Xanthochroid – Of Erthe and Axen: Act I

To the uninitiated, it may appear that on the surface, the field of cinematic and symphonic metal is thinning. Following Wintersun’s embarrassing crowdfunding flop that was The Forest Seasons, an album through which Jari Maenpaa and Co. mishandled and squandered the good graces of fans of the sound by releasing an admittedly inferior album to the one that was promised for half a decade ago, it might not be immediately obvious who would pick up the mantle of epic prog/power/black/folk/whatever. The sound of Wintersun is highly ambitious, after all, and it could be forgiven if it was assumed by some that the breadth of scope offered (or promised, anyway) by Wintersun was unique to them.

Hey! Listen to Gregorio Franco!

When one thinks about synthwave they more often than not conjure up images of neon landscapes made up of transparent grids, sunsets, beaches, palm trees, fast cars and anything else that may fit into such an aesthetic. That said, one does not tend to think about upside down crosses, demons, serial killers and an overall sense of evil in turn. However, for every genre that has ever existed there lies a much darker side, a subgenre which turns things on their head and produces a much more heavier sound in response. For synthwave that would be darkwave or darksynth, either seem to be interchangeable for the most part, with well-known acts such as Carpenter Brut, GosT, Perturbator, and Dance with the Dead carrying the torch. Of course, for every well-known act, there are those who are scratching, clawing and going through hell to be noticed, many of whom were influenced by those already leading that proverbial charge.

Gregorio Franco is one of those dark souls of the synth and, if what he’s produced thus far is any indication, he is not only one to keep an ear to the ground on but one to keep an eye out for as well.

Post Rock Post – Seeress

This is third Post Rock Post that has emerged from A Thousand Arms dropping their latest compilation two weeks ago and I don’t think we’re even half way through them. There are plenty of more bands I’d like so shine a more specific light on; we’ll get there. For now, we have what is perhaps the most important name in this list of newly discovered (for me) post rock and metal bands: Seeress. As if the track on the compilation, “Attractor’, which opens their latest album wasn’t enough, the text on the release itself reeled me right in. It works marvelously with the grandiose sound of the band, giving the vibe chilling context.  Let’s head on over the jump for a listen, a read and then, a discussion.

Incantation – Profane Nexus

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.

Love Letter – Himsa

It’s hard to believe that there was a time before the steady stream of blasé lyric videos, but at the turn of the millennium, music video purveyor MTV had to “bring back” the music video. The artform was essentially replaced by trashy reality television and cartoons by the late 90s, but eventually came MTV2 – a quality sequel (well, for a few years) nobody really deserved. So I guess it only made sense that they also resurrected their metalhead favorite from the 80s and 90s soon thereafter – Headbangers Ball. After all, this era had a ton to offer. The NWOAHM movement was all the rage, metalcore was hitting its stride, and melodeath was pretty much the coolest shit ever. Given that the combo of Kazaa and my dial-up setup wasn’t doing me any good – true story: I waited days (plural) to download Meshuggah’s Chaosphere only to find out that some jerk just relabeled of Neurotica tracks (some truly evil bastards out there), this couldn’t have been better timing for a dude who had recently gotten his license and began to fall in love with hanging out at the record store – the internet, for me, sucked for digging up new tunes.

Hey! Listen To Sea In The Sky!

Do you like exclusively clean vocals? Do you like progressive rock with a bit of a groovy, even djent-y edge to it? Will you listen to anything that comes out of the San Francisco Bay Area music scene? Well then, have I got the band for you! They’re called Sea in the Sky and though they liken themselves to Periphery, CHON and Polyphia, I hear flashes of swancore bands like Dance Gavin Dance, Stolas and Hail the Sun. They’re releasing a new album on September 29th called Everything All at Once, but luckily we can listen to two singles from it right this very moment!

Low Flying Hawks – Genkaku

Doom metal, in its purest form, is Sisyphian, forever attempting to move its great weight over a seemingly unreachable peak. That that mythical figure was, well, doomed to his task for cheating death is an apt metaphor for the bleak artistry of this genre of metal. In attempting to establish where this particular scene lies in the greater schema of music right now we can look to this ancient myth as an apt metaphor. Taking into account the plethora of new releases, new Sisyphuses, pushing their own respective boulder-esque projects it’s easy to see that doom is in a bit of a renaissance, currently, as crucial (relatively) new bands such as Elder, Pallbearer, Dreadnought, and SubRosa have raised the bar for longtime practitioners.

Love Letter – Mastodon’s Leviathan

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?

Post Rock Post – Open Language Part II, Side B

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!

Akercocke – Renaissance In Extremis

While Akercocke aren’t necessarily what one would call a legendary band, they’re definitely a cult favorite, and very well-revered by those who know of them. As such, their disappearance was a big blow to fans of progressive death metal. Back in the day, Opeth and Akercocke were one of the few bands that could have comfortably fit in such a label. Ten years since their last release Antichrist, they’ve gotten back together and are ready to release their sixth full-length, Renaissance In Extremis. It’s been quite a while, and the genre has grown. Given that, how does a new album…