Confession time: I'm writing this post while listening to the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. I re-watched that biopic about Brian Wilson the other day, Love and Mercy. A great movie, but mostly I was just struck by the music. The music that seems simple but is actually deeper than then abyss is, I often think, the very best kind. Having said that, let's talk about some super complex music. But before we do so: check out the great new interview we did with Inter Arma that was published this week about their wonderful Sky Burial. Also follow us (FacebookInstagramSpotify, Patreon), podcast us (YouTubeSpotifyApple), and check out our amazing compilation albums, all for the sake of maintaining my raging ego.

1. Fed Ash – "everythingallthetime," from Diurnal Traumas (Grindcore/Noise – Astralands). It somehow slipped under my radar that one of the most stunning, abrasive, earth-splitting new bands in the universe released a new album earlier this year. So, shame on me and all that, but holy shit, the joy! I encountered Fed Ash through their in-your-face split with Landfill they released last year, and it was just so many of the things I love in music. It was emotional, confrontational, and loud. This new release is even more abrasive, cranking up the noise aspect and unleashing some pretty hellish fury elsewhere, dotted by moments of sludge-like atmosphere. Doesn't get more vibrant or more scary than this. FFO: Chepang, Internal Rot, Thin.

2. Teratolith – "Two," from Eclipse (Black Metal – Brucia Records). Nope, no grindcore here, just the silent sound of liquid lava funneling its path into your cerebral cortex. Imagine having drums that are percise, laser-beam drums, the kind you would find on, dunno, tech death or grindcore, at least in terms of feel or produciton. Now layer dissonant, ambient atmosphere over that, and then some Attila-ish creepy vocals, and smash all those together and you get this wondrous, disturbing song. After mentioning another great release from Brucia last week (i.e. Derhead) I dare say this small label has fast become a "listen upon receipt of email" type of label for me. Interesting, quality, forward-thinking stuff. And this here is proof. FFO: The Ruins of Beverast, Urfaust, Blut aus Nord.

3. Ninth Realm – "All Hail Treachery," from All Hail Treachery (Thrash Metal – Independent). One would not characterize this fine publication as "thrash friendly," this despite the fact that thrash means quite a bit to me. Maybe it's because so much of it feels derivative that I don't find myself attracted to it these days. This, however, is pure fucking magic. And not only because of the buzzsaw riffage, the quasi-crossover/hardcore vibe, and the amazing production but because it's, ah, great. Catchy without being dumb, heavy without being redundant, and just furiously great. I am a Ninth Realm fan now, sign me up. FFO: Power Trip, Judiciary, Fuming Mouth.

4. Proscription – "Voiceless Calling," from Conduit (Death Metal – Dark Descent Records). There's nothing in life that's more terrifying than one-word death metal bands releasing one-word album titles. I mean, of course, with the exception of how terrifyingly intense this first single from Proscription's debut is. And while I'm half-worried about this whole "conduit" thing (from where? to whom?) this is just as good a death metal song as you can write. The atmosphere and production are impeccable in that old-school-Deicide kind of way, the performances are chilling, everything just sits so well in that mix. Perfect. Very much looking forward for the rest to come out. FFO: Deicide, Taphos, Lantern.

5. Krallice – "Feed on the Blood of Rats," from Mass Cathexis (Black/Death Metal – Independent). I'm not going to act like a new album from one of my favorite metal bands ever isn't a big deal, it's a very big deal. What makes the return of these masters of mind fuckery even more joyous is that they are going, in their convoluted way, for the motherfucking jugular with this release. The riffs are loaded and bottom happy, the drums sound as alive and on-edge as they have in a long time, the vocals pluging behind the mix is an amazing development, and the mix as a whole, or should I say the production, is almost Artificial Brain-esque in its beauteous and gross aggression. This is Krallice being aggressive, desperate and, dare I say, pissed. I never thought I'd live to see the day where the monolith of cerebral riffage will crack and reveal and Ozymandias level of wreckage, but here we are and for that reason only this has to be one of the best releases of the year and a welcomed addition to an already suspiciously perfect catalogue. For further reading, here's my interview with them conducted sometime last year. FFO: Gorguts, Artificial Brain, Imperial Triumphant.

6. Imperial Triumphant – "Excelsior," from Alphaville (Death/Prog – Century Media Records). I have a weird relationship with Imperial Triumphant, ranging from complete adoration, to suspicious, to loving Abyssal Gods more than I do Vile Luxury (which I guess makes me a freak), to having to deal, for the first time in their case, with an album of theirs dropping that everyone will be talking about. And I HATE talking about albums that everyone is, for the simple reason that it prevents me from having an open mind. So I resisted this album, and then it resisted me. And we fought it out some, and then I heard it all the way through some, and I think I'm sold. It's weird because it is almost as if they took the "you won't like listening to this" aspect of Abyssal Gods and combined it with the "these are actual songs!" aspect of Vile Luxury, making for a very strange hybrid that's both, somehow, listenable and difficult at the same time. But when you let the album run its course, and allow the mood, shall we say, overtake you, then you start making sense of things. And gems like this song just shine throught the haze. This might be their best yet. For further reading, here's my interview with them about Abyssal Gods. FFO: Gorguts, Krallice, Deathspell Omega.

Album Review: IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT Alphaville

7. Höstblod – "Allt vi bär på," from Dikter om döden (Black Metal/Folk – Le Narthécophore/ Winter Sky Records / Fólkvangr Records / Red Nebula). I was entirely oblivious of this Swedish one-man project until I started seeing this cover flood my feed with what seemed like an exceptional amount of positive words and love for its creator. That's not something you see a lot, black metal and love, and so I became curious. I didn't turn to the new track from the upcoming album but instead went first and listened to the previous full length, 2018's Mörkrets intåg and what I experienced could be described as that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where the Nazis open the Ark of the Covenant and their faces melt only what emanates from the box is, again, somehow, love. Love of music, love of life, love of family, these simmered out of the music without understanding one word. It's a unique, emotionally engaging, and moving masterpiece. And so, equipped with my new appreciation, I approached this song below and already felt like being embraced by and old (albeit somewhat sad) friend. Sometimes music overtakes you with immensity. Höstblod overtakes you with every single decision he makes, whether chord changes, cymbals, vocal style, they're all deceptively simple and absolutely brilliant. Must listen, easily. FFO: Enisum, Vukari, Afsky.

8. SUMAC – "The Iron Chair," from May You Be Held (Experimental/Sludge – Thrill Jokey Records). What an asshole of a song. Pokes at you with weird sounds, threatens you with violence, unleashes some unbearable chaos on you, submits you to its will, tortures you, throws some instruments around, and then it nails you on the head with a hammer and leaves you to die while you are submerged in your own feces. Not cool, dudes, not cool at all. So, yeah, it's great. FFO: The understanding that life is both love and pain.

9. The Microphones – "Microphones in 2020," from Microphones in 2020 (Folk/Eternal Heartbreak – P.W. Elverum & Sun). Phil Elverum, the most black metal indie singer-songwriter ever, released a new Microphones "album" (really a 44-minute song). The Microphones were a pretty big band for me back in the day, and later on his own story and twisted and melancholy involvement in grief and metal made me respect him that much more. Music and pain have an old and profound relationship, and he has just become one of those artists that embody that just that much more fiercely, by moving from his identity as "The Microphones" to his later major project "Mount Eerie." So, in listening to this dirge-like investigation of pain traveling back to meet its source and returning with art, consider the act of returning to a life that had been severed by loss, and what that life means, the different manner in which it flickers and breaths. Or just listen. And read this great interview he gave to Jon Rosenthal at BrooklynVegan. This may be the most moving musical statement made not just this year but in a very long time, from the incredible cover, to the music, to the lyrics, to everything. Here's a quote from the lyrics:

The roaring river carves on, laughing at my efforts
while the idea of something called “Mount Eerie” engulfed me and time refuses to stop.

Many many years later I heard “Freezing Moon” by Mayhem and these words jumped out:

“the cemetery lights up again,” “eternity opens”
and I say “nothing stays the same, no one knows anything”. Someone else lives in the house I used to live in and soon it will be torn down or burn and who would even want to live in a prolonged stagnation? I am older now and I no longer feel the same way that I did even five seconds ago. 



ONE – Chrome Ghost, the amazing doom/prog outfit from Sacramento (also featured on our comp) will be releasing an EP of Nirvana covers. "All Apologies" is available right now.

TWO – Speaking of amazing musicians and speaking of covers, an incredible cast of artists came together to jam some Sabbath together.

THREE – Not sure how I got to this, but I went down a bit of a "incredible hardcore and mathcore bands playing Chicago's legendary Fireside Bowl in the late 90s" rabbit hole. Check out these two modest yet awesome YouTube channels (One and two).

FOUR – One day my beautiful babies, if they're luck to be healthy enough, will be my 86-year-old grandmother, looking lovingly at her great grandchildren. Life never ceases to be pure sci-fi.

FIVE – For some insanely ambitious and surprisingly accomplished black/doom, please make sure to check out Chilean project Soga. I have a feeling this amazing entity is just beginning.

ONE LAST THING, PROMISE: No, I didn't forget about the new Steven Von Till album, I just need to pick up the pieces of my heart.

ONE LAST THING, PRETTY PROMISE, SWEAR: If you managed to survive The Microphones and Steven Von Till there's a new album of unreleased Jason Molina material out as well. I might have to return to this next week.