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].

Kamancello - Of Shadows

By Justin C. Cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne is no stranger to Metal Bandcamp at this point. Matt Hinch recently reviewed his solo album Worlds Within on these very pages just a few weeks ago. Matt listed Weinroth-Browne’s metal bonafides--including Musk Ox and Leprous--but he’s no slacker when it comes to other projects.
By Justin C.

Artwork by Maahy

Cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne is no stranger to Metal Bandcamp at this point. Matt Hinch recently reviewed his solo album Worlds Within on these very pages just a few weeks ago. Matt listed Weinroth-Browne’s metal bonafides--including Musk Ox and Leprous--but he’s no slacker when it comes to other projects. Kamancello is a duo, featuring Weinroth-Browne’s cello contrasted with Shahriyar Jamshidi’s kamanche, a Persian stringed instrument, bowed like a cello, which is prominent in music from Iran, Kurdistan, and other nearby Middle Eastern countries. As played by Jamshidi, it features sounds similar to the cello, but in a higher register and with a raspier timbre.

Of Shadows is the duo’s third album, and I’ll give you the highlight right from the top: The entire album is improvised and unedited. Now, depending on your depth of musical interest, you may have heard a jazz combo or two, and those might have shown you the fine line between masterful improvisation and “oh god why are we listening to a 20-minute trombone solo.” Kamancello are firmly in the former category, but they take it even a step further. Unlike improvising over a jazz standard with a fixed chord progression, Kamancello approaches their songs with the most minimal planning. Weinroth-Browne told me that sometimes he and Jamshidi will agree on a Persian mode or key signature beforehand, but sometimes not even that. They keep contrasting moods in mind for the progression of the tracks over the course of the album. Sometimes they’ll use alternate tunings for their instruments. But if you, like me, conjured an idea of the two men meeting in a room, silently nodding, and beginning to play, you’re not far off.

There is an extraordinary amount of communication here. Sometimes it’s relatively straightforward--you can hear a distinct call and response between the two artists late in “The Rider,” but you’ll find more subtle interactions elsewhere. “Dance of Shadows” finds the duo merging to a single melodic line before diverging again. “To Mourn” has melodies that wind around each other, elevating the song beyond a simple dirge to a piece as complex as the process of mourning itself.

If you’re worried that this will be strictly classical music that you might not be interested in or otherwise attuned to, think again. “On the Precipice” will tempt you to bang your head--maybe just a little--or at least tap your foot to the driving rhythms. The players use every sound texture available to them. Sweetly bowed passages, staccato plucked lines, and even the occasional percussive sound with a finger tapped on the body of one instrument or another. Sometimes you’ll even be convinced you’re hearing a vocal melody, perhaps in a language you don’t understand.

The fact that these improvised pieces stand as fully realized compositions--sometimes much more so than songs that have been meticulously planned--is a testament to the level of artistic communication between these two musicians. They straddle the line between “music made for musicians” and easily accessible melodies and rhythmic figures that anyone can immediately grasp and enjoy. A balance is struck between music to get lost in and music to absorb while fully present. It’s a stunning work, and I heartily recommend it and their previous two albums.