Cantharone – Sons of the Crow (self-released, 06 June 2015)
Mine Collapse – Mine Collapse (Nefarious Industries, 22 July 2016)
Livid – Beneath this Shroud, the Earth Erodes (Prosthetic Records, 14 July 2017)
Today we’ve got not one, not two, not five… but three different bands to talk about, each of which has come across my radar screen within about the past year or so. Cantharone is a four-piece from Minneapolis who have been around since about 2009, and their most recent release was their second EP which came out in the summer of 2015 (and which I’ll be sharing with you today). But despite that relatively low rate of recorded output, the band has kept pretty busy, between putting together their yearly Canthrammer Music Festival featuring a blend of metal and outlaw country bands, as well as frequent touring around the region. Down below in the comments section I’ll include some info about this year’s festival (coming in late August) as well as a list of shows they’ll be playing over the next week or so.
The other two bands that will be included in this article will be sharing a stage with Cantharone at some point in their upcoming travels, and each is equally worth checking out. Mine Collapse (Chicago) dropped their debut EP almost exactly a year ago, while Livid (Minneapolis) saw their debut LP released just days ago — both of those will also be discussed here.
Sons of the Crow, unsurprisingly when you consider the band lives in a place where about one-third of the population is of Scandinavian ancestry, and whose professional football team is The Vikings, is based upon Norse mythology. Cantharone have made the EP free to download, to help spread the word, as they continue working on a full-length record. As an introduction to the group, this collection of four songs works nicely, as it spans a pretty wide range of genres and styles, showcasing the depth and breadth of these guys’ talents.
For example, although the opener (title track) and closer (“Biting Down on the Knife”) both use gang shouted vocals, the former sort of lies at the intersection of melodic death and crossover thrash, while the latter includes some heavy-stoner-blues-style singing (and guitar riffs). Instrumental “Hel,” as darkly toned as one might expect a song named for the realm of the dead to be, falls more into the stoner-doom-grunge spectrum, although still incorporating some classic heavy metal influence; “Ashore Alone” comes across both harsher and heavier, with more blackened-death-style vocals, while also veering into stoner-groove territory at times.
Mine Collapse also contains four tracks — and I don’t even know if this will make any sense, but while listening to them, I get a sensation of cyclical things — the combination of guitar riffs and drumbeats all seem to make up Newtonian pairs (you know, that whole “for every action” thing), like something continually expanding and contracting, tides washing over everything and drifting back out to sea, over and over. The songs seem to keep swirling around in a frenzy, like a musical circle-pit. Even “Coward,” the longest track here at about eight minutes, which starts rather slowly with a piano part that leads into the guitar riffs and builds very slowly, still feels somewhat cyclical and circular.
Or maybe I’m just crazy and totally overthinking things — maybe it’s just four tracks of kick-ass metallic hardcore with some dude in the middle of it all, yelling his heart out like he’s from Black Tusk or something. I don’t know. Either way, you should totally go give it a listen.
Breaking with the pattern of the releases we’ve discussed here so far, Beneath this Shroud, the Earth Erodes has FIVE songs. Furthermore, Livid has sorted them in order of length, from five minutes (the instrumental “Descend” with its slow, soft, dreamy guitar parts, and occasional slide bits and background noise providing extra ethereal atmospherics) to twelve minutes (the bleak, dirge-like “Into Nothing”). In between, it also feels like the songs have a tendency to get slower, heavier, and doomier as the album goes along.
Starting with the second song “Nothing” — very sludgy, very grimy, very slow, segued directly from the cleaner and more ambient opening track, the album features primarily clean(ish) vocals, projected in a kind of Pallbearerish way, mournful but certainly not subdued. These vocals are frequently harmonized with a blend of singing and shout-singing (sort of Conan-like harmonies), with an ever-increasing sense of despair and despondency; as the sludge metal progressively becomes more and more heavily doom-infused …
Sons of the Crow is free to download via Bandcamp (see below), or you can pick it up on CD here. Buy Mine Collapse here (digital) or here (CD). Beneath this Shroud, the Earth Erodes is available here (digital/CD/vinyl). Enjoy!
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