Monday, August 15, 2011

The Ruins of Beverast - Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite (2009)

The Ruins of Beverast - Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite (2009, Ván Records)

The Ruins of Beverast are the best black metal project you've been totally neglecting to listen to. You probably downloaded it a while back and it got caught in the deluge of bands you already listen to, and all the other bands you promised a friend from the internet you would check out (but never had any intention to do so.)

I won't bore you by telling you that this record is different (even from TROB's other records) - chances are if you've scoured internet forums you've heard that all too many times about shit you just couldn't care less about. Instead, set aside some time, put on some headphones and jump in blind to Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite.

TROB is the one-man project of Alexander von Meilenwald, known for his drumming in German black metal band Nagelfar and some live drumming for German war metal outfit Truppensturm. Though unlike the two bands mnentioned above, you won't see this project live.

The songs are long, drawn-out, and ooze a sort of occult madness that's hard to describe outside of nightmares. Meilenwald blends his black metal with slow passages which immediately bring diSEMBOWELMENT to mind - creeping and pulsing along through vast cosmic oceans of blackened death. TROB layer chants over ritual drums and layers of creeping rhythm interrupted by epic refrains reminiscent (again) of diSEMBOWELMENT. The effect is not unlike that of a Cronenberg film - images of bodies and machines warped into terrible forms, grinding into shapes unseen. Opened graves, cryptic writings beyond the plane of life, begging themselves into our world in the oriental horrors of tombraiders.

Okay, that might have sounded pretentious, but if I can manage to amuse or confuse you enough, you'll be forced to listen to this record to flesh out these paragraphs for yourself.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Florida From the Other End

This week, a friend of mine came to visit our fine lower-intestine-shaped-state, and we showed him a pretty good time. This of course comes as a total surprise to the denzians of our little city affectionately known as a family fun spot - provided your family isn't Caylee Anthony's - or as we affectionately call it: Whorelando. A lot of people here complain - a lot - about how there is nothing to do. But there are things to do, and we did them all over the course of a week - all in service of one hell of a vacation.

We made a semi-annual trip to Gatorland, a forgotten redneck-gem in the middle Florida's tourist-trap wilderness. Watch out-of-staters squirm not at the sight of alligators, but at the possibility of kneeling down in the sand to sit on a hog-tied reptile for a souvenir photo. Sure there are more put-on Florida cracker personas than you can capture in camera phone memories, but who else do you really want to watch wrestle an alligator? Certainly not your grandmothers (even though they all probably live here.) You can pet some goats while you're at it - touch more goat heads than anywhere else short of a Morbosidad show. One even ate a map. And by A map I mean MY map. Joke's on him, I wasn't going to eat that map anyway.

We went to a few used book stores and picked through 40,000 copies of Dan Brown doorstops, pop-politics, romance novels for waspy Winter Park housewives, and what must amount to Oprah's entire book club - only to be wonderfully and occasionally interrupted by some genuinely good finds and conspiracy fiction.

Then to Orlando's record stores including:

* Vinyl Ritchie's Wiggly World of Records, the blink-and-you'll-miss-it local favorite and home of Florida's Dying (who just released Yussuf Jerusalem's newest effort - more on that soon...)
* Park Ave CDs: where I resisted a Clan of Xymox LP, desperately clinging to some hope I'll find another way to win street cred with goth girls without breaking my tiny bank account or buying a pvc wardrobe.
* Rock n' Roll Heaven: where admidst the petchouli haze I balked at the price of new wave singles, desperately scoured tape sections for bargains, and pined over a Witchfinder General picture disk so expensive it could buy me a month's worth of food and then some.

Final night: show time - Toxic Holocaust. A few familiar faces, but moreso a crowd so young and unfamiliar you wonder where these kids are at the other shows in Florida that play to nearly empty rooms. There may have been chaperones and I swear one kid must have been there from the make-a-wish foundation - a possibility I considered until I saw him stagediving. Joel Grind and Toxic Holocaust killed it as always and Holy Grail are still my favorite speed metal revival band band with a guitarist resembling John Redcorn. Oh and it was Joel Grind's birthday, how about that.

Orlando's some fun even if I am a jaded asshole, and it takes an outsider to see that. Go out, have fun. You don't have to be in Florida forever, but you are most likely here for a while. Time to buck up, leave your nerdcaves and enjoy things.

Oh, and if there's a chance anyone reading this is in Chicago or Los Angeles, Florida's own Maruta are playing two Scion matinée shows with Gridlink and Phobia this weekend, which you would be an absolute dickhead to miss. Go out and support some good guys, listen to the new record, and buy some swag if you dig it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Loss - Despond (2011)

Loss - Despond (2011, Profound Lore Records)

America has never been a hotbed for funeral doom. Chalk it up as one of the things Europe just seems to do better. For those uninitiated, funeral doom fits somewhere between death/doom and depressive black metal, with lower vocals reminiscent of the former, and atmospheric flourishes of the latter. Not exactly groovy or headbangable, unless your idea of headbanging is the kind that follows a swandive from a four-story building.

But back to the matter at hand. American doom tyrants Loss, from the unlikely haunts of Nashville, Tennessee, have certainly carved themselves a nice little spot in the underground releasing splits with German occultists Necros Christos (including a pair of excellent Goatlord covers), and funeral doom legends Worship. Earlier this year Loss dropped their first full-length Despond on Profound Lore and it's not a stretch for me to call it one of my favorites of this year. I can say with more than a hint of irony that Despond gives you all the happiness a doom fan could ever want - from the low and slow vocals to the lumbering dual guitar harmonies, deep bass, and sepulchral drumming. With feel good hits like Cut Up, Depressed, and Alone, Loss weigh in with all the motivation you'll ever need to never feel motivation again. As far as the genre goes this is par for the course, but you knew that already. Despond plays with cleaner tones and cleaner vocals and while the experiment pays off, the band is still at their best when they're at their slowest. It all comes down to creating the best possible soundtrack to the last important decision most of you will ever make. Check them out here before you end it.