Posts Tagged ‘Riffs’

Exile On Mainstream – 22nd February 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

I hear this a lot, at work, at home. People tell me that I must relax. I disagree, of course. It’s not healthy to get too comfortable. To relax is to be vulnerable. You make yourself vulnerable, you’re open to attack, and also emotions. Who needs any of that? It’s not that sensitivity is undesirable in these times of dehumanised capitalist culture, as much as it’s dangerous, a risk to self-preservation. Taking a cynical view, relaxation and wellbeing are avenues which pave the way to exploitation. No, better maintain a hard exterior even while you’re breaking on the inside. Never relax.

There’s absolutely nothing relaxing about the squeal of feedback and distorted, tortured vocals that shred the speakers in the opening moments of the album’s first cut, ‘Hollywood 2001/Rollrost’. The closest comparison I can draw is to early Whitehouse: shards of treble and humming lower-end feedback provide a brutal, unstructured backdrop to vocals designed to inflict maximum pain.

Things to become overtly rock thereafter, with the grinding sludge riffery of ‘Old Overholt’ bringing maximum gnarly grind. The repetitive, barrelling bass trudges on remorselessly, while thunderous drumming explodes amidst a wall of obliterative guitar noise that’s very much about the texture rather than the tune. Ten minutes later, it bleeds into the title track, which sounds more or less the same, but half as slow again. The bass is so low and murky as to vibrate the bowels. The vocals are warped, distorted, a demonic howl from the pits of fiery hell. But it’s not unbearable; the heavy psychedelic leanings give both a kind of context and bring a certain groove. As whiplash whirls of flange fire in and it transmogrifies into some raging beast that’s half Hawkwind, half Sabbath on Ketamine, samples begin to echo around in the murk, adding further layers of suffocating sound on sound.

And as the album progresses, so the songs get longer and gnarlier, the riffs more cyclical and tightly wound and packed with a greater intensity. By the time they piledrive into the eighteen-minute finale, the volcanic assault of ‘CBD/Herinunder’, the earth has shifted on its axis under the sheer weight of the thunderous riffery, guitars so dense as to have created their own gravitational force.

There’s an agonising eternity between each beat, each driving power-chord, the grainy blast of distortion channelling down and re-emerging as a howl of feedback sustain. And on and on it grinds. And in its own perverse way, with its dense, rich wall of overdrive crawling at a tectonic pace, ‘CBD/Herinunder’ brings a certain cannabinoid comfort. It’s not the stoner mellowness of HTC, but the quiet delivery of a more settled underlying state.

It’s still by no means relaxing, but it is a superlative example of no-messing, slow-churning monster riffing.

AA

Bellrope

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16th November 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Salvation Jayne are going from strength to strength at the moment, and kicking off with lead single ‘Cortez’ which drives hard with an amalgam of grunge guitars, solid, hard-rock riffage and pop-tinged rock-solid vocal sass their eponymous six-tracker sees the band take stock, refocus and capitalise on their work to date to mark the trajectory of the next stage of their emerging career.

‘Juno,’ which surfaces as a standalone track a year ago showcases a poppier groove in the med-section, but is primarily about the hefty, bass-driven, riff-centric chorus, and at the risk of reductionism, it’s the riff and the rock vocals that define the EP as a whole. There’s no lack of heft to ‘Black Heart’, either, which is propelled by some attacking drumming and thickly overdriven guitar, while Chess belts out the lyrics with full lung.

If the verses of ‘Tongue Tied’ suggest a slight lifting of the foot from the pedal with its layered, chorused guitar and easy disco beat, the chorus kicks it back up a notch or two. The slide guitar and strolling bass of ‘The Art of Falling’ marks the biggest shift as they slip comfortably into country grunge that expands into stadium space-filling emotionally-charged rock epic territory. It may be vaguely template and conventional, but it’s got a captivating sincerity, it’s well-placed and works well, and more importantly, it’s what you might reasonably call a ‘big’ tune that indicates the band’s mass-market potential

Yes, the Salvation Jayne EP is on the more accessible side of whatever: it’s not nasty or gnarly or dirty or fucked. But is does pack some riffy, guitar-based punch, at least for the most part: the ‘stripped’ version of ‘Juno’, with its aid-back, sultry beats is pleasant enough but my views on remixes and alternative versions are strewn about the Internet for those who remotely give a fuck. Suffice it to say that while it’s actually quite nice, it still feels like quite nice filler, and perhaps five tracks would have done the job just as well.

That said, it’s a fair inclusion and not a terrible addition to an EP that’s got some guts and showcases a band with game.

AA

EP GOLD large

Following their storming performance at Desertfest, a run of European shows with L7, plus a one-off appearance with stoner rock legends Sleep, Black Moth show no signs of stopping in 2018 as they share a new video for ‘Pig Man’ ahead of their UK tour with Corrosion of Conformity, Orange Goblin and Fireball Ministry.

Directed by Ged Murphy/Rob Hoey and filmed by Louis Caulfield, vocalist Harriet Hyde comments on the meaning behind the track:-

‘In my endless fascination with human sexuality, I came across a brilliant book called Perv by Jesse Bering which celebrates how we’re all sexual deviants in our own unique and colourful ways. In reading it, however, one particular story stood out for its horror and absurdity…

‘Most people know of the atrocities committed towards women in 17th century New England in the Salem Witch Hunts. Deranged rumours circulated that they cut off men’s penises, bewitched them and kept them as pets! To this day, women are ‘slut-shamed’ and outcast for possessing their own innate power and sexuality.

‘A lesser known story is that of the ‘Pig Man’ hunts that obsessed the congregations of New Haven. The poor dears in their infinite repression managed to convince themselves that certain men were secretly in league with the Devil to impregnate barnyard animals. The offspring would be Satan’s children walking the earth, wreaking destruction in their orderly Christian society. It seems the arrival of a deformed pig foetus was enough to incriminate the farmhand for ‘buggery’ and lead to his brutal execution. In a sick, paranoid society, no-one is safe.’

Watch ‘Pig Man’ here:

Tour dates with Corrosion of Conformity / Orange Goblin / Fireball Ministry

Oct. 26 – Engine Rooms – Southampton 
Oct. 27 – The Institute – Birmingham 
Oct. 28 – Rock City – Nottingham 
Oct. 30 – The Ritz – Manchester

Nov. 01 – Garage – Glasgow 
Nov. 02 – The Plug – Sheffield 
Nov. 03 – Cardiff University Great Hall – Cardiff 
Nov. 04 – The Forum – London

Black Moth Trees

New Heavy Sounds – 20th July 2018

Originally released independently in February, Under The Strawberry Moon 2.0 sees Blacklab’s debut receive a vinyl release, wider distribution, and augmented by an additional track. It sounds like we’re arriving halfway through a song at the start of the album’s opener, ‘Black Moon’. It’s a slow, hefty riff that grinds out of the speakers at high volume. Yes, it’s loud and mastered even louder. Then the pace picks up the drums really get cracking and everything just throbs.

Yuko’s vocals are astonishing, switching between full-on gutsy hard rock, and witchy ethereal, and snarling deep and demonic. And they’re not afraid to send the needles into red, everything cracking with a fuzzy edge of overloading distortion. It’s this in-yer-face production that really makes Under The Strawberry Moon 2.0 the album it is. You don’t just listen to it: you feel it. You visualise the speaker cones on a massive rig vibrating, can almost feel the air being displaced.

‘Warm Death’ takes the face down and exploits the classic quiet / loud dynamic thing, and against a tidal wave of overdriven guitar the banshee howl vocals are nothing short of terrifying. Closer ‘Big Muff’ goes all the way for maximum downtuned sluge, with enough low-end to give rise to an uncomfortable sensation in the bowels. And it does so for ten whole minutes, in an audaciously excessive workout worthy of Melvins.

Coming on at times like Boris at their best, it’s hard to conceive that Blacklab are just two in number. Because this is some dense noise, gritty, driving and raw. There’s chug and grind, and there’s thunderous powerchords in abundance. In fact, there’s no let up – and no filler. And they could only ever have come from Japan: while we’ve seen a number of female-fronted stoner/doom/heavy bands emerging recently, Blacklab stand out as one of the fiercest, most intense and most-far out. They promise ‘Fuzz, fuzz, fuzz, doom, stoner, more fuzz,’ and they deliver it with the knobs all turned to eleven.

AA

Blacklab-Under-The-Strawberry-Moon-2.0

Candlelight Records – 23rd February 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Having caught Black Moth live early on, before the release of their debut, I’m in a position to attest just how far they’ve come and how much they’ve grown. And third album, Anatomical Venus shows their trajectory continues upwards and outwards: with each release, they’re bigger, and simply more.

If debut The Killing Jar was a rock-solid heavy rock album that revelled in the vintage riffery of Sabbath and its successor, Condemned to Hope was the sound of a band coming into their own and filing out their songs with heavier, denser chuggage, Anatomical Venues combines the strongest elements of its predecessors and brings an even harder, heavier edge, while at the same time bristling with even sharper hooks and stronger vocal melodies.

‘Buried Hoards’ blends grunge and goth to forge a dark grandeur, while the six-and-a-half-minute ‘Severed Grace’ finds Harriet bring a certain sneer and tantalisingly teasing edge to her delivery, which weaves its way around a serpentine lead guitar and super-dense bass throb. And across the album, Back Moth bring groove galore. Anatomical Venus leans toward the quicker tempo: ‘A Lovers Hate’ is less Sabbath and more Motörhead, a punk attitude informing the driving guitar-based assault. Compositionally, it’s stripped-back and simple, something that’s been core to Black Moth’s work from the outset: namely, that the riff is king. Front and centre, the riff. Simple, but effective, four chord workouts lie at the heart of most of the songs. In the world of both rock and pop, less is invariably more. Back Moth know this and exploit it well.

There’s no substitute for a beefy bit of guitar you can get your head down to. Not that they lack technical prowess: the solos are killer, but never overlong or excessively flamboyant. There’s simply no fat to be found on Anatomical Venus.

The album’s last track, ‘Pig Man’, lands somewhere between Lydia Lunch and Melvins, with a churning sludge metal riff and a sassy, semi-spoken verse… and noise. Cathartic, chaotic noise building to a climactic crescendo.

Black Moth’s strength has always been their knack for solid, hard rock that fundamentally plays to the rules – by which I mean, their focus has been quality over innovation. This is actually an admirable quality, because they’re a band who grasp what makes rock music rock. But Anatomical Venus sees the band extend their horizons, without losing sight of any of the qualities that made them in the first place. And in bringing everything all together, and making it tighter, tauter, and as dense and heavy as ever, Black Moth have delivered their strongest, most focused album to date.

AAA

Black Moth - Anatomical Venus

Ripple Music – 19th January 2018

James Wells

Maybe it’s just me – and it’s quite possible – but many of the current crop of so-called doom-metal bands are pretty tame, and are little more than Sabbath-inspired hard rock bands lacking in inspiration and keen to jump on the metal zeitgeist of circa 2015.

I’m not intentionally singling out female-fronted doom acts, but I was recently appalled by Jess and the Ancient Ones for reasons which really ought to be apparent, and those reasons aren’t a million miles away from the anguish on being presented with Witchcryer’s latest offering.

Cry Witch is better, less cliché and less Jeffersone Airplane meets The Doors, which is a relief. A major fucking relief. But it’s still so steeped in cliché and heritage as so be not so much so last year and so ersatz retro bullshit and to be deeply uncomfortable. And it’s not especially doomy.

There are some ok riffs and the thumping bass embarks on some neat little runs, and the title track, which is also the opener makes for a strong enough start, and sonically, stylistically, it’s representative of the album as a whole. So what’s the problem? Actually, that’s precisely the problem. Against, say, Black Moth, who are also of a similar ilk Witchcryer sound tame, and while there’s not much different in the two band’s approaches, the lack of real bite could be forgiven if the hooks were sharper. But the preoccupation with mining the vintage seam has apparently eclipsed any quest to forge their own identity.

AAA

Witchcryer – Cry Witch