Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hivelords - Tapered Limbs of a Human Star

Band -  Hivelords
Album - Tapered Limbs of a Human Star
Country of Origin - USA
Genre - Avante Garde Doom Metal
Release Date - August 4, 2015
Label -  Anthropic Records

I'd like to start this review with an apology to the band.  I went to Detroit last summer to see a DIY show at a great space called the Sanctuary featuring Isenblast, Fell Ruin, Hivelords, Cloud Rat, and False.  I was there primarily to see the latter two (who are high on my list of favorite bands), but was extremely impressed by this 5-piece from Philadelphia.  I managed to catch up with them after their set and, when they found out I wrote reviews, they generously provided me with a download code for this album.  Much listening ensued.  I really did mean to write a review.  I really did.  Initially I struggled with what to say about this album (and still do), because of how dense and layered it is.  Then, my new job duties kicked in and I dropped the blog until just a couple weeks ago.  So, I'm writing today, long past the time I should have.

Tapered Limbs of a Human Star is a difficult piece of art to describe.  I have seen the band labeled doom metal, black metal, sludge metal, avante garde metal.  The reality is that all the labels fit at times, but none of them really give the true picture.  When I stop to break down what each individual band member is doing, it doesn't seem all that special.  Everybody is certainly competent with their instrument, including both the vocals and noise effects provided by Kevin North.  Drummer Will Mellor gets blasting at times, which can definitely be work.  The guitar lines provided by Lydia Giordano and Evan Void are solid.  Ditto the bass work of Tyler Butler.  This whole paragraph could be considered damning with faint praise if I ended there, but these facts don't give the whole picture.

Really, the brilliance of Hivelords is in the composition, the way all these parts are put together, the atmosphere created.  Tapered Limbs of a Human Star is mesmeric, bleak, enthralling.  This is the type of album that demands attention.  Once it has it, the listener is carried away into the other...into the void.  Unlike some metal bands, the atmosphere doesn't generally portend true evil, but rather nihilism of the highest order.  When listening to the ominous intent of Tapered Limbs, you feel that the end is nigh.  I don't mean just the end of you, but rather the end of all.  After the end comes...nothing.  This album is the soundtrack to the moment when the powers realize we exist and are immediately done with us.

It would be difficult to overstate how much I love this album.  I have heard and felt something new every time I listen to it and it has been in heavy rotation since the day after that concert last August.  In addition, the members I met (Kevin and Lydia) seem like really cool people.  They are about to head out on tour.  Details can be found on their Facebook page here.  I highly recommend that you go see them and tell them Hayduke says hello.

Recommendation:  Go buy this now.  Put on your best headphones and listen to it straight through.  Repeat.  See them live.

Rating:  4.5/5

Monday, May 2, 2016

Crust Madness at the Firehouse - A Show Review

This past Friday evening, I went out to a little underground space to watch a DIY show.  This was my second time in the space, having attended a show earlier in the year featuring Great Reversals, Discarnate, Boddicker, Dahkma (Vinyl Release show), and Cloud Rat.  I could tell that there had been improvements made in the space in the interim.  The Firehouse a loft on the second floor of what appears to be a warehouse or similar type building.  Upon entering, you immediately go up a set of stairs into a decent size open area with a small stage in the middle of the back wall.  At both shows, the drum kit and back end take most of the space on the stage so the remainder of the band members perform in front of the stage.  All in all, it's a cool place with a good vibe and a welcoming atmosphere.

The lineup on Friday was meant to be Siege Tower, Discarnate, and Red Moon Rising, but Siege Tower couldn't perform last minute.  Instead, Dylan, a member of Siege Tower and the host of the night's festivities performed a noise set under the name Death Exclamations.  I have to say that this set was one of the most truly uncomfortable artistic performances I've ever experienced.  Dylan performed solo with two microphones running through a variety of FX pedals.  The sounds he created with rubbing and beating the microphones together, banging them into his own forehead until he bled, and roaring into them were intense and disturbing.  His manic pacing with his back mostly to the crowd and the short bursts of self-inflicted violence added to the unease.  It was a fairly brilliantly rendered and raw emotional experience.  I'm not sure I recommend it or want to see it myself again, but there is no denying that I found it moving in a dark way.

Up next was Discarnate, a 4-piece of blackened death metal from Grand Rapids, MI.  Friday was the fourth time I've caught them live and I can say that they are consistently good.  They continue to write new music.  The drummer consistently sets the pace with a good mixture of styles including the inevitable blasts.  The guitarist creates a dark atmosphere with tremolo picking and riffing.  Friday featured a different bassist, though whether this is a permanent change or temporary fill-in, I'm not sure.  Vocals are a mix of deep guttural death growls and raspy blackened screams.  Both are solidly done and the variety is nice.  Overall, they are a new band, already solid, and headed for bigger things.

The night wrapped up with the sludgy two-piece Red Moon Rising from Chicago.  I thought that they were the weakest of the the night, though not terrible.  The drummer was quite good, but I didn't feel that the guitarist was able to do enough without other support to keep the music consistently intense and interesting.  The playing was decent, but the composition was often uninspired.  Vocals were scarce and mostly just guttural barks into the microphone by the guitarist.  They did finish the night strong with what I thought was their best track.  They are currently on a tour.  Watch for them in your area.

Overall, the event was a little disappointing.  I had been looking forward to checking out Siege Tower and the closers weren't quite my cup of tea, but it was still good to get out, see some friends, and most importantly, support some underground music.  You should do the same.