Friday, July 6, 2018

Fire in the Mountains - A Review, Photo Journal, and Thought Piece

Metal festivals are all alike; each metal festival is metal in it's own way.  Tolstoy said that (or something quite similar), and this quote found its way into my head during my two days at Fire in the Mountains, a metal fest situated about thirty miles outside Jackson, Wyoming.  This year's edition of Fire in the Mountains marked my sixth ever music festival, and third metal specific fest after the twelfth and fourteenth editions of Maryland Deathfest.  Fire in the Mountains was appealing to me for its lineup (Panopticon, Falls of Rauros, Wayfarer, Krallice, and more), its location (the Grand Tetons are RIGHT there), and its proximity to my home (six and a half hours, give or take).  So with my trusty sidekick (my buddy Bryce) in tow, I headed toward the mountains to see whether a new festival was establishing itself or coming in DOA.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Between the Buried and Me - Automata II

When we last heard from legendary prog-metallers Between the Buried and Me, it was way back on March 9 of 201...8.  So fourteen weeks ago.  Wow, the world seems super different now.  Feels like it's been years.  Anyway, three months ago, the touring stalwarts released Automata I, their eighth album.  Mick handled the Töp's review, and he liked it, closing with the line "BTBAM hasn't faltered yet."  I agree with his assessment.  So now, Between the Buried and me is preparing to launch Automata II (out July 13th via Sumerian), which is their second eighth studio album (we'll get to that).  The first half of Automata was welcomed by BTBAM diehards; will the second get the same treatment, or will the band finally falter?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Gaerea - Unsettling Whispers

Time will show the true extent of how much Mgła's Exercises in Futility is a milestone for black metal, not only by its own merit, but also by how it's currently paving the way for other like-minded bands to emerge and thrive. Cue in Portugal's Gaerea. By harnessing a straightforward approach to Mgla's droney-ambiance, Gaerea made a big impression on me with their self-titled EP from two years ago. It only missed my last year-end list on a technicality because I misread the release date. But this year may be the year I get to rectify that error because Gaerea's full-length debut, Unsettling Whispers, makes it rather clear that their previous EP was far from a fluke.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Møl - Jord

Metal, like other art forms, has a loosely structured cycle in which innovation begets imitation begets inspiration begets innovation, and so on.  The critical juncture in this cycle falls on the imitator; if they are simply a cardboard cutout of the innovative band, then they will be dismissed, lost amid a wave of other imitators.  If, however, their inspiration pushes them to heights from which they can distinguish themselves from the innovative band, then they will stand out and be heard.  The critical and commercial success of Deafheaven made it inevitable that a new wave of bands would grab on to their style of black metal/shoegaze amalgamation with ambient tendencies (I've heard some people call it "pink metal," and until I know for certain it's not meant as an insult, I won't have it) and have a go at it.  Møl is one such band entering the "imitation" point of the cycle with their debut Jord.  Does it manage to step out of Deafheaven's shadow, or will it be lost to the seas of time, a passing reference to a (potenial?) metal fad?

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Aesthesys - Achromata

Instrumental rock/metal bands that I listen to typically fall into two different camps. There's either technically awe-inspiring bands, such as Animals as Leaders, or emotionally enrapturing bands in the vein of Explosions in the Sky. Rarely do you hear bands that fit comfortably in that in-between area. But Moscow's Aesthesys is here to do exactly that with their second full-length album, Achromata. Birthed originally as a one-man project of Nik Koniwzski in 2007, the project has since evolved into a full band. With their latest endeavor, heavy guitars, violins, and keyboards all coalesce into an experience that evokes an airy introspection but also has a tangible grit under its surface. Filled with lush soundscapes, Achromata's journey is nothing short of enchanting.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Eagle Twin - The Thundering Heard

Since their debut full-length The Unkindness of Crows in 2009, Eagle Twin has quietly been one of my favorite bands.  ...Crows was like nothing I had ever heard when it came out; the band's shamanistic take on doom is weird and adventurous in a way that too little music is.  That weirdness was somehow pushed even further on The Feather Tipped the Serpent's Scale, the band's 2012 follow up, resulting in an album that still rewards listens with the discovery of something new.  Now, six years later, Eagle Twin has returned with The Thundering Heard (Songs of Hoof and Horn); after such a lengthy slumber, can Eagle Twin muster the same thundering weirdness that made them so hypnotically intoxicating?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Neolithic - Cult of Ignorance EP/The Elephant Parallax - Loam & Sky

I guess right off the bat it would be good to tell you that there really isn't any through-line between the two releases I'm reviewing today.  Both are EPs, sure, and I had never heard of either band before listening to these two albums, but outside of that, the music contained within these EPs couldn't be more different.  But the Durfette and I just moved from Chicago to Idaho, and I've found myself going back and forth between these two releases while unpacking and building compost bins, so I decided to review them together.  The Elephant Parallax is a progressive trio out of LA, and Loam & Sky is their third release following a demo and EP.  Neolithic is a death metal/hardcore quintet out of Baltimore.  Different coasts, different sounds, similar amazing listening experiences... let's do this shit!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Judas Priest - Firepower

The following is my personal journey with Judas Priest from beginning of fandom to today. I found the path toward Firepower to be a therapeutic journey seeing as Judas Priest is one of the bands most responsible for who I am as a music listener today. So here goes nothing.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Conjurer - Mire

The "post-" genre seems to have taken on a life of it's own in the past few years.  When I began listening to metal intently over a decade ago, it felt like "post-metal" was reserved for living legends Neurosis and ISIS (RIP), and then "post-hardcore" was bandied about for bands like Thrice and Thursday.  Now? It seems like everything new is getting "post-"ed.  It feels like a catch-all of sorts, as though when a band has a sound that doesn't fit neatly into a predefined genre, it becomes "post-whatever genre."  I bring this up because in listening to and reviewing Mire, the debut full-length by the UK's Conjurer, I am incredibly tempted to label the band post-something, and I feel that doing so would take away from the magnificence of this album.