When I think of noise, I tend to think of it as the apex of extremity; pure sound so harsh it’s going to melt my brain and cause it to come oozing out of my ears. Granted, my introduction to the genre was the ultra-abrasive works of Relapse-era Merzbow (Venereology, Pulse Demon, etc) and Masonna (Inner Mind Mystique); ungodly endurance tests which I later came to appreciate for their ability to make even the most abrasive extreme metal seem like child’s play. Noise certainly has the power to obliterate, but I’ve come to learn that it also has the power to soothe, as evidenced by Crowhurst’s Everyone is Guilty.
Longtime readers of THKD know that I’m typically not big on live recordings. But, I am big on Sol y Nieve; the upstart Idaho-based label has already released two of this year’s finest slabs of black metal in the form of Nemorensis’ The Lady in the Lake and Hellebore’s Anouof Thwo, so if they deem a live release to be worthy of the same treatment, then I’ll sure as hell give it a listen. I’m glad I did, because Sun Splitter’s Live on WFMU is a sonic nightmare of ultra-corrosive industrial metal that’s more than managed to win me over in spite of my admitted prejudice towards live material.
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.
In recent months, I have come to know Los Angeles, California’s Lord Time as one of the most challenging and idiosyncratic artists in American black metal. Sole member Andorkappen has crafted a distinctive, enthralling vision that’s thoroughly black, yet at times is only tethered to black metal by the thinnest of threads, incorporating elements of drone, ambient and noise to create dense musical tapestries that are nightmarish, surreal and at times abstract to the point where music transforms into pure, free-form sound exploration. Lord Time’s second album, Black Hole at the End of the Tunnel (henceforth referred to as BHATEOTT) was originally issued on cassette back in 2011, but now sees a vinyl re-release via Andorkappen’s own Universal Consciousness label.
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.
Hopefully you chosen few that read THKD haven’t yet tired of my constant praising of Indiana’s Sygil Records, a label that cultivates the finest in left-of-center doom, black metal, noise and beyond. Sygil sent me a pretty sizable care package crammed with their releases a while back, and given that I’m constantly being bombarded with new music from all angles, it has naturally taken me quite some time to give each of them the attention they deserve. After tackling two releases from the mighty Charnel House (here and here), as well as the sadly defunct Avakr, I decided to turn my attention to Agakus, a mysterious entity that creates some truly harrowing dark ambient/noise on IV III II I.
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.
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.
Every year as Halloween approaches, I begin doing things to put myself in the mood to enjoy that most horrific of holidays; decorate the house with all manner of skulls, queue up a slew of horror DVDs, revisit the literary genius of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and most importantly, scare up some appropriately creepy tunes to celebrate the Season of the Witch. Though I typically pick out entire albums rather than individual songs, I thought it might be fun this year to compile a morbid mixtape to share with you, my loyal THKD readers. So, grab a handful of candy corn and gather ’round the jack-o-lantern, not for ghost stories, but for a night of unspeakable audio terror. Although there were many tracks from a variety of genres that could’ve been worthy of inclusion, I decided to keep things as much on the metal side as possible, in the true spirit of THKD. The player is embedded directly below this paragraph, followed by an explanation of each track. Enjoy or die.