There’s a very specific cross-section of post-rock, stoner rock and progressive rock in which exist bands like The Samsara Blues Experiment or Tumbleweed Dealer. It’s a section of music which draws on mid-era Pink Floyd for much of its characteristics and overall vibe but further complicates the influence by going deeper, louder and fuzzier on…
Powerviolence and deathgrind are a pretty strong combination if you want to get your face melted. A Buckshot Facelift, if you will. Hailing from New York, the band features members of Artificial Brain and Grey Skies Fallen. Enticed yet? Well, you can check out their new single “Czech Yourself” from their…
In my quest to fill Heavy Blog with the nastiest content possible, I decided to refocus on the genre of metal that fills my ears, heart and asshole with the most satisfaction. The genre is grind, obviously. Now, some of the bands I’ll be covering in this feature may lean more towards powerviolence, even death metal, but grind has never been one sound anyway. None of these bands are exactly alike. The title is not meant to denote feelings of annoyance or discomfort either. Far from it. These are songs that push me forward, no matter how hard everything else pushes back. Without any further fuckery, the first band to Grind My Gears is Greenville, South Carolina’s WVRM.
HARK’s previous record, Crystalline, marked them as one of the bands to watch from the multitude of artists emerging across the progressive stoner scene. That album held incredible promise, a promise which we’re now delighted to see fulfilled on their 2017 release, Machinations. It is a step forward in every respect, doing away with few problems Crystalline had and further solidifying HARK at the very top of their style. Cutting through some of the filler tracks from the previous album and enhancing the flow of the whole thing in the process, Machinations is a magnificent piece of music which belongs up there with the seminal works of Mastodon themselves.
On the first weekend of April, a selection of metal acts from across the globe will descend on the capital city of Scotland, bringing fans and revelers together in a smorgasbord of riffs, gutturals, beers and high fives. I will be one of these revelers and as such, felt it…
Black metal deserves every single piece of criticism laid at its doorstep. Let’s be very clear on that before we begin. You don’t get to base your genre of music on despicable, and sometimes plain murderous, figures and then act surprised when people levy enhanced and abrasive scrutiny against you. (I mean, you definitely can do that but it’s just childish and coy.) A genre which actively courts racism, nationalism, violence and shock images should not be surprised when people pick on it; you’re asking for it and, deep down, you fucking love it. Black metal wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the knee jerk reactions of mainstream culture towards it, clear and cut. If black metal’s original antics were simply taken in stride, if they were treated as the petulant children they so often were, the genre would have been stillborn.
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.
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is a hot-shit guitar player, no doubt about it. He was a core member of post-hardcore firebrands At The Drive-In and his Herculean strongman solos defined the sound of The Mars Volta, the love ‘em or hate ‘em prog punk freakout machine. After recording over 900 solo albums, he seemed to have decided that his maximalist style was maxed out. First it was Noctourniquet, the fairly straightforward, (allegedly) final album from the Volta. Then it was a new band with the longtime Plant to his Page—vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala—and the post-punkish Antemasque. Their debut record was even more conventional than Noctourniquet, with catchy choruses and riffs, and the least cryptic lyrics Bixler-Zavala has ever put to wax. So maybe, in retrospect, Crystal Fairy is not that surprising.
With their clever blends of genres, sounds and tones, these three EPs contain all that’s needed for an emotional crisis (and its catharsis). Voyager entices you with the promise and size of space, leaving you in a peculiar mood associated with exploration and your role within it. Gnosis brings you face to face with the overpowering aspects of knowledge and mysticism, wearing you down with black metal spliced with intense, oriental folk acoustics and drawn out abrasiveness. Fossils swoops in and dunks you in coldest winter, freezing you to the bone. Taken together, these EPs represent a truly powerful experience and an accomplished musical journey.
Just this week, as part of our Editors’ Picks column, I spoke a bit about the ever-changing soundscape of post-hardcore, its upcoming solidification as the genre proliferates and interesting combinations with existing sub-genres which might keep it fresh and moving. Holy Roar Records is a good place to continue this discussion; they’ve almost made it their specialty to sign artists from this milieu, drawing vast synonyms between the label and the sounds associated with post-hardcore. Naturally, you find some dross but most of what Holy Roar signs has interesting things to say about post-hardcore. Take Earth Moves for example. Their sadly overlooked release from 2016, The Truth in Our Bodies, is a fragile, honest and powerful album, blending post-hardcore vocals, doom instruments and post rock compositions. This amalgam creates both a sound unique to Earth Moves and a chilling sojourn in a stark place for the listener, populated with the band’s own psychodrama.