Review by: The Administrator
The first time I heard this album was not a standard listening experience.
It was nighttime, and I was walking through miles of vaguely unfamiliar neighborhoods en route to my car, which was parked--abandoned, out of necessity--on the street with a flat tire. It was blizzarding with a slow fury, the kind of dense snow that doesn't fall violently, but rather languidly, with full knowledge of the incalculable weight of its component parts. A vehicular retrieval mission was in order, but, with the full realization that the next few days would inevitably be defined by the encroaching snow-in, there was not exactly a sense of urgency. Hence: a perfect time to crank some tunes most foreboding.
Enter Ancestral Memory, a split album by the enigmatic The Sun Came Up Upon The Left and the gloriously (astoundingly? frighteningly?) prolific Everson Poe. Needless to say, a suitably significant impression was left with me in the dark and the snow. Indeed, I recently described this stellar release as "one of my very favorite albums of the year thusfar." Given the sheer quantity of quality music that rings through these humble halls, I hope that designation carries some sort of weight.
Ancestral Memory represents a brilliant meeting and melding of minds, the result of which is a harrowing, crushing, and otherwise (tastefully) overwhelming experience. It's a delicate and paradoxical balance between chest-crushingly beautiful and chest-crushingly depressive. While any attempt at genre categorization is fraught with peril--more on that later--a good ol' F(or) F(ans) O(f) goes a long way in terms of helping navigate the waters. On this particular subject, promo material namedrops Thou, Oathbreaker, Amenra, Un, Kowloon Walled City, Mizmor, Vile Creature, Windhand, and Subrosa--a list of heavy hitters if I've ever seen one. Ancestral Memory does not sound like a product of these artists per se, but the thematic and aesthetic approach is notably similar across the board: sweeping and emotive soundscapes, heavy on the atmosphere and the introspection.
VULGARIS - Asundre (Review)
Written by: The Administrator
My favorite albums of the year are, more often than not, those that sneak their way into rotation...and then simply never leave. The ability to maintain interest over months and months of listening is a surefire mark of a good album, and Asundre, the excellent debut from London's Vulgaris, has managed to qualify itself pretty damn handily. This thing came out towards the end of February, and it is a rare thing indeed to locate a week since wherein it hasn't reared its multifaceted heads.
At this rate, Asundre certainly stands as one of my most-listened albums o' the year thusfar, which, in turn, probably means I should actually find a soapbox and start appropriately proselytizing. Hence:
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. First up in this series of guest reviews is the prolific Espi Kvlt of Apricitas, Yngve, Seas of Winter, Phryne, Guan Yin, and Exsanguinated Shade. Read on!
Written by: Espi Kvlt
Is it blissful?
It’s like a dream.
I want to dream.
These words, from the first track off Deafheaven’s sophomore album, cut through me like a knife the first time I held the lyrics booklet up to my face to digest its contents. Impossible to decipher by simply listening to the album, I wanted to absorb every bit of it, as it had caressed me in the darkness of that filthy basement apartment where I lived with the man that would soon become my ex-boyfriend. The screeching vocals off Sunbather called out to me like a friend each time I was left in that bed in the corner of our room to ponder what I did to deserve the abuse from the man I thought I loved.
It cannot be overstated how much the lyrics alone have left a permanent impact on my
psyche, so much so that I branded those lyrics from “Dream House” permanently onto my flesh beside a ram skull. During those tumultuous times in that apartment, they were a source of comfort. They were my therapy. Accustomed to bands like Darkthrone and Cradle of Filth, it was the first time I had encountered such poetic language in black metal. Later in my life, this extended to my own lyrics. Deafheaven’s Sunbather still informs each decision I make when I put that pen to the paper. Lines like “Lost in the patterns of youth / And the ghost of your aches comes back to haunt you / And the forging of change makes no difference” make me both overjoyed at the experience of being able to read them and saddened to know I didn’t come up with them myself.
UNREQVITED - Empathica (Review)
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.
ERRANT - errant (Review)
Written: The Voiceless Apparition
I just want to preface this review by saying that I'm a Rae Amitay fan. I think she is a highly original, unique, and diverse musician in a world full of rip-offs and corner-cutters. Be it Immortal Bird, her work with Thrawsunblat, etc., she puts her distinctive stamp on all of these projects. So when I heard the news that she was making her own band in which she composes and writes everything, I was ecstatic. errant is described by Rae as "a vehicle for realizing ideas that exist in a separate space from Immortal Bird", and that has me intrigued.
Right off the bat, this EP is significantly different than anything she has ever done before. The opening track "The Amorphic Burden" alone runs the gamut of alternative rock, post-metal, and small tinges of black metal. The dynamics in this song are beautiful; the way this song flows between the more melodic and subdued parts and the more intense and heavy sections is particularly well done. I'm really loving the melodies in this song as well. "The Amorphic Burden" proves the point that metal can have hooks and still be kickass.
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.
L'HOMME ABSURDE - Belong (Review)
Written by: Izzy
Have any of you noticed this trend in recent years of more post-black bands mixing in elements of post-hardcore, and vice versa? Harakiri For The Sky, Asunojokei, Cara Neir, Unfurl, Oathbreaker, Glassing, King Apathy, John The Void, Møl, they all do it, and as both a hardcore nerd and someone who's often annoyed by the stagnation of black metal due to the attitude of trve kvlt worship many bands have, it's a trend I've loved to see popping up.
I adore black metal, it's easily one of my favourite non-core genres, but post-black especially is where I get off, as you can likely tell by the Sunbather aesthetic plastered everywhere on my Instagram (@izzlesreviewvault yes I'm a self promoting shill.) I'm absolutely a sucker for any bands that know how to blend the heavy, melodic, emotional, and vicious aspects of the genre or experiment and mess with the genres aspects all together, and no one does that better than the post-black community. But despite my adoration for a good black metal album I'm not particularly active in the black metal community for, uhm... obvious reasons.
The good Capt. Graves is back in business, fresh off the wild festivities resulting from the Advent Varic signing release announcement. He seems to be mightily impressed with this one, which is...uncharacteristic. But we'll take it. - Ed.
Written by: Capt. Graves
Some things are worth the wait. Izthmi's new record (The Arrows Of Our Ways) is definitely one of those things.
I normally hate soundscapes, but this band really does them right. The long intro has me torn because I hate them. With this one, however, I'm reminded of catastrophe, and gloom. Then the black metal, high treble guitars come in, and I'm taken for that spin into darkness and despair. The bass guitar stands out in the mix, and I'm down for this ride into the bleak. Acoustic guitars with harsh black metal belching from the guts of a madman, indeed. This vocalist is a monster, a savage, and we all know how well that sits with me.
L'HOMME ABSURDE - Belong (Video)
Here is a feature we slumbering scribes have dragged, kicking and screaming, back from the grave. A year back, desperate for some entertainment of the visual persuasion, we here at the Sleeping Village constructed ourselves a venue, of sorts--a public playhouse designed to house the raunchiest productions around. After a single feature presentation, however, said venue promptly fell into disuse and ruin. A shame, really, because in this world of underground metal, there are a good many videos worth checkin' out. Thus: now is the time for revitalization.
Push aside the cobwebs and vines, dear reader. Kick away the decaying ravens and piles of loam; the show is about to begin. Today, for your viewing pleasure, the Sleeping Village is pleased to present the music video for Belong, title track and lead single from L'Homme Absurde's forthcoming third album. It's a killer track and impressive video, and, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, I wholeheartedly recommend you watch for yourself:
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!