After getting Native Construct as guests last week, we’re back to our regular format for our fifth episode. This week on Heavy Pod Is Heavy Cast, Eden and I discuss new music from David Bowie, Obscura, Vipassi, Ulver and more. We then go into conversations about the history and relevance of guitar solos, vocal styles in context of their genre, and how we view older music. We go off the rails a lot this episode and discuss a lot of ancillary things, like mentioning Fallujah, WRVTH and Beyond Creation several times! Including me trying to make a point that I’m not being pretentious, by digging my hole deeper and accidentally saying even more pretentious stuff. Sorry for that! We really appreciate you listening to us.
Episode 5 – Black Astrology:
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It’s finally here! German tech death masters Obscura recently announced a new album with a teaser, and now they’ve come out with a new single, which happens to be the title track of the upcoming album Akroasis. And, well, it’s interesting to say the least. Let’s check it out.
On last week’s podcast, Eden and Noyan dove deep into the question of what it means for a genre to be “alive,” “dead,” or “revived.” One of those genres in question was post-metal, which is currently seeing more widespread attention given to it than it has in a while due to its prevalence and influence in many other higher-profile or ascending groups, from Deafheaven to So Hideous to Fallujah and Wrvth. Part of this discussion was spurred due to a recent article that made the rounds a few weeks ago from Doc Coyle writing over at VH1, in which he posited that post-metal was “the next big thing” in metal. As all the best clickbait headlines do, the article spread like wildfire and was met with a ton of derision and strong opinions, including around the Heavy Blog virtual watercooler. And for good reason, though perhaps not for the same reasons many think. Coyle’s thesis was not completely without merit (“next big thing” notwithstanding), but because he approached it from the completely wrong angle.
Music, like all art, seeks to evoke within us a certain emotion. What that is can differ drastically depending on the music: the lethargic, pleasant sway of Beach House creates a sense of satisfied joy, the downtune groove of Pantera brings with it a sense of angry energy, and the ferocious blasts of Emperor have a sense of claustrophobic terror, like being trapped in a forest in the dead of night.
Kardashev are no strangers to creating these feelings within people. Since their inception, they’ve been heavily focused on using synths to bolster the atmosphere of their music; a heady, technically-minded brand of progressive deathcore, their riffs hit hard as the synths lilt through the background and bring an enormous sense of scope to their music. They’ve released two EPs, the last one just a hair over two years ago, and now, they’re releasing their first full length, Peripety, today.
Hey, you! Yeah, you! You like space? You like the cold, unfathomable reaches, the enormous nebulae that plunge you into daily existential crises, the fact that we’re basically alone (for the time being) in a universe that makes us all look like specks so impossibly small, that calling us grains of sand on the world’s largest beach gives us way more import in the universe than we actually have? Well then, buddy, I have a great album for you.
Kardashev has been around for a little while now, and although they’ve released two EPs, Progression and Excipio, and the single “Iota”, this is their first full length release. They’ve used the time since Excipio, which came out just over two years ago, to explore and truly pin down their sound, and it absolutely shows on Peripety, which comes out tomorrow.
One of the most interesting things about 2015 as a year of metal is that many of the best albums have integrated a great deal of emotion and atmosphere in some way or another. From WRVTH’s self-titled techdeath landmark to Hope Drone’s post-rock/atmospheric black metal masterpiece, there’s been a huge step forward this year. It’s the first year of releases that’ve been entirely written post-Sunbather (because, like it or not, that album has changed the way many bands think about atmospheric parts of metal), and so it’s no surprise to see artists taking this level of atmosphere and emotionality into their music.
Unfortunately, this element isn’t the easiest tool to wield, and it’s something that’s used improperly just as often as it’s used in the right way. Improper usage of it can cripple a band and leave their songs feeling empty and bland, devoid of life and feeling instead of overflowing with it. This is, quite unhappily, the case with the The Color Clear, the new album from Minnesotan metalcore outfit Reflections, who strike again and again for the same sort of feeling as Sunbather but seem to miss nine times out of ten.
If you want to know what the best death metal in 2015 sounds like, look no further than Pennsylvania’s Rivers of Nihil, who are just about to drop Monarchy, one of the most impressive sophomore releases to ever come out of the death metal style. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re a fan of blast-happy insanity, head-bobbing grooves or expansive and progressive song structures, this album has it all, and it’s smoking damn near every other modern band in the process. Now that the band is just about to head out on the road in support of this monolith of a record, Brody Uttley had a conversation with Heavy Blog Is Heavy while he was in his car up headed up to New York for band practice. I had a chance to speak with him about balancing brutality with progressive song ideas, handling the recording process on his own, the band’s touring plans, and much more!
A crucial aspect of making a great record should be to set a tone and follow through on the promise of that tone. Bands can sometimes have a hard time adhering to the tone they establish because they want to do so much, but in the end they lose sight of what they were trying to accomplish in the first place. This is not said as an insult to experimentation and diversity, but rather to applaud maintaining a certain level of consistency in the identity of the music. A band who have a firm grasp on the role that tone and consistency play are thrash revivalists Black Fast. Their third album Terms of Surrender lets listeners know from the get go what they’ll be experiencing when they throw on this hefty slab of blackened and face-melting tunes.
If you’re in the northern hemisphere like most of you who read this site, then you’re no doubt enjoying the benefits of natural seasonal changes as the nightmare that was winter 2015 has given way to a beautiful spring. And if you’re in the southern hemisphere — particularly if you’re in Australia, as many of our readers are — you’re almost certainly feeling the relief of more tolerable temperatures as your summer has given way to fall and is quickly approaching winter. Either way, all over the world we’re entering the magical time of year known as Festival Season. Many of the biggest and best bands in the world (and leagues of smaller ones as well) are preparing to set out for various tours and huge outdoor festivals that will attract thousands upon thousands of individuals. The global festival circuit has become so huge and varied though that it can be nearly impossible to know where even to start if you’re looking to travel to one.
We’re here to help! Obviously there are far too many metal festivals around the world for us to provide anywhere near a comprehensive list, but we asked our staff to highlight a few festivals on 3 continents — North America, Europe, and Australia (apologies to the rest of the world as we only have so many staff members from different places). Check them all out below!
Sweeping in to cause up quite a squall, the California-based WRVTH (“Wrath”, formerly Wrath of Vesuvius) are premiering a new track today from their new album, the upcoming self-titled WRVTH. The band has had some issues in the past regarding the release of their previous album, Revelations, since it came out, and it’s good to finally hear a full new song from these upcoming technical deathcore aficionados.