There is something aggressively unsettling--nay, terrifying--about fungi. And I'm not talking about the prospect of eating then, because here at the Village, we can get down with a variety of mushrooms (from a culinary perspective.) Nor am I referring to the one-bite wonders of the world, the Deathcaps and the Autumn Skullcaps and the Destroying Angels, of which the most delicate of bites brings, in many cases, coma or death. No. I'm talking about a vision of mycological apocalypse. The worldwide decomposition at the gaping maw of all-consuming saprophytic fungi--a form of fungus that gains its life-force through the gourmandization of decaying organic matter. As we die, the ultimate decomposer has its way with our remains...and so survives when all else finds inevitable demise. Given the sheer staying power of fungus, it all seems very possible, this eventual process of worldwide reverse fungi-cide. And, unlike zombies, said apocalypse has a concrete basis in biological reality. Scary shit, no matter how you slice it.
Demonstrating adherence to a vague moral code, this particular villager will only review a split release if there's a fair balance between the parties involved. If a split is inherently weighted in an obvious fashion, it's simply not worth touting around a recommendation of the package as a whole. This is all to say that this (fairly mysterious) 2-track from Alberta's Tekarra and Mexico's Malamadre fits the bill quite well, thankyouverymuch. Both tracks here hold up, with graceful ease, its respective end of the bargain, and thus, a successful split is born. At risk of showing all my card, this fine little effort is a slow and exceedingly worthwhile burn.
Tekarra starts things off with the massive Barbaric Tools, a simultaneously deathy and droning slab of feedback-ridden amp worship. As one might expect, this living mountain of a track clocks in at over ten minutes--a slow burn, but ruthlessly effective in it's delivery. Over the course, Tekarra unleashes anticipatory waves of distortion-heavy (and indeed centric) riffage. Supplication before the the amplifier is the name of the game, and if you're new to drone, Tekarra invites you in with a warm tone and welcome arms.
Some quirky soloing and extended bouts of hypnotically intense feedback round out the guitar's delivery, lending the track a sense of character that all-too-oft goes amidst in the genre's more lackluster efforts. It's unique identity is only strengthened by the addition of crushingly heavy vocals, absolutely massive in stature. While everything remains audible, the production does lean towards the reedy side of the spectrum. In some sense, this gets the track a uniquely antiqued feel that, frankly, I've come to greatly enjoy over repeat rotations. For that gut-wrenching punch we've come to anticipate from modern doom, however, a little extra heft and girth will throw these guys in with the heavyweights. It's a great track regardless, and I'm interested to see what these potential heavyweights hit us with next.
But Tekarra aren't the only headliners here, and Malamadre, to their credit, follow up with great aplomb. Without the benefit of vocals, the appropriately entitled Cataclismo makes subtle, sparse, and incredibly effective use of drums to fill the Less a mere necessity, each cymbal hit is a statement. By design, there is limited space for any real crescendo until the very end, and Malamadre actually get by quite well by simply offering minor changes to the riff structure and percussive patterns. That's not to say the back half doesn't make exceptionally great use of noisy elements to draw things towards a natural conclusion. The entire track feels wondrously organic--somehow alien and monstrous, when compared to Tekarra's more deliberate riffage. Appropriately enough, Malamadre state that their "slow and colossal riffs" are inspired by "legends of the great kaiju." Evident enough, and well executed. Cataclismo is supremely effective in building up an inevitable catharsis.
Both of these tracks strike me with their ability to take the unexpected and use it productively against the listener. Given Tekarra's runtime, I was expecting a drawn out affair, and yet, not so much. These 10 minutes hardly feel like 5, and that is truly an accomplishment. Malamadre, to their credit, succeed enormously without vocals, utilizing well-conceived and exceedingly deliberate instrumentation to great effect. They work off each other quite well, each illustrating and inhabiting a distinct persona of doom metal's drone-ier side. As a split should.
Tekarra / Malamadre's split was released April 5th, and can be found at their respective bandcamps.
Despite remaining a banner year by most accounts, few 2018 releases exemplified the new era of underground death metal as well as the fantastic split shared between Coffin Rot and Molder. As a certain glowing account reported at the time, Molder's putrid, fetid, and otherwise sarcophagal sound wasn't created so much as uncovered. It's a relic wrestled from the locked jaws of a dusty cadaver. Call it an exercise in grave robbery--albeit committed not with the typical implements of the trade, but rather with ragged fingernails. It is with great pleasure that we here at the Sleeping Village can confirm: neither this split, nor Molder's previous EP, were flukes. Enter the appropriately entitled "Granulated Chunks," the first track off Necrobiome, their forthcoming 3-track demo.
Besides a deliciously lo-fi production value--which contributes immensely and indeed feels essential to the aesthetic--Molder operates on a simple winning formula: meaty riffs, restrained drums, and a dry-bones distressed bark. Making no particular effort to get any too quickly, the guitar evokes a near-doomy bent as it takes on riffage straight out the respective playbooks of early-era Master and Pungent Stench. The bass is buried, yet effective at providing "Granulated Chunks" the weight it oh-so deserves. The percussion does exactly what is needs to do without senseless flair--seldom do drummers receive praise for maintaining a status quo, but I'll be damned if Nick Ayala isn't becoming notably consistent. And of course, Aaren Pantke's dusty, no-nonsense tonality, which made "Condemned to the Catafalque" such a fine track, is here to stay.
All told, "Granulated Chunks" reaffirms a commitment to a core sound. Gloriously, it adds little in terms of fresh content--because let's face it. Molder doesn't deal in fresh. Their climb out of the plague pit doesn't necessitate the destruction of established motifs and boundaries. Molder represents the concentrated form of everything we underground and old school death metal fans love about the genre trappings. Give "Granulated Chunks" a listen below...and keep one eye open. With any luck, Necrobiome shall claw its way out of the grave shortly.
Written by: Loveloth
Unlike anger, sadness is a constant, lingering emotion that slowly overtakes every fiber of your being if not unleashed in some way. For me, this is what makes sad music so special, its honesty and intensity are unmatched--if done right, of course. The Finnish doom scene is famous for its gorgeous and heart-rending music and Swallow The Sun should immediately come to mind. As some of you may know, Juha Raivio, the band's mastermind, lost his longtime girlfriend and wonderful vocalist Aleah Standbrige due to cancer in 2016, and to alleviate his pain he created Hallatar, a titanic death-doom supergroup. Now, almost four years after their ambitious (and badly produced) triple album Songs From The North I, II & III, Swallow The Sun returns with When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light, which pays respect to Aleah in a different manner. Unlike their previous work and especially Hallatar, the band decided for a more restrained and spacious approach, and it works wonders. Impressive considering Juho Räihä and Jaani Peuhu (both live members of Hallatar) make their debut here, but they do this in a very memorable fashion.
Accompanied by two cellos, two violas, and a single piano, the record starts off beautifully with the excellent title track that, despite containing a lot of ideas, manages to realise them all successfully. Beautiful strings, melancholic and ethereal trem picking, acoustic strums, it all sounds great but as soon as I heard Mikko Kotamäki shriek in the chorus, I knew this would be something really special. After a soothing, evocative, and lengthy intro, "The Crimson Crown" blossoms into a majestic and subdued beast. This sense of growth and space is what made Swallow The Sun so special and the band simply expands their formula but take a more gothic, post-rock and even symphonic approach instead reminding me of Fields Of Nephilim, Anathema and Pardise Lost. The record feels more intimate and warm because of this and I am sure it reflects Raivio's current phase of mourning his lost love.
If the lack of metal sounds underwhelming, "Upon The Water" will definitely win some cold hearts with its plodding riffs, ghastly shrieks and sudden bursts of metallic fury. "Clouds On Your Side" behaves similarly but opts for guttural grows reminiscent of good ole' Nick Holmes when the heavier parts arrive. Now is a good time to mention the songwriting as I noticed a trend that isn't necessarily bad but it's still a trend on this record. Most of the choruses found here are sudden, explosive and it's perfect considering how the band lulls you in a false feeling of security with the gentle and moving soundscapes they oh so carefully crafted. All of this would be void if the production wasn't good and the sextet luckily delivers with a well mixed record whose layers give enough room to the wonderful string section to breathe. However, my favourite part of this record is Mikko, who definitely deserves more attention and praise. His varied and convincing performance continues what he established on Songs Of The North I, II & III, he alone is worth checking this record out.
With only one song under five minutes, When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light is still the band's shortest record that clocks in at "only" 53 minutes. to be frank, some songs could use a trim or two, but these are minor flaws of an otherwise very good record. Personal favourites are the title track, "Firelights", "Upon The Water" and "Here On The Black Earth" and all of them are perfect sadboi material. I didn't pay much attention to Swallow The Sun for a long time and this was a very convincing wake up call. I suggest you do the same because When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light may not be as immediate as their previous work but the amount of hidden details make repeated listens a must. This is a soundtrack of loss, pain and mourning and it's raw and cold as much as lush and gorgeous. Thank you Finland for providing among the best soundtracks for gloomy days, this sadboi appreciates greatly.
Swallow The Sun - When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light was released Jan. 25th from Century Media
Written by: Vattghern
Time is money. More notably, time is limited. In this modern day and age, for the majority, everything needs to happen fast. I need my news fast, I don't have time to cook, and I especially don't spend time on anything I don't really need to. It's sad, really, but why this pretentiously philosophical monologue to start the review of Zohamah's Spread My Ashes?
Because Zohamah approached their record in similar fashion--which in this case, works in favour of the music. The record is roughly half an hour long and given the type of music that is presented, a more stretched out approach would undoubtedly have taken away much of its charm.
Kicking off things with thunder and stormy rain is new World, and it captures the soundscape of what is to come accordingly. A bit of dissonant black metal, a bit of doomy atmosphere, and some death metal chugging. Genre traits are not bound to exact attributes though, since variety is subtle but noticeable. While Black Cloud is very fast paced, with hints of death metal, the intense vocal performance and tremolo picked melodies across the album scream "black metal."
Given the underlying diversity of influences and styles, some transitions don't work out as they should. At points an abrupt change or not-so-smooth transition occurs, but luckily for the listener, this is more of a rare occurrence.
With a production that gives spotlight to every instrument and a blend of genres that provides the listener with something fresh yet oddly familiar, Spread my Ashes succeeds in most parts. Especially the decision to cut corners where needed, which ultimately forms this into a short but sweet record.
Zohamah -Spread My Ashes will be released Feb. 1st from Redefining Darkness Records