Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Mix Tape Mania

Kids these days will never know of the lost art of mix tapes. I am not sure you could find a blank tape to mix, much less the boom box to do it on these days without scouring antique stores . Saying that makes me feel like a relic from another time. Do kids leave notes in each other's lockers? Or do they just send selfies, and love Facebook or Instagram posts? Since there are no blank cds readily available much less cassettes the format has to suffice. In the days of cyber detachment sharing music is one of the most soul baring things to share these days as it says here are the songs that make me when I am expressing certain themes or concepts . So here is some of the more indie, folk themed things I lsiten to that are not among the darkest stuff I am into but probably darker than what they average person listens to in this respect, hope it provides a good soundtrack on the cloudy days going into the fall. 

Bon Iver - "iMi"


Chelsea Wolfe- "Flatlands"


 Twin Bandit - "Crown"


 Conny Ochs - "King Of the Dead"


 Emma Ruth Rundle - "Races "


 Marissa Nadler- "Blue Vapor"


 Tom Waits - "Heart of Saturday Night "


 Ryan Adams - "Wildest Dreams"


Nick Cave - "Far From Me"


Wreck & Reference : "Absolute Still Life"

Saying I have been a big fan or these guys might be an exaggeration of admiration. I began following them when they released "No Youth" back in 2012. Since I have typically made it a point to check out and review their releases since. Am I enough of a fan that I would leave the comfort of my house to see them if they came into town ? It would really depend on who they are playing w ith and unless money was flowing like wine at country club, not likely I would spring the 20 bucks on a shirt. If you have read this blog on a some what regular basis you might predict which bands that would happen for. The new album does interest me as it seems to be a darker turn. Imagine if Andy Dick was  making a goth album it might sound like the opening track. I know I brought up the King Missile comparison on the last time I reviewed these guys, but it is back. There is more going on and it's more experimental and dynamic.Things begin to take an even darker tune with the somber musing of " Eris Came to Me at Night' . I had to give this one a second listen,as it is very subdued and works of a murmured narrative.

 I really like the cold robotic groove to the surprisingly melodic 'stubborn lake"   The go back to the more King Missle sound on "What Goes In and Comes out". It works but not the best song on the album as I prefer the previous song. Heavy is not a currency they are really dealing in on a regular basis , but comes closer with the anguished vocals of  'what IS A Gift. "."in uniform" is almost more atmospheric than a song, since these guys stock and trade is all manner of weirdness I will let it count as a song.  "Dumb Forest" is an interesting commentary on sexuality. It's back in the King Missile mode , but the lyrics make up for a great deal.  I am big on lyrics and a song that might not win me over in and of itself, can tip the balance with good lyrics. "Amends" is another timid song that sound like Bright Eyes on harsher drugs and what ever Conner does. He comes closer to singing singing here. The beat is minimal and jagged. These lyrics are more self depreciating and not as appealing to me. 

The album ends with a denser heavier sound, but heavy in the same way Xiu Xie, can be. Only marginally darker than previous songs. It goes progress into atmosphere. I will give this album an 8 there are a couple songs I really like, but it is not likely I would listen to it on a regular basis if it was in my iPod, if you are a fan of the more avant garde, post industrial scene,tho would be a since addition for shuffle mode in following up an album like new Pinkish Black.Being relased on the Flenser.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Tool : " Fear Inoculum"

13 years has passed since "10,000 Days" was released. That in itself being an album that was not the band's best as they began recycling riffs from their previous album. After this 13 year wait they have a released an album 7 songs  in which all but one are over 10 minutes. The problem wit the first single and title track, was it was long and ponderous lacking most of the coiled punch that makes the band work. Granted it's been since "Laterlus" they have been on this winding prog road. Even that album knows when it's time to rock and cares about the songs. One second listens to the title track it grows on me by maybe four degrees higher. It still like they are warming up ideas recycled from other songs. It's also not that heavy. "Pneuma" opens with a strum and pattering of exotics drums.Much like "Schism" it works off a building and odd time signature to bring the tension. It's almost a rip off of "Schism".. I do like the vocals to this song better than the first.  The vocals are the only thing that make it work and not a total carbon copy of  "Schism" as the instrumentation is going for that even in how it's arranged.

"Descending" continues the trend of "Laterlus" resurrection this time pulling from songs like "the Patient" and  "Parabola". If you do not hear it , it is because you do not want to. This puts all the weight Maynard to vary the vocals and retain the song's identity, which he does better in some places than others. They would not be the first band to plagiarize themselves , but just how progressive is it?The guitar solos on this is Adam Jones's moment to shine, though the melody it reverts to is too familiar. In the atmospheric break down there are some new sounds that get drowned by rehash, though it's well p[produced and executed rehash.  "Culling Voices" starts off giving me hope that perhaps I will get just one that does not sound like something else I have already heard from them. Midway into the song it begins taking on a sense of familiarity when the guitar kicks in for the predictable build up section. 'Still nothing all that heavy or aggressive. Which is  what I feared as what is heavy in 2019 has progressed where these guys are still where they were in 2006 and truth be told when that album came out it did not seem as heavy as they once came across.

"Chocolate Chip Trip" is it is Danny Carey doing a drum solo to electronic noises. Drummers will be impressed I am sure. If the most original thing is their take on "Moby Dick" well that is no good. They end the album with the 15 minute "Tempest". The droning clean guitar that opens the song drones in a way that displays where some of the fat could have been cut from the start. Minute and a half into it we get the first riff where they are actually rocking out. Maynard's vocals are more aggressive. The grove is not original but thanks to the vocals it works. There is a "Dazed & Confused" middle section where Jones should pull out the bow that they jam on for sometime. This song does redeem some of the more indulgent moments even though it's 15 minutes and nothing 100 percent new from them  it is well done. All the this album is well executed so that is why I am rounding it down to a 9 and I am tempted to take it another notch down to an 8.5 for making us wait this long for warmed up left overs.But maybe it will grow on me. It's a step down from "10000 Days which had many more moments of originality  I think this album will work well live because rather than decided which of their classics to play they have written a medley that pulls from all of them. Nothing new to hear here.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Isole : "Dystopia"

After the deluge of death doom this year it is good to just hear straight forward doom. Though not as straight forward as most doom bands due to the fact Most of this band also plays in the Pagan Black Metal band Ereb Altor. This cross over can still be felt in the influences brought to the table as they are not just doom musicians . Being from Sweden there are many other elements from the influence of their country men despite being a doom band. You get the guitar harmony parts from melo-death, the aggression of Dissection in places as well as the first influence that came to mind due to the melancholy groove Katatonia. In fact in many place it feels like Katatonia jamming with Candlemass, The first song has more drive than the bulk of this album that wallows in depressive dirges. The crooned vocals are like a less emotive version of My Dying Bride. They moan over the guitar , not always working into the riff. The results are less hooky than say Pallbearer. This guy can belt it out and has a great singing voice, he just has no intention of writing anything for a mainstream radio audience.

I have made a playlist of black metal bands for people who like power -metal, and have thought about making a doom for people into power metal playlist as these guys would qualify, I am still doing it , November is going to become our doom month here, if you are reading this you probably get the reference. These these guys belong on it as things are very big and dramatic. Epic sounding thanks to their other band. "the Beholder" opens with a mellower more introspective guitar part before cranking into the meat of the song. These guys are not playing riffy Sabbath stuff. It is pretty intricate, you could even think of this as progressive doom.  There is a heavier crunch to "You Went Away". It is an extremely dynamic song with things breaking down before hitting you double bass. The riff going to "Forged By Fear" the probably the closest to conventional doom I have heard so far .By conventional doom we are talking direct descendants of Black Sabbath. Guttural growls also color this song.  It is s solid song, but the bar has been raised high for these guys so it might not be the strongest song on the album.

If you have a doom album and the longest song is eight minutes, then you are telling me you know how to write a song and know this requires trimming the fat, much like editing a story.  "Galenkapens Land" is sung in their native tongue. The drumming is very groovy. The guitar gives everything room to breath and when it kicks in highly melodic. It's also despondently dark, so all I need when it comes to doom. "Nothingness" closes the album. This one is more Candlemass like. The guitar melody is memorable and works well with the vocals.  I will give this album a 9. It is one of the more solid doom albums I have heard in a few months at least. If you want doom with very little death metal and way more melancholy this album is  worth your time . Released on Hammerheart Records

Report to the Dance Floor - Snoop Dogg : "I Wanna Thank Me"

Not all rappers hold up over time in fact once they get out of the game and begin appearing on TV shows and Movies, then you get to see who was really just an actor all along. Snoop has had his share of not so shining moments like his verse on Katy Perry's "California Girls" which was straight up terrible or his No Limit years, but he made "the Chronic" and his first album was super solid, so there is hope, after all murder was the case they gave him. The opening track is strong and it seems like he might be back on his game. However on an album with 20 songs there is more odds of error. I like the use of the Bob Marley song. It does not feel like Slick Rick adds much and lyrically it's feels like a public service announcement during Black History Month.  "Let Bygones Be Bygones"  has an old Death Row feel, since it is about Suge Knight.  Gang unity is a common theme that creeps up on songs through out the album , the topic first comes up on "One Blood , One Cuzz". This song also highlights the fact that Snoop came from a time where they cared about songs and the hooks were really strong.

The funky "Countdown" finds Snoop in his zone. The intro to "I C Your Bullshit" is silly, but it redeems itself wit ha cool old school 80s beat that sounds like it could have come from a Fat Boys song. Chris Brown lends his voice to "Turn Me On".  As modern pop cross over hip hop it works well. Snoops flow is great. Gangsta rap meets trap on "Blue Face Hunnids". This brings the past and present together well.  "New Booty"  touches on the homo erotic elements of prison I do not think I have ever heard anyone rap about it.  Like the smoke the song discusses " Take Me Away" breezes past with a lazy ambiance, I could have appreciated more when I was getting stoned.  There is a Caribbean flare  to  "Do It When I am In It". T o sound like it is from Miami it seems to be about   Magic City". There is a smooth Isaac Hayes feels to the laid back 70s groove of "First Place".  The keeps his momentum with "Focused". This album is really well produced and a song like this shows how he takes old school sounds and brings them into 2019.   

"Rise to the Top" goes a minute and a half before Snnop comes in. It's ok, but not the album's strongest song. The more r&b feel Nate Dogg gives to "Wintertime in June" works.  "Main Phone" recalls his more classic era. The 80s pop feel to "Do You Like I Do" is cool as he takes on this old school Janet Jackson feel. This might be one of the album's best songs, even though it doesn't not sound like what you expect from Snoop. On the flip side he smooth 'I've Been Looking For You" is very typical of what you expect from him. "UBITCHU" feels more like a Nikki Minaj song.  "Ventalation" fis right in the current tone of hip hop, though once again sounding nothing like the Snoop you might have showed up for until his verse. It closes with the title track that falls along the line of business as usual for Snoop.  I will round this one up to a 10 as the songs that did strike me on the first few listens will probably grow on me and the album's biggest accomplishment is how well he blends rap past , present and future. 

Sacred Reich :"Awakening"

All the thrash greats are coming out of the wood work to reunite and put out new stuff this year so far Flotsam and Jetsam , Overkill & Death Angel have been the most successful at this can this classic thrash band from Arizona Two members of this line up played on "Ignorance". The drummer played on "Independent" . As far as bands reforming I guess that is pretty acceptable. Their sound has both changed and stayed the same. I think some of it is Rind's vocals are smoother in some places where they used to be gritty. This gives it a more rock n roll feel than thrash. A similar change as say Metal Church, who made the transition a little more gracefully in terms of songwriting. Not as aggressive glory days, it does grow on me. T

he  palm muted chug of " Divide and Conquer" caused Rind to put more balls in his vocals , though belts in a more refined voice for the chorus. I do like the way the guitars punch the chorus. Had to listen to "Salvation" three times before I could form an opinion, as it more rock n roll in many ways and did not grab me.The song writing is not as adventurous as anything off "the American Way".  The palm muted chug is in play on "Manifest Reality" , They even speed up to proper thrash tempo on this , but something is not clicking like it used to. It leans to the side of dialing it in in hopes of remembering what they used to be like. Rind's singing voice is pretty decent. For not being as active as they once were it had held up and matured."Killing Machine" is closer to the kind of music they make. They when it get's to the chorus it takes on more of a rock feel however here it works.  "Death Valley" is dramatically more rock and roll and barely metal . He is clearer singing higher and not giving the same throaty roar he used to.

They touch on the more punk side of thrash on. "Revolution". The verse sounds dialed in but the chorus is cool. so it's a mixed bag. The ng something to believe sticks them once again more on the side of hard rock and I do not see it growing on me in the same way "Divide & Conquer did. This is not as solid as their peers leaning away fro so I will give it an 8.5 though it's a decent album when compared to thrash today and much more focused on song writing.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Iggy Pop : " Free"

If Iggy contributed to a David Lynch film the results would be similar to the intro track of his new album. "Blah Blah Blah" is the first album I bought by Iggy when it came out as I knew the David Bowie connection. Then I went straight to "Fun House". The restraint of "Loves Missing" reminds me of "Blah, Blah, Blah" every filtered through 50s jazz.  This is his 18th album . He is collaborating with jazz musician"Leron Thomas". The reason he is taking this turn is because he was decompressing  after doing a more rock n roll tour.  If this is as good as the album gets I am o.k with it. That means he must maintain this kind of dark tension.

The looser musing of "Sonali" is not as impressive, it almost sounds like he is trying to rap. "James Bond" might have been a better song with different lyrics. He goes into a higher snark for "Dirty Sanchez" . The songs is more aggressive and works well. "Glow In the Dark" is a strange song on an already weird album. Half the weird is due to some strange production choices. He has covered so much ground already this should not be a surprise. The thing about experimentation is some times the experiment works better than others. This sounds like Joy Division after drinking a bottle of Ny-Quil. "Page" is the first song where Iggy sounds like he is 72. I am not interested in hearing him do spoken word over jazz either. I might accept "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Dark Night". The smooth jazz album of Iggy Pop might be the equivalent to being his "Lulu"

"the Dawn" finds him continuing down the spoken word path.  My most recent Facebook posts was ... One of 2019's harsher truths it the new Taylor Swift is way better than the new Iggy Pop and she is dialing it in half the time. I really hate the fact that I am giving this album  a 6, but I can not lie to my self or to you. There are a few good songs. But this is the fucking lead singer of the Stooges we are talking about . I think he could have done this jazz album in a way that was more graceful. He should have called up David Lynch to help over see this. This comes out September 6th.


Taylor Swift : "Lover"

To an extent she stays the course as "Reputation" in that it is less organic than "Red"  and more of an electronic based pop album. The first single"Me!" felt rushed  and was an underwhelming fast forward classic. The opener is better than that song, but not up to what I expect from her as the verses do not feel focused. She does knock it out of the park on "Cruel Summer". I am excited that she returns to guitar on the title track, winking back toward her country roots. This is what I want more of , though I love "1989" so I am ok with the pop. It also has a little touch of 1950's pop. The second song also takes turns toward the end that is more adventurous song writing than "Reputation" . It is back to pop on "the Man". It's some what of a feminist ode. There is more of an 80s sound to the beat. The chorus is not as strong as her other pop songs

There is a dark more Chrvches like sound to " the Archer". It coasts on the same introspective atmosphere without building, so it fakes you out and gives you sonic blue balls.  There is weird funk tinged feel to the other wise plastic synths of "I Think He Knows". It's ok , but not great. I know she can be great, so I need that. "Miss Americana & the Heart Break Prince" benefits from her fitting snugly around the beat. Guitar returns to "Paper Rings" . It's peppy like a organic version of "Shake It Off" though the vocal lines are not as strong, but it's a fair enough point of reference. The chorus is peppier. The 50s under current is present in places here. "Cornelia Street" has a hookier vocal line that holds up against her other work. Which is all I really ask of her.  "Death By a Thousand Cuts " has guitar on it , but the bulk of the song is electronic. It's thoughtfully upbeat and interestingly atmospheric in a way most pop is not. "London Boy" is pretty passable for her, it's silly and fun, so I will take it.

The Dixie Chicks join her for the acoustic song "Soon You'll Get Better" . Anything country tinged I am going to like with Her. There is sax on "False God". It feels like she is covering a Sade song, which I am good with. I had already heard " You Need to Calm Down" ...and I like it, better than the first single.  "Afterglow" feels like it could have come off of "Reputation". The chorus works so I am good with it, not recycling , but familiar enough of a sound to still be new . Giving "Me!" another listen and it's not as bad this time around, the chorus is a little too happy, it's still one of the album's weaker songs. Their are many asian intervals on "It's Nice to Have a Friend", it's kinda of like a folk so by way of China. Very odd. "Daylight" is a ballad of sorts, once the beat comes in and gives some movement it improves. I will give this a 9 for now and see how it grows on me. I would give her other albums up to this point 10s at least ..."Reputation". "1989", "Red" and "Speak Now" so this is a notch below those, I think there are too many songs so it leaves more of a margin for error and she should have stopped while she was ahead and trimmed the fat. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Hesitation Wounds : "Chicanery"

Going into an album from a band comprised of members from Touche Amore, Trap Them, the Hope Conspiracy and Gouge Away, I expect an explosion from the get go. Instead there is 43  seconds of  dark brooding guitar that gave me a false sense of security and then the explosion came. It is pretty straight forward punk, the first song has a metallic break down and there are plenty of hard core punches thrown. It political anger , about what makes him fucking sick. I am fine with punk doing this I know what I am signing on for in this regard. The first 3 songs are under 3 minutes .

 "Trending" goes into moment of hyper speed blasting. There are some cool riffs in it, but even  for punk the rule here is cool riffs alone do not a good song make. The vocals are a throat yell that only conveys anger. This gets a little tedious by "At Our Best When We're Asleep". The more melodic guitar to "Hellevangelist"  give it more sonic motion that is more interesting. The album ends as it begins though they develop that into riff into an actual song, which I think is a really cool idea and more forward thinking than  most punk. This song is more sonically intense and darker which of course works well for me. It is also the best song on the album.

This album is short and sweet, except for the hyper fast part that got on my nerves, if you want angry punk then this is a good soundtrack for the state of today's world. These guys are of course total pros at what they do. This album is on Deathwish Inc, so it is going to be quality production wise. I will give it an 8. While I enjoyed the listens I got from this it is not something I would listen to on a regular basis, as when it is time for this kind of thing I would go for Converge instead, as they are darker and more metallic. But if you want something that is more punk than not then this will be up your alley. This album comes out August 30th.

Toxic Holocaust : "Primal Future 2019"

I will there have been some albums I have like by these guys the last one I gave much of a chance might have been 7 years ago though. Upon hearing the new album is there is more "Kill'em All" this time around . Coming very close to "Whiplash" at times on the first song.  I already own that album so it does not blow me away. This is the most accessible thing I have heard from these guys .  I am bored by the second song. Maybe ripping off Metallica is what is best for them."New World Beyond"  is much better and only rips off Sepultura in tone, not directly from a specific riff. The production is much more polished on this album. Then things begin to get stagnant.

 The two songs after this follow a similar formula and are a relentless palm muted chug that bores me. The title track is better , but not better than "New World Beyond". A little more of a Venom hint to it. The it goes back to bland thrash, that sounds the same as the other bland thrash, it lacks the sense of menace I have heard from them before and the lead tone is very thin. After the solo there is a cool bridge riff, but the rule here is cool riffs alone do not a good song make.  The Sepultura mode is a better one for them as heard on "Controlled By Fear" I like the tasteful flourishes of double bass. Very inconsistent as the song after this defaults to dialing color by numbers thrash, with maybe two cool riffs in it.

The last song is ok, but I think this guy is better than just o.k in fact there were 3 or 4 songs that were pretty damn decent , but not living up tio what I had heard from them in the past. I am fine with them going in a more mainstream direction even at the cost of losing their edge, I think the song writing is just lazy and it feels like they just needed and album to justify touring. I will round this one down to a 6.5 , if you just want thrash or are a hug fan of this band, you might still derive some entertainment value from this.

Interview Jay Gambit of Crowhurst

Earlier this year I reviewed the latest album from this experimental black metal project , which was the 3rd part in a trilogy. I recently managed to find the time to catch up with Jay Gambit the main man behind this project to discuss his creative process behind this album. 

There seems to be a theme of working with different personnel for each record you make. Is there a reason behind this?

I view lineups as more of an assembly of musicians I think will benefit the record. Andy was the backbone, no doubt about it - but there's a lot more musicians on III like Ethan from Primitive Man and other folk who's sonic signature was distinct and complementary to various recordings. What keeps this from being a solo project is that I feel every musician brings their own presence, and by playing around with different formulas each record - you can get some spectacular and unique result.

Overall this album has a more organic feel what percentage of the drums are live this time around ?

Less of the drums were live this time around. We did a lot of layering live drums over electronic drums.

Some of the darker elements of this album seem to draw influence from acts like Swans or Birthday Party  is the case ? And what is your relationship with post-punk?

The trilogy was kind of my expression of what a black metal record should be, with the first taking lots of influence from old school screamo and AmpRep style noise rock. The second drew more from industrial metal with clear nods to Marilyn Manson, Ministry and acts like Mamaleek that are doing their own thing. Being that this was the final entry, there was a lot of cramming - and 80's neofolk/post-punk is a genre we wanted to touch upon this time. I do have another project called Executioner's Mask which is very strictly post-punk though, so that's where those ideas go now.

The lyrics seem to be more personal this time around, what are the lyrical themes?   

The trilogy is roughly a kind of trip through hell, in the sense that it deals with addiction and mental health issues. A lot of it deals with suicide. I have been dealing with severe depression for all my life - my father committed suicide and I was raised by my mom who also deals with depression. There's a lot of songs about trying as hard as you can and still failing. Songs about being taken advantage of, and just the savage nature of people and life in general.

When you started this project did you have any goals? Have you met any of those goals?

I had a huge goal met when I played two sets at Roadburn this year. Same with Austin Terror Fest - those are two festivals that consistently serve as a showcase for the best and the brightest and it was an honor to be picked to play. Outside of that, I feel that I am a failure. My thoughts were that nobody even bought the album until I saw that the LP's had sold out and were unavailable from the Prophecy store - and even then they said it was just a computer glitch. I still hold ambitions for the project though - however silly. An example - as dorky as it seems, I have always wanted to have our albums covered by the places I discovered my favorite bands from in college like Pitchfork. For now though, I am kind of at the mercy of whatever Prophecy wants from and for me.  

In more extreme forms of music vocals can come across as an afterthought and just become a human layer of white noise, this is not the case on this album, when did they come into play in terms of songwriting ?

I write a lot over the years and at the end of the session I kind of slap down vocals however they see fit. I think we recorded vocals for III in 44 minutes, almost all single takes - almost all with choruses I formed from abstract notes while in front of the microphone. I hate to consider them an afterthought because they have a lot of thought put into them, but they are almost always only revisited as more than just words on paper after everything else is done.

Crowhurst was formed in 2011 when noise was still a fairly fringe genre for most listeners of metal and other more mainstream extreme music subcultures. In the past decade though, more and more noise acts are gaining more widespread popularity. What would you credit that to?

I think one act you can give a lot of credit to is The Body, who have not only toured RELENTLESSLY - but have taken a lot of people on tour who would have likely been considered a real "risk" by promoters. I still think it's hard to break through for noise acts - we still struggle to find a booking agent that understands us no matter how hard we try even though we don't play noise sets much anymore. Ultimately though, there are SO MANY fearless acts these days like Moor Mother, Dreamcrusher, Lingua Ignota and Pharmakon who bring the sounds of harsh noise to audiences who are just learning of the genre's existence.

Are their any albums released  this year you have heard that moved you? 

Lingua Ignota, False, Ramleh, Immortal Bird - a lot of really awesome interdisciplinary stuff. I think the current state of music is one of transitions. If you look at 2008-2009 there's a lot of similarities, a lot of barrier breaking and button pushing. That's what we need now - more music that will influence and less music that is influenced. 

Are their plans for live performances or touring to support this album ?

Our idea was to do various dates across the US/UK/EU instead of a full summer run. We did a lot of festivals and tried to capture them for YouTube - we should have recorded the one in Austin but I forgot to put SD cards in the cameras we set up. There's some stuff coming up in the fall as well, and we hope to get on the road as support for somebody else in 2020. Playing live rules. Just depends what's possible for us.

You often have multiple releases over the course of the year is there any anything else planned for release?

I wish we were allowed to release more. I have about 7 full, finished records that I am restricted from releasing. I'm being forced to just sit on this amazing collaboration with Crawl. There's a whole noise rock LP we recorded in the UK with Sam from Slabdragger who's one of my favorite UK producers and an incredible dude all around. I did a classical record with Gavin Bryars that is hopefully coming out soon. The label doesn't speak to me directly anymore, but I've heard that they want to release that one.

In the meantime someone assembled a bunch of Bandit remixes I did for a podcast and put them on YouTube which was really cool, as they were just done for fun and never meant as a record. The demos from a death metal album I'm working on ended up on 4Chan and Kingdom Leaks so we just uploaded it ourselves - that you can hear. Some other projects coming up. Working with other bands like Culted and Dragged Into Sunlight. There will always be something...

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Mix Tape Mania : For the Vampires of Ashevillle

Some might say it is superficial or shallow to judge people by the music they listen. It is in fact just the opposite. Music is made of vibrations. The vibrations people respond to tell you what wave length they are on.Whatever you up in your head is what is going to come out of it.  Some people might tell you good music is subjective. First off I do not believe in good or bad , right or wrong, people are either effective of ineffective. So the finite qualities of music are measure by will it stand the test of time and do you return to it again and again.  The local hipsters ah the corner coffee shop might have all kinds of ideas regarding what is good  music or not, but 90 percent of music fads are gotten.  That is why good taste in music is non-negotiable for me. It's the sound track to the movie of life. Not many great movies have shitty sound tracks. So these songs have provide a sound track for me over the years, they are also filtered through the stream of what is good music for 300 year old vampires in Asheville who look like they are 19. Granted  soundtracks for vampire's are in my wheel house so this was easy.   .

"Vampire's Night Out -by Harley Poe

269 Soul Mates by Street Sects

 Special K by Placebo


 Fetisha by Strvngers


 "Love Song" By Snake River Conspiracy


July" by Katatonia


 "Love in a Cold World" Beastmilk


 "Phone Call" by The Faint


"Jack You Up" by- Mindless Self Indulgence


 "Nocturnal " by New Years Day


Silence in the Snow : " Levitation Chamber"

When reviewing post -punk the first thing I ask of the the band is what are you doing  that is not Joy Division or Siouxise. The vocals are going to be the challenge as they are on the Siouxsie side  More so on the up tempo songs like the second one , though there it is offset by the pummel of tribal drums. The synths create a some what uniform sound at times. There is a simple drone to verse of "Crystal Spear" , the chorus to this song is really cool and paves the way for me to not mind the Siouxsie thing. The drumming is consistently great like the flourish of double bass on "Garden of Echoes" it gives the song a little more heft than your typical post-punk that leans into disco beats.  I fell like the mix while crisp could have the guitars pushed further up and the vocals might fare better sitting back against the guitar. This works really well of Gold's new album.

"In the Dark" does have the guitar changing it up a little and providing some cool moments, the synth also breaks away from the normal drone. This album is not the darkest post-punk I have heard. The mood is sullen and introspective for sure. It feels like a deep blue rather than pitch black.  Though "Cruel Ends " is marginally darker than the other songs up to this point. It feels like storm building in the distance. The synth sounds help contribute to "Dread The Low' which is clearly a song about depression with the lyrics 'happy in my heart / I don't understand / the waves come crashing in". This might be the album's best song.
I get that the Siouxsie thing might be a key selling point for some. For me it's how it works against that and their attempts to be their own person I find more impressive. I will give this album an 8.5. I think it's a good thing the post- punk revial has died down and I am not getting a huge deluge of this kind of thing. Granted some of it like this band have gone more underground, so I am not getting worn out by it like I am getting worn out by the whole death doom thing this year. Anyways if you want atmospheric post-punk with great drumming look this kids up.

Monday, August 19, 2019

White Ward : "Love Exchange Failure"

This band returns with their sophomore album, I forget what they do so the smooth jazz like tones were not what I expected going into this and they prove only the calm before the storm . Then they hurtle into blast beats four minutes into things. I prefer the darker build they lean into at the six minute mark. They pound on it more like a hardcore band than black metal.  More of a modern take on black metal than you might think would come out of Ukraine. The compositional structure of the song is pretty ambitious.  They return to jazz at the beginning of "Poisonous Flowers Of Violence". This is more short lived than it was with the opener. There are more post- rock like sounds, which at this point are more common place in black metal so not a unique. Despite it not breaking any new ground for the genre they are good at what they do.  There are some cool riffs, but you know the rule around here is cool riffs alone does not a good song make, so they bend the rule by throwing a sax in.

There are some sonic atmospherics to "Dead Heart Confession" not enough to gain my attention until the song breaks down to a darker jazz section five minutes in. Jazz takes over the beginning of "Shelter" though there are weird noises in the background to fore shadow the inevitable return of the blast beats. This is really more of an interlude that leads into the more minimal free form jazz of "No Cure For Pain"  At four minutes in they return to the metal. This time it's more thrashy and free of blast beat. The vocals stay at a similar snarl.The drummer for this band is really on point , even more than what is expected of black metal. There are also guitar solos which at one time were not as frequent in black metal, but are becoming more common place. I do  like when they blend the jazz as another layer to the metal. There are even sung vocals in the final minutes before it returns to jazz.

Female vocals come into play on "Surfaces and Depths" .  The song slinks along flowing into the more dynamic builds. Then things get much more moody as male vocals croon in the distance. The harsher vocals return and they continue to blend jazz with their metallic side, though in a darker manner that I prefer. The vocals change into a throatier tone more like sludge. They also pulls out an  epic chugging riff that impresses me . I will give this album an 8.5 , it is a unique experience and finds the band improving in the blend of jazz and black metal, not sure if it is something I will lsiten to on a regular rotation , but enjoyed the listens I got out of this thus far. Comes out September 20th on Dembur Morti .


Saturday, August 17, 2019

Pyramido "Fem"

This is one of those cases where the vocals are heavier than where the guitars are going. It doesn't sound that Swedish. Though I do not normally do not think of Sweden when I think of sludge. The guitar could be from an indie rock album, The drums are playing harder than indie rock , but not at the level a metal band would be pounding them at.  The second sound is heavier and moves closer to metal. The guitar tone is not that over driven, which goes to prove how you spin production changes every thing. I do like the melodic break, as it gives the song more breathing room.

The third song doesn't find the guitar matching up with the vocals , but it takes a step closer and the guitar melody the song opens up with is cool.There is more of a feed back garage churning midway in the album as things go in a more grunge direction, except for the snarling vocals that sound like they were mixed in from another album. "Insikten" is both more atmospheric and heavier. The guitar leading into the song is almost shoe gaze like in how it's melody floats. It contrasts the vocals in a way more like the kind of dynamic Deafheaven has .

The album ends with the title track which is slower and more doomy in tempo, indulging in melancholy though not committing to actually mourning or fully despairing.  The vocals do not come in until the end. It soars and gets more majestic than what we have previously heard on this album.   I will give this album an 8.5, though I am unsure if I will give it further listens. Mainly because there is so much I have to listen to and this is not something that occupies a large percentage of my free listening time. I do respect what is being done here and will keep my ears out for what the future of this band holds, if you want sludge tinged with blackened indie rock then this is for you. The album comes out September 27th on the Sign Records. 

Friday, August 16, 2019

Drugs of Faith : "Decay"

It looks like I am catching up with this years hardcore.  This is not a band I am the most familiar with. In the past I caught a song in the periphery. This band's name go tosses around by the same  The title track is an instrumental that has a pretty mean riff. The problem is the rule here is mean riffs alone does not a good album make. When the vocals come in on the second song, they have a more spoken Black Flag feel to them. Yes they are pissed. Yes this comes across in their songs. What they need to pay close attention to is even with this heavy sound they have to make the most of every moment and cut back on wallowing in the noise.

On "Anonymity" there is a chaotic dissonance to the track. At times this feels almost like noise rock. Though it is blown out in a more aggressive fashion like the guitars wen through a car window upon hitting a wall. The vocals are more spoken so easy to discern. Things get increasingly chaotic on " Nihilists". When they bring it  together with a metallic riff it works better.The album started off with a more metallic hard core sound and as it progresses takes on more of a punk vibe thanks to the jagged riffs hammered at you.It is sonically spastic and seems to get faster as it goes. A minute into the last song "Construction" it becomes a more indistinguishable. I can catch a shouted lyric here or there amid the chaos.

At ten minutes long this EP blows by pretty quick. I will round this down to an 8. This has great energy and is really easy to listen to despite being somewhat abrasive. I am not sure how many more spins I will give this as there are more song oriented stuff that I prefer if I am going to pick and choose. Fans if this kind of hipster  hardcore will find plenty of common ground here. This comes out September 6th on Self Made God Records.


Nightfell :" a Sanity Deranged"

The first song is an odd mix of  death doom. It starts off more doom and builds into death metal as the pace picks up. Things get darker and have more emotion on the second song. It might have the buzz of tremolo guitar it is closer to death metal than black metal. There is no shortage of grim atmosphere. The double bass steers the song into the death metal side of this band. There is a thicker atmosphere and more of a mournful mood to "To the Flame". So far I think these album is heavier than the first two, but with that comes less of that crushing chug they once carried. The songs are also more droney. monk chants buried behind the distortion and the builds are more subtle, it might be a heavier record, but it is less explosive.

The descent into doom continues of " The Swallowing of Flies". There is not as much that sets this song part from other bands that do this sort of thing, and believe me in 2019 there are a ton of them. They do pick up the pace and double bass comes thundering in. They end the album with the title track which is another lurking doom song. I do like the fact it is dark and depressing. The vocals are also a nastier growl. This makes them harder to under stand than previous album, but also more of a texture and less adhering to the rules of songs, which can work for or against them. Three and half minutes into the song and it picks up into a throbbing gallop. This creates more of a black metal feel.The drums continue to drive the song faster and harder. Everyone else slowly responds in kind.  

  There have been a massive influx of death doom bands, it's hard to say these guys are jumping on a band wagon when they have been at it for some time. They are leaning into the doom side more , and I doubt Portland is a vacuum where they are unaware of what is going on in the bigger metal world. I likes this album. It is easy to listen to. I loses a little of it's steam as it progresses , but the strong start makes it memorable . I will give it an 8.5. If you are a fan of this band you should like this unless you are spent on death doom. This album comes out Sept 13th on 20 Buck Spin.  

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Knocked Loose : "a Different Shade of Blue"

I may or may not have included these guys on that next big thing list I reviewed based off of Revolver magazine's thread asking readers who they thought the next big things was going to be. I have yet to se any of those blowing up this year. Never listened to an entire album by these guys, it's metal core with the emphasis on core. Their vocalist has more of a punk yell. They do have another member of the band add death metal growls that are lowering. In some ways it makes me think of Drop Dead Gorgeous if they were more punk. They experimental a little more on the second song. "A Serpents Touch" puts the emphasis more on the break downs or the frenetic pace. You can hear how Slayer has influenced them on "By the Grave" .

By the time we get to " In the Walls" it sounds like you are being haunted by the ghosts of Myspace metal past. There are touches of dissonance I like , I am beginning to get a little bored.  There is a little more darker atmosphere on "Guided By the Moon" . Rather than sung vocals there are spoken sections buried in effects and set further into the mix. I think this is the first song that I really like. "Mistakes Like Fractures" is metal-core  color by numbers.  "Forget Your Name" works better as it is catchier. "Road 23" felt like an extension of that song. "And Still I Wander South"  finds the band locked into what works better for them which also hinged how much space every one is given in the mix.

Like people who live for the weekends, bands that live for the break downs are missing out on the rest of the song , and fail to think of  how this will effect the entirety of the album. I will give this album a 7.5. I can not be the target audience. I guess the target audience is all in high school.   Which is fine they can round it up to an 8 if need be. I can not see them being the next big thing or me wanting to listen to this again.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Overkill : 'the Wings of War"

Having heard good things about this album I decided to check it out. I used to love these guys in the late 80s. The opener finds the bands returning where I left off with them in the early 90s before the coming of grunge threw thrash bands a curve ball along with them scrambling to make their own "Black Album". The second is faster faster and more hard core tinged. Bobby's voice which is one of their more distinct qualities is intact as has stood the test of of time well. In fact it might sound better , as he actually singing more while retaining his gritty higher delivery. Along with the bassist Bobby is the only other founding member. However Jason Bitner is playing drums for these guys now which works for me.

 Though I am not sure about the chorus to "Head of a Pin" though the verse riff is fine with me.  The chorus is also a little weird on "Batshitcrazy". Choruses used to be their strength thinking back to songs like "Hello From the Gutter".They bounce back with "Distortion" which plays to their strengths.  "Mother's Prayer" is ok, but they have already done better on this album. "Welcome To the Garden State" is a thrash punk anthem to their home. Fun, but not the best writing of their career. The darker more powerful " Where Few Dare to Walk" might be the album's best song. It kinda of swings like a Metallica song, but packs a punch in more of the right places.

"Out on the Road Kill" is so straight forward that is has more of a rock n roll feel. There is a solid groove to it and the drumming is really fantastic. They lock into some pretty solid classic Overkill sounding thrash for the last song. nothing as adventurous or ground breaking as the other songs but it works. I will give this album an 8. It might not be as good as there classic material which this album made me want to go and search for , but far far as post "Horrorscope" albums go it fits nicely.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Sundays: " Wiaca"

This Danish folk band is folk in a manner as loose as Bon Iver. I just reviewed the new Bon Iver so it's a fresh comparison. These guys are going for more of a pop thing, There singer has a rock inflected tenor. The chorus is multilayered. They sing in English. They are also a little happier than my average listening. These guys are more focused on the song than the sound. Though is well produced, it does not seem they have a specific sounds they were going for and just played this is what came out. There is smoother laid back tone to "Passengers Choir".  It is weird because if an American band did this they would not help from sounding like Mumford and Sons. They chorus floats off with a sugary set of wings.

There is a 70s feel to " Turn". It is not disco , but pointing in that direction. Less of a blatant bid for dancing, Their choruses are generally pretty solid and this song is no exception. "Avalanche" is the first song that is clearly folk. They take on a mellow strum with one of the catchier choruses thus far.  With "Afternoon Wakes" they keep things moving in a poppy direction, but poppy in the best sense of the word as the melody hooks you in, not auto-tune bullshit pop.  "Fireman" is the first song I am unsure of how the lyrics work , bout the melody is cool so hard to call, it will most likely grow on me.  There is a subtle hint of country, granted by way of Denmark on "Rush". The bridge leading into the chorus melody is cool.  "Chants" is the first song where I hear any really Scandinavian influence, it's mainly in the percussion.

"Romans" is light and airy in the breeze it flows . They close the album with the somewhat upbeat folk of "Don't' Call Me Jesus" . If you are a fan of folk  or mellower acoustic based pop music then this is certainly worth your time. I think if you are just a fan of music regardless of genre then this is also worth your time. I am giving this album a 9.5, which says something because this is normally not my kind of thing, but it shows I am looking for songs , and will even step out of my safety zone of dark music from time to if it is good enough to engage me in a meaningful way.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Live Review : "Neurosis @ the Masquerade

Normally reluctant to go see a band who is not touring behind new material, I had not seen Neurosis since the “Times of Grace” album , so 20 year wait was long enough. The material between “Times of Grace” and “Given to the Rising” was hit or miss for me. Their last album was in a more Pink Floyd direction, but the fact The Bell Witch was opening sweetened the deal. I walked in during the Deaf Kids set. It worked off an energetic drone which provided a dramatic contrast to when Bell Witch took the stage without no far fare at all, It was like they check playing right through their line check,.They proceeded to play one long song that was a delicate throb with occasional vocals . I love funereal doom, but need more dynamics than what they gave that might, though watching the bass player pull it off was interesting for the first 10 minutes.   

22They opened with the slow pulse of “A Sun That Never Sets “ . 13 minute songs are ambitious openers, but it worked for these guys when they took the oddly barren stage. No projections  or crazy lighting. As I told a friend they played all their Pink Floyd sounding stuff without the Pink Floyd light show. Lars Von Till had a much more commanding stage presence than Scott Kelly who looked like he had fallen asleep watching football and awoken to play the show. They followed this with “My Heart In Deliverance “ from the “Honor Found in Decay” album. This 11 minute song found the drums picking up from the droning lethargy and gaining more traction. They keep the mood droney for most of the songs from “Honor Found in Decay” though some what more stripped down than the album version. Stepping on the distortion as needed with the chanted “in a show world part “ really kicking the most ass . 

 I had forgotten  how good of a guitar player Steven Von Till is. I think Scott Kelly’s solos projects tend to get more of a spotlight so Till doesn’t get as much acknowledgement as he should. The title track from “Given to the Rising”  was the first song where it felt like a metal show. The more post-rock like “ To the Wind” worked well live as it had atmosphere tempered with heavier punch. In last two minutes proving them the grandfathers of sludge. Things stayed heavy when they went back to “Times Of Grace” for “End of the Harvest”.  Pulling from this time period of their material the last song from “A Sun That Never Sets “ seems like a good choice. If you like Neurosis then this is a tour of deeper cuts, if you like their new stuff it will be even better for you. Either way they are total prose and it is good to seem them without or without the balls and whistles even though I was hoping for something of “Souls at Zero”

Bon Iver : " i,i"

Odd and beautiful are two words that must be used to describe a new Bon Iver album and this one is no exception. The songs might be grabbing me more on this one. As with most of this band's work the fourth album has some songs that grow on you while still beckoning for you to return to them. Experimental and surreal , some still refer to this band as folk, but Justin Vernon sings to soulfully for that to stick in my book. The first actual song "iMi" has him going through weird tape loops before it focuses in on his singing . This album feel more electronic than organic. "We" is a good example though it does have actual instruments on it. His multi-tracked vocals are fantastic. The backing of "Holyfields" is almost intangible, the vocals hold it all together .  "Hey Ma" is the first single from this album. It follows a more conventional formula. There are almost hip hop elements to the lyrics though not delivery.

"U ( man like) " is more organic working of a piano line. It is brighter mood wise which feels a little weird. It's his voice that still makes it worthwhile. Other voices do join his, but it 's clearly Justin's show. "Naeem" has a repetitive refrain of "i can hear crying" that repeats through out the song. It is a dynamic song, the vocals are either back in the mix or really forward no middle ground. It is the first song on the album I had any questions about. "Jelmore" has it's share of production weirdness , but the lyrics are really strong and balance it out. "Faith" is the first folky song, though the focus for the first is his falsetto vocals until midway into the song.  Then by "Marion" we are delving into a more soulful flavor of folk, but acoustic guitar takes center stage.  "Salem' finds things getting back into the more melodic experimental side of this band I prefer. There is a soaring Prince like chorus, but it all works

There is an interesting ambiance to the lush atmosphere of the wandering "Sh'Diah" .  The album closes with "Rabi" which is a return to a more mainstream song format lets floating colors swirling around it.  I will round this up to a 9.5 as I was a little hard on some of the choices and I am sure I will grow into them. If you are a fan you will love this, if you smoke a ton of weed and takes prescription medication you will also love this. 

Portrayal of Guilt : " Suffering is a Gift"

Going into this with 5 hours of sleep from a manic episode, I thought , perhaps I am not n the right frame of mind for this one. It turns out i was in the right frame of mind for it.  even when it comes to grind core or power vio-lence I need to know you are writing a song, not just making noise, so i can not count the first track of this album. They do a much better job of song writing on " Scarcity" and write a dark little hard core ditty that I find pleasing to my ears.  When you are used to listening to doom and black metal these kind of album can be hard to review , because you think it's all one song rather than a song that is a minute long, so I look up and the album is almost over. "Dissolution" is pretty dissonant. I am not sure I am buying the supposed screamo thing . They are just more melodic than grindcore.

 They do come up with some pretty cool dark shit,"Moral Decay" is another example of this. I just wish they could commit to more than 90 seconds at a time as it is sonic blue balls. If  " A Futile  Light" and the previous song were one song then you would have had one great song. What you get instead are two incomplete pieces that have cool sounds. The last song is a whopping 2 minutes so lets see how they do when it comes to writing a real song. It's more on the hard core side with abrasive noise mixed in. Which would have worked if it was not  sacrificing a chunk of the song to make this noise. When you are writing 2 minute songs there is no time to waste.

Some of you might be surprised that I like this as much as I do. While it's only 8 minute and this year the battle for me has been lots of bands with good sounds not many bands with good songs, if these guys wrote a song and did not clutter it with noise they could be onto something. That something they are onto is why I am giving this one an 8. It is obviously the darkness they tap into which is what I like. I like darkness. It feeds my personal sense of evil. The world needs more evil.  Comes out August 30th on Closed Casket Activities.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

New Model Army : " From Here"

Right from the first song what I like about this album is the return to a darker sound. There is not the rambling folk sound of dusty western roads that colored the more recent albums from these guys. It builds into a more dramatic and heavier take on the folky brooding.  "Never Arriving" has a cool drive to it and coasts along darkly. The more rowdy strum of  folk punk stirs on "the Weather" . The drum sound is really dialed in on this album. This fact is highlighted on "End of Days" which has a story build to it . The vocals on this song are also really strong. So far this album is one of their strongest lyrically. By the time we get to "Great Disguise" the album begins to take on a more uniform feel. Sonically the same colors are being used. There is a tension in he drums and the strum of acoustic guitar layered over it.

The mood shifts to more introspection on "Conversation" . This was needed as the dynamic shifts breaks them from the formula I just mentioned. It is amazing that after 40 years they could make something this fresh sounding. There are a group of fans who are going to want the more punk side of this band and not going to like this , but they have not iked them for years so who cares. While there is not a punk feel, they do find moments where they sound more like the Cure if they were more surly blokes getting into bar fights, which is close to punk. Just being dark and tense doesn't always work, tough uit is not a total miss on "Hard Way" it just doesn't grab me as strongly as the previous songs. "Watch and Learn" is more upbeat and has a great bass tone. It however works of a very similar strum to what we have already heard here.  The strings on "Maps" helps break things up and takes it in a darker direction.

"Setting Sun" has layered levels of atmosphere as well, but as a song is not as interesting as the previous one. It ends with the last song which works off a 8 minute pulse. I will give this album a 9 and see how it grows on me. I like the fact it is moving out of a folk punk direction and back into a darker place.


Saturday, August 10, 2019

Upon a Burning Body : "Southern Hostility"

If you took all the things that are the most meat and potatoes aspects of Pantera and Lamb of God and put that energy into metal core break downs then you would have this band. My favorite thing about them is their cover of "Turn Down Down For What". Nothing in the first few songs comes close to having that groove , but the singer is not trying to rap either. By the time we get to "All Pride No Pain" it seems like riffs are being recycled . There are a few cool ones that creep in, but the rule around here is cool riffs alone do not a good song make. They are more powerful when they slow down and  get more deliberate in their chug. On "From Darkness" they let you know that they also like Slayer, but grew up listening to Slipknot and found Slayer after the fact. He sings on the chorus which is a step forward.

They are very inconsistent . "the Champ is Coming" is so stupid it sounds like it should be a wrestlers entrance music. The riff leading into "Burn" sounds like it could be from a King Diamond song, but that riff is by and large the songs' coolest moment. It does reoccur in the song. There is also a decent amount of groove to the song, so it is a step in the right direction. "Reinventing Hatred" is pretty much color by numbers metal core, the lyrics just giving it a slight edge. Then there is groove gon wrong that makes them sound more like Avenged Sevenfold on The tinge of Slipknot also flares up in the way the song kind of swings like "Pyschosocial",.By "Anthem of the Doomed" all the chugs have run together and are boring me shitless.

There is a more traditional metal feel to the riff that opens "Soul Searcher". Then they pour the speed on and ruin everything. So much so they sung hook can not redeem this song. The make a decent attempt trying to come back from it and then they speed up and flush it down the toilet. I will round this down to a 7. It does not suck. It is not my thing as I would just rather listen to Pantera or Slayer both of whom do this better. If you are a fan of these guys then this is the glue you have been looking to sniff, you could have made worse choices, so you are better off than listening other Myspace metal.