Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Sigh "Heir To Despair" (2018)

Many years on from the epic of Imaginary Sonicscape, Japanese band Sigh still can't seem to find a footing and direction that is entirely concrete. This year around they echo some hall marks of their classic record with morphed voices and unusual fusions of cultural roots but the collision of ideas under a Black Metal flag is all to haphazard. The album puts its foot in mouth with the second track, a possible tribute that plays like a blatant Iron Maiden rip off in its intro and outro. Although the track is mostly composed of furious riffing and blazing guitars, its stiff jump to the Ace's High riff just sets an odd tone for a record that lacks focus.

Its a guitar oriented record, the fretwork constantly winding with grooves, pinch harmonics and chugs all with a distinct distortion tone. The musics motion generally pivots on its energy, which Mirai Kawashima electrifies with his shrill, snarly and raspy shouts. Not always a welcoming presences, his narrow range is often stretched, sounding thin and weak. Its aggressive elements play up against native sounds, the Taishogoto, flute, piccolo, other woodwind instruments chime in meekly. Its even got a few unorthodox percussive sounds for a Metal band. They all seem to arrive out of turn, a complimenting addition often overpowered by the drums and guitars. The opening track however finds a balance, giving much light to its unusual side.

Three part track Heresy revives their electronic experimental ideas from the aforementioned Imaginary Sonicscape but not to much avail. It opens with its best and goes off on a tangent of unfinished ideas and noise oddities. The last song, clocking in over ten minutes, has great flow and scale but once again hails back to their classic, resurrecting a section from Requiem Nostalgia that should of just stayed there. Its been enjoyable to hear Sigh's sound again but there is little direction or focus here, just another hash of ideas that relys on their tropes and unique fusion of sounds.

Rating: 4/10
Favorite Tracks: Aletheia, Heir To Despair

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Tool "Ænima" (1996)

Three years on from their burly debut Undertow, American outfit Tool make dynamic strides forward. In scale, atmosphere and dynamism Ænima goes further inwards and beyond their horizons, helping us to all seventy eight minutes available to CD format of that time. These lengthy songs takes their time, meandering in a madness that lays beyond. After its first three songs, each track is broken up with some form of interlude, a few of which are rather fascinating. So far I have found Tool to be a strange band to decipher, its a slow process but that strangeness is now starting to seem like whats to be embraced. Its all so obvious now, as the analytic mind turn on, the signs light up.

More so than before do these songs unfold like abstract emotional journeys. Playing with loud-quiet dynamics, the group craft songs with a keen ear for atmospheres which can stir the mood and dip toes into psychedelic realms before they so often erupt with groove and aggression. Once again its Keenan's shouts and groans that seem to resonate most with these outbursts as his words reach their pinnacle at the crux of the musical momentum. It is perhaps the brittle and stale, buzzing guitar tone that withdraws what should be obvious. Riffs crafted with precision and cohesion that's just unlike other bands of the time... or anything Ive heard. They just have an edge in that department that feels blunted by a grisly and chromatic production style.

 When the temperament is calmer, with an often unsettling demeanor, these guitar bends do resonate sweetly but that is just a personal preference. The drums play straight in heavy sections but conjure its share of atmosphere, guiding the direction exquisitely. Keenan gives a lot of emotional clout to the music, his frustrations and musings delineates much of the upheaval and unrest the compositions hold in their peering to the darkness that lurks in the shadows of every song. Even in its boldest of scenic passings does the mood not feel far from a strange madness, even the unleashing of roaring intensity does not go all the way in to that which stirs beyond.

This darkly bizarre side of this record lays itself bare on a handful of its many interlude tracks. Experiments in noise from the electric zaps and interstellar storms of Ions, to a babies needing cries, drowned out by alien buzzing and flickering voices on Cesaro Summability. Die Eier Von Satan stands stark apart from anything else at work as a commanding, domineering German voice recites a recipe for baking cookies as if at a Nuremberg rally. Its a fine piece of paranoid Martial Industial but feels more like a cheap trick more so than any true insight into historical prejudices, the song is of course fantastically string, as well as a haunting reminder of the perils of man.

The record comes to a close with a snippet of the then recently deceased Bill Hicks to tie noisy synth experiments into a lengthy epic closer of psychedelic exploration that ends with the alarming cries of "prying open my third eye" over and over. The bands ability to hold and progress a moment really shines and ends the record on one hell of a bang. I still feel like there is deeper to go with this record but I can firmly see the excellence and praise music fans heap on this band is showing. It will take longer for me but I am enjoying the process and eagerly awaiting Lateralus.

Favorite Tracks: Stinkfist, H, Forty Six & 2, Jimmy, Die Eier Von Satan, Third Eye
Rating: 8/10

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Bring Me The Horizon "Amo" (2019)

Ive been highly anticipating Bring Me The Horizon's return since their monumental That's The Spirit, a modern day Hybrid Theory. Its unsurprising to hear the band further move into the Pop realm, the continual direction shift is fruitful and exciting. Inviting larger synth elements of EDM and Electropop in to subtly tune out their distortion guitars in places, they manage to retain an intensity and heaviness associated with the band. Its the songwriting that triumphs once again as infectious catchy hooks take hold center stage in much of the music. Oli is a huge component to its achievement, taking his voice to many harmonious places with many infectious lyrics. Amo is a logical move forward but perhaps not quite at the same grade.

BMTH certainly have a finger on the pulse of current music and an uncanny ability to evolve their sound and infuse these fresh Electronic and Pop ideas. The transition is utterly seamless and its broadened pallet of sounds gives a depth to the experience as key songs stick out with a defining character. Title track Amo and Mother Tounge pulls in 90s Dance pianos and punchy strings for a Pop epics that spans the decades. Mantra, Wonderful Life and Sugar Honey Ice & Tea, bring in sonic seven string guitar groves in the choruses offset by lighter overdrives between. Interlude pieces Fresh Bruises and Ouch dive into some flavored Glitch Hop passageways and only Nihilist Blues sounds behind the curb with a synth sound reminiscent of 009 Sound System.

Its mostly dense and detailed music, cramming many instruments and complimenting electronic tones into the available space, scaling its richness with the ebb and flow of the music which graces between its fluffy, light pop and crunching grooves, both between songs and within them too. Its A dynamic record with a depth of variety and detail for the ears but with many listens the edge is taken off its less focused and atmospheric leaning compositions that slow the stream. Amo is ultimately a great transition for the group, a strong strive forward but moving from one peak to another they loose a little in the quantity of killer tunes. That's The Spirit was a riot from start to end and Amo drifts of on differen't avenues, intensities and styles that breaks up its magic for periods. The variety is great but not each approach is triumphed.

Favorite Tracks: Mantra, Sugar Honey Ice & Tea
Rating: 7/10

Friday, 8 February 2019

Warpaint "Warpaint" (2014)

It took not but a few songs to be overcome with the feeling of adoration. I knew that this record would be enjoyed immensely and serve as a "go too" for a mood alteration, much like a Fever Ray or Feel It Break. Now that I make those comparisons I realize how much Dream and Art Pop vibes are on display. Initially I felt Post-Punk moods from the warm pulsing baselines that patrol and measured drum patterns. Those moments arise in due time but a lot of the record goes into a luscious Ethereal tangent. Either way its stirring up my favorite ingredients in the musical pot.

Warpaint are a four piece outfit from Los Angeles who I had not encountered before a recommendation for this self titled record, which is their second. Its a scenic collection of tracks with calm, soothing indulgences of the dreamy and slightly psychedelic variety that shuffle into bursts of hurried and pushed temperaments that create a slight tension and unease, mainly enforced by pulsing, filling baselines and drums with a sharp edge to cut through. The contrast does much for the records flow as it mostly musters its way through different measures of a similar medium.

With everyone pitching in vocals, the music is constantly graced by soft effeminate singing, layered and harmonious. Both are complimentary and crucial too the dreamy persuasions the music sways through. Its key melodies are often bare but illusive, drifting into the wash of sounds and occasionaly jumping up front to great effect like at the beginning of Biggy. With attentive ears one can dress down the foggy, reverberated sounds and hear quite a keen and straight forward arrangements of looping melodies that may have not been as charming without this merging setting.

Although I have really enjoyed the record, it is mostly its tone, mood and setting that I adore, a sign of becoming more at home with these Dream Pop and Ethereal styles. Its charm is more so with my want for this sound. It is undoubtedly a strong, consistent record but all its songs are suspended between good and great, never quite leaping off the page so to speak. It has many fond, engrossing passageways but none that quite peak the senses. Either way I have enjoyed it and will seek out more!

Favorite Tracks: Love Is To Die, Biggy, Disco
Rating: 7/10

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Cane Hill "Kill The Sun" (2019)

The year is off to a fantastic start as we follow up on Puppy's The Goat with an alarmingly different and brilliant EP from the Deathcore and Nu Metal inspired Cane Hill. A change in direction? Or a one off? Either way there is no doubting the exuberant experience that awaits as the band bring out Americana tones and influences to fuse traditional song writing with modern electronic aesthetics for emotionally charged sound that stands mightily tall. Only a single song musters distortion guitar for a brief period, bar the enigmatic use of lead guitars. This total shift in style lands the rockers in an strange place, echoing the glory of the 90s Alternative music scene, while pacing forward with an engulfing dreamy overtone.

Serine acoustic guitars with a country tang find themselves plucking smooth licks accompanied by slow, electronic, reverb soaked percussive lines. Its indulgent, degrees of synthesized details wage in the distant spaces. Save Me gets a beautiful inclusion of pianos alongside the acoustic foray. It is singer Elijah Witt who illuminates the already gleaming instrumentals with a performance to roll back the years and give reminiscence to many great singers of that era. Acid Rain in particular has strong Layne Staley vibe, the lyrics too as they dive into drug reliance. It is no disservice, his singing is charming, inviting and resonating with emotions, a peak on the summit.

Another fond aspect of the music its its swaying into briefly esoteric and Ethereal vibes that its steady and measured drum loops build structure for. The use of compounding reverbs and subtle synths organically weave in between traditional components with a fulfilling chemistry. The last track gets particularly into these experiments with a lively drum performance leading the music into darkly, ambiguous electronic madness. It closes the record as the sound rolls and rumbles into a cacophony of crazy. Its intense and that intensity Metal heads have is found elsewhere in climatic moments that take the gentle tunes and raise the tension with drums and guitar leads chiming in to expand the depth.

I can't flaw a thing with this project other than wondering why this is just six tracks? As a full album I believe it could contend for accolades and a place in the hearts of music fans for years to come. It really is striking just how natural and matured this sound is for them. It might be a side project but could easily be a main focus for them. I'm aware of many bands making heavy music but not so many with an edge like this! I hope I get to see this live at some time, I imagine it will be magic!

Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Future "Future" (2017)

This post may be brief since I never intended on covering this record. I simply have to comment on what a quintessential example of Trap this is, for both the good and the bad. Future is an Atlanta rapper, once part of the Dungeon Family collective associated with southern legends Outkast. I've heard him mentioned with the roots and origins of the now massively popular Trap sound of Rap music. This album is the first of his Ive heard, at first mistaking a track for the Migos. It banged hard tho, for all that is formulaic, routine and factory about the music, through it the hypnotic inducing vibes resonate. In one mood its illuminating and in another can be utterly tedious.

Its seventeen tracks have nothing between them that elevates the formula at work. Its a production line to churn out tracks with all the hallmarks of the trendy sound, tight shuffling Trap beats with all the typical hi hat tones and snaps. The deep bass hits bang under an assembly of instruments playing short melodies on loop. They conjure a mood for Future to Mumble Rap his way to heaven with the common flows and quirks like "skeet skeet" and other goofy noises between the lines. His voice and back up tracks become another layer of sound, the inflections and auto tune constantly swaying. His verses a blur of recycled rhymes that require attention to decipher.

When focusing on those lyrics little of interest bar a reference to Southern legend Master P arose to me. Much of the content is materialistic and embodying the worst stereotypes. At times excessive use of tropes makes one wonder how much of this record is self aware? Some of the skits are utterly hilarious and for the most part this record bangs and rumbles the Trap vibes but as said above it becomes easily dissect-able when you've had enough of the groove. Future does sneak some great hooks in there but its the rhythm that wins me over as his words are just too slurred. Its a love hate record but I don't take it that seriously. If I'm in the mood for mumbling and trap beats it absolutely bangs with crazy dark and esoteric vibes.

Rating: 6/10

Friday, 1 February 2019

Lil Peep "Come Over When You’re Sober Pt. 2" (2018)

I was very keen to get into this record after enjoying Pt. 1. Ive grown rather fond of Lil Peep and his "Emo Rap". He reminds me fondly of youthful attitudes, his angle of expression is an inevitability of obvious influences converging in a modern era of connectivity. From what I can tell, this record was assembled posthumously. With lots of unfinished material left behind, producers Smokeasac and IIVI put together another album of the same tone, feeling and theme however its twice in length with thirteen cuts.

Both producers worked with him on the first project however this one is a notably sharper product. The song structures are rooted in a popular format, the beats are tidy and everything feels well formulated. Its another collection of shuffling trap percussive arrangements and emotive, melancholic guitars to create stiring, dark, introspective atmospheres. The temperament is very much an extension of the first record, tightly tuned with no artistic progression given the situation. Part two is a fitting title.

Unsurprisingly Lil Peep is again a lonely and troubled figure on this record. His plain language shapes up with sharper poetry in some of the hooks. His lyrics are mostly direct, flavored by profanity and fueled by his pains, giving a intimate window into his life at times. Each song has its seasoning and his approach to the memorable Life Is Beautiful as sadly entrenched with sarcasm. Its dark, depressing but the expression is wonderful as his bitter sweet is birthed into musical art.

The whole project flows with a very steady consistency that does let any favorites leap out. The last few tracks always seem to leap out at me though. The darkly, esoteric strummed guitar tune in the backdrop reminds me fondly of the sort of acoustic break you might hear on a Metal record. In fact the guitars are a continual source of pleasure. Great record, notably more "pop" and loses out on the impact of the first album but ends on a very high note with its best numbers.

Favorite Tracks: White Girl, Falling Down, Sunlight On Your Skin
Rating: 7/10