|logo and title-less painting by Anthony Schechtman|
Truthfully, this week's post almost never happened. Utter chaos has been swirling and nearly boiling over at work, countless errands are being run during any potential "down time" and above all else my most recent hours have been spent just merely trying to sure up any and all loose ends before a short (but much needed...) 5 day respite in the pits on the western coast of Florida beginning this Friday. The all mighty and important Ipod is maxed and near bursting at the seams, few pictures and video are going to survive this quick vacation aside from the geeky Untappd feed, I'm sure. Besides music, I dont have a damn thing packed yet, but that is just fine with me, I'm sure my lovely girlfriend would argue otherwise... A backpack and a local liquor store will suffice most of my other needs during our stay anyway. A few hours lounging in the sun, ice cold Cigar City beers in hand, with blackened tunes blaring in my head sounds absolutely perfect right about now...
An album I've been obsessing about for the better part of the year has been the debut "full length" offering titled 'Against This Weald' from Michigan's newest atmospheric duo, Ifing. From the moment I laid eyes on the thought provoking painted cover art back in late winter I knew this was going to be quite the special release. Instantly I was reminded of the painting dawning Ulver's Bergatt, which to myself and to many others as well, is regarded as one of the most beautiful and respected black metal releases of all time. Ominous, wintry grey skies and a timid body of once rough waters meet with the slope of a tree riddled mountain in an unknown and unnamed land, textured wonderfully, creating atmosphere in the room before the play button has even been pressed. A whimsical logo, drenched in all its folky and Norse inspired goodness completes the piece and had my attention and obsession instantly.
Ifing consists of 2 musicians both formally of the obscure Michigan based band, Through The Mist. Based on their last names and song writing abilities alone, I'm sure the ancestors of the Wicklund's and Petersen's are quite proud of their Scandinavian heritage being passed down in expert fashion via musical directions by these lads. I could be wrong of course and their family tree's could branch no further than say Brooklyn, or something... Anyway, the album consists of only 3 tracks, a 4 minute instrumental intro, imperative to building the correct setting and back story to the two heaping servings of perfectly executed atmospheric black metal with lots of emphasis on folk passages with the occasional, but so epic, usage of synths and field recordings. The vocals range from the mid ranged barking howls of expected black metal fury to a very low end heavy clean chant which when mixed with the right wind instruments and building bellowing riffs become so utterly powerful and catchy that its just plain ridiculously awesome and inspiring. The second track titled, "The Stream" is so accessible, amazingly well structured, pleasing and audibly addicting that it basically has become somewhat of a bench mark to me in which all others of the style are to be measured against. Just stunning work which touches and masters all the important bases of the style. In short, 'Against This Weald' is a remarkable release, albeit a rather short one, which will surely rest proudly, swords raised high, in my top 5 of 2014 come the years end.
|a gnarly aerial view of Michigan, looks black metal as fuck, send me some Bells and Shorts beers, guys ;)|
Blood Music, Digipak, Limited to 1000 copies, BLOOD-051
Like I got into earlier, the artwork here is just an amazing piece. The overall layout however is just brief and gives us little detail to the band or lyrical story of the material within. Maybe an eventual reissue will elaborate some more? I'd be interested for damn sure, keep me in the loop!
Again, with a track like 'The Stream' it is hard to deny the sheer mastery of the genre these 2 Michiganians have displayed. The recordings are mixed beautifully by River City Studios and I couldn't ask for a more clean listening experience. This album kicks ass in head phones, in the car, out of a shitty boom box and even through some rough computer speakers. Really great sound quality.
Replay Potential (10/10)
Easily my most spun CD of this years releases. The entire album clocks in at under 40 minutes and due to the depth of song writing and structure can be listened to on repeat. I've gone through this album 4 times in writing this review. No bullshit.
Amazing artwork. Amazing material. So satisfied with this purchase up and down. Being that these guys are signed to a Finland based label and have a really wonky Bandcamp page, the album took a hot minute to reach my greedy hands after the official release but no worries and no hard feelings are to be had.
More please. Please? Oh, dont forget to show them some of that Facebook lovin'