Megachile’s Grime Stone Records Rapid Release Round-Up
Enthralled by the vampyre count to appraise his dungeon synth side project for eternity due to erringly denoting it comfy synth in last Tewesday’s village bulletin (E.B.T.V.C.T.A.H.D.S.S.P.F.E.D.T.E.D.I.C.S.I.L.T.V.B)
Grime Stone Records has released 53 albums since late 2019. A rate of 2.3 releases per month since their inception. I’m no authority on running a label, but that seems prolific?
GSR specializes in raw black metal, dungeon synth, and everything in between. Many projects on the label embrace the aesthetics and tropes of these styles in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Like this. Label founder and musician Abysmal Specter is also very upfront about their anti-Nazi and NSBM stance.
It goes without saying that they’ve become my go-to for scratching that lo-fi tremolo itch, and I’d like them to be successful. So I’ve compiled some rapid reviews of everything GSR has released in 2021 (so far) in an attempt to make 2.3 releases per month seem a little less daunting for those looking to delve into their back catalog.
Violet Light – Lamentation For A Lost Star
The ambience emphasized in some of these tracks generally isn’t my cup of tea when I’m hankering for dungeon synth, but I could definitely walk to this when the snow is fresh and twinkly under the streetlights.
Curta’n Wall – Terr’ble Death
Medieval battle black n’ roll from Abysmal Specter. Less synth, but still plenty of quirky, bouncy melodies. Lyrics focus on the horrors of Olde English wartime, such as: dying on a drawbridge, the inevitability of dying, kings dying, and werewolves dying. Short n’ sweet.
Celestial Veil & Forgotten Wind – Split 2021
Too much ambience even for treading through fresh snowfall. Also kind of spooky for walking in the dark, which is like 4:00 pm at my latitude in the wintertime.
Narvarog – Narvarog
Narvarog, Narvarog, you’re the man now, dog.
Besides stirring up memories of primordial meme platforms and Sean Connery (RIP Ramírez) this is sturdy, melodic, and martial raw black metal. I probably won’t return to this EP much, but will definitely keep an eye out for the next full length from these knights errant.
Radagast – An Earthly Sacrament
I came for the Celtic drum session, but had to sit through an ok 20 minutes of lo-fi, atmospheric black metal to get it.
Curta’n Wall & Fugitive Wizard – Armed to the Teeth ! !
Take a refreshing dip into the spellforge.
Does Abysmal Specter ghost write for all of these different bands on GSR, and simply tinker with the mix and pseudonyms a bit to throw us off the trail? I have my suspicions. The first and last song on this medieval black metal split are big jams, but I feel like I’d skip the middle two on repeat plays.
Fugitive Wizard – Extorris Magus Chapter IV
Raw, riffy black metal with synths providing atmospheric flourishes and melodic leads. I like to imagine the namesake wizard of this band is played by a young Harrison Ford, who is ruthlessly pursued by a robe-wearing, spell casting, no-nonsense agent of the Wizards Council (Tommy Lee Jones, naturally). Catch up with chapters I-III of this magical renegade’s journey before listening to this. Armoured wolves and flute guys abounds!
Water Nymph – Heroic Pond of Love
I wasn’t very much into this until I injured my butt and needed some music to soak in the tub and read the second Malazan book to. Charming and uplifting seaside comfy synth.
Old Nick – A New Generation Of Vampiric Conspiracies
This is one of those albums I purchased from the mystique and promise of the album art alone (and it sitting at the top of Bandcamp’s metal section for several weeks). Namely, it makes me feel like I’m about to hear a somber moog rendition of “Bloody Mary Morning”.
While to my knowledge this collection of new and reworked songs don’t give a vampyric black metal take on Willie Nelson’s Phases and Stages (but see “I Built a Witches House For Her”), they do represent a shift toward a more well-manicured, polished sound for Old Nick. Definitely a good jumping in point for new listeners wanting to get a sense of the project’s scope.
Cherry Cordial – I & II
Support the artist directly here.
Comfy synth inspired by Brian Jacques’ Redwall series of children’s fantasy books. For the unfamiliar, they’re about woodland critters traipsing about the woods and murdering each other. The badgers have a volcano fortress. The hares have a mercenary company. Otters are pirates. The moles have a speech disorder.
Cherry Cordial focuses their sound on the more cozy and lighthearted aspects of the series, such as the food and festivities. Lighthearted fun, but almost a bit too brief.
Towergeist – Towergeist II
This is some of the most straightforward, srs raw black metal Grime Stone Records has released this year. The acoustic opener and the solo in the second song struck my fancy, but otherwise this doesn’t have the pizzazz and goofiness that makes some of their other releases stand out.
Lace Shawl – The Secret Botanist
This goes hard. Abysmal Specter and co.’s take on uplifting atmospheric black metal. Bright and warm synth melodies, some beefy, righteous harmonies (the boys are back in town @4:18), and at some point “I AM THE SECRET BOTANIST” is very legibly shrieked.
Here’s a secret botanist poem to help y’all keep your monocots straight: “Sedges have edges, rushes are round, and grasses, like asses, have holes.”
Forgotten Wind – Assorted Encounters With Apparitions
I went into this prepared to get spooked by some ghostly doots. What I got was sleepy until a groovy bass line and drum fill busted in partway through the second track. That one shining, fleeting beacon of funk aside, this sounds like improv music for a tabletop RPG about exploring a haunted house.
Curta’n Wall – S / T
This feels like a step up from the other Curta’n Wall EPs. I imagine the cleaner production is part of that, but these three tracks are also positively armed to the teeth (! !) with hooks. The delightfully goofy album artwork is the cherry on top.
Water Nymph – Precious Sunrise
We’ll call this a B-sides companion EP to Heroic Pond of Love. Note that the water nymph in Herbert James Draper’s “A Water Baby” is following safe sleep guidelines by having no blankets, crib bumpers, or marine invertebrates in her merbaby’s giant oyster/crib.
Fugitive Wizard – Obscuri Æternum
Fugitive Wizard’s first full-length had the perfect riffs/moods ratio to be the soundtrack of Hot Vax Summer getting canceled by my horse dewormer imbibing, incontinent countrymen/women. Synth embiggened raw black metal intermingled with brooding , melodic dungeon synth, packaged in intriguing mango-tinted artwork. Excuse me while I drinketh of the grail and vibe like a wayward barbarian.
Bloody Keep – Cup Of Blood In The Top of the Tower
Here’s a fun bat fact: all that talk of bats eating mosquitos? Total guano. Mosquitos are too small to serve as the predominant source of nutrition for insectivorous bats. Juicy moths are a much easier way to get calories it turns out.
Anyways, Bloody Keep is a less quirky take on raw vampire-themed black metal by Abysmal Specter. Synths aren’t as cheerfully disarming or high in the mix as the other Old Nick adjacent projects, but still provide jauntiness and a Transylvanian flair.
Faron – These Woods Which Turn Flesh to Bone
Is it dungeon synth if there’s dulcimer? Or does it then become medieval ambient?
Pretty somber medieval dungeon ambient synth, especially if you go by the song titles. Just reading them made me sad : (
Old Nick – Iam Vampire Castle
You hear those tooty synthesized horns?? It’s Old Nick, y’all. Toot toot! Vampire dancing time again.
Is Old Nick a black metal equivalent to third-wave ska? Maybe. There’s the Californian origin, an indebtedness to punk, and toots aplenty to be sure. But A) I doubt Reel Big Fish or The Mighty Mighty Bosstones or No Doubt ever had a guest spot by an opera singer or a bad ass keyboard solo, B) my wife doesn’t frequently and vocally express contempt for Old Nick, and C) Abysmal Specter seems like a way less malevolent entity than Gwen Stefani.
Zhmach – Euphoria Never Leaves
Support the artist directly here.
Triumphant, punk-tinged black metal and synth from Belarus, with some unexpected, pleasantly surprising Rush-isms. There’s gotta be some Eastern European folk melodies thrown in the mix too. Get your
mosh pava on.