Intensive Square – Anything That Moves (Review)

Intensive SquareIntensive Square are a Technical Metal band from the UK. This is their début album.

This is Technical Metal played with a love of both complexity and crushing rhythms. There’s a Hardcore side to the band that’s combined with a firm Metal base, resulting an album that combines elements of such diverse bands as Botch, Converge, Johnny Truant, Meshuggah, Circle Takes the Square, Pyrrhon, Today Is the Day, Scarlet, Frontierer, Sikth, Periphery and many others.

Featuring a splenetic vocalist who has a vicious screamed shout, these songs provide a satisfying ear-bashing while also catering to those who like a bit of technicality and complexity with their beatings. It doesn’t go too far down the complexity route though, as there’s plenty of big rhythms and grooves provided to get the listener moving and jerking around the place in strange movements.

The album lasts 45 minutes and provides a meaty feast for anyone into this kind of thing.

Give them a listen.

Lae – Break the Clasp (Review)

LaeLae are from Canada and this is their début album. They play Post-Rock.

Okay, so I say Post-Rock, but not only is that incredibly vague but it also doesn’t really do the band justice, as Lae don’t really sound like you’d probably envisage when you think of Post-Rock. They have an unusual style that’s as enticing as it is seductive.

So, first off I should mention that the band have a very sexy production courtesy of Today is the Day frontman Steve Austin. Apparently he, understandably, became so enamoured with the band’s songs that he ended up providing lead vocals for the entire album. That album is Break the Clasp and the first thing you should know then is that his vocals are stunning.

Haunting cleans are layered together and occasionally enhanced by Austin’s trademark acidic screams to create a performance that’s like a demented lullaby. Breaking the Clasp gives Austin a true platform to demonstrate just how good a singer he actually is.

The music itself is a multi-textured and highly emotive smorgasbord of tasty treats and delights. It’s a hazy, psychedelic mix of Rock and Post-Rock that’s strictly non-conventional and features enough hypnotic melodies to capture your attention forever.

There’s a great variety of mood and feeling to be found here. Doubtless this is not the kind of album to appeal to everyone; it’s not an “instant hit” by any means. It doesn’t suffer from this though, as the songs here have a longevity to be expected of a band who have seemingly taken the best part of over a decade to release their début.

The songs strike a personal note with the listener, drilling down to the core of what’s important in great music; connection, passion and feeling.

Providing band references as comparisons is not easy. Hmm, certain aspects, (but not all by any means – the slower parts mainly), of bands like Today is the Day, Earth, Swans, Fantômas, Angels of Light, etc. are suitable starting points.

Break the Clasp is something of a revelation for me. Albums of this beauty and intrigue don’t come along very often. I’m floored. I love this.

As I write these words it’s nearing the end of 2014, and a lot of amazing album have been released this year. All I know is that Lae will be featuring very highly on my Best of 2014 list.

Achingly necessary.

Wormwood – Wormwood (Review)

WormwoodThis is the début album of Wormwood who are a Sludge band from the US.

Wormwood play abraisive and caustic Sludge that eats away like acid and is every bit as disfiguring.

The songs aren’t long but they don’t need much exposure to be proven toxic.

Heavy and covered in contagious filth, Wormwood are like the bastard offspring of Today is the Day, Rabies Caste, Khanate and Eyehategod.

It’s ugly, crushing music that’s no good for your health and yet is strangely addictive regardless. The songs infect with their virulent strand of aural disease and you find yourself thinking of them when you least expect, usually when the night is in full swing and the negative thoughts are swirling. Wormwood is the soundtrack to hopelessness and woe.

The songs are surprisingly catchy and their relatively simplistic approach of groove-based, heavy Sludge is tried and tested yet by no means less effective because of it. Eyehategod may have originally wrote the book but bands like Wormwood keep adding pages.

Wormwood lack Eyehategod’s Southern tinge of course, and theirs is a sound that shares aspects of Today is the Day and Rabies Caste in particular, as mentioned above.

A warm, yet musty, analogue sound coats all of the songs like a soft, ripe, fleshy exterior. It sounds good.

At only 18 minutes in length this is a release that doesn’t outstay its welcome; one to definitely keep returning to.

Highly recommended.

Today is the Day – Animal Mother (Review)

Today is the DayToday is the Day are from the US and this is their tenth album.

A new Today is the Day album is always a bit of an event and it’s always interesting to hear what they come up with because you’re never quite sure what it’s going to sound like. The only thing you can be sure of, or course, is that it’s going to be nasty.

Animal Mother is no exception. It is, however, probably their most complete and well-rounded album to date. Animal Mother combines elements of all of their previous albums to either a greater or lesser extent, from the psycho aggression of Kiss the Pig, to the Sludge heaven of In the Eyes of God with even a touch of the experimental harshness of Sadness Will Prevail.

This is further enhanced by acoustic and melodic flourishes that act as bridges between the more usual caustic noises and abrasive sounds that the band create.

The songwriting as a whole is dynamic and complex. Today is the Day have never shied away from unusual rhythms, sounds, etc. but Animal Mother takes this willingness to experiment and explore and manages to shape it into a cohesive package without ever losing its edge.

The production is solid and tight, and similar to the album as a whole it’s a lot fuller than Today is the Day normally sound. This allows all of the songs to really impact on the listener with full force.

Their singer sounds as venomous as always, although his performance is more varied as well. His is a unique, piercing roar and this is complemented with other vocalisations that allow for nuance of delivery.

To me this album sounds like the culmination of everything the band have been building towards over the decades. It sounds utterly complete and very, very good. The creative energies have been focused just right and the resulting heavy nastiness is without peer.

I’ve been a fan of this band since 1999 and this is the album they’ve always threatened to make. A dark revelation and an apocalyptic realisation of intent.

Essential listening for any Extreme Metal fan. Get this now.

Pyrrhon – The Mother Of Virtues (Review)

PyrrhonPyrrhon are an unusual Hardcore-influenced Technical Death Metal band from the US and this is their second album.

They kickstart proceedings with an entry track that would do Converge or Cephalic Carnage proud. The Oracle of Nassau explodes out of the speakers all frenzy and bile, and for 1:25 it proceeds to annihilate everything. In complete contrast the next song White Flag starts off slow and menacing, and lasts for a much longer 9:42.

The vocals are screamed static attacks or brutal guttural growls, depending on the mood of the singer.

The music is technical, involved and very intricate. The instruments twist and turn and play all manner of elusive riffs; the listener is submerged in a lake of discordant dissonance that somehow manages to satisfy in spite of the multiple disparate elements being unleashed.

This is the clever thing though, as each instrument by itself is exploring its own path but everything gels together for the benefit of the wider picture in ways that you wouldn’t expect. The songs manage to be exploratory and experimental while remaining coherent and delivering a completed whole.

Angular riffs, wilful bass, schizophrenic drums and daemonic vocals collide to create a challenging and ultimately involving listen. The songs owe about as much to the violent Hardcore background of bands such as Converge, Botch and The Dillinger Escape Plan as they do to Technical Death Metal.

Pyrrhon strike me as having a combination of sounds from bands as diverse as all of the previously mentioned ones, as well as having elements of bands like Uphill Battle, Gorguts and Today Is The Day.

If you’re looking for a new band to obsess over who are not your average band then say hello to Pyrrhon. This album is a must.