Review of Tenebrosum by Windfaerer

Band: Windfaerer
Album: Tenebrosum
Release Date: 22 September 2015
Record Label: Hammerheart Records (will re-issue in January)
Buy on CD ($12) or digital ($7) from: Bandcamp

Tenebrosum by Windfaerer

At the end of every year I like to give my album review writers the chance to write about not their favorite album of the year but instead the one they think was the most overlooked and deserving of more attention. The albums don’t have to be from the local scene like most of the reviews on DCHM and the choice is totally up to them. Buzzo Jr’s was posted here yesterday but today is Tal’s pick for the 2015 album that deserves more attention.

For a while now I’ve preferred metal music that’s slower and sadder than the norm, and sometimes haunting or ethereal rather than heavy. But there’s still a part of me that longs for epic grandeur, as my 2013 review of Echoes Of Battle by Caladan Brood goes to show, and this year I found myself drawn to a similarly dark and epic album: Tenebrosum by New Jersey’s Windfaerer.

I first heard Windfaerer on Lightfox177’s Youtube channel, a treasure trove of ambient and atmospheric metal, so I expected something either ethereal or desolate. I could hardly believe my ears as the commanding riffs at the start of “Celestial Supremacy,” which is the first song on the album, thundered out of my headphones. It does have a cascading atmospheric guitar sound to it, but it also has energetic groove more like the melodeathy end of the folk/Viking metal spectrum. I would put this song on while working on my novel, but then end up headbanging too hard to get any writing done. And it only amps up more, as a minute and a half in, the drums go wild and the guitars become a white-noise wall of sound punctuated by distorted wah’s, and then roaring vocals summon the darkness. A keening violin cuts through the chaos. Then during the chorus the song expands to epic grandeur, as you can just make out the vocalist roaring, “This is the legend we have forged.”

Comparisons to Summoning and Caladan Brood are inevitable, and warranted, as far as the epic parts are concerned. In addition, the style of the violin melodies recalls Maryland folk metal band Isenmor, especially in the parts where the violin soars on flights of fancy over a frenzied black metal barrage. Could this be a distinctive flavor of U.S. East Coast folk metal? The band describes themselves as “an extreme aural entity inspired by black metal and folkloric atmospheres…an homage to ancestral travels and an essence beyond our grasp,” defying location in a single genre or tradition.

Drawn in by “Celestial Supremacy,” I went on to listen to the rest of the album. The second song, “Finisterra,” features an irresistibly groovy and headbangable riff, and an instrumental segment that starts as a dreamy clean passage with gently flowing violin, and then morphs into a soaring solo over tremolo-y atmospheric guitar.

The first two songs are so captivating that they overshadow the third song. “Tales of Oblivion” has a slower feel, in spite of its blast beats and buzzsaw riffage, due to the slow melody and drawn out vocals, though it does have a fast and then furious passage in the middle. There isn’t as much captivating groove or melody to this song though. “Santería,” meanwhile, is a wild dance of violin over hammering riffs and frenetic blasts of drumming. It’s a relatively short, fast and heavy instrumental. It segues smoothly into “The Everlasting,” which features sweeping violin over the now expected barrage of drums and guitar, while the vocalist roars grandly, “These wounds will last forever, like stars carved in the sky / The heavens bleed the sorrows of mankind.” Cascades of tremolo guitar are surmounted by an achingly beautiful violin melody, and then the song closes with a clean guitar passage, contrasting with the godlike wrath of the vocals in between.

“Morir en el olvido” begins with a catchy riff and then violin melody, which underpin the song even once the darker vocals, blast beats and buzzsaw guitar come in. It’s another groovy headbangable one with its abundance of melodic riffage. “The Outer Darkness,” the last song on the album, is a last assault of frenzied guitar, drums and violin all together, as though all the forces of darkness were battering at the gates. This is not the anthropomorphic darkness of a demonic figure, however, but the inanimate forces of nature and the cosmos around us:

I am the expansiveness of planets
I am the disinterested force of storms

This plane is hostile
Here there is nothingness
I am the outer darkness

After a more moderate section with a meandering, proggy violin solo, like a pleasant jaunt through the far reaches of the galaxy, our ultimate smallness catches up with us, as the song and album end with a last barrage of instruments and vocals that conjures up the howling of the void.

In contrast to most other epic bands, Windfaerer’s subject matter on Tenebrosum doesn’t include any heroes or mighty deeds. Instead they sing of “sagas of seclusion,” “bleak words that have failed me” and being “washed away like sand at shore, slowly erased from time.” Even “Celestial Supremacy” with its references to legends and quests seems to be more about the fruitlessness of such endeavors, and ends with the voyagers leaving earth behind, perhaps forever. Heroic epics are about remembering; Tenebrosum is about oblivion, being forgotten and disappearing. It is actually anti-epic – or perhaps an epic paean to the immense cosmos that overwhelms all human attempts to write our names in the sand, as it were.

But hey, at least we get to listen to something as soul-stirring as this album during the time we do have here.

Review of The Insolent by Antigama

Band: Antigama
Album: The Insolent
Release Date: 7 May 2015
Record Label: Selfmadegod Records
Buy CD ($10) or digital ($8) or vinyl ($15) or cassette tape ($8) from: Bandcamp

The Insolent by Antigama

At the end of every year I like to give my album review writers the chance to write about not their favorite album of the year but the one they think was most overlooked and deserving of more attention. The albums don’t have to be from the local scene like most of the reviews on DCHM and the choice is totally up to them. Today is Buzzo Jr’s turn and, well, I’ll let his words do the talking from here.

There was a ton of awesome heavy music that was released this year, but an unfortunate amount of it went rather unnoticed by most people. One of those releases that I felt wasn’t given enough praise this year was The Insolent. The Insolent is the newest full length album from grindcore outfit Antigama; a band that has been delivering punishing tunes ever since the they formed in Warsaw, Poland, at the dawn of the millennium. With their seventh album, Antigama offers up a vicious array of grindcore tracks that that experiment with tempo and technicality.

The Insolent comes roaring straight out of the gate with the one-two punch of the tracks “Reward or Punishment” and “Foul Play,” both of which consist of blisteringly fast blast beats and energetic guitar riffs. Keeping within standard grindcore conventions, these first two tracks are very short; with neither of them breaking the two minute mark. Those who think that they are in for just another standard grindcore album are in for a surprise however, as they will soon realize that as the album progresses, the tracks get longer and more and more experimental. The next two tracks “Data Overload” and “Used To” bring the tempo of the album down slightly with distorted, industrial sounding grooves that are interspersed with sections of the familiar break neck speed found at the start of the record. Some grindcore bands often treat the bass guitar as a secondary instrument or shirks it in the production entirely making it all but inaudible and placing more emphasis to the lead guitar. This isn’t the case on this album however; Sebastian Kucharski’s bass is nice and audible, giving off a strong metallic twang. The flow of the album changes up again with “Randomize the Algorithm”; one of the more technical tracks on the album. The track opens with a brief audio sample from the 1995 supernatural horror film The Prophecy, (a pretty bad film in my not so humble opinion) and soon erupts into a barrage of start/stop riffage, dynamic bass lines, and tortured vocals roaring over it all. Sebastian Rockicki shows off his proficient guitar skills on this track especially; fusing traditional grindcore structures with more complex patterns to create a harsh, atonal sound that seems to take influence from the industrial sounds of Godflesh and the multi-layered, dissonant tunes found in GorgutsObscura album. The title track that soon follows is also jam packed with varying time signatures and corkscrewing riffs. The drumming on The Insolent is fantastic, and the title track provides the best example of Paweł Jaroszewicz’s incredible versatility on the drum kit. In the span of only two minutes, he transitions from hyperspeed blast beats to jazzy, polyrhythmic drum fills; meshing perfectly with the bass and guitar barrage provided by the two Sebastians.

The second half of The Insolent starts with the track “Sentenced to the Void,” a mid paced stomper filled with crunching grooves and thunderous vocals. Lukasz Myszkowski is a force of nature on this track, delivering cataclysmic roars that are soaked in distortion and vocal effects. The experimentation on the record comes out again in “Out Beyond”; a spacey track that makes good use of electronic effects to create an otherworldly atmosphere. The track is almost completely instrumental but for the last few seconds when the sample of a countdown to a launch is heard, perfectly leading into the track “Eraser”; another hyperfast display of technical riffs and vocal terror that slows again near the end to segue into the final track; “The Land of Monotony.” At over seven minutes long, this track is a slow, crushing slab of sludgy riffs and pounding drums. It provides a stark contrast to the balls to the wall speed of the majority of the album, giving a terminal sense of finality. The track at some points seems to be ticking down to its very last moments before coming to a void-like silence after the last echoes of Lukasz’s vocals fade away. There isn’t a single bad track on this album, although people who are looking for a more straightforward grindcore album may be put off by the slower, longer tracks near the end. That being said, if you were ever wondering what it would sound like if you took the spacey experimental style of Voivod and merged it with the balls out fury of Pig Destroyer, look no further than right here.

The Insolent is one of the best releases of 2015; grindcore or otherwise. If you consider yourself a fan of grindcore and experimental music, then give this album a spin and make sure to catch Antigama live if you ever have the opportunity, because I can say from first hand experience that they always put on one hell of a show. Here’s to another year of great underground music!

Brutality At The Brewery III

Brutality At The Brewery III

Lots of people have been asking me if there’s going to be a DC Heavy Metal holiday party again this year and the answer is YES! It is going to be at the third metal night, dubbed Brutality At The Brewery, to be held at Fairwinds Brewery this Friday, December 11th! I’ll be decked out in my now infamous Cthulhu holiday sweater and giving away tickets to a ton of upcoming metal shows in our area (see the list at the end of this post). Brewer Will has brewed up something special for this event, a black wit ale named Iron Tongue that was brewed in collaboration with the guys in the local metal band Gloom! And as usual we’ll be playing songs all night that you have requested. To make your own song requests just send them to Will on Twitter at @BrewMetalWill or post them on the thread in the Facebook event page here. No bands will be playing this event! We all just hang out with other metal heads, drink some crazy good local craft beers, win prizes and listen to metal all night!

Things get started at 7pm and there’s no entry fee. Fairwinds Brewery is located just off of I-95 where it intersects with the Fairfax County Parkway. It’s on the edge of Lorton and Springfield and driving time is about the same as going to Jaxx/Empire was for most people. The address is 7000 Newington Rd, Lorton, VA 22079 (map). More info can be found on the Facebook event page we have set up right here! I can’t wait to see everyone on Friday! Now check out this epic list of tickets we’re giving away at the event!

All That Remains at Rams Head Live on December 13th

The Black Dahlia Murder at Baltimore Soundstage on December 14th

BTBAM/Enslaved at the Baltimore Soundstage on December 16th

Jucifer at the Black Cat on December 17th

Clutch at the 9:30 Club on December 27th (sold out)

Nile at the Baltimore Soundstage on January 13th

Queensrÿche at the 9:30 Club on January 25th

Cradle Of Filth at the Baltimore Soundstage on January 28th

Voivod/Vektor at the Black Cat on February 13th

Slayer/Testament/Carcass at the Fillmore on March 5th

Napalm Death/The Melvins at the 9:30 Club on April 12th

Abbath/High On Fire/Skeletonwitch at Baltimore Soundstage March 17th