First of all, I’d like to say hi to everyone who followed me after my Swans posts on One Week One Band. And thanks for following me! I don’t post as frequently as I should on this blog. I try to remember to do short posts about tracks I like, but I work full time so it doesn’t always happen. (I would like to start writing for less navel-gazey blogs someday too.)
I wanted to at least write something, so here is a list of the shows I’ve been to recently and albums I like. I can’t remember the last time I got enough sleep so I hope it all makes enough sense. Also, if you want to see some terrible concert photography (of these shows), follow my Instagram.
I’ve been listening to two new releases: VI.I.VIII by Coffinwormand Totem by White Suns. I want to write something longer about each of them. I think they complement each other well. They both approach this horrible, desolate, noisy place from different ends of the spectrum (arty Brooklyn noise rock, Indianapolis sludge). Both deal in lyrical abstraction, though Coffinworm reeks of base hate and anger, while White Suns add a touch of mysticism. Both albums hit hard, though it’s fascinating to see one band do it the metal way, and one band build a wall of sound through feedback and those absolutely brutal drums.
The last track on Totem, “Carrion,” a song from the perspective of a dying hunk of flesh, ends with what Tiny Mix Tapes called a “prayer”: “Let flowers burst from my chest/ Let roots coil in my skull/ Let them grow old and die again/ Let me give back all I ever stole.” I don’t want to say it’s a respite, but the noise fades a bit as the lines are delivered. It reminds me of that Edvard Munch quote I used to put places when I was in high school: “From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity.”
I also saw a bunch of shows. Here are some vague recollections (note that there may have been more bands on the bill but I either didn’t want to mention them or didn’t catch their set):
Saturday: Night Terror and Oozing Wound at Situations
After the Zine Fest (I got mixtapes!), I went to a benefit for the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo basically just to see Oozing Wound. They are working on new material, most of which is going to appear on a new album soon. It sounded 20% doomier, but there’s a really fast-tempoed song they have been playing that I really enjoy. The band is so versatile and so much fun to watch.
Sunday: KEN mode, Helms Alee, and Russian Circles at Metro
First of all, Metro was packed, especially considering it was a Sunday night. It’s not my favorite venue because it’s not laid out well and it was hard for me to see anything going on unless I was on the third floor near people who insisted on talking through sets.
I love KEN mode a lot. Helms Alee was pretty all right. Russian Circles I found a small bit disappointing, which shouldn’t have happened. They are a tight band, they play together well, they are nailing the post-metal thing, but it was a little on the boring side. I may have been having a bad day. I will see them again (they’re local) and maybe I will like them more.
Monday: Indian at Subterranean
Very scary. A slight uneasiness settled over the crowd. Band looked like they were performing exorcisms on their instruments/their faces. Absolutely pummeling sludge. People were pummeling each other in the audience. (This was the record release show for their latest album From All Purity, which is a great complement to Coffinworm’s new record.) Honestly reminded me a bit of early Swans.
Tuesday: Priests and Ex Hex at Schuba’s; Murmur, Psalm Zero, and Pyrrhon at Cobra Lounge
Help me, I am officially insane. I went to see Ex Hex at Schuba’s because my friend Betsy from Charlottesville is the bassist for the band. Priests was a good surprise, doing heavy punk like White Lung. Ex Hex was stylistically on point and every member can play the shit out of their instrument.
Then I should have gone home, but instead I drank an iced coffee at 10:30 and went to Cobra Lounge because I had been hearing good things about Pyrrhon. And I was in the mood for some technical death metal. I liked Psalm Zero just fine (they have a slight goth tinge and a drum machine). Then Pyrrhon killed it and totally made the whole night worth it. They also officially confirmed that if you add noise to anything, I will like it. It was basically technical death metal with tempo changes and complicated riffage but played with copious amounts of feedback. At times the songs just descended into plain (heavy) noise, and then would roar back up again into their twisted, angry form.
I’ve been finding generally that metal bands are either completely fucking boring, or I’m hanging on every chord change (if they are changing) waiting to see what will happen next. Pyrrhon definitely fell into the latter category.
If anyone makes it to the bottom of this rambling post that I will probably hate in the morning, let me know if you have suggestions for what I should write about for real, or comments/thoughts/feelings/etc. about all of this.