Saturday, August 29, 2015

Arizmenda - Within The Vacuum of Infinity... (2009)

Genre: Black Metal
Country: United States

If you're an underground black metal fan who hasn't listened to this album, you've been messing up. Released in 2009, Within the Vacuum of Infinity... is the first record from Black Twilight Circle heavyweight Arizmenda, and already a genre classic. Like most BTC-affiliated bands, Arizmenda's sound doesn't reflect the freezing tempest of Scandinavia, but the swallowing spectrum of darkness itself. Arizmenda does this particularly well; musically shattering defenses and lyrically focusing on insanity, Within The Vacuum... is your mental breakdown set to a black metal soundtrack.

There is a certain denseness to Arizmenda's music that no other black metal band has touched before, or been able to replicate since. Claustrophobic is a term frequently used in black metal, and though it is certainly applicable here, it just doesn't do their sound justice. What they evoke is so much more complex than that. Discordant phrases dance to and fro, their intricacies subtlety woven into the performance in completely mesmerizing manner. Occasionally, the music will offer reprieve - beams of melody shining through the gloom- only to retreat back behind the impenetrable darkness, leaving nothing but your outstretched hands and thoughts of hope torn from your grasp. Uneasiness builds in your chest and hair stands to attention on the back of your neck when listening to this album - that is the power of Arizmenda's music.

Lyrically, Mordunbad 's (the sole member of of Arizmenda) words are simple, but equally as effecting. In "Drown In The Pains of Consciousness", he spouts, "Drown in the pain of consciousness/I am lost/ I am lost within the seas of my minds disease/Lost within the seas of my minds disease/ Lost." In reality, those are words that are hard not to relate to; who hasn't experienced self-doubt and loss of direction in the labyrinth that is our mind? His rhetoric may seem overwrought, but in the context of the song, where waves of dissonance crest and crash upon you, it couldn't be said any better.

I have no qualms whatsoever in stating that Within The Vacuum of Infinity... is one of the best black metal albums ever created. The way it creeps under your skin, latching into your every insecurity to perpetuate them further is terrifying, but also unfathomably gratifying. Black metal was always meant to make you feel - whether it was the Arctic temperatures of the second wave, or the sense of mystique embedded in the Les Legions Noires - and Arizmenda unquestionably achieves this throughout the entirety of their debut record. They are now the leaders of USBM scene, and if you ever need to remember why, let Within the Vacuum of Infinity be your reminder.

Those Beaten Path Of Confusion

Friday, August 14, 2015

Volahn/Blue Hummingbird On The Left - Debajo del Simbolo del Sol (2014)

Genre: Black/Death Metal
Country: United States

Volahn and Blue Hummingbird On The Left are two Black Twilight Circle bands that most adhere to the collective's sense of pride in their Mayan roots. The former relishes in creating tales of the culture's numerous evil spirits and gods, while the latter's black/death metal style is the perfect accompaniment to the stories of their proud warrior heritage. In this way, their decision to join up for the split release Debajo Del Simbolo Del Solo was ideal, contributing a duo of tracks that gloriously celebrates their ancestry through ritualistic extreme metal battering.

The first song, Volahn's "Kamikal O Juluwem" is his most aggressive to date; forgoing the Spanish flourishes that until this point have defined his music, this track demonstrates a sense of brutality that has never been seen by him before. Simplifying his generally impressive instrumental work and letting his love for the South American bestial black metal scene shine, "Kamikal O Juluwem" juxtaposes monstrous grooves and undeterred speed to great effect. The music is straightforward, but also equipped with Volahn's unique sense of melody, emanating an aura of mysticism that keeps the track from falling into "one-note" territory.

Blue Hummingbird On The Left's contribution "Debajo Del Simbolo del Sol" is one of their strongest songs yet. On previous releases such as their EP Bloodflower, or "Storm"  (their track from Black Twilight Circle compilation Tliltic Tlapoyauak), the music was Blasphemy-inspired black/death metal at its finest, but always diminished by lackluster vocals. Here, Tlacelel's howl is a far cry from the gasping, breathless delivery seen on previous efforts, and the song benefits greatly because of this. On paper, the combination of flute and war metal may seem sketchy, but Blue Hummingbird... execute it flawlessly, with the instrument not only acting as bridge to their roots, but perpetuating the overall chaos of the band's music. Track is wonderfully anthemic, and easily the most memorable thing the band has ever put to tape.

With only two tracks and clocking in at less than ten minutes, Debajo del Simbolo del Sol is meant to be a short, concise, punch in the face. There is no subtlety, no overarching concept, just two tracks of decimating war metal that are another excellent addition to the Black Twilight Circle canon.

Hail Death

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Heart on my Sleeve - "This Failure is Not on Me" (2015)

Genre: Screamo
Country: Sweden

First things first: JUST LOOK AT THAT ALBUM ARTWORK. It's absolutely gorgeous. Even if I didn't know that this band was awesome, I would be enticed to check it out purely from that standpoint. Also, there is something just so "screamo" about it, which I love.

Anyway, for a teensy history lesson, Heart on My Sleeve is a band formed from the ashes of my favorite screamo act of all time, The Hope and the Failure. Their first release Blood is Not Thicker Than Wine was a good, heartfelt, if not standard display of screamo/melodic hardcore. Since then, the band has become increasingly better, slowly adding post-rock elements into their passion-fueled outbursts.

This brings us to "This Failure is Not on Me", a track released from their upcoming debut full-length In The Midst of Here and Nothingness. The song contains every trait that the band has become known for these past few years; twangy, clean guitar riffs, spoken word passages backed by post-rock instrumentation, and cathartic, overdriven escapades. It's an excellent, memorable track and definitely has me psyched for the whole album; hopefully it does the same for you too.