Michael Nelson
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In 2013, the British melodic death metal/grindcore band Carcass released Surgical Steel; it was one of the best albums of the year, both metal and otherwise. Next month, Carcass will release an EP called Surgical Remission/Surplus Steel, featuring five songs recorded during the Surgical Steel sessions that were not included on the original release. Among those songs is “Livestock Marketplace,” which the band has premiered today, with a lyric video. And you can check out that song/video below. Do it!

It’s been pretty amazing to witness the evolution of A Pregnant Light. The one-man project from Grand Rapids, MI, began its life in 2011 as a post-black metal act in America’s vast, loosely connected cassette-trading underground. Back then, the band’s auteur was a shadowy figure who wouldn’t reveal his identity — he went by the handle Deathless Maranatha, and he ran the DIY label Colloquial Sound Recordings, a collective whose equally anonymous associated members included bands like Aksumite, Bound Bible, and This Station Of Life. The man called Deathless Maranatha played in all those bands, too: In Aksumite, he was credited as Dukula Menelek; in Bound Bible, he went by D; in This Station Of Life, he was credited as Master. At some point over the last couple years, he decided to reveal himself further, identifying himself as Damian Master and establishing a consistently hilarious Twitter presence where he shares selfies, incisive critiques of pop culture, and random thoughts that are both self-aggrandizing and self-aware — for example:

It’s been 19 years since Norwegian black metal legend Hoest changed his band’s name from Thule to Taake, and 15 years since Taake’s debut LP, Nattestid Ser Porten Vid, the first piece of a trilogy that would eventually include 2002′s Over Bjoergvin Graater Himmerik and 2005′s Hordalands Doedskvad: three albums that balance overwhelming harshness with amazing melodies. Throw in the occasional mouth harp or banjo solo, and that’s pretty much what Taake deliver every time out. Hoest releases a new Taake album every three years; he’s now released five such LPs, and they range in quality from “excellent” to “absolutely essential.” (Worth noting, too: His unhinged, flamboyant performance at Maryland Death Fest 2014 was one of the festival’s unequivocal highlights.) Taake’s last was 2011′s Noregs Vaapen, which means they’re due for a new one in 2014, and it looks like they’re JUST gonna make that deadline. Stridens Hus, Taake’s sixth full-length, will be out in December, but we’ve got a song from it to spin today. “Det Fins En Prins” is the third track on the upcoming album, and it’s pretty close to perfect: It mostly works within the long-established sonic parameters of True Norwegian Black Metal — hissed vocals, a blur of hyperspeed, tempo-shifting guitars and drums — but stacks every section with hooks and grooves, and then throws to a crazy wah-soaked solo. It’s no banjo, but it’ll do. Listen.


 +1Posted on Oct 21st | re: Cult Of Fire - "Vltava" (4 comments)

Oh wow, I think you might be right. Maybe it’s not a cover per se but elements of Smetana’s composition are certainly in this one.

Good ear! The other song on the EP is called “Váh,” and I can’t find a song matching that name in relation to Smetana, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that too borrowed from/updated/paid homage to his work.

 +1Posted on Oct 17th | re: Foo Fighters - "Something From Nothing" (55 comments)

That’s actually a good point! FWIW, I’m not sure if Albini played ANY role here — as I said in the post, it was recorded at EA; Albini could have just unlocked the doors and turned on the lights and then sat in his office playing online poker for the next few hours/days while the meter was running.

 +4Posted on Oct 16th | re: Foo Fighters - "Something From Nothing" (55 comments)

Nah, I meant “preceding,” like: the s/t was really ambitious relative to what preceded it, because in Grohl’s career preceding that record, he was just Nirvana’s drummer: That record is pretty much PURE ambition, because before that, there was nothing. It is 100% more ambitious than what preceded it. The Colour And The Shape is super ambitious, because before that, Foo Fighters were just something Grohl was recording by himself in his house, and now, he was making these glossy, forceful, arena-sized anthems. It is, let’s say, 65% more ambitious than what preceded it. Since then it’s been diminishing returns — with each album maybe 10% more or less ambitious than the one that preceded it. Right? Or am I wrong?

 +5Posted on Oct 16th | re: Foo Fighters - "Something From Nothing" (55 comments)

I considered In Your Honor but to me that structure seems like more of a gimmick than a huge ambitious leap, whereas the first album was a work of pretty fearless ambition, and the second one is such an enormous advancement on that. I feel like everything since The Colour And The Shape has actually been a little conservative and almost un-ambitious, musically speaking.

Yeah they released the song(s) in 2012 actually. You are right about VV on all dates, not sure how that got messed up, but I have amended it. Thanks!

Whoops, Sad Reminders commenter DonaldDuckKooKim pointed out an error in my text above: Mark Kozelek refers to the Sad Reminders commenters as “Sad Whiners,” not “Sad Bastards.” Sorry!

 +2Posted on Oct 8th | re: The Black Market: The Month In Metal - September 2014 (59 comments)

Oh no worries, I didn’t mean to get all pedantic on you, I just have this whole complicated idea about Burzum that I’ve never written out anywhere but at its essence is the belief that all his shit is tangled up with all his other shit.

 +1Posted on Oct 8th | re: The Black Market: The Month In Metal - September 2014 (59 comments)

That might be something Brandon wrote. I’ve never really written anything on Burzum here (outside of discussing his place and role in history). My feelings about the intersection of Burzum’s music and Varg’s extramusical life are a little different, and I don’t think I’ve ever really written about them anywhere. (I’d be happy to do so, there just hasn’t been an opportunity/news peg/demand for such a piece.)

 +1Posted on Oct 7th | re: The Black Market: The Month In Metal - September 2014 (59 comments)

Well he clarified to say that for him Satan was a symbol for “freedom.” Gaahl also spent nine months in prison for “assaulting and torturing a man for six hours while collecting his blood into a cup and threatening to make him drink it.” He’s not just playing the part.

 +4Posted on Oct 7th | re: Mark Kozelek, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down (120 comments)

Guys, a lot of you had nice things to say about this story, and I want you to know I really appreciate your kind words. Thanks!

Since I’m here, I’ll add a couple footnote-y type things:

1. I probably should have included this in the piece, but it totally slipped my mind till this morning: I don’t know if you’d say Koz has a history of smacking down other artists from the stage, but I’ve seen him do it before. First time I saw him, spring/summer 1995 at NYC’s Fez Under Time Cafe, he said some nasty stuff about the band Spain (who played a style of music similar — and vastly inferior, IMO — to Red House Painters back then; the two bands were routinely name-checked together in reviews). At that same show, he also kind of dismissed the English depressive folk singer Nick Drake, who was often assumed to be an influence on Koz. I remember this one verbatim (because it rattled around my head for so long): “Fuck Nick Drake. I fuckin’ hate Nick Drake.” (I don’t know if he’d ever heard Nick Drake, I think he just hated the comparison.)

2. I mentioned that Spin review of “Rollercoaster,” written by Jim Greer, and while this is a total tangent, I wanted to give a shout to Greer. In the early-mid ’90s, he was one of the stars of Spin Magazine, and his work there pretty much singlehandedly changed the course of my life and convinced me to pursue this line of work. At the time, he was engaged to Kim Deal, playing bass with Guided By Voices, and doing all sorts of awesome writing about music, including a really cool series called “A Year In The Life Of Rock & Roll,” which I read devotionally every month. So the dude not only introduced me to my favorite band, but my career. And I totally love my job but I gotta say it has NEVER ONCE been as sexy or exciting as he made it seem. After college I got an internship at Rolling Stone, and I was telling my editor/supervisor about all my favorite music writers. I went down the list of 6 or 7 obvious names (Xgau, Ellen Willis, etc.) and included Greer among them. My editor/supervisor was like, “Those are all great critics! Except Jim Greer. He’s terrible.” I still disagree.