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And one more round of material, vaguely falling under the “indie” umbrella…that is, if you consider labels like Nordvis and Black Lodge “indie”!

So to swipe from a long lost area bar, dew drop inn, why dontcha?

Atomic Cretins – Spiritual Cancer (Suicide Bong Tapes) (October 26)

Is that Ace Still on vox?

Seriously, just check out the title track, the sinister snarling and vomiting inflections complete with pauses at intermittent intervals for breath or to gather more force for the next salvo. It’s like the erstwhile Goatlord frontman were tapped to a slightly more speed/D-beat/USBM style blackthrash…

Honestly, it’s surprising this didn’t come out through Hells Headbangers, this is very much in line with their typical thing.

As such, you pretty much know what you’re getting here otherwise, as if someone gave Midnight a more vintage feel, toned down a lot of that shock rock transgressiveness and pulled in just a hint of Joel Grind style D-beat speed/thrash for good measure.

I liked ’em quite a bit, all told.

 

IATT – Nomenclature (Black Lion Records) (September 27)

(listens to “arsenic ways” and “cor pulmonale” without comment, save raised eyebrow.

Shakes head, sighs.)

Okay. Looks like what you get here is still more of the Watain/Behemoth/Inquisition school of black/death nonsense. But it’s also trying to be oddly prog/tech, with lots of stutter beats and occasional interjections of clean sections, metalcoreish guitar fills and off kilter solos.

There’s too much discord and dissonance to be melodic in any real way, but too much of a would-be melodic bombast at times to sit well with the crowd that appreciates such. And what’s with the sub-sub-Fates Warning bit that kicks off “powder of sympathy”? With croak vox and a black/death basis?

(shakes head again…in fact, has been doing so at various points while typing the last paragraph, as the album plays on.)

yeah, I don’t get it.

There are moments that keep it from consignment to the trash heap…but no.

Apotheus – The Far Star (Black Lion Records) (November 1)

Portuguese prog act with occasional light European power metal elements. For some reason, on “the pull of plexeus” they go full on death metal vocally, but it never really shifts from a prog/power axis, even there.

Plenty of clean singing and light melodic builds that go all Angra/Dream Theater school of waaaaaay too light for our tastes Euro style progressive power metal…listenable, but not what we think of or mean when referring to either “prog metal” or “power metal” (USPM or Euro style alike).

If you’re more of the Dream Theater fanbase (or for that matter, a diehard Angra fanboy)…what are you doing here, again?

um, anyway, if that’s your orientation/fetish, these guys will certainly appeal to your far lighter and airier tastes than they ever would that of the typical Third Eye reader.

Totengeflüster – The Faceless Divine (Black Lion Records) (October 11)

Peter Steele meets Fernando Ribiero on vocals.  You know the kind, working so hard at hitting a clean sung gothic baritone that isn’t their natural voice, quavering every note so much you can’t help but figure it’s done as a joke, over a keyboard driven gothic symphonic base…

…and then it gets all frightened sounding puke vox, with sped up but very obviously black metal tremelo riffing. Still prominent keyboards, so “symphonic” is the common denominator here, and as the album progresses, you’ll hear less and less of the clean vocal business and a whole lot more of the symphonic black.

The only part that made yours truly stop and pay attention for a bit was “extinct paradise”, which took a break from all the fluttering standing in place bursts of motion to actually allow a proper build. Something mildly dramatic ensues…which is not something you can say about too many portions of the album, unfortunately.

Still in all, here and there, you’ll find glimmers of life.*

* “reise eines verlorenen geistes” is another among the precious few that fall under this category…

If that’s enough to sate your panting thirst for all things dark, melodic and bombastic, then you’re welcome to pick through all the brussels sprouts and blatant garnish to find what you’re looking for.

FRONTBACK – DON’T MIND THE NOISE (BLACK LODGE RECORDS) (October 25)

You know, when the promo materials say “sounds like Foo Fighters”, you don’t expect the connection to be more than tenuous at best.

Yeah, well, put on “sunny days”, and if that don’t sound like Dave Grohl and company dragged in a No Doubt-era Gwen Stefani on vox for the latest FF album, you should probably go see a doctor, because you may be tone deaf.

The whole album keeps up that level of high energy pop-punk/indie power pop, with frontwoman Anlo Front…oh, look, missed this in the promo writeup, “sounding like…Gwen Stefani.” No shit, really?

Credit where it’s due, they were dead on this time…

So if you wish Tragic Kingdom were less pointedly feminist lyrically and more pop/punk than ska musically…these guys have your fix.

Not bad at’all.

DIAMOND DOGS – RECALL ROCK n ROLL AND THE MAGIC SOUL (WILD KINGDOM RECORDS) (September 27)

Swedish retro-“classic rock” act. These guys are really pulling hard at the early 70’s radio rock thing, complete with tinkling piano, saxophone and organ as much a part of the sound as guitars, and with a neo-Motown vibe playing into things nearly as much as a Ronson-era Bowie, post-Faces Rod Stewart/Ron Wood or glam rock one ever does.

I guess if you’re big on that era of Bowie, Mott the Hoople and the sort of singer/songwriter material that shows up on those ridiculously “top 40” “classic rock” radio stations (as if someone’s dishing out payola to push the same couple dozen tracks over and over, 40-50 years after the fact…), these guys should be right up your alley.

This just sounds like old folks’ night at the local bar n’ grill to me.

HAYSTACK – THE SACRIFICE (THE DOGMA REPERTORY INSTITUTE/THREEMAN RECORDINGS) (October 25)

Nihilist/Entombed’s Ulf Cederlund does a side project that’s half crust punk, half Rollins-era Black Flag meets Flipper.

The downside? Every track sounds pretty much alike, and it’s all very midtempo and what used to be put down in the punk scene as “metal sellout”. You aren’t going to form a pit or stagedive to any of this.

But otherwise, if you’re looking for something sort of akin to sludge or stoner doom, but with a slightly stiffer, punk influenced edge? Yeah, this should work well enough.

Not exciting, no. But listenable to be sure.



Ehlder – Nordabetraktelse (Nordvis Produktion) (October 4)
 

Interesting. These guys (technically) self classify as black metal…though the only time you’ll even think along those lines comes halfway through the album (“doden i en doende kropp”, possibly the Absurd meets Clandestine Blaze overdriven guitar and deliberate drumming of “hedningadrapa”.)

There are a few others that bear moments akin to what you’d expect from a quirky black metal act (“stridskall”, “gammelmod”,) but generally these two Swedes take things in different directions than you’d expect…more pensive, deliberate, even anthemic ones.

Yeah, I liked this one quite a bit, actually.

Armagedda: Only True Believers (Re-Issue) (Nordvis Produktion) (October 18)

And here we find the missing piece in our Armagedda discography, the one that puts the final nail into our now proven theory that these guys were really on to something at the dawn of their career (as shown on the Echoes of Eternity compilation and the amazing Final War Approaching…but that they’d sadly quite lost their way thereafter, as heard on third album Ond Spiritism.

But what happened, there, to shift their sound and approach so radically into a very wrong direction? And here ’tis, the missing piece, Only True Believers.

Like the strangely much feted Blaze in the Northern Sky or Pure Holocaust, this is a transitional album, bearing some of what came on the more interesting material before, while not quite apprehending what works so well about the album that follows.

While these albums have gained some incomprehensibly large fanbases (possibly due to the tendency of the herd to parrot each other’s likes, dislikes and sacred cows, so as not to stand out by holding an actual personally held opinion), the fact is, they’re kind of unlistenable by comparison, leaving large drifting lulls in the attention when played back to back in release order.

The albums prior? Love ’em or hate ’em, you definitely notice ’em. The albums after? Career pinnacles in both cases – Transilvanian Hunger, Battles in the North. This is who these two bands were, both by influence and popular opinion to boot, don’t try to retcon that out of this week’s “official” history. But Blaze? Holocaust?

Hell, even The Return suffers from this sort of generic, passable feel, only saved by two or three standout tracks amidst the rest (“possessed” in particular.) It’s no “yellow goat”…and it sure ain’t Under the Sign of the Black Mark, which is the album that brought ’em to global attention and influence in the first place.

So back to ol’ Armagedda, what you get here is a loss of just about everything atmospheric, retro-second wave or just plain likeable about Final War and the EP and demos previous, while not quite falling into the dispirited abyss that is Ond Spiritism.

It’s neither hot nor cold, and therefore…well, you know what you can do with it.

For completists or fans of the band’s later work only.

ÖRNATORPET – Vid Himinsenda (Nordvis Produktion) (November 1)

hmm. Not sure what to think about “dungeon synth”…not so much in terms of individual examples thereof, but as a genre per se.

I mean, I’ve been a huge fan of John Carpenter’s vintage soundtracks (not to mention Goblin, Keith Emerson, Simon Boswell and Italian cult film soundtracks as a whole) and even moreso, Mortiis Era 1 work, the rather gloomy and Basil Poledourisesque* Fodt Til a Herske in particular.

* yeah, and the Conan soundtrack as well…burned through two or three cassette tapes and a CD of same, from playing ’em so much over the years.

Hell, I’ve even picked up a few of the earlier, less vocal-befouled Elffor albums…so when it seemed like that was pretty much all she wrote (bar related space rock ambient and “lazerpunk” releases like Nightsatan showing up every now and again,) I’d say “yeah, I dig dungeon synth.”

But these days…what, did everyone suddenly realize that “industrial Mortiis” kinda sucks?  Even the man himself, who didn’t even want to talk about his “Era 1” work for the last decade or more (“embarassing”, he called ’em) is apparently digging the Casio out of the closet and dusting her off for another round soon…so something’s up.

That noted, however…what happens when you get material so obviously slavish in attempting to replicate those early works, yet only managing to fall far short of their source material and inspiration thereby?

Case in point, this Swedish one man band, who only manages to recapture some of the surface elements that made things like Crypt of the Wizard or Ande Som Gjorde Oppror work so well.

Did he obviously spend a lot of time listening to Mortiis’ three albums and a comp of EPs? No question.

The problem here, as it so often tends to be with younger acts attempting to recreate the magic we’re all hearing in the music of a bygone age, is in influences or lack thereof. Sure, Ornatorpet may know early Mortiis. But is he as conversant in the Conan soundtrack? Carl Orff? John Carpenter? Tangerine Dream and the krautrock scene? It’s like a band trying to copy Bathory without ever apprehending Motorhead and Venom first.

Listenable, obviously. Somewhat likeable in terms of “can you relax, meditate, work to or trance out to this?”, where the answer is “of course!”

But is it anywhere even approaching the likes of Fodt Til a Herske?

…I don’t seriously have to answer that, do I?

Dead Express: Brain Damage (Dead Express) (September 27)

We’d covered these Swedes’ Bloodsucking Queen about two years back, and found it a relentless ball of high energy Bon Scott-era AC/DC meets D-A-D boogie band rock n’ roll.

Yeah, it’s more straight up rock than any sort of metal, punk or goth…and hence not at the top of yours truly’s personal preference list.

But if you want to know “hey, you always bitch about your disdain for “classic rock”, but seem to love bands like early Elf, Whitesnake and pre-Johnson AC/DC”…here’s another piece of the puzzle for ya.

This is my kind of rock.

Hats off for a second time, fellas.

Alex Carole: Carole Cinema (September 6)

Some really interesting, quirky riffs (“at the movies”, “shoplifting career”) and hints of an early 80’s postpunk that simultaneously evokes pre-bloated ego U2 and the edgy, pre-Breakfast Club Simple Minds (the funky “world celebration”, which further pulls early Duran Duran into the already potent mix) mark the high points of this debut of the named personage and his backbeat section who fill out this de facto power trio.

The only downside here? Riffs that good don’t grow on trees. The rest of the album is bogged down by a lot of more or less soundalike filler that simply doesn’t live up to those heights of attainment. But hats off for the tracks mentioned, no question…

Should have been an EP, those three tracks alone practically make this worth running out and grabbing.