Wormwood-Nattarvet

Can you imagine Pink Floyd playing black metal?  There are places on this latest Wormwood album that give a bit of a glimpse of what that would sound like.  I’m not saying this is the black metal Dark Side of the Moon or anything, but there are pieces placed here and there on this album that make me wonder if David Gilmour didn’t lay down some guest licks on here.  Seriously.  I’m going to post the song The Isolationist at the end of this post and you tell me if there aren’t parts on here that don’t remind you of Floyd.  Maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, this is a slab of fairly pagan-influenced black metal from Sweden with about half of the lyrics in Swedish and half in English.  Nothing on here is as abrasive as your traditional Scandinavian black metal.  This album reminds me a little more of some of the black metal coming out of the U.S. these days than of the European strain of black metal.  Overall, there is a lot to enjoy about this record.  It varies greatly in its presentation from song to song.  I’ll mention The Isolationist again.  This album probably won’t end up being album of the year for me, but The Isolationist may end up being my favorite song of the year.  This is just epic and melodic black metal done properly.  I just cannot get enough of this song.  Just a beautiful piece of art.

4 flip flops out of 5

Tomb Mold-Planetary Clairvoyance

Tomb Mold came blasting out of nowhere (well, Canada, to be exact) with last year’s Manor of Infinite Forms.  I absolutely fell in love with that album from the very first spin.  It was death metal as death metal should be.  Aggressive, but not to an abrasive extreme.  Crisp and inventive riffs throughout.  And it appeared as if I wasn’t alone in my sentiment regarding this band because the positive buzz surrounding them just continued to grow as the year went on.

So, capitalizing on the positive energy and response from the last album, Tomb Mold regroups and puts out their next slab of destruction in a year’s time.  The new album kind of solidifies in my mind that Tomb Mold is kind of like a Cannibal Corpse-type band with a bit of the aggression turned down and with the concept being less focused of grind/gore and focusing more on a sci-fi bent to the proceedings.  I think the Cannibal Corpse comparison really comes from the hideous death-gurgle of vocalist/drummer Max Klebanoff (yeah, singing death metal drummer…fucking nuts, right).  It just sounds like Max is Corpsegrinder’s soulmate as far as vocal stylings go.  All in all, I don’t feel as though the latest album quite reaches the impact of Manor of Infinite Forms.  It’s strong and is very much a solid release that should further propel Tomb Mold’s burgeoning career forward, but it just doesn’t have that certain unique spark that the previous album had.  It’s a very slight criticism because the metal contained on here is still really good and blows away a great majority of the death metal coming out today.  These guys are one of the bright new stars.  Jump on the bandwagon now.

4 flip flops out of 5

Abbath-Outstrider

Ever since Lemmy passed away, it feels like metal hasn’t really had a real-life mascot.  Sure, we’ve got Eddie, but we don’t really have a person that is universally viewed as the physical embodiment of everything for which metal stands.  Lemmy was brash.  Lemmy was unapologetic.  He lived hard and loud.  He was simply a hearty “Fuck You” to the world with a cockeyed grin on his face.

So, in light of this fact, I’m officially starting a campaign to nominate Abbath as our new Lemmy.  I feel as though his enthusiastic embrace of his metal persona through his infamous corpse paint design and colorful stage presence and antics that he is someone who can fully take the mantel of Lemmy’s legacy.  Let’s face it.  At his core, and especially at the later stages of his career, Lemmy ceased to be an actual human being and became more of a symbol than anything else.  Sure, Motorhead delivered some seriously classic albums and their influence on the creation of thrash metal solidifies their place of importance in the history of metal.  But Lemmy simply became bigger than that at the end.  Abbath’s previous band, Immortal, may not have been as ground-breaking of a band as Motorhead in terms of their impact on black metal, but they were a very important band in making black metal a little more accessible to the masses.  They and especially Abbath in particular, were playful and over the top.  They brought a fresh air of lightness to a genre that many times becomes too focused on remaining TRVE BLACK METAL (looking at you Mayhem and Gorgoroth) instead of keeping in mind that at the end of the day this is entertainment.  Abbath is metal personified.  And I can’t really think of anyone out there today that possesses that over-the-top infectious metal persona that exemplifies what we are all about.

Enough of that.  On to the album at hand.  This is album number two for Abbath since he split with Immortal.  His first foray on his own was an album that I really enjoyed.  It didn’t really try to be anything different than an Immortal album without the Immortal moniker.  He kept the same look.  He kept the same guitar sound.  He kept the same creaky, guttural vocals.  With this second album, it is really more of the same.  If anything, this one sounds even more insistent and brutal than the first album.  It’s almost as if the band is in a rush to get to the finish.  Each song blisters and is just straight-ahead black metal with a bit of a rock-n-roll spin to it.  No fillers.  No frills.  And I think the album suffers a little bit because of it.  This one just seems to be missing a little bit of the personality and spark of the first album.  It just feels a little too harried in the end to have a real impact.

3.5 flip flops out of 5

Ashbringer-Absolution

Technicolor black light album cover for technicolor black metal.  So, I’m old as shit.  Probably a lot older than someone who crafts a heavy metal blog on the internet should reasonably be.  But there you go.  Everyone needs a hobby.  Anyway.  Being an old fart, I remember the days of going to Spencer’s Gifts in the 80s for the sole purpose of perusing the collection of metal posters they used to have in the back corner of the store.  Sure, there were the shots of Heather Thomas and Heather Locklear in various states of undress, but I was there for the Maiden artwork, dammit.  At the end of the rack of posters, it always seemed like there was a small section of trippy blacklight posters.  Anyway, the album cover for this latest Ashbringer release just brought those memories back.  Is Spencer’s still around? Fuck, I hope so.  I really do.

On to the metal.  Ashbringer is hailing from the Land of 10,000 Lakes and the music they produce is appropriate for the place in the U.S. that is most like Scandinavia in terms of frozen weather.  Ashbringer plies in a black metal that tends to bring a little more of a jazzy element to the genre than most of its practitioners.  There is a lightness of touch running through the production and the playing of the instruments on this album.  It doesn’t go full Panopticon with a blending of styles, but the drumming and the various keyboard/programming elements of the record just add a bit of a jazz spice to the thing.  This is definitely an album that has been growing on me with each listen (currently on spin #3 while I write this).  There’s a lot going on to absorb on here.  So, give it some time.

3.5 flip flops out of 5

The Lord Weird Slough Feg-New Organon

So, I’m finally back from vacation and am ready to take the reigns of this dorky little metal vehicle once again.  During my time off, I had occasion to visit my first meadery.  Mead.  A drink for the middle ages.  A drink to be enjoyed from a Viking’s horn.  A drink to be found in a bawdy rustic cottage tavern where wenches and sell-swords drink and sing and engage in all kinds of unspeakable debauchery.  Mead.  The perfect drink to pair with the music of The Lord Weird Slough Feg.

They started out as The Lord Weird Slough Feg and then shortened it to Slough Feg for simplicity sake, but now have appeared to gone back to the full-length proper name.  It’s all very confusing, but roll with it because these guys simply rock and rock good.  Put the best riffs concocted by Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden into a blender and layer o’er-top of this tasty mixture a vocal delivery very reminiscent of Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson (but, sadly, no flute to accompany the proceedings).  Lyrically, these guys provide tales of mayhem and mischief straight out of Medieval times.  It’s rowdy and very Celtic sounding in its presentation.  Which is even more strange since they guys hail from San Francisco.  Anyway, the whole thing just works and is just a fantastic rocking good time.

4 flip flops out of 5