I've been craving new CDs for months; thanks to both Yule and my birthday (yesterday for those keeping score at home) I finally got a few:
Ludicra - Another Great Love Song: Brilliant post-black metal from San Francisco featuring two women with savage voices, needle-sharp lyrics, and a sound that forges new territory even as it remains true to its black metal roots. Extra points for the buried, distorted sample from "Tainted Love" in-between tracks "Why Conquer?" and "In The Greenest Maze".
Ulver - Blood Inside: The Norwegian black metal band that reinvented themselves as a high-brow electronica outfit continues to astound and confound expectations, with tracks that go from angelic sublimity to surprising heaviness, all without breaking stride. Ulver has always been brilliant but a little inconsistent; all the more surprising, then, that this is one of their most consistent recordings in a decade.
Various Artists - Neurot Recordings I: This is a sampler of recordings from the label that brought Neurosis and Tribes of Neurot to the world--a label dedicated to the exploration of sounds from a post-hardcore, post-metal direction. From the bass harmonics of Vitriol to the distinctly Asian cacophony of Zeni Geva, you are practically guaranteed an exposure to new sounds regardless of how broad your tastes.
Blut Aus Nord - Ultima Thulee: A solid but not quite distinguished first-time effort leaves the barest hint of their later experimentation with Godflesh-inspired ambient discordance. A worthwhile historical addition to my collection, but not necessarily for others....
Samael - Reign of Light: It'd be tempting to compare Samael to Rammstein, except (a) Samael's been around much longer; (b) they write much better music; and (c) their lyrics appeal to the mystic at heart. After some of the disappointment of Eternal, it's a joy to hear Samael put some backbone back into their music. Reign of Light may not exceed Passages as their greatest album, but it gives me hope that they're still striving to excel.
Peccatum - The Moribund People: An EP of three mere songs makes for more interesting listening than most LPs. Peccatum sticks with their moody and sophisticated sound for this album, and they don't disappoint. The only problem: This EP should've had more songs on it! But at least the EP comes with a video for the title track, so all is well. HIGHLY accessible.
Opeth - Ghost Reveries: Simply the most brilliant album from the most brilliant band ever to come out of Sweden. Honest. To call them a death metal band is to disregard the purity of the singing, the smoothness of the mourning guitars, the profound influence of prog-rock, the touches of folk and classical music, and the amazing ability to draw non-metal fans into their circle. But to ignore the death metal elements is to commit a grave disservice: The metal elements, seemingly sparse, have so much more impact as a result.