets The Dead Milkmen.

Local Business opens with "Ecce Homo," whose first few seconds bring "Ring of Fire" to mind.  It's a good start.  Next comes "Still Life With Hot Deuce On Silver Platter," which is pretty good until the poppy line "Here it goes again / I hear you took it to another level" becomes way too repetitive.  Speaking of repetitive, wait until "Titus Andronicus vs. The Absurd Universe (3rd Round KO)," which repeats "I'm going insane" over and over.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Class of 2012: Horrendous - The Chills

Horrendous are an old-school death metal band with a bit of a punk influence.  Imagine Lemmy getting together with a death metal band and releasing the results.  The Chills is what it might sound like.  On their debut album, Horrendous gives us 9 songs (8 if we don't count the short instrumental "Sleep Sickness") in just under 42 minutes.

First track "The Womb" features a great introduction - the opening riff is catchy and the bell chimes add a special touch.  As the song progresses, it's clear that it's going to be hard to beat.

There's no question that this is death metal, but certain moments have a slight punk feel to them.  Listen to "The Somber (Desolate Winds)" and "Fleshrot" and you'll hear what I mean.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Extra Credit: Witch Mountain

Scion A/V gave us a free Revocation EP not too long ago, and now they're offering a two-song EP from Witch Mountain for the price of an email address.

Formed in Portland, Oregon, fifteen years ago, Witch Mountain are a doom-metal band.  Since finding a voice in singer Uta Plotkin a couple of years ago, the band has released two albums (South of Salem and Cauldron of the Wild) in the past two years.

Of the two songs on this EP, "Bloodhound" is new and "A Power Greater" is a re-recording of an old song.  If you're new to Witch Mountain, then these songs should serve as a fine introduction, and if you're already a fan, then I'm sure that you'll enjoy both tracks.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Class of 2012: Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind

Unlike 2009's Axe To Fall, All We Love We Leave Behind is a Converge-only album.  In other words, there are no special guests or collaborators on this record.

Opening track "Aimless Arrow" is a great starter and one of the stronger songs on the record.  It has a bit of a Guy Picciotto-fronted Fugazi feel to it.  This happens when vocalist Jacob Bannon sings a little more than usual.  "Tender Abuse," "Sadness Comes Home," and the title track also bear this resemblance.

Another standout, "Sadness Comes Home," starts with a slow intro that features a bluesy riff by guitarist Kurt Ballou.  Then it takes off but comes back down with an outro that matches its beginning.  It's followed by the slightly industrial-sounding "Empty On The Inside," whose vocals at one point remind me of Love and Rockets.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Class of 2012: Witchcraft - Legend

It's quite possible that Witchcraft had fallen off your radar.  Their last album (Alchemist), after all, came out in 2007.  Upon hearing Legend, however, Witchcraft should quickly fall back into your listening rotation.

Witchcraft's doomy classic rock sounds straight out of the seventies.  The Black Sabbath and Pentagram influences are obvious, but there are also a few Tool-like moments when the songs get loud.  To hear what I mean, for instance, listen to "Democracy" and "Dead End."

Throughout Legend's nine songs, Magnus Pelander's vocals sound great.  Strangely enough, there's a moment on "Dead End" where Pelander's voice reminds me of early Bono.  See if you can find it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Extra Credit: Dead Beyond Buried

England's Dead Beyond Buried play death metal with elements of black metal and thrash.  Their third album The Dark Era is currently available at the band's website as a free download.  If you'd like to give it a listen before you download, you can also stream the record here.

Here's how the band describes The Dark Era:
"A man finds himself as the only survivor after his home world is savagely torn apart.  Now he is a spirit of the void searching for the hope his faith has promised him. The silent black ocean before him offers no kindness. With every turn he sees horrors unimaginable to the conscious mind.  Driven to the edge of the universe, will he find the peace he craves or join the shadows in the night on their path to utter annihilation....."

Dead Beyond Buried plans to release CD and vinyl versions of The Dark Era later this year.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Movie Day: One Man Metal, Part One

One Man Metal is a three-part documentary by VICE and Noisey that interviews three solo black metal artists who do not regularly (or ever) appear on camera - Jef Whitehead of Leviathan, Russell Menzies of Striborg, and Scott Conner of Xasthur.

At the beginning of part one, we're given a brief history of black metal and its several waves, which is then followed by the actual interviews with each artist.  

The documentary crew visits each artist in his home to conduct the interviews.  Whitehead and Conner are both in California (Oakland and Alhambra, respectively), whereas Menzies lives in the middle of nowhere in Maydena, Tasmania.

Unfortunately, only part one is currently available to watch at Noisey.  However, parts two and three should become available in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pass/Fail: The Mountain Goats - Transcendental Youth

Sadly, the last great Mountain Goats' record is 2002's Tallahassee.  Since then, John Darnielle and company have released albums and songs that have been very hit or miss.  Newest record Transcendental Youth is no different.

There's no doubt that Darnielle is one of his generation's great lyricists.  I'd put the Hold Steady's Craig Finn in that same category, too.  With both of these guys, you can count on interesting characters and stories, but both of these sometimes come at the expense of the music and song structure.

Opening track "Amy aka Spent Gladiator 1" sounds like a typical recent Mountain Goats song, and this sets the tone for the rest of what's to come.  It's a decent song, but it's not very memorable.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Class of 2012: Black Breath - Sentenced to Life

Black Breath combines hardcore, thrash, and death metal over the course of ten songs in just over 32 minutes on Sentenced to Life.  While this has been done time and time again, Black Breath have found a way to make it seem fresh and rather original.

Sentenced to Life gets off to a blistering start.  The first two songs, "Feast of the Damned" and "Sentenced to Life," are easily two of the best songs here.  They're surprisingly catchy and showcase the band's hardcore/punk roots.  The title track, in fact, with its chorus of "terrified of living / too scared to try," brings to mind the heyday of bands like Minor Threat and Black Flag.

On songs such as "Home of the Grave" and "The Flame," the band slows things down a bit.  It's on tracks like these where Black Breath sounds the most metal and least hardcore.  On "Endless Corpse," however, the aforementioned genres meld together very well.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Class of 2012: Guided By Voices - Class Clown Spots A UFO

Class Clown Spots A UFO is GBV's second album of the year, and a third one is slated for a November release.  Album number two of 2012 is considerably better than its predecessor, Let's Go Eat The Factory.  The songs are more memorable and the band has shaken off some of its rust since reuniting.

Class Clown has its share of great songs.  The instant-classic title track stands out as the album's highlight.  It's perfect pop in a way that only GBV can produce, ending with Robert Pollard singing "I am the one / who is the one / who am the one / who are the one."  The simple and repetitive "Keep It In Motion," in spite of its slightly off-beat drums, also stands out.  "Hang Up And Try Again" may not be instantly catchy, but at some point, unexpectedly, it will pop into your head and you'll find yourself singing "Hang up and try again."  Moreover, "He Rises! Our Union Bellboy" and "No Transmission" make great bookends, opening and closing the album effectively.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Extra Credit: Wound Upon Wound

Dublin, Ireland, is not likely to wind up on anyone's list for up-and-coming metal hotbeds.  Wound Upon Wound, however, are doing their part to change this mindset.  Named after the Gorgoroth song of the same name,the band play black metal with elements of doom and death.
The self-titled Wound Upon Wound features seven songs in 50 minutes.  Opening track "I Become" is mostly doom and death but is followed by the more blackened "Descent" and "Awakening."   After the atmospheric "Eulogy," everything comes together on "As The Waves Draw Closer," the strongest piece on the record.  The final two songs further reinforce what the band does well.
Wound Upon Wound is available for free at bandcamp.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Class of 2012: Guided By Voices - Let's Go Eat The Factory

Let's Go Eat The Factory is the first GBV reunion record that came out this year.  While it may not win over that many new fans, it's a welcome addition to the GBV catalog for those already among their fan base.

Songs like "Doughnut for a Snowman," "The Unsinkable Fats Domino," and "Chocolate Boy" seem too easy - it's like Robert Pollard could do this all day if he wanted.  Unfortunately, he also wants to do songs like "The Big Hat and Toy Show," which finds the band simply messing around.

A predictable Pollard complaint rears its head only two songs in - "The Head" is too short.  I'd like to hear this track further developed.  Furthermore, "Go Rolling Home" and "The Room Taking Shape" sound like demos.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Class of 2012: Mutilation Rites - Empyrean

Self-described as "filthy" black metal, Brooklyn's Mutilation Rites tear through six songs in just over 35 minutes on Empyrean.  Don't expect any ambient or avant-garde interludes - this is not that kind of music.

"A Season of Grey Rain" is a near-perfect start with several impressive moments.  For example, go to 3:55 and listen to the rest of the track.  You'll hear a couple of such instances within a mere minute and a half.

Throughout Empyrean, George Paul's vocals are indecipherable, and from what I've read, that's how he wants it to be.  Nonetheless, topics and themes include vices, depression, and substance abuse.

Beginning at a break-neck speed, "Ancient Bloodoath" features solid but never flashy guitar work.  The band then slows things down considerably for the track's final two minutes.  While the rest of the album is also fast-paced, the twists and turns of each song keep things interesting.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pass/Fail: Down IV Part I - The Purple EP

The Purple EP is the first of four EPs that Down plans to release.  This one features six songs, three of which are very good, while the others fall into the mediocre/average category.

"Levitation" gets the EP off to a great start.  Like the rest of the tracks, it has a certain doomy/sludgy feel to it.  It's also the catchiest song here.

"Witchtripper" slows things down a bit but then speeds up at the chorus.  Unfortunately, the chorus is simply "Witchtripper," which seems somewhat lazy to me.  Nevertheless, this is still a good song.

The middle of the EP is where Down stumbles a bit.  "Open Coffins" is the weakest track, but "The Curse Is A Lie" isn't that much better.