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Fresh Cuts and Old Wounds - Issue 1, 14.11.2006

Hey gang! How y'all doing in Internet land! Hope you guys out in the States haven't gone purple over the red and blue action you've been having recently, those graphics are sure fun to watch, although they could do with some more colors! Nevertheless, I must harden my chirpy tone and redirect our discussion to something metallic in pallor, that being heavy metal. Fresh Cuts and Old Wounds is a new concept in blognology, that being a portmanteau of Blogging and Technology, which aren't really new concepts at all.

This music blog of sorts will focused on all the new records and old CDs we at Harm have been spinning, to give you a perspective into our darkest and most personal listening habits. The premise is simple - we take one recently released record and take one old record and write about it. No pretensions, no bullshit. I've taken the liberty of starting off this grand experiment by discussing my latest and lasting helpings of heavy metal.

The Fresh Cut
Agalloch - Ashes Against the Grain
This is, by and large, is an ambitious foray into music. Black metal meets post-rock while camped out under a neo-folk funeral pyre? It doesn't quite mesh conceptually in one's mind, but flows marvellously out of one's CD player and into your ears. Haunting vocals undercut thick, despondent riffs while mournful tribalesque drumming beats trudge underfoot to anchor the piece in a tragic Bronte-esque landscape. The ocean-sized, undulating textures really do hit you where you'd least expect it. I'm not usually a fan of post-rock (the ending of the record that feature the very ambient and misty guitar sounds usually gets clipped and replaced with another CD nine times out of ten), with Mastodon or Isis being as far as my reach for post-rock/sludge doom/whatever those wankers are calling it will allow me to grasp without completely boring myself. Friends of mine (who are self-confessed "part-time" metalheads, which makes no sense to me) wet their pants over Drone/Doom bands such as Sunn O))), Sigur Ros and Pelican and the like but their enthusiasm is wasted on me since their material, in my opinion, is far less captivating than it's energetically confessed to be. In the words of a horrendously plastered Necrobutcher from Mayhem in the brillianly insightful Metal: A Headbanger's Journey documentary, "Fuck them if they don't like it!"

The Old Wound
Sentenced - Crimson
This album has a special place in my bleeding metal heart after some arsehole stole the CD (but not the case! I have a case with no CD! It almost drives me to tears!) and I had to resort to my ripped MP3 copy for repeat doses. I'm not entirely certain what the band did on this album to make it so addictive - perhaps it was the rockier production, the thought-provoking songwriting or the soul-destroying Anglophonic shamery (lyrics) but this record really does pull at heart strings when I listen to it. Sure, it's depressing music for depressed people but there's always a morbid sense of hope that follows every listen. The tracks are just the antithesis of love songs - Laihala's gruff voice trudges through the despondent, the brooding, the detatched, the lonely, the melancholy yet still has energy to deliver more pain by the pound in sonic form. They're all just perverse meanderings into a crash site of human wreckage but I can't get enough them - especially the riffs. They're just steeped in that delectable crunch and devil-may-care, tar-stained guitar picking - you can tell that this CD was painstaking to concieve, raise and finally release into the world, grown up and ready to kick some arse. My favorite part is the minimalistic "My Slowing Heart" with that deeply melancholic bass solo at the end. It really does almost sound like the drawn-out and unbearable funeral march to a long departed friend. Too bad they laid the band to rest last year, although their new DVD might be worth picking up. On another note, can't wait for Blind Guardian to tour, my ticket arrived in the mail yesterday! Go Hansi!

Hope you enjoyed our first edition of "Fresh Cuts and Old Wounds" and you can discuss it in our fantabulous forum! Rock rock on!

November 14, 2006
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