(We’re grateful to Neill Jameson (Krieg, Poison Blood), and hopefully you will be too, for sharing the following list of musical suggestions to help us get through the current “end of the world” times.)
So I’m sure we can agree that it’s been an interesting week or two recently and because of it a lot of you are going to be stuck indoors for a bit. And as much as we like to complain we don’t get enough time to ourselves, when it’s forced upon us it somehow feels more like an inconvenience than an opportunity. And unless you’re one of those assholes running to crowded places to prove that you’re invincible against the powers of the NWO you’re probably going to stay at home like a proper facsimile of a responsible adult. So I figured that even though I’m somehow considered “essential” at my job, I wanted to do something to contribute to easing the cabin fever that’s going to set in for the rest of you; you can build a monument to my altruism later.
I’ve been doing a lot more musical exploring the last month or two. I can’t really explain it since I haven’t been that into seeking out new things in quite awhile, even in those years where my annual list is filled to the brim. And I’ve found a lot of things I’m enjoying, so I wanted to compile them and share them with the class, in case this helps you find something new or at least gives you something to complain about. This is going to span a few genres, the whole “something for everyone” concept, I suppose. If you end up actually digging any of this shit then consider supporting the bands or, in these fun-filled times, see if other bands and labels you enjoy are hurting because of cancellations or unemployment. Anyway, here’s some records:
So like I mentioned in my 2019 wrap up, the Thy Serpent/Ash Pool split was really my big exposure to the project. I had the first demo that I got handed at a show years ago and for some reason never gave it the proper time that it deserved. The one benefit this gave me is now I have a lot of shit to catch up on, and everything I’ve heard is absolutely killer. I couldn’t pick just one example since the project has a lot of diverse-sounding material so I went with two of my favorites. Black metal with death rock or harsh noise or punk etc influences throughout, each recording has something that keeps it interesting. I would have put a bandcamp link but there’s a lot of projects with this name and by the time I got a few pages into a Google search it felt like I was six pages in on a Pornhub search instead of just picking one and moving on with my morning.
There’s a lot of examples of me sleeping on things since I wasn’t super interested in new music for whatever fucking reason. NyreDolk is another one even though I’d always meant to, based superficially on the cover aesthetic alone. Having missed out on the first pressing when I saw Caligari was doing a repress, I figured I’d give it a listen just in case, and I’m very happy I took the time. Harsh black metal with punk and psych influences? That description doesn’t do them justice. Caligari is doing preorders here for their second demo that should release sometime in April unless it becomes illegal to use the postal service by then. I’m assured it’s even better than this one. Started me into a deep dive of the Danish Korpsand bands, which brings me to…
Grifla da la Secta
Thanks to Danny Katz, lawyer to a full third of the American metal underground, I was given a list of bands to dive into after posting the Nyredolk demo on my Facebook. For the most part nearly every Korpsand band scratches certain itches for me but Grifla da la Secta might hit every spot. Fucking creepy dungeon black metal meets early hardcore. Of course the excellent Tour De Garde released this ep and it looks like it’s still available (here) at a price you won’t have to take up giving handjobs at your local Applebee’s to afford (digital here).
Speaking of Tour De Garde and black metal with strong outsider influences, I stumbled upon Brand while looking at the TDG site and decided to give it a listen. Brand makes me think of Joy Division with Carl Michael on vocals as covered by a black metal band with only a passing knowledge of recording techniques. The first demo is almost unlistenable but in a really great way but the Urkraft demo tightens everything up without giving up any of the special weird feeling the band possess.
Youth Attack Records
So, like I said at the go: this list is meant to give you something to dig into while you’re in quarantine and getting tired of the soup you bought thirty cans of out of panic. What better way to spend at least an afternoon than to dig through the roster of one of the most interesting labels in punk/hardcore? Youth Attack has years of releases that run the gauntlet from raw hardcore to black metal influenced punk to grind to just fucking abrasive. I’ve put links in here for just two of the records I’ve been listening to. As you’ll see when you get there, it’s a drop in the bucket: https://youthattack.bandcamp.com
Speaking of abrasive hardcore, Canada’s Burnt Knives are a band more people should be talking about. Going from early 90’s old school with some really meaty riffs to blackened hardcore with some powerviolence thrown in for good measure, every song is different but overall satisfies from the start. Bands like this and Withdrawal really push Canada’s long tradition of the riff ever forward.
One thing that really draws me to one dungeon synth artist over another is if it touches some nostalgic part of my imagination, either from my early obsession with black metal to the late ’80s when I spent so much of my time immersing myself in fantasy worlds before I just settled on dissociation as a coping mechanism. Vampire Tower touches this recess. Morbid and lonely dungeon synth that truly conjures up the mental image of being in a dimly lit abandoned castle. I’ve listened to this dozens of times since it started playing on YouTube while I wasn’t paying attention. Really exceptional project.
An Old Sad Ghost
I guess this is sort of a real-time exploration as I was trying to find an older recording of this excellent dungeon synth project to listen to while I finished this list out and stumbled upon this 2019 ep that, up until a few minutes ago, I had no idea existed. An Old Sad Ghost is one of those projects whose name is right on the nose, every recording always feels desolate, lonely and pretty depressing. This ep is no different, but adding percussion to it somehow warms it up a bit, but doesn’t make it any less fucking sad. An excellent project, as is all of his other work (especially A Letter for Carmilla) and all worth supporting.
Now we’ve come to the end of my playlist for plague times or whatever dramatic shit you want to call it. And I hope I’ve given you something new to listen to and new artists/labels to support to help take the edge off of this current “end of the world” we’re going through. Think these choices suck? Make your own lists, share them with people, give others things to either obsess over or shit on because that helps maintain a sense of normalcy, especially with music nerds. Take care of yourselves and wash your fucking hands.