Wrekmeister Harmonies – The Alone Rush (Thrill Jockey Records, 13 April 2018)
As you may recall, Wrekmeister Harmonies hit our Top 15 of 2015 List with their enormously epic outing Night of Your Ascension, with its dozens of contributors and guest stars. Since that time, the eclectic collective has been distilled down to just the duo of founder JR Robinson and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Esther Shaw (the same pair who toured under the Wrekmeister name following that album, performing half of a set alone and the other half with Bell Witch as their backing band).
Also since that time, these two people have dealt with a variety of hardships and sorrows, culminating in a relocation from Chicago to Astoria, Oregon — and a lengthy period spent healing (metally and emotionally) as well as composing, which Robinson referred to as a “cult like affair, just the two of us, thinking the similar thoughts and working them out with hours and hours of conversation, totally alone.”
The result was The Alone Rush, released last month, in which only Robinson and Shaw perform, along with drums by Thor Harris.
Vile Creature – Cast of Static and Smoke (Halo of Flies (US) / Dry Cough (UK), 09 March 2018)
Today we’ve got another album review for you — and a worthy follow-up to yesterday’s, as this one also contains long, low-tempoed tracks filled with filthy noise and despair. Although it’s actually their second full-length, Cast of Static and Smoke is the first output I’ve heard from these self-described “two weird queer kids with lofty ambitions.” But from that very first listen, Vile Creature grabbed my attention and never let it go throughout four tracks spanning nearly three-quarters of an hour. Let’s dig right in, eh?
Bell Witch – Four Phantoms (Profound Lore Records, 28 April 2015)
For those who may have missed the news, I’m very sad to report that yesterday we learned of a monumental loss to the music world, in the passing of Adrian Guerra, co-founder of Seattle doom duo Bell Witch, co-writer of all of that band’s material to date, and former drummer/vocalist (up through summer 2015).
After that time, his position behind the kit had been replaced by Jesse Shreibman, including on the band’s most recent tour where they pulled double duty — playing a full set of their own in addition to serving as the backing band for Wrekmeister Harmonies. But from the band’s inception through its formative years, it was Guerra and bassist/vocalist Dylan Desmond from their groundbreaking 2011 demo (incidentally, one of the very first reviews ever published on this website, back in December of that year) up through and including last year’s Profound Lore full-length Four Phantoms.
In honor and in memory of the co-creator of some of the greatest and most moving music to have reached my ears over the past five years, today I’ve decided to present you with a discussion about that latest album, the last one to feature the original Bell Witch line-up. Rest in peace Adrian, and our thoughts and sympathy are with your friends and family, colleagues and former band members.
Ghold – Of Ruin (Ritual Productions, 16 March 2015)
Ghold – Pyr (Ritual Productions, 06 May 2016)
Hello out there — how is your Tuesday going? It’s almost time to go home and I’m totally ready for a nap. I feel pretty confident in saying I will probably be passed out on the bus ride home, if I even make it that far. And there’s another hockey game tonight, so if there’s going to be any hope of me staying awake to see that, maybe a late afternoon nap wouldn’t be the worst idea.
Before I go, though, it’s about time to share some more listening material with you fine people. Today that will consist of a pair of albums — one a little over a year old, the other released just four days ago — both by London stoner-sludge-grunge-noise band Ghold …
Writhe – The Shrouded Grove (self-released, 22 September 2014)
“One-man black metal band” — or perhaps to be more accurate, “one-man black metal project.” What do you think of when you hear (read) those words? It sort of makes my skin crawl just to type them. In my line of work (expert music-opinion-haver), the phrase almost always means bad news: some kid who lives in his parents basement downloaded some pirated sound editing software onto his Macbook, cut-and-pasted the same generic drumbeat for twelve minutes, plugged his crappy guitar directly into the line-in input, screamed some stuff about the Impending Conquest of the Dark Lord Urkel Grue into the built-in laptop mic, and then ran the whole thing through some cheesy preset distortion plug-in. Then found some old black-and-white picture of some old buildings using Google image search, photoshopped some nonsense like “Desolation of Solitude” (using Parchment font) onto it, and then emailed it all to me. The message probably started out by saying “Infernal Hailz.” Never a good sign.
But today — surprise!! — I’m going to introduce you to something that goes against all of those stereotypes…
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!
Crawl – Crawl Demo (self-released, 12 October 2012)
So who’s in the mood for some heavy doom with a nice dose of southern sludge??
Don’t bother answering that; it was a rhetorical question. Here we go…
There have been a few bands called Crawl over the years, but this one formed in Atlanta, in spring 2012. Most of what I hear coming out of Georgia nowadays is rather fuzzy and stonery; it’s clear these guys draw from SOME of the same influences as their fellow statesmen, but they also incorporate some darker elements of west coast doom and the weightiness of gulf coast sludge, for an amalgam that’s definitely worth checking out.