Another excellent band from Richmond, VA, Bastard Sapling's latest—the four-song, 40-minute full-length "Dragged From Our Restless Trance"—should be available on cassette at some point in the relatively near future from Forcefield Records. Each side of the cassette contains one "shorter" track followed by a 12+ minute monster, and the band is still cranking out absolutely perfect black metal that embodies everything I look for from the genre. They've got a nice mix of fast-paced blasting and tremolo picking with pulsing midpaced rhythms; fierce, unhinged aggression fused with chilling melodic attributes; strained, snarling vocals that possess legitimate emotion; and just a little bit of added atmospherics on occasion (without venturing into any boring/pompous territory). For example, "Cold Winds Howled Across the Desolation" flirts with ambient noise textures and distantly droning, textural singing (not to mention a bit of tasteful keyboard towards the end); while "Beyond the Void of Life" opens with a few minutes of ominous hums and warped clean guitars before exploring some winding and surprisingly technical runs buried amidst gnashing tremolo-picked chords. Also in place is an aptly rugged recording that utilizes a balanced mix so you can hear all of the basslines and pick out some subtle details (such as the great discordant ring to the guitar tone, which creates a nice sense of unease from time to time). It's really all about high-quality riffs and excellent songwriting, though. It's not just fast, pissed, and in your face, there are a lot of fluid dynamic shifts and thoughtful arrangements that communicate some real feeling, and that always makes a huge difference. While Bastard Sapling isn't the most prolific band out there, thus far everything they've produced has been top-notch and well worth the wait, so I'm already looking forward to hearing more. I'd like to see the band start to garner a bit more attention as well, 'cause this is just so fuckin' good... they really deserve it.
Unfortunately the tape's not available for purchase yet, but keep your eyes on the Forcefield Records store for availability.