Friday, December 18, 2015

Joy Shannon and the Beauty Marks - Mo Anam Cara (2015)

In my early teen years, I really didn't think much of folk music.  There was some stuff by Bob Dylan that I enjoyed, but I hungered more for the extreme.  It wasn't til I heard "Far Away Coast" by Dropkick Murphys, (and maybe post-Hammerheart Bathory) when I started to appreciate folk.  By my early-mid 20's, that's when I was introduced to neo-folk, and got into Current 93, Sol Invictus, and Death In June.  Other than having beautiful melodies, and a laidback atmosphere, what folk music also brings is great lyrics and storytelling.  And these are what we can expect from Long Beach's Joy Shannon and the Beauty Marks.  This past spring, Shannon and her bandmates put out their 7th studio album, Mo Anam Cara (which means "My Soulmate" in Irish-Celtic terms), and it's a wonderful journey into the Pagan/Celtic Culture.  Both the light and the dark are represented in Mo Anam Cara, which gives each song a different experience.
"Winds of Hel" kicks off with Shannon's harp, which to me it's a big part of the Joy Shannon and the Beauty Marks identity.  When looking up Hel, I did get a feeling that the lyrics could be about dying.  If we let go, where would our souls be?  Wondering around the World or would there be a place where our spirit will be in peace.  On "Midwinter Ghost", you can hear Joy Shannon's voice getting into it.  We hear a woman expressing her love and dedication ("I won't let go of your ghost") to that soulmate.  And what that person means to her life ("you're my light when others gone out").  By the end, she ask if he'll accept the good and bad in her, as she is willing to the accept the good and bad about him.  Then we got "Midsummer Witch Hunt", which is one of the most saddest stories.  Of course if you've seen the music video for this, you pretty much know what it's about.  Studying about witch hunts during the 1400's and mostly the 1700's, this one was very personal to me.  Probably one of the best perspectives of a woman being accused of witchcraft by a establishment that has many faults and hypocrisy.  Do they think their sins aren't as bad as the one's they accuse of being evil.  The album ends with "Marbon: Airmid Bring Back The Dead".  When hearing this song, it does bring a fear of losing the ones you care about, and the ones who you enjoy being around with.  Being alone in a cold winter night.  No one to share laughs and love with.  You hope to have that moment, one more time.  Or at least hope to meet up again, once the time has come.
Mo Anam Cara can be seen as a story about the love of your life.  The one that you want to take care.  Be around with and cherish every moment.  The one who will listen to you, as you will also listen to them.  And also a story about fear.  Wondering if they love you as much as you love them.  Would they accept you for who you are.  And if they will be around forever or be taken away from you, and you'll be all alone in this World.  When hearing Joy Shannon's voice, you just get that feeling that you'll be taken care of, and you don't have to be alone.  The harp does bring in a angelic sound.  You just want to close your eyes and let it guide you.  As Joy's cello brings a more darker tone.  Amelia Barron and Rachel Star Albright backing vocals also bring light to Mo Anam Cara.  And the guitars by Daryl Hernandez bring in a doomy feel as Jon Zell's guitar is more in the lighter side on"Imbolc Invocation to Brighid" and "Ostara Blodeuwedd".  Everything about Joy Shannon and the Beauty Marks feels so real.  From the vocals to the way the instruments are played, and the lyrics.  From the first track to the last, everything just flows nicely.  If you're ever in a mood to listen to something mellow, I would totally give Mo Anam Cara a listen.  It may feel odd that there would be a dark/pagan folk band from Long Beach, but once you dive deep into their music, you pretty much forget all about that.  And when you feel like you have no one, just pop this in on your CD/mp3 player, and let Joy Shannon and the Beauty Marks make everything better

You can purchase Mo Anam Cara on bandcamp:

I rate this "5 Hitlers Punched in the Face"


Monday, December 14, 2015

Swartwoud - Nusquam (2015)

- "nusquam" meaning: nowhere, in no place, nothing, for nothing -

Swartwoud is a unique kind of beast.  It is nothing that you've probably heard before.  Or at least in my neck of the woods.  After the bullocks that happened with Zaltu, Lord Orgun put Zaltu on hiatus and started focusing on is experimental Black Metal project, Swartwoud.  Last year, Hexental took us into a journey of bleakness and cacophony.  With Nusquam (Swartwoud's new release), we now enter a void that is dark, cold, and empty.  It's a place where those who have nothing can fit in.  If you're planning to  enter the abyss that is Nusquam, then step in with no light.  And let the darkness guide you through.
When you hear the drum beats of "Ubermenschlich" (German for "superhuman"), you feel like you're in a ritual.  You see shadow looking figures, dancing around the flames, revering a entity that is very superior.  On "87.7N.142.2E (North Pole Song), the guitar riff has a very militant vibe, as if Ogun ready to lead and conquer (most likely Santa's Village).  And you can hear a bit of a Rammstein influence on the vocals.  "Hellbound" is my favorite track.  I'm always a sucker for a guitar that starts off calm before going into total chaos.  Vocals are very menacing.  As if someone has upset that entity and it has now unleashed it's wrath.  Not sure if I'm hearing it right, but it sounds like Ogun does some guitar bending.  And it sounds really sick.  Things start to calm down when "Ex Nihilo" kicks in.  We escaped the darkness, but for some reason  we still feel trapped inside the abyss.  And when we hear those ambient keyboard/organ come in on "Nusquam". we realize that  we are in here forever.  All alone and just floating around.  Having to embrace that isolation.
I wonder if things didn't go sour with Zaltu, would we be hearing Nusquam today.  This is definitely a perfect predecessor to Hexental, as Nusquam has a better sound, a better atmosphere, and more creative.  The violin on "Eindelik" was a nice touch.  It just had a raw and ugly feel.  Perfect for the Swartwoud sound.  And it's those little things that I appreciate from Swartwoud.  With this project, nothing is off limits for Lord Orgun.  Swartwoud is the platform where he can express himself, however he wants to.  Many influences make what Swartwoud is.  But where many bands who have many influences sound like they're everywhere, Swartwoud managed to make it sound as one.  So whether it's heavy, ambient, noisey, mellow, it will still sound like Swatwoud.  Not sure what the average metal listeners would think about Nusquam, but for those who enjoy a very left-field sound, there will be some stuff that you'll dig.  It's a shame that we won't be hearing new Zaltu for a while, but I'm glad to hear some new Swartwoud.  Nusquam has really kept Swartwoud really interesting, and that's what we need in extreme and experimental music.  Sometimes we have to be challenge outside of our comfort zone.  Especially if you're hungry for new music.  If Orgun continues being creative, pushing his sound, and willing to give Swartwoud all his focus, then hopefully we will be hearing Swartwoud's phrases everywhere.

Nusquam can now be stream on youtube.


And if you dig it, you can order the cassette by sending a email at

I rate Nusquam "5 Hitlers Punched in the Face"

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Enslaved - "In Time" (2015)

Ever since they declared their love for Pink Floyd, Enslave have been pushing themselves from just being another Black Metal band.  Some fans of their early Black Metal recordings, may have been disappointed, as they felt like Enslaved has abandoned their early sound.  But there are those who welcomed it.  As to them, it was something new, and kept them interested.  Enslaved were already a unique band to begin with.  They were took Bathory's Viking them and took it to a whole new level.  And with their new album, In Time, we still hear Enslaved continuing their Prog journey.
"Thurisaz Dreaming" comes out of the gate swinging.  The tremolos are just blazing.  Cato Bekkevoid is just pounding on those drums.  And Grutle is just relentless with those vocals.  And then keyboardist/vocalist, Herbrand, comes in to make things diverse.  But his delivery in the 4:30 mark is just epic.  I also really loved his singing on "Building With Fire".  It's also one of my favorite song writing by Enslaved.  The way the song progresses is only something that a band with the experience that Enslaved has.  "Nauthir Bleeding" is another song progresses really nicely.  The set-up is nice and mellow.  Then the song starts to kick arse once we hear Grutle.  The solo around the 4:30 mark added a very nice touch before things get intense again.  And finally, you can't end a Enslaved album without something EPIC, to send the listeners off.  "Daylight" fits in perfects.  Just listen to the choir vocals.  That totally screams "EPIC".  It's also a perfect movie soundtrack about a Viking who just came back to his village, after laying waste to his enemy.  You just want to raise your sword up high for Odin and the warriors up in Valhalla, having a drink.
In Time is probably my favorite recent album by Enslaved. I definitely love their earlier stuff.  But ever since they changed their sound, I would have to pick In Time.  Everything about it is just so good.  From the production, the musicianship, Grutle and Herbrand's vocal delivery, and of course the lyrics.  In Time may not be old-school Norwegian Black Metal, but it does kick a lot of arse.  It also helps if you let the music sink in.  Believe me, it's gonna be one hell of a journey.  If you haven't heard Enslaved before, then I suggest you look for their early stuff before getting into their more progressive/experimental stuff.  If you love extreme and epic music, then you'll dig In Time.  Sadly I don't have mead on me, so I raise my cup of Mt. Dew: Code Red for Enslaved.

"Rating: 5 Hitlers Punched In The Face"

You can purchase In Time here, along with a instant download.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Code 415 Podcast: 12-6-15

On this episode, I'll be playing bands from Australia.  Also music from Amorphis, Enslaved, and the collaboration between The Body and Krieg.  Hope you guys will enjoy.


Girlflesh - "Monster"

Asylum Sisters - "Harder, Darker, Louder"

Hope Drone - "Every End Is Fated In It's Beginning"

The Body + Krieg - "Bottom of the Bottle, Bottom of the River"

Amorphis - "Better Unborn"

Enslaved - "Daylight"

Code 415 Podcast: 12-6-15 by Code415media on Mixcloud