Unless I missed a memo over the last few years or so, metalcore doesn’t really appear to be a thing any more. Well, at least from the thrash-influenced perspective, as more and more bands pile on from the hardcore bandwagon, some even evolving into the visceral deathcore movement. Metal has left me jaded nowadays, as the trend seems to emphasise brutality in your music, in guitar tones and how much venom and vengeance you can saturate your lyrics with, bores me. In my personal opinion, there’s very little innovation any more, as clones after clones emerge and dump themselves on top of the landfill. So when metal bands that are flashier, play faster and hark back to a time when proficiency on your instrument was key, it opens a window on a stagnant genre climate.Germany’s Wild Zombie Blast Guide are no doubt obsessed with the living dead and modern society, but they reinvigorate that spirit of thrash metal that many recent bands seem to be ignoring. There’s some interesting ideas such as backing samples and the inclusion of a banjo in one song, but then they also trope into a few modern cliches such that sub-bass explosion that seems to be the equivalent of the Black Plague. Yet there’s a healthy camaraderie and optimism in their message, despite their subject matter. The switching of vocal styles between hardcore superstar, guttural death metal frontman and gang chants in the same song is also refreshing to hear, as highlighted by Birds Of Prey. In between tasteful electronic gasps for breath, some killer guitar chops and an anthemic chorus, the song is a testament to skill-based guitar-orientated music, played at such a pace, it could rattle spinal discs out of place. 2014’s Salute The Commander is a celebration of all that is good about metal, and is life-affirming to boot musically and mentally.
Salute The Commander and their 2012 self-titled debut can only be found on their Bandcamp page for a reasonable asking price.
Some band names just sound like a really busy evening, not to mention a boat load of fun. Some confusion would rest on whether it’s a person we’re mourning with chilli or we’re mourning the chilli itself. Musically though, you may think this could be a mariachi death metal band judging on name alone and cool as that would be, it’s not close. The reality is Mexican Chili Funeral Party are one, of many, many excellent bands from Italy’s esteemed network of fantastic stoner and hard rock outfits. At times channelling the spirit of Kyuss, as do many bands of the same ilk, there’s a decidedly grungier tone to their work, even so far as putting fingertips in doom territory but stay integral to the original blues influences. Released at the very beginning of last year, the self-titled album is a rollercoaster of a ride featuring head charges, well constructed grooves, some spiritual sounding slower burners and even what sounds like a primal summoning, perhaps one of the more menacing psychedelic tracks around right now in Black Flower. Yet our focus lies in Ijavha, the best example of Queens of The Stone Age shining through in their work, featuring the same well-documented passion lathered into vocals and a certain danger that could signal pistols at dawn, instrumentally powerful enough to kick like a .45 too. Mexican Chili Funeral Party have what it takes to stand toe-to-toe with the biggest and greatest names in the scene today. They know their history, but add squeezes of their own zest that bring an invigorating take on the genre. And that’s something well worth buying into with a side of chilli fries.
Their debut album can only be found on their Bandcamp page, but on a pay-what you-want basis. These guys work hard so please give what you can.
Circumstances make me wonder if opinion polls are ever conducted on whether the world needs more metal musicals. Currently the best example may be cult classic Repo! The Genetic Opera, certainly a polarising experience at the best of times however. The music itself was very well composed, especially for the sheer scale of original songs written for the score, but the lyrics at times, came over as unintentionally hilarious. Very few bands nail that balance between theatricality and musiciality perfectly, so when a new avant-garde metal band emerges onto the fray, attention spreads like wildfire. Enter Norway’s Vulture Industries. European metal circles are quickly cottoning onto their amalgamation of styles, instruments and notably the quirky vocal menagerie of frontman Bjørnar Nilssen. While most likely not conceived in that matter, each song written by Vulture Industries takes its place as a scene or chapter in a blackened, twisted storybook, exploring the depths of emotion and the human condition. Most recent venture, 2013’s The Tower is their most ambitious tale to date. Stretching beyond an hour in running time, this five piece have taken extra cues from symphonic metal, as well as enlisting the help of various session musicians and choruses along the way. Divine-Apalling is the second track in, and from the get-go takes you into the warped pantomime of a slightly Vaudevillian landscape. There’s so many well thought out touches in what becomes a carousel, or a carnivalesque waltz of joyous and melancholy tones, but amplified like only a metal band can realise. Vulture Industries have the inner workings of utter genius, and are creatively one of the most unique bands around right now. Take the stage, this applause is all yours.
Their three albums can be purchased on their own Bandcamp page as well as their website, whereas their earlier works and demos, are no longer in print. As usual, these can also be bought at most respectable music retailers too.
There’s very much a sense of irony if you include the word ‘deaf’ in your band name. However, two of history’s most successful rock bands spawned from laughing at that irony, namely being Def Leppard, and Deftones, who are most certainly not deaf, judging by millions of record sales across the world. There are a couple of other bands who have a measurable amount of success from featuring the word ‘deaf’ too such as Deaf Havana and Deafheaven, but having not been in the game for as long as the other two yet, critical acclaim will have to do the talking for now. It then seems fitting for a band that have seemingly disbanded to be called The Deaf, on a play on words term, and as a focal point for how loud their music can get. This Minneapolis trio play a scuzzy, lo-fi noise rock landslide, loud enough to be thunder but relaxing enough to feel the sea at your feet. Across the 14 songs that This Bunny Bites bestows, it’s rapid-fire, it’s jammed to bursting with riffs and booming grooves and charged with enough energy to take out power grids. Album highlight Beatdown does exactly what it says on the tin; a two-minute incantation to incite an all-out slug-fest wrapped into a scorching hot guitar performance and drums battered to an inch of their lives, that can still space a listener out in absolute bliss. That to me is rare, that a band can roughhouse and relax in equal stead, with such little effort. Hopefully this band aren’t done, because there is a gift here that needs to be uncovered and shared with the wider world.
The Deaf’s 2007 album This Bunny Bites can be found on Learning Curve Record’s Bandcamp page for a small fee, or at most respectable music retailers too.
Coupling seems to be very much the main life objective, the desire to find company so you don’t spend your years on this planet alone. For some people that means friendship, or a relationship, sometimes both. In the case of Los Angeles electro punk legends Babyland, the precursor to Continues’ one man tour de force, they shared a long lasting friendship and a business relationship that lasted over a 20 year career. Daniel Gatto, the voice of Babyland, since 2009 went in a different direction, and toned down the jittery synth strokes, industrial strength percussion and throat-run-raw shouting, into a smoother, refined synth pop operation. The same impassioned delivery is there, verging on almost desperation at times, and the same production values remain, sticking heavily with an array of modular synths and drum machines, but the formula has been distilled into far more digestible nuggets of electronica gold. Love On The Run, by far my favourite song of this week, is an exceptional seance of Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy, bar extra eerie, chilling synth lines and Jimmy Somerville’s falsetto range swapped for the spirit of punk in a spoken poetry rehearsal. But there’s a groove that the coincidental inspiration lacks that Continues makes up for in the precision engineered synths and drum pattern working in unison that edges it out very slightly. VERY, very slightly. At times, the 2012 self-titled debut recalls The Cure, but if Robert Smith abandoned the gloom of goth to make perfect electronica an elder crowd swore they remembered, and that is a compliment of the highest order. For a one man show, Continues is utterly fantastic, pure and simple.
The 2012 debut can be found on Mattress Records’ Bandcamp and at most respectable music retailers, for a reasonable sum. Also, for your own amusement, Love On The Run was edited into a loop of Noel Fielding dancing in The Mighty Boosh, if that seems like something you might be entertained by. Go YouTube it.
Once upon a time, there were two folk musicians called Maddy and Rick, and they were in one of the most famous British folk bands of all time: Steeleye Span. Maddy and Rick married and conceived two children, one of which her name was Rose. Rose too initially was a folk musician, but she began to move in a different direction. She abandoned the traditional instruments and strove for a more electric based sound.You could view this as a fairy tale of corruption, but on behalf of the sheer talent and eclecticism that Rose Kemp shows in her songwriting, things turned out for the better. From embracing the more acoustic-focused, less-tempered roots of her parents to full-blown Sabbath-esque doom and drone dirges, her recorded output has sunk more and more into the shadows, but there has always remained a quirky, offbeat likeability to her work. Whether it’s the stirring emotional connection with the strings, or the sudden peril from stabs of organ, or even the various voice projections, from siren calls, to sultry tones, there is a large world of sounds just waiting to be explored. Saturday Night from 2008’s Unholy Majesty is a slow-burning ballad concerning the escapades of weekend living, that bursts into life near the climax, but is gorgeous only based on a few chords of the electric guitar and Rose’s sultry yet vengeful sounding tones. She’s since disappeared from a recording schedule, but her talent has given another shining hope to the already rich singer-songwriter pool, a darker hope, yet an excellent one.
Many of her recorded albums, as well as the odd collaboration such as Jeremy Smoking Jacket, can be found here and there floating around the internet and most respectable music retailers
I have a theory as to how this band got its name. Imagine three of industrial’s biggest names, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry and KMFDM getting into a physical altercation in a bar. In the ensuing brawl, Trent Reznor, Al Jourgensen and Sascha Konietzko all lose a tooth and the sheer brainpower and psychic energy between the teeth, births this Los Angleles four piece. Perhaps far too sci-fi or comic book plot a reason, but I’d pay to see that adapted. Joking aside, there’s very little to laugh about 3TEETH. This is dark, dark music, with elements of all three of those bands, manifesting itself into a soundtrack for the sinister of psyche. Cold, mechanical and splattered in grey, 3TEETH’s debut album represents somewhat of a restore factory settings reset to industrial’s origins and principles and for a band only two years of age, their vision of an electronic oblivion is all the more staggering. Unveiled, a lighter shade of oblivion, combines haunting modular synths, a metallic and electronic percussion arrangement and a monotone snarl inside of a glitchy, malfunctioning server room, echoing to high heaven. The 80’s meets the 90’s, and the track is a gloomy but glorious work of art. 3TEETH present to you a show reel of urban decay and social deconstruction so well produced and so well composed, very few words can truly do it justice.
3TEETH’s debut album, and an album of remixes from high profile industrial names can be purchased on their Bandcamp page, or at all respectable music retailers, in physical or digital format.