Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Puppy "Pure Evil" (2022)

Sophomore albums can be tricky and after soaring high on their debut The Goat, the trio return with a mixed bag of treats. As the Pure Evil name suggests, one can find a through line of esoteric themes prying into witchcraft, occultism and nightly mischief. With the tone of their music, the lyrics comes across with a toying playfulness as they avoid all the cheesy exaggerated tropes usually associated satanic oriented music.

Opening with the sludgy, brooding Shining Star, the band establish the doomy aspect of the records tone, only to curtail it swiftly with The Kiss. The song alone is a masterpiece unto itself. Capturing rays of sun through shapely, hazy riffs, a summery Smashing Pumpkins magic is birthed again. Its quite the contrast as a uplifting song peaked by groovy pinch harmonic riffs and a delightful gleaming guitar solo.

My Offer and Wasted Little Heart continue on, subtly darkening the path, the later offering up some beautifully crafted moments of space for a chunky guitar palm mute to inhabit with its delightful texture. Its from this point on that Pure Evil starts to wain as the moody, brooding side of their sound takes a stronger presence. With less flash and flair from the guitars, the tone increasingly focuses on its own colorful gloom.
This feels emphasized by the vocal harmonization of Norton and Michael, the duo have an interesting chemistry built on honesty and a strained sincerity which excels when the music is bright and colorful. Being slightly off key and raw, they provide an exciting contrast but as the record shifts into a darker string of shadowy, nefariously themed songs, its potency ends up drained and sucked into the rainy tone.

Despite this, there are plenty of exciting riffs, evoking nostalgia for 90s Alternative, Grunge and Metal, always standing on there own legs. Sometimes their ideas don't quite land. The tempo pivot on Wasted Little Heart throws hails to Thrash Metal but doesn't go anywhere. They try a similar trick on Spellbound and land it wonderfully with an epic but brief wailing guitar solo. Its a minor blemish but there are a few two many musical ideas that don't seem to follow up on the shown potential.

All in all, for this listener the theme wasn't enough to spark some magic out of the gloomy tone this record explores. When luminous and bursting with energy the music is captivating. Its dreary side, although wondrous in patches like the dreamy, ethereal, acoustic gloss of Dear John, gets a bit tiring. The riffs stale, the existing chemistry gets stretched. Far from terrible but a half step back in my opinion.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, 16 May 2022

Judas Priest "Painkiller" (1990)

Lets set the scene, the Heavy Metal landscape is changing drastically, Thrash and Death Metal are on the rise with Grunge and Alternative set to grip the mainstream in the coming years. Metallica are the genres new juggernaut and Pantera have brought forth a new identity for Metal. Surely a band like Judas Priest are on the way out? Well no, the intensity of Painkiller arrives as the apex of their "heavier than heavy" sound priest always embodied. It goes toe to toe with any contestant and holds it own. Quite a remarkable bow out after twenty one years as it would be Rob Halford's last for now.

The album will always be overcast by its lead and title track, Painkiller, a thrilling frenzy of adrenaline inducing metallic might thats hellbent on thrusting the listener through a seemingly never ending amping up of intensity. Molten hot guitar solos ooze, Rob's screams pull down the heavens and its string of riveting riffs and battering drums seem to keep turning up the heat. And then there is the end of the song... just as you think things are starting to wind down, somehow they go at it again with another eruption, a raging inferno of guitar blazing madness. Tipton and Downing have somehow outdone themselves yet again, as does everyone in all reality.

Its an exceptional song, an unforgettable track, but the shadow it casts can't deter the rest of the record. Although that devilish intensity isn't reached again, you couldn't expect every song to pursue the same goals. What follows is Priest exploring wonderfully brutish themes as the Heavy Metal universe takes a turn down a dark nightly alleyway. In a ways It feels like everything has been leading to this point, Priest at their hardest, leanest, fastest and on A Touch Of Evil, they go epic and anthemic when the tempo shifts. Every track is a celebration of their attitude, style and personal, all embellished through this stunning mastery of intensity as they push on.

Much credit is owed to Producer Chris Tsangarides who finds a powerful aesthetic for the band to plow through. Most notable is the drumming of Scott Travis, his bass kick is given a lot of deep tone and shape, the snare has a thunderous snap. It takes up a lot of attention but never drowns out the guitars. The two tandem wonderfully when double pedal rhythms pound alongside razor sharp riffs. In general, its all immaculate, a crowded mix of intense instruments somehow not overpowering one another. Rob's chords are fiery as ever, the lead guitars blazing wild and cutting like a knife.

As good records do, the shifting song writing approaches Priest inhabit are wonderfully performed. A keen detail that grabs me is the subtle use of cheesy synths or drab organs. Bold and brash, whenever they drop in, its always enhances the spectacle of the song itself. It should also be emphasized that Downing and Tipton's lead guitar work is not just exceptional on the title track but throughout the record. That exhilarating rise of dexterous notation, luminous and unhinged returns often. They sail so many extremes of fret-board manipulation, its a gift that keeps giving.

Having reacquainted myself with this classic, It should not be understated, the "heaviness" in aesthetic is not its sole trick. This really is Priest at their best when it comes to song writing too. The themes ditch the fun and cheese of Ram It Down and the result is a serious flag wave for Rob's fantasy Heavy Metal lifestyle. There isn't a dud here and you'll be hard pressed to figure out your favorite tracks bar the title track itself, a never ending sequences of adrenaline shots. For the decades I've experienced it, still blows my mind till this day! He... Is... The... PAINKILLER!

Rating: 9.5/10

Sunday, 15 May 2022

The Gathering "Almost A Dance" (1993)

 Released between two of my personal tens, the musky symphonic gloom of Always... and the warm, youthful ascension of Mandylion, you'd think I'd know Almost A Dance well right? Sadly, what turned me off back in the day, still revolts me now. Niels Duffhues voice has a piercing nasal shrill so off beat and indifferent from the music, it deafens its beauty. So to does his cadence and shaping of words feel totally out of step. He would be more suited to some played out Arena Rock, Glam Rock local act. Truly not to my taste or The Gathering at all, thank goodness they found Anneke!

The difference now is I've learned to listen past the elements of music that turn you off, and oh boy can that be a task. In no measure has Niels grown on me, tolerance is not the word, quite the opposite. He masks wonderful instrumentals that bridge the bands transition from dingy Doom Metal to the Symphonic driven Alternative Metal that dawned with the eternally stunning voice of Anneke van Giersbergen.

The chemistry bonded between distorted power chords and cheesy Casio Korg synths, perusing basslines and plucked acoustic chords, is here as found on both the other records. Its arrangements often abridges the two, brightening the gloomy temperament and finding emotive chord progressions. It moves to the light alongside a blossoming lead guitar that sails into the sun of glorious gleams of melancholy.

Mostly it holds that middle ground, showcasing the journey the band where on, steadily progressing their ideas, but so to do reworkings of techniques and tropes from Always... arise, as well as some arrangements that would be preformed again on Mandylion. If my words don't make it obvious, I'm astonished I didn't find my way in decades in. The sad reality is though, for all the instrumental wonder, Niels is a blight! That being said, Marike Groot lends her voice again on a few songs and in those moments a blessing is bestowed to know what could of been!

I'd love to hear Almost A Dance without Niels, however now more accustom with the album, I get a sense of a band in a rush. The production is a little loose and sloppy which can be forgiven but the difference in song quality has its dips with the nine minute Her Last Flight and the god awful Nobody Dares. The chemistry can simply drop off on some songs, losing that magical nightly ethereal melancholy. Given that Niels was recruited right around its recording and release, I'd guess some external pressures stained what could of been quite the rendition of one bands moment in time I simply adore.

Rating: 4/10

Friday, 13 May 2022

Rammstein "Zeit" (2022)


Have Rammstein found their footing again? Three years on from the untitled record with a pandemic wedged in-between, they would have had any excuse for another long absence, as bands quite often do with age. Zeit is a potent return, musicians in stride, armed with new inspirations. Their classic fist pumping Industrial Metal might comes with a measure of maturity and atmosphere. The expectant stomps of chunky mechanical groove take more of a backseat alongside brooding emotive tracks. Slow, scenic strides of soft textures, pianos and synths, bubbling up into swells of expansive guitar distortion seems a common format this time out. It feels refreshing.

The eleven songs play so wonderfully for the album experience as the pacing ebbs and flows between its soft and hard edges with plenty of moody melodies and righteous riffs along the journey. The powerful, deep and clearly enunciated voice of Till Lindemann commands the ship on its voyage. I adore his presence, having not looked up any translations, his animated delivery is mysterious and draws one in like a magnet. On occasion I find my own meanings in the drama of his delivery. Then there's the blemish of Lugen, where Till experiments with auto-tune and the results seem.... out of tune? The manipulations are dreadful, untimely, distorting what seemed like moments of personal emotional magnitude. Perhaps that is the point?

Dickie Titten, a title I don't think I'll translate, has another experimental curiosity that I'm not entirely sure works. On the third repetition of its design, these anthemic horns drop in with playful circus vibes. It gives me the impression of having more significance, as is lifted from some historical German song. Anyways, all in all Zeit is a fine construct, a much more "accessible" record with a production that frequently drops the distortion guitars out, putting less emphasis on the heavy, more so on the craft and subtler synth melodies. The good news is the songwriting is fine and its sways from Industrial groove to broody atmospheres keeps one engaged from front to back.

Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Sum 41 "Half Hour Of Power" (2000)


Released a year prior to All Killer, No Filler, the Canadian Pop Punkers debuted with this mini album, Half Hour Of Power. Its another suitable title to represent what awaits as the blaze though eleven fast and furious chops of bright, melodic, teenage Punk. Interspersed with brief stints from other genres, the group gather some distinction. Opening with Grab The Devil By The Horns, the original working of Pain For Pleasure, they may mislead with classic Heavy Metal leads, screams and riffs deployed as weapons of choice for the opening act. Its this metallic inclination that crops up again with spouts of aggression heard on T.H.T and Ride The Chariot To The Devil.

With a fun and goofy pivot, each of the lads showcase their Beastie Boys imitation raps on What We're All About. Its upbeat, tongue in cheek and a great laugh however Second Chance For Max Headroom's doesn't yield the same. Pivoting away from its dexterous, metallic, melodic leads that blaze away with pace, the switch into Ska as trumpets arrive on a new groove, was certainly less desirable. Its probably the one blemish were thees guys excel at having tremendous fun with their influence, which they put front and center.

Otherwise its mostly straight Pop Punk with great upbeat vibes. The lyrics release youthful grievances and teenage troubles against the backdrop of fast tempered drum grooves and power chord strumming. Most these songs could be interchanged onto All Killer, No Filler. Summer being the one song that made it over and I wouldn't say its the best on the record. Makes No Difference feels like single material, capturing that energy of Fat Lip and In Too Deep. The difference is the recording fidelity. This was obviously recorded on a lower budget yet the music overpowers as its thirty minutes are a blast!

Rating: 6/10

Monday, 9 May 2022

The Gathering "Beautiful Distortion" (2022)


Presently decades beyond the youthful beauty of their magnum opus Mandylion, my excitement for the group has vanished in the wake of Beautiful Distortion. Now eight years on from their last release, Its occurred to me how little of The Gathering I know beyond Always... and their aforementioned classic. No longer with the vibrant charm of Anneke van Giersbergen leading way, her replacement, the Norwegian Silje Wergeland, has quite a similar temperament, softness and power. Until research before writing, I thought of Anneke's performance as underwhelming and dragged down by the drab and dull character of the accompanying instrumentals.

Sadly, nothing about the record sticks. Mostly unfolding in six minute stints, the eight songs are all mid-tempo strolls across tame, paled atmospheres. Its as if the group are seeking the epic, a beautiful destination manifested through the gentle brooding of its inoffensive instruments. It rarely manifests as such, perhaps We Rise comes close with its gristly guitar pushing some shadowy weight against the light. The rest of the material meanders within itself as softer guitar distortions seek a resonance with the otherwise smooth setting. The dynamic rarely pushes into any interesting territory.

As a form of toned down Post-Rock, these songs simply pool together some passable ideas that dabble and drone in lengthy repetitions where the atmosphere just doesn't amount to much. It gets quite shaky on the last two songs as the worst ideas manifest a rather inoffensive temperament into something quite amateur, reminiscent of a local band who cant hear themselves. My words may be harsh but the music was deafeningly dull, lacking any gusto, spirit or ambition. Its been disappointing but also a reminder to get to know their older records some more. That I can be thankful for!

Rating: 2/10

Saturday, 7 May 2022

Old Man's Child "Slaves Of The World" (2009)


Its end of the line for this nostalgic Old Man's Child dive. Slaves Of The World is one I barely paid attention to upon release, so its re-visitation plays like new material. Galder essentially plays his game again in a more metallic package of dark and groovy Symphonic Black Metal. He pulls all the expectant chops and tropes out of the hat. Mostly led by the guitars, the music pivots in and out of dark perilous plunges through blast beast beats and finds bounce and symphonic melodies as counterpart.

Its nine tracks tend to differ little from one another in the ability to impress. The tone is set swiftly and the tracks meander through the motions where certain riffs and sprinkles of melody might tickle your fancy. One key distinction is Galder's vocals. Much meatier and more guttural driven, his shriller howls and raspy shouts give way to a deeper range deployed with overlaps and reverbs to much theatrical effect.

With new material potentially on the way after over a decade of silence I will be excited to see where Old Man's Child ventures from this chapter. Unfortunately Slaves Of The World resides as a run of the mill record for the naughties sound. I can't speak ill but the record just drifts by. Great if in the mood but otherwise a swirl of dark symphonic background noise churning through its own cliched motions. What the band needs is a stylistic evolution as this territory has been thoroughly explored and conquered!

Rating: 5/10

Thursday, 5 May 2022

Meshuggah "Immutable" (2022)


The Swedish extremity is back! This ninth installment Immutable has been out for over a month now. In that time Ive spun it plenty, trying to let this record settle in a little deeper before sharing my thoughts. Why you ask? Because this band have in all likelihood had the biggest influence on the shape of modern Metal. Pioneering the use of virtual drum rigs, reshaping guitar tones with amp modeling, the popularization of seven and eight string guitars, most of all, the so called poly-rhythms. Meshuggah have carved an undeniable legacy among musicians and fans in the know. That reputation perhaps soured my expectancy of more fresh ground to be conquered that The Violent Sleep of Reason, released six years back, sadly did not offer.

As a lengthy one hour bludgeoning of deafening groove, incessant percussive pounding and hypnotic rhythmic sways, Immutable surfaces now as a more encompassing record that reflects back over the bands trajectory. Little is new is offered. The tweaking of tone and subtle realignment of their now formulated brutal aesthetic goes to battle with new mathematical ideas. Chopped and twisted riffs hide their numeric patterns in a vortex of overlapping measures, techniques and chugs that tend to loose that simplistic primal charm in a pursuit of new complexities.

Wedged between the new ideas, or lack of, the record shines when the group fall back onto previously explored tones and ideas. Reaching as far back as Nothing, the last two decades of ideas reemerge with riffs, grooves and textures that could easily slip back into those eras. Its not the soul focus but seemingly a regular intervals the dulled bludgeoning gives way to familiarity. This manifests best with lead guitarist Fredrik Thordendal's fantastical, zaney, mesmerizing alien melodies. On a couple of occasions the vibes reach back even further into the 90s stretch of their back catalog.

 Stripped of its bloat and stretches of monotony, this could of been quite the satisfying experience yet sadly a lot of the runtime feels stale. Many grindy section pound away lengthily with the best arriving from the overlapping with those alien lead guitars. Ironically the lengthiest They Move Below instrumental is one of the best tracks. Its scaling nature meanders and adventures through tricksy grooves and timings that go far beyond the droning low end groove. The albums shortest, Black Cathedral, plays like a guitar tone demo that got left in by mistake. The closer Past Tense is a nice throw back to previous acoustic works but not terribly interesting.

Haven given it a fair time to sink in, its clear these musicians can still churn out what they do so well. Keeping it fun and exciting but as expected seeking to expand on this with complexity just doesn't work. The best riffs and moments seemingly always come from the easier to digest time signatures and primal groove that made records like obZen pound so hard. I am definitely glad I gave this one adequate time but my conclusion is id much prefer a trimmed down version.

Rating: 6/10

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Vince Staples "Ramona Park Broke My Heart" (2022)


With a talkative tone and casual cadence, Vince returns on this forth outing spinning his introspective thoughts on a breezy laid back vibe. To say business as usual would understate the emotional weight and expressions from this insightful artists. Again, stories and perspectives are told through the personas he inhabits. Lacking the spark a new dimension can bring, the familiarity of his attitude and lyrics lets one swiftly fall into the easy groove the record presents. Its a slow riding, G-Funk inspired chill out where 808s and percussive beats pop low key and the instrumentals croon gently on the subdued, sleepy leaning vibes that drift by with an eerie lack of tension.

I'm not sure if its in contrast to the gravity of topics discussed in his lyrics as there is a lot of pride and warmth expressed where Vince often uses his words to peers into social ills and societal issues. His words make this record feel more personal than the tales of prior projects. His cadence, which at its sturdiest still seems casual, can slip into a breathy effortless slew of words that almost seems intentionally lazy. The vibe is spot on however! These dreamy toned down beats play right into his hand.

The result is a soothing lofty warmth that drifts by yet any attention given to his words reveals a deeper meaning. I love how he can wrap the most potent words into simple lines and expressions to emphasis a narrative. Its almost in rebellion to overworked rhymes and clever wordplay. Vince uses just a drop of poetry and the apt moments so effortlessly. Seemingly much of it plays of as train of thought, ringing of the thoughts directly but a little study often reveals something a little deeper. I do think some of the Ramona Park Broke My Heart's depth does hinge on its authenticity. Are these more personal tales? Either way, its a very easy to enjoy record.

Rating: 7/10

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Sum 41 "All Killer, No Filler" (2001)

Talk about a blast from the past, my teenage days of lounging on the couch after school, watching MTV for hours on end have returned so vividly! As one of Pop Punk's best offerings, the four friends of Sum 41 rose to prominence off the back of two massive singles, In Too Deep and Fat Lip. Both songs still sound fantastic to this day. Banging out the warm bouncy riffs, fun light hearted raps and instantaneously catchy hooks, these songs are so hard not to like, which brings me to musical elitism.

I remember loving these songs, as well as Pain For Pleasure, immensely. I'm also positive I had this record and one other of theirs in my collection. I am guessing as my tastes turned darker and harder, my naive youthful elitist Metalhead mind purged this "pop music" from the archives. Now a couple decades on from those years, I'm quite fond of hearing Pop Punk of that 00s era whenever it happens to pass me by.

Either Green Day, The Offspring or Blink 182, which I supposedly hated at the time, I can't deny my love of their songs I'd heard on the Tony Hawks Pro Skater soundtracks over and over again. Spending time with All Killer No Filler hasn't exactly increased my appetite for the genre, in fact its the same as I remember but at least now I can enjoy the warm fuzzy feelings these guys extract for suburban teenage problems.

As the title suggests, the band blitz through their ideas on a string of briefer three minute songs. Its fast, lean and sharp, with mouthy attitudes shouting off. Its not aimed at anyone, or with any malice. The tone is bright, sunny and upbeat. Its vibes get interspersed with fast tempos, choppy riffs and fun aggression, a typical chemistry for the genre. Most these songs lyrics have the finger keenly on the pulse of ones own emotions, relationships and mental health. A term not in the vocabulary of the times.

Despite being keenly introspective, it all tends to be ankle deep and light hearted, straight forward expressions, often airing out grievances and frustrations over suburban teenage issues, all with a decent spirit. Strangely I didn't find much of the lyrics cringe or typically angsty, the sort you'd find in embarrassing reflections on youthful ignorance. Even the anti conformity lyrical chants of Fat Lip hold up.

Lastly, Sum 41 have a slightly metallic edge. It doesn't manifest often, one or two "heavy riffs" and blazing guitar solos nod to their other influence. They give a wonderful tribute to Judas Priest with the albums closer Pain For Pleasure. Its quite possibly one of the best executed imitations of Priest you'll ever hear. It gives credit to the musicianship of these individuals who step into a genre easy to emulate yet hard to rise to the top of, which they did if you count music sales and chart success as a measurement. I've always been curious about doing a dive into Pop Punk but my time with this record didn't connect deeply. Had I gravitated to it in my youth, I'm sure I'd consider this a classic!

Rating: 7/10

Friday, 29 April 2022

Ocean Grove "Up In The Air Forever" (2022)


Highly anticipated and warmly received, Up In The Air Forever is a spirited return to the modernized 90s mania of Flip Phone Fantasy. As my favorite record of recent years, a new batch of catchy ear worms are more than welcome. With this new chapter comprised of ten songs, the Australian group rework the formula through the wall of sound aesthetic for a true part two. I couldn't of asked for more, clearly there was more fuel in the tank as this sound simply does not tire on this adoring listener.

With glimmers of Nu Metal in groove and vibes akin to Grunge and the late 90s Pop scene, Ocean Grove get laser focused on catchy hooks and simple song structures. With grabbing guitar riffs and a dense, slamming production that channels all the instruments into a wonderful aesthetic stream, their three minute songs burn through inspiration thick and fast. Every track has its own flavor, most often a keen nostalgic throwback too. Its either Dale Tanner's breezy singing or some distinct guitar riff but everything has its roots in the past yet feels completely fresh and fun.

The one moment where the band reveal their hand all too abashedly is on the brief two minute HMU. Its dreamy intro cuts into a 90s/00s Pop / Hip Hop crossover track. Jiving percussion and punchy guitar grooves set stage for flirtatious lyrics. For me, its practically a flashback to days on the couch after school watching MTV. I couldn't finger the exact song but perhaps something by No Doubt would be a close call?

Fortunately its a great track. The band understand that period well. To drop some more names, Nirvana and Oasis are two other bands I frequently pick up vibes on. Especially the vocals, I frequently hear that arms behind back Gallagher singing. Even more so, I get a keen sense that the best of 90s Pop Music had a stronger influence on these musicians as the hooks, lyrics and cadence just seem to fit snugly with my memory of that era. Nostalgia aside, the group bring a strong sense of identity, wrapped in the spirit and moment of being a youthful band in their prime.

Musically its the production, handled by drummer Sam Bassal, that has their stamp of authority. The most simple elements hit hardest. The bass kicks like a dance floor thud. The snare snaps through the intensity, the pair power every track a strong groove. The shape of riffs and catchy melodies reach to the forefront with a bold emphasis. Its simple to digest at first yet giving more attention, a web of details, textures and electronics feel wedged into the engulfing sound too.

Having binged the record for a week, I can barely decipher my favorites. One great moment flows into the next and the vibrant energy rarely ceases, cooling off with the title track drifting off into a dreamy Etheral Rave of sorts. A lot of my adoration resists the analysis I try to bring to the experience. This band genuinely remind me of first falling in love with music where bands could do no wrong and anything you could get into was wonderful. I just want to soak in their vibes and enjoy every moment.

Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Lena Raine "Minecraft: Nether Update (Original Game Soundtrack)" (2020)


With a recent dive into the Wild Update's new music, it occurred to me that the accompanying soundtrack format extended back to the Nether Update! Despite covering the new musical inclusion in game, this separated release alluded me. Now that the talent of Lena Raine is no secret to me, I wanted to return to her first inclusion in the games soundtrack through these three ambient pieces and the classic in-game Pigstep record disc that introduced her music to the Minecraft community.

Pigstep is a bop, no doubt! A boldfaced groove of mischievous synth-bass jive, curious yet cautious flutes adventuring nearby and a cheeky lead melody throwing caution to the wind. The music builds up to a gratifying swirl of sounds that can swiftly drop back to its starting stomp, all while a busy percussive drive builds up a textural density around it. Quite the departure from C418's stance, an attention grabbing introduction that fits the vibe of the nether's new Piglin inhabitants.

The three pieces of ambience built for Minecraft's most perilous dimension steer clear of the darkness and abandon one could so easily grasp for. With slight unease and tension in its airy ambiguous synths, all three anchor into moods that signifies danger and caution yet linger on what beauty is to be offered. Chrysopoeia rolls in with a thick fog for gracious piano notes to cut through. One can see the magnificent yet truly deadly landscapes, appreciating its magnitude within a humble presence.

Rubedo is my favorite. Mainly for starting with its main looping melody which arises as a lonely spirit, drifting in perpetuity. When the more commonly ambient backing synth groans into existence, it brings such a powerful and daunting sway that swells in a riveting moment of tension. Its a beautiful moment, stunningly crafted through a reverse of format where often the backing would linger as the melodies direct.

So Below takes a glassy, crystalized set of sounds on a cold and breezy voyage, somewhat unfitting to the scorching heat of the lava riddled nether. The ominous bass murmuring below broods and awaits its turn. When the shiver passes it expands its creep, ending the trio of tracks with the darkest of moments which fades aptly.

Lena has me excited for the future of this games music. Her craft is brilliant and brings true inspiration and vision to a format of music, Ambient, that can easily be jostled of its merits. Best of all the visions conjured suit the nauseating scale of the basalt deltas, unruly dangers of crimson forests and the eerie safety of a warped forest.

Rating: 7/10

Sunday, 24 April 2022

Kae Tempest "The Line Is A Curve" (2022)


Formerly known as Kate Tempest, Kae returns after the disappointing The Book Of Traps And Lessons, renewed and revitalized with that magic sparkle heard on earlier records. Always one to cut to the heart of social observations, The Line Is A Curve turns in a personal direction as a love story arcs from origins of pain and separation. Although Kae is often tied up in the observations of the characters manifesting from story telling, this time much of the lyrical feels deeply personal with vulnerability often heard in there voice. The record blossoms from a typically dystopian, dissatisfied, unsettled origin into a warm, endearing resolve found in the love of another soul.

Shadowy, softly glum with a nightly luminosity, the opening instrumentals navigate difficult terrain with terrain as Kae's lyrical journey starts from a depressive state. The mood begins to turn with Salt Coast, its opening gives me an eerie deja vu to Marvin Gaye's Inner City Blues. It must be the same piano chord! With this song both Kae and the instrumental start turning to positive expressions and melodies as the relationship between ones self and the other starts to tangle. Slowly the threads are pulled one by one.

Along the way, These Are The Days land some Pink Floyd vibes with fantastic instrumentation. Mixing a live band with the synthetic melodies has a beautiful resonance. Its something the production achieves over and over, melding different musical elements at the greatest compliment to Kae's words. Things get a little manic with the last couple of songs but landing on the heart pouring Grace, the arc finds its conclusion. One that surely can't be fictions, its such a beautiful expression.

The Line Is A Curve plays with a true album experience, not a collection of songs but a journey cohesive in voice and instrumentation that one can chew on from some time as Kae's lyrics stir the deeper rumblings of thought and the accompanying music setting an apt complimentary tone. The whole thing feels like a hugely personal endeavor to shape the motions of ones life into a piece of art.

Rating: 7/10

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Lena Raine & Samuel Åberg "Minecraft: Wild Update (Original Game Soundtrack)" (2022)


With the latest Minecraft update closing in, this timely four song soundtrack has been released in what is becoming a welcome tradition for the game. Its new music disc composed by Samuel Åberg will have the community whisked into a world of discussion. The audible sound of flint and steel in its inception will fuel the fires of theory regarding a new type of portal in the ancient city. The cinematic track is a sound design experience to further enrich the lore of the Warden and deep dark.

Initially dark and creepy, a momentary melody so suited to Minecraft's in game records slows down into a dark journey of foot steps and grisly sounds as our adventurer plays hide and seek with the warden. The sound of a sculk shrieker unintentionally activated unleashes a beastly jump scare, to which we heard a brief instance of it in the beginning. It perhaps suggests a non-linear song structure. With this song alone, Mojang have let loose community exceptions for a new dimension ventured from the Ancient City's portal structure. Maybe we will see it next update?

The other three songs composed by Lena Raine speak wonders to her talent. The gentle pacing and warm dreamy ambiences are so apt for this game. Once again she navigates away from the shadow of previous composed C418 and compliments the game wonderfully well. Firebugs builds its innocent, soothing melodies and soft tropical percussion to a surge of cultured strings. Boldly, it gives a brief but necessary human touch to the song. One can imagine themselves laid down in a canoe, breezily drifting down the rivers through a mangrove swamp on a cool summers day.

Following it up, Aerie drifts into a sunny melancholy. With humble origins, a lonely melody meanders lost over the beautiful resonance set by cautious pianos beneath. Like a sudden realization, the music finds its moment to pivot and slowly build through its bright sorrows as the main melody matures and the deep bass piano notes beneath lead to a place of satisfaction. Its the sort of unassuming song that passes you by quietly yet whips you up gracefully into the arms of its emotional direction.

Labyrinthine is the most noticeable of the three from an ambience perspective. Its pan pipe instrument rises above the pallet of sounds heard in the previous two. Their timbre and presence creates a soft tension to give way before the music steers away. Blossoming into a rather bold and present swelling of sounds, its punctuated by distant, yet sharp and sparse reverberated snare. It demands ones attentionas then a conclusive feeling sets in with the subtle re-birthing of the original pan pipe melody.

Ambient music is an art, a craft which can sometimes hinge on the simpler aspects of aesthetic engrossment and temporal suspension, yet here Lena strides forth with apt melody so suited for the game and weaves in that subtle presentation. The pleasure is that her music can both be enjoyed in the foreground of attention or mood setting background. As for Samuel, his sound design track is quite the different entrance. I wonder if we will hear more of his works again? And what else he is possible of.

Rating: 6/10

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Old Man's Child "Vermin" (2005)


On the first few spins, much of this record felt fresh to a long forgotten cast. As a reminiscent familiarity set in, fond yet faded memories of its existence began to re-emerge. This was then the newest of Galder's records to be released in the prime of my time enjoying his music. Somehow, it ended up over shadowed by the rest of his records. Revisiting it has been a pleasure, a lost joy I've re-acquainted myself with.

Strangely though, I feel I have the least to say about this record. Following his peak, In Defiance Of Existence, Galder's next move was a symphonic embellishment that has Vermin feel more like a bridge between the aforementioned album and Revelation 666 - The Curse Of Damnation that came before it. Despite my adoration of Revelation 666, it does admittedly drown in the rich symphony and over production.

Vermin is measured in approach, taking the refined song writing of In Definance and bringing a visibly more involved orchestration of darkly synths to its atmosphere. It does however frequently turn to the bombastic throws of evil Metal. Its big riffs are pitted against a careful arrangement of sinister melodies and devious guitar work. The momentum is splurged on simple breakdowns, often drenched in keyboard symphony.

With a lack of stand out moment, the shorter record plays through the defined Old Man's Child sound without anything experimental or unexpected. Perfect for a mood but lacking in anything to grab your attention otherwise. It does dabble with a brief cinematic sound design track to end off with. Its descending tone, hinted at in its titling, is a brief stint but hardly makes a lasting impression in new territory.

Rating: 7/10