profound lore

Wolvhammer, Clawing Into Black Sun

For the lazy: Clawing Into Black Sun is a “covers-type” album by a doom/black metal band. Think Graveyard Classics-type records done by Nachtmystium, except… Wolvhammer are good enough songwriters to make this seemingly-“covers” album an original work. This is a covers album done by a band from an extreme metal genre who are actually great songwriters.

Opener, “The Silver Key,” nice intro, and nice dynamics– gives the blast beats time to work and time for the listener to heal.

“Lethe,” track two, ambient sounds effects, not unlike Salome’s only record, brief, then “Death Division,” the most straightforward, “rock”-ish track here, a bit like something off Wolverine Blues. Borderline catchy, like Sisters of Mercy on Quaaludes. Sounds like a less-indulgent Nachtmystium. Played acoustically, you’d probably never notice this was metal. It might come off as more morbid alt-country, something like Sturgill Simpson.

Arvo Pärt‘s doomy black metal. Doom rock? Death and roll?

“Slaves to the grime,” “The Desanctification,” are, to put it mildly, quite rocking tunes….

“In Reverence” rageful, ends hauntingly

This is not black metal, it’s too crude and slow: black stone, not black rock– black monolith?

All the songs are fairly long; “Death rock” works as a descriptor; almost like an emo, 120 minutes-type of band that’s too angry and despairing to write music that won’t scare off their intended audience. They’re too intense to pull off emo. Heehee. Nachtmystium-like. Jeff Wilson, guitarist, is ex-Nachtmystium. So, figures.

“A light that doesn’t yield.” Thin, abstract, flatted-third type chords that sound like Jack Johnson warped through a Absinthe-stained glass. Builds and builds and seems to progress, but inevitable doesn’t. A good thing: highlights the despair of the underlying emotions. Trapped. Claustrophobic. Gregorian blackened death rock. Listen with earphones, and your skull will resound with these hymns like a mausoleum echoing with the hymns of mourners long departed the overgrown sepulcher. Jesus Christ that was poetic.

The building chants at the end of the song should be awesome live.

“When the edge of the razor is what you need.” The adaptable, ever-evolving dirge.

“Clawing into black sun.” Simple, stone chords (not metal) over a r-tard-played primal beat. For when you wake up in a new place and realize it’s hell. And there’s been no mistake; you’re supposed to be there. Sounds like something off Assassins.

“Black! Black! Black! Black!” nice. Like the 1954 Richard Matheson short story, “Dance of the dead,” e.g., “To flesh insensate!” etc. Like that generation’s plaints of despair, of agony, of redemption. Prayers.

Black, ashen prayers. And Clawing Into Black Sun knows how to end. It just stops. No ambiance, no echoes, just… done.

It’s a consistent sound: the baleful cries of your very tissues when they’re infected, or burning, or cancerous; when, if you’re being honest with yourself, you realize that you were poorly designed for life.

Music that teaches you how to die.

Jesus Christ. I’m gonna go watch Good Luck Charlie on Netflix now for some ear bleach.

Stream Clawing Into Black Sun

 

Pallbearer, Sorrow and Extinction

Pallbearer, Sorrow and Extinction, coverPallbearer are Candlemass, if they were John D. Cronise’s baby from Austin, TX rather than Leif Edling’s from Stockholm, Sweden. Sorrow and Extinction, on Profound Lore, has a scruffy, low-fi, hipster solemn majesty about it; one quasi-religious, madrigal-like, evoking monks and monasteries and ascetics and deep, grave reverence.

If garage Black Sabbath cover bands played funerals, this it what it would sound like.

Ash Borer, Cold of Ages

Per their one-sheet info: Arcata, California’s Ash Borer formed several years ago; they play “very harsh and bleak time-stretching atmospheric, ambient, yet searing raw black metal.”

Unusually for ad copy, this is very true.

What it doesn’t mention is that Cold of Ages (out August 14 on Profound Lore) is just as much doomy, atmospherically-psychedelic drone… Sunn O))) as a black metal band.

It sounds like something that’s harsh, weird and interesting… and actually is harsh, weird and interesting.

There’s four tracks, each wicked long (so far, so doomy), and the first is called “Descended Lamentations.”

If the inclusion of the word “lamentations” didn’t immediately clue you in to what kind of music this is, Cold of Ages may not be for you.

“Descended Lamentations” opens with ominous keyboards and wistful, single-note guitar lines… which don’t change until about three and a half minutes in… when the blast beats and screams emerge over detuned guitars (unusually detuned, at least for black metal)… sounding very similar at this point to Wolves in the Throne Room and Krallice… at 6:20 the riffs get a bit chunkier and nearly NWOBHM-ish, but two minutes later we’re back to all-out demonic screaming, chunky-riffed black metal… it closes, at nearly 16 minutes, like Sunn O))), with monolithic, rubato-ed chords, held as long as sonic decay (and modern electronics) will allow….

Next, “Phantoms” opens with a King Diamond-y slow riff with another (Mercyful Fate-y?) riff under it… then the vocal rasps swell and smolder beneath even that….

At this point, it’s a very involving record (if you listen just to it, and do nothing else… just letting it soak in)… at around two minutes there’s the slowest, sludgiest riff black metal ever heard, which eventually becomes a nearly-catchy chorus riff at around 3:15… you’re not going to have a Goddamned clue what the lyrics say, but that doesn’t detract from the overall experience… definite Krallice vibe again… now at 6:30, back to utterly-heavy doom riffs that hang on the open chord, replete with open minor chords beside them… then we slow down again into atmospherics, reminding me how much doom metal can (ironically?) emulate new age music….

“Convict All Flesh” opens with a single-note (not chord) riff with ample, and then more ample, reverb under it… sounds almost like an early Candlemass tune like “Solitude”… at about six minutes takes off into blast beats, then heads back to the single notes….

Closer “Removed Forms” starts with literally a single note (which reminds me: if you’re not willing to be absolutely patient with this record, don’t bother– it will irritate the shit out of you); the female choral voices that later emerge under the notes remind me of Sunn O)))’s Dømkirke, or the track “Big Church [Megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért*]” from Monoliths & Dimensions. The fifteen minute track very very gradually slows down, the black metal guitars become doom metal riffs become drone notes, as it fades out… the last chord rings for nearly 30 seconds….

Here’s the bottom line, complete with alcohol analogy:

Cold of Ages is a black & tan— it’s the Guinness you  might love (black metal), cut with the Bass you might also love (doom/ drone/ psychedelic metal).

If you don’t like Guinness, you will not enjoy this pint. But if you do? It’s a lovely blend of two pretty different tastes.

Until the 14th, indulge your curiosity at their Bandcamp site, as Bobby Timmons might say, “Right ‘chere:”

*Thank Satan/Buddha/ Vishnu/ God for the cut and paste function.

Atlas Moth, An Ache For the Distance

Here at SawtoothWave.com, we love Chicago’s The Atlas Moth. Previously reviewed here, here’s the newest wave of reasons why they’re awesome, and why their newest album, An Ache For The Distance, is balls-awesome.

Music like this should give you a good feeling about life in the 21st century, specifically about its tolerance about merging art forms: even 20 years ago, you would never have been able to produce something as genre-mixed as this: best description is emo psychedelic minimalist doom metal.

It’s Pelican, if they got Mortuus (Marduk) and Morrissey (Smiths) to alternate as signers– and then only covered tunes by The Church.

It’s weird as hell and I dig it. And make sure you listen to it on headphones– to hear how the two guitars are at the extreme left and right of the sound field, and how they nearly always play different parts. Their guitar tones are somewhat unique: they use very little gain, but are detuned all the way to B (a fifth below standard).

You get melody (clean vocals alternate with shrieked metal ones), and weight– one guitar usually slogs out a dirgy riff while the other plays a melancholy or angry melody over top it. It’s a fascinating, complex aural experience.

I’m not suggesting anything to you, my impressionable viewers, but I would imagine, hypothetically, that one would do well to listen to this work while chemically-augmented.

Songs? The whole thing is great and works as whole album, rather than a collection of tunes. But if you make me, I’ll cherry-pick you these three: “Perpetual Generations” “Holes in the desert,” and closer “Horse Thieves.”

Go listen, then get it.

[An Ache For the Distance is released Sept. 20.]