Metal and Coffee’s Mini-Metal Mixtape, presented by Ghost Cult Magazine is back with another new episode! Time to get your weekly dose of an essential mix of the newest extreme music by essential bands, and a few classics baked in there too! In the latest edition of Mini-Metal Mixtape, episode #23, curated by Ebonie Butler a.k.a, Metal & Coffee, she brings jams out to Thou, King Woman, Year of No Light, Boss Keloid, and Baptists. In her 12-year journey as an extreme metal DJ, Metal & Coffee has delved into the depths of the heavy music world to bring you a new mix each week. Metal & Coffee has been featured on Philadelphia’s most popular college radio station, WKDU 91.7 FM, and has also spent time as the resident New Releases DJ over on GIMME METAL. Stream the newest playlist right now!
Big time artists do big-time things, at big times, to paraphrase my favorite sports analogy. 2018 is shaping up to be a crazier time in the world than ever, full of chaos, and special kind of hubris that fuels the mania. Art is typically a reflection of society, and for me personally, I have been clinging to art in a vain attempt to help save my own life in this tumultuous time. One of those artists giving me life has been underground supergroup SUMAC, with songs as big as the all caps in their name. Turning in yet another massive release with Love In Shadow (Thrill Jockey), the band peels back the curtain on this undercurrent running through all of us and shows us the glorious ugliness many choose not to see.Continue reading
Ghost Cult once again brings you another “End Of Year” list, as we close out 2016. Today we get a list from David Gates of Nashville sludge and doom rockers Season Of Arrows. The band just signed a new record deal with Argonauta Records, Give it to the Mountain, due out on March 24th 2017. David puts down his axe, and picked up his laptop to send us in his essential list of albums from this past year, and it’s killer!Continue reading
With the formation of SUMAC back in 2014 featuring Aaron Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom), Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) and Brian Cook (Russian Circles, These Arms Are Snakes) and the release of their début album, The Deal, shortly afterwards, the metal community was taken back by the sheer exponential experimentation that was introduced on this project. And let’s just say that they left quite a raw post-metal-ish impression. Nevermind that the expectations were already set pretty high with such an all-star line-up, but what is more stunning is that they met them effortlessly with The Deal, showing the machinic beauty in minimalistic chaos.
Now one can only wonder what to expect from SUMAC’s sophomore release, What One Becomes, having newly signed to Thrill Jockey Records. How are they going to show progress after such a smashing début? Well, they sure as hell did something because the bar has officially been set higher for all bands in the cold metal game. This 5-track LP is a masterpiece of mechanical pandemonium and order, props to Kurt Ballou (Converge) for mixing. All tracks clock in a minimum of 10 minutes, with the longest one, ‘Blackout’, being a 17-minute journey. One of the aspects of this record that stand out the most from the previous is that on the balance scale of control and chaos… a tad more weight was placed on control although chaos still has more emphasis.
The first stand-out track, ‘Image of Control’, pushes out an interpretation of what it feels to be in constant battle with an anxiety-ridden mind. It begins its manifestation with confused out-of-key guitar distortion and cavernous vocals. But as the clouds of confusion begin to break, the lone guitar signifies the deep breathe of relief to finally gain order in the midst of it all. And so begins the heavy monologue of awkwardly orchestrated harmony between the zombie guitar/bass riffs and marching drums. To the untrained ear, it may sound like just noise. But with each additional listen, one will realize the strong musicianship and technical skills needed to create this amazing sound.
Another stand-out track is, without a doubt, ‘Clutch of Oblivion’. It starts off with a somber annunciated guitar riff which leads into a slow progressive groove that can easily give you an Isis flashback. But SUMAC is a lot dirtier sounding and experimental, which is one of the greatest differentiations from the band members’ past projects in general. Nevertheless, the track suddenly shifts from that familiarity to this wall of epic sound, bringing the listener back down to harsh cold earth. The technicality is most notable on this track because the time signatures throughout this entire track (and every track for that matter) are so strange and unpredictable that it leaves you intrigued.
With the magnitude of progressive and experimental metal available for your listening pleasure, you can often find yourself knowing what’s coming next whether it be a down tempo breakdown, extended distortion or ambience. But with SUMAC, you truly cannot see what’s coming. Every track on the album leaves an everlasting feeling and one can easily find themselves circling back through the entire album without hesitation. This solid body of work is truly a highlight of 2016 metal releases thus far and will surely be on plenty of end-of-the-year lists.
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Jan 28: The New Vintage – Louisville, KY @ The New Vintage (w/ Xerxes, Parlour, The Foxery, Black God -FREE show)
Feb 26: Vancouver, BC @ Electric Owl (w/ Old Man Gloom, Baptists)
Feb 27: Seattle, WA @ Crocodile (w/ Old Man Gloom)
Feb 28: Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR (w/ Old Man Gloom)
Mar 02: Café Coda Chico – Chico, CA ( w/ Old Man Gloom)
Mar 03: Bottom of the Hill – San Francisco, CA ( w/ Old Man Gloom)
Mar 04: The Echo – Los Angeles, CA (w/ Old Man Gloom)
Mar 06: The Hideout – San Diego, CA
Mar 13: Berserker Music Fest – Detroit, MI (w/ Poison Idea, Child Bite, Nervosas)
Mar 14: Fifth Quarter – Indianapolis, IN
Mar 15: Melt – St. Louis, MO
Mar 18: Gasa Gasa – New Orleans (early show)
Mar 20: SXSW – Austin, TX
Mar 21: SXSW – Austin, TX
SUMAC (Baptists, Russian Circles & ex-ISIS) has unveiled more information on their forthcoming album The Deal, out February 3, 2015 via Profound Lore. The record was recorded in Seattle, WA by Mell Dettmer with Kurt Ballou (Converge) mixing it. Check it out here.
01: “Spectral Gold“
02: “Thorn In The Lions Paw“
03: “Hollow King“
04: “Blight End’s Angel“
05: “The Deal“
06: “The Radiance Of Being“
Baptists is streaming their video for “Bloodmines” here. This is off their album of the same name, out now via Southern Lord.
SUMAC is a new group with singer/guitarist Aaron Turner (ISIS), drummer Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) and bassist Brian Cook (Russian Circles, ex-Botch) and has released a preview video for their debut album The Deal, out February 3, 2015 via Profound Lore/Sige. Watch it here.
Their live debut will be at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver, BC this Friday, December 4, 2014, opening for Deafheaven.
The Druids of Doom Cometh, The Final Night
Sunday, October 19th, 4:00 PM. Sundays have a very distinct feel to them. Many a song and poem have been written about this undefinable quality, and while there are many perspectives on exactly what that might be, there appears to be a thread that strings most of them together. That is, Sundays feel the like the end of something, both literally in terms of it being the last day of the week, but also in a more esoteric way. So when afternoon on the last day of Southwest Terror Fest rolled around, that feeling of ending was very evident. Downtown had a lazy feel to its movement, no one was in much of a hurry. The scene in and around the Rialto Theatre was a bit more upbeat, what with staff and bands loading in gear and attending to all of the other behind the scenes minutiae that make an event such as Terror Fest run.
When the venue opened and the fans gathered for one final stretch of time with the final four bands, the mood was anything but lazy. Tucson hardcore stalwarts Sex Prisoner got a bit of a mosh pit going with their raw and abrasive tunes, and Obliterations took their cue from that beginning by delivering a smashing set of blistering songs made from a coarse blend of Black Flag and Black Sabbath. Well into their ripping set, the vocalist for Obliterations took a moment during one song to remark that “We’re not finishing this song until everyone gets on the fucking stage!” He then proceeded to help drag the front line mosh participants onto the stage until it was crowded to the nines, and then they finished the fucking song, complete with a circle pit swirling all around the stage. This was another one of those highlights from the fest that will be remembered for some time to come. To see a band perform in the midst of such non-choreographed madness with effortless ease is pretty damned neat.
Following the fury of Obliterations, Baptists, hailing from Vancouver, Canada, put the finishing touches of power and speed onto a night already productive of much along those lines. With crusty hardcore and a plethora of D-beats, the band commanded attention throughout their nonstop, pummeling assault. The band as a whole is excellent at what they do, but drummer Nick Yacyshyn is the most absolutely crucial element to their sound. His incredible energy, lightning quick fills, and his fresh take on punk/hardcore drumming is something that needs to be noted for posterity’s sake.
Once Baptists were done playing, things got a little tense and anxious around the venue. Everyone knew what was next. Here it was, finally about to happen…Sunn O))), live and with the full glory of the Omega Quartet. What may not have been apparent to all during the evening could not be overlooked any longer once all of the gear from Baptists was removed from the stage. The gigantic rig of cabs and amps, so crucial to Sunn’s sound, had been an imposing presence on the backline all day and night. After some tantalizing amount of time, the conditions were finally just right for Sunn to do what they do best. As the house lights fell and the fog machines began to fill the entire venue up with copious amounts of the cloyingly sweet stuff, a series of eerie horror movie music kept going on and on while the dense crowd awaited the coming of the drone. It seems as if Sunn O))) were messing around with the crowd and delaying their appearance with a few extra teases. Finally, when the robed ones walked out from stage right and left, shrouded in fog and purplish blue light, it was time to burn.
It is nearly impossible to accurately relay just how monumentally insane the sound of a Sunn performance is to someone who has not heard and felt it. The sheer output of energy from all of their gear floods the senses, shakes the internal organs, rattles the roots of teeth, and even vibrates the marrow within bones. It feels like a rift in reality is going to be torn wide open and a doorway to another dimension opened. As the band is projecting out this incredible mix of tones, they look as if they are invoking the rites of some occult ritual. Between the hooded robes and bladed mirror costumes, the raising of hands and guitars to the sky, or the overly reverent way in which a note is played and sustained, Sunn live is not a concert, but a true exhibition of theatrical performance art. It only grew more grandiose once vocalist Attila Csihar (Mayhem) joined the rest of the band on stage and added the throaty distinction of his voice to the cacophony. Watching the evolution of the set from one point to the next was almost timeless in a sense, as if a bubble of some otherworldly stasis was created around the Rialto Theatre for who knows how long. The set was more of one gigantic piece of music with some obvious composition behind it, but otherwise completely unconventional and unlike anything else on earth. When it finally ended and normal reality came back into focus, the feeling was probably not unlike that of someone who had just been through the experience a tornado or hurricane churning through their life, albeit a very slowly moving one. Completely surreal and unforgettable, the druids of doom that call themselves Sunn met and exceeded all of the hype that had come attached with their name. The records will never sound the same again after seeing them live. One just does not compare to the other.
So, thus Southwest Terror Fest III: The Western Front came to an appropriate end. The entire four days were a joy and the lineup was incredible not just due to the big names, but because it gave the excellent selection of smaller regional bands a chance to show that they too have something to offer and can hold their own alongside the veteran acts on the bill. There were no obvious points of conflict among the crowd, no major technical issues, or any other glaring problems that can make some festivals more of a hassle to deal with than is necessary. The only real gripe was the sound and the cramped conditions over at The District, which were unavoidable realities due to the design limitations of the building, but tolerable enough to be only a minor concern. This year was definitely the best one yet, by far. A huge leap was taken in streamlining the lineup to a “quality over quantity” way of thinking and by securing the historic and professionally run Rialto Theatre as the main venue. So what will they do in October of 2015? You never can tell, but after the success of this year, it seems that the only way to go is bigger, louder, and even more terrifically terrifying.
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WORDS: RYAN CLARK
PHOTOS: VALERIE LITTLEJOHN