/emo - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[to be honest, I’m not talking about the hairstyle]
Loma Prieta - Life/Less
The Life/Less 12" is a thrashin’ interpretation of screamo, preferring to crush, rather than take part in the bland, modern post-rock gimmick that many such bands settled into. But why are people calling this stuff chaotic as if bands like Orchid or Usurp Synapse never even existed. Sure, there are certainly many great bands today, but I’ve still not heard one able of holding a candle to what once was the Sound and the fucking Fury (and I hate nostalgia, goddamnit). Fuck the expensive equipment, the sterile sound and the Scene jury. Loma Prieta is alright, though.
Envy - Recitation
Yes, I expected much more, but Recitation is sweet, sweet Envy, regardless - if any band pulls off the whole post-rock screamo deal well, it’s them, with years and years of perfecting, with actual hardcore punk beginnings and the balls that come with it. Still, feels like Recitation might have worked better had it come before, rather than after the emo epic that is Insomniac Doze, yet I only regarded some sort of concrete progression as a realistic expectation specificaly because it’s Envy that I’m thinking of; that said, the album is damn nice, but their splits with Jesu and Thursday showcased much more interesting tracks, songs of the sort that they’ll hopefully explore in the future. To continue, a relevant Japanese band that has changed considerably:
Heaven in Her Arms - Paraselene
Paraselen (a false moon) is probably the scariest and heaviest screamo record that ever was. The question is, can we, that is, should we even consider it as such? A great amount of the time, this is downright drone-doom, post-sludge, goddamn progressive metal as far as the the drummer’s concerned, burgeoning forth in a morbid, deathly manner, like some sort of disease, the resurgence of the plague (re: Camus). I, for one, thank Heaven in Her Arms for fairly alienating listening experiences, one hour at a time.
Alcest - Écailles de lune
Neige's new album seems to lack the personality of Souvenirs d'un autre monde, but my enjoyment of it still depends on whether I'm in the right mind (i.e. hopeful, optimistic, not cynical, so as not to consider it pathetic). It's just not as fun or catchy, really, but not bad by any means. I mean, Neige's smooth, blissful singing on the last track (Sur l'océan couleur de fer) is certainly what I've been looking for in life. Erm, sorry. I actually enjoy Alcest, but I guess I don't really see his music as the heavenly pure passion that Neige's seemingly gigantic (and growing) fanbase professes as matter-of-fact with foam dripping down their chins. Stop acting like you've got the rabies, eh? Similar thoughts on the following band (that I also enjoy, incidentally):
Lantlôs - .neon
With the inclusion of Neige as the vocalist, Lantlôs became something between Alcest and Amesoeurs. How this happened, I don't even care. Being insufficiently bleak to reach what Amesoeurs did last year, the stuff's not even as whiny as the work of Alcest, yet somehow .neon manages to settle into a "golden" middle, at least if it's your sort of thing. I actually like Neige's vocals 'cause, while his rasp recalls guys like Johan Lindstrand (At the Gates, The Crown, Disfear), come track two (These Nights Were Ours) I was reminded of Envy's own Tetsuya Fukagawa (perhaps it was the timing?), although the reverb / delay quickly swept the feeling off. But the notions stayed - Lantlôs seems to have introduced modern, post-rock-heavy (scr)e(a)mo into black metal (perhaps unknowingly), so it's just too natural for armchair elitists to express their hate and fury all over the internet (righteous in regard to black metal), and ever more so considering how pretty, erm, overrated these bands (as in Alcest, Amesoeurs) are. I mean, sure, call it "post-black metal" if you want, but how much of it actually pertains to black metal? The term rings hollow as the music is more like an intertribal amalgamation of post-rockin' shoegaze, post-punk, and whatever else is considered very much not black metal, that's had some distortion, screaming, and blastbeats attached to its tail. "Post-black metal" makes me think of Deathspell Omega, Dreams of the Drowned, or whatever is more realistically avant-garde black metal, e.g. Ved Buens Ende.
/non-grind blastbeats - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[hilarious wizard-clowns in black & white 'n' such]
Deathspell Omega - Paracletus
DsO is what I'm talking about (in regard to the last few sentences above) - a band that evolved out of classic black metal exhibitionism (Infernal Battles), went through hell and, erm, stayed there, enveloped in metaphysical Satanic flames to this day, riding the sleazy-red-dude-with-a-goatee's horns to the finalization of a very interesting album trilogy, Paracletus being their Return of the King (let it be known that I'm just kidding considering how much ass the Lord of the Rings trilogy sucks). They've come to be so far removed as to make people reminisce of technical death metal in general, of the kind not played by macho wankers. For example, on Wings of Predation I immediately thought of Orgone from Pittsburgh (a very subjective association that also happened with Thou), although the probability that their Goliath debut was an influence seems pretty low / thinking more along the lines of Gorguts, really.
Wold - Working Together For Our Privacy
This Canadian duo is the duo to see for enthralling, ritualistic walls of noise to cast your black magic to. Reminding me of The Conet Project shortwave recordings or similarly creepy things, Wold shows just how goddamn frightening lo-fi can be.
Sigh - Scenes From Hell
Sigh from Japan kicks the ass of approx. all symphonic metal bands. Bring on the trumpets.
Ihsahn - After
In Ihsahn's case, it's more like bring on the saxophones. "After" doesn't have much to do with black metal, but it's Ihsahn that we're talking about so I'd rather not put him next to, I dunno, the Dillinger Escape Plan? It's a pretty cool, catchy, "progressive metal" album, but I found it too, I dunno, tame? So I dunno.
Dispirit - Rehearsal at Oboroten
John Gossard's new band - expansive, layered, deformed and doomish black metal. This demo is just a recording of Dispirit's rehearsal, being over half an hour of material well worth a listen for reasons other than the forementioned guitar player's former, now dead bands (e.g. Asunder or USBM celebrities Weakling [hey, there's even a band called Dead as Dreams]). As much as it is noisy and raw, it's very sophisticated, even progressive in structure, droning and much less metal / heavy than, say, Weakling. Similar - but also fairly heavy - qualities can be found in:
Fell Voices - Tour CDr, split with Ash Borer
I enjoy the newly emerged, so-called "Cascadian black metal" deal; bands like Wolves in the Throne Room, Skagos, Fauna, Ash Borer, and Fell Voices, the last of which I consider hottest, hands-down. Fell Voices pull off the whole ritualistic black metal approach with enthralling fury, jamming long, hypnotic, untitled tracks averaging at about 20min each, circular riffs flowing so goddamn well that I find myself utterly engaged, inevitably attentive to the sound, stoically accepting its waves like some cliff existentially caught up between the shore and the sea. Ash Borer could be called a similar band, but they’re more about riff progressions, and much less hypnotic. I’ve gotta admit that most of my enjoyment might stem from the beastly, raw drumming, really, but also the whole aesthetic of nature, and the symbolism, that is, non-symbolism in not giving your songs any names - the circle of life (and death) is what’s up, and these bands deliver a concrete fuck you to all those symbolic satans and similar fellas.
Panopticon - ...On the Subject of Mortality
If the whole black metal + post-rock deal can be done right, Lundr's definitely onto something with his professedly anarchist, vaguely propagandist black metal solo project (I'm lost on the effectiveness consider the subtlety of some lyrics, such as "There is no God! There is no God!" but this doesn't really feel like the place to discuss such things). Two full-lengths and a couple of splits in, Panopticon still sounds fresh, raw and underproduced in all the right ways when it comes to this sort of music, melodious, punk as fuck black metal reminiscing of the long gone Suicide Nation (Arizona), with fairly obvious 21st century influences found in instrumental, epically drawn-out bands like Mono.
Flourishing - A Momentary Sense of the Immediate World EP [posted]
I like the album title a whole lot - could it be said that it defines what might be called a stark contrast of present day, civilized perception, as in: man's animalistic ability to sense the world all at once, as what is, rather than what it was, what it could, should, or might be, as hindered by interpretation in symbols, letters, language, art (sound familiar? perhaps the notions also pertain to the one man project above). Flourishing consists of the classic three man band set up, pretty tight and flowing. I've heard their death metal being described as under the influence of Discordance Axis, even, but I seriously don't know what that's all about - A Momentary Sense of the Immediate World is like Lykathea Aflame's Elvenfris pulled to the more established, darker side of death metal, so here's to the frequent namedropping of Immolation & Gorguts.
Agalloch - Marrow of the Spirit
I tried. I couldn't. I still find Agalloch boring and who gives a shit? It is how it is despite Aesop, their driving drummer (also the mother + father of Cosmic Hearse, the blog), who also drums for:
Ludicra - The Tenant
Bringing girl power to black metal with the ease of a butterfly's flight (not talking about hawk moths and similar winged beasts), Ludicra kicks ass all the same. Shit, if a band can sound upbeat and black metal at the same time, they probably kick ass and/or have a very capable drummer, but a great part of the deal-sealing is owed to Shanaman's (and Cather's) bewitching screeching. Watch live for added effect.
/hardbone, uh, badcore, erm, hardcore? - - - - - - -
[hard to the core, bad to the bone, said george
thorogood. p.s. he also said: "I drink alone"]
Kerouac - Cold and Distant, Not Loving EP [posted]
With a bandname like that, you better play some damn good bebop. Well, Kerouac’s a bit too heavy for such jazz, but I still like them. I’ll use this opportunity in order to take a dump into the genre pool; in an age where metalcore means utter shit like As I Lay Dying and Bring Me the Horizon (wait, the second one’s deathcore? no way! I insist that it’s less annoying stuff, e.g. Despised Icon), I’m supposed to call Converge "chaotic hardcore", but I'd rather not, 'cause I don't comprehend strictly set time signatures as chaotic. So hey, I say that Kerouac is a metalcore band, and this better assume hardcore as integral. We create, we render useless all these tags, symbols, that pertain purely to a current scene, but it's got jackshit to do with the music. Yet I gave Kerouac a listen specifically because of a symbol - their name - and I didn't regret it. Young and angry, and pretty fast considering how heavy. Pretty nice!
Bastions - Island Living EP
After hearing Kerouac, I decided to delve deeper into the whole modern UK hardcore deal, and I found Bastions, mid-tempo stuff with boring breakdowns behind an implication of passion. You can symbolize emotion as much as you want to, but that still won’t make it any more meaningful or "real" than the sweet feeling of taking a dump, but hey, it’s certainly the sort of aesthetic that’s currently popular. Of course, I might be wrong, but this whole blog deal makes me feel like I’m talking to myself, anyway.
Kvelertak - S/T
All in all, one of the most overrated records to come out in 2010, but still pretty solid, rockin' hardcore from Frozen Hell Norway with somewhat of a penchant for employment of vaguely black metal-esque tremolo leads. For fans of: Motörhead, AC/DC, and that silly new Darkthrone shit. Samo rokanje, rođaci.
Torch Runner - Locust Swarm
You see what happens, Larry, when you smash grind and sludge together so hard as to maximally dilute any of their standalone elements. Owing largely to the full-blown, heavy yet heavily grease-reverberated sound, Torch Runner crushes everything within their indefinite radius of explosion (called "splash damage" in regard to effect) as pedantically as a few planets colliding. There’s nothing old here - it’s a totally new destruction, a flower of predominantly hardcore, and that’s why: 1. I like it so, 2. it’s not in the sludge department further down.
Dillinger Escape Plan - Option Paralysis
Meh. I do feel weird thinking about how this is the band that released their first, awesome EP, Under the Running Boards, some twelve years ago, warranting the infamous debut full-length just a year later. But DEP, at the end of the day, you can take your choruses and shove them.
Daughters - S/T
What the Daughters seem to have lost in speed, they made up in other, fairly deranged areas. Including a fat, heavy sound, at that. Sure, I like it, but I’d be a liar if I said that I don’t miss the NOISE. Everybody knows that the Daughters became something like a weird post-hardcore band with a double bass-pedal, some sort of twisted, disgusting Fugazi with shit synths, somewhat appreciative of the Jesus... Lizard, so if I have to be nice, I’ll just call this one a logical (‘cause "natural" seems like the completely wrong word in all such instances) progression and...
/punk as fuck - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[noise and banjos!]
凛として時雨 - Still a Sigure Virgin?
...or Rin Toshite Shigure (and also Ling Tosite Sigure, but I don’t like that one) is a Japanese trio playing - vaguely - post-hardcore so energetically that I was tempted to put them in with the grind bands. So I don’t really know who to recommend this sort of thing to, but it’s got dual sex vocals and I just have to note the super-high-pitched adult male yelling courtesy of Toru Kitajima, a lot of things that the ear will gladly catch, and an adorable dose Engrish (e.g. the opener, "I Was Music").
AIDS Wolf - March to the Sea
Reviewing whatever is perceived as noise seems like a fairly hollow act no matter how sophisticated its creation might be. At best, one could attempt to describe it as accurately and objectively as possible, but I’m not much into that, or the drawing of a specific line between noise and music. It’s AIDS Wolf! You could call these sounds riffs, this yelling singing, etc., but hey, you either enjoy their spastic, beat-based music, or you don’t.
Pale Robin - Birth Rites Versus
Mars and C.P.N. make up for the lack of new (the two being members of) Blackbird Raum material in 2010 with a separate folk project. Compared to the downright punk approach of Raum (in accordance to their mad, joyous, hedonistic notions), Pale Robin displays rhythmically much simpler, minimalistic, perhaps more traditional folk songs; a bit melancholic, romantic, but in the end just as life-happy as the first band (see proof in songs like "Legs of Lead"). Geoff rides a pale horse!
Jimi Hendrix - Valleys of Neptune
There might be something creepy in posthumously released records (for example, are they all "death metal" by default or something, at least in the case of metal?), but I’d have no problem loving this stuff if zombie Hendrix somehow kept his level of his playing (of course, along with zombie Mitchell and zombie Redding) post-resurrection. That’s just fact, son.
/not punk as fuck - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[not even metal]
Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope Into the Sky
Swans still sound like Swans. I hear the band’s an ace thing to see live, so that’s what I’m gonna try to do in May or so. What’s the music like? Atmospherically encapsulating riffs and sounds, general weirdness, set to an almost militaristic beat, coupled with Gira’s old school, somewhat apathetic sort of singing that Curtis did better. Anyhow, I like it very much, but I’m much too into other things to judge in a more practical manner, and I certainly didn’t expect a title to replace White Light From the Mouth of Infinity. Speaking of which, Gang of Four’s "Content" came out about a week ago and it’s shit.
The Unwinding Hours - S/T
Naturally, the Aereogramme fan demographic is most susceptible to getting kicks out of The Unwinding Hours’ debut full-length, and that’s alright. Although I miss the downright unnerving aggression that Aereogramme sometimes employed, the album is heavy on absolutely sweet, noisily symphonic outbursts that might be considered a natural progression of the former band. Cute stuff.
Deftones - Diamond Eyes
Apparently an excellently produced album equals an excellent album.