Body Count – Bloodlust (2017)

Body CountBloodlust (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.”

 
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Borracho – Atacama (2016-17), Beastmaker – Inside the Skull (2017)

BorrachoAtacama (Kozmik Artifactz, 02 December 2016 CD/digital, 10 March 2017 vinyl)

 

BeastmakerInside 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 appearing were 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!

 

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Fister / Teeth Split; Fister / Dopethrone Split (2016)

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Fister / TeethSplit (Broken Limbs Recordings, 29 April 2016)

 

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Fister / DopethroneSplit (Riff Dealer Records, 11 May 2016)

 

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.

 

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Brimstone Coven – Self-titled (2014); Castle – Welcome to the Graveyard (2016)

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Brimstone CovenBrimstone Coven (Metal Blade Records, 05 August 2014)

 

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CastleWelcome 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 …

 

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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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Anopheli – The Ache of Want (2015), Akem Manah – Demons of the Sabbat (2016)

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Anopheli The Ache of Want (Halo of Flies, 15 December 2015)

 

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Akem ManahDemons of the Sabbat (Possession Productions, 11 January 2016)

 

Well folks, it seemed like it would never get here, but finally it’s Friday and nearly the end of the week! I don’t know about you, but I am fully ready to just go and hibernate for two entire days. (Of course, I won’t, because it seems like every spare minute I get outside of work is always filled by repairing something in our house or car, sometimes both at the same time — but just let me have this moment to daydream, ok?) Before I do that, I’ll leave you with one more article about some music you just might want to check out.

I’ve got two different albums to share with you, actually — one is kind of an atmospheric blackened crust style, and the other is more of an old-school death-doom. Both of these were released within the past several months, and both are free to download, so keep on reading and hopefully you’ll find at least one of these to your liking!

 

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Stangala – Klañv, Blaak Heat – Shifting Mirrors (2016)

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StangalaKlañv (Finisterian Dead End, 24 March 2016)

 

Blaak Heat - Shifting Mirrors_album cover

Blaak HeatShifting Mirrors (EU: Svart Records, 15 April 2016 | US/world: Tee Pee Records, 13 May 2016)

 

Hello out there, readers! Welcome to a new month, with more new music to send your way. Today I’d like to share a pair of recent albums (one of which is still about ten days away from its release in America and the rest of the world, but both have been out in Europe for a few weeks now) which are both filled with uniquely avant-garde variations on psychedelic-doom-rock. Good stuff, I think you’ll enjoy these.

But first I just wanted to share a thought I had, while walking down the hill to the bus stop at way-too-damn-early-o-clock this morning, still half-dazed from another late-night playoff hockey game last night. As a word of warning, this is Game of Thrones-related, so if you aren’t one of the millions currently watching that HBO phenomenon, this won’t interest you, so feel free to skip ahead, just below the next photo will be the music-relevant stuff.

For the rest of you: this isn’t anything earth-shattering or anything (and there won’t be any spoilers — no new information directly related to the latest episode or current season), just something that happened to pop into my head that I wanted to write somewhere before I forgot it. I don’t have a tv show website, so I had to put it here.

Anyway, so many events with potentially huge implications transpired in this week’s episode, it’ll take a while to sort it all out. And some of the storylines, even major ones, might even have fallen between the cracks because there was just so much to pay attention to! One of the main plots right now is the Bolton family’s rather tenuous hold on the North — a huge area of stubbornly traditional folks, many of whom probably retain loyalty to the House of Stark.

A large part of the current Bolton story, over the past couple of seasons, has revolved around the lineage of heirs to family head Lord Roose, who had declared himself Warden of the North, taking over the estate at Winterfell after the slaying of King Robb Stark. Specifically, Roose’s only living son has been the bastard-born Ramsay Snow, until it was discovered that the Warden’s new wife was expecting a baby. Of course this would be cause for concern for Ramsay: even author George R. R. Martin himself has stated that the legitimization of a bastard child happens so rarely, there really aren’t explicit legal precedents for determining how one would fit within the hierarchy of ascendancy — particularly if there should be a younger, natural-born son. Would a naturalized bastard simply be inserted among other offspring based on birth order? Or would all legitimate children come first regardless of age, then the bastard-born, before the line of succession would move on to uncles or more distant relatives? No one really knows, until such a thing would actually take place.

In this case, the questions run even deeper. Even absent the possible threat from a younger (but born in wedlock) half-sibling, and notwithstanding any promises or assurances Roose might make to his son, the fact remains that a bastard can only be legitimized by an official royal decree. The documentation that officially made him Ramsay Bolton, you’ll recall, was signed by the current occupant of the Iron Throne: King Tommon Baratheon by name, but as viewers (and practically everyone in the show as well) are aware, like his siblings, this “king” is only related to the late King Robert Baratheon because their mother had been married to him; since his parentage is exclusively of the Lannister family, Tommon is in actuality just as much a bastard as Ramsay Snow had ever been.

With the Northerners’ allegiance probably torn between the Boltons and Starks, one thing they all share is a mistrust and lack of respect for the Lannisters, particularly one who is falsely wearing a crown, calling himself the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. So my theory is that very soon, Ramsay’s legitimization documentation will be called into question by his fellow countrymen, throwing the leadership of the North into an even more chaotic state than it is already. As they say, “The North Remembers” …

Well, that’s it for now; we’ll returning to our regularly scheduled programming. Anyone who has anything to add to the discussion can hit the comments section below. Or if you think I should just shut the hell up and stick with writing about music, feel free to say so.

 

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