Friday, June 5, 2020

Bandcamp Picks: Nox Formulae, Okkultokrati, Devil With No Name, Árstíðir lífsins



Black metal, as espoused by its "second wave" adherents in Norway, was at its core a reactionary movement which attempted to move metal backwards, nor forwards. But by creating guidelines as to what the genre should and shouldn't be, the bands in question quickly found themselves forced to abandon it in order to grow as musicians (and, one assumes, to stave off boredom). It's a cycle that repeats itself with every subsequent generation that picks up the genre's spiked mantle.

To whit: the sophomore release from Athens-based Nox Formulae. Through stellar songcraft and some catchy riffs, Drakon Darshan Satan succeeds in being more than just another black metal album, whilst adhering to the genre's basic demands for speed and rawness. But by experimenting with techno beats - as Ulver and Dødheimsgard did before them - the band hint at the stifling nature of "staying true", and a break from the genre seems inevitable. [$7]



Oslo's Okkultokrati, ironically, seem uninterested in adhering to the ruleset created by their countrymen. With a production that has as much in common with Eighties punk as Nineties black metal, La Ilden Lyse slips arena rock moments into its mix of post punk, proto-thrash and Scandinavian crust. By the time you get to the Motorhead-inspired single "Kiss of Death", it becomes clear that the band is having too much fun to be grim or kvlt.  [$7.99]



Formed by members of Void Omnia and Lord Mantis, Devil With No Name is the rare side project that finds a sound that's distinct from the contributors' main bands. Switching back and forth between blastbeats and a mid-paced strut, their eponymous four song debut still embodies all the arrogance and menace that characterized black metal in the Nineties, though avoiding outright imitation. [$4]



Icelandic black metal has been characterized in recent years by discordance and avant garde weirdness, but Árstíðir lífsins does very little that's weird or contemporary. At its fastest, the ponderously (if appropriately) titled Saga á tveim tungum II: Eigi fjǫll né firðir replicates the bleak majesty of the dearly missed Dawn. But the album finds its own voice when it slows things down, employing extended folk sections, spoken word passages, and quasi-tribal drumming to create an album that lives up to the Eddic poetry that inspired it. [€1]

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Episode 133: Close The Hatch



Here is Dreams of Consciousness Podcast Episode 133, featuring an interview with Stephen Barton of Close The Hatch.

[cover photo by Joshua Gwin]

The podcast is available through the following streaming services (click to listen):
Listen on Google Play Music Listen on Spotify Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Stitcher

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Episode 132: J.J. Anselmi



Here is Dreams of Consciousness Podcast Episode 132, featuring an interview with J.J. Anselmi, the author of Doomed to Fail: The Incredibly Loud History of Doom, Sludge, and Post-Metal.

The podcast is available through the following streaming services (click to listen):
Listen on Google Play Music Listen on Spotify Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Stitcher

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

an interview with Formless Master


Formless Master is one of several new projects that heralded Gridlink guitarist Takafumi Matsubara's return to health and grindcore. Joined by members of Invidiosus, Deterioration, and Cognizant, the project is a loving tribute to no-frills grind and Bruce Lee. Since they have a new split EP out through Horror Pain Gore Death, I reached out to the band to find out more about their high-kicking "karate grind". Vocalist Matthias Joyce was kind enough to answer my questions.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Episode 131: Wailin Storms

Wailin Storms


Here is Dreams of Consciousness Podcast Episode 131, featuring an interview with Wailin Storms.

[cover photo by Andy Marino]

The podcast is available through the following streaming services (click to listen):
Listen on Google Play Music Listen on Spotify Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Stitcher

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Bandcamp Picks: Vader, Ulcerate, Azath, Venomous Skeleton



Emerging from death metal's primordial era and never stopping since, Vader have been more consistent and prolific than any of their peers. Not quite a return to the sonic overload of the Litany period, their 12th album Solitude In Madness is nonetheless a brisk slice of thrashy death metal, allowing the band to graft some catchy Bay Area hooks and mid-paced Priest-styled bangers unto their blast-heavy style. The empire chugs along.  [$11]

Listen to my interview with Vader here.




Since they pioneered dissonant death metal with their third album (and inspired a legion of imitators in the process), it's easy to understand why Ulcerate would want to mine their own territory before going in search of new ones. With its pandemic-appropriate title, Stare Into Death And Be Still fleshes out the band's distinctive style a panoply of dischordant riffs, atmospheric interludes, and Jamie Saint Merat's disorienting, amorphous drumming technique. An album of the year contender, for sure.  [€7.77]

Read my interview with Ulcerate here.




Like Vader, newcomers Azath plant themselves in the fertile delta where death and thrash metal meet. Committed to the joys of pure speed, Through a Warren of Shadow recalls the frantic thrashing of Merciless and Grotesque, with a garage-worthy production to maintain that old school fidelity. Quibbles about the recording budget aside, this is one of the more enjoyable debuts I've heard in the last few years. [$7]



If a new Ulcerate album isn't enough to fill your atmospheric death metal needs, Tel Aviv's Venomous Skeleton should scratch that itch with their first full-length. Drowning in Circles lets tremolo guitars slither over mid-paced beats and through heavy reverb, resulting in an intensely claustrophobic, near-psychedelic album. Bad vibes from across the dead sea. [€7]

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Episode 130: In The Company of Serpents


Here is Dreams of Consciousness Podcast Episode 130, featuring an interview with Grant Netzorg of In The Company Of Serpents.

[cover photo by Colleen Donley]

The podcast is available through the following streaming services (click to listen):
Listen on Google Play Music Listen on Spotify Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Stitcher

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Episode 129: Like Rats



Here is Dreams of Consciousness Podcast Episode 129, featuring an interview with Todd Nief of Like Rats.

[cover photo by Peter Cook]

The podcast is available through the following streaming services (click to listen):
Listen on Google Play Music Listen on Spotify Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Stitcher

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Bandcamp Picks - Cult of Fire, Spectral Lore/Mare Cognitum, Bezwering, Khôra



2020 can't be all bad if it brings a new album by criminally underappreciated Czech band Cult Of Fire. Despite a concept derived from Eastern religions, Moksha follows the Slavic black metal playbook faithfully, weaving the band's characteristic melodies through blastbeats, mid-paced shoegazing sections, and classic metal histrionics alike. Who says yoga metal has to be mellow? [€6]



Topping one of the best atmospheric black metal releases of the last decade is no small undertaking, but Mare Cognitum and Spectral Lore attempt do so with their new split release; if anything, Wanderers: Astrology Of The Nine is even more ambitious than their previous collaboration. In defiance of A-Side/B-Side conventions, the two bands alternate tracks, each dedicated to a planet in our solar system, and most of which stretch past the 10 minute mark. When they're not blasting at full speed, the Athens-based Spectral Lore dips into slow, goth adjacent dark metal akin to Katatonia. Holding off on their usual atmospheric sections, Mare Cognitum employs discordance and haunting melodies to create their post rock-inflected celestial black metal. The two solo artists combine their talents on the final two tracks - one being an ominous (and expected) ambient composition, and the other a trebly ode to both Pluto and blackened thrash. As cold, dark, and vast as space itself. [€9]



Newcomers Bezwering join the list of Dutch black metal bands giving their scene an identity distinct from its Scandinavian forbears. Their debut Aan de wormen overgeleverd makes a focal point out of their vocalist's baritone sprechgesang, putting it front and center during mid-paced rock outs and pure blasting sections alike. Throw in some eerie atmosphere and jagged post-punk rhythms for a commendably varied album.  [€1]



Like our current pandemic, progressive black metal project Khôra has spread across continents, bringing together contributors from Ukraine, Norway, Greece and the US. Timaeus bears the distinct influence of Arcturus and the later Emperor albums, with vocalist Kranos turning in a startlingly accurate imitation of Ihsahn's yowling rasp, as well as the soaring tenor of ICS Vortex. The orchestration gives some genre appropriate grandiosity, along with some forgivable Dimmu Borgir-acity. [€7]

Friday, May 1, 2020

an interview with Ulcerate




For over a decade, New Zealand's Ulcerate has pushed death metal past its self-imposed boundaries; in so doing, their atmospheric and dissonant style inspired a horde of imitators. With their album Stare Into Death and Be Still newly released through Debemur Morti Productions, I reached out to the band to find out more about their approach to songwriting and the creation of their latest release. Drummer Jamie Saint Merat was kind enough to answer my questions.