Hello again! Yes, I am back to updating my blog regularly, and talking about music again. I reckon instead of doing lots of single reviews, I might just do little lists like this from now on. But we shall see.
As you can see, I am on a real 70sesque vibe right now. Well, except for the Agalloch. I wouldn’t call them 70sesque – but I would call them awesome.
Orchid – Capricorn
Thanks to JypeK who introduced me to these San Francisco rockers. Holy shit. If you love Black Sabbath, you can hear their undeniable atmosphere in this album, leeching out of the riffs and vocals like a
The Sabbath worship here is overt, from the band’s name (“Orchid” is one hell of a song), to the Iommi-ispired riffs. And yes, there could be an arguement that what would be the reason for listening to Capricorn when I’ve got the entire Sabbath catelogue on iTunes? Why? Because it’s catchy as hell and if sounding a bit too much like Sabbath is a sin, then baby, hell is gonna be beautiful. The production is dark and sulphuric, the tone fuzzy and thunderously heavy, equal parts funereal and psychedelic. Capricorn is saved from being “just another Sabbath ripoff” by exceptional songwriting, giving us equal parts catchy hooks and doomish riffs. Basically, if you’ve ever wished you could hear a new 70-78 era Sabbath record, you’re going to like this album.
The Devil’s Blood – The Time of No Time Evermore
I am aware that this is the debut album from Dutch occult-rockers The Devil’s Blood, and that as I bear a passing resemblance to a music blogger, I should probably be focusing on their recent works. Well, this is the album I’m currently enjoying, so screw that. The Devil’s Blood have a full-on 70s occult vibe – I’m guessing influenced by bands like Coven, but edgier and rockier – and are basically my new favourite thing since miniature malteasers bunnies (I don’t really go in for sliced bread). To me, if you’re going to do 70s occult rock revival, do it like this – put a smokin’ hot vocalist with a voice of doom at the helm, back her up with classic licks and rolling, rocking good tunes, and bash out a sacred rumble on the drums, and you’re on a winner. I’ve been listening to this while doing the finishing touches on my novel, and I would like to think you can ‘read’ a bit of their tongue-in-cheek, dredged-in-darkness, rollicking good tunes in the margins. Dark, original and inspiring, I love this album.
Blood Ceremony – The Eldritch Dark
A little bit of Coven, a little bit of Black Sabbath, and a whole lot of Jethro Tull and witchcraft – that’s Canada’s Blood Ceremony. This is another of those retro, “occult rock” or “psychedelic metal” albums that are apparently all the rage right now, (not a bad thing at all if music like this is getting attention again), that sounds as though it were recorded 40 years ago.
What you’ve got here is some blues-laden psychedelic instrumentation coming from the guitars, bass and drums, and you add to that Alia O’Brien, vocals and misc. While I’m not so fussed on O’Brien’s vocals, they do grow on you after awhile. She’s a little bit Grace Slick, a little bit Suzie Q. But it’s the atmosphere she adds with organs and flute that really lift this album. Her flute has a distinct Ian Anderson influence, but the way it’s used in the songs gives it a bit of a harder edge. I love the opening track, “Witchwood”, in particular – it sounds like Jethro Tull & Sabbath having a jam. Other standout tracks are “Drawing Down the Moon”, for a bit of the psychodelic side, and “The Eldritch Dark”, which has more of that Sabbath vibe.
Earthless – From the Ages
When I’m writing (which I do now full-time: yay!) I find it hard to listen to music. Mainly, that’s because I’m writing words, and the vocalist is singing or growling words, and I find that a bit distracting. Either their words start leaking into my words (We empower business owners to REIGN IN BLOOD”) or I start singing along with the copy that’s floating through my head – neither of which produces an ideal result.
So when a good instrumental album passes my way, I’m always intrigued. San Diego’s Earthless crank out their first studio album in more than 5 years (yikes) of groovy, grunty psychodelic rock. There’s only four songs, but one goes on for 30-minutes, so there’s a tremendous sense of value. It’s weird for me to say this, but what I love most about this album is the drumming – the whole album feels to me like one funky jam session, moving from hynotic trance to full-on bonbast in an instant. Amidst the Lynyrdesque guitar and bass melodies, you don’t even notice the lack of vocals. A solid, enjoyable album.
Agalloch – The Mantle
Ever since I heard that Agalloch will be releasing a new album, The Serpent and the Sphere, in May this year, I’ve been thrashing the older stuff. And this album, The Mantle, which is on my epic list of the best records of all time (I am seriously writing the list right now – 101 albums. It’s a real effort trying to choose), is still my favourite.
The Mantle isn’t really a headbanging album. It’s a bit more introspective, a bit more alluring. A little less “hit you over the head with a shovel”. A little more, “Byronesque”. Now I’m just making words up. The music is intoxicating – it washes over you, sweeps you away, carries you along for the entire hour+ journey through darkness and despair and hope and sadness. The genre is hard to define – post rock, post metal, neo pagan, folk, black metal – but it seems immaterial when stacked against the music, which is, quite simply, beautiful.
What are you thrashing right now? Are you a fan / not a fan of any of these albums? I want to know. Sound off in the comments.