Steve Moore – The Mind’s Eye (OST)

Steve MooreSteve Moore, (Zombi man), turns his hand at creating another soundtrack. I don’t normally listen to soundtrack work, but as I like Zombi, I decided it was worth giving this one a try. I’m glad I did.

There are a lot of moods and feelings at play across the 86 minutes on this release. All of them are arguably cut-short in typical soundtrack style, leading to somewhat of a grindcore-feel, (only synth-based); there Continue reading

The Body – No One Deserves Happiness (Review)

The BodyThis is the fifth album from US Sludge band The Body.

This is a complex album with a multifaceted, layered sound. The Body are not your average band and consequently No One Deserves Happiness is not your average album.

Industrial Sludge Metal is an apt description of the band’s output, although this barely describes the monstrous creation that the band have unleashed on the world with this work.

Electronics and Metal meet in a way that is fused at the very core of the music, revealing a collaboration that you might never think possible. Certainly it’s out of reach of the talent of most bands who attempt to combine electronics and guitars.

This is an album full of bleakness, isolation and despair. The sense of melancholy and hateful abandonment is strong, with the music absolutely reeking of complex negative emotions and the utter failure of all human contact.

Harsh, needle-thin vocals are sometimes joined by ethereal female cleans, which ratchet up the emotional content to almost unbearable levels.

This is a hard album to describe in many ways; although there is a massive amount of things going on here, it’s more the emotional resonance of the music that’s difficult. No One Deserves Happiness seems to easily and swiftly evoke all of the feelings of negativity, discomfort and nostalgic loss that you’ve experienced your entire life. It’s an extremely powerful listen because of this and at the end of its 48 minute journey you feel hollow and spent.

After listening to this, it’s hard to disagree with the album name.

 

Novallo – Novallo II (Review)

NovalloNovallo are a Progressive Metal band from the US. This is their second EP.

Well, there’s a lot going on here. At only 22 minutes long this features more creativity and ideas than most albums three times the length. This is Experimental Metal featuring elements of the Progressive style as well as Jazz, Funk, Djent and Electronica influences.

This EP is a like a bright, shiny beacon of exciting and interesting music. It’s like the proverbial breath of fresh air. Of course, it won’t be for everyone, (but then again what is?), but these groovy and imaginative tunes certainly can’t be accused of lacking ambition or flair.

The singer’s voice is smooth and slinky, fitting in with the ultra-modern delivery of the music with ease. He’s like a Rock version of Jamiroquai.

Try to imagine a Djent base mixed in with a Progressive edge, Electronica melodies and added Jazz/Funk. Periphery meets Incubus meets Jamiroquai? It’s not far off.

The music is like an unusual version of a Pop hit, only with added guitars. It’s quite rare these days to hear a band doing something so completely their own, but Novallo are doing this more than most others.

Put on your dancing shoes and get ready to freak out to music that doesn’t care what you call it, but just wants you to feel the groove and move.

A hit, to be sure.

Simulacrum – Sky Divided (Review)

SimulacrumThis is the second album from Progressive Metallers Simulacrum, who are from Finland.

This is an ambitious album, containing just over an hour of Progressive, sci-fi-themed Metal that incorporates elements of Power Metal and a slightly more aggressive, heavier Modern/Thrash Metal influence into its Progressive Framework.

As befits the subject matter, this is a very keyboard-heavy release, with both Classical tinges and Electronica coming into play. In many ways the keyboards are the stars of the show; they’re never too far from the action and are an essential part of it, as opposed to being an additionality that could be done without.

The songs are well-written and draw the listener into the vivid world that the band create. Simulacrum certainly know how to play and there are more than enough leads and solos to keep the guitar-fanatics happy.

The singer has a decent voice and his delivery suits the ostentatious nature of the music. Good harmonies and melodies are used and combined with the music it results in the majority of these songs being quite memorable and catchy.

A strong recording allows the band to develop an immersive atmosphere that they manage to keep up for the full playing time. While the keyboards do the most to promote the sci-fi elements of the music, (alongside the vocals/lyrics, of course), it’s the guitars and drums that lend the sound such a modern edge.

Simulacrum are to be commended on this album. They’ve managed to straddle a few different styles within their concept, and it all fits together and works wonderfully.

Well, I have very much enjoyed this. Highly recommended.

Todesstoss – Hirngemeer (Review)

TodesstossThis is the seventh album from German Black Metal band Todesstoss.

At 75 minutes in length this is a long album that only contains 3 tracks. I mention this purely to set the scene for the kind of sprawling, unconventional, Blackened vision that Todesstoss have.

This is Experimental Black Metal that takes the serrated core of Black Metal and adds Electronica, Ambient, Martial, Dark Rock, Avant-Garde and Depressive tendencies to it, creating songs that are unhinged marvels of deranged darkness.

Various instruments and flashes of sound compliment the core instrumentation and the mangled, psychotic vocals punctuate the music like stab wounds. His violent outbursts are quite disturbed and fit the uncompromising music.

Think bands like Bethlehem/Burzum/Deinonychus/Dødheimsgard, only stretched out to the extreme.

There are a lot of themes and moods spread across these tracks and it’s clear that a lot of work and effort has gone into perfecting the meaning and rationale for the existence of every part of this music. To some listeners it may seem as if occasional bits of noise or instruments are randomly inserted here and there, but I suspect that everything is where it is for a reason.

These certainly aren’t songs in the traditional sense, but rather canvasses of sound that are used for exploratory experimentalism by their creators to give voice to what dwells inside them. It’s a fascinating insight into a warped psyche as portrayed via the medium of mutated, corrupted Black Metal.

This is not an album you enjoy in the traditional sense. It’s an album you survive, and then, suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, you develop an affinity for the abuse it puts you through and eventually go back to it time and time again for more punishment.

Let your re-education begin.

Crimson Sun – Towards the Light (Review)

Crimson SunCrimson Sun are a Finnish Heavy Metal band and this is their début album.

This is Modern Melodic Metal with a nice heavy sound and added keyboards. An Electronica influence is included to add flavour to the sound, as well as a few Djent-isms here and there.

The songs are catchy and full of hooks and memorable melodies. A band like this is all about the songs and Crimson Sun have some good ones here. Psuedo-Classical and Electronica-tinged keyboards add another layer to the songs and there’s a lot of meat here to get your teeth into. There’s even the odd guitar solo, which I always appreciate.

In addition to these elements though the band also need a good singer to pull everything off. Thankfully they seem to have found one; her voice is a nice combination of the powerful and the melodic, adding a formidable presence to the songs.

I like that there’s actually a bit of bite and substance to the guitars, as frequently in these kind of bands they tend to play second fiddle to the vocals so much that they almost become afterthoughts. In this way, Crimson Sun remind me of Jaded Star; both bands have a decent guitar presence and both sound like real bands and not some commercially fabricated female-fronted hit machine, or something.

Having said that though, it’s not as if any number of these songs couldn’t be a hit. With the right exposure, the right video, etc.; Crimson Sun clearly have what it takes to succeed.

Melodic Metal played well, written well and performed well. Unless you’re allergic to the style then there’s nothing to not like. Towards the Light is a strong album full of strong songs.

IIVII – Colony (Review)

IIVIIIIVII is a solo Ambient project from the US. This is his début album.

This is an album of expressive, minimalist soundscapes; Electronica fused with a cinematic, Sci-Fi quality that seeps from the tracks like a foreboding aura.

Stylistically this is the moody spiritual sibling of Celestite by Wolves in the Throne Room. The feeling is that with Celestite you’re gazing up at the heavens, marvelling at the vastness of the universe, while with Colony you’re surrounded by space in the cold, empty embrace of the cosmos.

You really do feel like you’re on a derelict space station orbiting Saturn, with the crushing enormousness of the galaxy weighing down on you. You’re watching, waiting, feeling.

Colony is oddly moving, with each song acting as its own narrative while still remaining part of a larger story-arc. The music shapes the listener’s emotions as it progresses, drawing you in, ever closer, until you feel like you’re right in the midst of the darkness. With pretty much everything designed to give the impression of cosmic wonder and isolation, Colony succeeds on every level.

The cover art is somewhat of a perfect visual representation of the music in many ways. In fact, IIVII is crying out for a visual aspect to accompany the music. It’s not that the music isn’t enough on its own, (it is), it’s more that it has an entire other level to offer the listener; a visual medium to enhance the soundtrack.

This is expertly judged, with each track really giving the impression of a far-flung, lonely colony, adrift in the endless night. It’s the perfect soundtrack for its science fiction-theme.

Perfect for lonely, dark nights.

Slug Comparison – Slug Comparison (Review)

Slug ComparisonThis is the début album of Slug Comparison, a Canadian Progressive Rock band.

Actually a solo album with guest/session musicians, Slug Comparison contains 41 minutes of modern Progressive Rock.

This reminds me of early 00s band Sunna mixed with elements of Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and something like Steven Wilson. It’s extremely accomplished and very well realised.

The songs on this album are diverse and professional, with dark themes and a quasi-Industrial/Electronica feel to them on occasion; synths and electronic effects are frequent accompaniments to the standard instruments. These are used well to add extra flavour to an already tasty feast.

The singer’s voice has a contemporary feel to it and has a raw presence and charisma that money couldn’t buy. He has good range and deals with all of the challenges the material offers him with zeal and skill.

There’s a lot to be absorbed here, and repeated spins reveal the depth of nuance that these songs have to offer. It’s clear that a lot of work and effort has gone into this album, and it pays off spectacularly.

I have no qualms at all about highly recommending this album for your aural delectation. There’s a wealth of talent and expertise on display here, and it’s well worth the taking the time to explore it.

Crowhurst – Crowhurst (Review)

CrowhurstCrowhurst are from the US. This is their latest album and it’s a bit different from their usual experimental, noise-drenched output; this is Black Metal.

The guitars are as thick as syrup and they’re both heavy and melodic. Crowhurst foster an interesting atmosphere of colourful darkness that is rich in both texture and emotional content. This is Black Metal that may have a cold heart but it has an exterior that’s warm to the touch.

The screaming vocals are high pitched and piercing. They’re set low enough in the mix to become one with the music but high enough so that they’re not lost or overwhelmed.

Part Blut Aus Nord, part Xasthur and part Deafheaven; this is richly evocative music that has elements of the Cascadian and Shoegaze movements in addition to the band’s own heart of darkness.

The final track, Luna Falsata, finally gives in to some of their usual style of harsh electronics and experimentalism, as well as also featuring the vocalist of Oxbow.

This is a highly impressive collection of songs that show a mastery of a genre that the band don’t normally dabble in.

Highly recommended.

Alexanred – Always Active (Review)

AlexanredAlexanred are from Finland and this is their début album. They play Industrial Rock/Metal.

This is catchy and atmospheric Industrial/Electonica-tinged Metal. If you think of bands like Neurotech and Deathstars, remove the Black Metal side and mix this with a Nine Inch Nails influence instead, you’ll have a good starting point for the band.

The tracks mostly hover around the 3 minute mark meaning that the songs are largely to the point and hook the listener in quite quickly. The music is quite emotive and has an atmospheric quality to it that recalls some of Devin Townsend’s work on occasion, (but only occasionally).

Always Active has a professional sound that befits music of this nature. It’s a powerful and driving sound that seems to push the songs along as much as it works for them.

The vocals vary from whispered, semi-spoken word parts to sung cleans and to event the odd shout. He sounds at his best when he’s singing though, as the spoken parts seem a little forced/repetitive sometimes.

This is a good début album, and if Alexanred can build on this then the next album should be very good indeed.