“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 January 20th — January 26th.
Sunday, January 20th
Virus – The Agent That Shapes The Desert (2011)
Virus has always been a rather slippery proposition. Three albums in, and although the intentional nuttiness of Carheart has largely faded in favor of a thoroughly lived-in sort of avant-garde metal, let it be known: this is a fucking weird album. This ought to be little surprise, though, given that Virus springs from some of the same minds that brought you the all-around brilliant what-the-shit?-ness of Ved Buens Ende. And yet, it’s precisely because Virus is that utter rarity in music—a completely original sound—that its music is endlessly fascinating and non-ostentatiously inventive. The Agent That Shapes The Desert will burrow its way deep into your body, miming your heartbeats, your circadian rhythms, the deep marathon of neurons. You will think it has left you, but then you will find it there again.
If you’ve yet to fall for the myriad charms of Virus, now’s as good a time as ever. Fans of Giant Squid, Arcturus, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Vulture Industries, and any other such dabblers on the dramatic edge of metal’s avant-garde will surely delight in unfolding this many-limbed creature’s secrets. Until then: Imagine steering a raft down a wide river. The current is swift and tireless, and yet, as you look behind you, you see that the earth is cracking and the river is being swallowed up and turned to a parched desert landscape just as soon as you’ve passed down each meter’s stream. Is the desert chasing you, or are you birthing it in your wake? Where are you when you are at the river’s end? What have you learned? [Dan Obstkrieg]
Monday, January 21st
Running Wild – Rogues En Vogue (2005)
Running Wild is one of the last of a dying breed—a band that keeps on chugging solely on the support of their fans. No big concert tours, no multi-page spreads in major magazines, no heavy rotation on “Headbanger’s Ball”—hell, nothing in America at all! Not even a record deal.
We start things off with “Draw the Line”, a mid-tempo number that is solid but perhaps not best fit to open an album. On the other hand, “Angel of Mercy” blows things apart with a nice little drum leading into their more signature thrash/boogie sound. OK, maybe “boogie” isn’t the best word for pirates—a thrash jig? Why not! Grab your bottle of rum and get down to it. [Dave Pirtle]
Tuesday, January 22nd
Anatomia – Cranial Obsession (2017)
What makes a record like Cranial Obsession so strange, apart from the fact that the vocals sound like a huge pile of rotting leaves recounting a particularly tough day, is the fact that the beginning of the trip is an entirely different encounter compared to the end. Mushroomed from the same mold, sure, but an encounter that feels like a full chase that ultimately leads to an early ticket to putrefaction in some horrid woods behind a busted-ass house.
Funereal grind? Is that what this is? No, not the fancy nu-grind you can plug into via some hidden XboX port, but the older, grimier, deathlier version that spawned giddy deformities like Impetigo, Repulsion and Rottrevore, particularly that first little abomination. Rotten grind for crumbled minds. Cranial Obsession‘s opening “Necrotic Incision,” for example, spends about 45 seconds being creepy before hitting you directly in the chops with a flailing fist, and the follow-up, “Fiend,” damn-near comes across like a blood-soaked b-side to World Downfall. [Captain]
Wednesday, January 23rd
Hammers of Misfortune – Fields/Church Of Broken Glass (2008)
Fields/Church of Broken Glass is a double album in the pre-compact-disc sense of the term, as the album’s 70 minutes would easily fit onto one CD. The decision to split it was undoubtedly made because the Fields and Church of Broken Glass sides each represent their own half of the complete concept. The former is a celebration of agrarian life, honoring the personal and societal toil required for harvest, while also warning of the coming industrial storm. The three-song suite of “Agriculture,” “Fields,” and “Motorcade” starts things off. Each brings its own style (the title track’s somber tone is especially nice), while the repetition of certain melodies ties the three together. Following are an additional three tracks that slowly shift the mood into a lament for the loss of the old way, best emphasized through the “to be continued” riff that rings in disc-closer “Too Soon.”
As you would wisely expect, the Church of Broken Glass half of the album is based on the polluted and twisted wastelands of the Industrial Revolution, and as such some of the music has a dark and bleak air to it. Nowhere is this truer than with the ten minute “Butchertown,” a track that is equal parts doom metal and The Wall-era Pink Floyd. Its sorrowful chorus is repeated many times as the music grows and shifts slowly around it, a technique employed elsewhere on the album as well. At the other end of the spectrum is the album-ending “Train,” an urgent rocker with riffs and rhythms perfectly designed for its title and lyrics. [Zach Duvall]
Thursday, January 24th
Boris & Ian Astbury – BXI (2010)
As one would expect, the brevity of the EP sees Boris foregoing the droning landscapes and experiments within the realms of noise that they have often diverted towards, instead favoring to don their rock-roll boots. The first two of the four songs on BXI could be considered the obvious results of the collaboration. “Teeth and Claws” is a subdued, vocal-centric alt rocker, pleasing to the ears and not entirely unlike what one would imagine Boris to sound like as a cover band specializing in The Cult and their late-80s ilk. “We Are The Witches” morphs the band into the fuzzy cousin of a Kyuss and Helmet love child, complete with one of their signature Neil Young-in-a-metal-band guitar solos, all the while letting Astbury float his croon unabashedly over the riffage.
And make no mistake; the star of this show is Ian. He may not have had a gold record in 20 years, but he is still a master at work, showing inflections and range that rival his classic albums with The Cult. This all makes the third track a mite curious. It is an Astbury-less cover of his band’s classic “Rain,” featuring Wata’s gentle vocal delivery. The quality can’t be denied (that riff is as infectious now as it was in 1985), but on such a short release, leaving the star out for even one track seems like a diversion. It also doesn’t help the feeling that the utterly enjoyable first three-quarters of BXI stop short of what this collaboration could be. Thankfully, closing track “Magickal Child” realizes this full potential. A modest, heart-wrenching and ethereal tune, it is what Jesu would sound like with a truly gifted singer among their ranks. [Zach Duvall]
Friday, January 25th
Ludicra – Fex Urbis, Lex Orbis (2006)
While the band has always had a distinctively dark undertone, a good bit of the more drone aspects and faster blasting sections of their impressive Another Great Lovesong release have somewhat quieted more as a backdrop than the full focus of the material. While there’s still plenty of variety and substance to be found riddled throughout the five tracks, from the melancholy doom of “Dead City”, the dark drive and melody of “Only a Moment”, and the grandiloquent meanderings of “Collapse”, overall I would have to say that Ludicra have settled down a bit, focusing more on a delivery that primarily synthesizes these alternate aspects of their sound into one primary focal point. I don’t mean to imply that the band has become more bland with time, but this added focus to their sound has allowed for each song to stand on its own merits while still distinctively separating itself from its surroundings, and rather than having a few standout tracks sprinkled here and there, each of the five songs on Fex Urbis, Lex Orbis is one worth both pride and admiration. [Jeremy Garner]
Saturday, January 26th
Primordial – Spirit The Earth Aflame (2000)
Spirit the Earth Aflame has always been in a funny spot in Primordial’s history. It was neither the album that put them on the map (Imrama) nor their most universally beloved masterstroke (The Gathering Wilderness). But in a career of triumphant wins it is yet one more, and an ideal starting point for any poor souls still unfamiliar with the band. Aside from the history lesson, you’ll permanently improve the net value of your music collection by several points.
Honoring the past would mean nothing without a signature sound, and anyone who has ever heard Primordial knows that they have one of the most recognizable. At the base is a top-notch rhythm section, anchored by now-former drummer Simon O’Laoghaire. (His ousting is pure tragedy, however necessary.) Simon’s work is merely one part of how the band utilizes a methodic nuance from the bottom up, and he remains one of metal’s most inventive and selflessly understated skinsmen. Next are the guitars, which on Spirit the Earth Aflame focus on slowly blackened strums, galloping epic riffs and the occasional folk lead that plays tandem with the top of their layered metal cake: Alan “Nemtheanga” Averill’s irreplaceable and wailing vocals. The man stuffs more emotional complexity into one line (such as the beginning of “The Burning Season”) than nearly every other vocalist, of any musical style, could stuff into a lifetime of recordings. He is, in a word, peerless. [Zach Duvall]
See you next week.