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)
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)
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)
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)
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.