Wednesday, September 30, 2015
At first they made me think they were going to be a heavier version of what Ghost currently does , then heading toward the second son I began to get strong Opeth vibes of them, then strong 90s vibes. They throw in some jumpy angular groove and work of the bouncing build up dynamic that Nu-metal once utilized, perhaps it is from a Tool influence, since they did have profound impact on that genre of music and most of metal in the late 90s. Not to say they are anything like Korn, but these guys are not your normal sludge merchants who were raised on a steady diet of Neurosis. The vocals are mostly clean there are a few throaty barks.
A more rock tinged riff leads off "Slaves Shall Serve". The vocals are a little more forceful and the song has almost a more classic gallop to it. It proves to quantify the heaviness factor when the band slows into more of a stomp. The melodies are more dialed in here. The summon a more Kyuss like rumble for " Ordo Ab Chao" , before spiraling into a more Tool like break down. No " New World Order" is not a cover of the Ministry song, it's slightly A Perfect Circle like excursion into mellow prog. It does build into a more Tool-ish rock and the song has a pleasing flow to it . These guys are obviously skilled musicians to bring Tool and Opeth comparisons, but this was not what I thought I was signing up for going into this. The hook on this song is one of the album's stronger vocals lines and while I prefer actual singing to growling, at times it seems as if the vocals could stand to choose more minor melodies to darken things up. They might be influenced by Tool, they are not as dark as Tool.
The close out the album with the ambitious 14 minute "Ending Theme". They go a more Opeth route here , but with more of a doomy lumber to it. This song like many of the other have lyrics that dip into metaphoric conspiracy theories. The chorus doesn't really jump out of the wandering riff that might be the verse. At the six minute mark they enter a angular prog b-section that returns to one to the more pounding groove that they established in a manner similar to what King Crimson does on their "Red" album. Their bassist does his job as being the sinewy glue to hold some of these riffs together. I am surprised there have not been a bunch of shredding guitar solos, instead they tend to hit you with one catchy riff after another,which there is nothing wrong with , but sometimes I find myself wondering where it all is leading to. The answer in the final two minutes of the song is into a doomy riff, that is followed by a riff that sounds like it is off of "Starless and Bible Black".
Overall these guys can not be denied in terms of their sound, they might not be the most original band under the sun , but at least they wear the influence of great bands on their sleeves.I'll give this one an 8, if you are just looking for some solid prog that is often more hard rock than metal , but is not mired down with too much wanking or high brow music theory then these guys are certainly worth your time.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
While it was an enjoyable listen , I was not blown away by their first album, however Their second album gets off to a much more industrial start. I of course upon my initial listen like this more than the first album since its darker. Even the samples that begin bubbling up from behind the jagged guitar sound like they could have been on a 90s Neurosis album."Super Glued Tooth" keeps the industrial pound and grim guitar , this time spoken word vocals about some kind of bleak Gummo like white trash life runs underneath it with sung vocals where a chorus might be. The spoken vocals become more punk like in their exclamation. This builds up momentum as the beat quickens. "White Man's Gonna Lose" finds the beat much dancier than some thing you would expect attached to one of the members of Eyehategod. If you ever wanted to know what it might sound like for Neurosis to collide with Ministry then " Hopeless Moronic" is your answer and it's an answer I'm a fan of .
There is more of a Death In June thing going on for " Visions Divide". The sax that comes in at the end is fore shadowing of some of the narcotic murkiness to come. Things go back to a heavier more apocalyptic tone for "The Hall of Cost" where the vocals sound like a preacher is losing his mind . There is a ebm mixed vibe to the dark sax drenched "When Push Comes to the Shank". It's very "Dark Side of the Spoon " era Ministry. This song makes it clear the first album could have used more of Bruce Lamont's Morrison like vocals . Hopefully goth kids will catch wind of this album or they are going to be missing out. At the five minute mark its clear they are just jamming this one out for the sake of drone, though there is a pretty cool build before the seven minute mark.
Then someones drugs kick in. "I Was Never Good at Meth" , is an incredible title, but the reality of the song is some spoken word ranting and simmering noise. The album closes with "Burn the Witness" . It takes the first two minutes of this seven minute song to get things brewing, then it seethes as very dark Neurosis murmur. The beat comes in an its basically more industrial Neurosis, which is not a bad thing. I'll round this up to a 9, and see how it grows on me. A vast improvement from the first album and I want to hear them dig further into the darkness on the next one. This comes out October 23rd.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
They like to place little minute long interludes in-between the real songs. They blast right into "Invocation" . There are some glorious galloping into battle section, but for the most part they are really taking the fight to your ear drums and handing them a pretty good beating.There is a more melodic section following these blast beats, the guitar hangs on the melody that has been running throughout the song.They lay back an take a more deliberate pace on "Still of this Earth" the vocals drop into a lower rasp, before they blast back off again.
"Cycles and Circles" merges the dissonance with the icy blasts. As the album progresses the bands reliance on blast beats to move the songs becomes more apparent. "Acerbus" takes a more deliberate tone and tempo. There is almost a groove to it's pulse. This almost doom like pace shows they do not have to throw the tremolo picked guitar out with the bath water as if floats over the stomping beat. When they are not losing themselves in blast beats, they have some moving songs with a wider range of dynamics than most. I'll give them an 8.
This is comprised of members from Aosoth and Antaeus, so the cream of the French metal crop. They describe their music as being extreme devoted black metal that is illuminated with chaos. I can hear that. It finds a swirling drone even within the technical tornado of drumming. This takes a more sweeping pulse on "the Earth Will Continue to Burn" which does not shy from the blast beats. The throaty rasp of the vocals is under a cover of distortion and sitting behind the guitars in the mix. At times the guitars ringing and the drums precise syncopation reminds me of Liturgy. The third actual song who's title roughly translates to " Look at your Bodies , because it does not allow you " gets really interesting when it backs off and allows the song to breathe and melody begins to form. Then they return to the blasting. The song has a really weird false ending where it dips into something that could be from a horror movie soundtrack.
The angular weirdness continues in "A Place Among the Dead". This one starts off as being more blasty than not. Around the five minute mark things slow down and the chords are allowed to ring out with a more bell like chiming. One impressive element lies in the fact that even in the blasting sections they are not trying to re-create something that bands like Darkthrone have already done. Some of the more racing sections have more in common with Krallice than they do Deathspell Omega. The need for speed continues on " It is too late to give glory". While they are more than capable of playing fast, I do not think that is where their strength lies as songwriters , given the fact that on the first half of the album that already bathed us in some dark beautiful dissonance. They eventually find their way back to that place.
They close with a son that is more graceful in its abrasiveness. There are some melodies entangled in the blur of tremolo picked guitar. While the song races off into the abyss at the seven minute mark more of the horror movie like soundscapes trail the album off. This doesn't feel like a debut album<. Strong performances, from guys who are adding another dimension to French black metal, sometimes heavy handed on the blast beats, which is only an issue for me when I hear on the same album these guys doing things that are so much more interesting. I'll give this one an 8. />
There is still more black in this black n roll than these guys might want to admit. Some of this is the earlier first wave of black metal as plenty of Venom and Hellhammer can be felt in riotous power chord they conjure up. It's hard to argue with a song about doing coke with the devil. But after the first song I find myself asking if they blew their wad on that one and what else can they do. The answer is something slightly more punk rock, mostly due to the drumming . Which influences the vocal pattern. They hit a few more sonic chord progressions, eventually I find myself preferring bursts of the more punk styled guitars, over the mad ranting the vocals take on when they begin to cross over.
"Too Drunk For Love" has a slight G.G Allin feel it , but is one of the more well constructed songs . The guitars dropping out to allow the bass to take over the wheel gives it a little more groove. The vocals are a balanced of growling and punk mania. The have a gnarly blast-fest going into "Satanic Kommando". It's not until the drums drop down into more of a tom roll that things finds their bearings. There is something in the lyrics about a black metal legion, but aside from the chant of the song title most of the lyrics are incomprehensible. To be about amphetamines they slow down for "Speed & Chicks" which given the subject matter, makes perfect sense that there would be more of a Motorhead like stomp to this one. They continue to romance you with "A.B.I.T.C.H" . This and other moments where they step away from the corpse paint are more black punk, than rock n roll. There is some ranting about a flea infested dog, and gang vocals joining in, but it reminds me of Gwar's first album more than Darkthrone. The song that follows is similar tempo, perhaps a tad more gallop, until they find a solid chug to lock onto.
"Nekro Street Dog" is very Motorhead. The lyrics are pretty discernible. The solos are the most rock n roll thing so far on this album. "Henry Rollins" sounds more like Black Flag than any of his solo. It chugs along and has a pretty driving chorus, for people who wish Motorhead was more punk. They close out the album with "Tank of Intolerance" and you will not be surprised they did not end the album with an epic power ballad, but on a more black metal note. This band would do really well in a city like Atlanta where all the metal bands used to be punk. This album is fun, if I still it would be more worthwhile as this sounds like something to get shit faced too, party black metal. I'll give it a 7.5 .
Here's another one of Damien Master's projects. The album opens with what doesn't even seem to be a fully realized song but a brief out burst of punk. There is more of a black metal feel to "New Values" that follows which spreads out the guitar tone and offers a wider range of dynamics than I expected going into this. Then there is another outburst that is under a minute. The title track rips into a similar brand of punk of but has a more metallic Motorhead on pcp from hell propulsion. "The Silhouette Speaks" has a similar crude punk drive to it but is allowed more time to gestate into a fully formed song.
The vocals do have more of a metal roar to them than punk like shouting. The is very evident in "Rack and Ribs", which at a minute and fifty one seconds in one of the albums longest songs. "The Center is Blood" flails off course into obnoxious punk. "Forehead Kisses" like the bulk of the album is also more punk than not , but the guitars seem to be more aware that they are playing a song than just being banged upon. The interplay between the guitar and the drums is a fun way for them to switch things up. Not as gracefully punk is "Turquoise Fangs" that stumbles into a more melodic section. Then the album descends into punk that all pretty much sounds the same.Masters claims all the vocals were free styled , which might be true since you can only understand maybe every fourth word.
The closing songs "All The Things I Think" flirts with black metal but really doesn't fully commit to to it. There are some marginal hard-core moments, mixed with noise rock. There are some good ideas here, this is not the most consistent album and the punk side of what they do which is the dominate flavor just isn't my thing. I'll give this album a 6.5. If you are a fan of Master's more punk leanings then this is the album you have been waiting for.
On first listen it seems like its business as usual for Detroit's Protomartyr as not much has changed since last year's " Under Color of Official Right". Joe Casey's voice is more about attitude of his narration than melody as he doesn't sing the first actual note until the chorus of "Cowards Starve". There is a more up beat CBGB styled punk to the frantic jerk of " I Forgive You". Some synths are real low in the mix and the guitar tone continues to lean toward the shadows in the more melodic moments. It meets that place in the early 70s where rock n roll and punk rock were more closely connected. "Boyce or Boice" finds the guitar holding down the static line somewhere between tension and a drone. Casey's voice wanders around in a disoriented manner over the upbeat drums. He chant "Let them into our home". The songs b-section hits a smooth reflective mood.
The darker , colder post-punk sounds comes in on "Pontiac 87". Casey's voice takes on more of a croon. They find the right balance between abrasion on melody here. The dynamics are there and its clear to me that this is what I want more of from this band. They pick up the tempo, but stay on the darker side of what they do on "Uncle Mother's". The guitar shifts into more of surf rock tone here. The guitars go into a dizzying and angular bridge, before dropping out. The guitar gets more aggressive, but in more of a Sonic Youth fashion. At times things slow down as if they are nodding out under the "Dope Cloud" waking up and picking up the pace. The dope cloud is descending all over this town according to Casey.
Some weird atmosphere and faint samples open "the Hermit" before the bang back with a more punk like energy. Casey announces he doesn't think so because they lie, they lie , they lie. The drums become more frantic under the gloomy atmosphere of "Clandestine Time" as Casey croons a little more than simply providing a narrative. The guitar tone gets a little more Cure like here. "Why Does it Shake " in someways doesn't feel as focused more like Nick Cave jamming with Joy Division. Though they eventually rock at with more distortion than Joy Division normally would."Ellen" is simple but effective showing that melody and mood always win out at the end of the day. The guitar tone is somewhat Sonic Youth like on this one. The build up on this one is very subtle.
The album closes with "the Feast of Stephen" which finds the guitars carrying more of a jangle. The vocals are more of a mumble over what becomes more of a drone, until the bass line becomes more prominent. This reminds my of 90s indie rock like Sebadoh. The change is very marginal on this one , it might be a few degrees more introspective than the last album, but if you like this band every thing that works for them is still intact, I'll give it a 9.
Friday, September 25, 2015
"Falling" the psychedelics prevail here. They used to cover Pink Floyd, so this side of the band should come as not surprise. Laura's vocals have a more Siouxsie like croon to them. They find trippy groove that is more surreal than it jam band like. The solo slides in underneath the brief rumble. "Growing Roots" has an angular swagger to it, builds into more Hum like space rock. It eventually winds up into a more rock groove that some how manages to feel more like Kylesa . The more muscularly rumbling "Inward Debate", feels more like a Clutch riff and is a little on the busy side. So it's good they back off into what on first listen struck me as one of the better songs, because it has all the elements they excel at firing at full power. There is a really mean metal riff that lashes out from the more subdued vocal Laura exudes.
Next up is the fuzz out sonic "Moving Day" that reminds me a little of a Pixies song. The vocals have a more post-punk apathy on "Night Drive". The bass tone gets really weird. Laura's vocal become plaintive to the point they would not sound out of place on an indie rock album. There is more of a stoner metal chug to "Out of My Mind" that drifts in a cloud of bong smoke out into space. They continue to converge back into the more metal chug after their spacey explorations threaten to drift out of orbit. The bass player goes into Geezer Butler mode on a midway into the song."Paranoid" is a drugged out cover of the Sabbath classic that finds the band bringing their own touch to it. It works for me at this tempo.
They close the album with the heavier yet very Sabbath like "Shaping the Southern Sky" . Laura says she is throwing caution to the wind and taking her chances again here. It does wander off into a more heady direction with the bass line holding down the fort. They bring the smack down when they lock back in for the happy ending that blazes out with solos in true rock god/goddess fashion. This one is easily rounded up to a ten as it
Torres is a name you shall soon know as Mackenzie Scott moves into the spotlight as she will be opening for Garbage on their 2015 tour. She is a singer songwriter, but comes from a more 90s direction where artists like Pj Harvey, were technically just singer song writers, but didn't let an acoustic guitar keep them from rocking. She has an androgynous voice that's to the gritty balls she can throw into it, rather than having to sound like a delicate flower. "New Skin" does get slightly more introspective and shows she is capable of applying dynamics to her husky alto. She exclaims she is a tired woman who in January will just be 23. Her lyrics have the right balance of emotion, creating a snap shot into her life as it is draped in casual metaphor.
She drops down to a darker more hushed delivery for the more minimalist "Son, You Are No Island". It has a tense drone as the vocals add sardonic dramatics."A Proper Polish Welcome" keeps the album moving in a moodier direction. This song has a more electronic sounding beat, with various bits of ambiance mixed around the main vocals adding shading to the corners of the song. The "heavy hands" line has a very subtle hook to it. There is a Tom Petty like rambling to the verses of the title track. Things get a little quirky on "Cowboy Guilt" . She has to Joni Mitchell like knack for melody that allows her to pretty much sing around anything.However she needs a little more beneath her than the accompaniment "Ferris Wheel" give her. The sample type of introspection is giving more solid footing on "The Harshest Light". Her voice is lifted out of her lower alto register to provide a lighter step in the melody.
Things are stripped down once again for "the Exchange" which closes the album. Lyrically very personal, the hushed folk ballad moves smoothly, but the albums strength comes from the darker and more interesting interplay between her huskier vocal approach and the more involved instrumentation. Not to say when she latches onto the melodies of the more folky final moments it is not compelling, I just prefer her darker or more rocking side, which if you are a regular reader here should come as no surprise. I'll give this album an 8.5 and look forward to hearing what she does in the future. If you are a fan of PJ Harvery, Liz Phair or any of the other female singer song writers from the 90s this will be a more modern step up your alley.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Funny enough I decided to break down and give Chvrches a shot a few weeks ago after hearing them brought up on the State Of the Goth Scene panel at this year's Dragon-con. While not what I consider goth they do have a more serious lyrical tone than most of today's pop music and much like Twin Shadow are an act that proves pop doesn't have to be a bad word. their last album some reviews compared it Taylor Swift's "1989". They took that as a compliment. And this might come as a surprise to readers here who normally click on for the goth/metal/ punk reviews, but I have gained an appreciation for Swifts last two albums. The hooks are addictive and the same can be said for Chvrches. Lauren Mayberry continues to ooze with the same youthful glee that Swift also possesses, the difference being more lyrical as Mayberry doesn't always have to be the protagonist in her songs. She has little regret for not always being nice claiming on "Leave a Trace" that she is as sane as she ever was. Mayberry might make you dance , but she didn't show up to the studio trying to start a party.
Often more metaphoric their lyrics are much like their music as it has more complex layers than Swift's. Compared to their previous album there are no drastic changes, a little more of an 80s slant to parts of "Make Them Gold" . "Clearest Blue" was one of the lead singles off this album that has been on the inner webs for some time. I don't listen to the radio, so I am unsure if Chvrches gets much air time in cities aside from New York and LA, but I can see this song being too angular in some places to neatly fit next to Katy Perry on the dial. Part of this is they don't follow the trends , but make their own and this doesn't have any hip-hop under tones, it's very white electronica.
The male vocals are more soulful and poppy than they were on the last album, but it's hard to argue against the fact that the are much improved from the previous album and have an almost Twin Shadow quality to them.Then they slap a new coat of sugar on the pop formula with "Empty Threat". The tempo picks up on the chorus and then its the expand and contract formula from there. Not the album's strongest song, but it's not bad and better than most of the stuff on the radio. The beat gets funky as in odd not James Brown on "Down Side of Me". The male vocals add texture in manner more reminiscent of the previous album. I would not say this is a ballad , but moving in that direction. The continue to color outside of the lines, taking on a more 80s pop sound on "Playing Dead". Her voice fits well in the grooves making it one of the albums stronger songs. The samples wedged into the song give it more kick.
There is more of a quirky new wave feel...think Gary Numan, to "Bury It". The beats are more fuzzed out and while not comparable to Nine Inch Nails , they carry more punch that most pop. The album closes with "Afterglow" which does indulge itself in balladry. This song is pleasant but is not crucial to the album. They slightly face a refrain of sorts at the end. I'll around this one up to a 9.5 , It might have been a ten if I had written off the last song as an outro, but for the sake of this review it was intended to be a song that stands on its own two feet. Some of these songs might grow on me, most pop music creeps up on me over time. Fans will not be disappointed if they liked the last album.
Can this album live up to the hype which follows "Sunbather"? They open with some atmospheric fanfare, then bust into a massive chug. The first thing that catches my ear is that the vocals of George Clarke have more variance than the static screamed patterns the first tow albums followed. This growl is lower and has a nastier rasp to it, while the guitars finds a soloish melody to come out of the more powerfully driven riff with, before they go into clean guitar and a more indie rock section, post-rock or what ever you want to call it. Doesn't seem droning enough to call it shoe gaze. The riff when flexing a heavier muscle are much more along the line of traditional metal.
The heavy parts continue to have a darker sound on "Luna" . While Clarke stays in a lower growl and less of shriek over the blast beats sprinkled with melodic guitar, he finds a pattern and rarely strays for it . He is more staccato this time around, but taking few chances in switching it up more than he already has. The drumming is insane, but some of the blast beats get grating after the two minute mark. Around the six minute mark they break into a piano littered post-rock break that at this point you know is coming so it is less of a surprise now three albums in and the slow pound it transitions into is more impressive. The nine minute "Baby Blue" gets of to a more hushed start, before the blast beats come calling. It finds it's way into a chug that is accompanied by layered guitar. This heavier turn is as effective here as it is on the first song, despite being a more meat and potatoes approach to metal . It ebbs back down into something that is more shoe gazing.
Next up is the ten minute " Come Back" that opens with three minute of delicate post-rock before the metal kicks in. The play things very intentionally here just big chords, that are followed by a very rock n roll guitar solo. The third time is still a charm for locking in on a chug. This time it's more like 80s thrash. Double bass kicks in and the drummer wows you are his arms blur around the kit. The final minute and a half is a dreamy sample similar to what they played around with on the last album. They close the album with "Gifts For the Earth" that has a more 90s emo like guitar sound that opens the album. Clarke's rasp overt his part brings a welcomed juxtaposition. There are spoken vocal way back in the mix, that are not quite sung, before they smack you again with more metal chugging this time its a punchier variation to add an accent.They soar off as they are apt to do in the song's final two minutes. For a band who has had the metal community very split and accusations of being hipster metal, they had something to prove and the point was well made. It now makes more sense why a band like Tribulation is opening for them. The dreamy parts on this album work better for me on this one than they did on the last album, due to the heavier moments and the fact Clarke's vocals are not the same old same old helps give this an edge over "Sunbather". This album doesn't pander to the mainstream, though the mainstream metal community might finally give these guys more of a shot if they actually bother to give this one a listen. If they don't I'm sure the bands swelling if not questionable fan base will be more than happy to. I'll give this one a 10, they proved themselves once again.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Their singer says this album was written from the perspective of a nihilistic occultist shit head, so I should find it very easy to relate to. Their last album "Becoming" found the band actually playing legit black metal and they are sticking to that formula for this one , though they are still melodic in much the same way Nachtmystium can be. Things get darker for the creepy pulse of "The Cold Lines". It feels more like up tempo DSBM, with some less coarse vocals crying out in the distance, not quiet sung yet very emotive. The go back to a blastier tone on "Of the Outer Darkness" . The vocals have improved on this album there is much more anguish in them. Compared to the previous song the blast beats are well executed, but it gets more interesting when they slow down. Charlie Fell from Cobalt is on the drum throne for this album, so the drums are always going to deliver, but it is the slower more dismal grooves that are the most moving.
There is a more rock n roll vibe to the guitars leading into "Will , Wish and Desire". The keeps a mid-tempo throb, with the guitar weaving solos around it. It builds into a soaring drone. It good to hear black metal with plenty of guitar solos. They serve the song are are not distracting or overly flashy. These songs are well written and they waste little time with sprawling things out for the sake of atmosphere or cluttering the song with by forcing to many transitions into the composition. "Godhead" goes back to the blast with an almost Darkthrone like quality. They finally slow into the darker depths at the four and a half minute mark .The vocals take on a more sinister throat singing like chant in the songs closing moments.
"Forever Kingdom of Dirt" finds the vocals behind a filter of distortion and after a short burst of blast the tempo shifts around into a slower gallop. The bass emerges from the walls of guitar it is often buried behind. The double bass builds it back up , before dropping down into some tribal tom work. They duck in and out of grooves, through out this one defying traditional song structures. The guitar solo is well place in this one. He screams out about there being no future and nothing else to build on " Lost Communion" where a life time of mistakes is haunting him. Coming out of the faster opening verse they go into a gang vocal like chant that is set against a more deliberate sonic texture of punches. The guitar tone gets really interesting on "Nuummite" with some almost gothy effects creating the atmosphere. I'm not surprised that the vocals are sung rather than screamed here. They are set back in the mix and under an effected filter.I'm pretty impressed by this album, there are a few moments when they blast beat a dead horse, but over all it's well written and compelling black metal American or otherwise. I'll give it a 9.5.
Monday, September 21, 2015
Located in Little Five points Aisle 5 is in the former home of the Five Spot a bar that catered to jam bands. My first time at this venue in its newest incarnation and It now feels less like a bar and more like a venue. The show was sold out so when we entered there were people lined up with their backs to the wall. Wovenhand was already on stage when we got there. This was my first time seeing them live and as one of my favorite bands the bar was raised pretty high for them and they delivered. This was one of those shows where both acts hit the sweet spot that I often refer to here where a rock band hits a place that is heavy sonically but not heavy metal. It was not a matter of volume as they were loud enough, but not operating in vibrations alone. It was more about intensity. David Eugene Edwards and company tackled material from their 2014 album "Refractory Obdurate" which if you are a regular reader here you have heard me rave about as it took the number one spot on last years Top 15 Rock Albums of 2014. While filters through the same effects he uses on the album, Edwards vocals were commanding as he belted out his biblical narratives. The conclusion I cam to after his set was there is no way I'm ever going to miss one of his shows again.
This was the fourth time for me seeing Ms Wolfe. Each time has been a unique experience, but this go around it was the a dramatic blossoming of her live persona. In the past it has been her and her backing band, whom were still intact along with the addition of guitarist Aurielle Zeitler from Giant Squid / Ghost Marrow. This time it felt like they were a band. Perhaps it's the more amplified nature of the new album or just hours clocked in on the road. Going into it I did not know what to expect as "Abyss " is a hybrid of genres, would it be more of the electronic/ industrial side or they doomy side? The answer was gloomy rock with plenty of power. The rock chords were empowering to her. Not that is was a case of instant rock star just add distortion,but she has taken another confident step forward , which for some one whose music is often so introspective is enough of a change to create a tangible difference. One major factor in the punchier live sound was her constant collaborator Ben Chisholm spent more time playing bass than keyboards. Dylan's drumming was pretty constant and when the opened with "Carrion Flowers" the execution was more organic rock than industrial even in the more pounding sections. "Dragged Out" carried much more power as well, with the build having ten times more intensity than the album version. My fiance has at times a love/hate relationship with Wolfe in general, I can be a little obsessive about the artists I'm into, so living with that more than likely ads negative bias, but a couple songs in and even she was impressed. She has always said she prefers her live to her studio work and this show certainly made a good argument for that. But that is what I want from concerts, I can press play on my iPod at any time I want to hear what is added and both Wolfe and Edwards delivered on that end.
When she went into "Iron Moon" I have never seen the crowd so enraptured in her performance before. I realized this is going to be the last time I see her in a venue this intimate for some time if ever again. Not that she has sold out with her new album, but she continues to walk her own path in the best manner possible and the end result is people are beginning to take notice. The protective feeling you get when you watch an artist from their inception edge toward the mainstream is normally scary, but I feel she is handling it in a way that takes that into consideration, pulling from a few older songs, such as "Kings", "We Hit a Wall", and even going back as far as "Mers" all of which benefited from her amped up approach.
This is not to say she did not take things down a notch for a few introspective moments with songs like "Simple Death" from the new album. This exploration of her dynamic range was not off putting for the crowd , whose attention she held in just a solidly in these moments. Her voice sounded better than ever, much like the new album the effects where minimal and it was bared up front in the mix. Overall if you have seen her before, and are thinking "I've already seen her at blah, blah , blah", this tour has a different feel as she continues to evolve and it no where near even the show you might have caught on the "Pain is Beauty Tour" . For old and new fans she is not to be missed either and will exceed your expectations as much as she continues to exceed mine, giving me a deeper level of appreciation for "Abyss".
Saturday, September 19, 2015
It's the eleventh album from the Swedish Death Metal vets. Along with Entombed they helped hone as sound that bands have been trying to emulate ever since. Its not until they slow down for "Flesh Before My Eyes" that they really get my attention. Its good old school death metal, no doubt but I caught the best of that back in the day, so I want to hear where a band is going from there. Granted I was listening to more Entombed than Grave then, so these guys are newish to me. They are fairly straight forward. Where most bands hit you with every thing they got on the first song then you are waiting to see what they have from their Grave drags this out into the second song, though the third has the most powerful groove yet. "Plain Pine Box" doesn't dig into any new subject matter, but they have a great guitar sound and the riffs to this one make the most out of it and the drums sound like they are right in your living room.
They get into the same old grind at times and seem to work better at mid paced gallops or slower. They lyrics change from dead to undead as they growl about haunted houses on "The Ominous They". The lumbering doom laden moments are of course in my opinion going to be some of the better ones. There is not a whole lot of what gets called d-beat. At times they have more in common with Obituary than with Entombed. This is obvious on the more pounding sections of "Redeemed Through Hate" which also has the first guitar solo that stands out. If there were others they must have been buried in double bass.
When the groove drops down into the bass line of "Deified" this is the album hitting its high point.Even when the storm of double bass roars in the keep the groove until the blasting end section. 'Trail of Ungodly Trades" is just run of the mill death metal. They are good at it , but it's nothing special until they slower breakdown where he is chanting "Summoning the dead". They close the album with "Grotesque Glory" is has a very deliberate stomp, which finds the band in their best form. This song seems to be about zombies. There is a lot of groove to this album at time which keeps it's dark and grisly vibe moving forward. If you are a fan of the band I can only imagine that this is what you want from them, and it's an impressive display of power and at times even songwriting so I'll round this one up to an 8. It comes out October 16gh on Century Media.
We reviewed their 2014 an this one finds the New York based band headed in a more intense yet mathematical direction.The songs are short spastic burst not as herky jerky as power-violence or grind core, but it's not until the third song "Mass" that they break the three minute mark.The opener is more like a more death metal version of what Converge does but with more of a meth driven ADD. They go at their instruments like rabid dogs on " Forget Yourself " that finds the only difference aside from lower growls to be a little more blast to things. He uses a more exclamatory vocal tone on " The Mass" that also finds the drums going into a cool tribal break down.The bring a dissonance to the riffs here that I am a big fan of. The drummer really proves his attention to detail with tasteful cymbal work before joining the crazed explosion.
There is a Mike Patton / Jello Biafra craziness to the vocals of "Viral Content" as he keeps up the chant of "We're not saying it I have nothing to say". The song it self is intentionally disjointed and descended into a berserk blur of blasting before they give you room to breath. "Turing's Revenge" breaks the four minute mark making it almost double the length of the other songs on the album. They slow to a devastating pound at the first minute mark. The guitar locks into a throb that is more sonic than your typical death metal band, They become loose and formless then lock onto a chug to end it.
Where most of the so called deathcore bands attempt something similar to this, Pyrrhon gets it right and understands the beauty in creating ugliness. The production of the album is as in your face as the music that was recorded, not too noisy or lo-fi but balancing out the layers like a Bosch painting. While it's not something that would make its way to my iPod, I can appreciate what these guys are doing and will keep following their work, I'll give it an 8.5, if you like really techy death metal around it up.
Their new album Finds Aesop Dekker of Agalloch going for a more straight forward approach which is what the music calls for. The vocals took me by surprised until I read it was Mike Scheidt of Yob singing then their soaring nature made more sense . Then in a sudden turn comes the more punk influenced "3 AM" that follows. These guys started off as a Pentagram tribute band, and things have sped up considerably since then. This album does feel more focused than the first right off the bat aside from the jarring stylistic changes between the first two song. The weird effects on Mike's voice work well on the title track which is in your face thrash. The creepy middle section is an excellent addition to the song and rekindles the old school metal feel. You can hear Ian Gillan influence in Scheidt's vocals. At twelve minutes the song covers a lot of ground getting into more serious thrash towards the end. At one point I had to check and make sure we were still on the same song.
Hammers of Misfortune's bassist cuts through the mix this go around and makes her presence known on the instrumental interlude following the title track. "Red Chaos' erupts with more furious thrashing. It is more like the earlier era of thrash than the Bay Era bands, I hear more Sodom and Venom than anything. This races into "Lightless Sun" that finds them tripping over their feet as they try to run down hill. Dekker plays black metal we know he can play fast, but how is the song benefiting from racing into hyper-drive? They keep their feet on the gas for "the Tomb" and as a result it feels very similar to the two songs that precede it. Mike keeps his voice at more of a Venom like snarl.
To call this retro-thrash doesn't seem right as , the only punk cross over moment comes at the second song. These guys have tons of talent and Mike's voice really gives them an edge over the barking dogs that are typical of the genre. They have a few twists and turns amid the full speed ahead attack that seems to be the order of the day on this one. The riffs at time could have more hook to them, but I can hear where this is coming from, fans of the Venom era of thrash will be happy to head bang to this, some of the up tempo stuff runs together a little for me so I'll give this one a 7. Profound Lore is releasing the album October 23rd.
This is the fifth full length for the Norse band. They start with a blast fitting of the title "Khaos". With a dry mid range croak, he exclaims something along the lines of being fucking evil and a bringer of chaos, so they are not trying to go a more accessible route.On the second song they find a bigger sound at a more mid-paced tempo. There are some explosive sound effects like they are playing inside a video game in places. The riffs have some hook to them and over all its an improvement from the opener and makes me a little more hopeful in regards to the rest of the album. The hit a good middle ground on "Norge" ( Norway) using the blast beats in spurts. The production should also be commended because they hit the sweet spot where it is raw enough to give the mix teeth, but not so low-fi things are distant in the mix of thin and feeding back.
When the pour on the speed the band seems less inspired so it's moments like the thrash riff in "Djevelens" that keeps things interesting. It also depends upon how they are going full throttle, as "Demonic Supremacy" is more varied, yet races through the hell-fire as fast as any of the songs. Sure this album is loaded with heavy metal cliches, black metal has begun to acquire its own, but these are well executed on " Slumber With the Worm". There are some Slayer moments at the beginning of "By Ferdens End".These lead to a blast-to -thon that is more compelling when they slow down to the more pulsating riff.
They find a powerful metal chug on the title track that closes the album, the deluxe edition has other songs and other versions of these songs, but for this review I'm jut sticking with the normal album version.You begin to ask your self why hasn't the band capitalized more on this kind of sound as this song really stomps down with tons of power. Is it black metal, that is debatable, but it's just good metal so why count straws at that point. They drop down into an even heavier chug as the album ends, it heavy in a more commanding manner than Inquisition, though there are some comparisons to their last album that can be found here. Overall it's one of the better black metal albums to come out of Norway who has given up ground to other countries when it comes to black metal in recent years. I'll give it an 8.5.
Thursday, September 17, 2015
Not as dense and jazz like as the insanity they sprang upon us last year these guys still take you deeper into the land of profane nightmares than most. At the seven minute murk a riff rises from the murky depths to prove they are making metal and not just hell-spawned noise-scapes. The vocals stay at bubbling gurgle, like lava being poured down a drain pipe. Dissonance is nothing new for this project, it's being delved into from a more death metal perspective on this album. Baritone vocals bellow out of the distance as unnerving chimes continue to tinkle maddeningly from behind your ears. While there is more melodic and musical element to this album the chimes get repetitious by the time you get to "Gatekeeper's Scroll" , though the riffs have a catchier Deathspell Omega thing to the way they churn.
If you want an idea how dark this album is they have to lighten things up a bit to get gothy on "Alchemy" which I am of course going to immediately think is the best song on the album though it comes across almost more like an interlude in comparison to the other songs.Things once again change for the almost more depressive "Levitating Stones" which has the sample of someone weeping over the first verse and some real ugliness being summoned by the down tuned guitars.Higher out of key vocals whine in the periphery. They do give the the songs room to breath even with the oppressive heaviness of this album. It sounds like they are gutting a pig at the beginning of "Emanation". The bass leads of the verse before the hit you with a crazed blast in what is the albums most black metal moment thus far.
They close the album with the thirteen plus minutes of "Meditation of Transcendental Evil". It starts with an orgy of wailing and gnashing of teeth before going into some dense yet esoterically tortured death metal. The speed up in a rather disjointed manner with the two guitars parts not really cooperating. The riffs drone on, but don't really have the same teeth some of the other guitars parts have had on this one. Overall this album is an improvement, the last song is the only one that feels like filler to me and even then it has a few moments which if combined could have made for an impressive five minute song. I think this is where experimentation and metal meet at a dark crossroads which works well. I'll give this one an 8.5. Twenty Buck Spin releases this insanity on the world October 9th.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Not since Sade has jazz fusion mixed so well in a way that the songs are not relying on chops alone to do all the heavy heavy lifting. Hailing from New York, this projects even features members of Steely Dan. the lyrics are more biting than you would expect from this brand of jazz fusion. The first thing that caught my ear is how pianist Kevin Hays tears it up. Gideon King is certainly no slouch on the guitar, his over driven tone on the solos reminds me of Frank Zappa, who is in my top ten guitarists of all time, so if you can draw comparisons to him then you are doing something right. "See in Double" is a song that while indulges in laid back lounge jazz would still not be out of place in today's pop market, who finds blue eyed soul artists like Sam Smith dipping into more jazz based phrasing
.Gideon surrounds himself with stellar players as also evident in Donny McCasslin's sax work. "Down" is an ode to the lyrics "send in the clowns/ one direction down" is like hip-hop artists calling each other out , which as you now I am not afraid to call bull shit on music that is lacking so I can appreciate his thoughts on this though, the blanket statement that "music of today is like a cloud covering the earth" might be a polarized view, though I imagine King's taste runs to the right of mine. "New York is " is breezy jazz until the guitar and sax solos come into to add some fire to things.Despite the relaxed almost James Taylor like cadence of the melody "Friendship Cliche" continues the streak of blunt lyrics, here he looks at friends that only call him once a year and are smiles for hire. The voices of Carolyn Leonhart and Grace Weber adds soul and elegance to the album. While in some ways their altos are similar its apparent that Leonhart comes from more of a traditional jazz background and Weber's benefits from a more sultry croon. There is a touch of western Eagles like rock to the strum of "Glide" with the vocals poured over the guitars groove like syrup. "Dirty Bastard" is largely dominated by the piano, with the guitar fills adding the velvet window dressing. The dirty bastard is declared ok by King, before he rips into one of the album's best solos.Here the solos really add a lot to the songs rather than the songs being vehicles for him to shred over. Leonhart harmonizes with him on "Just Play", invoke a Norah Jones feel to song. The instrumentation on this one is very balanced with no one instrument taking up the spot light, even when the guitar takes a solo at the end."
Broken Noise" revisits the the song "Down" but is mainly a vocal take on it with piano and bass building back into it at the midway point before it transitions into a different take on the opener , giving the album a full circle feeling.This album stands alone in many ways. Despite some of the more pop like jazz leanings fans of Frank Zappa will appreciate this, while there is not the joking sense of zaniness abounding, when its time to shut and play his guitar it gets serious in light of the biting social commentary of the lyrics. Which are more refined statements than Zappa which were always veiled in joke, King makes his feeling about music of today very known as well as the lacking social graces. If you play guitar this album is a must, if you don't but like thought provoking music well there is plenty of that to be found as well.
Sunday, September 13, 2015
I know Valor is a divisive name when it comes to this band, but lets face if even if we wanted to side with Rozz Williams , he is dead and truth be told valor's worse is still better than the noise that was Pre-mature Ejaculation. Maitri is still on board as is drummer Jason, who I am assuming was the same drummer I same them on tour with a few years ago. It has a bigger a more dramatic sound, they have grown out of death rock and this is closer to Siouxsie. Their are exotic instruments building the aural landscape behind them. Valor is using a weird more whispered than sung voice , that makes him sounds a little more like Rozz than his gothier baritone. On " the Cross" he asks if you are ready for the rapture. So the religious imagery hasn't gone anywhere. If you want me to compare this album to " Only Theater of Pain" its not happening. There are plenty of spooky sounds abounding, its a much different feel to the halloweenish punk rock of the dirty drug days and Halloween for the sake of Halloween. Maitri's voice sounds better than I recall it ever sounding. Three songs in and I would say she is surpassing Valor in this regard.
I did begin wondering where is Rikk Agew in all this, though he brought much of the punk influence so I am not sure where he would fit in all this if he was present. The first hint of Valor croons surfaces on "Fema Coffins" . While I like the lush layers of synth, there is a lot of this I am unsure how they would pull off as a three piece. "Illuminazi" is the closest they get to punk so far, but the strength it plays off it not a loud and fast attitude filled attack, but the layering the vocals. They have more in common with Black Sabbath than the Cure on "We Have Become". A slightly more romantic take on doom mixed with Siouxsie is the best way to describe when Maitri takes the mic on "Forgiven". Then they get heavier for "Penitence Forevermore". Valor takes over the mic here and is singing more than he is talking his way through this one. The pace picks up for "Deliver Us". Not the album's best song, there are some blues tinged layers of harmonica running through this one which is an odd choice but it works. To close the album they drop back down and Maitri takes over the mic for what would be the most radio friendly song if they went for radio play.
This album was way better than I thought it would be. Since I miss the days when I could not only listen to a Christian Death album , but enjoy it I'll give this one a 9 and see how it sits with me, it's no "Sex Drugs and Jesus Christ" but that was then this is now, some of you Valor haters should give this a chance. It's more of a metal album than death rock , but I'm ok with that too it's not Panterrible.
Saturday, September 12, 2015
This is the first of the two album this UK based band released in may, While death rock could apply to this band , they were that label like a loose garment and manage to pack a lot of punch in fact the title track has more moments that are almost metal and even "Gears" that follows has more drive than Christian Death . The chorus has an almost punk chant to it. "Vulture Eye" is like marrying Alien Sex Fiend to some kind of sonic punk band. Rip further into punk on "Crowbar" the vocal begin to find themselves going into more of a hard core scream. Those more hard core moments still flare up on registered trademark .
They back down into a more cerebral gothic like elegance with "That Was the Right Way". He begins to sing in a more rock n roll lower register that is not as Rozz Williams like and by the time we get to "Letters in the Dust" we are at almost a 90s fringe grunge weirdness. "If you look into my eyes and shut the fuck up for a while " are the first lyrics that really grab me. They end with the more metallic swell of "Neverland" that makes me think a little of I Mother Earths first solo album.As its is more metal than any death rock this side of Atriarch. I do really like the melody that surfaces three minutes into this one. I'll give this first one a 9 and see how it sits with me if I can find this in some other format than Bandcamp.
From the first song on "Crush" the bass is more present and it has a more death rock sound. The Bauhaus influence is also more prominent here. The rock influence comes sooner on this one as some of vocals on "Ultra Marine Blue" are smoother than the normally Halloween punk sneer. The quirk of Peter Murphy's take on punk haunts "Ashtray Head"."Jacobin Fever" leans more in the punk of post-punk, though the vocals keep the wavering manic tone. The get back to the darker place I like best from these guys on "Heart Full of Wine". The creep back into creepy punk on "Skeleton Kids" and then take that one step further into pogoing in the pit on "Bitch Please".
An acoustic guitar shows up for the strummed "the Eternal Season". It builds into rock octave chords that remind me of one of System of A Downs power ballads. The hardcore tinged punk of "Cold Earth' gets a little monotonous . There is more ghoul colored clouds to provide ambiance in "Withered Woods" to take some of the heavy handed punk edge off of it. Then they close this album with more melodic "Gehenna", the vocals are well placed and have enough hook to their melody. I will give this one a nine as well.
Friday, September 11, 2015
I Haven't reviewed any big overwrought symphonic metal in sometime so lets take a stab at this one. It opens with more of a folk metal feel, which I prefer to a horde of cellos chiming in, but it's merely an intro piece as the more Nightwish like title track proves to be the first song. The first thing I notice is that former Theater of Tragedy singer Liv Kristine's vocal has gotten stronger and more operatic. The album is a concept album that tells the story of Harald Fairhair the first King of Norway. "Halvdan the Black" finds things getting really Nighwish like, with layers of vocals and a pretty straight ahead power metal chug. Truth be told this kind of music has always been power metal for goth kids who outgrew Lacuna Coil. These guys can play and know how to fuse dynamics, in fact this album has more kick than what I have previously heard from them.
There are a few formulas these bands tap into one of them is get off to a delicate start, driving drum beat, not metal but not quite pop either though the vocal could have come from any anime soundtrack and then build it up from there. They mix the guitars a little further back than some to achieve this effect. The drummer doesn't relent on the double bass when this comes about. So now in rating this album I find myself looking for the moments that are uniquely Leaves Eyes and are not afraid to stray from the book of Symphonic Metal 101. Its moments like the Bag pipes and other folk instruments frolicking in the interlude before "Vengeance Venom" that is a clearer direction of where the band should go and while these elements are sprinkled about if pushed forward in the mix then the band would be onto something. Never the less the elements that are there keep things varied enough to make this one of the first real stand outs to me. There is a more melodramatic take on the folk thing on the double bass driven "Sacred Vow" which finds a more pop tone taken while she sings about the viking nation waging warfare.But like this kind of thing or not you have to admit Leaves Eyes are just as formidable as any of the other diva metal bands.
The divas battle it out as Simone Simons shows up for "Edge of Steel" which has some of the albums most metal riffing on it. There voices blend well. After the more folkish interlude "Blazing Waters" Linda Fay Hella from Wardruna lends her voice to this one. For what it is it is well done, it just depends how much frilly shirted bombast you can take with your metal. They do combine this with more folk on the closing song "Swords in Rock". You know for what this is it's well done , there is nothing on it that makes me cringe , I will acknowledge I am not the biggest fan of this sort of thing aside from Kamelot, who is a little darker and heavier , even with the more growled death metal vocals that sometimes scream out from the background on this album. There is not a lot of darkness , however they have pulled off the preformance they intended which is ambitous so they deserve and 8 for that.
Much like Arch Goat, when you are serious about bringing the darkness you do not have to rely on blast beats to sound evil it just oozes out of the speakers which happens here . These guys are from Finland, but are not as raw as even some of the bigger black metal bands like Horna, whose lead singer contributes vocals in places.They sound more like the first wave of black metal bands than they do Darkthrone. They trash right out of the opener into a mean machine that would inspire moshing the like no other black metal band in recent memory does. Their guitar solos hit the mark and they display a fine set of chops on each instrument.The gradually become more feral, allowing the guitars to control the tone of the song. Which gives them a much punchier sound than if they just defaulted to tremolo picking.
They have more in common with a band like Inquisition than they do their country men Horna. The riffs have their own melodic pulse. "Nemesis" starts with both more epic mood as well as more feral, the latter winning out at they devolve into rapid fire blast beats. The vocals are generally a dry mid range rasp though at times are layered by a lower death metal growl. The more epic half time beat is put to good use . Time and time again this band proves that faster is not always better as their mid-paced stomping riffs carry the most kick. Some blast beats even cause middle sections of some songs to fall away into the blur of white noise many of these bands operate in. Fast is done right when it enters the fray on more of "Haunting the Chapel" feel. The more stiff punk like snare, irks me slightly. They do end up catching a thrashing groove on "Julman san" that still holds the ambiance, despite the fact the screams are throw out in a hurried staccato cadence more like punk vocals.
They close the album with the melodic riffing that doesn't compromise the intensity of their attack. The drummer is no one trick pony while capable at double bass and blast beats he doesn't rely on them and knows have to create catchy grooves. This album caught me by surprise and turned out to be a much more melodic undertaking than I thought it would be going into this. I'll round this up to a 9, some of the punk snare tapping and insistence on play too fast for their own good is a pitfall many black metal bands fall into. These guys make songs that stand on their own two feet and are not trying to blast by you in a blur even half the time. This sets them apart from the hundred of black metal bands that show up in my in-box. This album comes out the day before Halloween on Saturnal Records.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Didn't get to catch these guys when they came through town with Goatwhore. From Seattle the blur the genre lines falling closest to death metal, though healthy doses of thrash stain some of the riffs. It tool me until the second song which is also the title track to figure out the band they are most influenced by is Entombed. They begin tripping over themselves when they try racing through the song and lose the sense of groove that makes them stand out from everyone else. They do possess a keen sense of riffing and come up with some nasty and tasty ones , but cool riffs alone don't make a good song is the rule around here. By "Reaping Flesh" what they do is very clear to the point that the songs begin to sound the same to me. So the melodic intro to "Seed of Cain " is much needed. Though it speeds up into a rather formless thrashing that reminds me a little of Unleashed's less viking moments. This is reigned into a pretty skull crushing riff that commands head banging as they chant the song's title.
Clearly when it comes to the focus of the songs the guitar players are running the show around here. "Arc of Violence" things slow down and allow them to hit a vicious groove. They stay on this course for " A Place of Insane Cruelty" , perhaps even more so as the syncopation becomes more prominent. It starts with a marching snare beat that guitar harmonies begin to slither around before the big 80s like riff kicks in that recalls S.O.D in a mosh pit with Celtic Frost. After some impressive build up "Burning Hate" in contrast feels rather rushed and that attention to detail was thrown out the window. The very straight punk attack on the snare dumbs the song down. They close out the album on a much needed more melodic note with a guitar intro to " Chains of the Afterlife" that sounds like it could have come right off "Master of Puppets". That is a Metallic influence worth having. By the three minute mark I am beginning to think that this is an instrumental. It keeps building up to the big chords of what could be a verse if the guitar solos were replaced by vocals that never come.
Overall these guys are good at what they with riffs that have plenty of teeth. Not only to they have bit but they know how to use it. I think the more thrashing grooves are where they really hit their sweet spot and hopefully they move more in that direction in the future, but this album is enjoyable, if you like Goatwhore more thrash moments or just simply miss big nasty rifs from bands like Meliah Rage, then you won't want to miss these guys , I'll give it an 8.5 , when I was in middle school I would have given it closer to a 10. This album comes out Sept. 25th on Southern Lord.
This is the third full length from a band who has been the darlings of the metal blog-o-sphere since hitting the scene. On this album they have begun to move out from behind the altar of Black Sabbath not the fuzzed out but carrying a hypnotic quality to the rumbling drone they kick up . The melodies seem more secure in their languid state and provide the needed sheen over the blown out distortion coming from the amps. The powerful vibrations the first song hits you with causes a similar reach most extreme metal also solicits in that you are wowed by the power so it doesn't matter how good the actual song is if the sound that hits you is solid. Her vocals on "Forest Clouds" are really the only thing that distinguishes this from the opener to me. The drummer s a little more active on this song. Lyrically I'm not sure how tucking some one into bed has anything to do with the song unless its about a mother killing her children.
It's on "Crypt Key" where they begin sounding less like doom and more like grunge , namely Screaming Trees. Not that this is bad the level of Black Sabbath worship is decreased and singer Dorthia Cottrell is really coming into her own as a singer and finding her identity, I suppose the solo album helped get her to this place. "Tanngrisnir" has an almost Alice In Chains quality to the layered vocals. While these guys are doom, I am so used to listening to darker drearier funeral doom, until it feel more like sludged out stoner rock. "Sparrow" drops down into more of a folk ballad. Her voice adds a blues tinged husk to the reflective tenderness, that laments what sounds to be a toxic relationship.There is something about it that reminds me of Dax Riggs ballads like "Dead Girl".
There is a heavier crunch to "Hyperion" that takes the album on a doomier turn. The melodies that ride the riff on more of the laid back Alice In Chains qualities. "Hesperus" is only a few degrees different with her vocal melody the key element to providing distinction between the two songs, until it picks up pace and begins to build toward the end. They seem to firing on all cylinders on "King Fisher" which best blends the rumbling doom riffage with her smooth vocals style that is poured over the bass heavy vibrations.In the song's final five minutes they dip into a some what trippy passage that really adds to the dynamics of the album as a whole. They close the album with another dip into blues colored folk. This album is a big improvement for the band they have really grown as song writers. Up to this point I was indifferent towards them and now they are on my radar and I will be paying much closer attention, so I shall give this one a 9. Coming out September 8th on Relapse Records.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
I caught this Greensboro oddity at Dragon-con, so made it a point to hunt them down. They released this album back in May. Rather than try to describe to you what they have going on I'll just dig into the album. Its gypsies on the high seas right from the start. Lead singer Crystal Bright, has a not only a dramatic persona, but a fine set of pipes that she handles with the clarity and precision of any Broadway singer. A New Orleans tinged use of horns keep them from dipping into the same waters as early Decemberists. Despite not singing about murder and rape they are more often than not darker than the Decemberists, especially on a song like "October" where a sultry New Orleans jazz tinged smoke that comes off Brights voice emoting from a similar place as Siouxsie Sioux.
There is a more circus like Klezmer to "Forest of Dreams" which ebbs down into a creepier section. Lyrically their is a hint of Lovecraft on this one. They take a more light hearted approach to looking at the demons of your dreams on "Engastrimythe". The jazzy swagger still explores a wide range of dynamics with the ease of a prog rock band. Their flirtation with fantasy continues on "Sirenuse" which goes from being a jazzy torch song to a elegant cabaret climax. her band has not shortage of chops, if you could imagine Rasputina partying with a more chilled out Sleepy Time Gorilla Museum, you would be getting closer.
"Fall of the Seraph" finds Bright's voice drifting upward into a more delicate soprano as she sings about how rage is consuming a fallen angel. The Spanish "Lowering the Moon" is a smooth transition into bolero. Its not my favorite flavor on this album, but is well executed. 'Earth Above My Roots" goes back into the bands more eccentric vein. This sometimes finds the songs wandering off into more esoteric forms like the ballad "Crescent Moon Bear" which is mainly hear voice set against a dramatic yet slightly free-form piano piece. Then the second half of the album begins to go into a Tori Amos like piano heavy direction. At times this causing the songs to rely heavily on her voice. "Torment" starts like this , but the pay comes midway through as the rest of the band joins in to build the song up. "Choke" finds more vitorol in it's lyrics with a groove flowing underneath it. This finds the band back in the darker place. I'll give this album an 8.5 and see how it grows on me when they are on they are on their own plane, it's just the albums third act that gets mired down in abstract piano ballads that "Lion Heart" does better than even Tori Amos while we are being honest. If you like music that defies the genres of time, then this is for you.
The air of hip, slick and cool about that album has been replaced by more of a Pat Bentar thing going on with the opener with traces of Judas Priest's more radio rock moments coating the edges. Singer Christine Davis does have a better knack for the placement of her melodies than many of the so called occult rock bands that cropped up in their wake. "Stronger Than Blood" is a little heavier thought invokes the days when rock and metal were not as far removed from one another as they are today, so bands like Thin Lizzy and early Iron Maiden come to mind in the guitar harmonies.
Despite the Trooper like gallop that "No Place" takes on it doesn't grab me like the first two songs do. There is a Van Halen like opening to "Walkin Around" the song goes into a more upbeat gallop than the previous songs. This album does pay more homage to classic metal than "Possession" and could be said have a retro feel. The twin guitar attack is very melodic , but also feels like it is pushed way forward in the mix like they are standing on the monitors looming over you. Though it should be heavier to due the manner the pace is picked up for some reason "Open Road" isn't heavier. It might be a feel thing. With metal you can't fake the funk, either the aggression is in you are it's not, so it could be said that they are playing metal notes , but just don't have aggression in them. To play metal and mean it there needs to be some form of darkness, that you are not just giving lip service too. I think that is why their last album was so effective is that it wasn't trying to be metal it just was what they are.
They chill out on "Ultimate Freedom" and this feel more like who they really are. When this song does build the more metal elements are the most effective they have been on this album and their drummer Rueben Storey really proves himself. "Lone Wild" takes on a doomier tone that works well to darken things up. This take on metal is much more authentic to who they are as a band. They go more into almost Motley Crue style of rock sans cowbell on "III". I like the riff , but "Too Fast For Love" was also one of my first albums. Not sure if it really holds up as an instrumental since Davis' voice is their signature, but it's worth the listen. Overall, you can't argue with their influences and even when it seems like might not be feeling it as much their musicianship pulls them through the tough spot, they hit more than they miss and bring some impressive moment to the table along with some songs that knock it out of the park in places, so I'll give it an 8.5.
The album will be released on Relapse Records Sept 18th.
Monday, September 7, 2015
It is time for me to put an end to my denial, Grave Pleasures is not Beast Milk just changing their name. They have broken up and this is the new band. Kvohst is in the band and so is the bassist from Beast Milk. The new members are the former drummer of In Solitude and the guitarists from the Oath and Oranssi Pazuzu. Despite the more metal pedigree, they do not have the heft in their drive Beast Milk had. They hit the "Edge of Seventeen" like beat that In Solitude used on the song "Crying Wolves." Kvohst takes on a higher wavering death rock tone to his voice on the opening song.But at this albums dark heart this is more of a goth band than a metal band. Calling them death rock would be a stretch as they are far too polished and it lacks the raw smacked out punk feel. Not all punk is abandoned they touch upon it on "Future Shock " that also collides into a metal pound as well.
The guitar work is often more delicate and the riffs float around the the drums , thus allowing the vocals to explore less obvious placed to place the melodies. This at times gives the songs a more indie rock feel, which is the audience I think some of these songs will appeal to more than a metal crowd. As a result these songs are going to take multiple listens to sink in as they don't grab you by the throat like "Climax" did. They are more intricate in construction, which can make them more delicate. They return to a more punk pace on "Taste the Void" recalling old Beast Milk, complete with hooky Misfits like chorus.
"Lipstick on Your Tombstone" is the compromise between what they were and where they going. The vocals don't have the punch on the chorus, though lyrically the remain pretty clever. They are able to have some moments away from what you think of as the Beast Milk sound, the Cure like bass line to the chorus of "Girl in a Vortex" makes its all come together more like something the Smiths might have done if they had been more aligned with the 80s goth scene. They take a dip into a bluesy rock on "Crooked Vein" which carries enough emotion in the reflection on drug use to make it work. The bass picks up the pace to close the album with "Survival" that has an apocalyptic brooding to it. I'll need time to get use to the changes, I'll give this a 9.5 for now and I am sure by the end of the year as it grows on me it will become a 10 by the time I make my end of the year lists.