Maryland Deathfest 2013 begins tomorrow. I haven’t been to a music festival of any kind since Lollapalooza… 1996. Ok, that’s not entirely true, I did go to local hair band fest a few years back, but I got in for free and was only there for an hour to see Ace Frehley play and grab a tenderloin, so I don’t think that one really counts. Anyway, every year when MDF rolls around, there’s a part of me that wishes like hell that I was going. Take this year’s installment for instance; I’d kill to see the likes of Integrity, Manilla Road, Revenge, Aosoth and Bolt Thrower, what metalhead in their right mind wouldn’t?
I’ll be thirty-four this year; just short of halfway to forty. But I’ve never felt like I was getting older as a metalhead until recently. It occurred to me a few weeks ago when I was attempting to listen to a new album by a band that shall remain nameless and is being released by a well respected label; for the first time, I felt like the crotchety old fart who didn’t understand what the hell the young whippersnappers were doing. I simply could not wrap my head around what the appeal of this album was supposed to be or what the intent was. I shut it off after one track on my first attempt, after three tracks on my second attempt. And that’s when it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.
It feels like it’s been forever since we last heard from The Sun Through a Telescope, but in reality it was just last year that the ultra-demented Canadian drone/metal entity unleashed the fascinatingly bizarre Summer Darkyard EP across a variety of outlets; you might even recall that I interviewed TSTAT mastermind Lee Neutron extensively following its release. The YouTube clip above is for “Mr. Yawning Infinity Chasm/Superinfinity,” the first taste of TSTAT’s forthcoming new full length I Die Smiling, to be released digitally via Bandcamp, as well as on cassette through Dwyer Records and on CD through Mutants of the Monster Records.
I’ve long tried to come up with an excuse to write about Black Sabbath’s Born Again. Most who’ve heard it will probably agree with me that it doesn’t belong on any top albums list you can thing of, yet it possesses a certain strange appeal that’s as much because of its flaws (of which there are many) as it is in spite of them. As I was loading all the Black Sabbath I own onto my iTunes and got ’round to this 1983 disasterpiece, I finally said to hell with it, it’s time to devote some digital ink (not to be confused with the “Digital Bitch;” keep away from her) to one of the weirder metal albums in my collection.
What can I say that hasn’t already been said about the goddamn mighty Darkthrone? It’s been three years since I last interviewed drummer/co-vocalistFenriz, so naturally I jumped at the chance for a second round of interrogation upon the release of Darkthrone’s sixteenth(!) album, the ridiculously awesome The Underground Resistance. I mean shit, it isn’t every day you get the chance to interview your favorite fucking band.
Normally I would never make an entire post revolving around a single song. But “God is Dead?” isn’t just any song, it’s our first taste of 13, the first Black Sabbath full length to feature original members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler together in thirty-five years. Given that there would be no heavy metal (or at least no heavy metal as we know it today) without these guys, it’s uh, kind of a big deal.
I don’t know that I have a favorite band anymore; in my old age I’ve become more of a favorite album guy. But, if I was forced at gunpoint to pick a favorite band, chances are the first one that would spring to mind is Darkthrone. They’re one of the few that can do no wrong in my eyes, whether we’re talking about the twisted death metal of Soulside Journey, the genre-defining pure Norse black metal of the A Blaze in the Northern Sky/Under a Funeral Moon/Transilvanian Hunger trilogy, or their current incarnation as a black/punk/traditional heavy metal hybrid. Even Goatlord, by far the worst album in their entire catalog, has its charms. No matter what direction Darkthrone take their sound in, they do it more than competently and with plenty of attitude, and I in turn always seem to find something to enjoy in whatever they do.
As I continue to sift through the stack of releases the good folks at Sygil Records sent me a while back, I continue to be thoroughly impressed. After tackling the excellent Avakr cassette, I decided to turn my attention to the lone CD format release the label sent my way, Charnel House’s Contagion. I’m not sure when this album was originally released, and information about the Indiana(?) duo is pretty scarce, but given that they seem to have successfully tapped into a sound that takes elements of the familiar and twists them into something stunningly unique, I can’t imagine them staying a secret for much longer.
I’ve been meaning to check out New Zealand’s Beastwars for quite some time, but I’m ashamed to admit that the band somehow got lost in the disheveled and disorganized avalanche that is my “bands to check out” list when their self-titled debut was released back in 2011. In spite of this grievous error, it would appear the metal gods chose to smile upon me anyway, as my colleague Craig Hayes recently hooked me up with a promo of the band’s second album Blood Becomes Fire on the band’s behalf. Just one spin of the quartet’s sophomore opus had me cursing myself for a goddamn fool for not getting ’round to them sooner, because not only is this bad mama-jama right up my alley, it’s one of the all-around best metal albums I’ve heard so far in 2013.
Sleeping on fucking awesome bands seems to be the story of my life lately. My Last.fm scrobbler claims that I’d listened to Faustcoven thirty times prior to getting down with Hellfire & Funeral Bells on my computer for the first time, but I sure as heck don’t remember ever experiencing this doomed excellence prior to taking advantage of Nuclear War Now! Productions’ recent mega-sale and picking up the band’s third album on CD. Granted, I used to listen to a lot of random things while completely shit-hammered at ungodly hours in college, so it is entirely possible that the brain cells that remember Faustcoven have been lost forever to the whiskey gods. Whatever the case may be, after spending a great deal of time with this ghastly recording, all I can say is goddamn, have I been missing out.