Good morning, and here comes some more music for you all to start off your week with!
Don’t worry, I know how to operate a calendar, and I realize it’s Tuesday. But yesterday was a federal holiday here in the U.S., as well as a snow day, so we lazily decided to have ourselves a nice extended weekend.
But today we’re back on track, and I would like to call your attention to an album I particularly enjoyed when it came out last summer. Again, I assure you, I do know how calendars work, and I do realize we’re now into the third week of the new year. Within the next few days I promise the first review of a new 2022 release will be coming! But we’ve still got plenty of older ones to cover that you shouldn’t miss out on.
Like this one: the fourth album overall (and the first in 27 years!) by San Franciscan band Mordred — who, by the way, will be playing their first hometown show of the year this coming weekend, alongside fellow local thrashers Death Angel. Details on tickets (both in-person and live-stream) to be found below.
Mordred – The Dark Parade (M-Theory Audio, 23 July 2021)
Talking Book – Talking Book II (Koolarrow Records, 24 April 2020)
Good day, loyal readers. Hope you all are still doing well, trying your best to stay safe and sane.
Today I’ll be sharing something that very much falls outside the standard delineation of purpose for this website: not “metal,” nor “other heavy music,” and debatable whether this would even exactly qualify (under some of the more conservative definitions) as “music.”
Talking Book began nearly ten years ago when the owners of two record labels known for their diverse and eclectic international line-ups (Koolarrow Records‘ Billy Gould and Gigante Sound‘s Jared Blum) came together to collaborate on the album The Talking Book.
Somehow, that one must have escaped my attention when it was released back in 2011 — which is somewhat surprising, considering the fact that I literally signed up for Twitter in order to follow Mr. Gould back in like 2009 when rumors were running rampant about another of his musical projects possibly reuniting, and it was said that a certain bassist and founding member’s Twitter feed would be a reliable source of information about that.
Anyway, since at time the duo were joined by Gigante Sound co-conspirator Dominic Cramp, and many years later they finally got around to recording a follow-up — which Koolarrow released nearly three weeks ago.
Forlesen – Hierophant Violent (Hypnotic Dirge Records, 18 April 2020)
Well, seems like it’s about time to check in on what’s happening with our northern neighbors at Hypnotic Dirge. Here’s a new record they came out with within the past month — and if their history of quality releases wasn’t enough to recommend checking it out, surely that gorgeous artwork (produced by Benjamin A. Vierling) will draw you right in.
It turns out Hierophant Violent is the debut offering from a new ensemble from the San Francisco Bay area, consisting of members who’ve worked in various other local groups — such as Botanist, Lotus Thief, and Kayo Dot.
Body Void / Keeper – Split (Tridroid Records [cassette] / Roman Numeral Records [vinyl], 15 January 2020)
Keeper / Sea Bastard – Split (Medusa Crush Recordings [N.A.] / Dry Cough Records [U.K.], 03 February 2015)
Hello there! Today we’re going to take a look at a split record that’s been generating a little bit of buzz since it came out last month, but not nearly as much as it should — considering the caliber of the two bands who released it (Californians Body Void and Keeper).
But I realize at this point that we have never mentioned Keeper previously, which is really a shame because they were involved with another fantastic split LP that came out about five years ago, along with Brightonian band Sea Bastard. Somehow we just never got around to covering it, so to rectify that error, let’s revisit that one today as well. So you can have a little “bonus review” as a treat.
Body Void – You Will Know the Fear You Forced Upon Us (Crown and Throne Ltd/Dry Cough Records/Seeing Red Records, 15 March 2019)
Each of the past two years, Body Void from beautiful, sunny California has unleashed an album unto the world, which could be called anything BUT beautiful or sunny. Even if you’ve been hiding under a rock this whole time, surely they’ve still managed to catch your attention. But if by some inexplicable means you’ve missed out, please do yourself a favor and check them both out here.
Well, this deteriorating mass called earth and all its awful inhabitants have crept their way around the sun once more, and sure enough, the Golden State trio has graced our ears with another heaping helping of auditory despondence: You Will Know the Fear You Forced Upon Us.
Body Void – Ruins (Crown and Throne Ltd/Dry Cough Records, 31 January 2017)
Body Void – I Live Inside a Burning House (Crown and Throne Ltd/Dry Cough Records/Seeing Red Records, 11 May 2018)
At some point throughout all these years of running this website, it has become apparent that it’s very difficult for someone to go back and remember everything they heard at the end of the year, pick out all the best things, and rank them in some kind of order. And as we’ve grown and attracted more attention, with the hundreds and hundreds of things submitted here each year, to do so nowadays would be downright impossible. So here’s a quick pro-tip: the start of each new year brings with it the start of a new list. For example, the first seventeen releases from 2017 would have made that year’s list by default. Once the eighteenth release rolls around, was it better than anything already listed? Then it gets slotted in there somewhere, and everything else gets bumped down a slot. And so on through the end of December.
Naturally there will be a need to revisit the listed items at year-end, to see how well they’ve held up to repeated listens and to solidify the order. Also, anything that just narrowly missed making the cut will be kept track of throughout the year, in case it feels like there need to be any substitutions made by that time. But for the most part, it’s been a pretty decent system.
Arriving at the actual point of all this nonsense — with a January release date, San Franciscan trio Body Void‘s debut LP Ruins would have been one of the earlier records to get ranked in the 2017 list, and whatever else came in throughout the following eleven months, it ended up hanging around in that top 10 the entire time. And now, their follow-up I Live Inside a Burning House has just been released this month, boldly demanding a spot in the current year’s list (and not looking likely to be unseated any time soon).
In this article we’ll give both albums a listen, and then at the bottom don’t miss the list of their June/July tour dates, all the way across the country and back again!
Castle – Welcome 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 …
Cormorant – Earth Diver (self-released, 08 April 2014)
Well, sleep-walking my way to the bus this morning really felt like a reality check. Tuesday mornings are generally pretty tough anyway, but following a week and a half of vacation, it just makes it that much harder. To be clear, I’ve been back to work and back to “the real world” for several days now, but today I’m really feeling like “Oh yeah, I forgot how much going to work sucks, I could really use a vacation.”
Speaking of which, how was my vacation? It was nice, thanks for asking. I’ve learned that they don’t call Florida “The Sunshine State” for nothing, everything is way too bright there, and it was some god-awful temperature (well above 80° every single day — in the middle of March!!) and the humidity was nearly unbearable. But on the plus side, I did see all sorts of fascinating nature and wildlife — especially birds. There were birds everywhere, fancy exotic kinds I’d never seen outside of a zoo or even some I’d never seen anywhere. For example, the little guy pictured below, who I encountered in a mangrove swamp while hiking through a place called Bailey Tract on Sanibel Island.
Monuments Collapse / Bréag Naofa – Split LP (Halo of Flies / Shove Records, 17 December 2013)
Good afternoon. On one hand, I’m pleased to note that this week is about halfway over. And on the other hand, it feels as though three or four weeks should have passed since Monday. I am so ready to be done working. I feel like if I don’t find something else to focus my attention and energy on for a little while, I’m seriously going to lose my shit here. And honestly, I don’t know if there’s anything that would fit the bill better than blasting some music through my headphones to drown out everything else (both externally and internally). I think it’s about time to take another dip into the pool of my favorite releases from last year.
You’ll want to pay attention to this — because what I’ve got for you today is the sort of release that too-often gets lost in the shuffle: a split record put out by a not-exactly-huge label (Wisconsin’s Halo of Flies for worldwide distribution, and Italian Shove Records in Europe), involving two not-that-widely-known bands (Monuments Collapse from San Francisco and Bréag Naofa from Seattle) who each had previously put out a self-titled album (each of which had a limited release of a few hundred copies, through smaller independent labels); and to make matters worse it was released in late December when most music publications and websites have already wrapped up their coverage for the year, compiled their year-end lists, and have already started looking ahead to the upcoming spring releases.
But I always try to be on the lookout for gems like this that might otherwise have fallen through the cracks, and then we pass the savings on to you. Or however that saying goes. Anyway, stay tuned for some great post-apocalyptic post-sludge-doom from a pair of west-coast bands you’ll likely want to get better acquainted with.
It is with great deference and gratitude to our fans and supporters that I announce my departure from Cormorant. After the overwhelming reception for Dwellings and national tours with longtime personal heroes, I feel fortunate to end this chapter of my life on a high note. Nick, Brennan, and Matt will continue to write and perform as Cormorant with my full support. The albums we created together were very personal to all of us, and I know the music they are composing now is of the same passion and honesty. I cherish our time working together, and I wish them the best.
I am taking a break from music to pursue my career in video games—another lifelong passion. Since May of this year, I have been at Telltale Games, hard at work on The Walking Dead episodic adventure series. Contributing to the game’s development has afforded me artistic fulfillment I never thought possible professionally. Thanks to the many colleagues I count as friends and projects I care deeply about, I look forward to going to work every morning for the first time in my life.
I have nothing but the most sincere thanks to our fans. You are incredible. From the Lebanese diehard metalhead who smuggled his contraband Metazoa CD in from Saudi Arabia, to the gentleman of indigenous Australian descent who wrote to tell us how profoundly “The First Man” had affected him, knowing that we’ve forged a connection with people through our music is the most gratifying. I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to perform for our fans across the US this year. Meeting you all in person was a true pleasure. I only regret that a worldwide tour wasn’t possible!
I’d like to thank the sound engineers and producers who made us sound our best, the publicists and journalists who wrote so beautifully about us, the visual artists who brought our music to life, the promoters who included us on such wonderful bills, and the bands with whom we shared the stage. While I have always taken great pride in Cormorant’s independence, so much of the band’s success is owed to your support. I look forward to attending future Cormorant shows from the other side of the stage.