Many of you already know how this unfortunately infrequent MISCELLANY game works, but for everyone else, here’s what it’s about: I randomly pick bands whose music I’ve never heard (usually bands whose names I’ve never heard either), I listen to one recent track from each of them (though sometimes I cheat and listen to more than one), I write my impressions, and I stream the music for you so you can judge for yourselves.
Every other musical feature on this site, other than this one, involves metal that I or the other writers have heard in advance and want to recommend. MISCELLANY, on the other hand, is a shot in the dark. I don’t know what these selections will sound like. We’ll both find out together. Today’s bands are a trio from the U.S. —House of Atreus, Zud, and Sloths — plus one from The Netherlands (Control Human Delete). They all turned out to be winners.
HOUSE OF ATREUS
I learned about this Minneapolis band via an e-mail from ex-TNOTB writer Tr00 Nate. That makes this selection less random than usual, since I’ve learned through experience to trust his recommendations. And this one turns out to be no exception.
The music I heard consists of a two-song EP released in June by the name of Into the Brazen Bull. It’s streaming on Bandcamp (you’ll find the link below), though unfortunately it’s not available for download. Both songs are really good (Tr00Nate termed the music “Arghoslent without the racism”). They transition from thrashing death metal into passages of somber melody and back again. The rollicking riffs are ridiculously catchy and the melodic sections include striking guitar leads and solos.
There’s an old-school, garage-band quality to the production, with much less of a heavy low-end than I’ve gotten used to in death metal releases, but it grew on me as I listened to the songs a few times, as did the throaty, strangled vocals.
The band also have a 2011 demo on their Bandcamp page, the link to which you can find below. The demo was released on cassette from Antitheist Disseminations (now sold out), but I haven’t yet seen how to get the new release. If I find out, I’ll update this post.
After listening to House of Atreus I moved on to a band from Thompson’s Point in Portland, Maine, named Zud. It turned out to be a very nice follow-up. They’ve recorded a debut full-length, The Good, The Bad And The Damned, and have made one song from the album available for listening on Soundcloud — so that’s what I heard.
“Blood and Twilight” is as different from modern metal trends as the House of Atreus tracks. The song is a jet-fueled charge of something like first-wave black metal combined with filthy rock ‘n’ roll. The drumming is off the hook, the riffs are more fun than a barrel of monkeys on meth, and the clean guitar solo is a banshee screamer. The vocals are also evil, vicious, and intelligible. Refreshingly different metal that I’m really enjoying.
The album (packaged as a hand-numbered gatefold digipak) can be ordered directly from the band HERE, and the song can be heard below.
Sloths are from Portland, Oregon, and they contacted us about giving their new EP Knives a listen. I decided to do that, because I like sloths, and the symmetry of picking a band from the Left Coast version of Portland right after Zud appealed to me. (I did say at the beginning that this MISCELLANY game is a very randomized form of entertainment.)
Knives is a three-song release, and I picked the opening track as a sample of what Sloths are up to. “Medication” proved to be a genre-jumping affair, a conglomeration of skronky noise rock, vein-bursting hardcore-styled vox, and relatively clean guitar melodies that shimmer and chime (along with thick sludgy riffs that bludgeon like hammers). The excellent bass and drum performances really enhance the interest of the music — though it’s pretty fuckin’ lit up with guitar and vocal exuberance already.
So I cheated and listened to the other two songs, and they’re both just as good as “Medication”. Sloths definitely have a knack for stitching together many different sounds and styles without making the music sound like a patchwork (though it’s certainly chaotic enough to keep listeners off-balance). Really good, dynamic music performed by some dudes who’ve got excellent instrumental chops.
Knives is available as a pay-what-you-want download on Bandcamp, and it’s out on vinyl as well (you can find links for vinyl distributors on the Bandcamp page).
CONTROL HUMAN DELETE
The next and final band for this episode of MISCELLANY was a last-minute addition and was again a bit of a cheat on the usual rules. It came my way via a recommendation from another ex-TNOTB writer, Prof. D. Grover XIIIth, and therefore I felt pretty sure I would at least find it interesting. And that proved to be an understatement.
Control Human Delete are a Dutch band who released their second album in May: The Prime Mover. The Professor linked me to a lyric video for a song named “Shapeshifting”, and my reaction was much like his own: I haven’t heard anything quite like this before.
It’s a fascinating integration of industrial/techno pneumatics, jabbing metal riffs and programmed double-bass, tremolo guitar melodies, and tyrannical, gravel-throated proclamations and wild yells. The music moves in phases through varying speeds, including a strange mid-section filled with slow, rumbling bass notes and alien electro-noises as well as surges of imminently head-bangable thunder.
It’s such an unusual spin on the idea of blackened industrial metal that I’m still trying to process what I’ve heard, but it’s definitely very alluring. Check it out below.