Author Archives: RiffRaff
What exactly is ‘nature metal’? I don’t know, it’s just a label I slap on stuff that has heavy themes of nature either in the lyrics or music itself. Often it turns out to be some kind of trippy black metal band, but I don’t just restrict it to that. Today being Earth Day and all I thought I’d post about some albums I really enjoy from this ‘genre’ as it is one of my favorite subgenres of metal.
Since I like Bandcamp a lot as well and thick everyone should be buying from there, I am restricting this post to records that are available there as well as streamable in full so you guys can give them as listen. Also, one record per band and stuff that is somewhat modern. If you have any ‘nature metal’ albums you’d like to recommend to me, please, I’d love to hear about it in the comments! Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
Here’s a fun one for you guys. Parts sword swinging, beer swilling folk metal, nut crunching death and black metal, parts Opeth-ian prog dynamics, and parts shatteringly beautiful nature metal. Pretty much, for me, everything this record does check off on my unwritten list of this that make me love a record.
I really don’t have much to say other than I just wanted to make you all aware of this kick-ass batch of tunes. Great songwriting that is brutal, beautiful, and above all, absolutely fun to listen to over and over again. Well worth the 7 clams. Fans of Opeth, Ensiferum, Turisas, and Eluvetie should not skip this one. Don’t think, trust me, buy it!!!!!
Give it a spin and let us know what you thought.
Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: 6 March 2015
Length: 54 minutes
Genre: Extreme prog/Viking/black metal
Studio Albums: 11 previous
Location: Bergen, Norway
Italy is known for many things: Food, culture, food, friendly people, food, women, food, wine, food, fashion, food, beautiful seas and landscapes, and food. If you happen to be a fan of cinema, Italy also has got you covered there, especially if you happen to be a fan of the horror genre. From Dario Argento and Joe D’Amato to Lucio Fulci and Mario Bava you could almost say that gore and suspense were practically invented on the Big Boot. Italy is also home of two of the most controversial horror/suspense flicks ever made (Cannibal Holocaust and Salò: 120 Days of Sodom, neither are safe for life). If you have ever seen the Fulci classic Zombi (or known as Zombi 2 and Zombie Flesh Eaters in some places, same movie, it’s confusing, roll with it) you no doubt remember one of the finest scenes in horror movie history, Zombie vs. Shark in a battle to the death. What makes that scene so special goes beyond its ridiculousness and it’s shot straight-faced. It creates this unique dynamic of art house, horror, and comedy that modern Zomedy directors could only wish to achieve. With this particular approach to horror/suspense it’s always amazed me that metal bands rarely channel this particular sect of horror, especially given its massive influence on the genre that maybe too many metal bands take their inspiration from. Enter Japan’s Sigh, a band that has not even once followed anything close to ‘normal’ or ‘conventional’, and their new record Graveward.
It’s rare that something can execute being so violently melancholic and at the same time life-affirming and uplifting. Last time I can think I’ve had those feels hit me this hard simultaneously was when I first saw the first ten minutes of the Pixar film ‘Up’. It’s quite the enigma of emotional cocktails. Ghost Bath masterfully pulls at heartstrings with the aptly titled Moonlover. Whirlwinds of chaotic black metal peppered with lush soundscapes of post-rock all meld together to create this unique, indescribable sound of heart-wrenching beauty. It’s just something that has to be heard to be understood.
And with that, I’ll leave this post short and let you all have at it. If you fancy bands such as Deafheaven than this is mandatory listening. All others, do give this masterpiece a shot. Be prepared for some feels. Let us know what you think! Peace Love and Metal!!!!!
On Liturgy’s Bandcamp page for this album there is a solitary (for now) user review which says “Haven’t decided yet, if this is total crap or genius :-) Favorite track: Follow.” That pretty much sums up my thoughts on the latest from Liturgy.
Firstly, The Ark Work is totally nowhere close to what I was expecting as a follow-up to the hipster black metal darling (and I honestly do mean that in a complimentary way), Aesthetica. I mean, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix stoically raps over a MIDI chiptunes blaring black metal tremolo riffs. There’s fanfare horn sections, techno beats, ambiance, and a noticeable lack of black metal rasps (which are replaced with this kind of grunge era brooding singing/mumbling). Very little of what I loved about the black metal aspects of Liturgy made it over to this record, and yet this record is 110% Liturgy. Pretentious, experimental, ‘transcendental’. Yet, each time I give it a spin I ask myself, what the fuck am I listening to?
And somehow, I keep putting it on. It engages me every time. There is something absolutely genius in the confounding directions each song takes. The confusion is both infuriating and relaxing. Some of the performances are absolute shit, namely the vocals, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t say everything all fits together perfectly. It’s kind of like Steve Buscemi, a beautiful train wreck.
I think I lean more towards the opinion of genius on this one, but the cat’s still in the bag. I don’t know. I’m confused. Maybe it needs a more spins. But why do I continue to fucking listen to this album?
Let me know what you think of this mindfuck down in the comments. Enjoy! Peace Love and Metal!!!!
A couple of years past one of our readers suggested I give a listen to C.V.I. by Royal Thunder and pretty much right after the first spin I was absolutely in love with it. It is unlike anything I had heard. It encompasses the attitude of metal, the psychedelic tendencies of prog, the soul of blues rock, and the heart of Americana folk. Yet, if one were to pin it to one or a mix of those genres, it just wouldn’t fit in too well. It just sits there on its own doing its own thing. Now the Georgian quartet are here with a sophomore release to one of my favorite modern records and it does not disappoint. In fact, it quite surpasses any expectations I had.
As with C.V.I., a big driving force throughout the entirety of Crooked Doors lies within the singular voice of Mlny Parsonz. Exuding soul, emotion, and gravitas on every single note her bluesy vocals float effortlessly through whatever color or mood her band mates throw at her. Whether the personifying that snarl of grunge on ‘Time Machine’ or channeling her inner-Billie Holiday on ‘The Bear’ Americana suite, she will find a way tug at your heartstrings in some shape or form. And her lyrics just amplify the passion put into the singing.
Royal Thunder is a band and not the Mlny Parsonz show however, and with such a notable voice like hers, you better believe the rest of the crew are no slouches. There’s no superfluous solos, crushing rhythms, or show stealing riffs going on the record. What the real talent here is how all four member work together to lift the other up and create interesting and concise songs. On ‘Ear on the Fool’ a bright sounding ominous riff weaves through a serpentine rhythm creating this delightfully dizzying effect while the vocals keep the twisty turbulence in check. On ‘Forget You’ the doom metal riffing feels right at home with rock and roll vocals and on ‘The Line’ the fuzzy guitar tone melds perfectly with the Mars Volta-like passages of proggy psychedelia. There’s even a rather unique take on the ballad with ‘The Line’ delivering a grungy/country concoction. The record is filled with endless moments of one complimenting the other, and not only is it engaging but also makes repeat listens that much more enjoyable. This is a band that really feeds off of each other and it’s a pleasure to listen to.
Starting with a bang and ending on a solemn and uplifting note, Crooked Doors is a complete package. Whether you’re a fan of metal, rock, blues, prog, folktechbabbledethsludge-coorz, if you dig on simply damn great music this is a must listen. Not wanting depreciate their outstanding debut, this album is the outcome of hard work and honing a craft. There wasn’t a single moment I found my attention meandering from the music which is a testament to the strong songwriting and performances throughout its hour-long run time. The highest of recommendations. Peace love and metal!!! 5/5
120 years before our age, there is a Gentlemen’s Club of A Forest Of Stars, an exclusive brotherhood of Victorian Englishmen who consider themselves representatives of their era, an era as glorious and splendid as it is decadent. This collective finds its musical expression in hypnotic and ghostly Black Metal, expertly streaked with elements of Ambient and Psychedelic.
Yaaaa, with a band description like that on their Bandcamp page I couldn’t resist for a moment to not click the play button to hear what 18th Century Black Metal sounded like. Well, imagine if you will, a freshly brewed cup of Earl Grey tea…. spiked with opium. You raise the porcelain cup to your lips and while sipping take in the aroma. Since the tea is still hot you really don’t get the subtlety of the citrusy bergamot, just the relaxing touches of the base black tea. It’s nice, comforting. You sit back and relax. Then as the flavor cools down and starts to build across your palette you take another sip, this time the essence of those little, green, Italian oranges tickle your nasal cavity and leave a light and pleasant aftertaste for you to contemplate on.
The soothing effect seeps into your being even deeper. The clanging world around you just soothes as seemingly random and abstract sounds dance melodies from one ear to the next. Structure and waves, ebb and flow, anger and serenity, it all comes together in harmonious, chaotic glory. Oh shit, that must be the opium kicking in. Enjoy the ride. And my oh my what a ride. A trip to hear a small group of chamber musicians, see recital of poetry, feel the pattering of a London shower on your back, smell the pungency of the cod coming in from the docks. All your senses are heightened and carefully kneaded into a tasty cottage loaf. And damn does this aroma of little, green, Italian oranges leave a nice sensation.
So, ya, Beware the Sword You Cannot See basically starts out as a rather traditional post-black metal affair and then descends into an odd and unique trip of Eldrich psychedelia unlike anything out there. Yet somehow for how strange and chaotic the record can get it flows masterfully and is incredibly listenable. If trippy turns on black metal is your fancy, do check out A Forest of Stars. I promise, you will be delighted.
Label: My Kingdom Music
Release Date: March 16th, 2015
Songs: 10 + 5 Bonus Tracks
Genre: Power Metal
Studio Albums: Quest for Glory, Razorblade God, When Lightning Strikes
Location: Milan, Italy
Like most suburban middle class American kids camping was a rather regular part of my summertime curriculum. And like most camp outs in the middle of the woods a campfire was built at night and around it we sat telling ghost stories, roasting hot dogs, and making smores. Those times are some of my favorite childhood memories, though not as cherished as they should be. You see, there was always this one kid, let’s call him Little Billy, who really had a knack for crafting these really dark takes on the classics. Instead of the man with the hook for a hand popping up behind the campers, Billy took it steps further and had the hook-handed man brutally bludgeon the camper, pop their eyes out with the hook, and suffocate on broken glass. Then usually the camp chaperone would interrupt and end Little Billy’s macabre imagination.
Turns out Little Billy came from an abusive home filled with alcoholism, schizophrenia, and drugs. This I never learned about until I opened the paper one day saw an article about how Little Billy had gotten drunk, beaten his girlfriend to death, and then took his own life. Mutual friends and acquaintances filled me in on Billy’s childhood and my mind immediately recalled those horrible stories he would tell around the campfire. Since then, I have never been able to look back on those memories the same. Stuff like this is what I consider true horror.