Songwriters are often in pursuit of honesty. They want to express the contents of their souls with authenticity and truth. However, these expressions are often refracted through lenses of ambiguity which can leave the listener guessing as to the real truth at the source. It is perhaps less common, and maybe more courageous, for a songwriter to tell us what’s really going on in their day-to-day thoughts without hiding beneath the mystery of their poetry. Continue reading
Revolver Magazine recently relaunched their website, and it’s pretty damn awesome. Not only do you get the news you’d expect, but they’ve also introduced new video series such as No Distortion. This series invites heavy-music artists to switch off the amps, strip down the songs, and showcase their more introspective side. The first video was just released, and features Myrkur performing a masterful cover of King Diamond’s “Welcome Home” on piano. Continue reading
One thing about Trent Reznor, he never seems to get complacent. Part of that is the artist inside of him won’t allow atrophy of his creative muscles very long. The strength of his need to keep growing forward and evolving, Reznor continues an over decade long hot-streak of new and varied output either as a solo artist, entrepreneur, film composer, visual artist, fashion designer, his other band projects such as How To Destroy Angels and of course with Nine Inch Nails.
Metallica released Hardwired…To Self-Destruct to the masses last month, and fans all over the world responded in a huge way. Continue reading
As we dash towards the holidays and the end of the year Ghost Cult is feeling good about this season of giving. So we are giving our fans a chance to get to know our partners, peers, and friends from bands in the world of music. They will chime in with some guest blogs, end of year lists, and whatever else is on their minds as we pull the plug on 2015. Today we have Joseph Spiller of progressive metal band Caricature. Caricature put out the acclaimed Shadows: Maxi Single this summer have a full-length in the works for 2016. Here is Joseph’s “Most Topesty Cool Favorite Releases of 2015”.
1. Tigran Hamsayan – Mockroot
How often can an album tote a definite influence of Meshuggah, Dave Brubeck, Keith Jarret, and Porcupine Tree? Add on top that this is still a pure jazz record? Pfffft. This is the sound of someone furthering and redefining a genre.
2. Fetty Wap – Fetty Wap
Yeah, before anyone says it sucks because it’s not metal, listen to this record. Fetty is all hits, all the time. Zoogang knows how to make pop hooks as if it’s in their DNA.
3. Steven Wilson – Hand.Cannot.Erase
Backing band of the century along with the golden god of Prog. Though it gets overly self-indulgent from time to time, Hand.Cannot.Erase is absolutely stunning.
4. Psycroptic – Psycroptic
Do you even riff, Bro? Joe Haley most definitely does.
5. Ghost – Meliora
I never got the hype on this band. I actually disliked almost everything prior to Meliora, but goddamn, did Papa bring that A-game with this heavily Dave Grohl “inspired” record.
6. Abigail Williams – The Accuser
Who doesn’t love a good comeback? Possibly the best thing Ken Sorceron has ever done. Crushing and beautiful with rich song structures. BUY THIS RECORD NOW!
7. Lamb of God – VII: Sturm Und Drang
After all that went on with Randy, the band came back and tell that tale along with snapshot a troubled time in the world perfectly. The riffs and drumming on this record are some of their best to date, and Josh Wilbur killed it on the production side.
8. Baroness – Purple Record
Another “Comeback Record” of sorts. Stronger, more refined, defined. The mesh of only the finest points of Yellow & Green mixed lush instrumentation and what sounds like an intense infatuation with The Cure. This one has it all.
9. Ellie Goulding – Delirium
Though not an immensely technical singer, Goulding has a golden voice. The slight raspiness and harmonically rich tambre makes me envious. This album is LONG for the pop genre, but its all top quality with fantastic hooks meshed with smooth beats and tranquil melodies.
10. Solution .45 – Nightmares In The Waking State
If you don’t know who this band is, we probably cannot be friends. GROOVES
EXTREMELY HONORABLE MENTION:
I’ll be Me – Soundtrack
The delayed release of the soundtrack to the documentary about the legendary guitar player, singer, songwriter, and former member of The Wrecking Crew, Glen Campbell, who has been battling Alzheimer’s Disease for the past few years. This has two live songs from his final tour that will blow your mind considering his state, along with songs from his daughter that will make you cry while your heart flutters. The title track, penned by Mr. Campbell himself as a final letter to his wife and family will give you goosebumps (unless you don’t have a heart.
‘Devil Is the Man’ comes from Julie And The Wolf’s forthcoming début album Ablaze, releasing on October 30th from the Audiogram label. Imagine Nine Inch Nails’s Ghost EP, put through a filter of bands like Anathema and the mellower moments of ISIS and you begin to understand the framework of Julie And The Wolf’s mindset. Julie’s hypnotic, vulnerable piano lays the foundation for vocalist Wolf Merzbacher’s heart breaking vocals and lyrics. The meshing of the two talents is breathtaking.
Those who caught last year’s startling eponymous EP from Danish priestess Myrkur will surely be frothing at the mouth in anticipation of début album M (both Relapse). The bewitching amalgam of aesthetics and frozen agonies decorating that EP is, it seems, the template here also: the tremendously affecting medieval harmonies and instrumentation of opener ‘Skøgen Skulle Dø’ gradually fired by a solitary scream and tremolo underpin, while the drop into the eerie coda is both stirring and unnerving.
The early stages of the album show a progression from that début, thanks in no small part to the production skills of Ulver’s Garm, and a host of guest musicians including Teloch and Christopher Amott. The tuba and piano marking ‘Hævnen’ are incredibly effective, whilst truly powerful roars and explosions of sound are balanced by winsome intonations. The lead guitar of ‘Onde Børn’ is augmented by apt pedalwork, giving it an ethereal quality which deafens the down-mixed, trad metal-style riff and blastbeats. As subtleties threaten to engulf, harsh strings produce a delightfully jagged, edgy coda for an almost perfect unity twixt the two poles.
Vocals are at times both exquisite and euphoric: the spellbinding ‘Vølvens Spådom’ a siren’s call, the blend of ecstasy and mourning given staggering might by a reverberating riff. The marching, resonant drums of ‘Jeg Er Guden…’, meanwhile, are enhanced by chiming bells and delightful switches from languid inflections to coruscating rasps. Indeed it occasionally feels as if the Black elements of Myrkur’s sound are something of a supporting cast: the heartbreaking beauty of the Tori Amos-esque ‘Nordlys’ and closer ‘Norn’, plus the lamenting ‘Bissan Lull’ sticking in the mind longer than the nonetheless effective ‘Mordet’ with its blend of Black and NWOBHM rhythms.
There remains enough hostility on offer to keep our extremists intrigued: ‘Skaði’ in particular, with truly chaotic, fearful passages akin to Aevangelist infesting its haunting body, leaves the bones nicely chilled. That something special is at work here cannot be ignored, and M is further proof that this talented, inventive lady is set to confound, attract, entrance and unite disparate factions for years to come.
With recent black metal releases either making you want to march off into battle (Winterfylleth) or spend an evening viciously murdering crackheads in an urban underpass (Anaal Nathrakh), it’s refreshing when an album comes along that’s perfect for merely slumping back in your chair and drifting off into the void. Dutch trio Laster are the architects of said proposed lazy endeavour but don’t be fooled into thinking that their debut album De Verste Verte Is Hier (Dunkelheit) is a snooze-fest, for it contains a plethora of fascinating motifs that demonstrates once again that atmosphere matters more than mindless aggression.
Nestling somewhere on the outer-reaches of the black metal spectrum where drone, ambient and Shoegaze converge for an exclusively morbid and dream-like tea party, the 45 minutes of De Verste Verte Is Hier is akin to wandering through a ruined, expressionist landscape of abandoned factories, mist-shrouded plains and decaying, haunted cathedrals. The riffing veers between light speed ferocity that calls to mind Krallice if they were given a heavy dose of lithium to more mid-paced plodding that references the darkest lights of the USBM depressive scene, such as the suicide obsessed Xasthur.
There are enough noticeable differences between songs to ensure that the same ideas aren’t merely recycled with a vaguely different coat of paint, such as the horribly surreal choir-and-shrieking section that appears in ‘Tot de tocht ons verlicht’ and the devastatingly bleak piano passage in ‘Ik – mijn masker’. But the real rug-pull moment comes in the arse-shakingly danceable post-punk of the title track, which is like being in a nightclub with Cenobites for bouncers.
All in all, a thoroughly impressive debut from a trio of talented multi-instrumentalists who know how to paint grim pictures with enough beauty mixed in to warrant many a further inspection.
My first experience with WITTR was when a friend gave me a copy of Two Hunters and described it as “American hippies who think they’re Burzum”. Not an entirely fair description, perhaps, but one that stuck in my head to such an extent that my first thought upon listening to Celestite (Southern Lord/Artemisia) was “they’ve finally reached the prison albums”.
No strangers to developing and refining their sound, the brothers Weaver here celebrate the end of a self-described trilogy of albums by jettisoning the one musical element that remained constant throughout them. Despite the guitar rumbling in the background of some tracks, Celestite is very deliberately not a Metal album at all, fully embracing the Dark-Ambient/Soundscaping territories that several of their contemporaries have already experimented with. Within their new field, WITTR’s sound is rather broad. Swathes of moody electronics recall Ulver’s Lycantropen Themes, rumbling valleys of feedback suggest Earth or Sunn O))), dramatic synths recall Goblin and – yes – the odd plinky-plonky piano does indeed call Varg’s porridge-period to mind.
Metal fans sometimes dismiss this sort of thing as easy, but it can be extremely challenging to build a sense of drama without recognisable riffs or song-structures (even the abstract forms of them used in WITTR’s style of black metal) if you’re used to writing with those things. The worst dark ambient sounds thoughtless, the best very deliberate and driven by clear intent. For the work of a group coming late to this music, Celestite falls mostly on the right side of that spectrum, with only the middle track ‘Bridge Of Leaves’ collapsing into unstructured ambience and costing the album some of its momentum. By nature this is background music, Metal listeners may find it withdrawn or even boring, but approached with the right expectations it reveals more going on than you may initially think.
Switching from black metal to ambient electronica is nothing new, of course –Ulver having blazed that particular trail over a decade ago – but WITTR have released a confident, purposeful foray into the style, and an indicator of future greatness if they remain in this style.