Posts Tagged ‘Intense’

Loyal Blood Records – 9th December 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

When the shit builds to a tsunami, your laptop’s fucked and all you want to do is curl into a ball and forget absolutely everything, noise is the answer. It’s not a cry for help or even a public moan as such, but sometimes it all gets a bit much. The little thing accumulate to the point where they’re a big thing. You feel weak for letting it escalate like that, but it’s sudden. One minute, everything is ok, and ticking along nicely, the next, you’re suddenly overwhelmed.

Having recently experienced a mammoth rush of excitement on discovering Mammock, I’m buzzing all over again having been introduced to another bunch of noisy fucks, namely Hammock. These guys really aren’t into slouching about, and their debut is tense, wired, and packs some furious energy.

The press release tells me that ‘They sound pissed, frustrated and rebellious, and play their instruments with a nasty intensity and nihilistic ferocity. Imagine a mix of Unsane, Chat Pile and Pissed Jeans and you’ll get a pretty good idea of how these youngsters sound like.’ Obviously, I’m sold before I hear a note, and have to say it’s a fair summary of their seven-song set (although the first and last, ‘Intro’ and ‘outro’ respectively are what their titles imply, bookending five back-to-back blasts of riotous racket, all of which clock in between two and a quarter and a fraction over three minutes. They really do keep it tight and punchy, and pack a lot of abrasive noise into those short sharp adrenaline shots.

The vocals are distorted, shouted, gritty, and are pithed against guitars that crash in from all angles – hefty slabs and thick chunks of distortion collide against scribbly, scratchy runs of broken math-rock noodles, while the bass snarls around and booms darkly and the drums roll like thunder, as exemplified on lead single ‘J.D.F.’

It’s jarring, fast-paced, and buzzes and roars, and it’s not just noise – there are some smart bits and pieces all bouncing about in the mix, often happening all at once. It is, at times, bewildering, but above all, it’s awe-inspiring.

There’s a moment around forty-five seconds into ‘Contrapoint’ where the bass and guitars both kick into a monster riff and it punches you right between the eyes as a ‘fucking yesssss!!’ moment that absolutely seals the EP as a bona fide belter.

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Lupus Lounge – 25th November 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s catharsis and there’s catharsis. Extreme times heighten the tension and anxiety, and increase the urge to purge. This split release from Tchornobog and Abyssal – a truly international effort, with Tchornobog hailing from Portland, Oregon, and Abyssal representing the UK with their brand of Death/Black/Doom Metal that explores, according to Encyclopaedia Metallum, themes of oppression, and decay.

Tchornobog take this approach to catharsis and purging completely literally. As the press summary notes, ‘Any track opening with a multi-layered recording of a number of vomiting sessions is bound to continue on the darker side of the musical spectrum.’ And so it does, delivering on the threat / promise that “The epic song ‘The Vomiting Choir’ delivers 24:08 minutes that form a descending spiral into a bottomless pit filled with a mostly dissonant sonic miasma of pure negativity and surprising complexity.”

The sounds of regurgitation, guttural coughs and choking and spluttering echo on for a good minute and aa half before the band piledrive their way into an extended workout that finds them burrowing deep into the thick sods of the earth towards the molten pits of hell.

It’s relentless and brutal, and proper old-school: the lyrics are impenetrable and so are the guitars, as a thundering, grey blast of impenetrable distorted guitar blasts away hard and fast and dark and heavy against pummelling percussion, and delivered at a breakneck pace, there are rasping, dead walker noises. There are tempo changes, and mood shifts. And there is deep, dark, anguish and throbbing pain. ‘The Vomiting Choir’ is dark, dark, dark, heavy, and oppressive. Thirteen minutes in it feels like an eternity has passed, an entire album’s worth of anguish squeezed into an excruciating document of torture. But no: there is more, much more, as the next wave and the next movement crash in. For a moment, around the 14/15-minute mark there’s a feel of Joy Division being covered by a black metal band, and the piece drives on and on, ever harder, ever darker, toward the piece’s crushing conclusion with a heavy, throbbing riff of swirling hypnoticism.

Abyssal offer no relief whatsoever, not that you’d really want them to. ‘Antechamber of the Wakeless Mind’ could well be summary of my lifetime as an insomniac. There’s no chance of sleeping through this twenty-four minute barrage of jolting, jarring metallic rage, where everything blurs in a blizzard of fretwork and drums faster than an industrial knitting machine.

It’s a truly exhausting experience; after just five minutes of busted-lunch growling and wheezing against a screeding backdrop of mangled guitars and beats that explode like machine-gun fire, the experience is exhausting – but also exhilarating in the most primitive, purging, cathartic fashion. It’s an extended release, one that’s punishingly intense and physical as well as cerebral.

As a pairing, this split is truly harrowing, mentally and physically draining, dragging its way through the darkest depths.

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Following the announcement of Shiki, their new studio album, on 26th August through Peaceville, the cult Japanese black metal legends Sigh have released a video for the track ‘Satsui’.

Sigh mainman Mirai Kawashima explains the track – somewhat cryptically – “The album Shiki is mostly about my personal fear of getting old and my fear of death, but some of the songs are a bit off topic and ‘Satsui’ is one of them. ‘Satsui’ means ‘Intent to Kill’ and it is my personal view on the death penalty. You often hear people say ‘The criminal penalty is not meant to be for revenge’ or ‘we all live in a country governed by law’, but I do not think things are that simple; but of course everybody has the right to have their own opinions though. I guess the song is one of the most straightforward ones on the album.”

Watch ‘Satsu’ here:

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Sigh

He goes on to explain the full album version of the song – “Satsui – Geshi No Ato” – “On the other hand, ‘Geshi no Ato’ is a completely different song. I composed that as an outro to ‘Satsui’, and the lyrical concept followed. The title means ‘After Summer Solstice’’, which is a metaphor saying that your heyday is gone. I played all the guitars on this and Mike Heller banged chairs, pieces of wood, boxes, water bottles, etc to create the beat!”

The full version of the song, “Satsui – Geshi No Ato” will be released as a digital single on all streaming platforms on Thursday 10th August.

Sigh’s forthcoming opus, ‘Shiki’, is dark & eclectic blackened heavy metal, shrouded in traditional eastern influences, and marks the latest chapter in the Sigh legacy, which includes some of the band’s heaviest and darkest material for some years; a fine hybrid of at times primitive black metal akin to early influences such as Celtic Frost amid more epic melodic heavy metal riffing and solos. It will take you on a journey through the strange and the psychedelic, incorporating a whole eclectic mix of genre styles & experimentation throughout their career. Highlighting that Sigh has remained a vital creative force in the avantgarde field whilst maintaining their old school roots.

The word "Shiki" itself has various meanings in Japanese such as four seasons, time to die, conducting an orchestra, ceremony, motivation, colour. The two primary themes for the album are "four seasons" and "time to die". The concept and artwork is based around a traditional Japanese poem, and on ‘Shiki’ Mirai explores how at this stage of life he himself is going through Autumn, with Winter coming soon, and so empathises with the contrasting sentimental feelings from watching cherry blossoms (a symbol of spring) in full bloom.

Joining Mirai and Dr Mikannibal for this release are Frédéric Leclercq of Kreator, plus US drummer extraordinaire, Mike Heller of Fear Factory and Raven, along with an appearance by longtime member Satoshi Fujinami on bass. ‘Shiki’ was recorded across multiple studios, and mixed and mastered by Lasse Lammert at LSD studios in Germany. The album utilises a whole host of instruments to give further texture and dynamics to the compositions and eerie atmosphere, incorporating traditional oriental instruments such as the Shakuhachi & Sinobue flutes.

Christopher Nosnibor

Lately, I’ve been contemplating the pros and cons of geography, particularly the fact that all the gigs seem to happen in London, and a lot of smaller London-based bands on a perpetual tour of the capital and rarely venturing far beyond. It’s hardly surprising, given so much recent coverage of the costs of going on tour – particularly with the added uncertainty of the ongoing matter of Covid. But then, here in the North, I can travel from York to Leeds in less time than it takes to cross a corner of London, and a pint is about half the price. And in a six-day span when Mclusky, Big | Brave and Melt-Banana all play Leeds or York, I feel pretty spoiled.

And so here we are at The Crescent, York’s answer to The Brudenell, which operates with similar principles of remaining true to its WMC origins with low-priced beer and a focus on decent sound. If you’ve ever wondered what a typical melt-Banana fan might look like, the answer is that there is no such thing. A mad genre-spanning noise band, it seems, appeals to anyone with an open mind and ears that are happy to take a battering, with punks, indie kids, goths, metallers and all sorts from ages twenty to sixty all gathered, and what a wonderfully pleasant, sociable lot they prove to be, and as so often proves to be the case, the more extreme the music, the more friendly the crowd.

Mumbles don’t really benefit from the sound with their primitive (post) punk. It’s played with frenetic energy and packs so many tempo changes they can barely keep up with themselves. It’s an eventful set, where the guitarist/singer’s austerity trousers aren’t the only things worthy of note: technical issues lead to an impromptu clarinet sol, and things get a bit jarring Avant jazz in places. I’m on the fence as to how well it actually works at times, but ultimately, they emerge triumphant. The guys are visibly nervous and some songs seem almost beyond their technical ability, although that’s not remotely a criticism: listen not live recordings of bands in the 70s and 80s, and this is what bands sounded like live. With more or less every band emerging super-tight and polished, it sometimes seems as if something has been lost, and Mumbles won themselves a fair few fans on this outing.

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Mumbles

It’s a welcome return to York for Cowtown and their breezy, caffeine-fuelled bouncy indie. The epic reverb on Jonathan Nash’s vocals adds a layer of depth to their up-front and punchy sound, and he too showcases some more dubious trouserage with plus fours and long socks. But, as always, they’re fun to watch, and the energy of their performance is infectious, getting the crowd warmed up nicely for the main event.

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Cowtown

And what an event it is.

Blam! Grraww! Whap! Pow! Yelp! I’ve absolutely no idea what the fuck is going on, and I’m not even convinced a detailed knowledge of their twenty years of output spanning eight albums would make any real difference. Fast and furious doesn’t come close: everything is a complete blur. The stage is piled high with amps and speaker cabs, so much so that despite it being a large stage, the pair have barely room to move. So much backline! So much volume! This is crazy! No bass, just squalling guitar racket propelled by programmed drums – that actually sound live – at 150mph.

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Melt-Banana

Only Japan could produce a band like Melt-Banana, who infuse high-octane whiplash-inducing grind with a manic pop edge, dirty great sawing guitars and sequencers controlled by some strange handheld device that looks like an 80s disco. For all the raging noise, the technical precision is astounding. Somewhere toward the end of the set, Yasuko Onuki announces ‘nine short songs’, and they’re played back-to-back are blistering grindcore abrasion and over in about three minutes. The mighty moshpit, which has been pretty intense throughout the set, simply explodes.

The atmosphere as the band leave the stage is electric. We’re all dazed, stunned, as if our brains have been used as punching balls for rapid punching exercises. It’s beyond rare for a set to blow away an entire packed venue – but then Melt-Banana aren’t rare, they’re truly unique. What an insane rush.

Dark alternative innovators GGGOLDDD have revealed an impactful new single from their upcoming release album This Shame Should Not Be Mine. Entitled ‘Invisible’, the track is about feeling alone and unseen after experiencing sexual assault. It’s about keeping it all to yourself. Which makes it impossible to process the trauma. This makes you feel isolated and alone – as is laid bare in the filming of the video, which features vocalist Milena Eva positioned in an isolated frame of nothing but black.

Milena elaborates: “I’ve struggled to say out loud that I was hurting. You can hear this vulnerability in the super intimate electronic parts. And you can hear the overwhelming effect of such trauma in the huge, bombastic choruses… The assault happened to me years ago and I kept it a secret out of shame and guilt. Every time I met somebody new or if I felt insecure I got really paranoid. I was so scared people could tell from my face I wasn’t doing alright. I tried to keep it all together. Faking my way through everything. Now I know that this was really toxic for my mind and body. It literally made me sick. The shame and the fear really take their toll. I think we should all take a good look at ourselves. How can we make sure that the assault doesn’t happen any more? But also how do we evolve into a world where people can live without shame?"

Watch ‘Invisible’ here:

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The band’s most ambitious and masterful work to date, This Shame Should Not Be Mine was conceived in the silence of 2020’s pandemic lockdown, partly as a way for GGGOLDDD lead singer Milena Eva to confront parts of her past and partly in response to the Roadburn Festival’s invitation to propose a commissioned piece for its 2021 online edition.

This Shame Should Not Be Mine is out on April 1st via Artoffact Records.

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Cool Thing Records – 14th January 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Asylums offshoot band Bait mark their return in blistering style with the ball-busting, ballistic blast of tension that is ‘Drama Drama Drama Drama’. Having dropped – or perhaps more accurately detonated – their explosive eponymous debut in 2018, showcasing a post-punk industrial crossover that crash-landed somewhere between PiL and Killing Joke, they reminded us of their existence in the spring of 2019 with the gritty grind of the single ‘DLP’ before falling silent.

In fairness, a global pandemic and a succession of lockdowns and limitations was never going to be conducive to the creation of new output, especially when core members Michael Webster and Luke Branch have been busy beavering away on a new Asylums album.

But, inter alia, they’ve also been working on the new Bait album, Sea Change, which is set for release in April, and ‘Drama Drama Drama Drama’ is one hell of a way of announcing it, distilling all of the pent-up frustration, fury, and anxiety of two years kept on edge into just under two minutes of eye-popping, adrenaline-fuelled sonic catharsis.

If the sneering edge of the vocal delivery sounds like it’s a put-down to those who’ve been panic stricken by the pandemic, it’s likely more a swipe at those who’ve chronically mismanaged the public’s expectations, left them separated, isolated, financially insecure, and unable to seek solace with friends or family while keeping them apart while quaffing drinks and generally having a jolly old time as well as getting minted off slipping multi-million pound contracts for unusable PPE and all the rest at the taxpayers’ expense. The reason the parties have particularly tipped people is because they missed the final moments of loved ones and suffered the immeasurable torture of enforced isolation.

The ‘drama drama drama drama’ in question here isn’t some lame Eastenders shit, this is life. The swirling turmoil and endless uncertainty of everything… On a personal level, when lockdown hit, I was inundated with messages at first, from friends, from family and especially work as WhatsApp groups were set up while we got sent home to work, and the channels of communication were beyond buzzing as everyone flipped out and I witnessed – and participated – in their panics in real-time. It was hectic, a blizzard, a blur… but it was when it went quiet I lost it. You get thrown into something so hard you have to swim. But when the armbands deflate…You text with no reply – that anguish is real and it’s intense. The minutes feel like hours. The tension rises, the panic rises, the palpitations flutter and the perspiration flows and in no time you’re a dishevelled, disoriented mess. You know it’s irrational, but panic is irrational. You struggle to steady your breathing. You can’t face the supermarket because it’s full of people. You can’t face meeting anyone. You can’t breathe. This is the drama, and it piles up and piles up and increases in intensity until it’s unbearable.

‘Drama Drama Drama Drama’ steps up the gritty edge of previous outings, and this time arrives somewhere between Killing Joke and Black Flag, which means it’s absolutely furious and relentlessly raging. It’s a killer tune with all the intensity, and the soundtrack to the now.

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By Norse – 26th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Hildring is the second album by Wardruna vocalist Lindy-Fay Hella with musicians Dei Farne. It’s been a long time in the making, with ‘Taag’ dropping as a single back in the summer of 2020. But what is time when the world is off its keel and the world is spinning at a different pace, one so rapid we’ve lost touch with our innermost selves? Lindy-Fay Hella and Dei Farne connect with a past world, a time before technology: not necessarily a more primitive time, but a time in which there was a closer connection to earth and nature, and also to the inner self, the core spirit.

‘Hildring’ is the Norwegian word for mirage, and it’s fitting, for despite the solid, tribal percussion that dominates the sound, paired with solid, chunky basslines, the remaining musical elements are fleeting, flitting, mellifluous, transient, impossible to grasp a firm hold of.

That isn’t to say the album is all airy atmosphere and no substance: quite the opposite, in fact, there’s a sturdiness and density to the richly layered compositions, and it’s a very fine balance of the seemingly separate elements, namely the solid, and the ethereal and airy. The drumming is immense, ribcage-rattling, rousing. There is a wonderfully rich, earthy quality to Hildring. In keeping with Wardruna’s quest to explore Norse cultural and esoteric traditions by delving into ancient history and mythology, so in this collaborative project Lindy-Fay Hella continues that focus. The sound is modern, but the album is deeply evocative as echoes of the ancient resonate forward through every note, and you feel the aura of generations past around your being as you listen. It resonates in ways beyond expression, beyond lived experience. It’s deep, and it’s powerful, and strikes a resonant chord from the off with the percussion-led title track, where soaring vocals and a driving bass melt together amidst spacious waves of sound, and it sets the bar and the form.

In something of a shift from the overarching style, ‘Insect’ feels rather more overtly electronic, with skittering glow-worm flickers flitting hither and thither, but it’s still packing a rare emotional intensity.

‘Compositionally, ‘Briising’ is minimal; drums, bass, sweeping, droning synth, and incidental cymbals accompany a balanced, inwardly-focused vocal performance. There’s a menacing, growling vocal that is again otherworldly, and if not scary, then unsettling. ‘I return to fire’, he repeats in a dark, gravelled monotone.

‘Taag’ goes big on the expansive sound, and it’s sweeping, immense, immersive. It’s bordering on the grandiosity of post-rock, and propelled by urgent drumming. Elsewhere, the sparse, looping synth of the appropriately-titled ‘Otherworld’ is relentless and resonant.

Throughout, Lindy-Fay’s vocals are outstanding, and the album showcases her remarkable vocal dexterity. Often light and airy and floating and soaring above all layers of human perception, Hildring is magical, mystical, beautiful, majestic, and powerful. There, I managed to not to use ‘epic’!

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