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.
Neurosis – Fires Within Fires (Neurot Recordings, 23 September 2016)
So Neurosis are heading out on tour RIGHT NOW. That news by itself will immediately be a huge deal to most people who read this sentence. They’re only hitting a handful of cities across the northeastern U.S. (and southeastern Canada) over the next week and a half, but this is a band that infreuquently performs live in the first place, and very rarely visits the east coast outside the context of a larger music festival (such as Baltimore’s Days of Darkness which they’ll be headlining in October). So, yeah.
But sometimes when it comes to bands that have been around seemingly forever (well over thirty years, in this case) and have achieved a near-universal legendary status (at least, for these guys, among the majority of fans of post-hardcore/sludge metal), it’s easy to forget that there are some folks out there who may not already be intimately familiar with them. Easy to just assume that everyone knows them, disregarding the fact that there’s always somebody who has yet to make that big discovery.
After all, though, that’s the whole point of writing about music: to help someone learn about something that could potentially be life-changing. The About page of this website describes exactly that — while also referencing a particular time period of exploration for myself, which in that narrative was described as “The Napster Years,” but frankly a huge part of my own rebirth as a metal music fan directly resulted from finding Relapse Records CD samplers (like this one and this one) at a local record store (more info here and here for the younger readers). Interestingly, three of the artists that had really jumped out at younger me and grabbed my attention are ones I have written about here, just this month: Today is the Day, Dying Fetus, and now, Neurosis.
Specifically, there were a couple of songs from the band’s then-new album A Sun that Never Sets which I bought not long afterwards, and which was — front-to-back — one of the most amazing things I’d ever experienced. So in light of all that, I’m pleased to present — to any of you who may not have heard this yet — their latest release, 2016’s Fires Within Fires.
Body Count – Bloodlust (Century Media Records, 31 March 2017)
Some of our younger readers may recognize Ice-T as the curmudgeonly old guy in the “It’s Lemonade” commercials, or maybe they’ll recall his stints as a reality tv star (here and here). Perhaps he’ll even seem familiar from his portrayal of a police officer on Law & Order: SVU. But before he was gracing screens small and big (and by the way, his acting career has included roles as cops dating back more than a quarter-century), the man born as Tracy Marrow in New Jersey (and then raised in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles) made quite a name for himself as a hugely influential part of the music industry.
Known primarily as one of the innovators who helped to shape the gangster rap genre, with songs like “6 ‘N the Morning,” he later formed the group Body Count with some high school friends who shared an affinity for hard rock music — introducing the band on a self-titled track on his 1991 album O.G. Original Gangster before they came out with a full-length self-titled album the following year.
They have been heavily influenced by fellow Californian contemporaries in the worlds of thrash (like Slayer) and especially crossover (like Suicidal Tendencies) — but for years I’ve seen a lot of negativity expressed towards these guys within the so-called “metal community,” from some of its more closed-minded individuals. Whether that’s a refusal to acknowledge rap or hip hop artists as genuine musicians, or a xenophobic reaction to a perceived “outsider” tresspassing into the “scene” — well, Ice-T‘s spoken-word intro to the original “Body Count” song can be applicable in both directions: “You know, as far as I’m concerned, music is music. I don’t look at it as rock or R&B, all that kind of stuff, I just look at it as music. […] But I do what I like, I happen to like rock ‘n roll. And I feel sorry for anybody who only listens to one form of music.”
Borracho – Atacama (Kozmik Artifactz, 02 December 2016 CD/digital, 10 March 2017 vinyl)
Beastmaker – Inside the Skull (Rise Above Records, 19 May 2017)
Hey folks, let’s take a look at some recent (and semi-recent) releases from another two bands who are appearingwere scheduled to appear at this weekend’s Maryland Doom Fest, one of whom will still be performing* — specifically, they’re both kicking off the festivities Thursday night at the Pre Fest Party. Representing the east coast, D.C.-area heavy-fuzz dealers Borracho, clearly no strangers to this website, dropped their third full-length at the tail end of 2016, while left coast doomsters Beastmaker saw the release of their second LP just last month. Listening to either of these would absolutely be time well-spent, so please feel free to continue reading …
Beastmaker has announced that they will be unable to make it to this year’s Doom Fest. Borracho is still slated to be there Thursday night!
It’s Monday and I’m tired and crabby and I don’t really want to be here and I just want to punch everything and everyone right in the damn face. It probably wouldn’t be advisable to do so, because there’s a good chance I’d end up losing my job — and despite what you might think based on how much bitching and complaining I do, that would probably not be a good thing. So as per usual, I’m stuck keeping all that annoyance and rage bottled up inside, with no real outlet through which to channel it. The best I can do is try to calm my nerves by grabbing a pair of headphones and blocking the whole world out with something loud and angry and particularly ugly. In fact, looking ahead at the schedule for the rest of this week, #SpoilerAlert, there’s going to be a lot of angry and ugly going on. So stay tuned for that.
To start off the week, we’re going to visit with St. Louis ultra-doom trio Fister. It’s been nearly three years since I wrote about their Gemini album on the day they were coming here to Pittsburgh with their friends and neighbors The Lion’s Daughter. At that time I had mentioned that there was quite a bit of stuff in the Fister discography, including a split record with The Lion’s Daughter, and that I had chosen to listen to Gemini (and share it with you folks) simply because it had been their most recent release at the time. Well those guys have continued to be pretty active since then, both touring and recording, and I figured it’s about time we checked back with them.
In particular, I thought we could take some time to check out a couple more records that have come out over the past two months. (There’s much more out there on Bandcamp, if you’re curious, but for practical reasons I had to limit myself to two releases to discuss today.) The first will be a split 7″ with Teeth from California, and the other is a split with Dopethrone from Montréal.
Castle – Welcome to the Graveyard (Ván Records, 15 July 2016)
Good afternoon, all you fine people visiting the Valley. Things have gotten a little bit hectic around here recently — I’ll never understand what it is that makes people want to go on vacation in the summertime when it’s so gross and hot and humid outside. Given the choice, I’d rather sit in an air-conditioned office all day, and save days off for later when I really don’t feel like going. Not that much writing happens while I’m at work anyhow, I’m plenty busy enough doing my actual job, but I usually at least can spend the day listening to stuff, and jotting down some little notes that I can turn into a full article or review later. But sometimes lately I haven’t had much chance to even think, let alone formulate coherent sentences.
But as always, there’s tons of stuff happening in the music world, new releases to tell you about, older stuff that you may have missed but really deserves your attention, tours kicking off that just might be coming through your city. And this will be a blend of all of those things: one band whose new album comes out next month, and who started a tour (that will last pretty much all summer long!) just last week; another band who released an excellent album two years ago but somehow we never got around to sharing it with you, and who will be joining the first band for a handful of those shows in a few weeks. So keep on reading, you’ll hear some great music, and the full set of dates for each band will be listed down below in the comments …
Stellar Descent – Fading (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.