It’s another one of those weeks where we have more records than days of the week to cover them. We’re winding down the year’s release schedule, oddly, and I keep finding myself buried in records to which I want to give time. It’s looking like November’s not going to be all that merciful either.
So we come back at you with another piece where we’ll give some time to a few records that are recently released or just on their way, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to each of them. What’s also nice is these records come from three bands who could not sound less like one another, so if you’re an open-minded listener you could find a whole lot in which to sink your teeth. In fact, one of these albums came to our attention kind of late, but we liked it so much that we’re going to go ahead and lead with that one.
Baltimore’s Barbelith aren’t rewriting the book on atmospheric black metal, but they sure are penning a damn good add-on chapter for the genre’s new editions. Powered by emotionally charged music and vocals that match that intensity, this band is putting out their awesome debut record “Mirror Unveiled” on Grimoire Records, one of the more reliable labels for the emerging beasts in underground metal. This 4-track, 37-minute album might make you think of like-minded bands such as Ash Borer, Fell Voices, Yellow Eyes, and the almighty Weakling, and their approach feels fresh and true, even if they’re putting their own spin on a style of metal that’s coming dangerously close to saturation. But Barbelith remind us there still are exciting bands playing this style, and I can only imagine where they’ll go following this impressive, assaulting first album.
The album is comprised of two epics book ended by two smaller, more concise tracks. “Beyond the Envelope of Sleep” kicks things into gear with an ignition of power, drums that go off, and insane riffs that spiral and pile on top of each other. The guitars are melodic and glorious, while the vocals are harsh and punishing, with everything ending on a chaotic note. “Astral Plane” begins in the arms of serenity, making you feel like you’re floating through a dream, but then everything is blown to bits, with heavy atmosphere behind their music, which is thick and apparent on this track. There are times when the song starts absolutely destroying everything in front of it and others when the pace is pulled back and the intensity drops. The band always leaves you wondering when to take cover, and the final minutes that are dressed with cosmic synth, gazey coolness, vocals that sound like they’re hellbent on killing, and cosmic dreaminess prove why these songs are so unpredictable.
“Black Hole of Fractured Reflections” keeps our minds in the clouds, with an airy, eerie start that feels like it’s sprinkling stardust before the damn thing is torn apart. The guitars spiral and find a loopy sense of aggression, while crazed shrieks are traded off with strangled growls, giving a perfect look into what makes this band so destructive. Once again, the calm moments and the violent ones play tug of war, as the tempos and paces play around with your mind, and as the song goes on, it even dips into progressive waters. But that isn’t a permanent move, as the band re-ignites their fires, with anguished howling and chugging guitars giving the end a hard shaking. “Reverse Fall” is your finale, running a strong 6:10 and immersing you in heavy, mystical sounds. The howled shrieks terrify again, with the riffs driving this machine forward heavily and massively. Noises are splattered everywhere, while the band maintains its atmospheric crunch, and the final seconds end the record with an earth-ripping fury.
It’s pretty sobering to realize this is just the start for Barbelith, and this debut is one that’s well worth your time and monetary investment. These guys sound like they could be the future of atmospheric black metal, a band that not only will keep the sound alive but will pump it full of vitality.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/barbelithmd
To buy the album, go here: http://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/merch
For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/GrimoireRecords
GENERATION OF VIPERS, “Coffin Wisdom” (Translation Loss) – It’s been three years since Knoxville maulers Generation of Vipers have destroyed us with a new studio album, that one being 2011’s malicious “Howl and Filth.” It’s been a more active year for the band as they brought Gilead Media Fest to its knees in July, and now they’ve returned with their blistering fourth record “Coffin Wisdom” that will knock your teeth down your damn throat.
The band’s combo of hardcore, sludge, and doom are on full display on these seven tracks, and there’s hardly any mercy to be had on this record. The songs are drenched in noise and chaos, and cuts such as punishing open “Damaged Awake” (where the thick bassline sounds like a spine of solid steel); the sweltering yet channeled title cut; the mechanically dangerous, feedback-laden smasher “Dark Matter”; and 7:28 bone-crushing closer “Crawling on the Ceiling” that combines killer riffs, muddy ferocity, and noisy melodies making this one to hear when you absolutely need to throw a cinder block through someone’s window. But this band can do other things, which they prove on the more reflective “Haunted,” a song that has an eerie, ghostly first half, where you feel like you’re in the middle of an out-of-body-experience, before they wreck a dump truck into the whole thing and end it in a cloud of explosive rage. These guys are heavy, honest, and massive, and this is arguably their best record to date.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/generationofvipers
To buy the album, go here: http://translationlossrecords.bigcartel.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.translationloss.com/
APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE, “Of Woe and Wounds” (Cruz del Sur) – If misery, depression, and sadness is more your thing, Indianapolis-based doom metal band Apostle of Solitude are back four years after their awesome “Last Sunrise” (which had one of the most controversial album covers of that year). In the time since, the band has shifted from Profound Lore to Cruz del Sur, but the band’s music is just as heavy, dreary, and darkness-saturated as ever before, as evidenced by their killer new record “Of Woe and Wounds.”
Apostle of Solitude’s music still comes as you from a traditional base, which is sure to please fans of bands including Hour of 13, Gates of Slumber, and some obscure group called Black Sabbath. The 10-track record is fiery, slow driving in spots, and full of great riffs, with there being so many high points, it’s tough to hit on them all. “Whore’s Wings” has tremendous singing from guitarist Chuck Brown, some awesome harmonizing, and warnings to, “See the coldness in her eyes”; “Lamentations of a Broken Man” that’s a profoundly dark and sometimes reminds of early Alice in Chains; “Die Vicar Die” the angriest and, in my opinion, best song on the record, with Brown wondering, “How could a righteous god forgive a monster like me?” and a chorus that bristles with anger; the swaggering and catchy “Push Mortal Coil”; and the epic “Luna” that’s mystical, creepy, sludgy, moody, and lumbering all at once. Apostle of Solitude remain one of the finest American doom bands, and “Of Woe and Wounds” solidifies their rock-solid resume.
For more on the band, go here: http://apostleofsolitude.com/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/store/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/