This year has been incredible for music and metal in particular. Choosing records to include on a “best of” list is a personal thing and so I chose records that I enjoyed for their creativity, emotion, spirituality or message.
I did some cool things in 2018 in terms of writing and I went to some new places. Switzerland felt more like home each day. My day job in interesting and I’m learning a lot. I took lots of photographs and some will be included on an album release.
I hope to continue writing for Metal Hammer, The Quietus, Scene Point Blank and sporadically, myself in 2019 and I hope to hear a lot more exciting music.
Last month found The Round Up Tapes exploring Devouring Star’s The Arteries of Heresyand further to that study a conversation with Devouring Star’s founder, JL, was had. Below are the results of that conversation which was conducted via email.
What was the driving force behind creating Devouring Star? What does the name mean to you?
The driving force on creating Devouring Star was the necessity for a creative platform for my concepts, it comes down to the simple fact that music was the only way of expressing these things for me and metal music in particular due to the fact that I am and was fond with it.
The name ‘Devouring Star’ is a reference to a black hole, yet it is also a metaphor for something that consumes yourself ultimately.
Do you see Devouring Star becoming an all-consuming part of your life or are you able to separate that side of yourself from the world?
No matter what, life itself is as boring as it is for everyone else, no mysticism required here. We eat, we shit, we sleep. So naturally Devouring Star isn’t a part of the daily routines. However the concepts in Devouring Star present my personal beliefs in such a way, that it is always a part of me and it is something that is separated from me unto music. Back in 2013 when Devouring Star started, has however affected my life dramatically.
Finland’s Devouring Star plays with evil as theme but does so in less Satanic ways and rather explains that mankind itself is the ultimate embodiment of sin, that humans are the scourge and that religion is not the hopeful tenet that we have been led to believe.
The Arteries of Heresy is Devouring Star’s second full length and the person behind it all, JL, is using the band as a vessel of deliverance for personal enlightenment. There’s a sense that the evil that lurks within is one of primal matter and on “Procreation of Blood” the chaos is laid bare for all to see. Within the maelstrom are subtle grooves that can be latched on to in order to orientate oneself but for the most part the song, and the album as a whole, is an ode to embracing sin and taking it into yourself in order to fulfil your purpose on this earth.
The Round Up Tapes is generally a “hey, I liked this and maybe you will, too,” kind of deal, but sometimes I get sent albums that I may not have come across otherwise – the world of music is huge, of course, and hearing everything is nigh on impossible. With that in mind here are three debut records that were sent my way recently that I enjoyed and perhaps you will too. They all encompass metal in various ways – whether it’s the more straightforward black metal of Bleakwood, or the melancholy of Dawnwalker or the doomed passages from STAHV – but all of the music featured here is passionate and worth your time.
2017 has been an interesting year for music, for realisations, for speaking out and for making changes. Personally, I made a big move to another country (Switzerland) which has been overwhelming at times. I got a job fairly quickly and I’m still trying to figure this country out but mostly I feel settled here.
I thought I should say something here because it’s been at least one hundred years (four months) since I did and somehow a round-up slipped my mind in 2016. It’s been a busy year for writing and sadly this little blog has suffered due to other commitments. I continue to write for Metal Hammer and recently joined the team at the Quietus. I’ve written for Noisey a number of times this year and Scene Point Blank continues to be a big part of my writing life.
This year I contributed to Metal Hammer’s Top 100, the metal list for tQ and Scene Point Blank’s Top 25 – which will be a more general list that includes things other than metal but here on Bleak Metal I will list a few records that I enjoyed very much this year.
2018 has already begun in the writer’s world and I’ve heard a few records already – Watain’s Trident Wolf Eclipse, Tribulation’s Down Below, Portal’s Ion, Summoning’s With Doom We Come and Erdve’s Vaitojimas – and so far the calibre of music coming out in the first few months of the new year is extremely high. My plans are to do more here on Bleak Metal (which I say every bloody year) and as long as my hands don’t fall off then it should be possible.
Thank you for reading this little blog and for taking an interest.
Couch Slut aren’t taking any prisoners on their follow up to 2014s My Life as a Woman and on Contempt they continue to mine the terrifying real situations the band members have found themselves in. On first glance their music is a mind-melding mesh of noise, old school hardcore and even some nods to second wave black metal, but Couch Slut introduce increasingly off-kilter moments to create an atmosphere of dread and unnerving fury. Front-person Megan Osztrosits wraps her harsh, visceral tones around opener “Funeral Dyke” and its bizarre segues from raging punk to weirdo black metal and even a subtly beautiful riff that soars suddenly over all before fading into groove-laden guitar and screams.
Cavernlight – As We Cup Our Hands and Drink From the Stream of Our Ache
Cavernlight’s debut is a record wrought with absolute despair and in the five passages that make up this work, there is no hope to be found. The members are clear in their utter desperation and in As We Cup Our Hands and Drink From the Stream of Our Ache there is almost a willingness to revel in that sadness, to let it be all-consuming and to allow it to take over. Some doom holds a little light but for this Oshkosh band there is nothing at the end of the tunnel. For a debut, As We Cup Our Hands… is extremely assured; the themes run beautifully throughout and the differing elements are brought together succinctly to create a palette of darkness. Doom is the key but noise, ambient and abstract tones filter through the shadows to build an aura of claustrophobia that is unrelenting in its scope.
Former Worlds use differing palettes of sound to create a landscape that is ravaged by the harshness of life. Soft, spinning drones echo in the quieter moments while filth-laden sludge bears the brunt of their rage in the opposing loud passages, all within one epic, seventeen minute track. Their first release, Photos of Eve IX – XVI, showcases the quartet’s ability to turn things on a head with barely any notice, yet it’s tight and cohesive and the inclusion of Erin Severson’s voice gives them a little leverage over other bands of this ilk.
Dutch avant-horror group Dodecahedron are back after a seemingly eternal wait for their follow-up to the incredible Dodecahedron from 2012. Using their time wisely, the quintet have dredged another terrifying prospect from the depths and in Kwintessens they have a record that moves their avant-garde black metal ever further into the realms of chaos.
“Prelude” forces you directly into the abyss with frenetic beats and jarring guitars vying for space in the heat surrounding echoing voices and industrial machinations before “TETRAHEDRON – The Culling Of The Unwanted From The Earth” whirls into view on discordant rhythms and off-kilter attacks. M. Eikenaar’s vocals are guttural and filled with spite, his approach one of total hatred and in line with the despair that echoes throughout the music, which often turns on its own head and becomes increasingly more claustrophobic as time progresses.
The eight years since ColdWorld’s debut Melancholie² has only served to increase the attention on Georg Börner’s one man project, and while the somewhat enigmatic German hadn’t outright said the band was over, the hope for a follow-up dwindled with each passing year. Melancholie² is a record that speaks of emptiness, despair and sadness and is often deemed a starting point for anyone interested in depressive black metal. It’s by no means perfect, but the atmosphere that is captured is one of an artist using his medium to guide him through moments of anguish and with new record, Autumn, that feeling is wrought in ever more stunning ways.