The Sun Through a Telescope – I Die Smiling (Mutants of the Monster, 2013)

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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.
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Sewer Goddess – Mutilation Process (Graceless Recordings, 2013)

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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.
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Murmur – s/t (Season of Mist, 2014)

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Black metal is getting weirder.  From Aluk Todolo’s blackened krautrock to Oranssi Pazuzu’s astral psych attack and beyond, the genre has decidedly taken a turn towards the freaky and far-out, and even though it’s only January, it’s hard to imagine another BM band in 2014 getting freakier or more far-out than Murmur have with their self-titled second album.  The Chicago band’s debut for the resurgent Season of Mist label appears poised to kick black metal into interstellar overdrive with a singularly intricate yet highly atmospheric sound that must be heard to be believed.
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THKD’s top 10 Random-ass things I enjoyed in 2013

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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.
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Agakus – IV III II I (Sygil Records, 2012)

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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.
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Halfway to Hell: The year in metal so far.

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2013 has already been a hell of a year for metal. Unlike last year, which saw an overwhelming avalanche of stellar releases, 2013 so far has been more akin to 2011, which was all about quality over quantity. Granted, we’re only halfway through, but at this point I’m still finding it very easy to separate the wheat from the chaff, which certainly wasn’t the case at this time last year. I’m not particularly interested in make lists at this point, but I am interested in taking a look back at what’s transpired so far; it’s always good to recap in order to keep things fresh in your mind and fight the urge to fall back on listening to old shit.

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Charnel House – Black Blood (Sygil Records, 2013)

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My first exposure to the mysterious Indiana duo known as Charnel House came earlier this year in the form of Contagion, an older album from the band that was sent my way as part of a package containing various releases from the great Sygil Records.  Contagion was an instant standout, which is really saying something considering the high level of quality that runs through Sygil’s catalog; the album is a maelstrom of black metal/ambient/noise/doom that sounds like nothing else out there in spite of incorporating these familiar influences.  I had hoped to hear more from them in the future, not realizing that their new album would be showing up on my doorstep just a few months later in the form of the awesome Black Blood.
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The Sun Through a Telescope releases video for “Mr. Yawning Infinity Chasm/Superinfinity”


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.

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Charnel House – Contagion (Sygil Records)

419613_523102457711722_536295447_nAs 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.

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Portal – Vexovoid (Profound Lore, 2013)

Portal-Vexovoid-LargerNo band in existence conjures the musical equivalent of Lovecraftian dread quite like Australia’s Portal.  It’s one thing to simply study Lovecraft and then regurgitate the Cthulhu Mythos stories in lyrics and artwork accompanied by pedestrian extreme metal songs, but Portal take things far beyond the conventions of worshiping at the altar the great author; the blood of Yog-Sothoth flows through the veins of these men, allowing them to create an alchemical miasma of eldritch horror through music.  Never has death metal sounded so alien, so extra-dimensional.
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