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Deckard Cain’s Maladies of the Ear – Part I

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Abundance does not suggest quality. That in a snippet is the state of metal today. Costs of production have come down dramatically and so the amount of music being churned out has exploded. To the reviewer, this is a gargantuan problem. Seemingly, trying/pretending to be a reviewer, at the least, demands a rudimentary understanding of the landscape (metalsphere) that he or she has to tread upon. And this understanding demands a painstaking amount of listening. A recipe for sensory overload indeed.  This sensory overload due to extreme amounts of back to back listening has dulled the will and takes a toll on one’s listening experience. It has for me. An overdose that sometimes fail to elicit any response from new music.

Gone are the days where you could sit at an unassuming corner, press play and dive into depths eternal that music lets you into. Instead ‘time’, as something you forever run against, has taxed our lives. The re-prioritization of life at the behest of modernity in the post-industrial digital age has been nothing sort of crushing. Work cultures world over have surreptitiously pushed leisure from the sphere of necessary human activity into that of indulgence. Man’s ability to introspect and reflect at his very existence happens more often during times when he rides free or strikes a conversation with the arts. And that to me is suffocating. It gives too little and too less a time for people to have an internal dialogue with an art such as music. Metal demands close listening much like reading academic literature. Subsequent re-listens can either take the initial sheen off the record or make the listener sink deeper in and engage and relate with the artist on a whole new level. And yet there is no time for re-listens, nay, far lesser time for single listens. This results in quite a few good records slide slowly into the realm of oblivion.

So off late I’ve been re-listening some of the records released earlier this year. And some have stuck thanks indeed to the re-listening.  Here are a few of those…

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  1. Garganjua – Garganjua (Sludge/Doom, Hibernacula Records)

It’d be no surprise that Garganjua’s music sounds akin to that of Pallbearer’s. Their usage of long winding melodies are starkly similar. And yet Garganjua’s mixes in quite a bit of YOB, which make their music far more plodding than what would sound from a Pallbearer release. The self-titled debut skirts a line between these two bands and makes for a rather interesting listening experience.
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  1. Vinterblot – Realms of the Untold (Viking/Melodic Death, Nemeton Records)

To the layman it’d be a misnomer to attribute Italy to be a place of Viking descend. This is not to suggest that only member countries of what was part of Norse civilization can claim that right.  And yet the County of Apulia and Calabria were once of Norman conquest, pointing a certain lineage back to the Vikings. Vinterblot hails from Bari in Apulia, veritably so to find inspiration for their battle ready sophomore effort ‘Realms of the Untold’. The riffs are infectious and tasty as they come ,  a la Amon Amarth, perfectly devised to invoke the most primal of emotions, one that of bloodlust.

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  1. Votum – :Ktonik:(Prog Rock/Metal, Inner Wound Recordings)

Dark foreboding progressive rock/metal which almost eats at its own genre tag. Why? For sometimes they do sound quite formulaic and yet manage to conjure that atmosphere of all things somber and downcast. They come off reminiscent of a heavier Anathema, or a less experimental Riverside/Pain of Salvation with tinges of that modern Katatonia sound. Oh and the vocals are simply gorgeous.

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  1. Gomorrah – The Haruspex (Death Metal, Test Your Metal Records)

Pretty easy to sweep Gomorrah under the collective rug of deathcore and just leave it there for oblivion. And that’d be a great mistake . ‘The Haruspex’ is a record with a massive amount of groove and technical death metal. The riffs have a clinical/industrial edge, and their mechanical nature is wedded with a certain melodic dissonance that cries to be noticed, and all the more so. Crushing.


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  1. Latitudes – Old Sunlight (Post-Metal, Debemur Morti Productions)

For the sake of utility one might be able to put the band Latitudes under the post-metal tag. Although that tag speaks for a lot of variety, it might leave Latitudes a bit in the dark. In very much the same way that Intronaut would be if one would classify them just as post-metal. Latitudes’ third effort’Old Sunlight’ serves to cloud out all sunlight with a lint of grave grey,  exuding nothing but a distant yet palpable melancholy. The subtle levels of technicality  elevates the music it to even higher levels. Patience advised.

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