Úlfur – Arborescence

No genre has experienced a more distinct shift in its cultural purpose than classical music. What was once the sole form of musical expression in Western culture has been largely relegated to specific roles in society. Modern classical certainly hasn’t lost any of its esteem, but in terms of popular…

Hey! Listen to Område!

“Avant-garde” is arguably the most misused genre descriptor in modern metal. Whether in blog posts or comment sections, there’s always someone that’s heard a slightly off-kilter metal album and immediately slapped on the old “A-G” tag. That said, I’m not going to use Område as an example to parse out the differences between avant-garde, experimental and progressive metal (an article worth writing by someone who actually wants that to be their hill to die on). I’m actually here because of the French duo’s invigorating take on avant-garde metal—an approach that captures the essence of the genre in gorgeous, meticulous detail. Whereas bands like maudlin of the Well and Pan.Thy.Monium found success by thrusting death metal into avant-garde territory, Område excel by nailing down the core of avant-garde metal and renovating it’s structure with intricate furnishings and vibrant coats of paint. There may be no shortage of high-quality albums to recommend to metal fans flirting withe the avant-garde, but there are a sparse few that rival Nåde’s marriage of accessibility and bold artistry.

Wreche – Wreche

Black metal has arguably the most eclectic genre palette in the metal pantheon. Though simple at its core, the genre’s aesthetics have been applied to countless concepts and shaped to include a multitude of other genres and accompanying instrumentation. Yet, the guitar still remains the one constant element in nearly all iterations of the genre, whether as a lo-fi wall of distortion or thundering gallop over equally blistering blast beats. It’s a rare occurrence when a band decides to forgo this six string staple; the only example this reviewer is aware of is Botanist, who instead opt for hammered dulcimers and harmonium. But when a guitar-less black metal album does surface, fans of the genre typically take notice to see if the experiment pays off. As such, the union of piano and drums in unholy matrimony on Wreche’s self-titled debut makes for an intriguing experience that’s deserving of at least an exploratory listen.

If Austrian Trees Could Talk – Bartholomäus Traubeck’s Years

If you’re like me, you probably forgot Arbor Day existed until just now (or, in my case, while staring blankly at your work calendar during a slow afternoon). It’s a shame Nebraska is the only state that’s dubbed international-plant-a-tree-day a civic holiday, especially when you compare trees’ importance to our general disinterest in their conservation. Not to mention they helped name one of our favorite post-rock bands. Besides inspiring this eco-warrior rant, my mid-afternoon attempts to avoid working also led to an unexpected epiphany—I’ve yet to write a proper post about Bartholomäus Traubeck’s exceptional album Years, a piece of art that takes more influence from trees than any other album in existence. Nature is a central influence for some of my favorite artists, especially black metal projects like Botanist and Grima. But Traubeck takes this a step further by literally making trees part of the lineup.

Wrekmeister Harmonies – Light Falls

A collective in both genres amassed and sheer body count, Wrekmeister Harmonies has made good on its multifarious ethos. Founder and principal member JR Robinson has enlisted a slew of metal and experimental musicians over his past three records, including Jef Whitehead of Leviathan; Lee Buford and Chip King of The Body; members of Indian, Corrections House and Twilight; and Marissa Nadler, among several others. Robinson’s fourth album under the Wrek-Harm name – Light Falls – arguably contains his most high-profile ensemble yet, as he’s joined by three members from seminal post-rock pioneers Godspeed You! Black Emperor (Thierry Amar on bass and contrabass; Sophie Trudeau on piano, violin and vocals; and Timothy Herzog on drums). Yet, despite the notability of this trio’s inclusion, it’s not the most striking feature of Light Falls, an album which changes a crucial aspect of Wrek-Harm’s compositional approach up until this point.

Unmetal Monday – 3/7/16

Like the grand majority of modern metal fans, our tastes here at Heavy Blog are incredibly vast, with our 3X3s in each Playlist Update typically covering numerous genres and sometimes a different style in each square. While we have occasionally covered non-metal topics in past blog posts, we decided that…