Former Worlds – Photos of Eve IX-XVI (2017), Iterations of Time (2020)

Former WorldsPhotos of Eve IX-XVI (self-released, 18 March 2017)

 

Former WorldsIterations of Time (Init Records, 31 January 2020)

 

Hello, all you shiny happy socially-distant people! It’s Tuesday! Not that days or any unit of time or any anything has any real meaning anymore.

Today we’re going to talk about a band I’ve been meaning to share with you folks for the past three-plus years, since they released their debut EP. And then I’ve REALLY been meaning to get around to writing this for the past three-plus months, since they released their debut LP. But here we are.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I don’t have a to-do list with well over 900 items piled up, or act as if I will ever be able to “catch up” in this lifetime, but let’s just keep plugging away at this a little bit at a time, right? For now, please enjoy the Midwestern sludgey juggernaut that is Former Worlds.

 

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Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden (2014)

In the VIP section (balcony) at Mr. Small's Theatre (Pittsburgh), February 2013

In the VIP balcony at Mr. Small’s Theatre (Pittsburgh), February 2013

EDITOR’S NOTE: for nearly two years, the Arkansas melodic doom quartet Pallbearer has been among my wife’s absolute favorite bands. I know she’d been eagerly snapping up every available bit of information leading up to the release of their second album; now that it’s been released, we listened to it together, and she had some strong reactions and opinions — so I asked whether she wanted to write something about it. So here is her review of Foundations of Burden.

 

Foundations_Of_Burden_Cover_FINAL

PallbearerFoundations of Burden (Profound Lore Records, 19 August 2014)

reviewed by Mrs. Valley of Steel

 

I first heard Pallbearer in December of 2012 on accident. I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a video that someone had posted, which I thought was something else. I clicked on it, I listened and I had no idea what I was in for ultimately. I have to admit, I felt an immediate kinship to this music. For much of my life, I have felt an attachment to a darker side of my personality; I often embrace being melancholy and don’t always see it as the burden that some people do with those types of emotions. Pallbearer definitely tapped into that for me. I felt instantaneously connected to each riff and sludgy chord. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, this band is mainly responsible for so much of the music I have discovered in this journey with my husband over the past three years. It’s clearly felt personal to me and I am sure, with all the recent hype, that I am not the only one who enjoys dwelling in the despair.

 

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Sunwølf – Beholden to Nothing and No One (2014)

Sunwølf - Beholden To Nothing And No One

SunwølfBeholden to Nothing and No One (30 June 2014)

 

Hello out there, and Happy Monday everyone! My original plan was for this review to be published last Friday, but that was the 4th of July, aka Independence Day, which is the American holiday commemorating the time when some folks who lived here decided to send a letter to England saying they wanted to get a divorce. And I realized that it would be very un-patriotic of me to finish writing this on that date. Not because it’s about a British band, but because it would have involved actually doing something productive on a day off from work. In this country, we take our leisure time very seriously. But now it’s Monday and time to jump right back in. So here’s Beholden to Nothing and No One, a massive 80+ minute collection of post-metal/ambient music (spanning two CDs) by Leodensian band Sunwølf.

 

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Happy (Belated) New Year!

Cheers!

* Happy National Day (for those who live on the island of Menorca)!

 

* Happy Feast Day of Saint Achilles the Confessor (for those who follow the Eastern Orthodox Church)!

 

* Happy Birthday to Benjamin Franklin “The Guy on the Hundred Dollar Bill,” James Earl Jones “The Voice of Darth Vader,” comedian Andy Kaufman, bassist Andy Rourke, boxer Muhammad Ali, actress Betty White, FLOTUS Michelle Obama, and singer Eartha Kitt!

 

* Let’s also commemorate the passing of music producer Don Kirshner, chess player Bobby Fisher, and former U.S. president Rutherford B. Hayes!

 
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If you can’t tell, I’m sort of reaching here, for any sort of a special occasion or commemoration to celebrate today. Since we’re now so long past the beginning of the year, I feel stupid saying “Happy New Year!” to you. But 2013 is still relatively new (and the majority of it is still yet to come), so I guess it really doesn’t hurt to still wish you a happy one.
 
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FOR A GOOD CAUSE: Doommantia Vol. 1 Compilation

 

Various Artists – Doommantia Vol. 1 (23 October 2012)

 
Hey folks. We’ve already talked about Ed Barnard, who operates the Doommantia website, but in case you’ve forgotten, this is the guy who has dealt with being bankrupted by astronomical medical bills, eventually resulting in being evicted from his home. More information on the situation is available elsewhere, if you care to look.

Anyway, it’s a pretty terrible story, but the brotherhood (and sisterhood — or, let’s just say, siblinghood) of Doom Metal has been quick to respond. The Doommantia website itself has been collecting funds via a Paypal button; earlier this month, Maryland-based War Injun put together a benefit concert.

And now, an enormous (39 tracks! Over four hours long!) compilation of songs from all kinds of amazing bands has been put together by members of South Carolina’s Compel. Downloads are available for purchase from Bandcamp; the minimum price is only seven bucks, but naturally you have the option to decide to donate any amount you wish.

 
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Now Available: Undersmile – Narwhal

 

UndersmileNarwhal (Future Noise Recordings, 28 May 2012)

 
If you spend any amount of time poking around this blog (and I highly encourage you to do so!), you’ll quickly notice that I have a fairly broad range of musical taste. Most of the stuff that I listen to would be classified under some metal genre or other, although not all of it. Everything else would usually fall into one or more categories of punk, hardcore, hard rock, or pretty much anything that’s heavy, but once again, you still couldn’t fit all that I listen to in such neat little boxes. Even just looking at the metal music, you’d find me all over the spectrum there as well, touching upon (at least to some degree) practically every subgenre ever invented.

However, one recurring theme you might discover, is that I’ve always had a certain affinity towards the sludgey, the grimey, the filthy, and in particular, the mind-numbingly slow. If it sounds like it was recorded with an hourglass instead of a metronome, chances are I’ll be all over it like zombies attacking a MENSA convention.

So naturally, when I first discovered Oxfordshire’s Undersmile (courtesy of American Aftermath including one of their songs on last summer’s Summer of Sludge compilation), I instantly fell in love, because they just totally hit all the right buttons for me.

Late last year when I heard the news that they were in the process of recording their debut full-length album, I was delighted, and later, when more details and some preview tracks started to emerge, I got even more excited.

Did you ever have something you were anticipating so much that you almost felt nervous about whether it would ultimately live up to the hype? Even if it turns out to be really really good, could it possibly be as good as you were expecting? Or even worse, what if the thing you were so convinced was going to be amazing — and that you’ve been telling everyone around you how amazing you think it’ll be — turns out to be terrible? Of course, you wouldn’t be looking forward to something that much without having some prior knowledge or some sort of basis on which to establish those expectations, so there’s a very small chance that it would, in fact, be awful — but there’s still that remote possibility. Isn’t that just nerve-wracking?

Well now that I’ve gotten my copy of Undersmile’s Narwhal and listened to it a few times, I’ve discovered that I didn’t even know the meaning of the words “terrible” or “awful”…

 

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In Case You Missed It: Banda de la Muerte – Pulso de una Mente Maldita


 

Banda de la MuertePulso de una Mente Maldita (29 March 2012, Zonda Records)

 
So remember about two weeks ago, when I published a review of the most recent Cultura Tres album? At that time I talked about rectifying my previous oversight of South American bands, and hinted that there were two in particular I had my eye (or, ears) on. Well this is the second one: Argentina’s Banda de la Muerte.
 
My original plan was to write up both of these reviews and post them on the same day, but then I came to the realization that there would be so much similarity between the two, that you might get some weird sense of déjà vu — hence the delay in finishing and publishing this one. Now, I’m not trying to say that the two bands are the same or that their music is very similar; that wasn’t the problem. However, the way I first got introduced to these guys was virtually identical.
 
Like Cultura Tres, the name Banda de la Muerte first came to my attention as part of a European tour with Undersmile. And also, just like their neighbors to the north, these Argentinians had a song included in the recent Grip of Delusion Radio compilation The Book of Riff-elations. Once again, the band name jumped out at me when I recognized it in the track listing, and I found that I especially enjoyed their contribution, “Parte de Mi Historia” (Part of My Story).
 
The parallels don’t end there, either, because these guys also have had two releases, with the first one (2009’s Banda de la Muerte) being offered for a free download through Bandcamp (details included at the end of this post). Their newer album, Pulso de una Mente Maldita has been out since March (via Argentina’s Zonda Records, who also handled the earlier self-titled work), but it was recently announced that (just like Cultura Tres’ El Mal del Bien) it’s now available worldwide on vinyl (details on that included later as well).
 
So as you can see, there are quite a few similarities between the two bands’ stories, and in particular, my own road to discovering them. But enough of that — now I’d like to talk about what makes Banda de la Muerte unique.
  
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In Case You Missed It: Cultura Tres – El Mal Del Bien

Cultura TresEl Mal Del Bien (self-released, 29 March 2011)

So yesterday morning, as I was putting together the post about the newly released track by Vesperia, it occurred to me that I’ve done an awful lot of writing about bands from our upstairs neighbors over the past couple months. At the same time, it occurred to me that I’ve probably been unfairly neglecting music that originates from south of the border…

Well, actually, I haven’t entirely neglected bands from south of here — about a month and a half ago, I posted about the Grip of Delusion Radio compilation (which you can still download for free, if you haven’t yet!), and in that post I briefly mentioned a couple of South American bands that had songs included. One of those was Cultura Tres from Maracay, Venezuela.

These guys had first come across my radar just prior to the release of that Book of Riff-Elations compilation, when I read about them playing some shows over in Europe with our British friends Undersmile. So the band name (which literally means “Culture Three” but idiomatically refers to life in the so-called ‘Third World’) jumped out at me when I saw it in the tracklisting. Naturally, I had to give their song “No es mi Verdad” (“It is Not My Truth”) a quick listen, and it was so deliciously sludgey and doomy that I just had to grab both of the band’s full-length releases, 2008’s La Cura (“The Cure”), and last year’s El Mal del Bien (literally, “Bad from Good” or “Wrong from Right”). Both of these are available to download (for free or whatever price you choose), but the newer one was also recently released on vinyl, so I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about that now, Dear Reader.
 

 

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Coming Soon: Undersmile Reveal Cover Art, Track Listing, and More!

Well, would you look at that.  It’s early Monday morning, it’s cold and rainy outside, and I have to go to work.  What a miserable way to start the day.  Just when I was thinking I could really use something dark and dismal to match my bleak mood, so that I could feel a little better, check out this treasure trove of incredible news I just found on Facebook!

I’ve been bubbling with excitement about a new Undersmile album ever since it was announced, as I mentioned when I wrote about that announcement back in November.  (Check out that earlier post if you need a brief introduction to the band and some of their earlier work.)  Well as it turns out, Future Noise has just announced a ton of brand new details about that album, Narwhal, which is now scheduled to emerge on 28 May 2012.

At the top of this post you can admire the artwork that will be adorning the new record (by artist Tony Roberts, who has done work in the past for bands such as Conan and Electric Wizard), and further down will be the full tracklist, as well as information on where you can hear a couple of these tracks now — plus how you can preorder a copy of the album!

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Get ’em While They’re Hot: Three Free HUGE Compilations from Grip of Delusion Radio!

Check this out! The nice people at Grip of Delusion Radio have put together a gigantic compilation in three volumes (over one hundred songs altogether!) and they’re yours for the taking, absolutely free of charge. There are some pretty awesome bands represented here, including a couple I’ve written about in the past (Vulture and Undersmile) and one that I’ll be reviewing very soon (Fire in the Cave), plus Banda de la Muerte, Heavy Lord, Forged in Flame, Wo Fat, Cultura Tres, Thorr Axe, Behold! The Monolith, Shroud of Despondency, and tons more!!

These were just released on Sunday (01 April) and by Monday they had already run out of free Bandcamp downloads! But mere minutes ago, it was announced that due to the generosity of The Soda Shop, they’ve just added on another thousand downloads… so hurry up and grab one while you still can!

See the Bandcamp widgets below for each of the three volumes, where you can download them if you like (or just listen to the songs and then download your favorites)…

If the Bandcamp well runs dry again, don’t fear, they have alternate download capabilities on this page — including a link to Mediafire (where you can grab the songs one at a time) and Dropbox (which offers all three volumes in a single Gig-and-a-half bundle).

 

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