Anddddd we’re back. Apologies for the Thanksgiving-related departure last week, but what’s the point of all this goat-slaying satanic black metal without a nuclear family and a tiny hometown to terrify with it?
WHAT TO HEAR: First up this week is The Irrepassable Gate (Profound Lore), the latest—and first in quite some time—from Cascadian black metal graduates Ash Borer. In the years since the band’s seminal work Cold of Ages, Ash Borer have spread their black wings far and wide, working on countless projects, from Urzeit to Vanum, but the cacophonous siren song of home was apparently too much to resist and so he we are, graced with a massive new full length to (attempt to) digest. Bereft of melody but rife with confusion, chaos, and oblique ambition, The Irrepassable Gate—a far cry from the band’s aforementioned roots—makes you work for its treasures, but when they do finally stir out of the tangled din, they are well worth the wait. Check it out via Noisey.
Profound Lore isn’t done there, however, following that up with the much-anticipated release of Worm Ouroboros‘s What Graceless Dawn. A late-night blend of funeral doom and ethereal darkwave—with ample elements of chamber and choir music tossed in for good measure—Worm Ouroboros sounds a lot like Bell Witch or Lycus on paper, but the reality is something altogether different. This is the come down from those come downs. The chamomile to their decaf. With bubbling gain and abdomen-shredding groans entirely absent—replaced instead by haunting clean harmonies and chiming arpeggios—there’s certainly an argument to be made that this isn’t metal at all, but for now head over to Noisey and check it out.
Next out of the gates are German black metal mutants Ultha and their new LP, Converging Sins (Vendetta Records). Ultha made some underground reverberations last year with their Pain Cleanses Every Doubt EP and Converging Sins more than delivers on that promise with a hypnotizing combination of seething misanthropy and understated melody. As the year winds to a close and the buzzy record flow slows to a drip, it’s stuff like this that will help get you over the hills and through the dark of the wood.
This week just so happens to be one for the comeback kids as well, starting with 90s Finnish death outfit Scum and their new LP Garden of Shadows (Blood Music), which—though recorded in 1996—rears its fanged head for the first time today. After you’re done drinking from that blood chalice over at Invisible Oranges, turn your attention to the new self-titled offering legendary German black metallers Bethlehem (Prophecy Productions), and their new full length which is being widely hailed as a return to form from a band who have been in desperate need of one in recent years. Then again, don’t take my word for it. Go check it out for yourself.
Finally, if you’re yearning for the blissful embrace of hypothermia, then atmospheric USBMers Aureole and their frosty new LP, Aurora Borealis (Fallen Empire) have just the ticket. If not, the perhaps Ranger‘s latest heavy metal rager Speed & Violence (Spinefarm)—currently streaming over at Noisey—has the stack-detonating hi-jinx you’re looking for.
WHAT TO SEE: Give yourself the gift of live music this holiday season, starting tonight with doorbuster deals on HOT shows like Epica at Webster Hall and Dishonest Escape at Gussy’s. The savings don’t end there, however, with Saturday hosting exciting death metal discounts like Horrendous/Kosmodemonic at Saint Vitus, plus all sorts of other must-have goodies, such as Red Fang and Torche at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Condominium and Warthog at Sunnyvale, Armageddon at Blackthorn 51, and Windhand at Mercury Lounge. Sunday, meanwhile, brings the weekend cheer to a close with Shitkill/Skullshitter at Sunnyvale, Lex the Hex Master/Scum at Lucky 13 Saloon, Extinction A.D. at Don Pedro, and Saint Vitus’s now annual holiday flea market, which pairs perfectly with the evening’s Windhand coven gathering.
After that, Monday rolls around with shows like Abigail Williams/Wolvhammer at Saint Vitus and Red Fang/Torche/Whores at Mercury Lounge in tow while Tuesday welcomes Queensryche to Irving Plaza, and Sebastian Bach to Saint Vitus for a book signing. Wednesday, doesn’t let up, with IKILLYA hitting Mercury Lounge and YOSHIMO kicking up a racket at Saint Vitus, while Thursday wraps things up with Uncrated at Lucky 13 Saloon, For Today at Gramercy Theatre, and North American Waste playing Black Flag classics at Lucky 13 Saloon.
WHAT THE FUCK: I don’t want to spend too much air on this (mostly because I know they’re little more than SEO grab-n’-dashes/editor gratification tools), but as the music-wide best-of lists begin trickling in, I can’t help but notice significantly fewer metal records scattered throughout than in years past. It wasn’t a studio year for Deafheaven. Pallbearer only dropped an EP. I get it. But if the only metal bands the major music media can accept in the year 2016 are Deftones and Metallica, then maybe we’re doing something wrong (and by wrong I mean right). Either way, somebody needs to go stick some fucking Blood Incantation in their ear before the year is up.