Saturday, September 24, 2011

This week's listening:

Its been a good week. Here are the five albums that have helped make it awesome:

Wind of the Black Mountains have always seemed to be a third-stringer in the US black metal scene, even despite being on Moribund. Not sure why really, it's rather different for black metal, and is engaging and re-playable in a way that most black metal isn't. WotBM are very death metal for a black metal band, or at least on this album. The sound is thick and booming, and even the riffs seem to be more deathy than blacky. Has kind of a speedy off-kilter feeling like early Immolation, but with the unmistakable black/death/thrash fusion-tinged sound of Summon. After all, Sean Peters was in this band too, so hey, the more bands that remind me of Summon the better. Of course I find this pretty original and great, and it's quite overlooked it seems.

Goddamn, why are most Japanese metal bands so much sicker sounding than their peers from elsewhere? They seem to really reinvent the 'death' in death metal in a way that is over the top and inimitable. Coffins are no exception to this, though they're a lot more fun to listen to than most of the others. It's not to say they're a 'fun', goofy band that laces the horror with humor, but it's rather in how their music can be so fucking upbeat and catchy for being so pulverizingly brutal. Mortuary in Darkness is a perfect slab of what I'm talking about. Massive, instantly memorable riffs chug along alternating between mid-paced and a doomy crawl. They really just do it all so right. One of those albums that hits you hard, any mood you play it in.

Another Japanese one! The self-proclaimed "most evil band in Japan" might be fooling you with the cover and title of this one. Okay, it IS sleazy as fuck, but in a really raw and unattached way. I truly feel that this album belongs in the same discussion as some of the South American black/thrash progenitors, and even could be loosely called war metal I think. It's the sort of black metal where everything is played raw and fast and mishmashed, but Abigail are good enough songwriters to rise above it. There is a surprisingly coherent flow to this madness that totally rules, as Abigail never forget to actually riff in their songs. Grindy and thrashy at the same time Bad-ass album!

I really don't know why I wrote off Thy Serpent for so long. 'Melodic black metal' usually sucks hard, but Forests of Witchery is actually a pretty cool album. Has a warm but cool atmosphere, almost like Agatus or Order of the Ebon Hand moved north. Has the Greek sound all over it, minus some of the more rock-like sensibilities of that scene. Ultra melodic like the aforementioned tag would suggest, but I like how there's even a mystical vibe to it that carries the melodies in a way that makes them sound spacey and not melancholic. Tasteful use of keys to accentuate parts, but not overdone like cheesier bands. And let's not forget that it even gets folky without being gay! Is that a first?
Aethyrvorous gets compared to Portal a lot, which I guess is understandable but not entirely correct. Yes, they're both Australian and they both go for that suffocating, black hole like riffing, but structurally, they differ just enough to offer two different takes on the same kind of concept. Whereas I've always thought of Portal's amorphous riffing as a sort of metallic take on dark ambient, Aethyrvorous seem to be slightly more in traditional death metal territory with this. Riffing can be both playful and challenging, and everything seems to be shrouded in a murky, cavernous production job that drives home the feeling. If you're a sucker for this type of musical aesthetic like I am, you'd probably dig this quite a bit. Not exactly my sort of regular listening material, but on occasion it really hits the spot.


  1. this post rules. stoked to check some of this shit out.

  2. Like these mini-reviews. Aethyrvorous sounds really, really interesting. I love the feeling of being completely buried under 1000 tons of suffocating metallic musical spindle.

  3. What exactly is war metal? Is it a kind of blackened thrash?

  4. I have also never fully understood what "war metal" is. I have always heard the band Blasphemy (CAN) associated with the term.

  5. war metal - a pseudo-style that's usually a combination of black, grind, and a pinch or more of death. blasphemy, conqueror, black witchery, etc. i lump certain bands that don't fall in that exact category in with it like niden div. 187. i wouldn't call it a subgenre but it's a reasonable stylistic description like slam death.

  6. a good rule of thumb is heavy power chords tremolo picked over continuous blasting. ALL black metal is about war in one way or another, but "war metal" has this proud, expressly martial vibe. it sounds massive, and either totally chaotic or uncannily disciplined. usually made in canada and australia but there were also some cool bands with a war metal aesthetic in the early Norwegian and Swedish scenes (Niden, Zyklon B, War and then later on Marduk sorta picked up that mantle).