Post-rock is not a cold dead place.
Pelican-like post-rock was the last thing I expected to hear on a night of post-hardcore headlined by a guy who’s old band was a featured act at the Warped Tour, but hey, I always welcome pleasant surprises. Sandwiched in between Loud Boyz and United Nations; shrouded in darkness and laser tube lighting a couple of Monday nights ago at Saint Vitus were DC threepiece Black Clouds, instrumental throwbacks to the starry-eyed days when we didn’t just hear music, we felt it. They’re signed to Geoff Rickley’s label Collect Records and apparently already have a couple of records out.
I’ve been bumpin’ their 2012 release Everything Is Not Going To Be OK quite a bit over the past couple of weeks, and their follow up, Dreamcation was just pressed back in November of 2014; fresh enough for me to include in this column without looking too out of touch. “And Then I Dove,” a cut from the aforementioned newish release will give you a good idea of where these guys are coming from. They’re not as heavy as Pelican or North, but I’d say they’re a bit more on the post-metal side than say, Explosions In The Sky or Mogwai. They sound like what Deafheaven probably sound like when they’re jamming without George Clarke.
Buffalo has a skyline, too.
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Gas Chamber’s new EP, Stained Hand threw me through a loop just like Black Clouds’ set, but like… totally in reverse. The EP’s sole track, “Always Coming Home” begins with a couple of minutes of shimmering, instrumental guitar riffs and soft horns, punctuated with high-hat hits. It sounds crisp but bare. Its production is uncomplicated; almost like a rough multi-tracked cut a friend would play for you that he mixed on Garage Band after vaporizing a bunch of hash wax. In the best way. At about the 2:40 mark, everything erupts into a crescendo of powerviolence, completely obliterating any traces of all things ambient and pretty. The EP is the Buffalo band’s first release on SPHC, following last year’s Hemorrhaging Light on Iron Lung Records. It’s available as a free download now.
Black metal isn’t Norway’s only export.
Haust are from Norway and they play medium-tempo thrashy punk with black metal vocals. Their guitarist, Trond Mjøen plays with Ulver and there’s dashes of Neu and Berlin-era Bowie here, so they’re basically poised to be among the most polarizing bands in heavy music in 2015. Playing Saint Vitus with Guttermouth, of all bands, probably didn’t help that, but whatever. If you’re like me and you’re not a black metal purist, then you’re probably more intrigued than disgusted, but even if you are, maybe put your pitchforks down for a minute and give these dudes a chance. That, or get ready to be at the front of the line for the hate train. You can start by listening to their track “Light” which is off their new LP, Bodies. It was just released last Tuesday via Fysik Format. I think it’s pretty dope.
Most buzzbands are down at SXSW this week, but Microwaves don’t strike me as the kind of band to really give a fuck about any buzzband bullshit. The angular Pittsburgh hardcore band have been at it since 2000 and they bring their furious prog and no-wave-tinged live set to Cake Shop tonight. They impressed the hell out of me earlier this year when I caught them supporting Couch Slut. Tickets are just $8 at the door.