When traditional/proto-doom is done right, there are few things finer, and few if any bands are doing it better than Demon Head. The Copenhagen-dwelling quintet recently had a demo tape released by the venerable Caligari Records, and it’s a slow-burning scorcher that quite frankly blows recent big-name practitioners of the style such as Kadavar and Orchid out of the water. It really is that damn good.
When I reviewed Fuoco Fatuo’s suffocatingly heavy EP compilation late last year, I stated that we’d likely have an absolute beast on our hands whenever the band got around to releasing a full length. I hate to say I told you so, but it turns out this is one of those extremely rare occasions where I was right; the Italian trio have at last unleashed The Viper Slithers in the Ashes of what Remains, and you can rest assured that this crawling king snake of an album is every bit the monster you’d expect it to be.
What’s in a name? I’ll tell you what’s in a name, or rather, what’s not in a name in the case of California doom mongers Weightlessness. After listening extensively to the band’s Of Lachrymose Grief, I’ve decided that their chosen moniker couldn’t possibly be any more of a misnomer. You see, “weightlessness” indicates an absence of weight, but this debut EP wields enough down-tuned heft to sink their entire home state into the sea and then some.
Whenever I want to look beyond the promo pile for new music, I inevitably head for Bandcamp. The site is a veritable world of wonders, a treasure trove of music from across the genre spectrum just waiting to be discovered, and best of all a ton of it is free. The problem is, I discover so much good stuff every time I go on a trawl, it’s nearly impossible for me to write about all of it, or at least, not in a full-on 400 to 600 word review format. So, I decided to start up a semi-regular feature highlighting my favorite Bandcamp discoveries, some new, some old, some great, some absurd, some evil as hell. Without further ado, let’s uh, plunge into the first edition of Bandcamp Band Crap.
I first made mention of the one-man experimental metal madness that is The Sun Through a Telescope as a band to look out for back in 2011, when Bandcamp was just beginning to worm its way into the hearts and minds of metalheads. While those early TSTAT releases skewed toward corrosive, feedback-drenched drone, the project took a drastic step forward later on that year with the release of the Summer Darkyard EP, which saw mainman Lee Neutron beginning to incorporate elements of black metal and electronic/industrial music into its apocalyptic framework. But even that massive evolutionary leap couldn’t prepare me for the all-out insanity of I Die Smiling, which is not only TSTAT’s first full length release but also Herr Neutron’s most compelling and cohesive work to date.
I’ll be the first to admit, I know Jack and shit (and Jack left town) about death industrial, power electronics and noise (aside from the most obvious/popular noise artists such as Merzbow, Prurient and Wolf Eyes), so Sewer Goddess’ Mutilation Process was something of a revelation for me when I received it in the mail from the fine folks at Graceless Recordings. This twenty-three minute live recording is seriously filthy and fucked up, uglier and more unsettling than approximately 99.9% of the metal albums I’ve heard in the past year or so. Evidently there’s a whole wealth of nastiness and depravity out there waiting for me to explore, but for now let’s focus on this, my first foray into a world of shit.
Caligari Records is quickly shaping up to be a label that can do no wrong. First, they ripped us to shreds with the black thrashing excellence of DeathCult. Then, they pummeled the gory remains into dust with the chaotic, noise-damaged black metal of Unru. Now they’ve unleashed the unholy Italian trio known as Fuoco Fatuo to finish us off with a limited run cassette that collects two impressively gnarly EPs (Fuoco Fatuo and 33 Colpi di Schizofrenia Astrale Nell’Abisso Nero) worth of obsidian doom metal.
Normally, this is the part where I get all reflective regarding the year in metal. I had a scathing year-end rant all ready to go, an ice cold glass of haterade to throw in the faces of the all the people and things that annoyed, dismayed and pissed me off in 2013… and then I read what I’d written and realized that I sounded like a complete dick. What’s the point in dwelling on the negative when there was so much good this year? I had one hell of a hard time whittling down my list to just fifteen albums, and there’s still a lot out there that I’ve either yet to hear or yet to fully digest. It’s pretty darn easy to ignore the mountain of crap when there’s an equally tall mountain of greatness staring you in the face, and yet sometimes I forget that… I guess that’s what my anti-depressants are for.
When I first started thinking about how to approach THKD’s year end shenanigans for 2013, I tried to come up with ideas for different types of lists that would get away from the traditional top albums countdown. Turns out I’m more scatterbrained than creative, because what I ended up with was a bunch of stuff that really didn’t fit together or adhere to any sort of unifying theme. Instead of giving up on the idea, I decided to gather a few of these things together under one banner even though it didn’t make any sense whatsoever, just for the sheer joy of it, in addition to a more traditional year end list. So here it is, the second year end “bonus list” prior to the top metal albums countdown, which will be published on 12/13/13; THKD’s top 10 random-ass things I enjoyed in 2013.
2013 is a pretty strange time to be a metal blogger. Big-time labels won’t send me CDs that probably cost all of a dollar to manufacture, but small labels that probably struggle just to break even don’t hesitate to send me the cassette and vinyl releases they’ve obviously put a great deal of time and effort into, effort that goes far beyond the pressing plant cranking out “product” like so many widgets out of a factory. With these releases comes a far more intimate relationship; personalized e-mails rather than e-mail blasts from publicists, and a genuine sense that these labels and artists actually care about what I have to say and genuinely appreciate my support. It’s been an absolute joy to work with the likes of Gilead Media, Sygil Records and Caligari Records, but to be honest when people are so gracious, kind and above all patient, I’m pretty darn hesitant to call my interactions with them “work.”