Monday, October 16, 2017

Trivium - The Sin and the Sentence

I'd wager pretty comfortably that the majority of metal fans out there started their journey with bands that they would now consider mainstream. If somebody tells you their first endeavors in metal occurred by just happening upon a discography of a band like Immolation then that somebody is either a flat-out liar or a unicorn. Like it or not, as is the case with other genres of music, the mainstream is a piece of the puzzle that forms the holistic view of metal. It's normally here where bands are referred to as "gateway" bands. Trivium was such a band for me. 2005's Ascendancy, the crown-jewel of their discography, showed early high-school me that there were much heavier things to be discovered other than the slew of radio-cuts from Metallica and Slipknot I was primarily caught up in at the time. Over the course of their next five albums, Trivium played a balancing act with Matt Heafy's screaming:clean vocal ratio, effectively experimenting with each extreme of that spectrum and much in-between. With The Sin and the Sentence, the band has found a sweet spot in their sound by focusing their efforts in the dead middle of that aforementioned spectrum; something that should appease both camps of their fan-base.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Shroud Ritual - Five Suns

An interesting thing about instrumental music is the way it's judged as its own genre, as though a lack of vocals is the most notable characteristic of the music.  And while certainly instrumental music does provide a different listening and live viewing experience, I feel like labeling bands as simply "instrumental" lumps them all in together, as though they all sound the same, which is erroneous on multiple levels.  From the black metal of Tempel, to the post-metal riffs of Pelican, to the driving soundscapes of If These Trees Could Talk, instrumental bands are just as varied and cross-genred as their vocal counterparts.  Of course then there are bands like Shroud Ritual, a one man project out of Washington D.C.  Five Suns, the band's debut album, manages to blend and transcend genres, leaving instrumental as the easiest, laziest way to categorize their thoroughly unique sound.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Bell Witch - Mirror Reaper

Since the release of their self-titled demo in 2011, Seattle's Bell Witch has become one of the most talked about doom metal bands in the game.  Conceived as a bass and drum duo, Dylan Desmond and Adrian Guerra made their two instruments sound inconceivably large, crafting long, dynamic, intensely heavy doom tracks across their demo and a pair of LPs.  After 2015's Four Phantoms, Guerra left the band, with Jesse Shreibman taking over on drums.  As the new duo was beginning the writing process for their first album together, Guerra tragically passed away, which impacted the album in a profound way.  When such a devastating, monumentally personal event is intertwined with a record, it can become hard, even impossible, to extricate the two from one another.  On October 20, Bell Witch returns with Mirror Reaper, the composition of which, the band says, "sought to match the complexity and weight of these events."

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Exclusive Interview - Rebecca Vernon (SubRosa)

This past weekend, comrade Durf and I were lucky enough to catch Salt Lake City's own SubRosa as they were playing the very last show of their tour opening for Wovenhand. The band has garnered plenty of notoriety over the past few years. 2013's More Constant Than the Gods and last year's For This We Fought the Battle of Ages have paved new paths for creating a different kind of heaviness within the doom metal genre; giving their compositions more emotional weight than just audible weight. We sat down with guitarist/singer Rebecca Vernon and just by chance drummer Andy Patterson to talk shop about the band's beginnings, their development over the years, and the tight-knit Salt Lake City music community.

Read the full interview after the break!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Brutally Short #7 : Cormorant, Falls of Rauros, GOLD, and Brand New

Welcome to another edition of Brutally Short, the not at all gimicky or lazy feature where we at Brutalitopia compile a group of reviews that are far shorter than our normal, endless word vomit.  The albums contained in Brutally Shorts aren't here because they're bad; quite often there are albums here that deserve far more words from far better writers because of how good they are, we just either didn't see them until now, forgot to write about them, we had a child and the responsibility of caring for a newborn person takes up, like, an inordinate amount of time, or (usually) spent another week rewatching Parks and Recreation on Netflix while drinking scotch instead of actively working to run a blog.  No one said we're good at this.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Dreadnought - A Wake in Sacred Waves

Of all genres of music, especially metal, "progressive" is a genre tag that, over time, has constantly expanded its grey area for interpretation. While it's now commonly assumed to be a genre where technically proficient musicians play concept-albums while encompassing sporadic tempo shifts, progressive music can be better thought of as more of a pushing of boundaries. By incorporating unfamiliar elements or creating a new combination of pre-existing ones, this expanding of horizons is the bedrock of what it means to be progressive as a band. Now, the whole concept of progressive music as a philosophy versus a rigidly defined musical genre is a rabbit-hole of a conversation that would best be served as the central focus of its own series of articles, but it's these kinds of thoughts that traversed through my mind as I listened to Dreadnought's second album, Bridging Realms. Making my year-end list for 2015, the album harnessed the power of soft female vocals, black metal shrieks, blast beat drumming, pianos, saxophones, and everything that could be thought of being in that vast in-between. Denver's experimental foursome now returns with A Wake in Sacred Waves, an album that dials in their craft, takes their sound to new monumental heights, and, ultimately, will be the album that establishes them as a progressive metal force.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Primitive Man - Caustic

It feels like Primitive Man has been around forever, but in reality their debut full-length Scorn came out only four years ago.  Since then, however, they've released nearly a dozen singles, splits, and the EP Home is Where the Hatred Is, making them one of the more prolific bands going.  The Denver sludge trio has put out some of the darkest, most repulsive sludge around in the past four years, and with the release of their sophomore LP Caustic, it appears that was just a warm up.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Wolves in the Throne Room - Thrice Woven

Since their phenomenal debut Diadem of 12 Stars in 2006, Wolves in the Throne Room have been a force in the US black metal scene.  Their songs, drawing inspiration from the band's home in the Pacific Northwest, have always blended a serene sense of melody and atmosphere with a primal, animalistic fury.  In the ensuing decade, "atmospheric black metal" has become the genre du jour, but for the most part, these bands have been chasing WitTR's tail, trying to capture the alchemy that makes Diadem, Two Hunters, Black Cascade, Celestial Lineage, and the Malevolent Grain EP stand out in a sea of imitators and lesser bands.  Wolves in the Throne Room took a bit of a detour for their last album; 2014's Celestite was an ambient, synth-heavy companion to Celestial Lineage, and while it wasn't bad, it was certainly a departure from the band's trademark sound.  So now, three years later, after a re-release of Diadem of 12 Stars, the band has returned with Thrice Woven, an album they say marks their return to black metal.  So does Thrice Woven hold up to the band's impeccable track record in their home genre?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Squalus - The Great Fish

Jaws is an incredible movie, with some of the most iconic shots and quotes in all of American cinematic history.  Robert Shaw's Quint is an All-Time Classic movie character, and I could watch his monologue about the U.S.S. Indianapolis daily for the rest of my life.  As far as nautically-themed stories go, Jaws is second to none, and while I beseech Hollywood not to remake it, the story itself is ripe for inspiration and interpretation.  Squalus, the new band made up of 80% of the dearly departed Giant Squid, seemingly agrees, as their debut album The Great Fish... sees the band apply their post-metal sludgery to the iconic story of Chief Brody, Hooper, and Quint, and the results more than live up to the sizable expectations built by the band's pedigree and source material.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Myrkur - Mareridt

I know it may be hard for some of you to believe that polarization exists within the metal community, but Myrkur has perpetually been in the cross-hairs ever since the self-titled debut EP. Black metal is perhaps the murkiest of purist waters you can try to stay afloat in, but Amalie Bruun's solo project has been gliding through these waves since day one. While the approaches differ, Myrkur brings to mind bands like Alcest and those who followed in the "blackgaze" craze. Myrkur sticks closer to maintaining the rawness of traditional black metal, but like Alcest, there is an even mix of serene melodies to juxtapose the harsher tones. The only complaint I've ever had with Myrkur's output is that I've never been captivated by a full release. It's as if after every listen, I find myself thinking about the album's "what could have been" potential more than anything else. Unfortunately, Mykur's latest album, Mareridt, follows suit in this trend.