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.
Numerous inclusions have received the Heavy Blog stamp of approval in one form or another. The Raven Autarchy‘s The Obscene Deliverance, Katatonia’s Sanctitude and The Crinn‘s Shadowbreather all received glowing reviews, and our pseudo-review of the excellent new collaboration between Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld – Never were the way she was – saw editor Nick Cusworth gushing over his current album of the year. This coming week, expect reviews for And So I Watch From Afar‘s Heirs and Leprous‘ The Congregation, both of which appear in this update and are current Heavy Blog favorites for 2015. In the meantime, stream Heirs here and read our interview with Leprous frontman Einar Solberg 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 records have been receiving regular rotation on our headphones, stereos and turntables:
Italy’s premier sludge metal band, Ufomammut, have been one of the most prolific artists in the genre ever since they first came onto the scene in 1999. It’s hard to imagine that the band is actually about to release their ninth full-length album, yet here we are already. Following up their ambitious 2012 double album, Oro: Opus Primum and Oro: Opus Alter, band members Urlo, Vita and Poia have returned with a modest six-song, 46 minute outing that pummels just as much as it soars through the cosmos. Ecate, a name possibly derived from the Greek goddess of the underworld and witchcraft Hecate, is just as much a psychedelic journey as it is an auditory beating.
First things first: we at the staff are prone to say that we have the best readership out there. This is ultimately proved by the sheer amount of great music that our readers recommend to us. From the multitude of advisers, a few names shine through. I’d like to take this intro as a chance to thank Justin Schulte, one of our most avid and astute readers. There’s rarely a recommendation of his that I don’t instantly love and IZAH are no exception.
Their debut album, Sistre, is nothing short of a landmark in the history of post metal and doom. It stands at a unique juncture between more dreamy scapes, echoing Rosetta, and heavier, ISIS influenced passages. It lastly throws in heavy riffs in the form of earlier The Ocean. But all these comparisons really don’t do this album enough justice. You need to hear it for yourself, all of its glorious textures. Please.
The most common feedback we get from our readers about this site and why they continue to follow us (aside from our dashing good looks, obviously) is that they come to us to find out about bands new and old they might have otherwise never been introduced to. We pride ourselves on being able to act as a human music recommendation service to all of you, which is why we already have features like our very popular Listen To This! series of columns. When thinking about ways we could take this further though, we came upon the idea for this column. For Fans Of is essentially a distillation of this in its purest form.
The concept is simple. We take one very well-known and popular band that our writers and readers are fans of, and then we write about a small group of lesser-known bands that do similar things and who we think you all might like as well and give a listen to. So, for example, in this case we’ve chosen ISIS (more on them in a second). We would not recommend a band like Pelican because the assumption is that almost any fan of ISIS is going to know Pelican well already (and if you don’t, what are you even doing reading this instead of listening to Pelican?). These are not meant to be exhaustive lists, and it’s quite possible many of you will be already familiar with at least a few of these bands. But we hope that this serves as an appropriate jumping-off point for many of you and that you can find at least one new band you were not already listening to.
Anytime Aaron Turner’s name is attached to a musical endeavor, underground metal fans pay attention. The founder and mastermind of the prolific post-metal band Isis is also the man behind one of metal’s most prolific record labels, Hydra Head Records, whose lineup was ripe with bands and artists who were at the cusp of creative brilliance, even being coined “thinking man’s metal” by Turner himself. However, all good things must come to an end, and as we all know, Isis announced their disbandment in 2010, and two short years later, Turner pulled the plug on Hydra Head Records and ceased putting out new releases.
The long overdue new record from post-metal act Minsk promises to be one of the more enchanting records of 2015, and our collective anticipation grows as news rolls in. The Crash & The Draw is being spun by label Relapse Records as…
[…a]n instant contender for one of the most forward-thinking metal records of the year, each cascading movement is a crucial sonic passage through dark and light. At once crushing, hallucinatory and at times, spiritually illuminating, tracks ebb and flow with a pastoral elegance and tangible urgency. Only furthering the record’s captivating allure, The Crash & The Draw is a thematic continuation of the group’s long-standing attraction to alchemical and esoteric ideologies, with marked nods toward the thought and writings of perennial inspiration, Kahlil Gibran, and the espoused words of Hermes Trismegistus, the fabled author of the Corpus Hermeticum and other sacred texts and serves as a fitting audio soundscapade for those souls devoted to the manifestations of Neurosis, Rwake, Yob, Isis and the like.
Of course, there’s the desire to take the label’s assessment with a grain of salt, but given that the album is produced by Sanford Parker (Wovenhand, Lord Mantis, Indian, etc), the quality of the Relapse ouvre, and some of the new music samples heard in the new album trailer (after the jump), I’m inclined to take it at face value.
And so we return, just shy of the prime meridian. It seems as though Australia has been one of the hotspots in terms of metal and alternative rock goes. We’ve had some really talented young acts come from there in recent years. However, a little further South and slightly East, we tend to forget about New Zealand. After all, they did give us the almighty Ulcerate, who is one of best death metal bands of our generation. Now, however, the band that we’re discussing is a fairly young one, called Spook The Horses. Combining some killer post-metal with tinges of sludge and doom, their new album Rainmaker is definitely a good start for the band.
After whetting our appetites with ‘Blight’s End Angel,’ we’ve been eagerly anticipating the debut album from Sumac, a sludge metal supergroup of sorts featuring Aaron Turner (ISIS, Old Man Gloom), Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) and Brian Cook (Russian Circles, Botch) in their ranks. Lucky for us, with less than a week until its release, Sumac are streaming The Deal in its entirety.
Clichés are important parts of language: they carry an inherent truth, something so right that it was repeated enough times to become commonplace. We should certainly take them with a grain of salt but we would also be mistaken to completely disregard them. So, readers, allow me a cliche: sometimes, less is more. This idiom becomes powerful when it allows us to understand something better. This is exactly the case with A Swarm of the Sun‘s latest release, The Rifts. Somber in disposition, modest in execution, terrifying in penetrating power, this album is the epitome of that turn of phrase: less is, sometimes, more.
And we’re back! It’s taken us time to get everything re-ignited after the New Year break, mainly because 2015 started off on such a high note. News was coming in left and right and we need to breathe a bit before jumping back in into all our regular columns. We’ll be slowly re-amping everything to pre-break levels, with Post Rock Post and Editorials making a comeback as well. But for now, we start off with our own favorite column, our Best Of lists!
This time, we chose a list tinged with nostalgia: we’ll be covering Final Albums, albums from band which broke up after they were recorded or released. It’s possible said bands split up long after the album was released but regardless, each piece here was the last LP recording from the band. Don’t go nitpicking on us; some of these bands released demos, EP’s or tracks after the ones listed here but we didn’t count those. These are the legacies, the last monuments of names who were once great and will forever hold a special place in our hearts.
So, read on. And remember, we always love feedback so tell us what you think! Any releases we missed? What should our next list be? Sound off in the comments below. As always, remember: it’s OK not to like thing.