Mechanical Vampires

I’m semi-proud of this post, as I feel like I’m near the very front of the line for a group on the cusp of their emergence into the wider world of underground music. This is about as new and exciting as I have possibly ever gotten to a write-up of a group I have had next to zero interaction with previously, bar a chance encounter on Instagram. Like my namesake suggests, I do my homework and have laid in wait ever since. Seriously, the name isn’t just for show ladies and gents. It’s a lifestyle. If you interact with me over social media, even if you work on a follow-for-follow mentality, I do pay attention. Anyway, I digress. New Jersey’s Mechanical Vampires, after a promising ambient-industrial etched teaser known only as The Lynchpin and what seems like months of masterminding since early this year, finally unveiled their first full length song in Gemini and I sit here only 24 hours or so later, telling you why you should be excited by this enthralling new duo in the doorway of electro-industrial. If the minute of freezing cold keys against harsh distortion and air-tight percussion in The Lynchpin didn’t whet your appetite, then Gemini is by far the entrée you should be sinking your teeth into, literally. Obviously it fleshes out the icy atmosphere to a greater dimension, being nearly three minutes longer than The Lynchpin, but there’s a contagious pop undertone that partners so well with the thundering beats and muted abrasion from the guitar too. Sawtooth synth stabs enter like footsteps through that aforementioned doorway before bursting into life from dense percussion, echoing strong enough to hit straight through you, soft arpeggios to give some frostbite to the ambience and bass that rumbles the pit of your stomach. A male voice of reassurance cuts through the soundscape, but suits this colder, darker electronic manifestation perfectly, truly doing the scale of this track justice as gigantic as it becomes. There’s something about his spoken demeanour that is as soothing as it is inspiring, bringing a mesmerising human warmth to a mostly frozen atmosphere. And when it comes to that chorus, it glows brightly enough to bask in. Adding that vocal hook into the mix also, is just one more reason for Gemini to seep deep into your skin. The effect only becomes greater with each listen until it reaches maximum infatuation point. You could make a lazy comparison and claim that Mechanical Vampires are a more industrial-sounding PVRIS, but whilst PVRIS resemble an electronic-tainted Paramore, Mechanical Vampires already breach atmospheric and emotional depths far greater than they realise on the strength on a single song. Gemini is a stunning composition, a beautifully produced electronic master stroke that delicately reaches beyond the barriers of both industrial and pop music and seduces any onlookers with its alluring gaze. When is more on the way?

Despite being developed over the course of the year, Mechanical Vampires is still a project in its infancy, so they need all the support they can get. Gemini can be bought from CDBaby for a hardly change bothering sum, or they are generously giving it away for free from here at the exchange of sharing the song, which you should definitely be doing anyway.

Go send some love in their direction:

https://www.facebook.com/mechanicalvampires?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/MechVamps

And if you are feeling especially generous, why not consider sending some love in my direction too? You don’t have to, entirely optional:

https://www.facebook.com/IAmTheSoundshark
https://twitter.com/The_Soundshark

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Mad Penguins

OK gang, time for a history-cum-geography lesson. Stoner rock. Where in the world do you reckon it originated in? I think can hear you saying America there. Correct. In the Palm Desert of California, DIY musicians and party goers hauled generators and held all-night jam sessions until the dawn, or the authorities turned up. Now, where do you reckon the scene is best right now? Europe? Yes, arguably. Where is surprisingly good right now? It may take you a while on this one, but the answer is actually Italy. I don’t exactly know what it is, or where it’s coming from, but Italy houses an astonishing underground array of psyche, blues, sludge and stoner bands that few seem to be taking notice of, at least at the moment. But their scene is absolutely thriving right now. One last unintentionally patronising question: Where do penguins live? Somewhere cold right? Yes, and no. At least if your country’s name is Ecuador anyway. But according to a Brescia three-piece, some of the angriest or craziest of this particular diving bird species like to holiday to Europe and hone their skills as a killer rock outfit, that marries punk bravado and stoner swagger with the ceremony held in a grunge mud pool. The latter become increasingly more apparent with their whack at Nirvana’s Scentless Apprentice on brand new release Radamanthys, if course guitars drowning in enough slurry to rival the Thames Estuary and heavy enough to tenderise a kitten in a matter of seconds wasn’t an indicator. Make no mistake, their music has a ferocity about it that does live up to their namesake, a real hard strike to the solar plexus of mediocrity in every possible way. One of the hardest hitters is Grindmind, detonating in your face immediately, leaving the squeals and squawks of guitar and the battering of skins to lead you into the beast’s domain, where fiery, crunching riffs and a maddening call of torment maul even the most cautious of souls. The song title is spot on, as the soundscape scrapes away at listening capacity you have, there’s almost the theatrics of the vocalist’s sanity in decline, his delivery certainly become more erratic towards the song’s climax. Perhaps a little like a certain frontman from Seattle we know and loved. You can certainly feel the vitriol spill from every syllable uttered, and only heightens the intensity on display here. This history and geography lesson didn’t intend to delve into the depths of musical darkness, but boy do Mad Penguins deliver that. For the unsuspecting, this three-piece deliver an occasionally uncomfortably heavy rock and roll tour de force, add in the lunacy of the vocals and the brazen attempts to punt your teeth down your throat and you have a legitimately dangerous musical trio, that people should get excited about.

Radamanthys only came out last week, but with 2013’s El Capretto, 2010’s When Tomorrow Hits and 2008’s When Difference Hits, all of these albums and tracks can be bought from their Bandcamp page. Depending on where you look, you can also find their albums at most respectable music retailers too.

Now I said these penguins were nasty, but all penguins like cuddles, and you can do so here:

https://www.facebook.com/Mad-Penguins-34058088538/
https://twitter.com/RockMadPenguins

Could I too also have a cuddle, a like follow or subscribe-shaped cuddle? You don’t have to really though:

https://www.facebook.com/IAmTheSoundshark
https://twitter.com/The_Soundshark

bIg toBacCo CoMpaNY – D.B.

If this name looks familiar to you already, then that may be because I have written about these fine gentlemen recently in an article published generally covering what they do and what you can expect from them. That said, my musings on them sounding like a movie monster orgy, with an attitude reflective of a mischievous schoolchild may have to take a slight run back. Things are getting a little serious. Not too serious, but serious enough to warrant a statement of intent. Their debut album IS in existence, currently being pieced together as we speak and this is the second song to be taken from it, kindly extended to me as a form of informal partnership between myself and the band. They make the music, I write about it essentially. But whilst intentions are more serious, that’s not the only thing that sounds more serious here. D.B., abbreviated for Dick But showcases a more melodic side of the band we’ve yet to hear from what material of theirs floats around the internet. The beginning starts out kind of recalling the mellower, Middle Eastern-infused System Of A Down moments, the first guitar initially igniting a ominous spark, right before the harmony between the two guitars and chugging of bass almost ushers a sombre shadow over proceedings. The sound is far more emotionally attentive, but you can feel that it can only build-up to something bigger. A guitar whispers ‘Time’s up,’ with its last breath and the heavy artillery explodes in your eardrums. Piercing screams and some incredibly brutal growls fight for vocal control while what can only be described as the musical equivalent of being crushed into dust by the pyramids of Egypt bears down on what remains of your nerves. It’s savage, but utterly enjoyable. Then an impressive clean third voice emerges from the ruins, impressive so for writhing free from the previous throat torture, as if in prayer for mercy from the onslaught. Obviously denied. The quiet-loud dynamic is vicious, going from concentrated barbaric bursts of metal, to slightly more touching, contemplative melodies with a hint of deviance at its heart. The sum of both parts makes for a terrific ride nonetheless. Playing out with those melodies does make for a very satisfying conclusion too, ending an eventful four minutes. This band continues to impress me I must say, a maturation of the music previous to their release perhaps, but without compromising on their experimental piledriver of a metal monster. A new song release every month looks to be a calendar date worth saving right now.

Album releases don’t get by without money unfortunately, so these gentlemen need your love and support to make its inception as big as it possibly can be by backing their Kickstarter campaign. In return, you’ll get access to all the songs as soon as they’re available, and you can be credited on the album as making it happen cap’n. That certainly would give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. So what are you waiting for?

If you haven’t already, go tell them if I’m right or not:

https://www.facebook.com/bIgtoBacCocoMpaNY?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/bIgtoBacCocoMpa

And if you would like to tell me if I’m right or not, or whatever:

https://www.facebook.com/IAmTheSoundshark
https://twitter.com/The_Soundshark

Universal Theory

I don’t really remember to what sort of length I’ve discussed goth on this blog before. I know the extent of which I have discussed subculture, but not actually empathising or focusing on one particular culture. Anyway, I’m already heading for a tangent here, but if you have any cultural knowledge of the 1980’s, you’ll understand the significance of the goth movement from the latter half of the decade, seeping into the early 1990’s. It still exists in society very much today, but in more of a translucent, subdued kinda way I feel. Their echoes do resonate through some modern artists nowadays, but so few and far between occurrences, that to me the scene appears to lurk in a tomb of its own gloominess, so far underground you’d need to ask Shell to borrow a drill to start digging with. In my eyes though, goth rock encountered an identity crisis because media mouthpieces started flinging labels at bands like Type O Negative, whose noticeable gloomy aesthetic and occasional playing at the pace of barely breathing gained far more publicity, than their recognition of having more musically in common with Black Sabbath or The Beatles. Those seeds were very much sown and a new translation of the phrase was born. So we stand here with Universal Theory, a Spanish duo whose music flows with a similar lifeblood that once filled Type O Negative, but are very much their own artefact of intrigue. Between just two of them, to construct a record with an eruption and outpouring of atmosphere and sombre yet infatuating tones is outright astonishing. Guitars billow with distortion, heavy enough to cause bleeding from the ears, with a vintage monotone but strangely appealing male set of vocals and a luscious siren’s sigh of female vocals to accompany it. Together they are backed by an army of trance-inducing synthesisers, drums purpose built to direct chaos or compassion and a stunning hand-stitched orchestral tapestry that enhances their gothic overtones far beyond just an icy chill in the air. While tracks like Before Sunrise showcase their vicious streak, the second part of Romance demonstrates a deeper emotional personality in their music. Almost waltzing with a saddened violinist through a downpour to begin with, guitars carve their mark into the mix quickly but settle in as an additional atmospheric marker wonderfully, that extra texture serving the melancholy very well. There is an instance of a riff interjecting every so often that threatens to topple the beautiful score in progress, instead serving as an impactful footnote in the otherwise well-realised atmosphere. The last minute or so of the song culminates in the escalation of this emotion, into an intense but moving whirlwind of strings moistening your eyes while drums cause calamity at the final stretch, and vocals calmly bring the proceedings to a halt. This is just one highlight of a terrifically formulated project. The Most Attractive Force couldn’t be more correct of an album name if they’d had it tattooed on their retinas. It sounds like a prog rock burial if one came across, but is without a doubt, one of the most beautifully involving, emotively stirring albums to emerge from the nether this year. Goth called, they say they’re doing pretty well. That should be the universal theory.

Both The Most Attractive Force and their earlier Mystery Timeline can be bought from Metal Hell Records’ Bandcamp page, whereas Mystery Timeline can be bought in a physical or digital capacity from most respectable music retailers. They also have a website you should be looking at. Just saying.

Tell them you like them:

https://www.facebook.com/universaltheory?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/universaltheory

And if you would like to, you can tell me you like me too, via my social media channels also:

https://www.facebook.com/IAmTheSoundshark
https://twitter.com/The_Soundshark

The No-Nation Orchestra

It’s always exciting for me to gets my hands on something different instead of alternating between rock and electronic the entire time, as much as I do love writing about them both. I haven’t really gotten stuck in with more exotic flavours and soundscapes since starting the blog and that’s down to me settling into a nest of complacent comfort, and not spreading my musical wings as far as I could. Don’t get me wrong, I adore jazz and world music. I had the express pleasure of DJing an evening of jazz once. A local festival to me happens to be called Rhythms of The World and both the times I’ve been in attendance have been tremendous fun. Just my expeditions and forays into the gargantuan territory of world music have been limited and I’d be unsure how and where to start. I’ve given some exposure to culturally diverse musicians beforehand, Orange Tulip Conspiracy, International Diamond Thieves, Golem! and Hallouminati to name a few but that area has been lacking in company. So hopefully this collective I’m about to have the pleasure of reviewing will be the start of a more frequent genre of music and the start of that aforementioned expedition. For today, we focus upon The No-Nation Orchestra, an experiment put together by many Salt Lake City, Utah-based musicians, the union of which has crafted two EPs thus far of Latin-spiked, afrobeat-infused progressive jazz rhythms. As you’d expect, the combination of these elements make for an intoxicating feel-good wave of boisterous brass, intricate percussion, occasionally jerky yet funky guitar string swiping, all while adding a set of soulful vocal enchantments, with a surprisingly deep moral compass to them. The Coil EP released in November last year, houses the almost ironically sunshine-soaked conga of Past Shadows, a warning served to the hardships of war expressed from a menagerie of percussion driving funk-based jazz. What I enjoy most is the baton passing between each instrument section, switching from the glowing guitar notes and bass groove, to the decidedly shrill male and warming female harmonies, to the empathic brass greeting, the wall of beats and texture behind it maintaining that exotic zest that these musicians clearly are thriving upon. While there are words to ponder and reflect over, Past Shadows, with the help of an irrepressible Latin charm, lives its four and a half minute running time as one of the most sophisticated party compositions I’ve encountered in some time. Even nearing its climax, it doesn’t lose its composure, keeping the tempo steady but mellowing in tone ever so slightly enough to finish on a satisfying high. The collective of The No-Nation Orchestra is a collaboration, but there’s a chemistry here that defies meeting every year or so, almost woven by the threads of fate themselves. Suave but flamboyant in their mannerisms, their recordings invite political delegates from all over the world for a poolside barbecue and leaves all the party accessories out. Mature in intention and execution, but an utter delight of an experience to become part of.

The Coil EP and the More More More EP from 2011 are both available from the group’s Bandcamp page in digital or vinyl quality, both for a very reasonable sum. More More More can also be bought from most respectable music retailers in digital format. Go buy their music because it really is joyous listening.

Go show them some support because their social media numbers make me sad:

https://www.facebook.com/nonationorchestra?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/thenonation

And if you would like to support me to make me less sad too, then be my guest:

https://www.facebook.com/IAmTheSoundshark
https://twitter.com/The_Soundshark

Track Of The Week: Does It Offend You, Yeah? – Eyes All Over Me

Let me take you back a few years, to the turbulent time of 2009-2010. I was at sixth-form, but arguably the most critically influential time in my life for music. My listening habits in these years I can safely say have contributed enormously to not just my tastes, but my personality and identity as a twenty-something male living in the United Kingdom.  I have always been a bit of an oddball, and in time, I have come to accept my quirks, my eccentricity and flaws and have learned to love myself as the person I have become. And I am proud of that person I have become, 90% of the time at least. I can safely say that there was a lot of albums, probably far too many to recall right now, that had an effect and an influence on what I grew to like musically, but without a shadow of a doubt, on what has become one of my all-time favourite albums, You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into remains as important as it ever has to me. Sure, I was a little late to this party at first, but there’s something about their blend of electro-punk ferocity and rhythmic indie deliveries that still stays inspiring, ever since its inception in 2008. A true hybrid style if one could be deciphered into.

2011’s Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You was a mellower affair granted, a more mature evolution if you will if being mentored by The Prodigy’s Liam Howlett has anything to do with it, but still contained some thumping anthems nestled within. I cannot thank them enough for making Wrestler, one of my eternal DJ set staples and dancefloor annihilators. But, after two years or so touring the album and travelling around the world in incredibly high profile support slots, they turned the project off at the switch to focus on other endeavours. DJ sets under the band alias happened during that hiatus but fans had always hungered for a full return one day. Fast forward to 27th July 2015, and prayers to various deities were answered. Sort of. A one-off show was announced for December and excitement clamoured around all corners of the globe for a ticket release. Myself and friends of mine, along with around 1,000 other lucky recipients are fortunate enough to be able to be in attendance for their Electric Ballroom show. But while they hype their show, something of an added bonus, is that unreleased tracks are making their way to the light of day also.

Bringing us here, to All Eyes Over Me, technically the second song after I See Lights On The Horizon, informally referred to as With A Heavy Heart Part 2. The reward for whomever was able to correctly identify the exact clips and order of the montage in I See Lights Over The Horizon. Whatever you may be expecting from the band if you know of their previous material, disregard that completely. The only vague comparison point is their hip-hop short Wondering featuring their collaboration with Trip, and even so is a complete far cry from anything they’ve ever released or produced. You can tell just from the very instance of quiet hi-hat against complete silence, this will be an entirely different experience far from the bombast we’ve grown akin to. Bursts of bass lead in a very ambient, chilled and minimal pseudo-trip-hop beat, shaken percussion coolly sitting behind it as if waiting for a story to be recited. But that spoken word never really materialises. Instead we get a high-pitched refrain of ‘Eyes all over me,’ altered and manipulated through the course of the track to provide an additional melody to the bare bones exhibit. Something has to be said of the synth ambience too. The brightness and breeze that flows through it, kinda makes feel it as powerful and emotionally investing as watching ascension or a resurrection. Sonically though, the tone seems darker, far more cloaked in shadow than the fire, intensity and occasional introspective we know of their entire back catalogue before it. This doesn’t mean that it’s exempt from some of their trademark quirks and sound effect interjections, as some do squeeze their way in there. I’d be very interested to know when this track was actually written, as it would answer a lot of questions I feel the track raises. Not everything should have to have context, but certainly intriguing.

Understandably, as people are finding out about this track, a lot of fans are disappointed by it, dare I say, offended by it. But they’re disappointed by it, because it’s not another We Are Rockstars or The Monkeys Are Coming. Unfortunately for those, we’re never getting another You Have No Idea… and could never get any more material at all if they make good on their word of disbanding in December. You could tell that from buying Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You. We never could’ve had this track whatsoever if it wasn’t for the kind gesture of the competition winner, so big props to Drew Rogers for letting this track surface in the first place. What I appreciate about this track is how understated its beauty is, it does such a stellar job of invoking a reaction with minimal elements. For me, despite being a relaxing listen, there’s a sense of melancholy or soul-searching done in this track, and one that hasn’t been anywhere near as effective in any song they’ve written previously. Honestly, if I’d have written this, I’d be proud to have written it. Art. Art is the only thing more I can say. Judge for yourselves.

Eyes All Over Me, courtesy of the generous Drew Rogers and of course Does It Offend You, Yeah? can be downloaded for free from his Soundcloud. Does It Offend You, Yeah? supported by the superb Hounds and Them & Us play their final show at the Electric Ballroom on 12th December. There are still tickets available the last time I checked, so go get because it’s going to be incredible.

Go show them some love:

https://www.facebook.com/doesitoffendyou?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/dioyy
https://instagram.com/doesitoffendyouyeah/

And if you think I’ve done any justice to this band or this track, you can also show me some love too if you so wish, entirely your call:

https://www.facebook.com/IAmTheSoundshark?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/The_Soundshark