To review this album, I have decided this should be interactive with audience participation. Here’s what you need to do:
Fetch pen, paper and ruler. Draw a grid 5 x 5 leaving you squares big enough to write in.
Now fill the 25 boxes with a variety of your favourite rock, pop and metal acts. Purchase the album Laser Flames on the Big News by the Tennessee band of the same name which was out on Wood and Stone Productions on June 30th, 2017, and cross off the bands in your grid as and when you hear them on this record.
Press play and join John Judkins of Rwake and Stephanie Bailey as they play vocal blows off each other whilst the band scot around a number of genres, sub-genres and classic standards.
Cassette collectors and tape heads rejoice!! Folkvangr Records is releasing of the cassette version of Inexorable Grimness by USBM band Gravespawn on August 25th 2017 as a limited edition solid black cassette with white ink and hand-numbered, plus double sided 4-panel sleeve in a crystal clear case.
Although this album was released late 2016, it is seeing a cassette release this August, and it is my first time listening in. Opening with a Mortiis style depressing dungeon dirge, the rest of the band soon kick in with fierce and fast black metal and gargling with gravel vocals.
Toxik are not only reviving the old school thrash sound, but they are the living and breathing originals from way back when. Originally thrashing in from the mid 80s they rubbed shoulders with all the great and the good contemporaries from the east coast to the west, from doom pioneers Candlemass to the technical teachers Dream Theater, but then called it a day in 92. Spin forward 20 years and they are back and August sees the release of this EP. And mentioning Dream Theater earlier makes me think this is a very technical thrash sound, its tight and clean with Anthrax style vocals, which isn’t a surprise as they are a NYC based band. Opening track of this three-piece EP ‘Stand Up’ is the weaker of the three in my opinion, but the sentiment of throwing off the shackles of modern world slavery, in its widest sense, is a very ‘Thrash’ topic, and one that is very current in deed.
‘Breaking Class’ is riddled with an exciting race between drums and guitars to see who is gonna get to the end first! This tune resonates some DRI elements especially its midway breakdown! The guitar picking after this shakedown is ultra-fast, but in my opinion closing track ‘Psyop’ is the strongest, a wee intro, then multi-layered guitar emulating a call and response in some ways, before setting the pace for a mosh fest of a tune! This has variety, riffs, guitar leads that sometimes take me by surprise – still showing off their technical clout, Toxik have banged their fist on the table and will leave their mark with this self-released EP. Well worth exploring if you are new to this thrash renaissance.
When I opened this Dead is Dead album I returned it to the mail room, as it has ‘Post’ written all over it. (pauses for audience response….)
Solid blocks ten foot by ten foot, by ten foot drop on me from a tall height and squash me with their sound. In my mind it is post-metal, post-rock, post-post. This is well planned and deftly executed in its understatement. In reality, its not how heavy this album is, it’s actually how heavy it isn’t, if you get my drift. This power trio could have easily released the brakes and run full throttle over anything they had conceived musically. Yet, by holding themselves back, I get to actually hear the album, the music, and the gaps, so that when they rack it up a gear, it really hits home and makes a statement.
I am pleasantly surprised by how much I like this. I think Void Ritual are a one-man outfit producing black metal, and there are many of these kinda outfits out there, and sometimes I listen and feel it doesn’t work, however on ‘Heretical Wisdom’ I hear a maturity and musicianship that is worthy of your time and money. ‘The Flood’ starts us off in an expected frenetic way, yet it is ‘Breathing Ice’ that really piques my attention as it slows down its rhythm to that beautiful Bathory-esque momentum and my head cannot but worship with a meditative nod.
This is the first full album release by Dan and his Void Ritual moniker who probably don’t need much of an introduction in these pages. After an EP and a split EP this album is seeing a full CD release on Throats Productions and cassette via Tridroid Records in August 2017, so proper backing and exposure! The instruments are all equally used and balanced throughout, so the drums get a bit of an expose on ‘Heretical Wisdom’ title track bringing them forward from purely a beat keeper, ‘Frozen Altar’ includes a very slight keyboard presence, but handled in a subtle way as to not overpower the track.
When we think of classic or hard rock groups, we tend to attach them to specific eras. This is true with Guns N’ Roses even though the band rose to prominence toward the tail end of its genre’s heyday. Even so, 1987’s Appetite For Destruction still stands as one of the most impressive and enduring hard rock albums of all time. Even casual fans recognize tunes like “Welcome To The Jungle” and “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” GNR made its mark on the 1980s, and that’s how we’re used to thinking of them.
But the members of GNR have also done more than most of their peers to stay relevant in the modern era of music. Yes, their music is mostly associated with the past, but that hasn’t stopped these musicians from trying some decidedly modern tricks to retain the interest of fans (and maybe even rope in some newer, younger ones).
Weird Scenes inside the Goldmine
I have partaken of weird activities whilst attending festivals… punk bingo at Scumfest, wild man life drawing at Supersonic, and this weekend I was part of The Hat Speaks, a passive part I hasten to add, as this is an activity whereby the musician’s names are drawn randomly from a hat (I drew one or two names) and they then create an improvised experimental jazz jam for ten minutes to open the festival for the day.
I think this is something that we could embrace farther afield from the iprov experimental jazz scene. How about seeing stoner sludge bands jam it out and go with a vibe, or modernist black metal musicians riding off each other creating merry hell…?
For any older UK readers, you may remember the TV cartoon voiced by the irrepressible Kenneth Williams. Well you can forget that for starters. Nekrokraft deliver frightening fast blackened thrash. The guitar is raw and black, although the rhythms are thrashtastic. The tempo changes are as smooth as a Vaselined otter as it breaks down in to slower moshfest parts, then ups the ante and the deathly growls return to the screaming howls of vocalist Angst.
Title track even has an angular progressive death style opening, and levels blast beats with fast guitar, which stands apart from the rest of the album’s feel. And ‘Worship’ gets right down and dirty, although they hail from Sweden, they have a far more Germanic feel to their vibe and strikes out with excellent power chord riffing
Slow black metal – an oxymoron? Well not in Suicide Forest’s case. Depressive, leaving that hollow yearning feeling, US black metallers Suicide Forest, which are another one-man band outfit, have created a beautiful piece of dark melancholy. Spread across 8 tracks the listener is reminded of how futile life is, track 4 sums it up with ‘A Sobering Reflection’ ..good grief, and this is being released in July 2017, when the northern hemisphere is enjoying summer, and I’ll be hanging ten on my board, evenings spent chillaxing round a campfire on the beach…. No wait… I think I shall close the curtains and indulge in DSBM and await the end of the world.
Dungeon sounds, lasting, lilting slow guitar riffs, seething vocal noises and gentle piano pieces and keyboard interludes are used to create this menacing, gloomy atmosphere. And to cement this dark feeling the album is released on black cassette, ‘non more black’ as Spinal Tap might say, limited to 100 hand numbered with carefully assembled 3 panel sleeve.