Well, that’s another year in the rearview mirror. Here at Shardik Media – and Flying Fiddlesticks Music Blog – we had a pretty good year. We published 238 new release reviews, covered twenty-five live events, including six music festivals, and put up 365 articles in total. That is the most we have done so far in the four years we have been operating, so I am going to mark that up as a win.
Our gratitude and thanks to all our readers, the bands, record labels, PR people, and promoters. It was a great year in heavy metal, and I predict an even better one in 2023.
Canadian punk-n-roll band The Black Halos are back with a new album, How The Darkness Doubled, twenty three years after their first.
Think back to 2001 when the iconic underground record label Sub Pop released The Violent Years, The Black Halos’ second album. It was a big success for the Vancouver band, riding hot on the heels of their self-titled debut from a couple years before. There were a series of line-up changes after that, and the band came together and drifted apart several times over the years. They did release several more records, EPs, and compilations. How The Darkness Doubled is their fifth studio long-player. Original songwriters Billy Hopeless, Rich Jones, and Jay Millette, have reunited now and are joined by new members John Kerns and Danni Action.
The record begins with “A History of Violence,” a peppy snarler. The vocals are a combination of melodic and a bit of a growl, and the catchy music features unforgettable singalong lines that will have the crowds at live shows joining in. “Tenement Kids” follows with a slight downshift in tempo and an upshift in attitude. Different still, “Uncommonwealth” brings an insistent urgency in the delivery. With these opening songs, and all of them, truly, the guitars are the driving force, and the vocals are what make the music stick in your head.
There are a dozen songs on the new record, each one its own individual implementation of the band’s unique, appealing style. Stand out tracks include “Better Days” – see the video for a feel of the band in action in 2022, and “A Positive Note,” the closer and one of my personal favorites of the set. I am glad to hear new music from The Black Halos, and I hope this album is a sign of more to come. Recommended.
How The Darkness Doubled is out now. You can get the digital at Bandcamp – the vinyl might be sold out by now. Follow the links below to find out.
Abysmal Lord let out the beast on their third full-length album, Bestiary Of Immortal Hunger.
New Orleans has a metal scene that both destroys and innovates. Fitting right in, Abysmal Lord has tracked loud and offensive metal since their first demo back in 2013. Their previous two long-players, Disciples of the Inferno (2015) and Exaltation of the Infernal Cabal (2019), are surrounded by a sea of EPs, with a live record and a split in there for good measure. Their place in the metal scene is secure and their expression is unmuted, never more so than on the new album.
After a creepy ninety second intro, the sinister proceedings get fully going with the barbaric “Satanic Return.” There is a steadying rhythm that the musical violence rides upon during the assault and the vocals, too, offer a kind of reassuring linearity. Caustic other elements bristle and shriek and threaten. “Glowing Baphomet” is an uneasy meeting of speed and sloth, each taking bites out of the other as the song progresses. A noisy lead guitar break rattles membranes and deadens your autonomic responses. “Medo da Morte (yrasor)” is an instruction leading into the feature, “Bestiary of Immortal Hunger.” The title track is nearly groovy in its opening bars, but never fear – chaos does indeed follow. There is a battering blackness that surrounds you, and the guitar becomes a beast that spits burning sulfur.
The album is a pestilence in declaration and retort; a savoring of the wretched and profane. Enjoy particularly the impatience of “Carcass of the Living God” and the vile indifference of “Towering Leviathan” where the music has its own agenda and cares nothing at all for the listener. “Ultra Expulser” is a forbidden curiosity and nearly an epic with its four-minute running time. The final words are in “Deny the Paradise.” Odd and compelling chanting give way to guttural barks and croaks, leading to a local downward spiral and plotting a course toward earsplitting guitar nastiness. It is a delight. Recommended.
Bestiary Of Immortal Hunger is out on Friday, December 30th through Hells Headbangers Records on digital, CD, and cassette, with vinyl to follow early next year. Start the new year on the right hoof by clicking the links below.
Norwegian stoner rock band Siberian Tusk heat up the strings for their new album Reapers By Trade.
Siberian Tusk was started by three members from the band Traktor in 2014. Two years later they released their first EP, Mammuthus Subplanifrons, and two years after that, another, Paved Ground and Desert Sounds. With the groundwork firmly laid and right on schedule, the band’s debut long-player came out in 2020, Save My Soul. The musical style is stoner rock and adjacent lands. The band is Begil (guitar, vocals), Inge Morten (bass, vocals), Kent Rune (guitar), and René (drums).
“Rich & Poor” starts the set off with a firm hand, laying down rugged riffs and insistent vocals on the heavy side of stoner rock with a steady groove. It is a high-energy song, driving and urgent. The guitar lines move together and alongside the vocals, with a lead flourish breaking out toward the end. “Goes Around” has a more mystical tint. The musical narrative is determined, and here the guitars speak earnestly. And then with “Desert Sun” drama heats up and you can feel jeopardy in the air. Three different looks from the very beginning give you a fair notion of what is to come.
Siberian Tusk works to combine rugged and emphatic elements with memorable grooving riffs in a way that other bands don’t. The unique presentation they achieve is very impressive. They can take a standard set up and turn it in surprising ways, like on “Reaper Blues,” for example, where traditions are both celebrated and expanded upon. Really, on any track you will hear rustic beats of one stripe or another alongside or in tandem with melodic moments, one or the other in prominence, and all working together to achieve a bigger outcome than could have been had alone. It is in this endeavor that the band excels. Recommended.
Reapers By Trade is out now through Hidden Noise Records. Check it out at the links below.