The history of heavy metal

As well as the metal albums highlighted in my recent blog post, Wellington City Libraries also has a selection of books covering the fascinating history of metal and the larger-than-life figures who drove it.

The rough guide to heavy metal / Berelian, Essi
“With more than 300 artist biographies and band stories, this is the essential heavy metal companion. Additional features include dozens of boxouts and sidebars on topics as diverse and disturbing as Weird Hobbies, Christian Metal, the Japanese Scene, Weird Day Jobs, the Eastern European Scene, Hardcore Crossover and Drummer Jokes.  If you love metal, this is the book for you.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


I am Ozzy / Osbourne, Ozzy
“The incredible, frank and moving autobiography by the Prince of F***ing Darkness!” (Catalogue)




Denim and leather : the rise and fall of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal / Hann, Michael
“Between 1978 and 1983, Great Britain spawned a DIY uprising of over 500 heavy metal bands. Many soon became the household names of the 1980s metal invasion…many others did not. For the first time, author Michael Hann captures the whole snout-to-tail story of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in all its power and glory in over 100 interviews with members of Venom, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Diamond Head, Angel Witch, Samson, UFO, Tygers of Pan Tang, Vardis, Judas Priest, Saxon, Whitesnake, Girlschool, Witchfynde, Demon, Thin Lizzy, Rainbow, Gillan, Led Zeppelin, and more. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Continue reading “The history of heavy metal”

Gong bathing with musician extraordinaire Erika Grant

Photo courtesy of  Holly Fenwick and used with kind permission.

Erika Grant is many things: a multi-talented musician, a music teacher, an astrologer, a float facilitator and has just added to her quiver of sonic talents a purveyor and creator of gong baths. She is interested in, amongst many things, how deep relaxation, rest, spirituality and music intersect.

She has played with a myriad of bands in all sorts of guises, to name just two Cookie Brooklyn and the Crumbs and the marvellous Orchestra of spheres. She has also performed in many festivals both here and abroad, such as the Fertility Festival, and has made multiple live soundtracks for the Wellington Film Society, including the recent live soundtrack screening of the F.W. Murnau 1926 black and white movie classic masterpiece Faust. She graduated from the Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand and was awarded the 2009 Chapman Tripp award for outstanding music composers.

Erika talked to us primarily about her new gong baths experience, but we did squeeze in a few questions about some of her many other musical adventures and beyond. We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Erika for taking the time to talk to us about gong baths and her many other musical activities, and for providing such an illuminating insight into her world and work.

A huge thank-you also for providing an exclusive gong bath recording for the interview (you can hear that at the end of the interview). All music is copyright Erika Grant and used with kind permission.

This interview was done in conjunction with Caffeine and Aspirin, the arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM.

For more information on Erika’s Gong Baths and future dates, you can visit her Facebook page.

For information about her astrology sessions, you can visit her website.

And to borrow just a few of the musical projects Erika has been involved with click below.
Mirror / Orchestra of Spheres
“Orchestra of Spheres’ fourth full-length is their longest and most ambitious work to date, as well as their most hypnotic, with a greater presence of trance-inducing mantras among the genre-busting dance grooves usually heard on the group’s albums. Mirror also boasts fuller orchestration than their other efforts, with shamanic strings and colourful horns/woodwinds taking greater precedence than before. More universally conscious as well as more introspective than their past works, Mirror vastly expands Orchestra of Spheres’ scope while maintaining their kinetic energy and exploratory spirit. ~ Paul Simpson” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as  Vinyl.
Vibration animal sex brain music / Orchestra of Spheres
“There are so many elements at work in Orchestra of Spheres’ brand of “future funk” music that it would seem an ambiguous wash if it weren’t so carefully calculated and specifically articulated. On their sophomore full-length, OOS’ vibe is more rhythmically complex than on 2011’s Nonagonic Now, and their studio approach is slicker, to boot. A skillful yet seemingly ragged blanket of squiggly synths inside a field of criss-crossing African, South American, and funk rhythms, chanted vocals, wah-wah guitar, and splattery percussion goes straight to the belly bone. ~ Thom Jurek” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as Vinyl.

Brothers and sisters of the black lagoon / Orchestra of Spheres
“Orchestra of Spheres’ hand-crafted fusion of prog rock, psychedelia, indie rock, and world music continues to baffle and impress on their third album, 2016’s Brothers and Sisters of the Black Lagoon. Rhythm is the one hard and fast rule that Orchestra of Spheres observe, and they take on something a bit different on each track. “Trapdoors” and “Walking Through Walls” are built around mutated Juju and Afro-beat patterns.  Brothers and Sisters of the Black Lagoon is clearly the work of a profoundly gifted band, and they’ve created something honestly fascinating on this album. ~ Mark Deming” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as Vinyl.

Panthalassa / Fraser, Alistair
“Panthalassa was the super ocean that surrounded the super continent Pangaea during the Palaeozoic-Mesozoic era. Panthalassa, the album, is an abstract and impressionist work in which conceptual ideas are explored through the luminous ngā taonga pūoro playing of Al Fraser, the evocative atmospheric soundscapes of Neil Johnstone, and the virtuosic drones and textures created by guitar player Sam Leamy. And Ocean Harp from Erika Grant. The album explores a unique sound world through the use of hydro-phonic recordings of migrating marine animals from Cook Strait/Raukawa. These recordings, made and supplied by NIWA, present a very rich and diverse sonic environment, which may change in the future due to the diminishing of native marine species.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Nonagonic now / Orchestra of Spheres

Track List 1. Hypercube, 2. There Is No No, 3. Rotate, 4. Spontaneous Symmetry, 5. Eternal C Of Darkness, 6. Hypersphere, 7. Isness, 8. Toadstone, 9. Boltzmann Brain, 10. Ulululul ” ( Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as Vinyl


Covid colab : a NZ lockdown music collaboration
” A Covid lockdown fundraising album created by some of New Zealand’s finest musicians remotely during lockdown. Featuring Contents : Borne aloft Al Fraser, Ruby Mae Hinepunui Solly, Michelle Velvin, Milo Meldrum, Nikau Te Huki , Defy Maz Hermon, Nikita Tu-Bryant, Johnny Lawrence, Deanne Krieg, Johnathan Nott ,  Glass mountain Benjamin James, Caroline Bay, Tom Watson, Annabel Alpers, Samuel Scott Side B: Counting down the days  Ryan Prebble, Erika Grant, Ben Lemi, Estère Dalton, Flo Wilson, Cass Basil , The phone call  Samuel Scott, Caroline Bay, Stef Animal, Anita Clark, Benjamin James, Disguise David Randall Peters, Peter Hamilton, Ayrton Foote, Rachelle Eastwood, Letitia Mackenzie, Precipice Brooke Singer, Anna Edgington, Ben Lemi, Deanna Krieg, Grayson Gilmour.” ( adapted from Catalogue) 



Making a scene: New biographies and memoirs

It’s that time again, a bumper crop of new biographies and memoirs are hitting our shelves and we’d love to share them with you. Whether your interest is stars of the screen, literary giants, world history or stories close to home, we’ve got something for everyone.

Making a scene / Wu, Constance
“Through raw and relatable essays, Constance shares private memories of childhood, young love and heartbreak, sexual assault and harassment, and how she “made it” in Hollywood. Her stories offer a behind-the-scenes look at being Asian American in the entertainment industry and the continuing evolution of her identity and influence in the public eye.” (Catalogue)

Terry Pratchett : a life with footnotes / Wilkins, Rob
“At the time of his death in 2015, he was working on his finest story yet – his own. Tragically, Terry ran out of time to complete the memoir he so desperately wanted to write. But now, in the only authorised biography of one of our best known and best loved writers, his manager and friend Rob Wilkins picks up where Terry left off, and with the help of friends, family and Terry’s own unpublished work, tells the full story of an extraordinary life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Remainders of the day : a bookshop diary / Bythell, Shaun
“The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland is a book lover’s paradise, with thousands of books across nearly a mile of shelves, a real log fire, and Captain, the portly bookshop cat. You’d think that after twenty years, owner Shaun Bythell would be used to his quirky customers by now. Filled with the pernickety warmth and humor that has touched readers around the world, stuffed with literary treasures, hidden gems, and incunabula, Remainders of the Day is a warm and welcome memoir of a life in books.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Surviving Marmite : a memoir of growing up Iranian in New Zealand / MacLean, Anisa
“In 2000, when I was just seven years old, my family immigrated from Iran to New Zealand. Surviving Marmite chronicles our wild Kiwi journey; brimming with serious culture shock to hilarious misunderstandings and everything in between. It features my unconventional family: my overly optimistic taxi-driver father, my overly pessimistic eyebrow-threading mother, and my sister and I, frizzy-haired, confused and clearly incongruous third-culture kids.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

No filter : the good, the bad, and the beautiful / Porizkova, Paulina
“Writer and former model Paulina Porizkova pens a series of intimate, introspective, and enlightening essays about the complexities of womanhood at every age, pulling back the glossy magazine cover and writing from the heart”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

A heart that works / Delaney, Rob
“In 2016, Rob Delaney’s one-year-old son, Henry, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The family had moved from Los Angeles to London with their two young boys when Rob’s wife was pregnant with Henry, their third.  Amid the hospital routine, surgeries, and brutal treatments, they found a newfound community of nurses, aides, caregivers, and fellow parents contending with the unthinkable. Two years later, Henry died, and his family watched their world fall away to reveal the things that matter most.” (Catalogue)

Mussolini’s daughter : the most dangerous woman in Europe / Moorehead, Caroline
“Edda Mussolini was the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s oldest and favorite child. Drawing on a wealth of archival material, some newly released, along with memoirs and personal papers, Mussolini’s Daughter paints a portrait of a woman in her twenties whose sheer force of character and ruthless narcissism helped impose a brutal and vulgar movement on a pliable and complicit society. Yet as Moorehead shows, not even Edda’s colossal willpower, her scheming, nor her father’s avowed love could save her husband from Mussolini’s brutal vengeance.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Lives of the wives : five literary marriages / Ciuraru, Carmela
“The history of wives is largely one of silence, resilience, and forbearance. Toss in celebrity, male privilege, ruthless ambition, narcissism, and a few more factors, and it’s easy to understand why the marriages of many famous writers have been stormy, short-lived, and mutually destructive. looks at the complex and fascinating but tumultuous marriages of five well-known figures in the literary world,and exposes the misery behind closed doors. The wives were often demonized and misrepresented, and paid a price when they achieved recognition and freedom.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

We danced on our desks : brilliance and backstabbing at the sixties’ most influential magazine / Norman, Philip
“At the age of 22, Philip Norman lands a dream job as a staff writer on the Sunday Time’s hugely wealthy and prestigious colour magazine at the epicentre of newly-dubbed Swinging London. Under its indulgent editor, Godfrey Smith, he’s allowed to travel the world on munificent expenses, interviewing the famous and infamous from Stevie Wonder to Libya’s combustible Colonel Gaddafi. And between assignments, he’s caught up in office politics and partying that makes the Borgias seem almost civilized by comparison.” (Catalogue)

Boldly go : reflections on a life of awe and wonder / Shatner, William
“The beloved star of Star Trek, recent space traveler, and living legend William Shatner reflects on the interconnectivity of all things, our fragile bond with nature, and the joy that comes from exploration in this inspiring, revelatory, and exhilarating collection of essays.” (Catalogue)

The light we carry : overcoming in uncertain times / Obama, Michelle
“Mrs. Obama offers readers a series of fresh stories and insightful reflections on change, challenge, and power, including her belief that when we light up for others, we can illuminate the richness and potential of the world around us, discovering deeper truths and new pathways for progress.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

For more new items in the collection, go to: What’s new & Popular / March 2023 (

Are You Ready to Rock? Rock Music Fiction

With Daisy Jones and the Six being the hot new adapted-from-a-novel TV series about to launch this week, everyone is talking about rock music fiction at the moment.  As long there has been rock music, there have been rock music novels, from the birth of the genre in the 1950’s, through the swinging 60’s, wild 70’s, glossy 80’s and right up to our social media accessible stars of today.  We’ve put together a list of rock music novels from the past few years, and whether you’re into a murder mystery, some steamy romance or a heartfelt tale of friendship, there’s something for everyone.

Utopia Avenue / Mitchell, David
“Emerging from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967 and fronted by folksinger Elf Holloway, guitar demigod Jasper de Zoet and blues bassist Dean Moss, Utopia Avenue released only two LPs during its brief and blazing journey from the clubs of Soho and draughty ballrooms to Top of the Pops and the cusp of chart success, to glory in Amsterdam, prison in Rome and a fateful American fortnight in the autumn of 1968. David Mitchell’s new novel tells the unexpurgated story of Utopia Avenue; of riots in the streets and revolutions in the head; of drugs, thugs, madness, love, sex, death, art; of the families we choose and the ones we don’t; of fame’s Faustian pact and stardom’s wobbly ladder.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The final revival of Opal & Nev : a novel / Walton, Dawnie
“Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job–despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records. Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Lucifer chord / Cottam, Francis
“Researcher Ruthie Gillespie has undertaken a commission to write an essay on Martin Mear, lead singer and guitarist with Ghost Legion, the biggest, most decadent rock band on the planet, before he disappeared without trace in 1975. Her mission is to separate man from myth – but it’s proving difficult, as a series of increasingly disturbing and macabre incidents threatens to derail Ruthie’s efforts to uncover the truth about the mysterious rock star.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Nietzsche and The Burbs : a novel / Iyer, Lars
“When a new student transfers in from a posh private school, he falls in with a group of like-minded suburban stoners, artists, and outcasts–too smart and creative for their own good. His classmates nickname their new friend Nietzsche (for his braininess and bleak outlook on life), and decide he must be the front man of their metal band, now christened Nietzsche and the Burbs. And as they ponder life’s biggies, this sly, elegant, and often laugh-out-loud funny story of would-be rebels becomes something special: an absorbing and stirring reminder of a particular, exciting yet bittersweet moment in life…and a reminder that all adolescents are philosophers, and all philosophers are adolescents at heart.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The age of anxiety / Townshend, Pete
“A former rock star disappears on the Cumberland moors. When his wife finds him, she discovers he has become a hermit and a painter of apocalyptic visions. A beautiful Irish girl, who has stabbed her father to death is determined to seduce her best friend’s husband. A young composer begins to experience aural hallucinations, expressions of the fear and anxiety of the people of London. He constructs a maze in his back garden. Driven by passion and musical ambition, events spiral out of control-good drugs and bad drugs, loves lost and found, families broken apart and reunited. Conceived jointly as an opera, The Age of Anxiety deals with mythic and operatic themes.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Groupies : a novel / Priscus, Sarah
“It’s 1977, and Faun Novak is in love with rock ‘n’ roll. Except it’s not just the band she can’t get enough of. It’s also the proud groupies who support them in myriad ways.  Faun obsessively photographs every aspect of this dazzling new world, struggling to balance her artistic ambitions with the band’s expectations. As her confidence grows for the first time in her life, her priorities shift. But just as everything is going great and her boring, old life is falling away, Faun realizes just how blind she has been to the darkest corners of this glamorous musical dreamland as the summer heats up and everything spirals out of control.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

The spectacular : a novel / Whittall, Zoe
“It’s 1997 and Missy’s band has finally hit the big time as they tour across America. At twenty-two years old, Missy gets on stage every night and plays the song about her absent mother that made the band famous.  Fortysomething Carola is just surfacing from a sex scandal at the yoga center where she has been living when she sees her daughter, Missy, for the first time in ten years–on the cover of a music magazine.  Ruth is eighty-three and planning her return to the Turkish seaside village where she spent her childhood. In this sharply observed novel, Zoe Whittall captures three very different women who struggle to build an authentic life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Evening’s empire / Flanagan, Bill
“The Year Is 1967. In England, and around the world, rock music is exploding — the Beatles have gone psychedelic, the Stones are singing “Ruby Tuesday,” and the summer of love is approaching. For Jack Flynn, a newly minted young solicitor at a conservative firm, the rock world is of little interest — until he is asked to handle the legal affairs of Emerson Cutler, the seductive front man for an up-and-coming group of British boys with a sound that could take them all the way. Spanning the decades and their shifting ideologies, from the wild abandon of the sixties to the cold realities of the twenty-first century, Evening’s Empire is filled with surprising, sharply funny, and perceptive riffs on fame, culture, and world events.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The idea of you / Lee, Robinne
“Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of an art gallery in Los Angeles, is reluctant to take her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band. The last thing Solène expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon.  When Solène and Hayes’ romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her romantic life has impacted the lives of those she cares about most.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Can’t look away / Lovering, Carola
“In 2013, twenty-three-year old Molly Diamond is a barista, dreaming of becoming a writer. One night at a concert in East Williamsburg, she locks eyes with the lead singer, Jake Danner, and can’t look away. Molly and Jake fall quickly and deeply in love, especially after he writes a hit song about her that puts his band on the map. Nearly a decade later, Molly has given up writing and is living in Flynn Cove, Connecticut with her young daughter and her husband Hunter-who is decidedly not Jake Danner. Meanwhile, a new version of Jake’s hit song is on the radio, forcing Molly to confront her past and ask the ultimate questions: What happens when life turns out nothing like we thought it would, when we were young and dreaming big?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

No one left to come looking for you : a novel / Lipsyte, Sam
“Manhattan’s East Village, 1993. Dive bars, DIY music venues, shady weirdos, and hard drugs are plentiful.  Just a few days before his band’s biggest gig, their lead singer goes missing with Jack’s prized bass, presumably to hock it to feed his junk habit. Jack’s search for his buddy uncovers a sinister entanglement of crimes tied to local real estate barons looking to remake New York City, and who might also be connected to the recent death of Jack’s punk rock mentor.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

And just in case you haven’t yet read it yet…

Daisy Jones & the Six / Reid, Taylor Jenkins
“Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six. They sold out arenas from coast to coast. Their music defined an era and every girl in America idolised Daisy. But on July 12 1979, on the night of the final concert of the Aurora tour, they split. Nobody ever knew why. Until now. This is the whole story, right from the beginning – the sun-bleached streets, the grimy bars on the Sunset Strip, knowing Daisy’s moment was coming. It’s a true story, though everyone remembers the truth differently.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Free CD loans for 2023!

You know what I really love? The CD players in a car. How when you put the CD right up by the slot, it actually takes it out of your hand, like it’s hungry. It pulls it in, and you feel like it wants more silver discs.
– Tom Waits

From February 1st 2023, Wellington City Libraries will be running a one year trial where all CDs will be free to borrow.

A picture of a shelf full of Wellington CDs available at Te Awe library.You can find our browsable collection of CDs upstairs at Te Awe Brandon Library if you like the hands-on approach to finding music, with roughly 5000 items available covering a wide range of genres including: Popular, Jazz, Blues, Metal, Hip-Hop, Electronica, Soul/R&B, Folk, Classical, Experimental, and World Music – and most of these genre splits are there for separate New Zealand and Wellington music collections if you want to keep it local.

Large shelves from our storage facility, packed to the brim with CDs available for reserve

A further 23,000 items are available to reserve from our storage facility, Te Pātaka – while you can’t go through these in person, you can use our catalogue to filter down to the Off-Site Storage collection and Music CD formats to explore what’s available. All items are free to reserve with a valid library card – just sign in with your card number and PIN!

Having trouble deciding what to check out? Our staff regularly put together short reviews of recent CD releases that have caught their ears, and each month we update the new music in our collection on our What’s New page.

How long are CDs issued for?
CDs are issued for one week, and can be renewed once for an extra week.

Will my previous CD fees be removed?
This trial only applies to CDs issued from February 1st, when the costs will stop being applied upon issuing – previous fees will remain on your account.

I still have pre-paid slots for CDs on a Concession Card – can I use these anymore?
Similar to when we retired the Bestseller collection, we can make these concession card slots available to be used on our magazine, DVD or Vinyl collections. If these alternative items aren’t in your wheelhouse, we can also offer refunds.

Music picks: Big Riffs from the last year

I’m Reece, part of the Music Specialist team here at Wellington City Libraries. As part of joining the team, I’ve been asked to cast my discerning eye and ear over an area close to my heart – the metal CD collection. This collection kickstarted a journey into the darker realms of music when I borrowed an Opeth album back in 2005 and discovered harsh vocals within 5 seconds, changing the path of my life irreparably. Here’s some mini reviews of heavier albums we’ve acquired on disc in the last year – all of which can be borrowed or reserved today.

Gojira – Fortitude

Gojira have turned their thick brand of groove/death metal into a world-conquering, festival-packing force over the past decade, and Fortitude (their 7th album) seems very ready to keep that ticking along. The band switch between their classic Gojira riffs (syncopated, chromatic, chuggy, spiced with natural harmonics and pickscrapes) to stompy stadium rock beats with harsh vocal lines that straddle the gap between gravelly rock singers and the vocal-chord-scraping stylings of traditional death metal vocalists, but break out into soaring group clean vocals at opportune chorus moments. Despite the album’s release during the peak of reduced capacity shows and cancelled tours, it feels like it was designed to be heard in the open air live environment more than any previous album – even the most technical and intense instrumental sections are used to service the next Big Hook that’s never far away.

Meshuggah – Immutabl

Churning, oppressive and impossibly mechanical, the extended range monsters emerge for another cycle. All the elements of Meshuggah’s modern era are here; bending guitar notes falling off the low register of the 8-string, fragmented kick drums drifting and floating around the anchoring right hand cymbal patterns, emphasised by a snare that always cracks at the perfect moment to ensure groove and continuity is maintained, even when it feels like your ears are being stretched over an extra bar to get there. Atmospheric guitar leads call to mind synthesiser pads and malfunctioning equipment and once you’re shifted past that part of the infinite production line, the harsh vocals begin to venomously articulate each syllable of the band’s dystopian vision, pushing and pulling another rhythmic and textural layer over the instrumental machinations. If you’ve listened to a Meshuggah album before, there’s not really anything surprising added to the core formula, but another body-rearranging journey into their monolithic factory usually goes down a treat.

Big Brave – Vital

Mountainous sludge riffs emerge and crash from textured feedback, guided only by sparse thumping percussion and the occasional crash cymbal as a beacon. Above it all, emotional vocals lift with the peaks of the riffs to add a level of harmony and expression, not normally found in these lands of amplifier worship, and gently glide back down to keep a living, breathing element to the songs even when all the instruments go silent. Vital is built on top of the textures of ambient and drone, but with an extremely organic feel to the band pulling their crushing passages out of the waves. You’ll need your volume absolutely cranked to get everything out of the dynamics of this one.

Alien Weaponry – Tangaroa

Tangaroa sees the Māori young guns expand on their groove metal sound with a few more years under their belts. The proficiency on the instruments has definitely increased, especially when they dig in on the rhythm guitar gallops and heavier fills, and the Te Reo lyric patterns flow in a way unheard in metal music before. When the band brings a little bit more intensity to the instrumentals it really pays off, like the doublekick riff at the end of the otherwise low-key Unforgiving or the main riffs of Kai Whatu. To contrast, the soundscape, sample and taonga pūoro elements that appear from time to time do an excellent job of backing up the identity of the record – a well rounded dynamic album. Hopefully there will be a lot more to come, as the band take full advantage of their overseas touring opportunities re-emerging.

Blindfolded and Led to the Woods – Nightmare Withdrawals

Another New Zealand release, the third Blindfolded album is an absolute force to be reckoned with. Sliding, arpeggiated and raking guitar acrobatics represent Aotearoa to a world class level in the dissonant technical death metal sphere, and the distorted bass and punished drumkit provide a rhythmic foundation for some of the best organic passages in a genre often dominated by sterile and robotic sounds. Furious harsh vocals bring the entire project together, which deal with processing the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes through thoughtful despair, existential dread and a light touch of the band’s earlier absurdity (more death metal releases should have Twin Peaks references, so this is definitely a positive). I still find new flourishes and details on this album with every listen, entirely essential for anyone who loves a blastbeat or twenty. We’ve also got this one on vinyl out at Johnsonville if you’re inclined that way.

Divide and Dissolve – Gas Lit

Another slow one, Divide and Dissolve incorporate what feels like chamber music instrumentation (provided by saxophone and effects) alongside lo-fi fuzzed out drone-doom. Hypnotic and haunting regardless of which instrumental mode they’re choosing at any given moment, the two piece defiantly stride through their murky landscapes, painfully stretching out their doom riffs and drum beats to new tempos and feels. When the onslaught finally relents, layers of rich anguished chords from the saxophone emerge to show you that shelter from the storm might sound like a relief, but there’s still plenty of pain to deal with as you rest.