The Black Market: The Month In Metal – September 2019
Congratulations! You now own a limited edition 15th anniversary d.Marvin Guitars Dieselharp, offered exclusively through a beer can redemption program overseen by Blake Judd’s new blockchain startup Nachtcryptium.
With a Dieselharp, you’re only one strum away from opening a portal to a DXM-saturated alternate plane of bleak and blurry black metal tones. Whether you’re looking to create atmospheric black metal, blackgaze, metalgaze, or atmospheric blackened metalgaze, the Dieselharp will turn your fuzzy dreams into an even fuzzier reality.
Your Dieselharp is based on a prototype used by Velvet Cacoon on its 2004 album Genevieve, the specifications of which were detailed in an interview conducted in August of that year in conspiracy with the band’s then-label Full Moon Productions. Some say Velvet Cacoon lied about the Dieselharp to cynically build buzz or catfish a buzz-thirsty black metal scene. However, by building a totally real Dieselharp that will be shipped to you shortly, d.Marvin Guitars has proven that the Portland (sure) duo (why not) lied about lying. And that, Dieselharp owner, is the truth.
Built in the same Chinese factory that once employed Ghost Bath, your Dieselharp features everything a mysterious black metaller could desire. From the high-grade steel guitar body with mounted diesel fuel tank down to the 75-gallon fiberglass aquarium resonator 3-D printed with Moore, Inc.’s patented CLOAKBRAIN™ technology, it’s clear from the first touch that your Dieselharp is an engineering marvel. (WARNING: Do not touch the Dieselharp.) It’s also Instagram-ready, finished with a high-gloss, mostly-not-flammable lacquer that shows up well in high-contrast photo editing.
Needless to say, the Dieselharp is unlike any guitar you’ve played before. Unreal, even. So, to keep your Dieselharp in top working condition and lessen the chance of injury and war-crime levels of collateral damage, please read this guide in full before using this unbelievable instrument.
NOTE: Due to the passage of Proposition 666 (popularly known as The Squirrel-Wheel Bill), all claims about the functionality of the original Dieselharp prototype have been vetted by Avinash Mittur, an engineer now working at Saildrone. We are legally required to disclose his findings.
1. KNOW YOUR DIESELHARP
In the 15 years since Velvet Cacoon member LVG unveiled the instrument to the world, the basics remain roughly the same:
- A steel body with 33 pre-drilled holes for silver diesel-delivery tubes
- Three large steel braces outfitted with custom pickups
- A tightly packed bundle of analog fiberoptic cords
- 75-gallon fiberglass aquarium resonator (a 15-gallon practice resonator is the standard in Dieselsquire packages)
Due to user demand, the fourth generation of the Dieselharp has evolved to include the following:
- A hand-taped diesel fuel tank
- Custom flame guard
- Choose Your Own Adventure-style legend-building pamphlet. Now with more options explaining your drummer’s demise!
WARNING: Check all parts before starting the Dieselharp. Damaged parts may cause the tone to sound, and this is a technical term, less sick. Also, death.
2. STARTING YOUR DIESELHARP
- Pour diesel gas into the mounted fuel tank until you reach the line denoting the length of the song you will be playing. This ranges from “You Suffer” (one gallon) to Someone Mansplaining Camel’s Influence on Opeth In Between Sets at Wacken (35 gallons)
- The Dieselharp takes diesel fuel only. If you need an instrument fueled by another option, please consider the d.Marvin Guitars coal-powered Ecoharp or the more fuel-efficient acoustic guitar
- Your Dieselharp averages 6mpgs and can mow approximately three suburban lawns
- Pull the greenskeeper-strength pullcord on the side of your Dieselharp’s body
- The Dieselharp will begin saturating the wires inside the silver tubes with diesel fuel. This priming process may take up to five minutes depending on the ambient temperature of the abandoned warehouse or liberal arts college dorm room that you’re playing in. For your safety, each tube has been outfitted with authentic Volkswagen emission monitors
- Once enough diesel fuel has been carried to the bottom of the tubes, the pickups will start glowing bright red. This means the pickups have been charged and can begin sending audio signals through the fiberoptic bundle into the fiberglass aquarium resonator via the magic of science
WARNING: Holy shit, do not touch the Dieselharp.
- Touch the NEVERMELT™ strings to ensure they’ve reached the proper temperature. If you smell burning, proceed to the next step. If you are lightheaded, check the carbon monoxide alarm (sold separately)
- Step into the provided flame-retardant suit (out of stock) with optional reinforced crotch insulation (flash paper stuffing recall notice)
- Tighten the provided back brace (out of stock) that will restrict unnecessary movement that might cause paralysis
- Get ready to fuckin’ rock, man
Proposition 666 Disclosure:
- Fuel doesn’t flow through wires, it flows through lines or hoses.
- There’s no method cited for actually igniting the fuel, and diesel fuel is already difficult to light up without vaporizing it first.
- I don’t think this guy knows what a pickup actually does. Pickups are basically magnets wrapped in copper wire. Per Faraday’s Law they produce current based on physical disturbances (the vibration after being strummed) in the strings’ magnetic field. So, the idea of “charging” a pickup via heat is quite literally some hot garbage.
- Fiberoptic cable doesn’t carry analog audio signal. It transmits digital signal in the form of light flashing on and off. On being digital high (aka binary 1), off being digital low (aka binary 0). –Avinash Mittur
3. PREPARING THE RESONATOR
Before tearing down society with some serious black metal, please go through the painstaking and laborious process of preparing the resonator. The 75-gallon fiberglass aquarium resonator requires special attention and care.
- Fill the resonator with liquid until it reaches the line indicating your preferred low-end tone. There are five tone marks on the side of the resonator:
None More Murk
Profound Lore Contract
- You may use different liquid types for different mids and highs. Seawater makes for a traditionally hazy tone. Fresh water adds a crisp brightness. White Claw sounds like Deafheaven. Experiment for yourself!
WARNING: Do not experiment without adding droplets of blood to the resonator. For your sanity. Naturally.
4. WARMING UP THE RESONATOR
- Ensure that the analog fiberoptic bundle is plugged into Dieselharp and the resonator
- To test the connection, play the opening riff of Obituary’s “Chopped in Half”
- lol hell yeah
- An audio signal will be sent to the resonator, causing it to emit a series of warning glugs. Listen carefully to the glugs as this is part of a built-in Power-On Self-Test:
One glug – Systems are working correctly. You may begin playing your Dieselharp
Two glugs – Check to make sure that the pickups are properly charged by touching the Dieselharp
WARNING: Do NOT touch the Dies-ah, whatever. Just … just do it. I’m not your dad.
Three glugs – Oh … oh no. Shit. Shit shit shit. We may have Chernobyl’d
Four glugs – Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn
Five glugs – Systems are working correctly. You may begin playing your Dieselharp
- If you hear more than five glugs, you’re either playing a Tool song or someone is using the resonator as a beer bong. In either case, please leave the Burning Man playa immediately.
Proposition 666 Disclosure:
- They don’t even specify a way for the electrical signal from the pickups to turn into acoustic energy — basically, they’re missing a transducer and an amplifier would more than likely be needed too.
- How do they even transmit the sound “into” the aquarium? Do they stick a speaker inside the tank or some shit? And then mic up the speaker?
- This is the even funnier part — audio doesn’t sound murky underwater. In fact, you can actually hear things that are much farther away because sound travels much more quickly in water than it does in air, especially in an enclosed environment like a tank! –Avinash Mittur
5. PLAYING THE DIESELHARP
If you successfully completed the four previous steps and you haven’t slipped into crippling DXM addiction (key symptom: lying a lot, you’re possibly a YouTube influencer), you may begin playing the Dieselharp. In this respect, the Dieselharp is quite like a traditional guitar, just made of metal, set on fire, and hooked to a 75-gallon aquarium. Shred away, Yngwie!
NOTE: For your convenience, the demo button will play two to three repeating riffs from random “Freezing Moon” uploads tabbed out by middle schoolers until the Dieselharp runs out of fuel.
The tone is too insane!
Again, have you tried adding 3-5 droplets of blood to the resonator? Yes, people apparently believed this the first time around.
How do I add distortion?
Hold the Dieselharp against a wooden table.
I think I ported myself to hell!
Where we’re going, we don’t need guitars.
I accidentally swam in the resonator!
Over the next month, you will devolve into a semi-conscious primordial matter. Sucks.
The pickups won’t charge!
Have you tried turning the Dieselharp off and on again?
I think my Dieselharp is broken!
Steal an album from a shoegaze band and call it a day. –Ian Chainey
10. Blut Aus Nord – “Anthosmos”
Subgenre: black metal
In the grand annals of Blut, where does Hallucinogen fall? Ehhhh. For their 13th album, we were promised space shrooms, weedian delights, and per their latest bio, “freshly melodic territories of progressive clarity.” So it came as a small disappointment when the new album landed and it pretty much sounds like standard-issue Blut with slightly more human sounding drums. The riffs are plenty good, but we’ve heard them before, in slightly better formulations. Specifically, this feels like Memoria Vestuta b-sides, with echoes of the greatness of what I generally consider to be Blut aus Nord’s best albums by far … but this is significantly less focused than the real thing. Part of it is the mix: the vocals sit so far below everything else as to effectively vanish, and the tinkling hi-hat is mixed just high enough to sit on top of everything else, to the minor detriment of the riffs. Despite the trippy art promising “freshly melodic territories,” it comes off as Blut on autopilot. Nowhere in sight is the spirit of adventure that animates the 777 trilogy or the legit weird mid-period albums like MoRT and Odinist. To be fair, Hallucinogen does come as a necessarily melodic change of pace after the overwrought misfire that was Deus Salutis Meae. Despite the similarity in riffing style, it’s not quite the Memoria Vestuta throwback that it might have been due to the pristine-but-stiff live drums and trippy cover art, instead aligning more with the recent cosmic black metal trend. The danger here is that Blut is wading into increasingly crowded waters: bands like Mare Cognitum, Ecferus, and Spectral Lore are all doing variations on this style at a much higher level. Fortunately the guitars are the saving grace, as always, and they’re enough to justify the cost of admission even if this isn’t peak Blut. “Anthosmos” in particular locks in with a few sick riffs, but it’s the lilting, quiet melodies in the intro and outro that cut deepest. If we get a full-blown ambient record next, I won’t complain. [From Hallucinogen, out 10/11 via Debemur Morti Productions.] –Aaron Lariviere
9. Graveyard – “Hurled Unto Damnation”
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Subgenre: death metal
Man, brutal month. Too many sick bands; too much greatness swept aside for one reason or another. For one, there was a metric ton of sick doom that fell into my lap — including Esoteric (who briefly dropped the 30-minute opening track to their new double LP, then quickly removed it from the internet, but I heard it and it slays); Orodruin (first album in 16 years! excellent trad doom, featuring John Gallo on guitar); Profetus (phenomenal Finnish funeral doom with intensely gloomy organs ala Skepticism); and Slow (flat out crushing funeral doom from Belgium) — but somehow none were streaming in embeddable forms. And don’t get me started on death metal. Any other month I’d have been blurbing the hell out of Baest, Sorcery, Mortiferum, Vultur, and Runemagick — but here we are, and it’s Graveyard that wins out. The band name and artwork are pretty unassuming, but a quick spin explains all: riffs of death rain down like fresh blood, dark leads saturate the gravesoil like oily shadows, and the band pushes past expectations and into the beyond. The eight-minute “Hurled Unto Damnation” starts out as a paean to Bolt Thrower and Dismember, but the song quickly swells in length and ambition, switching between chiming mid-tempo verses and Stockholm-style blasts. About halfway through, the band takes a hard left into clean singing, and by the time they get there, they’ve actually earned the digression. It’s a fleeting moment where a voice breaks free from the clamor, sounding almost Emperor-like with a skewed vocal harmony; it comes on the back of a half-dozen perfect riffs, and manages to feel like the culmination of the song rather than a hideous detour. Fearless and dark, this might be one of the stealth best releases of the year. [From Hold Back the Dawn, out now via War Anthem Records.] –Aaron Lariviere
8. Olhava – “Loyalty”
Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Subgenre: post-black metal
Olhava paints with a pallet of greys and blues, producing gorgeous songs that channel both wandering woods in winter and surveying post-industrial decay. The opening minutes of reverberating, watery guitars ease the listener into a complicit state where Olhava can work its magic, and the astute ear will also hear in those strums the clarion echo of Alcest’s 2010 masterpiece Écailles de Lune. But the Neige comparison largely ends there, as Olhava carves its own path through thick walls of lush guitars, a mournful lead (accordion?) searing through the inundating mix like a faded guiding light. When “Loyalty” puts the pedal down, it channels depressive black metal to an extent, but the wistful yet resolute song sees more light adjacent to the darkness than those that focus solely on disappointment. “Loyalty” comprises one half of Olhava’s self-titled debut and seamlessly runs into “Hope,” a monumental track awash in glorious wonder that is just as worthy of your time as its predecessor. [From Olhava, out now via the band].] –Wyatt Marshall
7. Dysrhythmia – “Twin Stalkers”
Location: New York City, NY
Subgenre: prog metal
Here’s how guitarist Kevin Hufnagel described the lead stream from Dysrhythmia’s new album Terminal Threshold to Decibel: “I wrote a song for this record — ‘Twin Stalkers’ — to a drum machine beat I programmed that was initially inspired by two things: Freestyle dance music and the old shred metal band Racer X.” I kind of love the idea of Hufnagel, a guy who made a hauntingly beautiful record for baritone ukulele, humming “Diamond Girl” while channeling the salad days of Shrapnel Records. And yet, uh, there’s something there? Maybe not the Johnny O bit, but the latter comparison for sure. I’ll be damned if Terminal Threshold, the band’s eighth full-length, isn’t like some lost Paul Gilbert record where he went Voivod and hooked up with with the Combat Records Ultimate Revenge 2 package tour in 1988. But … you know … weirder. Jeff Eber’s drumming is typically nuts, like someone playing the fill button on multiple drum machines at the same time even though it’s still, somehow, a steady-ass groove. Up top, Hufnagel and Colin Marston trade spidery micro-chug riffs that entwine into rich dissonances. I mean, I guess? Writing about Terminal Threshold without much music knowhow is kind of like watching someone perform stand-up in another language: The playful subtext enjoyed by the fluent are beyond my grasp, but I can key into the recognizable beats of the form. To that end, there’s something Schuldinerian, something so elementally metal about these riffs that help them land no matter the level of difficulty. And land they do, again and again, throughout Terminal Threshold’s absurdly stacked 32 minutes. Jaw-dropping musicianship crammed into weaponized-hooky nuggets, as active-brain as instrumental metal can get. [From Terminal Threshold, out 10/4 via Translation Loss Records.] –Ian Chainey
6. Ghostwriter – “Devil”
Location: United States
Subgenre: sludge rock
Ghostwriter’s “Devil” is a bit unlike the majority of what makes it onto this column. It’s on the fringe of the metal spectrum, with big riffs and uneasy atmosphere bringing it into our world. But the lingering anxiety juxtaposed with the gorgeous chiming guitar and the big fuzzed out riffs and the wispy, haunted vocals had my mind thinking of mesas and big vistas under troubling technicolor desert skies. At first, the song sounded as if the Breeders had turned toward the dark side. It’s awesome, and all the work of Kalee Beals, who has a perfect sense for coaxing strange, striking imagery from lean, balanced compositions. I’ve found myself listening again and again to this track — eventually, it lulls you into its grip. [From Burial, out 11/21 via Tridroid Records.] –Wyatt Marshall
5. Takafumi Matsubara – “Path To Isolation”
Location: Kyoto, Japan
That Takafumi Matsubara is playing at all, let alone shredding hyperspeed grindcore, is insane. In 2014, it was announced that Longhena would be the Japanese guitarist’s last album with Gridlink and probably his last, period, a bow on a stellar career that also included boundary-pushing work in bands like Mortalized and Hayaino Daisuki. As Doug wrote for Invisible Oranges at the time, the reasons behind that decision were a bummer: an infection in Matsubara’s brain paralyzed the fingers on his left hand and parts of his throat. But, although the injury put Matsubara’s metal career in doubt, it apparently never diminished the dude’s intensity.
“It took seven months to pick up the guitar again,” Matsubara said last year to Indy Metal Vault. “Of course Karate was first. My left hand and foot did not work well. But I practiced with my right hand and foot. I have been taking a medicine called Bayaspirin. If I am bleeding, it takes a lot of time to stop bleeding due to the medicine. So my doctor never permitted karate. My karate is full contact style. I understand it [is] dangerous, lol. My friends called me crazy and my wife cried to see my practice, lol.”
As Matsubara tells it, that level of commitment has always been there because he needed it to grind. Recently, to the Metal Wanderlust: “When I was in Mortalized and took part in Gridlink, only a few bands focused on the possibility and technique of grindcore in Japan. I really wanted to put up with American and European high level bands. So I always said, ‘Practice, practice, practice. Faster, faster, faster.’ Many people in Japan couldn’t understand my thoughts at the time. But only Hee Chung could understand that. So we talked about the way to practice, the spirit and the passion for our own grindcore so often.”
Hee Chung, who drummed for Unholy Grave, passed away from cancer in 2015. You can hear him playing on “Selfish Vow,” the final track on the aptly titled Strange, Beautiful and Fast, Matsubara’s new solo album. As the Bandcamp liner notes indicate, the album is partly a tribute to Chung and partly a love-letter to grindcore in general, the way an intense genre tends to build intense bonds among its few practitioners. To that end, Strange, Beautiful and Fast’s 17 songs are stacked with friends and well-wishers who came along for the ride. “I asked musicians who encouraged me to play with me,” Matsubara told Indy Metal Vault. “And I watched and listened to their playing again and again. The inspiration from their playing made me write riffs and songs.”
When jamming the batshit “Path to Isolation,” it’s pretty unbelievable that Matsubara doesn’t have any dexterity in his middle finger. The song is a torrent of quickly picked notes, a fretboard endurance test that measures three-and-a-half minutes, a blast back into a tech direction following the deliberately riffy explorations in his other comeback vehicle, Retortion Terror. It’s really something. Even before his injury, this would’ve been something. “A path to isolation/ To remain and decay/ Gazing back on all that we once had,” Maruta’s Mitchell Luna screams. But that Matsubara is doing the opposite. He’s still here, still grinding away: That’s something else. [From Strange, Beautiful and Fast, out now via the band.] –Ian Chainey
4. Midnight Odyssey – “Hidden In Tarturus”
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Subgenre: atmospheric black metal
Midnight Odyssey lays the deep space atmospherics on thick, relentlessly merging the extraterrestrial with the spectacular. On In Tartarean Chains, choral parts overlay big rig synths and alien frequency bleeps and bloops, and sweeping orchestrals give way to a hero-mode guitar solo; meanwhile Dis Pater, the singular force behind the project, intones menacingly from time to time, popping up alongside the sonic fireworks like some sort of space necromancer materializing through a wormhole to narrate a supernova. It’s as awesome as it is fantastical, though likely not for everyone — there’s a different kind of suspension of disbelief required here. Those keeping score may note that another of space black metal’s most renowned practitioners, Mesarthim, likewise hail from Australia. I can imagine, outside of the reach of a city’s light pollution, Australia must afford an incredible night sky. [From Biolume Part 1 – In Tartarean Chains, out 11/1 via I, Voidhanger.] –Wyatt Marshall
3. Obsequiae – “L’autrier M’en Aloie” and “Ceres In Emerald Streams”
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Subgenre: black metal
Timeless, ageless, deathless — over three albums and a decade of exploration, Obsequiae have found their way to the heart of something. It’s hard to put into words. There’s a particular sound and melodic motif lifted from countless forebears — the folkish leads of early In Flames, the dark ruminations of Hellenic black metal (think Triarchy-era Rotting Christ, with equal debts to Scandinavian black metal and Iron Maiden), or the burning glow of bands like Aeternus and Hades — but rendered down and clarified, distilled through intense pressure and focus into a singular sound made of golden leads and glistening melodies, firelight and woodland streams, broken stones, silent moss, resting bones and rusting steel, pastoral signifiers and medieval tonality transmuted into something my brain reads as pure feeling, but not one I can readily identify. The best I can come up with is the Portuguese word saudade, which is notoriously difficult to translate but beautifully described by the long-dead scholar Aubrey FitzGerald Bell as “a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness.” Or as F.D. Santos wrote, “it means ‘nostalgia for nostalgia,’ a meta-nostalgia, a longing oriented toward the longing itself.” That’s how I experience something like “Ceres in Emerald Streams,” the first single off Obsequiae’s third LP. A swarm of interlocking leads instantly evokes the unreal, an idealized past drawn from myth more than history — and I’m left with an intense sense of displaced longing, a sense of loss tied only to my own dwindling imagination. It’s a feeling worth chasing. [From The Palms of Sorrowed Kings, out 11/22 via 20 Buck Spin.] –Aaron Lariviere
2. Kostnatění – “Každé Zranění Předurčeno”
Location: United States
Subgenre: black metal
At first, Kostnatění’s unhinged black metal, loaded with raw guitars, frantic drums, and atonal fidgeting, seems like an unpredictable, awesome, and spiky mess. But that changes quickly — give it a minute and you’ll be locked into thrashy grooves that could whip up a frenzy. It’s a welcome quality. Having something to hook the ear to allows for “Každé zranění předurčeno” to nail multiple marks, reveling in dissonance while also ripping to the max. The inspiration for the project sheds some light on how this artful balance was struck. First, a bit about the band — Kostnatění, a one-man project from Dillon Lyons (according to Metal Archives), put out a prior demo on the now-closed underground label Fallen Empire, which will be no stranger to readers of this column. In the notes for the Bandcamp release, several Fallen Empire artists are credited or thanked: Jacob Buczarski of Mare Cognitum, who provided drum programming on the album that sounds so authentic that you think there were actual drums; Markov Sorova of Tchornobog, Aureole, and Slow; and Serpent Column. (He also thanks the label that was opened by the Fallen Empire team in the wake of Fallen Empire’s closure, Mystiskaos.) All three are at the pinnacle of complicated, interesting black metal in the United States. In an interview with Decibel, Lyons also points to the defunct tape label Rhinocervs, which was once at the forefront of releasing obscure, incredibly catchy lo-fi black metal, as well as the affiliated bands Odz Manouk and Tukaaria, as inspiration. These are not name-checks you come across often, and there’s a bit of each band referenced in Kostnatění’s hook-filled madness — it’s challenging technicality that accentuates, rather than obscures, an absolute rager. [From Hrůza zvítězí, out now via the band.] –Wyatt Marshall
1. Nile – “Long Shadows Of Dread”
Location: Greenville, SC
Subgenre: death metal
Every day is the same. I wake and shrug off the malaise of continued existence, open my laptop and load the Nuclear Blast promo page. Despite all the background noise, my life boils down to this single task: a fruitless hunt for the new Nile album, a quest to unearth the latest delights from the world’s most absurd metal band. As the page loads, I frantically scan for signs of ithyphallic death; finding none, I am resigned to another worthless day. (Side note: As I continually skim over the rest of the Nuclear Blast new releases, I’m left to wonder who in metaldom actually wants a new As I Lay Dying record.) The reason for my commitment is simple: Nile is arguably the best, and unquestionably the silliest, of the long-running death metal bands. No band blends this degree of blistering riffitude with such endlessly hilarious execution. Lyrics about Egyptian gods and esoteric burial rites are set to maximum impact Morbid Angel riffs and “exotic” Phrygian leads, lending an odd melodicism to hyper-technical modern death. Cannibal Corpse is probably more consistent from album to album, and they’re easier to explain to normal people, but Cannibal Corpse (1) can’t play this fast and (2) has never written a song about the magical benefits of mixing barley flour with foul canine excrement. No, there’s only one Nile, and serious fans have a lot riding on the new album, Vile Nilotic Rites — the first since second-guitarist and lead vocalist/scream-rapper Dallas Toler-Wade left for greener pastures. Fortunately, noted shred god and devoted Egyptologist Karl Sanders soldiers on with the help of new guy Brian Kingsland. We’ll withhold full judgement until the full album drops, but Nile stans can breathe easy for now: advance single “Long Shadows of Dread” is appropriately sick, and Nile sounds more or less undiminished by the lineup change. The production is punishingly thick, with a satisfying weight to the drums (not common for this style) and enough low end in the guitars to give the lurch sections some queasy momentum. Think Annihilation Of The Wicked levels of intensity with Ithyphallic-style stop-start, lurch and blast riffing. (If none of that means anything to you, congratulations, you’re normal.) The new singer doesn’t stray too far from Dallas’s core approach, but he sounds sufficiently brutal if slightly less distinctive. (No more scream rapping; Jesus wept.) I’ll take it. Nile lives. [From Vile Nilotic Rites, out 11/1 via Nuclear Blast.] –Aaron Lariviere
BONUS. Weeping Sores – “Scars Whispering Secret Tongues”
Location: New York City, NY
“Jagged new moon of remorse/ Roils riled mindflesh/ Glares down from a private sky.” Now you know what it’s like to write the column every month. So, yeah, here’s Doug on guitar, bass, and vox, channeling My Dying Bride, obviously. I think I’ve written this before but it’s super weird when your friend’s music is actually good, to the point where I kind of wish we could just slide this into the year-end list. But, alas, a b-b-b-bonus (*faint, sad air horns*) will have to do. Ethics, or something. And with that, let’s just get right down to it like we would any other good-ass record.
False Confession is the full-length debut of Weeping Sores, a talent-heavy NYC trio that also includes Stephen Schwegler (drums) and Gina Hendrika Eygenhuysen (violin) among the members. The shorthand for these six songs has been “Morbid Angel but Warning” so far, which is better than anything I can come up with. There is an Azagthothian fermented slime to Doug’s guitars that gets twisted and atomized by the infernal black-hole gravity of doom despondency. But it’s also hard to pin any of these songs down for long. There’s a lot of subtle style fuckery. For instance, though we’re talking a cross-pollination of death metal and doom here, Doug digs deep for gutturals in place of either the disaffected monotonous roooooooar of funeral doom or lachrymose ridiculousness of chart-flirting death/doom. That doesn’t seem like a big switch-up on paper, but it’s huge on record. He’s going to hate me for writing this, but instead of repelling listeners, the filthy vocals actually heighten the feels, humanizing the death metal churn, sounding like a broken person fighting fiercely against the creep of pitch-black darkness. In fact, all of the players chip in similar vibes on their respective instruments, giving this album real emotional depth. They do the work, wringing out emotion organically. Like, there’s legit stakes at play, not just some trend goth mopes telling you that the music is sad because they said it was sad. To wit, Schwegler’s expressive drumming. His patterns kick up all kinds of anxiety within me despite never failing to nail these riffs down. In much the same way, Eygenhuysen is a Swiss Army knife, complementing and contrasting, often at the same time. In the “The Leech Called Shame” it’s a sort of nostalgic melancholy, in “Valediction Prayer” a seasick dizziness that turns into a Pendereckian terror. And then there’s Doug’s riffs, shaved down to pure-grade catchy and yet still sound feral and untamable, a didn’t-know-I-needed-this therapeutic release punctuated with thunderbolts. It’s kind of like Caroline Harrison’s art, beautiful shades depicting something discomforting, something real as hell. [From False Confession, out now via I, Voidhanger.] –Ian Chainey