Posts Tagged ‘Grunge’

Emerging in 2016 as a Paramore-influenced radio-friendly rock act, Weekend Recovery have come a long way in a short time, transforming into on altogether edgier, more fiery, grungy-punk outfit and slamming down a debut album and a follow-up EP, amidst a heavy live schedule in 2018. With a few days off between Christmas and New Year, I caught up with singer / guitarist Lorin to riff on feminism, finance and whipped cream boobs – and to reflect on both the highs and lows of an eventful and sometimes turbulent 12 months.

AA: 2018 has been a big year for Weekend Recovery – you’ve played a lot more live dates and actually started to look like a proper touring band, not to mention the fact you’ve released your debut album. How’s it felt for you?

L: It’s been and gone so quickly – like it’s weird feels like it’s been forever but also gone in a blink if that makes sense. For the first time since the beginning though it’s felt like a band. Like I’d kill for the boys – you know how you can talk shit about your family but no one else can – a bit like that!

Yes, I get that strange warping of time, too: and it feels strange for me having first seen you play in, what, February 2016? It was funny, because you arrived late after bad traffic, draped in a faux-fur coat… and if anything, while the band’s rise has been pretty remarkable since then, you actually seem more grounded as an individual. You seem like a completely different band now. What happened?

I think it was 2017? (I think [it was]) I think I’ve surrounded myself in bullshit for a long enough time to work out who actually wants the band to progress and I can say whole heartedly these boys do – I feel more confident in myself and have learnt the ropes (I think anyway) and also surround myself with good people.

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The company you keep can make all the difference. And there seems to be an awful lot of bullshit, even at the lower levels of music-making. It seems ironic that feminism seems to have been a major source of friction on the scene of late – I had some major grief at a gig earlier this year, which subsequently turned into a virtual riot on social media, simply because I was a bloke reviewing a feminist ‘punk’ band – and you’ve had some pretty rough treatment too….

Yeah – it’s been an interesting few years – I think there are a lot of rose coloured bullies in this industry – and what annoys me is it’s so sugar coated people are fooled by it, or worse they know but continue to idol worship as I call it… Thing is the good bands aren’t the nasty ones – ‘cos they don’t have to beat others down to rise up – they rise up cos they’re great.

It seems strange that there should be infighting and animosity between artists: everyone’s struggling as it is. Where does this kind of division come from? And how do you actually manage to operate financially as a band? It seems that these days, even bands with an international profile are dependent on their day-jobs to subsist. It’s something that Pissed Jeans have made a band career of documenting.

I have no idea honestly – thing is with anything subjective there will always be an element of competition which creates friction – the band I have issue with (or rather she does with me) I don’t see as competition because they’re everything I’d hate to be. Financially, fuck knows – even the bands at the top work day jobs haha! Merch sales I guess are the way forward.

You’re pretty on it with the merch and design generally – and everything is your own, from concept to execution. Do you have any background in either marketing or graphic design, or are you just a control freak?

Haha! I have an A-level in it if that counts? And a foundation degree in fashion design haha.

But yes, I am a control freak, lol.

Fashion… you do are a fairly distinctive look, and you change your hair more often than your underwear. What’s with?

Changing my hair – it’s a trying to find myself kinda thing – I got accused of copying someone’s style – so I had a bit of crisis like oh does that look like her or does that – every time I put on a dress I’d look in the mirror and be like fuck that’s too much like her – pathetic right? also I get bored haha!

I wish I had time to get bored! So would you say you have a short attention span? More importantly, around having a crisis and people focusing your appearance and image – do you think it’s something that’s a problem more generally for women in music, particularly in ‘rock’ (if you’ll excuse the phraseology)? Do you feel like how you look carries more weight or gets more attention than the music?

I think look is super-important, like you want to walk in the room and people be like ‘oooh she means business’ BUT I don’t think you have to dress a certain way to achieve this, it’s an air – I think if the music is good the rest will follow.

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I know you’re a huge fan of Katy Perry, and that her work resonates on an emotional level – although clearly her image also plays a part – but do you think her wider appeal is about the music or the look?

I think she’s the whole package – I’m not a fan of her more recent stuff but if you go right back to the start she’s very much an artist in her own right before the crazy hair and whipped cream boobs – but you know music is a business if someone can make music, sell GHDs, perfume, jewellery and pop chips then even better!

So would you do whipped cream boobs or similar to shift units or to raise your band’s profile?

Haha! I’m sure there’s some integrity in it but I don’t think I would.

Wuss! Joking aside, what are your limits, and do you think that some so-called ‘feminist’ bands are exploitative in terms of sexuality?

Well I’ll do anything for a dare so the bar is quite high…. I think feminism is about equality (don’t get me wrong there are some wronguns out there and the light should be shone on them) I’ve never experienced anything adverse luckily but that’s not to say it doesn’t happen. But you can’t tar everyone with the same brush everyone has the right to feel safe at a gig. But my dad for example is a really cool guy who isn’t about pushing people and making nasty advances when it’s unwanted. Feminism is great, man-hating is not.

I think when it’s done incorrectly it almost makes people not take it seriously, if that makes sense.

Yes, there seems to be a current within feminist musical movements right now that seems to be staunchly anti-male. To my mind, this isn’t feminism, but perpetuates the same shit women have been facing for years but pitched against men, which is just sexism thrown the other way. You say you’ve never experienced anything adverse in our career to date… there are some bands who are your peers, who may also not have problems, but clearly appeal to a certain male, 40-50 demographic. How does that sit with you, and what’s your demographic?

I think if people are there for the right reasons it shouldn’t and doesn’t matter their age, if they’re there to look up people’s skirts mm maybe they need to have a look at themselves…our demographic is quite broad I think.

Do you think there are people who turn up to gigs to look up skirts? And do you think maybe some artists encourage that? Obviously, your primary thing is the music – and we’ll come to that next.

Maybe and maybe. People will always have their justification for both things I guess, I know accusations get thrown around a lot for example oh you’re bands only popular cos you have a hot girl in it (not my band I hastingly add!) But I dunno, maybe people will always deny it though if that is the intention.

So, while the popular take is that the internet has opened up the world to bands without labels, I still get the impression that it’s playing live to new crowds is the most effective way to build a fanbase. Do you think that’s a fair assessment?

I think so, but getting people there is difficult they’ve got to really like you ‘cos no-one has money nowadays and it’s expensive not just entry but travel beers etc.

Yes: it’s a competitive market, and under austerity, people struggle just to pay the bills. So how do you lure people?

By hopefully playing good music, I know that sounds old school and telling people I don’t think there’s any shame in saying hey I play in this band come check it out if it’s your thing great if not nice to meet a new person

There’s nothing wrong with old-school! And there’s a bit of an old-school feel to your sound now. What influences are you currently drawing on now the band’s sound’s evolved beyond the earlier Paramore etc. template?

Mmm… Marmozets, The Blinders, Metric are the bigguns at the mo.

And in terms of lyrical inspiration, how close to home are yours?

Very on the EP. ‘I’m Not That Girl’ was super personal, we’ve just started writing for our album and the lyrics are super hard hitting for me. It’s a bit like Paramore’s new album after laughter it all seems happy but if you read the lyrics away from the music they ate deep.

What drives your lyrics? ‘New Tattoo’ seemed to ache with anguish – and you have a substantial and expanding array of tattoos yourself. Any significance?

Well ‘New Tattoo’ is about seeing someone you really like to find out they actually have a partner already and were screwing around so it’s like a skin deep kinda thing, a tattoo is like a scar and relationships are often scars as well cos they stay with you forever in whatever form. I love all my tattoos everyone I have has a meaning and often designed by someone who means a lot to me.

You’ve just spun my head there! Relationships and meeting people is complex and difficult… do you think that being in a band changes how that works or makes it more difficult? Or do you feel like you’re just the same as everyone else on that front?

Yeah being in a band makes relationships really hard. Like really really hard. Either you’re with someone who isn’t in one and they don’t get it, like how you can spend so much time on something (because if you don’t it doesn’t work) or you’re with someone in a band who gets it but it’s difficult because you’re both so busy. It’s hard to balance everything I came out of a relationship not long back and he was convinced the band was more important than him, which wasn’t the case it’s just different like you wouldn’t make someone choose between going to work and a relationship so why bring in a band is any different I don’t know, it’s a business at the end of the day. There’s Lori who’s the front women of weekend recovery and there’s Lauren who eats chocolate pizza and drinks 6 cans of coke a day. It’s hard to balance sometimes but if the person you’re with doesn’t understand then they aren’t right , or maybe you aren’t right for them.

It’s relatable: reviewing music and being a writer means being holed up for hours a night. It’s not being unsociable or absent as a partner, so much as it’s juggling two careers. It’s more than just work / life balance. Des it feel like there’s a psychological pressure there, too? I’ll put this on the table first: I find it really difficult at times being a writer, a 9-5-er, a parent and all the rest: there just aren’t the hours in the day. Giving up anything isn’t an option, and cracking up quietly feels like all there is.

Yeah, I hate to feel like I’ve failed but sometimes there’s so much to do it seems impossible but it works.

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What distinguishes success and failure for you? You don’t just do the songwriting and lyrics but all of the band’s design and promo, yes?

Yeah. I do everything I think failure is giving up.

Does that mean you’ll still be plugging away at 40? Also…. you’ve got a solo release in the pipeline, right?

I dunno. I know my limits. I do super exciting that should be out and about around June time.

How would you describe the solo stuff? And why do it?

I had some bad news after my tour back in 2017 so I just needed to get some stuff off my chest like big time! It’s electro poppy kinda Foxes, Kyla la Grange, or Sia inspired.

Do you ever stop? What’s the plan for 2019?

Writing an album, record album, more gigging, some exciting support slots on the pipeline and release my solo stuff too. Oh and crack on with my degree, haha!

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NYC trio Spotlights continue their evolution with alluring new music, as the latest track "Kiss The Ring" emerges. This warmly enveloping melodious track features Allen Epley from The Life And Times with whom they will soon be touring – dates below. The news closely follows their recent five-track EP, titled Hanging By Faith, which includes a stirring rendition of The Cure’s “Faith” as well as the cinematic song, “The Hanging (Hang Us All)” and adds to their repertoire also including two full length albums, the second of which Seismic, was released around this time last year via Ipecac. We can expect more "stylishly forward-thinking atmospheric" music (Metal Hammer) to follow from this trio in the near future. For now, bathe in the powerfully tender sounds of "Kiss The Ring" at the link below.

Spotlights USA tour dates (all shows with The Life and Times):

October 17  Chicago, IL  Empty Bottle

October 18  Lexington, KY  Cosmic Charlie’s

October 19  Detroit, MI  Small’s

October 20  Toronto, ON  Hard Luck

October 21  Pittsburgh, PA  Cattivo

October 22  Washington, DC  DC9

October 23  Philadelphia, PA  Boot & Saddle

October 24  Boston, MA  Sonia

October 25  Brooklyn, NY  Saint Vitu

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Spotlights - Kiss

Christopher Nosnibor

There are early starts, and early starts: when doors open at 7:00 and you arrive just after half past to catch the last song and a half of the first band, you know you’re in really early start territory. Not that I felt I’d missed out immensely with York four-piece Heartsink: what I heard was very much standard contemporary ‘alt’ rock, nicking riffs from Biffy Clyro and hair from A Flock of Seagulls.

I’ll confess that I didn’t fall in love with Avenoir the first time I saw them, which happened to be supporting Our Divinity along with Weekend Recovery in the summer. The tired rock ‘n’ roll clichés I observed then are no less tired three months on: the singer’s wearing the same knackered denim jacket with Ramones back patch and his jeans are rags. He lunges around the stage – and if he plants his feet any further apart, there’s a danger he’ll split straight down the middle – wielding his bass like a weapon as he affects a hybrid persona that amalgamates Glenn Danzig and Lemmy. Objectively, they’re not terrible: they’re just not nearly as good as they seem to think they are.

Avenoir

Avenoir

I didn’t fall in love with Pulverise on this first meeting, either. They’re quite a sight: a quartet with a sort of image but not quite, they’re a hybridized sports rock monstrosity harking back to c.1999-2001 with added unicorn horn. They’ve got plenty of heft, grunt, and chug, but sound so, so dated. They chuck in a Cypress Hill cover medley effort, harking back to the rock/rap crossover fad of the early 90s that gave us the groundbreaking but agonisingly patchy Judgement Night soundtrack. Still, by the end of the set, they’ve got a bunch of people pogoing hard down the front, and if the primary purpose of a support act is to warm the audience up for the main event, then Pulverise meet their objective in style.

Pulverise

Pulverise

Weekend Recovery have received a conspicuous level of coverage on these pages of late, but that’s by virtue of the fact they’re a cracking band worthy of backing. They launched their first post-album material, in the form of the EP In the Mourning (the video for which we proudly premiered here at AA) in London on Friday, and tonight is their hometown celebration of what’s without doubt their strongest work to date. Lori is (appropriately, I suppose, given the lyrics to the EP’s lead song) pretty much faced when I arrive, promising after-show shots (again) and I wonder how she’ll even be standing in three hours, but she’s not only standing but delivers one of the strongest performances I’ve witnessed to date. Should I worry about this? About the encroaching impact of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle on the day to day, or whatever? Nah. As a performer myself, I get it. It’s not life-damaging. Performing is hard, especially if it doesn’t come naturally. Tonight, she comes on on boisterous, grunge-diva form, and it suits.

The fact that the front rows are packed tight while the last band are still dismantling their kit speaks for itself in terms of the ardour of Weekend Recovery’s fans. Bands playing venues three times this size don’t receive attention of this intensity. I’ve long maintained that it’s better to cultivate a small but passionate following than a larger indifferent one. The former will attend every show, purchase every release. The latter, they’ll big you up, like your Facebook page and stream your stuff on Spotify. But as it happens, the venue’s looking pretty busy, which says Weekend Recovery are making it, achieving a larger audience who are also passionate.

They open by raiding the back catalogue up-front with a blistering ‘Don’t Try and Stop Me’. A shot emerges from the audience before they even play the third song, ‘Oh Jenny’, and scribbling in darkness after four pints my handwriting descends into illegibility while Lori continues without missing a beat and the band pound and thrash solidly. I’m struck – once more – by just how good they’ve got in the last year. Having broken free of the shackles of their formative influences, Weekend Recovery hit their stride with the album and are seriously killing it now.

The difference between now and any time previous is that they’re confident enough about what they do to not care. By the mid-set landing of ‘On My Knees’, Lori’s lipstick’s smeared and they’re all sweaty messes, and it’s clear that this is a band playing hard to deliver maximum r’n’r (and that’s not rest ‘n’ relaxation). ‘Monster’ brings a dense, funk-tinged groove, and is a hook-laden standout, alongside ‘I Want to Get Off’, which really pounds and drives on this outing.

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Weekend Recovery

There’s a choreographed false ending with a rambunctious ‘Why Don’t You Love Me?’ which prefaces the ‘encore’ of ‘Bite Your Tongue’, and with a couple of minutes before the curfew, they shoehorn in an unexpected back-catalogue raiding ‘Focus’ by way of a genuine and truly impromptu encore.

The band seem genuinely astounded by the reception, but they deserve it. And as the lights come up over the sticky black floor, the EP is well and truly launched.

It’s the night before payday and I’m skint. I should probably be at home, sifting through the mountain of review submissions that have crashed into my inbox while I’ve been at work. I should probably be doing myriad other things. But having caught Dead Naked Hippies for the first time in Leeds a few months ago, I vowed to see them again at the first opportunity, and given that this was a free-entry show at a venue above a WMC two minutes’ walk from my house, there was no way I was going to miss this. And with bottles of Timothy Taylors’ Landlord at £3.20 a bottle, it wasn’t going to be a complete overdraft-smasher.

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I often experience a strange sense of déjà-vu, but tonight, I suffer a deep sense of disorientation on finding the room I’d previously watched bands perform in full of chairs, so I continue on up and lo, there’s a cluster of people, some of whom I recognise. Dave, aka Washing Machine Repair Man, who runs Young Thugs Records and it at the helm of the activities surrounding the Hovel – which is above a WMC in York’s South Bank, gives me a bit of a tour and shows me some of the changes they’ve made since I last visited. It’s impressive: the studio is now in a large, and rather plush room, and he’s excited about the potential of what was – and is, where he’s yet to begin work – a dilapidated but substantial space with a number of rooms.

And so I find myself in a room I’d previously sat in as a studio-in-progress, repurposed as a sort of rehearsal space with lights, before some kind of weird Japanese-made electronic organ / synth contraption from the early 80s. A dude in a cropped jumper and sporting a neatly-trimmed beard bounds about flamboyantly and chats entertainingly between songs played by the trio on said instrument. He’s accompanied by and shares vocal duties with a curly-topped chap in a bobble hat and a super-bouncy female singer / keyboardist in glasses. They sings off-kilter songs with pithy lyrics and groovesome rhythms and a certain retro vibe, which build a sort of narrative across the set. Welcome to the world of Drooligan. I haven’t quite made up my mind yet, but tonight they delivered something special, something engaging, something different. And something different is rare, which makes this quite the compliment.

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Drooligan

Being a small room, it doesn’t take many (half a dozen?) to make it feel quite full, and for it to get quite warm, and to describe the atmosphere of a gig venue smaller than my living room as intimate would be as weak an understatement as describing the sun as ‘quite warm’ or Brexit as ‘not the best idea ever’. But then, the Hovel Sessions aren’t really gigs in the conventional sense: the shows are filmed and serve more as a showcase performance and an ‘experience’ than your usual setup.

Casting sheets of paper to his feet like brutal and chunky confetti, live, clothed punk poet Henry Raby seems to have been taking performance tips from yours truly, and one of the three new pieces aired tonight takes cues in the opening segment from criminally underrated local performer Lawrence O’Reilly – but then, creativity in the postmodern age is all about drawing material from a wide range of sources and intertextuality isn’t simply about what’s written, and Henry’s style seems to be evolving. The last time I saw him was at that Dream Nails gig in a 400-capacity venue. It’s often more difficult to perform to a small audience, especially in a small space, but a seasoned performer, he does a decent job of it, firing out nuggets of socio-political commentary with energy.

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Henry Raby

Dead Naked Hippies are touring hard at the moment, and it was the fact I landed ‘Drain You’ for review last year that made me prick up my ears in the first place, before checking them out at The Belgrave Music all and Canteen supporting DZ Deathrays recently that ultimately brought me here tonight. As much as the music and the songs themselves, it was the band’s intensity – especially the electrical energy of Lucy Jowett – that makes them such a compelling act. Off stage, testing their snooker-playing skills, they’re an affable bunch, but give them instruments and amps and the fiery angst explodes instantly. The lumbering groove of new release ‘Rare’ sits neatly alongside the grungy ‘I Wanna Know Ya’ and some simple-but-effective rabble-rousing anti-work sloganeering.

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Dead Naked Hippies

It’s a fairly short set, but this much spikiness needs to be dispatched hard and fast for optimal impact. And in such a tiny space, the intensity is amplified. Maximum intensity: optimal impact. Blistering.

Weekend Recovery are storming through 2018 with the release of their new EP ‘In The Mourning’. The EP is being released on the 27th September 2018 alongside a release show for Camden Rocks Presents on the same day followed by their home town release at The Key Club, Leeds. ‘In The Mourning’ sees the band release their most mature and personal tracks to date. The lead track has already received spins on Kerrang! Radio and Planet Rock, and it very much gets the Aural Aggro vote.

Coupled with assertive, assured and alluring performances, this EP is set to stun as Weekend Recovery keep their finger on the pulse of garage punk.

Check the video – EXCLUSIVELY – here:

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The EP was recorded and produced by Dan Lucas of Anchor Baby Recording Company (Chris Slade ACDC, Maid of Ace, Coco and the Butterfields) and mastered by Charlie Francis (REM, Catfish and the Bottleen, Kill It Kid)

Weekend Recovery formed in 2016 and have not been short of praise since. Various outlets have been quick to compliment Weekend Recovery such as BBC Introducing, NME, Music Glue and Indie Central Music. Additionally, Weekend Recovery have made appearances at NME Presents Evening whilst supporting acts such as INK. Featuringg McFly’s Dougie Poynter, Svetlanas and REWS. Following the release of In The Mourning, the band will continue on their biggest UK tour to date with over 50 dates and with more to be added in the future including Camden Rocks Festival, Tramlines Festival and Rebellion Festival.

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7th September 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Argonaut are back with a new line-up and a new EP. You’d never guess from the title about there being a new EP. Having booked the studio for eight hours, the whole session was wrapped in six, with ‘minimal overdubs or embellishments’ as they put it. This honest, unlaboured approach gives the songs a directness and urgency which is integral to the appeal here.

All clocking in at between two and a half and three minutes, the four tracks on Argonaut’s latest offering are punchy, spiky, and with uncluttered arrangements and lo-fi production values, are perfect examples of punk/new wave crossover, delivered with the zeal of riot grrrl and grunge. And it’s great fun.

The band indulge their pop tendencies with a gloriously joyful rendition of Strawberry Switchblade’s ‘Since Yesterday’ (they do quite a line in covers, as it happens). It’s faithful to the original, but where the original was a shade twee, their take is free, vaguely ramshackle, and has a superbly messy guitar sound fizzing away.

With guitarist Nathan sharing the vocal duties on ‘March!’ – which is built around a simple, cyclical chord sequence played jangly and off-kilter – they come on like Brix-era Fall, and it’s the exuberance that crackles from ‘Girl Talk’ that pretty much serves to define the spirit of the EP.

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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.

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