Archive for December, 2012


Black (Metal) Mixmas III

This is the third installment of Black (Metal) Mixmas. The “Metal” is in parentheses because I hoped to make the Black Mixmas/Black Christmas pun a tad more obvious and because this isn’t entirely black metal. There’s some black doom, black noise, black ambient, etc. But it’s primarily black metal so don’t lose your shit if you’re a purist.

Speaking of which, this here’s a three parter, and each part has its own aesthetic. Part I starts off with your more straightforward black metal. It’s still raw and brootal and super awesome, just not too many bells & whistles. Part II gets a bit more melodic and moves towards some of that shoegazey post-etc stuff. Part III (my personal favorite) gets totally fucked up and brings in the twisted shit, extra raw, extra noisy, extra extraordinary. Each part stands on its own as a killer mix but back to back to back they make the biggest most badass black metal adventure you’ve ever been on.

As with everything else on this site, I tend to give priority to the under-represented and pass over the more high profile bands. That means as amazing as Ash Borer and Panopticon are, they don’t need to be here. But tons of awesome blackened shit came out this year that wasn’t on Profound Lore and in fact is available for free/name your price downloads on Bandcamp. I linked to all the ones I knew about but dig around and you might find some more. Also, everything on this mix (except Esequiem’s track) came out in 2012, so consider this the unofficial AGB Best Of Black Metal list.

I’m taking an AGB vacation for the holidays starting now. If I’m not back before the new year, I’ll be back after the new year. These 3+ hours of depravity should keep you sane until then.

Download Black (Metal) Mixmas III

Part I
1. Aven – The Last Thought Of Judas
2. Kaevum – La Mitt Rike Komme
3. WORT – plumplestiltskib (download)
4. Mgła – With Hearts Toward None V
5. Pendulum – Le Verre
6. Klor – Helmet Overgrown With Weeds
7. Alkerdeel – Horsesaw
8. Larvae – Cold Dead Face (download)
9. Jute Gyte – The Cry Essaying The Waters (download)
10. Lucifugum – Щелочь антинатализма
11. Obolus – Desolation (download)
12. Permafrost – Ende
13. Esequiem – An Old Castle In The Fog

Part II
1. Vattnet Viskar – Weakness
2. Aegrotum – Thy Perdition Manifest
3. El-Ahrairah – Drown Alone
4. Loss Of Self – The Mind; It’s Form And Function (download)
5. FIN – Insignia (download)
6. Aisuragua – A Mirror Reflecting The Silence
7. Ragana – Burning Structures (download)
8. Rhinocervs – Untitled (track 1 from RH-12)
9. Hordes – The Darkest Conjuration (download)
10. Infinitas – Immerwährende Nächte
11. Daughters Of Sophia – III: Black Sun Enlightment
12. Seirom – Strands Of Golden Light

Part III
1. Sutekh Hexen – Lead Us In Warfare
2. Mhönos – Ex Nihilo… Ad Nihilum…
3. Funeral Depression – Visions Of Broken Life
4. Misery – Sous L’égide Des Martyrs (download)
5. Gates – Forest Passageway, Hallway to the Void
6. OEDE – 8063 (download)
7. Затухание – зора утихает (download)
8. Dead Times & TRTRKMMR – An Appendectomy
9. Trepaneringsritualen – All Hail The Black Flame
10. Cloak Of Altering – Ancient Paths Through Timeless Voids
11. Immaculate Paragon Of Insanity – Invaders From Darkness
12. Venowl – Hung Alive By The Ribs To A Gallows

Technical Note: Затухание’s whole album is way loud, like, louder than anything else on this mix. I tried to tone it down in Audacity but I’m not totally sure how that worked out. So just beware. When that track comes on, you might shit yourself.


Questions For Nicholas Szczepanik

Drone Grandmaster Nicholas Szczepanik and I must be vibing on the same wavelength. He was one of the next two artists (in my head) to ask my questions to and he approached me first, just to throw his name in the hat as someone who’d like to contribute. Obviously, I took him up on the offer. Be sure to check out any/all 3 of his killer albums out this year (The Truth Of Transience made #3 on my Top 10 Drone Records list).
What is the best way to die?
Death is inevitable and unknown. The uncertainty is what makes it scary, but whether it’s seen as a beginning or an end, death is always change. Yet life is also change, and since it is a series of passing moments, we should enjoy each one as best we can before we too pass. I know this is all much easier said than done, but this is what I have decided works best for me. The best way to die is to live.

How do you think you’ll die?
I guess because I’m slightly morbid, I sometimes imagine myself dying unexpectedly at a relatively early age. Strangely, I think I do this as a strategy for self-motivation. In all honesty, I just hope I die after my mother; she already had the burden of bringing me into this life, she doesn’t need to be around when I leave too.

What makes you happy?
Chocolate; a hot tea in my favorite mug from Mexico; a home-cooked meal to share with someone; the smell of the fallen leaves in Autumn and how they crunch under my feet; the animals I see and hear each day; the silence of snow; the warmth only love’s laughter brings; crying, because it means I feel.

How can you die happy?
Knowing that you lived for those two or three things that mean something to you.

How close have you come to death?
We’re always close. Life is one big, ever-changing risk. I imagine we’re all teetering on the brink of death by the simple choices we make each and every day. Though, somehow, I still think we die at a particular point in our lives for a particular reason. Or maybe I just hope it’s not completely arbitrary—that would be a bit discouraging. Either way, I try to remind myself that being alive means eventually dying, and that being dead means having lived.

What does kindness mean to you?
An instinctive, incidental gesture.

Where do you find love?
Now, I find it everywhere: in sharing and forgiveness, in laughter and heartache, in knowing that things will happen and still wanting to experience them with that one person who makes the world a little less daunting.

When were you most afraid?
When I tried to make sense of it all.

How do you listen to music?
With my gut.

Album Review

Venowl – Gnawed Gristle And Bone (Ominous Silence, 2012)

Venowl – Gnawed Gristle And Bone (Ominous Silence)

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These dudes already put out one of the most visceral black metal/doom records this year, Patterns Of Failure (sold out quick and already in its second run), and they’ve decided to drop another brutal bomb as this Gnawed Gristle And Bone EP. A single 20+ minute track of pure fucking hell, these guys conjure Khanate and The Body but add up to something uniquely bleak, coming from the depths of demon’s dungeons, tortured howling, vocals that can only be screeched with a throat full of blood, monstrous drums keeping the perfect bangability, atonal lurch, scratched grit guitars, prolonged buzzing feedback, and bass that will rupture your skull and tear your house down, this is the blackest doom you can imagine, disgusting & depraved, disastrous & devastating, a true horror. If this doesn’t fill your nightmare niche, you’ve got some problems dude.

AGB Presents: Giles Corey, Planning For Burial, High Aura’d, Ehnahre at PA’s Lounge

In celebration of AGB turning 5 in February, I’m putting on my first show (with a lot of help from John Kolodij because I’ve never done this shit before). So so so fucking psyched for this lineup. It’s gonna be gloomy madness.

Giles Corey, aka Dan Barrett, aka the driving force of Have A Nice Life, aka Enemies List honcho, is gonna be doing a stripped down set of his spectral folk, maybe playing some HANL songs, maybe some new stuff, but 100% guaranteed to be rad as fuck.

Planning For Burial will be doing a drone set, although every time he’s said that it still ended up caving the fuckin roof in. Always bringing some dark shit.

High Aura’d basically had to play this show. He made my second favorite drone record this year and the dude always fucking delivers live.

Ehnahre are the one band I haven’t seen yet but their records are insane, some dreary jazzy avant metal that’s weird as fuck and unlike anything else. Can’t fuckin wait to see these guys.

You are cordially invited to this dark night of exceptional entertainment on Saturday, February 23, 2013, at PA’s Lounge in Somerville. 9:00. $10. That’s assuming the world doesn’t end in a couple weeks. But either way, we win.

And here’s the Facebook event page if you’re into that sort of thing.

Top 10 Drone Records Of 2012

A couple months ago I was lamenting that 2012 had shit for good drone records. The words of a madman, clearly. This year was chock full of goodness, although to be honest, nothing this year is quite as good as my favorite drone record from 2011, Nicholas Szczepanik’s Please Stop Loving Me, which will always be the best thing ever. Still, there’s tons of amazing drone this year and it was damn near impossible to keep it trimmed to a tidy 10.

I know genre-specific lists are already niche enough, but I decided to give myself a couple new rules to help narrow my focus. First was defining “Drone Record,” which I hadn’t really done before. If you know the site, then you’ll know my drone tag is liberal. I throw that fucker on everything. But to me, for a record to be on a list of drone records, its top-level genre has to be drone. If I was cataloging it by genre, it would have to go under “Drone.” Not “Noise,” not “Black Metal,” not “Doom,” not “Folk.” Those could be sub-genres, just not the main one. This cleared out a lot of records. It meant I couldn’t include Horseback’s Half Blood (probably my favorite non-drone record this year), Gates’ Eintraum, Sutekh Hexen’s Behind The Throne, etc.

Second, I decided no reissues or box sets. I’ve sorta followed this one in the past, but I didn’t want highly publicized massive tomes like William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops or Pauline Oliveros’ epic 12 disc Reverberations stealing the thunder here.

As you know, I only write about the most top notch shit that gets me super psyched. Every drone record that came out this year and I reviewed should be on this list. So go digging through the drone tag and find the rest that just barely missed the cut. They’re all #11.

10. Moonshine BluesThrough (Hidden Vibes)
“Floating in the grey and rapt in heartache, while sheets & swells of euphoria shimmer in the dark, dragged to the edge of oblivion and left alone…”

One of the best drone releases this year is free. So go download this bleak beast right now and you can feel totally guilt free doing so. And it came out of left field, too. Self released (on his own label), solo Ukrainian guy making some sad fuckin jams, usually as Endless Melancholy, but venturing out into more “ambient” territory as Moonshine Blues. He’s got this blues drone thing down pat and it was more or less an experiment. A+ dude.

9. WastelandersCosmic Despair (Calls & Correspondence / Basses Frequences / Space Idea / Hewhocorrupts Inc.)
“The first few tracks are as depressing as it gets, gloom thick enough to asphyxiate on, solid minimal melancholy that turns your heart into lead and brings gods to tears.”

Gloomy. As. Fuck. The kind of sadness reserved for royalty eulogies & the internal monologue leading to suicides. Long torturous tracks that take the cake for most depressing drones. And super fucking gorgeous.

8. ConcernMisfortune (Isounderscore)
“…nervous nondescript fumbling & fidgeting to keep busy while the drones flutter, then a huge blissful shimmering cloud of hand-wringing uncertainty, slightly transparent and hovering right in front of the sun.”

Edgy box harp drone that’s as jangling as it is soothing. When a drone record has a certain novelty (like an atypical instrument as the primary focus) I usually get sucked in regardless, but this one is outstanding in its own right. A bittersweet swansong from Concern, Misfortune being the last release under that moniker. One of two Isounderscore releases on this list because that label is 100% quality.

7. Andrew Weathers & Andrew MarinoWe Don’t Have Sun Like This (Full Spectrum)
“…always with a delicate tenderness that feels like Weathers is hugging you through your speakers.”

A unique book release with no physical music included. Marino did the photos for the book and Weathers’ tunes come via download. I honestly can’t get enough of Weathers. Everything he does is magic. The absolute perfect blend of folk & drone, he fucking nails it every time. His banjo can do no wrong and his voice is probably the only one that should be allowed to sing over drone.

6. PortraitsPortraits (Important)
“…an impossibly minimal drone that’s almost too beautiful to handle.”

The supergroup to end supergroups (this time it’s true I promise). Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Evan Caminiti, Jon Porras, Gregg Kowalsky, Marielle Jakobsons, and Maxwell August Croy to name about half of them, all working in perfect unison, somehow making harmonies that I still can’t wrap my head around. Long form drones that some work years to achieve, these guys kicked out while they all still have their regular bands & shit going on. Unreal.

5. Kyle Bobby DunnIn Miserum Stercus (Komino)
“…the soft subtleties & elegant dances are still the core, but instead of charming or uplifting, we’re given somber & melancholic, tones dipping into ethereal, haunted dreams…”

Nope, not Bring Me The Head Of…, this one is better because it’s darker and a more unique addition to KBD’s discography. Plus it’s just better. The most beautiful misery I’ve ever heard, overwrought but without tension, intimate & devastating, delicate & harrowing. This is Dunn at the top of his fucking game.

4. EUS, Postdrome, & SaåadSustained Layers (BLWBCK)
“Dense and soaring, black anvil clouds rolling over open plains, always on the edge, seeing the sun rays glow and the grey mass shift, an impending fury that always threatens, never breaks…”

This is beyond gloom. This is as dark as you get before you hit black ambient. It would be downright terrifying if it wasn’t so fucking majestic. And I’d never heard of any of these three guys or the label before. Totally opened my eyes to a new minimal darkness. Supremely awesome.

3. Nicholas SzczepanikThe Truth Of Transience (Isounderscore)
“…a wonderful long form rhythm, it starts out menacing, all horror movie suspense style, with percussive gong-like warnings and imitation bowed cymbals, turning into a loud and blissfully unnerving swirl that eventually fades to nothing…”

Szczepanik put out 3 records this year (this, We Make Life Sad, and Luz, a collab with Federico Durand as Every Hidden Color). And Szczepanik is probably my most favoritest droner right now so why & how the fuck did I chose just one? First, not only did he take the number one spot last year but he was on that list twice (his Ante Algo Azul series couldn’t be skipped). And while this is a totally biased & subjective list, I still feel the need to be a little fair to everyone who’s not Szczepanik. I mean, if he put out 10 records, chances are they’d comprise the whole list, so I tried to restrain myself and only picked one. While Luz is incredible, it didn’t hit me the way his other two did. And We Make Life Sad is one of the most personal and unique albums this year, truly amazing, but I thought I could exclude it due to it being less droney than The Truth Of Transience. Oh, and because Transience is fucking stunning. Out of the three, this one unquestionably wins the gold.

2. High Aura’dSanguine Futures (Bathetic)
“…a foggy midnight journey through the middle of the ocean, with distant muffled canons fighting off some ancient sea beast, mythical & literal sirens wailing, calling with sweetness & alarm, chimes and clatter rattling in the still darkness…”

How the hell did High Aura’d make a record this goddamn good? Seriously, this is amazing in so many ways. Dark & minimal rumblings that breathe soft and threaten your life. I literally can’t imagine him ever making a better record than Sanguine Futures and it’s only his third outing as High Aura’d. I’m pretty sure he will at some point, though, because this dude gets exponentially better with each release. But even if he doesn’t, this is a black star that’ll forever outshine so many other records.

1. SuperstormsSuperstorms (Experimedia)
“Crushed bits and burnt clouds, a blurred fury dipped in bliss, sunsets viewed through a grit lens, a trillion grey sky pixels fractured with the glow shining through, brittle static & warm drones blown out, scratched out, washed out…”

There’s a lot of dark & depressing shit on this list (tough times this past year) but the Number One sidesteps my masochism in favor of something that resonates so profoundly with me. Superstorms crafts the kind of drone that I feel is at my core, the kind of drone I crave more than any other: gritty, blissful, and fucking loud. I feel most at peace when records like this are so loud they obscure everything else in my brain. I can barely stand how fucking awesome Superstorms is. Serious next level drones. I’ve never heard anything else quite like it. I hope that you like this even half as much as I do because FUUUCK I love it too fucking much and the world would be a better place if everyone shared in this stupidly perfect love.

Album Review

Villages – Theories Of Ageing (Bathetic, 2012)

VillagesNesting Grounds (Bathetic)

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Unbelievably awesome new record from Ross Gentry, taking what I love from Andrew Weathers’ folk drone and spinning his own tale with it. Super organic, lush, and insanely fucking gorgeous, weaving banjos & organs with digital minimalism, spots of rhythmic bells and resonant pianos come and go while everything is bathed in a soft glow, too clean & clear to feel nostalgic but still brings to mind my summer family camping trips as a kid, slow & meandering with a purpose, not lazy, just not rushed, all the time in the world to conjure intimate stories and doing it with ease. A stellar fucking drone record from one of this year’s more exceptional labels. Limited to 312, hand numbered, and totally worth every penny.

Album Review

Gog – Ironworks (Utech, 2012)

GogA Promised Eternity Fulfilled With Cancer (Utech)

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Hard to believe this is just one dude makin all this fuckin racket. So much volume on this. Ironworks, aka “an epitaph for the death of the American dream,” is a monster of black industrial noise, huge walls of distorted guitar scrape, cliffs crumbling from the reverb, with a persistent percussion that doesn’t so much keep rhythm as it creates a post-apocalyptic atmosphere, machines running on their own because there was no time to shut them off, a thick black cloud that lasts for miles, vocals that range from shamanistic chants to DSBM howls, a somber piano’s final eulogy, a lifeless greyscape where the massive drone rolls and the dirt is caked in blood, brooding & brutal, this is perfect destruction. Do not miss.

Album Review

Zurvan – Chapter IV (Rubber City Noise, 2012)

ZurvanBones Like The Mountains (Rubber City Noise)

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I’m always psyched for some new Zurvan material. And Chapter IV is about an hour long, so there’s plenty of goodness to dive into. These two dudes really know how to bring the darkness. They craft a super minimal monochrome drone here, so quiet & subtle that the instruments are indistinguishable, a meditative fog seeping through your thoughts, neither dense nor massive but undeniably invasive, wrapping your soul in death’s shroud, a smoke & mirrors magik that scrapes your inner skull, bending light in transdimensional travel while galaxies evolve into black holes and time stands still, sounding like a motionless river of sacrificial blood, cloaking everything in nothing. Truly awesome work from these guys, definitely not something to skip out on.