Earth and Pillars – Earth I (CD/digital via Avantgarde Music 25 November 2014; vinyl via Fallen Empire Records/Eisenwald, 21 February 2016)
Hey! Hope you’re having a good afternoon, everyone. Or at least, as good as can be expected on a Monday. As usual, I feel like I’ve been pretty much sleepwalking through work all day. I’m about to go grab another cup of coffee, then I’d like to tell you about this amazing album of transcendent, otherworldly black metal — Earth I, the debut by Italy’s Earth and Pillars. It’s got a lot of nuance and detail buried inside, and on repeated listens you can really dig deep and get lost in there. But if that’s not the sort of mood you’re in, you can just as easily just unfocus and let the overpowering waves of sound just rush over you. Either way, just don’t miss this record!
Beehoover – The Devil and His Footmen (Exile on Mainstream, 30 September 2013)
Beehoover – Primitive Powers (UnUnDeux, 26 February 2016)
Hey, good afternoon, music fans! Did you know that this website is now in its fifth year of existence? Technically its fifth birthday will be coming up later this year, but I just thought it was interesting to think about that. That might be partly why I’ve been covering quite a few older releases over the past weeks, trying to get some stuff written about and shared with you that I’ve been listening to and meaning to write about for a long time: reaching (or approaching) that sort of milestone can make you do a lot of reflecting back, while also trying to stay on top of what’s happening currently and looking ahead to what’s next.
Anyway, that’s kind of a roundabout way of introducing today’s topic, which will be hitting a bit of each of those things, since I’ll be covering a pair of albums by German bass/drums/vocals duo Beehoover — one which came out in late 2013 (and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying, and intending to get a chance to write about, since around that time), and a brand-new one (that I feel confident you’ll enjoy just as much) which will officially hit the store shelves (metaphorically speaking) tomorrow!
Altarage – MMXV Demo (Sentient Ruin Laboratories / Sol Y Nieve, 27 September 2015)
Well. Yesterday was pretty much a crap day. I’m not going to go into details because I don’t want to waste time dwelling on it (and you don’t care anyway) but from beginning to end, it was just one of those, like okay what else can go wrong next and why did I even get out of bed today, kind of days.
But today is going to be better, I’m sure of that. It’s still early in the morning and I still feel like I’m sleepwalking, but I’m starting the day off right — filling my ears with angry, aggressive sounds that I’ll gladly share with all of you. We all have a bad day now and then, and could probably use some help coping with it.
So I offer you: Altarage, a mysterious death metal band from Bilbao, in the Basque region of northern Spain. A few months ago the good folks at California’s Sentient Ruin let me know about this band’s two-song demo entitled MMXV, which is very dark and twisted and everything you need to turn that frown upside-down (and then contort it into a kind of devilish scowl)…
Wrekmeister Harmonies – Night of Your Ascension (Thrill Jockey, 13 November 2015)
Well… here we are at the end of a dull, dreary Monday — looks like we’ve survived another one. And it’s a good thing, too, because I’ve got something pretty extraordinary to share with you this afternoon. It’s not often that you come across something that seems immediately transcendent — so otherworldly that it fully envelops the listener and transports you away from the surface level of consciousness — but that’s the case with Night of Your Ascension, the third album released by the American “pastoral doom” conglomerate known as Wrekmeister Harmonies. A late-year discovery for me (it just came out at the end of November), this LP nevertheless had such an instantaneous impact that I just had to include it among my list of 2015’s top releases.
This isn’t necessarily the type of material that really benefits from being written about, being described in words, so I’ll keep that part as brief as possible. Further down, you’ll have the opportunity to listen for yourself and get the full experience, and then you’ll understand. And even further down (in the comments section), I’ll be including the details of the group’s current North American tour with Bell Witch, so stay tuned for that!
Anicon – Aphasia (self-released 06 May 2015; cassette via Acteon Records, 15 September 2015)
It’s Friday and the work week has ended and I’m all ready to kick off the weekend by heading out to the Slaves BC record release show! For those of you who aren’t close enough to Pittsburgh to make it here this evening, though, I’ve got something for you to keep yourself occupied — a band I first discovered when I saw them at another Slaves show…
About two and a half years ago, I went to see them with another excellent local band, Storm King, at this rinky-dink little dive in Pittsburgh called Kopec’s. The performance area was more like the living room of a run-down old apartment upstairs from the bar — a cool little space, which has been sadly missed ever since they stopped hosting shows later that same year. Anyway, that night was a special treat because a third band also played, whom I was not previously familiar with, but who definitely grabbed my attention and impressed everyone in the room with their energy and high-quality musicianship: the New York black metal group Anicon. Here is a video from their set that night, to give you a taste of what’s in store.
As one does when seeing a really good band from out-of-town play, I remember wanting to patronize their merch table, but as I recall they only had cassette tapes for sale, and since this is the twenty-first century, I had to leave empty-handed. Well, fast-forward to mid-2015, and I discovered that Anicon had put out a new EP. They said they had recorded it themselves in their practice space, intending for it to serve as a demo for a full-length due out sometime in 2016. But practice space demo or not, “Aphasia” still landed a spot on my list of last year’s best releases. Keep on reading (or just skip the next bit and head down to the part where you get to hear it for yourself) and I’m sure you’ll understand why.
Agoraphobic Nosebleed – Arc (Relapse Records, 22 January 2016)
As far back as last November, Relapse Records has been teasing the news that this year would witness a series of four EPs filled with new material from grindcore stalwarts Agoraphobic Nosebleed, the first of which was scheduled to come out in late January. This EP, titled Arc, would run about twenty-five minutes over the course of just three songs.
Surely those of you familiar with the drum-machine-based band’s past output — which includes an album of 100 tracks whose total length doesn’t quite reach twenty-five minutes — will have done a double-take at learning this information, just as I did when I first read the announcement. And surely you’re as curious and eager to hear what they’ve come up with, just as I was. Well Arc has been out a few weeks by now, so step right this way and let’s explore.
Employed to Serve – Long Time Dead (18 September 2012, Grindcore Karaoke)
Hello readers, and happy Tuesday. For the majority of you, this is just like any other Tuesday in any other week, but for many of my domestic readers, we’re fumbling our way through our first day back to work from a long weekend — due to Presidents Day, which is a made-up American holiday based on the fact that a couple of the country’s better-known presidents had been born sometime in February, and is used as a convenient excuse to take an extra Monday off work. It’s a nice idea in theory, but then heading back to reality is just that much more unpleasant. Everyone hates Mondays, but I’ve mentioned in the past how Tuesdays can be even worse sometimes, and especially when it’s a Tuesday that behaves like a Monday. Ugh.
Fortunately — whether we’re returning to work today or yesterday or any day, since it’s all equally miserable — I’ve got the perfect soundtrack to help make it through.
Kraków – diin (Dark Essence Records, 14 September 2012)
Kraków – amaran (Dark Essence Records, 09 February 2015)
Kraków – genesis (Dark Essence Records, 07 August 2015)
Hey, folks. So last week as you may have noticed, we had a bit of a blast from the past: I wrote about an album that came out in the latter part of 2012, one which I have enjoyed listening to immensely since I first heard it, and one that likely would have found its way onto my list of that year’s best releases if I had just gotten around to hearing it sooner. Well today, we’ll be taking a look at another album that also came out around the same time — late 2012 — and has become one of my favorite things to listen to since I first discovered it. That album is called diin, and was the second to be released by Norwegian post-rockers Kraków. Today we’ll also discuss that band’s third record amaran (and the EP that closely followed, genesis) — and since I’d made the mistake of finding that earlier album too late and excluding it from my 2012 list, I made sure to rectify that when it came time to put together my list for 2015, since those two (jointly) happened to rank among the best things I heard last year.
Anyway, that’s surely enough in the way of introduction — you can just expect that we’ll be covering several entries from this band’s discography — part of which I was sorry to have missed once, and all of which you would be wise not to miss now!
Seriously, though, that was my initial reaction on hearing this full album for the first time. I know it’s still very early in the year, and there will be plenty of high-quality releases yet to come (and I’ve even heard a few good ones already), so it’s ridiculous to make such a proclamation at this point. But I can assure you this record will definitely end up in my Top 16 list, probably very close to the top of that list. Because it’s that good.
MAKE – Demos & Outtakes (self-released, 26 January 2013)
MAKE – The Golden Veil (Black Iron Records, 17 July 2015)
MAKE – In Pursuit (self-released, 30 December 2015)
Okay folks, lots of ground to cover today, so let’s just jump straight in. Cool? Cool.
The last time we talked about MAKE, the Chapel Hill band that combines blackened atmospheric doom with blackgaze and drone/ambient elements (for lack of a more concise description), it was a little over three years ago, and the band had just put out an EP of material that didn’t quite fit on their previous album (one which had ranked among the best albums of 2012), but also wouldn’t quite match the direction of their next one — which they had said they were beginning to work on around that same time…