Showing posts with label doom metal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label doom metal. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

video review: 'divided by darkness' by spirit adrift

So yeah, this was pretty great and pretty much out of nowhere for me - definitely worth a lot of attention, check this out!

Next up... you know, Logic can wait a bit, I've got something else that might be fun after Billboard BREAKDOWN, so stay tuned!

Monday, May 13, 2019

album review: 'divided by darkness' by spirit adrift

So over the past couple months I've seen more than a few heated arguments surrounding the concept of genre and if how in the era of streaming and blurring boundaries whether it even matters. And while I've been a staunch force for arguing that there's still a place for it at least in terms of adequate classifications of certain music, I'm amicable to the idea of subgenres and blurring lines... but if you wanted to come to me and say that genre was always more of a marketing scheme than clear demarcations of sound, I'd be willing to hear that argument.

And to support that argument, you only need to look at heavy metal, a genre that's well-known for fiercely entrenching its lines and barriers... until you take a look at the list of tags tacked onto every Bandcamp release, which are less about defining the sound and more about hitting as many search results as possible. So I'll admit I found it a bit rich when I checked out Spirit Adrift, one-man project of singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Nate Garrett, this time paired with drummer Marcus Bryant, and how in their own marketing they said they were often pigeonholed as doom metal - and then saw 'doom metal' in their tags - but upon reflection, I could see why that connection might have been drawn. While they had faster passages, you could sketch some loose parallels to how Black Sabbath was touching that sound in the late 70s or the very earliest progenitors of the genre in the early 80s - and yet like with Sabbath, I'd argue if you were looking for that sound proper, I wouldn't go to Spirit Adrift. To me their sound was at its best rooted in the hook-driven, more conventionally structured and melodic heavy metal that showed a clear lineage to the past, but brought the chunky, grimy muscle that characterizes a more modern scene and acts like Baroness or Mastodon, and in going back to their first two albums, I heard a lot in which I found really damn promising! So yeah, it's been a while since I've given a proper metal review - what did we get out of Divided By Darkness?

Monday, November 26, 2018

video review: 'cease the day' by in the woods...

So here we go... yeah, kind of disappointing with this one, but it happens, I guess?

Next up, new season of Billboard BREAKDOWN, and hopefully it'll be something interesting in the next week, so stay tuned!

album review: 'cease the day' by in the woods...

So it seems like for the past three or so years I've reached the end of the year to discover I haven't covered as much black metal as I'd like to, and in 2016 I was relatively enthused to discover that the 90s atmospheric black metal group In The Woods... had reformed with a new vocalist and a new album Pure that year. I was a little bit less enthused to discover while listening to the album that Pure wasn't exactly a straightforward black metal album by any stretch. If anything it felt like a bait-and-switch - I remembered the huge melodic swells of Omnio and I had high expectations... only to get a project that was just as melodic, but also way more contemplative, clean, and owing more to both progressive metal and doom metal along the way. And here's the thing: in comparison to a lot of fan response I'd seen, I was a lot more positive on it than most, as I thought the writing put in a lot of heavy lifting and the melodies were as strong as ever - even as somebody who isn't really into doom metal or its offshoots, In The Woods... clicked for me.

So fast forward to now, I still have the feeling I haven't covered enough black metal, and out of nowhere I discovered In The Woods... was putting out another project! Seriously, I put this on the schedule myself, and I was excited for this: from the track listing it seemed more streamlined, reportedly they had increased the tempos and brought back more of the black metal elements with even some death metal touches... yeah, I had every reason to believe this could be great, so what did we get from Cease The Day?

Monday, September 25, 2017

video review: 'hiss spun' by chelsea wolfe

Well, this was haunting... really, the more I listen to this the more it gets under my skin, especially with this subject matter... chilling stuff.

Next up, Billboard BREAKDOWN... and then I have no idea, the next vote on Patreon is bound to be pretty crazy. Stay tuned!

album review: 'hiss spun' by chelsea wolfe

So here's something I don't often talk about when it comes to artists releasing albums in a sequence that shows the sound getting progressively 'bigger'. You might start off small or frail, relying more on haunted atmosphere and fragile tunes, but as you get more of a budget or presence you might be inclined to add more instrumentation, thicken the mix depth, wrench the progressions into weirder or darker or even heavier territory.... and yet unless you're a band like Swans, eventually the excess is going to hit a breaking point and you run the risk of losing the subtleties and power that were your original strengths.

That was honestly one of my biggest concerns going into this new record from Chelsea Wolfe. The haunted gothic folk of her early records was often sparse and bleak but there was something primal and chilling about its ramshackle side that pulled me in, especially her 2011 record Apokalypsis. And while I did have some appreciation for Pain Is Beauty in its fuller, slightly more theatrical sound, I worried that something might end up getting lost... and then Abyss happened two years later. Diving straight into doom metal and noise and thunderously gritty walls of sound, if anything it felt more representative of her themes and style than Pain Is Beauty, but I wondered how she could follow it, especially as her record this year Hiss Spun looked to be doubling down. Granted, getting Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, Happy Fangs drummer Jess Gowrie, a guest appearance from post-metal band Isis' frontman Aaron Turner, and all being producer by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou showed an impressive commitment to going there, so okay, what did Chelsea Wolfe unleash with Hiss Spun?

Monday, November 7, 2016

video review: 'pure' by in the woods...

Took me entirely too long to get to this, but man, definitely glad I did, this thing is a powerhouse... albeit not quite the same powerhouse as our next album on the docket, so stay tuned!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

album review: 'pure' by in the woods...

You know, it's kind of funny, when I was working on my Avenged Sevenfold review and discussing the path towards metal I had taken, I came to the realization that for as much talk as I've put forward about exploring black metal, I really hadn't done as much as I would have liked this year. And that's almost entirely on me: there were a lot of black metal records that dropped this year, and I haven't done my due diligence in covering them. Now to be fair I also haven't gotten many requests for them either - black metal is a niche genre, and the brand of it I tend to like that's more melodic and atmospheric is more niche still - and I'm coming close to putting out more reviews in 2016 than I did last year, so it's not like I haven't been busy...

But still, there have been black metal records I've wanted to cover and haven't yet had time to do so, so let's make up for lost time a bit and discuss one that's been on my radar for some time: In The Woods... Now immediately out of the gate, you have to make some qualifications: when In The Woods... began releasing records in the 90s, they may have started in black metal but they didn't stay there, venturing into progressive metal and blending intricate instrumentals with some impressive melodic song structures and remarkably solid songwriting. I probably hold their sophomore album Omnio as their strongest release, but even though I'm not exactly wild about Strange In Stereo, it was still disheartening when I was rediscovering the band last year and discovering that they hadn't released any full-length records since. Thankfully, In The Woods... actually did reform with new vocalist James Fogerty, and they actually released a full-length record this year. And I really wasn't sure what to expect - progressive metal, black metal, either way the pedigree of this group is strong enough to warrant one hell of a comeback. So, while I'm entirely too late to the punch here, how was Pure?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

video review: 'meliora' by ghost

Well this was goddamn great, thrilled to hear through this.

Next up... actually, not sure yet. Stay tuned!

album review: 'meliora' by ghost

So let's talk about Satanism. I dunno about you guys, but I went to a Catholic school growing up and I remember being fascinated by the sections on the occult near the back of our textbooks - mostly because I did the research and was amused to discover how much early Christianity appropriated from pagan faiths. But Satanism in and of itself, the "worship" of Lucifer, is something altogether different and in modern sects tend to revere Satan as a symbol of individualism more than a distinctive deity. They most often show up in the news not so much as a murderous cult but as countercultural trolls pointing out the hypocrisies in fundamentalist Christianity. And speaking as a Catholic... yeah, I can't disagree with that, given the mutated state of modern evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity, especially in the United States.

But one of the things I always found hilarious in those old Catholic text books were the accusations that besides role-playing games like D&D leading to Satanism, there was also heavy metal music. And here's the thing: with the exception of certain black metal bands, most heavy metal acts especially in the 70s and 80s only utilized Satanic imagery to add a sacrilegious air to their music, more for image and less for message. And given I'm quite secure in my own faith, I've never had an issue listening to music that falls in this vein - it's entertainment, people, I don't exactly take much of this seriously.

So on that note, let's talk about one of the more openly sacrilegious bands, Ghost, formerly known as Ghost B.C. in the States. They're most well-known on tour for their stage presence - all of the members are consider Nameless Ghouls but for the frontman, who dresses like a Satanic Pope, is called the Papa Emeritus, and who is 'replaced' for every album. And if all of this feels a little kitschy, their first album confirmed it, with a defiantly 70s-inspired sound that calls back to Black Sabbath, Pentagram, and maybe a bit of Rainbow or Deep Purple. And since I like a lot of that style of hard rock, their debut album Opus Eponymous in 2010 really did work - not quite as crushing or heavy as most modern metal, but making up for it with potent grooves and some rollicking guitar chops. They got cleaner and heavier on their 2013 album Infestissumam, but simultaneously traded in more potent grooves for cleaner tones and theatrical bombast that only made their satanic lyricism seem goofy as hell - definitely a disappointment. But with buzz suggesting the group was going to get darker and rougher for this next album, I had reason to hope for quality, so how does Meliora turn out?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

video review; 'abyss' by chelsea wolfe

Well, this record took way too long to cover. Brutal album, and a hard one to cover, but glad I did it.

Next up, probably Lindi Ortega. Then Melanie Martinez, Frank Turner, Jess Glynne, and apparently B.o.B. decided to drop an album from out of nowhere, so this could get interesting... stay tuned!

album review: 'abyss' by chelsea wolfe

It's weird, I think I'm simultaneously growing into and growing out of gothic music.

Because like most teenagers who listened to a lot of metal and who later went on to listen to Sisters Of Mercy, Bauhaus, Depeche Mode and The Cure, I've got more than a passing familiarity with the bleak, hollow-eyed chill of most gothic-flavoured art. And while I never really went through an angry white boy phase, I found the appropriation of religious and horror iconography, icy darkness, obsession with death, and provocative sexuality fascinating. 

But as I got older, a lot of the 'glamorous' side of goth culture lost its appeal to me - not entirely, but the more adolescent whinging that focused on brooding darkness for its own sake just got tired, and you should all know by now how I feel about nihilist art that can't innovate on the premise - just kind of gets boring after a while, to be honest. But at the same time, the gothic material that aimed higher, for something more primordial and existential, that added more texture to the tragic stories and added the ugliness of humanity to the mix... ah, now that's a lot more fascinating to me. It's one of the reasons why I've always liked Nick Cave, for instance.

But what about an act like Chelsea Wolfe, an LA singer-songwriter who began her career in lo-fi folk that added sludgy and brittle riffs and drone-saturated soundscapes to create a particularly bleak brand of music that showed up on the haunting The Grime and the Glow and the slightly cleaner but no less creepy and outright excellent album  Apokalypsis. Her 2013 album Pain Is Beauty cleaned things even further, added more strings and operatic instrumentation, and while the improvements in writing, melody, and Swans-esque crescendos definitely stood out and I really do like that album, it also left me wishing more of the grime and edge could return.

As such, you can bet I was looking forward to her next album Abyss, which reportedly was diving deeper into the howling doom metal-inspired nightmare that always lurked around the corner in her music - what did we get?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

video review: 'the oath' by the oath

The streak of metal reviews continues with this, and it's awesome. Some great riff-based metal, definitely worth a look.

You know, I'll think I'll continue this streak with Delain and continue to ignore Emmure's existence. Stay tuned!

album review: 'the oath' by the oath

Let's talk briefly about simplicity in music.

Now I tend to get a lot of... well, let's call it constructive criticism on my pop reviews saying that, 'Man, it's just pop music, it's not trying to be high art, you're too hard on it!'. And while there are points where that has been true, here's my common rebuttal to that statement: good pop music - indeed, good pop art - can require just as much, if not more talent as any other brand of art. Crafting something that has artistic purpose and can appeal to a wider demographic besides yourself, that isn't easy. And on a similar note, creating something compelling from a decidedly simple formula can be just as difficult. Sure, if you can play a couple chords you can probably make a decent pop song from that foundation, but making that foundation special so it can transcend that simplicity is an entirely different challenge.

So when you move into riff-based punk and hard rock, you might notice some of the compositions of the songs are pretty damn simple when it comes to chords and progressions. And yet through delivery, through songwriting, through presentation and production, you can make something entirely unique. But even putting that aside, there's something to be said for purity, refining a simple approach down into something so visceral and effective. I keep bringing up Andrew W.K., but there's a reason why his album I Get Wet is a near-classic in my books: it takes a simplistic approach to composition, lyrics, and delivery, but it uses that simplicity in creating powerful melodic hooks and pumping everything up to larger than life status. It's a perfect fusion of artistic intent and execution, and it's a reason why simple hard-edged, riff-based rock and metal will never go out of style, in that quest to perfect that visceral thrill.

As such, I was really looking forward to the debut album from the German heavy metal act The Oath, who were already building a reputation for monstrously powerful riffing that called back to the classic years of heavy metal. So I bought the album and prepared myself for a glorious trip back to the past. Did I get it?