Monday, 29 April 2019

Hexenkraft "The Infernal Schism" (2017)

The Infernal Schism is the second mini album from Synthwave outfit Hexenkraft. Its a pivot from the genres tropes to a far more fitting direction. The diabolical theme, present in name, presentation and sound, finds a different temperament across its five tracks. The pulsating, energetic, oscillating synths are deployed at a steady pace with a target on atmosphere and scale, as opposed to high octane onslaught that came before. Gone are the driving, thudding kicks and cutting snares of club EDM beats. Now the drum patterns utilize space as a weapon, casting a bare framework to build percussive tangents out of, many of which are rather gaudy and unsatisfying given the pallet of sounds. Clinging to them, a swirl of unraveling synths, buzzing and phasing across the soundscape. Loose forms of melodies drop in and out of focus and occasionally some heights are scaled by lead synths playing out a form of nightly adventurous solo. There is even an actual distortion guitar solo stashed in here too.

Despite this pivotal move to a steady, brooding beast, the same problems plague the music. Its overselling of the theme leaves a couple tracks out of color. It does however conjure streaks of gusto as its components align with a sinister presence, the likes found from the comfort of a video game. The final track gets fired up with aid from heretic samples. After its opening phase the song lulls with suspense as its synths steadily build to the unleashing of some chunky Industrial Metal style guitar emulating tones. Its got Metal fever and energy to match, a big bow out for a rather mediocre project. A lot of the record is meandering and without conclusion of direction. The occasional Doom snippets muster some excitement but unless in the right mood, often as background music, it doesn't hold up so well. It would however make a fantastic game soundtrack. Music like this often does and If I had gotten into it charging down corridors of a demon infested mars base, blasting weapons at beastly creatures, I'm sure id love it. Its a fair grade better than the debut, the shift in direction a fitting one but there is still a long way for this project to go in my opinion.

Favorite Track: Diabolus Ex Nihilo
Rating: 5/10

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Queen "Sheer Heart Attack" (1974)

Its been another eye... or should I say ear opening record from a band already enamored with global legendary status. Diving into their records has shun a light upon the depths of their brilliance and highlighted what a diverse and eclectic group of musicians they really are. Its something rather uncommon at the peaks of popular music. Sheer Heart Attack is Queen's third full length, proceeded by their magnum opus A Night At The Opera. The two share a common identity, thirteen tracks, around forty minutes of music and songs adopting a similar molding cast within an equally theatrical run through of their opposing ends of style and genre.

Brighton Rock kicks the record off with a glorious Freddie Mercury reaching into the peaks of his range with a pinched voice, harmonizing with the organically unfolding set of riffs alongside him. Its captivating and as the song builds its persona and structure they turn and loosen up into a set of miniature guitar solo licks before taking over the music entirely with a tangent of riff rocking, guitar jamming and tight pick chugging grooves that sound practically Proto-Thrash in snippets. Its a Heavy Metal delight.

It pivots into the classic Killer Queen, the pianos gleam a fun jollity from their chords. Its in contrast to the buzzing energy before it and somehow it works... That's what Queen do! A few other tracks feels more so from a mold, Roger Taylor gets the third song again, Tenement Funster. Perhaps its his voice but the song is uncanny in comparison to the feel of I'm In Love With My Car. Its a lightning start, aligned with an unending source of groove and sweet licks from Brian May's brilliant input.

After this point the record finds its theatrical and pantomime breaks in flow through Freddies songs, Lilly Of The Valley, Lap Of The Gods and Bring Back That Leroy Brown. The best union of these contrasting sides is to be found on Stone Cold Crazy, a hard hitting Heavy Metal track with some seriously gripping guitar work that rubs right up against Mercuries performance antics, jiving of the fast clicking percussion. The transitions are sublime, bottled lightning unleashed as the guitars drop fiery harmonies, scattered with infectious attitude all over the place.

Unlike its proceeding record, Sheer Heart Attack doesn't quite have the dynamics. The bands eclecticism bounces of the walls but there are moments of magic left right and center where it comes together. Brian May's guitar work has been a revelation. Their is so much on this record you could link to the future of Metal music to come and in this form its utterly riveting. His use of effects with echos and reverberations is particularly satisfying. I prefer the songs here individually but as an album its a shade behind the flow of their best work.

Favorite Tracks: Brighton Rock, Killer Queen, Tenement Funster, Stone Cold Crazy, Misfire
Rating: 8/10

Friday, 26 April 2019

Arkhtinn "IV" (2017)

It felt like a blessing to have finally stumbled upon another band emulating the shivering abyss of existential dread Darkspace once conjured. It immediately caught my ear once I heard the distinct lack of high range frequency and a claustrophobic aesthetic. The same tropes are deployed, bass and distortion guitars meld with relentless blast beats to form a nauseating force of ambiguous dark pummeling. Its discernible nature is its mystique, setting the tone for synths to rise from the deathly depths and plunge the listener through a sense of cascading epic that I simply adore.

This mysterious French bands albums are all free to devour on bandcamp. I decided to start here at the forth installment because the first free have raw and ropy production, too much for my tastes. This record, like all the others, comprises of two similar length songs. The first twenty minutes are the evil ecstasy and the second half a Dark Ambient piece of droning sounds relishing in their ambiguous form. Tension is mounted and sustained as an atmosphere of unease gets conjured by these soft and eerie drones that creek and groan over the soft underlying organ alike synth tone. Its brooding, frightful and slightly dystopian.

The Black Metal song is mainly kicked along by its underbelly of rising synth that queues all the musical shifts. Its chord changes feel like a revelation as the suspense of the unending pummeling is pivoted to new heights without changing its onslaught. The guitar work finds its roll in tremolo picking scaling melodies that rise and fall with menace. Towards the latter stages the song breaks up the flow with chunky rhythm guitar chugging, much like Darkspace do. After that point the darkness seems to ponder on the same intensity and lacks a gratifying conclusion.

The vocals are a treat too, mean beastly growls and shrill harrowing screams are elongated consistently. They have a traditional edge but the reverberations and low fidelity capturing lets them slip right into the sound design as another layer of despair. The record is a real pleasure, to finally have something new from a niche I adore. I particularly love the astral, spacial feel of the music. With a keen ear one can hear the glistening of stars flickering as glimmers of glossy synth barely peaking through the wall of utterly ferocious sound. Great record, can't wait for the next installment.

Rating: 6/10

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Hexenkraft "Hexenkraft" (2016)

With the discovery of Hexenkraft Ive stumbled upon one musicans diabolical answer to the retro inspired Synthwave scene. The music already tends to lean towards shadows given its origins in 80s Horror through the soundtracks of John Carpenter. Dance With The Dead embody that spirit and others like Dan Terminus takes it in a night life, cyber punk direction. This project however takes a clear inspiration from video game Doom with its satanic iconography and similarities to the soundtrack.

Its "evil" inspiration is far more thematic than felt, the record deploys no low fidelity ambiguity, wretched screaming or ripping guitars. It turns in the opposite direction, its synths cut hard buzz saw waves with instantaneous attacks and minimal decays for harsh envelopes to deliver a punchy, snappy, high octane experience of electronics. It initially turned me off, the aesthetics came across sterile and clinical but through its construct does emerge a sense of atmosphere and partially devilish semantics.

 The music has a core of firm tempo drum patterns that rattle off slick, hard, thumping percussive aesthetics over a triad or more of basslines. They groove in the form of razor sharp waves toting dexterous, textural oscillations off one another. Its a driving force in the low range that leaves room for its lead synths to queue in the melody and direction in the spaces above. Once again its achieved with slick and pristine wave forms, often transitioning through some form of phase effect on its journey.

The Hexenkraft name and evil intention is a little overplayed in comparison to the musics tone. Its final of four tracks does strike a nerve with an audio sample, probably from a horror movie. Two figures exchang dialog of diabolic inspiration and the ferocity of the possessed individuals voice brings a menace and danger the instrumentals don't muster on their own. Its been a fun listen but the name and nefarious artwork oversells itself in comparison to what other artists have done with this theme.

Favorite Track: Inspirati A Diabolo
Rating: 4/10

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Living Colour "Biscuits" (1991)

When it comes to music I am somewhat of a completionist, which leads me too this disposable EP released between albums. It also means a negative blog post, something I am not fond of. Here we have six tracks, comprising of five unreleased songs, three of them performed live and my favorite Living Color song Desperate People, also live. Each track seems to be scared by some jarring feature that taints the whole experience to a rushed throwaway. Two of the tracks feature scratching samples with a generic 80s rawness. Its hard and mixed in over the rest of the music for a disparaging equilibrium that stains mediocre songs with an unfinished feeling. The second of these had potential however. Its Ska basslines and esoteric, dreary, gothic guitars muster interest that's interrupted by tone deaf scratching.

The live performance of Desperate People from Vivid has all the enthusiasm and electricity of a wild show but the music is overplayed, too many variations and additional guitar noise gives an impression of the band getting to into the energy of playing and sacrificing a lot of fidelity. Further into the song Glover falls off key and it doesn't paint a good sell for the live show. On another tracks he moans and groans into the mic in a way that never sounds quite right... I could go on but you get the point, the quality here is sub par and with some bold annoyances on the project it just feels like a quick hash of material pulled together without much thought.

Rating: 2/10

Friday, 19 April 2019

Sleepy Sun "Embrace" (2009)

With greatness among my expectations, a step back to the debut record from Californian Psychedelic Rock outfit Sleepy Sun has felt like one too. Lurking in the shadows of Fever, this album was initially underwhelming in its similarities, the same sword swung with a duller blade. Many of the same key shifts, chord arrangements and harmonies occupy a well established aesthetic that runs parallel. Its jam sections, indulgences with noise and unwinding atmospheres pool from the same source yet despite wanting more of that Fever magic, it isn't quite here. I can't put my finger on the distance, is it familiarity? The folly of working in reverse? After a myriad of attempts with this record I make peace with my mediocre enjoyment of it.

The band have a beautiful aesthetic in some compositions, a soothing persuasion, soft and warm vocal phrases, gentle dusty guitars and a measured percussion that adds up to a subtle psychedelic intoxication. They also like to lean brazen on dirty distortion tones in the energetic swells of madness. It is that aspect that didn't pull off so well on this record. Its hypnotic tracks like Golden Artifact gleam in the light but the grit and gristle of mean fuzzy overdriven tones sound loose and unfocused on the other end of the spectrum with a song like Redblack.

The album doesn't get much of a flow going with the disharmony of their abrasive side interrupting the swells of mood and atmosphere some passageways cultivate. White Dove does a great job at defining an equilibrium as its opposites converge on a mighty grooving guitar riff but its lengthy nine minutes journey looses structure delving into a tangent that doesn't lead anywhere. Ive tried my best with this one and despite much similarity it feels like the musics core is missing something the next record will gain in abundance! For now I will move forward to their third.

Favorite Tracks: Lord, Golden Artifact
Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Czarface & Ghostface "Czarface Meets Ghostface" (2019)

There back and this time the trio team up with another Wu-Tang Clan member, non other than Ghostface Killah! Who many consider the greatest talent to emerge from the collective. This new chapter, themed loosely around classic comic book vibes again, looses a little freshness from the lack of surprise in its tone and demeanor. The instrumentals bring tight percussive grooves on loops with steady sampling and arrangements to set a tone complimentary to the theme. The voicing of heroes and villains in dialog has the most impact but the beats never muster much gusto to spark imagination, they are mostly reliant on darkly vibes from the sampling selection.
On this record its the rhymes that are king and there is a lot of meat to chew through in its compact forty minutes. Ghostface and Inspectah Deck go hard with endless strings of coherent and intelligent rhymes, his Czarface collaborator deploys flows very akin to Jay-Z in spots. The Wu-Tang pair are consistent in quality, spitting like the veterans they are. Flows are slick, rhymes are smart and witty and across the record a handful of lines stick in the mind. It is however Inspectah who edges out his guest. You might expect Ghostface, the more acclaimed rapper, to have the best material but it didn't seems so. Its another collection of firm beats and creative raps which doesn't leave me with anything drastic to comment on, it was a good listen however the instrumentals could of raised the game but otherwise time well spent.

Favorite Track: Masked Superstars
Rating: 6/10

Monday, 15 April 2019

Living Colour "Time's Up" (1990)

There was no way I wouldn't pick up another album after discovering Vivid. Its a wonderful debut from the New York band who were fusing genres and setting the sound for 90s Alternative Metal. My excitement brewed when I read this album won a Grammy! That was quickly dispelled on first listen as the production feels a grade lower. The album has a looser, rawer sound, it opens fire with a rattling snare and speedy guitar pummeling that leans towards Thrash Metal. Its a brief moment of intensity that focuses attention on the overall rawer feeling of the record, its drums a fraction more spacious and its busying bass guitar sounds muffled and muddied when in steps up for action. Its energy and charisma comes together with a looseness.

In getting to know the record, a strange feeling of sideways progression emerges. The songs all have the same components, bold and bright, gleaming influences of Metal, Punk, Funk and Hip Hop melding in the cooking pot. This time around its as if they have taken the formula and re-arranged the elements, rather than sharpening or refining its composition. The resulting collection of tracks are rather miss matched in quality, the best of their output seems to revolve around singer Corey Glover and if he can pull of a hook or ear worm chorus. Pride does this wonderfully, with the band laying down a sweet track for his voice to resonate and send goosebumps your way.

There is a distinct shift in the albums topicality. The same social, cultural, economic and racial themes that felt personal and expressive seem spun up in a more commanding and actionable tone as the album is loaded with talking points and statements that stretch from the personal to the political with a broadened attitude. It becomes rather uncomfortable on the safe sex track Under The Cover Of Darkness. It has the tone of a government social influence project, with Queen Latifah dropping in headstrong, empowering lyrics but with that cliche 80s/90s plain flow rap. Unfortunately it has such an orchestrated feeling as she doesn't gel with the track.

The record has many strong moments and engaging arrangements. A wide variety of tones, genre splicing and ideas play out with plenty of grooving riffs and blazing, finger splitting solos but its usually one element firing at a time. The overall themes of these tracks don't come together to often and it play with a patchy flow because of that. Its short intermissions don't offer much either and I'm left feeling lukewarm on the record and wondering if the Grammy was in turn for such an amazing debut.

Favorite Tracks: Pride, Elvis Is Dead, Type, This Is The Life
Rating: 6/10

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Örnatorpet "Hymner Från Snökulla" (2019)

I've held off from this record a while. Blodbad Och Efterspel was a great listen but I couldn't say the same of other Örnatorpet releases. Once I did get around, I was quickly whipped up into the majestic world of chilly cold atmospheres gleaming in the magical warmth of daylight. Its unsurprisingly a Fantasy, Dungeon Synth hybrid and its tone is identifiable immediately. It leans into pleasantries of simple melody and steady notation akin to the medieval sovereignty of Fief. Its pallet of icy bells, prestigious plucked strings and soft synthesizer creates a welcoming atmosphere of natural beauty, mystery and charm all within a chilling, snow setting fondly fitted by the records cover. Snowy trees on a warm day with a clear sky, it is that beauty.

The first few spins were magical, the absence of this music in my audio habits made for a returning wonder that didn't stick around as much getting deeper into the record. Its pacing, tone and structure is very one dimensional. Instruments often operate at the same temperament and tempo, looping simple arrangements with little in the way of progression or event. It quickly becomes a linear journey, serving better in the background, casting a stellar mood and tone that seems plain on closer inspection.

The gorgeous pallet of instruments and whirling, windy synths that bustle in the background really props up the music that has little in the way of progression. Every song seems to end where it starts and although a couple peer into a more mysterious and distant angle, the music mostly resides in a safe and consistent setting. Only one song musters a little sorrow and darkness but it is the albums dullest. Buried in the fifty minutes are a couple of dazzling melodic arrangements but they too hide within the musics stiff arrangements. Its a really good listen but simplicity holds it back.

Rating: 6/10

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Steve Roach "Eclipse Mix" (2017)

In the mood for more meditative music I stumbled onto a free, hour long release from Ambient master Steve Roach! It is initially quite the uneventful and hard to pin down record as its soft alluring drones of calmness continuously perpetuate the stillness of space. The spacial humming murmurs illusive creaks of notes that fall like a blanket, one big blur of rising sound that makes a moment feel eternal. The knobs and dials of Steve's synthesizers are tweaked to that magic tone where the reverberations ooze into one another as gleaming synths seem to turn over each other without collision. It grows in intensity, its repeating elements building up and then unwind.

The calm, inviting space carved in the beginning of the track gives way to a darker shift as the twenty minute mark passes. Eerie, uneasy synths bring disharmony to the forefront with buried, disjointed melodies and reverberations that sound reversed to unsettle the listener. Whenever enjoy the relaxing music in the background, it doesn't take long to notice this shift in tone as one feels on edge in its presence. Beyond this phase the music rears itself on an icy path, the warmth and fire of the two opening phases seem distant, the tone is of limbo, as the new setting holds hints of these differing dynamics yet is suspended between them all.

It lacks the distinct and consistent tone of the opening, always unsettled by subtly shifting and allowing for big, glacial synth tones to rise, melt and flood the soundscape. It may be devoid of obvious melody but it becomes quite eventful in the final phases as big brooding sounds revolve around each other and cut the stillness like passing monoliths, inanimate but massive in scope and presence. All in all its a really enjoyable hour when in the right mood. I sought something out and got exactly what I was looking for! Best of all it was free on Steve's bandcamp page!

Rating: 6/10

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

The Young Gods "Data Mirage Tangram" (2019)

I believe it was David Bowie who once gave props to the Swiz group The Young Gods as a big influence on the Industrial Metal sound. That led me to their TV Sky album and since then I had not explored further. After nine years of silence the trio return with an interesting record that stumbles into pacing issues midway as its quirky atmospheres of subtle psychedelia, dialed down industrialism and lifeless abandon pivot into dull, quiet and lengthy iterations of its initial ideas. The first few tracks birth a sense of calm and obscure loneliness, a soundtrack to isolation on an alien planet. No threat is insight but madness lurks on the horizon of ones mind as the stillness oozes a soft eeriness. Erupting slabs of buzzed out distortion guitars ignite heightened event in moments of upheaval but otherwise the music is very laid back.

Steady downtempo beats set pace for elongated scenic synths to conjure a mood as buzzing baselines and subtle glitched electronic noises make a lining to the structure of its sound design. On Moon Above much of this structure looses ground as the percussion dissipates in a slippery audio collapse. Off beat drum strikes are slowly enveloped by tape stretching sound effects and glitched noises that break apart the song, reaching a dissipating conclusion. Its after this point that the album loses its stride. Going into an eleven minute drone of minimalism, it takes to long to reach its climatic eerie synths being roared upon by assailant, imposing guitars that cut the intended tension with a menacing shrill high frequency distortion.

After this dull escapade the charm returns a little with looping reverberations hooking in psychedelic vibes from the lead guitars in the second phase of You Gave Me A Name. It grows and emboldens with captivating style but it is one passageway in another dull stretch of lucid music. If it had stayed on track this album would be a keen contender for king of its niche vibe but with this lapse of pace in the second half it ends on a snooze. I don't wont to dwell too much on that issue, the opening music is interesting, indulgent and fantastic but as an album it cuts itself short of a fuller experience, dialing the energy down as the album progresses and failing to build on its initial ideas which are impactful when putting the record on for a spin. It has songs I will come back for, but not as a whole.

Favorite Tracks: Tear Up The Red Sky, Figure Sans Nom, You Gave Me A Name
Rating: 5/10

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Devin Townsend "Empath" (2019)

On occasion one may ponder the powers scarcity and availability has towards the seduction of an artist. Perhaps a life taken early leaves one divine piece of work behind illuminated and in the case of those blessed with good health and abundance of opertunity, quantity is an excellence. In the case of this Canadian musical genius, we have been spoiled rotten by decades of continual output. From Strapping Young Lad to Casualties Of Cool and back to the Devin Townsend Project, his band and solo adventures has made it feel like every year is graced by something new. After the disbanding of DTP, Dev has taken a short two year hiatus to return with no shortage of inspiration and an almighty seventy four minutes, a collection of his most diverse sounds and extremities that I admittedly had a slow time coming around to.

My problem was simple, I know his music all to well and admittedly little within Empath surprised me on the first few spins. Perhaps I was expecting some new frontier to be conquered, a turn of the path. Thus I found much of the music reminding me of the parallels to his other works. The production however was immediately impressive, a most luscious and crystal clear, perfectionist craft. His best to date. The gravitating walls of sound deliver delicious slabs of glossy sound, distortion guitars and synths expressing weighty grooves and movements in tandem. Devin deploys his typical range of styles again with an added exuberance that reaches into the extremes, both of the entertainingly ugly and not so skin deep pretty aesthetics.

Through the record Devin reaches back to the blistering mania of SYL, occasional demonic gutturals are ripe with a textural fortitude unheard before. On the other end of the spectrum his ever powerful and grandiose voice soars to new heights imploring a range of serene and beautiful melodies. It is in this calmer side of the music that he makes his biggest progressive stride, creating stretches of unbelievably beautiful, glossy soundscapes that have a natural tone, the soundtrack to the animals of the cover. This may be prompted by the inclusion of cat meows and dolphin cries at certain milestones of the record. There are also many colorful, exotic bells, xylophones and whistles that drop in another dimension to his chunky rhythm led music. Its sense of theater and classical composition also takes strides with stretches of orchestral thematic music taking center stage on a wildly diverse album that can flip the switch on its opposed ends in an instant.

It is with the last few of my many habitual listens to Empath that it occurs to me barely a second of the record hasn't lost my interest. My familiarity with what to expect perhaps blunted its blow at first. Even now much of the music feels shades beyond my memory of it but this is something new to cram into a crowded space of classics this man has forged. I now go into my second decade of spins feeling like this may only have the potential to grow on me. Much of what I love is spread across its wide pallet and I do think it has pacing issues where its direction changes. It feels more like a spin of the bottle but its continued exuberant energy also lets it make total sense. Its just all a little overwhelming, Empath is all of Devin's work rolled into one with a cool new breeze thrown in. I should think less and enjoy more!

Rating: 8/10

Friday, 5 April 2019

City Morgue "City Morgue Vol 1 Hell Or High Water" (2018)

 Hell Or High Water is the debut record by the newly formed City Morgue, a pair of young rappers taking a lot of influence from the likes of the uber-aggressive 6ix9ine, who may be the most commercially successful of these "over the top" rappers. The project caught my attention because of its ties to Metal and Industrial music. The pacey, lively instrumentals deploy FL Studio Slayer guitar tones in the meat of their beats. A gritty, lean distortion fit for their overtly hostile and vulgar flows which are filled to the brim with offense and obscenity aiming insults in all directions. The two have a wild, dangerous energy, scream rapping with a menace that'll get you moving.

On closer inspection much of the lyrics are skin deep and more about trading blows than provoking thought. City Morgue comes out the gate with a firm and consistent aesthetic. Brisk, darkly beats, rocking harsh Trap influenced kits and a barrage of sound effects, shouts, screams and back up cries bombard the listener with a restless energy. Many of the tracks kick of with maniacal laughter, a touch of madness sounding like a deranged person who just escaped from the house of horrors.

Despite leaning into these dark themes the music is mostly fun and grooving. A lot of the beats land on the pulse of the groove and make for some careless crude fun. On occasion they even land a fine hook like the "gave hop" call on top of these disorienting instrumentals that rock disjointed samples, eerie urban melodies and dirty sub-bass noise, rumbling below the kicks of the percussion. The instrumentals are tough and if your not in the mod for fowl lyricism then this can be a tough record.

The duo barely let the foot of the gas with the vulgarities and the delivery style is consistently domineering. In some moments the word slurring trend and ambiguous pronunciation comes into play, its not particularly interesting. A lot of this record is relatively mediocre but in the union of parts something quite unique forms. Potential is the word to take away from this. Improved lyricism, better hooks and songwriting would really further this attention grabbing sound. One to watch for the future.

Favorite Tracks: Arson, Gravehop187, So What
Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Death Fortress "Reign Of The Unending" (2018)

Reign Of The Unending wont be leaving my playlist anytime soon! Its the American bands forth record and after a matter of minutes checking them out, I knew I would adore this. Many spins later I can confirm my continued adoration. Its brutal, ferociously dark, icy cold and unrelentingly aggressive. Death Fortress resurrects the blistering approach to Black Metal once envisioned by Immortal with their classic Pure Holocaust. A helping of loudness from modernized equipment electrifies the shrouded fidelity. With craft and inspiration they forge six engaging songs to make a riveting and atmospheric thirty seven minutes of plundering abyssal chaos.

 Its first big distinction emerges past the howling shrieks as indiscernible and guttural, abysmal groans blurt out blocks of ungodly low sound into the mix with only their timing and texture to assimilate. Its not deployed often and is a filthy pleasure whenever the monstrosity is unleashed. The avalanche of unrelenting fury that comes with it is electrifying, a torrent of battering percussive force rains down as the drummer works out anger issues obliterating his kit. The guitars shred away frosty tremolo chords with tendinitis educing intensity and shivering tonality. It all blurs into that engulfing bestial fury of the most extreme degree, Black Metal at its finest!

Death Fortress really understand the dynamic of this sound, what little "melody" that emerges through the wall of sound has a fantastic poise of mystique and aggression that conjures an unsettling atmosphere of forbidden magics and maleficent being from worlds beyond our own. Its not all relentless punishment, the songs develop with varying intensities. Monolith Winter makes a remarkable journey from an ice blizzard start and steadily tones down its blast beats into fill laden grooves as the lead guitar builds a sense of scale that grows and blossoms. The final song Wrath Of God raises the stakes with an epic, dynamic track, bringing out those plucked chords in true Immortal style and a little hint of Graveland triumph too.

Any "lack" of originality flies out the window for the stunning execution on display. The band need not to hide their influences for their inspirations has led to brilliant music. Reign Of The Unending is a class act that revives that incredible energy Immortal deploy. I haven't heard another band even come close to it before. Dare I say they even match it? I struggle to find any complaints on this release, perhaps one or two of its lengthy songs drag their heels but otherwise its been an absolute pleasure to indulge in. As mentioned above this audio torture wont be leaving my ears soon!

Favorite Tracks: Glory To Tyrants, Monolith Winter, Wrath Of God
Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Jean Michel Jarre "Magnetic Fields" (1981)

The fun of this retro synth journey has begun to flicker as my interest wavers in these chirpy adventures on the timely frontier of electronic music. With this next installment we are introduced to an emboldened foray of punchier buzz saws and sine waves that come rather close to tones heard on the NES game system. Its a sharper, harder hitting record that starts of with an opening seventeen minute tangent song. Its got a cool temperament and darker undercurrent reminiscent of Oscillotron. Unfortunately it doesn't manifest in that direction and the music fleets through various arrangements with a lack of direction and disorienting cohesion that meanders.

With a lack of clear event, build up or emotional entanglement, the music can easily slip from focus and descend into a rattling whirl of animated synths zapping away in the distance. The second track deploys a jarring stereo shuffle beat of claps that dispels the magic of its lead melody which itself is quite the ear worm. The last three tracks expand the pallet and experiment with different tones, temperaments and sound sampling but there is little going on to resurrect my already lukewarm feeling. The first few listens were enjoyable but quickly it lost its charm. Oxygene and Equinoxe were a blast but moving to the eighties Im sensing there isn't much left for me in his sound, so I conclude my exploration of Jean Michel Jarre's music here.

Rating: 5/10