The Mets have the best record in baseball, the Rangers are on to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and spring is pretty much in full swing. In other words, that bud of contentment in the pit of your being is in serious danger of blooming into actual, terrifying happiness. Thankfully, however, we’re here to help with another dose of soul-crushing noise that is sure to help alleviate those symptoms. Enjoy (but not too much).
WHAT TO BUY: Here’s one for the bar-discussion jar: Profound Lore are currently putting together one of the most challenging years of music in recent memory. After backing last year’s crossover metal success in Pallbearer—a stately slab of clean-vocaled slow-boogie—the Canadian metal alchemists began 2015 with an axe to grind and ground it they have, right down to the fucking hilt. From the chaffing steel wool of Sumac’s The Deal to the tortured subterranean howls of Leviathan’s Scar Sighted—the twisted story telling of Boss-De-Nage’s All Fours to the noise marathon that is Prurient’s Frozen Niagara Falls—Chris Bruni and co. have put together an unparalleled and laser-targeted salvo of sonic abuse with Bell Witch as their H-bomb.
On the Seattle duo’s new LP, Four Phantoms (Profound Lore), Bell Witch push the concept of “doom” to its crumbling point, dragging tempos to the brink of non-existence and carving yawning chasms of negative space into each crushing dirge. Comprised of four 10-20 minute movements that conjure ghosts of death by earth, fire, water, and wind, Four Phantoms lumbers forward into a universal darkness, mining a few simple melodic motifs and otherworldly growls for their every last drop of sorrow and terror; asking listeners to follow as far as they can or dare. It’s simultaneously masochistic and cathartic. An insurmountable and downright hostile listening experience that demands resilience, offers little in the way of consolation, and aptly embodies the sound of Profound Lore in 2015. Steel yourself and then go check out the full stream via Noisey.
If you’re somehow still looking for more crushing doom after all of that, then also make sure to check out Monolord’s new clam-baked full length, Vænir (Riding Easy). Fans—such as MetalSucks who have the 2-ton goliath streaming in captivity for the time being—are calling it the “Best Doom Record of 2015 So Far”. Detractors have dubbed it Electric Wizard worship while shouting “CRYPT SERMON!” at anyone within earshot. As is usually the case, the truth lies somewhere in between, amidst the colossal fuzz-bomb riffs and endless cobweb-choked hallways that hang between the listener and frontman Thomas V Jäger’s psychedelic incantations. If you’re into occult spookiness, Windhand, or the incredibly fertile Gothenberg scene as a whole, then definitely make sure to spend some time getting to know this one.
Meanwhile, criminally underrated NWOBHM pioneers Raven are back today with their 13th (and Kickstarter-funded) LP, ExtermiNation (SPV). The band’s first full length in over 6 six years and an unofficial celebration of their 41st birthday as a musical entity, ExtermiNation feels and sounds surprisingly energized, with the tempos up, performances tight, and production spot-on. Old-school riffs, sky-piercing vocal harmonies, and classic thrash backbeats abound here, so hop in and turn back the clock. Please note, however: There is no way around that title or album art. Both are now burned into the annals of metal for all eternity.
Before all you black metal kids check out and go back to your caves (or shoegaze shows), also make sure to check out Lustre—the one-man project of Sweden’s Nachtzeit—and their new LP, Blossom (Nordvis). Per its Sunbather-esque name, Blossom is a surprisingly apt spring black metal album, combining a melody-first philosophy, ambient synth work, and bright production into what is, more often than not, achingly beautiful music. It might not be the first thing you turn to when you’re in the mood for the black stuff, but this week it will definitely the best, so keep an open mind and check it out.
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Beyond that, there’s really not a whole lot else going on this week, but definitely make to sure to check out St. Louis sludge outfit Fister’s seething new EP, IV (Crown & Throne Ltd.), which drops on physical formats today. A single 44-minute slab of Budweiser-fueled, the-Blues-just-got-knocked-out-in-the-first-round loathing, this one isn’t necessarily painting with colors you haven’t seen before (black, gray, and gristle mostly), but it’s heavy as fuck and caked in Midwest crust, so make sure to lend it your ever-masochistic earholes.
WHAT TO SEE: The show week gets off to slow start, with things finally heating up on Thursday with Hellgoat, Vimur, and Ars Antiqva hitting the Nihil Gallery in Gowanus while Toxicology, Hounds, Death Vacation, and more head to Jersey for a Clash Bar-hosted rager. If that’s not enough for your thirsty Thurs, then head to The Bergen Performing Arts Center, where their theme of washed-up 80s bands continues with Queensryche, or get up to Saint Vitus for a visit from Florida-based hardcore punks, As Friends Rust.
Friday begins with a pair of good bills at The Acheron and Vitus, headlined by Torrential Downpour and Misery Index (plus Lord Dying) respectively. Saturday, meanwhile, is highlighted by a so-called “Sci Fi-Themed Death Metal Bash” featuring Artificial Brain, Orbital Frame, and more at the Shillelagh Tavern in Astoria while Violent Bullshit gets down at The Acheron with Clean Girls and Vulture Shit.
The good folks up at Saint Vitus wrap up Saturday night with Sworn Enemy, Wretched, and Hammer Fight before Sunday comes in with a trio of huge shows, including Krieg at The Acheron, Doyle (of ex-Misfits fame) at Saint Vitus, and Quiet Riot at Blackthorn 51 in Queens. After that lineup, I hope you have Monday off (or at least the last remaining shred of consciousness required to go check out pseudo punk-metal joke band semi-legends, The Meatmen, up at the ol’ SV.)
WHAT THE FUCK: Despite all the excitement Refused’s first new track in 17 years touched off by simply existing, let’s steady ourselves, take a long, hard look in the mirror, and admit the one thing we all desperately don’t want to: It kind of sucks. The chorus rips hard enough and the odd-time signature is a nice twist, but the whole thing just feels a little too close to Shinedown for comfort. Check it out below and see what you think.