Against The Grain

Against The Grain: Shroud Of The Heretic

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When I listen to heavy/extreme music one of the things that really gets my attention are the lyrics and rhythms. There is something truly hypnotic about a pummeling drum beat that hits you the right way. It’s as though that beat puts you in “the zone” and allows the listener to become engrossed by the waves of music coming at you. There is a band from Portland, Oregon called Shroud Of The Heretic that combines the ferociousness of death metal and the subtle undertones of doom metal. The lyrics touch on different topics such as mythology, the elements, and mysticism, providing an extra layer of darkness to their already heavy tones. The rhythm section of vocalist/bassist Thom and drummer Lauren is bursting with thunder and drive that makes you feel the intensity that is walloping in your ears. Their most recent album Unorthodox Equilibrium is a profound statement on where you can take death metal. Portland has quite the band on their hands with Shroud Of The Heretic. Take a closer look at this band!

 

Shroud Of The Heretic- Unorthodox Equilibrium:

Against The Grain: Cult Leader

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A few months ago when The Dillinger Escape Plan came through town on their recent tour, they brought with them Cult Leader as an opener. I had really been looking forward to seeing them. After listening to their latest album Lightless Walk, I knew I was going to be in for a treat. Needless to say, their performance left me in awe, and inspired. Cult Leader is the type of band that will steal the show, and leave the audience in a state of astonishment.

Formed in 2013, following the break up of their former band Gaza, Anthony Lucero, Casey Hansen, and Mike Mason decided to continue to make music together. They then recruited Sam Richards to join them. After spending time working on new music and releasing two EP’s, Nothing For Us Here and Useless Animal, it was time for the band to begin work on their first full length. Lightless Walk was produced by Converge’s Kurt Ballou. The album is a righteous slab of metal, hardcore and punk with bits of ambiance properly placed to give the songs the proper dynamics they need to be powerful. With songs like “Great I Am,” The Sorrower,” “A Good Life,” “How Deep It Runs,” and “Lifeless Walk,” it’s no wonder that Cult Leader has become one of the best bands in the genre of heavy music. Their live performances are intense, aggressive and hypnotic. I highly recommend seeing Cult Leader when they come though your town.

Take a moment and expand upon your musical palate… Listen to Cult Leader!!!

Cult Leader- Lightless Walk:

Cult Leader- Live (10/30/16 @ The Regent Theater with The Dillinger Escape Plan):

 

Against The Grain: Scour

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There are certain genres of heavy music that most people just don’t get. In fact most people would give you “the look” if they heard what you were listening to. One of the best things about being into heavy music is the matter of not caring what people think about what you listen to. Which brings me to Scour. This band is a “supergroup” consisting of Philip H. Anselmo (Pantera, Down, Superjoint, etc) – vocals, Derek Engemann (CATTLE DECAPITATION) -Guitar, Chase Fraser (ANIMOSITY) – Guitar, John Jarvis (PIG DESTROYER) – Bass, and Jesse Schobel (STRONG INTENTION) – Drums. Their debut E.P. sounds nothing like their main projects. Their sound can be derived from influences of the  ’90s Scandinavian black metal movement. The six songs that appear on the E.P. are nothing short of heavy, dark, and pummeling. The songs “Dispatched,” “Clot,” “Codes,” and “Tear Gas,” all exemplify what modern day black metal with a bit of thrash should sound like.

For all his faults and tendencies to put his foot in his mouth, Philip Anselmo, has delivered one of his best vocal performances on an album in some time. His ferocious growls and screams are right in line with how black metal vocals should sound. Musically this band is top notch. I for one would love to see them have time to really work together and create a full length album.

So if you are looking for something different and heavy, then Scour is what you need.

 

Scour- The Grey EP:

Against The Grain: Solstafir

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Solstafir are different breed of metal. Their unique blend of metal with beautiful melodies, psychedelic moments and a strong undercurrent of classic / hard rock strikes rough, rugged and cinematic as the climate of their native Iceland can be. The band has been around since 1995 and have released 5 full length albums, and assorted EP’s, and singles. The band started out as more of a black metal band and over the years have really evolved into more of a progressive post metal force. Their album  “Masterpiece of Bitterness” released in 2005, got exceptionally good reviews almost everywhere and the band kept on making a good name for themselves with powerful live performances. Their followup “Köld” was released in early 2009 and like “Masterpiece…” it not only got exceptionally good reviews, but most critics also had a hard time putting Sólstafir’s music into a specific genre. Descriptions like“Sigur Rós goes metal!” were becoming really common as did band comparisons such as  “Imagine if Nachtmystium, Alice In Chains, and Neurosis got hammered while listening to Entombed.” Their fifth full-length “Otta” released in 2014, is the next step in their evolution this four-piece adopted over the years. If anything their new album is a concept album that needs to be heard over and over to really grasp all that it has to offer. Solstafir are one of those bands that if you take the time to really listen to, you will come away with a greater appreciation for heavy music. It’s not your run of the mill garbage that is out there. These guys have real depth and truth to their music and it shows in each release they put out.

Otta:


Kold:


Live:

 

By: Brian Lacy

Photo by: Levan TK (instagram.com/levan_t_k) and (soundbysight.com)

Against The Grain: Emperor

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Emperor is a Norwegian black metal band formed in 1991. They are regarded as highly influential by critics and emerging black metal bands. They dissolved in 2001, but reunited from 2005 to 2007 for a few festival dates and brief US tours, and will once reuniting in 2014. Ihsahn and Samoth met as youngsters and the two young men began playing together under various names; first Dark Device, then Xerasia, then Embryonic. The group soon evolved into the now well-known band Thou Shalt Suffer. Soon, however, Samoth began to write music outside of Thou Shalt Suffer, and together with Ihsahn and a new bass player called Mortiis (later of his own eponymous band Mortiis), Emperor was formed. After a short while together, the band released a demo entitled Wrath Of The Tyrant.  After a record contract was signed, Samoth moved to rhythm guitar, Ihsahn continued the vocal duties and lead guitars, and Faust was recruited as a drummer. In the summer of 1993, the band began working on their first full-length album. Emperor ceased wearing corpse paint, they stated that it was becoming a trend and losing its original significance and symbolism. In 1994, Samoth was sentenced to 16 months in prison for burning the Skjold Church in Vindafjord, together with Varg Vikernes. . In 1994, In The Nightside Eclipse was released, earning Emperor more notoriety. After Samoth’s parole, the band was joined by Trym and Alver on drums and bass respectively, and at the end of 1996, Emperor entered the studio to record Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk. Featuring a much more progressive sound than their earlier works, Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk won the ‘album of the year’ by a lots of European magazines and critics. Continuing their career as a trio, with Ihsahn handling keyboards , vocals, guitars and bass, the band recorded their third album IX Equilibrium and toured Europe and the United States. It was around 2000 when Samoth and Trym started to gravitate more towards more of the death metal style, while Ihsahn directed his musical exploration towards the more artistic and progressive side of extreme metal. In 2001, Emperor decided to disband after releasing one final album, Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire and Demise which was composed entirely by Ihsahn. Emperor would go on to reunite in 2005 for a slew of shows up till their break up again in 2007. Now in 2014 Emperor is headlining all sorts of European festivals. 

The amount of influence Emperor has spread over the years and across the many sub genres of metal is exponential. The mere greatness they exhibit in their playing and songwriting is fantastic. While not for everyone Emperor are pioneers and took it to the next level for extreme music.

 

Emperor Live:

 

By: Brian Lacy

 

Against The Grain Part 1: Ulver

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In this new feature we go on a journey to other genres and explore what they have to offer. Today’s offering is Ulver. They formed in Norway in the early 90’s. Their sound tends to be classified as Folk Black Metal. They blend different genres such as rock, folk, metal, symphonic, classical, and electronic to create their unique sound. Their albums have all been different from their others. They are one of the few that evolution has never held them back. Bergtatt, the debut album has been hailed as not the heaviest or most aggressive black metal.What makes the album stand out from all, is its use of unique atmosphere to create something that is eerie and oddly tranquil. Another one of their albums that is quintessential to their catalog is Blood Inside. On this album, along with their folk, black metal, symphonic sound, they began to incorporate jazz elements. Thus allowing the band to have awkward yet enriching time signatures.

While Ulver isn’t for everyone, they truly are excellent songwriters. One can always appreciate a well written and arranged song. If you’ve ever wanted to venture to the darker side, Ulver is a great place to start.

From Bergtatt: Troldskog Faren Vild

From Blood Inside: It Is Not Sound

http://www.jester-records.com/ulver/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ulver/31166220421

By: Brian Lacy