Wednesday, 29 June 2016

If These Trees Could Talk "The Bones Of A Dying World" (2016)

Four years since their second full length "Red Forest", the instrumental five-piece group from Ohio return with a maturer, cinematic record that glimmers from dark shadows as brooding emotions of warning evolve through expansive grooves, ghostly shimmering guitar leads and brightly plucked acoustic notes. A deep sense of departure and sorrow runs under the scale of these songs, as the title might suggest the inspiration is in anticipation of are destruction of mother nature and her beauty.

The natural world is whats envisioned, no ounce or inch of urban, human affection is felt. As scaling overdrive guitars wail and cry out in their lofty reverbs the soundtrack of dwarfing mountains and endless forests emerge in the mind, the sadness feeling like a last goodbye. As organic as nature itself these songs breathe and move through a continual motion with recurring riffs growing the songs to conclusion rather than part of a formulated structure.

Under neath it all chunky prowling baselines hammer down a steady backbone. The drums creatively work out all sorts of grooves and shuffles to glue the guitars direction to the beat and taking most of the attention are the guitars which orchestrate the mammoth atmosphere through tremolo plucked leads that drift endlessly into their own reverbs. Occasional distortion leads drop in with a couple of guitar solos which felt very fitting despite not being expected, they stayed very true to the intention of the song without over bloating themselves. The tone of the acoustic guitars were stunning and added an infectious feel of melodic charm that didn't come in the form of a catchy hook or memorable line.

For all its dense atmospheres and melodic tones the record maintains a tight balance between color and grey-scale. Post-Metal or Post-Rock often has an almost narrow dimension to its sound without bright and distinguishable instruments the constant oozing of sound and sorrowful tone can feel somewhat colorless and the tinges of color that emerge highlight the beautiful composition. "The Bones Of A Dying World" is a stunning effort but in moments some songs drift into less immersive moments and a couple of less favorable tracks weight it down in my experience.

Favorite Tracks: Swallowing Teeth, Earth Crawler, The Giving Tree
Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Izioq "World Of Izioq" (2016)

Time moves by fast! Already we have the second record this year from French composer Izioq. His first of the year, "New Songs For Old Kids", was my least favorite of the four but that's not to say it wasn't a good record, just a tad shorter and a little mellow in its second half as an ambient vibe drifted in. "World Of Izioq" feels like a cross between the first two. There's both recreational melodies of 8-bit wonder and lush, expansive, electronic synths which evolve from the strict set of oldskool video game sounds. In places we hear glimmers of new ideas and inspirations too which become some of my favorite moments in this latest record.

Again its a true homage to the innocence of childhood in the world of retro gaming and spirited imagination. With nostalgic carefree melodies and atmospheres of wonder there is no weight or burden for the listener. Its grounded in that innocence and is reflected so well by the record cover with its cuddly characters and welcoming smiles illuminated in the navy blue night by a friendly fire with the biggest smile. Kick starting the show with the self titled track we are brought into a rather jovial and lively upbeat set of melodies dancing around one another like the title screen of a game. As the mood continues in "Adventure Time" where we hear a distinctive accent as the song breaks for a slower moment. It may be me but I hear welcome echos of Final Fantasy and Nobuo Uematsu's story telling melodies. Again it emerges in the elegant "I Still Haven't Played Minecraft" where a flute like lead calls out a peaceful melody over lush strings and soft pianos. There are other moments where this noticeably different style emerges and it sounds fantastic, fitting in well with the overall theme.

In "The Passiest" there's an adorable moment where the song drops out to hear the clicking of controller buttons and the sound effects of retro games coming though television speakers. Its a charming touch and is very much the point of the record which develops some moodier, slower songs in the second half but never at any moment feeling a drop of sadness, with exception to Phill Collins. As we get to the back end of the record it unwinds with more abstractions and dream like melodies, finishing an arc from start to end that is quite satisfying for the thirty five minutes it runs for. A solid record and quite predictable one too. Although a few bright moments of creativity shone through this was very grounded in what has been established so far and expanded the depths of songs available for that Izioq itch.

Favorite Tracks: Adventure Time, I Still Haven't Played Minecraft, Bangers And Mash, Teenage Dreams So Hard To Beat, Song To My Cat, Mind On The Moon
Rating: 7/10

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Autumn's Grey Solace "Windumæra" (2016)

Its been on repeat for the last week or so and "Windumæra" is another indulgent return into the mellow, sombre and soothing world of Autumn's Grey Solace. This duo have been at it since the early naughties and this release marks their ninth in a discography of varying depth around their core Ethereal sound. Two years ago their "Monajjfyllen" release was disappointing. Despite sounding very much on tune the songs didn't amount to very much and made for a rather underwhelming listen. "Windumæra" treads the similar issues but comes off much stronger. Something in the compositions made these songs more memorable and enjoyable, yet on the surface its quite a similar record.

With thirty one minutes and eight tracks its another short record for the duo who may be running out of ideas. On first listen it felt as if I had heard every track before, their sound, techniques and aesthetics now so settled and routine that even for a listener everything felt indifferent. Fortunately this familiarity falls on the right side of the fence with just enough taking place to provide that soft and dark, mellow indulgence they offer. Listening back to "Monajjfyllen" I do wonder if its in case of what I'm in the mood for but the songs on that record do feel particularly stale.

So its another eight tracks of slow, easy going songs that graciously glimmer with bright, tonal acoustic guitars soaked in reverbs and echos. Light buried percussion and steady baselines plod beneath them. With some light and airy synths, singer Erin's vocals melt and drift into the music with her soft and delicate voice that can hit high notes so stunningly with a purity, not needing an emphasis of power or force to grace such peaks. With this lush sound they find their best moments in the creativity between Erin and the instrumentals which doesn't occur to frequently but has always been one of their strengths as her voice can gravitate so much emotion. Not a particularly memorable record within their nine but it certainly doesn't fail to deliver on the vibe, mood and atmosphere one would turn to them for.

Favorite Track: Asundran, Hærfestwæta
Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Sithu Aye "Set Course For Andromeda" (2016)

The title "Set Course For Andromeda" may play down an epic expedition with simplistic words but its the records cover art that dispels the expectations. Its simplistic font, cartoon graphic and squiggly trail spaceship don't quite match the melodic wonder awaiting inside. Sithu Aye is the one man band from Burma with an ever growing reputation within the Progressive Metal scene of the Djent variety. Four years since his last full length "Invent The Universe" its a record of two halves, the first a collection of lengthy collaborations often peaking the eight minute mark. The second a single piece of music split into six parts known as "The Andromedan". Clocking in at seventy five minutes its a lengthy listen but one that's hard to fault, there's never a dull moment and perhaps the opposite is the case, it rarely takes its foot off the gas.

Weighing the scales with deep tonal polymorphic Djent grooves and firm, vibrant, colorful acoustic guitars the rhythmic force and melodic grace are narrated by the effervescent presence of lead guitars pulling the strings of direction. This instrumental record has a voice and its the lead guitar which talks in emotional volumes with solos and intermittent leads which occasionally culminate into a trio of riffs working together. Its lavish, sublime and charming, a constant engagement and indulgence to follow. Around it there's never a moment taken for granted by the accompanying instruments, much of this marvels chemistry is found in the records first act and would indicate that a real spark of chemistry has occurred between Sithu and his guests.

Mostly this record has inspired melodies playing off of crunchy Djents, ever twisting and turning through song structures that wont stay settled. It makes for a handful of breakaway moments, using the occasional Post-Metal riff or the introduction of strings and pianos to lead the way. In some moments the Djents will drop off entirely for soft airy synths and strings to fill the void with a calmer presence. With "Spiral" Sithu and Luke Martin get Jazz, a bright, playful break of swift, racing leads on the guitar and pianos dance with one another effortlessly as we watch on, mesmerized by such a gracious, amiable wash of sweet and inviting melody.

The second half, the six part song, is on a similar wavelength but a couple of tracks have some drawn out moments of ambience and overall the intensity is lowered a little. Holding a theme together a couple of melodies return, elevated, in the later stages and the density of the compositions isn't quite as layered or lavish but maybe its the length adding a little weight to the mood. The production is solid, drum machine is tight and the instruments work so well for one another. For me, the first half is a nine and the second a seven. Well a truly impressed with this record which I will return to often!

Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Ho99o9 "Dead Bodies In The Lake" (2014)

Horror, stylized Ho99o9, are an American Hip Hop duo from Los Angeles who perform a noisy and twisted, dark breed of Hip Hop influenced by Hardcore Punk and Horrorcore. Its most likely that people will draw comparisons with Death Grips as a influence when discussing this band, however this mixtape would suggest that despite their abrasive and noisy approaches to Hip Hop they are fundamentally different in terms of inspiration and attitude. I caught them at Download Festival and the fifteen minutes of their set blew me away, so much rebellious energy and stage presence. Their most impressive song was "DeathKult Disciplines" which can be found on this record so that's where I decided to start.

"Dead Bodies In The Lake" sets the tone with an audio clip from a movie of young kids discussing guns and a dead body they found. From there it grows with dissonant bass synths and outbursts of Hardcore guitars into a Punk sprawl of smashing crash symbols and restless shouted vocals throwing words like raps while remaining firmly Hardcore. After two tracks a gurgling baseline and sinister synth line pull together with a hollow beat to form the foundations of a hellish, paranoid Rap song. Its lead melody paranoid and deranged, taking a trip into a psychotic mind.

The record flexes between these two styles, in one half its wild, energetic and full of loud rebellion fit for mosh pits and hardcore dancing. On the other it dives into horrid, dingy, back alley raps spite with psychotic personas. The duo have a charm for hooks when slamming along to the distortion guitars which are often grooving, the accommodating arsenal of rambunctious drumming and frittering electronic noises amplify their wild tone with an infectious stir. The twos flows when performing more traditional raps aren't exactly spectacular and the extent of their horror shock lyrics doesn't save the Rap side of the record from feeling dull and played out. They have a full length on the way, I hope they steer the ship towards the better half of their sound which has a unique flair and bright chemistry great for live shows.

Favorite Track: DeathKult Disciplines
Rating 5/10

Monday, 20 June 2016

Napalm Death "Enemy Of The Music Business" (2000)

Drawn in by the short, hyper-aggressive and grooving track "Thanks For Nothing" I think Ive found what may just be my favorite Napalm Death record. With thirty years to their name and a dense catalog of records its hard to figure out whats for you in the many varying forms of Grindcore and Death Metal on display. "Enemy Of The Music Business" strikes me as the refocusing of adrenaline charged Grindcore with the better remnants of their Groove Metal records like "Diatribes". In this balancing of influences Napalm capture the pummeling style and frenetic energy with moments of groove and mosh friendly break out riffs that just works perfectly for me.

As to be expected with this band its a constant barrage of shuffling arrangements innate with aggression and anger firing out at the music industry in a time of its peak stranglehold on record sales. Barney's raging growls bark out with occasional moments of comprehension often relating to the records title. Behind him the drums rattle and rumble with intensity and snare heavy beats steer the songs into calamitous moments of blast beats and heavy pedal manipulation. They are relentless, never quieting down for pace keeping and always being and the front of an unrelenting storm. Just like the records Groove sensibilities they have moments of bounce between grinding intensity.

The song structures are best heard in the guitars and accompanying drum patterns as they quick and swiftly burn through riff after riff of dizzying power chord thrashing and brutal guitar shredding. These songs surge with an intensity from guitar work that plays with discords and tremolo picking as they continually switch and turn with every passing moment. Its a collection of loaded riffs thrown together in a maelstrom of violence that build up to short bursts of unrestrained aggression in the form of a song, usually with at least one key return to riff to hold it together.

The first half of the record throws plenty of groove and break out head banger moments into the fold and that's what makes each of these songs work for me. In the second half the mood intensifies and the blast beats, dark and snaky guitar riffs don't always surmount to a breakout moment with a few tracks. The records production is decent, its a noisy affair but the snare has bite, the kick kicks and the guitars are ripe with a sharp tone. Maybe the bass is a little buried beneath the chaos but it all comes together for the records purpose, to vent frustration, hate and aggression.

Favorite Tracks: Next On The List, Constitutional Hell, Vermin, Thanks For Nothing, Cant Play Wont Pay, Conservative Shithead
Rating: 8/10

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Moonsorrow "Jumalten Aika" (2016)

Who are Moonsorrow? A Finnish band from the counties capital Helsinki who define themselves as "Heathen Metal" in an attempt to distinguish their inspirations from the Viking and Pagan forms of Metal they sound alike to. Ive seen the groups logo on shirts, jean jackets and festival bills but the name never drew me in to find out who they were. Its a shame I didn't listen sooner because they are my absolute cup of tea in an area of music I never get tired of. The band tread the lines with Black Metal through shrill vocals, sharp aggressive guitar riffs and its Heathen counterpart with Symphonic walls of melodic density and its core theme.

Consisting of four lengthy tracks and the shorter seven minute single "Jumalten Aika" it is immersive in the fullest sense, deep songs in a wall of sound with pacey progressions that keep you locked into a heathen world inspired by natural beauty. The belly of the beast are the bellowing baselines and drums hammering away in a muddy production that has the distortion guitars and symphonies bleeding over the two, never loosing focus on the musics direction. In the distance shrill screams and crys call out with a less than human touch for what is primarily an ancient human experience of epic pagan wonder. The songs start out steady, ever building towards climatic moments that have the strength and surge to carry on for minutes in the gleam of their triumphant melodies played on the keys. Even in the opening stages of "Ruttolehto" do warlike horns set the stakes high with a style similar to Graveland's classic "Prawo Stali". It shifts at the arrival of archaic group chants and around the six minute mark they re-emerge as choral chants with a stunning harmony before the song gives way to a flute like native instrument with such charm and authenticity, it grows to epic heights as the choral chants grow in magnitude and when the "heavy", the distortion comes back in it has its moment before winding down with a vivid soundscape of acoustics, native folk instruments and chants.

The album and its songs develop in similar ways with all sorts of flutes, horns and strings becoming essential parts of a songs direction while they drop in and out between the Black, their scale unchained by expectation and ripe with inspired melodies to wisk you up into their heathen world. The production plays an important role as it would do in any record. On paper it may seem a little to muddy and dense for charm with the clarity of the drums always under pressure from the oozing walls of synth working their around the grizzly treble heavy guitar tone. Symbols burst out of the background with a clatter and it all works so well for a theme that requires a little grit and authenticity.

The heights of epic this record soars with is remarkable. It reminds me of many of moments, records and songs that are reminiscent of Moonsorrow's take on Black Metal, however the band have homed in on a vision and created a record of true inspiration. Its a reminder of musics progression and although these extreme genres of metal may of passed two decades in age, their is still much maturity and understanding in its craft to be explored and this band are doing just that. Whats best about the record as a whole is a lack of a single crowning moment. Each song has you in its grasp, maybe you know what comes next but by the time it passes and you've reached the end you can't wait to start it over again.

Rating: 9/10

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Abnormality "Mechanisms Of Omniscience" (2016)

My excitement for the news of Abnormality's sophomore record was high but faded quickly upon hearing it for the first time and many listens hasn't warmed me away from that initial disappointment. I discovered this band through their video for "Monarch Omega", a brutal onslaught of catchy demonic riffs and blinding blast beats. Their debut "Contaminating The Hive Mind" didn't quite deliver the same energy on every track but showed a lot of promise for a band who weren't trying to rewrite the rule book but carve their own style into an already heavily saturated Death Metal scene.

"Mechanisms Of Omniscience" hasn't left me with much to remark on other than a consistently flat feeling from one track to the next. Its hardly offensive, out of touch or missing the mark and the record is a consistent flow of tight and precise Death Metal from the ever rattling sonic drums to the frenetic guitar work and deep guttural vocals. With the exception of one track nothing in the record seems to break away or feel remarkable, its a constant drone of colorless brutality and dissonant guitar works that shifts, transforms and effortlessly flows through its arrangement of riffs that never culminating emotionally. The production and instrumental performances are on point but nothing meaningful emerges and even in its heaviness that adrenaline surge you'd expect is nowhere to be found. Its to much to be critical of that but no matter how many times I gave it a spin there was very little to be excited about.

Favorite Track: Synthetic Pathogenesis
Rating: 4/10

Monday, 13 June 2016

Download Festival 2016 Top 10 Performances

That's it! Ive officially been going to Donington for a decade and as always music festivals are a wonderful experience, Download being one of the best with three days and four stages of heavy and hard music to get stuck into. This years was the most subdued of all Ive been to, the rain came down as heavy as the metal and really affected the freedom to rock out, head bang and mosh to your hearts content, at least if your me and are not fond of being soaking wet and cold. So cocooned in my waterproofs and ponchos I did my best to stay dry while enjoying some great performances.

(10) Ho99o9
Hailed as a Hip Hop / Punk crossover Ho99o9 are often talked about with Death Grips in mind. This duo take their raps to dark, noisy and aggressive places with sampled punk guitars and a crazy rebellious persona. I only got to catch half there set on the forth stage but it was a blinding riot of aggression, noise and attitude that blew me away.

(9) Rammstein
 Not the first time Ive seen them live and probably not the last. You can count on Rammstein to put on a good show fueled by fire, pyrotechnics and an absurd amounts of fireworks. They were fantastic however I wasn't keen on their cover of Depeche Mode's "Stripped". An energetic show loaded with their classics.
(8) Megadeth
Thrash legends Megadeth came out playing a solid set with a few tracks from their latest album "Dystopia" which sounded fantastic live. Loaded with classics like "Hanger 18", "Trust" and "Countdown To Extinction" there was little they could do wrong.

(7) Havok
A classic Thrash Metal band I had not heard of before spotting them on the lineup. Glad I chose to watch them, very fast and energetic thrash like a cross between Slayer and Testament with many climatic and intense moments in their songs to head bang to.

(6) Amon Amarth
An undeniably great Viking Metal band of which Ive never quite clicked with. Their latest record "Jomsviking" was a decent listen and seeing them certainly helped me appreciate them more. Fantastic stage presences with dragons heads and rune stones plus plenty of fire!

(5) Korn
I've not been in the mood for Korn in a while but when they walked on stage I was sucked in. Playing a few more songs than usual from 2003's "Take A Look In The Mirror" their set felt a bit chunkier than usual and I enjoyed every minute of there performance. So good to hear them again.

(4) Periphery
This band well and truly won me over with last years double release of "Alpha" and "Omega". Their performance was tight and flawless with a thick and dense wall of Djemt coming from the four guitarists. It was an infectious performance of groovy head banging that sounded to big for the stage. Set was a little short but that's just because I didn't want it to stop!

(3) Deftones
Probably both the best and worst performance of download but at no fault of the band. Promoting their new record "Gore" I caught them a week back at Wembly warming up for the big stage and they sounded fantastic. On the day though the rain poured and soured what would of been a memorable show, Deftones lined up their more emotional and atmospheric tracks for the sunset slot on the main stage and in the downpour it still sounded fantastic but the weather sucked the life out of the crowd.

(2) Babymetal
Babymetal also suffered the rain with bursts of heavy showers delaying their set for over half an hour. When they finally took to the stage the crowd loved it and so did I! They are even better as a live act and the bands modern compression heavy production sounded sublime on the big stage. The girls danced along with metallic choreography and smiles to fire up everyone's spirits. Definitely would of been in the pit if it wasn't for the mud and rain.

(1) Black Sabbath
The most influential and important band in Metal history would always make it a historic occasion when they play, as part of their farewell tour the band get ready to close the curtains on their history spanning six decades. It was a flawless performance with Ozzy who can barely string a sentence together having no issues hitting all the words and notes while inspiring the crowd with momentary bursts of energy before shuffling back to center stage. Toni Iommi and Gezzer Buttler sounded sublime with the best guitar tones to grace the stage. The stand in drummer got a fair spotlight with a tame and lengthy set of drum solos leading into Iron Man and hearing "Into The Void" really made my evening. It was one to cross off the bucket list and I'm so very glad I waited out the rain at the front of the crowd to see them.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Vektor "Terminal Redux" (2016)

With an epic, intergalactic cover art of lush alien planets and mysterious alien spacecraft deep in the cosmos our tongues are wet in anticipation of an ambitious piece of music set to rival the imaginations the cover inspires alone. Unfortunately the guitar tone and narrow, raspy, grisly vocals took the edge of what is truly a record to remember, a space opera of metallic magnitude. Vektor are an American Thrash Metal band with Progressive elements from Arizona and given there young age could be considered part of the Thrash revival seen in recent years. "Terminal Redux" is their third full length, weighing in at seventy three minutes it is quite a lot to chew and an ambitious piece of art.

Vektor sound like they could of come straight out of the 80s. A true sense of the Thrash spirit exudes from these songs however with twenty years of maturity they take the traits of Thrash guitar work and execute them with an intensity and blinding precious that will have all sorts of rampant shredding taken to new speeds and technicalities, the fast fretwork interwoven with frenetic drumming that takes no moment for granted. These songs move in a constant sense of progression with dense arrangements shuffling in all sorts of directions and occasional turning back on themselves to repeat a theme. Nothing feels out of the ordinary but its execution is remarkable and many riffs push the boundaries with lightning speed and creative use of old techniques. Its quite the drool in awe fest if your a fan of the classic thrash sound.

The album plays to a bigger concept and all the songs tie together. That much is apparent but within the last three or so tracks it really comes together as the record reaches its climax and the music pushes even harder at those boundaries. In these moments the Thrash sound is transcended in spirit as the songs become bigger than themselves. For all that's fantastic I have my gripe with the vocal and guitar tones. Firstly DiSanto's narrow, raspy shouts are a constant turn off that I failed to warm up to. The guitars do admittedly sound fantastic as could be said for the entire production of the record with a near perfect drum sound and tight baseline but I found the tone slightly plastic and flat in the higher ranges. Its actually what gives the guitar tone its charm and there is where I find an understanding of whats not working. There's little emotional connection here, its a finely tuned metal machine pumping out blinding songs but it ends at entertainment. "Terminal Redux" Is a remarkable record on one level but there are only a few moments where I feel any form of deeper connection. Music doesn't always have to hit you on that level to appreciate it.

Favorite Tracks: Charging The Void, LCD, Recharging The Void
Rating: 8/10

Monday, 6 June 2016

Eternal Lord "Blessed Be This Nightmare" (2008)

Well, its all over now. "Blessed Be This Nightmare" marks the groups first and final full length record, at the time I found it to be a stinker, a real disappointment. After revisiting their fantastic, stylish and unique debut EP "Eternal Lord" I set out to listen to their discography. Their two track "Split With Azriel" showed promising signs of a symphonic direction for the band before their 2007 "Demo" took a turn for the worst. There are no twists and turns at this point, the album takes off where the demo left, with the tracks that featured on the demo only sounding a hair better on the full length in terms of production. 

The record suffers the fate of the Deathcore cliches and fails to make itself more remarkable than the breakdowns every song seeks out. Chugging palm mutes and crashing china symbols pound away the same routine with various variations, mustering no more than the occasional palm muted discord to spice it up. Its far from terrible or offensive, something to bob along to and forget the next minute. Between it the band show signs of trying to expand there horizons but it all feels aimless and unfocused. Acoustic guitars crop up in "I Am The Deciver" and "Amity" with a vastly different vibe that are only to be dispelled by pummeling Deathcore brutality in the songs next phase. Some creative guitar work and riffs do momentarily pop up, "Set your Anchor" has some interesting melodic guitar leads but again just falls mercy to incessant Deathcore cliches.

If you not giving it your attention it may be half entertaining but ever grace it with thought and consider whats going on its little beyond hap hazard ideas lost in a generic brutality fest. Its ironic that its strength is in what holds it back, the Deathcore is well executed, just no longer to my taste. Any signs of breaking away from that are far from interesting. This record wasn't for me, Its not awful but I think I'm just tired of this sound which is now a decade old!

Rating: 3/10

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Thorns Of The Carrion "The Scarlet Tapestry" (1997)

My interest in Doom Metal was recently peaked with Candlemass's "Nightfall" and at the whim of youtubes algorithms was suggested this unheard of video with next to no views. It was this forgotten and obscure bands second album and hooked in by the striking record cover I listened to the opening tracks which where certainly interesting. Thorns Of The Carrion are from Ohio, USA and may have been a somewhat of a local scene band in the 90s with a string of demos and two independent released records of which this is the second. Only active for ten years they have little reputation in the Metal world.

Far from terrible but lacking in charm, "The Scarlet Tapestry" suffers the fate of its own doom and gloom themes as the mood and atmosphere created in this sorrowful record often drift into a lull of morbid guitar drones and soft airy key lines dragging through unhurried tempos. Demonic guttural growls grimace with a lack of oomph and interchange with screams similar to Dani Filth. Clean vocals are also delivered in a deep and teary tone which gets a little to much with moans of "Why Am I So Alone" over and over. This record dives into love and heartache with melancholy and a touch of gothic romanticism which doesn't manifest well in lyrical form but the instrumentals do have a cohesion to define a unique blend of depressive, wistful and slightly morbid music fit for a foggy, human form of darkness.

Bar the introduction track the album opens up with a fair stir of energy and tempo as thunderous horns scale up and down reminiscent of Graveland's "Prawo Stali". It transitions into a begrudgingly sluggish dragging of guitars and much of the record follows this theme of slowness with moments of energy and life splashed in unexpectedly. If not in one of these sporadic bursts of life and movement the records next best output comes from the timid and lonely flute melodies, occasional pianos and thick gothic organs. Other than that the record feels lengthy and unfocused with minimal ideas being draw out of proportion and its atmosphere isn't immersive enough to make that sluggish pace meaningful. Enjoyable to hear something different but far to flawed to return to again after a handful of listens.

Rating: 3/10

Thursday, 2 June 2016

The Underachievers "It Happened In Flatbush" (2016)

I was very excited to see this record pop up in my inbox. The Underachievers are one of my favorite modern Hip Hop acts and their last full length "Evermore - The Art Of Duality" really made its mark on me. The first half of the two sided release is loaded with deep and meaningful messages about achieving in life and keeping on top of your goals. Its a record I frequently turn to when running and working out. Unfortunately "It Happened In Flatbush" isn't on that introspective wavelength and is stated as a "mixtape". Essentially a less focused and shorter release to tie fans over.

Initially this sounded fantastic. Tight spacey, dark beats and deep cutting baselines but a few tracks in the lyrics were tiring me. Gone is the insightful, thought provoking, life changing lyricism. In come the blow trading, braggadocios flaunt raps loaded with violence and threats. With much talk of gun play, settling rivalries and street warfare the mood is ripe for these dark atmospheric beats however Its not what Ive been in the mood for from the East Coast duo who won me over with their honest lyrics and positive attitudes. If the subject matter wasn't to my taste I couldn't deny their flows were pretty solid throughout and at times elevating with technical prowess. On the flip side there are a few singular rhyme flows cropping up with the word niggaz that gets nauseous repeating it over and over and over.

After a few banging beats at the start the album drifts into a continual setting of gritty, deep sub baselines grooving under spacious minimalist leads with flickering trap beats. With violent raps the atmosphere is tense and intimidating. With a lack of lyrical charm it simple wasn't my cup of tea and the most interesting thing beside the instrumentals were references to Master P and Silkk The Shocker of No Limit Records. Always fun to pick up on name dropping in Hip Hop.

Favorite Track: Al Capone
Rating: 4/10