all them witches - nothing as the ideal

All Them Witches: Nothing as the Ideal (2020)

My shying away from a lot of modern metal doesn’t mean I’m shying say from modern (or more accurately, current) rock. All Them Witches was a revelation to me back in 2016 when I discovered their Lightning at the Door album through some mutual friends. Over the years the band has expanded and contracted, moving in subtle directions where the emphasis can fall on multiple genres – some more successfully than others. Trimmed down to a trio, Nothing as the Ideal locks everything into place, creating am monster of a rock album that feel simultaneously timeless and of every time. It’s a banger, in other words.

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stormkeep - galdrum

Stormkeep: Galdrum (2020)

Even though my drive for metal – particularly new metal – has been on a significant wane, an ember still burns. It’s become more selective, and when I hear something that registers it can still pull me into that space where I am transported. Black metal has always held place for me; after all, it was the musical language that I used as the foundation of what would grow into whatever Necrolytic Goat Converter is. Over the years I’ve become more picky as to what I listen to within the genre, and it’s heartening to hear a band like Stormkeep keeping the old school flame alive without actually…you know, burning churches or spewing hate. I missed the boat on grabbing their debut Galdrum on vinyl but nabbed a CD because hey: support the bands you love, right?

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yellow eyes - rare field ceiling

Yellow Eyes: Rare Field Ceiling (2019)

I listened to a lot of albums this weekend, mostly classic rock (Grateful Dead’s Live Dead) and modern rock trying to sound classic (Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell’s Very Uncertain Times) but it was the cold and somewhat impenetrable Yellow Eyes that got me to stop and think “I should write about this.”  Because Rare Field Ceiling, like all of the band’s other records, has the peculiar trick of frustrating me even as it draws in me into its maelstrom. Continue reading “Yellow Eyes: Rare Field Ceiling (2019)”

baptists - bloodmines

Baptists: Bloodmines (2014)

How many seconds into Bloodmines, the second full-length from British Columbia hardcore outfit Baptists did you become aware this was recorded and produced by Kurt Ballou?  It’s unmistakable, and that’s a huge plus if you’re a massive fan of the man’s work as a producer.  If you’re not, I don’t know if anything is going to change your mind here, because this sounds like like any number of hardcore bands recorded under the Godcity banner.  Make of that what you will. Continue reading “Baptists: Bloodmines (2014)”

belus - apophenia

Belus: Apophenia (2017)

The first thing I noticed about Belus was the drumming.  Listen to how the drums practically skip over the melodic black metal riffing on “Chasm,” the opening track of the band’s debut album Apophenia.  It’s a marvel of work, on par with the first time I heard someone like Brann Dailor explode on Remission or even (gulp) Lars play on And Justice for All.  It immediately serves to move Belus apart from what the glut of other melodic black metal bands are doing, and makes Belus one of the best modern US black metal releases in some time.  Continue reading “Belus: Apophenia (2017)”

behemoth - the satatnist

Behemoth: The Satanist (2013)

It would be a simple thing to talk about The Satanist in terms of Nergal’s bout with leukemia, how in the face of sickness and death he found it within himself to create a towering work of death metal fury, the rage and volume a shout against his condition, his mortality, and his reliance on a higher power.  I’m pretty sure a ton of magazines and sites did just that.  But coming to the album, and to Behemoth years later, I’m left with the realization that – as solid as the metal is, and as good as The Satanist is – I don’t see myself reaching for this or any of the albums when I’m in need of a loud death metal fix.  Continue reading “Behemoth: The Satanist (2013)”