Saturday, November 30, 2013

Corrections House : " Last City Zero"

Its odd to form a super groups comprised only of front men, but that is what this project of sludge forefathers has done. It's members include Scott Kelly of Neurosis, Mike Williams of Eyehategod, Bruce Lamont of Yakuza and Sanford Parker Nachtmystium and Minsk. It opens much like you would expect an industrial tinged jam between these bands to go. Obviously the percussive elements is not the projects focus or one of them would have brought along their drummer.It is more organic than I expected it would feel.

Mike Williams handles most of the screaming , spoken words elements like this is the Doors if they had come from the heroin ghettos of New Orleans rather than San Francisco. Thing do show a more Ministry side on "Bullets and Graves" which hammers in with more focus of the grim wretch Eyehategod styled singing, which when I hear it here tells me Eyehategod was obviously an influence on Nachtmystium. The vocals are filtered through a distortion, rather than relying on just Williams acidic throat. The song is pretty straight forward. The album does have a many shades to it, "Party Leg and Three Fingers" has almost a Through Silver and Blood feel to it, very apocalyptic with the programmed drums firing off life guns behind Kelly's ominous playing.Being one of the main creative forces behind Neurosis Kelly had perfected the art of the heavy drone back when Sunno))) was still studying their Black Sabbath albums.

The guitar takes on more of a Death In June strum on " Run Through the Night" Lamont's sax haunts the background where it lurks for most of the album, with Kelly handling most of the actual singing , in more of a Nick Cave like baritone. The industrial feeling gurgles up from the bleak sonic landscape of "Dirt Poor and Mentally Ill". It drone on the verse riff with a little dynamic , just Williams screaming low in the mix, the drum machines here could have stood to have cranked even with the guitars, the riff doesn't wander into more melodic places until about halfway into the song, when a spoken word section comes in.It shifts slightly under neath the rant.Pushing agenda harder than even Skinny Puppy who at least keeps their's coated in creepiness.

"Hallows of the Stream" feels more like an interlude than an actual song. The title track is another spoken word social rant , which is heavy handed lyrically but alright for what it is."Drapes Hung By Jesus" closes the album out, after some ambient noise it chugs into an industrial groove that support Lamont's sax solo, which takes its biggest step into the spot light before some more angry spoken word section arise. I'll give this album an 8, as its well crafted even though the spoken words parts just don't do it for me they sound like Malcom X's take on Acid Bath lyrics. But this album is worth checking out if you are a fan of any of the bands whose members contribute to this.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Narrow Lands: " Popular Music That Will Live Forever"

Off the bat this band from Sydney hits like an industrial strength Jesus Lizard, and by industrial I mean Ministry infused. bands like Battilus, who are leaving the the myspace cyber dreads at home and bring back industrial by way of sludge are in the same sub division as these guys. Though this bands from the first song needs a luittle help with dynamics and song writing as they tend to take one riff and drone on that . The bass line to "Whores Rule" help solve this problem to some extent as they swerve off from the mechanical punishment to serve up some Amp Rep still abrasion.

When they gather the momentum they can distract you from the simplistic compositional structures. The staccato thumping of "Usefulness" is pretty useful to create a very Godflesh vibe, which is the influence that is marrying sludge to industrial. They slow things down for the intro to " gifted children" then bring it back up into a frantic tension, that is more post-punk in feel. The song sounds like it could have built into more of an explosion but halts in its track rather jarringly.

The noisy post-punk feeling continues on "blue blood" the distorted vocals sit back into the fuzzy density of the mix.They hit you with some really thick heavy riffage in the last couple of minutes. The vocals keep a calm monotone for most of the album resisting the urge to scream in order to match the violence stirred around them. "Black Blood" is understandably more abrasive. It begins with scraping noise and remains just an interlude. "December clone " starts off as a clone of another riff they used and goes into a drunken jazz like passage. It coils around it self in a more militant manner, to hammer at you like the Jesus Lizard or even the Butthole Surfers.

The album closes out with "invitation" it opens with a self indulgent  laze of ambient noise and various forms of feedback. At the two minute mark the album most industrial beat comes in. This drone on for another two minutes , not what you want to listen to if you are hung over. The more subdued but tense clean guitar riff comes in with a Killing Joke like vocal chant over the top of it all. The guitar playing here gets very Nine Inch Nails, think more With Teeth, than Downward Spiral, more jangle than metal, until it explodes into a vomitous noise, that pounds at you like older Swans. I will give this album an 8.5, it shows a lot of potential that needs to be realized in more dynamic songwriting, but I like where these guys are coming from and fans of industrial who are looking for where the genre is changing with the times need to be aware of this trend.      

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Dumb Numbers - s/t

This super group of 90's indie rock sensations was assembled by film maker Andy Harding who brought on board members of  Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh, Dead River, the Melvins,  and Best Coast. Though the live band stays at a four piece consisting of Murph (of Dinosaur Jr.), Bonnie Mercer, and Pete Lyman. In the studio the band lumbers into the first song with a much heavier payload of feedback behind them.

On "Strange Beauty" the vocals  remind me more of Elliot Smith if he has sung for a rock band. The despondency that they often emotes if their best quality.  This more melodic approach works better for the band, and juxtaposes the beefier guitar tones these guys are trying out for this project. The strummed guitar in this is slightly grungy reminding me of Nirvana.

The lazy indie dirge of "Last Night I had a Dream" find the lyrics holding more weight to them than the sluggish guitar supporting them. The more straight up rock approach to " Lost Inside" feels like more unwieldy Queens of the Stone Age  or for that matter a less desert blues take on Kyuss. The song is elevated above the stoner vibe the vocals. They have a weary and desperate drone.

"Redrum" sounds like a Elliot Smith  meets 70's rock, it's dark as Bloodrock or any of the Sabbath imitators that came out after 1973. The melody is subdued and shadowy, it creeps along the edges of the riff.  The melancholy of "The Broken Promise" has the morning after drinking remorse to it, dark and introspective, the vocals fade in against a simple piano melody.It sounds like this song should build into something more rather than just serving as an interlude.

The songs get better as the album progresses,"Evil Has Grown" lives up to its name and takes a creeping understated sinister tone to it and  "Without" is the perfect disillusioned break up song. The lyrics are great and this time the somber drone of the melody provides an incredible back drop to set them against. I'll give this album a 9.5 as the moods invoked seem to fit mine pretty perfectly and the band achieves a great balance of melody and song writing not weighed down by the sludge leanings.

Valdur: " At War With"

West coast metal maulers are back and even more brutal than their last album. The album opens with a return to the more death metal elements of their sound. It is typical in the sense that it is powerful enough to keep your attention through sheer pounding ,but can they keep it up with less black metal here and more death metal?

 The drumming is top notch, the vocals are the weak link sticking to a lower roar. The eerie hint of melody on "Death Winds Will Cleanse" restores my faith in their songwriting after the first song, as I had braced my self for just a dense beating. This song gives that but also establishes a catchy groove to the verse riff. The verses are still more deathly than black. The very Incantation rumble of "Incantre" really brings this fact to the forefront. The sampled sections create the needed ambiance preceding songs like " Vast" this song has the first sense of sweeping sonics that differentiate black metal and proves to band the bands strongest suit

"At War With the Old World" takes on a more death metal like tone, it keeps an equal balance of dark and epic before it reverts to the blast. The beat slows into a more formed riff midway through."The Calm Before the War" wastes little time wasting time in a frantic blast. This finds the bands up against the judgment around here that cool riffs don't make a song."Hellish Discord" takes on a more ambient dissonance in its blasting that is more typical of black metal."Hammer Pit" takes a more deliberate pace, more death metal than not , it's a decent song amidst the blasting breaks. Digging its claw in on a heavy chug mid way through. Once the song reaches the three minutes mark even at this speed it feels like it drags. The outro is pretty much more of the same blasting, but the  riff is a little more melodic, but not enough to provide the dynamics this album needs.

This album doesn't quite reach the balance of great metal metal they found  on Raven Go Among Us", I'll give it a 6.5 as I have enjoyed their past work so am a little disappointed in the more death metal direction they have gone.

Valdur - "Vicious Existence" Bloody Mountain... by BlankTV

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hollow Sunshine: "Held Above"

This California duo is a very intriguing mix of influences there is a much metal mixed in as their is droney shoe gaze, but not in the same manner that say Alcest blends the two.There is more doom to them , so much the label doom-pop is often applied. The lazy melodies of the too hip to care vocals keep these riffs from dragging and accent the spaciousness. On the title track the guitars continue to ring out with a fuzzy warmth allowing the vocals to keep up their slacker swoon over the rest of the song. The guitar riffs are pretty interesting on this album, no math rock, just catchy smart playing.

One of the albums heavier moments is when the song " Here For Now" lurches out of the feed back, the drums are hit with determination as the riff drones on, building up into the chorus. I liked this sort of thing back in the 90's so its charm is not lost on me. "Indifference" is slow and lumbering but sonic like a more relaxed version of Hum.  

When the tempo picks up on" Lost of Phrases" it brings the more indie rock elements to the forefront, with the bass and fuzzed undertones of guitar to do most of the heavy lifting as the rest of the song, strolls in the same neighborhood as say Sebadoh. The crawling dreaminess of "New Light" reminds me of the first Remy Zero Album. The vocal lines are simple but effective.

The opening to "Old Light" finds the guitar with a little more twang to it, before it stumbles into one of the albums heavier moments with the grace of Jesu. "Safe Below" almost has too much space and lacks the same magnetism the other songs are held together with. Its not until the build in the songs final two minutes that it seems to pay off. The album ends on a much more straight forward note than , I expected, "Want of Denial: isn't a bad song, its just comparison to some of the tightly written songs earlier in the album it feel a tad like the easy way out.I will round this one up to a 9.5 , because even though I have heard this sort of thing before it has been a while and these guys do it well.


Selim Lemouchi & His Enemies : "Earth Air Spirit Water Fire"

It's o.k you don't have to mourn the loss of the Devil's Blood, the new release by the band's mastermind Selim Lemouchi , picks up where the band left off. The album is a move into a an even more organic and jammy direction than Devil's Blood. The high light of the album is his guitar playing as he is one of the best players out there today.

Before you expect the total second coming of The Devil's Blood, the opener "Chiaroscuro"lets you know it's not exactly the case. Milko Bogaard shares vocal duties with the Lemouchi clan. This creates a minor key harmony on the vocals that conjures up Alice In Chains like vibrations. In addition to Bogaard, The band consists of ... drummers, Ries Doms,Micha Haring,Hans van de Perre and Hansz Deijnen. No word on if this is the touring lineup, as the band had three guitarists in the past but I can't imagine that many drummers on stage at once, so these are more than likely session guys per track. The bass duties are filled out by Job van de Zande, with additional guitars and f/x lent by Robby Geerings and Oeds Beydals.

"Next Stop Universe B" is like a more Dark side of the Moon like shuffle, think Money if covered by a more psychedelic Alice in Chains. It builds into the drive of "One of These Days" sort of thing , which is one big difference from Devils Blood is it is much more Pink Floyd than Jefferson Airplane.

They take a darker turn on "The Deep Dark Water" the vocals take on a more mysterious tone,is a better description than calling it goth as it touches on a Syd Barret era Pink Floyd, which is arguably one of goth's earliest influences. The seven minutes of ambient noise that comprises " The Ghost of Valentine" isn't really a song and seems an odd inclusion, but oh well.

"Molasses" pours out slowly with a moog dripping over an elastic bass line. The song floats in a more fiery air than Pink Floyd, though it does remind me of something "Obscured By Clouds" . This introductory jam coast on for around four minutes, when it coagulates from his sister's vocals, the tempo picks up into more of a Zeppelin pace, if we are thinking "In Through the Out Door" one of the best guitar solos  I have heard this year pulls it altogether. His playing is fluid and precise knowing when to pull the shred out at the right moment. I'll give this one a 10 easy , hard to say which is better this or the last the Devil's Blood album, I think the song writing and production here are more fully realized, the playing and conceptual ele,emts to these jams are pretty breath taking as far as the sonics go.

Monday, November 25, 2013

ævangelist:"omen ex simulacra"

There is still some creative metal coming out of the states this two man project  from Portland  is so experimental I expected to find out they were from France. This is black metal influenced death metal with a weird coating of ambiance over it.  

I'm of the mind set than nay intro longer than the beginning of "Shout at the Devil"or "Them" is too long so the four minutes leading into "Veils" is a little much but is compensated by the fact the haunting ambiance carries over into the real song.  Once the actual song rumble to life ,it is low and throbbing like it was recorded in a cavern in the lowest depths of Hell. They weight and depth of it is so impressive like many metal albums, the first song always impresses , then its can they keep it up for an entire album.

"Mirror of Eden" thrives on a more chaotic current than the album opened with , though the low end sepulchral nature of it still growls up at you. The drums real or programmed beat around the throb of the song in an almost jazz like manner at times. In the final two minutes the find a pretty powerful groove. The vocal are pretty varied going from shrieks to croaks to Sub- Cannibal Corpse lows.

When "Hell Synthesis" comes together it is not unlike most death metal aside from the ghostly craziness that haunts the edges of the song, creating ambient noise. They are redefining death metal as much as setting in it a haunted house. "The Devoured Aeons of Stygian Eternity" blast forward in a pretty single minded manner, these guys keep things dark and murky at all times , the snare does hit the annoying straight forward pattern I don't care for in this song, but the predominant riff that devours most of the track often overshadows it.

They keep pounding the point home with "Prayer For Ascetic Misery" which almost becomes a cacophonous mess, until it slows down. The blur of the beating continues on " Relinquished Destiny" , while I enjoy the layers these guys use the song writing could use some work.The syncopation shift is the song's high point. "Seculsion" gives a similar battering, causing the albums dynamic range to narrow.  

The albums ends with the 13 minute "Abysscape' which is strongest when it keeps to a more doom like pacing, rather than stumble over it's tempo in acceleration. The band gets points for capturing this brand of darkness and ambiance, the vocals shift into more of a croak as the low gurgle gets weary after some time. I am not sure this song is justified in its length, as I found myself looking at the clock by the eight minute mark. I will give this album a 7 on its creative merits alone, but as a whole I'm not sure its something I am going to get much play out of aside from the initial overwhelming burst of heavy most metal albums give you.If you are bored with your everyday death metal though it might be what you need if you  are prone to depression.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Up From the Underground : Michael Cullen "Love Transmitter"

This Australian singer song writer has teamed up with the Church's producer Tim Powles, to put together one of the more convincing New Wave revival albums of the year. It is moody just where it needs to be, and retains hooks the current crop of the post-punk resurgence, tends to forget. 

The album opener "Do You Believe" rolls in with the dark clouds. Cullen's vocals evoke Byran Ferry in his more "Love is the Drug" midrange. The fact the bass sits under the guitar and synths, make it less post- punk like the Cure and a more new-wave sound. His voice drops down into his more Nick Cave lower register on "Tidal Wave". There is a more sonic dissonance  to "All Used Up" that is more Gary Numan than Joy Division to me, though the taunt guitar line is trying to capture that kind of tension. 

More often than not the album is either post-punk and New Wave , rather goth. Though we hold the bar pretty high for goth around here, post-punk is more fitting way to describe what Cullen does as he lacks the blatant bat cave creepiness. The keyboards that coat the back frequently touch on melodies  not out of place on a post- Pornography Cure album, but  they add solemn ambiance rather than anything with a predilection towards Halloween. There is an Echo and the Bunnymen, laziness to the melody of  "Hey Sister" that drifts by. 

The guitar constricts around "Transmission"  creates a drone not unlike indie rock bands who pull from similar influences like Interpol and Arcade Fire. The lyrics to this song seem autobiographic in regards to the personal issues that inspired this darker dip into songwriting. This honesty is refreshing. The soul baring lyrics set this apart from younger bands who are angst ridden to keep up appearances, you can't fake hard living. I don't want my misery manufactured, but dished out in these cathartic doses.

 "Spill" finds Cullen falling back on the bass line with a baritone narrative, and going back into the Nick Cave mode. I like the lyric "You think you are different honey/ the world's full of girls like you" . This song has an almost blues like swagger to it. There's a woozy wavering to "Chinese Hammer" that makes me think of what it might sound like if Leonard Cohen wrote a song for a David Lynch soundtrack.  Though while I appreciate the ambiance here, I think this is the albums least focused song, on an album where the songs are otherwise pretty air tight. 

Some of the albums best guitar work appears on "Professional Entertainers" . An upbeat song with an indie rock vibe, rather than sonic tension that appears earlier on the albums. He lowers his voice back down into the straight ahead sardonic humor of "One is Still My Number". The later half of the album gets more upbeat, bringing to mind bands like Television. 

The album ends on a more morose tone, back in the more Roxy Music meets New Order vein, synths whispering in the back ground. I enjoy his more plaintive vocal tones, though appreciate the varied vocal colors on the album. The Nick Cave voice at times feels like he is playing more of a role, but not to the point of where he loses the albums identity, so in that respect he pulled it off rather admirably. If you an equal dose of 80's flavored pop hooks and new wave to you post-punk, with less emphasis on the punk than this is the album for you. I really enjoyed it is as it fit my mood perfectly today, so color me gray without an overdose of morose and file this under highly recommended.          


Up From the Underground: Ximena Borges's Joyful Noise

I am more of a winter Solstice guy than X-mas, though I have a three year old who likes Christmas lights and and the thought of a big fat elf monger bringing toys, so it's celebrate it at least a Jack Skellington sense. So it wasn't until the second song that I realized this was a X-mas album. Ximena is pretty easy on the eyes so while perusing her Bandcamp page, I was distracted from this fact, though aware I was listening to very different arrangement of the Little Drummer.

This is an X-mas album for people who hate X-mas music. Lets face it the holidays are pretty goth as they have the highest suicide rates of the year, so the X-mas music that is piped in at the mall and on every radio station not twerking it after Thanksgiving is pretty depressing and not in the Morrissey way we like around here. This collection of acapella X-mas songs from around the world for the most part strays from the more conventional versions, with the exception of "Amazing Grace".

Ximena is an opera singer based out of New York, who funded this album through a Kickstarter campaign, so was pretty passionate about making this happen."Crunchy Drummer Boy" is not unlike some Rahzel and Mike Patton might have done if Peeping Tom covered this traditional choral or more playful version of what Bjork did on "Medulla". She seems to have fun on songs where she sets aside the hollow tone of technical operatic singing and explores the rang of sounds she can create with her voice. Some of the bell like chiming of her upper register reminds my of Elizabeth Fraiser of the Cocteau Twins.

Their is a slight Kate Bush like theatrical quality to Ximena's approach to " Oh Tannenbaum". It takes on a swanky 1940's jazz swing. "Divin Enfant" find the backing ground vocalizations creating a dripping blanket of ghostly snow flakes for the more traditional vocal to sit upon. I like the mournful quality to both this song and the somber tone of "Nino Lindo" which finds itself encircles more playful vocal accompaniment to provide a sonic juxtaposition . It captures what I feel to be the feeling of this season, the darkness of winter, that brings melancholy off set but the childhood wonderment.

The more experimental world music elements returns with the bossa nova elements in "Ana Viejo". The more operatic tone returns to her voice for "Christmastime is Here", though a dreamy jazz like quality echoes in the voices she paints around herself. The album continues to take a world tour though the various cultural expression of the holiday songs on "Luna Timbosa" though when it comes to labeling this world music, keep in mind she samples from much different flavors than say Dead Can Dance, even though this album has melancholy reflective moments its by no means dark.

"Noche de Bach" is her take on "Silent Night" and it's pretty faithful in terms of melody and arrangement. "Santa Baby" is far from the Madonna version, though it retains the ragtime sultry nature. Her take on "Amazing Grace" which I don't normally think of as a holiday song, has enough soul in it to be a convincing performance of the gospel classic. She has a great voice and her experimentations with her voice have paid off in this passion project that is worth your time, if  the normal X-mas fare doesn't cut it for you. Would like to her her voice put to use in her future endeavors which I hope are just as adventurous.I normally hate X-mas music so for her to sway me is a testament to what she has crafted.      

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Up From the Underground: Slack Armada

If you are a regular reader here, then you are probably  aware of the wide reaching influence the sub-genre of 90's alternative rock called shoe gaze. Shoe-gaze has in recent years seeped it's narcotic tendrils into indie rock and metal . Having been a fan of this sort of thing in my drug addled youth, it's resurgence , if even at an underground level makes me pretty pleased. The self titled Ep by Chicago's Slack Armada, brings the shoe gaze influence into new musical territory,  infusing it into electronica . It's done much more gracefully than you would expect.

James Hrabak is the mastermind behind this moving tapestry of otherworldly sonics called Slack Armada.The album simmers to life in the dreamlike state of  "Rebirth". A subtle down-tempo pattern holds the songs foundation for opiate sheen of guitars that ring out. The song ebbs back down to the pulse of the bass line, before it takes on new form riding an astral groove.      

 On "Your Majesty" the passages of synth strings at times flow like something from a Tangerine Dream album. Hitting the same uplifting places that older Sigur Ros does, but where the Icelandic bands stays in more of a fairy wonderland, this album feels more like an intergalactic exploration.  There is an undercoating of electronic bleeps and glitched twinkles floating below the surface."if" you were going to get stoned and drive around looking at X-mas lights next week, this would be the perfect sound track for that endeavor.

Though be forewarned before embarking on a psychedelic exploration that the beginning of this EP seems to encourage make sure your foot is not on the gas when the 3rd song starts up.  The moving thump of the bass line to "Looper" jarred me from the trance like state the beginning of the album has held me in.

There is a more dance like vibe to "Escape Velocity" the high hat tinged "  The more wavering tremolo associated with the more My Bloody Valentine influenced brands of shoe-gaze bubbles to the surface midway through the song. This transition is smooth despite being the least expect direction you might suspect the song is going in, which is why it creates such a striking dynamic. The droning abrasion that My Bloody Valentine touches upon, is invoked but in a much smoother fashion to bring the song to a close.

Hrabak has woven together some great sounds, the EP is pretty pristine in production. It holds up in terms of quality to any of the heavy hitter crafting this sort of thing. It is one of those albums you can leave on repeat and not notice that you have been listening to it all after noon, so it doesn't demand repeat listens as much as it lulls you into them. The use of the shoe gaze elements seems like a natural introduction and never forced even though they are implemented in a some what surprising manner in terms of dynamics.

Monday, November 18, 2013

An Autumn For Crippled Children : "try not to destroy everything you love"

This mystery band from the Netherlands, released its 4th full length and it continues down the road away from Depressive Suicidal Black Metal. Though its album does not strike me a as being as post-rock as the last and a few shades darker. The Cure influence  seems to be more prominent than the Russian Circles. On the track "The Woods are on Fire" the utilize sounds that affirm their love for My Bloody Valentine, but I would not say this throws them in the same bandwagon as the other black gaze bands and shoe gaze is just one element present on this album.

They have much keener eyes for the details in the composition and take the songs in more unexpected direction rather than their old song writing formulas which was to drone one melody to its grave. Their are heavier moments on this album than we have heard from them in recent memory, "never complete" is sonically heavy and has a thick coat of sorrow to drown you in. The vocals are the most metal element of the music, but unlike the previous album their are heavy moments they just aren't metal ones.

The title track starts off with blatant electronic elements, not trying to hide the fact they are using drum machines and a very chilled out sound.The sample underneath sounds like something from a Smiths album, while most of the other elements are like 80's Cure. The screams are layered under a coat of distortion and find them selves buried under the synths. It ebbs and flows from these more post-rock guitar sections before blaring back at you in the end.

The breezy glide into the night sky on " hearts of light" is the first song that bears any similarity to their early work, though it is clear the production is coated in the shoe gaze like distortion rather than their older more metallic sound. The vocals sound like they are being screamed with more anguish than ever before as they lay under more denser layers. "Sepia Mountains For Her Lament" sounds just like the title, the drums take on a more metal feel as double bass accents the swells.

The dizzy intro to "Closer" starts off with a much different  feel than what the bands has done before, an upbeat tempo that never settles into the melancholy. In the songs final minute black metal returns in a fast and soaring manner than doesn't rely on blast beats. They dial this back for  moment in "avoiding winter" that starts off with a twinkle and begins to build in intensity through out even allowing for a electronic style break that is just one of the albums many moments that don't sound like anything they have done before.

The post -rock lead into "starlit spirits" finds the band once again in familiar territory, but after they have spoiled us so much with some of the innovation on this album it feels like a step back.I'll give this album a 9 as its an improvement from the last though the drone of the shoe gaze fuzz at times weighs it down , this is still and impressive piece of work.      

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Psyclon Nine : Order of the Shadow Act 1

This is the San Fran band's final album, so there's no second act. I did not give these guys a shot until, clicking around on Spotify one day because I had had always assumed them to sound like they looked which is a bunch of pretty boys from, and lumped them in with the other bands from the Myspace era like Motionless in White. While the black metal tag gets thrown around a lot with these guys, I think it is safe to say that regular readers here who know their metal will all confer this is not black metal. It is pretty decent industrial metal,  ignoring the fact this sort of thing died with Fear Factory. They wail on into a vacuum and some how managed to not sound like dated mall metal.

They pick where they left off on "We the Fallen" the syncopation is a tad heavier on the opening track. The screechy vocals are a static layer over the dense chug. They avoid most of the radio clichés the genres forefather's used in terms of hooks, though the call and response on the verse of "Suffer Well" has echoes on Marilyn Manson to it. But this type of smarter song writing is a welcome departure from the vocalist doing variation of the same pattern like the previous album. The song crescendos into several wrathful cheers.

The trash tinged "Glamour Through Debris" delivers a riff that reminds me of the more metallic moments from Front Line Assembly during the 90's. It breaks down into an apocalyptic drum march and builds up using restraint rather than just going for the throat again. The album sounds great and the production is just what they need. The machine like white noise at the beginning of "Use Once and Destroy" transitions nicely into the fuzzed out synth of the verse. The songs are a lot catchier than what I have heard from the band previous to this release, they could use a slightly wider dynamic range , as aggression seems to be the only color they are painting these songs with most of the time. The exception to this rule comes by way of " the Saint and the Valentine" where they switch over to an acoustic guitar and clean vocals for the verse, not unlike Stabbing Westward and use the soft to loud formula. It's done effectively and provides a more melodic balance the album needs.

From the static "Remains of Eden" buzzes to life in a way that remind me of Author & Punisher at first before the more familiar vocal cadence emerges. It is well executed because normally I require a hint of more melody but the robotic crunch keeps me listening. Though the songs drones at the half way mark, it still manages some cohesion as it tests my tolerance for noise.Which might be weird because Skinny Puppy is one of my favorite bands and they use a shade more abrasion on albums like Rabies.

The title track lingers on its intro almost two minutes before kicking into what is a fairly straight forward militant drive.The pulse to the beat in the final minutes of this one is more like overdriven edm, if you really want to count straws.This is probably the most dynamically flat song on the album but even then it's not half bad.

I like the coat of darkness that hangs over everything and it takes center stage on the more Skinny Puppy feeling of "Take My Hand While I Take My Life" that is one of my favorite songs on the album, I like the guitar  melody haunting the chorus.While it's cluttered with noisy little interludes I'm not counting qas songs, since they are not taking up the space on my iPod, I'm sorry this is the bands last album as they are really growing as song writers , I'll round this one up to a 9.5.    


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Cara Neir: "Portals to a Better, Dead World"

This two man project out of Texas, caught my attention with the hype they were getting around the blog underground, and they are one of the few acts that lived up to the hype. They defy labels accept for metal, though have the most in common with the more out of the box brand of American black metal, like Woe and Liturgy. There is a black metal sneer to the vocals , but the music has a more punk propulsion. But even when i say punk, its the more indie rock snarling style that is coming up these days rather than Black Flag.

The angular ring to the guitars of "Closing Doors" make me think of Litugy, but these guys are much less apologetic for being metal. Just because they add math to the acrobatics doesn't mean their is a lack of teeth.They don't let the frantic momentum hinder them from writing smart songs either.

The Converge influence I  suspected doesn't become more apparent until "Red Moon Foreboding" . The riffs retain the similar balance of unhinged chaos in their angular attack. The vocal at times go into more of a hardcore bark, that goes more core than not when the song builds, but even for black metallists I don't consider it a band thing ,as it 's good music and works with where the tempest is blowing the song.

The back off to build the mood on "Dust Collector" , the guitar takes a cleaner tone and the builds up into more of an indie rock jangle before taking off , when it does this moment a few other sprinkled through the album, I guess could be called screamo, but they remind me more of when emo wasn't about hair cuts but referred to bands like Appleseed Cast and Planesmistakenforstars, the playing continues to ebb and flow through this dynamic, but has a disjointed ugliness even in the tenderness.

The Converge like feral explosion marries black metal to whatever type of core you would refer to Converge as , I suppose metal, as it is more metal than punk in its intent. This is one of the more straightforward songs on the album as the tempos are more in your face with less jerky math. Then from there the album gets darker and explores a wider dynamic range.

The bass drives you into "Exalting the Shadow Proprietor" which stomps in with a death metal like feel to it, the chords are darker , more ominous and more metal.The bass line is the only element that doesn't seem like they are just trying on their more metal hat, as it does somewhat discard the identity the band created for themselves until the more jangly guitar comes in behind the solo. The lower vocals are cool for the fact the singer stays in the same screaming rage up until this point.

The album's darkest and moodiest moment comes with "3,580 lbs" that closes the album out, the songs breathes allowing space, in a similar manner that Blut Aus Nord does, clean vocals seep in through the empty spaces, the growls are lower in more of the singer's death metal register.The solo at the end of the song is really well written. I'll give this album a 9.5, the only thing keeping it from being perfect, is I was not a hundred percent convinced of the metal hat worn in "Exhalting..." and the song before that one is a little to straight forward and could have used more of their personality, but other than that this is a wonderful album that lives up to the hype.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Deicide - In the Minds of Evil

I wonder what 16 year old me would think about this record. He loved Deicide , I'm betting  some of the grooves would have made him head bangingly happy, he would have preferred the layered vocals of the first album and the harder hitting hooks of Once Upon the Cross as this is a much more straight forward effort than either of those albums.

The title track comes in and grabs your attention like any heavy act will, the sheer intensity holds you then it's wait and see when the novelty of volume and power wears off, if they can write songs that keep you engaged. The chorus to this song is almost sung like newer Morbid Angel. It seems like a new trick for them but I gave up on the band after  Once Upon the Cross, so I couldn't tell you other wise. In fact isn't Glen Benton supposed to have already suicide sacrificed him self by now?

"Thous Begone " starts the descent into the jackhammer pummeling that is broken up by some cool gallops and solos , but pretty much gull speed ahead just like it was 1988. They have some signature punches toward the end, that remind me more of Once Upon the Cross era, than anything previous. Make no mistake about about it they are a refined and relentless death metal machine, but it paints all with a singular aggression as the only emotion accounted for.

"Godkill" does ring back the shadows of Legion to my memory banks, but is no where as catchy, and this could just as easily be Broken Hope or any other straight ahead death metal band from the 90's.  The chug a lug into "Beyond Salvation" is pretty rocking, and the syncopation of Benton's vocals do remind me of their glory days, but once it gets to the blur of what could be the chorus it all begins to sound the same.

"Misery of One" the drums are more  machine fired than actually played. The song steam rolls over it's self it has so much momentum, almost to the point of its strength and weakness are one and the same. The blastiness of "Between the Flesh and the Void" overtakes it's self. The verse after the chorus, is pretty cool, but the cool riffs alone don't make a song has to apply to Deicide as well, I think there was more passion in his vocal delivery on the first three album so they made up for the one dimensional aggression. The solos on this album are a lot more mature and polished for sure.

There are the more thrashy moments of songs like "Even the Gods Can Bleed" where the songs benefit from groove to the gallop. The lyrics which are as anti-Jehovah as ever, have room to jab at you and get their infernal message across. The thing is while I am no more Jehovah friendly than I was as a teenager, the blatant nature of the lyrics seems juvenile as picking on something as pitiful as Christianity is like kicking a cripple in this day and age.

"Trample the Cross" comes on so fast and furious that it tramples over itself, only letting the guitar melody survive atop it before going into a juggernaut riff that is of the same proportion as most of the riff on this album so its size is relative. This album is air tight on the production end and the mix is very polished so no corners were cut in the execution of this.  

All the songs get right to the point and go for the throat, clocking in around three minutes each. "Fallen to Silence"  doesn't find groove or hints of melody until the final minute. The solo in this one stands out in terms of its composition. "Kill the Light of Christ" is the only song where it sounds as if Benton is aware metal as moved onto darker things like black metal. "End the Wrath of God' the drumming starts off not a steamrolling but gets there before the chorus.  

I'll give the album a 6, as it's too straight forward for my adult taste buds these days and not on the level with the first three but a solid effort, if you like straight ahead old school death metal, that these guys are the god fathers of then around it up another point.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Yellow Eyes : "Hammer of Night"

 Catching up on all of this years releases, I checked out the newest from a band I have given a chance before, Yellow Eyes. This is the New York bands' second full length. The three piece continues to play a raw and reckless style of black metal, not far removed from what Fell Voices or Ash Borer once did, but rougher around the edges and without the ambiance of the drone. This album is less hypnotic than what those bands are doing now, and less refined as well.

After the initial spastic blast, there is some breathing room as things get darker and more melancholy than the rabid dog that started off the album. "In this Stillness" has a clamor to it but tempered with rusty chords that ring out.The snarl of vocals is lost in the mix but audible enough to know its there. They blast back at you for every breathe you are allowed to take. By the end of this song it begins to become a blur , so even after the acoustic outro going into the dissonant storm " Many Long Fingers Bent in Pain"you are still a little blast drunk. There are some ugly sonic chords being bettered about , almost in a similar manner than Liturgy once did, but the ring out less.  The songs run around six minutes so they are not as sprawling as what Fell Voices undertakes. The beat straightens out in more of a sailing gallop at times and gives the blasting some dynamic space.

"Ice Knell" doesn't waste any time launching back into the blast.After the first minute at that speed they hand on the chords long enough to get a breath in an throw themselves back into the tornado. With the lo-fi recording ,which captures more chaos than cvlt, their momentum makes some moments hard to decipher, with punches and accents left to break the riffs up.

The title track starts off with acoustic guitar, that feed back begins to form like mold underneath , before its back to the blast.The drumming is the most impressive element , though the guitar has its moment in the sonic fray. They have created a claustrophobic clutter, that can be noisy, though they do let an occasional darkness bleed through the wall of noise.

The album closes out with "Cabin Filled With Smoke and Flies" where the riffs are still dissonant and mean , but not finding any new ground, though there is a pretty heavy chug a minute and half in before they fall back into the blur of  blastiness. The song does end one a pretty good note, where their is a better sonic balance , but I wish this had been more of the albums themes. If you like your black metal really raw and sonic then its worth a shot, I like my black metal a little darker and more dynamic. I'll give it a six because they are good at what they do, I would like to hear this more fully realized.            


Vastum : Patricidal Lust

The San Fran death metal band returns with the second full length. This time it's more polished but no less dense or dark, two qualities that make for good death metal. It's no secret I am more partial to black metal, as death metal can be one dimensional and just focuses on the aggressive element with little more emotional depth. However I grew up on early Morbid Angel and Deicide as a teenager so I can appreciate it. These guys are not the first death metal band I have covered on here and they will not be the last, because if you can make dark and sonic music I will give it a listen.

 There is melody to the guitar but nothing over harmonized and gay like Dark Tranquility or the more thrash minded Entombed followers.Its pretty gut wrenching and cavernous, the opener is heavily syncopated and is like an attack being launched at you from the dark recesses of some foul cavern.The drummer gets a lot of props because you would think death metal drummers lack restraint and are incapable of serving the song, this guys proves that theory wrong and never overplays. "Enigma of Disgust" has groove to it with out being cheesey or diminishing the dark manner in which they are going about this dirty work. He never makes the annoying snare hits that have to be the most boring beat in metal , but all to common in run of the mills death metal.

Comparisons to Incantation can be drawn, the deep sepulchral vocal delivery being similar, but I think this blows away the last Incantation album ,every one rave about like it was the coming of the anti- Christ. "3 AM in Agony" starts off more like your a typical death metal but finds a groove that grinds deep into the rooted soil this song sprung from.Every thing about this album is echoing up from the deep, one of the thickest guitar tones I have heard in some time. "3 Am" might be a little more straight forward in terms of composition than the first two tracks but makes up for this in its brutal grind.

The step back and allow the riff of "Incel" to be creepy before stomping down into it. The slower doomy death metal riff is a change from the beating they have given your ears up til this point. The slow is beautiful in its dissonance and the song build well in intensity with out having to rely on speed . The title track pounds to life with an almost Slayer like punch to its groove.The vocals choosing a cadence similar to post- Barnes Cannibal Corpse. By the end of the song , they do stumble into a few generic death metal riffs, here but balance those moments out by the ambient feeling of the guitar solo and doesn't seem to hamper my enjoyment of the song.

"Repulsive Arousal "  closes out the album, it slows down into the tomb crawling riff , that lumbers a few beats of ahead of the doomier place they went earlier in the album. They pick up the pace a minute and a half into the song, but don't trip over themselves while running down this hill. The drum work here has a noticeable Lombardo influence , but refrains from getting carried away with the double bass. Theres a little Morbid Angel like chaos to the solo section. Overall this album is one of the more enjoyable death metal albums I heard, granted the genre doesn't lend it self to reinventing the wheel but I will give this a 9.              

for a taste of their earlier work see below

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Report to the Dance Floor: Sound Strider "Intrepid Travels e.p"

This column appears once or twice a month at best , not because there is a shortage of EDM coming out , but because there's tons of it but most, doesn't demand attention. The golden rule here when it comes to rock music is cool riffs don't make a song. It takes melodies, dynamics and composition. For EDM it would be cool beats alone don't make a song and then apply the need for the same elements that make for good song writing and apply them to this or any genre. If some one can combine these elements then they have my respect.

Soul Strider's  newest  e.p demands respect.  Though many people dismiss electronic music as just pushing buttons, or now clicking plug in's and pull downs , this choice to forgo conventional instruments creates a new set of challenges. Soundstrider faces these challenges, using the technology to craft movements rather than traditionally structures songs.  In a club format there is a more urgent give and take from the audience, as the artist lives and dies by what happens on the dance floor.

In context of studio compositions the challenge is keeping the listener hooked in without the use of vocal  melodies, Sound Strider compensates for this with the use of samples that flow with the vibe of the narrative the beats are unfolding. This album is much denser and darker than you might expect,but not in the post- apocalyptic desperation in industrial or gritty glitch core, this darkness comes from the ambiance. It captures the lonely feeling of the vacuum in the space.

 "The Stakes" opens with this sonic exploration with propelled by soot coated beats and vaporous synth swirls to send this e.p off into the final frontier.   In "Menlo Park" the synth sounds are rounder and the melodies they would create are more angular as they blip and bleep through the garden of space gas. "Childhood's End" opens with a darker synth sound suggesting you are traversing the colder regions of the galaxy's outskirts. The bell like percussion layered flanged and fuzzed beats, sounds like depressed droids aware of the fact they are drifting into a cosmic graveyard. After the sampled transmissions the beat straightens out and goes into a more conventional groove more commonly thought of in relation to break beat.

"Limit" has an almost house like funk to it , but carries more sonic density, particularly with the darker more edm synth sounds that haunt the groove. By the end of the track every thing falls away from the beat and leaves it to end the song on it's own.

The spliced beats of " Betoniere" are pretty innovative as it starts, like an engine rev and builds before breaking down into something similar to the trickle of water meshed with the growl of a dog. This sampled , effected remix of this angry dog takes over the song from the three minute mark, but the beat still holds it self together despite the heavy experimentation taking place here, that rings like kettle drums to more organic tones.

I know lots of goth night d.j.s read this blog, and  you might want to step out of the comforts of the bat cave to reconsider mixing one of the albums darker moments into your set, as the glitches are dirty enough to set along side a remix from the newest Nine Inch Nails album or  more recent Skinny Puppy, it's a different darkness evoking floating solitude and confinement more than  being spooky. Now that Halloween is behind us and steam punk and futuristic nights might begin to creep up,  selections from this would make a great addition to any soundtrack where you are embarking on a journey rather than twerking.

Up From the Underground : Stoney " More Than Animals

Singer songwriter Mark Stoney could be called a Brit pop artist , but such a description would not fully encompass the scope of ground covered on his newest full length "More Than Animals." He manages to find common ground with bands like Arcade Fire and Flaming Lips, in  this lavishly crafted indie rock flourished with Sgt Peppered Orchestrations.

He spared no expense on the lush production that finds him occupying a middle ground between electronica and organic indie rock, the thick synth fuzz to bass lines of songs like "the Score" would appeal to fans of  Bloc Party and even moving into the dirtier dance territory of the Faint, when the beats crescendo with the build of the song.  

Stoney possesses a voice of his own, quirky but capable of floating into falsetto laced harmonies. There are plenty of thick layers of choral vocals chiming in for every corner."Defiantly Loved" is the first song where the verse holds traces of his relocation to Texas, as the guitar twang  more and the song carries a lazy gallop into the sunset.

One of the  biggest stylistic shifts occurs on the song "We Belonged" where he strips everything down to an acoustic guitar and builds it back up from there. Of course I'm partial to when things take a darker turn on "Devil on My Back", which takes an ominous flow down the river Styx, but their is still an up beat cadence to the vocal phrasing and an almost funky syncopation set against, the oohs and aahs of the backing vocals, It is in moments like these where his true voice is found and it's most apparent he has really created something unique.

Stoney takes all of the redeeming elements from modern alternative radio and mixes them together to make this work. The angular groove to "House of Mirrors" strikes a brilliant balance of indie rock swagger and jangle, but keeps it moving with his sixth sense for creating riveting beats.  His most compelling  moments occur ,when he brings it back down with a song like "Bedpost" and strips away all the smoke and mirrors of pro-tools production magic to let songs like this stand on their own two feet. Sure he builds it back up into his trademark sweeping grandiosity, with layers of psychedelics beneath him, but the fact he can capture the range of dynamics out of a stripped down melody is the most telling. Because a big sound can be produced , but good song writing can't be faked.

The albums ebb and flow continues on a Technicolor roller coaster from the very Beatles like waltz of  "Let it Go"  that soars over strawberry fields, before the intimate beginnings of "Albatross" Mark singing up on the mic in a more restrained hush.There's a feeling that evokes Gotye's earlier electronic work in the opening groove of "Cock of the Walk", but once it hits the chorus the song morphs into a glammed out strut of its namesake.

The sleepy folk of  "Wanderlust" borders on being a lullaby, but rather than lulling you the melody keeps the listener engaged. The almost Everlast flavored blues funk of "Round Here" comes as an unexpected close to the album. Overall expect big things from Stoney, he has the song writing smarts and the ear in the studio to craft a wide array of compelling sounds.   

Haunted Horses : "the Watcher"

The new album by this Seattle based project comes to life by kicking into a dark tribal hammer of drums and guitars screaming out from the dark depths where this album must have been conceived. The pound of the band awakening here is only two minutes and bleeds right into the next song "Goetia" which sonically builds from the opener, with the low ghostly moan crooning desperately over the frantic guitar that builds through out, until the chant rises up from this dismal pit into a scream. Not unlike early industrial namely Greed era Swans. It works more on hypnotizing than creating some kinds of dance floor groove.

The somewhat Bauhaus bellow of "The Moon's March" captures the creepy Halloween feel of what most think of goth, but while keeping up the droning pound the album previously established but its to a post- apocalyptic funeral here. It even brings to mind the tribal brand of industrial craziness bands like Crash Worship once invoked, especially on the percussion heavy "Children of Light", though the vocals here remind me a little of Lard on the verses.

The intro to "the Void " is thick synth drone, followed by the low spectral vocals and percussion. I am sure some will try to write off some of the more minimalist electronic throbs as being kruat rock, or even cold wave, but it is more abrasive than either sub genre. The drumming is impressive and the fact it is so organic in it's execution is crucial to the bands sound.

The noise chaos of "Lumenance" is the first hint of the death rock tag that I feel is justifiable, though there is more Swans like pound to it than anything Christian Death did during the Rozz years at least. It is hammered into place in a manner I feel can't be done justice in the studio, but still the execution is convincing enough, am sure this is once of those bands you walk away think their albums don't do them justice.

The death rock passion of lovers comes across in "The Animist in the Gallery of Muses" , the vocals take on more emotive inflection and the dissonant bat cave guitar, jangles creepily throughout the tomb, they must have recorded this in. The goth moments are not for your pretentious Thursday night dress ups, as you aren't going to be swatting bats and throwing dead roses to this.

"White Eyes" despite its angular noise and chants in the back ground, takes on some of the more rocking dynamics, in the chorus riff , which pounds the nails in the coffin with a hook to the beating it comes with.I'll give this album a 9.5 though it might grow into a 10, as every time it pops up on shuffle mode, I remember how much I like it but it's so dense and angular, and all too often noisy that it doesn't nag at you to obsessively listen to it like most albums I rate of as a ten which I can just leave on.  


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Holograms : "Forever"

I've been hunting down this album the Stockholm based punk band since it's release, even contacting their manager who is vacationing in Australia. This release sees, the punk roots intact , but the post- label is firmly in place as it has a dark spacious not confined by the raw explosion punk is normally limited to. This is displayed out the gate with the opener "Sacred State".

Things continue to drift into darker waters as the album progresses , it finds as much common ground with Joy Division and New Model Army as it does the likes of Iceage. The Iceage comparison comes as there is not the hugest classic punk influence, unless we are talking about the middle ground when bands like Suicide and Joy Division were thought of as punk.The songwriting here has much more depth and thought behind it than what you would typically think of as punk. I would even go as far as to say they are even a step ahead of other  northern euro-punkers like Iceage when it comes to the dynamic range of their song writing.The use of Keyboards on this albums adds to this fact.

"Meditations" starts pretty straight forward high tension fashion as a lot of this sort of post-punk coming out and then gets a bigger sounding hook on the chorus, but is still coming from the same zip -code as Bellicose Minds. In fact I think this band bridges the gap between bands like Bellicose Minds and bands like Lower and Iceage. They stay the course , with bass driven march on"Attestupa", the reverbed guitar lines wander around the bass, while the interplay still makes it dancey enough for goth night.

The attention to detail when it comes to making catchy songs remains intact on the more synth dominated "Luminous" the guitar line almost strays into death rock, if he had more Bela Lugosi rather than the snotty punk baritone croon he uses for most of the album, "Rush" takes things back into the tense Joy Division like propulsion. This one didn't grab much as much as the rest of the album has so far , but it grew on me by the songs end as it coalesces into more of a hooky build.

You could almost call "Wolves" a slow song , if compared with the pace the band has kept most of the album, but not a ballad by any means it falls on the more deliberate end of mid tempo. There are some really raw scraping guitar sounds on this one and it builds into loose sonic deconstruction. The more traditionally goth "Laughter Breaks the Silence" still keeps things pretty punk in the bat cave. The song drives harder than even Ian Curtis and the boys. 

At almost six minutes " A Blaze on the Hillside" is the albums longest track. A minute and a half in it breaks down from it's straight ahead punk charge , it really only breathes on the punk tom pulses, and isn't a bad song it is the most sonically and dynamically flat , with the guitar melody that surfaces halway through as the most interesting part.

"Lay us Down " closes out the album, his voice takes on a more melodic quality here and comes the closest to more thought and melody being put into his vocal approach and marks the singers high point of the album and the songs brings the album to a close with a more melodic swell. I'll go ahead and round this album up to a 10 as "A Blaze on the Hillside" is the only tune that seemed a little redundant, but I will give it the benefit of the doubt that it will grow on me.          

Loss of Self : "Twelve Minutes"

To dismiss this bands as being Deafheaven wannabes is selling yourself short. Comparisons can be drawn to Deafheaven, but  this band from  Melborne, is darker and more prone to wander into shoegazing territory. Tracks from their demo,  that founds it's physical copies quickly consumed, are remastered and found on here as well.

The vocals when they go into the scathing sneer, do have a tonal quality similar to that of Deafheaven, but they are not limited to that register going into lower growls.The first two minutes of  "Free Intelligence" they lay the blasty mcnasty on thick, and then float off into a more melodic guitar line in the final minute. "the Inheritance" is under two minutes and holds onto the narcotic sway of shoegaze for most of the song before building into cavernous and rawer black metal than what Deafheaven is about.

The guitars take on almost more of an indie rock jangle on Isolt, as dynamic smartly written song, with moody layers than encompass more than melancholy even though there is a reflective sadness to how the chords ring out, the vocals get even more tortured here reminding me more of Depressive Suicidal Black Metal in the way they gurgle. The bass playing here gets some props as well, for it finds melodies beneath the guitar in a way most black metal bands don't.

The use of clean vocals on this album is very interesting in they are buried behind the sonic layers and low-post-punkish, think Joy Division when they are audible, but mostly come across like a distant chant that makes you wonder if your ears are playing tricks on you when listening to "Paradise Overgrown" . The bass and drums add qa punchy throb to shove the murky mass of guitars forward.

The blast returns on "the Mind, Its Form and Function" though a minute in they give you breathing room. The recording is interesting lo-fi, in a way that will appeal to fans of raw black metal and are stuck in the cvlt sounds , but there are many sonic layers. There is a lot going on here and it takes a few listens to take it all in.On "Seidiltz" this is done in a weird tempo riff that the riff of the band swirls around, it slows and ebb and flow is steered into another direction, creating a sound that is very unique to this band, almost like a Sonic Youth of black metal.

"There Must Be Great Wisdom" touches back onto the more indie rock sounds even though there are screaming echoing over it. The drummer and the bass player are really locked into a drunken dance around it all. Aside from the screaming , the first half of the song there are no elements of black metal, even when the faster drumming kicks in their is a strange haze shimmering over everything, with elements of noise rock. The title track, takes a bizarre sonic middle ground with the My Bloody Valentine elements coating everything even when the metal roars to life after the first minute. When they go full speed ahead with the blasting it almost feels like they are taking the easy way out when it compared to the creative paths they have taken their sound.   I'll go ahead and around this album up to a 10 and expect to see it popping up somewhere on my metal albums of the year list , depending on how it grows on me.


Why Goth Won't Die

For a sub culture so centered around death, goth won't die. If you are a regular reader here then, you have to be aware the music keeps finding new ways to be reborn. In a recent article Louise Tickle a goth herself wrote on how goths grow up she explores a few reasons for this...see below

But when she poises the question regarding why it endures life changes more than punk and raving, she misses out on on key factor, goth is about embracing you are rather than who you are not like punk. Punk rock is for rebellious suburban teenage, it carries a different kind of anger than say metal. Metal, another subculture that doesn't carry the same visual staying power, with symbols such as the cutting of hair, is more empowering than punk, though garnished with a high dose of fantasy and escapism, where punk is grounded in a hyper-shitty reality they are giving the finger to.

Sure ,there are place like Little Five Points in Atlanta or Venice Beach where some punks are in Never Never Land and staying true but many of these are maintaining this because it is giving them a reason  to not just keep punk alive , but also their alcoholism, which punk is a justifying sound track to cloud their denial of. The rave culture is the same in this regard, their are no elder ravers, because hard drugs do not  carry success stories. There are three options, get sober, go to jail or die.

More proof who can pull off what they do better over 50 Dead Can Dance or Jello Biafra ? Jello and Rollins are doing spoken word or voice overs to car commercials. Danzig is more metal than punk and get memes made for buying cat litter.In a lot of goths, became goths after growing out of punk...Nick Cave, I'm looking at you.

If something centers around your other interests it's more likely to have staying power, you don't meet many people who say, I use to like horror movies and the Cure. You don here a lot of stories of "I use to be a punk , begging for change..." but those are all told in A.A. meetings.

My daughter finds punk and metal too be to loud at times for her developing ears , but she doesn't mind the Cure and will even dance to it. She has seen Nightmare Before X-mas as many times as she has seen Finding Nemo, but probably not as many as she has seen Labyrinth, but it's not a touching as when she squeezes my neck and says "I Love Daddy, he's my Wolf-man", moments that come from parenting on the dark side.        

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cokegoat: " Vessel"

With three voices screaming over the rolling poly- morph of riffs to creates a Mastodon like feel. It's too up beat for me to really call this sludge as the riffs are sharp and jagged with a straight up metal attack.It roars to life in this pre-Blood Mountain mode of attack though more grindcore than sludge until the riffs settle into a slower groove with keyboards causing the song to float a little midway through.

I have always though if you want to play like Led Zeppelin then listen to more Robert Johnson than you do Jimmy Page, and these kids are well polished on their Neurosis. "Buried in the City" find them wielding big clunky doom riffs more like High on Fire, the vocal layering is more Neurosis, and it's a moderately cool, riff , but the rule around here is cool riffs alone do not make a song.

They are good, players, the drummers leads the pack here, which is similar to Mastodon, and their bass player might even be better than Troy, but the riffs are not as original .The melodies when the appear aren't really hooky, though on what might be the chorus to dogs, things congeal well. It builds in a very similar manner to what Neurosis might do in the Through Silver and Blood era. They do take the occasional jammy wander to let the songs breath returning to the chant of the chorus.

The keyboards don't really come out of the closest to make their presence known until, "End of Your Life part 1" the riffs get bigger and make for a more monstrous gallop. The second part of this song is thundering but in  much more deliberate manner and almost like a half time reprises of the first part."Fly by Night 2" is no a sequel to the Rush song. It hammers into the song with some great drumming but no clear motive but to pound you. The more grind core side is abandoned fora slower more melodious metal riff, and I'm sure their are some people who might find this to be genius, but it sounds like something I have already heard. The first passing listen to this album I found entertaining, but really sitting down to listen to it makes me underwhelmed.

If these guys paid more attention to melody, they would be better songs writers, the keyboardist, sings on "Fly by Daylight"  and her voice gives it a more Kylesa feel and its one of the albums better songs. The riff hit harder when they are more thought out rather than blind swinging for the fences. By the time we get to " Glorious Dead" their hasn't been enough to convince me that this deserves to take up the space on my iPod. The chug they close things out with is more Electric Wizard, and they continue to jam around and look for ways to riff out of this. Well recorded and well played , but more fodder for teenagers who like a sound no matter how derivative it might be, I'll give it a 6.    

Friday, November 8, 2013

Glorior Belli : Gators Rumble, Chaos Unfurls

Though I like them, it is a little confusing  how this band from France sounds like stoner bikers trekking through the deserts of Arizona. The were once considered black metal but now there is nothing really black metal about them and they sound to have more in common with Eyehategod than Mayhem . There are traces of the black metal dissonance on songs like "the South Will Always Know My Name" it stays at a slow sludge like pace, not creepy enough to be doom.

There is a Black Sabbath foreboding to opening riffs of "Blackpowder Roars". The vocals are really raw and gnarly, with a distorted filter over them that sounds like they were recorded using blown out speakers. The organic fuzz to the guitar tone reminds me of the first Down album and the riffs are loaded with as much groove.

"Wolves at My Door" they bring the blast back for a minute, before they wind up back in a whiskey soaked shuffle, doused in the double bass.The next t hint of black anything is on "I Asked For Wine, He Gave Me Blood",  I like the chorus on that , it reminds me of Deicide for some reason and parts are rather Watain of them. So it's proof they haven't lost it, and are just choosing to pretend like they are from South Louisiana. Some of the riffs even go as far as to remind me of Corrosion of  Conformity.

It gets a little darker on "Le Blackout Blues" the guitar riffs leave a lot of sonic space for everything to ring out.  Two minutes in it really pick up into a quick boogie before the drugs kick in a slow them back down.  They are pros at coming up with good dark lead ins to songs, the problems seem to occur when the build reckless momentum, "Backwoods Bayou" keeps the cool sonic element but stay instrumental and never fully realizes it as a song. Where a song like " Ain't No Pit Deep Enough" has a fairly straightforward intro and stays the course in Crow Bar like territory, but with nastier vocals and bluesier guitar embellishments. There is a cool that gets layered over the distorted crawl.

At times thing border line the Panterrible southern groove thing too closely for my taste-buds and doesn't have enough blackened elements. Then there are moments like "A Hoax , A Croc" where they manage to ooze the darkness out the pentatonic murk.It rears it riff up and runs at you like a wild boar midway through the song. There are coarse sung vocals that pop every now and then, and they are very Phil Anselmo.

"From One Rebel to Another" has a large does of stoned boogie to it, and makes hope the French government will crack down on the importation of Pantera in France as they have a great scene and don't want it contaminated by too much of this. You can put this album on shuffle mode and all the songs seem to blend into one another just seamlessly as they do when you listen to it straight through.  There is a groove to "Built For Discomfort" you can not resist head banging to, despite the Down thing it finds it self leaning back into .

The album closes down shop with the title track, that has a more hazy simmer to it and the bass player opens up and wanders around under the guitar solos. The  vocals here remind me of a rougher Venom for some reason. Some of the Southern sludge elements given a coat of darkness here, have already been done better by Acid Bath, though this is a much more grime glazed album. I'll give this one a 7.5 as , it's decent for what it is and ends on a high note, me and this band have grown apart , but if you want to hear what happens when a black metal band turns into Down, check it out for sure.



As the winter nears, I begin to crave more viking in my metal, but rarely can folk metal bands deliever, as most are too happy and sound like silly drinking songs or growling over polka. In the past I had given Falkenbach a listen, but have hardly been blown away by past efforts so I gave the new album by the one man German band a shot, the opener  Vaer Stjernar Vaerdan, has the Lord of the Rings epic feel I like but without being to happy. In fact the clean vocals are mournful, unlike the more triumphant Tyr, who gets so up beat their trip over themselves into silliness.

So the album was off to a good start, but can Markus Tummers, craft a entire album as convincing. Well the harsh vocals and accelerated pace of "Wulfarweijd" sound like a more black metal Finntroll , but more angry than frolicking. It charges head on into battle, but so do most other bands of this ilk, with little variance except onward into the battle.

The acoustic guitars that start the swinging gallop of "Mijn Laezt Wourd" has more personality to it. It drones on the riff until the vocals come in and the tempo modulates to accommodate the melody. The pace of this reminds me of the newer Primordial. Brozen Embrace goes into a more straight up black metal riff ,but it is done much more effectively this time.

The strum of the clean guitars returns to lead off "Eweroun" but the metal guitars are evenly blended with the acoustics.This song chugs along nicely with its flowing sway.It seems the pattern established is to take the riff and sail it across the seven seas, building on it in waves rather than any changes . A mid-period Enslaved riff storms out across the tundra with "I Nattens Stilta". Melodic layers are added in the songs second half and when the double bass lets up it even takes a more folkish tone.

It 's is like every other song has breathing room as "Bluot Fuer Bluot" treads more melodic ground , though still bears a stomp over the ice. It seems like the melodic vocal lines have improved greatly from what I remember of the earlier work. It reverts back to more of a black metal feel in the final two minutes. The formula stays intact as "StikkeWound" goes for the throat with an epic blast, that paves the path for an even bigger gallop, where Amon Amarth, like to play viking, this sounds much more convincing, though will only sell a fraction of their numbers.

And album ends with some breathing room, as the strum of acoustic guitar propels this Germanic pagan  ode. The drumming is pretty tasty here and keeps the song soaring over the camp fire.I'll give this album an 8.5 , it exceeded my expectations, even though it at times can be a little predictable and could use more experimentation with the folk elements, but for a one man band it's fair to say this is damn impressive.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Castevet: "Obsian"

Featuring the bass player from Krallice this New York band releases its second full length of very dense black-metal crossover. It's often hard for me to think of this album s death metal as the vocal lack shrieking and though there is the dissonant ambiance droning even in the thrashier brutality of the album nothing strikes meas being malevolent about their sound, pissed maybe. This is similar to how I feel about Krallice, but these guys are more enthralling than Krallice as they understand their playing must suit the song rather than just be the song.

"Cavernous" gets a little darker than the opener, but also ride the line between what is progressive death metal and what is black metal . The drummer is impressive he keeps a tribal swirl going with his rapid tom work. They strike a really good balance of letting the song breath while keeping a vice grip on the tension. The arrangement's flow really well.  It often strikes me like this is   the ambiance  tech death metal bands would like to do but can't fully realize, like the prog ending to "Cavernous".

The angular ugliness stays the course on " the Curve" , which is not as easy of a listen, as the turns in the riff are jarring before they slow down. The strummed chords ring out to a great effect than when the picking becomes a blur. When riff goes into a more straight forward race with the double bass it doesn't get interesting until the bass player finds a melody beneath it.

There is a cool melodic ring to "As Fathomed by Beggars and Victims" that reminds me of a less  folk tinged Agalloch. The song becomes a sonic trash compactor as it condenses before allowing a melodic burst out in the final minute. In the closing chug fest of "Seat of Severence" a clean vocal comes out as a surprising change. I think is is very effective dynamic, it's layered with a cool melody that reminds me of a less romantic Emperor. Sadly fans of heavier music ignorantly shun melodic singing, I think it allows the music to be heavier around it.This album is worth checking out, I'll give it a 9.

Survival -S/T

 I had almost forgotten this  new project from Liturgy's Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, was still waiting in the wings. The self titled album finds Greg Smith, and Jeff Bobula from the hardcore band Crushed team up with former band mate Hunter from when they were in a screamo band called Birthday Boyz. The album has been in the making for five years and was finally put to wax with  Colin Marston from Krallice and  Dysrhythmia  who recorded this at The Thousand Cave studio and the album sounds great  it is warm, full and organic, in some ways it reminds me of Aesthethica if it were mixed with Tool the clean sung and heavily harmonized are like Hunter's screams in Liturgy not the focal point of the songs which take some twists and turns .

From the opening you can feel a little of the Smashing Pumpkins groove that Hunter has eluded to in interviews prior to this albums release. The harmonies are a little Alice in Chains at times as well, but the album wouldn't be labeled as grunge due to it's angular nature and the guitar tone isn't fuzzed out and Sabbathy for the most part. Most of the time the guitar sounds like smoothed over Liturgy devoid of all the blasty mcnasty. 

The Tool comparison comes in with the mathy way the riffs bob and weave around one another. Unlike Tool they are not headed towards a big arena rock chorus. There is also something more organic and rock n roll to their sounds where Tool is darker and almost industrial. "Original Pain" takes the groove of the first song and boogie to it before winding away in a similar maze of dizzying turns. I takes the first three minutes before the ears here distinguishable traits in the the path way set out for the vocals . 

"Freedom 1" winds its way to life from the labyrinth the other songs were crafted from, but with a more shimmering jangle to it's chords. Like Liturgy, when it comes to writing songs they are not a afraid to just let the riff sit on its own to be fucked with and devoid of vocals. In some ways on this one there is a Mastodon thing happening. "Second Freedom" has a vocal chant to it that floats over the syncopated punches that are scattered under the song like a mine field.          

 The reprise of "tragedy" is under a minute so it seems more like an interlude rather than a free standing song, it mainly vocal harmonies swelling. "Since the Sun" breaks down into a slower acoustic ebb, that is haunting but minimal. They come blaring back into the tightly wound Tool like syncopations on "Our Way" and "Freedom 3", which are both similar in tone. Freedom 3 sets itself apart in tempo of the verse and goes into a more droning punch which is pretty cool.    

  I think fans of Liturgy will be able to appreciate this, though most black metal fans were either open minded enough to like them or got caught up in the hipster element and never gave the band a fair shake. Hunter has said in interview he sees Liturgy moving away from black metal, as he doesn't want to repeat himself, so this album makes a lot of sense. 

I will give this one an 8.5 as it's a fun listen and still growing on me, though most of the songs have a very similar feel to them and sounds like variations on a theme, just set to different tempos, rather than building dynamically.