Druids, Shadow Work (Pelagic 2022)

A new cauldron full of conjuring boils forth with Shadow Work, the next Druids album.

I would not necessarily have thought to look toward Des Moines, Iowa for ritual doom metal, but that is where you will find it with Druids. Drew Rauch (bass, vocals), Luke Rauch (guitar, vocals), and Keith Rich (drums) are purveyors of more than simply doom. For almost fifteen years, intense, spellbinding sounds have been emanating from the continental middle ground, and later, the mountain west. After three previous long-players, including 2019’s Monument, they have now laid down their most impressive tracks to date with Shadow Work.

Comprised of six long songs and two shortish tracks, the ruminating starts on “Aether.” I get the ritual feel here, from the very beginning. It is not an ayahuasca situation, at least not in my head. There is a meditation and there is also an offering. As the music continues on “Path To R,” “Ide’s Koan,” and especially “Hide,” the mantra is there if you will only hear it; the sentience is present if only you will avail yourself of it. The percussion, driving bass, and illustrious guitar work channel the mainsource and the vocals are guiding calls, relatively rare in the scheme of things but absolutely necessary.

The second half is every bit as pulverizing. “Dance of Skulls” is perhaps my favorite track on the album because of the way it opens your mind, opens into your mind. It is transportative in its declarations and repetitions, imploring you simultaneously to let go and to embrace. “Othenian Blood” is the scariest track, and “Traveller” is an excellent transition to the final movement, “Cloak-Nior Bloom.” It would be bestial to listen to only part of this record. There is meaning in each individual bit, and, while that meaning is preserved within the fullness of the complete experience, it is also enhanced. If you miss this album, you will be diminished. Highly recommended.

Pelagic Records releases Shadow Work today, Friday, June 3rd. Investigate at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://druidsiowa.bandcamp.com/album/shadow-work

Website, https://druidsiowa.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/druidsiowa/

Pelagic Records, https://pelagic-records.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Druids, Shadow Work (Pelagic 2022)

Deathblow, Insect Politics (Sewer Mouth Records 2020)

Salt Lake City Thrash Metal atomizers have cooked up a searing slab of crooked speed just in time for the holidays.

The band is Holton Grossl (guitar and vocals), Paul LaChica (bass), Rob Larsen (drums), and Adam Kelly (guitar). In 2014 they released Prognosis Negative, a high speed recantation of the extant world. The following year we got an EP, The Other Side Of Darkness. Now there is Insect Politics, which is a little bit of a divergence from the earliest music, heading down the side streets of heavy music while maintaining a cynical attitude. It is still clearly Thrash. The subjects of the songs have the superficial impression of seriousness, but when the band and the first album are named after made-up movies from a TV sitcom, you have to know that this music is about having a good time while you are complaining about the world.

“Brain Bugs” gets things going, and its opening is very dramatic and theatrical, with a ninety second lead-in that is a misdirection for the chaotic hailing that is to come. The lead inserts are blistering and the vocals are frenetic – just like if your brain was filled with scrambling insects. The next track, “Accelerated Decrepitude,” has an almost military persistence to it, and some fantastic bass lines to go along with the wildfire guitars. Every song has a different take on one thing or another and they are all high energy metal.

There is no slowing down, and the turns come hard and fast. The riffs and leads are cleverly arranged, some sounding like a dramatic insurgence and others more like a fire-snorting dragon with a leg cramp. You can read into these songs as much or as little as you like, experiencing whatever level of satire you suits you. The killer music is there and it straight up rips, no matter what your level of social and political engagement. Recommended.

Insect Politics is out today. Bandcamp is the first call for CDs, vinyl, digital, and cassettes. You can have your Thrash any way you like.

Links.

Deathblow Bandcamp, https://deathblow1.bandcamp.com/music

Deathblow Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/deathblowofficial

Sewer Mouth Records, https://www.facebook.com/sewermouthrecords/

Deathblow, Insect Politics (Sewer Mouth Records 2020)

Yaotl Mictlan, Sagrada Tierra del Jaguar review (American Line Productions 2020)

Salt Lake City Metal band Yaotl Mictlan take us on a savage journey with their third album, Sagrada Tierra del Jaguar.

The band is brothers Yaotl and Tlatecatl joined by Tenoch (according to The Metal Archives). The press release reveals: “The brothers shared a mutual passion around their Mexica and Mayan culture. Their lyrics focus on the belief that after Christians colonized Mexico, their people lost their identity and succumbed to a colonized way of life; the lyrics are inspired by the unfortunate way in which at the present time their people live in extreme self-hatred. Ultimately, they would like to see the end of the colonized way of thinking and for their people to embrace their roots.” Knowing the background and inspiration of the composers sometimes gives listeners additional insight into the music, thereby making it more impactful. I definitely think that is true in this case because the motivation is so powerful.

The music is extremely heavy, even with the gentle opening of “Entre lluvias Fuertes.” Well, gentle – I mean quiet, but it is very unsettling with eerie wind instruments and rattles, and voices in a lilting disembodied elemental frame. The first guitar riff drops about a minute and a half in and pushes you over as if you were made of dry reeds. When the vocals begin, you have started to become part of the object that is the layered, ambient, dark energy surrounding you everywhere and penetrating.

The music on the album has a living mysticism to it in sound and narrative, and a feeling of melancholy – and often hopelessness. In that sense it lies in the land of Doom Metal, but the feeling of it is more like Black Metal, or what I have heard called Dark Metal. And then there are rising moments of power and what might sound like hope, furthering the complexity of the music and the message.

The songs are typically riff heavy, with many, like “Ba’alche’o’ob” and “Tezcatlipoca – Espejo Relumbrante,” riding on driving, punishing percussion, and others, such as “Nuevo Fuego,” with long, ethereal moments surrounded by the rising walls of harsher sound. The closing song, “Sombra del Mictlan,” is the longest, running about eleven minutes and beginning with an invocation in voice and what sounds like a wooden flute. Doom riffs follow with harmonic whistles and rattles broadening the musical vista. It is an amazing piece. The heavy sound of Yaotl Mictlan truly is unique. Recommended.

Out now through American Line Productions and available through Bandcamp. If you are looking for something other than the digital, check out the band’s website at the link below for CDs and other merch. If you have never heard the band before, this album is a great place to start.

Links.

Band website, https://yaotlmictlan.com

Band Bandcamp, https://yaotlmictlan.bandcamp.com

Band Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/yaotlmictlanband

Label website, http://www.alprods.net

Label Big Cartel webstore, http://www.alprods.bigcartel.com

Yaotl Mictlan, Sagrada Tierra del Jaguar review (American Line Productions 2020)