Brett Stevens granted a Honoris Causa title of Doctor of Heavy Metal

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There are a few people out there who get it. These individuals, able to see beneath appearance to the structure of reality far more than the average, understand not just what things are but how and why they are what they are. They do this not for the fame or money, since those come to people who weaken meaning in order to benefit appearance that rewards pleasant oblivion, but instead because understanding our world is a fundamental desire that advances us as a species. These are the people who get burned by the angry crowd for “witchcraft” for having discovered new ideas that threaten the order of society as it is, making people look foolish for relying on the old when a better way is available.

Dr. Martin Jacobsen is one of those who looks beneath the surface and discovers, like heavy metal, the difficult questions of reality that humans prefer to bury under waves of social control, pleasant illusion and comfortingly bourgeois products. In the truest spirit of both education and outsider music, he explores that areas where society has said non plus ultra (“go no further”) because they reveal fundamental contradictions in many of the assumptions upon which our civilization relies for its sense of well-being and that it is pointed in the right direction. Unsettling, dark, morbid, nihilistic, feral, atavistic, self-negating and amoral, these spaces confront us with what most of us view as the problem to which society is a solution, namely all that disturbs us about the conditions of life itself. Society offers us salvation from threats and deliverance from want, but also grants us on an existential level a sense of purpose that is more important than the conditions of life which make us doubt ourselves and our purpose. Society sells comfort on a mental level as well as a physical.

Thus it is a great honor to be presented with Doctor of Heavy Metal certification by Dr. Jacobsen, whom I consider one of the highest authorities in the field capable of doing so. As a recognized scholar of metal in this mode, I am able to continue my writing and journey of discovery into this rich genre of music which has rejected both The Establishment and the counter-culture in its pursuit of truth at a lower level than the social categories, feelings and desires with which most of us paper over the disturbing aspects of life. There is not much recognition for those of us who attempt to unearth the real beneath the surreal and yet profitable, but being recognized by others whose work we esteem in this field may be the best of all. Thank you, Dr. Jacobsen, and my wall will wear this with pride, as will my metal soul.

N.B. signature digitally removed for security reasons.

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House of Atreus’ The Spear and the Ichor that Follows Out Now

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The Spear and the Ichor That Follows from Minneapolis Death Metallers House of Atreus is out now on Dark Descent Records.
 
Stream the album: https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-spear-and-the-ichor-that-follows
 
The band’s debut full-length features eight tracks of battle-ready audio full of mid-paced riff glory, melodic death flourishes and lyrics inspired by ancient Greek tragedies and tales of war. The Spear and the Ichor That Follows is available on CD, vinyl and digital formats. Order it all HERE
 
Side A
1. Trenches of Fortune
2. Messenger of a Shaken Host
3. Throne of Chariots
4. Oresteia – The Unforgotten Scorns
Side B
5. Heir to the Crown of Sodom
6. Beasts of Antiquity
7. Veiled in Dignities of Wrath
8. The River Black

 

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Broken Cross, Debut LP By Hardcore/Punk Soloist

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The creator of Broken Cross will release Through Light To Night through his own Apocalyptic Visions cult on May 8th. Digital and vinyl preorders and packages are available HERE.

BROKEN CROSSThrough Light To Night LP delivers ten anthems for the end-of-times, the unhinged vibe of the album’s gutter punk approach driven with merciless divebomb guitar leads, d-beat manglings and blackened punk might, all fueled by a razor-lined vocal tirade. Enshrouded in a gloomy fog of eerie effects and samples, steeping the entire concoction in a horror/sci-fi Cannibal Holocaust vibe, the perilous back-alley sensation one endures with Through Light To Night is as unholy and unnerving as it is crucially compelling. The cover art and layout for the album were handled by Dwid Hellion (Integrity, Vermapyre, Holy Terror Records) who has been responsible for the majority of the band’s releases. In an early track premiere, Vice Magazine’s music channel Noisey issued in part, “The band worships at the altar of G.I.S.M., Integrity, Gehenna, Zouo, and more, bringing a super lo-fi aesthetic with overtones of industrial and noise to those hateful and nihilistic sounds. This is primitive stuff, but the songwriting shines through, as do the very Integrity dive-bombs.” Seekers of ill-omened, depraved extreme music far from the polished shores of the mainstream should pay heed to the calling of Through Light To Night.

You can stream Broken Cross’ new release on their Soundcloud channel.

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Into Oblivion / Disinterred Split – Oblivion’s Oceans (2013)

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Being a split, it is necessary to judge both bands here separately and the release itself as a whole. Both bands play death metal, but while the former is provisioned with a modern war-doom arsenal, the latter seem at least partially influenced by Scandinavian old-school black/death tremolo riffing. The production itself is much more clear and powerful in Into Oblivion’s songs.

Into Oblivion play death metal in a combination of modern voices including saturated style of war metal and the heavy, doom-oriented riffing of certain sludge bands. The more impetuous of these is reminiscent of Teitanblood or Heresiarch, except it is difficult to distinguish an original personality present in Into Oblivion’s music. Individually, some sections are engaging, even mesmerizing and  beautiful (the beginning of By this Marvel Overthrown) but as a whole, the result is far from outstanding. Construction of the songs could be deemed lazy and/or cheap, advancing through alternations of saturated and doom textures by inserting riffs that are played until their momentum runs out and its balancing counterpart is inserted, and not according to a direction or necessity of expression in the music.

Disinterred also play with this alternation of fast and slow sections, except that Disinterred is better able to maintain a train of thought and expand it. The songs in this latter half seem more mature, the converging styles in it being more difficult to disentangle, a more solid product arising from a clear vision making use of its influences. One can also observe the use of saturation, but instead of a modern war metal, we have a disguised and worked Scandinavian spell at work. A strong advice for Disinterred would be to get rid of the triggered drums and do away with the cheap double-bass-drum-saturated  drum fills that sound like Godflesh Apocalypse hiding its lack of ideas. This second half of the split brings a visible shape into focus, a haunting shadow reflecting the maddened character of the music. Still, it is only a vague shadow which Disinterred have not finished summoning just yet.

At this point, Oblivion’s Oceans shows us what is mostly a soulless collection of voices. Despite this, there is some promise in the music. Personally, this writer would not place too much hope on the nature of these bands changing or growing much as the nature of proper death metal bands itself seems to be monolithic. Any attempt to change them often results in their destruction and watering down. Few manage achieving the required reincarnation, often coming to life again as a simpler life form.

 

https://youtu.be/GhUND-naAwI

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Neurosis Confirms Performance At Heavy Montréal This August

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Today, Neurosis confirms the band’s invitation to perform at this year’s upcoming installment of the massive Heavy Montréal Festival, in Montréal, Quebec.

Neurosis is one of the latest acts to be confirmed for Heavy Montréal, having just been announced alongside the likes of The Devin Townsend Project, Sanctuary, Obscura, Cattle Decapitation, Revocation and more, joining the roster of artists already confirmed to play at this year’s event, including Slipnot, Faith No More, Korn, Lamb Of God, Iggy Pop, NOFX, Mastodon, Meshuggah, Testament, Nuclear Assault and countless others. The open air Heavy Montréal gala will overthrow Quebec’s largest metropolis on August 7th – 9th, and Neurosis will take the stage on the opening night, Friday, August 7th.

Prior to their Heavy Montréal debut, Neurosis will make their return to the brutalizing Maryland Deathfest in Baltimore on Memorial Day weekend. Running from May 21st through 24th, the band’s Neurot Recordings kin Yob and Ufomammut will perform the opening night of the event, while Neurosis is set to play the final evening, headlining the Edison Lot A stage, following performances from Skepticism, Winter, Goatsnake and Tombs on the same stage.

Additional Neurosis live actions will be announced in the very near future.

Neurosis Tour Dates:

5/24/2015 Edison Lot – Baltimore Maryland @ Maryland Deathfest

Parc Jean Drapeau – Montréal, QC @ Heavy Montréal

 

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“Selling out” is as real as entropy

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“Nothing gold can stay,” Robert Frost famously wrote, referring to the tendency of all things in life to break down and become eroded versions of themselves. In addition to the obvious tendency of aging and death, we moderns have become familiar with the term “entropy” for the proliferation of possible options that then then renders choice almost impossible. Underneath all of this a more virulent tendency lurks, which is the human habit of destroying everything we encounter, including — especially — our own best creations.

In heavy metal we think of this through the decline of bands from excellent and striking to a version of what we already know is popular, like the steady unraveling of Metallica from the band that made Ride the Lightning to a country-fried version of Motley Crue or Led Zeppelin. We see it other places as well. For the last two decades, I have relied on a certain British company that makes teapots as a source of reliable gifts. People friggin’ love a quality teapot. But a few weeks ago, the company was sold, and the MBAs moved in and quickly figured out how to add a stylish handle to the teapots and make them of cheaper material and less of it, translating into fragile and less-effective teapots.

This parallels what happens to interesting movies from Highlander to The Bourne Identity which is that after an interesting premiere, the sequels emerge and they are of not only lower quality, but outright stupidity. The decision-making and leadership choices behind these movies are just of a radically lowered degree, such that if the first movie was a genius the followups have the abilities of a moron who works as a bureaucrat. For example, The Bourne Identity gave us a fast-paced and intricate but interesting script which maintained the emotion of a character lost in a world where he has no roots, but the sequel managed to not only hit every Hollywood cliche but present them in a series of improbable scenes which were clearly derived from better versions in the earlier film, all while creating the emotional flatline that is the result of cardboard characters and nonsensical motivations. We might even target Star Wars which, after an initial foray which mixed humor, sci-fi, religion and a classic quest narrative, dove into the edgy but pointless followup and then threw in the towel and headed for the gift shop and standard Hollywood dreck with the third.

It would be nice to be able to blame Hollywood, whether of the movie or music industry variety, but the grim truth is that this pattern shows up in more than teapots and speed metal. It appears anywhere humans attempt to organize themselves. The large tech companies who were visionaries and rebels a generation ago are now stodgy corporates, albeit with the appearance of being insightful and life-positive, whose products are designed to manipulate us to buy more of their high-margin offerings. Even the most necrotic of underground metal bands fall prey to this syndrome, but for miniscule amounts of money and fame, suggesting that the classic narrative of “selling out” — changing your sound to be more like Motley Crue or Led Zeppelin, both rock/metal hybrids that allow people to purchase edginess of metal within the familiar and non-threatening music of the herd, like jeans or Jack Daniels or other “extreme” products that in fact reflect extreme conformity — is incorrect and money and fame in itself do not explain the motivation for this choice.

Considering the nature of this problem as universal or nearly so, it makes sense to analyze it at a level lower than the reward itself, and instead to look at motivations. People are fundamentally social creatures; we are pack animals, allegedly at a higher level of evolution than the apes but retaining their most fundamental behaviors (and if you disagree, I’ll hurl a turd at you while beating on my chest and howling). We motivate each other with social guilt and shame, but that is only the stick; the carrot is that we offer inclusion to others who do things that please us, and create “heroes” out of those who do what many of us find appealing. This is the underlying mechanism of the sell-out, which is not so much profitable — since it exists as attempt without certainty of reward — as it is sociable.

When Metallica switch from “For Whom the Bell Tolls” to “Nothing Else Matters,” they are offering a simplified version of their edgy sound that more people can understand. This gives everyone the warm fuzzies, since it offers peace through pacification of others, and makes Metallica appear more altruistic and friendly. It also retains the surface appearance of extremity, which lets ordinary conformists play the charade of extraordinary (and possibly visionary) non-conformist without any risk to themselves, since what they are actually doing is buying a product which is just another flavor of the same ordinary rock everyone else litens to. Selling out is offering a product that is designed to please more people by giving to them what they already think they want, and by not challenging them, allows them to confirm their status as having valuable lives without raising the bar and forcing them to exceed their normal, self-interested and self-referential or narcissistic behavior. When you see something good go bad, it is almost always the result of this phenomenon, which consists of self-interested producers expanding their market by lowering the different-ness of their product, and in turn allowing the social group to feel pleasant illusions about its togetherness.

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Secrets of the Sky undrape video for Angel In Vines

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As Pathway, the impending new full-length from Oakland-based atmospheric doom-bringers, Secrets of the Sky, draws near, today the band offers up the stunning new visual accompaniment to fourth track Angel In Vines. The video was directed and edited by Andrew Nethery (Melvins, Kyuss Lives, Dead Meadow), creator of the band’s 2014 “Decline” clip, and starring Melissa May and Zack Warren.

Guitarist Clayton Bartholomew elaborates,

For this video, we went back to director Andrew Nethery, who also did the video for the song ‘Decline’ from our first record, To Sail Black Waters. He did a great job for that video and was an easy guy to work with. For the ‘Angel In Vines’ video, we let him run with his own vision. The song itself relates to the loss of innocence, and he found an interesting analogy to express this same sentiment, while keeping the video abstract and not just giving away the premise of the song. We like that he was able to avoid cliché and the imagery he was able to capture is a definite work of art on its own.

 

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Instrumental metal duo Tempel unveils new song Carvings in the Door

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Following their stunning debut album On The Steps of the Temple, the Arizona-based instrumental duo Tempel take their sound to the next level on their forthcoming sophomore effort “The Moon Lit Our Path”, due June 16 in North America, June 15 in the UK/EU and June 19 in Germany.

Recorded at guitarist Ryan Wenzel’s Phoenix-area Arrowhead Studio, “The Moon Lit Our Path” — which features intricate artwork by Lucas Ruggieri (Kylesa, Dragged Into Sunlight), as seen above — features five colossal tracks that mix progressive, black, death and post-metal into one mammoth sonic cocktail.

Today, Tempel is pleased to reveal the album’s opening track, the eight-minute composition Carvings in the Door. The song is now available as an “instant grat” download with digital pre-orders of the new album on iTunes and Bandcamp. Fans can also stream the track in its entirety on PureGrainAudio or directly below via YouTube.

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Absconditus – Kατάβασις (Katavasis)

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Being a casual listener, it is easy to miss black metal’s essence completely. It is easy to think that it is just some repetitive “atmospheric riffing”. What we forget is that verbal descriptions of things do not reflect reality in its entirety but are just placeholders for things we know. And for things we do not know, they just serve as attempts to describe aspects of the object in question. This is why, when it comes to detailed descriptions of feelings, we resort to poetic language, metaphor and example, a simple “sad” or “happy” is not enough to express the experience precisely.  This is also where the difficulty of expressing and discussing the success or failure of a music to convey something lies. Some critics resort to evaluating purely musical aspects in a technical way which lets them make solid judgements from the vantage point of tradition and taste. Taste itself lies in the middle-ground between what is considered objective and subjective, since it is a concept developed communally, not individually.

Absconditus take black metal’s most superficial description at face value and runs with it. Kατάβασις (Katavasis) is a collection of repetitive, atmosphere-inducing-oriented pieces that serve more as a background than as proper music. The tracks here all sound like introductions to something else. Simple repetition along with a little groovy improvisation on the drums and a melody here and a melody there carry this set of intros to the end. One gets the feeling that something is about to start and then each track ends. And then the album reaches an uneventful stop. It is as if Absconditus is just making a series of proposals of ideas that could become songs. Even if Absconditus would take its time more and develop actual songs, the way ideas were presented in Katavasis was cliche-oriented and crowd-pleasing, so that the result would still be average at best. This project/album needs to be restarted from scratch.

 

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Nethertale´s Abyssal Throne Out Now!

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Abyssal Throne is now in stores. On Monday, May 4th, Nethertale is releasing an average album, a supposed conceptual work of some appeal to mainstream metal fans in the vein of technical wanking death metal, which is accompanied by a soon to be released novel written by its own vocalist. A run-of-the-mill work of a band that will bring more of the same to please the crowds of metal posers. Available now in Tipo stores, Leyenda rock, Pentagram and Loita underground … Surrender to the Commercial Mainstream!

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