Tape Wyrm X: Fall Metal Releases Tape Wyrm X: Fall Metal Releases

Fall 2011 Metal Releases

First of all, I would like to thank Pinpoint Music for allowing me to fulfill my lifelong dream. Writing “Tape Wyrm” and chasing sheep through the Scottish Highlands have always been a dream of mine. Heavy metal, just like any genre can be wildly fascinating given enough time and attention to details. We are now approaching Fall, which brings us closer to the witching hour known as the end of the year. The Pinpoint storage rooms and adjacent break areas will soon be filled with dark streamers and macabre party favors. The “Best Metal Albums of 2011” will be a glorious event. I have secured three giant skull shaped punch bowls which may or may not contain spooky dry ice. Guests are required to wear corpse paint when attending. There will be a rousing game of musical chairs. However, before the grand ball we as a consumer audience have a few more slopes to traverse. Since October is upon us, it is time to look forward to the releases which will soon dot the metal landscape. There are over 200 major label metal releases slated for the Fall calendar with no mention of the innumerable demos and label-less sellswords jockeying for position. Constructing a comprehensive Fall metal release article would be exhausting and somewhat boring especially since decent ones already exist. I have decided to focus on ten records from ten different labels which have caught my attention. Whether due to past performance or pure speculation, these releases have interested me greatly. There should be no reason why the reader should not have his or her own Fall list. These ten records are merely a suggestion. We are not discussing the merits of whether or not you should have a Fall metal list — because you should. Everyone should. I fail to see the reason not to.
 

Taake – Noregs Vaapen
[Candlelight] September 19th

What better way to begin than with some no frills Norwegian black metal? Black metal, as a style, has progressed leaps and bounds over its sibling genres. Norway, as a black metal force, has been generally recognized for its murderous shenanigans. Beyond the violence and mayhem which existed in the early 90’s, other projects were just as outstanding. In 1993, a 16 year old Ørjan Stedjeberg, under the mantle of “Thule” recorded and released two demos which are, to this day, amazingly decent. This 16 year old would go on to create Taake. Taake would carry the Norwegian flag of black metal throughout the next decade with a constant ebb and flow of supporting musicians. Stedjeberg always sings in his native tongue and usually adorns the album covers looking particularly menacing. No seriously, stop what you are doing now and look at these album covers. Noregs Vaapen does not change the Taake’s formula of traditional Norwegian black metal. In fact, the album welcomes a hall of fame list of 90’s Norwegian black metal musicians including Nocturno Cuto (Darkthrone), Attila Csihar (Mayhem), and Demonaz Doom Occulta (Immortal). If one would like to think ofNoregs Vaapen as the like the Justice League of black metal it would be an apt description. Well, maybe the Justice League International or Legion of Super-Heroes to be more specific.


 

Rwake- Rest
[Relapse] September 27th

I made mention of this record in a previous Tape Wyrm. The fact that it is here, again, is a good thing. We can call this a second interview. While Rwake’s 5th record initially interested me, it wasn’t until subsequent listens which the gravity finally took hold. Taking the initial template of sludge, Rwake exploits style into a world of space based hostility. Rest shares many similarities with early post rock as songs are deconstructed and elongated. Rather than an angular and quiet mediation, Rwake punctuates its silence with world ending destruction. The emotional content in the lyrics are the center for a cataclysmic disaster. Within life failings and existential unrest comes the abandonment of gravity and a final push into the sun. Relapse Records has had an outstanding year with multiple releases worthy of anyone’s attention. Rwake’s Rest is also worth consideration despite a listener’s appreciation of astronomical sludge.


 

Evile- Five Serpents’ Teeth
[Earache] September 27th

Fellow Pinpoint writer Charles and I were discussing thrash metal — as most level headed adults do on a Wednesday evening. I suggested Evile with the selling point being “an altered dimensional Metallica circa 1985.” Here is where compliments and criticism became blurred. It is true, vocalist Matt Drake sounds a lot like James Hetfield to the point of possible plagiarism. While his tone is slightly higher, the sneering gruff style is unmistakable. I would be more dismissive if Five Serpents’ Teeth wasn’t so damn good. One of the problems facing newer thrash bands is an inability to progress past the style’s roots. How could they when the 80’s were so damn cool? Evile does an outstanding job at recreating the golden era of sub-mainstream thrash. What separates this band from other throwback bands is a creative structure which makes songs and albums interesting. The renewal of interest in thrash is fueled by either a desire to recreate or move forward. Every well crafted record gives promise to the longevity of the style. Lastly, for a record to hold any ground, it must be fun to listen to. With that said, Five Serpents’ Teeth is a damn fine party.


 

Noothgrush – Live for Nothing
[Southern Lord] September 27th

Southern Lord has a certain image. When I first encountered this American label, I knew them as peddlers of hip yet inaccessible doom metal. Now they are something different. They are the same label but with a little bit more grime between the fingernails. Southern Lord is also known for their archival work in which the label unearths older albums and even bands buried under the soil of time. The latest Southern Lord exhibition is Noothgrush, a forgotten San Jose sludge band from the early 90’s. Despite the band being located in the same city as Sleep and within driving distance of Neurosis, Noothgrush never got the attention they wanted or deserved. Perhaps this is due to the almost nonexistent work effort displayed by the band. Noothgrush released only splits and demos up until their demise in 2001. After a decade hiatus, the band reformed with the release of their first record….this year. Becasue the early 90’s slacker aesthetic is no longer in vogue, Noothgrush is quickly following up their debut with another release. Live for Nothing is two college radio performances recorded in the late 1990’s and catches the band at their peak in terms of performance as well as their emotional breaking point. Like many Southern Lord archives, Live For Nothing is an 80 minute documentary on a band which failed to reach recognition. Original sludge is a seething cesspool, seasoned with disdain and bottled shelf bourbon. If the reader is the in the mood for joyless obliteration, Live For Nothing is waiting.


 

Skeletonwitch – Forever Abomination
[Prostehtic] October 10th

Skeletonwitch stands at the corner of everything. Between popularity and obscurity and at the intersection of extreme metal and arena rock, this band has it all while never needing to choose any single direction. The band has been featured on Ozzfest, Adult Swim, Guitar Hero, and even debuted within the Billboard charts (I’m sure that is still big right?). Skeletonwitch’s gradual climb to fame, however, has not hindered their records as the same black thrash continues to shine. For all intents and purposes, Skeletonwitch feels no need to soften their approach with a larger audience. This idea is what drives the band’s 5th record Forever Abomination. While the music is outstanding and satisfy desires for blackened speed, my only complaint is the album art. Since John Dyer Baizley illustrated the 2006’s Beyond The Permafrost, subsequent releases have felt goofy in comparison. Perhaps it is apart of the band’s aesthetic to feature slightly silly monsters. Fucking Skeletonwitch. If ever I needed a soundtrack to do a haircopter on top of a mausoleum, I know this band would have my back.


 

Russian Circles-Empros
[Sergeant House] October 25th

Russian Circles is a Chicago based instrumental trio which blurs the line between post rock and metal. The heaviness displayed in the band’s first three records more than earns them the right to be included in Tape Wyrm despite the fact their label is a non metal specific. Sergeant House Records released a statement calling Russian Circles new record “the heaviest album to date.” Perhaps this is rooted in hype but the first streaming single from Empros is reminiscent of the band’s debut record Enter. “Mladek” begins standard in third wave post rock fashion but soon slips into a tide of sludgy post metal anchored only by a sneering riff. I was unsure about the bands claim of heaviness until the final minute of the single where the proverbial shit became frighteningly apparent. “Mladek” has the right attitude and spirit necessary for an interesting record. Russian Circles can certainly waltz into metal reviews but they do not have to stay all night. The band transcends audiences and keeps getting more interesting. Empros will surely explode across freshman dormitories played through headphones to the delight of wide eyed post rock fans. I maybe one of them. I wonder if the others will let me into their party? I could bring beer.


 

Leviathan- True Traitor True whore
[Profound Lore] November 8th

Alright. God. Leviathan has been a large name among the development of United States black metal. This is mainly due to the 2003 debut The Tenth Sub Level Of Suicide as well as the 12 cassette demos released in the 3 years prior. Leviathan is a one man black metal project helmed by the very busy Wrest. If one was looking for a gloomy, suicidal black metal project to hang their hat one, Leviathan would be a great choice. In the mid 00’s Leviathan began a slow but gradual change from depressive black metal into something more sinister. By slight studio enhancements and structural changes, Leviathan’s records became more advanced and mirrored the work of avant French black metal acts Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord. Now it is time for the 5th record and by the first released track we are in for one doosey of a record. Well, I’m sure Wrest knows what he is doing by now. While I have enjoyed most of Leviathan’s work, the news of Wrest’s arrest has somewhat dampened my anticipation. While church arson and murder has enhanced the sinister aspect of black metal for some, sexual assault with tattoo needles just sounds weird and creepy. While I should not delineate between acts of violence, Wrest’s arrest will most likely not win over audiences. I could be wrong though. I hope I’m not.


 

VektorOuter Isolation
[Heavy Artillery] November 22nd

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. If I could just fill this feature with incoherent affirmations, it would only convey half of my anticipation for this release. Arizona based Vektor has already outdone themselves with their 2009 release Black Future as well as their 2006 debut Demolition. It is time to see if they can pull off a hat trick. Adding science fiction onto metal is not a new concept. It has been done before — mostly with progressive metal. Adding science fiction onto thrash, however, breaks the style’s traditional sociopolitical and emotional content. Vektor has joined the great sci-fi metal club with other titans such as Iron Maiden, Queensryche and that one Hypocrisy album. There has not been much news regarding Vektor’s second record Outer Isolation. Besides a release date and a microscopic sized album cover, there is almost nothing available. Part of the anticipation for this record also stems for a desire for another progressive thrash album which does not look to the past for inspiration. Vektor is one of the few thrash bands capable of maintaining the creative energy needed for a style’s longevity. My anticipation for Outer Isolation is based on the small evidence of previous albums and unempiral hope for a third. For now I will be waiting patiently with a stack of Weird Science and Judge Dredd comics.


 

EsotericParagon Of Dissonance
[Season Of Mist] November 15th

Alright, we have reached Esoteric. Esoteric is a funeral doom band with just as much interest in death metal as suffocating fog. Funeral doom can be incredibly difficult to get through without the right amount of patience. Esoteric corrects this flaw by adding death inspired climaxes before the doomed crawl. Esoteric is two bands which have gracefully created one suture across different styles. While the band is maniacal in their death approach, it is the transition between the two which is most interesting. Paragon Of Dissonance is the band’s 7th record and 3rd on the Seasons of Mist label. Esoteric has been around since the early 90’s and has done little to change their approach to heavy metal. Why should they? It is astonishing the way it is. When Esoteric slows, the world stops spinning. The band opens a world of despondency filled with torment and suffering. While I’m sure this sounds warm and inviting, Esoteric’s records are never dull or uninteresting – despite the fact most of them are double disc albums. Paragon Of Dissonance is just shy of 100 minutes spread over two discs with a total of seven songs. For anyone interested in the work of Catacombs or even Skepticism, do not let this release pass you by….(laughs)..because it would be kinda difficult…seeing how it moves so slow….since its doom and all….fuck you.


 

Satan’s Host- Celebration For the Love of Satan
[Moribund Cult] November 22

If you have not listened to heavy metal icons Jag Panzer and their 1984 record Ample Destruction, spend your next weekend getting acquainted with a classic. Now what does that have to do with 2011? After Ample Destruction, lead vocalist Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin left Jag Panzer and formed Satan’s Host. Satan’s Host released one record before disbanding for 10 years. The band was reformed in 2000 with a new singer (L.C.F. Elixir) and released a handful of black metal records. Satan’s Host, as a black metal band, was decent but never came close to the level they were capable of. In 2011, Conklin returned as lead vocalist for By the Hands of the Devil which combined the band’s heavy metal roots with flairs of black metal. “By the Hands of the Devil” was so surprising as it stood as one of the better albums of this year. It was goddamn awesome. To celebrate the 25th anniversary (of a band whose been on hiatus for most of its career) Satan’s Host is releasing a a compilation of re-recorded songs. The songs will span the band’s career and be presented in the same style as By the Hands of the Devil. I couldn’t be more happy. Satan’s Host could be one of the most ridiculous darkhorse riders of 2011. Who would have thought a blackened traditional metal band would make it so far? Be sure to check out their cover of The Beatle’s “Norwegian Wood.” While the concept of transforming a very personal classic into a song about burning priests and judges may sound ridiculous…well….no it is pretty much ridiculous. Still, Conklin’s dedication to the harmonies of the original combined with a blatant disregard for the lyrics is blasphemous and hilarious.


 



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