Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Imperial Triumphant : "Vile Luxury"

The albums begins with a great deal of literal fanfare, before going into some well done , yet cut and paste black metal that really only catching my ear when the trumpets come back in, so it more Imperial Trumpet than Triumphant.The more angular death metal with touches of jazz found on "Lower World" works better for me. The drums seem to sit back a little far in the mix. Then their is a shifting dissonance to "Gotham Luxe" that moves like brackish water and while I appreciate the dark feel of the song like free form jazz it barely manages to contain this into an actual song. "Chernobyl Blues" starts off simmering and brooding then just kinda falls back into their same old bag of tricks. This becomes the problem with these guys while they do some tricky mathy discordant black metal it all begins to sound the same which is not progressive at all unless it progresses and goes somewhere.

I find myself letting this fade into the background when I return to "Cosmopolis" . The smoky jazz of "Mother Machine" snags my interest again. If this was black metal for  a David Lynch movie I might like this album more. Things do begin to progress on "the Filth". It has a woman wailing away in the background in somewhat operatic singing. This reminds me a little of Igorr when they go about it in this fashion and it finds their zaniness working with them rather than against. They really pull it together in the last three songs as even the one with the woman screaming mindlessly at the end still works.

I think the problem this album starts off with is trying to hard. It's a concept album, though not like say "Operation Mindcrime" but conceptually tries to convey something that might be forced rather than eased into. I''l round this down to a 7.5 for the initial pretentiousness and hope to hear more that is like the last three songs from them. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Teksti-TV 666 : "Aidattu tulevaisuus"

This odd band from Finland is not just jumping on the shoe gaze band wagon they are giving the wheels a spin of their own. Where most shoe gaze tends to be slow and dreamy these guys are pretty up temp and let the guitars get spacey in the back ground as the bass and drums drive the ship. The vocals are also delivered with more of a post-punk energy rather than the more sedate breathy kind that are the norm.The kind of pop punk injection of the second gives them more of a Cure feel. My initial thought is it's a little happy. The melody has a very 80s feel.It's not until the thrid song to they finds them selves in the kind of droning groove that is set against the more typical trappings of shoe gaze that you feel like you are in more familiar territory. The guitar feels a little more like Sonic Youth in how it lays down the ground work for the vocals .

They continue band the road that's more traveled on "Severny". This has more of a Stone Roses feel. Though the first few chords hold more weight than Brit Pop and have a more My Bloody Valentine like ebbing down when the vocals come in. There is a more Led Zeppelin like pulse to the song that follows this one. It also dies down into more dreamy drift, but it does prove in the transition that their drummer has some chops. The bass leads back in with a slinky groove that the effected guitars play around. I think this song would transition well live. It swells into something more dense and sonically intense. The last song finds them racing off into a more upbeat take on 90s indie rock mixed with 80s new wave pop in the melody lost in a boozy swirl of shoe gaze guitars. +

They take enough familiar elements and polish them up before adding their own weird spin. I think this album is a more unique take on modern shoe- gaze than simply re-booting as a tribute band to Slow Dive . I'll give this one a 9 as it stays interesting, at times it can be rough around the edges and noisy, but the charm of these songs smooths even those moments over to make this a fun listen from start to finish. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Culture Abuse : "Bay Dream"

The traces of hardcore continued to be shed as the opening is a lazy British beach ballad. Even at this point calling it post-punk would be an exaggeration of the word punk. I can hear more Brit pop and new wave in the almost more 80's like sheen that is buffed out by a warm organic mix. Speaking of pop it is hooky and has more pogo in it's bounce than say the Drums, but the melodies do reach a similar zip code. The guitars come more to the forefront in "Dip" , but the novelty of what they are doing begins to lose some of it's luster by the time you get there. "Bee Kind to the Bees" is more like the Shins. The lyrics are clever and on the surface this all sounds pretty happy. There might be more than sunshine and sugar bears going on in their heads.

They almost get a mainstream of a sound as Weezer on "S'Dream". Am I referencing too many bands? Some might say this is lazy writing, I beg to differ. Since this is my blog I'll write however the fuck I feel, but if a band doesn't want to be compared to anyone then maybe they should step up their game and find their sound identifiable sound.  The lazy jangle of "California Speed Ball" cements this music for rich stoner white kids. This could easily be on the soundtrack of some teen show on the CW. Not that it's a bad song, quite the opposite. It might not be what I was expecting going into this , but they have become good at what they are doing. So it's not that this shoe doesn't fit them. I guess it's the process of getting older and becoming wiser song writers.

You can hear hints of punk on "Calm E" . The vocals have more swagger and the song is more driven by the bass. The guitar riff almost has a touch of grunge, and by grunge I mean Hole, so in it's less metallic form. "Dave's Not Here" has a touch of the Ramones if we are thinking about their happy more Beach Boys influenced pop leanings. "Dozy" just breeze by without really grabbing my attention. "Bluebird on my Shoulder" starts off as almost more of a ballad and the tempo gradually builds to the same kind of jangling pop they have been churning out the duration of this album. I'll give this album an 8.5, it succeeds in what they set out to accomplish, it just depends how high your threshold for pop is.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Skeletonwitch : "Devouring Radiant Light"

The press release said they are moving in a more black metal direction when they meant to say they were moving in a more European melodic death metal direction as evident from the harmonized melodic riffs in the verses to "When Paradise Fades" . There is some blasting at the beginning of "Temple of the Sun". It devolves into more of the a-typical thrash. Sung vocals join in a dramatic refrain before guitars return to their dizzying speed.The title track finds some of the band's most nuanced guitar work to date, though I think fans are wanting something that chews nails for breakfast. So me saying that so far this sounds like it is the band's most melodic album to date might be a turn off for some fans. If  the big palm muted verse riff was at more of a gallop it would come across like a scowling version of Amon Amarth.

This album certainly doesn't feel as dark as the previous album, but if you like your metal big and majestic then this is for you. Sometimes the vocals drop into a lower death metal like growl but general carry a more mid range sneer. When they speed up into a more high tempo thrash on "the Luminous Sky" they begin to more me. "the Vault" has a more melancholy brand of melody to it that I prefer, though when it races into the verse it's business as usual. It's marginally hooky and the lyrics are some kind of generic heavy metal apocalyptic mish mosh. It's at this point in the album where due to the fast and furious pace they feel compelled things begin to sound the same to me and the songs start to run together.

"Sacred Soil" falls back onto what they have been doing the bulk of the album so far with the growls more accented when they get to the chorus. So it ends with a formula firmly in place and their foot on the gas. I'll give this one an 8. The production is a little bright , but the guitars sound great. The bass playing is very melodic and the band is firing in the right direction I could just stand for this to be a little darker and meaner.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Birds In Row : "We Already Lost the World"

This album is a matured take on what we once called emotional hard-core. I think kids are calling it screamo these days. Call it what you want it comes across much more honest in intention than the emo of the early 2000s . Despite it's melodic set up when the album gets going it explodes with hard core anger and then rages with the desperation of punk after. When it takes off  it has a similar tension to some of Converge's more musical moments of post- hardcore. This is the French band's 2nd album which has been six years in the making. They certainly had time to get the guitar sound dialed in. "Love is Political" has more angular chaos to it , but the bass player holds it together. The vocals are more sung on the thoughtful "We Vs Us" . It maintains a tension that promises more of an emotional release than a hard core break down. I find this to be more unique as I got my fill of break downs in 1999.

"Remember Us Better Than We Are" blast into frantic motion with punk energy. The vocals stay at more of a punk shout. Around the 3 minute mark the song simmers on it's own brooding thoughts. "I Don't Dance" is a temper tantrum until it finds it pounding staccato groove.For some reason this one rages in a manner than works for me better than the previous song. "15 - 38" has a more casual indie rock saunter. Sung vocals come in and add another color as they chant the albums title in the lyrics. "Triste Sire" takes on on a punk rant, that is not my favorite side of what they do and even then it's not half bad. The impressive bass playing and passion they pursue the tempo wins me over. The bass player stays on his winning streak with the rubbery slink of "Morning". It's like a beautifully brewing storm set to music.

The album closes with the anger driven "Fossils". It gets pretty blasty for hard core, before giving way to a more melodic section, sense you can only stay angry for so long until it becomes exhausting. This melodic section is different from the others earlier in the album as it has more of a shoe gaze feel. Overall this album returns to the days when emotion and hardcore fit perfectly together. Sometimes some of the album abrasion is a temper tantrum it has to work through, but enjoyable non the less so I'll give it a 9.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Zombiefication : "Below the Grief"

 Yeah... I get the Entombed thing going on. But I hear other more traditional thrash elements worked in among the shades of black. The more melo-death Swedish guitar lines are balanced out with meaty chugs. This is the Mexican band's fourth album so one might assume they know what they are doing.  There is more of a gallop to "Deliverance From the Astral Sea". It goes in a weird direction four minutes into it's other wise powerhouse attack to indulge in a trippy bit of ambiance.The craze call of the vocals that are not as gruff or powerful as the roar employed by Entombed , begins to get a little stale by the time we are at "Echoes of Light" . The vocals really begin to pay against the band who would benefit from a lower growl on "From Death To its Son".

The turn to ebbing back into weirdness on "Heavy is the Crown" certainly breaks things up as needed and takes my mind off the redundant vocals. The more mournful riff that wants to be a chorus carries a layered stomp. The things get mushy, aside from a convincing gallop here and there the last two songs sound pretty similar . Though midway into "Sky Burial" things get broken up again with more weirdness which is certainly one of this band's strengths. The chug gets even stronger by the end of this song, though the rule around here is "cool riffs alone do not a good song make". So while it's head bang worthy,there is nothing that goes above and beyond the call of duty. 

I'll give this album a 7.5 , the vocals become a sticking point even for all the cool heavy chugs and weird horror movie like excursions into trippiness they take you on which this being my first time giving this band a shot proved to the best surprise. If you are really into the Entombed style of metal but looking for something different then this is recommended. If you are very particular about vocals I can't imagine you liking this.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Deafheaven : "Ordinary Corrupt Human Love"

The new album opens in a tone that is not metal at all with piano and post-rocky instrumentation taking a dreamy groove which the vocals eventually snarl over. Snarling doesn't instantly make things metal here or really anywhere. "Honeycomb" is more metallic. The drums punch certain accents, but until it swells I am reluctant to call it metal. The drummer has really stepped up his game that is for certain. Vocally the are back to sticking to the same snarl so far. It's his typically mid range, sometimes it sounds like he is making more of an attempt to form words than others. It's not until the chug that accents the verse going toward the three minute mark that anything heavy really happens. The drummer obviously has a hard core back ground in how he drops to half time grooves to give things more of a break down like stomp. They do cram a lot into the songs first four minutes. The second six finds a guitar solo leading into the second act. It is more melody than shred. It does ebb back down into that more atmospheric indie rock feel, and I avoid the term shoegaze here as I think that is some more hypnotic with a dense darker drone.

The first song to surface from this album "Canary Yellow" opens with a light dreamy drift. It makes me think of Explosions in the sky. After almost three minutes of this it does bust into metal. It's a more mid tempo and less furious version of what they do. The sweeping guitar melody comes into carry the song as the vocals pretty much remain in their signature scowl. At the eight minute mark this flows down into more moody indie rock passage that would not sound out of place on a Morrissey song. These guys get a lot of credit in the song writing department as they have a bunch of bands trying to jump on their band wagon, but they raise the bar and do it in a hooky dynamic manner. Granted it's also their most accessible work to date. Sung vocals come in , but stay in the background. It does give it a more emo feel.

"Near" does dip into the shoe gaze I was mentioning previously. While I have never denied it has been an influence in their sound, I don't think as a whole their roots are as connected to bands like Slow Dive or My Bloody Valentine. The clean vocals come in to make this sound more like the Stone Roses. The song that follows starts off on a similar foot, but finds it's way back to the more blasty style of "black metal" this band is known for. So the question is not is this the best black metal you have ever heard as it certainly rides the line on what most of us might consider black metal, but where does this fall in terms of what this band does. In those terms I think it marries where they went on 'Sunbather" with the more metallic leanings of the last album. I think Kerry McCoy is really coming into his own as a guitarist.

Chelsea Wolfe lends her voice to the duet "Glint" with who I assume to Clarke singing. If this is him then he has proven that he can really sing. The album closes with "Worthless Animal".  There is a little more melancholy to this one and the vocals sit  kinda of oddly in the mix, despite having mixed "Sunbather" the mix as a whole feels odd as if the mid range dominates it where if it has been a more bass friendly mix it would have been heavier. I'll give this album a 9 as it earns multiple listens , almost hard to call it a metal album, but I think it excels when it comes to guitar playing and songwriting.