In which are briefly chronicled some of the noises that have been stuck in my ears of late.
Darkest Era, The Last Caress of Light
This brilliant Irish outfit flirts with the best of traditional and folk metal, coming across like the beautiful love-child of Primordial and Atlantean Kodex. Gorgeously powerful and emotive vocals, stirring rhythms, and twin guitar lullabies to tuck you right in. If you’re missing out on this, you’re missing out on one of the best metal albums of this still-young year.
Negative Plane, Stained Glass Revelations
Oh my, is this ever an intoxicating sound. Psychedelic without requiring drug use, with that old sound that might as well be the best new sound you’ve heard, Negative Plane’s shimmeringly melodic black metal is backed with some coarse black/thrash vocals and some seriously detailed compositional chops. This is an album to get lost inside.
Crowbar, Sever the Wicked Hand
Still sorting out my thoughts on this one. In most respects, it seems like quintessential Crowbar (though admittedly I’ve been tuned out since Odd Fellows Rest, so maybe the ‘quint-‘ in quintessential has changed in the interim), and while it’s on, and loud, I’m pulled in, but when it’s over, I don’t feel like I’ve got a lot retained in muscle memory. Probably it just needs more spins, but for something so ostensibly formed around The Crushing Riff, the absence of memorability is a slightly worrying sign. Plus, that guitar tone is like plexiglass when I want concrete.
Death, The Sound of Perseverance (3 Disc Deluxe Reissue)
Before snapping up this triple-disc reissue, it had probably been five years or so since I’d last spun The Sound of Perseverance. Opinions seem awfully mixed on this one among Death fans, and while it’s certainly not my favorite of theirs, I also don’t think it’s their worst, and the fact that so many of these songs remained burned into my mind despite a five-year hiatus meant that this felt like the return of a long-wayward friend. Two discs of bonus material is a bit much to handle, but the alternate takes and demos from 1996 with different vocalists on disc 3 are quite interesting. Certainly worth a revisiting, particularly in advance of the long-promised sophomore album from Control Denied.
Belphegor, Blood Magick Necromance
Music this intentionally offensive shouldn’t work so well to relax me, but that’s what Belphegor does. I wasn’t a huge fan of the last album, but so far, I’ve really been digging on Blood Magick Necromance. Nothing at all is one bit different, so if you’ve never been on board with the melodic sheen slapped over the Behemoth/Arkhon Infaustus black/death hybrid, today will be just like every Belphegor-free day before for you. All I know is, this shit really hits a very particular kind of spot, and yeah, it’s kind of soothing.
Miles Davis, Bitches Brew Live
Man, this is some deep intense grooving from Miles in his electric prime. Phil Freeman over at Burning Ambulance wrote a great review of this a few weeks back, so check that out for the real dirt on this fantastic release. For as much as I love the spooky atmospherics of Bitches Brew and In A Silent Way, the two live gigs documented on this disc are all about the hard, spitfire jam, not the drawn-out meditation. Turn it up loud and drink in those colors.
Spazzy, noisy, occasionally jazzy and off-kilter rock with hints of sludge from Norway. Not bad, eh? Årabrot sounds like a mathier, more metal version of The Jesus Lizard, maybe (or at least the vocals are a dead match for David Yow, or occasionally Mike Patton), with all manner of toxic skronk. This album is strangely addictive for something so initially abrasive. Check it, let it wreck you.
At The Soundawn, Shifting
I missed out on this one from last year, but it’s really been satisfying lately. Sure, it’s a bit soft for the true METAL hearts among you out there, but to my ears, it sounds like At The Soundawn has sketched a great triangle of sonic influences, with Burst (r.i.p., waaaaaaaah), Thrice, and Sigur Ros as the corners. Toss in some classy trumpet and some of the jazzy/fusion touches in the drumming (a bit like Intronaut’s Valley Of Smoke, I guess) and some tabla drums and hell, you’ve got yourself one right proper mess that nevertheless works.
That’s what’s been bothering the ears over at Spinal Tapdance HQ lately, friends. What’s cracking around your cranium?