This week we talked to Jason Walton, who you may know from Cascadian black metal legends Agalloch, his upcoming new project Khôrada, or his even old noise project Nothing! We chatted about the beginnings of Agalloch, going from bars to huge festivals, the importance of clean socks, and how Khôrada will be different from his past work.
Perturbator – “Vile World”
French outrun phenom and previously featured guest Perturbator is back with a set of new releases! The full-length album, The Uncanny Valley, is really great and I highly recommend you go check it out. But today I wanted to highlight the bonus-track disk, which is available for “name your own price” directly from Blood Music. The bonus disk really shows off James Kent’s ability to slow it down a bit and still make a solid dance track. I love the bass line in this track; it is simple and fundamental, but when it really kicks in, the track comes together in that special way that makes me bob my head no matter where I am. Kent does a great job of keeping that classic outrun feel but maintains great depth in his melodies.
In Flames - “Cloud Connected
At the Fear Factory show in Portland a few weeks ago, I likened Soilwork to In Flames and Wes said that he didn’t know/remember what In Flames sounded like, so I decided to dig out my favorite In Flames track and OH BOY am I happy about it being only available via YouTube (official music video). The early 2000s were a great time to make music videos, especially if you made fairly mainstream metal. I had a really hard time deciding between the videos for “Cloud Connected” and “Trigger,” which both came from probably one of the first metal albums that I wore completely out and had to buy another copy of when I was 13 or so: Reroute to Remain. It was fun and catchy metal with some decent melodies. I listened to the whole album again today and still love it. Ultimately I went with “Cloud Connected” because the video is ridiculous and the song has a catchy synth line.
In Flames is a Swedish metal band that started in 1990 but is still releasing albums. They got super popular for a while in the early 2000s, but their newest album is called Siren Charms and it is not as good – but only because I think they are trying too hard to be clean and fit in with metal now.
Agalloch - “Into The Painted Grey”
I was late to the Agalloch party, and with their announcement on May 13, I decided I should go back and take a look at the first Agalloch I listened to. Before I had heard Agalloch, I didn’t have a clear idea of black metal; I think I had associated it with acts like Cradle of Filth, and steered clear of it. When I heard the field recordings and melancholy cello, I knew that this was not going to hold with my internalized idea of black metal.
Agalloch helped me come to love the more nature-inspired side of black metal, as well as the technical prowess that many bands in the genre have. I had come in expecting cheese and got an emotional, heavy ride alternating between blast beats with speeding tremolo riffs and slower, thoughtful movements underlined by acoustic elements. Agalloch opened me up to exploring an entire genre, and for that I am grateful.
Eight Bells - “Landless”
Over the course of “Landless”, Eight Bells gives us a great array of moods that really demonstrates their technical strength. The track starts with a strong and quick-paced movement, layering in heavy drums, drops us into a mellow vocal section, then tears us straight back out. Rather than feeling like whiplash, the relative mellow of the vocal sections gives a strong emotional context to the roaring movements afterwards. A few minutes into the track, everything breaks down; the song becomes a wash of cymbals and distortion, with some cleaner picking floating through; this wash serves to set up the back half of this almost 13 minute track. The back half holds the mellow tone of the earlier vocal sections before building into a screaming roar of tremolo picking and rapid drumming. The end of the song almost serves as a distorted reflection of the first moments; it ties the two ends together without feeling repetitive.
Poltergeists is a biweekly feature in which Michael and Wes share tracks that they have had on repeat over the past two weeks.
Riotmiloo & Friends - “Child Bride. with Scalper”
Directly from the Ant-Zen Bandcamp page: “'La Pierre Soudée,' Riotmiloo’s first personal album, is a careful selection of past and present real-life stories compiled in eleven tracks documenting women’s suffering in the world. The title is borrowed from French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s book 'Masculine Domination,' in which he describes how language defines and perpetrates symbolic violence against women; the album expands on this idea through storytelling.”
“Child Bride” is an appropriately haunting track for this album. It makes me uncomfortable and unsettled in a way that sticks with me even after the track has stopped. All of the tracks on this album are really well put together and feature some of my favorite artists in the genre, but this one stands out as the most powerful to me. I think, now more than ever, it is important to make impactful statements with music; and this song, and album on the greater scale, is terrifying to me. As a podcaster and fan of storytelling, I feel like this album is geared to all of my favors. It is an important collection of tracks in an important time for women's suffering and violence against women.
Mathias Grassow & John Haughm - “Eindringliche Praesenz”
On Saturday of last week, my partner and I went to see Agalloch play their tour-ending hometown show at the Star Theater here in Portland. The show was amazing and overall a really great time. John Haughm, the founding member of Agalloch, is a wonderful musician and I generally follow whatever he is promoting or puts out himself. “Auræ” is a collaboration with Mathias Grassow and takes on a brilliant ambient atmosphere. The layers that evolve over the course of the album’s introductory track, “Eindringliche Praesenz,” are haunting and cinematic. Something that draws me to Agalloch is the emotional charge behind every song - I feel like a lot of the work that John does is very personal and that he is able, and unafraid, to take the time to delve into the sound elements and shape them into images and textured emotions.
Sayer - “Glassjaw (Bios Remix)”
Oh, what’s that? A new Saturate release? Well, I guess that means it’s time for me to write about future bass again. Sayer just put out Process Animation and I’ve got to say it has been one of my favorite Saturate releases for the past while. Sayer mixes some really interesting sounds: you have some trappy kicks, some acid arps, and to round it off you have these big clanging snares that sound straight from the junkyard. There’s definitely some parts where I can hearing the synth lines working with a mid-aughts aggrotech project. Definitely make sure to check out the full album.
V▲LH▲LL - “Einhärjar [TRIP CULT EDIT]”
Full Disclosure: Both Michael and I have remixes on this release. This is not why I am writing about this release though: this Trip Cult edit is so god damn dope. It is unlike any remix I have heard; the closest thing I think I’ve heard to this sort of departure from the source was the Seeming remix of iVardensphere’s "Stygian". Trip Cult’s addition of a harmonic choir rendition of V▲LH▲LL’s lyrics adds this wonderful layer to an already great song. And those strings! The dialed back, sort of acoustic take really was a wonderful idea. Though at first I wasn't sold, every time I listen to this track I love it more and more. If you haven't check out this release, do so now and make sure to track down Trip Cult's bandcamp and check out their other work.