For those who missed our last installment, We post biweekly updates covering what the staff at Heavy Blog have been spinning. Given the amount of time we spend on the site telling you about music that does not fall neatly into the confines of conventional “metal,” it should come as no surprise that many of us on staff have pretty eclectic tastes that range far outside of metal and heavy things. We can’t post about all of them at length here, but we can at least let you know what we’re actually listening to.
As is typical of these posts, quite a few inclusions recently received the Heavy Blog seal of approval via positive reviews. KEN Mode‘s Success (here), Jaga Jazzist‘s Starfire (here), Thy Art Is Murder‘s Holy War (here), WRVTH‘s WRVTH (here), Tempel‘s The Moon Lit Our Path (here) and Mutoid Man‘s Bleeder (here) are all excellent albums worthy of your time. Of course, perhaps the most notable of these recent reviews is Coma Ecliptic, the latest offering from Blog favorites Between the Buried and Me. While reception to the new album has been mixed, Jimmy’s in-depth review (here) details exactly why so many members of our staff are fawning over the new record. Finally, a a few members of our staff have been listening to Maïak, the topic of our most recent Post Rock Post. If you love post rock as much as we do, be sure to read the post and check out Maïak here.
For those that would like to participate as well (and please do) can drop a 3X3 in the comments, which can be made with tapmusic.net through your last.fm account, or create it manually with topsters.net. Also, consider these posts open threads to talk about pretty much anything music-related. We love hearing all of your thoughts on this stuff and love being able to nerd out along with all of you.
Head past the jump to see which receiving regular rotation on our headphones, stereos and turntables:
It seems that every time a band releases a new record, they define it as their crowning achievement. This is to be understood, however, because any band that did not refer to their newest work, the work of their current state of mind, as their best, they would be living off the coattails of their past. In many cases, however, those claims are unsubstantiated, because by the time established bands release three or four records, the fans and media alike have picked their favorite and stuck with it. For Rosetta, the challenge was simple: utilize their new guitarist and fifth member to the fullest potential to create their best album yet. While the former would be no challenge, the latter seems to be the biggest struggle. Now that the record is complete, there are definitely a few things we can say about it that will surely excite every Rosetta fan, because this album is an absolute beauty.
Over the last couple of years, the phrase “post-black metal” has come to be associated with soundscapes of bright, twinkling guitars, overly-affected screamo, and an overall air of nostalgia and longing — oddly enough, a worthy candidate for the antithesis of metal. Acts like Deafheaven and Alcest popularized the style, but remain controversial acts among purists making somewhat valid arguments that neither band are metal at all. While there’s no shortage of bands combining post-metal and black metal while remaining within the confines of extreme music, the stereotype has infected the tag for everyone and comes with some preconceptions. New Hampshire’s Vattnet Viskar are making great strides in shaking this mischaracterization while keeping to the spirit of combining black metal, post-rock, and sludge.
New Hampshire post-black metal outfit Vattnet Viskar are poised to release a 2015 highlight (and possibly their best work yet!) with their upcoming record Settler. A lot of post-black bands these days tend to be on the flowery side of the spectrum, but what makes Vattnet Viskar such a great act is that they really do feel like a solid meld of black metal and the type of expansive post-metal descended from the strings of Neurosis rather than anything in the vicinity of Alcest or Deafheaven. So in case you’re unfamiliar with the act, don’t judge them by their genre and the peculiar album artwork — which, by the way, was inspired by this photo of Christa McAuliffe, the schoolteacher who was killed in the Challenger explosion in 1986. Kinda changes things, yeah?
So, this strange wave of bands migrating from black metal into other realms of music has been ongoing for quite a while now. Bands like Ulver or Alcest are the most famous (infamous?) names in this movement, with Anathema doing the same for doom and The Gathering for folk. I’m still divided on whether we can define this wave as a success but CODE have decided to add to it. Leaving by the wayside their black metal roots, CODE have released their newest album ‘mut’, all resplendent in somber prog vibes. Head on over the jump for the full stream.
Black metal from the United Kingdom typically presents an atmospheric approach rooted in (Celtic) folk and post rock/metal. Last year provided a handful of worthy examples of this trend, with Primordial (Ireland), Saor (Scotland) and Winterfylleth (England) all releasing albums that explored the boundaries within this formula. Falloch seem keen on keeping this style alive into the New Year with their sophomore album This Island, Our Funeral, a record most comparable to Saor from the aforementioned bands. Yet, while these Glaswegians once included Saor mastermind Andy Marshall in their ranks, what is presented on This Island, Our Funeral has a distinctly clean approach that bears a black metal tag solely in a thematic sense. The result is a beautifully painted landscape that utilizes an overly pastel palette.
Mysterious one-woman black metal project Myrkur is off to a humble start. Sprouting up seemingly overnight with a deal inked with Relapse Records, the release of the debut self-titled EP came and went without much fanfare. The buzz is still growing though, with near-universal critical praise and a growing Facebook presence. Perhaps soon Myrkur will become a fixture in atmospheric black metal; the act is already getting compared to the likes of Deafheaven, Alcest, and Ulver, and that’s not just because those were the go-to names attached to press releases, either.
There’s been a steady and gentle buzz building regarding enigmatic post-black metal act Myrkur. This Scandinavian one-woman act takes the blackened atmospheric work and lush melodies of acts like Alcest and Deafheaven and shrouds them in feminine mystique with interesting results. If you like your black metal unafraid to venture into clean vocal territory (complete with layered choir tracks!) with no shortage of melody, Myrkur’s self-titled EP needs to be on your radar.
Black metal has no shortage of one-man bands, but finding a woman in black metal — especially going it solo — can be a task. Relapse Records managed to discover one such act out of Denmark going by the name of Myrkur. The promo materials released so far tout the act as being for fans of Deafheaven, Alcest, and Ulver — tell-tale signs that Myrkur’s breed of black metal will be plenty ethereal and atmospheric, if not slightly experimental. The first bit of music from Myrkur’s self-titled Relapse debut comes in the form of the single ‘Nattens Barn,‘ which can be heard below.
Lists! What unruly, yet wholly necessary beasts. On the one hand, they offer a great opportunity to get a bearing on the amazing year 2014 has been so far. Just so you get an idea of exactly how awesome it’s been, the master list for these final 25 included over 100 albums. On the other hand, lists always have an arbitrary nature to them: why 25? Should they be ranked, un-ranked, color-coded, digitized or sent via smoke signal? However, we here at Heavy Blog is Heavy feel that most contentions can be resolved with just a pinch of salt: this is our list, derived from the entirety of our contributors and then voted upon. Yay, democracy!
So, please use this list as more of a guide than a definitive rule book for what’s cool and what’s not. If even one reader walks away from these posts with an extra album or band in tow, we’ll consider our mission accomplished. These posts will air all across the upcoming week, in installments of five at a time. The posts are unranked, although the final five was reserved for albums that enjoyed overwhelming consensus among our staff. You can also find a short list of albums that didn’t quite make the list but are still well worth a listen at the beginning of each post.
So without further ado, here’s an arbitrarily arranged list of awesome albums from 2014 so far. Remember: it’s okay to not like thing.