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.
Since then, both bands have undergone line-up changes — Hivelords now features two new guitarists (including Evan Void, formerly half of that band’s frequent tourmatesSadgiqacea), and Tombs has replaced some of its members on at least two occasions (also, coincidentally, including new guitarist Evan Void) resulting in essentially a wholesale overhaul for that band.
And now, these two bands will be performing together on a series of dates, the details of which will be shared with you as you continue reading below. Further down, we’re also including the remainder of Hivelords‘ currently announced dates through mid-summer; and finally, details specific to both bands’ stop in Pittsburgh next Saturday, including your chance to WIN FREE TICKETS to that show!
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?
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.