Nov 232012

Lament, grievance, hatred, reflection, desolation. Those could be the five steps of reaction to a wrenching loss or to a wrong inflicted, the steps of an emotional processing that doesn’t end well. Those are also the titles, in order, of the songs on Lament, the remarkable 2012 EP by San Francisco’s Obolus.

The songs flow together, like a five-part suite, creating an immersive atmosphere that’s both beautiful and harrowing in its intensity. The sound of rain begins each song except the one called “Hatred”, and as the music slowly fades at the EP’s end, it rains again. Clouds hang heavy overhead throughout. Storm fronts move through and lash the listener, with brief moments of respite from the deluge before the next front begins its assault.

The first song (“Lament”) is a relatively short instrumental-only piece, comparatively subdued, with no drums to provide an undercurrent of power. The music is slow and sad, consisting principally of a layered acoustic and electric guitar melody.

The following track, “Grievance”, at first continues the mood, slowly building in volume and intensity until a surge of feedback breaks the repeating melody and the song explodes in an attack of blasting drums and a wall of distorted guitar noise. A harrowing, incoherent shrieking can be heard (as it can on “Hatred” and “Desolation”), but just barely, because it’s an almost indiscernible part of the dense background shroud of battering percussion and guitar distortion. A tremolo melody rolls through the haze in repeating waves, enhancing the song’s emotional intensity. Continue reading »

Sep 122012

I spent almost all last night writing an album review that isn’t even intended for publication on this site. More about that eventually. But the point for now is that I didn’t have time to finish other projects that were intended for appearance here this morning. Rest assured, they’ll be coming. But for now, I just want to quickly throw you two songs. Figuratively speaking, it’s like throwing you a couple of house-sized granite boulders. Catch!

The first is a lyric video for “Evoken Vulgarity”, which is a song from Effigies of Evil, which is a stupendous album from Finland’s Hooded Menace, which was officially released yesterday, which I’m still hell-bent on reviewing . . . some day. If you wanted to explain to someone how a song could be both horrifying and beautiful, this would be a good example to give them. Though beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

And in my eye, not only is the song beautiful, but so is the album cover. Click on the image above to see an even bigger, more awesome picture of the art.

The second song is “Bails (Of Flesh)”. It’s by a two-man Seattle band named Bell Witch, and it’s from their debut album Longing, which Profound Lore will be releasing on November 13. “Bails (Of Flesh)” is over 20 minutes long. Yesterday, Profound Lore began streaming the first 11+ minutes of the song. I don’t know about you, but if I’m ready to hear a song that’s 11 minutes long, and it’s as great as this one is, I’d be ready for all 20 minutes of it. So although I’m grateful to hear half of it, I’m also pissed I don’t get to hear the rest. Okay, “pissed” might be a little strong. More like hungry for more . . .

because the song is both horrifying and beautiful. Wait a minute, I said that already. So I’ll say this: it’s both soul-sucking and soulful. Also, devastating. And the Bell Witch album cover (by Bryan Proteau) is also cool. Continue reading »