Okie dokie, time for another round-up of new and noteworthy music that I came across in my most recent stumbling around the interhole and my in-box. On almost a daily basis I’m left dumbfounded by the diversity, the creativity, and the skill of the musicians in our beloved genre of music. Today’s playlist is just one more example.
Oh, if you don’t know about Goatcraft, you are in for a treat. Goatcraft is a one-man band from San Antonio, the man being Lonegoat. I did not know about Goatcraft until December of last year, when I included the third track from Goatcraft’s forthcoming second album — The Blasphemer — in this post. The album will be released this year by I, Voidhanger Records.
According to a previously reported announcement, “The album is divided in four sections, each one with a central theme based on William Blake’s art and theological interpretations.” It includes, for example, a four-part piece named “The Great Red Dragon”. Just days ago, I, Voidhanger delivered a second track for streaming that draws on another of Blake’s works as its inspiration — “Satan In His Original Glory”.
Lonegoat said this about the song in an interview with Zero Tolerance magazine:
“One must look at ‘Satan In His Original Glory’ and see what Blake wanted to communicate. Blake was against the restrictive nature of Christianity, so he presented nature on par with spiritual energies. In the painting, you will see that the angels of Satan are below him holding musical instruments to create art, as well as books to obtain knowledge. Blake ultimately wanted people to educate themselves so that they would be liberated from religious ignorance.”
One instrument is dominant in the music — the piano. Subtle synthesizer enhancements have been added, but you will hear nothing else. And what you will hear, despite any preconceptions you might have, is undeniably metal. (And by the way, stick around until the end of this post to read some additional fascinating observations by Lonegoat in that interview about the spirit of heavy metal).
I came upon a French band named Deathcode Society in November 2012 thanks to a recommendation by our reader FistForFun. What I listened to (and wrote about) then was an EP named Ite Missa Est. At that time, the band were advertising for two violinists and three cellists to help in the recording of their debut album, quoting this from heroic Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton in their solicitation on Facebook, which made me like them immediately:
“Men (or women) wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”
The album is not yet upon us, but we do now have a new song up on YouTube, “Pandaemonium 1.1”. It is a blazing explosion of symphonic exuberance, fleet as foxes with their tails on fire, but thundering like a mustang herd. The vocalist(s) shrieks like a blackened banshee and soars like an angel (a fallen one); the drummer is obviously functioning on some kind of illegal accelerant; the symphonic performers (whether human or keyboard-simulated) are refugees from The Phantom of the Opera; and whoever is inflicting the riffs and the bass line know how to straddle the line between the merciless and the exultant.
Only one thing sucks: The YouTube clip is just an excerpt! An excerpt of a “draft mix”! This is NOT FAIR. I demand the ENTIRE DRAFT!
You really, really, really need to avoid jumping to conclusions based on this band’s name and just listen to what they do. They are from Sacramento. They released a debut EP last year which you can find at Bandcamp. Yesterday they released a single (also on Bandcamp) entitled “Salieri”. It costs 99 cents. At the moment I really can’t think of a better way to spend a buck.
It’s a wild, wild romp of high-speed technical death metal by a group of musicians who clearly have the instrumental chops to pop eyes and drop jaws — and they do — but who convey a sense of fun and manage to make something memorable out of all those flying digits and appendages. Unique Leader, wherefore art thou?
Okay, let’s wrap up this round-up by taking a 180-degree turn from that last song — and just run the car straight into a big concrete pylon.
I heard this next song on CVLT Nation yesterday, and by the time it finished I felt like a puddle of goo. The band is Grey Widow (from the UK) and the song is “VIII” — the 8th track on their debut album, which is on Bandcamp. I’m too afraid to listen to the whole album in one sitting, but I will return to it (after I’ve acquired a replacement skeletal structure).
If you want a genre reference, I’ll give you… catastrophic sludge/doom. It’s slow and titanic, like a giant steel-plated maggot writhing on its slimy path across a field of decaying corpses while demented riders cling to its back and scream their guts out in utter hopeless agony. It’s brilliantly caustic, corrosive, and crushing — and if that weren’t enough, Grey Widow feed a dire melody through their destructiveness that sticks. Man, this is good.
The music is ended, but I wanted to share this further Q&A from the Zero Tolerance interview of Lonegoat, which I think is both perceptive and provocative. Comments are welcome of course:
ZT: Define Metal. What in your opinion are the essential elements – instrumentally, emotionally and philosophically – that comprise the heart and essence of Metal?
LG: Heavy metal is a spirit that leads to a series of techniques. You know how the Impressionists in visual art wanted to make their art appear dreamlike, to reflect the increasing focus on human emotional experience? Thus their technique used wavy brushtrokes, vivid colors and surreal scenes. Metal is the same way. Its goal is to reveal the hidden reality under everyday life that we both fear and deny.
We have a socially-agreed upon “truth”, but it basically serves to distance us from reality. Then there’s reality itself, which is rarely experienced. Heavy metal brings us closer to that reality. To do that, it needs to use loud noise that sounds demonic, like predation, war, death, disease and horror. Then, to show us the value of that experience, it needs to find beauty in that noise.
Thus heavy metal is based upon guitar melodies played in power chords, which sound a lot like the techniques modernist composers like Anton Bruckner and Richard Wagner used. But really, the spirit is important. Any dingbat can string together some power chords. Metal tends toward the dark and sombre, which means certain intervals and harmonic ranges, use of cadence rather than syncopation for the main beat, and riffs that emphasize violence and aggression with an inner core of melodic beauty.
Metal also inherits from progressive rock a classical-like song structure, which is where the riffs “talk” to one another as a melody develops over the course of a song. In metal, riffs are “glued” together so they tell a story, in such a way that each new riff expands the narrative context of the last. But it has to have that heavy metal spirit, so it’s not an objective line. What is heavy metal is interpreted very subjectively, and yet, is objectively visible. Like all good things in life, metal is mostly mystery.