In the rush to cover the constant waves of new music, we all too often neglect discussing the releases that leave the most substantial impressions in our lives. As such, we recently invited some bands and artists to wax poetic about an album that was deeply impactful or influential to them, either musically or personally. The third guest to graciously offer a retrospective in this series is Steven of (intoxicatingly cathartic and emotive) dark electronica act aortaproject. Notably, this is the second of four(!) NIN retrospectives. Read on!
Written by: Steven of aortaproject
Nine Inch Nails The Fragile: Trent Reznor's opus. Not his most critically acclaimed work, but for diehards, this is "all that could have been" for Nine Inch Nails.
It's been almost 20 years since the iconic double album’s release in Sept of 1999 and I still couldn't be happier with it. The Fragile remains a staple in my reported influences, and a constant in my playlist. Even after thousands of hours of listening, I still find bits and pieces I haven't noticed before. Exploring the threads of Reznor's genius. The Fragile is laced with sonic texture, intricate layering, and an articulate blending of synthetic and natural elements, encroaching the frail temperament of stringed instruments with the powerful programming of electronic drums and pulsating synths.
In the rush to cover the constant waves of new music, we all too often neglect discussing the releases that leave the most substantial impressions in our lives. As such, we recently invited some bands and artists to wax poetic about an album that was deeply impactful or influential to them, either musically or personally. The second guest to graciously offer a retrospective in this series is Chris H of antifacist blackened outfit Phryne. Read on!
Written by: Chris H
The first time I listened to The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails was in 2015. At that time, I was starting to find myself listening to heavier music, and I was venturing to discover all the classic hallmarks of metal. Industrial had always been interesting to me, but as a kid I was always too afraid of the dark imagery to really listen. When I sat down to listen to The Downward Spiral--the first industrial album I decided to listen to--and pressed play, I heard the sounds of a man being beaten in a strangely rhythmic fashion. At that moment, I was uneasy and wondering if I should keep going and listen on, but as the sample from the film THX 1138 crescendoed into a chaotic noisescape, I gave in and was transported to the grimy world Trent Reznor had created. “Mr. Self Destruct” is still one of my favorite album openers because of its raw attack and energy. It is the perfect beginning to the experience that is The Downward Spiral.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Nothing really scratches an itch for the heavies like a solid slab of traditional doom with a monstrous boom. Castle have been around for a little while now, but they didn’t cross my radar until a friend suggested them, and their most recent effort Deal Thy Fate hooked me in an instant. Repeat listens only made me love it more. Every box is checked; intricate rhythms, strong solos, incredible vocals, and haunting structures.
With that, you can take it and run with it, or you can go absolutely nowhere, all depending on the songwriting. Thankfully, this department has been perfected. Guitar leads with bouncy energy reflected off crushing bottom riffage is the name of the game. You’ll also find all kinds of higher wails between the solos and the fretboard fun. Amazingly, they also manage to pack a lot into generally short runtimes for songs, cramming in endless riffs and licks that dance around the typical song structure. A darker shadow is cast upon this, but they never lose their accessibility.
In the rush to cover the constant waves of new music, we all too often neglect discussing the releases that leave the most substantial impressions in our lives. As such, we recently invited some bands and artists to wax poetic about an album that was deeply impactful or influential to them, either musically or personally. First up in this series of guest reviews is the prolific Espi Kvlt of Apricitas, Yngve, Seas of Winter, Phryne, Guan Yin, and Exsanguinated Shade. Read on!
Written by: Espi Kvlt
Is it blissful?
It’s like a dream.
I want to dream.
These words, from the first track off Deafheaven’s sophomore album, cut through me like a knife the first time I held the lyrics booklet up to my face to digest its contents. Impossible to decipher by simply listening to the album, I wanted to absorb every bit of it, as it had caressed me in the darkness of that filthy basement apartment where I lived with the man that would soon become my ex-boyfriend. The screeching vocals off Sunbather called out to me like a friend each time I was left in that bed in the corner of our room to ponder what I did to deserve the abuse from the man I thought I loved.
It cannot be overstated how much the lyrics alone have left a permanent impact on my
psyche, so much so that I branded those lyrics from “Dream House” permanently onto my flesh beside a ram skull. During those tumultuous times in that apartment, they were a source of comfort. They were my therapy. Accustomed to bands like Darkthrone and Cradle of Filth, it was the first time I had encountered such poetic language in black metal. Later in my life, this extended to my own lyrics. Deafheaven’s Sunbather still informs each decision I make when I put that pen to the paper. Lines like “Lost in the patterns of youth / And the ghost of your aches comes back to haunt you / And the forging of change makes no difference” make me both overjoyed at the experience of being able to read them and saddened to know I didn’t come up with them myself.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Bursting out of Belgium comes Evil Invaders, one of those bands that teeters the lines of thrash and speed metal that took form a little over a decade ago. Their latest album Feed Me Violence dropped back in 2017, and has since ended up being a total grower of a record. I say that because it starts out sounding like your typical speed metal that tries to rip-off Painkiller riffs with dashes of Overkill-isms. Before too long, they prove themselves otherwise.
The speedier tracks aren’t bad by any stretch. Although the album bounces back and forth between these songs and the more intriguing crawlers, this style is let on little by little as the disc progresses. “Oblivion” intertwines the two by injecting an epic crawl that rolls into one of the fastest tunes, showcasing their speed side the greatest heights. Others like the title track are solid enough, but this isn’t where I think the band shines the brightest.
Sometimes, this particular scribe finds it useful to glance backward and spend some quality time with an album defined by good memories, high spirits, and the sweet taste of familiarity. In that spirit, we post a lot of brief retrospective reviews over on our Instagram, but said pieces seldom make their way here to graze in greener pastures. Here are eight brief write-ups of death metal albums that we have revisited over the past few months--a veritable death metal menagerie. Enjoy! - Ed.
GOJIRA - From Mars to Sirius (2007)
There are few albums that remain so influential in my indoctrination into the chrvch of riff-centric music. Mastodon's essential Remission, perhaps, tops the heap, but Gojira's multiple efforts cycle through rotation on a remarkably consistent basis. From Mars to Sirius is a monstrosity of an album, demonstrating the heaviest of riffs within the confines of a striped-bare (yet progressive) mentality. Here, Gojira's trademark conceptual and thematic underpinnings are on full display--not preachy, but immediate. And never have whale sounds sounded so utterly massive. In short? If you've missed this album in favor of their more popular releases...you should probably get on that.
HOODED MENACE - Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed (2018)
Although this was released early on, no other album impressed me in 2018 with such a finely-tuned ability to straddle the line between death’s crushing riffage and funeral doom’s dismal gloom. Harrowing and heavy, the layers of grotesque yet melodically lofty leads form a near-tangible environment for these Hooded Menaces to dwell. Despite these leanings,“cavernous" remains an apt description for the atmosphere. I mean, just look at that album cover. Precision and restraint in the percussive department-- and a killer vocal tone--further delineate Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed as a masterful album, easily their best (and most ominous) to date.
Written by: Lord Hsrah
Beyond the Red Mirror follows after a long 5-year wait since German power metal titans Blind Guardian's last studio release, which was 2010's At the Edge of Time. The record received warm and positive reception from both fans and the media alike. Beyond the Red Mirror, however, is a completely different gravy compared to At the Edge... or some of their releases of the 21st century such as A Twist In The Myth, which saw the band move increasingly to a more progressive direction.
Released by Nuclear Blast, Beyond the Red Mirror is a concept album that loosely follows the events of their 1995 masterpiece Imaginations From the Other Side. And like it's prequel, this is a very riff driven album that was the Krefeld-formed band's style for the 80's and the first part of their 90's records. The orchestral elements climb higher up the pecking order of the song composition percentage, taking the band to a more classical side. This is also the first album to feature new bassist, Barend Courbois, following the departure of long time session bass player, Oliver Holzwarth, who left the German outfit after filling in for bass duties, both live and in the studio for 13 years.
Written by: Lord Hsrah
Swedish metal outfit Katatonia's first full-length release, Dance of December Souls, is a monumental record that helped shape the then-evolving doom metal scene, particularly as the influence of death metal started creeping into Europe and consequently into their music as well. Dance of December Souls is a wild ride of sorts through various emotions, all on the negative side of the human nature. And though this monolith of an album provided the blueprint of music for a myriad of other such doom and death fusing bands, this craft was still left wanting on certain fronts. In contrast though, on a few other fronts, it explored domains that would go on to become the band's path to further evolution down the long road of their career.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!