Posts Tagged ‘Grunge’

8th November 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Salvation Jayne’s latest offering, which follows the summer release of ‘Moves that Make the Record Skip’ which got our thumbs up, marks a substantial step both forwards and upwards.

With a nagging clean guitar in the verse and a thunderous overdrive propelling the riffy chorus, all underpinned by a chunky bass, ‘Juno’ is a savvy, sassy rock tune. Chess Smith’s in fine voice, and there’s a vintage post-punk twist in the execution of the song’s grunge dynamics.

And really, what more do you need to know? It’s got guts and is as catchy as hell, and in terms of achieving everything it’s intended to, it’s pretty much impossible to fault. Did I say Salvation Jayne are a band to watch for 2018? No? I did now.

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Salvation Jayne - Juno

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3 November 2017

Christopher Nosnibor – Christopher Nosnibor

Primitive Race emerged through a collaborative release with Raymond Watts’ cult techno / industrial vehicle PIG in 2015, which was swiftly followed by an eponymous debut album. Conceived by Lords Of Acid manager / executive producer Chris Kniker, the band’s first iteration featured Graham Crabb (Pop Will Eat Itself), Erie Loch (LUXT, Blownload, Exageist), and Mark Thwaite (Peter Murphy, Tricky, Gary Numan), with a vast roll-call of guest contributors including Tommy Victor (Prong, Ministry, Danzig), Dave “Rave” Ogilvie (Skinny Puppy, Jackalope), Kourtney Klein (Combichrist, Nitzer Ebb), Mark “3KSK” Brooks (Warlock Pinchers, Foreskin 500, Night Club), Josh Bradford (RevCo, Stayte, Simple Shelter), and Andi Sex Gang. As such, they set out their stall as not so much a supergroup, but an industrial uber-collective, and Primitive Race captured that essence perfectly.

Soul Pretender marks a dramatic shift in every way. This is not an ‘industrial’ album. If anything, it’s a grunge album. That’s no criticism: it’s simply a statement of fact.

And while Primitive Race was by no means light on hooks or choruses, Soul Pretender is overtly commercial in comparison. Again, it’s no criticism, but simply a statement of fact.

It’s a common mistake made by critics to posit a negative critique based on what an album isn’t, without really taking into account the aims and objectives which made the album the album it is. So: ‘technoindustrial supergroup make an album that isn’t technoindustrial therefore it’s shit’ is wrong from the very outset.

Kniker makes no bones about the shift: Primitive Race was always intended to be a collaborative vehicle, and with former Faith No More singer Chuck Mosley on lead vocals and Melvins drummer Dale Crover on board, it was inevitable that Soul Pretender would have a different feel.

There’s a warped, Melvins / Mr Bungle vibe about the verse of the opener, ‘Row House, which is centred around a classic cyclical grunge riff that shift between chorus and overdrive on the guitar, and the 90s vice carries into the melodic ‘Cry Out,’ which is centred around three descending chords in the verse, erupting into a chorus that’s pure Nevermind Nirvana. And that’s no bad thing: it’s a great pop-influenced alt-rock tune with a belting chous.

The excessive guitar posturing on ‘Take It All’ is less impressive as a listening experience than on a technical level, but it’s soon blown away by the sneering ‘Bed Six’, with its chubby riffage and overall thrust.

The title track is perhaps the perfect summary of the album as a whole: uplifting four-chord chugs and a monster chorus are uplifting and exhilarating, and ‘Nothing to Behold’ works the classic grunge dynamic with a sinewy guitar and melodic hook. In fact, ‘classic’ is a key descriptor while assessing the compositional style of Soul Pretender: there isn’t a dud track on it, and the songrwiting is tight. There may not be any immediate standouts, but the consistency is impressive, and in that department, it’s a step up from its predecessor, which packed some crackers, but a handful of more middling tunes. Again, the change in methodology – a static lineup rather than infinite collaborators – is likely a factor here.

The album’s lack track, ‘Dancing on the Sun’, is a slow-burn beast, with hints of ‘Black Hole Sun’ trodden beneath the heft and swagger of Queens of the Stone Age. It’s precisely the track in which an album should end, nodding to the epic and marking an optimal change of pace. And it’s in reflecting on the overall structure and shape of Soul Pretender that it’s possible to reflect on what a great album it is, with its back-to-back riffery and explosive choruses. And did I mention force…

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Primitive_Race_-_Soul_Pretender cover

I’m Not From London Records

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s a fucking miracle Arrows of Love are still here, let alone that they’ve managed to nail a second album. But then, to watch them play live, it often seems like a fucking miracle that they can make it to the end of a set. Everything about Arrows of Love, from day one, had had an air of precarity, teetering on the brink of implosion. Every song carries that same sense of danger. It’s their wild volatility that sets them as one of the most exciting bands of the last decade, but ultimately, it’s the songs that matter. They’ve always had songs: sprawling, messy, noisy, fucked up and perversely challenging songs, underpinned with some lean grooves.

Product has been a long time in coming and the line-up on this, their second album, is quite different from the one which recorded their debut. In the period between the delivery of aforementioned debut the nihilism-in-a-nutshell noisefest that was Everything’s Fucked (May 2014) Arrows of Love have evolved, and perhaps some of it’s a natural progression and some of its… not so much an increasing maturity as a refocusing of energy, and some if it’s a result of the personnel changes. One obvious shift is the absence of shared vocals: Lyndsey Critchley’s departure has certainly altered the dynamic of the band in that sense (bassist Nuha Ruby Ra’s vocal contributions are a lot less prominent, and she only leads on one track, the surprisingly sultry and almost tender ‘Come With Me’), and Product is a lot less direct and attacking than its overtly grunge-orientated predecessor.

That doesn’t mean that Product is any less confrontational or antagonistic, and the nihilism which drove Everything’s Fucked is apparent in the subtitle ‘Your Soundtrack To The Impending Societal Collapse.’ Moreover, the use of the definite article shows an absolute confidence in what lies ahead – Arrows of Love are certain we’re past the tipping point and freewheeling toward the end of the world as we know it. Product is certainly a darker, more claustrophobic affair than its predecessor, and finds Arrows exploring wider, deeper territory in the process.

‘Signal’ is dark, dense, disturbing, and desperate, and is heavily hung with a curtain of goth which drapes over the violent (post)punk energy. ‘Did you ever see this coming?’ Nemah challenges through a fuzz of distortion ‘Let the lunatics run the asylum,’ he spits, and we know that this isn’t the future he’s predicting, but a plain observation on the present. The tension builds into a squalling racket and the vocals reach fever pitch as the track reaches its explosive climax.

It feels like an eternity since ‘Predictable’ first aired on-line – and while the band articulate their ennui at the daily shit that is life in the 21st century, as a musical work it’s anything but predictable. The vocals transition from drawling boredom in the verse to screaming mania in the chorus, while the guitars lurch and swerve every which way.

Marking a change of pace and direction, ‘Desire’ is dark, brooding, stripped back, introspective. At near the six-minute mark, it’s a seething mess of emotions: Arrows of Love are a band who’ve always emanated a gritty sexuality, but this channels it in a very different way, and it’s not comfortable or snuggly.

‘Tidal’ is perhaps the most overtly ‘art-rock’ song on the album, as well as being the most classically ‘grunge’ composition, with its quiet / loud verse / chorus juxtaposition. At the same time it encapsulates the dual character of Product, and album that swings – quite effortlessly, and thus with maximum impact – between classic post-punk trappings and raging noise, with exploratory experimentalism informing the process.

‘Beast’, which premiered some months ago now, is a swampy, squalid mess of seething abrasion a throbbing mess of bass that sonically calls to mid Melvins in places but ultimately stands as the soundtrack to a riot. The shrieking ‘Toad’ is equally uncompromising, and ‘The Parts That Make the (W)hole’ comes on like a hybrid of The Fall, Shellac and The Cooper Temple Clause. ‘Restless Feeling’ captures the dark, dirgy doom of Swans circa 1984 and makes for one hell of a low ending to the album: if anything, it’s the sound of society after the collapse as its low-end swell builds to an all-consuming tsunami of noise.

Product bridges the gap between Bauhaus and Nirvana, but ultimately, any comparisons are but signposts to an album which is unique in its standing. Product avoids pretence and overblown portentousness: it doesn’t make lofty statement about the future, but instead stands as a painfully intense document of the present. If any album of the last five years articulates the dizzying, anxietised state of contemporary life, it’s Product.

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AOL - Product

Loner Noise – 13th October 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Now, I’ve been digging Nasty Little Lonely for a while. Clearly, this is because I’m a music reviewer who gets to hear about everything in advance and I’m infinitely cool because of it.

But seriously, I was introduced to these noisemongerous mofos three years ago, by means of their Bad Jack & Other Stories EP. And they’ve only continued to get better – by which I mean more intense and visceral – ever since.

‘Ugly Vitamin’ is a seething, squalid eruption of-guitar-driven derangement that calls to mind not only Hole at their best, but also the sneering ferocity of Lydia Lunch the rather more psychotic Queen Adreena. It writhes into the skull and penetrates hard. A choppy, chunky bass and hammering rhythm drives through squalling, treble-smash guitar and Charlie Beddoes does sweet but dangerous on the vocal front. You don’t want to fuck with NLL, that’s for sure: but you do need them in your life.

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Nasty Little Lonely - Vitamin

Christopher Nosnibor

Last time I saw Ming City Rockers, supporting Arrows of Love in Leeds, I wasn’t hugely impressed, and thought that if they put as much effort into the songs as into looking like rock clichés, they might get somewhere. I’m here, in fact, for grungy Australian duo Mannequin Death squad, whose debut EP was one of last year’s highlights. Anyone who caught them on the supporting tour over here, thanks to their Hull-based label, would have witnessed a treat.

Back in the UK once more, they’re gracing York with their presence on the night before dropping their first new material since the Eat, Hate, Regurgitate EP in the form of the track ‘Blue’.

Warming things up are local lads Naked Six. At one time a three-piece, they’re now reduced to a two-piece. But rather than diminishing their power, the guitar / drum combo have focused and concentrated their energy, and with the guitar signal split across two amps, there’s a real depth and solidity to their sound. And it helps that the amps are cranked up loud. It’s the best way to listen to their swaggering, ballsy, hard-edged blues rock. Seb Byford not only has a classic blues rock voice that also works well when they move into grungier territory later in the set, but he’s got a stomp that’s half Angus Young, half frenzied madman as she grinds the riffs into the stage with his heel. It’s a cracking performance.

Naked Six

Naked Six

Mannequin Death Squad certainly don’t disappoint, and it’s telling that the instrument-swapping pair have evolved a set with enough new material to be able to drop killer tracks like ‘KYMS’ from their debut EP without the set being remotely lacking.

The eight-song set, which kicks off with ‘Sick’ from the aforementioned EP boasts almost 50% new and unreleased material. For a band who are yet to really break the market, it’s a bold move, but with a debut album in the offing and so many ace tunes, it means they’re able to arrange the set based not on simply what they’ve got, but to sequence it from a selection that gives the set shape and a dynamic beyond the individual tracks. It’s clear they’ve spent time out and about, on the road, refining their sound, and they benefit from the venue’s appropriate volume to make for an attacking sound.

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Mannequin Death Squad

‘Nightmare’ marks a change of pace and style, bringing a darker hue and a bass-led dirginess to break up the succession of driving grunge tunes with killer hooks which define the band’s sound.

Swapping instruments at the set’s mid-point and again near the end (much to the appreciation of those who thought they were about to finish), they keep themselves and the crowd on their toes, and they work bloody hard to power through a full-throttle set often coming on like Live Through This era Hole, with the added punch of a spiky post-punk edge. They’re fucking awesome.

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Mannequin Death Squad

With a surly-looking female guitarist, a trashy aesthetic, and a slew of uptempo punk tunes, what’s not to like about Ming City Rockers? Regrettably, and despite the consensus of the aged punks going nuts down the front, they still suck. The lack of imagination is the issue. It’s bog-standard spirit of ‘77 4/4 punk, and like many of the bands of the era, at its heart it’s just pub rock played fast with the amps cranked up. The songs are churned out with an abundance of posturing and posing but without any real substance, or tunes, and the sameness gets tedious very quickly.

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Ming City Rockers

They introduce one song as being about playing a gig in Lowestoft where a man chased the singer and ‘tried to pin me down and fuck me, I mean proper fuck me!’ but the lyrics are articulated as something along the lines of ‘wahwahwahwahyaggch’. It’s crass, lowest-common denominator stuff, and much of what happens on stage feels extremely contrived: the walking off stage into the crowd, knocking over cymbals on the way by way of a finale is pretty much emblematic.

Filing out, a few punters could be overheard commenting that Mannequin Death Squad were the best band of the night, and those punters would be right.

"Blue" is a brand new track from Melbourne’s Mannequin Death Squad, online for 3 weeks only during their 2017 UK tour:

Thur 14th Sept – Brighton Sticky Mikes
Sat 16th Sept – London DIY Thursdays
Wed 20th Sept – Hull Adelphi
Thur 21st Sept – York Fulford Arms
Fri 22nd Sept – Manchester The Peer Hat
Tue 26th Sept – Glasgow Bloc
Thur 28th Sept – Edinburgh Opium
Sat 30th Sept – Doncaster Vintage Rock Bar
Fri 6th Oct – London Monarch
Sat 7th Oct – Stafford Redrum
Sun 8th Oct – Leeds Hyde Park Book Club

Get your lugs round it here, ‘cause it’s a belter:

Southern Lord – 29th September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

The arrival of this album in my inbox gave me pause for thought. Their debut album, the brilliantly-titled Iron Balls of Steel was a full five years ago. I reviewed it, and raved about it. And I realise I’ve been doing this for quite a while now. Over that time, bands – great bands, shit bands, mediocre and forgettable bands – have come and gone. And now, Loincloth, whom I praised for their ‘megalithic chunks of undecorated, heads-down behemoth guitar riffage and earth-shuddering rhythms hewn from colossal slabs of basalt’, are entering the catalogue of bands gone.

The press release includes the following statement: “Loincloth is no longer a live band, so this record is our final offering not only to the great horned one below, but to the committed ladies and gentlemen of the Cloth.” Still, what a sign-off. Never mind the ladies and gentlemen of the Cloth: the nine shuddering riffcentric sonic barrages that form Psalm Of The Morbid Whore are terrifyingly heavy, dingy and gut-churning enough to leave the listener close to touching cloth. As such, while their departure is sad news, the delivery of this awe-inspiring musical gift is a cause to rejoice for those who like their shit heavy.

The press release pitches Psalm Of The Morbid Whore as ‘packing nine new instrumental passages of white-knuckled twists, and by-the-throat percussion, into a half-hour’.  But this fails to convey, even slightly, the grungey riffs which jolt and jar, shuddering through a stop/start chug of thick distortion. Between the blastbeats and thunderous culminations of bass and rhythm guitar twist sinewy lead guitar lines that spread and unfurl like foliage spreading in a mystical forest. Also emerging from the swamps are fleeting moments of prog-hued illumination.

It also overlooks the progression between Psalm Of The Morbid Whore and its predecessor. While the tracks are, on the whole, short, there are a number of longer workouts, with the final cut, ‘Ibex (To Burn in Hell Is To Refine)’ running to almost eight minutes (twice the length of the lengthiest piece on Iron Balls). And, significantly, the tone has shifted, from the slightly jokey or flippant-sounding ‘Underwear Bomb’, ‘Shark Dancer’ and ‘The Moistener’ of the debut the to the subterranean savagery of religious / pagan coloured titles like ‘Necro Fucking Satanae’, ‘Pentecost Dissident’, ‘Bestial Infernal’. Psalm Of The Morbid Whore is dense, dark, and heavy, and while in some respects less claustrophobic than its predecessor, it feels more focused, less metal, more grunge, and also more groove orientated.

But most importantly, Psalm Of The Morbid Whore retains the dirty, unpolished primitivism worthy of a band named Loincloth.

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