Autarch / Soothsayer – Split (2016)

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Autarch / SoothsayerSplit (self-released 27 May 2016; vinyl via Replenish Records 12 June 2016)

 

Two years ago this week, Asheville neo-crust band Autarch saw their debut full-length on vinyl. When I wrote about that album, The Death of Actiacus, a few days later, I noted that the band’s tour was headed here to Pittsburgh on that particular evening — and that one of the local bands joining them at that show would be the fairly-newly-formed (at that time) Soothsayer, who draw on many of the same atmospheric/blackened/crust elements as their North Carolinian counterparts.

Well, I can tell you that particular show turned out to be a pretty great experience all around, and I’d also like to share some new information that was just brought to my attention. This Friday — almost exactly two years after their performance together that night in Pittsburgh — Autarch and Soothsayer are jointly releasing a split record. That album is available to order right now, so I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you all a little more about it …

 

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Mortals – Cursed to See the Future (2014)

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MortalsCursed to See the Future (Relapse Records, 08 July 2014)

 

I don’t know who wrote the official band bio for Brooklynite trio Mortals (the one that accompanies their press kit and also appears on their record label’s website), but I don’t think I really understand what it’s trying to say. It starts off by contrasting this band with the way most other bands come together:
 

Many heavy bands follow a straight line — they start a band with some people they know, they pick a well-worn genre, they write riffs and drum beats that sound pretty similar to all the other riffs and drum beats that have been written. That isn’t Mortals.

 
…but then it goes on to explain how the three members met when they were involved with various other bands (for example, two of them were in a Slayer cover band together, two of them were in a math-rock band together) and eventually the three of them found they had enough common interests that they decided to form a new band; chemistry developed and gradually they found themselves evolving into their own style. Which, in essence, sounds like a variant of the history behind almost every band I know. So that’s got me feeling slightly confused.

But anyway, none of that really matters. What the band sounds like is far more important than any written description, when it comes to me picking what I want to write about and share with you, and the music should be able to speak for itself. And here it certainly does. It also helps that I’ve been watching for news from this band over the past couple of years — on the advice of Meat Mead Metal (whom you should absolutely familiarize yourself with immediately if you aren’t already a regular reader, because not only is this without a doubt the best music journalism you’ll find here in Pittsburgh, but this guy churns out high-quality writing with a consistency that could rival just about anyone else out there!), who has had plenty of good things to say about Mortals on several occasions (like here, for example). About a year after that particular article was written, the band had signed a deal with Relapse Records, and today marks their first release with that label, the full-length Cursed to See the Future.

 

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Now Available on Vinyl: Autarch – The Death of Actiacus

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AutarchThe Death of Actiacus (originally released 19 April 2013 on cassette and via Bandcamp; re-released May 2014 on vinyl by Headfirst! Records and All We Know Records)

 

Crust, as a musical genre, can be difficult to precisely pinpoint — it seems to hover somewhere around the intersection of gritty hardcore punk and various forms of extreme metal such as death/thrash/crossover or, sometimes, black metal. (This last association works especially well when the combined genres also incorporate atmospheric or “post-metal” elements.) While musically the term can span a fairly wide spectrum (while staying primarily within the general confines of the collection of styles mentioned), crust as a concept tends to be more clearly defined by its attitude and lyrical themes — often focusing on things like social issues, or protesting against perceived injustices. Therefore, it would seem to make sense for a band called Autarch to identify themselves with that tag: “autarchy” is a philosophy similar to anarchy, but with a strong emphasis on self-governance and pure individualism.

Following a self-titled demo in 2012 (which you can download from Moshpit Tragedy here, either for free or by donating any amount you choose, which will then be sent to Canada’s Cedar Row Farm Animal Sanctuary), this group from the Blue Ridge region of western North Carolina released an album called The Death of Actiacus last spring. (“Actiacus” is one of several names used for Apollo, due to the fact that one of the major ancient Greek temples dedicated to this god of sun and light was located at a site called Actium — so it seems, metaphorically, the album title is basically referring to the extinguishing of light.)

And now (actually, sometime within the past week), the album has been made available in a limited vinyl edition (just 300 copies pressed on grey marble). And the band is also in the midst of a tour up and down the eastern U.S. and Canada — with only a handful of dates remaining before they head back home, but including a stop in Pittsburgh tonight (Wednesday, 28 May). More on both the tour and the album can be found below.

 

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