A slow and low greetings to you all, Heaviest of Bloggers! Is everybody still doing alright? I know I usually start these columns off with whatever random thoughts I’m having, but a recent conversation with a good friend of mine reminded me that we really need to do a lot more checking in with everybody we care about. With everything going on in the world, we definitely need to be having some hard conversations with each other, but there’s also so much to process that I don’t believe any person should be dealing with the myriad issues going on by themselves. I certainly hope everybody is having those hard conversations as it’s the right thing to do right now (and boy have my wife and I been having a lot of those lately). But at the same time, I think everybody should be trying to inject some levity and nonsense into their lives. Personally, I’ve been ramming my way through the entire Assassin’s Creed series while also watching Vikings. I hope you all are doing something similar and taking care of each other and yourselves.
But with that, we should get to the tunes. First, we should do a little Pride Month celebration with some Vile Creature, take in some fucking sick ass covers from Thou, and some extra selections. With everything going on, you need that mix of the seriously heavy and some riffy levity. It’s only right to do both, but you gotta balance them out. I guess June’s Doomsday motto is “in all things, moderation.” TO THE R I F F S.
Thou – Blessings of the Highest Order
It doesn’t matter if it’s an album of Nirvana covers. Every Thou release is worth at least some discussion. Which can be pretty difficult sometimes with their prolific songwriting abilities combined with their tendency to drop surprise releases. Nevertheless, Blessings of the Highest Order is mandatory June listening.
I don’t know about y’all, but I will go out of my way to listen to Thou covering anybody. My personal favorite is Thou and the Body covering “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac, but it should give you hope for any cover the band produces. Thou can give anything that extra weight it needs to land, which makes Nirvana the perfect example of a band Thou can cover. While the songs are all very recognizable still, Thou is able to put their own spin on a series of Nirvana tracks. I truly appreciate the fact that the band avoided the most famous songs apart from “In Bloom” as that would probably hold the record back with comparisons to the originals.
Speaking of “In Bloom,” Thou isn’t the first band to cover it nor will they be the last. But they are able to make it seem far heavier than Nirvana ever could. It isn’t just because the band leans into that heavy-duty metallic fuzz and turning up the volume. It really is about how they deliver the track to your ears. It’s about those little extra flairs thou puts into their music that others just can’t. It feels rickety, like it could devolve into chaos at any moment but they’re holding it together. Honestly, Thou is the perfect band to cover Nirvana. Nobody else is allowed. Opinion over, this rules.
Atavist – III: Absolution
I hate to keep calling back to society right now, but does this not seem like a time we should be sitting in a little melancholy? I keep thinking that because it’s really the only good backdrop to have for the myriad difficult conversations we should all be having with everyone we know. For those tough talks this month, you could use Atavist’s latest, III: Absolution. I find there’s a strong sense of relief in funeral doom like this, but Atavist also infuses their version with some incredible death metal ideas to make their gloom very angry. It’s a hell of a combination.
Given the fact that the band is reuniting after a 12-year absence, their sound has changed quite a bit. What was once a very sludgy and dark sound has evolved into a melodic version of death-doom with prog metal production qualities. Everything sounds so crisp and real. You instantly feel exactly what the band is trying to explain to you. It’s so stark that it’s hard to ignore. Emotions will very naturally come out, and you should embrace those feelings to catharsis. That is exactly the reason this album was made.
While it is an incredibly moving record overall, III: Absolution also comes at a very apt time. As many of us see what’s happening in the news all over the world, it’s increasingly difficult to feel nothing but an overwhelming sadness for the current state of affairs. To me, it feels like we’re losing the battle for hope. In that way, III is a brilliant piece of art. It fully reflects that loss I feel inside and embraces mournful thoughts and feelings. I feel like the record kind of moved me through the entire grieving process and genuinely felt a little different on the other side of its near hour length. I think you all will, too.
Vile Creature – Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!
I’ve been waiting for this release for a bit. Ever since I first listened to their previous record, Cast of Static and Smoke, Vile Creature has been on my radar. Their take on blackened doom metal storytelling is a fascinating look at how metal music isn’t just heavy riffs for the sake of being heavy. Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm! is another incredible journey through this lens, allowing the anger to slowly boil over in just 44 minutes. Much like Atavist, if you’re not a different person by the end of a Vile Creature record (or song, for that matter), then you weren’t listening.
This record is brilliant for the simple fact that it is over-the-top heavy. The vocals are strained to the point of emulating pain. It’s that kind of styling that assaults your senses. It’s the angriest wake-up call anyone will ever receive. Those vocals pair well the fuzzed-out and down-tuned riffs. The fact that the band is a duo gives their music some space. That breathing room lets you consume the song as a whole instead of feeling like you have to focus on any one part. Which is a good thing because this kind of experiment with an often overlooked subgenre is a brilliant success.
With Glory, Glory!, Vile Creature proves that simplicity is often best. With how these songs are written structurally, you can see the image the music is making in full. It lets you understand so much more than you could in any other setting. That’s a great thing with this band as their version of blackened doom is wonderfully interesting to listen to. It’s a beautiful record we desperately need right now to help guide us through the storm of 2020. The band’s Bandcamp bio is “slow & heavy two piece with anti-oppressive and fantastical leanings.” That’s exactly what we all need right now. Glory, Glory! embodies that sentiment.