A Playlist for Katatonia’s Sanctitude

Katatonia’s new live album, Sanctitude, is out. This album is a recording from the tour they did in support of Dethroned and Uncrowned, an album on which they took the songs from Dead End Kings, stripped out the “metal” elements, and reworked the songs with acoustic and ambient instrumentation.

I actually have mixed feelings about Dethroned and Uncrowned. I think it’s a great experiment, but it often feels like a very subtractive experience, for lack of a better word. It’s hard for me to listen to it without focusing on what they’ve taken away from the songs, and so most of the time, I’d rather listen to Dead End Kings.

Sanctitude, on the other hand, really breathes fresh life into these acoustic arrangements. The songs feel like they stand on their own. And it’s not just songs from Dead End Kings/Dethroned and Uncrowned that you’ll find here – the band went back through their nearly their discography to rework songs into acoustic arrangements. (No acoustic reworkings from Dance of December Souls, but I think every other major release of their career is represented by at least one song.) I was quite pleasantly surprised by how well songs like “Gone” and “Day” work in their new acoustic arrangements.

I’ve put together a Spotify playlist containing the original of the each song from Sanctitude (except for “Unfurl” – the original is not available on Spotify at the moment) and the acoustic version side-by-side. If you’re new to Katatonia, this would be a great way to explore the range of what this band has to offer. If you’re a long-time fan, I hope you’ll enjoy the trip through the band’s history.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Metal Movies: Welcome to Deathfest

Yesterday, I managed to see the fantastic documentary, Welcome to Deathfest, at a screening at San Francisco’s Noise Pop festival.

The movie gives a fascinating look into how Maryland Deathfest is put together every year. It’s really fascinating to see all the elements that go into making the festival happen, and how many different tasks are managed by a tiny team of people. And as someone whose first Deathfest was just last year, I found that the movie gave a lot of insight into many of the problems that plagued the 2013 festival and have now passed into community lore. If you want the real scoop on the problems with the Paparazzi Club, why the festival pulled the plug on Venom, or whether Phil Anselmo is really a dick about people wearing spikes (short answer: no), watch this film. I was very glad that the filmmakers were able to include a short section at the end of the film showing how much better things went in 2014, because wow, things were so much better in 2014 when I went. Which left me all the more impressed with the organizers. You can’t really expect people to never make mistakes – but people who make mistakes, learn from them, and do better the next time around are unfortunately rare.

This is also a great film to show to your friends or loved ones who aren’t part of the extreme metal scene but are curious about it. I took my husband along to the screening. He listens to a bit of metal (generally power metal and symphonic metal), but he’s really not into death or black metal or music festivals (seeing as he dislikes crowds, standing in the hot sun, and having other people’s beer spilled on him). He really enjoyed getting a glimpse into this strange world from the comfort of a film screening.

After the screening, there was a Q&A with the filmmakers, Alicia Lozano and Tom Grahsler. It’s really obvious that they love metal and love Deathfest, and would love to see them do more documentary work like this.

One of the things that did come up in the Q&A is that they are trying to get DVD and/or streaming distribution for this film so that more people can see it. In the meantime, your best bet is probably to hope that it comes to a film or music festival in your area. Keep an eye on the movie’s Facebook page for announcements: https://www.facebook.com/welcometodeathfest

And check out the trailer on Vimeo:

Welcome to Deathfest from Pendragwn Productions on Vimeo.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Season of Mist CD Grab Bag


Every so often I roll the dice and buy one of those grab bags of 10 or so mystery CDs that you can often order from various record labels. I’ve ordered these from Century Media a few times, and it usually yields a few keepers along with some truly bizarre or horrible stuff. This time, I ordered 10 CDs from Season of Mist for $20. Here’s what I got:

  1. Jupiter by Atheist. The front cover is a (heavily embossed) painting of fighting wolves that looks very death-metal. The back cover is a shiny painting of Jupiter that looks very prog metal. I have no idea what to expect from this one, except that it packs 8 songs into less than 35 minutes, so it’s probably not actually prog.
  2. Anomalia by Khonsu. The cover has creepy-looking cybernetic things on it. This clocks in at 59 minutes for 7 songs, so this is much more likely to be proggy.
  3. Decadence by Nothnegal. This is clearly the grab bag of one word album titles. A sticker on the front proclaims this “the perfect mix between Dimmu Borgir and Samael!” I could get into that.
  4. Stranded by Of Legends. Sticker on the front says, “For fans of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Fear Factory, Deftones”. Hmmm. Not aimed squarely at the bullseye of my musical tastes, but could be interesting.
  5. Generation Kill by Red White and Blood. Sticker says “Vox by Rob Dukes of Exodus! For fans of Exodus, Testament, Pro-Pain. Tedious macho rethrash, or unknown gem? The only way to know is to listen.
  6. American Inquisition by Christian Death. I had no idea that Christian Death were still going in 2007. This ought to be interesting.
  7. Ruins of Gomorrah by Undercroft. Very old-school cover art. Has guest vocals by members of Entombed, Dismember, Necrophobic, and Watain. I’m expecting something very traditional here, but quite possibly very entertaining.
  8. Legion Helvete by Tsjuder. Speaking of very traditional – everything about this, from the monochrome cover to the back cover photo of the band in corpse paint and spiked gauntlets to the sticker on the front proclaiming this “666% Norwegian Black Metal,” walks that fine line between “thoroughly traditional” and “trying too damn hard.” I’m actually a bit familiar with Tsjuder’s work, and am looking forward to getting better acquainted with it.
  9. Illud Divinum Insanus by Morbid Angel. Well, you can’t win them all.
  10. Option Paralysis by The Dillinger Escape Plan. This has amazing art/packaging. It comes in a cardboard digipack kind of thing with all these little fold out flaps on it. On one side of each flap is this strange kind of mosaic artwork made of lots of little pictures tiled together – on the other side are the lyrics to a song. The whole thing slides into a black plastic sleeve that has transparent lettering on it that allows the artwork underneath to show through. Very cool looking, although I can tell I’m going to drive myself mad trying to fold the thing up the way it was when it was new. I’ve listened to a bit of The Dillinger Escape Plan, and so far their appeal has eluded me, but I’ll give this a good listen or two and see if they finally click.
  11. Collateral Damage (consisting of War Vol. 1 by …And Oceans vs. Bloodthorn, War Vol. 2 by Anata vs. Bethzaida, and War Vol. 3 by Cultus Sanguine vs. Seth). The who the what now? There were only supposed to be 10 CDs in this grab bag, and the nice folks at Season of Mist have gone and thrown in an extra freakin’ box set. The front of the box bills this as “3 extreme metal classics 4 the price of one,” which I think may be a generous interpretation of the term “classic”. The concept behind these split releases is an interesting one: each band gets to do two original tracks, a cover of a song by the other band on the release, and a cover of a song by some other band. I’m kind of expecting these to be mostly terrible, but with a few unexpected gems. Can’t wait. Volume 1 also sports some truly horrendous cover art.

I’m guessing that I will find the Nothnegal, Khonsu, and Undercroft albums most to my taste, although I’m prepared to listen to everything with as open a mind as possible. What do you think? Have you heard any of the albums? Do you love ’em, do you hate ’em, can you explain the cover art for War Vol. 1? Leave me a comment!

Posted in Lists | Tagged | Leave a comment

Stumbling in the Dark Episode 014

Here’s a New Year’s Eve podcast for you all. Enjoy, and see you all in 2015.

Listen on Mixcloud: http://www.mixcloud.com/wendyshaffer/stumbling-in-the-dark-episode-014/

  1. “一目連” (Ichimokuren) by 陰陽座 (Onmyoza) from 風神界逅 (available from cdjapan.co.jp)
  2. “Come the Flood” by Primordial from Where Greater Men Have Fallen
  3. “Me vaellamme yössä” by Kuolemanlaakso from Tulijoutsen (available from https://svartrecords.bandcamp.com/album/tulijoutsen)
  4. “The Congregation” by White Empress from Rise of the Empress
  5. “Black Spiral” by Dreamgrave from Presentiment (available from https://dreamgrave.bandcamp.com/album/presentiment)
  6. “Dissolving” by Et Moriemur from Ex Nihilo in Nihilum (available from https://etmoriemur.bandcamp.com/album/ex-nihilo-in-nihilum)
  7. “Tellus Mater” by Blut Aus Nord from Memoria Vetusta III – Saturnian Poetry (available from https://dmp666.bandcamp.com/album/memoria-vetusta-iii-saturnian-poetry)
  8. “No Celebration” by Paradise Lost from Symbol of Life
Posted in Podcast | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Doom in December: Evoke Thy Lords’s “Dregs”

Well, here we are at the last Doom in December post. (At least for this year.) Although I missed one day of posting, I did post 31 different doom metal tracks, and I believe I did it without repeating an artist. I hope you discovered some new bands to enjoy, or were reminded of some old favorites. If you have a favorite video or song, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Our last track is by Ukrainian band, “Evoke Thy Lords”. There’s still nothing better than the combination of doom metal and flutes.

Posted in Doom in December | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Doom in December: Candlemass’s “Bewitched” and St. Vitus’s “Born Too Late”

Yesterday, I forgot to post a Doom in December track. Ooops. So, I have two for you today. Two classics.

First up is Candlemass’s “Bewitched”. “Delightfully cheesy” is how I think I would describe the video for this one.

And here’s a live version of St. Vitus’s “Born Too Late”.

Posted in Doom in December | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Doom in December: Church of Misery’s “Brother Bishop”

Church of Misery are a bit of an odd band – a Japanese band singing lyrics about serial killers over textbook-perfect psychedelic doom metal. This video gives some idea of how dynamic their live performances are, though.

Posted in Doom in December | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Doom in December: October Tide’s “Of Wounds to Come”

Having posted a few new-to-me tracks, I thought it was time for me to post an old favorite. Well, okay, it’s not that old – the album only came out in 2012. But it’s been one of my favorite melodic death doom albums ever since it came out.

Posted in Doom in December | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Doom in December: Bathsheba’s “The Sleepless Gods”

Well, I liked Michelle Nocon’s singing in Death Penalty so much, I looked up her other band, Bathsheba. Here is “The Sleepless Gods” from their 2014 demo. With some delightfully weird old black and white movie clips to accompany it.

Posted in Doom in December | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Doom in December: Death Penalty’s “Immortal by Your Hand”

Merry Christmas, Doomcookies! For today’s Doom in December, we’re unwrapping this tune, which is a rockin’ slab of traditional doom powered by the riffs of ex-Cathedral guitarist Gaz Jennings and the mighty pipes of Michelle Nocon.

Posted in Doom in December | Tagged , , | Leave a comment