OLD MUSIC: 40 Watt Sun – The Inside Room

40 Watt Sun - The Inside Room

Salvaging one of my few Number of the Blog reviews that I could find.

Pat Walker is one of those unfortunate musicians that will probably never escape their past. Walker will pretty much always be best known for the album Watching From a Distance, and he really should feel no shame about that, seeing as how WFaD is widely considered a classic of modern doom metal. Even though there is no shame being associated with that album, the shadow that a monolithic album like that can cast over one’s career is hardly enviable. Everything Walker does now will inevitably be compared to that album. With that little intro out of the way, let’s move on to the album at hand: The Inside Room by 40 Watt Sun.

So yeah, this album sounds like Watching From a Distance, but “different”. How is it different? Well, all the same elements are there: slow plodding guitar riffs with a faint hint of melody rising above the distortion, lyrics about love and loss, and of course Pat Walker’s amazingly emotional vocals over the top of everything. The difference lies in the feel and the atmosphere of the album. Whilst Watching From a Distance was bleak and pitch black, with not a glimmer of hope, The Inside Room offers some hope. Like standing on a thin grey ledge, with darkness and despair below, but with a light at the other end of the ledge (if that makes any sense). Looking at that description, it sounds pretty stupid, but that’s the best way I could phrase it.

Musically, this album is pretty damn simple. It plods along, hammering out funeral doom riffs that just happen to be sped up. The guitars are extremely fuzzy and distorted (for the most part, there’s an occasional acoustic break), so a lot of the riffs are a bit hard to discern, but not too hard. Occasionally you will hear melodies rise above it all, but on closer listens it becomes apparent that those melodies are pretty much omnipresent throughout the album. Drums and bass aren’t anything spectacular or standoutish, as they serve their purpose and never take center stage (The drums you don’t notice tend to be my favorite kind of drums). It’s fine that there’s nothing spectacular about the instruments on this album, as this is not an album that one showcases their technical ability on. Rather, the instruments serve more as a soundscape for Pat Walker’s vocals to soar over.

And that brings us to one of the main draws of this album: Walker’s vocals. Walker’s nasally voice (which is never annoying) is highly emotive, though not always completely clear. It can be hard to make out some of the lyrics at times, though you are never in the dark as to what the lyrics are trying to convey emotionally (as Walker’s voice expresses them perfectly). The band also does not release lyrics, so I’ve had to puzzle them out on my own. From what I can tell, they’re far more hopeful than Warning’s stuff.

So yeah, I think this album is absolutely amazing in every way shape and form, and can’t think of a single negative thing to say about it (it’s too short, maybe. But at 47 minutes, that’s more just me not wanting it to end than anything else). We shall see if this album stands the test of time to become a classic doom album that will be spoken of with reverence in the future. For what it counts, I think The Inside Room completely deserves that status.

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OLD MUSIC: Forgotten Spell – Desecrated, Decayed and Still Holy

Forgotten Spell - Desecrated, Decayed, and Still Holy

Salvaging one of  my few Number of the Blog reviews that I could find.

German black metal is an interesting beast, in that a lot of it sucks, but sucks in a very endearing manner. Some of Germany’s best black metal releases are sloppy and amateur sounding, making up in effort and soul what it lacks and professionalism. But occasionally a German band comes a long that is able to buck the trend of enjoyable shittiness. Your Tha-Norrs, Lunar Auroras, and now Forgotten Spell.

Let’s start with the obvious thing: The production on this demo sucks. There’s no dancing around the issue, it just sucks. In fact, it makes Moon seem decently produced in comparison. Everything sounds buried or feels like it was recorded at a distance, with the drums heavily muffled, and the vocals barely being audible over the constant roar and screech of the guitars. The whole thing has a very dry sound, if that makes any sense (It makes my mouth feel dry; odd that music can do that). But yeah, Dimmu Borgir this ain’t.

Another thing one might notice when looking at this tape is how insanely long it is. Consisting of 9 tracks and clocking in at just under 90 minutes, Desecrated, Decayed, And Still Holy is longer than most full length albums. Two of the songs clock in at 16 minutes long, and sitting through the entire demo can be hard at times. It does require a certain patience to sit through, but if you’re looking for obscure black metal demo tapes, you’ve probably built up a tolerance to this kind of bullshit.

Anyways, let’s talk about the music (the reason why Forgotten Spell is awesome). Not gonna beat around the bush: The riffing on this demo is some of the finest riffing that I’ve heard from a black metal band in a long time (excepting the riff-masters Immortal and Inquisition). There are so many riffs on this album that it’s hard to count them all. The muddy production also has a tendency to blend many of the riffs together, so the transitions seem to happen without notice. But that’s ok, it’s part of the charm. And with riffs as awesome as these I’m not going to complain about some muddy transitions. I think my favorite riffs are the ones in ‘The Incarnation in Contemplation of the Creator’ and the title track. The album also has some pretty good melodies, but those are kind of hard to pick out over the rest of the murk and noise.

Now, this band follows the Orthodox Black Metal trend that has been making waves lately. While I find the concept of Orthodox Black Metal almost as stupid as Christian Black Metal (since Orthodox BM is based around the premise that Catholicism/Christianity is true, but the bands have chosen to venerate Satan rather than God. It differs from your typical Satanic stuff in that it treats God and Satan as real beings rather than symbolic icons (or just being Satanic because that’s what black metal bands do)), there are some Orthodox bands I like. But overall I’m kind of meh on the whole movement. Forgotten Spell reveals the true potential of the scene, managing to create and maintain an atmosphere of evil and obscurity much better than certain other bands that shall go unnamed.

In summation, if you want to hear some German black metal at its finest, than I highly recommend Desecrated, Decayed, And Still Holy as it is far superior to many many full length albums.