It’s been a few months, I’ve posted about appropriately metal things – I’ve earned myself a break from the death metal mines. Luckily for you, the three people that don’t close the page when they see my byline, some of the stuff I listen to when I’m giving my ears a break is just close enough to what this magazine covers to warrant a mention. Here are some of my current favorites.
Barn Owl – V (Thrill Jockey)
I tackled these guys’ last descent into droning madness in the pages of the magazine, but since then they’ve left the desolate plains of earth and launched themselves into the void. This is what I imagine it sounds like when you’re trying to fall asleep on one of the giant spacecraft in the Alien universe: all pulsing engines, the empty roar of space, the faraway ambient sounds of a Hollywood composer foretelling your doom. They call it “doom dub,” but that’s not quite right. I think “cosmic horror” sums it up better: when you stare into the abyss, sometimes it’s hard to tell if the abyss is staring back or if you’re just starting to go crazy. Pretty grim, but in a strangely relaxing way.
Circle – Six Day Run (Ektro)
Circle have released approximately a thousand things since their formation 22 years ago, but they live in Finland – what else do they have to do but record music and drink to heroic excess? Their material ranges from hard-edged post-rock to driving Krautrock jams, and their latest EP definitely falls into the latter category. The soundtrack to a short film documenting an attempt by runners to see how many miles they can log on a one-mile circular (appropriate!) track over the course of six sleepless days, the relentless rhythm and intense guitar make the film seem way more exciting than it probably is. At the very least, they lock into the insane focus of the participants. Load this onto your iPod and play on repeat at the gym! You’ll still be a pussy compared to the marathon men, but it’ll at least make your ellipticals feel more badass.
Hexvessel – The Iron Marsh (Svart)
Finnish forest folk! Whatever that is, these dudes dig Satan and non-guitar stringed instruments, so I’m down. I think it’s basically their way of saying that this is throwback late 60s/early 70s psychedelia, reminiscent of early Pink Floyd or Coven. Guest singers from like-minded metal-adjacent bands Purson and Blood Ceremony give this a little more credibility (and some welcome estrogen), plus there’s a Yoko Ono cover just to confuse you. It’s a mini CD, so it can only soundtrack a fairly short pagan ritual. You may wonder how many more soundtracks to archaic pagan nature rituals you really need. Well, turns out you need another one!