Cultura Tres – Rezando Al Miedo (2013)

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Cultura TresRezando 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.

 

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Monsterworks – Album of Man (2013)

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MonsterworksAlbum of Man (Mortal Music, 28 March 2013)

 

So I just realized in a few more days this year will be half over — and I also realized that I’m nowhere near halfway through writing reviews for LAST year’s top albums list… yikes! If I don’t want to still be working on these when I’m supposed to be putting together THIS year’s list, I guess I’d better get moving at a quicker pace. So here’s another one for you guys.

Monsterworks from London, England (formerly New Zealand) have been making crazy mishmashes of awesome music for nearly twenty years, and during that time they’ve released roughly seven hundred albums and EPs. I don’t know the exact number, but I’ve heard that they’ve done two more (Earth and Universe) since the one I’m currently writing about (which was only fifteen months ago) and they’ve just announced that they’ll have ANOTHER two (Overhaul and Existence) by early next year. Seriously.

I’m sure I’ll get caught up on all of that some day. Maybe. But for now, let’s talk about Album of Man, which came out last March.

 

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Begrime Exemious – Visions of the Scourge (2012)

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Begrime ExemiousVisions of the Scourge (Dark Descent Records, 04 April 2012)

 

Good afternoon! Remember yesterday when I wrote about the new Wrought Iron album? I mentioned that they’d be having a release show to celebrate TONIGHT, at Howler’s Coyote Cafe in Bloomfield (Pittsburgh). Full details on that can be found right here. That show also features locals Post Mortal Possession and two out-of-town bands who are each currently engaged in (separate) tours: Cryptic Yeast from New York, and Begrime Exemious from Alberta.

Well as it turns out, I remembered that I had an album from the Canadian band — one that I’d never quite gotten around to writing about, so it’s just sort of been sitting here in my “to do” pile for the past 2+ years. With this news that they’re coming to Pittsburgh, in the midst of what I believe to be their first American tour (outside of a short excursion down the Pacific coast last summer), I figured it’s as good a time as any to revisit Begrime Exemious and their second full-length album Visions of the Scourge. (They’ve also released a number of splits and EPs, before and since then, and you may be interested to learn that pretty much their whole discography is available to download from Bandcamp for free or “pay what you like” — see the relevant link at the end of this post.)

 

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Wrought Iron – Rejoice and Transcend (2014)

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Wrought IronRejoice and Transcend (Grimoire Records, 24 June 2014)

 

Ever since the band was formed (which was at the end of 2011), and especially since they started playing live shows (the following spring), there’s been a significant amount of buzz surrounding Wrought Iron within Pittsburgh’s underground music scene. People who’ve caught their live shows (often appearing with some pretty big names, like Abigail Williams, Absu, Alcest, Dying Fetus, False, and Nachtmystium, just to name a few) have reported being spellbound by the ferocity as well as the raw talent on display.

Well, that — and one other thing too. It seems like whenever this band is being discussed, the performance of vocalist Kenny Snyder often gets brought up; several times I’ve witnessed certain people (without mentioning anyone specifically, but I will say it’s almost always been members of other local bands) trying to imitate the combined snarl-shriek-squawk that these folks affectionately refer to as “like a dying pterodactyl.”

Anyway. I personally may have been a little bit late to the party, but after hearing them recommended so highly for so long, I finally got the chance to see Wrought Iron last summer (and a couple more times since then). I was very impressed by what I saw and heard — they definitely lived up to the hype, no question about that. Fast-forward another year, and we find the band recording an album with Maryland’s Grimoire Records, which is being released digitally (as well as on CD or cassette) today.

 

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Agalloch – The Serpent & the Sphere (2014)

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AgallochThe Serpent & the Sphere (Profound Lore Records, 13 May 2014)

 

So tomorrow is the day when we’ll be making the trek west to Ohio, because Agalloch‘s tour will be hitting Cleveland. (Read all the details of that tour right here. I’ve been pretty excited about this for a while — I may only have discovered the band within the past few years, but quickly I found their style of vast, atmosphere-infused black/folk metal to be right up my alley. I enjoyed all the songs I’d heard (on Pandora or wherever) from their earlier albums like The Mantle and Ashes Against the Grain, so I thought I had a general idea of what this band was about, and I thought I knew basically what to expect from the upcoming show.

But no, honestly I don’t think anything could have prepared me for what happened when — partly out of curiosity, partly to get familiar with some of their newer stuff — I headed over to the Agalloch Bandcamp page and hit PLAY on their recently-released album The Serpent & the Sphere. I found myself instantly blown away by what I was hearing, a reaction that continued throughout the next fifty-nine minutes or so, through the conclusion of all nine tracks. I decided right then, even though this year isn’t even halfway over yet, that I find it unlikely I’ll hear anything better than this in 2014.

I hadn’t even really planned on writing this, but this was just one of those rare occasions where something caught my attention and spoke to me so much, I felt like I had to make sure other people knew about this record too.

 

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Tours Galore: Hivelords and Sadgiqacea Together Again

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Hivelords and Sadgiqacea Are Embarking on a Joint Summer Tour

 

Hey folks, if you live in the eastern half of the U.S. (that is, anywhere between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River, plus just a little further west in the case of Kansas City, Columbia, and Des Moines), you’re in for a real treat sometime in the next six weeks. Two Philadelphia-based bands who each play a uniquely interesting variant of black metal — Hivelords and Sadgiqacea — are heading out on the road, starting tomorrow night in New Jersey, and spiralling their way through the northeast, midwest, and southeast, before finally finishing up back in Philly at the end of July.

I saw these bands last July when they both played a show in Pittsburgh, and it made for a pretty amazing experience. I’d highly recommend it if you are able. I’ve got a video from each of their performances at that show, below, and then I’ll share the full list of dates for their current summer tour.

 

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Musk Ox – Woodfall (2014)

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Musk OxWoodfall (self-released, 17 June 2014)

 

Earlier this week I wrote about the current Agalloch North American tour, which began last night. In that post, I made mention of the fact that when the tour hits Ottawa on the third of July, the band would be joined by an acoustic group called Musk Ox. Led by guitarist Nathanaël Larochette (who contributed some interlude music to the recently-released Agalloch album The Serpent & the Sphere), and also consisting of cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne and violinist Evan Runge, this instrumental trio has just released an album of their own, earlier this week.

The second full-length album under the Musk Ox name, Woodfall is the first to feature this particular line-up (the 2007 self-titled release was exclusively a solo project featuring Larochette on all instruments). This new album contains one continuous piece of music (over an hour in length), which was composed by Larochette and Weinroth-Browne. The larger piece is broken into five named sections; three of these (part 1 “Earthrise,” part 2 “Windswept,” and part 4 “Above the Clouds”) run around ten minutes long, while the other two (part 3 “Arcanum” and part 5 “Serenade the Constellations”) each exceed seventeen. On the whole, I find Woodfall fascinating for both its beauty and its simplicity, and I suspect many of you out there will feel the same way.

 

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