There are few things on earth more metal than surgery. Take it from a guy who was too busy blowing black goo out of his sinus cavities last week to write this little column. With ten days of recovery time and the muse of recent trauma now in the ol’ psycho-emotional pocket, however, I’m glad to say we are now, thanks to one of the craziest, ballsiest, and baddest (in a good way) release slates of the year, back with a vengeance. So strap in and buckle up, because like a Phoenix from the–wait, hang on, come back! We were just getting to the good part!
WHAT TO BUY: On a loaded releases day like today, my challenge, as head This One Goes To Eleven curator, is not necessarily finding music, but instead deciding upon a hierarchy to apply to it. Do you lead with the narrative album, like one-woman black metal project Myrkur’s mystery-shrouded debut, which is sure to spawn a glut of Noisey-backed thinkpieces and divide opinions across every side of the hexagonal extreme music aisle, or instead award the lifetime achievement award and go with Cannibal Corpse’s newest flesh devouring LP, A Skeletal Domain? As a writer (not that you care) being spoiled for choice is a good problem to have but, nonetheless, still a problem, and thus when it came time to sit down and put this thing to page I asked myself one simple question: What ripped the hardest? What made me want to buy a Harley made of bones, pack the saddle bag full of beer, and point it toward hell? The answer, as it turned out, was Iron Reagan‘s Tyranny of Will (Relapse).
A veritable thrash punk Golden Corral—tearing off 24 songs in just over a half hour—the Richmond crust supergroup’s (assembled from members of Municipal Waste, Darkest Hour, Cannabis Corpse, and Mammoth Grinder) new LP is as fitting a Relapse debut as we’ve had this year, and trust me, we’ve had some good ones. Festering with pit-ready riffs (“Miserable Failure”), tongue-in-cheek power violence minuets (“Your Kids an Asshole”), and more than enough of shout along battle-crys (“Four More Years”) to cover a month’s worth of Kill ‘Em All Karaokes, the record is both the explosion and the smoking, radiation-laced crater, righteously earning its place at the top of this week’s charred heap. Check it out via Pitchfork Advance while the getting is still good.
As long as you’re over at Relapse picking up those sick Tyranny of Will pre-order packages for, also make sure to check out Danish black metal siren Myrkur’s aforementioned debut, as well as the perfectly pruned reissue of Num Skull’s overlooked 80s thrash opus, Ritually Abused. The former’s frosty of blend of choir operatics and second wave rippage, also streaming on Pitchfork Advance, should have black metal devotees raising an eyebrow or two and scrambling for the still-scant biographical details (word is Ms. Myrkur is a recognizable, non-metal musician), while the latter is just a classic slab of neck snapping speed thrash, the likes of which just can’t be replicated in a post nü metal world, no matter what all those 19-year-old Noisem fans may tell you.
Furthering this apparent campaign to make Septemeber 16th, 2014 Official 80s Metal Remembrance Day, are Tipper Gore’s worst fucking nightmare, Cannibal Corpse, who drop their 13th gore-strewn full length, A Skeletal Domain, onto PTA watch lists the world over. And although the band is not nearly as reviling to the general public as they were during their early 90s reign of terror, they are still Cannibal Corpse (See: the“FIRE UP THE CHAINSAWWWW” refrain of “Kill or Become”) and thus merit the requisite appreciation listen. What you’ll find—despite some slightly flat production and underwhelming album art for a band best know for overwhelming album art—is very much the same thing you would have found crawling off the peeling streets of Buffalo 25 years ago: An influential, technically proficient death metal band with an encyclopedic knowledge of slasher flicks and a Monet-level mastery of gore. If you liked it then, you’ll still like it now, that much I can promise.
Meanwhile, dragging proceedings off the beaten path, through a cobweb choked forest, down into some forgotten dungeon, and behind the iron door of a leaky cell, is experimental blackened doom duo AEvangelist’s latest full length, Writhes in the Mirk (Debemur Morti). A perpetual shape-shifter, this one, as Ian Chainey made clear in his Invisible Oranges review last week, can be willfully obtuse—Matron Thorn (instrumentation) and Ascaris (vocals), as their names may suggest, are prone to some occasional over-conceptualization at times—but when the carnival tents eventually come down and the band’s hideous riffs are presented sans the funhouse mirrors, they land with surprising impact and urgency. If you’re looking for a sonic experiment this fall, or just little something to scare the shit out of you in the dead of the night, this genre-bending freakshow might be just the ticket.
The furthest flung LP of the week, however, is unquestionably the latest transmission from Russian black metal outfit Sivyj Yar, From the Dead Villages’ Darkness (Avantgarde Music), which was brought to the stateside attention of many after appearing in Stereogum’s essential Black Market series earlier this summer. Structurally speaking, the band doesn’t stray too far from the raw, Second Wave-inspired soundscapes that have dominated black metal enclaves for several years running now, but imagine for, a moment, the courage it must take to produce music this ideologically and sonically extreme under the current Russian regime, let alone the anger and frustration it must embody. This is where the power of tracks such as “Distant Haze Was Arising”, lie, and where their true horror—as Watain and Ghost B.C. blush beneath their pigs blood and pentagrams—is found. In our artistically privileged world, where black metal bands sell out shows with alt-rock legends, form their own labels, and tinker with side projects (Deafheaven’s week), its important to remind ourselves that sometimes, in some places, what we call recreation, is actually outright rebellion (and thus carries the attendant consequences).
Wrapping it all up are an array of other globe-spanning releases, including Polish black metallers Abusiveness’s Bramy Nawii (Arachnophobia); Exilium (Prosthetic), the latest slab from blackened Spanish deathers, Noctem; and Lago’s latest, Tyranny (Battleground), which aptly conjures both the brutality of the band’s Arizona desert roots and the iconic architects of death metal past (Schuldiner, Steer, Azagthoth, et al). If you’re looking for something to just dim the lights and summon shit with, however, then turn to Ides of Gemini instead, who drop their latest LP, Old World New Wave (Neurot), today with a pre-order package that includes all the necessary mood setters—from a black hand-dipped candle to an elegant wood burning totem—for a romantic evening in Purgatory.
WHAT TO SEE: While the show week gets off to a bit of a hungover start tonight/tomorrow, things pick up in a hurry come Thursday when San Fran sludgelords Black Cobra and Ohio stoner outfit Lo-Pan hit Saint Vitus for what is sure to be an evening full of killer riffs and shitty whiskey. Both bands are also playing Uninvited Festival on Friday and Lo-Pan are set to drop their new album, Colossus (Small Stone Recordings), on 10/7, so make sure to get out there and get acquainted.
And speaking of Uninvited Festival, the brand new four-day fest keeps the oozing metal blob rolling through the weekend, descending upon the Nihil Gallery in Gowanus with four days (9/18-21) of skateboarding (including sessions on a local ramp), Harleys, fine art, cinema, and, of course, more stoner and doom bands than you can shake your six-foot grav bong at. Each day kicks off at three pm, with music running until about nine, so you’ll want to check the full line up and set times via the event’s website. If you’re just looking for the cliff notes, however, then feast your salivary glands on these headliners—Thursday: Mothership, Bl’ast, SubRosa. Friday: Black Cobra, Bloody Hammers, The Skull. Saturday: The Shrine, Orchid, plus a late night set from (yep) Wino. Sunday: Wretch, Elder, and (double yep) Weedeater. A weekend pass is $125 and single day tickets run about $30-40, so pick up an extra shift and get out there.
Thankfully due to the early set times, it’s still possible to catch some other shows even if you are planning on logging serious hours at Uninvited, which is a God Satan-send, given the everything bagel-esque weekend roster. King Crimson’s four-night stand at Best Buy Theater (9/18-21), Gigan/Pyrrhon/Artificial Brain’s tech-death face-melter, and Windhand/All Them Witches’ Saint Vitus séance—not to mention Acheron’s Friday night hardcore special featuring Lecherous Gaze, Aspects of War, and Razorheads—are all more than worth your time, blood, money, sweat, and (although hopefully not) tears, so make sure to get some sleep this week.
Finally, if you’re somehow still standing come Monday night, Rivers of Nihil descends upon Saint Vitus with Black Crown Initiate to get another week in NYC metal smoking down the dragstrip. No rest for the wicked? You’re telling me.
WHAT THE FUCK: Remember way back in 2010 when Liturgy frontman Hunter Hunt Hendrix published his graduate thesis, Transcendental Black Metal, and hordes of the USBM community—even dudes operating more or less within the same paradigm-bending real estate—came swarming up out of their ideological pits and essentially said fuck you for making kids think its chill to wear flannels to our shows and loudly discuss the empirical difference between blast beats and burst beats, as well as their relationship to the all-engulfing Haptic Void, while we are up here just trying to play a fucking set so that we can pay rent while you sip coffee and pour over Philosophy 101 textbooks in your Ivy League cafeteria? Unfortunately I do, and as bad it sounds (like two children fighting over what to name a teddy bear with ripped off arms and a gouged-out eye), this dissertation from Tamás Tófalvy P.h. D, an assistant professor Budapest University of Technology and Economics—chronicling the rise and fall of so-called “MySpace deathcore bands”, namely Job For A Cowboy, in order to analyze the “interaction of culture and media technologies”—may be, if not worse, then at least less necessary. Give it a read, have yourself a laugh, and then brace for the next Liturgy record, which is rumored to be coming in 2015.