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Posts Tagged ‘Burst’

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.

Årabrot, Revenge

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.

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That’s what’s been bothering the ears over at Spinal Tapdance HQ lately, friends.  What’s cracking around your cranium?
– dhok

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Castevet, Mounds of Ash (2010)

Is this a landfill? A bomb crater? The shoreline of a fog-draped lake? You be the judge.

Seriously, this is getting unfair.  Profound Lore Records is so hot right now, that it shouldn’t be too long before metalheads want to start badmouthing one of their releases just to go against the grain; granted, the Crucifist album from last year wasn’t my absolute favorite, but it was still scuzzy, dirty black thrash/punk, and it was a whole lot of fun.  The point is,  Canada’s Profound Lore continues its remarkable winning streak with Mounds of Ash, the debut album by New York’s Castevet.  I suspect these guys will generally get tagged as ‘black metal’, but as with much of Profound Lore’s stable, that’s only a loosely accurate description; y’know, the sort of thing where you’d say, “black metal, but…”

Although this is all too easy a touchstone, given that Colin Marston recorded this record, one definitely hears echoes of Krallice’s blend of deconstructed black metal and experimental song structures, or of other (fellow) New Yorkers Liturgy.  Where both of those bands blind the listener with scorched earth guitar leads and white-knuckle intensity, however, Castevet rely much more on interlocking rhythmic patterns and a greater sense of space between the component parts.  That is, where Krallice and Liturgy succeed by taking the basic tremelo-picked building blocks of black metal to their logical conclusion by treating constant blasting and shredding as the constituent notes of slowly shifting melodies, Castevet take a more rhythmically patient path to the same sort of meditative endpoint.  Album opener “Red Star Sans Chastity,” for example, starts off fairly immediately with a twitching, off-kilter rhythm, but eventually falls away from this to the build back up to it again, leading to a fantastic game of tension and ultimate payoff, which carries through right to the dime-stop end of the song.

It’s not all black metal here, though.  The vocals are deeper and a bit more hoarse than your typical black metal rasp, maybe somewhere about halfway between hardcore shouts and death metal incantations.  They are also used somewhat sparsely, which suits the music perfectly.  Apart from taking the bits of black metal which suit their darkened ambition, Castevet also evoke bands like Tombs and Sweden’s Burst (who will be sorely, sorely missed), in that they manage to take elements of post-hardcore and some of the brightness of progressive metal, and translate all of that into songs with the patient ebb and flow and the elegantly structured slow burn of Neurosis, but viewed through sped-up film.

Special notice should be paid to the songs “Grey Matter” and “Harvester.”  The former is especially nimble, and features some fantastic machine-gunning rhythms underneath the somewhat warped guitar melody of the “verses” (I use the term with some hesitation, mind).  Check out especially the absolutely mindblowing section starting shortly after the 4:00 minute marker, in which a somewhat muted guitar lead plays to a different meter underneath the blasting of the rest of the band.  Stunning stuff.  A horn-backed instrumental, “Wreathed in Smoke,” leads nicely into the closing track, “Harvester,” which is notable, again, for an excellent slow build which crescendos about half-way through with some great crash cymbal and stabbings of noise before fading out in a swath of distant ambient washes.  The album is over in a tidy 40 minutes, and leaves the listener battered, with little else to do but fumble around for the “Play” button again.

If I haven’t already made it clear, let me say outright that the rhythm section on display in this record is wondrous to behold.  The drummer especially deserves close listening for striking the perfect balance between just keeping up with some complicated rhythm figures and hitting just the right amount of accents and fills.  Mastodon notwithstanding, a fill-crazy drummer can make a band sound way too busy; here it’s just right – complex drumming which doesn’t call needless attention to itself.  Call it black/prog/hardcore/post-/dark/whatever; if genre designations fail (as they ultimately, always, do), and if we have to play the adjective game, then I’d say the best words to describe this album are driving, hypnotic, tense, and haunting.  Some minimal and very tasteful artwork makes this an excellent all-around package.  This is most definitely recommended if you like some of the other avant-garde type black metal bands on Profound Lore, especially Ludicra, Saros, Caїna, The Howling Wind, Altar of Plagues, Krallice, Cobalt, &c., &c.  Maybe the best recommendation I can give this is that it is another fantastic Profound Lore band, and almost completely unclassifiable.  Well, except that I’ll be classifying it under “Play often, and fucking loudly.”

Overall rating: 90%.  This shit is already pretty fierce, but when you remind yourself that this is their debut album which already possesses this much vision and self-assurance, it’s pretty fucking frightening.

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