Friday, December 26, 2014

Terminus Cursus – 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6

November 26, 2014 • Bridgetown Records

More good stuff from the always-on-top Bridgetown Records today: another little-known but well-deserving band with a new EP out delivering a neat take on rock that, while not perfect, shows a lot of promise.

The EP starts off as something like minimalist psychedelic post-punk—simplistic drum patterns, wailing electric guitar, wavering warbly anguished vocals, all drenched in a thick, sopping blanket of reverberation. As the songs go by, they transform from something a bit Joy Division-esque to add a bit of Wire, and we eventually wind up in this weird land of freakout-punk before heading back to where we started, more or less. It's a weird ride and, although it's a short one at only five songs, it's still pretty interesting and Terminus Cursus shows they have a nicely diverse set of skills to show off.

On the whole, there's some of 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 I like and some I don't. They do have a really good handle on balancing the faster / punkier songs with the slower post-punk ones; at no point does the EP feel very repetitive or rehashed. (Of course, it's not very long either, so that helps.) On the other hand, their actual production style feels a bit uncomfortable—particularly the bizarre vocals, which often have the weird warbly effect on them I mentioned earlier. I guess it kind of fits the overall aesthetic and it is a pretty unique element, but I am not really a fan.

On the whole, though, I think this EP is pretty neat. At the very least, it's definitely something different which is good enough for me. Looking forward to the next output from this band.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Like Pigs on Embers – Demo 2014

Julu 23, 2014 • self-released

Another hardcore punk demo today, this one from France's Like Pigs on Embers. To be honest, I'm a bit ambivalent about it, but at the same time I'm still not a huge fan of modern crusty metallic hardcore in general, so take this review with a grain of salt.

The songs have a relatively modern-sounding hardcore punk style, with less of the pure aggravated fury and a little more introspection, with an overall slower chugging slam sound. The riffs themselves are usually of the old-school three-chord variety—simple, but they get the job done. Of course there's still intensity as it is needed, with some blasting and chaotic fast riffs, and I have to admit that these sections (such as most of "Peacefull Knight") are when the band is at its most interesting. On the other hand, this kind of variety is sorely lacking in a lot of hardcore, so I can't really complain.

So I'd say Like Pigs on Embers isn't totally unique or groundbreaking or anything like that, but they're not bad and the demo is certainly worth a listen if you're into this kind of music (at least a little bit).

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Atif X Aslam – Lund Na Khao

November 14, 2014 • self-released

I barely have time to write anything as this seventy-two-second EP blitzes by, but I think this might actually be my first time hearing a band out of Pakistan (they're from India too but that's a tiny bit more common in my experience). Admittedly, there isn't anything particularly south-Asian about this band's sound that I noticed, but it's a good sound—the sort of raw, underground, DIY punk ethos applied to some hard-hitting powerviolence. Special mention goes to the excellent drumming; it's technically impressive and does a great job of gluing up the guitar and vocals.

There's really not much to say about this band yet with just this EP, but I'd definitely be interested in some more stuff. Keep it up!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Cannabis Corpse, Mammoth Grinder, Inanimate Existence, Artillery Breath

December 18, 2014 • Ace of Cups, Columbus, Ohio

Concerts this year were sadly slim. It looks like things might pick up next year, though. Anyway I was excited to finally hit another death metal show—as I've said before, I think death metal is one of my favorite genres to watch live, if only for the sheer insanity some bands bring out on stage.

Artillery Breath

The token local opener, and pretty decent stuff to get the show started at that. They're kind of like a death-metal-oriented Kvelertak—lots of heavy grinding extreme metal with old-school high-energy hard rock riffs, with that same sort of high-energy performance and silly and fun attitude. They're not really the kind of thing I'd spin very often on my own, but they were definitely good to watch and a great opener.

Inanimate Existence

The obligatory second band playing that I'd never heard of but wound up liking the best. (Weird how often that happens.) As I soon as I saw them breaking out the seven-string guitars and warming up with some jazzy lines, I could tell it was going to be good. This band falls much more into the brutal/technical death metal side and have a much more serious stance than the other bands playing, but what they were playing was ridiculous—the kind of complicated wall-of-sound riffing where the drummer is somehow the sanest one playing. I did my best to keep up with what the guitars and bass were doing, but the complexity and fluidity was too much, as if they were just waving their fingers over the fretboards at random but still having something awesome come out. This sort of very-long-form through-composed material isn't for everyone and it can be tough to get through at a show, but in this case I don't think I ever found myself anything but engrossed. So yeah, they're good, very good, if you can stomach the wall of intensity.

Mammoth Grinder

This band was the primary reason I went to this show, as they were the only one who I'd heard before. As it turns out I don't really like them at all. I'd listened to their 2009 album some time ago and forgotten about it, and now I know why. Their particular style of modern metallic crust punk isn't really my thing at all. There are some good bits here and there, but most of their music is pretty flat and to be honest they aren't really that fun to watch, either. Oh well. If they're already your thing, it's probably worth it to check them out, but don't stress about it.

Cannabis Corpse

It's been ages since I heard any Cannibal Corpse, but if I remember them right, these guys are (musically) by far the better band. They're pretty traditional death metal with a little bit of groove metal fusion going on, and clearly with a lot of songwriting talent. On the other side of the coin, though, I'm not a stoner, and unfortunately most of their fans are, and we don't get along. I am not a real big fan of moshing, but at many shows I wind up standing right where people want to open a pit, which is usually in a prime spot for, you know, just watching. So I was forced to stand in the back where I couldn't really see, and at that point you might as well just go home and listen to it on YouTube. Usually the audience at metal shows I go to here in Columbus is pretty reasonable, but not this time. Shame, because the band themselves seemed like pretty cool guys. Oh well.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fleshworld / Gazers / Viscera/// – Split

October 14, 2014 • Unquiet Records

Reviewing promotional split albums always feels a bit weird, but sometimes the material really is good enough that I have to share it. Today's edition is three metal bands from all over Europe: Fleshworld from Poland, Gazers from France, and Viscera/// (slashes included, please) from Italy.

Fleshworld gets the split off to a great start—I'm really enjoying their tracks. Their style of sludge metal manages to be both a little atmospheric and very driving at the same time, a bit Cult-of-Luna-esque without as much grandeur. The rhythmic patterns going on here are great—the hard-hitting drum grooves are especially irresistible, and there are lots of really nice crunchy guitar lines holding it together. They occasionally launch into some more intense punkish-blastbeating, quiet clean bridges (naturally), and even a little bit of psychedelic noodling, which are all nice enough—but man am I digging the standard sludge. I haven't heard many new bands lately doing it as well as they do. I only wish the first two songs were a little longer, as the nine-minute "Rezygnacja" is, to give me a bit more to sink my teeth into.

Gazers sounds nothing like their name implies—this is some raw and harsh screamo, chaotic riffing, blasting, some slower chugging sections, the occasional breakdown, and all. Maybe it's that Fleshworld is a hard act to follow but I'm not as thrilled about this band—though they are still pretty decent. The songwriting is a bit disjointed and hard to follow at times, but they definitely have the texture and mood down well. Admittedly I've never been a huge fan of this style of post-hardcore/screamo so I'm probably not the right person to take Gazers on, but you could certainly do a lot worse.

Viscera/// brings us back around to the sludge metal side of things, but in a much different way from Fleshworld. The promo kit calls them "psychedelic" but I don't think I'd agree whatsoever; they're definitely way too clean and heavy for that (blastbeating isn't psychedelic, and flanger pedals don't automatically make you so, no matter what anyone says). But they do have nice big riffs aplenty, and bigger riffs you rarely have seen. Their style is all over the place, though—they swerve from crunching rhythmic lines to almost-black-metal tremolo blasting to upbeat stoner metal, and it's a bit weird. The poppy clean singing in "Nobody's Diary" feels wildly out of place and the band can get a bit too repetitive at times, but the majority of what they've put down here is pretty great.

In short—one split, plenty of great brutality to be had, and I'm off to see if there's any more from these bands to check out, because my interest is definitely piqued.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bastos / Pandrea – Split

September 24, 2014 • Fading Halo Records

This is a quick split single from two Romanian bands—a country I almost never hear anything from, so it's pretty neat to get a hold of this.

Bastos plays mostly-instrumental math rock that's a bit on the heavier side, like a tamer 65daysofstatic without the electronics. Pandrea is similar, but a bit more grungy-alt-rock with this odd jaunty sort of very-Eastern-European vibe going on under the hood. It's a nice pairing, although I have to say personally Bastos is the more appealing band to me—they both have their charms, though.

Without substantial vocals, there's a bit of a lacking feeling on these tracks. They're definitely off to a great start, but I think to truly come into their own there's a bit more fleshing-out to be done. I won't say adding vocals is definitely the way to go, however.

Either way, this is definitely a neat little split with two bands that are worth checking out.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

State of the Blog

You might have noticed that things have been a little slow around here lately. What was once a one-a-day thing has now been reduced to a miserable once-a-week-at-best crawl. The reason can basically be summed up in one word: podcasts. It actually started over a year ago—one site I follow started one, then another a few months later, then it just snowballed and now I have about twenty I feel like I need to keep up with. And when you listen to podcasts all day you don't really have time for music. It has gotten a little pathetic, to be honest.

Anyway. I'm trying to change all that; I've whittled down my backlog and am making a real effort to get back to music, which I usually enjoy more anyway. It helps that I've been getting quite a stream of recommendations lately—and yes, if you sent me a nice personal email I will get to your stuff! It might just be a little while still. But I have so far at least listened to everything I've received.

Thanks for sticking around!