I was absolutely clobbered by work last week, and was simply too exhausted to attend the High On Fire show last Friday night (yeah, I know, lame). However, I managed to recharge enough for Sunday's Finntroll/ Moonsorrow/ Swallow The Sun show at the HOB Sunset Strip. A photo pass was arranged, and I wrote up a full review of the show. You can read my write up here. I refrained from adding to my t-shirt collection, though.
Special thanks goes out to Chad Bowar and Liz Brenner!
Swallow The Sun
Swallow The Sun
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Bands: Earth, Wolves In The Throne Room, Laura Goldstein
Venue: The Echoplex, Los Angeles, California.
Date: April 20th, 2010.
Here’s a quick look at the recent Earth/ WITTR show in Los Angeles from a few nights back. I wasn’t specifically assigned this show for any ‘zine that I write for, but I was still able to get a few photos and video. Opening the show was a short 20-minute set from cellist Laura Goldstein, a recent addition to Earth’s lineup.
As might be expected, Wolves In The Throne Room played a 50-minute set of songs from both Two Hunters and Black Cascade, honing their act into a well-oiled machine. Their stage was dressed up quite nicely with nature-themed tapestries, incense, smoke, and dim lighting. The Echoplex was already packed as they took the stage, and WITTR garnered huge applause at their conclusion.
Earth played a number of huge drones from Hibernaculum and The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull. My personal favorite, “The Driver,” was included as well as a new song entitled “Old Black.” Dylan Carlson mentioned that the song would probably be a part of Earth’s new album, due next winter. Laura Goldstein’s distorted cello fit in quite well. In all, a good show (I refrained from picking up yet another Earth or WITTR shirt, though).
As always, special thanks to Dave Brenner! She who shall not be denied enjoyed the show, which was her first foray to a metal concert…
Some recent reviews...
I really wanted to like this album (for obvious thematic reasons). I really did. I just couldn't get past the horrendous vocals, though. I even went so far as to prepare the photo below.
The Ocean Heliocentric
Trident World Destruction
I also reworked the following for publication at About.com...
Les Discrets Septembre Et Ses Dernières Pensées
Alcest Écailles de Lune
Sunday, April 18, 2010
The Finntroll/ Moonsorrow/ Swallow The Sun tour roars into West Hollywood on April 25th, and I've a photo pass to that show. I'll be doing a full report of the concert (to be published at About.com), along with taking and posting a slew of photos and video, but, to whet your appetite, Skull also saw the same show at the Bottom Lounge in Chicago a couple of nights ago! Here's his report...
Bands: Finntroll, Moonsorrow, Swallow The Sun, Something Beautiful
Date: April 16th, 2010
Venue: The Bottom Lounge, Chicago, Illinois
"I must have the greatest twin sister in the whole world. Mary is not only caring and supportive of me, but she knows what makes me tick. On holidays and birthdays, she doesn’t give me socks or gift cards to Pottery Barn, she researches the good metal tours coming up and sends me tickets! For my birthday this year, she got me tickets to the ethnic tour of the year with Finntroll headlining and Moonsorrow and Swallow the Sun as support. A better b-day gift simply couldn’t have been asked for.
I hit the road at 5:30 pm last night, and once I hit the highway, my car did not exceed 35 mph. Traffic was brutal. I arrived some time later, but still early for the show. As I walked up to the Bottom Lounge on Western, I noticed a long line of metalheads waiting outside to get in. Now, the great thing about being an old fart is that I was able to just walk past all of them, walk through the door, find an open bar stool, and order a beer. I also took the time to eat as they have some good grub at Bottom Lounge. The place was packed with Blackhawk fans waiting for the free bus to their first playoff game (editor: there's no way that they're going to win the Cup, as usual). I must have been the only person in there without a ‘Hawks jersey on. I probably stood out like a sore thumb wearing my Revocation shirt.
The doors opened to the band room at 8:00pm and the line of punters started to move in. I joined them just as local band Something Beautiful started up their set. A two man act, one on a six string bass, and the other on guitar and clean vocals, SB played a rather average set of doom-ish rock accompanied by a drum machine. It didn’t float my boat, but they did get a pretty favorable reaction from the half packed club when they finished.
I grabbed another beer during the changeover and got a good spot for Swallow The Sun. I really enjoyed their latest release, New Moon, and was anticipating a good set. They did not let me down. STS are melodic, but, if nothing else, they are very powerful and Mikko Kotamäki’s vocal range is simply incredible. The growing crowd showed great appreciation for their effort and a pit even erupted during “These Hours of Despair,” much to my amusement. They lost an amp during “The Giant,” but never missed a beat and pulled the song of wonderfully. While dealing with the issue, they decided to go ahead with “New Moon” with just one guitar. I could not have been more impressed with their ability to adapt and before the song was over they had their second guitarist up and running again. They wrapped up with “Swallow,” and a huge ovation came from the congregation.
In between sets, I stepped out for a smoke and waited at the bar for my friend Paul, whom I had offered my extra ticket to. His band Nekropsy had rehearsal that evening, so he was a bit late. After his arrival, we got back inside just as Moonsorrow were firing up.
Now, every once in a while, I see a band live that, even though I know that they’re good and have heard good things of their performance, actually seeing them just stupefies me and leaves my jaw dragging on the floor while I swoon in awe. The last time I had this reaction was while seeing Krallice open for WITTR about a year ago. Moonsorrow is just this kind of band! They took my breath away throughout their four-song set that lasted slightly over an hour. I was dumbfounded. I was completely amazed with them. The meat of their four-song set even included “Pimeä” from Verisakeet, which is one of the most moving albums in my entire library. I was completely transported to another world! The rank and file really participated with a pit and large circles of people holding each other arm in arm and dancing together. There was also a lot of fist pumping and clapping along. Yes, I said clapping along. Moonsorrow just killed and received a huge round of applause when they finished up.
After another brief set change, Finntroll revved up and completed Finland’s assault on Chicago. Finntroll is a heavier, rawer, and meaner style of folk metal than Moonsorrow and the crowd just went ballistic. A fierce pit continued throughout the whole set, causing me to wear more of my beer than I drank. The dancing continued, head walking began, and there was even some stage diving throughout their performance! I would have to go back to the slew of hardcore and crossover shows I attended back in the late ‘80s to remember the last time I saw stage diving! Finntroll obliterated the crowd with a hodgepodge of classics and recent cuts. The highlights for me were when they pulled out “Eliytres” and “Fiskarens Fiende” from Nattfodd, which is my favorite Finntroll release.
At one point, a member of the audience shouted out that it was his friend’s birthday. Vreth responded by wishing him a happy birthday and apologized that they had no cake to serve, but proposed that we eat some Christians instead! I lost track of time, but they played a very long and raucous set, and even did a couple of encores.
It was an incredible night of ethnic doom and folk metal that I won’t soon forget! There is no doubt that last night in Chicago, Finland came, saw, and kicked my ass!
A few of Skull's phone pics...
Swallow The Sun
The t-shirt haul...
Friday, April 16, 2010
OK, Reaper Ale, once again, makes a post like this too easy, but numerous brews from the label are readily available at Whole Foods, and I simply can't resist!
Here's a nice India Pale Ale called "Sleighor". Now, can you resist a name like that? At any rate, "the intense hop bitterness, flavor and aroma will dominate at first. To complement, the body has a complex blend of malt and alcohol flavors."
Not too shabby!
Recent reviews at About.com...
Unleashed As Yggdrasil Trembles
Svarti Loghin Drifting Through The Void
Lair Of The Minotaur Evil Power
Ragnarok Collectors of the King
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Triptykon Eparistera Daimones… and my memories…
(Century Media Records, Prowling Death Records)
Words fail me. Baroque, beautiful, gigantic in every sense of the word, from the ashes of Celtic Frost comes the debut full-length from Triptykon entitled Eparistera Daimones (an Aleister Crowley reference). Although he certainly does not know it, my listening relationship with the innovative genius of Tom G. Warrior dates back to 1984, and the release of the legendary EP, Apocalyptic Raids, by Hellhammer. Apocalyptic Raids, along with In The Sign of Evil by Sodom and the debut album from Bathory, burst into the collective consciousness of myself, and my circle of friends, at about the same time around 1984. The sublime birth of death and black metal, to some extent, occurred in the conflagration of this triumvirate of releases from the period, and my life was never the same again.
Although easily recognized as sloppy and poorly played, even by my 16 year old mind, the sheer audacity of Hellhammer’s music and the smashing of musical boundaries made an indelible impression upon my life. The subsequent demise of Hellhammer, and rebirth as Celtic Frost, furthered the legendary aspect of Tom G. Warrior’s music in my life experience with Morbid Tales, a repeatedly, and most deservedly so, heralded classic in every sense of the word.
1985 came. My friends and I in Chicago fantasized about driving to Montreal for the imminent debut appearance of Celtic Frost in North America at the World War III Festival. Also appearing on the bill of this fabled show were Voivod, Destruction, and Possessed. Alas, my attendance was not to be, however, due to a personal failure to follow through (OK, I was 17 years old, and driving from Chicago to Montreal was daunting).
At any rate, though, vindication arrived in the early months of 1986 with the arrival of the Celtic Frost/ Voivod show at the Cabaret Metro in Chicago. A monstrous show, I do clearly recall shaking Snake’s hand afterwards, as well as the songs “The Usurper” and “Jewel Throne” being performed by Celtic Frost in support of To Mega Therion.
Into The Pandemonium arrived. Tom G. Warrior cemented his reputation for explorations of the avant-garde. Besides H.R. Giger, Hieronymus Bosch entered metal’s pantheon of exalted artists. Although more miss than hit, and marred by a flat performance in support of Anthrax, of all bands, at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, Into The Pandemonium still won me over with excellence found in “Mesmerized,” “Babylon Fell,” and even appreciation in “I Won’t Dance” and “Mexican Radio.” During my time as a student in the Sonoran desert, “Caress Into Oblivion” took on meaning.
Debacle arrived in the form of the universally vilified Cold Lake with only a halfhearted attempt at redemption in Vanity/ Nemesis. However, the damage had been done, and the writing was on the wall. Tom G. Warrior’s disillusionment with the music business, and its crude exploitation of his art, was played out in Are You Morbid? as Celtic Frost fell apart. No more was heard from Celtic Frost besides the odd compilation/ fix up Parched With Thirst Am I And Dying.
After metal’s collective yawn of indifference towards Apollyon Sun, Celtic Frost is reborn and Monotheist drops with great weight. A stylized, almost Gothic assault, Monotheist took some time to be appreciated. A spot in Decibel’s Top 100 albums of the decade is much deserved amongst a veritable sea of pretenders to the throne. After more than 20 years, I finally had a chance to witness Celtic Frost once more at a tremendous show at the HOB Sunset Strip a couple of years back (Warrior performed with a horrendous flu, yet still carried the day).
Although the subsequent breakup of Celtic Frost was acrimonious and, apparently, final, I was oddly unconcerned as the events unfolded. My reasoning was thus: Monotheist is obviously an album meticulously put together with a great deal of thought. Warrior has matured as an artist, and put forth a serious album, elevating black metal to high art, as the best examples of the genre are able to attain. I knew that, as an artist, he would find a way to carry his vision forward.
And now, I finally get to the subject of this posting: a review of Eparistera Daimones. Part of my appreciation for this album comes from Warrior’s blog postings about the development of the album, and his personal muse of antagonism towards humanity’s reliance, and resultant inevitable downfall, upon organized religion. The themes of Triptykon are reinforced by Warrior’s prose, and photography, posted at Delineation II.
Musically, Eparistera Daimones is unbelievably dense and powerful. The huge sound of Monotheist is present once more, but with a bleaker tone. The individual songs draw from Warrior’s past work quite nicely, and weave together different elements into a cohesive arrangement.
The opening minute or so of “Goetia” harkens back to Hellhammer with twisted, howling distortion. The crushing guitar riffs of Morbid Tales are present throughout, but with a great deal of density. “Goetia” also opens the main riff with a patented “Uh!” and the main lyric begins with a plea.
Moaning vocalizations evocative of Into The Pandemonium are present in “Abyss Within My Soul,” a centerpiece song of tortured intensity and an absolutely titanic riff. Like “Goetia,” the song is of great length with subtle time changes. “In Shrouds Decayed,” featuring a quiet intro and vocals from guitarist V. Santura, Warrior, and clean vocals, as well, from Simone Vollenweider. The song segues into “Shrine,” a haunting track of dark ambience similar to “Danse Macabre.”
Crushing, up tempo songs entitled “A Thousand Lies” and “Descendant” occur prior to what is already considered to be the album’s most unusual track; that is, “Myopic Empire.” Featuring vocals from V. Santura that eerily evoke Layne Staley, of all vocalists, the song also features a quiet piano interlude and spoken word from Vollenweider.
The final two tracks of the album couldn’t be more different, yet strangely complement one another. “My Pain,” a nearly ambient track reminiscent of Vangelis, features very quiet keyboards, synthesizer, and hauntingly romantic vocals from Vollenweider. The song leads into the nearly 20 minute finale entitled “The Prolonging,” the song closest to funeral doom that Warrior has ever attempted. He masterfully succeeds as the song ebbs and flows, speeding up as the song proceeds, only to finish with a perfect melodic touch that is quite chilling.
Needless to say, I’m absolutely blown away by Eparistera Daimones. I must also put in a word regarding the very detailed liner notes from Warrior describing his muse for each song, as well as additional artwork detail from Giger’s cover painting (Vlad Tepes, 1978) and portraits from Vincent Castiglia.
I await a live performance of the album in its entirety…
Prowling Death Records
Century Media Records
Sunday, April 04, 2010
Bands: Immortal, Lightning Swords Of Death
Venue: The Avalon, Hollywood, California
Date: April 2, 2010
Norwegian black metal giants Immortal are only hitting a couple of cities in North America in support of their most recent full-length album, the monstrous All Shall Fall on Nuclear Blast Records. Luckily, one of those cities was Los Angeles and Immortal detonated smack in the middle of Hollywood, right at the intersection of Hollywood and Vine, at The Avalon on April 2nd.
Read a full review of the show here. Special thanks to Chad Bowar and Nuclear Blast!
The pics (please see the Slide feature on the sidebar for lots more)...
The t-shirt haul