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In October, I asked IO readers to dictate what I would listen to over the next few weeks in my Community iPod experiment. The response was more than I anticipated, to say the least, and my experiment stretched from a few weeks into a much longer length of time. I fielded hundreds of recommendations, not all of them metal most of them good, and some of them truly excellent.

I’ve decided to respond to every recommendation, but rather than field them all in one massive post, I am breaking my responses into manageable sections. These 20 recommendations came in just the first hour after that initial post went up. My responses are meant more as personal reactions than studied criticism. More responses will be forthcoming.

— Joseph Schafer

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Zaum - Oracles
-Recommended by beer_and_nascar
First things first: holy crap you guys like weird drone-doom metal. It’s a style I enjoyed more when I was younger and spent long amounts of time studying, but doing this has increased my intake, because most of this stuff is relatively worksafe. Zaum definitely is. The whole middle eastern lost-in-the-desert theme seems a bit too on-point (and a bit too reminiscent of Sleep’s Dopesmoker) but the Sitar timbres completely replicating the guitar makes for a somewhat different, more authentic-seeming experience. It works best on the hazy dirge of “The Red Sea,” which I dig.

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Earth - Primitive and Deadly
-Recommended by beer_and_nascar
Here we go. Dylan Carson has long been a wildcard in my personal favorite guitarist list, even though full Earth albums tend to kind-of get lost in the shuffle for me. Oddly enough, even though he traffics in 10-plus-minute avant-doom epics, Carlson is a singles songwriter, and that songwriting peaked for me on 2005’s Hex album, partially because of its country influences. I love that they’re still present here, especially on “From the Zodiacal Light.” This is definitely better than his previous two Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light albums. Like Sunn 0)), I think a lot of these drone-y doom bands pull out their best stuff in conjunction with a great singer, and Mark Lanegan (whose work i already dig) and Rabia Qazi do add some meat to the bones here. I dig “From the Zodiacal Light”

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Kate Bush - The Hounds of Love
-Recommended by Chris Dalton
The first of several not-metal suggestions in this series and sadly probably the best one. Chris Dalton, besides being a regular commenter here, Chris has become a social media acquaintance of mine, one who has pestered me to give Ms. Bush a real shot since the excellent BBC documentary about her life came out earlier this year. I’d been giving her a few listens before this thread. The Hounds of Love is the record in her discography that’s sticking with me. Neatly divided into two sides like many classic records, the record trades in two distinct flavors. Side A packs nonstop excellent pop singles including “Running Up That Hill” and “Cloudbusting,” both of which I adore. Side B, on the other hand, is darker (especially “Waking the Witch”), and more experimental, with songs that blend together. In listening to this record I’m realizing that many modern pop groups I enjoy, like Bjork and The Knife, take a lot of influence from Bush and from this album in particular. Much of my iPod has been taken up by artists trying to reconcile the two halves of this whole. You win, Chris, this is the shit. I dig all of it.

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Sangus - Saevita
-Recommended by hadean
Black metal and hardcore fusions continue to be all the rage, but I’m glad Sangus are doing it. This is some truly blistering work, a nonstop barrage from beginning to end. The EP format is perfect for a band like this—I don’t want to jam on something this consistently intense for 45 minutes straight. Great artwork as well; Clearly this band understands its target audience by conjuring hints of Tarzan there. I read a few interesting elements buried in the riffs as well, hints of Weapon-style melodies for example. My only complaint is the stupid five minute feedback outro. It doesn’t add anything to the experience and feels lazy, to me. Still, the actual songs hwere are rpetty intense. I dig “Live to Kill.”

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Arnaut Pvale - Arnaut Pvale
-Recommended by wilson
I know there’s an audience for this kind of hissy, super low-fi punked out black metal, but I’m not a part of it. To me, the stylistic choices seem to put layers of distraction between me, the listener, and the songwriting. It’s like the musicians are embarrassed to be playing, so they conceal the content underneath style choices that aren’t really in conversation with anything else. I understand that people find a lot of joy in this sort of thing, but I’m getting a sense of aesthetics over music, here. I don’t dig it.

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Potmos Hetoimos - Agatha, Evelyn, Marybel
-Recommended by Matt
I really wanted to dive into this the instant I saw Matt’s post. Funeral doom has historically not been by cup of tea. I’m more of a stoner doom fan, most of the time. And the bands that have struck my fancy, like Ahab, are not funeral doom proper, at least according to some people I’ve spoken with. I like Skepticism’s Stormcrowfleet album, but like all funeral doom it tends to bleed into background noise a lot of the time for me. Potmos Hetoimos aren’t quite funeral doom proper, either, at least not on the Evelyn and Marybel albums. Maybe that’s why I like them better. Evelyn really finds its Black Sabbath riffery here and there, but still feels oppressive and grim. Likewise Marybel’s interesting additional instrumentation fills the spaces between those titanic drum hits in very nicely. I listened to them the day after I saw King Crimson, and felt a lot of influence crossover to Potmos Hetoimos. I can’t believe this band isn’t signed. I’m digging this way more than what bigger sites call the cutting edge of funeral doom. I dig “Visitation” and “Liberator” best. Also: so I’m guessing the story is that Agatha has dementia and kills her husband when he comes home? I’m actually guessing all three characters have dementia of some sort. Just a guess. I want my bonus points.

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The Burial Process
-Recommended by Waffle
I assume I got the right band—grind/death out of New Jersey, with a member named “Janitor.” They broke up in 2010, and only have one album, released in 2007, which I cannot find. As it stands, their only available sample on the internet is one song on a reverbnation page called “Burial Plot,” which strikes me as 100% generic deathgrind. Oh well. Not digging it.

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Dark Buddha Rising - Dakhmandal
-Recommended by Waffle
As if the name wasn’t a dead giveaway, this is more drone/doom—from Finland, no less! I have a mixed relationship with Svart records. Sometimes they put out amazing stuff, sometimes it’s forgettable. Dark Buddha Rising sound like they put a lot of care into their shanti shanti meanderings. Over the course of their runs, songs like “M” actually do transition through several movements. An hour and 20 is ambitious for any band, even one this long in the tooth. Still, the best tracks are on the back half. I dig “”M” and”N.”

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Connoisseur - Stoner Justice
-Recommended by Waffle
I’m afraid the name is the most original and interesting thing about this band. Super low-fi grindcore is not my jam, and neither is a fixation on marijuanna. No judgment on the substance on my end—hell, I live where it’s recreationally legal. However, I hate drug gimmicks. I hate it in Cannabis Corpse and I hate it here. The songs, sadly don’t stand out to me either. If there was ever a grindcore band that would wind up on an episode of Broad City this is it, but that alone does not a good release make. Sorry, I don’t dig it.

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Before the Black Gates - An Ancient Evil Rises
-Recommended by Danny Gagallant
This hits the spot. My black metal comfort zone stems from the intersection of Emperor and Immortal, and it sounds like the lads in Before the Black Gates feel the same way. I’m ready for some of the pomp and drama to come back into black metal songwriting, and this is a great example of that. Good choices here include maintaining the symphonic elements but keeping them subtle. The leads are a bit trebly, but also tasteful and invigorating as well. I also love how the low vocals are buried in the mix, so their pairing with the shrieks is pretty subtle. Honestly the band that seems most akin to this is Rimfrost, which is a definite plus. I can listen to this record from front to back and never want to change it, but sometimes the songs run together. Maybe a little tightening up of runtimes might fix that problem. Either way, i dig the most dynamic song here, “Blood Oak.”

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Myopic/Torrid Husk - Crawling Mountain Apogee
-Recommended by marious
These two bands are both playing some gear-worshipping atmospheric sludge, albeit with some black metal influences. Still, for Myopic especially, the riffing never becomes anything other than shimmering and pretty. this record probably would have seemed groundbreaking and cutting edge six years or so ago, but since then there’s been such a glut of bands playing this sort of thing that I’m sensing some push back from listeners. Kind of a shame, since both of these groups are really adept at this style. I dig “And ballasted the Elk.”

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Herder - Gods
-Recommended by marious
Props to Herder for being the first band I’ve heard to sample Rust Cohle’s “walk hand in hand into extinction” speech from True Detective. I expected someone to use it in a grindcore project, but Herder play stoner doom with a really nasty guitar tone, and I like it. the leads do a great job piercing through the muck. I expected to hear a more melodic, bluesy vocalist, but Ché Snelting employs a nasty hardcore rasp, which lends the whole project a sense of gravitas. Gods launches forward and never really lets up. I honestly dig every track on this record, but especially “FOADII.”

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Front Line Assembly - Airmech and Echogenetic
-Recommended by Julian silva
Ah, Front Line Assembly, I hardly knew ye. There was a time in my life when industrial, particularly KMFDM, was a big part of my audio diet, but now not so much. It’s interesting to hear what this group has been doing since then, but I can’t particularly say I dig it. Airmech is the soundtrack to a video game, and the problem with most video game soundtracks is that the music isn’t meant to really pull the player out of their head space; it’s unassuming by design. Echogenetic is a bit punchier, but still, not really my cup of tea.

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Appolonia - Crimson Shades
-Recommended by Julian silva
You know, Julian, after the last recommendation I thought you and I were just coming from different places, but this recommendation is right on the money. Appolonia’s aesthetic is unapologetically modern and shiny, but there’s some heavy riffing and songwriting chops here. The record gave me flashbacks to both Paradise Lost and Gojira, which is an unexpected combination. Equally unexpected, whichever member that sings the choruses (all three sing) can pull off the impassioned, pleading vocals really well. He sells me on the sentiment. I will follow this band in the future. Not my usual fare, but I dig “Porcelain Whales” the best.

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Cara Neir - Portals to a Better, Dead World
-Recommended by Pete
Oh yes, I know Cara Neir. They built up a little hype train with this record as I recall, and for a minute I thought they would be Deafheaven’s successors in emo-meets-black-metal-duo prominence. Maybe they will still—their approach is definitely more dynamic, and they play with several genres here and do all of it well. Still, this record felt a bit rough to me. The songs kind of lose direction at times. Honestly I far preferred their Overwatch EP, which it seemed like a lot of people slept on, even though their hooks were sharper and the genre blending seemed more deliberate there. Also, three cheers for Half Life 2 references.

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Yautja - Songs of Descent
-Recommended by Pete
I’ll be brief here, since I get the impression that most readers are probably familiar with Yautja’s brand of super distorted metallic hardcore. I like music of this sort as a rule, and Yautja is no exception, but Songs of Dissent struck me as incohesive when it came out. However, these guys are obviously promising, and I look forward to hearing their stuff in the future. Also, having seen them live, I feel that not enough people give credit to Tyler Coburn, who drums with one kick pedal.

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Krieg - Transient
-Recommended by Pete
Again, Enough people are familiar with Krieg that I’m not sure what I could add to the conversation in this format. I think the consensus is that Transient is Neill Jameson’s best work in years, and I’m inclined to agree, even though my Krieg album will probably always be Blue Miasma. I give Jameson props for successfully integrating more crust into his formula without losing his essential Kreig-ness. As proof, enough people failed to notice that the “Winter” on this album is an Amebix cover that Jameson clarified the matter on his always-hilarious Facebook feed. I dig “Return Fire.”

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Obsequiae - Suspended in the Brume of Eos
-Recommended by vugelnox
This, like Potmos Hetoimos, is the most pleasant sort of surprise. Not that surprise is warranted; this came out on Bindrune, and that label punched above its weight with great ferocity in 2014. Obsequiae play folk-inflected black metal, but in a way that’s completely unlike more high profile artists on the label like Panopticon. Old school guitar riffs pinned with a warm just-rough-enough guitar tone and some open-throated shrieking give way to stately English folk-style guitar. Here’s a sentence I never expected to type at Invisible Oranges: I bet someone in the band enjoys Strawbs. I’m legitimately upset that I slept on this last year. I dig “The Wounded Fox,” especially the harmonized leads that come in near the end.

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House of Atreus - Into the Brazen Bull
-Recommended by vugelnox
Ian gave this record some love in one of his release posts. I also saw a little write-up on this record on a few other websites. I wouldn’t be surprised if this group’s first full-length, if one appears, will garner some wider attention. And deservedly so. House of Atreus play some bold, gallop-friendly death metal with a really engaging lead tone and a nicely gruff vocal element. Their sense of groove and melody is intense, even if it all sounds a bit too pointedly imitating Arghoslent. I dig “Seed of Discord.”

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Manifesting - Dissention Through the Seven Forbidden Seals
-Recommended by vugelnox
I thought vugelnox and I would go 3 for 3, but Manifesting doesn’t quite do it for me. This style of abyssal black metal, with a lot of slow, bassy chugged chords conjures a great oppressive atmosphere, but I’m not sure that Manifesting know where to take it from there. This is a serviceable stab at this style, but it just doesn’t strike me as particularly ambitious or unique. “Disciple of Murmurs” is the best cut here.

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