I know I’m displaying masochistic tendencies by looking at how long it’s been since I posted an installment of the MISCELLANY series, but the answer is approximately two months, which is pathetic even by my own hard-to-beat standards of patheticness. Pathiticity? Pathneticism?
Anyway, because it has been so long, here’s a refresher on the rules of this game: I randomly pick unheralded bands whose music I’ve never heard; I listen to one or two songs; I write my immediate impressions; I stream what I heard so you can make up your own minds. I don’t know what the music will sound like going in, or whether I’ll like it. Here we go:
ALTARS OF GRIEF
I guess it’s obvious why I picked this band’s new release to sample: Sam Nelson cover art. I follow his work very closely and yet I don’t think I had seen this piece before my comrade DGR linked me to it yesterday — it’s stunning. The debut album’s name is This Shameful Burden and it was released by a band named Altars of Grief from Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada.
I listened to the first track, “This Shameful Burden”, and really enjoyed it. The mid-paced music is beautifully sorrowful, with a morose but memorable melody married to jagged, booming riffs and agonizing, lacerated vocal howling. In the song’s back half, the band pair ambient keyboards with a rumbling bass line in a way that sinks home the feeling of sublime despair.
I’ll be coming back to finish this album later. It should appeal most strongly to fans of funeral doom and melodic doom/death.
FAT GUY WEARS MYSTIC WOLF SHIRT AND JXCKXLZ
I guess it’s obvious why I picked this next band, too. I do like the cover art, but seriously, how could you possibly not check out a band named Fat Guy Wears Mystic Wolf Shirt?
Fat Guy (a shortening that I prefer to FGWMWS) are from New South Wales, Australia, and their new release is a split with another Aussie band named… wait for it… Jxckxlz. Now there’s another name that just rolls off the tongue, don’t you agree?
It was easy to pick a Fat Guy song to hear, because of their two songs on the split only one is streaming at the moment. Its name is “Cicada/Grasshopper”. It’s a 28-second burst of freaked-out spastic hardcore/grind. If you blink, it will be gone.
Actually, since I was on the Bandcamp page for the split, I went ahead and checked out the one song available for listening from Jxckxlz, too. Its name is “Trophic Level”. It’s slow and doom-weighted where Fat Guy was frenetic and furious, but with equally unhinged vocals. The thick, sludgy riffs carve a crafty melody that becomes increasingly unsettling as the guitars begin to warp and squall. Good stuff.
Ruminations are a San Diego-based duo consisting of guitarist Lisa Lee and vocalist/drummer/bassist Carlos A. Gaitan. The band was formed in 2011 and their latest offering is a four-song, 43-minute album entitled The Ruins of Our Servitude, which was released in late June of this year. For purposes of this MISCELLANY excursion, I listened to the album’s last and longest song, an 18-minute piece called “Confined”.
I really admire people who can write hard-rocking riffs that shoot lightning bolts down your spine and make your feet tingle. I also admire people like the ones in Ruminations, who turn their dark, meandering ruminations into music, even if much of the time you’re not bellowing and smashing your head into the nearest immovable object.
You drift in a dark river with no light above, you froth in rapids around hairpin bends, you spin down deep vortices that whip like nocturnal whirlwinds. And when you least expect it, the head-whipping drum beats and grinding riffs break apart, and meditative bass notes combine with street-corner rants and scraping riffs. And then the song moves off into a rambling, staggering stroll along the edge of an abyss.
The music reminds you there are stars above, but you can’t see them from the cypress-canopied swamp in which you’re lost.
Imperial Cult are from the Himalayan region of Darjeeling in India. Late last month they released their debut album, Rise of Yalamber, and they also recently contacted us with a request that we check it out. So I ventured forth into the title track and found a hybrid of black and death metal, variously slow and somber or bouncing and bounding, with the guitars used in a way that gives the music a near-symphonic air.
I decided to listen to the second song as well — “Pain of Mortals” — and it’s instrumentally more intricate, with a writhing, rippling guitar solo that’s worth hearing. Something about both songs makes me think of a surrealistic infernal carnival. Pretty cool.