It’s Monday and I’m tired and crabby and I don’t really want to be here and I just want to punch everything and everyone right in the damn face. It probably wouldn’t be advisable to do so, because there’s a good chance I’d end up losing my job — and despite what you might think based on how much bitching and complaining I do, that would probably not be a good thing. So as per usual, I’m stuck keeping all that annoyance and rage bottled up inside, with no real outlet through which to channel it. The best I can do is try to calm my nerves by grabbing a pair of headphones and blocking the whole world out with something loud and angry and particularly ugly. In fact, looking ahead at the schedule for the rest of this week, #SpoilerAlert, there’s going to be a lot of angry and ugly going on. So stay tuned for that.
To start off the week, we’re going to visit with St. Louis ultra-doom trio Fister. It’s been nearly three years since I wrote about their Gemini album on the day they were coming here to Pittsburgh with their friends and neighbors The Lion’s Daughter. At that time I had mentioned that there was quite a bit of stuff in the Fister discography, including a split record with The Lion’s Daughter, and that I had chosen to listen to Gemini (and share it with you folks) simply because it had been their most recent release at the time. Well those guys have continued to be pretty active since then, both touring and recording, and I figured it’s about time we checked back with them.
In particular, I thought we could take some time to check out a couple more records that have come out over the past two months. (There’s much more out there on Bandcamp, if you’re curious, but for practical reasons I had to limit myself to two releases to discuss today.) The first will be a split 7″ with Teeth from California, and the other is a split with Dopethrone from Montréal.
Laster – De Verste Verte is Hier (Dunkelheit Produktionen, 01 November 2014)
Sordide – La France a Peur (Avantgarde Music, 21 December 2014)
Cantique Lépreux – Cendres Célestes (Eisenwald, 18 March 2016)
My calendar is lying to me, I am sure of this. How could it possibly be only Tuesday, when it already feels like this week has lasted about sixteen years?? I have no reasonable or logical explanation. Anyway, as I sit here watching the seconds creep by, I might as well get something written to share with you folks. How does some atmospheric black metal sound? What about albums by three different bands, who approach “atmosphere” in three different ways? And — rather peculiarly — what about a unifying theme between all three albums that just might make you want to get up out of your chair and dance? What if all these questions were rhetorical, because no matter what your answer, that’s what you’re getting anyway?
Éohum – Ealdfaeder (Mycelium Networks, 18 March 2016)
Have you ever noticed that the first example of something you hear — not all of the time, but pretty often — tends to have a profound impact on you and can color or influence your perception of any similar thing you hear later? For example, the first album you hear by a particular artist, even though that album might not be critically or generally viewed as their best work or even among their best, nevertheless will often establish itself as your favorite album by that artist. It’s an often-repeated joke, that upon an artist releasing new material, hipster-type people will commonly declare their previous albums (or their first demo) to be vastly superior. Since another cliche about hipsters is that they always claim to have heard of (or been fans of) a band or style of music before it had become familiar to the general public, it seems that claiming that an artist’s first material was better than their later work kind of goes hand-in-hand with having been familiar with that artist earlier than most other people — because it seems natural that in such a case one would indeed feel more of an affinity towards that earlier material, that having been the example of the artist’s work that was heard first. (I suppose it’s when these claims are made falsely, or as an affectation, that the derisive term ‘hipster’ would come into play, but that’s a different subject entirely.)
Anyway, the reason I brought up this discussion in the first place was that I had been thinking about my earliest encounters with black metal. Outside of a brief exposure to Celtic Frost at a rather young age, at a time when that vocal style was so far removed from anything I’d ever heard up to that point that I wasn’t even sure how to react to it, my relationship with black metal as a genre began somewhere around 1999-2000, at the height of the Napster era. I was in my early twenties and had started branching out as widely as possible, discovering anything I could get my hands on. Almost by accident, I had stumbled upon the Cradle of Filth song “Malice through the Looking Glass,” and it was like a whole new world had opened up to me. That orchestral introduction, and the way that unworldly shriek pierces through it, the insane-sounding metal arrangement that should never work juxtaposed with those symphonic elements but somehow it just does.
From there, I sought out anything similar I could find; I quickly developed an affinity for bands like Immortal and, especially, Emperor — anyone who was taking that black metal sound and combining it with other contrasting sounds. Sure, there was plenty out there that used the keyboards or samples in an over-the-top, cheesy manner, and I tried to avoid these as much as possible, but I also learned that once I’d experienced the symphonic variety, regular straight-up black metal just felt kind of stagnant and unexciting. And it all comes back to what I had heard first — so that, still to this day, I have a tendency toward music that blends different things in new and interesting ways. Today I’ve got an example to share with you: a Canadian band that includes some unexpected instruments within its arrangements …
Good afternoon, everyone. Today I’ve got two different albums to introduce to you, which coincidentally have a common thread between them. Released just a week apart, one of these was conceived as the soundtrack to an imaginary western movie, while the other features incidental music that was recorded for the score of an actual western film.
Both of these are purely instrumental affairs, and they’re both more on the mellow side. If that sounds appealing to you, then there’s a pretty good chance one or the other may be right up your alley. So just pour yourself a tequila sunrise, grab a pack of rolling papers, kick off your boots and relax.
Well, it’s Monday again, and that can only mean one thing. It’s time for the “Signmeto” Unsigned Band of the Week! As you are already aware, this is that thing where I go to the “Sign Me to Roadrunner Records” website and check out the messages that bands have written to me asking for a review of their music. Then I pick one at random (where “at random” usually means “whoever wrote to me the longest amount of time ago”), I listen to the songs they’ve got posted, then I write about them here so YOU can discover some awesome new music.
This week we’ve got a nice sample of black metal from the frozen tundra of the far north — except instead of northern Europe like you might be expecting, this is northern North America. Specifically, we’re looking at a band who come from the French-Canadian province of Québec, who call themselves Obscurcis Romancia. If you couldn’t decipher it yourself, the band’s name (which seems to be a hybrid of French and Latin, as far as I can tell) translates to something like “Obscured Romance.” They play a fantastically proficient form of classically-influenced black metal, and they’ve also recently released their second full-length album (details on how to get your hands on a copy, later in this post!)