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: The Voiceless Apparition
I've always loved the concept of a split album. The idea of two or more artists coming together to unite under one release is fantastic. Wanderers: Astrology of the Nine, however, is much more. Spectral Lore and Mare Cognitum join forces again to create a conceptual split release centering around the planets of the solar system and ancient mythology. This may sound like an overbloated idea, but it works out so well. This split release right here is something that will be looked up to in 5-10 years based off of the conceptual angle but also musically.
We begin the album with Spectral Lore's "Mercury (The Virtuous)." An effects-laden intro slowly builds into a mid-paced black metal stomper with loads of classy riffs and well executed double-bass and blast beats. After that, we are greeted with Mare Cognitum's "Mars (The Warrior)." This is a far cry from the serenity of the first track; this is a jagged, aggressive, and dissonant tune. There is no letting up, as a swarm of blast-beats and fast double bass keep you on your toes the whole time. I'd also say that this is a far more "progressive" song, as there are many changes in time signatures throughout the 9 minutes.
Written by: Bane Ov Silence
Black metal, when done poorly, is one of the most exhausting and often repetitive forms of metal. While the genre is home to many talented individuals, who are masters at songwriting and playing their respective instruments, the raw sound and sheer misanthropy of the genre can leave the listener feeling drained by the end of a full album. While there is a time and a place for this type of music, after listening to black metal album after black metal album for the past month, I was ready for a change of pace.
That’s why I was extremely hesitant to review this new Kvean album and give it the time it deserves. The last thing I wanted to listen to was another one-man pagan Scandinavian black metal project. (You and me both, my friend! - Ed.) However, The Funeral Pyre is extremely refreshing when compared to other records in the genre, and sets itself apart from the countless generic sounding raw black metal bands.
As of late, we slumbering Villagers have been drinking deep of the genres that tend to fall on the more extreme end of the spectrum. And, while there is certainly ample time and place for extremity, it's high time for this particular scribe to slip into something a little more comfortable. I crave the sweet embrace of dusty wind-swept fuzz, and, when I’m in this sultry mood, nothing does me right quite like top-shelf legends of the (then-emergent) scene.
I speak...not of Kyuss. But hear me out. Maybe I’m off my rocker, but I don’t think there are many longtime fans of stoner rock willing to state that Lowrider’s seminal Ode To Io isn’t, in fact, one of the greatest albums the genre has produced. A particularly notable designation, given the Swedish (rather than Californian) origin. While Kyuss may have opened the door, Lowrider swaggered over the threshold, shouldering a massive groove and a cut-to-the-chase approach to composition. In many ways, Ode To Io felt like it boiled stoner rock down to its basic essence: big attitude, bigger riffs. Every track on this classic feels essential in its own right, a massive step into fuzz-ridden stardom for the young band. But rather than providing Lowrider a launchpad, Ode To Io served as a trailblazer, allowing a bevy of other bands to come into their own. Lowrider have been around in the 20 years between then and now--a split or a remaster here, concert appearances there. But a proper followup effort was missing from the picture. And so here we are, history lesson complete, Refractions held tight in our white-knuckled grasp.
Written by: Vattghern
I tend to lie to myself, pretending my procrastination isn’t as bad as it is. The moment when the truth hits me like a bus is usually when work has piled up to a giant tower of Jenga blocks, about to collapse in seconds. So, as the weeks of collapsing Jenga towers have passed and my studies have come to a temporary halt, I can shift my focus to procrastinating again. And a fruitful product of said procrastination is this heavily delayed review of Raphael Weinroth-Browne's debut Worlds Within.
Despite my love for the distorted and noisy sounds of metal in hectic and stressful times, music like Worlds Within is balm for my soul. It is the type of music that is rather easy on the ears, yet has an endless depth to it. But before we get into the meat and potatoes of the Canadian cellist’s solo debut, one thing should be noted: While this is Weinroth-Browne's first big venture as a solo artist, he’s far from an unknown face in the metal and rock scene. Either because of his insanely talented cello covers of modern prog classics (“Bleed” by Meshuggah or “Harvest” by Opeth, to name a few,) or through his influential work with bands like the neo-folk project Musk Ox and Norwegian prog masters Leprous, which included Weinroth-Browne as an integral part of their live and studio performances.
In the expansive metalverse, doom is my first love. When a band delivers a fat Iommi riff drenched in the fog of genre convention, I am content to sit, passively, in the palm of their momentarily almighty hand.
What ye may not know about this particular scribe is that, in addition to the doom, I also encountered a pretty sizable grunge period in my late teens. Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, et. al. were the name of the game, and the tropes associated with those melancholic wells still run deep in my musical preferences. Thus, when the two combine in unholy matrimony, my cold heart inevitably warms and weeps. This sentiment, of course, leads us to the track before us now--CELLARDOOR’s excellent debut single, released today.
Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
Wombbath is a band that is simultaneously revered and underrated. I suppose the reasoning for this is that they formed pretty late during the Swedish death metal boom (formed in 1990) but that shouldn't have been the case. I'm glad that they reformed a few years ago because the quality of the albums are still great and it introduces them to a new sect of death metal fans who weren't born when they formed (that includes me). Choirs of the Fallen, I am happy to say is their best album since reforming and it goes beyond where they were with the previous 2 albums but while still sounding like themselves.
Choirs of the Fallen kicks in immediately with "Fallen," and this is a stellar opener. Running the gamut of death metal, crust punk, and small flourishes of black metal, this track bleeds aggression, and, at the same time, sinister atmosphere. It's a truly eerie sounding track. Track #2, "Crawling from the Pits," begins with a short intro but quickly bursts into a firestorm of groove and break neck aggression. This is a very evil sounding song as malevolent guitar melodies provide the atmosphere to your worst nightmares.
It's pretty cool to see bands that we reviewed in the primordial instagram-bound days of the Sleeping Village's life releasing new music. One such group is WAKE, the Canadian extreme metal outfit responsible for one of the albums that became fodder for one of my earliest reviews. WAKE are coming back in a big way with their forthcoming LP Devouring Ruin, out March 27th from Translation Loss Records. While we drink deep of their latest offering, please accept this (admittedly dated) republication of our review of 2018's Misery Rites. Without further ado:
Despite short runtimes, listening to a grind/death/hardcore album from top-to-bottom is often an exhausting affair. Look, for example, to Mammoth Grinder’s (then-recent) latest, Cosmic Crypt. On paper & in practice every song sounded great, and there’s a reason for that. Essentially, every subsequent track on the album was a copy-paste of the (admittedly fantastic) one before. However, despite personally loving the Mammoth sound, it lost its charm too quickly without variance. It fell apart as an album, and as a self-avowed “album guy,” structural integrity of the vehicle in question is always taken into consideration. Conversely, Full of Hell’s Trumpeting Ecstasy is a good example of an album chock full o’ brutal music that maintains variety, and, as a result, is something I can (and will) return to without fear of listening fatigue.
Written by: Izzy
The instant I heard the single “Earth and Sky," I knew I wanted to review To Dull the Blades of Your Abuse. Only once in a blue moon does a song that genuinely makes me want to destroy something appear, densely packed with crushing riffage and percussion--and this feeling was only solidified by the second single “I, Flatline,” which remains one of the most standout tracks on the album. At that moment it was decided, and here we are with our self fulfilling prophecy.
Much like the album in question, I wish not to waste even a moment before throwing you into an endless pummeling torrent that ends before you realize it’s over, leaving you dazed and confused for hours to come. In the case of To Dull The Blades of Your Abuse, the sophomore LP from Manchester’s Leeched, you will be brutalized by 36 minutes of back-to-back noisy, vicious, and unforgivingly heavy riffs that make you wanna punch somebody's lights out. In the case of my review, it’ll be the unnecessarily obtuse verbosity I write all my analyses with to make me sound smarter than I actually am that leaves you confounded as to what the hell half these words mean and why couldn’t I just say “Hi how are ya this album kicks ass you should listen” instead of writing this massive thinkpiece.
But that’s showbiz, baby! If the writing ain’t soaked in glue and glitter it ain’t gonna get no attention, so I invite you to enjoy some kickass brutal jams and expand your English lexicon with me this fine evening. [Or whenever I actually post this - Ed.]
I dunno about you fine folks, but most days, I just need a cup of coffee. Not, mind you, the world's finest cup of coffee; just a good ol' utilitarian cup of coffee. So long as it isn't burnt and it gives me the crank I need, I am happy to welcome it into my daily routine--and, in many cases, use it as an unfortunate crutch to ease me through the brainfoggy doldrums. I'll go out on a limb here and assume I'm not the only one. This unnecessarily extensive intro exists to establish the fact that, much like coffee, sometimes a patently normal death metal album is all it takes to keep me happy in my day-to-day. And that, dear readers, is what we have before us today, beguiling ye all with its gorgeous artwork and its death metal stoicism. Plague's Portraits of Mind is an aggressively solid piece of work, with all the right parts in all the right places.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!