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Posts Tagged ‘New Music’

Everyone’s favorite psychedelic sludgesters, Kylesa, have just posted a new song from their upcoming album Spiral Shadow on their MySpace page.  It’s a tune called “Tired Climb,” and it is the lead-off track from the new album.

Rather than stomping in out of nowhere and shit-kicking from beat one, this tune has a nice, slow, melodic build before the double drum attack thrusts us in to the sludged-up hardcore bellowing of Phillip Cope.  It’s a crackling tune, including some of the cleanest textures we’ve heard from Kylesa yet, as well as some pleasingly psychedelic guitar washes.

(Note: This is MySpace we’re talking about, so the sound quality is somewhat akin to having one’s ears dry-humped by a walrus covered in aluminum foil.  Still, you get the general idea.)

Last year’s Static Tensions was one of my absolute favorite records of 2009, so I’m quite excited for this new one, which drops October 26th on Season Of Mist.  Get in on the action before the action gets in on you (…?).

Also be sure to check out the dates for the band’s North American tour with High On Fire and Torche which kicks off September 29th in San Francisco.  Should be a scorcher of a tour.

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So, I’m two days or so late with this update, but presumably you are all just as giddy with anticipation as I for Iron Maiden’s new album, titled The Final Frontier.  Official news has final broken on an August 16th release date (which I can only assume/hope will translate into an August 17th release date here in the States), along with this frankly bitching cover art:

In space, no one can hear you headbang

This August release date, unfortunately, is well beyond the end of Maiden’s summer US tour (currently under way, and to be attended by yours truly in mid-July), but the band has put the album’s first single, “El Dorado,” up on their website for free download, so I would recommend dropping pretty much whatever puny thing it is you may be doing and directing yourself directly to this press release on their website for directions on downloading the single.  Frankly, if you don’t have at least seven minutes to devote to heavy metal today, I don’t even know what you think you’re doing around here.  Plus, the single download comes with this exclusive comic-art-inspired image:

"Fuck yes," is the basic conclusion you must reach

Looks a little bit Dr.-Manhattan-on-Mars-in-Watchmen, and a little bit Lord-Weird-Slough-Feg’s-Hardworlder, but also looks one hundred per cent bad-ass.  QED.

Anyway, go check out the track for yourself.  It’s not the snappiest single ever, but it seems like it will probably make for a really solid album track, and it’s got a really tight solo-trading section.  Plus, it comes in and ends on a totally heavy metal free-fill section, so it seems perfectly crafted for dropping seamlessly into their current live set.

Up the fuckin’ irons, folks.

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Altar Of Plagues, Tides (2010)

What are the Irish always so fucked off about, I wonder?

Following fairly hotly on the heels of last year’s excellent debut album White Tomb comes this hefty (36 minutes) EP from the Irish black metal band Altar Of Plagues.  Another of the almost uniformly-excellent bands on Profound Lore’s current roster, Altar Of Plagues wields a meditative, dense fusion of elemental black metal and the drawn-out song structures of insert-your-favorite-variety-of-“post-“-influenced-metal-here.  This EP, which I seem to recall reading was written on the road (the band thanks the Roadburn Festival in the liner notes), is a nice little teaser for future efforts, and thus is not quite up to the high standard set by White Tomb, but doesn’t quite seem as though it was intended to be.  To put it another way, I think that this band’s style is generally better-suited to the album-length statement, but these two tracks certainly show no precipitous drop in quality.

Of the two lengthy songs on offer here, I think opener “Atlantic Light” comes off slightly better, in large part due to its meatier feel.  (Somewhat ironic, innit, that the track “Atlantic Light” comes off as all-around heavier than the slightly more spacious “The Weight Of All”?)  The track kicks off with a nearly depressive black metal-styled plod, which eventually locks into that stretched-out, black metal/post-rock groove the band lived in so comfortably on previous releases.  The comparison is probably a bit played-out by now, but these guys probably sound closer than anyone else to the pissed-off progeny of Wolves In The Throne Room and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.  “Atlantic Light” is also notable in the vocal department for throwing in some sludgey/noisecore-styled bellowing, which very nicely complements the more traditional post-BM rasping.  These touches, though slight, might even give the band a bit of crossover appeal to fans of the somewhat spacier cast of the sludge/doom/hardcore/post-fucking-whatever spectrum (particularly Minsk, Rosetta, or Mouth of the Architect).

“The Weight Of All” touches on a somewhat wider palette of the band’s sonic and textural repertoire, perhaps unsurprisingly given its nearly 20-minute running time.  Some of the nicest songwriting touches crop up towards the end, where the band goes from washes of ambient/noise drones, into a carefully-paced section of blasting, and then finally into a great momentum-gathering final push of double bass-led gravity.  This is a band which really takes its time developing its ideas, which may require a bit of patience from the listener, but offers a fine contrast to the current glut of tech/death blast-athons.  While we’re on the subject of blasting, the sections of blast-beating are generally few and far-between on this release, but when they crop up, especially in the penultimate  movement of “The Weight Of All,” they have a pleasantly organic, loose, and almost shambolic quality, perhaps attributable to the exceptionally rattle-y snare drum.  Where this slightly off-kilter blasting might sound sloppy if attached to your more garden-variety Satan-and-frostbitten-nipples black metal, I find it carries the the suspended, droning melody of these songs rather nicely.

The production on this EP is quite a bit muddier than on White Tomb, but for some reason it really works well with the songwriting.  The crisp, clear production of the full-length worked well for the band’s sound as well, so I don’t know if the slightly dirtier tone here works only because of the few touches of sludge vocals thrown in, or maybe just because this whole release has the feel of a really promising young band out on the road, impatient to get some new ideas thrown down to tape before the moment passes; regardless, this sounds much more live, and really puts the listener in direct conversation with the mournful hue of these patient, well-crafted songs.  All in all, though I’d much rather hear another full-length from this Irish band, these two songs whet the appetite nicely until the crepuscular, creaking world they apparently inhabit inspires them to further feats of sorrowful, avant-garde bleakness.

Overall rating: 75%, light & weight.

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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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I’m not going to pretend that this is a fully thought-out list.  These ten albums are not even ranked in any sort of order.  Think of this, maybe, as a bit of a status update for 2010.  It’s been a pretty good year for metal so far, and we’re not even halfway through.  I have made no effort to select albums which are particularly obscure or underground, this is just a selection of some of the new metal albums that have been welcomed warmly into my home (and ears) this year.  Chances are, I’ll get around to posting reviews of some of these at some point.

– Darkthrone, Circle the Wagons

Ludicra, The Tenant

Twilight, Monument to Time End

Abigor, Time is the Sulphur in the Veins of the Saint

The Howling Wind, Into the Cryosphere

Nechochwen, Azimuths to the Otherworld

Immolation, Majesty and Decay

Orphaned Land, The Neverending Way of ORWarriOR

Howl, Full of Hell

1349, Demonoir

I’m still undecided on the new albums by The Ocean, Sigh, Xasthur, and Red Sparowes.  Biggest disappointment so far is probably the new album by Blacklisted, but I suspect this isn’t because it’s a disappointing album for them, and rather that I just don’t like their style at all (well, to be fair, it was primarily the monotone hardcore vocals that turned me waaaay off).  Plenty of other great records are out already, with many more to come.  I’m particularly excited about the new Anathema, Watain, Nevermore, and Pig Destroyer albums, as well as the sophomore album from A Forest Of Stars.  I also just found out that Deepsend Records is rereleasing Gorguts’ 2001 album From Wisdom to Hate pretty soon, which is fantastic news for anyone who loves Gorguts’ other records but didn’t quite want to pony up $20-30 on eBay for a used copy (let’s not even get started on what some people are charging for the also out-of-print milestone Obscura – I had the good fortune to randomly stumble across a brand new copy of it somewhere recently [I think it was either on eBay or Half.com] which had been labeled ‘Used’ and was being sold for around $20).

Oh, shit, let’s not forget FUCKING IRON MAIDEN.  Up the irons!

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