The first thing I did was to quit drinking entirely. My alcohol intake had already been significantly reduced for about the last year; two a night on weekends was all I had, but I cut that out. Alcohol is by nature inflammatory, because it is sugar, so bye bye. I thought I would miss it a little bit, and I'm sure if I were still in the Midwest where I could find Bell's Two Hearted, I'd have had one or two by now, but other than that I don't even really think about it, which would have been inconceivable a couple years ago. It probably helps that last time I made a border run to Oregon for some CBD oil (which I've been taking for awhile), I picked up some pre-rolls and gummies. So there's still some substance-aided relaxation on Friday and Saturday nights, just none that's shown to irritate inflammation.
I also cut out nearly all added sugar from my diet; on most days I have about 10g, which is all found in the granola I eat for lunch (I am a boring, boring person). I never really had much of a sweet tooth, so that wasn't huge, but then I read something about intermittent fasting being good for inflammatory bowel disease, and I was intrigued. The gist of intermittent fasting is that you eat during a certain time frame and then don't eat for the rest of the day. So while doing 16:8 IF, I would eat all of my daily calories between 5am-1pm, and then not eat until 5am the next day. I felt great doing this for the most part, but if I had to mow the lawn or do any sort of laborious chore after work, I immediately felt weak and exhausted. I've given fasting up for now, instead just having a smaller dinner to make sure I get enough calories and nutrients for the day.
So far these changes have led to a pretty positive result; I feel better, and my Crohn's symptoms have more or less abated. I also feel much more in control of my health, which does wonders for my mental outlook. The medication(s) I've taken over the course of my disease have certainly done their part, and the remaining medication continues to do so, but there's something incredibly reassuring about knowing that I'm not just relying on a pharmacological creation to keep me healthy, that I'm doing everything in my power to make myself well. So that's pretty cool. Anyway, enough health stuff you don't care about; on to the music!
Domkraft - Seeds
Ascend Towards the Moon - ILMESTYS
I first stumbled upon this album via a post at No Clean Singing, and was about to listen to it, but then kids, yard work, life, etc... happened and I had to save it for later. Later turned out to be today, as I'm sure you've gathered. Ascend Towards the Moon play a darkened form of black metal that is juuuust on this side of "Put on some headphones and listen to at night during a thunderstorm," as opposed to "work out before dawn," but as I've said before, sometimes you just have to enjoy what you're listening to and let the workout slide a little (which is exactly what happened here). ILMESTYS came out May 7th.
Our Place of Worship is Silence - Disavowed, and Left Hopeless
I first encountered Our Place of Worship in Silence with their 2018 album With Inexorable Suffering, which absolutely blew me away. I know that "Blackened death metal" had been a thing for awhile before 2018, but With Inexorable Suffering was the album where that genre really clicked, where I was like "Oh shit; blackened death metal!!! I get it!" And then I'm pretty sure I was supposed to see them at a festival, but something happened and they couldn't make it and I was super, super bummed (or maybe that was In the Company of Serpents. I don't remember, and I'm battling a head cold, but I haven't seen ItCoS either, and the feeling is the same). So when I saw Disavowed, and Left Hopeless hit the Töp inbox, I think my exact response was "OH FUCK!!!!!" And then I listened to it while hitting my arm workout as hard as I possibly could, and my reaction to hearing it was "OH FUCK!!!!!!" Disavowed, and Left Hopeless sees the band double down on their aggressive, blackened sound; there are riffs for sure, but there is also an extreme sense of spite that permeates the music. In this way, Disavowed, and Left Hopeless is closer to Dragged Into Sunlight than, like, Behemoth. Our Place of Worship is Silence is in the process of cementing themselves as one of the premier metal bands going right now, and Disavowed, and Left Hopeless is another brick in that wall. This is another one I think you're going to be seeing a lot of when Best Of lists start rolling out in December; Disavowed, and Left Hopeless is out August 27th on Translation Loss. You can listen to the title track over here, at our nemesis site Decibel.
Mastodon - Remission
This one felt inevitable once I got the call the other day; my doctor let me know my MRI results were in, and there is no active inflammation or any other sign of Crohn's activity in either of my intestines. This is a massive relief, as I really don't like having flares; they are incredibly inconvenient for my family and I, not to mention slightly painful. I'm also taking it as affirmation that the changes I have been implementing for myself are working, so I'm going to stick with them for the foreseeable future. So yeah, remission means Remission, which is a ballin' album, the first of Mastodon's run of four straight all-time classics. Whenever I think of this album, I always jump to "Mother Puncher" and "March of the Fire Ants," while forgetting just how fucking awesome "Ol'e Nessie" is. Well I'm done making that mistake, because today while lifting, "Ol'e Nessie" came on and I actively stopped what I was doing, listened for a bit, and said out loud "This is the best song on this album" to absolutely no one in particular. I talk to myself out loud a lot in my garage in the mornings. Maybe too much. I don't know. Anyway, yeah Remission is great, and so is remission. Remission has been out for... shit, nineteen years next week. If, for whatever reason, you've never heard it, you should get on that.
Psychonaut/Sâver - Emerald Split EP
Psychonaut's Unfold the God Man came out of nowhere (to me) to become my favorite album of last year, so when I saw on Bandcamp that they had a new split EP coming out May 14th, I eagerly circled the date in anticipation. Psychonaut reminds me a lot of Intronaut in some ways, but also take cues from older, more psychedelic bands as well, creating a sort of post-metal/psychedelic mishmash that it absolutely something I want to listen to at all times. "The Great Realisation," their contribution to this split, doesn't stray from that formula or disappoint in its execution. Like a lot of post metal, the song moves between quieter moments and explosions of sound, and while the heavier parts are great, it's in the quieter moments where Psychonaut really shines. There is a driving purposefulness to those moments; you can tell the song is building to something, but the band very clearly wants you to stay in the moment and appreciate what you're hearing, as opposed to just anticipating the coming audio storm. I wasn't previously familiar with Sâver, but their contribution to the split was also plenty good, a long-form post-metal odyssey that takes its time ebbing and flowing purposefully. The riff at around the 16:40 mark of "Dimensions Lost, Obscured by Aeons" really ties the room together, a phenomenal culmination of an already stellar track. Definitely going to look up some more Sâver, because this was an awesome listening experience. Emerald Split EP came out last Friday via Pelagic Records.
- Robots of the Ancient World - Mystic Goddess (Psychedelic/Stoner rock)
- Yautja - The Lurch (Noise/Grind/Hardcore/The Kitchen Sink)
- An Autumn for Crippled Children - As the Morning Dawns, We Close Our Eyes (Blackgaze)