Wednesday, 8 December 2021
Monday, 6 December 2021
Don't be fooled, the oddly Gothic, Danzig alike album cover doesn't accurately reflect the emotive suburban vibes this group emanate. Can't Swim are my personal antidote to the Emo / Screamo scenes I turned a nose up at in my youth. These millennial musicians revive the glory of their past years, bringing musical maturity to their first world, woe ridden lyrics. With poppy song structures, catchy hooks and a melodic tint to garnish, Change Of Plans is the bands third but sadly the least impressive, possibly a case of familiarity as the band stick firmly to what works with a little twist of anger.
With Pop-Punk themes of adversity lacking troubles. Social squabbles, relationship woes and self doubts, the lyrics play from a light hearted teenage place with just a sprinkle of maturity. These are adult problems expressed with the lens of youthful angsty ideas that sway it far enough from perils. Its left in a precarious place where you can leave or take it. Personally Its not a bother but bar one or two lines I didn't find much to connect with, however the delivery and honesty in LoPorto's vocals is charming. The vulnerability and self coddling style is endearing, often manifesting into a hook with a knack to make his words catchy and flow with the groove.
The music is carved up into the typical inflections, lots of moody melodic plucked acoustic chords that bleed into vibrant distortion tones with all degrees wedged in between. Most these songs have a layer of aggression that sways back and forth from its guitars. Its not to adventurous, sticking to typical song structures and compositions with plenty of bright, harmonious singing. The point would be that they do this so well.
Where things detour is with a stronger sense of Hardcore and breakdown energy which the genre is adjacent too. On three or four tracks they step into this space boldly, not something I remember from their previous records. Better Luck Next Time and its jaunting breakdown goes full in on the aggression with palm mute chugs and tropes from the more metallic end of the spectrum. Sense Of Humor and its "Look who's laughing now" lyric slaps another breakdown in a track It doesn't feel fit for.
Whats interesting is how well executed these ideas are, the problem is they don't fit the overall mood which tends to be more introspective and mall shop sorrows than anger fueled resolution. A couple other songs have a breakdown stitched on the end and whenever it comes around, it feels like a sudden shift. Despite this jarring union of ideas, Change Of Plans is solid with plenty of catchy tunes. Its one to throw into the shuffle playlist and see what sticks with time.
Wednesday, 1 December 2021
Wholly impressed by the new Caves & Cliffs soundtrack, I set out to discover more about Lena Raine's music. Celeste has been one heck of a place to start! I've never touched, or even seen the original game. Having now built up a world of emotions absorbing its soundtrack, an interesting experience awaits me if ever I explore the source of inspiration for such this mesmerizing music. She has struck me as a musician with a voice that's unique, a niche that will take much time and many records to decipher. Just taking my first steps, I'm sure it will be another wonderful journey.
Aligning glossy pristine pianos with buzz saw synths vaguely reminiscent of chip tune aesthetics and an assortment of virtual instruments, Lena flirts with the joys of digital imagination and fantasy with the real emotions they can evoke. The deep feels are first felt on First Steps. The lush piano and swirling synth melodies allure and blossom with a swell of reversing base synth that just elevates everything already heard to a magical place. Following up with a nine minute epic, Resurrections builds steadily to an end section of bustling percussion dancing melody that is entrancing every time.
From here a meaty mountain of music follows, totaling one hundred minutes of scenic songs flowing back and forth to its main theme with a few short transitional sequences between. The first stretch of songs bar the opening three drift into dark places. Scattered And Lost ushers in eerie horror melodies and upheavals of frantic drumming, quite the maniac vibes in brief moments. Anxiety pushes hard with its unsettling siren like synths and deep brooding saw waves before it collapses into a place beyond the pale, the soothingly sombre space of pain and suffering past by.
With Madaline And Theo we come out on the other side, ready to encounter the main theme again along with some seriously lively and ambitious instrumentation. It swaying from calm ambiences to busy, bustling layers of synth and animated percussion is wonderful, all with an emotional narrative that leads me to think this game is heavily story driven. With an eleven minute epic, Reach For The Summit, we are pulled into the final stretch as its big thematic swells leads us to satisfying, conclusive vibes with a teary, solemn ending played out through My Dearest Friends.
As a record, Celeste is a journey, a tale, an adventure, a remarkable one too! Its most impressive aspects are found in the busy and at times cluttered compositions that do not shy away from complexity or abrasion. It navigates them remarkably, holding onto a core theme and always having fantastical melody and direction at its side. Best of all its progressive song writing style keeps the music evolving and unraveling as even returning melodies and themes get reworked, told again through multiple lenses. Through all this the wonderment, adventure and emotional siring never ceases! Its quite remarkable.
Tuesday, 30 November 2021
Following up on the first part of Krewe De La Mort, American Nu Metal revivalists Cane Hill return with two more reasonable songs for the arsenal. So far the best I've heard of this band was when deviating from the norm, with their Alice In Chains inspired Kill The Sun EP. Volume 2 stays on track, delivering high octane Metal. Bolstering massive Djent riffs, groove syncopation and a textural layer of Electro-Industrial noise, its quite the throttling force that comes with a sensitive side.
This time around it feels like vocalist Elijah Witt gets to lead the way with his burly yet introspective voice. Blood & Honey kicks things off with boombastic riffs and ridiculous low end guitar noise. His screams and shouts forgettable but its the pivot to energetic clean vocals that bless both tracks. He infuses the song with a wonderful melodic character, amplified by clean guitar notes gleaming in the instrumental behind him. Its a busy track but that focal point makes it work, the lyrics carrying weight too.
Busting in with roaring, triumphant Heavy Metal guitar solos, both tracks emanate "Festival Metal" vibes fit for a big outdoor stage. The following Bleed When You Ask Me goes even harder on the guitar grooves. The metallic dissonance tends to wash away into a noisy backdrop with Elijah doing all the heavy lifting. His voice forges a path through a racket of thumping syncopation. Without him this would of been dull.
Saturday, 27 November 2021
Last Christmas I experienced the magical resonance of a sparkling wintry record, Endless Summer. On the heals of that excitement I leaped upon this latest release. What I've found is far from that beauty and spirited charm. As implied in its name and powerful album art, Mother Melancholia wallows in the pains of an eternal attachment to a melancholy Soley explores with her music. This time the construct is sparse and atmospheric. Little inklings of song, blossoms out of the darkness with chilling piano melodies fading into bleak elongated ambiences aligned with hints of deviousness on tracks like Parasite and Elegia.
There are scarce moments of warmth but Soley mostly sings with shyness from a vulnerable place. Accompanied by lonely brooding instrumentation the record often feels sad and lost, as if wandering through limbo for an eternity. Many of the compositions leads to swells as the gentle atmospheres steadily gather gusto. The devilishly slow and sluggish Blows Up has a grabbing two note guitar riff to conclude the progress. Its so apt and timely as much of the record is with its aesthetic and musical choices. Many ideas play out to a point.
Mother Melancholia is a fine record, bravely exploring despairing lonely spaces and other degrees of human sorrow. Where it falters is perhaps in the listeners mood. Contented to relax and absorb, then its a fine experience but its charm is a calm current to gently drift with. There isn't a lot to jump to for hits of excitement and skipping around the track listing reveals a lot of lengthy ambiences. A fine but fair record. I do like the darkly mourning of Soley's performances but without a counterpart, it does feel hard to get excited about in its persistent gloominess.
Friday, 26 November 2021
This record found me in my lowest point of recent years. Sick with double ear infections, a lot of music was discernible and difficult to digest, even if I knew it already! Just as more frequencies were slowly returning, this soft, warm and airy set of songs crossed my path at the perfect time. My initial wonderment was heightened by the days of ill health prior. Since its charm has waned but their is no doubt The Candlelight Tomes has a flavor distinct from the norms of decrepit Dungeon Synth.
Reminiscent of Lord Lovidicus's melodic evolution, Gelure moves to the light, seeking light and warmth through its perpetual haze of angelic choral chants that uplift the tone at every turn. It does so while retaining a classic sense of nostalgia and ancient mystery. Its beautiful pallet of wondrous synth instruments are mixed well with enough fogginess to disguise the mechanical performance of its likely VSTs.
Initially the aesthetic is preformed with a meandering direction. Mood setting and atmosphere the initial result. The Bygone Hall Of The Tower Of Wailing Moons introduced medieval melody akin to Fief and some bombast with deep percussive tom drums. Its a direction that doesn't yield anything special. Frostcrown Of The Ice Meadow on the other hand uses its drums to crawl at a dreary pace. Its chilling, icy synths and lonely meandering melodies remind me of Lycia's Darkwave classic Cold.
The following songs exchange between these two derivatives without a sense of something unique. The point I am trying to land, is the promise of its initial two songs. They had quite the chemistry, simple in composition with the potential to manifest into something larger, instead the following songs felt all to similar for a seasoned Dungeon Synth explorer. I love this genre but the common theme of late seems to be initial excitement that dissipates into a familiarity. Some freshness Is what I seek.
Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Released in March of this year, this attempted behemoth of Death Metal disgust, Necro Sapiens, managed to slip under my radar! In previous efforts I've described Bæst as the Danish Bloodbath for similarities musically but more notably for the dense guttural roars of Simon Olsen which mirror that of legend Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth.
At forty four minutes this third record has felt like a meaty affair on every occasion. Its search of grandeur ever-present as grueling themes play out with an unrelenting intensity. Reaching for the epic, its march of brutality is a grinding one. The music gasps for breaths of air while strangulated by the demonic roars of Olsen who drowns out any melodic refrains to lighten the tone. That intensity seemingly holding it back.
As so often a Death Metal record does, an arsenal of riffs is lined up for assault. Necro Sapiens deploys all forms, from evil melodic inflections to slamming pummels of chugging palm mutes with all in between. The bad news is the lack of originality or freshness. At this point in a stagnant genre, the ideas have all been heard before and the arrangements in search of greatness seemed to fall ill of its own medicine.
I can hear the vision, a careful composition of riffs exchanging brutality and dramatic themes with its unruly lyrics peering into wretched biblical filth of angels and demons and the scourge of humanity. Its all to be expected however it just doesn't click! I'm left with nowhere to point for an excuse, the performance and execution is excellent, the record sounds wonderfully rich and powerful yet with every listen these songs fail to muster that adrenaline charged excitement. I'm left wondering is it me or the music?
Sunday, 21 November 2021
This context has given me a greater respect for the record but before learning of this, I was somewhat dulled by it, having anticipated a more adventurous set of songs. Instead its a grueling journey of pale sorrow, a defeated human spirit trapped in perpetual misery, drifting from place to place with no uplift insight. The occasional swells of dark and menacing music gives a sense of seeing the horrors, carcasses piled high and the burning of bodies, a particularly grim endurance for any soul.
Without the context, these aesthetics gave me strong cosmic vibes. Atmospheric synthetic strings and meandering saw wave melodies painted the astral skies at night. Thus initially it reminded me more so of Grimrik. There is also a ghostly wobbling synth instrument suggestive of cheesy old school horror soundtracks. Because of this it all felt a bit empty, set in the vacuum of space with an eternally drifting nature. I've come to enjoy it more now, the ending of Det Tabte Slag being a memorable note as it descends into gristly and unsettled territory but otherwise I could of passed this one by.
Wednesday, 17 November 2021
I don't recall ever hearing a record so suited to being labeled a Burzum inspiration. Right from the offset its distinct Casio keyboard tones resemble that lonely spell cast by classic Tomhet. The second song then does a remarkable job emulating the timeless gristly low-fi guitar tone that made Filosofem. The heart of this seven track record seems magnetized by the vision Varg had, with his searingly disparate and oddly spiritual music. Both with the chilling cold aggression of Black Metal and the yet to be named keyboard compositions now known as Dungeon Synth.
Forest Shrine feels like a convergence of the two, dealing in a nostalgia of both theme and one mans creativity. Its all there in the tone choices and composition style but loses sight, or perhaps never aims to recreate that peculiar esoteric loneliness Burzum captured. Instead, through its melodies and sense of scale, finds the more castles and crypts side of Dungeon Synth with big scores of synth notations drummed into action by loosely military percussive marches of driving snare rhythms.
As I dissect the record for "review" it becomes clear to me I've gotten hung up on the first two track and the resemblance to Varg's works. The second is the only use of distortion guitar and beyond them the album blossoms into its own thing for the most part. The melodies and general direction gather quite the upbeat tone with its militant percussion giving off castle and king vibes. One can see the vast landscapes of forests leading to the hill on the castle. It fondly reminds me of Sequestered Keep with far less of the jovial medieval vibes. All in all its a great little record to enjoy, however being so impressed by the opening likeness, I would love to hear more of that!
Tuesday, 16 November 2021
Having been dazzled by an enchanting music experience with The Turning Wheel, this sophomore predecessor suffers the fate a shadow can cast. Its a notable experience Ive had on this journey when turning back the ticking hands of time. Mazy Fly has the same peculiar chemistry, a heart of soul espousing an eclectic convergence of styes and aesthetics. My lack of indulgence came about in its comparatively less nuanced approach. The brash 808 percussive pallet in the opening tracks exemplifying this bare bones feeling where the shades of chemistry seem obvious and separated.
For me this mid track was very much the albums crescendo, a peak reached that its successor cruised along. The rest of the record has these peculiar arrangements of Neo Soul, Chamber Pop, Psychedelia and Electronic aesthetics that don't quite align with the singing. The vocals swell with power and cower with breathy vulnerability but for all the orchestration animating away, It didn't resonate on the same wavelength as my first and powerful introduction to this interesting artist. I think I will leave the exploration here and keep an ear out for future releases!
Saturday, 13 November 2021
UK Hip Hop collective Cult Of The Damned return for a beef seventy one minute sophomore record of straight rhymes and beats. The Church Of is stylistically stagnant with their formula unchanged. 90s beats and a production style leaning to the dark, gritty, sombre tones suiting the obnoxious, braggadocios and often self depreciating rhyme schemes. The group deploy their words with a scarcity of hook and chorus, putting a lot of pressure on their verses to carry the album. The backing instrumentals trend towards a subtler roll of tone setting and atmosphere building as opposed to rocking banging beats which it does with a handful of tracks.
With such a large set of tracks the cracks emerge after just a few listens as the quality of rhymes appear to diverge. The mostly Wu-Tang free association style gives the Cult a lot of creative room for pages of clever, witty and pun ridden rhymes. The issue is this record is a book and quickly do the best bits feel sparse between mediocrity as the beats loose keenness in repetition. Sticking to their exaggerated, unhinged, sleaze embracing personas the lyrical creativity feels stale with familiarity. Individuals cadences and tone of voices don't move a budge. Still fun and expressive but drawn out over this duration it gets a little dull with the overall temperament unable to shift.
Pushing off the criticism, there is greatness to be found here. All the beats are solid, however it always seems to be the stronger cuts that house my preferred verses. Norman's Theme, Gung Foo, Step, Good News and the dark and gristly nine minute epic Henry Shots, all have great chemistry. Once again Bill Shanks and Tony Broke are on great form with the better lines. It would I've been nice to hear more of Broke who is absent on too many of these tracks. To wrap it up, The Church Of doesn't move the needle stylistically or thematically in any direction, so there are no surprises from a group who's style doesn't always embody the highest standards.
Thursday, 11 November 2021
Within exception to the fifth of five tracks, this brief EP of two minute songs is quite the departure from the dark Synthwave sound Hexenkraft is known for. Still keeping its sense of diabolic mischief intact, the music pivots to a meld of momentous electronic aesthetic percussion and world building cinematic instrumentation. These brief encounters feel like an exploration into territory Ive heard with other artists before hand, an ambitious overlap between classical instrumentation, cinematic scores and lively yet ambiguous electronic production. The orchestration on Omega Arcane a keen memory of a style and feeling not to dissimilar from this one.
Retaining a little of its outer space evil chills, these compositions are grounded to earth by bold string sections, swells of horns and sprinklings of warm human melody. It feels at odds with its busy web of percussive noise that tend to equal the surges of sound its counterpart directs. The chemistry is just right, the two play off one another with tension and theatrics as the music ebbs and flows in a state of constant unrest. Quite the impressive step forward with more vision and image than melody or groove.
Its final song Light Of The Champion abridges the past with its arpeggio base synths and bright synthetic leads. With cheesy 80s synth tom drums it playing right into the Synthwave trope with not much of a connection to the chemistry heard in the four songs before. Perhaps it was the song that kicked off this new direction. Although brief in duration, this EP shows quite a matured evolution that I look forward to hearing more of in part two!
Tuesday, 9 November 2021
Home to Dan Terminus, Irreversible Mechanism & Chaos Moon, Blood Music has been a great spot to pick up music I know I'll enjoy. With the label offering up a new, sleek, nightly Synthwave album, I felt lured in for another round with a style I now know well. Origins doesn't offer up any surprises for this listener but serves as a masterful execution of ideas and aesthetics I'm fond of. New to Dynatron, this one man band and producer is fondly reminiscent of Oscillotron, Contact and Grimrik.
And with familiarity and the easy pace of this record, it very much becomes background music, distilling with its stylish cool atmosphere, free of worry and tension. As the percussion pounds with its rock steady marching groove, one breezes through the night lights with that common feeling of being safe in a warm automobile watching the passing lights go by. The synths are gorgeous, pristine and lush, they muster the power of the saw wave's gusto yet glide smoothly throughout this experience.
A surprise awaits in the opening as deep, dense and gristly distortion guitars add a thick wall of gravity to the mix with their lumbering chugging between drawn out power chords. The idea isn't revisited again as much of the albums focus shifts to ideas its brighter, bold melodic leads evoke. They play dazzling melodies with a progressive flair to them, its what reminded me most of the aforementioned Contact.
And so the nine tracks whirl by with their particular identities somewhat suppressed by the consistent tone and perpetual pounding of snare and base kick. It flirts with darkly distortion, textural noises that add some ambiguity. Its lead instruments steer a little alien, inhuman, cosmic and mischievous in places but never does it lean to hard on any of these details. Its all easy listening, night life Synthwave, executed stunningly but a tad underwhelming in its inability to escape the rich atmosphere it locks into.
Sunday, 7 November 2021
I'm not sure when exactly I picked this record up but with Mayhem confined to the list of adored artists I'd consider far past their prime, Daemon must have been thrown straight to phone for shuffle. It may have taken years but a few months back, a song of this record really caught my ear. What was this chilling cold, deviously devilish Black Metal so reminiscent of the classic De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas? To some surprise it was the band themselves, reunited with Attilia Csihar and conjuring a sinister storm reminiscent of the vision Euronymous's chillingly morbid guitars evoked.
I'd always thought highly of the bands direction post their classic debut. They always looked for new experimental avenues to explore but eventually my interest in the morphing directions dropped off over the last decade or so. Ive read this record came off the back of touring De Mysteriis in full. Clearly those performances primed them for Daemon which conjures that primal darkness within a modern, crisp, sinister production provided by Necromorbus, with one of the worst "evil" names I've ever heard.
The two bonus tracks Everlasting Dying Flame and Black Glass Communion feel like the albums starting point creatively. Both rehash classic riffing styles, baselines and drum patterns from De Mysteriis. In my ears they are songs to get the writing process underway with this particular aesthetic and spirit in mind. The ten tracks that make up the actual record have similar moments but do well at feeling like an extension of that bleak ghostly evil the original conjured. Attila is the champion here, growling raspy demonic cries of malice between authoritative clergy jeers steeped in foul corruption.
Behind him Hellhammer is as on form and exciting as ever, battering away with thunderous intent and a distinct presences that's never left him. The duo of Ghul and Teloch forge moments of wicked and heinous energy between the broodier riffs that run the mills of classic Black Metal. Many moments of brilliance emerge on the likes of Agenda Ignis, Malum, Falsified And Hated and the grinding, unrelenting discordance of Worhtless Abominations Destroyed, a personal favorite of mine here.
My main issues is with whats between. The routine of snakey tremelo picked guitar lines and power chord shredding gets a little stale after many spins. Attila carries it with his wild and varied theatrics but the music beneath doesn't always have the gravitas it needs to be special. This may be a result of a deep familiarity with this style so many others have re-walked over the years. Its not to take away from the overall experience though. This was a fun and demonic ride back into that darkness, this shade however feels more visual and nefarious than its chillingly morbid counterpart.
Friday, 5 November 2021
Not one to stick with a sound for long, Poppy moves on from the eclectic aesthetic extremities of I Disagree and metallic framework, now plunging deep into the 90s with a wash of warm hearted Grunge, Pop Punk, Alternative Rock & Dream Pop! This nostalgic lens that quite a few bands lean on these days serves up a huge advantage in terms of variety. Flux capitalizes on this fortunate position, sounding like its from an era but not being cast to one mold as many of its inspirations would have been.
The tracks Hysteria and As Strange As It Seems highlight this perfectly. Both resurrect dreamy Shoegazing guitar tones and the hazy production tricks of My Bloody Valentine's acclaimed Loveless without burdening the listener through a whole album of its dreary ambling nature. All songs have their shade of influences, in different degrees, from a moody Her too the amped up head banger Lessen The Damage.
The variety is where the magic is at. Originality not a concern as her usual collaborators and album producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen provide some amazingly written songs and gorgeous guitar tones in many flavors to flesh out the record wonderfully around her voice. The track arrangement is smooth too, shifting in temperament and intensity to keep things exciting and brief at only thirty two minutes.
I'm not sure that Poppy herself holds much of the dazzle. Her performances don't seem all too defining. The instrumentals make the songs more so than her singing. Her softer range is endearing but when reaching for more energy she lacks a strong character as the nostalgic lens has her singing in the shadow of anothers style. Themes and lyrics are locked in well, hooks and timings ripe but its missing a shine.
Flux has been fun and refreshing, a spirited journey back into the 90s. With a broader sense of ideas to draw on it excels without doing anything remarkable or unexpected. Being keen on this era it was all to easy to get sucked but after many spins it firmly resides in that space where I'm not sure if these numbers will stick. So for now the record goes into shuffle, awaiting to see if its resurrection will be rewarding.