Written by: Lord Hsrah
The last ten or so days have been immensely heavy for me, I must confess. I'm not sure if this is the aftermath of the lockdown or is it just the feelies, but my existential dread and depressive episodes have never been this high before. It's been real doom and gloom hours. These aren't those times when the 3AM feels hit you, you cry yourself to sleep and the next morning you're all ready and up to face whatever's coming at you--no, no, no--these are the hard ones that persist for days. In this absolutely down-and-out period, Australian depressive black metal outfit Cancer's Opioid has been an ethereal companion to me, and while coping has been tough, there's solace in knowing I'm not alone. Let's talk.
In the rush to cover the constant waves of new music, we all too often neglect discussing the releases that leave the most substantial impressions in our lives. As such, we recently invited some bands and artists to wax poetic about an album that was deeply impactful or influential to them, either musically or personally. The next guest in line to graciously offer a retrospective in this series is one Erin Palmer, sole member of raw black metal outfit Dread Maw, as well as raw black metal/black n' roll entity Rage of Devils. Once yer done reading this retrospective, check out both projects!
Written by: Erin Palmer
I went through several years where, for multiple reasons, I wasn't enjoying metal.
One of the hallmarks of OCD is intrusive thoughts. Irrational thoughts that come into your head out of nowhere, but feel so gut-wrenchingly real that you can't help but give them credence. Mine started in 2011, and they told me that I wasn't “allowed” to like metal.
Simply saying that doesn't convey the fear that came with those thoughts. It was a sick feeling in my stomach that I was doing something wrong by listening to metal. It wasn't based in anything real; no religious background was responsible, for example. My head just told me that I wasn't allowed to listen to my favorite music, and my insides turned to water.
Written by: Ancient Hand
“Blackgaze” is a term that immediately disgusts and turns off purists of straight forward, Satan-worshipping, formulaic black metal. The image of modern hipsters wearing skinny jeans while writing black metal in basements is stomach-churning to some who would rather imagine 90’s hipsters wearing skinny jeans while writing black metal in basements. “Blackgaze” is a term openly embraced by Canada’s Unreqvited. Tagged on the project’s new album, Empathica, is the controversial term itself. Additionally, the album is self-described to contain “shimmering blackgaze melodies and grandiose orchestral segments.”
The second part of this description, though, is where the innovation lies. We’ve all heard an album make use of beautiful guitar melodies paired with tremolo picking and relentless drumming, but Unreqvited’s ability to roll symphonic and orchestral elements into the music is quite groundbreaking when experienced on this new LP.
Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
There is darkness within all of us; it doesn't matter who you are. Rather, it all matters on how you handle it. Some resort to writing lyrics, painting, or various other art forms. Unfortunately some pick more destructive means. Sojourner does the former, using melancholy as a tool to add to their already highly atmospheric blend of black metal and folk metal. Premonitions marks the third album from the international atmospheric metal band, and their first album on new label Napalm Records. Do they succeed in expanding their darker and more melancholy emotions on this album? Let us begin.
"The Monolith" begins on a grand note. We are greeted to the gorgeous vocals of guitarist/clean vocalist Chloe Bray, who's voice really helps add to the scope of this tune. You are transported to a vast open field with the music taking you by the hand and comforting you on your journey.
Written by: Heavy Grinder
When a friend tells you a band is a mash of Tool, Rush, Jerry Cantrell, plus some post-Black, well, the only appropriate response is “I’ll fucks.” You are virtually obligated to give it a spin and see if the hype sticks, as it is a no-lose situation. If the band lives up, well then you have gold in your ears. If not, you have an opportunity to rib your buddy for being overly dramatic.
The over-dramatization wins in this case, as Gates to the Morning is not a perfect mash of the above legends. That does not mean it disappoints either, because the above combination is a unicorn sasquatch, never to be seen in the flesh. Gates presents an intriguing mix of styles not normally associated with one another. The progressive element clearly is dominant throughout, and the Black influences end up being only a small part of the piece, leaving echoes of an old early 90’s alternative feel to balance out the sound. The melodies in "My Star" and "Two Winters" would fit right in on a Toad the Wet Sprocket LP if played on a backbeat in 4/4. That’s no insult, Toad is a great band and I loved how well Gates gels their influences together.
Written by: Reese
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably a big fan of atmospheric black metal, but not so much a fan of the recent blackened synth craze that’s been sweeping the underground. You’ve probably also got a recurring itch on your back that’s frustratingly just out of reach. Maybe that one is just me though. But I digress, it’s not hard for me to get swept up in a good atmospheric black metal album, but I’m much pickier with my ambient music. That’s why I’m such a big fan of Moulderyawn; this one-man black metal band truly brings together the best of both worlds in a way that’s both interesting and engaging.
A Dreamworld’s Oeuvre is Moulderyawn’s second full-length album. I became aware of this band after discovering their 2016 debut album, From Whence the Woods, on Bandcamp, and while I was a fan of that album, A Dreamworld’s Oeuvre is on an entirely different level. On past releases, the ratio of ambient to metal has been roughly 40:60, but on ADO it’s much closer to a 50:50 balance. Normally that would be a huge red light for someone like me who isn’t much of an ambient listener, but Moulderyawn's way of approaching songwriting allows the ambient soundscapes to be worked into the album in a manner that feels dynamic and robust. The fluid transitions from black metal to ambient make the album feel like one multi-textured movement rather than several black metal songs broken up by unrelated ambient interlude tracks, like many albums of this nature do.
But of course it’s the black metal that has me coming back. A Dreamworld’s Oeuvre is paradoxically a pretty album and an abrasively raw album. Part of ADO’s charm is the album’s ability to create something beautiful from such “crude” building blocks. A gorgeous chord scale is still a gorgeous scale even when it’s played with several layers of distortion, and Moulderyawn realize this. They took that ball and ran with it as far as they could. The whole album feels like you’re in a lucid dream that you can’t wake up from; on one hand it’s very surreal and pretty, but on the other hand something feels “wrong” and there’s a pervasive malevolence that gives ADO a real set of teeth, as any good black metal album should have.
In the vocal department we’ve got all the usual shrieks, yelps and howls you’d expect from this style of depressive black metal, and mercifully absent is the clean singing that stains so many albums of this variety. Moulderyawn keep things grim and nasty, and when they want to give listeners a moment of calm to catch their breath, they let the music speak for itself. In keeping with the surreal, dreamlike theme of the album, the vocals are drenched in feedback and static; they sound like they’re being performed in a long hallway and being listened to through an old radio.
If this album is any indication, this is going to be a very good year for black metal. Had A Dreamworld’s Oeuvre been released last year it would have easily been among the year’s best. Sadly, ADO is set to be Moulderyawn’s final album, at least for the foreseeable future. But it’s a good note to bow out on, and a good record to be remembered for.
Moulderyawn - A Dreamworld’s Oeuvre was released Jan. 2019
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!