Written by: The Administrator
Given the current state of, well, everything, I've been taking a lot of walks lately. In a world that is seemingly stripping away means of comfort at an increasingly alarming rate, the prospect of fresh air, a little light exercise, and the ability to just leave the stress behind is something to which this particular scribe has clung as the weather becomes more foreboding. A good walk, however, demands a good soundtrack, and while the pure aggression of OSDM or thrash or black metal may do for the confines of our drafty scriptorium, the walk demands something a little more...meditative.
Enter the appropriately entitled "Haunting Mantra," the latest doomgaze-y single from solo guitarist and composer FUZZNAUT. I have been meaning to write a review for this thing since first listen, but better late than never, amiright?
Written by: Izzy
Svalbard are a relatively new face in the world of metal and punk, their first release having been unleashed upon the world in 2014. Since then, they’ve been a consistent talking point for both their gorgeous melodies and blend of neocrust, post-rock, screamo, and blackgaze, as well and their political stances, frequently angering basement-dwelling neckbeard metalheads who proceed to furiously write a tweet about how women are ruining metal--Oops, was gonna try and not get too political on this one. My bad.
When I Die, Will I Get Better? is in many ways a logical trajectory for the band. Elements of post-rock and blackgaze have always been present in their music, starting at their debut One Day This All Will End, becoming more pronounced on their amazing 2018 release It’s Hard to Have Hope, and finally reaching its climax here on their latest. Those influences have become pushed so far to the forefront to the point where I think calling them a neocrust/blackgaze band wouldn’t be too far off, but that descriptor would still be missing something.
Written by: Carlos
Lesser Glow is a five piece heavy band out of Boston. They hit on everything low and slow--and they hit it hard. You’ll get everything from the nastiest sludge to the most vibrant interludes, all without releasing the gas. Lesser Glow is also comprised of some very accomplished industry professionals, one being a producer for Chelsea Wolfe. But we're not here to talk personnel; we’re here to talk about their upcoming album, Nullity.
Nullity is a follow up to their 2018 debut, Ruined. If you haven’t taken Ruined for a spin I suggest you close this and do just that.
...All right, welcome back. Nullity is built around the idea that mankind is a parasite in this world. Weaving themes of internal conflict, creation myths, and interpersonal relations, this album features a big finish (spoiler alert) in which mankind is wiped from existence. Yes please, void daddy.
Written by: Ancient Hand
San Marcos’s This Will Destroy You should need no introduction at this point; the Texas post-rock group has seen plenty of success and experimentation in their now 16-year-old career. The group’s 2008 self-titled album is considered by many to be their magnum opus, and I am included in this group. That record is a beautiful blend of instrumentation that culminates into a moving and beautiful journey across an auditory version of the American Southwest. After 12 more years and plenty of other albums, we finally get the standalone release of Vespertine, the soundtrack to the high-class, two-Michelin star restaurant of the same name. The soundtrack has been available to those that have been in the restaurant for a few years now, but This Will Destroy You has finally released the soundtrack for the rest of us to enjoy.
As someone who spends an inordinate amount of time confronting rough drafts, the process of heartfelt revision is something I can certainly appreciate and applaud. In 2010, as a one-man outfit, Becoming the Lion’s Ghosts Of A Fallen Soldier began life as an illustration of the homecoming and attempted emotional reconciliation of the titular soldier. In 2018, after adding vocals (and two bandmates, no less!) the bones of the original EP have been realized in flesh.
And to be frank, Ross Blomgren’s original instrumentation possessed rough-hewn edges. More importantly, however, these compositions revealed, through the cracks and under the dull synths, the post-metal sensibilities of God As Astronaut, the proggy melancholy of Tides from nebula, and the angst of Deftones. A potent and evocative mix, to be sure. The 2018 release, I am pleased to announce, does not lose or limit that core identity--indeed, it maintains those best qualities and significantly improves upon its weaknesses. That said, the freshly minted arrangement simultaneously adds new challenges for Becoming the Lion to confront.
First, the remarkable improvement. With the addition of a drummer and guitarist, (Dan Mazur and Dennis Paterkiewicz, respectively,) the original tracks are imbued with a significant weight. The riffs are somber, and the drums, rather than loosely hanging in the detached programmed void, feel grounded--rooted, even. The issue with so much post-rock/metal is a tendency to float...but not so here. In this sense, Becoming the Lion recall the ability of Russian Circles to place the audience in a percussively concrete time and space. From an instrumental perspective, Ghosts Of A Fallen Soldier is a marked success. The gentle atmospherics draw the listener in. The delay-ridden keys deploy subtle tethers, keeping them entranced. The package isn’t quite proggy in it’s experimentation, but the dynamics between clean and moderately hefty guitar tones work inordinately well with the ambiance. Vocals, particularly in the case of Rally at the Battlefront and standout Ready, Aim, Fire, brings a glorious (and necessary) melodic element. Melancholic, desperate, and borderline tortured at times--when these vocals work, they work very well in portraying the EP’s central character.
As alluded, Becoming the Lion displays some room for improvement. The vocals, while pleasingly emotive and undeniably successful at reinforcing the ambiance established by the guitar, occasionally falls away from the instrumentation, seemingly walking its own path with no clear destination. The introductory verse and pre-chorus on Too Late Now, for example, feels disconnected in a manner that isn’t quite reconciled by the general sense of confusion and tragedy. Otherwise, the EP falls a little flat on the tail end--after the sinister We Should Have Turned Back, I was hoping for a track or two that served to reconcile the various sonic elements displayed until that point. I suppose that a lack of reconciliation is, thematically speaking, sort of the point.
I’m tempted to describe the whole package as “charming,” largely because it continues to pull me in for reasons I haven’t necessarily been able to articulate here. All told, 2018’s return to Ghosts Of A Fallen Soldier is a successful experiment in revision and (inevitable) maturation. If emotive post-metal, post-rock, or otherwise alternative music is your poison of choice, Becoming the Lion is certainly worth your while.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!