There are many, many forces operating in metal’s creative circle to keep it moving forward, some of them really large, some of them a little smaller. It’s scary to think where this style of music would be without its big players like Metal Blade, Peaceville, and Nuclear Blast, as well as its soldiers beneath them in size and scope such as Profound Lore, Gilead Media, and Dark Descent. But let’s not forget those the very closest to the ground.
There are other labels operating that perhaps aren’t as well known to you, but they also play a vital part in metal and finding fems hidden well below the surface, and one of those is Baltimore-based Grimoire Records. They have given a spotlight to bands near their operating area who have great music they want to spread further than by their own means. For this site, it’s our first time talking about Grimoire, and we’re really excited not only about what they have to offer now but what they’ll do going forward. Every label starts somewhere, and with good taste, smart business practices, and passion, perhaps can turn into the next, say, Southern Lord somewhere down the line. Grimoire sure has proven itself musically so far.
The label also is pretty hands on with their operations. They engineer, mix, master, design, market, and distribute their releases, which is one hell of a task that’s generally completed by a bunch of different arms. The two in charge of the operation–Noel Mueller and Phil Doccolo–see Grimoire as a hybrid studio/label, and they’re only interested in putting out new music by fresh acts. No reissues here. That ensures you can trust they believe in what they do, because no way anyone puts that much effort into something that doesn’t move them completely. And with an impressive, diverse roster of metal and heavy rock acts such as Cavern, Dopecropper, Highpriest, Snakefeast, and upcoming music planned by Organ Trails, Billows, and Black Lung, among others, there is plenty for you to sample, and all of it offers a taste of something different.
Today, we’ll look at two other bands not listed above, both of which have really great releases that deserve your time, First up is Torrid Husk, a West Virginia-based melodic black metal band that put out their debut full-length “Mingo” last year. To say that album was overlooked is an understatement (and we’re just as guilty), as they also did the so-called “Cascadian” thing as well as any band actually living in that area, and their wild, untamed sound was a force to behold, one we get in better focus on their new EP “Caesious.” This three-track effort finds the band–vocalist/guitarist Tyler Collins, bassist/synth player Jonathan Blanton, drummer Tony Cordone–growing even more into their sound, maintaining an animalistic edge they had on their debut but also improving as songwriters as well as a band as a whole. This is a damn impressive recording you should go out of your way to hear.
The EP kicks off with “Cut With Rain,” a track that opens with a downpour but that actually takes on an icy, frigid feel as it goes on. The song practically explodes moments into its run, with creaky growls and fierce shrieks, a violent sense of adventure, and a massive gallop that kicks up at the tail end of this devastating seven-minute track. “Thunder Like Scorn” begins with intricate melodies that sound like they could be hinting at power metal (a compliment, by the way) before it rips out of its skin and starts its attack, with ferocious vocals, punishing playing, and eventually a calm that sets in before the storm starts anew and begins flooding the place with melodic tension. Closer “Paranoia” has an opening where noise rings out and stings your eardrums before the drumming starts to totally clobber your senses with sprawling playing and insane blasts. The growls begin coarse and mean but often change throughout the track to a piercing shriek, the guitar work unloads catchiness but also dissonant charging, and the finish conjures a sense of fright and panic that could leave you shaking as the song reaches its conclusion. It’s a powerful effort that should put Torrid Husk on everyone’s black metal watchlist. Go get on this before everyone else figures out what’s going on.
Shifting to another end of metal’s broad spectrum, Maryland’s sludge and doom warriors Myopic (guitarist/vocalist Sean Simmons, bassist/vocalist Nick Leonard, drummer Michael Brown) are on their second EP “Beyond the Mirror’s Edge” (there are two version of their first EP “Vacuous,” both released last year) and could make friends with those who swear by records from Eyehategod, Neurosis, and Northless. They have their heavy, bruising ends, but they also have more melody than the aforementioned bands and a great deal of atmosphere, so you’re not just being suffocated by what they do. Not that that’s a bad thing, necessarily, but it’s also cool that Myopic have more ideas and ambitions than that, and that shows on this new EP. These four songs, that stretch over about 25 minutes, give hope that there are bands out there that stay true to their sludgy roots but also aren’t afraid to push boundaries. That bodes well not only for those who buy this EP, but for where Myopic go from here.
The title cut gets things kicked off properly, with imaginative melodies, gruff barked vocals, and punchy attacks that weave in perfectly with the mud and hints of hardcore. It’s a song that makes me think if I went to one of their shows, I would not necessarily be beaten to death because there might be people listening, hanging on to the music, who need more than brutality. That’s refreshing. The massive “Iron Towers” is up next, starting with aggressive guitar work that leans a bit toward black metal terrain, and a nice dose of speed and power that blasts you in the gut. The vocals are mean and menacing, with screamy shouts mixed in, an the mucky mashing could leave you feeling bruised and battered. But later in the song, the band switches things up and gets damn-near jazzy in their playing, adding in some colorful texture before they go back to destroying bodies again. Instrumental “Backstitch” is where the band really lets loose musically, doing some adventurous noodling, getting into post-punk sounds, and eventually hitting on some passages that remind of Pelican and Russian Circles. This one’s a real eye-opener. We’re sent on our way with a totally unexpected cover of Swedish death metal experimentalists’ Carbonized’s “Lord of Damnation,” that stays fairly faithful to the original but does get healthy doses of Myopic’s collective personality. It’s a fun ending to a really strong effort from a band that’s mighty and thoughtful, a mix we don’t get nearly often enough these days.
In addition to Torrid Husk and Myopic, go check out what else Grimoire has to offer on their Bandcamp page. No matter what kind of metal you prefer, or if you’re like me and like a little bit of everything, something will resonate with you. Everything I’ve heard on there so far has me excited about this label’s future, and we definitely plan to bring a whole lot more in the weeks and months to come. I sound like “Mean” Gene Okerlund setting up a house show.
For more on Torrid Husk, go here: https://www.facebook.com/torridhusk
For more on Myopic, go here: https://www.facebook.com/MyopicBand
To buy either album, go here: http://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.grimoirerecords.com/