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.
Written by: Continuous Thunder
When I learned that The Devil Wears Prada was going to release a sequel to their Zombie EP, I was equally excited and apprehensive. It’s no secret that I consider the Zombie EP to be among the band’s best releases and that it might very well be their best release overall. Returning to the subject of the zombie apocalypse is an intriguing prospect, but the sequel has big shoes to fill. The concern is compounded when you consider that the last release from the band was The Act in 2019, where the band made a significant shift in their sound towards an allegedly more mature post-hardcore. While that album received almost universal acclaim from critics, it wasn’t all that exciting to me, personally and it was ultimately disappointing. Would ZII (read “zee two,” or “zed two” if you’re from any country other than the US) return to the undead wasteland and observe it through this new, breakdown-less lens, or would the band try to go back 11 years and recapture the blistering fury of the original?
Welcome back, weary traveler! Firstly, if ye missed Part 1 of this mid-year extravaganza, we highly recommend checking that out first. If you're already familiar with what this is all about, however: thanks so much for reading and returning for more! As always, we appreciate your patronage and your support, particularly now that our humble halls are filled with an exciting array of guest writers who deserve to have their words read.
Again, this collaborative list is far from exhaustive, and represents but a fraction of our collective favorites. 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 once again offer thanks to everyone who helped make this list a reality and a success.
Without further ado, let's dive in! Today's list is a tad longer than the first, so pull up a chair, put up yer feet, and stay a while.
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:
Written by: The Administrator
I'm admittedly a little late to the draw on this one. That said, our endorsements of good music shouldn't be constrained, as we slumbering scribes are attempting to actualize, by the constant churn of the promo pit. In any case, let's not delay any longer.
Coming off the success of their stunning I Am No One--an album I liked so much I blatantly pressed the title track into service for our Caravan of Doom compilation--Norway's own Jointhugger dropped a single track EP on April 2nd of this year. It's an absolute stunner; the best thing they have done to date, and that's saying something. This 18 minute epic takes a slightly more progressive angle, illustrating the band's ability to build a complete and varied story across multiple acts. The musicianship across the board is as impressive as ever, and the hugely impactful songwriting places Reaper Season in the highest echelon of this year's doomier offerings.
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: Blackie Skulless
Extirpate (verb): to root out or destroy completely. Nothing cooler than when the band name’s meaning fits so comfortably in the musical shoe. Extirpation are an Italian black metal band that formed in 2009, releasing several albums in that time. Their latest, entitled A Damnation’s Stairway To The Altar Of Failure, dropped in early 2019 (with a cassette release via Redefining Darkness in late 2020 - Ed.) and boy, is everything about this just painful and unlovable. Strap yourselves in, it’s a nasty ride.
Building their craft around uncontrollable chaos involving madness and discomfort, this release will come in quick with a piercing delivery under mildly degraded quality. That includes the riffwork and the vocals alike. Musically, it’s somewhat thrash-oriented regarding the riffs, hearkening back to the first wave of black metal. But the clashing echo of the hate-fueled drums and the unique, shattering vocal performance brings this to far higher extremes. The vocals alone are a grower for sure, but should even stand out for the seasoned listener of this style.
Written by: The Administrator
The metal community has used metalcore (and its affiliates) as the butt of a joke for so long that many of us have forgotten or neglected its true strength: namely, a vehicle for the explosive expression of emotion. The stigma certainly has a basis in, y'know, a veritable bevy of lackluster exemplars of the style, but the general notion that "metalcore = intrinsically bad" is an obviously unfair burden to place upon the diamonds in the rough. While many of us are understandably cynical, there's a lot of very good metalcore out there that remains hidden behind prejudicial assumptions about the style, and that's a damn shame.
In any case, today's two-track demonstrates quite well the aforementioned strength of the style: an ability to convey feelings like anger and angst in a notably volatile and cathartic fashion. These dual singles from L.A's own AFTERMYFALL illustrate the success one can find when deliberately borrowing from other genres, injecting a little heartfelt authenticity, and avoiding the performative pitfalls that plague the dregs of 'core.
Written by: The Administrator
Asking if you are in the mood for riff-slangin' death metal born of a war-torn future is hardly a question worth asking...because of course you are. Asking if you are in the mood for some furious Bolt Thrower (and/or Warhammer 40k) worship is a similarly worthless question...because of course you are. Despite seeming somewhat niche, one-man death metal wrecking crew World Eaters carries a wide appeal.
This latest EP--the mighty Grinding Advance--delivers a pugilistic blow befitting its source material. World Eaters has been quite prolific over the past year or so, releasing a demo and several killer splits, and I'm happy to report that this beast is a very strong showing indeed--David Gupta's best work yet, in my humble opinion. This is a release worth celebrating, so let's get to it.
Written by: Blackie Skulless
Truly, I have picked an incredible year to dive into black metal. Between the latest Wode release, and now this devastating beast of a group known as Craven Idol, I can’t have found a better time to jump balls-deep into this horrendous style of extreme metal. Craven Idol has been around since the early 2000s, hailing from London, England. Their third effort Forked Tongues follows the tales of the ancient serpentine beast known as Typhon, a titan of Greek mythology. I was not ready for this.
With a cover depicting Earth on the cusp of burning to nothingness, we’re met with music that blasts the Olympian narrative deep into your ears with unforgiving black metal riffing, erupting drum-blasts, and varying vocal shrieks. The occasional dropping of a death-tinted growl and oh-so subtle falsettos work in an even broader scope of madness. To be even more over-the-top, the constant use of a noisy riff gradient keeps the bottom hot. On the upper levels, you’ve got wailing passages that introduce some signs of melody, making this a monster you have to submerge your attention in to catch it all.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!