This month, it’s looking like a very metal-heavy ‘Now Playing’, so sorry about that if it isn’t your thing. So, in no particular order, here’s what I’ve been listening to this month.
Boris – Flood (2000) & Boris at Last –Feedbacker- (2003)
I’m seeing Boris at ArcTanGent festival later this month, and despite my long-standing love for the band, I rarely dip into any of their drone material (shameful, I know). Revisiting 2000’s Flood, which 2014 Josh found a rather dull listen, I found myself with a newfound appreciation for the album’s repetitive, long-form structure. While some sections still fall flat for me – ‘Flood I’, for instance, features a riff which only seems to irritate me the more it’s looped throughout its almost 15-minute duration – the latter part of the album’s dark, meditative and ambient qualities make up for any shortcomings. Feedbacker features a similar philosophy of repetition and atmospheric composition, though it is easily the more consistent of these two albums. Relics of the more conventional Akuma no Uta, released the same year, also find their way into some of the sections, though not in a way that detracts from its traditional drone qualities. If anything, Flood and Feedbacker have made me more excited than ever to delve further into Boris’ huge catalogue of releases; onto Amplifier Worship next, most likely.
Earth – The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull (2008)
Earth, another band I really ought to like, but have rarely sat down to properly listen to. From someone who has only heard early works like Extra-Capsular Extraction (1991) and Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version (1993), Earth have always been – in my mind – nothing more than a predecessor to other drone acts like Sunn O))) and the aforementioned Boris. Said past works feature mostly down-tuned guitars with minimal playing, where the sustain of the notes and the texture of the guitars are as much a part of the songwriting as the structure itself. However, compared to their early releases (Earth 2, etc.), The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull feels more akin to psychedelic rock played at half-speed. There’s plenty of bluesy twang and huge chords in the guitar playing, with a clear affinity for the slow progression of post-rock and spaciness of psychedelia. There’s a greater emphasis on space and clarity, compared to the muddy drones of their early releases, in a way that’s quite refreshing.
Planning for Burial – Below the House (2017)
What was at first a curious listen took me by surprise with how truly crushing and emotional it is, blending the heaviness and edginess of sludge metal with the emotionality and spaced-out sounds of shoegaze and post-rock, Below the House is a record full of frustrated yearning. Featuring a diverse sonic palette, ranging from the punishing opener ‘Whiskey & Wine’, the eerie ‘Below the House’ or the pained ‘Warmth of You’, multi-instrumentalist Thomas Wasluck explores the trappings and frustrations of isolation – be it emotionally or geographically. You can buy it directly from Thomas Wasluck himself via Bandcamp here.
Angel Witch – Seventies Tapes (2017)
Angel Witch were a favourite of mine back in secondary school – my NWOBHM fanboy period – and admittedly I thought the band must’ve broken up by now. Much to my surprise, this month they released a compilation of early demos via Bandcamp, with all proceeds from purchases being donated to victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in June. Featuring early incarnations of tracks like ‘White Witch’ and the devilishly dark ‘Baphomet’, fans of old-school British metal would do well to check this out. The band currently have this release as pay-what-you-want on Bandcamp here.
A Silver Mount Zion – He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corner of Our Rooms… (2000)
Closing off with some gorgeous post-rock by A Silver Mount Zion, a Godspeed You! Black Emperor-adjacent project known by numerous other titles, changing with each incarnation of the group. Being a Godspeed-affiliated project, the music of A Silver Mount Zion shares the same melancholic beauty as its sister band, yet while a GB!YE record feels as though it could fill the size of a stadium, He Has Left Us Alone feels more akin to chamber music in how it creates a smaller, more intimate and personal space. From what I have read of this album online, I understand this is an essential post-rock listen, and am inclined to agree.
If you got this far, thanks for reading! As usual, here’s a playlist of this week’s discussed albums, with a few extras thrown in.