New week, new post. First off, if you’re someone who has been following this series for a while, welcome back. If you’re new, welcome in general. Last week was the last full week of February which means by the time this post actually comes out, it will already be March. I’ve already put out my summary post for February. (Seems like I’m finally keeping on top of things around here. It’s a miracle.) If any of you have read it, you may have seen a couple releases that I haven’t written about before–releases which will be covered in this post–which should give you a pretty good idea of how things are going to go down this week. Now, I’m not in a writing mood, but I’ll try my best to do these releases justice with a proper description, even if it may just be a short one.
To that effect, it seems unreasonable to extend this introduction any longer, but I do want to say a quick thank you to Transilvanian Hangover, who really helped me out this week (and every week before that if I’m being honest) with ranking and listening to all these albums. Having second opinions on an album can really help you to make sense of opinions of your own, especially when that someone is as knowledgeable and insightful as he is. Thanks, bloop.
7. The Well-Wisher- The Colours Fade
This album, in all honesty, could have landed itself a position much higher on this list than it did, because it seems to come across better in theory than in practice. ‘The Colours Fade’ really does have the makings of an excellent DSBM album, with just a touch of Lifelover to make things interesting; however, the problems are not so much with the songwriting as they are with the way the instruments themselves are played. It seems to me that the musicians may have struggled to implement their ideas in ways that they are technically capable of, and that really takes a lot of potential away from what is otherwise a very solid work of music. But ultimately, that aspect can be disregarded in favour of very… Resilient writing skills, if you will. It is clear that The Well-Wisher are capable of great things musically and that fortunately salvages this album from any unbefitting traits it may have. The first few months of the year have unfortunately been a dry spell for DSBM, but it seems like things may just be turning around.
6. Swamp Devil- Pioneers
I have to admit, I’ve probably revisited this album more than any other on my list this week, although that was mostly because I forgot to save new music and ended up listening to this again and again simply because it was one of two albums I had on my phone at the time (the other being Ende’s ‘The Rebirth of I’, if you wanted to know). What is clear to me after listening to this album repeatedly is that it walks somewhat of a tightrope along the border between stoner rock and stoner doom. Generally speaking it’s upbeat and laden with quality riffs, but I just can’t listen to this without being blatantly reminded of one of my favourite doom albums: Desperate Souls of Tortured Times, by the London-based doom colossi, Age of Taurus. Now, Age of Taurus are definitely laying it on a bit thicker on the bottom end of their aforementioned 2013 full-length. They also pull off this style of vocals in a much smoother way, but at the heart of it all, ‘Pioneers’ is a very different release at heart, and one that is very highly recommended to doom fans–especially fans of Age of Taurus.
5. Kvalm- The Greatest Story Ever Told
Kvalm (SWE) are not actually included in the Archives. I can’t exactly speculate why not, but if it’s because they’re considered to be too close to rock, I would beg to differ. This is a release I somehow stumbled upon in my Bandcamp feed and it’s truly one of the more interesting sludge/stoner albums I’ve heard this year. If you’re someone who follows new releases using the Archives, this album may be news to you, and in that case, I would encourage you to change that at the first opportunity.
4. Ende- Emën Etan
Enders third full-length, ‘Emën Etan’, has finally arrived. I’ve been waiting to hear this for quite some time, and I quite enjoy this, which is to say, it’s not disappointing in the slightest. This does seem to tend more towards the atmospheric side of black metal than the ambient side, which is a small difference in contrast to what they’ve released in previous years, but that really isn’t a negative thing. In fact, the atmospheric sections complement the album tastefully and in such a way that they actually seem to augment everything going on around them. My only complaint with ‘Emën Etan’ is that there doesn’t seem to be as much going on here as in their previous work. It’s not to say that this doesn’t stand up to the rest of their discography–that is quite simply a false statement–but I’m not certain I feel the pull to revisit this one as much as their other material. In its own right, however, it’s a fantastic collection of music from start to end.
3. Cryptic Brood- Brain Eater
‘Mental Funeral’-era Autopsy is something the world needs to see more of. The cross between OSDM and doom metal is truly a deadly combination. If that’s what you’re after, Germany’s Cryptic Brood are exactly what you never knew you were looking for. Citing Autopsy as a heavy influence, ‘Brain Eater’ has quickly become one of my favourite releases of the month of February. I imagine this release will end up on its share of Album of the Year lists come December. This has the potential to entice both fans of doom and death metal alike even if you’re not a fan of one genre or the other, so give it a shot, yeah?
2. Doctor Livingstone- Triumphus Haeretici
Doctor Livingstone began life as a hardcore punk band prior to transitioning to black metal. But even now, it’s clear that they are not afraid to expose their roots. In fact, that may well be one of their most redeeming qualities, as their lingering connection to their hardcore background contributes an aggressive and refreshing edge to their music to a degree that is not what I would call commonplace. Yet, even through their explosive musical belligerence, they manage to take a dynamic approach to their writing style. Acoustic instrumentation, soft chants and other artistic elements provide firm seams around all their edges, augmenting the force of their more aggressive moments to explosive levels. Throw in hints of ambient as the icing on the cake and it is clear that Doctor Livingstone are not fucking around. Ignore this album at your own risk.
1. Light of the Morning Star- Nocta
Gothic rock has long been a low-key interest of mine. Add in influence from black and doom metal and that may not necessarily guarantee a great album. In fact, that sounds like a bit of a mess. Fortunately, that couldn’t be further from what Light of the Morning Star have done with ‘Nocta’–their very first full-length, and their second overall release. While I have not heard their EP ‘Cemetery Glow’ (released in 2016) and thus cannot speak to it, I can attest to the fact that ‘Nocta’ is the result of successful navigation through fairly treacherous musical waters (with some serious Type O vibes, to boot). There have been some absolutely amazing albums this week but Light of the Morning Star have really proven that they are something else–or at least that they’re quite capable of assuming that role, being that I have to hear ‘Cemetery Glow’ before I make such bold assertions. In any case, regardless of what else they might have done in their musical career, ‘Nocta’ is a highly recommended gem of an album that is definitely worthy of the numerous revisits I’ve already given it, and that I will undoubtedly come back to many more times in the months to come.
PSA: Rust– To the Continuous Cold
‘To the Continuous Cold’ is only about ten minutes long, so I didn’t want to include this in the main body of the post, but I do feel an obligation to mention that it exists. Rust were a brilliant last-minute discovery of 2016 and I don’t intend to let anything else they do slip under the radar ever again. I won’t go into detail on this release, but I do want to make sure everyone is aware of it.
• • •In Summary• • •
This week has been very innovative in general. A lot of the releases I’ve talked about today have brought something new and interesting to the table, and I can’t imagine a better start to March. I imagine that a good deal of these albums (if not all of them, let’s be honest) will end up on my summary post for March. I actually found this post very easy to write just because of how amazing all these releases are, so I hope you al enjoy these as much as I did. I honestly wouldn’t advice skipping over any one of these because I believe that at least a few of them have the potential to become key players in 2017.