Bleak Metal Presents: GOLD w/Bast // Shrines // Grave Lines

It’s been a little quiet on the Bleak Metal front of late, but fear not! Live music is on the way and heck, it’s free! In association with Old Empire  and The Black Heart, a night is planned on October 29th that brings together all that is spooky and esoteric – a great Halloween combination.

Live music will be upstairs and downstairs will host a party until super late. GOLD are heading over for the evening from the Netherlands and a whole heap of local talent makes up the rest of the line up. Bast (who are hopefully showcasing new sounds), Shrines (a deliciously avant-garde project) and Grave Lines (a new prospect but one that is on the up).

Entry is free! But the capacity of the live space tops out at 150. Music will start at 8pm. Costumes are encouraged.

It’s been roughly three years since Bleak Metal’s first ever show, and this could be the last so come hang.

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The Round Up Tapes // Volume VIII

Bleak Metal turns five years old today. What?!? Where does the time go? Time flies….etc etc…. But honestly, five years is a long time and also no time at all.

I’ve chosen to talk about three bands that are shaping the future of metal (one them has been doing so for as long as I’ve been listening to metal) and will continue to do so. They are bands that push forward, bands that are passionate and bands that create music that speaks to all aspects of the human condition. Two are bands releasing their debut records and one is a band on their seventh (and probably the most “mainstream” album you’ll ever see on here). Here goes….

Ancst – Moloch

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Ancst have been making music for a number of years (they were reviewed here way back in 2013) yet Moloch is their first official full length. That’s not to say that the band have been taking it easy, oh no, this is a project that have no concept of taking it easy and the time since their inception has been coloured with EPs, splits, compilations and a rigorous touring schedule. Moloch is the sum of all that effort and is a record that speaks of despair, darkness, inner turmoil and social awareness. It’s furious for the most part but there are small shining moments that are shaded with sadness and regret and pack an emotional heft that is all too real.

Ancst talk of the huge problems we face as a collective society and Moloch is their manifesto; the album allows them to vocalise their concerns and the result is a furious, deadly record that has no room for breath. It’s fast and moves with an impressive speed, opener “Moloch” setting the pace immediately. “Behold Thy Servants” incorporates a gorgeous guitar line that works against the harsh, punishing vocals and creates a varied harmony that settles under the skin before blowing all semblance of peace away with a ramped up section that leaves you winded. Ancst are terrifying in their ability and the melding of black metal and hardcore works entirely in their favour. There’s room for intensity and sadness in equal measure and Moloch holds both close to its core. The album is an emotional journey and truly a step up for the band. They have so much to say that ten tracks doesn’t seem like anywhere near enough time, but for a band so prolific, finding the time to voice their opinions won’t be difficult at all.

Check Ancst’s bandcamp for information on buying Moloch and their back catalogue.

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The Round Up Tapes // Volume VII

Wow. It’s been some time, huh? There’s a myriad of reasons but none of them are very exciting and the problem of being in way too much pain to sit at the laptop and type for hours has been the biggest issue. But! There’s plans afoot and a procedure is booked for the end of April. Cool! I’d like to say that that will fix the issue of me just not being very productive…..but who knows? We’ll see.

Anyway, lots of great music has been released and lots of great music is on the way so to get back to regular programming here are some records that are wonderful and worth some attention. Plus, here are some links to other sites where I have talked about Oranssi Pazuzu’s latest and Wolvserpent’s new EP.

Cobalt – Slow Forever

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Cobalt have had a much publicised, troubled history of late, with founding member Erik Wunder removing collaborator Phil McSorley from the line-up soon after discovering his heinous antics on the world wide web (it’s been documented countless times so far be it fro me to get back into such a shitty experience). After a lot of talk of new music, it was touch and go for the band and moving forward seemed a long way off. Yet, Wunder drafted in vocalist Charlie Fell (also going through a public break up with Lord Mantis) to add to his musical palette. Wunder is a delirious musician; he has crafted a stunning and epic double album and allowed Fell to explore his voice in much more scope than he has previously.

Cobalt tread a much different path than they have in the past, leaving many semblances of their black metal past firmly with 2009s Gin (the last time we heard anything from the band). Slow Forever instead incorporates other subtle influences – from the Americana style of the opening lines of “Hunt the Buffalo” to the bass driven punk of “Cold Breaker” to the sludgy howls of “Slow Forever” and the amped up dissonance of album closer “Siege.” It’s a varied and dynamic work that is filled with passion, despair, new-found drive and the occasional breath of beauty. The aforementioned track suddenly gives way to gorgeous, soaring guitars that move against the horror preceding it and allows a little spark of light to filter through. Of course, such serenity isn’t built to last and soon the song falls back into furious beats and pained screams. A devastating reminder that there is always a calm before a tumultuous storm.

Slow Forever can be streamed and purchased here.

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Bleak Metal Presents: Crowhurst with Caïna and Warren Schoenbright

Bleak Metal is venturing into a slightly different realm for a show featuring Crowhurst and a whole evening of noise-led performances. It’s something we haven’t hosted before and so it promises to be quite an interesting event. Playing alongside the American project will be Caïna (who have recently contributed to an upcoming Crowhurst record) and the intriguing Warren Schoenbright. We will perhaps add one more act but that’s not confirmed at this time.

The show will be held at New River Studios and tickets are priced at £8.50 in advance with the door price being £10. A PayPal link is below!

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The Memory Remains. 2015 in review.

2015 is over and 2016 looms, full of promise and optimism but, in all likelihood it’s going to be much the same as the year before it and the year before that and the year before that……etc etc…. Every year I try not to have too many expectations about what the following twelve months will hold and instead try to take one day at a time and hope that through some kind of cosmic circumstance, that things will be OK. That my family will stay well and that they will be happy and that the struggles they face will become less.

2015 was, on the whole, a good year. My day job went well and continues to do so. For the most part my family are doing great and I saw my little brother get married in the summer, which was incredible despite having to sit in a church for that length of time. Writing took a little bit of a back seat and I found myself struggling to get as excited about it as I used to. It turned into a chore and I thought it best to allow myself some time to regain the joy in writing. I still get paid a little for some work and I continued to do that, but this blog and other online outlets suffered as a result.

I found myself not listening to as much music as I could have and usually do. That I wasn’t listening to a record unless I was writing about it (which as you can see from above, I didn’t do too much of) and so my pleasurable listening came from the occasional musical crush – you don’t want to know how many times I’ve listened to Enthrone Darkness Triumphant in the last six weeks.

As well as that, I have a physical ailment (it’s a super gross ganglion on my right wrist) that is preventing typing for extended periods of time and I finally went to see my GP about it. Fingers crossed that during the beginning of this year I get some news on when it can be operated on. The recovery is a month or more, so I’m not sure how things will go from there but it will save a lifetime of pain and medication.

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Bleak Metal Presents: Terzij de Horde with Laster and Interiors.

Bleak Metal will be hosting Terzij de Horde at Camden’s Black Heart this October 23rd for a show to celebrate the release of their debut album, Self.

Self has been many years in the making with the band first forming in 2007 under a different name. Since the switch to Terzij de Horde in 2010, the Dutch group have been slow but steady in their rise to prominence and Self marks the next stage for a band who have much more to give.

The album focuses on the problem of self. Six tracks explore different ways to live, or fail to live, with self and world. They embody the struggles these paths and strategies create: blindness, suffering, a desire for release, the destruction of self and others as well as the turning towards -or away from- life.

Self as prison, self as a source of power, self as vessel for manipulation by outside forces, self as shield and as inner world, self as medium for Dionysian rapture, self as something to be overcome.

In the six songs that constitute ‘Self’, the rage of black metal is paired with a cathartic destruction as well as a contemplative, sometimes crawling melancholy. Instead of navel gazing or the worship of constructs, ‘Self’ is analysis forced. A cerebral celebration of liberation at all costs and a requiem for spheres rendered apart.

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Panopticon – Autumn Eternal 

It’s tough to find something new to say about a project that you’ve talked about on numerous occasions, and when that critique is always positive, it becomes harder to say something that will mean anything to anyone other than yourself or the band in question. It becomes something that everyone reading has read before, and will read again, yet sometimes the music and the heart is so true, that it doesn’t matter. That you love it so much and feel it so keenly that you need to spill the words on the electronic page in order to feel complete. Often records come along that need to be spoken about, that need to be felt, that must be heard and while this introduction is more a way of justifying reviewing Panopticon yet again, it’s also a way of putting my own thoughts together.

Where previous records have gone from being hugely crust/black metal (Panopticon) influenced to political (Social Disservices) to more folky and historical (Kentucky), Autumn Eternal holds back on the traditional elements and instead wraps subdued moments into layers of harsher, bleak tones. The Panopticon that we’ve come to know on later releases is mostly evident on opener “Tamarack’s Gold Returns” – a sweet nod to the turning of the colour of the leaves of the Tamarack tree – with the use of Johan Becker’s gorgeous strings adding depth and emotion to the instrumental opening.

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