Tape Wyrm III: Mid Year Tape Wyrm III: Mid Year

2011 [Mid Year Review]

While dirt is being shifted and lives are being uprooted, I can always take time to stop, breathe and reflect about metal. One of the most exciting times in the year, for me, is the mid year review. In fact, the mid year review was a fantasy for me for a year since starting with Pinpoint Music. Now the time has come and I have found myself writing this on top of packed boxes inside of a moving truck. This review is much like an end of the year top 10 list but without any sense of certainty. These releases have shown promise throughout others. They may be mentioned again during the end of the year awards or forgotten for other releases which have still yet to surface. Celebration and uncertainty is this week’s theme. Because the end of the year always finishes with ten releases, I have informally pulled together 5 of my favorite releases of 2011 with no real definitive conclusion. While there is little constant in my current life, I know there still exists some stability. There are points during these days when I become blind with paralyzing anxiety which mixes with a sense of excitement all in the same breathe. The future is uncertain but there still exists vague outlines of definiteness. Despite everything around me, I can certainly formulate judgments regarding outstanding metal releases which have brighten all of our days during these first six months. If you are a person with no knowledge or opinion regarding metal, these five releases would be a incredible start for 2011. If you are a person with knowledge and a strong opinion regarding metal please use the space below to leave spiteful comments or ridiculous praise.

Altar Of Plagues – Mammal

Mammal was mentioned in the first Tape Wyrm column due to its breath taking ability to floor its listeners. Since its release I have already become more optimistic regarding atmospheric black metal as well as Ireland as a land for forward thinking metal. Mammal is a striking meditation on mortality and spiritual bankruptcy created in response to the band’s early themes on ecological disaster. Mammal is less a one time feat of greatness as it is the pinnacle of a career spent making above average metal records. At only four songs, the listener is subjected to blistering black metal, post rock passages and audio samples of outdated Celtic funerary customs. Mammal is well rounded, skillfully executed and contributes a non American entry in a style which has been linked to the pacific American northwest. Bravo gentlemen, my stereotypical views of Ireland have been transformed into something more bleak yet infinitely more vast.

Altar Of Plagues – Neptune Is Dead (Edited)

Between The Buried And Me – The Parrallax: Hyper Sleep Dialogues

Across the greater landscape of music, Between the Buried And Me’s newest EP will probably not cause much fanfare. In heavy-metal-ville, however, there will be parades. Well, to be honest, the festivities will be concentrated on a three block metalcore neighborhood and will most likely be ignored by most people. But to those dancing in the streets, The Parrallax: Hyper Sleep Dialogues is a time to celebrate and start drinking at 11 am. Between the Buried and Me’s exploration into the space between metalcore, death metal and progressive rock started and their inception but became clear following the release of 2007’s Colors. The Parallax is the first proposed EP in a multi-conceptual release by Metal Blade records. The decision to release short multiple EPs is a brilliant decision which not only brings multiple waves of attention but negates any boredom which could come from a standard length album. Despite its relatively short running time, The Parrallax feels like a full length with its multiple sections, moments of reason, episodes of insanity and more than one instance of fretless bass. This is a 30 minutes which accomplishes more than most albums do in a shorter time.

Between the Buried and Me – Specular Reflection (Edited)

Obscura – Omnivium

Obscura is a technical death metal outfit who are not content with making records only enjoyed by 9 tech death fans. Omnivium is the bands third release exploring cosmology on an apocalyptic scale. Obscura takes its name from a seminal 1998 technical death metal record released by Gorguts. Like its namesake, Obscura makes no apologies to anyone not conditioned to heavier music. The style shifts from technical death to progressive death with minimal water and bathroom breaks. With that said,Omnivium is incredibly versatile and accessible to those willing to accept gruff vocals and potentially hang out with those 9 tech death fans. Omnivium’s ethereal subject matter never allows itself to wander into pretentious ramblings. This, combined with progressive transitions that construct rather than flaunt makes Omnivium a spectacular achievement with a possibility of further legacy. Obscura and Omnivium are recommended to anyone regardless of their metal background. If you are only going to have one 2011 German tech death album in your musical library, make it this one.

Obscura – Septuagint

Mitochrondrion – Parasignosis

Ohh Jesus. Mitochondrion is from Victoria Canada which is just north of the western tip of the United States. Mitochondrion could be considered apart of the Pacific Northwest black metal scene if they weren’t so obsessed with soul splitting abstract death metal. It takes the listener a few moments into the title track to realize the harrowing implications of odd time signatures and guttural shrieks. Parasignosis is the the band’s philosophical exploration into the concepts of the divine and ultimate pestilence among mankind. With lyrics like

Suspended flesh beatwixt ignorant mire
To supplicate Saturn – Lord, lurk amongst dire

Mitochondrion becomes less a band and more a group of scholars who have crossed into the lands of the occult and darkness. I understand I just recently recommended the reader Obscura despite metal background. Mitochorndrion, however, is incredibly abstract, advanced and angular that approaching their albums is best done upside down and fully naked. Black is white, up is down and inaccessible black/death is the one of the most amazing things you have heard this year.

Mitochondrion – Parasignosis

Woods Of Desolation – Torn Beyond Reason

Woods Of Desolation is an oddball in the black metal scene. The band is from South East Australia which is not known for its metal climate. Despite the temperature and weather being damn near perfect, Woods Of Desolation offers a form of black metal which is so devoid of any warmth and comfort. With a description like the one above, Torn Beyond Reason could have fallen into the pile relegated to over emotional nonsense. For the whole of 40 minutes. Torn Beyond Reason not only makes leaps beyond the bands previous efforts but it marks itself as one of the most profound black metal releases of 2011. Torn Beyond Reason follows 2008’s Towards The Depths, a record which was decent if not suffocated under the weight of lo fidelity. Here, Woods Of desolation is given the proper production is deserves allowing the vocal shrieks to sail past a balanced low end. Cold, dark and emotionally fragile, Woods Of Desolation turns an Australian paradise into the loneliest place on earth. The band is also the only one of this column too good to have any songs on Soundcloud. Perhaps the band members are toiling away in their grief to update a nearly endless array of social media.

Other notable releases this year includes The Great Mass by Greek death metal act Septic Flesh. Newcomers Lightbearer and their Lucifer inspired post metal opus Lapus was damn impressive as well as Jason The Dragon by everyone’s favorite sludge juggernauts Weedeater. Special mention also must be given to Italian power metal band Rhapsody Of Fire with the release of their eighth fantasy album From Chaos To Eternity as well as Conjure and Command by black thrash one man band Toxic Holocaust. It will be an interesting December when dozens of albums converge on the battlefield for and battle of mythic proportions.

Recent Recommendations

Tyr – The Lay of Thrym

One of my more favorite ideas is that people love vikings in metal. This observation is not based off of the public’s love for Viking metal rather that people not into metal think all metal is about Vikings, Satan or Satanic Vikings. This is usually the atmosphere when creating a metal record based around the plights of Vikings. Tyr is from the Faeroe Islands which is the mid point between Scotland and Iceland. For nearly a decade, Tyr has created a tapestry rich with Norse legends and adventures. The Lay Of Thym is the band’s seventh album based around a Nordic poem detailing Loki and his mischievous trouble making. The album is not solely concerned with the legend as it possesses some rousing anthems of victory, optimism and wonder. While Viking metal’s highlights lay in the genre’s early creators (Bathory, Enslaved) Tyr does a damn good job of keeping the audience interested with flawless battle calls. Damn the pretensions and pick up your sword.

Tombs – Path Of Totality

Tombs is a great band. Sadly though they have a long way to go to be gain the level of recognition they deserve. Formed out of the ashes of Boston hardcore punk band Anodyne, this Brooklyn based band have released three records via Relapse Records exploring the depths black metal can swim with only one breathe of air. Within the structure of post metal, Tombs allows their love for black metal cloud the waters into a frightening and challenging musical style. The Path Of Totality is just shy of 60 minutes of confrontational sludge which feels like the cold current of waters to deep to stand. Is this the feel bad album of the summer?

Job For A Cowboy – Gloom EP

Yeah that’s right, I’m going to talk about Job for a cowboy, what of it?!?! This defensive stance when reccomending Job For A Cowboy comes from the bands entrance in 2005 as a deathcore act. Job for a Cowboy’s 2005 Doom EP as well as an unofficial video of “Knee Deep” being sung by Spongebob Square Pants catapulted the band into the arms of 16 year old internet users. Since 2005, Job for a Cowboy has embraced a more orthodox form of death metal while Deathcore continues to spin violently out of control. The Gloom EP serves as a stopgap between a period of inactivity for the band. Prior to recording this short 15 minute release, two members left the band leaving vocalist Jonny Davy as the sole surviving member. Regardless of internal struggles, the Gloom EP is spectacular and brutal and sings songs about a band who has gone through many things in their relativity short existence.

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