Gehennah – Too Drunk to Live, Too Drunk to Die (Released 2016)
Hat tip to Paul for this one.
I have made the conscious decision to eschew lyrical analysis in this column, by and large. There a few reasons for this. I am largely out of my depth in doing so, having not done much in the way of literary analysis since high school, and I believe I have good evidence to suggest that such analysis is just not really my thing. Also, these are metal albums with metal songs about metal things – Satan, drinking, slasher movie style executions – and therefore aren’t typically the sorts of lyrics that illuminate things about, like, life and stuff. And most importantly, I mostly don’t give a shit about lyrics as a listener, and if my biases dictate what sorts of albums I write up in this column, they also dictate the purview of those write ups.
And then, I was confronted with the song Low on Cash, High on Speed, a mugging anthem for those who are uh…low on cash and high on speed, and therefore want us to give them their wallets, presumably while holding a knife or something. That’s what life is all about, I guess, right? This sort of primitivism is all over Too Drunk to Live, Too Drunk to Die, with much of the album being based in quasi-speed adjacent grooving and tales of general dirtbaggery (as far as song names are concenred, it’s tough to beat album closer All of the Decadence, None of the Success), with some actual speed stuff tossed in here and there. All in all, it’s a good enough time.
Standout Tracks: Too Drunk Too Live, Too Drunk to Die; We’re a Street Metal Band; All of the Decedence, None of the Success
Ordos – House of the Dead (Released 2017)
Oh dang, we’ve been through 13 entire albums already, and none of them could be rightly described as stoner/doom/sludge/etc. Part of that is simple happenstance, and part of that is, at least if one uses the dicey but maybe actually pretty goddamn salient metric of monthly listeners on Spotify, bands operating in these genres are more broadly well-known. Stoner metal and its variants have been having something of a moment in the last couple years or so, and has gained several levels of hipster cred; had I started up this column as recently as 2016, I would have felt totally empowered to spread the word of Sleep and Electric Wizard, a service that wasn’t necessary then and is decidedly unnecessary now.
Anyway, I’m getting off topic. House of the Dead is technically divided into six tracks, but really, each new track presents a variation on the riff first heard in opener The Infernal God, and each track flows from one right into the other. The riff itself is a quality slice of old-school fuzzy blues boogie, and remains so throughout all its permutations. It’s a clever arrangement, and it allows the album to sort of infest your way into your subconscious. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the vocals, which aren’t always clean, but when they are, the guy sort of sounds like Nick Cave, the most metal non-metal artist there ever was.
Standout Tracks: House of the Dead; Satan Venit; The Witch
Holy Fawn – Death Spells (Released 2018)
It doesn’t take too much thinking to see how shoegaze and metal go hand in hand. They both thrive on loudness, and overwhelming the listener with precise blasts of guitar fuzz. I would never deign to call these times enlightened, but if nothing else, people are far less precious about genre distinctions (something that I was most certainly guilty of in my misspent youth), and this is to the benefit of all. You hear of a new subgenre called ‘blackgaze’ these days, and rather than inspiring some misguided, reactionary-ass nonsense about what is and isn’t metal (again, I used to be that asshole), it immediately makes total sense.
Listening to Death Spells serves as an excellent primer for those interested in blackgaze. There’s the same commitment to presenting intricately crafted, atmospheric, and well-thought out soundscapes that made Kevin Shields famous(-ish), but the guitars themselves are louder and more abrasive, and the atmospherics are spookier. This album does a great job of sounding plenty spooky because it also does a great job of letting the quieter moments really sink in before leveling all of that beauty with the next incendiary blast. Put another way, there are times when you’ll forget you’re listening to metal at all, a mindset that will be violently corrected shortly thereafter. It’s really something.
Standout Tracks: Dark Stone; Yawning; Seer
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