Thursday, September 21, 2017
First off let me tell you how much I hate the fact that this new album is one 83 track. So the for the purpose of this review I am breaking it down into fifteen minute increments.
the first 15 The first four minutes is a very tentative drone that has more in common with a slow unfolding post- rock song than doom. It lacks the oppressive and sorrow nature of doom. They lost their drummer during the making of this album and I don't feel the sense of loss they spoke of in press releases. Billy Anderson worked the board on this so it sounds very spacious. The low growl of vocal come in around the seven minute mark.It swells into a droning chant of clean vocals that are used as a ghostly instrument on their own. This sounds great , but walks the line when it comes to funeral doom as I would not say this is especially dark.
The second 15
Approaching the 17 minute mark it's clear this could have been trimmed and at 17 minutes in this could have been edited into the second song. The tension is broken we have a clear delineation where this second song should begin, unless you want to be self indulgent and turn this into the grandiose thing that it is. Its right before we hit the 30 minute mark that the vocals go into more of a nasty death rasp and things being to get heavier in a more aggressive metal sense than I recall hearing the band dig into.
The third 15
This is a droning continuation of the theme already developed lower sung vocals do echo out of the dark abyss they are trying to casting light from, but I am not sure it's enough for me to have invested the previous 15 minutes for. The sonic scope of what they are doing is however impressive.
The fourth 15
There is more of a psychedelic 60s feel to the folk like vocals that ride the fragile drone, that seeks to find space more than it does heaviness. This carries echoes of Jesu, though with a slightly less shoe gaze feel.
The fifth 15
The vocals carry over here, though they are more layered and harmonized as it is a residual from the build of the last movement. The guitar stays dreamy rather than dark or heavy. It drifts further out into the atmosphere.
the sixth 15 and ending
There is an organ that appears here to usher in the slow rise of the doom returning at what is at this point and hour and ten minutes into things. It swells into something more metal though we are talking about metal in Jesu's zip code which means by merit of hypnotic power. The final four minutes finds it fading back into nothingness with fragile fanfare to say farewell. I will give this album a 7.5 , there are cool sections an it sounds great , the vocals have also improved.
Here is another attempt to find music to get me ready for Halloween. This time it's an album of remixes from a darker electronic act. Since I have never heard them them and well aware sometimes remixes sound better than the original I am just going with what I am presented here. It falls some where between William Control and Mindless Self Indulgence. Two acts I like so that is a good start.The vocals are harmonized and double tracked.Chris Corner from the Sneaker Pimps remixes the first song. The bass line is strong in a bouncy Marilyn Manson kinda way. The drummer of Depeche Mode takes a shot at "Heavens Black and White". It makes sense that these guys are from LA as this is the musical equivalent of the kinda name dropping that goes on there. This song is more vocal focused by not as interesting and the vocals kinda form a plastic coated drone until the disco beat comes in.
So far my favorite song was "Lowlife Novelties" that was remixed by Aesthetic Perfection. It has a touch of sleaze to it. The most impressive however is what they do with Jay Gordon of Orgy on the song "Pristine" . This doesn't feel like re-read edm posing as dark wave. The beats are pretty innovative and the vocals are mixed further back him them. It's also when the female vocals comes in even just for a few words that it gives them a sexier sound.This creates almost a hip hop feel and it is also interesting how far back they mixed what sounds to be the original tracks.
These guys have peaked my interest in them with this. I am not sure this is something I feel the need to have in my iPod at present.I'll give this a 8.5 Looking for some mainstream sounding goth influenced alternative rock tinged edm and are a fan of any of the bands involved in remixing this album then it is going to be up your dark alley.
Getting ready for Halloween I wanted more death rock in my life, so I went on the inner webs looking for what I had missed in this regard...note of reader fell free to hit me up with suggestions , I'll except darkwave, death rock , industrial or pot-punk though when it comes to post punk it needs to really be rucking dark and not too punk. Not too punk is also a problem you can run into with bands claiming to be death rock. Not that I have a problem with punk when I am in the mood for it , but there is a difference. The first song comes close to being the more anarcho-version of death rock, but then the album pretty much devolves into punk. It's very straight forward , the only darker element is the effects on the guitars. The vocals are a shrill shouted little girl. They make more of an attempt to give me something to latch onto with "Plastic Devil which has a more jagged riff that jerks you around.
The drummer is pretty talented and all over the place. I think the bass player could step up their game and play something catchier and then we would be closer to being death rock, though the guitars are the dominate force here, with the vocals just kind of happening. The title track is an instrumental with nothing special happening. They do get a little darker on " Nervous Language". The singer better be really hot in order to make their live show interesting as she can not sing to save her life which is why she must avoid doing so by shouting. After clicking around on Facebook I find she is not , but is also the bass player , making her both of this band's weak links. This drummer and guitarist are really wasting their time as they are both talented.
I'll round this down to a 4.5. I think I pretty clearly outlined the bands problems. With that said there are some interesting guitar parts so if you are just bored with you current selection of female fronted punk and very 1,2,3,...go still no non sense punk then give them a listen, this was not what I was looking for and was a waste of my time but it might not be a waste of yours if this is your thing.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
There is a a lot of talk going on round in regards to the world ending on Saturday, so I am glad these guys came out with a new one in case I need a soundtrack to ponder a desolate post-apocalyptic wasteland to. The opening title track so a slow atmospheric shimmer of the music coming to life with brass instrumentation blowing the melodies out of the fog. I would not say this is their most fully formed song or their best work ,but it does create a mood, and for that it is a success as the orchestra tunes their instruments and comes to life. While still heavily orchestrated in a manner not unlike there previous work, though perhaps a shade lighter moody wise there is a rock n roll like melody that merges from the high traffic density of instrumentation. II suppose when I say rock it falls some where between Radiohead and the Beatles as the melody sounds like a wist on "A Little Help From My Friends" . I can also here some of the Who's proggier moments if we are going to dissect this by tracing it all the way back to it's classic rock roots.
"Fam Famine" has a little more tension in the feedback that brings this wave of sound in. It starts off more psychedelic in the trippy way the sounds dances around you. The focus however is more ambiance that a song that moves in more than a droning pulse even with some of the melodies that hover over this but never land.The album closes with "Anthem For No State". It starts off not wanting to touch the ground either but have the weightless lunar feel of kruat rock which also makes me think of walking on the moon. A western strum of guitar begins to take form and gives this song the sound as if it is a the soundtrack to a sad space western. Trumpets begin to blare more exotic chord voicing and the song begins to turn into one of Jimi Hendrix's guitar freak outs transposed for orchestra. The drums help give it some movement and further the spaghetti western comparisons. It does build into something with more of a powerful rock punch.
I think is album could have been a little more grounded. It does flow within the established guidelines of what these band does and is a fair representation of what they do though orchestral element might even be bigger on this album. I will give it an 8, though I do not expect to get more listens than the ones it took me to review this album, since it can be long winded in the ambiance. The band's ardent fan base with find plenty to latch onto here.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Normally when I review an album I write as I am sitting there listening to it for the first time. This is not the case here I have sat on this one for a few days. I can say Wolves in the Throne Room is back to a more unabashed embracing of black metal. In doing so this doesn't mean that are being enslaved to blast beats or ignoring some of the things from their more experimental leanings that have made them who they are . Six albums and fourteen years invested in this , they have a clear understanding as to who they want to be in the present moment and continue to invoked the feeling of their surroundings. Sometimes you need to step away from it in order to gain perspective. This album owes more to Ulver and Darkthrone than it does Godspeedyoublackemperor!
The album opens with a calm before the storm as crystalline guitar rings out. They kind of black metal they burst into has a lighter feel to the intention it is being played with. The vocals are the most scathing part of it. The riffs eventually get as mean spirited as something Watain would do. This might be a reflect in their changing and more cynical attitudes toward the world changing around them.Then there is a jarring as as it drops out into female vocals. Very serene and siren like. Then a darker riffs evolves out of this interlude, with the female vocals floating in the background. When they sing about the old ones being with them on the following song there is a sense they are talking about the ancestral spirits of the land rather than some sort of Lovercraftian horror. The ominous sense is more one of enormity when facing a mountain rather than staring into an abyss. That earth based feeling is conveyed in the husky gravel of the more Tom Waits like narrative midway into the song that sounds like something Neurosis might do. "Angrboda" is a more straight forward blast drive charge of more traditional black metal. While this might bore me if it was another band, with these guys it's a welcome reminder than this is what they do. They do throw in bridges amid the blasts with a sonic twist to keep me interested and not numbed out. This casts a colder shade of gray into the spectrum they are painting the song with. Here and at other points in the album is breaks all the way down to very minimal arrangements augmented with sound effects. It is effective here is it sets the stage for the change in mood.
"Mother Owl, Father Ocean is more of an ambient aside rather than a fully formed song, in the way this band conceives fully formed songs. It might be a fully formed song for the Cocteau Twins , but not for Wolves in the Throne Room. Five and a half minutes into the eleven minute closer things turn to a darker current. This offer the kind of dynamic shift I need as come of their so called cascadian passages can shimmer to brightly for what I generally look for , but when used as a contrasting color I think it works the best. They also manage to hit that sweet spot where they are just as heavy sonically as they are metal. This is along with darkness is among the more important qualities I look for in heavy music. The blasts in the last three minutes of this song are well deserved and make sense , as they have proven that this alone is not all they are about. I'll round this up to a 10 as I think it's solid triumph in the band returning to old stomping grounds in a way that is not mired in nostalgia for what was 14 years ago while still giving their early fans what they have been wanting.
I have mixed feeling when this album opens . I am glad to hear the return the return of distorted guitar . I not' really like the more straight ahead punk rock like pounding , but my it will grow on me. "Tattooed in Reverse" has a more groove to it. The distorted guitar is back. The distortion doesn't have a metal low end to it. Instead it's very dry and mid-range. So more of an industrial tone and not the beefiest at that. It is a fact that this album is angrier than "Pale Emperor". I want Manson to do be pissed , but I think the songs are no where as infectious even including the lead single "We Know Where You Fucking Live". The song is ok, but I don't see it getting stuck in my head like the bulk of the songs from "Pale Emperor". Speaking of that album it's the same band that played on "Pale Emperor " which has returned for "Heaven Upside Down".
There is a more hip-hop like beat to "Say10". This one is the darkest song so far. The guitar comes in at the chorus a more classic Manson feel. The beats begin to get a little more interesting as the album progresses. Some of the more bluesy undercurrents of the previous album begin to return. With Marilyn Manson I want hi to be as dark as possible but still have groove and melody. It seems like this is where he is going with "Saturnalia" . It is the most goth song on the album up to this point. He comes back strong on "Jesus Crisis" announcing he writes songs to fight and to fuck to. "Blood Honey" has more of an industrial power ballad feel. It does kinds step back into the 90s which I am fine with. He admits that he will fuck every broken crazy girl, which I can certainly relate to. The title track is alright , but doesn't go above and beyond like some of these songs.
The album closes with "Threats of Romance". This one has an almost White Strips like stomp to it. It's more piano driven with lots of swing and a 70s rock n roll feel during the first verse. The lyrics in the chorus are pretty clever "I liked you damaged , but I need something left". I'll go ahead and round this one up to a 9.5 and see how it grows on me. The last album certainl did and over the years he has proven to have that effect on me.
Monday, September 18, 2017
This band from North England are equal amounts angry and atmospheric with folk elements draped in-between. When they do five into their anger it is genuine black metal. The vocals are in a similar static white noise scream as say Deafheaven. The songs are very concise. They squeeze folk melodies over the most furious of their blasting moments. By the time they hit the third song we are getting a more straight forward blasting attack that lacks the more defining qualities that gives this band their sense of identity. In other words it sounds like all other generic black, perhaps with a slightly slicker coating of ice over it. The first shift in dynamics is is jarring right turn into folk with clean singing on "A Litany of Cowards" which finds the lyrics being more political than I would like. I am better with this being screamed as it's not as in my face. Not that the singing is that great to begin with, his voice is rather meek. Considering that these guys used to be a screamo band I would think the singing would be better.
You can hear the shades of their old emo past in the folky intro of "the Ceaseless Arbitrary Choice" . They do win me over with the lower goth vocals toward the end of the song. Why were they no singing like that all along, I might have put up with their peace and love hippy lyrics.After this they prove that even a screamo band can make run of the mill black metal . It's not until they bring in the violin that they really sound interesting . It more screaming about how they can not tolerate intolerance, which I guess is some kind of millennial logic of rather than be ok with other people having beliefs I don't agree with I am going to have a temper tantrum. This is what happens when you have a generation of parents who think it's not ok to spank your kids. By this time in the album their blast blast beats have bored me.
"Island of Cannibal Horses" sounds like it will be a death metal song but its not. I do like when bands scream over clean guitars and mellow arrangements. This does call them out again for their emo past, but I can deal with it here. The singing is a little better when they close out the album with " A Thought Ablaze" it sounds like a lighter version of Death in June, I hope these kids don't know their politics or they would really get their panties in a wad. The lyrics really ruined this for me, but while there are moments and even a few good songs they have not really exceeded expectations . I will round this down to a 7, I think they do have potential, it is just not fully manifesting here.