Völur – Disir (Prophecy Productions, 24 June 2016)
Völur – Ancestors (Prophecy Productions, 02 June 2017)
Hey folks! The Shadow Frost festival that we talked about recently starts tomorrow and runs through the next day. Whomst among you are headed to Maryland for this event? That’s a pretty enticing line-up, huh?
So having said that, today seemed like an appropriate time to delve into a pair of albums by Torontonian trio Völur that I’ve been meaning to discuss ever since they first caught my attention several years ago. Not an ideal time to write about them, of course, as that would have been actually in 2016 and in 2017 (respectively) when they came out — but nevertheless, an appropriate time. Here we go!
The Night Watch – An Embarrassment of Riches (self-released, 15 November 2019)
Hey, everybody. It’s time to check in on instrumental quartet The Night Watch, whose members include violinist Evan Runge and guitarist Nathanael Larochette (both of whom are also part of the neo-folk trio Musk Ox, featured here), plus Matthew Cowan on bass and Daniel Mollema on drums/percussion.
As you may recall, we wrote about Boundaries, the thirty-plus-minute piece of music that was their second album (here), when it was released back in 2016.
Anyway, that same cast of characters is back (with the drummer sometimes hitting the ebonies and ivories as well, this time around) with a third full-length, just released last month: An Embarrassment of Riches. Still essentially an instrumental venture, although this one does occasionally feature some choral vocals — credited to all four instrumentalists plus a host of guests, this record is sequenced a little more traditionally than its predecessor, in that it’s broken into several individual tracks rather than a single album-length composition.
Bison – You Are Not the Ocean You Are the Patient (Pelagic Records, EU: 23 June 2017 / NA: 07 July 2017)
Bison – Earthbound (2007; reissued by No List Records, 20 April 2018)
A little over a week ago, while talking about Denmark’s LLNN, we happened to mention that they would be touring across Europe with Bison. Well, that’s still happening, and so it seemed like a fine time to discuss that particular Canadian quartet.
Known as Bison B.C. for several years after their original formation in 2006, both to emphasize their British Columbian heritage and to differentiate from another group named for the large North American ruminant, the band decided to drop the extraneous initials about five years ago, going by the more streamlined moniker ever since.
Last summer, the Ocean-run German label Pelagic released the latest Bison full-length — their fourth overall — while last month saw No List reissuing the group’s long-out-of-print debut EP (since used CDs are going for outrageous prices online), including being pressed on vinyl for the first time ever! Here we’ll give a listen to both of those, and then down at the bottom of the page you can check out the rest of the places these Vancouverites will be visiting in eastern/central Europe!
Heron – A Low Winter’s Sun (Sludgelord Records, 13 April 2018)
Ever notice how many really great bands there are, who are named after birds? I mean, just off the top of my head: Vulture, Cormorant, Mockingbird, Wren… and I guess to a lesser extent, Counting Crows? Anyway, it’s time to add Vancouver (BC)’s Heron to that list.
Surprisingly graceful for their size, as well as extremely stealthy and patient hunters, the heron is already no stranger to cover art (both dead and alive*), so it totally makes sense for a metal band to use that name. Just released yesterday, Heron‘s debut album is one of the first few put out by the relatively new Sludgelord Records, and it’s one I’d highly recommend you check out.
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?
We’ve covered Canadian bands plenty of times around here, but I’m pretty sure this is the first from New Brunswick. Zaum have been around since about 2013 and last fall’s Eidolon was their second full-length, but somehow this dynamic duo of doom had escaped my attention until the recent announcement that they’ll be hitting the road for an August tour across their homeland.
Having done some pretty extensive touring over the years but mainly in Europe, the dates for this large-scale Canuck tour (also featuring Ontario’s Flying Fortress) will be listed down below, after we’ve listened to Eidolon!
Begrime Exemious – The Enslavement Conquest (Dark Descent Records, 04 March 2016)
Good afternoon. About three years ago, Edmonton-based filthy death metal squad Begrime Exemious ventured south across the border into these United States, in celebration of which I had dug out their album from two years prior (Visions of the Scourge) to write about it at that time. Well, there have been reports of another stirring from the north — apparently the horde is on the move again — and so it seemed like an appropriate time to share with you a few things the band has done since the last time. Ironically, the first of these was actually released just a couple of months after the previous review was published. And the other came out early last year — so by historical standards I’m actually pretty far ahead of the game by sharing that one with you now! Anyway, please direct your eyes and ears to the following — and then see the comments section for a list of cities slated for begriming.