Showing posts with label yellow eyes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label yellow eyes. Show all posts

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.

Yellow Eyes- "Hammer of Night" CS (Sibir Records)

When I heard that the mighty Yellow Eyes would be unleashing a new album, it was a given that it would eventually make its way onto this site. I'm delighted to say that these dudes are continuing their trend of being great musicians with this release, which is being released by their own new label, Sibir Records. Aside from the standard edition tape, there's an incredible wooden box edition (pictured in this review) available, which was so popular that they had to make a second run of it.

Yellow Eyes' progression musically has always been subtle, but with each release their sound has grown more fully formed and is now as well arranged as it is still urgent and challenging. I've heard some folks throw out lazy comparisons for these guys, but I feel they've crafted their own little subcategory of black metal that is unique and recognizable without outside context. The album opens similarly to their demo, with an ambient sound collage of sorts to create an atmosphere, but it's instantly apparent that things are crisper and more coordinated here than with previous outings. The music still retains its heavily textured and dense feeling but I can more easily separate the instruments from each other and the vocals feel more gnarled in the traditional black metal vein. While few riffs hop out of place anymore, the music is instead angular and distorted while it flows on a somewhat unpredictable path. Still, the music flows so naturally that I can't imagine the songs taking on another direction. What Yellow Eyes do that constantly impresses me is maintaining overtly melodic and tonal songs without sacrificing intensity or atmosphere. I can almost feel myself running through a snowy forest in the dead of night only to find a final place to curl up and die in solitude. The lyrical content's decidedly wretched nature only serves to amplify the coldness of the music, yet I feel more catharsis than wallowing or misery in the songs. This album truly displays the strength of well-made black metal that can and should bring in fans of most subcategories of the genre and serves as one of the genre's high water marks for the year to date. Highlights include the gripping opener "Light Has Fallen" and the instantly memorable "Many Long Fingers Bent In Pain," although no track on this album is lacking. If anything, I look forward to whatever Yellow Eyes' next progression will sound like.

Order copies of this from the label while they're still available, especially if the gorgeous wooden box set is still in stock. It's worth every penny and I promise you'll have a hard time swapping this tape out for anything else for quite some time.

Year End Extravaganza: The Most Beautifully Packaged Tapes of 2012 (According to Jon from The Inarguable)

This post marks a Black Metal and Brews first: a guest writer. Today's guest writer is Jon from The Inarguable, a blog that is well worth your time. In addition to being a stellar blog (with more frequent updates than mine), The Inarguable is actually one of the reasons I decided to start a blog of my own, so it's only fitting that the first guest post is shared with its creator. Without further rambling on my part, here's Jon's list of the most beautifully packaged tapes of 2012.

As a music enthusiast and critic, on average I run into a metric ton of tapes at any given time. A cheaper analog format than its foot-long cousin, the cassette tape has made its resurgence within the past few years, with tape-centered labels like Colloquial Sound Recordings and Brave Mysteries absolutely dominating the blogosphere and endorsements from the high profile (and hopefully slightly resuscitated) Hydra Head Records. Of course, while J-card artwork can gain lots of favor, it's when labels and artists go the extra mile via extended packaging that really champions the return of the tape.

Organized alphabetically. If I have it, chances are I like it, so no need to organize by favoritism. Most of these are sold out, but you should definitely find them.

Aerugo - "Aerugo" (Special Edition of 30) [Sanctum Abyss]

This is some sick stuff, half second wave black metal, half crawling doom, and 100% raw & tortured. As a fan of insane voice sounds, vocalist X's high pitched shrieks are so jagged they manage to pierce through the harsh, lo-fi distortion. Whoa. But this list isn't about the music, so let's talk packaging! The standard edition is pro-printed and housed in a jewel case, but I managed to snag the last copy of the limited-to-30 special edition, which has the jewel case wrapped up inside a piece of screenprinted cheesecloth, then tied up with twine. The fibrous nature of the cheesecloth turns the already ominous cover art into a nightmarish, warped horror. Awesome.

Battle Path - "Empiric" (Special Edition of 30) [Sanctum Abyss]

Oh look, another Sanctum Abyss release! Yes, these guys do a "special edition" of all their releases, and the creativity just keeps building. Battle Path's Weakling-school of black metal met with angry, melodic sludge fits perfectly with the special edition's screen-printed bag of cow's teeth. I hear the label was looking for human teeth, but I imagine that would involve some hefty legal stuff.

Dressed in Streams - "Azad Hind" (Artbook Edition) [Colloquial Sound Recordings]

Colloquial Sound really went above and beyond with a few of their Fall releases, but this Dressed in Streams tape shows them really going above and beyond their already excellent track record. The tape, sans jewel case, is housed with a cone of incense inside a hand-sewn bag. If that wasn't enough, Azad Hind comes with a special art zine which depicts the faces of the British Raj. Funny story about this one, I guess the incense cone managed to make our entire batch of mail smell great. My mom was convinced a package from TotalRust, a label based out of Jerusalem, was the source of the smell due to its Middle Eastern origin. Silly mom, but you were half right, I guess. Oh yeah, and Dressed in Streams's massive, atmospheric black metal is excellent, to boot. If you are not familiar with CSR, you should. Keep an eye out for more special handmade editions, because I hear there will be more.

Fister - "Violence" [Pissfork]

Fister really came out of the blue, but I'm glad I was able to find them before this ridiculously packaged tape sold out. The tape itself is housed in a laser-etched black polycase, which is placed inside a screen-printed reel-to-reel box with a screenprinted artbook. The ink used in the artbook and on the box was mixed with three vials of the band members' blood. Brutal, and all-too-fitting for Fister's brand of extraordinarily heavy sludge/doom metal. Though this box is sold out (I appear to have grabbed the last one), the band will be re-releasingViolence on vinyl, and I hear there are loads of color choices.

Persistence in Mourning - "Absent God/Sleeping Giant" [Black Horizons]

Andy Lippoldt's pet project Persistence in Mourning has gone through an interesting evolution, growing from his roots in traditional funeral doom to an eclectic entity, taking influence and collaborating with the weird and unsettling. If you recall my review of Confessions of an American Cult, Lippoldt concentrates on abstract sounds to put forth his heavy hymns through the medium of harsh electronics and bizarre industrial sounds and Absent God/Sleeping Giant is a further continuation of Lippoldt's adventurous spirit. Black Horizons says this tape "[c]omes packaged in a double OBI with a two panel insert as is becoming the new Black Horizons style. Printed offset with silver ink on moss metallic card stock. Also includes a silver ink on black fabric patch. Silver labels." Let me tell you, I was afraid to open this tape, because everything was so snugly put together I knew I would mess it up somehow. I did, but only at first. Everything fits together like a puzzle with this one, and, yes, that goes beyond the packaging.

SIGE RECORDS tapes 2012

I wanted to at the very least mention the way SIGE, Aaron Turner and Faith Coloccia's imprint, so carefully packages their tapes. Again with the reel-to-reel boxes, SIGE seals them with heavy foil strips and includes hand-sewn artbooks. It's great, and so far their tape output has been nothing but excellent. 2012 brought about SIGE releases of Locrian and Mamiffer's Bless Them That Curse You, Circle guitarist Jussi Letisahlo's Interludes For Prepared Beast, the excellent Pyramids/Mamiffer split, and the Jodis Secret House/Black Curtain 2xCS box, all of which were expertly planned, packaged, and performed. SIGE deserves all the recognition they get.

This one I bought on a whim. I'd seen Velvet Robe's full-length floating around the doom download blogs and I wasn't too sure about it, so I just sort of brushed them over and moved on. When I saw the De incertitudine... tape for sale, I honestly didn't even listen to it before clicking the "buy" button. The entire package (a tape, candle, pin, and envelope with photos and instructions) is held inside a drawstring bag. The tape tape, which is labeled with an old fashioned labelmaker, is housed inside a heavy paper box with the cover artwork sloppily xeroxed and affixed with glue. Normally I would say "amateur hour," but the hasty, sloppy approach taken with this one makes it all the more sinister. This tape is intended for you to crossfade each side into one big, horrifying ambient/noise track, ridden with incantations and old movie samples. Pretty different than Velvet Rope's usual heavy drone/funeral doom, but these guys definitely flexed their creative muscles with this one. I like the old Sears catalog which came with it, too, for some odd reason.

Witch In Her Tomb - "Witch In Her Tomb" [Crippled Sound Recordings]

Another surprise, and from my home state of Illinois, Witch In Her Tomb unleashed a scathing EP of wretched, incredible black metal a la Peste Noire's early material.Man, when this style of black metal is done right, it is done right, and Witch In Her Tomb spare no extravagance. Violins, grand pianos, and acoustic guitars in black metal without losing any power? Sounds pretty good to me. This one's packaging isn't extravagant, but the simplicity was refreshing. A tape housed in a polybag which was then crammed into a lightweight paper O-card. Again, not extravagant, but it's nice to see labels foregoing the usual jewel case packaging for something a little more memorable. 

Yellow Eyes/Monument split [Sol y Nieve Records]

I gushed about this one's packaging in a recent review on my own website, and I'll gush about it again! Though Coleman normally takes the "special edition of x amount" route, the entire edition of 100 tapes was graced with his boundless creativity. I stumbled when I attempted to describe this one, so I'll quote the label: "Pro-dubbed, pro-printed clear c42 cassettes in soft polybox with hand-numbered insert and vellum/construction paper o-card. Limited edition of 100." Unfortunately this one is all gone, but you should keep looking. Sol y Nieve also expertly packaged the Yellow Eyes demo earlier this year, wrapping the jewel case in a Yellow Eyes patch, and the first ten copies of the Dead Dragon Mountain album were housed in a plaster box. Noah knows what's up.


Free Music Friday: Yellow Eyes/Monument split cassette

Today's Free Music Friday was directly caused by a previous review I made. While finding the proper links for folks looking to hear Yellow Eyes' debut cassette, I happened across information about this little wonder. Monument were a band I had heard of before, but had not yet heard. Given how strong my love for Yellow Eyes' debut was, I refused to even peruse the tracks on bandcamp and simply placed my order. While some may view this as a risky move, I knew it would be impossible to grasp the intensity of this music without holding it in my hand and listening to it through my stereo system. When it arrived in the mail (a week ago today) I was thrilled. I was spending the afternoon with a friend and didn't have the opportunity to listen to it, but I kept sneaking peeks at the tape and daydreaming about the music contained within. I told myself I'd hold off for a few weeks before featuring this band again in my blog. This morning I decided against that. This cassette needs to be featured now, while actual purchase is still an option for those who aren't merely content with a free download.

Starting things off with Yellow Eyes' contribution to the tape, I'm immediately aware of two things: they've added a new member to the band since their last recording, and these songs are noticeably longer than any track on their first cassette. Opening track "The Solid Chime of Matching Bone With Harder Strength" slowly creeps in with distant ambiance, which builds towards a full force aural assault that the band carries through both of their tracks here. Anything nice I said about the first cassette is equally true, if not enhanced upon, in this release. The drums are perfectly produced, and the guitars are fuzzy enough to create a great atmosphere but nothing of the musicality is lost. The first song is nearly ten minutes long, which gives me hope that soon Yellow Eyes will be crafting epics upwards of ten minutes in length on their next effort. Few bands can hold my attention for such a span, but Yellow Eyes certainly know how to keep me focused. Rather than dully plodding along, these two tracks sound equally chaotic and beautiful. The peculiar high-pitched dissonant leads that caught my attention on their debut are still here, but are fused with rhythmic passages that complement them perfectly. This music makes me feel like I'm marching towards my death through heavy rain. It's truly brilliant.

Flipping the tape over, it's time for an introduction to Monument. Like Yellow Eyes, Monument provides two lengthy tracks here. Judging by the image on the insert, it's safe to say this is a solo affair, which makes the fullness of this music even more impressive. Monument's opening track "Milchama (Wound)/Coughing Up the Blood of Hope and Love" starts with a very warm feeling drone, almost like the one ray of sunlight making its way through complete darkness (I'm assuming this is the Milchama part). When the drone fades out, Monument conjures up a swirling mess of lo-fi black metal perfection. This side of the cassette has that fuzzed out feeling I love so much, where I get the feeling that the band is performing in the middle of a foggy forest and I'm hearing the music from about a mile away. This music feels much more ritualistic and purposeful than a lot of newer bands, which gets a huge thumbs up from me. There are many slower passages here, that lack not in intensity, but merely serve to create a stronger atmosphere. It's clear that while the music is slightly more stripped down than the A side of the cassette, it's intentionally so, and the mood is denser and darker here. With the bleak beauty of Monument and the spiraling fury of Yellow Eyes, this tape is perfectly paired without simply containing two identical artists.

For those who haven't already made their way to the bandcamp page for this release, I advise you do so now. It's listed at "name your price" and it's required listening whether or not you have a cassette player. If you're into the experience of owning a physical copy, this tape is one of the most well packaged cassettes I've ever received. It's clear that Sol Y Nieve is committed to creating some of the most attractive album experiences, inside and out. Click the label's name to obtain your own copy of this masterpiece for only $5 if the free download just won't cut it for you. I know it wouldn't be enough for me.

Music Review: Yellow Eyes- "Silence Threads the Evening's Cloth" Cassette

So I realize that I haven't kept this blog in line with its name so far. Most of the music reviewed has been extreme in one way or another, but hasn't quite been black metal. I'm not really into the whole argument of "true" versus "untrue" black metal and nitpicking trends and things that make an album black metal or not. This cassette is one of my favorite black metal releases of the past year. Yes, it's unconventional and certainly draws its inspiration from outside the standard realms of the genre, but in no way should this excellent album be dismissed. Before I even get into the musical content, I need to state that this copy of the cassette was sent to me directly by a member of the band. I was attempting to buy it online, but Yellow Eyes were in the process of transitioning to Broken Limbs Recordings and there were no copies to be found online. I contacted the band to inquire about the timeframe of the release. After a few weeks, they got in touch with me apologizing for the delays and sent me a copy from their personal collection due to my patience. This sort of consideration and kindness is uncommon in the extreme metal underground these days and my respect for these guys grew considerably with this gesture.

Yellow Eyes play a unique brand of black metal that is pummeling and catchy in all the best ways. Any time a song gets a bit ugly and uncomfortable, a dissonant melody comes in to change the pace and encourage the listener onward. One of my favorite things about this album is the fact that almost every other track is an interlude of sorts, creating an unsettling ambiance. These pieces are creatively titled, often focusing on controlled drones and nature sounds, and create more tension than some of the "metal" songs on the album. I'm a sucker for a great buildup, and these tracks work quite well to serve that purpose. The opening song is a three minute long piece in this vein, entitled "Guilt Lingers at Sunrise." It builds perfectly into the epic "My Candle is Gone But I Do Not Move," which opens with a guitar riff reminiscent of some of Nargaroth's stronger moments. The atmosphere is both depressive and chaotic throughout this album. The vocals are howling and unhinged, something of the bastard child of Jane Doe-era Converge and early Burzum releases. This is demented and wonderful music.

Between the spiraling guitars and the dense atmospheres, this album is pretty much the exact kind of music I love. It's fuzzy and hideous, yet it has enough melody and diversity to keep me interested after repeated listens. Tracks like "No More Than A Soaked Plank" and the violent title track stand out as some of the most memorable songs I've heard in quite a while. Also, the tape's packaging is just incredible. It has its own sleeve, made from what appears to be a Yellow Eyes patch that has been sewn to itself in such a shape. I want to use it as a patch, but I'm also terrified of damaging such an excellent piece of packaging should it not be intended for use as a patch. Perhaps this review will help clarify it. Regardless, this is a highly impressive slab of chaotic black metal with some outside influences that only add to the wonderful chaos this vicious trio creates. I look forward to their split with Monument, which I just ordered from the fine folks at Sol y Nieve.

If there are copies left out there, I'm not sure where they are, but I'm totally going to encourage you to check the album out on bandcamp for the price you see fit and help support future output by this excellent group.  And guys, if you're reading this, thanks so much for sending me this tape. It's been getting the love and respect it deserves.