Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Sun Through A Telescope

Atmospheric doom metal: admittedly, not something I’m the most familiar with. In this instance, I’m experiencing The Sun Through A Telescope for the first time, and I can say this: it’s quite heavy on the ambience. Since I’ve not the experience or breadth of knowledge for a real and legitimate album review, this is more of a “first impression” sort of post. I do have pretty extensive experience with different types of atmospheric musics such as serial composition, minimalist composers, post-rock bands, etc. as well as both doom and black metal (even atmospheric black metal bands like Wolves In The Throne Room) so I’m quite interested in hearing this project.

First, a little about the double EP Orange and Green/Black that I’m writing about. It’s a project done by a man named Leigh who hails from Ottawa, Ontario under the name The Sun Through A Telescope that was recorded and released on two separate cassettes (though you can download the .mp3 versions).

I’m 100% unsure of which EP to start with, so I selected Orange in a rather arbitrary manner. From the start you get a very good taste of what’s to come, hearing what I can only imagine are sounds from some sort of ocean area. Birds squawking, gentle movement of water, and there are some light synth noises and some feedback… then out of nowhere a black metal section blasts you in the face. The first few songs go a lot like that, with metal carefully woven into some very cool atmospheric textures. When things truly start to get interesting are when the vocals come in on “Glowing Halowe’en Eyes” — they’re pretty haunting, having been processed through some sort of filters, they’re quite reminiscent of the vocals at the begging of “Akeldama” by the Faceless, and at some other points they’re totally unleashed being delivered with pure and unadulterated emotion (often in the form of a powerful shriek).

The rest of Orange continues on in the same manner, tastefully swapping out noise, doom, black metal, and atmospheric sections while introducing more unique nuances to keep the listener’s attention. Green/Black? Not so much, it starts off with a thirteen-minute monster of an atmospheric track, using some of the most haunting tones and harmonies I’ve heard, then moves into the visceral three and a half minutes of “The Priest With One Black Hand”–a raw and heavily hardcore punk influenced track. Right after the album takes another slow but extreme turn where you get the first clean and unprocessed singing on the set of EPs.

Overall I really enjoyed listening to the double EP. It is very well recorded and mixed, and is full of really interesting content. Whether it’s music, bird noises, running water, screaming bloody murder, or whatever else is on this album, it was all very pleasant to listen to. I can’t say I’d recommend this as a listen for anyone with a short attention span, but I will say that it’s certainly worth checking out if you feel like taking sixty-three minutes of sonic exploration.

Here, check out the song “Glowing Hallowe’en Eyes” for a taste of what you can expect from the album:

If you’re interested in checking out more, each EP is a measly $2.50 at The Sun Through A Telescope’s Bandcamp, so head over and check that out.

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The Summoned – If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures [Review]

If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures is the debut full-length from Massachusetts-based extreme metallers The Summoned, and is currently unreleased (perhaps more news to come on that in the future).

The Summoned belong to the group of bands that play a style of music that borders itself along death metal and grindcore (but isn’t really deathcore). Clocking in at only 33 minutes, it’s a bit of a short album, but very dense in musical content. There are lots of really nice guitar licks, pace changes, etc. combined with Steve’s excessively brutal vocals. Deciding to not go the route of bands like Suffocation and Skinless, the vocals are not usually at the lowest of lows. Instead, the vocals mostly sound more like mid-range screams than growls–and they pack a ton of fury.

Easily the best part about If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures is the consistently high level of guitar work. While they aren’t constantly noodling, the riffs, licks and solos are always interesting. The somewhat atonal licks in “Anatomy Of A Bar Fight” show just how strong of a grasp this band has on quality guitar parts that stray from the path just a bit. You even get to hear that they have a good ear for melody and tasteful guitar playing on the track “The Flood” with some solid guitar solos dropped right in the middle of that track.

Most of the album is straight to sixth gear, outside of the very somber guitar interlude track “Space Was…” which only lasts for a minute and is followed by what could be the gnarliest track on the album “Space Is…” which is filled with mid-tempo blasts, pinch harmonics, and harmonized guitar licks.

From start to finish you get the feeling that If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures is totally unrelenting. At every point where it feels like there’s a down moment it lulls you into a false sense of security until you get fully-harmonized riffs forced with fury down your throat. Backed up by an extremely tight rhythm section, the very few breakdowns on this album are neither boring or stereotypical, adding another dimension to an already outside of the box style.

As a debut record, there’s not a whole lot you can ask from a band who went the DIY route, except maybe for more of it. Certainly a very interesting listen, if there’s one thing you won’t be while listening to If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures it’s bored. It’s hard to say where exactly the band might go from this release, but more of the same would absolutely be welcomed.

Song choices: “The Flood” and “Anatomy of a Bar Fight”

Overall score: 8/10 devil horns

The Ciem Show – Lifelike Scenes [Review]

When thinking of what the term “progressive” means in the metal world in 2011, it doesn’t really mean that the music it is attached to is really progressive, but rather that it fits into a certain sound or style loaded with technical proficiency. Bands like Dream Theater and Symphony X could be considered part of the reason for this. Some bands, however, are looking to atone for this watered-down meaning of the “progressive” label in metal.

Enter The Ciem Show and their 2010 release Lifelike Scenes. Sonically, the album might be able to find its home right alongside Dream Theater and Symphony X, but I’d be lying if I said that was the whole story. This album floats around through all sorts of metal styles; from the djent intro of “Scene II: Evolution Sickness: i. Existing Without Being / ii. Being Without Existing” to the melodically difficult “Scene V: Effects of Somnambulism” The Ciem Show aren’t afraid of mixing in whatever inspires them to their music.

Doom metal, power metal, heavy metal, djent: it’s all here in Lifelike Scenes. You even get a really good taste of the virtuosic playing that many prog-heads have come to love from their genre. The solo towards the end of “Scene VI: Theme for Lost Children” is fantastic, floating between jazz melodies and the heart-wrenching melodies found in some of the more somber heavy metal ballads.

There are really only two faults of Lifelike Scenes. First, the mixing makes it a bit difficult to hear and appreciate the intricacy of each of the instrumental layers on many of the songs. There are multiple instances on the album where the bass just becomes lost in the mix. The second is that the album just feels a bit short for a prog album, clocking in at only 36 minutes (seven songs).

Even considering the albums couple shortcomings, it’s still a great listen and worth checking out if you’re looking for some solid prog metal. You can pick the album up for free from The Ciem Show’s Bandcamp page. Let’s be serious, since you can get it for free, there’s no reason not to listen to it.

For fans of: Ayreon, Dream Theater, Symphony X

The Weekend Rant, Vol. 2: Being “trve” and “kvlt”

One seemingly ongoing and inexhaustible topic of arguments in the metal world is how the only “trve” black metal is the original black metal. I often notice that this argument is often used to castigate Dimmu Borgir and Abigail Williams fans (among others). I think old school and “kvlt” black metal is totally different from newer bands making it. Totally different circumstances and mindsets. I think both, musically, have equal merit but you cannot match the cultural implications of the earlier black metal bands in the early 90s in Norway, there’s simply no way. It is an inescapable truth that bands such as Darkthrone, Mayhem, Burzum, etc. are the bands that are often considered the pinnacle of black metal music, thus being considered the most “kvlt” or “trve” of all the black metal bands.

I don’t buy that whole “new bands can’t be trve” malarkey. It’s not like they chose to be starting their musical careers two decades after the movement they associate best with occurred. As long as they truly believe in what they’re doing, that’s as true as it gets. Sure, they might not come from a place and feel religiously oppressed by the people that wiped away their cultural heritage, but it doesn’t make their circumstance any less legitimate or meaningful.

There is, however, a scale of how traditional a band’s music is to the originators of black metal. Dimmu Borgir is the perfect band to illustrate this. In their early years, they were about as true to form to symphonic black metal as you could possibly be, their sound very much in line with some of Emperor‘s best albums. In recent years, since Death Cult Armageddon they have strayed from the traditional path to venture into more grand and symphonic arrangements and songs, forgoing some of the low-fidelity and ripping nature of their black metal predecessors. At that point, the black metal purists cried wolf. Apparently musical progression and deviance is taboo in the black metal world. I could draw a parallel to this mindset and that of the Christian mindsets that black metal once fought, but anyone who knows anything about black metal already can see that at this point.

What I find especially mind-boggling is that these stances are often taken by people who have absolutely nothing to do with the culture in which black metal originated, so their feelings of outsiders being unwelcome is absolutely unfounded. By stating that newer bands who aren’t from that specific era in can’t be considered “trve,” what does that mean for all of the black metal fans who are also not from that circumstance? Are they also not “trve?” It all seems just a small amount ridiculous to me. As far I can tell, the “trve” tag has come to just be a pedestal to promote elitism in metal, something I feel there needs to be a lot less of these days. It’s the only thing keeping metal from being a wildly successful genre of music.

Just think for a second, how these mindsets are stifling the metal world that is currently burgeoning with creativity. It truly breaks my heart. I hope we can all at least agree that Emperor is a great band. How about we just enjoy the video for “Empty” by Emperor?

Derelict Looking To Perpetuate Band Success

If you’ve been a longtime reader here at The Heaviest Matter of the Universe, you may recall a review I did for the band Derelict‘s Unspoken Words back in early 2009. Otherwise, let this serve as your first introduction to the band. It’s the first single they’ve released since Unspoken Words came out, and it’s called “Perpetuation.” Here, have a listen:

This song is typical Derelict riff-your-face-off fashion, and in this case, typical is a great thing. The song is going to be featured on a three song “demo” (really more of an EP) soon as the band is putting the finishing touches on their next full-length album. If you like what you heard above, go pickup a copy of Unspoken Words online through Year of the Sun Records or Relapse Records, or snag it from iTunes. Make sure you keep on the lookout for the upcoming EP!

Welcome to The Heaviest Matter of the Universe

This blog is all about me and my journey through the music world. It used to just be a metal blog where I would display my hackneyed opinions of all sorts of things. Going forward it will be chronicling all of my happenings in the music world, whether it’s album reviews, interviews, blogs about bands I do PR for, etc. you’ll learn all about my musical expeditions.

The posts here may be inconsistent at best, but that’s because I write for two other publications currently: The OurStage Magazine and Under The Gun Review.

(and yes, before you ask, my blog’s name is a tribute to and/or rip-off of the Gojira song of the same name)