Friday, October 21, 2016

Leonard Cohen : "You Want it Darker"

Aside from his 1967 album “Songs of Leonard Cohen” the only other album with Cohen on it that I have owned is the “Natural Born Killers “ soundtrack. I bought his ’67 album because it has the song “ Sisters of Mercy” on it which for a goth in 1997 seemed like something I needed to own. His influence on darker music goes well beyond that. When you hear his new album “You Want it Darker” his influence on some like Nick Cave is obvious. He is storyteller first and foremost. His gravelly baritone is weathered, but recites the lyrics with conviction that makes up for what age does to one’s voice. There is a bitter sweet tenderness to his delivery on "Treaty". Palm muted guitar opens on the level. Before the songs rises into a more gospel place.

These songs of heartbreak are a little hard to hear at where I am at right now, but the lyrics are pretty powerful. "Leaving the Table" is another solemn song that feels like country. The mix of this album is weird. His voice is close up on the mic almost whispered. The guitar is giving him at times almost too much room, stepping up into the spot light for a solo. It's very tasteful and well layered, but I could use more instrumentation getting more up close and personal with him.

While it's a well written song "If I Didn't Have Your Love" is your blue print love song that barrows from many of the conventions of country music. "Traveling Light" might remind you of the weary road he walked upon on the song "the Future" from the previously mentioned soundtrack. This song has a little more movement. "Steer Your Way" finds the lingering pace of this album picking up a little.  The strings lighten things where they have been darkening them. It's very pleasant and good change but doesn't blow my socks off. The stringed reprise of "Treaty" is more of an outro than a free standing song. I'll give this album a 9.5, because he is such a masterful song writer and has a power over his words. With that said I am not sure this is an album I will get a helluva a lot of play out of as it is not something I would put on my iPod, but I don't have any classical music on my iPod either.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mortualia :"Wild Wild Misery"

As life shits on me I think all I have the taste for is  depressive black metal and funeral doom. So this album is a breath of fresh air. At least the first song. I might get annoyed by the rough production mid way into this. This is being brought to us by Shatraug the master-mind behind Horna and Sargiest. While this doesn't do anything to re-define depressive black metal it hits all the same sorrowful notes you expect. If An Autumn For Crippled Children is too refined for you then this might be your jam. His third album with this project the vocals are suitably agonized.

The drums are this project's weak link. The are buried under the guitar and you can only hear the cymbals. "Out" finds this album begin to wear thinner on me as the songs begin to sound the same. The accents change a little but it drones on the same pulse of feedback for most of the six and a half minutes. At almost ten minutes "Emptiness of All " better expand the dynamic range of this album or it's going to drag. At the five minute mark it's still holding my attention with a throb similar to the first few post prison Burzum albums. There is more attention to detail on this one even if it's more moody vibrational shifts with the shitty garage like mix. 'Stolid" is a more feral fare, but it really doesn't do a whole lot for me as a song. I prefer the emotion that is in the title track.

"To Which Ever End" catches my ear. I am not sure there is anything dramatically different with what is being done here aside from the guitars giving the drums a little more room. The guitar on this album has more feeling in it than what I have heard from the more recent output of his other projects. "Nothing is Given" finds the pace slowing down. I'll give this album an 8 for now despite the rough production it had more moments than I expected going into this.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Madder Mortem : "Red in Tooth and Claw"

This Norwegian  hard rock band is slathered in 90's Alternative. I can hear plenty of Guano Apes and Skunk Anansie in the way the vocal melodies weave around the guitar riffs. The more Nightwish power ballad comes a little too soon in the album and kills the momentum of the first song. They go a more middle of the road route with "Fallow Season", which is a slight disappointment after the impression they made on the opening track. This fits more with the modern rock rock formula that has evolved a little since the days of nu-metal. While it's not as heavy I think "Pitfalls" is well written and comes across like a cross between Joni Mitchell and the Gathering.

In the broadest sense of the term, you could try to argue "All the Giants are Dead", but it certainly doesn't fit what we consider doom here. This song does think out of the box and has some jazz like qualities to the drumming. I can also draw comparisons to Sleepy Time Gorilla Museum on this song if we are talking about some of the stuff Carla sang on. There is a darker almost Siouxsie like turn on "Returning to the End of the World". Though this does ramp up into the more typical rock sound. "Parasites" tries to use blast beats to convince you that they are indeed a metal band. I can't imagine anyone who owns a Darkthrone album would say "Oh, yeah that is totally black metal" .

There is a more elegant cadence to "the Whole Where you Heart Belongs". The last two songs both stick closer to the standard rock format with the last song 'Underdogs" being the better of the two.I'll give this album a 7.5, there are some songs I really liked, but it's inconsistent and they need to shake themselves free of their fetish for radio rock. The window for them belonging on rock radio passed over a decade ago alongside Lacuna Coil.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Planes Mistaken For Stars : "Prey"

These guys were always ahead of their time and finds music of today coming a little closer to meeting them in the middle. There has always been an unhinged side to the band and this is what the new album opens with. "Til it Clicks" is less explosive, but more of what I want from this band. The darker melody hangs around on "Riot Season" even after the pace picks up. The yowls of self loathing still haunt Jared's gravelly vocals riding the line between screaming and singing. The guitar to "Fucking Tenderness" carries some melody before tightening the tension. The vocals fill the spaces in the song perfectly and the band touching perfectly on all their trademarks without feeling like this song is any less urgent than it is.

The guitar have more of a clanging jangle on "She Who Steps". This is more of a punk song despite being longer than some of the other more melodic songs. Three and a half minutes in it breaks down into a moody exploration. The build in this song might make you check to see if your speakers are blown. Their ability to convey emotion hit you hard on "Clean Up Mean" , which is the first song that really blows my socks off. It's very powerful. "Black Rabbit" finds them stripping it down to just an acoustic. If memory serves me Jared was pulling off these husky vocals back when Neurosis was still roaring all the time. The hit a more sonic heaviness on "Pan In Flames" than reminds me more of the pre-"Up In them Guts" days.

"Enemy Blinds" has more calm in it's storm. It locks in an drones into the nervous break down that doesn't really come until the next song. You can hear hints of how post- rock might have influenced these guys while they were gone. "Alabaster Cello" doesn't really sound like anything they have done before. I 'll easily give this one a 10 as they are back in fine form and not standing stagnant in the legend of yesterday.

  fg12                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  643

Black Tomb : " s/t "

The time of year has begun when I begin to look under every tombstone in search of the elusive metal albums I might have missed over the course of the year. This one I am not too far behind on. It is a rawer entry in the annuls of doom. The nasty spew of the vocals is very Graves at Sea, but the guitar melodies have a more doom in their intent and some times wander around in a more Sabbath like manner. They stay away from the graveyards, as more of a bulldozing pace is built up on "Eyes of Midnight". Though this song has a very similar rumble to the previous on with the drumming left as the main element to differentiate the two. This leaves a very small margin of difference.  "Swine" finds the band rearing up out of doom into a more grime ridden take on Eyehategod's brand of sludge.

After an interlude of feed back and samples "Draped In Flesh" is more deliberate and emotionally visceral. "Lust and Saturn" relies on it's riffs as the vocals are not doing anything new and the guitar solos , sounded better then first time we heard them jam out. So at this point into their album I am looking for something more dynamic. What they are doing is no bad it's just turning into a wall of overdrive fading into the background. There is a darker feel to "Turning Worm", but we are still lumbering over the same sonic ground. The album ends with the 13 minute "Church on the Hill". Up to this point the stakes had not been as high since expectations for the range of dynamics to be covered in the shorter songs was not as high. But when you bang out the same riff for thirteen minutes it gets a little redundant.

I'll give these guys a 6 as they have a good sound and i appreciate what they do. However I already own Graves at Seas albums and Eyehategod's albums, so there is not any space on my iPod for this brand of doom, which is more sludge than it is doom. If you are looking for more fuzz that goes up to 11, then this is another nugget for collection of loud.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

White Lies : "Friends"

There are a few things going on. First is the are the more radio friendly version of new wave, then they also sounds like the Killers, but there is a slight hint of Inxs thrown. "Morning in LA" is even more radio friendly than the first song. When you are making this kind of music the hooks to your choruses have to be air tight and I think the verses to "Hold Back Your Love" work better than the choruses, so that is problematic."Don't Want to Feel it All" is slower, but not yet a ballad, would work in a John Hughes movies and the groove is pretty solid. "Is My Love Enough" has the beats redeeming some of the more stagnant moments.It comes across more like Roxy Music which I am fine with.

Midway into the album it's still hit or miss with "Summer Didn't Change a Thing" playing it too safe, to the point of almost boring me. There is a colder pulse to "Swing" .  "Come On" is another case where the chorus is underwhelming. You are waiting for the song to kick in longer than you you should. Even when the guitar joins in it feels like to little to late, though going into the second verse there are some really cool guitar tones. They eventually swell up into a more Killers like refrain, playing both sides of the retro motif. "Right Place" flows a little better. The synth bass line in this one is call and makes the most of the baritone croon over it.

This is purposefully not the most original album, but it does have a certain charm to it. I'll give it an 8. If you were a fan of the 80's resurgence that happened in the early 2000s with bands following in the foot steps of Interpol, then you will dig what is going on here.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Black Table : "Obelisk"

I am not sure I would clearly define this band from New York as being black metal. Blast beats do show up upon occasion, but are not the sole force propelling these songs, even when they are at their most raging. We have a dark hybrid of many styles meeting and none of them trying to be as cool as the other metal bands from New York work so hard at. Thanks to Billy Anderson this album sounds good. The production really complements the depth of their dynamics. They start off dark and dynamic then things get murkier going into "Helm" and I am a little less invested and unsure where one song is beginning and the other is ending. There are some decent melodic riffs that help provide a path for me to figure this out, but in some sense it seems like they are just jamming at this point. It almost feels more like sludge at this point that black metal. The guitar work going into "Shadow" reminds me of one to the calm before the storm lead in's that Metallic made famous and was later used by tons of thrash bands in the 90s.

At this point it time to address the tortured pig squeal to the vocals. Typically these are layered against a lower growl. I'll give this props as it is a different approach to vocals rather than the growls you have heard on hundreds of death metal albums. It might not be every one's taste, but I appreciate the inhuman quality it adds. The dark pulse of melody that makes this album unique continues to flow through "Gargantua". I would not say this is really a post -rock moment the band has but a crossroads where atmosphere and emotion meets the song in a very convincing manner.  They drop down into a more doom like simmer going into "Cromagnon". The vocals are whispered here and the song drips out of the corners of shadow to slowly congeal. Moving at a more deliberate pound like this the band finds new power in this more emotive assault. It also make when they do speed up into a blasty section more effective.

They build the tension while hammering you with a mean fucking riff on "Homo Ergaster". They back down and ride the bass riff. They get things a sonically heavy as it is heavy metal with a juciey coat of  darkness draping it , so all the basis are covered here. They also cover way more ground in one song than half of the bands who drag things out for fifteen droning minutes. I'll round this up to a 10 it's one of the more impressive metal releases I have heard recently.