Autarch – The Death of Actiacus (originally released 19 April 2013 on cassette and via Bandcamp; re-released May 2014 on vinyl by Headfirst! Records and All We Know Records)
Crust, as a musical genre, can be difficult to precisely pinpoint — it seems to hover somewhere around the intersection of gritty hardcore punk and various forms of extreme metal such as death/thrash/crossover or, sometimes, black metal. (This last association works especially well when the combined genres also incorporate atmospheric or “post-metal” elements.) While musically the term can span a fairly wide spectrum (while staying primarily within the general confines of the collection of styles mentioned), crust as a concept tends to be more clearly defined by its attitude and lyrical themes — often focusing on things like social issues, or protesting against perceived injustices. Therefore, it would seem to make sense for a band called Autarch to identify themselves with that tag: “autarchy” is a philosophy similar to anarchy, but with a strong emphasis on self-governance and pure individualism.
Following a self-titled demo in 2012 (which you can download from Moshpit Tragedy here, either for free or by donating any amount you choose, which will then be sent to Canada’s Cedar Row Farm Animal Sanctuary), this group from the Blue Ridge region of western North Carolina released an album called The Death of Actiacus last spring. (“Actiacus” is one of several names used for Apollo, due to the fact that one of the major ancient Greek temples dedicated to this god of sun and light was located at a site called Actium — so it seems, metaphorically, the album title is basically referring to the extinguishing of light.)
And now (actually, sometime within the past week), the album has been made available in a limited vinyl edition (just 300 copies pressed on grey marble). And the band is also in the midst of a tour up and down the eastern U.S. and Canada — with only a handful of dates remaining before they head back home, but including a stop in Pittsburgh tonight (Wednesday, 28 May). More on both the tour and the album can be found below.
Noothgrush / Coffins – Split (11 November 2013, Southern Lord Records)
Well, the long weekend is over (for a large number of readers: yesterday was Memorial Day in the U.S. and Spring Bank Holiday in the U.K.) and it’s time to return to boring, mundane reality. I’m sure it’s much more of a system shock for those of you who attended Maryland Deathfest this weekend. I’m still jealous of how many awesome bands you got to see over the past several days, though, so I don’t feel bad for you. For the rest of us, I’ve got some more music to share, which comes from some more bands that we missed out on seeing this weekend. This split LP, issued by Southern Lord several months back, serves as a nice little primer for two excellent sludge/doom bands — Noothgrush (who performed at MDF Saturday, 24 May) and Coffins (who were there Friday night)…
Seven Sisters of Sleep – Opium Morals (20 March 2013, A389 Records)
Well folks, the last weekend in May is upon us, which means that most of my peers in the music-writing industry (and many of my other metal-loving friends as well) have made their annual pilgrimage to Baltimore for the year’s largest metal festival (outside of Europe, of course), Maryland Deathfest. Once again, a number of huge names jumped out at me from the announced schedule (Hooded Menace! Crowbar! Fucking Candlemass!!), but also once again, various factors have conspired against me being able to attend.
But — whatever, I’m not just going to sit around all weekend and whine about it. I’ve got plenty of good music to keep me company, and I fully intend to listen to all of it. All of the musics. For starters, although I will not be seeing Californian sludge band Seven Sisters of Sleep performing at the MDF kick-off show tonight (Thursday, 22 May 2014), I can always stuff their second full-length Opium Morals (which happened to rank among my favorite albums of 2013) into my ears. And while I’m at it, I can share it with you readers (who, I assume, are reading this because you also not at the festival in Maryland right now). So here goes.
If you’ve come here expecting a discussion of classic literature or descriptions of Chinese peasant life, I’m afraid you will be disappointed. But that’s somewhat appropriate because disappointment is one of the major themes of the story I’m about to tell you.
However, the title of this article (which I’ve stolen from the book pictured here) is intended to illustrate a comparative concept: that to the extent that there is a “Good Earth,” it logically follows that there would exist a “Not-So-Good Earth.” Bear with me, it’ll all make sense soon enough. Probably.
ULCERATE: Vermis North America MMXIV Tour Now Underway
Sometime in the latter half of last year, the bands for this month’s Maryland Deathfest were announced, and as I recall, Ulcerate was one of the names that many people were really excited about. At the time, the name was somewhat familiar to me but the band itself was not.
Well, a bit more recently, my family acquired a new tv which has Pandora Radio built-in — which is nice for putting something on in the background while working around the house, because previously we’ve had Sirius-XM satellite radio through a satellite tv provider, and now these Music Choice channels through our local cable tv company, and believe me, each of those options are equally worthless. So anyway, within the past few months I’ve seen Ulcerate appear a few times (mostly stuff from their 2011 Willowtip release The Destroyers of All) on one of our Pandora stations (I’m not sure which, but possibly Agalloch, which is a household favorite), so finally I can see what all the hype was about.
Anyway, getting back to my original point, the New Zealandian band is heading for the eastern U.S. for an appearance at MDF; furthermore, and seeing as how they just put out a new record a few months ago (Vermis, their first release via Relapse), apparently they decided to make the most of the trans-oceanic trip by hitting a whole bunch of stops across North America along the way.
This tour, presented by Metal Injection, will be the band’s first appearance in this part of the world since they had a mini tour in conjunction with an appearance at MDF back in 2012. Fellow Relapse artists Inter Arma will also be appearing on a handful of tour dates. See below for the full list, and then keep reading for a peek at Vermis…