Scholar of the First Sin: Hera’s Best of 2020

Best of 2020

If you remember from last year, I had this to say as I closed my 2019 EOY list:

In the meantime, 2020 looks to be tumultuous as well, but things are looking up, as I have music to look forward to and scream about at some point. Maybe, at the end of the year, I can tell you if I have succeeded in making more selective choices in music.

2020 gave us a roundhouse kick to the collective bollocks, didn’t it? In my case, it kicked me in the face and didn’t let me listen to anything – this pandemic has been bad for my mental health, and it didn’t help that grad school has continued to essentially take all my time and joy away from me. After September of this year, I just went off the radar musically and I found – much to my detriment – that I could only listen to albums I had originally invested a lot of time in. As such, my favorite albums this year are all touchstones of comfort, albums that I enjoyed heavily throughout the year. However, there is an album that made its way through these touchstones and was able to move to a spot that I didn’t think it would reach.

Welcome back to the pit of despair that has exacerbated my depression EOY list season!

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Album Review: Poema Arcanvs — “Stardust Solitude”

Poema Arcanvs - Stardust Solitude

When I think of Chilean metal bands, I think of the heavily influenced and highly political thrash bands that cry about government corruption that was heavily exacerbated by Pinochet’s regime, rail about the current Chilean government, and comment on the current state of things. For a country filled with such a bloody history, it would make sense that their music would be energetic and angry, even when raising funds for earthquake relief. However, if you decide to look under the surface, that strife and anger can also translate well into a deep melancholy that permeates well into corta venas territory. Stardust Solitude, the sixth album by Poema Arcanvs (“Arcane Poem”) is an album whose sheer weight will sink you straight into an abyss of funeral dirges and riffs. Continue reading

Album Review: Black Crown Initiate — “Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape”

Black Crown Initiate - Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape

Black Crown Initiate made a splash with Song of the Crippled Bull, an EP that crawled deep into my skin and never left. On Selves We Cannot Forgive, they had struck gold with the balance of death metal and progressive tendencies that many would compare to the sound Gojira explored on Magma, albeit with a more melodic dissonance that made the album a delight to listen to. With this in tow, Black Crown Initiate managed to avoid the second album pitfall and now had a new direction to explore: whether their progressive tendencies could bloom into full technical mastery with an experimental edge. With the release of Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape, Black Crown Initiate has succeeded in this regard, creating an album that shows adept mastery into their craft while also revealing just how deeply emotional they can be. Continue reading

The Path to Paradise Begins in Hell – Neoclassical Metal

The Path to Paradise Begins In Hell

It’s been a while since I wrote something for the column, but I have been doing a lot of work and studying behind the scenes, which explains why there hasn’t been a lot of music writing lately. However, now that I have some time before grad school restarts, I can start talking about music again.

Blessed be thy gods.

For this episode of the column, I wanted to talk about a genre that combines both my love for classical (read: orchestral) music and metal, as I spend a lot of time listening to both genres. While symphonic metal tends to focus more on the vocal and operatic aspects of what we consider classical music to be, we tend to talk about instruments and instrumentation in accordance to their sound in a specific genre or in how they add texture to a song.

It’s time we talked about Neoclassical Metal.   Continue reading

Album Review: Al-Namrood — “Wala’at”

al-namrood - wala'at

Summer is here, and as someone who listens to black metal during her summer breaks it should come as no surprise that Al-Namrood has come swinging into the forefront of my listening queue. Although most of my forays into black metal have been of the atmospheric quality, Wala’at is something special, as it has stayed with me since I first hit play. Something about its dark influences and quality strike a heavy chord with me. Continue reading