Sunday, 28 February 2016

Dio "Dream Evil" (1987)


Venturing back into the spirit of Heavy Metal we get fired up with Dio's forth in as many years. Like a blast to the past we are whisked up back to that air of epic fantasy and big rock atmosphere fit for festival headliners. Its hard to think this band were once controversial and attacked on the grounds of being "satanic" music. It just seems like harmless good fun and that's what I had with this record. Now being more accustom to Ronnie James Dio's voice it was very easy to step into "Dream Evil", led by his pioneering charge, followed by rocking instrumentals and a subtle layer of 80s synth.

Much of what I said on "The Last In Line" could be said of this album too. I find Dio slips neatly into the selfless level of enjoyment fit for festival fist pumping and joyous escapism. Powerful, dramatic and full of Heavy Metal thunder the group sound completely in sync with one another, the riffs and song structures revolving around Ronnie's mighty soaring vocals which will have you at their mercy, bobbing your head and singing along with every word through a great set of choruses.

Four years on the production is a touch clearer and generally better. The keys on this album feel under realized, when they crop up they add another dimension to the sound what wasn't explored enough. "Night People" has a foggy organ-like synth subtly enhancing the atmosphere. On "All The Fools Sailed Away" they suddenly, without prompt, jumps into the track with a jiving, vibrant Prog Rock homage lead solo. It gave these songs an edge that didn't return often enough but in all fairness didn't hold this one back from being another Heavy Metal classic.

Favorite Songs: Sunset Superman, All The Fools Sailed Away
Rating: 7/10

Friday, 26 February 2016

Megadeth "Dystopia" (2016)


Its hard to believe it but Dave Mustain's Megadeth have been at it for over thirty years now. Once of Metallica, Dave was dismissed by the band in bad circumstances that left him soar and on quest of retribution to out Metal the giants of the genre. In the late 80s and early 90s the group saw a commercial peak with a string of well received records. In recent years Dave has been touring and pumping out record after record every two to three years. "Dystopia" is the groups fifteenth and I only decided to check it out due to requests to do so. I'm glad I did, its a solid, enjoyable Megadeth record that shows little sign of the group tiring however this meant the record had little new to offer.

If your familiar with Megadeth's sound its distinctive as ever on a tightly produced record. The distortion guitars have flair and speed, electric blazing lead tones and the rhythm sounds a touch Djenty and maybe over compressed. They sound fantastic when synchronizing with the sturdy bass kick drums which thud away mechanically with precision force. The bass guitar for the most part hides under the guitar, a common disappointment with records that don't utilize its potential. Dave's voice is often a turn off for potential fans and their is no break from his nazel tone. The age can be heard in his voice which can still be adventurous but the limits in his range and occasional gruffer vocals are apparent in moments where he sounds a step behind the instrumental intensity.

For the songs and music its typically metal, attitude and aggression circling around wild and excitable riffs, often busting out into lightning paced guitar leads. The record is held together with themes of societal disillusion, paranoia and government conspiracy. There is really little to fault and some of the opening songs would fit in well between the classics in a live show. On a personal level I don't feel like I'm getting any new spice or flavor which probably reflects my current apatite for new sounds as opposed to the monstrous amounts of Metal Ive consumed over the years. Solid record, wish I had been more in the mood to enjoy it.

Rating: 6/10

Monday, 22 February 2016

Erang "Land Of The Five Seasons" (2016)


This latest Erang record had me at a distance, in wanting to connect with it Ive been pushed away and when Ive made no attempt I have been sucked in. When live streaming the power of the music pushes through into focus at various points in the record, engulfing me in its persuasion. When listening intently, analyzing and thinking about my thoughts the magic is dispelled and In thinking of what this means I have come to my conclusion on what I think is the least progressive work Ive heard in a while. It is not without its charm and my undying passion for new and interesting sounds might make that sound a little harsh but I am speaking in the realm of meaningless expectation, to hear an artist find new ground, where as this one revisited.

Land of the five seasons could be considered a return to the roots, the "Tome" era, noticeably 13 tracks in length too. Simpler, melodies and song structures led by fantasy driven nostalgia for the imagination to drift away is where its magic lies. With a lower fidelity and with a touch more Dungeon Synth aesthetic, we sail through misty winds into the mysterious unknown. Its a calmer, slower record that sets its eerie accent gracefully. Its steady and balanced, conjuring its atmospheres with carefully chosen instruments to inspire and charm.

What makes this record is frustrating for me is its secrecy and lack of immediacy. I say this because most often I put on an Erang record and I'm there. However with this record I cannot get there if I pay attention, listen closely. But maybe that's just me, or my mood but when its on in the background it goes deep into the subconscious and unexpectedly creeps up on you with an explosion of magic. Two things I loved was to hear Erang's voice, clean and honest on "Deep Down Into Your Heart" and the fiery "The Red Snakes Of Amang" getting a great sound out of FL Slayer with its shimmering distortions. I have mixed feelings about this one, It has powerful subtleties and a strange transparency too.

Favorite Songs: The Tangerine Theif Of Tadyar, The Red Snakes Of Amrang
Rating: 5/10

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Dan Terminus "Rêverie" (2014)


For my second dive into the small discography of French electronic composer Dan Terminus I thought this short twenty minute EP would be an interesting listen. "Rêverie"is a break from the norm as Dan stated he would have fun, taking a break from the usual dark themes and aesthetics in favor of something happy and upbeat. Luckily for me that form of "happy" vibe isn't overly chirpy, enthusiastic or free of balance, there is plenty of room for other feelings to populate these generally positive songs however Dan can't help but steer to darker leanings at times.

In comparison to "The Wrath Of Code" we have a very similar production style but with more space in the mix to breath as the textural synths are used more sparingly. They still pack a punch with some deep wave forms but the lack of depth in layers frees the listener of the demanding density. Breaking away from the dark sound Dan still has a heavy retro inspiration that paints techno-electro fantasies with colorful dancing synthesizers. The 80s vibes course through these tracks, most noticeable when the Phil Collins style synth toms come punching into tracks with their rigid tumbling tom rolls.

Between the five tracks there is plenty of variation mainly in themes and leads. Most the tracks take on a similar tempo with momentous rhythmic patterns, as if hurtling down the cyber highway, sun glasses and hair blowing in the wind like a bad ass. Unlike the previous record I checked out the leading instruments shuffle through many more passageways and moments, rarely repeating back on themselves which made for much more progressive and organic tracks that held my interest for longer. Its a warm, breezy record knee deep in the retro-electro nostalgic fantasies that could be associated with early home console era in the mid 80s, however much richer in quality and dexterity. Dan shows a different side of himself here, one I think I prefer.

Rating: 5/10

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Dead Can Dance "Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun" (1987)


This may be the one, "my" Dead Can Dance record. So swiftly and immediately did it command my interest with mystical enchanted bells playing over a foggy and eerie choral synth that chimes in a moment later. It set the tone for an ancient, dark an deeply nostalgic experience of fantasy music with a similarity to the likes of Erang. In its first half this record borders on Dungeon Synth many years before its primitive inception in the 90s from the likes of Burzum and Mortiis. Unlike its predecessors the bands recreational element is yet to be developed and the visions and atmospheres here tell tales of the land of the dead and forgotten mysticism with a remarkable touch of color and vibrancy.

The records second is my favorite, a short and stunningly crafted piece to send your imagination soaring. Rhythmic synths echo the chimes of war as secretive strings expand and contract through a fog. More instruments chime in to add to the cryptic, mystical atmosphere and I feel as if I'm lost on the foggy moors of forgotten lands, safely observing a supernatural event. The rest of the record has a stronger human element through the sturdy, soft voice of Perry on the first half of the record and Gerrard's on the second, sounding as always like she is from another era of time.

Where the duo take two half's of the record there is a split that can be felt as the gears shift from fantasy to a strikingly dark and serious tones of remorse and suffering. On "Cantara" the mood is lifted with tribal rhythms and more stunning vocals from Gerrard. The other three create sorrowful, grave moods of funeral and loss with little respite for any melodic charm in the wake of heavy, burdening compositions that hold a great immediacy within the musics momentum. From the technical perspective this is a well produced collection of instruments for 1987. Its rigidity of timing may be noticeable but does little to dispel the magic that emanates through the speakers.
Favorite Song: Windfall
Rating: 8/10

Friday, 19 February 2016

Porcupine Tree "Fear Of A Blank Planet" (2007)


Being an avid fan of Opeth, its hard not to hear of this band who are frequently discussed and cited as a big influence on the Swedish bands sound. Porcupine Tree are a four piece British Progressive Rock group who formed in the late eighties long after the genres heyday. Beyond that there isn't much I can tell you about them, however they have certainly stirred my interest with this stunning record. Its remained on my playlist for several months and has resisted my understanding, my reach to put feelings into thoughts and this is a sign of its weight, its value, its strengths. There is so much to digest in this dense lavishing of musical passageways and emotional narratives that one is continually indulged and at the mercy of its evolving direction. With every listen I have wished to better understand my experience, yet each time I find their is more to be learned and discovered.

Having heard a fair share of lush and expansive music like this, I found myself most fascinated by the lyrical content which was starkly blunt and different from my exceptions. Fueled with teenage angst and the line "My Xbox is a god to me", this procession of youthful thoughts referencing school, anger, isolation and pornography was initially confusing but eventually it clicked that of course its conceptual and the subject weight is being expressed through the perspective of adolescence. Its quite dark and deals with the problems of youth in such a technologically charged society that causes its share of mental health problems in young people both connected and isolated through technology.

Behind it a continually unraveling flow of luscious instrumentation plays through its share of striking, memorable moments between lengthy, relaxing mellower periods. The most noticeable traits is the depth of sound behind the core instruments and the metallic tenancies that take over moments in these songs. At all times through this record synths, organs or strings can be heard layered in the backdrop, stepping forwards sometimes to enrich a climactic moment. There's a main direction to follow but always depth in the details these additional instruments add. The guitars on occasions dip into some heavy, sometime Djent guitar tones and heavy, crunching moments which personally felt dry as the other instruments drop out of focus for underwhelming, agressive grooves.

Despite a minor quibble this record is a striking effort, possibly their best investigating the critical acclaim of their discography. I do wonder if the title is a reference to Public Enemies 1990 record of the same name and on a final note the production quality of this record is practically flawless, sublime in all measures, a fine piece of work.

Rating: 9/10

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Black Sabbath "The End" (2016)


Black Sabbath, a legendary band that needs no introduction but if you happen to not know who these guys are you need to educate yourself, Sabbath are thee band that pioneered Heavy Metal with its most distinctive and lasting qualities in comparison to other bands, ie Led Zeppelin, that were pushing the Hard Rock boundaries at the time. Sabbath put out their self titled debut in 1970 and nothing has been the same since. The distortion guitar tone, the melodic yet doom and hellish atmosphere and Ozzy's remarkable voice shaped the future of Metal to come, having a listing influence on modern bands as well as inspiring the Doom Metal sub genre with "Master Of Reality". Much of Metal's history can be traced back to them and a string of fantastic records with singer Ozzy before his departure in 1979. "The End" is the group's final record, a short four track EP of leftovers from their last full length "13" released three years ago, one that I am guilty of not listening to yet. It's been 48 years since the group first formed, they leave behind a legacy that refuses to be forgotten and this is where the curtains close with the band doing their final round of shows this year.

For a collection of left overs "The End" is surprisingly solid record. The record opens with a thick, strong guitar tone laying down a tight groove at that slower, doomish, Sabbath pace. Ozzy's voice drops in as if It never ages, still youthful, on key and with his distinct tone in full force. The song goes through its seven minutes steadily with a set of riffs that play through a few repetitions in a simple song structure, Gezzer Butler also throwing in some snaky baselines to spice it up with some variety.

The other three tracks follow this rather straightforward song writing and "Take Me Home" adds in an inspired Spanish guitar lead to give a climactic moment it what is a very steady and consistently paced record. Its strengths are almost to a fault, the rigidity of the riffs playing over and over gets a touch stale with many listens but its undeniably a good collection of riffs and grooves that show these guys still have it. Of course nothing to beat the classics, but something you can get behind and rock out too!

Favorite Song: Isolated Man
Rating: 5/10

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Tory Town Poets "TTP" (2014)


Along with Kate Tempest this is another gift I received for Christmas. Its a short 18 minute spoken word piece, performance poetry enhanced with a few lingering sound effects to help set a tone. Poets Olmo Lazarus and Sioni Richards present us with food for thought through word and rhyme as they express their disenfranchised situations. Through topics of war, work, money, youth and suburban disillusionment we muse on their thoughts. The duo have similar styles and tone, complimenting one another from track to track with their deeper, common voices, spoken as if talking directly to you. With a silky flow of organic rhymes and sturdy pacing their words suck one in to the clear and cohesive narratives laid down around the points expressed. You can sense the emotion and anger, its behind calm and calculated expressions but the weight of each point hits home heavy and as the pace of delivery whizzes by as a whirl of mental activity stirs inside on the many observations and points touched on. Its a very socially oriented piece, relative to the human experience, as opposed to any political alignment or ideology, however the groups name may give you a sense of where their politics fall. Its short, rammed with substance and an expression to tune into for a touch of sanity.

Favorite Track: C.V.
Rating: 6/10

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Kanye West "The Life of Pablo" (2016)

 

After waves of internet hype and social media buzz, one of the worlds most popular artists drops his newest ambition exclusively through the unpopular, high fidelity Tidal streaming service. Its his eighth full length record and a distant memory of his illuminated arrival into the Hip Hop scene through record like "The College Dropout" and "Late Graduation". I was vaguely excited for this one, the promotional tracks were mediocre, my expectations were in the balance... but not what did we just get?

King Midas of Greek mythology comes to mind, everything he touches turns to gold and that's his curse. Unfortunately in Kanye's case everything he touches is not turning to gold, and he is oblivious to it. Yeezus gave us a taste of Kanye's growing ego, but on this record its stretches far beyond the over bloated, obnoxious lyrics, hollow and shameless for most of this recorded verses. The record itself shows no signs of a purpose or ambition. The records changing name, the last minute shuffling of tracks, adding an additional eight at just before release and using the outro track as an intro? Where is the idea, the inspiration, direction? It's all an apparent mess. "Name one genius that isn't crazy" says Kanye, I'm convinced he is talking about himself and this sporadic behavior is no work of art.

Track listening and last minute changes aside, its the music that counts and I'm sorry to say this was a sorely disappointing slue of unpolished and sporadic ideas that lacked flow, theme or identity. Instrumentally the beats felt average, they could hold a flow, decorate their environment and on occasions showed a spark of light but there was nothing here to challenge or surprise the listener. Lyrically... well Kanye open's with a few lines about a model bleaching herself? And well... Use your imagination, this record is a unfiltered onslaught of Kanye's over inflated ego going through some loathsome self indulgence. The track "I Love Kanye" seems like a love letter to himself, hes in love with himself, he loves hearing his own voice say his name... I'm poking fun, jokes aside I don't know the man but I want to hear some substance of thought and reflection, I don't care how many sneakers hes sold.

Alongside Kanye's raps there is a fair gripe of irritating autotune that I didn't get along with and I could go on moaning... so I will! Whats with the two Pablos? Which one? Picasso, Escobar? Perhaps this mad, directionless, unfiltered record is some brilliant expression of the obscure parallels between art and crime? There is no lyrical content to suggest it is tied in anyway to the title. I'm done, rant over.

Rating: 2/10

Monday, 15 February 2016

Abigail Williams "The Accuser" (2015)


American Black Metal band Abigail Williams has stormed through a catalog of band members in over a decade of history. Led by lasting front man Ken Bergeron, their forth full length record shows signs of stability for a band that's changed its identity a couple of times within the context of its genre. Formed as a Deathcore Black Metal crossover, Ken's true intentions have been made clear over the years having used the once popular Deathcore scene to kick start his bands career to a hungry audience. On their debut record the sound of the trending scene was lost to a lush Symphonic Black Metal sound, which has gradually shed its symphonies in favor of a rawer, darker sound.

"The Accuser" is an unfocused and messy onslaught of vicious black aggression. Furious blast beats and shredded tremolo picked guitars barrage the listener through a menacing, claustrophobic wall of noise. Dark, dingy and mammoth in scale the perpetual plunging is met with shrill hate filled screams and cries that bleed into the haze of sound. It can be uninviting for an already difficult sound and as one grows into the record its best moments are where it takes a moment to breath, slow down and try some different ideas from the atypical bludgeoning. The songs structures do enough to keep the record flowing but it does through flawed aggression that holds it back from the sparks that crop up between its hate fueled onslaught.

Its a rough, sloppy production, bleeding instruments and buried sounds don't aid the low fidelity aesthetic but through its glaring flaws, ie the imbalanced tom drum sound, it does find some charm, especially in the screams that are illuminated by their descent into the warmth of guitar distortions. As the album stretches on the diabolical-ism lets up for more interesting, atmospheric moments and the final track has to be the records best with a unique fusion of styles that offers some brilliance you wont find elsewhere. "Nuumite" lets reverb soaked acoustics moan out over oozing ethereal synths, like a cross between Ethereal Gothic Rock and Black Metal's "evil" quality. Its a stunning song, like a darker Lycia, lost in a swooning dark movement. Enjoyable but flawed record. I hope the final track defines a new sound for the next record, whenever it may be, but that is quite unlikely.

Favorite Song: Nuumite
Rating: 5/10

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Hüsker Dü "New Day Rising" (1985)


 This record peaked my interest when reading through several "Top 500" album lists. I'd never heard of this American Hardcore group before but given my interest in the genre I gave it a try. I'll be blunt, this record was not for me, the reason behind its high praise and acclaim alludes me and I'm left with a record that I've given months too and every time I give it a spin, I full into a lull, failing to engage. You can't expect to like everything and that always feel like a loss to me, a missed experience.

The record opens with its striking guitar sound, a thin, flat, buzzed out distortion tone tinging with an inharmonious quality floods the air. Its an uncomfortable vibration piercing through solid baselines and a tight powerful drum sound. On occasion it finds a moment with some well constructed riffs but for the most part falls flat on indulgence, its comparable to primitive Black Metal distortion, but not as appealing for me. To make things worse the vocals screech and yell off key, a rawness I'd usually go for but in this instance it made for sore ears. Voice cracks and miss hit notes are littered through the record, its got passion but I can't vibe with it.

The records production is pretty rough and varied too, many songs sound like they are from different sessions and some serve the record much better than the opener. The albums second song is a mighty fine track, showing off the bands ability to write catchy pop songs, unfortunately the aesthetics and performances strip many of the tracks of what is inherently good song writing, great choruses and sing along hooks, although this could only be said for a handful of tracks in the opening half. As the record drones on the musical ideas get less and less interesting and the guitar tone gets tiring.

Favorite Song: Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill
Rating: 3/10

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Shabba Ranks "Greatest Hits" (2001)


Who is Shabba Ranks? For me he is the definitive voice of reggae music, said from a perspective of ignorance. Reggae is a genre Ive never dabbled with much but of what its name conjures is this mans voice. Deep, rugged and slick his steady flow swoons smoothly through a thick textural dialect of slang and lingo in his strong Jamaican accent. I wonder if he is actually the artist that populates my mind from where Ive heard this music before, either way the story of how i found him is mildly amusing for a music nerd like myself. Its from A$AP Ferg's "Trap Lord" "Shabba", "Two gold rings like I'm sha-shabba ranks, sha-sha-shabba ranks" and listening to my favorite A Tribe Called Quest record and a few others I caught wind that Shabba Ranks was not some trendy slang but a person. So I proceeded to youtube for a pleasant surprise and before long picked up this collection of his best songs.

Listening to an artist wildly different from my norms was a lot of fun and I picked up on a few stylish distinctions about Shabba's music. On the instrumental front the songs vary in degrees between Reggea and Dancehall but on occasions come with a Hip Hop production style of sampled beats or even a 90s Dance track in "Mr. Loverman". Although not a proper record it helped to keep the record moving and feeling fresh while showcasing the appeal of his vocal presence which could easily extend further than these styles alone. "Ting-A-Ling" was a shiner, a big spacious track with minimal sounds alongside an already bare percussive backbone that shuffles snare and hi-hat between deep base kicks that sparingly kick to emphases the the undying flow of Shabba's indecipherable word play. He notably won a Grammy for the record this lead single was from.

So who would I be kidding if I were to talk about the lyrical content? No one. It will take a fair amount of time before I learn to decode Mr. Ranks's lingual annunciations but in the mean time I am enjoying the persuasive nature of his sizable verbal presence. The shifts in delivery, pace tone don't come to often but as long as I don't leave it on repeat I can enjoy his voice and the instrumentals for the seventy minutes that make up an impressive highlight of his career in music, of which he's been silent with since.

Favorite Tracks: Mr. Loverman, Ting-A-Ling, Rough Life, Roots & Culture, Shine Eye Gal, Twice My Age
Rating: 6/10

Friday, 12 February 2016

Dead Can Dance "The Serpent's Egg" (1988)


Following up on the riveting "Aion" we take a step back to Australian duo Dead Can Dance's forth record released two years prior. The band are still in their recreational spirit, creating inspired, immersible atmospheres conjuring nostalgia of ancient civilizations and our mankind from a different time. The record plays in two halves and opens with a song that is surely their magnum opus. A low organ hums under Gerrard's voice pouring with emotion and strength, the quiet crashing of drums creeps in underneath and after a short pause we are whisked into an overwhelming moment of beauty and sorrow. Divine strings enter and illuminate her voice to another level, its a moment that resists all doubt.

Unfortunately this moment of genius overshadows what is an underwhelming record in comparison to "Aion". Having taken the time to listen to it again I find a portion of songs in this track listing fall flat of their ambition to captivate. Maybe a touch on the minimal side, or perhaps Ive just experienced my share of this medieval music, either way the songs not listed below didn't grab me like the ones that are. Its an album of two halves, in two different ways. On one hand theirs an inconsistency to reach the soaring height set by the opener, on the other a record with two distinct vibes.

The first five tracks have the familiar medieval theme ripe with biblical organs, bells and chants. The second half, starting with "Chant Of The Paladin" shifts gears to an exotic, Mediterranean sound. Starting a touch dry at first the last two songs invoke mesmerizing rhythmic melodies around eerie synths conjuring images of fire, sands and Arabian mysticism. "Ullyses" is an luminescent finale, treating us to swift melodies and linear emotional progressions led by Perry's sentimental vocal presence. As a whole it has some weak moments but also produces a few on the bands best songs, well and truly worth your time, for the opening track alone.

Favorite Songs: The Host Of Serphim, In The Kingdom Of The Blind The One-Eyed Are Kings, Mother Tounge, Ulyses
Rating: 6/10

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Jan Amit "Hyms" (2015)


Inspired by "Flowertraces" and unimpressed with "Around And Above" I see Jan as an artist who's vision doesn't fall inline with the quirks of his unique identity that makes his music enjoyable for me. This short EP was a mixed bag of fruits not yielding into anything solid but showcasing a few ideas. The opener is a short atmospheric track of dark unsettling eeriness, a soundscape painting the aftermath of an oblivion event with electronic glitches devising the voices of alien insectoids. Its opening moments strangely reminiscent of Burzum's "Svarte Troner", a creepy dark ambient piece.

"Enter Faceless" follows and its an atypical track of Jan's style. Glitched out spacious beats hurtle over dark, illusive ambient noises that drift in and out of focus. It follows the darker theme and with a break for fresh air in the middle it drops back into itself for a second run that leads to no climatic or significant moment. The next track shakes up the formula with some strong House and Downtempo influences forging deep looping dance grooves and simplistic linear notation leads, droning over and over while featured artist Quork lists he hates through a morphed voice that gets buried into the groove on "Flaming Youth".

The records closer "Mass" tickles the ear drum with more alien sounds, wet slippery glitches slap and sway with a watery tone over a vanilla baseline before jumping into glitched out breaks over more void like ambient noises. Once again it feels like it doesn't amount to much, I'm left with what I expected, interest in the aesthetics, atmosphere and glitched approach in the rhythmic department but disappointed with the lack of progression or direction in the songs and their structures.

Rating: 4/10

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Savages "Adore Life" (2016)


London based group Savages are Post-Punk four piece band who were put on my radar by Henry Rollins. Ive already heard reviews that this record isn't on par with their debut released three years ago but this is where I wanted to start. A fair few songs from this record were played at a concert I watched on youtube. That alone convinced me there was something special about this band who labeled as "Post-Punk revival" have the sound and spirit of that era coursing through all aspects of their music, with exception to the recording quality that makes no attempt to downgrade the fidelity.

This record comes across in tones of grey, deep dark blues and browns, muted colors that reflect the records pale and grim tone. Bleak and distant on the outside much energy, life and charisma rumbles within and flourishes through the dark, drab walls they are contained within. Its a unique chemistry of contrast and subversion, like a limbo or purgatory suspended between two states. This feeling runs through the entire record which is brimming with identity and originality as not a passing moment feel stale or repetitive. Its organic and in a state of perpetual growth.

The group approach their respective instruments like weapons of noise with whaling feedback loops used for atmosphere, crashing thunderous distortions and the sounds of pick sliding down the strings soaked in reverb paint dense atmospheres. A simple riff isn't enough and beside the guitars expanded sound the baselines rock hard with bold, rumbling, burgeoning lines that make there-self known at every moment. To often in music the base mirror guitars but not here where we get the fullest extent of the base holding its own ground and being a crucial part of how the songs come together.

The drums are equally in a creative air, each moment interesting and inventive. The kits sound lacks reverb which works well against the mammoth guitars and the snare compression gives the harder rolls some serious punch and power. In front of it all singer Jehnny Beth brings a subdued attitude through her soft voice with a delivery that doesn't strive for big notes or showoff theatrics but finds a poetic, artistic expression with the occasional scream buried under the other instruments. On "Surrender" she shows her range with a passionate delivery for a memorable hook on the records best song. "Adore Life" is stunning for its variety, consistency and characteristics that demand a full play through from the listener, which each song offering up something you cant pass on.

Favorite Song: Surrender
Rating: 8/10

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Between The Buried And Me "Coma Ecliptic" (2015)


This post will be short and sweet.. Or short and bitter? Its been about a month or so since I last gave this one a listen and I still find myself emotionally distant from it and that's a real shame. Between The Buried And Me are an American Progressive Metal band from North Carolina who just under a decade ago transitioned from a generic Metalcore, Deathcore band to into a Progressive outfit that made waves with the release of 2007's "Colors". With shades of their Metalcore days lingering the band have been sharpening their tools over the years and producing better and better records, refining their sound. I was excited when the release of "Coma Ecliptic" was announced and its been quite the disappointment.

I could comment on the intricacies that make up the compositions, the details in the aesthetics and instruments but it would all be in vein as little of is inspired by the events that transpire through this seventy minute Prog fest. There's a plentiful amount of transitions between the chugging heavy guitars and lighter melody led leads with a a whole host of playful music ideas in between. They move from one to the next and between a couple of swooning moments there's very little to connect with. It all feels a touch uninspired, mediocre and like a band going through the motions. There's nothing to be found that's unexpected or jumping out of the speakers to grabs you. I don't know where the passion is, and often it drifted off into the distance, unable to hold my attention. There's nothing offensive here, plenty to nod along with but it left no lasting mark past one or two leads or vocals. Disappointed but I don't fault the band, I just couldn't connect with this one.

Rating: 4/10

Friday, 5 February 2016

Kauan "Sorni Nai" (2015)


Browsing the catalogs of record label Blood Music, which I found through Dan Terminus, I could not miss the praise that was being lavished onto this record. Having fallen in love with it, I can firmly say its justified and possibly the best record I'll hear this year. Doing a little research on the record today I have learned its based on the Dyatlov Pass incident, an unsolved, mysterious death for a group of seasoned snow hikers who lost their lives in Soviet Russia 1959 during the hike. Learning of the records inspiration has added a new sense of clarity to the events and moods the record drifts through. I could always hear its voice, but now I know of the tale it cry's. Unsurprisingly the band are Russian, however the bands name is Finnish for "A Long Time". It's their sixth full length and the bands maturity shines bright on this stunningly crafted piece of music.

Sorni Nai is a serene and lush journey to experience as these pale soundscapes calmly sway through inspired leads and indulging atmospheres of the beautiful cold. With the pace of Doom Metal and atmosphere of Post-Rock the record finds a blissful balance in slow suspended states for gorgeous musical moments to erupt and blossom from. Dense guitar tones meld and fade under sensuous choral synths the paint the winds with pale colors for melodies to dance through. The record can smoothly shift between its lighter moments and Black Metal inspired darkness with snarly, contained screams and ripening of distortion guitars when the times call for it. Every moment this record experiences us with is a continuation of the previous moment, even the tracks seamlessly transition, barely noticeable as another natural shift occurs, changing and turning through its deep inspiration.

And now for my favorite moment in the record. In "At" we hear the cries of a native spoken woman, her words carry much emotion under a beautiful piano melody and I now believe she represents the female hiker on the expedition. This slightly tragic moment leads us into the records dark and evil moment which now I know represents the unknown death these souls faced in freezing cold temperatures. The swaying hums and acoustic guitar fades into black as a crunching guitar penetrates the silence with its unwelcome presence, striking out with force. Hellish synths eerily descend with a menacing tone and before you know it the most theatrical moment paces into a melodic, unsettling limbo.

Its a brilliant moment that is also one of the most indifferent in what the album offers, but it summarizes the genius at work throughout. Its stunning, rich in atmosphere and littered with magic as we drift through the snowy, frozen mountains of mother Russia. Its inspiration could be felt through the music alone and I love it even more now I know the tale behind this brilliant record I have been enjoying continuously for weeks. Its hard to call a 10. It takes time, but I feel with age ill grow to love it more and more.

Favorite Track: Khot
Rating: 9.5/10

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Incubus "Make Yourself" (1999)


Browsing through my collection a record caught my eye, one Ive maybe barely thought of in the last decade. In the midst of Nu-Metals rise Incubus dropped this fine record that brought the healthier traits of its sound to an inviting Alternative Metal style rich in a colorful tone with a plentiful helping of melodies and sing along vocals. It was American rocker's Incubus third full length and one I don't think I gave it enough praise at the time of its release. Its quite remarkable to spin this one again and find the words fresh in my mind, I found myself singing along with Boyd's infectious approach.

With tinges of Pop Rock and Punk Rock they almost come across like an atypical band of the time, however the constant waves of bright and colorful melodic accents give their music an inviting depth. Between the bouncy, heavy guitars that lead the way they drop in to fill the music with a gentle vibrance the distortion guitars don't offer. There's plenty of decent, mosh friendly, Nu Metal riffage, even some vinyl scratching thrown in over the break down moments but its counterpart is what makes the all difference in raising the bar. From a perspective of how this record has aged, its the dropped tuning guitar distortion and DJ scratching that feels tired, but the rest is brimming bright.

Aesthetics aside, where the record really finds itself is in its spirit, message and purpose. In retrospect there's a lot of deep and thoughtful substance to introspect. As the title says, "Make Yourself" and a lot of whats discussed through the lyrics are fantastic for a young person to engage with. Positive, considerate and critical, Boyd's lyrics avoid the teenage angst you might except in favor of strong, rational messages of introspection and using ones mind to think about whats going on. At a couple of moments he needless cuts the mood with some unnecessary swearing which I'm not opposed to but in this case it took the edge of the spirit in favor aggression. Listening back to these lyrics I wonder how much they impacted me as a lot of it feels quite relevant to me now.

Favorite Songs: Privilege, Nowhere Fast, Drive, Battlestar Scralatchtice, Pardon Me
Rating: 8/10