By Aaron Sullivan. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you may have noticed a huge influx of Black Metal bands out of Iceland recently. Bands like Svartidauði, Sinmara, Misþyrming, and Zhrine. But to be honest, none have really done much for me. With the exception of one, Ljáin.By Aaron Sullivan.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you may have noticed a huge influx of Black Metal bands out of Iceland recently. Bands like Svartidauði, Sinmara, Misþyrming, and Zhrine. But to be honest, none have really done much for me. With the exception of one, Ljáin. Jef Whitehead (Leviathan, Lurker of Chalice) posted them on his Instagram, and if he’s promoting them then who am I not to check it out. Glad I did.
The two albums are atmospheric and raw at the same time. Vocal deep in the mix adding the cacophony of it all. Shifting rhythms keeping things from getting stale. Reminds me of a less chaotic Skaphe (who is half Icelandic themselves). How these guys have not been signed yet is a mystery to me. So check them out before they are so you can say, “I knew them before they were signed to <label name here>”.
|Artwork Daniel Obzejta|
Out of my scene here in L.A. comes Wovoka and their album Saros. How would I describe this band you ask? Well imagine if you will Neurosis and YOB making sweet sweet love. Go on, do it. Good. Now the love child produced by that love making would undoubtedly be Wovoka. The atmosphere and vocals of Neurosis combined with the riffs and sheer towering tone of YOB. First time seeing them live was like being run over by a herd of slow moving elephants. Their sound fills your ears to maximum capacity. Glacial in movement and in weight.
From the windy city comes the artist J.R. Robinson. He is the mastermind behind the band Wrekmeister Harmonies. When it started it out the band was more of a collective. J.R. being the main guy and with each album bringing in a slew of artist from the Chicago scene and elsewhere. Names like Sanford Parker, Jef Whitehead, Bruce Lamont, Marissa Nadler, and many others. The songs, like on my favorite album of his You've Always Meant So Much to Me, were sprawling 30 minute plus slow burns of jammy rock ambience rising and rising until a giant crescendo. Combining elements of DOOM, and experimentation, post-rock, and drone. Like a darker Godspeed You! Black Emperor. He expanded upon this for the next two albums. But with his latest Light Falls, some things have changed.
For one he has a permanent band mate in the multi-instrumentalist Esther Shaw. Two, no more 30 minute plus songs. The album contains seven songs that are no doubt connected (as evidenced by the title track broken into three pieces) but can also stand alone. Having been fortunate to have seen him live several times I get the feeling it was these live shows that may have informed this albums shorter song lengths. They have a real live feel to them. But then what do I know. Maybe the man just needed a change. Either way this is still a worthy addition to an already great catalogue of music.
Wreck and Reference. A band that recently was listed in an article on Invisible Oranges titled, 10 of the Heaviest Modern Bands Without Guitars, I would agree. I first heard them on their second album Want. I was struck immediately. To be that heavy in mood, to be that aggressive vocally, drumming with such power, and while not a metal band, sure feeling like one.
Their evolving catalogue is well documented on this site. With their new album, Indifferent Rivers Romance End, the mood is still heavy but the music, not as much. Softer in tone perhaps but not in message. This album feels more open allowing the layers to be heard more. I know the word “mature” is sometimes seen as a bad word for some. But I think it describes this album well. They have honed their anger and depression. So instead of firing a shotgun that spreads their sadness anywhere and everywhere. They instead use a heat seeking missile to annihilate their intended target. Who ever that poor unfortunate person may be, even if it's pointed at the band themselves.
Last, but certainly not least, another band from my Los Angeles scene is Skyeater. Made up of former musicians of Crowhurst (they were on the self-titled album) and now going about it on their own. But don’t expect that type of Black Metal, this is atmospheric and ritualistic. They combine the atmosphere of Lluvia and the ritualistic feel of Merkaba. The drumming is top notch. The thing I dig the most is they have three vocalist with three distinctive vocal styles. One a guttural black metal style, another almost depressive suicidal, and the other black metal style with just a hint on hardcore style in it. Don’t think the rawness is only a result of this being a demo. It translates to the live sound also.
They are currently in the process of recording their full length at Earhammer Studios with Greg Wilkinson (Asunder, Lycus, Fórn) at the helm. To be released next year on Baneful Genesis Records.