Solar Halos – Solar Halos (20 January 2014, Devouter Records)
When halo rings the moon or sun, rain’s approaching on the run.
So goes the old saying. The atmospheric phenomenon known as a halo (which could be solar or lunar) involves the refraction of light through ice crystals in the air; as a beam of light strikes the crystalline structure at just the right angle, it is refracted as if passing through a prism, and the rays end up being bent into an arc shape that appears (to the viewer on the ground) to encircle the source of that light (i.e. the sun or moon). Traditionally this has been seen as an omen of approaching bad weather — which makes sense because, as people discovered when they started learning more about the science behind meteorology, the conditions that produce this optical wonder involve a certain amount of moisture being in the air as well as the approach of a warmer front which would generally precipitate (pun intended) impending rainfall. A quick Google image search shows that these halos are beautiful to look at, even though they may be foreshadowing that things could soon turn dark and unpleasant.
There’s another truism that says an email that comes from Devouter Records is a sign of excellent music on its way. Although not nearly as old or well-known, I’ve found this statement to be 100% accurate, dating back to the 2012 LP Trephine by MAKE and through every release since then. Added just a week ago to this impressive list is the debut album by Solar Halos, who just happen to come from the same North Carolina town (Chapel Hill) as their labelmates.
Myopic – Beyond the Mirror’s Edge (17 January 2014 CD / 04 March 2014 cassette, Grimoire Records)
Good afternoon, folks, and HAPPY FRIDAY! You all are probably anxious to get the weekend started, perhaps with some awesome music to listen to, and perhaps without a lot of crap to read before you get to listening. I understand. I’ll try to make this short and sweet. Which makes sense, because with just four tracks spanning approximately 25 minutes, this EP that was just released a week ago by Baltimore-based Grimoire Records is short — and also pretty fucking sweet.
The Beyond the Mirror’s Edge EP is the first thing I’ve ever heard from both Myopic, a three-piece band from Takoma Park, Maryland (just outside Washington), and from the Grimoire label. But if this little package of blackened post metal (with just a touch on the experimental side) is any indication, then I’m pretty excited to see what the future holds for both of them.
Borracho – Oculus (digital version self-released 18 July 2013 | vinyl edition released December 2013 on No Balls Records (Germany) / Strange Magic Records (US) / AM Records (Japan))
Hey there, readers. There’s been a bunch of great music released this week, and I can’t wait to share it with you! I’ll get to that very soon. First, there’s something else I’ve been meaning to tell you all about for months and I really don’t want to let it wait any longer. Those of you who’ve been around here a while will surely remember Borracho: I’ve been way into this band ever since I stumbled upon Splitting Sky, their debut album, back in 2011, which immediately found its way onto my list of the best releases of that year. For those who haven’t been paying attention, it doesn’t take much research to find that I’ve written about them or mentioned them quite a few times since then. Just something about those heavy-as-balls riffs and mind-bending instrumental passages really grabs my attention and refuses to let go.
So anyway, naturally, after a series of vinyl reissues and 7″ singles and 10″ singles, the news that these guys were releasing a second album of brand-new material would be very exciting to me. Combined with the fact that the band swung by my city for the first time ever — and the second time ever — all within the past year, yeah I’d say I was pretty thrilled. That new album — Oculus — was unleased (online) on the same day as Borracho‘s second Pittsburgh show of the year, which was mid-July 2013, and so I’ve been listening to it ever since then (and, as you may recall, history repeated itself as it was also included on my list of last year’s best albums). I did start writing about it around the time it was released, intending to publish this review before I went to the show that night, but something came up — I think work was especially busy that week or something. Then for most of the rest of the year I was frozen in Carbonite. I dunno, I have no excuses, really. But that’s why, like I said, I want to bring this album to your attention as soon as possible.
Hey, good afternoon! We’ll be returning to our regular schedule of album reviews and snarky remarks shortly. But first I wanted to pass along a couple of tidbits that have hit my in-box courtesy of Earsplit PR. Apparently there will be some new material emerging in the near future from two bands who both happened to be among the most impressive live acts I’ve seen in the past year: Inter Arma and Today is the Day. Also Inter Arma has a shit-ton of tour dates coming up over the next couple of months, including a stop in my nearest metropolis — and perhaps a city near you as well. You’ll find the full list below.
Satan – Life Sentence (Listenable Records, 21 May 2013)
Hello, readers. As I mentioned a few days ago when I published my list of year-end lists (if you missed it, the collection can be found right here; my own personal list of 2013’s best releases can be found by scrolling all the way to the bottom), and as you could certainly tell yourself just by poking around a little bit, I really dropped the ball when it came to getting much writing done last year. And consequently, I neglected to share a great deal of music with you folks. Believe me, I feel bad about that, because there’s so much of it that I’ve been really enjoying listening to, and it’s pretty unfair not to pass that along. So on that note, let’s talk about Satan.
Fist Fight in the Parking Lot – Year of the Ox (self-released, 11 January 2014)
Good afternoon, readers! Happy Monday to you all. Hope you had a good weekend. I was out of town visiting relatives the whole time — which, surprisingly, wasn’t really as bad as that sounds. So that’s cool, I guess. Although being away from Pittsburgh did have one unfortunate consequence: I wasn’t able to make it to the Fist Fight in the Parking Lot CD release show that took place Saturday night. They always put on a very energetic, entertaining show (and plus, our Ohioan neighbors Black Plastic Caskets also played that night, and I’ve only seen them once and have really been looking forward to having another chance).
But anyway, at least I can check out the new FFITPL CD, and I can tell you about it so you can go check it out too. And then we can all party like it’s 2021.
Hey folks — a very Happy (Belated) New Year to all of you! 2013 definitely turned out to be an interesting year for me, with lots of big changes, new projects, new responsibilities, etc., but an unfortunate side-effect of some of that was (as you’ve surely noticed) that the amount of time I’d been spending writing really tapered off as the year went on, to the point where I didn’t post
anything here for the last few months! Well, as you may have seen, I’ve started writing reviews of some new 2014 releases — and as time allows I promise I will also be sharing plenty of older stuff I’ve missed writing about, because believe me there has been a TON worth sharing!
But more on that later. As I started doing last year, I’ve once again put together a collection of various people’s “best of” lists from 2013. Admittedly I sort of got a late start on this (I didn’t even put out the open invitation until after most websites had already finished with publishing all their year-end stuff), but several people have answered the call and contributed some really interesting lists that you’ll want to check out…
Waldgeflüster – Meine Fesseln (Bindrune Recordings, 10 January 2014)
This week has seen a wave of record-breaking cold all across North America, with sub-zero HIGH temperatures in some places, as well as dangerously low wind-chill factors that prompted widespread closures of schools and businesses in many areas. Those of us who weren’t fortunate enough to be able to stay home under several blankets could be seen bundled in as many layers as possible while still being able to walk, in a vain attempt to protect against the freezing winds. The point I’m trying to make is, it’s been pretty damn cold around here.
And so, I couldn’t imagine a more appropriate time than this, for a new album to be released by the German one-man black metal contingent Waldgeflüster (just that name — which approximately translates to “whispering woods” — evokes images of icy cold darkness). The full-length due out tomorrow (10 January) from Bindrune Recordings will be the third overall from the project, which consists chiefly of a guy called Winterherz (“Winter Heart”). Comprising seven tracks in all, and lasting just over an hour, new album Meine Fesseln (“My Shackles”) also includes contributions from a variety of other musicians, including Austin Lunn of Panopticon (mandolin, vocals, and guitar solos) and Johan Becker of Austaras (violin), among others. Incidentally, Johan has also appeared on Panopticon recordings, and both he and Austin happened to have guest spots on Vit‘s The Dry Season — which had just been released when I spoke with that band’s drummer prior to last year’s Winter’s Wake festival in Pittsburgh; furthermore, Johan had accompanied Vit at that performance, and shortly afterwards he mentioned to me that he was working on a few other upcoming projects at that time — which happened to be my first time hearing of Waldgeflüster. Not that any of that has any particular relevance to this review (or to anything at all); I just thought I’d share some trivia with you.
Cannabis Corpse / Ghoul – Splatterhash (7 January 2014, Tankcrimes Records)
Exhumed / Iron Reagan – Split 12″ (7 January 2014, Tankcrimes Records)
Tankcrimes Records has been known to put out some fairly unique and sought-after releases over the past few years. (For instance, who could forget 2012’s hugely successful Toxic Waste split featuring Toxic Holocaust and Municipal Waste?) Well yesterday, just barely a week into 2014, we find the label has issued not one but TWO more excellent split records to add to that impressive repertory.