Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Lion’s Daughter & Indian Blanket – A Black Sea

Collaboration in its truest form is defined by two or more artists coalescing their strengths and crafts into one cohesive piece of music, rather than simply combining the two and hoping for something comprehensible to emerge from the creative deluge.

Prolific bands like Boris have worked on records with Sunn O))) (Altar) and Ian Astbury (BXI), each distinctly different from the respective components' output but still maintaining scents of their original work at the same time. Iron Lung are another band that truly mastered this craft, especially with their Public Humiliation record, working with Walls and Pig Heart Transplant to create a harrowing torrent of noise and power violence.

This brings us to St. Louis, Missouri, the home city of The Lion’s Daughter and Indian Blanket, two bands whose music is worlds apart yet here they are together in the form of A Black Sea. The Lion’s Daughter made their presence felt last year with Shame on Us All, their first full-length, a melee of visceral sludge imbued black metal, a la Wolvhammer, that raced through fiery blastbeats and caustic vocals with a punky flair. Indian Blanket on the other hand are versed in sullen and solemn folk music, guided by melancholy vocals and acoustic guitars complemented by verdant violin arrangements.

On A Black Sea, The Lion’s Daughter have reined in their tempo, broadly speaking, traversing a more doom-oriented plain all the while Indian Blanket lead the album’s sombre melodies with acoustic guitars, genteel and sombre vocals and utterly gorgeous violins.

The album’s opener ‘Wolves’ presents the pairing’s modus operandi in evocative fashion as pastoral acoustic verses, helmed by serene clean vocals, bloom into trudging swathes of sludge-laden doom metal riffs glossed with dramatic violins and bellowing vocals from The Lion’s Daughter’s Rick Giordano, soon accompanied by heartstring yanking vocal harmonies that conjure up one compelling sound.

This bleeding heart emotion is easy to dissect from the album’s more visceral sides with lush melodies poking through the grooving riffs of ‘Gods Much More Terrible’, and ‘Swann’ delving into an emotively rich trough only to scale to a stunningly poignant crescendo.

‘Song for the Devil’ plucks notions from the darkest of country, laden with morose acoustic guitars and solemn vocals meanwhile ‘Sea of Trees’ is the closest thing to black metal on this record with scorching tremolo guitars and utterly violent vocals. It’s the closest thing on this record that could be mistaken for simply being a track from The Lion’s Daughter.

It somehow leads us into ‘That Place’, the album closer. More gloomy acoustic passages helm the path before guitars come crushing in again but maintains the melodic tones with clean vocals from Indian Blanket’s Joe Andert who regales tails of regret in a swelling chorus, sounding like a gloomier take on modern-day Anathema.

A Black Sea is compelling in its melancholy, marrying two diverse entities into one while showing no creases or folds, rather flowing naturally and seamlessly into each other; in many regards it’s an unexpected triumph but still wholly welcomed.

Stream courtesy of CVLT Nation

Sunday, November 17, 2013

New music Sunday: Woods of Desolation, Hell, Mizmor

Secluded Australian black metal entity Woods of Desolation will be releasing their new album, As The Stars on February 14th through Northern Silence. Joined by Drudkh’s Vlad in drums for this record, As The Stars will be the follow-up to 2011’s acclaimed Torn Beyond Reason. They are currently streaming a track of their melody-rich emotive black metal now called ‘This Autumn Light’. Listen below.

Oregon’s Hell are currently planning a split LP with fellow Oregonians Mizmor, to be released in January. The band’s wretched festering sludge doom is a crushing sound to behold, made so clear by their most recent output in Hell III and the split cassette with Amorok.  The band’s side of the LP will be made up of one track 'Foetorem Timere' and the band recently posted a four minute sample of the track. It captures only a scent of the song with strings and gentle guitars that suggest it is only the intro coupled with a brief couple of seconds of droning sludge riffing at the end.

Meanwhile, Mizmor are streaming their own clip, which is only about a minute and ten seconds. They occupy a very similar sonic realm as Hell with deathly droning guitars and eerie melodies but this clip only reveals a tad. Have a listen.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Weekend Nachos - Still

Rip, rage, repeat. It’s the Weekend Nachos formula for their searing hate-fuelled grind that has continually served them well, jamming unbridled ferocity into short running times. In the case of this new LP Still; 22 minutes. Finding a home with Relapse Record hasn’t stunted this modus operandi either and is Weekend Nachos…em… still being Weekend Nachos.

Still is sonic diatribe after sonic diatribe. It relies on a well-worn formula as it continues to serve them and the band continue to stick out from a wave of similar other bands that are firing out 7”s and tapes all year round with little focus on establishing a sound unto themselves.

Thankfully, Weekend Nachos are a band that do have an established sound for themselves. Of course, the band’s fastcore tendencies are the most exploited but the slow trudge of Unforgivable still makes its presence felt, like on 'Yes Way'.

'Nachos are straddling a line between metallic hardcore and powerviolence right now and there doesn’t seem to be anything that can throw them off balance.

Granted, Still isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel and it’s not 2013’s very best hardcore or grindcore record (Cloud Rat and Iron Lung are more likely contenders for that mantle). Either way, it’s another terse and belligerent fist full of seething grind that does exactly what it is says the tin (apologies for the cliché).

Friday, November 8, 2013

Trio of reviews: Oathbreaker, Ataraxie, MSW

Oathbreaker – Eros|Anteros

Oathbreaker’s second album Eros|Anteros is the follow-up to 2011’s Maelstrom, an album that firmly placed the Belgian hardcore band, and members of the Ra collective, firmly on the map. Releasing the record through Deathwish Inc. certainly helped too. While Maelstrom was a vicious and unrelenting piece of work, riddled with scything riffs and scorched earth vocals from Caro Tanghe, it displayed a more reserved side at times, heard on its title track. This dynamic is explored much more so on Eros|Anteros, though make no mistake, the fierce likes of ‘Condor Tongue’ and ‘Nomads’ still make up the bulk of the record. However, the expansive nine minute ‘The Abyss Looks Into Me’ and the meandering ‘Agartha’ show a band taking melodic cues from their peers and contorting their established sound into something new. Eros|Anteros is a frustrated record in some regards as the Belgians seem determined to try something new and while solid, it feels much more indicative of things to come rather than a statement of what they are now.

Ataraxie – L'Être et la Nausée

French death/doom maestros Ataraxie have finally released the follow-up to 2008’s Anhédonie but special mention must be made of the band’s appearance on Irish soil; a stunningly evocative set at Dublin Doom Days 2012, which proved to be one of the fest’s highlights once the dust had settled. Now they have released their newest full-length L'Être et la Nausée, a devastating trip into the murky abyss of death and funeral doom. At nearly 80 minutes, Ataraxie have taken an expected route for epic death/doom but it’s by no means predictable as the band’s crushing dirges of lead guitars that recall Mourning Beloveth and scathing throaty vocals from Jonathan Théry that are equally harrowing as they are invigorating, is all overwhelming. This densely layered piece of work is perfected by bursts of death metal blasts peppered throughout that perfectly complement the snail’s pace doom that makes up the majority of the album. ‘Face The Loss of Your Sanity’ is one such empowering dirge that’s indicative of the entire record; one of 2013’s very best in doom.

MSW – Cloud: Musica Pro Lapsu

In a totally different realm we have MSW from Salem, Oregon’s Hell. With this project and its new cassette release Cloud: Musica Pro Lapsu, he has left behind the sludgy misanthropic doom of Hell but still very much maintained a funereal tone. Cloud is largely a piano piece, spliced with faint vocal textures, layers of strings and vague distant guitars. “This album is not metal but heavy” says the self-applied description and the dense ambience certainly attests to this. With two ten minute elegies of reflective atmospherics, Cloud is a listen to completely lose one’s self in in a dark room, left only with your thoughts. Harrowing and equally beautiful.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Crown of Cerberus interview

I’m very pleased to present this interview with M. Chami of electronic/ambient act Crown of Cerberus. He released his latest album, With Arms Extended to the Heavens, earlier this year but doesn’t do many interviews so I was delighted to get to know a little more about the project, its themes and the future. Click HERE to read.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hannes Grossmann, Obscura interview

Obscura's Hannes Grossmann has just successfully crowd-funded his solo record, The Radial Covenant, which will feature some high profile guest musicians. I spoke with him about the whole endeavour over at 50K Music as well as a bit on this month's Death To All tour. Read it HERE.