Friday, April 24, 2015

Wino & Conny Ochs: Freedom Conspiracy (2015)

The legendary Wino has been working with German guitarist/singer Conny Ochs for a while now. It started out a little shaky, as they didn’t seem to know how to use their very different voices in a coherent way. It seemed like the only thing tying them together was a similar vision and perhaps friendship, not complementary qualities. But now, on their third collaboration, they’ve really got this thing figured out.

Freedom Conspiracy is just the kind of dark Americana, singer-songwriter material you’d expect if the album cover is a black-and-white drawing of a guillotine, arranged so that you are looking at it from the same angle as its victim. Now, lay your head down right there, above the basket, and listen.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Domovoyd: Domovoyd (2015)

The last time I mentioned Finland’s Domovoyd (based on their 2011 EP), I said they were basically Electric Wizard knockoffs. Today, there’s no way I can say that.

Domovoyd has come up alongside Oranssi Pazuzu in forming a small revolution in Finnish psychedelic metal. In both cases, the elements are familiar, but blended in a new way. But where Oranssi Pazuzu started with black metal, Domovoyd started with doom. And you might be thinking, well, doom and psychedelia aren’t exactly strangers. But I think you haven’t heard anything quite like this.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Goatloard: Demo '87 / Reh. '88 and Sodomize the Goat (1988)

Caprine Rectal Copulation

It's amazing just how many completely unknown bands have been lost to history, only to be exhumed by those dedicated to revealing these lost treasures. Of course, some of them should have stayed buried. Which one is Goatlord?

First, I've gotta say how much I enjoy the crudely-drawn album art for these two records. They look like they were sketched during third-period social studies class by the eighth grade boy that none of the girls want to talk to. But I don't think that dude's sodomizing that goat, as the title suggests. Based on the angle it looks more like he's performing the more traditional form of beastiality.

I think by now you should know whether you want to read the rest of this review. Ask yourself: Are you the kind of person who wants to listen to an album with a crudely-drawn image of beastiality on the cover? (If you're reading my blog, I assume your answer is "yes.")

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dark Wave Briefs

"Full Metal" . . . right . . .

It seems these days I'm circling further and further afield of metal or even anything remotely associated with it.

In wrapping my head around the brilliant work of Chelsea Wolfe, I've begun listening to an iTunes Radio station based on her. It is one of the most remarkably eclectic stations I've ever heard, playing Nails as well as some clearly hipster-oriented dreck. But one thread that I've enjoyed out of it is the dark, synth-based stuff. If you've been paying any attention to this blog over the years, you would have noticed by now that I love the dark synth elements of the likes of Killing Joke and Theatre of Tragedy. So this, one more departure from metal, should not surprise you. I'm using the term "dark wave" because I've seen it in reference to bands like this, although I couldn't tell you how accurate that label is in any given case.

Austra: Feel It Break (2011)
4 out of 5 stars


My wife told me she had heard one of the songs by Austra somewhere, and she only partakes of the most mainstream of media. I figure it was either on an Apple commercial or a movie soundtrack somewhere. So maybe I lose all credibility by mentioning this, but I really enjoy it. Other genre names attached to this include synthpop and dreampop, so take that for what it's worth. A few of the songs have a brighter sound, but even at its brightest there's an undercurrent of darkness. And the "heavier" synth parts on tracks like "Darken Her Horse" and "The Beat and the Pulse" are pure joy for me. "The Villain" or "The Noise" could be Chelsea Wolfe tracks, although you won't find any guitars here. The female vocalist also employs a vaguely folksy style, akin in a way to many female-fronted doom bands.



Thursday, April 09, 2015

Black Pussy: Magic Mustache (2015)

Hipster Mustaches Are Categorically Not Magical

Reportedly, this band’s name is taken from the original title of the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar.” I’ll forgive them for that. As terrible as I think the Stones have always been, I still think ridiculously offensive names like this are great. I think it gives you a sense of their personality, too. And if that doesn’t seem like a positive thing to you, then I’m not sure you and I have much to discuss about music.

So a couple of years ago I finally decided to check out Hawkwind. That was Lemmy’s previous band, if you’re not familiar, and they play a style of trance-inducing weirdness known as space rock. If you don’t know them, check out “Magnu.” Shit’s killer. Black Pussy take that as their starting point, as the opening synths should tell you.

Xibalba: Tierra y Libertad (2015)

I reviewed Xibalba’s last album a few years ago. Since then, they have gone from a hardcore sound almost completely into death metal, and it’s a glorious thing. Dan Seagrave’s art once again graces the cover, so you should have some idea of what to expect.

This is brutally heavy, and the guitars have this sort of scraping quality to them. The way most of it lumbers forward at a slower pace, then flashes forward at high speed, it’s like a ragtag mechanized militia of the post-apocalyptic near-future. The most feared army in the world of Mad Max. Or some shit like that.

Monday, April 06, 2015

The Decibel Magazine Tour 2015

April 4 at the Bourbon Theatre, Lincoln, Nebraska


I bought my ticket to the Decibel Magazine Tour about three minutes after they went on sale, and that is not exaggeration. I don't really care about Converge, and Vallenfyre I could take or leave, but At the Gates? This is the band who released arguably the best metal album of the 90's. Yeah, I was excited. When Pallbearer was added to the bill, that anticipation built even more.

So last night I attended.





The rest of the people there were exactly the kind of people you expect to see at a legit death metal show, save for one hipster chick. There were more Mercyful Fate shirts than metalcore or tech-death shirts, as far as I could tell. Unfortunately, they didn't manage to pack the house. If I had to guess, I'd say there were close to 800 people at the Amon Amarth show back in November, but maybe only 300 for this one. That's too bad, because it doesn't bode well for future tour prospects. To be fair, it was the night before Easter, and church is usually pretty early on Easter--but I don't know how much difference that makes to this crowd.

Anyway, the relatively small number of people ensured that I could stake out a spot just behind the rail, five feet from center stage, for almost the entire night. My calves are sore from holding my ground during the At the Gates set, but it was worth it.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Converge: Jane Doe (2001)

Converge's Jane Doe has been sitting on my "I want to check it out some day" list for several years. Basically since I found out how well-regarded it is by Decibel. Well, since they're on the Decibel Magazine Tour this year, and I'll be seeing that tour tomorrow, I thought it was finally time to familiarize myself.

I don't listen to a lot of hardcore, but my first thought on hearing this was that it sounded a little like the Dillinger Escape Plan. And some of those weird guitar leads early in the record sound similar to stuff System of a Down was doing around the same time period, only this is more batshit insane. So, not bad to start.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Acid King: Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere (2015)

Time for the quarterly female-fronted doom album! I’ve reviewed so many of these by now, I have nothing left to say about the combination of feminine vocals and slow, meaty riffs.

Specifically, Acid King play stoner doom. It’s slow, mellow, and repetitive. Sometimes trance-inducing, sometimes weird echo effects, but always with a general feeling of psychedelia. The vocals aren’t anything special in this case. She doesn’t have a smoky, sultry voice, or some kind of ethereal, ghostly presence. Her tone is earthy, and mostly ordinary, but still good.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Doldrums

Sorry I've been away from the blog for so long. You don't want to hear me drone on about taking care of sick kids (again--this has been the worst year for that) or about how I had an ear infection myself. I don't want to review an album when I've been listening to it with slightly askew hearing. But everyone is recovered for the time being. So let's get to it.

As you probably know, this time of year is the doldrums for metal releases. All the great stuff is rushed out to make year-end lists, and now we're left with the rest. Which isn't to say nothing great comes out between January and mid-March, but those are rare gems indeed. Nothing so far has made me stand up and take notice, but there are two worth mentioning.

Leviathan's Scar Sighted is good. Unfortunately I haven't listened to anything of Wrest's in the past, so I can't put it in context for you in that way. It's a decent slab of modern USBM with healthy doses of dissonance. It sounds like the work of an interesting musician going through his own doldrums. As entertaining as it was for me, I can't say it's anything special. The Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars.



Much more intriguing, however, is Volahn's Aq'ab'al is so weird it almost defies description. It's kind of like Krallice, with the multitude of high notes played and the epic sweep of each song. But with more direction. And raw. It has the feeling of really creative underground artists who are never going to get the attention they deserve, and maybe they don't even seek it. Apparently the music is based on some obscure yadda-yadda-yadda, but all I care about is that it sounds weird and great, and--despite that weirdness--is memorable. The Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars