Blood Folke – Winter’s Summer (Small Doses)
Their name’s a bit misleading. No folke here. No black folk either. Nothing folky at all. Maybe some blood if that’s your thing. These guys are a trio from Minnesota playing a strange and totally fucking awesome blend of doom & black metal, with some post rock climaxes thrown in for extra epic points. Instead of the usual guitar/bass/drums setup, though, they’ve ditched the bass for a viola, so, wow. It’s the best. It adds to the heaviness in its own way, giving me a neo-classical noir vibe, except when those strings are crying out like some DSBM howls, which is weird as fuck and 100% welcomed. The vocalist doubles up with bear-like growls and throaty mumbles while shredding his axe, teaming with the viola creating melodic crescendo blasts and discordant blackboard screeching, and the drummer is destroying his kit when things get locked down, a massive doom groove that just doesn’t let up. The whole thing is dark and supremely fucking heavy, blacking out the sky and reigning its twisted doom over your wretched soul. Truly great stuff here and for $8 it’s a goddamn steal.
Sky Burial – The Cadence Of Collapse (Small Doses / Phage Tapes)
This is one book you shouldn’t judge by its cover because this one is fucking AWESOME (and that album art just ain’t my style). Michael Page, the dude from Fire In The Head, goes cosmic, with Threnody For Collapsing Suns comprising the middle of a loose trilogy (in between Kiehtan and the brand new Aaegri Somnia). This one is a huge slab of deep space. Black wind howling through wastelands, haunted humming power lines, an exploded galaxy’s worth of space dust dirtying up the place, synths ranging from demonic heartbeat pulses to zen drift euphoria, soothing shimmer next to brain stopping blasts and bleak industrial tension. It’s both dark & light, the sun in all its glory and the resulting black hole, with beauty scattered throughout. Only three tracks, clocking in at 50+ minutes, absolutely huge, sprawling to infinity. Black bliss kosmische for the next century.
Kinit Her – Walled (Small Doses)
Fucked as hell and 100% original. Tortured Gnaw Their Tongues horror, blackened Niblock trombones, melodic pagan incantations, mourning Godspeed strings, power metal guitar wailings, furious neo-folk, pioneering levels of prog, inhuman demonic growls, black metal tricklings, all steeped for years in a vat of DOOM. Absolutely. Fucking. RIDICULOUS. This album is as brilliant as it gets, dudes. I haven’t heard anything this astoundingly unique in years. It’s bleak, dank, and goddamn creepy. I want to have it’s baby?
Formication – Nightly Instructions From The Cracked Telephone (Small Doses)
The opening track is a ballad of disgust that cyborgs spew at their enslaved humans. The rest of the album is the celebratory minimal techno dance party for a job well done. Gritty bass & glitchy beats smothered by a blackened ambient, with urgent, haunted drones and a swarm of clicks & trills. This isn’t music that you or I dance to, it’s strictly for the hardcore neo-machines who cut off their oil supply so they can get that potent, more natural high. Absolutely killer fucking jams on here. These dudes are brilliantly mixing sub-genres resulting in a wholly realized vision that is The Eyes OF Erodern Reviema. If any part of your inner self digs beats at ALL, you owe it to yourself to check out this cold hearted beast. Plus, the limited CD version comes with an extra insert & disc of remixes, including one from Locrian. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Jenks Miller & Nicholas Szczepanik – White Light
Another glorious collaboration, although I’m not gonna lie, I hadn’t heard anything by Jenks Miller prior to American Gothic. Not that it matters. Anything Szczepanik does is guaranteed gold and I was super pumped to hear him work with somebody else, so I was destined to love this record no matter what.
The opening track is one of the best. Pretty much embodies the whole record. It starts out with a shrill static insect drone, kinda piercing. It goes on for a minute, you think it’s going to last forever and maybe you won’t be able to handle it, but then some youthful xylophone like synths come in and all of a sudden it’s a pop song, like American Analog Set noise for infants. It’s so charming & easy going, but so abrasive & stabbing, the combination of textures & tones is unreal.
And that’s what American Gothic is all about. Smoothing your dreams with the beautiful, subtle, & low-key while scouring your face off with the offensive, brittle, & hardcore. Slow static buzz drifts with digital clouds, mournful organs sound the arrival of new life while a blissful chaos unfolds in the heavens, and an insanely epic album closer where the sun fills you with majestic perfection and the universe crumbles at your feet. So fucking incredible.
Not that I needed it, but this has solidified my faith in Szczepanik as a truly great modern creator, and it has only made me hungry for more from Miller. Collaborations ran amok this year and I feel like they generally tend to get overlooked. Don’t let American Gothic slip by unnoticed because it’s honestly some of the best noise drone. Period.