May 102010

We were hopping around the interwebz last night looking for metal news. We saw a blurb about a Virginia band called The Osedax that had just put up three new songs for streaming. Didn’t know anything about them. But sometimes we check out unfamiliar, unsigned bands for completely random reasons, like cool album cover art or an unusual name.

As a way of picking new music, it’s like throwing a dart at a dartboard or putting a quarter in a slot machine and pulling the handle. It makes no logical sense, except there’s so much new music from so many new bands out in the world that randomization sometimes seems as good a way as any to make choices.

So, in the case of The Osedax, it was the name that made us take the next step. There are lots of extreme metal bands with weird names. Some of them turn out to be completely made up, and The Osedax certainly had the ring of a made-up name. But it was weirdly interesting enough that we decided to find out more about the band, if for no other reason than to investigate where the name came from. And it turns out that Osedax is the name of an actual life form that’s a real mind-bender.

We’ll come back to that eventually, but to continue with the current story: A bit of web surfing took us to a page where we saw some artwork for the band, presumably created for their forthcoming EP (the band’s first release). And that turned out to be cool — and it became even more cool after we discovered the connection between the art and the source of the band name.

So, we had a new chance to test out our completely illogical theory that in the world of extreme metal, cool album art correlates more than you’d think with cool music. (We explored other test cases here and here.)

And whaddaya know? More confirmation for our theory — because we’re really digging the music of The Osedax. So, with apologies for this tedious wind-up, continue reading after the jump to see the pitch — more about the music, more album art, more info about what an Osedax really is, and a widget that will allow you to hear those three new songs.

Let’s get to the music first (and you’re saying to yourself, “It’s about fucking time!”). It’s slow, but heavy as fuck. It’s thick as a pool of black sludge, but mesmerizing in its murkiness. It’s fuzzed-out to the max, but threaded with dark, soaring melodies. It stuck to us, kinda like tar, except we’re not interested in trying to wash it off.

This kind of sludgy, doom-y metal isn’t something we usually get into. We tend to lean more toward the cathartic, runaway-train-on-fire kind of shit. But this music has hooked us. The instrumental work is excellent, and the song compositions are completely engrossing in their dark variety. We’re particularly taken in by the prolonged howling melodies in “White Noise Transmission.”

Actually, we’re pretty fucking impressed with all three of the band’s new songs, but If you’ve only got time to check out one of them, we’d recommend “Primary Signal.” It starts out slow with a pounding tribal rhythm, joined by a grinding but catchy riff. The tempo picks up, and about half-way through segues into a melodic instrumental with a very cool bass riff — and then the shrieking starts again, eventually to be followed by more down-tempo doom as the song winds to its desolate close.

So, start up one of the songs on the widget below, and then continue reading below the widget to find out where that fucking name came from and see photos — and then you can amaze your friends with your erudition.

By the way, here’s a link to the band’s MySpace page. The seven-song EP appears to be completed. When we find out the best way to snag a legit copy, we’ll update this post and let you know.

Osedax, in addition to being the name of this metal band, is the name of a genus of ocean-dwelling worms discovered in 2002. The Osedax live in “whale falls” — the decaying carcasses of dead whales on the ocean floor. When first discovered, they were carpeting the skeletal remains of a gray whale found at a depth of 3,000 meters. The worms have bright red plumes that act like gills, but the “business end” of the worm consists of green root-like structures that penetrate down into the skeletal bone and branch out into the marrow, sucking in the nutrients.

And if that’s not weird enough, check this out. When the scientists who discovered the worms examined a sample of them under a microscope, they discovered that all were female. (Don’t ask me how you sex a fucking worm — I’m just reporting what I read.) Where were the fucking males?

Turns out the males were there — microscopically small dwarfs that lived within the tubes that enclosed the females. Check out this shit:

[L]iving within the tube that enclosed each female were 30 to 100 microscopic male worms, each only about a millimeter long. Not only that, but the male worms were still in a larval stage of development. They were making sperm in one part of their bodies, while other parts of the bodies still contained the yolk droplets. As [biologist Robert] Vrijenhoek put it, “These males don’t feed. A male lives its entire life off the yolk that was provisioned by the egg from which it hatched. This is one of the few cases in the animal world where sexually reproducing individuals are barely more developed than eggs. It’s weird.”

Asked why these worms might have evolved such an unusual method of reproduction, Vrijenhoek suggests, “These worms appear to be the ecological equivalent of dandelions—a weedy species that grows rapidly, makes lots of eggs, and disperses far and wide.” This strategy makes sense when you consider that after a whale skeleton has been consumed, all the worms at that site will die off. Before this happens, they must release enough eggs or larvae so that some tiny proportion will be transported by the ocean currents until they can find and colonize another whale carcass.

More proof that life in this world is vastly more mind-fuckingly strange than the imaginations of human beings could conceive in their most demented dreams. For the whole story, and more fascinating details, go to this location.

Here are some Osedax photos (not the band):

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