Huntsmen – American Scrap (Prosthetic Records, 23 February 2018)
“Storytelling is the great, albeit fading, American pastime. It predated writing and in many instances, was told in song. In modern times, many musicians have approached their music from a storytelling point of view: Dylan, Springsteen and Waits to name a few. Chicago’s Americana metal outfit, Huntsmen, are carrying the torch for heavy bands to be added to that list.”
So begins the press release for this band’s debut LP, which came out about a week ago. Bold words? Sure. A little presumptuous? Maybe. But the self-described Heavy Americana band caught my attention, and the fact that they were kicking off the Prosthetic Records release of American Scrap with a short excursion across the mid-west and mid-Atlantic with label-mates Livid (with whom our readers ought to already be familiar) especially got me to check out this album.
That tour actually wraps up tonight (Sunday, 4th March) — see the details listed way down below — but first let’s talk a little about the band and their songs …
Fister / CHRCH – Split (Crown and Throne Ltd / Battleground Records, 17 November 2017)
New year, new review! Here we have a split record between a pair of bands: Saint Louisian ugly-sludge architects Fister and fellow slow-doom-ahaulics CHRCH from Sacramento. While the first of these has been written about quite often on this site, up until this record’s release about a month and a half ago, that second name was brand-new to us here in the Valley. As it turns out, the name is (relatively) new to the band as well: their 2015 debut album was released under the name Church, and today’s subject is their first official recording with the abbreviated, vowelless moniker. It won’t be quite so long to wait until their next one, though: as of last month, word on the street says the band has signed with Neurot Recordings to put out another album this spring. But before we get ahead of ourselves, we’re supposed to be talking about this split 12″, containing exactly one gargantuan track by each of the two contributing bands.
Mayhem – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas Alive (self-released, 15 December 2016)
It happens every year without fail: news announcements pop up about the Mayhem tour coming to town, and my ears will invariably perk up, until I realize they don’t mean THATMayhem, but the perpetually mediocre packaged tour with the energy drink sponsor. But every single time there’s that split-second of hopefulness, because let’s be honest, it would be a huge deal if the Oslovian band who was one of the main originators of black metal as we know it (hugely influential not only for the musical style but the overall aesthetic as well, and as famous for releasing some of the genre’s most highly-regarded landmark records as for the various controversies surrounding its members’ extra-curricular activities) was coming to town, right? Well guess what, Mayhem are coming to town.
It all started as a celebration of their debut LP (still universally regarded as the pinnacle of black metal), 1994’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, which the current iteration of the group (which now consists of bassist Necrobutcher, the sole remaining founding member, though he had been separated from the band and replaced by — someone else — at the time the album was recorded and initially released; drummer Hellhammer and vocalist Attila Csihar, who have each been members for large portions of the band’s history, including taking part in that first full-length; and more recent additions Teloch and Ghul on guitar) began playing live in its entirety for the first time ever, during a European tour. That tour has continued adding additional trips to various parts of the world over the past couple of years, and at this moment Mayhem are recreating De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas on stages across North America.
This current expedition on this side of the ocean will actually be wrapping up in the very near future, but I’ll be including the remaining scheduled dates down in the comments section (along with a one-off visit set to take place next spring). But before we get there, I’d also like to share with you this recording that the band put out nearly a year ago, which originated way back at the beginning of this long series of commemorative tour dates.
WVRM – Can You Hear the Wind Howl (To Live A Lie Records, 30 September 2017)
Okay, so one day last weekend I was running out to grab some food from a nearby pizza place. And as always seems to happen, especially around this time of year, I’ve found myself falling pretty far behind with checking out all the new releases that have been sent my way — and as a result I have been trying to take advantage of any spare moments I can find to listen to stuff. That includes times when I’ll be alone in the car, no matter how short the trip might be, figuring that I’ll at least get the chance to hear a song or two and possibly get a feel for whether I’ll want to write about something here or if it’s not really my cup of tea and I’d be better off moving on. Anyway, on this particular occasion the next thing queued up on my Walkman was a recent EP by a band called WVRM who I’d later learn (I usually try to go into things without any preconceived notions wherever possible) have been around for a few years now and are based in Greenville, South Carolina.
Well, the noise that emanated from my car speakers really grabbed my attention in a hurry; I felt battered, bruised, and tossed around the whole way — and just as quickly, it was over. In fact, the sixth and final song coincidentally had concluded just as I was pulling into a parking space, so I decided it would be appropriate to listen to the whole thing again (all nine minutes and seven seconds) on the trip back home.
Anicon / Forest of Tygers – Split 7″ EP (Acteon Records, 03 October 2017)
Hey folks! How’s your day going so far? Got another one here to toss your way: a quick one this time, two different bands with one song each, right around five or six minutes apiece. Both of these — Brooklyn’s Anicon crew, and husband-and-wife team Forest of Tygers from Nashville — have been discussed around here previously, and personally I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve heard from both groups. So naturally it was exciting news when I recently learned that Acteon Records (which is run by the Tygers folks) had put out this split release of brand-new material last month!
Demon Eye – Prophecies and Lies (Soulseller Records, 11 August 2017 EU / 08 September 2017 NA)
Hey there, folks. Good afternoon/evening/whatever. Hope things are going well in your neck of the woods wherever that happens to be — sort of enjoying a lazy, quiet day here. Trying to get caught up on listening to stuff people have sent here, which is always an uphill battle. But then I noticed on my calendar that tonight, right here in Pittsburgh (specifically, at Howlers) local label Blackseed Records is putting on their Doom Over November show — with featured headliner Demon Eye, occult/traditional metal band from Raleigh, North Carolina. Recently I heard Prophecies and Lies, the group’s third album, which just came out in September via the Netherlands’ Soulseller Records (following an August release in Europe). Seemed like an ideal time to share some thoughts on the record with you folks …
Echopraxia – Pumpkin Palace (self-released, 31 October 2017)
“But Halloween was like two weeks ago,” someone will surely be whining; “why would you be writing about a Halloween-themed metal album now??” For starters: it’s my damn website and I’ll write about whatever I want to. But also: just because the calendar turns over to November doesn’t necessarily mean that celebrating All Hallow’s Eve has to come to an end — in the immortal words of The Ghost of Christmas Present, “It is the season of the spirit / the message if we hear it / is make it last all year.” And I’m pretty sure that song (“It Feels Like Christmas”) was meant to be universally applicable.
And more seriously: especially now that the clocks have changed, it’s completely black outside both walking to the bus in the morning and coming home from work in the evening, the air is often cold and foggy, everyone in the neighborhood still has a whole bunch of pumpkin-based decorations (some of which were designed vaguely enough to work for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday as well, but many of which are just the result of being too lazy to put them away and drag out the Christmas stuff already), and one evening last week I happened to hear this five-song EP during my walk home and it seemed strangely appropriate. (Not to mention, at just under twenty minutes in length, it coincided with the journey from bus stop almost perfectly.) And therefore, regardless of the actual date, I felt like sharing this music with you.