Auriga – VII Dimensions of Asymmetry; Astral Path – An Oath to the Void (2016)

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AurigaVII – Dimensions of Asymmetry (Avantgarde Music, 19 January 2016)

 

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Astral PathAn Oath to the Void (Avantgarde Music, 15 April 2016)

 

On the way down the street to the bus stop — this is around 5:00 this morning — I realized something. I was hearing birds chirping and singing, and sometimes as I walked past houses, window air conditioners whirring and humming, but otherwise very little background noise whatsoever. It took a few minutes, but finally I came to the conclusion, all of the cicadas must have been sleeping. All those millions of big, ugly, flying things that have gradually emerged from their seventeen-year arboreal naps over the past few weeks to create a deafening cacaphony all over the surrounding area. Over the weekend, when I was stuck spending much of my days outdoors, cutting grass and pulling weeds and various other activities that put me right in the middle of the flight path for hundreds of the clumsy, red-eyed bugs, this nuisance seemed to have reach a terrible crescendo. Sounding like a cross between a gas motor, an alarm bell, and a UFO, the swarm of insects could easily provide a soundtrack for any horror or suspense movie.

Anyway, completely unrelated to anything, today we’re going to spend some time talking about atmospheric black metal. The two different albums I’d like to share with you were both released earlier this year by Avantgarde Music. These bands — one Lebanese, the other Canadian — take slightly different approaches to the genre, but they both generally have a sort of outer space vibe going on. Enjoy!

 

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FINNISH METAL: Hooded Menace (2015), Solothus (2016), Ever Circling Wolves (2017)

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Hooded MenaceDarkness Drips Forth (Relapse Records, 30 October 2015)

 

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SolothusNo King Reigns Eternal (Doomentia Records, 18 March 2016)

 

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Ever Circling WolvesOf Woe or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Gloom (record label and release date TBD Cimmerian Shade Recordings, 27 January 2017)

 

Last week, President Obama made headlines when he made a reference to Finnish heavy metal while speaking at a summit of visiting Nordic leaders.

In that same spirit, today we’re going to talk about a handful of bands from Suomen tasavalta, the Republic of Finland: Hooded Menace from Joensuu, Solothus from Turku and Helsinki, and Ever Circling Wolves, also from Helsinki.

 

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Immortal Bird – Akrasia (2013), Empress/Abscess (2015)

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Immortal BirdAkrasia (Closed Casket Recordings, 03 December 2013)

 

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Immortal BirdEmpress/Abscess (Broken Limbs Recordings [analog formats] / Manatee Rampage Recordings [digital formats], 14 July 2015)

 

Hey people. If you remember, in this Thursday’s post I was talking about how lots of music gets released this time of year — usually on Friday — and that there were a few things coming out this week in particular that I really wanted to talk to you about. Well I’m still planning to do that, but not quite yet. First I need to cover a band, Immortal Bird, that just blew me away when I first heard them over two years ago and continued to do so with their last release last summer and during all this time they’ve been traveling back and forth across the country like crazy, but for one reason or another, I just never got around to writing about them.

Even though we almost never do Saturday posts around here, because nobody reads anything on the weekends, I wanted to make sure to get this out there by today. I’m going to share with you some thoughts about the band in question, their debut EP and follow-up LP, and then (if you head on down to the comments section) I’ll let you know about all the details of their current tour all over the eastern U.S. with Pyrrhon, which kicks off tonight in Pittsburgh!! and runs for the next few weeks.

 

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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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Winter’s Wake Winterview: Drones for Queens

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We’re drawing closer and closer to the Winter’s Wake 2013 Thursday Night Pre-fest Show! Here’s one more interview with a band that’s playing tonight!

I already wrote about this particular band a few months ago, but here’s the responses I got to some questions I asked Drones for Queens:

 
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The Huge List of 2012 Year-End Lists!

Well, friends, here we find ourselves in the waning moments of 2012. It’s been an interesting, eventful year that’s had lots of high and low points — a ton of excellent new music has been released and quite a few brand-new bands have emerged that I’d fully expect to be making some serious waves in the near future.

One of the best things about 2012, for me personally, was that I found myself (and my wife) going to lots more shows than in recent years, and as a result I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of new people — as well as starting to take a way more active role in the local music scene.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I had a suggestion from one of those people I’ve gotten to know in the past year (I won’t say who — he said he preferred not to be given credit for the idea, although I will say that it’s somebody who contributed to this). The idea was to collect top-ten lists from various folks in the Pittsburgh metal community.

So I put out an open invitation for any musicians or other people who are involved in the scene in some way — I was looking for anything, whether it was the traditional “Top Ten Albums” or something totally off-the-wall like someone’s ten favorite sandwiches they ate during the year. Really, the only rules were that it had to be a list, and involve something from 2012.

 
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Drones for Queens Hitting the Road This Weekend / Free EP Download!

 
When I heard the name Drones for Queens, my immediate thought was that there are two different directions this band might be taking. On one hand, they could specialize in slow, drawn-out, ambient, meditative music that’s specifically targeted to homosexuals. The other possibility is that the name refers to worker bees who devote their entire lives to serving those at the top of the social hierarchy — perhaps using this concept as a metaphor for the conflict between the proletariat and bourgeoisie classes in human society.

Then, a quick peek at the cover art from their recent EP Health (see above) led me to believe that perhaps the second case was more likely.

But you can hear for yourself — in person, if you happen to live near the spots in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Virginia where the band will be making appearances over the next few days (starting with a hometown show in Philadelphia tonight) — or if it turns out you aren’t able to make it to any of these, you can still download your very own copy of Health for any amount you choose to pay!

 
First, here’s some more information on these guys, courtesy of Catharsis PR:

The two-man outfit is comprised of brothers Shane and Evan Madden (also of Rifflifter Touring) who spent years exploring the realms of doom and black metal in bands like Woods of Ypres, Woe, and The Green Evening Requiem before succumbing to a mutual desire to make raw, real, pissed off music. The result? Four tracks of virulent, noisy, thrashy grindcore, spat out with DIY fury but backed by label-hardened savvy; Health is fast, furious, and fucking intense. Recorded and mixed by Brian McKay at Audiolux in Philadelphia and Audiolab in Millville, New Jersey and mastered by Dan O’Hare, Health is a shotgun blast echoing out into a stale scene.

 
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