Saturday, February 1, 2014

NEW WEBSITE

Attention dear readers. It is with great joy that I announce the creation of my new Black Metal & Brews homepage. The site already has a few new posts and will eventually host the entire archive from this old blogspot URL.

If you have had my page bookmarked, please change your bookmark to http://blackmetalandbrews.com so that you don't miss out on any of the music, drinks, and other exciting new things I'll be sharing in the near future. This website has (to date) received over 60,000 views at this URL, for which I'm quite grateful. Let's hope the next one can reach that number in half the time. Thanks for all the support. Let's reconvene elsewhere. Cheers!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Yellow Eyes- "The Desert Mourns" EP (SIbir Records/Dead Section)


Readers who have been following for any amount of time should know I've been big on New York black metal group Yellow Eyes since the beginning of my writing career (if you could call a blog a career). In just a few short years, these guys have gone from being a band with a promising demo to being the sort of hot commodity who makes year end lists on sites with hundreds of times the visitor count of my little blog. I've even seen copies of their debut demo going for offensively high prices on discogs, which is a sign of their current popularity, although I'd love to see the band getting that kind of cash instead of folks who bought a tape and never even listened to it. In other words, I love Yellow Eyes and it's incredible to me that they've become such a buzz band. This hype would typically be hard to live up to, but this band delivers time after time. Today we're taking a look at their brand new 12" EP, The Desert Mourns.

With only one song on each side, this album plays at 45RPM, which is a rarity in my collection, but makes this a real collectible gem. These two songs see Yellow Eyes demonstrating a sound that is truly their own yet instantly welcoming even for those not previously initiated with this skilled young act. Vibrant and bright guitars that cut through the mix with a clarity uncommon in black metal will grab your attention almost immediately after following the band's trademark introductory ambiance. If the band's energy doesn't come through your sound system with the passion and fury of a live performance, then I can only assume your ears or heart aren't in the right place, because this is a gripping, if not unnecessarily brief, demonstration of Yellow Eyes' mastery of the genre and true potential. The drumming is expressive without hogging the spotlight and the vocals are almost scientifically engineered to hit the right degree of presence for this kind of music. There is a sense of confidence that this album displays that, while other releases hinted at, is finally coming to the foreground here. I think the band has always had material like this in them yet perhaps did not have the reputation or experience necessary to share it properly. This isn't really even ambitious so much as it is another step in this already challenging band's continuous path towards dominance of the metal underground. Another thing to make note of is the lyrical expansion. While Yellow Eyes' career started with rather bleak, depressing lyrics fixated on self-loathing, misery, and generally unpleasant themes, they've adapted the position of storytellers rather than miserable black metal dudes. While I'm a fan of both, the growth and maturity of the band has clearly expanded in every aspect of their complete package, which delights me. As an aside, if you're a geek like me, you'll love how intense this gets if you play it at 33RPM instead of 45. You'll have to try it for yourself when you grab a copy.

Back of shirt. Front has Yellow Eyes logo.
This album is available on its own in versions unique to both the US and EU, as well as in a bundle with a shirt commissioned for this particular album. I'm honestly surprised this didn't sell out in its first day or two, but that doesn't mean you should wait long if you want to have a shot at owning a copy. Also, yes, I'm still unable to embed from bandcamp for some awful reason. Here's a youtube sample of the title track. Once my official site goes up soon I'll be able to embed properly again. Thanks for the patience, dear readers.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lvcifyre- "Svn Eater" CD/LP (Dark Descent)


Greetings readers. Thanks for being patient with my slight delay in reviews. Today we're visiting an album that's only been out for a couple days and has already been causing quite a stir in the general metal media. I tend to try to steer clear of releases that are receiving larger amounts of coverage, but this one impressed me enough to warrant sharing with my readers. With a name like Lvcifyre, I would normally be slightly hesitant about the music, as the whole business of substituting "v' for "u" is typically an indication of campy junk, but even my first listen yielded great interest. It's evident these guys are dead serious and focused on cultivating a truly evil atmosphere, not just playing with Satanism for laughs.


While Svn Eater lurches in slowly with a nearly five-minute long buildup on opener "Night Seas Sorcery," the rest of the album's nearly fifty minutes passes quickly with very few moments of relief. While the lyrical and visual aesthetic of the album is clearly rooted in black metal's symbolism, this is very much an efficient and precise exercise in death metal perfection. Guitars swirl and roar in lower frequencies, yet don't tread into the more subterranean horror that's so popular now. Instead, this is a modern take on the classic aggression of early 90's acts, relentless and full of great riffs. In fact, the mix is crystal clear without treading into slick or obnoxious territory. Everything is crisp and balanced, exactly as it should be, with just enough variety and nuance to keep things from being a simple rehash of a genre overplayed. Copies of this album are officially on sale from Dark Descent now, so grab it on the format of your choice while it's available.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Benefit for Stephen Petrus: "When one has nothing left make ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them"


This post was initially going to be a review of a brand new compilation, but I've decided that due to the timeliness of matters, it's most important for me to simply put this out for the world to experience without going into great depth. Why? Because when this album is a compilation set to benefit Stephen Petrus, a member of the noise community whose house burnt down on January 8th. The public might view extreme musicians as groups of unsavory people, but I can't think of too many examples of such a large community coming together like this to help one of its own in other musical genres. So, instead of spending lengthy paragraphs telling you how the appropriately titled "Recovery From Flames" from Marc Benner is one of my standout tracks or how great it is to be introduced to Petrus' own music with the killer tune "Scarlet Apocalypse I" from his project Lithop├Ždion, I'm simply using this space to encourage you to purchase this compilation and help this fellow reclaim a small part of his life and rebuild the rest. The music is generally on the ambient side of noise, with few tracks straying into harsher territory, making this a rather listenable compilation even for newcomers to the genre. In fact, with 28 tracks occupying about three hours' time, this one's a perfect introduction to some stellar noise artists. It's currently going for ten bucks but will soon be raised to fifteen for optimal benefit for Mr. Petrus, so hop on it now. Still, if you can afford to pay more than the minimum, I urge you to do so. The bandcamp player has been refusing to work on my page, for which I apologize. Click any of the links above to visit this compilation and hear the tunes.

Synsophony- "Rabbit Hole" (Self-Released)


Readers, you may remember how I gushed about Synsophony's debut, Karmic Existence, some time ago. Today I'm pleased to share another release from these black drone madmen, Rabbit Hole. Like their first album, this digital release is one track of expansive confusion, chaos, and anxiety. While it's not necessarily something I recommend before your morning coffee, it's a great experience for those of us who like to test our boundaries.

Unlike the lingering horror of Karmic Existence, Rabbit Hole starts at a peak of sorts, slowly crumbling as the listener descends slowly. The obvious nod to Lewis Carroll in the title conjures, again, thoughts of the onset of a psychedelic experience of some sort, but far darker than anything you'd find depicted in a story for families. With only thirteen minutes to do its damage, Rabbit Hole is far more of a meandering journey through and past uncomfortable sounds than it is a death sentence. One can occasionally hear chatter in the distance, as if observers to one's descent are nearby, yet are nowhere to be seen through the oppressive haze created by Synsophony. No peaceful closure is presented, yet one feels slightly more resolution here, despite the lack of beauty given.

Rabbit Hole is currently available as a pay what you like download from Synsophony's bandcamp page, but will see release as a cassette from Acephale Winter Productions later in 2014, along with a bonus remix.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Aurvandil- "Thrones" CS (Psychic Violence Records)


Today is the third and final day of my weekend with the newest batch of Psychic Violence tapes. which means we're visiting the magnificent release, Thrones by Aurvandil. While the band does have a noteworthy back catalog, this is my introduction to this group. French acts seem to consistently produce some of the best black metal around, and Aurvandil is a strong contribution to this status. Without wasting further time, let's begin.


Side I is labeled Iron, with two tracks of majestic black metal brilliance that bring to mind a medieval battlefield after the fight has ended: empty, covered in snow, and littered with lifeless bodies. While not quite falling into the folk metal category, the album opens with a splendid semi-acoustic passage that brings to mind Ulver's legendary Kveldsjanger, with subtle choral vocals and just enough shimmering resonance on the guitars to create a proper atmosphere. When the galloping drums and full instrumentation break in, I feel like I've fallen through into another world conjured by the music. While winter is the general climate this album seems to conjure, the motion through snow-covered landscapes is constant, with valleys, forests, and even desolate cities passing by as one listens. The constant movement and the subtle variations created by harmonizing leads that are all but buried in the background keep this fresh despite the repetitive and consistent nature of this kind of music.


Side II is labeled Ice, and while the music here is clearly cut from the same mold as the first side, there is a slightly colder, less violent feeling to the music here. Perhaps it's because of the artist's lead, but it works either way. While not exactly calming, this side feels more victorious and slightly less mournful in a way without losing the overall darkness in mood. When things slow down during a few choice segments in the track, it shows the peak of Aurvandil's genius. I'm always into albums that play with mood and atmosphere, and this is full of it, so it's easy to see why this was one of my favorites of 2013.

Grab a copy while they're still in stock. I can't imagine it'll last long. If you've missed it by this point, Eisenwald will be releasing this on vinyl soon, so keep an eye out.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Vilkacis- "The Fever of War" (Psychic Violence Records)


So I guess this post might make it clear that I'm doing a three part post on the Psychic Violence winter dispatch. I figured yesterday's post about Urzeit was a good start to get your attention, so here's one you can actually get your paws on (although not from the original label). Vilkacis is a solo project of M. Rekeviks of Fell Voices. Little else needs to be said in preparing you for the level of quality presented here, yet fans of the band will be pleasantly surprised to find that this is not merely a clone of Rekeviks' primary band.

The Fever of War is a beast unto itself, with blast beats and tremolo picking leading the way, but in a far less textured and dense way than Fell Voices. Instead, this brings to mind the blistering minimalist approach of classics like Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger with its simple yet appropriately balanced style, although this certainly has more depth than this description might imply. Imagine a violent blizzard, or perhaps even a barrage of gunfire as the visual equivalent of this album's sonic quality. It drives incessantly onward, yet never quite leads one to exhaustion or boredom despite the repetition on which this sort of music often relies. The textured, droning centerpiece of "Sentinel at the Gate" provides a slight reprieve from the madness, akin to some of the more soothing ambient passages from Blazebirth Hall artists, but without the potentially unsavory associations. The following track (which kicks off the B-side) starts things off at a far slower pace, allowing us to regain our footing before jumping back in to the furious and vibrant track, "Wind and Flame." Perhaps I'm just a sucker for this kind of rawness, but this is one of the most masterful demonstrations of this niche that I've witnessed in quite some time. Far too often, bands like this lose themselves in either self-indulgence or (even worse) doldrums of monotony. Vilkacis deftly avoids these pitfalls and has offered something timeless with this debut release.


As previously mentioned, copies are still available in the Analog Worship distro, although I can't imagine these will last long, so grab this beauty while it's still available or else try your luck on discogs, where copies currently exist but will likely vanish just as quickly.