Written by: Blackie Skulless
Looking back to my days of high school, it’s fun to reminisce on albums that came out around the time that had some sort of hype, but lost it over the years. Sometimes, that’s due to not aging well; other times, it just gets lost in the depths of everything else going on. Trivium’s album In Waves comes to mind, considering that it’s one that seldom gets talked about (positive or negative) compared to the likes of Shogun or Ascendancy these days. This disc turns ten later on this year, and I still to this day view it as a masterpiece, which may be a bit of a hot take.
For starters, I want to say that this is metalcore done exactly right. By this point, most metalcore bands abandoned the genre’s roots, and traded in thrashy riffs and hardcore aesthetic for endless chugs, overly produced vocals, and extremely generic songwriting. Trivium never got caught up in that undertow. In Waves is absolutely packed with furious thrash riffs that cast sharp hooks, and evenly work in the hardcore chugs without being overwhelming. If that isn’t enough, the actual songs have more advanced writing than ever. The Crusade may be a more direct thrash release, but this is where Matt Heafy and co. blended it wonderfully with hardcore to pump out a spectacular album.
FRESH MEAT...erm, SATURDAY: April 17th, 2021, Feat. Bushido Code and Mother Anxiety / S H R I E K I N G
Every Friday (erm...or Saturday, folks), a wagon arrives at the Sleeping Village’s rusted palisade, stuffed to the brim with musical sustenance. Today is the day we must offload 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 listening to today at the Village HQ. We hope you join us in doing so!
This week marked the release of a whole lot o' stellar music, but we opted to focus on two albums rather than our typical four. As such, please accept these delayed-albeit-longer-than-usual reviews. - Ed.
On the docket for today, April 17th, 2021:
Bushido Code and Mother Anxiety / S H R I E K I N G
Bushido Code - The Ronin
Before we get too far into it: how 'bout that opening riff? Muscular, pugilistic, and delightfully earmwormy. Needless to say, The Ronin's title track is exactly what ye might expect from a band that bills itself as a hearty metal/thrash/hardcore crossover conglomerate. The tracks that hit do so with a notable gusto, and the energy contained within the first half of the album is quite infectious, coated with an unexpectedly fun and groovy patina. As such, Bushido Code operate best when they embrace the intrinsic physicality of their work.
While one might expect a typical bruiser-ish crossover lyrical route, "The Ronin" opts for character-driven storytelling over tough guy posturing, which is always a bonus in this line of work. Critically, the album does lose a little steam and sheer headbanging energy in the back half after interlude "Prelude to Battle," and makes me wonder if it would have landed even harder as an EP with all the fluff neatly trimmed away. But let's be real: for a 29 minute album, I ain't complaining all that much. Listening to this thing inevitably results in a whole lotta sweat and a very sore neck. It serves as prime "get pumped" music, and, as such, has found itself employed in mighty fine service down at the ol' home gym. If yer on the hunt for the juiciest cuts, give "Ronin," "Aftermath," and "Relic of War" a listen, and throw 'em on your workout playlist for good measure.
Find it on bandcamp here!
Mother Anxiety & S H R I E K I N G - Isolation Diary
Confession time: I went into this release with a certain trepidation, despite a favorable familiarity with both artists featured. The trepidation came from the subject matter itself, and the prospect of immersing myself fully. In a not-yet-post-COVID-world, the impact of isolation is a sore subject, and living through the eyes of not one but two distinct projects was intimidating. After many, many listens, it still is. I think that's a good thing.
Like unto the best of experimental music, this stellar split between solo acts Mother Anxiety and S H R I E K I N G is not immediately digestible. Given the complex arrangement of ambient, drone, post metal-- punctuated by the occasional blackened outburst or assorted spoken word samples--each of the nine tracks herein takes significant time to explore. As someone who thrives on releases that merit multiple listens in a variety of environments, I feel fully consumed by this split in a way that is equally satisfying and confusing.
The first half, home to Mother Anxiety, presents a largely half-conscious atmosphere and ambiance, featuring a quiet cacophony of hushed voices and assorted electronic noises. Listening to these four tracks feels intrusive in a wholly unique fashion: this is like listening to the inside of my own skull, witnessing undeveloped thoughts tumble and collapse. "Entry 4" is the culmination, and it illustrates the yoke of anxiety with frightening accuracy. These entries are not meditative; Mother Anxiety's half feels like a reflection of a consciousness under constant duress. In contrast, S H R I E K I N G's contribution feels more outward--its (frankly indescribable) confluence of genre allows for more sonic range. That said, it still feels intensely individual, which, given the overarching theme of loneliness, indicates a Job Well Done. While the first half feels inwardly panicked, S H R I E K I N G somehow uses chaos to impart a deep sense of heart wrenching sadness. This is genuinely tear-inducing stuff, and I don't have the words to articulate why. That's uncomfortable, but it is also a demonstration that this split has succeeded enormously at what it set out to do. Bravo.
Find Mother Anxiety here and S H R I E K I N G here
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Not far from my stomping grounds, Philadelphia, PA based Daeva somewhat helped my recent growing taste for certain styles of black metal. Though they’re heavily thrash induced, the lone EP entitled Pulsing Dark Absorptions is an evil and crushing spin. Their only release to date, it’s full of breakneck speeds, blistering blackened vocals, and evil lyrics to the max. Very much one of those things that passes by before you even realize it.
Comprised of four tracks and a Mayhem cover, there isn’t a lot of time for any kind of filler or screwing around. For optimal experience, it’s layered nicely to allow the drums to pop really well, displaying advanced fills all over the already crushing riffage. “No Effective Banishings” weaves this in with tremolo picks to really inject that harsher feel, allowing slower passages to come across more menacing. “Clenched Fist Of The Beast” is a rather straightforward track with a noisier effect, backed by chaotic execution.
Written by: Continuous Thunder
Over the course of 20 years and 10 studio albums, Demon Hunter have established a tradition of including at least one lighter or slower song on each release. Now, you might imagine that these wouldn’t be the most popular songs in their catalog. Nobody listens to an alternative metal album excited to hear the ballads, right? While that is the case with a handful of these tracks, some of them became fan favorites and even managed to get on some Christian music charts. Partially because of the lack of harsh vocals, but also because Demon Hunter has a knack for writing slow songs that don’t suck, and likely because they choose to go for more melancholic themes rather than sappy ones. For their 11th release, the band has re-recorded many of these slower songs from their catalog with acoustic and orchestral arrangements, further emphasizing their gloomy tones.
Every Friday, a wagon arrives at the Sleeping Village’s rusted palisade, stuffed to the brim with musical sustenance. Today is the day we must offload 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 listening to today at the Village HQ. We hope you join us in doing so!
On the docket for today, April 9th, 2021:
Gangrened, Heavy Feather, Onward We March, and Sublation
Written by: The Administrator
While raw black metal will likely never become this particular scribe's genre of choice, I will always enjoy the visceral fury and abrasivity that serves both as the fuel and the final product. There's something so remarkably potent about music that literally makes your the hair stand up on the back of your neck, and in that regard, Dread Maw has succeeded enormously at capturing my attention. Debut EP Sanctified Murder is a strong first effort, and, moreso, serves as a tantalizing taste of what is yet to come.
Dread Maw is the product of one Erin Palmer, who you may know from A. the realms of metal twitter and/or B. black metal outfit Rage of Devils. Whereas Rage, however, leans into a black 'n' roll influenced corner of the black metal universe, Dread Maw is a little more dissonant, a little more chaotic, and a lot more brutal...intrinsically so.
Written by: The Administrator
Truth be told, I didn't really miss the allure of live music until I fired up ORYX's forthcoming full-length. I know, I know. Poser alert. Now, however, my organs beg to be ragdolled by the sheer sonic physicality of the five tracks contained within this beastly effort. I'm sure your all familiar with the feeling, but should you require a visual representation, the stellar cover artwork is a pretty accurate render of the bodily disintegration that can/will inevitably occur.
Needless to say, ORYX have been receiving a whole lot of airtime in the confines of our humble halls. This trio out of Denver (a city which, side note, is swiftly becoming quite the bastion of high-quality metal) delivers a particularly dense and blackened iteration of sludge, with emphasis on crushing atmosphere and oppressive feedback. The physicality of their approach is particularly notable, as is the songwriting itself, which leaves plenty of room for intrigue in the midst of slow-churning riffage and drawn-out distortion. No doubt about it: Lamenting a Dead World is a powerhouse, and that's before we even begin to consider the appearances from a wide bevy of talented individuals, including Ethan McCarthy (Primitive Man, Many Blessings), Paul Riedl (Blood Incantation, Spectral Voice), and Erika Osterhout (Scolex, Chthonic Deity). Quite the cast of characters.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
There’s a time for riffs, a time for intricacy, and a time for both. Wode have been around now for a little over a decade, reigning over Manchester, England with a stylistically intense brand of black metal. Recently, they dropped album number three, entitled Burn In Many Mirrors, through 20 Buck Spin. It cashes in on sturdy riffage with appropriate doses of later black metal tactics to make for one of the better polished albums of its type.
What’s nice is that despite this, Wode don’t feel the need to sink themselves in a pool of symphonies and atmosphere. Though the latter does play a bit of a role, it’s clear that strong hooks and transitions are the most important part. All six tracks come from a narrative standpoint, telling long, cosmic stories around the occult and world destruction. This leaves little room for extra nonsense, allowing everything to be straightforward within each phase of the songs.
On (most!) Fridays, a wagon arrives at the Sleeping Village’s rusted palisade, stuffed to the brim with musical sustenance. Today is the day we must offload 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 listening to today at the Village HQ. We hope you join us in doing so!
As today is Bandcamp Friday--the day in which our belov'd Bandcamp waives their share of the cut, resulting in artists making a lil' more cash than usual, we're shaking it up a bit! Instead of our typical four mini-reviews, here's a a bunch of cool stuff released today that we recommend you check out (and purchase, if yer so inclined!)
On the docket for today, April 2nd, 2021:
Sea of Snakes, LORD, Pale Ale, Bog Wizard, Reduce Right, Non Serviam, The Sun and the Mirror, Everson Poe, Diplomats, and Hidden Mothers.
Tomorrow, April 2nd, we'll be publishing an interview with Maxwell Jeffries of Underking. Stay tuned! - Ed.
Written by: The Administrator
Please understand, dear reader, that when I say that At Hell’s Gate is my favorite album o’ the year thusfar, I’m not being dramatic for the sake of it. In March, my proposed review schedule was utterly strangled by this damn thing--garroted and left in the spring mud. Rather than checking out new stuff, or catching up on older stuff, I have found myself, time and time again, hitting repeat on Underking.
As such, enjoying this album was never in question; it was an inevitability. I’ve written pretty extensively about Underking in the past few months, and have immensely enjoyed--publicly and privately--the three pre-release singles. As such, the ultimate conclusion here isn’t exactly a secret: in this scribe's humble estimation, At Hell’s Gate is a stellar album, and Underking is an underrated talent who--if there is any justice in this world--will be turning many a headbanging head in very short order.
Underking--the moniker of the very talented Maxwell Jeffries--plays a stupidly infectious blend of traditional heavy metal, thrash, alternative metal, and NWOBHM, all encased in a decidedly modern sheen. Across the varied breadth of At Hell’s Gate, Jeffries sounds like he’s paying homage to a veritable horde of influences, while simultaneously delivers a fresh-faced take on the side of metal that revels in jubilant hooks, catchy choruses, and enthusiastic groove. Underking arrives at hell’s gate with glee-inducing energy and a penchant for catchy-as-hell songwriting, and if that ain’t enough to wet yer whistle, I can offer nothing but sympathy and condolences.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!