PICK OF THE WEEK: Vukari’s story of power and corruption hits home on powerful ‘Divination’

VukariI try to make plans when I can when it comes to this site. Since we don’t review every record that comes out each week (because that would kill me), a lot of planning goes into which records we pick to feature each week, and even more goes into what our pick of the week will be. This week was no exception, though as final preparation for the reviews you read that past few days approached, I quickly came to realize I had to scrap some of my plans.

The reason for that is late last week, when taking another listen to “Divination,” the great new record from Chicago-based black metal band Vukari, it quickly dawned on me that it was the best thing I was going to feature this week. This record slowly has grown on me and gotten into my bloodstream, and it was during a listen last week that I realized how much this record was affecting me. “Divination” is a concept album steeped in historical fiction based on a story centered on a patrician during Roman times who has a thirst for acquiring power. After he has dreams that seem to be speaking to him and reveal as powerful symbol that would drive his campaign, he begins to amass powerful followers. But as time goes on, reality and messages get distorted, and his followers ultimately are the ones who take the biggest fall. Oh shit, Donald Trump. Maybe Vukari are soothsayers. Kidding aside, it’s a gripping plot that the band pushes brilliantly on this eight-song, nearly 49-minute record.

Vukari coverVukari only have been together as a band for the past three years, and they already have two full-length efforts to show for that time, the first being their 2013 debut “Matriarch.” In the meantime, Bindrune Recordings has gotten behind the band—vocalist/guitarist/keyboard player Marek Cimochowicz, new guitarist Richard Stancato, bassist/keyboardist Spenser Morris (Vit), drummer Mike DeStefano—and they’ve been rewarded for their investment with this excellent, rich new record. “Divination” is filled with black metal grimness, atmospheric melody, and bloody drama that is the result of their central storyline, which, as sort of hinted at, may be seeped in history but is just as relevant today.

The dual “Divination” tracks start the record, the first more of an introductory with guitars reverberating and weird noise gusts, and the second part tearing the lid off the thing. The cut erupts, with Cimochowicz’s growls pummeling you, and the whole thing is flushed with melody. The song hulks into atmospheric pockets, with the passage feeling both savage and sorrowful at times, and a furious finish taking the song out. “Cursus Honorum” picks up on the momentum and unleashes a tidal wave of melody (come to think of it, that’s a common theme of this record), grim growls, and hammering playing. The riffs get ominous, with every element cascading hard, and a cold wash of air that takes over flows into a furious final few minutes built by wrenching cries and a noise haze. “Invictus Maneo” has a post-metal-style opening, with grim growls clenching, meanness pushing its way in, and the guitars swimming in the shadows. Later, foreboding sounds hang in the air and sting mightily, with a cloud of energy hovering overhead.

The second half of the record begins with the paired “Ad Delirium” tracks, with the first part of it sweltering in noise, with guitars bubbling up and echoing. The second portion has a chilling, solemn start, with gentle playing letting calmness flow, taking on sort of an ISIS feel. Then, the most energetic, and passionate guitar riff of the entire record blasts out, and the growls grind against everything standing in front of it. The track continues to be utterly infectious, sweeping you up in gazey fury and enormous power, standing as the high point on this record. “Sovereignty Through Extreme Tyranny” blasts out and mixes into catchy punishment, while shrieked vocals lacerate the skin, and a furious storm front lands. Another atmospheric stretch arrives, with calm and chaotic doing battle, and a huge burst tearing out of the back end bleeding into serenity. Closer “Bathe in Divine Light” begins with clean, cold guitars, making it feel like you’ll be let down gently, but it’s short lived. Gargantuan howls cut through like a sword, while gazey guitar fire catches, and the inferno builds from there. The guitars spread out over the track, with the intensity building, the band trudging hard, and guttural roars disappearing with the rest of the song into a pool of searing reverb.

The more I hear “Divination,” the more I am excited about the music itself and Vukari in general. The plot of the album is sobering and a little terrifying when placed against modern times, and the music builds expertly from the tale’s seeds being planted to the cataclysmic ending. This is one of a handful of really great, eye-opening black metal albums that have come out this year, and it’s well worth your time to immerse yourself in this body, mind, and spirit. And you might even get a step ahead of so many other people by actually learning a little something from history.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/vukari/

To buy the album, go here: https://thecollectivedistro.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://bindrunerecordings.com/

Temple Nightside’s hellish death gets doomier, scarier on morbid second offering ‘The Hecatomb’

Temple NightsideWhen I was a kid and, therefore, really stupid, I thought the bottom of the earth contained the land masses closest to hell. You see, I also was raised Catholic and had zany ideas about hell, and for some reason I assumed it was at the bottom of the planet. Sorry, South Pole. Now I’m older and know better (mostly), but for some reason I keep rethinking this theory as it pertains to metal.

Australia is toward the bottom of the planet, and considering the infernal death and black metal that has poured like tire fire smoke from that continent in the past decade, my child brain may have been onto something. Bands such as Portal, Impetuous Ritual, Mournful Congregation, Grave Upheaval, and Ill Omen all call that place home, and two of those bands boast members of Temple Nightside, whose terror-inducing new slab “The Hecatomb” is about to burst and cover everything you own in soot. Their brand of ashen death metal rumbles deep within the guts of the Earth, feeling like a bizarre, mysterious force snaking through the ground, coming to the surface every now and again to swallow bodies whole.

Temple Nightside Cover“The Hecatomb” follows the band’s 2013 debut full-length “Condemnation,” released by Nuclear Winter Records, though now the band is on the stellar and terrifying roster of Iron Bonehead. The band—guitarist/bassist/vocalist IV (Ill Omen, Nazxul), guitarist BR (Grave Upheaval), bassist V. Kusabs (Terror Oath, Vassafor), and drummer Mordance (Paroxysmal Descent, Vesicant)—increased in membership from two to four since their last effort, and now they’re here scraping the Earth with their sharpened scythes, looking for anything ahead of it capable of bleeding. At the same time, there is an eerie chill to the sound, as their work rattles like a coiled snake hissing in a corner, threatening to strike at any moment with zero warning. This stuff is ugly, savage, and the epitome of a suffocating nightmare from which you can’t wake yourself.

“Graven” kicks off the record described as a “slow descent into hell” with morbid guitar work that sounds exactly like that description. The growls settle in, and as they are during most of the record, they’re delivered in a whispery haze. The song is ugly and grimy, disorienting at times, especially with some of the riffs and warbled lines, and at the end of the track, we have a spiral of dizzying guitars. “Adrift in Sepulchral Entropy” is fast and filthy, with creaked growls, soloing going off, and dark creepiness. At the final minute, drums rumble hard, and ghostly vocals chill the bones. “Ossuary (Commune 3.1)” is the first of three interlude cuts, this one built on ambiance, and then it’s into “Fortress of Burden and Distress” that has a soupy, doomy start. The pace trudges at mid-tempo, while buried growls terrify, and hellish chaos is achieved. Detached singing floats, while the pace slithers along, and the track is pulled into a vortex.

“The Murderous Victor (Commune 3.2)” is the longest of the interlude tracks, this time with drums rolling over the land, spacey chants spilling, and ghoulish transmissions such as, “I am the great destroyer,” poking into your flesh. “Within the Arms of Nothingness” churns slowly, with pained moans emanating, and the pace grinding along. Weird speaking gets into your bloodstream, while harsh growls follow, the smudgy pace smears dirt, and a burst of ugliness pushes to the end. “Tempest” lets loose flesh-mangling guitars, as whispers and gasps inject a sense of anxiety, and then the song opens in earnest. The vocals terrify, while the band pounds away heavily, guitars catch fire, and wails push the track into the distance. “Burial Adoration (Commune 3.3)” is the final interlude, a brief burst of haunting noise that paves the way for 9:16 closer “Charnel Winds.” Growls tear a hole in the thing, with the guitars burning, and a torturous tempo causing vertigo. The track slows its assault, slowly meting out punishment, feeling like a melodic funeral doom dirge. Devastating slowness dominates, with the cut finally fading into a pool of misery.

Temple Nightside’s fury and scariness is as thick and powerful as ever before, and they take a bloody step into the gooey earth on “The Hecatomb.” They feel like they’re dragging you into eternal damnation, forcing you to see every terrifying sight along the way, ruthlessly bouncing your flesh and bones across the ground. They’re a deadly unit, one that’s larger and more formidable now, and their mighty bloodthirst is one that doesn’t sound like it’ll soon be quenched.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/templenightsidenecromancy/

To buy the album, go here: http://shop.ironbonehead.de/en/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.ironbonehead.de/

Irish death crushers Coscradh push fiery, chaotic punishment on hellacious self-titled demo

CoscradhThe first jolts of chaos from a band could be indicative of massive fires to be flamed in the future. It’s the rawest form in which a band can reveal itself, those first recordings, and often these are the pieces looked back years later as the formative period in which so many lavish praise. Sometimes people even go too far, dismissing so much of what followed those initial songs that scarred our ears. But we’ll worry about that one later.

Irish death metal heathens Coscradh are unleashing their new four-song demo into the world, and if this piece of work is any indication of their future, we’re merely peering into the cauldron of hell that this band has inside of it. This thing feels like opening the door to a blast furnace, taking in the massive waves that char your arm hair and makes you gasp where you stand. The filthy infernal death spread over these tracks is massive and quite tangible, and it seems like this first offering is a mere hint at what’s ahead for the band. Along with the violent impression is some impressive playing. It’s not flashy or technical, but it cuts right to the bone, with guitars leading the assault and the drums absolutely pummeled into oblivion.

Coscradh coverCoscradh’s name is Gaelic for “to slaughter or massacre,” and they prepare the field for that very thing from the moment this thing starts playing. They do so under a shroud of mystery, as their online profile is presented sans responsible parties, and even their Metal Archives profile is devoid of much information beyond the basics. But no matter. The fury on this smothering, nearly 25-minute demo is all that really matters, and Invictus Productions stepping up to release this music on a limited number of cassettes (300, so stop stalling) shows they, too, recognize this massive force and are getting in on the ground floor. Wise choice from one of underground metal’s more reliable labels. Also, one of the band’s first shows was an opening slot last year for Tribulation, so that goes to show antennas are up.

The first three songs all take the past tense of a verb that brings torment. “Buried” starts with ominous riffs and a doomy fury, rumbling along in a haze of black noise that stretches its way through most of the song before the hellish growls are unleashes. From there, the pace dizzies, leads spit sparks, and a delirious pace brings this to an end. “Lynch” gets riled up and bursts out of the gates with speed. The growls are smeared with echo, with the drums taking a rattling beating, and the guitars chugging heavily. Soloing catches fire and unloads, with the song disappearing into a noise vortex. “Drowned” runs 7:06 and has riffs pounding and a dank basement feel. The growls are monstrous and mean, with the guitars boiling over and spilling lava, and a sudden sense of calm settling. But that’s short lived as the noise scrapes, the growls deface, and a sound pocket is situated in eeriness. Closer “Coscartac” goes 7:49 and simmers in doom blackness, setting off a mid-paced assault. The pace trudges and thrashes, with fast blasts of aggression striking, and cavernous growls echoing off the walls. Sabbath-style swagger emerges from the guitars, with a haunting swath of sound hovering over and extinguishing everything.

Coscradh show a ton of promise to bring filthy and menacing chaos to underground death metal, and this self-titled demo is a bruising behemoth. This is 25 minutes of pure death metal torture, the type that should scare the hell out of the uninitiated and please those who embrace sounds from the gutter. Hopefully up next, they spread their power across a full-length release.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Coscradh

To buy the album, go here: http://www.invictusproductions.net/shop/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.invictusproductions.net/

Swedish death killers Vanhelgd unleash doom-encrusted, ugly death on new ‘Temple of Phobos’

VanhelgdWrath and disgust and complete lack of anything redeemable all are wrapped into what makes so much death metal feel so right. Missing those elements means you likely are creating hollow art, because there is a heartlessness to so much modern death metal. But when a band gets it right, it makes the juices flow and the anger and fury rage inside.

Swedish death unit Vanhelgd have been making horrifying art for nearly a decade now, and now that they’re four albums in, the latest being “Temple of Phobos,” it’s safe to say we can rely on anything this band commits to wax, for they know the ways of chaos. That might sound like a silly thing to say on the surface, but shit, I get a lot of really bad death metal promos. They’re easy to dismiss with a single listen (or just a few songs), but when something like Vanhelgd comes along, you abandon everything else and immerse yourself in their dark ways. This is one of those bands that, if someone asks me for good modern death metal bands to check out, I’m nearly 100 percent certain to name drop. This new record “Temple of Phobos” just solidifies that thinking as it is furious and smoke filled, choking everything in their path every step of the way.

vanhelgd ToP LP.inddVanhelgd have a firm grasp on the death metal that filled so many lives with morbid joy decades ago, smearing a nice dose of doom into their proceedings and coating your lungs with soot. The group—guitarist/vocalist Matthias “Flesh” Frisk, guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Johansson, bassist Jonas Albrektsson, and drummer Bjorn Andersson—began clawing their way through death metal’s filthy underground with their 2008 debut “Cult of Lazarus,” later unleashing more torment on 2011’s “Church of Death” and 2014’s eye-opening “Relics of Sulfur Salvation,” an album jointly released by Pulverised and U.S.-based label 20 Buck Spin. “Phobos” is another album that’s getting pushed from multiple labels as Pulverised again will handle duties in Europe, while Dark Descent brings it to North American audiences. It’s a devastating, relentless crusher that again proves death metal is virulent when in the right hands.

“Lamentations of the Mortals” is the burly opener, with guttural growls and guitars churning to bring you into the mouth of hell. The track is vicious as it scrapes along, doing horrible damage, leading into tar pits of miserable doom that chugs to the finish. “Religion of the Iniquitous” has leads chewing flesh and then breathing fire, with mean and sooty playing and horrifying growling. The vocals later unleash sprays of venom, with the band hitting the gas pedal and launching speed, with everything coming to an abrupt end. “Den Klentrogenes Klagan” spills doom blood, with eerie choral parts adding an extra dose of haunting misery, and the verses positively scathing. Chants emerge, as if a death cult has arrived and is preparing to haul off the bodies, and the band launches calculating bashing to bring this to a close. The title cut trudges furiously, with leads spiraling, the music boiling, and the growls bruising. The track is animalistic and bloodthirsty, with the band setting up a mechanical, clubbing ending.

“Gravens Lovsna ng” has lead guitar work that burns monstrously, with slow, doomy pounding dropping cement blocks, and a chugging pace raining down black death. Later, the soloing arrives and chars flesh, but then some melody slips its way in, something that isn’t a constant with this band. But hey, they can be mildly accessible from time to time, before they turn on the furnace again and push the devastation into the darkness. “Rejoice in Apathy” unleashes the hammers and enters guttural realms, with the music slicing up arteries and the doom clogging throats, as the wails of, “Rejoice in apathy!” bruise your eyes. Closer “Allt hopp är förbi” starts with guitars buzzing, with a gravelly, heavy assault, and darkly melodic tributaries being carved. A female voice enters the fray, infusing a sense of frightening beauty to the song, and then the slowly mangling tempo crushes your face into the ground and fills your throat with cinders. But don’t turn off the record! Minutes later, a mystery track bubbles up, pushing several more minutes of terror into your face.

Vanhelgd aren’t going to win any awards for polish or beauty. Fuck it, leave that shit to the pretenders blocking up what’s left of big-box CD shelves. This band is here to maim and terrify, and they do that during the entire running time of “Temple of Phobos.” This band only has eyes for shedding blood and eviscerating morals, and they’ll be damned if they stop before they poison every soul.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/vanhelgd

To buy the album, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/

Or here: http://pulverised.bigcartel.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/

And here: http://www.pulverised.net/

Harakiri for the Sky offer dose of furious darkness, crippling depression on bleak ‘III: Trauma’

HarakiriSadness and depression are heavy subject matters. Anyone who suffers from these, one or the other or both, knows the enormous pressure and crushing emotion that goers with these things, and they can’t be topped easily, if at all. It only makes sense that these best can be dealt with in the realms of heavy music, where the weight of the world can be transferred to your art.

Austrian band Harakiri for the Sky have been doing an excellent job embodying these harsh emotions and their consequences for half a decade now, and there’s no way to immerse yourself in their work and not feel every ounce of chaos they smear into it. Their latest record “III: Trauma” is more from that same well, post-black metal mixed with melodic doom that wrenches every last drop of blood from its mangled heart. Obviously just using the term harakiri, a form of ritual suicide based on disembowelment (watch the first season of “The Man in the High Castle” on Amazon to get a constant dose of what this entails), pretty much has them setting their cards on the table from the outset. Tough to imagine you’re going to be served uplifting material, you know? But their music also can be consoling in a sense, as people who suffer along with them can find like-minded souls also looking for way to survive. Or just find relief, no matter the source.

Harakiri coverHarakiri, as noted, formed in 2011, and their first, self-titled record would arrive a year later. That record was a mere gash at the veins considering what would follow, namely their 2014 album “Aokigahara” (named after Japan’s noted and haunting suicide forest), and now they’ve followed with another volatile collection, this eight-track, 75-minute behemoth “Trauma” that’s quite a bit to chew on. The duo—vocalist/lyricist J.J. and multi-instrumentalist/songwriter M.S.—have created a piece that might be better digested in halves. The songs run the gamut of emotions, and once you get through a good chunk of this, some breathing space might help you better digest. Or, if you’re a masochist, dive in and take in the entire record at once, as it washes over you with thick, unavoidable darkness.

“Calling the Rain” is the devastating 11:28-long opener, a track that tears apart and spills in the blackness. Harsh vocals pelt at you, while keys drip, giving the track a sense of gothic majesty, and the song keeps gushing as it slithers along slowly. The sentiment of torment and loss is impossible to shake, with J.J. wailing, “This was the year of the great depression,” sending the tidal wave over your head as you’re washed out to sea. “Funeral Dreams” is rich and dank, with J.J. warning, “Be careful what you wish for, you may get it.” The music crunches and pushes down on you, as sorrow and fury collide and form a dark umbrella over the song, ending the track in cinematic heaviness. “Thanatos” starts with clean guitars before it unleashes its force. Later, a feeling of calm arrives, as clean singing adds a different element, only to ignite into flames and burn toward the furious ending. “This Life Is a Dagger” delivers what its title indicates, with cold, shadowy playing, melody unfurling, and the vocals scarring along the song’s mid-pace. There are a pocket of tempo shifts, with it all ending in dreary darkness.

“The Traces We Leave” has a delicate first few moments, beginning to trickle cleanly and gently before drums open up and launch devastation, and the pace itself hits higher gear. The melodies plink away like a driving ice storm, and then the thing hits full force, with anguish charging from every one of J.J.’s words, and the melodies wrapping around and causing disorienting feelings. “Viaticum” punches bluntly, though some of this feels disarmingly upbeat musically. Energy bursts, with J.J.’s growls scraping as he pokes, “Time means nothing.” Elements cascade, while guitars hit a gazey high, and the final minutes are forceful and emotionally bruising. “Dry the River” is a particularly effective one, with watery guitars arriving before the pounding gets under way. Much of this is slow-driving and menacing, going back and forth between ugly and soothing, with the bottom torn out near the song’s conclusion. There, the drums erupt, the guitars frazzle, and the whole thing ends with a heart-stopping gun shot. Closer “Bury Me” hits a charge at the stop before mixing into atmospheric playing and roared growls. Strong riffs arrive and provide a rush of power, as every other piece of the song comes in punishing pulses, providing more force and sadness as J.J. laments, “I must have passed the point of no return.”

Harakiri for the Sky’s music chews at your essence and makes you confront the dark forces within you that are bringing you to your knees. “III: Trauma” is a record that might make you more aware of these things and even could spark a bit of panic. But in the end, it’s a passionate, emotionally destructive record that can strike the pain within you and perhaps help you see it in a different light.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/HarakiriForTheSky

To buy the album, go here: http://www.art-of-propaganda.de/shop/index.php

For more on the label, go here: http://www.art-of-propaganda.de/

PICK OF THE WEEK: After five long years, Hammers of Misfortune fire back with ‘Dead Revolution’

hammers-of-misfortuneWe’ve talked a lot this week about the glory of the riff and the power of heavy metal to help you escape from what’s going on around you. That’s part of what sucked me into this style of music to begin with because, as a loser dork kid in a high school around a lot of kids who didn’t understand me, it’s one of the things that helped me push above that.

That’s a major reason I’ve always had a sloppy soft spot in my heart for Bay Area traditionalists Hammers of Misfortune. Their style shoots you way back to the ’70s and ’80s, when heavy metal really was starting to understand what it could be, and the art form was beginning to branch off into different territories. Hammers have that vibe that could make you think of Judas Priest, Cirith Ungol, the Scorpions before the radio hits, Deep Purple, Queen, and bands of that ilk, but they have a very modern touch smeared on top of that. Not that they sound like any of those groups necessarily, but the essence is there. And for someone old enough to remember the latter end of the era of which I speak, it certainly takes me back to my formative years in metal when the riff carved its way into my soul.

Hammer of Misfortune coverHammers are back with their killer sixth record “Dead Revolution,” the band’s first since 2011’s great “17th Street.” So, obviously, it’s been a long wait between albums, and there’s good reason for that. Vocalist Joe Hutton was injured in a serious motorcycle accident, so we’re pretty lucky he and his powerful pipes are here blazing through this record. For the other members, work and life got in the way. Band mastermind John Cobbett and keyboard player Sigrid Sheie welcomed a child into the world and also made some nasty noise with supergroup Vhöl, while Sheie put an album out with Amber Asylum. Guitarist Leila Abdul-Rauf unleashed hell with awesome death metal band Vastum and also immersed herself in solo work. Bassist Paul Waller also was busy with the Worship of Silence, and the band added new drummer Will Carroll (Death Angel), so there’s been a lot going on here. But no matter, five years after their last album, they offer “Dead Revolution,” one of their most varied, edgy, and exciting records that will reveal new layers every time you listen.

The record kicks off with “The Velvet Inquisition,” a song that opens with riffs and organs splitting the seal, and each element taking its time to build into a fervor. Hutton eases his way into the song purposely, first delivering his lines smoothly and calmly before eventually building to a crescendo, wailing, “When you find that you’ve been wasting all your time, you’ll run to me!”  The back end has prog fury, strong lead guitar work, and a fiery finish. The title cut feels like it’s driving down the open road with reckless abandon. The singing is strong and gritty, with the keys especially giving this a Deep Purple vibe in spots. “Every tear drop feels like Moses coming down from the mountain,” Hutton howls, as the pace (mostly cowbell driven in the most understated manner) trudges and flashy guitar work punches to the finish. “Sea of Heroes” is charged up, with the singing reaching a little higher, and the guitars and keys in lock with one another. There is some tasty guitar work later that feels like heyday Brian May, and the final moments bleed out into a fog. “The Precipice (Waiting for the Crash…)” is my favorite cut, running a perfectly timed 8:14, with the drums rallying and riffs chewing. The verses punch along, feeling both forceful and fun, with Hutton later soaring, noting, “And all you see is sky!” The chorus is surging, with the keys unloading and the track coming to a smoking end.

“Here Comes the Sky” is both psychedelic and sunburnt, like it hurtled out of space and landed in the Wild West. Acoustics and piano blend together before the tempo kicks into high gear. There is dusty guitar work, especially the doses of slide fire, and everything feels drenched in whiskey, with Hutton leading as your storyteller. Later in the song, trumpets play out like they’re signaling the end of a duel, with the song disappearing into the dirty streets. “Flying Alone” is one of the most aggressive songs on the record, with the guitars landing heavy blows, organs providing an ’80s-style prog feel, and the band dealing metallic punishment that causes a shitload of bruising to wherever it is they landed their punches. Closer “Days of ’49” is one of the most interesting in the band’s entire catalog, a charging, heavy-as-fuck take on the traditional folk song that originated from Joaquin Miller’s poem about the gold rush of 1849 (Bob Dylan also covered the song on his 1970 album “Self Portrait”). Quite a fitting song for a band from San Francisco. Anyway, they knock this thing out of the park, with the folk elements coming through amid the blazing power, and Hutton does an excellent job not only pushing the plot about old Tom Moore but also adding his signature passion to the cut. Great way to end the record, as this is a really fun surprise.

Hammers of Misfortune are a true gift to pure heavy metal fans, and the five-year wait certainly has been satisfied with “Dead Revolution.” The band is still taking chances, continually breathing fire, and offering another scorching chapter in their storied run. Metal always is better off when Hammers of Misfortune are active, and their thunderous, glorious sound is as alive and healthy as it’s even been.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/hammersofmisfortune/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords

For more on the label, go here: http://www.metalblade.com/us/

Dust Moth’s daydream-inducing space doom, psychedelic power lure you away on debut ‘Scale’

Dust MothMost of what we cover here is adorned in decibolic heaviness, music that generally should terrify most of your neighbors if you were to play it out loud with the windows open on a wonderful, serene Sunday afternoon. I’ve never done that. But that doesn’t mean that music has to brutalize your hearing in order to make its impact and to have a healthy dose of weightiness.

Seattle’s Dust Moth is a perfect example of that and yet another band we’re covering this year that isn’t exactly metal but certainly can fit itself under the very ends of the umbrella. The band’s music isn’t raucous and brutal by any means. In fact, it often has the opposite effect, feeling atmospheric, psychedelic, and like something you’d want to ride on into the depth of outer space. But their buzzing haze is thick and tangible, while their mind-altering doom-gaze-pop can get inside your bloodstream and infect you upon impact. Given the power and magic behind their full-length debut “Scale,” if this band is given a chance, they should find themselves scraping in waves of followers intoxicated by the band’s sound and their own brand of heavy tidings. You don’t have to walk away with bruises in order to feel the jarring effects.

Dust Moth coverDust Moth, in just a matter of a few years, have carved out small body of work (they released an EP “Dragon Mouth” as a six-piece), but a large personality to go along with it. One of the band’s main powers is singer Irene Barber (XVIII Eyes), whose vocals soothe and soar, scorn and scar, making me think a lot about Nina Persson’s work fronting the Cardigans. It’s a nice counter to the band’s sound, comprised of Barber’s swirling keys, guitar work from Ryan Frederiksen (These Arms Are Snakes, Narrows), the thick bass of Steve Becker (Giza), and Justin Rodda’s (also of Giza) pointed drumming, all of which form to create a sparking cloud of sound that envelops you and carries you off.

The record opens with the fittingly named “Space Legs,” a track that immediately sinks you into the psychedelic waters. Barber gently navigates you through the verses, with her bursting open on the chorus, and the band leading you into mesmerizing sequences that end in a cosmic vibe. “Corrections” has some weirdness in the front, with guitars beginning to scrape and Barber taunting and floating. The chorus opens up, with Barber calling, “We’re glowing in the dark, showing all our scars,” and every time it returns, it etches its way further into your brain. “Night Wave” pulls back, with cleaner guitars and moody singing, sounding like something that will feel ideal on cool evenings in early Autumn. Another strong chorus, wooshing keys, and the guitars jabbing makes it take on a cool nighttime vibe that completely takes over. “Lift” is the longest track at 7:44, with burly, fuzzy riffs, Barber’s voice hovering, and a numbing chorus. “When I fell hard for you, I fell instead,” Barber admits, as mechanical guitars churn, and the music bleeds out in a heavy haze.

“A Veil in Between” begins amid a roomful of banter, with the song blending in slowly, and icy keys pelting like sleet. There are psyche gashes, countered by Barber’s soothing vocals, with her asking, “Do you love me?” in a place that feels unsettling. From there, the band engages in a long murky jam that stretches all the way to the end. “Up Into Blackness” has blippy keys, guitars engaging, and dream-state singing that provides a sense of haunting wonder that pulls against the tide. Proggy bass spills in, with the music catching fire, the rhythm section throbbing, and the cut melting away. “Shelf Life” has ominous keys, with guitars igniting, and the music hitting a mind-warping high. “I will always chase the sun with nothing to lose,” Barber strikes, with the music swirling around her. “The Shape of Clouds” is a quick instrumental with sounds droning and noise wafting, and that leads into closer “Essex” that opens up like a drizzle from the start. Guitars soak the ground, with a chill setting in right as Barber wonders, “How high can you go?” over the smearing chorus. The final moments of this trip are comprised of guitars agitating, the music bubbling to the surface, and the track heading out into ghostly mist.

I’m really excited Dust Moth swooped into my stratosphere, as their debut “Scale” is a really strong, alluring record that, clichéd as it may sound, gets better with every listen. This band brings a fresh perspective and approach to heavier music, and their buzzing dreamscapes are very rewarding and impossible to shake. I’m curious to hear how the band progresses from here and the black holes they drag us into and out of through whatever music they make next.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/dustmothband

To buy the album, go here: http://www.mylenesheath.com/pg/preorders

For more on the label, go here: http://www.mylenesheath.com/