I’ve Listened to These Recently…

…in the midst of many life changes. The longevity of the words that follow may have an expiration date on them but my feelings on them do not.


Slayer

World Painted Blood

As a preface I need to apologize to many friends, most notably William. You all sang your praises. “Old Slayer is back…,” “Classic…,” and “Fresh…”

I did not heed your words and wrote off World Painted Blood as just another return to form, but from old men. Don’t get me wrong, I loved God Hates Us All and Diabolus in Musica but hated Christ Illusion in both a “this is a shitty record” and “don’t try to reclaim your youth” way. The reason that I loved the aforementioned records was because it seemed fresh and viable in the new age and new world, one much different than when Slayer came out with Reign in Blood and South of Heaven (the latter being my personal favorite). The riffs were new and the subject matter as well…Slayer seemed unstoppable.

At first listen, months ago, Blood Stained World held nothing special. It wasn’t until I revisited the album that I noticed, “Wait, this is really, really good. Shit. A swallow of pride is coming…now.” The opening title track lays down perfectly what one is to expect…full frontal Slayer in the best sense. Breakdowns with perfectly skewed melodic lines over driving drums (courtesy of long-lost Lombardo…(though he was also on Christ Illusion…it is here that he shines as a beacon for every other metal drummer out there), both taut and taught in the school of perfection.

The subject matter does not veer far from what all have come to know over the years…death, murder, war…but “Americon” does stand out as something different than in their canon; an obvious focus on the current world-state is reflected perfectly in lyrics such as, “In a bloodbath of motherfucking oil…in a bloodbath we peddle fucking greed.”

Beginning to end, my friends were right. This IS an amazing record and I apologize to all concerned. I was flat-out wrong.

Tunng

…And Then We Saw Land

Following up 2007’s illustrious Good Arrows is a feat in and of itself. Luckily it was left in the hands of the precious group of lobsterbacks we call Tunng. Sure it sounds very similar in song structure, stylings, and whatnot, but what was already perfect can only remain such. I was a bit disappointed in the pre-released single, “Hustle,” but quickly warmed up to it as I realized that my expectations may have been a bit outlandish; as I said before, perfection can only get a polish.

The folk instrumentation remains intact, as does the electronic forays into the nevermore. Their worship of the well-written song, luckily, also remains obvious to even the casual listener. Listen to “October” while strolling with your loved one on a rainy night, “With Whiskey” at home alone after the loved one has departed, and “Santiago” when the loved one has been replaced with a better version of what your mind’s eye wants.

Circulatory System

Signal Morning

Like every other 90s hipster kid I was all over the Elephant 6 Collective (and still am) and most of their bands (Elf Power disappoints me to this day). Though Neutral Milk Hotel far outsold anything else released from the Athens-based hippie-dippy commune, it is well-known that The Olivia Tremor Control were the godfathers of the entire aesthetic. The better half, William Cullen Hart (vs. the cheesier Bill Doss), started Circulatory System in the ruins of the aforementioned band to continue his signature whispy, psych throwback sound, which remains much intact as much now as it did then. If one is looking for something truly different than the prior album, Inside Views, move on. You will be disappointed.

In place are the forays into 4-track noisescapes and sound-bending. While being pioneers in the genre, Hart was already so far ahead of his time that now a new listener wouldn’t think much of it. Think a more cohesive Animal Collective, more enjoyable than half of the lo-fi bullshit out there now, and even listenable by parental standards. While the openers, “Woodpecker Greeting Worker Ant” and “Rocks and Stones,” are a little sparse and, <ahem>, arty for the everyday listener keep going…”This Morning (We Remembered Everything)” is the perfect introduction to someone with a head spacey enough to handle it. The Opening rift and lazy vocals soothe overworked muscles while the disparate bridge will keep you on your toes enough to know exactly what you’re in store for.

“Overjoyed,” a track placed directly in the middle of the album, is the cornerstone for this doorway into the netherworld. In what sounds like a chorus of kazoos with rumbling acoustics and fuzz bass mapping out the ocean floor, it is sure to grab someone in your car by the genitals and scream, “You forgot about this guy, didn’t you?”

The album flows freely between everything mentioned and may not excite you or your friends, but goddamn I love it not only for the nostalgic feel but for the simple pleasure of wonderfully written, singular songs…singular in that it is instantly recognizable as William Cullen Hart.

I LOVE YOU, MAN.

His label is here.

(I have no idea what this video is supposed to represent, but it is a song from Signal Morning)

Imperium Dekadenz

Procella Vadens

Drawn out, emotional piano intros are nothing new on a black metal record. I could list off dozens but that would seem, and be, mundane. “Die Hoffnung Stirbt…,” the opening track from Germany’s Imperium Dekadenz (yes, yes, I know. Poor band name…reminiscent of a juggalo project) is truly a calming sensation; well played, etheral, and suitable for the distant, staunch, and cloudy cover.

Their style of black metal is of the midtempo, fist-pumping variety. I’m not talking about gang choruses, you overcharged nitwit hardcore kids…this is a decrepitence not found in any other type of music. Originally constructed to chase away all, black metal, of course, brought the hordes closer (including myself) which, arguably, fed the monster so much that not only is it a viable subgenre now, it is one of the premier ones (alongside, of course, death, thrash, traditional, etc.).

Imperium Dekadenz do not venture far off the headbeaten path (like, for instance, France’s Deathspell Omega) but the quality of their song construction will, inevitably, make this album a timeless one. Shades of classic Watain (Casus Luciferi-era) anger, Immortal theatrics, and Gorgoroth (namely Gaahl) vocals, both villanous and understandable.

Listen to “Ego Universalis” for a peppering of all I just mentioned, “Ocean, Mountains Mirror” for just a plain heavy song (who’s not a fan of a church bell placed perfectly?), or, better yet, the entire record to get the gist of the guys. A taste of their hatred and a thirst for their enemies.

(Old Song.)

Daughters

Daughters

The following terms are over-used: math rock, post-rock, post-proto-core-fuck-you. Where metal does have numerous subgenres, the majority are actually useful. If one thing is labelled “thrash” I know what to expect. Same goes for “black,” et al. With rock ‘n roll, though, there’s only a few needed. Rock. Garage Rock. Punk Rock. Classic Rock. Shitty Rock. And that’s about it. There’s a few others, I’m sure, but just shut up already.

ANYWAY…

Daughters, classified a thousand different things over the years, are really good rock on the verge of both punk and metal, but really just good rock. Sure, it’s mathematic, but all music is rooted in numbers, so it’s just how good at math the players are. The focus should rather be on the rock, and the ensuing sounds that encompass the entire genre, most of which can be found on this record.

From the opener, “The Virgin,” to the bookend, “The Unattractive, Portable Head” one thing is evident: nothing makes sense no matter how deeply you prod and prowl. In the entirety of this record one can find comparisons to Jon Spencer, Converge, (old) Dillinger Escape Plan, and even goddamn Pissed Jeans. Yes. Uncomparable to anything you’ve heard. Fuck it all. Listen to it.

Like being awake for your own surgery, this is the sound of your brain getting fucked and boggled like nothing else. Sure, there’s been “weirder” things, but nothing as listenable.

(Daughters have broken up, so this is all you’re gonna get.)

True

Still Life

Combine elements of classic death and thrash metal and throw in some seemingly random sounds (new-agey female vocals ‘na’-ing their way over a…ukulele?) Anyway, it seems stranger at first than it actually is. Or is it? Songs will only tell.

Right into “Once,” one realizes that this is just going to be wonderful through and through. The layering of the vocals adds dimension to what would be considered run-of-the-mill growling. But. Then.

A constant retreat throughout the album into opaque regions blessed with keyboards and mandolin. A knee jerk reaction would pin it down as folk metal but luckily they never try to stay in a certain time period. Folk metal is merely the aural equivalent to hanging out with historical reenactors at a bar…sure, it’s fun because there’s booze and stories, but it can only get so good. While they have the traditional instruments of their homeland (Croatia) they do not rely on them as a headboard…most of their time is spent far outside of their normal realm (I assume) and into the wonderful world of death metal.

(WordPress does not support the user-friendly, slick Vimeo. So watch it here.)

Aosoth

Ashes of Angels

Yes, another black metal record. Is this a surprise? No.

Hailing from one of my new favorite capitals of metal, France, Aosoth brings not the aforementioned midtempo goodness but rather a more classic bombastic blunt force. Blast beats all the time. But listenable. Make sense?

One man, Bestial Satanic T, does everything. Sure he has his treehouse buddies INRVI and J., among others, help him live, but this monster is from him alone. Of course the music is bleak and cold; the loneliness of a one man black metal project can only be such. Look at Philadelphia’s Woe, California’s Xasthur, and San Francisco’s Leviathan. Now shiver.

As I think this is a great album beginning to end, it really doesn’t bring anything new to the table. When I tire of other frozen reaches into the freezer of nothingness I will surely come to this for a refreshing freezer pop.


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Comments
3 Responses to “I’ve Listened to These Recently…”
  1. I agree that Circulatory System is rad! But I think comparing them to Animal Collective is a stretch. They remind me more of what would happen if the band Meho Plaza made sweet love to Jeff Mangum’s “Everything Is” EP, while Serge Gainsbourg videotaped the whole process…

    Your blog is great, by the way! You’ve got a ton of good stuff posted. Thank you.

  2. Ah…Animal Collective has many similarities in both sound and influences. They are vastly different, though, I agree. Which is why I simply stated that Circulatory System are simply more cohesive than Animal Collective. I like your comparisons…the “Everything Is” EP was stunning and I can definitely see Gainsbourg videotaping a lot of things. Heh. Heh.

    Thanks for reading, man. I will have more stuff up soon.

  3. Elisa says:

    Hey,

    I started reading your blog because I was looking for stuff about Texas and found your blog in the midlle of everything else. I’m from Brazil, and I’m going to grad school in the US next semester…I just don’t know where yet. I have applied to 4 schools, have been approved for 2 so far, and one of them is in Dallas, the other one in NC, and the one I’m really waiting for is Chicago…since you moved from Chicago to Texas, I really, really wanted to talk to you about the prons and cons of each city, so I can make a good decision…think you could help me with that? If yes, pleeease, e-mail me. I will look forward to hearing from you!!

    Thanks!

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