Rainbows in the Dark: Pågå — “The Evil Year”

2020 can be described as a lot of things, most of them far from pleasant.  I don’t think “evil” is a stretch, considering all of the rampant bullshit abounding and the world being a dumpster fire growing hotter and smellier every single day.  I have no idea if Sweden’s Pågå are referring specifically to this year with the title of their debut album The Evil Year, but considering the whole affair is winding down and this album is chock full of all things strange, outlandish and psychedelic, I have to think that’s where at least some inspiration came from.

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Rainbows in the Dark: Mizmor and Andrew Black — “Dialetheia”

mizmor andrew black dialetheia

“Unprecedented times.”  The phrase we’ve all seen more than we care to in the last nine months.  From email greetings to official press briefings, there is ample reminder at every turn that what we as a collective are going through right now is something many people never even imagined.  The loss of tangible connections to the communities we had built for ourselves, especially in times that are already turbulent enough on their own, is perhaps the most devastating aspect of having to shelter in place in the middle of a pandemic, and musicians, for whom community is both their raison d’etre and their livelihoods, have been feeling this loss harder than many other people have.  Yet in our strange age where physical presence is a danger, we are more connected to each other than ever before through our technology, allowing many to find the kinship they seek and a shared purpose to keep their artistic visions alive.  Thus, did A.L.N. and Andrew Black, founder and live bassist for Portland, OR’s Mizmor respectively, share a vision for an album created by and for our unprecedented times, a colossal ambient work called Dialetheia.  

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Album Review: Eternal Champion — “Ravening Iron”

I don’t need to tell you what this is.  Just look at that gorgeous Ken Kelly artwork, reminiscent of the best of Frank Franzetta (who was Kelly’s uncle, incidentally).  You instantly know, before you hear a riff, that you’re into some epic-scale traditional metal.  It’s something Eternal Champion have been holding the torch for since their inception, and new album Ravening Iron continues to set the template for what bands attempting to make this kind of music should be striving toward. Continue reading

Album Review: Sólstafir — Endless Twilight of Codependent Love

The one thing that has been the most consistent about the almost quarter of a century long career of Icelandic giants Sólstafir is their inconsistency.  Certainly not in terms of quality, but in their sound. There’s always been a strong tendency to break any semblance of genre rules and regulations and do whatever their hearts desire.  This has led them through the labels of black metal, post rock, grunge, art rock and more. But to them, they’ve always just done their own thing, and on their newest effort Endless Twilight of Codependent Love, they’re even harder to pin down.

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Rainbows in the Dark: October Falls — “Syys”

Okay, so I cheated a little bit with this one.  October Falls are not what anyone in their right mind would classify as “non-metal” but they are incredible, I will jump at the chance to review them anytime I can, and they have always had a way with mixing surprising elements into their brand of nature-inspired black metal. It seems that they are going to keep to that trend, and maybe throw some surprises out there, with their latest release, the all-acoustic Syys, which is also their second full-length release of this year.  See? That’s my rationale.

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