Wait til you see High on Fire live…they’re a band full of road-dog touring musicians, but they’ve got the songs and the chops to back it up. Truly one of the best in the business. That last album with Kurt Ballou manning the decks was such an unhinged explosion of sound.
And congrats on finding your watershed moment, welcome to the ranks, infinite hails, et al ;-)
More evidence, for the sake of fun: way back in 2010 Keep of Kalessin competed in (and won) a major musical reality competition in Norway, as seen here:
As a rough analogue, that’d be like (early) Abigail Williams winning America’s Got Talent. We clearly live in different worlds.
I think starting with the latest Swans release is a tough go if you’re not already a fan. The Seer was so visceral and immediate (despite the insane running length) that it made for a perfect introduction for a lot of people, but the new one leans back and takes its time, making it much harder to stay interested if you don’t already love what they’re doing.
The interesting thing about Swans is their amorphous back catalog. They hardly ever repeat themselves, and most of their albums sound nothing like the reunion albums (the last three). The early stuff was unmitigated brutality in the form of grating post-punk; crushing stuff, but distinctly not metal. From there they shifted into gothic noir, occasionally psychedelic, dark americana mode for a few albums, before returning to heavier, weirder pastures in the early to mid 90s… and then they broke up. A lot of the middle albums are more about the juxtaposition of beauty (Jarboe’s female vocal) and something much uglier (the guitars, and/or Michael Gira’s raving shouts), though it’s a lot more complex than that one dynamic.
I did a feature on Swans a couple years ago; makes for a decent introduction if you’re interested. As an entry point, I’d probably recommend Children of God or The Great Annihilator since both show the above juxtaposition across some seriously classic tunes, and the heaviness is mitigated by some truly gorgeous moments. I think of Swans as more of a noisy art project than a metal band, really, but the appeal can be similar at times.
absolutely *kills, is what I meant to say :-)
Lots of great recommendations above. Dawnbringer is an absolute must.
We covered Darkest Era last month (or was it the month before? I forget), and Joseph is right, that absolutely. If you’re particularly interested in the style Pallbearer plays in, I encourage you check out the british band Warning, who laid the groundwork for Pallbearer in a number of ways. The guitars are slow, heavy, and emotive; the singing is entirely clean, but intense. The same singer has a newer project called 40 Watt Sun, also worth a look.
Here’s Warning’s classic album from 2006.
If you’re open to something a little bit uglier but still reasonably accessible, look into the Irish band Primordial. Darkest Era actually draw on their sound quite a bit (though DE has much more melodic vox), but Primordial has more of a basis in pagan black metal. Primordial’s singer, Alan Averill (sometimes credited A. A. Nemtheanga) toes the line between a harsh vocal and singing, and it makes for an interesting window between both worlds, but he articulates quite well. Take a listen to their 2007 album, To the Nameless Dead:
I understand the emotion driving this movement, but I personally can’t see it as realistic or even ultimately necessary. Does anyone playing rock music, or anything derived from the blues, need to vocally come out and say they oppose the misogyny of certain early blues musicians? You can take this as far as you want to go, but I don’t think adding a political requirement for every band to say what they do or don’t believe regarding their predecessors would accomplish much of anything, other than to shift focus away from the music onto tangential issues, thereby politicizing art that may not be political in any way.
I think there’s a misunderstanding at the core of all this: people are assuming that the current generation of metal artists are in any way influenced (or even interested) in the beliefs of a few of the louder bigots who happened to get famous during black metal’s second wave. Those bigots are in no way representative of the scene as a whole, nor were they ever idolized for their beliefs, ever. There’s no uniform code of belief amongst metal fans or musicians, at least not in any larger sense (other than a general anti-religious sentiment, though that’s not uniform or required by any means).
Anyway, it’s an interesting discussion point. While I may not particularly dig for the Soft Pink Truth’s music, it’s fun to debate the project’s ideological merit.
For anyone saddened by the lack of death metal, here are a few nuggets of deathy gold that just missed inclusion:
Gruesome – Matt Harvey of Exhumed put together a new death metal band, and it’s essentially a tribute to Leprosy-era Death. You don’t hear this particular style of throwback death metal all that often, but these guys do it as well as anyone.
Cemetary Lust – crusty, gnarly, and raw as fuck. Hells Headbangers is the only label that could have released this.
Mutilated Veterans – more crusty death (this time war-themed) from Hells Headbangers. Featuring dudes from Machetazo.
Shards of Humanity – this month is all about duality. Here’s another Leprosy-worshipping OSDM band, with a new album out on Unspeakable Axe, which is Dark Descent’s thrashier sub-label. High quality tunes.
Algebra – all right, this one’s not death metal. Rather, it’s old school technical thrash (what was once called “techno thrash” before techno became something else entirely). I get a whiff of Coroner from this one; the name is much nerdier than the tunes, no question.
This year’s MDF was easily my favorite music festival experience ever. Bolzer did win MDF, but almost everyone delivered the goods: Agalloch were the best I’ve seen them; Incantation were as powerful as always; At the Gates was electric and surprisingly brutal (lots of early aggressive tracks in the set); and the final two songs of Sarke’s set was one of those untouchable, unrepeatable moments that will live in my memory forever. The biggest surprise was probably God Macabre, who did the reunited band victory lap thing better than anyone (FAR better than Cancer or Nocturnus, both of which dropped the ball). Disappointments were few and far between, and the way the fest was set up this year allowed me to see almost every band I wanted to.
To anyone considering MDF next year: do it. Steel yourself for marathon days and consider not drinking at all (it’s the only way I could go for 13 hours straight on blacktop for 4 days in a row), but the selection of bands, the fans and the connections made, and the entire experience are all too incredible to miss.
Same here. Definitely prefer Bongripper!
(1) I didn’t explain my use of “cheesy” properly. And no, Insomnium are not cheesy, but as Mike mentioned, plenty of metal is. Cheesy to me doesn’t necessarily mean clean production, rather the overall execution. I personally find the dated drum loops Katatonia uses to be cheesy. The band Sabaton: cheesy, no matter what they do. Is it a vague descriptor? Sure, but it describes how certain elements might make the listener feel in one simple word.
(2) I like glossy production for the right styles of music. Melodeath, tech death, modern thrash, post-metal, power metal: by all means, gloss it up.
(3) I almost mentioned Sentenced in the top blurb but opted for more recognizable names for simplicity sake. You’re right, it’s the closest touchstone, though I hear plenty of In Flames moments across this album (and that’s a good thing). I didn’t mention Soilwork as a comparison to Insomnium in any way, just as an example of the kind of melodeath I personally don’t care for. Trust me, none of us are closed-minded about music.
(4) I love that so many people are here in support of Insomnium. Thanks for reading and taking me to task!