Vile Creature - A Steady Descent Into The Soil, and Antibody - Space Qveen

Sadly, I don't write here nearly as much as I want to. It's just a matter of time, or a lack of it. I'm still as passionate as ever about music, and there are so many things I want to share and get readers excited about. And as little time as I have to work on this, sometimes things just push me to say "fuck everything else, people HAVE TO hear this." These two bands I'm writing about now are an example of that.

Both of these bands identify as anti-oppressive and queer, so if you've got a problem with that, I will not so-kindly instruct you to fuck off, and don't come back. Ever.

Trying to think back to how I was exposed to these bands... I think I saw that the folks at Broken Limbs Recordings were doing some distro on the Vile Creature tape, A Steady Descent Into The Soil.  I was intrigued, so I found the band's Bandcamp page... one listen and I was absolutely hooked. This two-piece from Saint Catharines, Ontario, Canada makes sludge metal of the absolute highest quality. Slow... in-your-face... unavoidable heavy... with an oppressive yet cathartic atmosphere that is still quite melodic and catchy at times. It grabs you, pulls you in, and won't let go. But once you've listened, even though you're probably emotionally exhausted, you want to go back for more because you feel somehow more free. The cathartic quality of this band is without incredible. I am absolutely dying to see them live, because I simply can't imagine how powerful the live show must be. For vinyl lovers, what I understand is that A Steady Descent will be issued on vinyl in the coming months by those same folks at Broken Limbs. Definitely a record to watch for.

And then I saw on Vile Creature's Facebook page that that they were sharing the stage, either for a show or a series of shows, with another Canadian band called Antibody. So naturally, I figured Antibody must be pretty good as well.

... little did I know just how god damned good they were. Again, I was (and continue to be) simply blown away. I'm just not sure the words exist that will do any justice to how good Antibody truly is. Definitely a different sound from Vile Creature, but that same heaviness is ever-present. The vocals, in the case of Antibody, give the music an urgency that cannot be understated. In listening to Space Qveen, I seriously feel like I'm either about to die or that I'm about to kill. And I don't know which is more terrifying. This tape is bleak as fuck. No hope, no bodies, no masters. And once again, once you've listened through the tape in its entirety, as the closing vocals absolutely rip you to shreds, you feel a release that is absolutely incredible. It looks as if the tape is no longer available from the band (though you can get a tour poster and/or some pins from the band's Storenvy), but I certainly hope there will be a repress for those of you who were not fortunate enough to get one. For now, the download of both the demo and the Space Qveen tape will have to suffice, both available from Antibody's Bandcamp. Follow them on Facebook, and catch a show if they play in your area. Seriously, don't miss them.

Download both of these now, and by all means SUPPORT these bands in any way that you can.  Give in and let them crush you. It's worth it in the end.

Panopticon - Autumn Eternal, and Nechochwen - Heart of Akamon

I haven't written anything in a long while, and for anyone who that means anything to, I apologize. I've written stuff but it all ends up sounding like crap, to me at least. So I'm putting my pride aside and trying to recommit myself to this, because supporting these artists and sharing awesome music with you guys means something to me, and hopefully, to you. There's so much I want to share with all of you, so many things that I'm so unbelievable psyched about that you'll just have to forgive me if my writing sounds like garbage. My heart is in the right place - just keep that in mind.

First and foremost, the time has come for a new Panopticon record, and as always, that is a huge reason to celebrate. I probably sound like a broken record in that I say the same thing every time Austin Lunn releases a record- "he's outdone himself" or "he just keeps getting better" or whatever. Be that as it may, but it doesn't change the fact that it's absolutely true. It's gotten to the point where everything in the Panopticon catalogue is just so stellar that I can't even compare them to each other anymore. They're all different pieces of music, and they all have their own merits. They all blow me away, and they all leave me awestruck. The forthcoming release of Autumn Eternal  is especially timely, and I'll admit that the cool not-quite-yet Autumn breeze blowing through upstate New York tonight is what has compelled me to finally get on here and post this. This is as warm a record as Panopticon has made - beautiful in its melancholy and resplendent like the turning colors of the landscapes in the fall - but it is, after all, a black metal record, so there's no shortage of in-your-face aggression and rage. The two things that pull this record together, though, are the stellar songwriting and instrumentation. Austin was an impressive songwriter and musician when those first Panopticon records were released, but he's on another level now. He's probably most often hailed for his amazing drumming, but Panopticon is really the entire package. Put all of that together with the uncompromising, unbridled emotion which Austin brings to every single note of each and every release and you've got a record which should move you like no other.

Autumn Eternal will be released in the USA by the almighty Bindrune Recordings, where preorders for the CD edition are now available (2LP vinyl edition coming soon), and in Europe by Nordvis, on whose Bandcamp page you can now stream the record's title track.

And that brings us to the record that may end up being the most surprising of 2015. Not because it's incredibly good - that comes as absolutely no surprise whatsoever. But because Nechochwen's Heart of Akamon is perhaps the most intense and aggressive metal record that I've heard this year.  The instant I started playing this record for the first time I could tell that I had no idea what I was in for. Well, I guess that's not exactly fair - the first 1:12 of the opening track are characterized by the lush and enchanting classical acoustic guitar that has become the calling card of Nechochwen. From there on, though, this one is a barn-burner. This probably shouldn't be a surprise, either - not to anyone familiar with Nechochwen's subject matter. The heartbreaking and horribly unjust history of the Native American Indian, again, is the focus of the record, and Heart of Akamon pulls no punches. The songs are faster-paced than on any of their previous releases, and the vocals are wilder than you would expect on a Nechochwen record. Metal has been an important element to every Nechochwen release since 2010's Azimuths to the Otherworld, but to keep things simple, Heart of Akamon is more metal, in every way. The folk passages are present, of course, and they are glorious, complementing the rest of the music wonderfully and giving Nechochwen its unique sound, that can, quite honestly, be compared to no other. You must hear this record. If you haven't by now, stop whatever you're doing, get this record, and turn it on. You will not regret it.

This record is available now on CD (again, vinyl will come later), from the same places as the Panopticon record. In the US, get it from Bindrune, here, and in Europe, Nordvis is the place to go (they also have a really nice t-shirt). It can be streamed and/or purchased for download straight from the band at Nechochwen's Bandcamp.

Don't miss wither of these records, if you know what's good for you.  Total support!

Now Streaming - Aelter - "Love Eternal" LP

As today is the official release date for this remarkably beautiful LP, it is with great pleasure that Hammer Smashed Sound brings to you a full album stream of  Love Eternal, the new record 3+ years in the making from Aelter.

You should remember the 3rd Aelter album, Clarity, being released by Eternal Warfare and Handmade Birds, back in 2011. And while I absolutely adore that record, I am happy to say that Blake has raised the bar with this one. It is eerily haunting, brooding, and moody, and although those three characteristics would normally describe an invariably dark record, for some reason Love Eternal shines with a unmistakably bright light. It is by all means a dark journey, twisting and turning in a haze of psychedelic Americana, but you can see the light at the end of the tunnel coming from a mile away.  With the full album stream below, you are hereby invited to get lost in this record. Enjoy.

The LP is available now from the always excellent Pesanta Urfolk.