Records of the Week With Jon and Ted Week #16
Each Friday, Editors Ted Nubel and Jon Rosenthal will share their picks for Records of the Week — not necessarily what's out this week, just whatever's on our mind or on our record players.
Blue Öyster Cult
Blue Öyster Cult
This album turned 49 back in January—it's simultaneously hard to believe that it's that old and yet that it's actually a year 'younger' than Black Sabbath's self-titled debut. Both bands pioneered strains of heavy music that would go on to influence countless newer acts, but the differences in tone and production are immense, and this particular self-titled has always felt very anchored in the past. That might be because the sound pioneered on it largely stayed here—even on their very next album Tyranny and Mutation, they'd begun to move in new directions. That's actually a constant for the band, and why discography runs are rather entertaining:Blue Öyster Cult is and always has been a rock band (though they've ventured into heavy metal territory fairly often), but they've never been set in how exactly they rock.
Blue Öyster Cult isn't the record of theirs I hit the most: truthfully, there's a dated feeling to the production, and the manic pacing and bizarre construction takes some accommodation and the right mood. Still, once you've given this a few listens and gone through the band's later albums, the inner mechanics begin to reveal themselves. Even almost 50 years later, their newest album The Symbol Remains is coming from the same brilliantly twisted place (give or take a few lineup changes) as this record, and I feel like it's got the same sort of consistent inconsistency. Swinging from groovy riff worship on "Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll" to near-ballads like "Redeemed" and "Then Came the Last Days of May," with the demented rock n' roll of "Transmaniacon MC" and "I'm on the Lamb but I Ain't No Sheep" as the 'norm' here, it's a weird record that ostensibly sounds almost nothing like their biggest singles (of which "Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll" is one, but it's also the outlier here). All this goes to say that trying to pin Blue Öyster Cult down to a "sound" is sort of a lost cause—they're a state of being. Back to my full-discography run.
Ved Buens Ende...
Written in Waters
I will sing this album's praises from the highest mountain top. Ved Buens Ende(...)'s debut and sole album (to date) is a complete deconstruction of the black metal in and with which this trio both participated and surrounded themselves. The magical, progressive sounds found within Written in Waters' hallowed halls speak of "dissonance" long before the modern school found its way into the spotlight, and "emotion" before black metal decided to move away from hatred and scorn. This album's inconsolable character -- a near emotionless despondency -- and uniquely haunting melodic sense which weaves its way through the discord was an early example of the avant-garde school which would replace the "second wave" in Norway, where Ved Buens Ende would be joined by the likes of Mayhem on Wolf's Lair Abyss and Grand Declaration of War, Fleurety (whose Min tid skal komme was also released in 1995), DHG, and more. The trio of Carl-Michael "Czral" Eide, Hugh "Skoll" Mingay, and Yusaf "Vicotnik" Parvez, each important to black metal in their own unique ways, were a powerhouse as Ved Buens Ende, and the prospect of new music, or so Czral told me in an interview with Decibel, is far too exciting.