April 29, 2014

Maveth - Coils of the Black Earth

Written by Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published here by Exclaim.

Artwork by Daniel Desecrator

Active since 2007, releasing an EP, demo and appearing on the Breath of an Abomination compilation, Finnish blackened death metal band Maveth have finally released their debut full-length, Coils of the Black Earth. While the thick, muscular riffing that dominates is reminiscent of the finest Finnish and Scandinavian death metal, frontman Christbutcher is a U.S. expat and his influence is keenly felt in the occasional grooves in the song structures and sour, acerbic tones. Elements of American and Scandinavian death metal are woven together expertly throughout this record. The vocals are a high point, delivered in a monstrous roar that sounds more believable coming from the throat of a 600-lbs. grizzly than a human man. The songs lumber forward, statelier than the frantic blasts of the drums would suggest, and the violence the tracks perpetrate is more inexorable and deliberate than frenzied. In a genre that's often oversaturated, Maveth have created a slab of death metal that remains as fresh and fertile as the black earth it ostensibly crawled forth from.


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]


The budget conscious death metal connoisseur can find Coils of the Black Earth a little cheaper here.

Tagged with 2012, blackened death metal, Dark Descent Records, death metal, Maveth, Natalie Zina Walschots

Botanist - Nero di Marte - Void of Sleep crowd-funding

Written by Justin C.

Art by M.S. Waldron

I came across (and donated to) two crowd-funding efforts that I think are worthy of your attention. One is born of happy circumstances, but the other much less so.

As frequent readers of the site may have noticed, I really love the one-man black metal phenomenon that is Botanist. This bio-black metal band centered on Otrebor's hammered dulcimer playing satisfies a musical need I never knew I had.

I don't know if there's a huge overlap between Bandcamp enthusiasts and vinyl collectors, but Botanist is doing a Kickstarter campaign to fund the pressing of a vinyl version of III: Doom in Bloom (minus the Allies recordings). Picking my favorite Botanist album at this point is like asking most parents which is their favorite child, but Doom in Bloom will always be high on my list. The opening track, "Quoth Azalea, the Demon," has delicate melodies that haunt my dreams.

Even if you're not into vinyl, this Kickstarter has something for you. You can get a digital download of a rehearsal/live performance from the band for a measly $6, and the recording is exclusive to Kickstarter backers. There's a ton of other merch available, and the band is flexible about combining rewards. Just give them a head's up. As of this writing, they're about $150 away from full funding, and every little bit helps. It helps the band, and it helps me, as otherwise, I will be forced to cover whatever's left over to make sure this happens. The funding period ends on May 15.

Kickstarter: "III: Doom in Bloom" Double LP Gatefold


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]


Alex Eckman-Lawn

As I mentioned, the other crowd-funder is for less happy news. Italian bands Nero di Marte and Void of Sleep had all of their gear stolen after a show in Rome. We're talking a 25,000 Euro loss. As fans of this kind of metal know, bands other than KISS don't travel with and/or own truckloads of gear, so this can be a devastating career ender. That would be a real shame in this case. The list of stolen gear is heart rending. As an amateur musician, this would be devastating to me, and I don't rely on my equipment to make a living.

The entry-level reward for their IndieGoGo campaign is a split EP from the two bands for 10 Euros, and given the two bands involved, I expect it to be excellent. Nero di Marte's self-titled debut is available on Bandcamp. I didn't realize this until recently, or I probably would have written something for it here. I've been enjoying the CD version since it came out. Nero di Marte scratches the same itch for me that bands like Gojira and Byzantine do. Not because they're sound-alikes, but because they all fit in that nebulous progressive metal genre that sometimes gets labeled "groove metal" for lack of a better term. It's immediately accessible, but complex enough to keep you coming back.

I know less about Void of Sleep and they don’t appear to have a Bandcamp presence, but a quick perusal on YouTube convinced me I need to check them out more in depth. Obvious touchstones are Opeth and Tool. (I hate to do such a short-handed "recommended if you like" write up for what appears to be a very good band, but I wanted to get this out there sooner rather than later.)

Right now the bands are at about 4,200 Euro of their 20,000 Euro goal, but this is a flexible funding campaign. Unlike Kickstarter, IndieGoGo allows for crowd funds other than all-or-nothing, so the raised funds go to the band even if the full amount isn't reached. I certainly hope they reach much higher than what they have now. The funding period ends on May 13.

IndieGoGo: NERO DI MARTE - VOID OF SLEEP: Stolen gear donations and Split EP


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Tagged with avant-garde black metal, Botanist, experimental black metal, Justin C, Nero di Marte, progressive metal, Prosthetic Records

April 28, 2014

Bateman - SMUT

Written by Matt Hinch.


It's been some fun times for me lately, at least as far as coverage for Metal Bandcamp goes. The latest in a string of honest-to-goodness fun bands to come my way is Australia's Bateman. Their debut full-length SMUT is ten tracks of pure adrenalized and twisted hardcore.

The quintet mash up a few permutations of the hardcore style, and throw in some death metal and noise to confound and crush on these high energy tunes. Sometimes they even work a groove metal angle. But you know, in a cool way. They may take the road less traveled but all the blood, sweat and beers spilt on the way are worth it.

A decidedly live energy resonates from every pore. There's an elastic violence present that is born from the stage. The pull and tension and full-on release of a hammering downstroke compels the listener to in turn release their own tensions in a bodily manner. It's all done with a spirit of playfulness pushing at the ridiculous. In fact, it's lighthearted (though punishing) enough that it's the sole reason I haven't torn anyone's head from their shoulders these last couple days. It's like therapy.

As much as Bateman's suckerpunching, Converge/DEP rubber room riffage throws you off the wall, the vocals are the clincher. Multiple personalities vie for attention as the voices boil to the surface in seeming randomness. At any given time the savagery ranges from a hellhound's growl to a tortured banshee wail, hardcore bark or Jello Biafra on a week long-meth bender.

There's plenty of vicious breakdowns (tasteful), skronky guitar lines and even some melody. It's all unapologetically in your face and potently infectious. They even mix in some pop-punk sensibilities and cleaner tones. If you can imagine a cocktail of Cancer Bats, Every Time I Die and Red Fang being served without reserve at a mental hospital, you're on the right track.

Toss your stuffed shirts and societal inhibitions in the trash and dive into some SMUT!


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]


P.S. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Bateman's cover of Everclear's “Heroin Girl”. It's quite possibly the best cover I've ever heard. Holy “Make-it-your-own” Batman! Er, Bateman! And it's free! They won't even let you pay for it!


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Tagged with 2014, Bateman, free download, hardcore, Matt Hinch, noise

April 25, 2014

High Spirits - You Are Here

By Matt Hinch. If you're the parent of a little girl, or even spent some time with a little girl in the last 6 months, you've likely found yourself straining to remove songs from the movie Frozen from your head.
By Matt Hinch.


If you're the parent of a little girl, or even spent some time with a little girl in the last 6 months, you've likely found yourself straining to remove songs from the movie Frozen from your head. Curse you Disney! Well, I found the solution: You Are Here by Chicago's High Sprits. It's so catchy it should be illegal. And it will mend your frozen ears.

High Spirits 2012. Photo © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.

These high energy rockers, lead by Dawnbringer's Chris Black play a brand of uptempo, NWOBHM inspired, old school metal that you just can't get out of your head. The hooks are everywhere. Riffs, melodies, galloping rhythms, vocals. It'll snag you faster than a blanket made of barbed wire. But far less painful.

It's relatively straightforward with big power chords, tasteful leads and arena-sized sing-along choruses. It's almost like it's straight out of Guitar Hero. Or more like Rock Band. But you can't pick slide on those fake guitars.

High Spirits 2012. Photo © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.

What will make or break the album for most will be the vocals. Black's delivery is somewhat unrefined but definitely clean. It's an honest to goodness ode to the masters of trad metal's heyday, or a guy in a really good bar band. The closest comparison I can feel is to Klaus Meine of Scorpions. No matter the case it's hard not to get caught up in the energy he puts out there as a definite frontman. And the vocal harmonies and hooks are there in spades.

You Are Here is a pretty accessible and infectious album that will stick with you for days. If you're the kind of person that thought/thinks a white and gold Pontiac Firebird was/is the pinnacle of cool, this will be the soundtrack to your summer. And if you like your metal like your temperatures (in the '80s (Fahrenheit)) then High Spirits will lift your spirits high!


Tagged with 2014, hard rock, heavy metal, High Spirits, John Mourlas, Matt Hinch

April 24, 2014

Welcome to the hall of Hel - Eldjudnir

Review by Majbritt Levinsen.


Lets take a trip to Nifelheim and the halls of Hel - where Eldjudnir will tell you tales from the Norse mythology, derived directly from the old Edda Prose of Snorri Sturlurson accompanied by a very raw, dark and beautiful atmosphere. As you already might have figured out we are going black metal.

I first came in contact with the Danish black metal band Eldjudnir when I discovered Solbrud back in 2013, as they had them amongst their bandcamp recommendations. I bought all three of their albums right there and then and have been pleasantly surprised about their development through the albums they have managed to release so far. Lets start from the beginning.

Their first release was the EP Ragnarok released in 2010. It is sung in Danish with nature romantic touches such as rain, thunder and howls from the wild blended into the spacious guitars and gritty backwalls of sounds that blasts along in typical black metal style. There are some really nice acoustic parts that enhances the tracks and the storytelling aspect of the songs. The vocal is both raw raspy crow-like singing and spoken words/chants. As with most black metal drummers I’m really impressed with Jacob Hee Lindhardt Lund’s drumwork, not to mention that Jakob Sture Winnem Larsen handles every other instrument on this recording, including the vocal. For those not familiar with Danish, the lyrics tells the tale about Ragnarök from the start of the Fimbulvinter until the end when all of the worlds have been swallowed by the sea.


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Next up is their second EP, Ginnungagap, released in 2011 and it follows the path of Ragnarok in regards to the Norse mythology storytelling aspects. The first track is so beautiful and tells how the world rises from the big primordial void - the Ginnungagap. We will also hear about Loki and Odin until the eternal winter ("Evig Vinter") hits this EP, I must say that this track isn’t a favourite of mine, but it has its moments. The last track, the instrumental "Tomhed (Outro)" is however one brilliant piece of work - that is a track I would like an extended version of, in the scope of Sabazius’s - "The Descent of Man", nah just kidding, but the same length as the brilliant "Skogens Hjärta" by Hypothermia would be lovely!


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Onwards and upwards! Angrboda from 2012 is in my humble opinion the most complete and best offering from this young band, closely followed by Ragnarok. The tracks are more majestic and offers both chaos and beauty. Angrboda also differs from the 2 past releases as it is sung in old Icelandic, the lyrics are from the original Gylfaginning by Snorri Sturlurson. I have to point out the track "Bundinn", it really hits a chord in me: it is fluid and spacious yet still raw and engulfed in thick moist fog. And as the 11 minutes long track "Fenris" closes off the album I want to hit the play button again...

And I’ve been listening a lot to all of the three albums above and I have yet to grow tired of them.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Tagged with 2010, 2011, 2012, atmospheric black metal, black metal, Eldjudnir, free download, Majbritt Levinsen

April 23, 2014

UR - UR

Written by Ulla Roschat.


With this self titled album UR present their debut (2013), consisting of 3 long songs all above the 10 minute mark and a runtime of about 42 minutes altogether.

The four piece band from Dresden/Germany formed in 2010 and they play a blend of atmospheric Post and Doom Metal, inspired, according to their self-description, by “the realm of forgotten, exterminated and endangered animals” and like the band name and the song titles as well as the doomy epic slow heaviness of the music itself suggest, their focus is not so much on insects but rather on larger more massive species.

Immanent in all three songs are their slow build ups that pile up to huge waves of ambient sound carrying an atmosphere of a dark, gloomy melancholy. Vocals are near to non-existent, but used to great effect.

Still the songs are all differently structured; while the first song “Aurochs” is characterized by slow plodding march like rhythms that pick up layers of different sounds on their way and is growing more and more from the doomy base into an ambient soundscape, “Condor” stands out due to its long (7 min.) quiet, mostly acoustic sounding middle part that has its own arcs of tension and build ups. Each different instrument takes its turn in the lead. This part is bursting with emotion which is carried into the last heavier and louder part giving it an enormous impact.

“Megaloceros” is the only truly instrumental and the most Post Metal sounding song, drony, bassy, distorted, fuzzy. This is rather straight and forward driving (though not without breaks), like one big wave with a beautiful melancholic melody riding on it to land on a shore of distortion, feedback and dissonance yet not losing its melody throughout.

This is an amazing debut album. Most striking are the slow and long build ups that are able to carry their tension into the ambient soundscapes without drowning all the subtler details. This gives the songs a kind of filigree elegance and texture still embraced by doomy heaviness.


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]


Notes: Originally posted on the defunct Temple of Perdition blog.

Tagged with 2013, doom metal, free download, post-metal, sludge metal, Ulla Roschat, UR

Queen Elephantine - Scarab

Written by Ulla Roschat.

Art by Adrian Dexter

Scarab (May 2013) is Queen Elephantine’s latest release of four full length albums and several splits and EPs. They originally formed in Hong Kong in 2006, but are currently based in Providence/RI/USA. Roughly described the album is some kind of experimental meditative doom drone whatever. Guitar, slide guitar, bass, tanpura, vocals and two drumsets are the instruments Queen Elephantine use to conjure a strong psychedelic, lysergic vibe and create a dark, mysterious atmosphere.

What you will need to appreciate this album is an open mind and open senses, and if you’re willing to submit yourself to it you will be rewarded with an utterly satisfying listening experience.

Queen Elephantine 2012. Photo by karawho

As everything is very slow, drawn out, utterly heavy, repetitive and minimalistic, there doesn't seem to happen very much, but the open spaced sound is completely filled with resonance and reverb especially from guitar, bass and the vocals. The vocals are sung with extremely lengthened vowels that perfectly correspond with the strings’ sound and remind me of the meditative aum chants, but with a dirge like “funeralistic” wail to it. It’s also filled, with the millions of different percussion sounds, as the percussion is quite predominant throughout the the album. And finally the underlying buzzing drone sounds of the slide guitar and tanpura seem to be of constant presence.

Queen Elephantine 2012. Photo by karawho

The opening track Veil indeed does function as an opening tool. It opens a door to mysterious and exotic soundscapes. With a slow and patient build up, drony, percussive and luringly hypnotic it leads you to meet the first murky riffs and the unusual use of the vocals, to some strange temple-like place, awe-inspiring and compelling all the same. There’s a sense of a lurking unknown threatening danger combined with some power omnisciently aware of an inevitable doom, yet compassionately wailing about it. And this sense is growing with each of the four songs of the album.

Equally growing is the discrepancy between the meditative repetitiveness and the weird, unconventional structures and disturbing dissonances, the first requires a kind of “mental dispersal” and the latter rather a focused concentration. And herein lies the true beauty and brilliancy of Scarab; the contradicting elements are so perfectly balanced, that there’s always an exciting tension carried in an entrancing flow of dark and mysterious, trippy sounds.


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Tagged with 2013, doom metal, drone, Queen Elephantine, Ulla Roschat

Mares of Thrace - The Pilgrimage

Written by Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published here by Exclaim.


Canadian doom/noise duo Mares of Thrace, based in Calgary, AB, feature guitarist/vocalist Thérèse Lanz (who plays a custom built baritone guitar with both guitar and bass pickups) and drummer Stef MacKichan. The Pilgrimage is their second album, following 2010's The Moulting. While Mares of Thrace have been together since 2008, Lanz and MacKichan have spent over ten years collaborating together, including in the defunct Kilbourne. As a result, there's a palpable intimacy and chemistry between them. The two women play together like two ego-less parts of the same machine, individually talented but of the same will. The Pilgrimage channels many similar themes of transformation that drove The Moulting, but on this record that change is the result of a journey brought about by external circumstances and experience.

Thérèse Lanz. Photo © John Mourlas. All rights reserved.

The record was produced Sanford Parker, who's very present, capturing the squeal of strings or Lanz's gasps for breath like audible chisel marks. Parker's work allows Mares of Thrace to express their full range of musical tools, amplifying the sheer muscular force of MacKichan's drumming – a discordant racket of thrashing anger or a passionate, moody throb – heightening the aching poignancy of Lanz's countermelodies or simply allowing the songs to drown in their venomous feedback. The Pilgrimage is vicious and viscous, the sound lush and merciless. The climbing leads sound as if they're dragging themselves up by the fingernails and the album's paced so that it seems to be dragging itself along by its stubborn strength. Grieving and defiant at equal turns, The Pilgrimage is a triumph.


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Tagged with 2012, doom metal, John Mourlas, Mares of Thrace, Natalie Zina Walschots, noise

April 21, 2014

Thantifaxath - Sacred White Noise

By Justin C. A few years ago, a friend of a friend gleefully proclaimed that they found a "wrong note" in a U2 song. It was in one of the songs off their 2009 album No Line on the Horizon. I didn't press him on the details--he was the kind of person who
By Justin C.


A few years ago, a friend of a friend gleefully proclaimed that they found a "wrong note" in a U2 song. It was in one of the songs off their 2009 album No Line on the Horizon. I didn't press him on the details--he was the kind of person who fancied himself a music scholar, but really only had enough knowledge to be dangerous. His statement made me chuckle for a couple of reasons. The album probably had a production budget the same size of the entire Apollo Space Program with at least 100 times the computing power available, so the idea that an unintended note would somehow end up in the finished product is hard to believe. On a broader level, the idea that a some notes are "wrong" is a funny idea, even if it's common among less-adventurous music consumers. I'm guessing that U2 threw a slightly dissonant note in somewhere, and it was made all the more jarring to my acquaintance because, as a pop band, U2 typically stays well within the vanilla of musical sounds.

Of course, metal knows no such fears of dissonance, and Thantifaxath's new album, Sacred White Noise, demonstrates this handily. The first few seconds of the opening track, "The Bright White Nothing at the End of the Tunnel", gives you a hint of what you're in for. It sounds like the organ soundtrack of a merry-go-round sped up to 10 times its normal speed, and when the first guitar riff kicks in shortly thereafter, its restless dissonance wanders in that realm where music and mathematics intersect. It's a great, satisfying line, but it's jarring and cerebral at the same time. if you're worried there won't be enough black metal, don't be. There's plenty of blast beating and tremoloing to go around, and the vocals are raspy, full-throated, and actually understandable for the most part. But everything is always just a little bit off in the best way possible.

Therein lies Thantifaxath's brilliance. There's always a delicate balance between the immediately satisfying and the bizarre. "Gasping in Darkness" may start with the most evil-sounding Gregorian chant ever, with voices slowly drifting in and out of unison, but when the main rift kicks in, it's an immediately likeable bit of blackened doom made just a bit odd by the changing meter it's played over. The mournful, beautiful strings that open the closing track, "Lost in Static Between Worlds", help balance the hyper-frenzied guitar freakout in the middle of the song. The music is cerebral, but with plenty of emotional gut punches to absorb along the way.

Thantifaxath probably won't be the most dissonant thing you've ever heard. There are always bands like Jute Gyte, with their "We Will Use All the Notes Inbetween the Notes!" approach to occupy the outer edges of what music can be. But Thantifaxath balances the avant garde with more familiar territory, even if it's always just a bit out of focus, giving us an album with plenty of intellectual depth to pour over, but with an immediacy that keeps the whole affair from being exhausting. Their previous EP hinted at this, but as good as that EP is, Sacred White Noise is a quantum leap forward.

Tagged with 2014, black metal, Dark Descent Records, Justin C, Thantifaxath

April 20, 2014

Label spotlight: Invictus Productions

Irish label Invictus Productions has been on Bandcamp for a while now, but I'm quite behind in keeping track, and updating the Metal Labels On Bandcamp page. There are many interesting things on the Invuctus page, here I'd like to feature two albums from 2011, both originally put out by US labels with Invictus handling the European end of the deal. It also happens to be two albums the mighty Autothrall had good things to say about, so I'll him do the talking. First up is the unusual black metal of Negative Plane - Stained Glass Revelations (Ajna Offensive).

Cover art by Jessica Corso
Deep, dark tremolo guitar lines and chords are infused with spikes of frivolous, shaking melody while the bass surges ever low, downward a spiral of arcane hostility in "Lamentations and Ashes" or "Angels Veiled of Bone", but capable of busting out sheer misanthropy through thundering rhythms reminiscent of early Bathory or Hellhammer/Celtic Frost. But above it all, Nameless Void's harrowing, vocal barks reek of the breath of ancients, the poetry of the dead, and add this timeless, mesmerizing environment of ever sinking into the depths of something far older than time itself. (Full review).

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]


Next up is an album I have wanted to see on Bandcamp for quite some time, Antediluvian - Through The Cervix Of Hawaah (Profound Lore) The esteemed Full Metal Attorney called it "a dark, alien form of death metal". Autothrall has many more words for you.

Cover art by Haasiophis
I've on occasion used the term 'cavern core' to describe this modern sort of crushingly guttural old school exaltation, but I'll be frank: no subterranean space could contain Antediluvian for very long. This is copious, lurching and primordial death metal which resonates as much at a faster pace as it does at the snail-like, expected speed, and the Canadians are also mindful of the actual presence of 'riffs' [...] It's highly unnerving, and that word more than any other best sums up this recording. Certainly, Antediluvian offer one of the most bowel rupturing, uncomfortable brands of experimental death metal out there. (Full review).

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Tagged with 2011, Antediluvian, Autothrall, black metal, death metal, Invictus Productions, Negative Plane

April 19, 2014

Howls of Ebb - Vigils of the 3rd Eye

A few days ago the mighty Autothrall posted the first interview ever on From the Dust Returned. The original intention with the blog was, besides the reviews, "to converse with the creators behind some of the most compelling and inspirational of recordings I've encountered through my listening".

Artwork by Wiley Trieff

A few days ago the mighty Autothrall posted the first interview ever on From the Dust Returned. The original intention with the blog was, besides the reviews, "to converse with the creators behind some of the most compelling and inspirational of recordings I've encountered through my listening". That part of the plan didn't come into fruition, but as he continues it "all changes this Spring, as I embark on a monthly quest to pick the brains of some of the more fascinating authors of agony in the underground!"

The first interview is with zEleFthAnD, songwriter, vocalist and guitarist from Howls of Ebb. They discuss the bands origins, philosophy, and of course their debut Vigils of the 3rd Eye; an album that Autothrall writes "has spent several nights with me on the very precipice of sanity". It's strikingly original and organic sounding death metal; as his mightiness enthuses: "this is one of a precious few death metal records I've heard lately where the immediate reaction wasn't to compare it to album A by artists B and C."

Some of the riffs are just that, great riffs. But mostly this is not music that immediately grabs your attention, instead it wins you over by it's lumbering hypnotic presence, and quirky charm (twangy guitars anyone?). Song subjects runs from "a first hand account of our coming demise" ("Martian Terrors, Limbonic Steps"), "a personal mystic journey in the 4th dimension" ("Of Heel, Cyst and Lung"), to "what happens when an Observer oversteps his bounds and directs death upon undesirables" ("Opulent Ghouls, Blessed be Thy End"). On Vigil Vigils of the 3rd Eye you're in for a strange and enticing journey, on From the Dust Returned I hope Autothrall continues his - and gives us more interesting interviews.



The Vigils of the 3rd Eye download comes with high quality scans of the album booklet, featuring much more of that gorgeous Wiley Treff art. That's how to do it I, Voidhanger Records!

Tagged with 2014, Autothrall, black metal, death metal, Howls of Ebb, I Voidhanger Records

April 17, 2014

The Great Old Ones - Tekeli-li

By Ulla Roschat. Just think “At the Mountains of Madness” turned into sound and you have the Tekeli-li album! The Great Old Ones, the band name indicates it, chose H. P. Lovecraft’s fiction as a conceptual background for their musical work. They are a five piece band from Bordeaux/France and formed in 2011.
By Ulla Roschat.

Artwork by Jeff Grimal

Just think “At the Mountains of Madness” turned into sound and you have the Tekeli-li album! The Great Old Ones, the band name indicates it, chose H. P. Lovecraft’s fiction as a conceptual background for their musical work. They are a five piece band from Bordeaux/France and formed in 2011.Tekeli-li is their second album following up their debut Al Azif (2012).

The album contains six tracks of which five are genuine songs, the first one is a short introduction with spoken words that leads you directly into a narrative situation and lets you know the following is meant to be a cohesive entity with an underlying concept, namely Lovecraft’s novella “At the Mountains of Madness”, plus it sets a mood of eeriness that won’t leave you throughout the entire album.

Stylistically The Great Old Ones blend black and post metal into dense heavy soundscapes to create atmospheres that perfectly fit the icy Antarctic wastes and the spine-tingling horror of encountering ancient alien species with all its implications of fear, confusion and insanity, exhaustion and sorrow.


There’s a raw, bleak black metal feel throughout, even in the more ambient moments, with stormy churning uproaring riffs and varying dynamics providing a constant presence of a piercing cold and a constant motion and shifting of atmospheres which is even enhanced by a myriad of subtler less spectacular (but thanks to a quality production effective) changes and contradicting, dissonant melodies and rhythms that add a slight but creepy sense of chaos and insanity.

Spoken word parts and acoustic moments are quite rare, but more frequent towards the end of the album in the last and longest track (17:50 min.) "Behind the Mountains" and belong to the the well-conceived structure of the album’s dramatic composition. They add depth and texture and give room for the huge climaxes.

With Tekeli-li The Great Old Ones created a brilliant sonic interpretation of Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness”. It’s a loving dedication and credit to the author. And so is the album artwork by band member Jeff Grimal (guitar/vocals). He totally catches what makes Tekeli-li unique and distinguishable: the constant swirling motion, the breathtaking flow of exciting events tamed, by a multi-layered and tight structure.

Tagged with 2014, post-black metal, The Great Old Ones, Ulla Roschat

April 16, 2014

The Great Old Ones - Tekeli​-​li

By Zamaan Raza. H. P. Lovecraft carved out a niche in horror fiction with his short stories on ancient cosmic terrors. The Great Old Ones, a black metal band from Bordeaux, tap into his Cthulhu mythos with supreme assurance. Their expansive, textured sound evokes a sense of astral majesty, in a stark contrast with the “other” Lovecraft-inspired band, Portal
By Zamaan Raza.

Artwork by Jeff Grimal

H. P. Lovecraft carved out a niche in horror fiction with his short stories on ancient cosmic terrors. The Great Old Ones, a black metal band from Bordeaux, tap into his Cthulhu mythos with supreme assurance. Their expansive, textured sound evokes a sense of astral majesty, in a stark contrast with the “other” Lovecraft-inspired band, Portal, whose claustrophobic pummelling elicits unease, a creeping dread.

Their second album, Tekeli-li is based on the short story “At the Mountains of Madness,” in which an antarctic expedition discovers an ancient derelict city, apparently once occupied by monstrous visitors from beyond the stars, only to awaken something that had lain dormant for aeons. The Great Old Ones capture a recurring theme in Lovecraft’s short stories, forbidden knowledge - men of science who learn things that are inconceivable to the human mind in form and scale, resulting in remorse and insanity respectively.

Photo by Jo T.

Their excellent debut Al-Azif was relatively lo-fi, and owed almost as much to shoegaze as it did to black metal. Tekeli-li is harsher and much more varied; the third track, “The Elder Things,” for example, is busy in a progressive kind of way, without ever feeling contrived or distracting; the best comparison I can think of is Cormorant’s debut album. “Antarctica” starts with a sludgy, bottom-heavy riff that recalls Celestial-era Isis, seguing into an atonal bees-in-a-bucket type affair that could be Blut Aus Nord. It’s only in the third minute that they begine to sound like themselves, but this time they pack more of a punch, with the drums and bass much higher in the mix. The final two tracks, “The Ascend” and “Behind the Mountains” are closest to being straightforward black metal, but at no point does it feel like the band is running out of ideas.

It is difficult for high-concept bands to maintain their central conceit over more than one album without stagnating (although consistency of style is not necessarily a bad thing --- see Fall of Efrafa). In Tekeli-li, The Great Old Ones have crafted a worthy successor to Al-Azif with a much richer palette.

Tagged with 2014, Jo T, post-black metal, The Great Old Ones, Zamaan Raza

April 15, 2014

General Lee - Raiders of the Evil Eye

Written by Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published here by Exclaim.

Artwork by Sinpiggyhead

While France might not be particularly well known for its post-hardcore, they have assembled one extremely fine export in General Lee. Their third full-length, Raiders of the Evil Eye, is a passionate, possessive record that goes for the throat from its opening seconds. The focus is unquestionably on the triumvirate of guitars that provide both the engine and texture of General Lee's sound, the disparate tones woven together in a dense, reverberating braid, swooping around each other in counterpoint or drawing tightly together to cinch a sonic knot.

Raiders of the Evil Eye isn't just about manhandling the listener, however; it doesn't just want to take, it wants you to give in. There is a pleading element to "Medusa Howls with the Wolves" that walks the line between begging and coercion, often swinging back and forth between the two. "Alone With Everybody" is the highlight; it's a powerful melancholy track that relies on the echoing distance of the relatively sparse drumming and palpable yearning in the strings to draw the listener in. This is a late-flowering gem.


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For vinyl (and a slightly cheaper digital download) go to the Play the Assassin Bandcamp.

Tagged with 2012, atmospheric sludge metal, General Lee, Natalie Zina Walschots, sludge metal

April 14, 2014

Morgue of Saints - Monolith

Written by Matt Hinch.

Artwork by Elliot C.

The transformation between Morgue of Saints' first album, Sleep/Death and newest release, Monolith borders on incomprehensible. Sleep/Death is excellent ambient drone and funeral doom. Monolith is most definitely not. Mastermind and sole member Elliot C. sure has a wide creative palate and a load of talent. It's actually surprising that both releases bear the same "band name". Then again, Boris continually baffle under the same name so...

Monolith itself is a slammin' shimmy-shake of top shelf instrumental stoner rock. Every last second is drenched in overdriven tone and lit by the fires of a thousand bongs. Organs stand front and centre calling to mind The Mystick Krewe of Clearlight. Although, Mr. C is no Jimmy Bower on the drums. But who is?

Each and every one of these six tracks simply riffs fantastic. The grooves are heavy and never let up. From beginning to end your head will nod and your toes will tap. Riff after riff of pure gold. That might sound a little exaggerative but rest assured I'll stand by every word.

Like I said, it's instrumental but vocals at no time feel necessary. The sound is full and hypnotic. Putting vocals on it would actually take away from its power. Without the benefit of lyrics the listener needs to be guided through the listening experience. Morgue of Saints takes you by the hand and leads you through the maze. There's great use of foreshadowing in the minor riff variations that point in the direction the track is heading. The shifts in drama and changes in the instrument spotlight from guitar to organ and back deceive one into thinking it's interplay between members. But any back and forth jammin' is only Elliot talking to himself.

Monolith is free flowing and care free. There's such an atmosphere of organic development through improvisational generation here that the music's soul is laid bare. You can hear and feel every iota of effort that went into its creation and thus gain a deeper appreciation for it.

Continually urging the listener forward into whatever new vista of silky stoner rock appears over the horizon, Morgue of Saints injects an optimistic air and upbeat manner into Monolith compelling the listener into repeated listens. Instrumental stoner jams don't get much better than this.


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Tagged with 2014, free download, Matt Hinch, Morgue of Saints, stoner metal, stoner rock

April 11, 2014

Verlies - Le Domaine Des Hommes

Written by by Andy Osborn.


French black metal means something different to just about everyone. For some, it’s the devilish chaos of Deathspell Omega or Blut Aus Nord. Others think of Les Légions Noires and its stripped down, raw approach. Or maybe the multi-talented Neige is the bannerman you envision, an artist who has contributed so much to the evolution of the style in the past decade despite recently casting it aside. But I don’t believe it boils down to a single band or artist. French black metal is about uncompromising individualism, seeking a path previously untraveled and challenging the norms of this traditionally primitive style. And this debut album from newcomers Verlies does all that and more.

Taking a heavy jazz and post-rock influence and melding it with emotional, mournful grimness is the base of the stew concocted by this solo project, and the deeper in you dive the thicker and more potent it gets. A sense of groove driven by the counterpoint between the bass and lead guitar quickly becomes the star of the album. It takes a few minutes of getting used to as these are usually the last instruments given heed by a band that claims to be atmospheric anything. But it’s a refreshing change of pace that injects a dynamic rarely heard among practitioners of the dark arts. Long, ever-changing songs make up the meat of Le Domaine Des Hommes, fitting given the role of the instruments. “Maladie” is the best example of the band’s kitchen-sink approach to the music. One minute a torrent of unrelenting waves is crashing down and the next they turn to calm waters as you drift out into the open ocean, enticed by N.’s dreamy clean vocals.

Comparisons to early Alcest are obvious, but Verlies never gets anywhere near as ethereal or meandering. A more obtuse approach is taken, proven by the insanely complicated song structures and unstable melodies. This will appeal to fans of experimentation; those looking for a memorable, catchy jaunt may need some time to get under the skin of what’s being offered. Call it atmospheric, post, or even gaze, but this is first and foremost a musician’s black metal album. The conversation between the instruments, the dynamic yet cohesive songwriting, the duality of intense and lighter, more laid-back moments all come together to make for something impossibly unique and adventurous. A recipe that should make any Frenchman proud.


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Tagged with 2014, Andy Osborn, atmospheric black metal, black metal, free download, Verlies

April 8, 2014

Cormorant - Earth Diver

Written by Justin C.

Artwork by Sam Ford

When I'm writing about a new album from a band I've followed for a while, I often like to immerse myself in their older recordings, too. Cormorant's new album, Earth Diver, is out, and to that end, I've spent the last week fully immersed in Cormorant-land. And given their history of genre-defying, thinking-person's metal, Cormorant-land is a damn fine place to be.

Cormorant 2012 - Arthur von Nagel & Matt Solis. Photo by Metal Chris

First thing's first, the elephant in the room: As fans of the band know, front man/bassist/lyricist Arthur von Nagel left the band after their excellent last full-length, Dwellings, to pursue a career in video games. There was naturally a lot of concern about what that would mean for the band. If they did continue on, would they lose their basic essence of Cormorant-iness? I was worried, too, but let me put the fear to rest: This band is as good as ever. There has been a slight stylistic shift. New bassist/vocalist Marcus Luscombe favors a higher, raspier black metal vocal style than von Nagel did, and as a result the black metal component of Cormorant's sound is a bit more prominent, but the rest of what you know and love about Cormorant remains. The guitars are simply brilliant. Check out album opener "Eris," which features lovely acoustic guitars that are at times folky, and at times even Baroque. Or the haunting, echoing tremolo that opens "Sold as a Crow" (my favorite track), or the wild classic rock/classic metal guitar solo in "Waking Sleep." The rhythm section is still tight and furious, and there are still lines of aching clean vocals floating throughout. I think what's worked in Cormorant's favor is that they've always kept moving, picking through genres and styles as it suits them, always growing. Even if von Nagel had stayed with the band, Earth Diver would have been another step in their evolution. A band like that can survive a line up change.

Cormorant 2012 - Nick Cohon. Photo by Metal Chris

Cormorant has always had strong lyrical content, and Earth Diver helps cement their place as master storytellers. As metal listeners, it's easy to view vocals solely as another instrument in the band, enjoyable in their own way even if they're indecipherable or focused on the usual metal tropes. Sure, the lyrics may just be about hobbits and Satan, but they still rip! (Not that I have anything against hobbits or Satan, mind you...) The songs on this album tell interesting stories, making them a pleasure to listen to and read. The words are straightforward, yet still poetically crafted. There's still a healthy dose of mythology involved. "Daughter of Void" tells of a monster that mixes the Pied Piper and the Sirens, luring children to drown in frozen waters in the Antarctic Sea: "Hair of a maiden, skin of a basilisk, / Stealing children too brash to comply, / sentencing them to the deep." "Sold as a Crow" moves into a more political realm, outlining some of the very shady biological weapons research conducted in Fort Detrick, Maryland, USA, after World War II. "A Sovereign Act" moves into the very personal, told from the point of view of someone overdosing on barbiturates to escape a brutal death from terminal cancer: "Self-made ending, transfer the power from the vile form / One last autonomous effort to accept what I've become." Bleak as all these themes may be (and hey, it is metal, after all), it's easy to marvel at the beauty of the storytelling itself.

Earth Diver is truly a brilliant work, and I can't recommend it enough.


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Tagged with 2014, black metal, Cormorant, folk metal, Justin C, Metal Chris, progressive metal

Kylesa - From the Vaults, Vol. 1

Review by Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published here by Exclaim.

Artwork by Shaun Beaudry

This collection of rarities from Savannah, GA's Kylesa is more than a curiosity and, in some respects, is a revising of parts of their catalogue. From the Vaults, Vol. 1 features one entirely new song, entitled "End Truth," in addition to alternative versions of tracks that have been featured on other albums. The record also features a cover of Pink Floyd's "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun."

Kylesa 2011. Photos by François Carl Duguay.

From the Vaults isn't Kylesa's leftovers, but rather a glimpse into alternate universe versions of their material — tracks as they might have been had they followed alternate paths. The songs don't sound like demos, with care and concern obviously put into their presentation, often being remixed and refurbished, which give the songs weight and gloss. The throbbing, powerful drumming is always front and centre, driving through the thick, muscular sludge. From the Vaults is a collection of b-sides presented and packaged as a full-blown studio release, and it's worth the effort.


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Tagged with 2012, François Carl Duguay, Kylesa, Natalie Zina Walschots, progressive sludge metal, Season of Mist, sludge metal

Adrenechrome - Hideous Appetites

Review by Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published here by Exclaim.

Album Art: Tim Kehoe

Based out of Orilla, ON, Adrenechrome compose a surprisingly intelligent form of thrash metal. While I would hesitate to refer to the complexity they inject into the genre as a progressive streak, as there's nothing delicate or overly intellectual about what they are doing, there's nonetheless care and concern in the compositions that pays off. The core of each song features a sweaty, aggressive thrash engine that propels the music forward, but the instrumentation is far more skillful and intricate than just straightforward shredding. "Hymn for the Heathens" has a great classic rock feel to it and opener "Titans Fall" does its mythic subject matter proud. It's also worth noting that Darius Szczepaniak (Sum 41, Sacrifice) produced this album, giving it superior balance and a deep, sumptuous tone one doesn't often hear applied to quick-and-dirty thrash. This is sophisticated low culture


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Tagged with 2012, Adrenechrome, free download, Natalie Zina Walschots, stoner metal, thrash metal

Hellbastard - Sons of Bitches

Written by Natalie Zina Walschots. Originally published here by Exclaim.


UK scene veterans Hellbastard have been active since 1984 and are considered hugely formative to both the crust punk and thrash genres. After disbanding in 1992, they reformed in 2008, and have maintained a prolific output ever since. Their latest EP, Sons of Bitches, is a particularly nasty offering, displaying a profound disgust for the state of the world and actively looking forward to an embattled post-apocalyptic future. Featuring four new tracks, as well as a re-recording of 1988 track "We Had Evidence," the EP is a guttural, uncompromising record that revels in its filth.

Hellbastard 2009. Photos by Carmelo Española

"Throw the Petrol Bomb" has a distinctly ska influence, while the rest have a thicker, less nimble and dirtier approach. Three of the tracks ("System Whore," "Arcadia" and "Sons of Bitches") also appeared on their recent split with Dresden, so if you have already acquired that album, Sons of Bitches is a repetitive release. Aside from this potential catalogue overlap, Sons of Bitches is a strong and substantial EP that continues to demonstrate that Hellbastard reformed because they had more to say.


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Tagged with 2012, Carmelo Española, crossover, crust, Hellbastard, Natalie Zina Walschots, Patac Records, punk, thrash metal

April 6, 2014

Swamphög - Pearls for Swine

Written by Matt Hinch.


When I first came across Pearls for Swine by Baltimore's Swamphög, the RIYL said "for fans of Clutch, Sleep and Electric Wizard." My first reaction was "Cheese and rice! That's the Holy Fucking Trinity!" Needless to say I was anxious to get my bleeding ears on this little EP. Wading into the bog I was at first disappointed that it didn't sound like a combination of those three bands. The disappointment didn't last long as Swamphög have their own energy that's nothing to shake a stick at.

Their swampy (duh!), sludgy metal has a very homegrown feel. In more ways than one. Not only can you feel the walls of the garage around them, but you can probably guess what they were doing in there between practices if you know what I mean. Just listen to the smoky, heavy-lidded riff on "Writhing Sky".

For another example of the kind of southern-tinged dirt-rock the 'Högs are wallowing in, look at the lineup (c/o their Facebook page). Tom Hatch - Geetar and Yellin', Mike Podczaski - Bass geetar and Hollerin' and Jon Bridges - Smackin' things good and hard. Gotta love a sense of humour. But those sorts of descriptors work. Pearls for Swine feels loose and free, relying more on feel, tone and groove than strict technicality.

Digging deep though, there are little variations and subtleties to the grungy stoner riffs that call for another slug of whiskey when heard. Paying that sort of attention as well brings out those Electric Wizard, Sleep and Clutch comparisons from where they've been hiding. "Demiurge" is slow and dirgy, mostly instrumental and displays those drone qualities that would lead one to Sleep. The bit of vocals are quite angry but their counter with the more mellow track is cool enough.

"Writhing Sky" and "Demon Train" hint at Electric Wizard. Both tracks move a little faster than EW though, especially the latter. It propels the listener down the tracks with gusto. And for the Clutch-ness, look no further than closing track "The Unrocker". The trick here (and elsewhere) is this isn't modern day Clutch I'm hearing. You'll have to go back to the start and their Pitchfork EP. That raw, punky aggression hinting at the groove to come filters through here and on "Mighty High Aspirations". Perhaps maybe run through a Weedeater on the way there though.

What else is there to say? The thunderous downtuned riffs are bound to disturb the neighbours, the hollerin' and yellin' reek of smoke and booze, and things are certainly smacked hard. Dirty, groovy, grungy, beardy and catchy. Hitch up the 'Hög, cuz Pearls for Swine sounds like a pretty good idea.


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Tagged with 2014, Grimoire Records, Matt Hinch, sludge metal, Swamphög

April 5, 2014

Gholas - Litanies

Written by Justin C.


I have to admit that it took me a little while to warm up to Gholas's album, Litanies. At first blush, it seemed like perfectly adequate post-metal with hardcore-style vocals and a pleasant hint of Neurosis. Worth a listen, but not something I necessarily would come back to. On repeated listens, though, I found more and more to dig into.

What Gholas does best is keep things moving. A common failure among lesser post-metal bands is to grind away on an idea until there's nothing left, making albums chock-full of 9-minute songs that feel like they're each 20 minutes long. Gholas's riffs are fairly straightforward, but the band fluidly moves from one drone-like riff to the next without letting them get stale. There are a few missteps--the doomy, single-note riff in "Calls Out to the Supplicants" overstays its welcome, in spite of being in the shortest song on the album--but by and large the band's instincts are good, and they don't dwell at the listener's expense.

Even when the band decides to go epic, like in the 10-plus-minute "The Sleeper," they throw in plenty of musical interest if you're willing to put in the time to pick the subtleties out. There's a slow build out of a mostly ambient start into some truly lovely guitar lines. The drummer uses simple but fantastically effective dynamics to propel the song along, and the band even shifts gears into a bit of funeral doom, complete with basement-low growls, before letting the song drift away into a peaceful, fuzzy bliss. Any lull is quickly dispelled by album-closer "The Fighter," which starts out on full blast and, in spite of some experimental, ambient passages, remains one of the heaviest tracks on the album.

This album is definitely worth a try if you enjoy this style of metal, and in fact, I'd say deserves at least a few listens so you can start to pick up what's going on under the surface.


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Tagged with 2014, Gholas, Justin C, post-metal

April 4, 2014

Mantar - Death By Burning

Written by Ulla Roschat.


Death By Burning is Mantar’s first full length album (released Feb.2014 through Svart Records). It follows up their 7” single which quasi was the teaser for this album. It worked with me for it got me hooked immediately, and I couldn't wait for the album to come out.

And it didn't disappoint me. Death By Burning is packed with more of Mantar's addictive grooves and unique style of doomy, black, evil, dirty rock that destroys you faster than you can turn your head to wonder that only two guys with guitar, drums and vocals are able to bring that special broad grin (you know that grin) to your face with which you enjoy your own annihilation.

Just like a horde of ghostly pirates these two guys from Hamburg/Germany attack with sharp, precise and hard-hitting weapons, such as pummeling drums, huge guitar riffs, gritty shouting vocals that add a haunting hysterical insanity to the overall viciousness.

They take doom, punk, rock’n roll, black metal and what not (I don't dare say the s-word, I know they don't like it, but there are traces of that detectable), create a wild, intense mix of all that and ten songs that are tight and straight in structure, thick and heavy in sound. They feed them with aggression and passion and then they hurl them directly into your face. There’s nothing dispensable and nothing missing. Above all they play off each other incredibly well, you could think they do it like forever, which they do not, they are quite young as a band. All that makes their attack so effective and efficient (and efficiency is a dear value, when the number of band members is low).

Last but not least the ten songs of Death by Burning are of a bracing diversity that adds to the joy of getting attacked and slaughtered by those ghost pirates aka Mantar for 45 minutes. I caught myself even at turning the record or hitting the play button way more than once.... with that special broad grin on my face.


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Tagged with 2014, Mantar, sludge metal, Ulla Roschat

April 2, 2014

Taurus - No/Thing

Written by Matt Hinch.


Not surprisingly Taurus's two-song debut, Life slipped by me in 2012. I was just getting "connected" as they say and I missed out. But with Bandcamp I can crawl my way back and check it out. Which I will be doing after hearing new release, No/Thing.

Taurus is a collaboration between Dark Castle's Stevie Floyd and Ashley Spungin (ex-Purple Rhinestone Eagle). Floyd handles guitar, vocals, organ, and ukelele. Spungin takes hold of drums, vocals, synths and samples. From that instrument list alone you should be able to guess No/Thing is going to be fucking weird. And it is.

A pair of short(er) songs by the names of "No/Thing Longing, Human Impermanence" and "Lives Long for Own" start this mind-expansive psychedelic doom album off. "No/Thing Longing"'s industrial rumble and harrowing screams shatter the barriers of closed-mindedness in the first minute to allow Floyd's atonal riffs and Spungin's simple yet effective percussion to doom all over you. Occultish chants reflect the sinister aura while tortured and bewitching screams wrack the nerves. "Lives Long for Own" continues the atonality and ups the evil quotient a notch or two. A repeated sample about escaping from our "fleshy prison" drives home the thematic element of our existence; its fragility, futility, irrelevance and insignificance. Those tracks set the stage for "Set Forth on the Path of the Infinite" and "Increase Aloneness" clocking in at 10:25 and 13:13 respectively.

"Set Forth" really displays Taurus's penchant for experimentalism and non-reliance on structure. Organs drift in and out amid tribal percussion and abstract guitars. Clean vocals and those chilling screams are eerie and terrifying all at once. It feels otherworldly and ritualistic scored by waves of psychedelia.

"Increase Aloneness" travels on the astral planes while keeping a connection to the deeper oneness. It's highly meditative stance draws the consciousness inward to journey beyond the dimension we readily experience. Layered chants surface through seas of droning ambiance putting the listener in a total state of relaxation. Around the 6:00 mark insistent percussion grounds the listener in the here and now, holding them in place until dark and chilling guitars destroy the mellow with a sense of dread that carries through into the track's noisey conclusion.

Album closer "Receed" feels the most atmospheric. Creepy organs permeate the track giving it an aura of human darkness, like the sinister blackness within the soul of humanity. The track swells and uh, recedes repeatedly, furthering Taurus's ability to keep the listener off balance. Guest vocalist Wrest's unearthly growl intensifies the portentous nature of the track and the album as a whole.

When I first listened to No/Thing I was overwhelmed by the urge to disconnect from real life and let the music become my reality. I laid on my back on the floor and spread my arms. Physical sensations fell away and all became light and colour. It moved and shifted, swelled and drifted away. Brilliant flashes were swallowed by the darkness. The unstructured, free-form feel of No/Thing lent itself perfectly to the subconscious contemplation of the themes explored on the album. We are but dust amid the cosmos. We live, we die, we transform. We were nothing, we will become nothing again.

Despite the terror and dark aura surrounding No/Thing there's a contentment that comes from giving yourself over to it, absorbing it and understanding it. It's depth is vast and multi-layered, begging to be explored.


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Tagged with 2014, doom metal, drone, Matt Hinch, Taurus

April 1, 2014

Locktender - Rodin

Written by Matt Hinch.


For those who don't know, Locktender are a four-piece outfit based out of Cleveland. What they do is take artists and their work (non-musical) and interpret them into songs. As their bio states "Every album is an artist, every song a different work." For their debut, Kafka they transformed Franz Kafka's Zurau Aphorisms. For their newest installation, Locktender have chosen sculptor Auguste Rodin as the subject. As you would expect the album is entitled Rodin.

How they create these odes to art is through what one would consider post-hardcore, experimental in nature and emotional at its core. Artcore if you will. But in a non-pretentious and totally awesome way.

Rodin consists of four tracks covering around 40 minutes. The two shorter tracks reside at opposite ends of the sonic spectrum. "The Thinker" (Rodin's most famous work) packs in an inspiring four minutes. Crashing, angular, noisy hardcore throttles the listener with speed, dissonance and authoritative vocals. It moves with the speed of thought and the force of action until its halfway mark when clean vocals and open melodies spread their wings. The two extremes focus their energy together with breathtaking elegance into the song's conclusion.

"Eternal Springtime" on the other hand is an instrumental track consisting of gentle guitar and graceful violin. Their interplay is excellent, dancing together in harmony to create an intense feeling of peace and well being.

The other tracks, "The Burghers of Calais" and "The Man with the Broken Nose" clock in at 19:41 and 12:13 respectively. Both tracks toy with dynamics effortlessly. Destroying with volume, tone and negative energy one moment, delicacy and fragility dominating the next. Locktender work both sides superbly, holding the listener's attention despite the long run times. Jangly chords and gorgeous melodies coalesce with vicious growls, subtle yet dextrous bass and measured and menacing percussion to evoke maximum emotional response.

Where Locktender are able to separate themselves from the false dynamic dilettantes of emotional emulation is in how they are able to convey the full palate of human expression with a precise artfulness. True art is about digging within and making something out of it, of turning oneself inside out and showing that to the world. There is ugliness and beauty in all of us. Rodin saw this and Locktender have translated it into another form. With Rodin you'll experience , waxing and waning through states of confusion and clarity, chaos and peace, anger and contentment. Locktender's vision is forever lucid in its intent but somehow feels powerless to control the end result. Just like life.

This is more than entertainment. This is art. At its conclusion Rodin will leave you just as exhausted as say, death metal but Locktender weave portraits out of sound to drain your energy instead of pinning you to the ground and mindlessly bashing away. No matter how intricately they deliver the blows, some styles of metal are simply entertainment. Not this.

Rodin is taxing on the emotional level. It expands and contracts, takes the long road up and down, high and low, inward, outward through bad and good. Locktender pit the abrasive against the embracive, the abusive against the effusive and in the end the experience is wholly fulfilling.

Like many artists and their art, full appreciation comes long after the fact. No mater how admirable the work, how enduring it may be, truly great art is sadly often overlooked in its own time. Here's hoping that fate doesn't befall Locktender and Rodin. Do yourself a favour and take it in, feel it, analyze it, assimilate it and above all, appreciate it.

N.B. Upon completing my initial draft of this review I went back to the press release to double check some things and found the following buried at the bottom of the email. Isn't it amazing when a band is able to express exactly what they were aiming to and have the listener pick up on it!
The vulgar readily imagine that what they consider ugly in existence is not fit subject for the artist. It is a great error on their part. What is commonly called ugliness in nature can, in art, become full of great beauty. There is nothing ugly in art except that which is without character, that is to say, that which offers no outer or inner truth.


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Tagged with 2014, free download, Locktender, Matt Hinch, post-hardcore