Alright head count time, I just want to make sure everybody survived the one-two gut punch that was Valentine’s weekend and an Ulver-approved polar vortex. We all good? Hearts, minds, and frostbitten fingertips still intact? OK, alright, awesome. Now let’s get down to business.
WHAT TO BUY: We begin this week with the latest transmission from the S.S. Aaron Turner, Sumac’s lead-heavy industri-sludge debut, The Deal (Profound Lore). If you’re a fan of Turner’s post-Isis output (Old Man Gloom, Lotus Eaters, Mammifer) then you can pretty much skip down to the next paragraph now. The Deal is a thesis statement. Condensed milk. An enthralling and, at times, beguiling encapsulation of Turner’s cold-steel technicality and audiophile micro-management bolted to the floor by Baptists’ Nick Yacyshyn and Russian Circles’ Brian Cook. Like many post-everything LPs in the past couple of years, this one pairs four full compositions with four ambient segues, welding together one of the best, and most challenging, listens of the week. If you’re still sleeping on this one, there’s probably nothing else I can say to change your mind.
Next up is a new and charred slab of technical blackened death metal from half-British/half-Japanese outfit Sarpantium. Titled Blessed Be My Brothers…(Willowtip Records), the band’s second LP is a fishline knot of guttural grind grind, star-scraping tremolo melodies, and the to-battle war cries of classic death metal, all woven together with some of the most daunting musicianship yet put to record in 2015. If you’re looking for something truly extreme this week, then this sick puppy is for you.
If you’re a doom head and/or just feeling a little slow and low this week (we get it, it’s like fucking Calgary out there), then you’re in luck, with both Brothers of the Sonic Cloth and Primitive Man dropping slamming new music today. The former, a self-titled, Neurot Recordings-backed project from TAD mastermind Tad Doyle, is a riff-based anvil of rad that demands a beer and some fucking headbanging. Colorado death/doom heathens Primitive Man and their new mega-EP/mini-LP Home Is Where the Hatred Is (Relapse), meanwhile, are less interested in rocking out than distilling some the purest, most potent despair in metal. If you’re looking to loathe (fittingly the name of the record’s opening track), make sure to give it a spin.
Keeping those Hovercraft heads humming is King Woman, the stoner/doom project of former Whirr frontwoman Kristina Esfandiari, who drop their debut EP Doubt (The Flesner) today. King Woman has been garnering their fair share of buzz of late, racking up a Rolling Stone stream and a spot on Consequence of Sounds’ most-anticipated-metal-releases-of-2015 rundown in the last week alone. Before you write them off as some crossover hype-machine, however, consider not only the strength of the music, which is equal parts Ides of Gemini and Chelsea Wolfe, but also the fact this intimate four-song collection finds Esfandiari purging her oppressively religious upbringing in which she was allegedly subjected to exorcisms and other assorted insanity. If that isn’t metal enough for you, then I don’t know what is.
Black metal devotees can stay the course this week with one-man Italian band Vardan, and his depressive new LP, appropriately titled The Night, The Loneliness (Moribund Records). Decibel has the full stream and I urge you to give it a listen—it’s very good, especially considering its Vardan’s second LP of 2015—but afterward get that chin up and go get some sun. Don’t forget your headphones though because you’ll also definitely want to check out Brooklyn sludge quartet Mountain God’s crushing new EP, Forest of the Lost, which you can grab at their Acheron record release on Friday (or stream via their bandcamp now). These dudes are homies, so maybe we’re a little biased, but they have a very high ceiling—propped up by stomping riffs, trance-inducing atmospherics, and A-plus shriekage—so make sure to get on board.
Finally, because I somehow missed it in my Mucinex-fueled stupor last week, make sure you go back and check out Czech metal auteurs Death Karma and their new LP, The History of Death & Burial Rituals Part I (Iron Bonehead). One of 2015’s very first AOTY contenders, this one—which shares some moving parts with mystic black metal outfit Cult of Fire—dedicates each track to the death stigmas and burial practices of different cultures around the globe, conjuring life’s foremost counterpoint with a shape-shifting blend of death, black, and classic metal. Carve out some time and cash (the vinyl version is beautiful, but currently Euro-distro only), and make this one happen.
WHAT TO SEE: The show week starts with a sonic flashbang on Wednesday when North Cackalaky grindcore beasts Torch Runner pull the pin at Vitus alongside Black Mask, Pink Mass, and more. If you survive that pit, then Arch Enemy-related prog death outfit Armageddon’s Thursday night appearance is an absolute must, thanks in large part to their ripping new record which dropped a few weeks back. Friday brings one of my favorite bills of the week, with Cali hardcore kids Obliterations in town for a nosebreaker with local breakouts Sick Feeling and Mammal. If you’re headed out for that one, I will most definitely see you there.
But wait (yes, this keeps going), because Saturday night welcomes fellow Golden State punks Retox to a proper Northeast winter with a stacked lineup including Whores, Primitive Weapons, and, fittingly, Fashion Week, while 90s post-hardcore legends Helmet, playing the iconic Betty in full, and former Slayer skin-pounder Dave Lombardo’s new band, Philm, wrap an absolutely insane show run on Sunday and Monday respectively.
If you dug what you heard from Mountain God above, make sure to check out their record release show at The Acheron on Saturday night. There’s a reason This One Goes To Eleven have booked these Brooklyn sludgelords a few times: They fucking slay on stage. The support for this one, courtesy of Brooklyn’s-next-big-black-metal-bands Imperial Triumphant and Hercyn, only serves to spike the potion, so drink up if you dare. Jersey based heshers might prefer Useless Christ’s latest splatter-fest at The Meatlocker in Montclair, however, headlined by grind connoisseurs Mother Brain, Dutchguts, and more.
South Brooklyn gets their due on Saturday with a stacked tech-death spazz-out at Lucky 13 Saloon. Malignancy, Dracaris, Hypoxia, and Bleach Eater will all be making an appearance, so make sure to get your ass to Gowanus (see what I did there?). Finally, wrap up the week in Gramercy (paradoxically one of the least “metal” places within city limits) for a ripping black/death banger at the hoods’ namesake theater featuring 1349, Origin, Abysmal Dawn, and Wolvhammer.
WHAT THE FUCK: No metal here, just a solar-powered DIY death ray that can melt steel. Evil geniuses unite.