Thursday, April 20, 2017

Godhunter - The Codex Narco

For a band that's only been around for six or so years, Godhunter sure has been busy.  In addition to their stellar debut full-length City of Dust, they've put out six EPs, splits, or collaborations, each of which has seen their brand of sludge pulled and tweaked in different directions.  Their newest album, Codex Narco, continues that pattern, but with another, bigger twist: after a 2015 tour, a few members of the band left amicably, leaving guitarist/vocalist David Rodgers, drummer Andy Kratzenberg, and keyboardist Matthew Davis in the band.  Rather than find new members to flesh out a lineup, the trio invited musicians from other bands to play on Codex Narco.  There's no point in burying the lede; the result is a really cool album that's rooted in Godhunter's traditional sludge sound, while still charging forward.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Dakhma - Suna Kulto

Last year, Oathbreaker landed on many a year end list for blending ambiance with the aggression of hardcore. While it was a release that I thoroughly enjoyed, it seemed to delve too far into tranquility, without striking the necessary balance with the volatile energy that hardcore is known for. I loved the idea of the sound, but ultimately wanted something a little more relentless. "Ask and you shall receive" is what I remember thinking to myself immediately after listening to Suna Kulto, the latest release from Grand Rapids, Michigan three-piece Dakhma. Every year there's bound to be an album or two that I miss out on before I put my year end list together; you can count this one as a huge miss for 2016.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Memoriam - For The Fallen

Few bands have the clout in the death metal community that Bolt Thrower did; their name was synonymous with crushing riffs and war themed death metal. But when the band decided to call it quits after the death of drummer Martin "Kiddie" Kearns, many a tear was shed on the battlefield. Enter Memoriam and their debut For The Fallen, the first new material of a Bolt Thrower collective since 2005's Those Once Loyal. Will For The Fallen be the great tribute to a friend with a classic sound?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mastodon - Emperor of Sand

Mastodon is a band that needs no introduction; they are on the shortlist of bands that have influenced and defined the genre thus far in the 21st Century.  Since their crushing debut Remission in 2002, the quartet has released five more albums, including back-to-back-to-back classics in Leviathan, Blood Mountain, and Crack the Skye, before falling back to earth and releasing two intermittently enjoyable, but really only ok to good albums in The Hunter and Once More 'Round the Sun.  Mastodon's rapid ascent to the top of Critical Reception Mountain early in their career has only made their two-album slide all the more questioned: Were they trying to be more accessible and get a radio hit?  Were they burnt out?  Does Brent Hinds really hate playing in a metal band?  Did they really just fluke their way into three All-Time albums?  Fair or not, their seventh album, Emperor of Sand, feels like a make or break album for the band, one that will either return them to metal prominence as a great band, or seal their fate as a good band that had a transcendent six years once.  So, you know, no pressure.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Pillorian - Obsidian Arc

By now, all metal fans know the story: Agalloch broke up last year, due to a schism between singer/guitarist John Haughm and the rest of the band.  Don Anderson, Jason Walton, and Aesop Dekker joined up with Aaron John Gregory (of the late, great Giant Squid) to form Khôrada.  Jon Haughm teamed with drummer Trevor Matthews and guitarist Stephen Parker to create Pillorian - an adjective defined as "of, or relating to, scorn and condemnation."  Good thing there's nothing to read too deeply into there.  It isn't - well, shouldn't be - a competition between the two bands, but it's naive to think that if one band succeeds while the other flounders, the successful band will be hailed as the victors of the Agalloch break up.  While that is a silly way to look at it, we can finally start the actual conversation: Pillorian's debut album Obsidian Arc was released last Friday.  Is it a worthy follow up to one of the most acclaimed American black metal bands of the 21st Century?  Or is it merely a celestial effigy of what once was?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Fen - Winter

"Winter" is a word that holds a lot of meaning to me.  Living in Chicago, I associate it with feet of snow, driving winds, sub-zero temperatures, whiskey for warmth, and the resilience needed to go outside while it's still dark and wait for a bus, hoping it gets there before you freeze to death like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ranking Scott Kelly's Mastodon Songs

You may have heard there's a new Mastodon album coming soon.  Emperor of Sand will be released March 31, and the three advance tracks have me excited for a 'Don album for the first time in what feels like forever.  In anticipation of the new record, I've been listening to a lot of Mastodon, which inevitably means I'm hearing some Scott Kelly.  The Neurosis co-frontman and guitarist has appeared on every Mastodon album since Leviathan (and has confirmed an appearance on Emperor of Sand), and his presence typically results in his track being one of the stand out songs on the album.  So I decided to rank Kelly's Mastodon collaborations and ruminate on each one, if only because March 31 seems like too long to wait to write anything about Mastodon.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Great Old Ones - EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy

I've been hearing about EOD: A Tale of Dark Legacy, the latest release from French black metal outfit The Great Old Ones, from other metal bloggers and fans for what seems like forever.  The hype around this album is real, and while I'd never heard of the band before catching an advance track for this album, I'm a sucker for hype when I know nothing about the band.  So I decided to check it out and see if the hype was justified, or just a bunch of noise.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Tanakh - Unwilling

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I am a bit of a morning person.  I like to get up early, have a cup of coffee or six, and make breakfast before heading off to work, and sometimes that leaves me time to look for new music.  I know I've mentioned before that "look for new music" usually starts with checking out No Clean Singing, which is what I did the other morning.  There were quite a few great things that jumped out at me, but as you've no doubt surmised, the one that really caught my attention was an embed of the debut EP Unwilling by Sioux Falls, South Dakota band Tanakh.  Tanakh features Nick Murphy on vocals and Michael Iverson on all the instruments, which would be impressive even if the music on Unwilling were half as good as it actually is.  Being that it's actually pretty great, it's pretty mind-bendingly impressive.