The annals of post rock will look kindly on the somber parts of the genre. In the past few years, they’ve been some of the most prolific, drawing on the once-not-obvious proximity between post rock and post metal. These bands, like If These Trees Could Talk or Outrun the Sunlight, create an atmosphere that is darker in its shadings than the post rock of the mid 2000’s, relying on booming drums and thick bass to garnish their delayed guitars. Into this context burst Astralia, a Barcelona based band with three albums to their name. Their most recent effort, released just a few days ago, sees them polish their style and cohesion. On Solstice, Astralia make a worthy addition to the realm of ponderous post rock and all the intonations one might expect from that label.
These posts are written by: Eden Kupermintz
Editor’s Note: the below fan letter was submitted to the blog by Steven Jaynes, and is being published with little to no edits. If you’re interesting in sending us your own love letters (to an album, a band, a genre, whatever), please don’t hesitate to do so at mail[at]heavyblogisheavy[dot]com! Remember, as Elbow say: “love is the original miracle”.
On Madonnawhore, his latest solo effort, Driver embraces this image, creating an album of touching ballads which draw on the dreamy, art rock/pop themes that have become part of his staple sound. Interspersed with plenty of medieval references, the album also seems very much aware of its origins and historical context. The result is a rich and immersive album that sees the spotlight shift towards Driver’s delivery and emotional range, as befits any collection of ballads. This emotional fluency is best exemplified by “Avignon”, a touching track that hits deep right at the album’s beginning. Avignon itself was the city in which the Avignon Papacy was housed during the conflict between the French Crown and the Roman Papacy. It’s a city, located as it is on the south of France, that evokes heady themes of citrus, faint heat, spring and also erudite resistance, schism, affluence and opulence.
There are things out there in the world that make you laugh wholeheartedly with how heavy they are. There are also things out there in the world that make you go “huh?”. The best things are those that do both these things at the same time and I’m proud to present to you one of those right here, right now, in the form of Subetroth. What is this? While their music can certainly be described as avant-garde doom, they sound nothing like their others in the sub-genre, like SubRosa for example. Subetroth however are so damn weird and doom-based that this is the only label that fits. They blend fretless guitar and bass with Southern/Western folk instruments and a doom so heavy, it makes you laugh. OK, just head on below for your first listen so I don’t have to tie my tongue into any more knots.
Art is less concerned with clear borders or delimitation. In fact, it thrives where uncertainty flourishes, giving us a wordless dictionary to help us understand, empathize, and connect with phenomena too nebulous for a direct approach. The artist (and this is no original thought, as reading any number of countless thinkers on aesthetics will show you) is more of a mediator than an explainer, someone who is able to speak both the odd un-language of art and the odd language of our daily lives. Ulver have always understood this. From their black metal roots, channeling the wild indifference of nature, and through their by-now countless transformations, they have served as a unique trumpet for the unintelligible and yet impossible to ignore intonations that flash ceaselessly across the skies of our culture.
Music is often about the mixing of elements. The theme of mixing light and dark, slow and fast, heavy and light seems only to be increasing as time goes by and music searches for new ways to be expressive. This kind of melange also affords bands opportunities when they consider their own grown, apart from the overall trajectory of music. What was once a judgemental contrast can be broken apart to fuel forward motion, one side given precedence over the other in the quest for individual novelty. Outrun the Sunlight’s latest release, Red Bird, is a perfect example of this. Meditating upon the inherent conflicts extant in their earlier works, the post-rock band have decided to lean more heavily on their more introspective tones.
I’ve been on a post black metal binge right now and let me tell you, I regret absolutely nothing. The stylistic fringes are doing some great things right now, perhaps feeding off of the general momentum black metal seems to have in 2017. As part of this slew of new bands, UK based Asira have carved something of their own niche within my rotation. I’ve seen black metal tinged with almost everything but progressive rock is a new one for me. That’s exactly what Efference does though: into the dream-y tremolo riffs and weighty blastbeats, it injects raw, treble focused solos that best belong on a Led Zeppelin album. Alongside, it also includes clean vocals and ambient sections which remind one of King Crimson or Yes. Yeah, I know, right? Head on below for your listen
A small, personal preface before we begin: if you’re wondering about the slew of Ayreon related content on the blog lately, this album is the reason. Ayreon has always been of my favorite artists but I’ve had a rough time connecting with his latest releases. Spoiler: The Source changes all that and has allowed me to reconnect with one of my all time favorite musicians. There aren’t a lot of things as great as that out there, the rush of familiarity, nostalgia and enjoyment that breaks down the barriers of suspicion and anxiety that come before a beloved artist releases new work. Fortunately, in this case, my worries were completely misplaced.
I need to take a deep breath and muster my courage as I sit down to write these words. *prognotes…
Diminutive power is very much the driving force behind This Week In the Universe. Their debut, self-titled album explores the many ways in which synthwave can be contained, ranging from lush synth tone to another, all the while leaving the listener beguiled and intrigued rather than overwhelmed or enraptured. The trick lies in the variety of the album; in lieu of flashy hooks and churning riffs, This Week In the Universe must instead rely on a varied and rich palette of tones and sounds to make sure we’re still listening. And that’s exactly what they do.