MISCELLANY NO. 62: EASTERN SPELL, HYBRID REALITY, HOLLOW BRANCHES, THE DOWN TRODDENCE, THOSE DARN GNOMES
We get messages every day from bands who ask us to check out their music. I wish I had the time to listen to everything that comes in, but I don’t. I don’t even have time to write about everything I hear that I like. But I thought for this MISCELLANY post I would write about the music of the last five bands who wrote us over the weekend. Obviously, there’s not much rhyme or reason to the selection, and as you’ll see, the bands don’t have much in common with each other.
But that’s the way MISCELLANY works: I pick underground bands whose music I’ve never heard, I listen to one or two recent songs, I write up my impressions, and I stream the tracks so you can make up your own minds. Here we go:
Eastern Spell are a group of hairy, doomy dudes from Portland, Maine. Earlier this year they released a single via Bandcamp entitled Entraced, and about two weeks ago they also released a video for the song. Eastern Spell bring the misery with seismic resonance. It’s slow, pulverizing music, with burly riffs, agonized, gravel-throated vocals, and a drummer who sounds like he’s trying to drive his kit straight into the ground. Deep into the 11-minute song, the band briefly rumble into more animated life, and there’s a surprising (and beautiful) acoustic finish to the song, but in the main this is suffocating sludge/doom — done very well.
Both the video (which is worth watching) and the Bandcamp stream are below. Eastern Spell proved to be a fine way to start to this MISCELLANY excursion.
Hybrid Reality are from the town of Mohács in Hungary. Over the weekend they self-released a new, free EP on Bandcamp by the name of Nexus of Eden. It includes five songs, and I listened to the first two — “Wings of Grace” and “Purgathory”. “Wings of Grace” sets the melodic hook early and then proceeds to hammer away hard, with the beatdown leavened with interludes of echoing guitar work. “Purgathory” spins a similar contrast, juxtaposing shimmering guitar arpeggios against jackhammer rhythms and earthshaking bass drops, with effective keyboard flourishes.
The basic metalcore style is quite familiar (with straight hardcore howls instead of clean singing on these tracks, thank you very much), but I enjoyed what I heard.
Hollow Branches is the musical project of Robert Osgood from Portland, Oregon, and Marius Sjøli from Oslo, Norway. They self-released two EPs in 2009 and a single in 2012 and they’ve now completed recording of four songs for a new EP entitled The Hum. They plan to release each of the songs one at a time between now and the end of the year. The first one, “Silence So Clear”, is now up on Bandcamp (along with the rest of their releases). I decided to listen to it mainly because Robert Osgood wrote an interesting guest post for us about a year ago (“On Downloads, Compression Rates, and Album Artwork”).
The song turns out to be off on a tangent from our usual course, with a drifting, dreamlike melody and subdued, clean vocals. The layering of acoustic and electric guitar and what almost sounds like a mellotron (though it could be a guitar effect) give the song an entrancing ambience. Not metal, but worth a listen.
THE DOWN TRODDENCE
Next we come to this six-piece group from Bangalore, India, who call themselves The Down Troddence. They’ve just released for streaming a new single called “Nagavalli”, which will appear on their upcoming debut album How Are You? We Are Fine. Thank You!. According to the band, “The song articulates a suppressed woman’s rage and how she assumes her universal form symbolified by the famous character, ‘Naagavalli’ in the movie Manichithrathazhu. The artwork depicts Naagavalli in her true form, collecting eyes of male chauvinists who deserve to be punished.”
Speaking of the artwork, it’s quite good, don’t you think? And so is the song. It’s like Gojira visited the sub-continent and came back with ethnic melodies in their head. But the song includes much more than the kind of booming groove riffs that put Gojira in my head, including a lot of blazing, darting fretwork and eerie, flowing guitar melodies that sway like a charmed cobra. And the subject matter of the song just makes it all the sweeter in my book. Good stuff!
THOSE DARN GNOMES
Those Darn Gnomes are from San Diego, CA. They sent us a link to a song named “Blacklip” that will appear on their debut album The Invariant, which will be released on some future day by Dipsomaniac Records. They also advised that “you can go bald from having an iron deficiency”.
“Blacklip” is hands down the strangest song investigated on this MISCELLANY excursion. Over the course of its 10+ minute length, it delivers cosmic ambience; experimental tech-death with a jazz-fusion core; alien-sounding funk; foul, gargling vocals and soulful clean ones. It’s also unusual in that the principal instruments are the bass and drums, with the bass tone moving from warm to distorted (though I suppose I could be hearing a really low-tuned guitar in places where I thought the sound was coming from a bass).
I don’t know what genre label to summon up for this eccentric music, but I listened to it three times in a row, which I guess says something about how oddly captivating I found it. Given how unpredictably varied this MISCELLANY session turned out to be, it was almost made to order as a way to finish the trip. Here’s “Blacklip”:
Thanks for the mention, I just want to point out really quick there is in fact guitar in Blacklip (and tuned in standard, no less). Glad you liked it, or at least I think you liked it.
Oh, I liked it a lot! I may have become addicted to it, even though I obviously don’t know what I’m hearing. 🙂
Well, if you’re interested in premiering the second track that can be arranged… 😉 hahaha
Check your email. 🙂
You know I loves me some ethnic-infused metal, and The Down Troddence deliver!
They do indeed. It’s always refreshing to hear a band who aren’t just trying to mimic a sound you could hear anywhere else in the world, and who actually incorporate (effectively) a sound that’s distinctively indigenous to where they’re from.
Yes, you’ve captured it precisely. Another one that stands out in recent memory is Nothnegal’s track sung in their native language – I don’t even know what it is, but man does that song sound cool.
Wikipedia says this about the language spoken in The Republic of the Maldives where they’re from: “The official and common language is Dhivehi, an Indo-European language having some similarities with Elu, the ancient Sinhalese language.”
They just released their debut album – http://www.oklisten.com/album/how_are_you_we_are_fine_thank_you
The Down Troddence and Those Darn Gnomes both sound pretty awesome!
I’m contemplating writing an app that just automatically buys me all the doom metal recommended by Islander. You know, just to save me clicking all those buttons on bandcamp.
Thanks for all the recommendations!
Aw shucks, I’m blushing. Thank you!
Down Troddence is sweet! And I gotta love a local SD band.
As you may know it’s pretty impossible to book a metal band anywhere in San Diego besides Soma, but we may be doing a house show next month. If it all works out you should come! If you like our Facebook page we’ll eventually be posting the details once it’s all set up.
Ya. The only promoter I know is Joe Troutman, and he seems to get a pretty bad name for some reason.
The down troddence is kickass live. They come from,the same state that i am in and I’ve had the chance to witness them live a couple of times.. This album is going to rule.
It’s going to be finish of mine day, except before end I am reading this fantastic piece of writing to improve my knowledge.