29 February 2012

Black Birds Descend Down Upon Everything

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", "Fl├╝gel 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.

20 February 2012

Nearly Flying

Manes (Norway)
May 2003

Goddamn, it's one of those mornings today. No sleep last night, uncomfortable dreams poking their way into my unwilling head, early to work this morning, you know how it is. I had another post all worked out for today but I'm scrapping that one for this one. I need a pick-me-up, and considering I had the best day snowboarding on the weekend, I couldn't pick a better album than Manes' 2003 turning point album
Vilosophe. The easy gliding electronic influences like a velvet shroud blanketing the frigid blackened core goes down so naturally while sliding down a frozen mountain. And it tends to get me thinking no matter how rough my morning could get, no matter how hard my hangover can dictate my thought process and motor skills, it could be worse. That clever beast of Irony never fails to slap a cheeky smirk on my face. Is that the best you got? I'm still standing and shit will still get done. By the time "Diving with Your Hands Bound" slogs its way through one hell of a snow storm, I can reflect a bit easier, 'cuz its you and I, baby. You and I fought everyone. You and I forever. Stop it now, come, let's go...

17 February 2012

But in That Fatal Portrait, My Spirit Came to Life Again

King Diamond (Denmark)
Fatal Portrait
February 17, 1986

It's time to send your mind on a trip into the land of dreams and mist. Before there was Ghost, before there was Emperor, and even before there was Bathory, there was a small satanic cult called Mercyful Fate. The leader of this nefarious band was the banshee ghost pitched King Diamond. In 1986, the King, having split from the others, released his first solo collection of odes to all things evil, dark and occult. The works of this infamous ringleader during the mid-80's from both bands are probably my favorites of the classic heavy metal style in general. The degree to which everything is so over-the-top and yet so iconic is surely commendable. By the first sounding of the 'ooohhhhs' in The Candle, like a choir of hallowed hellcrows, you will either love it or hate it. Proto black metal witch shrieks surface in The Jonah while the bombastic 80's is made manifest in the catchy melodies of Dressed in White and the anthemic Halloween. Read more and listen to this classic.

16 February 2012

Black Metal 101 with Your Host, Fenriz

Here's your definitive course on the history of black metal. The one and only Fenriz of Darkthrone is your host, as he outlines the general evolution beginning with Black Sabbath, and traces various threads of influence that have seeped into the mix throughout the 80's, highlighting a broad spectrum of prominent artists, and a who's who of the first and second waves up until around 1991-1992. He provides a wealth of homework to look into, a comprehensive list of notable bands to be aware of, including such obscurities and personal favorites as Bulldozer, Sarcofago and Hellhammer, among others. The course concludes with the explosion of the scene when it truly becomes global and difficult, if not impossible, to catalog each and every contributing band and where fragmentations and subscenes/subgenres split apart like fractals. I recommend giving this a watch, it's worth the insight and will keep you busy with new discoveries, all worth checking out. Class starts here. Read more for the videos...

15 February 2012

Fly by Night, Away from Here

Rush (Canada)
Fly by Night
February 15, 1975

Listening back to this underrated album, which came out on this day 37 years ago, really reestablishes my appreciation of Rush as a band. This was some heavy shit back then, the overall presentation is dark and mysterious, yet the content remains defiantly positive in nature. The standout centrepiece of the album, By-Tor & the Snow Dog, is a focus on the more darker subject matter, a tale of a heroic snow dog that saves the world from the prince of Hell. Truly epic. Musically, its just dripping with black mass atmosphere, with the ghostly squeals of shadows in battle with the light. For the most part, I find the music outplays the lyrics overall, Neil Peart is a beast behind the kit, and and indeed the trio as a whole rock out with a looseness and a more immediate sense of aggressiveness (that inevitably began to get reigned in), paving the way for the emergence of heavy, fast and more technical players and sub genres in their wake. Certainly one of the most, if not the most, significant Canadian band in the evolution of heavy metal. Take a listen.

14 February 2012

With Every Deep Happiness There's Some Kind of Pain

The Inside Room
March 4, 2011

Hey, it's that national capitalistic waste of a holiday today, just when you thought you've crawled your way out of debt from xmas, BAM, you feel obligated to bust whatever load you've since accumulated all over your loved one and its back to square one. However, this is beautiful music. Nostalgic, yet mildly regretful, hindsight can be bittersweet, always in light of what could have been said better, what could have been let go sooner, what could have been found before it was lost. This is music for passionate couples, and music for lonely singles (or maybe that should be lonely couples and passionate singles). Music for the break of dawn and the twilight of dusk. A walk through the park in the fall or a drive through the country in the spring. Hopelessly in love, heart-wrenchingly comforting. Everyone goes through all of this. Just not all the time. You will enjoy this when (if) you feel it. Either way, you will be excused from all the bullshit surrounding today once you let this bleak little gem take it all away. Stream the album below.

13 February 2012

What's This, That Stands Before Me?

Black Sabbath
February 13, 1970

Happy birthday, heavy metal. 42 years young and counting. I don't need to say anything, as its all been said before, and will be retold until the end of time. All you need to hear are the 3 very first ominous notes to come out of the speakers and fate is sealed. This was the crossroads where the blues and rock and roll had aborted its unwanted dreary monstrosity of a fetus, left it alone in the darkness of midnight to fend for itself and adapt to the left hand path's malnourishment of nonconformity and fuzzed out 'Fuck You' attitude. You can argue that other more obscure bands paved the way for metal earlier than Sabbath (Coven, Black Widow, Lucifer's Friend, etc.), though none had the far-reaching influence, and exceptionally palatable darker occult themes that have become a mainstay in extreme forms of music. Take any metal band today and you can trace each and every riff back to Black Sabbath in some way. But what are you reading this for, you already know that. Take a listen down memory lane:

10 February 2012

Temples of Painted and Defleshed Bones

Dodecahedron (Netherlands)
January 20, 2012

So this is one of my favorite releases so far from 2012. I hate to add to the Deathspell Omega comparisons flying all over the blogosphere, but the influence is undeniable (Listen to I, Chronocrator). These guys seem far more approachable, however, with a more exciting jazzy core, most prominently shown off with the drumming. However, whereas DsO strangles and can wring out of your neck a soaring cerebral apocalyptic melody amidst the chaos, these geometrists go for a more blunt rhythmic bludgeon, more of an earthen physical attack, if you can pardon my grasping for metaphors. I also hear the atmosphere of Ulcerate, occasional ambience of Altar of Plagues and the mind warping technicality of Gorguts. It's as much ethereally atmospheric (Listen to View from Hverfell II) as it is precisely deliberate (Listen to Allfather). This is one hell of a debut album. Great cover artwork. Try and wrap your head around this one, no math degree required.

9 February 2012

Mix Tape: February 2012

Here's a mix of what I found to be my favorite songs by some good bands that I happened to be listening to throughout January, 2012. I have compiled this mix to fit a regular 80 minute CD, so some songs have been modified to fit better. Not really any overall theme, just a good mix that sums up my musical tastes for the month of January/February 2012. Check it out!

8 February 2012

When the Sun Drank the Weight of Water

Demilich (Finland)
February 8, 1993

Today, Demilich's sole full length turns 19 years old, finally old enough to be considered an adult here in Canada. Demilich was a short-lived enigma in the early 90's European death metal scene. Most distinguishable about this band is the utterly absurd zombie-toad-belching-on-barbiturates vocals of Antti Boman, of which the band maintains that absolutely no effects were used to create the inhuman effect. I'm drawn to this album because of the vocals, but I stick around because of the cavernous atmosphere and understatedly technical grooves. Riffs weave like a serpent throughout the expressive drumming attacks, thickening up during the sluggish crawls, and piercing its venom through tasteful pinch harmonics. It's an intimidating listen for sure, but unpretentiously forward thinking, unlike a few other 1993 releases from the early death metal scene that I don't care to mention. Enjoy this album in its entirety below. You can skip through the tracks or allow it to play through the album continuously.