Boris/Merzbow – Gensho – Split (Review)

Boris with MerzbowThis is a split between two well-known, (in underground circles, at least), Japanese groups; Boris and Merzbow.

This is a mammoth release that contains almost two and a half hours of music, evenly split between both artists. This is an exact split too, as the two sides are designed to be played either separately or simultaneously; doing the latter provides yet a different experience as the music of the two syncs up to provide the listener with something greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Boris’ side features 9 songs that are all percussion-less versions of some of their existing tracks. This reinterpretation of their own work lends the songs a different quality to the originals, (some of which I’m familiar with and some of which I’m not), creating dreamy soundscapes and indulgent forays into emotive colour and feeling.

The band have picked tracks that demonstrate their emotive and Doom/Drone side well, resulting in an emotive and atmospheric release that easily stands up on its own even without its counterpart music from Merzbow.

As someone who’s a massive fan of all things drums, I’m pleased with how well the music holds up without percussion and this Boris side of the split is stronger and more effective than I expected.

Merzbow is a legendary noise-maker that I have been aware of for so long now that I can’t recall. However, apart from the odd collaboration or guest spot on someone else’s music, I have never actually heard anything by him. Due to my general antipathy towards most percussion-less noise, I’ve never felt the urge to particular seek out his music, so it’s taken this long to hear anything by him.

With that in mind, we turn our attention to these four colossal tracks that are designed, as with the Boris ones, to be played individually or in conjunction with those of his split-mates.

Unfortunately, as alluded to previously, most noise leaves me rather cold, and although I can appreciate that these Merzbow tracks have structure and do create harsh soundscapes with squeals, feedback and distorted crackles, etc., it’s ultimately not a style I can claim to love.

Having said that though, these tracks do have their moments, and due to the prolonged playing time I was very surprised to find myself eventually settling into it. Shocking! As I say; in general this is not a type of music that really does that much for me, so it’s testament to his skill as an artist that I can actually willingly listen to this and take something from it.

None were more surprised than I. It seems that Merzbow deserves his reputation after all.

So here we have it, a very long and surprisingly enjoyable release that certainly won’t be for everyone, but may be more to your liking than you might first think.

However, that’s not the end of it, and this is where the genius comes in; play the two artists together as is intended, and everything changes. All of sudden, the Merzbow contribution works wonders when taken alongside the Boris tracks. The resulting soundscapes combine the harsh frequencies and dreamy guitar-based drones to produce four long tracks that paint some really evocative musical pictures.

This, for me, is the ultimate way to enjoy this release. Taken in at the same time, the entire experience gets elevated and I wouldn’t really listen to it any other way now.

Some releases are a challenge to review and this one has been a marathon of exploration and expectation-destroying revelation. It has been worth every second though, and I can’t wait to hear what you think about this one.

Convulsif – IV (Review)

ConvulsifConvulsive are an experimental band from Switzerland. This is their fourth album.

After the blackened mindfuck, (in a good way), that was CD3, Convulsif return with something a bit different that’s actually superior. It’s mostly instrumental, dark and surprisingly addictive.

Featuring bass, clarinet, violin and drums, this is an experimental foray into noise and unusual Rock. These instruments come together in a variety of ways to produce music that is always trying to push the envelope and always manages to be emotive, in one fashion or another.

Largely gone is the experimental Black Metal of their previous release, although stylistically and atmospherically we’re not a million miles away from it with some of he crawling Doom/Drone here; IV can still be dark and foreboding when it wants to, as well as displaying any number of other moods.

Instead, this release has an even more diverse approach than its predecessor. Doom, Post-Rock, Black Metal and Grind are all merely ingredients to be liberally sprinkled around during these 37 minutes, and Convulsif leave few stones left unturned in their quest for sonic excess.

Disturbing noises and unsettling vibes are frequently the order of business for IV, mixed in with Grindcore-level extremity and exploratory bludgeoning. Add in some Jazz and some sexy bass workouts and you end up with a compelling collection of twisted soundscapes that really succeed where such an eclectic, esoteric assortment of tracks could so easily fail.

If you’re in mind for something a bit different that has a lot to offer, check out IV; you won’t regret it.

 

Ad Nauseum – Ad Nauseum (Review)

Ad NauseumAd Nauseum are from the US and this is their latest EP. They play Sludge Metal.

This is harsh, noise-infected, Hardcore-infused Sludge that’s ugly, uncompromising and brutal.

The shouted vocals are aggressively nasty and purposely blunt and ugly. They barely sound human and make all manner of beastly noises, spreading poison and hatred to all who would listen.

This is barbed and raw, full of spite, bile and a visceral sense of derangement. The songs crawl and bludgeon their way through the playing time and listening to Ad Nauseum is like spending 20 minutes confronting bitter pain.

The noise influence is worked well into the tracks and feels like a part of the music rather then being added in at the last moment. This works with the caustic guitars to create a disturbing atmosphere of decayed rot.

Faster parts are included to really rub the sandpaper on the salt-covered wound. Like a festering, open sore that’s exposed over and over to infected materials, these sections ram home the futility of ever trying to get clean and healthy again. Better to embrace the dirt and live in the ground with the worms and discarded flesh.

A recommended listen for all fans of filth and misery.

Mekigah – Litost (Review)

MekigahThis is the third album from Australia’s Mekigah. They play Industrial/Classical Doom.

This is a tortuous combination of Doom, Noise, Industrial, Ambient and Classical that somehow ends up pulling you into its embrace before you even really know what’s going on. I’m not a huge fan of Noise and a lot of Ambient leaves me cold, usually because there’s nothing to draw you in. Litost is different.

Here we have elements of Noise and Ambient but they’re joined by the usually far more spirited Classical style. Orchestral sounds and emotive synths provide these minimalistic elements with a vibrancy, albeit a dark, malevolent one.

On top of this we have the Industrial aspect to their sound, and, of course, the Doom. This is not a guitar-oriented project though. It’s there, but used just as one instrument of many. Guest musicians aplenty feature on this release, providing everything from vocals, to mellotron, to taishgoto.

Vocals are few and far between. When they appear they’re quite varied and performed by multiple singers across the album. They’re usually quite low-key and are frequently employed as just another method of delivery; another instrument in this disturbing symphony.

This album is surprisingly emotive and engaging. The layers of synths and orchestral sounds work perfectly with the harsher Industrial base to fashion songs that work their way into your subconscious like hooks into flesh.

There’s a Gothic element to this music, but it’s one that has been killed and buried so that its influence is felt through the remainder of the thing that’s growing in its place. Almost as if the remains of a Gothic ancestry were feeding the music we hear here, so that the influence seeps into the cellos and Industrial sounds almost without anyone noticing at first.

If you’re into music that fuses the Industrial and the emotive with a dark atmosphere then this is definitely one to track down. Whether you’re a fan of Ævangelist, Axis of Perdition, Cloak of Altering, Ulver or Indian, Litost has something to offer you.

A very impressive release; I wasn’t expecting something to merge darkness and light so completely. Litost is a thing of grim beauty.

Enbilulugugal – Noizemongers For Goatserpent

EnbilulugagalComing from the US this is Black Metal Noise of the darkest and filthiest order.

This is so not for most people it’s almost funny. Even the majority of hardened Extreme Metal fans would balk at this.

This is a compilation of sorts – we get their 2004 album Noizemongers For Goatserpent, a remix/reinterpretation version of the same from 2010 and a whole host of smaller harder-to-find releases tacked on to the end. All in all there are 79 tracks and 2.5 hours of music. Yes, that’s right. Read it again. 2.5 hours of music. And it’s not easy listening music I can tell you.

Enbilulugugal fuse the most twisted, mutated Black Metal with the harshest of Noise to create a perfect fusion of the two that’s nigh on unlistenable unless you’re in a certain mood or just want to punish yourself. This is the sound of nightmares made urban where the remorseless decay of society is mechanised and abused.

To judge a release such as this as good or bad is missing the point in some ways. It’s more of an experience, or even an endurance test, than any form of pleasurable listening as most people would recognise it.

Upon first playing this it took me a couple of minutes to acclimatise to what I was hearing and adjust myself internally to this new way of existing where I was being constantly buffeted by the capricious whims of noise terrorists via short, rusted aural jabs to the mind. They must have altered my brain chemistry somehow though because after a while I became inured to it all and started to find it strangely endearing.

When you exist in a perpetual state of torment is it common to miss it when it’s gone?

I very much doubt that you have the fortitude to survive this release intact. It is expressly designed to push people away so that only the worthy are left. For the vast majority of people this is simply not music and not worth the time to listen to. For the remaining few, this is Enbilulugugal.

Neige Morte – Bicephaale (Review)

Neige MorteThis is the second album from French Black Metal band Neige Morte.

This is unusual, multi-faceted Black Metal that kidnaps other subgenres to do its wicked bidding. Noise, Industrial, Sludge, etc. all make an appearance; anything that can lend itself to creating a filthy and degrading atmosphere is used.

The band aim to create eerie, desolate, dysfunctionally abrasive atmospheres where everything is permitted except hope. The dissonant assault is overwhelming and darkness quickly takes hold.

The band play their dissonant Black Metal at an acceptable level, but I find my attention is held firmer when they slow down and give in to their filthy Sludge leanings. When they do this then they light up like a murky, Blackened funeral pyre and the filth and witchery flows freely.

This album is likely to not appeal to everyone, but for connoisseurs of the underground there is a good amount on offer here, if your tastes run to this.

Indian – From All Purity (Review)

IndianIndian are from the US and play Sludge Metal with added Noise; this is their fifth album.

This is Sludge of the most vicious, harshest variety. These six tracks assault the listener with guitars as heavy as icebergs and enough dissonant noises to floor a bear.

The crawling, abrasive sound leeches all of the warmth from the air as the feeling of cold, impersonal, urban bleakness saturates the sound waves.

The onward march of the devastating riffs is relentless and disturbing. Had the band limited itself to this it would be a monumental attack, but with all of the feedback, squeals, pops, crackles and noises that accompany the songs at just the right level of intrusiveness they are transformed into even more unapproachable entities than they would be without these additions.

The vocals match the intensity of the music, coming across as the bastard mutated offspring of a twisted three-way between the singers of At The Gates, Khanate and Iron Monkey. As impressive as it is harsh; the vocals are as unrelenting as the music they screech over.

If you’re tough enough to survive this aural onslaught then there’s no reason not to return to this again and again and again. Crushing.