Absence of the Sun
• Since forming around this time last year, the metal group SYLVIA have triggered many Portlanders' brutality radars with a ferocious blend of black metal, sludge, and doom. An injury to a guitarist's limb kept them quiet much of the winter, but the band were resurrected this spring, and their live show has quickly become a favorite for fans of dynamic metal savagery. No tangible recordings available yet, but interested parties can hear a studio version of "Luv U 2 Death" at the group's Bandcamp page (sylviametal.bandcamp.com), while those who want to dig a little deeper (with, say, a YouTube search for "sylvia portland metal") will be rewarded with a charmingly homespun Final Cut video, which impossibly merges the band's grim sound with whimsical scenes from the Portland social scene.
• The grim doom-punk units SWAATH and CORRESPONDENCES are probably the most compelling alliance of heavy bands we've seen in awhile. They join forces and embark on a two-week East Coast tour this month, which they make official with a split cassette. A band of four dudes cut from Portland's prosperous crust and crud scene, Swaath play a raw and chasmic thud, winning their audience with lurching, meditative glimpses into the void. Paired with Correspondences, an all-lady three-piece whose cello-driven doom ballads come dredged in a queer-punk ethos and radical aesthetic, these two bands saw at the rigid signposts of heavy music. See primers of each at Mike Rattlesnake's excellent video archive Brass Cankles (brasscankles.tumblr.com) and catch both bands this week — see 8 Days a Week on page 12. More info at swath.blogspot.com and correspondences.bandcamp.com.
• The reception for the folkish black metal band FALLS OF RAUROS has been relatively quiet in their home state, but the group has garnered plenty of attention outside Maine for last year's The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood. They've been added to the Winter is Coming Festival, a three-day fete of black metal, thrash, and doom bands in New London, CT, this October, which also features national heavyweights Agalloch and Woe.
• Melodic death metal band ABSENCE OF THE SUN have been extremely active since the release of last year's The Aurora LP, jaunting around the U.S. and playing more shows with Portland's core metal scene. The group contributes tracks to the inaugural release from new label Brutal Records, a compilation of gore, death, and grind from Portland's basest metal groups. Get more info on the comp at brutalrecords.com, and see AotS August 10th, when they play the famously choleric Oxxfest with national acts Killswitch Engage, Trivium, and God Forbid at Scarborough Downs. Details at waterfrontconcerts.com.