Welcome back, weary traveler! Firstly, if ye missed Part 1 of this mid-year extravaganza, we highly recommend checking that out first. If you're already familiar with what this is all about, however: thanks so much for reading and returning for more! As always, we appreciate your patronage and your support, particularly now that our humble halls are filled with an exciting array of guest writers who deserve to have their words read.
Again, this collaborative list is far from exhaustive, and represents but a fraction of our collective favorites. As such, please feel free to leave a comment with a recommendation or two! List season is a great time to show the musicians that we love a little well-deserved support, and if you wanna shout someone out, this is as good a time as any. In that spirit, I'd like to once again offer thanks to everyone who helped make this list a reality and a success.
Without further ado, let's dive in! Today's list is a tad longer than the first, so pull up a chair, put up yer feet, and stay a while.
FRESH MEAT FRIDAY: April 23rd, 2021, Feat. Frog Mallet, AntiMozdeBeast, Akiavel, and The Last Martyr
Every Friday, a wagon arrives at the Sleeping Village’s crumbling gates, stuffed to the brim with our sustenance for the following week. Today is the day we must offload all 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--and have been--listening to this week at the Village HQ. We hope you join us in doing so!
All of today's releases are independently released, so show 'em some support!
On the docket for today, April 23rd, 2021:
Frog Mallet, AntiMozdeBeast, Akiavel, and The Last Martyr
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: Izzy
Cut from the same cloth as many similar Obscura-worshipping avant-garde technical death metal outfits, Ad Nauseam got a fair bit of attention for their debut release, Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est, an album I personally enjoyed. It was filled with complex, angular and abrasive melodies mixed with a subtle sense for melody, but I felt it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been and was more indicative of where the band could go. Its not a new or original idea to make dissonant skronky tech metal inspired by classical compositions, and I felt Nihil Quam was held back by falling into many of the microgenres cliches, thereby not doing enough to really make themselves stand out amongst the crowd.
Village stalwart Izzy is delivering a fresh retrospective review every Friday! Make sure to check in weekly for a dose of nostalgia. - Ed.
Written by: Izzy
In spite of my adoration for many of punk’s subgenres, from metalcore to screamo to post-hardcore and more, I tend to struggle with enjoying the older and purer forms of punk. I could talk about the three aforementioned styles for hours and hours, but ask me about my favourite hardcore punk bands and my mind goes blank. Like, there’s uh…I like a couple Black Flag albums I guess? Crass and Spazz are okay too, and there’s a handful of Japanese hardcore bands like Gauze or Crow that I enjoy a lot, oh there’s Rudimentary Peni! Those guys are amazing. What about Midori, do they count? Eh they’re probably too artsy to be hardcore punk, much closer to jazz punk. I could maybe come up with one or two more, but you get the point.
Amongst that tiny list of bands, Fucked Up would probably seem like an odd choice, as most people know them for their later punk rock opera albums, but rather early into their career yet quite late in the grand scheme of hardcore punk sits an oddity dear to my heart: their 2008 sophomore LP The Chemistry of Common Life.
Written by: Adam Paris
This is an album for staring into the ocean, watching the respiring of the sea, until your vision goes out of focus and you are no longer able to tell whether the shapes and shadows you see are a product of you or the waters. It is the kind of immersion in which the self is, for a moment, dissolved into something larger. This is an album that clears space and moves you through it--or moves it around you.
The album opens with 'The Grave Receives You': we feel a storm approaching over vast plains; the cold wind before a hailstorm; and, then: it breaks over us, guitar striking chaotically amid a vortex of drums, creating a dizzying rotary speaker effect.
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 second guest to graciously offer a retrospective in this series is Chris H of antifacist blackened outfit Phryne. Read on!
Written by: Chris H
The first time I listened to The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails was in 2015. At that time, I was starting to find myself listening to heavier music, and I was venturing to discover all the classic hallmarks of metal. Industrial had always been interesting to me, but as a kid I was always too afraid of the dark imagery to really listen. When I sat down to listen to The Downward Spiral--the first industrial album I decided to listen to--and pressed play, I heard the sounds of a man being beaten in a strangely rhythmic fashion. At that moment, I was uneasy and wondering if I should keep going and listen on, but as the sample from the film THX 1138 crescendoed into a chaotic noisescape, I gave in and was transported to the grimy world Trent Reznor had created. “Mr. Self Destruct” is still one of my favorite album openers because of its raw attack and energy. It is the perfect beginning to the experience that is The Downward Spiral.
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.
Captain Graves is on what we earthlings might refer to as "a tear," and I'm certainly not going to stand in his way. Enjoy his latest treatise. - Ed.
I've been kept busy over here at The Village. They took me to their vomit pits for a glorious session. Watching feeble humans excrete from every orifice is quite satisfying if I do say so myself, and I do.
When The Deadbolt Breaks' Angel's Are Weeping... ...God Has Abandoned... is far from vomit inducing. It's more homicidal/suicidal, and I really get into that. Destroying worlds and making people suffer is somewhat of an expertise for me. The first track "Centering Through Isolation" has a long intro, it almost turned me off from writing this review, but I'm glad I gave it a chance. Its atmospheric and sludgy nature reeled me in. "Blood Born" also has a long intro, but the guitar is trance-like and seems to tell a story on it's own. I do love wet guitar lines. It turns into a sludgefest after that, switching between operatic vocals and deathly screams.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!