A continuing look at the non-metal albums that are heavily loved…
Emma Ruth Rundle – Marked For Death
Much like recent releases from the likes of Troller and Darkher, I had a hard time deciding if this album should land on the metal or non-metal version of this monthly round-up. There are certainly moments on here that are dark and/or heavy enough. Rundle plays her brand of electrified neo-folk with a certain depressive element that belies any notion that she wouldn’t belong in the average metalhead’s record collection. Yet in the end her newest solo effort winds up here because despite thunderous outbursts on songs like “Protection” Rundle is often at her best when she’s gloriously sailing through a post-rock dystopia waving the black flag of emotive, ethereal music that comes solely from a place of personal catharsis. If Mazzy Star’s newest album was made with a bleaker outlook and a heavier mindset you may get close to how good this record is.
Soft Kill – Choke
Portland, Oregon’s Soft Kill return with their newest album, Choke. Anyone who knows this band should know how claustrophobic their last release was. While they have decided to pump the brakes a bit on the passages where they are seemingly trying to burying you alive in synth-laden misery, it’s clear that their new depth and breadth of songwriting is still steeped in various shades of black. Their somewhat Gothic-tinged brand of post-rock/punk on this album is downright dance-inducing at certain points, yet never breaks from the prevailing idea that there is still some element of danger just lurking off on the threshold. This is an album that’s as dreary as it is catchy and serves as the perfect artistic expression for a band that’s feeling the need to spread their wings and fly outside themselves.
Zach Schmidt – The Day We Lost The War
Another in a long line of artists trying like hell to prove you don’t need to sell your soul to create authentic country music, Zach Schmidt writes music filled with sawdust floors, dusty back roads and enough twang to fill the bed of a pick-up truck. While Schmidt can write a shit-kicker with the best of them it’s the more folk rock-based tunes like “Company Man” that really hit home and highlight his ability to spin a compelling yarn. Take a little Neil Young, add a dash of Son Volt, and toss in plenty of classic Waylon Jennings for good measure and you get close to the pantheon of Americana royalty that Schmidt successfully draws from. It’s a rollicking record that does well by the musical history that came before it.