Ulterior have had the pleasure of being one of the very first bands I posted about on this blog, due to their Wild In Wildlife album being a slice of post 80’s goth/industrial influenced brilliance. However, I did feel that the members do have an air of arrogance about them or they are something much bigger than they currently are. That changed upon recently listening to their 2013 release The Bleach Room, which was being funded by fans for the best part of a year. The final song of the album The Locus Of Control gives me reason to believe that that air of arrogance could be justified. It is incredible. Cold, analogue synths, icy atmospheres, Sisters of Mercy-style gang vocals, mostly monotone lyrics, both nostalgic and creepy, guitars that switch between chills and vitriol… The combination for me has created one of my favourite tracks released this year, it is a dystopic reimagining of a classic period of music that get better with every single listen. The 80’s have never sounded so sinister and Ulterior have every reason to flaunt their creation, The Bleach Room is an understated work of art.
In all seriousness, this should be a contender for the best band name ever. Whether you know where it comes from or not, the London quartet make wonderfully uplifting instrumental math rock, made for those sunny afternoons in fields with friends. Let’s Just See What Happens is a joyous five minutes of jerky time signatures, jazzy grooves, warm chords, rumbling bass and a drum attack so indecisive, it’s impressive. The journey constantly builds up and cools down, it remains gripping despite the consistent vibrant ambience and each loud dynamic that pierces through is never jarring enough to upset the precision perfect nature of their music. Clearly made in mind for the summertime, this talented bunch have so much more to offer in the near future and let’s hope you’ll be hearing a lot of more them soon.
This band is a result of what happened when I chose to listen to music based on album covers (a pregnant blue woman covered in wires if you were curious). Moscow’s Genetix or Genetix Band as they’re also known, blend the best parts of breakbeat, DnB, gabba, industrial and general EDM into the vision made famous by Alec Empire and Atari Teenage Riot. But where I feel Genetix distinguish themselves as not being an ATR rip-off, is the fact their songs sound decidedly weighed more towards being metal songs rather than dance songs. The guitars are recorded live as opposed to being sampled into the mix which makes the band image and name a lot more coherent. Although I have a link provided to a player with a few of their songs above, traces of their music are becoming harder to find by the day unfortunately. Although it is the sound that Atari Teenage Riot essentially own, it’s still great to hear another take on an interesting niche to say the least.
Landmine Marathon will have a place in my heart as possibly one of my favourite band names ever. But Arizona’s death/grind hybrid certainly live up to their bloodthirsty namesake. In the first track from fourth album Gallows, there’s blastbeats a plenty and a perfect blend of technical playing and sizeable riffage, stuck in somewhat of a split personality disorder overseen by the towering screams of (now former vocalist) Grace Perry. Three Snake Leaves shares somewhat in common of what I’d imagine clinging onto a bull in a room full of meat hooks would feel like: crazy, frantic and life-threatening, but through all the adrenalin and inevitable agony, a fun concept.
Barcelonian post-rock outfit Exxasens are yet another strong collective of purely instrumental, but tremendously skilled craftsmen that deserve their spot in the European scene. Baikonur, from third album Eleven Miles, hovers between space and Earth, as a bird in flight over a blood-red sunset would. Guitars growl, trills resonate beautifully, drums sound stripped down, creating that live illusion but the best feature is the piano through out that adds that extra emotional depth to an already stellar sonic landscape. Their skill lies in their subtlety, which makes their music seem so much more human than a lot of all-guns-blazing post-rock bands, paint a mental picture of everyday natural phenomena and Exxasens will create a soundtrack for it.
Imagine a trio of Norwegian siblings, one an engineer and the other two are twin sisters but also singers, and they decided to make Massive Attack: The Musical. That is basically the best way to describe the absolutely fascinating foray that Tactile Gemma have produced. It has the luscious, murky atmospheres and gritty beats circa 1998, but they distinguish themselves in their obsession of dark fantasy storytelling and the endearing theatricality that shines through as their self-titled and only effort progresses.The ambience, fantastic vocal performances and delicate pacing make this all part of a well-calculated and deeply involving gothic fairytale.
Michigan’s Laurel Halo possibly makes some of the most unsettling pop songs I have ever heard. Carcass from her debut album Quarantine is one such example, with synths dripping with sheer menace and an air of the supernatural, percussion bounces from many surfaces, almost tribal like in its personality and her voice manipulated into a shrill, terrifying banshee is likely to haunt you forever. Despite this, I always come back to it like a glutton for punishment because she has an undeniable talent for making memorable electronic music, no matter how mainstream, dream-like, avant-garde or experimental it is.
Placebo can do very little wrong, and although I’m making a judgment on only a minute and a half clip, I’m already going to proclaim this as another classic hit waiting to happen. Haunting piano, unmistakably vulnerable lyrics, minimal but atmospheric guitar, it’s so well put together, words can’t describe. Shades of Song To Say Goodbye echo throughout, it sounds almost like its spiritual sequel but that is by no means a hinderance. Heartfelt, memorable, addictive, this is the Placebo that fans know and love and if you’re not a fan, this is truly awesome emotional songwriting that you should give a chance. I demand that naysayers eat their words, some of the album previews have strayed from what they do best but there is no way you can deny the astonishing beauty of A Million Little Pieces. I’m infatuated. End of.
France’s Deathspell Omega make black metal, but not quite as you know it. Despite making a lot of music about a certain dark deity, *cough* SATAN *cough*, the frequent pace changes between blastbeats and guttural vocals, mesmerising guitar melodies and some minor ambient touches all keep it enthralling. Black metal isn’t really my thing, but Abscission, and Paracletus, the song’s bearer, have required several listens to capture all of its captivating glory. It’s not brutal nor boring, but an interesting diversion in a genre I previously had no interest in.
This is quite likely to be the shortest song I will ever post on this blog, but then it seems that a lot of great hardcore acts know how to condense their best material, I mean really condense into just a few seconds. Illnois’ Weekend Nachos (which despite having the band name least associated with the kind of music they make) excel at this and within all 27 seconds of Dubviolence, throw intense screaming, blastbeats and frightening lead guitars into a frenzied red mist that would cause laboratory mice to explode upon listening. Vehement and violent, second album Worthless is seriously not for those of a nervous disposition.