Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Minóy – Celebration of the Sunrise

1987 • self-released

Somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of the lost '80s underground lies Minóy, whom I know nothing about, except that he (she? they?) made a handful of obscure tapes of experimental music. This one, Celebration of the Sunrise, is a decent but ultimately disappointing representation of their work.

This particular tape harbors a collection of musique concrète, drones, electronics, and found sounds, all mashed up together in a long droning fever dream. It sounds like being lost in a huge '70s-era data computing center stationed underwater—echoing synth glitches and voice samples come from all sides while low scrapings and pulses drone on underneath. During "Celebration of the Sunrise", you're stumbling between racks of flashing lights while machines beep incessantly; then on "Nightride" you've escaped but are now trapped in a flooding radio room.

Of course, at an hour and a half with little variation to the sounds, Celebration of the Sunrise gets fatiguing quite fast. Each side of the tape is more or less the same thing for its entire forty-five minute duration, and they are each only interesting for about ten minutes. After that the music loses its novelty and becomes a bit dull.

It also means that there really isn't much to say about the album at all. It has two decent, if long, tracks, and that's it. It's disappointing because, had Minóy definitely had the potential to put together an excellent tape of shorter pieces similar to this, but it didn't happen.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cryptopsy – Cryptopsy

September 11, 2012 • Defen Society

I'll be honest, Cryptopsy has never been anywhere near my list of top death metal bands—None So Vile was alright but nothing terribly special, and I haven't heard much of their other stuff. So I don't know why I even bothered with their new, self-titled album. While not horrid (and almost certainly better than its predecessor), there's almost nothing appealing about it that would make me want to listen to it.

For death metal coming out in this decade, Cryptopsy is just about as generic as you can get. It's got all the typical elements. The drumming is interesting and nicely complex, though the obviously-triggered nature of it wears on the ears. The guitar riffing is almost random, the sort of dissonant jumping-around I've come to accept, even if I don't like it. I will give the bass plenty of credit for being interesting, though, with a nice thick sound and plenty of its own neat moments. But I cannot stand these vocals. They haven't ventured far from the deathcore sound of the last album, those pigsqueal-sort of growls that are almost embarrassing to listen to. Texturally, they make the album almost unlistenable.

Sonic qualities aside, there still isn't much going for this album. It's just a confusing mess of unrelated riffs, tacked on one after the other. While that does tend to be the nature of tech death, I have a very difficult time getting into what the band is doing here, even compared to similar stuff I've heard. The album just blows by on every listen and none of it stands out as being particularly good or memorable. It's true that really careful listening will unearth a siz able collection of satisfying bits and pieces—a few per song, perhaps. The album's relentlessness and almost complete lack of dynamics makes this fatiguing, though.

As an exercise in technical proficiency (specifically guitar skills), sure, Cryptopsy is fine. It'll satisfy the metalheads who are in it for the brutality and the double-kick drumming and the downtuned guitars. It's got all that. But for me, there's nothing worthwhile to be gleaned from this album. They haven't progressed (or reverted) from The Unspoken King as much as some people make it out to be, either, if that makes a difference. All I know is I won't be coming back to this.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sturqen – Raia

April 25, 2012 • self-released

Another random Bandcamp discovery for today: Sturqen's Raia. I've finally hit a sort-of-average release after a slew of good ones. (About time.) It shows the somewhat amateur side of Bandcamp well, though it's not terrible.

Raia is basically a noisy and bleak sort of minimal industrial music—lots of distorted and amelodic synths, noisy beats, dissonant and aggressive tones, and the like. Sort of like super-slow electronica, on LSD, in space. It's a very concrete atmosphere they have going on here, very cold, mechanical, and, again, bleak. It's an okay style, not totally appealing to me, but sometimes it's the kind of thing I'm in the mood for.

However, the tracks are mostly short and quite simple, which leads to the album's biggest problem: nothing ever really gets a chance to develop very much. Instead, most of the tracks are just a few simple loops which fade in, play for a bit, then fade out rather unceremoniously. While many of the sounds and textures are pretty neat, the fact that they just don't go anywhere makes the album a bit dull and difficult to really immerse yourself in.

So I find it really hard to recommend this. There are, again, some cool ideas, but the way they're presented doesn't really do anything for me. I can see this duo releasing some really interesting and focused material at some point (maybe they already have) but I don't think this is the one.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind

October 9, 2012 • Epitaph Records

I've been listening to Converge for a few years now, and try as I might their music has never clicked much with me (neither Jane Doe nor No Heroes). By rights they should be a band I moderately enjoy, but it just hasn't happened. All We Love We Leave Behind is more of the same; perhaps solid, but not terribly appealing to me.

Like their older albums, All We Love has the same extreme-metalcore thing going—fast, technical riffs, aggressive and complex drumming, incomprehensible screamed vocals. Converge sounds a bit more punkish this time, though, with a bit of hardcore and grind influence leaking out. It's intense music, to be sure, and it doesn't really ever let up over its forty-minute runtime, instead simply trading the metalcore for slower, doomier sludge-metal-like stuff.

I guess my beef with Converge is mostly personal as I've never really been that into the whole "chaotic hardcore" style, especially not the way Converge does it. It seems like they just can't decide what sort of music they want to play, ever, and are always switching between slow sludgy sections and fast blasting sections with no warning (or playing them at the same time, somehow). It's a weird juxtaposition that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't, and I don't think Converge can do it well. It feels like the songwriting just tends to meander pointlessly for the sake of technicality, which is a huge turn-off.

I guess it's just me, though, since this album has been extremely well-received. I guess that for the style, it's probably one of the better albums I've heard (and I've been listening to a lot of stuff like this lately) and it's definitely listenable; it's just not something I'm going to listen to much at all in the future. And that's fine. Plenty of other people will get enjoyment out of it.


Special bonus: Album stream courtesy of Epitaph!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Cristal – Apostate

July 16, 2012 • Flingco Sound System

Another Bandcamp discovery today, this time from the drone collective Cristal. I've never heard of them before, but they share a member with the relatively well-known Labradford (who I've heard of but never heard myself). While I'm usually wary of side project sorts of albums, Cristal is a pleasant surprise, albeit nothing truly interesting.

Apostate fits pretty snugly with the simple implications of the word "drone": long, slow sections of deep, foreboding drones, shimmering light noise, and the occasional creepy sampling. There's a lot of subtlety going into the textures themselves: minor perturbations in tones, small samples fading in an out, etc., the keep the album interesting throughout most of its runtime. There are a few places where it tends to drag on but I suppose in a drone context that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The album's atmosphere as a whole changes quite a bit (as hinted by the multiple movements)—sometimes it's very dark and murky, like watching a clanging submarine go by; other times it's a bit lighter and spacier. Either way, the album usually keeps on an incredibly dark mood, evoked perfectly by the cover art. It doesn't do the best job at switching contexts, though, as transitions between different pieces can be a bit jarring and break immersion. This is especially apparent halfway through the third track, going from a mostly quiet and simple tone to a loud, distorted, banging collection of noises—it's almost scary.

In the end it's not the best ambient/drone album ever, and I wouldn't put it up there with my favorites, but it does the job well and is a pretty satisfying listen. Definitely worth checking out, and it wouldn't be a bad idea to dig into their other stuff either.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Instinto – Instinto

March 12, 2012 • Hysterical Records

I found Instinto randomly browsing Bandcamp's punk section, and again I'm pleasantly surprised by my discovery. Instinto is a Spanish crust punk band—a country that I haven't heard much heavy music from ever—and they bring a very satisfying album to the table.

It's pretty typical crust, I suppose; simple three-chord riffs, D-beat drumming, harsh metal vocals. They don't really do anything special or unique with their music, but what they do do is write some really damn fun songs. They're fast and catchy, in a way that almost borders on being silly, but in an obviously entertaining way. They're not trying to be serious (at least, I hope) and the album's all the better for it.

Again, though, it's very typical music, so even at a mere 25 minutes it gets a bit stale. But still, it's a fine album, and it's free, so... what do you have to lose?


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Converge, Torche, Kvelertak, KEN Mode

October 15, 2012 • Skully's Music-Diner, Columbus, Ohio

Skully's was exactly like I expected it to be, a sleazy, dirty restaurant whose average clientele could really appreciate a Motörhead album. But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see this great lineup. It wound up being one of my favorite shows I've been to yet.

KEN Mode

The surprise of the day. I was merely lukewarm towards their recent album, but they put on a pretty stellar show. Maybe their music just inherently works better live, or something. Regardless, I was pretty impressed and it was enjoyable. Props to the bassist for sticking through cutting his finger on his strings (I assume) and getting blood all over the pickups.
7Goriest Performance Award


Not much to say about this show—if you've heard their music (and you should), their show is exactly what you'd expect. Loud and heavy punkish metal, but very energetic and loads of fun. I found interesting the fact that the band seems to be made up of five very nerdy-looking guys, with a Viking for their vocalist. An entertaining combo. Good times for sure.
8Most Impressive Fingerpicking Award


They started out a bit disappointing, as the audience didn't seem into them and mix was poor (could've been that I was standing close to the stage), but quickly turned into my favorite act of the night. It helps that Meanderthal is one of my all-time favorite albums and they played a few tracks from it. They sound a lot heavier live, and their slower and doomier pieces were especially crushing. There was a point where one guitarist was having technical issues and we had to wait at least five minutes or so while they fixed it, and the rest of the band goofed off playing solos and some faux-grindcore (not as interesting as it sounds, but it was funny).
8Best Tapping Award


I should have known what was coming with this part of the show, and my lack of preparedness ruined things. I forgot that metalcore fans (especially bands like Converge) are prone to continuous slam-dancing inside a moshpit they conveniently decided to place right in front of where I was standing. Fortunately, the decent people outnumbered the idiot asshole kids, but it's still annoying when I'm trying to watch the band. They were alright, I suppose; I've never been much of a huge fan, so there wasn't much for me to enjoy. But the kids liked it, so whatever.
5Apparently It Was Jacob Bannon's Birthday Award

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bone Dance – I Have Lived Like an Animal, but I Will Die Like an Angel

March 29, 2009 • self-released

I picked a bad album to review today. Not in the sense that the music is bad, but more in that Bone Dance is just a hard band to review. Maybe it's me, but I feel like there isn't much to be said about this style of music anymore, even if this album is pretty good.

Bone Dance plays a particularly abrasive and crushing form of metalcore, alternating between fast punk-like sections and slow sludge sections. There isn't really anything particularly unique about their sound and it's a lot like plenty of similar music I've reviewed recently, which unfortunately means I'm a bit jaded by this album and it's tough to assess it fairly. However, I'm happy to say that Bone Dance do manage to do a pretty good job at this style. They are very riff-oriented, so each song is catchy and somewhat memorable in its own way. It might be a simplistic approach, but I think it works quite well, and the album is very consistent

I guess it says something about Bone Dance that I've totally saturated myself with this sort of music in the last few months and they still make an impression on me. (Then again, it might just be coincidence; I didn't care much for this album on the first listen.) But this is more one of those albums you just have to hear yourself to have an idea of whether you think it's any good.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Airs – Gloomlights

October 31, 2011 • Music Ruins Lives

Oh no, not the dreaded double album. If I haven't made it clear before, I almost always despise rock double albums; they are almost always half-full of horrible garbage that shouldn't have been recorded in the first place. I won't say there's much I'd call garbage on Gloomlights, but it's clear that there

The band tends to genre-jump a lot on this album, and it's tough say if that's necessarily a good thing. Many of the shorter tracks lie somewhere in the shoegaze / post-punk realm, sort of like the very fuzzed-out guitars of My Bloody Valentine combined with the gloomy melodies and atmospheres of The Cure. (Admittedly I've never listened to much shoegaze in the first place, so I don't have much to compare Airs to.) The band also experiments a bit with music ranging from post-rock to stoner rock to black metal to pop-rock to drone, all with the same sort of lo-fi aesthetic.

I have to give Airs credit for managing to write so many songs in such different styles and none of them are particularly bad (except the repetitive and dull opener "Harvest Moon"), but none of them really stick out either, and the band definitely can't keep up the pace for the entire hour and forty minutes the album lasts. By the time the second disc starts up, I'm ready to call it a day. I guess that probably says more about my attention span, but still, they don't give much of a reason to stick around.

Also, this is probably just me, but I find the synthesized drums and bass guitar really distracting. Excessive reverb doesn't hide the fact that they're both quite amateur-sounding.

So I guess your enjoyment of this album hinges on how into this style you are. I'm ambivalent, so Gloomlights is listenable but definitely nothing special. Maybe others will be amazed by it, and I can understand, but not me.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Arrows in Her – Leaving.

September 9, 2012 • Glass Nail Records

I love Bandcamp more and more each day. Recently I was browsing along looking for some new emo to listen to and happened upon this tiny obscurity Arrows in Her, and have been totally blown away. They may be pretty traditional in their style, but they do it so incredibly well and I am in love with the result.

Basically, Arrows in Her straddles the gap between Snowing and American Football, or something like that—essentially indie rock with the obligatory strained and passionate vocals, beautifully sad melodies, and a slight punk aesthetic mixed with post-rock-like bridges. All the good stuff I like in emo. It's catchy, incredibly tense, chock full of one amazing riff after another, and cathartic as any other music like it.

The interesting thing is that there isn't a gimmick or anything that would make them immediately unique; they are just really good at songwriting. Leaving is one of the most consistent EPs I've heard quality-wise. Not a single one of the songs is bad, and each one has something about it—a particular hook or interlude or what have you—that makes it stand out. It's tough to even pick a favorite as each one is just as memorable as the rest (okay, fine, it's "Being and Nothingness").

I'm gonna stop gushing now, but really, this is practically flawless for a more or less brand-new band. I don't know how they did it, but their debut is just hitting all the right notes for me. I only hope they keep up the momentum if they put out some more material; in the meantime, I'm keeping Leaving on repeat.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Jarguna – Waiting for a Call from the Unknown

June 9, 2012 • Earth Mantra Netlabel

I'm always a bit skeptical of any album I find that was released on archive.org with a press release slathered in hokey New Age mysticism; such albums tend to be not very good, to put it politely. However, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with Jarguna's Waiting for a Call from the Unknown; it's a surprisingly good slab of ambient.

At nearly two hours, it's a pretty big time commitment, but fortunately Jarguna avoids the common trap of filling the time with dull repetition and the album is surprisingly diverse. Yes, it's all the same sort of spacey ambient, but it runs the spectrum from quiet, low, enigmatic drones in the first track to dissonant, almost scary ambient chimes in the second, to Echospace-esque minimal techno in the third track to glittery, spacey drones in the fourth. (And I really like Echospace, so it's already doing something right.) It's really nice to hear that kind of diversity in a long ambient album like this.

And Jarguna does a good job at each of these textures. The ambience and spacey drones are really quite good—sometimes ominous, sometimes pleasant and optimistic. Despite seeming like simple ambient, to me it seems that it was very meticulously composed with a lot of thought going into the compositions. The drones change constantly, keeping a sense of movement and fluidity through the album, and are accompanied by lots of little sound effects, glitches, and other instruments that drift in and out. It's a nice departure from the one-note drones you get on a lot of similar albums.

I might even go as far to say that the album isn't too long. Normally I get frustrated with LPs that go over an hour or so, but for some reason Waiting for a Call manages to fill the time very wisely. Nothing really feels like it drags on too much or gets too repetitive or boring.

It's really quite impressive, and the album gets better with each listen as well. Maybe I should do some more digging around the Internet Archive. There are apparently hidden gems to be found, for sure.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Three Trapped Tigers – EP2

August 17, 2009 • Blood & Biscuits

This band was hyped on Rate Your Music so briefly that I almost missed them. I'm glad they managed not to fly under my radar, because they're pretty dang good, with a really unique and interesting sound.

Three Trapped Tigers create a sort of post-rock / math rock fusion, like a collaboration between Battles, Holy Fuck, and 65daysofstatic. Fast, stuttery keyboards and clean guitars take the forefront while some aggressive polyrhythmic drumming holds it all together. The electronic element in the music is huge, with some almost chiptune-like voices that sound like some video game soundtracks I've heard, but it's still all definitely in a rock context—a bit weird, but it works so well.

I guess it's the overall sense of rhythm in these songs that makes it so damn catchy, so easy to get into a groove with and just kind of ride it straight through to the finish. It all sounds very focused, and even through four relatively short tracks you still see a lot of fantastic things. Not an EP to be missed.


Amputee – Amputee

2010 • self-released

It takes a lot to excite me with grindcore these days; sometimes I feel like the genre is too constrained to have much really groundbreaking happen with it. Aputee is a relatively new grindcore band (as this demo came out in 2010), and they're pretty good, though you'll have a hard time telling it from grind that's twenty years old.

Amputee takes after some of the classic death metal-influenced bands like Agathocles or newer Napalm Death, with typical blasting merged with some slower punk/thrash parts. They can get very satisfyingly heavy, and their songwriting is pretty impressive; despite the songs' naturally short lengths they cram quite a bit into each one while still keeping a structured feel.

Although Amputee definitely improves on the classic deathgrind formula, as of yet they haven't created a very unique sound to differentiate themselves from the hundreds of similar bands. Hopefully they've changed a bit since then.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Ash Borer – Cold of Ages

August 2012 • Profound Lore Records

Maybe I'm becoming fatigued of black metal (say it isn't so!) but there has been almost nothing I've heard lately that I really liked. I want to enjoy these albums I've been listening to but everything has been feeling so dull. Ash Borer isn't doing much to help the trend. Cold of Ages is passable and sounds nice, but why am I still sometimes bored to tears?

Their sound is pretty typical of the so-called Cascadian black metal scene (the Pacific United States area): a very etheral sound, done with lots of reverb, a somewhat muddy guitar sound, and some synth strings. Standard stuff, really, although one thing that stands out that I like in particular is that the bass is unusually high in the mix during the non-blasting sections; it's not particularly flash but it's nice to hear it for once. The drumming is also really excellent on this album, technically precise with lots of good fills.

Also coming with the territory is the tendency to write very long songs, something that I've never really felt worked well with most black metal bands. Usually you get either overly-repetitive songs, bashing away at the same tremolo riffs and blastbeats for what seems like hours, or the songs are very disjointed as they try to stick different pieces together regardless of how well they actually fit. Ash Borer's approach is a little bit of both; "Convict All Flesh" has about three sections in its 18-minute runtime that drag on and on to the point of fatigue (to be fair, the last section does do a good job up building up toward the track's climax, but the beginning and the middle do nothing for me). On the other hand, "Phantoms" tends to jump around a lot to the point where it's hard to follow what's going on. In both cases, nothing all that memorable happens.

Unfortunately, like a lot of atmospheric black metal I've heard lately, Ash Borer is going through the motions but their music isn't really doing anything all that is very exciting or original. Sure, it's a fine example of what atmospheric black metal sounds like, but I'd be hard-pressed to think of a reason to recommend it to anyone. I guess black metal this year wasn't as good as I though. Well, back to Curse, I guess.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto – Vrioon

December 2002 • Raster-Noton

I don't know if Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto deliberately set out to combine two sorts of music that are as much of polar opposites as they did, and I still haven't decided if it works or not. But there's still something vaguely intriguing here. Vrioon is ambient music stripped down almost to the basics—soft, slow, airy piano, accompanied by quiet yet harsh and rigid glitches and electronics. Combined, it's a strange experience.

While the piano parts are quite nice, the electronics can be grating (especially with headphones, and especially on "Noon"), making listening to Vrioon both pleasing and discomforting at the same time. It's like spinning some Satie while connecting to dial-up. Sometimes it works, like the spaced-out and peaceful "Trioon I" and "II", and sometimes it doesn't, like the motonous and annoying "Noon". There are also some parts where there is seemingly no structure, like "Uoon II", which is just a cascade of random piano notes without the electronics, or "Trioon II"'s droning style. Yet the album's glacial pace makes it difficult to even notice much diversity.

All that aside, it's still an alright album. It has its hits and misses (notably, tracks 1, 5, and 6 being the better), but overall it's pretty unique as far as ambient goes. Maybe it's my personal preference for the more complex and lush arrangement of Stars of the Lid or Eno, etc., but I can live with this as well.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Caspa & Rusko – Fabriclive.37

December 2007 • Fabric

As dismissive of dubstep as a lot of people are (especially the more annoying "brostep" stuff), I've been trying to keep an open mind with the genre. There's bound to be some decent brostep somewhere, right? I've already heard a Rusko album which wasn't bad, and Fabric is known for putting out some pretty high-quality mixes regardless of style; this particular one isn't too bad itself, though it sometimes has its head up its ass.

The beginning and end of the mix, in particular, is where most of the juicy good bits are. It's some pretty abnormal stuff for dubstep with house-like beats and some really neat sampling, such as the East Asian style in "Cockney Violin" or the reggae style of "Round the Way Girls". The mix closes out in a similar fashion with some almost ambient tracks (at least, compared to the ones before them) that are less experimental but still pretty pleasant.

The problem, of course, lies in the middle of the mix, and unfortunately the majority. There are quite a few obnoxious tracks that don't do anything for me at all, like "Terminator" or "V" or "The Drop" (one of the most annoying beats I've ever heard in my life), that are basically a simple drum beat and very grating "wub-wub" distorted bass. Caspa's material, especially, is dull; Rusko and the guest producers generally mix it up a little more but everyone gets their fair share of wubbing.

I guess since this mix is what basically started the whole brostep thing, it's understandable that is sounds very simple and primitive, but that doesn't really excuse it for being somewhat dull and sometimes hard to listen to. It would have been nice to hear them stick to the more light and sample-based stuff; I can only take the wubs for so long before my head starts to hurt. Technically, it's not bad, though, and if you can stomach some dirty bass then this is worth a listen. Otherwise, stick to tracks 1–5 and 26–29 only.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!

October 15, 2012 • Constellation Records

I promised myself that I was going to exercise some self-control and hold off on overlistening to and reviewing the new Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Of course I can't do it. They've been one of my favorite bands for a long time now, and the release of 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! is one of the most exciting things to happen in music this year for me. I have it on preorder, naturally, but I couldn't help checking out the leaks and I gotta say, it's all very exciting.

Technically, there really isn't that much new on this album; Godspeed has been performing "Mladic" and "We Drift Like Worried Fire" live for almost ten years now, but it's great to hear them finally get the studio treatment. I've hardly heard the old versions much myself, so they sound pretty fresh to me regardless. It's standard Godspeed fare, really—lots of tense buildups, slow and somewhat meandering song structures, and plenty of that stark, depressive beauty. Nothing's really changed much there, and I don't see that as a bad thing, since they sound as fantastic as they always have, with the great violin and glockenspiel arrangements giving them that orchestral sound that fits their songs so well.

Sonically, this album is a step in the right direction for the band; I had always been a bit disappointed by Yanqui U.X.O.'s straightforward and almost generic sound, but 'Allelujah! brings back somewhat those droney textures and found-sound bits that made their first two albums so interesting. Instrumentally, I don't think Godspeed has ever sounded this heavy, particularly on "Mladic"; there's lots of squelching feedback, extra distorted guitars, and almost krautrock-like pounding percussion—not that those things weren't present before, but they're definitely dialed up here (or it feels like it). Even the two drone pieces are denser and darker than usual; the aggressive noise and those screeching violins give them a very eerie and effective mood. Contrast that to the uplifting, almost joyous, tone of the beginning of "We Drift Like Worried Fire". It's a real ride.

I am slightly disappointed that the album feels a bit short, and not (just) in the "I-want-more" way, but having only two songs and two interludes makes it feel a bit more like Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada than anything, like the album's missing something—like another song, I suppose. It doesn't help that those drone tracks both feel like they're over just when they've started. Hopefully this all means they're saving up some new material for something else for the future (not that I'm holding my breath or anything).

'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! may not be anything terribly original and it certainly doesn't push any post-rock boundaries and whatnot. But it's still great to hear something new from the band that crafted my favorite album of all time, that they're still the masters of the genre, and that maybe they're going to stick around a bit longer. I certainly hope so, anyway.


No preview today. Instead, here's a fun fact: The term "Printemps érable" is a reference to the 2012 Quebec student protests. Fitting, I guess.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sun of Nothing – The Guilt of Feeling Alive

December 1, 2010 • CTS Productions

I don't know why I do this to myself. There's only so much you can say after reviewing a hundred of the same old sludge albums. Yet, somehow, I still keep doing it, even when I know I won't get much pleasure out of it.

And it really says something about an album when, after six listens, it still doesn't do anything that sticks with you. Each of those six listens has seemed fresh to me, because I can never remember a single thing they do on this whole album. Maybe it's a testament to the sheer amount of this sort of stuff I've been listening to lately, or a sign of my dwindling attention span, or maybe The Guilt of Feeling Alive just isn't very good.

I think the main problem is that the writing is just so incredibly bland, as the songs are essentially the same one or two riffs repeated over and over. That's not always inherently a bad thing; after all, it's what Isis did, and they're still one of my all-time favorite bands. But the songs here don't really do anything to evolve or build up or go anywhere; they're just a boring flat slab of music. Isis managed to take one riff and sculpt it over time and keep it interesting; Sun of Nothing doesn't really do that. There are exceptions, of course; the ending of "Drowned Out" is particularly good, with a very tense 5/8 riff building up over the last half of the song. But the majority of it is tough to listen to.

Aside from that, things sound decent, at least technically. The bass guitar does have a really nice, gritty sound that makes it stick out well. There's not much to say otherwise, except those vocals don't really fit at all. They sound like they'd go better on a black metal demo.

I dunno, maybe I'm just grumpy today, but listening to this album didn't really give me any enjoyment. Really, it's an alright album, but something about it just doesn't sit well with me. Why did something like Islands click and this didn't? It's the mystery and magic of music, I guess.