While the rest of the world slogs through post-holiday depression and mourns beside the final embers of summer, metal nerds the universe over have joined in celebration of one of the biggest release days of the year, knowing damn well that as long we can still wear black after Labor Day, everything will be just fine.
What to Buy: Today, kneeling at the feet Portland doom kings YOB’s Clearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot), we, the metal-listening public, are being forced to chew on our words. Two weeks ago, intoxicated by its stunning blend of operatic melodies and shape-shifting riffs, we all but offered Pallbearer’s sophomore opus, Foundations of Burden, doom metal album of the year honors, forgetting in most cases that Mike Scheidt was on deck, swinging around an hour’s worth of new material and a .500 batting average in the instant classic LP department. When the Pitchfork Advance stream dropped last week, the revisionist history efforts kicked in high gear, with writer’s and armchair critics alike scrambling to be the first to downgrade their passionate Pallbearer exaltations from definitive to contextual, but it was too late. Having been non-denonminationally baptized in the fires and floods of Ascend for over a week now, it has become all too obvious: We spoke too much and too soon (surprise, surprise).
If you have yet to check out this glacier-preserved mammoth of an album, then I’m guessing you came to this space by accident and are currently scrambling for the door. Everyone else, however, can certainly corroborate (or at least understand the rationale behind) the widely disseminated belief that this four-song slab—thanks in part to the stunning My Bloody Valentine-feedback squalls of “Nothing To Win”, the keening coda of “Unmask the Spectre”, and the Cosmos-scraping brood of “Marrow”, to name a few favorite moments—is quite possibly the finest metallic offering of the now ¾-completed year. There’s not much else to say, really; it’s long, it’s dense, and it demands some serious attention the first few times through, but Ascend is one of those rare records that could stay in the rotation for not just days, but decades, so you owe it to yourself (as well as Scheidt, who, on talent alone, should be making Beyoncé money) to grab a copy in whatever (paid-for) form that’s not already sold out.
Apologies if this Pacific Northwest doom stuff just puts your head on the proverbial pillow, because next up is the iconic Olympia WA instrumental outfit, Earth, and their 10th studio effort, Primitive and Deadly (Southern Lord), which drops on the slowly headbanging-in-unison masses. The trio are one of the best “fringe” metal acts currently going and their upcoming Saint Vitus stand with King Dude (9/24) and Cult of Youth (9/25, part of the David Lynch Foundation Fundraiser) is sure to be killer, so you should definitely give it a spin, but if not, that’s cool too. It’s your (close-minded) prerogative, to which you are (begrudgingly) entitled, after all.
Sporadically upping the BPM ante this week is Pittsburgh, PA industrial-indebted power-noise quartet Code Orange’s (Deathwish Inc.) new Kurt Ballou-produced schizophrenic freakout, I Am King (which you can stream in full below). To try to walk you through this one track by track would be foolish, as it is, stylistically, as block-to-block as Bed-Stuy. The endless barrage of left turns, chugging riffs, hardcore tantrums, and dissonant melodies, however, are sure to make King one of the more intriguing—and polarizing—listens in heavy music this year, so definitely lend it an ear. And as long as we are on the subject of polarizing, the physical release of Varg Vikernes’ latest Burzum release, The Ways of Yore (Candlelight), also drops today. I believe in the importance of educated decision-making and personal responsibility, so I have decided to mention it but would like to make clear that I, in no empirical, peripheral, or personal way, endorse its message or creator. You should know what it is—yet another album from a highly influential musician and militantly racist terrorist—and that it exists, and you should also act accordingly. Money is power and you can decide if you’d like to give him yours.
What to See: Don’t bother stretching and fuck the warm-ups, the show week kicks off tonight with KEN Mode and their frosty brand of Canadian hardcore taking over Saint Vitus alongside Profound Lore avant-metal duo Psalm Zero (ex-Castevet, ex-Dirty projectors), and Couch Slut. This is a weekend-level show on Tuesday night, so get out there and pull something. Then put some ice on it and quick because American Sharks follow KEN Mode up Greenpoint’s River Styx on Wednesday night with Blackout and Ice Balloons.
The rest of the week/end (excluding a Friday night grindcore encore headlined by Organ Dealer and Beast Modulus) veers punk and indie at Vitus, so feel free to turn to The Acheron, where Powerviolence–headlined by Crazy Spirit and featuring sets from other recent New York’s Alright alums Dawn of Humans (male nudity alert), The Lowest Form, and Hank Wood & the Hammerheads–is the name of the Thursday night game. Saturday night brings Fucked Up back to NYC (at Irving Plaza), which isn’t metal, necessarily, but still rad, loud, fast, and completely devoid of clean singing, so check it out if you missed them at Bowery back in the Spring.
Finally, cap it all off on Sunday when Lee M. Bartow’s (Leech, Navicon Torture Technologies) latest noise/metal/electronic project, Theologian, heads out to the East Williamsburg Industrial Park (are we still calling it that?) for what is sure to be yet another universe-expanding experience hosted by The Acheron. The likes of megaton leviathan and Kosmodemonic open, so make to get there on time (and stop blaming it on the fucking train already, we know you all live in Bushwick).
What the Fuck: In this week’s installment of “Shitty Trends In Metal”, we pit metal babies (not Baby Metal) against bloated rockstar-owned Arena Football Teams in a no-holds-barred fight to the yawning chasm of obsolescence. May the worst man win.
In the blue shorts:
Baby Dio horns and…
In the red shorts:
Vince Neil’s Las Vegas Outlaws and…