Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Dead Refrain - "The Red Remains" (2011)

Fellow Pittsburgh musician/artist, Joe Mruk, has followed up his killer EP, The Wallpaper Voyage, with another homey yet quality EP, The Red Remains. Hailing from Arizona, Mruk brings a distinct vintage western feel to the table of the saloon. Lyrics are real as whiskey on a fire: "Well she don't believe in God, but she still needs someone to answer to the folks put in their caskets, to the carnage and the cancer." Mruk has a knack for keeping songs non-trite by utilizing unexpected chord changes. From spur-stompin' rhythms to sentimental finger picking selections, the instrumentation is broad, the song-writing: personal and aspiring. Beware Bon Iver, The Dead Refrain is on his way.

The Red Remains

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Windy & Carl / Amp - "Split" (1997)

Windy & Carl's most memorable song is on this little split. "Near And Far" is lovely and ethereal as Windy's breathy whispering voice hums over warm, vibrating guitar drones. Amp's side is also superb and passes by simply and beautifully and paced like a cloudy spring day. Truly a gem of a release and relatively unknown, this is very highly recommended.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Craig Colorusso - "Sun Boxes" (2011)

The blissful sun shimmers.
Sunshine shimmers glints blissfully overhead.
All-encompassing rays of sunlight glimmer.
Shards of ice melt in a tub of warm sound.
Chirping in fields of cloud-parted sky.
Sweating soothing textures,
Nature hums a bright tune.
Blessing hearers,
O' blissful whistle.

I've attempted to emulate the vibe of Sun Boxes in the poem above. When sunlight reaches the receptive solar panels, it sets off a varying guitar note loop in each of twenty boxes, comprising a Bb chord. A splendid coalescing of nature and technology, Sun Boxes gives back to the inspiration of natural energy, space and time. From the beach, to the frozen pond and grassy field (the latter two of which you will hear), different terrains contribute their own personality to each recording. The boxes coincide with habitats galore -- allowing insects and vegetation (or whoever happens to pass through) to get a different sensation of the center of our solar system. Imagine the Sun strumming a guitar ever-so-gently with its heat-waves... what is more relaxing than hearing the same warmth that hugs your skin on a clear day, resonate through speakers in song? So thanks, Craig, for this breath of fresh sound. And no, Temptations, you don't have sunshine on a cloudy day... when the sun shines through, we have cleverly constructed drone.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Koen Holtkamp - "Field Rituals" (2008)

Field Rituals is an emotion-wrenching offering from sound artist Koen Holtkamp -- mixing field recordings and divine drones to create a reflective soundtrack of everyday life. Superbly mixed, the sound quality is as fresh as the brisk dew on a blade of grass. There is quite the array of instrumentation, lulling vocals included, and the listener is teleported into a variety of aural settings. All blissfully blended to perfection.

Inquire within.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Earth - "Earth 2 - Special Low Frequency Version" (1993)

If you consider yourself a drone fan whatsoever and do not own this yet, then you need to immediately stop calling yourself a drone fan. Respect your elders, Earth show what drone is truly about on this legendary album that is the definition of backbreaking heaviness. The cover art paints a scene truly indicative of what the recording represents: a massive slab of flat, unmoving grassland earth set among a monolithic, cloudless blue sky, a tiny encampment nestled in the corner practically unnoticeable with a quick glance. Similarly, Earth's music is gigantic; it lurches and drags and hangs in the air, overstaying its welcome. It is unmoving, yet relentlessly heavy. The sheer weight of this classic is tremendously obvious -- let it weigh on your fucking soul.

Alas, our bodies will go back to the ground one day, nay... they will go back to the E A R T H!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

More Funeral Doom

Evoken - "Antithesis Of Light" (2005)

Evoken -- American -- Funeral doom/death in the vein of Disembowelment

Longing For Dawn - "Between Elation And Despair" (2009)
Longing For Dawn -- Canadian -- Funeral doom mingling with brooding dark ambient

Skepticism - "Stormcrowfleet" (1995)

Skepticism -- Finnish -- Savage old-school funeral doom metal

Absum - "Purgatoire 2007-2009" (2010)

Absum -- American -- Funeral doom played in a punishing black metal style

Mournful Congregation - "The Monad Of Creation" (2005)

Doom metal weather is upon us; clocks are set back and darkness arrives earlier. The wind blows harder too and with it, my sense of smell coaxed and recognizes the scent of a grim winter in its wisps. Harrowing, menacing funeral doom metal to perfectly accent the coldest of Autumn evenings:

The Monad Of Creation

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mutilation Rites - "Demo" (2011)

This demo is a good release from the young black metal act, Mutilation Rites. Hailing from Brooklyn, NY, this cold offering brings quality darkness. The vocals are harsh and the guitar riffs are solid. Production is lo-fi/standard but isn't too fuzzy for newcomers to the genre either. Definitely a worthwhile release from a promising and upcoming band in the U.S. black metal scene.

Harm's Way - "No Gods, No Masters" (2010)

This is a great "tough guy" hardcore album... embracing true anger -- without the generic qualities of much of the other stuff I hear in the genre. There is a good mix of metal, punk, and thrash with heavy-as-hell tone for those chunky riffs everyone loves. Excruciating yells akin to Napalm Death's carry the onslaught. Every song on the EP smashes. No Gods, No Masters is Harm's Way's most focused release, and definitely the one to check out.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Circle Of Ouroborus / Drowning The Light - "Moonflares" (2011)

Black metal/depressive rockers, Circle Of Ouroborus, prove once again just how excellent they are. Catchy, sorrowful songs that weep and wail create an atmosphere of hopelessness. Drowning The Light's songs are great as well, adhering to formulaic raw depressive black metal. Autumn is here and it brings with it a cold wind from the North; Moonflares is a perfect choice to accompany the changing of the season.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fennesz - "Endless Summer" (2006)

Noisy as it is chill, Endless Summer is the soundtrack to your far-off memories -- a cut-up version of your favorite nostalgia. Acoustic guitar melodies blow over sandy synth sounds. The digital manipulation creates a slew of ambiguous blips, yet a faint Ducktails-esque tune can be heard underlying the mess. It's like a wet day at the beach. The sunshine shares the atmosphere with rain-clouds, and somehow, it works. Electronic patterns drizzle down; sunny strokes evaporate the salty puddles. Together with the cover art and the title itself, the sound swells with humidity. Aesthetically, Endless Summer is rather homemade, but like family home videos, you will be returning to this again and again because of the past emotions it invokes.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Guam River - "The New Maps Of Hell" (2005)

Guam River's The New Maps Of Hell is not as intimidating of a listen as the title perhaps insinuates. Do not dismiss this though; from noise mastermind, John Olson, Hell hisses + groans and actually leaves the listener hanging in something more akin to a Purgatory for 15 minutes. Whether you are a fan of Olson's other material or weird music in general, do yourself the favor of listening to this.

Black Eagle Child / Thoughts On Air - "Split" (2010)

Black Eagle Child and Thoughts On Air celebrate all that is D R O N E music with unpolished production, acoustic guitars, and sparse tribal percussion. The sounds found here have ritualistic leanings and are at times, pure bliss with Black Eagle Child's side resounding beautifully and proudly. And Thoughts On Air plays true to his moniker creating breathtaking, meandering vibrations of silky psychedelic fuzz. Do not miss out on this one.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Various Artists - "Dronography Mixtape" (2011)

I'm blessed to have friends and colleagues in the underground music scene that were able to contribute to this compilation. Feast your ears in this whirlpool of textures. Become engulfed in the calming atmosphere, and allow yourself to escape the trivial stress of the day. Drones vary on this one: from airy ambient, to spaced-out U.F.O. signals, to turbulent earthquake rumblings. Each hugs your auditory canals (especially with a giant pair of headphones) and soothes the soul. Make like the Soundscapes Channel and throw this mixtape on your iPod -- then go watch a sunset. Or perhaps you are more a fan of seeing CEVs. Meditate or let the mix-tape accompany your work. Regardless, the instrumental aesthetic suits the broadest demographic -- even if only used for background music.

Just relax...

Monday, August 8, 2011

D.S. Miller - "Eternal Return" (2011)

Fellow Pittsburgh droner D.S. Miller has created his most calming dream-inducing drone to date with Eternal Return. The cosmic, airy and persuasively serene ambiance in these three pieces carry the listener away to another dimension for just under an hour. The soft textures hit the spot yet diversify atop extra-terrestrial rhythmic patterns. A fitting detour before R.E.M. sleep, these songs patiently pace the brain into a worry-free lulled state. This draws deep from the well of esoteric bliss.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Deathhammer - "Phantom Knights" (2010)

Hellhammer they ain't, Norwegian black thrashers, Deathhammer, really bring the thrash (imagine that) and with a name like that, they'd better. Despite obvious Satanic Rites worship at times, Phantom Knights is a well-composed and fast-paced experience. With shrieking vocals that push the album to superbity, this grim offering is certainly not to be overlooked.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Abyssic Hate - "Suicidal Emotions" (2000)

A good depressive black metal album that came out in 2000, Suicidal Emotions is raw and fuzzy and the riffs are deeply sorrowful. Yet despite taking much from early Burzum at times, the album surprisingly never feels too contrived or cliche.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Druid Lord - "Hymns For The Wicked" (2010)

I am crossing over into DeafMetal's music-review territory this time with a newer band who play a classic death/doom style of metal. Druid Lord spawned a couple years back in muggy Florida and their sound is no less sweltering. Members have purebred metal backgrounds considering their repertoires with such greats as Incubus, Equinox, and Acheron. Influences abound out of the bubbling, porridge-thick death/doom. A decadent mix of stoner and horror theatrics, blown-out, blasé recording quality, and ruthless brutality makes Hymns For The Wicked a monstrous listen. Take a hint and do what their latest Myspace status says to do: "Burn one and crank the DOOM!"


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Few Old Death Metal Albums...

I've noticed an outcry for old-school death metal recommendations lately, so instead of just posting one album, I will post a few lesser known legendary ones that I hold dear. Though, it should be noted that these are not strictly death metal albums, but they all maintain an overall old-school death sound. So without further ado...

Carbonized - "For The Security" (1991)

Carbonized's For The Security is a savage album. Hints of grind and avant-garde metal fleck this one of a kind 1991 masterpiece. The drumming is spectacular, the riffs are cacophonous and messy, and the are vocals are extraordinary. Check this out if you like death metal that breaks away from tradition.

Old Funeral - "The Older Ones" (1999)

Old Funeral was known for once including Varg, Abbath, and a few other major black metal artists in their line-up. Although the band was only active for a handful of years, believe it or not, these grimlins created some of the catchiest and heaviest death metal of their day. With ripping riffs, blazing blast beats, and sometimes comedic vocals, Old Funeral certainly did not take themselves very seriously. The Older Ones is a compilation album and features a great track list.

Rottrevore - "Iniquitous" (1993)

Rottrevore are local legends hailing from my town, Pittsburgh. Here is a death metal band that is difficult to be outdone in the brutality department. In fact perhaps the only other local bands who can even contest are the legendary Nunslaughter or the pulverising Dream Death. Iniquitous is a remarkable old-school album making its debut in 1993, proving that great death metal didn't have to come from New York or Florida. There are some really good riffs here and the vocals are disturbingly guttural.

Ophis - "Withered Shades" (2010)

I cannot recommend this album enough. Ophis's 2010 release, Withered Shades, is a perfect example of what crushing modern death/doom metal should sound like. Riffs are slow and suffocating and the vocals boom and bellow from the depths below (my nether regions quiver with glee). If you skip out on this then you are not a true metal fan, you are a wimp.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Reverorum Ib Malacht - "What Do You Think Of The Old God, We Call Him Judas?" (2005)

Reverorum Ib Malacht's What Do You Think Of The Old God, We Call Him Judas? is an intimidating demo, not just because the band's name and album title are ridiculous, but also because the music is very disturbing. With lo-fi black metal being coaxed through dark ambient Judas becomes a very intense listening experience! The second of the 2 songs, "... And Bathe In Cold Holy Water," is a terrifying piece of music and can contest with any track off a Gnaw Their Tongues release.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Münn - "Selbstmordwald Rehearsal Demo" (2008)

In 2008, Woodsmokers, Münn, made their lone rehearsal demo available to earthlings before realizing that they were not fit for this world and hurriedly shriveled away back into the forest mists, never to be heard from again. Often reminiscent of a noisier Moss, Münn's Selbstmordwald Rehearsal Demo brings any listener to their quaking knees. This 80 minute demo is harsher than a hobo's morning breath, each song louder and heavier than the next. In short, the Selbstmordwald Rehearsal Demo offering is not of this world, in fact it is...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Raksha Mancham - "Phyidar" (1992)

Released in 1992, Phyidar is a compilation of Raksha Mancham's first three vinyls, plus extra songs. Rooted in Buddhist influences, this could be considered tribal drone - widely experimenting in ethnic sounds and styles. Poetry is recited over more modern guitar. Chants, moans, shouts, breaths, repetitive primal beats, and other ancient bellows and lyres transcend the listener to a proverbial time of solemn myth.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Aix Em Klemm - "Aix Em Klemm" (2000)

Aix Em Klemm's self-titled debut (and only) release is one that is never going to leave my headphones. With warm drones and exquisite melodies, Aix Em Klemm ranks among the likes of Stars Of The Lid (Adam Wiltzie is half of the band after all) or Loscil any day. Expect bright and therapeutic ambient atmospheres with the occasional fleeting airy vocals that aid in sweeping the listener away to another dimension.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Blaspherian - "Infernal Warriors Of Death" (2011)

A very grim release with excellent doom riffs and deadly vocals, Blaspherian plays old-school doom laced death metal that is very menacing. Infernal Warriors Of Death has an awesome album cover too so check it out and get into it:

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wraiths - "Oriflamme" (2011)

Wraiths produce ritual dark ambient that conjures up atmospheres of sores and frailties of peasants' past.

Roll around in ashes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hyios - "Consuetudines" (2009)

Hyios's Consuetudines could be the soundtrack to an experimental alien film, the plot overflowing with horror at the disturbing discovery of extraterrestrial life living and breeding among the masses ... do / not // listen /// to //// this ///// alone //////

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Uzi Suicide - "We Steal Everything" (2003)

Uzi Suicide's We Steal Everything is the perfect blend of powerviolence and thrashcore, man. These guys love veganism, satan, shoplifting and blast beats so just listen because yeah it rules.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cruciamentum - "Convocation Of Crawling Chaos" (2009)

Cruciamentum's Convocation Of Crawling Chaos (say that ten times) is one of the finest in the  modern era of old-school death metal. It's relatively short, running under 20 minutes, but that doesn't make it any less pummeling. The vocals sound as if they have been belched  forth from the bowels of Hell and the bleak atmosphere conveyed is enough to ruin your day.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rigor Sardonicous - "Apocalypsis Damnare" (2005)

Rigor Sardonicous are legends in their own respect -- the New York duo formed in 1988, but it wasn't until 1999 that they released their first full-length, Apocalypsis Damnare. The quality of production here is below average, cymbals loud and crashing, Joe Fogarazzo's stomach-churning vocals resounding like the bellow of a humpback whale. Akin to a stiff, rotting stench hanging in the air, funeral riffs linger and suffocate the listener with their thick molasses tempo.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Winter - "Into Darkness" (1990)

Into Darkness is my favorite death/doom album next to Spina Bifida's Ziyadah, and rightfully so. This legendary release is simply satisfying. Every riff is arduous; the vocals, deep and mean. The drum work is also excellent and, although there is something slightly unkempt about the album, it certainly doesn't take away from its ability to please. Despite existing as a band for only 3 years, Winter's footprint has called many other imitators to attempt to fill its massive size and, albeit, a few come close, the mighty Winter will forever be the entity remembered for being one of the first to participate in this grueling genre. Is there anything colder than W I N T E R ?

Infester - "To The Depths... In Degradation" (1994)

Infester's 1994 release entitled, To The Depths... In Degradation, is a phenomenal display of why American old-school death metal can contend with the likes of, say, old-school Finnish or Swedish death metal. With vocals that pay homeage to that of a gurgling bog, Infester comes out swinging with speedy and furious instrumentation (although, there is a fair amount of doom influence in the riffing). If you are an old-school death metal fan and do not have this album in your archives, then you owe it to yourself to hear this monster of a record. Much headbanging is sure to ensue.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mangled Torsos - "Anatomia Reformata" (1993)

Anatomia Reformata is Mangled Torsos' 1993 release; try it on for size and then return for more.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Earth - "The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull" (2008)

Earth writes some of the heaviest, back-breaking drone/doom around but if you haven't been paying attention for awhile, their last few albums have opted for a less-distorted, mellower approach. That isn't to say that their latest releases haven't been heavy; quite the contrary... The Bees Made Honey is one of the heaviest albums I've ever heard. Earth combines desert drone with the desolate atmosphere of some kind of post-rock, and creates one of the loneliest instrumental masterpieces of all time. Images of dusty highways bordered by long-forsaken boomtowns vividly come to mind when listening to this release, that only more solidifies Earth's key place in music history.

Sleep Research Facility - "Deep Frieze" (2007)

Sleep Research Facility's 2007, Deep Frieze, is an hour long immersive ambient experience. The recording places the listener in an absolute trance, taking them on a frozen journey to the Arctic Circle + leaving them there, shivering in the howling tundra winds.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Macabre End - "Consumed By Darkness" (1990)

Consumed By Darkness is the epitome of underground and at only 9 minutes long it is obvious why. This demo is the only other of 2 ever released by Macabre End, so brush the dust off of this and prepare for what sheer brutality really is.

Salem - "Destruction Till Death" (1987)

Israeli death metal band, Salem, released their masterpiece in 1987, Destruction Till Death -- an album that shouldn't be taken lightly by any extreme metal fan. With a production that speaks true to its time, this sloppy demo crushes all competitors. A 48 minute experience that has the disgust and aggression of Excavation's Gravemouth and features a blasphemous vocal range reminiscent of Eyehategod's Dopesick (despite it being several years older than both releases), Destruction Till Death is often an overlooked old-school  classic that was a favorite of Euronymous himself and has influenced countless of other classic bands.

Pentacrostic - "The Pain Tears" (1992)

Pentacrostic's The Pain Tears is a death/doom album from 1992 that never ceases to please. With crawling riffs and tortured screams, this is a must-have for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the genre.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rippikoulu - "Musta Seremonia" (1993)

One of Finland's finest offerings: death/doom legends, Rippikoulu. Musta Seremonia is as gritty and effective as sandpaper with simplistic riffs and dynamite drumming. The production is quite coarse and will certainly not appeal to all metal fans, so best leaving this one to the seasoned veterans.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cianide - "The Dying Truth" (1992)

The Dying Truth is a death/doom classic released in 1992. Cianide's debut LP conjures images of a wooly mammoth's slowly deteriorating carcass -- slow and steady and disgusting. The album's monolithic chugging riffs will fracture necks, but hark! there are a few blast beats to be heard, accompanied by gurgled barking that will make you think you have stepped into Hell whilst it being under construction.