There is so much new music out there and so many bands that it is pretty easy for music to fly under our radars. Even here, where there literally are hundreds of new releases in my inbox it is simple to miss the boat on something just because there is so much to hear that I can’t possibly absorb all of it. I know. Tough problem, right? Woe is me.
That’s the case with two pretty spectacular black metal albums that landed over the past few years. While each band is familiar to me, I haven’t dug deep enough into each one of them to really get an intimate grasp for what they do so well. Luckily, Eisenwald is putting each of these releases back into circulation, and if you’re like me and haven’t gotten your hands on a proper copy yet and paid it their proper due, this is an excellent time to make good for that mishap.
The first record is “This Place That Contains My Spirit” from Woman Is the Earth, a black metal outfit that hails from the Black Hills of South Dakota, not exactly a world-renowned hotbed for metal. But that doesn’t hold back this band—Jarrod Hattervig on guitars and vocals, Andy Martin on guitars and floor effects, Jon Martin on drums—and their cosmic, atmospheric approach to their sound also lets you float away and dream, almost like you’re under the influence of something amazing that is helping you see colors in music you never could have imagined before. This record originally was released in 2012 and is the band’s first full-length effort and second release overall. They also have a new record “Depths” out in Init Records that also is more than worth your while and that we hope to have for you soon on this site. But for now, we’ll concentrate on this beauty that is creative, spacious, and should keep you awake for hours afterward.
The album opens with the title track, as cosmic keys greet you from the start and drag you into eerie coldness. The song eventually erupts with rough growls, deep melodies, and even some murk spread across the terrain. The song switches back and forth from crushing to calm, with the final moments awash in mesmerizing fog. “Bird Song,” the shortest cut at 8:29, ignites from the start, with growls that sound distant and washed out, and even some playing that feels staggering and damaged. There’s a strong melodic core to the song, which is commonplace for the band, and it can dizzy you in no time. “Sage Moon” follows with dissonant guitars, harsh growls, and colorful playing, elements that repeat often during the 12:30 run time. The howls and cries sound desperate and furious, the drums absolutely plaster everything with a sense of purpose, and the rest of the band turns in a killer, complex performance, fading out with a shoegaze-like explosion at the end of the song. “Glow Beyond the Ridgeline,” the 16:15-long closer, opens with buzzing guitars, more melody slathered on, and grisly vocals. The band hits a serious pitch, building their storm and letting the accumulating noise ring out and sting your senses, but then everything slips into spacey, psychedelic keys. That noise continues to build and sets up a haze that gets thicker and thicker for the rest of the song until it finally fades away.
“This Place That Contains My Spirit” is a strong debut record that helped set the stage for where they have gone since then, and it’s a recommended purchase for anyone who enjoy bands with a strong sense of black metal purpose but who aren’t comfortable staying within the parameters. Woman Is the Earth is an exciting band that has a chance to make a serious impact in the metal underground, and if they do, this record always will be remembered as their first step.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.womanistheearth.com/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.eisenton.de/shop/index.php
The other release is “Sovereign Nocturnal,” the 2008 debut record from Colorado’s blood-gushing Velnias, who have a knack for infusing elements of folk into their wondrous black metal. But on this album, it’s mainly harsh and crushing, with some clean trickling here and there that hinted at where the band would go in the future, most notably on their 2012 sophomore effort “RuneEater,” that was released by Pesanta Urfolk. The band’s members simply go by initials, with P.J.V. and P.S.R. on guitars and vocals, J.C.B. on bass and vocals, and A.J.S. on drums, with the band bringing experience gained in other notable band such as Abysmal Dimensions, I Shalt Become, and Twilight Congregation. These three songs that stretch over 40 minutes are savage, primal, and sometimes beautiful, and this deluxe reissue of the record should work well for anyone into Agalloch, Wolves in the Throne Room, and Drudkh. But it might also turn on someone into a band like Cobalt, because when they go heavier and more fearsome, they do a really convincing job. There’s a ton to like about this record, and hopefully this reissue treatment will get the album into more people’s hands.
“Into the Arms of Oaks” begins the record with birds chirping and the sounds of nature filling the room with rustic air, with the song taking its time to open up fully. Once it does, the vocals erupt, the bands hits a full rumble, and dark melodies are drizzled over everything. The track goes back and forth from calm and tranquil to blistering and furious over and over again, and the final moments trickle away calmly, only to prepare you for the next storm. “Risen of the Moor” also begins cleanly and calmly before blasts interrupt and tear everything to shreds, and deep, gurgling growls bubble up and add a sense of chaos. The music rumbles hard and completely envelops you, with the guitars swirling and arresting your senses, and the band settling into a heavy, immersive gallop. The vocals are just vicious, and the band plays like they have violent, menacing tendencies, going back to the Cobalt comparison. The final moments are filled with devastating noise and drums that totally clobber. Closer “Sovereign Nocturnal” opens with heavy drumming, more storm clouds assembling, and then everything dissolving into calm before it explodes anew. The intensity remains pretty steady most of the way, with shrieked vocals and merciless playing before all goes tranquil again with about six minutes remaining. From there, a new sense of melody is infused into the song, and even the monstrous vocals sound like they’re trying to be a little more welcoming. I keep mentioning storms, because that’s how this music feels, and the final moments pay that off with rain drenching the ground and the feelings that a thick fog is on the horizon.
Velnias needs to be on more people’s radars, and it’s great to have this deluxe reissue to relish and appreciate the way we should. In fact, with spring here in the States and the chance that the Earth will be flooded with rain water to bring the woods back to life, there isn’t a better time to revisit “Sovereign Nocturnal” and bask in its majesty.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/VelniasCult
To buy the album, go here: http://www.eisenton.de/shop/index.php
For more on the label, go here: http://www.eisenton.de/