Michael Nelson

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Watch Rolo Tomassi Play A Towering “Contretemps” At Their Biggest-Ever Show

Rolo Tomassi closed out 2018 with a string of big moments. They did their second-ever US tour -- comprising 12 dates on the West Coast…
Michael Nelson | December 10, 2018 - 12:00 pm

The Armed – “Heavily Lined” Video

The Armed's most recent album, Only Love, came out almost seven months ago, at the end of April 2018. Six weeks later, we ranked it…
Michael Nelson | November 15, 2018 - 11:46 am

Envy – “Dawn And Gaze” & “Marginalized Thread”

If you listen to heavy music circa now, you know Envy. Even if you've never actually listened to Envy, you've heard them. The Japanese post-hardcore…
Michael Nelson | November 2, 2018 - 11:41 am

The Menzingers – “The Freaks” Video

I wrote about the Menzingers' last album, After The Party, for Stereogum's rundown of The 50 Best Albums Of 2017 So Far. Which was last…
Michael Nelson | October 23, 2018 - 12:38 pm

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Drug Church – “Unlicensed Hall Monitor” Video

Every time I hear the name Drug Church, I can't help but associate it with J Church: an incredible Bay Area punk band that came…
Michael Nelson | October 17, 2018 - 11:19 am

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Stream Slow Crush’s New Album Aurora

Over the last few years, I've written at length about heavy bands transitioning away, slightly, from what's typically defined as "heavy music" and toward something…
Michael Nelson | September 24, 2018 - 11:09 am

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The Crying Of Lot 55: The Unsolved Mysteries And Alternate Realities Of Andrew W.K.

Let's start now. Or as close to now as can be defined in this conversation, between the time and place I am in as I…
Michael Nelson | September 21, 2018 - 2:08 pm

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Andrew W.K. – “You’re Not Alone” Video

In March, Andrew W.K. released his new album, You’re Not Alone, and today, he releases a video for the album’s title track. That is why…
Michael Nelson | September 4, 2018 - 12:11 pm

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Counterparts – “Selfishly I Sink”

You don't need to be a skate nerd to know Nyjah Huston, but if you don't know Nyjah Huston, it's probably pretty safe to assume…
Michael Nelson | August 23, 2018 - 11:15 am

Dödsrit – “Aura”

Twenty years from now, purveyors of heavy music will talk about Sweden's Christoffer Öster in tones currently reserved for folks like Chuck Schuldiner and Quorthon.
Michael Nelson | August 17, 2018 - 2:11 pm

Drug Church – “Avoidarama” Video

You guys know the Hold Steady song "Stay Positive"? I love that song so much, and there's this one verse that always gets me so…
Michael Nelson | August 3, 2018 - 1:15 pm

Counterparts – “Monument” Video

I'm back in the office now, but I'd been in Cape Cod for the last six days prior to this one, and during that time…
Michael Nelson | July 25, 2018 - 1:31 pm

Code Orange – “The Hunt” (Feat. Corey Taylor) & “3 Knives”

Last year, the skull-smashing Pittsburgh-based hardcore-sludge unit Code Orange leveled up with their third LP, Forever. It was also the band's first release on Roadrunner,…
Michael Nelson | June 21, 2018 - 11:51 am

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Stream Modern Rituals The Light That Leaks In

The little British indie Holy Roar Records is on a pretty incredible roll right now. Already this year, the label gave us Rolo Tomassi's Time
Michael Nelson | June 19, 2018 - 10:45 am

Thou – “The Changeling Prince”

The Louisiana blackened-sludge doom-droners Thou are flooding the market in 2018, making their already-labyrinthine canon harder to follow than the motherfucking Marvel Universe. They opened…
Michael Nelson | May 31, 2018 - 10:53 am

Comments from Michael Nelson

November releases sometimes fall thru the cracks? I can't speak for my colleagues, but for me personally that wasn't a qualitative exclusion, just an issue of general bandwidth. I was never a huge Daughters fan so I slept on the rollout, then read some stuff around the release date that made me think I should check it anyway, and then got swamped with other stuff before submitting my ballot. Point being, I've been meaning to go back to that Daughters record and now you've reminded me to do so. Thanks!
+5 |
December 4, 2018 on The 50 Best Albums Of 2018
While we're here ... I linked it in my mini-list above but want to sufficiently hype that Colours Of The Mind compilation/four-way split LP, too. It's just outstanding front to back, but also, it really illustrates where this style is going, how crazy-deep it goes right now, and how fucking IMPOSSIBLE it is for any one band to stay on top for very long. I'd never heard of any of these bands before, I still don't know a damn thing about them, and now I'm invested in all of them. Just press play on any/all these vids, if you don't wanna click out to Bandcamp. (After you've listened, plz buy it on Bandcamp). I don't even know which one is my favorite, but Ghâsh is probably the most similar to Deafheaven. (Marunata remind me of Amesoeurs, and A Light In The Dark sound like ... the Notwist? Idk, you tell me.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6iAUM9k4lQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZf7t0mHLMI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqBq-27rRds
+4 |
December 4, 2018 on The 50 Best Albums Of 2018
You're scraping at one of the main reasons why that Rolo Tomassi record was my AOTY running away, and maybe it's also part of what you "don't get" about them (yet)? So this is what I mean: Thou made five records in five different styles. Rolo made ONE album in five (500?) different styles. Rolo didn't come out like, "HEY THERE FANS AND CURIOUS ONLOOKERS! We know that you know that we (Rolo Tomassi), as humans and artists, contain multitudes. We listen to and want to create lots of different types of music! So what does that mean for YOU? Well it means we're gonna do an ambient record, a dreampop/shoegaze record, a prog/fusion record, a post-rock record, AND OF COURSE a record that sounds like Converge-core! Plz to enjoy!" Instead, they had the audacity/confidence/ability to make a record boldly and dramatically informed by ALL those influences (and others) as well as their own quite estimable back catalog. And (to my ear) it sounds truly fucking amazing and exciting and engaging and new. I loved the Armed record for similar reasons. On the other hand, this is also partly why I never really connected with the Panopticon double-LP. Why attempt to quarantine or compartmentalize the different shades and nuances of your own artistic identity? It felt a little defensive to me, and a little too safe, and actually even a little too clever, like those bands were trying to incorporate disparate sounds and explore a multiplicity of meaningful influences but dodge the metal-purist fan backlash that would have followed if they'd made big-statement albums that ACTUALLY incorporated disparate sounds and explored multiplicities of meaningful influences. They just felt a little formulaic to me, and maybe even sorta cynical. (That said, I love Thou and Panopticon, and I don't think of either one as formulaic or cynical in the slightest, and I'm almost definitely misinterpreting their intent or projecting my own issues on to their work or whatever. My apologies!)
+7 |
December 4, 2018 on The 50 Best Albums Of 2018
Unreqvited might actually be my least favorite of the five albums I listed above (I think those are ranked in the order I had them on my ballot). It's still fucking great obviously. The first question I asked myself when I heard the new Deafheaven was, "is it better than the new Harakiri For The Sky?" And I could never get away from the feeling that it wasn't. (YMMV) No shame in that! It was fucking HARD for ANYBODY to make a better album than Harakiri did. That said, the Møl album, to me, is a revelation, and it's the most exciting thing happening in that "space" right now. I had a blurb written for it, which we wound up not using, but I'll share it here: Møl – Jord (Holy Roar) "Blackgaze": a nascent-ish hybrid microgenre splintered off from a popular niche sub-subgenre (atmospheric black metal) of a wildly codified subgenre (black metal) of a parent genre (heavy metal) that sounds absolutely nothing like "blackgaze." Backlash-ready assholes everywhere assumed the "blackgaze" deluge was imminent way back in 2014, after Deafheaven's Sunbather became a cause célèbre among Twitter dudes with strong opinions on Agalloch. It took a while, though, for the new breed to arrive. And lo, here they are. Møl's Jord is at the head of a hot pack. It's an album of pure blackgaze that doesn't waste a sonic second pandering to traditionalists or pretending to belong in an art installation. As such, it's better: the best bits, no bullshit. Maintenant, le déluge. Man, motherfucking finally.
+14 |
December 4, 2018 on The 50 Best Albums Of 2018
Dudes, I got nothing but love for Deafheaven, but I was drowned in great blackgaze-style stuff this year, and I threw all my year-end points to other SIMILAR albums that I liked more (which didn't make the 50 Best, perhaps making the absence of Deafheaven feel more prominent than it would otherwise). If you want receipts: I assigned points to ALL the following albums, all of which came out in 2018, the same year as OCHL. Listen to all of them! While you might ultimately disagree with my appraisal, you'll at least get a better idea of where I'm coming from. https://moeldk.bandcamp.com/album/jord-2 https://artofpropaganda.bandcamp.com/album/arson https://morteminence.bandcamp.com/album/i-iii-v https://pestproductions.bandcamp.com/album/colours-of-the-mind https://unreqvited.bandcamp.com/album/mosaic-i-lamour-et-lardeur Also, while not a "blackgaze" album, that Rolo Tomassi LP really left everything else in its shadow, for me anyway. And after I heard "Contretemps," it was hard for me to hear anything else in this style and judge it favorably. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9PQI6ztN7w
+23 |
December 4, 2018 on The 50 Best Albums Of 2018
Tim, you know I love that album more than anybody AND I gave it a bunch of points on my ballot ... and even I don't think its absence here is "unbelievable."
+16 |
December 4, 2018 on The 50 Best Albums Of 2018
Truthfully this comment might as well have been addressed to you directly, because this shit is 100% your steez.
+4 |
November 20, 2018 on Album Of The Week: Unreqvited Mosaic I: L’Amour Et L’Ardeur
Also anybody with a taste for Euro arena melodeath of the mid-period In Flames variety has gotta spin this Parasite Inc. album. It ain't gonna score me any "cool" points (it might actually cost me whatever "cool" points I've still got) but I don't care. Robot-style vocal effect on the bridge? Yes. A drum sound so compressed that it makes a Fall Out Boy radio edit sound like an Albini record? Yes. A song earnestly titled "Headfuck Rollercoaster"? Obviously, yes. Yes! I don't care. I've listened to this song a thousand times this year and I LOVE IT. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zD9ByRvK8YI
+4 |
November 20, 2018 on Album Of The Week: Unreqvited Mosaic I: L’Amour Et L’Ardeur
Not sure if this thing is making any lists or getting any love, but as of this moment, the best metal-qua-metal album I've heard this year is Rebel Wizard's Voluptuous Worship Of Rapture And Response. There's a WAY over-the-top quality that maybe makes it seem like a goof (e.g., the title of the song I'm sharing here), but this is a billion-percent legit. I can't believe HOW FUCKING HARD this shit goes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IEiy6WEW_4
+5 |
November 20, 2018 on Album Of The Week: Unreqvited Mosaic I: L’Amour Et L’Ardeur
I think the cover art for the album they put out in April is even more beautiful tbh -- altho I think this is the superior of the two records. That said, we're talking marginal differences here, I love 'em both. https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a0245703733_10.jpg
+10 |
November 20, 2018 on Album Of The Week: Unreqvited Mosaic I: L’Amour Et L’Ardeur
The lineup reshuffling is very tough to follow. I knew Tetsuya had left, I didn't know till two days ago that he'd returned (six months ago) and that two OTHER members had left. Making it more complicated, if I'm not mistaken, Tetsuya was initially replaced by the frontman from Heaven In Her Arms, and that guy is apparently still in Envy playing drums? I think? It's confusing. Assuming I write about the full-length in 2019, I'll have it sorted by then.
+2 |
November 3, 2018 on Envy – “Dawn And Gaze” & “Marginalized Thread”
I said EXACTLY this to Anna at Temporary Residence (Envy's US label) when she sent me the album yesterday. Got an email from her two hours ago:
So turns out — the artwork was by Chris from Pg99, who also did the PMFS cover. That explains it!
+6 |
November 2, 2018 on Envy – “Dawn And Gaze” & “Marginalized Thread”
Apologies to Rylo Walks, but Ice-T actually did this version of "Institutionalized" a few years ago with Body Count and it's so fucking great, I'm not sure Kozelek is up to that standard. I can't stress how good this is. "I JUST WANNA KILL SOME MOTHERFUCKERS ON XBOX!!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9jXnZS3ouU
+2 |
November 1, 2018 on Stream Sun Kil Moon’s New Album This Is My Dinner
I love the new Behemoth, and fwiw, if you've never seen them, you're in for a treat. They put on one of the best shows in metal. I've seen them a bunch of times, and thus far my only complaint has been how goddamn packed it is every single time. Not to be missed, I promise.
+2 |
November 1, 2018 on The Black Market: The Month In Metal – October 2018
There's a black metal band called "HOTH" and I kinda recall they started out making Star Wars-themed music, as their name would imply. The latest HOTH album, though, comes with this bio: HOTH hails from the icy blackness of the void seeking to envelop this world in an unending permafrost by bringing forth musical compositions that are captivating, powerful, and haunting. This pivot is totally understandable and even laudable. Elder started out making Conan-themed music, and I'm pretty happy that they evolved into the Elder that we know today. But HOTH ... like, they "hail from the icy blackness of the void" but they still use the same logo as before, which is VERY OBVIOUSLY drawn in the exact shape of Darth Vader's TIE fighter. https://www.metal-archives.com/images/3/5/4/0/3540357307_logo.jpg https://lumiere-a.akamaihd.net/v1/images/vaders-tie-fighter_8bcb92e1.jpeg
+6 |
October 23, 2018 on “…Baby One More Time” Turns 20
Needless to say, these names are still better, more creative, scarier, cooler, and more powerful than those of basically every black metal band, for whom "Darth Insanius" would represent an impossibly high water mark.
+7 |
October 23, 2018 on “…Baby One More Time” Turns 20
Thing is, as I recall (and Ryan Leas can fact-check me on this), there's a Lucas-created canon character called "Darth Insidious" -- an embarrassingly terrible name in its own right -- so "Darth Insanius" isn't just dumb, it's also a gormless act of self-plagiarism that seems to assume the Star Wars audience to be even lazier and less engaged than Lucas himself. And yet somehow, "Darth Insanius" has an almost Dickensian ring when compared with the alternative: DARTH ICKY (?!?)
+7 |
October 23, 2018 on “…Baby One More Time” Turns 20
If you're looking for evidence of George Lucas' shameful and truly holistic ineptitude as a writer, this is both edifying and delightful: https://twitter.com/viperwave/statuses/807005499614859264
+9 |
October 23, 2018 on “…Baby One More Time” Turns 20
Oh I agree. At its best, Lucas' Star Wars was a visual spectacle on par with Kurosawa. All of its narrative profundity was borrowed from religious parables, although Lucas was just tracing the outlines of these ancient archetypes to the extent they served his needs, almost always sacrificing their humanity, which has otherwise been with us for millennia and provides the basis for much greater art than Star Wars. Lucas was a brutally unskilled and lazy writer. But I had totally forgotten about my Luke-as-Bodhidharma idea till I saw your comment, and you gave me an excuse to publish it here, in the comments of Julia's Britney Spears story -- which I loved, incidentally. I have devoted many non-ironic hours to this subject, and you won't be surprised to learn I think it's worthy of serious treatment, as long as the writer approaches it seriously. (As Julia did.)
+9 |
October 23, 2018 on “…Baby One More Time” Turns 20