To Hell And Back is a weekly column in which Noisey metal editor and lifelong hesher Kim Kelly explores the extreme metal underground and recommends her latest faves.
Do you ever wish that music would just… stop?
I know that it’s a fairly ridiculous sentiment, one that I’m sure the millions of musicians and artists out there who pour their hearts and souls into what they create would certainly not appreciate, but it’s how I feel a lot of the time these days. It’s my literal job to keep up on new developments in heavy metal—just heavy metal, not even a punishingly broad category like “rock” or "pop”—and even that is overwhelming sometimes due to the constant deluge of new albums and promos and demos that enter my consciousness on the daily.
If I want to listen to an old Entombed record, or a Black Flag album, or some song that reminds me of my dad, that involves me making an active decision to swap that for something new. Sitting down with your favorite Aretha Franklin album or the shitty demo your best friend's high school emo band made is just as important as blasting the new Exhumed, but sometimes it almost feels like cheating. When a premium is placed on new, older releases get shunted to the side; and with our current rapid pace of consumption, wherein an album that was released three months ago may as well have come out three decades ago, it leaves one to wonder: how do we ever catch up?
There is so much music out there already, and more being made and disseminated and dreamed up every second of every hour of every day; even isolating your interest into one of two specific niches like I tend to does little to help stem the flood of available noise, because even if all you listen to is heavy metal or country or dancehall, there is always going to be more.
The answer is that, no, you’re never going to catch up. You’ll never hear every single death metal album that’s ever been recorded, or every hip-hop song, or every experimental noise demo. Without taking an especial, concentrated effort, you probably won’t even hear every Iron Maiden album, because there are always imports and B-sides and demos to consider. You just won’t, and what’s more, you’ll never have time to catch up on every aspect and angle of your favorite genre, because time will keep marching on, artists will keep making new art, and you’ve got to pay rent and walk the dog and remember to eat a fucking salad once in awhile on top of all of that active listening, and it’s all Sisyphean at best.
So, you know, we do our best. This week’s column is a mix of brand-new releases (Bosse-de-Nage, Dödsrit, Ancst, Pallbearer), recent ones (Tragedy, Communal Misery) and very old ones (Fall of the Bastards, Corrodead). Go listen to the new tunes from Thrawsunblat and Set and Setting when you're done. They are all very good. They are all worth your time, and they all deserve a chance to be heard
San Francisco’s black metal iconoclasts Bosse-de-Nage remain one of the oddest entities in a scene long crowded with forward-thinkers and freaks—and, perhaps even more strangely, are about to release their most straight-forward recording to date. Their fifth album isn’t exactly Transilvanian Hunger, but the band’s impassioned take on black metal is far more streamlined and rock-oriented than it’s been in the past, especially on songs like the clamoring, percussive “Crux.” Envelop yourself in the stark, shattered world of Further Still, and cop it from The Flenser on September 14.
This Swedish solo project whips together a delicious Oathbreaker-esque blend of d-beat, crust, screamo, sludge, and atmospheric black metal that ticks all the boxes if you’re looking for something that’s aggressive as hell but is also unapologetically pretty when the mood strikes. Stream "A Drowning Voice" off the outfit’s new album, Spirit Crusher, and look for it from Prosthetic Records (who, I must say, are on a fucking tear lately) come September 28.
The granddaddies of stadium crust just Beyoncéd the fuck out of their new (!) album, Fury, and it’s an absolute blessing from the gods of punk. I couldn’t be more delighted with this turn of events, because at a time like this, a new Tragedy album is not only appreciated, it’s fucking necessary (and, of course, the album rules—that’s kind of a given, but worth noting just the same).
Fall of the Bastards
This record came out back in 2004, and the band disintegrated in 2005, but I love it very, very much and think y’all should give it a spin, because it’s a damn good melodic black/thrash album and all of its creators went on to found or join dope bands like Oakhelm, Knelt Rote, Aldebaran, Wolves in the Throne Room, and an improbable amount of others. Consider it a quick little history lesson about how metalheads in Portland, OR have been killing it for decades.
I’ve been a fan of Ancst’s neocrust-tempered, hardcore-flecked black metal for a good while now, and am extremely excited about their just-announced upcoming new album, Abolitionist. This German outfit has been out here flying the black flag for anti-fascist black metal for ages, and they’ll release this latest record just in time for their European tour with black metal anarchists Dawn Ray'd this November. Check out the first single, “Vicious Cycle,” a screed against the crushing banality of life under capitalism.
Communal Misery is a very strange property. The vocals scream (or, rather, roar) brutal death metal (with the occasional gang chants), but half the riffs scream black thrash, the other half wreak more death, the guitar tone is straight outta Sunlight Studios, and the rhythm section howls hardcore. The end result is a dynamic mishmash of extreme metal whose sonic twists and turns are often unexpected—but totally work.
Corrodead is another dead band, and another such entity that deserves your undivided attention. Just because you and I will never get to see them play live doesn't mean we shouldn't avail ourselves of the Edmonton outfit's finely-forged blackened crust, or scream along to "Thrash the Fash" whenever possible (and their Iskra affiliation certainly doesn't hurt).
Few things have ever made more sense than Pallbearer covering Pink Floyd. Their track is taken from Magnetic Eye Records' upcoming Floyd tribute compilation,
The Wall [Redux]
, which also features covers from the Melvins, Mark Lanegan, ASG, Year of the Cobra, and many more. Honestly, I can’t stand Pink Floyd, but this? This rips.
Kim Kelly is Noisey's metal editor; she dwells on Twitter here.