Alas, the disproportionately large amounts of wit that Yours Truly usually would be desperately pressing into each and every sentence fell an easy prey to the haste the passing of one's deadline for submission brings with it... on a happier note, for those expecting the usual four cream-of-the-crop choices from various subgenres of metal along with one quality non-metal artist, read on!
Graves at Sea
Bio: Graves at Sea was formed in 2003 under the scorching Arizona sun with the mission of creating music as bleak and oppressive as the surrounding desert. They went on to release a very well received demo entitled Documents of Grief (which would later be reissued on 20 Buck Spin), a 7 inch on Southern Lord called Atavist Arise, and a monolithic split with Asunder on Life is Abuse. In 2007 Graves at Sea lost their drummer and bassist, replacing them with members of Noothgrush and Sourvein, respectively. The band was slated to tour Japan with Corrupted in 2008 but were forced to break up due to legal and visa issues. They still have a full-length record's worth of unreleased tracks.
Sounds like: Watching your life flash in front of your eyes while dying of thirst in the desert and realizing none of it meant shit. Graves at Sea play a blackened, droning, painful brand of sludge fronted by one of the most intense sludge vocalists in recent years.
Why listen? Because this is what sludge should sound like. Graves at Sea took what bands like Noothgrush and Burning Witch were doing and put their own spin on it, creating some of the most memorable sludge/doom of the past 10 years.
Bio: Hailing from Dallas, Texas, Rigor Mortis play a horrifying, blood-dripping style of thrash metal that oozes with a sort of death metally goodness. Let it be known that this band is fast as all fucking hell. Guitarist Mike Scaccia has an ungodly talent for tremolo picking - his riffs honestly sound like swarms of pissed off bees - and if you don't believe me, listen to the songs below. All three of their main releases are worth owning, but start with the self-titled, or my personal favorite, the Freaks EP - two fantastic slabs of pure, gory, unrelenting metal. The third and so far final release, Rigor Mortis vs. The Earth, is commonly referred to as their worst, but it's by no means a bad album at all.
Sounds like: This is a tough one, really. I suppose one could say this band sounds like a giant Slayer-style tremolo riff break. But I think it's safe to say that Rigor Mortis have a sound like no other.
Why listen? Rigor Mortis are truly a band that don't get the attention they damn well deserve. Listen to this band. Just beware of riff-induced whiplash.
-The Frayed Ends
Bio: Hailing from Kings Mountain, North Carolina, this group of good ol' Americans came together in 2006 and have since created some serious quality brutal death metal. Their debut full length album, Echoes of the Rotting came out in 2007 and since then the group has been constantly playing shows and festivals around the southeastern United States. When not playing brutal death metal, the guys enjoy drinking beer and exercising in the streets.
Sounds like: Awesome brutal death metal. Great usage of slams without getting monotonous, the variety in the riffs is strong and they stay interesting throughout the whole album. Great drumming and brutal vocals, and the production is pretty good for brutal death metal. Clear enough that you can hear what's going on, but muddy enough to get that staple brutal sound.
Why listen? Because it's some really good brutal death metal. Doesn't sound quite like any other specific band, while still feeling familiar for anyone who enjoys brutal death in general.
And in case you find yourself the least bit demolished after this onslaught of brutality...
Bio: Born in 1974, Raymond Charles "Ray" LaMontagne is a Folk singer/songwriter from Nashua, New Hampshire. After hearing a Stephen Stills song, he decided to quit his job and focus on a career in music. His dbut album Trouble was released in 2004. The follow-up album Till the Sun Turns Black was released 2 years later and had a much richer sound mainly due to the increase in instrumentation. His third album Gossip in the Grain followed two years after that. In 2010 his fourth album was released under the name Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs. His music has appeared in a number of TV shows, including One Tree Hill.
Sounds like Most would say folk, but I'd say it is a more contemporary take on folk. There is an element of the sound that has become associated with the term singer/songwriter, too. Till the Sun Turns Black featured a small brass and string section, as well as lots of pitched percussion, adding to the wonderfully dark, almost haunting atmosphere. Ray has a very soft, raspy, yet warm voice that portrays the feelings he's conveying in his lyrics wonderfully well.
Why listen? Great song writing, great music, and great voice, it's like a big warm audible cuddle at times. Till the Sun Turns Black is an incredible album, really dark and atmospheric, yet at the same time strangely uplifting. Sometimes it's nice to take a break from that heavy metal racket, and there are few finer ways than listening to Mr LaMontagne.
Now, remember to take a breather once in a while, maybe even go find out what's the fuss with this 'outside' business people make all the time... until we meet again next Thursday, ta-ta.