Posts Tagged ‘Heavy’

KEN mode has released harrowing new single, ‘Unresponsive,’ from its upcoming eighth album, NULL, out on 23rd September.

A relentless dirge, ‘Unresponsive’ features frontman Jesse Matthewson unleashing a tormented soliloquy that hits like Henry Rollins at his most confessional. "Forgotten, erased, unresponsive, replaced, abandoned," he chants.

Matthewson recalls the origins of the song: "At this phase of the pandemic I had begun having dreams about my partner leaving me and my family dying, probably five nights a week, for several months. I sat there, writing the lyrics to this one while listening to a rolling storm come in, that never seemed to actually reach a crescendo. It all felt too apt for the way everything had been feeling for the last year at that point."

The track’s sparse, machine-like pulse, peppered by hints of cello and clanking percussion, points to early industrial and No Wave influences, beyond the metallic hardcore and noise-rock for which KEN mode is known. Matthewson credits the COVID-19 pandemic with pushing the band to take new chances and explore new ground: "We felt like there was really no reason to do anything at all unless we were trying to push this into something new," he states. Recorded and mixed by Andrew Schneider (Cave In, Unsane), NULL is the first KEN mode release to feature collaborator Kathryn Kerr (saxophone, synth, piano, percussion, backing vocals) as a full-fledged member of the band.

Check the video here:

Founded by Matthewson and his brother Shane, KEN mode has come to define intensity and dedication, via tours with Russian Circles, Torche, and Full of Hell, and releases produced by the likes of Steve Albini, Kurt Ballou, and Matt Bayles. Upcoming new album NULL sees this warhorse of a band emerge from the darkest of times with new energy, evolved and ready to carry on into its next chapter.

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The band embarks on a US tour in October, with support from Frail Body (Deathwish Inc).

Oct 20 – St Paul, MN @ Turf Club

Oct 21 – Davenport, IA @ Raccoon Motel

Oct 22 – Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen

Oct 23 – Indianapolis, IN @ Black Circle Brewing Co.

Oct 24 – Columbus, OH @ Big Room Bar

Oct 25 – Nashville, TN @ DRKMTTR

Oct 26 – Little Rock, AR @ Vino’s

Oct 27 – Oklahoma City, OK @ 89th Street

Oct 28 – Austin, TX @ The Lost Well

Oct 29 – Houston, TX @ Black Magic

Oct 30 – Denton, TX @ No Coast Fest

Oct 31 – New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa

Nov 2 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl

Nov 3 – Charlotte, NC @ Snug Harbor

Nov 4 – Philadelphia, PA @ Silk City

Nov 5 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus

Nov 6 – Cambridge, MA @ Middle East

Nov 7 – Montreal, QC @ Turbo Haus

Nov 8 – Toronto, ON @ The Baby G

Nov 9 – Detroit, MI @ Sanctuary

Nov 10 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club

Nov 12 – Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium

Cruel Nature Records – 6th September 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

These are interesting times for Nadja, the ‘ambient / experimental / doom metal’ duo comprising Leah Buckareff and Aidan Baker. Luminous Rot was recorded during lockdown, and found a home on the legendary Southern Lord label. Released in the spring of 2021, it’s a veritable beast of a work, which combined metal with post-punk, cold-wave, shoegaze, and industrial.

Lockdown feels like something of not so much a distant memory as an unreality, and if by May 2021 it felt like life was returning to normal, the truth is that the wounds were still raw, and any attempt to move on as if life was back as it was before was simply a wilful act of delusion to stave off the effects of the trauma.

And with every trauma, there is some residual hangover, and you might say that Labyrinthine is the product of that. As the accompanying notes detail, the material was recorded during the pandemic and concurrently with Luminous Rot, and ‘explores themes of identity and loss, monstrosity and regret, extreme aesceticism, the differences between labyrinthes and mazes, taking inspiration from Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatore, Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Tombs of Atuan, and Victor Pelevin’s reinterpretation of the story of the minotaur and Ariadne, The Helmet of Horror.’

When a band chooses to self-release an album, it’s no longer an indication that it’s substandard or not worthy of a label release, and the case here is that Labyrinthine, which ‘this might be Nadja’s heaviest, doomiest album to date’, it’s clear that rather than consisting of session offcuts, it stands alone as a separate project from Luminous Rot, featuring as it does, a different guest vocalist on each track, and it’s worth listing them here:

Alan Dubin – legendary American vocalist from O.L.D. and Khanate and, currently, Gnaw

Rachel Davies – vocalist and bassist from the British band, Esben & The Witch

Lane Shi Otayanii – is a Chinese multi-media artist and vocalist in Elizabeth Colour Wheel

Dylan Walker – American vocalist from grindcore/noise band Full of Hell

With such a roll-call of contributors, it’s in no way possible to fee short-changed by the fact there are only four tracks, and ‘only’ is somewhat redundant when the shortest of these is almost thirteen minutes in duration. This is an album alright, and it’s an absolute fucking monster at that.

And while the CD release is on the band’s own label, Broken Spine, there are limited cassette versions by several different indie labels from around the world: Katuktu Collective (US), Cruel Nature Recordings (UK), Bad Moon Rising (Taiwan), Adagio830 (Germany), Muzan Editions (Japan), WV Sorcerer (France/China), Pale Ghoul (Australia), and UR Audio Visual (Canada) – and it’s perhaps noting that the running order differs between formats,  and I’m going by the Cruel Nature tape sequence here rather than the CD. It may be more intuitive from a listening perspective, but limitations off format and all…

This co-operative approach to releasing music is highly commendable, and seems to offer solutions to numerous problems, not least of all surrounding distribution in the post-pandemic, post-Brexit era where everything seems on the face of it to be fucked for any band not on a major label with global distribution and access to pressing plants and warehouses worldwide.

The title track is a lugubrious droning crawl: imagine Sunn O))) with drums crashing a beat every twenty seconds in time with each pulverising power chord that vibrates your very lungs. And those beats are muffled, murky, and everything hits with a rib-crushing density, that’s only intensified by the squawking, anguished vocals that shred a blasted treble in contrast to the thick billows of booming bass sludge, and it’s a truly purgatorial experience.

And then, here it comes, and it all comes crashing down hard over the course of the most punishing nineteen minutes in the shape of the brutal behemoth that is ‘Necroausterity’. In a sense, the title speaks for itself in context of a world in lockdown, and it’s sometimes easy to forget just what terrifying times we endured, watching news reports of bodies piling up in New York and elsewhere while governments and news agencies fed a constant stream of statistics around cases and deaths. It felt truly apocalyptic. And ‘Necroausterity’ is the sound of the apocalypse, tuned up to eleven and slowed to a crawl, the writhing torture of a slow, suffocating death soundtracked by guitar and drums do dense and dark as so feel like a bag over the head and a tightening grip on the throat. The recording is overloaded, distorting, and it’s a simply excruciating experience. And it simply goes on, chord after chord, bar after bar, slugging away… and on in a fashion that makes SWANS feel lightweight in comparison. It’s relentless, unforgiving, brutal, and punishing.

‘Rue’ broods hard with dark, thick strings and a heavy atmosphere, but it’s light in comparison. It’s dense, and weighty, but Rachel Davies’ ethereal vocal drifts gloriously within the claustrophobic confines and conjures another level of melody that transforms the thick, sluggish drones into something altogether more enchanting. It builds to a throbbing crescendo that is – perhaps not entirely surprisingly – reminiscent of Esben And the Witch or Big | Brave.

Wolves howl into the groaning drone of ‘Blurred’ and the guitars slowly simmer and burn: no notes, just an endless am-bleeding distortion before the power chords crash in and drive hard, so low and slow and heavy so as to shift tectonic plates and shatter mountains. Amidst the raging tempest, Lane Shi Otayanii brings an otherworldly aspect that transcends mere words, making for a listening experience with a different kind of intensity as it trudges and churns fir what feels like a magical eternity.

The sum total is the sound of hellish desperation, and while Labyrinthine may offer absolutely no solace in the bleakest pits of deathly despair, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an album that better articulates perpetual pain and anguish better than this.

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Southern Lord continues the label’s prolific output with the release of a new album: Greg Anderson’s debut full-length as The Lord, Forest Nocturne, which we recently reviewed here at Aural Aggro.

Additionally, The Lord has unveiled the Forest Nocturne demo recordings, originally only available on the Daymare Records Japanese CD edition, now available via Bandcamp.

You can get your lugs round the demos here:

Forest Nocturne sees Anderson (guitarist of SUNN O))), Goatsnake & Southern Lord curator) taking cues from legendary film composers: John Carpenter and Bernard Hermann, in order to create cinematic landscapes which are heavy with tension, and offset by the injection of lethal doses of early 90s Scandinavian Death Metal – with Attila Csihar (of notorious Norwegian black metal band Mayhem & frequent SUNN O))) collaborator) lending his putrid vocals to final track "Triumph of the Oak."

For Forest Nocturne, Anderson worked with renowned producer Brad Wood. Dan Seagrave’s epic and fantastical style is instantly recognisable on the album’s startling artwork, something which seems to depict an ancient and unknowable force in the woodlands. Forest Nocturne is described by Anderson as “music of the night,” but inspired by imagery conjured on daytime hikes, and majestic, beautiful trees, which he sees as survivors – perhaps the last known connection that we have to an ancient world, and acting as a connector between past, present and future of the human race and of our time on this planet.

Greg Anderson began making music in the mid-eighties with hardcore bands False Liberty and Brotherhood before refining his musicality during the nineties with the post-hardcore collective Engine Kid. From that point on, the musical direction started shifting, channelling his love of tone, riffs and repetitive sound, vital elements that feed into the meditative cosmos of SUNN O))), and the ‘low and slow’ sounds of Goatsnake, both of whom find different ways to move beyond confines and tropes of their respective sound worlds.

In August and September 2021 respectively, Greg Anderson released two singles under the name The Lord; "Needle Cast" with Robin Wattie (the unmistakably emotive vocalist of BIG|BRAVE) and "We Who Walk In Light" with William Duvall (of Seattle rock legends Alice In Chains and hardcore-punk group Neon Christ). Unintentionally moving in a different direction from those bands within which he found his feet, Anderson was able to take on the mantle of The Lord in a new, pictorial approach to heavy music. Through this process, he found himself moved to collaborate with vocalists he admires.

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Dark heavy psych/doom group Lucid Grave has unleashed the “Old Spirit” music video, made by Dóri Halldórsson and Amanda Jensen. “Old Spirit” serves as the second song from the Copenhagen quintet’s debut album, Cosmic Mountain, which came out on 15 July via Electric Valley Records digitally and on four versions of vinyl (Test Press, Solid Yellow, Transparent Red Splatter Black Vinyl, Ultra LTD “Cosmic Edition”).

Lucid Grave Informs: “‘Old Spirit’ is a heavy psych rock song with influence from the early ’80s punk. The song is about a fast spacy universe in-between two worlds. The song is inspired by the lead singer’s days in the high desert in California. The desert heat is hard on everything and everyone. And the wind still tells stories of the Native Americans, the legends of desert rock, and the military base in the unforgiven sun.”

Watch the video here:

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Lucid Grave is a dark heavy psychedelic band with stoner-doomy tendencies from Copenhagen, Denmark. Sonically, Lucid Grave is a boiling pot of heavy fuzz rock like Black Sabbath/Coven/Hawkwind and ‘80s punk like Black Flag/The Nuns/The Gun Club, all wrapped up in a nice blanket of modern heavy stoner rock and doom. Honoring the howling occult cinema of the ‘80s, Lucid Grave finds inspiration in everything that’s heavy, filthy, and free!

They emerged from the underground communal house and punk venue Ungdomshuset in the dying days of 2017. A few months later, in 2018, they released a self-titled demo and spent the next few years playing shows around Denmark with bands such as High Priestess, Cities of Mars, The Gates of Slumber, and Heathe, while making more materials as well. In 2020 Copenhagen label Virkelighedsfjern released Lucid Grave’s EP called Goddess of Misery, a venture seriously disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak — which meant no shows for a while. That time was instead spent on writing materials for their first full-length album. In 2021 they released a single called “Surfer Bat,” an upbeat ‘70s heavy Rock song with a twist of gothic punk vibes and a dash of Latin music. It caught the attention of the Italian heavy psych label Electric Valley Records.

Cosmic Mountain, the debut LP of Lucid Grave, is a journey through your favorite drugs of life, the highs, and the lows, being chased through the desert and fighting a haze of demons. The album was recorded live and over-dubbed in just three days at the beginning of 2022. As it was with the previous single, “Surfer Bat,” Patrick Fragtrup was again behind the mixing board for the session, and it is clear that there has developed an understanding between him and the band as this record sounds both huge and fierce without losing any clarity or energy from the group. The project was finished by Shane Trimble of High Reeper at his California studio.

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Experimental metal group Imperial Triumphant release a visualiser video for the track, ‘Metrovertigo’ which appears on their newest album Spirit Of Ecstasy, which we recently reviewed.

"Plutocratic myths exist in the shadows of the divine. Placed upon the middle sector as shackles of the unknown. A giant wave pool claims the livelihoods of many, while still many wilfully hand it to the Plutocratic gods as unrealised gains. Bow down and eat dirt. Welcome to a new era. Welcome home"; says Imperial Triumphant about ‘Metrovertiogo’.

Watch it here:

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Photo Credit: Alex Krauss

20th July 2022 – Produkt 42

Christopher Nosnibor

Sever The Servants – a nice play on words – have dished up an eponymous debut that’s as dark as darkwave gets, with subsonic bass, thudding beats and hushed, deadened vocals. As much as anything, I’m reminded of Test Department’s The Unacceptable Face of Freedom, only much more muted, and less abrasive, antagonistic, and slowed to a crawl.

Sever The Servants are no less political, skewering slabs off both ‘political and social commentary. From the ‘right wing hivemind’ theme of the title track to the things that slowly kill us day to day’, STS are seething… but with a taut musical restraint. It’s stripped back, minimal. No samples, no loops, just an undulating larval creep.

Instead of going all-out raging, industrial-style either by means of guitars (e.g. Ministry) or snarling synths (e.g. Nine Inch Nails), Sever The Servants create a dense, suffocating soundtrack that recreates the pressure of oppression with a sonic density and uncomfortable weight. Listening to this album is like having a heavy cloak pulled over your head. Everything is muffled, and you can’t think straight. You panic. The drum beats are like kicks to the chest. It’s hard to breathe. And they never let up. You feel the atmosphere thicken.

I was sold on the pitch that ‘The album’s themes are generally apocalyptical with some each of the album’s six tracks represent the freedom to explore with a complete lack of care towards staying in a “box”.’ Having spent the last couple of years effectively living in a box, I’ve grown accustomed to a certain sense of claustrophobia, but Sever the Servants manage to intensify this with the six tracks on the menu here. As for the apocalyptic… the world is quite literally burning now. And yet right-wing boomers are decrying those who dare to mention climate crisis as ‘woke’. We are fucked beyond fucked. The end of the world is truly nigh, and I’m out of words to describe just how fucked we are. But Sever The Servants at least manage to create a soundtrack that goes some way to articulating it – for as long as we have power, before the blackouts commence.

The vocals wheeze uncomfortably amidst tense soundscapes that roll and lurch, and the weight doesn’t come from volume or abrasive, but a menacing dark force.

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Basalt Shrine are the Filipino doom/post-metal super quartet of Bobby Legaspi (Surrogate Prey, Malicious Birth), Rallye Ibanez (Ex-Religious Nightmare, Surrogate Prey) and Ronaldo and Ronnel Vivo (Dagtum, The Insektlife Cycle, Abanglupa, Imperial Airwaves, Ex-Hateure).

‘From Fiery Tongues’ is their debut album. It’s heavy. Really heavy.

It’s so heavy, we all had to take a lie-down instead of writing the planned review. While we pick ourselves up, listen to this:

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Dead Cross, the four-headed Hydra featuring Mike Patton, Dave Lombardo, Justin Pearson and Michael Crain, return with the abrasive 9-song album, II, on Oct. 28th via Ipecac Recordings.

The album, while both a raucous hardcore collection, and at times, a politically-charged opus, has its roots in friendship, with the band rallying together after Crain received a surprise cancer diagnosis.

"Words can’t even begin to describe how much this album means to me. It’s birthed of pain and uncertainty,” explains Crain. “The slow, excruciatingly painful, and nauseating recovery from cancer treatments were the catalyst for every riff and note on this album. However, my will to live and be with my brothers Justin, Dave, Mike, and co-producer Ross Robinson, got me out of bed and running into the studio every day to get it all on tape.”

Watch ‘Reign Of Error’ here:

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Art of Fact Records – 15th July 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

The second single lifted from the forthcoming album Null, due for release in September, is basalt slabs of rock-solid riffery of the kind KEN Mode are worshipped for by their fanbase – and deservedly so.

It crashes in hard, grinding low-end dominating, before the guitar splinters treble over the grumbling bass that drives the verse. Jesse Matthewson’s hard, shouted vocal style is savage, and the vocals sit fairly low in the mix; the splinters that do cut through are cutting ‘I’ve got / nothing more to say / You’ve got no reason to listen’. As the band put it, it’s ‘an existential crisis, set to music’, and ‘in Matthewson’s words, the song illustrates a turning point where one’s disappointment transforms into resignation.’ It all adds to the overall nihilistic force of this beast of a tune.

If both the production and the accompanying promo video serve to convey a sense of the band’s energy and sheer power live, then the UNSANE T-shirt Jesse’s wearing provides a fair reference point for this slice of sonic savagery. That said, it does signify a shift from predecessor, Loved (which still has one of the most memorable album covers of recent years). It’s a little less frenetic, less manic than, say, ‘He Doesn’t Feel Pain Like He Ought To’, and the sound is geared towards being denser, heavier rather than harsher. And it packs a mean punch alright.

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KEN mode will hit the road in September for a string of Canadian shows, followed by a headlining slot at No Coast Fest in Denton, TX, alongside Metz, Young Widows, and more. Stand by for news of more touring.

Sept 23 – Winnipeg, MB, CA @ The Good Will Social Club – w/ Vile Creature, Mares of Thrace

Sept 24 – Saskatoon, SK, CA @ Amigos Cantina – w/ Vile Creature, Mares of Thrace

Sept 25 – Calgary, AB, CA @ Palomino Smokehouse – w/ Vile Creature, Mares of Thrace

Sept 26 – Edmonton, AB, CA @ Starlite Room Temple – w/ Vile Creature, Mares of Thrace

Oct 30 – Denton, TX @ No Coast Fest – w/ Metz, Young Widows

Christopher Nosnibor

Seems like gigs at the Vaults are cursed when I go. Just as headliners Witch of the East cancelled the last time I was down, so PAK40 have had to bail due to Covid. Yep, over two years on and it’s still having a significant impact on live music. But the good news is that REDFYRN are worth turning out for, as previous outings have shown, and even prior to PAK40’s withdrawal, it had the air of a double-header.

It’s fucking melting. I mean, I’m drinking cider, it’s that mafting. And I’m sweating it out faster than I can drink it. My skin is like a sieve or muslin bag. It must be absolutely punishing on stage.

Openers Beswick get off to a bit of a ragged start. But then, it is their first gig in three years, and they’re not looking like the kind of band who get tour-tight. It would be wrong to complain about the lack of guitar definition with a black metal band, and they lean towards the lower, slower end, where everything slips into a sludgy mid-range mesh, thanks to the five-string bass and seven-string guitar and the most fuckedest cymbal I’ve seen in use in a long time.

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Beswick

The main vocalist has three distinct styles: a penetrating, shivering squawk, a low growl, and a cleanish, atonal punk snarling shout, which actually works at least half of the time as they swing towards a dingy punk style at various points during the set. They do seem like a band in a bit of a stylistic quandary as they slither hither and thither, but they’re solid entertainment. The final song is a nod to their previous incarnation as Tokechamber, and sees the set conclude with billowing drone doom chords and feedback. I would have happily watched that for an hour.

REDFYRN start as they mean to go on, bringing the riffs slow and steady, with more five-string bass groove through an immense effects rack. The bassist has bounding energy, smashing every note with fists and feet, and the weighty guitars contrast with the soaring vocals. Big brave but stoner with a bluesy twist, chunky gritty riffs.

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The solos aren’t overdone, and showcase the fact Cat Redfern is an excellent guitarist on a technical level as well as being a heavy hitter. She plays with only a handful of pedals, but a lot of crunch and a big dense sound and big volume.

A big hairy moshpit happened during the last song, and the half dozen beardy guys going crackers down the front was enough to bring the band back for one more, and they encore with ‘Unreal’, to an even more vibrant response. For a hot Thursday night when people would have likely been lured to a beer garden to toast the announcement of the Prime Minister’s departure, albeit at some time in the future, and for a stand-in headline slot, REDFYRN delivered a commanding performance and owned the night. Having only recently found themselves in headline slots, REDFYRN look ready to take it to the next level.