Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Up From the Under Ground: Ras Xix -s/t

This former Singapore based artist relocated to Austin Texas " Weightless With You" recalls 90's alt-rock in many ways. The vocals are the strongest part of the album and the mix suggests it was intentional to put the vocals up front in your face. This guys influence range from David Lee Roth to Chris Cornell.

The drums on this album are often the unsung hero and they work their way around the rather simplistic guitar lines that are living wide breadth for the vocals. Things back off on "Nora 5" and his more sedate moments remind me at times of Lenny Kravitz mixed with the trashy hotel lobby jazz Stone Temple Pilots dipped their toes into. I can also hear some Red Hot Chilli Peppers beneath some of the melodies, though he is a more competent singer than Keidis. I do think some of the acoustic moments on the album get drug out a little too long.

The Incubus comparisons can not be denied on "Over" though some of the vocal shifts are more like Mike Patton, whose band Faith No More should have been getting a cut of Incubus' royalty checks. There is a much more straight ahead rock sensibility than anything Patton would do. "Simulacrum" touches on Brandon Boy'ds affinity for ballads. The ghost of hair metal gone radio stars Extreme can be heard haunting the way the melodies ride of the the strum of acoustics, as the feel of "Whole Hearted" lingers.

There some great sounds on this album and a wonderful ear for melodies, think however the dips into 90's metal isn't their forte. Though it's not to say this sound is totally dated , I think fans of the post- Panic at the Disco radio rock format , would find something they could latch onto here.Of course around here we have a pretty high bar set for metal, I think this could be rocking the suburbs of your average radio listener.

This album swings between the acoustic rock ballad and the more funky post- nu-metal of 2000. The chorus of "If it's Gone" is well crafted and all of the melodies are pretty convincing in this sphere of the album. I think sound is best realized on "Las Aremas de Catagena" which has more Latin flare to the flamenco picked guitar parts ,that are hands down the best playing on the album. Everything falls perfectly in place here, this is the direction I think the album would have most benefited from, instead of wanting to inspire a mosh pit.

Speaking of mosh pits the angular crunch of "New Religion" is the best stab at that sort of thing, as it allows the drumer to play around the song and doesn't try to hard to make them into unconvincing tough guys. However they use rock as an effective dynamic on the chorus to "Miss Simon". It is also the first time I really take notice of the bass playing which should have been more in my face for what they are doing.

This song leads into "Intergalactic Love Affair" which relies on the guitar playing to convince me these guys aren't just an Incubus tribute bands trying to fly some originals in under the radar. The approach to the guitar on " Machine" does also help to counter balance the more Incubus inspired vocal lines, it even drags them away from going to the more obvious intervals Brandon Boyd would sing.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Report To the Dance Floor : Eluusif -Aliens Do it Better

And the song title of the year is "Hair Like Skrillex" . This and the other cleverly named tracks on this album are brought to you by the London based project. Eluusif. The atmosphere and chill wave sounds are layered against dub step, but a broader range of rhythmic ground is covered hear rather than the bludgeon of robotic beats dropping. While that element is there , actual songwriting is happening, a novel concept in this genre of music which tends to rely more on quirky sound than the substance that holds them together.

The biting song titles continue with "Justin Beiber is an Android" up until this point that name was not mentioned on this blog , which is a fact I am proud of, and aside from a sample that brings him up, the song otherwise doesn't have a whole lot to do with him and fall within the more conventional bounds of dub-step. "No I Don't Want to Be Your Facebook Friend " sticks to similar guidelines. The formula is now apparent. A smooth synth melody put against the bleach of cyborgs and sprinkled with a sampled narrative. The way some of the beats are broken up is as innovative as you can be while working within the confines of this medium.

As with most dance album if the song also has a remix then chances are it's the single, "You Should be Mine" has a beat that reminds me of the Knight Rider theme songs as it coasts on a slinky dark frequency. It strays away from the dub-step allowing the female vocals to ride the wave it creates. The remix contains a larger dose of funk, with more slap to the bass line and the bpm's stepping it up enough to be more blood pumping.

The sci -fi sleaze of " I Need an Alien Tonight" get back to a dirtier dub-step sound , though it has some deep house elements in the way the beast skips about. It flows the formula but without the predominant synth line, instead a robotic female voice kind of raps over it.

Overall if you have grown tired of dub step or have yet to find anything within I the genre that has peaked your interest then this is worth checking out. It might be a matter of its origins , as this album lacks the trashy drug grit associated with this style of music. Instead is a layered more melodic blend of atmosphere and melody that doesn't use the robot burps as an excuse to skimp on composure.


no carrier : "Wisdom Failure"

This cross continental duo have been around since 2001 and boast two albums under their belt, so they like to take their time. Wisdom failure comes on the heels of  their "Confessions" ep. The opener will make fans of Bat For Lashes   want to take notice. The singer' sultry alto isn't ethereal enough to come close to Chelsea Wolfe's fevered darkness. There lingers 80's pop inflection, falling some where to the left of Kate Bush, though a though shade lighter than Siouxsie and the Banshees.
I like there sound this is something I would likely to keep listening to. it gradually darkens . The almost Annie Lennox, like manner her voice weaves around the melody. At  other times the singers voices holds the same resonance as the singer from Cowboy junkies. There are more edm elements on songs like "Sunset Castle". Her melody takes a more Siouxsie slant though with a more operatic element to it tonally.

This album is an interesting journey. What I respect about it the most is there is little pretense. They blend elements that reach back into the more classic vaults of goth, with texture and ambiance that evokes the gray landscape as the Cure and the Cocteau Twins. While it is clear they have their roots in this era, there is an equal dose of the cyber dread generation of goth , that falls closer to edm than anything from the batcave.

I do hear a lot of  the  Switchblade Symphony  sound  from the 90's , this would also very much appeal to fans of the Birthday Party Massacre. The bright plastic bubble gum sound I associate with today's brand of electro goth, it has a more organic feel and still is cloaked in a generous coat of melancholy.

If  Zola Jesus is to minimalist and artsy for you and doesn't, retain enough of the more classic cold wave sound then these guys are worth a listen. I think the biggest praise I could give this band is not in picking apart the finer points of their sound, which doesn't reinvent the wheels on the hearse, but to say of  all the music I am sent over the course of the month , this band actually earned a place on my iPod which is a feat considering the amount of music I ingest not just for reviewing but for my own  personal enjoyment.  So this means that they are taking up valuable space that artists I have been
Listening to for years fight for.  So that is the highest praise I can give  an artist is to say I have been listening to them on a regular basis .      

Godhead : The Shadow Realigned

When Godhead was at their peak they were a little too Antichrist Superstar for me so despite having plenty of friends who were into them , but based on my first impression I wrote them off. Now over a decade later their newest album of remixes finds the band fast  forwarding themselves out of the 90's the robotic beehive remix of " the Gift' contains more of an EDM vibe than I remember the band ever having. The vocals are processed in such a way, that  they almost become an instrument. Harder guitar does show it's face, but never lens  itself to a Marilyn Manson feel. If these guys always sounded like this then I was missing out all the years I avoided them.

I am not a fan of commercial rock music and this is a far cry from what I normally listen to in the goth or electronic vein, which you know if you are a regular reader here. "Through the Cracks" could be played after the we just found our hi-hat version of Finger Eleven who took a similar turn into more dancey rock, though it feel more natural on this Sweet Kill remix.

Amy Lee's former co-hort Ben Moody remixes "Unrequited" . It's here i get what didn't gel for me in the past about this sort of thing, it's that the vocals are trying too hard to be radio ready, but here it almost sounds like Mike Patton when the chorus kicks in and reminds me of God Lives Underwater. I don't really hear Moody's touch here, which is fine with me. He is not a name that draws me in.

I instantly like the way the vocals and synths interplay on " Hey You" and no it's not the Pink Floyd song. There is an almost Peeping Tom feel to the vocals. It sounds like where Faith No More Might have gone after Album of the Year. There is also a pretty substantial groove to "Trapped In Your Lies" . The keyboard sounds on here are pretty great, it's much more electronic than the more guitar based stuff from the late 90's. The plunge into dub step doesn't seem forced in fact its even a logical progression and the fact its not slathered all over the album is a plus.It does sound like this might be the most re-mixed song on the album, in the way it would have to stray from their past work.

When the industrial crunch of " Inside Your World " Kicks in I was thinking what took them so long? The chorus is not what I expected but the rest of the song makes up for it. "Goodbye" allows the vocals to hover in ambiance while the more rock moment simmer in the percolating beats that bubble up from the darkness.I think the build is pretty effective here.

"Another Day" goes into the more typical electro rock place this crawled out from. The two covers on this album go down a similar darkened path, while Depeche Mode is no big surprise as far as the choice in covers go, it is much more of a surprise that they picked the Kiss classic "God of Thunder".

Take a listen below if you were like me and had written the band off mall metal back in the 90's. While they are still not the hipster style of goth revivalism , they have have taken the pieces of their past sound and crafted them into something that does not sound dated and maintains relevance in today's musical landscape,

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Weekly Shuffle

Content  has been a little sparse, been going through some stuff this week, aside from two or three songs I have listened to on repeat, today is the first day I have been able to listen to music, so for this shuffle, its going to be on the therapeutic side and hitting shuffle but only stopping on the songs that match my current, as other music seems to aggitate the skin which it doesn't feel like I'm wearing.

"Last Night I Dreamt, That Somebody Loved Me" by the Smiths

Any good depressive streak needs the Smiths. The frequencies of this song are really what registers with me, the guitar tone is rather soothing. No hope no harm just another false alarm

"the Way We Used To" by Chelsea Wolfe

Pretty much have been just listening to the same three Chelsea  Wolfe songs this week, which is going to throw her like up over the Smiths on my Lastfm.

"Shaken" by Death of Lovers

Despite the fact I can not under stand the lyrics through all the reverb on the vocals , this song fits my mood perfect. The murkiness is bittersweet.

"Numb Hand" by True Widow

This one is tolerable Because of the the pacing. The lyrics don't really resonate but the low frequency and sluggish nature of this song does, it drags like  melancholy with out moping.

"The Same Deep Water As You" by the Cure

Their guitars tones are comforting. Robert Smith's voice always resonates with me as emotional truth.   This makes his lyrics hold more weight. The guitar melody that bridges this together is genius.  The lyrics to the second verse are better.

"Start of the Break Down" by Tears For Fears

This song is almost to happy, the 80' s keyboards are playing around more than the Cure's , this seems less personal lyrically as well. It is like all of their songs incredibly sung.

"Her" by Swans

The trance like element to this song rings more true than the lyrics. This song is pretty delicate for these guys and more hopeful than most. Almost like the Cocteau Twins until the distortion crunches down to bring a more ominous cloud .

"Humiliation" by the National

This album sounds great and was the first non Chelsea Wolfe album, I listened to this week. The lyrics to this song don't register as much with me as others on this album.

"In Your Nature" by Zola Jesus

She's always good for these moods, there is something yearning about her voice. A desperation she manages to capture against the always sparse backing, I want a new electronic album from her. By the end of this song it builds up into something more happy than I can relate to.

Death Reflects Us" by Beastmilk

This is about the most upbeat song I can handle, the album overall is dark enough and perhaps other songs might have even more lyrical relevance with me.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Wounded Kings : "Consolamentum"

England's Wounded Kings would be wrongly dismissed to be lumped in with the female fronted doomish acts that flourished a few years ago like Witch Mountain and Christian Mistress. Singer Sharie Neyland's voice holds a darker more haunting quality too it that compliments the sometimes droning hover of their music.

The album opens with it's longest song the 13 minute "Gnosis". It's not until the mournful layer of guitars invokes a more funeral doom tone, that this really catches my ear in the first three minutes of hesitant riffing. One thing that keeps them from being vest metal, it the depth of their tone, which Witch Mountain tried for, but they had a more 80's metal doom sound, where these guys are more Pallbearer, in the balance of sonics. Neyland's voice goes to similar intervals of other Sabbath worshipers from back in the day like Candlemass and Trouble.

The guitars solos blister out of the thick riffs, with an abrasive sense to them at times. The keyboards are worth while layer to their sound as well to give another color, as it's not that they are recreating the wheel here, just giving it a different spin of gloom. There are moments where they hit the really spectral Mournful Congregation sound I love, but they are not as sonic in their scope.

Their is more movement in the more Sabbathy riff of "Lost Bride". Dynamically there is not as much too it as the chorus is pretty much dependent on the vocals and the only real variation in the song comes in the end section of the lat two and a half mins . "The Silence" doesn't see the band really stepping away from what they do, though the guitar is more layered and nuances on the bridge, going into what is passing for the chorus. It does build into a more sonic place, though it is dynamically not far removed, until it slides into a place that reminds me more of Pink Floyd, which is an area they should allow themselves to drift further  into. They are good at what they do , just what they do is generally too straight forward for me, I'll give it a 6.5.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Ancient Ascendant : "Echoes and Cinder"

Has the almost whispered phlegm rasp of Enslaved, set against Skeleton Witch, the mix on this album is weird it could use much more bottom end to thicken things up as it currently stands it might be icy , but the layer of frost is on a sunnier day than it needs to me, so I can imagine this will metal halfway through the album. I'll try turning it up and seeing if that helps. O.k it just has to be played very loudly, I am sure it also has to be preformed by twirling your hair in a windmill head bang as well.

It hits the weird middle ground between black metal and death metal, though I would almost say the black side takes over. The tempo stomps ahead like Khors, not reliant on blast beats, these guys are no slouches when it comes to chops , they tend to let them sit back and serve the song, with solos creeping of of the song's s transitions rather than having to steal the spot light, though there is not as much guitar heroics as say on Enslaved more recent work. The emphasis goes to groove more that you might expect, with the fist death metal vocals cropping up in the second song. A less experimental Tribulation might be a good reference point is trying to peg these guys as death metal.

"Riders " might be getting the push as the single , or the track used to promote the album, but it's the most straight forward and boring song on the album, almost to the point of being thrash: The guitar nuances that are sometimes more rock n roll is the only thing that saves it in my book. They really ride into battle on a solid gallop that goes into an odd groove against blast on "Fuelling the Flare". The song winds around a complex almost prog arrangement, but I would not say this is tech anything, as the puzzle pieces all fit rather than comes across as jarring for the sake of being jarring.

There is more Enslaved like elements , and the blast does make more appearances, the more Skeletonwitch like groove add some hooks to this. This more mid-range rasp, gets old after a while and the vocals are really the band's only weak spot, they don't come across as an afterthought as they are punched into the riffage to create the sort of abrasive coating harsh singing is meant to.

The front end of the album is more effective when they kept thing more deliberately paced as the faster paced riffing sounds like it trips them up as they race downhill. The drumming makes some interesting choices on " The Toll of Mourning" and allows the bass to cut loose a little more. The album closes out with  "Caged in the Tunnels of Time", it sounds like the main dilemma this band faces is being told they are death because when they try to replicate these claims it doesn't really stick. They hit it once really good during this time , there is a Morbid Ange moment, but the strength of the band seems top the interplay of guitar melodies that weave around one another.

I'll give this album an 8 as it works well when they lock into this epic sense of guitar melody they have a knack for and they are excellent in the feel of their arrangements, I think the slight identity crisis will be smoothed out over time.

Ringworm : " Hammer of the Witch"

This is the 5th full length by the Cleveland, hard-core band who has taken a much more metal turn since their inception in 1991.  There last album "Scars" sold me on these guys, it was always go go to angry music. It put this one my most anticipated metal releases of the year so expectations were high. This album is not much different despite the fact there are hints of Dissection influence on the opener , but by "Bleed" we are reminded that hard core come from the term "hard-core punk" as the punk element is more present than a need for breakdowns. This is still chock full of gang vocals and the straight forward sprint of the snare characteristic of punk drumming. I appreciate the fact this really takes me back to the punk - metal crossover of the 80's where bands like D.R.I, were blurring the lines between the two . The solos are much more metal , even Slayer inspired on "Leave Your Skin at the Door". This album does retain the mean snarl the others have and is consistent for the band, some of the metal elements might even just come from the fact these guys have grown as musicians, as the old saying goes once a punk bands learns how to play they start playing metal.

The riff to "Exit Life" threatens the cool riffs don't make a good song rule we have here. The vocal accents are like stabs in a knife fight so that helps the case . The production on this album is awesome for sure, the vocals benefit from it as there is a fine layer of distortion plugged into the performance and run through a filter of some sort. "Psychic Vampire" is almost too straight ahead hardcore for my tastes, until the riff entering the first minute cuts in. "King of Blood" feels a little less inspired despite the rapid chug fest and comes across a little like filler, rather than actual songwriting that allow the song to form an identity of it's own. .

The thrash vibe consumes this album, there are cool accents on the title track, that would cause hardcore dancing to break out in line in the supermarket if this was on your iPod. I think thrash fans that would be quick to dismiss the band as hardcore will be missing out. The thing about the album to me is while it is bursting with confrontational energy it doesn't strike me as being as dark as "Scars" , so when I am in my more depressive state it seems like baby sitting a hyperactive child and requires more energy to sit through it than I can muster. The Kerry Kingisms run rampant, and fans of Slayer and Hatebreed or if you are in Atlanta Death of Kings, alike would do themselves well to give this a chance. There is plenty of blatant metal moments like "One of Us is Going to Have to Die" , but the hardcore moments sometimes clutter them up like clichés. I find myself tempted to skip ahead on " Vicious Circle of Life" to search for more appealing sections.

The albums does hide some great moments like the S.O.D like groove to " Die Like Pig", that swings into a more modern hardcore style.Here some honest to god songwriting crops up and shows that this is what needs to happen. The riff to "Height of Revelation" hold more hook than most of the album, the accents are solidly arranged. These guys are still good at what they do , this album feels like a side ways step while smiling back at their Slayer collection, I'll give it a 6.5, round it up a point if you are not a depressed person with this sort of energy to spare.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

R.I.P: Selim Lemouchi

We lost one of the best guitarists you might not have ever have the pleasure of hearing,  if you did not catch the Devil's Blood live. If you are a regular reader here then you should know what high regard I hold Selim. I got the chance to interview Selim, a few years ago when they were on the tour with Behemoth, Watain and In Solitude, it never made on here as the transcript got lost before I could transpose it , but he was a very frank and intense man who was very confident in what the Devil's Blood , I remember asking him  what was the response like playing to metal audiences at a Behemoth Show, when they are more of a rock n roll, band and he said " I care less what people, think, we do what we do because this is the music we make, we put it out there as a force and if a crowd likes it or no is of little interest to me."

Then they preceded to blow me away with a very jammy Pink Floyd like set that was much different than what they did on their albums. Having already  seen some of the greatest guitarists live Fripp, Page, Gilmore, Iommi, Prince, Malmsteen...it is easy for me to number him among them. It's a shame the progression of his talent was yet to come, I did read an Interview where he said in regards to the Devil's Blood's break up that he saw it like the Rolling Stones, what was the point of them making albums after "Some Girls" , so he seemed to think that projects high point had past, despite the "...And His Enemies" project still being in a similar sonic space to the Devil's Blood.  

It has been said he was shot, but not conclusive statements have been made of late as to the exact cause of death. However watching the video below it feels very much like the death of Jon Nodveidt  the singer of Dissection, who killed himself, for reasons which might best be seen as a self sacrifice for the completion of what they considered their great work.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Enter.. the Weekly Shuffle

It amazes me how popular this column is, I just review the first ten songs that pop up in my iPod and this gets more views that reviews of bands you would are big enough to compete with my iPod. It must be the power of the nameless kitten god from the abyss that makes it so.

"All I Want" by the Cure

The kitten gos is already at work, as all Robert Smith wants is to be an animal, hold you like a dog.. or doll. Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss me  is a darker album than it gets credit for, sure its not Pornography, but there are some great drug coated guitar sounds.

"All That May Bleed" by Watain

A week ago someone said one of the silliest things I heave heard , that they don't like Watain, but like Dissection. So what you are really saying is that you don't like Erik's personality, as they take themselves much more seriously than Reinkaos. Watain blasts it in the more traditional second wave of black metal fashion. Dissection influenced these guys, and Erik even toured with them, so it's hard to separate the two at times, though the sonic scope of what they do is darker than Dissection in my book.

"All the Madmen" by David Bowie

Here Bowie, gets into some Syd Barret like prog but with T-rex powered guitars. This was next level shit, even though it might sound like typical Blue Cheer 60's rock.The bass line has crazy groove that wanders all over the place.Bowie was using Pink Floyd  as the template for what experimental was.

"All We Ever Wanted Was Everything" by Bauhaus

Oh to be.... this song is a fitting follow up to the Bowie as you can hear that era of Bowie's influence on this song. It's one of Murphy's better melodies, live his voice really kills it and this song shows a wide spread of this range and defies the typical goth spookiness.

"Alavartr" by Emperor

This song really shows what I think Emperor is about and that much more than blast beats alone.It's pretty much just and interlude , but has some great guitar playing that leads into the atmosphere.

"Don't Swallow the Cap" by The National

This album came out and I intended to review it for Soletron as I thought it was too mainstream for this blog and was prepared to rip it a new ass hole , but it surprised me and now it is still growing on me and I love it, though they are playing some festival with a bunch of hippie teeny bopper bands I hate so don't hold your breath for a live review.

"Dreamer" by Chelsea Wolfe

Back on her first album when she wrote rock songs ...or sorts. Sure she is getting played on trailers for "Game of Thrones" , but it doesn't mean anything to me, she is not a sell out and at her heart she just writes songs, this is a good example of that fact ,when she tried her hardest to be normal. This has an almost 50's doo-wop feel.

 "the House That Pain Built" by Killing Joke

They are well into their industrial phase here, and Ministry really need to fork over some of their royalties to these guys. The melody on the chorus is pretty awesome, the backing vocals work where I normally don't like gang vocals.The stiff guitar here works, in the same way it works for Kmfdm.

"Houses of the Holy" by Led Zeppelin

Well if it wasn't for all the occult references this song would be almost too happy for me. There is some good guitar playing on this, but it's Jimmy Page so how could it suck? Unless I guess it's the Firm, but I still like the song "Radioactive".

"Generation Landslide" by Alice Cooper

The lyrics are great , if I was looking to slough off some gigs taking up space and had to clear out some Alice Cooper, this might not make the cut, but her has so many great songs, the chorus is mine but it is a little Beatlesque and has more happy notes than I like from him.



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pyrrhon : "The Mother of Virtues"

It's almost a stretch to call this spastic band of New Yorkers death metal. The open up their album with the gnashing of teeth that reminds me more of Today is the Day doing meth with Angkor Wat. From there it gets sludgey on "White Flag". Their is an ugly dissonance to how the song breathes it's toxic contortions around the seething vocals that do get more growly on this song , but staying in the more acidic Today is the Day range than guttural.

They do flow through a warped metamorphosis, whose angular hysteria I appreciate. The technical side of what they do is not just relegated to shredding. The flex some muscular chop and a burly roar on "Sleeper Agent" and while it's good spastic fun, it does make me wonder how the song writing that is a haphazard collection of brilliant mistakes hold up with no melody.    

They show slightly more death metal fangs on "Balkanized", but you still get the impression despite the slight Carcassisms that they listen to way more Botch than Morbid Angel. I prefer the snarl of ... its not personal. To how the vocals were delivered earlier. They thankful get a lot darker on "Eternity In a Breath", it's almost blackened, but also gets kinda post- rock in spots. It could easily be argued by the genre police that this is more sludge than it is death metal.

The get almost Absu like on "Implant Fever" , but with less ..or any thrashing. They often find themselves in collision with the cool riffs don't make a good song, as some of these ideas sounds like they were literally thrown in a baby blender to see what kind of a mess it would make. The drummer is a champ for taking this chaos on. There is a jazz like method to his madness.  

They launch in to some ranting on "Invisible Wound" that goes back into Today is the Day mode, with some leering down at David Yow's stripped down and masturbatory presentation. Sure this is hip in New York, but this song is barely hanging together. I do like the serial killer like whine the vocals take on when the emulate Steve Austin from Today is the Day. The taste of NY that you are expect, the more Krallice or Liturgy like mathematics don't come in until "The Parasite In Winter". .

They close with the title track that slows things down to a darker pace, that I would normally be a fan of , but this song doesn't retain enough form to really hook me in .It goes into freak out mode , but never had enough shape to divest in the first place. I will round this album , up to a six because what they do in the first place is so unique and something can be said for carving out a sound for yourself.  

Report to the Dance Floor : Ready Never

Ready Never released their first album, "Eleutherophobia" this January , but main man Benny Ed is no stranger to the biz having played bass in the Latin pop market with the likes of Beto Cuevas, who won the Latin Grammy's album of the year. So it is no wonder there is a very solid skill set in place when it comes to crafting this flavor of EDM.

Their fun plastic sheen bounces synths off one another, in this futuristic joyride. The vocals glide over these colorful beat's pretty graceful, not forsaking the latin roots. The hooks are particularly strong on "Casualties", it has almost a reggae swagger to it bringing 311 to mind, in how the vocals harmonize. Even when the dynamics of the song lift off, the song maintains it's lazy West Coast feel.

For EDM fans who frequent this sit , it might sound like this is something too cheerful for you, but there are darker moments, like "Victim of Vice" that flirts with dub step. "Future Retro" plays around with some break beats while the synth pattern is more psychedelic.

This album often finds itself taking you back to the earlier days of this flavor of dance pop, with bands like Aqua, who skimmed House sensibilities without leaning too heavily on the disco inflected beats of dance hall house. "Me Myself and I" really runs with this early 2000 house sound, coupling it with live instrumentation like guitar tracks that make it stand out from your standard club fare. The latin flavor is thick in the rapped interlude.They flip back into more of a Euro sound on "My Eye Know Might" and take a similar stance with lyrically clever "Take That Pill" which in the club scene can have double meaning, though it is supposed to refer to Western Cultures need to have a prescription for everything.

This is not to say the album only draws from the ghosts of beats past as songs like "Tell Me" that would not be out of place on a Daft Punk album. Though they utilize a sense of pop melody without the aide of all the collaborators the masked Grammy winning robot duo employed. Sure there are a few auto tuned clichés, used here for a stylistic choice to achieve the current pop dance sound than out of necessity.

They also pull out a more organic rock sound on "Be My Lover Again" that combines the groove of Sublime to the grandiose pop exploits of Bruno Mars, that is given more credence in their use of live instrumentation.They don't lose the high energy dynamics of Edm in doing so, keeping the sound a balance of the two worlds as needed.

Overall... these guys show a lot of promise for what they do, the songwriting is more more thoughtful than just button pushing and the inclusion of live instrumentation is something that puts them over the faceless laptop dependent D.J.'s, so as it warms up this should be the perfect music for West Coast Beach Parties and electronic festivals.

Live Review : Purveyor of Mayhem Metal Fest

by Guest Writer- Lynn Goodson

My experience with local shows outside of  the typical East Atlanta venues is limited , despite the fact I live out in Sandy Springs. I have hit Sweetwater once and North River Tavern a handful of times all to underwhelming results. So venturing down to the Emory area to Club Famous aka Famous Pub for the "Purveyor of Mayhem Metal Fest" was an impulsive change of scenery for me.The bands coincided with my drinking for the night as the first drink was strong then watered down until last call.

The bands coincided with my drinking for the night as the first drink was strong then watered down until last call. The openers Lost Solstice, who was shocked to hear was playing their first show together, seemed to focus on sounding evil and dark, their moments of aggression came across more like Patrick Bateman from American Psycho than an axe murder gone berserk. Their songs went into unexpected places, that  their singer morphed his voice to fluidly suit. The clubs PA was lacking, but Lost Solstice were troopers and played through the technical glitches. Lost Solstice's sound could be best summed up in how my fellow drinkers described them like the blind men and the Elephant, each had their own opinion based on what part of their set they were struck by as comparisons ranged from Tool to Black Flag to "the Cure meets the Exorcist" .

Next up was Dead Rites, came across  like a more Hot Topic take on what Muckraker would do after them , but it would be hard pressed to call them goth, in fact the lumberjack looking Lost Solstice was closer to goth than Dead Rites. Dead Rites might have gotten the best mix , but reminded me too much of the first Misfits album without Danzig on it that came out senior year of high school and I'd rather forget that. They band seemed cluttered on the stage despite their singer's best efforts to take command. Their merch seemed to be selling pretty well and at least two of the other bands were wearing one of their shirts , so they do have that going for them.  

Muckraker tried harder to hit rock start poses than act naturally on stage. They reminded me of Godsmack and all the things about Metallica that inspire me to turn the station whenever they cross the XM dial. They fell closer to what I expect from suburban rockers in Atlanta. They did inspire me to switch over to domestic draft beer and hunt down greasy tater tots. Sound wise their songs were not hampered by the club's murky sound, as every thing was straight up power chords banged out in a manner that did not demand finesse. There style of rock was so straight it could have used a little chaser, but they were certainly into playing it and were giving it their 100 percent.

The domestic beer and the watered down shots that followed, made my head hurt too much to really give  Gored By a Deer my full attention, but I got enough of an ear full, to catch their punchlines.  They played a style of metal that once populated places like Swayzes. I would be surprised to hear that these guys were not from Cobb County. They sported the hair styles you would expect of the KillSwitch Enagey kind of teenage hardcore, they played well, but reeked of the kind of bands that use to send me friend  requests on Myspace. Too hard to be emo, but not enough hair on their chest or testicles to sell me on them being metal. I'm sure there's an audience for them some where, one drunk next to me suggested they should listen to more Slayer and stop dancing around , which would be sound advice.

The Bone Church hit me like my last drink and inspired me to throw it back up in the bathroom midway into their set, which I think saved me from getting a DUI on the way back to Sandy Springs. It was good to hear a female singer fronting a metal band that didn't feel the need to be Night Wish or Flyleaf. One of my friends compared them to IWRESTLEDABEARONCE , which is understandable, but the band was more straight forward and thrashy, they had already taken a drunks advice and listened to enough Slayer to keep them them focused on face melting and less into scene dancing. I wish I had been a little more sober to really take them in,  and the sound did not improve by the time they took the stage, despite the warning of squealing feedback that often ran me from the room,  but what I fully ingested I really enjoyed and made me wish my ten dollars had gone to seeing them and Lost Solstice at some where like the Earl or Drunken Unicorn.    

Issues: " S/T"

The over at Metal Sucks, seem to be fascinated with Nu Metal, so much so they tend to cry out like Chicken Little that it's making a comeback and claimed this band was going to be leading this. Nu Metal died in lets say 2000, for people who live in urban environments and  are aware of changes in the musical climate, it gave way to emo-core stuff of Myspace so 14 years seems premature for a genre to see a cyclic return, but music is pretty stagnant today so stranger things have happened.

I was unaware these guys were from Atlanta...or the suburbs of which makes more sense, and features members of Woe is Me whose Singer Tyler Carter came out as being bi-sexual so the Johnath Davi like ambiguity is in tact at least . He also has a penchant for covering Katy Perry and Justin Beiber songs, for those Punk goes Pop comps.

From the first song "Sad Ghosts" I don't really feel the Adidas, but this is more of  djent like take on the whole Myspace metal, that happens to have some turntables and pop vocal, if they bust out verse or go with the whole soft to loud Deftones thing, I might have this more claim more credence. I find them less annoying than Linkin Park was. The marriage of One Direction to djent, which if we are going to call a spade a spade is what this really has more in common with then Coal Chamber.

The almost Bruno Mars elements to the opening of "Mad at Myself" is pretty blatant and the ATL urban scheme of the lyrics doesn't ever break into rap, it does remind me Framing Hanley's cover of Lil Wayne's Lollipop. The sometimes sounds like a happier version of Enter Shikari, its not until "Life of A Nine" drop that things get krunk in nu metal direction. But is it anything that Blood on the Dance Floor hasn't already been doing ?

The more djent sound returns , but this time is accompanied by a more Korn like harsher emotive vocal.The clean vocals on this album as cheese filled as they are swoop into to save the songs. The trap music elements that are sprinkled with what sounds like j-pop house music bleeps and blips could work, the late 90's don't really do the House of Pain jump until later in the song. There are moments when this sounds like Alien Ant Farm and they don't have the angst of Slipknot, but this is better than half the of the pop on the radio.

There is a more j-pop dance feel to "Late". This one is less djent and more myspace , mall core and I am sure the catchy neon -t-shirts  they sell, will go over big at Hot Topic these days. It is interesting that pop and hip-hop element have replace the Tool influence that prevailed over most of the more worthwhile.. it it was worthwhile Nu-metal in the late 90's and when Tool transitioned over into A Perfact Circle bands started wanting to have their own power ballads and 30 Seconds to Mars started selling tons of albums before doing drag.

An old skool hip-hop element starts off "Old Dena" which is more of an interlude, I am surprised there is not more dub-step on this album as that seems a more logical band wagon to be jumped on here.  There is a much more Meshuggah like riff at the beginning of "Stringray Affliction".  There is one of the more Bruno Mars like breakdowns in the middle of this which is more convincing than the more djent elements.

I am surprised at this point that I have made it this far through the album, they assume a pop punk beat on " Never Loses Your Flames" that doesn't gel with vocals and the whole song seems more disjointed and filler than some of the tighter hooked writing earlier in the album. "Personality Cult" is just more along the lines of Myspace Mallcore, the riffage at times borders on more Slipknot like phrasing but the masked men from Iowa have a darker element they bring to what they did. This also lack any sort of Pantera influence which weighed heavily on Nu Metal. The closest they come to one of Dimebag's farts is on " the Settlement"

The duet with Nylo on " Tears on the Runway" is an odd choice and the song loses what ever advantage it gains in this creative twist with the breakdowns that at this point have gotten old. When the band closes the album, it has exhausted the brief fun pop elements, and seem to try to be taking themselves more seriously than the songs warrant. I'll give this one a 4 and declare if Nu Metal is making a come back it's the fault of of the same djent that Metal Sucks has kissed the ass of.                  

Arctic Flowers: "Weaver"

Reviewing an album off  Bandcamp to me feels like reading the book on a Kindle, I don't like it , so it must tell you how much I was anticipating the new Arctic Flowers to go this route. The first impression is their is more punk here and less of the darkness that earned them the death rock tag. It's also much more straight forward at time even reminding me of bands like Sleater Kinney or Rainer Maria.

Despite the overall more punk direction the bulk of the album tends to head in their are still some overlaying guitar melodies that bring in the more death rock elements , though it doesn't have the  drug gutters of West Hollywood at midnight feel that a band like Christian Death captured.

It's not until the third song "Ex Oblivione" that I hear strains of the more post-punk elements, as the guitar is picked out in a more melodic manner. The bass player still has the New Model Army style chops.The drums however really follow  to straight forward of a punk beat for me. Some of the more punk elements come from the production which is often more raw than not.

"Byzantine" is the first song that really registers with me as being dark enough to satisfy my tastes, and has almost more of a metal drive in places. "Dirges Well" also touched on their dark side. After a few listens and getting over the shock that this album was not the step forward from "Procession" I expected, the more punk direction begins to grow on me, but it's not something that I really feel like I would get much mileage from.

I will give this album a 6 as it might be a slight disappoint me for me to hear them default into punk, but I think there are a few strong songs that might make up for this when it comes to die-hard fans. Hopefullt they have gotten this out of their system and can move on to a more logical place of growth from the superior "Procession"

Monday, March 3, 2014

Dread Sovereign: "All Hell's Martyrs"

This Irish band ignores the black or post trends of the past decades and goes back to a more meat and potatoes traditional sound in the vein of St. Vitus. Despite having a more experimental intro track the opener could have come out of the 80's with the more modern elements not coming into play until the second song, where Primordial influence comes into play.

The retro sound of the first song didn't really blow me away and I feel it's until "Cthulu Opiate Haze" that the band really warms into their songwriting. The vocals stray from the second string Ozzy-isms and gain a little more rasp to them , yet more tuneful than if they were just growled.

The album moves forward with the times as it progresses. Their is more of a sludge grunge to "Pray to the Devil in Man". The vocals border somewhere between Primordial and Solitude Aeturnus . When the growls do come they are right on time. Things build up into a more sludgecore sense making them appropriate. so I applaud the restrain and sparse use of harsh vocals here rather than just defaulting to them. The lyrics are pretty good on this album as well.

There is a little more in the way of sonics in the rumble of "Iron Scourge" . It has a pretty ripping guitar solo to and for the most part simmers around like some of the more recent Primordial. Some Sabbath like moment come later in the album and the St. Vitus comparison only stick around for the first few songs.

His lower mid-range clean voice is only where he sounds like Wino. By the time we get to "Cathars To Their Doom" the album begins to sound the same to me. It comes to a close with the title track that is the longest at a lumbering 13 minutes. They do hit a darker more sonic almost funeral doom type riff here that has some pretty cool accents. The lyrics talk about skinning Jesus's skin and wearing it in mockery, which pretty much outdoes Glen Benton.

While I doubt despite the uber satanic lyrics this will get much play in the ole iPod, but it's well crafted and goes to some places metal has since forgotten in terms of melody. It does reek of Primordial and I would rather have Primordial album taking up the disk space,  but never the less I will round it for to a 7 for excellence in execution.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Nothing : "Guilty of Everything"

The Shoe gaze movement is poised to be the next big thing in indie rock . If you were going to pick a band to bet on to break the biggest waves, the money would be on the  Philly band Nothing. Blending a  dreamy natures with 90's rock sensibility. They are by no means metal , but are still band heavier than Alcest's most recent outing. The vocals  retain their smooth whisper even when the guitar tenses up around them.

Songs like "Bent Nail", carry the propulsion of  rock while floating  away with you. "Guilty of Everything"  earns repeat listens  as these songs breeze right by you. The juxtaposition  more pronounced on the shift in  " Endlessly" . While "Get Well" runs into more rock territory not unlike Sliversun Pick Ups or Smashing Pumpkins. They don't care about radio friendly production as their guitars take on a more indie rock fuzz to them.

The only draw back a few of these song's has is the way the breeze by sometimes doesn't even register , if you haven't had your first cup of coffee and it fades into background music. There are some really great guitar sounds on here like how "Somersault" almost nails the Cocteau Twins heavenly tone. I do think when they allow their guitars to revert to the more indie punk jangle after hearing them able to conjure the clouds down that it's dumbing it down.

"B&E"  is not black metal, but  builds a crescendo into the albums heaviest moment, a blistering tremolo picked section,   closer to black metal than Russian Circles attempt to head in that direction on their last album. The title track closes out the album, with a distorted guitar ringing against the deliberate pound of the drums. This song works off a similar ebb and flow the album seems to work best on, its a formula the band doesn't deviate from , but they approach with a different twist on each song.

They recreate the best of the early 90's on "Beat Around the Bush".They languish on the riffs letting them drone by like water flowing under a sheet of ice.They chant of " god and man our souls are spent" rings out in an eerily. They tend to shimmer even more than Hum, though that would be the band their guitar tone most closely resembles when the distortion pedals are stomped upon. Overall I'll give this album delivers what it needs to and secures there place at the top of the shoe gaze heap.I'll give it a 9 as it's dips into garage punk are the only parts that keep it from perfection.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Masses: " Horde Mentality"

Another entry into the death rock...ish revival is this Australian band  whose biggest claim to fame is their debut EP is produced by Phil Calvert of the Birthday Party. As far as punk goes they are more firmly rooted on the Joy Division side of the fence , though their is still a very reckless Bellicose Minds like punk feel.
This album has some excellent well rounded drumming that drives the point home rather than defaulting to disco beats. The males vocals are a little shaky, but this is their first album and on the first Beastmilk I wasn't convinced on their vocals and now they are their strong point. However when the females vocals supplement the wavering baritone, it works nicely.

The vocals began to remind me of "One Step Beyond" by Madness, though the more Cure inflected guitar manages to keep me generally distracted from this fact. They did achieve a really solid bass sound on this album, which for what they are going for here is a crucial element. The keyboards darken things and keep it just from sounding like punk-rock.

In a smart move the female singer takes on the vocals for the verses. The male vocals grab the chorus creating an interesting interplay, that they should continue to explore. Their songs are more punk than not to the point and punchy. "Seasons" closes out the album. The tension in the guitar work is pretty effective on this one, the vocal pattern shifts and the keyboards continue to creep things out a tad.

I think this band has a lot of potential, the male vocals seemed like a muck less refined version of what Bellicose Minds does, but I appreciate the effort all around. Like to hear some of the dark sounds here expanded into something more sonic and melodic, I'll give it a 6.5. Check it out if you are starving for some post-punk revival .    

Nadja: "Queller"

This is the duo's 35th full length so you hope they know what they are doing at this point. Some friends of mine were raving about this like it was the perfect blend of shoegaze with sludge, so I went in with high expectations. My initial response was rather under whelming, though with further listens the layers of subtle melody do seep in a bit, but the fuzzed out production creates a murk I suppose that is intended by doesn't get with me as a listener even though I respect what is being done here.

There is a very  Jesu vibe on most of this album though the vocals aren't as strong and are more meagerly sung. Some of the more droney elements could but dialed back a bit for my taste buds as well. On the opener what would have been a more dynamic. Sure it is slow but as a general rule you would be hard pressed to call this album sludge.

A more cohesive My Bloody Valentine like distortion cranks up on "Mouths". The hushed vocals step up in the mix here and give it more of the feeling this is an actual song. The chorus seems well thought out , and the vocals as slight of a sonic element as they are don't seem like just an after thought. There is an element to this song that makes me think this is what A Perfect Circle would sound like if they ever got smacked out. It does lift off at the end like a more pounding version of "Obscured by Clouds". But I would not yet say the album hits a metal moment.

The album maintains it's ebb and flow. Only 4 songs it still breaks the thirty minute mark."Liderc" it darkens up closer to what some may consider sludge. The vocals disappear behind the wall of fuzzed bass. It sounds like some growling might be occurring , though the effectiveness of it is diminished as it is so buried in the mix. This song does develop a few pulse point, but is hot and cold in the manner it throbs.

The title track employs more of a riff, which in fact brings Godflesh to mind. This song also is really the only song on here that touches on metal in a tangible fashion. They jame on this riff for the first five minutes of the song , so you better like it. The only problem is when they build it up at the end the pay off is a fuzzed out sonic freak out, sure being experimental is cool and all, but noise here seems to be a slight dynamic cop out.

There are some elements I like, but this is on the inconsistent side for my tastes I'll give it a 6.5 as the second half of the album doesn't hold up as well. If you are a fan and have the other 34 albums then give it another point.