“Album Of The Day” is a Last Rites Facebook feature we started whose purpose is quite straight-forward: highlight one album per day and say a few words about it. Understanding that not everyone chooses to participate in the booking of faces, we thought it might be nice to toss in a feature that gathers the albums in a single piece on a weekly basis.
Here are the seven albums we picked for the week of November 4th — November 10rd.
Sunday, November 11th
Slough Feg – Hardworlder (2008)
As they’ve grown more world-weary, Slough Feg have slowly phased their sound from a rootsy bitch-slap into something slightly more leisurely and wise. Hardworlder’s compositions cruise with an airy stride. This is not to say that the band isn’t capable of overwhelming the listener with an unrivaled wash of force. Drawing power from many aspects and all decades of our beloved lifestyle while adorned with one of the most unique auras in all of music, this is the epitome of traditional metal. Hardworlder is packed with inventive, intuitive twin guitar interplay, an inherent American folk pulse, and an earthy tone that beams with sincerity and bleeds through its roots. Whether through Scalzi’s majestic lyrical reprisals, or via the triple-threat crotch-punt of “Hardworlder”, “The Spoils”, and “…Blues” (though not nearly as potent as Deadmen’s famous triptych), their signature traits tattoo themselves into the soul with an unmistakable flair. [Jordan Campbell]
Monday, November 12th
Hammers of Misfortune – The August Engine (2003)
Even awesome fretplay works better when it’s characterized and accented by distinctive sound and between the just-off-kilter tuning of the trademark twin guitars and the inimitable vocals of Mike Scalzi and Janis Tanaka. Even with obvious draws on some of the greats of heavy music, from Megadeth through Iron Maiden to Thin Lizzy, John Cobbett has assembled and augmented these pieces in such a way as to create an equally loyal and instantly recognizable sound, unique even among the band’s own recordings.
Riffs, rhythms and melodies return frequently during the record’s play, sometimes obviously and often in the form of some twisted mutation of one or the other, endowing The August Engine with an undeniably natural cohesiveness. Nowhere is this more evident than in Cobbett’s uncanny ability to match the mood of his music to his lyrics. Whether exquisitely gifted Lorraine Rath’s quiet contemplation of “Rainfall”, the white-hot sardonic disdain of “Insect”, or the bones-deep crippling pain of the album’s doom-drenched closer, “The Trial and the Grave”, every utterance, vocal and instrumental, is critical to the evocation of the underlying sentiment.
Finally, inspired compositions get a little bit of extra kick when they’re just a little bit weird. Hammers’ essence is so steeped in this notion that discussion of the band seems always to struggle for just one more synonym to explain them (quirky, bizarre). It’s a vain effort, because Hammers of Misfortune is of that exceedingly rare breed that can be accurately described only by its very name. And that, as the outward expression of its inner richness, is the indelible mark of this peerless record. [Lone Watie]
Tuesday, November 13th
Ludicra – The Tenant (2010)
One of my favorite things about this band is how prominent each member’s presence is on each tune. The musical pedigree behind the outfit is incredibly strong, and all that experience is put to great use here. Agalloch‘s Aesop Dekker strikes the perfect balance between drumming calmly as accompaniment and kicking directly to the throat when the momentum needs a push; Ross Sewage (Impaled, Exhumed, Ghoul, Phobia) gets ample spotlight to let his driving bass rhythm flutter, bruise and batter; and the duo guitar assault between Christie Cather and John Cobbet (Hammers of Misfortune, The Lord Weird Slough Feg) stir up enough addictive riff and melodic lead breakouts to satisfy even the most persnickety of extreme metal’s persnickets. All this musical goodness is wrapped beneath an absolutely caustic rasp from Shanaman that’s occasionally tempered by a cooling, celestial male/female clean vocal complement in the backdrop. [Captain]
Wednesday, November 14th
VHOL – Deeper Than Sky (2015)
There’s an energizing sense of urgency and a hell of a lot of aggression tacked to the overall design that kills any notion of outright giddiness, but the manner in which guitarist John Cobbett amplifies the hyper-charged invasion with his fiery brand of weedly-weedly lead work powers the entire trip directly into an electric fence with a truly massive grin. As an example, opener “The Desolate Damned” jumps from the gate with the kind of triumphant posturing that could make one feel as if saving a careening airplane from hurtling into the earth with nothing but your bare hands is possible, and the glowing “Red Chaos” is the most perfect modern interpretation of the bullet-driven Power & Pain-era of Whiplash these ears have heard in years. [Captain]
Thursday, November 15th
Yob – The Great Cessation (2009)
It’s those thundering, potent guitar riffs that collaborate with a brain-jarring rhythm section, which are then topped off by Mike Scheidt’s utterly inhumane vocalizations bringing forth a sound that’s even more expansive than ever, resulting in this nasty, bitter brew. Roars from the void, screams from the depths, with trademark warbling cleans that sound neither cleansing nor comforting are firmly intact and pushed to the breaking point of arguable album highlight “Breathing From The Shallows” a tune that shows YOB indulging a riveting mix of dynamics and oppressive riff heft. Yet as commanding as the first four songs are, the towering 20+ minute conclusion is the band’s crowning glory, that would be the signature monolithic title track to The Great Cessation, and what a monster it is. [Jim Brandon]
Friday, November 16th
Agalloch – Faustian Echoes (2012)
It’s only fitting that a band who has never once sacrificed an ounce of their integrity would write such a moving piece of music about the ultimate soul-seller. Perhaps Haughm was once tempted to cut Agalloch down into something more streamlined, and in his refusal was inspired to write this epic. Perhaps he just loves the legend. Whatever the source, his band sounds as alive and inspired here as ever, giving promise that Agalloch’s future may yet be even brighter than their hallowed past, all with a song that will likely never receive a wide release. [Zach Duvall]
Saturday, November 17th
Extremity – Coffin Birth (2018)
The songs themselves are uncomplicated, but not in the sense that the band can’t be complex so much as in the sense that the players refuse to get in each other’s way. Lermo and Martinez-Hoadley share guitaring duties, and they obviously love their craft as well as their influences. They play off each other perfectly, exactly as you would expect. Lermo’s bass playing is understated, but certainly up to task. And Dekker’s drumming has the perfect combination of shut-up-and-play and gee-look-at-me you want a death metal drummer to have.
“Where Evil Dwells” channels a Bolt Throwing riff and twists it around the time signature to give it a personal touch. “For Want of a Nail” is a Carcassian battleship circa Necroticism era, and it does it right. You cannot NOT bang your head to it. The jerky opening to “Like Father Like Son” gets and holds your face for an incoming punch to land square on your nose, and lets you sit there dwelling in the sting with a massively satisfying waltz-in-hell midsection. “Misbegotten” closes things out with two slices of cheese wrapped around massive, pure death joy. [Chris Sessions]
See you next week.