On the Turntable – King Woman ‘Created In The Image of Suffering’

I think one of the best things about being part of the SGM fam is the freedom that we have, since we answer to no one but ourselves.  We are a group of women from all walks of life who join here to try to create something new and different, if such a thing is still possible.  We don’t allow advertising on our site, so we can post about anything, in any form, and that is something I genuinely cherish.  So in that stead, we thought it would be interesting to offer a couple of simultaneous posts.  Below you’ll find two reviews of the new King Woman album Created In The Image of Suffering.  I have teamed up with Pygopagus to offer our thoughts on this album, and we decided to showcase how far-ranging our opinions on it were, sort of a dueling pianos review. Check it out!

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Thalia Gore’s Review

It seems like every time I hear about a band lately, they are from the Bay Area.  I have yet to check out the scene, but I’ve definitely been meaning to stop by to check out some shows and see what the vibe is like over there.  The most recent SF band to come up on my radar is King Woman, as they have just released Created In The Image of Suffering on Relapse Records.  

I was excited to check out this album as soon as I heard of it’s impending release and the corresponding video for “Deny.”  This marks the debut full-length album from Kristina Esfandiari and the album is laced with her own personal demons lingering in the dark, hazy sound this trio creates.  

The album starts off with “Citious” the digital-only track that was an album bonus.  This track runs roughly one minute and slowly eases you into King Woman’s sound.  As the second track, “Utopia,” unfolds, you are suddenly wrapped in a gauzy and distorted doom womb.   

I like the fact that Esfandiari’s vocals are even with the music, not above it nor far below, creating a seamlessly woven balance. I really appreciate how haunting she can sound between the distortion and echoes.  Like she’s caught somewhere in the afterlife and is kind of okay with being there.

Sadly the album starts to lose me at “Hierophant,” at which point things start to feel too repetitive.  A chorus is sung one too many times or a riff harped on a little too often.  I think they have great potential and a genuinely unique sound, but I think come their next album they should delve a little deeper into the editing process.  Overall I think this is a great debut and I will be interested to see how their sound matures.

 

Pygopagus’s Review 

King Woman unveils their debut full-length album, Created In The Image of Suffering, and I hand the veil back. The first track, “Citios”, the digital only bonus track slaps you in the face with its cringe-worthy vibe of an angst riddled teen, with nothing to complain about, who just discovered how to make something “artistic” in Garageband. It didn’t feel like a bonus it’s more of warning for the quality of the rest of the album.

You often see the adjectives, “breathy, hypnotic and ethereal” thrown around when referencing female vocals with a similar, super on-trend vocal style. This album strikes me as a high school band trying their best to emulate Chelsea Wolfe for a Battle of the Bands in the high school gym. It’s contrived, from their look, the album name, the sound –  it’s all a little too on the nose to work or feel authentic. The vocals sound lifeless and without the effects and layering wouldn’t be record-worthy. The music itself is slow, repetitive and hugely uninspiring. I was particularly frustrated with the mixing of the record in relation to the snare drum. It’s so sharp that it’s jarring compared to the rest of the heavily sedated sounds.

As I listened through each track, hoping that I was nearing an amazing moment that would change things around, I got more anxious and frustrated by how unpolished the album is. The lyrical content, vocals and instrumentation is uncomfortably elementary. The hip thing that I would expect them to do is take all of their weaknesses and try to spin them into an intentional sound, but it’s not even possible, it’s just a fact that it is unpolished.

Debuting an album is a huge deal, and the work required to achieve it should be applauded. The courage to put yourself out there as an artist is fucking terrifying and in a sense I hate that I am that person who’s shitting all over it. But the reality is the only thing I like about King Woman is their name. This is an over-saturated market, and one that is blossoming with tremendous talent that transports you to a different place. In order to break into the scene and leave a mark they have to discover and embrace their own unique sound, because there is nothing unique about this album.

Least favorite track “Worn.” Say ‘break the bread’ one more time and see what happens.

Grab your copy from Relapse Records on CD or vinyl.

On the Turntable – Black Anvil ‘As Was’

12 Jacket (Gatefold - Two Pocket) [GD30OB2-N]

When listening to Black Anvil’s new album As Was, the great Pablo Picasso quote “Good artists copy, great artists steal” comes to mind. The most notable difference in this case is that I would not be so bold as to call Black Anvil great artists, more so I can’t get past how much their signature style sounds like a mash up of 15-second clips from various popular metal sub-genres. Because of this, I found myself desperately trying to find something I liked in each song, and the shining light in the whole album for me is the consistent delivery of Paul Delaney’s vocals.

His voice has a beautiful grittiness, with a perfect amount of rasp that really honors the black metal heroes of the past. I can see how many will view As Was as an exciting new record that beautifully pays homage to the greats! I would highly recommend this album to someone who’s just getting into metal, as it offers such a variety of styles in each song. Everyone needs a band like this to help them hone in on what exactly they like about metal and to provide them with a starting point to deep dive into their preferred sub-genre(s).

In an interview with Deaf Sparrow, the band said, “…These people do not know us, do not know what we are about, at ALL. I don’t need to make anyone else happy with what this band does. It’s not about pleasing the listener. If you are pleased, then great. If not, go fuck yourself. We could easily be carbon copies of other bands, but we still write what we want based on our reaction. Not that we’re this original band, to me we are, in the grand scheme we’re not. I think real recognizes real in the end of the day”. From that I get that they are inspired by the process of creation more than the final product, in that the lyrical content and journey to create the album is more important than the audience’s reaction to it. I respect the hell out of that, because this album is their chance as artists to express themselves and who am I to harsh their buzz?

The album really picks up steam at the fifth song, “As An Elder Learned Anew.” This song was the first that told a story I felt invited to be a part of. As a listener I want to be transported to a different time and place. I want to go on the journey with the band and I would encourage them to explore how they can express themselves and speak their truth by showing, not telling.

Recommended Songs:
“On Forgotten Ways”
“As An Elder Learned Anew”
“Ultra”

Grab your copy of As Was on Relapse Records here.

Rolling photo by Lani Lee.

Pygopagus-

On the Turntable – Myrkur ‘Mausoleum’

The best music is often heard at live shows, yet most live recordings leave me yearning for studio versions of the songs. It’s not for lack of effort; it’s nearly impossible to capture the special magic between artist and listener that occurs in the sacred show space. Few live albums have ever mastered this (Nirvana Unplugged, The Allman Brothers Band Live At the Fillmore East). However, Mausoleum, the latest creation of Danish composer MYRKUR, can now sit on the list of greats – certainly not at number one, but definitely a stellar live record.

Mausoleum is a stripped-down version of Amalie Bruun’s (MYRKUR) debut album, M. There’s no scraping guitar or distorted feedback – just Bruun’s ethereal voice accompanied by piano, acoustic guitar, and the mystical Norwegian Girls Choir. The album was recorded in the historic Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum, dimly lit by burning candles for the performance. Surrounded by dramatically morbid murals, Bruun’s soprano voice echoes through the cavernous space and illustrates her musical power. As a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and composer (yes, she is all of those things) any flack or skepticism she may receive for being a one-woman black metal band dissipates with this album. The eerie, yet wonderfully dense collection of nine songs teeters between spiritual and sadistic. The melodies sound like rituals that have been performed for hundreds of years, and Bruun is the captivating, mystical folk legend leading it all.

The word ‘myrkur’ simply means darkness in Icelandic, however, Bruun’s music is far from one-dimensional. Her voice packs a mean punch; it’s delicate yet strong, and always hauntingly beautiful. Her influences stem from nature, Scandinavian folklore, and Norse mythology. Bruun states “I always dreamed about becoming a Huldra, an Elver girl, a Valkyrie, the goddess Freja. These powerful women in Norse Mythology have an element of beauty and mystique, but they are also deadly.” We must commend Bruun for achieving this transformation in Masoleum. While putting her spin on the genre, she is clearly very knowledgeable about the history of black metal. Norway has a strong black metal community, so Oslo was the perfect geographic choice for recording (the ancient tomb was also a nice touch). That said, recording in a mausoleum is simply a choice of setting – doing it well is what makes Bruun’s voice one to be heard. In the male-dominated world of music, it becomes all too easy for a pretty face to be associated with a marketing play. Bruun’s unique perspective and ability to bring her cryptic vision to life (yet again!) will continue to redefine and shape black metal music, as well as, most importantly, inspire more female artists to step forward.

Mausoleum was released on August 18th, 2016 by Relapse Records.

-Tallulah-

Graves at Sea – Earplugs Won’t Save You

If you haven’t heard the latest release from Graves at Sea, it may be time to make some changes in your life.  The Curse That Is may be the best debut full length to come out this year.  If not the best, then definitely the most anticipated.  I’m not one for pre-ordering albums, mostly due to my shoddy memory, but this was one I immediately grabbed when I saw it was available.

Graves at Sea have been around for awhile and they are finally gaining some of the recognition they deserve.  They were recently picked up by Relapse Records and their latest release is 75 minutes of neck-ache inducing gritty doom.  Drummer, Bryan Sours and bassist, Jeff McGarrity lay down the molasses thick rhythm while guitarist, Nick Phit keep the songs moving with his winding and hypnotic guitar.  My favorite part of this album are the vocals, compliments of Nathan Misterek, who’s sound ranges between deep and menacing to raspy and aggressive.

The opening track, “The Curse That Is” clocks in around eleven minutes but feels like two given how quickly it wraps you in and draws you down a dark depressing hallway where you most likely will get your ass kicked at the end.  Although “The Curse That Is” might be a good representation of what this band is capable of, I think their most promising tracks are “Tempest” and “The Ashes Make Her Beautiful.”

“The Ashes Make Her Beautiful” is a heavy yet melancholy track incorporating violin and acoustic guitar.  It is raw both musically and emotionally and I think this particular track stands out the most amongst others.  The punctuated, anvil-like percussion mixed with subtle violin that weaves in and out like a ghost, really shows the breadth of what this band is capable of creating.

“Tempest” is a bit more hard hitting and immediately kicks you in the groin within three chords.  This was the very first track I heard from the album and subsequently the reason I jumped on the pre-order, aside from the luscious blue and bronze vinyl they offered.  It’s easy to get caught up in this song between the monster guitar and angry vocals.

We had the good fortune of getting to see these guys live on their brief US tour.  We weren’t satisfied to only see them once at Kung Fu Necktie in Philly so we caught their show the next night at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn.  They set out on this tour with support from Order of the Owl, the self-proclaimed growling beast from Atlanta, Georgia.

Order of the Owl played some older tracks from their 2012 release, In the Noon of the After Day such as “Bandsaw” and “Cocaine Super Demon.”  Bassist and vocalist Brent Anderson stood stooped, long hair covering his face growling into the mic as he played, reminding me of a character from a David Lynch film.  Between gulps of PBR and a shot of whiskey stealthily brought to the stage by tourmate Nick Phit, Order of the Owl delivered an unrelenting set that wet your palette for the main course, otherwise known as Graves at Sea.

When I say earplugs won’t save you from Graves at Sea, I mean it.  They are loud.  And I mean loud.  You can have the best earplugs stuffed in your ears and you will still see  people in the crowd looking at each other and trying to decipher what the other is saying at the end of their set.  If you know Graves, you will know that people are mouthing “That was fucking loud!”  I was mildly amused after their set at Saint Vitus to look around and see people shaking their heads and smiling at the auditory assault they just endured before flocking to the merch table.

These guys play every song and every note as if it was their last.  If you don’t believe me, try to count how much drumstick shrapnel goes flying during a single set.  Graves at Sea leave everything on the stage and I think gained a lot of new followers due to this fact.

They opened their set with the title track, “The Curse That Is” as well as a few other new songs such as “Tempest” and “Dead Eyes.”  By that point, they had the crowd hypnotized and continued with some older tracks such as “Betting on Black.”  My favorite song of the set was their last, “Pariah.”  It’s one of those songs that puts you in a trance with it’s sludgy, methodical rhythm.

I hope that Graves at Sea embark on another US tour in the near future.  If you missed them this go around, I definitely recommend catching them when you have the chance.  And bring earplugs.  You can thank me later.

Check out our photos and a short video below!

-Skc Photo-

Order of the Owl

 

Graves at Sea

 

Grab your copy of The Curse That Is here on CD or Vinyl.

Black Tusk – “God’s on Vacation” Video

Black Tusk have been pretty busy since the release of Pillars of Ash.  On top of their latest tour from coast to coast, they have also now released a new music video.  The track, “God’s on Vacation” is pretty intense to say the least.  Check it out below!

 

 

“God’s on Vacation” MP3

Buy ‘Pillars of Ash’

Boris and Merzbow ‘Gensho’ Dual Albums

On March 18, Boris and Merzbow will release another collaboration, only this time it’s not a single hour-long song; it’s two separate albums meant to be played simultaneously. Think surround sound.

While you do have the option of listening to them separately, you’re going to want to be in the right mind frame to listen to the Merzbow album solo — it’s straight-up noise, their specialty.

Stick with me here.

I used to spin The Locust and Melt Banana simultaneously, as an experiment in screeching, squealing, screaming combinations of noise. Listening to preview tracks “Heavy Rain” and “Goloka Pt. 2” at the same time on YouTube reminds me of a darker walk through those days, with the somber summoning of sirens echoing behind a haze of distortion, feedback, and white noise.

It’s doomy and shoegazey behind a curtain of crackling FM tuning, and it makes me curious to find out what other sounds they’ve experimented with together on this latest project.

-Winter Doom-

 

86ca4e3d132a59f61ed0df1b04ede82ePre-order available through Relapse Records

 

 

Graves at Sea Record Release and Tour

Mark your calendars because on April 1st Portland doom quartet, Graves at Sea, will be dropping their debut album on Relapse Records.  The Curse That Is will be available on all sorts of delicious vinyl options (our personal favorite is the purple/bronze swirl) through Relapse.  The release will come just ten days before Graves at Sea hit the road with Order of the Owl.

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Check out the tour dates below and go abuse your ears!

Apr 11 Atlanta, GA The Bad Earl

Apr 12 Ashville, NC Mothlight

Apr 13 Savannah, GA The Jinx 912

Apr 14 Richmond, VA Strange Matter

Apr 15 Baltimore, MD Metro Gallery

Apr 16 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie (Early Show)

Apr 17 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus

Apr 18 Boston, MA Middle East

Apr 19 Pittsburgh, PA Spirit

Apr 20 Columbus, OH Ace of Cups

Apr 21 Detroit, MI Sanctuary

Apr 22 Madison, WI TBA

Apr 23 Rock Island, IL Rock Island Brewing Co.

Apr 24 Chicago, IL Reggie’s Live

 

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Graves at Sea Facebook

Relapse Records aka Luscious Vinyl

Graves at Sea on Bandcamp