Monday, February 14, 2011

aesahaettr - aesahaettr (2010)

Aesahaettr - The Sundering Blade of Bolvangar by speedglueandmusic_aw
Aesahaettr - The Fury of the Panserbjorn by speedglueandmusic_aw

Black metal comes in a lot of different flavors.  There's the raw, evil sound of early black metallers, all harshness and aggression.  Or the slower, more melancholy style pioneered by Burzum, furthered by Weakling, and propagated by about a million modern black metal bands.  There's industrial black metal, false & hard-rocking black metal, lo-fi & experimental black metal, shoegaze black metal ("depressive rock"), 8-bit black metal, wooden black metal, epic war black metal, folk black metal, noise black metal, orchestral black metal, etc etc etc ad infintum.  It can get overwhelming, and so its something of a relief that Aesahaettr, a new one man black metal project from Montreal, doesn't add anything new to this pantheon of black metal offshoots- in fact, this is almost exactly what I would call the textbook definition of modern black metal.  This is not a bad thing, because Aesahaettr do by-the-book black metal right.  Side A of this, Aesahaettr's self-titled demo cassette, features black metal in the driving, upbeat, riffing style, all fast picking and programmed drums.  I like the sound of drum machines and I like drum machines in black metal, so that was one thing that appealed off the bat.  But what I am truly a sucker for (and what I think is the primary thing that sets Aesahaettr apart from other like-minded bands) is hooky, empowering riffs, and Aesahaettr brings some real fist-pumping-head-banging moments on Side A.  I have to admit that I do feel somewhat conflicted about this, as black metal is meant to be dissonant, misanthropic, isolating, and basically the opposite of "catchy".  But I guess that's why I'll never have trve grim kvlt black metal cred, and instead will spend my time listening to music that claims to be evil, yet sounds like the sort of speed metal used to soundtrack a Mega Man game. Side B of this tape fulfills Aesahaettr's obligation to the other main style of modern black metal, the Wolves in the Throne Room back-to-nature epic that takes at least 15 minutes and requires strings and live recordings of the outdoors- and Aesahaettr succeed in pulling this off.  Basically, if you crave something new and different from contemporary black metal, look elsewhere.  But while this may be more of the same, its more of the same done really well and should appeal to fans of meat-and-potatoes black metal.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

video: C V L T S - "angel chromosome" (from C V L T S/Umberto Split 7" (2011))

L V S T, the self-released debut of Kansas' C V L T S, was an excellent assortment of simple yet engaging synthscapes.  I'd been looking forward to new music from these guys, and "Angel Chromosome" from their upcoming split with Umberto (who uh I know nothing about) makes for an excellent (though unfortunately brief) reminder of why this group stands out in an increasingly crowded field of bedroom keyboard kids.  Sounding retro without sounding stale, sounding epic without being overstuffed or pompous.... C V L T S definitely have a take on synthy drone that appeals to me.  Much more than, say, Night Satan.

Bonus: C V L T S Mixtape: featuring your favorite experimental electronic weirdos The Skaters, Mark McGuire, Stellar OM Source, Matrix Metals, etc... plus Jan Hammer, and Peter Gabriel(!).

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

track review: moon duo - "mazes" (from mazes (2011))

Moon Duo - Mazes by souterraintransmissions
One of my favorite San Francisco groups, Moon Duo, announced their newest release (and full-length debut) Mazes today.  Like the bizarrely warm weather we've been experiencing here, this news makes me excited for the end of winter and the beginning of long months of sun- Moon Duo's previous EP releases of mellow-yet-propulsive hazy psych were the perfect jamming soundtrack for last summer (Mazes comes out just before the sunny season, on April 18th).  The title track, released today as part of the announcement, promises that Mazes will mostly be the same Moon Duo we know and love.  It features the same motorik beat, the sustained keyboards, the rising and falling outer-space guitar that carries the music through the cosmos.... but in a more energized form than Moon Duo's previous releases.  The chords are a little brighter, a little more upbeat; the vocals are more clear, less hidden by reverb, than older Moon Duo tracks.  However, these slight differences do not fundamentally change the overall vibe- I think this bodes well for their debut.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

burzum - fallen (2011)

Burzum - Enhver Til Sitt by speedglueandmusic_aw
Burzum - Til Hel Og Tilbake Igjen by speedglueandmusic_aw

Proving that the Norwegian prison system works, Burzum has now released his second post-prison album, and has not yet been caught committing any hate crimes.  His first post-prison work, Belus, surprised me with its focus and intensity, and exceeded my low expectations by far (and ended up at the #1 spot on my best of 2010 metal albums list).  I had no idea he'd follow Belus up so quickly, but nevertheless I tentatively hoped Fallen would match the quality of it's predecessor.  It definitely succeeds in doing so- if you liked Belus then you will likely be happy with this.  It mostly follows the template set forth on Belus, but this time Varg spends a little more time crooning than before, and several of the songs feature a martial, mid-tempo near-motorik beat (as on "Enhver Til Sitt") that brings a hypnotic groove the record.  While most of the album follows a particular formula, "Til Hel Og Tilbake Igjen" ends the album on an odd and spacey note- definitely weird in a good way, but hopefully not an indication that Varg is itching to get relive his ambient days.  The biggest fault this album has is the thin production; I thought that Belus sounded thin but figured it might just be low-quality mp3s.  Fallen also has a pretty wispy sound, but I found that turning the bass up on my sound system and listening to this at a higher volume improved the experience.  Varg definitely seems to found a new sound that suits him well- if he keeps putting out albums of this quality, this period of his career may be regarded as highly as the Filosofem era.