Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Northumbria- "Northumbria" (TQA Records) + "All Days Begin As Nights" (Unreleased)

In case the title of this post didn't make it apparent, today we're examining two albums by one group which are related in such a fashion that it's nearly impossible to post about one without making mention of the other. Northumbria are a self-described "ambient metal" duo from Canada, although genres seldom describe the music properly, especially with such a compelling sonic palette as that which Northumbria uses to craft their heavy drones. While part of me wants to call Northumbria's music soothing, I feel that such a term implies a shoegaze-influenced sensibility, which definitely wouldn't quite cut it. To put it plainly, I'm not quite sure what to call Northumbria other than highly enjoyable and well-crafted music that has roots in everything from the self-proclaimed term ambient metal to the farther reaches of drone, yet refuses to sit firmly in any one subcategory.

Northumbria's eponymous full-length album was released some time last year by TQA Records, and it's a great place to start. These five tunes clock in at just over 50 minutes and lead me to a very mellow, introspective place. While the guitars are dense and distorted, I feel as though these songs are more meditative than destructive. A layer of fuzz and static serves as a canvas upon which Northumbria paints textures with soaring notes and occasional jagged assaults that last just long enough to create a tension which they swiftly relieve. Some folks might take issue with the lack of percussion, but I feel that music like this doesn't need to be chained down by anything other than pure melody and expression. In a way, the closest sonic kin I can find for this album would be the works of another favorite of mine, a death cinematic, an artist who also goes without percussion yet retains a heightened sense of clarity.

Examining Northumbria's currently unreleased EP, All Days Begin As Night, I find that familiarity with the prior release is almost mandatory, as three of the four songs here are altered versions of songs from their self-titled release. This album begins with the title track, which at just shy of eight minutes in length is the shortest composition from Northumbria. This tune follows a similar path to those presented on their first album, with an ethereal drone that manages to straddle the line between haunting and calming without ever straying too far into either territory. The sounds grow in size to fill whatever space the listener inhabits and the composition as a whole evokes thoughts of the shifting beauty of aurora borealis. Following this is Theologian's cascading re-envisioning of "Lux Lunae," now titled "The Sanguine Moon." This was by far the most dissonant track in its original incarnation, but true to Theologian's fashion, it's somehow both mellower here and far more frightening, like the unsettling backing track to a dimly lit horror scene.  This might be my top pick on this album, although to discredit the other two remixes would be unwise. Famine's brief yet intense rendition of "Threnody" is probably the busiest tune here, as the incorporation of light drum programming turns this into a glitchy electronic piece that might not sound out of place beside Ulver's "Metamorphosis." Closing things out is a stellar, almost uplifting reworking of "Black Sea of Trees" by Witxes, which serves as a relatively soothing end to a highly adventurous EP.

You might notice that there isn't information available on this unreleased EP, such as a release date or a label. This is because Northumbria are currently searching for a label who is willing to release this album on vinyl. If you're a label, this could be an opportunity for you to deal with a band who are already making an impact. If you're a listener eager to hear this, share a link to this review with anybody you know who might have label connections. Let's help this album get the release it deserves.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Blackdeath- "Jesus Wept" 12" EP (Wohrt Records)

Russian horde Blackdeath are a group with a relatively lengthy history and discography, but I'll admit this is the first album of theirs I've purchased. With well-received releases on many labels, this 12" EP is their first release via Floridian label Wohrt Records, and it's a worthy introduction to Blackdeath's vicious brand of black metal.

"Jesus Wept" is a ferocious slab of mid-paced black metal that conveys the bleakest of atmospheres. The music has a nebulous, almost warped quality to it that sets this record apart from many other black metal groups. While the record is meant to be played at 45RPM, it still has a dark and deep quality to it that initially made me double check to make sure my turntable was playing at the right speed. While some folks may find the depth a bit peculiar for black metal, which has long been known for treble-heavy headache-inducing sounds, it works nicely to instill a sense of unease in the listener and makes the band sound even less human. The vocals are howled in a maniacal fashion that seems to be exclusive to Russian groups for some reason and the riffs are pummeling. The drums keep things in place, but the real highlight is the demonic guitar. Each of the two original tracks on the a-side is bursting with quality riffs that will destroy any feeble listeners  Interestingly enough, following a third original track,the record's b-side features a solid Burzum cover. To be honest, I didn't listen to Burzum very much when I first got into black metal, and I haven't given more than a few listens to any of his albums, but this well-executed cover definitely shows that Burzum's influence is greater than I might have realized and that I should really give it another chance. Just listen to this flawless rendition of "Jesus' Tod" and you'll understand.

Copies of this fierce black metal assault are still available for purchase from the label and come with a variety of bonuses, as pictured above. The record comes with a poster, a patch, and stickers, which further adds to the value of an already strong offering from a band with a lengthy catalog of high quality releases.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Imperial Stout (Moa Brewing Company)

To be honest, I'm surprised by this beer. Moa's a brewery based in New Zealand, a nation that I haven't exactly become acquainted with in terms of beer. After reviewing Blood of the Moon last week, I decided that if New Zealand's musical community was surprisingly awesome, perhaps their brews would be equally impressive. My hunch was absolutely correct.

Aged in oak pinot noir barrels, this beer has all of the bite one tends to expect from an imperial stout, with a noticeable hint of pinot's rich, dry sweetness. While it's unlikely you'll ever see a wine review in here (I can't really afford a thirty dollar per bottle habit), I do enjoy a good bottle or glass in my time, so it's nice to see pinot noir fused with a stout. Marrying two of my favorite alcoholic substances is something I often think of, but I've not experienced very many successful executions. Liquor barrels often make for good beers, but I can't think of another wine barrel aged beer that I've consumed in recent days. Inclusion of wine aside, even adventurous drinkers and lovers of stouts will enjoy this rich, fulfilling drink. It's got enough taste to set itself apart from the pack, yet enough of the trademarks of a good imperial stout to sit firmly with folks who aren't looking for something completely off the wall.

This beer is in stock pretty much year round, so I urge you readers to go find yourself a bottle wherever you're able. This may be my first beer from New Zealand, but I don't anticipate it will be my last. International readers, please send me information about some of your favorite local beers. I'd love to start documenting communities that are generally unheard of. Thanks for reading, cheers!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Grolsch Kanon (Grolsche Bierbrouwerij Ned.)

One of the few small unexpected perks that has come with running a blog about things I love is that sometimes I make contact with people who share my interests. One of the more surprising fellows with whom I've made acquaintance is actually a resident of Utrecht, Netherlands, and in addition to geeking out about music with each other, he's apparently a bit of a beer fanatic himself. When he offered to share some of his favorite regional beers, I couldn't deny myself the opportunity. The package took nearly three weeks to arrive, but it contained some music, a t-shirt, and two bottles of exotic and promising new beer. The music and the other bottle of beer will be covered soon, but I couldn't wait for the chance to talk about this one.

Examining the label, I'm instantly familiar with the Grolsch name due to their standard lighter fare available here in the states, but I'd neither seen nor heard of this beer before. While the color and the scent gave this drink the appearance of a standard pilsner or typical light beer, a sip changed my opinion instantly. What appeared to be an honest yet uninspired bottle of beer proved tastier and more surprising than some beers I'd spend decent money on here in the states. Maybe we're just too set on watering down our own drinks, but at 11.6% alcohol by volume and with a sweet, rich flavor, I'm kinda feeling disappointed in the overall beer climate here in the USA. Not that we're lost at sea or anything, but the swill we often sell and consider "ordinary" is really not that compelling when viewed in the same light as well-made beer like this.

I'm not sure how to recommend my readers obtain this beer, but if you're ever in the Netherlands or if you have the good fortune to arrange a beer trade with someone out that way, give this one a shot. The label and the initial impressions will almost trick you into thinking you don't have an extraordinary drink in your hands, but don't be fooled. Enjoy yourself.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Ash Borer- "Bloodlands" (Gilead Media/Psychic Violence)

One of the harder things I've been doing as a music writer is learning to set aside assumptions or previous bias when examining a new piece of music from a band. Some bands I once disliked have surprised me with their growth, and some bands I've loved have produced sour music that didn't quite sit well with me. While examining the new Ash Borer album, I found myself neither disappointed nor newly converted. Instead, Ash Borer simply created something that met my already high expectations while completely changing my understanding of their music and its purpose. To be honest, after multiple visits with the undulating menace of Bloodlands, I still feel like I haven't fully grasped this album, but I am totally okay with that. Rather than simply giving up the goods on the first listen or five, this album slowly unravels after multiple listens, growing richer and more haunting over time.

Each of the two tracks on this bleak voyage meander past the fifteen-minute mark, showcasing a tendency toward massive scale compositions rather than brief, easily digested songs. The length of the songs is nothing new for Ash Borer, but as with each previous release, the intention and direction has evolved with these tunes. Instead of basking in simplicity and repetition as many black metal bands might, Ash Borer set up two musical pieces that flow in movements, with variations and recurring themes that feel more like the work of a masterful storyteller than a standard heavy metal band. The dystopian soundscapes that Ash Borer travel through with this next step in their sonic evolution bring to mind works of terrifying visionaries Blut Aus Nord (especially some of the bleaker moments of The Work Which Transforms God) or the otherworldly sculptures of H.R. Giger rather than the simplistic fury of black metal's earliest pioneers.

The A-side of the record contains the song "Oblivion's Spring," a slithering creeper of a track that moves through some of the coldest sounds I've heard from this group, traveling in a sonic form that somewhat mimics the sidewinding shape of the album's cover artwork. In case my words haven't already made it clear, Ash Borer's music is so visual to me that I might even say it's a struggle for me to describe it in basic musical terms. Bloodlands is an album that is sensory on a level that defies mere sonic interpretation and often makes its way into categories of pure experience. The song takes its time building up a dreadful ambiance before kicking into anything resembling conventional metal, and it glides out of existence with an eerie denoument that will get plant itself in the deepest recesses of the listeners brain, only to be conjured up again as one struggles to find sleep. When the band isn't creating soundtracks to my deepest anxieties, they're throwing out some of their most compelling riffs to date, paired with stellar key lines that fuse with the guitars rather than fighting them for space. By the end of this fifteen minute journey, I feel as though I've traveled through and past the grave, into the cold light of eternity. The B-side contains two separate songs, "Dirge" and "Purgation", which are paired together as one monolithic piece nearly twenty minutes in length. If the first track wasn't exciting and challenging enough, the mid-paced nightmare presented on the B-side of this album is the aural equivalent of slowly having one's flesh peeled off, and should leave listeners feeling both delighted and possibly unsettled.

Bloodlands will be available for pre-order in the very near future from both Gilead Media and Psychic Violence. If the challenging statement of last year's Cold of Ages wasn't ambitious and dizzying enough, then Bloodlands should impress even the naysayers who would love to lump Ash Borer into some heap of generic USBM groups. While I hate making a judgment call this early in the year, expect this to receive serious love from myself and other music writers when we round up 2013's top releases, because I'm already hooked.

Friday, February 15, 2013

An Interview with Neal of Tollund Men

For the unfamiliar, Tollund Men is an entity that is hard to describe. Terms like minimal synth, post-punk,and darkwave get thrown around, but they really do no justice to the sounds that Tollund Men create. Mixing the fuzzed out bliss more commonly associated with black metal with the synth density and catchy hooks of new wave's darker acts, Tollund Men is a unique and fascinating project that appeals to pretty much everything I love in music. I recently had the opportunity to ask primary creative member Neal a few questions about Tollund Men's fantastic new cassette, his plans for the year to come, and the real story behind the band's name.

BMAB: Does the name of the band come from a personal anthropological interest in the Tollund Man? What was the catalyst for creating Tollund Men?
Neal: The Tollund Men moniker has caused some confusion. Because the project exists on the periphery of certain punk and metal scenes, I've had people assume that I got the name from the "Bog Bodies" series of cassettes primitive USBM duo Bone Awl released during the early-to-mid oughts. While I really love Bone Awl, getting to see them at a dive bar here in Denver around 2009, playing to an almost non-existent crowd and a smattering of irritated regular patrons, the truth is probably far less interesting. I was pursuing an English degree at the time. I was in a pretty standard (if not boring) British Literature course, when I discovered the Irish poet Seamus Heaney, who, not surprisingly, wrote a poem called "The Tollund Man." Heaney's message is socio-political in the end, but there are several themes that really speak to me--the depressing aspects to freedom, ritual meeting life and causing conflict, concepts of transgression and punishment, the past and present meeting in abstract ways. As for the "Men" instead of "Man," I just thought it was funny because I was the only one in the band. But mostly, it's just a name I picked for some shit I had been working on. 

What have been your primary influences as a musician and artist? Are these influences displayed in the upcoming album of covers and the previous covers you’ve already done, or do you try to pick things that would fall slightly outside of your typical style?
Influence is a very tenuous thing in music, especially now. I don't want to be viewed as a band that sounds like it's from the 80s, it just happens that a lot of the music that I like was made in the 80s! But that's one of the reasons I wanted to do this covers album. I wanted people to have a reference point and be able to see how Tollund Men is something new. I wanted to cover bands that listeners could make connections they normally wouldn't, who were maybe viewing it as some kind of darkwave/minimal band or whatever. Maybe it was set into peoples' minds with that first cover of "Goodbye Horses." Either way, I hope that people will hear our cover of a This Kind of Punishment song, or Halo of Flies, or Cybotron, or whatever, and be able to hear how the influences come out in different ways, that it's not just trying to sound like this band or that or this genre or that. I want to create something unique and forward thinking.

Your newest cassette is entitled Virbius Abstract. Is there a particular significance to this name? With the new release and your album of covers coming out soon, do you have tour plans in mind?
Virbius is a Roman forest god. His story is somewhat mixed with the Greek god Hippolytus, but the gist of it is: Virbius rejects the sexual advances of his stepmother, Phaedra. This makes her furious, so she tells his father, Theseus, that he raped her. Theseus spurns him by sending a wild bull to scare the horses of his chariot, dragging Virbius to his death. Each of the songs on the tape are loosely tied into this theme, making it an "Abstract." 
We are planning another small tour to the west coast this summer, probably only a week or two. We're just too fucking poor and nobody really gives a shit. 

What current artists have impressed you the most with their creative output lately?
There is kind of a running joke about how much Kevin and I like Crazy Spirit. But yeah, they're pretty cool. We've never even seen them. When we went on tour last summer, we taped a piece of paper to the front of the keyboard that said "Crazy Spirit Rules." Maybe it was with a "z." Anyway, it was sort of an inside joke. There's this video of the really amazing band Factrix, and on their keyboard is a sticker that says "Flipper Rules." We were thinking we should pay homage to a band like that. It's pretty absurd that we'd be the Factrix and Crazy Spirit would be Flipper in that scenario; it's funny. But we're both into a bunch of stuff. Right now, newer stuff I'm into is like Cut Hands, Circle of Ouroborus, Dominic Fernow stuff, Stare Case, I don't know, just all the cool shit. 

If you had your way, what would the coming year look like for Tollund Men? More albums? Tours? Peace and quiet from nosy writers like myself?
I'm trying to release about eight more things in the coming year or two and compile the singles onto one LP, and hopefully another full length shortly thereafter. We'll see. If anyone wants to hook us up with tour money we'd take it. Thanks to everyone who has supported this project. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Blood of the Moon- "MMXII" CS (Wohrt Records)

Tampa-based Wohrt Records has been a source of surprise and inspiration to me for the past couple of years in which I've resided here. Wohrt frequently releases music by bands I've never heard of who manage to completely annihilate most of the competition. Blood of the Moon are a self-described Heathen Horde from New Zealand, and this short yet brutal demo is no exception to the tradition of quality that Wohrt has established. In a genre where original names are running short, the band's name alone manages to evoke an ominous image, and the music presented within absolutely fits the bill.

This cassette holds three tracks, one of which is an introduction. The introductory track alone captivates me as a listener, with some of the coldest riffs I've heard in a while setting the pace for the brief onslaught to come. The first full track, "Conquered and Forgotten," (perhaps a nod to the mighty Judas Iscariot?) is the aural equivalent of pure punishment. This song is a perfect sonic representation of both the ultimate chaos of war as well as the torture often received by prisoners of war. Many black metal bands play with imagery of war, torture, and the like, but few bands can actually capture the haunting essence of the battlefield and the horror of man killing man, but Blood of the Moon have successfully created a sense of fear, terror, and hatred that takes my mind to darker places than my own eyes have seen. The closer, "Desecrate Upon Thee" carves itself into the listener's ear with equal brutality and skill. I've been nodding along the whole time while writing this review, and on all prior listens. I know of few bands from New Zealand, but all of them are worthy forces. I feel that Blood of the Moon is in good company then, as they've already earned my respect with this brief offering of hatred and venom.

Wohrt has initially released this in a batch of 100 cassettes, with the first twenty containing a back patch and the remaining 80 containing standard sized patches, all of which are beautifully crafted. Much of the stock remains at the time of this publication and I urge my readers to obtain this cassette while Blood of the Moon is still a young force. I imagine that in years to come this release will grow in value and become a valuable collector's item.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Blood Stone Sacrifice- "Cult of the Serpent Sun" (Self-Released)

When reviewing an album like Cult of the Serpent Sun, I tend to start asking myself questions before I listen to it. My first (incorrect) assumption was that this album was going to be some sort of At the Gates worship in the vein of almost every metalcore release between 2001 and 2005. I'm relieved that the similarity is in title alone and not in some sort of sonic theft, although I'm curious if this is meant to be a concept album or if it's just got an ominous title and artwork that hold together a collection of independent songs. I've long been a fan of the imagery and history of plague doctors, so seeing them featured predominantly here has my mind abuzz with possibility.

With my anticipation set on high just from the art (and potential concept) alone, I give the music a listen. What Blood Stone Sacrifice present here is well-executed, fiendishly-paced black metal. Knowing that this album is essentially the brainchild of two people makes sense. Every riff and every section of every song on this album is good and I can nod my head along, but I personally would like to see a little more variation here. Outside of this recording, Blood Stone Sacrifice has a full live lineup, including a real drummer as opposed to the programmed drums featured on this recording, and I wonder how that impacts their sound. All the components of solid enjoyable black metal are present, I'd just like to see the execution taken a step or two farther. I'm especially intrigued by the closing track on this album, "Vermin," as the opening riff instantly caught my attention. I want to hear what these guys can come up with next, because this sounds like a solid, honest recording from a band who is nearing a full sound. The guitar tone mimics the classic Darkthrone sound and the vocals are nice and filthy, so all that's left is a little more spice and I can see these guys really impressing me next time around.

If you want to get on the Blood Stone Sacrifice train while they're hot, check this album out on their bandcamp for only $2.50 or you can contact the band through their facebook page to place an order for a physical copy.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Batch 69 Double Cream Ale (Cigar City)

As a Tampa resident, I often get to enjoy many rare and fantastic beers that those outside of my area can't easily obtain. While I know that local brewery Cigar City is rapidly making a name for itself within the craft beer community, I'm not sure how easy it is to find some of their special releases like this. I feel quite fortunate to live nearby, as this American strong ale is mighty delicious.

While similar in color and body to many IPAs, this beer has less of a hoppy bite and more of the light citrus flavor that is characteristic of the style. This beer isn't an IPA though, so there are a few other qualities that distinguish this from some of its hoppy cousins. There's a noticeable sweetness here, with hints of cantaloupe and vanilla playing on my tongue to balance out some of the lighter characteristics that I'm less fond of. This beer has the sweet maltiness of my favorite dark beers but with a drinkability that is generally reserved for lighter ales. This beer could easily bridge the gap in drinking habits for fans of dark and light beers alike.

While you may have to hunt a bit to find this amusingly named brew, it's worth every second (and penny) you spend obtaining it. Grab a bottle while they last, I'm not sure how long you can find this treat.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Terrible Belgian Strong Ale (Unibroue)

Those who've perused my blog with any frequency may have noticed I enjoy Unibroue's beers. While I don't really establish "favorites," this brewery has certainly earned a warm spot in my heart. This is a year-round release that I've eyeballed for the past year and a half but haven't had the nerve to try. Running this blog has given me the excuse to try all sorts of tantalizing beverages that I'd have barely glanced at in the past, and this beer has been at the top of my "must try" list since I created the blog.

In many ways, Terrible does remind me of both the Trois Pistoles and their stellar Vintage Ale for Trader Joe's, but it does distinguish itself from each. The aroma is sweeter and smoother than the other two and my initial sip was full bodied with a heavy taste of honey and perhaps a hint of grape. The fruity flavors are pouring out with each sip of this beer, but it's dark and heavy enough to keep it from feeling wimpy or light. Instead it carries a heavy wine-like flavor that works very nicely for this style. At 10.5% ABV, it's got a high enough alcohol content to justify sharing with friends, but doesn't have any sort of alcoholic burn. This is certainly not a beginner's beer, but newer beer geeks with an open mind will take to this with great ease. I've always felt Belgian and Belgian-styled ales are the best introduction to beer for newer palates, and this beer might be one of the finest examples I've tried in quite a while.

If you're reading this review, chances are you've already had this beer at some point in your life, but you should probably try it again. If you haven't yet had it, go visit your local craft beer retailer and get your hands on this beast. It's anything but terrible, trust me.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sloth Herder- "Abandon Pop Sensibility" (Self-Released)

Sloth Herder are a blackened grind outfit from Maryland and Pennsylvania, whose name is as amusing as their music is heavy. You may notice I don't post much grind or many variations on it. I'm not sure why that is, but these days I'm just not finding too many fast-paced bands that really impress me. That said, Sloth Herder have my full attention with this ferocious release.

This album is aggressive in a wild way. Most bands with an introductory track will use it to lure the listener into a false sense of safety or just to build up. Sloth Herder's intro track bludgeons with style, just as much as any of the other tracks on this meaty album.  It's slightly slower, but equally heavy to the rest of the album in its own way. As soon as the first "proper" track kicks in, the album sets a breakneck pace with plenty of solid sections for the required amount of headbanging on an album like this. I'm also really glad to actually hear the bassist in the mix, as that's a piece of the puzzle that often gets blended into the rest of the music in a lot of metal albums. I can distinguish each instrument, and I can feel the tension, as if Sloth Herder are collectively holding each other back from jumping into the audience and attacking. It's nice to see bands building intensity without just letting loose one hundred percent of the time, and Sloth Herder seem to have a stellar balance. The music's always fast and heavy, but there's just enough restraint to keep it interesting. Excess for excess's sake does no good for anybody, and it's apparent that Sloth Herder got the memo. The balance of sounds on this album works perfectly and even satisfies my ears, despite my general apathy towards grind and similar genres. Good work gents.

I'm not currently aware of a link for physical purchase, but you can pay the amount you see fit on their bandcamp page. Download this rager today and impress all your friends.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tarantulah- "Kedamaian Jalan Hitam" (Self-Released Demo)

Today's submission is a slab of hideous and bizarre death-influenced black metal from Malaysia. Tarantulah sent me an email with the demo explaining that it was raw, but even the word raw doesn't do this justice. It doesn't sound unfinished or amateur, it's just that raw doesn't quite sum it up. This is raw, but focused. Tarantulah sound as though they've appeared from another dimension to bludgeon the skulls of the weak. There's something so unconventional here, even for extreme music, that I can't quite put my finger on it.

The clarity of the samples leading into each track tell me that the fuzz here is intentional, and the dense production certainly works well with some of the groovier tracks. I think my favorite thing about this demo is the vocals. For the majority of this demo, they sound more like otherworldly chants than actual human shrieks or yells. While I wouldn't exactly liken this to Inquisition, they share a similar bond of unearthly vocals that defy conventional description. While I would like to see a slightly cleaner mix on this release, I'm still quite intrigued by the dense filth that Tarantulah have created here and I'd love to hear more from them in the future to see where they take this compelling sound on their next releases.

Tarantulah has given me permission to share this demo with the internet, so here's the first official BMAB created free download. Get it while it's hot.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Beer Review: Dogfish Head's Raison D'Etre

The bottle of this beer says that it was brewed with (among other things) a sense of purpose. For a brewery as well-known and popular as Dogfish Head, it goes without saying that each of their beers taste as if they were brewed purposefully. As with most of their beers, this tasty brew meets the high expectations I hold for Dogfish Head.

Upon my first pour (and brief examination of the bottle) I expected that this would be a slightly sweet version of a brown ale. Sniffing and sipping proved this assumption wrong. Much to my delight, this drinks like it's got some Belgian influence going on and has a rather noticeable flavor of raisins. The head was almost nonexistent when I poured myself a glass, but it grew over the following twenty seconds, with champagne-like trails of bubbles feeding a light foaminess to the top. There's also a light prune-ish flavor, but it's a really good thing. I mean, prunes aren't bad to me but they seem to get a really bad reputation that they don't deserve. Any beer that reminds me of sweet and rich fruits is fine by me.

I'm not sure if there's a seasonal restriction to this one, as this is the first bottle I've ever had, but I encourage you to grab a bottle for yourself if you're looking for a tasty new experience. I sometimes have a hard time breaking away from my standard pattern of stouts, porters, and Belgian ales, so it's refreshing to try something new and find out that it still perfectly suits my mood.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Project:Void- "The Anthropogenic Process" CD-r (badGod Music)

February 19th will mark the release of Project:Void's badGod Music debut, "The Anthropogenic Process." This album's been in my periphery for a hot minute, as it was initially released on cassette on Crucial Blast and I'd looked up the album once or twice for my own consideration. Sitting down to listen to this entire piece of filth and perusing a sample track are two very different experiences. For purposes of sheer intensity and chaos, this is one of the loudest, most overwhelming and busy albums I've heard in a while. This isn't the harshest noise, and it's not the densest, but the atmosphere here is nothing but terror.

My initial reaction to this album was akin to my earliest experiences with groups like Stalaggh. It's so foreign and dissonant that it barely resembles music, yet it inspires my curiosity. The musical structure is nebulous and unconventional, even for noise. This violent black industrial nightmare is one of the most relentless pieces of music I've heard in quite some time. Save for a moment of "soft" keys opening up "Praey," there's not a single safe place to burrow in and weather this storm. While the image itself is quite dated, this makes me think of the futuristic killing fields from the old Terminator films. The occasional programmed percussion and sounds of synthesizers or heavy machinery integrate nicely into oscillating noises and screams of madness. Mechanical horror and destruction roll right over anything that could have felt human or familiar in this recording, which seems to be exactly what Project:Void has in mind. While albums without hope or peace are quite commonplace on this blog, this one still manages to stand out. Every single burst of noise could be described as a barrage. The true strength of this album is that there is no middle ground. I think it's safe to say that it's impossible to remain ambivalent to this album. Many noise artists create enough safe territory for people to "tolerate" or "kinda get it." This album is the sonic equivalent of a battlefield. You either survive this album, or you don't. While such a divisive approach may not be viewed as wise in most genres of music, anyone who can handle this monstrosity with sanity intact will likely be a dedicated listener for future releases.

This album will be limited to 100 copies on CD-r, with a very special limited package of 25 CD-r/shirt bundles. If you're interested in obtaining this album digitally, be warned that you'll be missing out on the last three tracks of the album, so taking the extra moment to purchase the album in full is quite the wise choice.  Fans of power electronics and harsh industrial noise, brace yourselves; this release is sure to leave a dark mark in the recesses of your mind.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Music Review: Slægt- 2012 Demo (Rosensort)

I obtained Slægt's demo as a happy accident of sorts in late 2012, but am just now really getting the chance to study and enjoy it. I'd heard the band before and had enjoyed what I'd heard, but initially wrote it off in the sea of bands I was encountering and enjoying around the time this blog really started to pick up for me. When this demo showed up in the mail, I listened to it once, enjoyed it, and forgot about it. Shame on me. About a week ago, I made it a project to review every tape and record I own so that I might be able to really categorize and identify which albums I needed to review soonest. This one immediately stood out. It's been the soundtrack to a few homework sessions in the past week, and I couldn't be more thrilled.

Slægt is a one-man Danish black metal group which tears each song to shreds with an urgency I haven't heard in ages. The vocals are either filtered or heavily distorted in some way, but they still manage to break through whatever barrier is between them and the listeners. The drumming is steady and aggressive. While it maintains a solid pace, I feel like the music is constantly speeding up just because of the intensity of the whole experience. The riffs manage to retain a heavily melodic texture while pummeling the listener at the same time. I'm always impressed when bands retain a strong sense of melody while tearing my eardrums out, and Slægt have demonstrated an extraordinary skill with this sonic set. The demo is relatively short, with just four tracks, but I can flip this tape over multiple times on end and enjoy it from start to finish without issue. In fact, many of my favorite albums are short but memorable. This demo absolutely fits into that category.

While I'm not sure how to obtain this demo anymore, I'd keep an eye on discogs for copies of it. The original demo was limited to 25 and came with green album artwork, but it's selling for pretty hefty prices. The white copies (like the one I've got) were limited to 100, so you might find a better price and opportunity if you're hunting for one of those. Regardless, Slægt is a group that should be on your radar. I expect big things from them in 2013.