Happy hangover day, aka Saturday. I myself do not have a hangover, though not for lack of trying to sew the seeds for one last night. I can’t really explain the good fortune, but I’ll take it. Having a relatively clear head this morning, I did a bit of catching up on metal news and song premieres and randomly selected the following items for your entertainment and edification. Most of these items include eye-catching artwork, too.
This first piece of news sure caught me by surprise yesterday. It appears that the organizers of the Maryland Deathfest have decided to franchise their operation. They’ve announced a three-day event named California Deathfest that will take place from October 9-11, 2015, at the Oakland Metro Operahouse in Oakland, California. The show on Friday, October 9, will feature grind, punk, and hardcore bands, and the shows on October 10 and 11 will feature death, black, and doom metal bands.
Unlike MDF, there will only be one stage, in a club setting, though if this first California Deathfest proves to be a success I’m guessing it will grow — and given the stellar line-up for this debut event, it will surely succeed.
I’m really backlogged in listening to new music, and the list of things worth checking out grows on a daily basis. Last night I did manage to sift through part of my collection of enticing links and found this quintet of tracks that I thought were worth throwing your way. Diversity is again the organizing principle.
The UK’s Ethereal, about whom we’ve written frequently in the past, have been signed by Candlelight Records, and the first release for their new label will be an album entitled Opus Aethereum (due in February 2015). The very cool cover art for the album is above and was rendered by Tripple Seis Design.
But the first song in this collection isn’t from the new album. It’s a cover of Darkthrone’s “Fucked Up and Ready To Die” from 2003′s Hate Them. Ethereal recorded it for a Darkthrone tribute album named One Cold Night In Norway, which will be released as a free download through Speed Slaughter Productions on December 13. Ethereal recently uploaded their cover to YouTube, and it’s excellent — dark, ravenous, brooding in its atmospherics, heavy as granite yet ghostly in its void-faring journey — and ultimately a swarming assault on the senses.
I’ve been swarmed by new short releases that I want to write about. I had a list of five that I’ve been listening to this week, from which I wanted to pick one for this Saturday post. And then the new Shroud of Despondency EP de-railed those plans. I only meant to give it a minute or two this morning, just to get a sense of what was going on, and, well, here we are.
For those unfamiliar with the project, it’s the brainchild of musician Rory Heikkila, originally from Upper Michigan and now a resident of Wisconsin. Prior to this new EP, the last studio release was a double-album from earlier this year entitled Tied To A Dying Animal, which featured a mix of metal and acoustic songs. This new EP does, too.
The EP also marks the beginning of the end of the project. It’s a way-station on the road to the band’s final album, the recording of which is nearing completion, before Heikkila turns his attention elsewhere (to folk music, it appears).
(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Ireland’s Primordial, with a new video from the band at the end.)
If the world were a fairer place, then I have no doubt that Primordial would be one of the biggest metal acts in the world by now. If the world rewarded raw passion and creativity the way it should, they’d be playing arenas and selling albums by the bucket-load, bringing their majestic brand of misery and majesty to all corners of the globe.
But the world isn’t fair. It seems most metalheads prefer to regress towards the lowest-common-denominator wherever possible, and that most popular music fans prefer things served up to them in lightweight, easily digestible chunks.
And that’s just the way things are. Sex sells, and so does simplicity. But it’s not really adding anything real, or particularly meaningful, to the world, is it? It’s been said many times that “pop will eat itself”. Well pop has eaten itself so many times now that all we’re left with is an endless cycle of eat-defecate-eat-regurgitate that’s sapped whatever little value from the music that it originally had.
We continue to consume, unaware that we’re starving ourselves to death.
It’s why I’m thankful for bands like Primordial. Bands who write and perform not for fame and fortune, and not to please some imagined audience, but for themselves, for the message, for the sheer cathartic joy of creation.
(In this 52nd edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn reviews the album-length discography to date of Colorado’s The Flight of Sleipnir, whose forthcoming fifth album will be reviewed in a subsequent post.)
Recommended for fans of: Agalloch, Moonsorrow, The Gates of Slumber
Forgive me oh readers, for I have not Synned…
That’s right. The entire month of October went by without a single edition of The Synn Report to please your eyes and ears with a taste of new and/or under-appreciated music. And for that I must apologise. Between work, travel, and some crazy nights out… I just haven’t had chance to sit down and set metaphorical pen to paper. Until now.
The Flight of Sleipnir is the brainchild of two individuals, David Csiscely (Drums, Vocals, Guitars) and Clayton Cushman (Guitars, Vocals, Bass, Keyboards), two men joined together by a clear and passionate love of heavy metal, heartfelt melody, and heroic Norse folklore.
With four albums to their name – and a fifth, V., soon to be released (expect the review for that by the end of the week – the pair have certainly managed to craft themselves a distinctive sound over the years, whose earth-shaking, doomy power and sombre, progressive inclinations incorporate binding threads of folk-inflected melody and slithering strands of blackened fury.
Whole segments of their material aren’t strictly metallic at all, comprising lengthy acoustic passages and folkish murmurations, where smooth chords ripple and plucked strings sing out clear notes of melody and harmony. Yet when these guys do go heavy they do so with some serious conviction, their brawny riffage and booming drums providing the backing for a characterful mix of ravaged, throaty roars and stirring, cleanly-sung harmonies.
The House of Capricorn from Auckland, New Zealand, describe their music as “apocalyptic devil rock”. To date, they’ve released two albums — Sign of the Cloven Hoof (2010) and In the Devil’s Days (2011) — and on November 7 Svart Records will be releasing their third, Morning Star Rise. As a sign of what’s coming, we bring you the premiere of “Ivory Crown”.
A site with a name like ours might not seem the most obvious match for The House of Capricorn, whose vocals are usually not the growly or shrieking sort, but I’ve been thoroughly captivated by this album, and “Ivory Crown” is one of my favorites in a collection that’s very strong from start to finish. Ironically, the clean vocals have much to do with the music’s appeal.
Relatively speaking “Ivory Crown” is one of the more subdued tracks on the album — if you’re looking for tracks that drive harder on the mayhem end of the spectrum, then I’d recommend “The Road To Hell Is Marked” or “Our Shrouded King”. But “Ivory Crown” is built around such killer melodic hooks that it’s powerfully addictive.
Here’s the second part of a round-up of new things that I began earlier today, collecting some of the news and music I discovered over the last 24 hours that I thought would be worth your time, because they were worth mine.
Where Greater Men Have Fallen is the name of the new Primordial album, due for release by Metal Blade on November 25. The title track premiered previously, and a couple of days ago Stereogum premiered another song, “Come the Flood”. It’s powerfully heart-wrenching and melancholy in its atmosphere, driven at first by heavy, thumping drumbeats and a flowing curtain wall of guitars, and later by percussion that sounds like gunshots and a vital lead guitar melody. But at the center of the song is its most arresting feature — Nemtheanga’s high, soul-stirring, dramatic voice. Amazing.
Listen here (Primordial’s FB page is at this location):
Yesterday brought a flood of new music and announcements that peaked my interest. I didn’t have time to post about any of them yesterday, so I’ve got a lot to cover this morning. Which is why this round-up is divided into two parts, with the second one coming later on.
Wolfheart’s self-released 2013 debut album Winterborn was fantastic. It was exactly the balm needed to salve the wounds that Tuomas Saukkonen temporarily inflicted on fans when he folded all of his other projects (including Before the Dawn and Black Sun Aeon) to start fresh. Yesterday brought the announcement that Spinefarm Records has now signed Wolfheart and will be re-releasing Winterborn on February 3, 2015, with two additional bonus tracks — “Isolation” and “Into the Wild”. This will be the first physical edition of the album to be made available worldwide.
But even more exciting than that was the news that next year Spinefarm will also be releasing Wolfheart’s second album Shadow World, which the band is now in the process of completing. And here’s one more titillating tidbit of Wolfheart news from the same announcement:
I’m pathetically late in reviewing this split. My shame is magnified by the fact that I first heard the album months ago and knew from the first listen that it was one of the best I’d heard all year. It still is.
Each of these bands — Mexico’s Majestic Downfall and Australia’s The Slow Death — contribute three long songs, collectively totaling more than 67 minutes of doom.
The first of Majestic Downfall’s songs, “The Dark Lullaby”, is full of contrasts and is impressively dynamic, both in its pacing and in its changing moods. It joins together massive guitar tone and huge, brutish bass hammers with light, ringing acoustic guitar harmonies. It incorporates melodies that are both entrancing and drenched in sorrow. It pairs gargantuan roars that come up from some bottomless abyss with harrowing howls that convey sensations of intense anguish. Slow, skull-splitting riffs and gut-punching drums cohabit the song with ripping tremolo- and blastbeat-driven storm fronts. And in the song’s second half, you’re treated to a squalling guitar solo that will seize your attention, followed by a heavy guitar motif that wouldn’t be out of place in a Scandinavian-styled melodic death metal anthem.
I got carried away with a lot of rifftastic death metal malignancy in yesterday’s round-up’s, so I thought I’d move in more varied directions today. The following new and newish songs are among those I found in my trawling through the interhole yesterday, after siphoning off the effluent that would sicken you, plus one find by my comrade in arms Austin Weber. Prepare for brain spasms and spinal trauma.
I enjoyed the hell out of this Philadelphia band’s last release, the 2013 EP SolarBipolar (reviewed here). Just to give you a flavor of my reaction to it (and because if I don’t quote myself, who will?), here’s an excerpt from my review:
This is the kind of music that will give your neck muscles a real workout while dosing you with a narcotic addictiveness that will pull you back for another hit, and another. I know. I have plenty of other things to do, but I’ve been jamming this little three-song smasher over and over again.