Deafheaven // “Sunbather”
These days Deafheaven seem to be everywhere leading up to the release of their sophomore album Sunbather. The experimental black metal duo are no longer one of the scene’s best kept secrets and it seems that everyone is keen to stick their finger in the pie. And for good reason, with their shoegazing amalgamation they are one of the most exciting black metal bands around. The best part is that they seem to be tapping into something bigger with their audience. For old fans the anticipation is at an all-time high, and beyond that people who typically don’t mess around with black metal are finding something compelling in the music.
It’s pretty obvious that the band is making strides towards a wider accessibility, but fortunately for them it doesn’t come at the cost of edge or credibility. The album’s first single “Dreamhouse” pulled listeners in with its beautiful and melodic shoegazing guitar work. Now the band has taken a slight step back into their bleak world of noise to release the album’s title track “Sunbather”. Not pulling any punches, the track seeks to club those curious new listeners over the head and drag them back its cave. It’s a ten-minute onslaught of blast beats, a brick wall of guitar distortion, and animalistic screams that builds towards an almost transcendent climax. After hearing these two excellent tracks I’m pretty much frothing at the mouth for this album. Seriously, just give it to me now.
Sunbather is out on June 11 through Deathwish Inc.
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Wreck and Reference // “Abhorrence”
To be a metal band yet forego the use of guitars (or any stringed instrument for that matter) sounds crazy. And that is exactly what California experimental metal duo Wreck and Reference is: crazy. There is no shortage of creativity flowing out of the metal scene these days, but Wreck and Reference push experimentation to its extremes. These two guys are not afraid to think outside the box and it makes them one of the most exciting bands on the scene today.
I’ve been championing these guys since they sent me their debut Black Cassette over two years ago. That album showed a lot of promise but it was nothing compared to their first real authoritative statement,
YOUTH (No Youth) released last year. For such a young band still carving out their niche in the metal universe, YOUTH was a bold statement that caused shockwaves in the scene (well, depending on where your ears were tuned). Really that album was and still is mindblowing. Now the guys are back with a new 7” titled CONTENT (yeah, you got it. No Content) out soon on Flenser Records, a label which is quickly becoming a go-to spot for rich and unique metal.
Right out of the gate the guys scored a video premiere on NPR and several weeks later, a track premiere on Stereogum. Those are no small potatoes for a band that was virtually unknown just a couple of years ago. In true form these new tracks follow suit with more genre-bending and classification-resisting metal. Any harder-edged genre is fair game and the guys mix it in such an organic way. Black metal, doom, industrial, noise, drone. It’s all thrown into the pot and the result is bleak as it absolutely delicious. I don’t think I’ll ever stop geeking out over just how good these guys are. I can’t really help myself. They just make it so damn easy.
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Title: GOD OV WOLVES
Artist: Old Witch
Old Witch // Come Mourning Come
All it takes is one look at the band name and cover artwork and you pretty much know right off the bat what sort of music you’ll be getting. But in case you need a little help, Old Witch play music that is bleak, cold, and oppressively dark. More specifically they play an organic combination of doom, black metal, and ambient drone. The drone elements are few and far between, so if you are looking for something to space out to you might want to look elsewhere.
The darkness of this six-track album is calculated and heartless, but it’s also an album that is extremely powerful and, more often than not, gorgeously rendered. The doom metal riffs move at a glacial pace, flattening anything in their path while the black metal-leaning vocals provide a raspy, tortured narration over top them. And all the while the evil spills out over everything like a sticky black oil. And yet for all of their darkness and macabre, Old Witch know that the ears can only swallow so much. It’s in these moments that they pull the mask back and reveal the beauty of the artist at work. The instrumental interludes are gorgeously crafted with a heavy emphasis on thick atmosphere. It’s a combination that completely works and it makes for an exhilarating release that turns out to be one of the better doom metal efforts I’ve heard this year.
Head to their Bandcamp page and grab this album for free while it lasts.
(via Forever Cursed)
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Rorcal // Világvége
When I think of Switzerland I think of neutrality. Well, I used to anyway. Swiss metal band Rorcal is doing their best to change all that. The band blends elements of doom and black metal (and sometimes drone) to create the perfect storm of bleakness. They know where they stand, they don’t mince words, and they are dark dark dark. Almost oppressively so. So don’t be fooled by the soft artwork, this stuff will leave you in stitches.
Apparently these guys have been at it for around seven years and it shows in the musicianship and songwriting. Their latest album Világvége is a solid piece of metal, refined in the fires of hell, and allowed to roam free on the Earth claiming victims at will. It’s a brutal exercise in controlled chaos that knows when to fire on all thrusters and when to put the cruise control on (that’s where the drone element comes in). It’s an extremely punishing album so making it all the way through in one sitting will be difficult for most, but for those who like their music raw and unbridled it’s a breath of fresh air.
The album is seeing a release through a myriad of labels and mediums. Look to Calofror Records, Sick Man Getting Sick Records, Wolves and Vibrancy Records, and Lost Pilgrim Records if you wanna get your hands on a copy. The digital album is up for free download right here, so don’t hesitate to grab it. Over and out.
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Botanist // IV: Mandragora
People who say that there’s nothing new under the sun clearly haven’t heard of the Botanist. The one-man black metal project not only turns the genre on its head, but also sounds like nothing else I’ve heard before. Sure he acknowledges the confines of the black metal genre, but his approach is fascinating. First and foremost he foregoes the use of guitars and instead uses a hammered dulcimer. This gives the music an otherworldly quality, like it’s chiming from another dimension or something. The percussion admittedly lays a bit flat, but that only give the dulcimer all the more room to be on display. Finally the vocals sound downright inhuman. Imagine something in between the typical tortured black metal screaming and (for any Doctor Who fans who might be reading) the Daleks, which also fits in with the Botanist’s similar disdain for the human race. The album also carries the themes of the mythology surrounding both the Mandragora and the Mandrake root (as pictured on the album’s beautiful cover). There is a lot to take in with this project and it’s not all laying right on the surface, so dig in.
PS - I love being on The Flenser’s email list because the San Francisco label is releasing some of the most interesting and truly unique metal out there. IV: Mandragora is available now from their online store.
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Ash Borer // “Oblivion’s Spring”
Last month American Black Metal outfit Ash Borer announced an upcoming 12” entitled Bloodlands. They didn’t give a release date, which might be a little frustrating for those who like to plot that sort of thing on a calendar, but today they did give a taste of the release in the form of the 15-minute track “Oblivion’s Spring.” You might wanna strap yourselves in for this one. It’s a punisher.
Ushering the track with some light yet creepy guitar work, the band establishes a sinister mood right off the bat. It’s a compelling musical theme that bookends the track and is more or less carried throughout its entirety. The band then drops the hammer down with a whirlwind of doom-encrusted guitars, pummeling blast beats, and gut-wrenching vocals. Switching things up with tempo shifts, theme repetition, and intense intermediate brutality, Ash Borer has proven once again with “Oblivion’s Spring” that they are one of America’s premier black metal bands. Highly recommended.
(via Invisible Oranges)
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Lusitania // Third Cassette
Christian Filardo likes to keep things interesting over at Holy Page with the sort of content that he pushes out (anyone remember that African gospel album he released?). And after experimenting with darker genres of music on his album Habit, it comes as no surprise that Christian has chosen to release Third Cassette by Arizona black metal band Lusitania.
Third Cassette is a combination and official release of the band’s first demo tapes. And rather than cleaning up and experimenting with the black metal sound, the band keeps things rather simple and looks to genre founders like Mayhem and Darkthrone for inspiration (barring corpse paint, maybe). Now be forewarned, this is extremely harsh music with gritty, lo-fi production. It’s a loud and jarring cacophony of noise that, in Christian’s opinion, should be played as loud as possible. Buy one of the cassettes here and get dark.
Title: The Mind; It's Form and Function
Artist: Loss Of Self
Loss of Self // Demo 2012
I saw this demo from Melbourne-based metal band Loss of Self mentioned on Forever Cursed but for whatever reason failed to pay attention. Then earlier this week I saw it mentioned again by San Fran-based metal label The Flenser (Wreck and Reference, Bosse-de-Nage) but this time I took the demo a little more seriously. And it’s a good thing I did too, because though it’s only three short tracks, it’s a really interesting release. Let me tell you why.
Fusing together aspects of black metal and post-punk, Loss of Self has spit out a nifty little demo here. Sticking to the lo-fi, home-recorded roots of the black metal genre, these guys strut their stuff with your standard tortured vocals and blast beats. But instead of just lifelessly going through the motions of the genre, they stretch themselves by incorporating elements of post-punk music. Rather than employing a usual wall of sound created by furious tremolo picking, the guitar work here is almost melodic and catchy with heaps of crunching distortion. It’s a combo that while not necessarily inspired is still one that works and has me amped for what the band’s next movie might be (a larger release for The Flenser? who knows).
Oh, and while you’re checking out the demo (which you can download for free), do yourself a favor and peep the artwork of band member Jacob O. Rolfe. PS, he designed that naked, stretchy-faced cover image.
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Title: Hoarse From The Get Go
Cowards // Shooting Blanks & Pills
I have been reading nothing but glowing reviews of Cowards’ debut album Shooting Blanks & Pills, so I finally decided to check it out. Turns out that it’s a good thing I did because the album is up for free download only this month. If you’re the least bit curious I’d recommend grabbing it before it’s no longer there.
Having done time in numerous other bands, these Parisian dudes have done their homework and it shows in the confidence and brutality of this album. That being said, this is the first black metal album that I’ve heard this year that has made me really sit up and salivate. Incorporating elements of doom and blackened hardcore, Shooting Blanks & Pills will suck the breath right out of your lungs. It opens up with a track humorously titled “Hoarse from the Get Go” that sets the stage for the rest of the album. It’s a furious blast of metal that thrashes about like a wild animal complete with thick crunching guitars, primal vox, and drum fills that are absolutely ridiculous. If you, like me, were on the lookout for proof that black metal can still melt faces in 2012, then look no further than Shooting Blanks & Pills. It’s out later this month on Throatruiner Records.
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Good Amount // Habit
Christian Michael Filardo is prolific as he is endlessly creative. Awhile back he threw out a request for some doom and black metal recommendations on Facebook. Amidst a sea of responses I managed to tuck my own recommendations in there because I knew that Christian was most likely up to something. Well, it turns out that that hunch was right on the money. For the past few weeks Christian has been hard at work constructing a new Good Amount album inspired by all that metal he’s been pumping through his system (think Mount Eerie’s Wind’s Poem). The result is Habit, a work of crushing beauty and relentless dark.
Aligning it with doom metal conventions the album is two tracks with a runtime of over 40 minutes. It’s a beast, no doubt, and one that requires patience and concentration of the listener. And although the album is inspired by black metal, you’re not bound to find any tremolo picking or blast beats here. You see, Habit is very much a tone project (and a very dark one at that). What you will find are Good Amount’s signature synths, his penchant for vocal experimentation, and some pretty heavy guitar distortion that pretty much permeates the entire release. It’s an album with a bleak atmosphere, shrouded in mystery, helmed by a young man eager to try something new.
Habit is out on cassette May 26th via Snorin’ Desert Records. Stream it in its entirety below:
Bosse-de-Nage // “The Arborist”
Continuing right where their album ii left off, San Francisco metal outfit Bosse-de-Nage continue to resist classification with their latest track “The Arborist.” The track no doubt shows traces of black metal, doom, post-rock and even noise but the sum is so much more than the parts here.
What I love most about the band is how visceral and in your face they feel. The production is such that the music feels like it is lodged somewhere in between your ears. The guitars shred and the vocals are brutal, but the real reason to pay attention to this track is the drum work. The blast beats are furious and continue from almost beginning to end and there are some absolutely ridiculous fills in the interlude that had my arms flailing uncontrollably to my air drum kit. You best believe I’ll be looking forward to their upcoming album iii. It’s out June 26 on Profound Lore Records.
Wreck and Reference // No Youth
It was well over a year ago when I first featured California metal band Wreck and Reference. Their debut release Black Cassette was a great initial step and while I certainly loved it, I could see it as potential groundwork for something much greater down the line. With the band’s newest album No Youth they capitalize on 100% of that potential and craft an album that is as intense as it is relentlessly dark. It has routinely blown my mind since the band sent it my way a few days ago.
Having been a fan of these guys since the beginning, I can’t even begin to tell you how thrilled I am to witness them put together an album so expertly crafted. The greatest thing that I can say about No Youth is that with it Wreck and Reference have truly carved out a niche for themselves that is all their own. In funneling numerous genres down into a pool of noise, traces of doom and black metal, spoken word, industrial, drone and ambient noise all get swept up in the oncoming flood. All that is left to do is let the inky, black waters of not only one of the most exciting and versatile metal albums this year but one of the best albums period wash over you.
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Anniversary // Dear Failing,
This Virginia blackened hardcore duo sent me their debut EP after seeing the post I did on Unsacred. Not only are they from the same local scene but they have friendly ties. And like Unsacred, the dudes in Anniversary try their best to cull several genres together to make something new. After exchanging a few friendly emails with vocalist Orion Lopez, I feel like I totally understand what they’re going for and I’m all for it.
Basically the band started out of the idea that if the kind of music that you want to hear isn’t being produced, then go ahead and make it yourself. And so Anniversary came out of growing weary of a limp local scene. The band is still in its infancy and so the tracks on Dear Failing, are understandably a bit rough, but they are also very charming. The band pulls from not only black but also death metal. And thanks to Converge (one of their biggest inspirations), the band also smells a bit of metalcore here and there. The ending result is five surprisingly dense, dark as night tracks from a young band looking to break out in their local scene.
The band is looking to put the EP out on limited cassette on April 25th, but you can also download it for free on their bandcamp page.
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HELLO WORLD! So I decided to throw this post together for a number of reasons. First of all, I love metal (and other harder-edged music) and I’ve been trying to sneak it into my post queue here or there in an attempt to brainwash my readers into liking it too (even though some have violently protested). And second, I figured that I would occasionally cull a bunch of releases into one mega post and ironically title it “I Hate Metal.” That way any of those who wish to remain untainted can know exactly what they are getting into when they see and can skip over it. Hopefully this will be a recurring feature. I don’t know how often it’ll pop up, but it could be cool so we’ll see. Let’s start things off with a bang, shall we?
PREGNANCY SCARES // 2011 Demo
I know, I know. If you’re listening to this then you are definitely think that this is hardcore not metal. Yeah, whatever it’s frickin brutal and I’m including it. I actually found Pregnancy Scares by reading up on Motivator (one of the best hardcore bands on the scene today). Bands like these are ruling the Ottowa skate punk scene and they absolutely shred. Pregnancy Scares show no restraint as they assault your senses like two giant metallic shards gnashing their way through your ears. The demo tape came out last year, but I just stumbled upon it this week and I’m totally in love with it. You can actually download the whole thing from the band’s Tumblr site and I highly recommend it.
CONGENITAL DEATH // Demo
Here is a band that will probably leave your ears bleeding if you don’t shut it off after the first few seconds. They are called Congenital Death and they hail from (wait for it) Philadelphia. Now I don’t even know how old the vocalist is, but judging from the primal, blood-curdling screams I don’t really care. Their demo tape sounds a bit messy and on-the-spot, but that’s where the charm lies. At eight tracks long and only around 10-12 minutes, this thing is like a gunshot to the head, it’s over before you know it. Oh and they also manage to squeeze a Dirty Rotten Imbeciles cover in there. You can still buy the tape for like $4 from Philadelphia’s own Ranch Records.
CEMETERY // Demo
Here is one that I am so stoked on. The band is called Cemetery and they play some of the gnarliest goth punk I’ve heard in a while. Hailing from Chicago, the band plays some tight and reverential death rock. People have been comparing them a lot to early Christian Death and I can totally see that. So if the fact that this kind of music is still being made makes you geek out then definitely look into Cemetery. I’m still scouring the internet looking for somewhere where I can buy this thing, so if anyone happens upon a way make sure you give me a shout. And word is that their working on an album so at least we’ve got that to look forward to.
OBOLUS // Lament
Ah, now we arrive at the straight up metal. This one actually just came out this month and is available for free for a short period of time via Flenser Records. The label is getting ready to release this thing on vinyl and will pull the free download so don’t hesitate to grab it. Obolus plays some pretty bipolar black metal. There are times when it seems like their intent is to peel the flesh from your bones with their blistering guitars, crushing drums, and primal screaming. But then there are other times when the band plays the most beautiful ambient instrumentals you’ll hear from a black metal crew. It’s an excellent release that you should snatch up while you have the chance.
ROYAL TALONS // Royal Talons
If you guys only knew how merciful I was by playing you those one-minute hardcore punk tracks. Now comes the doom metal. With each of their tracks clocking in at around 10 minutes, Royal Talons self-titled album can be a chore to swallow. However, if you devote the time to it you will see expansive worlds created before you. Vast kingdoms ruled by controlling dictators intent on showing you the most stunning beauty whether you want to behold it or not. I actually found this thing through Grindcore Karaoke, a digital label with a huge catalog that I don’t pillage nearly enough. So if you’ve got some time to kill I’d suggest poking around their releases. Some good stuff in there.