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album cover DEATHSPELL OMEGA Paracletus (Season Of Mist) cd 14.98
What can we write about France's mysterious Deathspell Omega that we haven't already? Pretty much the gold standard of forward thinking avant black metal, every record better than the last, more twisted, more complex, and weirdly enough less obviously black metal.
Paracletus is the final part of the group's epic trilogy, which began with Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice, and continued with Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum; like those records, Paracletus is an epic sonic undertaking, present in smaller doses are the requisite black metal buzzing and blasting, but even more than the first two records, which were already reaching beyond the tired tropes of traditional black metal, Paracletus barely seems black metal at all. It's definitely heavy, and seriously intense, complex, but even the blasting blackness is infused with mysterious melody, and impossible textures. Listening to this, we not only find ourselves wondering how people can make music like this, but how they can even conceive of it?
The opening sub two minute 'intro' is all gnarled melodies, twisted atonal mathiness, convoluted and avant and abstract and somehow totally catchy, the blackest part is the vocals, still delivered in a gruff demonic bellow, but other than that, the sound is in a realm all its own. And when you expect the record proper to kick in, the band do explode in a frenzy of blasting fury, but the riffs sound weirdly clean, and are peppered with all sorts of little bits of filigree and little sonic curlicues, not to mention more of those super tangled and gnarled Greg Ginn-ish guitar parts that band is known for, the song a twisted sonic puzzle, a million parts seamlessly woven into an impossibly cohesive whole which is indeed heavy, and black, but has so much cool weird shit going on, strange melodic breakdowns, laid over frantic blast beats, haunting ascending and descending melodies, atonal and angular, and it never lets up, how a band can play this fast, and this intricate, and definitely boggles the mind. And the whole record is like that, the sound both heavy and harsh, but simultaneously clean and melodic, it seems impossible, and sounds weird to describe, but there is something definitely unique going on here, the tone, the arrangements, the SOUND, it's not brittle or buzzy or grim or kvlt or any of that, it's LUSH, and expansive and epic and majestic, but still fierce and dark and intense, there's bass all over the place too, definitely an anomaly for black metal, adding some serious heft, not to mention melodic counterpoint, clean vocals, intense spoken word, doomy stretches that sound more like Codeine than Mutiilation. Not to totally downplay how heavy and TRUE this is, there is no doubt that this is black metal, it's just so above and beyond everything else, so unique and unlike all the other groups out there. We LOVE black metal, but 99 percent of the time we'd fail a blind name that tune or even name that band sort of comparison, cuz so much BM sounds so similar, but we could pick out DSP in a matter of seconds.
For their sound, but also for all the strange stuff they mix into their BM, like the lurching low slung breakdown on "Phosphene", with it's buzzy gothy fuzzbass, and tortured wails, not to mention the woozy main riff and the strange scrapes and slides, or the glimmering prettiness that is "Epiklesis II", which sounds almost like Mogwai or something, growing more and more epic, it even sounds like there are horns or an orchestra, so totally epic and unexpected, or howabout the insane mathiness of "Devouring Famine", along with the twisted dizzying breakdowns and the warped sounding guitars, or finally the whole of "Apokatastasis Panton", which is an incredible slab of black pop, the drums super complex, the arrangement sprawling and serpentine, but the guitars, soaring and melodic, again building and building to a sort of psychedelic blackened Godspeed style climax.
So incredible, the sort of thing that doesn't just feel like the culmination of the record, but of all three records, of the trilogy as a whole, an explosive and emotional and ultimately cathartic release, the sort of thing you don't get from much music, let alone black metal. Easily our new favorite black metal record, and without a doubt, black metal record of the year. TOTALLY ESSENTIAL.
MPEG Stream: "Epiklesis"
MPEG Stream: "Wings Of Predation"
MPEG Stream: "Abscission"
MPEG Stream: "Apokatastasis Panton"

album cover DEATHSPELL OMEGA Paracletus (Season Of Mist) lp 30.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Finally available on vinyl!! Thick gatefold sleeve, presumably limited.
What can we write about France's mysterious Deathspell Omega that we haven't already? Pretty much the gold standard of forward thinking avant black metal, every record better than the last, more twisted, more complex, and weirdly enough less obviously black metal.
Paracletus is the final part of the group's epic trilogy, which began with Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice, and continued with Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum; like those records, Paracletus is an epic sonic undertaking, present in smaller doses are the requisite black metal buzzing and blasting, but even more than the first two records, which were already reaching beyond the tired tropes of traditional black metal, Paracletus barely seems black metal at all. It's definitely heavy, and seriously intense, complex, but even the blasting blackness is infused with mysterious melody, and impossible textures. Listening to this, we not only find ourselves wondering how people can make music like this, but how they can even conceive of it?
The opening sub two minute 'intro' is all gnarled melodies, twisted atonal mathiness, convoluted and avant and abstract and somehow totally catchy, the blackest part is the vocals, still delivered in a gruff demonic bellow, but other than that, the sound is in a realm all its own. And when you expect the record proper to kick in, the band do explode in a frenzy of blasting fury, but the riffs sound weirdly clean, and are peppered with all sorts of little bits of filigree and little sonic curlicues, not to mention more of those super tangled and gnarled Greg Ginn-ish guitar parts that band is known for, the song a twisted sonic puzzle, a million parts seamlessly woven into an impossibly cohesive whole which is indeed heavy, and black, but has so much cool weird shit going on, strange melodic breakdowns, laid over frantic blast beats, haunting ascending and descending melodies, atonal and angular, and it never lets up, how a band can play this fast, and this intricate, and definitely boggles the mind. And the whole record is like that, the sound both heavy and harsh, but simultaneously clean and melodic, it seems impossible, and sounds weird to describe, but there is something definitely unique going on here, the tone, the arrangements, the SOUND, it's not brittle or buzzy or grim or kvlt or any of that, it's LUSH, and expansive and epic and majestic, but still fierce and dark and intense, there's bass all over the place too, definitely an anomaly for black metal, adding some serious heft, not to mention melodic counterpoint, clean vocals, intense spoken word, doomy stretches that sound more like Codeine than Mutiilation. Not to totally downplay how heavy and TRUE this is, there is no doubt that this is black metal, it's just so above and beyond everything else, so unique and unlike all the other groups out there. We LOVE black metal, but 99 percent of the time we'd fail a blind name that tune or even name that band sort of comparison, cuz so much BM sounds so similar, but we could pick out DSP in a matter of seconds.
For their sound, but also for all the strange stuff they mix into their BM, like the lurching low slung breakdown on "Phosphene", with it's buzzy gothy fuzzbass, and tortured wails, not to mention the woozy main riff and the strange scrapes and slides, or the glimmering prettiness that is "Epiklesis II", which sounds almost like Mogwai or something, growing more and more epic, it even sounds like there are horns or an orchestra, so totally epic and unexpected, or howabout the insane mathiness of "Devouring Famine", along with the twisted dizzying breakdowns and the warped sounding guitars, or finally the whole of "Apokatastasis Panton", which is an incredible slab of black pop, the drums super complex, the arrangement sprawling and serpentine, but the guitars, soaring and melodic, again building and building to a sort of psychedelic blackened Godspeed style climax.
So incredible, the sort of thing that doesn't just feel like the culmination of the record, but of all three records, of the trilogy as a whole, an explosive and emotional and ultimately cathartic release, the sort of thing you don't get from much music, let alone black metal. Easily our new favorite black metal record, and without a doubt, black metal record of the year. TOTALLY ESSENTIAL.
MPEG Stream: "Epiklesis"
MPEG Stream: "Wings Of Predation"
MPEG Stream: "Abscission"
MPEG Stream: "Apokatastasis Panton"

album cover DEATHSPELL OMEGA Si Monvmentvm Reqvires Circvmspice (Norma Evangelium Diaboli) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Deathspell Omega's Si Monvmentvm Reqvires Circvmspice is most definitely one of the coolest, weirdest black metal records of the last decade, but unfortunately it's been out of print for a while now. But finally, this amazing disc is available again (and at a much cheaper price), so if you missed out the first time around, keep reading, check out the sound samples and be prepared for some of the most intense and innovative black metal you've ever heard...
Our original review from way back in 2004:
The only way to find out about the best bands, has always been to check out who the other best bands are listening to. So when the black metal elite (including our own West Coast wing, Leviathan, Crebain, Draugar, etc) are all singing the praises of a band, then you know you need to check them out. Such is the case with mysterious black metal horde Deathspell Omega. With a handful of impossible to find releases in the past (now in stock and reviewed elsewhere on the AQ site), Si Monvmentvm Reqvires Circvmspice was the first DO record with any sort of wide distribution. And it was about time too. Deathspell Omega occupy an unholy sonic space somewhere between Burzum, Mutiilation, Leviathan and Xasthur. Droning mostly midtempo black metal (with occasional blast beats), infused with strange arpeggiated minor key guitars, melancholy riffing, super hypnotic ultra memorable songwriting, complex song structures, grim affected vocals, and all sorts of hauntingly beautiful ambient interludes / intros, with martial percussion, liturgical chants and subtle drones, very dark and intensely affecting. Sonically, DO sound a bit like older Enslaved, or early Emperor, but with a strong penchant for unlikely melodies (that subtly surface even in the harshest of musical moments) and hypnotic trance like repetition. One of our favorite new black metal records.
MPEG Stream: "First Prayer"
MPEG Stream: "Sola Fide I & II"

album cover DEATHSPELL OMEGA Si Monvmentvm Reqvires Circvmspice (Norma Evangelium Diaboli) 2lp 32.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Finally available on vinyl. Pretty pricey, but as always GORGEOUS packaging, not to mention one of the most mind blowing black metal records ever, and of course VERY limited.
Deathspell Omega's Si Monvmentvm Reqvires Circvmspice is most definitely one of the coolest, weirdest black metal records of the last decade, but unfortunately it's been out of print for a while now. But finally, this amazing disc is available again (and at a much cheaper price), so if you missed out the first time around, keep reading, check out the sound samples and be prepared for some of the most intense and innovative black metal you've ever heard...
Our original review from way back in 2004:
The only way to find out about the best bands, has always been to check out who the other best bands are listening to. So when the black metal elite (including our own West Coast wing, Leviathan, Crebain, Draugar, etc) are all singing the praises of a band, then you know you need to check them out. Such is the case with mysterious black metal horde Deathspell Omega. With a handful of impossible to find releases in the past (now in stock and reviewed elsewhere on the AQ site), Si Monvmentvm Reqvires Circvmspice was the first DO record with any sort of wide distribution. And it was about time too. Deathspell Omega occupy an unholy sonic space somewhere between Burzum, Mutiilation, Leviathan and Xasthur. Droning mostly midtempo black metal (with occasional blast beats), infused with strange arpeggiated minor key guitars, melancholy riffing, super hypnotic ultra memorable songwriting, complex song structures, grim affected vocals, and all sorts of hauntingly beautiful ambient interludes / intros, with martial percussion, liturgical chants and subtle drones, very dark and intensely affecting. Sonically, DO sound a bit like older Enslaved, or early Emperor, but with a strong penchant for unlikely melodies (that subtly surface even in the harshest of musical moments) and hypnotic trance like repetition. One of our favorite new black metal records.
MPEG Stream: "First Prayer"
MPEG Stream: "Sola Fide I & II"

album cover DEATHSPELL OMEGA Veritas Diaboli Manet In Aeternum: Chaining The Kacheton (Norma Evangelium Diaboli / Ajna) cd ep 11.98
Finally, after waiting and waiting, a brand new Deathspell Omega record. Or track. OK, record. Same difference really. One single sprawling massive 22 minute epic with more parts and compositional complexities than most bands can cram into a record three times as long. And it's the perfect blend of DSO's two disparate sides, their grim and gnarled, frosty, thrashing buzzy black side, and their more obtuse, mathy melodic post rock side. In the past, it seemed like the band would lean heavily in one direction or the other depending on the record, Kenose with it's total slavish and apparently unintentional Slint worship, and then FAS, which seemed to ditch those post rock proclivities in favor of something much more old school.
So it was pretty much a toss up where the band would take their sound, and weirdly enough, this is almost exactly what we were hoping for. A perfect hybrid of the two, with no clear delineation, each side, those battling influences, blurring and bleeding into one another, confusionally bafflingly brilliant, bursts of furious grinding black buzz lead directly into warped stretches of spidery clean guitars and lurching impossible rhythms, soft hushed whispered interludes obliterated by thick roiling black riffery, only to slowly melt before our eyes, twisting and almost detuning, the guitar parts very Polvo-esque, strange tunings, almost skeletal sounding, until the band offer up some impossibly dense complicated BM fury, stop start arrangements, INCREDIBLE drumming, the guitars totally unhinged, but still weirdly catchy. Songs this long are always difficult to pull off, for the best of bands, either parts get recycled, the band repeats itself, or it gets tiresome and then it's a matter of waiting for the song to end. But nothing like that here. So many parts, all thematically and musically linked, but all totally unique, the guitars especially, seem to come to life, like some black weed, while the drums inhumanly stay locked in perfectly. The track shifts from intense frenzy, to woozy groove, to lumbering doom, to jagged mathy stutter, and back again, there even seems to be some horns happening, reminding us of later period Gore.
Even as a musician, it baffles the mind, how anyone is capable of conceiving music this dense and complex and subtly melodic, let along performing it. This just might seal the deal, as if it wasn't sealed already, Deathspell Omega just might be the most progressive, most avant, and fuck it most mind blowing black metal band on the planet right now. Period.
DSO's twenty two minute track is actually from a split, released in conjunction with a new record from countrymen S.V.E.S.T., reviewed elsewhere on this list, and equally as essential, and vinyl folks, you are in luck, both the DSO material and the S.V.E.S.T. songs, while released as separate cds, are available together on a single lp!
MPEG Stream: "Chaining The Katechon (Excerpt)"

album cover DEATHSPELL OMEGA / S.V.E.S.T. Veritas Diaboli Manet In Aeternum (Norma Evangelium Diaboli / End All Life Productions) lp 24.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
The long awaited split from two of our all time favorite black metal outfits, Deathspell Omega and S.V.E.S.T.! Weirdly enough, each band's half of the vinyl split was also released on a separate cd, so if you're a digital kind of person, you're gonna have to buy both cds, and believe us it's well worth it, just read on. But if vinyl is your thing, then you're in luck, cuz both halves, all the material from both cds, is contained on this here lp.
Up first, Deathspell Omega:
Finally, after waiting and waiting, a brand new Deathspell Omega record. Or track. OK, record. Same difference really. One single sprawling massive 22 minute epic with more parts and compositional complexities than most bands can cram into a record three times as long. And it's the perfect blend of DSO's two disparate sides, their grim and gnarled, frosty, thrashing buzzy black side, and their more obtuse, mathy melodic post rock side. In the past, it seemed like the band would lean heavily in one direction or the other depending on the record, Kenose with it's total slavish and apparently unintentional Slint worship, and then FAS, which seemed to ditch those post rock proclivities in favor of something much more old school.
So it was pretty much a toss up where the band would take their sound, and weirdly enough, this is almost exactly what we were hoping for. A perfect hybrid of the two, with no clear delineation, each side, those battling influences, blurring and bleeding into one another, confusionally bafflingly brilliant, bursts of furious grinding black buzz lead directly into warped stretches of spidery clean guitars and lurching impossible rhythms, soft hushed whispered interludes obliterated by thick roiling black riffery, only to slowly melt before our eyes, twisting and almost detuning, the guitar parts very Polvo-esque, strange tunings, almost skeletal sounding, until the band offer up some impossibly dense complicated BM fury, stop start arrangements, INCREDIBLE drumming, the guitars totally unhinged, but still weirdly catchy. Songs this long are always difficult to pull off, for the best of bands, either parts get recycled, the band repeats itself, or it gets tiresome and then it's a matter of waiting for the song to end. But nothing like that here. So many parts, all thematically and musically linked, but all totally unique, the guitars especially, seem to come to life, like some black weed, while the drums inhumanly stay locked in perfectly. The track shifts from intense frenzy, to woozy groove, to lumbering doom, to jagged mathy stutter, and back again, there even seems to be some horns happening, reminding us of later period Gore.
Even as a musician, it baffles the mind, how anyone is capable of conceiving music this dense and complex and subtly melodic, let along performing it. This just might seal the deal, as if it wasn't sealed already, Deathspell Omega just might be the most progressive, most avant, and fuck it most mind blowing black metal band on the planet right now. Period.
And then S.V.E.S.T.:
The return of an old favorite, French duo S.V.E.S.T., who strangely enough haven't released a proper record since 2003 (2005's Coagula compiled older demos), but within 30 seconds, we were totally reminded exactly why we loved these guys so much. And they're a perfect foil for Deathspell, their sound equally fractured and convoluted and fucked up, but where DSO go for something darker and moodier and more melodic, S.V.E.S.T. go in the other direction completely, spitting out frenzied swaths of blurred buzz and wild squalls of intense tangled blackness. These three tracks, are so awesome, we almost, and we're well aware of the sacrilege involved here, but we just might like them as much as, if not even more than the Deathspell half of the split.
Their sound is hard to describe. The first track opens with a dizzying swirl of squiggly guitars, woozy riffs, wild splattery drumming, that seems already like it's bordering on total meltdown, yet that's just the intro, and the band launch into a frenzied assault even more fucked up and dense, but pepper it with cool little melodies and parts that almost sound Viking, albeit buried beneath a roiling black blowout. The guitar does these cool little descending trills, the song lurches and stutters, the drums are relentless, mind blowingly fast and heavy and intricate, until partway through, the sound shifts, and there's a bit of doomy crawl, before leaping right back into the fray. Throughout, there are bursts of total drumming chaos, extra guitars howling and adding yet more layers of buzz. It's so thick and heavy and dense, it takes close listening to pick out all the amazing stuff going on beneath the buzzy black surface.
The second track continues on in much the same vein, with the guitars even more twisted and gnarled, the drums still relentlessly mathy and intricate, slipping from total chaotic black noise, to stumbling groove, to cool pounding dirge, the drums leaping out from the mix, the guitars thick and raw, but soaring majestically at the same time. The sound manages to be epic and classic and technical while also murky and lo-fi, the sounds all blurring together, a heaving mass of constantly shifting blown out blackness, still rife with all manner of tangled little melodies, and sweeping epic ambience.
The closer is short and sweet, the weirdest and creepiest of the bunch, beginning with a staccato machine gun burst of drums and riffage, before slipping into a swirling high end guitardrone, all woozy and overlapping, disembodied riffs and smeared melodies, dizzying and mesmerizing, growing more and more intense, the drums barely there, just those high end guitars glowing hotter and hotter, until finally, the drums kick in, and the track resolves in a totally twisted soaring post rock black metal what the fuck epic outro, that fades out WAY too soon. Holy shit. These guys need to deliver a full length ASAP. and we definitely don't want to wait another 6 years.
LIMITED OF COURSE. And it would be hard not to think, even only nine days into the new year, that this wasn't gonna be the best black metal record of '09. We'll see...
MPEG Stream: DEATHSPELL OMEGA "Chaining The Katechon (Excerpt)"
MPEG Stream: S.V.E.S.T. "Et La Lumiere Fut, Comme Un Coup De Scalpel"

DEB PLAYERS Umoja - Love and Unity (Badda) cd 22.00
Repress of the 1978 Dennis Brown produced, Prince Jammy engineered masterpiece of dub, now rendered obsolete by Blood & Fire's much cheaper Umoja / 20th Century Dubwise twofer sold under Prince Jammy's name.

album cover DEBRIS Static Disposal (Anopheles) cd 14.98
BACK IN PRINT! The cd re-issue of one of those albums collectors would trade their first born for. Gladly. This is head-damaged, heavy Oklahoma psych-punk circa 1975, predating the Butthole Surfers by a solid decade but with the same references to Captain Beefheart and the Red Crayola. Not too many bands in the '70s sounded much like this, with maybe Pere Ubu, the Electric Eels and Simply Saucer being the closest comparisons we can make, to these songs full of raw rock, skronky stomp, electronic skree, and frantic vocals. Static Disposal was also one of the rarities on the notorious Nurse With Wound list! As such, utter obscure weirdness that we're amazed made it to the recording studio, and could teach a thing or two to plenty of bands today found on labels like Load and Corleone. Includes a 10 unreleased tracks from rehearsal tapes, and a thick booklet of photos, lyrics and reminiscences, put together with typical Anopheles record geek thoroughness. Recommended, nice to have it available again!
MPEG Stream: "One Way Split "
MPEG Stream: "Female Tracks"

album cover DEBRIS Static Disposal (Anopheles Records) lp 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
The lp re-issue (after a cd reish a couple years ago) of one of those albums collectors would trade their first born for. Gladly. This is head-damaged, heavy Oklahoma psych-punk circa 1975, predating the Butthole Surfers by a solid decade but with the same references to Captain Beefheart and the Red Crayola. Not too many bands in the '70s sounded much like this, with maybe Pere Ubu, the Electric Eels and Simply Saucer being the closest comparisons we can make. "Static Disposal" was also one of the rarities on the notorious Nurse With Wound list! Recommended.

album cover DEBRIS Static Disposal (Anopheles) lp 22.00
One of those albums collectors would trade their first born for. Gladly. This is head-damaged, heavy Oklahoma psych-punk circa 1975, predating the Butthole Surfers by a solid decade but with the same references to Captain Beefheart and the Red Crayola. Not too many bands in the '70s sounded much like this, with maybe Pere Ubu, the Electric Eels and Simply Saucer being the closest comparisons we can make, to these songs full of raw rock, skronky stomp, electronic skree, and frantic vocals. Static Disposal was also one of the rarities on the notorious Nurse With Wound list! As such, utter obscure weirdness that we're amazed made it to the recording studio, and could teach a thing or two to plenty of bands today found on labels like Load and Corleone.

album cover DEBRIS INC. s/t (Candlelight) cd 15.98
Saint Vitus guitarist + Trouble vocalist, doing drunken old school punk rock with only a hint of the doom metal they're known for...not what you'd expect (or is it?) but it's fun, and Dave Chandler's guitar sound is Vitusy for sure.

album cover DEBRUIT From The Horizon (Civil Music) cd 16.98
Afro-Booty Musique! That's not just one of the song titles here, that's what this is. French techno producer Debruit makes his debut with this lively disc, that weaves both samples and rhythmic inspiration from various sorts of African music old and new (including stuff from "lost African VHS") into a slightly hip-hopped, drum-machine driven, largely instrumental techno funk full of fat, squelchy bass lines and infectious chants. It comes off like a mad, manic mix of the hyperactive, synthed-out sound of South African "Shangaan Electro" and the funky-but-fucked up approach of another aQ fave style, namely "Skweee"!! Syncopated, surreal like the cover art, exotic and energetic, great for a sweaty dance frenzy or fast driving in the car (simply sitting at home in front of the stereo, maybe that too, but you might not be sitting still for long). And track 7 is called "Zef", so now we know Die Antwoord didn't make that up.
Fans of skweee, of Shangaan stuff (particularly the Shangaan Shake remixes Honest Jon's put out), the electrified thumb-piano "Congotronics" of Konono No.1, and that great Francis Bebey "African Electronic Music" collection on Born Bad, all will hear things they like here, in one chaotic, jubilant, groovy jumble!
Next time, we'll probably have the double vinyl version of this too, plus also a remix 12".
MPEG Stream: "Afro Booty Musique"
MPEG Stream: "Zef"
MPEG Stream: "Quest Wind's Seagulls"

album cover DEBRUIT From The Horizon (Civil Music) 2lp 26.00
Now here on vinyl! Afro-Booty Musique! That's not just one of the song titles here, that's what this is. French techno producer Debruit makes his debut with this lively disc, that weaves both samples and rhythmic inspiration from various sorts of African music old and new (including stuff from "lost African VHS") into a slightly hip-hopped, drum-machine driven, largely instrumental techno funk full of fat, squelchy bass lines and infectious chants. It comes off like a mad, manic mix of the hyperactive, synthed-out sound of South African "Shangaan Electro" and the funky-but-fucked up approach of another aQ fave style, namely "Skweee"!! Syncopated, surreal like the cover art, exotic and energetic, great for a sweaty dance frenzy or fast driving in the car (simply sitting at home in front of the stereo, maybe that too, but you might not be sitting still for long). And track 7 is called "Zef", so now we know Die Antwoord didn't make that up.
Fans of skweee, of Shangaan stuff (particularly the Shangaan Shake remixes Honest Jon's put out), the electrified thumb-piano "Congotronics" of Konono No.1, and that great Francis Bebey "African Electronic Music" collection on Born Bad, all will hear things they like here, in one chaotic, jubilant, groovy jumble!
Next time, we'll probably have the double vinyl version of this too, plus also a remix 12".
MPEG Stream: "Afro Booty Musique"
MPEG Stream: "Zef"
MPEG Stream: "Quest Wind's Seagulls"

album cover DECAER PINGA U-Sound Archives #5: Green Conclusion (U-Sound) cd-r 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
The fifth archival document from Jackie-O Motherfucker's U-Sound series features Decaer Pinga, whose members had previously explored the nether regions of shitnoiserock as Prick Decay. The Scottish duo of Dora Doll and Dylan Nyoukis now have quieted things down a bit, well at least for this album, with some non-confrontational improvisations for erratic, lo-fi electric hums and Neil Campbell guitar flutter (who does make a guest appeance). A bit short at 22 minutes, though., but quite nice.
RealAudio clip: "Track 2"
RealAudio clip: "Track 5"

DECAPITATED Organic Hallucinosis (Earache) cd 14.98

album cover DECAYES, THE horNetZ (Mind's Ear Records) cd 22.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.

album cover DECEASED As The Weird Travel On (Thrash Corner) cd 14.98
As do the Deceased. More power to 'em!! If you like metal, you have to like these guys.

DECEASED Behind The Mourner's Veil (Relapse) cd ep 9.98
Virginia's Deceased started as a Voivod-worshipping death metal band, before transforming into a throwback to '80s speed/true metal, featuring denim-clad dual axemen in Maidenesque harmony heaven, and singing drummer/record collector King Fowley belting out his horror-film derived lyrics in a voice uncannily similar to Cronos of Venom. Yet they retain the brutality and complexity of modern death metal. Wow. Anyway, here's a new ep that combines a few new Deceased songs with a bunch of covers, stuff by some of their '80s heroes DRI ("Reaganomics"), Warfare, Tankard, and Anthrax ("Deathrider"). Also includes a cd-rom video.

DECEASED Supernatural Addiction (Relapse) cd 14.98
Melodic death metal with Iron Maiden style guitar harmonies is a now popular style, typified by the likes of In Flames and Dark Tranquility. Deceased can consider themselves a pioneer in the genre, one of the best as well--and they're NOT from Sweden, but the good ol' US of A. Although I'm sure they still worship their heroes Voivod as much as they used to, musically recent Deceased has definitely got more of a "trad" metal sheen to it. Vocalist/drummer King Fowley's vox retain their growling, Cronos-of-Venom styled unclean quality, however. It's still death metal, but with the stress on the METAL. The eight tracks on offer here are all tales of occult horror, taken from fiction and film (from Ambrose Bierce to...The Blair Witch Project! Oh dear).

album cover DECEASED Surreal Overdose (Shrieks From The Hearse Records) cd 14.98

album cover DECEH Fundamental Structure (The Tapeworm) cassette 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Another batch of new tapes from the UK cassette label The Tapeworm, and even less to go on background wise with many of them this time around. Deceh is apparently a duo, which counts drone combo duo among their membership (of two), which is strange since we were fairly sure that there were at least two members of Eleh. Regardless, this is some hushed, gorgeous ULTRA ULTRA minimal dronemusic. Long form dronescapes woven from Hammond organ and sruti box, or more specifically, according to the liner notes, "A close study of the harmonic composition of a Hammond organ and a sruti box with attention given to the organization of isolated frequencies and the effects of these vibrations on brain activity." Which leads us to believe, based on the near static pulsations, and at times barely audible undulations, that the brain activity in question is some sort of deep deep trance. Soft overtones, barely there slow shifting sonic colorations, at times so simple and austere it almost sounds like it's just the buzz of the tape mechanism itself, but at other times, the compositions blossom into something much more lush, and dreamily melodic. Most often hovering somewhere right in between, layered and lush, a tranquil sea of hum and thrum, underpinned by microscopic pulsations, a barely there propulsion, these lengthy inner space explorations shifting ever so gently from krautdrone new age ambient drift to pure tone sine wave shimmer. Lovely.
LIMITED TO 400 COPIES!!

album cover DECEMBERISTS, THE 5 Songs (Hush Records) cd ep 9.98
A not so new EP from AQ faves the Decemberists, although it is new to most of us, since it was originally released in a super limited edition. This curiously titled record (there are actually 6 songs) is another winner from this Dickensian/Gorey-ish troupe of wandering minstrels. A sweetly sour mix of acoustic guitars, brushed drums, lap steel and accordian backing up curious tales of love, loss, drinking, sorrow, loneliness, circuses, family and stolen bicycles. So good.
MPEG Stream: "Oceanside"
MPEG Stream: "Shiny"

album cover DECEMBERISTS, THE A Practical Handbook (Kill Rock Stars) dvd 15.98
We consulted our calendar and it told us that this month we'd see a new Decemberists dvd, and what do you know, it spoke the truth! Despite the dvd's title which made us think it would be some sort of how-to manual, A Practical Handbook is packed with lots of fan pleasing goodies such as a documentary, a complete twelve song long concert at Roseland Theater in Portland, OR from November 2005, and five music videos for their songs "The Tain", "The Bachelor And The Bride", "16 Military Wives", "The Soldiering Life", and "Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect".

album cover DECEMBERISTS, THE Billy Liar (Kill Rock Stars) cd ep 5.98
Four song ep from our favorite Pogues-meet-Neutral-Milk-Hotel Dickensian / Victorian popsters to hold us over until the next proper record. Two tracks from their most recent full length and two new unreleased tracks. Both gorgeous and melancholy, clever and quirky, with unlikely lyrical flights of fancy, off kilter melodies, vigorously strummed acoustic guitars, drunken Pogues-ish bounce, and frontman Colin Meloy's deadpan faux-Cockney vocals. A nice inexpensive introduction to one of our favorite newer bands.
MPEG Stream: "Everything I Try To Do, NothingSeems To Turn Out Right"

album cover DECEMBERISTS, THE Castaways And Cutouts (Kill Rocks Stars) cd 15.98
Andee seems to always find one thing on the list to rave about. This week is no different, here's
Andee raving about this Decemberists disc:
I can't figure out why I like this record so much. On first listen it really doesn't sound like my kind of thing at all. Yet it just sort of grabbed me and I can't stop listening to it. Which is pretty exciting considering how much music I hear everyday and how seldom something just completely takes my breath away. Especially when I'm not expecting to like it! The Decemberists play a sort of mutant hybrid of indie pop and folk. And it is a bit twee, which would usually put me off right away. But for some reason, this record manages to claw it's way out of the twee-pop ghetto. The singer has a very affected, sort of British air which reminds me a bit of Belle And Sebastian (who I'm not a huge fan of), but way less wispy and more gritty and world weary. A bit like Robyn Hitchcock or Dan Bejar of the Destroyer (and the New Pornographers) The music though sounds a lot like Neutral Milk Hotel, all strummed guitars and belted-out vocals, but mixed with the dreamy and pastoral popscapes of Belle and Sebastian and even a little bit of the Pogues sort of celtic campfire stomp/gypsy street music vibe. Lilting and dreamy, but also really sharp and emotional. The lyrics are very bookish and the subject matter is very Dickensian, evoking cobblestone streets and gaslamps and hungry street urchins and idealised Victorian romance. Heartbreakingly bittersweet and once in a while even sort of funny. Like Edward Gorey drawings set to music. A lot of that has to do with the instrumentation, wheezing almost Parisian sounding accordions, ominous rumbling cellos, ghostly theremins, and droning warbling organs that affortlessly create that sort of late night, empty streets, drunk and bitter, wistful and sort of hopeful, broken hearted aura that so much music strives for.
From loping waltzes to bouncing pop to crawling dirges, the Decemberists weave a totally magical spell that totally envelops you and transports you to wherever it is the Decemberists are plying their wares. It's all just so beautiful and catchy and melancholy and absolutely fucking great!
MPEG Stream: "Leslie Anne Levine"
MPEG Stream: "Odalisque"
MPEG Stream: "Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect"

album cover DECEMBERISTS, THE Castaways And Cutouts (Jealous Butcher / Hush) lp 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
NOW ON VINYL.
Here's what we had to say about the cd:
I can't figure out why I like this record so much. On first listen it really doesn't sound like my kind of thing at all. Yet it just sort of grabbed me and I can't stop listening to it. Which is pretty exciting considering how much music I hear everyday and how seldom something just completely takes my breath away. Especially when I'm not expecting to like it! The Decemberists play a sort of mutant hybrid of indie pop and folk. And it is a bit twee, which would usually put me off right away. But for some reason, this record manages to claw it's way out of the twee-pop ghetto. The singer has a very affected, sort of British air which reminds me a bit of Belle And Sebastian (who I'm not a huge fan of), but way less wispy and more gritty and world weary. A bit like Robyn Hitchcock or Dan Bejar of the Destroyer (and the New Pornographers) The music though sounds a lot like Neutral Milk Hotel, all strummed guitars and belted-out vocals, but mixed with the dreamy and pastoral popscapes of Belle and Sebastian and even a little bit of the Pogues sort of celtic campfire stomp/gypsy street music vibe. Lilting and dreamy, but also really sharp and emotional. The lyrics are very bookish and the subject matter is very Dickensian, evoking cobblestone streets and gaslamps and hungry street urchins and idealised Victorian romance. Heartbreakingly bittersweet and once in a while even sort of funny. Like Edward Gorey drawings set to music. A lot of that has to do with the instrumentation, wheezing almost Parisian sounding accordions, ominous rumbling cellos, ghostly theremins, and droning warbling organs that affortlessly create that sort of late night, empty streets, drunk and bitter, wistful and sort of hopeful, broken hearted aura that so much music strives for.
From loping waltzes to bouncing pop to crawling dirges, the Decemberists weave a totally magical spell that totally envelops you and transports you to wherever it is the Decemberists are plying their wares. It's all just so beautiful and catchy and melancholy and absolutely fucking great!
MPEG Stream: "Leslie Anne Levine"
MPEG Stream: "Odalisque"
MPEG Stream: "Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect"

album cover DECEMBERISTS, THE Castaways And Cutouts (Jealous Butcher / Hush) lp 17.98
Maybe our favorite record from these Victorian indie rock troubadours, remastered and reissued. Here's what we had to say about this record WAY back in 2003 when we heard the Decemberists for the very first time...
We can't figure out why we like this record so much. On first listen it really doesn't sound like our kind of thing at all. Yet it just sort of grabbed us and now we can't stop listening to it. Which is pretty exciting considering how much music we hear everyday and how seldom something just completely takes our breath away. Especially when we're not expecting to like it at all! The Decemberists play a sort of mutant hybrid of indie pop and folk. And it is a bit twee, which would usually put us off right away. But for some reason, this record manages to claw it's way out of the twee-pop ghetto. The singer has a very affected, sort of British air which reminds us a bit of Belle And Sebastian, but way less wispy and more gritty and world weary. A bit like Robyn Hitchcock or Dan Bejar of Destroyer (and the New Pornographers) The music though sounds a lot like Neutral Milk Hotel, all strummed guitars and belted-out vocals, but mixed with the dreamy and pastoral popscapes of Belle and Sebastian and even a little bit of the Pogues sort of Celtic campfire stomp/gypsy street music vibe. Lilting and dreamy, but also really sharp and emotional. The lyrics are very bookish and the subject matter is very Dickensian, evoking cobblestone streets and gas lamps and hungry street urchins and idealized Victorian romance. Heartbreakingly bittersweet and once in a while even sort of funny. Like Edward Gorey drawings set to music. A lot of that has to do with the instrumentation, wheezing almost Parisian sounding accordions, ominous rumbling cellos, ghostly theremins, and droning warbling organs that effortlessly create that sort of late night, empty streets, drunk and bitter, wistful and sort of hopeful, broken hearted aura that so much of this sort of music strives for.
From loping waltzes to bouncing pop to crawling dirges, the Decemberists weave a totally magical spell that totally envelops you and transports you to wherever it is the Decemberists are plying their wares. It's all just so beautiful and catchy and melancholy and absolutely fucking great!
MPEG Stream: "Leslie Anne Levine"
MPEG Stream: "Odalisque"
MPEG Stream: "Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect"

album cover DECEMBERISTS, THE Hazards Of Love (Capitol) cd 17.98
We were looking over reviews of all the Decemberists records, and we pretty much raved about every single one, except maybe the last one, the only stinker of the bunch, and heck even that one, featured at least one killer track.
But back around Castaways And Cutouts and Her Majesty, we could not gush enough about these guys and gals, they were like an Edward Gorey drawing come to life, chimney sweeps ands street urchins, tales of Victorian Squalor, frontman Colin Meloy's distinctive voice and his incredible way with words, these guys were tough to beat, every song a super evocative story sung, with characters loveable, loathsome and tragic, truly epic poems set to music.
Besides the Crane Wife, the band's major label debut and one misstep mentioned above, we can't recommend the rest of their catalog enough. Really. We own and love every one. So now we have their long awaited brand new record, a sprawling and epic concept record. And no half assed concept record, this one is carefully plotted, intricate, we've only listened to it a couple times so we're not quite sure exactly what it's about, but it's lyrical and expansive and there seems to be a girl / boy main conflict (hence the title), there are drawings of the main characters in the booklet, the lyrics are total rock opera, male vocals, female vocals, the instrumentation lush, the sound surprisingly heavy here and there. But, and sadly there is a BUT, this is still pretty polished, pretty mainstream, not nearly as raw or urgent as the older stuff, the lyrics while still heads and shoulders above most rock bands, are just not nearly as magical, or clever, or snarky, before, every line was a tongue twister or offered up a clue about some other line, delivered with a smirk and a wink, Meloy was like the narrator of some Tim Burton film about Victorian England (aren't they all sort of), like we said about the Crane Wife, it feels like all the edges have been rounded and dulled. And the amazing instrumentation, here seems lore like filigree, and afterthought, the sound is definitely more mainstream pop. The best moments are when the wheezing accordions come out, which is sadly not nearly often enough. That said, there are some killer moments, a handful of the tracks are really hard and heavy, crunchy guitars, mean lyrics, sure they fit perfectly in the opera, but taken purely as songs, they sort of kick ass, the buzzy chuggy "The Rake's Song", then there's the very Deep Purple-y "The Queen's Rebuke" with thick guitars and heavy heavy organ jams.
So yeah, it's not a mind blower, or a true return to form, but it is a grower, and fans will definitely want this, however they felt about the Crane Wife. For newbies, we'd still have to recommend Castaways, definitely the best Decemberists record, but heck, we like this one more and more with each listen, so who knows, this might be the record that lures you into the Decemberists' squalid Victorian wonderland, and why the heck not, we've missed visiting for sure.
MPEG Stream: "Prelude"
MPEG Stream: "The Hazards Of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won't Wrestle The Thistles Undone)"
MPEG Stream: "Won't Want For Love (Margaret In The Taiga)"
MPEG Stream: "The Rake's Song"

album cover DECEMBERISTS, THE Hazards Of Love (Capitol) 2lp 22.00
We were looking over reviews of all the Decemberists records, and we pretty much raved about every single one, except maybe the last one, the only stinker of the bunch, and heck even that one, featured at least one killer track.
But back around Castaways And Cutouts and Her Majesty, we could not gush enough about these guys and gals, they were like an Edward Gorey drawing come to life, chimney sweeps ands street urchins, tales of Victorian Squalor, frontman Colin Meloy's distinctive voice and his incredible way with words, these guys were tough to beat, every song a super evocative story sung, with characters loveable, loathsome and tragic, truly epic poems set to music.
Besides the Crane Wife, the band's major label debut and one misstep mentioned above, we can't recommend the rest of their catalog enough. Really. We own and love every one. So now we have their long awaited brand new record, a sprawling and epic concept record. And no half assed concept record, this one is carefully plotted, intricate, we've only listened to it a couple times so we're not quite sure exactly what it's about, but it's lyrical and expansive and there seems to be a girl / boy main conflict (hence the title), there are drawings of the main characters in the booklet, the lyrics are total rock opera, male vocals, female vocals, the instrumentation lush, the sound surprisingly heavy here and there. But, and sadly there is a BUT, this is still pretty polished, pretty mainstream, not nearly as raw or urgent as the older stuff, the lyrics while still heads and shoulders above most rock bands, are just not nearly as magical, or clever, or snarky, before, every line was a tongue twister or offered up a clue about some other line, delivered with a smirk and a wink, Meloy was like the narrator of some Tim Burton film about Victorian England (aren't they all sort of), like we said about the Crane Wife, it feels like all the edges have been rounded and dulled. And the amazing instrumentation, here seems lore like filigree, and afterthought, the sound is definitely more mainstream pop. The best moments are when the wheezing accordions come out, which is sadly not nearly often enough. That said, there are some killer moments, a handful of the tracks are really hard and heavy, crunchy guitars, mean lyrics, sure they fit perfectly in the opera, but taken purely as songs, they sort of kick ass, the buzzy chuggy "The Rake's Song", then there's the very Deep Purple-y "The Queen's Rebuke" with thick guitars and heavy heavy organ jams.
So yeah, it's not a mind blower, or a true return to form, but it is a grower, and fans will definitely want this, however they felt about the Crane Wife. For newbies, we'd still have to recommend Castaways, definitely the best Decemberists record, but heck, we like this one more and more with each listen, so who knows, this might be the record that lures you into the Decemberists' squalid Victorian wonderland, and why the heck not, we've missed visiting for sure.
MPEG Stream: "Prelude"
MPEG Stream: "The Hazards Of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won't Wrestle The Thistles Undone)"
MPEG Stream: "Won't Want For Love (Margaret In The Taiga)"
MPEG Stream: "The Rake's Song"

album cover DECEMBERISTS, THE Her Majesty (Kill Rock Stars) cd 14.98
It's a little unfair for me to have to review this now. We've only had it for a week or so, and unlike its predecessor, the immediately accessible and instantly classic Castaways And Cutouts that we raved about earlier this year, I feel like this one is a little less pop, a little more abstract, and may require some -serious- listening, as all great records do. That said, in the last week, Her Majesty has benefited greatly from repeated listenings and is rapidly becoming one of my favorite new records. All of the Decemberists hallmarks we loved on the first record are firmly in place, the Victorian imagery, amazing lyrical wordplay, the wheezing accordian and loping fey folk, the dark melancholia and occasional Pogues-ish drunken cavorting. But from the first track you know this record is going to be a little different. A creepy crawly dirge, with raspy chords wrung from an antique squeezebox, tortured, anguished vocals, with the occasional kick ass waltzy cadenza. And while the record veers wildly from these dreamy mope-y doom ballads to rollicking, ale-hoisting, tongue in cheek upbeat numbers, it's those slower, more sinister tracks that really hold the whole thing together. Doomed and dismal, but never at a loss for a quick witted barb, or pithy turn of phrase. Gloriously and melodically despondent, occasionally playfully frolicsome, but always so so so good!
MPEG Stream: "Shanty for the Arethusa"
MPEG Stream: "Billy Liar"

DECEMBERISTS, THE Her Majesty (Kill Rock Stars) lp 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
It's a little unfair for me to have to review this now. We've only had it for a week or so, and unlike its predecessor, the immediately accessible and instantly classic Castaways And Cutouts that we raved about earlier this year, I feel like this one is a little less pop, a little more abstract, and may require some -serious- listening, as all great records do. That said, in the last week, Her Majesty has benefited greatly from repeated listenings and is rapidly becoming one of my favorite new records. All of the Decemberists hallmarks we loved on the first record are firmly in place, the Victorian imagery, amazing lyrical wordplay, the wheezing accordian and loping fey folk, the dark melancholia and occasional Pogues-ish drunken cavorting. But from the first track you know this record is going to be a little different. A creepy crawly dirge, with raspy chords wrung from an antique squeezebox, tortured, anguished vocals, with the occasional kick ass waltzy cadenza. And while the record veers wildly from these dreamy mope-y doom ballads to rollicking, ale-hoisting, tongue in cheek upbeat numbers, it's those slower, more sinister tracks that really hold the whole thing together. Doomed and dismal, but never at a loss for a quick witted barb, or pithy turn of phrase. Gloriously and melodically despondent, occasionally playfully frolicsome, but always so so so good!
MPEG Stream: "Shanty for the Arethusa"
MPEG Stream: "Billy Liar"

DECEMBERISTS, THE Live At Bull Moose (Captiol) cd 6.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.

DECEMBERISTS, THE Long Live The King (Capitol) 10" 14.98

album cover DECEMBERISTS, THE Picaresque (Kill Rock Stars) cd 15.98
By now, avid readers of the AQ list should know that we love the Decemberists. How could we not? Catchy quirky pop, mournful and melancholy, depressingly jubilant, joyously dour, somewhere between Neutral Milk Hotel, the Smiths and the Pogues, with lyrics that meld Dickensian squalor with Edward Gorey pathos, all delivered in a quavering, affected, lispy faux British accent. C'mon! What's not to love? So then when it came time to review their new record, after only a few listens, we were faced with the prospect, of the usual "Another great album" or "More of that stuff we love, not all that different, but who cares, 'cuz we loved the last record!". And while those statements are most definitely true, having listened to this record over and over and over for the last few days, it's actually become perhaps our favorite record of theirs. Part of the problem seemed to be loading the beginning of the record with upbeat barnstorming footstompers, which are of course great and the Decemberists are definitely adebt at channelling their inner Pogue, but those sort of tracks work better peppered around the Decemberists' more downtempo miserablisms, which is precisely what happens around track 5. It IS after all a concept record, so perhaps the story arc requires that specific sequence, but track five, a brooding dirge of a tale about a spy mouring for his captured partner, and reflecting on the passing of microfilm to his sweetheart and cuddling atop buildings, is where the Decemberists magic really kicks in, and keeps up for the rest of the record. Dark and eloquent, silly and absurd, sweet and sorrowful. And that magic is sort of retroactive, as once the record finished and we returned to the beginning, those first few tracks made that much more sense and the whole record suddenly seemed absolutely perfect.
MPEG Stream: "The Infanta"
MPEG Stream: "We Both Go Down Together"
MPEG Stream: "Eli, The Barrow Boy"

album cover DECEMBERISTS, THE Picaresque + Picaresqueties (Kill Rock Stars) 2lp 21.00
We love the Decemberists, and their most recent full length, Picaresque, quickly became a beloved AQ favorite. Now, that glorious record has gotten reissued on double vinyl with a WHOLE EXTRA SIDE (5 tracks or "Picaresqueties" as the Decemberists call them) of music not on the cd, as well as a 24 page booklet with all new photos. Here's what we said about the cd:
By now, avid readers of the AQ list should know that we love the Decemberists. How could we not? Catchy quirky pop, mournful and melancholy, depressingly jubilant, joyously dour, somewhere between Neutral Milk Hotel, the Smiths and the Pogues, with lyrics that meld Dickensian squalor with Edward Gorey pathos, all delivered in a quavering, affected, lispy faux British accent. C'mon! What's not to love? So then when it came time to review their new record, after only a few listens, we were faced with the prospect, of the usual "Another great album" or "More of that stuff we love, not all that different, but who cares, 'cuz we loved the last record!". And while those statements are most definitely true, having listened to this record over and over and over for the last few days, it's actually become perhaps our favorite record of theirs. Part of the problem seemed to be loading the beginning of the record with upbeat barnstorming footstompers, which are of course great and the Decemberists are definitely adebt at channelling their inner Pogue, but those sort of tracks work better peppered around the Decemberists' more downtempo miserablisms, which is precisely what happens around track 5. It IS after all a concept record, so perhaps the story arc requires that specific sequence, but track five, a brooding dirge of a tale about a spy mouring for his captured partner, and reflecting on the passing of microfilm to his sweetheart and cuddling atop buildings, is where the Decemberists magic really kicks in, and keeps up for the rest of the record. Dark and eloquent, silly and absurd, sweet and sorrowful. And that magic is sort of retroactive, as once the record finished and we returned to the beginning, those first few tracks made that much more sense and the whole record suddenly seemed absolutely perfect.
MPEG Stream: "The Infanta"
MPEG Stream: "We Both Go Down Together"
MPEG Stream: "Eli, The Barrow Boy"

album cover DECEMBERISTS, THE The Crane Wife (Capitol) cd 17.98
We've been in love with the Decemberists since the very first time we laid ears on them. A super quirky, hyper literate, Dickensian jangle pop, equal parts Neutral Milk Hotel, Belle And Sebastian, Robyn Hitchcock, Destroyer, the Pogues and some lost Victorian musical featuring Lords and Ladies and LOTS of chimney sweeps. Like an Edward Gorey drawing come to life. In fact if anyone was ever to make a musical of Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies it sure as hell better feature original music by the Decemberists: "Be is for Basil assaulted by Bears... la la la..."
Anyway, the Crane Wife is the Decemberists' first major label release, and we were all a little surprised when we first found out they were making the leap. It makes perfect sense of course. They've gotten more and more popular over the last couple years, so it was sort of inevitable. But we were all wondering how the world would react to such a brainy, unlikely pop combo. Definitely not the sort of thing you hear on the radio or on MTV.
On first glance everything seems intact for some serious subverting from within. A super spare handdrawn, slightly morbid cover, a little bit of blood, the band drawn in full Victorian finery, bizarre song titles, and a couple LONG song suites! Lengthy multi-part epics, a little bit of prog mixed in with their usual dour jangle.
But while the band stood their ground on design, and song structure and the like, they did seem to sacrifice some of their overt musical weirdness. They always had the potential to slip into some mainstream strum and croon, but always stayed just on the weird side of that slippery slope. But on the Crane Wife, lots of the songs sound like the all the sharp edges were filed down, not just musically, but lyrically as well. Meloy got as much press for his hilariously poignant tales of murder and misery as for his clever indie folk pop. But except for the super stripped down lament "Shankill Butchers", probably the best track on the record, just guitar, accordion and a creepy wailing tale of butchery in Meloy's trademark about to crack faux-British brogue, the rest of the record could just as easily be the Crash Test Dummies or Bare Naked Ladies as the hippest indie rock band in the land.
That's not to say the record is bad, it's not. In fact it's pretty darn good, there are just a handful of cringeworthy moments that go down so wrong and make it tough to listen to the whole record straight through. The most egregious example being the cheesy, eighties funky Dire Straits groove of "The Perfect Crime #2" complete with highly inappropriate guitar leads and female background vocals. Ugh. A few other tracks also like either serious missteps or bids for commercial airplay or both. But at least half the record still pushes all the same buttons. A delightfully dour jangle, like a more depressed Pogues, or an 18th century Neutral Milk Hotel.
If you don't have ANY Decemberists records, but have wanted to check them out, for god's sake, get them in this order: Castaways and Cutouts first, then Her Majesty and then Picaresque. If you still need more (and you probably will if you end up being as taken with these guys as we are) there are a handful of ep's as well. At that point, if you're still jonesing, -then- it's time to pick up the Crane Wife, even if it's just to play "Shankill Butchers" over and over and over and over...
Reservedly recommended. Sort of.
MPEG Stream: "The Crane Wife 3"
MPEG Stream: "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)"
MPEG Stream: "Shankill Butchers"

album cover DECEMBERISTS, THE The King Is Dead (Capitol) cd 17.98

album cover DECEMBERISTS, THE The King Is Dead (Capitol) cd 17.98

DECEMBERISTS, THE The King Is Dead (Capitol) lp 21.00

DECEMBERISTS, THE The King Is Dead (Capitol) lp 21.00

album cover DECEMBERISTS, THE The Tain (Kill Rock Stars) cd ep 10.98
This out of print mini album has just been re-issued by the kind folks at Kill Rock Stars, so those of you who missed out last time around get another chance. Here's what we had to say the first time around:
A new ep from our favorite Dickensian miserablists. One eighteen minute track called The Tain, a five part mini epic based on Celtic myth, that starts off as a creeping, slowed down waltz, all fuzzy minor keys, and mournful guitars before picking up into punk rock Pogues territory, rollicking and rocking with warbly organs, and a super hypnotic groove, and of course Colin Meloy's insantly recognized lisping brogue-ish drawl. As with any epic, moods shift and sounds change continuously taking the listener on a musical/emotional journey. Throughout the rest of the Tain, the sound shifts from lugubrious ballads of mopery and misery to circus flecked nursery rhymes to Parisian folk and back. So good!
Allan also has to point out that The Tain is the same book of Irish myth that our local metal faves Slough Feg like to drawn upon for their lyrics too...
MPEG Stream: "The Tain (excerpt)"

album cover DECIBEL #103 May 2013 magazine 4.95
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Latest issue of the USA's best glossy metal mag, with Cathedral on the cover, also Kvelertak, Iron Reagan, Batillus, Pestilence (Hall Of Fame induction), and more - including their 9th Annual "Extreme" Baseball Preview for those who care - which a lot of metallers do it turns out, seeing who participated.
Also, lots of reviews (leading off with the new Ghost opus), and the usual amusing columns including John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats "South Pole Dispatch" (this time he parodies the BS of an "asshole product manager").

album cover DECIBEL #104 June 2013 magazine 4.95
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We read every issue of Decibel anyway, but even if we didn't we'd have picked this one up, just for the 3 page feature all about Metal-Archives.com, a website we visit more often than Facebook, Wikipedia, and D-Listed combined. Plus, there's the cover story about this year's Decibel tour (Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death, Immolation and assorted openers), and the Hall of Fame feature on Carcass's Heartwork. And plenty more: Kylesa, Purson, Jungle Rot, Dillinger Escape Plan, Altar Of Plagues, Nails, The Ocean, etc., along with the usual slew of columns, news, and reviews.

album cover DECIBEL #106 August 2013 magazine 4.95
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Decibel, the premier metal magazine in the USA, is a must for any metaller who wants to keep current but doesn't want all their reading to be done online. And at a mere $4.95 it's a better deal than most magazines these days. This issue has Amon Amarth on the cover (ho hum) but plenty of cool stuff inside, about bands like Deafheaven, Witch Cross (yes!), Scale The Summit, Pig Destroyer (entering the Hall Of Fame for Prowler In The Yard), Aborym, Lesbian, Coffins, and more. Plus the usual informative & amusing reviews and columns (including John Darnielle of the Mountain Goat's back page South Pole Dispatch).
And, best of all for some of us here, there's an 8-page oral history of another metal magazine, the sadly missed Metal Maniacs (1988-2007), a staple of our metal-mad youth. Ah, the nostalgia!

album cover DECIBEL #108 October 2013 magazine 4.95
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"116 purulent pages" it sez right here on the cover of this new issue of this recommended metal read, and since that cover also features the return of CARCASS, that seems appropriate. Also to be found within those 116 pages of purulence: Gorguts, Trouble, Baroness, Broken Hope, Windhand, High On Fire (entering the Decibel Hall Of Fame with Surrounded By Thieves), Gwar, Fleshgod Apocalpyse, Witherscape, and more - including the usual amusing John Darnielle column on the back page.

album cover DECIBEL #109 November 2013 magazine 4.95
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On the cover, Swedish sensations In Solitude - the blurb being, "Have they made the album of the year?" (No, please Decibel, don't ask that, you're ruining it for us, you know how music/metal nerds are, there will be a backlash.) Too much hype or not, it's an interesting article about an interesting band who have made a pretty cool and unexpected record. Plus: Monster Magnet, Skeletonwitch, Bad Religion (Hall of Fame induction), Ghoul, Shining, ex-Kyuss dudes Vista Chino, Morbid Angel (talking about Covenant, NOT their last album), Grave Miasma, and more, including all the usual amusing reviews and columns (why more Mountain Goats fans don't buy this just for John Darnielle's South Pole Dispatch, we don't know).
And there's a special feature on "The real cost of illegal downloads in metal", but if you buy a print magazine you probably also buy records and cds so it won't be a guilt trip for most of you.

album cover DECIBEL #110 December 2013 magazine 4.95
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What, it took 'til issue one hundred and ten for Decibel to induct Venom's album Black Metal into their Hall Of Fame? Better late than never. So, this issue contains the story of the making of that seminal record, along with much else besides. On the cover, prolific retro trash dude Joel Grind of Toxic Holocaust. Also, features big and small on: Noctum, The Ruins Of Beverast, Pestilence, Death Angel, Onslaught, and plenty more. There's a Q&A with Darkthrone's Nocturno Culto (whose new solo project, Gift Of Gods, we'll probably review soon), and a book excerpt from Decibel's new guide to "extreme" beers, Brewtal Truth. Plus news, reviews, and amusing columns including yet another South Pole Dispatch from Mr. Mountain Goats himself, John Darnielle.

album cover DECIBEL #111 January 2014 magazine 4.95
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The year-end issue of this metal mag has ol' King Diamond on the cover, and the editorial staff's Top 40 albums of 2013 inside, always a fun read (#1 = Carcass).
There's also stuff on Oranssi Pazuzu, Funeral Circle, Corrections House, Andy Sneap, and Integrity (Hall of Fame for Systems Overload). Plus all the usual columns and reviews and stuff, including the reason to always read the last page of Decibel first, John "Mountain Goats" Darnielle's always amusing, or at least strange, South Pole Dispatch.

album cover DECIBEL #112 February 2014 magazine 4.95
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Lemmy of Motorhead looks like he's hanging in there on the cover of this issue of the premier US metal mag. Inside: Opeth enters the "Hall of Fame" with Blackwater Park, there's a live report from Phil Anselmo's Housecore Horror Film Fest, a rundown on what the magazine considers the 20 most anticipated albums of 2014, and stuff on such bands as Beastmilk, Mogwai, Satan's Wrath, Godflesh, among others. Reviews, funny columns, news bits, and all the rest round out the issue. As always, informative and amusing reading for the metal-fixated among you, we recommend it.

album cover DECIBEL #113 March 2014 magazine 4.95
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Can't wait to read the article entitled "Posing Hard: Yoga & Extreme Metal"! Also this ish there's Behemoth on the cover, Hirax, Pentagram Chile, Grand Magus, The Wounded Kings, Alcest, Thou, Indian and lots more. Plus plenty of reviews, funny columns, etc.

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