Between 30 inches of snow and the pitiless winter illness that blew in on it, I’m running on veritable empty this week, so please forgive me if we just skip the usual pleasantries and get at it. The completion of this damn thing may well depend on it.
WHAT TO BUY: At this point, now a decade in to a heavily decorated career, a new record from Savannah riff wizards, Black Tusk, is not necessarily headliner-level stuff. Pillars of Ash (Relapse), the band’s final LP with bassist Jonathan Athon—who passed away in a motorcycle accident in 2014—however, is a huge, sledgehammer-swinging exception to that rule. An urgent, roaring, and throughly badass eulogy to one of the sludge scene’s most beloved individuals, this one is a must for any music fan looking to pay their respects, and—perhaps more importantly—a fantastic record from one of America’s most influential metal hotbeds. Needless to say, turn it up and pour some out.
Of course, it just wouldn’t be January without some soul-searching black metal to soothe those plummeting serotonin levels, and thankfully Wildernessking, and their sophomore LP, Mystical Futures (Sick Man Getting Sick), have more than enough of that to go around. Obviously when it comes to the whole post-black metal thing, the knee-jerk touchstone is Deafheaven, but for the most part, that is the sort rocket-ship rippage that Wildernessking deal in—right down to the timbre of frontman Keenan Nathan Oakes’s dog-whistle shrieks. They are more than just clones, as their South African roots and screamo-inflecred passages (a la Deafheaven’s Bay Area cohorts, Bosse-De-Nage) will attest, but given the touchy nature of this subject these days, I suggest you go check out Noisey’s free stream and see for yourself. Love it or hate it, you’re bound to feel something.
Next up is the year’s first transmission from Profound Lore, Che’theilist‘s long-awaited debut, Le Dernier Crepescule. If you have been following the career of the Lovecraft-obsessed Quebecuois death metal contingent, then you already know their story and how closely it mirrors that of their label mates and genre peers, Cruciamentum. Following their much-drooled over 2012 demo, Amechth’ntaas’m’rriachth, the band went more or less silent for a half decade, finally bobbing back to the surface late last year with plans for this, their most—and only—complete work to date. From their fresh take on classic Finnish death metal to the stunning Paolo Girardi album art, this one is the real deal, so make sure, especially given the dirge of new death metal on offer this month, to check it out.
After that, turn your attention to English doom vets, Conan, who are prepared to unchain their latest dungeon beast, Revengeance (Napalm), today. The Liverpool power trio still specialize in monolithic battle doom, and plenty of those hallmarks (namely some truly bodacious amplifier worship) are here and as vital as ever. For the first time, however, Conan, ratchet up tempos (but definitely not tunings) to an occasional trot, finding some mid-tempo kinship with stoner royalty like High on Fire and Eyehategod in the process. Only the staunchest slow-and-low martyr could find pause in such semantics, though, so make sure to get over to Noisey to for the full stream while it’s still rumbling around down there in the dark.
If you’re in search of the old sounds this week, then you won’t have to go far (geographically at least) to find British thrash pioneers, Exumer, and their second post-hibernation record, The Raging Tides (Metal Blade). Last year, Satan proved there is plenty of gas left in that tank, so make sure to give the title track a speculative listen. If it works for you, great, if not, perhaps Prong‘s 10th studio offering, X – No Absolutes (SPV) will scratch that itch. Still spearheaded by Tommy Victor in this, their 20th year of existence, these guys have been a model of metal consistency through the thick and very thin, so let’s go ahead give them their due already.
Finally, end the week on a far-out note with new records from experimental black metallurgists Spektr and Asbury Park prog outfit, Toothgrinder. Titled The Art to Disappear (Agonia) and Nocturnal Masquerade (Spinefarm), these things are sure to pull your brain through its nose, so brace yourself and give them a look.
WHAT TO SEE: OK, so Jonas threw a wrench in the ol’ show gears last week, but thankfully there are no such catastrophes on the docket tonight, with Shitkill, Harris Hawk, and Husbandry set to obliterate Lucky 13 Saloon and Brick By Brick prepped for yet another Blackthorn 51 throwdown. Saturday follows in equally thrilling fashion, spearheaded by Krallice and Yellow Eyes at Vitus, which tops an impressive litter including a Reluctant Mortem CD release bash at Lucky 13, Fin’amor and Windfaerer at Black Bear Bar, and Lies Beneath/Thorn Constellation at The Acheron. If you’re not out there for those, you better have a damn good reason (and no, playing X-Files catchup doesn’t count).
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Sunday keeps the foot to the floor with an Examine-headlined hardcore matinee at Grand Victory and Horrendous’s make-up date for last week’s cancelled Saint Vitus appearance. Hearing Anareta live should be more than enough to bridge the gap to midweek, when things pick back up again with Dweezil Zappa at The Gramercy Theater on Wednesday, as well as a few good Thursday night offerings, including Decapitated, Black Breath, and Theories in Webster Hall’s Marlin Room and LI prog-sludge project, Moon Tooth, headlining Saint Vitus with some help from Meek is Murder.
WHAT THE FUCK: Phil Anselmo, ladies and gentleman. If you bought into his whole post-Dimebag PR-reclamation project, this is an unfortunate reminder that you shouldn’t have. There’s no place for this shit—white wine joke or no—in metal (or anywhere else). Get out, stay out, and, as always, thanks for reading.