Fall Festivities & Autumnal Activities – 2022 Edition
Get out the pumpkin spice shotgun, we’re spreading the mood.
Best season? Autumn. Others agree, so it’s decided. Enraptured by the reverie, I’ve gathered a selection of albums as varied as the beautiful colours of fall. If we presume that there are three colours, that is. Lost Hours had to tag in for Devenial Verdict, who were spontaneously needed elsewhere, and ended up providing a slightly different angle than that of solemn melancholy that I look for before deeming something a fallbum or even an aulbumn. And if it’s not the variety of moods, I hope the variety of genres will let you find something to accompany you through the shortening days. If you’ve already found your seasonal sidekick(s), let us know in the comments!
Lamentations – Passion of Depression
Willowtip | November 11, 2022
A runtime of nearly an hour with two tracks cracking the 10-minute mark should tell you that Lamentations find plenty of time to put the progressive in progressive death metal. That’s not to say that the latter is neglected, as the band create plenty of moments where they outright bludgeon you with a precision verging on that of tech death. But sheer heaviness is not what we’re here for today, so I’m glad that opener “Prodigal” wastes no time to reveal one of the expansive vistas that the band is able to show you. It nicely illustrates how, more often than not, the music is imbued with an airy lightness, achieved in this case through melodic lead guitar, in others through the versatile use of keyboards. Furthermore, the track shows off the songwriting prowess of the band, as it doesn’t linger on any part longer than absolutely necessary and quickly and skillfully morphs into unbridled death metal and back again.
While this latter skill is all their own, Lamentations have brought in various guests contributing guitar solos, keyboards, violin, and accoustic guitar to help with the instrumental versatility. While moments where they lay this on really thick, such as the downright orchestral intro to “Sombre,” are rare, these elements are always present to some degree and help greatly to enrich the album’s atmosphere with a constant sense of beauty mixed with sadness – fitting for a concept album about “the pain, pleasure, joy and sorrow that encompass one’s life journey,” and, as it were, also very fitting for our autumn mood.
Contributing to this mix of emotions are the vocals – for better or worse. My relationship with clean vocals is strained at the best of times, and while I’ve come a long way from simply turning this album off at the first sight of them, having since found several instances where I find them beautiful, there are still moments where I wish they weren’t there, especially since the band has all these tools at their disposal to keep the quiet sections interesting without them. Going back to “Prodigal,” for example, that part where the cleans come in is… fine. That part at the end where the same vocal line is repeated by a flute? Better.
Utlimately, however, Lamentations offer up such a rich platter of pleasures that these moments of irritation can’t really mar my overall love for their brand of diverse, melancholic prog death.
Lost Hours – IV: The Silence of the Perpetual Choir in Heaven
Propitious Aritfacts | September 22, 2022
Originally released in 2018, this found its way to me on the occasion of its recent vinyl release, and it quickly proved a fitting inclusion – perhaps one for those among you who don’t exactly rejoice in the change of seasons and find it instead to be an emotionally crushing affair.
Crush is what the self-described “slowest powerviolence band ever” does really well and really consistently. Individual chords and drum beats are often spaced wide enough that some depression stubble might grow on your cheeks inbetween them, but they also hit hard enough knock it right back off. This sub-glacial pace is maintained all throughout the roughly 30 minutes of material. Not once will you be surprised by a sudden change of tempo. No ambush of blasts and tremolos awaits. This is something I highly appreciate, as it not only eliminates the most annoying aspect of actual powerviolence (sorry, I’m pro-segregation of fast and slow), but also allows you to really sink into the landscape that the record paints, even if it can be a dreary one full of barren trees and stretching far beneath a grey sky.
Yet all is not so gloomy, as Lost Hours hasten (by their standard) to indicate. The first distorted chords that rings out in the 18-minute opener give an inkling of the destination, even if the way there leads through pits and valleys. But the heights that the song hits in its second half are all the more majestic for the abject drudgery that preceded them. After hitting its most devastating low, it spends about three minutes gradually building up to a dramatic volta; suspension is held for a few seconds, and then the song soars, borne by an elegiac melody of unknown origin, while still maintaining its crawling pace. Perhaps unsurprisingly, its power is not enough to carry us through to the end, but as we come crashing back down, we nonetheless feel richer for the sights we’ve seen as embers of melody still glow faintly around us.
That’s a lotta words for what is maybe a fifth of the EP, leaving me little room for the intriguingly titled second track, so suffice it to say that if you’ve enjoyed the funeral sludge so far, you won’t be let down. You’ll probably also agree with their mission statement.
Vauruvã – Por Nós da Ventania
Independent | September 1, 2022
Depending on how you feel about black metal, describing Brazilian two-man project Vauruvã as such is either over- or underselling them; it’s more like “black metal for lack of a better term.” The production reminds me a lot of the similarly peerless Yellow Eyes, giving everything a tone that is raw but not harsh, if that makes any sense; it’s full of lo- to mid-fi practice room charm, yet evoking a mollyfying warmth rather than the bristling cold of the genre’s home region. This unusual sound already earns them my favour, but it’s the plethora of styles and influences they pack into this ostensibly simple sonic corsage that makes me struggle to describe them adequately.
The way opener “Maresia” fades in – an effect that is repeated and enhanced in “Um Sopro Aluvião” – makes it feel like a transmission coming in from a different world… or maybe it’s us stepping through a portal into another plain of existence. While the growls and snarls that meet us here may be par for the course, the measured rhythm and serene clean chants are quick to establish a unique, almost meditative atmosphere. More straightforward black metal aggression abounds throughout the record, but a return to these moments of contemplation is never far off, and they’re what qualified the record for its inclusion here. The rain may come down in sheets and the fog may lay thick over the fields, but the sky can open at any moment to remind you that it has not truly ceded its clear blue, and the morning and afternoon sun bathe everything in a golden light. The view is fantastic.
Throughout Pos Nós da Ventania, grey and gold can alternate in quick succession; in this strange world we’ve stepped into, songs are allowed to move incredibly freely, and it can take a while to get used to. The guitar might muscle its way into the foreground to embark on a grand lead full of prog ambition or rock’n’roll swagger. The rest of the band might follow suit by falling into a post-rock buildup or dirty things up with some crust punk elements. Everything might be wiped off the board the next minute to allow synths or the aformentioned cleans to take center stage. The latter are a staple throughout the record, providing a much-needed anchor not just for the mood, but for the songs themselves. Still, not even they are safe from being thrown overboard as the record closes on a largely instrumental prog rock blackened thrash trad metal monstrosity that breaks with almost everything hitherto established.
Chaotic as this may sound, please don’t mistake the band for one of those “lol look how random we are” kind of acts. As one of the Bandcamp commenters puts it, “It’s all over the place, but still sounds cohesive, somehow.” There are rules in Vauruvã’s world, but we’ll have to learn them by ear.