Only Dead Birds Sing Over the Graves of Fallen Kings

Occasionally here at teethofthedivine I get my hands on a release that simply leaves me speechless. Not because it’s brilliant or the best thing Ive ever heard, but because it simply defies logical categorization. Whereas most metal fits neatly into some compartmentalized category or genre or at whether it be made up or predefined, it’s usually is identifiable or relates to something I and we can identify with. Albatwitch is one of those rare bands that simply won’t fit into anything.

Possibly hailing from Northeast America (an Albatwitch is a creature of Pennsylvania myth/legend) the duo, Albatwitch is described on their facebook page is ‘blackened swamp crust noise drone folk’, and funnily enough that’ is somewhat of a fitting description. Imagine if you will the Americana/folk elements of Panopticon’s Kentucky colliding in a meth lab where Drug Honkey, Thou, Sunn O))) and Skin Chamber are playing a intimate show to a crowd of broken TV sets and faulty air conditioning unit . Yeah – it’s weird, really weird, but also addictively unique and different. I would even hazard a guess that this is the kind of release I’m not that comfortable trying to describe to you in words, but you actively have to hear to try and get an understanding of Albatwitch’s harsh but distinct mix of utterly different styles.

The album is 17 tracks with many of them being short droning/industrial interludes of white noise,  buzzing and feedback  broken up by some sort of folk shanty or a blackened drone doom number or all of the above. For example opener “Die Gendanken Sind Frie”, is a traditional German folk song about the freedom of thought from the 1800s and is followed by “Break Apart” a grating, sudden explosion of sheer noise and feedback, and then third track, “Beneath the Flood” is a pulsing 3 minute black/doom track replete with growling/screamed vocals and dense guitars that segues into “Floodwaters” a somber  instrumental/acoustic  folk interlude. Phew- and that’s just 4 tracks in.

However, the balance between icky black/drone, virtually unlistenable, sheer noise and haunting swampy folk music somehow comes together in a nightmarish soundscape that seems to have an underlying/connecting theme and tone. The title track is a haunting, sung folk song that is stark contrast to the literal noise of “Dead Kings”. Then “A.M.P.I.C” delivers a six minute throbbing industrialized  doom/drone track showing the band can write actual riffs and songs, no matter how distorted and repetitive.  three other longer more traditional’ tracks deliver  more this more guitar based blackened doom/drone in “Goat”, “The Hanged Man” and “Frac-Ture”, and the rest are a mix of cool little banjo/traditional/ acoustic folk numbers  (i.e. “Nomads”, “Liars Noose”, “Black Waters Rise”) and programmed, caustic noise (“Ascending Fire”) and mixes of them all. For example there is even a seven minute number that delivers  the powerful writings of anarchist and feminist writer Voltairine de Cleyre  spoken over programmed noise (“The Gods and the Apes”) and a tracks that mix banjos, traditional folk  and caustic black /drone doom riffs (“Rise!”, “Hammer and Nail”).

Only Dead Birds Sing Over the Graves of Fallen Kings is one of the weirdest but but unique releases I’ve ever heard, and if you are up to the challenge head over to the band’s bandcamp page and check this truly unclassifiable band out.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
October 14th, 2013


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