AGALLOCH - IN THE SHADOW OF OUR PALE COMPANION
Before I even give my impressions on this, I'll say that I'm a big fan of Agalloch. Their album "Marrow of the Spirit" is one of my favorite albums of the last few years. I've really gotten into this style of Black Metal that integrates folk music instrumentation and often celebrates the power of nature in it's lyrics. This is a great track and has a bit more clean singing than their latest stuff. They definitely have a very distinct sound. I can tell this band by the fantastic drumming alone. I'm gonna invest more time into listening to their earlier work like this.
FORK TONGUE SAYS:
There's something about Agalloch in the cooling and cold months that makes we want to bundle up, grab my noise cancelling headphones and just walk until the city lights can no longer be seen. To sit under the stairs, watch my hot breath hit the cold air and just experience nature. Often times in snow storms I'll sit in front of my house with a cigar and some whiskey and just listen to Agalloch. There are no better times for me. That's the pinnacle. Solitude, music and the elements. Not much else needs to be said.
JESS AND THE ANCIENT ONES - SULFUR GIANTS
JESS AND THE ANCIENT ONES
What is this? Sounds like Ghost fronted by Pat Benetar. Hell I don't mind this at all. I'll have to say this is
less pretentious than GHOST that's for sure. Yeah I know a lot of people are huge fans of Ghost and that retro Blue Oyster Cult sound. I never found anything particularly interesting about Ghost other than the whole get up they perform in. I have the same feelings about Kiss. Now Jess and the Ancient Ones is pretty cool. The beginning of this song is very sweet. There is an intentional sincerity that's devoid of the ironic "look at me I'm doing retro" shit. The song takes a turn to a more familiar and dated sound later on when the vocals kick in. The lead singer has a decently strong voice that's confident and feminine. The tone of this song in particular has some Pink Floyd'ish elements (say momentary lapse of reason era). I'm not sure what the song is really about and from the peanut gallery's comments on youtube I'm judging it must have something to do with pagan ideals. I'm neither for or against and I think personally when it comes to hearing a band for the first time I look more at song structure and musicianship. So I say this was definitely worth the listen and even got me to look at a few of their other songs. (The final bombast of this song does remind me of the Botchamania theme so I'll give this extra credit)
FORK TONGUE SAYS:
I'll be the first to tell you I'm a sucker for this trend of female fronted occult retro rock. There's a ton of it (male also) and a lot of it is pretty damn good. Rock n' Roll needs a kick in the balls and a lot of this stuff is on target, Bruce Lee squared. Jess and The Ancient Ones are the stand out to me because of the strong vocals. I'm normally not huge on female vocals but Jess has the chops and just enough rasp ala Janis Joplin. Lot's of big riffs here and I love organ on pretty much anything. They also released an EP this year which I also highly recommend. Oh, and the first Ghost album is incredible.
MAGIC CIRCLE - MAGIC CIRCLE/CLOVEN IN TWO
FORK TONGUE SAYS:
Full disclosure. You'll be seeing this high atop my Best of 2013 list. Also, this was put out by Armageddon Shop which is 15 minutes away from my house and run by Ben Barnett of Dropdead. But honestly, there is no bias here. This is an incredible album. I really don't hear much Sabbath other than on occasion when the singer gets a little nasally like Ozzy. What I hear more here is the NWOBHM influence of someone we've covered in these pages before; Pagan Altar. Granted it's mostly in the riff department but the riffs and vocals carry this album equally. By the way, these dudes are in Hardcore bands like Rival Mob and Doomriders all the way down to Death Metal bands like Innumerable Forms. All quality stuff. And for good measure, singer Brendan Radigan just released this doozy of a solo project on the world 2 days ago. Bonus, check it out.