Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Wizar'd - Infernal Wizardry (2008)

Australian occult stoner doom. Unpolished, Satan-worshipping riff-worship, with some dusty organs and surprisingly beautiful harmonized guitars. I feel like I'm cleaning house around here because I keep on posting shit that I've been meaning to post for years.

Track listing:
1. Horned Lord
2. Witchwither
3. Infernal Wizardry
4. Depressive Holiday
5. Crushing Gothic Slime
6. Gloomwing
7. Plague Ship of Doom
8. The Megalomaniac

More like this:

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Gary Bartz - The Shadow Do! (1975)

Some of that sweet, that funky stuff from jazz saxophonist (and Baltimorean!) Gary Bartz. In addition to handling all vocals and playing synth, he brought in (among others) Michael Henderson, the Mizell brothers, and several members of Mtume, and the results are lush, smooth jazz-funk of the highest order.

Track listing:
1. Winding Roads
2. Mother Nature
3. Love Tones
4. Gentle Smiles (Saxy)
5. Make Me Feel Better
6. Sea Gypsy
7. For My Baby
8. Incident

More like this:

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Lake of Tears - Forever Autumn (1999)

Melodic, rock-leaning gothic metal from Swedish institution Lake of Tears. Forever Autumn still has one foot planted in the band's epic doom origins, but it's swept up in a more accessible whirl of ethereal keyboards, neofolk-y acoustic guitars, harmonizing violins, and mid-paced autumnal melancholy. Honestly, it's really melodramatic, and the slightly yarl-y, crooning vocals are a bit reminiscent of James Hetfield, which effectively put me off this record initially, but after a few listens I got really into it, and now it's one of my absolute favorite gothic metal records. (Also, get the new album, it's really good.)

Track listing:
1. So Fell Autumn Rain
2. Hold On Tight
3. Forever Autumn
4. Pagan Wish
5. Otherwheres
6. The Homecoming
7. Come Night I Reign
8. Demon You / Lily Anne
9. To Blossom Blue

If you like this, try:

Saturday, September 25, 2021

All in the Golden Afternoon - Magic Lighthouse on the Infinite Sea (2011)

Generally laid-back psych/dream pop/shoegaze. The kind of album that reminds me how much I, contradictory as it may seem, loathe music-writing, as it forces the lazier writers among us to trot out, over and over again, the same list of tired adjectives (see: "laid-back", also could have been "hazy", "heavy-lidded", etc.) to stand in for that beautiful, rejuvenating, and possibly indescribable feeling that we all get when we hear a great record. Or I could say something dumb like: this sounds like a really nice, lazy summer day spent laying on blankets in the sun, high on mushrooms. But that doesn't capture the emotional nuances at work here, as it's certainly not all sunshine, smiles, and highs. Don't listen to me, listen to this record.

Track listing:
1. Advice from a Caterpillar
2. Tidal Wave
3. Symphonies of Spirits
4. 30th and Sanchez
5. Gulf Coast Highway
6. Up All Night
7. In the Sky
8. Less and Less
9. The Pool of Tears
10. In a Box
11. Beneath the Setting Sun
12. Up All Night - Western Arms Remix [bonus]

If you like this, listen to:

Mythos - Pain Amplifier (1995)

Finnish blackened death. While most black/death takes a more head-banging, ass-kicking route, Mythos' approach was slightly unorthodox. They tapped into the murkier realms of death metal while retaining generally faster, blast-heavy tempos that at times lean towards grind -- which they ultimately embraced with an early Carcass cover -- and injected it with black metal's tendencies towards ritualism and grim melody. 

Track listing:
1. In the Beginning... (Of the Outro)
2. Hung on the Wings
3. Unreal Moon
4. In Veiled Language (True Version)
5. The Pain Amplifier
6. A Song by the Way
7. Verses in the Fire (Heavy Version)
8. The Last Orgy
9. Strange Things Happen at Night
10. ... The End (Of the Outro) / Reek of Putrefaction

Also listen to:

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Isengrind - Golestan (2007)

Haunting ambient-psych-folk-drone from French musician Solange Gularte. Guitars, cello, jangling percussion, various woodwinds, keyboards, wordless vocals.

Track listing:
1. Morgenstern
2. Virgin Rain Fog
3. Cum Mortuis en Langua Mortua
4. All Tiny Animals
5. Perseid Meteor Shower
6. Convicta et Combusta
7. N'ed'el'a
8. With Its Mouth to the South & Its Tail to the North
9. Path of Ice
10. How Deep Is the Mud?
11. Golestan
12. Perchtmilk

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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Povl Dissing & Burnin Red Ivanhoe - 6 Elefantskovcikadeviser (1971)

Collaboration between two Danish acts: singer Povl Dissing and prog band Burnin Red Ivanhoe. It's essentially a folk rock album with an air of psychedelia and some light touches of jazz and prog, it's beautiful, I have no idea what any of it is about, and I love it. Psych fans: stick around for "Tingel-Tangelmanden". 

Track listing:
1. Introduktion
2. Wallifanten
3. Narrevise
4. Snehvidekys
5. Kometen
6. Ta' fri ta' fri
7. Et samfund
8. Tingel-Tangelmanden
9. Introduktion til Medardus

Also listen to:

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 with 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. [Edit: I posted it, and I wasn't lying about how fucking long it was.] 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

Similar listening:

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Lunar Reign - Magnum Opus (2008)

Dense, chaotic US black metal. Somewhat in the realm of Emperor's last two albums, but without the symphonic elements. Ambitious, knotty songs marked by stellar musicianship that, regardless of how much kick-ass riffage they contain, will probably inspire more stoned headphone listening than headbanging. In writing this, I discovered that the mastermind behind this band, Matthew David Ponce (aka Spectral) died in March of this year, and that's really sad, but I felt like I had to mention it.

Track listing:
1. Prologue
2. Ring of Gyges
3. Transposition
4. Vortex
5. Diabolical Magus
6. Black Pullet
7. Laws of Pluto
8. Excerpt Nebulae
9. Magnum Opus
10. Without My Weapons
11. Black Hole / Thirst for Horns
12. Epilogue

More black metal from outer space:

Erik Levander - Kondens (2008)

Glitch excellence from this Swedish composer. I'm not entirely sure what I'm hearing on this record, but it sounds like a mix of electronic and processed (and unprocessed) organic elements, anchored by nervous, barely-there beats, with an end result that kinda feels like an abstract, glitched-out, electronic take on post-rock. The shoegaze-y wall of distortion that hits midway through "Oskärpa" takes me somewhere nice.

Track listing:
1. Sekund
2. Oskärpa
3. Manen Viskar
4. Tölvupop
5. Vid Fönstret
6. Kvad
7. Hitta Hem
8. Tribut
9. Sömnbrusten

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