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A Storm of Light - And We Wept the Black Ocean Within (CD) Cover Art A Storm of Light - And We Wept the Black Ocean Within (CD)

Features members of Neurosis, Unsane, Swans and Tombs.

Featuring current and former members of Neurosis, Tombs, Unsane and Swans, A Storm of Light is exactly what you might guess based on the title and cover: a massive tsunami of sound and thunder, intent on submerging you beneath its crushing waters. It’s progressive hardcore/doom with a tortured, nautical theme: slow, crashing slabs of guitar, bellowed vocals and dissonant waves of feedback drifting beneath the cacophony. In other words, Neurosis meets Ahab. The album is both cinematic and colossal, as Storm of Light pounds the listener with wave after wave of oceanic dirges. What’s most notable is how they work a succession of tranquil respites into tracks like “Leaden Tide,” as if it’s safer and quieter below the crashing waves than it is on the churning surface. It’s like the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan, where the camera keeps dipping below the waves to reveal a refuge that seems temptingly safe but is most likely permanent.

If it’s A Storm of Light’s goal to drown you in atmosphere and conjure up visions of a suffocating, fading-light demise, they’ve done a damn fine job of it. You’re not going to want to listen to this during daylight hours, or even with the lights on - it’s meant to be taken as a full experience, to be consumed by and swallowed up in.

A Storm of Light frontman Graham may not have had much of a hand in the Neurosis songwriting department over the years (he's responsible for the visual aspects of their live shows), but by the sound of the note-perfect mimesis on And We Wept the Black Ocean Within he's soaked up the creaking-boat doom of latter-day Neurosis, especially the excellent Given to the Rising. However well-worn And We Wept's theme of ocean-as-unconscious is in the metal world (see Mastodon's Leviathan, Isis's Oceanic, Ahab's The Call of the Wretched Sea, Thrice's Alchemy Index Vol. I&II: Fire & Water), it makes for fine accompaniment to the album's roiling tidal sludge, simpler texturally than your average Neurosis album but just as finally wrought by guitarist/vocalist Graham, bassist Domenic Seita (Tombs) and drummer Pete Angevina (Satanized).

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A Storm of Light - Forgive Us Our Trespasses (CD) Cover Art A Storm of Light - Forgive Us Our Trespasses (CD)



Forgive Us Our Trespasses for all intents and purposes, falls under the metalgaze category. Absent are those dreamy, uber-melodic moments that Isis and Rosetta love, but the stark, oftentimes minimal nature of these songs allows for some truly striking moments. The dreary “The Light in Their Eyes” is as subdued and haunting of moment you’ll find this year, with a string selection courtesy of Carla Kihlstedt of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum fame. It’s the type of moment that makes A Storm of Light easy to back. Forgive Us Our Trespasses may not be as fully realized as it can be, but the foundation and natural heritage of this band suggests there’s still lots of work to be done. Consider this a more sensible, albeit explorative alternative to the usual suspects under the metalgaze banner. Good stuff.

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Price: $16.99
Abramis Brama - Rubicon (IMPORT) (CD) Cover Art Abramis Brama - Rubicon (IMPORT) (CD)



The band has stayed true to the past throughout their entire career and they still owe a lot of their sound to the early Black Sabbath releases. Simple yet heavy and groovy riffs á la Tony Iommi is what builds the basis of the Abramis Brama sound. The only difference this time might be that there is a little bit more of everything and it is a slightly more varied album than their previous ones. They have composed quality music that will surely please all fans and everyone else who wants to take a trip back to the '70s and experience an interesting sonic journey.

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Price: $17.99
Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. - La Novia (IMPORT) (CD) Cover Art Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. - La Novia (IMPORT) (CD)



Digitally remastered reissue of classic AMT album 'La Nòvia' from 2000. 'La Nòvia' is an epic forty-minute rendition of an Occitan song. A slowly evolving and droney album with many different and wonderful musical moments all leading to a glorious conclusion. This reissue contains as bonus 'La Nòvia (Live in NY 2016)' featuring Cotton Casino.

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Acid Witch - Witchtanic Hellucinations (CD) Cover Art Acid Witch - Witchtanic Hellucinations (CD)



Acid Witch plays a very trippy, psychedelic and unsurprisingly horror influenced form of doom metal. Yet it's delivered with such unabashed childishness and goofiness, a possible result of what the Scoody Doo cartoon theme would sound like if Electric Wizard had penned it. You'll find elements of Cathedral here, some Witchfinder General there, and some slight nods to Pentagram. Add to that some of Electric Wizard's ultra bassy, fuzzy, and distorted guitar tone and booming production values. Like other traditional doom metal albums the riffs and rhythm patterns move in a lumbering and lurching fashion yet somehow the Witchsters inject some nice doses of sensual grooves that recall 70's Deep Purple. During various listening sessions I felt like I was inside Satan's smoke filled strip club watching strippers complete with horns and cloven hooves gyrating their lovely tail clad asses for the merriment of us sinners and then suddenly I somehow realized that perhaps hell isn't really a bad place after all.

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Acid Witch - Witchtanic Hellucinations (Re-issue) (CD) Cover Art Acid Witch - Witchtanic Hellucinations (Re-issue) (CD)



Acid Witch plays a very trippy, psychedelic and unsurprisingly horror influenced form of doom metal. Yet it's delivered with such unabashed childishness and goofiness, a possible result of what the Scoody Doo cartoon theme would sound like if Electric Wizard had penned it. You'll find elements of Cathedral here, some Witchfinder General there, and some slight nods to Pentagram. Add to that some of Electric Wizard's ultra bassy, fuzzy, and distorted guitar tone and booming production values. Like other traditional doom metal albums the riffs and rhythm patterns move in a lumbering and lurching fashion yet somehow the Witchsters inject some nice doses of sensual grooves that recall 70's Deep Purple. During various listening sessions I felt like I was inside Satan's smoke filled strip club watching strippers complete with horns and cloven hooves gyrating their lovely tail clad asses for the merriment of us sinners and then suddenly I somehow realized that perhaps hell isn't really a bad place after all.

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Price: $15.99
Across Tundras - Dark Songs of the Prairie (CD) Cover Art Across Tundras - Dark Songs of the Prairie (CD)



If you play that Neurosis/Isis strain of music, how are you going to set yourself apart from the likes of Tides, Mouth of the Architect, Souvenir's Young America, Angel Eyes, Disappearer, and all the other groups that have tread the same narrow path this year? If you're Denver's Across Tundras, you embrace your inner shitkicker and bury the vocals low in the mix. Acorss Tundras' sprawling compositions have more of a rock feel. It's as if they're playing something that, if sped up, could actually boogie. There's also a twangy aftertaste, a hint of alt-country. That could draw comparisons to Earth's Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method, but Across Tundras isn't that ethereal and sparse. They're melancholy yet forward moving, and overall they live up to their billing of unleashing a "powerful new statement of rustic, crushing Americana".

Can't avoid the Isis comparisons but these guys do stray from the rigid mold. Songs are sprawling and the playing is really loose but stays heavy.

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Price: $12.99
Across Tundras - Western Sky Ride (CD) Cover Art Across Tundras - Western Sky Ride (CD)



If you play that Neurosis/Isis strain of music, how are you going to set yourself apart from the likes of Tides, Mouth of the Architect, Souvenir's Young America, Angel Eyes, Disappearer, and all the other groups that have tread the same narrow path this year? If you're Denver's Across Tundras, you embrace your inner shitkicker and bury the vocals low in the mix. Acorss Tundras' sprawling compositions have more of a rock feel. It's as if they're playing something that, if sped up, could actually boogie. There's also a twangy aftertaste, a hint of alt-country. That could draw comparisons to Earth's Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method, but Across Tundras isn't that ethereal and sparse. They're melancholy yet forward moving, and overall they live up to their billing of unleashing a "powerful new statement of rustic, crushing Americana."

Can't avoid the Isis comparisons but these guys do stray from the rigid mold. Songs are sprawling and the playing is really loose but stays heavy.

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Price: $8.99
Adrift - Black Heart Bleeds Black (IMPORT) (CD) Cover Art Adrift - Black Heart Bleeds Black (IMPORT) (CD)



Doomed in mood and guitar-led sensibility, Black Heart Bleeds Black songs follow progressive structures to vicious ends and offer little hope to those who’d take them on. More importantly, the overall impression the album gives is more individualized than was the first record, Monolito, and Adrift work within a variety of forms that maintain their pummel even as they change the direction from which that pummel comes. Tonally, it’s metal, and I hear a bit of Converge‘s bombast in the screams of “Mallet Man,” but there’s more happening in these songs than any one band comparison can really convey, the two guitars of Macon and Jorge (the latter also vocals) working into and out of tandem stretches with an ease that skillfully undercuts the difficulty of what they’re actually doing.

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Adrift - Monolito (IMPORT) (CD) Cover Art Adrift - Monolito (IMPORT) (CD)



Vast, slabbish sludge outta Spain here, sharing certain genetic traits with countrymen Moho and coming across like a ravening Kyuss / Cavity crossbreed that's taken the former's easygoing sense of sunburnt grooves and the latter's desperate, fang-baring hostility. Each of the lengthy tracks has been fused together with care and precision, and the band expertly balance atmosphere, texture and balls-out ferocity throughout in a way that places them neatly amongst the upper quartile of today's teeming crop of chimerical, multifaceted metal acts. If there's a downside it's that through it all there's rarely room to breathe amidst the constant battering ram riffs and raw-throated gargles, meaning that you might want to pop the thing on pause and grab a peppermint tea mid-way through rather than endure the whole thing in one long marathon misery fest.

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Price: $16.99
   
 
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