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.
These posts are written by: Jordan Jerabek
New York-based post-black metal duo Mavradoxa made a quick turnaround with the follow-up to their 2016 debut, Sojourners, a record that wore its love for Agalloch and on its metaphorical and literal sleeves. Lethean Lament picks up right where Sojourners left off, and despite the brief period between releases, Lament is a fuller, more developed, and polished version of the band, one that also benefits from a much-improved mix. Essentially, Lethean Lament is what you’d expect from a quality post-black metal record: adventurously long tracks, gush-worthy cleans, charred in-your-face passages, and some tasteful string arrangements thrown in for good measure. At a glance, it’s a superbly-composed love letter to the the genre, skillfully pairing elegant and embellished passages with malicious affronts, while sharpening the effects of each against one another.
Brooklyn’s Couch Slut is a band who is very deliberate when it comes to word choice. How else would you end up with that band name? It certainly doesn’t make finding them on Facebook easy. There’s never an autocomplete suggestion given for their name, even as you get to the second “U”. Zuckerberg & Co. would rather assume we’re trying to get to the personal page of Couch Slug (a seemingly inactive account) instead of insinuating that it’s users would actually seek out something with the word slut in it. It’s not rocket science. It’s an off-putting word. It’s an unsavory word. It makes people uncomfortable. I admittedly had a brief pause about liking their page because I’d imagined how this would come across my family’s newsfeed (sorry for any confusion, Aunt Mel!). So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Couch Slut create hideous music. They cover topics like substance abuse, sexual assault, and a shitshow of the other headfucking kinds of disrespect that humans endure from one another with the instrumentation to back it up.
From the first seconds of The Evening Redness, you wouldn’t be negligent in assuming that Milwaukee’s Lotus Ash have spent some time worshiping at the altar of Om. The prelude opener of “Man’s Purpose: War” kicks things off with a mystifying, monolithic chant and burly walls of wooly distorted guitars. The percolating tom work comes to full boil as things culminate in the second part of the opening duo, “But War Is God,” resembling tar in the kettle – hefty and dense, with gurgling throaty tones that parallel the vocal introduction. The organic qualities to their tone hint and anchor them to a post-metal classification, while other shades within it tell of their penchant for the doomier side of the spectrum.
Last year, my interest was piqued by a surprise release from Woodsplitter, an instrumental solo project from Ben McLeod, guitar player of one of my favorite “new” bands, Nashville’s All Them Witches. Inflamed examines metal guitar through a variety of lenses: post, prog, death, stoner, doom, and even krautrock; showcasing an impressive variety and a refined level of comfort as each track seems to pare down to the core of what makes these sounds appeal to so many. His newest venture, Egyptian Overload explores an even wider swath of sounds and textures, plus the addition of saxophone. I asked Ben a few questions about the project, the rawness of his latest record, and future plans.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of catching up with Cade Gentry (bass), Alex Linden (vocals/guitars) and Zach Johnson (vocals/guitars) of doomsters Bereft (who just released a great new record titled Lands). Like any legitimate conversation that takes place in Wisconsin, we met for a couple of beers at a local tavern and discussed important things like which chain makes the “best” shitty pizza, how Def Leppard may or may not suck, and the merits of quality TV like Forensic Files and Designing Women. Most of our time was spent talking about how these regular dudes came together to put out one helluva heavy-ass record (seriously, check it out).
In a mere five years, Nashville’s All Them Witches have the discography of a band well beyond their years – not in terms of output, but by means of musical growth over only four full-length records. “Maturity” is a term that gets thrown around too often when talking about a band’s development, but the four-piece’s latest effort, Sleeping Through the War, seems to warrant such description – especially when reflecting on the relative purity of the group’s first album. The band has come a long way in a short time and have crafted an enigmatic and unpredictable nature, with each release since defying expectations and satisfying with wonderment. That being said, Sleeping Through the War follows suit standing as yet another hallmark for the band, and arguably their most eclectic record to date.
From Ingrats’ opening jazzy piano and drum duo on “Gimme a break,” it’s apparent that one-man experimental black metal project netra is taking on the genre from a more sophisticated headspace than the torch-bearing, forest-wandering forefathers of the genre. It’s easy to connect the dots to more progressive-leaning artists like Ulver or Altar of Plagues, and to a lesser degree, Norway’s Shining, but those comparisons fall short of capturing netra’s homogenous blend of nostalgic blackened melodies with ambitious electronic leanings.
The state of progressive or technical death metal is an interesting one as it has relatively quickly found the fancy…
I couldn’t be more excited to premiere a track from the upcoming full-length from Minneapolis-based avant-garde death metallers Sunless. Urraca (out February 24th) is a Gorguts-ian psychedelic death metal trip that will impress with their technical proficiency as much as their ability to craft attention-grabbing and captivating songs. Engineered by Adam Tucker and mixed/mastered by Colin Marston, this record is a simple remedy for the aforementioned yuck production. Even at their most dissonant, everything locks together nicely without any one thing sounding like it’s dripping with sonic highlighter.