Wrekmeister Harmonies – The Alone Rush (2018)

Wrekmeister HarmoniesThe Alone Rush (Thrill Jockey Records, 13 April 2018)

As you may recall, Wrekmeister Harmonies hit our Top 15 of 2015 List with their enormously epic outing Night of Your Ascension, with its dozens of contributors and guest stars. Since that time, the eclectic collective has been distilled down to just the duo of founder JR Robinson and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Esther Shaw (the same pair who toured under the Wrekmeister name following that album, performing half of a set alone and the other half with Bell Witch as their backing band).

Also since that time, these two people have dealt with a variety of hardships and sorrows, culminating in a relocation from Chicago to Astoria, Oregon — and a lengthy period spent healing (metally and emotionally) as well as composing, which Robinson referred to as a “cult like affair, just the two of us, thinking the similar thoughts and working them out with hours and hours of conversation, totally alone.”

The result was The Alone Rush, released last month, in which only Robinson and Shaw perform, along with drums by Thor Harris.

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Insect Ark – Marrow Hymns (2018)

Insect ArkMarrow Hymns (Profound Lore Records, 23 February 2018)

 

Bi-coastal DOOM duo Insect Ark is made up of film music composer and animator Dana Schechter (Angels of Light, Wrekmeister Harmonies, Zeal & Ardor, Gnaw) on bass and lap steel, and electronics expert Ashley Spungin (Taurus, Purple Rhinestone Eagle, Negative Queen) on drums as well as various synths and analog noise pedals she created herself. With this unique arrangement (featuring zero electric guitars, in the traditional sense), the instrumental assembly has brought forth their latest sonic creation (through a combination of long-distance collaboration and in-studio cooperation).

Although nearly two months have passed since the record’s Profound Lore release, last night (Sunday, 15 April) was the celebratory release show in Brooklyn. Next up, the pair will be hitting the Roadburn stage later this week followed by a month-long tour through Europe. You can find a listing of all those dates at the bottom of the page, but first, check out Marrow Hymns!

 

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Bell Witch – Four Phantoms (2015)

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Bell WitchFour Phantoms (Profound Lore Records, 28 April 2015)

 

For those who may have missed the news, I’m very sad to report that yesterday we learned of a monumental loss to the music world, in the passing of Adrian Guerra, co-founder of Seattle doom duo Bell Witch, co-writer of all of that band’s material to date, and former drummer/vocalist (up through summer 2015).

After that time, his position behind the kit had been replaced by Jesse Shreibman, including on the band’s most recent tour where they pulled double duty — playing a full set of their own in addition to serving as the backing band for Wrekmeister Harmonies. But from the band’s inception through its formative years, it was Guerra and bassist/vocalist Dylan Desmond from their groundbreaking 2011 demo (incidentally, one of the very first reviews ever published on this website, back in December of that year) up through and including last year’s Profound Lore full-length Four Phantoms.

In honor and in memory of the co-creator of some of the greatest and most moving music to have reached my ears over the past five years, today I’ve decided to present you with a discussion about that latest album, the last one to feature the original Bell Witch line-up. Rest in peace Adrian, and our thoughts and sympathy are with your friends and family, colleagues and former band members.

 

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Ghold – Of Ruin (2015), Pyr (2016)

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GholdOf Ruin (Ritual Productions, 16 March 2015)

 

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GholdPyr (Ritual Productions, 06 May 2016)

 

Hello out there — how is your Tuesday going? It’s almost time to go home and I’m totally ready for a nap. I feel pretty confident in saying I will probably be passed out on the bus ride home, if I even make it that far. And there’s another hockey game tonight, so if there’s going to be any hope of me staying awake to see that, maybe a late afternoon nap wouldn’t be the worst idea.

Before I go, though, it’s about time to share some more listening material with you fine people. Today that will consist of a pair of albums — one a little over a year old, the other released just four days ago — both by London stoner-sludge-grunge-noise band Ghold

 

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Lord Mantis – Death Mask (2014), NTW (2016)

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Lord MantisDeath Mask (Profound Lore Records, 29 April 2014)

 

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Lord MantisNTW (New Density Records, 29 April 2016)

 

In early 2015, the whole world was shocked and saddened to learn that Chicagoan misanthropic miscreants Indian were calling it quits. Maybe “the whole world” is a sight exaggeration, but for myself and everyone I know, it was difficult news — especially since it came just a year after the band had released what was unquestionably their best album to date.

But then that blow was softened a bit almost immediately after, when another huge announcement shook the metal world: that closely-related Chicago band Lord Mantis had parted ways with some of its members, leaving only founding drummer Bill Bumgardner and Andrew Markuszewski who had been the lead guitarist for nearly all of that band’s releases. Augmenting this newly depleted line-up would be most of the folks who had just left Indian — in addition to Bumgardner who had also been playing drums in that band for years, ex-Indian guitarist Will Lindsay (also a member of Anatomy of Habit) would be joining on bass, and former Indian guitarist/vocalist Dylan O’Toole (who has also appeared as part of the Wrekmeister Harmonies ensemble) would now be handling Lord Mantis vocal duties. And finally, rounding out the line-up by joining Markuszewski on guitar, Scott Shellhamer of yet another great Chicago band, American Heritage.

This shakeup didn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone who’d been paying attention to the goings-on surrounding Mantis; even in the press release for their last album, 2014’s Death Mask, it mentioned rumblings of turbulence among the band’s members at that time. And the new additions seemed like a perfectly logical choice, as not only had these guys all known each other and been friends for years, but Lindsay and O’Toole had each made contributions to the band previously, including guest appearances on Death Mask.

But now, finally, the result of all of these moving pieces has come to fruition, as the first recording by the new Lord Mantis is being released tomorrow — exactly two years (to the day) after Death Mask, the band’s own New Density will unleash the EP NTW. In this article we’ll take a look at the new EP as well as the album that preceded it. And for those who would like to learn more about how all these changes have affected the band from the perspective of its members, don’t miss this interview where they’ve answered some questions provided by members of Slaves BC!

 

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Wrekmeister Harmonies – Night of Your Ascension (2015)

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Wrekmeister HarmoniesNight of Your Ascension (Thrill Jockey, 13 November 2015)

 

Well… here we are at the end of a dull, dreary Monday — looks like we’ve survived another one. And it’s a good thing, too, because I’ve got something pretty extraordinary to share with you this afternoon. It’s not often that you come across something that seems immediately transcendent — so otherworldly that it fully envelops the listener and transports you away from the surface level of consciousness — but that’s the case with Night of Your Ascension, the third album released by the American “pastoral doom” conglomerate known as Wrekmeister Harmonies. A late-year discovery for me (it just came out at the end of November), this LP nevertheless had such an instantaneous impact that I just had to include it among my list of 2015’s top releases.

This isn’t necessarily the type of material that really benefits from being written about, being described in words, so I’ll keep that part as brief as possible. Further down, you’ll have the opportunity to listen for yourself and get the full experience, and then you’ll understand. And even further down (in the comments section), I’ll be including the details of the group’s current North American tour with Bell Witch, so stay tuned for that!

 

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