Free Metal Detector: Get Your Mitts on these Frosty NYPs
Steel crumples, a banshee shrieks, and the world dissolves around the edges. Your heart pounds in your ears as you crawl from the wreckage of the sedan—a victim of the black ice you’ve been running from your entire life. The wind on your face dulls from razors to a light pressure as you lean back against the snow in the roadside ditch. A figure emerges from the woods nearby, robed in white against the surrounding snowfields, bringing with it faint music that grows louder as it approaches.
Vacant Body – S/T Demo
$3 The warmth of your body
Vacant Body understand that there are other sources of cold than weather fronts and black metal’s obsession with reverb; sometimes the most chilling moments are those when layers are peeled away and we’re left under a scaffold offering nothing in the way of shelter. These tracks clock in at a combined 8 minutes, including a short intro that builds suspense with eerie, clanging guitars. The template the band follows is relatively simple, with droning tremolo riffs and blastbeats forming the backbone; what separates them from their peers is the way the melodies and stabs of dissonance ricochet off the guardrails of these songs, giving them a sense of forward motion. Together with dry, almost clinical production (especially on the drums, which cut through to the surface quite nicely) and caustic vocals, Vacant Body scrape all excess away, exposing us to the elements.
The apparition changes shape with every gust: hunched over, standing straight, growing limbs that dissipate as quickly as they appear. It radiates warmth as it crouches at your side; your breath no longer comes in clouds, and you look to its suggestion of a face with gratitude. It points to your chest, and you see a sliver of bone, a rib escaping through tattered cloth and flesh. The music is blaring now, but it’s comforting, a distraction from the cold.
Light Dweller – Incandescent Crucifix
$7 The clarity of your thoughts
While listening to Light Dweller, “solo black metal project” is probably the last thing on your mind. Cameron Boesch, the sole member of the band, has written an album mostly devoid of the tropes (read: failures) of bedroom maestros. Incandescent Crucifix contains the ideas and styles of a full band, with attention paid to how each instrument and layer interacts. From the demanding start-stop blasts of “Glum” to the hopeful (momentarily, anyways) guitars in “Sloven,” there’s enough variation to keep listeners invested throughout. Dissonant black/death metal is dense and alienating by nature, but as Hans put it in this week’s TTT, Boesch excels at balancing chaos with coherence and accessibility. With influences ranging from Artificial Brain to Anata at their most melodic, there are just enough ledges to claw at for safety as Light Dweller attempts to drag you under.
When the figure extends an open hand, you recoil, wrapping your arms tight around your torso. A change registers in the whirling mass under its hood—a sharpness, a distortion of features as the music goes silent. Rising quickly, it towers above you, blocking the moon with a body twice as tall as before. It turns away, and with each step it takes toward the forest, the temperature plummets. Your tongue is sluggish in your mouth as you manage a whisper through numbed lips. The figure pauses just before the tree line.
The Walrus Resists – Sons of Gehenna
$4 The light in your eyes
A name like The Walrus Resists doesn’t offer many clues to a band’s choice of genre; after a listen through their new release, Sons of Gehenna, the answer remains a mystery. Beginning with a wall of sound à la Devin Townsend Project, the band quickly leaves behind this ethereal, post-metal style for something closer to melodic death metal. Tobby’s vocals take center stage throughout the EP with a dizzying array of tones ranging from shrieks to baritone cleans reminiscent of David Gold (Woods of Ypres). His vocal arrangements approach the complexity of jazz at times (“Avaritia”), but he’s just as likely to pare things down to classic rock simplicity. Whether slowing to a doom crawl or taking a detour into tech death tapping, The Walrus Resists craft eclectic songs that constantly surprise.
You open your eyes to see the figure standing before you once more, and this time, you offer your arm without hesitation. Upon the touch of its fingers, the pain in your chest evaporates. There is no more cold. The snow no longer melts against your skin. It lifts you to your feet and guides you over the top of the ditch, and you smile, realizing the foolishness of your fear as the music slowly returns. Hand in hand, you approach the trees, taking one last look back toward the road, across a field of untouched powder.