Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Song Premiere: Venowl & Auditor- "Mounds of Scorched Teeth (Unmastered)"

I feel like I'm constantly having firsts here on this site. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do, because today's first is something I'm used to seeing only on more prominent sites. I have the first available track from the impending release from Venowl & Auditor entitled Acid Revealing Open Wounds. This release showcases some rather new territory for Venowl, who do seem to benefit from rising to the challenge of working with others. When they force their churning noise through the paradigm of another artist, they expand in new directions. Auditor's contributions to this release manifest as a sort of tension, something reeling in Venowl's typically rabid sound and forcing it along a newer path. While this isn't nearly as painful as having teeth burnt out of my skull, these guys continue to create sounds that walk the masochistic line between enjoyable and hideous in all the best ways. The crawling horror of Venowl is slow and meticulous, with loose arrangements allowing for Auditor to fill in the gaps with bursts of noise, melody, and everything in between. About halfway through, things become truly deconstructed and it almost feels like witnessing people being torn apart. Those who have enjoyed previous works from Venowl or Auditor's former project, Iron Forest, should know what to expect, although there are a few surprises hidden in the murk.

Unmastered copies of this CD will be sold in a specially packaged edition at Venowl & Auditor's upcoming show opening for Wreck and Reference in Chicago. Fully mastered audio will be available on a separate release later this year from Altar of Waste paired with a bonus disc of unreleased material from Venowl. For now, enjoy the first of this album's two tracks, "Mounds of Scorched Teeth."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Yellow Eyes- "Hammer of Night" CS (Sibir Records)

When I heard that the mighty Yellow Eyes would be unleashing a new album, it was a given that it would eventually make its way onto this site. I'm delighted to say that these dudes are continuing their trend of being great musicians with this release, which is being released by their own new label, Sibir Records. Aside from the standard edition tape, there's an incredible wooden box edition (pictured in this review) available, which was so popular that they had to make a second run of it.

Yellow Eyes' progression musically has always been subtle, but with each release their sound has grown more fully formed and is now as well arranged as it is still urgent and challenging. I've heard some folks throw out lazy comparisons for these guys, but I feel they've crafted their own little subcategory of black metal that is unique and recognizable without outside context. The album opens similarly to their demo, with an ambient sound collage of sorts to create an atmosphere, but it's instantly apparent that things are crisper and more coordinated here than with previous outings. The music still retains its heavily textured and dense feeling but I can more easily separate the instruments from each other and the vocals feel more gnarled in the traditional black metal vein. While few riffs hop out of place anymore, the music is instead angular and distorted while it flows on a somewhat unpredictable path. Still, the music flows so naturally that I can't imagine the songs taking on another direction. What Yellow Eyes do that constantly impresses me is maintaining overtly melodic and tonal songs without sacrificing intensity or atmosphere. I can almost feel myself running through a snowy forest in the dead of night only to find a final place to curl up and die in solitude. The lyrical content's decidedly wretched nature only serves to amplify the coldness of the music, yet I feel more catharsis than wallowing or misery in the songs. This album truly displays the strength of well-made black metal that can and should bring in fans of most subcategories of the genre and serves as one of the genre's high water marks for the year to date. Highlights include the gripping opener "Light Has Fallen" and the instantly memorable "Many Long Fingers Bent In Pain," although no track on this album is lacking. If anything, I look forward to whatever Yellow Eyes' next progression will sound like.

Order copies of this from the label while they're still available, especially if the gorgeous wooden box set is still in stock. It's worth every penny and I promise you'll have a hard time swapping this tape out for anything else for quite some time.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Paramnesia- "Ce Que Dit La Bouche D'Ombre" CD-r (Self-Released)

Here's another post about a band that caught me off guard. I make a lot of these, because apparently most of the bands that are really shaking things up are interested in contacting me but aren't being discussed by my friends. So, meet Paramnesia, an engaging and incredible French black metal group. I received an email from a member of the band politely requesting that I listen to his music, and I'm thrilled I paid attention.

While there's a slight language barrier in our communications, I believe this album was written and recorded in a three day period. These two tracks are each fully formed journeys through territory that bring to mind tracks from equally crushing groups like Deathspell Omega or The Great Old Ones, both of whom also happen to be from France. It's definitely safe to say that French (and French Canadian) bands have frequently been among my favorites, so I'm pleased to see that Paramnesia are carrying the torch. While elements of shoegaze and doom weigh heavily in this music, atmospheric black metal is the primary focus here, and Paramnesia seldom stray into territory that would disappoint purists. Guitars weave textures and melodies more than riffs, while the drums and vocals accent the overall bleakness of the music without any one musician forcing the others out of the spotlight. The coordination here is really something to notice, especially if this album was churned out in such a rapid fashion.

Copies of this brilliant release are available from Paramnesia's bandcamp page, and feature stellar artwork from Business For Satan. Grab this while you can and prepare for the next offering, which the band has indicated will draw influences from groups like Paysage d'Hiver and Leviathan.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Morthylla- "Morthylla" CS (Self-Released)

I often find myself feeling like I hear about new music after most of my friends and music-loving online contacts have already discovered it. For once, I've been lucky enough to catch a highly promising new act from pretty much the first moment of its ascent. Morthylla appeared pretty much out of nowhere with this spectacular five song demo tape. Despite their relative freshness, they're already churning out tunes that place them among the top new black metal acts I've heard this year. With even distribution of duties, this two-piece have enough creative fury to put most full live acts to shame.

The album begins with "Sussurans de Lamia," a track which kicks off with one of the catchiest riffs I've heard in ages only to plod on into a classic mid-paced black metal section. The whole album is filled with some of the most straight up anguished screams I've heard to date, and while they do play with reverb a bit, it's not to a criminal degree. Everything here fits my ideal production criteria, with just enough clarity to enjoy the music and just enough murky nastiness to keep things raw and pure feeling. While the album's centerpiece is essentially a sample, the four tracks that surround it are solid enough to make up for the relatively minimal amount of music here. If you enjoy your black metal in slower, somber forms without allowing it to stoop to so many of the cheesy DSBM cliches, this album should be highly appealing. The riffs have enough motion to keep the songs fresh yet they linger long enough to be memorable.

Aside from being a killer tape from a promising new band, this album also stands as the first release from a coalition of bands known as Antilight. Antilight groups are dissatisfied with the current state of black metal and are seeking to remedy this issue by creating music they feel better represents black metal's desired direction. Whether you agree with Antilight's purpose or you feel black metal is currently a blossoming community, it's pretty obvious that this album is raising the bar for releases in 2013. This tape is currently sold out in the limited box-set edition pictured here, but will be released in standard cassette format with 200 copies from Schattenkult Produktionen some time very soon. Check here for details to come as they are announced.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Youth Code - "Demonstrational Cassette"

I feel if I were to say that I was hooked on this band from the first minute of the first track it would come off trite, yet here I am, going to tell it to you regardless: I was hooked within the first minute of the first track. Granted, there is the rest of the demo to attend to but Los Angeles's Youth Code manage to set the bar rather high from the onset, maintaining this energy throughout the remaining three tracks. I'd be remiss if I failed to mention the nostalgic quality I perceive in their music and I think others in their late 20s might understand why as Youth Code's music is undoubtedly industrial, with a martial yet danceable quality that, for me, harkens back to acts like KMFDM and Psyclon Nine. Hello, high-school Julio. Consisting of Ryan William George and Sara Taylor, Youth Code's beats are infectious and abrasive and perfectly complemented by harsh, altered vocals; the sum of all this resulting in a declaration of goddamnit, I just want to dance! The aggression in their music further amplifies the catchiness of the production.

Unfortunately the tape in review is sold out however they do have a new 7" available that is down to the last 30 copies on last I checked. I really look forward to what Youth Code put out next and would love to see them live so I can strut out into the club wearing sunglasses and all-black everything. See you on the dance-floor.

Review contributed by Julio Espin