Posts Tagged ‘Heavy’

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a long time. An insanely long time. Apart from a brief spell where there were a handful of seated gigs on offer around August of last year, live music has been off the menu for the best – or worst – part of sixteen months, and a long, torturous sixteen months it’s been for so many of us – not least of all those whose livelihoods depend on it, but also for those of us who find comfort and catharsis in the experience, a few hours’ escape from the grind of daily life.

I haver to confess having anxietised over the prospect of attending my first live show since August 2020, since which time I’ve barely set foot in a pub or anywhere really, having been working from home since forever. Less fearful of Covid, more of social situations in general, fearful I’d lost the little social skill I had from before, I simply wasn’t sure what to expect, and the worst fear is the fear of the unknown, and this had perhaps tempered my immense excitement.

In the end, it transpired I needn’t have worried, and everything was nicely managed at the Victoria Vaults. They’ve moved the bar since I was last there, and the refit works well in making for a significantly bigger gig space and next to no bottlenecks, plus the bar staff were friendly and attentive with their table service – which was perhaps as well, because it was sweltering and needed to maintain a flow of cold cider.

Sitting just feet from a real drum kit with my shoulder against a PA stack felt great, and simply being back in that environment brought a great joy. Then there was the lineup: one of the last shows I’d seen, back in January 2020 had featured both My Wonderful Daze and Redfyrn. Both had impressed then, and given reason to come back for more. Although, of course, January 2020 feels like another life.

With King Orange having dropped off the bill without explanation, it’s a later start with Redfyrn straight on and straight in, with the power trio kicking out hefty blues-based grungy heavy rock with a sludgy/stoner vibe, driven hard by some crunchy 5-string bass. Cat Redfern’s soaring vocals are at times almost folksy, and contrast with the hefty lumbering riffs. Collectively, they’re tight, the songs textured and dynamic. There’s a lot of cymbal, but some proper heavy-hitting drum work and the sludgy sound is both steeped in 70s vintage and contemporary influence, resulting in some solid swinging grooves. The mix could have perhaps done with more guitar, but then I was sitting in front of the bass amp and about six feet from the drum kit. Closer ‘Unreal’ has bounce and grit and groove and is a solid as. The band were clearly pleased to be on stage again, and it came through in a spirited performance.

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Redfyrn

My Wonderful Daze’s singer Flowers may be feeling and looking a shade off colour but is in fine voice and all the better once she’s taken her boots off at least for a while. The band bring more big, lumbering riffs, and any concern they may have been rusty after the time out proves to be unfounded, because they’re tight – and loud. They bring all the rage early in the set, coming on more Pretty on the Inside – era Hole than Live Through This, more Solar Race than L7. It’s not long before she’s sitting down to sing because she’s dizzy, and yet still fucking belts out the angst, and despite visibly struggling throughout, it doesn’t affect things sonically: the band don’t just play on, but continue to give it their all. Watching this set really brings home just how hard bands work to do what they do. The slow-burning ‘Dust’ is something of an epic that’s emotionally rich and transitions from a gentle chime to some simmering power chords with some audience participation clapping to aid the build.

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My Wonderful Daze

They announce apologetically that they’re cutting set short to skipped to encore song Tommy for fear of fainting, but it’s a valiant effort and the right choice, although Flowers didn’t make it past the first verse before rushing from the stage. The rest of the band finish the song – and the set – with force, and all the credit to them for their consummate professionalism. Both bands did themselves truly proud, and delivered a great night, and hopefully the first of many.

Two decades into their journey as ritualistic black metal conjurers, Wolves In The Throne Room have emerged from the forest with Primordial Arcana, their most majestic album to date, and their first release via Century Media Records (outside of USA and Canada) and Relapse Records (USA and Canada) out August 20th.

After releasing a first taste with “Mountain Magick” in June the band has just launched “Spirit of Lightning” including a special visualiser that is diving deeper into the aesthetics of Primordial Arcana. Yet again the clip was produced by Wolves In The Throne Room.

Check the clip here:

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16th July 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

One of my mates enjoys expounding on the opinion that all band names are inherently and fundamentally crap, at least when taken on face value and interrogated for their meanings and connotations. He invariably takes it back to The Beatles – a shockingly bad pun if ever there was one, and I would have to say that point is hard to argue. It’s not even especially clever.

Any band with a one-word name prefixed with ‘the’ is, unquestionably terrible (even allowing for the fact that The Melvins is purposefully bad), and existing and acts who’ve added a definite article have gone rapidly downhill on doing so – take The Offspring, for example. But maybe not so much The Verve, because they were gash to begin with, with their overblown, flappy indie shoegaze flailings.

Recently, we discussed Death by Unga Bunga and Ender Bender, and unanimously agreed that they were both terrible names. But then, objectively, pretty much every band name – even your favourite – is poor and difficult to defend.

But we were divided over Weston Super Maim, which he deemed a bit shit, and which, objectively, is based on a terrible half pun that only UK residents and only then a percentage will grasp. But, despite knowing this, I can’t help but find amusement and a certain admiration for it and the audacity.

Their latest offering, the 180-Degree Murder EP isn’t so much a source of amusement, but more of a brutal industrial battering. Tom Stevens (All Of Space, Brown Stratos) teams up with US-based Seth Detrick of Los Angeles thrash outfit PDP to handle vocal duties. It’s an EP in the 80s tradition, where two tracks too long for a 7” would make up a 12” release. The two tracks on offer here both extend beyond the six-minute mark and pack all the punch.

It’s been a long time in the making, as the press release details: ‘Written as a single track, 180-Degree Murder traverses caveman heaviness, tech-driven grooves and shifting melodic patterns to create an immersive experience that rewards multiple listens. The writing process for the EP began in 2019. By the time the pandemic hit, an early instrumental draft had already been recorded, but it wasn’t until Detrick joined the project in June 2020 that things really began to take shape. Making use of extra time at home in London during the first UK lockdown, Stevens retracked instruments for the EP at his home studio while Detrick developed lyrical ideas and vocal patterns from his home in Eugene, Oregon. Vocal tracking was completed in early 2021, and the mix not long thereafter.’

‘180 Degree Murder’ is a cacophony of hard slabs plus squalling bleeping fretwork, roaring, ground-razing vocals and an air of explosive violence as guttural roars set against the most pulverising of riffs. Strapping Young Lad is the comparison that comes to mind, but then there’s also the relentless mechanised industrial blast of Wiseblood and Swans that’s also hard to ignore. Oh yes, this is hard and heavy, alright.

‘We Need to Talk About Heaven’ offers a graceful intro and the breaks are remarkably light and melodic in context, but the chug never stops, and cuts loose into violent distortion-driven fury at precisely those crucial points, and it’s not for wimps. In fact, it may only be some fifteen-and-a-bit minutes in duration, but 180 Degree Murder is a savage and brutal affair.

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Southern Lord – 25th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Twenty years is a long time. But that’s how long it’s been since Iceburn last graced us with new material. The shifting collective, primarily operative between 1990 and 2001 reconvened in 2007, with this current lineup again at the core.

As the band’s bio summarises, ‘The band’s initial output slowly evolved from hardcore and metal to free improvisation and noise. The 10 year arc saw the band following their own path and becoming more and more obscure as they got deeper into unknown musical worlds. By 2000 the cycle seemed complete and Iceburn did their final tour in Europe 2001. In 2007 this early core crew reunited to play a local anniversary show focused on the earliest material. Every few years since they would get together for another ‘reunion’ until that word became more of a joke, it was clear the band was back, getting together every week, and working on new material.’

And here it is: two truly megalithic tracks, each spanning the best part of twenty minutes, and packing them densely with some hard-hitting, churning, trudging, sludgy riffs.

This is some heavy, doomy, din: the riffs are Sabbath as filtered via Melvins, and let’s face it – Sabbath may have invented heavy metal, but it was Melvins who reinvented it with that gnarly, stoner twist and all the sludge.

It’s about halfway through the eighteen-minute ‘Healing the Ouroburous’ that things take a bit of a crazy turn. The lead riffing steps up to next-level flamboyant and I’m starting to think ‘this is maybe a bit much’. It’s not just that it’s technical, it’s just a bit fretwanky, even a bit Thin Lizzy, like ‘Whisky in the Jar’ jammed for fifteen minutes at a gig with three local support bands for a minor-league headliner – but then they pull it back and we’re returned to slow, lumbering territory. If there’s a brief burst where it sounds a bit Alice In Chains, it’s forgivable, because within the obvious genre framework, Iceburn bring in so much to expand the limits of convention, and it’s refreshing, especially from a band with so much history. It would have been so easy for them to just turn out a brace of droning riff beasts where not a lot happens, and no doubt they would have been lauded for their return to form and their place in the underground canon, but… well bollocks to that. Then there are the vocal – shifting between a low growl and some quite melodic moments, but all kept low in the mix.

‘Dahlia Rides the Firebird’ is another absolute bloody behemoth, a collision of Earth and Melvins, and a real slow-burner that takes suspense to a point near the limit. It takes three minutes before it even begins to take form, and then lumbers like some giant Cretaceous riff-lizard – one with big, swinging riff knackers at that. Yes, this has some swagger, and it builds, and it builds… The monster crunching riff that crashes in to punch hard in the last five minutes more than justifies the wait. When it lands, it’s absolutely fucking colossal.

Asclepius is a statement, and one which informs us that Iceburn are forward-facing and aren’t looking to recreate the past or retread old ground just to please people. And that in itself should please enough people, because this is so, so solid.

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Following the announcement that the new Darkthrone album, Eternal Hails, is to be released on 25th June, the band have premiered “Hate Cloak” – the first and only track to be revealed ahead of the album’s release. The 9min 17 seconds, Fenriz penned, hallowed epic “Hate Cloak” is steeped in the majestic thunder of vintage heavy doom metal. Fenriz comments “Hate Cloak is certainly the slowest song on the album, there are plenty of “fast" parts on Ted’s songs, middle tempos and slow as well. The whole point of us having long songs is variation in tempos/pace, hence the epicness”

Watch ‘hate Cloak’ here:

Eternal Hails will be released on Peaceville on 25th June

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The press email landed with the leader: ‘UK based, anti-facist black metallers Underdark have announced details on their debut album  Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re-Entry which is set for release on 30th July via Surviving Sounds (UK), Through Love Records (EU) and Tridroid Records (US/CAN).’

In a  time where the outgoing US president identified antifa as ‘the enemy’, we here at Aural Aggro are proud to back and provide coverage to any act with an expressly anti-fascist agenda – although it does also help if they produce good noise, and Underdark most definitely do.

After forming in 2015, Nottingham based black metallers Underdark are finally ready to present their debut album to the world. Following their recent ‘Plainsong​/With Bruised & Bloodied Feet’ single release in 2020, ‘Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re-Entry’ is the sound of a new chapter of Underdark, set for release on 30th July via Surviving Sounds (UK), Through Love Records (EU) and Tridroid Records (US/CAN).

While still utilising a dreamlike and heavy mixture of black-metal, post-metal and shoegaze, Underdark’s debut album also packs a renewed punch alongside a ferocity and intensity matched only by the innovative and engaging song structures.

Recorded & mixed with Misha Herring at Holy Mountain Studio (40 Watt Sun, Inhuman Nature, Idles, Spiritualised, Puppy) & mastered by Adam Gonsalves at Telegraph Mastering (Emma Ruth Rundle, Southern Lord Records, Power Trip, Mizmor), the album captures five tracks of intense & emotional progressive compositions, not limited by genre to create a tidal wave of sound; that shift in emotions, drowning you between sections of crushing blast beats and ear splitting vocals to blissful, atmospheric soundscapes that engulf you within them.

On first single ‘Coyotes’ vocalist Abi comments,

“THE ALBUM IS READY. You thought we were dead. At times, we thought we might be too, but we’re here, we’re (mostly) alive, and this is  COYOTES. It’s one of the first songs I wrote in Underdark and it’s about the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the Mexico/US border. Hope you’re as stoked on it as we are.”

Listen to ‘Coyotes’ here:

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Year of No Light have shared the harrowing new video for ‘Réalgar’, written and directed by Corentin Schieb, Mathias Averty & Célia Le Goaziou. The track, described by the band as, ‘a mineral dive in the interzone, a journey between several realities and a confrontation with our inner demons’, is taken from their new album “Consolamentum” set for release via Pelagic Records on 2nd July. Watch the video now:

Pelagic Records are releasing not only their new album “Consolamentum” but also a wooden box set, to celebrate the band’s 20th anniversary, containing their entire discography of 5 studio albums, several split EPs, and the collaboration with Belgian composer Dirk Serries from the ‘Live At Roadburn’ recordings, on 12 vinyl records.

YEAR OF NO LIGHT’s lengthy, sprawling compositions of towering walls of guitars and sombre synths irradiate a sense of dire solemnity and spiritual gravity, and couldn’t be a more fitting soundtrack for such grim medieval scenarios. But there is also the element of absolution, regeneration, elevation, transcendence in the face of death. Consolamentum is dense, rich and lush and yet somehow feels starved and deprived.

It comes as no surprise that ever since the beginning of their career, the band have had an obsession for the fall of man and salvation through darkness. The term “consolamentum” describes the sacrament, the initiation ritual of the Catharic Church, which thrived in Southern Europe in the 12th – 14th century – a ritual that brought eternal austereness and immersion in the Holy Spirit.

“There’s a thread running through all of our albums”, says the band, collectively “an exploration of the sensitive world that obeys a certain telos, first fantasized ("Nord") and reverberated ("Ausserwelt"), then declaimed as a warning ("Tocsin"). The deeper we dig, the more the motifs we have to unveil appear to us. Yes, it’s a bit gnostic. This album is invoked after the Tocsin, it’s the epiphany of the Fall”.

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Nadja reveal another track "Starres" from their forthcoming album Luminous Rot, which shall be released on CD and DL formats via Southern Lord on 21st May, with the LP version arriving on 13th August. Luminous Rot pre-orders are live from today, and info can be found on the Southern Lord store, Southern Lord Europe store and via Bandcamp.

About the track and video Nadja comments, "Starres is about both inner- and outerspace, a conflation of the internal neural-network of the human brain with the external cosmos, and how the act of observation might alter those, both from the viewpoint of the observer and the one observed. The video attempts to replicate something of that feeling of cognitive dissonance in the observer, taking a mundane image of houses and warping them, both through reflective filming and digital effects."

Watch the video here:

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(image by by Janina Gallert)

Miasmah Recordings – 16th April 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

It was the heavyweight score of his debut album, Hold, that provided my introduction to the work of James Welburn, and very much piqued my interest – because in some way, sonically at least, it seems I like to be published. Almost six years to the year on, Welburn delivers another immensely heavy set with Sleeper in the Void.

According to the accompanying blurb, the album ‘feels like a story in two parts, rising lethargically, but with gargantuan power. The second begins with the momentous In and out of Blue, where Juliana Venter’s disembodied, spectral dirge takes center stage among the furious drums and bassy riffs, reaching a full crescendo with seconds to go. Parallel marks a release – Hilde Marie Holsen’s nostalgic soundscapes, pristine as glass, meeting the distant thunder of Welburn’s strings on the horizon. And finally, Fast Moon ends the record in a most surprising way – a tribal industrialized banger, complete with vile distorted beats and every other spice in demand on a blackened dancefloor.’

It’s intense from the outset, and ‘Raze’ is anything but lethargic. It begins with a modestly middling dark ambient drone, but before long, pattering drums are hammering like machine-gun fire and whipping up a frenzy while all around the drones increase in volume and intensity until there’s a veritable cyclone of sound raging all about. The experience is dizzying, suffocating.

The percussion is again punishing on ‘Falling from Time’, but while the sound is still dense and murky, the thundering rhythm, is far more mechanised, more industrial, thudding in a furious frenzy amidst an impenetrable smog of sound. The tempo is fast, and it’s relentless: you could perhaps even dance to it, although that’s not so much my thing: instead, I found my pulse accelerating and a glow of perspiration as the tension grows. Finally, the synths break into a softer swirl, although there are ominous tones eddying around as the drums finally peter out and it’s finally possible to catch your breath and compose yourself. It’s but a brief respite before crushing percussion crashes in on the doomy dirge of the title track: stuttering, stop-start detonations cut through the shoegaze on ketamine crawl of the blurred blizzard of extraneous noise.

Julia Ventner’s vocal on ‘In and Out of Blue’ and ‘Fast Moon’ (the latter of which is a grating, bulbous bass-driven beast of a cut that loops and lunged in a trill of treble and a crackle of fizzing distortion) are haunting, ghostly, and pitched against the lurching cacophony of drums and juddering blasts of noise that hit like a taser to the abdomen, it’s not only a contrast and a change of atmosphere her presence brings, but a new level of trembling intensity.

Sleeper in the Void unquestionably makes an evolution for Welburn: while incorporating many of the same elements fundamentally, their application is quite different on Sleeper in the Void in comparison to its predecessor. The basslines are less overtly structured, and Sleeper in the Void sees Welburn move further from any loose conventions of ‘rock’ toward something more abstract. It may be less direct, less bludgeoning, less reminiscent of early Swans, but it’s certainly no less intense or powerful, and it’s still dense and percussion-driven. If anything, the greater sense of nuance and Welburn’s expanded palette only amplify its menacing resonance, making Sleeper in the Void an album that may be challenging, but achieves optimum impact.

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