In early 2014, New Jersey-based black metal band Hercyn sent me a copy of their debut release, the excellent Magda. To say that I was blown away by the twenty-four minute, single track demo would be an understatement; this was the kind of gloomy, neo folk-tinged black metal I had been yearning for more of ever since Agalloch released their classic The Mantle back in 2002. A subsequent split with Thera Roya spoke to the band’s dedication to continuing to refine their sound, but it also left me wanting more. Fortunately I don’t have to wait any longer, as Hercyn are about to release Dust and Ages. Indeed, the band’s first full length makes good on the promise of the their previous shorter releases, delivering a pair of epic tracks (plus an intro and outro) that are easily the band’s most accomplished and fully-realized works to date. Curious to know more about the band’s inner workings and the creation of Dust and Ages, I sent the band a slew of questions which they graciously answered in great depth via e-mail.
Like any good metalhead, I try to keep track of all the shows happening in my neck of the woods, even though I can only make it to a fraction of them. This is how Belgium’s Goat Torment popped up on my metal radar. Turns out the band will be tormenting Sacramento as part of a handful of West Coast dates in conjunction with their appearance at California Deathfest in Oakland (no, I will not be in attendance), which is right around the corner.
Every few years, Candlelight Records releases a really cool black metal album and then does jack shit to promote it. Back in 2013, it was Throne of Katarsis’ The Three Transcendental Keys. This year it’s Chaos Magick, the second full length from Finland’s Saturnian Mist.
This past weekend, my wife and I ventured down to Anaheim to get our Disneyland fix. But the magic kingdom wasn’t the only destination on our agenda; Mrs. IG built some time into our busy itinerary to make a stop at the mighty Dark Realm Records. For those unfamiliar, Dark Realm is the Los Angeles area’s only all-metal record store and is run by brothers Rick and Bay Cortez of the legendary Sadistic Intent. I first visited the shop roughly six years ago and was blown away by the selection of CDs, shirts and various other heavy metal goodies, so I couldn’t wait to finally make my second pilgrimage.
1. I hope to be able to cover more ground. Let’s face it, a metric fuck-ton of metal albums get released each year, and my lazy ass covers only a small handful of them, meaning that year after year there are tons of albums I’d like to cover that slip through the cracks. Round-up style pieces seem like a pretty good option for spreading the love and giving more worthy albums some digital ink.
2. The more I listen to metal and write this blog, the more I’m starting to realize that not every album needs a five hundred word review. It’s entirely possible that I’m running out of shit to say about metal, but I honestly think a lengthy, in-depth review is a bit of a time-waster when you can just go listen to the damn album yourselves with a few mouse clicks and form your own opinion.
3. I discover and re-discover old shit just as often as I listen to new shit. I often want to write about the older music I’m listening to, but not every used CD score or re-discovery of an old album is worthy of a Top 100 Albums post. I’m hoping that this will give me the opportunity to talk about older albums, be they universally recognized classics or hidden gems on a regular basis.
Sacramento gets a ton of great shows, but we’ve been more than a bit lacking in the black metal department of late. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the shit out of seeing the likes of Melt Banana, Ufomammut and -(16)-, but I’ve also been absolutely dying for the visceral experience that only a straight-up black metal show can bring. So, I was extremely grateful to Wretched Earth Productions for treating us to this killer lineup of Cali-bred BM at Starlite Lounge, which is quickly turning into my go-to spot for kick-ass metal shows.
Are you guys getting tired of me gushing about Caligari Records yet? Well if you are, too bad! The Florida-based label continues to put out some of the finest underground metal you’re likely to come across while leaving no genre stone un-turned. The label’s latest batch of releases speaks to the impressive diversity of the roster.
After years of listening to mainstream metal, Cradle of Filth were one of the first “extreme” bands I latched onto as a wee lad. As such, it has pained me to watch them slowly but surely become a shadow of their former selves. I’m not entirely sure what went wrong after Nymphetamine (some fans would argue that CoF went to pot well before that) but it seemed that Dani and the boys were damned to linger in the limbo of mediocrity forevermore following that last gasp of greatness, as evidenced by a lengthy string of tepid albums such as Thornography and The Manticore and Other Horrors. The music was uninspired and Herr Filth’s voice sounded shot, leading me to largely turn my back on this once well-regarded symphonic/gothic/black metal institution.
Of the handful of cassette-centric labels I’ve developed relationships with over the past few years, Sol y Nieve is surely one of the most exciting. While they aren’t the most prolific, they stress quality over quantity, and their passion is evident in every aspect of every release, from the music itself on down to the often elaborate packaging. The label was recently gracious enough to send me a parcel overflowing with releases including the debut demos from Kafirun and Essene.
Things up to now have been quiet for San Francisco’s Pale Chalice. The band released their debut EP Afflicting the Dichotomy of Trepid Creation via The Flenser back in 2011, and I think we can all agree that in today’s metal climate four years is a freakin’ eternity between releases. But give just one listen to Negate the Infinite and Miraculous, the quintet’s inaugural full-length for new label home Gilead Media, and it will become readily apparent that Pale Chalice favors quality over quantity.