News Update: Four Albums and a Kickstarter

 
Happy Monday, folks! Not sure how many of you out there are hockey fans — and specifically, fans of North America’s NHL. Maybe some people reading this were in bed by a perfectly reasonable hour last night and got an adequate amount of sleep. Not me; I was far too busy reveling in watching my hometown team capture the league championship for the second consecutive year, and all of the trophy presentation ceremonies and the other assorted festivities that go along with that, until way WAY past my regular bedtime. So it might be fair to say I’ll be slowly easing my way into this week, and mostly using today to get caught up on some stuff. In that spirit, I’ll skip doing any reviews today, but I’ll take the opportunity to pass along some recent news items that just might pique your interest …

 

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Pilgrim – II: Void Worship (2014); Blizaro – Cornucopia della Morte (2016)

Pilgrim - Void Worship

PilgrimII: Void Worship (Metal Blade Records, 01 April 2014)

 

IVR056 - BLIZARO - Cornucopia della Morte

BlizaroCornucopia della Morte (I, Voidhanger Records, 15 April 2016)

 

Hey! Did you enjoy Monday’s post about old-school occult/doom metal? I hope you did, because [[SPOILER ALERT]] there’s plenty more where that came from. Today we’ll be taking a look at another pair of bands who fit that description: Pilgrim and Blizaro.

As it turns out, each of these bands will be joining together with Castle on a handful of their upcoming tour dates (which we had discussed yesterday); one of the shows Blizaro is scheduled to play (July 31st in Pittsburgh) also will feature Brimstone Coven; a few lucky people will get the chance to see both Blizaro AND Pilgrim together. Further details about all this will be tucked into the comment section below, so be sure to check that out. But first, let’s talk about some music …

 

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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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Druids – Cycles of Mobeum; If These Trees Could Talk – The Bones of a Dying World (2016)

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DruidsCycles of Mobeum (Sump Pump Records, 03 June 2016)

 

If These Trees Could Talk - The Bones of a Dying World

If These Trees Could TalkThe Bones of a Dying World (Metal Blade Records, 03 June 2016)

 

Okay people, today let’s take a look at another two bands. Both of these are American — one from the Hawkeye State, the other from the Buckeye State — and each of them will be releasing the third album of their respective careers tomorrow (Friday the 3rd). When I came across these two albums recently, it was my first time listening to either of these bands, but right away I found them both to be quite enjoyable (albeit in different ways). I’ve got a feeling you may agree. So let’s get started, shall we?

 

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Six Feet Under – Crypt of the Devil (2015), Graveyard Classics IV (2016)

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Six Feet UnderCrypt of the Devil (Metal Blade Records, 05 May 2015)

 

Six Feet Under - Graveyard Classics IV

Six Feet UnderGraveyard Classics IV: The Number of the Priest (Metal Blade Records, 27 May 2016)

 

Okay, here’s my story. About fifteen or sixteen years ago, the file-sharing software Napster had hit its prime. The MP3 file format had been around for a few years, and it was a revolutionary new way to store and transfer digital audio due to the way it compressed data, which meant that over a relatively decent dial-up connection, it became possible to download a song in a matter of several minutes rather than hours. But coinciding with the rise of the Napster service, cable or DSL internet services were becoming increasingly widespread among household users — and while these broadband connections couldn’t compare with the direct lines found in larger businesses or colleges (or even with the high-speed options available in homes today), this increased upload and download speeds exponentially: now (depending on the speed of the specific peer-to-peer connection), that same MP3 file could usually be downloaded in less time than it would take you to listen to the song it contained. There was still plenty of technological advances yet to come, to the point where you can now go to Bandcamp and download an entire album in about thirty seconds or less, but compared with the way things had been for years prior, this was a pretty amazing development.

At that time, I was just into my early twenties, and very eager to learn about all the music that was out there for me to discover. No longer limited to what was available on the radio or MTV, there was a whole new world now accessible with just a few keystrokes and mouse clicks. And so I set out to fill my ears with everything I possibly could. Wikipedia was still in its infancy then, and the Encyclopaedia Metallum had not yet been launched, but I remember finding an invaluable source of information at the now-defunct CDNow.com — which, at the time, was basically the music store equivalent of Amazon.com, who was still primarily involved in selling only books. CDNow had fairly extensive biographical information for most of the artists whose music they sold, and also had an excellent system of recommendations — a series of rabbit holes through which I spend many, many hours wandering. Between all of that online research, and sometimes just stumbling upon random things in the course of conducting Napster searches, I had started to amass quite a sizable library of music, in an ever-broadening range of styles.

The point of all this is that at some time — I guess it was probably around early 2001 — I happened upon a death metal version of Dead Kennedys‘ “California Über Alles” by a band called Six Feet Under, which I thought was well-done, in a somewhat amusing, tongue-in-cheek kind of way. As it turns out, just before this (specifically, in October 2000), the band had released an album called Graveyard Classics which was entirely made up of cover versions of old-school rock, punk, and metal songs — so naturally when I tried searching for more of their material, these were the songs that popped up most often: “Sweet Leaf,” “In League with Satan,” and so on. At the time I didn’t know anything about Six Feet Under, although I did learn that it had first launched as a side project of Chris Barnes who had been the vocalist for Cannibal Corpse. Now that was a band I was at least somewhat familiar with, as a high school classmate had introduced me to their highly disturbing brand of extreme metal back in the early- or mid-90s. Anyway, given that limited amount of information, and the selection of songs I had been finding available for download (for what it’s worth, I later did end up buying a copy of Graveyard Classics), the natural conclusion I drew at that time was that apparently Six Feet Under was essentially the Me First and the Gimme Gimmes of death metal …

I don’t remember exactly when, but eventually I learned the full story behind the band — that they do have original material as well, and that Barnes had decided to shift all his energy here after being expelled from Cannibal Corpse following their first few albums (and not long after forming this side project), for reasons that vary depending on which version of the story you hear, but which may have included being more interested in marijuana than in being seriously committed to the band. Whether there’s any truth to that could be debated endlessly, but I’ve always found it a bit peculiar that there might have been an issue with someone’s seriousness when it comes to membership in a band whose lyrics and titles were so offensive that it was almost cartoonish, and whose artwork was so absurdly graphic that their albums were normally sold mostly (or even entirely) covered with a plain cardboard sleeve. But anyway, none of that is really relevant here — we’re here to discuss Six Feet Under, who have always seemed to (at least at some level) embrace the inherent silliness of the extreme death metal genre — especially when it comes to tackling cover songs that are often, as I noted earlier, clearly intended to be at least somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

 

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Graves at Sea / Sourvein – Split EP (2014), Sourvein – Aquatic Occult (2016)

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Graves at Sea / SourveinSplit EP (Seventh Rule Recordings, 13 May 2014)

 

Sourvein - Aquatic Occult

SourveinAquatic Occult (Metal Blade, 08 April 2016)

 

Hello and good afternoon, longtime friends and first-time visitors. I hope your Monday has been, at minimum, tolerable. From this side, “Today I didn’t even have to strangle anyone with their own phone cord or throw my computer through the cubicle wall out of frustration / I got to say it was a good day.”

Anyway, whatever kind of day you’re having, get ready for some positive, uplifting vibes to be coming your way from the music I have here to share with you. Now, that music is going to start with Graves at Sea, and for those who’ve heard the full-length they put out earlier this month (reviewed here), you’ll be able to tell right away that last statement was at least partly sarcastic. (For those who haven’t heard it, what the hell are you waiting for? Go read that review, or even better, check them out in person during their tour that starts tonight in Atlanta!)

The remainder of this article will be about material — some of it a couple years old, some from just a few days ago — by the southern sludgery cesspit Sourvein; although it may not seem that way, this is (supposedly) where the positivity comes into the equation. Or at least truthfulness and realism. Off we go …

 

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Amon Amarth – Jomsviking (2016)

Amon Amarth - Jomsviking

Amon AmarthJomsviking (Metal Blade, 25 March 2016)

 

Well, it seems like this really turned into a week filled with black metal (or some form or variant of blackened-whatever), didn’t it? That wasn’t on purpose or anything, there just happened to be a few interesting things within that realm that I had wanted to share with you. But today we’ll be turning in a completely different direction: Viking metal!

(That was a little joke to piss off the Internet Metal Nerds, because the subject of whether Viking metal is really a thing, and if it is, how it should be classified, has been discussed endlessly, without ever really reaching a conclusion except for the fact that, as typified by bands like Enslaved and Bathory, it’s [somewhat] widely accepted as a subset of the black metal genre.)

But that’s not what we’re here to talk about at all — today’s topic is more along the lines of melodic/epic/anthemic metal. But I mean, look at that album cover (above)! Listen to the music (there will be previews near the end of the article)! Look at that photo of this band’s incredible stage setup from when I saw them a few years ago (below)! Despite their name (which means “Mount Doom,” a reference to the volcano from the Lord of the Rings books and movies), everything about Amon Amarth just screams “Viking metal”! What else would you call them?

In any case, this bunch of Swedes have a brand new album (their tenth) coming out tomorrow, so we’re going to take a look at that. Also, they’re coming back to the U.S. and Canada in about two weeks, marauding their way across the continent throughout April and May, so be sure to take a peek down at the comment section below where I’ll include the full list of those tour dates…

 

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