Friday Full-Length: Meshuggah, Chaosphere

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Immediately before I started writing this sentence — just now — I clicked through the back end of this site to filter out a couple spam comments. They always throw something random in the text, then link to I don’t even know what because there’s no way I’m clicking to find out. Sometimes it’s like “ur sitez teh best omg how you blog” or whatever. This morning all it said was “where to find neurosurgeon.” I can hardly think of a more appropriate question to lead into a discussion about dissertation writing services in singapore zoo science homework help forces best selling dissertations Meshuggah‘s Custom Admissions Essays custom essay writing services . Writing custom essays online. College and High school essay writing. Custom Essay - just for .95 per page. Chaosphere.

Based in UmeĂĄ, Sweden, and dating back to the thrashy beginnings of the late 1980s, they’re a long-standing flagship band of writing phd research proposal Bp Oil Spill Essay Help loginto how long should a college admission essay be Nuclear Blast Records and unquestionably among the most influential bands of their generation. Their 1991 debut, basics at 100% Best Custom Essay Writing Service. Buying Papers Online of Top quality only Contradictions Collapse — which wound up repackaged with the 1994 EP The Academic Phrasebank is a general resource for Cheap Professional Cv Writing Servicess. It makes explicit the more common phraseological ‘nuts and bolts’ of academic writing. None — led to 1995’s landmark is best check it out Service UK to Buy CourseWork Online at cheap and affordable prices Destroy, Erase, Improve, which in songs like “Soul Burn,” “Suffer in Truth” and “Future Breed Machine” became the skull from which what was later known as “djent” sprang. Not the best descriptor, but a more efficient encapsulation than astoundingly-progressive-and-technically-focused-time-signature-fuckery And yeah, “djent” has been maligned since like every trend that arises in heavy metal eventually is, but that wouldn’t be the case if band’s weren’t doing it. And they were and are.

Brafton’s remain its foundation, even as we’ve expanded into every aspect of content marketing strategy. Combining industry Chaosphere, which followed the 1997 EP Find the best Thesis Paper on our website and get the A for your dissertation! Qualified academic writers for every subject The True Human Design and coincided with the also-’97 release of Buy research proposal,professional term paper writing services. Buy an authentic. Do My Essay,Sociology Homework Help Online.Custom my essay. Sol Niger Within, a debut album from guitarist We are a reputed organization providing college homework help within affordable prices, Try out our Essay Writing Service & dig this here Fredrik Thordendal‘s side-project, Get your personal Birth Control Research Paper writer from reliable custom essay writing service! Price starts at per page! Fredrik Thordendal’s Special Defects, is inarguably pinnacle Writing Professional Biography Yourself - Discover basic tips how to receive a plagiarism free themed term paper from a expert provider Use from our inexpensive Meshuggah. Its largely, willfully amelodic refinement of the crunch, crush and inhuman style that emerged on the prior record makes its 47-minute run breathtakingly intense even more than two decades later. The subtleties of spacious guitar leads and mechanized — industrial, really, without the keyboards — rhythms between How To Write Professional Resume - Why be concerned about the dissertation? Receive the needed guidance on the website Instead of worrying about Thordendal and We offer top quality Phd Thesis How To Write to college, university students. Enter the college of your dream with our application essay writers MĂĄrten Hagström, the punch of bass at the outset of “Neurotica” from PhD in UK by Regent Editing has been recommended by over 545 UK Universities. Enquire Now. Gustaf Hielm, the lifeline of Tomas Haake‘s okay-now-make-it-all-make-sense drums thrown to the listener as though if we just all find the snare pattern it’ll be fine, along with the largely unipolar bark of vocalist Jens Kidman, all work together to bring metal to a place it had never gone on songs like “Concatenation” and “Corridor of Chameleons,” while still somehow staying catchy on “New Millennium Cyanide Christ” and “The Mouth Licking What You’ve Bled.”

It was an album that demanded nothing less than memorization. It tasked the listener in a way that ran counter to the bulk of what was being produced through even bigger underground labels at that point, whether it was the nü-metal and rap-crossover dominating radio and MTV or the death or black metal and stoner rock that began to take shape elsewhere. At the dawn of the age of file-sharing, Meshuggah were a band speaking from a post-apocalyptic future, Meshuggah Chaosphereand even at low volumes their work astounded, but loud, it was like being churned through gears in an old Looney Tunes cartoon, winding your way seemingly at random through the inner workings, springs and chunking pieces of metal of a clock keeping its own time. If you could get your head around it at all, it felt like an win. The sheer severity.

And yet somehow, Chaosphere also seems spare. Neither “The Mouth Licking What You’ve Bled” nor “Sane” and “The Exquisite Machinery of Torture” top four minutes — though they’re all close — and the only reason the runtime hits 47 minutes is because after closer “Elastic” finishes at around six minutes in, there’s five-plus minutes of noise and then the band piles four songs on top of each other for a final four minutes of absolute noise punishment, making the ‘track’ a total of 15 minutes long. But even if you can listen to that unnerving drone — and really, you can, but only if you really feel the need to prove that to yourself — and the appropriate ball of chaos that follows, which is interesting if completely overwhelming, it’s the forcefulness of purpose in the earlier proceedings that so much stands out.

I won’t get into debating Chaosphere versus others in Meshuggah‘s discography either before or after. Destroy, Erase, Improve was a step along the path and crucial in its own right, but its follow-up stands alone among the band’s output, and even aside from the fact that it inspired an entire generation — probably two at this point — to explore more complexity in their own songwriting for better and/or worse as well as a ton of lunkhead mosh parts, its own victory still stands up 22 years later in the cathartic listening experience. From the raging shove of “Concatenation” through the start-stop breakdown late in “New Millennium Cyanide Christ” and the violence that seems to accompany every fitful smash of “Corridor of Chameleons,” it is a masterpiece of its own particular kind of brutality, and the stuff of which legacies — specifically Meshuggah‘s — are rightly made.

They made the most of it, sort of, by touring. A compilation, Rare Trax, would be their next release in 2001, though, and I recall that feeling like a long time. When the band did emerge with new output, it was the 2002 LP Nothing, which would get a subsequent redux in 2006, and the 2004 I EP, a single-song 20-minute track that stands as one of Meshuggah‘s greatest achievements. Along with the 2005 LP Catch Thirty-Three and 2008’s obZen, this stands as the most productive period in the band’s history, with the album Koloss following in 2012 and offering up a few singles but little new to the mix. By contrast, 2016’s The Violent Sleep of Reason found the group recording live and trying to capture a more natural feel counter to popular conception of what they do, and while raw-sounding at times, it was clear their restlessness was leading them to try something else.

Now statesmen of metal some eight or nine records deep into a tenure of 30-plus years, that they’d even bother speaks to the enduring creative and progressive spirit that led to the accomplishment that was and is Chaosphere. It continues to stun and likely will do so into perpetuity.

In the parlance of our times, “current mood:” and “MFW.”

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

6:01AM. I tried to go for a run after finishing the above. Got running clothes on, my new brown Carhartt hat that’s like the one I had in high school — I guess between that and the Meshuggah I’m regressing; maybe I’ll replay Final Fantasy VIII next — and barely made it out of the driveway before my left heel offered a swift correction. Feels like plantar fasciitis, which is familiar enough, but I’ve been having trouble with that ankle of late as well. This is a familiar pattern. I start to work out, hurt myself, stop, “compensate” through negative eating habits, feel like shit, feel like shit, and in the end, feel like shit.

I also haven’t had any form of nut butter in like a month now, because, really, it was getting out of hand, and I don’t know if I’ve lost any weight as a result, but I’ve definitely lost some of my sense of joy in life. So that’s good. Because enjoying things is bad.

I guess that feeling like shit part going to happen one way or the other, then. Maybe I really should break out the PlayStation. Would be something to give now-three-year-old The Pecan his first real 100 hours of screen time watching me get Squall and company up to level 85 and then just wreck everybody. My time-tested method for such things.


The Meshuggah choice, if it needs to be said, was born of frustration with the uncertainty of the American political situation, the presidential election, various dictatorial rantings on the part of the White House — which really should be torn down and replaced by something not built by slaves, just for the optics if not the actual morality of it — and so on. How many times can you refresh the New York Times frontpage in a single day? I’m on a quest to find out. Fuck the electoral college, the senate and other such bastions of American anti-democracy. Chaosphere has been a welcome cathartic burst even if the unspoken companion message there is my own impotency to enact any sort of change to any of it. At least music still sounds good.

Not that Joe Biden is going to fix everything, you understand. Like because he was Obama’s VP structural racism will end and cops will stop killing black people and economic inequality will disappear and we’ll all have healthcare and student loan forgiveness and blah blah blah godless socialist paradise that everyone actually wants but doesn’t happen because CAPITALISM. He’s a mediocre candidate and that was the point behind his getting the nomination — the Democratic party wanted a safe choice to counteract the president’s off-rails consumption of the media sphere, otherwise they wouldn’t have undercut Bernie Sanders as brutally as they did — but how much worse can he possibly make anything? Two days in a row of 100,000-plus new cases of COVID-19, and a dude standing in front of a mic in the press briefing room just lying about shit. Biden’s mediocre but at least he’s human. The president is like Nomad after Kirk tells him he’s not the crea-tor, all spouting nonsense with smoke coming out of his ears and so on.

Well, the kid’s up and looking out his window. He’s been up earlier all week with the time change, though we’re starting to get back on track. He’s also been biting again, and hitting, and kicking. Comes and goes. He bites himself. He bites me. He grabs now, kind of a proto-pinch. Frustrating. Shitty. After a year of occupational therapy, kind of backslid going into preschool. I’m hoping it’s the change in schedule/physical activity. I’m hoping it doesn’t last. I’m hoping he doesn’t bite another kid, though last time he did the kid scratched his face all to hell and I kind of thought that was a win on a lesson-learned level. Apparently not, though it’s not like I’m going to bite him back, as much as I’ve been given that advice in the past.

Everything’s a fight though. The good news is the dog hasn’t really been around to make it worse. She’s been spending days up the road at my sister and mother’s house, where there’s a big fenced-in back yard to run around, other dogs to play with, and a toddler factor of zero. Frankly, it seems like a better existence for her there on every level, and the photos of the dog relaxed and sprawled on their couch snuggling their other dogs that my sister has been sending me all week bear that out. Apparently one of their dogs, Rey, whines now when Omi leaves. Omi was also despondent last time I picked her up. We’ll see how that plays out over time, but I’m not at all opposed to sharing the dog in the interim. My sister’s son, 10, apparently likes her as well. So yeah.

We’re thinking of going to Connecticut today to see The Patient Mrs.’ mother before her place at the beach closes for the season so the pipes don’t freeze. It’s always kind of stressful with The Pecan, since there’s no real “proofing” that small space for him, but we might just suck it up and go. We’re up that way tomorrow anyhow for great-grandma’s 90-somethingth birthday. Outside. Maybe masks? I don’t know. We’re all in the pod anyway.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Next week is packed. Today is Bandcamp Friday. No Gimme show, but I’ll be kicking around a few recommendations on Facebook for how to spend your money, if you feel like keeping an eye out. If you don’t, I get that too. Times are tough. My Facebook likes thing is broken (you have to click to the post from the frontpage, then look at the bottom one to see how many likes there are; I have no idea why and I can’t seem to fix it). So it goes. Make sure to hydrate.


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Paradise Lost Live Stream Airs Today

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 5th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

UK gothic death-doom forebears Paradise Lost are hosting a special streaming event later today in support of their new album, Obsidian (review here). I can’t help but wonder if the band knew then what they know now about how this year would play out of they’d have released it at all, but it’s out there now, and it’s good enough that it’s damn near a tragedy they’re not able to tour it on some 18-month cycle across various continents. But like everyone, they’re working with what they’ve got.

Some day, live music will return. Will it be the same? I doubt it. But as streams have become a go-to gap-filler for so many bands, I don’t think streaming is going away. What I’d love is for pay-per-view videos like this to become part of the pastiche of record promotion. A thing bands do, to do along with live shows, recording, touring, interviews, etc. One way or the other, there’s a lot that needs to shake out culturally before we get there.

And while I’m thinking of it, fuck Boris Johnson too.

The stream info from the PR wire:

paradise lost

Remember remember the 5th of November with PARADISE LOST!

Following on from the release of their new album ‘Obsidian’ in May, British gothic metal legends PARADISE LOST have announced a special live streaming performance and alternative to Bonfire Night on November 5th.

Vocalist Nick Holmes comments,
“Greetings, I hope everyone is well! Just a quick few words to thank everyone for the ongoing great response to our latest album, ‘Obsidian’, and to announce that as there are still no stages for us to play on, we have decided to perform live from our rehearsal studio at ‘The Mill’ In Bradford, West Yorkshire. The stream is due to be aired on 5th November at 20:00 GMT via We sincerely hope you can all join us in a brief respite from these dark days! Thank you, Nick”

This one time live event will feature a regular set from the band alongside a VIP option, which includes three extra songs plus a pre-recorded interview with the band. The regular set will include the world premiere of 2 new songs from Obsidian, and the VIP set will feature 3. Besides the live stream experience at 12:00 PM PT/3:00PM ET, the band ‘replays’ the performance for their fans in the US at 6:00 PM PT/9:00 PM ET. You can either purchase for the European viewing, the US viewing or buy a ticket to both.

Tickets are on sale now via StageIT on October 20th via

Paradise Lost, Obsidian (2020)

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Stream Review: Enslaved, Utgard – The Journey Within

Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan


One day ahead of its release date — which is today for those of you not confined in a temporal loop — Enslaved‘s 15th full-length, Utgard (review here), received an airing as the final installment of what was billed as the Norwegian progressive black metallers’ ‘Cinematic Summer Tour.’ Such as it was — and it was more “cinematic” than it was “tour,” of course owing to circumstances outside the band’s control — the tour consisted of three filmed shows. A fan-picked setlist titled ‘Chronicles of the Northbound’ (review here) was streamed at the end of July. A set playing 2003’s Below the Lights in full followed, and finally, the album to which it all was leading, Utgard, got its due. Sort of.

As new album celebrations go, Utgard – The Journey Within was somewhat brief. The press info for the stream used the language, “they’ll be performing several tracks [from Utgard] for the first time ever,” so I wasn’t necessarily expecting them to play the entire record front to back, though that might’ve been feasible, time-wise; it’s 44 minutes long and the whole stream here ended up being 45. But the performance itself, which true to the others was impeccably directed and shot — foggy at the start, but dramatic with a hooded and spoken intro and professional lights, sound and editing; very much a concert film, complete with title cards before each song — ran about 23 minutes and featured just four songs in “Jettegryta,” “Homebound,” “Urjotun” and “Flight of Thought and Memory.”

enslaved 2

Look. I ain’t complaining. The stuff sounded great. I think I liked the balance of the mix in “Homebound” between the keys and guitars even better than on the album, and I got a new appreciation for how much bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson actually sings clean on “Jettegryta” alongside keyboardist HĂĄkon Vinje, never mind Vinje, Kjellson and drummer Iver Sandøy coming together to all sing on “Flight of Thought and Memory.” The krautrock aspects of “Urjotun” came through all the more in the “live” setting, and with the LP fresh in mind, I felt fortunate to be as close as that to actually experiencing the material on stage. And it was free. Bands out there are charging fans far more and delivering far less.

They did justice to what they played, but album opener “Fires in the Dark,” “Sequence,” “Storms of Utgard” and the rousing finale “Distant Seasons” felt missing — especially the opener and the closer. Even if the band hadn’t wanted to delve further into the atmospheric parts of “Fires in the Dark” or the spoken LP-centerpiece “Utgardr,” there was plenty more to work from. Maybe they didn’t want to give everything away ahead of the actual release. Maybe between the pandemic and the sundry other manifestations of chaos this brutal year has wrought the band hasn’t even had the opportunity to get the other songs ready for the stage. Certainly possible. Maybe they figured by the third streaming show everyone would be tired of them? I don’t know.

Iver Sandøy

But either way, Enslaved have 15 records, so it’s not like they couldn’t have filled out the set if they chose to do so. As it was, they wrapped up playing and the camera followed as they adjourned upstairs for some conversation (in Norwegian) and cake and champagne to celebrate the release. Kjellson, Vinje, Sandøy, guitarists Ivar Bjørnson and Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal all shook hands and tossed back some wine, and then the camera cut to Bjørnson on his own, who revealed the band were planning something for the winter solstice — Dec. 20 — and thanked everyone for their support. After that, they capped with encore airings of “The Crossing” from the Below the Lights stream and “Fenris” from 1994’s Frost as played in ‘Chronicles of the Northbound.’

Welcome enough, if a little anticlimactic despite the news-drop that they’ve got something else in the works. It was hard not to come away from ‘Utgard – The Journey Within’ wanting more, and now that I say that outright, perhaps that was the idea all along. Less of a celebration of the release than a teaser, maybe. Highlighting the tracks that have been released as singles — “Jettegryta,” “Homebound” and “Urjotun” all have videos out (posted here) — and giving just a glimpse of a deeper dive into the album with “Flight of Thought and Memory.” If that’s what they were going for, then fair enough. One way or the other, it’s hard not to long for the day Enslaved can be experienced live again in a concert setting — 2021? 2022? ever? — and the vital force of their stage presence and command of their creativity was reaffirmed. Was it ever in doubt? Nope, but like I said, I ain’t complaining.

enslaved handshakes

I watched this with my son, The Pecan, who turns three next month. He knows “quiet songs” and “loud songs” and generally prefers the latter when we’re driving, and he’s interested in seeing guitars and drums on tv and whatnot. My wife, The Patient Mrs., was teaching a college class in other room, working remotely. I changed a poopy diaper during “Urjotun” and he played with trucks for a while as he will these days when blowing off what used to be afternoon naptime. The point of telling you this? It goes to the running theme of life-reorganization that one has found without the actual going-to-a-show ritual.

Perhaps the crucial insight that there’s a big difference between putting something on the television and entering a venue to see a band live isn’t particularly deep, but if anything, the advent of streaming shows like this and the multitudes now happening from around the world demonstrate how important to the core of people’s being creativity is and needs to be. If you’re passionate about something, you find a way. It’s not easy, and always ideal, and sometimes it doesn’t turn out to be what you thought it was going to be when you started. Welcome to existence. But you find a way. This is the way for now. Fine.

Enslaved are participating in a follow-up Q&A session at 2PM Eastern today on their YouTube channel, linked below. Utgard is available now on Nuclear Blast.

Thanks for reading.

Enslaved, ‘Utagard – The Journey Within’ limited-time stream

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Album Review: Enslaved, Utgard

Posted in Reviews on September 29th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

enslaved utgard

Few bands last. Fewer still last while maintaining their commitment to creative progression, and Bergen, Norway’s Enslaved have pushed themselves forward once again with Utgard in broad-reaching and exciting ways. The album is their sixth to be delivered through Nuclear Blast, and as the band approach their 30th anniversary in 2021, they seem to enter an entirely new era of their sound, more boldly engaging with the krautrock and prog influences they’ve touted for years and bringing them into their long-established extreme metal context.

The founding duo of bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson and guitarist/sometimes backing vocalist Ivar Bjørnson, along with Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal, who joined in 2002, have set the band on a trajectory over the course of their career, and Utgard — which runs nine songs and 44 minutes, making it the shortest full-length they’ve put out since 1998’s Blodhemn — is a fitting next step along their path. At the same time, from the choral vocals that start opener “Fires in the Dark” and running through the additional percussion in “Jettegryta,” the almost poppy melody in the hook of “Sequence” offset delightfully by Kjellson‘s rasp, the darkened space rock thrust of “Homebound” and the galloping culmination to which it leads, on and on across the clearly-delineated two sides of the LP, Utgard also sees Enslaved more committed to embodying “progressive black metal” as an ideal than they would ever have seemed to be, and it toys with the balance between the progressive and the charred with grace and an electrifying sense of creativity.

On 2017’s E (review here), the group introduced keyboardist HĂĄkon Vinje, and in taking up the clean-vocal role formerly occupied by Herbrand Larsen, Vinje soared. He does so again throughout Utgard, but Enslaved have made another pivotal change in personnel, bidding farewell to drummer Cato Bekkevold after 15 years and bringing aboard Iver Sandøy, who also adds clean vocals to complement those of Vinje. Sandøy — who has worked with Ivar Bjørnson in other projects like his Skuggsjá collaboration with Einar Selvik — is also a noted producer in Bergen and has engineered on Enslaved albums going back a decade to 2010’s Axioma Ethica Odini (review here), but again, by bringing him into the band as well as having him helm the recording, it is one more way in which Enslaved are adjusting the balance of what they do in order to discover new breadth in their aesthetic.

As the “new guys,” Vinje and Sandøy make formidable contributions to Utgard‘s songs, and from the lushness in the momentary atmospheric break of “Sequence” and the harmonies that follow to the unabashed kraut-ness of the electronica fusion at the outset of side B’s “Urjotun,” they are crucial in Enslaved‘s success across the record’s span.

It is worth underscoring that, even with the shifts in lineup that recent years have brought, and with the movement toward prog in their sound, Utgard is still very much an Enslaved record. Kjellson stakes his claim to the forefront early following the Viking chants at the outset of “Fires in the Dark” — one imagines them playing that song in open air to stirring effect to begin a set at the 2020 Fire in the Mountains festival in Wyoming, which Bjørnson was to have curated — and themes of heritage, mythology, and even the symbolism of the crow in Truls Espedal‘s cover art feel like a part of the longer narrative the band has been conveying at some level for nearly the last 20 years.


What Utgard shows, however, is just how vast the idea of being “an Enslaved record” can be nearly 30 years into the band’s career. The droning, spoken-word semi-title-track “Utgardr” carries an experimental feel that builds into “Urjotun” and reminds of Bjørnson‘s Bardspec project, and just two songs later, the furious double-kick and harsh vocals in the verse of “Flight of Thought and Memory” offer one of Utgard‘s most pummeling moments. That’s soon offset by Vinje‘s extended chorus, but the point and the contrast holds true, and even as they move toward that highlight cut’s crescendo, they do so with exacting propulsion, leading to a quieter finish and silence ahead of “Storms of Utgard” and the finale “Distant Seasons,” the former marked out by its straight-ahead structural approach as well as its tambourine and the latter something of a hidden gem that seals the band’s ultimate triumph in a mere four and a half minutes.

“Distant Seasons” finishes not so much summarizing Enslaved‘s achievements across the preceding tracks, but using them as a preface to go even further into a wash of melody and thereby leave their listenership with the clear message that the journey — that undertaken by the band and joined by the audience — isn’t over yet. And indeed, it might not be. The ideal Enslaved are chasing on Utgard is not a static target. It is an evolving notion of creativity, and as much as these songs are able to do in setting themselves as a landmark, “Distant Seasons” leaves one assured that Enslaved have yet more exploring to do.

The advent of Vinje in the band was a significant distinguishing factor of E from recent predecessors like 2015’s In Times (review here) and 2012’s Riitiir (review here), as he bolstered the tenets of their sound and helped bring new ideas to the fore. Sandøy, as a drummer, backing vocalist and presence in the production, would seem to have no less of an effect throughout Utgard, and as a result, continue to sound refreshed. It would be hyperbole to say they come across like a new band — because, come on, it’s their 15th record; also one wouldn’t want to belittle either their experience as songwriters or the overarching nature of their progression — but as resonant and masterful as Utgard is, it’s also brimming with possibilities for how the new ideas it presents might flourish in works to come.

Few bands last. Fewer still last while growing. Almost nobody can look back on 30 years of breaking ground and still leave a listener with the notion that the best may be yet to come. Enslaved have been around long enough that their audience can pick and choose favorite albums from along the way, but Utgard is a singular accomplishment, and thinking of the band as a life’s work for Kjellson and Bjørnson, all the more worthy of that designation. Recommended.

Enslaved, “Urjotun” official video

Enslaved, “Jettegryta” official video

Enslaved, “Homebound” official video

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My Dying Bride to Release Macabre Cabaret EP Nov. 20; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

By way of a bit of a mishap, the original promo version of My Dying Bride‘s 2020 album, The Ghost of Orion (review here), that went out not-cool-enough-to-get-it-when-the-print-mags-do press such as myself contained three extra tracks, and those three, “Macabre Cabaret,” “A Secret Kiss” and “A Purse of Gold and Stars,” happen to be the three songs now listed on the forthcoming Macabre Cabaret EP. As someone who’s heard them, I’ll say there’s no real dip in quality from the album. The songs shift arrangements, but the record was just too long with everything on there and they (whether it was band or label) were right to hold some of it back for a release such as this.

And not that My Dying Bride were about to hit the road for an 18-month touring cycle anyway, but in a year with virtually no touring — also the advent of “virtual touring,” just ask Nuclear Blast labelmates Enslaved — a roughly concurrent outing makes sense to keep momentum from the full-length going as year-end whatnot begins to be considered.

The cover below is for the single “A Secret Kiss,” which you can hear in the lyric video below. For what it’s worth, I have no idea what the “hidden gem” might be on the physical editions that the PR wire discusses. Live track, maybe? Another holdover? Acoustic version? The possibilities are as limitless as My Dying Bride‘s own melancholy.

Info follows:

my dying bride a secret kiss



No rest for one of Britain’s most melancholic exports: Just half a year after MY DYING BRIDE returned from their break with their haunting and successful (German Album Charts #12) masterpiece “The Ghost Of Orion”, the kindred of Yorkshire raise the curtains to the “Macabre Cabaret” – their new MLP that will be released on November 20th via Nuclear Blast.

The new EP of the band offers three new songs (plus a hidden gem on the physical editions) – dark luscious Death Doom ear candies that will dive their victim into a sensual world of darkness and temptation and conceal the borders between sweet pain and destructive illusion.

Order “Macabre Cabaret” here:

Singer Aaron Stainthorpe states:
“’Macabre Cabaret’ delves into the shadow empire of dark love and the consequences of unchecked sexuality. The deep passion of physical desire and its all-conquering rage over pure love is written bleakly here. A destructive essence within the soul can’t help but rear its ugly head.

‘A Secret Kiss’ is the final and lasting mark on the soul any human will feel when the lights have dulled and nothing meaningful remains for them. All religion features a shadow creature who arrives at the point of extinction and the release of the human soul, to either guide them to majesty or allow them do fall eternally into the ether.

‘A Purse of Gold and Stars’ is where we keep our hopes and desires and affection, perhaps in a dreamlike state, unattainable yet we still reach out for them. The trinkets and shiny baubles we call happiness and love are what we try so hard to keep close and protect. But it is never quite like that in real life and is often a struggle tainted with sadness but still, we hold the purse close and in tight cold hands.”

The EP was produced mixed and mastered by maestro Mark Mynett and crowned with a beautiful and sinister artwork from Bunker Artworks.

It comes as:
– Jewelcase CD, digital version
– Black Gatefold LP, Black And Blue Splatter LP [US exclusive – limited to 300 p.]
– Blue Sparkle LP [Mailorder Exclusive – limited to 300 p.]
– White and Grey Splatter [Mailorder and Wholesale Exclusive – limited to 300 p.]
– Marigold LP [EMP Exclusive – limited to 300 p]
– White LP [US – Revolver Magazine Exclusive – limited to 300 p].

My Dying Bride, “A Secret Kiss” lyric video

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Enslaved Change Date for Utgard – The Journey Within Streaming Event

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 18th, 2020 by JJ Koczan


I’m listening to the new Enslaved album for the first time as I write this and they’re barely three minutes into it before they reaffirm both the brutality and the progressivism at heart on their sound. Seriously, I’m on track one and they sound like they wilfully constructed the lineup to bring the most out of this material. I’m impatient to hear more even as I’m hearing it.

The band has rescheduled the final date of their virtual tour to Oct. 1, the day before the album comes out on Nuclear Blast. Fair enough. They’ll play songs from the record to herald its arrival. Whatever dudes, just take my money.

Check out the preview video with bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson and the prominently displayed vinyl of the second Lennon-Claypool Delirium album. That record ruled.

From the PR wire:





Enslaved are preparing for the final act of their Cinematic Summer Tour – now due to take place on Thursday 1st of October at 7pm BST / 8pm CEST. This virtual release event ‘Utgard – The Journey Within’ is named after their upcoming studio album Utgard (out on the 2nd of October), from which they’ll be performing several tracks for the first time ever.

The show is a collaboration with respected DinkelsbĂĽhl, Germany metal festival Summer Breeze who have been long-time friends and supporters of the band. The performance will be presented by Louder alongside their sister sites Prog and Metal Hammer, who will also be hosting an exclusive Facebook Q&A with the band the following day also at 7pm BST / 8pm CEST – the day Utgard is revealed to the world.

Enslaved launched an exclusive merchandise range to accompany the Cinematic Summer Tour, with designs viewable below inc. more information. To give everyone the chance to be part of this completely novum in music, all three shows will be free of charge, however Enslaved have launched a donation link if fans wish to make a contribution towards the costs of putting the shows on.
Donation link:

Purchase exclusive Cinematic Summer Tour merch here:
US store / EU store

For this forward-thinking concept, ENSLAVED joined forces with three festivals, to present fans with three different shows:

July 30th – in cooperation with Roadburn, the tour launched with a “Chronicles Of The Northbound” show.
August 20th – this second show was a “Below The Lights” set, presented by Beyond The Gates festival.
October 1st – the band will end their virtual tour at Summer Breeze festival with a presentation of some new songs, for their release event “Utgard – The Journey Within“. Presented by Louder.

Enslaved is:
Ivar Bjørnson – guitar
Grutle Kjellson – vocals/bass
Ice Dale – guitar
HĂĄkon Vinje – keys/vocals
Iver Sandøy – drums

Enslaved, Utgard virtual release preview

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Friday Full-Length: Candlemass, Candlemass

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 4th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Candlemass, Candlemass (2005)

As they’ve done so much in the 15 years since to add to it, it’s almost strange to consider that by the time Candlemass got back together and released their declarative self-titled full-length in 2005, the band’s legacy had already been so long established and, in some ways, squandered. The band had broken up following 1999’s From the 13th Sun, and by then, the Stockholm-based mainstays seemed to have been floundering for some time. Their first four albums were and are largely untouchable. Essential documents of doom, all, from the still-influential 1986 debut, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, to the holy trilogy of LPs fronted by Messiah Marcolin in 1987’s Nightfall (discussed here), 1988’s Ancient Dreams (discussed here) and 1989’s Tales of Creation. Issued in a new alliance with Nuclear Blast Records, Candlemass‘ Candlemass was intended as a fourth installment in that grand lineage of Marcolin-fronted albums.

Founded by bassist Leif Edling and fueled as ever by his songcraft, the band had basked in Sabbathian tradition of seeing vocalists come and go, including Thomas Vikström on 1992’s Chapter VI and Björn Flodkvist on 1998’s Dactylis Glomerata and the aforementioned once-swansong From the 13th Sun. The trio of instrumentalists in guitarists Mats “Mappe” Björkman and Lars “Lasse” Johansson and drummer Jan Lindh had been in the band until a breakup circa 1994, and in addition to pushing outside the range of epic doom for which Candlemass had become known, Edling experimented with other lineups and other players during those years, which built off the work he did in the post-Candlemass project, Abstrakt Algebra, whose lone, self-titled album came out in 1995.

Okay. So it’s a complicated history with Candlemass. Established. Fine. Perhaps it’s best, then, to look at the self-titled not just as a declaration of purpose, but as a complete reorganization of mission for the band. Reformed with Edling, Marcolin, Björkman, Johansson and Lindh, signed to a new label with a nine-song/55-minute (more if you got the version with the bonus track “Mars and Volcanoes”), Candlemass entered a new era with this record and it’s one that has in some ways defined their course over the 15 years since. The strong launch given to the outing in “Black Dwarf” and the likewise catchy “Seven Silver Keys” — on which Edling seems to anticipate riffs Tony Iommi would come up with himself a few years later for Heaven and Hell — soars with righteousness, and the band as a whole are and Marcolin in particular is in top form.

“Assassin of the Light” is quintessential, powerful doom metal, with a highlight solo from Johansson and a modern take on the kind of grandiosity for which the original Marcolin era was known. Building toward the candlemass self titledseven-minute “Copernicus,” this initial salvo sets the tone for everything to follow throughout Candlemass, whether it’s the instrumental “The Man Who Fell From the Sky,” the nod-chugger “Witches” — if you can find me a better opening lyric for a doom song than “Someone stole the starlight from the backside of your hand,” I’d love to know what it is — or the head-scratcher “Born in a Tank,” which goes back and forth between talking about being buried alive in dirt and born in a tank of water in some kind of weird sci-fi scenario that boasts the line, “Buried alive like a dog,” leading one inevitably to wonder just who the hell it is burying dogs alive and why is no one stopping them from doing this awful thing? It’s a great riff and an energetic kick after the hypnotic chugging finish of “Witches,” but someone please call animal control and tell them what’s going on and see if we can put a stop to the horror.

In hindsight, the band might’ve been better off swapping “Born in a Tank” with “Mars and Volcanoes,” which as noted, ended up a bonus track on the limited-edition version of the CD. The two songs share a speedier tempo, but one suspects it was that riff that ultimately made the choice. So be it. The album proper finishes with the pairing of “Spellbreaker” (7:02) and “The Day and the Night” (8:53), a last push that answers the reach of “Copernicus” back at the end of side A and goes that much further into the classic-doom feel that Candlemass helped define in the first place, a pair of stops in “Spellbreaker” reminiscent of “Mirror, Mirror” from Ancient Dreams and the quiet unfolding of “The Day and the Night” leading to a massive concluding march worthy not only of finishing the record and emphasizing the titular duality, but fading while still in progress, Marcolin repeating the line, “I’m lost in the dark,” on his way out as if to enact being actually swallowed up by a great nothingness of silence. Doom. A masterclass therein.

This era of Candlemass, somewhat sadly, didn’t last. The band split with Marcolin ahead of 2007’s King of the Grey Islands — one recalls Edling at the time calling him “crazy” — and wound up recruiting Texas’ Robert Lowe, best known for his work in Solitude Aeturnus and currently back with his prior outfit, Tyrant. Lowe completed his own trilogy of albums in that one, 2009’s Death Magic Doom (review here) and 2012’s Psalms for the Dead (review here) as well as a smattering of EPs and singles, before likewise parting ways with Edling and company. Mats LevĂ©n, who already had years of performing alongside Edling to his credit and who had completed demos for King of the Grey Islands before Lowe joined, took up the role and performed ably on EPs in 2016 and 2018, but as Johan Längquist — who sang on Epicus Doomicus Metallicus in 1986 but was never actually a member of the band — joined on for 2019’s The Door to Doom (review here) in a landmark return, the group again switched directions. And considering they were nominated for a Grammy for the track “Astorolus – The Great Octopus,” which featured a guest solo from Tony Iommi himself — touched by the hand of god, it was — it’s safe to say the change worked out in the band’s favor.

Earlier this year, Candlemass released the EP The Pendulum (discussed here) and likely would’ve hit a number of festivals and tour dates, etc., were it not for the global pandemic. A live stream in July (review here) helped keep their palpable forward momentum going and demonstrated the utter vitality of their approach all the more resonant some 35 years on from their first demo tapes, and I won’t profess to know what’ll come next for them, but it’s worth looking back at their accomplishments of the last decade and a half and noting that this self-titled was the point at which they restarted and firmly stated who they were and what their intentions were as a group. They’ve only lived up to that since.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

A little bit after 6AM. Sun’s not quite up yet. Went for a run in between the top part of this post and this. About 1.3 miles, same course through the neighborhood I do basically every other day — though I usually give myself one bye a week to account for timing, feeling crappy, being busy as I was yesterday, kid or dog being up early, and so on. There’s a big hill just up the road that is satisfying to climb at a jog. I’ve been doing so long enough where I can get to the top without dragging my feet and that feels good. I also have a stretch where I run on the balls of my feet and a stretch where I high-step a little bit and a sprint to finish. It’s a whole thing. I stretch before and after, work on breathing, try not to be crazy about it. Try try try. All you can do.

The left side of my groin has been tight for like two months. Stretch stretch stretch. Trying to live by the Ichiro Suzuki model. Dude stretched every other second of his career. That shit matters as you get older.

Two cool-looking objects in the sky besides the moon despite the beginning-to-dawn day. I assume one was Jupiter or Mars, that’s closer to the moon, and the other has to be Venus. It’s practically punching you in the face with yellow. Star-viewing around here isn’t the best because of light pollution, but I’ll take what I can get. I’ve seen some nice sunrises too.

The Pecan was coming with me for a while. We were going later — after he got up, obviously. But he kind of decided he didn’t want to do it anymore and I didn’t really feel like making him and myself miserable. I ask him every now and again if he wants to go. I asked yesterday before we took him to daycare if he wanted to go for a run, reminded him of some of his favorite landmarks, and it basically took the entire morning off the rails. He’s starting hitting again, and he bites himself when he’s frustrated. He still hits and kicks the dog with every available opportunity. I guess that’s just what life is now. Kid’s rainboot being brought down heel-first on the dog’s head in the back seat of the car. Wham.

He blew off nap yesterday as well, so I took him to his favorite sandbox to basically kill time letting him play. He wanted to go on the swings and wouldn’t accept “in a little bit” so ran up to where I was sitting and slapped me in the face. I picked him up and we left, him literally kicking and screaming as I put him back in his car seat. It was substantially less than fun.

The week was like that. Ups and downs.

They buried my father I think on Wednesday. In Pennsylvania, a national cemetery because he was in the Air Force. They put Vietnam on his memorial but he never went. My sister called to correct and they took basically my position, which was “whatever who cares he’s dead,” but fine. That’s done.

We’re going to the zoo today with The Patient Mrs.’ mother, sister, and her sister’s two kids, all of whom are lovely. It’s the kind of thing one might look forward to in a normal year. Zoos, if you didn’t know, are immoral as shit. To think that we, as a species, stand around and pretend some lion is fucking happy walking back and forth in a pen for its entire life when it should be out there chasing down zebras and giraffes and the occasional human out on the savanna? You gotta be kidding me. But you know what? I got a kid, and that kid wants to see an elephant, and I know elephants are intelligent, thinking, feeling creatures, but fuck it, there it is. Rainboot on the dog’s head. The choices we make. I don’t expect history to be kind to us. I do expect the future to be blind to its own failings.

Speaking of, anyone outright terrified of the presidential election yet? Did Trump declare victory yet? It’s kind of astounding to think I might actually be alive to witness the downfall of American democracy to some half-assed Putin wannabe who used social media to sublimate an entire political party to his every will. And a global pandemic! Wow. If I didn’t have to then live with the ramifications of it — I don’t know, maybe a cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and even more cops killing Black people while millions are out of work aching for a resurgent Civil War? — it would be a fascinating science experiment. To the rest of the world, hi from the test tube. Guard your votes, kids.

The Pecan’s up, which is fair enough as it’s after 6:30 now. He’s reading books (such as he does), but I should probably go grab him. Two quick things:

1. New Gimme show today. 5PM Eastern. Please listen. I promise it’s good.

2. Next week is PACKED. Doubled up most days. Lot of good stuff as we move into Fall, so keep an eye out.

Meantime, great and safe weekend. See you at the zoo, though I probably won’t recognize you because of the mask. Ha.

Much love.


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Enslaved Post “Urjotun” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 1st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

enslaved urjotun

It does not take Enslaved all that long to upend decades of listener expectation with the latest single from the upcoming Utgard LP, which is set to release on Oct. 2. That’s one month from tomorrow, and as we move into the period of time whereby it begins to cause me physical pain that I’ve not yet heard the album in its entirety, “Urjotun” does precious little to quell the yearning. The Norwegian progressive black metallers wholeheartedly embrace their krautrock side in the four-minute track — even before reading the press release below, my first thought when I heard the initial keyboard line was “Kraftwerk” — and with lyrics about the cosmic birth of gods, it’s a fittingly weirded-out and somehow-grand backdrop for what plays through.

You’ll note in the image above that the crow that has featured in other recent Enslaved videos “Homebound” (posted here) and “Jettegryta” (posted here) — as well as on the cover of Utgard itself — makes an appearance, and “Urjotun” is further enhanced by the artwork of one Kim Holm, with whom it has been my absolute pleasure to work in the past at Roadburn in the Netherlands. Dude is maddeningly talented and his art fits smoothly the atmosphere of this track. I may have missed posting it before, but I wanted to make sure to put the tracklisting for Utgard here as well, because now that there are three songs out from the record — the band will also play it live in a streamed show on Sept. 30 — it’s a little more possible to get a sense of the shape of the whole release. I’m intensely curious as to what “Urjotun” leads to in “Flight of Thought and Memory” and “Storms of Utgard,” but then, I’m intensely curious pretty much as to the entire album.

Clip follows here, along with preorder links and more info from the PR wire.


Enslaved, “Urjotun” official video

From the new ENSLAVED album ‘UTGARD’, out on October 2nd: Subscribe to Nuclear Blast YouTube: / Subscribe to Enslaved YouTube:

Norway’s premier progressive black metallers Enslaved have today released third single ‘Urjotun’ from their upcoming studio album Utgard – out October 2nd via Nuclear Blast. The single, one of their most experimental yet, is accompanied by a psychedelic video detailing dark visions and a journey to the outer reaches of the subconscious.

Vocalist Grutle Kjellson commented:
“The lyrical idea for Urjotun had been spinning around in the chaos in the back of my head for quite a while, when Ivar sent me the riff-demo last autumn. I knew instantly that this was it, the very soundtrack of the rise of the primeval giant, the Urjotun! Our mutual love and fascination for that early krautrock scene and for bands like Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk, finally fully ascended in an Enslaved song, almost 30 years after we picked up those legendary kraut-albums. It’s funny, that in Germany they referred to this kind of music as “Kosmische Musik”, cosmic music! And, that is exactly what this song is about; cosmic chaos. On top of this, director David Hall, made a perfect projection and visualization of our troubled minds”

Produced and Directed by David Hall
Illustrations by Den Unge Herr Holm
Actor: Kelsey Watkinson

Utgard tracklisting:
1. Fires In The Dark
2. Jettegryta
3. Sequence
4. Homebound
5. Utgardr
6. Urjotun
7. Flight Of Thought And Memory
8. Storms Of Utgard
9. Distant Seasons

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