Songs for the Withering

(Century Media)

The Rapture that Williamsburgers don’t know are a heavy-hearted quintet of Helsinki codeine-metal fops who quote Emily Brontë and Sophocles on their lyric sheet and gorgeously balance light croons with heavy grumbles about cold years and hangings and maggots (“our only friends”) and “bad dreams, hollow sleep of dark rooms, empty homes and things without names, memories of murder.” But their thick guitar blankets don’t just drone; they carry graspable tunes, and though the arrangements proggishly refuse to stay put, the songs are fairly concise compared to, say, Opeth’s. “The Vast” even sounds non-suicidal, almost. And “Farewell” kicks off with clear guitar ringing not far from Thin Lizzy’s “Whiskey in the Jar,” before Rapture’s ice beast crawls slowly but surely back into its dark cave, forever.


Lights Out

(The End Records)

Part-Irish/part-English foursome make metal on the dark side of the moon, albeit replacing the guitars they came up on with synths, harp-and-flute atmosphere, dub reverberation, woodblock percussion breaks, and Eurodisco soundtrack strings. Not to mention two singers of each gender, collectively demonstrating how bad habits learned from Roger Waters make their presence felt more than bad habits learned from Beth Gibbons. The album begins with an air-raid siren, ends with EKG blips flatlining into eternity. The shifts come gradually, but you’re pulled in by how short, repeated keyboard figures gain prominence as tracks progress; especially in the 7:48 “Reality Clash,” modally recurring silences serve as slots to sneak hooks into. Which isn’t to suggest more matter amid the antimatter wouldn’t help matters.


Antimatter Vs. Antimatter


The Antimatter that New Age metal goths don’t know is a Bay Area visual artist who sculpts metal-machine-muzak Dada-scapes on his Powerbook, 17 of which this album excerpts into a mastermix. Xopher Davidson’s noisy bits of dub and symphonic drama come off less corny than his little fluffy clouds and bagpipe-and-sitar exotica; “Garage Queen ” and “Demodulator” could almost be extended psychedelic blackouts at the end of a Hawkwind or Amon Düül freakout. But mostly, Xopher buzzes out long thin lines of distorted electronic blippery in unknown frequencies, arranging them into identifiable patterns he can fuck around on the edges of; just like with the other Antimatter, his repetitive pulse is a golf course, and he sinks stuff (skitters, zooms, hisses, skids, lily pads, tadpoles, bullfrogs) into its holes.