You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead—your next stop, the Youtube Zone!
Have you ever gone to Youtube to listen to one song and 20 minutes later, you’ve clicked on several recommended videos and discovered some great new bands? Sure you have. We all have. There are many names for this. Some call it “Youtubing” or “Falling down the Youtube hole” or “Shit, what have I been doing for the last hour?” It’s a fairly innocuous way to discover new bands. It certainly worked for me in the past and hopefully it will work again with this little experiment.
Inspired by the great Toilet Ov Hell Record Swap series, I bring you “Recommendations Ov Hell”. While Record Swap is the equivalent of wandering through the woods with no map or guidance (listening to albums with no prior knowledge of the band), Recommendations Ov Hell is like a life raft going down a river. Using prior knowledge of preferred bands and genres, you recommend a starting point in Youtube for your partner to listen to and review. From there, they click on Youtube’s recommended songs on the side band and repeat the process four more times. This is all in an effort to discover new bands in your wheelhouse that you may not have discovered on your own.
Joining me on this maiden voyage is your buddy and mine, Stockhausen. For his first song, Stocky asked for “weird death or weird black”. To get him started, I suggested Gnaw – Vacant (of course the Youtube video was taken down between the writing and posting of this article. Sigh.). Let’s see where that led him.
STOCKHAUSEN: 365 started me off right with NYC noisemakers Gnaw. I love their tense, terrifying album Horrible Chamber, and I was given the track “Vacant” from their debut This Face, which I had not heard before. It first struck me as being quite a bit different from both the Gnaw I was familiar and Khanate, Alan Dubin’s well-known band that preceded Gnaw. However, it still showed Dubin’s distinct knack for creating uncomfortable music. The sludgy industrial feel of the instruments trudges along without much variation, but the oddly strained-yet-melodic vocal approach used by Dubin brings out a bizarre sense of discomfort that I really enjoyed. Next!
I wanted to click the several Khanate links in the side, but I resisted and went with Menace Ruine’s “There Will Be Blood.” Despite hearing the name, I had never listened to the Canadian duo before this track. I was really surprisingly drawn into the hypnotic, almost shimmering drone texture they created in this tune, and the hauntingly simple vocal line over the sea of noise was the perfect touch. I was pleasantly reminded a bit of Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. Next!
Well, the only recommendation that wasn’t more Menace Ruine or soccer videos was “Ashtakra II” by Dark Buddha Rising. I didn’t know there was a dark Buddha, and I hope the good Buddha wins in their eventual showdown. At the very least, I hope our deaths are quick and painless when dark Buddha is done rising. Anyway, they’ve been mentioned on the Toilet before, but this is my first time giving them a full and dedicated listening. Karhu was absolutely right to use the term “Lovecraftian horror” when describing their sound; this vibe is more than the sum of its death/doom/sludge/drone parts, it really feels primordial in a way. Like a great, moaning beast ascending from impossible depths with impossible power, Dark Buddha Rising slowly but surely forces their way into your fragile mind. Next! Well not yet, there’s still, like, 10 minutes of this track left.
For my last dive down the rabbit hole, I chose a full album stream of Here Be Dragons by The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble *pushes glasses up nose*.
I’ll be honest and say that I skipped around a bit, and found a lot to really dig. Messy, electronic-driven noise sections, broad and cinematic ensemble ideas, and tango-inspired meanderings were all highly enjoyable, but they were also separated by a couple minutes of spacious downtime. I normally have nothing against that, but my mind was wandering too much after the other three listenings, all of which a heavy drone component. All in all, excellent times were had.
365: For my explorations into the unknown, I asked Stockhausen for some melodic death metal. This is what I got.
Aetherian a Greek melodic death metal band currently on Lifeforce Records. The name doesn’t ring a bell, so I was immediately interested in hearing something completely new. This song was released this year as a single, but no word on a full length. I thoroughly enjoy the bleak yet steady melody of the song. It’s good for headbanging while you stare at your feet and feel bad about stuff. The song speeds up about a minute and a half in and I’m not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, it’s a nice change of pace. On the other, it feels a little out of place. Regardless, I still enjoy it thoroughly. Aetherian could easily fit in on a tour with Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum, Officium Triste and the like. Next!
Pictured are a melo-death band from France. This song comes from their 2012 album The Strand Of Time. While it appears that the band is still active, they haven’t released a full-length since. That’s unfortunate because this is a pretty darn good song. I hear some touches of Iron Maiden and Death. Maybe that’s just me. Either way, it works. They’re clearly talented and very tight. I had to resist the urge to air guitar at my desk while listening. I’m actually surprised I haven’t heard of this band prior to this little experiment. That’s why we’re doing this, right? Next!
I admit, I clicked on this one because I like the name. It makes me think of the Superman villain Parasite starting his own small business. Germany’s Parasite Inc. (sort of) keeps the melo-death train rolling with their song “Pulse Of The Dead”. Maybe it’s the video, but the song feels very compressed and squashed down. Compared to the two previous songs, it sounds downright smooth. The song is okay, but nothing special. This would be good for Fear Factory fans that are looking to branch out a little. They can’t all be winners. Someone in the comments section said they like “Big Truck” by Coal Chamber. Just wanted to point that out. Next!
Judging by the preview picture, I thought Before Nightfall were ladies. They are not. They’re just Australians. Australians with a staring problem. Seriously, I’m a little uncomfortable. Stop staring at me like I’m the last slice of pizza. The band definitely loves Children of Bodom. They also love silly poses. If that’s your thing, cool! If not, cool! I’m not sure where those extremely loud keys are coming from since there doesn’t appear to be a keyboardist in the video. The vocals are hit or miss, leaning more towards miss for me. Before Nightfall hasn’t released anything since 2011, so I wouldn’t expect much in the future. Ah well.
So there you have it. The first, but hopefully not the last edition of Recommendations Ov Hell. Want to give it a shot and discover some new bands? Hook up with a buddy, watch a few recommended videos, write something up, and submit it to the Toilet Ov Hell, subject: Recommendations Ov Hell. Be sure to include links to the songs. You can do it! You’re a winner!