Every time I write one of these MISCELLANY posts, I swear to myself that I’m going to do it more regularly. But the promises you make to yourself are the easiest ones to break. My last one of these posts was on July 30, long enough ago that a refresher about the self-imposed rules of this game might be worthwhile:
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 so you can judge for yourselves. The bands I picked for this edition of the game, all from the U.S., are Black Snake (Oregon), Prosanctus Inferi (Ohio), and Seker (Washington).
I found out about this band because they wrote us. I’m ashamed to admit that I can’t listen to every band who writes us, and I can’t really explain why I made time for this one, but I did.
Last week they self-released a four-song collection on Bandcamp named Black Snake EP – Vol. 2. I picked the first song, “Red Eyes” for this MISCELLANY experiment, and wound up listening to the other three. The rules you set for yourself are the easiest ones to break, too.
I liked what I heard, right from the beginning. Black Snake cook up a stew of caterwauling riffs, beefy bass rhythms, and rumbling drums, thicken it with a quart of fuzz, and spice it up with squalling guitar solos that veer from the bluesy to the psychedelic. Guitarist Shawn Baravetto’s vocals have a nice, raw, drunk-as-fuck tone, and the songs got my head moving hard — the kind of swampy stoner metal that made me feel kinda drunk just listening to it. A nice start to this listening session.
From Black Snake I moved on to this two-man band from Columbus, Ohio, whose second album was released in late August by Nuclear War Now!. The album’s name is a mouthful — Noctambulous Jaws Within Sempiternal Night — and its cover is adorned by Paolo Girardi’s inimitable artwork, which was one of the big reasons why I decided to check out the music (the other being a recommendation from my friend Vonlughlio).
The album is available on Bandcamp (as well as at NWN!) and I ventured there to hear the lead-off track, “Gestation Within the Lunar Miasic Envelope”. Listening to it, I thought a sinkhole had opened beneath me and I’d been sucked into a bubbling tar pool. But the tarry, doom-laden introduction gave way to a writhing fury of mangled riffs, bone-shaking percussion, and rough animal howls.
The viciousness of the blackened death assault continued as I let the player pull me into the second track, “Maternal Tongue of Sempiternal Evil”. But like the first song, this one was also undergirded with a head-wrecking groove and lit up by flurries of technically impressive guitar and drum work, as well as a couple of brief but insane solos. I continued listening to a few more songs (see above re self-imposed rules being easy to break), and I continued to be carried away by the head-whipping whirlwind of supercharged drum and guitar performances and the air of melodic malice. Very fuckin’ impressive.
My last stop on this MISCELLANY tour came via a tip from my NCS comrade TheMadIsraeli, though he said nothing about what the music would be like, merely the words “From Tacoma”. These are not bad words, despite the air-in-the-nose attitude toward the town displayed by many of my fellow Seattle-ites, but they’re not terribly descriptive either. So I had some surprises in store.
I did learn from their Facebook page that they “enjoy quality beer, meat, and various cheeses”, and I felt a sudden kinship. I also learned that they have a new album on Bandcamp for the price of whatever-you-want, and that the album appears to have been many years in the making and follows both a dissolution of the band and its revival. The name is Transcendence, and it sports very nice cover art by Sam Haglund.
I’m just going to get the confession of cheating out of the way up-front: I listened to the first six tracks on the album before forcing myself to stop in order to write this post. What I heard, and what you can hear below, is a flash flood of hyper-technical death metal that you can locate somewhere near the intersection of Obscura Avenue and Gorod Parkway, alongside the Spawn of Possession freeway. The songs are anchored by punishing rhythms, but the vessel on the surface is whipped every which way by gale-force fret-burning and white-capped drum fusillades. Somewhere in the storm a guttural-voiced beast vomits out his wrath.
Seriously, this shit is both tremendously jolting and ridiculously off-the-chain. Yet despite the truly jaw-dropping instrumental performances, which are unleashed at top speed, the songs are cohesive and compelling. Transcendence really deserves a big audience, and I hope it finds one.
(By the way, that sixth track I heard, which is the title song, begins with a marvelous change of pace . . . before it explodes in your face like a napalm cannister.)