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Deckard Cain’s Maladies of the Ear – Part III

Yet another edition of Deckard Cain’s Maladies of the Ear and there’s a subtle change this time around with only 2-3 releases covered each time.  I’ve come to realize, rather painstakingly, the case of dwindling attention spans of everybody on the internet. Mostly so through my own change in patterns of consumption, especially music. Despite the fact that I’ve been listening to more music than ever before, time spent on each album has been far less. It’s a grave injustice that we do to music today that goes unheeded. Yes there is an abundance of rubbish out there but the good ones too fail to make the cut due to this. For all we know it might be affecting listeners and artists alike, undermining significantly our ability to receive music and  ruminate over it. No time for little new synapses that maybe formed between the music and the listener which once created pathways of interaction and therein reflection. Metal to say the least demand  we identify with it so. Well that’s dead.

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1. Celestial Grave – Burial Ground Trance – demo (Black metal, Iron Bonehead Productions)

Maybe there is indeed a bias towards full lengths that manifests itself in the reviewing world. Most splits, demos and EPs go under the radar for the sake of convenience. Celestial Grave is one such name that simply hasn’t evoked the kind of interest it should have. Their blistering demo titled ‘Burial Ground Trance’ is something to watch out for. Motorhead-ic speed onslaughts laced with blackened melodic progressions that bleed catchiness is what defines Celestial Graves. It’s hard to define what their sound is but then again they have a knack for melody that a band like Bolzer and fellow countrymen in Havukruunu might have. Three songs? Well it makes for a truly infectious triumvirate then. These guys are demoing like it’s the late eighties.

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2. Obscure Sphinx – Epitaphs (Post-metal, Self-Released)

Every year or two some random genre breaks the threshold of optimum demand and slips into a case of redundancy. Stoner doom is there right now. Post-metal had such a time around the mid-2000s only to ebb back into oblivion. Since then the releases have been far and few but substantially better in terms of quality. The need to stay relevant in this age of distraction notwithstanding, quality indeed determines the staying power of a release. Obscure Sphinx is the very definition of this movement to betterment. Melding post-metal’s staple of sludge, doom and hardcore in ways that enthral the listener like once the genre greats did.  Yes, word about them has been slow to come by and yet much alike a distant deep bellow of a Viking horn, they have signalled their arrival. Ensnaring unassuming listeners all the more deftly. Sophomore effort ‘Void Mother’ truly did this and put the band on the map. A mix of vocal harmonies oscillating between the ethereal and the erratic, a tool-esque sense of tribal tone, riffs that maim and crush, all separate them from the redundant clutter  that the genre once grew out to be. It’s all refreshing to say the least.

While the past two efforts were gems in their own right Epitaphs is cut from a cloth that is finer still. The melding of styles here are less jarring and yet plumbs the genre’s depths all the more successfully. This is so because unlike most of post-metal, the vocals are not relegated to the task of generating atmosphere. Wielebna vocals are ferocious and graceful in equal measure. Almost so sometimes her cleans elicit the same response what Lisa Gerrard’s work on Gladiator OST might do. And this is to not take anything away from the rhythm and atmosphere that the rest of the band don’t fail to conjure up. For instance opener Nothing Left and closer At the Mouth of the Sounding Sea (almost another The Presence of Goddess) churns out headbangable grooves while moving into experimental atmospheric territory with seamless ease. But despite all this it did not hit me like ‘Anaesthetic Inhalation Ritual’ or ‘Void Mother’ did for I’ve grown to realize that this album must be allowed to seep into you. It has grown on me with each listen. A strange feeling of reflection and something primal flows through this album that truly endears the listener. It has so for me.

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