Friday, 16 August 2019

Slipknot "We Are Not Your Kind" (2019)

The masked Metal juggernauts Slipknot return once again to make another ferocious racket but this time it is a return to form of sorts. Five years since the underwhelming Gray Chapter, the Iowa nine-piece outfit seemed to have found their peace as a band. Having once stated they would only ever perform as the original line-up, a promotion cycle parading unity among each other and the three newest additions seems so as the music reflects fondly of this time and place. Even the surprising dismissal of Chris Fenn hasn't derailed the Slipknot beast. Rumors of greed may have tarnished some perceptions but their sixth full length bares none of this burden.

There are not many records that come out the gate screaming and kicking, refusing to let up. Thinking back to the bands explosive self-titled and extremified Iowa record, they both open with daunting ambience introductory track of manic dread and terror before erupting into a string of unrelenting aggression and energy, birthing five unforgettable tracks each. With exception to the friendlier Insert Coin introduction we have four songs that really kick the album into life. Unsainted, Birth Of The Cruel, Nero Forte and Critical Darling spur of the best of the bands traits. Wild metallic riffs loaded with punch and groove barrage the listener as the sway between the infectious hooks Corey delivers with his charmed singing voice.

Its the best of their first three albums rolled into one, slickly produced and neatly polished into a digestible package. It may lack some of the immediacy and imminent frustration from the bands youth but as seasoned song writers the group hand pick some of their best ideas and redeploy them tastefully. Seasoned fans will hear similar compositions, timely keg smashes and delightfully an audible Sid Wilson who is keenly involved in adding a textural level with his scratch and sample that often peaks involvement in the "breakdowns". Couldn't of asked for more, we even get a revival of Corey's maddening shouted raps, beautifully juxtaposed with a little incoherent fire against his most pristine vocal on Nero Forte.

A Liars Funeral marks a shift in tone as Slipknot focus on the expansive, slow moving and brooding atmospheres. On this track alone they execute it stunningly as the music moves from its foggy, lonesome acoustic guitars and rainy singing into an intense drive of restrained, stalking pace wonderfully complimented by these pitch phasing electronic drones. Its a powerful song, A brilliant work of progressive writing, perhaps akin to the likes of Gently if not better? After this Red Flag pulls it back to a quick and snappy pummeling of Slipknot aggression, then from this mediocre by comparison song the album loads in a lot of ambience that took a little longer to come around to.

Death Because Of Death and What's Next certainly feel like underwhelming interludes. Its an expansive move for Slipknot's sound pallet and as we head into this final phase of the record this temperament opens up. My Pain feels like the dud, its toying with ambience and bright xylophone lead by a jolted hi hat is all fantastic but perhaps out of place on this record? The unsettling, crooked piano melody of Spiders lets this angle manifest perfectly and Not Long For This World has a ambient build up but ends up with one of the albums best crescendos as Sid Wilson again gets teeth in with vinyl scratches alongside Corey's "I was not born for this world" screams.

Although writing a blog is usually the turning of a page on an album I will certainly give this one more time as I found I differed in this final phase from the exuberant response critics and fans alike have given this release. The thing is, writing this blog and paying a little closer attention made me realize how much these songs had sunk in despite feeling unsure about the atmospheric avenue in the end phase. Orphan and Solway Firth pop in the middle of this slow temperament and they too are hard hitting tracks. Time will tell for sure but and this moments its hard not to feel excited as this album delivers something to truly fit in with the bands first three exquisite albums.

Least Favorite Songs: Insert Coin, Death Because Of Death, What's Next
Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Hexenkraft "Deep Space Invocations: Volume 1" (2019)

With an album titled Permadeath looming in the distance, actually to be released the day the masses storm Area 51, this Dark Ambient two track record caught me by surprise. It is reminiscent of both the Starcraft and Diablo OST's, which Matt Uelman had a hand in both. Its janky spacecraft industrial noises and synths mixed alongside sinister strings, foreboding horns and eerily plucked acoustic guitars sounds like a natural allegiance of the game themes. The two eight minute songs share a brilliant aesthetic pallet primed with complimenting instruments that bridge classical sounds of isolated pianos and warning strings with gaunt bursts of electronic buzzing and mechanical whirling synths. Its held together with spacious percussive sounds, often lingering in reverb and leaning into Industrial smashes and strikes as spurs of tempo muster up brief and claustrophobic surges of rhythmic pounding, mostly dispelling back into uneasy temperament.

The songs are lengthy, slow in pace and forever brooding, usually on a sense of dread or void drifting loneliness. The songs progress swaying from one moment to the next with no arching conclusion or consequence. These are snapshots of time, danger lurking, sometimes growing to close for comfort but never arriving. Its underlying tone setter, the strings, sometimes pianos and guitars too, tend to linger on a few musical themes that lack a sense of evolution. As backing music this undoubtedly sets a vivid atmosphere to be indulged in. At the forefront these instruments lack of progression or movement into an expressive phase becomes quite frustrating. There are many moments and opportunities for the swells of mysterious sound to bust into life with a melody or chord progression. That however is what made the aforementioned soundtracks so fantastic. This doesn't have to be that, but it certainly broods a particular atmosphere ripe for deployment.

Rating: 5/10

Friday, 9 August 2019

Queen "Queen" (1973)

Arriving at their debut release, my expectations had been lowered by the underwhelming Symphonic Rock of Queen II. Surprisingly, this is an easier to digest record. Full of the eclectic diversity and variety that Queen are known for however its yet to find distinction. The production is clunky and dated, the musical influences obvious, worn on the sleeve, yet the songs it births at this point in the bands infancy are much more distinguished and fun than the following record. Brian May also kicks the record into gear with burst of Heavy Metal eruption on Doing All Right very akin to some of his best moments. He quite often finds stirs of Heavy Metal energy to inject.

The song swings between polarizing styles in a playful manor and whats encapsulated in that one track can be heard throughout as the band sway from soft and folksy Progressive Rock into bursts of Heavy Metal and Classic American Rock. The song Son & Daughter even goes into Doom Metal territory as the slow, sludgy guitar grooves carry their texture into the light, very Black Sabbath. Much of the record plays with these obvious familiarities but they always come with a spice of instrumental playfulness as keys and guitar leads add colorful upheavals in practically every song.

Some of the lyrics take on a biblical tone, the track Jesus being a prime example. I am unsure if its a song of praise or a mockery but the tone is a shambles, making an ugly appraisal out of layered voicings which had been used beforehand so effectively as burst of immediacy on songs like Liar. Overall its far better than its predecessor but not exactly its own animal yet. All the markings of what make this band so fantastic are here, ready to be developed. From here onward we only have the 80s and 90s albums left to explore!

Favorite Tracks: Doing All Right, Seven Seas Of Rhye
Rating: 6/10

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Sabaton "The Great War" (2019)

And now for the mighty symphonic gleam of the one and only War inspired Power Metal outfit Sabaton! This album has been an absolute U-turn for me. I checked out Heros a few years back and despite always trying to open my heart to music, I was not swayed. It took my favorite war historian Indy Neidell teaming up with the band to win me over. The united to create a documentary Youtube channel that dives into the historical inspiration behind each song and It really brewed a connection. These guys are history nerds too and now the thematic nature of their music felt very genuine.

It took but two or three listens to engulf me. No longer did these cheesy lyrics act as a deterrent, I now understood that each song had a slice of the past inspiring it and that I could get behind! The wording does get somewhat literal and plain in places but I now find myself enjoying that aspect. "Lead the charge, our leader has entered the battlefield". There are plenty of un-poetic, descriptive wordings at play like this but when its lined with dates, names and locations you have to admire the dedication to keeping it accurate. Ive ended up singing along on many an occasion!

Joakim Broden's mighty and anthemic charge as a frontman is fantastic if not flawed. His deep voice in spoken sections can sound a fraction goofy but he knows how to deliver the energy. With power and conviction in his gruffly sung voice he constantly elevates alongside the music to create ear worm hooks that you just can't shake! Behind him the music is especially energetic and beaming with a triumphant might. Its Power Metal that leans on thicker guitar tones, classic Heavy Metal shredding and a delightful weight of symphonic keys that back with choral voicings and synths.

With the driving percussive force of Dahl, many of these songs move forward with a rocking tempo, cramming in a lot of sound. The rumble of textured bass lines creates a sturday foundation for tandem guitars to interchange colorful licks and variations over the top of power chord chugging riffs that batter in time with the drums. Its a big and bold sound always lined with a symphonic glow from the keys and just about every song encounters exciting breaks from the verse chorus structure.

Its mostly in the form of solos that shred classic wailing 80s Heavy Metal styling to give one goosebumps if your a fan of classic solos from the likes of Ozzy's guitarists. They are bright and beaming, colorful and played flawlessly. I also hear echos of Judas Priest in the solo's but I'm sure that's probably whats to be heard in a lot of Power Metal considering it developed from that sound. I also hear a now toned down Dimmu Borgir on the albums last Metal song. Its lavished in hysterical singing, horns and trumpets, the ramped up energy has some similarities to their Eonian.

The album bows out on an emotional note as a choir sings the memorial poem In Flanders Fields by John McCrae. The singing is simply gorgeous and ends the whole experience on a very humbling note. I absolutely love this record! I have had so much fun with it and will continue to spin it for weeks to come! I now feel rather incentivized to back track over Sabaton's discography. This album ticked so many boxes for me on things I like about Metal music, it seems almost mad I had dismissed them as not being for me. Its the same old lesson, gotta open up and learn to love cause hate and negativity means you miss out on fantastic records like this one.

Favorite Tracks: Seven Pillars Of Wisdom, 82nd All The Way, Great War, A Ghost In The Trenches, Fields Of Verdun, The End Of The War To End All Wars, In Flanders Fields
Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Jinjer "King Of Everything" (2016)

I initially found the Ukraine Metal outfit Jinjer to be a rather reasonable band. As they continue to gain eardrums in the Metal community, it seemed the hype had alluded me. Cloud Factory was a satisfactory listen, a merging of influences that didn't yield anything particularity unique. King Of Everything however has that same blueprint of obvious inspirations but throughout this record its riffs and songs culminate to a serving with its own spice. With every spin I get sucked further into the energy they forge as a band. Tho it is no masterclass, this album certainly offers up some characterized extreme music that can separate itself from the generic and played out.

With a competent and pounding rhythm section the array of lively guitar work and singer Tatiana Shmailyuk stand aloud. Her deep and burly shouts are ferocious and forceful, cutting through the barrage of metallic might. She pivots into the clean singing and it works well, always with an edge of force but on I Speak Astronomy and Pisces we hear a gentle side to her that is both charming and dynamic as the moody acoustics that accompany her break up the flow of djenty Metalcore brutality.

As the record ebbs and flows between its arsenal of grooving aggressive guitar work, a steady roll out of chemistry emerges as the elements converge and birth fantastic, memorable moments. They don't tend to diverge to far from the baseline temperament but impressive lead guitar licks played by Roman Ibramkhalilov injects bursts of color into the often monochromatic, rhythm oriented low end riffs. They frequent the on off bursts of tonal noise the Djent style is known for and shape up some grand acoustics and other progressive musical ideas around that key guitar component.

The forty two minutes spanned over ten tracks never really falter. Its consistent and engaging, the final track, Beggars Dance, bows out on a comical note as the opening song is replayed in a Jazz Rock context with a lively baseline and softly plucked guitars. When the solo hits around the mid section it sparkles, a different tone to go out on but it wraps up a solid record. Impressive, Looking forward to their new release.

Favorite Tracks: Captain Clock, Words Of Wisdom, Just Another, Under The Dome, Dip A Sail
Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Obituary "Frozen In Time" (2005)

When thinking of Obituary its always this album cover that comes to mind. Putting things into perspective, I most likely listened to this record when it first came out however I had shelved them based on their earlier Death Metal records which I was never that keen on. Hailing from Tampa Florida, they share a location and linage alongside other pioneering acts of the extreme sound that emerged from Thrash Metal in the 80s. This record however comes over twenty years after their formation and at the time an eight year hiatus following Back From The Dead. Frozen In Time caught my ear on shuffle the other day and Ive since indulged with it.

With a grisly, crunchy warm distortion tone the guitar work has a hybrid approach, crossing the axe grinding and darkness of tremolo Death Metal shredding with an obvious helping of slamming Hardcore groove. Led almost entirely by its guitar riffs the album cruises at mid-tempo, through a dense churning of thick guitar led arrangements. Guided by competent drum patterns that don't go all in with blast beats and extremities, it makes for easy listening approachable in a relative sense.

Its charm emerges when the plethora of mediocre riffs find a pacing for the equivalent of a breakdown. A percussive element goes half time and the guitars resonate with a measure of bounce and groove in the power chord dynamics. Its quite toned down but that tends to aid its deployment. The whole record has a steady tone and its atmosphere lulls you and unexpectedly jumps into lunges of movement with this two-step akin "breakdowns". Without them it would drone on and on.

Singer John Tardy is howling away throughout with his one of a kind harsh and throaty shouts. They never do however shift temperament or offer variety. The consistency of all elements makes for an album that is quick to get to grips with. Its production is well composed, the dense guitar eat up a lot of space but reverberated snare drum and punchy kick drum warp around it. The bass guitar must be mirroring as it barely makes a distinction. Overall its a very straightforward set of tracks with simple song structures however these subtle emerges of Hardcore influence are a lot of fun and that's what checking out this record has been... Fun!

Favorite Track: Redneck Stomp
Rating: 6/10

Monday, 5 August 2019

Slowthai "Runt" (2018)

Majorly impressed by the young Northampton Grime rapper's debut Nothing Great About Britain, I naturally tracked back to this five track EP released a year beforehand. With mention to the album by name, It seems unlikely this is the release that got him signed, which I was curious to learn about. With that in mind the maturity and development as an artist between the two is rather substantial. Slowthai has his bite, grit and mean attitude intact, the exaggerated articulation of his dialect is simply natural and subtle at this point tho.

On two fronts the record steadily dissipates. Slow Down kicks it off with a banging beat vaguely reminiscent of Inglorious. The rhymes are firm, flow energized by anger. He vents his frustrations telling the tale of a childhood Christmas ruined by the cold. With Drug Dealer he articulates his venture into criminality with both tracks having emotional weight and finding moments of clever lyricism too. After these tracks the topicality drops off, a lack of narrative or purpose lulls the mood and the Instrumentals follow suit.

Disneyland sounds like a train of conscious thought that doesn't land anywhere. The spacious, zoned out instrumental plays disorienting, zany samples that lead into a off-kilt de synced drum groove that has no anchoring point. Its a clear experiment, built for purpose, trying to conjure a zonked atmosphere but its executed poorly. There is a couple of tracks of interest here but fails to come close to the albums level of quality.

Favorite Tracks: Slow Down, Drug Dealer
Rating: 4/10

Saturday, 3 August 2019

3TEETH "Shutdown.exe" (2017)

Aesthetically speaking this band are absolutely my cup of tea. On this record we step back a fraction from the metallic element with a tonal shift towards the Electro-Industrial hilt. Distortion guitars are dialed back in presence from the meaty Metawar. A stronger emphasis is placed on the sonic pallet of busying robotic noises. Font man Mincolla sounds no less of his own, although the Manson mimicry is minimal, his voice is drenched in distortions and dystopian effects that have him drift into the middle of attention, like another layer of detail in the web of machine like constructs.

These songs are dense and textural, a tapestry of whirling mechanical, electronic and alien sounds that coheres into a cyber punk world of neon lights and endless smog. Its slightly uneasy, unsettled and futuristic, capturing a detachment from the natural world as one could imagine it the soundtrack to a dystopian vision of the future. With a plethora of sounds they decorate the blood pumping baselines and smashing thuds of kick and snare grooves that propel the songs forward. Softly screeching synths play rattled melodies and potent power chords inject force through the guitar element. It holds together a firm atmosphere that reminds me fondly of my favorite Industrial acts but doesn't go to far in defining itself.

As mentioned, Mincolla finds himself in the middle ground with all the other instruments that never seem to leap out at the listener. They all work on the same temperament and thus the album is short on attention grabbing tracks. It is most notably apparent with a lack of sing along hooks as his garbled voice often blends into the wall of sound. Atrophy manages to pull off a killer number as its elements are laid bare, chopping in and out. It gives the guitar a real kick when it drops in and the lyrics to seem to ride that wave. The rest of the songs make up a passing experience that comes in various degrees but under closer inspection it doesn't bite quite as hard.

Rating: 6/10
Favorite Tracks: Atrophy, Tower Of Disease

Monday, 29 July 2019

Bæst "Danse Macabre" (2018)

What does one do when your favorite Swedish Death Metal "super group" loses their way? You pray for this record! Its been seven years since Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth left Bloodbath and they haven't sounded the same. Not only did they loose the visceral edge of his gutteral demonic roar, the band pivoted stylistically with Grand Morbid Funeral. That's where Bæst come in! This Danish band have flown under the radar, not gaining much reputation yet dropping in with an absolutly infatuated debut album that simply picks up from where The Fathomless Mastery left off.

Singer Simon Olsen has an uncanny resembles to the dense and deep, throaty roars of Anderfeldt, one of the best voice in this territory. That textural shout was an instant draw, giving me goosebumps. The rest of the music follows suit. Ripping guitar tones, the varying temperaments of ferocious Death Metal. Aesthetically and musically these compositions really do mirror Bloodbath in the best of ways. You could label them a rip off but their music is so good it just doesn't matter. The key distinction is melody, a couple of the songs have a colorful lead they return to, bringing a little tune alongside the onslaught but its mostly that sound defined by another band, a pleasure for a fan.

The album is a tight Thirty Four minute affair deploying an assault of punishing music that only has respite with a couple of classical guitar interludes. They are vanilla but have a mysterious tone, perhaps lacking in layering or depth, they could of birthed a little more atmosphere. As just a lone instrument it fails to dazzle. The musics composition is fairly narrow, utilizing typical arrangements of blast beats, aggressive drum grooves and menacing guitar riffs that tend to sound best at their most brutal, with the added enjoyment of demented guitar solos and lead melodies waging in on occasion. Its a lot of fun and has really scratched an itch. Will be interesting to see where they go from here. A sophomore record looms later in the year!

Favorite Tracks: Crosswhore, Hecatomb, Ego To Absolvo
Rating: 7/10

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Queen "News Of The World" (1977)

It may be home to two of Queen's defining Arena Rock anthems known the world over but News Of The World is a haphazard record of eclectic directions lacking any cohesion. On their own these songs ain't so bad but they tend to fumble over one another. After opening anthems We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions, the rest of the run time seems stitched on with nothing resembling the amped up, cheer along style of these two numbers. Named after Sheer Heart Attack, track three blares into Punk influenced guitar tones thrashing at a monotone Industrial pacing. It deploys some rather bizarre feedback noise towards the end and the whole production sounds rather uninspired. Not a bad song but its coloring is drab. The record as a whole feels a step backwards.

From here the energy dissipates as ballads lull the flow and switch gears. Fight From The Inside makes it mark with Roger Taylor putting his stamp on the vocals. In general the tracks keep shifting in tone and the mediocrity of these songs has the bands diversity feel at odds with itself. It hits a low with Who Needs You. Exotic Spanish guitar makes for a sunny sandy song that lays its intentions bare. Its wildly out of place and lacks any subtly as even the percussion shakes it up with Maracas. You'd expect it to become something more that a simple mirroring of worldly musics.

Without fluidity and subtlety these lesser inspired songs just drift all over the place. They may be well written songs but the strands of these musicians influences tend to imitate rather than birth something new. Even the more typically Queen and theatrical songs lack the spark heard before. Freddie's voice may be a charm throughout but with Brian May being quiet on his guitar its lacking. I suspect with two smash songs under their belt the label may of pressured the group into releasing what feels like a set of B-Sides to bolster a record to sell alongside these cultural anthems.

Favorite Tracks: We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions
Rating: 5/10

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Batushka "Hospodi" (2019)

Yesterday I covered Panihida by a different artist, the founder, under the same Batushka moniker. The situation is somewhat rotten and this record, backed by Metal Blade records, will probably end up with the legal rights to the name however its very obvious these musicians can't quite do it the same way. With a bigger production budget a cushy aesthetic makes for a clearer separation of the elements. Rather than the extreme clattering barrage of its counterpart the instuments stand tall with clarity, making it easier to hear where this album steers from its originators vision.

The first few songs hold over a tone steeped in dark religion. Ritual bells plays between songs that brood the Orthodoxy atmosphere with the choral clean vocals lingering a fraction behind Drabikowski's original. The guitars have a space to breathe and boldly they occupy as a focal point above soft symphonics. By the third track a diversion unfolds, big chunky riffs unleash mosh grooves akin to Khold, a fusion of grim distortion and bombastic riffs in tune with Nu Metal and Groove Metal. Its the albums most stark brake in stride as other directions feel much closer to the darkened core. Its always the guitars that step outside expectations and expand the horizon. It would be a niche touch for the band to progress if under different circumstances.

With its cleaner production and expansive set of songs Hospodi offers a derivative experience, drifting from the Eastern Orthodoxy template that made this band so unique. It holds on to Clergy chants but it feels like dressing around a set of songs that have an anchor in a similar strain of darkness. Its more exciting given the diversity but you can hear the different minds behind it. Yesterday I wrote that Panihida was the better but only as a Batushka record. This one is has more dynamism and swells of intensity. Both are worth your time and different is my conclusion I guess!

Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Batushka "Panihida" (2019)

This post will be the first of two covering a pair albums born from an odd and unfavorable situation. The mysterious Batushka, a Polish Black Metal band inspired by Eastern Orthodoxy, is now split in a strange legal situation where the original artist has be shunned and seemingly screwed over legally as his hired band mates leveraged ownership of the band itself. Panihida is the record released by original artist Krzysztof Drabikowski, its a notch lower on production value as he does not have the resources a record label like Metal Blade does. They have also been dead silent on the situation, no response to Drabikowski's claims have been made.

I will kick it off by saying the tone and temperament of this follow up record holds true to Litourgiya. It lacks the impact the Gregorian clean vocals initially wooed fans with but that is to be expected. This time around another listed set of eight tracks go through the typical motions of extreme music, blasting drums rattle the cage and meaty rhythm guitars chime in duality with shrill tremolo picking that scales tarnished melodies. Soft choral synths and theologian singing softly line the crevasses but the best moments always seem born of their uprising to the forefront.

There isn't much in the barraging of evil metallic onslaught that feels special. Its well performed but tends to go through the motions sustaining the evil orthodoxy atmosphere. All the best moments are birthed through breaks from intensity. On occasion softy guitar leads bring melodic uplift but they are scarce. In the right mood it can be very enjoyable but it lacks that ability to suck you in regardless. The impact of the first record had that but this follow up is simply more of the same. I will write on the other record tomorrow and say now this is the better of the two but not by much.

Rating: 6/10

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Queen "Queen II" (1974)

The iconic cover art of the British Rock legendss second full length is an infamous one but that is mostly thanks to its revival within the Bohemian Rhapsody music video. This record may have otherwise fallen peril to the sands of time if Queen had ended the road here. That is just speculation of course, its a reasonable collection of songs that seem to relish in experimentation and the freedoms of Progressive song writing but little of it goes above and beyond. For me the genius of their sound is closer to an embryonic form, the tones Progressive Rock and a strong shimmer of Glam Rock overwhelm and restrain the diversity that would unfold in albums to come. I could be alone in this though as it seems critics adore this record. Is that retroactive or of the time? Either way I think hearing whats to come has dulled the spark in this second chapter as the styles of Rock and Metal of the era dominate the overall tone at play.

Queen II has a very strong vocal element with many layers of over dubbing creating a sense of grandiose and theater which would be done tastefully later on. In this instance its use is a little excessive and interjects the music like a synth instrument. There are times when it works and others not so much but it is certainly a showcase for Freddie's voice who gets to deploy a fair range of styles in the second half of the album. The whole thing however plays like an aimless journey, each song meanders through its motions with hardly any stand out moments. Its got a consistent tone that pivots with sudden music shifts and Roger Taylor puts his stamp in the middle of the record with The Loser In The End deploying his unique sound.

The records production is a little murky. Mustering roars of Heavy Metal energy from Brian May's guitar often end up in a clatter of collisions compromising clarity. They are often some of the best moments but with a lot going on musically it escapes the recording fidelity. Its clear Queen where being ambitious however many of the compositions and musical stunts pulled off may have been fresh and exciting at the time, it now sounds a little less grounded by the impressive song writing they would develop. Queen were young and youthful and its no surprise they would go on to do great things but at this point they are short. Its a strong, solid record but one that feels like its fallen to time, living in the shadow of sounds outgrown.

Rating: 5/10

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Mare Cognitum "Luminiferous Aether" (2016)

Living in the shadows of its predecessor Phobos Monolith, this fourth chapter from the American band fails to make a particular distinction of itself. Heliacal Rising sets the album off with haunting Ethereal tones of sullen dreary sombreness. A Post-Rock approach creates a scenic direction soon lost to the counteracting intensity. Only the lurching howls of agonizing screams that dissipate into the distance tie it to the Black Metal direction it soon embarks on. With a slow build up it lunges in with increasing degrees of distortion guitar resonance. By the second song we land on a hybrid of extreme musical intensity and crafty guitar work focused on forging esoteric atmospheres through non linear music that never quite engages me fully.

Its a rattle of pummeling drums bearing down on the listener as howling guitar leads foray into abstract melodies that lack the cosmic vibes of the previous record. The screams tend to land as intersecting slabs of noise, screeching out into the distance as heavy but short reverberations have them sink away. On paper this could all work but none of its emerging melodies quite strike a chord despite having clear lineage. Things do pick up heading into the end of the record, a darker atmosphere and agitated, aggressive riffs forge power over the brighter counterpart. These songs hold themselves together well with busying drumming and more interesting chord progressions.

Albums like this often pivot on mood and perhaps I have indulged too much in this form of Extreme Metal lately as its just not having an impact. It sounds technically wonderful and the production serves its intention well but through all the darkly music little of it has been as stimulating as Id expect. Much of the key musical progression emerges from design with the same blueprint and thus gets a little tiresome without any break out moments. Not one I'll probably come back to but it was an entertaining listen to say the least.

Favorite Track: Occultated Temporal Dimensions
Rating: 4/10

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Tycho "Weather" (2019)

Laid back tempos, hypnotically chilled atmospheres and exotic summer melodies. All the hallmarks of American musician Scott Hansen's distinct sound remain intact on this newest project. It is however a clearly watered down version of his immersive sound that broke out with Drive. Softer synthetic tones and less of those dreamy waves of hypnotic sound, it marks a departure perhaps. In comparison the percussion is subdued and many of the gorgeous sounding instruments play on the leaner side, letting timely reverberations carry the atmosphere over building songs with dense melodic design. Its all sweet and luscious but the swells of thickening sound and driving tunes that once made this a very special project seem to be absent.

A lighter temperament of whats been done before is no bother but for me the record slips away with the inclusion of Saint Sinner. I don't like to dwell on negatives but I find her voice all to plain and vanilla for a record in need of an energetic swell. With a flat, soft and airy singing style she doesn't convey much emotive expression. A few inflections and whispering words break up a rather monotone approach. She fits in around the instrumentals but I feel nothing other than mediocrity from their chemistry.

In the shadow of former work the magic this new chapter just feels tamed with a lack of new ideas. The best tracks are undoubtedly those without Saint and with more room for expression some of his classic alluring melodic style illuminates but its often brief. This is a well produced record tho, with indulgent tones and aesthetics it could chill out anyone in the right mind, however the vocal aspect doesn't work out well. They span five of these eight tracks and clocking in under thirty minutes its really lacking any spark. As an introduction to Tycho's sound it would probably fare well but as a fan this direction just feels toned down, offering nothing new.

Favorite Tracks: Easy, Into The Woods
Rating: 3/10

Monday, 15 July 2019

Billie Eilish "When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?" (2019)

Here's a fact that makes me feel drowsy, Billie was born after 9/11... Let that sink in, what a reminder of how time gets past you... Her name has circulated past me plenty of times and after hearing she broke records for youngest performing artist at various festivals I had to check this one out. When We Fall Asleep is her debut album and the Teenager's hype presents itself swiftly but lasts after many spins. With a charmingly soft and subdued voice, this fusion of Pop and Electronic music stands apart with an Avant-garde edge in vocal experimentation that toys with distortion and more.

The norms are present, typically sensible and poppy melodies linger throughout. Warm and easy pianos drop in chords to chime with airy synth tones in easily digestible arrangements. Softly strummed guitars and easy percussion make for light listening too, its all good stuff. Each song has its temperament and the charm emerges mostly from these snappy crunchy beats, that bite into stereo spectrum, crisp and brittle. With sharp attacks and swift decays they carry quite the subtle persuasion, infusing a keener edge that sticks into her mostly approachable music.

Across the songs her voice shows quite the dynamism, often breaking from the breathy and softly sung words that malign most the instrumentals. Heavenly choral harmonization and quirky pitch shifting, many of the songs have a twist that ends up being a focal point of delight. Playing with echos, reverbs, stuttering delays and distortion its clear that a lot of experimentation takes place in her process. Whats wonderful is how it lands on the target. Never does a vocal quirk feel forced, its all very inspirational and fluid, emotional and riveting in authenticity.

Her songs seem to be able to take these abstractions and flesh them out into living entities that feel and express. This even extends the spectacle of including samples from the Micheal Scarn episode of TV show The Office. On one hand it seems unrelated to the lyrics but somehow fits in. There isn't a moment of this record I don't love. Its well fleshed out with exciting musical experimentation that flourishes, swaying between emotive surges and bursts of percussive force. On a couple of tracks her vocal style almost borders ASMR, a slight irritation but a possible influence on a young artist who undoubtedly knows of the phenomena. This has been a fantastic record and I can't wait to hear what she will do next!

Favorite Tracks: You Should See Me In A Crowd, When The Partys Over, I Love You, Goodbye
Rating: 8/10

Friday, 12 July 2019

3TEETH "Metawar" (2019)

Hot damn do I love Industrial Metal and what a big meaty slab of electrocuted industrious filth this record is! Metawar is the Californian bands third full length and its undoubtedly my cup of tea but I can't praise it for originality. A fine tuned titanium studio production and good songwriting holds it up well against the obvious influences worn proudly here. From Nine Inch Nails, to Marilyn Manson, Ministry to Fear Factory and all in between, everything at play here feels but a fraction away from vibrations and moods conjured many a time before them, however it does have its own stamp.

The one place they excel is with the thrilling eight string guitar sound. Its dense, tight and lavished in a bludgeoning tone that inches towards sounding like moving parts of an industrial piston powered machine of death! They ring out with big chunks of booming momentous noise, taking influence from the likes of Nu and Groove Metal in its rhythmic sense of bounce. Its a delight mixing in alongside the harsh and jarring synths blare out anti-melodies. They feed into the unsatisfied, angry and dystopian feeling of rebellion these songs cry like anthems. The battering drums and deep baselines ram themselves into the condensed wall of noise being propelled your way, its a cohesive force of destruction that batters with its industrial metallic might.

Singer Alexis Mincolla has a firm and defining presence in the limelight. Roaring with fiery, strained screams between twisted, tormented spoken words of infliction he sounds apologetically like Manson. If they shared a third factor its the ability to put a sung hook down in a nature that grabs your attention but living in the shadow of such an artist he only occasionally escapes that mold of seeming like his influence. Its so well executed that its no drawback. If your looking for originality it may only be in one department but when it comes to the music this will easily win over Industrial fans.

At forty six minutes it does run through a fair few mediocre songs. The energy and temperament shifts through aggressive, atmospheric and alien vibes to keep it flowing however after a handful of listens you'll suss out your favorites. Its best comes on a handful of tracks and despite sounding utterly sharp and pounding the songs don't quite reach for the stars. There is much too love here, much promise for this band and if they continue improving I could see this sound being pushed further.

Favorite Tracks: Affluenze, American Landfill, President X, Pumped Up Kicks
Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

The Comet Is Coming "Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery" (2019)

 In this age of bizarre and unusual musical machinations aided through digital connectivity, this London based trio, The Comet Is Coming, have an eclectic but related assembling of influences. It does however sound as if this could of taken place in the 90s. Jazz Fusion, Progressive Rock, Psychedelia and Electronic music collide with a hint of metallic rhythm styling to the likes of Groove Metal underpinning the approaches to groove and melody. With a drummer, saxophone and keyboard players these three make a rich tapestries of oozing sound, weaving layers of soaring sound between the thudding backbone of rhythm that propels these songs along.

Its typically progressive, winding passages of vividly colorful instrumental tapestry evolves beneath the ever adventuring and freely expressive Sax that jams and howls in the wind. It does however find its way around to stomping drives of primitive minimalism as a couple of notes will rhythmically bounce similar to a Machine Head riff. In these moments one could perhaps hear it as a guitar riff but its execution with the electronic synths hails to EDM and Dance music. Its magnetic and also infects the Sax which occasionally breaks from its advantageous swells of dexterous freting into simplistic dances between a handful of notes.

The three have a sparkling chemistry however its drummer Max Hallett who puts the cherry on top. Oozing, luscious spacey synths aside, the constantly animated and lively percussion seems to anchor everything together. its almost like a third instrument when the beat drops out and an array of symbols shimmer like stars. The range and timbre is enjoyable too, at first its mainly a more Rock oriented kit but as the album develops more worldly drum tones become involved. The only vocal element comes from Kate Tempest who lends her voice and poetry with an impactful appearance that suits the instrumental sound well.

The albums structure and duration feels very tasteful. At forty five minutes it manages to feel lengthy and epic without being a slug. Only one song gets deep into length at eight minutes, most are four five and hold attention from start to end. With slick transitions each song ends up feeling like one part of the bigger picture making for an engrossing listening experience! There isn't a dull moment here however a couple of tribal bass thumping grooves certainly get my attention the most. Cracking record I think will stay with me for years to come!

Favorite Tracks: Because The End Is Really The Beginning, Blood Of The Past
Rating: 7/10

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Slowthai "Nothing Great About Britain" (2019)

This debut album by up and coming Grime rapper Slowthai sets a candid tone from the offset with its "Nothing Great About Britain" title. Its a striking statement reflecting the albums mood and grim outlook on the failed estates of England's working class. With a sharp talent for the mic, a unique vocal inflections on pronunciation and a fine set of instrumentals this makes for a riotous listen. Despite the lingering gritty gloom of his pessimistic perspective, the tales and story's of urban life trapped on this island are captivating and elevated by the energy he packs. Sturdy rhyme skills, boisterous presence and ripe youthful vitality, Slowthai can be playful and cheeky at times with no shortage of attitude but beneath it all lies thoughtful expressions that offers a lot to think on for the challenges of the youth in this country today.

Socially and politically aware, Tyron tackles the hardest of topics including mental health, poverty and drug abuse with a raw and unapologetic attitude to make light of itself in the haze of his exuberant liveliness. Hailing from Northampton he embraces his identity and heritage without pride but an authenticity that is a firm fit for the Grime sound. Going through all the temperaments he can take this sound to measured places. Doorman has a fantastic Punk energy to match his accent drenched singing, it flows between typically styled Grime beats, influenced by the likes of early Dizzee Rascal. In other tracks like Gorgous, Crack and Toaster, he slips into more soulful and reflective flow, showing a sensitive, appreciative side to himself too. The last three songs dive deeper into the dark and the album packs an absolute banger with Inglorious, featuring Skepta who delivers a veterans rap. Its a wild song, a big booming baseline with heavy lyrics cruising over the crusing beat.

Eleven tracks at thirty two minutes, the young artist makes an autobiographical arrival with a curated experience seeking quality over content. Luring you in with lively instrumentals you'll stay for the authenticity. Slowthai is a big persona, animating himself vividly with clever lyricism and the occasional implementation of his unique high pitched vocal slur. At times his words do fall to folly, taking aims at the royals with little said on why for example. He is at his best when giving personal tales and thoughts of which there are plenty. If he grows as an artist he could go on to do great things. This debut is not without its flaws but it shows his spark effortlessly.

Favorite Tracks: Doorman, Inglorious, Northampton's Child
Rating: 8/10

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Schoolboy Q "CrasH Talk" (2019)

Schoolboy Q is back with his fifth full length record, another cut of rugged street flavored rhymes and slick urban instrumentals. At forty minutes it represents his leanest project to date, which I can't label as quality over quantity. Many of these songs fail to show themselves without dedicated listening. Nothing to be found like a Hover Street, the sort of song that grabs you by the neck and commands your attention. This records best song by a good stretch is Chopstix, coming from the mind of Travis Scott. His synthetic production style and chorus hook nails a intoxicating vibe that would fit sweetly into one of his own projects.

Q comes to the mic as a mean front man, bringing a range of vocal styles to his new project. Often he sounds slightly agitated with a confident demeanor. Keenly pronounced, he affirms himself with steady flows and lyrics that most wavier above mediocrity. With little making a mark the record hits some stiff jarring creative choices. The dreary interlude track Drunk hits a wall with Q rapping with the signature Drake "Ahye" crutch, its one of many aproaches and he changes up his style so often its hard to know who's who. The track Floating has one of the weakest spoken word slurred flows going, I think from 21 Savage. Floating takes an award for the weakest hook, "I got that water, Yea, I got that water". Its dull and a one to endure.

The instrumentals are hit and miss, a good mix of modern kits and sampling oriented vibes. Luckily it sounds like the best hooks land on the strongest instrumentals, yielding a handful of songs to go back on between many unfavorable ones. Handled mostly by three or so producers they conjure up a variety that doesn't have any particular flow across the forty minutes. The experience tends to drag despite short songs, most of which don't pass three minutes. This was all to run of the mill, no focus or arching theme, Q's words don't leave the page to often and its not to the last song that we get a wiff of his flair. Its not awful but Ive found myself expecting so much more from this talented artist.

Favorite Tracks: Chopstix, Lies, 5200, Die Wit Em, Attention
Rating: 4/10

Monday, 1 July 2019

Kate Tempest "The Book Of Traps And Lessons" (2019)

I was dead excited for this release, Everybody Down and Let Them Eat Chaos made quite the impact. Kate's heavy and burdensome poetry paired with impoverished Hip Hop instrumentals made quite a unique potion of the classic formula. This time around there is a clear shift in tone, the limelight lands firmly on Kate as the pace and foundation of drum beats are far between one another. The subtlety of dark ambience pianos, strings and atmospheric keys softly shade the space around her words.

It plays like a poetry piece mustering winds of momentum as the instruments occasionally pick up the musky tone and carry it along. Kate is otherwise quite the smothering ache of your attention. The bleak and quiet despair of mundane existence grasps her words as details of failed relationships, social pressure and societal observations manifest into spiraling thought worms. Occasional flickers of wisdom, conclusion or relief linger but the majority of this record is quite a weight on the listener.

The tenderness and vulnerability captured in her voice seals the authenticity of this expression. Wordplay, narrative and innuendo interweave as trains of consciousness collide with thawed out thoughts, articulated to an exhibit. Its undoubtedly deep and comes in waves of topics, feeling like a linear narrative that seems to fly all over the place. There is much to chew through here however its not quite for me.

The problem I have with this record is how doom and gloom the tone is. Both introspection and outwards reflection finds no light between the clouds. It becomes a downtrodden journey sucking away mood when the already quite instrumentals strip to a silence. Kate's words are inescapable in these moments and her words ring the alarms a degree to paranoid for my taste. These big topics tackled are done so with a bias for the depressing and despite a beauty in her language its path is one that brings you with it. The uplift and conclusion it ends with too feels in too much contrast to all that came before. Its an unsatisfying and forceful look into the shadows.

Favorite Track: Firesmoke
Rating: 5/10

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Queen "A Day At The Races" (1976)

Proceeding from the sensational heights of Bohemian Rhapsody on counterpart record A Night At The Opera, British legends Queen return with a shaky response from critics at that time, forty three years ago. I find myself at odds with the criticism weighed upon the band. The former record came with peaks and valleys, songs that soared and delves into pantomime theatrics that dispelled the flow in places. A Day At The Races is a far more leveled and cohesive record where the bands eclecticism sticks like glue without a week spot. The problem is however that not a lot here is that remarkable in comparison. The Millionaire Waltz may be its only soaring moment as playful theater musical jollity collides with riveting Heavy Metal licks at weighty chords that culminate in a mid song eruption of electricity... Only Queen could do this.

Starting to develop a better understand of the band, one can hear creaking similarities and writing crutches in the music. Roger Taylor seems to have an uncanny knack of mustering a distinct persona with his song Drowse, perhaps the vocals give it away but then again this is a band of four song writers and given at least a song each it is no surprise these thumbprints arise. Writing these words I can see how these perspectives can be leveraged against the record but It plays so smoothly.

Rolling from one song to the next it ebbs and flows, Brian May's guitar electrifying when timeless Freddie is absent. These spurts of textural heavy guitar tone erupt, filling key parts of the music with true imagination throughout its run time. The intro has a particular glorious use of tape reversed guitar lead to create a suspenseful opening to the record. It is heard again as the record closes on Teo Torriatte, a song half sung in Japanese that peaks with moving group chorals as it reaches its end. A really firm record that flows far better than anything before it but perhaps suffering from to little of their peak magics yet the songwriting is fantastic at uniting style as you'd expect.

Favorite Tracks: Tie Your Mother Down, The Millionaire Waltz, Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy, Drowse
Rating: 7/10

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Wolf Hoffmann "Headbangers Symphony" (2016)

There is not much for me to say on this record other than commending it on being a stellar execution of an idea many have flirted with over the years. Given the musical similarities between Heavy Metal and Classical music, not aesthetic of course, It is not to uncommon to see these worlds collide but what Wolf Hoffmann of Accept has done is tastefully unite crunching guitars and battering drums with its symphonic counterpart in a way that relishes the common ground. It will undoubtedly be more appealing to Metal fans as the aggressive instruments have a habit of dominating the synergy but the string arrangements and orchestra get to have a say in how these songs land.

The line up is impressive, not the most best known Classical songs but certainly ones from big names... Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Bach, Vivaldi and Beethoven to name a few. Most adaptations work on the darker leaning of Heavy Metal aggression but Swan Lake and the closing Air On The G String yield a classy uplift from his burly distortion instruments. Its actually what I would like to of heard more of as the likes of Night On Bald Mountain and Double Cello Concerto In G Minor lend themselves all to easily. Either way its a fantastic record, well produced with clarity in mind as the two worlds collide in style. A must listen for fans of both genres.

Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Mare Cognitum "Phobos Monolith" (2014)

It was once the experience of a music lover to flick through crates of vinyl sleeves in a dusty record store, looking for something to land your attention and empty your wallet. In the digital age it is Bandcamp alone that has managed to recreate that market place feeling and so easily am I sucked in to browsing binges. If this illustrious artwork and the promise of "Cosmic Black Metal" isn't enough to lure me in then abandon awaits thee. Fortunately this music matches the class of this modern Black Metal act, a one man band from Portland Oregon. Its got all the shades of Progressive, Post and Shoegaze, not wondering far from the American blueprint, culminating in a sweet experience of darkly voyages into the symphonic abyss.

Two of its four tracks reside more so in the traditional lane. Entropic Hallucinations opens up with a devilish, infesting blast beat and snaky grinding guitar riff played with an allure aided from a sweep effect cruising past its hurtling rhythm like icy winds. Ephemeral Eternities, being the other, also has cunning execution of blast beats with rapid tom drum fire. Going through progressive structures that "follows ones nose" so to speak, they embark on arrangements of tremolo riffs, maniacal drumming and screams both guttural and shrill that check all the boxes of familiarity with inklings of particular bands as influences on this flavorful journey of scale.

The records production to be merited. Phobos Monolith for all its extremities is masterfully mixed to make cushioned and warm tones of all its instruments. They reside within reverberated spaces to amplify its cosmic, astral leaning in theme. The song writing is also champion, it can lock in your attention for fifty minutes as these songs twist, wind, soar and scale. Album opener Weaving The Thread Of Transcendence take a prize for the most progressive track, starting from mysterious embers it stokes a flame that turns into a roaring fire of color as the song blossoms with bright guitar leads and plundering unions with a hurtling momentum stoked by the drumming.

Noumenon rocks the shoegazing strand strongly on a warm and colorful track that almost sways into Alcest territory if it wasn't for snarling, viscous screams anchoring it to darkness. As mentioned before this record has many flavors and they come together sweetly. A very solid record, perhaps just shy of greatness, missing something exceptional. Its foundation is bedrock but never quite exceeds itself. Very impressive, I will be back to check out more of this band soon!

Rating: 7/10

Friday, 21 June 2019

Future "Save Me" (2019)

The self titled Future was a fun record. I found it in the perfect mood for some fun Trap flavor. Fancying some more I went for this new EP but the seven track Save Me offers isn't quite that. Future experiments with a new direction while still operating within the Trap and Mumble Rap circle. The Atlanta rapper brings a host of producers onboard to create a sound very much following in the footsteps of Travis Scott. The result is hit and miss, mostly miss, on the production front. Future's braggadocio and excessively slurred and stylized wording leaves much to be desired but generally amplifies the beats that don't land as well with shallow lyrics. There is a loose theme of drug abuse and mental health but it drops off after the opening track, resurfacing vaguely in spots.

There is a lot of glossy reverb, auto tune and voicing at work. It has a soft Ethereal edge with its indulgent tone but can barely escape the grasp of its influences. Many bursts of vocal groans and discernible auto tune inflections reek of Rodeo, even arrangements and constructs have a uncanny blueprint. A merit is found with Shotgun, a poppy sung vocal hook reigns in the airy atmosphere at work. Its sunny, uplifting but with a belly of melancholy. Very catchy but little else of the record finds this chemistry and with a lack of engaging lyricism the Trap and Mumble tropes end up being rather irritating. Unfortunately its mostly forgettable.

Favorite Track: Shotgun
Rating: 3/10

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Living Colour "Stain" (1993)

I may just close the book on this particular musical avenue. A staleness is setting in from a band in steady decline. Their sparkling debut Vivid was quite the experience but since then the re-arranging of influences isn't landing anywhere significant. This time around a tonal rawness and Industrial edge are introduced. Its crass production takes a step back again, the guitar tone has a loose, gritty tone, fit for Thrash and Hardcore riffs but lacking glue. Its on a separate plane from the bass guitar and the musical aesthetic has a sparseness Glover barely holds together with his singing.

His presence is warm in tone, smooth in delivery but the lyrics are handled bluntly. Ideals and topics are persuaded through plain language that sounds so of the time and frankly dated. Its socially and political oriented as you'd expect and the themes range from wealth guilt to sexuality and all of them are expressed with little room for reflection. Essentially I am listing points where this record doesn't resonate. Nothing here is truly awful but the record passes without any attention grabbing moments.

Vernon Reid does get to flash off his advantageous guitaring ability with wild, erupting, dazzling solos however they arise from mediocrity which dampens the impact. There is actually a fair arsenal of thrash and groove riffs in the mix but something in albums raw aesthetic dispels any magic. Auslander is a good example of a track set to bang. Its got a driving Industrial backbone and rowdy baseline yet the two don't gel and the song drifts into a monotone, lifeless drone that chops and churns its way by.

Leave It Alone is about the only song that really has something going for. The rest just gets by on a limb, then Wtff arrives with a turn table break beat jam and the record drops of completely for the remaining few songs. Its a strange record because its loaded with good riffs and interesting elements but none of it fuses and the whole thing is left stiff and stale. Its disappointing but not awful, worth a spin but no more.

Favorite Track: Leave It Alone
Rating: 4/10

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Annotations Of An Autopsy "World Of Sludge" (2019)

Annotations Of An Autopsy... here is a band Id not thought of in some time! They were once the brief obsession of my friendship group back in the boom era of the emerging Deathcore music scene. It was mostly their utterly vile and misogynist lyrics that would grab attention. The music was equally disgusting, an ugly cesspit of pig squeals, Sludge, Death Metal and Slam that doesn't hold up well over a decade later.

I was initially excited upon seeing news of their return with a short five track EP. For some reason I thought the absense might yield a new matured perspective on their former "brutality". Unfortunately its as if they have been kept on ice, unleashing new music almost ignorant to anything that has happened in Extreme Metal over the last ten years. Even clocking in at under twenty minutes its an utter grind to endure.

This is mostly down to one element, the vocals. The instrumentals are competent in performance, dulled in creativity. Its a typical cramming of guitar chugs, snaky tremolo melodies and slam grooves, recycling the same stomp over and over. They chop up the drum measures to shift the pace and create plenty of alternating bounces and slams. None of the five tracks reach anything significant. Even the obvious "big moments" of the track seem to muster little more than a reiteration of the song so far.

At the musics forefront vocalist Regan throws out some meaty guttural shouts with gritty texture but this is where things slip up. His utterly wretched pig squeals sound like a joke. These squeals resemble a squawking crow being strangled to death. They are high pitched, ridiculous, shrill and irritating. Its hard to take seriously and the utterly valueless and immature lyrics drag it further into the gutter. It really dispels what little atmosphere is being mustered and puts a downer on the whole thing.

Rating: 2/10

Monday, 17 June 2019

My Weekend At Download Festival 2019

Going for both Saturday and Sunday this year I had some miraculous fortune being in the right places at the right time to miss out on the rain. There was no avoiding the mud though! Not a lick of grass insight, the arena was a mud bath but I got through it and had a fantastic time. Once again the festival delivers on a magic I manage to convince myself is going to run out as the years roll and this year was no exception, the headliners really delivered something special. This year I thought I'd right about the highlights, good and bad, despite catching many more acts over the two days!

Power Trip
I saw this band not so long ago opening for Napalm Death in a small club and they blew me away with their 80s Slayer-alike Thrash Metal. It was great to know they could grab the attention of the festival organizers but a main stage slot was unexpected however given what a mighty show they put on it is no surprise. There strong songwriting for a tried and tested formula really matched the crowd and the probably won over a lot of new fans with an explosive show!

It was my first time catching the Devilish legends Behemoth, their music was a strange translation to summer sunny skies on the main stage but impressive costume design and stage makeup made it work. The performance was engaging and tearing through some strong at utterly dark songs they really made quite the impression as a band I need to get more familiar with!

The Hu
 There was no way I was missing the opertunity to see a Mongolian Metal band! Squeezing into a rammed tent the crowd was electrified to see a really unique and almost drone like vibe emerge from the fusion of Metal and native Mongolian instruments. It went by in a flash! I had checked them out before but this live show really helped bridge a gap in their music.

Making their way onto my highlights list for all the wrong reasons. Russian Orthodoxy inspired Batushka had me dead excited for their notorious live show, however taking an age to to set up an elaborate stage of era furnishings and ornaments, their slow arrival to the stage became a drag. Going through some sort of slow candle lighting ceremony they took far to long, overplayed their set time and took more than five minutes between the three songs they churned though doing dull rituals of candle lighting and blessing books. It was a sham and they angered a lot of fans with the poor execution of their show. It did not translate to festival restraints.

Die Antwood
 Hear the booming bass from the Tent where Batushka were dampening spirits I was dead excited to catch the quirky South African Rave Rap duo! Unfortunately I only caught the trail end of their set however it was an absolute riot! The sound system was blaring and their energy on the stage was phenomenal. I couldn't help but move. Its really nice to have something break the flow of similar music being played around the festival. Would have loved to have seen more of it, shame about set overrun but these things happen.

 Prior to the show I had been feeling a little hesitant with Joey and now Fenn's departure. It was however a dynamite show from a band who seemed focused on giving us the absolute best. Corey Taylor was pitch perfect and ten years on from one of the greatest shows Id ever seen, the Knot proved they still have it! It was very emotional, strong memories of my social groups bonding over this band in our youth and that feeling of freedom when your inside the song, inside the moment, free of life's burdens. Only a few bands can do that and Slipknot is one of them, with deep cuts like Get This and Scissors it felt truly special.

Cane Hill
 With delays for fans entering the arena Cane Hill has to kick off Sunday to a small crowd however they gave it their all and a being at the front one could get a better appreciation of guitarists unique playing style and use of effects. As a band they have obvious influences from Korn and Nu-Metal however it made clear that they are bringing their own style and it rocked hard!

 Ive been waiting a fair few years for my opportunity to catch Alcest and they did not disappoint! Their serine music translated beautifully to the intimacy of the small stage and their enchanting singing was captivating. The sound was impeccable and these songs came to life on the stage! Wonderful set.

 Ive never gotten that deep into this Deathcore band however of the times I have seen them they have always been killer. Clearly oversold on the smallest stage, a rammed audience squeezed in and despite being at the back, barely able to see the stage the sound was impeccable. Their trio of baritone guitars were crushing and they soared through a brutal set of tracks. Perhaps this is an advantage of listening from next to the sound desk!

Smashing Pumpkins
 They feel somewhat like a recent discovery for me. Its always 90s bands that seem to get to my heart and I would have been thrilled for this show had I not seen them earlier in the year. It seems they are good friends with Amalie Bruun of Myrkur. They brought her out to do a Black Sabbath cover together which has a special atmosphere to it. Their show was reasonable, amazing set design but It feels like they have ambled through the last fifteen years missing out on the opertunity to establish themselves as a headline act. Billy's stage presence is left to be desired between songs but the performances themselves were fantastic.

Its farewell to the legendary Slayer from this side of the pond. I would of loved to see the whole show but the beginning was absolute fire and ever over thirty years into it they can still pull of their songs with a manic intensity. Tom sounded fierce and the live show is certainly not the reason they are calling it curtains. There was a huge fan turn out for the legends but I had to leave early to get my spot for Tool.

They have been my band of choice to "get into" this year. Many, many hours churning through their discography, which seemed so difficult to get at first. Having got through every record I made the drive north listening to Tool and really starting to connect with the music in anticipation. Live music always has this magic and I shouldn't of been surprised to have it unleashed again. At first the show felt a little underwhelming, no cameras on the band and nothing but trippy visuals plastered across the big screens. It didn't take long for me to realize how much the band wanted the show to be about the music. Their flawless executions of dense and difficult music became a beacon of light and all of a sudden I felt that "strangeness" around their music disappear. It made complete sense, I was converted to a die hard fan and blasted nothing but Tool on the late drive home too. An utterly amazing show to end the weekend on.