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!
As today is Bandcamp Friday, alongside our standard mini-reviews, we've added a bunch o' releases at the bottom that you should check out (and purchase, if yer so inclined.) If ye missed it, check out our merch roundup here!
On the docket for today, May 7th, 2021:
Dread Maw, Herzschlager, Kataan, Book of Wyrms, Empty Throne, Osiah, Chronic Lethargy, Cainhurst, Eliot Vernon, Desolation Plains, and Nehushtan
To assess Gojira's latest offering, two Village-dwellers took up the pen, making for a rare double review 'round these parts. Enjoy! - Ed.
Written by: Izzy
I think for many metalheads, Gojira is a very nostalgic name. I personally got into them very early on in my exploration of extreme metal and they have remained a band I look to very fondly, even if in recent years they’ve departed from their death metal roots and taken a more accessible, straightforward prog/groove/alt metal sound. I still think the material put forth on their previous two excursions, L’Enfant Sauvage and Magma, while not their best, still had their own appeal that kept me returning to them.
But there was a palpable feeling that as they stripped away their extreme metal leanings and got softer and included more clean(ish) singing, they’d eventually morph into just another mediocre alt metal band, and I feel this concept has reached its logical conclusion with Fortitude, having scrubbed away almost any remnants of death metal in their sound and leaning harder and harder on creating hooks and choruses rather than the vast odysseys of From Mars to Sirius and The Way of All Flesh. I think we’ve reached a point where I truly can’t find a reason to look forward to a new Gojira album after this.
Written by: Beaston Lane
In a far-flung epoch where humanity as we know it is but a memory, glamorous towers pierce the heavens, and elite societies vie for supremacy. Everything is greater than the sum of its parts. Etemen Ænka finds itself exploring this simultaneously utopian and dystopian future, dissecting the suffering that underlies greatness. Dvne, named in reference to Frank Herbert’s legendary works of science fiction, draws inspiration from the best sci-fi and dystopias of our time, constructing their own grandiose narrative to the tune of epic psychedelic post-metal. With a musical approach as striking and expansive as their lyrical concepts, Dvne’s debut on Metal Blade is a tremendous step forward for the band, laying the foundations for what will hopefully be a storied career.
Written by: Beaston Lane
2020 was my first year delving into the obscure and current side of heavy metal, leading me to listen to a seemingly infinite amount of artists including critical darlings like Haken and Imperial Triumphant. However, one band that seemed to fly under the radar far too often--Black Crown Initiate--endlessly commanded my attention with their third album, Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape.
Having dropped on August 7th, this magnum opus has steadily gained momentum through the beginning of 2021, but I’m here to put it in the spotlight again. Artists who released albums during 2020 took a big risk with touring on hiatus, and they deserve all the attention they can get. Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape is my favorite album of the year--intoxicating, refreshing, poignant, and above all, beautiful.
Written by: The Administrator
And now for something completely different! Today's album (and band) in question covers a unique blend of genres that don't get a whole lot of coverage 'round these parts--or any parts, for that matter, that we slumbering scribes tend to frequent. With that disclaimer in mind: let's dive in.
On their latest effort, Shocking Stories! (And Those Who Dare to Tell Them,) The Northway play a difficult-to-place conglomerate of pop punk, prog, math rock, and perhaps some alt metal, with a few other assorted elements weaving their respective ways into the chaotic fold. There's an alternative rock/metal angst on display, as well as a ska-esque sense of hype. Most notable, however, is the prominent role of the utterly unexpected. Take, for example, early album highlight "Trampolinehead," which blends a straightforward punk riff with a delightful Gentle Giant-by-way-of-Primus level of prog weirdness. There's a jazz lounge solo, a de la Rocha rap-rock moment, and a whole lotta assorted oddities besides. And if you think this is wacky, the excellent "City Trial" takes similarly disparate elements and cranks 'em up to 11. This thing is like the unholy alt-metal lovechild of Haken 's proggy tendencies and, I dunno, the early-aughts swagger of Priestess. And even that only covers a fraction of this track's identity. The entire album exists in a similarly fluid state, and, as a result, it's incredibly fun to experience.
Written by: Vattghern
Haken, oh Haken! Some VIP Tickets, Meet and Greets, lots of merch, and signed vinyl copies later, Haken has not only become a titan of modern prog, but also a friend through thick and thin for me. Despite my love for the Brits, after the release of their last studio album Vector and my corresponding praise for it, the band seemingly vanished from my playlists. Did I outgrow Haken? Did they outgrow me? All these questions crossed my mind when the band announced Vector’s spiritual successor Virus out of the blue and my inner fanboy didn’t move a muscle.
“New Haken single is meh,” I disappointingly declared in the lead up to the release, only to end up hitting play on “Invasion” every time I got a hold of my headphones. So, as it tends to do, the future proofed me wrong and answered my doubts with a big, fat “nah.” And after three midnight sessions of eagerly hitting refresh on Haken’s Spotify, only to find out the album has been delayed again, I finally got ahold of Virus. Since the past had proven that Haken ages like a fine wine for me, I’ve taken my appropriate time with it, which translates to about a week of nonstop listening. My verdict? Virus, while still awaiting the test of time, is not only the perfect second part to Vector, but also some of the band's finest work to date.
Written by: Loveloth
How does a band evoke the feelings of melancholy? The approach varies from genre to genre, but using the minor scale is a definite foundation. After that anything is game, and as a result, any sadboi--like yours truly--has a plethora of options to choose from. The most extreme examples are the DSBM and adjacent black metal genres. There, melancholy manifests through anguish and despair. Tremolo picking, shrieks and blast beats reign as lords, whereas on the opposite side of the spectrum, such as on the notorious pop ballads, we've got clean vocals covered by electronic-based instrumentation with slower paced beats.
I personally don't have any emotional responses when I hear most of that type of stuff due to how they're manufactured and how much they rely on cheap motifs. I realized this when I was a wee lad and as time went on, I searched far and wide for music to comfort, help me contemplate, and of course cope with any hardships I came across. At one point in time, I found myself listening to “Lethean” by Katatonia via a great YouTube recommendation, remember those? I was stunned with its energy and heaviness, and by the time Jonas Renkse's vocals kicked in, I was hooked. To this very day, Dead End Kings remains my favorite album by them and I would honestly put Katatonia right next to Opeth and that dude Devon Townsent as my go-to sadboi band.
We covered this album during last week's edition of Fresh Meat Friday...but Pyrrhon is far too significant of a band to gloss over with such egregious brevity. As such, our very own gibbously non-euclidean amalgamation--aka Loveloth the Omniscient--took the reins. Hence: enjoy this expanded review! - Ed.
Written by: Loveloth
Three years ago, a more impressionable, less jaded Loveloth scoured the plains of the Interwebz in search of new, exciting music. One faithful day, I was doing the usual, which translated to me religiously reading Angry Metal Guy. Anyhow, here I am scrolling through and chillin' until I see this insane album cover. It features a mangled dog snarling, whose paw got stuck in a rusty iron trap. The beast has multiple wounds and is clearly malnourished. The surrounding area looks nice though as it's filled with leaves, but the dog and washed out color palette evokes a feeling of discomfort. Needless to say, my interest was piqued and one quick glance later I see the title. Pyrrhon, What Passes For Survival. The two r's in the band name were weird, sure, but I was not prepared what was to come.
You see, there is this guy named Kronos who writes for AMG, and he is known for his hot takes and penchant for the most extreme forms of metal. What I absolutely love about his style, apart from his vast vocabulary and superb phrasing, is how convincing his points always were. Sure, I would disagree with him, but his hot takes never felt cheap and that is pretty rare these days. But now: back to the epic, overlong intro.
Written by: Izzy
Let’s address the elephant in the room. This album sounds a lot like Deftones, but let’s make an important distinction in Loathe’s music. While Deftones are certainly capable of being aggressive, both on their new and old material, Loathe’s blending of metalcore’s raw energy and ferocity works beautifully to contrast the softer sections and make them feel especially intense, this interplay between tones elevates the listening experience of the entire album to new heights. Rather than creating cascading landscapes where these sounds weave together as Deftones would, Loathe are more interested in forging roads with sharp twists and turns through both beauty and musical invective.
The one-two of the vicious "Broken Vision Rhythm" attack, and the otherworldly slow-dance of "Two Way Mirror," provides a perfect example of this knack for hairpin changes of tone and sonic scenery; a trick the album doesn’t use once, but pulls again later with the hauntingly beautiful "Is It Really You?" transitioning into the most hideously relentless, breakneck song on the entire album, "Gored." Despite the sudden transformation, everything on display here is crafted so tastefully that these shifts feel very natural and flow into one another gracefully.
Written by: Loveloth (parodically)
Lo! Greetings, insignificant mortals. It is I, Loveloth, your omniscient and gloriously betentacled Overlord.
[brief pause, as to allow the audience of thousands to gasp in awe]
In all my infinite wisdom, I have decided this day to abandon my Gazebo in order to rectify a terrible mistake--namely, the travesty that was the Sleeping Village Year End List. If you missed it, worry not: it was an embarrassing miscalculation, nothing more. Thus, I am here to provide the Village's loyal readership with the One Trve AoTY List. Behold!
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!