Metal has an abiding relationship with physical and geographical spaces. From the rolling cascades of the Pacific Northwest to the dense, foreboding forests of Norther Europe, metal has long championed music that not only exists in a specific physical place but is often consumed by it. Think the ice cold tremolo knives of Norwegian black metal, or perhaps the gentler wanderings of folk metal from across the globe, or the oppressively heavy and moderately paced trudging of Bayou sludge. To these ears, these are sounds that are intended to transport and project us into a physical space that often adds further distinction to the thematic and lyrical themes of the music. The same could be said of the music of Incantation, but opposed to feeling like the American East Coast from whence the band originates, the death metal legends have composed music for decades that feels as if it is slowly emerging from a deep, hellish cave. It is reverberating, dripping filth bathed in oppressive guitar work, echoing and cavernous vocals, and a seething, roaring rhythm section that feels like an earthquake. It is a sound shrouded in slow, creeping, all-consuming darkness that feels viscerally physical, and Incantation have molded and transformed this beastly noise into something close to perfection.
I deliberated a lot on how to start this piece. How can one even do justice to an album so timeless and revered; and more importantly, an album that has been written about to hell and back for over a decade now? An album that not only single-handedly jump-started the band’s illustrious career, but also manages to retain its impeccable excellence next to releases today?
Hello! A little over a week ago, I informed you that good guys A Thousand Arms are back with yet another incredible compilation. Side A of Open Language Vol. II, with which the last post was mainly concerned, focused on post rock and metal bands from the good ol’ USA. We dug deep into the release finding plenty of gems hidden without it. Now, I’m back as promised to take a close look at Side B, which collects post rock and metal bands from all over the world. This side caught me a bit unawares; it suffered from a slightly lackluster opening half. However, there are some bands almost hidden as a reward for the careful listener near the end of the volume that more than make this side a must listen as well. Let’s dig in!
While Akercocke aren’t necessarily what one would call a legendary band, they’re definitely a cult favorite, and very well-revered by…
Every once in a great while we have calendar years that see iconic releases across a range of styles. It is rare that we see this happen in just one particular style. 1987 was one such year, though, as the entire spectrum of heaviness saw iconic records drop like so many tears from the eyes of mainstream pop music stars that these albums would devour. At the time, it didn’t seem like this was any different of a year for music until fans started to take a look at their growing record collections and what would spin out from the influence of so many landmark albums.
Comeback albums are in vogue this year, especially for rock music and its offshoots. At the Drive-In, Gorillaz and nearly every major shoegaze pioneer (The Jesus and Mary Chain, Ride, Slowdive, etc.) have all resurfaced for returns-to-form or late-career flops, depending on whom you ask. The fact many of these bands had been laid to rest for decades certainly contributed to disappointment among some fans, as did the heightened expectations created by their pre-breakup classics. Part Chimp bucks the drawbacks of all these metrics with their hiatus-smashing record Iv, which provides and incredible delivery of the band’s signature blend of sludge-ridden noise rock and stoner metal. The band’s comfortable position in the underground and relatively short hiatus—they disbanded in 2011 and reunited last year—has allowed Iv to feel less like a comeback album and more like a reunion with a beloved friend, where good memories come flooding back and it feels as though everything is still in its right place.
This week we cover a usual assortment of topics. Jeff Loomis not being allowed to write for Arch Enemy, Thom Yorke and Roger Waters going at it about Israel, Soundcloud being on the verge of death, kind of, the new Enslaved single, and this interesting op-ed from WSJ about how negative music reviews have disappeared. We also revisit the latest Shokran album, then talk about small things in songs that immediately sell us on them. Then some cool people time, with Hannu Rajaniemi’s The Quantum Thief, Brian Catling’s The Erstwhile, and more! Enjoy!
By the way, the NYN album Entropy: Of Chaos And Salt is finally out, so check it out!
I chose to open this review with a personal question because I am facing a crossroad; Leprous are among my favorite artists. Their sense of aesthetic, their delivery, their approach to emotions have all taken root in my heart over countless of hours of listening, a couple of live shows and four albums. But now, I am faced with Malina, an album that represents, to me, a surrender of their sound, a certain complacency which I never thought to find in their work, ever. Do I cast my judgement on the band’s essence, consigning them to derision, or do I try and appreciate the effort and intention behind the album and attempt to glean the essence beyond the phenomenon? The answer, as befits such complex questions, is a bit of both. On one hand, it’s very easy to find something to hold on to with Malina; we’re still talking about an accomplished and skillful band here, who are able to produce good music. On the other, that music is of dubious direction and style.
The purpose of this post is not to give you a play by play description of the festival; this isn’t a show review first and foremost. The idea instead is to give you a feeling for what attending the festival is like, whether by describing the location, some of the shows, the overall air or even the food on offer. The purpose of this post is to see as many of you as possible at the next year’s festival. This institution is well needed in the metal scene and it’s a pleasure to be able to support it in my own way. There’s only one condition: you have to say hello next year if you do come. I’ll buy you a beer, promise. Let’s get to it, shall we?
The Interbeing is a band that’s been making waves over the last few years. I keep seeing their name crop up in all sorts of places, like running orders for festivals or djent aficionados’ retorts to claim that djent is dead. Thus, when I was contacted to run their premiere, I was immediately intrigued; who are these oddly named bunch? Well, turns out that I should have listened to them sooner as they deal in the type djent/alternative metal for which I have a soft spot. Oh, and their new video is an absolutely delightful piece of science fiction, well produced and well written. What more do you need to know? Head on down below for your first listen!
Each month, we always seem to come to the same conclusion when it comes to our Editors’ Picks column: Friday release days open the floodgates and unleash a seemingly endless stream of quality new music. But while some of our Editors and Contributors sit down gleefully each week to dive into this newly stocked treasure trove, others find themselves drawing a blank at the end of the month due to the breakneck pace needed to keep up to date with what’s been released. Which brings us to this Heavy Blog PSA: a weekly roundup of new albums which pares down the the week’s releases to only our highest recommendations. Here you’ll find full album/single streams, pre-order links and, most importantly, a collection of albums that could very well earn a spot on your year end list. Enjoy!