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.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Extra Credit: Ludicra

Ludicra was a black metal/avant-garde metal band from San Francisco.  They formed in 1998 and sadly broke up in the summer of 2011.  The good news, however, is that the band's back catalog plus some live performances are available for free downloads at the Ludicra bandcamp page.
If you're new to Ludicra, then I'd suggest starting with the group's most recent release, 2010's The Tenant.  From there, simply work your way back.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pass/Fail: Philip H. Anselmo / Warbeast

On the 4-song EP War of the Gargantuas, Phil Anselmo and Warbeast each offer up two new songs.  And if you were beginning to think that maybe Anselmo was starting to mellow out with age, then you were dead wrong.

"Conflict," Anselmo's first track, is massively heavy and angry.  Don't expect anything like what you heard on the most recent Down EP.  (I like The Purple EP, but this is quite a different animal.)  Next comes Warbeast's "Birth of a Psycho."  It gets off to a fast start and doesn't really let up, seeming to get better and more convincing as it continues on.  Anselmo's "Family, Friends, and Associates" follows, and while it is slightly less intense than "Conflict," it's still pretty extreme.  Listen for some pretty good guitar work around the 2-minute mark.  Warbeast finishes things up with "It," the stronger of the band's two songs and probably the third best track on the EP.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Extra Credit: Sküll

Sküll is a death/crust band out of Trondheim, Norway, that also incorporates elements of thrash, punk, and even a little sludge.
On the Sküll demo, we're given 7 songs in about 22 minutes.  And you'll hear no clunkers or duds here.  The first three tracks have more of a death/crust feel ("Vision apocalypse" is a bit sludgy), whereas the remainder of the demo has more of a thrash/punk feel ("Black Thrash Attack" couldn't have been better titled).
The Sküll demo is available as a free download from the group's bandcamp page, so be sure to check it out.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Class of 2013: Anticipated Albums

2012 was a pretty good year for music.  Let's hope that 2013 is even better.  With that in mind, here are my 10 most anticipated releases for 2013*:

Philip H. Anselmo - Rumor has it that this will be crushingly heavy.  If you're a fan of Pantera or Down, then this should be on your radar.

Cloud Nothings - These guys put out a great album in early 2012, and they're already back at it.  Reportedly, this new one will be noisier and less melodic than Attack on Memory.

Darkthrone - According to Fenriz on Peaceville's Darkthrone page, The Underground Resistance will contain “3 songs each, Ted's are flown from the universe of metal with his strongest voice ever so far. Songs of mine are torn from the wombs of the riders of rohan of metal; safely cradled in 1985 style”.