Review by: The Administrator
The first time I heard this album was not a standard listening experience.
It was nighttime, and I was walking through miles of vaguely unfamiliar neighborhoods en route to my car, which was parked--abandoned, out of necessity--on the street with a flat tire. It was blizzarding with a slow fury, the kind of dense snow that doesn't fall violently, but rather languidly, with full knowledge of the incalculable weight of its component parts. A vehicular retrieval mission was in order, but, with the full realization that the next few days would inevitably be defined by the encroaching snow-in, there was not exactly a sense of urgency. Hence: a perfect time to crank some tunes most foreboding.
Enter Ancestral Memory, a split album by the enigmatic The Sun Came Up Upon The Left and the gloriously (astoundingly? frighteningly?) prolific Everson Poe. Needless to say, a suitably significant impression was left with me in the dark and the snow. Indeed, I recently described this stellar release as "one of my very favorite albums of the year thusfar." Given the sheer quantity of quality music that rings through these humble halls, I hope that designation carries some sort of weight.
Ancestral Memory represents a brilliant meeting and melding of minds, the result of which is a harrowing, crushing, and otherwise (tastefully) overwhelming experience. It's a delicate and paradoxical balance between chest-crushingly beautiful and chest-crushingly depressive. While any attempt at genre categorization is fraught with peril--more on that later--a good ol' F(or) F(ans) O(f) goes a long way in terms of helping navigate the waters. On this particular subject, promo material namedrops Thou, Oathbreaker, Amenra, Un, Kowloon Walled City, Mizmor, Vile Creature, Windhand, and Subrosa--a list of heavy hitters if I've ever seen one. Ancestral Memory does not sound like a product of these artists per se, but the thematic and aesthetic approach is notably similar across the board: sweeping and emotive soundscapes, heavy on the atmosphere and the introspection.
Greetings, weary traveler! We've collectively made it to the half-way point o' the year, and that can only mean one thing: a reflection on the music that has made the past six months a little more bearable. However, rather than hogging the soapbox and allowing my own personal taste to dictate the direction of proceedings, this big ol' list is a collaborative effort, with sixteen distinct music writers, musicians, and fans lending a few words. Hopefully the variety of perspective results in a list containing at least one or two releases that speak to you. For ease of reading, we've split the list in twain: the first half sits before ye now, and the second half shall follow tomorrow.
This, obviously, is far from exhaustive, and represents but a fraction of our collective favorites. If I had the time and resources, my contributions alone would surely run into the triple digits. As such, please feel free to leave a comment with a recommendation or two! List season is a great time to show the musicians that we love a little well-deserved support, and if you wanna shout someone out, this is as good a time as any. In that spirit, I'd like to offer a heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped make this list a reality. We slumbering scribes offer our endless appreciation--we couldn't have done it without ye.
Enough rambling! Without further ado:
On (regrettably infrequent!) Fridays, a wagon arrives at the Sleeping Village’s crumbling gates, stuffed to the brim with our sustenance for the following week. Today is the day we must offload all 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--and have been--listening to this week at the Village HQ. We hope you join us in doing so!
As today is Juneteeth, Bandcamp will be donating 100% of their share of proceeds to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. As such, your dollars will simultaneously support artists and support the defense fund's ongoing efforts to promote racial justice through litigation, advocacy, and public education. Win/win!
On the docket for today, June 18th, 2021:
Macabre Decay, Entierro, Heavy Temple, & Maha Sohona
Written by: The Administrator
If there's one thing we long-suffering scribes appreciate, it's a flair for the dramatic. After all, our (aggressively fictional) habitat--the titular Sleeping Village--serves as the thematic bedrock for virtually everything that happens on this plot of internet property. As such, we hold a certain affinity to similarly histrionic entities...provided, of course, that there is an ounce of self-awareness behind the drama.
Portland's Purification is a band that has repeatedly hit the nail on the head when it comes to this rare combo, and, as such, the swell and strain of their puritanical doom frequently fills our humble halls. These guys are remarkably prolific, having released three albums and a couple o' EPs within a few short years. One of my many regrets as a reviewer is that I neglected to cover ‘em further after a review of their 1455 EP, but here I am, hopefully making amends.
No more time for self-flagellation, however. Let’s sink our teeth into some trve doom of the highest quality, shall we?
Written by: Beaston Lane
In a far-flung epoch where humanity as we know it is but a memory, glamorous towers pierce the heavens, and elite societies vie for supremacy. Everything is greater than the sum of its parts. Etemen Ænka finds itself exploring this simultaneously utopian and dystopian future, dissecting the suffering that underlies greatness. Dvne, named in reference to Frank Herbert’s legendary works of science fiction, draws inspiration from the best sci-fi and dystopias of our time, constructing their own grandiose narrative to the tune of epic psychedelic post-metal. With a musical approach as striking and expansive as their lyrical concepts, Dvne’s debut on Metal Blade is a tremendous step forward for the band, laying the foundations for what will hopefully be a storied career.
Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
Like all of you dear readers, I'm always looking for new music. The joy of finding new artists and albums is such a fulfilling experience. There's no denying: music is such a special aspect of our lives. It can transport us to other dimensions, it can bring back memories in an instant, and so much more. So it's always good to be open and broaden your horizons to new experiences, and this is something I have been working on.
Today's review is for the new album from the ambient/drone/doom metal duo The Sun and the Mirror. To be completely honest and say that prior to this review, I had never heard of this group, but I wanted to discover something new and foreign to my ears. Luckily I found it with their album Dissolution to Salt and Bone.
Written by: Beaston Lane
The term “gothic metal” has been loosely applied to uniquely dramatic and dark bands over the past few decades, but its existence as a genre has always remained unclear. In 2021, however, there’s one band that immediately comes to mind when gothic metal is mentioned: Tribulation.
Drawing from anthemic, melodic hard rock as well as melodeath, black metal, and doom, the band has charted an intoxicating course during the 2010's, seemingly improving with each release. The questions that have surrounded Where the Gloom Becomes Sound since its announcement weren’t regarding its quality, rather whether or not it would meet the astronomical bar set by its beloved predecessors. Hot streaks are bound to end, but as WTGBS proves, Tribulation’s is far from over.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Considering Dread Sovereign’s semi-decent following, it’s amazing that I’ve only stumbled upon them this year, as well as the closely-tied Primordial. Dropping their third album titled Alchemical Warfare, they’ve awoken an inner beast that wasn’t realized earlier. This doom outfit treads far darker waters, dealing in satanic lyrical themes and medieval tamperings, wrapped in storming fury. Given what we know, it fits with the black metal-painted history of the frontman.
With six tracks, an intro, an interlude, and a Bathory cover, Dread Sovereign stretches their writing boundaries to great lengths. Nemtheanga and Co. primarily focus on epic build-up, pummeling drum/rhythm guitar blowouts, and galloping leads. Almost every song crawls in with some kind of noise or anticipation, but what breaks them up is how they proceed to the heavy clashing. “Nature Is The Devil’s Church” sneaks in and wreaks havoc with blitzing intensity and raging riffs that don’t cool down for its entire run-time. Others like the opening “She Wolves Of The Savage Season” stick around for a while to really build that momentum. It then focuses on a steadier trudge once it picks up.
Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
Hello everyone! So we are finally in the homestretch of 2020. This has been an absolutely insane year, no denying that. Even with all of the struggle and division, we still had new music to get us through it. Let's just hope that next year will be better.
Having said that, it's time for Album of the Year lists, and I'm excited to see many of my reviewing friends lists. But for now, I suppose it's my time. This was a difficult list to order. There were SO many stellar albums, so many in fact that I've had to leave off of the list.
First I will give my honorable mentions list. Then: onward to the Top 10!
If ye haven't heard, we slumbering scribes put out a compilation album on Oct. 2nd! Green Hog Band contributed a killer track to the affair--hence the republication of this review.
Sleeping Village Caravan Of Doom (Vol. 1) is an exhibition of like-minded tracks that balance sludgy heft with an earthy stoner atmosphere. These are songs that would feel at home in the midst of a bog or mire, and we’ve brought them together, drenched in murk and algae, for your gloomy enjoyment. Purchase here for the measly price of...name your own price! That, dear reader, is a bargain.
Written by: Volt Thrower
Hailing from Brooklyn, with a bluesy sludge sound straight out of NOLA, all topped off with gurgling Russian vocals, Green Hog Band smash any preconceived notion of a stoner doom band. The typical tropes do still apply: see the motorcycle samples, as any good hog-affiliated music makers would utilize, fuzzy riffs, and lyrics about swamp monsters. But the way this 3-piece manage to package it up into a unique beast on this EP is what keeps me coming back for more.
The opening one-two punch of "Eclipse" and "Machine" is so damn good they could’ve made up their own 7” EP. Green Hog Band displays an absolutely suffocating low end throughout, contrasted nicely by bluesy leads seemingly trying to escape from the murky swamp. A spine chilling cattle shriek about 3 and a half minutes into the opener sets the unsettling scene well. The music alone is memorable, but the Russian lyrics sound and feel absolutely poetic. The vocal inflections capping off each line are a story themselves, without even translating. Following along with the English lyric sheet is a completely unique listening experience. We are treated to a haunting tale of a swamp beast in "Eclipse" --beautifully written, but it just wouldn’t have the same rhythmic flow if it were sung in English. Same goes for "Machine," an eloquent takedown of the system grinding us down (if you’re reading in English,) or simply a kickass desert bike riding song if you’re just jamming along with the vibes.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!