Posts Tagged ‘Heavy’

EMBR are four musical kindred spirits who have delivered a crushing, yet beautiful debut album in 1823. At this point, it is worth stating that the title 1823 has special significance. It’s not just a numerical title, it has substance. Eric Bigelow (drummer) has been on the list for a kidney for around 4 years.

Eric received a kidney transplant in May of 2019. This happened right in the middle of writing the album. The kidney was from a deceased donor and all Eric and Crystal Bigelow (singer and Eric’s wife) know about the donor is that it was a young woman between the ages of 18-23. The album is dedicated to the donor and the surgeons at Vanderbilt hospital in Nashville TN. And what a fine tribute it is.

Musically, 1823 could be categorized as ‘Doom’. However, on this debut it’s obvious that EMBR have range, drive and a desire to add to the genre, to broaden it whilst staying true to its core fundamentals.

Rest assured, the band have all the nuts and bolts in place. Mark Buchanan (guitar), Alan Light (bass) and Eric Bigelow (drums) keep everything tight and weighty. Massive drop-tuned guitars, chest rattling low end, pounding drums, fuzzy distortion, it’s all there. But they also add in synths, a bit of grunge and alt rock flavours.

The vocal talents of Crystal absolutely soar and strengthen the music. Her range, patterns and harmonies transport the band’s music skyward. Crystal adds soul and an air of melancholia to the musical creations. If a pointer were needed, think Mastodon meets Witch Mountain with epic sweeps and a shade of gothic drama.

The songs on 1823 are loud, brutally beautiful, aggressive, abrasive and at times atmospheric, uplifting and emotional. Welcome to the next chapter of EMBR.

Ahead of 1823, they’ve offered up ‘Where I’ve Been’ . Check the video here:

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EMBR

Gizeh Records – GZH99 26th June 2020 (Digital) / 25th September 2020 (LP/CD)

Christopher Nosnibor

Wren’s third album – or ‘third chapter in Wren’s seasonal lore exploration’ as the press release puts it – is their first on Gizeh, and promises ‘six melancholy-shrouded sonic ruminations [which] swell between intimate performances devoid of adornment, and evolving soundscapes of auditory ruin’. And pitched as being of interest to fans of Godflesh, ISIS, Kowloon Walled City, Neurosis, it does the job of bringing slow-burning slow-trudging metal with an emotionally-articulate aspect and certain musical nuance.

The first megalithic sonic slab to assail the listener is the nine-minute ‘Chromed’, an epic battery of guitar and anguished vocal, and it piledrives in with a repetitive chord sequence, there are heavy hints of Amenra, and it’s the grainy, earthy quality that’s most reminiscent of Neurosis. There’s a lot of space here between the crushingly weighty power chords that drive, hard, low, and slow, less like a battering ram and more like a tank driving against a wall: slow, deliberate, and completely devastating.

There is detail, there is texture, and there is space within the broad parameters of this ambitious work, giving moments of respite and pauses for reflection between the raging infernos of fury that flare upwards toward the skies from the troughs of gloom. And yes, Groundswells is gloomy, dark, lugubrious, the soundtrack to motional trauma and swings from anguished introspection to annihilative rage.

If the album’s entirety could be encapsulated on a single track, it would be the dynamically-flexible ‘Subterranean Messiah’, which stretches out beyond ten minutes as it works it was way though a series of peaks and troughs, venturing into a range or mood-spaces and sonic terrains to forge a compelling sonic journey that’s utterly immersive. Jo Quail adds layers of subtlety and not to mention sonic depth with her cello work on the track also.

The final song, ‘The Throes’ is a grinding dirge, Godflesh played at the pace of Swans’ Cop. But amidst the torture, punishment, and the anguish – those excoriating vocals and that shrieking lead guitar that battles against the dense, slow chug and grind coalesce to form a perfect prism of pain, the psychological expressed through the physical.

If the band’s name suggests something soft, delicate, melodic, then Groundswells tears those expectations to shreds in the most obliterative way. It’s simultaneously harrowing and beautiful, and an all-consuming experience.

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Sargent House

Christopher Nosnibor

Chelsea Wolfe and her band drummer Jess Gowrie came together while touring Wolfe’s Hiss Spun album in 2017. I reasonably expected Chelsea to be the dominant force here, and it’s perhaps because of that expectation that Self Surgery, the fruits of their collaboration under the moniker of Mrs Piss, hits as hard as it does. It’s the best kind of collaboration, greater than the sum of its parts, and finds Wolfe standing equal creative billing.

If Wolfe’s albums are marked by a degree of poise, control, balance, then those are tossed to the wind in a deluge of noise on Self Surgery. It’s unrefined, even messy in places, and all the better for it. It feels like a true exploration as the pair cut loose, dredge deep, and find what’s really inside themselves.

‘To Crawl Inside’ is but an intro track, 43 seconds of no-wave buzz and a vocal stew that bubbles discord and disquiet. It sets the tone in that it’s raw and ragged, angular and challenging, but it barely begins to set the levels for volume and abrasion. On Self Surgery, Wolfe and Gowrie crank it up and go all out.

‘Downer Surrounded by Uppers’ blasts headlong into a grunge blast, and we’re talking more early Hole than the stereotypically formulaic quiet/loud dynamic of what’s come to be associated with grunge since Nevermind and Live Through This redrew the template and rendered it accessible. It’s not the only full-throttle grunge explosion: ‘Nobody Wants to Party with Us’ is throws in some skull-cracking percussion and an industrial edge that lands it somewhere between Pretty On the Inside and The Downward Spiral. It’s heavy-duty.

‘Knelt’ finds Chelsea in more familiar territory, with a grinding, low-registering bass and swirling maelstrom of distorted guitar providing a dense, murky backdrop to a breathy, brooding vocal that’s reminiscent of ‘Spun’. But while still cinematic, and also deep, dark, and weighty, as well as simultaneously ethereal, the guitars wrapped in layers of effects and drenched in reverb, there’s a different feel to the production here: less polished, less precise, everything is more up-front, more direct.

If the first half of the album is intense, the second is next level: muscles twitch and nerves jangle in the face of the upshift in pace and intensity that begins with the driving riffery of ‘M.B.O.T.W.O.’ and steps up with ‘You Took Everything’, which is shadowy, gloomy, gothic in mood, stark snare ricochets shaping the direction as screaming banshee backing vocals fill the backdrop with a fearful hauntology.

The title track is a daunting morass of dingy bass and pulverising percussion that paves the way for the mess of no-wave noise that is the pair’s titular tune and sums up what their about perfectly, as the guitars and dual vocals swirl in currents of feedback before a driving drum thrash that calls to mind Bleach-era Nirvana hammers to an unexpected moment of calm to fade.

Because of its timing, and its staunchly uncommercial titling, this project could well be a bit of a sleeper, but the fact is, it’s as strong as anything Wolfe has released during her career to date, and is a truly killer album in its own right.

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BIG|BRAVE share a video for "This Deafening Verity" a stand-out track from their most recent album A Gaze Among Them, out now on Southern Lord.

"The video is made from re-appropriated footage from a hot dog eating competition in the USA. With the video we didn’t want to only investigate the competitive hot dog eating community but rather at all spectacles of this character. Ones where gratuitous displays of abundance are celebrated and worshiped,"  the band remark.

BIG|BRAVE are returning to Europe in April and May opening the tour with their second appearance at Roadburn Festival, followed by dates in the UK and beyond – dates, details and tour poster below. Joining them for three dates will be violinist and sound artist Jessica Moss, who has toured with, and appeared on BIG|BRAVE’s previous album.

Since their inception in 2012, BIG|BRAVE have explored terrains of experimental rock with a clear focus on the key principles; space, volume, and raw emotion. The essence of BIG | BRAVE’s magic has always been the way they balance these dynamics, and particularly how much sheer power comes from the beautifully quiet moments.

Watch the video here:

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BIG | BRAVE LIVE DATES:

19/04 Tilburg Netherlands – Roadburn *

20/04 Paris France – La Boule Noire *

21/04 London UK – Electrowerkz *

22/04 Brighton UK – The Hope & Ruin

23/04 Norfolk UK – Norwich Arts Centre

24/04 Glasgow UK – Nice N Sleazy

25/04 Manchester UK – The Peer Hat

26/04 Newcastle UK – The Cluny

28/04 Nantes France – La Scène Michelet

29/04 Bilbao Spain – Shake

30/04 Madrid Spain – Wurlitzer Ballroom

01/05 Lisboa Portugal – ZDB

02/05 Porto Portugal – Maus Hábitos

03/05 Oviedo Spain – La Lata de Zinc

06/05 Barcelona Spain – Sala VOL

07/05 Talence France – Antirouille

08/05 Lyon France – Le Farmer

09/05 Zürich Switzerland – Rote Fabrik

10/05 Piacenza Italy – ChezArt

12/05 Vienna Austria – Grillx

13/05 Budapest Hungary – Három Holló

14/05 Prague Czech Republic – Klubovna

15/05 Wroclaw Poland – Into The Abyss

16/05 Gdansk Poland – Dizzy Grizzly

17/05 Berlin Germany – ZUKUNFT am Ostkreuz

19/05 Moscow Russia – Bumazhnaya Fabrika

20/05 St. Petersburg Russia – Serdce

21/05 Tallinn Estonia – Sveta Baar

23/05 Zottegem Belgium – Dunk! Festival

24/05 Waregem Belgium – W-Fest

* with Jessica Moss

Christopher Nosnibor

I’m both intrigued and vaguely amused by the focus of the press release, which informs us that ‘In anticipation of their upcoming European tour in support of Suffocation, Belphegor and Hate, Italian metallers Necrosy have released a brand-new video for the track “Drown In Perdition” (at 320 bpm)’. But then, in certain circles, presumably including those of Thrash Speed, and Technical Death Metal (the latter being where this Venetian foursome position themselves in genre terms), the pace is of importance.

The album, Perdition, was in fact released back in 2015, and this video single is something of a stop-gap while they piece together album number two and gear up for a significant tur of the European mainland. What no UK dates? Well, no, and it’ probably not necessarily a Brexit thing, but while we’re at it, fuck Brexit and the damage the latest piece of hateful, movement-limiting legislation will do to touring bands and the music industry. Bands and fans and the economy alike will suffer.

On the subject of suffering, ‘Drown Into Perdition (at 320BPM)’ (and yes, the parenthetical element is noted on not only the video’s YouTube post, but also the album’s track list) is pretty fucking punishing, a whiplash blur of frenzied guitars and drumming which provide the backdrop to a guttural howl and while the lyrics are wholly unintelligible, the sound articulates by the medium of sound a fair approximation of the song’s title – a hellish, torturous assault.

The woman in the white dress / sheet who features in the video feels like a bit of a superfluous addition, but provides a nice visual contrast to the hairy, tattooed blokes lunging and prowling while wielding their instruments menacingly. It doesn’t detract from the song though, and of this is any measure, both the live shows and upcoming album should be pretty intense.

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Tour dates are as follows:

March 11th – Legend Club – Milan, Italy
March 12th – Kufa – Lyss, Switzerland
March 13th – Gare De Lion – Wil, Switzerland
March 14th – Le Jas Rod – Marseille, France
March 15th – BT 59 – Bordeaux, France
March 17th – Stage Live – Bilbao, Spain
March 18th – Capitol – Santiago, Spain
March 19th – Hard Club – Porto, Portugal
March 20th – RCA Club – Lisbon, Portugal
March 21st – Independance – Madrid, Spain
March 22nd – Razzmatazz – Barcelona, Spain
March 24th – Grillen – Colmar, France
March 25th – Garage – Saarbrucken, Germany
March 26th – Helvete – Oberhausen, Germany
March 27th – Felsenkeller – Leipzig, Germany

December 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Having recently ben reduced to a two-piece, you might be forgiven for expecting Yur Mum to have gone quiet, but hell no. Having only released their debut single, ‘Road Rage’ in April 2018, they’ve packed in over 200 shows since their inception and won Tom Robinson’s backing with ‘Sweatshop’, the lead single from this self-released five-tracker.

They’re a band on the up in every sense, drawing reams of positive attention and for all the right reasons: they first came to my attention in their original triangular configuration while touring ‘Road Rage’ and supporting Svetlanas, and no two ways about it, they were outstanding and more than held their own even in the company of the ferocious firestorm of the Russian headliners.

This EP doesn’t disappoint, and is the sound of an act firing on all cylinders, and it blasts off in riffy style with ‘What Do You Want?’, which tears from the speakers with all the overdrive and locks into a hefty grunging groove. There’s grit and swagger and the incendiary guitar blisters and peels while Anelise Kunz delivers a full-throated roar and thunderous bass runs.

Aforementioned single ‘Sweatshop’ starts with a churning bass reminiscent of Shellac, and then the drums drive in and they pound at it, hard, for a hard-hutting two-minutes and twenty. This is grungy punk rock at its most exhilarating.

There’s no let-up with the title track, either, and if there’s a metal-edged 90s alt-rock tinge to it, then it’s al to the good: it’s les about originality and more about delivery, and Yur Mum showcase a knack for a strong delivery. Make no mistake: they’re pretty sodding heavy, and there isn’t a second where they sacrifice weight for melody, and ‘Rotten’ goes full L7/In Utero era Nirvana with roaring angst.

‘Closure’ does finally display a softer side, and there’s a pop aspect to it – in the same way Hole’s Live Through This had a pop aspect to it, blending dynamic range and a clear sense of tune with a gut-punching rhythm section and a raw edge.

Fuck it, for my last review of the year, and of the decade, I’ll put it out there: 2020 is going to be Yur Mum’s year. And if it isn’t, then I give up.

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MamaSkull

Cruel Nature Records – 23rd November 2019

No release by a band called corpse tWitcHer was ever going to be pretty. But Bring Your Dead is next level.

The album contains only four tracks, the shortest of which, ‘Opening: The Bird’ is over eight minutes long and pitches some dark atmospherics with low, dank rumblings and mid-range scrapes that twist and taper into a soft fog of ambience with tempered chiming notes ringing out into the mist. It is but an opening, an extended introduction, which paves the way for the speaker-shredding, Sunn O)))-like devastation of ‘Of Bones & Head’ that lands the crushing low drone of guitars like a cement mixer on slow speed, blended with shrieking howl of feedback. This swirling mass of amorphous sound on sound surges and swells for a full eighteen minutes, and while its form is impossible to take a hold of as it shifts and twists, it’s a fully immersive experience. It’s possibly the closest thing to Earth 2 I’ve heard since, well, Earth 2. This is music that packs a suffocating density, and rattles the ribs as well. It vibrates the molecules while crushing the skull. It’s a painful joy, and a joyful pain.

‘A Thorough Necropsy’ grinds out a quarter of an hour of relentlessly heavy, percussion-free sludge that crawls from the speakers and wraps itself around not just your ears or body but your very soul, strangulating and suffocating with its tarry black mass. It’s in the territory whereby guitars melt into a grating morass of noise: struck chords don’t hit but instead billow into a cloud of noise so dense as to choke. There are some anguished, guttural vocals buried beneath it all, I think. It’s the sound of pain beyond words, a charred snarl from the underground. The tempest builds louder and darker around halfway through, and it’s around this point we slip off the face of the planet into another dimension. It’s bleak, but not like death or dying: this is transcendental and bleak and we’re floating in another sphere, buoyed by a sound denser than the Dead Sea.

The final cut, ‘Closing: Sutures’ sews it all up nicely with an expansive rumble of dark ambience that swirls and eddies and billows around in a formless morass of sonic fog. It rumbles around the bowels, the lungs, and the spleen. It sends shivers down the spine and a shudder over the skin. It resonates on a biological, physical level.

Bring Your Dead is heavy, intense, and unsettlingly dark, it doesn’t so much hit the mark as consume it in blackness.

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Christopher Nosnibor

It’s fitting that noisy-post-punk London duo Modern Technology should have recorded a live session at the Shacklewell Arms under the banner of Exploding Head: everything about the band to date has been explosive, from the sonic blitzkrieg of the eponymous debut EP to their growing fanbase, due to a committed live schedule which has seen them deliver some killer performances. The fact they’re thoroughly decent guys whose sociopolitical message extends beyond the lyrics and into the active donations of proceeds and profits to charitable causes hopefully counts for something, too: they’re not Bono about it: they just fucking get on and do it. and so the proceeds from this release are going to Crisis at Christmas ‘to help support the homeless during this critical time of year and to help fund and support Crisis’ vital year-round work with homelessness’.

Hearing the nihilistic fury of the music, it’s clear that this philanthropy is born almost entirely of frustration and despair at social injustice and inequality, and this six-tracker captures the live experience very well indeed, with four tracks culled from the aforementioned EP along with a brace of new cuts in the shape of ‘All is Forgiven’ and ‘Bitter End’.

It packs full-throttle viscerality from beginning to end, and two things stand out on this release: 1) the colossal noise they churn out with just bass and drums 2) how faithful to the studio renditions the EP songs are.

2) is a testament to how tight and well-rehearsed they are, with metronomic grooves holding everything together 1) is about ore than just pedals. Modern Technology do volume and appreciate that effects and all that stuff only fill so much space. Ultimately, there is no substitute for hard volume. There is a 3), as well. What’s unique about Modern Technology’s sound is that for all the thunderous density, they create a vast amount of space, and the way the air hangs between the notes, between the punishing snare hits, creates a stark, yet simultaneously oppressive atmosphere.

‘I ain’t quick, I ain’t cheap’ Chris Clarke barks on ‘Queue Jumper’, against a backdrop of tumultuous drums and a grating bass chord that sustains into infinity. It’s a simple but effective refrain that’s instantly memorable. It’s all in the delivery, of course.

The new material is monumentally dense and abrasive, with the downtuned, sinewy riffage of ‘All is Forgiven’ reminiscent of Melvins, while ‘Bitter End’ is sparse, slow and bleak and throws in a vaguely psychedelic twist in the verses, crashing into a grinding low-tempo riff for the chorus, such as it is.

One of my bands of 2019, and with dates booked for 2019 already (I may have something (ruined) of a vested interest in the February dates), Modern Technology are a band on the up because they’re a band for our times.

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Panurus Productions – 18th October 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

WHELM
verb
past tense: whelmed; past participle: whelmed
engulf, submerge, or bury.
"a swimmer whelmed in a raging storm"
well up or flow.
"the brook whelmed up from its source"

It’s funny: I’d never really considered the true meaning of ‘whelmed’, and I’ve simply used it as a blank space between under- and over- and in some vague and misguided attempt to be amusing on occasions. But the definition provides the preface to the accompanying text for this split release featuring two spectacularly abstruse purveyors of gnarly noise, the latter of the two acts featuring Panurus head honcho (and indeed solo honcho) James Watts with grunts and growls.

The moment I clapped eyes on the name Bodies on Everest it lodged in my brain s one of the best band names going. There are thought to be currently around 200 unrecovered bodies on the world’s highest mountain, and it doesn’t take much searching of the Internets to find a library of images of frozen corpses. As such, the name isn’t only gruesome but highly visual in its connotations. And it’s also incredibly fitting:

Talk about a mammoth build… BoE’s first track, ‘My Mother in the Mountains Affects My Gym Coat at Work’ is a sprawling twenty-minute behemoth that starts gently, atmospherically, musically, with a strolling bass and takes its time to swell into the blistering, raging racket it winds up as, first growing in volume before ultimately being buried beneath the most agonising deluge of extraneous noise. And it’s a glorious tsunami of noise that they bring, with the vocals – and there aren’t many – howled, anguished – buried in the wall of noise as screaming feedback howls over the thunderous bass – it’s around twelve minutes in that I realise that said bassline has maybe only two notes – that grows evermore agitated. And in the end it all collapses into a churning squall of feedback and contact hum.

‘Can Ghosts See Dogs’ brings muffled samples of dialogue into the mix before bringing the gnarly noise centres around a low-slung bass churning out a repetitive groove, over which there’s some psychotic yelling, and‘(Yes)’ follows a similar format, but places the emphasis on loping rums, at least until the bowel-shaking bass loop slithers in at half speed and the percussion recedes.

Th fifteen-minute ‘Kicking my Landlord’ Head In’ goes punky postpunk grind groove while at the same time not exactly deviating from the formula, and it’s every bit as brutal as the title suggests, calling to mind Head of David’s HODICA racketfest.

Lump hammer aren’t a band who provide calm or contrast, serving up five tumultuous compositions built on gut-churning noise. Where do you take such a brutal, squalling grind of bass and drums paired with roaring vocal that veers between growling guttural and howling demonic throat-ruining screams? There’s no answer, really. Lump Hammer are also appropriately named, delivering a brutal bludgeoning in lieu of anything tuneful. The bass dominates the sludge mess, and it is a mess, an overloaded deluge of distortion from which it’s difficult to decipher, well, anything much.

‘Pigfish’ is the first, and clocks in at under three squalling minutes, before they settle into the six- or seven-minute zone. Each track is a lumbering sludgefest, tortured and torturous. Yes, it is all unintelligible raw-throated howling against a backdrop of rumbling bass, crashing rum and discordant guitars. And that’s everything that’ ace about it.

‘Tired’ pairs things back a looong way, trudging through a sparse space while he crawling ‘Manual Labour’ pounds away at a crawl that lands between early Swans and early Godflesh, with a dash of early Pitchshifer thrown in. It’s heavy, for sure.

Closer ‘FFS’ stretches the underlying formula out for almost eighteen minutes. Amidst the bass / guitar sludge that sounds like the grind and scrape of earthworks and some vocals where there are almost decipherable words. Almost. It’s a truly purgatorial noise and fifteen minutes feels like forever at 35 BPM.

This is dingy, dirgy, heavy, and utterly punishing. As such it may be a perverse pleasure, but a pleasure nonetheless.

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New Heavy Sounds – 11th October 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Cold in Berlin’s evolution has followed a fairly steady but swift arc: having emerged in 2010 with the spiky attack that was Give Me Walls, Rituals of Surrender represents their fourth album. That’s a respectable work rate, and over that time they’ve remained true to their dark, post-punk gothy roots, but have become progressively slower and heavier, the guitars growing sludgier, doomier.

In musical circles, there is always a ‘new strain’ emerging, even if said strain is a revisioning of an older strain. Not so long ago, it was post-punk revivalism, then there was a vintage heavy metal return, which in turn spawned the emergence of a stoner / doom / sludge hybrid. Cold in Berlin, having crashed in on the post-punk tidal wave are now more closely aligned to another more niche strain of the latter, namely colossally heavy female-fronted bands who bring an ethereal and emotive aspect to the sludgy / stoner / heavy template. Is it lazy journalism to bracket Cold in Berlin’s latest offering alongside Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and the last couple of albums by Chelsea Wolfe? Perhaps, but the references are at least instructive in terms of establishing a certain thread of stylistic commonality. But for every similarity, there are equal differences, and Cold in Berlin are most definitely a unique proposition in the way they balance the instrumental heft with Maya’s powerful vocals.

The album gets straight down to business with ‘The Power,’ which prefaced the arrival back in early September, accompanied by an appropriately moody, horror-hinting video. The bass and guitar grate and saw in unison over a slow tribal march. The tension builds and breaks in a landslide to a mammoth chorus.

The nine tracks on Rituals are heavy – plenty heavy – with some killer riffs. But that weight and the overloading overdrive is not at the expense of accessibility: the songs are clearly structured and benefit from strong and defined choruses.

Lyrically, the album is strewn with funereal imagery of death and decay, coffins and caskets, yet somehow manages to avoid cliché. The songs also pour anguish. ‘There is grief that tastes good in your mouth / there is grief that takes years to scrub out / There is darkness buried beneath my skin / there is darkness at the heart of everything’, Maya sings, pained, at the start of ‘Avalanche’ against a sparse sonar-like bass boom and a weeping drone of feedback before the drums and power chords come crashing in with crushing force. Can there be onomatopoeic instrumentation? If so, Cold in Berlin have mastered it, the pulverizing

The ritual aspect of surrender is never far from range: ‘You could string her up / you could string her up her body’s a temple for your love’ Maya sings commandingly on ‘Temples’ against a thunderous grind of heavily distorted guitars. Elsewhere, ‘Monsters’ is tense, intense, and grand, drama radiating from every note, and Rituals of Surrender is outstanding in its consistency.

Blending hefty riffology with full-lunged brooding, Rituals of Surrender sees Cold in Berlin occupy the space between doom and goth, emerging like Sabbath fronted by Siouxsie. And they do it so well: this could well be their definitive album.

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Cold in Beerlin - Rituals