Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Craft Beer is Falling!

It's offically Fall, and the beers of the season are starting to arrive, like leaves falling from the trees. For beer snobs like me, Fall means a new batch of Dogfish Head Punkin Ale. But, alas, craft brew fans, there are others out there, vying for your attention, dollars, and taste buds. Here are a few recent tastings. Ratings are on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being horse piss, 3 being decent, and 5 being life-sustaining nectar of ye godz! As you can see, not a great month!

BUD LIGHT - Golden Wheat (St. Louis, MO) - 1.0
A certain pizza company is wise to proclaim the benefits of "better ingredients", and I believe that applies to beer, as well. This one has a decent cloudy wheat appearance, but first taste reveals a soft, fuzzy, fizzy mix of coriander, citrus, and...something artificial? Maybe metallic. I dunno. I do know that this one tastes one-dimensional and cheap. Absolutely horrid.

GOOSE ISLAND - Harvest Ale (Chicago, IL) - 3.0
Mmm. Yummy hints of rich, fruitiness on the nose -- almost pumpkinlike, definitely a Fall-like scent. Nice deep amber in color, and quite attractive. But the taste? Shows some hoppy character, but the maltiness complements it well. A hearty brew, and more than drinkable, but somehow not one I'd keep on-hand.

SHIPYARD BREWING CO. - Pumpkinhead Ale (Portland, ME) - 3.0
This clean, golden ale shows a nice froth and has a deliciously spicy scent up front. Tastes hearty, with plenty of sweetness, and the pumpkin flavor is integrated well with the spice elements. Balanced and rich, this one is enjoyable, though there are better pumpkin ales out there (Dogfish Head).

LEINENKUGEL'S - Oktoberfest (Chippewa Falls, WI) - 2.0
Pours a crystal-clear amber, with a very sweet aroma. Tastes pretty sweet, too. In fact, the overly malty presence is overbearing, completely obscuring the flavor profile or the supposed "4 specialty hops". I hate to slander a "German-style Marzen", but this one blows.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Storm Of Light - "Forgive Us Our Trespasses" CD

This album serves as a warning, and a document of mankind's widespread gluttony and greed over our own Mother Nature, and the devastating effects of Earth tipping the scales back into her favor. And to capture that heavy-duty concept, the music needs to be grand, all-encompassing, and absolutely omnipotent. "Forgive Us Our Trespasses" comes mightily close, and in fact works quite well under that condition. Formed in 2008 by Josh Graham (ex-Battle Of Mice, Neurosis visualist) and joined by Dominic Seita (Tombs, Asea), Andy Rice (Sinking Ships), and Joel Hamilton (Battle Of Mice, Book Of Knots), this incredible combo is primed to prove themselves juggernauts of environmentally-conscious, cerebral post-metal heaviness. The titanic rhythms and thunderous riffage of the aptly-titled "Tempest" envision a future wrought with apocalyptic cataclysm. The potent storms of doomy, slow, and tortuous grind here are melodic and dynamic, though, pulsing with ethereal undercurrents that envelop the monolithic slabs of pure, primal force. Lydia Lunch herself provides effected spoken parts through three cuts, and former Swans frontwoman Jarboe also adds her considerable vocal talents to a couple of songs, but this is really Graham's child, as he contributes just about every instrument to the mix, as well as conjuring the amazingly apocalyptic artwork on the sleeve and liners. "The Light In Their Eyes" places a mournful cello as the centerpiece, with martial drums and frightening soundtrack textures providing the color to the rendering. This is an album that warns of a possible, even inevitable, global environmental catastrophe. And the music provides a sort of soundtrack -- powerful, unstoppable, and ultimately sorrowful. This is a hell of a recording, and this group will be legendary if they can keep up with a creative zenith like this. (Neurot Recordings)

A Storm Of Light website

Link to exclusive video for "Tempest", on Brooklyn Vegan website

Monday, September 21, 2009

Shrinebuilder - "Shrinebuilder" CD

Heavy and and melodic psychedelic metal here, from a new project from prominent members of Om, Melvins, and Neurosis, with Wino (from the Obsessed) on vocals. "Shrinebuilder" draws on everything from stoner rock to classic metal to drone/tribal hybrids to lysergic improv, and to good effect. "Solar Benediction" evolves from heavy groove to mellow psychedelia in it's almost 9-minute duration, while "Pyramid To The Moon" is a huge and head-nodding slab of post-Sabbath groove, albeit with added space-out textures. "Blind For All To See" is a slow, churning drone-stone wanderer, sounding like a massive epic jam from another time and space. If big, monstrously heavy and monolothic doom metal is your thing, Shrinebuilder are certainly a must-hear. (Neurot Recordings)


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Black Cobra - "Chronomega" CD

Bay Area duo Black Cobra's Southern Lord debut (and third LP overall) shreds from the very first track. "Negative Reversal" is a frantic, riff-heavy onslaught of sludgy doom/stoner wickedness -- like the Melvins on a speed binge, perhaps. "Catalyst" begins with some subtle drone, but it soon erupts into another mammoth cataclysm of molasses-thick riff-n-spliff. "Zero Point Field" gets so sticky, it threatens to become total noise, but it never devolves quite that far. Produced by the man-of-the-hour Billy Anderson (Melvins, Neurosis, High On Fire), "Chronomega" is a thick, bludgeoning behemoth capable of crushing anything in it's path. I am duly convinced, and worship at the altar of Black Cobra. (Southern Lord)

Black Cobra site
Black Cobraspace