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.

Green Elder - Offering 7"

It is with great pleasure and honor that I bring to you today the premier of a video from the latest from Appalachian folk artist Green Elder. For those of you not "in the know," Green Elder is brought to us by the same gentleman behind the great Twilight Fauna, whose Hymns of a Forgotten Homeland LP was one of the great hidden secrets of 2014. Green Elder is a totally different animal, however, embracing the influence of wilderness and the traditional folk music of the Appalachians. This new 7", titled Offering, contains two tracks dedicated to the trials and triumphs of summer, and to me they are the best that Green Elder has released thus far.

The video is for the a-side of the 7", "Mountain Storms." The simplicity of the music and the evocative searching of what would seem to be more complex emotions is absolutely heartbreaking and quite simply gorgeous. The video is stark in that is a journey not only through the song and emotions that accompany it, but through the beauty and pain of nature in its naked, untouched state.

The 7" is available for preorder now here, and I highly recommend that you pick this up sooner than later. For those not inclined to purchase vinyl, a digital edition of the two songs is available for preorder as well. It should be noted that all preorders are entered to win a variety of extras (such as test pressings, some objects that the artist has collected while wandering the mountains, etc.).  I also recommend that you check out the previous Green Elder material as well.

Total support!

2014's Best, in One Humble Guy's Opinion.

Now that 2014 is over and I've had the time to go over this again and again, I realize that it ultimately serves no purpose except to give my thoughts on what the best records were in 2014. Why that matters to anyone I will never understand, but I guess some people really want to see it.

I'm sure I missed some things that were truly great; either I didn't hear them, or I forgot them, or they got lost in the shuffle somewhere. So this is by no means a comprehensive list (especially since there may be a thing or two that were released in late 2013 on this list; I didn't care to check because I don't care). It looked a little different last week. and even more different the week before that. And so on and so forth.

I should take the time here to thank everyone that sent a record my way; we receive so many submissions that we could never catch up to all or even one tenth of them. So if we never responded, don't take it personally. There are only so many hours in the day.

So here you go, here's my list. Keep in mind this only speaks for me, Harold. There are other folks who write here from time to time, so this doesn't speak for anyone but me. Enjoy.

23. Albez Duz - The Coming of Mictlan (Iron Bonehead)

This an amazing record of very dark, almost gothic-sounding doom. I love it and honestly can't get enough. Plus, the last song is a cover of "Twist in My Sobriety," a song originally written and performed by Tanita Tikaram, which appeared in the great 2001 flick Bandits.

22. A Silver Mt. Zion - fuck off get free we pour light on everything (Constellation)

A more delicately intense and heartbreakingly thoughtful band you will not find. And this record just confirms that they can indeed do no wrong whatsoever.

21. Skáphe - Skáphe (Fallen Empire)

20. Rosetta - Flies to Flame (Translation Loss)

19.  Falls of Rauros - Believe in No Coming Shore (Bindrune Recordings/ Nordvis)

18. Thantifaxath - Sacred White Noise (Dark Descent)

I was afraid that this record would fly under the radar, but people seem to have picked up on it. Great band, great record, on a great label.

17. Menace Ruine - Venus Armata (Profound Lore / Sige Records)

16. Nadja - Queller (Essence Music)

I'm a fan of just about everything that Nadja has ever done, but this record is one of my favorites ever. Aidan and Leah doing what they do best.

15. Swans - To Be Kind (Young God Records)

14. Current 93 - I Am The Last of All The Field That Fell: A Channel (The Spheres)

13. Xothist - Simulacrum (Fallen Empire)

12. Nightbringer - Ego Dominus Tuus (Season Of Mist / Daemon Worship)

11.  Panopticon- Roads to the North (Bindrune Recordings)

10. Swallowed - Lunarterial (Dark Descent)

Dark, heavy, hypnotic, and downright psychedelic at time, this met all the great expectations that people had for Swallowed. Can't wait to hear more from this band.

9. Eternum - The Devouring Descent (Dark Adversary Productions)

This band apparently has a pretty awesome back catalog as well. I had never heard them until this year, as sad as that is. I've spun this record a lot since I got it. Should have bought two. Thanks Calvin.

8. Ellorsith - 1959 (Caligari Records)

You probably haven't heard this, but you need to. Came out as a limited-run tape on the great Caligari Records; hopefully someone will press it on vinyl. Look it up and download it from the band's Bandcamp page. The only thing known about the band, it seems, is that they are awesome. This tape proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

7. Thou - Heathen (Gilead Media / Vendetta)

I don't know how they do it, but somehow Thou gets better with every album. This is a monster. Achingly gorgeous and brutally heavy, I see no flaws whatsoever in this record. Check out Thou's collaborative records with The Body as well. The new one will be out on Thrill Jockey really soon.

6. Saor - Aura (Northern Silence) and Nasheim - Solens Vemod (Northern Silence)

I've listened to these two records more than anything in 2014, and I don't see that changing much in 2015, or perhaps ever. Two of the most perfect records ever, so graceful, poetic, and powerful in their respective atmospheres.

5. Wheels Within Wheels - Thirtyfive Thoughts to Nineteen Elements (self-released)

I haven't seen this on a single year-end list thus far, and that makes me sad, as this is one of the most powerful records of 2014. It's literally transformative, at least it is for me. A dizzying, hypnotic voyage through the senses and the mind. Also, it works as a fever reducer. 

4. Various Artists - One and All, Together, For Home (Season of Mist)

An amazing compilation of European metal bands paying homage to their homelands and cultures, curated by Drudkh's Roman Saenko. An absolute gem of a record that each and every person that reads this ought to hear at least once, and preferably many times.

3. Sol Invictus - Once Upon a Time (Prophecy)

One listen to this record had me absolutely seduced. It's playful and fun, yet beautiful and torturous at the same time. Perhaps my favorite Sol Invictus record, and that would say an awful lot.

2. Burial Hex - The Hierophant (Handmade Birds)

Words simply can not do justice to how desperate and cathartic this album is. It rips me up every single time. Exhausting. This is everything that is good and right about music. 

1. Rome - Passage to Rhodesia (Trisol)

I've become a HUGE fan of Rome over the past couple of years, going through the discography like a man obsessed. And I've concluded that this record is the best that 2014 had to offer, and my favorite Rome record as well. It's one of the most romantic things I've ever heard, and a reminder to nay-sayers that neofolk is quite alive and well. But Rome, especially on this record, is so much more than neofolk; it is pure art, indescribable and indecipherable. Accept it for what it is, embrace it, and become a part of it.

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