It’s no secret we don’t always do metal every day of the year. In fact, recently, we’ve gotten a nice serving of music that, while still heavy, isn’t always in the metal category outright. So, it’s time to unfurl a slew of these records we’ve been absorbing the past couple of weeks, as they’ve each got something completely different to offer.
If you’re from Pittsburgh and regularly attend shows in the local metal scene, you likely know Shy Kennedy. The vocalist for the crushing doom band Horehound, she commands audiences, lures you into her world, and often looks like she’s seconds from destroying you. On o Heiðrún, she shows a completely different side to her creativity. The first time I heard the songs from “The Human Voice Is a Disease,” it was late at night after a few dark beers, and I was shocked by the different Kennedy I was hearing on these songs as compared to Horehound. I thought of Nadja, Menace Ruine, and even some Black Boned Angel. These seven songs drag you into a chilling, surreal world where you feel like the existence you’re experiencing is something you haven’t visited before. My head spun the first visit I had with these songs, and as I’ve returned more times, the songs have revealed themselves more, and the darkness has become thick enough to taste.
“Lighthouse” is the first cut out of the gate, and from the start, voices flutter, the noise spreads and haunts, and low and high voices battle it out for control of the brightness. “A Dusting of Filth” is the longest song at 9:15, and it begins with demonic whispers slipping through the cracks before spilling into a terrifying vortex. A collection of gasps brings panic, even before the eventual release, and the sounds swirl and hypnotize, continually making you feel for the walls for balance. Kennedy’s voice cries out later, as a swarm of sound suffocates, a psychedelic stretch brings a fever dream, and a long sequence of delicately sung lines help settle the blood pressure and push you into hypnosis. “Follow Me to the Sea” immediately pushes your head into the fog, while noises collide, a cosmic dawn breaks, and what sounds like a million pounds of broken glass is dumped over the finish. “Death Will Cradle Us” has commotion and stuttered breathing, as sound spills like lava, and the back end is engorged with noise. “Pestis” has Kennedy’s voice convulsing as sounds float and panicked breathing gets your mind working overtime. Growls scorch, while the overall ambiance feels utterly terrifying. Closer “Creature” sounds like it should soundtrack a waterlogged, slimy sea beast approaching land and looking for flesh. Horror synth, the feeling like the ceiling is dripping, and weird zaps accompany voices that breathe down your neck, a frightful encounter that influences your nightmares forever.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/noisequench/
To buy the album, go here: https://oheidrun.bandcamp.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.blackseedrecords.com/
Monika Khot has been making waves underneath the surface for some time now, not only working in her Zen Mother project but also destroying the senses with Nordra. The debut, self-titled record under that banner is being released via limited vinyl by Sige Records, a very fitting home for her and this music, and what you’ll hear will challenge all your senses. Khot took these songs on the road supporting Sumac on their tour last summer, bending and stretching them in the live setting. What we have is a record that’s often harsh, sometimes baffling, always compelling, and bleeding with intensity. The concept revolves around the idea of the loss of information from analog to digital conversion, and she achieves this with piercing guitars, dense noise, analog synth, homemade electronics, and sometimes her voice. It’s a strange puzzle, but you’re bound to benefit from trying to piece it all together.
“Apologize to Me, Humanity” opens the record with chirpy beats, static, and synth stabs, as the music goes into a sort of panic. Doomy synth unfurls, as the noise spreads over everything, and sounds reverberate and fill your soul. Quiet, moody singing arrives as the music goes into a haze, fading out and into the mouth of “Regret 1” that has noise stinging and beats shuffling. Sounds swirl into a mesmerizing cloud, as weird videogame-style noises rush in like a steady rain, and melodies conjure hallucinations. From there, the sound gates flood and drift away. “New Cycles” has sounds sprawling, beats burning, and a humid strangeness. Sounds glaze as we veer into weirdness, and from there, clean guitars trickle, and the music builds and fades. “This Is Dissent” is your closer, as sounds hiss, dark shadows creep into the sunlight, and more game-like noises pelt the senses. A dreamy whir arrives, as a wall of beats keeps building, noises bubble to the surface, and the track fades, bringing you back to your much less interesting reality.
Bringing together two prolific forces on one, singular recording opens a lot of possibilities. Aaron Turner (Sumac, Old Man Gloom, ISIS) and noted musician Daniel Menche worked together before on a collaborative effort involving Mammifer, but on “Nox,” it’s just the two of them pulling each side. This 31-minute recording (also out on Sige) is immersive and flushes your brain with power. The track maintains a pretty steady pace over its time, with distress, frozen vocals, and noise stabs popping up along the way. The record itself, spread over two sides of vinyl, slowly came to form as Turner and Menche collaborated, twisted and contorting the song where it needed, using modern technology to create a piece that feels spiritually transcendent but also oddly calming. Listening to the piece, which feels like it flies by because it’s so immersive, is something for a quiet place, where distractions are few and far between.
They start with a long, trance section, with chants emanating, and a sense of calm both bringing ease, but also a premonition that you’re being haunted. Voices float in and out of the clouds, which they do during the entire 31 minutes, and guitars strike like lighting at about the 9-minute mark. Cosmic lathering and an angelic haze push in, and then the earth starts to feel like it’s crumbling beneath your feet. A chill blows in before guitars cut back in at about 21 minutes, leaving noise to soar like a ghost and cloudy singing getting into your bloodstream. Suddenly, the intensity rises, applying pressure and making it feel like the universe is going to crumble. The waves pull back a bit before what sounds like an oversized industrial fan kicks in and continues to make itself larger and larger until you can’t fathom anything else. That continues right up to the end, and once it fades into the horizon, you’re bound to be pasted to your seat, trying to remember how you got there in the first place.
For more on either band, or for more on the label, go here: http://sigerecords.blogspot.com/
To buy either album, go here: https://sigerecords.merchtable.com/