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.
Lord Mantis – Death Mask (Profound Lore Records, 29 April 2014)
Lord Mantis – NTW (New Density Records, 29 April 2016)
In early 2015, the whole world was shocked and saddened to learn that Chicagoan misanthropic miscreants Indian were calling it quits. Maybe “the whole world” is a sight exaggeration, but for myself and everyone I know, it was difficult news — especially since it came just a year after the band had released what was unquestionably their best album to date.
But then that blow was softened a bit almost immediately after, when another huge announcement shook the metal world: that closely-related Chicago band Lord Mantis had parted ways with some of its members, leaving only founding drummer Bill Bumgardner and Andrew Markuszewski who had been the lead guitarist for nearly all of that band’s releases. Augmenting this newly depleted line-up would be most of the folks who had just left Indian — in addition to Bumgardner who had also been playing drums in that band for years, ex-Indian guitarist Will Lindsay (also a member of Anatomy of Habit) would be joining on bass, and former Indian guitarist/vocalist Dylan O’Toole (who has also appeared as part of the Wrekmeister Harmonies ensemble) would now be handling Lord Mantis vocal duties. And finally, rounding out the line-up by joining Markuszewski on guitar, Scott Shellhamer of yet another great Chicago band, American Heritage.
This shakeup didn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone who’d been paying attention to the goings-on surrounding Mantis; even in the press release for their last album, 2014’s Death Mask, it mentioned rumblings of turbulence among the band’s members at that time. And the new additions seemed like a perfectly logical choice, as not only had these guys all known each other and been friends for years, but Lindsay and O’Toole had each made contributions to the band previously, including guest appearances on Death Mask.
But now, finally, the result of all of these moving pieces has come to fruition, as the first recording by the new Lord Mantis is being released tomorrow — exactly two years (to the day) after Death Mask, the band’s own New Density will unleash the EP NTW. In this article we’ll take a look at the new EP as well as the album that preceded it. And for those who would like to learn more about how all these changes have affected the band from the perspective of its members, don’t miss this interview where they’ve answered some questions provided by members of Slaves BC!
So tomorrow — Friday the 29th — the new Lord Mantis EP NTW will be released, the band’s first recorded material since their big line-up shakeup (and merger with Indian) last year. You can read all about those changes, and take a look at that new EP as well as their previous album, 2014’s Death Mask, all right here. But beyond just reading about my thoughts and reactions to this new and old material, perhaps you might be interested in learning more about what’s been going on with the band — in their own words?
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!
Seriously, though, that was my initial reaction on hearing this full album for the first time. I know it’s still very early in the year, and there will be plenty of high-quality releases yet to come (and I’ve even heard a few good ones already), so it’s ridiculous to make such a proclamation at this point. But I can assure you this record will definitely end up in my Top 16 list, probably very close to the top of that list. Because it’s that good.
Aethyr – Corpus (Cimmerian Shade Recordings, 19 February 2015)
Hello, Readers, and welcome to yet another paradisiac Monday. I could bore you all with another long intro filled with whining about being stuck back at work again after another too-short weekend, but today I’m choosing not to. Instead, I would like to pass along with you some interesting food for thought — something that was published last week, but I came across this morning on the bus when I saw that our fellow metal journalists at Broken Amp had shared it on Facebook. This article on Last Rites entitled “Heavy Metal in the Modern Age” discusses the role of the Internet in terms of the music industry — not just as the instrument that killed most of the previous infrastructure and completely transformed the existing business models, but as a tool that has leveled the playing field and removed many of the obstacles that were in place for bands, while offering far greater access and connectivity to fans. Much of the article, though, also relates to the changing role of the media outlets in this new superconnected world. Too often, says the author, websites are so busy clambering over each other to be the first to jump onto the bandwagon of the Next Big Thing that they forget to take the time to enjoy the music.
I can relate to a lot of what is said here: this new “level playing field” environment certainly lends itself to an overwhelming amount of materials available out there, and the absence of some of the former obstacles does result in a much wider range in terms of the quality of what ends up getting disseminated out there. But as I’ve stated in the past, I don’t mind wading through all the junk that exists, because the feeling of unexpectedly coming across something truly amazing more than makes up for it. Out of necessity — since this website is mostly a single-person operation with some rare exceptions — it takes a lot of time to go through everything that comes my way, so I hardly ever find myself playing the get-it-written-as-far-as-possible-before-the-release-date game. Rather, (as I’ve occasionally noted when writing about various albums) I sometimes will spend months (or longer!) enjoying something before I actually get the opportunity to write about it. But I don’t look at this as being negative; just because something has already passed its release date doesn’t mean it no longer needs to be promoted, or that it can no longer find its way to an appreciative audience’s ears. So this article has made me feel like my approach is somewhat vindicated. In any case, I will continue to share with you Readers as I come across things I feel are worth sharing.
For example, I’ve got something for you today from a Russian doom metal band called Aethyr. Here again is the link to that Last Rites article; you can bookmark it for later or you can check it out now and come back when you’ve finished. Either way, you won’t want to miss this….
Anatomy of Habit – Ciphers + Axioms (Relapse Records, 10 November 2014)
Good afternoon, how is everyone out there? Myself, I’ve just finished my third cup of coffee (or was it the fourth?) and somehow I still feel like I could nod off any second. I did manage to sleep at least five hours last night — more than usual — which is a good thing. For a while, I’d been concerned I’d start seeing hallucinations.
Now, I’m just wondering if I’m hearing hallucinations. Yeah, I know, that was terrible. Sorry, but I just don’t have the energy to come up with a decent segue today. If you have a problem with it, you can write your own reviews.
Anyway, we’ll pretend that was a really smooth transition, and that brings me to what I wanted to share with you today. Again I’ve dipped into my extensive to-do list, and come up with this delightful little album that Relapse Records had unleashed on the world late last year. A bit strange, but it quickly grew on me, and I’ve come to really enjoy it a lot over the past several months. I’ve got a feeling that maybe some of you will, too.