“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 March 10th — March 16th.
Sunday, March 10th
Woe – Quietly, Undramatically (2010)
A Spell For The Death of Man was all venom, all the time; Grigg’s primal drumming led a charge of scythe-like riffing and absolutely scathing vocals, and the result was earth-shattering–at least for the few that heard the damn thing. This sophomore effort still retains a healthy amount of piss and sulfur, but Quietly is a more measured, mature release. (The uninitiated shouldn’t take the album title literally; Woe does not deal in mope-a-dope depression. This isn’t suicidal, it’s homicidal.) The arrival of up-and-coming drummer Evan Madden has broadened the band’s scope–though Grigg’s relentless Emperor beats from A Spell aren’t soon forgotten—and the result is nothing short of stellar.
The ebb and flow herein is, pardon the pun, pretty goddamn dramatic. The mid-album gearshift that slides the ultra-brief, filthpunk-ball-of-hell “Without Logic” into the twelve-minute, showstopping “Full Circle” is violently breathtaking. This whip-smart contrast–a relentless, spiked-bat assault paired with the most nuanced epic since “A Diamond For Disease”–serves as testament to Woe‘s growth into a true force. While album opens in expected fashion, with the skin-flaying gnasher “The Road From Recovery” leading the charge, the band’s multi-faceted personality unfolds as the album tells its story.
Woe‘s unabashed punk rock bleedthrough is not only electrifying, it’s vital. There’s an undying, palpable realness to this album that serves as a colossal Fuck You to everything, everyone, and black metal as a whole. Fuck your forests, fuck your communes, fuck your heritage, fuck your demigods, fuck your stage blood, fuck your costumes…and, well, fuck anyone that thinks Liturgy is a good band. This is nihilism, but empoweringly so. Quietly, Undramatically is a chronicle of humanity. This is life. This is heavy metal. And Woe are are kicking the living shit out of it, one spiraling riff at a time. [Jordan Campbell]
Monday, March 11th
Falconer – Among Beggars and Thieves (2008)
Two men are the driving forces behind the unique Falconer sound. Weinerhall, as guitarist and primary songwriter, creates that medieval feel without relying too much on the instrumentation that usually accompanies it. Meanwhile, Blad’s smooth, midrange vocal delivery has a bard-like quality to it, yet remains distinctly metal in nature. The album’s opening 1-2 punch of “Field of Sorrow” and “Man of the Hour” shows this off along with a newfound heaviness. It’s also interesting to hear the vocals being used almost like a lead instrument. It’s as if the rhythms are following Blad’s vocal lines rather than him just singing over the rhythms. It’s the same thing that makes “Pale Light of Silver Moon” a late album standout as he carries the listener through the tale.
“Carnival of Disgust” is another great example of the importance of the vocal. The music is midpaced with some upbeat moments, but the track overall is more about the storytelling. I even had visions of a man addressing a crowd as he sings, “Come and see the play of wicked irony / Join the crowd of hunger / For the joy of the Carnival of Disgust.” As well as that works, it can’t even compare to album closer (at least for the US edition) “Dreams and Pyres,” which clocks in at just under eight minutes. It’s got the folk instrumentation, multiple tempo changes, a triumphant outro, and male and female guest vocalists throughout. It’s the kind of track that can define a band, and frankly is the type of thing that Rhapsody always tends to overblow. [Dave Pirtle]
Tuesday, March 12th
Amon Amarth – Versus the World (2003)
With three albums of Viking-wrought melodic death metal already under their belts, Amon Amarth upped the hooks and emotion, taking their war global. Each song speaks for both their career and pagan heritage, particularly the new statement of purpose “Death in Fire”, the epic title track, and “Thousand Years of Oppression”, arguably the song of their career. They were heavier before and more accessible later, but only on Versus The World did the wrath of these Norsemen forge such a brilliant balance in their fires.
Wednesday, March 13th
Autopsy – The Headless Ritual (2013)
“She is a Funeral” is a true delight, starting off as a straightforward stomper, but eventually twisting its way through several unexpected sections, trading off between that stomp and a gallop, and a full-band stop to introduce a doomy interlude replete with fluttering lead guitar. A wonderful solo around the song’s midpoint also introduces some hard-hitting lockstep riffing, and Reifert’s tremendously demented vocalizing probably gets the greatest spotlight here (“I was transsssssFIXED!”). The man is downright gleeful in chewing up and spitting out every last word, cracking the bones of the language and sucking out the marrow. [Dan Obstkrieg]
Thursday, March 14th
Neurosis- Sovereign (2000)
Originally unleashed in 2000, wedged between Times of Grace (which ended on the track “The Road to Sovereignty”) and A Sun That Never Sets, the EP largely fits the material of that era, and is partially constructed of vague re(pre)interpretations of songs from those albums. At that point, the band’s post-hardcore-tribal-doom uniqueness had eschewed some of the pure apocalyptic mayhem of Through Silver in Blood, but had not yet taken on the more serene tones of The Eye of Every Storm, or to a lesser extent Given to the Rising. But wherever Sovereign fits in chronologically, the slow crescendo, sparse guitars, and half-sung vocal harmonies in extended intro “Prayer” reveals the EP to be no one but Neurosis, and the rest works in kind.
The real meat here comes mostly from two songs. The first is “An Offering,” which builds on the momentum of “Prayer” and before offering true annihilation during its final two minutes (a section that I have no qualms admitting to being one of my favorites by the band). The other is of course the 13-minute mountain of a title track. After setting the stage for a few minutes with pulsating doom and ambient noise, the song kicks down the gates with one of Neurosis’ more infectious and memorable riffs, coupled with the tortured dual vocals of Steve Von Till and Scott Kelly. Several sections of thunderous dark-to-light-to-dark mood shifts eventually give way to a haunting piano and chanted vocal passage, which in turn gives way to a towering coda that connects the EP to Times of Grace. It’s a perfect finish to not only one of the band’s most accomplished compositions but also to the EP. [Zach Duvall]
Friday, March 15th
Dordeduh – Dar De Duh (2012)
Where Dar de Duh surpasses Virstele Pamintului (and shows that 2/3 is truly greater than 1/3) isn’t through any drastic amount of innovation or change, but by how natural it feels. There is little variation from the atmospheric, extremely skilled, and multi-instrumental music that was established with N’Crugu Bradului and OM. Folk themes, malevolently harsh and heavenly clean vocals, expansive compositions, soaring melodies, and moments of pure cold still dominate the proceedings, but there is a slightly different way that the two bands are presenting these threads. Negru and NB 2.0 nail the feel and execution of this sound, leaving little doubt that they deserve to carry on the name, but there was something about Virstele Pamintului that felt slightly forced (just slightly), as if they felt pressure to uphold the name they kept. On the flipside, Dar de Duh is the sound of a band that has this music deep in their veins, and can effortlessly will it into being.
Much of this comes from the quality of the compositions and studio work, but a ton of credit also has to be given to the new backing band that Sol Faur and Hupogrammos have assembled. Flavius Misaras (bass), Gallallin (keyboards) and Ovidiu Mihaita (drums and percussion) exhibit every bit as much skill for the material and tendency for nuance as their predecessors, breathing life and detail into many of the album’s smaller moments. (Like the original Negura Bunget before them, Dordeduh does soft better than most metal bands do loud.) Alin Drimus of Martola also returns to provide wooden flute and kaval, adding tones both playful and sorrowful, depending on what the song and particular passage demand. [Zach Duvall]
Saturday, March 16th
Stagnant Waters – Stagnant Waters (2012)
When’s the last time a band touted as avant-garde or experimental truly launched a movement of equally worthy successors? Musical evolution, it seems to me, comes in big chunky waves, with these untidy iconoclasts burning a pinpoint brighter than a supernova but then properly lapsing into a singularity. Maybe the beauty of these vanguard acts, then, isn’t so much in the revolution they promise, but in the fact that the space of newness they create is so uncompromising that no one else can subsequently occupy it.
Enter the Franco-Norwegian avant-garde black metal of Stagnant Waters. The band includes Svein Hatlevik (otherwise known as Zweizz, and also of Fleurety) on vocals, Aymeric Thomas on drums, electronics, and clarinet, and Camille Giraudeau of Smohalla on guitar and bass. Together, these three have produced an album with certain surface similarities to fellow wayward travelers in DHG, Shining (the Norwegian Blackjazz Shining, not the Swedish vanity project), Thorns, and Ulver, but their noise is nevertheless entirely their own. Stagnant Waters offers frantic punk-derived black metal, Meshuggah-inspired robo-pummel, thoroughly processed (and reprocessed) vocals, toy piano, scything tremolo guitar patterns, a thick, greasy, big beat drum march, lashes of static, Thorns-ish electro-stomping, paranoid shouting, and interference from just beyond the other side of silence. Oh, and by the way, that’s all in the opening track, “Algae.” [Dan Obstkrieg]
See you next week.