Portland Is On Fire

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One of these excellent Portland bands has “fire” in their name. The other excellent Portland band has “fire” in the name of their album. But which is which? I’ll never tell.

Ok, I’ll tell. Let’s start with Winter in the Blood, and their excellent album Forest Fires (important note: this band is the band with “fire” in the name of their album). Released in February of this year, this album waited until last week to pounce from the shadows and drag me shrieking into a thick bog of despair. Finding unknown gems that were released in the current year is always rewarding to me, and this album may be my favorite hidden treasure I’ve uncovered in 2015. Winter in the Blood blends a steadfastly grim sense of doom with unapologetic and nasty black metal, birthing a misanthropic beast that howls through a swirling atmosphere.

As with many bands in the Pacific Northwest, WitB take inspiration from their beautiful natural surroundings. The Cascadian black metal tradition is certainly evident in their sound, but I can really appreciate the distinct blending of doom and sludge into Forest Fires. And those vocals! Their vocal approach is a shape-shifting monster, layering obscured growls beneath wispy shrieks and pained howls. The resulting blend between vocal and instrumental atmosphere really sets this album apart in terms of overall aesthetic. Oh, and the track “Impaled By A Memory” opens with a brilliant throat-singing section. You people like that sort of thing (and you should). Hit up this album on Bandcamp and give them a like on Facebook.

Changing gears to a thing that has very different gears, let’s check out The Siege Fire and their most recent album, Dead Refuge (important note: this band is the band with “fire” in their name). We may not have too many fans of both bands here, but if you pull yourself from the murk of Winter in the Blood, feel free to start furiously hate-moshing to The Siege Fire. With a foot planted firmly in hardcore, these guys throw in some crusty punk attitude and a sense of melody that doesn’t seem out of place. The vocals cover a high and low range on the pissed-off screaming spectrum; there’s just enough variety to stay interesting but the balls are always to the wall. Ain’t nobody got time for balls being anywhere but walls. The Siege Fire’s overall package (hehe, package, balls) is really cemented with that sense of melody mentioned earlier and the interesting harmonic flavor we get as a result. There’s a space and emotional heft to certain sections without sounding cheesy, making it even more compelling when we’re thrown back into a furious d-beat frenzy. Dead Refuge was released in May of this year, so get on this train and make up for lost time.

So, at the time of writing, the city of Portland wasn’t actually on fire. But some Portland bands in close proximity to the word “fire” are good, and you should hear them. I’m going to feel awful if Portland is really on fire when this runs.