Posts Tagged ‘epic’

7th September – Pelagic Records

Christopher Nosnibor

The absence of a question mark renders the album’s title a statement rather than a question. But there are no questions about Årabrot: 17 years and a substantial catalogue into their career, the Norwegian noise-rock act are still noisy, challenging, and kicking ass. But according to the blurb accompanying the release, ‘there is more than noise rock to Årabrot’s formula. “I’m interested in feelings, either the very silent or the extremely noisy”, band leader Kjetil Nernes comments. “I don’t care about what’s in between, the middle of the road isn’t my thing. The bible fits really well with that. I’m using it thematically all of the time.”

But mostly it’s noisy, and that’s a good thing. That said, Who Do You Love is very much an album of extremes – which is only fitting of a record that references transgressive French poet Comte de Lautréamont in its opening song, which crashes in with a heavy psych-hued riff – but the guitars are dominant and angular throughout. It’s loud, and it’s insistent. The guitars are choppy, the vocals whooping, sneery, and bathed in reverb and flange. It’s kinda punky, but equally kinda post punk, and kinda no-wave noisy.

With chunky, punky riffs carved out against solid rhythms that are by turn loping, square and stop/start, plus shouty vocals throughout the course of the album – ‘Warning’ is exemplary: Who Do You Love brings the attack in spadesful – but then again, it’s an album with textures, layers. ‘Sons and Daughters’ is a spacious country / shoegaze hybrid that’s both beautiful and captivating.

‘Pygmalion’ marks a real shift, it’s ethereal humming drones fittering like butterflies, while the sinewy ‘Simmerman’ is different again, a howling, roaring country rock stomp replete with anguished vocals that run ragged and pull Biblical anguish over devils and pain from the depths. It’s bold, theatrical, immense, but more importantly, it’s got a gut pull that’s emotionally engaging in its snarling delivery. Elsewhere ‘Look Daggers’ plunges deeper and darker still, meshing together the heavy grey nihilism and insistent throb of Killing Joke with a thicker, more metal delivery and hints of latter-day Swans in its insistent, throbbing groove that’s demolished in a roaring rage. ‘A Sacrifice’ begin with a heavy trudge, and the stop/start riffage, coupled with the blank monotone vocals – heavily treated – call to mind Foetus – before the buzzsaw riff breaks in after a couple of minutes.

Closer ‘Uniform of a Killer’ is all about the ebb and flow, the surge and fall, the climax and drop, not to mention all the drama. It again calls to mind later-day Swans, as well as pacing in hints of Bauhaus and myriad others, but compresses 15-minute builds to a minute or so, the track lasting only six and a half minutes. Never mind the length, check the density! ‘Uniform of a Killer’ certainly packs the density, and the intensity, too.

Who Do You Love is a BIG album. Not so much in duration (although it’s big enough) but in every other sense. It has depth, it has range. It has force. It has intensity, and it has tunes. Really, you couldn’t ask for more.

AA

Årabrot – Who Do You Love

Advertisements

Sacred Bones Records – 31st August 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Magus is Thou’s first full-length since 2014’s Heathen. It’s perhaps fair to say that the three EPs which preceded it – which they forewarned would be ‘a complete sonic departure from Magus and from each other’ – which effectively constituted albums in their own right – did nothing to prepare us for this.

But what exactly is this? As the album’s press blurb acknowledges, they’re ‘often lumped in with New Orleans sludge bands like Eyehategod and Crowbar, [but share] shares a more spiritual kinship with ‘90s proto-grunge bands like Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden’, while ‘the band’s aesthetic and political impulses reflect the obscure ’90s DIY hardcore punk found on labels like Ebullition, Vermiform, and Crimethinc’. All this makes them hard to place.

The album’s opener, ‘Inward’, provides just over ten full minutes of snarling fury that carries enough weight to crush weaker souls who may venture forth expecting any of the soft musicality of the Inconsolable EP (which revealed Thou to be capable of extreme gentility, and, indeed, extreme beauty).

Things turn very black and very sludgy and very heavy on ‘Transcending Dualities’; and while it’s a snarling, low-tuned mess of slow-creeping sludge, there are stray notes that break free to squeal to break the trudging oppression. Bryan Funck’s twisted vocals draw every ounce of excruciation into the mix.

‘The Changeling Prince’ brings grace and grandeur to proceedings, and the hushed intro and expansive sound of ‘Sovereign Self’ (the second of three songs to cross the ten-minute mark) calls to mind Amenra, but his is a whole other level of gnarly, demonic savagery, and the overall sonic density is suffocating.

But Magus does find Thou continue to expand and explore in all directions, and there are three shorter tracks that serve as interludes between the towering monoliths which are the songs themselves: the cacophonous racket of ‘My Brother Caliban’ contrasts sharply with ‘Divine Will’, with its ethereal female vocals and pounding tribal drums. Elsewhere, the sprawling epic that is ‘In the Kingdom of Meaning’ introduces a psychedelic twist to the doomy trudge. And there are passages of extreme delicacy, rich in evocative atmosphere, which draw the lister into quiet clearings with dappled light where an air of calm radiates before the shadows loom, the clouds gather and the next tempestuous storm breaks. Such tension-building passages and contrasts of mood and volume create a compelling dynamic and makes Magus a mighty album which requires attention and exploration of the detail.

AA

954503

Neurot Recordings – 20th October 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Mass VI may have six tracks listed, but effectively, it only has four full movements, with a brace of brief interludes breaking up the blasting, blistering intensity. And what intensity. Five years on from Mass V and Amenra have not softened their sound one iota.

The ten-minute ‘Children of the Eye’ makes for a slow-building opener: there’s a full minute of silence before a quiet, gentle intro of chiming guitars rips into a screaming vortex of noise that channels a spiral straight into the depths of a world far below the earth. The delicate, reflective mid-section offers much-needed reprieve, albeit temporarily, before the deluge of guitars bring a return to the tempestuous anguish. No doubt, the Neurosis comparisons stand as obvious, and it’s not hard to make the connection as to why Amenra have made their way to the Neurot label. But the howling, barking vocal derangement is altogether more frenzied and tortured to the point that borders on the inhuman. It’s the sound of a voice detached from the world and detached from hope, desperately screaming into a sonic vortex which swirls as an emblem for the pain that is existence.

‘Plus Pres de Troi’ brings a heavy, dolorous trudge and a sinewy, organic guitar sound. The thick guitars grate in an epic Sunn O))) -like drone. Gradually unfurling, transitioning between the aural equivalent of delicate fronds to boughs torn asunder by hurricane-force blasts.

It’s on ‘A Solitary Reign’ that Amenra really show both their depth and range. Epic doesn’t come close: yes, it’s post-rock, post-metal, and it’s raging, brutal shoegaze with an emotional dimension that’s deeply affecting in the way that only music can be. There are no words to fully articulate such resonance and the levels sound and voice can reach into the soul and affect the mind. As a reviewer, there’s a real sense of impotence when faced with something like this. It’s so much easier to write either objectively or to dissect technical issues, or to otherwise slate in the most violent terms possible something that’s inherently shit or lacking in whatever, way. But how does one articulate music that turns the innards to liquid and melts the brain? What do you say about something that leaves you feeling numb, incapable of movement, and utterly overawed? When the last thing you want to do is analyse, and instead sit back and let the experience touch every corner of your innermost being, how do you reconcile the role of fan and critic? You give yourself over to the music of course, and accept that this is bigger than you.

Mass VI is bigger than your small world, your little life. Mass VI reaches deep into the heart of the human condition through the medium of sound. The fact that the lyrics are impenetrable and inaudible for the most part only heightens the experience: it’s the language of sound which conveys so much and means everything.

The eleven-minute closer, ‘Diaken’, combines all of the elements of drone / doom / post-metal / post rock in a thunderous and sprawling behemoth of a sonic journey to create something that’s both cerebral and physical: the crushing riffs played on obliterative guitars contrast with the delicate, detailed breaks to breathtaking effect.

Despite its duration, Mass VI feels remarkably concise, largely on account of just how focused it is. There’s no waste, no packing, no flab: everything about the album is centred around distilling every sound into creating optimum power, and the result is stunning.

AAA

NR108_Amenra_cover

Montreal three-piece BIG|BRAVE  share an official video for ‘Sound’, a brand new track from their forthcoming third album, Ardor, due out September 15th via Southern Lord.  The trio also share headline tour dates in support of the album, with Jessica Moss (who features on the album) performing in support on some dates.

‘Sound’ speaks volumes regarding what’s to come in BIG|BRAVE’s next endeavor; swirling static, booming guitars, powerful drums—all the hallmarks that have made them one of experimental rock’s most exciting acts today.  With just three songs that clock in for a 40-minute-long LP, BIG|BRAVE have adopted a nearly unbearable level of urgency and intensity that weaves throughout Ardor.

Check out ‘Sound’ here (tour dates below):

TOUR DATES (SO FAR):

Sat 21/10 – UK, Brighton – Sticky´s Mike Frog**

Sun 22/10 – UK, Manchester – Star and Garter**

Mon 23/10 – UK, London – Underworld**

Tue 24/10 – FRA, Lille – Le Biplan

Wen 25/10 – FRA, Rennes – Barhic**

Thur 26/10 – FRA, Nantes – Soy Festival**

Fri 27/10 – FRA, Rouen – 3 Pieces

Tues 07/11 – FRA, Lyon – Sonic

Wed 08/11 – BE, Antwerp – Autumn Falls @ Het Bos

Thur 09/11 – NL, Utrecht – Le Guess Who?

Mon 13/11 – DE, Oldenburg – MTS

Tues 14/11 – DE, Mannheim – Kurzbar

Fri 17/11 – DE, Dresden – Scheune

**with Jessica Moss

(Further Dates to be confirmed soon)

Image result for big brave sound

Self-released – 19th May 2017 – DL/CD (limited to 100 numbered/signed)

Christopher Nosnibor

Having witnessed the evolution of Her Name is Calla since the time of the first release of ‘Condor and River’ and their tour with iLiKETRAiNS (as they were styled back then), and having seen them play live at least a dozen times over the last decade, this release comes in many ways as a pleasing reminder of why they’re still a band worthy of attention and time.

Initially – and perhaps still – out of necessity, Her Name is Calla pursued a DIY ethos, recoding their ambitiously vast music at home and in tiny, cramped spaces and self-releasing in limited, hand-made, hand-numbered runs. And having worked with labels and achieved an international following, the fact they’re keeping things in-house means they’re a band that fans can still cherish and feel as if they’re ‘theirs’. And so it may be that they’ve settled into a certain cult position as they continue to plough their own unique furrow, but the offer of a limited edition of 100 signed CD copies of this live album reflects the band’s continued commitment to their ethics, their fans, and, above all, their music, which they continue to release with or without label backing.

Live at Bishop Street Church – recorded at Leicester’s Handmade Festival this year – captures the sound of a band with an ever-shifting lineup in their current incarnation, which sees them reunited with founder member and multi-instrumentalist Thom Corah, whose bras work proved to be a distinctive feature of their early work: his trombone action on tracks like ‘A Sleeper’ (by far the most buoyant song in their repertoire) and ‘Navigator’ certainly adds to the range of the overall sound, and changes the dynamics of some of the songs considerably.

Although they’ve changed the running order of the tracks, Live at Bishop Street Church is very much an honest account of the band’s live set.

While Her Name is Calla in 2017 are a lot more geared toward quiet, achingly mournful acoustic songs than epic, angst-dripping slow-burners that build to ear-bursting crescendos, there are still no shortage of songs which hit those emotional and sonic peaks to be found scattered throughout their post-Heritage recordings and which feature in their live sets.

The nine-minute ‘The Navigator’ is one of the clear standouts, not least of all because it encapsulates Her Name is Calla in their completeness: a hushed intro, a deliberately-paced build and a rip-roaring crescendo built on a tempest of brass, strings and guitar, with rolling drums rumbling like thunder toward the climax. Then again, the thirteen-minute ‘Dreamlands’ begins with a quiet, haunting segment where Tom Morris’ vocal soars, fragile and pained, over an acoustic guitar, before – three-minutes or so in – the build begins with sonorous brass burring low-end over crashing cymbals of increasing intensity and wordless vocals.

The write-up which accompany the release explain that “‘Meridian Arc’ and ‘Pour More Oil’ are presented here as ‘additional’ tracks as the multitrack failed during the recording of those songs. These were picked up solely by a handheld stereo audio recorder.” The audio quality is certainly less than the rest of the album, but the inclusion of the two tracks in integral to the release. While a shade muffled and heavily reverby, they do, nevertheless, capture the energy of the performance, and both tracks are quite integral to the set. The former is a work of thunderous dynamics and ragged emotional outpouring, while the latter, which closes the album, has become one of the band’s signature pieces, a haunting, spiritual offering which is incredibly moving in any context. Here, stretched out to almost ten minutes, it almost redefines the term ‘haunting epic’.

As a band whose catalogue is littered with incidental and peripheral releases, Live at Bishop Street Church adds to the sprawling clutter which renders them one of those acts which are a completist’s nightmare. But this is also a well-realised document of the latest phase of a band in constant transition. And while the older material is largely overlooked, it does highlight the quality of their later work, as well as evidence the strength of their current live form.

 

 

HNIC_Live BSC

Exile On Mainstream – 21st April 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

It begins with a howl of feedback. Of course it does. The sustain continues through the opening power chords: doomy, slow, before it all comes crashing in, trudging tempo and gut-churningly downtuned.

Obelyskkh’s fourth album isn’t so much about surprises, but about continuing – and extending – the trajectory of its predecessors, albeit with a greater emphasis on groove. Not that this is an album you can dance to: it’s very much one to slow headbang to. The press release draws attention to the fact that the album’s title ‘evokes one of H. P. Lovecraft’s iconic poems, providing inspiration for the album’s lyrical content and the artwork for The Providence. Another dimension to the album is illustrated almost perfectly by French revolutionist Victor Hugo: “Above all, you can believe in Providence in either of two ways, either as thirst believes in the orange, or as the ass believes in the whip.” The band lived by this message throughout their uphill battle to complete the record.’

It’s taken them four years, and The Providence feels like four years’ anguish and slog distilled into six immense pieces. The title track, which opens the set, is twelve minutes long. It’s not pretentious, but heavy with portent: this is a vast doomscape of an album, dominated by some colossal guitar riffery, propelled by a juggernaut of a rhythm section.

Things get a bit progressive folk-metal in the middle of ‘Raving Ones,’ but when the riff hits its stride, it’s a throbbing, driving rush. Elsewhere, ‘Northern Lights’ veers toward classic, vintage horror, with a deluge of cataclysmic guitars burning a purgatorial furrow on the scale of the Grand Canyon. And just when the thick distortion threatens to burn out the eardrums, a shift toward upper frequency overload provides the punishing attack needed to complete the abominable mission. The fourteen-minute ‘NYX’ stands as the album’s centrepiece, and is a classic slab of thunderous, sludgy doom metal. Over the course of a succession of passages, it grinds its way to a punishing critical mass, with velocity consumed by density.

Clocking in at under six minutes, ‘Aeons of Iconoclasm’ feels almost throwaway in its brevity. Fear chords weave and waft almost subliminally, and it feels at first like a mere interlude, but then the gates of hell open and every screaming demon ever known tears down from the blackest of skies.

In contrast, the slow, but so, so, dense guitar overload of ‘Marzanna’ feels like a gentle wind-down, although at over nine and a half minutes of roaring thunder and groaning, droning, slowed riffage and mangled vocals that squeeze Sabbath through a Melvins filter it’s hardly some kind of loungecore fluff.

Everything about The Providence is immense. This is heavyweight, it’s doomy metal exactly the way it should be.

 

 

Obelyskkh – The Providence

Crippled Black Phoenix have revealed the second track from their forthcoming album Bronze. The UK dark progressive rockers will release their stunning new full-length on November 4th.

New track  ‘Winning A Losing Battle’ can be streamed here:

 

Justin Greaves comments: “Some songs depart from my mind into reality without consent. ‘Winning A Losing Battle’ is one of those. The track just barged itself into the world. It is also one of the musically unconventional Crippled Black Phoenix style of songs that keep appearing on our albums. The title says it all. We have been through a lot of adversity as a band in these past two years and even though it seemed that all is doomed at times – I/we never gave up or gave in. We just say ‘screw you’ to the people and forces that tried to bring us down. Crippled Black Phoenix win, and always will.”