Posted in Whathaveyou on December 1st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
With their new video, Reykjavic’s Sólstafir end what’s been a pivotal chapter of the band. The Icelandic melancholy specialists gleaned a substantial following behind 2014’s Ótta (review here), and rightly so, touring in North America for the first time as well as of course Europe, Japan, and so on behind material as emotionally vibrant as it was sonically and atmospherically heavy. They’re currently in the process of making the follow-up to Ótta — as of Nov. 29, guitars are done — but their new clip for “Dagmál” is as fitting a goodbye to the prior album as I can think of, capturing the band on stage throughout the year and a half they basically spent on the road.
Like Ótta, Sólstafir‘s next album will be released by Season of Mist, as the PR wire confirms:
SÓLSTAFIR release new video, re-sign with Season of Mist, and record new album
Acclaimed Icelandic rock band SÓLSTAFIR have released a new video for the track “Dagmál”. The video, shot during the band’s extensive touring across Europe is streaming now, here. “Dagmál” appears on the band’s most recent full-length album, ‘Ótta’.
Regarding the video, the band comments: “‘Ótta’ is coming to a close with a third and final video for the song, ‘Dagmál’. The footage for this clip was shot over the course of 18 months of heavy touring. It also features our newest band member Hallgrímur ‘Grimsi’ Hallgrímsson, who started filling in for us behind the drum kit in April 2015.”
The quartet have also signed a new deal with Season of Mist, and begun work on their forthcoming new album.
Regarding the signing, the band comments: “With our previous contract coming to an end, we have had plenty of great offers on the table for which we are grateful. Yet, why should we end a good thing? The entire team works brilliantly together and everyone involved decided that continuing is the logical step moving forward.”
SÓLSTAFIR are now three weeks into the recording their new album. The new full-length will be produced by Birgir Birgirsson (SIGUR RÓS, ALCEST). Jaime Gomez-Arellano (GHOST, PARADISE LOST, ULVER) is also assisting on the new record.
Vocalist and guitarist Adalbjörn “Addi” Tryggvason comments: “We are back here at Sundlaugin for the third time to record our seventh album. We feel right at home and after being locked up in songwriting mode for two months, it is a one of a kind feeling hearing the demos gaining life. We have fourteen songs recorded but at the moment it is too early to tell what will end up on the album. The new album will definitely sound like SÓLSTAFIR and as always, there will be surprises too.”
Gomez-Arellano also comments: “I feel humbled to have the opportunity of working with SÓLSTAFIR. As a fan of the band for many years, I have been trying to work with them before and now it is finally happening. So far it has been a great, creative and positive experience. Working alongside Birgir in his beautiful Studio Sundlaugin has been very productive and fun. I am very excited about the new material.”
The new album is yet to be titled and will be mixed at Arellano’s Orgone Studios in the UK.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 13th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
True story: I was sitting at the kitchen table the other day, across from The Patient Mrs., shooting the shit while we waited for some cauliflower to roast or whatever it was, and as we were listening to Floor‘s 2014 return album, Oblation (review here), I actually said the words, “Golly, I hope they do another record.” That outing is one to which I’ve continually gone back since its release and I’ve found that, in the spirit of its much-lauded self-titled predecessor, it’s only gotten better with time. I dug it when it came out too, as that review made pretty plain, but maybe Floor is a band whose work just needs to be digested for a while before it can be fully appreciated. I’ll be interested to see what I think of it in five years.
But in any case, “Golly, I hope they do another record” sums up my feelings on the matter. No news in that regard here, sadly, but Floor will head out for a Halloween weekender in Florida and Georgia at the end of this month — around Halloween, duh. If I hear of or see other dates abroad posted, I’ll let you know, but you don’t need me to tell that wherever Floor are, if that’s where you are, then that’s where you should be, but I feel like they continue to be undervalued, so I’ll say it anyway.
The stream of Oblation is below if you’d like an excuse to pay it a visit — it’s worth one — and here are Floor‘s live dates, courtesy of the PR wire:
FLOOR announce new tour dates; The Fest appearance
Cult underground rock outfit FLOOR (Steve Brooks (also of TORCHE) – Guitar, Vocals, Anthony Vialon – Guitar, Henry Wilson – drums) have announced new tour dates that lead the band to and from The Fest in Gainesville, FL. The dates, which begin on Oct. 28, see the band playing Orlando, Gainesville, and Athens. More information can be found below.
FLOOR are touring in support of their first new album in over ten years. ‘Oblation.’
FLOOR tour dates Oct. 28 Orlando, FL @ Backbooth Oct. 29 Gainesville, FL @ The Wooly as part of The Fest Oct. 31 Athens, GA @ Preserve
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 13th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Actually hooded and often menacing Finnish death doomers Hooded Menace have signed to Season of Mist. They’ll head Stateside this weekend in order to play California Deathfest in Oakland as the beginning point of a week-long tour down and then back up the West Coast, ending in Vancouver on Oct. 23. Their last album, Darkness Drips Forth, was recorded at Skyhammer Studio and came out on Relapse in 2015, and Season of Mist will issue the next one sometime in the early going of 2017.
As you might imagine, details are pretty sketchy on the new release at this point — no titles, art, release dates, audio, etc. — but the fact that they’ve switched labels and their hitting the US even prior to any announcements of that stuff seems to be significant groundwork on their part to make way for the album’s coming. One doubts it will be their last time over here.
To the PR wire:
HOODED MENACE signs to Season of Mist
Season of Mist are proud to announce the signing of HOODED MENACE. The Finnish death doom prodigies will release their highly anticipated new album on the label next year.
Regarding their signing, HOODED MENACE comment, “We are stoked to join the very diverse roster of Season of Mist. This is a rather logical step onward on our path. New possibilities under new circumstances. We have exciting plans for the next HOODED MENACE album and we are glad we have a strong, forward-thinking label backing us up.”
Founded in 2007, HOODED MENACE are a death doom metal band formed in Joensuu, Finland, by guitarist Lasse Pyykkö. By citing early CANDLEMASS, CATHEDRAL,PARADISE LOST, AUTOPSY, ASPHYX, and WINTER as influences, the Finns successfully blended a compelling take on doom-laden death metal that combined crushing riffs with somber melodies. Their lyrics are often inspired by the classic 1970’s Spanish horror movie series ‘The Blind Dead’ that included such films as ‘Tombs of the Blind Dead’, ‘Return of the Evil Dead’, ‘Horror of the Zombies’, and ‘Night of the Seagulls’.
As an active live band, HOODED MENACE have toured the world over, appearing at many prestigious metal festivals including Hellfest, Roadburn, Maryland Deathfest, Tuska Open air, and Party San Open Air among many others. The band recently toured Europe as a headliner in 2015 and are about to embark on a North American outing with DEMILICH and VASTUM, kicking off their live dates at California Deathfest this month.
HOODED MENACE tour dates: Oct. 16 Oakland, CA @ California Deathfest Oct. 18 San Diego, CA @ The Merrow Oct. 19 Los Angeles, CA @ Complex Oct. 20 San Francisco, CA @ Elbo Room Oct. 21 Portland, OR @ The Raven Oct. 22 Seattle, WA @ Highline Oct. 23 Vancouver, BC @ The Red Room
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
The touring schedule of North Carolinian sludge mainstays Weedeater — who were into this shit before anyone was paying attention and will be around long after everyone else has gone, make no mistake — remains more than respectable. On Oct. 4, they began yet another run through Europe to support their 2015 album, Goliathan (review here), which was their fifth outing overall and first for Season of Mist.
And I don’t know when the last time you saw Weedeater was — you’ll forgive the assumption that you’ve seen them before, but let’s face it, you probably have — but they’re crushing it as always. It’s been a while for me, I’ll admit, but I can only recommend that you Euro-types haul your ass out to one of the gigs if you haven’t yet, because there’s nothing quite like Weedeater on stage to turn your blood into molasses… in a good way.
Dates and info follow, courtesy of the PR wire:
WEEDEATER embark on European tour
Notorious southern metal outfit WEEDEATER have kicked off their previously announced European fall tour. The band will travel through Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, France and more, before concluding at Desertfest in Belgium. Following the Desert Fest appearance, the band will continue through the UK with a headlining run. A full list of confirmed tour dates can be found below.
WEEDEATER are touring in support of their new album Goliathan’. The album is streaming here. ‘Goliathan’ is available across various CD and LP formats at the Season of Mist E-Shop.
‘Goliathan’ once again features album art by Arik Roper (HIGH ON FIRE, SLEEP, THE BLACK CROWES) and will be available across multiple CD and Ltd. Ed. LP formats. WEEDEATER previously re-issued their first four albums, ‘Jason…the Dragon’, ‘Sixteen Tons’, ‘…And Justice for Y’all’, and ‘God Luck and Good Speed”. The long out of print albums are available as vinyl for the first time, as well as a CD and digitally at the Season of Mist E-shop and at Bandcamp.
WEEDEATER TOUR DATES Oct 5 Dresden (DE) Scheune* Oct 7 Wiesbaden (DE) Schlachthof* Oct 8 Hamburg (DE) Hafenklang* Oct 9 Arnhem (NL) Willemeen* Oct 10 Hannover (DE) Cafe Glocksee* Oct 11 Würzburg (DE) Immerhin* Oct 12 Nantes (FR) Scene Michelet* Oct 13 Bordeaux (FR) Le Fridge* Oct 14 Roissy (FR) Pub ADK* Oct 15 Antwerpen (BE) Desertfest* Oct 16 Birmingham (UK) @ The Flapper+ Oct 17 Leeds (UK) @ The Brudenell Social Club+ Oct 18 Glasgow (UK) @ Cathouse+ Oct 19 London (UK) @ Underworld+ *w/ Arabrot + w/ Conjurer
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 9th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
UK rock enigmas Crippled Black Phoenix made their debut on Season of Mist late last year with the New Dark Age EP, and they’ll return a year later with Bronze — another age — as the follow-up full-length. The group, led by multi-instrumentalist Justin Greaves, is currently streaming the track “No Fun,” taken from the album, and its vibe runs a gamut between dark folk, goth, deep-toned heavy and I don’t know, probably six or seven indie bands smarter critics than I will be able to pick up. Joy Division? Probably. It’s always fucking Joy Division. You get the point.
Nov. 4 is the release date. Preorders are up now, for those who don’t like to leave things to chance:
CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX announce new album, stream new track
International dark rock collective CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX have revealed new details, artwork, and the first new track from their forthcoming album. The album, titled ‘Bronze’, will be their first full-length with Season of Mist, and will be released worldwide on November 4. ‘Bronze’ is available for pre-order here now.
CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX are streaming the first new track from ‘Bronze,’ an incredibly dynamic and driving piece titled “No Fun.”
Regarding the brooding track, CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX founder and vocalist comments, ” It is time to give the world a glimpse of our new album with the track ‘No Fun’. This song might raise an eyebrow or two amongst our amazing fans, but then again, CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX have always liked to lay musical traps to lure people into our orbit. ‘No Fun’ is far from giving it all away as regards our new album –and this riff has been on demo since 2004, but only now was given birth. Yet it fits the sound, which is our best yet in my opinion and I am extremely happy with how the new album turned out. Stand by for more, but enjoy having ‘No Fun’ for now.”
Track List: 1. Dead Imperial Bastard 2. Deviant Burials 3. No Fun 4. Rotten Memories 5. Champions Of Disturbance (Pt 1 & 2) 6. Goodbye Then 7. Turn To Stone 8. Scared And Alone 9. Winning A Losing Battle 10. We Are The Darkeners
Founded by multi-instrumentalist Justin Greaves, the inimitable CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX have earned a large cult following on the backs of their extensive catalog.
Line-up Justin Greaves – Electric guitar, drums, saw, keyboard, acoustic guitar, banjo, effects, samples Daniel Änghede – Vocals, electric guitar Mark Furnevall – Synthesizer, keyboards, backing vocals Daisy Chapman – Piano, Vocals Ben Wilsker – Drums Niall Hone – Bass Jonas Stålhammar – Electric guitar Belinda Kordic – Vocals
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 18th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
HARK will head out for a round of dates alongside Black Tusk in the UK starting Nov. 3. The Welsh progressive heavy rock four-piece issued their debut album, Crystalline (review here) in 2014 via Season of Mist, and they’ve been steadily supporting it ever since. They’ve got a slew of shows this month as well, including tomorrow night in Leeds, and they just recently took part in both the Red Sun and Bloodstock festivals, continuing to build their reputation in the UK.
At Bloodstock, they apparently loaned their guitars to no less than Corrosion of Conformity, whose gear was lost in transit, so pretty cool to be able to say, “Yeah, Pepper Keenan and/or Woody Weatherman handled this instrument.” I’ve certainly heard way lamer claims to fame.
The PR wire had this:
HARK announce live dates in the UK
Welsh power HARK have announced a UK tour with BLACK TUSK in November. The trek begins on November 3rd, and follows the band’s ongoing Summer tour. These new dates in London, Norwich, Glasgow, and Bristol. A full list of confirmed tour dates can be found below.
HARK are touring in support of their debut album, ‘Crystalline’. Since the release of their debut, the Welsh heavy rock power-trio have toured the UK and Europe extensively, while the record has received global critical acclaim. Appearing on countless end of year lists, the album has been regarded as a game changer in the heavy/stoner/progressive genre.
HARK Tour dates: Aug. 19 Leeds, UK @ Assembly House Studios Aug. 20 Edinburgh, UK @ Bannermans Aug. 21 Glasgow, UK @ King Tut’s Aug. 26 Bristol,UK @ The Exchange Aug. 27 London, UK @ Boston Music Rooms Nov. 3 London, UK Boston Music Room w/ BLACK TUSK Nov. 4 Norwich, UK The Owl Sanctuary w/ BLACK TUSK Nov. 6 Glasgow, UK Audio w/ BLACK TUSK Nov. 7 Bristol, UK Exchange w/ BLACK TUSK
Jimbob Isaac – Vocals/Guitar Simon Bonwick – Drums Joe Harvatt – Guitar Tom Shortt – Bass
The 1990 Live album by Saint Vitus is a landmark, showcasing the doom legends’ raw power in a still-shockingly pure form. Originally released by Hellhound and reissued by Southern Lord in 2005, it was no less visceral 15 years later, and more than a decade after that, to say it still holds up is to brutally understate the case. Season of Mist will issue a follow-up to Live in the form of the aptly-named Live Vol. 2 on Sept. 23, from which one can stream a premiere of “War is Our Destiny” below right now.
Recorded in 2013, it captures Saint Vitus supporting their 2012 reunion album, Lillie: F-65 (review here), on a European tour with that album’s lineup: vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, guitarist Dave Chandler, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Henry Vasquez. Original vocalist Scott Reagers has since stepped back into the frontman role, and with him, the band will head out with The Skull and Witch Mountain on a US tour just days after Live Vol. 2 comes out.
From the PR wire:
Doom pioneers SAINT VITUS are a heavy metal institution. The forthcoming ‘Live Vol. 2’ captures a dominating, Wino-fronted 2013 Euro festival headline set from the ‘Lillie: F-65’ line-up. The band roars through a set of classics (“War Is Our Destiny”, Born To Late”, “Dying Inside” + ) at maximum volume leaving no doubt that this is prime VITUS. Strictly limited to one-pressing only on CD and LP. In stores on September 23rd.
Track-list 01. War Is Our Destiny 02. Look Behind You 03. Let Them Fall 04. The Bleeding Ground 05. Patra (Petra) 06. The Troll 07. The Waste Of Time 08. White Stallions 09. Thirsty And Miserable 10. Dying Inside 11. Born Too Late
Recording line-up: Dave Chandler: guitar Scott “Wino” Weinrich: vocals Mark Adams: bass Henry Vasquez: drums
Available formats: Digipak CD Gatefold double vinyl Digipak CD with digisleeve bonus CD Triple gatefold vinyl with bonus album
Saint Vitus on tour w/ The Skull & Witch Mountain: Sept. 27 Austin, TX @ Midway Field House Sept. 28 Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Dallas Sept. 29 San Antonio, TX @ The Mix Sept. 30 Shreveport, LA @ Riverside Warehouse Oct. 1 New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jack’s Saloon Oct. 2 Atlanta, GA @ The EARL Oct. 3 Raleigh, NC @ Kings Oct. 5 Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts Oct. 6 Boston, MA @ @Middle East Oct. 7 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus Bar Oct. 8 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop Oct. 9 Indianapolis, IN @ 5th Quarter Lounge Oct. 10 Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s Bar Oct. 11 Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon Oct. 12 St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club Oct. 14 Missoula, MT @ Erosion Festival Oct. 15 Seattle, WA @ El Corazon Oct. 16 Portland, OR @ Star Theater Portland Oct. 18 Sacramento, CA @ Starlite Lounge Oct. 19 Oakland, CA @ Oakland Metro Operahouse Oct. 20 Costa Mesa, CA @ Wayfarer. Oct. 21 Los Angeles, CA @ The Viper Room Oct. 22 San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick Oct. 23 Tucson, AZ @ Southwest Terror Fest
Posted in Reviews on June 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Who’s ready for another round of 10 reviews in The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review? I know I am. We gotta hit 50 by Friday, and there’s still a lot — a lot — of ground to cover. Yesterday was all over the place style-wise and today has some of that going as well, but there’s a lot of quality in both, so hopefully you get to check some of it out. Today is the all important QR Hump Day, wherein we pass the halfway mark on our way to the total 50 reviews. If you’re wondering, it’s Lord Vicar who do the honors this time around at #25. Just kind of worked out that way, but I’ll take it. Down to business.
Quarterly Review #21-30:
Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, Mirrors for Psychic Warfare
Probably fair to call Mirrors for Psychic Warfare an offshoot of Corrections House, since its two members – Scott Kelly (also Neurosis) and Sanford Parker (producer extraordinaire/also Buried at Sea) – are also in that group, but the feel of their Neurot Recordings self-titled debut is substantially different, rawer and at times harsher. Parker handles beats and electronics, creating at times a wash of abrasive noise as in the culmination of “CNN WTZ,” the centerpiece of the five tracks, and elsewhere providing an industrial backdrop for Kelly’s voice for a gothic feel, as on “A Thorn to See.” Unsurprisingly, nothing about Mirrors for Psychic Warfare makes for particularly easy listening – though opener “Oracles Hex” has some commonality with Kelly’s solo work and his voice is resonant as ever – but as they round out the album with “43,” the keys, synth and guitar find some common ground, which leaves distorted shouts from Kelly to do the work of taking listeners to task. We already knew these two worked well together, and the partnership once again bears fruit here.
The four-song Death Thy Lover EP (on Napalm) is the first new studio offering of original material from Swedish doom legends Candlemass since their 2012 album, Psalms for the Dead (review here), marked the end of the tenure of vocalist Robert Lowe, also of Solitude Aeturnus. His replacement is the person who nearly had the job in the first place, Mats Levén (formerly Therion), who has a kind of stateliness to his presence in opener “Death Thy Lover” but suits the plod of “Sleeping Giant” well. Of course, at the center of the band is bassist/songwriter Leif Edling, whose style is unmistakable in these tracks, whether it’s the late-Iommi-style riffing of “Sinister ‘n’ Sweet” or “Death Thy Lover”’s chugging its way toward the hook. Candlemass save the most grueling for last with “The Goose,” as guitarists Mats “Mappe” Björkman and Lars “Lasse” Johansson intertwine a chugging rhythm and extended soloing over dirge-march drums from Jan Lindh to give the short release a darkened instrumental finale.
Talk about scope. Oh, only a country’s entire cultural history is fair game for Skuggsjá, the brainchild of Norwegian artists Ivar Bjørnson (also Enslaved) and Einar Selvik (also Wardruna) that crosses the line between black metal and Norse traditionalism probably better than anyone has ever done it before. A Piece for Mind and Mirror is the studio incarnation of the work the two composers and a host of others did as commissioned for the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution, and though it’s broken into 10 movements for the album, it flows together as one orchestral entirety, the gurgle of Grutle Kjellson (Enslaved) recognizable in the eponymous track amid choral backing and a richly textured blend of traditional folk instruments and metallic thrust. The lyrics are Norwegian, but whether it’s the blowing horn of “Makta Og Vanæra (I All Tid)” or the lush melodies in the march of “Bøn Om Ending – Bøn Om Byrjing,” the sense of pride and the creative accomplishment of A Piece for Mind and Mirror ring through loud and clear.
Two years after making their self-titled debut, Baltimore heavy bluesfuzz trio Black Lung come swaggering back with the spacious vibes of See the Enemy (on Noisolution), which takes the establishing steps the first album laid out and builds on them fluidly and with a clear direction in mind. At eight tracks/45 minutes produced by J. Robbins, the album was clearly structured for vinyl, each half ending with a longer cut, the psych-jamming “Nerve” on side A, which resounds in an ending of scorching guitar from Adam Bufano atop the drums of Elias Schutzman (both of The Flying Eyes), and the closer “8MM,” on which Bufano, Schutzman, guitarist/vocalist Dave Cavalier and Robbins (who also contributes bass) roll out the record’s most massive groove and cap it with an impenetrable wall of noise. While the songs are striking in their cohesion and poise, there are moments where one wants Black Lung to really let loose, as after Trevor Shipley’s keyboard stretch in “Priestess,” but they have other ideas, feeding the title-track directly into “8MM” with no less a firm sense of control than shown earlier. All told, an excellent follow-up that deserves broader consideration among 2016’s finer offerings.
Offered through The Church Within Records as a paean to classic doom, Lord Vicar’s third LP, Gates of Flesh, nonetheless almost can’t help but put its own mark on the style. The Turku, Finland, outfit’s first album in five years, it finds guitarist Kimi Kärki (ex-Reverend Bizarre, Orne, E-Musikgruppe Lux Ohr, etc.), vocalist Chritus (also Goatess, ex-Saint Vitus, Count Raven, etc.), and drummer Gareth Millsted (ex-Centurions Ghost) — who, along with Kärki, also contributed bass after the band parted ways with Jussi Myllykoski and prior to adding Sami Hynninen as a temporary replacement — bold enough to shift into minimalist spaciousness on “A Shadow of Myself,” and really, they’re not through opener “Birth of Wine” before Kärki executes a gorgeous dual-layered solo. Trace those roots back to Trouble if you must, but there’s no question to whom the lurch of centerpiece “Breaking the Circle” or the sorrowful 10-minute closer “Leper, Leper” belongs, and the same holds true for everything that follows, be it the quiet start of “A Woman out of Snow” or the swinging second half of “Accidents.” Lord Vicar enact the doom of ages and take complete ownership of the sound, thus only adding to the canon as they go.
Like the stench of rotting, Dakessian’s The Poisoned Chalice provokes a visceral and physical response. The long-in-the-making debut release from the Portland-based duo of vocalist Kenny Snarzyk (also Fister) and multi-instrumentalist Aaron D.C. Edge (Lumbar, Roareth, so many others) had its music recorded back in 2013, and the vocals were added earlier this year, throat-searing screams and growls that top the noisy, claustrophobically weighted tones from Edge’s guitar. The onslaught is unrelenting, both longer songs like “Demons” and “Ten Double Zero” and shorter cuts “Nothing Forever” and the sample-laced opener “Choose Hate” brim with aggressive misanthropy, the will against. Even the penultimate “Baerial,” which offers a glimmer of melody, continues to crush, and starting with a slow drum progression, closer “Cosmic Dissolution” barely tops two and a half minutes, but it brings thorough reassurance of the project’s destructive force before its final drone rounds out. One never knows with Edge if a given band will ever have a follow-up, but as ever, the quality is consistent. In this case, brutally so.
Actually, if you want to get technical about it, Gypsy Chief Goliath are citizens of Ontario, but you’d never know it from listening to their third album, Citizens of Nowhere, which if you had to pin a geographic locale on it might be more of a fit for New Orleans than Canada. The Pitch Black Records release sees the triple-guitar-plus-harmonica six-piece outfit dug deep in Southern metal grooves, marked out by the burl-bringing vocals of frontman/guitarist Al “The Yeti” Bones, formerly of Mister Bones, Serpents of Secrecy and The Mighty Nimbus and the chug-and-churn of cuts like “Black Samurai” and the shuffle of “We Died for This.” The title-track winds its central riff with thickened-up ‘70s boogie, while “Elephant in the Room” and “The Return” space out a bit more, and the closing Black Sabbath cover “Killing Yourself to Live” (a CD bonus track) plays it loyal structurally while dude’ing up the original like it was on hormone therapy.
Hard-touring Richmond genre-benders Inter Arma are due for a landmark release. Their 2014 single-song EP, The Cavern, was wildly well received and earned every bit of praise it got. Their follow-up to that is Paradise Gallows, their third album and second for Relapse behind 2013’s Sky Burial (track stream here). Is Paradise Gallows that landmark? Hell if I know. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Mikey Allred, who also guests on trombone, bass violin, organ and noise, Inter Arma’s third brings an expansive 70 minutes of bleak progressivism, conceptually and sonically broad enough to be considered brilliant and still weighted enough that the prevailing vibe is extremity in their blend of sludge, doom, black metal, post-metal, atmospherics, and a moody acoustic closer. The only real danger is that it might take listeners time to digest – because it’s a lot to take in, all those twists and turns in “Violent Constellations,” particularly after the plod of the title-track – but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find Inter Arma inhabiting any number of year-end lists for 2016. Once again, they earn it.
Virginian bruisers Helgamite manage to cover a deceptive amount of sonic ground on their second LP, Hypnagogia (on CD through Lost Apparitions with vinyl soon on Flesh Vessel), spending plenty of time in dense-toned sludge metal but using that as a foundation for a wider range of explorations, winding up in blastbeats by the time 13-minute side B finale “The Secret” comes around, but by then having torn through the aggro-thrash of “Origins,” lumbered through the mosher “Æstrosion” and topped off “Shaman’s Veil” with math-metal guitar fits melded to a saxophone arrangement. Growls from vocalist William Breeden and Jonah Butler’s drums tie it all together as guitarist Casey Firkin (also sax) and bassist Matthew Beahm pull off intermittently jazzy runs, but impressively, Helgamite never sound in danger of losing sight of the songs they’re serving, and Hypnogogia is stronger for its unwillingness to waste a second of its runtime, even in the aforementioned “The Secret” or its 10-minute side A counterpart, “Snowdrifter.”
Get it? Children of the Chron? I’ll admit it took me a second. While I was thinking about it, Allston, Massachusetts, duo Mollusk doled out sludge-punk-metal beatings via raw tones and shouts and a general sense of checked-out attitude, “Glacier” reminding of earliest, least-poppy Floor, but cuts like “Demon Queen” and “When You’re Gone” finding guitarist Hank Rose using a purposefully monotone vocal approach that works well over slower parts. Rose is joined in Mollusk by drummer Adam O’Day, and though I’ve already noted that the 11-track album is raw, their sound wants nothing for impact in the low end or any other end for that matter. Rather, the harsher aspects become part of the aesthetic throughout Children of the Chron and the band successfully navigates its own mire without getting lost in either its own “Torture Chamber” or “Zombie Apocalypse,” which like opener “Ride the #9,” is almost certainly a song about life in the Boston area.