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
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bIg toBacCo CoMpaNY

There’s an unwritten rule you’re told from a young age but seldom expected to abide by. After all, free will is a marvellous gift and is certifiably one of the things that defines us as living organisms. Never judge a book by its cover. Perhaps a little too metaphorical for the context of this website, but it certainly taught me a lesson. A trend that seems to have emerged, especially within the indie community, is to take an average, everyday phrase and build a superb band identity around it. Fat White Family or The Neighbourhood for example, being perhaps two well-known and excellent cases for this observation. So hopefully I can be forgiven for assuming that on first glance, this could have been another to add to this trend. I honestly went in, expecting to hear a killer indie band. Boy was I surprised. Big Tobacco Company, though stylised as bIg toBacCo CoMpaNY, as opposed to being another of indie’s next big things, are actually an eccentric, movie monster mash-up of a metal band, similar in the vein of System Of A Down. And much like the young rapscallions that System Of A Down once were, tongues seem to not so much be firmly in cheek as boring a hole for freedom, if their social media is anything to go by. Their band logo is a baby rocking heavy duty headphones with a cigar taped to one ear, and the font looks drawn in Paint and coloured with stock textures from Word ’98 for christ sakes. But that’s where the joke begins to end. Amusing as their own antics are, there’s a pack of ferocious wolves that lay beneath the surface, luring you into falling for timidity only to have outstretched hands torn apart in a lust for bloodshed. They can be an unfathomably heavy experience to say the least, occasionally convulsing through their mood swings at times, but all while distancing themselves from the towering landfill of metal and deathcore wannabes. Doom Shroom, a slice taken from their perceived to be forthcoming debut album, demonstrates a little bit of the asylum mentality that their music takes on. Opening with almost nonchalant bass notes, little time is wasted in bursting out with guitars pulverising like stone fists from the gods, relentless drums hounding on your eardrums and vocals that switch from screams that could wither children in an instant, to gruelling, guttural growls you can feel at the pit of your own stomach, to understated clean sections which can only be described as the musical ramblings of a madman, complete with a melody you won’t forget in a hurry. But in a good way, it certainly has a Corey Taylor-kinda vibe to it. The addition of the choir puppeteered by keys halfway and at the end, also adds a nice extra atmospheric dimension instead of announcing a straight-up warpath. Doom Shroom doesn’t quite showcase their entire bag of tricks, but it’s an excellent introduction. The wackiness may not be to everyone’s taste, but there is still a brutal foundation for a formidable, enrapturing and undeniably unique metal force, unlike many before them. And remember kids, always check the label carefully, you never know what you’re getting yourself into.

I’m led to believe that once upon a time there was a six-song EP of theirs floating around, only it’s since disappeared from the internet. So until that time where material is released you should go to their website and listen to the three songs out there, being Doom Shroom, C0mb0 Song and rIpPleS, and else just have a general nose around.

Go give them a big virtual hug:

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

And if you liked the words I wrote, could I request a virtual hug too, be that in the form of a like, follow or blog subscription? At your own discretion of course:

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

Stalin

Bewilderment I’ve always thought is an unusual word. I can’t exactly explain why, but I’ve never felt overly compelled to use it in general conversation. According to the Oxford English dictionary, the definition of the word bewilderment is the state of being puzzled or confused at events that have transpired. Out of context, if you happen to be followed by an identity known only to you as Stalin, you can only be bewildered as to how this occurrence came about in the first place. After all, Stalin, the man himself, is one of the most divisive figures in modern history, as well as a hip-hop artist also from California apparently. So, just who or what is Stalin? That too is a subject of bewilderment. Although the facts are they are a rock band, there’s at least two of them and they have an interest in cult, stretching to occult paraphernalia, a box to define their sound or style doesn’t quite seem to fit them. Elements of bands in sparse amounts you can claim make up the fibre of their already distinct musical output, but aside from a background reminiscent of the school of grunge, they really are a beast of a unique breed. Whether progressive doom backed by eerie chimes in the distance, sludge dirges with a wistful piano break or the quiet-loud waiting game leading in a wave of devastation, Stalin does it with a beautiful yet slightly twisted flair that few bands are capable of. This is none more apparent in their possibly most accessible work California, in combination with the NSFW music video. Bass becomes a big focal point in the track, grinding the surface of sound into an uneasy meeting between yourself and a presence of unsettling intentions. Guitar opens the dialogue, a rich, almost lamenting series of notes expressing a tone of remorse, but not overbearingly so, kind of hinting that there may be an agenda more untoward than let on. Impressions from one of the most original vocal styles I’ve heard in years suggest that too, playing from sinister whispers, to soulful innocence, to crooning with a hint of deviance, to full-blooded screams, even foul-mouthed spoken word gets a look-in, all from the mouthpiece of an incredible talent. With a trance-like drum pattern, all of these pieces slot together into a tenebrous, evocative exhibition, leaving the listener on tenterhooks the entire time. The ending of four furious tapping and skin-bashing bursts into just ambience, the pounding of toms and yelling thought-provoking slogans is surprisingly powerful, not to mention relatively irregular in this kind of music. Unashamedly different in execution by unnervingly talented musicians, Stalin are not just a band, but an experience, an experience that keeps you guessing and rewards perseverance with a blackened take on reinventing the modern rock formula. Music for the masses they say? You’re damn right it is! Masses that have to hear this band.

Stalin are kind enough to be offering the majority of their recorded output on Bandcamp on a pay-what-you-want basis, which I’d recommend go looking at and supporting them. My words might make a little more sense if you watch the music video, which I’ll remind you is NSFW. You were warned. Oh, and they have a website to go look at too. Make sure you do that.

Go give them a like on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/Stalin1144?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/Stalin1144

And if you like and enjoy what I do, give me a like, a thumbs up on Twitter or consider following my blog, all optional, it’s your life after all:

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Destrage

When it comes to someone with the passion to actively seek out what music the world truly has to offer you, you come across many a colourful band every now and again. None seem to proving that theory any more right than roaming the rich plains of Europe’s metal scene. For every cookie-cutter metal or deathcore band out there, a weird and wonderful troupe dares to take metal and collide it with whatever exotic fruits they have to hand. Norway’s Shining are literal jazz metal and a sublime band. Sweden’s Diablo Swing Orchestra are an opera and big-band recital with electric guitars, and heavy at that. Greece’s Septicflesh are cinematic masters of scoring civilisations with a incredible string section and choir, against the backdrop of death metal. There are plenty of bands out there, like ores in the Earth’s rich crust awaiting their excavation. Then we come to Italy’s Destrage, for the most part an extremely tight tech metal quintet, but with the personality of a hyper scientist given a brand new chemistry set. They’ll take as may different components from the base materials and make it combustible in ways we could scarcely imagine. A twin-pronged guitar juggernaut, one prong more ferocious, the other more surgical, but equally as dangerous, form the brunt of their siege to their senses. But whether they rain metal hellfire, pummel with hardcore beatdowns, clash from contrasting time signatures or simmer to allow for the stunning vocal performance, the end result is nothing short of brilliance. Vocals themselves have to be given their own merits, dynamically shifting from frenzied yelps to lung-burning growls to occasionally emotionally touching and hard-hitting clean passages, sometimes all in the same breath. And drums, well, they just orchestrate the madness. Unpredictable utter madness. Last year’s Are You Kidding Me? No. is completely full of show-stealing instrumentation at literally nearly every given interval, and lead track Destroy Create Transform Sublimate is the total package. Insane tapping melodies, crunching guitar throwdowns, schizoid but terrific drum display, subtle but bone-shaking bass, an awesome rollercoaster of a vocal delivery and a pseudo-dictatorial speech complete with a rousing orchestral score that delves into dark jungle-style drum ‘n’ bass? What more could you ask for? Destrage are turning metal inside out, and for every person who signs up for their energetic brand of engineered chaos, brings them a step closer to dominating like they should be. A truly unbelievable force of a band.

There’s a few albums of theirs floating around, most of them on most respectable music retailers, but just as easy to go get them from their website directly. They’d probably appreciate it as much if you went and got a t-shirt or two from them as well. Oh, and if you’re in Germany, go see them at Euroblast in October.

If you don’t love them already, go love them now here:

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

And if you enjoy what I’ve written about these awesome gentlemen, maybe consider sending me some love too via whatever social networks you use, you don’t have to, honestly:

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

Orange Tulip Conspiracy

Paranoia is something that seems to grip hold of a large portion of us at times, like a leash round the neck. The constant feeling of unease that somebody is watching us, or that there is a much larger agenda happening right underneath our noses. This state of mental chaos can be the birthing place of conspiracies, tales that hold weight as to why events transpired in the manner they did, more often than not focused around pivotal moment in history. As far as a band named Orange Tulip Conspiracy goes however, the jury may be out on that one. For this Los Angeles five-piece, their work remains focused on a deeply involving instrumental cinematic experience, drawing influences from Balkan folk music, lounge jazz, classical music and some heavier aspects of progressive rock at times. It seems odd yet rather fitting when you have a rich, smoky ambience of expertly woven strings, every now and again plunging into total dread from gigantic amounts of distortion entwined with the guitar. Luckily across the six and a half minutes of Fall Creek, that monster hides its ugly head. This stays as an extended jam of cultural magnificence, hypnotic in drums maintaining a steady rhythm the entire time whilst strings and saxophone recount the tales of days gone by. The atmosphere is sitting around a fire, in a tent that towers above you, whilst the haze emitted slowly envelops those listening into a trance of total relaxation. The conspiracy I guess then is this: how can five Los Angeles musicians create the sound of traditional Eastern Europe so perfectly and yet very few have experienced their astonishing craftsmanship? Keep an eye on those orange tulips, who knows what other wonders they have in store.

The band now go under the name of Atomic Ape, and apparently their album Swarm sounds a lot like a spy thriller. Fancy. Anyway, both that and Orange Tulip Conspiracy can be bought on the Atomic Ape Bandcamp page in digital and physical formats.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Orange-Tulip-Conspiracy/167129410109217?fref=ts
https://www.facebook.com/AtomicApeBand?fref=ts

Vulture Industries

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.

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