Sometimes, a shadow hangs heavy over a record; a spirit, haunting every note, whispering in your ear, taking hold of your thoughts. Often, this is a bad thing; a solid enough record rendered less enjoyable because it makes you think of another, better band. And, for sure, the shade of Opeth looms large over The Wandering Daughter, the new album from prog-death band Piah Mater. But rather than taking anything away from the album, the comparison helps make clear just what an achievement The Wandering Daughter is, as this is a style of music many have attempted, but few have done so well, and this can stand right up to the best of those Swedish titans.
I’m not sure exactly what happened, but it barely seems that long ago that High on Fire were first unleashing their highly effective brand on sludge-laden, riff-heavy doom metal upon the world. Yet somehow, it’s twenty years since the band first formed. Not that you’d necessarily know it from listening to Electric Messiah. Album number eight from the Matt Pike-led trio is a monster of Godzilla-sized riffs, drums so crushing that could shatter buildings, and vocals as powerful and charismatic as they come; so, all is it should be, then. And yet, there’s an almost progressive edge to some of these songs that, somehow, sits comfortably alongside High on Fire’s riff-fueled fury.
Five days, five… well, actually four records and one song (but what a song!), this week took in grinding powerviolence; atmospheric folk/black metal; forward-thinking, technical black/death metal; and the return of heavy metal legends. Enjoy!
Normally if we talk about a band blending hardcore and metal, it’s likely that the term “crossover” will come to mind, and with it, thoughts of bands like Suicidal Tendencies of Power Trip. But there’s more than one way to combine the two genres, with Canavar on their self-titled debut combining moments of Slayer-influenced thrash with hardcore that sits between Sick of it All-style muscle and youth crew melodic sensibilities. It’s a bright, energetic sound, and though it might be a rough around the edges, Canavar is an album that’s a hell of a lot of fun to listen to.
One of the real tests of instrumental music is its ability to convey narrative. Stripped of lyrics, and the natural focal point of a vocalist, the importance of the music actually putting across something concrete and captivating either comes to the fore; or, in the case of ambient music, is all-but disregarded. With Ceremony in the Stillness, the latest album from A-Sun Amissa, that challenge is not only embraced, but met in superb style. The combination of doom-drone influenced auras, post-rock soundscapes, and haunting dark ambience is loaded with emotion, and moves with a sense of story-telling that is too rare in instrumental music. Most records of this style hint at the idea of having a running theme; but on Ceremony in the Stillness, that sense of narrative is impossible to ignore.
It’s incredible to think that it’s almost 30 years since Master first unleashed their self-titled debut album; and since then, the death metal veterans have barely put a foot wrong. They’ve never gone chasing trends, or caring about what is fashionable. Instead, they’re focused solely on doing what they want to do, releasing album after album of old-school death metal. It leaves them in an enviable position now, with latest album Vindictive Miscreant doing exactly what you’d want a Master album in 2018 to do. It’s an album filled with solid tunes, crushing riffs, and a brutal sense of energy. It’s also that most difficult of things to review – an album that does nothing wrong, but sticks so closely to the blueprint of what Master are that critically assessing it is all-but impossible.