Boris are back. Boris are ending. Boris have returned to their roots. Boris are not comfortable with the notion they are returning to their roots. Dear is the capstone to an amazing 25+ year career. Dear is not the end. Dear IS the end…What does it matter? It’s the nth album from the Japanese gods of the heavy, and whether it started as a farewell letter and transformed into a celebration, one thing is clear: Dear is another gorgeously thick slab of sound slowly and eternally unwinding itself in new permutations for those of us who have been hooked since the beginning. Continue reading →
Every band has to push their creative envelope at some point. Sticking to your guns is a great thing, but making the same album with exactly the same sound and form again and again can lose it’s impact. Sometimes it’s necessary to add elements from other genres of music to take things in a new direction. Sometimes expanded production values are enough to breathe new life into the music. So what do you do if you’re Minneapolis based black metal act False, who’s shortest track length in their entire discography is nine and a half minutes? Why, you record a 7″ of course. And while Hungershakes the proverbial tree, it enables the band to focus in and deliver some of their best work ever. Continue reading →
Thanks to the demands, deadlines and drudgery of my day job, this stocktaking listicle was delayed two weeks past its intended publication date at the half-way point of the year. In the intervening time, additional waves of releases were unleashed, a reminder of the golden era of quantity and quality we are currently living in. It has become increasingly challenging to stay on top of must-hear releases, even with obsessive research and vigilance, but the untold satisfaction of unearthing new records that hit you like a brick in the face, make being a metalhead in this day and age such a thrilling glory ride.
I had a difficult time narrowing the following list (in alphabetical order) down to only ten releases (ultimately, the aforementioned day job dictated its final length) that have made a lasting impact in my heart of hearts during the first six months of this year, thanks to their creativity, vision, emotion, pummeling ferocity, gripping melody, riff mastery, headbangability, confident musicianship and that certain je ne sais quoi that elevates some albums and the whole genre to dizzying artistic heights. Continue reading →
“Blackened death” or whatever you want to call it seems to be the genre du jour this year, and I’ll be the first to admit the scuzzy, filth-ridden sound is not a favorite for me. The switch hasn’t clicked in my head that seems to be the default position for so many online writers who fawn over this kind of thing (there’s a reason I didn’t review the latest from Triumvir Foul), but I keep trying to crack it, to find some hook or jagged spike I can latch onto and wallow in the muddied waters with the rest of you.
So, biases and trepidation laid out, let’s take a listen to the debut from Vesicant, Shadows of Cleansing Iron. Continue reading →
Over the course of a few albums you begin to take the measure of a band by the steps they take on their musical path. Some bands are explorers, never content with where they were, always looking to try something else, move further. Some find their place and stick to it, content to tread the same rhythm over and over again (lest you think that’s always a bad thing, I’ll simply leave you with a “Hey! Ho! Let’s GO!). But between the balance of standing in place and grasping for something just out of reach is the band that refines, that chances upon something and digs deeper, finding the hidden corners and unexplored nuances of the terrain they commit to. And it’s this thin space that Twilight Fauna and Evergreen Refuge have been residing in over the course of multiple albums and side projects, and their latest split Procession of the Equinox demonstrates how subtle shifts and expansions of sound can reap huge rewards. Continue reading →