ENDTYMER is the inevitable weekly “music blog” series I’ve been working to avoid for some time. It hits at the end of every week with the intent of covering notable new releases, sharing news of new releases, and musing over various personal listening habits. It is a largely informal blog, has opinions, etc. so chill out a bit. — I do my best to cover as much of everything I receive in some form regardless of genre or representation, so, don’t hesitate to send anything and everything my way: email@example.com
ALBUM OF THE WEEK
As July kicks through its second weekly cycle the Album of the Week for my own taste is HISSING‘s ‘Hypervirulence Architecture‘ the second release from the Seattle-based dissonant blackened death/noise trio, a profound and noxiously slick pleasuredome of existential dread’s grinding torsion. Too harsh and/or spooktacular? Take it down a notch and get prog-sludge with Behold! The Monolith, those guys deserve to be noticed for what they’re up to.
- ANTIGAMA – Whiteout [Selfmadegod Records, July 15th]
- THE WAKEDEAD GATHERING – Parallaxiom [I, Voidhanger Records, July 15th]
- BEHOLD! THE MONOLITH – From the Fathomless Deep [Ripple Music, July 15th]
- BIRTH – Born [Bad Omen Records, July 15th]
- INHUMAN CONDITION – Fearsick [Listenable Insanity, July 15th]
Thank you, ahead of time, for reading. I am eternally grateful for the support of readers and appreciate friendly and positive interactions. Think my opinions are trash and that I suck? Want to totally tell me off, bro? Click away and let’s all live more sensible lives full of meaningful interactions. — If you’re interested in some short reviews and music news, you’ll have to wade through a few dumb quips first, scroll down ’til you see a Bandcamp embed.
After several months of figuring out OBS, Twitch streaming, YouTube ‘post-production’ techniques and generally getting a handle on how noise gate vs. noise suppression filters operate I have the general capability to produce decent video “content” and live streams. Working with basic tools I’ve begun piloting various video features, “vlog” ideas, multi-part video reviews, and basically anything short of a podcast with my current setup. The question is… is that something people want? I’ve long figured it isn’t, seeing as how I’m a mush-mouthed nerd and the internet is a popularity contest I’d like to avoid. Without trying some new things I don’t think I can continue with Grizzly Butts for too much longer, doing the same thing over-and-over again only seems to pile on more “work” rather than bolstering the ole skill set. So, let me know if scripted or non-scripted video rambling might be of interest.
HATE, NATURE & OBSCURE THOUGHTS
It isn’t a new or interesting obsession to throw out into the world, in any sense it’ll read as romanticist naturalist anarchic tomfoolery but the hermetic black metal artist in true practice has been a fascination of mine for the last several years. Eh, at least in the sense that I am less concerned with the practicality of these choices and moreso in the exact moment where anyone says “I will no longer participate in society unless forced” and sticks with it, shirking the chance to cash in on obscure legacy artistry via capitalism and human nostalgic cycling. These last two weeks in particular I’ve found myself reading quite a few interviews with Ildjarn and Nidhogg, less interested in the process of their creations and more the exact logic of each path. The catalyst for this subject was essentially remembering that when Anus.com existed in its balls-on-the-table yee-haw internet form there was a particularly incendiary, nigh twenty page document from ILDJARN denouncing the future:
“The majority of today’s metal related interviews and magazines can hardly be said to evoke any amazement or fear, but then again, the readers they are aimed at are most often of the same kind as the interviewed “artist”, namely people following trends.“
This’d been one of several observations on the part of various artists (~2002-2009) that’d fueled my early motivation to further develop music writing skills after my long hiatus from zine writing, I think for the sake of finding a sustainable integrity driven ideal to uphold, within reason. Though reality soon sets in, eh, at least in the sense that you’ll have to be a specialist, a shit-eating all-smiles inoffensive populist, or a ridiculous tryhard “new what’s next?” type to have any sort of audience. Why would anyone bother to invoke amazement or fear without an audience? Well, hah, while I think there’d be a sense of accomplishment enough if I ever had, I only care about avoiding what I see so often from others: Show monkey servitude for tasteless, trendy whims. Good luck finding a crew of people willing to passionately do something for nothing, for someone they don’t know, anyhow. This is perhaps why we find so many people resorting to the slow development of personal art, self-taught skills and a stubborn do-it-yourself modes, there just isn’t enough that others can “professionally” gain from art, media, writing, etc. all of which has been rendered largely valueless by sheer overpopulation of contributors, it makes folks desperately normative in a very ugly competitive way which yields little more then momentary clout.
“Its time for a new era, not corrupted by the attitudes of yesterday’s and today’s false prophets. There are composers of blackened works these days that seem to deserve some attention, but although some metallers provide the listener with a lot of the feelings rooted back in the days, only time will tell if they are what they presently want us to believe. Most probably they’re not. In order to create truly grand works incorporating darkness and glowing misanthropy, one has to take into consideration a lot of other factors besides the musical aspect of it, and go beyond this level. It’s more of a lifestyle that has to be lived in order to get the most out of it and to see what it really deals with. It provides fulfillment, because so many feelings can be expressed simultaneously, making it a truly unmatchable combination. Aggression, grief, pain and solitude.”
There are some glaring truths here, I believe. Deep in this manifesto this part is perhaps the point where I’d seen the artist finally rationalizing-up a pact of no participation, a method of protecting the integrity of the self and avoiding the soured, soulless and plastic falsity of opportunists, or, the fear of becoming one by association. Beyond this thought we get some address of the “black metal lifestyle” lived rather than shown, performed. I believe we can look to similar statements from Reverorum ib Malacht in terms of avoiding becoming or contributing to the “black metal brand”, that one can only truly sustain the philosophy by doing away with the musical constructs of the sub-genre entirely, taking it away from a cash hungry, opportunistic sub-category of popular music. In the case of Ildjarn at least up ’til about 2005 this isn’t a worthwhile consideration, or a problem to solve.
“And about the future, there is none.“
As we glean what living the black metal lifestyle might mean to the artist, perhaps only on a personal level since he is not a guru or ‘selling’ a righteous path for anyone but himself, we get some practical terms of exclusion yet some forgiveness for the sin of untrue acts by necessity in an 2002 interview:
“Black Metal should be lived, being in the forest, mountains, away from people, embracing nature. And once in a while going back to civilisation to practice your hate… I’m sorry to say I haven’t lived 100% after the laws of Black Metal, but that’s because I’ve had to work to get money, intermingling with people. I plan to leave work as soon as I’ve earned enough to live on the interests, and move away to a small cabin in the mountains, without electricity. I could never release anything in order to earn money.“
While it isn’t the most reasonable sort of fiscal plan for living off the grid from my United States-centric point of view the implied choices may very well make sense for what I assume is the general Telemark-adjacent regions of Norway. The goal is implied well enough anyhow, a romantic notion of essentially being re-absorbed by the natural world away from the eyes of transhumanism’s false promise of existential evolutionary gains i.e. “progress” in cyclic forgetful torment. Of course, I have been a student of various schools of Buddhism since the late 90’s and cannot help but arrive upon this slight, of course unintentional, side-laying version of the first two noble truths:
Suffering — The cycle of human life is intended to be painful trial(s) of suffering in stages, the goal of spirituality is to free one’s self from rebirth back into torment (life). Attachments — Physical and psychological solitude and detachment from desirous participation should reveal that the self is an illusion created by trinkets, impermanent phantoms and figments of the mind that will only disappoint when they inevitably dissolve. From my point of view, and with this vaguely “religious” philosophy in mind, there couldn’t be a more natural desire of non-participation in the world of popular music for an artist who’d never been appreciated when active. Much as I’d like to circle back into a conversation about various forms of Satanism which confirm these ideas, the temple of “one” we find in many sub-sects of various spiritualities, and various other reasons (or, ideologies) which drive folks away from their musical talents and into their proverbial “cabins in the woods” to live in the daimonian clutches of their native forests the major point here is that I so admire Ildjarn for moving on when the time was right and having the fortitude for acts of integrity even when it might mean clearing his storage space of old compact discs.
As for Nidhogg (“the true man-hater who pisses on God”), I remember reading that ’til he heard the third Bathory album thrash metal was his first love in terms of music and that is all any artist needs to say to win me over… unless they’re a goddamned Testament fan.
BONES AND ASH
Somewhat related to the Ildjarn notion in terms of aesthetics (the logo), a Norwegian anti-social impulse, and differently raw spiritual black metal attack this first demo tape from FERAL HOWL caught my ear this week, perhaps simply because I needed a backing track for my bug-eyed black metal interview reading sessions to start. Their approach is largely atmospheric, easygoing and exaggerated guitar progressions built on oddly articulated chord strangling rushes and distant, hollow beats. The hail of static from the reverb occluded guitar voicing makes for an oddly professional robe of sound considering it is a homespun recording, having been mastered by Travis Nordhal who’d given similar juiced-up crackle to Eosphoros‘ ‘II‘ and godform ‘Om kosmos och de tolv järtekn‘, too. The real genius moment here for my taste is “Specters of the Dismal Fog” as its clashing transitions and noisome moodiness continue to intensify in there irrational harmonization creating an eerie, satisfying warping of the piece which I’d found unlike anything else I’d heard from Bandcamp stumpers lately. You can grab it off Night Rhythms.
BURN AWAY THE STATUS QUO
Although it’ll serve an ultra-loud “hi-fi hardcore dude” version of extreme metal tank-crushing rhythm as a first impression Boston, Massachusetts-based duo SOL ETHER do eventually reward the listener’s patience on this debut LP. For starters, of course the Mark Richards album artwork is absolutely stunning, my first impulse when seeing it was “Damn, are these guys signed…” because who wouldn’t want to put out a record lookin’ like that? In terms of where they find a shape and season for their ’99 metalcore assisted blackened/death-grinding chunking violence… it’ll take about ten minutes to start sinking into their bigger grooves and “Golden Head” is the song where everything starts to melt away and the sort of ‘big stage’ gearhead thunder of it all reveals they’ve got some interesting points of presentation in mind. The effect is claustrophobic, absolutely harshing up the senses the way Teeth or newer Wake might, though these folks are more blunt in their core rhythmic statements. There is an overt statement of personality here in terms of defiance against the divisive, malleable mindset of the status quo and they’ve done so in a way that reads as a mythic parable in terms of lyrics, anyhow it won’t hurt to read along with the shouting and soak in the (admittedly initially blunt) journey taken, there are some keen surprises that happen along the way, tonally and texturally. ‘I: Golden Head‘ released July 10th, independently:
COOL SHIRTS, BROS
Yep, I definitely know how stupid it is to check out a band simply because they’re wearing a shirt from a group you like but in the press photos for BATTLEGRAVE‘s ‘Cavernous Depths‘ (out via Bitter Loss Records on the 22nd) they’re wearing Demolition Hammer and Skeletal Remains shirts. Now, don’t get me wrong this song here “We Die Here” has like, a breakdown, so I’m not really into the modern hardcore touched death/thrash idea going on as its a bit mainstream’d for my taste (see: earlier Skeletonwitch) …but I get the sense that they’re going at it with the right stuff in mind. Pretty solid chunk of a song here:
CREATE MY SKULL, PLEASE
Thee monthly, yearly psyche decongestant has arrived, draining the soul from them rotten, fouled-up humours and taking whatever humming ball of idiotic light you are into a warmer, safer headspace. The dreamy-stoney cinematic climes of ‘Skull Creator‘ finds singer Chad Ross‘ (Comet Control, Quest for Fire) vocal talents reaching breathy, earthen highs alongside members of Earthless, Black Mountain and Destroyer for the sake of glass-eyed and shimmering folken psychedelia with very light Americana undertones. C.ROSS‘ latest record was an easy thing to fall into on my part, starting with “Wrong Side of the Sky’ and beaming in every direction. An easy to pick up and enjoy mid-summer jam at the very least, and the production values are ridiculously fine.
Portland’, Oregon based death metal crew AUTOPHAGY have announced their debut full-length ‘Bacteriophage‘ is coming September 30th by way of Pulverised Records. The original line-up featured members of Vastation and an ex-member of Ritual Necromancy, but from what I’ve gathered off social media Bell Witch‘s drummer features here in place of the previous skintapper. Add this one to the top of your most anticipated September releases if you’re a death metal goon.
LABYRINTH OF STARS have announced their out of this world atmospheric death metal debut ‘Spectrum Xenomorph‘ will release via the good folks at Translation Loss Records this coming September 30th. The project was apparently founded between members of Lantlos and Valborg, alongside musician Dirk Stark, but you’ll find an somewhat unexpectedly dissonant, original form of death metal here with excellent atmospheric reach. Struggling to keep up with all the major releases from this label lately, can’t ignore the quality at this point. Check out “Star Pervertor”:
Here is a well-anticipated release on my part: Hell’s Headbangers have set August 12th as the release date for the fifth album from Italian regressive heavy metal maulers BARBARIAN. Really liking the cover art and title track from ‘Viperface‘ so far. The album arrives on CD and cassette tape formats first, the vinyl version will follow later this year. 666% MORE KILL!
Portuguese black metal label Signal Rex have announced MONS VENERIS‘ fifth album, ‘Inversados d’Um Abismo de Podridão‘, on CD, cassette tape, and vinyl LP formats. So far it sounds like a damned wild, raw and violent sort of record and a fitting follow up to their releases of late. The CD and tape versions will be released on September 11th while the vinyl version will follow later this year.
Caligari Records have announced August 11th as the release date for the debut EP from GROTESQUERIES, a death metal band from members of Black Mass, GOG, and Morgued. ‘Haunted Mausoleum‘ will hit on cassette tape format soon enough, check out the first preview track over on Bandcamp:
British death metal quintet LIVE BURIAL have readied their second full-length album ‘Curse of the Forlorn‘ once again handled by the good folks at Transcending Obscurity Records. They’ve not said much about it but the album art is nice enough and the first couple of songs smoke, looking forward to it:
.ANOTHER NEWSONG// FROM: KENMODE?!1REEE33!!~ Holy dang listen to that bass guitar growl, absolutely love it. The new album ‘Null‘ is miserable stuff, tortured nowadays hardcore influenced noise-rocking sludgin’, though their discography is generally ace, this might pan out to be one of their best yet, or, at least packed with reactionary conviction enough to really standout in late September. Arttofact releases ‘Null‘ September 23rd, check out “But They Respect My Tactics”:
The indomitable Chaos Records have announced September 16th as the release date for MORBUS GRAVE‘s long-awaited debut album, ‘Lurking Into Absurdity‘, on CD format. The vinyl LP version will be released in early 2023. Filthy 80’s death metal sound from Milan, Italy. Check out “Traumatic Malignancy”:
Jacksonville, Florida-based crossover/thrash metal band RHYTHM OF FEAR will release their long awaited latest full-length ‘Fatal Horizons‘ on October 14th via MNRK Heavy. First single: “Tears of Ecstasy“
FIVE SHORT “CASUAL REVIEWS”
SVIN ‘Introducing SVIN‘
(Tonzonen Records, July 15th)
Arthouse (mostly) instrumental avant-garde “post-rock” trio Svin provide captivating, heavily altered sensation of motion on their sixth full-length album, a largely motorik feat which pulls from all manner of rhythmic experiences in order to glitch together a sorta creeped-out, surreal listen that has proven easy to fall into and notable enough to continue picking up for a spin here and there. These Danish fellowes certainly bring a jazz-touched flavor (“Årring”) to everything they do and this record is no different, though I’d felt it leaned a bit darker than some of their previous albums giving certain pieces (“Snake”, “Deadweight”) an interesting noir buzz despite every piece here more-or-less standing alone as separate experiences without one clear tonal thread. If you are not up for an electro-jazz dunked beat record it might not be your thing but I’d found myself coming back for the sheer variety of experience on offer here.
IAN BLURTON’S FUTURE NOW ‘Second Skin‘
(Seeing Red Records, July 15th)
Though there are plenty of interesting detours taken throughout the full listen most of this second solo record from Toronto, Canada-based heavy rock fixture Ian Blurton kinda lands like a late 90’s/early 2000’s boogie rock record, a deeper shade of ‘High Visibility‘-era The Hellacopters and their more introspective bop-craft smeared around in puddle of 70’s rock, stoner metal, psychedelic rock, glam/stadium rock, etc. You get the idea, they go for the buzzing hook and do so without any particular border in mind, and I’d just as well respond to it with a “Heard it all” attitude if not for just how catchy in a run-on sentence kinda way I tend to appreciate. The title track has it all more-or-less and the rest explores heavier, lighter, and more anthemic shades of that palette to a satisfying enough degree. The only real dig I’d throw in there is that I’d felt like Blurton is afraid to leave too much dead air in terms of vocals, once he gets going there is a real sense of late 70’s prog vocalist syndrome where even the best spot for an instrumental break becomes a chance to extend a chorus variation or insert an extra verse. You’ll probably have too much of a good time sitting with the record to build up the nerve to tell the dude to shut up, though. Favorite song beyond the title track was “Moon Beyond the Moon” by far but the whole of the experience never called for a skip or a pee break.
MIDNIGHT ODYSSEY ‘Echoes of a Celestial Ruin‘
(I, Voidhanger Records, July 15th)
This three CD set collects three hourlong ambient synth records (‘Ruins of a Celestial Fire‘, ‘Ashes From a Terrestrial Fall‘ and ‘Echoes of the Thalassic Deep‘) from Australian atmospheric black metal artist Midnight Odyssey into one release, just over three hours of what most would suggest as dungeon synth/fantasy synth. All of it is surprisingly captivating, evocative of evolving scenery and divulged in very patiently authored movements. This is a bit of a surprise because it has become commonplace for dungeon synth style records to end up falling into ‘stream of consciousness’ playing about rather than writ pieces structured for effect. In this sense the easygoing sophistication of ‘Echoes of a Celestial Ruin‘ betrays the old joke that dungeon synth (or fantasy synth) from black metal fetters tends to only truly impress the insular, overly conservative listening habits of extreme metal kids. My favorite of the three records is ‘Echoes of the Thalassic Deep‘ for the sake of the journey getting there and the implied sunken and dissolving ruins of a once great civilization there at the end.
FELLOWSHIP ‘The Saberlight Chronicles‘
(Scarlet Records, July 15th)
It is no surprise that an inspired music video and a bit of camaraderie and/or affirmation (taken out of context) should create lots of hype for this exuberant, musical theatre-infused symphonic power metal group out of Essex. “Until the Fires Die” was -the- single to grab the right sort of melody loving dorkus out of their skin and swing an imaginary sword at their woes a bit, yet it comes as a bright fanfare in the dark before the larger battle-ready hourlong dirge ahead. Before you jump in thinking this’ll be the accessible power metal album to finally get you into the super nerdcore of it all, you’re wrong. It is catchy, and you might’ve nodded your head at folks saying it sounded a bit like Twilight Force but you don’t know the half of it and man, you’ve never actually listened to that band.
This thing continues to be catchy in bursts and using quite plain, repetitive melodic device. Tons of shreddy yet average leads frame the action well enough but do not overindulge or impress, somewhat restricted use of honking symphonic bits is a bummer (see: “Hearts Upon the Hill”) in terms of never going way, way over the top. The only real criticism I’d offer here is that they’ve made an epic out of what should’ve been tamped down to a solid 40 minute introductory record full of their best cuts, and there are plenty enough here. Jocking this record up to ~63 minutes means their story is a novella+, about two album’s worth of material and only half of it truly inspiring. When the great songs hit you’ll feel it (“Avalon”, “The Saint Beyond the River” etc.) but they’ve worked far too hard to pad the hard-chargers and peak moments with valleys and points of respite which aren’t necessary. The choice between going ultra accessible and being bog-standard hasn’t been made yet but it is a “fun”, enjoyable full listen.
ENTOMBED ‘DCLXVI to Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth!‘
(Threeman Recordings, July 15th)
I’d started reviewing music in print magazines around the time Entombed put out this fourth record, it shook people up exactly right and fucked ’em up the way they’d needed. This’d been their initial head-on heavy rock statement and -the- one to kill off the competition (ha, or just end the trend) in “death n’ roll” forever and though many death metal fans complained about the change I was one of the fools right there with the band ’til ‘Inferno‘ or thereabouts. Since this was one of several records of my teenaged years that’d been instrumental in ensuring I didn’t develop too strong tunnel vision for extreme metal and niche sub-genres, I’ve long felt folks miss the context of just how outrageous going this far with it was at the time. At the very least it could be a suggestion that just don’t have to do what is expected of you in music, or, hey you don’t have to try that hard if you fuckin’ rock, eh.
It is some kind of odd to hear a remastered version (via maestro Magnus Lindberg at Redmount Studios) which is carefully tuned away from the frazzled, scuzzed-out nox of the original but not in the sense that they’ve done much more than make some gains in lead guitar articulation and mid-tones, less distortion of each at higher volumes. Expanding the presence of the record doesn’t hurt and the rhythm tone is still a huge room-filling stink. Otherwise they’ve basically used this as an opportunity to release it properly with high-grade gear, no throwaway booklets etc. Though the demographic for this one is probably going to get a triple CD version on sight it does seem like this was the right time to get Entombed‘s back catalog on proper vinyl reissues.
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