Where to Start: Post-Metal

Posted in Where to Start on October 20th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

At this point, the subgenre’s trend level has crested and most of what the specific style of music has to offer has likely been explored, but although it gets the ol’ eye-roll “not this again” treatment these days, it’s worth remembering that post-metal has produced some great, landmark albums, and that the bands who came after had solid reasoning behind being influenced as they were.

Blending post-rock elements with heavier, often crushing guitar work, the classification post-metal is as amorphous as any genre term. I’ve heard everyone from High on Fire to Ulver referred to under its umbrella, but I want to be clear that when I talk about post-metal, I’m thinking of what’s also commonly called “metalgaze,” the specific branch of metal heavily inspired by the bands below.

I wanted to do this Where to Start post not just for those looking to expose themselves to the genre, but also in case anyone who maybe is tired of hearing bands that sound like this has forgotten how killer these records were. Here’s my starting five essential post-metal albums, ordered by year of release:

1. Godflesh, Godflesh (1988): I saw the album art on hoodies for years before I knew what it was. 1989′s Streetcleaner was better received critically at the time for its industrial leanings, but Justin Broadrick‘s first outing after leaving Napalm Death has grown over time to be the more influential album. At just 30 minutes long in its original form (subsequent reissues would add bonus material), it’s a pivotal moment in understanding modern post-metal that predates most of the genre’s major contributions by over a decade.

2. Neurosis, A Sun That Never Sets (2001): Take a listen to A Sun That Never Sets closer “Stones from the Sky,” then go put on just about any post-metal record, and you’ll see many of them trying to capture the same feel and progression — if not just blatantly transposing that riff onto their own material. Say what you want about Neurosis‘ earlier material, I think if everyone was honest about it, it would be A Sun That Never Sets mentioned even more. An awful lot of the modern wave of post-metal bands formed in 2001 and 2002, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

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Made Out of Babies Vocalist Julie Christmas: Solo Album Coming this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 25th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Of all the “oh man, that’s a bummer” musical dissolutions, the quick one that befell Battle of Mice after their first (and only) album, A Day of Nights, was especially pointed. I’ve always dug Made Out of Babies in a middling kind of way, but vocalist Julie Christmas‘ performance on that Battle of Mice record was landmark. Just fantastic. One can only hope she puts the same fervor into her first solo album, which is due out this Fall. Ever illuminating, the PR wire informs thusly on that and other Christmas‘ other projects:

Brooklyn‘s Julie Christmas has been mysteriously under the radar as of late. But far from disappearing, the emerging singer/songwriter has been busier than ever. Christmas is scheduled to release her first solo record, The Bad Wife, this fall. More details about the album are forthcoming, but “July 31st,” a song from the pending release, is featured on the soundtrack for Paramount film, Wrong Turn at Tahoe, starring Harvey Keitel and Cuba Gooding, Jr. A video to promote the album is in production.

“I use sounds to express feelings and ideas that I am too clumsy to get across with words alone,” explains Christmas. “Working with amazing visual artists — people who speak in images — gets me one step closer to really communicating with anyone nuts enough to listen.”

Currently, Christmas is also collaborating with Nix Turner, renowned illustrator of worldwide counterculture icon, Emily the Strange, to create a book titled The Scribbles and Scrapes of Amy Anyone: A Multiple Personality Autobiography. Christmas wrote the story and is working on music for the release of an accompanying CD, which features a tone signaling the reader to turn the page.

In addition, the singer recently worked on the soundtrack for a French indie film Le Debut, in which a young couple resorts to infanticide when faced with the challenges of poverty, depression and parenthood. Christmas’s band, Made Out of Babies, is currently writing their fourth full-length album, scheduled to be released in the Spring of 2011. Live shows and exhibitions with visual artists are being arranged.

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