Friday, October 7, 2011

Pick of the week: Wolves in the Throne Room - Celestial Lineage

Wolves in the Throne Room deliver again. I remember, some years back, when I first heard their second album, Two Hunters. I thought it was pretty cool, but in the end, I didn't fully understand it until a long while later, after the release of Black Cascade, their following effort. I still haven't heard their debut, Diadem of 12 Stars, and I wonder if the fact prevents me from fully comprehending the rest of their albums, but the way things are, I wholeheartedly enjoy this album.

Celestial Lineage seems to tie together the various styles presented on Two Hunters, Black Cascade and the Malevolent Grain EP, ranging from their bread-and-butter faster parts to doomy slowdowns and moody female vocals. Besides, they still have the uncanny knack, facilitated by the production, which is quite spot-on, for making blastbeats sound atmospheric. And while, instead of 4 tracks like on all the other albums, there is a huge total of 7 tracks on this album, I think it feels even more uniform and flowing than their previous efforts.

The album's out now on Southern Lord Recordings.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thou shalt listen to Thou, pt. 2: Thou shalt listen to Thou and some other bands too.

Remember when I mentioned that you can download Thou's Tyrant on Well, turns out Thou offers free downloads of most of their stuff right on their official website. So, without further ado, click this and download some of that sludgy goodness.

With similar intentions but with a considerably smaller back catalogue, Kowloon Walled City also offers some free sludgy goodness. Though they don't have as much material under their belts as Thou, they aren't any less awesome. Because they are, too, fucking awesome.

And in other news Denovali Records also has a page with a whole bunch of free downloads, right here. So, click that thing there as well, and download some of that sludgy goodness.

Sludgy goodness for free, legally. Awesome, in my humble opinion.
But don't forget to buy the records once you realize you love them!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pick of the week: Barn Owl - Lost in the Glare

I was picking up a couple of Church of Misery LPs when I heard this album playing in the record store. The music intrigued me and prompted me to inquire as to what it was. "Barn Owl", they said. And so I bought that album as well. It's called Lost in the Glare.

The only other album I've acquired in a similar fashion is Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method by dronesters-turned-well-something-else Earth. This is just as well, since at times Barn Owl's music reminds me very much of Earth's material. At other times it brings to mind Nadja, Sunn O))) and others of that, more overdriven and fuzzed-out persuasion. At all times, the music stays downtempo and mostly instrumental. Indeed, on the album sleeve it says guitarist-organist Evan Caminiti also does vocals, but on my first listen, I did not notice them at all.

Anyway, take a listen and do your own conclusions:

The album is out now on Thrill Jockey Records.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Albums I grew up with, part 1: Type O Negative - World Coming Down

It was in May of 2000 that I bought this album, from the Helsinki-Vantaa airport, shortly before heading off to Crete. 12 years later, I'm all grown up and yet the record stays the same.

Well, not exactly the same. As I've gotten older, my musical tastes have changed. Of the albums I listened to back then, World Coming Down is probably the only one I still listen to with any regularity. If anything, I like the album even better than 12 years ago. I've also learned to recognize musical styles better, and have realized that World Coming Down was the first doom metal album I ever heard.

Over the years, I've gone and bought all the other Type O full-lengths, and, while I've liked the hell out of their earlier works (I was so fucking bored of both the albums that came out after World Coming Down), none of them has, for me, been the solid gold, brilliant effort World Coming Down is. It still remains my absolute favourite Type O Negative album.

I recall Peter Steele saying in an interview that World Coming Down was a darker album than the rest of their catalogue, because he was going through some difficult shit at the time of writing and recording. I have to say, he managed to turn that shit into something beautiful, something grand. For this I will forever respect him immensely. May he rest in peace.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Come my fanatics...

Just wanted to let you know that I waited a long time to get this. And now it's finally here! Only listened to it once, so far. Seems good enough. I really think that throughout most of their career, Electric Wizard have been one of the best bands in existence.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Vinyl odyssey

Two years ago I wrote in my Finnish blog about how Reverend Bizarre's posthumous vinyl splits had made me, despite my initial reluctance, start collecting vinyl in addition to cds. Two years have passed and nowadays I think I buy more vinyl than cds and my collection has expanded quite a bit.

Therefore, in the beginning of June, I decided to spin through my collection, all within this month. 22 days later (and 8 days to go) I'm very nearly finished with the 12-inches I own and still have ten-inches and seven-inches to go.

During this task, I've fondled the sleeves of the albums and gained an even greater respect for this format. The damn cool covers aside, they seem to sound better than cds, whether it's all in my head or not. And at least some albums have benefited from a new mastering for vinyl, such as Katatonia's Dance of December Souls, which was released on vinyl last year by Svart Records. I've also managed to gather a collection of fairly excellent records. I just really love the things, that's all.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Crane Wife

Every now and then I like to listen to music that isn't so heavy. One such album I've listened to a lot lately is The Crane Wife by The Decemberists.

I'm just quickly typing this to say it's a brilliant album. Folk rock in the vein of I have no idea who, since I don't listen to folk rock that much. Full of catchy melodies and the singer's voice has a very nice timbre to it. You should listen to this album if you generally give a damn about my recommendations.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thou shalt listen to Thou

Thou are one of my favorite bands of late and pretty much everything they've done (well, I haven't heard something like one third of their rather extensive catalogue) is pure bliss to my ears. Therefore I'd like to say a few words about a couple of their recordings.

Tyrant (2007)
(LP cover)
(CD cover)

Thou's debut album does a powerful job presenting this Baton Rouge, Louisiana sludge doom powerhouse. Low rumbling rhythm guitars and pounding drums are joined by tormented screams and the occasional searingly beautiful and even eerie lead guitars. All this creates an atmosphere of despair, misery and desolation in the most magnificent way imaginable.

Five tracks deep, the album is fairly short, but there is a cd version that adds two tracks of heavy, gloomy goodness. It might be tricky finding the album in a record store or a distro (I have ordered it five times now, received one copy), but the good thing is, it can be downloaded for free quite legally (at the time of writing this) from, so there's no excuse not to take a listen to this brilliant album.

We Pass Like Night, From Land to Land (2008)

Thou's split with Leech originally came out as a cassette, but my copy is a vinyl reissue by Gilead Media. Here, Thou's dark, gloomy plodding is coupled with an airier, and also faster, track by Leech.

Thou's side is a single piece, "Abandoned", which is subdivided into 4 distinct parts, showcasing Thou's ability to intersperse their dismal sludge with glorious melodies. The final part also ethereally employs piano and additional vocals by Emily McWilliams.

Leech's side is also a single piece, long and untitled, and not a lot information is given about it. It begins with slow, moody, clean instruments before rushing off into a blaze of "true Cascadian grey metal", not entirely unlike such acts as Wolves in the Throne Room and Burzum, until it closes with the return of a slow, clean passage.

This record might also be hard to find nowadays, but a grand total of 2250 copies have been made of all the pressings combined (as far as I know), but if you are interested, I'd start looking by checking out Gilead Media's or Vendetta Records' webstore. At one point, Thou's side was available for download on too, but that isn't the case anymore.

In conclusion, these are both excellent records and, assuming you are a fan of sludge (and black-ish metal), you'd do yourself a favor by getting your hands on them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Burzum - Fallen

Varg Vikernes's music has come a long way from the core of the early nineties Norwegian black metal scene he himself helped to build.

While Fallen is still unmistakably black metal (or, if you are of the persuasion that Burzum has never been black metal, Burzum), it now has a wider variety of shades. Especially Varg's vocal performance has become more varied, signs of which showed already on last year's Belus. Fallen also continues with the concept album theme that was already present on Belus.

In keeping with Burzum tradition, the songs are built on fairly simple, but intricately layered guitars, which slowly roll the songs forward in a hypnotic manner. Again, faster songs, such as "Vanvidd" are in the minority, while "Jeg faller", though principally slow, is filled with double time feels, especially on drums.

Despite the odd aggressive and hostile passage as well as the pervading snarled vocals, the album manages to keep up an air of brooding moodiness. Even the occasional blastbeats manage to sound hypnotic instead of disrupting, though this is nothing new. Fallen is at its best when listened to without rush, in a peaceful state of mind.

Fallen may still be a little too Burzum to convert people who dislike Burzum. It may also drive some of the older fans away. However, I don't think I'm in the minority when I regard this album brilliant. One of the best albums so far this year.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Last year's highlights

So, I thought I'd list some records from last year I picked up and enjoyed.

Alcest: Écailles de Lune
Brilliant post rock tinged with black metal (or vice versa). Contains some melodies I wished would never end. Also saw them live, brilliant!

Burzum: Belus
Already reviewed this one, but I think it deserves a mention. Read the review for more words.

Boris and Ian Astbury of Cult fame. What can I say? Atmospheric and very cool.

Earth: A Bureaucratic Desire for Extra-Capsular Extraction
Some of Earth's earliest recorded work, remastered into something amazing. Good, meaty drone.

Electric Wizard: Black Masses
Some of the best stuff happening in doom right now. Delirious and trashy, brilliant!

Hooded Menace: Never Cross the Dead
I enjoy the dirty, rotten sound of Hooded Menace immensely. As I do their uncanny sense of melody to spice things up.

Kowloon Walled City / Ladder Devils / Fight Amp: Lose / Lose / Lose
Already reviewed this as well. Good, rockin' sludge.

Lisa Cuthbert: Obstacles
Ever since I saw Lisa Cuthbert open for Antimatter (actually, Mick Moss & Duncan Patterson playing Antimatter, Anathema and Ìon) I'd been waiting for this album. Absolutely beautiful stuff.

Sailors With Wax Wings: Sailors With Wax Wings
This had flown completely under my radar until a friend told me to listen to it. Goes well with the BXI ep.

The Abominable Iron Sloth: The Id Will Overcome
After getting acquainted with The Abominable Iron Sloth's debut album, I'd been waiting eagerly for some more material from them. A snappy dose of aggressive sludge this is.

The Sword: Warp Riders
Good riffs all around, it's what stoner metal is all about, really.

Thou: Summit
Depressive and dark sludge with searingly beautiful melodies. My personal album of the year for 2010.

Throes of Dawn: The Great Fleet of Echoes
Beautiful, atmospheric metal. It bugs me, that I've managed to not see them live throughout the year.

Triptykon: Eparistera Daimones
If you liked Celtic Frost's Monotheist, this should be right up your alley. Tom G. Warrior has ditched the unnecessary ballast and is doing the best thing yet in his career.

Tuvalu: Tuvalu
With this, their latest, Tuvalu prove again their ability to write excellent music with aspects of everything that's good about progressive rock.

Ufomammut: Eve
Approaching psychedelic doom from a completely different angle than Electric Wizard, Ufomammut sound very much like their name, which is pretty awesome.