Necrolust: Some Stuff I Missed
By now most of you have seen, read, and merrily argued over my Top 15 Albums of 2013 (capitalized because year-end lists are such a very, very serious thing, of course). As you might have noticed, I was only able to write about fifteen records, which for most sensible humans seems like quite a lot but for me is the product of about an hour’s free time. So, in the interest of fairness, I wanted to do a couple posts highlighting the other records that rocked my world and kept my turntable busy this year. Shall we?
Portland newbies Usnea’s self-titled album was number sixteen on my list and it truly hurt to leave them off, not least because I only recently rediscovered them and feel a bit bad for not having sung their praises all year. In short, Usnea craft long, elegant death/doom songs that incorporate tinges of drone, black metal, and sludge; they draw liberally upon funeral doom’s melodic underpinnings and graven tempos without succumbing to the genre’s self-imposed limitations. They also really, really remind me of Samothrace, which is a huge compliment (their 2008 LP ‘Life’s Trade’ is still one of my very favorite albums). Listen/buy it from Orca Wolf:
HOUSE OF ATREUS
I’ve spent all year jocking Sacriphyx with nary a mention of House of Atreus, mostly because I hadn’t realized that they’d sneakily stuck their brand-new EP (out now on Antitheist Disseminations) on Bandcamp. Lo and behold, twenty-four minutes of criminally good melodic death that picks up where their killer 2011 demo left off and tosses a few nice touches of black metal and thrash in to keep things interesting. This is another band that shares sonic similarities with Arghoslent without subscribing to boneheadism; I’m hoping more gritty, melodically-savvy death metal bands like these guys and Sacriphyx will eventually eliminate the need for the aforementioned’s use as a reference point. Listen/buy:
Bathory’s Hammerheart and Nordland I will always occupy a very special, slightly shiny place in my heart, and any band that feels the same is generally going to get my endorsement. With ‘Fire Meets Ice,’ Sweden’s Ereb Altor more than prove their mettle with an album’s worth of soaring, triumphant melodic black metal, epic doom, and folky influences. This is Bathory worship done right; it’s not a blatant rip-off, but rather an unapologetic, loving homage to the great old one. Listen:
The only reason this wasn’t on my year-end list is because I have a crap memory and forgot all about it until well after I’d submitted (and resubmitted, ‘cause I’m indecisive, too) my list to Axl. Salt Lake City is a strange, creepy place, and to its credit, has finally birthed a band that takes all those weird vibes and spins them into extreme metal gold. Gravecode Nebula’s ‘Sempiternal Void’ is a harrowing blend of black metal and death/doom, with spacey, psychedelic elements that scream “bad, bad trip.” Snarled growls and lurching, ominous riffs are smothered in distortion and gloom, fuzzbombed into oblivion and left to suffer. It’s nasty, engrossing music, especially when they get all ritualistic with clangs and moans and hopeless howls. Listen/buy:
The Legion Blotan is one of the most fascinating (and, ahem, reliable) of the microscenes that have popped up on black metal’s fringe. These UK outliers share some of the Black Twilight Circle’s zeal for ancestry and history, but their collected output is much more cohesive, and even more impenetrably lo-fi. This latest White Medal album is probably their most “accessible” output, but I use that term very loosely; ‘Guthmers Hall’ is a raw, stern march through stripped-down black metal orthodoxy, and despite the band’s close affiliation with Legion Blotan (sole member George Proctor runs the label/distro as well as most of Northern England’s black metal scene), the album was actually released by Aphelion Productions.’ Songs like “Return to Pagan Yorkshire” present a simple, almost punk mentality to bestial heathen black metal. Listen / Buy: