Monuments Collapse / Bréag Naofa – Split LP (Halo of Flies / Shove Records, 17 December 2013)
Good afternoon. On one hand, I’m pleased to note that this week is about halfway over. And on the other hand, it feels as though three or four weeks should have passed since Monday. I am so ready to be done working. I feel like if I don’t find something else to focus my attention and energy on for a little while, I’m seriously going to lose my shit here. And honestly, I don’t know if there’s anything that would fit the bill better than blasting some music through my headphones to drown out everything else (both externally and internally). I think it’s about time to take another dip into the pool of my favorite releases from last year.
You’ll want to pay attention to this — because what I’ve got for you today is the sort of release that too-often gets lost in the shuffle: a split record put out by a not-exactly-huge label (Wisconsin’s Halo of Flies for worldwide distribution, and Italian Shove Records in Europe), involving two not-that-widely-known bands (Monuments Collapse from San Francisco and Bréag Naofa from Seattle) who each had previously put out a self-titled album (each of which had a limited release of a few hundred copies, through smaller independent labels); and to make matters worse it was released in late December when most music publications and websites have already wrapped up their coverage for the year, compiled their year-end lists, and have already started looking ahead to the upcoming spring releases.
But I always try to be on the lookout for gems like this that might otherwise have fallen through the cracks, and then we pass the savings on to you. Or however that saying goes. Anyway, stay tuned for some great post-apocalyptic post-sludge-doom from a pair of west-coast bands you’ll likely want to get better acquainted with.
Mortals – Cursed to See the Future (Relapse Records, 08 July 2014)
I don’t know who wrote the official band bio for Brooklynite trio Mortals (the one that accompanies their press kit and also appears on their record label’s website), but I don’t think I really understand what it’s trying to say. It starts off by contrasting this band with the way most other bands come together:
Many heavy bands follow a straight line — they start a band with some people they know, they pick a well-worn genre, they write riffs and drum beats that sound pretty similar to all the other riffs and drum beats that have been written. That isn’t Mortals.
…but then it goes on to explain how the three members met when they were involved with various other bands (for example, two of them were in a Slayer cover band together, two of them were in a math-rock band together) and eventually the three of them found they had enough common interests that they decided to form a new band; chemistry developed and gradually they found themselves evolving into their own style. Which, in essence, sounds like a variant of the history behind almost every band I know. So that’s got me feeling slightly confused.
But anyway, none of that really matters. What the band sounds like is far more important than any written description, when it comes to me picking what I want to write about and share with you, and the music should be able to speak for itself. And here it certainly does. It also helps that I’ve been watching for news from this band over the past couple of years — on the advice of Meat Mead Metal (whom you should absolutely familiarize yourself with immediately if you aren’t already a regular reader, because not only is this without a doubt the best music journalism you’ll find here in Pittsburgh, but this guy churns out high-quality writing with a consistency that could rival just about anyone else out there!), who has had plenty of good things to say about Mortals on several occasions (like here, for example). About a year after that particular article was written, the band had signed a deal with Relapse Records, and today marks their first release with that label, the full-length Cursed to See the Future.
Sunwølf – Beholden to Nothing and No One (30 June 2014)
Hello out there, and Happy Monday everyone! My original plan was for this review to be published last Friday, but that was the 4th of July, aka Independence Day, which is the American holiday commemorating the time when some folks who lived here decided to send a letter to England saying they wanted to get a divorce. And I realized that it would be very un-patriotic of me to finish writing this on that date. Not because it’s about a British band, but because it would have involved actually doing something productive on a day off from work. In this country, we take our leisure time very seriously. But now it’s Monday and time to jump right back in. So here’s Beholden to Nothing and No One, a massive 80+ minute collection of post-metal/ambient music (spanning two CDs) by Leodensian band Sunwølf.
Good afternoon, everyone. Today I’ve got two different albums to introduce to you, which coincidentally have a common thread between them. Released just a week apart, one of these was conceived as the soundtrack to an imaginary western movie, while the other features incidental music that was recorded for the score of an actual western film.
Both of these are purely instrumental affairs, and they’re both more on the mellow side. If that sounds appealing to you, then there’s a pretty good chance one or the other may be right up your alley. So just pour yourself a tequila sunrise, grab a pack of rolling papers, kick off your boots and relax.
Cowards – Shooting Blanks and Pills (Throatruiner Records, 30 June 2012)
Good afternoon, readers. How are you on this fine Wednesday? I’m glad that I’ll be leaving work shortly, but I’m also dreading walking outside into the terrible heatwave we’ve been experiencing this week. But I’d rather not think about that — right now I’ll just sit here and enjoy the air conditioning and listen to something especially nasty and dark and angry. At the moment, I’m listening to one of my favorite hardcore records I’ve heard in a long time, which just happened to be released two years ago this week.
The album came out through Throatruiner Records, a label I’ve mentioned in the past that I have a lot of respect for, and that I’ve also discovered some incredible underground bands from — most of which are European and many of which play in a dark-toned style of hardcore that I’ve really come to appreciate.
Parisian quintet Cowards is no exception, I found when I downloaded their debut album Shooting Blanks and Pills (for free, as per usual for this record label). As I listen to it now, perhaps for the fiftieth or hundredth time, it occurs to me that I’ve never written about this band or this album before, which is really a shame because more people should get the chance to enjoy this piece of fine art. So here we are.
Hivelords – Cavern Apothecary (Anthropic Records, 02 July 2013)
Sadgiqacea – False Prism (CD – Candlelight Records / Vinyl – Anthropic Records, 07 May 2013)
Hey folks, Happy Monday to you all. Remember about a week and a half ago when I shared the details about a joint tour between Philadelphia’s Hivelords and Sadgiqacea? Well, that tour’s still trucking along — there’s another whole month left — and tonight is when they are playing in Pittsburgh. They’ll be at a cool little BYOB ex-warehouse/garage-looking spot called The Shop, along with locals Slaves BC and Night Vapor; plus the last minute of Pinprick Punishment who, I’ve been informed, are a hardcore band from Japan. It’ll be an early (all-ages) show — the music will be starting at precisely 7:30 — so even those of us who live an hour away should be safely home in bed by about midnight. If you’re in the area and you’d like to drop by, you can find more details here. I’m pretty excited about this show — as I said in that earlier post, these Philly bands are both pretty incredible to watch. If they’re coming to a town near you I’d unreservedly say you should totally go see them. If they aren’t, I’m sorry. But at least they both have albums out that you can check out!
Both bands had released a full-length in 2013, and I bought a copy of each when I saw them last summer; they’re both excellent and I’ve listened to each of them a whole bunch of times since then. But through an unfortunate oversight — Hivelords‘ was just coming out the same week these two bands came to Pittsburgh, and I remember seeing a press release about it from Catharsis PR, while Sadgiqacea‘s had been out for several months at that point and I don’t think I ever knew the actual release date — when I was compiling my list of 2013’s best releases, I only included Cavern Apothecary. (Instead of whining about it, I think I’ll just go and edit my list to sneak False Prism in there. Because once again, it’s MY list, damnit!)
Cultura Tres – Rezando Al Miedo (Devouter Records / Cumpa Records, 15 May 2013)
From the very first time I heard Cultura Tres (on this compilation in April 2012), I knew there was something special about these Venezuelan sludge/doomlords. I loved their album El Mal del Bien (which I reviewed a few weeks later, here), and absolutely would have included it among my favorite releases of 2011 if I had just heard it a few months earlier. Actually, I was tempted to stick it on my list of top 2012 albums — since Devouter Records re-released it on CD, but it would have felt like cheating at that point.
In any case, I’ve become a huge fan of this quartet and their dark, bleak worldview. When their third album Rezando al Miedo came out last spring, if anything it sounded even darker and bleaker. What more could you ask for? Naturally, this album DID find its way onto my list of the best of 2013. And now I’d like to tell you some more about it to encourage you to go check out this band yourself.