Sunday Sesh: Adrift at Sea

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Although the mountains are the clime for which my flinty heart most yearns, every summer, for a handful of months, I find myself yearning for the sea. Like Odysseus, I am pulled by the ebb and flow of the siren song of the depths. To assuage these tidal urges, I listen to nautically-inclined metal while the summer sun beams down upon me. In this Sunday Sesh, we put our hearts and ears to the proverbial conch and discuss metal songs inspired by the ocean. If you listen closely, you may even hear seagulls.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the {AE}gean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
-Matthew Arnold

My love affair with Calypso and her pelagic domain began many years ago, when as a child I was humbled by the power and scope of the black sea as I stood upon its newly post-Soviet shores. Years later, while in college, I found myself returning year after year to the Gulf of Mexico; there I would find solace in the gentle rocking of the waves as I attempted to cast my fear and anxiety into the briny depths like a message in a bottle.

It was on one of these trips that I became enamored with post-rock band Pelican, specifically their seaweed encrusted masterwork City of Echos. On this record, Pelican mastered the delicate swell and release, the wax and wane of warm tone and churning notes that provides listeners with a cathartic abandonment of worry. City of Echos is an album within which you can lose yourself in the cascading crescendos and overpowering shine, a lighter, warmer soul for the experience.

However, the sea is a fickle mistress, one that may drown and expunge as readily as it births and blooms. One track that has stuck with me over the years is Amon Amarth‘s “Legend of a Banished Man.” This song, written in Amon Amarth’s more scabrous, experimental days before they settled into rote mimicry of every release, begins with a prominent bass roll that reverberates like the sampled effects of waves crashing upon the beach before leading into a raucous assault that tells a tale of terror borne upon the waves. Although it is only one of the many songs about death by longship the band has written, it remains perhaps their most noteworthy.

Yesterday morning, as I drove to my tutoring office and contemplated the warm sun and gentle breeze, I felt once again that stirring of my heart strings like Charybdis’ whirpool pulling me into the murky wash. This time, however, I deigned to answer the call of mare nostrum by seeking something new. After a short plumbing of the depths I discovered a relatively unknown, monstrous experimental black metal group called Kraken Duumvirate. The sample track below, “The Astroglyphs of the Ritual Deluge,” is taken from an EP of the same name and is perfect encapsulates the band’s inky approach to songcraft. The track begins with a sonar pulse of a sampled effect that soon locates a writhing mass of shifting tentacle riffs afloat in a near lightless mass of measured drum beats. The group’s vocalist speaks in aquatic tones like Dagon with a voice that swells and fumes. The track is deep and mysterious, like the ocean itself, taking you to strange, seemingly alien locales where no glimpse of the sun can be seen and where strange creatures lurk in volcanic fissures. It is as imposing and elusive and mystifying as the cephalopod monstrosity for which the band is named.

These few bands are but a small sample of the rich mutual history of the sea and heavy metal. Perhaps you prefer “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” or “Lord of the Storm.” Perhaps, like Ahab, there is some singular white whale for which your vengeance and mania burns. Cast your worries upon the shores in the comments below.

“Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.”

(Photo VIA)

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  • Lacertilian

    Loved this piece, the guitars on that Kraken Duumvirate track are great. Gives me a similar feel to those from Labyrinthine’s Ancient Obscurity, spectral and menacing.
    Trying to think of some of my favourite oceanic themed stuff, first things that come to mind here are Mastodon’s masterpiece Leviathan and The Ocean’s Pelagial, but I’m sure someone else will post those so I’ll chuck up this beast –
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kRZ1YG5ugY

  • Lacertilian

    From memory this was my favourite track on Pelagial.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bosXSeS9_Dg

    • tertius_decimus

      Very good instrumental piece.

      • I like the instrumental version of that album much better.

    • your comment was fucking with my head cause it was from 14 hours ago and Im not awake yet. I thought my windows clock was wonky. Anyway, yea I remember really liking this song and I for some reason completely forgot about this album.

      • CyberneticOrganism

        Lizards can time travel.

  • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf
  • tertius_decimus

    Therion’s “Lemuria” is mandatory here.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzJhacp9z9I

    • Abradolf Lincler

      always upvote Therion

      • tertius_decimus

        For unknown reasons it’s a good move to bash Therion no matter what. They’re not pretentious, they have their original style, wrote many beautiful and memorable songs, so IMO they don’t deserve that Dream Theater-treatment.

        • Abradolf Lincler

          its the adage: “haters gonna hate”

          Secret of the Runes one of my fav albums.

          • tertius_decimus

            Yes, “Secret Of The Runes” is unforgettable album. As are “Sirius B” and “Lemuria” and many late-90’s-early-00’s releases since 1996. I’ve seen Therion twice on the stage, one time in support of their Sirius B/Lemuria tour that lasted for them for more than 2 years. Incredible experience.

            I’ll never forget that, even despite that I didn’t enjoy anything after “Gothic Kabbalah”.

          • Abradolf Lincler

            yeah, i would even go so far as nothing after lemuria/sirius b

          • ME GORAK B.C.™

            GORAK LIKE SITRA AHRA!!!!!!!!!!!
            https://youtu.be/iupE7BbfjTw

          • Abradolf Lincler

            mmmm i donno, gorak

          • ME GORAK B.C.™
        • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf

          Weeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllllll……..

          http://www.nuclearblast.de/static/articles/105/105802.jpg/1000×1000.jpg

          I like them, btw, and they’re one of the few metal groups my dad and I can agree on.

          • Abradolf Lincler

            i think i killed one of those back in the day playing Everquest

          • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf

            I think that was one of the characters from the Dungeons And Dragons fighting game on PS1. Gah, that game was beyond awful!

      • ME GORAK B.C.™

        ALWAYS UPVOTE THERION UPVOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Fuck yes, Therion!

      Another sea related mythology song!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeaF1jhmdrg

  • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf

    Tool and Mastodon actually formed a nautical metal band as well:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTxI_WvshWw

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Legend of the Crappybandmen

      • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf

        Eh, it’s decent. I like it.

  • Abradolf Lincler
  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    This Kraken Duumvirate jiggery-pokery is an excellent find. Most evocative of the lightless depths and their macabre dwellers. As for my own tastes in nautical metal, well there are ones that have already been mentioned like Ahab and Mastodon’s Leviathan. But so far my biggest props go out to Giant Squid’s The Metridium Fields. An album so massive I don’t actually listen to it that often, as I really have to clear my schedule and just sit with it without distractions.

    And a side shout to Brown Jenkins’ Dagonite album, which one or other of the good souls writing here put me onto in the old Lovecraftian metal series. Thoroughly crushing and sinister stuff.

  • Scrimm
  • Abradolf Lincler

    i rly dont want anyone to think i listen to this band but uhhhhh, i do love this song. i apologize for the implied fedoras
    https://youtu.be/5Sw61oITuts

    • CyberneticOrganism

      M’captain *tips tricorn*

  • CyberneticOrganism

    I always thought of a fleet of ships listening to this album, so close enough I guess?

    https://youtu.be/GVRHvUkIZ8U

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    Nantucket Sleighride is the best song about the sea.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      That sounds like a shitty holiday movie starring Chris O’Dowd and Katherine Heigl

      • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf

        Or yet another shitty Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook) book and movie.

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        Cybro plz! It’s a song by Mountain!

        • CyberneticOrganism

          OH YEAH PROVE IT LOL

  • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf

    In other news (since this is an open swim), some blessed and glorious genius decided to combine Rick And Morty with Fallout 4.

    https://youtu.be/6znkK4in3Wo

  • Mother Shabubu

    This band sounds like pounding rain and violent waves smashing into the shores and docks.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWz3FOHygAM

    • One of my favorites from last year which was basically the year of Black Metal.

      • Mother Shabubu

        It was one of my as well. I think it’s more somewhere between black metal and post-hardcore on roids.

        Have you ever heard of Celeste? If you dig this, you might like them too.

        • Can’t say that I have.

          • Mother Shabubu
          • ten seconds in and I already love it. Will have to give the whole album a listen after work. I have to go in early cause I’m a nice guy. Idk why i do this to myself.

          • Abradolf Lincler

            all the Celeste albums are free to download from their label’s website

          • ME GORAK B.C.™

            LAST 2 SENTENCE HIT CLOSE 2 CAVE FOR GORAK : ( !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • more beer

            Because, money.

  • EsusMoose

    While not directly related to the sea, I’ve always found this track to inspire images of the sea. Somewhat of a shame that the spotify version of the record is a mess https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MD23Q1jvHn8

  • ME GORAK B.C.™
  • Hans Müller

    And your eyes have gone black,
    you’ll never look back
    You’ll never stop swimming, you’ll always be tracked

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJVs3qprmSw

  • ME GORAK B.C.™
    • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf

      Their name translates to “Angry Crotch”. #ItTwoo!

  • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf

    Another seafaring explorer-power metal-metal song:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TI_OL88kigk

  • Rob M
    • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf

      Sweeeeeeeeeeeet! Everything on Metal On Metal Records is worth checking out. I gotta check with them about whether or not there’s gonna be a new Battlerage CD.

  • Rob M

    ..and Just because if I dont, someone else will

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7qA75ET5e0

    • EsusMoose

      How’d I not think about this!? All their material is so solid. Might have to give it a spin later but I might try looking into some classic metal albums before that

    • Dubs

      You’re a class mammal, Rob.

      • Rob M

        Thanks man…thats means a lot coming from a giant praying mantis

    • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf
      • tigeraid

        mmmm Amy Jo Johnson.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Dude…

  • brokensnow
    • Abradolf Lincler

      GAH

      • more beer

        I was gonna say that too.

  • Stockhausen

    More like Lord Boner LOLOLOLOLOLOL

  • Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple

    Candlemass has a great song about a ship named the H.M.S. Clearsight. It’s probably the best song on their album ‘King of the Grey Islands’.

    https://youtu.be/tDMD8Lm1Z3k

    • Rob M

      Emperor of the Void will always be my favorite though

  • Stockhausen

    Solid stuff, Kraken Dumbpirate is a frothy, quality listen. Haters gonna hate on my contribution, but Thrice’s Water EP is an excellent, excellent representation of the mighty, mysterious sea.

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5B154C6256380C55

  • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf
  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    After the first paragraph I said to myself, “looks like someone needs to read Moby Dick.” And of course we have a quote to finish up the post. Very well written Dubyaman. I enjoyed it quite a lot.

    City of Echoes is an album that I became enamoured with when I first heard it and still listen to it regularly. Interesting point though, even though the seaweed covers the album art, I never got a aqueous vibe from it. When it comes to intrumental albums I tend to bot pay attention to any song titles and let it flow through me as one piece of music. There are many times on the album in which I feel like an ent walking the earth. Quite the opposite of water, indeed. However, this just shows the magic of music and how it will take different listeners to different places. It is a very pwrsonal experience.

    I’ll have to think about albums that have be yearning for the water, but in the meantine i leave you with this.
    https://youtu.be/Mm_bys1GFio

  • JWEG
  • Dagon

    I’m glad you like my voice. This was a great read… I don’t know why, but the sea has always exerted some sort of enchantment on me. Fascination, really, since I was a kid. In “Alligator”, Bronson closes a somewhat turnt song with a very dark verse, and he has a line that I like a lot:

    As baby turtles break the sand just to figure out the meaning
    Instinctively they heading towards the water cause they need it

    Like City Of Echoes, being at the sea is cathartic to me, almost a necessity. I always feel renewed after spending some time in a body of water, but more so if it’s a salt water beach. Go figure.

    • Dubs

      I get this. I feel the same way after spending time in the mountains, yet for a few months every year, I cannot help but yearn for the saline smell of the ocean.

      • Dagon

        Did you spend any time in the mountains as a kid?

        • Dubs

          A whole lot. Plenty of camping and hiking. Even some fishing, which I’d like to get back into.

          • Dagon

            My guess is that the childhood memories build up the “healing” factor of being outdoors.

          • more beer

            I was at a barbecue up at a friends cabin in Bailey yesterday Man it is beautiful up there.

          • Dubs

            The wife and I will get some time off in July and will be visiting Colorado. We are thinking of spending some time in Estes Park. The last time we drove through the park, it was too foggy to see anything.

          • more beer

            Definitely do the ghost tour at the The Stanley it is way cool. We should get a beer at Trve or Black Sky while you are here.

          • Dubs

            That would be tiiiiight. If time allows, I may take my nephews to Bishop’s Castle. I like to try to stop by every few years to see what progress he’s made.

          • more beer

            That is funny my friends and I were talking about taking a ride to Bishops Castle yesterday.We will see what happens when you get here if you have time. I will be in the Springs in 2 weeks for Foothills Gut Fest.

    • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf

      Pelican’s one of the best bands to ever come out of Chicago!

  • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf
  • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf
  • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf

    I can’t speak Russian, but judging by the video, it’s something about the sea. And no other woman on Earth can do those operatic vocals and super deep death metal vocals at the same time. Or any singer for that matter.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7fuuDc2hH0

    • tertius_decimus

      Masha “Scream” doesn’t do operatic vocals. Far from it. This singing style derived from Russian oriental culture and usually sung by older women because younger ones either don’t have that gritty timber in their vocies and don’t have a will to perform in this style because in Russia among young audience it’s considered too freaking outdated, old-school (in a bad way) and irrelevant in modern culture. Mostly, young ones consider oriental singing to go nowhere, it’s not developing in something “to date”. There are good exclusions, though.

      • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf

        That I didn’t know.

        • tertius_decimus

          Click anywhere on the timebar and listen for just few seconds. It’s enough to get whether Maria’s singing style comes from.

          https://youtu.be/2GzF503_K2Y

          • Tronc McBeefyBeardloaf

            I can see the resemblance, definite.

  • sopadeloro
  • sopadeloro
  • Sea and large bodies of water fucking scares me. I’m a well grounded half-elf.

    But, I have a deep respect for it.

    This is another great record based on the sea:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pomE3y2xW24&list=PLD8711F4346FA741C

  • BobLoblaw