The Listening Chaos – April 2016
Another month is in the books, which means that it’s time for another installment of The Listening Chaos. I’m a bit late with the column this month because it seemed like there were a ton of new releases to wade through in April. So without any further ado…
April’s Albums of the Month:
Cult of Luna/Julie Christmas – Mariner
I should probably preface this by saying that I’m not the biggest Cult of Luna fan, but that might just be because I’m not all that familiar with them. The only album of their I’ve spent any time with is Vertikal, which I had a hard time getting into; it was a little too cold for my tastes. Bringing Julie Christmas (ex-Made Out of Babies, ex-Battle of Mice) on board for this record, though, instantly fixed that issue for me. She’s in particularly strong voice on Mariner, and the melodicism she brings to the proceedings provided the ideal counterpoint for Cult of Luna’s take on post-metal—a track like ‘The Wreck of S.S. Needle’ is pretty much perfect. I’d be curious to hear what long-time Cult of Luna fans think of the record, though.
Goatess – Purgatory Under New Management
So is it just me, or is Purgatory Under New Management just about the best album title you’ve ever heard? Luckily, the music is just as good—hella riffy, stoner metal goodness. Reminds me a lot of the first Orchid record, which I loved.
Graves at Sea – The Curse That Is…
I was kind of meh on Graves at Sea’s contributions to their 2014 split with Sourvein, but this album—which is somehow their first full-length despite having been around for over a decade—is absolutely fantastic. The scuzzy, fuzzed-out riffs, the strangled vocals—the whole album sounds like a bad narcotic haze. I really want to see this band live.
Ihsahn – Arktis.
I really loved Ihsahn’s third solo record, 2010’s After, but he kind of lost me after that. It’s not that Eremita or Das Seelenbrechen were bad records, per se; they were just incredibly dense records that took a lot of effort to get into. That’s not even remotely the case with Arktis; in fact, I don’t know that Ihsahn has ever put out a record this accessible. It’s still proggy as all get-out, but it’s catchy in a way that one generally doesn’t expect from an Ihsahn record. Maybe it’s because he’s not working with Leprous as his backing band anymore? Whatever the reason, he sounds refreshed and focused on Arktis.
Child Bite – Negative Noise
I caught art-grinders Child Bite live about a year ago and really enjoyed them, but had a hard time getting into their records; there was a certain sameness to each record that made it difficult to remember any of the individual songs. They don’t have that problem on Negative Noise; their sonic palate has expanded (as well as their song lengths) to make this a much more varied and memorable disc than anything I’ve heard from them before. They still sound completely unhinged—particularly vocalist Shawn Knight, who rants and raves like a televangelist on meth—but there’s more of a method to their madness this time around, which makes me want to keep spinning this one.
Necrot – The Labyrinth
Not sure how accurate it is to list this as a new release, since it’s technically a compilation of several long out-of-print, cassette-only demos dating as far back as 2012, but I’m including it anyway since this is the first time the tracks have really been readily available. Necrot is a band where the name tells you everything you need to know; this is no-frills, old-school death metal, and it is done extremely well. Hopefully the attention the Oalkland-based trio is getting for this record will lead to some new music soon.
Plebian Grandstand – False Highs, True Lows
French black metal: need I really say more? If avant-black bands like Deathspell Omega are your jam, you’ll want to check this one out, post-haste.
Schammasch – Triangle
More avant-black metal, this time from Switzerland. I’ve been hearing about Schammasch for a few years now, but was kind of underwhelmed by their last record, 2014’s Contradiction. This record, though—which consists of three separate 33-minute long discs—is really good (if perhaps a touch long). I particularly like the third disc, which is mostly instrumental.
The Best of the Rest:
Abnormality – Mechanisms of Omniscience
Bossk – Aura Noir
The Howling Void – The Triumph of Ruin
Piss Vortex – Future Cancer
Rising – Oceans Into Their Graves