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.
I love me some doom metal. Riffs as chewy as Dubble-Bubble, grooves that make Fat Albert look like Calista Flockhart, and more experimentation than a suburban teenager who just discovered weed and masturbation. There’s so much to love from this genre, and yet I see that a lot of doom fans are still stuck in the Candlemass, St. Vitus, Black Sabbath days and they tend to not notice that there are a great amount of bands in the modern scene really innovating on the genre (while simultaneously keeping what’s so great about it intact).
Here’s a little list of five bands (in no particular order) which can be found on Bandcamp I feel any self-respecting doom fan should take the time to listen to. My rules for this list were they had to have a full album to listen to on Bandcamp naturally, be relatively new, and they have to still be active. So as much as I’d love to add Avatarium, Order of Israfel, or Alunah, they don’t quite meet my guidelines, so go check them out on your own time. If you know of some doom bands that you want to shout out, drop a comment! Enjoy! Peace Love and Metal!!! Read the rest of this entry →
In my CD collection I have a few CDs where I have no idea when or where I bought them. They just kinda appeared. One of those is this double CD called Urwerk by Finsterforst. It’s nothing outstanding; an ok record. Still for the life of me, I can’t remember ever buying it. Anyhoo, I’ve only really listened to it a handful of times and it basically sounds like Moonsorrow plus an accordion player hopped up on a cocktail of cocaine and amphetamines. Not bad, but a tad repetitive, long-winded, and that overload of accordion can get a bit annoying at times. I do appreciate the ‘what if Korpiklaani were a black metal band’ thing as an experiment, but… Oh, well. So, when I saw that we got a promo for the latest record from this anomaly in my CD collection I decided to give it a spin to see if these guys were still berating listeners with post-neo-accordion-black-metal. To my surprise, what I found is nearly a whole different band who kept their best elements, shook their formula around, and sent their accordion player to rehab. In short, a band which has really matured a lot since my last experience with them.
“It sounds like a ‘insert the same band name as the album here’ album.” In my years as a metal fan and hobbyist writer I have heard and lazily used that phrase way too often. An Amon Amarth, Primus, Slayer, Tool (one can keep dreaming right?) new album pops up, a quick sum up is requested, and that phrase gets the point across to existing fans quick enough. It can be a good thing as well as bad. Sure it says that the pedigree of quality is there but also doesn’t take into account any forward (or backward) progress in the bands unique, established sound may have undergone. Yet after listening to the newly minted release, Beyond the Red Mirror, from German heart-throbs Blind Guardian I honestly can’t think of a better way to describe it summarily. It sounds exactly like what you would expect a Blind Guardian album to sound like. Though, allow me to explore that statement just a tad deeper.