Oak Pantheon – From a Whisper (2012)

Oak PantheonFrom a Whisper (Broken Limbs Recordings, 25 September 2012)

 

Winter can be pretty stressful at times: for someone who has to commute long distances on a daily basis, wondering how long traffic delays might be during inclement weather, whether the worst of a storm will come earlier than predicted before arriving safely at home, which steep hill that leads home is more likely to have been plowed or salted more recently; for someone who has to walk to and from the bus stop, afraid that hiding under that snow or on that poorly-lit section of sidewalk may be a treacherous patch of ice, that maybe it will be possible to maintain balance in the event of slipping or skidding, but if not, will the result just be a few bruises again, or something much worse this time?; and for someone who lives in an old house wherein everything seems to be falling apart all at once, where it seems that the scarcely-adequate amount of heat coughed out by the ancient furnace just goes straight through poorly insulated windows.

I imagine there are lots of folks out there who can relate to many of these concerns, or at least some variation of them. But we’re going to put all of that out of mind today, because we’re coming back from a weekend full of atypically mild weather — at least here in western Pennsylvania — and even at four o’clock this morning when I left for work it was lovely outside (relatively speaking), with a pleasant, warm-ish breeze. Anyway. Having said all of that, now perhaps we can look at some of the more positive aspects of winter. For example, if you don’t have to travel anywhere (and if you’re sufficiently bundled up), walking through the woods and seeing all the snow-covered trees can be sort of pretty. Also it’s generally an appropriate environment for listening to black metal, particularly of the atmospheric or pastoral varieties. Also… nah, that’s all I can think of, just those two things.

It just so happens there’s an excellent album full of exactly the right type of sounds for this time of year — one that came out a little over three years ago and I’ve been listening to it quite a bit (especially during the wintertime) since then, and that I’ve always meant to share with you people but somehow just never got to it yet. I suppose that, as they say, there’s no time like the present…

 

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Fen – Dustwalker (2013)

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FenDustwalker (Code666, 21 January 2013)

 

Hey, people. It’s time once again to take a little stroll back in time — all the way to last year. I am determined to finish reviewing everything on my top albums of 2013 list before the end of 2014, and with this one I’m publishing today, I’ll officially reach the halfway point! No worries, there are still over three months for me to work through the rest of these (while still somehow trying to keep up with newer stuff, too). Oh well, I’ll get there eventually (hopefully). It just gets kind of frustrating sometimes, especially when bands keep putting out newer stuff faster than I can keep up with them — as is the case with UK atmospheric/progressive black metal band Fen (not to be confused with the Canadian prog-rock band of the same name). They’ve just announced that their fourth LP Carrion Skies will be coming out this November through Code666, which is exciting news for sure, but first I need to share their awesome THIRD album Dustwalker with you!

I publicized some of the details about this album when they were first announced, nearly two years ago, and I have been really enjoying listening to it ever since it was released (about three months after that). I’d say it’s about time I got around to following up and writing about the album itself!

 

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Out Tomorrow: Icy Black Metal On Waldgeflüster’s Third Album

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WaldgeflüsterMeine Fesseln (Bindrune Recordings, 10 January 2014)

 

This week has seen a wave of record-breaking cold all across North America, with sub-zero HIGH temperatures in some places, as well as dangerously low wind-chill factors that prompted widespread closures of schools and businesses in many areas. Those of us who weren’t fortunate enough to be able to stay home under several blankets could be seen bundled in as many layers as possible while still being able to walk, in a vain attempt to protect against the freezing winds. The point I’m trying to make is, it’s been pretty damn cold around here.

And so, I couldn’t imagine a more appropriate time than this, for a new album to be released by the German one-man black metal contingent Waldgeflüster (just that name — which approximately translates to “whispering woods” — evokes images of icy cold darkness). The full-length due out tomorrow (10 January) from Bindrune Recordings will be the third overall from the project, which consists chiefly of a guy called Winterherz (“Winter Heart”). Comprising seven tracks in all, and lasting just over an hour, new album Meine Fesseln (“My Shackles”) also includes contributions from a variety of other musicians, including Austin Lunn of Panopticon (mandolin, vocals, and guitar solos) and Johan Becker of Austaras (violin), among others. Incidentally, Johan has also appeared on Panopticon recordings, and both he and Austin happened to have guest spots on Vit‘s The Dry Season — which had just been released when I spoke with that band’s drummer prior to last year’s Winter’s Wake festival in Pittsburgh; furthermore, Johan had accompanied Vit at that performance, and shortly afterwards he mentioned to me that he was working on a few other upcoming projects at that time — which happened to be my first time hearing of Waldgeflüster. Not that any of that has any particular relevance to this review (or to anything at all); I just thought I’d share some trivia with you.

 

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The VoS Top 11 of 2011 – Published at No Clean Singing

Hey.  You should already know this, because you should already be reading the No Clean Singing blog.  But in the event that for some reason you missed this, yesterday morning they published a list that I threw together, summing up some of the top new releases of the past year.  The list represents my eleven favorite albums that I heard, that were released in 2011 by bands I had never heard prior to last year.  I also chose to exclude albums I had already written about here at the Valley blog, because I didn’t want to bore you by just rehashing the same thing over and over again.  I hope you enjoy the list, or at least find something there you might not have heard before.  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, either here or there.

Thanks for reading!