Liquorworks

I sit back and think to myself every so often and wonder this: Is the best music in the world always composed when the musicians themselves are hammered? There are cases for the prosecution and the defence here. In favour, the undisputed gravel-driven poetry of Tom Waits’ The Piano Has Been Drinking, even if not woven together inebriated, at the least the piano was. But on the defence, alcohol has ruined careers and even concluded them, bar Hendrix’ infamous demise and recently Sum 41 frontman Derrick Whibley being a few more millilitres away from being in the ground. So where does Liquorworks fit into this puzzle? Aside from the not-so-subtle elbow in the ribs of their namesake, the Finnish duo’s music, while ultimately brilliant, has an aura of being under the influence in that it’s so unpredictable and wild, the results will likely take you aback. Thankfully, it’s in a wonderful way. The two gentlemen from Vimpeli, Finland craft a form of technical, progressive metal that flourishes from the additional twists of stand out instruments including a saxophone, occasional keyboard and even an organ in patches. Think of it as an orchestra conducted by a mental institution and you’d be about there. While their first album Nonsense had more than a few moments of dizzying excellence, 2013’s Muscle Explosion took that bar to the next level. Final track Robotektor takes on the form of an intense metal pursuit, but one that manages to distil some comedic undertones into the madness. Across the four minute running time, arpeggios of keyboard ascend, guitars shred, drums are destroyed and organ casts down judgement, all at incredible pace. The lunacy on show is more than enough to hardened metal militia happy, while those standing from a technical stand point will be blown away. Despite there being only two of them, the illusion of an insanely tight chemistry between a full band makes the mouth water at the prospect of a live performance. Credit where credit is due, Liquorworks are unbelievably good. Tech metal seems to take itself a little too seriously at the best of times, but one sitting with this wacky, creative behemoth of a metal band and happiness can only follow. Best served in a pint glass with a cocktail umbrella. Cheers.

Liquorworks’ most recent efforts, last year’s Cosmos Compost EP and Muscle Explosion can be bought from their Bandcamp page for a reasonable fee, whereas 2011’s Nonsense and Moist Computer EP can downloaded for free from their Soundcloud page. Most respectable music retailers also apply.

https://www.facebook.com/Liquorworks?fref=ts

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Majestic Mojo

The bass often gets relegated to the furthest regions of the musical pecking order, essentially being the reinforcement of a musical siege upon whoever may be listening. That of course is, unless your name is Les Claypool. But there was once a period in time where the bass was integral to the construction and success to a very prominent era of music, one that could be labelled as at risk of extinction in modern music. That era was the rise of disco and the explosion of funk in the 70’s. Of all of the originators, very few are still around, the core principles of funk having long since transitioned and transformed in modern pop music. It’s rare nowadays that you’ll hear out and outright straight up funk with the exception of a certain Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars collaboration and occasionally Red Hot Chili Peppers. Although dormant in indefinite hiatus, the power and energy behind Sweden’s Majestic Mojo certainly gave a new shining hope to the plight of funk music. The bass here was given a starring role in giving the groove, attitude and swagger that funk demanded. Playing what is described as heavy funk or ‘hunk,’ the machismo of the gentlemen from Karlstad was an attraction since 2005 and did spawn one fist-pumping compilation of good-time rock stompers called What A Handsome Face. And immediately from the beginning of Two Legged Freaks, that party spirit is demonstrated with an impressive slap-bass display, driving full steam the groove train into the salutations of trumpets and in-your-face rapping bravado, that cannot fail at putting a smile on your face. Ample spotlight is given to the outstanding bass show here, but the composition of this track at such a pace and at such a short running time all deserves applause. As good an introduction to this band and the thrill-a-minute fairground that funk is capable of, it seems such a shame that their take on a sound in capativity, has faded into near obscurity after toiling for six years. Funk’s not dead, not by a long shot, but if there ever was a fantastic reminder that bands can still perform the musical language in one of its most unrefined incarnations with such charisma and flair, Majestic Mojo deserve be a far, far bigger band than they ever were. Here’s hoping to their return one day.

Sadly having vanished for four years, any independent means of supporting them in musical limbo has disappeared, aside from being available from most respectable music retailers. They’re available on Spotify and Last.fm too if you want to support them that way.

https://www.facebook.com/majesticmojo?fref=ts

Psilocybe Larvae

You ever get the feeling that you stare at a band name with a completely vacant expression because you have no idea what that means, but you certainly want to know more? I guarantee those without a background in biology will definitely be thinking that right now. The inclusion of larvae implies offspring or spawn of some description and a psilocybe is… actually a mushroom. The genus known to induce hallucinations in fact. So one could assume you’re getting a psychedelic band, but you couldn’t be more dead wrong. This imposing Russian outfit actually apply their trade in progressive death metal, occasionally incorporating classical and symphonic sensibilities into the otherwise vicious musical arrangements. Their career has survived nearly 20 years, four albums and countless line-up changes, but their free-flowing approach to a genre famed for its savagery is refreshing on a quickly stagnating scene. Although labelling themselves as a manic-depressive band is kinda deceptive, their execution in reality is far more uplifting. The music of Psilocybe Larvae does have some bleak overtones for sure, but the addition of keyboard and what almost sounds like a string section elevates the already stellar schizoid nature of the death metal towering above, into a grander, more engrossing listening experience. The most recent effort from the band, 2012’s The Labyrinth of Penumbra showcases guttural growls and soaring clean vocals running in parallel, guiding you through a perilous yet enchanting journey through this darkened world they lay forth before you. Opening track Soul Trekking leads you in with gentle warps of keyboard and the sorrow-tinged plucking of guitar, before building with cavernous bass and the ominous pounding of drums, to the lift of the curtain and the grizzled voice of authority. Clutching you in their grip, the band then walk you into an empowered metal display, filled with ferocious double-kicks, sharp guitar marksmanship and regal sounding atmospherics. The bridge however with just the chugging of bass, an enlightening keyboard melody and the hushed voice of a sinister presence is undoubtedly a highlight of this evolving, affecting landscape. Psilocybe Larvae is a fascinating death metal specimen, akin to the realms that fans of Septicflesh currently tread, one that deserves further attention and a larger awareness. Their talent for orchestrating a progressive nightmare with an unchained sense of sorrow and despair, but can remain an engaging listen and excite in equal stead is unbeatable, and they deserve that step up onto a higher climate of exposure.

The Labyrinth of Penumbra and 2009’s Non-Existence can found on their Bandcamp page, although oddly not for sale. You can find these two albums however on most respectable music retailers and buy merchandise from their website. How to obtain their previous two albums nowadays I’m unsure of. Also they are currently looking for a new drummer, so go hit them up if you fancy being in a killer death metal band.

https://www.facebook.com/psilocybelarvae?fref=ts

6 Bands I’m Learning Black Magic For To Resurrect Them

Affecting free will, or even reanimating the dead is a near impossible task to accomplish, unless you have lots of money. Maybe not so much the dead part though, if the deceased can come back to life from slamming a suitcase full of money on their coffin or ashes, then Michael Jackson and Elvis would still be touring now. Then again, holograms. The point is, there are circumstances out of our control that affect what we love on a day-to-day basis and as much as it hurts, you want to do whatever you can to make it better again. In my instance, it’s bands that are inactive, deceased or simply no longer exist any more. So I’ve assembled a cast of five semi-unknown bands and one famous that I would willingly unearth from the great musical cemetary, in no particular order:

  1. Ulterior
Photo source: The Quietus/Unknown

Photo source: The Quietus/Unknown

Press who are in the know about this London synth-rock/neo-goth outfit adore them, but their current whereabouts right now are unknown. All social media traces of them have disappeared bar their website, but even that only features a full-screen YouTube video. I can only assume they’ve disbanded, which is a tragedy for fans of icy, vengeful synth-dominated rock, that poured attitude and an arousal into the heart of darker electronica. I already have written about this band on three occasions, my personal favourite here. They chose three words: icecold, staticvenom and speedhate to describe their music and it’s spot on. While politically charged and taking square aim at mass media, there’s a lingering Sisters of Mercy flavour in their palette, yet the flirting with pseudo-industrial and the unmistakeable 80’s synth sound, there’s an anger but an addictive personality to their cold-hearted yet incredible songwriting.

Five of their best:




Everything else is via Bandcamp.

      2. Schoolyard Heroes

Photo source: Pop Matters/Unknown

Photo source: Pop Matters/Unknown

My case for Schoolyard Heroes isn’t even funny as they reformed last year for a one-off show in the States, but have no intentions for continuing on their cult appeal since calling it quits in 2009. The Seattle-based fearsome foursome were one of a kind and the fever around them has grown noticeably since their split. What Schoolyard Heroes essentially did best was a punk rock horror cabaret, splicing the struggles of teenage life with B-Movies and the macabre, resulting in an all out assault that could be glamorous as it could visceral. Although with three albums to their name, all completed well within their youth, you can only feel disappointed that their infectious punk parade didn’t spread like the plague. There’s so much to enjoy from their utter delight in matters most morbid and the exact kind of fun and insanity that modern music is missing.

Five of their best:
Children Of The Night
The Plastic Surgery Hall Of Fame
They Live
Contra
Bury The Tooth Of The Hydra And A Skeleton Army Will Arise

Social media is scarce bar Facebook, but their music is readily available from most respectable music retailers.

3. Working For A Nuclear Free City

Photo source: Indie On Bunnies/Unknown

Photo source: Indie For Bunnies/Unknown

Previous to Gary McClure’s new found success in lo-fi indie rock darling American Wrestlers, he was one fourth of an incredible Mancunian troupe of musicians and producers known as Working For A Nuclear Free City. What the status of the band is currently unsure as not long ago they were on the lookout for a video editor, possibly signalling new incoming material that never arrived. Those on the insider’s circle and were aware of Working For A Nuclear Free City’s existence knew of the vast creative capacity that they housed, but they never received the full acclaim they rightfully deserved. Mining from an inexhaustible bank of inspiration and influences, they put together three (four including the now-elusive rarities) albums of some of the most eclectic music I’ve ever encountered. An under-appreciated and true original band, hopefully to return one day.

Five of their best:
Rocket
Asleep At The Wheel
Quiet Place
Alphaville
Brown Owl

Social media works for them, even though their posts are sporadic via Facebook. I had no idea this song existed until I searched out of curiosity, but go buy this via Bandcamp and for everything else, go get their music via most respectable music retailers. Also if you’re into that sort of thing, go read this interview of theirs, it’s hilarious.

4. Pitchblend

Photo source: Altwall.net/Unknown

Photo source: Altwall.net/Unknown

This is one of the saddest stories on this list for me. As a band from Reading in the UK, a seasoned music city from a national perspective, to perform for 10 years, and to have next to zero recognition for what is a seminal sound and phenomenal emotional and spirtual journey, should be punishable under the country’s justice system. This is by no means their fault however, whether victims of circumstance or the cruel realities of life, people just weren’t in tune with their explosive wave of stunning post-rock exhibitionism. How beats me. Rarely can you hear so much passion and belief agonisingly pour out of every single note and word without fail. There is never a wasted moment on the entire Lines Of Unreason album and the fact this has stayed buried in the musical graveyard is a travesty. Words do so little to give merit to how excellent this album truly is.

Five of their best:
Sirens
Celsius
Revelation
Searching For Satellites
Somewhere I Could Never Find

There is a Facebook page for the band, though it is very much inactive. Their music is however available via most respectable music retailers.

5. Pure Reason Revolution

Photo source: NME/Press

Photo source: NME/Press

Boy, where do I even begin with these guys… There’s been very quiet rumblings yet incredible demand for a possible reunion for years, but no actual drive to capitalise on it since their demise in 2011. Whatever their reasons, Pure Reason Revolution were a breed unlike any others in their class. Marrying intelligent progressive rock with luscious pop harmonies that later stretched into deep electronica territory that still maintained their killer songwriting principles, the London musicians behind this monumental project rightfully gained a rabid cult following. But press tried in all their might to elevate the band to the height they deserved and shockingly, it was never reached. One day, one day, there’s a hope that they will return and their astonishing progressive masterpieces will conquer a new generation of fans.

Five of their best:
Bullitts Dominae
The Twyncyn/Trembling Willows
Deus Ex Machina
Black Mourning
Over The Top

Oddly, their Facebook updates occasionally, but not with Pure Reason Revolution news. Go show support if you enjoy them anyway. Their music is available at most respectable music retailers, buy all the copies.

and last but no means least…

    6. Type O Negative

Photo source: NY Rock/Unknown

Photo source: NY Rock/Unknown

While there is a remote hope for every band on this list to reform, chances here are far beyond impossible. Why? If you’re not familiar with the name Type O Negative, then you won’t be aware that vocalist, bassist and literal giant personality Peter Steele has been dead for five years, tragically passing away from the effects of an aortic aneurysm aged just 48. The music of Type O Negative has always had an air of severe gloom attached to it, oft with self-depreciating humour and self-loathing running through every fibre of their being, becoming synonymous with the band (they were nicknamed the ‘Drab Four,’ playing on the Beatles moniker). There’s an entire conversation for another time here which may arrive at a later date, but the long story short is, the irreplaceable black but beautiful expanding harmonies and inexplicable doom of one of goth rock’s best and beloved bands will seldom be replicated.

Five of their best:
Wolf Moon
Love You To Death
We Hate Everyone
I Don’t Wanna Be Me
Dead Again

Their Facebook updates are rare but relevant should you wish to get them, but worth showing support too. Their music as expected is also available via all respectable music retailers and the vast majority of merchandise can be obtained through their website.

Until I figure out a way to raise the dead, may all these bands rest in peace…

Dirty Scarab

Sometimes, some musicians are enigmatic, not because they don’t want to be found, but building a mystery behind the incredible skill and production that goes into making memorable music compositions, creates an allure that music fans flock to. One of the most high profile cases of this was the mystery surrounding electronic producer Burial, who for years was a myth, aside from his untouchable production abilities and stunning musical invocations because he kept himself hidden from the public. But the second he pulled back the curtain, the hype began to fade. Talents never die, but enigmas certainly can. Dirty Scarab is no exception. Prior to writing this piece, there is next to no social media presence nor a website for this under-the-radar producer, but details did eventually emerge with a little further digging. Dirty Scarab is the brainchild of Ben Youngs, a Leicester man who currently resides stateside, that specialises in remixes and soundtracks, accumulating a wealth of independent movie credits and more impressively, Trent Reznor-endorsed Nine Inch Nail remixes. Such as his talent for excelling in sheer breadth of production, his only album, 2009’s First Stint, contains a playroom of eclectronic sights, sounds and sensations, to sate whatever aural desires your state of mind decides. Naturally, a single song doesn’t speak for this brilliant artist’s entire creative repertoire, but it can showcase an aspect that they are capable of and nothing else says blackened mechanical wasteland like The Brooding. Setting forth on a high-impact hip-hop pace, booms of bass nestle under the encroaching menace and what sounds like robotic gurgling. The danger then engulfs you and a blasting of pained sirens and rusted robotic limbs edging closer, with the padding of a deep rumbling bass wall is incredibly unsettling. Everything screams foreboding, but there’s a delicate light of hope in a small riff of bright, graceful synth that in its two appearances, banishes that intense darkness and more than completes this track. No wonder Ben Youngs is proficient in soundtrack work, such well-realised and crafted atmosphere could cradle a compelling visual scenario with absolute ease. Though I have taken aback the cover over Dirty Scarab’s persona, ending an albeit brief puzzle, his versatility and adeptness behind the production desk heighten his credentials as a sterling young electronic producer, as much as a social media face figure equivalent.

Dirty Scarab’s work can’t be traced on the usual modes of music discovery such as Bandcamp, but First Stint is available completely for free, with the option to donate for his work on Jamendo or you can find him on CDBaby and support him that way. Of course, his music can be found be on most respectable music retailers too.

http://www.last.fm/music/Dirty+Scarab

P.S. Eclectronic is a term I’ve decided to use, to give to artists that can make or excel in producing more than one kind of electronic music.

Jaw Bones

I’d like to think dentists have a hidden agenda as to why they are in the business they are in. Let’s face it, they are in one of the best paid professions possible in society that doesn’t involve being a fat cat corporation figurehead or a banking tycoon. What could go beyond profiteering off of our health defects? Childhood trauma? Sadism? Teeth fetish club? Personally, my money is on that when faced with a biting power the size of Thessaloniki, Greece’s Jaw Bones, their immediate reaction would be to neutralise the threat, because it is scarily powerful. So dentists are keepers of peace by weakening the pearly gnashers we carry in our mouths, to quell any overpowering urge to crush with them. That highly fantastical musing aside, Jaw Bones are indeed a forceful and dominant outfit in the Mediterranean stoner scene, since their inception in 2006 and subsequent rebirth following the departure of key members, completely justifying their namesake. Their roots primarily lie in grunge a la Alice In Chains, but there’s elements of Tool certainly in their work as well as more thrash and punk creeping into their more recent material. The band have been hard at work on their debut LP for a number of years, but certainly solidifying their live status as some of Greece’s most exhilarating live performances in recent times. Supporting the likes of Therapy?, Clutch and 1000Mods is a stamp of approval enough on their license to thrill. Though their recorded output only so stretches as far as a three song EP, the potential tower of strength and wealth of talent is undeniable. Ego Tripper reaches the apex of stoner rock nirvana, with vocal harmonies touching that Alice In Chains nerve ever so gently, whilst taking the odd moment to descend into some soft funk. A Thousand Masks certainly is a far harder, darker affair, wearing that Tool influence with pride and calculating how to destroy everyone in its vicinity as efficiently as possible. Last but not least, Fear takes the band on that promised rampage, taking a flamethrower’s worth of riffs and torching its surroundings with white hot intensity, before incredible primal howls flatten everything still remaining. Fear? Damn right it’s fearsome. If the dentist story were true, on the considerable scale and vigour of Jaw Bones’ grunge avalanche demonstrated in just three songs, quite rightfully they should be in awe of their might. The best thing is there is more to come, and fans of hard rock with teeth to crush and maul everything in their wake should be excited by that appetising prospect.

The aforementioned EP can be bought from their Bandcamp page, in digital format on a pay-what-you-want basis, or physical format for a bargain. Footage of some more recent material can also be found on YouTube, courtesy of Contemporary Bohemians in Bulgaria. Go check their YouTube channel too.

https://www.facebook.com/JawBonesTheBand?fref=ts

Vienna Circle

I find it’s just as nice that a band give you a history lesson, as opposed to journalists and writers filling in the blanks for the audience at hand. Modern metal has given us a shed load of lessons on civilisation’s greatest triumphs and conflicts, courtesy of the likes of Sabaton, Ex Deo, and well… at a stretch Iron Maiden. It’s also not more uncommon than not that progessive rock bands conceptualise entire albums on a narrative or storyline, which that their music serves as a aural counterpart to the words used, after all, Mastodon got their career off to a start by doing so. But how many bands actually mix both historical contexts with a deeply emotive storyline, to create a phenomenal cinematic experience unlike very few you could ever listen to? The brothers Davis would like to throw their hats in the ring. Vienna Circle, named after a gathering of philosophers and scientists in Austria’s capital university spanning over three decades, actually hail from Wiltshire in the UK and their story of 2008’s White Clouds concerns the First World War and the protagonist heading to the frontline. The music and lyrics deal with the emotional hardships of the protagonist, later taking flight and depicting the inevitable firefights that tear their world asunder. White Clouds as a whole, could be best described as taking Dream Theater’s Metropolis Part 2, making it less complex in narrative and mellower but far, far more heart-rendering. It feels wrong to separate just one song to put under the microscope, as it kinda takes away, almost cheapens, the immersion of the whole experience but to gage a taste of the incredible capabilities of these awesome musicians, I bring you the achingly beautiful ballad of A Break In The Clouds. Emphasizing that progressive nature far more fondly than the rock side, aside from that utterly magnificent guitar solo, the gorgeous piano-driven composition resonates an elegance that some classical artists can’t even match, with the strings then woven with it together to create a far greater emotional impetus. Drums are understated to say the least, but serve to only increase the scale and magnitude of the mood invoked here. Vocals reach a soulful level that braces your tear ducts for overtime, which extended to near six minutes of running time becomes a near impossible sensation to fight off. If you’re apart from your lover, or mourning the loss of someone dear to you, you may need a Kleenex for this one. Fittingly, the soft bloops of keyboard at the end accompany the hallowed bells of a clock tower to bring this astonishing piece to a close. And that’s just one excerpt of this fantastic album. It practically defies belief that such lovingly crafted music and attention to detail is nearly all the work of just two brothers with a passion for captivating, emotionally stirring storytelling. Vienna Circle are truly a marvel, a remarkable pair of musicians who deserve every accolade and acclaim bestowed upon them, showing a serenity and grace to progressive music that bands can scarcely dream of conceiving.

Their most recent album Silhouette Moon came out two years ago after being crafted over five years after its predecessor, and while yet to listen through the entire album, what I’ve heard matches this jaw-dropping standard. Both that and White Clouds can be bought from their website, or from most respectable music retailers. I implore you to listen to both albums in full. You won’t regret it.

https://www.facebook.com/viennacircleband?fref=ts