Thursday, 30 May 2019

Beastmaker "Eye Of The Storm" (2019)

It feels like there may be a trend emerging in Metal, one of quality too. Since Ghost have risen to prominence, inklings of classic Metal ideas are resurfacing in the likes of Puppy, Green Lung & Baroness, the latter bearing a strong influence on this group. Beastmaker are a three piece outfit from California who off the back of two full lengths spent 2018 banging out ten four track EPs. That's a prolific output and this new four track is their first of the year, its also my introduction to the group. I'd also like to compliment the group on their awsum record artwork aesthetics, a sharpened revival of 60s satanic horror defined by high contrast and bold use of selected de-saturated colors. Its fantastic and a really alluring, eye grabbing style that brought me to them.

The bands music is a hybrid of "traditional" and Doom Metal. A raw, gristly distortion lays down temperate, forward moving chunks of rhythm and melody over equally gritty and fuzzing baselines. The two link up at times like a pair of rhythm guitars, gnarly in the deep end and smoothing out into the higher notes. It allows them to sound like a four piece when the solos light up like a rocket. They have all the makings of classic styles, taking off with an eruption to capture your attention and swoon with their colorful presence. The music also deploys timely bells and synth elements, not over played, sounding very natural. Its a little ugly with its power chords but as classic Iron Maiden like leads come to fruition it finds a magic driving through with its melody licks.

As said before its mainly on the singing style that Baroness have a influence on singer Church. Something about the inflections, timing of delivery and strains on his voice feels strikingly alike to Baizley. The trio have a vibe and with creepy, Horror and Occult inspired lyricism. It brews a fun, expressive stage of theatrics, very much contained within the musics setting. These songs play out with strong fundamentals. A good ear for riffs and linking them together in solid structures that often play into melodic breaks that evolve into solos or climaxes. Its pure Metal and they rock their niche well. I will have to have a poke around through their now extensive collection of records for something else of interest as I do very much enjoy this classic, revivalist sound!

Favorite Tracks: Eye Of The Storm, My Only Wish
Rating: 5/10

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Tyler The Creator "Igor" (2019)

There is no doubt that Tyler is in an evolutionary stride as an artist. Two years off the back of the widely acclaimed Scum Fuck Flower Boy he returns with a similar tone and sense of theater that's channeled into a vulnerable, personal space. Its bold musical fun, flourishing with feeling, flowing with creativity and taking inspiration from classic Soul and R&B, the likes you might hear on Motown. These are just some specific moments though, it all comes through the filter of Tyler's quirky, synthetic world. Playful melodies and jiving percussive lines of intentional groove are a constant pleasure as we stroll into his oddball dreamworld of emotional pains.

The albums lyrical theme is bold and dominating. Relationships, breakups and the hardships of his love life surface through wording that feels fractions away from classic love songs. Its always shaded by these quirky compositions that imbued a playful, innocent, off-color harmony heard through its colorful instrumentation and singing. Sung wordings, talked raps or pitch shifted voices, Tyler vents his frustrations and heart aches with a raw authenticity, illuminating his organic and vivid backing tracks. The two just melt together effortlessly and make for a distinct experience.

This record does has two flavors to it. Many of the tracks play with bold, almost cheesy synths that lay bare strong melodies, often getting mini tangents, solos and plenty of expressive outlets to pull apart the repetitive nature of Hip Hop and let the music ooze. Deeper into the album we find more sample oriented songs with 70s Soul and R&B vibes. A Boy Is A Gun, Puppet & Gone Gone pivot on these oldskool vibes with the latter reminding me of a Jackson Five chorus. When Tyler pulls it together with vocals it finds its cohesion, more so when the bold synths drop in.

These vocal approaches are a point to talk on. Many half hit notes, lackadaisical singing and off key notes exploit this place quirky, playful place where it manifests as authenticity. It plays wonderfully into this highly stylish record that feels very rooted in reality. Its a bright and gleaming light of artistic creativity and expression flowing effortlessly. He is certainly excelling as a music producer and composer, Igor has magic moments in droves. Its not all golden but its a hard record to knock down. Every time Ive spun it, I found myself completely locked into its direction.

Favorite Tracks: Igor's Theme, New Magic Wand, What's Good, I Don't Love You Anymore
Rating: 8/10

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Alice In Chains "Jar Of Flies" (1994)

It seems that between albums Alice In Chains liked to release acoustic EPs, the former being Sap. I had actually gone into this thinking it was a direction change full length, with a mind for curation. Much like the current trend of short, high curated projects, Jar Of Flies has seven songs, a couple with distortion at just thirty minutes. Its all killer no filler and the emotionally wrenching magic it possess leaves one feeling like this should be seen as no side offering but some of the bands best music.

Once again the band let their Americana and Blues Rock influences flourish, mustering humid flows of steady paced and gorgeous, glistening acoustic toned instrumentals for Staley to take stage. He does as he does, pulling on your heart strings with a lonely despair and sorrow, bleeding his quiet suffering from a camouflaged voice. His delivery roars with a vulnerable power that lures you in with its catchy flow yet all that awaits is pain and darkness. The "My privacy is raped" line on Nutshell is particularly haunting. Its a line stuck in my mind for weeks.

Its the beautiful dichotomy of stunning, serine music and searing raw pain weaving this dazzling darkness again. The musicianship is sublime, tones of lucid arrangements oozing with inspiration as ripe guitar leads flow and complimentary instrumentation like the timely use of strings seem to arrive on time effortlessly in these songs. Its not without weak points however, from one to the other their is diversity in flavor and its last two tracks drop off from the path set beforehand.

Swing On This feels like a leftover idea from Dirt hashed together with some swashbuckling acoustics. Before it the soft and delicate Don't Follow with its Country tang guitars and harmonica doesn't quite resonate in the beginning with Cantrell's voice. The first five however are emphatic, Rotten Apple making a mark as their longest track to date. The whole project feels so deserving of a full length, the group nail this style almost as well as their grooving distortion songs.

Favorite Tracks: Rotten Apple, Nutshell, Whale & Wasp
Rating: 7/10

Friday, 24 May 2019

Rammstein "Rammstein" (2019)

With a ten year absence, German Industrial Metal titans Rammstein return on strong footing with a solid, bold slice of what they are best known for. My personal enjoyment of this untitled, or self titled record, may have been swayed by their lack of existence in my musical rotation over the last decade or so. Its long since the days of youth, when albums Sehnsucht and Mutter where binged frequently. These new songs set a path that doesn't attempt to recreate any former glory but aligns all the components of their distinct, trademarked identity, executing it sweetly on a welcome return to stir all the emotions and sounds they mustered in the past, as well as new ones.

The classic fist pumping, leg pounding stomp personified by brutish front man Till Lindermann's live antics can be felt from start to end. A sweet and sharp, snappy and cushioned snare drum maligns the songs with that charging industrial pounding. The guitars drop in with meaty chugs of palm muting and power chords played with cold rhythmic precision. They are slightly shy in the mix, at times feeling like an undercurrent, rather than the main focus. A string of songs from Puppe to Weit Weg sees the guitars play a more complimentary roll with plenty of absence and other instruments taking control. It works, adds flavor to the flow and yields a fantastic performance from Lindermann on Puppe who delivers intense and snarly shouts with a snatch of venom. It leads into a passageway blackened by nothing other than howling tremolo Black Metal guitars.

To my ears the songs movements and shifts are pivoted on chord progressions from the guitar department but its the electronics that are given ample space to texture and tone these songs. Often with simple and minimal components do they muster a strong sense of atmosphere and color. Their roll is so dynamic and swift at times it can almost feel unnoticed given the big industrial drive from its meatier instruments. The balance and diversity of these dynamics is a highlight. So is the brilliantly triumphant and enigmatic opening track. The German tongue sounding militant and mighty although I have no clue whats really being said. I prefer to leave the lyrical element a mystery, the music is far more intriguing this way. Overall I'm not left with a lot to say, this is a competent Rammstein sounding like they have little difficulty finding inspiration nearing twenty five years on their very robust formulae. It stands up well and has me excited to see them live again!

Favorite Tracks: Deutschland, Radio, Puppe, Tattoo
Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Hunt The Dinosaur "Hunt The Dinosaur" (2014)

Ive had quite the chuckle with this little EP. These Texans have a new record looming around the corner, so I thought id warm myself up with this debut record. Hunt The Dinosaur are a not-so-serious Deathcore Djent band who will make little waves in the scene thanks to front man Hunter Madison's extraordinary guttural scream raps. It sounds unique, a fast flail of snarly, throaty gasps hurled at an impressive speed. Its toned, textural and well executed. His arsenal of other screaming styles are fully competent for the music too. If one strong influence comes to mind It is probably Corey Taylor of Slipknot who is known for blending rap rhythms into his screams.

The music behind is an impressive pull of self-awareness and comical in jokes. The tropes of breakdowns and excessive down tuned guitar tones are deployed in humorous extremes that do a fantastic job of balancing groove and landing an impact with its mocking nature. The lyrical depth also feels like a mockery, shallow topics are bolstered by plain and frank language that punctuates its bluntness in sync with the music, dropping its most abysmal lyrics at fitting times. Initially it musters a smirk but becomes rather monotonous as the joke grows old in its simplicity.

The big problem is the imposed limitations of a project that isn't to be taken seriously. In the right mood it will give you a smile but of the several listens Ive endured its joke tires quickly and the songs turn into a mechanical slog dragging their way towards little spurts of genuine interest that each song has in the form of a riff, screamed rap or punch line. Its been fun, a barrel of laughs to enjoy with friends and I look forward to their new album however I am hoping they can deploy some more substance with the music as a fair fraction of this record is rather lifeless beyond the gag.

Rating: 4/10

Monday, 20 May 2019

Arkhtinn "VI" (2018)

This sixth installment in the Arkhtinn series is another two halves of blisteringly nihilistic Black Metal and creepy ambiguous Dark Ambient noise. Chapters IV and V both steadily progressed in opening up the aesthetic clarity, or dampening the lack off it. VI follows in this trend, sounding a fraction clearer but most notably hits an impressive stride in its opening segment. Pummeling monotonous blast beats and astral synths play with the perpetual epic scaling foundational to the music. Its another race to the depths of the cold, lonely void and with a sweet succession of stake raising atmosphere through annihilating rapid pedal work, the track soars to new heights.

The pace thickens as slews of monstrous, howling screams of agony play up the inklings of melody and tune that crescendo this surging start. It then hits a pivot point with the typical Darkspace dominant guitar chug smothering the musics tone. From this point onward its a progressive maze of ideas with recurring themes. A hard hitting and sinister guitar riffs that take center stage at first, then shifts tone as hauntings of astral melodies fall into rotation. The song fails to lock back into a sense of linage, although some of the sections around the sixteen minute mark rescue a sense of direction and conclusion but it too falls to sudden shifts that feel unconnected.

Its Ambient counterpart has been the least interesting so far. Its a lengthy slog of ambiguous noises. Hums and drones of bells clatter in a dungeon like atmosphere. One can feel the fog drifting through unlit and dank corridors, chambers and rooms. Unsavory whispering voices can be heard rumbling under the fog and as the echos bounce around, the song slowly musters up intensity as groans turn into rumbling growls and screams build up into intense swells. It breaths and contracts but nether reaches a shift it tone or an event, it just drones on and on. Some progression and direction would of made it far more interesting, once you decipher whats going on that's about it. The track just lingers on its main idea. This chapter has some of their best but also suffers stagnating song design of perpetual shifts worse than before.

Rating: 6/10

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Little Simz "Grey Area" (2019)

Every year I aim to find fresh artists, new releases and so far just a measly thirteen records. Despite me failing to get in a discovery groove, it has yielded some fantastic albums. The Goat, Woodland Rites, Empath & Kill The Sun, all contenders for top lists. Now to throw in another contender in the mix, Grey Area blew me away with just the first listen alone. My ritualistic listening has since convinced me Little Simz is a talent to behold and this is my first encounter. Its her third full length and she certainly sounds experienced on the mic. With a light, firm and steady flow, soft, flat toned voicing and sparkling lyrical creativity, I am reminded of one the greats, Rakim, in a roundabout way. Simz style stands on its own, a plain faced, spoken word calmness with an urban London charm ready to slip into slick rhyming grooves and swift flows as your lured in by her calmness. Its gorgeous and has some of the best rhymes Ive heard in sometime! "I'm a boss in a fudging dress!"

Her technical proficiency wont take long to perk your ears but whats equally earnest and engrossing is the topicality and self reflection. With her words she locks you in to situations, trains of thoughts and introspection with a vivid intensity that manifests in witty, expressive and cultural claps of rhyme that rock and rattle when she gets into a flow. She comes across as a genuine character with sincerity and authenticity in abundance. Some of these songs open a door into her life as an artist, struggling and working hard to succeed while dealing with life's stresses. Its not on an every track basis but just about each song has a pull. A little braggadocio and chest pumping comes into play on the albums slickest song Venom. Its on the flip side and her boisterous style is marvelous, flows swell with sharp, smart and damn right mean lyricism, its venomous. Ok that pun was just plain awful! XD

You'd be no fool to see how talented she is but behind the words, these instrumentals pulled together are fresh, fun, classy and right on point for setting the tone. It kicks of from Offense with an Indie feeling executed with a Jazz Rock flair. The beats are stripped back, the instruments have a live feel, high fidelity and its not until the third song that a more traditional Jazz Hop vibe. Its peaked with beautiful singing from Cleo Sol. The production is utterly sweet, Grey Area is a short, compact and tight record that churns through its ten tracks with a variety of defined vibes that all sound purposeful. The chemistry is fire, I still jet through its thirty five minutes feeling flabbergasted. This is a example case of quality over quantity. There isn't a moment wasted on this superb record, I'm still engrossed within it but had to write!

Favorite Tracks: Boss, Selfish, Venom, Therapy
Rating: 9/10

Friday, 17 May 2019

Alice In Chains "Dirt" (1992)

Dirt is one heck of an iconic record. It kicks of with a frightening scream as an eruption of tempered guitar chugging kicks off their most famous song, Them Bones. It jumps straight into gear, a mastery of atonal riffing as the chilling lyrics about ending up as a big old pile of them bones rock the chorus with a morbid honesty. The grungy dark metallic tone is set and Staley will go on to haunt us with some despairing lyricism and chilling performances on this record. Released later in the same year as Sap, the Seattle grunge giants Alice In Chains return with more Metal inflection and a leaner iteration of their unique identity established on their debut Facelift.

After a lightning start the album rolls into a slick run of songs. Tight guitar grooves stitch together beautiful eruptions of Staley's infectious singing. He soars above with the albums best hooks in its opening numbers. He is illuminating but on inspection a lot of darkness emanates from his harrowing words. Getting past the aggressive riffing of Them Bones and Dam That River we start to slip into moodier atmospheres, culminating with the frankly depressing Down In A Hole. It is a beautifully sad and hopeless song. Sickman offers more wounded lyrical fragility as some choppy metallic riffing shuffles its way in and out of an eclectic song. Its defeatist, the "what's the difference ill die" lyric so disheartening given his demise. Its a theme throughout.

Just when you think it can't get much more interesting the album pivots to anthems as Rooster and Junkhead both play with the mastery of tingling build ups that erupt with iconic choruses. "Here comes the rooster!" and "Whats my drug of choice? Well what have you got?", still gives me goosebumps all these years later. I especially like the guitar solo on the later, a simple complimenting melody to peak the song. Its a classic lead you always find yourself singing along too. With title track Dirt more gut wrenching lyrics and electrifying music is bestowed up the listener. Jerry Cantrell has an absolute arsenal of riffing ideas that keep everything fresh and interesting from start to end as Staley drags us to the depths of his self loathing and despair.

Either side of the Black Sabbath Ironman skit track Ironglad, we have a two tracks you might say are a mediocre records gems. Even as songs you might put at the end of your favorite list they still deploy interesting and unique musical ideas to illuminate them in the presence of so many magnificent tracks. Angry Chair takes a darkened shadowy atmosphere and chops it up, shifting the music between different tones. The album keeps its intensity throughout and end on a soaring high with Would? It again just shows an amazing chemistry within these musicians and Staley once again steals the show with a gift to make is haunted words somehow catchy and infectious. Its monumental, an of the moment album that stands the test of time, bringing together the best of Grunge and Metal and making it their own.

Rating: 10/10

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Green Lung "Woodland Rites" (2019)

An unexpected pounce of musical might caught us off guard. Walking into a small London club to watch Puppy, we were captured by an immediately gratifying sound. Fellow English band Green Lung and their brew of Doom, Stoner, Psychedelic and Heavy Metal rocked the club. It was a performance of thunderous riff led groves, electric melodies and soaring vocals that had me buy this debut record after the show. It was worth every penny, however to my surprise the studio recordings are even more magical than the live show. Despite it engulfing my interest, the live show could perhaps do with some tightening as the record is far more ingrained in its own style.

With a helping of witchcraft and the occult, Green Lung offer up a esoteric theme to their sound which serves as icing on the cake, a fun gloss of topicality not to be taken too seriously. Its a mysterious front for the core of brilliant guitar work that marches forth with riffing intent. The rhythm guitar delivers a slew of extended grooves that spider around the fret board, sometimes into the upper reaches, merging with melody. The lead guitar has that in abundance and so often do the two work in tandem to deliver infectious hooks and steer the music into its progressive passageways of sequential riff jams and rising guitar solos. They also makes occasional use of a church organ synth. It rises like an ominous fog from the swamp. It greatly compliments the tone but is rarely deployed, would have been nice to hear more.

This fantastic poise of re-imagined music reminds me of Ghost. They seem to have brought about an emergence of bands who can spin new angles on fusions of old ideas. Much like Puppy have their influences yet feel entirely unique, one can draw parallels to Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and other Heavy Metal bands yet it doesn't sound like a rip. Now that I think about it, their vocalist is similar to Ozzy Osbourne with that dense nasal strain. I would of said the singing here were good enough but despite not feeling over the moon about them, a lot of the lyrics have gotten wedged in my mind and I do like the way he fits into the musics flow, his voice soaring up like a beacon from the cesspit of sludging guitar groove. Great record, it has a string of stunning songs in its opening stretch that I adore, may have to grab their EP too!

Favorite Tracks: Woodland Rites, Let The Devil In, The Ritual Tree, Templar Dawn
Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Tool "10,000 Days" (2006)

The time has come to draw the Tool journey to a close, however this wont last long as a thirteen year gap between albums will end with another record later this year! With 10,000 Days I have have taken the most time as once again the words to describe this music often alludes me. It has however been the easiest record to get into with many hallmarks of their sound now etched in my mind. The one most distinctive is the cyclical rhythm guitar work that needles in timing oriented jabs of chords and palm muted chugging. On paper it could almost play like a Djent record akin to Meshuggah but Tool take a typically artsy approach with their plastic and narrow guitar tone. One can then relish more so in the winding patterns without the crushing intensity.

The guitars temperament lets dense atmospheres brood as its habitual chugging becomes a current to flow with. Although its polyrhythms and time signature play is clear in this department, much of the bass, drums and second guitar too play into this mentality with the more common constructs dabbling with subtle shifts and oddities. Its a firm backbone for a stage of expressive, emotive and freeing tangents to emerge from, not only does Keenan rise from this foundation but both the lead guitar and even bass get involved in brewing these swells of musical delight. Danny Carey too will dazzle with his ambidextrous playing. It feels like a light can be shun on him at any moment within the record and something interesting will be taking place at his kit.

The records pacing is something of contention. After a steady opening fifteen minutes of chug and churn riffing and swells of expression, the music shifts for the next seventeen with two slow burns. The title track itself builds to an brief out poor of energy that is short lived and after The Pot it feels like the record never gets locked into a groove. Lost Keys has its melancholy guitar lick laying down a sadness that is amplified immensely by this howling guitar feedback that conjures a feeling of grief and punishing loss. It moves into heartbeats and a conversation with a doctor that makes the song feel like a soul has been clutched from the jaws of death.

Rosetta Stoned brings back the foundational guitar work and theme established. Its another epic brew of swelling music that takes its time mounting through itself but after that eleven minutes the album tends to loose my captivation as ponderous and crawling paces of subtle and tender atmospheres don't quite grab me as much as they did when the record was fresh. Its a strange criticism because the dynamic nature of this band is whats so interesting but as it draws on the magic of their pacing feels lost as the momentum keeps sinking back into the quiet. Its hard to say what record is their best but this certainly feels worthy of being considered alongside Lateralus.

Favorite Tracks: Jambi, The Pot, Lost Keys, Rosetta Stoned
Rating: 7/10

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Alice In Chains "Sap" (1991)

Prior to their monumental sophomore record Dirt, Alice In Chains released this five track acoustic EP which I had previously glossed over. Reviving Sap to my playlist, It took me a few spins to get past the change in temperament. Then I found another charm this group possess, a side of them not felt from the acoustic compliment that creeps into their dominantly heavy music. In stripping back the distortion guitars, their Grunge and Groove Metal energy leaves a void filled by a range of influences. Folk, Blues Rock and Country all have leanings on these traditional, acoustic guitar led song styles, blossoming into a different and simply indulgent experience.

Its opening track Brother is almost unrecognizable. I believe it is Staley singing with a soft casual, breathy persona, a polar shift from his normally electric out-poor. Guest vocalist Ann Wilson of Heart harmonizes in a higher octave on the chorus for another unexpected spice. In getting familiar with it, a warm and tender song of sombre acceptance emerges and that emotional reverence flows onward. I believe Ann returns again on Am I Inside. Her small roll adds a keen flavor, much like the bright piano that creeps in under the haunting guitar. Aligned with shimmers of cymbals and brief bongo patters it speaks volumes to their musical ability and inspiration.

The bass guitar lays down some deep, warm rumblings to thicken out these sombre acoustic strokes. It gets a gritty pump of groove going on Got Me Wrong, the only track to deploy distortion guitars. In a strange way you can hear them being pulled back to the more expectant sound but the two styles just pull the slider back and forth, rather than gelling into something bigger. The last track is a joke track of skits, goofs and gaffs with comical musical arrangements. Its quite fun and a peek into a less serious side of the musicians, a nice something to throw in at the end.

Favorite Tracks: Brother, Am I Inside
Rating: 6/10

Friday, 10 May 2019

Death Fortress "Triumph Of The Undying" (2017)

My excitement over this record has simply failed to ignite. I found myself enthralled by Reign Of The Unending and its mighty, Immortal inspired freezing Black Metal! I was keen to get into the previous chapter by the New Jersey based outfit but it has not been so. All the hallmarks are intact, pummeling blitz drumming, icy tremolo guitar noise, the vocals have both the shrill screams and the jaunting burly discernible roars. What it doesn't have nailed down is production. Its a scratchy, low fidelity affair that seems to fall folly to the fumbles Immortal did too on records like Blizzard Beasts.

On the other hand it could a case of "not in the mood" or burn out. I exhausted myself on the Immortal sound many moons ago with over indulgent binges. Death Fortress's previous record could of benefited from the charms of a nostalgia trip, resurrecting the fond excitement of unearthing this mysterious Black Metal music in my youth. The record does have a moments or two tho, Wisdom Of The Unspoken musters up a whirlwind of ferocity in the middle of the record after a slow build up. Its not enough though and flicking between the two records highlights some clear issues.

The overall tone and aesthetic is dulled by a scratchy convergence of sound where the intentional collision of instruments goes a little too far, leaving a certain frequency range sounding like white noise. It is all to easy to focus on. Its predecessor doesn't have this issue and I always notice how much clearer the drums rattle and the snare pops on that record. The guitars too feel denser where as here everything feels loose, sloppy and lacking in definition. The record passes without any interesting song structures or musical moments, it tends to just imminently drift from my focus.

Rating: 4/10

Monday, 6 May 2019

Arkhtinn "V" (2017)

Back for another plunge into the cosmic abyss we plunder V, the fifth Arkhtinn chapter. Although structured with the same two track format, both the shivery cold Black Metal onslaught and its complimenting Dark Ambient piece make their distinctions. Opening with an astral gleam of shimmering distant stars, its mysterious synths get to breath and make themselves known between the angular walls of sound we shall be battered with. When the blast beat thunders and the ferocity engulfs, slow and steady guitar chords let the synths flicker through in an epic delight. It opens up to a true sense of ascension and the drums switch into a double pedal blitz that rolls too its own groove.

As a rare moment of suspended calm takes hold, the fractured nature of the songs design reveals before the flick of a switch plunges us again into peril-less void only illuminated by the flickering astral synths. The guitars again offer elongated power chords showing a wider range of temperaments, eventually leading into more chunky palm muted guitar grooves. It furthers its descent with a break of unsettled bleakness, a psychedelic guitar lead shimmers from the shadows with a touch of Oranssi Pazuzu black magic! The song finds its way back to shrill pummeling and howling roars as an enchanting lead guitar climaxes the music around the thirteen minute mark.

From that point the song again shifts through similar phases, meandering through an extended section of unsettling synths that give one last burst of horror as a final blast of black noise surprises the listener. Its a far more diverse song with clear and stronger influences from traditional Symphonic Black Metal taking hold, yet its progression and structure do not birth more than the momentary arrangements. They do however dazzle in the spectacular darkness of low-fidelity mysteria. It makes for a far more memorable song but strays from the formula, probably for the best.

Its eighteen minute counterpart is more of a freight than the last Ambient piece. Its slew of mysterious and esoteric synths are complimented by howls and screams that lurk in the shadows and ride cold winds into focus. Its melodies elude and plenty of ambiguous rumblings create an atmosphere of wonder suspended before the arrival of dreaded horrors. An illuminating track keen to liven any imagination for the darker side. Overall this is a much better record, maybe the band show signs of developing a more refined and unique approach to the Darkspace motif. Lets see where they go!

Rating: 7/10

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Alice In Chains "Facelift" (1990)

Recently Ive been on a timely nostalgic, heart aching Alice In Chains kick. It happens every now and then, I simply delve into a riotous binge that gets the adrenaline pumping. This time around I found myself rediscovering their debut record, it felt fresh and in the face, many of the songs seemed almost new and with some thought I realized its probably been over a decade since I last heard it. When discovering the band it was Dirt I was most drawn too and has thus established itself as one of the go to records alongside their post Layne Staley records. Facelift had been left neglected and what a gem its been, sitting here all these years unscathed, awaiting me again.

Its such a powerful debut from a new band helping to spearhead the Grunge movement. From the get go Alice In Chains have the Heavy Metal infusion integrated within their sound. Paired with the harmonization between Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell, its a two pronged attack, making a unique breed of rock and roll thunder, fit to move a crowd and also display a genuine emotional side too. The band have a habit of brooding an internal vulnerability and then unleashing it through swooning guitar grooves along with the haunting soar of Staleys notes or even eerie acoustic guitars that build painful tensions and uneasy atmospheres between the soars of energy.

For a debut record, not an inch sounds frail or as if they are finding a footing. The Seattle group fly out the gates with a frightening authenticity. The twelve songs give up a healthy variety and range within the sound. Slams of crunching guitar grooves, scores of erupting, electric solos and all temperaments of established Rock and Metal influence the grunge tone. There is a magnitude in the other direction too as a dynamic mix of darkly acoustics shape up the energetic rock with deeper meanings.
Love Hate Love and Confusion explore this shadowy side wonderfully, the loose drumming styles perfectly emphasizing the disjointed and exposed feelings these tracks start off with. Put You Down and I Know Something expose the Southern and Funk Rock styling among many other influences that detail Cantrell's unique riffing. In that aspect its a little rawer on this record but it is still fantastic how despite hearing their roots, one can experience something completely new blossoming from it. Utterly brilliant album, another 90s relic to behold! I love this decade.

Favorite Tracks: We Die Young, Man In The Box, Bleed The Freak, Love Hate Love, Confusion, Real Thing
Rating: 9/10

Friday, 3 May 2019

Periphery "Periphery IV Hail Stan" (2019)

For some time Ive been eagerly anticipating the next installment from Djent wizards Periphery. The previous III Select Difficulty has become an utter favorite of mine, in terms of recent metal records. Its string of electrifying songs in the opening are still riveting to this day. The bar has been set high and a meaty sixty four minutes look set to rock my world. The opening three tracks get the blood pumping and considering Reptile is sixteen minutes long its as good a stretch of music as the last time around.

Unfortunately beyond the first twenty five minutes the record slowly losses footing, its songs don't reach the same octane energy. Somewhat indecisive directions emerge as the tracks seem to dip their toes into potential new directions, with unconvincing results. The club beat drum kit and digital dub bass rumble of Crush doesn't quite hit its potential. With a juxtaposing atmosphere above its backbone, its stitched together with string sections that reach towards epic heights but don't quite gel so smoothly.

 Their singer Spencer Sotelo has a fantastic voice that is capable of far more than just Metal. Its always a pleasure to have him swoon on the microphone but when the instrumentation softens around him on songs like Satalites and It's Only Smiles, a vibe emerges similar to Bring Me The Horizon's pursuit of Pop Rock infusion. It doesn't sit all to well with this band, Its these moments and other noticeable infusions of string sections, choirs and electronics that don't always find convincing cohesion.

Its all found between a wash of brutal Djent and when experimenting within their comfort zone Periphery knock out banging sequences like the breakdown on Follow Your Ghost. It toys with an uneasy timing sequence that maddens the gruesome pummeling of its dexterous guitar picking. Sentient Glow is another song with some dynamic energy leaning into a Metalcore direction, as it breaks its choppy riffs up with melodic outbreaks. Fun, but its really all about the first three songs for me, everything else seems marked by some creative shift that doesn't quite fit their mold.

At sixteen minutes Reptile is able to hold your attention with remarkable consistency. Periphery deploy the best of their metallic strikes, an intensity that's only broken at the midway atmospheric break to bring on a familiar rough, throaty poetic voice from Sikth. After that the stakes are raised, soaring to new heights only to plummet back into lunging grooves that lead off a mesmerizing monochromatic chug fest. Were at the ten minute mark and the best is yet to come, guitar solos illuminate and sections are recycled before birthing another ear worming groove of mechanical precision.

The following Blood Eagle has been on repeat since the video dropped on youtube. Its nothing but a dirty indulgent festering of primal groove and primitive brutality shaped up into an onslaught of high octane guitar shredding and pummeling percussive attitude. Eventually it births a magical guitar solo that descends from melody to atonal shredding with delight. Ultimately this album is one third spectacular and two thirds ambiguous to whether I like it or not. Ive given much time to dig it, maybe now some absence is now the remedy to its enjoyment.

Favorite Tracks: Reptile, Blood Eagle, Follow Your Ghost
Rating: 6/10

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Ruido-mm "Rasura" (2014)

Hailing from Brazil, a fine craft of Post-Rock epic emerges. Rasura is fourth effort over a ten year span and that frequency may speak to the detail and care this record bestows. As an instrumental piece, the depth of instrumentation at work lets a plethora of tones, tangents and threads take limelight on a wholesome journey of warm, engrossing, uplifting atmospheres. Its a canvas for your imagination as emotions are birthed and conceded in the swelling of delicate and delicious deliberations.

Its the typical Post-Rock affair of shimmering guitars wailing in the breeze of their own reverberations, playing with tone and expansive sounds. The record also musters occasional outbreaks of conventional melody, imprinting clear and decisive tunes to hum along with in the wake of the more ambiguous, and scenically poised sound, although it leans to a progressive avenue. All of it is handled with an inspired touch, a organic web of instruments, yielding an ever changing chemistry to excel its vision. It is indeed the strength of the genre, to trade in the flat and equated roll of instruments fitting into structures and instead blossoming sounds into wild blooming adventures.

Rudio-mm achieve this wonderfully. The music will be personal to each individual and I find myself engulfed with a soft, warm earnestness each listen but only up to a point. After the Shoegazing dabble of Filete, the last two songs seem to fumble in pace and the borrowing of famous classical melodies deployed on the keyboard seem grandiose in their moment but pale against a rather dull ten minute stretch. Its an odd fumble but over the months Ive been enjoying this record its always the last fraction of the music that looses me. Otherwise its pretty fantastic and memorable!

Favorite Tracks: Electrostatica, Cromaqui, Filete
Rating: 7/10