July 10, 2020

Osyron - Foundations

By Calen Henry. A press release in my inbox announcing Osyron's new album Foundations was the first I heard of them. The Calgary band’s album was billed as a symphonic power prog metal album “exploring Canadian history and identity”. As a proud Canadian from their neck of the woods with a penchant for over the top conceptual metal
By Calen Henry.


A press release in my inbox announcing Osyron's new album Foundations was the first I heard of them. The Calgary band’s album was billed as a symphonic power prog metal album “exploring Canadian history and identity”. As a proud Canadian from their neck of the woods with a penchant for over the top conceptual metal, I knew I had to write about it.

Somewhat in contrast to the lofty promise of the press release, Foundations is under half an hour but manages to pack a cohesive conceptual arc into that short run time. Through the five tracks of down-tuned, "Djent-ey", melodic prog metal the band weave tales of conquest and glory in battle that, at times, verge on rock opera bombast. The music is epic with down-tuned chugging, belted out choruses with melodies doubled by hard rock guitar lines, and even a few forays into blast beats and rasped vocals. The album, though, is more than grandiose glory-peddling.

Underneath the album’s raucous tropes of the glory of colonization, battle, and sacrifice runs an undercurrent of pathos and regret. The lyrics reckon with the actual cost of colonialism and unending conquest. They delve into the human and social cost of colonization. What starts as stories of grandeur in conquest ends up bringing in the cost of war, mourning the loss of friends and comrades, and ultimately the realization that Canada was built on blood and genocide and we must reckon with that in order to move forward.

I came for the promise of Symphonic prog Canadiana and stayed for the skillful melding of genres and a cohesive lyrical arc packed into fewer than thirty Heritage Minutes.

July 7, 2020

Nodus Tollens - Melancholic Waters Ablaze with the Fires of Loss

By Justin C. When I went to confirm the Bandcamp link for the debut album from Nodus Tollens, I came across the definition of the name itself at a link titled Thoroughlly Depressing Word of the Day. The short definition is “the realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.”
By Justin C.

Artwork by Nate Burns.

When I went to confirm the Bandcamp link for the debut album from Nodus Tollens, I came across the definition of the name itself at a link titled Thoroughlly Depressing Word of the Day. The short definition is “the realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.” Pretty appropriate for a DSBM album, although the album varies far and wide from the usual DSBM template.

The music on the album is as complicated as its title: Melancholic Waters Ablaze with the Fires of Loss. After a brief intro, the music seems to seek to unsettle, with “Hexenwald II Wölfinninwald” opening with some seriously off-kilter and dissonant guitar shredding. That stops abruptly and gives over to a lovely acoustic passage. Then we’re back to a more traditional black metal sound with vicious vocal rasps that can serve as a power exfoliant.

The album as a whole is as wide ranging as that track. Mournful melodies are topped with paint-stripping vocals. Songs with a more traditional black metal feel give way to extended acoustic guitar jams. “Ad Meilora” starts with chanting and church bells before moving into some lovely clean singing (although with electronic distortion applied) that immediately brought to mind the melodies of 90s alternative act Christie Front Drive. (That will probably be one of the most left field references I ever make, but that said, go listen to that band if you haven’t already.) Then the final track provides a gentle background behind guitar lines so jagged that they seem designed to disrupt your brain waves.

What to make of all this? Is it an insane mish-mash of ideas? Yeah, I think it is, but somehow it works. True, it’s less of an album as it is multiple music ideas seemingly fighting for supremacy, but sometimes what sounds like nonsense on paper ends up being an odd little gem, and although I do think this album might be a love-it-or-hate-it proposition with little ground between, it’s worth a listen to see where you fall.

July 3, 2020

Overthrow to Overgrow

Mark Duggan (2011), Michael Brown (2014), Eric Garner (2014), Tamir Rice (2014), Sheku Bayoh (2015), Walter Scott (2015), Dalian Atkinson (2016), Philando Castile (2016), Alton Sterling (2016), Rashan Charles (2017), Stephon Clark (2018), Stewart Kevin Andrews (2020), Ahmaud Arbery (2020), George Floyd (2020), Chantel Moore (2020), Sean Monterrosa (2020), Regis Korchinski-Paquet (2020), Erik Salgado (2020), Breonna Taylor (2020).
Artwork by Nate Burns.

Mark Duggan (2011), Michael Brown (2014), Eric Garner (2014), Tamir Rice (2014), Sheku Bayoh (2015), Walter Scott (2015), Dalian Atkinson (2016), Philando Castile (2016), Alton Sterling (2016), Rashan Charles (2017), Stephon Clark (2018), Stewart Kevin Andrews (2020), Ahmaud Arbery (2020), George Floyd (2020), Chantel Moore (2020), Sean Monterrosa (2020), Regis Korchinski-Paquet (2020), Erik Salgado (2020), Breonna Taylor (2020).

Too many of us have sat back and watched, or looked away, as faces in our communities were wiped from history; disproportionately affected by police violence and systemic racism. Too often we have seen our black, brown, native American and First Nations brothers and sisters killed through unnecessary police violence. While this has become an international issue in the last few months, racism has been a fact of daily life for millions around the world.

We feel that the time has come for members of the metal and punk scenes to offer material support to the struggle against racism and for equality, engaging with our brothers and sisters in the streets who are out in front of the conversation against pervasive prejudice and systemic racism. While many of us are in the streets supporting these causes it became apparent that we could amplify the voice of those who are most at risk by using our platform as musicians.

To that end, thirty bands from across the extreme music world have come together via this digital compilation featuring artists as varied as Doom, Panopticon, Obsequiae, Agathocles, Thou, Chaos Moon, Outlaw Order, Deviated Instinct, Dawn Ray’d, and many others to benefit Black Lives Matter, Life After Hate, and Stand Up To Racism.



The compilation was put together by Austin from Panopticon and Mike from Hag Graef. New tracks were provided by Aerial Ruin ("Becoming the Sunken Lake" is an outtake from the Nameless Sun sessions), Chaos Moon, Detractors, Hag Graef, Human Failure (members of Akasha), Inexorum, Krieg, Nori (members of Axis of Light), Obsequiae, Throne of Blood, Tvær, Uprising (a new and exclusive track with Austin helping out on drums), Vukari, and Woe (the "Abject in Defeat" demo. A little different from the album version, it has more lyrics).

Covers were provided by Hornet Murmuration (members of Kostnatění covering Dead Kennedys' "Drug Me"), Nechochwen (Gospel of Vomit's "Sulphuric Stench"), and Ripped to Shreds (Unholy Grave's "No Racial Superiority!").

Remixes, live cuts, and re-recorded tracks from Agathocles, Alda, Chat Pile, Cloud Rat (a previously unreleased acoustic recording of "Blind River", with the lyrics from "Losing Weight", taken from the Pollinator sessions), Dawn Ray’d (a live version of "Colony of Fevers" from Black Flags Over Brooklyn), Deviated Instinct ("Fall of the House of Cards" is one of 5 old songs re-recorded during the Husk session in 2017), Doom, Falls of Rauros (a re-recording of the live show staple, "Silence" from The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood. Recorded and mixed entirely by the band), Krallice, Mania, Outlaw Order, Panopticon, Thou, and Tired of Everything.

All proceeds will be donated to: Black Lives Matter Over-arching movement to combat racism and fight for social justice in the US and Canada. Life After Hate A nonprofit in the US that seeks to combat racism by providing resources to help people leave racist movements, as well as help de-radicalize violent far right extremists. Stand Up To Racism A UK based nonprofit that is focused on organizing against racism throughout the country.


[Note: this post is an edited version of the announcement posted by many of the involved bands on Facebook, together with additional information about some of the songs].