Showing posts with label vinyl. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vinyl. Show all posts

Lvcifyre- "Svn Eater" CD/LP (Dark Descent)

Greetings readers. Thanks for being patient with my slight delay in reviews. Today we're visiting an album that's only been out for a couple days and has already been causing quite a stir in the general metal media. I tend to try to steer clear of releases that are receiving larger amounts of coverage, but this one impressed me enough to warrant sharing with my readers. With a name like Lvcifyre, I would normally be slightly hesitant about the music, as the whole business of substituting "v' for "u" is typically an indication of campy junk, but even my first listen yielded great interest. It's evident these guys are dead serious and focused on cultivating a truly evil atmosphere, not just playing with Satanism for laughs.

While Svn Eater lurches in slowly with a nearly five-minute long buildup on opener "Night Seas Sorcery," the rest of the album's nearly fifty minutes passes quickly with very few moments of relief. While the lyrical and visual aesthetic of the album is clearly rooted in black metal's symbolism, this is very much an efficient and precise exercise in death metal perfection. Guitars swirl and roar in lower frequencies, yet don't tread into the more subterranean horror that's so popular now. Instead, this is a modern take on the classic aggression of early 90's acts, relentless and full of great riffs. In fact, the mix is crystal clear without treading into slick or obnoxious territory. Everything is crisp and balanced, exactly as it should be, with just enough variety and nuance to keep things from being a simple rehash of a genre overplayed. Copies of this album are officially on sale from Dark Descent now, so grab it on the format of your choice while it's available.

Yellow Eyes- "The Desert Mourns" EP (SIbir Records/Dead Section)

Readers who have been following for any amount of time should know I've been big on New York black metal group Yellow Eyes since the beginning of my writing career (if you could call a blog a career). In just a few short years, these guys have gone from being a band with a promising demo to being the sort of hot commodity who makes year end lists on sites with hundreds of times the visitor count of my little blog. I've even seen copies of their debut demo going for offensively high prices on discogs, which is a sign of their current popularity, although I'd love to see the band getting that kind of cash instead of folks who bought a tape and never even listened to it. In other words, I love Yellow Eyes and it's incredible to me that they've become such a buzz band. This hype would typically be hard to live up to, but this band delivers time after time. Today we're taking a look at their brand new 12" EP, The Desert Mourns.

Back of shirt. Front has Yellow Eyes logo.
With only one song on each side, this album plays at 45RPM, which is a rarity in my collection, but makes this a real collectible gem. These two songs see Yellow Eyes demonstrating a sound that is truly their own yet instantly welcoming even for those not previously initiated with this skilled young act. Vibrant and bright guitars that cut through the mix with a clarity uncommon in black metal will grab your attention almost immediately after following the band's trademark introductory ambiance. If the band's energy doesn't come through your sound system with the passion and fury of a live performance, then I can only assume your ears or heart aren't in the right place, because this is a gripping, if not unnecessarily brief, demonstration of Yellow Eyes' mastery of the genre and true potential. The drumming is expressive without hogging the spotlight and the vocals are almost scientifically engineered to hit the right degree of presence for this kind of music. There is a sense of confidence that this album displays that, while other releases hinted at, is finally coming to the foreground here. I think the band has always had material like this in them yet perhaps did not have the reputation or experience necessary to share it properly. This isn't really even ambitious so much as it is another step in this already challenging band's continuous path towards dominance of the metal underground. Another thing to make note of is the lyrical expansion. While Yellow Eyes' career started with rather bleak, depressing lyrics fixated on self-loathing, misery, and generally unpleasant themes, they've adapted the position of storytellers rather than miserable black metal dudes. While I'm a fan of both, the growth and maturity of the band has clearly expanded in every aspect of their complete package, which delights me. As an aside, if you're a geek like me, you'll love how intense this gets if you play it at 33RPM instead of 45. You'll have to try it for yourself when you grab a copy.

This album is available on its own in versions unique to both the US and EU, as well as in a bundle with a shirt commissioned for this particular album. I'm honestly surprised this didn't sell out in its first day or two, but that doesn't mean you should wait long if you want to have a shot at owning a copy. Also, yes, I'm still unable to embed from bandcamp for some awful reason. Here's a youtube sample of the title track. Once my official site goes up soon I'll be able to embed properly again. Thanks for the patience, dear readers.

Fallen Empire's New Release Bundle: Tukaaria, Lluvia, & Death Fortress

For your convenience, one of my favorite labels has released a discounted package of their three newest releases. Normally when labels package together releases like this, it's because one is a weak seller or because one is a higher profile release meant to carry along a smaller, newer act. This isn't the case here, with three of Fallen Empire's finest releases to date all packaged as one. One of these is a reissue of an album that is likely familiar to many of my readers, while the other two are new releases from familiar faces. As with every Fallen Empire release, these are available for streaming and download from the label's bandcamp page. NOTE: All images in this review courtesy of Fallen Empire's official photographer, astareth.

Tukaaria- "Raw to the Rapine" LP
This Rhinocervs cassette (and subsequent Profound Lore CD) gem is finally seeing the gorgeous vinyl edition it's always deserved. While I can safely assume that Tukaaria has earned a reputation as a household name for most folks who visit this blog, here's a brief introduction. As with many Rhinocervs groups, Tukaaria's debut full-length is a violent piece of raw black metal, complete with choppy drumming, alternately dense and sparse song structures, and slightly psychedelic guitar touches in all the right spots. The vocals are some of the most human sounding howls I've heard from a USBM group outside of the Colloquial Sound roster, which adds a degree of human misery here that many other Rhinocervs releases lack. As with Fallen Empire's vinyl reissues of other modern USBM classics, the fullness of sound on this release (quite possibly due to a remaster from the legendary Colin Marston) truly makes it worth revisiting, even if you've already got it on cassette or CD. Especially as part of the bundle, this is a must have due to its affordability and high quality presentation.

Lluvia- "Premonicion de Guerra" LP/CS
Lluvia is the newest incarnation of Lord Vast, formerly of The Rain in Endless Fall & Wylve. My experience with this album begins with the insert, which indicates that no matter where on earth Lord Vast may reside, he takes with him the spirit of true Mexican black metal. This seems appropriate, as with this album he has dropped his prior English language ties and, at least in both album and song titles, committed himself exclusively to the proper native tongue of Spanish with this declaration of black metal war. Consistently bleak in atmosphere without catering to silly tactics that many bands use to "set a mood" in black metal, this release sees Lluvia utilizing gorgeously textured tremolo-picking and well arranged clean passages to craft the direction each song will take, weaving blankets of sound rather than black metal's typically jagged song structures. As the project's name (which is Spanish for "rain") would indicate, sounds of storms and rainfall often lead into songs. While this could be easily seen as a gimmick, it feels like a respectable and appropriate sonic decision rather than a cash-in on a theme. Vast has truly channeled the raging force of an oncoming storm. His next assault is already planned for 2014, with a recently released promotional cassette of new demo tracks that managed to sell out in the blink of an eye. If this debut release is any indication, we can only expect greatness to come.

Death Fortress- "Mirror Into Eternity" CS
Expanding upon Death Fortress's excellent debut demo (and brilliant split with Axis of Light) is "Mirror Into Eternity," a clearer, more vicious cassette. For those who were introduced to this group via the SVN OKKLT compilation, the third track here, "Master-Deceiver" will be a familiar tune, and its companion tracks are all equally enjoyable. There's more of a black metal edge to this release than the debut demo's primitive blackened death assault, but the primal brutality does remain intact in the form of a very present, pummeling low end. From what I've come to understand, this is Death Fortress's last release as a one-man project. I can only imagine how heavy this project will become once recordings as a complete band commence, as it's already some of the densest, most evil one-man black metal I've ever heard. While this EP can absolutely stand on its own, I can't help but treat this as a sample of the magnificence to come. In no way does this detract from this brilliant tape, but I truly believe that an impending LP will escalate Death Fortress from "buzz band" to being a prominent artist. Keep an eye out.

New music: Brennendes Gehirn & Dorian Williamson, thisquietarmy, Australasia, and The Chewers

Today we're visiting four albums for our music post instead of the usual three. The reason is that none of these are quite typical Black Metal & Brews releases, yet all four are worth your time and energy. For the readers with a broader appreciation of music (which seems to be most of you), I hope you'll visit with each of these releases and enjoy yourself.

Brennendes Gehirn & Dorian Williamson- "Rites of the Aethyr" CD (Antithetic)
This collaborative effort by Brennendes Gehirn and Dorian Williamson of Northumbria fame is everything I'd want in a versatile droning noise release. Three tracks that are unique even in context of the album they share, as each features a different lineup. The first track, "Involution," belongs to Dorian Williamson. It has an almost womb-like security and palpable emotion in the texture of its circular drones, the rest of the album is decidedly more ominous. The title track is a collaborative effort between both artists, and features a bit of percussion and chanting early on, yet grows into spiraling, crackling madness. Ending the album is the monumentally creepy "Geheimnis," an offering from Brennendes Gehirn, which begins with two or three minutes of speech before growing into some of the most somber and haunting noise atmospheres I've heard this year. Listen to this song in an empty parking lot on a windy night, watching paper and litter blow along. It's hard to feel like you aren't the last person on earth. The album's progression feels like the slow and final fade of the brain as one enters the realm of death. Perhaps there's more to it than that, but the vastness and severity of this release certainly work in my understanding of it. This is absolutely worth your time and interest, so grab a copy as soon as you're able.

thisquietarmy- "Hex Mountains" CD/LP (Denovali)
thisquietarmy has typically been the one-man project of Eric Quach, and while it still is, this album features many guest appearances, including the previously discussed Dorian Williamson. thisquietarmy's trademark sounds are all present on this release of subtle yet dynamic doom and drone, and if anything, this is probably the most expansive release I've heard from this artist.  Perhaps it's the influence of others, as this feels like a very organic album. Nothing is forced, nothing seems to be scrutinized. Instead, the flow of these songs feels like one artist creating something and allowing others to leave their own delicate marks. Triumphant guitars soar across the peaks of snow-capped mountains, while live drums punctuate the already breathtaking intensity and beauty created by Quach in the opening track. In contrast, many segments of this album are passages of minimal sound, with delicate waves of drone crashing off in the distance, balancing out the massive nature of the heavier passages.  While this can be a dark and personal affair at times, I feel a sense of rebirth and self-discovery when listening to this album. As always, it's featured here, so I recommend obtaining a copy.

Australasia- "Vertebra" CD (Immortal Frost Productions)
Italian post-rockers Australasia already graced my site earlier this year with a very solid EP debut. Now they've returned with a full-length album, featuring some of the tracks from their EP as well as some interesting new territory. There's a much stronger vocal presence on this album, although it's still primarily an instrumental affair. These guys are now dabbling in everything from tremolo picking heaviness to subtle synth beauty to dark trip-hop inspired passages, yet it still feels like a very natural progression for these musicians who clearly love experimenting and playing with each other. Fans of progressive or otherwise playful music should enjoy this greatly. Purchase a copy of this album from Immortal Frost while they're still available. Also note--the bandcamp link above only has a small selection of songs from this album, which is far longer than bandcamp would have you think.

The Chewers- "Chuckle Change and Also" (Self-Released)
The Chewers are by far the strangest band I've featured here, and for their strangeness they've burrowed a funky little hole into my heart. Their music feels like a mix of the broken junkyard blues of late-80's Tom Waits and the unconventional madness of The Residents at pretty much any time in the past forty years. This stuff might fall under the whole "outsider music" tag but I'd be the last person to consider myself an expert on it.  Many of the songs are on the shorter side but it works nicely. Rather than allowing tunes to feel like good ideas that stretch on longer than they need, The Chewers let each song exist as it needs to, with no extra instrumentation or needlessly long songs. Purchase a download from their bandcamp and immerse yourself in the oddness. If you're at all curious about the weirder side of music, you need to hear The Chewers.

Cara Neir- "Portals to a Better, Dead World" LP (Broken Limbs Recordings/Halo of Flies)

It's with great joy that I get to write this review. I started drafting this review in May and have been waiting to unveil it for you guys to enjoy. Cara Neir have long been favorites here at Black Metal & Brews, so having the opportunity to share this album with my readers after a bit of a wait is pretty exciting. In every way possible, this album is an expansion of their previous works. The most notable changes are more growth than an alteration of formula. This material feels bigger and more punishing than anything I've heard from Cara Neir before, with average song lengths continuing to increase and some of the heaviest riffs and vocals they've unleashed to date, but all of these descriptors are essentially meaningless to the uninitiated, so let's get a bit more serious here.

The first thing that needs to be touched on here is Cara Neir's genre, or perhaps the lack thereof. Citing bands as dissimilar as Ulver, Neurosis, and Ceremony is typically a surefire way to have a cluttered nightmare of an album on your hands. Instead, Cara Neir have always been able to send their songs out to the universe with a relentlessly focused vision. Listening to a Cara Neir song is like a musical game of Twister, with one hand on grindcore, another on black metal, and another somehow on the better elements of post-rock, all without lowering itself to terms like "blackgaze" or anything with the phrase "post-" in it. Knowing Cara Neir is a shapeshifting beast doesn't really help a listener know what to expect, but it does allow one to enter with an open mind. Multi-instrumentalist mastermind Garry Brents might be the single musician most frequently featured here on BM&B due to his role in mastering albums by so many other bands I love, so it's really no surprise that the production on this album lends a crushing intensity and edge to the music. The guitars dash around vocalist Chris Francis' straight-up demonic shouts, which have only grown hoarser and more painfully human with each release. To say that this album is a head first assault would be wrong though, as the band masterfully alter pace, shift gears, and pretty much manipulate sound and feeling in any way necessary to craft the most painstaking and tragic sounding songs possible. Longing, loss, and the urgency of our finite lives all come to mind, although I have not yet seen lyrics for these songs. Still, there's a pained beauty to everything here and the song names only add to the atmosphere. There are surprises aplenty throughout the album, but I'd rather encourage you to check it out for yourself than ruin the fun. With a year full of black metal inspired hybrids already featured on this blog, Cara Neir has just released an album that keeps them clearly at the head of the pack.

The album is available in two separate bundled packages from Broken Limbs Recordings (either with a shirt, or Cara Neir's split cassette with crusty madmen Ramlord) or simply by itself from either BLR or Halo of Flies. One hundred copies will be pressed on smoky green vinyl and four hundred will be pressed on traditional black vinyl. Pre-orders are already selling quickly and this album will ship out on October 31st. Order yours now, because I don't think these will last long enough to purchase after the shipping date. Listen to the preview below and then hop on this one.

New from Temple of Torturous: Fyrnask and Vom Fetisch Der Unbeirrtheit

Temple of Torturous has graced Black Metal & Brews once this year already with a couple of the most pleasantly surprising releases I'd received, so when I heard there would be more, I knew I had to check these out. Once again, these groups are almost entirely new to me (although I'd heard the name Fyrnask thrown around a bit) so it's been enjoyable coming into this review with virgin ears, so to speak. Let's not waste any time here, as these albums are already up for pre-order. Time to read the reviews and decide if these are for you.

From the beginning of Fyrnask's newest offering, "Eldir Nott," there is an uncanny sense of coldness. Not necessarily in the grim, pure icy evil black metal sense. Instead, I feel the beauty and slight darkness of seeing my breath at night and watching snow slowly take over my surroundings. The production on this album gives the right amount of clarity to Fyrnask's elegantly layered atmospheric black metal while still allowing it to retain its edges. Nothing is cleaned up into oblivion, instead it's nicely presented so that I can hear what I'm trying to hear. As the intro fades into the first "proper" song, "Vigil," the coldness becomes something of a heavy blanket. Still, this music doesn't feel evil so much as it feels passionate, perhaps even deeply spiritual or personal to the artist. The songs flow as almost a seamless piece rather than as a collection of independent songs, allowing for me to fully immerse myself in the dark and fantastic landscape created by Fyrnask's music. It's sometimes suffocating, sometimes tranquil, but it's constantly captivating. If you've ever wanted to go into a snow-covered forest at night and meditate upon your darkest personal demons until the sunrise comes to thaw you from the chilling intensity of your own uneasiness, this might make the perfect soundtrack. This brilliant album is already one of my top releases of the year, and it's unlikely that something will come along to challenge it. Snag this on 2xLP (black or splatter) or CD formats while they last.

Removing oneself from the meditative personal journey of Fyrnask is quite easy when Vom Fetisch Der Unbeirrtheit's jagged and cerebral electronic-heavy black metal assault on "Vertilger" starts with things cranked to eleven. For an album obsessed with the concept of decomposition, it's appropriate that things feel like a series of synapses misfiring. I'm not musically inclined enough to comment on time signature, but VFdU clearly enjoys toying with stop-start dynamics and sporadic drumming that will keep even the most math-oriented listeners on their toes. The vocals are often throaty and painful on this album, and the music is maddening in a way that even makes me feel uncomfortable at times. Conventions such as genre and form are thrown aside to create something truly depraved and unsettling, perhaps this would be a dance party for the sickest of souls, but I find it hard to do much more than simply keep up with the music. I often indicate that an album is challenging, but this album will challenge even those in search of difficult music, which to me is a good thing, but I can easily see this being intimidating to folks who like their metal to be predictable or familiar. Frequently I find songs disintegrating into electronic mush with little regard for length or anything else that most artists use to create boundaries. The album's centerpiece is even a sparse and glitchy industrial piece that feels like it could be at home equally well on a power electronics album as in the midst of this black madness. Normally a release with such little restraint would feel like a forced experiment in excess, but it seems that VFdU is constantly in control of this psychotic acid trip of an album, and the brief moments of overwhelming sound are so well integrated that I can and do find it to be worth visiting. Even if you're not that brave with your musical choices, this is a great example of how to properly generate chaos in your music without allowing your songs to become bloated and masturbatory. Grab this CD (with or without a patch) and lose yourself for a while. Sometimes losing your mind is the sanest thing you can do.

Teratism- "La Bas" 12" MLP (Negativity Records)

(image from Nuclear War Now! Productions)

Today's review takes us to a band that made an early impression on me when I first began seriously delving into the USBM community. A friend lent me a compilation CD entitled Destroyers From The Western Skies, which included greats such as Xasthur, Krieg, and Cobalt, as well as a track from Teratism, which certainly caught my attention as one of the album's standouts. Here I sit, years later, spinning their newest release, La Bas, feeling just as impressed and thrilled as I did when I first heard them. The occult attack is as strong as ever, and these four tracks are some of the most aggressive new black metal I've heard.

The album opens thick and ugly with "Gospel of the Heliophobe" with distorted choirs giving way to bestial madness of the most intense variety. For those who feel I often feature bands that aren't raw or evil enough, here you go. This is probably one of the filthiest black metal albums of the year, yet it doesn't sacrifice the dark majesty of the genre. Vocals are blown out and churning in all the right ways, and the guitars keep it bleak and ferocious without succumbing to simplified or dull riffs. This album's assault rarely relents, and it only seems to do so to add to the horror of the atmosphere. Many bands surround themselves with occult imagery or namedrop Satan any chance they can get, but few are actually convincing. Teratism are vicious and merciless in both music and lyrics, which is refreshing in a genre so full of showboating with minimal effort to back it up. This album closes up with a ritualistic and melancholy cover of "Come to the Sabbat" by Black Widow, a group who are new to me but are clearly worth my attention, as Teratism has dedicated this album to them. Due to its short length and consistent quality, this album certainly begs for repeated spins and has already worked its way into regular rotation in my home.

The album is currently available from Negativity Records's webstore, and comes loaded with extras to top off this demonic masterpiece. The record comes on black and white "splatter" vinyl and is accompanied by a 12-page booklet with lyrics and illustrations as well as a poster with some of the most awesome art I've seen in a while, courtesy of the legendary Mark Riddick. This is well worth the price of admission, and collectors should take note.  As I said, if you feel things have been a bit soft on here lately, don't pass on this one.

Fell Voices- "Regnum Saturni" 2xLP (Gilead Media/Antithetic)

With this post, I return from a lengthy period without writing. It's been about a week, and I've chosen a monster of an album to mark my return to this blog. With Regnum Saturni, Fell Voices have done many things that defied everything I have come to expect, yet have somehow exceeded and surpassed my hopes regardless. I've listened to this album many times and I'm still not sure how to even describe what they've done here. This album has many identities, each of them holding an equal importance and sonic appeal, and to call them all out individually and list them would detract from the beautiful place of balance they've created as an entity. Instead of trying to commit words to something that is both formless and calculated all at once, I've decided to write my review as the band recorded their album: entirely live. I'm about to start listening to the album again, and I'll describe my experience as it progresses

The album opens with "Flesh and Bone," the shortest of the three songs on this album at a mere 17:48. It hums in with some sort of soothing droning instrument that I can't identify. Accordion? Melodica? Synthesizer? I'm not too sure, but it's going to pop up a lot through the course of this album and it definitely sets the mood nicely. The pulsing of the drone is hypnotic yet it builds a certain musical tension as the listener waits for the onslaught to come. After a couple minutes the black metal breaks through, howling onward and upward like a storm of some sort. Vocals are almost entirely buried, serving as another abrasive texture in the ferocity. The first couple of minutes are almost utterly relentless. Just when the listener thinks that this might be the new norm, the song drops just enough for one to discern individual components just as easily as the greater musical piece. The thing that grips me the most is the balance between motion and stillness. The droning quality of the music is a constant, yet the song moves forward at an incredibly rapid rate. The album's cover is almost identical to the images of the hurricane at Saturn's north pole that have recently surfaced, perhaps this is indicative of the musical quality (and would make sense with the album's title). The eye of a hurricane might be calm and constant, yet the winds are wild and unforgiving. So it is with Fell Voices, a balance between calmness and punishing fury. Amusingly enough, many of the riffs spiral in and out of the song in a similar fashion to their peers in Ash Borer's latest album, although instead of Ash Borer's cold restraint, Fell Voices has set fire to everything around them and the arctic guitar patterns are the few glimpses of solace amidst the madness. Around the fifteen minute mark, the song loses control of itself, spiraling ever upward into an explosion that leaves us with the same drone that spawned the album, making way for "Emergence."

By this point I realize the drone is the only moment of forgiveness that the listener will receive. When the metallic aggression returns, it's with less of the misguided fury, forsaking blown out noise for a more direct and precise assault. This is probably my favorite on the album, although I could hardly recommend separating any section of this album from the others. There's a triumphant feeling here that just really strikes my fancy. Around 8 minutes in, the song has hit its pace and if you're not following intently, you're really missing out. Things lock into the most perfect groove and the density of the chaos surrounding this jam just adds to the overall sensation of being a direct part of this rather than a disconnected listener. I'm currently listening to this during a thunderstorm and it's pretty much the most awesome soundtrack. A little over halfway through the song, some of the density clears and you actually get a really good idea of what's going on between all the chaos, and it's truly beautiful. The riffing and frantic pace never slow, yet elements of shimmering, high-pitched melody creep in just long enough to feedback into a return to aggression. If nothing else, this song presents one of the finest displays of mastery over atmosphere I've witnessed all year. The song's peak hits sixteen to eighteen minutes in and the subsequent denoument fades away in a truly gripping fashion, droning into oblivion with wretched voices shrieking out of the void.

As "Dawn" snakes into my consciousness, I'm both frightened and excited. This album does require a degree of endurance from its listener, but the reward is well worth it. Much like the two songs before it, this tune runs you through pretty much any imaginable territory while managing to throw out a few surprises. As the sonic density rises for the listener to meet with the final challenge, there is a calmness and brilliance that resonates throughout each shimmering cymbal crash and each rhythmic riff. This song is the culmination of more than forty minutes of tension. By the time you've made it to the hollow rattling that signals the journey's end, there's a sense of accomplishment, peace, and also a slight sense of loss. Fell Voices' sonic shifting continues to delight me and I'm really happy to have had the honor of reviewing this album. You can obtain this colossal album from either of the labels that co-released it, Gilead Media or Antithetic Records. It's a double LP with an etched D-side and there's even a limited edition shirt available. This isn't just a recommended listen, it's going to be one of the year's strongest albums. Grab it and catch these guys live if you have any opportunity to do so.

Ramlord- "Crippled Minds, Sundered Wisdom" LP (Hypaethral Records)

Some of you may remember Ramlord as that band I once used the word "crushing" to describe too many times. Some of you may also remember that I think "crushing" is an awesome thing that doesn't happen enough in the reviews I write. Specializing in lo-fi black metal often leaves me with a lack of solid headbanging, skull-crushing tunes. Luckily Ramlord exist so that I may write about their boozy, chaotic blackened crust madness and get my daily recommended dose of crushing. To say that this new album is a positive expansion on the material presented on their split with Cara Neir is an understatement, and I'm pretty stoked on it.

I often feel the need to write from the perspective of an educated, intelligent, well-spoken individual, but with music this raw, I feel that flowery speech would detract from just how ferocious this is. Listening to this takes me back to the days when I hung out at basement shows and drank as much cheap beer and whiskey as I could before burrito cravings set in. The difference here is that Ramlord don't seem intent on creating fun for their listeners so much as they are hellbent on imparting bleak fury. I'm nodding my head along while I listen to the album, but I'm also kinda stuck on the fact that I'm going to die one day. All the lyrics seem to lead me back to the impermanence of mortality and the futility of believing in something beyond this world. It makes me just want to dig into the music all the more, clinging to every hideous moment because this music itself is bursting with life, almost in defiance of death. The frantic pace of the music, the harshness and humanity of the vocals, the energy creates a sort of pessimistic beauty. Another thing that really works for this is Ramlord's complete lack of commitment to any one niche within the greater genres of crust, metal, or whatever else you'd call their music. Thirty-second facemelters like "Enslaved" exist in some sort of twisted harmony with the eight-minute closing nightmare of "Extinction of Clairvoyance (Part Two)," which is a continuation of the aforementioned split with Cara Neir. This whole album gives me way too much to digest, but I can say with complete sincerity that I'm okay with a bit of sonic uneasiness. I've always been into discomfort and struggle in music, so the massive quantity of chaotic and cathartic experience here gives me something hearty to sink my teeth into.

So this slab of viciousness has already been available for digital download for about a month, but I'm a total slacker. The benefit of me not posting this until now is that if you're super cool and preorder the record (for a measly fifteen bucks), you've only got to wait about a month for it to ship out. So what are you waiting for? You could have this album for free, or you can be one of only 100 awesome individuals to own this depressing mess on vinyl. I'm part of the second group; will you join me?

The Manx- "Blood Chronicles" 7" (Self-Released)

I've been following the musical career of Tommy Meehan for quite some time. While none of his bands, past or present, would exactly fall into the category of extreme metal, almost everything he's created has had an uncompromising attitude and commitment to originality, no matter how absurd the music becomes. From the Mr. Bungle worshiping ADHD warriors The Brockly Tacos to the insanely catchy electronic grind madness of Razzle Blaster, he's always managed to surprise me without losing my interest. When I first heard about his newest band, The Manx, I was slightly apprehensive. Folk punk? That's a dirty phrase, if you ask me. Somehow, despite my aversion to acoustic instruments making their way into punk rock and hardcore, The Manx have created something so fun that genre definitions are irrelevant.

Aside from transcending and eluding the trappings of many of their peers who seem to simply aim for the disaffected pre-college crowd, The Manx seem to actually enjoy playing their music, which allows me as a listener to get a greater enjoyment. Nowhere to be found are generic political statements about capitalism, nor will you find trite love songs about crust punks. What you will find on Blood Chronicles is goblin-slaying madness that would make any "viking metal" group proud. I feel this music has a stronger kinship with Finntroll's acoustic album than with most any group of punks who decided to go acoustic for a change. The musical precision and finesse displayed here impresses in a genre that tends to rely on simple strummed chords, and the inclusion of accordion adds a chantey-like element to every one of these songs. From the waltz of "Husky Tavern" to the hyperactive digital-only(?) instrumental jam, "Bear Cubs in My Pants," this album has enough diversity to keep things fresh from start to finish and warrants repeat listens due to its moderately brief length.

This album goes on sale and ships out today with gorgeous color-in-color vinyl that is well worth the small seven dollar price tag, especially since it's for sale directly from the artists themselves. While this isn't normal Black Metal and Brews fare, give it a shot. You might find (like I have) that trying something new can often yield beautiful results. If you're not ready to make a cash commitment but have a curious nature, don't worry, the band have also offered it for download at the price you like best over at the same link you can use to purchase it.

Blackdeath- "Jesus Wept" 12" EP (Wohrt Records)

Russian horde Blackdeath are a group with a relatively lengthy history and discography, but I'll admit this is the first album of theirs I've purchased. With well-received releases on many labels, this 12" EP is their first release via Floridian label Wohrt Records, and it's a worthy introduction to Blackdeath's vicious brand of black metal.

"Jesus Wept" is a ferocious slab of mid-paced black metal that conveys the bleakest of atmospheres. The music has a nebulous, almost warped quality to it that sets this record apart from many other black metal groups. While the record is meant to be played at 45RPM, it still has a dark and deep quality to it that initially made me double check to make sure my turntable was playing at the right speed. While some folks may find the depth a bit peculiar for black metal, which has long been known for treble-heavy headache-inducing sounds, it works nicely to instill a sense of unease in the listener and makes the band sound even less human. The vocals are howled in a maniacal fashion that seems to be exclusive to Russian groups for some reason and the riffs are pummeling. The drums keep things in place, but the real highlight is the demonic guitar. Each of the two original tracks on the a-side is bursting with quality riffs that will destroy any feeble listeners  Interestingly enough, following a third original track,the record's b-side features a solid Burzum cover. To be honest, I didn't listen to Burzum very much when I first got into black metal, and I haven't given more than a few listens to any of his albums, but this well-executed cover definitely shows that Burzum's influence is greater than I might have realized and that I should really give it another chance. Just listen to this flawless rendition of "Jesus' Tod" and you'll understand.

Copies of this fierce black metal assault are still available for purchase from the label and come with a variety of bonuses, as pictured above. The record comes with a poster, a patch, and stickers, which further adds to the value of an already strong offering from a band with a lengthy catalog of high quality releases.

Music Review: Trist & Nuit Noire split 7"

Today I'm examining an album by two bands who have been rather heavily hyped, yet have remained unheard by me until now. This split showcases that bands putting out a collaborative effort do not need to sound alike to complement each other nicely. I'll often hear a split album by two nearly identical bands that only serves to blur the line between the two and I find myself assuming that neither was creative enough to distinguish itself from its peer. The opposite seems to be true here, with two bands playing very different styles of black metal that are both quite pleasant to my ears.

Trist gets side A of this split, using it to continue the "Nostalgie" theme. This is "Nostalgie III", although you don't need to hear the others to appreciate this piece of music. I'll admit that this is my first experience with Trist and I still enjoyed it thoroughly, despite my evident need for further familiarity with Trist's body of work. This six minute track jumps right in with a dense and melancholy atmosphere that instantly reminds me of Amesoeurs' first EP, which is one of my personal favorites. The guitars buzz with sadness and the middle of the road tempo works well to create movement without it feeling frantic and abrasive. There isn't a whole lot of variation to this song, but it honestly doesn't need it. The greyscale photography of old buildings and nature that are paired with this side of the split work to create a true feeling of isolation and beauty. I always love when a band's artwork and music seamlessly fuse to immerse me in the experience, so this gets a thumbs up from me. I've long been a sucker for the depressive side of black metal, but have found a lot of recent attempts to be less than satisfying, so this is an incredibly welcome breath of fresh air.

If Trist's side of the split is meant to convey isolation and nature, then Nuit Noire's conveys madness and fantasy. The lyrical fascination with fairies here struck me as a bit bizarre at first, but the artwork and music are both spectacular and the fairy theme has somewhat grown on me. While most black metal bands seem content to talk about suicide, Satan, or Tolkien, this is an interesting subcategory and it brings me some joy to hear an original idea within a genre that's been worn thin. The thick fuzz of Trist's side does little to prepare the listener for the lo-fi punk-inspired black metal that comprises these two tracks. The vocals are pretty much just shouted/spoken in classic punk and hardcore fashion, which gives these songs a little more accessibility than standard harsh black metal vocals would, and helps gives a more timeless feel to the music. This could have been recorded in the late eighties and would have still been appropriate for the black metal trends of the era, which is not an easy accomplishment. The opening track, "Faerie Was Already There" is played at a breakneck pace yet it still manages to have some great guitar leads that make it memorable and catchy. The second track, "Fairies Fuck Humans" is a bit more varied of a tune, with some slower passages creating a nice balance to contrast the intense faster sections. I like to imagine that this is what one would hear when approaching the ominous gates that Nuit Noire has chosen for their logo.

While each side of this split ends rather abruptly, it only leaves me eager to find more releases from each of these groups. If you haven't already grabbed a copy of this split, you'd be wise to do so. Both groups are prime examples of their respective subcategories within the vast sea that black metal has become, and at only seven dollars from Fallen Empire, this record is practically a steal.