A still from the video for Kirani Ayat’s “Guda”

A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.

Philip Montoro, Reader music editor

Paal Nilssen-Love at Corbett vs. Dempsey on December 14 The last concert at CvsD before its move to 2156 W. Fulton was an improvised solo set by Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love (Large Unit, the Thing). I love how organically he allows the competing poles of so many dualities to interpenetrate in his playing: pulsed and free, sparse and frenzied, textural and melodic, delicate and bruising.

Daughters, You Won’t Get What You Want I finally caught up with this great album after missing Daughters’ Chicago shows in November—but luckily, I’ll get another chance at Bottom Lounge in March. The band greases its bleak, artsy posthardcore with nihilistic swagger, propelling shattered sheets of glassy black neon-lit noise with rhythms that range from a numbing throb to a laser-targeted barrage—at its most toweringly evil, it sounds like it’s played with the thumpers from Dune and the Death Star cannon from The Last Jedi.

Kirani Ayat, “Guda” I enjoy lots of things about “Guda,” the second single from Aisha’s Sun, the forthcoming debut album by Ghanaian rapper Kirani Ayat: his clear, powerful baritone voice, the catchy Afropop-inflected chorus, the English phrases that pop out of his inspirational Hausa lyrics, the thick, slewing bass synth that sometimes shadows the beat. But the video puts this song in a category of its own: shot in the town of Bolgatanga, near Ghana’s northern border, it showcases the beauty of the people, traditions, and landscapes of the West Sudanian Savanna.

Philip is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .

xAbruptxCredit: Courtesy the artist

Kriegmeister Hatestorm, front man for Neckbeard Deathcamp

xAbruptx Heavy music is protest fundamentally. Anyone who says otherwise is a dummy. Grind and powerviolence have never skipped a punch in that regard and take little time to parse through layers of shit to see who can hang. The pursuit of punishing riffs and blastbeats is a treasure cruise through this Chicago duo’s discography. Drummer Rob and guitarist Elisa (they both sing) were some of my first friends when I moved here, and their tolerance for bullshit is consistently less than zero—a trait I have worked hard to absorb. Their split with Minimum Wage Assassins slaps, and I wouldn’t be the Hatestorm I am today without it or them.

The Temple of Murmur Defunct DIY venue the Temple of Murmur was the house in which my last holdout pastel choices in rebel radio were euthanized. It was also the house in which my first musical project, WHITEPHOSPHOROUS, was born. On a November evening in like-minded counsel, I played a set titled “First Horseman.” Thanks, Jack. For everything.

Haggathorn Where grind and crust are an easy cracker on which to spread left politics, black metal proves often a little soft-spoken on the issue, oddly enough. Haggathorn are a powerful exception to that rule, and still do the things we like about black metal. Their intensity, outspoken hostility, and stage performances all hit the spot. They also learn quickly and take hits well. Haggathorn guitarist Nathan Scripter will curate the final third of this In Rotation.

YouTube video

Hatestorm is curious what’s in the rotation of . . .

HyemsCredit: Jan Northoff

Nathan Scripter, guitarist for Haggathorn

Zao This West Virginia band’s 1999 album Liberate Te Ex Inferis (which roughly translates to “Save Yourself From Hell”) has a darkness and heaviness that’s always stuck with me. I grew up in a strict Christian family. We were only allowed to listen to Christian music. I was beginning to explore the occult and Satanism when this record came out. I felt a deep connection between its darkness and all the struggles I had learning about my own darkness while living in that environment.

Grave Gnosis This incredible black-metal band from Florida are a huge inspiration to me. Many of their songs have been calculatedly written through black-magic ritual—and they’re some of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with.

Hyems These guys are an anti-Nazi black-metal band from Germany, and they have really tight riffs. Their latest EP, this summer’s 1997, features a track called “Nazi Black Metal Fuck Off.” It’s always good to see other black-metal musicians taking a stand against racism.  v

Philip Montoro

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.