What a month. What a fucking month. I don’t know what to say that you probably already haven’t heard before. Wash your hands. Keep your distance from others. Stay the fuck inside as much as you can. Look after those less fortunate than yourself. These are such trying times, and they are bringing out the best and worst in us all. I just hope we all get through this, and that what improvements may come, from those in power realising how vulnerable so many citizens in genuinely important jobs are, don’t turn out to be short-term ones.
In the meantime, here are some reviews to help distract you from, well, everything else. There’s lovely guitar-based glitch/drone from Animal Hospital;The Ditch and The Delta delivering colossal riffs from deep within our shared DNA; Feminazgul with an album of the year contender; Hyperion delivering high-energy heavy metal straight from the 80’s; Live Burial bringing death metal that could have come from the Peaceville vaults; and Mystic Priestess‘ punk-infused deathrock. Enjoy!
Drone is often considered a genre lacking in melody; where the atmospheres and textures rule supreme, and change comes at a glacial pace. Whilst this is certainly true for much of the genre – especially its bigger names – Practicing Loss by Feast of the Epiphany presents a strong counter-argument. Though drone is a chief component of the album, especially in overall effect as much as sound, that’s not all there is to the album. There’s also a lot of folk and psychedelic rock here too, all filtered through an avant-garde mindset similar to that which gave birth to Kraut rock, that makes Practicing Loss an absorbing, yet challenging album. It is filled with complex music that takes time to unlock, yet it is constantly encouraging the listener on, wanting them to revel in what it offers.
It can sometimes seem like improvised drone is ubiquitous within the genre, and that you can’t go onto Bandcamp without stumbling across some new record that was recorded in a single take, constructed of drum loops, manipulated guitars, and more effects pedals than is healthy for one human to own. With this in mind, what sets Keep it in the Ground apart from other examples of the genre? Well, other than that Some Became Hollow Tubes comprise of Eric Quach (thisquietarmy) and Aidan Girt (Godspeed You! Black Emperor), which is on its own enough to generate excitement, Keep it in the Ground succeeds in striking that balance between the ominous and the awe-inspiring; the terrifying and the life-affirming. A hugely captivating album, it also possesses a rare sense of narrative and flow.
Metal, at its most extreme, becomes a genre of seemingly contradictory forces that are reliant upon one another to succeed. As volume and speed increases, bringing with it a sense of chaos, so too does the need for control. After all, a great deal of technical proficiency and practice is needed to strike the right balance between a song sounding rampaging and it simply sounding sloppy. It’s that sense of contradiction that Chasm, the new album from Spanish black/death metal band Suspiral, is forged upon. A combination of bestial carnage and ritual-esque repetition, the album is the sound of a tightly-bound beast, straining at its chains, desiring nothing more than to be let loose upon the world to unleash devastation; and yet there is an almost religious aspect to the control displayed, making Chasm a ritual in a very real sense.
Recorded in a few short, improvised hours one day in May 2017 by the trio of Aidan Baker (Nadja), Simon Goff (Molecular), and Thor Harris (Swans, Thor & Friends), Noplace is an album that possesses the kind of depth that would never hint at the way it was created, even if it has been edited down from that improvised session. Hypnotic in the most wonderful of ways, Noplace is an album that creates a psychedelic haze, taking the listener to some place more relaxing and spiritually cleansing than whatever place you may find yourself physically within. This is music that is good for the soul.