Christmas has been celebrated as a holy day for more than 1650 years. ANTIChristmas has been celebrated by Misantrof Records for seven years, and plans are now afoot for an eighth commemoration. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, or at least eight of them.
Don’t get me wrong — although Christmas holds no spiritual significance to me, there are many things about the holiday season that bring back fond memories. There are more things that make me want to puke — such as the advancement of Christmas music and advertising so that they now begin before Thanksgiving (at least here in the U.S.).
On the other hand, ANTIChristmas must begin now, because planning is necessary, even though there is no money to be made on this venture.
This is the third of three brief reviews I’ve written today for new or forthcoming short releases. In this one the subject is The Horrors of Old — the debut EP released on October 1 by Scáth Na Déithe, a two-man band from Ireland (Cathal Hughes and Stephen Todd).
The EP consists of two long tracks (in the 10-11 minute range) and two short ones (in the range of 1-2 minutes). It does what all debut demos and EPs ideally should do: It displays in a relatively short span of time the capabilities and ideas of the band in a way that’s impressive, consistent, and coherent. And in this case, the EP does that in a way that furnishes a wholly immersive listening experience.
Masaki Murashita made a name for himself in short order as the lead guitarist and front man of Arizona’s Hemoptysis, whose 2011 album Misanthropic Slaughter turned a lot of heads (including mine). With that band having come to an end, Murashita has now embarked on a solo career under his own name, beginning with a debut EP entitled Inescapable Damnation that’s scheduled for release on October 16. Today we’re bringing you the EP’s title track, which features a bass performance by Megadeth’s Dave Ellefson.
Ellefson isn’t the only notable guest on this EP. It also includes performances by Kevin Talley (Suffocation, Six Feet Under, Chimaira), Kelly Conlon (Death, Monstrosity), and Rodney McGlothlin (Voice of Dissent), and it was mixed by Ryan Greene (Megadeth, NOFX). And on top of that — as you can see — it’s adorned by a really eye-catching piece of cover art by Remy Cooper of Headsplit Designs.
But while all of these other talents are certainly worth mentioning, Murashita is most definitely the star of this show.
This is the second of three brief reviews I’ve written for posting today, giving attention to three new or forthcoming short releases that I’ve really been enjoying. This one covers an EP entitled Beautiful and Damned by a Danish band named Slægt, which will be released next month by NecroShrine Records and Iron Bonehead Productions.
I’ve had the advance copy of this EP sitting in my queue of things to listen to for a while, but when I happened to see that BOTH Metal Sucks AND Stereogum’s “The Black Market” column had praised it, I thought I ought to pay attention to it. Because seriously, how often does that confluence of opinion happen?
Beautiful and Damned is Slægt’s first release since their debut black metal album Ildsvanger, which appeared early this year — though the music is apparently quite different from that album (which I haven’t heard), as is the fleshed-out line-up. Though remnants of black metal still adorn this new music, the band have incorporated a fascinating blend of other styles that makes this EP unusual, and unusually good.
(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Germany’s Infesting Swarm.)
Some band names… they… just don’t really reflect their musical content. There you go. I said it.
As much as I love Rotting Christ, for example, it still occasionally strikes me as odd to hear that name in conjunction with the martial grandeur of their recent (and, I would argue, best) material. Similarly the name Septic Flesh doesn’t exactly line-up with the gothy symphonic pomp and circumstance that the band deal in exclusively these days (and, I would argue, wasn’t even a great fit for their early years).
Germany’s Infesting Swarm are another band whose name sits ever-so-slightly awkwardly with the sound of their music, with a moniker more suggestive of the blood-and-bile splattered aesthetic of a Brutal Death Metal band (or, at a push, a skittery Tech-Death band) than the gloom-shrouded Post Black Metal that they actually deal in.
Still, a wise man once wrote that “a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet”… so the real question, maybe the only important question, is – how good is the music?
This is the first of three brief reviews I’ve written for posting today, covering three new or forthcoming short releases that I’ve really been enjoying. The subject of this one is an EP entitled Embers’ Grave by Ruinebell from Finland and Spain (released this month by Doomentia).
Ruinebell caught my eye this past summer when they released the first single from this second of their two EPs to date. The band is a collaboration between Lasse Pyykkö (guitars) and Pekka Koskelo (drums) from Finland’s Hooded Menace, and vocalist Dopi from Spain (ex-Machetazo, ex-Dishammer, now playing in Bodybag). And if those names don’t get you interested in Ruinebell, there may be no hope for you.
I bet I know what you’re thinking: I bet you’re thinking about the cover art up there, the one for Maelstrom, which is the second album by New Hampshire’s Cold Northern Vengeance that Moribund Records will be releasing right before Halloween. Start thinking about this instead: a song from the album named “Pierced By the Tree” that you can stream at the end of this post.
The song is in some ways familiar and in other ways surprising. It builds like a strengthening storm, introduced by the crash of water, by the wail of the wind, by the swell of dark noise and the crush of pounding bass chords. Cold, raking melodic riffs descend in cascades, pierced like lightening by a high lead guitar melody. A baritone voice begins to intone the lyrics in a solemn manner while the guitar slashes around it and the bass thunders overhead. A somber melody swirls through the song, taking hold of your mind as it courses through the music.
(Comrade Aleks interviews Gabriele Fiori of the Italian band Black Rainbows.)
I like bands with ambitions. I like bands who know what they really want and do not sit on their asses waiting for big fat labels to lend them a helping hand. So this somewhat strange and stoned interview is a form of respect to the Italian psychedelic stoner band Black Rainbows (Rome, Lazio).
The band’s founder Gabriele Fiori (vocals, guitars, keyboards) started his musical career in the good yet pretty slow band Void Generator. The decision to leave Void Generator helped Gabriele to start his new full-time band Black Rainbows and his label Heavy Psych Sounds, and now the band has four full-length albums in its discography alongside four smaller releases. I was lucky enough to catch Gabriele between Black Rainbows tours, and here’s a verbatim report of our talking.
With a career that stretches back to 1988 and a panoply of stellar releases over that span of time, Varathron have cemented their place in the pantheon of Greek black metal, despite the fact that vocalist Stefan Necroabyssious has been the only constant in the band’s line-up. And yet, perhaps against the odds, the band have only continued to grow in creativity and power as the years have passed. Their last album, 2014’s Untrodden Corridors of Hades, was a landmark achievement, and while some might expect that their new “EP” The Confessional of the Black Penitents is simply a placeholder in between full-length releases, it is in fact yet another remarkable sign that Varathron are scaling new heights rather than resting on their laurels.
I put the acronym EP in quotes because this release includes roughly 40 minutes of music. It is probably being labeled as such because only three of its seven tracks are new songs, with the others consisting of live performances of songs from previous albums. But don’t think that those live tracks are some kind of filler — they are amazing to hear; they would be worth having even if The Confessional… included no new songs at all. And they make this “EP” a great jumping-off point for new fans who are just discovering the band, providing a musical retrospective on where the band have been as well as an electrifying statement of where they are today.
It’s Sunday, and that means it’s time for another glance into the past of metal. This week we’ve got songs from two bands, rather than one, but they’re pretty closely related — in addition to being tremendously influential in the development of both black metal and death metal.
The Swiss band Hellhammer was active from 1981 –1984. According to Metal Archives, they released three demos in 1983 leading up to the 1984 EP Apocalyptic Raids, which was later reissued in 1990 under the title Apocalyptic Raids 1990 A.D., along with two bonus tracks that had originally appeared on 1984’s Death Metal split, including “Messiah”.