Monday, 21 August 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Wild Rocket - "Dissociation Mechanics"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 07/07/2017
Label: Art for Blind


Their debut "Geomagnetic Hallucinations," earned a reputation for its immersive music and brainy, intriguing lyrical themes. With their follow up they give you that again, and more. Make no mistake this group is a high-quality original that stands on its own. The stupendous "Into The Black Hole" is a true testament to that.

“Dissociation Mechanics” CD//DD//LP track listing

1. Caught In Triangle Again
2. Infinite Reconnaissance Imager
3. Into The Black Hole
4. The Future Echoes
5. The Edges Of Reality

The Review:

Defunct noise rock visionary band Sonic Youth experienced much popularity over its near 30-year career, including the commercially successful albums "Goo", "Dirty" and "Daydream Nation." Hardcore fans point to a recording like 1985's "Bad Moon Rising" to be the birth of what would be the definitive Sonic Youth sound: sheets of avant garde influences, rambunctious guitars and off-the-wall effects that were a fertile bed for Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon's irascible songsmithing.

In listening to psychedelic punk crew Wild Rocket. One cannot escape an ambience that feels very much like the most animated version of Sonic Youth circa "Bad Moon Rising" and possibly "Daydream Nation." In the case of the Dublin, Ireland outfit's sophomore recording, the emphasis on noise punk, like Sonic Youth, belies a uniquely crafty selection of music.

On the opener "Caught In Triangle Again" the tenor of the past is evident. You can almost lean back and picture what Moore would do with this, it is such a faithful interpretation. Make no mistake though, because the group is a high-quality original that stands on its own. The stupendous "Into The Black Hole" is a true testament to that.

When Wild Rocket released their debut, "Geomagnetic Hallucinations," in 2014, it earned a reputation for its immersive music and brainy, intriguing lyrical themes. In their return, the quartet of punk, doom, noise and rock tested performers give you that again, and more. With "Dissociation Mechanics" – an SY-style christening if ever there was one, by the way – that blend is all out on beautiful, chaotic display.

Wild Rocket's return is centered musically around several concepts, including the sea and deep space, as metaphors for cultural and global destruction. Effects laden vocals convey the depressive mood and the churning rhythm section, not to mention Jon Kelly's synthesizer work, make those stories feel like they're closing in on you. The listener has such a tempo on tracks like "The Future Holds" – steady, thick and swirling it is, among others.

"Dissociation Mechanics" is available here:



Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Sunday, 20 August 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: River Black - "River Black"

By: Mark Tremblay

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 17/07/2017
Label: Season of Mist


River Black’s self-titled release picks up right where Burnt by the Sun’s “Heart of Darkness” left off, the riffs and instrumentation are crushing, as well as vocalist Mike Olender being the best he has ever been, For anyone who enjoys Metal and hardcore at its finest will find this record to be of their choosing.


“River Black” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Jaws
2. Honor
3. Low
4. Shipwreck
5. River Black
6. South x South
7. Boat
8. Move
9. #Victim
10. Haunt
11. Sink
12. Everywhere
The Review:

River Black’s self-titled release picks up right where Burnt by the Sun’s “Heart of Darkness” left off in ways that are both impressive and terrifying. The positives are that the riffs and instrumentation are crushing, as well as vocalist Mike Olender being the best he has ever been. The terrifying element is that the lyrical continuity between “Heart of Darkness” and “River Black” indicates the human condition has only grown worse in the band’s absence. Fans of Burnt by the Sun will not only welcome this new record, but also be blown away by the progression of River Black’s sound.  

The album gets off to a pummelling start from the get-go with “Jaws” and “Low” are riff-oriented tracks very reminiscent of the “Soundtrack to the Personal Evolution” era of Burnt by the Sun. The album takes a turn in the middle with the self titled track and “South x South”. These songs show a more matured band exercising restraint and understanding the best qualities of their sound. It is the little things that make such an impact; particularly with the double kick pattern and the string arrangements on “South x South”, you see the growth still capable within this band. As mentioned previously, Mike Olender’s vocals are nothing short of spectacular. With “River Black”, the listener really gets the sense of a man who has had many life experiences between his studio albums. Particularly with songs like “Haunt” and “#Victim”, you get the sense Mike is not only a seasoned lyricist, but has completely mastered his craft as a metal vocalist.

For anyone who enjoys Metal and hardcore at its finest will find this record to be of their choosing.


“River Black” is available here


Band info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: End Christian – "Energy & Strength"

By: Mark Ambrose

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 18/08/2017
Label: Translation Loss Records


“Energy & Strength” CD//DD track listing

1. Froze Red
2. Traverse
3. Preacher
4. Delivered in Shame
5. Ballinger
6. 8 Hour Job
7. Quiet Nights
8. A Relaxing Time
9. Ore Da Barbarian
10. Oscillate Forms
11. Call About Trix


The Review

 “This is a message of energy and strength!”  Among the wispy, heavily processed, often indiscernible vocals and lyrics of End Christian’s full-length debut, this mantra serves as a thesis statement for a collective that continuously shifts between genres and emotions.  Comprised of members of Fad Nauseam (Dreadful), Hex Inverter (McKenna), Starkweather (Rosa), and Brutal Truth (Hoak), End Christian eschews the “heaviest lineup/heaviest sound” posturing that damns most supergroups.  Instead, “Energy & Strength” embraces their retro pop, shoegaze, and techno obsessions – which have recently garnered crossover success for artists like Perturbator, Gost, and Youth Code within the heavy music scenes.  Despite these analogies, however, End Christian’s debut doesn’t coast on nostalgia, but manages to be a rewarding, challenging work of experimental music.

               
Opener “Froze Red” is a blissed out slice of dream pop that would fit alongside any entry into the classic 4AD catalogue – whispery goth vocals, swelling synth chords, just the right amount of rhythm to slow dance with your pale companion or all by yourself.  If they continued in this vein, “Energy & Strength” would be a serviceable foray into pop for at least an EP.  But instead “Traverse” turns on the darkness, locking around a doom and gloom bass line that recalls NIN’s “Ghost” recordings.  “Preacher” goes full ambient mode, while “Delivered in Shame” is a buzzing piece of electronic hardcore and retro drumpad beats, while a Vocoder makes the whole thing twist into a track like Giorgio Moroder on downers.

By the end of the record, I was mostly recalling seminal compilations like “No New York,” that captured a brief era in the morphing post-punk and art rock scenes of the late 70s using just four artists – disparate but collaborative, bound by aesthetic similarities but not yet distilled into any formula for success.  This borderless experimentation can be taxing, as the relentlessly loose “Quiet Nights” verges on excess, while the frenetic avant jazz weirdness of “A Relaxing Time” is as “no wave” as it gets.    And yet there is undeniable positivity that flows through the record, balancing the darkness creeping at the edges.  The Vangelis-meets-dub beauty of “Oscillate Forms”; the slightly askew string lines of Ballinger; the repeated reminders that “This is a message of energy and strength!” – are just a few of the beautiful moments that propel End Christian’s debut through any rough spots.  I, for one, hope they continue to challenge, experiment, and confound expectations.

“Energy & Strength” is available here




Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Friday, 18 August 2017

RIFF REWIND (18/08/2013): Secrets Of The Sky - "To Sail Black Waters"


Three of the band’s six members each contributing with multiple instruments, SECRETS OF THE SKY projects a unique brand of cinematic, cerebral, atmospheric metal with a heavy persuasion towards doom metal and even more blackened influences citing The Ocean, Opeth, Isis, Agalloch and others.

The debut album from this new by this sadly missed act, “To Sail Black Waters”, was recorded over an eight month period with engineer/producer Juan Urteaga (Testament, Machine Head, Cattle Decapitation) at Trident Studios, the massive album boasting SECRETS OF THE SKY’s entirely modern and unique back-bending of elements from a multitude of genres. With up to three guitar tracks, two and three keyboards at a time and a multitude of vocal styles — clean and epic lines against hollow and blackened battle cries and crushing, low-end growls — the band creates huge build-ups and epic movements as expansive as the cosmos.


Today we’re rewinding back 4 years, with our original review of a review of SECRETS OF THE SKY’s phenomenal debut “To Sail Black Waters”, So if you overlooked this band/album, be sure to remedy your error by checking out our review and the record is streaming in full below


By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 8/10/2013
Label: Kolony Records






If you are looking for a record that is a little different with elements of multiple sub-genres, give this album a try. Truly accomplished stuff and, yes, mesmerisingly bleak.


“To Sail Black Waters” CD//DD track listing :

1. Winter
2. Decline
3. Sunrise
4. Black Water

The Review:

Epic progressive doom with blackened influences and aspects. So what do you get for your money. You get four tracks- the shortest of which is (7.43) long. This Oakland CA six piece know what to do with the time; each track is expansive, multi-faceted and will hold your interest. It's bleak stuff, which does not sound very Californian. Then again, I suspect much of Oakland isn't exactly how you might imagine/want California to be.

Winter” comes in over the nine minute mark with a suitably icy sound. Screamed and low vocals trade off while the guitars range from melodic and mellow to positively feral. The production is pleasingly clear and bright- but still raw and grimy enough as to be appropriate.

Decline” is mesmerising in its bleakness (that kind of sums the whole record, to be fair). It continues and indeed expands on the opener. Clean vocals add a Gothic aspect (think Type O, not The Cure) that is unique and welcome. Keyboards add another layer to the sound as the guitars weave together expertly. This is brilliant stuff. The pace is slow but fluid and the generous 12 minute plus length of the track allows you to really get into this most unusual of sounds. The final 3 minutes plus are even heavier than what goes before and features an excellent riff prior to the track breaking down.

Sunrise” starts with a lumbering doom riff (backed with an interesting keyboard counterpoint) and thereafter dynamics are used effectively with some truly unpleasant vocals too. Again, there is a definite gothic influence here (to my ears, anyway) and I like it. The opening riff gets returned too; this is not just progressive “throw anything in” writing- the tracks work as pieces of music and structured songs.

Black Waters” at (11.22) closes the album is impressively expansive style. The intro builds things very nicely as the crystal clear drums crash in with a well worked groove that the bass propels along until the vocals come to the fore. Real heaviness follows with those black metal-esque vocals ripping out of the speakers. The track then twists and turns its way along numerous pathways before stripping away towards the end.

If you are looking for a record that is a little different with elements of multiple sub-genres, give this album a try. Truly accomplished stuff and, yes, mesmerisingly bleak.



Band info: facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Atriarch - "Dead As Truth"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 11/08/2017
Label: Relapse Records


There is so much to enjoy about the new Atriarch release. You have heavier cuts like "Dead" and "Devolver" to mix among the more pensive songs. The songwriting is superior. And, best of all, you have a talented group back for a release that is sure to remind you why you enjoyed its brutal sound when they debuted.


“Dead As Truth” CD//DD//LP track listing

1. Inferno
2. Dead
3. Devolver
4. Void
5. Repent
6. Hopeless

The Review:

Atriarch are one of those bands that cuts across a ton of subgenres. For many outfits, that can go lots of ways, for better or worse. There are more than a few examples of times this does not work. Too many metal performers trying to be too much to too many people, and it can be exasperating. Similarly, in this Portland-based group, you can hear hard rock, gothic, post-punk, black metal and doom, but it is altogether better than all that sounds.

On their fourth full-length recording, "Dead As Truth," Atriarch does so famously because its members build upon a series of well-received releases with a sound that, for all it is advertised as, does the core parts so remarkably.

Atriarch bills itself as classic death rock, but there is a good chance you will hear tinges of old-school death metal here. From haunting singing to touches of dirge and, in truth, a lot of heavy, sludgy guitar, you will catch the screams of some of death metal's originators in Atriarch's blast. Instead of the screeching, indecipherable C-list material you can find anywhere, though, Atriarch paints some ghastly images without the nonsensical bombast. "Dead As Truth" continues the growth of the group's sound and, in many ways, makes it far more intimidating because it is more cerebral than most.

Fans of the band's past recordings may believe this new package sounds toned down compared to past collections. Such an observation is largely true, but rather than chill, this one feels like a more sophisticated entry. The restraint you hear from the opener, "Inferno," to the closer, "Hopeless," is used to support savage storytelling. "Void" taps a similar lyrical delivery, until it unleashes the full bore of anguish on the listener.

There is so much to enjoy about the new Atriarch release. You have heavier cuts like "Dead" and "Devolver" to mix among the more pensive songs. The songwriting is superior. And, best of all, you have a talented group back for a release that is sure to remind you why you enjoyed its brutal sound when they debuted.


"Dead As Truth" is available here


Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Thursday, 17 August 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Timeworn - "Venomous High"

By: Charlie Butler

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 02/06/2017
Label: Fysisk Format


Some of the most engaging moments on “Venomous High” come when Timeworn move slightly away from their core sound.  “All Chiefs” finds the band at their most unhinged as they unleash an arsenal of spidery math-metal riffs with breakneck rock’n’roll abandon. Anyone missing Swiss behemoths Kruger will find a lot to enjoy in this killer track. “Venomous High” is a fine offering from Timeworn that takes an array of well-worn modern metal influences and blows them up on a grand scale.

“Venomous High” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Measure of Gold
2). All Chiefs
3). The Trail
4). Black Peak Blues
5). The Infectious Gloom
6). Ur Syntax
7). Night of Owls
8). Traitors to the Crown
9). Venomous High

The Review:

Timeworn’s new LP “Venomous High” is a slab of burly Mastodon-style complex sludge injected with a shot of post-rock grandeur. The albums production is perfectly pitched to capture the Oslo quintet’s strengths – smooth and polished enough to distil their rich melodic side but nasty enough to harness their weighty crunch. Opener “Measure of Gold” display all of these elements over seven epic minutes and provides a strong foundation for the bands sonic explorations over the rest of the album. “The Trail” provides a welcome moment of calm in the form of a brief piano-led instrumental that acts as an extended introduction to the hulking “Black Peak Blues”. The slowest and heaviest track on the record, it is both crushing and darkly melancholic

Some of the most engaging moments on “Venomous High” come when Timeworn move slightly away from their core sound.  “All Chiefs” finds the band at their most unhinged as they unleash an arsenal of spidery math-metal riffs with breakneck rock’n’roll abandon. Anyone missing Swiss behemoths Kruger will find a lot to enjoy in this killer track. The band bring some no nonsense stoner rock attitude to “The Infectious Gloom”, particularly in the infectious refrain that carries a little bit of Clutch’s swagger.

“Venomous High” is a fine offering from Timeworn that takes an array of well-worn modern metal influences and blows them up on a grand scale. It is a record that could have a wide appeal while remaining true to its underground roots.


“Venomous High” is available here



Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Extremity - "Extremely Fucking Dead"

By: Ernesto Aguilar

Album Type: Full length
Date Released: 07/04/2017
Label: 20 Buck Spin



In this first release by the group, you have what sounds like an incredibly promising start. The playing is top-shelf vicious. Carpet bombed in a death metal growl, the songs are forceful in delivery and unyielding in lyrics.

"Extremely Fucking Dead" CD//CS//DD//LP track listing:

1. Intro (Mortuus est Valde)
2. Crepuscular Crescend
3. Bestial Destiny
4. Chalice of Pus
5. Fatal Immortality
6. Extremely Fucking Dead

The Review:

Yelp is truly eBay for reviews. You can discover the most random stuff assessed by a less-than-forgiving public. There, you can even find a list of the best San Francisco bars that play death metal. Yes, it is a real list and is a testament to how much the Bay Area, for all its contradictions, tourists and big red hop-on-and-off buses, loves extreme music.

Beyond that, Northern California has been an epicenter of sorts for metal for going on 30 years or more. With the debut of the Oakland-based Extremity, you have a group that is reflective of such history. This is not the first band for its members by any stretch.

From Agalloch to Vastum, Cretin to Necrosic, among others, the experience that makes up Extremity is sure to prompt attention. Impressive acts, no doubt. In this first release by the group, you have what sounds like an incredibly promising start. The playing is top-shelf vicious. Carpet bombed in a death metal growl, the songs are forceful in delivery and unyielding in lyrics. Herein tracks like "Bestial Destiny" are impressive, with traces of grind undercutting a faithful death blueprint. Throughout the debut, there is ample space for all-star drummer Aesop Dekker, who counts Ludicra and Worm Ouroboros among his work, to ballast the carnage.

What makes Extremity such a fascinating addition to death metal, beyond its collective resumes and membership, is its potential. For instance, its similarity to Scolex, bassist Erika Osterhout’s other death/doom project, is glancing at best. As such, Extremity melds some of the exceptional qualities of what its members bring. Osterhout’s contributions on songs like "Chalice of Pus" are as you might expect, searing. In fact, the whole team has it’s A-game on for all six tracks.

If you love the style, Extremity does it in a fashion you’re sure to enjoy. Haters might call it a touch of playing it safe. A longer listen reveals how complex the songs really are. "Extremely Fucking Dead" isn’t the 99-cent-bin death metal, because its collaborators are far from it. Together, the group hints that their best is yet to come.

"Extremely Fucking Dead" is available here


Band info: facebook