Monday, September 28, 2009

It's Cold Out Here

Since more and more black metal bands are taking risks in an attempt to reach for new territory, there has been as much praise as upheaval. Last year Nachtmystium’s Assassins: Black Meddle, Pt. 1 was the band/album that many critics, including my own circle of friends choose to unload on. I could go on naming others that fell under the same lens, especially when it comes to USBM, but I would rather say good things than burn others down.

I am absolutely in love with Wormsblood’s Mastery of Creation. The album was released through Barbarian records, which is awesome since the same label has history with Foetopsy*. I don’t really know how much Wisconsin and Scandinavia have in common, but both areas know how to do ice cold music apparently.

What first struck me when I threw on Creation was how dissonant the drums were, writhing on the treble without any double bass. These guys know how to blast but nothing is ever overblown instrumentally, keeping closer to an earlier punk ethic. The experimental nature of the album resonates more with shrill electronica, but also gets away with creating the harmony one is used to hearing from black metal. The common course as of late seems that bands can't get anymore bleak, thus warming up to newer sounds shouldn't be discouraged in the name of artistic survival and progression. I can understand that, but Mastery wants to challenge what the hell is bleak in the first place?

Wormsblood howl at the moon, keep all the out-in-nature tropes, and offers some a simply perfect acoustic bridge on “Good Night.” Some fans may never warm up to USBM, which is fine and all that stuff. The haters should take note that isn’t any shoegaze hum; this sounds like black metal, that literally tastes like metal. It should be mentioned the album is collection of earlier demos and releases, but it's worth your time to check out if you're invested the conversation.

*What is up with great extreme Metal from Wisconsin? Check out Foetopsy's In the Bathroom

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Inside The Silver Lining

I have between moving out of my apartment, preparing to leave the states, and had my hard drive collapse, which is why I haven’t posted anything in some time.

To get this thing rolling again I wanted to delve into Blackout Beach’s Skin of Evil. The album is lyrically driven, telling a story linear fashion. It’s the vocals that provide the drama, like a man strapped to a chair and forced to watch a small computer screen as his only window to the world. Carey Mercer’s voice is tied down with leather straps in an aluminum tunnel, straining for some rest in an artificial cage.

Thin arrangement, electric guitars and synthesizers shake the metal timber and echo down the hall. The moments of acoustic warmth on songs like “Sophia, Donna, I Was Down The River Waiting” let a bit of light shine in and offer some relief from all the shivering.

The most amazing aspect of the album to be is how desperately alive the experience is. Mercer’s voice gives this prison a beating heart and grabs your attention from start to finish. Skin of Evil haunts while scratching for the surface.