Written by: The Administrator
Let's get one thing clear immediately. If the production quality of first wave black metal isn't your cup of tea, you're inevitably gonna have trouble with this one. If, however, you find a certain irreplaceable charm and viciousness in audio quality that mirrors the experience of listening to music through blown-out earbuds that happen to be located several rooms away...well, you are in good hands. Stick around.
Over the course of the past few years and several distinct projects, Erin Palmer has been refining a clear sound and sense of recognition in the world of antifascist black metal. Excluding a recent two-track split with Molten Dagger, her latest effort--the brisk No Grace But Through Torment--is the first EP proper under the Wolven Daughter name. It's also pointing in the direction of Erin's best work to date, which is saying something, given how much I enjoyed previous efforts. Clocking in at 8 minutes, No Grace But Through Torment delivers its point quickly without waiting around for a misguided rebuttal, all while leaning heavily into the brazen abrasivity of raw black metal.
Written by: The Administrator
While some bothersome haters seem to bemoan its very existence, instrumental doom is a subcategory that simply makes a lot of sense. After all, it removes the substantial potential to be dragged down by sub-par vocals, while simultaneously placing the emphasis squarely on the riffs. And frankly, that's not exactly a bad place for the emphasis to be. Good ol' fuzz-laden stoner doom riffs soothe the soul, and on their debut 4-track EP, Atlanta's Empty Black deliver some pretty promising goods.
The implicit question? Whether or not their brand of instrumental doomage is able to maintain interest across the breadth--whether or not the guitar, in other words, possesses the star power to adequately fill the limelight. I argue that here, it succeeds quite magnificently.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Two years ago, Black Sites absolutely blew my mind with their second album titled Exile. The Chicago musicians have certainly not hit the brakes on giving it a follow-up. Considering frontman Mark Sugar took on Bear Mace last year, I’d say they had their hands full. Late this year, a follow-up titled Untrue hit the scene. While played in the same traditional metal style with proggier takes and modern surface finishes, this avoids being a carbon copy.
For the most part, this record lays down the melancholic gradient heavier than before. Though it’s only slight, it’s enough to let it stand apart. Lyrical themes around life, tragedy, and modern issues certainly boost this, and I think helped the poetic flow, which is something that really stands out. The smasher “Call It By Its Name” is a wonderful vocal driven number with a smooth chorus and galloping guitars weaved in. Songs like this breathe life by relying on higher wails and dissonant, drawn-out passages to really dial in the emotion on top of everything else.
And now for something completely different!
Welcome, dear readers, to a long-overdue edition of a regrettably infrequent segment we like to call "Is it metal? Who cares?" It's the part of the show where we openly admit that everyone likes different types of music, and thereby acknowledge that pigeonholing one's listening habits is nothing more than an exercise in stagnation.
Indeed, while we do often focus the limelight on loud and/or angry music, this particular population of slumbering scribes knows a thing or two about enjoying a well-crafted and otherwise highly listenable tune. Case in point: the latest single from Oakland-based solo artist James Utterback, who has been finely crafting a debut indie/psych/prog/surf rock album for the better part of 15 years under the Fire Whale moniker. "Serenity Within Chaos" has been on heavy repeat 'round these parts for the better part of a month, and we're honored to share it with you here today. Give it a listen below, and, as always, we'll catch ye on the other side!
I've said it (many times) before and I will undoubtedly say it (many times) again: there's nothing quite like witnessing a band evolve over the course of their first few releases. In the case of Spokane's Merlock, I first became familiar with their work back when ye olde Village was a youthful and untested participant in the metal blog-o-sphere. These self-described forlorn stoners had released a debut 3-track EP that I found pretty damn enjoyable--to blatantly plagiarize myself: "Merlock is subtly off-kilter in the best of ways, an odd amalgamation of The Jesus Lizard’s intrinsic weirdness, and the astral wanderings of Merlin...the result is a kind of caustic, trippy, and rough-around-the-edges stoner doom, and it lights a little fire in my heavy (metal) heart." Their second and third releases, prolapse and that which speaks..., felt like a clear maturation and movement into more morose post-doomy waters, and while I regrettably reviewed neither, they certainly satisfied this particular scribe.
That leaves us here, at the precipice of their forthcoming album/project/compilation, prepared to observe once more the fruit of their potential. You Cannot Be Saved is a collection of assorted moments across the Merlock timeline, ranging from rerecorded tracks from earlier releases, to a single plucked from an upcoming 2022 project, to an "Electric Funeral" cover. While the whole thing is certifiably fantastic, the track we are discussing here today is a re-tooling of Idolon, one of my favorite Merlock songs to date. Without further ado: give it a listen below! As always, we'll meet ye on the other side.
As someone with an aggressively short attention span, my patience for death metal often wears thin...quite quickly. If a death project doesn't offer significant meathooks alongside some notable variety in the compositional department, I'm usually good for a track or two before something weirder--and hence more entertaining--inevitably beckons.
My rubric, then, for determining whether or not a given death metal release is enjoyable? Pretty simple: if I'm willing to listen to it without interruption for long enough to formulate some thoughts and write a review,* we're in the clear. Luckily for us all, the self titled debut EP from the UK's Vaticinal Rites made the cut.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Taking formation about a decade ago, Worm built themselves on a black metal laced template that would evolve by the time their debut came out in 2017. Two years later, they broke into a bigger audience with Gloomlord, cementing themselves more into the doom/death realm. This year we got Foreverglade, a more refined version of what they’d been working towards, and this hit serious levels of peak performance. Taking their earlier black influence, they inject this into the latest sound while trimming up any sharp edges.
By removing “sharp edges,” I mean the songwriting takes a substantial step forward, which I think the band lacked prior. Mostly, it isn’t overly foreign; you still get your doses of cavernous growls over gut-wrenching doom/death chugs, with the higher pitched howling leads to contrast this swampy execution. But incredibly, the production allows the deeper rhythms to feel more pronounced than before, which makes them standout enough on their own. Now add in the blackened drum tropes and higher, precise screams, and you’ve got a bit of a different animal on the loose.
Time is regrettably short 'round these parts, so please accept this abbreviated review with the full guarantee that the album in question deserves many more words.
After spending far too long in the belly of the death metal beast, this recently awakened scribe has been craving some lighter fare as of late. Now, then, seems like an opportune time to take a well-earned gander at Spacelord's stellar False Dawn, released this past Friday. Spoiler: I really like it, and I think you should buy it. And you don't just have to take my word for it. Reviews have been favorable, the Doom Charts placement was been more than respectable, and talk has been quite positive--in fact, I haven't heard anyone with critical word to say about this album, and in an genre arena where words "derivative" and "unoriginal" are frequently thrown around, that's no small feat.
So: for the better part of five(!) months, my attention has been almost entirely absent from the overwhelming world of new metal releases. Sitting precariously on the edge of burnout, I spent most of my time listening to non-metal genres and ignoring, with no small amount of guilt, the massive glut of undoubtedly excellent music piling up in the ol' promo pit here at the Sleeping Village.
To cut a long story short: a few weeks ago, I listened (many, many times) to an album that would inevitably serve as a light at the end of the tunnel. Ever since making the duo's acquaintance upon the release of their (exceptionally promising) first EP, I had been eagerly awaiting the debut full length from Edinburgh's Hand of Kalliach. To not listen immediately upon its release felt absolutely criminal.
And so here we are, discussing the album responsible for my return to reviewing. Samhainn is uniquely vibrant and charming in a way that makes me excited about metal again. This behemoth is borderline indescribable in its display of intrigue and bombast. Let's get into it, shall we?
Don't worry, dear reader: there will be a review here soon.
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We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasant.