Written by: The Administrator
The metal community has used metalcore (and its affiliates) as the butt of a joke for so long that many of us have forgotten or neglected its true strength: namely, a vehicle for the explosive expression of emotion. The stigma certainly has a basis in, y'know, a veritable bevy of lackluster exemplars of the style, but the general notion that "metalcore = intrinsically bad" is an obviously unfair burden to place upon the diamonds in the rough. While many of us are understandably cynical, there's a lot of very good metalcore out there that remains hidden behind prejudicial assumptions about the style, and that's a damn shame.
In any case, today's two-track demonstrates quite well the aforementioned strength of the style: an ability to convey feelings like anger and angst in a notably volatile and cathartic fashion. These dual singles from L.A's own AFTERMYFALL illustrate the success one can find when deliberately borrowing from other genres, injecting a little heartfelt authenticity, and avoiding the performative pitfalls that plague the dregs of 'core.
Written by: Izzy
Black metal since its very inception has excelled in creating metals darkest and coldest soundscapes, influenced as much by the frozen winds of Norway as by the raw and satanic thrash and death metal that preceded it. I think few bands have truly captured that purest essence of chilling lo-fi atmosphere as effectively as Paysage d’Hiver.
Wintherr’s music is instantly recognizable even amongst a vast sea of similar raw black metal bands who still follow in the footsteps of the OG Nordic scene. This distinct but simplistic approach of evil, foreboding chords, dark ambient and dungeon synths, and his iconic distorted vocals manages to always deliver something I enjoy.
FRESH MEAT...erm, SATURDAY: April 17th, 2021, Feat. Bushido Code and Mother Anxiety / S H R I E K I N G
Every Friday (erm...or Saturday, folks), a wagon arrives at the Sleeping Village’s rusted palisade, stuffed to the brim with musical sustenance. Today is the day we must offload this week's new and noteworthy music, and so, in the process, we thought it would be worthwhile to share some of our choice picks from this veritable mass of fresh meat. This is what we’ll be listening to today at the Village HQ. We hope you join us in doing so!
This week marked the release of a whole lot o' stellar music, but we opted to focus on two albums rather than our typical four. As such, please accept these delayed-albeit-longer-than-usual reviews. - Ed.
On the docket for today, April 17th, 2021:
Bushido Code and Mother Anxiety / S H R I E K I N G
Bushido Code - The Ronin
Before we get too far into it: how 'bout that opening riff? Muscular, pugilistic, and delightfully earmwormy. Needless to say, The Ronin's title track is exactly what ye might expect from a band that bills itself as a hearty metal/thrash/hardcore crossover conglomerate. The tracks that hit do so with a notable gusto, and the energy contained within the first half of the album is quite infectious, coated with an unexpectedly fun and groovy patina. As such, Bushido Code operate best when they embrace the intrinsic physicality of their work.
While one might expect a typical bruiser-ish crossover lyrical route, "The Ronin" opts for character-driven storytelling over tough guy posturing, which is always a bonus in this line of work. Critically, the album does lose a little steam and sheer headbanging energy in the back half after interlude "Prelude to Battle," and makes me wonder if it would have landed even harder as an EP with all the fluff neatly trimmed away. But let's be real: for a 29 minute album, I ain't complaining all that much. Listening to this thing inevitably results in a whole lotta sweat and a very sore neck. It serves as prime "get pumped" music, and, as such, has found itself employed in mighty fine service down at the ol' home gym. If yer on the hunt for the juiciest cuts, give "Ronin," "Aftermath," and "Relic of War" a listen, and throw 'em on your workout playlist for good measure.
Find it on bandcamp here!
Mother Anxiety & S H R I E K I N G - Isolation Diary
Confession time: I went into this release with a certain trepidation, despite a favorable familiarity with both artists featured. The trepidation came from the subject matter itself, and the prospect of immersing myself fully. In a not-yet-post-COVID-world, the impact of isolation is a sore subject, and living through the eyes of not one but two distinct projects was intimidating. After many, many listens, it still is. I think that's a good thing.
Like unto the best of experimental music, this stellar split between solo acts Mother Anxiety and S H R I E K I N G is not immediately digestible. Given the complex arrangement of ambient, drone, post metal-- punctuated by the occasional blackened outburst or assorted spoken word samples--each of the nine tracks herein takes significant time to explore. As someone who thrives on releases that merit multiple listens in a variety of environments, I feel fully consumed by this split in a way that is equally satisfying and confusing.
The first half, home to Mother Anxiety, presents a largely half-conscious atmosphere and ambiance, featuring a quiet cacophony of hushed voices and assorted electronic noises. Listening to these four tracks feels intrusive in a wholly unique fashion: this is like listening to the inside of my own skull, witnessing undeveloped thoughts tumble and collapse. "Entry 4" is the culmination, and it illustrates the yoke of anxiety with frightening accuracy. These entries are not meditative; Mother Anxiety's half feels like a reflection of a consciousness under constant duress. In contrast, S H R I E K I N G's contribution feels more outward--its (frankly indescribable) confluence of genre allows for more sonic range. That said, it still feels intensely individual, which, given the overarching theme of loneliness, indicates a Job Well Done. While the first half feels inwardly panicked, S H R I E K I N G somehow uses chaos to impart a deep sense of heart wrenching sadness. This is genuinely tear-inducing stuff, and I don't have the words to articulate why. That's uncomfortable, but it is also a demonstration that this split has succeeded enormously at what it set out to do. Bravo.
Find Mother Anxiety here and S H R I E K I N G here
Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
In life, sometimes we need a break. Be it the stresses of life, exhaustion, etc., humans need a breather. That goes for music as well. As much as I love and worship metal, especially extreme metal, I find myself in need of calmer and more meditative music to help satiate that desire.
Hence: here we have My Silent Wake. A doom metal troup from England... but this album is quite different. This album is a detour for the band and showcases an ambient/acoustic/folk side to their sound. This is my first ever experience with this band, so lets dive in to see how this album plays out.
Right off the bat, you are reminded that ATMOSPHERE IS KEY. These compositions are gorgeous and stunning. I found myself becoming lost in the beauty of these songs and how dense the atmosphere is.
SLOW DRAW - Gallo (Double Review)
And now for something a little different, both in format and in sonic content! To adequately assess the latest offering from Slow Draw, two Village-dwellers--Continuous Thunder and The Administrator--took up the pen to express (complimentary) views, making for a somewhat rare double review 'round these parts. Without further ado:
Written by: Continuous Thunder
I’d like to start this with a bit of a disclaimer that I went into this album with no previous knowledge of Slow Draw or Stone Machine Electric (something I will be correcting immediately). I just saw the drone tag and I hit play. Drone can mean any number of things, but as this was a drone project of a member of a stoner band, I went in with expectations of good vibes and ultra-long riffs. What I didn’t expect was just how sparse the arrangements would be. Seriously, there’s little more than an electric piano, synths, and a guitar at any given moment on this album, and it lines up more with ambient music than drone.
Sparsity in music can be a blessing or a curse. On one hand, it strips things down to their bare elements, removing any fluff or embellishments that distract from the core of the composition. On the other, it reveals just how strong or weak a composition actually is. I think back to the last album from Earth where they dialed back the fuzz and reverb and had to lean on their riffs more than the atmosphere. Gallo does the same thing but to an even greater extent. The guitars are (mostly) acoustic, buzzy synths only serve as a backdrop, and there is very little, if any, percussion.
Written by: Ancient Hand
San Marcos’s This Will Destroy You should need no introduction at this point; the Texas post-rock group has seen plenty of success and experimentation in their now 16-year-old career. The group’s 2008 self-titled album is considered by many to be their magnum opus, and I am included in this group. That record is a beautiful blend of instrumentation that culminates into a moving and beautiful journey across an auditory version of the American Southwest. After 12 more years and plenty of other albums, we finally get the standalone release of Vespertine, the soundtrack to the high-class, two-Michelin star restaurant of the same name. The soundtrack has been available to those that have been in the restaurant for a few years now, but This Will Destroy You has finally released the soundtrack for the rest of us to enjoy.
TEKARRA/MALAMADRE - Split
Demonstrating adherence to a vague moral code, this particular villager will only review a split release if there's a fair balance between the parties involved. If a split is inherently weighted in an obvious fashion, it's simply not worth touting around a recommendation of the package as a whole. This is all to say that this (fairly mysterious) 2-track from Alberta's Tekarra and Mexico's Malamadre fits the bill quite well, thankyouverymuch. Both tracks here hold up, with graceful ease, its respective end of the bargain, and thus, a successful split is born. At risk of showing all my card, this fine little effort is a slow and exceedingly worthwhile burn.
Tekarra starts things off with the massive Barbaric Tools, a simultaneously deathy and droning slab of feedback-ridden amp worship. As one might expect, this living mountain of a track clocks in at over ten minutes--a slow burn, but ruthlessly effective in it's delivery. Over the course, Tekarra unleashes anticipatory waves of distortion-heavy (and indeed centric) riffage. Supplication before the the amplifier is the name of the game, and if you're new to drone, Tekarra invites you in with a warm tone and welcome arms.
Some quirky soloing and extended bouts of hypnotically intense feedback round out the guitar's delivery, lending the track a sense of character that all-too-oft goes amidst in the genre's more lackluster efforts. It's unique identity is only strengthened by the addition of crushingly heavy vocals, absolutely massive in stature. While everything remains audible, the production does lean towards the reedy side of the spectrum. In some sense, this gets the track a uniquely antiqued feel that, frankly, I've come to greatly enjoy over repeat rotations. For that gut-wrenching punch we've come to anticipate from modern doom, however, a little extra heft and girth will throw these guys in with the heavyweights. It's a great track regardless, and I'm interested to see what these potential heavyweights hit us with next.
But Tekarra aren't the only headliners here, and Malamadre, to their credit, follow up with great aplomb. Without the benefit of vocals, the appropriately entitled Cataclismo makes subtle, sparse, and incredibly effective use of drums to fill the Less a mere necessity, each cymbal hit is a statement. By design, there is limited space for any real crescendo until the very end, and Malamadre actually get by quite well by simply offering minor changes to the riff structure and percussive patterns. That's not to say the back half doesn't make exceptionally great use of noisy elements to draw things towards a natural conclusion. The entire track feels wondrously organic--somehow alien and monstrous, when compared to Tekarra's more deliberate riffage. Appropriately enough, Malamadre state that their "slow and colossal riffs" are inspired by "legends of the great kaiju." Evident enough, and well executed. Cataclismo is supremely effective in building up an inevitable catharsis.
Both of these tracks strike me with their ability to take the unexpected and use it productively against the listener. Given Tekarra's runtime, I was expecting a drawn out affair, and yet, not so much. These 10 minutes hardly feel like 5, and that is truly an accomplishment. Malamadre, to their credit, succeed enormously without vocals, utilizing well-conceived and exceedingly deliberate instrumentation to great effect. They work off each other quite well, each illustrating and inhabiting a distinct persona of doom metal's drone-ier side. As a split should.
Tekarra / Malamadre's split was released April 5th, and can be found at their respective bandcamps.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!