Summon The Juices –  A G E N T (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Advance releases should act as a teaser, a sonic signpost to a forth-coming bigger release, a taste of things to come. And on the face of it that is exactly what Stop Talking was in regards to this album as it landed in the review pile only a few days previous. But it is a curious record, a teaser certainly but its dichotomous nature, an opening minute of aggressive punk-metal that their Bay Area home patch has traded on since the early eighties, followed by a longer payout formed of drifting guitar lines and restrained vocals left many questions unanswered too. What it did tell me though was to expect an onslaught of raw-edged, punk infused, hard and heavy music that blended simple progressions and direct sonic salvos with technical guitar work, but to also expect the unexpected, the odd musical trick or trap to throw me off balance. And for all the  strangeness of Stop Talking, it did its job perfectly as that is exactly what I got.

Continue reading “Summon The Juices –  A G E N T (reviewed by Dave Franklin)”

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Dio-Genetic  – Devarien (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Wandering between modern post-hardcore intensity and occasionally more considered nu-metal inspired grooves, Dio-Genetic is a four song collection from Devarien an Alaskan based artist who creates his sound by bringing much more than just the usual rock and metal threads into his work. He also shoots those intriguing sounds through with lyrics that have something to say, reflecting the bigger issues that our world faces, kicking right off with the religious measuring contest that the politics of religion has become in the modern age. My God also shows his penchant for neat samples as well as bass lines that tip their hats to bands such as Faith No More and their funky metal grooves.

Continue reading “Dio-Genetic  – Devarien (reviewed by Dave Franklin)”

Resist Lies –  Noise Therapy (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

maxresdefaultHonesty is the best policy so I’m gonna come right out and address the elephant in the room that is the stumbling block of Noise Therapy’s sound right away. There is a major discrepancy in terms of delivery and production between the quality of the vocals and the instruments playing behind it. Okay, this is metal, it comes with a certain brutality, rawness and passion but when it comes to the vocal execution you can’t help  but be distracted by it to the point where you fail to appreciate the music that it is paired with. I know not everyone is aiming to have a career in music, maybe this is just for fun but even on those terms I think it is a problem that they need to address.

But with that out of the way I can get on with talking about its selling points, I do prefer to champion a cause rather than poke a critical finger so let’s do that now. Even from the titles you can see that Noise Therapy have something to say, references to freedom of speech, anarchy, change and general statements about dissatisfaction prepare you for a lyrical onslaught that chimes so in tune with the issues of the day.

Devil’s Advocate follows a grunge inspired route, all muted, low end visceral riffs and Atom Bomb laces some dexterous textures through a symphonic metal landscape but for the most part the songs are based around a harder edged post-hardcore but one referencing a classic metal sound. Defend Freedom of Speech is Iron Maiden reimagined for a new generation and No More Platforms For Idiots is straight out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal template.

If they could bring the vocal skills and production up to the level of the music, mix it in effectively rather than sit it on top then they would really have something here, I guess that they are on a budget to make this but with such a great job done with the music it seems that for a bit of extra money and effort they could really get this over the line. They have a lot of poignant things to say, they just need to find a better way of delivering it. 

Musically you could argue that they are not necessarily bring much new to the table but that’s okay with me. Sometimes it is enough just to re-invent the wheel especially if the wheel in question allows you to open up the throttle and take a white-knuckle joyride through the side streets and alleyways of the history of rock and metal before unashamedly heading down the highway to follow in the tyre marks of previous iconic musical suicide machines. Or something…I’m not great with analogy.

Treacherous – In Silent Agony (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

tumblr_ohzmz6jv8o1rll5k4o1_500I sometimes struggle with music in such an extreme end of the market, a lot of it doesn’t speak to me on a very personal level, that isn’t a problem, not everyone can be the target audience. But then I heard Our Darkest Shadows, a song that sits both comfortably within the sound that In Silent Agony make but also seems to explain to me the scope and potential of the music much better than any of the other songs.

There is a depth, drama and dark theatrical script at work here, a mad combination of Wagner, Jim Steinman, Fields of The Nephilim and Anne Rice; a metal opera for a dystopian world and once I had that key to the music I found I could unlock and appreciate what was going on around this central song.

Approaching the rest of the EP with this new understanding I also realised that a second obstacle had been dealt with. Most of the music I have encountered in recent years that falls into such genres – thrash, metalcore, death metal – has been….now, let me be delicate…not very well conceived, all  front and bravado and  shown up by a record such as this. Part of the accessibility of Treacherous is the production, separation of sounds, the layering and textures, especially those that wash emotively behind those visceral riffs, textures that help build tension and sculpt otherworldly atmospheres.

Existing fans of metal in all its forms will find a lot to like, the gothic set will appreciate its dark soundscapes and the more industrial minded will find its clinical beauty and cold apocalyptic foreboding to their tastes. But if like me you have been away from the extreme metal trenches for a while and are looking for a way back in, this is the perfect place to start. Okay chaps, over the top we go….

New Music of The Day: LXXXVIII – More to Life – Jack The Envious

13902_668224699940361_1103929578905245205_nFirst new music video recommendation of the year and I thought that we should kick in with something brash, boisterous, riotous and raucous, you know, really kick some arse and cut the mustard, clear away the cobwebs and other cliches and alliterations. Jack The Envious are an alt rock/post hardcore band from Israel who combine  aggression and dexterous riffing with driven back beats and a slightly desolate, world weary feeling.

This is the first single from their forthcoming album Pull You Down and will go a long way to ingratiate them to the contemporary rock and metal crowd.

Showing just how over the whole music tribalism and genre-wars we are, I should also draw your attention to their excellent cover of Gorillaz Feel Good Inc, it’s enough to give Damon Albarn a bit of a fright…and that has to be a good thing , right?

 

Top 10 Motorhead Songs

With the sad news of the passing of Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister, it seems only appropriate that we look at his wonderful back catalogue of the music he made with Motorhead, the band that he will forever be best remembered for. The bands key elements were consistency and simplicity. Rock and metal are notorious for its factions and sub genres but Motorhead managed to cut through that and right from the off you were guaranteed their trademark whiskey-soaked growl over thunderous back beats, trash-rock riffing and everything turned up to maximum.

10. Motorhead (from Motorhead 1977)

MotorheadAlbumThis song acts as the bands birth certificate, mission statement and raison d’être all wrapped up in three chord aggression and razor wire vocals. As a proclamation it declares who the band are and what they are all about and even though like all bands they experimented with style and content along the way, this eponymous outing pretty much set up the template for what was to follow.

9. Hellraiser ( from March or Die 1992)

HellraiserWritten with Ozzy Osborne and Zakk Wilde for Ozzy’s No More Tears album, Motorhead re-recorded this for the film Hellraiser III and then featured it on the album March or Die. Possibly the band at their more commercial end of operations but somehow they still manage to wander into these more mainstream areas without compromising their core sound. There is a slight whiff of 80’s glam metal about it but only if that band had been locked in a basement for three months to exist only on brimstone and raiser blades. Even when treading more obvious territory they were still the baddest kids on the block.

8. (We Are) The Road Crew (from Ace of Spades 1980)

AceThe perfect tribute to the hedonism of life on the road in a rock and roll band (Lemmy always said that Motorhead were just a rock and roll band, forget labels and genres.) Bluesy riffs pushed to their  illogical conclusions, a righteous clatter of biblical proportions and something that should be in the user manual for anyone who has desires to be in a touring band.

7. Iron Fist ( from Iron Fist 1982)

IronFistThe perfect example of the simple genius of Motorhead, out punching punk, out rocking rock, heavier than metal, faster than the speed of dark, it is the perfect hybrid of everything that rock and roll is about in the modern era and now one managed to capture it quite like Motorhead. Not only is it big but it is a lot cleverer than you think.

6. Built For Speed (from Orgasmatron 1986)

OrgasHard, heavy and uncompromising, that is the Motorhead way and Built For Speed has all of those in Spades..geddit? It’s a tough, streetwise homage to speed both literal and chemical something alluded to in the bands name.

 

5. Born To Raise Hell (from Airheads: Soundtrack 1994)

BornToRaiseHellIncluded here as much for the sentiment and lyrical content as much for the song itself. This was written for the Airheads soundtrack which Lemmy had a cameo role in and features rapper Ice – T and Ugly Kid Joe’s Whitfield Crane. It takes the band down a more AC/DC vibe, nothing wrong with that and as a statement of intent I’m sure it was the song that the angels were playing on the day that Lemmy came into the world.

4. Orgasmatron ( from Orgasmatron 1986)

OrgasProving that it isn’t always all about speed, Orgasmatron is the roomiest, sludgiest of Motorhead songs and contains a surprising political message rather than the sexual one suggested by the title. Again it shows the band as innovators of new musical ideas and a wave of doom, metal bands were spawned in the wake of this claustrophobic masterpiece.

 

3.  Overkill (from Overkill 1979)

OverkillQuintessential Motorhead from start to finish, fast, driven, grungey , dirty, dangerous and constructed out of riffs built from rusting metal and acid baths, oil spills and land mines. It is everything you want from the band and even though lesser bands such as Metallic have sort to increase their own stock by covering it, no-one can come close to this amazing sound.

2. Killed By Death (from No Remorse 1984)

KilledThis is about as dark and twisted, gnarly and vicious as it gets, it’s also a furious onslaught of primal rock and roll, but that sort of goes without saying if you have read this far. Killer riffs both from guitars and the bass-rhythm guitar style that Lemmy adopted (playing chords on a bass? whatever next?)

 

  1. Ace of Spades (from Ace of Spades 1980)

AceSongThere can only be one song at the top spot, the one that became their anthem, their most popular song with the masses and an instantly recognisable musical calling card, a classic by any definition. Again it is a punk-metal hybrid, fast licks and dirty production, it is built on punch and power, shock and awe and the perfect way to round off this run dow,

Bad Jack & Other Stories – Nasty Little Lonely (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

a0890737114_2My review pile is a wonderfully chaotic place, a real juxtaposition of styles that tumble at random from the “to do” list onto the stereo for further consideration. So after a morning of trying to find new ways of making melancholic and pastoral singer song-writers minor key creations sound like more than the sum of their ponderous parts, it was with a squeal of delight that I greeted the latest Nasty Little Lonely e.p. that had finally made its way to the top.

Nasty Little Lonely are an awesome live experience and thankfully a lot of the energy and attitude that they bring to the stage is evident in this four-track collection. To experience their music is to meander between hard and jagged genres, cold metallic industrial noise and dark gothic, reverb drenched, post punk grit. The often affected vocals add to the demonic-dream dimension that the band seem to spring from, sounding more like a band that Clive Barker had imagined than a collection of actual human musicians. And surprisingly enough for all the extreme musical measures resorted to when creating this unique sound; they still end up with something rather, well, tuneful.

If a slice of howling, squalling, insane and possessed industrial noise is the sort of thing that floats your boat, if warped horror soundtracks and spikey, uncomfortable musical salvos are your thing, then Nasty Little Lonely are your very own one-stop shop of horrors.

Growth, Decay, Transformation e.p. – Sleep Inertia. (reviewed by Ed Dyer)

Growth, Decay, Transformation Artwork 3This is the long anticipated début release from the remains of the band who were once The Dead Lay Waiting. With the change of personnel they have ditched the cartoon Goth overtones and considerably hardened up their sound, taking it into a more grown-up realm. But, my distrust of things super-heavy and grunty is well documented, so I approach records like this with plenty of caution.

Indeed, the vocals do sound rather Wookie-like much of the time. I know there are lyrics, I recognised many of them, but I swear some are actually “aarrragghuuhw uggguh hnnnhrrhhh”, which according to an online translator is Wookie for Sleep Inertia. However, with this record, I managed to engage with the extraordinary range of sounds lead vocalist Jamie creates, connecting to the bizarre sense and rhythm they have.

Musically, there are plenty of huge, crunching riffs, but they maintain an extraordinary melody to them. Likewise the complex rhythms and time signatures, which, like a schizophrenic serial killer toy with you mercilessly;  one minute bludgeoning you over the head with all the subtlety of a brick, then the next sneaking up behind you to slip a stiletto into your ribs.

This contradiction is the trump card for the band; whilst this is a brutal sonic assault on the senses, it is not over done. These are actual songs in a traditional sense, they go on a journey, with light and dark shades, movement and a peculiar grace, although it has to be said, this it is more ninja than ballerina.

Never did I predict I would like this and I certainly don’t understand it, but that is the beauty of music, sometimes the sounds are as eloquent as the words.

original version published in The Ocelot Magazine February 2015

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