So, here we are at the end of March, and despite a fine start to this month, you still get the overwhelming feeling that 2012 hasn't really kicked into gear yet. That in itself is disappointing, but April and May promise much with some of the most hotly anticipated releases of the year, and it's tasters from those - as well of a pair of records already unveiled - which have dominated my listening over the past few days.
HIGH ON FIRE - De Vermis Mysteriis
This Californian trio have been among the leading lights in the sludge scene for quite a few years now, but this sixth LP could be their finest moment yet. Kurt Ballou's distinctive sharp production techniques add an extra edge to Matt Pike's thick barrage of riffs, while the bands songwriting is among their hardest-hitting to date. Stream it here!
A model of consistency, Brighton duo Laura Mary Carter and Simon Ansell continue to develop their sound all the while remaining steady in terms of quality. 'Cold' is particularly great and probably represents their finest song to date, and although not every song excels the record as a whole is more or less on par with their other two. Stream it here!
I had fairly limited expectations for Valtari (which drops on May 28th), but after listening to this taster track it instantly became one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Ambient, simmering and utterly majestic, my doubts were foolish in the extreme. Stream it here!
Those expecting more of the same from Neck Of The Woods may have to reaffirm their stance after hearing this single, which continues the shoegaze aesthetic of Swoon whilst introducing fresh electronic elements. It's particularly immediate, but will likely make far more sense when presented within the context of the new record. Stream it here!