Friday, July 31, 2015

Enthroned - Prophecies of Pagan Fire (1995)

Straight Belgian black metal, no chaser. This record is so underrated. Why the fuck do people want black metal to be original? Tremolo picking, blast beats, some keyboards, raspy screams, the occasional ripping solo, and lyrics about the three W's (winter, woods, and wolves) are all you will ever need, and anyone who says otherwise probably thinks that Sunbather is an important black metal record.

Track listing:
1. Intro (Prophecies of Pagan Fire)
2. Deny the Holy Book of Lies
3. Under the Holocaust
4. Scared by Darkwinds
5. Tales from a Blackened Horde
6. At Dawn of a Funeral Winter
7. Rites of the Northern Fullmoon
8. Skjeldenland
9. At the Sound of the Millennium Black Bells
10. As the Wolves Howl Again

The black goat of the eternal woods

Maybe try these too:
Svartsyn - ... His Majesty (2000)
Dark Fortress - Tales from Eternal Dusk (2001)

White Rainbow - Sky Drips Drifts (2007)

Hypnotic, pulsing, ambient psych from this Portland, OR musician. One gloriously sprawling song, divided into five moments, that builds from layered, echoing clean guitars to incorporate hand drums, loops, chanted vocals, and more into its bright, thick haze.

Track listing:
1. Sand Sift
2. Sundune Sandset Sundrip
3. Sun Shadow Drifter
4. Sand Sifter Sky Shifter
5. Dream Shakers of Exalted Sunlife

Warm clicked fruit

If you like this, try:

Farflung - The Belief Module (1998)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Meatjack - Days of Fire (2003)

Darsombra - Climax Community (2012)

Raging Baltimore sludge metal. Found Meatjack through their split with Damad, but it wasn't until a few months back that I heard this, their final and best album. Heavy, darkly melodic, and oddly catchy in way that reminds me of Remission-era Mastodon, but with a more sinister, Neurosis-y vibe. Too bad about the nu metal album cover, though.

Track listing:
1. Sleep
2. 50 Years
3. Cold Flight
4. Face Down
5. Days of Fire
6. Sea of Tranquility
7. One More
8. Blue
9. .45
10. Crawl

This is just the beginning

Gila - Gila: Free Electric Sound (1971)

Far out, jammy, largely instrumental psych/krautrock heaven. Endless bass mantras, gauzy synths, chiming guitars, and the occasional strung out vocal, all slow-burning through a cosmic void.

Track listing:
1. Aggression
2. Kommunikation
3. Kollaps
4. Kontakt
5. Kollektivität
6. Individualität

Goodbye sober day

Similar vibes:

Pärson Sound - Pärson Sound (2001)
Sergius Golowin - Lord Krishna Von Goloka (1973)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

While Heaven Wept - Sorrow of the Angels (1997)

Crestfallen, epic US doom metal, with elements of heavy and progressive metal. Beautifully crushing, with melodic (but not overly so) riffage, lush keyboards, and a truly gifted vocalist in Tom Philips, whose quavering, pitch-perfect delivery breathes a sense of passion into lines like, "Sleepwalk to the gallows/To expel my hollow soul."

Track listing:
1. Thus with a Kiss I Die
2. Into the Wells of Sorrow
3. The Death of Love
4. September

The dark clouds, a portrait of her
The black-cloaked face of death
Her empty eyes a hallway to heaven

You might also like:

Funeral - Tragedies (1995)
Ereb Altor - By Honour (2008)

Rex Holman - Here in the Land of Victory (1970)

First-rate psychedelic folk rock. Lush, organic instrumentation, subtly diverse songwriting, and surreal lyrics colored by Holman's deep vibrato. Imagine a psychedelic Fred Neil, maybe.

Track listing:
1. Here in the Land of Victory
2. Pink Lemonade
3. Rowin'
4. Today Is Almost Here
5. Listen to the Footsteps
6. Red Is the Apple
7. Sit and Flatter Me
8. Copper Kettles
9. Come On Down
10. Debbie
11. The Chosen One
12. I Can't Read My Name

Chandelier falling on the chair made of dust
Dust made of perfume, petals, and lust
Crimson tiara in a bed of May wine
Queen of the heart and all of it mine
Red is the apple, sparkle and shine

You might also like:

Perry Leopold - Christian Lucifer (1973)
Tír na nÓg - Tír na nÓg (1971)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Spearhead - Decrowning the Irenarch (2007)

Ass-kicking, war-ready British black/death, played with deadly precision and just the right amount of hook-y groove.

Track listing:
1. Prolegomenon
2. Decrowning the Irenarch
3. When the Pillars Fall
4. Road to Austerlitz
5. Interregnum
6. Iulianus Augustus Apostata
7. In the Face of the Absolute
8. Thus Always to Tyrants
9. Mors Triumphalis
10. Brotherhood of Arms
11. Aftermath

To live inglorious
In defeat and disgrace is to die each day
To die in war in glory
Is to live forever

More like this:

Sathanas -
La Hora de Lucifer (2012)
Svart Crown -
Witnessing the Fall (2010)

Sarah Hopkins & Alan Lamb - Sky Song (1985)

Haunting, etherial, collaborative pieces from composer/musicians Alan Lamb and Sarah Hopkins. Woozily euphoric drones and cello account for the core sound. Maybe it's the drugs talking, but I consider Sky Song as the aural equivalent to a human body melting into a cloud of mist that hangs over a clear sea.

Track listing:
1. The Winds of Heaven
2. Sky Song
3. Cello Chi
4. Mirages
5. Flight of the Wild Goose
6. New Journey

Ascension for protection

More like this:

Constance Demby - Sunborne (1980)
Daniel Kobialka - Cosmic Ecstasy (1981)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sick - Filth and Ugliness (2005)

Vomit Orchestra - Macabre Paradigm (2005)

Raw, simplistic, depressive US black metal. Members of Black Funeral, Emit, Xasthur, Woods of Infinity, Vrolok, and many others.

Track listing:
1. Black Forest
2. Filth and Ugliness
3. Perverse Faith
4. Depravation
5. In Hoc Signo Vices

Through bloodred shadows and bitter skies

Sieben - Ogham Inside the Night (2005)

Driving, hypnotic neofolk. Layer upon layer of violin over simple, propulsive drum patterns, and understated but emotive vocals, with various guests and instrumental embellishments throughout. Among the more accessible pure neofolk records I've heard.

Track listing:
1. Ogham the Sun
2. Ogham the Spirit
3. Ogham in the Soul
4. Ogham the Moon
5. Ogham the Melody
6. Ogham the Knowledge
7. Ogham on the Hill
8. Ogham Inside the Night
9. Ogham the Blood
10. Ogham in the Ground
11. Ogham the Blade
12. Ogham Carved the Tree

We saw Death in the field and ciphered in the stars
He said he'd plant a seed to show us
How it ends is how it must start

If you like this, try:

Zoe Keating - One Cello x 16 = Natoma (2005)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Råg I Ryggen - Råg I Ryggen (1975)

Heavy Swedish prog of the highest order. The perfect mix of groove-y, almost Sabbath-y riffs, synth and guitar noodling, and high-minded prog art. If you haven't heard this yet: you're welcome.

Track listing:
1. Det Kan Väl Inte Vara Farligt
2. You Know It Ain't Easy
3. Spångaforsens Brus
4. Jan Banan
5. Naked Man
6. Queen of Darkness
7. Sanningsserum

You mistreat me

More psychedelic Swedes:

Goat - World Music (2012)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Omega Centauri - Universum Infinitum (2012)

Expansive, atmospheric black metal. Tom Vallely of Lychgate plays every instrument -- if you haven't yet, and you like this, definitely check them out.

Track listing:
1. Ad Infinitum
2. Elusive
3. The Oort Cloud
4. I Am
5. Samsara
6. Fallen
7. May Whatever Cleanses Me Take Form
8. A Mirror of Life


If you like this, try:

Ascension - Consolamentum (2010)
Kozeljnik - Deeper the Fall (2010)

Babe Ruth - First Base (1972)

First Base is one of those albums that never get much play until summer rolls around. Vocalist Janita Hanna belting out lyrics about rock-a-rollin' and easy livin' amidst twin guitar leads, wailing sax leads, and half-funk-half-prog grooves only seems to make sense with sunshine on your face and wind in your hair. Which is not to say that there's not emotional and sonic depth -- see the strings and flute on the haunting "The Runaways" -- but overall, these are summer jams, straight up, and you will want to put "The Mexican" on every road trip mix/playlist you make for the rest of your life.

Track listing:
1. Wells Fargo
2. The Runaways
3. King Kong
4. Black Dog
5. The Mexican
6. Joker

"The time has now come," said the man with the gun
To the crowd as they all turned away

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Nekrasov - Extinction (2010)

Austrian solo black metal with elements of dark ambient and noise. Hyperspeed blasts, tremolo picking, and distorted howls plunge headlong into extended sections of droning blackened noise. Plus, there's a Man Is the Bastard reference to let you know that Nekrasov is down.

Track listing:
1. We Are Just an Indifferent Interpretation of the Black Plague
2. Disillusion
3. Matter Is the Bastard
4. Void into Nonvoid
5. Pre-Fetal Non-Mantra
6. Chant the Name of God in a Thousand Languages Until All Is Blood and Feces
7. No Room for Liberation Found 'Here' or 'Now'
8. Extinction

Black space expansion

The Gary Burton Quintet with Eberhard Weber - Ring (1974)

Dynamic ECM excellence. The glimmering sound of Burton's vibraharp is usually front and center, with expertly subtle backing from Pat Metheny, Mick Goodrick, Eberhard Weber, and others.

Track listing:
1. Mevlevia
2. Unfinished Sympathy
3. Tunnel of Love
4. Intrude
5. Silent Spring
6. The Colours of Chloe

Visible thoughts

For more from Burton and Weber, check out:

Eberhard Weber - Fluid Rustle (1979)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sam Rivers - Sizzle (1975)


Sam Rivers - Contours (1965)
Sam Rivers - Crystals (1974)

Recorded the year after his avant-free jazz masterpiece, Crystals, the rhythmic, at times funky Sizzle was a considerable deviation for Rivers. Although plenty of free-form solos and avant-garde tendencies remain intact, and it's way less 'mainstream' than many fans would have you think, it's still somewhat of an outlier in his discography.

Track listing:
1. Dawn
2. Flare
3. Flame
4. Scud

Effusive melange

Monday, July 20, 2015

Abstract Spirit - Horror Vacui (2011)

Immense funeral doom from Russia. Drawn-out riffs, echoing clean guitars, dissonant leads, ghostly keyboards, possibly some cello in there, an overall dense, suffocating atmosphere. It's everything you love or hate about funeral doom, and nothing else.

Track listing:
1. За пределами сомкнутых век
2. Post Mortem
3. Пульс
4. Vigilae Mortuorum (Interludium)
5. Без меня... Мёртвое завтра...
6. Атрофия мировоззрения
7. Horror Vacui

Pompous pillars in a line
Paranormal flashings

More like this:

Arcana Coelestia - Le Mirage de l'Idéal (2009)
Mistress of the Dead - I Know Her Face from the Tombstone (2006)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ilyas Ahmed - Between Two Skies (2005)

Abstract, formless psych folk. Each song feels like a requiem for a half-remembered sorrow, complete with loose, mantra-like acoustic guitar work, sparse percussion, and ghostly, murmured vocals.

Track listing:
1. Black Midas
2. As Those Above
3. Night Song
4. To You Soon / Silence the High
5. Amajan
6. This Dust
7. Samanjhna

The hand of the imposter is the promise of my own

Friday, July 17, 2015

Mistress of the Dead - Buried (2006)

Mistress of the Dead - I Know Her Face from the Tombstone (2006)

Sparse, draining, ugly, perfect funeral doom. How Mistress of the Dead isn't one of the biggest names in the subgenre is beyond me.

Track listing:
1. Buried
2. Cinerary Rain
3. Vortex

Grey light of creatures
Sentenced to infernal anguish
It's pulling me down so strong
Tossed in spiral nothingness

The Flesh Eaters - A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die (1981)

Dark, filthy, furious, yet catchy, sax-driven punk rock and roll delivered with the vicious, debaucherous abandon (and free jazz influences) of Fun House-era Stooges. Been listening to this one on repeat.

Track listing:
1. Digging My Grave
2. Pray Til You Sweat
3. River of Fever
4. Satan's Stomp
5. See You in the Boneyard
6. So Long
7. Cyrano De Berger's Back
8. Divine Horseman

Cock the gun, pull the trigger
What you've got is one dead singer

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Arcturus - Aspera Hiems Symfonia (1996)

Hey, there, long time no see. Here's some atmospheric, epic, folk-tinged Norwegian black metal.

Track listing:
1. To Thou Who Dwellest in the Night
2. Wintry Grey
3. Whence and Whither Goest the Wind
4. Raudt Og Svart
5. The Bodkin and the Quietus (... to Reach the Stars)
6. Du Nordavind
7. Fall of Man
8. Naar Kulda Tar (Frostnettenes Prolog)

All remembered
They are the reminders of all
All to us unknown, unknown

More Norwegian black metal:

Odium - The Sad Realm of the Stars (1998)
Setherial - Nord... (1996)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

David Torn - Cloud About Mercury (1987)

Mark Isham - Castalia (1988)
Michael Shrieve - Stiletto (1989)

One of my top-ten ECM records, easy. Pulsing synths, exotic instrumentation, soaring guitars, tribal percussion, and other things that the old me would have hated, but present-day me goes apeshit for. Speaking of me, I'm going camping, so bye.

Track listing:
1. Suyafhu Skin... Snapping the Hollow Reed
2. The Mercury Grid
3. Three Minutes of Pure Entertainment
4. Previous Man
5. Network of Sparks, a) The Delicate Code
6. Network of Sparks, b) Egg Learns to Walk... Suyafhu Seal

Warrior horsemen of the spirit thundering over hills of doubt to a place of hope

Friday, July 3, 2015

Miserere Luminis - Miserere Luminis (2009)

A one-off, collaborative duo featuring members of Gris and Sombres Forêts, both excellent Canadian black metal bands. Beautifully bleak and anxious, as only great depressive black metal can be.

Track listing:
1. Cineris
2. Le Mal des Siècles
3. Ciel Tragique
4. IV
5. Birth of New Ages
6. The Mist
7. Senectus
8. Miserere Luminis
9. Exulcerare


Kaada - Thank You for Giving Me Your Valuable Time (2001)

Previously on OPIUM HUM:
Kaada & Patton - Romances (2004)

Sample-based weirdness from this Norwegian musician. Looped beats, bachelor pad organs, grainy samples, and Kaada's twisted vocals.

Track listing:
1. Care
2. Mainframe
3. Black California
4. Burden
5. No You Don't
6. Go Brown
7. Volkswagen
8. All Wrong
9. Honk
10. I Need You
11. Thank You for Giving Me Your Valuable Time

Junkyard nostalgias

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Edward Vesala - Nan Madol (1974)

Avant-garde jazz led by Finnish composer/drummer Edward Vesala. Don't be fooled by the album art and the serene title track that opens the record -- things get pretty bonkers, pretty fast.

Track listing:
1. Nan Madol
2. Love for Living
3. Call from the Sea
4. The Way of...
5. Areous Vlor Ta
6. The Wind

Star flight