With their latest record, Atonement, Immolation has brought to our ears what is essentially Jake LaMotta in audio. It is not attempting to impress with flashy speed or impenetrable technique. It is instead a fiendishly calculated and precise blow to the face; a menace glowering over the fallen, emanating power and reveling in destruction newly wrought. It is punishing. It is methodical. It is precise. It is destructive.
It’s necessary to start this review with a bit of a history lesson, because, frankly, I’m not really sure anybody who reads our blog has exactly kept up with Emmure’s turmoil as a band: at the very tail end of 2015, every instrumentalist in Emmure walked away from the band in unison, leaving only vocalist and noted edgelord Frankie Palmeri to carry on the mantle of one of deathcore’s most maligned and antagonized groups. In what could reasonably be deemed a huge middle finger to the four ex-members, as well as a way to definitely make sure he stayed in the…
In America during the 1960s, times they were o’ changing. Rock n’ roll was huge, Beatlemania was runnin’ wild, the Civil Rights Movement was changing the world, hippies were doing drugs and having sex all over the place, and other countercultures that opposed televangelism and conservatism in favour of individualism and free thinking were suddenly more popular than ever. Times like these also afforded men like the Church of Satan’s founder Anton LaVey to become mainstream celebrities, both feared and adorned, and if there’s one man that was essential in the emergence of Satanic philosophy becoming known in the public consciousness, it’s Lavey.
Garage rock is one of those more amorphous genre tags that nevertheless has a very identifiable sound to it. You might not be able to describe what it is exactly beyond fuzzy guitars, generally lo-fi production, and punchy, catchy songs, but you know what it is when you hear it. It’s not a style I’m totally enamored with as oftentimes the stripped-down approach comes off as a bit too facile and simple, trying to make up for a lack of depth and with immediacy and charismatic energy. Hailing from Los Angeles, Meatbodies are proving to be an exception to the rule for me, though most of that stems from their evolving way beyond simple garage into something far more interesting and fun.
This post probably seems way out of place among the many pieces I’ve written for Heavy Blog. But for anyone that knows me, bands like Emmure comprised the bulk of my high school listening, and I threw down hard during their set at Warped Tour 2010. That same year marked the peak of my adoration for “-core” music, though, as I started gravitating more towards the old school metal bands that my friend Mark would show me during lunch. My iPod started filling up with songs like “Dead but Dreaming” by Deicide rather than “Dead but Dreaming” by Carnifex, and before I knew it, I was another metal elitist scoffing at the very thought that Emmure used to be one of my favorite bands. Thankfully, I’ve matured quite a bit since then; not to the point where I’d write an “In Defense Of” post for Emmure, but enough to ignore any news updates about the band rather than leaving an unproductive shitpost in the comments section (“lol, binary code metal, amirite???”). And as I saw updates on their latest album Look at Yourself, it made me reminisce about my old listening habits and prompted me to revisit what used to be my favorite record of theirs: Felony. The result was the following nostalgia-ridden Stepping Stone for a band I view as both one of the worst and most important bands that defined the trajectory of my growth as a metal fan. It was my full intention going into this to be as objective and honest as possible, and I hope this will read as a fair critique of one of metal’s most polarizing bands.
When is something good just as another example of its genre, without effort at innovation or experimentation? In other words, how do you distinguish between something that’s just lazy and an earnest work of art created out of love of the genre that might go a bit too far with leaving most of that genre’s tenets intact? Sail’s Slumbersong raises these questions and then some, as it mercilessly worships stoner metal in all its fuzzy glory, never bothering itself with saying anything new or audacious about the genre. But you know what? It works. Slumbersong is a pleasing album, clearly crafte with love and a not irrelevant amount of talent for riffs, raspy vocals and groove.
Known internationally for his work with Shearwater, Smog/Bill Callahan, the Angels of Light, Swans, and Devendra Banhart, Thor Harris is also a legendary craftsman whose woodworking skills are apparent in the handcrafted percussive instruments he employs – Monofonus Press. Our latest piece in this series on protest music and art is an interview with Thor Harris, he of the crushing soothing percussive sounds behind Blog faves, Swans, and lately more notorious for having been banned from Twitter for either a video on how to punch a Nazi (don’t do it unless you have to) or for images used on his profile. YMMV.
Cynic is a legendary and influential band. Since news that drummer and founding member Sean Reinert has left the band, many fans have wondered what is on the horizon, if anything. While there’s still no word on new music from co-founder and guitarist/vocalist Paul Masvidal (who vowed to continue the band), late last year, an announcement from the realm of music archaeologists got nerd minds spinning. Uroboric Forms: The Complete Demo Collection would be released and fans would maybe get some answers about how the hell Cynic went from being in Death (which was basically a Chuck Schuldiner backing gig) to dropping an absolutely groundbreaking gem in Focus. Southern Florida in the late 80s and early 90s is hallowed ground in extreme metal. Would Uroboric Forms rewrite the narrative?
It’s been a while since I could just write about some excellent, expressive post-rock. No genre slashes, no wild experimentation, just good old expansive, dream-y, beautiful post-rock. Luckily for me, Heron released You Are Here Now and gave me just such an opportunity. The album is an expressive and evocative take on classic post-rock, hitting the same sorrow tinged pressure points as The Khost or mid-era Explosions in the Sky. It manages to shrug off the aura of mediocrity that too often smothers the genre and soars well beyond its confines. On the way, it gathers influences from a range of rock styles and channels them all through a contemplative lens. Let’s meet after your first taste of it.
Fight the Fight are still in the earliest stages of defining their own sound, despite many years of playing together under another moniker, but they’ve certainly nailed something here that is a combination of metal and emocore style punk (think At the Gates meets A Day to Remember). There are some really sweet melodic hooks in the choruses especially in the lead track.
We’ve spoken a lot about the importance of atmosphere in post-rock, post-metal, and other instrumental rock music here on this site. Cinematic music that is more concerned about mood, texture, and sense of place than any particular riffs or technical prowess often gets a bad rap from many looking to be actively engaged and hooked in. There’s something to be said for music that possesses the transportive quality though. Songs and albums that are able to construct entire sonic worlds within the span of a few minutes, evoke the senses in strong ways, and create a full sense of immersion are difficult to pull off well, but when done right allow the listener to form bonds with the music in ways that few other sounds can.