Sumac inject their aggression, energy into tackling anxiety’s source on ‘What One Becomes’

SUMACThere are many great pioneers of the metal sound, from Sabbath to Priest to Maiden to Metallica to Emperor. I’m leaving out a lot of names because I don’t want the opening graph to be 1,000 words long. The point is, the progenitors of extreme music make up a long list, and many of those artists are ones who have been doing their thing longer than some of its audience has been alive.

I’m sure I’ll get no argument if I add Aaron Turner to that roll call of people who have helped develop metal and its many sounds into what it is today. From his tenure in the dissolved ISIS, who along with Neurosis helped pave the oft-traveled past of atmospheric doom and post-metal, and the gnarly Old Man Gloom, Turner has had a major hand in inspiring legions of bands and artists to follow their bleeding hearts and make music that can be catharsis for both them and their audience. And just last year, Turner returned with another super heavy project Sumac that harkened back to his grittier, more metallic roots, making for one of 2015’s most explosive debuts with “The Deal.” Now, a little more than a year later, he and his mates have returned with the molten “What One Becomes,” a mammoth of a record, and their first entry for Thrill Jockey.

Sumac coverBy the way, all the gushing over Turner’s myriad accomplishments aside, the rest of the band is rounded out by a more-than-capable bunch in their own right. Bassist Brian Cook (Wikipedia totally needs to change his profile link because … it goes to the wrong Brian Cook) made his way in notable bands such as the crushing and just-as-influential Botch and Russian Circles, and drummer Nick Yacyshyn, who makes severe noise with Baptists. This record is a rumbling affair that sounds like, at times, the dudes just went off, improvised their fury, and let it flow until they bled it dry. On top of all that, anxiety is at the heart of the record, a subject matter that jabs right at my heart, and they spend the bulk of these massive five tracks confronting it, identifying its source, and putting a battle plan into action. As someone who lives that very thing, this record provides a well-needed dose of extra therapy.

The record rips open with “Image of Control,” as hazy doom rains down, guitars scrape, and Turner’s animalistic howls blast out of the gates. While much of this song is designed to overwhelm and destroy, it has its sections of calm and even some jerky prog creations that make your face spin. The last few minutes of the song add a million jackhammers to the mix, as the band bludgeons you before slowly dragging you out through the thorns. “Rigid Man” punches and boils, with the guys drubbing amid deep, lurching growls. Again, the band delves into proggy waters, bringing some weirdness to the mix, and then the guitar work gets really tricky. Things shoot into the cosmos, with smearing soloing settling in, eventually burning out for a sense of calm to trickle on. Noise spreads over a great distance, making you think it will go until the end, but then a powerful, swaggering assault arrives, leaving everything in the dust. “Clutch of Oblivion” has a slower start, with organs rising, and the song meandering along. The track then hulks up, getting heavier as it goes along, with crazed howls injected into an oncoming dizziness. Again, though, you’re lulled into serenity before the hammers drop all over you.

“Blackout” is the longest cut at 17:26, and it’s the one that seems to develop on the fly the most. Noise scratches, with drums joining the fray, and forceful shouts barrel their way in as the guitars arrive muddy and dripping. The doomy beast eases later, with a glaze of psychedelics arriving, and out of that comes breath-taking thrashing that slams you over and over again. The attack is repetitive, which is by design, almost as if anxious nerves are gnawing on you, increasing your breathing and your heart rate. Fight or flight struggles are ramped up to an uncomfortable level, as the band plays on, searching each corner of their minds, seeking answers, and reaching for a sense of relief. The pace starts to chug, with the piece getting heavier and nastier, only to disappear into a long, reflective pool that washes over. The band goes into an extended melodic stretch of playing, with some Southern-style influences being felt, and the track trudges out, leaving you to figure out how you survived. But you did. “Will to Reach” concludes the album, charging right out of the gates and smashing barriers. Off-kilter melodies spiral, snaking through the tumult, and a calm sequence arrives, with you already having learned this is only for a breath. And sure enough, the explosion strikes, the band heads into a speedy eruption, and the crushing hell that surrounds you slips away, leaving you a heaping mess, but for the better.

Sumac is a ferocious beast of a band, and their work on “What One Becomes” is a rush both from a musical standpoint and a vessel to tackling personal struggles. These three guys have honed their craft as a band and crafted an album that delivers every time. All hail these three great creators, who just might be motivating even more would-be artists to try their hands pouring out their hearts and souls.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/SUMACBAND

To buy the album, go here: http://www.thrilljockey.com/

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Cough’s nasty doom spreads hopelessness and despair on ugly ‘Still They Pray’

CoughHey, who’s ready to party? It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the States, so the shitty beer will flow like, eh, water, and people will do dumb things in honor of America. On top of that, we have a joke candidate clinching a party’s official nomination, which has to mean the Masonic-envisioned Armageddon may really be upon us, and another probable candidate who may have done some criminal shit. So let’s unleash the doom.

There may not be a more fitting time for Virginia doom horde Cough to return to us, six years after their last full-length record “Ritual Abuse” scorched the Earth. Now they drop into our laps the vicious, gnarly “Still They Pray,” a 67-minute face burner that has the band seriously stepping up their game (not that they needed to do that in the first place) and firing a blinding warning shot that they’re here to dominate the genre. The record is produced by Electric Wizard’s Jus Osborn, and let’s get this out of the way, yes, it does have a serious EW vibe (especially vocally) that bashes you in the face right away, mere minutes into the fray. But the sound suits them, and they’ve actually been travelling this road for quite some time, so if anything, they sound in place.

12 Jacket (Gatefold - Two Pocket) [GD30OB2-N]Cough have been doing their thing for a little over a decade now, but they haven’t really flooded the market with music. Less is more, right? Other than aforementioned “Ritual Abuse,” they also have their 2006 EP “The Kingdom,” their 2008 debut full-length “Sigillum Luciferi,” as well as splits with Windhand and The Wounded Kings to their name. “Still They Pray” arguably is their strongest effort yet, and the band—bassist/vocalist Parker Chandler (also of Windhand), guitarist/vocalist Dave Cisco, guitaristr Brandon Marcey, and drummer Joey Arcaro—sound on fire and determined to spread their dark arts to any willing or unwilling participants who stands in their way.

“Haunter of the Dark” rips open the record with stinging feedback and burly doom riffs, with Cisco’s psyche-washed singing hanging over top like a fog. The track keeps mauling and tricking your brain, with some harsh screams entering the mix at times, and monstrous punishment flattening your chest. The track ends amid sonic torment and dark, smudgy playing. “Possession” runs 10:25 with the bass slinking in, and then the storm unloading. Harsh screams ramble along with the deliberate tempo, as the track sits in a steaming simmer. The guitars later bubble and blaze, stomp and swagger with energy, as the whole thing heads into the void. “Dead Among the Roses” is a 10:47 bruiser, with the singing more menacing, guitars spitting static, and a mucky sentiment. The track keeps sprawling, with strong soloing breaking out and unleashing molten power, and the pace suffocating. The band pours every ounce of vitriol over the finish, as the song disappears into corrosion. “Master of Torture” keeps the slow pain rolling, with a smoky pace and gurgling growls adding to the bloodshed. In fact, the track sits in the mud for a long stretch until things suddenly kick into higher gear, and the assault is on. “Live to hate, hate to live,” Chandler wails, as soloing melts over top and burns out everything.

“Let It Bleed” is the most surprising thing on this or any other Cough record. It’s a sun-scorched ballad filled with torment and confusion, something that reminds me of something Black Sabbath would have turned out in their glory years. By the way, don’t let the word “ballad” fool you. This still is hellish and rife with torment, with Cisco wailing, “Life and death, all the same,” amid passionate guitar playing and imagery of everything you know burning down. It picks up even more intensity toward the end, ending the track on a fiery note. Great song. “Shadow of the Torturer” is a disorienting instrumental, with a long jam section built into the first stretch of the song before really going off and letting the chaos fly. This feels like an emotional bloodletting, one that sets the path for the rest of the record. “The Wounding Hours” has haunting organs pouring in, gut-wrenching growls, and awesome soloing that could blind you. As the track reaches its finish, it finds a way to get even nastier, ending its run with a bristling onslaught. That all bleeds into the closing title song, another disarming one that travels a rustic folk road, one that leads to horrific discoveries. Acoustic guitars ring out, while Cisco’s raw singing pushing the pace, painting an unsettling, almost hopeless picture. That darkness crawls along right up to the final moments, where solemnity disappears into a cavern of noise that gets sucked back into space the moment it appears.

Cough’s name deserves to be mentioned among modern doom’s finest acts, and “Still They Pray” might be their act to violently take that distinction for themselves. This is a sludgy, evil-sounding, crushing nightmare of a record, and it should terrify the uninhibited. There’s no turning back now, the world is burning, and Cough is just the right band to add the fuel to the flames.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/cough666

To buy the album, go here: https://store.relapse.com/

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

The Vision Bleak discover new horrors within themselves on darkened opus ‘The Unknown’

The Vision BleakMetal long has been tied to horrors and great beasts, fantastical terrors that, while they look intimidating on an album cover or in one’s imagination, they’re not authentic in any way. But, in the words of the intro to the great podcast Sword & Scale, the worst monsters are real. Those include the ones living inside of you, the demons that torment and stretch you to your very worst.

For the longest time, German duo The Vision Bleak leaned on those old-style horror elements more than anything when constructing their songs. From inspirations including Poe, Lovecraft, and Carpenter, these guys constructed a world that was bloody and spooky, which suited their brand of dark atmospheric metal very nicely. The fact that they always had many dramatic flourishes worked into their songs helped as well, which gave a sense of theatricality to their music. But on their latest opus “The Unknown,” the band turns their respective guts inside out and instead examine personal horrors and darkness. That makes this the most personal record the band’s ever created, and one that does prove that what lurks inside of you indeed if more terrifying than any macabre tale.

The Vision Bleak coverThe Vision Bleak have been staring into the eyes of terror for the past 16 years, having formed in 2000. The core members Ulf Theodor Schwadorf and Allen B. Konstanz (they obviously roll out a much larger cast live) dropped their first record “The Deathship Has a New Captain” in 2004, and after that they released four more studio albums, the most recent before “The Unknown” being 2013’s “Witching Hour.” The band’s new lyrical twist on this record might throw some for a loop at first, but honestly, it’s the same sound you’ve come to expect from The Vision Bleak. Every ounce of power and presence bursts from this thing, and it’s a damn fun listen.

“Spirits of the Dead” is a quick intro piece built with mallet-tapped drums, acoustic guitars, and folk-style vocals, and that leads into “From Wolf to Peacock” that greets you with glorious riffs. Huge vocals bellow, later crumbling into fierce growls, and as the track goes on, it gets more aggressive and penetrating. Proggy thrash meets black metal strains on the back end of the song, and a dramatic burst brings it to an end. “The Kindred of the Sunset” also has great riffs, with deep, gothy singing providing darkness, with shrieks mixed in later. The song goes cold, with whispers poking, and there are some great hooks, with Konstanz wailing, “We are the children of the sunset.” “Into the Unknown” has guitars buzzing, unfurling into steady thrashing and dramatic singing. Some reflective notes arrive before the band starts trudging, with howls of, “I will never be the same again,” adding a sense of uncertainty into what’s a really strong song. “Ancient Heart” has a calculated start, with chant-like vocals spreading before the pace kicks into high gear. The tempo kicks up and starts clobbering, with strong melodies mixed in, keys quivering, and a smashing finish.

“The Whine of the Cemetery Hound” sounds from its title like a track from their horror tale past, but it’s not. Drums strike hard as bells chime, and the chugging pace does serious damage. The singing is dark and moody, while the song halts for a stretch of solemnity and comes out of the other side with heaviness and vicious growls. “How Deep Lies Tartaros?” is punishing and fast, as if it’s trying to drive you through the center of the Earth to answer the song’s question. Harsh vocals are mixed in with clean, with the song having moments where it’s purely guttural. Spoken lines punch into cloudy synth, and the song turns again, coming to a furious end. “Who May Oppose Me?” is a surprising one, and it’s less defiant than its title indicates. The song has murky synth, strings, and acoustics, setting the stage for gigantic closer “The Fragrancy of Soil Unearthed.” The track in menacing from the start, though the riffs are catchy and the clean singing pushes the mission. The song bursts open later, with the singing coming into full life, and the dramatic piece comes to an end amid fairytale strings and mystical power.

The Vision Bleak’s world may have changed a bit, but musically, they’re right where you’d expect them on “The Unknown.” Perhaps turning inward for this record injected them with even more inspiration and vitriol, and it’s too soon to know if this is a one-off curveball or if this is the path they’ll take into the future. Regardless, they’re sure to find enough morbid twists and turns in their own psyches if they’ve already wrung their old texts dry.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/thevisionbleak.official/

To buy the album (USA), go here: http://www.theconnextion.com/prophecy/prophecy_index.cfm?

Or here: http://www.theconnextion.com/prophecy/prophecy_index.cfm?

For more on the label, go here: http://www.prophecy.de/

Return of the kings: Diamond Head, Candlemass extend their rich legacies with new records

Candlemass

Candlemass

Metal and its legion of followers have a very healthy respect for the genre’s roots, as well as each varying sound’s pioneers. This is a kingdom built on the back of legends, and as the ones that continue to actively tour and record these days become a smaller number, we try to keep bearing the torch for these artists, hellbent to show them every bit of our respect.

As we’ve lost heroes such as Lemmy and Ronnie James Dio, other have marched on with astonishing strength and power including Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and two band we are discussing today: doom legends Candlemass, and NWOBHM icons Diamond Head. Both bands have carried on through the decades, shedding members here and there, but always finding their way to the studio and the stage. The fact that both keep putting out strong, relevant material is glorious indeed, and both have new collections headed our way that are definitely worth your time and attention.

Candlemass coverWe’ll kick off with Candlemass, a band that seemed to be winding down but instead are forging toward their 30th anniversary with excellent new EP “Death Thy Lover.” This band has created 11 full-length record over their time together and some, including debut “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus” as well as “Nightfall” and “Tales of Creation,” are considered classics. They are right up there with the mighty Black Sabbath as one of doom’s greatest pioneers, and the amount of followers they have amassed is innumerable. The band originally announced their last album, 2012’s “Psalms for the Dead,” would be their final one, but now with new vocalist Mats Leven (he also did a turn in 2006) joining the classic lineup of guitarists Lars Johansson and Mats Bjorkman, bassist Leif Edling, and drummer Jan Lindh, the guys sound rejuvenated and full of life.

The title track kicks things off, with the guitars blending in out of the darkness, and the song hitting a furious gallop. Leven’s singing is both raspy and powerful, with his pipes really hammering home the chorus and lines including, “He’s your only friend, he’s watching over you.” Don’t get all fuzzy. He’s singing about death. The track has a huge 1980s feel, like it could have been an easy hit on Headbangers Ball. “Sleeping Giant” is a cool storyteller, a tale of a long-lost god slumbering under the earth after past defeat. Ominous riffs lay the foundation, while Leven relays, “Once you were the king,” only to later proclaim, “One day you will return.” The guitar work is fiery, the vocals are powerful, and they even get a little muddy before the whole thing is over. “Sinister N Sweet” is sludgy as hell at first, going cold for a while, but as the menacing tale is told, the evil sentiment get thicker and nastier. The chorus is infectious and mean, something that should go over quite well live. Closer “The Goose” is an instrumental that begins by chugging and smothering before the lead guitars go off and unleash electricity. The track has its plot points down, with the melodies cutting, Edling’s bass chewing flesh later on, and the whole thing coming to a blinding, burly finish. This is a pretty nice morsel from a band that hopefully still has future records in them.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.candlemass.se/

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.napalmrecords.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/napalmrecords

Diamond Head

Diamond Head

Diamond Head most people know from Metallica lauding their work and covering a shitload of their songs, but let’s not make a mistake about how vital they are to metal. The group’s work is awash in killer riffs and dangerous grooves, and while they may not have reached the heights they deserved over the years, the fact they’re still moving and creating really fun stuff, including their new self-titled full-length album (out June 24 in the States), is a huge credit to them. The one constant in the band has been lead guitarist Brian Tatler, and he’s currently armed with a damn stellar cast of players including brand new vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen (he would have been an AOR dream in the ’70s, and I mean that as a high compliment), guitarist Andy Abberley, bassist Eddie Moohan, and drummer Karl Wilcox.

Diamond Head coverThe record moves more toward hard rock than metal, at least as we know it now, and the tracks are really gigantic and really melodic. Opener “Bones” is a damn fine song, a really fitting introduction to this new era of Diamond Head. Andersen’s vocals really boost a lot of life into these songs, and the band sounds on fire during every one of these 11 cuts. “Set My Soul on Fire” should sound pretty dynamic live, with the riffs coming on ominously and the simple chorus packing a wallop. “All the Reasons You Live” has a fantasy element to it, with a lot of it driving slowly through dramatic synth and into fiery soloing from Tatler. “Blood on My Hands” has sweltering guitars, striking melodies, and strong singing, while closer “Silence” starts with strange throat singing, only to develop into a Zeppelin-style drama that’s brainy and impressive. There are some down moments, such as “Wizard Sleeve” that sounds a little cock rock-ish, as well as “Speed” that falls into that same rut. But those really are minor complaints. For the most part, this is a strong release from a band that has been blazing the path for four decades now and obviously have fuel left in the tank.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.diamond-head.net/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.plastichead.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.dissonanceproductions.co.uk/

Metal’s landscape might not look anything like it does today were it not for Candlemass and Diamond Head. These are two legendary bands still in our midst, creating music that remains top notch and vital to everyone’s understanding of where the heaviness came from in the first place. Both of these collections are worth your while, so don’t go sleeping on these two pioneering bands while they’re still out and whipping people’s asses into shape.

Sol Sistere dump boatload of riffs, dangerous melodies into ‘Unfading Incorporeal Vacuum’

Sol SistereI’ve been on this tangent before, but it’s tough as a music writer to sift through all the promos that weigh down my inbox, listen to as much as I can, and pick the ones I want to feature. That also answers the question that’s been posed to me many times as to why this site doesn’t feature negative reviews. The idea is to cull all of the bands and records I think warrant attention and boil each week’s offerings down into four or five features. I could do an entire site based on bad shit in my inbox. Trust me.

Anyway, from time to time albums elude me, likely because I’m not on a publicist’s or label’s mailing list, and I end up doing some discoveries on my own, which is actually a lot of fun. I had that happen again with “Unfading Incorporeal Vacuum,” the debut record from Chilean black metal band Sol Sistere, out on Hammerheart Records. I do see promos from them from time to time, but this one didn’t make it my way. But I went to the label’s Bandcamp with other intentions, sampled this album, and was blown the eff away. This is one exciting record from start to finish from a band that deserves to get a ton of attention, especially from those who like their black metal melodic, atmospheric, and packed with enough riffs to defeat the zombie Mountain.

Sol Sistere coverSol Sistere only got their start as a band three years ago, releasing an EP “I” in 2014, and now coming in with their first full-length effort. The band—guitarist/vocalist C (formerly of Animus Mortis), guitarist Ricardo Araya (also of Cathar Eclipse), bassist Juan Diaz (also of Bauda), drummer Pablo Vera (also formerly of Animus Mortis, as well as Anima Inmortalis)—combines their myriad experiences elsewhere to create this destructive unit that packs a ton of power and passion into their music. Yes, a lot of bands go the atmospheric black metal route these days, but these guys stand apart. They’re not trying to make you daydream. They are instead filling your head of explosive imagery and fiery chaos that should ignite your dead heart and make you feel your purpose in life.

The record opens with “Death Knell,” a cold, airy cut at first before it rips apart, and the pace begins to devastate. The riffs are mighty and thrashing here, as they are so many places on this album, and C’s wild cries deliver a punishing salvo, one that keeps at the throat up until the song’s fire finally burns off. “Relentless Ascension” has guitars fluttering before taking charge of the mission, with glorious melodies arriving in abundance. The tempo feels like a great storm hanging overhead, later going cold and murky, only to emerge from the other side with a cathartic blast of energy. “Deliver Us” bursts from the gates, with riffs blasting all over the place and creaked growls leaving bruises. The track feels equally guttural and overwhelmingly powerful, with the emotion shaking your insides. “Sight of the Oracle” bleeds in with a thick bassline and more huge melodies bursting from the seams. C roars heavily over this thing, with the guitars simmering in some places, burning and churning in others, with the track’s final moments crackling away only after leaving serious burns.

“Degraded Soul” has a clean opening, teasing serenity, but it’s not long before the doors are stormed and the assault is on. The song is mid-paced but heavy as hell for a large portion of its run, with gruff vocals, infectious melodies, and later a breath of calm before the molten steel is poured out all over again. “Towards the Morning Star” is an instrumental cut built with clean playing, thick, moody strings, and a murky ambiance that unleashes thick servings of darkness. “6th Replicant” just explodes, with riffs tidal waving toward you, and the drums rumbling especially aggressively. The tempo turns a little gazey at points, letting spacey magic rain down, but this mostly instrumental (there are some beastly howls toward the end) cut later spills blood again and comes to a thunderous conclusion. Closer “Seeker of Souls” boils at first before spilling over and letting the pace get raucous. The track mauls for a while, with the vocals feeling feral, but also creaky in spots. Later C warbles his words, almost like Tom G Warrior at his gothy best, and the track then hits a dangerous gallop, finishing up in a pit of melting riffs.

I don’t do nearly enough random digging online because, as noted, inbox. But now and again unearthing something I may not have found otherwise, such as Sol Sistere’s debut “Unfading Incorporeal Vacuum,” makes all that investigative work worthwhile. This is an electrifying, world-toppling record, and its constant rotation in my ears the rest of the year is as given.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/solsistereofficial

To buy the album, go here: http://hammerheartstore.com/

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Nadler shifts her focus to other characters on darkly excellent ‘Strangers’

Nadler Ebru Yildiz

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

Being that we congregate here because of metal and extreme music, most of us are bound to be attracted to dark, damaged characters. While it once was unheard of to express vulnerability and hurt, those have become common elements that have helped turn a once solely barbaric terrain into one that has made some room for compassion.

These qualities also have pushed our tastes and interests beyond just heavy metal and into other areas that share some of the same qualities. One artist who has always been on the perimeter philosophically is Marissa Nadler, whose dark folk has attracted a nice portion of the more open-minded metal audience. Yes, she collaborated with Xasthur in the past, but that’s not her only in. Her music often is ghostly, haunting, and more painful than a spike from some dude’s wristband to the eye, and it sure can make you cry harder. Nadler’s music might be a far from metal as one can get sonically, but thematically, she’s right there in the middle of the nightmare. Her new record “Strangers” is her seventh full-length overall, and it is arguably her best. It also provides a bit of a change for her as the music doesn’t focus quite as much on her own life but on characters that comprise these tales.

Nadler coverThe last couple years since Nadler’s excellent last record “July,” lots of things have changed in her life. She tackled some of her personal demons and got married to a longtime love who had been the subject of some of her most heartbreaking material in the past (I highly recommend the feature story Spin just did on her, which is excellent). Now on “Strangers,” it seems like the title of the record is on purpose, as she examines other people and other situations not necessarily her own, and she does an amazing job conveying their emotions. Musically, she sounds as free and inspired as ever before, and each song on this album stands alone, and has its own unique DNA. She again worked with producer Randall Dunn (Sunn 0))), Wolves in the Throne Room, Earth, Black Mountain), who really understands her sound and helps her make an ideal sounding record.

“Divers of the Dust” opens the record amid echoing piano and Nadler’s voice reverberating, pouring emotion into the song and causing it to swell at each end. “You were the bullet in my gun, I was your man,” she calls, practically driving a dagger through your chest. “Katie I Know” has a nice, warm ’70s feel, folk-led with soft flutes, but also some psyche-washed keys that disorient. “I can bury this heart of mine,” she levels, as haunting melodies, thick strings, and quivering sensations hammer this song home. The chorus is one that will etch itself in your head and never leave. Not that you’ll want it to exit. “Skyscraper” is acoustically picked, with Nadler delivering breathier vocals, often harmonizing with herself, and some electric charges jab the edges later, with the song bleeding away. “Hungry Is the Ghost” is like a wintry haze, with layered strings drizzled, guitars weeping, and a country vibe to it. Psychedelics swim, as Nadler calls, “Hungry is the ghost inside of me,” as the song fades into the mist. “All the Colors of the Dark” is a great song, one of the best in Nadler’s catalog, and it starts so disarmingly. It feels like a lullaby at first, with Nadler leveling, “This is not your world anymore.” But just when you think it’s going to stay where it’s at, the gorgeous chorus arrives, simply comprised of Nadler calling back the title, but it is arresting. Just a fantastic song.

The title track then arrives, a song with guitars floating, thick pedal steel adding even more feelings, and the music echoing and dripping all over Nadler’s words. “Janie in Love” is another interesting character study, with Nadler poking, “You’re a natural disaster,” amid sounds buzzing and noire-rich guitars adding a nice sepia shade. The chorus bursts with life, with Nadler again repeating the title, and it all ends in a mind-glazing sheen that lulls you into serenity. “Waking” seems like what its title indicates, the first moments when returning to consciousness, as her guitar loops and she sings in such a manner that she’s practically inviting you back to dream again. “Shadow Show Diane” has blusier guitar licks, with Nadler playing storyteller, her character keeping secrets about a mysterious figure who has become a major part of the person’s nights. It’s tough to tell if that’s out of loneliness, dissatisfaction, or excitement. Maybe a combo of all three. It’s understated in spots, which gives it that much more power as it moves along. “Nothing Feels the Same” is smeared with sadness, with organs swelling, her voice pushing along softly, and allowing the chorus to rise up and flood into the scene. Closer “Dissolve” arrives softly, with acoustics plucked, and Nadler lamenting, “I am another body in this town.” But it’s not all downhill, as she finds hope as the song moves along, and as the track tips toward hearty folk territory, she softly admits, “You never bring me down,” which is something I always feel about her and her music.

It’s no secret Nadler is a major favorite of ours at this site, and “Strangers” only swells that adulation to even greater heights. Nadler has been through her own battles, emerged from the other side, and appears to be a stronger musician and person as a result. This record might not be heavy sonically, but it will batter your heart and soul.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.sacredbonesrecords.com/products/sbr148-marissa-nadler-strangers

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

Throane’s dissonant, fog-filled black metal mangles the senses with ‘Derrière Nous La Lumière’

ThroanePain and darkness seem to be major elements of what a lot of artists we feature here face. It’s part of the territory, considering much of this music is ensconced in ugliness and terror, so those who make genuine contributions to this art form feel that a little heavier than most.

For someone such as Dehn Sora, he’s been able to spread his morbid work over two forms of the metal medium. As a graphic artist, his creations have adorned collections from artists as rich as Ulver, Blut Aus Nord, and Church of Ra, and he also has added his musical chops to bands including Treha Sektori, Sembler Deah, and Ovtrenoir. But now the French artist is taking matters into his own hands musically with his new project Throane, whose debut record “Derrière Nous La Lumière” is being released by the always eclectic, typically foreboding Debemur Morti. As references, there is pain, darkness, and torment spread over these seven songs, and the delivery is foggy and menacing, leading you into mysterious corners and strange patches of murk.

Throane coverWhile black metal at its core, there is plenty of experimentation, industrial smoke, and dissonant fire, and it’ll be pretty easy to make comparisons to bands such as Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega. In fact, sometimes the music sounds a little too close to those forces, whether that’s on purpose or purely by accident, that it can blend into the bulk of what’s already out there when it comes to this sound. Yet, there’s certainly something intriguing going on beneath the surface, special qualities that give Sora a voice that extends beyond those bands and carves tributaries solely his own. It’s a pretty cool adventure, this album, and each listen tends to peel back layers unexposed on previous trips.

“Sortez Vos Lames, Que Nous Perdions Nos Poings” kicks off the record with noise wafting, unsettling guitars, and then the tempo catching fire and charging, only to have it cool off moments later. Wild howls then tear into the room, folding into chaotic noise that spreads out and fades away. “Aussi Féroces Que Nous Repentons” has chilling guitar and whispered passages lurking beneath the din, and then the music begins to float, with the vocals sounding like they’re cutting through your head. Listen to this on headphones to get the full effect. It’s pretty damn unsettling. Feral grunts precede the song entering an eerie silence that has guitars spitting out of the other end, and a damaged melody meets up with a renewed sense of chaos. The title cut is swirling and dizzying, with the fury building and the music stinging. Dissonant strangeness slips in, with the music disorienting, and the back end of the song spreads noise over the last minutes, like a droning airplane engine hanging overhead.

“Un Instant Dans Une Torche” has noise grinding and furious cries, with the sounds clashing as if going to electronic war, and the song stretching and reverberating. Suddenly, the track slips into sludgy madness, with your head spinning crazily, and the final moments driving into a mud pit. “Contre Terre” is a strange one, a track built mostly on ambiance that sounds ghostly and cold. It seems like an ominous fog is settling over everything, before guitars launch and stab wildly into the dark. “Nous Blâmons La Tempête De Nous Avoir Laissés En Plaies” lets the guitars churn and give off rubber fire smoke, while the tempo pounds and melts away. The sounds bounce all over and have a threatening vibe, and that pays off later when guitars re-emerge, maim dangerously, and then disappear into a sonic sizzle. Closer “A Cette Chute” starts with noises ringing like a bell, almost as if it’s trying to hypnotize. Suddenly, throaty growls gouge away, while the music feels like a ghoul circulating around your head, and the track dissolves into a thick halo of sounds.

Sora has something interesting here with Throane, and as time goes on and his music develops, it would be nice to hear him strengthen his own qualities. The ferocity and abysmal terror is present on “Derrière Nous La Lumière,” and it’s thick and massive, like a dark force lurking in the corner of the room that you cannot see but you know is threatening. This nightmarish collection is just step one for Throane, so who knows what horrible chambers we’ll enter on future journeys?

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/throane

To buy the album, go here: http://www.debemur-morti.com/en/12-eshop

For more on the label, go here: http://www.debemur-morti.com/