Photo credit: Casey Mathewson You know what I love the most about this post? You guys have literally no idea what…
These posts are written by: Eden Kupermintz
We here at Heavy Blog are proud to have been saying “what the hell is in Australia’s water?” for at least five years now. The music scene over there has been blowing up for at least that long, if not longer, creating some of the most innovative, crushing, intriguing and just plain excellent music in the world. To these by-now hallowed annals we can add Cancer, a black metal band that’s all about ambiance, abrasive tonality and depressing atmosphere. Hot off of their second release, Into the Heartless Silence, Cancer seem poised to add to the growing plethora of excellent black metal being made today, offering their own version on the formula with their own off-kilter and disharmonious touches to composition.
Naturally, hearing more about what makes such a band tick, since they seem to fuse black metal with a whole lot more influences operating in the background. And, indeed, when you look at the picks that John Pescod (vocals) included below and their write ups, you find classical black metal influences alongside more discordant and twisted takes on the classic genres. Thus, without further ado, we consign you to the able hands and vocal chords of Pescod, for a dive into what makes a modern black metal band work. Don’t forge to also head on over to the band’s Bandcamp below to listen and order the album. You won’t regret it.
We’ve already spoken in the past about Turin’s musical scene; it’s an esoteric but important one, for those of you who didn’t read that particular musing, with ties to punk and DIY scenes in general. Thus, finding that Ultra-Violence are from there shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to you. Their aggressive thrash is well in keeping with the image of Turin’s past and (maybe) it’s future. On Operation Misdirection, the band showcase their unique penchant for unbridled aggression which, with impressive agility, also allows room for interestingly intricate and progressive segments alongside some more heavy metal influenced arena choruses. Throughout, the trick is going to be keeping the listener on their toes enough to alleviate some of the repetitiveness that’s built into thrash metal.
God, I’m such a sucker for hopefully named post-rock tracks. The genre, with its over the top crescendos and stark contrast, already makes me introspective and filled with wonder so the track names are like the cherry on top, a final twist of the emotional knife. It also helps when the music itself is brilliant, as is the case here. ISLES, based in California’s Bay Area, have been around for a while now but have yet to garner widespread attention in the post-rock genre. Perhaps now, with the resurgence of amazing music being made in the post-rock spaces that are mostly centered in the US, they can get the attention they deserve. Their groove filled sound certainly draws from the same wellsprings as band like Man Mountain, This Patch of Sky or set and setting do.
This is the kind of approach we should taken when approaching the latest Void Ritual album. This one man project by Daniel Jackson has been around for a while; Jackson himself has been involved with multiple projects, usually from a multi-instrumentalist perspective. His latest release is very much founded within the tropes of USBM, whether Jackson intended that to be the case or not. Thus, you can expect plenty of fast riffs, creating that abrasive feeling that makes black metal what it is, but interjected with more melody than European black metal usually allows its chords.
Sometimes, writing introduction paragraphs is a silly exercise; this is one of those times. Surely no one needs me to…
If you read my entry on this month’s Editors’ Picks (publishing in a few days), you’ll see that I talk about growth there. Without spoiling my pick for this month (hint: it’s not too far stylistically from Plini), let me repeat, briefly, my ideas from there: one of the greatest thing in the world is seeing an artist grow. Watching someone dig deep into why they make music and take ideas that were just hinted at in their early works as foundations for something greater is one of the main reasons why I spend so much time with music journalism. There really aren’t too many examples which better drive this point home than Plini; from bedroom project, through nu-prog sensation and all the way to an artist which constantly (and I mean constantly, take a look at his tour dates) tours the world, Plini has grown before our eyes into one of the most impressive and intriguing musicians around.
In 2018, the following sentence is a confession: I still really like brit-rock. Don’t get me wrong, the genre deserved everything it got; under the guise of alternative music and a rebel spirit, it connived with corporate interests to create some of the most plastic and regurgitated music ever made, hiding it all under the selfsame guise of edgy counter culture. But I was confessing; I still really like it. I like the morose style of vocals, I like the straight-forward guitar music, and I like the thin veneer of British depression and snark which coats it. And I love it when all of those elements are mixed with modern music, especially progressive rock. That’s a pretty specific formula but, luckily for me, Death and the Penguin have been working at it for a while now.
For those willing to rummage through the fecund fields of modern post-rock, there’s plenty to appreciate in this new life, springing to action for a decade now. A good example is Talons, whose experimental take on the genre and unique timbre makes a resplendent return and rebirth on their latest album, We All Know. The first half of the album is a more condensed version of that sound, leaning heavily on noise rock and other, chunkier genres for its punch and impact. Thus, tracks like “On Levels” and “Movements on Seven”, channel a more urgent, industrial sound that reminds us at times of Stateless by way of early Long Distance Calling, a kind of urgent post-rock that’s more abrasive and compact for that urgency, even when it builds up and releases slowly.
Welcome, once again, to the column which exists solely so we could have a place to say: “hey, we fucked up”. And boy, did we fuck up this time; despite getting some traction in our circles, we never covered Locust Leaves’ 2017 release, A Subtler Kind of Light. It’s a major fuck up for several reasons: first, the project contains none other than Ayloss of Spectral Lore, one of my personal favorite musicians in black metal. Second, the album itself is a blend of progressive death metal, folk, black metal and avant-garde, basically ticking every single box of stuff that Heavy Blog cares about. And, lastly and most importantly, it’s fucking amazing.