Tuesday, June 30, 2015

S.V.E.S.T. - Urfaust (2003)


French black metal. One of the great lo-fi black metal records.

Track listing:
1. Putréfiance Rédemptrice
2. Nuit de Walpurgis
3. Epitaphe

Death to macrocosm

Mono - You Are There (2006)


Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Mono & World's End Girlfriend - Palmless Prayer / Mass Murder Refrain (2005)

In early 2006, I moved across the country with my then-girlfriend and a group of bandmates. Despite having so many familiar faces all around -- most of us moved into the same house, even -- my homesickness, for the first few months, was overwhelming. This is, in all likelihood, why You Are There, released shortly after I arrived, struck such a chord with me. From its haunting valleys to its furious, anxiety-ridden peaks, You Are There was, and still is, one of the most deeply sorrowful instrumental records I have heard. For many, Mono's approach to post-rock is too by-the-book -- play quiet, play loud, play quieter, play louder -- and this record marks the moment that they fully embraced this approach, but to me, there's a genuineness to their crescendo-core that bands like Explosions in the Sky simply cannot tap into.

Track listing:
1. The Flames Beyond the Cold Mountain
2. A Heart Has Asked for the Pleasure
3. Yearning
4. Are You There?
5. The Remains of the Day
6. Moonlight

Giant me on the other side

Monday, June 29, 2015

Leviathan - Ten (2001)


Regardless of controversy, or the fact that he is an American (a major faux pas in the global black metal community), Jeff Whitehead a.k.a. Leviathan is responsible for some of the most advanced black metal ever to be made. To me, of his numerous, untitled early demos, the tenth is the best. It finds him fully nailing down his sound -- an otherworldly, often sickly mix of dissonant guitars, kick-ass riffage, intricately programmed drums, dark ambient/drone, and monstrous, heavily treated vocals -- and still stands as one of his best overall releases. That's not the proper album art, though. I can't find an image file that's bigger than a thumbnail, and it's a shitty cover anyway (a closeup of Whitehead in a ski mask), so I just turned a Beksinski painting black and white, like Leviathan did for the cover of Verräter.

Track listing:
1. Heiress of Worms
2. Shrapnel
3. Red Sands
4. Those Slimy Things Are Real
5. Somnolent
6. Just Under Tainted Grace
7. Angelic Fece
8. Descent Through the Womb of the Moon
9. Outro

Screaming all the meat away
In an epileptic frenzy
Searching to not exist
The feet wait silent
In a pool of excrement and blood
And still the mouth gurgles forth
A black matter thick and putrid


More US black metal:

Demoncy - Joined in Darkness (1999)
Black Funeral - Ordog (2006)

Skin - Shame, Humility, Revenge (1988)


Shame, Humility, Revenge is the second of three albums from this Swans side project, consisting of Michael Gira and Jarboe. It continues along the same relatively melodic (still extremely dark and intense, of course) path that Swans had begun with Children of God, and like virtually all of Michael Gira's work, it's an exploration, and in some ways, a celebration of negativity in its many forms.

Track listing:
1. Nothing Without You
2. Everything at Once
3. Breathing Water
4. The Center of Your Heart
5. Cold Bed
6. 24 Hours
7. Turned to Stone
8. One Small Sacrifice
9. I Want to Be Your Dog

There's blood on your hands

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Iron Monkey - Iron Monkey (1997)


Gnarly, pissed-off UK sludge. Take drugs and worship the riff.

Track listing:
1. Fink Dial
2. Web of Piss
3. Big Loader
4. 666 Pack
5. Black Aspirin
6. Shrimp Fist
7. Cornucopia

Legacy of stench

Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul - Men Without Women (1982)


Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Bruce Springsteen - Chimes of Freedom (1988)

Steven Van Zandt's (of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band/Silvio on The Sopranos) first solo record. Men Without Women makes it clear just how greatly he contributed to the classic E Street Band rock/girl group/soul/folk hybrid sound, in that it plays like a lost Springsteen record, circa The River. Earnest, upbeat songs of love, lust, and heartbreak, embellished by classic soul horn sections.

Track listing:
1. Lyin' in a Bed of Fire
2. Inside of Me
3. Until the Good Is Gone
4. Men Without Women
5. Under the Gun
6. Save Me
7. Princess of Little Italy
8. Angel Eyes
9. Forever
10. I've Been Waiting

I spent my whole life just tryin' to find
Something I know I need but can't define

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Martin Rev - Stigmata (2009)


Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Martin Rev - Clouds of Glory (1985)
Suicide - A Way of Life (1988)

Even in the discography of an artist as experimental and unique as Martin Rev's, Stigmata is a truly abstract, singular record. Entirely devoid of percussion, these songs find Rev's reverb-soaked murmurs adrift against the musical backdrop of a synthetic symphonic orchestra. I seem to remember that the discussion surrounding this album was that his wife Maria passed away while he was making it, and this might explain the alternately tender (check out the gentle "Gloria"), restless, sorrowful, and incensed emotions that seem to be all over Stigmata.

Track listing:
1. Laudamus
2. Te Deum
3. Jubilate
4. Dona Nobis Pacem
5. Gloria
6. Sanctus
7. Salve
8. Spiritus
9. Domine
10. Exultate
11. Magnum Mysterium
12. Anima Me
13. Sinbad's Voyage
14. Paradisio

Daydreams

Friday, June 26, 2015

Meathook Seed - Embedded (1993)


Industrial metal with strong groove elements. Features Shane Embury and Mitch Harris of Napalm Death. Somewhere right between artful, cerebral heaviness and ignorant mosh.

Track listing:
1. Famine Sector
2. A Furred Grave
3. My Infinity
4. Day of Conceiving
5. Cling to an Image
6. A Wilted Remnant
7. Forgive
8. Focal Point Blur
9. Embedded
10. Visible Shallow Self

Infidel

More industrial metal side projects:

NAILBOMB
SCORN

Jan Garbarek - All Those Born With Wings (1986)


So far I've posted three albums on which (Norwegian saxophonist) Jan Garbarek performed, but not a single one of his many, many solo records. And while a better blogger might start you off with one of what are generally considered as his masterpieces -- Esoteric Circle, or Afric Pepperbird, for instance -- but this is what I'm listening to right now, and it's my favorite of his post-early 70s material. It's a true solo record, in that he plays all of the instruments, including sax (of course), flute, keys, guitar, and percussion, and it has this sparse, haunting quality that's unlike anything else he's done.

6 tracks, titled "1st Piece" through "6th Piece".

White noise of forgetfulness

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Werewolf Jerusalem - Confessions of a Sex Maniac (2011)


That's it. Fuck life. Here's a 4-CD compilation of harsh noise wall terror from a master of the style. I can't listen to shit like this all the time, but when I need it, it's all that'll work for me.

Track listing:
-Disc One-
1. Date for a Murder
2. Because of the Cats
3. Your Sweet Body for the Killing
4. Dagger Eyes
5. Interrabang
6. Because of the Cats (Live at the House of Tinnitus)
-Disc Two-
1. The Face at the Window
-Disc Three-
1. The Double
2. Blood! Blood! Blood!
3. Red Death / Black Death
-Disc Four-
1. Untitled (Featuring Baculum)
2. Untitled (Featuring The Whitehorse)
3. Untitled (Featuring Painful Vigil)
4. Untitled (Featuring The Rita)
5. Untitled (Featuring I Spit on Your Grave)
6. Untitled (Featuring Non Ho Sonno)
7. Untitled (Featuring Tissa Mawartyassari)

1-2-3-4, get your woman on the floor

Mazarati - Mazarati (1987)


Well, there's no way around this: Mazarati is a shameless rip-off of Prince and the Revolution. Released by Prince's Paisley Park Records, it's the exact same mix of 80s funk, chiming keyboards, pop beats, rock guitar shredding, and slightly effeminate vocals. Less effective songs, of course, but still, who the fuck doesn't wish there were a lost 80s Prince record floating around out there somewhere?

Track listing:
1. Players' Ball
2. Lonely Girl on Bourbon Street
3. 100 M.P.H.
4. She's Just That Kind of Lady
5. Stroke
6. Suzy
7. Strawberry Love
8. I Guess It's All Over

Make me shout

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Rudimentary Peni - Echoes of Anguish (1997), The Underclass (2000), Archaic (2004), + No More Pain (2008)



Perhaps the greatest of the OG British anarchopunk bands, the magic of Rudimentary Peni came from their lead singer, Nick Blinko, being a certified crazy person, and his allowing this to play a central role in RP's creative output, from their artwork to their increasingly deranged music (if you haven't yet, make sure to take in Cacophony at least once.) The just over one hour of music on these four EPs represents the entirety of the band's output since their last full-length, 1995's divisive Pope Adrian 37th Psychiatric, and they find the band cutting all of the musical fat, simplifying their approach into a minimal, primitive, almost early black metal-like approach, with an average of about three or four lines of lyrics per song.

Track listing:
-Echoes of Anguish-
1. The Flame of Insanity
2. In Memory of Pain
3. Dissolution
4. Only Death
5. Womb So Scorned
6. Time Passing
7. Echo
8. Voice
9. Stone
10. Trial By Separation
11. From the Heart
12. Your Secret Life
-The Underclass-
1. Captive of Atrophy
2. No Other Truth
3. Essence
4. Bequest
5. The Mirror
6. The Underclass
7. Unchanged
8. As Nothing
9. Choice of Evils
10. The Internal Censor
11. The Ocean of Misery
12. Clandestine Harem
-Archaic-
1. One and All
2. Suffer
3. In Crematorium Flame
4. Lost
5. The Rain
6. Mercy of Slumber
7. The Curse
8. The Enlightened Dreamer
9. X.N.H.S.
10. Farewell Tomorrow
11. House of the Void
12. Rehearsal for Mortality
-No More Pain-
1. A Handful of Dust
2. No More Pain
3. Eyes of the Dead
4. Prayer for the Unborn
5. The Death of the Author
6. Grave Object
7. Doodle Bug Baby
8. Annihilation
9. Sublime Fantasy No. 1
10. Pachelbel's Canon in E

A collection of empty cells
You are the crumbling walls of a prison

No-Man - Together We're Stranger (2003)


No-Man is a duo consisting of vocalist/songwriter Tim Bowness and multi-instrumentalist Steven Wilson, best known for his work with Porcupine Tree. With Together We're Stranger, they did away with all of their trip-hop leanings to explore more lush, sprawling, yet subdued territory than ever before, ending up with a sound that's half Pink Floyd circa Dark Side of the Moon, and half Talk Talk circa Laughing Stock. Not only is it pretty much inarguably their best record, it's easily one of my top five breakup albums. It's a little sappy, but it breaks my heart anyway.

Track listing:
1. Together We're Stranger
2. All the Blue Changes
3. The City in a Hundred Ways
4. Things I Want to Tell You
5. Photographs in Black and White
6. Back When You Were Beautiful
7. The Break-Up for Real

We step outside and face the poison weather
You and I are something else together

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Otesanek - Otesanek (2004)


Otesanek were a Philly band whose minimal approach to drone doom resulted in some of the heaviest, most difficult sounds to emerge from the scene. Drawn-out chords, anguished screams and gutturals, and slooow but severely disjointed rhythms -- it's not uncommon for the music to come grinding to a halt, sometimes leaving just the sounds of humming equipment for a few tense seconds. Think Ocean, but way gnarlier.

Track listing:
1. Oceans
2. Dead in the Park

When efficiency and ambition supersede natural parameters

U-Roy - Dread in a Babylon (1975)


Summer is here, y'all, and apparently this year that means that I'm listening to a lot of reggae, so here's some choice dancehall with tasty dub vibes.

Track listing:
1. Runaway Girl
2. Chalice in the Palace
3. I Can't Love Another
4. Dreadlocks Dread
5. The Great Psalms
6. Natty Don't Fear
7. African Message
8. Silver Bird
9. Listen to the Teacher
10. Trench Town Rock

Fly away

Want more?

Big Youth - Screaming Target (1972)
Bunny Wailer - Blackheart Man (1976)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Myrkskog - Deathmachine (2000)


Members of:
Odium - The Sad Realm of the Stars (1998)

Cacophonous, hyperspeed Norwegian blackened death metal with a dense, industrial atmosphere. Although this album is really, really great, I'd be remiss not to mention that the first song contains the line, "Strolling down Devil's Avenue 666".

Track listing:
1. Discipline Misanthropy
2. The Hate Syndicate
3. A Poignant Scenario of Horror
4. Sinthetic Lifeworm
5. Syndrome 9
6. Morphinemangled Torture
7. Deathfare to the Devil
8. Deathmachine
9. Pilar Deconstruction (Sydrome 9 Remix)

Absorb the black liquid
As the stains will send off the beast

Quella Vecchia Locanda - Il Tempo Della Gioia (1974)


Classically-infused Italian prog. Busy, lush instrumentation composed of -- in addition to the expected guitars/bass/drums/vocals -- piano, harpsichord, sweeping string sections, a choir, glockenspiel, and more.

Track listing:
1. Villa Doria Pamphili
2. A Forma Di...
3. Il Tempo Della Gioia
4. Un Un Giorno, Un Amico
5. É Accaduto Una Notte

This is my adopted daughter, Margaret

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Mouth of the Architect - Quietly (2008)


Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Mouth of the Architect - The Violence Beneath (2010)

Probably my favorite Oceanic-core record (excluding records by Isis or Neurosis, obviously.) Heavy and beautiful, with an excellent sense of dynamic and patience, and a deeply sorrowful emotional core, Quietly just does it right. File "Generation of Ghosts" under "Perfect Post-Metal Songs."

Track listing:
1. Quietly
2. Hate and Heartache
3. Pine Boxes
4. Guilt and the Like
5. Generation of Ghosts
6. Rocking Chairs and Shotguns
7. Medicine
8. A Beautiful Corpse

You could see it on their faces
Smell it on their lips


For more like this, try:

Callisto - True Nature Unfolds (2004)

Harry Bertoia - Continuum / Near and Far (1980) + Swinging Bars / Vulcans Play (1980)


The otherworldly, shimmering sounds one hears on Harry Bertoia records are made using what Bertoia calls Sonambient sculptures, one of which I actually had the opportunity to mess around with a little bit at his grandson's house. They consist of collections of wires -- some thick, some thin -- standing upright on a flat base, and are played somewhat like one might a harp, only more haphazardly, letting them ring and vibrate off of each other in a clanging, half-calming, half-disconcerting cacophony.

The song titles are all in the album names, so no need for a track listing.


Ocean mysteries

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Dolorian - When All the Laughter Has Gone (1999)


Unsettling Finnish blackened doom metal. The slow, heavy bits, punctuated by disturbing, high-pitched screams and ethereal keyboards, are offset by numerous extended, dark, dissonant clean sections. The stuff of nightmares.

Track listing:
1. Desolated Colours
2. My Weary Eyes
3. A Part of Darkness
4. When All the Laughter Has Gone
5. Collapsed
6. Fields
7. With Scorn

There's no need for consolation
There's no need for you, children of Jesus
There's no need for you


More nightmarish doom:

Beyond Dawn - Pity Love (1995)
Esoteric - The Pernicious Enigma (1997)

TransChamps - Double Exposure (2001) + The Fucking Am - Gold (2004)


Two collaborative efforts between instrumetallers The Fucking Champs (one of whom, you may not be aware, was a member of Weakling, one of the best US black metal bands) and weirdo post-rockers Trans Am. Unlike so many collaborations of this nature, these two bands merge together as one seamless, restlessly inventive package, darting from dark, driving, electronics- and percussion-led pieces to energetic, triumphant stoner riffage -- prepare yourself for the end of song breakdown on "Powerpoint" -- to low-key acoustic folk. Clearly, they recognized how well the first one, Double Exposure, went, so they went in for a second one, and these two records represent to me the best work either of these bands have ever been associated with, though to be fair, I haven't heard everything Trans Am's done.

Track listing:
-Double Exposure-
1. Give It to You
2. The Big Machine
3. First Comes Sunday Morning
4. Then Comes Saturday Night
5. Somebody Like You
-Gold-
1. Bad Leg
2. The Gauntlet
3. Doing Research for an Autobiography
4. Talking Liberties
5. Powerpoint
6. Acoustico Gomez
7. Elastico Gomez
8. Electrico Gomes


A single ray of light on an otherwise cloudy day

Friday, June 19, 2015

Tortorum - Katabasis (2014)


OK, it's been over a year since it came out, I'm posting this shit. Monumental Norwegian black metal that nods to both Deathspell Omega and Watain -- the two most influential true black metal bands of our time -- in its pursuit of blackened divinity. Katabasis is Tortorum's second LP, and my favorite black metal record of 2014. Rewards close, repeated listening. Take drugs, play it loud, and become the void.

Track listing:
1. Descensus
2. The Great Appetence
3. In Nameless Nonbeing
4. Severance and Perseverance
5. As the Light Falls to Slaughter
6. Into the Sixth Coil
7. Open Wide the Gates of Chaos
8. Attributions to the Dead
9. Beyond the Earth and Air and Sun

Seeking the black stone, beneath the inverted flood
With claws in the wet soil, submerged fingers blind
Hold me no funeral, but baptise my corpse in lightning
Where is my black stone beneath the waters?
Where is the illuminating light buried in the dark?
Where the indestructible bolt of wisdom blazes
The stone to crush phenomena, the weight upon all ephemera


More like this:
Acrimonious - Sunyata (2012)
Order of Orias - Inverse (2011)

Lee Clayton - Lee Clayton (1973)


Something about the hard drinking, hard times, and heartbreak of classic country just sounds better when it's coming from a relative unknown artist, doesn't it? It's just so easy to picture Clayton hitting the bar after playing a phenomenal set at a sparsely attended honkey tonk, knocking back whiskey, smoking Lucky Strikes, and getting wistful about the latest woman to have passed through his life the same way he passes through town after town. Essentially, I'm imagining his life to very closely resemble the plot of Crazy Heart.

This is a man whose song, "Ladies Love Outlaws", a hit for Waylon Jennings, was at least partially responsible for the term "outlaw country." Every song on his early albums is an absolute gem, and the fact that he never got famous is as heartbreaking as the words to "Bottles of Booze". His second album, Border Affair, is possibly even better than this one, in that some of its songs add Thin Lizzy-style twin guitar leads to the mix, but since it's already readily available at the Rockasteria blog, I'll contribute this nevertheless excellent record to the blogosphere.

Track listing:
1. Carnival Balloon
2. Bottles of Booze
3. Henry McCarty
4. New York City Suite 409
5. Mama, Spend the Night with Me
6. Red Dancing Dress
7. Danger
8. Lonesome Whiskey
9. Ladies Love Outlaws

Set me up, bartender, with as much fun as I can use

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Stielas Storhett - Vandrer... (2006)


First full-length from this Russian black metal solo project. Buzzing guitars, poorly recorded drums, high-pitched rasps, and reverb-drenched leads that lend the songs an ethereal atmosphere. Probably could have done without the 8-minute Burzum cover, though. Or the Darkthrone cover. Or both. Not that these are bad songs by any means, but unless you're at a show, who gives a shit about a faithful black metal cover?

Track listing:
1. Der Letzte November
2. Vandrer...
3. Grafin Dämmerlicht
4. Schmerzerfullter Zorn
5. Unholy Black Metal [Darkthrone cover]
6. Nymane
7. Stille Weisse Wildnis
8. Ihr Königreich
9. Erblicket Die Tochter des Firmaments [Burzum cover]
10. Dieses Eis Wird Niemals Schmelzen

The million hands of joy
Have something holy to burn


If you're feeling this, check out:

Nehëmah - Requiem Tenebrae (2004)

The Boo Radleys - Giant Steps (1993)


Remember that time the Boo Radleys made one of the all-time greatest indie rock records? No? It's okay, neither do most people. Doesn't mean it didn't happen, though. The songs on Giant Steps remind me of so many great bands. "Wish I Was Skinny" sounds like one of the best, most bittersweet songs that Teenage Fanclub never wrote, "Rodney King (Song for Lenny Bruce)" sounds like the Curve-Elephant 6 collaboration you never knew you needed, "Barney (... and Me)" sounds like psychedelic Belle & Sebastian, and the record overall sounds like the Sgt. Pepper of 90s shoegaze -- every song is its own unique, self-contained universe, yet when put together, they form a beautiful, cohesive tapestry of sound. There's even a Beatles reference at the end. Truly essential listening.

Track listing:
1. I Hang Suspended
2. Upon 9th and Fairchild
3. Wish I Was Skinny
4. Leaves and Sand
5. Butterfly McQueen
6. Rodney King (Song for Lenny Bruce)
7. Thinking of Ways
8. Barney (... and Me)
9. Spun Around
10. If You Want It, Take It
11. Best Lose the Fear
12. Take the Time Around
13. Lazarus
14. One Is For
15. Run My Way Runway
16. I've Lost the Reason
17. The White Noise Revisited

Hey, what's that noise?
Do you remember?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Arcana Coelestia - Nomas (2014)


Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Arcana Coelestia - Le Mirage de l'Ideal (2009)
Urna - Mors Principium Est (2013)

GODDAMN. Le Mirage de l'Ideal, Arcana Coelestia's last record (linked above), instantly earned a place on my list of all-time favorite doom metal records. And... I think that they might have managed to top it with Nomas. There's still that incredibly layered, cacophonous sound -- how many fucking guitars are on these recordings? -- but the production's way fuller than it was last time out, and for a band with such an intricate, lush approach to such crushingly heavy music, this is a very welcome enhancement. Plus, they added just a hint of black metal on a couple of tracks.

Track listing:
1. Nomas I
2. Nomas II
3. Nomas III
4. Nomas IV
5. Nomas V

Escaping the deterioration of this earth

If you like this, try:

Black Wreath - A Pyre of Lost Dreams (2009)
The Fall of Every Season - Amends (2013)

Night Shadow - The Square Root of Two (1968)


The sound of the true, late 60s psychedelic underground. Raw, acid-inspired garage rock.

Track listing:
1. Prologue
2. So Much
3. In the Air
4. Plenty of Trouble
5. I Can't Believe
6. 60 Second Swinger
7. Illusion
8. Anything But Lies
9. Turned On
10. The Hot Rod Song
11. The Hot Dog Man

Into clouds of acidity, unity, yeah, yeah!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Odium - The Sad Realm of the Stars (1998)


Killer, raging Norwegian symphonic black metal. Who knew that Norway had any good black metal bands? Fans of early Limbonic Art, prepare your earholes.

Track listing:
1. Winterpath
2. Towards the Forest Horizon
3. Palace of Forgotten Dreams
4. Thy Eternal Nightfall
5. The Sad Realm of the Stars
6. Northern Flames
7. Through the Sorrowfilled Forest
8. The Brightness of the Weeping Kingdom
9. Riding the Starwinds

Altering the state of being

More phenomenal Norwegian black metal:

Setherial - Nord... (1996)
Obtained Enslavement - Witchcraft (1997)

Scientist - Scientist Meets the Space Invaders (1981)


Spaced-out, posi dub vibes. Pretty hard to have a bad time while this one's on.

Track listing:
1. Beam Down
2. Red Shift
3. Time Warp
4. Cloning Process
5. Pulsar
6. Laser Attack
7. De Materialize
8. Fission
9. Super Nova Explosion
10. Quasar

Burning