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Posts Tagged ‘Profound Lore’

One can hardly crack open any corner of the internet lately without being subjected to the annual rite of Wistfully Realizing That Summer Is Nearly Over.  That fact, coupled with the release this week of Iron Maiden’s latest album The Final Frontier (itself a potential wistfulness-fest in its own right), which seems to have been one of the more high-profile and highly anticipated metal releases of the year, has left me with that vague twinge.

You know, that “Ah, shit, 2010, it was nice to know you, but I guess you’re off to stay at that farm upstate where you’ll have all the room to run and play that we couldn’t offer you here at home” sort of twinge.

So, as a bit of a patch on this collective maudlin tendency, I thought I’d tally up some of the albums which are still slated to be released in this humble Year Of Our Narcissism 2010 for which I’m most excited.  This is by no means intended to be an exhaustive (or even particularly informative) list; this is just the stuff that I’m keeping tabs on, all sweaty palmed and fidgeting in my seat.
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– Blind Guardian, At The Edge Of Time.  The full-page ad I keep seeing in the magazines has a quote describing this as something like “ethnic and pure.”  Sounds a bit dodgy, but I’m just hoping “ethnic” is a poorly-chosen synonym for “folk-ish.”  A Twist In The Myth was a little dull for my tastes, so here’s hoping they spice things up.

– Venetian Snares, My So-Called Life.  Not metal, sure, but Aaron Funk has consistently put out some of the most intense electronic music of the past decade or so.  Plus, Detrimentalist was the fucking shit.

– Christian Mistress, Agony & Opium.  Classic NWOBHM tunes fronted by a Björk-esque singer?  Hell yeah.  Bring it on, 20 Buck Spin.

– Infernaeon, Genesis To Nemesis. Their debut from a few years back was more than a little shaky, but I’m hopeful for this one.  Sure, this is unlikely to be the second coming of Nocturnus’ The Key, but hell, there’s a lot more room in death metal for keyboard experimentation than in black metal.

– Cephalic Carnage, Misled By Certainty.  Cephalic Carnage have always seemed like the quintessential Relapse band to me.  I know they didn’t pioneer the stuff, but their widdly death/grind/tech/whatever whirlwind tends to satisfy like lemonade on a sweltering summer’s day.

– Black Anvil, Triumvirate.  Pretty psyched for this, and you should be, too, if you’re looking for an updated take on Darkthrone’s mid-period crust-covered Celtic Frost-isms.

– Unearthly Trance, V.  The upward trajectory of this band has been astonishing over their past four albums.  Electrocution was a pitch-perfect distillation of what it seems like they’d been working toward all-along, so who knows where they’re going next?

– Melechesh, The Epigenesis.  Melechesh have lately been everything Absu quit being a while back.

– Drudkh, Handful Of Stars.  Drudkh’s form has changed deceptively little over the years, leading some to interpret that as stagnation.  Listen carefully to the last few records, though, and you’ll hear the results of slight tinkering to an entirely unique sound.  The prominence of bass on Microcosmos alone should have signaled that no matter how hateful the forests these Ukrainians haunt, they’re deadly serious.

– Salome, [Title Still Unknown].  Profound Lore has been dropping some tasty hint-morsels lately about this album.  Vocalist Kat added the third prong to Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s triple vocal attack on lats year’s Agorapocalypse, but hearing her vocals attached to scathingly crippled sludge is another thing altogether.

– Torche, Songs For Singles.  Rumor is, the record’s too short, and maybe also too awesome.  Blown off as pop metal by plenty of those who don’t realize that Torche combine some of the best attributes of pop and metal, meaning maybe the epithet’s actually a back-handed compliment.

– Enslaved, Axioma Ethica Odini.  The title seems like a Latinized version of “The Ethical Axioms of Odin.”  Presumably that gives just as little clue to the musical contents as the Latin version, though.  This is one of my most feverishly anticipated records, though; Enslaved have been completely unstoppable to this point.

– Krieg, The Isolationist.  Okay, so I really dug The Black House, but thought Blue Miasma was uninspired and dull.  Adding Leviathan’s Wrest to the band (on bass) is more than sufficient to pique my interest, though.

– Cradle Of Filth, Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa.  Wow.  This may actually be a worse album title than the new Enslaved.  Plus, it’s Cradle Of Filth, so any credibility I may have had is likely a shredded mass of bloody pulp by now.  But you know?  I still kind of dig Cradle Of Filth, and Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder was light years better than most of their recent tripe.  So, y’know: Fuck off.

– Therion, Sitra Ahra.  Here’s to hoping that bringing things back to a single-disc release can bring slightly more focus than recent efforts.  Sure, Sirius B / Lemuria worked well in tandem, but given how good just the right amount of Therion is, too much Therion is a headache-inducing proposition.

– October Tide, A Thin Shell.  More gloominess, please.

– Sailors With Wax Wings, Sailors With Wax Wings.  Pyramids side-project with tons of unexpected participants and collaborators from throughout the metal world?  Excellent.

– Kylesa, Spiral ShadowStatic Tensions was one of my favorites from last year, so I’m pretty psyched that they’ve already got a new album coming out late October.

– Vulture Industries, The Malefactor’s Bloody Register.  Slightly off-the-wall black metal from a who’s-who of mainstream underground (it’s a fine, confusing line) Norwegian black metal.  Not for the ‘true’, likely, but true for the rest.

– Virus, The Agent That Shapes The Desert.  I did a little plug for this upcoming album a little while back.  I’m hoping the band can get enough pre-order support from all you good folks out there in Awesome Metal Appreciation Land to make this a 2010 release.  Fingers crossed, then…

– Aborym, Psychogrotesque.  Completely fucking no joke, a few days ago I was posting on Twitter about how I was hoping to see some new music from Aborym someday soon.  Lo and behold, maybe the very next day or so comes through the news item that they’ve got a new album coming out this year.  Shit!  Generator trimmed back on some of the detrimental excess of With No Human Intervention and cranked out some seriously deranged black/industrial anthems.  That title’s a bit shit, but still my soul hungers for the bleakness.

These last few are already out in Europe, to be fair, but I’d really love to see them picked up by a U.S. distributor rather than paying import prices:

– Ondskapt, Arisen From The Ashes.  Last one was a beast.  Make this one beast-ier?

– Kvelertak, Kvelertak.  Everything I’ve read about this band has made me want to drink some beers and crank the record.  And yet, if I am forced to pay import prices for it, I will have no money with which to drink some beers.  An existential conundrum if ever there was one.

– Winterfylleth, The Mercian Sphere.  Their debut full-length The Ghost of Heritage was quite impressive, but had a few too-ragged edges.  Here’s to hoping they’ve smoothed out in all the right places.  Still, these guys and Wodensthrone are making an awfully compelling case for an English black metal renaissance.
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So, as you can see, friends, it looks like there’s still plenty to be looking forward to this year.  And that’s just counting the ones that I’m actively looking forward to; who knows how much metallic gold remains to be mined with everything I’m sure I’ve forgotten or overlooked?  Embarrass me with the breadth and exquisite sheen of your “Most Looked Forward To’s”

Oh, and I know I can’t include them here, but Devin Townsend has been hinting that the last two albums of the…quadrilogy (?) will both be released in March.  So, sorry, Ghost and Deconstruction, but I can’t put you on 2010’s list, even though I am milliseconds away from pissing myself with glee as I type.

Plus, I keep hearing random whispers about expecting a new Pig Destroyer one of these days, but nothing definite yet.  I mean, I keep prowling all over the damn yard, looking for something new with which to terrify my phantom limb.

My bones quake with the sickness.

The world is a frightful place, and hope the only salve.  Heavy metal for the common good.

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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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