Metal roundup: Cormorant, Candlelight reissues, Landmine Marathon

It’s been a busy week at the homefront this week. Lots of vegetation to cut back, helping a family member get some work in order. I’ve hardly been able to pay attention to what’s going on in the metal world this week (though I did get a chance to absorb new records from Whitehorse and Caina all the while, and we’ll get to those next week), so here are some interesting things that dropped this week that might excite you as well.

Also, make sure you come back Monday for a look at some new efforts from Parasitic Records, a label that certainly deserves to get added attention because their stuff is more than stellar and the two records I’ll discuss have been in heavy rotation in my home. So be sure to stop back.

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Cormorant

Cormorant are an interesting band, and their style is kind of hard to explain. There is some black metal, some doom, some progressive dashes, and even some power. Their 2009 record “Metazoa” is one that flew under a lot of radars but was one I always really enjoyed and went back to from time to time since it was released. Something about them also felt a bit Medieval to me, like you could imagine the music playing over swords clashing, chainmail being struck, and blood surging from open chest wounds. The music could be both savage and soaring, and maybe my castle dreams are stupid and unfounded, but whatever. That’s what I always think about when hearing “Metazoa.”

Now the band is back with their new effort “Dwellings,” which is scheduled for a fall release, and from just an initial listen, it’s a little thornier and heavier, and it should make for fine listening once it gets a little bit colder outside. The band self-financed the album and recorded straight to analog with producer Justin Weiss, who worked with notable bands such as Agalloch, Hammers of Misfortune, the recently disbanded Ludicra, and plenty of others. It’s going to be one you’ll certainly want to get your hands on if you like things organic and true, and anyone who was into “Metazoa” should be intrigued to hear what these guys bring to the table when they go darker. We’ll have more on this album in the future for sure.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.myspace.com/cormorantmusic

To grab some of their music, go here: http://cormorant.bandcamp.com/

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Discharge

Candlelight Records has had a good year with new records from Sourvein, Anaal Nathrakh, and Cruachan, as well as upcoming releases from Falloch and Absu, but they also have a few new things in store for you that will take you back to grind, punk, extreme metal and hardcore’s roots when they reissue some classics. If you’re trying to polish up on your history, this will do the trick, or if you have ragged old copies of these albums, you now can get fresh, new versions. I’ll turn it over to the Candlelight press release, because it gives you plenty of details. This certainly is an exciting venture, one that will give you stunning exposure to the roots.

Candlelight Records will continue its previously launched classics series confirming releases from DischargeExtreme Noise Terror, and The Varukers. New to the series, the label will release “Disensitise” and “War Is Hell” from Discharge on Aug. 23, followed by “Holocaust In My Head” by Extreme Noise Terror on Sept. 27 and the 2CD “The Damnation Of Our Species” by The Varukers.

England’s Discharge are considered one of the first hardcore punk bands that significantly merged metal with their punk stylings. Characterized by a heavy, distorted, grinding guitar sound, the band’s raw, shouted vocals and insightful lyrics made them a favorite on “anarcho” lists from the start. Formed in 1977, the band enjoyed a number of charting albums in the UK in the early ‘80s.Reunited in 2000, the band currently features founder Anthony “Rat” Martin, Tony “Bones” Roberts, Roy “Rainy” Wainright, and Dave “Proper” Caution. “Disensitise” and “War Is Hell” feature all new packaging and include previously unavailable songs.

Extreme Noise Terror’s trademark noise has done very well for the UK bevy over their fifteen-plus year career. The band’s abrasive, dual-voiced, grinding brutality maims, pulverizes, and simply destroys all in earshot. Formed in 1985, grindcore’s founding unit fiercely rallied an international fanbase with sharp lyrics and a piercing sound. Regular guests on John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 Program, the band has featured vocalist Mark “Barney” Greenway (Napalm Death), guitarist Gian Pyres (Cradle of Filth), and drummer Mick Harris (Napalm Death/Scorn) among their various line-ups throughout the years. Original vocalist Phil Vane passed away in his sleep earlier this year due to a cerebrovascular accident. He was 46 years old. “Holocaust In My Head” compiles 21 tracks of government overthrowing crust/punk all served up in pummeling doses.

Dating to 1979, The Varukers are considered part of the “UK82” or second wave of English hardcore punk. Alongside their peers (Amebix, Chaos UK, GBH), the band’s sound was heavily fueled by the energies and ideologies of 1977-era punk. The band would tour heavily before splintering for several years. Reformed since 1991, the five-piece have continued to impress and keep a loyal and passionate fanbase. “The Damnation Of Our Species” features 44 songs on a special 2cd set, including selections from their “One Struggle One Fight,” “Murder,” “How Do You Sleep” and “Killing Myself To Live” albums.

For more on the label, go here: http://candlelightrecordsusa.com/site/

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Landmine Marathon

Landmine Marathon have their second album for Prosthetic Records, and their fourth effort overall, coming at you Sept. 27, and just from the initial sounds of it, this thing will be a ripper. The record is called “Gallows,” and the artwork is done by Rob Middleton, who’s responsible for classic album covers from Extreme Noise Terror, Napalm Death and his own band Deviated Instinct. You can see that cover below, and you can preorder the thing already (with a T-shirt, too, if you’d like). The band also is on tour, and the band’s live performances are a sight to behold. Also, singer Grace Perry WILL kick you if you get too close to her comfort zone, but it’s all a part of the fun.

Here’s the track list for “Gallows”

1. Three Snake Leaves
2. Cutting Flesh and Bone
3. Knife From My Sleeve
4. Liver and Lungs
5. Dead Horses
6. Cloaked in Red
7. Beaten and Left Blind
8. Morbidity

To catch the band live, here are their summer dates:

LANDMINE MARATHON – Summer US Tour:
July 29 – Canoga Park, CA – The Cobalt Café
July 30 – San Diego, CA – The Shakedown
July 31 – Ventura, CA – Zoey’s Café
Aug. 2 – Fresno, CA – The Ranch
Aug. 3 – Reno, NV – Jub Jub’s Parlor
Aug. 4 – Sacramento, CA – The Fire Escape
Aug. 5 – Oakland, CA – Sub/Mission
Aug. 6 – Arcata, CA – The Alibi
Aug. 7 – Medford, OR – Musichead
Aug. 8 – Portland, OR – East End
Aug. 9 – Seattle, WA – El Corazon Lounge
Aug. 10 – Boise, ID – The Shredder
Aug. 11 – Salt Lake City, UT – Salt Lake Recording Services
Aug. 12 – Denver, CO – The Rockaway
Aug. 13 – Santa Fe, NM – The Underground

AMERICA TORN ASUNDER – Warbringer, Lazarus A.D., Landmine Marathon, Diamond Plate:
Oct. 3 – W. Hollywood, CA – Key Club
Oct. 4 – Anaheim, CA – Chain Reaction
Oct. 5 – Las Vegas, NV – Cheyenne Saloon
Oct. 6 – Tempe, AZ – Clubhouse
Oct. 7 – Gallup, NM – Juggernaut
Oct. 8 – Oklahoma City, OK – Pour House
Oct. 9 – Austin, TX – Emo’s Alternative Lounge
Oct. 10 – New Orleans, LA – The Hangar
Oct. 11 – Tampa, FL – Brass Mug
Oct. 12 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade
Oct. 13 – Charlotte, NC – The Casbah
Oct. 14 – Baltimore, MD – Sonar
Oct. 15 – Frederick, MD – Krug’s Place
Oct. 16 – Kingston, NY – The Basement
Oct. 17 – Trenton, NJ – Championship Bar
Oct. 18 – New York, NY – The Gramercy Theatre
Oct. 19 – Albany, NY – Bogie’s
Oct. 20 – Hartford, CT – Webster Underground
Oct. 21 – Rochester, NY – Montage Music Hall
Oct. 22 – Buffalo, NY – Broadway Joe’s
Oct. 23 – Toronto, ON – Wreck Room
Oct. 24 – Cleveland, OH – Peabody’s
Oct. 25 – Des Moines, IA – Vaudeville Mews
Oct. 26 – St. Paul, MN – Station 4
Oct. 27 – Chicago, IL – Reggie’s Rock Club
Oct. 28 – Detroit, MI – Blondie’s
Oct. 29 – St. Louis, MO – The Firebird
Oct. 31 – Denver, CO – Marquis Theatre
Nov. 1 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex
Nov. 2 – Reno, NV – The Alley
Nov. 4 – Vancouver, BC – Funky Winker Bean’s
Nov. 5 – Seattle, WA – El Corazon
Nov. 6 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre
Nov. 7 – San Francisco, CA – Thee Parkside

For more on the band, go here: http://landminemarathon.blogspot.com/

To buy “Gallows” or any of their other releases, go here: http://prostheticrecords.com/?p=2934

Or here: http://prostheticrecords.bigcartel.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://prostheticrecords.com/

Get Deafheaven for free

If you haven’t taken time to check out Deafheaven as of yet, here’s your chance. Their excellent debut album “Roads to Judah” was released earlier this year, and if you scroll down a bit, you’ll be able to find our review of that album. It is highly recommended (the record, that is …).

Now comes a freebie from the band and their label, as they offer up “Live at the Blacktop,” the latest in a download series, that are offered up for free, from Deathwish-related artists. So yeah, you have no excuse now because you don’t have to part with your hard-earned cash in order to hear these guys. Their atmospheric, melodic, scream-heavy black metal is a mighty force, and if you like what you hear on this live album, do check out the rest of their stuff. I’ll add links, as usual, below in order for you to check out the band or buy their stuff.

Above is the album cover of the EP, recorded at a dock-turned-venue site called the Blacktop in Bell Gardens, Calif.,along with Low Places, Joyce Manor and labelmates Touche Amore. They plays songs from both their eye-opening demo as well as their “Judah” debut, so you get a good sampling of everything the band does. OK, I’ll shut up. Go download this. They actually want you to do that. Nice folks, those Deathwish people.

To download “Live at the Blacktop, go here: http://www.deathwishinc.com/news/628/

For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/deafheaven

To buy “Roads to Judah” and other Deafheaven-related stuff, go here: http://deathwishinc.com/estore/category/DEAFHEAVEN.html

The more things change, the more In Flames don’t

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that In Flames were one of the most important bands in metal. How times have changes. And In Flames have not.

The band just put out its 10th record “Sounds of a Playground Fading,” their first for Century Media and the follow-up to 2008’s very blah “A Sense of Purpose.” There was a time that I was really excited about In Flames, but that was more than half a decade ago, and since that time, they’ve put out mundane album after mundane album, and my tastes have completely changed. They have sounded uninspired and just kind of there, like they’re putting out albums for an excuse to tour, not because they have anything special or new to say. I keep reading about the new Opeth and how it’s a huge departure from their normal sound because they just didn’t feel the spark in going back and doing the same thing. I wonder if In Flames have that switch.

Anyhow, “Sounds of a Playground Fading” is more of the same, but one positive is the band sounds inspired. The music at least has a spark to it, and it’s probably the best thing they’ve put out since 2002’s “Reroute to Remain,” an album that was maligned by some, but I always liked it. It’s up to you to decide if that means this record is worth your time and money. Below, find my review that went live at Lambgoat.com today. And make sure you leave a snide remark below the review. Haha.

To review the review of “Sounds of a Playground Fading,” go here: http://www.lambgoat.com/albums/view.aspx?id=2936&band=In%20Flames&review=Sounds%20of%20a%20Playground%20Fading

For more on the band, go here: http://www.inflames.com/

To buy “Sounds of a Playground Fading,” go here: http://www.cmdistro.com/Search/in_flames

For more on the label, go here: http://www.centurymedia.com/

Earache lives with Woods of Ypres, SSS, The Soulless

A few weeks ago, I got a gigantic package from Earache Records. I had typically been in regular contact with the legendary metal label for the past decade or so, but this year, things broke off and I was left wondering what happened.

Well, it was simple. The person I used to deal with at Earache wasn’t with the company anymore, my e-mail address changed (not by choice), and their promo delivery switched in the meantime.  So there’s the paper trail. But with a ton of help from their new U.S. press contact (as well as their U.K. publicist), I ended up not only back in the loop but with the big package of material to sift through. This is one of the reasons I enjoy dealing with metal labels a million times more than any others. They go out of their way to make sure you’re connected.

I’m sure I don’t need to rehash Earache’s entire history, and I won’t. But quickly, the label was started by Digby Pearson in 1985 in Nottingham, England, and Earache has been incredibly influential and helped give a name to bands such as Napalm Death, Carcass (Jeff Walker designed the original logo), Bolt Thrower, At the Gates, Morbid Angel, Sleep, Cathedral, Godflesh, Hate Eternal, and more recently, Municipal Waste, Bonded By Blood and Evile (new album out in September, by the way). While the label has kind of taken a back seat in the U.S. the last few years while others flourished, they’ve recently struck back with some quality new signings such as Singapore grinders Wormrot, throwback doom warriors Hour of 13, and modern thrashers Diamond Plate, whose “Generation Why?” drops Aug. 9.

Another of Earache’s stronger signings of late is Canadian doom/black metal mopers Woods of Ypres, who had their most recent album reissued, with a new record “Woods 5: You Were the Light” tentatively expected to drop this year or next. If you can imagine the cascading black metal power of Agalloch mixed with the bloody, wounded hearts of Type O Negative or Katatonia, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this band. It’s dark, depressive and dingy, though at times, they absolutely soar. Each of their records have come out on fairly small independent labels, with their first three out on Krankenhaus Records, and the one we’ll discuss now unleashed by Practical Art.

“Woods 4: The GREEN Album” gets off to a pretty weird, initially off-putting start with “Shards of Love,” a post-relationship, what-happened piece that lyrically is so raw that it sometimes feels undercooked. But the more you listen, the more it sounds like two people having a true-to-life conversation about a love that is dead with no chance of resuscitation. And it’s all downhill from there. Emotionally, that is. The music is riveting, often gothically morose, other times atmospherically savage. It sometimes sounds like two completely different bands adding their own pieces to the same document and everything somehow working out. Frontman/guitarist David Gold can toggle his vocal approaches seamlessly, and the rest of his mates – guitarist Bryan Belleau (he’s since been replaced by Joel Violette), bassist Shane Madden, drummer Evan Madden – setting the perfect tone. There are some crushing moments on here, such as letter-from-the-grave “By the Time You Read This (I Will Already Be Dead”; swollen-in-death “I Was Buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery”; and awesome existence-is-shit anthem “Wet Leather,” where Gold states, “Life is just pain and piss, and everything is a scam.” It’s not a wrist-slasher of an album, but one that’ll help you relate and perhaps feel a little stronger in its wake. Tremendous signing.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.myspace.com/woodsofypres

To buy “Woods 4”or any Woods merch, go here: http://earache.com/uswebstore/index.php/cPath/667_674_745

The Earache band that best represents the label’s earlier days is SSS, which stands for Short Sharp Shock. The band is a thrash crossover quartet from Liverpool that sounds shockingly like early Slayer without Kerry King’s and Jeff Hanneman’s guitar histrionics but with all of their attitude. You also can hear some Suicidal Tendencies, Agnostic Front and, naturally, Napalm Death (their frontman Barney Greenway guests on their new record “Problems to the Answer”) in their snotty, attitude-laden power.

“Problems” is the band’s third full-length record, and they whip together 25 songs that last just 41 minutes combined, which is a similar template the early grindcore and punk bands followed. Naturally, it’s tough to keep up with the track count at times, as cuts such as “Birdshit,” “Laughing Leads to Crying,” “Roar” and “What Would Cards Do?” blast by in a minute or less. There even are songs you won’t realize exist if you’re not paying close mind, such as six-second “Direct Action” and 26-second “Quick Fix,” but it’s all a part of the fun. Where the band really shines is when they stretch things out a bit, such as on awesome opening track “The Kill Floor,” where frontman Foxy sounds almost exactly like a young Tom Araya; “White Bread,” which is fast as hell as has hardcore genes; “Sick Pleasures,” a fun, splattering song that’s full of venom; punk-powered instrumental “Future Primitive,” a song that’s four times as long as most of what’s on here but manages to stay interesting; and curveball closer “Strange Notes,” another instrumental that sounds more like them screwing around rather than making some hifalutin artistic statement. It’s a fun blast of an album that you should take to your next keg party.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.earache.com/bands/sss/sss.html

To buy “Problems to the Answer” and other stuff, go here: http://earache.com/uswebstore/index.php/cPath/667_673_97

The band The Soulless might sound like a new one, but they really aren’t. You might know them better as Ignominious Incarceration, the name the group used before they selected their new moniker. Granted, their old name was a mouthful and didn’t really have much of a ring to it, but it was better than the generic new thing they came up with. Then again, they also changed their sound to something, well, pretty run of the mill, so perhaps The Soulless actually suits them better now.

Instead of sticking to melodic death metal they served up on 2009’s “Of Winter Born,” they decided to take things back half a decade on “Isolated” and trudge the well-worn, overly beaten metalcore path. If Ozzfest was still a thing, these guys would be ideal for that 10 a.m. timeslot, where most of the fans are just filing in and people haven’t had their energy drinks yet. Not to be totally insulting to this band, because they actually play the metalcore thing just fine, it’s just a tired sound that’s been stale for so long that I really don’t see the point at all. They do OK on songs such as “New Perspective,” despite unearthing the cliché of clichés with the “what doesn’t kill us …” thing, and they prove pretty explosive on “Revelation” and “Unite Us,” where some of their past shines through. But they do themselves no favors elsewhere, especially on “Clones,” where frontman Andy Wardle proclaims, “No one wants to be a clone.” Oops. It’s not too late to turn back, guys. It might be a wise choice.

For more on the band, go here: http://thesoullessband.com/

To buy “Isolated” and other stuff, go here: http://earache.com/uswebstore/index.php/cPath/667_673_743

For more on the label, go here: http://earache.com/

We’ll certainly have more from Earache moving forward, and I’m excited to add this label back into my coverage. Expect reviews of Diamond Plate and Evile in the near future.

Mop-up Monday: 40 Watt Sun, Flourishing, Brainoil

The metal, oh how it’s building up in the corner of my room. This is one of those times of year when getting a handle on everything new that’s either in stores or on its way is growing burdensome. I am losing track. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, really, because it keeps me busy and it puts fresh music in my ears. So off we go with a quick look at a few new records that explore different subgenres in the ever-growing metallic universe.

40 Watt Sun

“Inside Room” is the debut from British doom band 40 Watt Sun, an effort spearheaded by former Warning leader Patrick Walker, who did some great things with his former band, not the least of which is 2006’s amazing “Watching From a Distance,” the last full album of their lifespan. Like Warning, this music is dark and somber, but a little less aggressive, and Walker’s emotional outpouring is what makes this excellent record shine.

Now, unlike most doom bands these days (and I’m certainly not complaining about this) whose vocals tend to be uglier and deathier than what the roots groups employed, Walker instead emotes cleanly, clearly and succinctly. 40 Watt Sun are more in the vein of other British doom bands such as Anathema, My Dying Bride, Candlemass and Katatonia, and they’d be an excellent opening act on the upcoming Opeth/Katatonia jaunt in the United States. That audience would eat this up. The five songs on “The Inside Room” are earnest and direct, and it sounds as if heartbreak, relationship struggles and misunderstandings fueled a lot of what inspired Walker and the rest of the band – drummer Christian Leitch (also ex-Warning, The River) and bassist William Spong – to create these epics. The music is doom-encrusted for sure, and the pace is mostly mid-tempo and downtrodden, but Walker’s voice just soars as if his heart is trying to disengage from his chest to tell his story to the rest of the world.

“Between Times” is the track mentioned as the focus cut in the bio information supplied by Metal Blade (who are releasing this in America … what a year for Metal Blade, by the way), and it’s a great song, but I get so lost in the two opening tracks “Restless” and “Open My Eyes” that everything that follows seems to pale in comparison. And those other songs are really damn good. This will make great listening for damp fall weekends when soaked leaves blanket the ground. I know it’ll still be in my rotation when those days arrive.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.40wattsun.com/

To buy “The Inside Room,” go here: http://www.indiemerchstore.com/b/40-watt-sun/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.metalblade.com/english/content.php

Flourishing (photo by Vanessa America)

The debut EP from Flourishing “A Momentary Sense of the Immediate World” was one of those last year that ripped my eyelids open and forced me to take notice. It was a great mini-effort and an explosive first volley into the metal world from a band that seemed to be interested in doing things a little differently and with a more volatile attitude. That made the wait for their first full-length an anxious one, but now that platter has landed by way of “The Sum of All Fossils” (released by A Path Less Traveled). It seemed almost impossible, but they managed to come up with something more earthquakingly heavy and experimentally challenging, and chances are you won’t hear anything quite like it the rest of 2011.

Flourishing’s ranks are made up of vocalist/guitarist Garrett Bussanick, who is one of the guitarists for Wetnurse, a band you should go out of your way to hear now if you’re not familiar with them, bassist Erik Rizk, and drummer Brian Corcoran. When you tackle “Fossils” and are baffled that only three guys can make this much noise, chances are you’re not alone. There’s an industrial suffocation to what these guys do, and by that I don’t mean, like, Ministry or something. Their music sounds like it was constructed by cranes, heavy-load dump trucks, steaming cement trucks and crews of folks putting in hard labor underneath an unforgiving sun. It’s steel bridge heavy. You’ll need a hard hat and a tool belt. Of course, there’s also an off-kilter weirdness to what they do, and a lazy person (that’s me!) might chalk it up as math metal, but it’s really more than that. “A Thimble’s Worth” has a hardcore flare to it, and its tempo is dizzying; “The Prospects of Rejection” has a thick bassline and spiraling guitars that leave you reaching for a steady wall; “In Vivid Monochrome” is all smashing chaos and doom-and-zoom guitars; and “As If Bathed in Excellence” caps the record on a stunning, baffling note, almost warning you that if you’re reeling from what you heard here, you have no idea what’s coming next.

It may take some listens to fully absorb and digest “The Sum of All Fossils,” because there’s a lot to chew here. But each trip back is rewarding, painful in a good way, and enveloping in a manner so many metal records these fail to achieve. Great first full-length.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/flourishingnyc

To buy “The Sum of All Fossils,” go here: http://tpltr.bigcartel.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.thepathlesstraveledrecords.com/

Brainoil

We haven’t heard from Oakland, Calif., sludge maulers Brainoil since their 2003 self-titled debut (released by Life Is Abuse), but eight years later, here they come blazing back again with “Death of This Dry Season,” released by the always reliable 20 Buck Spin. Since then, its members haven’t exactly been dormant, as they played with other notables bands such as Laudanum, Scarecrow, Watch Them Die, Dead Language, and that’s just some of them. But over the past few years, Brainoil’s members got back together, started playing music again, and that path is what led us to this seven-track, 25-minute effort that their longtime fans probably wondered if they’d ever see or hear.

The trio that is Brainoil – guitarist/vocalist Nathan Smith, bassist/vocalist Greg Wilkinson, drummer Ira Harris—still pay homage to Eyehategod, Buzzov*en,  and Corrosion of Conformity with their muddy, sometimes groove-laden thrashing that is easy to get into and has enough groove to keep your fist pounding on the table. These guys waste no time getting started, as they hammer through the opening title cut and “Gravity Is a Relic,” with its steamrolling pace and throaty screaming. “Feet Cling to the Rotting Soil” is a faster cut and has a punk spinal column; “To Bury the Pages of Existence” also hits like lightning but also has a bluesy base; and “Crimson Shadows” is relentless and vicious, showing their willingness to draw blood. One drawback is some of the riffing, especially the opening parts of these songs, has a bit of samey-ness, which is probably more noticeable because the record is so short. Then again, that seems to be the punk rock spirit coming out of them, and it’s not tiring and distracting or anything. It’s just noticeable. Nonetheless, it’s a rousing, bruising comeback album, and it’s great to have this band back in the conversation, especially since the sludge subgenre has grown so steadily the last half-decade.

For more on Brainoil, go here: http://www.brainoil.com/

To buy “Death of This Dry Season,” go here: http://www.20buckspin.com/site/releases/spin041-brainoil-death-of-this-dry-season-lp/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.20buckspin.com/site/

To Norway

Before we begin this week, I want to extend my sincerest condolences and good thoughts toward the people of Norway after the horrific terror attacks of last Friday. It was an unspeakable, horrible tragedy sparked by what it seems is a very troubled, very hate-filled individual, and I hope all the readers here at Meat Mead Metal send thoughts, prayers, good feelings, or whatever to the Nordic people. We sure enjoy enough of their contributions to the metal world, and we hope everyone there, especially those directly impacted, can find healing and peace.

Be back shortly with a neat, tidy album review capsule edition of MMM.

Gilead Media unleashes black metal crushers FALSE, Barghest

This week I’ve been highlighting some of my favorite labels and their recent submissions to the metal world, and we wrap that with the one piece I’ve been itching to write for some time now and finally can bring it to you.

Gilead Media doesn’t put out a ton of records each year. They’re about as DIY as it gets, and like a Profound Lore or a Flenser Recordings, you know you’re getting something that label head Adam Bartlett truly believes in and doesn’t just see as a cash grab. He puts what he makes back into running Gilead Media, and their products always look fantastic, sound even better and usually are packaged with extra goodies such as pins, patches, etc. That’s another major reason I never think twice when buying from the label because I know I’m getting my money’s worth. I also basically trust what they put out, and from a mere description of the band on Gilead’s site, I’ll purchase something I think will be up my alley. I actually did that with one of the albums we’ll discuss today. Gilead Media also is who introduced me to Thou, one of my absolute favorite bands whose frontman Bryan Funck also has a hand in the two bands you’ll read about below (they are joint releases with his Howling Mine label).

I’m going to start with FALSE, a black metal band from Minneapolis that was discovered when opening a show for Thou, whose members were utterly blown away by what they heard. When I first read that statement, I knew I had to hear this band immediately, and I was instantly aggravated when I couldn’t find a thing about them online. Nothing at all. It was by design, it turns out, and there was an effort to build an aura of mystery behind this amazing new find that is about to rip the lid off black metal and extreme music in general. I know this will sound hyperbolic, but whatever: FALSE is the most exciting new band I’ve heard this year, and perhaps the most riveting I’ve heard in a few years. In fact, Thou is the last band by which I remember feeling this utterly blown away, and immediately upon hearing their untitled debut, they spread through me like a fever.

I still know very little about FALSE other than what I detailed above, as well as that they’re a female-fronted band, and that they’re utterly, violently relentless. For anyone out there who thinks black metal’s gotten too safe, too sanitized, you’ll find that FALSE agree with you and are doing something drastic about it. This two-track album, that runs about 25 minutes, is the freshest, most exciting explosion of chaos you’re bound to hear in 2011. The band, from the moment first track “The Key of Passive Suffering” starts, goes right for your throat, with claws and teeth exposed for the kill. Their singer warns of an era of “brother against brother, sister against sister” in the first section of this song, before moving on to a mesmerizing passage that sounds inspired by Iron Maiden’s “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” era, especially with the thick fog of synth. The cut explodes again minutes later with an accusation of, “hell is what you reap, hell is what you sow,” and eventually rumbles to its cataclysmic conclusion. “Sleepmaker” is built on the same philosophy and ideas, rich with ripping riffs, rich keys, and even some piano trinkling later that teases a sense of calm amid a suffocating cloud of smoke.

I cannot say enough good things about this band. It would be impossible to highly recommend this record and band any more than I have right here, and if you have the money and want to hear something that may alter your life, by all means buy this thing. This band revives my hope in the future of black metal, and I cannot wait to hear what FALSE come up with next. This is the future, and those coming years will be awash in Armageddon and total, unstoppable chaos.

We move now to Barghest, a four-piece black metal band from Louisiana, who might remind you of the glory days of Darkthrone, Burzum and Mayhem. I mentioned earlier about a band whose record I bought before hearing even a note of music, and this would be that band. I got a download from Gilead Media not long afterward, and after hearing the music, I didn’t regret my purchase in the slightest. Now that I have the vinyl in my possession and have had time to spin it many times, I get more and more intoxicated by this thing with each listen. It should be noted, if you have the cassette version of this album, the songs have since been re-mastered and do have a bit of a different sound.

The record tears open with “Mourning” and its raw, primitive riffing, a death bell, and an eruption of beastly black metal that sounds lo-fi and grimy as hell, and that leads the way for “The Rite of Isolation,” a song that rides on tidal waves of melodic runs by guitarists Matthew Thudium and Jason Thorning, as drummer Terry Gulino keeps a frantic pace and frontman Dallas Smith howls away like he’ll have no future use for his voice beyond this recording. “Pain of Days” is both surging and vicious, with Smith’s vocals taking on more of a guttural death growl instead of a banshee-like shriek; “A Gray Vision” has a bit of an old-school punk feel to it, as some thrash also is thrown into the mix; while closer “Reduced to Ashes” is machine gun-like in its delivery, eventually paving the way for a section where the guitar work becomes almost hypnotic in its assault.

Certainly fans of the second wave of Nordic black metal could find themselves moved by Barghest, but even those who were into then tired of the current black metal crop could find salvation here like they will with FALSE. The band is unrepentant and devastating, sometimes blindingly fast, but always honest and passionate. This is a bad ass album, one that sounds way better on vinyl, and one that might make you consider that corpse paint all over again, if only for the spiritual connection.

Gilead Media has plenty of other bands worth your while, from more metallic entries such as Northless, Krallice, and Fell Voices,  to groups that lean more toward punk and hardcore such as Arms Aloft, Get Rad and mewithoutyou. Check the Gilead label link below to find out more, and go spend some damn money.

For more on FALSE,  well, you’re kind of screwed. But you can see them live. Those dates will appear at the end.

For more on Barghest, go here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Barghest/114603505268187?sk=info

For more on the label, go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/

To buy the new records from Barghest or FALSE, go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/store/

To read an interview with Adam Bartlett, go here: http://www.cvltnation.com/a-conversation-with-gilead-media/

For more on Howling Mine, go here: http://noladiy.org/howlingmine.html

FALSE on tour:

8/1 – IOWA CITY, IA – APHQ
8/2 – ST. LOUIS, MO – THE HEAVY ANCHOR
8/3 – COLUMBIA, MO – HAIRHOLE COLLECTIVE
8/4 – DALLAS, TX – THE PHOENIX PROJECT
8/5 – SAN ANTONIO – THE A&A DRIVE-INN
8/6 – HOUSTON, TX – THE DEATHSTAR
8/7 – BATON ROUGE, LA – PERKINS PARLOUR W/ THOU
8/8 – NEW ORLEANS, LA – NOWE MIASTO W/ THOU
8/9 – BIRMINGHAM, AL – THE FIREHOUSE
8/10 – NASHVILLE, TN – THE LITTLE HAMILTON
8/11 – LOUISVILLE, KY – THE 3RD STREET DIVE
8/12 – BLOOMINGTON, IN – RUSSIAN RECORDING STUDIO
8/13 – CHICAGO, IL – THE VOID
8/14 – MILWAUKEE, WI – THE IRISH KNOT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bindrune’s Falls of Rauros, Obsequiae bring fury from the forests

When I get a record from Bindrune Recordings, almost without fail my first reaction is, “I wish I was listening to this in the woods.” Of course, their web site is emblazoned with the motto “Woodland Denizens … Unite,” so that feeling I get inside of me certainly is by design.

Over the past few years, the Michigan-based label has come at us with some incredibly interesting and equally dark bands such as Blood of the Black Owl, Nechochwen, Wodensthrone, Celestiial, and Forest of the Soul, and it probably takes some split appreciation of savage, primitive metal and some forest folk rock in order to embrace this brand of music. Or if you’re into the nature worshippers such as Darkthrone, very early Immortal, and sadly defunct Swedish act Bathory, or the North American bands that pay homage to the elements such as Wolves in the Throne Room and Agalloch, you might want to find out more about this label if you haven’t already.

Two new records are fresh in stores for you, and while they hold the Bindrune philosophy intact, each take things in a different direction and explore entirely separate terrains. Both are exciting albums and provide something of a change-up for metal audiences, and it’s nice that this style and attitude hasn’t become something that a hundred millions bands have jumped on and beaten into the ground. At least not yet.

Maine’s Falls of Rauros obviously latch onto Tolkien for their moniker, and they’re on their third full-length effort with “The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood,” the follow-up to 2008’s “Hail Wind and Hewn Hawk.” Listening to this record, it’s easy to envision being around a crackling fire in the middle of the woods, with owls calling behind you, and even though it would take a good bit of cords draped through the trees to accomplish this, the band’s colorful, melodic black metal being dropped over you like a drape. It would be the ideal setting.

The six cuts on this new album are rustic and folk-friendly, but they also have a majesty and power to them to please even the most finicky of black metal fans. The quartet, who take on simple first names and no surnames, are a bit of a mystery, as they’re not Internet darlings and they don’t have their photos all over every metal web site going, but that only lends credence to their desire to blend into nature. Their music is labeled “North Appalachian Heathen Black Metal,” and that’s a pretty excellent way to describe what you’ll hear on songs such as “Banished,” which is atmospheric and airy, though smeared with fury when need it needs to be; “Awaiting the Fire or Flood That Awakes It,” which has acoustic strumming behind the prevailing thunderstorm; and “Silence,” a song that is anything but that after its misleadingly quiet guitar and piano intro, and is an excellent example of emotionally charged, wholly human black metal. It’s a fantastic album for a summer walk, a quiet boat ride, or a date with your backyard fire pit, and while it may not fill you with rage, it will help you get in touch with your animalistic spirit in other ways.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.fallsofrauros.blogspot.com/

To buy “The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood,” go here: http://bindrunerecordings.com/distro/newarrivals.html

Obsequiae may seem like a new band to most since their album “Suspended in the Brume of Eos” is their first official full-length, but this group is anything but a couple of rookies. The band actually has been around since 1998, when they were called Autumnal Winds, and they released a handful of demos and a compilation before they went on hiatus from 2005 to 2007. Now under their new moniker, guitarist/vocalist Blondel de Nesel and drummer/bassist/guitarist Neidhart von Reuental unleash their dark, Medieval-flavored castle metal with hands clearly grabbing pieces from late ’70s/early 80s’ power metal. It’s a pretty cool combination that I’ve found a nice setting for tackling the “Game of Thrones” books that I’m a decade and a half late in reading.

“Suspended,” which follows their well-received 2009 demo, sounds like what it might if early Iron Maiden and Emperor (minus the orchestral stuff) were sucked into some sort of wormhole and found themselves mashed together in the studio. Much of the guitar work is glorious and riveting, making it easy to envision a horse-back adventure toward the nearest tournament, and the vocals are savage and screeching, keeping the black metal aesthetic very much in the picture. One slight drawback to me is there are a few too many acoustic interludes in the 12-track count, and they sometimes feel like they’re there to bloat the running time. But really, that’s a minor quibble for me, because when they’re letting the axes fly, it’s pretty damn exciting. Opener “Altars of Moss” has solid lead lines and intricate melodies that sound like they were born for air guitar; the title track had a mid-section that just crushes you with manic thrashing and could be the one moment in a live setting where you might get your knee ligaments torn shredded; “Arrows” blows right up from the start, and it’s the most aggressive thing on this whole collection, leading headlong into “The Starlit Shore.” It’s a kick-ass record that’s more up-tempo and in your face than most Bindrune albums, but it’s nice to have them on the roster. I think you need that screaming hellion that interrupts your mental tranquility so you don’t get too soft. Obsequiae provide that like a spiked metal ball to your exposed rib cage.

For more on the band, go here: http://bindrunerecordings.com/pages/obsequiae_body.html

To buy “Suspended in the Brume of Eos,” go here: http://bindrunerecordings.com/distro/newarrivals.html

For more on the label, go here: http://bindrunerecordings.com/

Kind of dorky? Yes. Utterly, savagely awesome? That, too.

Go watch this video, which is the lead cut “The Violation” from the upcoming Fleshgod Apocalypse album “Agony.” These guys do brutal, techy death metal that’s jackhammering, and they have a symphonic touch to boot. Yes, the video is a little wacky, admittedly, but the song rips. Very much looking forward to hearing this album (their first for Nuclear Blast), as I am a fan of their debut “Oracles” and EP “Mafua” (both out on Willowtip).

We’ll be back Tuesday from our mini-holiday with more fun shit.

To buy “Mafia” or “Oracle,” go here: http://www.willowtip.com/store/categories/cds/default.aspx

To pre-order “Agony,” go here: http://store.nuclearblastusa.com/Search/flesh_god_apocalypse

Local color: Slices, Killer of Sheep, Brown Angel

I’ve been meaning to say more about my hometown for a while, and today feels like a good day for that, especially since I have some new material to discuss.

Now, Pittsburgh probably isn’t thought of as a hotbed of music to people around the world, and that assertion would mostly be correct. We did give everyone Girl Talk and Wiz Khalifa, and soon you’ll know more about Mac Miller, so, there’s that. Also, people probably know Donnie Iris. Trust me, you can barely take a step in this town without someone name-dropping him. If you live here and rely solely on the local papers to educate you about music, here is what you would think: The Clarks (who are so painfully mediocre, I refuse to type their name in bold) modernized downhome bar rock, Bruce Springsteen is a shameless copy of Joe Grushecky, and not vice versa, and heavy metal died and only lives again with each Black Sabbath reunion. It’s amazing. Also, you’d be under the impression Elvis Costello died on the cross, rose three days later, and brought salvation to all mankind.

Metal barely gets a mention. A couple years ago, now-defunct Demise of Eros put out a nationally released record, and no one save for The Daily News (where I write) did anything about it. Zao gets talked about now and again, after they toiled for years and years. You’d have to scour heavily to find anything on modern acts Hero Destroyed and Complete Failure, who both have releases out on Relapse, and Circle of Dead Children (Willowtip). Sometimes they’ll mention Zombi to maintain their indie cred, whatever that is. So when I started this site, I decided along with what I write about every day, I was going to make sure the Pittsburgh contingent of metal and hardcore bands got representation, because the “music writers” here sure haven’t helped cultivate the scene. So let’s go, because we got some shit to get into.

Slices

First up are hardcore heroes Slices, who if you ever scoured the upcoming events sections and concert listings in this town, you’d see their name everywhere. It seemed each time I went to see what Mr. Roboto Project (recently revived!) had coming up at their DIY space, Slices were on the bill. They were everywhere, leveling audiences with their brand of furious noise and, later, grown-up hardcore. By that I mean they weren’t trying to reach out to the Hot Topic-pants wearing kids who have been raised on a very antiseptic, safe version of the genre, but rather grasped the working class, those who went to a job every day and needed a place to go let out the steam. They didn’t focus on that aspect of life, of course, but they were there if you wanted to forget about that aspect of your day and didn’t want to be insulted by undercooked rock. If you’re in that grouping, Slices probably are your band. That’s not to suggest the guys don’t have fun, because they do, but they never sound juvenile. They always sound like they mean it, even when their tongues are in their cheeks.

The band just put out a new 7-inch with Kemado Records (The Sword, True Widow, Saviours), a buffer piece between their first album “Cruising” and still-to-come sophomore effort “Still Cruising,” and the results are pretty damn satisfying. If you can imagine a mix of Fucked Up, Black Flag, a little noise rock and some downright classic rock n roll riffage, then you’ll know what you’re getting on these two cuts. The band, made up of members of other local acts such as Warzone Womyn and Brain Handle, set things ablaze on “Modern Bride” with a wail of feedback before catching onto a riff that’s bruising and punk-flavored. The vocals are mean, the song rages, and it feels like what matinee shows were made to showcase. Flip side “Chump Change” is a punchy affair, with a chorus featuring Greg Mantooth howling, “You will, and I won’t, you say, I don’t,” that’s spat so convincingly, most would decline an argument over the matter. The two-track effort probably gives a good idea of where they’re going on album two and it’s a far cry from their noise past. It’s an excellent piece of Steel City tonnage that will make you cry from the bruising.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.kemado.com/?tag=slices

To buy the 7-inch, go here: http://www.kemado.com/shop/slices-modern-bride-bw-chump-change/

For updates on “Still Cruising,” go here: http://lifeironlungdeath.blogspot.com/

Killer of Sheep

Killer of Sheep is a new band on the scene, but its ranks are made up of grizzled scene veterans. Oyo Ellis and Greg Mairs originally played together in Battered Citizen in the 1980s, and now that they’re older and wiser, they have channeled their energy a bit more but have not lost even an ounce of their intensity. Their music sounds like classic hardcore, both violent and super-speedy, and they’re one of those bands that easily could be at home on a hardcore or metal bill somewhere in town. The fellows have been pretty active the past year, playing Helter Shelter and the Smiling Moose, among other venues, and they’re a band to keep an eye on going forward since their story really has just begun. They pressed 500 copies of a debut 7-inch called “Out of Time,” but I’ll be damned if I can find a link online where you can buy it. Guess you’ll have to hit Eide’s or Paul’s locally.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Killer-of-Sheep/100408743380584

To check out some cuts from Killer of Sheep, go here: http://www.reverbnation.com/KILLEROFSHEEP

Brown Angel

One of the weirder, tougher-to-digest bands raising a raucous lately is Brown Angel, who put out their long-awaited self-titled debut full-length last year on Thunderhaus Ltd. They just opened a show here for Zao, and I remember when seeing that lineup that they might be a little out of place. Brown Angel’s music is more abrasive, challenging, noise-encrusted, and potentially off-putting if you don’t have an open mind. Their self-titled album is way more streamlined than their super-out-there earlier recordings, but it still isn’t an easy listen to untrained ears. The songs are fully damaged examples of noise metal with barked and spat vocals that sound more like accusations and warnings than a spun yarn. I’m not even sure how on the dot this comparison will be, but if you happen to count Sunn 0))), Khanate, Swans, Jesus Lizard and any numbers of Crucial Blast bands as your favorites, you need to check these guys out right away. If you develop tinnitus when it’s all over, that’s a common side effect. You need not worry. Prepare for a bizarre, destructive journey.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/Br0wnAngel?sk=info

To buy their self-titled debut, go here: http://www.crucialblastshop.net/search.php?page=0&numOfResults=0

To check out their bandcamp, go here: http://brownangel.bandcamp.com/

To check out clips of their more recent material, go here: http://soundcloud.com/brown-angel

These are just a few of the local bands that have been rolling around my head lately. I’ll be sure to bring you more soon so that the rest of the world can understand Pittsburgh isn’t just the home of shitty bar rock and local legends who have long since passed their expiration date.