Exalted Light (photo by S. Lange, model: Casper Macabre)

Extending Delight: A Playlist for the Summer Solstice

Exalted Light (photo by S. Lange, model: Casper Macabre)

Exalted Light (photo by S. Lange, model: Casper Macabre)

The high point of summer solstice may have just passed but we’re not done with extended daylight just yet – a lot of good, dark music was released since our Hexxennacht/Beltane mix – so we squeezed as much listening as possible into those precious, reduced nighttime hours and now present a hefty playlist for your seasonal enjoyment.

We begin with a track from Al Jourgensen’s new post-Ministry project, Surgical Meth Machine, and the ironically titled track “I’m Sensitive” which, one has found through several repeat listens, provides a soothing mantra for the social media-inundated mind: “I don’t fucking care” is a liberating proclamation for everyone living in our overmediated culture. Gutter Instinct‘s nihilistic Swedish death metal offers a subsequently raw, buzzsaw counterpoint on “Death Cult”; taken together these two tracks are a wry nod to the rollicking, carefree spirit of summer.

While there have been several exceptional releases from established local Vancouver-area acts, we focus our attention on a handful of noteworthy debuts from Apprentice, Cadaveric Lividity, Opus Arise, and Medevil, which are interspersed throughout the mix. Each of these Vancouver bands has worked hard over the past year to hone its sound, performance, and songcraft and all of the effort has clearly paid off: the classic speed metal sound of Apprentice’s “Desecrating Miranda” will immediately appeal to fans of Spellcaster, while Cadaveric Lividity’s “10,000 Cuts” elicits heady nostalgia for the death metal/grindcore hybrids of yore; the prodigious instrumental symphonic metal of “Theatre of War” by Opus Arise demonstrates a flair for innovative composition on the same spectrum with technical metal masters such as Gorguts and Obscura; and Medevil’s “Machination Factory”has a penchant for heavier riffage that sharpens the teeth of the old lion of NWOBHM.

From Lament Cityscape to Gridfailure, one is reminded throughout that the wax and wane of natural cycles persist where human endeavours invariably falter (e.g., when the air conditioner breaks during a heat wave); but one’s outlook similarly vacillates between various polarities: “For All Days, and For None” is a warm, melancholy rain from Solstice before the lumbering strides of Candlemass‘ “Sleeping Giant” and the wistful, conflicted reminiscence of Marissa Nadler‘s “Skyscrapers”. We revisit a beloved summer favourite with Midas Fall‘s “Circus Performer”, then swoop high into riffphoria with Zirakzigil‘s dizzying “Prolegomena”. After Horisont‘s “Odyssey” ventures into more rarefied, classically prog airspace, Crematory rests its heavy heart on a Germanic grave with the lush gothic rock of “Die So Soon”, followed by the life-affirming resolve of Walls of Jericho (“Fight the Good Fight”) and Otep‘s “Equal Rights, Equal Lefts”.

Swimming out into deeper waters for the final hour of the mix, one finds Moulettes‘ “Behemooth” breaching the surface of pop music like an oddly cello-shaped submarine only to be startled by the aforementioned technical flurries of Opus Arise, then settling back into the depths on the back of Inverloch‘s “From the Eventide Pool” to rest in the resonant murk with Cities Last Broadcast (“Glossolalia”) and Phonothek (“Something Happened”).

Finally, Ghazm‘s “The Conjuring and Encounter with the Extreme Other” contrives an epic of hallucinatory reflections from its phosphorescent strings which then drift into Gridfailure‘s undulating ghost currents (“Welcoming Pyroclastic Eradication”) and fade into abyssal silence.