Withering Light / Barghest – Split (self-released, 18 October 2014)
I had alluded to this at least once before, but isn’t it interesting how black metal seems to be the only genre that has been indelibly associated with a specific climate and time of year? This art form that had its roots in the thrash and death metal of the early 80s, got twisted into something more harsh and unforgiving by bands in such disparate locales as England and Brazil — but really was given the unique characteristics we associate with it today, when it had again been transformed in the hands of a bunch of Norwegians in the early 90s. Ever since then, thinking about black metal almost invariably conjures images of a “land of ice and snow”: some of the areas that have developed pockets of practitioners within the genre have included Norway and Sweden, the American Pacific northwest and midwest, Canada, New York and New England — and Louisiana.
No, you didn’t read that wrong. Today we’re discussing a pair of bands who are based in a state that is well-known for having hurricanes and Mardi Gras celebrations; Cajun and Creole culture and some of the biggest sludge metal bands in the world; and of course, for inventing Tabasco sauce. But one thing nobody associates with Louisiana is frigid, wintry weather. Nevertheless, these bands both manage to produce a convincingly bleak, black atmosphere, imbued with plenty of interesting twists like you’d expect to hear from many of their counterparts from further north: Barghest (Baton Rouge) and Withering Light (Hammond).
It had been rumored and speculated about ever since the band first announced that they were reuniting several years ago, but early last month it became 100% official: for the second time in less than a year, one of my favorite bands ever will be releasing a new album for the first time since I was in high school. Of course this is exciting news (that, until about five or six years ago, I would never have guessed would ever be happening again), and — with some amount of trepidation — I’m really trying to be optimistic about it. But that’s not what I’m here to tell you about.
By this point, I’m assuming any of you who would care at all about this band’s upcoming seventh album have already seen most of the information currently available — and probably even listened to one of the two pre-released singles that have come out so far. So I’m not really intending (or expecting) to inform anybody here. Instead, I’d like to take this opportunity to share an anecdotal description of my own discovery of the band, dating back multiple decades; perhaps to offer a little bit of insight into myself as a writer and a fan. I don’t know whether anyone will actually care about any of this, but considering how influential this was in my formative music-listening years, I felt like I ought to take the time to write it.
Cold Blue Mountain – Cold Blue Mountain (Gogmagogical Records/Vulture Print, 19 April 2013)
Cold Blue Mountain – Old Blood (Halo of Flies, 07 October 2014)
Well, it finally happened. I mean, sure, it was inevitable, but still. In my email right at this moment, I’ve got my first promo copy of an album scheduled for a January 2015 release. So that’s a clear sign — in case the incessant marching past of the days on the calendar (into November now!) wasn’t enough of a clue — that this year is drawing swiftly to a close.
Almost three weeks ago, incidentally, this website hit another anniversary: we’re now entering year #4. I guess that’s kind of cool, but at the same time, that means I’ve been accumulating various music that has caught my attention and that I feel is worth sharing with you folks, from 2011 to the present. Starting to receive material for next year just means that now I’ll have stuff from five different years to write about. Yikes.
The highest priority for me, right now, is knocking out the rest of the reviews from my best of 2013 list, while also trying to stay on top of some of the current year’s best releases — so that I’m not quite so far behind when it comes time to put together the 2014 list. Today I’m going to address both of those concerns, as I write about northern California’s Cold Blue Mountain: their self-titled debut effort ranked in the top half of last year’s best albums (in my opinion), while the follow-up from last month, Old Blood, is definitely among the better records I’ve heard so far this year. Both are available now, and either one comes highly, highly recommended.
Brujas del Sol – Moonliner (Devouter Records, 15 April 2013)
Distraction. Diversion. An escape. A feeling of catharsis. These are things we all need from time to time, regardless of whether we find the relief through alcohol or drugs or bath products. For me personally, and I suspect for a lot of you out there, I find the best way to shut out the rest of the world and temporarily forget about my issues is to put on a pair of headphones and get swept away by some music.
I started putting together this article about Columbus, Ohio’s Brujas del Sol and their album Moonliner last week, and have been trying to work on it for several days, but… well, shit happens. Work is extra busy sometimes, government agencies do everything they can to avoid helping you when you call them about problems you’re having (especially when those problems are their fault), you know. That old chestnut. But naturally, you haven’t come here to read about any of that, so I’ll just skip ahead to the good part. An excellent album (definitely one of my favorites from last year) that truly lends itself to getting lost in…
Forest of Tygers – Bruises (29 April 2014, Primitive Violence [cassette] / Acteon [CD/digital])
Hey there, ladies and gentlemen (and whomever else might be lurking out there reading this). Welcome to a new month! It’s strange: this week is almost over already, and I still feel like I’m trying to recover from last weekend. It was packed full of running around — for example, to the hospital to visit our cousin’s newborn triplets, and to a friend’s wedding — and a few late nights, between the wedding and my band playing our first show in over seven months(!) which was pretty cool. But yeah, just trying to get back into the swing of things — not to mention now we’ll need to be preparing for our next show, which as I mentioned last week would be on October 10th when Black Tar Prophet, the sludgy, noisy duo from Nashville, come to town.
Well. Today I’ve got a treat for you, because we’re going to talk about another great two-piece band: Forest of Tygers, which consists of guitarist Jim Valosik and drummer Rachel Valosik. Just like their fellow Nashvillains BTP, FOT have also put out a new release back in the spring of this year, the Bruises EP. Although just four tracks long, this debut is crushing, and just the right amount of nasty, and serves as an excellent introduction to this husband-and-wife team.
Hey, people. It’s time once again to take a little stroll back in time — all the way to last year. I am determined to finish reviewing everything on my top albums of 2013 list before the end of 2014, and with this one I’m publishing today, I’ll officially reach the halfway point! No worries, there are still over three months for me to work through the rest of these (while still somehow trying to keep up with newer stuff, too). Oh well, I’ll get there eventually (hopefully). It just gets kind of frustrating sometimes, especially when bands keep putting out newer stuff faster than I can keep up with them — as is the case with UK atmospheric/progressive black metal band Fen (not to be confused with the Canadian prog-rock band of the same name). They’ve just announced that their fourth LP Carrion Skies will be coming out this November through Code666, which is exciting news for sure, but first I need to share their awesome THIRD album Dustwalker with you!
I publicized some of the details about this album when they were first announced, nearly two years ago, and I have been really enjoying listening to it ever since it was released (about three months after that). I’d say it’s about time I got around to following up and writing about the album itself!