Jan 242014

Today we reach the 10th part of our list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. To see the selections that preceded the two I’m announcing today, click here. I’m still not positive how many more parts remain, but I have resolved to finish before this month ends.

If you’re not familiar with today’s two additions to the list, you’ll soon understand why I grouped them together. They’re the least “extreme” of the songs featured so far, and I suppose some folks might argue they don’t belong on this list at all. But as different as both songs are from what I usually pass my days hearing and writing about, both of them lodged firmly in my head and have meant a lot to me since I first heard them. So they’re here, and so are you, and on we go…


Falkenbach is the German one-man project of Vratyas Vakyas. Since 1996 he has released six albums on an irregular and unpredictable schedule, the most recent being 2013’s Asa. By coincidence, it appeared on a late-breaking year-end list we published this morning, with these words:

“With multiple styles present, Asa sounds atmospheric and epic, Vratyas Vakyas putting forth excellent performances in everything he’s done with this album. The contrasting vocal styles are well done and may rival some of the best bipolar voices in metal, but the use of acoustic guitar may actually be the highlight of the album. I can envision Asa being what campfire stories at night would sound like with backing guitars and drums as others go forward to to do the deeds being sung about back home…. Falkenbach remains one of folk metal’s standard bearers, Asa showing exactly why.” Continue reading »

Dec 092013

(BadWolf reviews the remarkable collaborative effort by two St. Louis bands: The Lion’s Daughter and Indian Blanket.)

I’ve had to re-write this review around three times to really sum up my feelings about A Black Sea, the collaborative album from St. Louis sludge metal band The Lion’s Daughter and Indian Blanket, a folk outfit from the same city. Although I haven’t had much time to listen to the album, I feel quite strongly that it is one of the finest extreme metal albums released in 2013.

I first heard of this project right here, when Islander posted a stream of “Wolves,” the first cut from this album. That song’s mix of metal and folk brought up more than a few touchstone sounds—Agalloch and Neurosis, most obviously, and Opeth and Cobalt to a lesser degree. It made a good enough first impression to put A Black Sea near the top of my priority list.

Consider expectations met. A Black Sea is the sort of album that one can listen to from front-to-back and then re-start. Both Indian Blanket and The Lion’s Daughter carry a versatile array of styles, and employ every one of them on this album. As a result, even though the overriding mood stays bleak, the album winds from churning sludge to delicate acoustic passages—it feels every bit like a journey across the titular sea, or into the foreboding, prehistoric forest depicted on the cover. Continue reading »

Oct 232013

A reminder about the rules of MISCELLANY:  These are the only posts on this site that feature music which hasn’t been filtered in advance by me or any of the other writers. I randomly pick bands whose music I’ve never heard before, I listen to a recent song or two, I write down immediate impressions, and I stream the music that I heard. When I play this game, I try to focus on bands who are under the radar. It’s a good way to discover and spread the word about new music, but it’s a bit of a crap shoot.

Here’s how I picked the bands in this edition of MISCELLANY: I saw a Facebook post by my friend Prof. D. Grover the XIIIth urging me to pay attention to a St. Louis band named Black Fast and their recent album Starving Out the Light. That became my first pick for this expedition. After hearing a few songs, I liked them on Facebook, and not long after that I saw a status they posted recommending a song that premiered yesterday which was a collaboration between two more St. Louis bands — Indian Blanket and The Lion’s Daughter. I listened to that song, which became my second stop on this MISCELLANY tour. And then I discovered that The Lion’s Daughter have an album on Facebook named Shame On Us All — and that became my third and final pick for what turned into a St. Louis edition of MISCELLANY.


The Black Fast album was released via Bandcamp in August of this year and it follows a self-titled EP from 2011. The featured song on Bandcamp is the album’s fourth track, “Obelisk”, and I listened to that one and then checked out the album opener, “Levitations”. They’re both head-whipping riff machines with bounding bass lines, jaw-dropping guitar solos, and caustic vocals. “Blackened thrash” is a start at a genre description, but doesn’t do justice to the intricacy or the strong progressive leanings of the songwriting. It’s kind of like a mash-up of Vektor and Blotted Science. Continue reading »