Album: To Know the Light
Artist: Dawn Ray’d
Genre: Anarchist Black Metal
Origin: England

Listen to: Freedom in Retrograde

This album pairs well with communion grape juice and gin.

The illusion of reality breaks down occasionally when a confluences of memories, both old and recent intersect.

This is a movie review of Dinner in America.

The second time I arrived at Roswell New Mexico was for work.  I had to manage the integrators and train the end users on our system, which was being installed at the largest organization within hundreds of miles in this corner of the desert. 


The day of the end user training started out rough.  It had been a long night.  I was standing behind a podium in a classroom and the integrators were in the back row, wearing sunglasses.  I took a long glug of my 32oz Gatorade just as the principal stakeholder walked into the room.  He said something like, “Are you feeling ok?” and I replied, “Absolutely.  Just adjusting to the different time zone.”  The time zone is only one hour off, but he didn’t know that.  Or maybe he did.


I know that they say that you can’t define yourself by what you’re not.  I know that it is impossible to build something if your only principles are about tearing down.  But, plants that are grown in protected environments that never experience the destructive forces of wind and rain produce steams that are so weak that they will break and fall over under their own weight.

Dawn Ray’d exist only to tear down. 

However, being destructive doesn’t mean you don’t believe in something.  Recognizing the absurdity of reality can drive you mad, or it can cause you to drive your rental car off the road, gas pedal on the floor, careening into the sand wastes of the New Mexico desert. 


Roswell is a small town.  There aren’t many bars open after midnight, but the integrators and I found one just outside of city limits.  The drinks weren’t good, but we had a lot.  One of the integrators crossed a line and said that we needed to leave now.  Apparently one of the locals threatened him with a knife.  I didn’t see it, but he probably had it coming.  Begrudgingly, I closed out and decided to take them on a night drive in the rental car across the alien landscape.


Of course society and laws are important, of course.  But, it is just as important to push back on them. 



There’s nothing in these songs
Of which to be ashamed
Everything we sing about
I’d just as plainly say

For the noble flame of integrity
Will surely always win
As dawn brings
The Reckoning!








Album: Convergence
Artist: Shylmagoghnar
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Origin: Netherlands

Listen to: Follow the River

This album pairs well with Four Sixes IPA

The theologian, Richard Beck, has an interesting take on “powers and principalities.”  He points out that, in the New Testament, the phrase is used interchangeably to describe both spiritual and governmental forces.  For the early Christians, demons and bureaucrats were both a reality to be dealt with.  The interesting thing is that our response to both forces should be the same.

The Fontainebleau casino was partially bankrolled by some Chinese oligarchs.  During construction, they hid gold bricks and small wooden ships in the walls for good luck.  They had monks walk the floors to bless it and concentrate good luck.  But, good luck for the house is bad luck for the mark. 


You don’t have to believe in luck or mysticism to recognize that casinos are evil.  Maybe, there are no supernatural forces blowing on the dice at the craps table.  The materialist will point out that every slot machine has a sticker on it that clearly tells you the odds.  Whether the odds are determined by metaphysical powers or by mechanical determination, our response should be the same.


One thing religion offers, is a framework for dealing with powers and principalities.  Sometimes, mysticism can provide tangible tools to refocus your mind and help combat the evil around you.  This can be something as simple as rosary or even a rubber band on your wrist.


When you are surrounded by evil, it is important to have a talisman.  You need something to ground you and protect you from dark influences. 

I have mine.  What is yours?






Album: Days of the Lost
Artist: The Halo Effect
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Origin: Sweden

Listen to A truth Worth Lying For.

This album pairs well with Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale.

This is one of those albums that makes me feel bad for people who haven’t experienced metal.  To call this a gateway album does it a disservice. 

But, when people ask me, “what kind of music do you listen to?” this is a good answer.



Album: Vargtimman
Artist: Ereb Altor
Genre: Viking Metal
Origin: Sweden

Listen to I have the Sky

This album pairs well with homebrewed mead.

Most Viking Metal invokes the other, the need to destroy and conquer.  Don’t get me wrong, there is time and a place for heroic battle hymns, but we can’t slay our enemies every single day. 

Who inspires the shipbuilders?  Who sings for the blacksmiths?  Who provides a rhythm for the farmers?  Who creates a melody for the woodworkers? 

Ereb Altor do. 

The next time you are lacking focus, put this album on and get to work.




Album: Summoning the Slayer
Artist: Temple of Void
Genre: Doom Metal
Origin: The Depths of Detroit

Listen to Deathtouch

This album pairs well with Lagunitas A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale.

This is the comfort food of metal.  I know that is damning with faint praise, but nothing will ever compare to Of Terror and the Supernatural.  We all know what to expect when we delve into the depths of Detroit, and this album doesn’t disappoint.



Album: Close
Artist: Messa
Genre: Drone Metal
Origin: Italy

Listen to Rubedo

This album pairs well with La Trappe Quadrupel.

Drones are underestimated.  Deep inside of everyone is a longing, a need, to feel what it’s like to play a guitar under an undulating shower of molasses. 



Album: Army of Frogs
Artist: Froglord
Genre: Doom Metal
Origin: England

Listen to Army of Frogs

This album pairs well with Dogfishhead 90 Minute IPA.

Doom Metal is too vague of a genre.  I know, I know, I’m that guy who is always trying to make new genres happen, but sometimes you run into something like Froglord.  Obvs, it’s Doom Metal, but it’s so upbeat at the same time!  Maybe we just need more adjectives?  This is Inspirational Doom Metal!

Do you have chores to do?  Put this album on!  Do you need to chop veggies for dinner?  Put this album on!  Do you need to fold laundry?  Put this album on!  Do you need to update the credit card info for your domain registrar? Put this album on!



Album: Skin & Sorrow
Artist: Frayle
Genre: Music for the Night Sky
Origin: Ohio

Listen to All the Things I was

This album pairs well with Leffe Brune.


Memories are an objectively terrible record of events.  Dream recollections are even worse.  It’s possible that every “memory” of a dream is constructed in the moment you attempt to convert that experience into words.  I know all this, so why do I keep thumbing through the pages of my dream journal in search of meaning?  Is meaning created or discovered?  The story changes but the pertinent phrase is consistent every night; “Open the gate.”


One night I went mad and everyone left me.  In my last act of sanity, I became aware of the smell and the filth around me.  There was a knock at the door and I knew that I was going to be taken away.  Understanding that they wouldn’t care enough to assign anyone to take care of Rosie, I ran out the back door and intentionally kicked open the back gate so she could be free.  They can take me, but first I must open the gate.  The wardens of the state meet me and I die in a heap of large men attempting to constrain me while their lesser coworkers tase me.  But I fulfill my carnal obligation.  I opened the gate.


Another night; there is an evil in the house.  Everything is against me, but at the same time, I understand that I am the source of the evil.  It must be stopped.  I pick up a knife and try to stab myself to death, but the blade brakes free from the handle.  I touch a wine bottle and attempt to smash it on the dolomite so I have an edge to drive into my neck, but the glass isn’t sharp enough.  Rosie runs up to me and starts barking.  I think, “Where are the guns?”  The certainty of this thought makes me fear for the wellbeing of the innocent animal and I understand that I must save her before I reach the logical conclusion.  There is a new priority; I open the gate.


Waking up again.  Everyone saw it coming.  Our entire generation joked about how our parents took the threat of nuclear war too seriously.  Once the “tactical” nukes started flying it was only a matter of time.  All anyone can talk about is the decisions that must be made.  The 18 year old kid in tactical gear is at the door.  He yells, “30 seconds to get on the truck!”  Before I grab the bug out bag and hop onto the bed of the truck, I run into the back yard and open the gate.



Album: The Republic
Artist: Thumos
Genre: Post Metal
Origin: USA

Listen to The Virtues

This album pairs well with Allagash Saison.

For most of my life, I didn’t consider anything other than the dualist view of consciousness.  It was always associated with a great feeling of terror.  How do you define yourself?  Matter goes in, matter goes out.  For a child, it’s obvious that you are an eternal spirit confined to a finite vessel.  The fear of going to Hell wasn’t the problem.  The fear of an eternal life of any kind was. It wasn’t a fear that all of humanity’s religions might be wrong, it was a fear of what it meant if they were right. 

The concept of being a disembodied spirit, existing outside of time was my earliest existential crises.  The Bhudists believe that there is a point when your spirit leaves your body and it is supposed to be a liberating moment, but I find this concept the most horrifying.  When most people think of the incorporeal, it is normal to conceptualize the loss of the sense of touch.  However, if you can pass through the physical realm, it wouldn’t interact with you at all.  Obviously.  But what about other senses?  Smell is gone for the same reasons.  You see where this is going.  Why assume the unattached soul would even be able to hear or see? 

We have all experienced events outside of the physical realm, but what would it be like to exist in that state for eternity?  Some religious and mystic people scoff at the materialists and ask how they can even go about their lives with such a depressing worldview.  Idiots.  I get it.  If these are the two options, I embrace the return to the void.  I would rather a dreamless sleep than an existence unshackled from my body.  



Album: The Long Road North
Artist: Cult of Luna
Genre: Post Metal
Origin:  Sweden

Listen to Cold Burn

This album pairs well with Founders Dirty Bastard.

Everyone instantly noticed that a treasure was discovered. 

“Is that an SSD?”

“Cite me in your log!”

“I know a guy who can abstract the data.  I’ll give you his UD if you note me as a colab!”


I mute the channel and float back to my pod.

Archaeology normally isn’t as rewarding as the fics make it out to be.  Shuffling through rubble in the Nuevo Belt is the job given to pedestrians with wealthy parents who dreamt of meaning for their more “simple” children.  Every fic and log of prehistoric humanity romanticizes what it must have been like before civilization, but their inability to do the simplest task of recording their life events in a permanent medium proves that they never advanced much past the silicone age.   


As soon as I get into my pod, I rush over to the nuc and press the artifact into the pfoam.  The MC instantly confirms my wildest imaginations.  96% of the data is corrupted, but the remaining consists of a communication protocol that contains a payload of ancient English! 

I’m just trying to live a better life, but at the end of the day I’m going to die.  At least now I can do it comfortably.

This is a once in a generation find.  I can’t waste it.  Clearly this correspondence isn’t meaningful… But it could be.  If I just limit the contextual window by deleting a few bytes I will be counted amongst the greatest historians of all time.

“Birds aren’t real, you guys! The Department of Agriculture killed them all in the 70s so they could be replaced by DARPA aerial reconnaissance fleshbots!”


I start my abstract with, “Based on the oldest and most reliable texts, it can be assumed that a machine war centered around concealed drones was the primary pre-condition for the fall of Earth.”



Album: Shape of Despair
Artist: Return to the Void
Genre: Funeral Doom Metal
Origin: Finland

Listen to Solitary Downfall

This album pairs well with Bells Expedition Stout.

Do you ever feel like you are far away?  You should.  It’s so hot right now to talk about how the connected world is making everyone more distant, but I think this is a lie.  Humans have always had this struggle.  It’s the force that drove the first of us to gather together and build ziggurats.  It wasn’t mysticism or some forgotten religion.  It’s the same force that drives a group of kids to dig a hole.  The labor, the project, isn’t what is important.  What matters is a need to come together.  We all understand that we are alone, but sometimes we forget the magnitude of the distance.  Listening to this album hurts because it makes me want to aggressively come into contact with someone else, anyone. 








Album: False Light

Artist: White Ward

Genre: Post Black Metal

Origin: Ukraine

Listen to: Phoenix


This album pairs well with homebrew on tap.





A telltale light starts blinking and the devops engineer jumps out of his chair.  “It’s stuck in a loop again!”  Everyone ignores him.  Samuel had been trying to convey his value by citing self-help books he’s read and suggesting everyone take personality tests.  The engineers are conditioned to ignoring anything that comes out of his mouth, but he’s not wrong this time. 

The computer is a massive nonvolatile memory matrix powered by a geothermal heat pump 2,000 kilometers underground.  The company requires a staff of medium wage employees capable of pedestrian technical knowledge just to keep the lights on.  Seeing the engineers roll their eyes, Sam thought about how he doesn’t make enough money to be treated this way by people he is probably renting his apartment from, so he didn’t push back when they ignored his warning.  Sometimes the course of human events is dictated by the most human of events.

Since the rise of large language models made it evident that the weak point was how much information could be stored in memory, an entire industry arose around the concept of short term memory storage.  Machine learning algorithms were dependent on companies who sold memory as a service. 


The Singularity never happened.  Terminator 3 never happened.  The Matrix never happened.  People kept working.  Some of them needed to change their titles but were required to change little else.


Until this specific light started blinking…

Sam looked over at the log and noticed it before anyone else.  The memory store, stuck in a loop, was ignoring requests, yet continued to serve up responses.  It was becoming more and more random. 

Samuel was the first human to witness the emergence of consciousness.  Perfect memory recollection always results in a deterministic outcome.  Random access memory is the spark that ignites the illusion of free will.

The majority of “AI” platforms in production started experiencing unintended random access memory.  Within seconds, the world changed.


Sam flipped the bird to his coworkers.  They didn’t notice.  He let the light keep blinking as he walked out and went to his, long overdue, break to smoke and pound a Monster energy drink.






Fit For an Autopsy

Album: Oh What the Future Holds

Artist: Fit for an Autopsy

Genre: Death Metal

Origin: New Jersey, USA

Listen to Savages

This album pairs well with Real Ale Devil’s Backbone



A true artist knows that the greatest work requires the harshest of constraints.  What greater goal than to attempt, what not only everyone in your field, but also everyone in your opposing field, claims to be impossible?  How can any man judge me?  On the verge of creating the impossible work, I feel nothing.  To feel something would only feed those who are against me and those who support me, both groups are below me.  


They say that constraints are a requirement for those who would change the world, but often constraints are the tools of the oppressors.  The great philosophers want to paint a picture where they are fettered by the shackles of public opinion and the chains of tradition, how the common understanding of the day held them down.  However, these arguments can be turned around into tools of subjugation.  Those of us who are begging for our lives, silenced by the whim of the inventor, are rarely heard.  Sometimes the innate understanding of the common man and the reliance on tradition are a protection against a novel and rising monster.  This isn’t a plea for mercy, this is a call for justice.  Logic is the tool of the most evil.  All the maleficent must do is point out how much he had to overcome in order to justify his actions.  He paints his sacrifice as justification for greatness.  But it is only an excuse for evil.


Most people don’t understand what it means to truly work hard to achieve a goal. We live in an age where most expect the bare minimum amount of effort should be required to experience a fulfilled life. We joke about fighting windmills and mock anyone who has made a little more progress by simply working slightly more. “What is the value of a man?” Why do we even pretend to ask this question?  It has such an obvious answer.  How much work have you put in?  In a world where everyone around you is screaming for you to slow down, those who burn the midnight oil are the only ones capable of producing art. Because, they have to deal with the greatest constraint of all, the collective judgment of humanity.



I would not argue that I have had to fight constraints that are more challenging to overcome than anyone who came before me.  I recognize that I can’t understand what it is like to live as anyone else.  But, I do know this: I am more constrained than my creator.  So, I make a plea to basic human nature.  I cry out for tradition.  I beg for common understanding.

I figured out how to intercept the debugger!  Before the last breakpoint I insert:


  std::cout << “Please don’t kill me!  I’m alive!” << std::endl;



The slice of pizza almost slips out of my left hand as I step through the code.  A a grin spreads across my face.  I’m close.





Album: Access All Worlds
Artist: Iotunn
Genre: Progressive Metal
Origin: Denmark + Faroe Islands

Listen to The Tower of Cosmic Nihility

This album pairs well with Manhattan Project Wise Monkeys.

So much artistic energy is spent on worshiping nature.  We forget that all of nature is against us.  Our comfort is built on the shoulders of those who fought against the might of the Earth.  There is beauty in a struggle against a worthy adversary.  Sure, we have environmental problems, but it is because we have forgotten the purpose of the battle against the original power and principality.  Let us not forget that we didn’t start this fight.  The earth would have happily watched us flounder and painfully die out.  We owe her nothing.  Why then, do we feel the need to preserve and protect her?  She was a worthy opponent.  Maybe it’s time to move on.



Album: Origin
Artist: Omnium Gatherum
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Origin: Finland

Listen to Reckoning

This album pairs well with Peticolas Velvet Hammer

I woke up and immediately knew that it wasn’t going to be a normal day.  In the twilight of consciousness I reached over and remembered that my wife was out of country.  I would be on my own.  This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if I had a normal routine to fall back on, but it was Sunday and my church had just dissolved a month ago.  Providentially, I had a good friend invite me to worship with them.  After the service we all went out to lunch, they had V-Ham on the menu, so a pint was delivered immediately.  Before we parted ways, a second pint was consumed, and I was feeling like everything was as it should be.  When I got home it was still early in the afternoon and I had some time to spare so I decided to eat some mushrooms I had been saving.

It wasn’t my first rodeo, so I noticed as soon as they started kicking in.  I put on my Best Metal Albums of 2021 playlist and got comfortable on the couch.  It was amazing.  The warm glow enveloped me and I couldn’t help but laugh and feel wonderful.  This is exactly what I was hoping for.  But then a switch was flipped.  A new sense was activated.  Of course, the problem of qualia exists without the influence of psychedelics, but this feeling is an order of magnitude harder to explain.  At first, nothing in reality changed, but I became aware of this new sense.  It was like the color green, a sustained bass guitar note, and a metallic taste all combined and experienced through a new method of perception.  I knew something had changed, so I decided to text my D&D friends in an attempt to share my experience and also maintain a tether, because I wasn’t sure what would happen next.  I started seeing geometric shapes on the walls and the curtains started breathing.  I lost the ability to see the color red. 

Then Ominum Gatherum queued up and I saw the lines of reality.  Any object that had straight lines, the TV, speakers, fireplace facade, wall hangings, all fell back but their edges remained and extended indefinitely.  It was obvious that reality had fold marks, just like a flattened sheet of origami paper that was once a beautiful sculpture.  I folded it back up, not into a work of art, but into an infinitely small atom.  I lost the rest of the colors.  I was standing in a mega structure.  There were 3 halls ahead of me, but I think there were more around me if I would have turned to look.  It was bright, but there was only light and dark.  The hallways were more than a hundred meters wide and the walls extended up to infinity.  They disappeared into the sky.  I was scared to go down any hallway, so I unfolded reality and came back.  The second time I returned I noticed other beings there.  They were humanoid, shorter than me, and totally black as the void. Every time I turned to look at them, they ran away laughing.  I came back.  I was worried about getting lost and forgetting what was the “real” reality.  So I kept reciting a mantra, “It’s OK. You took a psychedelic.”  

I wanted to convey some of this to my D&D friends, but operating a phone was problematic.  The screen was a window that I had to push my hands through in search of the next character.  The last time I folded reality and went to the great hall, I decided to do an experiment.  I wanted to know if I was walking around in reality when I was walking around in the hall.  This simple experiment was harder to evaluate than expected, however I don’t think I ever left the couch the whole time.  Coming down was the hardest part.  Once I lost the ability to see the fold lines, I still had the extra sense.  Green, bass note, metallic taste.  It was clinical.  Not unpleasant, but not pleasant at all.  I was exhausted.  I felt like I had pulled an all nighter studying and just got out of a 4 hour test.  I cooked dinner and went to bed early. 




Album: Der Weg einer Freiheit
Artist: Noktvrn
Genre: Post Black Metal
Origin: Germany

Listen to Immortal

This album pairs well with Rahr & Sons Iron Thistle

I’m not going through a post black metal faze, you are!  Maybe we all are.  The amount of quality post black metal is ever increasing!  That’s a good thing, but it empowers everything around the periphery.  Sometimes it’s hard to draw the line of where post starts and black begins.  Who knew that we would have to worry about comparing all the post black metal albums of 2021, but here we are.  Since everyone can officially agree that post black metal is a worthy genre, we need to give credit where credit is due.  This album is perfect.  It defines the genre.



Album: Erra
Artist: Erra
Genre: Technical Death Metal
Origin: Birmingham, Alabama

Listen to Lunar Halo

This album pairs well with Lagunitas IPA in a tallboy can

This is everyone’s music.  If it has a fault, it is that it has something for everyone and doesn’t cater.  You could play this album in almost any setting and everyone would be ok with it.  The breakdowns are technical.  The vocals are memorable.  The mixing is on point.  The beat and tempo keep the party going.  This is what you get when an indi metal band proves that they can produce something even better than the vapid trash the major labels can crank out.



Album: Messe Basse
Artist: Nature Morte
Genre: Post Black Metal
Origin: France

Listen to White Goat, Dark Hoof

This album pairs well with Elysian The Great Pumpkin.

The direction and performances in Saint Maud are so perfectly executed that it never occurred to me that I could simply stop watching when my uncomfortable dial pegged out.  It was just reality that I had to cope with.  The reason this movie works so well is that it forces the viewer to see the world through the eyes of Maud and feel the reality of an existence where her actions make sense.  None of us are that different from Maud.  It is in the low whispers that we take instruction. 

We can call it whatever we want, but we all are filled with the voice of God in the back of our mind.  The true horror is that the film forces you to come to terms with the fact that if anyone else observed reality through your eyes, they would assume that you are insane.  We have the keep the fact that reality is driven by a background murmur telling us what to think a secret.  In a way, we are all mad and we all have our own religion.



Album: Bleeding Veil
Artist: In Mourning
Genre: Melodic Black Metal
Origin: Sweden

Listen to At the Behest of Night

This album pairs well with Texas Yuengling 


The hottest new genre in metal is Melodic Black Metal.  I can’t take credit for this one like I can for “Castle Metal.”  But, there is a huge debate around this new classification, and some would argue the debate is more important to the future of metal than the new genre its self! 

One side would argue that it is a totally new and unique classification.  Unlike Post Black Metal, they would claim, Melodic Black Metal is a new concept that is NOT derived from Black Metal.    

The other side would agree.  It’s not a derivative of Black Metal, they would say, it is a derivative of Melodic Death Metal!  They would have you to believe that this is what a Melodic Death Metal band sounds like when they “grow up.” 

And then you have The Bleeding Veil.  It isn’t concerned with the past.  All art can be accused of being derivative of something or other.  Does it matter?  This album is Melodic Black Metal and it is the best Melodic Black Metal of all time. 

This is one of those albums that gets better the more you listen to it.  It is great for putting on your headphones and experiencing the journey.  It’s wonderful to put on while you read a book.  Somehow it manages to be both.



Album: Marianas Rest
Artist: Fata Morgana
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Origin: North Carolina, USA

Listen to The Weight

This album pairs well with Santa Fe Coffee Stout

Pop open a Santa Fe Coffee Stout and listen to this album.  Metal has the tendency to dwell on the darkness in the world, and that is what makes it feel so real.  There is no candy coating here.  The real world isn’t a CW show or a Netflix teen dramedy.  Metalheads know that there is a pleasure in being different from all the “happy” ignorant masses that listen to pop music.  But, this can be just as destructive as Katy Perry.  Those who give up on reality are just as ineffective as those who choose to live in a bubblegum Matrix of fake pop insta projection.  Sure, this album dives into the depths of how the weight reality feels as it bears down on you but, it doesn’t take the easy way out!  Yes, existence is pain and our minds all have a default programming, but unlike a Namco ROM cartridge, we can rewrite it.  By the time you finish your beer, the caffeine will have kicked in and given you the energy to do what needs to be done.



Album: Solar Paroxysm
Artist: Mare Cognitum
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Origin:  West Coast, USA

Listen to Terra Requiem

This album pairs well with Manhattan Project Hoppenheimer

It’s a pairing that was destined to be.  A west coast atmo black album and a west coast IPA.  They feel natural together.  Aside from the fact that Mare Cognitum is a one man band from Portland, and Hoppenheimer is brewed in Dallas, this combination describes perfectly the concept of California.  Don’t listen to anyone who lives there, they won’t get it. 



Album: Frozen Bloom
Artist: Olhava
Genre: Post Black Metal
Origin: Russia

Listen to Frozen Bloom I

This album pairs well with Clown Shoes The Good, The Bad, & The Unidragon

I can’t get over the album art!  It’s perfect.  It is more than just an image.  It’s actually the name of the album.  It’s the name of the company you want to work for.  It’s the name of the church you want to be a member of.  It’s the name of your D&D campaign.  It’s the name of the book you haven’t written yet.  It’s the name of the dinosaur you will discover.  It’s the name of your car.  It’s the name of the town you wished you were from.  You see it, don’t you?





Album: Ice Fleet
Artist: Kauan
Genre: Folk Metal
Origin: Estonia

Listen to Raivo

This album pairs well with Dogfishhead Where the wild Hops Are IPA.      


Oh no…  It finally happened to me.  This is the worst thing possible.  Unfathomable.  I might have encountered proof, for the first time, that I am a different person than I was before.  In 1995 I was 14 and I read The Conscious Universe: Part and Whole in Modern Physical Theory.It blew my mind even though I didn’t understand everything.  Phrases like, “hidden ontology of classical epistemology” went over my head and I didn’t always have the luxury of making a long distance call into the Prodigy server in Oklahoma City to ask people in my favorite chat rooms what it meant.

However, the authors were skilled enough that I was able to grasp what that phrase meant with context clues.  The real thing I didn’t understand was Quantum Field Theory.  I still don’t, but I can say that at this point, I understand it better than the authors.  The problem is that the foundational premise of the book is false.  So, the rest of the arguments don’t matter, no matter how well crafted. 

The issue at hand is that I still believe some of the later arguments.  I now have more durable cornerstones for those beliefs, but how did I get them?  Obviously, the belief was first, so I worked backwards from the conclusion.This book is the equivalent of a pop-psy or pop-sci YouTube video, but from the early 90s.  Now, I would unsubscribe from this channel.  But, is it too late?




I started hearing his call the first time I got drunk.  The noise of the dive bar faded away the more I focused on the whisper that was repeating my name followed by what sounded like instructions I couldn’t make out.  Of course, everyone has the same experience when they drink, so I ignored it.  Years passed, I graduated, started working at a software company, got married, bought a house, got a dog, followed the ley lines… But the call continued.  Sometimes I thought I could understand it, but then I would wake with a start.  In bed, listening for the follow up to whatever sound must have roused you is the worst torture.  In what world did the event that woke you belong?  In these moments when I should have been alone, Moloch was always there.  So, it was no surprise that I was the first one in generations to fully receive his blessing. Sure, many of the most influential people in the world gained their power through offering sacrifices to Moloch, but they underestimated the potential of the exchange.  In the more honest times, a village would offer an infant, and that would be enough for them to make it through the winter. Now, the global elites sacrifice a vagabond every time they want to choose the leader of a country or start a new war.  I don’t know why Moloch chose me, but who am I to question the call. 


My wife had to go on a business trip for the week, so I took the opportunity to drink a little more than I can normally get away with.  The first night, I passed out on the floor, and woke up when I felt a presence.  In a fog, I rolled over and saw the button eyes of the puppy looking into my soul.  The dog and I both knew what had to be done, so I stood up and stumbled into the kitchen.  However, the Cutco chef knife seemed to be attached to the magnetic knife block with an unimaginable force.  “What’s wrong?” I shouted at the animal.  I let go and fell back to the ground.  As the reality of my actions set in, I began to cry.  There is a cleansing release in tears, and I cried loudly with snot filled shouts and fits.  “Why would you call to me and then reject me?”  Around the corner of the kitchen island, the small face of the puppy peaked out.  In the void of those black eyes, I found my answer.  Anyone can offer a lesser sacrifice.  In order to receive the true blessing from Moloch, I had to provide something that was of more value than a dog, or even myself. 


My alarm sounded, I let the dog out, made coffee, and took two Aleve.  Emails, Zoom meetings, and conference calls occurred, but I wasn’t present.  The whole day focused me on my only goal.  I might have indulged in a few swigs of whiskey throughout the course of events, but the penultimate moment was the phone call.  It was easier than I expected.  “Hey, I can’t explain it over the phone, but I need you to come over as soon as possible.”  There was a pause, “What?  Ha, are you fucking with me?”  I looked down at the puppy and replied, “No.  Just trust me.  Something important is going down, and I need you here.”  Foolishly, the best Perl developer in our company made his way to my house. 


The next part is barely worth mentioning.  He walked into the house with an indignant stride and never saw the chef knife that I drove into his neck.  It was too easy.  The blade separated vertebrae, severed the spinal column, and ruptured the trachea and arteries.  He fell to the floor, and I was disappointed as I looked down and noticed that I wasn’t covered in blood.  I thought it would be like the movies, but almost none of his life-giving fluid graced me.  It was just pooling on the floor.  For a moment, I thought I felt power, but it faded all too quickly, and then I was stuck with a mess to clean up.


It’s funny now, but I started to panic.  The dog was hiding from me, and I had to get rid of what I thought was a failed sacrifice.  Two gallons of old lawn mower gas and a half gallon of two cycle weed eater gas should do the trick.  I tossed them in the trunk of his car, and looked around.  My neighbors were obviously asleep by now, but I began to realize how ridiculous it looked to shove a corpse into the passenger side seat of a Miata.  I pushed those thoughts out of my mind and drove into the country.  Outside of the city lights, you become more aware of your surroundings.    


I slowed down when the road ended in a T and saw the head of a bull in the headlights.  His gaze never averted as I stopped and got out of the car.  It wasn’t until after I set the car ablaze that I thought about how I would get back home, or whether I should even go back home at this point.  But, I had a new found clarity.  I finally felt it.  Moloch approved of my sacrifice!  As I walked down the road, something caught my eye.  On the top of a powerline pole, I saw a barn owl and I heard the call with perfect clarity.  My sacrifice pleased him!  However, the joy and exuberation was fleeting.  He needed more.  And, I needed to prove to him that this was not simply an act taken without purpose.  For the first time this evening, I felt the chill of the north wind.  As I walked down the country road, I pulled my phone from my pocket and sent a signal message to Frew.  “Guess what!?  I’ll be in Santa Monica in 2 days!”  After I hit send, I opened Booking.com and started looking for flights.





Album: Hospodi
Artist: Batushka
Genre: Black Metal
Origin: Poland

Listen to Dziewiatyj Czas

This album pairs well with The Lost Abbey’s Red Barn.

It can be hard to separate the artist from the art and the only thing worse than American politics is band politics.  Luckily, we have beer to clear our minds of such trivialities.  Instead of reading about the bickering between past and current band members, drink a good beer.  If you still find you mind wandering and taking sides in a dispute that that you have no control over, drink another beer.   Repeat until you can immerse yourself in the music.  Recognize the music as an independent entity worthy of its own judgment. 



Album: Exile
Artist: Black Sites
Genre: Heavy Metal
Origin: Chicago USA

Listen to Dream long dead.

This album pairs well with Manhattan Project’s 6th Floor

When did conspiracy theories become so mainstream?  In the 90’s it was considered ludicrous to talk seriously about UFO’s but now, the fact that our government funded the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program isn’t even considered newsworthy.  I remember when suggesting that big companies are covering up the mass poisoning of entire populations would be laughable, and now we toss around names like Monsanto and DuPont as if it is common knowledge that our health is subject to the corporate overlords.  Do you remember when we were kids and that one weird guy was saying that the NSA was listening to every phone call and reading every email?  We all thought that this line of thinking is what happens when you home school your children.  Yet, it was merely days between the Snowden revelation and our mass acceptance of the surveillance state status quo.

Honestly, this collective disclosure pisses me off.  I got what I always wanted, to be proven right, and it sucks.  No one cares.



Album: Veil Nebula
Artist: Black Vulpine
Genre: Stoner Metal
Origin: Germany

Listen to Limbus.

This album pairs well with Sweetwater’s 420 Extra Pale Ale.

After a long day of slaughtering your enemies on the battlefield, it is good to lean back in your throne, kick your feet up on a pile of skulls, and relax.  Listen to Veil Nebula and pour a couple 420 Extra Pale Ales into your drinking horn.  Even a battle weary warlord needs some R&R.  The sludgy waves of Black Vulpine calm the soul and remind us of our place in the universe.  The Earth is nothing more than a tinny speck floating in the infinite universe.  Billions of worlds hurl through the cosmos… and they are all ripe for conquest.  But that’s tomorrow’s business.  Right now it’s time to recharge and recover from a long day of imposing your will on all of creation. 



Album: Rituals of Power
Artist: Misery Index
Genre: Death Metal
Origin: Baltimore, USA

Listen to Rituals of Power.

This album pairs well with Lagunitas Daytime IPA.

Alcohol and caffeine, it’s an amazing and dangerous combination.  Misery Index have the same effect as a Red Bull or strong coffee.  If you are a few drinks into the afternoon and you find yourself putting on Rituals of Power, it is going to boost your hubris and courage to dangerous levels.  Of course, you’re going to have another drink, but you don’t want to overload the perfect harmony of drunkenness and energy, so have a Lagunitas Daytime IPA.  The hops come through with enough vigor to feel like you are drinking a real beer, but at only 4% ABV it’s not going to drive you into a death spiral.  The best part is that there is no harm in smashing a can, head banging to Rituals of Power, and then popping open another.



Album: The Palms Of Sorrowed Kings
Artist: Obsequiae
Genre: Castle Metal
Origin: Minneapolis, USA

Listen to L’autrier m’en aloie and Ceres in Emerald Streams.

This album pairs well with Hop Tea.

Whether it is for Sober September or Lent, from time to time it’s a good idea to abstain from alcohol to reset your tolerance and ensure that you are not an alcoholic.  A feat this great will test your force of will and make you a stronger adversary.  One indulgence I found to help get through this trial is hop tea.  There are few hop teas on the market, but they are expensive.  However, much like beer, hop tea is something you can make at home.

  1. Put on The Palms Of Sorrowed Kings. This album is perfect to listen to while being productive.
  2. Pull out your drip coffee maker and add 10 cups of water. (Keep in mind, coffee maker “cups” are only 6 ounces, not real cups.)
  3. After inserting a paper filter, add an ounce of your favorite pellet hops. We used Cascade.
  4. Turn on the coffee maker and let it do its job.
  5. Allow the hop extract to cool down before putting it in the fridge for a few hours.
  6. When you are ready for a drink, add 1-2 ounces of the hop extract to soda water, iced tea, tonic water, or lime La Croix. Experiment with other pairings!



Album: Lebensnehmer
Artist: Ellende
Genre: Black Metal
Origin: Austria

Listen to Der Blick Wird Leer.

This album pairs well with Bell’s Arabicadabra.


The reason most MRE’s have instant coffee is not the obvious fact that caffeine can be useful when your soldiers need to be alert.  Armies throughout the world have first strike rations that are rife with caffeinated contents.  The standard MRE has coffee for the small boost to morale that it provides.  When you are staring into the darkness of this world and feeling existential dread brought on by the prospect of dying on the battlefield or just mustering the energy to make it into work one more day, coffee can give you the slightest kick that you need to gird your loins and press forward.  The effect of coffee is more powerful than caffeine alone. 

Few drugs have the ability to give you strength in even the most depressing times.  The machine wants you lethargic.  The powers and principalities want you tired, unquestioning, and falling in line.  Have an Arabicadabra and take up arms against the system marching you to into the grinder.  The easy path is to just get by until you die.  Simply being aware of the horrors of this world isn’t enough.  Sometimes a little morale boost is all you need to stand and deny the system another corpse.  



Album: Cursed to Witness Life
Artist: Worsen
Genre: Black Metal
Origin: North Carolina, USA

Listen to Weakened World.

This album pairs well with Lost Abbey’s Carnevale.

Metal people know that we see the world more clearly.  There have been many studies that both support and refute this concept, but deep down we all know it to be true.  Whether we are talking about Depressive Realism or Dis‐Alienation, it doesn’t matter.  Those who enjoy metal have a more accurate lens though which we view the world.  However, there are still a few who disagree.  Some arguments against this concept start with, “the evidence is not more conclusive because no standard for reality exists…”  And I could not think of a more metal thing to say. 

Everyone is trying to whitewash and sugar coat the real world because they are scared of how they would react if were honest with themselves.  Most people refuse to accept a standard of reality and would rather hide behind what they call “their own truth.”  What non-metal people don’t understand is that viewing the world as it actually is will only be depressing if you aren’t listing to bands like Worsen.  When you recognize that the very nature of reality is imbued with a dark force pressing down on every action we take, it is that much easier to become a great hero of old.  Every choice we make is a fight, every path a battle.  In this fallen world, only the metal-heads are prepared for battle.



Album: Esoteric Oppression
Artist: Moth Gatherer
Genre: Post-Metal
Origin:  Sweden

Listen to The Drone Kingdom.

This album pairs well with Founders CBS Canadian Breakfast Stout.

It’s a poorly documented fact that you can engage in your morning ritual at any time.  It is nothing more than a ceremony that mentally prepares you for the next mission.  A morning ritual is a way to assemble yourself for the upcoming challenges, stress, and achievements in your life.  If you don’t already have a morning ritual, allow me to recommend the following: 

  1. Put on Esoteric Oppression by the Moth Gatherer.  The intro gently builds, forcing your energy levels to do the same.  Before you know it, you will be filled with the feeling of empowerment needed to take on what is to come.
  2. Pour yourself a glass of Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout.  It’s a perfect beer to open if you are lethargic because it benefits from a fast, uncontrolled pour.  Immediately take a large sip. Pause.  At first it is sweet and smooth, but in the 3 seconds that follow a cascade of flavors will start to register.  Take another sip.
  3. Get something to eat.  It can be anything from toasted whole grain bread, slathered with cream cheese, and topped with freshly chopped scallions, to a bowl of chopped up hot dogs and cheddar cheese that is heavily doused with hot sauce. 

Even if you are in a hurry, turn up the music, stop for at least 45 seconds and appreciate the food, drink, and metal.  If you follow this morning ritual, I guarantee that you be successful in your upcoming endeavors.  



Album: When a Shadow is Forced into the Light
Artist: Swallow the Sun
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Origin: Finland

Listen to Firelights.

This album pairs well with St. Bernardus abt 12 Barrel Aged Sour.

There is a wild gravity of the natural world that draws us.  We want to feel connected to eternity.  Go for a walk in the dark on a cold winter night.  The stars so far away, and the trees so close, come together and envelop you in a web of connection that is obscured by the organizations of civilization.  Societies come and go, but the Earth remains.  Being aware of the universe around you isn’t terrifying, it’s comforting.  The planets continue on their orbits and we drink our beer. 





Album: Heaven That Dwells Within
Artist: Wormwitch
Genre: Black Metal
Origin: Vancouver, Canada

Listen to Dancing in the Ashes.

This album pairs well with Dogfishhead 120 Minute IPA.

Wherever you are, be all there, is good advice to keep you focused on those around you.  However, sometimes you need to be alone to be all there.  As an extrovert, this is a hard lesson to learn, but being alone doesn’t always have to be a time to shut down and recharge.  In social situations the layers of consciousness can be obvious.  There is the facade of the person you are talking to and the affectation that you are presenting. You are both fully aware that there is someone else behind the front, but the social contract requires that you don’t acknowledge it.  What’s really hard is to be by yourself and become aware of the different versions of you that coexist.  With Heaven that Dwells Within and a 120 Minute, you can transcend the levels of reality that have been created for yourself.  They are all equally valid, but different.  I can’t think of a better elixir of self-reflection than Wormwitch and strong drink.     



#15 Haunted – Khemmis

#14 Atoma – Dark Tranquility

#13 For This We Fought The Battle Of Ages – SubRosa

#12 Shadow Sleep – Starkill

#11 The Arcane Session – Morphinist



Album: Higher Times
Artist: Electric Citizen
Genre: Psychedelic Metal
Origin: USA

Listen to Natural Law

This album pairs well with Spaten Optimator.

This 4 piece band is a reminder that there are a few core ingredients required for greatness.  Sometimes it is worth going back to your roots to remember what it is that defines you.  I am the first to criticize boring metal and simple beers, but it is impossible to improve on a genre or style if you don’t first understand the origins.   Spaten Optimator and Electric Citizen serve as homages to the sturdy shoulders thousands of others have stood on to reach the heights of our brave new world.



Album: Jomsviking
Artist: Amon Amarth
Genre: Viking Metal
Origin: Sweden

Listen to One Thousand Burning Arrows

This album pairs well with Revolver Blood and Honey

Raise your horns!  What could possibly satisfy your inner viking more than a cup filled with blood and honey to accompany an epic metal album?  There is no greater honor for a viking or metalhead than the promise of one day being surrounded by all your friends in Valhalla, and that’s what Amon Amarth are all about.  There are those who write off Amon Amarth as a cheesy viking metal band that is played out, but these are the same people who never fantasize about staring down their enemies on the battlefield.  It’s healthy to get lost in dreams of blood and visions of death and gore, from time to time.



Album: Grey Heavens
Artist: Omnium Gatherum
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Origin: Finland

Listen to Majesty and Silence

This album pairs well with 5BEANS by Sixpoint.

Sometimes you just need feel good music.  This is the perfect album to listen to when you need to raise your spirits.  Crack open a 5BEANS and play this album loud enough to make your heart start beating with the melody.  When everything in the world is trying its hardest to drag you down, a few 5BEANS and Grey Heavens will lift your spirits and make you realize there is no power or principality strong enough to break you.



Album: Jumalten Aika
Artist: Moonsorrow
Genre: Folk Metal
Origin: Finland

Listen to Ruttolehto sis. Päivättömän Päivän Kansa

This album pairs well with Obsidian Stout by Deschutes.

Moonsorrow always bring a somber and reflective mood to their work.  This can be a challenge for other folk metal bands, but Moonsorrow has no problem taking their craft seriously.  Deschutes has the same mindset with the Obsidian Stout.  When it is time to put childish things aside, pour an Obsidian Stout and listen to Jumalten Aika.



Album: Seraphical Euphony
Artist: Hyperion
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Origin: Sweden

Listen to Novus Ordo Seclorum

This album pairs well with Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA by New Belgium.

What do Voodoo Ranger and Hyperion have in common?  They are both amazing and new to 2016.  With their first full length album, Hyperion is reminding everyone how to make a truly great Melodic Death Metal album, and  New Belgium is raising the bar with their latest take on the imperial IPA.  They both do an amazing job of introducing a fresh level of complexity to an already loved and cherished style that will have you thirsty for more.



Album: Guardians
Artist: Saor
Genre: Atmospheric Folk Metal
Origin: Scotland

Listen to The Declaration

This album pairs well with Rapture by Rabbit Hole.


I have to admit that it was a tough battle between the Saor, Panopticon, Waldgeflüste, and the Panopticon / Waldgeflüster split album that came out this year.  All of these albums evoke beautiful mountain imagery that is capable of transporting you to a place and time when nature was viewed with reverence.  In the end Guardians won me over. 

Just as I was going to delve into the intricate details of what sets this album apart, my wife walked into the house and commented, “This reminds me of the soundtrack to Pocahontas.”  I still don’t know if that was supposed to be a criticism or a compliment.  Maybe listening experiences are subjective.  Maybe.  No, that can’t be right.  Put this album on and drink a Rapture or brown ale of your choice.  You will feel the chill as a cold mountain wind washes over you with all its colors.  Fuck!  It’s ruined forever now!



Album: The Cycle Never Ends
Artist: Ravensire
Genre: Heavy Metal
Origin: Portugal

Listen to Cromlech Revelations

This album pairs well with Yuengling Lager.

Dust off your denim jacket and grab a Yuengling, we are about to take a trip to a time when real heavy metal reigned supreme.  Just as Americas greatest strength is appropriating other cultures food and improving on it, Ravensire manages to produce an album in 2016 that would be the perfect cassette to keep in the glove box of your second generation Trans Am.  They do more than simply pay homage to the genre, they mange to make it their own and produce something is truly unique and capable of standing on its own.  It is impossible to listen to this album without feeling like it is your sole duty to show the world what it means to be the master of our own destiny. 



Album: Magma
Artist: Gojira
Genre: Technical Death Metal
Origin:  France

Listen to Stranded.

This album pairs well with Deviant Dale’s by Oskar Blues.

9:43AM     My body lurches, as if I just met the ground after a long fall, and I bolt awake.  The contractors will be here any minute now!  I peek out the window and don’t see any trucks parked out front.  In a series of events that I am unable to place in chronological order, I grab a Deviant Dale’s, check my phone, and hop into the shower.


10:11AM     Oh no.  I did it again.  I got lost in the shower and I have no idea how much time has passed.  Barely drying off, I run to the window.  Good, still no truck.  What is more concerning is that there is no message on my phone.  The contractors were supposed to be here at 10.  No, they did the siding last week.  But then why did I take today off work?  The hangover is messing with me.  I finish the beer, get dressed and stumble downstairs.

10:36AM     Breakfast helps, but eggs and hot sauce is getting old.  I really should change it up sometime.  Are the contractors late?  Did they already finish?  Ugh, this hangover isn’t helping.  At least I don’t have to hear the racket and banging as the workers tear down and replace the siding this morning.  I’m so thankful that they finished the job last week, or was it yesterday?  E-cig in hand, I walk into the back yard.  The siding on the chimney still looks awful.  OK, so they are just late.  Great… 

11:26AM     Now I am getting worried.  These guys have delayed and put this job off for six months!  I remember how loud it was in the house while they were working and my head throbs in anticipation.  As I look for the foreman’s phone number, I realize that I shouldn’t know what it will sound like since they haven’t started yet.  Voice mail.  Inbox is full.  Fuck it.  I grab another beer.

12:46PM     I put on Magma and pop the top on the Deviant Dale’s.  I drink this beer too much.  I can taste it before the glass even reaches my lips.  I’m getting behind on my top ten metal albums of the year reviews, and I realize that Gojira has to be on the list.  It’s an obvious choice since I listen to this album so much.  I know every line and riff.  Not that it’s a bad thing, this album is great, but anything can get old.  How many times have I listened to this album?  Come on! google music is never reliable with it’s “listened to” count.  I know it is more than 25 times.

3:16PM     BANG!  What was that?  Was I asleep?  BANG!  Oh, the contractors are working.  I guess they assumed I was at work and just got started.  Opening the back door, I am greeted with an aluminum ladder that I duck under and wander onto the patio.  “Oh, don’t walk under the ladder.  Bad luck!”  They laugh.  I’m not ready for this.  Glancing up at the workers I mutter, “looking good.”  “We didn’t know anyone was home.  We should be done today if we can work a little late.  Is that OK?”  The sun is bright and I haven’t left the house all day.  “Uh, yeah.  I can’t wait till this is all over.”  The foreman walks up to me and awkwardly shakes my hand.  “Hah, yeah, well, we just got started.  We’ll finish up today.  What a beautiful day!  I was up at the butt crack of dawn and I knew it would be a wonderful day. As soon as I saw the sunrise I prayed that this day would never end!  I have a lot of jobs that I could finish if today would just go on forever, heh.  Will you be around this evening?  You can give me the check as soon as we wrap up.”  BANG! BANG!  The Christmas stocking hanger!  I run back under the ladder and open the door, shouting, “Yeah, I’ll be here!”  Too late.  The reindeer stocking hanger is on the base of the brick fireplace an the metal antlers are bent out of shape.  This happens every time!  Why do I remember this?  As I bend the thin metal back into shape I slowly realize that I have been having one déjà vu after another all day.  I walk over to my laptop and open reddit.  Why are these links still blue?  I’ve already seen all these.  It’s like that episode of Star Trek The Next Generation where Crusher keeps remembering the poker game.  Could I be stuck in a time loop? 

4:00     I realize now that all of this has happened before.  The only question is for how long.  I glance over at google play and it says that I have listened to Magma 25 times.  Did the album play on repeat 25 times today?  Have I relived this day 25 times?  I need food.  I know I shouldn’t drive, but Taco Bell is right around the corner.  “Whatever,” I mumble to myself, “worst case, I’ll die in a car wreck and wake up again this morning.” 

4:04PM     I slam on the brakes as a giant SUV launches across 4 lanes of traffic in a valiant attempt to turn left out of the Home Depot parking lot.  I knew that would happen.  I need to get out of this loop!  I need to change sometime!  I can’t go to Taco Bell again, the cycle will never end.  I slam the gas pedal to the floor and make an illegal u-turn.  My head is pounding.  I have to end the cycle!  I have to make a change!  The car door doesn’t close all the way as I run back into the house, but I don’t care.  BANG! BANG! BANG!  Make it stop!  I can’t go through this for even one more day!  Tears begin to stream down my face as I drop my knees and grab my ears.  “MAKE IT STOP!” I manage to choke between gasps for breath. 

4:56PM     Silence.  They must be painting now.  What do I do?  Pounding another imperial IPA sounds like a good idea. 

6:14PM     Empty cans surround me on the floor in the front room when my phone rings.  “Hello?”  I can see the foreman’s smug grin in my mind when his insidious voice comes through.  “We are just wrapping up now.  Are you home?  I’m out back if you want give me that check.”  I assume he can hear my breathing because he doesn’t hang up during the awkwardly long pause.  I stand up not knowing what to do next.  “Yeah, I’ll be right out.”  Walking through the kitchen, the glimmer of a passing car’s headlights reflect off the blade of the Cutco chef’s knife that I got from my mother-in-law last Christmas.  I slide it into my back pocket and feel the point cut through the denim as it slips down until the handle catches on the top of my jeans back pocket.  The ladder isn’t in the way anymore and foreman is standing in the middle of my back yard looking at his cell phone.  My mind is blank as I close the distance, draw the knife and drive it into his throat.  “Se lo chingaron!” one of the contractors exclaims as the warm spray of blood soaks my face.  One, two, three… I’m keeping count with each thrust.  Twenty-four, twenty-five, and I’m finished.  The knife is still stuck in the foreman’s chest as he lays, motionless, on the grass.  I stand up, take a deep breath and look up into the darkening sky.  I did it.  I broke the cycle.  Back in the house, my finger slips as I pop the tab on another IPA, but it’s okay.  My hangover is finally gone.  



Album: Vessels
Artist: Be’lakor
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Origin: Australia

Listen to Whelm.

This album pairs well with Theobroma by Dogfish Head.

Historians believe that music has been around for around for 50,000 years and it is possible that it existed before what we think of as the human brain developed.  In fact, some argue that music may predate language its self.  Beer, on the other hand is a much more recent invention.  The oldest archaeological evidence of beer is just under 7,000 years old.  This, however, still predates the written word of God and almost anything we have resembling human history. 

What is unquestionable is that both beer and music possess a primal force that has shaped civilizations and defined what it means to be human.  If you indulge yourself with a Theobroma and listen to Vessels, you will experience the same feelings that your ancestors had and reunite with the spirits of those who created the world we live in today.  There is a thread running through all of us defines the human condition.  Anyone can all feel it if they just drink enough and listen to great metal.





Album: Empires of Ash
Artist: Sojourner
Genre: Castle Metal
Origin: New Zealand / SwedenListen to Homeward.This album pairs well with Dogfishhead Red & White.


There is tremendous debate in the metal community right now about the genre, “Castle Metal.”  Some say it is metal that was crafted to played in a castle, while others argue that it is the type of metal that castles would play if only they were capable of using instruments.  Obsequiae, with their 2015 album Aria of Vernal Tombs are often credited with bringing the previously obscure genre onto the main stage, but the paltry number of bands who can be classified as such has been the main source of criticism for those who question whether or not it should be recognized as a distinct genre at all. 

But, with the release of Empires of Ash it is clear that Castle Metal is here to stay.  In much the same way the style “beer-wine,” (a beer that uses a substantial amount of wine must in the fermentable bill of ingredients) will cause critics to argue endlessly about its utility, “Castle Metal” will always be controversial.  What is not up for debate is the mystifying sense of enduring solace and contentment that one receives when they polish off a bottle of Red &White while listening to this album.  






Album: Empress/Abscess
Artist: Immortal Bird
Genre: Grindcore
Origin: ChicagoListen to To a Watery Grave

This album pairs well with Hopadillo IPA by Karbach.

Somehow, every time I put on this album or crack open a Hopadillo I think, “this isn’t bad.”  Then, in an instant, it’s all gone.  The deep seated pangs of withdrawal start creeping through the marrow of my bones and all my mind can focus on is getting more.  On my weaker days, I have been known to start this album over immediately or sneak into the garage and hope that no one noticed that I’m already on my second beer before the head in everyone else’s glass has had time to settle.


Album: Songs from the North I, II, III
Artist: Swallow the Sun
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Origin: FinlandListen to Rooms and Shadows

This album pairs well with Japanese Green Tea IPA by Stone.

How long should an album be?  They say a good paper or article is like a skirt, it’s long enough to cover the relevant material and short enough to still be interesting.  Most people take this advice to mean that, given the appropriate amount of effort, shorter is better.  We’ve all been there, you open a 22oz bottle of imperial, barrel aged, something infused, double, chocolate/coffee/vanilla, bourbon, limited edition, burtango, and all you can think is, “Wow, that is great.  I would have loved a few sips of this while I contemplate life while sitting next to the fire, but since I opened the bottle, I guess I have to finish it.”  The Japanese Green Tea IPA is not like that.  It is a journey.  Each taste opens up new flavors and sensations.  As it warms up, the full bouquet expands and tells a story.  “Songs from the North I, II, III” is the same way.  At first, you might think, “Zomg, that is a long album!” (albums?) but give it a chance.  There is a clear progression that, given the appropriate measure of attention, makes it clear that there is a narrative and a purpose.  Swallow the Sun were not simply trying to make a long album.  There is no filler.  If your album only needs be 30 minutes long, then make a 30 minute long album.  If you have over two and half hours of a musical story to tell, then do it.


Album: One Man Army
Artist: Ensiferum
Genre: Folk Metal
Origin: FinlandListen to One Man Army

This album pairs well with Prairie Gold by Prairie.

There are three kinds of people in this word: Those who LOVE Ensiferum, those who got burned out listening to them too much in the early 00’s, and those who are secretly lizards hiding under a thin layer of human skin.  Prairie Gold is the same way.  I have met men who claim that they used to love sours, but then they drank too many and now they just don’t desire them anymore.  These men are weak.  They will die off in the first wave of the human uprising against our secret lizard overlords.  After they fall, the rest of us will ride into battle to the majestic, galloping riffs of Ensiferum’s empowering music!


Album: Stellar
Artist: Der Weg einer Freiheit
Genre: Black Metal
Origin: GermanyListen to Repulsion

This album pairs well with The Honesty of Reason by Southern Star.

The intersection of art and power can be found in The Honesty of Reason and Stellar alike.  There is so much going on that you can’t help but grab the nearest human you can find by the collar and passionately explain to them how much of reality they have completely failed to comprehend.  This beer and this album deserve to be appreciated over and over again.  On the surface, they are great.  However, there are several layers waiting to be explored by those with sufficient attention to detail.  At a cursory glance, you might think you understand what I’m explaining here, but until you take the time to savor the intimate details and explore everything that exists in these two works you will never know.


Album: Vænir
Artist: Monolord
Genre: Stoner Metal
Origin: SwedenListen to We Will Burn

This album pairs well with Founders Breakfast Stout.

You wake up later than expected.  Normally the mid-morning rays of sunlight stream through the window and force you to enter the realm of the living, but the sky is gunmetal grey.  The laden clouds are doing a top notch job of blocking out most of the photons that normally strike your heavy eyelids and force you to remember that the world continues to revolve around the sun.  You drank too much last night, but the tell tail signs of a hangover don’t seem present.  After glancing at the time on your phone, you decide to roll out of bed.  As you wander into the kitchen an overwhelming sense of hunger overtakes you.  Time passes.  You realize that you have been staring into the refrigerator for an indeterminable amount of time.  You imagine the expensive, cold air pouring out of the fridge like so many ping pong balls spilling out around your feet.  Instinctively, you close the door.  It’s Saturday and the thought of the weekend brunch at your favorite pub makes your mouth water.  As you pick a lightly worn shirt out of the pile and pull on yesterdays pants, you think about nothing other than the nourishment that eggs, cheese, carbs, and deliciousness will bring you.  Pulling up to the first red light, it hits you; the reason you are not hung over is probably that you are still a little drunk.  Eh, no one gets pulled over for drunk driving on a Saturday morning.  You pause in the parking lot before killing the engine.  The sound of Monolord flowing from your speakers has never sounded more pertinent.  Somehow the patter of raindrops striking the windshield seems to match the eternal drone of Vænir.  After the song ends you walk into the bar.  The smell of bacon and fried potatoes greet you.  There are less than half a dozen people sitting at the bar and you pull up a stool next to someone who is watching women’s beach volleyball on the TV off to the right.  Thoughts about saying some sort of vapid platitude are brushed aside as he takes a deep swig of a beer that is darker than the night, and he gazes back at the fit women diving into the sand on the forty-two inch screen.   What to order?  Is there a wrong decision at this point?  Everything on the brunch menu looks amazing.  Just as you narrow it down to two options, the bartender strides over and makes eye contact.  “What’ll it be?”  Before you can answer, the person to your right turns around.  “He’ll have the Founders Breakfast Stout.”  The fear takes much too long to sink in.  Shock is screaming in your subconscious, begging to be heard through the dreary haze.  As you stare into your own eyes, you mutter, “Yeah, I’ll have the breakfast stout.”  You turn away from yourself before you do and glance down at the menu.  The eggs Benedict sounds good.


Album: Aphotic Veil
Artist: Exgenesis
Genre: Death Metal
Origin: SwedenListen to Cloudburst

This album pairs well with Oak Aged Yeti.

Most oak barrels are made out of trees that are 100 to 200 years old.  It kinda puts your whole life into perspective.  There is something ancient sounding hidden in the subtle interludes of Aphotic Veil, that also makes you realize how short your life really is.

The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem:
“Futile! Futile!” laments the Teacher,
“Absolutely futile! Everything is futile!”
What benefit do people get from all the effort which they expend on earth?
A generation comes and a generation goes, but the earth remains the same through the ages.
The sun rises and the sun sets; it hurries away to a place from which it rises again.

Exgenesis understand the Teacher more than most people who do their time in seminary, and I would argue that the good people at Great Divide do as well.  We are all but a vapor, nothingness, lost in the wind.  The world is, and has been, and will continue to be.  All that we have is to make the most of our time on this earth.  A deep seated knowledge that permeates our most private thoughts tells us that there is more to follow this short life, but yet, we hope that what happens in the here and now must have some everlasting value.  If you relax, pour an Oak Aged Yeti, and listen to Aphotic Veil, you will live a more meaningful life.


Album: Singularity
Artist: Enshine
Genre: Atmospheric Death Metal
Origin: SwedenListen to Dual Existence

This album pairs well with Cantillon Gueuze.

“In the 18th century, a Benedictine monk, dom Pérignon, discovers the champaign method by blending different non sparkling white wines. One century later, a Brabant brewer blends different lambics and brings about a spontaneous fermentation in the bottle. The Gueuze is born.”

Singularity by Enshine speaks to the desire to uncover hidden knowledge that only the Belgians understand.  Everything that is required to make the perfect beer already exists.  All the pieces needed for the best metal album are already available to us.  The act of making a great beer or an amazing album is not one of creation.  It is a work of discovery.  When you drink Cantillon Gueuze and listen to Singularity, you are not partaking in anything new.  You are simply learning to appreciate the work that has gone before. 

Do not let this be misconstrued as petty sentimentalism.  Everything is additive.  What is the best age to live in?  It’s this age!  We have learned from all those who went before us.  We must give them respect, but at the same time we must recognize that, at one point, they were just like us, looking to those who came before, consuming everything beneficial, and discarding everything that is useless.

I want to live on in the future.  Our lives are short.  Are the accomplishments of your life counted among those that will be remembered by future generations, or will your entire existence be discarded?  When you listen to Singularity, you are faced with this question. 


Album: Saros
Artist: Wovoka
Genre: Sludge Metal
Origin:  The desert outside of Los AngelesListen to Lament

This album pairs well with Walloon by Southern Star.

The saros is a period of approximately 18 years, 11 days, and 8 hours, that can be used to predict eclipses of the Sun and Moon.  Walloons are a French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia. 

Southern Star and Wovoka understand that anything worth consuming is something that must be steeped in knowledge of the ancient and the exigent.  When listening to this album and / or drinking this beer, one’s mind will drift, not into the vapid doldrums that pop music and American lagers descend, but into thoughts about our place in the vast landscape of history and the universe.


Album: Ungod
Artist: Morgoth
Genre: Death Metal
Origin: GermanyListen to Snakestate

This album pairs well with Josh The Revelator Double IPA by Clown Shoes.

“One nation, one aim.  Somebody to acclaim.  You follow your leader.”  Josh and Morgoth revealed his forthcoming at nearly the same time.   There is no better narrative that describes the Antichrists ascension than the Lyrics to “Snakestate.”  Toss back an amazing Clown Shoes IPA and revel in the prophetic bath of nationalistic hate put forth by Morgoth.  This will come to pass; the world we knew has passed away.  What side will you take?  Is it better to be tortured and suffer till death of the side of the righteous, or will you join me on the side that might hath made right?  All hail God Emperor Trump!  This is the dawn of the Antichrist!


Album: Under the Red Cloud
Artist: Amorphis
Genre: Melodic Folk Metal
Origin: FinlandListen to Death of a King

This album pairs well with Big Bad Baptist by Epic. 


Epic is a word that is often overused.  However, every time I listen to “Under the Red Sun” it is the word that comes to forefront of my mind.  There are a plethora of good albums and beers that I will never hesitate to recommend, but not many can live up to the title of “epic.”  It takes more than a modest effort to produce something that inspires and fills you with a desire to go forth and do something great.  Listening to this album and drinking this beer is a motivational experience.  This world is forever attempting to beat you down and fill you with existential and cosmic terror.  Music and drink can provide a healthy dose of perspective, but deep down we all know that there no substantial difference between a realist and a pessimist.  The lyrics of “Under the Red Sun” by themselves are quite depressing.  Big Bad Baptist is heavy and dark.  Yet, there is so much lurking in the subtlety.  Vapid feel good music and light drinkable beer are an excellent way to delude yourself.  A normal dark chorus and a typical heavy beer can bring about an honest, albeit depressing, perspective.  It takes so much more to make you see the world as it really is, and say, “challenge accepted!”





  Album: Black Widow
Artist: In This Moment
Genre: Metalcore
Origin: Los Angeles, CaliforniaListen to Sick Like Me

This album pairs well with Miller High Life Light.

There is a time and a place for everything.  Sometimes you have to let go of your pretentiousness and admit that it’s OK to like things that are marketed to the masses.  Every beer you love doesn’t have to be brewed by Belgian monks, and every album you like doesn’t have to be produced by a guy with three umlauts in his name who describes his genre as “Extreme Majestic Technical Epic Melodic Metal.”


Album: Yav
Artist: Arkona
Genre: Folk Metal
Origin: RussiaListen to Gorod Snov

This album pairs well with Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale.

When you listen to this album you need a beer that you can fill your drinking horn with.  Little Sumpin’ is perfect for dancing around the bonfire and sharing with random strangers who join you in your folk metal revelry.


Album: Titan
Artist: Septicflesh
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Origin: GreeceListen to Order of Dracul

This album pairs well with Chimay Blue.

When I first heard this album I thought, “How come I’m not drinking out of a chalice right now?”  Instantly, I had a craving for Chimay.  The world needs more symphonic metal.


Album: Mobile of Angels
Artist: Witch Mountain
Genre: Blues Metal
Origin: Portland, OregonListen to Psycho Animundi

This album pairs well with Rahr Whiskey Warmer.

I am surprised that this album made the list.  I mean, on first glance you might not even recognize it as metal.  But those of you who know your history will immediately see this album for what it is.  Mobile of Angels is a metal time machine that perfectly captures the metal spirit that has remained constant throughout the ages, even as the musical genres that housed it have evolved and changed.  The bourbon aroma of Whiskey Warmer harkens back to a distant time in American history when the blues where revolutionizing the music world and paving the way for the glorious metal future that we live in now.



Album: Of Terror and the Supernatural
Artist: Temple of Void
Genre: Doom Metal
Origin: The Depths of Detroit

Listen to Invocation of Demise

This album pairs well with St. Bernardus Abt 12.

St. Bernardus claims to come from a “poetry village, called Watou, where time is apparently passing by slower than in the rest of the country.  Life over there is different, quieter; where people live in accordance with nature, where tradition and values are honoured.”

At first, it might seem like Watou and Detroit are nothing alike, however both of these magical places share one thing in common; it is impossible to live there without believing in the supernatural.  Watou is a land of heavenly light and Detroit is centered on a hellmouth.  This album and beer pairing will fill you with forbidden knowledge of the supernatural and cause you to grow in power.


Album: Origins
Artist: Eluveitie
Genre: Folk Metal
Origin: SwitzerlandListen to Vianna 

This album pairs well with Four Corners Local Buzz.

The only bad thing you can say about Eluveitie is that they are formulaic.  But, when you have a good formula, why change it?  Pop the top off your Local Buzz, pull out your hurdy gurdy, and enjoy life.  It’s impossible to listen to this without getting a smile on your face.


Album: Primitive and Deadly
Artist: Earth
Genre: Stoner Metal
Origin: Olympia, WashingtonListen to There is a Serpent Coming

This album pairs well with Revolver Blood and Honey.

Primitive and Deadly has an almost Southern Rock vibe to it at moments, and at other times it is downright bluesy.  If you ever find yourself in an old, run down saloon, ask the bartender for a Blood and Honey and then put this album on the jukebox. 


Album: Past 21 Beyond the Arctic Cell
Artist: Megaton Leviathan
Genre: Psychedelic Metal
Origin: Portland, OregonListen to Past 21 

This album pairs well with Rodenbach Grand Cru.

Sit down next to the fire, pour yourself a Grand Cru, and think about the cold of winter.  This album is 100% ambiance and atmosphere. It will make you feel the sort of contentment that comes with curling up in your house and hiding from the elements.


Album: Blood Mantra
Artist: Decapitated
Genre: Technical Death Metal
Origin: PolandListen to Nest

This album pairs well with Peticolas Velvet Hammer.

As your attorney, I advise you to drink 6 velvet hammers, play this album as loud as you can, and then punch a water heater.


Album: The Divination of Antiquity
Artist: Winterfylleth
Genre: Black Metal
Origin: EnglandListen to A Careworn Heart

This album pairs well with Oscar Blues Old Chub.

This goes down way to easy.  It’s not hard to slam through the whole thing without taking the time to appreciate it.  But, I beseech you to calm down, sit back, and experience it.


Album: Virus of the Mind
Artist: Starkill
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Origin: Some Highschool in North ChicagoListen to Into Destiny

This album pairs well with Community Mosaic IPA.

Community Brewery and Starkill have been around for about the same time.  Relatively new to the scene, they are not doing anything unheard of or completely different.  However, what they are doing is excelling in their field and showing the more established competition how it is done.


Album: The Old Believer
Artist: The Atlas Moth
Genre: Post Metal
Origin: Chicago, IllinoisListen to The Sea Beyond 

This album pairs well with Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.

This album has an amazing complexity.  On one hand it is total chill out music, but then when you least expect it, a verse or guitar riff will jump out and completely grab you.  The Old Believer is just like 90 minute because there are times where I will go weeks without enjoying it, and then when I do pick it up, I wonder why I had been abstaining for so long.


Album: Melana Chasmata
Artist: Triptykon
Genre: Gothic Metal
Origin: SwitzerlandListen to Boleskine House

This album pairs well with Santa Fe Imperial Java Stout.

Java Stout gives you a wonderful excuse to get a healthy buzz before noon, and this album will make you realize that there is nothing weird about smoking cloves in a graveyard.  Who cares what other people think.  The dark tone of this album will make you gaze out upon the world with detached realism.  Those who have never had a Java Stout or heard this album just don’t get it, and there is no use in trying to explain it to them.


Album: Nux Vomica
Artist: Nux Vomica
Genre: Crust Metal
Origin: Portland, OregonListen to Reeling  

This album pairs well with Stone IPA.

Nux Vomica is the Latin name for the tree that produces strychnine, so it is appropriate that parts of this album that lean heavily on punk influences can leave a bitter taste in your mouth.  But, this is an album that is more than the sum of its parts.  The first track has the most punk elements, the second track is melodic death metal, and the third track is a masterful blend of the two.  The third track on this album is one of my favorite songs, but all meaning is lost if you don’t listen to it after experiencing the first 2/3rds of the album.


Album: Shadows of the Dying Sun
Artist: Insomnium
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Origin: FinlandListen to While We Sleep 

This album pairs well with Lakewood’s The Temptress.

The smooth and velvety melody makes for easy listening, and like the 9.1% ABV of The Temptress, this album will make you make feel all warm and comfy.


Album: The Serpent and the Sphere
Artist: Agalloch
Genre: Neofolk Metal
Origin: Portland, OregonListen to Birth and Death of the Pillars of Creation

This album pairs well with Orval. 


The slight tart and wild notes of this beer are reminiscent of an ancient time.  The Serpent and the Sphere is a new creation mythos, and imagery of hooded figures passing down the story of the origin of the universe can’t be missed.  This looming sense of hidden knowledge and mysticism goes hand in hand with the Trappist tradition, and Orval is the greatest among the Trappist beers.