Words by Andrew Lampela
Andrew Lampela was an employee and eventual co-owner of the 40-year old institution, Haffa’s Records in Athens, Ohio, just outside of the dark woods from which Skeletonwitch emerged. Over his years there he has played in a number of bands ranging from rock to noise to metal and has taken his lifelong knowledge of music into contributing to a number of publications.
Traditionally, this would be a year end wrap-up. I know, I already subjected you to my tastes, but I listened to a ton of weird not-metal shit this year, so I’d probably tell you once again how blazingly good Succumb‘s XXI (The Flenser) is, no other record came close. Or I’d tell you how well Mehenet nailed down atmosphere, making Ng’Ambu (Gilead Media) one of my favorite Black Metal albums. Or how Suffering Hour has had me since February, the gnarly Mid-Western guitar weirdness of “Transcending Antecendent Visions” and The Cyclic Reckoning (Suffering Hour) still hitting the spot. Or how Worm, Atræ Bilis, or Dream Unending all make the cut, let alone the rest of the year 20 Buck Spin had.
Gotta say, though, I didn’t expect anyone to brave the bleak December into January new release void, burying their hopes and hard work under the deluge of best-of lists and recaps, but Genocide Pact just dropped a ripper.
I’m guilty of both the aforementioned, often overlooking things in order to sniff my own snobby farts as listicles, but you drop this album a few months ago? Be a lot more mentions on said lists. I’ve already listened to it enough times to crack my top ten in a few weeks. Riff heavy, perfectly produced crust dude death metal. The drums are pretty up front, a definite plus, and the blend is spot on. The self-titled (Relapse) release hits all the sweet spots for me, thirty three minutes of gloriously riffing grooves, nice and loud and dirty. I get some Entombed/d beat vibes, but that’s mostly because I WANT the Entombed/d beat vibes. All of them. Don’t snooze on this one.
I also didn’t expect for the Stormkeep album to land so hard. I don’t listen to much of this keyboard-heavy symphonic black metal. A little goes a long way in my world, but Tales Of Othertime (Ván) omits the cheese factor. They remind me a bit of Windir, they remember the value of a propulsive riff and don’t mire themselves in the grandiosity and pomp. More importantly, for an album aiming towards second wave Black Metal evilness, this record is fun as shit. Into it.
I’m pretty sure I have Teeth mixed up with another band. I expected some Am-Rep pummel, but Finite (Translation Loss) is a noisy but spacey technical Death Metal experience, and I’m not mad. I finally got to spend more time with The Sunless record. Ylem (Willowtip) is forty minutes of crispy death metal weirdness. Definitely not mad at this, either. Celestial Blues (Relapse) is the King Woman record that keeps giving. On the metal adjacent front, Scowl dropped a ripper and the Emma Ruth Rundle (Sargent House) is really starting to sink in and bloom.
Happy holidays, everyone. Be safe, take care of yourself, and thanks for checking out Offshelf. We try, man, we try.