Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Gothtober-Gary Numan :"Savage"

In many ways Numan is the forefather of the brand of dark wave/ future pop or whatever else you want to label what goth kids are dancing to these days. In his day it was a darker take on what was being called new wave. Numan did not go back and try to re-create the sounds that made his hits grace the radio. He has chosen to take a stark look at the world around him and translate it into his own vision of musical science fiction. Numan's voice sounds great on the lighter shade of "Bed of Thorns" which sounds surprisingly hopeful. This album shows what he learned from his time spent with Fear Factory as there is a more industrial slant to it. I am a fan of the exotic eastern scales echoing in the background.

A cinematic ambiance colors "the End of Things".  The only changes I can detect in his voice is a softer almost Billy Corgan like hint to the more melodic moments. Not that Numan was ever a powerhouse. The effects are an expected part of his sound. We continued to get bogged down in the atmospheric with the space ballad "And it All  Began With You". Which is well recorded, I don't feel it really makes the most of what Numan does best. There is a "Wicked Game " where is voice falters going into the head register for the higher ooooohhh in you. The harder distortion on the beat of "When the World Comes Apart" really works well and the more industrial tinged moments are some of the album's best. This album has a more serious tone and none of his more quirky 80s moments.

"Mercy" has some heft to it's beat and the vocally float very gracefully over it. This darker sound of the future continues to explore the skeptical glances of religious concepts on "What God Intended" . There is more focus on the tender side of the song when it comes to "If I said". There is a better dynamic balance on "Pray For The Pain You Serve", that also comes with an aggressive edge thanks to some of the industrial undertones. The vocals to "Broken" don't come into the song until four minutes into the song, which is otherwise a dramatic sweeping display of synths that sounds like something from a soundtrack. The album closes with another post-apocalyptic power ballad. I'll give this one a 9 as the ballads tend to kill the momentum and I don't how like they sometimes remind me of Smashing Pumpkins. Otherwise with this album is in motion it's pretty great.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Belus : "Apophenia"

There used to be black metal pouring out of Brooklyn, but hipsters must be over it.Features the guitarist from Woe so thought it would be worth checking out. It has a very organic sound, though I am not feeling any darkness. All the right notes are being played and they are technically fantastic players, but black metal is supposed to have an unsettling edge to it's anger. It lacks that inner dissonance even when the notes are played that would equate dissonance. Instead it sounds like aggressive metallic jazz. The uniqueness of their sound certainly gets me through the first song, but the question is can they write songs ? King Crimson can play at levels of great difficulty, but at the end of the day they have good songs. The same could be said of Emperor. Krallice ...not always.

There is more of a disco beat leading into "Monolith". Mood wise it is moving toward a shade of gray. I do give these guys credit for keeping things streamlined and not feeling the need to lose you in a drone that is over ten minutes. The drummer is impressive. The vocals stay at mid ranged rasp. Not quite sounding like they are clearing their throat, but as nasty as you can get without me believing you have actual hate in your heart. I think this is the x factor. When dealing with black metal that is not in your face anti-christian or standing strongly for something, it's hard for them to channel emotion into lyrics that are more abstract concepts. The last Woe album does get credit for being angry at the world around it. Here I am not feeling the hate coming with conviction. You need to make me a believer.

The lower riffs to "Avarice" is more convincing when it comes to the feeling needed for this aggression though it is sacrificed for the more angular progression. So kids remember when it comes to math or hate in black metal always choose to hate. Midway into the song it gains more grit. While the drums dazzle , they could stand to lock in and serve the song rather than they busy work at hand. "Illusions" starts off darker and has me waiting to see if it can hold to it when it defaults to the inevitable blasting. They prove my paint with some gallops that do lock in for a minute making for a much more vulgar display of power. In these moments they remind me more of Mutilation Rites.The blasting flurry of "Psychosis". They do hit a groove amid all of the blasting of this song, which is the highlight, but the rule around here is cool riffs alone do not make a good song.

Due to the formula of this album they lazy of the riff that opens won't last too long as you know they will default into more blasting. The vocals have a slight tinge of anger in their scowling howl. The bulk of the song is the blur of blasting  that is their default mode.They do finally capture some of the dissonant ugliness I need from black metal though are quick to discard it in order to return to more blasting.  I will round this album up to an 8. The dependence on blasting is a common problem for the genre, but they do have some interesting interludes between them, along with a nice organic guitar tone. This is one of the better American black metal releases so far this year.

Midnight : "Sweet Death and Ecstasy"

There is a much more prevalent Venom influence on the opening track of Midnight's new album. The guitar sound is bigger and carries more weight into it's chug. While the metal factor has been dialed up, they have not turned their backs on the more punk side of this band as apparent on the second song "Penetrated . Most of the guitar solos on this album sound like they are straight from a Motorhead record. There is more of a march to " Here Comes Sweet Death". The chant of the  chorus has more of hook to it than the previous song. "Melting Brain" is not as smartly crafted and more one dimensional. The Motorhead influence goes beyond just guitar solos on "Rabid" . I am fine with this as it means they are being more thoughtful to vary things up with catchy punches.

It took me a moment to release "Bitch Mongrel" was not the previous song "Rabid". It is different as it's more Venom than Motorhead. "Poison Trash" stays thrashing, but is a bit of a one trick pony until it goes into more of a moshy groove. Well this album is bookended by two really strong songs as the triumphant gallop to "Before My Time In Hell" is pretty powerful. So we know they can do it when they step away from their Venom and Motorhead albums and lay into the gallops. Not that there is anything wrong with being influenced by either band, but I think Midnight has a personality of their own that I would like to hear shine though more often.

Despite the band brazenly wearing their influences on their sleeves , this album sounds better than the previous one. It has two songs that are absolutely killer and the rest are pretty decent too. I think they were successful at creating the album they set out to, it does take me back to a point in time when metal was more dangerous so that gets them points in book. I'll give this album an 8. I don't see myself really wearing this one out , but fans of the band will enjoy it.

Gothtober - the Haxans : 'Party Time"

Ash Costello from New Years Day is embracing her inner Mortica Addams . I fully support this is a good look for her, but as a sound it has interesting results that works in varying degrees. This album works best when it carries an almost 60s go-go rock n roll feel that it married to a more modern sound. When the sound of Modern radio rock creeps in it doesn't have the same charm. They begin to go further down this road by the third song "Dirty Magic" that finds them colliding with a sound that has more in common with Halestorm and In This Moment. When her voice goes up into more of rock n roll upper register is carries a Lita Ford like edge. Yes, this album is darker than her other band , though fairly upbeat for goth. Lyrically song like "Black Cat Bone" works with the music in a similar way that Rob Zombie's solo work does. As a lyricist she is not as creative as Zombie , but these songs are fun.

They cover 45 Grave's "Party Time",  which gets them points in my book. They dance all of the death rock out of it, but it was always a big dumb song. This album is a reminder of how much hinges on the production choices a band makes. Dialing back the distortion returns them to a creepier 60s styled sound. I think these moments more more original and give them more of a signature sound by filling a void that is not as crowded as the landscape of radio rock. The electronic elements do work on "Witch Wave". Its like if Lords of Acid decided to become more of a rock band. They switch decades and go in a more new wave direction on "I Think Of Demons", though it filtered through more of a modern pop lens. Lyrically it's a little weak, but otherwise well constructed. They get darker on "Professional Weirdo" once again embrace a more electronic side that recalls many of the bands wanting to be Nine Inch Nails from the 90s.

The vocals ride the beat more like a pop, so though it reminds me of a dancey version of the Donnas the way the guitar comes in. The lyrics to "Boo" are so silly it's hard to take the song seriously. The big 80s rock chorus is catchy despite this so you might find your self torn when it comes to this guilty pleasure. They close the album with a very toned down cover of the Misfit's "Vampira" . I'll give this album a 9 it's a lot of fun, not the darkest thing to come out this October, but good background music for a party.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

I Klatus :' Nagual Sun"

The new album from this Chicago band  opens with the hypnotic throb that I miss from Jesu. It does gather speed and builds into more of a sludged out chug. The bulk of the vocals in a throaty bellow though so robotically effects dripping sung vocals come it.  The bass player and drummer have run the gambit in terms of bands  having played in acts like Bury the Machines, Yakuza, Lair of the Minotaur, Serpent Crown and Earthen Grave. The first song builds up into a blast beat that oddly has little to do with black metal. Feedback flourishes as their sound is very blown out. I can imagine they are  loud as hell live.  They once again indulge atmosphere by taking their time to kick into "Serpent Cults". Its more up tempo than the first song and places them more firmly as a sludge band, with slight crusty tendencies.

The lines between doom and sludge sometimes cross like at the very beginning of "Sorcerer's Gaze" where I can hear some Celtic Frost influence. When he tries to sing going into the chorus it reminds me of Chronos. There is a break that sounds like they are going into anther song then then come back playing something closer to black metal. I am not sure the point of this.It's not bad , it just doesn't compute in my head as to their motives in terms of songwriting. They ebb and flow back from a monolithic lumber to twinkling atmosphere on "Moment of Devastation" . One things I like about this album is the harshness is balanced out by the many colors of ambiance they have painted the corners of this record with. This steers it towards that sweet spot I want where it is heavy sonically as it is metal. Many of these sweeping sounds grace "the Alivist" .

There is a denser heaviness to the mid tempo rumble of "Jaws of the Shark". The vocals take a lower death metal growl. After an interlude of noise they ease into the more "Planet Caravan" like intro of "Final Communion". It doesn't stay dreamy long enough for this to be considered a sludge power ballad. It does ebb back down after the first heavier chorus section. I'll give this album an 8.5, if you are into sludge but want something different than Neurosis worship then this is an album well worth the investment of your time to check out.

Desert Roach : "Cholla"

When you throw words like industrial and death rock around it's easy for me to get my hopes up. I have been reviewing albums long enough to know better, but there is still that idealistic teenager in me who needs to listen the the older wiser and jaded version of me that has heard this all before. First off the mix on this album is odd. It's minimalist in some places and has a guitar tone that is wanting. It's a lesson why being a one man band might not always be the best idea. Wreck& Reference would be a good point of reference to wreck and illusions that this is soooo original.  The more screamed vocal could use some effects on it. There is a moodier version of indie rock that is not tense enough to be post punk no matter how much the vocals yell. If this had better production it might all work. Instead it sounds more like a demo than a album. Sonically there are some decent ideas sprinkled in, but if he had a different set of ears , then things like the more aggressive yelled vocal should have never left the gate.

The yelling works a little better despite the iffy mix on "Tennessee honey Queen" . The lyrics sound like they are left over from high school. "Mojave" would have worked better if he had a real band behind him. He keeps yelling about god, which is one of this albums themes. Even hearing "Six Six Six" which comes the closest so far to being death rock thanks to the bass, line it is hard to hear how some one could refer to this as death rock. "The Dirt" does have darker Joy Division feel to it, though still not death rock. By the time we get to "Alive" it's clear this album is showing signs of improvement. I guess I am getting used to the shitty production.It does begin to get darker, though this album is not however dark enough for me to brand it with the Gothtober seal of approval. The vocals are at their best on "Vacant Mind". I like the dreary drone of this one. Congrats that he wrote a song that is actually good here. He yells about cumming in someone's mouth on the last song which has a decent guitar part that floats in the back ground, the solo like guitar melody though is too far up in the mix so the results are odd. I'll give this one a 7 which is a lot fucking higher than expected. I had to round it down , because the production almost made it difficult to listen to in the first place. He did prove he cane write a song and there are some good ideas that could have been better realized with more hands on board.

Electric Wizard : "Wizard Bloody Wizard"

The band's 9th album opens with the nihilistic blues of the lead single "See You In Hell". Despite the album's title it's somewhat less of a love affair with Black Sabbath and more of a homage to the fuzzed out garage rock of the 60's. The drummer was obviously influenced by Mitch Mitchell's drumming on "Manic Depression" here. Not as aggressive as what we have heard from them in the past, but it sounds better the more you dial up the volume. The band took it upon themselves to handle the production in their own studio. Sonically this allows for less bells and whistles as it's stripped down to what the band sounds like just plugging straight into their amps. The creates a dry more more ranged sound, and thus a more retro affair.

 The tempo shifts into more a methed out boogie on "Necromania". Lyrically "Hear the Sirens Scream" sounds like he went into the vocal booth with no lyrics prepared and just vamped off the top of his head. This song also has a more of a jamming feel to it and is not as focused in it's attack. It begins to drag a little once they hit the seven minute mark and I begin to wonder if it's going anywhere else or just more of the same. The answer they give me after declaring "drugs are their religion" is a guitar solo. It could have stood to come more forward in the mix rather than sitting back in the wall of guitar.

A keyboard does appear at the beginning of the three minute drone "the Reaper". "Wicked Caresses " embraces a darker more traditional doom approach. It doesn't wallow in the linger tempo and hover under 90 bpms, when not in the total doom of the verse riff. They stay on a slower doomy shuffle for the closing anthem "Mourning of the Magicians" . He returns to claiming he will sill you in hell so I had to check to see if I had let the stream loop back around to the beginning , so this one didn't hold my attention as much as the first few songs. I also notice that his voice lacks the effects it's normally drenched in on their other albums. I can hear how this gives it more of a Coven like sound and less of a mid 70s Ozzy. But it makes the vocals cut through less like another instrument and showing he is a one trick pony here.Other wise this is a pretty solid album, I'll give it an 8.5, it has less apocalyptic thunder than albums like "Dopethrone" but I like the trashy exploitative mood it creates in the simplicity of the songs. They also prove you don't need long pondering wandering to be doom.