Monday, September 30, 2019

Gothtober 2019







Another Gothtober is here. A month dedicated to all things dark and spooky. I guess it's pretty much business as usual here is some respects , just with more emphasis on the spooky. It seems goth is becoming trendy again. The thing about that is just because you wear black clothes and lipstick doesn't mean you are goth. If you are dressing  goth, but only listening to trap rap then you are not goth you are just a fucking poseur. But don't worry if you listen to all 30 artists I am going to cover this month you will be well on your way to becoming goth.I will continue to cover other things as well, but look for the other 30 articles I am going to post with the Gothrober  tag line.

I since a profound love for darkness helps the cause if you are hoping to become goth. But I like laughing you say? That is  fine go do it in a graveyard while smoking cloves and it might redeem you. I could try to explain to you what goth music is and should be . But instead of doing that I am going to lay out many examples over the next month and cover all the sub-genres of it from post-punk to death rock to metal. Music is one of the main components, though a love for all things vampire and horror movies certainly factors in. Just dressing up and dancing is lame if that is your sole claim to fame.   


I have over 30 years of goth in my blood. What that means is we are going to look at the past 30 years forward. We have gone further back into the 80s before , but this year the past 30. So new artists , older albums anything creepy that celebrates Halloween, there will be some metal cross over.  But I have always been too metal for the goth kids so get ready for that as you are putting on your pout for Gothtober.

Gothtober -Night Sins : "Portrait In Silver"






When the album opens it is clear they are going in a more new wave direction and less Sisters of Mercy. It does darken some on the second song. The 80s synths are strong. The vocals are breathy not low and gothy. It still gets the point across. It's more 90s dark wave than 80s. This album is produced better and I like the use of samples. While we think of the 80s for goth, a concept that is not unfounded. It is the 90s that goth became self aware. It is hard to deny the more Depeche Mode like groove to "Daisy Chain". It's not even from Depeche Mode's darker period. Think "Strangelove" . The melodies are more refined than what we have heard from them in the past. The vocals are given a lot more love production wise. "Two Headed" dream plays things a little safe and is what you would most expect from them given that the more Sisters of Mercy side is dialed back.

What "Annihilator" makes noticeable is the fact organic instrumentation's being dialed back and replaced by synths and drum machines.  Thinking back to their first album it was punks giving you their take on the Bat Cave, Now it is something closer to what the Faint does. There is more aggression on "Annihilator with a more Nine Inch Nails like punch to the vocals. The title track coast along a more sedate shadow. It's smoothed and almost detached emotionally in the tension. It is more color by number dark wave, just owing more to Depeche Mode than Sisters of Mercy. There is a darker intensity to " Hot Dose" . The beat is slower.  Almost like the Cure's more narcotic earlier moments until the 80s synth drives it. Is it pandering to the synth wave trend...mmm sorta. The song sounds good but doesn't really go anywhere.

An almost Madonna like 80s pulse rides the last song. The vocals improve on the chorus. The rest of the song is a vapid as this period of the 80s was, though a better vapid than the kids of today. It goes some where more than the previous song, but the verse kinda bores me. I will round this down to a 8.5. It never never sucks but the album,  got off to a good start and then began leaning on a sound more than songs.   



Medicine : "Scarred For Life"







On the more poppy  side of shoe gaze, this band formed back in 1990 and I could go into a tangent on the hole history of the genre, but  I do not have time for that so we will fast forward to what is going on with this this album . It is an album of cover which I did not realize going into this  until I got to the Fran Zappa song. I aam not sure this is the first thing I wanted when I downloaded this album,. To say I should not go into this album hoping for a sense of nostalgia when in fact these guys are basking in the nostalgia of an entirely different decade, makes it a mute point.  There is groove and melody not just opaque droning and a wash of effects. They are still surreal.An ample does of influences from the tripping years of the Beatles can be heard on "Sentimental Lady" .  This is a song made famous by Fleetwood Mac. They prove pretty clearly they are not hiding behind effects and can play guitar as good as any rock band on the Judee Sill song " Deadtime Bummer Blues". This song also shows they are perhaps more psychedelic than purely shoe gaze.

This point is further driven home on Neil Young's " Expecting to Fly". The lazy 60s vocal harmonies contribute to this . It is hazy , but not as dark and depressing as I typically prefer , but the feel of the song still works. The strum of the guitar also question how shoe gazy this really is.  I get that these are covers , but the original versions lean more toward folk. We are both feet in committing to psychedelic on Zappa's "Absolutely Free". There is no way at this point it can be denied.This could have come from England in 1966. I think this might be my favorite song on the album as they did a commendable job. Covering Zappa  proves to be more daunting than when they cover Miles Davis. The clang of guitar and ambling bass line accents the more retro tone  with  the Monkee's"Listen to the Band". There is a much rawer  feel than what Davey Jones and company originally came out with.

Similar is done with the pop of the Jaynettes, "Sally Go Round the Roses" which comes across more like "Tomorrow Never Knows". I am not sure covering Miles Davis is in their best interest, but they do go weird with "Black Satin" and come closer to the original than I expected. I will give this album an 8. If you are showing up for the shoe gaze  drop some acid and then you might get what is going on here. I have done enough acid in my lifetime that I will always get it.



Sunday, September 29, 2019

Heaven's Club : Here There and Nowhere"






the Drummer and one of the guitarists from Deafheaven started a weird post -rock / shoe gaze project that plays a jazzy version of indie rock that reeks of the 90s. None of that was negative. The synths are oddly new wavey. The vocals are soft and androgynous in their breathy quality so very 90s . The second song is very dreamy, but not as engaging as how the album opened. It does remind me a little of the Death of Lovers second album. The marginal post-punk qualities are glazed over by a weird detached dream state. This causes the verses to flow with a tension then the choruses drift off.The dreamy thing works sometimes and "Good Grief" is a good example of that , there is a touch of Brit pop to it.

The movement of " Here There and Nowhere" helps give the album the dynamic shift it needs. This is the first place you can hear that the drummer might play for Deafheaven. Not that it's metal, there is just a more driving energy to it. "Godiva" is a little darker. It still floats along in the trippy psyche clouds like a great deal of this album, which is more progressive than it wants to admit to it's self.There is a guitar solo that gets drowned in a wave of effects, but it gets the point across. The vocals are pretty much their only weak spot. They sound bored, like they are too cool and apathetic to worry about singing. They still manage to let a melody slip past all these synths. More XTC or even Residents than the kraut rock they were going for.

On "the Frail" when they actually allow things to come together in a more cohesive song the results are more along the lines of The Dears.But is also one of the album's strongest moments. The drummer continues his efforts to bring things together and hold it down . The rest of the band gets the memo here.  "Mother" almost feels like an extension of the previous song , but it locks into more ofa moving groove.  The songs are all fairly compact. The acoustic strum of  the Pink Floyd liek folk of "Strange Times ' is not the best indication of what they do or what this album does best. It's ok not great. I will gie this album an 8.5. It might just need some getting used to as when it does clicked for me it is obvious they are going above and beyond to make their sound .  There are few odd things about this album which are not limited to the fact this is being released on Profound Lore.,

Fister : "Decade of Depression"



This album of covers opens with a  Fabio Frizzi piece . Horror fans will recognize that name as the guy who scored most of Fulci's movies. They do a great job of recapturing the feel of his work. The bells this song ends with leads right into the bells of Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls". It's an ambitious song for a sludge band to tackle , but they tackle it pretty hard. Though they could have learned this one back in high school and play it at every sound check. The guitar tone is way heavier than anything Metallica ever had night mares about. James probably heard this and started drinking again. When they lock into the chug leading into the verse its so nasty it's god damn sick. The vocals carry more of a rasp than attempt to sing. It's blown out and dense taking all the thrash out of it , but staying true to the song at the same time. Just when  I think I can not say enough about this one they blow my mind with;a cover of  "Mandatory Suicide" . These are two metal classics that they stomp over in such a way it is hard for me to not say they are better than the originals. I think the fact that I am old enough to remember when the original versions came out and the impact they had one me are the only factors that force me to bite my tongue.

They do a pretty spot on version of Darkthrone's "Too Old Too Cold" . They vocals are really spot on. This is one of my favorite Darkthrone songs. I prefer this era to when all the vampires got hungry. Eva Rose from Chrch lends her voice to their cover of Danzig's "How the Gods Kill".  She was mid way into the first verse until I figured out "Ok , this is a chick doing this ". Danizg immediately feels emasculated upon reading this. To his credit that was a great album and they stuck pretty close to what was already perfect. Their only touch comes when the songs builds up at the midway point. She goes into a tormented vocal and is joined by their vocalist who adds and even meaner growl to the proceedings. I like what she does to the refrain and sings it in more of her alto range. I am less emotionally invested in Hellhammer or Pungent Stench. "Reaper" sounds fine to me , but what do I know I prefer Celtic Frost to Hellhammer. I know I am not getting into hell for that and losing all my cvlt points.

"Only Hunger Remains" sounds more like them than Pungent Stench. Once again a band that I am not as emotionally connected to so open to them having their way with the song. Sonically it is a little more on the death doom side and less sludge driven.  The album closes with a recorded version of their song "the Failure". It has a more doomy pulse with  tormented vocals.  I have read some reviewers say they feel scores of albums are arbitrary. I disagree as how I do them hear if divide the number of songs that are effective and resonate strongly with a listener drawn to the particular genre . A 10 would mean this is then a flawless voctory for the band , which is what this album gets.Spoiler Alert Expect to see it cropping up again on my Top 10 Sludge albums of 2019 list , 
 

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Steel Panther : " Heavy Metal Rules" .





Not the first time I have reviewed these guys before, so you might know how i feel about the kind of music they are parodying. The lyrics are clever , but I need good songs as well. They delivered that on their last album. This one is a little more dialed in, but there are moments where they kick ass for cock rock. "Let's Get High Tonight" being one of those. By "Always be a Ho" the lyrics are silly but their song writing manages to compensate. To be called "Heavy Metal Rules"  "I am Not Your Bitch" is the first more metal song. The bulk of their sound like hard rock heavily influenced by Van Halen and lyrically Faster Pussycat. There is a really awesome riff leading into the solo. "Fuck Everybody" is funny lyrically, but the lyrics are cumbersome, which seems to be a trend for this album.

There is a bluesy hint to the title track. There is a little more of a metal touch to the verse riff than they normally use. There is a darker tension to the riff leading into the guitar solo. They are definitely using a formula to write with , but the riffs leading into the solos are seem to be golden. The riff to "Sneaky Little Bitch " reminds me of "Dancing Days". Considering this band it is Led Zeppelin through a filter of Whitesnake. The choruses have been underwhelming , but it is dialed in for this song. Normally this kind of party rock , would be too happy for me. The power balls "Gods Of Pussy" needed some fine tuning lyrically as it is heavy handed and something I would have taken more seriously when I was 15.  Once again the charisma of their songs makes this work even with these silly lyrics. .

I had to listen to the ballad " I Ain't Buying What You Are Selling". . It's alright, a decent song that doesn't really go above and beyond. This album is really well produced. They are once again doing a great job of capturing the feel of 80s hair rock. I will give this album a 9, mainly due to how good they are at what they do even if this is not the band's most inspired effort. Perhaps in time this will not grow on me and it might only be an 8.5, but that is my initial reaction to this one.

Aggressive Perfector : " Havoc At the Midnight Hour"





This is the British trio's second album. Named after a Slayer song it's easy to see where they would draw from early 80s thrash. They are more Venom than not. I can hear traces of Mercyful Fate, but the vocalist can not really sing and instead employs more of a snarl. There is a casual attempt at screams and he tries to sing a little more "Turbo Evil" which benefits from a more classic metal riff. They do a really good job at recapturing the feel of the era. I know I was a kid listening to this kind of metal during this time. The vocals however are their weak spot.  The drummer is no Lombardo or even Mikkey Dee. He gets the job done , but not above and beyond the call of duty.

The chorus to "Land of No Return"  reminded me so much of Metallica's "Phantom Lord" that I had to stop and go listen to the Metallica song to see if I was just imagining this. It also allowed me to hear how the production on this album is a lot like that of  "Kill'em All".   There is a more Slayer like groove to the riff of "Into the Nightmare".  This is more effective than when they pour on a more punk tinged thrash speed for " Vengeful One". There is a touch of Motorhead to it. I like Motorhead , but this doesn't feel like it has the same amount of heart put into the song writing process and feels more like filler. They lock into more of a thrashing speed for the last three songs. Sometimes this is more effective than others' "Devil's Basatrd" is smoother than the previous song but still feels a little rushed and a few bpm's slower might have provided more nuance.

"Seven Gates" is more of a gallop and while it is not that hooky of a song , at least not enough for me to look up from my writing and take notice , after repeat listens I can hear how it's construction is more sound than the two songs before it. However it is almost a tribute to Venom. Venom doesn't sound like Venom today so if you are looking for a replacement then this might work. Still I will give this album, a 7.5. If you are a Venom fan it is recomended, If you heard Venom the first time they came out and were already head banging in the 8-0s then this might be less impressive. The album is being released on November 22nd on Dying Victim Productions.


Thursday, September 26, 2019

Opeth : " In Cauda Venenum"







Having ventured too far from what made this band great , they need to show me that they have become over indulgent in the prog path and capable of once again creating dark music that is heavy. The intro "the Garden of Earthly " delight instead uses 80s synth sounds and is more like kraut rock, thus lowering my expectations for these guys once again. They do not have to be death metal. They do beef up the guitar sound a little more than what they bring to the table on the Uriah Heap like "Dignity".  They do bring  little more balls to the table on the verse, then float off into Porcupine Tree land on the chorus. There is almost a metallic edge to the chug on "Heart In Hand". The song ends up in a weird languid jazz tone. Technically Mikel is a better singer as he is not going up into a falsetto that adds another vocal color to his arsenal. "Next of Kin" is a little darker , but tends to wander.

Midway into the album the fact it is more melancholy if not darker puts it ahead of the last masturbatory prog fest they released. When they go into a more ballad like place with "Lovelorn Crime" I am ok with them compensating for this with better songwriting . The heavier thump of the bass groove helps "Charlatan".  This song is a good example of how they can have their cake and eat it to, by not reverting to death metal and still using prog to deliver something that works in its place. "Universal Truth " finds there less focused indulgence returning in a way that is not as engaging. There is more of a jazz influence to "the Garroter". This is not unlike some of the more recent progressive moments we have heard from them, but works in a darker and smoother, which seems to be the trend not only for this song but this album as a whole.

"Continuum" is not as engaging until the solo section that comes midway into the song. There are cool parts to it , but the first half of the song was allowed to meander. It's not heavy, but there is a good throbbing  pulse of a groove to it. Certainly a more focused song, though still allowing for them to indulge their prog side. I will give this album an 8.5. Not where they are capable of being if we weigh it against things like "Blackwater Park" but an improvement over the last album for sure. I think fans of the band that were introduced to them after they shed their death metal skin will embrace this one.


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Blut Aus Nord : " Hallucinogen"




A French band with a German name who sounds like they are from Norway. They are so forward thinking at one point they were not even black metal. They are more blackened this time around thanks to the darker atmosphere they creates a flowing drone and the steady under current of double bass propelling the opening song forward. This is not to say they are not on the more avant garde side of the genre. There is sprinklings of rock against the choral arrangements and vast almost symphonic sound. They have combined many of their past sounds and blended them into something that is true to their legacy, They are more metallic on the second song. Harsher vocals come in , but are off in the distant . The more sung vocals come forward in the mix but not by much. It has been some time since I have heard them this aggressive.

The return to blackness continues with "Sybelius". The album has a odd mix , but seems intentional. The drumming is fucking crazy. Double bass that is a relentless hammering when it hits. Yet even the choral vocals are buried behind the guitars. This purposeful. I can respect this even though my ear wants to search for them. "Anthosmos" benefits the most for some of the more adventurous choices the guitarist makes. Still in a more metallic mind frame there are some parts that are more sonically heavy than heavy metal and that is where I feel their sound truly shines in the inner darkness.  The albums gets progressive more blasting. This works for me as they are doing it in a way that works dynamically with the scope of the song. It is not like they have not already shown me they can't do more than blast beats like the tremendous overflow of black metal bands I get in my in-box. 

There is a more surreal feel to " Haallucinahila" . It is like a more metallic groove heavy instrumental, until the faint chant of the vocals manage to come through. The song is more about it's pulse than verse chorus hooks. "Cosmic Procyirirs" closes the album. It is flowing in dissonance but moves more smoothly with double bass bubbling under it. The vocals are once a a chanted chorus buried in the distance. I will give this album a 9 . It is pretty unique not just for black metal, but for these guys in general , though different is what they do best .

Monday, September 23, 2019

Ereb Altor : " Jartecken" :





The Swedish band's 8th album find them continuing to lean in a more blackened version of viking metal. Melody is a strong component to their song structure. The way the sung vocals are used reminds me a little of Dimmu Borgir. Meaning the emphasis is on epic. "Queen of the Seas" gets swept away in the raging waters of it's epic nature. It is well done but as a song it doesn't hook me in like the first.  We begin to see the bipolar nature of this album, with the more straight up black metal of " Alliance in Blood" . They are into reinventing the wheel when it comes to black metal , but it is very well done and not just blast beats. To their credit the songs are very compactly written and focused . "Chained" starts off almost like old school metal, some where between thrash and power metal, more thrashing when the snarling vocals come in. It is one of the hookiest songs thus far.

"My Demon Inside" is in a more black metal direction, but not as much as the more ripping "Prepare For War" . This one almost sounds like 1349, though more thrash and less blast. There is a wide range of various metal styling these guys dip into. Pagan black metal is the best sub-genre to describe them. They go from black metal into more epic folk tinged songs that are not a dramatic as say Tyr and tend to trade off between the sung vocals and the growled vocals. The first time I really pay attention to the bass is on "With Fire in My Heart". The folk tinged melody works well for this more mid paced song.

The album closes with "And Blood on My Hand" . This feels more like an outro than a song in and of itself. I will round this down to a 8.5. For black metal it is a little middle of the road though I do appreciate the sense of melody and song writing. I guess it could just be a little darker. These guys are great musicians and if you are a fan then this album will live up to what you want from these guys , since they are already hard to pin down in that department so it gives them plenty of room to try different things.

7.1

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Cult of Luna : " a Dawn to Fear"





The Swedish sludge lords are back. The opener has a powerful chug that firmly reestablishes their return. The are lots of layers and dark melodies buried with in them. The vocals are the throaty growl, most sludge bands adhere to. The more atmospheric "Lay Your Head to Rest" finds the snarled vocals as the only aggressive elements of the song where everything else is in more of a tense post rock direction. The go in darker and more dynamic directions with the title track. This kind of falls in line with the more brooding moments of bands like Neurosis or even Converge. "Nightwalkers" goes even further into the darkness, with a more powerful drive. The harsher vocals are the dominant force in this narrative, with the guitars building into a more metallic attack,  The guitars have their work cut out for them as , the vocals are rather static so they have to carry the songs.

In the middle of the album is the 15 minute "Lights on the Hill" . It gets off to a timid atmospheric start. Despite the great guitar tones they captured here the first three and a half minutes of this song could have been edited down. When the actual song kicks in the results are pretty powerful.  They fully cross over into the post-rock lane for this one. The angry vocals come in. There guitar still lays back and stays on the more atmospheric side , but with a solo like feel. There is a "No Quarter" vibe to "We Feel the End". "Inland Rain" is even more Neurosis like in the tribal drums and how the guitar hangs back to drone. The vocals are more tortured than what neurosis normally does.  The more chugged riff in the middle of the song is pretty powerful and uses syncopation well. 

The album closes with  another long one that has a more metallic groove before wandering off into atmosphere. Not wildly different than the other songs on the album. Not that I am complaining as this one is really solid. My only complaint with the album is the vocals . They get a little tedious, I do begin to get use to them. Over time they are tolerable. The first song they work really well then it's the same thing over and over . I will round this one down to a 9 for this reason. 9 is still better than what most bands can muster.



Saturday, September 21, 2019

Borknagar : " True North"




I will always take what I can get from ICS Vortex. On their 11th album, there are not a great deal of surprises . It continues to find the band refining and maturing their sound. Some songs are more prog than others. In the case of "Up North" it's rock n roll. There is not a ton of black metal on here, but that is fine with me, as I prefer hearing ICS Vortex sing. With a new drummer and 2nd guitarist, they sound once again invigorated. This does not mean this is gong to be the heaviest album. Snarled vocals do appear on "the Fire That Burns", by the chorus Vortex's soaring vocals are back in the spotlight, as they should be. The harsher vocals here remind me of Emperor. It frolics off into more of a folk metal like feel.

 The arrangements are not too extravagance so have more in common with folk metal than prog. The harsher vocals are really the only thing give an edge to "Lights'. The vocal melodies are more refined. What they do here is still not as care free as a great deal of folk metal that is often too happy for me.
The song "Wild Father's Heart" is more laid back. It doesn't grab you like the first few songs, however the melody of the chorus is catchier to my ears. I like the more brooding tone of "Mount Rapture" . This might be one of the album's stronger songs. In contrast "Into the White"  is not as engaging as the previous song.  "Tidal" gets a little more black metal than previous songs, but less engaging of a listen. It is not until later in the song when the gutiar solos come that things are more interesting.

The opening vocal melody to "Voices" sets this song up to be one of the alum's best. This serves as a fine example of how they should approach stepping away from their black metal past if that is the direction they are going to continue to grow in. I will give this album a 9. It excels and never finds the songs being lack luster ,some grab me more than others , but all of them are very well done. It stands well against their body of work and I think fans that have grown with them up to this point will embrace this album too. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Mix Tape Mania : the Acoustic Version


Despite the fact that I took my meds later in the day than I should have making me extra neurotic, ER I can not do anything in moderation. You ask me what are some good acoustic acts, and rather than make a list like normal people do, I have to make a playlist. Thus another mix tape is born. Since there are no such things as tapes anymore this cyber version will have to do. This is a blend of old and new . By old I mean from the 90s at earliest. By new it just came out this year. In some cases this week. Acoustic music is not different from anything else I listen to as in it will still at least have a dark undertone to it , if not be out right depressing. These are a few favorites of mine tossed in with the current crop of singer songwriters. Hope you enjoy. 

Brendan Perry - "Death Will Be My Bride"


 

Amigo the Devil - "Cocaine & Abel"

 

 King Dude - "Deal With the Devil"

 

 Chelsea Wolfe - "American Darkness"


 

 Conny Ochs- "King of the Dead"

 

 PJ Harvey - "Send his Love to Me"


 

 The Decemberists - "the Bachelor and the Bride"

 

 Marissa Nadler - "Estranged"


 

 Ani Difranco -"Swan Dive"


 

Lyle Lovett-"Simple Song"

 

Exhorder : " Mourn the Southern Skies"





If you are a fan of Pantera, then you need to know these guys. Having formed in 1985, this New Orleans band played a big part in why Pantera went from power metal and hair spray to the Cowboys from Hell that they became. They start off the album with gritty thrash that gives you the middle finger. They kill trend of Southern grooves with "Asunder" and write Slayer caliber riffs. The vocals are mean yet hold melody like another singer we know. They are relentless and continue to hit you with sharp riffs and barbed melodies. As with most thrash if the speed is not properly some times it makes the vocals feel like a punk tinged after thought.  The more mid -paced grooves of songs like "Yesterdays Bones" prove more effective.

It is there use of melody and nail tough hooks that gives them the edge over other bands on songs like "All She Wrote". There are bits of atmosphere at the periphery of their song adds shadow. In terms of darkness I would say these guys are a shade more despondent than say Testament. When they are not purely driven by the need for speed they continue to compel you to head bang , even if it is just a little. Not the original lineup, they have enlisted former members of bands like Grip Inc, Super Joint Ritual and Forbidden to fill in . So it has to be quality,. The drummer who played in Forbidden is a bad ass for sure. The slower darker pulse to "the Arms of Man" works better than the speed fest that is "Ripping Flesh" . "Ripping Flesh" is what I do not want from them.

The close the album with the title track, which proves that the dude can clearly sing. It's almost doomed paced in it's swamp blues swagger, This is a great album. Sure there are a few moments that too consumed with speed, though I would have liked those as a teenager. I will give this album a 9 . It displays their power in a way that is pretty vulgar but tasteful.


Arctos : "Beyond the Grasp of Mortal Hands"





In February we had an entire month of black metal. It seems death metal has been more of a dominant for than either black metal or doom, two genres that I normally like more than death metal. It is time for me to get caught up on black metal. The synth heavy Canadian band gets off blasting in a more conventional form of black metal. The vocals has a snarl but you can make out the words. More growls than screams. I am not sure I would call this atmospheric black metal despite the fact Summoning is obviously a hug influence. There is more meta and potatoes metal, They almost lean in the direction of being a blackened death metal band, but the dark sense of melody tips the balance like the use of the more sung vocals.

The album sounds great and I like the darker vibe of "Shattered Tomb" . Song wise it did not really grab my attention until four minutes in. They have a great deal of  interesting ideas . The guitar solos are well handled. The main challenge is going to be over coming my rule here which  is ...cool riffs alone does not a good song make. The vocals to have a form and function so are not an after thought as they can be with many extreme metal bands. In fact by the 3rd song the sung vocals are playing a larger role in the chorus. The over all melodic qualities are stepped up. This almost creates more of a pagan metal feel. It is not until the more Type O negative like vocals that I begin paying attention to "Autumns Herald " . It carries more than it's fair share of blast beats.

The piano line at the beginning of " a Realm Beyond' is one of the album's darkest moments. The guitar part that follows is more conventional metal, but retain the mood by a few degrees. The more in your face black metal moments remind me of Abbath's solo work. There is more Swedish feel though than Norweigan, as an early Dissection influence is also in the mix. It is clear they are good at what they do. What they do is more original at some moments than others. They do care about the songs and creating music with melody and dynamics so that puts them at the head of the pack. At least with the more recent black metal I have heard. Perhaps not the years best , but if you are a fan of the bands mentioned as their influenced they are the sum of their parts so you will dig these guys. I will give it an 8.5, being released September 20th on Northern Silence Productions.


Monday, September 16, 2019

Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky : "Droneflower






I was aware this album  was coming out and it kind of flew under my radar. I suppose I did not hunt it down as eagerly as I might have if I had gone into this knowing it was a solo album. I can be skeptical  o these collaborative efforts.  This one finds her collaborating with  Brodsky from Cave-in. He also plays in Old Man Gloom, Mutoid Man and is an ex-member of Converge. His presence is really more on the plodding tension of the guitar in the second song. He back ground vocals are minimal . This gives her more of a Chelsea Wolfe feel. There is a less of a country vibe, even on songs like "Watch the Time " where it feels like the guitar is going for that more. This is interesting because it feels like they are so ware of working with each other that he wants to be more country and she wants to be more rock.

Like the intro the second take on "Space Ghost" seems to be an atmospheric interlude as well, than song focused. This one has more going on and cooler sounds comprising it. "Dead West"  is ghostly and atmospheric , but not unlike the second song in other aspects. Their cover of "Estranged " by Guns n Roses is pretty brilliant.  The Use Your Illusion albums need more props, there is some good shit on there.  I think one big difference is how the acoustic guitars are produced on this album. They are warmed sounded and contrast her voice rather than blend with it's sound so on "Shades Apart " carries sonic echoes of "Watch the Time".  Her vocal placement works better here. "Buried Love" is short it takes time getting to the song then only has a minute and a half to work with from there.

The album ends with a cover of Morphine's "In Spite of Me" . I think this speaks to Axl's songwriting as on "Estranged you can still hear the original songwriting, where this one gets absorbed by the person covering it. The country vibe of feels more like what I want from her.  Brodsky's contributions to this song are not as prominent. This makes it clear to me that I would have preferred just another proper Nadler album.  I will give this one an 8.5. Her normal albums are in the 9.5 to 10 range so that might give you an idea how this measures up again her normal level of work. At least Brodsky had the good sense to not try singing duets with her.  .

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Mike Patton : " Corpse Flower"





I love Mike Patton when he is locked into an actual song, the large majority of the time. Faith No More , Peeping Tom, Mr. Bungle and Tomahawk are all good by me. Is his voice really being used to the fullest potential or he he just want to make a cinematic  Nick Cave like album? I know Burt Bacharach is an influence and that can be heard here. Aside from some harmony overdubs the  vocals are either spoken  in a low raspy croon. Perhaps sung even less than what Tom Waits does so by the 3rd song the humor is beginning to lose me. He is collaborating here with composure Jean Claude Vannier, who primarily makes film scores. "Cold Sun Warm Beer" is more Mr. Bungle. Higher vocals are in the background. The music is darker and more angular

"Browning" has more of am electric pulse to it.  It moves much more smoothly even taking into consideration the weirdness at the periphery. "Hungry Ghost" sounds like it could be from a 60s Euro trash opera. He does use a great deal of restraint and does not belt these out. The irony is it almost sounds like someone who is just doing what he can to make it through the songs  in a very intentional style , when we know he can knock it out of the park whenever he feels like.  For the title track he goes back into the more spoken thing. The music behind him is interesting. He goes into a more dynamic croon on "Insolubles". It at least sounds like he is trying to sing. There is a theatrical jazz feel to this one. "Top of the World " is more of what you expect from him. He sings more , and declares that he is going to piss and shit down onto the earth.

There are touches of 70s country and American mixed with polka on "Yard Bull" .   "A School Girls Day". Patton narrates this little girls day. The music is more interesting than what he doing. The last song sounds like it belongs in Twin Peaks. At least he croons a little on it.  If you are a fan of Mike Patton then you are going to be up for anything. I am not sure I will be in the mood to listen to this a great deal after summer is over. I will give it a 9 as it is good for what it is, the question is how much of a use to I have for what it is? 


Void King : "Barren Dominion"



For obvious reasons November is going to be the doom month here. I though about holding this album out until then, but decided any doom I find in October I will hold back for November since October is our goth month. Here is a band that stands because they set Alice In Chains like vocal harmonies against a rumbling doom back drop to stand out from the pack. Sometimes they do fall back into a more Solitude Aeturnus sound , but that is fine . I prefer that to the moments they begin to speed up and ruin the vibe. The first song alone has an impressive dynamic range. They fit it all in under eight minutes proving even with doom you can squeeze everything in under ten minutes rather than the 15 minutes sprawling pieces doom can be guilty of.

When I look up to see what song I am on I find it's the 3rd , which means the second blended in with the others. Meaning the tend to have a uniform sound. While the vocals are strong they tend to stick to the same time of bellow being belted out.  It does get heavier toward the end of "Burnt At Both Ends", before the it drops down to drum, bass and vocals. The pace picks up in the direction power metal on "Of Whip and Steed" .  "Temple of Bone" is less engaging as a song. The vocals kind of aimlessly howl into oblivion. They begin to turn into a band that has a sound , rather than a band that has songs. "Learning From the Ashes" is better , but I get the sense the vocals are just there to have a voice rather than forming melodies that hook you in and keep you returning to a song. This is where growling is just as effective as singing.

He is capable of delivering a more song oriented vocal melody as he does so on "Crippled Chameleon" . When he adds a bluesier touch to his voice it helps.  The last song is heavy and growled vocals double up the sung ones, but once again nothing hooks me in and heavy only goes so far. I will round this down to an 8. It is enough to scratch the doom itch in a way that is not like every other Sabbath worshiping band you have heard, In fact there is little Sabbath in their DNA. That might be a plus or a minus depending on wha side of the grave you fall on that one. 

Sleeping With Sirens : "How It Feels to be Lost"




This might not be my thing, but it is well done. Their singer has mastered singing like a teenage boy waiting for his nuts to drop. Despite this they have some catchy melodies. With his  voice it's hard to not think of them as pop. In fact the only experience I have with these guys are those "POP Goes Punk" albums. They are more pop than punk. The singer of Good Charlotte is  on the second. That should tell you something. They are probably better than Goof Charlotte even with the adolescent vocals. However if you have ever made fun or Taylor Swift or Miley Cyrus and think these guys are any where close to being metal, you are fooling yourself. They are closer to Miley than Slayer by a long-shot. The catch here is like pop music.

I think this guys voice is eventually rub me the wrong way after another song. This is well produced, except for the fact, that despite having the Myspace emo cock rock guitar sound dialed in. They are crisp but not heavy. They need more low end. Like all good pop music these songs are in the three minute range. They might pull out a stompy riff here and there, but their purse still falls out of their mouth. Despite how cheesy it is the chorus to "Agree to Disagree" still works for me. If you think Poison is metal, I can see where you might get confused and think the same thing about these guys. You will also win first place as the best demo bottom for the fisting contest next year at Frolicon. They get moodier on "Ghost". This is a good one for cutters. By the time we get to "Bloodlines" what they do begins to get stale.

They try to make some wanna be hardcore. You can not fake the funk. It was good while it last , not the album begins to run out of gas. Electronic elements guide their way back to the more sugary pop sound. I think this side of them is better than when they are trying to be harder, as it sounds more genuine. "Another Nightmare" is a good example of how this works in their favor. The tone of "P.S I Miss You" is a little different shade of emo, yet it does not dramatically stand out as the song plays it pretty safe.  The dichotomy of their urge to convince you they are heavy and their teen pop works better on "Medicine". When they texture things with almost dub step sounds , it actually works pretty well.

Had to still to the last song twice before I paid any attention to it. Sure it has an acoustic strum, but really sounds like every thing else and kind of falls flat on me. I will give this one an 8.5 despite trying to hard to be heavier than they are not what they do is well done and if you are a fan of this band they have given you what you more than likely want from them. If you listen to more pop than emo then you will dig these guys. 


Cold ":the Things We Can't Stop"








"Year of the Spider" is where I left off with these guys . It has been a minute. They are not as dark as they used to be. The opener still has traces of his voice but over all it feels like stripped down 30 Seconds to Mars with Scooter singing.  The a little more interesting on "Snowblind". They came before Breaking Benjamin, but it sounds like a watered down of that band. I have not looked at any p/r notes on this one, but it is safe to say Ross Robinson has nothing to do with. The guitar tone is pretty wimpy. What has worked wuth his voice which was more limited early on what the fact he sounded more like a gritter angrier version of Gavin Rossdale. What he now does makes the songs sound the same. If you have ever tried finds torrents of this band's older stuff online its hard. Or else I would stick to the first three albums.

He is much better when he sticks to his baritone. This helps the otherwise Cure like "Run" . The chorus is hopeful where I want them to be depressed. .The hopeful chorus on "Better Human" is once again problematic. What I want from the band shows up on "Without You "  The power ballad "Quiet Now' once again injects a soaring sense of hope that does not resonate with me. I need hopeless when it comes to even my radio rock . This is boring. More acoustic strumming does not sit well going into "the One That Got Away". I know they have been out of the game for a minute, but t should have gotten the memo that what made Staind famous is a formula long gone. This song is melancholy to work for me. But they need to make note of that previous point.  I think compromise between where they are and what I want from them is best shown on "Systems Fail"

The ballads that drag this album down are tedious. When the elements of them that are well done are hard to hear because this seems like a tired formula that should have been left to die in the 90s. The world already has "Home Sweet Home " and "Dream On" we do not need any more of those. If you are into those kinds of things "Beautiful Lie" shows the band bringing a new range of atmosphere, I just wish it had been put to better use. It doesn't suck it is just unnecessary. If you do not under stand the difference between those two concept and how they correlate then I can not help you , go back to sniffing glue. The album ends with another one of these this time moving in more of a Snow Patrol direction. This is actually done even better than the previous one.  I will give this one an 8. It is good to have them back. Their songwriting keeps some of the lighter moods and sounds. I wish they would get angry again, but they are older .

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Chelsea Wolfe: "The Birth of Violence"


I did not check out any of the singles leading up to this album so going into it totally fresh. Of course I am pleased that the opening track reminds me more of "Mistake In Parting" . Mainly due to the fact she is singing out and not in the more breathy spectral tone she can employ. It is not as rock n roll or grungy as "Mistake in Parting" The album  is stripped down but at times still atmosphere. It is not a rehash of "Unknown Rooms" despite being acoustic at it's core. "American Violence" dials up the atmosphere by another degree. She also begins to use her softer higher register. There is a more PJ Harvey like mood to the title track. Her lyrics are more introspective. She sings in a lower register here with ambiance lurking in the background.

There is a darker brooding to "Deranged For Rock n Roll" . Her voice has a dreamy shimmer to it on this one. It is funny because my iTunes keeps shuffling over to either "Unknown Rooms" or  "Mistake In Parting" in-between songs. This is allowing me to see how much it does not have in common with those songs. "Be All Things" sounds like it could have been one of the mellower moments on "Abyss" . There is a slight hint of country here, putting in the same zip code as Marissa Nadler sonically. Ambiance begins to play a larger role in "Erde" . This one is more dream folky. More intangible when it comes to traditional song writing. A darker more serpentine elements slithers out over the songs' climax. "When Anger Turns to Honey" is minimal, but with interesting vocal layering and production. \ "Dirt Universe" but is has a more solid arrangement that builds in instrumentation as it progresses. There is a more familiar melancholy to the mood of this song.

"Little Grave" is such a fragile folk song it took multiple listens. Somewhat similar to things we have heard from her before.  With it's cooed refrain of "Hell is on earth" , "Preface to a Dream Play" catches my ear due to much like a great deal of this album the subtle oddities involved. The production choices and how things sit in the mix is to the left of what we have heard from her in the past. Not dramatically, but on "Highway" which is pretty straight forward, it's things like the vocal layering that stand out. I'll give this a 10, she once again made an album that show similar shade of what she does but from a new angle.


Gatecreeper : "Deserted"






It's been a great year for death metal . The trend continues with this band's latest effort. The title track opens the album. It is dark, maybe not as dark as say Incantation but very convincing. The riffs have some thought in them and enough hook to keep me interested. The production is much more polished and they sound better than what I have heard from them previously. I am hearing a lot more Obituary influence this time around, which is fine since those guys are one of my favorite death metal bands. I think I like "Puncture Wounds" more than opener. Their press kit mentioned Swedish influence and I did not hear it until "From the Ashes". It's mainly in the kind of galloping verse. If I switch back to listening to this album after listening to the new Coffins. It seems to have more mid-range and is not as heavy. This is the more user friendly to the mainstream metal crowd.

The more staccato chug of  "Ruthless" is well done, though as a song it feels like it works of one thing. But it does work well at that. "Everlasting" is back in the more Obituary like place with faster burst interspersed. There is one groove laden riff that could have come from Dissections 'Reinkaos" album  These songs all clock in under six minutes. There are now sprawling drones of pretense. "Barbaric Pleasures" has a cool groove to it , but plays it pretty safe in the context of what they do. It's not very barbaric though it still grows on me with repeat listens . Themes of heat are prevalent in their music because they hail from the deserts of the west.  While they are very good at what they do by the time we get to "Sweltering Madness " the songs are beginning to all sound the same. There are some powerful riffs, but the rule here is cool riffs alone does not a good song make.



More heat with "Boiled Over". This album should have been out the two weeks my air conditioner was broken as I could have vibed with their pain then. This works better than the previous , but once again there are some cool riffs that get touched upon, but for that to work the entire song has to run off them. "In Chain" they pick up the pace at the beginning of the song and then go into some groove goodness. Overall the song is not as consistent as some of the others.  The last song was given multiple listens and did not really compel me to yearn for more. This album is well done I will give it a 8.5 and see how it sits with me. If you are already a fan of this band and do not see being more polished as selling out then you will dig this.



Monolord : " No Comfort:"






This Swedish band continues to find their sound maturing. So much so , the second song is more of a 70s rock thing than the kind of fuzzed out Sabbath worship  of the first song which picks up much closer to where they left off. On "Last Leaf" the guitars carry more of a strum at times and the song has a more jammy feel to it. The harmony guitar parts on "Larvae" are more Thin Lizzy than Black Sabbath. Once it gets into the verse they get a little heavier. The vocals stay in the range of what these guys typically do. Still smoothly sung and sitting back perhaps a little more into the guitars this time around. The first really heavy riff of this album is on this song as well. They plod along much like Sleep at certain time. So there sludge doom background is not forsaken altogether.

It is not until the guitar solo in "Skyward" that the songs carried it's weight. The overall sphere of sound changes greatly going into "Alone Together".  After an acoustic intro the guitar sound progresses into one with  more of a western reverb on it. The arrangement lends it self to allowing him more room to open up and sing. I suppose he does to some extent, but the way the vocals stick it feels like he is still playing it pretty safe and keeping to his comfort zone. It is some what Pink Floyd in Where the tension sits. I think this song still represents a great deal of growth for the band and I like that this song is darker. It is more psychedelic than doom.

The last song is also the first that feels like doom to me. The rest of the album eels more born of the bong than any kind of despair or mourning. This song is almost more emotive, where they other rock n roll you more. Closer to the same zip code as Pallbearer with fragile breakdown s that go more introspective. I will give this album a 9. It is more in a rock direction when I want doom, but hard to deny these guys are progressing and taking steps forward. Come out Sept 20th on Relapse Records



Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Coffins : "Beyond the Circular Demise"





I was prepared for the filthy grit of this to be a bunch of brutal churning with out anything to hook me in . That is not the case. I should not be surprised as this is their 5th album in 20 years. One every four means they take their time in the studio. The opener is more straight up death metal with punk touches . "The Tranquil End"i s slower paced with a doomy feel for the first half but they speed things back up into death metal. I know there has always been a fleeting flirtation with doom , so these guys are not jumping on the death doom bandwagon, in fact this album is more death metal than I remember their rumble being before. Though I have not really paid a ton of attention to them.They return to this dragging doom sound on " Forgotten Cemetery" it does not stay there for long. They soon speed up into their blown out style of  death metal. The vocals stay at their low grunt.  There are some cool angular touches with guitar lines.

What I like about their sound is it is organic, yet dark and dense. When they lock into a mid paced chug , it is probably their best quality. They do not do it every song , or even every other song, but when you hear it there is no denying this fact. It is heavy as fuck. Not to the point they have thrown the song out the window either. At least on this album they ow a lot to Incantation, though there sound is more condensed than the more spacious dark of Incantation's earlier work. "Hour of Execution" doesn't stray too far from what you know they are good at. Even they are slower this still sounds more like death metal. When the riffs picks up it's a memorable riff. "Insane" has way more groove than I recall these guys having . Some of the more abrasive feed back and fuzz from the guitar sound has been polished back making this a more use friendly effort. 

"Birth Postmortem"  has a heavier grind to it than the previous song , but still carries a great deal of groove. The album closer "Gate ways to Dystopia" has a more rambling sludge like tone dialing in more rock than death metal. Aside from the vocals which have stayed the  same for the entire album. For death metal they can get away with it. The groove shift , but they pretty much find their way back into the kind of death metal this album has found them to now be. I will round this one up to a 9.5 as they have become a lean mean death metal machine./ This comes out September 20th on Relapse Records


Alice Cooper : " Breadcrumbs"




Taking a break from the Hollywood Vampires to release  tribute to Detroit.  This is a great deal different than what I expected from him. This is very stripped down. It sounds like it could have come from the "Muscle of Love " album. The first song is raw and straight up rock. Almost garage rock. His voice sounds fine for what he is doing here as it is more about attitude than pipes. There is more of this more punk feel to " Go Man Go" . This has weird verses that are more like "Zipper Catches Skin". The guitar is more punk than metal. The drumming straight forward. His voice sounds better here on the chorus not that it sounded bad on the first song. Iggy Pop just put out a lounge jazz album, and now Alice is putting put a punk album. I guess that settles that debate.

"Eastside Story" continues down this street smart dirty sound. It is very live sounding with a production that is up in your face. Nothing as elaborate as anything on "Killer" , the closest it comes to that might be "Under My Wheels" . What is most impressive is this sounds like it is unreleased songs from the 70s. He does not sound like he could be your grand pa. There is a funked out groove to Suzi Quatro's " Your Mama Won't Like Me". The guitar playing and bass playing on this song is fantastic . The production comes out of the garage and has a fuller sound. It sounds more like Alice than the punk sneer on the first two songs.  "Devil with the Blue Dress" is a reconfigured cover . That is also a medley with "Chains Of Love". He still sounds great though this is my least favorite of these songs. Though I like the "Chains of Love" part better. 

The MC5 song"Sister Anne" has more of a Stones like swagger. It took a second listen for it to click with me. It's fun , but not my favorite. It's pretty straight forward. I would prefer to hear darker "Dead Babies" Alice, but this is and has been a side of his sound as well so I can dig it for what it is. I will give this a 9.5 . I t is impressive to hear him sound so refreshed, but it is a far cry from "Love It to Death" and the kind of creepy darkness he can make. I will blame golf and the influence on the more rock n roll less metal Hollywood Vampires. ;.

Monday, September 9, 2019

HarborLights : "Isolation Ritual"




This album was a nice surprise. I checked out because they are on Deathwish. Deathwish is a label that has a really good track record for me, so this only reconfirmed this fact and further cemented their status.   I automatically like the vocals . They are very emotive, perhaps even dramatic. It's delicate tenor, in the direction of Thom Yorke. Musically these guys are post rock, and not afraid to step on the distortion pedal and bring some crunch. This is everything I love in music. It's moody and dynamic. They get sludgey when they go for the heavier dynamic with the vocals remaining melodic. They start off heavier on the second song. In fact more of a punk tempo. It does slow into a half time feel. They keep their instrumentals pretty interesting.

 The bass creates the tension for "Skin Walker" . They are excellent musicians but by the second instrumental I think it's a waste not to have that guy singing. From virtue rides the line between emo and show gaze with post rock tones. The vocals are more understated here.There is a heavier shoe gaze to " Year Without Summer" .  The songs are very compactly written they do not take you on any long sprawling drones. This is also a hit with me.  "Ego Ideal" finds the higher floating vocals returning. The drums do some really interesting syncopation.  Its a beautiful piece of music. Things get darker on "And Hell Followed" . Moving in a post -punk direction. This finds them in more of the direction of say Sannhet. They close out the album with a heavier tone.In the last minutes of the song, throaty yelled vocals come in. This brings out their sludge tendencies.

Less metallic than Russian Circles. They remind me more of  Explosions in the Sky, during their instrumental sections. In the last minutes of the song, throaty yelled vocals come in. This brings out their sludge tendencies.   I will give this one a 9.5 and see how it sits with me. I only rounded it down a little because I was unsure if the instrumentals would get as much airplay on my end. If you like your post rock on the side of progressive check this album out. If you like your progressive rock forward thinking and very atmospheric then check this album out. There are more reason to check this album out than not . It comes out  Friday the 13th 


Exhumed : "Horror"




These guys have been around 21 years making this brand of straight forward hyper aggressive death metal, not unlike Cannibal Corpse. These songs are almost like grind core in the sense they are short blasts under 3 minutes. The problem so far is I just left this one playing and so far the first three songs all sound the same. Hyper fast snarling with the emphasis on speed. It becomes a blur and does not grab me. It does become clear that the main thing which keeps them from being a Cannibal Corpse tribute band is the punk like energy they pursue these songs with. On "Red Death" this
translates into giving them a more thrash like feel.They continue down this ultra violent path  and the songs begin to bore me because they all sound the same.

If this is your thing, then you obviously are more into this sound and not into songs."Playing With Fear " is the first song that slows down enough to establish it's own personality. Even then it is done in a way that is a few bpms over mid tempo. They do descend into blasting, but you have to have some to provide a dynamic contrast, which is far and few between with this album. The vocals are largely an after thought on this album, but they do provide some useful accents to give shattered sanity more of an identity along with the thrashy hook of the riffs. A hooky riff might be cool, but the rule here that smacks these guys in the face is cool riffs alone does not a good song make. There is some trade off with the lower grunted Cannibal Corpse like vocal and a higher raps that works better than one style sitting by itself sonically.

I am officially bored by  the time we get to "In the Mouth of Hell". It's all monochrome dynamically and the songs have begun to sound the same. Thankfully they are only a minute and a half long songs toward the end of the album so not having to endure it for long. "Shattered Sanity" is marginally better due to the more hooky thrash guitar part.They are more deliberate with "Re-animated" . The vocals have more purpose on this one. I think a  7 is generous. This means these guys are good at what they do I am just not a fan of what they are doing as I need more songwriting in my death metal.



Kayo Dot :"Blasphemy"





Here is a band I have paid attention to for some time.Toby Driver is the main creative force behind it. I would say I have a serious appreciation for them. They are like a more avant garde version of Leprous. Their previous album was darker. This time around we find them after they have obviously smoked a shit ton of weed. The opener eventually gets darker and more emotive as it builds, It has more of a shimmer to it.The second song carries more movement with the busier patter of the drums. The vocals are less over wrought and smoother. Not that the delivery on the previous song had anything wrong with them. There are metal elements but I would not say this is a particularly metal album, though it will appeal to metal fans.

There are some really cool guitar tones. The clean ones are crisper and have more depth than when they try to bring the crunch. There are some vocals tones as well as guitar tones that touch up[on the kind of post-punk that is often called goth. "Lost Souls on Lonesome's Way"  is more proggy, yet not as urgently pulling you in as the first few songs. There is a guitar solos that breaks out, but the song as a whole doesn't grip me as urgently. There is a more delicate touch to "Vanishing Act in Blinding Gray".  It does build in a quirky manner that takes the song in a more dissonant progressive direction not unlike Belew era King Crimson. This vibe carries over into the song that follows it as well. I prefer the darker touches to "Midnight Mystic Rise and Fall:". At time the emotive vocal inflections remind me or Robert Smith or Rozz Williams.

"An Eye For a Lie" sounds almost like the new trap music version of Liturgy. The vocals are better though. It is as angular as a Frank Zappa song. The song floats off into a kind of atmosphere that sounds like what the album cover looks like. The title track this album ends with is pretty dramatic , but falls more in line with what your typical progressive rock band might do in 2019, just without the excessive guitar solos. If you like the idea of progressive rock , but do not like guitar solos then that is even more reason to check this album out. I will give this album a 9, it's easy just to leave on and let play.



Mix Tape Mania : "Con Drop Edition"


Con drop was held at bay by throwing myself into writing, now I feel it beginning to creep in. The most obvious thing of course to in order to keep it at bay is make a mix. The bulk of these are from albums that came out this year that I am digging which fall into the more quirky darkness of the depressive style of indie rock I like. Hope you enjoy and maybe find a new band or three.  


Crooked Ghost - "Sinew in Red "





  The Pleasure Leftists-_ "the Conversation" 






  Xiu Xiu - " Chocolate Makes You Happy"





Low Dose _ "For Sure"



  Gold "Why Aren't You Laughing"



  Brutus - "Techno"




  Bon Iver - "Hey Mom"








The Faint - "Young & Realistic"




  Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats _ "Exodus"





  The Foreign Resort - "Outnumbered"

Report to the Dance Floor- :Post Malone : "Hollywood's Bleeding"





If you are surprised I am covering this album then you must have missed out on my Taylor Swift review. It's ok it is only a few clicks back.  I see this guy as being about as Trap as Justin Bieber. Like Justin he makes some entertaining pop music. "Beerbones & Bentleys" was very hooky and well written. This is the bar this album is being held to. The opening title track is more atmospheric than his other stuff and not the most hooky The second song is better and plays more to his strengths. . He continues to sing more than he raps. Or another way to say this might be his supposed style of raps is sing song to the point of crossing over. By the time we get to "Enemies" he is locked back into his comfort zone.

The more new wave tone of "Allergic" is like the turn the Weeknd took on "False Alarm" . It's a cool song, but sets the record straight this is a pop album not a hip hop album. "A Thousand Bad Times" is another catchy song, though it justifies my Justin Bieber comparison. Lyrically this album falls along the same lines as the previous one. I might just need to grow on "Circles" is almost too happy for me. The bass contributes to this. The song is fairly guitar centered. Future joins him on "Die For Me" thus giving the song a stronger hip hop element. There is more auto tune on his voice on this one to conform more to the standard 2019 hip hop approach. Halsey also drops a pretty effective verse on this. He is doing what he does really well on "On the Road" which benefits from a solid groove.  Well... Ozzy is on "Take What You Want". It is a good song, but I am not sure how I feel for Ozzy's  sake.

"I'm Gonna Be" is an odd pop song. It might have to grow on me."Staring at the Sun" is another pop song, it has a lighter mood despite the lyrics though some what dialed in aside from the female vocal. There are however 17 songs so more margin of error. My guess is if this had been narrowed down to the 10 best songs it would have been am incredible album. The melody to "Sunflower" reminds me of M.I.A, what ever happened to her ?  It's beginning to add to the fact that this is a happier more upbeat album than the previous, perhaps he needs to do more drugs. At this point if you are not a fan of Malone you might wonder what   I consider a good song when it comes to Malone here,  this can best be explained by the song "Internet" . It is melodic pop with a drug glazed  attitude .  I am not looking for Morrissey quality lyrics. Sometimes he delivers this better than others "Goodbyes" just falls in the comfortable dialed in range of what he does.

"Myself" is well written for what it is and works for what he does. He needs to quit taking the meds the Doctors prescribe him and take the ones they are not.  "I Know" works , but is in the Bieberr zone. The last song "Wow" works for me after the second listen. The beat is pretty solid. I will give this album a 9, I could narrow this down to the ten songs that would make this a 10, but he would not stop while he was ahead so it is what is is and I am workign with what I am given. 


Thursday, September 5, 2019

MGLA : "Age of Excuse"




I had to go back and check to make sure My iTunes was not playing the new Abbath by mistake. Their 2012 album "With Hearts Toward None". The more mid tempo grooves that held more death metal influence on that album have not cropped up yet. It is a much more straight forward blitz that does carry some of the  creeping darkness to it, but charges forward with the more militant darkness of black metal. By the end of the second song it races into the kind of furious tremolo picked barrage that hundreds of other black metal bands do. It is well done and executed, but more of a sound than a song. Am I comparing this album to "With Hearts Toward None" and using it as the measuring stick. You bet your ass. If they can make one album that rocks like that they can do it again. The need for speed however compromises what gives them their own sense of identity.

The third song has a cool galloping kind of riff, but the rule here is cool riffs alone do not a good song make. The dissonance of this songs, lulls me in and creates the same kind of hypnotic atmosphere to trance out to that early Darkthrone did. So in that way they are successful and without question this is legit black metal. The question is more how are these songs distinct entities in and of themselves. The question becomes more pressing as the fourth song sounds just like the 3rd. In fact I have listened to this album a few times at this point and the songs have all begun to sound the same once you get deep into the album. The tempos is certainly one thing that doesn't help in this matter. The 5th songs has more of a melodic throb to it. The tempo is more deliberate and there is a spoken section to it so it sets it's self apart more than most of these songs.

At 9 minutes the last song is still not too terribly excessive for black metal these days , The drumming on this one is great. Perhaps not great enough to really set it aside as it's own distinct entity, but good none the less. The emphasis is more on double bass .  Toward the end of the song I can make out the lyrics and they seem to be about human nature. I will round this down to a 7.5 , which considering their track record up to this point makes this a disappointment, if you just want really straight forward black metal then this might be worth checking out especially if you are already a fan of these guys.