Tau Cross – Pillar of Fire

Tau Cross’ 2015 self-titled debut took many in the metal and punk communities by surprise. It shouldn’t have, given the legendary contributions of band leaders Rob “The Baron” Miller of Amebix and Michael “Away” Langevin of Voivod. That album melded thrash, crust, punk, and a little bit of old fashioned heavy metal into a storming amalgam of heaviness and speed that catapulted the band into the limelight and gave the album more than a few nods on best-of lists at the end of the year. Such an auspicious debut from wily metal veterans such as Miller and Langevin has led to immense excitement regarding the band’s next album and whether or not they could keep pace with their scorching debut. Thus Tau Cross find themselves in the midst of the eternal quandary of all bands who have released excellent debut records. So how do they fair with their new record Pillar of Fire? Not bad at all, to be honest.

Release Day Roundup – 7/14/17

Each month, we always seem to come to the same conclusion when it comes to our Editors’ Picks column: Friday release days open the floodgates and unleash a seemingly endless stream of quality new music. But while some of our Editors and Contributors sit down gleefully each week to dive into this newly stocked treasure trove, others find themselves drawing a blank at the end of the month due to the breakneck pace needed to keep up to date with what’s been released. Which brings us to this Heavy Blog PSA: a weekly roundup of new albums which pares down the the day’s releases to only our highest recommendations. Here you’ll find full album/single streams, pre-order links and, most importantly, a collection of albums that could very well earn a spot on your year end list. Enjoy!

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.

Hey! Listen To Mary Bell!

Mary Bell describe themselves as “Bikini Kill meets Dischord Records” as well as name checking Bratmobile and Sonic Youth. Though more obscure, the band could be best described as the Red Aunts plus 20 years. The big difference with Mary Bell is that while records from Bikini Kill and any number of Dischord acts practically ooze politics, Mary Bell dials up the attitude without being overtly feminist (or otherwise activist) in the way that Bikini Kill epitomized third wave feminism. There is an argument that the sheer act of being an all-female band is political unto itself, but over two decades removed from the riot grrrl movement, let’s hope the world is a better place and not do that anymore. Can we hope it no longer needs to be a “thing?” If you bring the rock, you bring the rock.

Swans & Michael Gira – The Great Annihilator/Drainland (Reissue)

Though Swans has had several sonic reincarnations, The Great Annihilator is one of the most important phoenixes in the flock. After five perverse, punishing records, Michael Gira and crew began to slowly drift up from the gutters into some puzzling territory. The band followed up Children of God (1987) with an unexpected absolution and released The Burning World (1989), a collection of gothic-tinged neofolk album which was easily the most pleasant offering they’d composed up until that point. Then came sister albums White Light From the Mouth of Infinity (1991) and Love of Life (1992), which strayed slightly from their predecessor but took the general framework along with them. Swaying between dismal post punk, morbid folk and unidentifiable bliss, these albums flirted with a sound that Gira and crew would perfect on The Great Annihilator (1995), one of the greatest achievements of Swans initial life as a band.

Hey! Listen to Dimmer!

Back when I first started my Penn State career I knew just about nobody (one whole semester ago). I felt kind of awkward at a lot of the DIY shows, was uncomfortable with the idea that nobody was really moshing, and just generally wasn't vibing with the overwhelming number of acoustic acts I was seeing. But still I kept going to all the shows, slowly meeting more people, but still failing to find that one local that really blew me away from a musical and performance perspective. That was, of course, until I saw Dimmer (that show actually helped me find my other favorite local, Palmlines, too, but that's gonna be it's own post) in a cramped ass living room. It was hot, uncomfortable, and I barely had room to stand. Ultimately I was extremely (again) uncomfortable and unhappy at that show, but Dimmer played with such an immense amount of energy that I pretty much forgot my underwear were riding up in an uncomfortable sweat wedgie.

Kvlt Kolvmn – January 2017

When I originally launched Kvlt Kolvmn back in 2015, my intention was to create an HLT-style outlet for all of the noteworthy releases I find while digging around for underground black metal. But as you can tell by the singular installment linked above...that didn't end up happening. I never stopped my constant conquest for new BM, though, and I figured a new year would be a great opportunity to compile all of my findings in one place and jot down why I think they're absolutely worth our readership's time and attention. So here we are with Kvlt Kolvmn, Take Two - a monthly round-up of my top 10 favorite BM releases from the past 30 days. There's a fair amount of variety here in terms of where these bands/one-man projects are from and the music they're churning out, and my hope is you'll find at least one of these albums worth your time (and, potentially, support). And while this might be self-explanatory, please comment with any releases I've missed out on but are definitely worth a spin.

Indie Rapidfire Roundup – La Sera, Nicolas Jaar & Preoccupations

With Heavy Blog having changed the kind of content we publish and how we publish it, we’ve decided to retire our recurring Unmetal Monday column in favor of more ongoing/mercurial coverage of unmetal genres like indie rock, alternative, EDM, and more. One of the side effects of this is that we no longer had a central place to write about new music and albums from these kinds of artists/bands in a more informal way - things we might want to talk about but not necessarily in long-form. In light of that and our tradition of combining certain metal releases into groups to form “Rapidfire Reviews,” we've established this semi-regular column to take three recent or upcoming releases from the world of “indie” in the pejorative sense and offer some quick takes on them. In our latest Indie Rapidfire Roundup, contributor Mike McMahan and editors Nick Cusworth and Scott Murphy offer their thoughts on three very different, yet all well-anticipated albums: La Sera's Queens, Nicolas Jaar's Sirens and Preoccupations self-titled debut.