Friday, October 31, 2014

Funeral Bloom: "Petals"

Texas is becoming the new France. France was once constantly knocking out innovative new metal and now it looks like the Lone Star state is threatening to take that crown away. This Austin band reminds you of when  black gaze almost became a thing. That didn't happen as shoe gaze went on to once more  find it's own way with out the metal trappings This  band is still holding the flame that only Deafheaven really carries now that Alcest has gone the way of elf rock. Their more black metal side is looser in their attack than Deafheaven, they go into more post-punk like clean vocals at times, rather than being limited to just the harsh vocals.

"Black Shoes" opens the album with a steady post- rock beat , shimmery guitar and samples setting the mood before they launch in a seizure of blast beats. The harsh vocals are the kind of nonsensical snarl that you can't imagine actually meaning anything. The lower spoken clean vocals come in fairly early at the three minute mark of this 11 minute expansive journey of a song. The harsh vocals form more of a chant in the back ground against them. The vocals here aren't really sung, but provide and interesting if not odd counterpoint. The strength seem to be the way they smoothly transition from one passage to the next after the initial launch into the black metal which is more of an abrasive switch.

The bass is audible in this album which is a plus when it comes to black metal, though despite what labels you might read associated with the band it's no where near the kind of drive that would make this post-punk. Most songs wander a broad expanse more common with post rock."Cherry Orchard" doesn't find it's blast of black metal until three minutes in. The songs lull you in until they explode in this very temper tantrum like state of black metal countered by some beautiful passages, that help set them apart from all the other Deafheaven imitators. They might be even more convincing in the post- rock sections than they are in the black metal parts, as they seem more natural. The drumming more sure of it's self and the guitars have a better sense of melody at that pace.

 The lower post-punk vocals sing more at the end of "Cherry Orchard" and they also hold a similar Death In June like timber when the song "Lust" takes a darker turn."Lust" starts off a tranquil and minimalist as you might want your post rock, a few samples murmuring over it like a babbling brook, all is well as it builds ...until the five minute mark when it gets pounded home. The harsh vocals work best here and this is probably the album's strongest track.There is a cool break down that does actually touch on more of a post punk thing. The heavier elements are well accented instead of the more spastic thing that happens at the onset of "Naked".

 The incoherent howls clash against the trickling guitar. The drums take a swing at anything in the song that moves and the bass disappears , when it could have been the glue. That is just in the first two minutes, before the calm down and take deep breaths to pull it together. The drums excel in a section where they compliment the return to creepiness and they fall back to be tensely hesitant. The bass comes more to the forefront here as well, but you can't help but wonder if it was up in your face how much more powerfully it could carry the song.The final three minutes even hits a section that reminds me of newer screamo bands before they metal it up.

This one gets a 9 for now and we will see how it grows on me. Far from perfect in the execution of all elements in play here, but there are so many that it breezes by you. This is evident as this is one of those albums I can just leave on like the majority of Autumn For Crippled Children's catalog.  

Interview : Artist David Van Gough

It was after coming across the "Serial Killer Culture"documentary on Netflix, that I discovered the amazing art of David Van Gough who was featured in the film for a series of paintings he did based of the Murder of Sharon Tate. While other artists who appeared in the film merely paid morbidly endearing homage to various serial killers David's work explored deeper esoteric truths that resonated with me in a way only the art of Mark Ryden and Alex Grey have. So it's an honor to have Mr. Van Gough take the take to do this interview with me .

Wil : How has the response to your work changed since your appearance in the Serial Killer Culture Documentary? 

David ...It's definitely gotten me more exposure, which has been a massive integral shift for me. I'll tell you something that a lot of people don't know, but two years ago, I crashed pretty hard after I did the Man/son show. I was mired in all the usual self pity bullshit of post show blues, and I was coming up to my forty fifth Birthday with the notion that I was completely cast adrift as an artist. The show had gotten one glowing review in a small independent blog- but largely it had been unrecognized by the 'scene', and so it became more and more apparent to me that the arbiters of the Art mainstream could give a flying monkeys arse about what I did, regardless. So Purgatorium was going to be my very final show, which was why I used the arc of Tempest -you know, the alchemist Prospero exiled on an island, breaking his staff over his knee at the end of the story, and I know it all sounds very melodramatic, but that was going to be it, one last blast, a bitter retort of crashing my plane so to speak.  And then the week I was away in San Francisco preparing for the new show, Serial Killer Culture hit Netflix, and my inbox literally blew up with book orders, and hundreds of emails, and they were all wonderful and supportive, personal snapshots of peoples lives who connected directly with what I was doing, and so it was hugely vindicating, and polarized absolutely in my mind that I have a place in the mire, that my work exists as a cognitive forces  in peoples lives, and it doesn't depend on whether I am acknowledged by an elite magazine or whatever.

Wil : When you saw the final edited version of what were your initial feelings in regard to your segment?

David ...More Vaseline on the lens next time John.

Actually,it was better than I'd hoped-I was desperately hungover-and worried I'd had a tendency to waffle, but what you see in the end is condensed from takes of a three hour conversation and I think that is were John Borowski should get full credit as a director, because in the chasm of information I unloaded,  he managed to find the kernel of what I was saying and encapsulate it to around twenty minutes.

 If only it had been fifteen Mr Warhol.

Wil: What music do you find most inspiring to your work?

 David ... It's very much judged by the moment. For instance I listened none stop to the White Album-particularly Revolution 9 when I was producing the Man/son series. Try doing that when its a 109 degrees with Charlie's voice in your head , it will send you doolally.  I listen to a lot of other  things-lot of classical music or Electronica, but probably cap it to a period no later than around 1979-1980 for some reason. Maybe there's some kind of mercurial static coming through the grooves that embodies the end of something innate that was lost after that. Or maybe it  just resonates, because a lot of it is what I was listening to as a teenager. I mean, anyone who knows me, knows I am going on a thirty year love affair with Bowie's music, so I did listen to 'The Next Day'-particularly the title track a lot whilst I produced the last series.  It was so venomous.

Wil : Of all the artists in the Serial Killer Culture Documentary, the whole true crime element , even in your Manson series, seemed to be secondary to the occult influences, what this intentional ?

 David...Absolutely, it's that thing again that speaks of a certain period, and the 70's-when I first became aware of Manson and Sharon Tate- was steeped in occultism. There's this whole school of thought that I've recently discovered called Hauntology, but it embodies all of influences that were around then, and maybe it was a hangover from the 60's, Leary's open doors of perception and all that, but it was this cultural dilution of esoteric ideas through media, so what you got were kids TV shows on the BBC like Children of the Stones, or a double page spread on Exorcisms in the News of the World. It was all this latent, heavy stuff that I was exposed to, that sent me on a path of study, so when I approached the Manson case as a series, it was all going to be from the ritualistic standpoint. Of course, its only when you sit down and research that particular case, that you unravel all kinds of occult threads of dark intent.

Wil : You have said you that aside from surrealism you identify most closely with the Necrorealism movement that came out of Russia in the 70's , but rather than exploring the pyschopathological , aspect you look at spiritual side of death, how did your exposure to Catholicism growing up influence this ? 

David... In the most fundamental way. Catholicism-or any religious institutionalization for that matter is just ritualizing the cult of death on a orthodox level,but in the bitter end, it's all just candy coating, the beautification of decay, the celestial grandification of oblivion. I lay a lot of the blame for my spiritual hangup at the door of things I experienced each ;as a child; the effigies of a bloodied Christ hanging like butchers meat or the medieval tapestries ensuring hellfire, it's this po-faced Renaissance ideal promising divine sacraments and absolution in the face of absolute horror- that is the true kiss of death.

 Wil : Both the Hammer  Films and Polanski's horror movies  seem to set the stage for people to feeling more comfortable in exploring sexuality in the context of horror films, than in the traditional sense which has been just as demonized as Horror in the States. How do you see that side of sensuality expressed in your work? 

Good question, I think with my own work, I am just following that very European tradition of sex and death, the clash between Eros and Thanatos. So with something like the Man/son series, it began with my desire to cast Sharon Tate as the ultimate tragic muse,and to me her burgeoning sensuality became part of this purification process that had happened because of her murder, into a mythological chaste Madonna figure. It was such a dichotomy in the media, and I get a sense of the same thing happening in Horror- particularly with slasher movies-because the proliferation of killing women is at the core-seems to me a very misogynistic device to cast female sexuality as profane.

 Wil :  One of the themes to your works looks to be the juxtaposition of horror and beauty, which side of the equation do you feel is the most natural to convey? 

David ...For me, one is not exclusive of the other. By that I mean that I think it's a very normal and natural human response to look at a beautiful scene, stand by a lake or whatever,  and feel a prevailing sense of  mournful melancholy that the moment is transient and that the shadow of mortality is nestling under a damp log somewhere. The end of beauty is the true horror, because in essence,the need to attain beauty is an eternal aspiration in us all.

Wil :With the Thelemic Star in Helter Skelter and the use of Nuit, how else has the exploration of the Golden Dawn/O.t.O influenced your work?

David ...Since the tendrils of research for the Man/son showcase, led right back to the feet of Madam Blavatsky, I suppose it was inevitable that I would appropriate some of the emblems inherent with Theosophy, and in doing so I'm using sacred motifs and symbols which the O.T.O  adopted for their own nefarious ends, but I wouldn't say that it goes beyond that, and I mean the alchemical texts and pictogram's from something like the Splendor Solaris resonate much more as an influence overall.
That said, I did refer to the beautiful illustrations from the Thoth deck on the last series, and I even fashioned one of the new pieces-'Poor worm, thou Art infected' with the spirit of Crowley,Craddock and sex magick in mind.

Will : I have always felt creating art in any form is one of the most genuine majickal expressions, do you feel it has a meditative or spiritual quality for you ? and if that's the case Why do you think the arts are being phased out schools if they could help children on a deeper level?

David ...Most definitely, and I agree,it is my spiritual epicenter, the apex of my entire being. I believe Art-at least in a certain figurative form- is like a majickal incantation, a kind of aesthetic, grand eloquence or self actualization. On a broader cultural scale, I think it has the same foundation for society-it is the reflection by which we measure ourselves, it's the context of our aspirations and the parable of our endurance- Art elevates a space and affects on a deep subterranean level much in the same way the weather or the color of a room does.    If Art then can be and do all of these things, why isn't fundamentally part of the school curriculum? 

Put another way, why wouldn't a Corporately invested government body want to foster a generation of independent thinkers with the capacity for expanded consciousness? I  don't believe it takes basic Algebra to figure that one out.

Will : There has always been an interest in the shadow side of the spiritual expression and it seems to go reflect the direction society is headed at the time in the 80's and early 90's the Church of Satan saw a resurgence as we were showy and indulgent,  this was followed by the more reflective Kabbalah boom and several mass marketed new age trends, but it seems Crowley is having a resurgence what do you think this says about the path the world is now ? 

David ...
I don't see it as some turn into a great moral abyss, as some would have us believe, I just see it as a fundamental spiritual need to fill the ever widening hole of questioning, that Orthodox religion cannot, because ultimately religious doctrine is archaic and accommodates so little of twenty first century thinking. Perhaps there is a similar angst or revolutionary idealism that what was prevalent during the late 60's, when Crowley was last in fashion, but I don't sense the same spirit of those times, I feel its a lot more apathetic and possibly just window dressing.

Wil : What new projects are in the works for you that we should  keep an eye out for ? 

David ...
Well I just opened up a new studio at La Bodega gallery here in San Diego, and I'm seeing if I want to expand upon Purgatorium as a sort of secondary exhibit or if the new works might be something entirely different.

There will certainly be a book of the series though-a hardback volume with annotations and unseen sketches for sure, and then maybe another book which is more research based, a continuation of the study I started on the Man/son series expounding the whole theory of sinister architecture.   Oh, and there may also be a graphic novel tying up something I started twenty years ago, but we'll see about that one.

Wil : Thank you for your time, your work immediately resonated with me and it's an honor to be able to have this chance to get your insights into it.

...My pleasure Wil, it's so integral that there are forums like this one that are counter point to the quagmire.

Occultation : "Silence in the Ancestral House"

Occult rock got to be a thing some where on the heals of Devil's Blood and Ghost. Most were retro doom with female belters fronting the band. While none have really been able to hold a candle to the Devil's Blood, Selim is dead and I am over it enough to accept contenders. My first outing with this band the production was so re-verbed out it was hard for the album to hold any balls.

This go around the production is improved and they are going a slightly darker route. There are winding prog riffs that spill out from the gloom.There guitarist hails from Negative Plane, so he is no slouch and not unlike the last album the band's strong point. The vocalist sits more properly in the mix, her melodies are more obtuse than not, leaving the guitar to pick up the slack. At times she has abandoned the Grace Slick thing for a more Siouxsie approach, but never locks in and drifts around the winding riffs.They find a more traditional doom vibe on "All Hallow's Fire" that works and allows the more Blue Oyster Cult guitar explorations to wander, while  having something to ground them.
"The Place Behind the Sky" takes on a hypnotic tone with almost neo classical King Crimson like intervals. This lulls you into a trance and fades into the back ground.The vocals almost lock in on "The Dream Tide", but everything is swirling around it in such a fashion it is hard to imagine where they should fall so perhaps its working. They do have all the elements fall into place on "Forever Hereafter" even the vocals works here. The drumming is pretty creative, knowing when the groovy almost disco beat works best and is rarely taking a more metal approach.

The title track closes out the album and opens with a much more Siouxsie like feel. I had heard death rock thrown around in regards to this album and it's not really founded in any ting but slight turns to a more shadow like side of the band. At the three minute mark the band touches on a section that really moves the song then drops it down to just the bass line and spookiness.

I will give this one an 8.5, it sounds better and the songs do have proggy almost middle eastern elements that pull you into the trip, but the effects of this drug disorient me in a way where I can not feel where the song is going or if it's like a spinning room and the motion leads to the same place over and over.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Anaal Nathrakh:"Desideratum"

Right from the onset of band's 8th slab you can hear the difference , as this one carries a much cleaner sound.The Brits have stepped up their game in terms of quality, though the almost djent like elements of the opening piece might puzzle some hard core black metal fans who prefer the band's earlier. But in terms of growth where would they been if they just listened to fan who wanted them to remake "the Codex Necro" again and again.

"Unleash'' is the aftershock of the opener. Blending black metal chaos with Emperor like clean singing. At some points this combination almost comes across more like Strapping Young Lad, as there are more commercial and industrial elements, that could push these guys through into more mainstream metal audiences. Their is almost a Slipknot feel to "Monstrum in Animo". The more sweeping black metal passage sorts this out, but the hammer of the  double bass and how tightly it's dialed in does create a more mall mall sound. However if this is mall metal it's being done right.

" The One Thing Needful" plunges you into a whirlwind of spastic blackened metal. They have long abandoned worrying about if they are black metal enough or not, the Emperor worship is the only that really burns that dark flame, as we have breakdown and epic guitar runs galore coming in from every angle. A "beautiful People" like industrial pound opens up "A Firm Foundation of Unyielding Despair", but aside from the break of mega phone spoken vocals it begun to sound like the song before it.And thus begins the ritualistic flogging of the dead horse. The title track has some variance in the riff , but it comes at you foaming at the mouth in an all too familiar fashion. The song builds to a warp speed momentum and loses all sense of dynamics as it hurtles by you faster than you are able to take it what is going on, and perhaps the reason for this is that there is not much in terms of originality, this could be one of a thousand bands. The songs reflect this in the fact that they are all roughly under the four minute mark.

We stay on similar grounds for "Idol". The pacing is almost identical to other songs, and the hooks on the clean vocals are beginning to run together as well. There is more of a Motorhead barrelling to "Of Maggots and Humanity" this is interspersed with the chaos of the other songs. The Slipknot feeling begins to slip up on me again. There are some pretty catchy riffs on this one, but Slipknot has some of those as well. The "Joystream" blast off maybe even faster than some of the other songs on here, though the melody in the pound of the verse is more solid than some of the other songs, the almost Chino like screams are a little bit of a turn off.

"Rage and Red" finds us back to any other song on here. The squeals around the edges , the insane drums that would be more impressive if I heard them carry a more memorable groove sometime. They consistently throw the kitchen sink at you here and some people might be into that sort of thing, while I prefer songs . This point in the album it is clearly masturbatory The final song is slightly more  black metal and throws a little less at you like the auditory cluster fuck that makes up the bulk of the album.

Even for all of it's flaws in the song writing department, the execution and big sound that they have put together can not be denied, so this album gets an 8, even though I personally don't see myself listening to this on a regular basis, though it has been on the bulk of the afternoon, while I have been working on this so , who knows, brace yourself if you are a long time fan as it's a step closer to the mainstream, but on their own terms.

The House of Capricorn : "Morning Star Rise"

This one was discovered in the ancient manner of flipping through a metal magazine in a book store one day. I wrote the name down so I would not forget, then looked them up the next day.Not unlike the days of old the description was much different than the sound I found, but I am not complaining. The new album from this New Zealand based band starts off with dark driven rock tinged storm that comes at you head on like Motorhead jamming with Sisters of Mercy. The rock elements take a more melancholic shift. They keep things just as heavy sonically as they do metal.

"Shrouded King" almost gets too rock n roll for me, the singer's voice begins to remind me a little of the dude from Primordial. with this rock element there comes with what some might consider either a dab of pretense or cheese depending on where you tastes sit. But these guys are still rock n roll in the way earlier Beast Milk was.

Doom is another label that gets thrown around in regard to this band and "Ashland" is the first song where this is hinted at. They seem proud of the fact they hail from the swamps of New Zealand, no matter what part of the world your swamp is in as the murky water colors this sometimes in a similar shade as Acid Bath. They return to a more fuzzed bass style of dark rock on "The Only Star in the Sky". It's almost like upbeat doom, in the manner the riffs are still mournful despite being pushed forward by the drums.It become undeniable there is something very 90's lurking under it all here, but fortunately it comes from my favorite corners of the 90's .

The straight forward balls to the wall and foot on the monitor brand of rock pumps on in "Ivory Crown". These black denim moments is not the band at their  most creative. While still straight forward they do more interesting things with the chords to "Watching Angels Fall". The lyrics to this song and the other while holding Satanic elements come across more seriously than say H.I.M or Ghost.

They return to a more doom heavy sound on the closing dirge "Dragon of Revelations" which at nine minutes is also the album's longest song.The arrangement to this song and many others is fairly straight forward pounding one thematic riff home until it builds into the chorus. I'll give this one a 9 and see how it grows on me , I can see my girl friend who is more forgiving about rock n roll getting more mileage out of this one than me, but it's still a pretty bad ass meeting of dark sounds with balls behind it. Keep and eye out for this one when Svart Records drops it on November 7th.                                                        

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Leonino:"Naked Tunes"

Jorge Gonzales is the former vocalist for Los Prisioneros, who were one of the biggest Chilean acts  if not of all time then certainly dominated the 80's. Leonino is the name of Jorge's new project. "Naked Tunes" opens with  "I Think We Should Be Friends" doesn't carry that much of a Latin influence. It sounds like any number of new wave artists who crossed over into the 90's, Joe Jackson being the first that comes to mind. Jorge takes more of a soulful approach on the following "Don't Change Your Mind." that is very minimal except for his vocals which are spoken in a manner similar to rap. An intresting choice of delivery, not unlike his choices to  combines an odd array of organic instruments like harmonica in his work.

 The more upbeat "My Time is Gonna Come" has hints of Prince which I had detected in some of the earlier songs, but here it stands out in his phrasing, it is more along the lines of "Sign O the Times" . He dips into more of folk direction on "My Love Will Set You Free". The lyrics are sometimes shakey due to the fact English is not his first language, but he manages to sell you on them any way.The guy has sold over two million records to the production is far from an issue, and he knows what he is doing int terms of the way the vocals are sometimes layered. He has a decent pop voice that gets the job done. his strength is keeping on you toes like the surprising country elements that creep into the tail end of "My Love Will Set You Free" are unexpected. The only complaint is he sometimes hangs on the hook a little long that it comes close to wearing out it's welcome. "Not a Sound" finds an interesting electronic back drop.It makes me think of John Lennon trying his hand at Kraut rock. Marino Scopel lends vocals to the song as well. Jorge takes  a bizarre soulful turn on "How Many Times Did You Save My Soul" he once again gets by with a little help from his friends as Argenis Brito lends his talents to the track.The lyrics here are an improvement as he reflects on his struggles with addiction.

 The album takes a slower turn with the ballad "It Wasn't Mean to Me" . There is a slight Latin jazz flavor here.The song writing sounds like a mix of  Prince and the Plastic Ono band, not only here, but often the  backing vocals are layered very much like a Prince song. The Lennon comes from  how John Lennon gave every thing in his songs  lots of breathing room in this solo work. "After the Big War" has more of a Lennon feel to it. It's an upbeat folk with a slight Paul Simon cadence to it. "Down By the River" has a 90's feel to it, the guitars carry the Latin swing, the Prince once again struts it's stuff here as well. The Lyrics sound like they could have come from any 80's r&b slow jam. Where he really grabs my attention is on "There is a Light" that closes out the album. His vocals live up to the album's title "Naked Tunes" as it is all stripped down to layers of his voice  that are laid out and bared in beautiful harmony. It is layered as well like something Imogen Heap might have pulled off in her earlier work.The minimal piano that edges into the song doesn't take the focus of the vocals and only give  minimal support as an under current.

 It's clear Jorge is doing something right here if he consistently brings to mind greats like Prince and Lennon, though not the lyricist either one of those legends are, he does have a similar ear when it comes to arrangements and how to place the sounds on this record. Prince is a militant perfectionist so that's another testament to how good this album sounds. This guy has been at it for three decades, and his experience pays off on this album. It's not at all guitar driven , but simply quirky pop,so if you appreciate artists like Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello or Bryan Ferry's solo work, you can't say he really sounds like any of them ,but his music comes from a similar place and worth checking out.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Usnea: Random Cosmic Violence

Seems like they are even darker and doomier than before, this sacrificed a little of the death metal element from the first album, but that is fine by me as they have open a new door to a different dimension of sounds. The drone of the spoken vocals at the beginning of "Lying in Ruin" is not far removed from something you might find on an older Atriarch album.The vocals often take on a more maniacal Graves at Sea type scream.Like we say about most extremely heavy bands the weight that they hit you with has so much momentum the first song is going to wow you regardless of how original it is or isn't just out of sheer heaviness.On the merits of the crushing riffs at the eight and a half minute mark alone, the song wins me over.

The snarl of the vocals hits you firs on "Healing Through Death", they are going to need to pull out more tricks here as I am now used to their rumble. What the band has going against them in terms of how much actual play I will get from this album, is the fact all of the songs ...and there are four of them, clock in at at least 12 minutes the longest 15. With doom that's not too long considering how they take there time getting from one not to the next .I would almost say they are sludged out doom, rather than funereal doom, which has a more romantic mourning to it.They touch on a few of these melodic passage,but are more
 interested in crushing you.At the seven minute mark they briefly at a melodic funereal doom melody, but resort to being more punishing.

The clean guitar intro of the title track kinda falls out of the previous song. The low drone of the vocal chant follows before the slowly bring the distortion on harsh vocals. One of the more dynamic songs as they quickly switch from clean tones to an aggressive death metal influence stomp.They speed up in full
blown  blackened death metal, as their death metal roots come out and they are unable to maintain the plodding tempo.

It closes with a more standard doom piece "Detritus". It takes a slightly angular take on a doom riff midway through but mainly rumbles along the road more frequently travelled. I think this album's strength is they are a death metal band coming at doom from a different perspective rather than guy who have spent their lives worshiping Black Sabbath.I'll give this one an 8, the last songs is them taking the easy way out but, if you like really mean doom in the vein of Graves at Sea, but more melodic, then check these dudes out.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Drums:"Encyclopedia"

Down to a duo, the production is darker and song writing more chaotic, abandoning the beach strolling pop of previous albums. "I Can't Pretend" finds the duo closer to their former glory. The lyrics are still smart, but now the music matches the once subtle sneer the lyrics held. According to the commentary that I heard on the Spotify version of the album, this is the band coming out of the closet, song's like "I Hope Time Doesn't Change Him" sticks this fact in your face. The singer said he wanted the album to sound like a garbage can, while the other half of the duo wanted it to sound like the Sound of Music. What they got is a more garage rock sound that has a glistening coat splattered over it like a money shot.

The band calls "Kiss Me Again" the comic relief of the album, but it hearkens back to their more 50's sounds if draped in camp drag. It's a silly warped version of a pop song. "Let Me" rings up a breezy clamor. They have a really cool guitar sound here that is offset by the darker electronic pulse. The way these elements work together through out the album sounds almost like the Shins at times. The lyrics are cloaked in cynicism , not to the extent of Morrissey, but that sort of thing is present. It carries venom in lines like "they might hate you /but i love you/ and they can go kill themselves". Even when he sings this the phrasing brings the Shins back to mind.

The soaring pop of " Break My Heart" is delicate as it floats like a bubble. The guitar is equally fragile to compliment the overly sensitive vocals. This isn't the album's strongest song, but even then it's not half bad. The wondering of where he begins and this other person ends returns as the theme, though according to the band the album's theme is about being honest and who your really are. They call "Face of God" their atheist anthem, as it asks why are we waiting around for what is coming after death, when we waste today in the process. This song is especially compelling. The sense of movement in this song is pretty powerful.

They rather creepily stated they like to romanticize the idea of the Boy Scouts and this song is about dying alone."U.S. National Park" might be one step closer to the Drums turning into the Shins. They return to their more 50's ish sound on "Deep In My Heart".Even the band claims that the obtuse "Bell Laboratories" will always be a mystery. It is a shade darker than the others songs on the album. It's largely comprised on vocals and electronic bleep and blips. There is a little of Brian Eno influence on this. I can appreciated where they are going with it, but not sure if it is a song that will get tons of repeat listens.

"There is Nothing Left" is a quirky tender pop number that is not unlike their past work, so they have not forsaken their old sound for the garbage can. The album ends with a song intended for the singer's solo album, but the other half of the equation was so moved by it he insisted it be on this album. It's a reflective ballad that still has the electronic flashes around the outskirts. Well written and well sung, it more Kraut Rock than you might expect in a ballad from these guys.

I'll round this one up to a 9, they have put out some really classic stuff in the past and while I realize they are growing as humans and not where they were when they recorded the older albums, so of the Pet Shop Boys moments as well as the Shins moments take some time for me to adjust to as they had such an original sound it's hard for me to hear it with these added elements. If I had never heard them before I would be more impressed, but it is just a matter of me adjusting to the changes.

Thin : "Demonstration 2014"

T Lenger the man behind the Grand Rapids black metal project Obliti Devoravit has released this five song ep simply titled "Demonstration 2014". This was released by Colloquial Sound in  a Uber-limited run of 44 tapes on October 5th. This ep starts off  with "Female Spit " a minute and half of Lo-fi rumble that comes to the edge of being muffled. The bass over powers the intense jangle of the guitars that teetering upon sharp needles of feedback.  The guitar fights to be more audible as it climbs to the forefront of the mix, leaving the punk-ish  vocals which lay buried and unintelligible.

His former project might have been black metal , but this is without a doubt  more punk than metal. "Dead to Me" features Colloquial Sound main man Damian Master, to what capacity, I can only guess  he is lending his voice as the cavernous howl that chimes in. Here the pace changes as does the timbre of the attack, but the stalking chug to the middle riff of what could be the chorus splits the difference between being metal and  rock n roll. It still is coming from a very punk place in how it's thrown at you. Towards the end of the song he begins to batter at the taunt strings of the guitars in a manner more primal than even Joy Division's most punk moments. "That Feeling" lashes out in shouts of defiance and the haphazard playing of punk. The vocals blurt out a rapid mutter of  something, that is more attitude than execution.

All about being in you face, I can hear this going down one drunken night in a house I used to squat in. Full of ideas and energy, some of which would translate better if he got into a proper studio. Manic and ranting in the manner of  most punk from the Maximum Rock n Roll days of the late 80's. Simplistic is an understatement. It's the chug of songs like "Put Me On a Wheel, that catches you by the throat. They simmer with a similar violence that some of the crust/ death rock cross over in the past two years has. The vocals are more tortured cracking into a growl. The bass pulses like a beefy slab of prehistoric muscle sent to wreck havoc on a apocalyptic wasteland. "One Hand" takes this a step further into the darkness, keyboards hover in the dusk of the howling madman writhing under the almost Swans like drone they settle into..

I will round this one down  to a 7 as the production is so rough it makes it a rough listen for me, though I appreciate where they are going here and would have been more likely to cut them slack in this area if I was still a teenager. I will keep my ears out for what Lenger continues to do, it seems like he shifts from project to project every year, so it is doubtful, that we will hear any thing from Thin, if he keeps with his track record. You can click below if you enjoy sitting around drunk in abandoned houses then this will resonate with you, more than it does me at this juncture in my life, but  it's not secret that I am more partial to metal than punk.

Soggy Creep: "Worry Lines'

The "Worry Lines" ep came out last month on angst of this rowdy three piece from Washington recalls "Bleach" era as much as it does "In the Flat Field", in fact you can even hear the early Get Up Kids in the way the singer pours himself into reaching for the notes. They set off on the darker footing of "Nocturnal Life". The vocal approach places heavy emphasis on the punk in post-punk, hell there is barely anything post- about his snarl. The darker elements all call from how the chords are allowed to ring out and the restraint the drummer uses. It could easily devolve into "one, two, three...go"punk if not for the deliberate pacing.

 The bass leading into "Behold, Bile" is somewhat death-rock, but not no where as lavish in it's Halloween worship as other Christan Death devotees. This is where I begin to hear the grunge influence, which must literally come with the territory  considering the history of their homestead. The Get-Up Kids I was hearing comes in on the slower stomp of "Ghost House", but it also is haunted by Cobain's ghost. The reckless way the let the chord linger and the minor walk down after the chorus carry a little grunge to it. The bass line is the spookiest element. The guitar "solo" is a dissonant excursion into melodically manipulated feedback, that drives back to the chorus in a very "Bleach" fashion.

The bass player once again takes control on "Further Down", which allows the guitars to get rather rock n roll. The death-rock elements here are vague shades of other organic rock bands like the Cult and the Estranged, who have a dark side but I would be reluctant to call goth. This is further dispelled once the flannel is out with it's foot on the monitor despite the spookier under belly some of the chord progression might hint at.I can also hear some horror punk influence, a little Lords of the New Church, but more Dead Boys.

I'll round this down to a 9, which means that while I really enjoyed this ep and want to hear what these guys do on a full length, the last song got too rock n roll for me towards the solo filled build at the end. We can debate until the bats fly home what makes them punk, goth or whatever, but not unlike the Estranged these guys have really shaken it all together and spit it out with enough attitude that you really don't care once it sucks you in.

Report to the Dance Floor: RxGF's"Any Other Way"

"Any Other Way" is the 3rd album from this Seattle based project. Producer John Morgan Reilly, is the brain child behind RxGF or "Radioactive X Girlfriend". In 2013 Reilly was lucky enough to find 20 year old vocalist Angeline Schaaf, who has a personality to her voice that radiates a strong charisma rather than her just doing a Siouxsie impersonation. Sure Siouxsie is an influence her, but so is a ton of post - Nine Inch Nails electronic acts. Past RxGF lineups have included supporting musical contributions by prolific co-producer Jonathan Plum, Dave Rosser (Twilight Singers, Afghan Whigs), but this new collaboration seems the most promising. Schaaf's vocal lines have smart hooks to them. Some of the electronic elements might come across at times like something from an A Perfect Circle re-mix, but the guitar sound is killer. It has the perfect blend of effects. The fuzzed out bass lines aren't shabby  either, but does add to that late 90's sound.They even hit a dirty Lords Of Acid feel on "Flesh and Bone", that even holds elements of Lady Gaga is the weird sultry drug pout Schaaf's vocal persona develops in the more pop slanted moments. The quick bursts of male vocals are more Mindless Self Indulgence in their obnoxious oddness.

"Anidote" also carries pop bombast to it , but in more of a Kmfdm manner meets the weird anime influenced pop that's so huge in Japan.The beat however carries a bang similar to that of the  Bjork's "Army of Me". The Lady Gaga feel returns on "Tombstone Soiree". The Siouxsie elements here are more from the stand point of  the darker lyrics being layered  over a more dance floor friendly background. She does flirt with the New Orleans swing of Concrete Blonde in the way the melody flows. They dip into a more acid jazz like groove on "Never Felt So Good". The mood is no darker than say Massive Attack, her layered vocals are an effective tool that she uses sparingly making them  more effective. The backing vocals on this song remind me of Madonna's"Justify My Love". Wandering into an almost kraut rock exploration, as if it's become the soundtrack to a lunar landing. Once they venture  over the five minute mark they broaden the expanse of sound. This allows for more experimental use of samples. I do begin to wonder if they are going to give way to dub-step on "the Dying Grace of Machines" , but they resist instead launching into some weird plastic techno that sounds like if Aqua wrote a song for the Blade Runner sound track. The male vocals here are not one of the albums strong points. They come across more Thomas Dolby than industrial.There is an interesting break at the three and a half minute mark, before the song builds  dynamically  into something more akin Nine inch Nails synth heavy work.

 They drop things down to a very organic feeling with "The Hit". The male vocals return with a  more "Mechanical Animals" era Marilyn Manson type approach. He takes a smoother tone where the chorus would be. The more rock no roll vocal , make you wonder if this time would be  perhaps more interestingly spent hearing Schaaf's interpretation.It not that the melody doesn't eventually find it's way, it's just her  approach might be a smoother fit. "Things that go bang " is sample driven techno. The samples taken a heavy handed political approach, which Ministry obviously set the bar for. Here the synth more takes a quirky android on parade role. The beat is a simple hammering, not unlike the more "Army of Me" styled beats they employed earlier in the album, but they work with the driving nature of this song. Some of these more experimental moments would have sat better interspersed among the album's poppier moments as it sounds like it loses focus when clustered together at the end. It almost sounds like an entirely different project."Kontrollier Die Kontrollierenden" continues using the males vocals, it's like Rammenstein in a higher register. Lyrically it's more interesting to hear them rage against the machine, but the delivery comes across like Roger Waters collaborating with Jonathan Davis of Korn.

 The instrumentally dominated dance track trend continues with "Flow". They use some interesting sound to off set another, but it doesn't really follow any structure , which in some sense is the nature of dance music to flow like the waves, so it lives up to it's title. Though the turn it takes comes across a little like these songs are filler for the Schaaf sung songs that were the meat of the matter. The album closes with a re-mix of one of the bands earlier singles "Belladonna Dream". the song is surprisingly gentle and airy. Almost like a Sarah Mclaughlin song, in the way it falls back into it self.

This album hits more than it misses, finding a good dancey spot that might sometimes take itself too seriously with political undertones , considering these guys are a far cry from Frontline Assembly or Ministry in terms of being industrial, in fact the closest they come is somewhere in the neighborhood as KMFDM's more light hearted moments. I think without question the songs with Schaaf at the forefront are the strongest moments, but the album has it's heart in the right place and look forward to hearing what Reilly and Schaaf's partnership brings, as it sounds as if their best work is yet to come,  but in the meantime enjoy where they are at.


Up From the Underground : Dimestore Prophets' "Be Yourself"

When this album came out back in April it was much more suited for the summer months to come, in October it's a little more upbeat than what I would listen to but I'm sure these guys do well on the college circuit . Dimestore Prophets hail from Moses Lake Washington they released their newest effort " Be Yourself" back in April they believe in honing their sound onstage , in the past three and half years the band has played over 200 shows up and down the Pacific Northwest, that has included opening for the likes of The Verve Pipe and Indubious. Reggae is an element of what this three piece does, but it's an undercurrent to their jangling throw back to the collage rock of the late 90's. I'm sure the sound these guys kick up does well on college campus' that particularly 420 friendly. There are liberal doses of Blues Traveller and the Spin Doctors, stuff that I wasn't fond of back in the day, but now when it comes on there is certain nostalgia that prevents me from turning the dial.

They do conjure up more balls as certain passages find more grit. The singer has a decent pop inflected voice. You can here the jammy side of the band that I am sure is a larger part of their sound on stage than in the studio, where it seems like they are using a measure of restraint to keep from taking off. The Hammond organ gives songs like "Good Lovin" an almost Black Crowes flavor, but singer Ray Glover's addiction of pop, comes across more like Jason Mraz.The drummer and bassist are pretty impressive in the manner they bring a much larger rambling sound to these simplistic songs. Glover also starts throwing in some sparse soloing, that has a really good tone, for what these guys are doing. The guitars on the album are largely strummed acoustics, the electric guitar is more of an accent. When the chill out into a slower pace it feels like Jimmy Buffet or Zac Brown.

As the album progresses the reggae influence creeps out more, it also bears some pop country elements.If these guys had grown up in Venice Beach or South Beach, the reggae element might be more convincing. "Sunny Day" is the closest these guys come to playing authentic reggae, the are still a few blunts short of Sublime or even the Police. Though some of the punches that come up mid way into "Sunny Day" would not be out of place on "40 oz to Freedom". The album sounds good from a production standpoint. Ben Smith at Synergy Studios in Seattle certainly did these guys a solid and captured some really crisp organic sounds.

Listening to this band you have the feeling that any one who knows them is going to tell you "the albums don't do them justice, you really have to check them out live." I have heard that countless times and might have even said it once or twice myself, but in the case of these guys I have a feeling it's true. Musician's have an adage that you must always play in a way that serves the song, this is true unless you are a better musician than you are a song writer then you need to make the most of the moments you create. Most of these guys' best moments are happening on stage, so when they buckle themselves down to write three or four minute radio songs,  they are losing a lot in translation. This is not to say these are bad songs, it just seems if they had cut loose and jammed out more in the studio it would have probably been a more authentic representation of what I imagine these guys sound like if they are pounding out the kinda mileage playing dives on the road. If you are missing your days getting stoned at the beach this past summer when the first frost of November sets it then this is a good album to have on hand.

Unfathomed of Abyss:"Arisen Upon Oblivion"

This Texas based project is the sole work of Kevin Price , who employed Kevin Talley of Dying Fetus / Daath fame to provide the drums . Price forsakes the more organic approach taken by the flux of American Black metal band and goes off on it's own path woven from a discordant geometry.  Opening with a 14 minute "To Unequal the Balance of the Cosmos" the album gets off to an oddly uncertain beginning. The uneven mix is some what a distraction, not that black metal is always known for the best production. The lo-fi "Necro" sound tends to work better for rawer more atmospheric shades of black metal. While Kevin Talley is certainly not shabby as a drummer, he is not a black metal drummer and a drummer more versed in the genre would have known where to throw in the appropriate blast beats to create the desired sound. Never the less Talley does ore than just dial it in, adding a few creative accents of his own.

The main element of black metal to this album are the vocals do captured to most Emperor growls, with more  death metal like  lows providing a good  counterpoint to the more Ihsahn like snarls. The vocals sit better placed in the mix that the keyboards that sound like they are a little lost in the song as the moan in the forefront like ghosts trying to find their way through purgatory. The darker doomy passages the song ends with is one of the song's stronger moments. The angular dissonance that pervades the song  works best when it allows it self to melt into something looking more like free form jazz.

The second song finds the guitar is fuller and  the drums are really far back in the mix. These placements shift over the course of the album, mainly with the synths and guitars trading placing for the spotlight, though always leaving the drums in the distance. I suppose they were recorded at Talley's Florida Studio and emailed over, which seems to be more common practice for session drummers. Saving travel expense and they can bang out a few of these sort of things in an afternoon. People aren't buying records so you gotta do something to pay the bills. Perhaps it's the compression crammed onto them in the transfer that create the distant element, it just feels like an odd karaoke of sorts.

It seems when shorter and sweeter the song are often heavier. There is much more of an atmospheric death metal vibe to "Within the Glory of Other Lights", making me question if this is really black metal, sure it's dark and has the dissonance, the vocal when reaching up into a more venomous register are more black metal than death metal, but it lacks some key elements like tremolo picking and blast beats. This is flirted with on "Within the Glory..."  There is almost a Meshuggah like pound to the bass at times that would make this more aligned with death metal. Despite what ever genre it is aligned to it's heavy and effective.

The more conventional black metal sound finally emerges from it's tomb on "To  Nothing" which is also one of the album's strongest songs.Like the Emperor comparison is not unfounded, it is much more like Ihsahn's solo works than say "Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk". "Within the Void' does hit the perfect balance in what this project sets out to do , set the more atmospheric elements against an angular tangle of progressive mathematics. Where it falls short of say coming closer to Emperor is at their heart despite all the pageantry and progressive elements Emperor's main goal was to grab you by the throat and none of these song do that for long before indulging themselves in the atonal poly rhythmic grandiosity.When it comes to doing this sort of thing around here...well we know Ihsahn personally so the black metal bar is raised pretty high. But I think if you go into this expecting something more along the lines of Cold World, that is heavier on the atmosphere than the metal, but in doing so creates a more spectral oppression of it's own, then you have a better idea where this is going to be coming from.

He gets credit for aiming high.  Really the production is  this albums only problem and it's mainly where everything is placed in the mix. The vocals are well executed and I think there are plenty of good ideas here. I think if he took this project in a more atmospheric death metal direction like Ulcerate , it would really shine. What's missing is a certain nastiness and sense of evil or disturbance missing since most American Black Metal bands are more about catharsis rather than darkness. Price is obviously going for something different here and he is successful at creating something that defies most genres unless you want to string them all together and say it's Atmospheric blackened death metal, with an emphasis on the atmosphere, there is certainly nothing wrong with that it just takes a few listens for it to settle in and properly unsettle you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Anatomy of Habit : "Ciphers + Axioms"

This project gets points for being so influenced by the Swans. However it' worth a listen yet , not something I feel compelled to keep in my iPod as it's two songs that are both over twenty minutes. The First "Radiate an Receive" finds a Gira like Baritone chant, ranting over the slow minimal pulse of the songs subtle throb. Imagine a nightmarish version of Interpol. This incarnation of the project now enlists members of Indian, the Sea and Cake, Wolves in the Throne Room and Joan of Arc. So the sound is as crazy as their collective influences might be diverse, though it sounds like they all can agree on Swans.

They lumber at a powerfully plodding tempo, but are not what I would call doom, more like very deliberate Sludge infused post -rock, thought with a very indie rock take on the vocals supplied by Mark Solotroff, when they are not in a domineering baritone, that commands your attention his vocals are very quirky and not unlike a starker version of Interpol. So not as dark as Ian Curtis if you are keeping score at home. When the vocals take a harsher turn, it's pretty impressive and from a production stand point this album is head and shoulders above the project's previous work. Before the nine minute mark they begin to really start pounding you with some pretty solid metal. The chug is strong. Dynamically they can drop back into the post rock thing at will. When you get to the sixteen minute mark of the first song, you being to wonder why this is still being dragged as they have made the point already. They keep pounding the point home, sometimes soaring, but not really expanding on new ground with it.

"Then Window" doesn't catch it's groove until it's closing in on the five minute mark. It starts off exploding out of a womb of feed back. The song coasts along on this more straight forward post- rock section for a few minutes, gradually building with almost a psychedelic feeling, if we are talking about "Ummagumma" era Pink Floyd.He chants the album's title for sometime. You need a decent stomach for drone in order  to enjoy this album. I like it used as a device , but when it becomes they only element driving the ship, then they better well be droning on some next level shit. They hang on the chant until mid way through the song. Then for the following seven minutes they let the song drift out into outer space. This evolves into full blown noise. Something that Swans dabbles in but is not the be all end all of what they are about in order to be obtuse. So for almost a good quarter of this album is droning noise. So how many drugs do you do is the next question this album asks of you. Once upon a time I would have enjoyed sailing across my living room to this , now I'm a little more grounded so don't have the use for it. I'll give this album a 6.5 , because I like when they are making real songs and from a production stand point they are heading in the right direction, next time I hope they focus more on the songwriting as they have too much talent to waste on noise.


Today is the Day: "Animal Mother'

I have been enjoying this album for sometime, so I needed to make sure I had this out at least by the day it was dropped so here we go. It combines the best elements that we have seen from Steve Austin so far.Perhaps even more diverse than some of this band's other work. Certainly more melodic. It is also very dark which wins me over. I jumped on their band wagon in 97 with "Temple of the Morning Star" ...of course it had pentagrams all over the place.

This go around the drummer from Trap Them / Enabler is on board.There is a slight punk/ hard core element to "Sick of Your Mouth", it is of course more twisted like if there was a hard core band in Gummo. They hit you with a blur of speed on "Imperfection". The vocal are kind of barking behind the beat. The math rock drips from the cracks of this and other songs. It converges back in on it self to find the groove. They tread similar ground on "Law of the Universe" , but in a much more spastic manner.

They creep the fuck out on the acoustic version of "Outlaw" . Austin has become more comfortable with his voice. He relies on effects an layering less. When the noise laden rumble of "God Crutch" comes about I'd would say it is more sludge than doom.The bark of "Divine Reward" gives the new drummer a moment to shine.As a song I Would not say it's the album's strongest moment , but at under a minute how can it be ? "Masada" has come of the power as the Eyes of God days, the chug is powerful and vocals abrasive."Heathen" takes a cue from "Masada's" more syncopated section to hone it's punch. For this band to  capture the metal creepiness I think that sets them apart they need to circle the drain around the sound they explore in "Mystic" .

"Last Strand' finds Austin going back into math rock. It would be somewhat Mastodon, if the member's of Mastodon had not been so influenced  by there days in this band.There are some weird key boards dripping from the fissures of the riffs.Something really reminds me of the band Angkor Wat here as well. The metal version of "Outlaw" doesn't sound too different from the band I got into during the 90's. Sure the production is much denser.  They touch onto a creepy psychedelic folk ballad on Blood Wood" Then close out the song with the wild and crazy "Zodiac". I'll give this one a 9. Some of the more punk moments like the song that is under a minute, just are not what I love the most about this band, forgivable but keeps it from a perfect 10. You might not have this problem and only time will see how it sits with me in the long run , but I can say while it treads somewhat similar ground this album slays the new Melvins album.

Nesseria: "Fractures"

"Fractures is the Barcelona based band' second album. They are releasing a twelve inch vinyl on Throatruiner / Trendkill Records, the latter is releasing the CD with Swarm of Nails handling the tape release. So there is no lack of interest in getting this album out there. They start of with some really uniquely dark metal that has melody and mood, but no lack of balls to it that catches your ear from the get go, however when they step on the gas to launch into something more akin to chaotic hardcore the lose the cool feeling the band opened with. It's not that they are not capable and convincing enough to pull it off, it just sound like another band wanting to be a black metal version of Converge.Sure combining the two is bound to come up with some dark and heavy moments, but they are much better at weaving in this melodic dark fog over their songs to reduce themselves to taking the easy way out.

The hardcore element returns on "Cent Mille"it's not as spastic here and carries more of that late 90's thrash cross over element bands returned to.This still is not the most creative direction the band takes their sound. They do manage to tackle a blacker sound with the same kind of intensity they approach hard core with on "L'Incinde" that the following song kind of rides in on it's blur, but with less of an identity of it's own.They are still masters of chug and when brutally cramming some of these riffs down your throat like broken bottle they are deadly serious with their intent.

"Civitas" has a more explosive hardcore element. The drumming really drive the point home that is is whats driving this album despite the great guitar sound these guys have. The little death metal accents would sound right at home on a Dying Fetus album. They sound more natural in more of a black metal mode when they are playing fast than trying to do so in hardcore mode , which seems to serve the band better applied to accents of songs rather than dominating the song.

They play their cards right on the dark closing track "Omayra" and it makes me think that I would have like to have heard more of this on the rest of the album. I will give this album an 8.5 and let it simmer to see if it grows on me. The spazzy hard core parts I think dumb the album down at times and these guys have too much going for them creatively to take the route.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

At the Gates: "At War With Reality"

At the Gates are back doing what they do best. It opens with the twin guitar attack chugging out what at one time might have passed for death metal, but by today's standards just aggressive thrash. There are elements of hardcore around it's sharp edges, they can still grind out some riffs that are impossible to not head band to, and the longer this album plays the more you hear how they have influenced so many bands.

It's the hunt for the angriest riffs that draws me into some of these songs. Sure there is some excellent guitar work, which is the albums strong point, but that could be said about their earlier work as well.By the third song, the battering is starting to carry to similar a feel. The riffs stay pretty epic , but the pacing is like an action movie with no plot or dialogue. Some of the more melodic guitar harmonies on this album seems like they are indulgent in a way that "Slaughter of the Soul" still held sharper teeth while doing.

The intro to "Heroes and Tombs" breaks things up , but it also reminds me of In Flames until the powerful chug comes in.It's at "Conspiracy of the Blind' where it starts to bleed together for me."Order From Chaos" is a slightly darker bent from the more straight forward thrashers. Things stick to a similar course with "The Book of Sand", but it's almost midway into before I realize it's a new song. "The Head of Hydra" takes a more melodic tone and stands out more so for doing it.

It's  "Eater of Gods" that causes the album to roar back to life in the most powerful manner. The In Flames like spoken part in the middle doesn't even bother me or come across as mall metal. "Upon Pillars of Dust" tries to keep up a similar attitude, but lands on that straight forward snare tap that is kinda punkish.It has more of a metal core like feel to it, and by that I don't mean the kids with the hair cuts , but the trend they pretty much started and bands like Darkest Hour followed.They end things with the very melodic "

Needless to say this album doesn't have the impact that "Slaughter  of the Soul" has It certainly has it's moments, but nothing really blows me away here. There is enough of their tradmark sound here to please fans , but as far as come backs go this is kind of tepid considering how long of a wait it has been, if I was a die hard fan of these guys I would take this a little bit of a disappointment and I know these guys are capable of more so I will give this a 7.5.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Blut Aus Nord: "Memoria Vetusta III"

This French black metal project has always been experimental, often digging into a deeper darkness in freeing themselves of the confines of the traditional black metal sound. Yet this album takes a dramatic step backwards into the conventional black metal formula and is being hailed by some as a masterpiece. I'm.fine with them wanting to go back int  a more black metal sound, they had almost become like the Cure a couple of albums ago, but the songs here lack the elements that sets this band apart.

It's not until the woeful final moments of the first song that this resembles the band I love who operates best doing what others don't do.The songs bleed together, but that could be argued about the more classic days of Ulver and Darkthrone, however it's not until "Forhist" that a song really catches my ear as all the sweeping blast beats sweep everything else right past me. Sure it is soothing for the background while I'm working , but is that the role metal should play?

"Henosis" blasts out with a little more bite in it's attack, but does this sound like Blut Aus Nord or a thousand other faceless bands who have adopted this style? I'm far from being at black metal overload, I just want more than defaulting to this type of thing. I find it astounding that these are settling for this kind of middle ground creatively. The clean vocals sound just as incidental as the screamed ones. The formula seems to be each song is comprised of two parts one of those is slightly catchier than the other. So the question is how easily contented are you with the status quo?

"Metaphor of the Moon" is like the moon in the fact it shines from afar, but doesn't always demand my attention.Yet another song that sits in the drone of the back ground with a few punches that might be worth taking note of .The end fades out almost as the album began. I have to give this album a six despite my disappoint meant in the backward step in direction, as it's convincing in the execution, if they felt they had to prove they could do this as well as any one else, then point taken,


Thursday, October 16, 2014

KMFDM: "Our Time Will Come"

From the use of  mock German in the opener KMFDM continues to seriously not take themselves seriously. The fact they do so with a straight face is one of the reason this doesn't bother me since I tend to not like humor in music unless it's Lonely Island.I want my militant industrial to take it's self as seriously as a Nazi invasion.

The dip a little too far into the pop realm on "Shake the Cage", leaving the band to sound more Thrill Kill Kult's post- "Sex on Wheels " days. Even this song does adhere closer to the band's traditional sound than they did on "Kunst".When these more edm elements drift into Sasha's song's it does get a little weird since his forceful vocal style doesn't really lend it self to a wider range of emotion or subtlety. The title track even flirts with dub-step, but in a manner I might imagine Lords of Acid would if they released an album. However the pop elements are more well written into the song, and holds onto to sultry dark elements.

The metal guitar arrives on the driven "Salvation". When Sasha's vocals go for a more dynamic texture, the effects layered over his voice make it more appropriate and believable. "Blood vs Money" finds the band in more familiar lyrical territory. Sasha 's voice takes on a more guttural rasp before being more sung in a manner that displays he has expanded his range over the years.

The sexual element has become more overt with every album as Lucia herself has become more sexualized on stage and now in the studio. Live it seems like it balances out Sasha's militant drill Sargent from mars persona. She captured this best on the song "Looking For Strange", a darker counter point to the more soulful "Juke Joint Jezebel" of  her predecessor, that left her with big latex boots to fill. It's when this happens on the more pop side of what Lords of Acid does that it can glare out from the rest of the album, though with the direction KMFDM, has taken on the past couple of albums it might not sound out of place.

Brainwashed has a more industrial pulse and pound and is one of the albums strongest tracks.

KMFDM finds their most classic work  coming about as s by product of when the dancey elements have come about because of a good groove rather than being forced into place by production. Playing God touches upon this formula that works for them even with some of the slick computer tricks of today's recording process, especially when it comes to this genre .

I'll give this one an 8.5 and see how it grow on me . It walks a middle ground between "Kunst" which might have stepped too far from the band's best sound into edm and the more traditional KmFDM song but much less "angst" injected into it.

Falloch "This Island , Our Funeral"

Seems I have been under the wrong impression, about this Scottish band. Originally I would not listen to them because of the oddly neurotic reason that i thought their name sounded to much like Agalloch. The few times I heard them it seemed like they were a more post rock version of Agalloch. So this album is a surprise, it sounds little like Agalloch and has no black metal elements of any shade to what they do, aside from some comparisons to mid-period Alcest that can be drawn. They are actually pretty middle of the road. No heavier than say Katatonia, but the Swedish gloomsters at least have a sense of melancholy with little light at the end of the tunnel where Falloch is often too hopeful in their delivery. Not bad musicians , their singer has a decent pair of pipes.

 Though the song writing is mediocre. It opens strong with "Torradh". Then the second song fools you with some powerful drumming that leads into very bland hard rock. The 30 Seconds to Mars like vocal dramatics soar off on "For Uir". Aside from a great vocal performance there is not a lot of meat for the vocals to sit upon. "Brahan" begins to wander into a more A Perfect Circle direction. Some one criticized me once for comparing bands to other bands calling it lazy writing. But if bands were not so derivative like this then it would not be called for, so lazy song writing deserves to be treated in kind. These guys are just a hook way from becoming radio rock. I think in the late 90's when this style was fresher I would have appreciated this a little more, but it almost sounds dated now.

 They do broaden into ten and twelve minute jams in the second half of the album. "I Shall Build Mountains" gets more melodramatic rather than progressive, with the song almost taking on more of a power ballad like quality.The darker ebb and flow does develop at the end of this song, before going in a more Tool like direction.The twinkling guitars of "Sanctuary" might be more welcomed if I knew they were going to be balanced out with some heavier. The song builds into a vast orchestrated section with piano and keyboard filling out the edges. I acknowledge there is something for every one this just ain't fer me. These guys do have chops, this just is a little wimpy for my tastes, but you can not deny that they are not good at what they do, it just depends on if you have outgrown what it is that they do, which is almost incomprehensible that you would not be unless you are a teenage girl. This is totally girl metal if it's metal at all. It has metal influences and mall metal at that. I though these guys as skilled as they are and as well produced as this album is were still a little more legit.I will give a 6 well played, but derivative and wimpy.

Youth Code: " A Place to Stand"

Youth Code are not just a hipster trend. This album proves to me there is no irony in what they do. Industrial with a strong edm influence. Sara's vocals have and androgynously harsh metallic scream to them, these are lashing at you courtesy of the little blond . I like that they are abrasive and in your face. Their video goes from their singer being tortured and experimented on to a monkey receiving similar treatment and fits the sounds they are throwing at you nicely. At three minutes this confrontational single has me pressing repeat on it rather fervently. They get right to the point not trying to artfully wear you down with long drones of electronic ambiance, instead they kick you right in the fucking throat.

"To Burn Your World" find the vocals taking a more jagged path around the angular beat. It touches on "Too Dark Park" era Skinny Puppy, which is interesting since they are currently touring with Ogre and Company, who are clearly an influence, though it would like being in a metal band and not be influenced by Black Sabbath."Litany( a Place to Stand) finds singer on her soap box. The beat underneath her rant could have developed into something interesting but instead makes the song feel like an interlude. I think a darker approach that was not so message blatant might have served the album better, but they do darken back up on "No Animal Escapes"

When  the remix of "No Animal Escapes" kicks in it does so with a slightly off center groove that is more edm than industrial , but shows this project has some range to it. This is song and the other remixes that follows are all from last year's self titled ep. The first odd mis-step of sorts in the remix of "Wear the Wounds" could have been spared of some of the Gangsta rapping, as it sets an odd juxtaposition against the message of "Litany" that seems to take such a strong stance against some of the stereotypes this song enforces. They redeem themselves with "Sick Skinned) which is the God Module Pandemic re-mix.  This finds them much closer to modern industrial, not unlike Pysclon 9 or the like. This also proves something interesting about this project which is they are really the first that is coming from hipster culture and being embraced by the latex make smeared industrial goths that come from the depths of the club scene. I think this serves as a testament to Youth Code's ability and vision.

The Silent Servant re-mix of "Let the Sky Burn" closes out the proceedings on this album. It sounds like make vocals are on this track, they are low in the mix , almost buried under the blip and bounce of the beat. I'll round this up to a 10, I think it's just a matter of me getting used to their politics and how those line up with throwing in some gangsta rap that I haven't yet wrapped my head around, and maybe I am not supposed to. Maybe that is where the irony is. They are not adoring your moustache or thrift store gym shorts, nor would they piss on Deerhunter if they were on fire as they are engrossed in what they are doing, just as you will be engrossed in it if you ...are into this sort of thing and give it a listen.