Tag Archives: Metal

This Week’s Essential Releases: Actress, Ulver, Braxton Cook & More

Seven Essential

Welcome to Seven Essential Releases, our weekly roundup of the best music on Bandcamp. Each week, we’ll recommend six new albums, plus pick an older LP from the stacks that you may have missed.

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Locust Leaves On Their Mind-Bending Metal Opus “A Subtler Kind of Light”

Locust Leaves

Few bands on the planet are currently taking as many risks or pushing as many boundaries as Locust Leaves. Their debut album, A Subtler Kind of Light, was 14 years in the making, and even a cursory listen makes it easy to see why: each of its four songs are spine-bending corkscrews of sound, moving from one hairpin turn to the next. The opening track alone seems to have about 12 discrete sections, even finding room for an eerie, almost operatic interlude. The result is a twisting, turning, shocking work of genius.

We sat down with Helm of Locust Leaves to discuss the heady subjects of constraints, metal history and status.

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The “Let The World Burn” Coalition Are Setting the Polish Metal Scene Ablaze

Furia

Furia. All photos by Rafal-Kotylak.

“We’re different. We speak a different language, which the rest of Poland doesn’t understand. We’re taller and stronger. We eat coal” quips Nihil, the frontman and driving force behind Furia and several other bands involved with the “Let The World Burn” coalition. Clearly, the man has a grim sense of humor about his homeland of Silesia, a region in the south west of Poland, which also includes chunks of Germany and the Czech Republic. But his comment reveals more than just a wry refusal to take himself too seriously. It’s hard to imagine such self-effacing remarks coming from Les Légiones Noirs, the Black Twilight Circle, or other black metal cults. Perhaps his deadpan attitude is common in Silesia—graveyard humor, if you’re referring to an industrial graveyard. “Silesia is an industrial region, but there are a lot of forests,” Nihil continues, “All those things are strongly related to our music.” Indeed, on their new LP Księżyc milczy luty Furia seem to conjure images of industrial wreckage collapsing slowly in the moonlight, as the forest grows all around it.

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Vastum on Patricide, Mental Health, and Music as Therapy

Vastum_Band_Pic-[photo-credit-Al-Cummings]

Vastum. Photos by Al Cummings.

In the dystopic world of death metal, lyrical themes tend to volley between the lewd and obscene to the cosmic and grotesque. So it’s rare to discover a band like Vastum, who find lyrical inspiration in scholarly sources. Vocalist Daniel (he prefers to withhold his last name) is fascinated by the inner workings of the human mind, a passion that has led him to pursue a career in the field of clinical psychology. Guitarist and vocalist Leila Abdul-Rauf holds a B.A. in both psychology and linguistics, and has worked in administration at mental health organizations for over a decade.

The duo’s work in the mental health field has humbled them, and forced them to ponder the different methods and modes of human communication. Their music takes that fascination even further, dealing with despair, shame, patricide, sexual perversion, and therapy.

In advance of the re-issue of their debut LP Carnal Law, we talked with Leila and Dan about how their lifelong interest in psychoanalysis informs their complex, murky, and wholly intoxicating death metal.

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Album of the Day: Pallbearer, “Heartless”

A sense of foreboding gravity is an essential part of doom, and on their first two albums, 2012’s Sorrow and Extinction and 2014’s Foundations of Burden, Pallbearer mostly embraced that attitude—tellingly, the latter was produced by Billy Anderson, a collaborator of Sleep and Neurosis. But the records also took enough liberties with that grim metal subgenre that the band seemed a prime candidate for crossover.

Those departures have grown only stronger on Heartless, the third full-length from the Little Rock, Arkansas, quartet. Throughout, Pallbearer moves even further away from easy definitions and constraining pigeonholes. Some may call it compromise; others may call it growing up.

The most intriguing thing about the self-produced Heartless is the constant tension churning within both the words and the music. Their lyrics, while still mostly bleak, now leave a little room for cautious hope (“A Plea for Understanding” even features the word “love”). And while still capable of of producing a crushing swing, the band isn’t afraid to unleash a confident, unabashed melodic sensibility; at times, Pallbearer sounds like classic Thin Lizzy, or even Boston (bassist Joseph Rowland wasn’t shy about his enjoyment of the latter in a recent interview). You can hear it in Brett Campbell’s agile singing, easing up into a high register free of the self-conscious “woe is me” despair of so many doom vocalists. You can hear it in guitarist Devin Holt’s mastery of both massive riffage and lovely, proggy lines that flirt with power metal. Heartless sounds like a band finally free to be itself. Let others worry about what to call it.

Elisabeth Vincentelli