Merkabah – Million Miles

The saxophone has become an increasingly en vogue addition to the extreme music formula. Ever since John Zorn bleated and honked over grindcore and avant-garde metal with Naked City and Painkiller, a growing crop of younger bands have demonstrated how to masterfully incorporate a jazz staple into heavier compositions. The sparsity of such bands should come…

Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun

There’s an undeniable joy in watching something that has been preparing to pounce for so long finally take the leap. Where there was once stillness in the air, there is now a sense of urgency and the feeling of excitement. We as listeners should be thankful that we are not the ones on the receiving end of this violent lunge. The hunter in this case is singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe, while the prey is the art she presents to the world. With her newest work, Hiss Spun, we not only see Chelsea in the moment of her victorious pounce, but we also have the great fortune of consuming her kill.

Tera Melos – Trash Generator

It is a well-documented phenomenon that most bands become more accessible and streamlined the longer their careers go on: focus on melody and rewarding song structures overwrite the desire for off-the-wall ridiculousness, and bands become more “mature,” a word we use in a tongue-in-cheek manner here at Heavy Blog to…

Hey! Listen to Part Chimp!

Comeback albums are in vogue this year, especially for rock music and its offshoots. At the Drive-In, Gorillaz and nearly every major shoegaze pioneer (The Jesus and Mary Chain, Ride, Slowdive, etc.) have all resurfaced for returns-to-form or late-career flops, depending on whom you ask. The fact many of these bands had been laid to rest for decades certainly contributed to disappointment among some fans, as did the heightened expectations created by their pre-breakup classics. Part Chimp bucks the drawbacks of all these metrics with their hiatus-smashing record Iv, which provides and incredible delivery of the band’s signature blend of sludge-ridden noise rock and stoner metal. The band’s comfortable position in the underground and relatively short hiatus—they disbanded in 2011 and reunited last year—has allowed Iv to feel less like a comeback album and more like a reunion with a beloved friend, where good memories come flooding back and it feels as though everything is still in its right place.

Couch Slut – Contempt

Brooklyn’s Couch Slut is a band who is very deliberate when it comes to word choice. How else would you end up with that band name? It certainly doesn’t make finding them on Facebook easy. There’s never an autocomplete suggestion given for their name, even as you get to the second “U”. Zuckerberg & Co. would rather assume we’re trying to get to the personal page of Couch Slug (a seemingly inactive account) instead of insinuating that it’s users would actually seek out something with the word slut in it. It’s not rocket science. It’s an off-putting word. It’s an unsavory word. It makes people uncomfortable. I admittedly had a brief pause about liking their page because I’d imagined how this would come across my family’s newsfeed (sorry for any confusion, Aunt Mel!). So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Couch Slut create hideous music. They cover topics like substance abuse, sexual assault, and a shitshow of the other headfucking kinds of disrespect that humans endure from one another with the instrumentation to back it up.

’68 – Two Parts Viper

With time, Josh Scogin will be able to release music without it immediately being compared to his work in The Chariot. That time isn’t upon us yet, as fans of the Georgia legends still hanker for them, tearfully screaming “long live” at anyone and everyone within earshot. The second release from Scogin’s stripped down ’68 project should help these lost souls in finding new comforts, away from the mayhem and maelstrom that The Chariot offered. Two Parts Viper is one part Southern Americana, one part ex-The Chariot Josh Scogin and one part wonderfully over the top rock and roll. But 2014’s Humor And Sadness was made up of much and such the same measurements. Has the sound evolved enough for ’68 to finally become a stand alone entity?

Journey to the NOLA Swamps – The Birth of Sludge Metal

We’ve covered a fair bit of ground with our Starter Kit series, where we select a handful of key records that highlight a niche musical style or penetrate the prolific status of a staple genre. Unfortunately, this format doesn’t lend itself to covering proto-genres—microcosms of musical history comprised of a specific set of albums released in a fixed period of time. But these movements are crucial to the evolution of our favorite genres, particularly when it comes to the trajectory of sludge metal. What’s become a multifaceted and often refined style was once a disparate lineage of bands from different genres who all applied the “sludge factor” in different measures. While you won’t find a dedicated section for proto-sludge at your preferred music store, the following albums an artists laid the framework for the modern sludge landscape. So whether your sludge purveyors of choice come from the atmospheric, blackened or progressive sects of he genre, they’re all indebted to the groundbreaking statements these albums made.

Soundtracks For The Blind: Burning Ghosts // Reclamation

At the beginning of this year I covered a band called Burning Ghosts, a sort of free jazz/rock hybrid who expressed their want for change in an instrumental fashion. Their debut was chaotic and noisy but at the same time a harbinger of hope, with trumpeter Daniel Rosenboom’s piercing tone breaking through guitarist Jake Vossler’s most riotous noise-making techniques. I noted in that article that “if I had known about this band earlier, I can almost guarantee that this would be on my top ten of 2016,” and I still stand by that. Musically, Burning Ghosts was a much-needed voice to the experimental music scene—their loudness was matched by the delicate control and virtuosity they put towards their music, and the addition of trumpet to the lineup offered slightly different sonic variations to enjoy. And, to my surprise/luck/excitement, Burning Ghosts is releasing their sophomore album Reclamation this month on John Zorn’s Tzadik label.

White Suns – Psychic Drift

Over the past several releases, New York-based White Suns have crafted an abrasive and esoteric noise rock formula. Rather than operating in the genre’s standard fare of “noisy rock,” the trio of Kevin Barry (vocals, guitar), Rick Visser (guitar, electronics) and Dana Matthiesen (drums, electronics) have opted instead for a seamless marriage of noise and experimental rock, with an elevated mood of unease conjured by Barry’s cryptic lyricism and spoken word delivery. It’s a peculiar formula which unfolded spectacularly across nine disorienting tracks on the band’s previous effort, Totem (2014). The album presented an abundance of these unhinged noise rock bastardizations accented by extended passages of dark ambiance and industrial noise that created a painful degree of suspenseful dread before the band finally released the listener back into its chaos-ridden assault. It’s the styling of these moments that composes the bulk of Psychic Drift, a four-track bludgeoning anchored by a nightmarish lyrical* journey as disturbing as the music that engulfs Barry’s narration.