Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Torche, Broughton's Rules, Maranatha

September 23, 2014 • Ace of Cups, Columbus, Ohio

Finally! It feels like ages since the last concert I went to (okay it was only July, but still). Back at good old Ace of Cups, where everything is always amazing.


A local band who I'd never heard of but they instantly impressed me. They are a really heavy style of sludgecore, with some brutal dropped-tuning chugging, some hardcore rhythms, and even a little bit of death metal sprinkled in here and there. Definitely one of the best examples of the genre I've witnessed so far—I won't say they quite touch Struck by Lightning (not that they're trying to), but they were still impressive enough for me to pick up their EP (which is free to download by the way). Cool dudes, cool show.

Broughton's Rules

I'd never heard of this band either, but one of the guitarists used to be in Don Caballero, so they oughta be good, right? Nah, not really. They were this kind of odd psychedelic instrumental post-metal thing, with lots of jamming on a single section with lots of dissonant noisy guitar bits and the occasional heavy riff. There is a bit of promising material buried somewhere in there, but the rocking out never lasted very long and they spent more time goofing around with the awful noise than actually playing. They weren't bad, but they definitely weren't the kind of band I'd seek out or ever listen to again.


I've already written plenty about Torche, including a live show two years ago, their last album, and various Floor stuff. So it should be no surprise that I was psyched to see them again and that I had an excellent time—they were easily better than when I saw them supporting Converge in 2012. I suppose that's partly because I've had more time to get to know Harmonicraft, so everything they played was familiar to me. But they also simply just put on a damn good show. It always warms my cold heart to see Steve Brooks dancing around in a very silly manner when starting off a song. You can tell they were all still so happy to be there and play. Absolutely worth checking out whenever they're around.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Blood of Kingu – Sun in the House of the Scorpion

May 24, 2010 • Candlelight Records

I know I'm nowhere near to scraping the bottom of the barrel on Bandcamp's black metal page, but sometimes I wonder if the selection is getting a little thin. There's always good stuff to be had, but truly innovative and creative bands seem to be getting harder to come by.

Take Blood of Kingu; they don't do a whole lot that's particularly new—they simply turn the blast-o-meter up to 11 and don't stop for forty-five minutes. Not that that's a bad thing, of course, because often that's exactly what I'm after. And they do a good job, I guess; the guitar riffs are a bit stock for black metal but they certainly get it done effectively. However, there's something to be said for a bit of dynamics—on most of my listens to this album, I got about halfway through but only thought I was maybe three songs in because so much of this music is indistinguishable.

What is a bit interesting about their sound is this weird, subtle, underlying industrial element that is mostly expressed through the totally bizarre bass sound. "Gnarled" is the best word I can think of to describe it. It gives parts of the album a very hollow and cold mechanical feeling which is kind of neat (though the novelty does wear off).

This is by no means a bad album, but I'd say it's probably not one that's really worth looking into unless you're the kind of person who is desperate for something new in the genre and don't really care much what it sounds like. It'll scratch the black metal itch, but there are so many albums out there that sound just like it that I can't really give it much of a recommendation. Again, it's not bad; it's maybe just too generic.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Remote Outposts – Sounds of the Mission

December 26, 2012 • self-released

I'm a huge fan of field recordings, and that's a kind of sound art that I don't really listen to nearly as much as I should. So I thought I'd plug this little release by punk and DIY blog Remote Outposts. It's a recording of eight blocks of Mission Street in San Francisco. I love the sounds of city life and this little jaunt is a very vibrant sample of such. Street vendors, snippets of Spanish, bits of diegetic music, kids playing in the street, and of course plenty of traffic.

I love cities and even though I live in a pretty big one myself, I don't get to actually walk around and take it in too often—and even when I do, it doesn't sound much like this. And sometimes it becomes a little game to try and guess what various sounds and vehicles are. A very interesting and relaxing recording.

Original article + download

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Shivering Window – When We Were Metal

Bridgetown Records • August 12, 2014

Time for some more weird stuff today! Shivering Window is a left-field lo-fi pop band. the sort that defies simple classification and makes it very frustrating to write about. But they do make some pretty darn interesting music.

This is mainly a cassette release, and boy is that taken seriously. I have the digital version, and it still sounds like it was dug out of someone's basement in 1989—a bit of tape hiss and AC buzzing, telephone EQs, some tracks that sound like they were ripped from ancient reel-to-reels. If you put this album alongside a bunch of actual '80s and '90s underground-lo-fi-DIY tapes, I wouldn't know the difference.

Of course, this is an entirely good thing; I think the aesthetic fits Shivering Window's music perfectly and I don't think there's a better way for the music to be presented. Strip it all out and it's a pretty basic pop album, one that probably wouldn't be too terribly interesting and technically is a bit of a mess; but with its production, the drum machines and out-of-tune instruments and silly keyboards work together surprisingly well. And there are a handful of neat little riffs in there, like the guitar line in "Sloucher".

I'd say this album is probably an acquired taste, but for anyone like me who is remotely fascinated by underground tape culture, this is a great modern representation of that. It's not perfect by any means, as it sometimes seems a little too amateur for its own good, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth a listen.