Written by: The Administrator
When we're not locked in our drafty scriptorium, daily existence here at the Sleeping Village is inevitably beset by the type of backbreaking labor inherent to a (pseudo) medieval township. The grind is real, and, as such, an occasional dose of the weird and wonderful is a bit of a necessity. Hence, the promise of self-declared "space disco synth metal," courtesy of Alpha Boötis, seemed like a likely candidate for injecting a lil' excitement into mid-afternoon drudgery.
And boy, is it ever. I seldom write reviews immediately after consuming the music in question, but after jamming this two-track-plus-a-cover EP about eight times over the span of the past few hours, I feel somewhat moved to say my piece post-haste. Let's get to it.
Written by: Beaston Lane
2020 was my first year delving into the obscure and current side of heavy metal, leading me to listen to a seemingly infinite amount of artists including critical darlings like Haken and Imperial Triumphant. However, one band that seemed to fly under the radar far too often--Black Crown Initiate--endlessly commanded my attention with their third album, Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape.
Having dropped on August 7th, this magnum opus has steadily gained momentum through the beginning of 2021, but I’m here to put it in the spotlight again. Artists who released albums during 2020 took a big risk with touring on hiatus, and they deserve all the attention they can get. Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape is my favorite album of the year--intoxicating, refreshing, poignant, and above all, beautiful.
Written by: Capt. Graves
It has been a night or two [or...many more - Ed.] since I have stepped foot into the Village. The last I heard, Tumulus had played in this here land, and annihilated everything except the bath tub where our humble moderator resides. The land is scorched, bloody, and full of broken spirit. Laying waste upon lands is not only glorifying, but it sends a message that I will gladly share. Existential dread is my forte, and North Star The Wanderer has delivered unto us Universal Trajectory, which seemingly brings me much hope for the end of ends.
The dudes over at North Star The Wanderer have brought an album that is probably my favorite work thusfar from Charlie (the mastermind). I have seen this man evolve as a musician, and I can speak volumes about his ability as a guitar player. I've watched Chris (drummer) become a fruitful musician, and an amazing producer. Justin (bass), he plays a funny bass, but he sure slaps that thing well! We have had the pleasure to share the stage with this power trio, and they are remarkable musicians.
Written by: Vattghern
Haken, oh Haken! Some VIP Tickets, Meet and Greets, lots of merch, and signed vinyl copies later, Haken has not only become a titan of modern prog, but also a friend through thick and thin for me. Despite my love for the Brits, after the release of their last studio album Vector and my corresponding praise for it, the band seemingly vanished from my playlists. Did I outgrow Haken? Did they outgrow me? All these questions crossed my mind when the band announced Vector’s spiritual successor Virus out of the blue and my inner fanboy didn’t move a muscle.
“New Haken single is meh,” I disappointingly declared in the lead up to the release, only to end up hitting play on “Invasion” every time I got a hold of my headphones. So, as it tends to do, the future proofed me wrong and answered my doubts with a big, fat “nah.” And after three midnight sessions of eagerly hitting refresh on Haken’s Spotify, only to find out the album has been delayed again, I finally got ahold of Virus. Since the past had proven that Haken ages like a fine wine for me, I’ve taken my appropriate time with it, which translates to about a week of nonstop listening. My verdict? Virus, while still awaiting the test of time, is not only the perfect second part to Vector, but also some of the band's finest work to date.
Written by: Loveloth
How does a band evoke the feelings of melancholy? The approach varies from genre to genre, but using the minor scale is a definite foundation. After that anything is game, and as a result, any sadboi--like yours truly--has a plethora of options to choose from. The most extreme examples are the DSBM and adjacent black metal genres. There, melancholy manifests through anguish and despair. Tremolo picking, shrieks and blast beats reign as lords, whereas on the opposite side of the spectrum, such as on the notorious pop ballads, we've got clean vocals covered by electronic-based instrumentation with slower paced beats.
I personally don't have any emotional responses when I hear most of that type of stuff due to how they're manufactured and how much they rely on cheap motifs. I realized this when I was a wee lad and as time went on, I searched far and wide for music to comfort, help me contemplate, and of course cope with any hardships I came across. At one point in time, I found myself listening to “Lethean” by Katatonia via a great YouTube recommendation, remember those? I was stunned with its energy and heaviness, and by the time Jonas Renkse's vocals kicked in, I was hooked. To this very day, Dead End Kings remains my favorite album by them and I would honestly put Katatonia right next to Opeth and that dude Devon Townsent as my go-to sadboi band.
Written by: Izzy
Let’s address the elephant in the room. This album sounds a lot like Deftones, but let’s make an important distinction in Loathe’s music. While Deftones are certainly capable of being aggressive, both on their new and old material, Loathe’s blending of metalcore’s raw energy and ferocity works beautifully to contrast the softer sections and make them feel especially intense, this interplay between tones elevates the listening experience of the entire album to new heights. Rather than creating cascading landscapes where these sounds weave together as Deftones would, Loathe are more interested in forging roads with sharp twists and turns through both beauty and musical invective.
The one-two of the vicious "Broken Vision Rhythm" attack, and the otherworldly slow-dance of "Two Way Mirror," provides a perfect example of this knack for hairpin changes of tone and sonic scenery; a trick the album doesn’t use once, but pulls again later with the hauntingly beautiful "Is It Really You?" transitioning into the most hideously relentless, breakneck song on the entire album, "Gored." Despite the sudden transformation, everything on display here is crafted so tastefully that these shifts feel very natural and flow into one another gracefully.
Given the wide display of personal taste we've curated amongst our cabal of scribes, it's not often that the Sleeping Village as an entity is collectively all a-buzz about the same album. But Ulcerate's high-quality track record is, in many ways, a great unifier. Thusfar, their career has been a remarkably blemish-free endeavor. Moreover, their continued reinvention of extreme metal motifs has led to some of the best examples of genre-melding madness the metal community has had the joy of witnessing. It seems, frankly, that they can do no wrong, and--spoiler alert--Stare Into Death And Be Still only further cements their status as legends. Equal parts technically adept and emotionally bombastic, this album is going to be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on quite a few year end lists. Mark my words.
To assess Ulcerate's latest offering, two Village-dwellers--Izzy and Loveloth-- took up the pen to express their views, making for a rare double review 'round these parts. Without further ado, I'll let them do the talking.
Written by: Heavy Grinder
What do you do when a band makes music you like but has a name you don’t particularly care for?
You fucking get over it.
Neck of the Woods have a campy band name that seems more apt for a pop country act positioning themselves as the band next door. You know, the one you want to have a beer with and eat fried chicken or whatever. I don’t remember being particularly moved when Sacha Dunable crooned about ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’ on Blood from a Stone; a perfect example of why in Metal, idioms and folksy phrases should be used sparingly or avoided.
But we’ll just assume there is something very Metal going on in those woods or there is some profound hidden meaning to the name that eludes my simple mind.
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: 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.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!