Thursday, November 18, 2010

Metal Briefs: Japan, Part 2

My very first installment of the Metal Briefs series was on Japan, and I thought it was about time to re-visit that source of strange metal. I didn't plan it this way, but all three of them are sludgy.

Boris: Akuma No Uta (2003)

Akuma No Uta Boris is a highly experimental band which has covered a lot of territory in its nearly two decade career. 2003's Akuma No Uta is considered to be a microcosm of their work to that point. It starts out with the 9 minute drone of "Intro", then moves into fast stoner rock for a couple tracks before the 12 minute bass-focused blues of "Naki Kyoku", and then finishes on two excellent sludge metal tracks. This isn't a very focused release, and most of it probably can't be considered metal. But somehow it all seems to fit together and it's enjoyable, bottom-heavy music centered around a stoner rock/metal feel. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Church of Misery: Houses of the Unholy (2009)

Houses of the Unholy Church of Misery is a stoner/sludge band with lyrics about famous murderers. There's nothing dark or evil sounding about the music--it's groovy, heavy, sludgy, fun, and dare I say funkadelic--and that makes the dark lyrical content all the more interesting. Hey, Louis Armstrong did the same thing with "Mack the Knife" all the way back in 1956, and it's just perfect for metal. Each song covers a different famous person, like child rapist/cannibal Albert Fish (the head-bobbing fun of "The Gray Man") or blood-drinking Richard Chase (the slow "Blood Sucking Freak"). My favorites are about spree killers instead of serial killers: "Shotgun Boogie", a fast one about James Oliver Huberty, and "Badlands", the groovy one about hometown favorites Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate (a perfectly nice old lady I've had the pleasure of meeting). I give this album 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Corrupted: El Mundo Frio (2005)

El Mundo Frio Corrupted are cited as pioneers of sludge/doom, but you could easily make the case for them as a post-doom band. In a country where image is often more important than music (even moreso than in America), Corrupted are extremely anti-image (they've never had promo photos taken) and anti-mainstream (they've never done an interview,often prefer splits and vinyl, and often do lyrics in Spanish instead of Japanese or English). On top of that, they tend to make full lengths with only one track on them. El Mundo Frio ("The Cold World") has a single track of 71 minutes, 39 seconds (for convenience, I split it into five files in my library). It has long sections of quiet, clean melodies (sometimes with harp), as well as ultra heavy sludge/almost-funeral doom, with spoken word and death growl vocals here and there. It's a daunting listen, and the long quiet sections at the beginning and the end seem superfluous (it could have been about 50-55 minutes), but the middle is excellent. The mood fits the title perfectly, and I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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