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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The Round Up Tapes // Submission Edition Vol.2

That whole thing where I promised to be more active with this kinda failed but here’s a couple of cool releases that you might find interesting.

Circaic – False Prophetic Roads

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If you like huge, technical death metal with a side of melody then Circaic might be the band for you. Melding the darkness with the light isn’t a new tactic, but Circaic’s stab at melodic death metal is solid and will see them on their way to something bigger. False Prophetic Roads still has a hint of immaturity about it – some sections in the opening track “The Spewing of Venom” don’t quite hit the mark or flow as well as they could with the kind of cohesion you’d want to hear – but the young band have something here to be worked on and occasionally there’s a little hint of what that could be.

You can hear some tracks from False Prophetic Roads on their bandcamp page.

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The Round Up Tapes // The Finality of 2014 Edition

2015 is upon us and I’m still trying to lock down things from last year. I have been terribly lax but my main resolution for this year is to keep up with the blog and with things people have kindly sent my way. These five releases are ones which have crossed my e-desk in the latter stages of 2014 and ones which deserve a little shouting about.

Atrum Tempestas – Néant

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Atrum Tempestas tow a melancholy line on their first full length and Néant whispers with the pain of loss and the cold, harsh landscapes of winter are felt quite strongly throughout the desolate gaze of this record. “Quitter ceux qui étaient déjà partis” begins the album on a majestic and grand scale with the track floating on soft moments of sadness, bitter inflections of guitar and frost-filled vocals before “S’éclipser” moves into view with shimmering iciness and rasping, hoarse voices. The duo behind this Finnish project have created a record that, at times, is really wonderful yet it suffers a tad in terms of cohesion. Strong DSBM sections are matched by gorgeous guitar progressions that speak of hopelessness and sorrow which gives an emotional aspect and an aura of misery that Atrum Tempestas will do well to incorporate into future releases. Néant struggles a little in its closing moments and while the piano section is certainly beautiful, the way it has been worked through the music is jarring at best. Still, Néant is an excellent start for the band, and with time and work they could become something much more than that what we hear here – indulge in any case, for Atrum Tempestas are worth watching.

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