With Punxsutawney Phil’s surely scientific prediction that this winter will be a short one looming, let’s get at this before the insidious bastions of Sol are loosed once again on this frozen slab of dirt we call hearth, home, and happiness.
WHAT TO HEAR: We kick this week off in righteous fashion with the first in a string a killer new dispatches from the black metal underbelly. While less revered than its Norwegian and Cascadian (which has a freaking sub-genre named after it) counterparts, there a few more quintessentially “black metal” locales on earth than Scotland, and I (Neuropa), the debut LP from Andy Marshall’s (Askival, In Vito Veritas) new solo project, Fauth, is proof of that and more. Embodying its homeland’s mournful, fire-lit fury in each buzzing, Burzum-esque (sonically, not socially) epic, I stands as one of the first truly meaningful black metal releases of 2016, so if that’s your thing (as it is mine), get over to Fauth’s bandcamp and sell it your soul.
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Up next is another one-man black metal excursion, Ecferus, whose new LP, Pangaea (I, Voidhanger), comes storming out of the Indiana fields today like a low, flat wind. Though “progressive” black metal by the check boxes, Pangaea is less robot brain than Rube Goldberg machine, an organic expression of precision crafted simply for the primal fuck of it. Dizzying in its swirling, riff-cyclone approach and anthemic in all the right places, this one will take you back to a time when water was fire and the skies were ash, so go dig in over at I, Voidhanger’s formidable bandcamp stronghold.
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From the pure strains to hybrid formulas now, we move to California shape shifters, Seven Sisters of Sleep, and their eclectic Relapse debut, Ezekiel’s Hags. Within the first five minutes of the album alone, SSOS move from circle-pit grind to seething sludge, making some sense of their ricochet genre approach—which has drawn comparisons to everyone from Nails to Eyehategod—with the help of assured song craft and massive, memorable riffs. If you can’t decide quite what your in the mood for, consider this record the salmonella-free buffet. Trust me, you won’t leave hungry.
Metronome maniacs also have plenty to leave their woodsheds for this week as well, thanks in large to face-melting, finger-frying new prog/tech death LPs from some of the genre’s longest tenured acts. Italian masters Fleshgod Apocalypse and their latest, King (Nuclear Blast), should probably be your first stop, but the best is most definitely saved for last: Obscura‘s Akróasis (Relapse), easily one of the most staggering displays of maximalism and musicianship on offer this decade. Even if you’re not into that sort of thing, Guitar World’s full stream is worth it for academic reasons alone.
In direct counterpoint to that more-is-more approach, are Portuguese funeral doomers Bosque, who’s latest slab of sorrow, Beyond (Dunkelheit Produktionen), drops from the dark, rain-bloated clouds today. If you take your doom clinically depressed, with a dash of soaring clean vocals, this is going to be your cup of tea. If not, perhaps Voix (The Ajna Offensive)—the latest genre-bending frostblast from French dungeon masters Aluk Todolo—is more like it. Invisible Oranges is calling this one a black metal/kraut rock hybrid, and that’s not too far off, so expose your ear holes to something new and check it out.
Finally lets wrap up releases where they began—in the murky, infected backwaters of black metal—with Ocerco‘s A Desolação (Signal Rex), which comes tearing out of Portugal today with some plenty of potential riding its sprawling black wings like a Nazgul. Set the controls for the heart of the earth and enjoy the ride.
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WHAT TO SEE: I’ve been slacking on shows of late, so get out there and see something for me, starting tonight with Whiplash at Blackthorn 51 and continuing tomorrow with Blue Oyster Cult at the NYCB Theatre in Westbury. You’ll quickly notice it’s a pretty quiet weekend on the proverbial Western front, but that’s nothing Voivod, Vektor, and Extinction A.D. can’t fix when they hit Gramercy Theatre on Sunday. Seriously, if that thrash spectacular isn’t metal enough for you, nothing ever will be.
Monday kicks off the working week in paradoxically crusty fashion, with Night Rite and SKUZ at Saint Vitus, while Wednesday keeps that train rolling over at The Acheron, courtesy of The Brass and NYC Headhunters. Finally wrap up our third consecutive slow week (winter, amirite?) with a full-blown Vitus riff fest— featuring Whores, Fight Amp, Fashion Week, and Haan—that is sure to help get you through yet another week of eating, sleeping, and breathing.
WHAT THE FUCK: As the Phil Anselmo and NAAM mushroom clouds continue to settle, let’s just fucking listen to something, anything, to battery acid the taste of racism/Dragonforce out of our mouths. The Body & Full of Hell’s first collab track, anyone?
Yep, that should do it.