1 May 2012

This is the Way, We're Unleashed


Unleashed (Sweden)
Where No Life Dwells
May 1, 1991

Death... the Norse way. Somewhat of a Motörhead in the world of death metal, Where No Life Dwells sounds like anything Unleashed could come up with today in demo format. But this was 1991, and heavy chunky old school death metal with the viking focus was a fucking cool idea. Sticking to a no-frills showcase of the ideal classic Swedish death metal sound as an offshoot of an early incarnation of Entombed (songwriter/bassist Johnny Hedlund formed Unleashed as a reaction to his mates in Nihilist reforming themselves as Entombed without him), this thing packs a mighty fucking punch and is quite overlooked by other prominent, though no less badass, hometown merchants of death. Amidst all the battle axe mayhem and glorious rides to Valhalla (not to mention the obligatory early-90's Christ-baiting) are some sick groovy riffs and enough killer ideas to carry legitimate esteem and recognition. They pillage through wailing screams of guitar feedback and gallop up storms of bloody beatdowns, even "...And the Laughter Has Died" heaving down on some Autopsy-like grimy haunting doom atmospheres, a personal highlight. Choose this path for some violent ecstasy and into glory ride.

30 April 2012

Scenes from the American Hard Rock Underground


2008

This is a documentary I first saw a few years ago, and as far as I'm concerned, is a must-see for any fans of hard rock. It does an awesome job of tracing the evolutionary steps originating with the music industry and state of heavy (i.e. not popular) music that began taking root in the early 70's, to the rise of indie labels and DIY ethics rising in the 80's, and right through the 90's with the continued paradoxical segregation, yet continuity of various sub-genres and styles that all kept the genuine spirit of creative freedom with dignity and esteem. Plus, it opens up a Pandora's box of underground bands worth digging into alongside the standard heavyweights like Saint Vitus, Sleep, Kyuss, Sunn O))), High on Fire, Acid King and Dead Meadow, among many others. Interesting sidetracks include a look behind the music scenes, the day to day lives and inspirations of these artists, and coverage of the leading artwork designers and journalists within the whole stoner/jam/psychedelic/desert/grunge/hard rock scene over the last half-century. Read more to watch the entire documentary, pack the bong and get comfortable, it's time to do some homework. Don't forget to support the artists and buy the DVD.

27 April 2012

Parasight, Pure Sight, Parasite, You will See


Mitochondrion (Canada)
Parasignosis
January 18, 2011

Cavernous occult death metal supreme. Absolve your will to this plague from within. Drink to the blood of stone, thirst to the bile of ash, feast on the flesh of iron, and reap and ignite the impure. The tomb from which this emanates consumes with vitriolic wisdom, pure deathly spirit that curses the crescent below the cross. The spear of Satan shall strike down Saturn, and the purity will melt your lead idol. Omnivorous and omnipresent teacher for the adept of high agony to transcend parasanity. Only pure order can come of this infinite consuming of the nature of the beast, the throne of the worm, the blood and sperm of God and the hallowed parasite. The All parallels the Fall. Much like the world's favourite beverage of consuming blackness, Parasignosis is for Strength. I'm catching these diabolical alchemists live tomorrow night, and this album has been on repeat all week. Take a listen and transcend this vile earthly realm. Become one of the eleven.

26 April 2012

Always Upon You, Light Never Ceases


Isis (USA)
Panopticon
October 19, 2004

The electric eye is all-seeing. No matter what you do, an electronic trail is left behind. Someone, somewhere is keeping tabs. Watching. Cold, distant and clinical voyeurism. Panopticon is the zenith of post metal. After tribal space sludge (Celestial) gained new life through a crash landing in the seas of the bermuda triangle (Oceanic), the invasion takes form as a transparent entity of modern artificial sourveillance and control over societal behaviour, conforming the path of mankind. However, the human touch is all but forgotten, as there is delicacy to be found here, a gentle touch that can only come from warm blood, as showcased particularly on the provocative crowning achievement of "So Did We" and the heartfelt transformative power of the instrumental "Altered Course." Distortion comes encrusted with a binary residue, a film of luminescence that is all seeing, and yet unseen. We cannot hide ourselves. Our souls rain down at the foot of authoritarian towers. Eyes unseen, they may be watching, perched upon grinning mouths and cancerous tongues. Resist. Listen. Read more.

25 April 2012

A Lesson in Violence



Exodus (USA)
Bonded by Blood
April 25, 1985

What if there was an album that had the recklessly driven enthusiasm of Kill 'em All, the gang mentality attitude of Fistful of Metal, the ambition and workingman class of Killing is My Business..., and the razor sharp murderous insanity of Haunting the Chapel? Well you get all that and more from Exodus' debut Bonded by Blood. Kirk Hammett-style (and -written) riffs chug out midrange pits of bloody slaughter-mosh, solos wailing back and forth, conversing with the screeching tongues of satanic demons. You know what you're getting with this, it's furious, it's youthful, violent as fuck and often overlooked. Highly influential Bay Area 80's thrash metal, over the top subject matter and stage presence contributed to style slowly emerging as death metal. Besides, get a load of that amazing cover artwork (which apparently may be what delayed the release for this for many months)! Now get on your knees and bow, or learn a lesson in violence!

24 April 2012

Where Only Spirits Walk Upon the Overgrown Paths



Walknut (Russia)
Graveforests and Their Shadows
April 24, 2007

Keep moving forward. What's done is done. Iron dreams propel momentum under grey skies heavy with ghosts and mystery. Death and tragedy lay as long forgotten songs, pungent with the smell of graves and autumn soil. Only the vast horrid woods speak out over endless fields and riverside barrows. Only the truths of their neverfading memories are heard. Acceptance will be granted to those who embrace the deadmen, the ghostmen, the wolfmen, the murderous haunting spirit of winter in us all. Martially driving rhythms command glorious ashen monoliths of pagan melodic sorcery. The constant forward motion from beginning to end anticipates a spiritual progression that awakens the senses to the silent witnesses of the grim woods throughout the rises and downfalls of the past. A thrust of stellar grief spills from the horned moon, illuminating the titanic ruins, cold as the hearts of men who have forgotten their roots. This solitary introspection is not a breezy meandering aloof self-analysis, it's a surging gale of empowerment and grounding force. The best Russian band I've ever heard, a project growing out of the obscurely influential Forest. For fans of nature based eastern European nationalistic black metal loosely along the lines of Drudkh, Hate Forest, Astrofaes, Burzum, etc. Just like Guinness, this is for strength. Read more for a listen.

23 April 2012

Alien Speaks



Oranssi Pazuzu (Finland)
Muukalainen Puhuu
April 22, 2009

Thrusted through the cosmos, a parallel universe, a mirage from 1968, but utterly alien. Raven guides the way, a black creature of ominous portent as wormholes engulf all that was thought of as real, swallowed through a vacuum of primordial consciousness, leaving nothing but a swirling halucinogenic maelstrom of Astronomy Domine fermentation, residing within a gaping black void of dark matter and cold atmosphere of Danjo's Zero. Cascades from the heavens occasionally strike amongst the stars with a disorienting feverish aura, while marching rhythms sweep forth out of extraterrestrial insectoid origins. Emanations of THC storms brood with ghostly calm and krautrock sessions of improvisational jam shuffles through extrasensory states of nodding astral dub, haunting visceral tribal trances and bleary malicious rave. Let this alien transmission speak to you, and travel to where evil has no name. You will trip hard on this black acid. The music sounds like what the cover artwork looks like.

20 April 2012

Attention All Planets of the Solar Federation


Rush (Canada)
2112
April 20, 1976

Happy 4:20 everyone. Happy birthday Hitler. Here's an old album worth blazing a fat one to. I already posted Rush's Fly By Night, which only hinted at what was to come from these crazy canucks, boasting a youthful exuberance and less of a direct focus. 2112 is where all the pieces fell into place. That cover has got to be one of the best classic rock covers of all time too. The title track takes up all of side one, a crazy rockin' psychedelic spacey prog rock epic. Wooo. Fuck yeah. The coolest album by Rush. Mandatory to any fan of hard rock/metal/prog. Anyways, I'm pretty preoccupied to write about this (cough), so read more for a stream and light one up. Then repeat.

19 April 2012

How Long Can You Hide

Leaving Eden
April, 2007

Not to get all sensitive on your ass, but today I'm leaving Eden with a brand of melancholic acoustic rock that aims to melt souls and tug on heartstrings. The city lights outside are low, and it looks like it's going to be another one of those rainy days again. Originally formed by the bassist/songwriter for Anathema, Duncan Patterson, Leaving Eden was released after his departure and remains the work of sole current member Mick Moss. The undercurrent of subtle electronic momentum (albeit slow moving) is used as a foundation for emotional dirges through a spectrum of greys. The quality of the songwriting is what keeps me listening to this mopefest, whether its the delicately tense and quiet melodies of "Ghosts," the eerie chilling ballad of "The Freak Show," or the depressive majesty of the title track in all its' guitar soloing glory. Minimalism is used extensively to allow for maximum impact, the guitar lines will absorb through the pores of the skin, making their way to the bloodstream, where the downcast effect is truly felt from within. Beautifully naked music, there's always a time and a place. Give it a listen below.

18 April 2012

I Wish to Be Alone with My God

Choronzon
November 4, 2003

Welcome to Satan's burlesque cabaret, hosted by none other than the Son of the Morning himself, Lucifer the Light-Bearing Fallen One. Hell's house band, Akercocke, the sharpest dressed men in death metal, will be providing tonight's soundtrack. Gentlemen and VIP only beyond this point. The blood of Christ shall be served all evening, aged over 2000 years to sinful perfection for only worthy occasions such as this. Only the finest of exotic dancers shall provide the entertainment; seduction and temptation know no bounds down here. Give in to your desires, and partake in deathly defilement. Bear witness to a head-spinning display of brutality with an un-fucking-touchable sense of class. Eternal black mass orgies shall follow as the after-party. Brutal avant-garde death metal, one of the best vocalists in the business and a subtle keen sense of progressive flair around the edges and a ruthless display of instrumental pyrotechnics. Light that cigar, this harem oasis amidst the desert of Hell awaits your presence.

17 April 2012

Everything is Falling, Can You See It?

White Tomb
April 17, 2009

One day, when everything collapses into chaos, Ireland's Altar of Plagues' sound will be known to all, as the embodiment of urban decay and complete deterioration of contemporary civilization. It will be felt beforehand, as a swelling shockwave in time of the disaster yet to come, but will strike with sudden urgency and overwhelming distress. Awareness comes slow, if at all. Regression to roots and bark will be a painful bloodletting of the land, but from the wounds will come grain again. The destruction of everything we know, the lands and seas opening great cracks in the earth where mankind gathers upon the cliffs under black clouds of ash and cast themselves to the abyss, reigns down until only silence and desolation remains. The mist chokes the land as the forces behind the waves, the forces from the skies, continue their relentless attack, a replenishment of primal wisdom, a truth to be grown out of the ruins. The atmosphere of this is bleak, and dense as concrete, but organic growth provides a warm pulse of inevitable cyclical cleansing. This plague is a purging. Realize our descent. Listen to this album below. Hugely influential and inspiring grimy blackened sludge post-doom apocalypse.

16 April 2012

Southern Sugar

South of Salem
2011

In a nutshell: Bluesy, soul-stirrin', hip-shakin', sexy swingin', southern-fried sludgy witch doom metal. This will keep that midnight oil burning strong and low all through the night. The sultry evocative vocals bring to mind Janis Joplin, and melt like hot wax over the steamy restraint of the seductive drum beats. Less is oh-so-much more with the smokey riffs made up of Black Sabbath, Goatsnake, Sleep and Electric Wizard. A hint of country twang and a heaping serving of lust-inflected blues show off the curves of this bewitching mistress of the night. An undercurrent of occult vibes blends well within this bubbly cauldron of analog spirits. Bask in this authentically vintage sound with herbal respite. Slow down and feel the mood massage its way from within, let it caress you with a warmth that craves to be shared amongst others. You don't choose to sway your being to these sensual rhythms; you just do. Burning under the sun after a hard day's work never felt so goddamn good. This comes highly recommended, read more for the stream.

13 April 2012

Altar of Blood, Altar of Pain

Asphyx (Netherlands)
The Rack
April 13, 1991

Fuck yeah, Friday the thirteenth! Let's bust out some old school death metal horror! So Asphyx have released their latest -post, -post, -post breakup album, Deathhammer, as everyone knows of course. I'm not a big fan of band reunions, or comeback albums, etc. It's not that I'm against the reasons for reforming or anything, or the idea behind coming back together to relive something long past or whatnot, I just find that in the vast majority of cases, the new albums suck compared to the old ones. To me that doesn't necessarily imply their reputation is tarnished in any way. If anything, it makes me listen back to the classics that much more. Granted, Asphyx have not been idle for a few years now, but they've got me pumping out their influential early-90's classics despite the wealth of new material. The Rack is a significant contribution particularly to the Netherlands extreme music scene, but also had far reaching impact elsewhere. They took an approach to death metal with a lot of punk attitude, combining bludgening post-Pestilence power and Van Drunen's unhinged vocal snarls ala Autopsy or Obituary, sped up Discharge-fed d-beat intensity with crushing epic Celtic Frost doom marches, all scoured in grimy crust. Worth it for the title track alone, it's a fucking beast. Stream below.

12 April 2012

Mix Tape: Jazz 2012


I've been noticing a lot more metalheads getting into jazz lately, though maybe that's also because I myself am only beginning to flex my newfound smoky suave lounge chaos muscle and have been opening my eyes to a rich oasis of new sounds foreign to my bloody and beaten down ears that have existed for all to find, but only if you're looking. I owe the great Aesop Dekker (of the infinitely amazing Cosmic Hearse, as well as current drummer for Agalloch and Worm Ouroboros) a heaping debt of gratitude for introducing, in a manner that I can relate to, the world of great jazz music. All of these songs came from his personal selections on his blog, so I suggest you take a ride on the Hearse if you haven't already. This mix will fit on a standard 80-minute CD. Try something new, I included a small writeup for each song, just read more for the goods. Light that cigar, swirl the ice in your glass and relax with my favourite collection of jazz.

11 April 2012

Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head

Astro-Creep: 2000
April 11, 1995

In my opinion, the best release Rob Zombie ever put his name to (Besides "Thunder Kiss '65" or "Black Sunshine"). I feel like it was around this time that the final nails in the smack-encrusted coffin that was American grunge (whom White Zombie very much influenced in the mid-80's) were hammered through cast-iron, piss and blood, and buried alive in the woods where nu-metal dumpster divers began taking root. But besides all that, I grew up during the 90's, so bands like this were somewhat of a stepping stone towards the madness and mayhem lurking just a bit deeper in the underground. Sure, there were a few embarrassing stumbles along the way, as anyone who's ever grown up will attest to, but listening back on this particular slab of horror-drenched white trash, there's a disturbingly alluring physical sleaze to such meat headed stomps through graveyards. Perfecting the formula that Ministry laid out, driven by a super-charged psychedelic hearse from the 60's and beefing up the commercial sensibilities of Alice Cooper and Kiss, with the depth and subtlety of any 70's slasher flick, this was made to enjoy at surface level, so leave your thinking at home, and dance the zombie shuffle. Read more to stream.

10 April 2012

The Place Seems Still Alive When the Smoke is Going Down

Scorpions (Germany)
Blackout
April 10, 1982

Arguably the highest regarded of Scorpions releases (though I do have a soft spot for In Trance and Lovedrive). These Germans took quite a while to gain recognition over seas due to limited early releases and banned controversial cover artwork. Before "Rock You Like a Hurricane" made them international superstars, "No One Like You" brought the first glimpse of savage glory well into their careers. Success came with the balance of catchy hard rock, the brief addition of Matthias Jabs' blazing fretboard assaults (they were quite reigned in compared to Michael Schenker's), and Klaus Meine's distinctively animalistic vocals. The sound seemed to follow the commercial success of Van Halen, but I will take this over the latter any day. Dumbass dad-metal hits like "Can't Live Without You" and "Arizona" tangle up against bar room bruisers like "Now!," "Dynamite" and "China White." No one will argue this was pretty tame in 1982, but it gave a reason to check out their stellar 70's releases that paved the way for teutonic proto-thrash. Make some love in the back of your car to this. Read more for the album stream.

6 April 2012

Waiting to Find What Sets You Free

Old Growth
February 5, 2008

Fuck yeah, today I got the day off work, so I'm heading out with some friends for the first camping trip of the year. I always listen to Dead Meadow when going out camping. Old Growth, in particular, suits the laid back freedom that only nature can provide. From the cruise down the most obscure backwoods logging road, beaming sun, warm breeze, glistening cold beer, to the acid-fried campfire-side jam-outs shared only with good buds, the animal kingdom and the illuminating tapestry of the stars above. Tonight it also happens to be a full moon, so there's no better choice to light the spark that will blaze the evening full of feral ritualistic hedonism and woodland debauchery than 60's-influenced stoner rock jamming out infectious blues/folk tinged pych rock similar in sound to Wolf People and Black Mountain, but paying homage to literary greats J. R. R. Tolkien and H.P. Lovecraft. The darkness of this band is implied but not necessarily blatantly portrayed, appealing to just about anyone who enjoys any kind of rock and roll throughout history. That includes you, I guarantee it. Read more and give it a try. Don't forget the bug spray.

5 April 2012

Start Saving for Your Funeral

When All Became None
April 5, 2010

Horror descends and madness takes control. Crusty doom sludge monster lurching through the sewers under the grey rainy city streets. Disease and stumbling disorientation overtakes with the odour of malicious intent. Occasional flashbacks of 'shroom-induced paranoia pump up the blood pressure, while a sonic freight train chugs through the skull. Psychosis takes reign over nihilistic attitude, channelling the fantasies of serial killers and other perverted scum of the earth. Becoming the lurching shit thumping urban monster of death and doom. The apocalypse will be brought with oceans of blood and terror. The cancer breeding forth from hearts of the cities becomes an epidemic. The sickening crushingly dense buildups of corpse intoxication continue to exchange with destructive stomping mosh fits of murder and cannibalism, spreading the plague further towards the death of all. This came out a couple years ago. Great band. Get high on the stench of this decay, and kill some zombies or something. Read more for the stream.

4 April 2012

If the Light Takes Us

Burzum (Norway)
Hvis Lyset Tar Oss
May 15, 1994

Well, it looks like Burzum is coming out with another new album next month, so I might as well get this post out of the way. For all intents and purposes, this album is absolutely mandatory. I don't care what your personal disposition is, if you even marginally enjoy any kind of black metal (or really anything remotely 'blackened'), this is a must-hear. While I regard the subsequent release, Filosofem as Varg Vikernes' absolute peak, it was also conceived as a backlash against the rising global popularity of the genre, whereas Hvis Lyset Tar Oss is the epitome never to be reached again for what black metal as a whole is all about. This is what it sounds like. This is what it represents. This is where it comes from. This is required listening. A solitary quest for answers, a bittersweet youthful rebellion against modernity, brooding atmosphere of distant hateful cold to the point of trance-like catharsis. The intensity and singularity of intent can capture equally both the dire fury and reflective solemnity of nature itself. Step inside and leave your politics at the door. Listen below, read more...

3 April 2012

Death Awaits You, What are You Waiting For?

Loss (USA)
Despond
May 31, 2011

Let us put to rest our silence. There is nothing cosmic about this. No divinity to be found here. No consciousness expansion or mystical secrets to be revealed. Flesh has been cut, blood has been shed, and only pain and deprivation provide company in the presence of absolute loneliness. Surrender is the only path out of this cold and damp black corner. Misery is the saviour dragging the noose around your neck towards the gaping void beyond. Choking desperation provides a tourniquet for the wounds that will never heal. Your vacant shell of a body will know sorrows not meant for the living. Sacrifice yourself, the curtains are falling. End it all before you know fear. If you saw the darkness before death, life fading before its last breath, then you would know. If you saw life without hope, death without reason, then you would know. Once you listen to last year's painfully beautiful catharsis of funeral doom excellence, then you would know...

2 April 2012

Star, Reign Down on You

Neurosis (USA)
Through Silver in Blood
April 2, 1996

Seeking shelter from the storm. Heart racing, the grinding of industrialized machinery crippling forth destruction of urban realities. Atmospheric forces of alien origin invade the senses, a chilling caress made manifest in a serpentine breeze, pulsating with shockwaves of malignant electrical energy, steals the breath right out of the lungs. Concrete collapsing all around, colours disintegrating with the hopes of survival. Flesh slowly decays and the veins of the soul begin to leak streams of translucent matter, surging forth from the oil fed furnace of iron pumping hearts to the open abyss of the sea of spirituality that is blanketing the world in unified breakdown, global decay and regression towards the one true centre. A return to the soil, a return to stone. Doom encrusted within a tribal trance, ebbing and flowing amongst primordial truths and instincts long since systematically eradicated from human consciousness. The sun pierces the sky, scarring the black with the luminescence of stars. A death of the self, a death of the ego. Rebirth of enlightenment. Listen to Neurosis' finest hour below. Not for the weak.

30 March 2012

Time of Zombi Troubles

Zombi (USA)
Escape Velocity
May 10, 2011

Kind of like a dance club mix of classic underground horror, suspense, and sci-fi film soundtracks by Goblin and the like, straight out of 1984, but given a boost of energy with the lockdown foundation of cleverly arranged drum patterns that manage to structure subtle buildups and climaxes as cascades of spacey retro synths colour the skies above and stream like a breeze of lazer beams as piercing to the flesh as they are the cognitive faculties in charge of memories and emotions. I've never heard of these guys before. In fact I've never really heard anything quite like this ever. It's not for everyone, but I find an intriguing pull towards these dreamy lazer light shows. Maybe it's the undercurrent of menace always lurking just behind your back like the feeling of being watched, while at the same time soaring through Sega Genesis worlds full in all their epileptic 16-bit glory. Think Blade Runner, 1984, Escape from New York, Cannibal Holocaust, etc. For fans of retro throwbacks, old school thriller soundtracks, and dark synth electronica music. It's a trip.

29 March 2012

Sacrifice is Going On Tonight

The Number of the Beast
March 22, 1982

Everyone that listens to metal loves Iron Maiden unconditionally. I personally think they're a wee bit overrated, but the first three albums at least had some reputable significance. I'm not going to write much about this one. It's a classic, that's a fact. It's influence is inarguable. I prefer the more raw and aggressive style of metal, early Priest, Angel Witch, Motörhead, Diamond Head, Venom, etc. But because of bands like Iron Maiden, I can publicly flaunt my love of grimness without the one-way ticket to shrink town. And I do have a soft spot for genuine heavy metal, and 35 years ago The Number of the Beast was a legitimate threat. To someone out there, anyways. Oh well, today I'm spinning it again and not thinking twice. Bottoms up.

28 March 2012

Seven Psalms for Our Lord of Light

Crippled Lucifer
March 28, 1998

Ladies and gentlemen, the legendary Burning Witch. The embryonic minds behind the creations of Khanate, SunnO))), Asva and Goatsnake briefly came together to produce one metric fuck-tonne of a behemoth amongst influential extreme doom/stoner releases. Crippled Lucifer is a collection of rotten sludgy death dirges written around 1996-1997 and released after they broke up, and was significant to the growth of the esteemed Southern Lord Records as it was just starting out. This is a bad acid trip through hell, where the weed is tainted with decay, and the air is thick with the ghastly musk of bloody concrete and urban death. Swampy riffs trudge through graveyard quicksand beneath shrieks of possessed apocalyptic demons. Feedback and chaos strike through the seams of the voids between each passing crush of seismic distortion. A wasteland worth acquiring the taste for, even if only for the historic impact. Pack the bong for this one, and let the crippling begin...

27 March 2012

Burial at Sognefjorden

Windir (Norway)
Likferd
March 27, 2003

The late primal warrior Valfar's final gift to the earthly realm was a resonant swansong of Windir, a masterful homage to his homeland, Norway. Norse and viking heritage provides the pulse and the life blood of all releases by Windir, and here, such rich emotional tapestries are carefully composed on the scale of symphonies to an utterly astounding achievement to which all current forms of viking/Norse/historic/folk metal albums strive to compare. Valfar's fierce and admiral persona is portrayed with magnificence amongst the lyrical content and noble ideals represented through selected artworks and the driving current of the general themes and sense of (in)humanity weaving throughout this work. Despite the electronic experimentation that blossoms around the edges of much of the tracks, there is an aura of delicate grace and humble pride noticibly absent in most of today's regurgitations of 90's romanticized odes to times long past. Though pummelling aggression, such as found in "Despot" and "On the Mountain of Goats," flaunt a merciless strength of character and backbone. Today, remember a fallen star with a listen. RIP.

26 March 2012

My Blood, a Swirling Vortex of Space

Stargazer (Australia)
A Great Work of Ages
August, 2010

Like a crustacean from prehistoric times slowly being weathered away, slowly formed and carved out through time, and through the ages, refined with the delicate touch of mystical healing men and various divinatory mediums between the cosmos and the earth and imbued with the power of storytellers and mythmakers of old, whose tales and truths have come to identify cultures and identities of mankind all over the world. This is fractal thrash from Australia, sharing members with the mind fucking Impetuous Ritual and Portal. There's a distinct scope of grandness contained and refracted into digestible slices of jazzy deathy entropy. See, for example, the multidimensional fractal bloom of "Chase for the Serpentsong". The intent seems prehistoric, and reptillian in execution, as riffs slither and twist to form with a primal sheen of when today's crude were actually multi-ton pre-aviary lizard behemoths. Technical and very jazzy (especially with drums and bass), but still able to dish out some hard driven thrash mania, as exemplified in "Pypes of Psychosomatis". One of the best releases of 2010 for sure. Take a listen below.

23 March 2012

Tyrant, Every Man Shall Fall

Sad Wings of Destiny
March 23, 1976

In my opinion, by far the most important and most influential Judas Priest album, and a monumental impression on the growth of heavy metal as a whole. Epic opener "Victim of Changes" sets the bar for badass attitude, feral fretboard mutilation and unheard of vocal acrobatics, and continues to be the best song they bust out live to this day. "The Ripper" prowls with midnight menace before "Dreamer Deceiver" slowly rises out of the psychedelic shadows that nightmares are made of into a spine chilling crescendo, charging right into the balls-out heaviest song on the album, "Deceiver". Side 2 opens with the musky and gothic "Prelude" before kicking into my absolute favourite Judas Priest song of all time, "Tyrant". This is classic heavy fucking metal, immaculately composed, hummable solos, anthemic chorus, chugging rhythms, and bloodlust ripping through the seams. "Genocide" is a bluesy bar rockin' number and "Epitaph" is the obligatory piano-driven cheese ballad. "Island of Domination" finishes things off with a confident upbeat stomp that even wades sadistically through some proto doom riffs that Black Sabbath wished had written. 36 years later, this is mandatory.

22 March 2012

Downward Spiral Into Madness

Anata (Sweden)
The Conductor's Departure
June 12, 2006

I realized I haven't posted a whole lot of death metal yet, and it's certainly a genre I'm a huge fan of, but technical death metal in particular is very finicky (I generally prefer the cavernous hell swamps drawn from the schools of Incantation and Immolation). One of the easiest genres to pump out material, but one of the hardest genres to make an original statement. Anata disbanded for quite some time, but recently got back together and will be releasing a new album this year. This is all at once, brutally heavy, possessing the perfect production for this style (clean enough to capture every note played as tight as a duck's arse, but not overdone to showcase that real humans are playing), yet with just enough of a touch of emotional attachment especially in the lyrics--which are very uncharacteristic for the genre--but also in the carefully constructed melodic depth that is initially hard to detect but surfaces the more you listen. This is what gives it such replayability as opposed to the dime-a-dozen pubescent tech death circle jerks that crowd up all the malls and mainstream magazines. Take a listen or 10 after clicking 'read more'. It's better to be grieved than fooled.

21 March 2012

Mix Tape: Spring 2012


Here's a fresh mix for Spring. I have compiled this mix to fit a regular 80 minute CD, so some songs have been modified to fit better. This mix focuses a bit more on recent (2011, 2012) releases, including some great debuts that have piqued my interest. Its got everything from grim winter black metal to summer time cruising stoner rock. Read more for a brief writeup on the selected tracks. I hope you enjoy listening.

20 March 2012

It was All Very Sudden

Rituals (USA)
Rituals
March 20, 2012

Everything about this package had me drawn towards it. From the smoky ambience of the artwork's abstract depth of the flesh of ghosts, the ambiguously occult name of Rituals, right down to the effectively post-blackened font, I knew I was going to enjoy this. I could describe the music as down tempo atmospheric apocalyptic post-doom with soaring ethereal leads ala Year of No Light or even Godspeed You! Black Emperor in the cinematic scope of the arrangements, using textbook examples of post-rock dynamics, of buildups and release. The subterranean, ritualistic rhythms pounded out by drums and bass from the depths of the underworld create the firmament unto which the dying rays of a burnt out sun gleam with decrepit radiance in the form of cerebral tremolo auroras. The music really fits the vast and barren land from which it comes. Listen to this as you doze off to sleep, or have it provide a background accompaniment to some artistic endeavor, and good things will come. Read more to listen.

19 March 2012

Under Swirling Moons and Galaxies

Sorrow and Extinction
February 21, 2012

Until Ahab slowly sails forth its latest material, I will very happily whet my appetite with Pallbearer. In fact, Ahab can take their time at this point, because this absolutely stunning piece of emotionally devastating craftsmanship has set the bar mighty fucking deep this year for doooooom as far as I'm concerned. The album art is a telling omen. I can't believe how crushingly awesome this sounds and it seemingly came out of nowhere (Arkansas, really?). I will easily and without a second thought place these guys amongst the ranks of the aforementioned Ahab, Warning/40 Watt Sun, hell even the almighty Candlemass. Comparisons could also be made to The Wounded Kings in the cloudy mysterious atmosphere, and even a bit of Ufomammut in the psychedelic leads, but with a fresh outlook on the genre, yet sounding just familiar enough to be grippingly desirable. Listen to what it sounds like to bear the weight of a sonic blanket stitched from the most desolate corners of the cosmos as it pulses with the secrets of omniscience. Best release of 2012 so far. Read more for a listen.


16 March 2012

The Wilderness is Gathering All Its Children In

Primordial (Ireland)
The Gathering Wilderness
February 7, 2005

Well, tomorrow is the big day where everyone drinks their faces off and allows the inner Irish to shine their most deepest shade of emerald. A great excuse to bust out some aged whiskey and jig around like mongoloid leprechauns and reacquaint ourselves with porcelain thrones all over the world (more so than any other regular day, I suppose). When I think of Ireland I think of Primordial (...and drinking). When I think of Primordial I think of The Gathering Wilderness (...and drinking). Despite the strong current of Primordial's homeland providing the wind in the sails of this coffin ship, these epic storytelling odes swell with the universal resonance of nature and mankind's place within it as a whole, going beyond any particular history, but treading the myths that have formed us all. The knots may be Celtic, but the threads are literally primordial. So raise a glass, to all we live for, to all that's worth dying for, to brothers and sisters, to fallen comrades before us, to necessary struggles and pride for our glories. Make a toast, raise your voices, for we remain bloodied yet unbowed. Read more for Primordial's jaw-dropping, heart-wrenching, crowning achievement. Sing to the bitter end.

15 March 2012

The End of Night

Locrian (USA)
The Crystal World
November 25, 2010

To be honest, I've been having a hard time with this one, but in a way that drives my intrigue to solve the mysterious riddles fragmented throughout this cinematic ambient soundscape. Of course, there are no definable answers, much like the infinite reasons for the meanings of life. I feel so strongly about it, but have a hard time finding the proper way to describe it. One way I could put it is with an analogy with the law of alchemical physics that states that energy can only be transformed from one form to another, but not created out of nothing. This process is exemplified through Locrian's The Crystal World. Where ugliness can be terraformed into beauty, and from the energy expelled through anguish and surrender can gestate into a form of hope and the realization of optimism. It simultaneously channels the unclean spirit of mankind on earth and a profound alien signal interception from deep space. The cover art is fucking magnificent and suits the drones found therein. In the end, a simple proverb comes to mind: it's not about the destination or the answers, its the journey you go through to get there, the meditation, the questions. Listen alone, at midnight, during a full moon. Read more for a stream.

14 March 2012

You Can't Resist It's Thrashing Rage

Voivod (Canada)
Rrröööaaarrr
March 14, 1986

1986 was arguably the biggest year in heavy metal history. Today I'm shining a light on Voivod's underrated maelstrom of frantic thrash madness. It's easy to see why attention was directed elsewhere at the time, and you don't need me to point anything in particular out. Voivod were ugly French Canadian pimply faced juveniles that followed in the footsteps of Celtic Frost and at this point had more in common with the German scene (Destruction, Sodom, Kreator) than the American scene (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer) before they ever busted out the proggy Floydisms. Their methods of mayhem were more blunt and less abstract, it was all about the hunt, the fight, the kill. Mundane brutality that can only be captured and represented through pissed off and piss drunk youth. Hiding behind Satan was for wimps, and tackling real world disorders and politics was for posers. Anyone can tap into this primal force, but it can only be portrayed through uncompromising conviction, which is where Voivod excelled and is renowned for. Mosh, fight, fuck, thrash, destroy, kill, hate, rage, burn, break, speed, get it all out of your system. Listen below. Fuck off and die.

13 March 2012

We are Just Cut-Throat, Worshipping Sin

Bulldozer (Italy)
The Day of Wrath
March 13, 1985

Bulldozer's roots stretch way back to 1980, but for various reasons and circumstances, took 4 years to stabilize the lineup and release their debut material, resulting in 1985's infamous The Day of Wrath. For all intents and purposes, this is primitive proto black metal, in its gloriously neanderthal infancy. Imagine a dirtier uglier more obnoxious Venom, but unlike the Brits, have only grown in credibility with their influences on the extreme metal underground. Besides, how can you not expect anything but pure raw sick and twisted excellence with a cover like that? The tunes are backed with whiskey-breath over-the-top attitude ("Cut-Throat", "Whisky Time"), motör powered hellspeed ("Fallen Angel", "The Great Deceiver") and straight up black mass rock and roll ("Insurrection of the Living Damned", "Welcome Death"). Grab a beer and celebrate the birthday of a mildly significant, yet thoroughly fucking awesome piece of obscure metal history. Read more for an album stream.

12 March 2012

Ascend, Oh Beast of Fire

Portrait (Sweden)
Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae
May 9, 2011

Here's how to keep the spirit of true satanic heavy metal burning strong in a world plagued with enslavement, plight and false light. Throw that raggedy leather jacket back on, and don your occult paraphernalia for this one, because hellfire this magnificent is a luxury best served fatally skull thrashed in all manner of blackened damnation. Right out of the gates, "Beast of Fire" rips to shreds anyone within burning distance, setting aflame Mercyful Fate's midnight storytelling with the corrosive venom of Satan's hounds. "Infinite Descension" is the most like King Diamond's material, torn from the flesh of the 80's with murderous intentions. Darkness reigns over these sounds, the blues have been effectively annihilated as acoustic flares stand out in "The Wilderness Beyond" and "Darkness Forever". Landscapes of sorrow and shores of hopelessness are the eternal horizons showcased on the epic prophetic Dissection-channeling finale, "Der Todesking". Fucking tasty. Hail Satan and all that other cool shit. Read more to listen...

9 March 2012

I Lose, You Win

D.R.I. (USA)
Crossover
March 9, 1987

Let me break it to you. I don't listen to much hardcore. I never liked how politically engaged punk was, I couldn't see through the dress code, and could never grasp the individualities (or lack thereof) of the songs themselves. They all kind of blended together to me. Not to mention that the skids and burnouts who endorsed the genre where I grew up were the most worthless, whiny, dirty, rotten imbeciles I came across. Well, some things change. No, I still don't listen to much hardcore, but when I do, it's got to be dark, it's got to be bold, and it's got to have some kind of crossover appeal with metal. Personal taste. So DRI is one of my go-to bands for a good skate thrash beatdown. These guys thrash hard. Their metal cred is substantial, they literally (supposedly) coined the term 'Crossover', inevitably leading to the -core suffix thrown about all over the place in today's metal world, they were signed to Metal Blade, Slayer were fans, etc. The message is positive, the tunes are gnarly, fuck the system, fuck religion, and fuck the man. Listen to D.R.I.

8 March 2012

Destroy Their Modern Metal and Bang Your Fucking Head

Darkthrone (Norway)
Circle the Wagons
March 8, 2010

Darkthrone, of course, need no introduction. In fact, Darkthrone don't even need to be talked about, they're a mainstay. Circle the Wagons came out a couple years ago, and seems to justify how sirs Nocturno Culto and Fenriz have only been getting better and better. This is working class black 'n roll, a full moon escape into the woods after another bullshit week goes by where hedonism reigns supreme, and whiskey flows freely through the streams. The more they wear their crusty Motörhead by way of Manilla Road influences on their beer soaked sleeves, the more of their true sound is defined. Well, its off to work I go, take a listen below...

7 March 2012

Triumph of Death

Hellhammer (Switzerland)
Apocalyptic Raids
March 7, 1984

Apocalyptic Raids is one of the most important releases as far as the evolution of extreme metal is concerned. Despite being but a minor blip on the radar at the time of its release, this demo EP provided a schockwave that, along with Venom, Bathory and Bulldozer collectively became the first wave of black metal. This was released only a couple months before the partnership between Martin Eric Ain and Tom G. Warrior overflowed the confines of Hellhammer and began the next chapter as Celtic Frost. Despite Warrior's supposedly unfavourable hindsight towards his early work, this was some of the most extreme music ever heard at the time. Early use of the gothic black metal font, hideous depiction of a hyperphallic demon drawn by Warrior himself, the demented sonic madness, overtones of psychopathy, etc. Euronymous, of Mayhem, was inspired to name himself from the disturbingly masochistic centrepiece "Triumph of Death". 28 years later, the reek of death permeating through today's lo-fi, death metal, chunky crust, black metal, filthy doom and other morbid combinations continues to owe their existence to this gloriously foul collective. Read more for a history lesson...

6 March 2012

The Corascene Earth

Earth (USA)
Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II
February 14, 2012

Earth's second half of the Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light double album (the first half was released last year) continues to sound like a western straight out of antiquity, it's got the distinctly Americana twang of rocking-chair-on-the-porch solitary drones, a calm and hypnotic balancing waltz between the dark angels and the light demons. This music feels grounding, a 45 minute introspection after the dust settles. This metaphorical dust had been whipped up in a storm of emotions coming to terms with the futility -- and necessity -- of moving on, day by day, slow growth. Old growth. This is not about the songs, this is about the sounds. The fragments of 'hooks' are particular fleeting string bends, or a subtle crest of a warm updraft in the form of a background cymbal crash, the slow ebb and flow of waltzing clouds of the blues. Truly saying a lot with minimal use of sounds. If you listen intently, you find yourself anticipating the gorgeous textures that momentarily peak with acute awareness, though if you listen passively in the background you subconsciously soak in vivid and broad landscapes into the canvas of your mind. Read on to stream the album...


5 March 2012

Guided Through Visionary Flames

The Chasm (Mexico)
Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm
September 19, 2009

Here's one of my favorite releases of all time. The Chasm originated in Mexico, but since 1997 have been operating out of Chicago, yet I still consider them as Mexican. Mostly instrumental, predominantly mid paced death/thrash that is progressively composed and arranged, epic in scope, and spiritually visionary. Unbelievably tasty riffs are conjured forth from the constellations through the embodiment of ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations in an stunningly effortless display of absolutely flawless, intricately serpentine mastercraft. Unspeakably overlooked, yet its appreciation cannot be overstated. This mesmerizing molten miasma of monolithic music takes you somewhere else, on a voyage through superior dimensions upon shoreless tides to rest so far from home, where the sun and the moon are corroding, the final time to liberate and to unveil the code to open the final gate. Also, this happens to be a great album to go for a run to, oddly enough. Read more and indulge in a fiery rebirth.

2 March 2012

These Go to Eleven

Spinal Tap (UK)
This is Spinal Tap
March 2, 1984

On this day 28 years ago Spinal Tap came out. I have compiled a large selection of most of the funny/memorable moments from the film. If you have not seen this, here's the cheat sheet to get through your homework. This is absolutely mandatory. Check out this little teaser here, then roll up a fatty and read more for the rest.


1 March 2012

We're in the Shadow of a Dying World

Subrosa (USA)
No Help for the Mighty Ones
March 1, 2011

Music that sounds just as drained of colour as the day outside, like the heavy ceiling of endless grey clouds themselves are a vacuum, a parallel plane of inverted metaphysics, that slowly inhale the particles of hue and saturation, in exchange for gentle offerings of pale flakes of frozen spirits. There's something of almost religious significance to this. It's a gorgeous swell of surreality. Violins provide solace amongst the barren urban decay in the physical caress of winding streams, the softly blowing breeze as it pours forth from the furnace of burning hope, kept alit with the passion of struggling forth when everything starts looking the same. There's a happy ending out there somewhere, you can feel it, you can sense it. Squint amidst the mysticism, and bleed out the bleak because this doom is veiled in secrets and signs. Subrosa released this gem last year, one of the best pieces of musical art to reach my ears in a long time. The concept, the unique sound, the artwork, the whole package really nails it home for me. Bleak post-apocalyptic doom, a fitting theme for the current epidemic of end of the world themed media all of a sudden. The soundtrack to a dying earth. It is 2012 after all, so we shall see. You need to hear this. Stream it below.

29 February 2012

Black Birds Descend Down Upon Everything

Totem
April 27, 2007

Enter a shamanic realm where only through death is enlightenment achieved. To aid this spiritual journey, a hefty dose of alchemical potions is required to be injested. Amongst such concoctions as blood of the lion, ethers that have been passed on through generations of easy riders, Navajo mescaline teas and psilocybin elixers, the transcendent sounds of pre-Jex Thoth cult Totem play host to the events of the Styx-like crossing between the earthly and celestial planes. This midnight fire burns with the ghostly breath of Charles Manson, fueled with the mystical kindling sprouted around Lee Dorrian's Cathedral. The Goddess of the earth is spoken through the overwhelmingly sexy voice of Jex Thoth, Medusa-like in its power to stop you in your tracks, overcome with awe-struck wonder and bewildered seduction. Listen to the psychedelic sounds of a druid black mass under a full moon in the Arizona desert. It's magical. Read more to begin...

28 February 2012

Carved into Air

Dornenreich (Austria)
In Luft Geritzt
May 9, 2008

Sometimes I feel compelled to back off the abrasiveness in my audio intake. A little jazz here, maybe some ambient there, it all keeps the cycles flowing. Variety is a spice becoming much more exotic over time, it seems. Maybe that's just the mood I'm in while I write this. Regardless, I always admire Dornenreich's finesse with regards to unleashing their bold yet exceptionally rich duality between elegant acoustic neo folk and magnificently menacing black metal. Generally they are probably more known as a blackened neo folk metal band (But who knows?), though the focus of this post is on their entirely acoustic folk album In Luft Geritzt, a passionate showcase of cultural expressionism, driven by the intimacy of thoughtful guitars with whispered recitations, and steered by the emotionally gripping leads of violin and cello. Moments of aggression do occasionally boil over the pot of stirred feelings within the drama of unfolding love ("Unruhe", "Sehnlauf", "Meer"), there's an almost sexual tension to the push and pull waltz of "Freitanz", though elated triumph is never far away ("Drang", "Flügel in Fels", "Aufbruch"), all the while, a sublime ray of mystical romantic illumination breathes life unbound by time throughout the gentle earthen compositions. Refresh your spirits with this elixer of golden sound. Listen below.

27 February 2012

Oh, Ye Great Mysterious Shepherd of Waves

Ahab (Germany)
The Call of the Wretched Sea
September 29, 2006

Okay, so this really should have been my very first post for this blog. As far as I'm concerned, Ahab is on a whole different ship when it comes to music. Their debut, The Call of the Wretched Sea is an absolute behemoth that needs to be heard by absolutely everyone. I cannot overstate this. Majestic nautical funeral dooooom of the most crushing magnitude, all based on Charles Dickens' classic Moby Dick. You just can't beat this kind of class. Once in a very long while you find a band that perfectly encapsulates the very idea of 'awesome' in the most literal sense. The weight of all the oceans in the world is felt within these seven magnificent and elegantly written tunes. Delicately submerged ghostly whale songs whistle eerily calm odes to all that has been before and all that will ever remain amidst the blackest deepest canyons of the seas, never before charted by any man. Discover new depths of awareness, sunken treasures await you. Monolithic slabs of eternal enchantment, older than time, deceptively beautiful in a realm easily mistaken for otherworldy. This is doom metal royalty, pay your respects and listen to this masterpiece below.

24 February 2012

Chilled to the Bone

The Chills
January 2, 2012

Check out this old school death metal project that's been rocking the fuck out of my world lately. 'Ripped to Shreds' just drips with early At the Gates style but with more of an Autopsy-like unhinged menace, while 'Altars' trots along like a rabid pale horse just seething with bile and disease. 'The Somber (Desolate Winds)' was featured in my February 2012 mix tape, and showcases the maturity thats well beyond the members' years, and 'The Eye of Madness' is an epic jaw dropping clinic to those exhuming the corpses of filthy soundwaves exhibited by early Entombed, Obituary and Pestilence. This is some fresh, tasty, savoury tenderloin cuts, I can't get enough of the gnarly horrific atmosphere and the all-around badassery on display here. I have a feeling this will be one of the top albums of the year for me. What's up with all these amazing debuts coming out all of a sudden!? Keep them coming, good music will never die. Listen to this album below. Then buy it right away.

23 February 2012

Rhododendoom in the Verdent Realm

Botanist (USA)
I: The Suicide Tree/II: A Rose from the Dead
July 2, 2011

The only instruments are drums, vocals and hammered dulcimer, which kind of sounds like a haunted piano going through an octaver pedal, which makes this the most organic black metal project I've ever heard of, no need for distortion, electricity, or much technology at all, the guy could pack his equipment and trek to the most secluded isolated cave in the deepest darkest forest and sound just like the album. Grindcore arrangements, black metal textures, and botanical aesthetics. Truly unique today. Gives me the impression of praying mantises, stick bugs, venus flytraps marching towards insect warfare. Creepy, unsettling vibes, like an accompaniment to a vintage silent black and white film depicting our world as a living, breathing organism where insects perform the job of white blood cells and eradicate the virus that is humanity. Or perhaps one of those National Geographic shots where they speed up the time of some kind of animal carcass getting eaten way and decays into the soil. Vile, venomous, and virulent. The lyrics read like a botanical encyclopedia. Definitely an acquired taste, but all the better for it. The second album, II: A Rose from the Dead shows noticeable improvements in overall song writing and cohesiveness from beginning to end. Read about the concept of the Botanist and the universe he exists in, the Verdent Realm, here. Read more to listen...

22 February 2012

Living Life Beneath the Hammer

Enslaved (Norway)
Vikingligr Veldi
February 22, 1994

Yesterday I posted Emperor's 1994 full length debut. Today, it's the equally mandatory debut full length by Enslaved, which was released the day after Emperor's. This is a good comparison between albums. I find Enslaved has a warmer sound on this release. Whereas Emperor had a focus on the overtly occult/magical realm of subject matter, and instrumental technicality that forces closer analysis and a more inward, exclusive disposition, Enslaved differed themselves from most of the big names of the second wave of black metal through their emphasis on more of a natural homeland or viking perspective from the get-go, conveying a broader outlook, with simplicity in repetition and a more outward yet inclusive disposition. Musically, this is some of the earliest threads of what would eventually weave into the mossy tapestry of recent American waves of black metal (Weakling, Wolves in the Throne Room), spun from the very locks of Odin that are used today in Norse or pagan oriented black metal (Drudkh, Winterfylleth), but washed in a mildly hallucinogenic witches brew that's shared around amongst more avant-garde or progressive black metal bands (Sorgeldom, early Blut aus Nord). This can easily be played as an ambient stargazing album. Read more for the full stream, I highly recommend it.

21 February 2012

My Wizards are Many, but Their Essence is Mine

Emperor (Norway)
In the Nightside Eclipse
February 21, 1994

Out of the familiar Norwegian bands of black metal's second wave (Mayhem, Burzum, Gorgoroth, Enslaved, Immortal, Satyricon), I find Emperor to be of conceptually higher class. Their debut, Into the Nightside Eclipse is an untouchable masterpiece. There is something noticeably romantic about the gothic symphonic elements inherited directly from King Diamond, and ambitious, epic songcraft. Indeed, the compositions often rival those of full blown orchestras in their depth of scope and density of instrumentation. It can sound downright religious at times, that is, if you are capable of gasping through the suffocating constriction of such an all-out assault. Just listen to "Cosmic Keys to My Creations and Times". Thankfully the menacingly grim attitude of drummer Faust and rhythm guitarist Samoth kept the reigns on Ihsahn's bombastic persona, keeping the sound grounded firmly in the grim and trve end of the black metal spectrum (as opposed to the cheap hollow sideshow thrills offered by Cradle of Filth, for an unfortunate example). The cover art is also suitably grandiose for the music. Bask in the world "Beyond the Great Vast Forest", under "The Majesty of the Nightsky". This is black metal royalty. "I am the Black Wizards". Indeed.