Q-Burns Abstract Message is dead, long live Grottoes; plus Druid Lord claws their way out of the crypt

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Q-Burns Abstract Message is dead, long live Grottoes; plus Druid Lord claws their way out of the crypt
Michael Donaldson, fka Q-Burns Abstract Message | courtesy photo

That's it, Q-Burns Abstract Message is officially dead. Oh, Michael Donaldson — the mind behind the iconic act that was one of the most accomplished, respected and, up until now, enduring names to emerge from the belle epoque of Orlando's storied 1990s dance music scene — is still alive. He's just closing the illustrious Q-BAM chapter of his career.

The good news is that he's just opened a brand-new one with a fresh release under the moniker Grottoes. Debut single "Straw Belle" — released on Donaldson's own 8-D Industries label and now streaming everywhere — plumbs waters even more abstract than his longtime former namesake.

If "Straw Belle" is any bellwether, Donaldson's no longer shooting to move you. He's looking to immerse you. This first taste of his new post-dance electronic music crafts judiciously detailed atmosphere with dynamics that are, in turns, glacial and dramatic. It's a sound that's actually more in line with the experimental electronic music currently being put out by his label.

Even as the more floor-minded Q-BAM, Donaldson was always cerebral and forward-looking. Now, as Grottoes, he's liberated from the genre and staking an artistic claim beyond DJ culture.

With the just-released Relics of the Dead, Orlando death-doom band Druid Lord are clawing their way out of the crypt with their first new album in two years. On their second record on Midwestern metal label Hells Headbangers, these disciples of darkness offer up another full-length serving of macabre metal that keeps it ominous.

In subject, imagery and style, Druid Lord are all in on the death fetish. With its hell-bound riffs, incantatory growls and spell-conjuring guitar solos, Relics of the Dead is the rock soundtrack for a blood ceremony. It's a lurid vision of extreme teenage imagination, only manifested with adult intensity. Unlike their traditional death-metal contemporaries, Druid Lord's horror fantasy is less about simply banging your head than it is about creeping into your very soul.

Relics of the Dead is streaming everywhere but is available for digital download on Bandcamp for, naturally, $6.66.

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About The Author

Bao Le-Huu

Music columnist.
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