I’m gonna level with you guys: It’s been a shitty couple of weeks in the music world. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to live in a world without Lemmy, without Bowie, without rockstars—a world where the arbiters of “cool” are PR-approved cardboard cutouts and the escapes on offer to high school kids in desperate need of meaning aren’t off-planet, but simply downtown. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot to be done about the ravages of time (and too much coke), so for now let’s turn our attention to what you all came here to do—listen to new metal—and hope beyond the black stain of space that something can grow in these ashes.
WHAT TO BUY: Belying that pessimistic outlook is Lycus‘s tectonic-plate-rattling Relapse debut, Chasms, which should rightfullyn solidify the Oakland outfit’s place in the upper-crust of modern funeral doom. Far more than another orthodox processional, Chasms blends the crushing lurch of the band’s 2013 full length, Tempest, with artful smears of black, post, and sludge metal, assembling, in a traditional four-song format, an album that crushes the notion of tradition into a clinging dust. The title track is the single finest metal specimen of the year thus far and its counterparts—namely its cresting, crashing centerpiece sibling, “Mirage”—follow close behind. If Pallbearer doesn’t have enough grit for you and you’re not sure how you’re going to make it until the next Bell Witch record, then trudge over head over to Stereogum for the full stream just as fast as these leaden boots will take you.
Next up is the self-titled sophomore effort from Midwest post-sludge six-piece, Bloodiest, which, in its sweeping orchestrations, tangled drones, and radiant Sanford Parker production, embodies Chicago about as well as Ditka and a deep-dish. Fronted by Yakuza’s Bruce Lamont and featuring original Russian Circles member, Colin DeKuiper, on bass, Bloodiest have some serious pedigree and it shows, with each of the record’s eight sledgehammer tracks demonstrating a focus and restraint not widely found in its weight class. If you’re into the likes of Minsk, Isis, and Indian, this one is a must-hear. If not, well, that’s your loss.
It’s not a bad week to be a fan of the old sounds, either, with Sweden’s Witchcraft brewing up their latest batch of neo-Tull jams, Nucleus (Nuclear Blast), for mass consumption today. If you’re looking for a little less groove and a lot more grit, then check out Rare Breed (Century Media), the new full length from Venice street urchins, The Shrine. This one has been out since Halloween overseas, but it’s just now seeing the light of day stateside, so make sure to check it out. With a little luck, it’s raucous strain of punked-up skate metal might just help to fill the Lemmy-sized hole in your heart.
In direct opposition—sonically, emotionally, and otherwise—to that, is Dagian (Avantgarde), a new effort from one-man black metal outfit, Old Forest, that sounds like it could well have been hewn on the slabs of Stonehenge. From Vehemence to Obsequiae, the medieval black metal movement has officially hit “thing” status, and Dagian slots in comfortably among the ruins, smoothing field recordings, lurching trad doom dirges, and plenty of achingly melodic tremolo picking into a fairly cohesive whole. Give the full stream a listen and if you still decide it’s not your thing, then perhaps a few minutes with Avantgarde’s other major release this week—Sol’s latest doom/drone masterclass, The Storm Bells Chime—will better help to wile away those long, dim hours by the Bandcamp firelight.
Finally, wrap up this week’s noteworthy new releases with German black metal contingent, Augrimmer, and their new blood sacrifice, The Moth and the Moon (Northern Silence), as well as the re-release of Opprobium’s (AKA the band-formerly-known-as-Incubus) 1988 death-thrash classic, Serpent Temptation (Relapse). Give up, give in, and enjoy.
WHAT TO SEE: The weekend kicks off in eclectic fashion tonight, so steady yourself for something different before catching Pants Exploder at Lucky 13 Saloon, Mueco and Mocoso at The Acheron, Crucible in the Studio at Webster Hall, or the first of Shiner’s back-to-back Saint Vitus shows. Saturday brings the conclusion of that one-two punch, so if you’re not already catching Blue Oyster Cult at the Wellmont Theater, make sure to get out there and earn that black eye with some ridiculous 90s pit antics.
After that, Sunday (which is very hopefully not the final night of your weekend) comes correct with shows from Sworn Enemy and Exotype—at Even Flow and Black Bear Bar, respectively—while MLK Day steps up with a merciless throwdown from local death metal squadron Native Steve, who get support from the likes of Prostituion and DUTCHGUTS. Tuesday and Wednesday catch a case of that post-holiday-weekend-in-the-middle-of-January thing, but thankfully Vitus helps to alleviate that with an appearance from the auspiciously named Spewing Cum, as well as Baby Acid, Darkwing, and more.
Finally, Thursday ushers us into yet another week of metallic torture with shows like Meytal Cohen at Blackthorn 51, Epica at Irving Plaza, and Secret Cutter at Saint Vitus. Sure, it’s a slow week by our admittedly spoiled standards, but this is still the best booked city this side of Downtown Damnation, so put your head down and bear it for a couple of days.
WHAT THE FUCK: Nothing is sacred. There is no god.