You are not what you own

•August 20, 2014 • 3 Comments

Happy Wednesday friends! 2 new reviews this week for something new to ponder. 2 things this week. First the topic. “You are not what you own” so poignantly penned on Fugazi’s Repeater. A statement against consumerism that rings true as a harsh reality. As I listened to that album this evening and heard that chorus, it made me think about my music collection and how I value it. I have been a metal collector since my teens. Unapologetic. I find buying new music to be comforting and possessing a big collection to be rewarding when sharing with friends. It made me think about being a metalhead… again… unapologetic till the end, but Ian MacKaye made me think about the things I have surrounded myself with. Does it define me? Does it define you?

Secondly… Some of you may know that I own/run/co-own Bindrune and Eihwaz Recordings with fellow Worm overlord, Jim Clifton.

Last week we launched a free/donate what you want compilation via bandcamp featuring new and relatively new tracks from many talented artists on both labels’ growing rosters. This also includes a non album/exclusive track by Nechochwen. A lot of good stuff here for you to check out and I’d like to take this moment to encourage all of you to go stream the comp and download it if you like. Our gift to all of you. Thanks for the support!

Until next time, share your thoughts and your playlists! Take care. -Marty

Jim Clifton
Brimstone Coven – s/t
Falls of Rauros – Believe in No Coming Shore
Endlichkeit III–V
Horrendous – Ecdysis
Dissection – Storm of the Light’s Bane
Possessed – Seven Churches
Motorhead – Bomber
Horn – Naturmacht
Bolt Thrower – For Victory
Darkthrone – Plaguewielder

Marty Rytkonen Playlist
Untamed and Eternal (Bindrune Compilation)
Ulver – Vargnatt
Ulver – Bergtatt
Ulver – Natten Madrigal
Algaion -Oimai Algeiou (thanks for the reminder Unaerth! Haven’t spun these guys in some time. Was a nice reminder how awesome they are!)
Algaion – Vox Clamentis
Falls of Rauros – Believe in No Coming Shore
Fugazi – Repeater
Brimstone Coven – S/T
Vallenfyre – Splinters

Act of Impalement – Echoes of Wrath / Hyperborean Altar (demo compilation)

•August 20, 2014 • Leave a Comment

ActOfImpalement (200x200)Caligari Records continues its cassette assault upon the underground with a demo compilation from Nashville, Tennesee’s Act of Impalement, a trio with ears open to what has worked in doom/death’s slow-to-mid-paced past and the minds to lash it all together effectively for the present. Imagine a ‘Morbid Tales’-era Tom Warrior employing a Boss HM-2 instead of a tube screamer over-drive pedal, and you’ll get an idea of not only the thick and persistent guitar tone, but also the well-worn songwriting style that hasn’t lost its decayed-flesh luster over the last three decades. Act of Impalement aren’t writing new manuals for the modern extreme metal minion to find guidance, but that’s just fine; the band’s amalgam of early Celtic Frost/Hellhammer (heard somewhat more on ‘Hyperborean Altar’) and ‘90s OSDM remains infectious and engaging throughout both sides of the tape. ‘Teutoburg Forest’ will blissfully carry those in the know back ‘To Mega Therion’s more nightmarish, slow doom-ridden moments, with bends and fourths a-plenty augmenting the evil pouring forth from your speakers, while the latter half of opening track ‘Echoes of War’ has the sound of a baked-in-the-sun ‘Left Hand Path’ LP. All the while, vocalist Dark Druid’s blend of LG Petrov cadence, NYDM-style low roars, and the throat-shredding capabilities of a young John Tardy keep the dirges moving along with an intensity that matches, and in some moments even surpasses some of their blast-beating brethren. A worthy addition to your rectangle-shaped physical audio collection. -Jim

Caligari Records

Woodtemple – Forgotten Pride

•August 20, 2014 • 1 Comment

woodtempleI’ve had a love hate relationship with Woodtemple since this project first surfaced in 1998. On one hand, I love Aramath’s lofty vision for the music he creates. Synthetic choirs, voice synth tones and generally a fair amount of atmosphere permeates all of his releases (Sorrow of the Wind being my favorite), but the reality remaining on the other hand, is the fact he has been crushing hard on Rob Darken musically, ideologically and just about in every other aspect you can imagine since this project began. Aramath is essentially Darken’s winter-swept Krampus when it’s time to Larp it up. They practice their sword moves together. They are the stoic warrior duo in their pagan metal selfie time. Hell, they probably complete each others sentences by now. It’s actually quite cute. So it’s no surprise that Woodtemple’s affinity for the Graveland musical aesthetic remains unfaltering on Forgotten Pride, Aramath’s 5th album.

One typically gives a band a bit of leeway when it comes to their early works. OK… this sounds like Graveland. No problem. He’ll figure it out and move on. As Woodtemple’s journey unfolds, instead of figuring it out and finding his own voice, Aramath has actually fallen deeper into his Graveland worship. Instead of hearing what’s going on and saying, “Cool bro. I appreciate the sonic high five, but you’re kinda cheapening my buzz”, Darken joins the band. Even though he’s not in the pic that accompanied this promo, he has had a hand in shaping this material. The plodding drums sound kinda real, but the atypical programming gives it away as being fake, acting more as an ongoing guitar riff than a time keeper, mirroring the 2nd half of Darken’s post Capricornus musical career verbatim. The riffs are airy and barren, buzzing forth just the right combination of melody, triumph and war influenced black metal ala that Viking era Bathory nod of respect. It does all work together quite well, other than the production on Forgotten Pride is too clean and it restricts the instruments from uniting in a distorted nebulous fury that really needs to be there to help this material and sound gel. The harshest element in this music is Aramanth’s blazing hell vocals, which find a slightly higher register to dominate, though simply sound like a younger Darken screaming out on classics like In the Glare of The Burning Church or Celtic Winter. As the album plods on, the lack of variation becomes tiring and “heard it all before” because yes … you fucking have! Repeatedly!

The bottom line is, I tend to tolerate, and at times have even liked Woodtemple, because I really enjoy Graveland. Sure there may be a veiled and minute compliment in there somewhere, but the fact that this project refuses to accept its influences and evolve with a more individualistic voice all his own, is really quite sad. Forgotten Pride is about as close of a clone to Graveland as you’re going to get, but the quality of this material isn’t as proud of a statement, or dense, or vibrant as Graveland. Let the pagan metal completists have their fun with this one, but count me out of the collector mentality from here on out when it comes to Woodtemple – unless he can come back with more conviction or something that at least tries to stand on it’s own merit. -Marty

Sacrilege Records


Until only ashes circle around the moon

•August 13, 2014 • 5 Comments

Back in the Worm Gear haven, away from the autumn winds already returning after this short and cold summer, worn down in mind and body from the past few months of toil in the crunch months of a tourist economy, anticipating a few more hours of sleep, and all I can do at this moment is appreciate this quiet moment to discuss and listen to music I love with good friends. If we have a question for you this week, it’s this: What’s the real value of this music to you? What does it help you deal with? How does it inspire you? Is it something that brings you together with others, provides a private moment for contemplation or escape, or some combination? Let us know, and thanks for reading. -Jake

Jake Moran Playlist
Tempestuous Fall – The Stars Would Not Awake You
Blood and Sun – White Storms Fall
Endlichkeit – I-II
Endlichkeit – III-V
Grouper – Hold / Sick
Obsequiae – Demo
Unwilling Flesh – Between the Living and the Dead (promo)
Gehenna – First Spell
Hades – Alone Walkyng
Katatonia – Dance of December Souls

Jim Clifton Playlist
Spectral Lore/Nachtreich – The Quivering Lights split LP (pre-master)
Coldfells – s/t (demo)
Dead Register – TRVNS BLVK (demo)
Agalloch – The Serpent & The Sphere
Shards of Humanity – Fractured Frequencies
Loudblast – Burial Ground
Darkest Era – Severance
A Tribe Called Quest – Anthology
Blaze Foley – The Dawg Years (1975-1978)
Reverorum ib Malacht – De Mysteriis Dom Christii

Marty Rytkonen PLaylist
Brimstone Coven – S/T
Horrendous – Ecdysis
Unwilling Flesh – Between the Living and the Dead
My Dying Bride – As The Flower Withers
My Dying Bride – A Map of All our Failures
Falls of Rauros – Believe in no Coming Shore
Nachtreich/Spectral Lore – The Quivering Lights Split LP pre-master
White Medal – Yorkshire Steel
White Medal – Guthmers Hahl
Wodensthrone – Curse

Horrendous – Ecdysis

•August 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

horrendousWhere the excellently written debut, “The Chills”, placed this East Coast kill unit on the map with traditional, though endlessly intelligent death metal, Horrendous have bravely stepped into an elevated realm of evolution on Ecdysis. Lurking within the 10 roller coaster tracks comprising this album, is a desire to incorporate more of “everything” good and essential found within the death metal fire storm. Really deep traditional metal influences can be found in the song structures and impressive solo work, and this element alone has greatly increased the level of feeling and passion in their music. A progressive metal strand can be felt with technical tendrils coiling throughout the guitar work in the form of open minded, note oriented riffs. Excellent tempo variations hurl this material at the listener, and even though the Becerra (Possessed) influenced vocal drawl remains the one true link to Horrendous’ past efforts, this band’s journey has risen beyond Seven Churches, to embrace the thrashier elements and odd structures of Beyond the Gates, but Horrendous have done so with their own superior death metal tone and keen sense of songsmithing. Having only had the time to sit with this album for a few days, the songs continue to unlock many surprises and yes, a few challenges. Tracks like Resonator feel almost linear in their structure with little or no riffs repeating themselves. Instead, Horrendous keep piling on the ghastly layers with inventive/perplexing guitar harmonies and the feeling of the unknown when it comes to their vision for this album. I love the challenge and Horrendous have constructed a devious monster of a death metal album that will keep you guessing, keep you immersed and most importantly, keep you wanting more. Ecdysis may be a tough egg to crack for those of you more suited to pop structured death metal, but this album unveils so much musical and metal maturity, it’s damn near impossible not to be impressed and even a bit blown away by the high brow hammering awaiting you. Great production. Crushing vocals. Headbanging death riffs that harken back to DM’s formative and meaningful years. Fuck yes. -Marty
Dark Descent Records

Northern Oak – Of Roots and Flesh

•August 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

northernoakProgressive and blackened folk metal is quite often found and heralded in countries like Ukraine and the like, but jolly old England in the past has its share of bands and tends to gravitate towards the more commercial and fruity side of the genre. I think it’s proper to blame Skyclad for this, wouldn’t you agree? With this in mind, I was pleasantly surprised that Sheffield’s Northern Oak keep the in-key frolicking to a low roar and tasteful on their self financed 3rd album. The blackened side of their sound is in full effect on Of Roots and Flesh. With a harshly black vocal standard leading the charge, the riffs remain dissonant in their melodious march, yet full of purpose and memorable hooks that follow Medieval folk path in terms of melody. The guitars act as the meat of songs like The Dark Midsummer, while a solitary flute carries the melody lines over the metal wreckage. As the album unfolds, violins, acoustic guitars, synths and other commonly used “traditional” instruments in the folk metal field surface and do help to inject a nice eclectic aura into the bulk of this album. Yes at times there is an slightly noticeable level of cheese that can drift into segments of this music, which is hard to avoid for bands that utilize higher levels of melody, but to their credit, Northern Oak maintains that harsh vocal presence and solid guitar riffs to keep just the right level of melancholy where the more upbeat musical passages didn’t completely bother me. Melody and adventurous song structures are the driving force behind the formula set forth by Northern Oak, and even though such a light hearted atmosphere is something that appeals to me infrequently, Northern Oak are masters of their craft and have presented a fine balance between the darkness and a spirited trip back into their musical culture. A very talented band. It surprises me that a bigger label hasn’t snatched them up yet. -Marty

Panopticon – Roads To The North

•August 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

a1750879016_10For an album ostensibly taking as its lodestar such traditionally-expected-in-black-metal concepts as winter and the general direction of North, Roads To The North could be a remarkably surprising album to a listener unfamiliar with the steadily growing artistic output of Austin Lunn. Not at first though: the first sounds one hears on this release are samples of a foreboding wind, the distant and trembling howls of wolves, and the trudge, soon to break into a run, of a solitary walker through the snow, and they’re quickly followed by Lunn’s frantic, blasting drum-work, and a pair of interwoven tremolo melodies vying for space with a triumphant fiddle (courtesy of Johan Becker), in a style you might expect to hear on a Forteresse album. So far so conventional, although excellently composed either way, but Lunn quickly makes it clear that the Norwegian tribute of the split with Fall of Rauros began and ended there, and he does this with something that’s both new to Panopticon’s sound and relatively absent from the current “underground” metal landscape: a complex, punchy, melodic riff in the vein of At The Gates’ Slaughter of the Soul and other associated melodic death metal albums (Hypocrite frequently came to mind during my own listens of the album).

Now, you might be raising your proverbial eyebrows if you haven’t read the many other reviews written long before this one that have already made a point of noticing and praising this element of Roads To The North (at least, when they aren’t drawing comparisons as ridiculous and ill-informed as Earth Crisis or Shai Hulud). This may seem a little odd, as the Gothenburg sound is a horse that died near instantaneously after birth, and it’s been beaten into an unrecognizable pulp of sugary hooks and metalcore appropriation long since then. Its presence in the sound of a band associated with black metal would usually amass ridicule at best, even for a band with an appeal as far ranging as Panopticon. I think it’s significant that it doesn’t in this case, and I’d like to suggest a few reasons why:

  • Not all melodic death metal is the sort of pre-packaged Wacken drivel locked to the barren teats of Slaughter of the Soul or In Flames’ later output, and Lunn, to my ears, is drawing from a lot of the more vibrant and creative history of the sound (see: Eucharist, Ablaze My Sorrow, A Canorous Quintet, or the aforementioned Hypocrite, and keep in mind that this style of riff writing isn’t exclusive to melodic death metal either. Also, as much as I’d rather not admit it, there’s almost certainly some Reinkaos in there as well).
  • The saturation of this particular genre is long over, and I imagine that for those who are tired of retro thrash and old-school death metal and whatever other else the metal world has been gorging itself on for the last few years are likely ready for something different by now.
  • It doesn’t really matter.

I’ll clarify that last statement, because it gets to the heart of why I love this album so much, as well as why I find a lot of the discussion about it I’ve encountered online to be fairly tiresome. As with just about every Panopticon release, Roads to the North draws from an eclectic pool of techniques: bluegrass and Appalachian folk, black metal, melodic death metal, post metal (translation: I don’t really know!), post rock, and other arbitrary terms you may as well draw at random from a hat. What makes all this significant isn’t the novelty factor, though that’s perhaps what catches attention most easily, it’s the relentless force of passion and knowledge of musical craft that melds and forges all of these elements into a cohesive whole, and Roads To The North, more so than any previous release by Lunn, does this with unbelievable adeptness.

Lasting over an hour, the real secret to this album is masterful pacing: blasting tremolo sections that reach deep down to the bones with their intensity; soaring, sky-piercing melodies; ominous dirges of malevolent arpeggios and earth-shaking bass lines; invigorating bluegrass picking and pastoral Appalachian folk; softly lush instrumental passages; spirit-stirring violin lines; even a dramatic orchestral arrangement; everything is in its right place for the fullest emotional effect on this journey of an album. It’s done so well that, since I received the promo a few weeks ago, I’ve listened to it nearly every day, often multiple times, and often consecutively. If I had the time, I would love to write so much more about this album, to be able to express how incredible and moving it is, how refreshing it is to listen to an album that defines its own sound without needing to rely on the tag of a genre, or how impressive it is to see Lunn really coming into his full ability as an artist. But I don’t have to, you can hear it for yourself now and watch these paltry and faint paragraphs disappear in the shadow of Roads To The North. -Jake

Bindrune Recordings / Nordvis


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