There’s no shortage of bands out there who have tried to build a pedigree off of a general antipathy towards their listeners and the world at large. Groups that weaponize noisy, chaotic misanthropy and unbearably grim atmospheres have gone from a select few in a niche to a veritable trend within heavy music with the likes of Deathspell Omega, Dragged Into Sunlight, and The Body releasing albums that intentionally border on the unlistenable to repeated…
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.
Last we wrote about the LA post/math-rock enclave Arms of Tripoli was for their 2014 debut full-length Dream In Tongues, which came to us out of nowhere and quickly became a blog favorite among several of us for its mixture of bright and summery post-rock and shoegaze sounds with some knottier and more math-y elements thrown in to keep things more than interesting. As a brief personal pretext to this, Dream In Tongues was one of the first albums I reviewed for Heavy Blog, was the first album I had given a very positive review of, and it was also quite possibly the first album that myself and now editor-in-chief Eden Kupermintz (both of us were still just mere innocent and not yet completely jaded newbie writers at that point) bonded over, thus forging a friendship and partnership that is responsible for much of what you know of Heavy Blog as today.
One of the biggest misconceptions about rock and metal fans is that we’re all dreamer slackers with daydreams of musical superstardom. However, in the 90s, that didn’t stop Hollywood from churning out a slew of comedies which adhered to this notion. That said, the history of heavy movies is beleaguered by stereotypes anyway, so why should the 90s have been any different? The good news is that the decade did produce some hilarious efforts – a few of which went on to become cult classics – and that’s all that matters. Hollywood assumptions about subcultures aside, at least the cinema itself was entertaining.
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”.
The title is straight to the point! This week we have the great Mikee Goodman, vocalist of Sikth. Their new…
Change and progression have been requirements for respected rock bands (and art) for as long as there have been rock bands that want to be taken seriously. If you evaluate He Is Legend by this criteria only, they are one of the most successful bands of all time. Now He Is Legend are back with Few, their first album since Heavy Fruit in 2014.
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.
We’re going to take a tiny detour off our safari of weird music and talk about minimalism. First off: what the…
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.