Postcards From Natalie Zed: Set #7

Hellbound readers, we’re sure that by now you are all familiar with our Natalie Zed, right? Natalie was our big grand prize winner way back in January, taking home more than 50 CDs + and shortly after she received her huge box ‘o CDs, Ms. Zed asked us over at Hellbound HQ if we’d be interested in running reviews of her winnings if she did postcard sized reviews of the albums. How could we say no?

She’s reviewed all the original CDs and is now reviewing newer things that have made their way to her. Here is part seven of her ongoing series of what we like to call “Postcards With Natalie Zed”…

We, The Undersigned – Bleed the Constants (Diminished Fifth Records, 2009)
Wait, I have seen this before. This album feels like an afterimage burnt into my retina, the shape of something I know infinitely well and yet in this incarnation is impossible to focus on. They’re going for photopsias, fireworks, and all I am getting is eye strain.

Narrows – New Distances (Deathwish Inc. 2009)
Here is one of the rare occasions where the cover art for an album beautifully articulates and enhances the musical content. The pairing of anatomical illustration and landscape photography is an excellent allegory for the way this album encapsulates the internal intimacy of the body’s landscape and the lonely vastness of the terrain’s body.

Cephalic Carnage – Misled by Certainty (Relapse 2010)
The precision here just slays me. There are moments of incredible subtlety in each song, some moments that are even delicate, and this unfailingly goads me into listening as closely as I can. Then, when I am at my most still and vulnerable, the album rears up and leaves me ripped open. This album is awful. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Aetherius Obscuritas — Fekete orvossag /Black Medicine (Paragon records 2009)
This album is black metal in the way pure, clear night sky is black: strewn through with stars, points of light. Amid the relentless, alienating blast, there are specks of folky epicness, a flourishing bass line, a bright pattern of cleanly sung notes to break up the unrelenting growls. Lovely and fascinating.

The Wounded Kings – The Shadow Over Atlantis (I Hate Records, 2010)
This album title is apt. The slow, liquid, lugubrious unfolding of each song reminds me of nothing so much as a tentacles of some unfathomable sea creature blindly seeking something to envelop. The chords are huge and crushing as a leviathan. The Shadow Over Atlantis wraps itself around the listener’s mind with an eerie strength. The sound is muscular, and the songs have suckers instead of hooks. Surprisingly pleasant to drown in.

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.