Posts Tagged ‘Heavy’

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

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There are rituals surrounding all acts of surrender; the strange dance we perform before the many endings scattered throughout our lives, before the next beginning rises from the dust. Cold in Berlin’s new album Rituals of Surrender, released on 11th October via London label New Heavy Sounds, offers up thunderous modern fables, crawling from the wreckage of an ordinary life – dark and hopeful – standing tall in the debris.

With new single ’The Power’, Cold in Berlin return with a dark slab of gothic doom just in time to soundtrack a burning world, which they describe as, ‘dark, black and infinitely heavy’. Listen now:

BIG | BRAVE share the first full track ‘Sibling’ from their incoming album, A Gaze Among Them (Southern Lord, 10th May) by way of a brilliant video by Mathieu Ball & Robin Wattie.

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.

The same principles are the starting point for the new album, only the approach is different, beginning with the question "How do we take very little and make something bigger than what we actually have?" vocalist and guitarist Robin Wattie explains further "the biggest challenge was to not do what is easiest. i.e. what we knew worked for the last albums or what is, for us, easy to write. With A Gaze Among Them, Mathieu and I put ourselves through the ringer – I did not want to do what seemed to me to be a ‘logical next step’ in what we could do musically. I wanted to go back to our original concepts and work from there – space, tension, minimalism and voice (finding melody and musicality in pieces that consist of one note for longer than ten minutes, for example) were the primary concentrations I wanted to push."

In the process of revisiting their early intentions, BIG | BRAVE have boldly evolved, emerging with a thrilling new body of work that is all at once refreshingly new, explosively heavy, dynamically loud, beautifully minimal, carefully repetitive, and totally and utterly cathartic. 

A Gaze Among Them features Robin Wattie (vocals, electric guitar, guitar amp, bass amp), Mathieu Ball (electric guitar, guitar amps) and Loel Campbell (drums) with guest appearances from Thierry Amar (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt Zion) on Contrabass and Seth Manchester‘s synth overdubs. The album was recorded with Seth Manchester at Machine with Magnets in Pawtucket Rhode Island.

The beautiful image adorning the cover (created by Robin Wattie) further demonstrates that BIG | BRAVE have blossomed. The trio sound rejuvenated and confident, and A Gaze Among Them is the sound of a band truly honing their craft, and feeling totally satisfied with it.  Compelling. Necessary. Important.

Watch the video here:

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BIG | BRAVE LIVE DATES WITH MYDISCO:

16/05 DE Nurnberg Kantine *venue change

17/05 DE Berlin Urban Spree

18/05 PL Poznan LAS

19/05 CZ Prague Altenburg 1964

21/05 NL Haarlem Patronaat

22/05 BE Antwerp Kavka

23/05 FR Lille La Bulle Café

24/05 UK Bristol Rough Trade

25/05 UK London Raw Power

26/05 UK Glasgow Stereo *new addition

27/05 UK Newcastle The Cluny

28/05 UK Brighton East Street Tap *new addition

29/05 FR Paris Instants Chavirés

30/05 BE Brussels Magasin 4

31/05 DE Mannheim JUZ *new addition

01/06 CH Winterthur Gaswerk

03/06 DE Wurzburg Cairo

04/06 DE Hamburg Schute

05/06 SWE Malmo Plan B *new addition

07/06 SWE Gothenborg Skjul Fyra Sex *new addition

08/06 SWE Stockholm Slaktkyrkan *new addition

Details of US tour dates with Dreadnought & Primitive Man can be found here.

Big Brave

Swiss progressive sludge outfit Herod who released new album Sombre Dessein last week through Pelagic Records have shared a new video for the crushing track ‘Silent Truth’. 

Herod have arisen from the ever- prosperous Swiss music scene. Throughout their young 4 years of presence, they have already shared the stage with such acts as Gojira, Crowbar, The Ocean, Carcass, Obituary, Napalm Death and Voivod – Attesting their repute as the bus boy’s of King Herod, serving up whole sides of rare riffs, disposition, beauty and authority.

The band comment,

“’Silent Truth’ is the last video clip from Sombre Dessein to be released and it is the first “lyric video” for the band. We decided to make a lyric video for ‘Silent Truth’ because it summarizes the concept of Sombre Dessein. Our Judaeo-Christian and thermo-industrial civilisation will eventually come to end and be replaced by another civilisation – It has always been on the cards. 
Our civilization has values no more.

Civilisations have always been founded/established by the power and assistance of war. We live in a critical moment in history where only a few humans ready to die for their beliefs can put a powerful nation on their knees. Who would die today for a smartphone or a couch?! We are exhausted and immersed in our own inertia; we have nihilism but no fervour anymore.”

Watch it here:

Herod will also be touring Europe in March + April with The Ocean:

13/03 – DE, Stuttgart – Im Wizemann

14/03 – CH, Geneva – PTR/ L’Usine

15/03 – FR, Lyon – CCO

16/03 – FR, Toulouse – Rex

17/03 – FR, Marseilles – Les Pennes Mirabeau

18/03 – FR, Colmar – Le Grillen

19/03 – FR, Bethune – Le Poche

20/03 – UK, Birmingham – Mama Roux

21/03 – IR, Limerick – Dolan’s Warehouse

22/03 – IR, Dublin – Voodoo Lounge

23/03 – UK, Glasgow – Audio

24/03 – UK, Leeds – Brudenell Social Club

25/03 – BE, Antwerp – Trix

26/03 – NL, Den Haag – Paard

27/03 – DE, Cologne – Club Volta

28/03 – DE, Leipzig – Werk 2

29/03 – PL, Poznan – U Bazyla

30/03 – DE, Bremen – Tower

31/03 – DE, Hamburg – Logo

02/04 – SE, Stockholm – Fryhuset, Klubben

03/04 – SE, Gothenburg – Tradgarn

06/04 – NO, Stavangar – Folken

07/04 – NO, Hamar – Gregers

08/04 – DK, Copenhagen – Vega

…and we’ll be down the front in Leeds!

Neurot Recordings – 15th March 2019

James Wells

They probably started off with perfect hearing, but a couple of sessions rehearsing this cacophonous melange at infinite decibels would soon put paid to that. Monastic chorals meet Sunn O))) with the wordless vocal drones that build sinister spirituals that echo into eternity on ‘Vox Dei’, the opening piece on the colossal noise fest that is Metaprogramação by Brazilian act Deafkids. And then all hell breaks loose: ‘Alucinações de Comando’ is a blizzard of lasers, manic percussion, and messed-up vocals echoed to infinity. The overall result comes on like listening to Whitehouse duetting with Dr Mix from across the street.

Metaprogramação is an insane work. Seriously: where are their heads at? Thrumming bass bounces around on the dubby, experimental electro-ish ‘Pacto de Màscaras’, while ‘Mente Bicamerel’ packs a dirty, amped-up groove as it pounds away at a single riff motif – albeit with the occasional chord omission – for what feels like a very long time, but is actually only four and a half minutes. This isn’t to say it’s arduous, but recognises the rewards of repetition.

All of the aforementioned come together on ‘Templo de Caos’, a frenetically drum-driven riot of echoed vocals, grating bottom-end and stun guitars, while ‘Raíz Negativa (Não-Vontade)’ is a mess of murk, with everything as muddy as hell, and even more oppressive as they crank out a repetitive cyclical chord sequence on bass and guitar, while the vocals are more or less lost in the fog. Then again, ‘Vírus da Imagem do Ser’ goes full-on thrash, a hypercharges blur of crusty grind.

Ending in a short, sharp blast of white noise, there isn’t a moment to breathe here. I’ve no idea what the fuck it’s about, but it’s a sonic blitzkrieg that’s nothing like anything else going.

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Deafkids – Metaprogramação

Christopher Nosnibor

It may only be nine minutes on foot from the station according to Google Maps, but despite having probably been maybe twenty or even thirty times, I still find myself struggling to find it, even with GPS assistance. I have no idea why: it’s like I have some kind of mental block, or the venue has some kind of cloaking device that blocks my internal geographical radar. And so I’m disproportionately pleased when I find myself within yards of the venue without taking a single wrong turn. And then I remember the bar doesn’t take cars, and despite having intended to get cash at York station, then Leeds station, then en route, I’ve sailed past all of the cashpoints and only have about four quid on me. Even with beer at £2.80 a pint, I might be a bit thirsty at the end of the night.

I still make it back, with cash, before doors, and they’re not quite done soundchecking. The fact I’m considering plugging up just for the soundcheck brings a small buzz of anticipation: we’re here for some hefty riffage, and it’s best experienced at an appropriate volume. If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not loud enough.

Leeds drums and bass duo Calm are an interesting proposition on paper, consisting of John Sutcliffe from Canvas, Humanfly, Kings, Natterers, and Paul Handley from The Plight, Kings and Ladies Night. In the flesh they’re interesting, too: at the opening, oscillating sequenced synth lines bubble along beneath woozy bass before the distortion crashes I like a tidal wave of sludge. The drums are more energetic than the low-BPM grind of the chords. Structurally, the compositions are segmented and almost sound like three or four pieces glued together, but the transitions make for a set that holds the attention well, and as Sutcliffe, on drums, intones mystical droning incantations into a sea of reverb against a wall of low-end that sends vibrations through my steel-toed boots, the experience takes on an almost spiritual quality.

Calm

Calm

A Headless Horse bring a much more sedate atmosphere with mellow female vocals and delicately layered, meticulously structured songs. Their songs are keenly focused on texture and melody. In contrast to Calm and the rest of the lineup, there’s significantly less weight, and less emphasis on volume overall: that isn’t to say they’re quiet, but when they bring in the riffs, they’re not obliterative, but simply denser. Comparisons aren’t everything, but The Cure and Cranes provide fair touchstones here, and Headless Horse demonstrate that they’re capable of delivering mathy post-rock with emotional resonance. Given that this is only their second outing, they show a lot of promise.

A Headless Horse

A Headless Horse

There’s a proliferation of beards tonight, and Dystopian Future Movies are very much a beard band (singer / guitarist Catherine Cawley clearly excepted). They’re also a very much an atmospheric band, and a band who exploit the dynamics of volume to optimal effect, as abundantly demonstrated by the choppy stop/start lumbering riff of ‘Dulled Guilt’ which opens the set powerfully. Their description of themselves as ‘taking a Sonic Youth approach but arriving at some dark place between Neurosis and Chelsea Wolfe’ is pretty accurate, and they pull the listener in with slow-burning ethereality that yields to punishing riffery, without at any time falling into the trap of formula.

Dystopian Futuere Movies

Dystopian Future Movies

This four-date joint tour sees DFM and Grave Lines unveil a collaborative / split EP, and they’re joined on stage by Jake Harding for a killer rendition of ‘Beholden, which begins a brooding whisper, almost folky in feel, before erupting into thunderous power chords The vocal duet is magnificent: the two singers intertwine with Hardin’s baritone croon underpinning Cawley’s graceful, evocatively gothic intonation to conclude a mesmerising set.

Grave Lines stand out as being very much different from their peers by virtue of the exploration of extended quiet passages that are as much dark folk as post-anything, while exploiting tropes commonly associated with post-rock. This imbues the songs with a palpable emotional depth, and when they crash in with the u-to-eleven distortion, it hits hard.

With ragged hair and beard, wrists and shoes wrapped in grubby shreds of bandage, and a dingy off-white vest, Jake Harding cuts a dramatic and tortured figure as he spews anguish and nihilistic fury, his body tense and wracked, over low, slow sludginess; then again, guitarist Oli, with Alan More hair and beard and sporting a torso so tatood as to appear to be wearing a heavily patterned shirt brings a stoic intensity that’s in stark contrast to the laid-back drumming of Julia Owen, who has an airy style of playing that belies the force with which she delivers stick on skin.

Grave Lines 2Grave Lines

Grave Lines

And yet it’s when Harding ceases words and spits a guttural ‘urrggh’ that most succinctly articulates all the pain and frustration the band channels.

Caroline from Dystopian Future Movies returns the favour of providing additional vocals on Grave Lines’ contribution to the new EP, the epic ‘False Flame’, and they take things right down for the penultimate track of a remarkably concise – but suitably hard-hitting – set with the minimal ‘Loathe / Disgrace’, pairing a droning organ sound which quavers against a vulnerable, melancholic vocal performance.

My notes blur to nothing as the band drive the set home with crushing force with ‘The Greave’. And in this high-volume release lies the uplifting joy of catharsis.

7th January 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

I like Modern Technology before I’ve even heard a note. Drummer Owen approached me through Facebook having clocked Aural Aggravation with a link to the East London duo’s debut EP. Most bands starting out want to get on the radar, and get some cash back for the hard graft they’ve put in trying to get to the point of putting music out into the public domain, especially as a physical release – and this comes in limited-to-200 clear vinyl in addition to the digital version – but they’re donating all profits between Mind and Shelter, perhaps two of the most vital charities in the age of austerity.

I may not have written much about the plight of the homeless, although the fact we have a massive problem here in Britain right now requires no qualification, but I have touched on mental health on more than one occasion here in the past. The oft-shared statistics are just statistics, but in my day-job (yes, I work for a multinational who deal in insurance and investments, because, incredibly reviewing bands no-one’s heard of and writing books no-one reads doesn’t pay the bills) I’m often required to step out of my role to help people and to listen to people. They all have trouble. They’re all stressed. They’re all anxietised. Some are depressed. I know how they feel, and they know it. It really is good to talk. No, not just good: vital. This is my daily reality. So the fact that the bulk of CD I get sent for review which I don’t choose to keep end up at my local Mind charity shop is just something I do. Because it’s important to do what you can, right?

According to their bio, Modern Technology formed through ‘a shared frustration of the post-truth society and political unrest that is currently suffocating our global conscious’. The one positive of political turbulence is the spur to creativity: it’s no coincidence that that post-punk emerged during the Thatcher era, and it’s fair to say that the parallels between then and now are strong. One major difference now, however, is that it’s practically impossible to sign on and form a band: zero-hours contracts and the benefits system mean that even looking for work is a full-time job, and the economics of making music simply don’t stack favourably. But regardless of economics, all that shit has to go somewhere. You need to process. You need to vent. Modern Technology sound like a band who are doing this not for fun, but because they need to.

The EP’s opener provides a theme tune of sorts: entitled ‘Modern Technology’, it launches with an ear-shredding blast of splintering noise, before pulverizing drums, grating bass and squalling feedback hammer out a sonic landslide of a backdrop to a hollering vocal, half-lost in an avalanche of reverb. Christ! They’ve got the savagery of early Head of David coupled with the goth-noise mania of The Birthday Party.

It certainly sets the tone and tempo: ‘Project Fear’ is two minutes of overloading, distorted fury that makes optimal use of lo-fi production values for maximum impact. It hits like a punch in the guts. Deciphering the lyrics isn’t easy and at times is pretty much impossible, but the sentiment is more than adequately conveyed by the medium. Besides, the titles speak for themselves in many respects, as they take the most mundane aspects of contemporary capitalist living and attack them with shuddering sonic barrages. Shades of psych filter through the scuzzed-up tumult of no-wave noise. And deep from within that sonic cyclone screams the painful truth: everything is fucked.

When they do slow it down, as on the grinding ‘Select Retail’, they bring out the brooding theatricality and highlight the depthlessness and superficiality of consumerism with the blank slogan / refrain ‘Select retail / reject detail’. But then they also do choppy, bass-led Shellac-tinged angularity on ‘Queue Jumper’. Closer ‘Modern Detritus’ distils every last ounce of frustration and compresses it into a dense roar of thunder.

Modern Technology are the real deal: this isn’t music being made with one eye on a commercial ticket, but music that’s born out of compulsion, the urge to purge. It’s art. It’s raw, it’s visceral, it’s painful. And in expressing the agony of frustration, it’s perfect.

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