Signals Fill the Void


Signals Fill the Void offers you music and views from the marginalized fringes of society. Hosted by Sascha, bringing you tons of Punk, Metal, and Hardcore. Tuesdays 10-12 Midnight


Signals Fill the Void's Blog

Oct. 21 2011

First off, let me reiterate. I have little technical knowledge of music, songwriting, song structure, or any of that. I hope to still write a review that does this record justice.

I'm not going to lie. I'm incredibly biased. I love this band. They are probably my favorite band playing music right now. I've loved every single one of their records. I won't front, and claim to have been following their recording career from the beginning. I began listening to them with 2007's Two Hunters. I've had a long and complicated relationship with metal. It was the first music that really appealed to me as a kid growing up in the 80's. In the 90's, when I got into punk it was the burnt out metal heads that were beating me up for being punk and queer. In punk, it was suddenly very uncool to like metal. I imagine a lot of folks older than me have similar experiences. But I digress, Wolves In the throne Room. Their music brings a sense of Eco-spirituality to black metal. I'm sure they aren't the first band to do this. Romania's Negura Bunget come immediately to mind, as does Portland, Oregon's Agalloch Even bands from the original wave of Norwegian Black Metal held nature in a certain amount of awe. There are countless promo photos of Immortal thrashing away at their instruments in the snowy forests of Norway. One could write an entire other blog on the goofiness of Immortal alone, but we'll save that for another time.

Another simple fact of the matter is, I don't often see myself reflected in the music I listen to. I'm a pagan anarchist homo. I don't want to listen to Burzum or Emperor. There is no place for people like me in the world that those folks inhabit. Quite literally, in fact with some of the members of Emperor. Again, I could go on and on about the shady right wing/racist/homophobic tendencies in black metal. I don't want to talk about that here. I want to talk about what I like, which is this band, and this record.

The first track, Thuja Magus Imperium, starts off with previous collaborator Jessika Kinney's clean vocals, and lyrical contributions, ambient keyboards, and sparse notes plucked on guitar, evoking a clean, grey, Northwestern dawn. The calm before the storm, if you will.

"Redness in the east beyond the mountain
The Wheel begins to turn anew
Turning ever towards the Sun
Garlands adorn a chariot, aflame
Blood runs from the flank of a wounded stag
Turning inwards, all beings bow low
Unconcealed she flies
Then hidden by snow
Eyes pale voice of night"

Around the two minute mark the song thunders into full gear, the opening riff perhaps setting the tone for the rest of the record. The song is pupunctuated by moody riffing, and Nathan Weaver's desperate, rage filled, sorrowful vocals. Around the midpoint the song slows to an ambient break, with more keys, clean vocals, and chimes. It then kicks back in, but keeps the tempo slower for the remainder of the song.

"This bright thread so pure
Drawn through everything that is
Enslaved by ancient bonds
Beyond the mists and golden light
Beyond the darkness transcending time"

The second track Permanent Changes In Consciousness is to me, one of the stand out tracks of the record. It's not metal in a traditional way at all. It starts out with melodic chanting (by Aaron Turner of Isis fame.), faint drumming, and sparse keys, and some other sound I can't quite make out. It sounds sort of like a primitive axe gently grinding. The song fades out with a field recording of waves crashing, and seagulls calling, and blends seamlessly into the next track, Subterranean Initiation. This song is all killer, no filler. Fans of raw black metal, will not be disappointed, unless of course you are the type to prefer your records sound like they were recorded in a frozen Norwegian garbage can. If that's the case, maybe this blog isn't for you. This song simply soars to celestial heights (or dives to subterranean depths, if you will) the keyboards and guitar work blend seamlessly together setting an atmosphere of urgent dread, of trying desperately to reclaim spiritual light, in a culture that does it's best to ceaselessly grind that spark out of you.

"A temple of wet earth
And rough stones erected in haste
Don this garment of wolf skin
Drink deep from the sacred mead
Bathe in this fire kindled with living wood
Torn from sacred trees"

The next track, Rainbow Illness, blends so seamlessly between the songs it is in between, and has such a strange name, I often forget about it. It's short, and ambient, and has some of the reverb effect that is often present between songs at Wolves In The Throne Room's live shows.

Next is Woodland Cathedral with more vocals and lyrics from Jessika Kinney. This song evokes wooded spiritual reclamation in all it's glory, an earth based spirituality based procession, with sparse, droning guitars, chanting vocals, and chimes, all with the backdrop of majestic keyboards. This song was showcased on NPR a few weeks before the album was released and Drummer Aaron Weaver had this to say:

"It totally is a pagan hymn, in our eyes. We had the vision of a mass or a ceremony, but one that reflects our own personal experiences and dreams rather than something handed down from antiquity. And, of course, it is filtered through a black-metal sensibility. We always try to have a certain element of decay and melancholy, even in a song like this. But I think that ecstatic darkness is a part of a lot of ancient music — it's not unique to metal."

Next is Astral Blood, in my opinion one of the crowning moments of this record. All the moody riffing, desperation, and atmosphere come to a head right here. It's as if this song is a massive prayer, an offering to the themes of destruction and creation that are so present in their music. This song evokes the utter destruction of the established order of things, and a rebirth of a more just, and primitive cosmos. Seriously, you owe it to yourself to listen to this song.

Closing the record is Prayer Of Transformation, the record's dénouement. It begins with ambient noise, and droning guitar work, sparse drumming, and builds up to a crescendo of crashing riffs, seamless drum work, and keys. The last three minutes of the song are mostly ambient noise, fading guitar chords, and the last few lines of the lyrics. Aaron Weaver's strained vocals sound even more haunting and desperate amongst this backdrop. This song, too is perfect, although not traditionally structured at all for a black metal song. It works though, it is a perfect closer to a wonderful record.

"Lay your corpse upon a nest of oak leaves
Wrapped in a star shroud repent your flesh
A shadow child dissolves

Meditate in a den of skins and straight poles
A sacred fire of madrone burns eternally
In a circle of turquoise and serpentine
Whisper the prayer of transformation

Engulfed by clouds of thujone
Emerge purified clad in a golden fleece
A vessel awaits built from owl feathers and moss"

Sep. 20 2011

This time of year, the memory of departed loved ones weighs heavily on me. This show is for them.

I wanted to write something eloquent about it, but I'm finding myself lacking words tonight. I miss my friends. That's all. I refuse to be a prisoner of grief, but instead choose to dedicate the rest of my days to undermining the culture that took their lives, or caused them to take their own lives.

I don't think stories ever end, only chapters, and we keep our lost loved ones with us, by remembering them, and honoring their lives. Continuing their stories.

Too sentimental? Maybe. I'm okay with it. Every day with our loved ones, is a goddamn blessing. Every one. That's the thing about life. It's tricky, beautiful, complicated, and sometimes dangerous. It could end anytime, and sometimes I think we spend too much time existing, and not living. Surviving and not thriving.

I want to hung my friends, laugh, cry, be angry. Work it out. Accept imperfections. Live. Feel.

"We walk within you in the day
Sleep beneath you at night
and remember you for all or our lives"

Jun. 7 2011

Tonight's Show is dedicated to Eric McDavid. June 11th is the day of international Solidarity with Eric McDavid and Marie Mason. If you only get one thing from this blog, I hope that it is to read up on the background of both cases. I'm only going to speak about Eric's case, because it is the one I'm most familiar with.

Now, imagine you are young and angry. You aren't fooled by sight, by rose colored goggles this world forces on you. You feel that point past where our world breaks you spiritually. You feel that point past hope, past the point of no return. It slams into you like a thousand tiny heartbreaks building up to one awful moment of truth.

"The world is not dying, it is being killed."

You feel that moment of terror, when you realize what "doing what it takes" could look like. You choose to fight. Ideas form, sleepless nights are filled with visions of what the world could look like, but you know you are in for the fight of your life, and you very well may loose. Let's be clear, this isn't like losing a game, or a bet. In this scenario, losing could feel like more and more of your friends growing bitter and older, the weight of age and defeat setting in, entrenchment in despair and addictions. It could feel like losing your loved ones to cancer, to car wrecks, to heart disease, to mental illness. It could feel like working a job you hate to barely survive and then retire at 65 to enjoy your last few years. It could feel like grinding poverty, the criminalization of poverty, like every cop patrolling every ghetto. It feel like a nightstick to your teeth, a disproportionate amount of bullets buried in your neighbors body, for the crime of being the wrong color.

It feels like feet crumbling on the barren soil of a clear cut, like deforestation covering the planet, like industrial fishing devouring the ocean, like a mountain of plastic the size of Texas in the pacific, like oil spills, like temperatures rising.

I feel like one in three women surviving sexual, assault, one in six boys.

It looks like queerbashings, like transgender women being murdered.

It is going to feel like the shining hell of concrete walls and prison bars.

This is the sum and total of our mechanic culture. It hasn't always been this way, and make no mistake, it won't last, another world is after all, not just possible, but inevitable. Right now we are trapped in the abyss, just below the surface clawing for anything to grip, gasping for air.

(Please keep treading water, our day will come)

We are wanderers of a desolate plain of soul, trying to make sense of a dehumanized, dehumanizing world,

Now Imagine, you see all of this, feel all of this and think about taking action against the tyranny of what everyone knows. You talk to your friends, you talk a lot, you talk big. You are inspired and fired up. You forget about caution. You find kindred spirits, you talk long into the nigh of your world, how to mold and shape it.

You and your friends talk and talk, you weigh options. You are young and headstrong, you maybe don't mean anything, but you talk anyway.

Then they come with their guns pointed on your head, you sit handcuffed in the back of a squad car, and look up at the slate grey sky and know your life will never, ever be the same.

As the police car pulls away, you see the look in what you thought was your lover's eyes, and you realize she had been one of this cultures battery humans all along. Working for them, pushing, maneuvering, antagonizing to get you right to this spot.

Your mother and father wish they could hug you through the thick glass of the visitation cell. You feel their hearts break, and you know your life will never be the same.

To make buy a temporary reprieve from hell, your friends eventually point their traitorous fingers at you, your lover set you all up. You know your life is shattered.

It sounds like twenty years in prison for thinking. Thoughtcrime. You know the justice system is set up to crush you, to serve the people who benefit from making the world this way. You know they are going to make such a vicious, unrelenting example of you. You resign yourself to memorizing your 8x10 cell. You sit in the courtroom, watching the people you thought were your friends put the weight of blame on you so temporarily save their own necks, to buy not freedom, but simply a larger cage.

You maintain your faith, you refuse to break, to let them break you. Despite it all, you wish you could hug your mom when the judge pronounces the twenty year sentence. You know you are in for the fight of your life. The fight to keep your life. To stay alive inside.

Tonight's show is utterly and completely dedicated to the freedom of one Eric McDavid. We hold him in our hearts with the deepest sense of love, compassion, and most of all, solidarity this night.

Each record spun, each distorted chord sent out over the airwaves will become a blessing, a colossal spell, unrelenting, unstoppable, dedicated to breaking down, breaking through those bars that keep you imprisoned. Tonight's show is a spell cast to see the day when you see freedom. The kind you can taste on your tongue, on your skin. The kind that can't be bought. Tonight's show is a spell cast to see you through to that day, to sustain you, to warm you on the coldest concrete cell nights.

Until every cell door is open, and every cage empty.

No, Madame, YOU were a teenage anarchist!

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