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.
I know this is the third mention in as many months, but hear me out. Sometimes an album comes along that absolutely smashes your already heightened expectations to a million, blissful pieces. Falls Of Rauros has managed to blend staggering new levels of unbridled creativity, the sound of several months worth of smotheringly grey Ohio days, and the omnipresent waves of my daily depression into a start to finish banger of spiritually nourishing, lushly atmospheric Black Metal that transcends the template completely. Key To A Vanishing Future (Gilead Media) gets deeper and deeper with every listen, and has pretty much dominated my metal listening for the last month and a half. Admittedly, there wasn’t a question of me liking this album, as I loved the shit out of Patterns In Mythology too, but this album is a stunner. There are certain moments that haven’t failed to hit me every time, like the soft respite in “Desert Of Heart”, or when that riff in “Known World Narrows” kicks in, or the vibes of “Daggers In Floodlight”, but it’s impossible to narrow down any real highlights, as this is as complete an album as I’ve heard in some time. Progressive and full of emotive power, infusing the bleak genre trappings with a triumphantly beautiful grandeur, Falls Of Rauros have created an impressively insular world entirely their own with Key To A Vanishing Future. Incredibly satisfying and one of my absolute favorite albums in recent memory, I couldn’t possibly give this a higher recommendation.
It’s nice that once a year, we can all put aside our differences and instead of fighting about whether we should teach our children that this country was founded by racist assholes (we absolutely should), we can teach them that the benevolent son of the sky wizard wasn’t quite dead when they chucked him in a cave (less convinced). More importantly, there’s a magic rabbit that craps sugar beans and I will eat them all. I like the cheap ones, I like the bougie ones, I like the ones that don’t even taste like real shit. I will absolutely pound the fuck out of jelly beans for a week, to obscenely gluttonous levels. Then, the inevitable “Ugh” moment hits and I will put them down and forget they exist for a while. Abbath albums are the Motorhead-y Black Metal jelly beans of my world. Dread Reaver (Season of Mist) is great. Shitty but clean production, wall of drums, riffs for miles, with a dash of, dare I say, hair metal fun and an unnecessary but cool Metallica cover. You know what you’re getting, and it’s worth a listen. I will absolutely forget about it until another album comes out or he does something stupid on tour, but totally worth a listen.
As far as supergroups go, you could do far worse than Absent In Body. Featuring current/former members of Amenra and Neurosis, as well as one Iggor Cavalera, Plague God (Relapse) is both what I expected and a bit more industrial slash bleak than I saw coming. A brisk but, let’s face it, plodding thirty six minutes is just about the perfect amount of doomy, undulating intensity. I didn’t have many expectations as far as replay-ability on this one, but gotta admit it’s got some moments that are really growing on me.
I used to get a little bent when I found something I missed out on, but there’s simply too much music out there right now to catch everything. Discovering a band like Slaegt is a pleasant little surprise. Goddess (Century Media) is a fun little slab of Black N Roll, with the added perk of cool little drum nerd shit to zone out on. Some of those fills are real tasty! The bonus here is that I’m also really enjoying The Wheel as well. Nothing mind-bending here, but a pretty solid discography to dig through.
Soul Glo’s Diaspora Problems (Epitaph) is one of the most indescribably fun hardcore records I’ve heard in a hot minute, and it is a good time. Emma Ruth Rundle just dropped an EP of outtakes called Orpheus Looking Back (Sargent House) and, as always, she crushes my soul in the best way. I mean, you know what you’re in for with a song called “Baptised In The Cum Of The Goat” and as far as beastial Death Metal blasphemy goes, this Savage Necromancy (20 Buck Spin) is fun shit. Need more classic Carcass than what Carcass put out? Jesus Wept got you. Aeviterne‘s The Ailing Facade (Profound Lore) is bleakly worth a listen, and despite the Trapper Keeper-esque artwork, Astral Tomb‘s bonkers lo-fi Death Metal Soulgazer (Blood Harvest) is as well. There’s a new Ghost out (fuck that, no link), and I have no problem with liking what you like, but if this is your thing, you can never, ever bitch about Miley Cyrus or T. Swift again (also, both of whom are great) ’cause this is arena pop bullshit with King Diamond makeup and that’s final.