Monday, 31 August 2020

City Morgue "Toxic Boogaloo" (2020)


The City Morgue duo are back with another barrage of obnoxious violent raps, spitting hate and threats in all directions. Following up on the first two style defining volumes, this twenty minute EP brings a firm, metallic tinted production to their typical arrangement of hook oriented outbursts of intense energy. Better enjoyed in brief stints, Toxic Boogaloo benefits from a swift lineup touting quality over quantity. As to be expected, vile raps, boastful aggression and abhorrent attitudes guide the lyrical assault on the listener as we are plunged into the fury of violent youthful rebellion.

Further developing their fusion of Trap Metal, the instrumentals toy with big dirty bass lines pushing deep into peak distortions. This noise foray paired with gritty FL Slayer distortion sounds pushes the chemistry further into dark urban avenues. Although a little groove a rhythm arrives through the guitars, its mainly an aesthetic compliment to tracks driven by pounding Trap percussion with darkly sounding samples and synths brooding moods. Its a clear step up from what they achieved beforehand.

Lyrically, its the same game again. For me that is mostly a novel gawking session at the level of ridiculousness on display. The two have an undeniable talent for style, delivery and catchy hooks but the slew of spiteful anger has little in the way of depth. Hurtworld '99 gets a shout for its running letters of hurt, which yield a personal angle with its timing of the world you. It feels like they reach in and grab way more from a single word with how its worked into the hook. Its a keen moment among a few others. If the duo keep moving in this direction it sounds like their is room for growth.

Rating: 5/10

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Bathory "Hammerheart" (1990)

Ones body will be scared by age but so shall the mind! It seems almost criminal that the brilliance of Hammerheart has faded in reputation. Diving back into the Bathory records of youthful years I had somehow lost memory of this masterpiece. Thinking I was on the cusp of unearthing a new glory to enjoy, every track rang echos of a decade past by. Songs unearthed with their etchings still eternal under the dust.

This was the moment Quorthon embraced his heritage and forged a new, remarkable path. Somehow, I remembered this record as a drop off point but in fact these are all spirited songs keenly remembered, including the mighty One Rode To Asa Bay, the only Bathory song to ever be made into a music video if I recall correctly.

Leaving the ferocity of Blood Death Fire behind, slower tempos, brooding atmospheres and heathen choirs accompany a tamer Quorthon who channels his energy into roaring battle cries and off key singing. He conjures the viking spirit with this hard pressed voice that should turn the nose up in theory, yet the genuine passion in his voice pushes the Nordic spirit of the music into a vision coming to life.

Its the final piece solidifying this inspired music of mythic heritage fit to conjure candle lit halls and mighty landscapes of rural natural beauty. Although now a common thing to experience in Viking Metal, this must of been something special at the time of its release. The album opens up with two lengthy epics, Valhalla crashing with lightning strikes into a mountainous passage of drawn out power chords and thunderous drum pounding that sounds practically lifted from Call Of The Cthulhu.

Its a recurring section that elevates the music but also feeds into claims of plagiarism against the band. Something I had yet to touch on but much of the early material is akin to Venom yet Quorthon often claims to have not been influenced by them. It is however a moment of power from the percussive battery and throughout the album tumbling strikes of tom drums help propel these epic and heathen calls to the gods.

Moving into Fire And Ice and Father To Son, sections of dense distortion guitar singularly erupt with a keen parallel to Groove Metal, a genre yet to unfold at this point in time. Its not often the riffs are thrusted forth to the light as they mostly meld with synths to conjure the distinct atmospheres. That measure of fretwork is often subtle but a keen feature throughout. The surprise is these eruptions of meaty groove.

This is a pivotal album for Bathory, being at the forefront of one movement and in one stride to the next, forging and mastering an entirely new sound for the Metal umbrella of sub-genres. Where his last two albums showed flashes of this genius and reveled in a little diversity, Hammerheart is a very unified sound from stand to end that is near impossible to deny as a classic. I am so glad to have found my way back to it!

Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Ho99o9 "Blur" (2020)


  As one of the more exciting acts to follow, the regularity of new material is always welcome. Hot off the heals of Cyber Warfare, the duo offer up another keenly themed mini album to digest. Blur is intermittent with snippets and samples of what sounds like eighties and nineties media hysteria over the emergence of loud and aggressive music in the form of Hardcore and Heavy Metal. The fear and rhetoric feels relevant to their twisted hybrid of dark Hip Hop and Hardcore Punk, ironically the music these talking heads were commenting on is meager and tame in comparison.

These thirty four minutes split along ten tracks feel like a call back to Mutant Freakx and their earlier releases. The bulk of music focuses on slower tempos, twisted and sinister atmospheres built from unhinged beats. Vocally the raps and hooks revel in ambiguity and discernible performances, occasionally lashing out with mean tonged aggressive verse of the Trap Metal variety. Each track is like being dipped into a different dimension of eerie unease as its slowly burns away.

Drifting from that norm, Flesh And Blood has a burst of tempo and Punk energy for the albums shortest affair. With only three tracks led by distortion guitar, Dog Shit takes the cake for being a ferocious riot, unleashing ravenous energy through its dirty riffing. Its brief, housed by samples and the dingy atmosphere the album revels in. Hardcore makes a distinct break from all this with a style and format that ultimately seems like a piss take aimed at Tyler The Creator, ripping off the attributes of his fantastic music.

Compared to the last two stints, it hasn't pushed my buttons as Id like given I am more drawn to their metallic side. It has however been a enjoyable listen with a host of tracks to stuck into but my ultimate take away is the darkly atmospheres don't deliver quite the engagement after multiple spins, it becomes a slow burn as the mystique wares off having deciphered the somewhat cryptic musics facade.

Rating: 6/10

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Mushroomhead "A Wonderful Life" (2020)


  What words to muster for this record? Its been tough to find them. Almost twenty years on from XX there is little stylistic evolution beyond the general trends of modern Metal. Keeping their unique balance between distorted guitars and Classical toned keyboards the band offer up a heaving bulk of mediocrity at seventy minutes. If you cut the runtime by over half you might have something reasonable but its biggest downfall is how interspersed the projects better material is.

A Wonderful Life sounds like it has an arching theme with some recurring lyrics of pain and struggle, so neatly packaged it feels hard to relate with. Its inline with the tone of "light" European Metal, often female fronted, that puts emphasis on clean singing and routine reductions of intensity. A couple tracks stray right into this territory and others linger nearby sticking to their distinct style. There is nothing wrong with that sound but its a temperament that fails to stir emotional resonance with me.

A couple of songs in the mid section play up big theatrical themes with slow unravellings and a sense of grandiose story telling with the music. Its reasonable but far from being remarkable. Again the lyrical themes seem to play up suffering with a lack of resonance. It ties in to the opening barrage of intense operatic singing which rears its ugly head again towards the end and on the closing track. Again, nothing wrong with this but it feels so out of place, a rigid attempt to compliment the theme.

Overall its been a few sluggish spins with some moments of intrigue but mostly dull and drawn out songwriting dressed up by the bands aesthetic and intensity which is enjoyable. Its a competent production so listenable but hardly a memorable one.

Rating: 4/10

Friday, 21 August 2020

Lord Lovidicus "Midsummer" (2020)


  Its felt like a lengthy, patient wait but alas! The time has come again for another installment in the Lord Lovidicus journey. Steering further from Dungeon Synth and deeper into the Fantasy realm, another evolution in tone is of no surprise. Its aquatic theme, or at least my interpretation of Midsummer, has been however! Actually, many parts of it are comparable to A Vespera Ad Lucem but between passageways of temperaments listeners will be more accustom to are flourishes and swells of expression akin to Debussy and the Romantic era, at least to my limited perceptions.

The record has jollity and beauty in abundance. Long gone is the lurking mystery of Dungeon Synth darkness. These songs use luscious instruments and cheerful melodies to steer the music through warm hearted adventures of carefree Fantasy. Flutes, piccolos, layers of synth and tambourine lead percussion build up inviting and immersive atmospheres. The compositional balance is wonderful, repeating sections and simple woven melodies seem interspersed with lead instruments dancing on inspiration at just the right intensity to serve both background and forefront listening.

To my ears, the album finds constraints where the music is held back by its production and format. Some of those aforementioned lead instruments rise up and act like the songs voice. Too often do they feel held back by the time locked and rigid nature of virtual instruments. A little looseness would free up the creativity. Also the indulgent reverbs get a little overpowering when too many instruments are active at the same time. Jeux D'eau is a keen example of both, a beautiful song of instruments dancing on a whim, following heart and soul with a dexterous composition fluttering with complexities that sound cramped by thees issues, despite being utterly wonderful.

In my mind there is no doubt this musicians journey is going in the right direction. This latest divergence of theme is refreshing and the underlying components of skill and inspiration are yielding the magic as ever but as pointed out extensively, this feels like a moment where the technology holds back the music. That however has not held back my immense enjoyment of these simply wonderful starlight atmospheres that conjure underwater aquatic adventures in my humble imagination. Brilliant!

Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Fellsilent "Fell Silent" (2004)

  To round out the nostalgic dive into a legendary local scene band, I managed to scrape together two of the three songs that made up their first demo! I'd never heard this these songs before and initially they sounded stylistically different from the Djent beast they would become. The tone of Metal at play was surprisingly really fitting of the local scenes of the time, getting away from the shadow Nu Metal and reinventing the wheel with a strong Metalcore influence. I even have some CD-R demos that sound not far from whats at play here.

Yet to master the Djent tone, the group have a shorter measure of polyrhythms in the guitar riffing, playing out stomping grooves with tightly picked riffs often dizzying around single notes and bends. After an analytical listen one can see the path they took. At this stage their songs are strong, decent but yet to be exceptional. The Meshuggah influence not so obvious. They do however have the songwriting to lead their collection of choppy riffs to climaxes as both the songs led to a satisfying conclusion.

Singer Neema Askari has yet to knuckle down that bleak forceful tone in his screaming and so sounds rather amateurish in that typical feel of local bands. His cleans however are far more emotive and expose a chemistry that prevails to their later work. Both the songs I heard are fantastic and grow fondly with many repetitions. It may not have been obvious at the time the potential this group of young lads had but all the pieces are there in one form or another.

 Its really uncanny just how much it all reminds me the other bands in the scene of this era but perhaps not so given how in the early naughties we were still mostly geographically defined, even though the internet culture was starting to blossom. Such a treat to enjoy but more so for personal reasons. This demo is a fine starting point for the band and on a final note, very well produced for a scene demo! Its a great listen, wish I could just find that third track!

Rating: 4/10

Monday, 17 August 2020

Public Image Ltd "Metal Box" (1979)


 I've often seen this record cited as a classic, one to check out yet I found my entry to it slow but alas one day came Albatross on shuffle and it all clicked. After the flash in the pan revolution of Punk Rock and the Sex Pistols, front man John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten swiftly moved on from the values and ideas of Never Mind The Bollocks and formed Public Image Ltd. Metal box is their second album, one that garnished a lot of attention from music critics who's recommendations I've followed.

For me this record is an experimentation in form and function that seem obvious with retrospect but for 1979 could of been something special. Labeld as Post-Punk, there is plenty of this genre I've heard that nods in the direction of this repetitive, artsy anti-music. For just about every song the stage is set by Jah Wobble's driving, monochromatic basslines that endlessly plod away alongside steady drum patterns that resist flamboyancy or flair. The two build a backbone of powerful mood steering droning to foster the bands artistic experiments.

Each song plants some set of ideas into these mesmerizing repetitions. Discordant guitar noise and dissemination of norms feature between blunt force poetry put forth in unapologetic common tongue and alien deployments of abstract synth tones. For me, its a real case of hit and miss. These experiments throw a variety of performance and musical idea into the brewing pot. Not all of it sticks and all too often is it driven in going against the norm, a good thing for unearthing magic.

Careering is driven by its whirling synths, forging an atmosphere of electrical unease juxtaposed against the casual perusing of its rhythm section. Chant on the other hand goes militant with continual chanting, a dominant snare with broken guitar noise abuse led by Lydon's snarling remarks. Its a harsher approach doesn't pull me in. These are two polar ends too what a lot of these songs do, deploy a handful of "out there" ideas to the droning repetitive framework and see what happens.

Oddly the album closes with Radio 4. A bassline harmonizes with symphonic synths to the give way to them fully. Its a glorious and mysterious sound to see out the record on. Almost feels like a statement of sorts in comparison to the rest of the music. This album is totally worth a listen. It thinks about the norms of music and deconstructs them. I am just left wondering if it could grow on me more? After quite a few spins I've taken it in well, we will see what happens with time and encounters on shuffle!

Rating: 6/10

Saturday, 15 August 2020

Bathory "Blood Fire Death" (1988)


 And now for the album where it all started for me... One of my first Black Metal records, Emperor's almighty and majestic In The Nightside Eclipse. It concluded with a bonus track, a cover of A Fine Day To Die, a mind blowing Bathory song, a true anthem of epic wonderment, embroiled in blood and darkness, thrust forth from a clash in the heavens above. Blood Fire Death is where it takes place, however not much of the record is inline with the soaring songwriting of its mesmerizing start. 

Opening with Odens Ride Over Nordland, the cries of majestic horses are lost to the echos of mist descend upon the listener. A spooky, chilling and mythic tone is set as the sound of creeping fog and archaic choirs forge a masterful soundscape of aftermath. Unlike previous attempts with ambience, Quorthorn envisions a stunning atmosphere to compliment the albums cover. Its as if souls are falling from the heavens above where the battle rages on beyond the mortal realm.

It gives way to the sombre acoustic intro, lined with whispering vocals and plucked strings echoing through the temple. The suspense for whats to come is palpable, an eruption of might and power. The power chords roar, the screams bellow and a sequence of unforgettable riffs lead us into battle. A couple splashes of blazing lead guitar fretwork set of sparks from the coming onslaught of guitar solos, Quorthorn seemingly mastering every aspect of his craft on this number. A break back to acoustic guitars and choral synths may lead you in the wrong direction as the musical beautifully groans its way right back into the heart of the fire with an unleashing of sonic guitar that shreds to the heavens and back with an astonishing sense of tune.

Its simply unforgettable. An eleven out of ten track that in my opinion elevates the spectacle of this album as the music pivots back into Under The Sign territory from The Golden Walls Of Heaven to Dies Irae. With excellent execution, stunning sprawls of shrill lead guitar noise and sharp potent riffing, Quorthorn nails down the fast paced, full pelt assault of ferocious proto Black Metal that Massacre achieved before it. Its clear his songwriting is in a stride as the songs provide memorable hooks and riffs alike as the listener is barraged with an unrelenting ferocity.

That pace is rested a fraction with the half paced stomp of All Those Who Died but it too has intensity in droves, another fantastic unleashing of evil aggression. Its this block of songs though that highlight a flaw in the record, Its production. The guitars are admittedly a little sloppy, its rugged punchy snare sounds like a drum machine for much of the record. All too often does the feeling in the musics writing outpace the quality as the songs here don't rely on low fidelity gimmicks to sell themselves.

It is only with the opening and closing title track that Quorthorn fully embraces a new spirit in his music, the history and heritage of his Swedish ancestry, Vikings! Where the last record started to experiment with this angle, this time the songs are fully realized and embellished in his roots. The beginning of Viking Metal to come! Despite the knowledge of whats to follow next, these songs really do define themselves with the simple use of male choral backings and ancient sounding synths. Of course the songwriting is key and less intense vocals contribute as well.

Its interesting going back over these old records of youth with an intention to understand them better. I'd still consider this his finest hour, however its become more obvious how fractured this and the last album are. Different music ideals emerge and experimentation is more obvious. The songwriting at this stage though is utterly remarkable. A definite peak although whats to come is an era I am less accustomed with. I find myself very excited to visit albums that once disappointed a naive younger me, for simply not being like the records that came before it!

 Rating: 10/10

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Between The Buried And Me "Colors" (2007)


 Where to begin with colors? What an incredible album. I was barely a fan when this record first dropped. I might have mistakenly known Between The Buried And Me as a generic Hardcore band crossing into the trending Deathcore scene. Then suddenly this masterpiece falls from the sky. Although the music may have solidified in my mind, time passes and It always feels great to return to this lengthy epic. Sixty five minutes of relentless musical fire split into eight from one massive sprawling song!

It was obvious upon release but even more so having chewed through Queen's discography all these years later that they, among many other Progressive Rock greats, etched an eclectic identity to this album. Although the bands metallic edge is rooted in Metalcore and Technical Death Metal, Color's musical world consistently blur boundaries and genre lines, with a particular fondness for the jollity, wondrous and playful spirit of pantomime and a theatrical bustle, best imbued by Queen.

In colorful juxtaposing bursts the musics bounces between its two worlds effortlessly. Tunneling barrages of technical riffage, frantic fretwork and sonic grooves switch into the smooth and illustrious. Graceful pianos, chirpy organs and harmonious singing shape up its eclectic sections which do get less of the airtime in the onslaught of brutality. The same can be said vocally, shaping up from forceful shouts of harshness to soaring sung melodies of grace. They tend to match the instrumental intensity.

On the fantastical journey, a lot of the music resides in the brutal camp of stomping technical showmanship but its best moments always come from the breaks, the blurring of lines and influxes of cultural sound, Backyard Bluegrass and French street music to point out a couple stand out moments. Although it is necessary to have this intensity to make way for the calm, it comes in droves and the records slowest parts are when the brutality gets drawn out, self involved and monotonous.

The composition also stacks a lot of the best material into the first few songs. A minor drawback on a record every fan of Extreme music should check out. It stands apart from other Progressive Metal records in its ability to so naturally flip the switch on intensity and provide some polar extremes even if not in proportion to one another. Giving it a few spins again tended to highlight flaws with a mind for examination and thought sharing, this blog, but it was also a pure delight to get deep into these songs again! A wonderful album to have in the collection.

Favorite Tracks: Informal Gluttony, Ants Of The Sky, Prequel To The Sequel

Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Bathory "Under The Sign Of The Black Mark" (1987)

 Continuing another adventure into the music of my youth, Bathory's third effort was one less acquainted with. It had however solidified a memory as being remarkably decent for the time. Well this has been an absolute treat to get back into! Its been so long the experience was practically fresh to my ears! Coming of the back of the overly ambitious The Return..... It sounds like the moment where the stars align. The group shed their prototype skin and bathe in the blasphemy of self actualized Black Metal! Under The Sign Of The Black Mark is where everything they were trying to do works.

We will however start with the negatives. Not everything is exceptional, although the bulk is. The intro and outro tracks seem utterly pointless as their dusky ambience fails to ignite any atmosphere to lead in the satanic metallic onslaught. The final two proper tracks, 13 Candles and Of Doom, both feel a little lacking with the pile of brilliance before it. They do have there moments with musical shifts but the offerings feel like soft rehashes of the genius in the songs heard beforehand.

They stand in the shadow of brilliant songwriting, which is quite diverse and distinct. The record kicks off with Massacre, a thrashing juggernaut of vicious hate, lashing out from the mark as we are plunged into blast beats and vile screams. Its a straightforward but well executed idea. The following Woman Of Dark Desires is unsuspecting until it lunges into an unusually catchy chorus as Quorthorn cries out with throaty strained screams the name of Elizabeth Bathory. The inclusion of evil organs towards the end, foreshadows more brilliance yet to come our way.

Call From The Grave steadies the pace, a mid tempo track with soaring riff work, toying with some dissonance. The approach to this dark music is expanded as the haunting throaty screams roar with menace over the grave atmosphere conjured. Equilmanthorn hails back to the records opening, another plunge into ruthless pummeling that shifts to a half step riff, then slamming in with another catchy hook in the chorus as Quorthon cries out the title track over and over  in memorable fashion.

The song has an incredible guitar solo to see it end on a thrilling climax, which bring me to a point, the lead guitar work which seems to frequent every track is phenomenal. Either creating a Slayer alike barrage of noise or delivering a blaze of evil melodies, everything that was tried before feels mastered here. That includes the screams, the most aggressive and shrill to date yet the temperament and texture is just perfect for what these extremities can achieve in the context of Black Metal.

Enter The Eternal Fire is the last of these incredible songs but for entirely different reasons. An incorporation of atmospheric synth tones and epic mid-tempo setting foreshadows the heritage influenced Bathory sound to come. All in all the record is a stunning maturity in songwriting. The haphazard ideas and sloppy performances of its predecessor blown out of the water. The inclusion of synths lay down foundations for the popular Symphonic element to come in the 90s. I also adore the inclusion of the Funeral Macrbe melody on Call From The Grave. Possibly my favorite moment of many fantastic ones on this truly remarkable and pioneering album.

 Rating: 9/10

Sunday, 9 August 2020

Mrs. Piss "Self-Surgery" (2020)

Plunging into a world of maniacal self deprecation, Chelsea Wolfe and Jess Gowrie team up for a short collaborative effort. Its sleazy name, grotesque artwork and grim atmosphere make for a wild ride into the depraved. Fulled by Punk adrenaline and noisy instruments the duo put together a mix of Post-Punk, Black Metal and Post-Metal that steps into the bleak shadows but offers a rather grabbing energy in return as its darkly tone is driven by some unexpected great song writing.

Firstly, the combination of Chelsea's haunting voice, hazy like a ghost in the fog with vitriol screams and howls in the backdrop is memorizing in its best moments. The two get loose, toying with reverbs among the barrage of noise. It lets a whole range of approaches light these songs up and the ambiguity fuels the sometimes simplistic, repetitive lyrics, which do not feel as such. Its drives home the filthy themes at play that dip into the ugly and darker corners of the mind. 

Secondly, percussion is king, from the tame, sluggish and brooding sections, up to the fast, energetic, pulse racing patterns, they drive the music forward. Rather than pace keeping, the grooves feel essential, a central part of the composition. Aesthetically they are part of the ugly sprawl of sound, the cymbals heavily clashing in the mix but it plays into the projects charm with enough cushion in its key components to really drive home the deep pushing power they posses.

Behind it all rugged riff driven guitars and powerful pounding bass lines, the occasional synth, brew up the textural treats as they barrage, along with the percussion, walls of dizzying darkness. It puts the record in this unique position of occupying a dark realm without pulling up the usual tropes of blast beats and sinister melodies. Its the ripe chemistry forging an engulfing atmosphere that makes this project work. At just twenty minutes it goes by all to quick. I hope they do more together!

Rating: 7/10

Friday, 7 August 2020

Brelstaff "Brelstaff" (2020)


 Formerly know as Daryl Donald, this name change to Brelstaff signifies little in the way of musical progression. Its another collection of mini Jazz Hop instrumentals exploring the craft with a familiar Entroducing... akin charm. These short, mostly two minute tracks swiftly conjure an atmosphere and reside there for a brief stay, fleshed out with some variations. The selections of drum patterns and samples mix sweetly into easy indulgences. With enough ambiguity and noises between the obvious pairings, the tracks keep delivering a fresh depth on each listen. Together, the tracks are all laid back, summery and warm. The Jazz flavor keeps it musical and grounded, not running away with the uplift but holding back an air of spirituality. The mood is an introspective one, perfect for both background music and giving it your attention.

The short compositions do feel somewhat demo like. Fade ins and outs give ques to where ideas start and end. Stitched on mini beat creations and the like make it into the twenty minute run time but in all fairness there is no filler. No track out runs its purpose, once seeing through its variety it ends. A voice in the form of rhyme or reason, rapping or singing may serve it well as the voices calling John Coltrane's on the track of the same name seem to ramp up the mystique over a mysterious pondering bass line. Its a dusty track with a lot of charm. That note may just signify what's missing, the foundations are in place but as a collection of beats they feel in need of something to elevate it upwards to the next level.

Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Fellsilent "The Hidden Words" (2008)

With The Double A being my go too record for youthful nostalgia, memories of this, the bands debut album, are somewhat foggy. I seem to remember its release closely linked to their announced split but these events were over a year apart. Whatever I thought beforehand, returning to The Hidden Words as been another delight from a group I'm keenly fond of. Its amazing how much time has lapsed and love not lost!

The album essentially feels like an extension of the EP, four original tracks, four new and three "linking" interludes has the band simply expand on the persona established. One big change is the arrival of a second vocalist who slips in almost unnoticed. With a similar tone and candour to his partner Neema Askari, Joe Garrett feels neither essential or overlooked, his inclusion works without any bright sparks of ingenuity.

As with the EP, Fellsilent slap together an arsenal of pelting Djent riffs, loaded with groove and rhythm that plays between atmospheric and melodic trade offs. They move from pummelling metallic assaults to steadying backdrop shuffling fretwork as their dynamism flourishes in these mostly straight forward song structures. Often do they keenly lead to a belting breakdown to slam your head along with! The linking instrumentals also serve up riffing delights with infusions of acoustic string plucking.

Returning to this record gave me a greater appreciation for the balance of complexity when chopping up polymetered grooves into 4/4 patterns. So sweetly do they push both angles. The power and persuasion of rhythm is without any burden yet many riffs have puzzling arrangements. Like with Meshuggah I am sure the mystery would unravel a little learning to play their songs on guitar, something I hope to find time for!

Its such a shame this was the end of the road. The band certainly materialised a fine execution of sound and style but where to go from here? Who knows... In all likelihood it may have never surpassed this moment given how fantastic they where at this point, perhaps they exhausted all they had? I remember the statement at the time indicating that everyone involved felt like they had seen it through and wanted to move on. Some music elitists make comments like "they should of quit after XYZ". Maybe that's exactly what these guys did? Go out on top.

Rating: 9.5/10 

Monday, 3 August 2020

Joey Badass "The Light Pack" (2020)

Stagnation is the word that comes to mind enjoying this chilled jazzy trio of Hip Hop tracks flying the flag for the 90s sound. From B4.Da.$$ to All-American Bada$$, young Joey made quite the impression, solidifying him as one to keep an eye on. The Light Pack marks three short songs in three years, all of which could slip into his previous records. It was underwhelming on first impression, his opening verse affirming style and stature, taking shots at Mumble Rap and pronouncing his successes. It sounds tired to these ears, with his established flow unchanged.

The second track brings on Pusha T, who's style is still rather fresh and interesting to me, a reminder to check his work out further. Its a brief bit of spice over a moody, slightly gloomy beat. The final track Shine brings some uplift in tone but again I just don't find Joey's raps that exciting beyond their obvious competence. The concept of mind, body and soul this project is supposed to embody doesn't leap out at this listener. It's ultimately a small release that hasn't advanced any musical prospects for Joey and ended up feeling a little dull in the shadow of his albums.

Rating: 2/10

Saturday, 1 August 2020

Logic "No Pressure" (2020)

Announced as his retirement record, No Pressure doesn't feel like a send off but its title reflects the mood, a resignation to expectations. With such a prolific output, work ethic and passion for the craft I fully expect to hear more from Logic at some point in the future. For now however he is making an honourable move, devoting his time to fatherhood, putting his energy towards the raising of his newly born son.

It's a firm return to form, echoing the greatness of The True Incredible Story with many of its hallmarks. The digital effeminate voice returns telling intimate details about the projects creation and his influences in rhyme, rap and culture. The days of rapping over classic 90s beats are resurrected on GP4 with an interpolation of Outkast's Elevators. Its checks all the boxes, its spirit inline with what defines him best.

When it comes to rhymes Logic offers up a slice of time perspective as he so often does. With the relief of retirement and the pivoting to parenthood the depth and maturity is gripping. The songs roll one after another with no shortage of engaging topicality. Of course its all packaged within the sharp skill set he possess. I'd say on just one track he sets himself for "failure" as a run through the alphabet in rhymes starts strong but steadily looses its path in the self imposed lyrical challenge.

On the production side he lists his influences boldly. 90s vibes and a helping of Kanye inspired voicing makes for a colorful, soulful, grooving record of mostly uplifting beats and Jazz Hop vibes. A couple fun tracks like A2Z and Perfect shake things up to take the foot of the gas. On the way out things get more thematic, bringing in bright pianos, the sung raps and more of a pop appeal as the record build to a grand bow out.

Obediently yours pulls out one heck of a speech from Orson Welles's radio show archives. A very powerful message of privilege and debt to those without it. A great way to leave something striking in the mind as we potentially say goodbye to a true talent, using this moment to forward deep meaning. At seventy six minutes its a meaty record, full of substance that doesn't fire at the faster of paces. Its a strong body of work set to be steadily enjoyed and enjoyed this I have!

Favorite Tracks: GP4, Soul Food II, Perfect, Man I Is, DaBod, Obediently Yours
Rating: 7/10