Sunday, August 23, 2015

Transmissions from the Tree of Woe, Volume 1

By Atanamar Sunyata. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about metal, but those thoughts have failed to coalesce into the ever elusive “album review” of late.
By Atanamar Sunyata.

I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about metal, but those thoughts have failed to coalesce into the ever elusive “album review” of late. Max has been so kind as to give me a venue for this firehose of metal mindfulness. Please consider this the first in a series of first person posts featuring whatever the fuck is tickling my brain. You have been warned. Besides, I don’t believe in objectivity.

Artwork by Paul Romano

Withered are a band with a singular vision; they've rubbed dank drabs of Sunlight sound on black metal and drowned it all in atmospheric doom. Their warm, subterranean sonic adventures return frequently to my playlist. Withered are also a band due for a new album. Their fourth LP is on the way, and it was recently revealed that Colin Marston (Gorguts, Krallice, everything) plays bass on the recording. This news sent me off into a Withered wormhole where I discovered the band's dedicated Bandcamp page. Therein can be found Folie Circulaire, the band's second album and my favorite to date. Enough will never be had.

Artwork by Adam Peterson

Nile also have a new album on the way, and the death metal devotee in me is cautiously optimistic. My history with the band is checkered. I bought Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka sight unseen from the Relapse Resound catalog when it first came out. As archaic as the idea sounds today, a physical music & merch catalog had a powerful pull on my 20 year old self. That album was an instant classic in my ears, and I ended up seeing the band live a few too many times in that era. I burned out on Nile after Black Seeds of Vengeance, reconnecting only a decade later. The love affair has continued on and off through the band's catalog, flaring up and flaming out by turns. Their new album will no undoubtedly be absent from Bandcamp (Nuclear Blast are stubborn fucks), but the Relapse era LPs are all there. My favorite Nile albums at the moment are Amongst the Catacombs , Annihilation of the Wicked, and Those Whom the Gods Detest (from Nuclear Blast). I'm hoping What Should Not Be Unearthed will rate.

As love affairs go, my Martyrdöd man-crush is unrelenting. Their stellar performance at Maryland Deathfest cemented the band's status as most heroic purveyors of addictive d-beat by way of melodic NWOBHM dual-guitar mastery. Riffs, son. Riffs.

Martyrdöd at MDF. Awful photo by Atanamar

Call this music whatever you want, but it's simply incomparable. That's a problem, of course; I want more. Having said that, I have no allegiance to d-beat, crust, or any of its accoutrements. In fact, I could care less.

Cover collage by Vladimír Vacovský

A balm for that crusty Swedish longing appeared out of nowhere, though, to take the edge off. Say hello to Gattaca. Again, d-beats and crusty punk mechanizations are merely tools of the band's trade. Their self-titled LP is a vessel of dark melody, raging riff-torrents, and satisfying story-arcs. Imagine seering snippets of Neurosis if they could comprehend brevity, or early Pelican on a boatload of amphetamines. Also, Gattaca are vegans; this is relevant to my interests. I dig.

Cover painting by Dan Alex Rivera.

I recently received an album promo by a band proudly calling their music "Dissonant Death Metal." This was jarring; I've described dozens of death metal albums as dissonant, but I've never seen it called out as a thing, a discrete genre to which bands might aspire. I love me some Gorguts, and I enjoy many of the fruits that have sprouted from their sonic loins (Artificial Brain, Pyrrhon, Auroch, etc). That style of music, however, loses its appeal when dissonance itself becomes the focus; there are a lot of skronking hot, technically proficient turds floating around these days. I was surprised, then, to actually be drawn into the album of which I speak. Dystrophy claim allegiance to unrest and incongruity, but they possess the rare gift of songwriting skill. Amidst riffs that threaten to rend space and time, engaging currents of sensibility hold sway. Wretched Host is eminently earworthy and may scratch an aural itch their contemporaries miss.

Until next time, ponder the riddle of steel.

Tagged with 1998, 2005, 2008, 2015, Atanamar Sunyata, black metal, crust, d-beat, death metal, Dystrophy, free download, Gattaca, Martyrdöd, Nile, Relapse Records, Southern Lord Recordings, technical death metal, Withered
1 comment:
  1. My journey with Nile is very similar to yours, although I was about seven years younger: I spotted a seemingly Egyptian themed band on Relapse records in the bit at my local music store purchased without hearing a note. I was hooked from the first listen, and saw them in Denver on their first tour. Since then, they've definitely been hit or miss unfortunately. I'd add In Their Darkened Shrines to the list of good stuff they've done. The new one is a stinker though.