Stellar Descent – Fading (2015)

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Stellar DescentFading (Dusktone, 15 September 2015)

 

Coming back to work after a holiday weekend is always rough. It’s like struggling through the Monday after a regular weekend, but twice as bad — at least. Especially when, despite having an extra-long weekend, it didn’t actually feel more relaxing at any point, because each day was filled with stupid family obligations.

This past weekend was like that, plus one day was about eight hundred degrees with a million percent humidity, while the next day was all windy and rainy, neither of which makes for ideal weather for picnicking and outdoor activities. Probably the least worst part of the weekend was one point where I was able to disappear into the woods for a little while, just to have a change of scenery and to get away from all the people discussing whatever it is that people discuss. Even if I didn’t really see anything interesting besides a bunch of trees, and even if the only sounds were a few random bird noises that were mostly obscured by the ceaseless buzzing of the cicadas (which have really come out in full force around this area), it’s still nice to be able to escape, however temporary it may have been.

I generally feel the same way when I’m at work, which is why I have my headphones on more often than not. To be able to close out all the inane conversations around me, and to be able to immerse myself in what I’m working on, while forgetting (even if only for a few minutes) that there are other people around — this makes each day at least marginally less unpleasant. Today I’d like to share something with you that combines the sounds of nature with a blur of other noises into which you can easily submerge yourself, completely drowning out all of your surroundings.

 

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Six Feet Under – Crypt of the Devil (2015), Graveyard Classics IV (2016)

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Six Feet UnderCrypt of the Devil (Metal Blade Records, 05 May 2015)

 

Six Feet Under - Graveyard Classics IV

Six Feet UnderGraveyard Classics IV: The Number of the Priest (Metal Blade Records, 27 May 2016)

 

Okay, here’s my story. About fifteen or sixteen years ago, the file-sharing software Napster had hit its prime. The MP3 file format had been around for a few years, and it was a revolutionary new way to store and transfer digital audio due to the way it compressed data, which meant that over a relatively decent dial-up connection, it became possible to download a song in a matter of several minutes rather than hours. But coinciding with the rise of the Napster service, cable or DSL internet services were becoming increasingly widespread among household users — and while these broadband connections couldn’t compare with the direct lines found in larger businesses or colleges (or even with the high-speed options available in homes today), this increased upload and download speeds exponentially: now (depending on the speed of the specific peer-to-peer connection), that same MP3 file could usually be downloaded in less time than it would take you to listen to the song it contained. There was still plenty of technological advances yet to come, to the point where you can now go to Bandcamp and download an entire album in about thirty seconds or less, but compared with the way things had been for years prior, this was a pretty amazing development.

At that time, I was just into my early twenties, and very eager to learn about all the music that was out there for me to discover. No longer limited to what was available on the radio or MTV, there was a whole new world now accessible with just a few keystrokes and mouse clicks. And so I set out to fill my ears with everything I possibly could. Wikipedia was still in its infancy then, and the Encyclopaedia Metallum had not yet been launched, but I remember finding an invaluable source of information at the now-defunct CDNow.com — which, at the time, was basically the music store equivalent of Amazon.com, who was still primarily involved in selling only books. CDNow had fairly extensive biographical information for most of the artists whose music they sold, and also had an excellent system of recommendations — a series of rabbit holes through which I spend many, many hours wandering. Between all of that online research, and sometimes just stumbling upon random things in the course of conducting Napster searches, I had started to amass quite a sizable library of music, in an ever-broadening range of styles.

The point of all this is that at some time — I guess it was probably around early 2001 — I happened upon a death metal version of Dead Kennedys‘ “California Über Alles” by a band called Six Feet Under, which I thought was well-done, in a somewhat amusing, tongue-in-cheek kind of way. As it turns out, just before this (specifically, in October 2000), the band had released an album called Graveyard Classics which was entirely made up of cover versions of old-school rock, punk, and metal songs — so naturally when I tried searching for more of their material, these were the songs that popped up most often: “Sweet Leaf,” “In League with Satan,” and so on. At the time I didn’t know anything about Six Feet Under, although I did learn that it had first launched as a side project of Chris Barnes who had been the vocalist for Cannibal Corpse. Now that was a band I was at least somewhat familiar with, as a high school classmate had introduced me to their highly disturbing brand of extreme metal back in the early- or mid-90s. Anyway, given that limited amount of information, and the selection of songs I had been finding available for download (for what it’s worth, I later did end up buying a copy of Graveyard Classics), the natural conclusion I drew at that time was that apparently Six Feet Under was essentially the Me First and the Gimme Gimmes of death metal …

I don’t remember exactly when, but eventually I learned the full story behind the band — that they do have original material as well, and that Barnes had decided to shift all his energy here after being expelled from Cannibal Corpse following their first few albums (and not long after forming this side project), for reasons that vary depending on which version of the story you hear, but which may have included being more interested in marijuana than in being seriously committed to the band. Whether there’s any truth to that could be debated endlessly, but I’ve always found it a bit peculiar that there might have been an issue with someone’s seriousness when it comes to membership in a band whose lyrics and titles were so offensive that it was almost cartoonish, and whose artwork was so absurdly graphic that their albums were normally sold mostly (or even entirely) covered with a plain cardboard sleeve. But anyway, none of that is really relevant here — we’re here to discuss Six Feet Under, who have always seemed to (at least at some level) embrace the inherent silliness of the extreme death metal genre — especially when it comes to tackling cover songs that are often, as I noted earlier, clearly intended to be at least somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

 

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Pigs – Wronger, Sofy Major – Waste (2015)

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PigsWronger (Solar Flare Records, 02 October 2015)

 

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Sofy MajorWaste (Solar Flare Rcords, 29 October 2015)

 

Hey folks, how are you? Today has seemed like the longest day — like since I left home this morning, it seems like at least two whole days should have passed, so we should be reaching the end of Friday and heading out for a nice holiday weekend by now. (For those readers who live abroad, this coming Monday will be Memorial Day here in the U.S., a day of rememberance and — for most people — a day of not going to work.) But no, incredibly it’s still Thursday and the day still isn’t quite over yet. Not cool.

Anyway, I’ve got a couple albums I’d like to share with you today — both of them released by Solar Flare Records back in October. The first one is the second full-length by Pigs, the Brooklyn trio whose highly enjoyable debut You Ruin Everything was discussed right here, when it was released about four years ago.

The second album we’ll be listening to is by Sofy Major, whose bassist/vocalist just happens to be the head guy in charge of Solar Flare. Furthermore, starting tomorrow night (Friday the 27th) and running through the end of next month, this band will be touring across Europe alongside Pigs guitarist/vocalist Dave Curran‘s “other band” Unsane. After you’re finished reading here, head down to the comments section where I’ll have that list of dates for you all.

 

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FINNISH METAL: Hooded Menace (2015), Solothus (2016), Ever Circling Wolves (2017)

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Hooded MenaceDarkness Drips Forth (Relapse Records, 30 October 2015)

 

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SolothusNo King Reigns Eternal (Doomentia Records, 18 March 2016)

 

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Ever Circling WolvesOf Woe or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Gloom (record label and release date TBD Cimmerian Shade Recordings, 27 January 2017)

 

Last week, President Obama made headlines when he made a reference to Finnish heavy metal while speaking at a summit of visiting Nordic leaders.

In that same spirit, today we’re going to talk about a handful of bands from Suomen tasavalta, the Republic of Finland: Hooded Menace from Joensuu, Solothus from Turku and Helsinki, and Ever Circling Wolves, also from Helsinki.

 

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Giant of the Mountain – Moon Worship (2014), The Empty Quarter (2016)

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Giant of the MountainMoon Worship (self-released, 25 February 2014)

 

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Giant of the MountainThe Empty Quarter (Burning Dogma Records, 27 May 2016)

 

Emerging from the Plano/Dallas region of northern Texas way back in 2008, the beast known as Giant of the Mountain was formed by guitarist/vocalist Cody Daniels along with Randi Matejowsky, who soon switched from guitar to drums. The pair worked with a series of different bassists as they unleashed a couple EPs and a full-length album over the next several years. By the band’s fifth anniversary in 2013, they had joined up with Alexander Salazar on bass and doubling as a second vocalist — and this is the line-up that remains intact to this day. This threesome recorded and released the album Moon Worship, a masterpiece of progressive-death insanity, a little over two years ago, and now they’re back with the brand-new EP The Empty Quarter which comes out at the end of this week. If you aren’t already on the GOTM bandwagon, keep on reading to find out what you’ve been missing!

 

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Autarch / Soothsayer – Split (2016)

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Autarch / SoothsayerSplit (self-released 27 May 2016; vinyl via Replenish Records 12 June 2016)

 

Two years ago this week, Asheville neo-crust band Autarch saw their debut full-length on vinyl. When I wrote about that album, The Death of Actiacus, a few days later, I noted that the band’s tour was headed here to Pittsburgh on that particular evening — and that one of the local bands joining them at that show would be the fairly-newly-formed (at that time) Soothsayer, who draw on many of the same atmospheric/blackened/crust elements as their North Carolinian counterparts.

Well, I can tell you that particular show turned out to be a pretty great experience all around, and I’d also like to share some new information that was just brought to my attention. This Friday — almost exactly two years after their performance together that night in Pittsburgh — Autarch and Soothsayer are jointly releasing a split record. That album is available to order right now, so I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you all a little more about it …

 

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HATEBREED and DEVILDRIVER Coming to Pittsburgh — Win FREE Tickets!!

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Opus One Productions Presents:

Hatebreed‘s Concrete Confessional Tour

featuring DevilDriver and Act of Defiance

Tuesday 07 June 2016

at Mr. Smalls Theatre, 400 Lincoln Ave. Pittsburgh (Millvale) PA 15209

ALL AGES, 8:00 show / 7:00 doors, $25

 

Tickets are on sale NOW at Ticketweb… OR you can WIN a pair of tickets FREE, courtesy of Opus One Productions and Valley of Steel! Keep on reading to find out how…

 

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