Perhaps it’s the fact I don’t want to write it, or maybe it’s because music this twisted can only really speak for itself, but when a release crop this good comes along, it’s always tempting to just say screw the intro, which is, of course, both its own form of intro and an invitation to wander unwittingly into a philosophical hedge maze that might well kill this thing before it even begins. So please (before this spirals totally out of control) let me get the fuck out of the way and give the stuff you all came here for—metal in its every shape/form—a chance to do the talking.
WHAT TO BUY: One listen to Imperial Triumphant’s latest black metal masterwork, Abyssal Gods (Code 666) and it becomes very clear that the band’s decision to re-introduce themselves with a four-minute face-blast titled “From The Palaces of the Hive”, was a purposeful one. A buzzing, swarming lair of blackened experimentation and technically rendered misanthropy, Abyssal Gods is one of the most unique (and challenging) black metal records currently on its first pressing, engulfing listeners in a cloud of tiny poisonous wings at every twist in its labyrinth’s multitudinous tunnels. In this way—in Abyssal Gods’ ability to overwhelm, stifle, and drive one to the brink of their capacity to sustain it—it is an apt embodiment of the NYC scene from which it has come pouring forth. In every other non-symbolic sense, it is one the finest experimental metal records of the year. Get your ass over to CVLT Nation and check out the free stream while you still can.
If you’re now looking for sonic reprieve, well, begin your search elsewhere, because next up are Dhampyr and their brooding black metal opus, Oceanclots (Acephale Winter). While this Connecticut duo are far more interested in conjuring the melancholy sprawl of nature versus the claustrophobic throb of urban America, their approach is equally unorthodox, disorienting all comers with a dizzying, lost-in-the-forest swirl of indistinguishable canopy punctuated by brief and blinding flashes of white-hot sunlight. Oceanclots, like most pastoral black metal (which, for lack of a better term, applies well enough), is achingly beautiful, of course, but it’s lo-fi haze and peyote trip guitar interludes help to make it so much more. Needless to say, give it a listen over at Noisey if you haven’t already.
By far the most traditional black metal penance on offer this week (yes it’s a BIG week for the charred stuff, apologies if that’s not your thing), however, comes our way courtesy of Norwegian legends Enslaved and their 13th full-length, In Times (Nuclear Blast). Forged amid the church fires of early 90s black metal extremism, Enslaved managed to avoid bigotry, imprisonment, suicide, homicide, and other assorted and unsustainable horrors on their way to becoming one of the most influential black metal bands on earth, and In Times certainly lives up to that dauntingly high watermark. If you’re a fan, or just want to show the genre’s elders some goddamn respect, then pick up a copy of this one today.
Crossover hardcore kids also have plenty of cause to get their pit-ready rocks off as well, beginning with Rust (Deathwish Inc.), the latest corroded, asbestos-ridden slab of pure crust from Chicago heathens Harm’s Way. Bursting at the welded seams with goliath riffs and slam-your-face-off-someone-else’s-face breakdowns, this just-over-30-minute blast of buckshot to the gut is both a must-hear and a must-see, so give Revolver’s full stream a spin below and then get out there and catch them at Brooklyn Asylum with Discourse and Homewrecker on March 29th.
If that doesn’t quite satiate the appetite, then perhaps anthem-oriented Toronto punks Cancer Bats’ new LP, Searching for Zero (Metal Blade), will do the proverbial trick. The bands’ first full length in five years, Searching for Zero finds the quartet exercising some pretty serious demons with a new-found, Sabbath-inspired sludge that adds another dimension to their well-established sound. Ross Robinson twisted the knobs for this one, which can be both a good and bad thing depending on what era of his resume you’re looking at, but in this case, thanks in large part to a quiver of frothing guitar tones, he gives the Bats their just due. Grab a beer and turn this fucker up.
Death metal odds and ends this week include Tasmanian terrors Psycroptic and their self-titled and obscenely technical transmission (Prosthetic) from Down Under (meaning the southern hemisphere, not hell, though in this case the confusion is understandable) and Ovid’s Withering reissue of their face-melting 2013 debut, Scryers of the Abis (Unique Leader). If you prefer your metal roaring like a Harley instead of belching like a humaity-razing robot war machine, then Ride (Metal Blade), the first album from Scott Ian’s new leather-clad supergroup, is probably more your speed.
WHAT TO SEE: Things get firing at Saint Vitus on Wednesday night, when NYC rippers Mutoid Man rev up their party-ready anthems alongside Primitive Weapons and Meek Is Murder. Some solid indie lineups follow (including a sold-out Thursday with Cursive) before things get heavy again on Sunday with Defenders of the Old Fest’s closing marquee featuring Swedish black metal lifers Nifelheim and support courtesy of Ares Kingdom, slutvomit, and Iron Force.
Speaking of Defenders of the Old Fest, the three-day rager gets kicked off at The Bell House on the second Friday the 13th in as many months with a stacked lineup featuring Riot V, Liege Lord, Destructor, and more. More insanity follows on Saturday with classic ‘Nuck speed metal outfit Exciter and additional insanity from The Rods, October 31, and on and on into the cold black night. Grab your studded leather and get out there.
Long Island, meanwhile, gets a heavy weekend as well, with LI grinders Buckshot Facelift (who share some moving parts with Artificial Brain) hosting a free Saturday show at Comiskey Park Bar in Saint James and Sexcrement’s make-up face-melter with Immortal Suffering and Lethal Entity, which was originally set for Valentine’s night at Point Break in West Hempstead. If you’re not looking to hoof it all the way out there, then check out this open-bar birthday bash for Metal Mark featuring IKILLYA, Alekhine’s Gun, Degradation, and more. This one will be one of the final shows at Trash Bar’s original Grand St. location before they pack their bags for Bushwick, so make sure to come out and pay your respects.
Finally, if you have Monday night off and you’re looking for something to do, SLC deathcore outfit Chelsea Grin hit the Gramercy Theater for a down-tuned chug-fest. Get out there and get in the pit.
WHAT THE FUCK: Last week NYC fashion status symbol cum skate brand, Supreme, dropped a new edit featuring their team of 19-year-old black and Hispanic skaters ripping around LA and NYC to the uncomfortably ironic sounds of Burzum. I probably don’t need to spell out the ignorance of such a decision to this audience but I will anyway: Varg Vikernes is a white supremacist and a suspected terrorist who has done prison time for crimes against humanity. In no universe should his music be used to celebrate diversity, equality, or common sense. I understand the you-have-to-separate-the-art-from-the-artist argument…when you’re talking about an egotistical pile of coke with limbs (not naming any names). When you’re actively promoting the music of a historically violent neo-Nazi to an audience of highly impressionable 18-25s, however, that premise throws itself out of the highest window available. So Supreme, please do your research next time. Everyone else, watch it or don’t. Mute it or turn it up. The choice is your’s, just don’t say it doesn’t matter.