I'm backed up over here like a truck driver with chorizo poisoning, so these are gonna be (semi) short and sweet: Metal Album of the Year appears to have arrived in the form of Lair of the Minotaur's "Carnage, Fucking Carnage" (Southern Lord). The Gods hath ejaculated 8 Mordorian blades straight into thine ears. My jank asshole hasn't been this battered since I was baptized into the Church of Satan. Fans of Slayer, Venom, Mayhem, The Obsessed and Thee Dark Lord best get smokin (and I mean smokin) . Goddamn.... I like it, I reckon, because they're tight as fuck and as crushingly adept at mid-tempo biker riffage as they are the flailing grind bits, blast beats, and occasional DOOM tangents--masterful sludge, literate leads, great vokills, too. Speaking of singers of note, Wino (St. Vitus, The Obsessed) has unleashed the second album from The Hidden Hand. In case ya didn't know, the dude sort of helped forge what would become known as the "doom" or "stoner" sound way back in the 80s. With "Mother Teacher Destroyer" (Southern Lord) he and his collaborators waste no time in emerging as one of the prime movers in the scene Southern Lord has come to epitomize, with politically charged metal anthems that often approach the psych abyss and occasionally dive right into the deep dark nothing. Wino sounds pristine, his solos on fire, his band, his songs, his titles ("The Deprogramming of Tom Delay" for instance)--all first rate on a record that strikes a good balance between sneering discontent and stoned accord, and it's more digestable than most doom today. My homies in the Melvins recently hooked up with Lustmord for "Pigs of the Roman Empire" (Ipecac) to see their funkafied southern/epic sludge metal augmented with extended bouts of the 'Mord's icylationist drones. Works well, but I'm not sure it's as successful as their own stab at crude ambient noise, the live "Colossus of Destiny" (Ipecac), but then it explores more minimal space and offers its own kind of metallic mind solvent. THUMS UP! Now in the realm of heavy, you can go much further, if willing, and a band like England's Aufgehoben will seriously take you to the other side. This is some demented "free noise" that is hard to put a finger on, aside from it's studiously performed, uber-distorted, post Mainliner/Skullflower jazz skronk-that must be heard by those who like their aural masochism textured and blistering. It's the tension and the builds, the way quiet rumbles and squiggles erupt into paint-peeling, super loud, metal on metal shred death that demand focused attention and fevered awe. "Anno Fauve" (Riot Season) is as good as this sort of thing gets, but hardly for the faint of heart.
Semi-recently received a package from Foxy Digitalis of newer items in their Foxglove CD-R series, chock full of many a goody, among them United Bible Studies, another assemblage of the Druids of Deserted Village. "The Lunar Observatory" is a mesmerizing slab of rustic, low-key improv and gorgeous drifting jazz balladry with piano lulls and sax daze. Loverly. Vapaa weaves low-moving organic machine hum, whoosh, scree, field recordings and more into oscillating dream worlds on "Tilat." Musti Laiton conjures his (their) own brand of hypnotic drone murk and more ambitious Krautrockery with stumbling reverb-drenched acid leads and even the occasional prog bombast, but "Survival Horror" is mostly a mellow groove with some effective production flourishes. A.M.'s "Tasman" is 4 tracks of amp buzz, violin, radio noise and reverb built up into shimmering pyramids of devotional awe (sans overdubs!). Absolutely perfect for noise bathing. Nice to see Hush Arbors and Mr. Foxgloves himself, The North Sea, teaming up for the "Singing Through Moss and Mist" split CD-R. Hush Arbor's First track is a long minimal piece with nature sounds and some slight acoustic plucks, while the second is a darker, more rumbling drone mass that sees our nature freak probing the darkest regions of (inner) space. The North Sea opens with effects drenched electric guitar that slowly builds in volume/density before delivering an amalgam of ambient tones, chirping cicadas, shakers, flutes, bowed strings and languid acoustic guitar. Oxygen for the soul. Included in the same package: free folksters Juniper Meadows ("Pistols for Madeline"), Kiwi sound sculptor Peter Wright ("Desolation, Beauty Violence") and Agitated Radio Pilot ("Like Flightless Birds"). FD has had a ridiculously prolific output this year, but the quality and depth of this stuff speaks for itself, and more importantly it offers people 'round my neck of the woods a chance to hear some things that we might not get to otherwise. Nothing wrong with spreadin' that love butta thick.