Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Theologian - Some Things Have to Be Endured (2013)

Dense, heavy death-industrial-rooted sounds wrapped in a dark, ethereal shroud. Within the confines of death-industrial, Some Things Have to Be Endured manages to cover a great deal of stylistic ground -- I hear traces of darkwave, noise rock, and power electronics -- and demands to be listened to as one piece. Seriously jaw-dropping stuff. So glad they gave it that fucked-up album art (and released it in a DVD case) or I might never have stumbled across it while sifting through the stacks at my old work.

Track listing:
1. Black Cavern Myopia
2. The Conjoined Deviant Procession
3. Writhing Corpus Landscape
4. Gore-Stained Ramparts
5. Like Love, Only Real
6. Grand Guignol
7. Ectothermism
8. Welcome to the Golden Age of Beggars

Also listen to:

Monday, September 20, 2021

Svart - Våran tid är förbi (2009)


Powerful Swedish black metal. Svart generally tended to fall in with the DSBM scene -- albeit with more compositional prowess than most -- but with Våran tid är förbi, the project (a one-man endeavor) spread its wings and took flight for a more majestic, spacious brand of misery. Three epic pieces built on slow, subtle chord progressions over near-relentless blasting, and colored by raw but clear, wall-of-sound production.

Track listing:
1. Den absoluta tomheten
2. Mot dödens slätter
3. Dessa kedjor, dessa bojor

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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Guitar Red - Hard Times (1976)

First and only solo album by Guitar Red, aka Chicagoan guitarist Paul Johnson. Hard Times rides the fine lines between soul, funk, and old-school rhythm and blues, with a lo-fi, synth-y, drum machine-driven twist. I get that Guitar Red was the man's stage name and that he had a career outside of making this album, but guitar really takes a backseat to synth here. The kind of record that was destined from day one to be ignored by the many and absolutely adored by the few, then reissued by some boutique label a few decades later. Wish I could remember which of the old mp3 blogs I got this from -- Mutant Sounds, maybe? 

(The title track is not to be confused with the classic Baby Huey track of the same name.)

Track listing:
1. Hard Times
2. Fantasy
3. Share Your Love
4. Space and Time
5. Sad Day
6. Disco from a Space Show
7. Love Walked In
8. Sad Day - Inst.

If you like this, try:

Friday, September 17, 2021

Cindytalk - Camouflage Heart (1984)

Experimental post-punk/other from two ex-members of The Freeze (UK not US). Songs of sheer dread vomited into existence as if by The Birthday Party playing in a pitch-black industrial cavern.

Track listing:
1. It's Luxury
2. Instinct (Backtosense)
3. Under Glass
4. Memories of Skin and Snow
5. The Spirit Behind the Circus Dream
6. The Ghost Never Smiles
7. A Second Breath
8. Everybody Is Christ
9. Disintegrate...

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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Kataklysm - The Prophecy (Stigmata of the Immaculate) (2000)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:

In which Canadian death lords Kataklysm jump headfirst into their own skewed version of melodeath. Hyper-blasts; tremolo-picked riffs that at times come off as blackened; hoarse, shouted vocals that can be a dealbreaker for some listeners; some chugging, core-ish moments; and an overarching concept involving demonic/alien invaders bringing about the end of the world, which taps into turn-of-the-millennium anxiety surprisingly effectively ("1999! 6661! Turn of the millennium! The end is coming!")

Speaking of dubious old favorites: I first got into Kataklysm when I was 17, via this slightly older hesher dude I used to hang out who found it unacceptable that I liked Darkest Hour so he made me listen to "Astral Empire"; it didn't convince me to stop liking Darkest Hour (I still do, fight me), but I dug it. Then when I got the rest of The Prophecy off of Napster, I loved that, too, and listened to it 400 times while taking bonghits in my bedroom.  So despite its status as one of Kataklysm's least liked records, it's my personal favorite. Plus "The Renaissance" is one of my all-time favorite album closers -- that quasi-d-beat shit makes me wanna punch a demon-alien in the nuts.

Track listing:
1. 1999:6661:2000
2. Manifestation
3. Stormland
4. Breeding the Everlasting
5. Laments of Fear and Despair
6. Astral Empire
7. Gateway to Extinction
8. Machiavellian
9. The Renaissance

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Eternity - ... and the Gruesome Returns with Every Night (2004)

German black metal. Near-flawless second-wave worship. Years ago, I was putting together a list of my top 100 black metal records and this record made the grade; unfortunately, I never was able to get the list in an order that I liked, and probably never will. Suggested discussion topics: suicide, murder, Satan, and nuclear annihilation.

Track listing:
1. Misanthropic Suicide
2. Raging
3. Jede Nacht...
4. In the Depths of Solitude
5. Revelations of Darkness
6. Verhöhnt
7. Grim Reapers Rapture
8. Glorification of Evil
9. Nuklearer Sturm

More German BM:

Monday, September 13, 2021

Papercuts - Mockingbird (2004)

Downcast indie pop from SF songwriter Jason Quever. Gauzy, organ-heavy melancholy with sleepy vocals and a 60s-referencing aesthetic. The kind of earnest, un-self-conscious record that really makes me miss the pre-social media days of the early aughts indie boom.

Track listing:
1. Mockingbird
2. Poor and Free
3. A Fairy Tale
4. My Ivory Tower
5. Pan American Blues Pt. 2
6. Tulips
7. December Morning
8. Oh Nobody's Son
9. Judy
10. Well I Don't

More sad indie folks:

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Uzi - Sleep Asylum (1986)

This mini-LP is the only release by Uzi, a short-lived band featuring a young Thalia Zedek (Live Skull, Come, others). A great mix of no-wave, art punk, and the drone-y alt rock dirges that Zedek would perfect with Come, with disorienting tape loops courtesy of Phil Milstein. All things considered, it's surprisingly accessible.

Track listing:
1. Criminal Child
2. Pale Light
3. Gabrielle
4. Ha-Ha-Ha
5. Collections
6. Underneath

If you like this, listen to:

Friday, September 10, 2021

Machines of Loving Grace - Gilt (1995)

Dark, grimy, very 90s alt rock with juuuust enough gestures towards the band's electro-industrial past -- a sample here, a drum machine here, a serrated guitar tone there -- to associate them with bands like NIN and their legions of followers. This record was, I'm guessing, an attempt to capitalize on their having landed a song on the extremely popular soundtrack to The Crow, but they just didn't have much mainstream appeal, and called it quits midway through recording the follow-up. I honestly can't even tell if Gilt is any good or it's just nostalgia that keeps me coming back year after year.

Also, I don't know what is wrong with me, but I've been on a dubious old favorites kick, and before this, I wrote a fucking diatribe (I'm serious, it's without a doubt the longest post I've ever written for this blog) on the first Psychotica record, an album and also-ran band that literally no one has cared about in over two decades. That post probably ain't gonna see the light of the day -- we have top men working on it right now. I even briefly considered doing a post on Extra Fancy, who are one of those alt rock bands who kinda sound like noise rock by default simply because they're utterly incapable of writing an effective melody. Somebody send help.

Track listing:
1. Richest Junkie Still Alive
2. Kiss Destroyer
3. Suicide King
4. Animal Mass
5. The Soft Collision
6. Solar Temple
7. Tryst
8. Casual Users
9. Twofold Godhead
10. Last
11. Serpico

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Thursday, September 9, 2021

Richard Harris - The Yard Went on Forever (1968)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Richard Harris - A Tramp Shining (1968)

For all the derision it attracts, "MacArthur Park" is an extremely strange piece of music, and its massive success as a single probably surprised everyone involved in its recording and release. To follow it up, Harris (well, Jimmy Webb, who actually wrote and arranged the entirety of both this album and A Tramp Shining) leaned into that song's artfully overblown melodrama, and generated a towering song cycle of heartbroken symphonic vocal pop that holds together even better than its predecessor.

Track listing:
1. The Yard Went on Forever
2. Watermark
3. Interim
4. Gayla
5. The Hymns from the Grand Terrace
6. The Hive
7. Lucky Me
8. That's the Way It Was

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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Magister Dixit - Andar and the Curse of Azagath (2000)

Pitch-perfect symphonic black metal from the Quebecois underground. Fantastical themes matched by busy, melodic, keyboard-heavy epics. The keyboardist can actually play, too. For a band that was clearly working on a budget, this (and all their stuff) is extremely well-executed. I got this record way back in the early days of Soulseek when I had practically zero real-life connection to the world of metal, and based purely on quality, I assumed that they were really well-known, which they should be.

Track listing:
1. Civilizations of the New Days
2. The Land of Andar
3. Dancing Under a Fullmoon Awaiting the Final Battle
4. The Epoch of Unblessed Tragedies - The Curse of Azagath Part 1
5. Reunion of the Four Elements - The Curse of Azagath Part 2
6. The Firestorm - The Curse of Azagath Part 3
7. Azagath's Dream - The Curse of Azagath Part 4
8. Iced Are the Eyes of Winter
9. Mors Certa Vita Incerta
10. Absence of Light
11. The Burning End

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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Monoland - Cooning (2001)

A top-tier obscurity of German shoegaze bliss. Starts out sounding like it's gonna be some really great Loveless-worship, then quickly dives into a deep, shimmering pool of ambient dub.

Track listing:
1. De Pale
2. Cooning
3. Motel Fumatore
4. MC Cann
5. Orcin
6. Moon
7. Voodoo
8. Embrace
9. Honolulu

If you like this, you should hear:

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Robin Scott - Woman from the Warm Grass (1969)


Before he became M, new wave one-hit wonder, Robin Scott was just Robin Scott, verbose folk rock singer given to psychedelic flights of fancy. This is sadly the only record he ever did in this style, but if you're into this kinda thing, it's a real gem.

Track listing:
1. The Sailor
2. Song of the Sun
3. The Sound of Rain
4. Penelope
5. The Day Begins
6. Woman from the Warm Grass
7. I Am Your Suitcase Lover
8. Mara's Supper
9. Point of Leaving
10. The Purple Cadger

More along these lines:

Saturday, September 4, 2021

State River Widening - Cottonhead (2004)

Third and final album by London post-rock trio State River Widening. Their core sound of interwoven acoustic guitars and busy, almost-jazz-like drumming remains, but it's fleshed out by strings, xylophone (or some other melodic percussion instrument), keyboards, the (sampled) voice of Anne Briggs, and more.

Track listing:
1. Crown
2. Touched
3. Cottonwood
4. Lowlands
5. Kinfegrinder's Song
6. Desertesque
7. Cottonhead 1
8. Madder Hues
9. Unspinning
10. Cottonhead 2

If you like this, you should hear:

Friday, September 3, 2021

Akelei - De Zwaarte van het Doorstane (2010)

Dutch atmospheric doom. Melodic and epic, with downcast, reverb-heavy clean vocals, chiming slow-builds, and beautifully layered sound lifted right out of the post-rock playbook. I always get sad this time of year, as I feel the last bits of summer slipping between my fingers, and this time around it's compounded by some severe homesickness, so don't be surprised if this turns into a sad bastard blog for a bit. Wait, is this already a sad bastard blog?

Track listing:
1. Verlangen
2. Meer dan je ziet
3. De zwaarte
4. Een droom in 6/8
5. Duett

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