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.
Providing thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy, and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a groggy-eyed, highfalutin peasantry.