Tag Archives: metal

Heinali and Matt Finney – Ain’t No Night

As Ain’t No Night’s release date is still TBA, this is the artwork for Candidate

I spent a while trying to put my finger on just exactly what it is this album reminds me of, steadfastly resisting the urge to use yet another correlation to the realm of films, but I can’t help it, really. I spent a good decade wanting to work in film, and as a consequence a significant portion of my twenties was spent watching them, devising and half-finishing scripts, and idolising Jim Henson (amongst many others, but, you know…the dude was awesome. He made a frog ride a bike, which was an exceedingly difficult thing to do).

Why am I even talking about Jim Henson? Pretty much because he created vastly intricate scenes that were gone in the blink of an eye. His visual craft was such that sometimes you only understood how damn impressive it was if you studied it carefully and properly, otherwise it was a deceptively simple, but pretty (or scary, as was often the case in The Dark Crystal) picture. And that’s relevant.

Those two paragraphs aside, believe it or not I intended to mention Hal Hartley, but I’m getting a bit off focus here.

I mentioned this duo at the end of last month, and this release – three weeks later I’m still impressed by it. The last album I reviewed (Conjoined), I liked – to be honest, I favour most things that subvert any pre-existing ideas I have about the way I think things should be (i.e. spoken word and music don’t belong together). Ain’t No Night, feels and sounds like a more assured and fully realised album, to the point where I completely neglected to be aware of that idea. The unison between words and music is almost seamless here, which is not at all to say that there aren’t two unique and distinctive voices at work.

Clearly, I’m not American, so I can’t claim to have any authority on what is (or what makes) an American story, but this is where the Hal Hartley reference comes in, who is American, and told (what I take to be) American stories. Matt Finney’s lyrics – and delivery – remind me of the underlying narrative in Hartley’s films, where the story, the actions and reactions are in plain view, but the viewpoint itself generally comes from the audience – rarely did the actors in a Hartley film imbue their performance with any overt clues as to what they were thinking or feeling; you have the scene and the words…and yourself.

I may be wrong, but I believe this is one of the greater achievements of art, if not its outright intention – that is, to hold a lens to a story or concept – a reality – that is simultaneously reflective, ultimately giving the audience (of any art) an opportunity to participate no matter how introspective or personal the story actually is. Matt Finney achieves this on Ain’t No Night, as exemplified quite well on the title track (a gritty, bluesy number that alternates between acoustic folk and heavier doom/’gaze), with lyrics that, in moments of otherwise silence, have the capacity (and/or tendency) to creep into somone’s consciousness; in a way that – even if no one’s ever said them to you – can make hearing them feel like some sort of vicarious deja vu (if that’s possible).

During the spoken word sections, Heinali’s music is generally subdued, in the same kind of way storm clouds gather and roll across the sky before they break – they’re quiet, but their presence and imminent storm is unmissable. The compositions on this album are a force to be reckoned with indeed, ranging from subtle to palpable.

The intracacies of the music again lie just beneath the more overt surface. The instrumental sections in the first track, In All Directions, are quite searing at first (like when a storm first breaks), but as the song progresses, the sudden and startling ferocity of it recedes and other layers are revealed. To me, it sounds like the musical translation of an irrational, emotional reaction, followed by a gradual calm as more information is brought to attention.

Which is what made me think of Jim Henson, by the way. One of my favourite scenes in The Dark Crystal lasts for about 3 seconds or so – a straightforward pan across a forest that acts as the lead-in to another (story-developing) scene. At a casual glance, it’s a nice scene showing some of the quirky flora and fauna that populates the world, but it’s an amazingly intricate scene if you pay just a little bit more attention to it. The more detail you unravel, the more you understand about the world Henson is trying to show – same thing here with Heinali’s music. It is aesthetically very easy on the “eye”, but you could give that eye a good workout if you had the inclination.

There’s definitely quite a bit going on, both lyrically and musically. It’s like very finely tuned chaos – neither overwhelming or confusing, which may or may not have to do with the relative succinctness of four tracks, but at 35 minutes I warrant it has more to do with careful use of light and shade.

Ain’t No Night‘s official release date is as yet unannounced, but is due late spring (I presume that’s US) on Paradigms Recordings.

In the meantime, you can further whet your appetite with Candidate, their take the Joy Division track.

S4E

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Brain Dead Burockracy – S/T EP

If you’re anything like me… Well, maybe that sentence should start with if you’re as old as me, then you’ll remember way back when the music industry wasn’t an industry at all. Rock and roll just rocked; it was raw, hardcore and your parents (may have) thought it was dangerous.¹

Brain Dead Burockracy very much bring that kind of old-school flavour to the blend of metal, stoner/hard rock on offer on their self-titled EP. Because of the nostalgia inherent in “the way rock n’ roll used to be”, my mind is throwing back to bands I dug “back then” when I listen to this – like Living Colour, Jane’s Addiction and Suicidal Tendencies; who all similarly had a foot firmly planted in metal, but who each threw a few surprising things into the mix.

It’s nice to get a reminder that straight up rock and roll aint dead – if you think you’re due for one, you can check ’em out here, and grab this EP by signing up for the mailing list. On the 29th of April, BDB will also be releasing a new single titled Erase, available for a limited time as a free download.

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1. I think this is more due to the fact that when we’re knee-high to a grasshopper, we tend to be unaware that there’s a world not just greater than our own perspectives in existence, but that it runs deeper than we could possibly imagine. In our youth – or at least in mine – all musicians were rich and famous, but yet the only money you really gave any thought to being involved in the music “business” was how much of your pocket money you had to set aside each week to get the latest record/tape/CD, and ‘image’ only referred to the front cover. The reality of things has always been quite different, of course, but on the cusp of that innocence being lost, you briefly reside in that wonderful age where you start paying attention to different things for different reasons and you believe in just about all of it with a heartfelt dedication that goes on to form the basis of our nostalgic reminiscences.

Additional Disclaimer: My mother did not consider rock and roll dangerous. She did however consider some of its fans dangerous – I was allowed to attend a Poison concert at 13, but not a Metallica concert. If I remember correctly, I believe her reasoning involved the assumption that more people would be on drugs at the latter show.


Deserts, Mountains & Psychedelics: Adrift For Days Interview

Adrift For Days‘ debut album, The Lunar Maria (released 2010), is undoubtedly my favourite Australian album of recent years. With it’s sedate, psychedelic, doom-laden  sludge, infused with blues and tribal elements, it’s safe to say very few Aussie albums have impressed me both immediately and to such an extent that I had to ask just where the hell this came from; and by that token, what else I’ve been missing out on in this vast country of mine.

Who better to ask than the guys responsible for making me a born-again Oz music noob? Mick (Kaslik) and Lachlan (R. Doomsdale) were kind enough to spend a little time answering some questions, starting with how this all came to pass in the first place.

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A Week of Australian Music – The 80’s Part I

I had to be fairly strict with this decade, as it spans my age of 5-14, and therefore quite significant for me in terms of awareness and developing my personal taste. It’s probably a blessing that it wasn’t until the latter part of the decade that I started to form a more complex interest in what I listened to, as this might be more than a two-parter otherwise.

The first few years were largely spent listening to Patsy Biscoe (a very wholesome children’s singer), and soft pop/rock. However, as I mentioned in the 70’s posts, Cold Chisel featured fairly consistently, and it was singer Jimmy Barnes’ album Barnestorming that was ultimately to become my first Australian LP purchase in 1988.

It was 1985 when I formed my first obsession with a song, and by virtue the band. Unfortunately, the more I’ve delved into the old songs I want to show, the more I find Sony doesn’t want anyone watching these clips anywhere except at YouTube, so if you want to see Wa Wa Nee and their song Sugar Free in all its 10-year old heart-capturing glory,  you’ll have to click this link.

Around 1987 I began taking music a little more seriously. In the beginning this meant developing fandoms for certain artists, though I was never they type that put posters of people on the wall – I was much more likely to put lyrics up instead. Initially, still very much favouring pop music, Kylie Minogue was just the most awesome thing in the world to me for a little while. I won’t bother putting up any of her clips though, as I’m sure most people would have heard something by her at one point or another.

Sometime during ’88-’89, some unknown factor triggered the complete rejection of most pop music and instead I formed a pretty hardcore dedication to almost anything that could be remotely described as metal – some of which if you attempted to call it metal now would likely see you laughed at quite a lot. I can’t say it was typical teenage rebellion, as it actually brought my music taste closer to my mother’s. Also, when I say unknown factor, if I think about it with the benefit of hindsight, it meant I – as a young teen – found a distinct appeal in bands that were singing about other aspects of that subject teens are quite keen on, namely love, and presenting a decidely less wholesome image while doing so.  ( 😮 Don’t know what that says about me, really. Probably absolutely nothing).

In terms of Australian music, it started with the four strapping young lads from a band named Pseudo Echo, and suffice to say I adored them. Their song Over Tomorrow was kind of a step between the pop I had formerly liked, to the hair metal that became my obsession for a couple of years. Oddly enough, I wasn’t so keen on their biggest hit (a cover of Funky Town), but I went mad for this, in the way only 13 year old girls can… (The three guitarists totally hog the limelight in this clip, so I can understand why the drummer decided to have his shirt off the entire time).

 

Not long after, I started buying a now defunct Australian magazine called Hot Metal, and secretly stole my  older brother’s skater magazines, reading them under cover of darkness and learning about Australia’s punk music scene (which I deftly covered up by treating his music taste with severe derision). My first real taste of Australian metal was a band called Mortal Sin, and the thrash metal song Mayhemic Destruction (from their ’86 debut of the same name, so while it pre-dates the Pseudo Echo song, it was a couple of years after that I cottoned on to it).

This was a pretty important song just in terms of my own history. I heard this and actually wondered why I liked it so much. It was unlike anything that had appealed to me before, and most of the other similar bands that one was ‘supposed’ to like didn’t do much for me. That makes it the first time I realised music can reach you on a level beyond (and outside of) the pre-set parameters one tends to impose on oneself (or at least back then, I did have pretty specific ideas about what I should and shouldn’t like).

I still have that on vinyl somewhere, worn out to the point of only being good for sentimental value.

 

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Adrift For Days – the Lunar Maria

For reasons that are not unknown, but best left to explain in greater depth at a later date, it’s not often I mention Australian bands here. Though, to be more accurate, it’s less common when compared to the origin of the majority of other artists I write about. Also, unless you count artists on the more garage/punk/thrash side of things, like Massappeal (who, in all reality, are still pretty old school anyway), the last Australian metal band I had a yen for was Mortal Sin and the album Mayhemic Destruction (1985, but it was @1990 I wore out my vinyl copy – also more on that sometime later. Probably).

Consider that, however, a testament to the fairly narrow scope of what actually appeals to me in the relam of all things metal, and not necessarily that Australia doesn’t have talent worth exploring – as mentioned previously, I rarely ‘get’ black metal, I often lose patience with drone, and the slightest hint of a cliché makes me run a mile (eg silly aesthetic details like names that misspell words such as apocalypse, or other doom-inferring words, so they can put a big X in it – apparently that’s still cool). Add to that the fact that I now have a serious aversion to full-on screamo type vocals and it automatically excludes a surprisingly large amount of music in the genre.

Believe it or not, having such, shall we say, discriminating taste can actually be quite frustrating, and while the above is ultimately fairly extraneous, it’s also a way of explaining the little extra awesome it is to find something that pretty much exemplifies everything I look for in heavier music – that something being the above album by Sydney-siders Adrift For Days. As they’re on home soil, it also means – finally – I actually stand a chance of seeing them live (unlike every other artist that’s made my favourites list recently).

Just to be clear, this isn’t just a decent album I’m mentioning because the band are fellow citizens of my country (really, that’s just not my style), but as it happens to stand, the Lunar Maria is already my favourite Australian album of the last 5 years, probably more. There will likely be someone that suggests I must have missed out on a bunch of stuff, and they may well be right, but at this point in time they’re going to stay missed as this album had me right from the start and I can’t see it letting go anytime soon.

After a brief tribal incantation, opener Bury All That’s Chosen kinda lopes on in with an almost creepingly indulgent, downtempo bluesy feel. I was pretty content just with that, but at about 4 minutes the song kicks into a dense wall of heavy, sludgey, melt-your-face psychedelic stoner doom, accompanied by vocals that could well be just as at home in gothic post-punk as they are here. More to the point, vocals by someone that has a good voice and primarily uses it to sing. Praise be for that.

It doesn’t let up after the first track, either – Messages Through Sleep, the third track after a brief outro, similarly blends a chilled blues mood, post-rock ambience and the hefty weight of doom-laden metal to become some of the most effective 12 minutes out of the 71 minute duration. The blues gets a little low-down and gritty for the stoner jam The Leech, while Along the Moon River gives up 18 minutes of some seriously leaden-limbed, melatonin*-inducing stuff.

By the time Waveform Collapse dissolves, if you weren’t smart enough to do it in the first place, you’ll have to peel yourself off from whatever surface the Lunar Maria stuck you to (wall, floor, possibly the ceiling depending on your original disposition) so you can whack it on repeat and sink back in.  There’s nothing here that feels contrived, out of place or superfluous; for a debut album it’s impressively paced, brings a bunch of the best elements from various styles to the table (really digging the blues vibe) and does it all in an uncompromising, inspired and intuitive manner.

Hear what I mean by taking a listen to the first track:

You can check out Adrift For Days at  MySpace, better yet, click the following link and download the album from Bandcamp. But even better still, you can also buy the Lunar Maria in a CD/Digipak version directly from the band.

(*AKA “Hormone of Darkness“)

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Random but Likely Suspects

About a week ago  saw  the demise of Amie Street, and if you read my previous post on the matter, you’ll know that I had numerous difficulties in spending the remaining credit I had. This was resolved, albeit intermittently (i.e. I managed to complete the epic Mount Eerie album, Song Islands vol 2, but since I had no idea what to spend the rest on, I left it at that until I could think of something else. Not the wisest of moves – long story short, this resulted in a desperately timed 11th hour email to customer service to pretty please allow me to complete my last purchase. Their response: keep trying, it should work eventually. Oh, and I received that email after I finally achieved success.

There was little method in the choosing of my final purchase.  In a move somewhat contradictory to my previous post, I simply went through all my current Last.fm recommendations, searched for them on Amie Street and grabbed the first one that was available. This turned out to be the 2009 album Disconnected by Greymachine.

Yeah, so I’m a year or more late to the party, but I’d never heard the name before, and no I didn’t listen to any of it beforehand – I was feeling wildly adventurous. (That being said, there were some controlled circumstances. The recommendation was based on my listening to Nadja, The Angelic Process, Pyramids, Jesu and Isis; with those first three being objects of my affection of late).

It was, then, an awesomely pleasant surprise to find an album I would have bought anyway without duress (had I known about it and stuff). I’m certainly not a connoisseur of all things metal and/or associated sub-genres; which essentially means that there’s a limited scope to what appeals to me in the long-term, though I do make intermittent attempts to broaden that scope. I mention this because Disconnected is pretty much everything I look for when I want something on the heavier side of things.

Greymachine is the result of Justin Broadrick (Jesu, Godflesh) and Aaron Turner (Isis) teaming up, along with Diarmuid Dalton (also of Jesu, Godflesh) and Dave Cochrane (Head of David); according to my nimble google fingers, anyway, as – to be honest – I’m only familiar with half of those bands, and certainly not extensively. So that tells you the who of that rather mug-shot looking line-up above, the what, however, is a little outside what I’ve heard from Jesu and Isis thus far, but definitely more appealing to me.

I have to say I’ve never quite understood why Jesu garnered variants of metal as genre descriptors (particularly sludge and doom metal). Maybe I’ve listened to the wrong stuff. Who knows, but  to my ears Jesu sounds like cleanly produced pop music compared to Greymachine. It’s noisier, heavier and sludgier by several miles. Perhaps the only aspect that’s common to both, is that in amongst Greymachine’s massively dense wall of doom, sludge, industrial and noise, are some very welcome rhythmic, melodic riffs. For me, it refines the overall sound from being one huge assault on the senses and actually gives me something to get involved with (for lack of a better way of explaining it). Suffice to say, when I listen to something on the heavy side of music, I don’t want to come away feeling steamrolled by it, which seems to be the case quite often when it comes to doom / sludge / drone projects where I’m not given anything to grab onto as it rolls on by. (Or over, as the case may be).

I guess the point that’s really worth making here is that while my knowledge is limited, Greymachine is unlike anything I would have expected from the artists involved if I’d known beforehand who they were. Disconnected does, however, fit in quite nicely with the Angelic Process and Nadja RiYL, so definitely seek it out if you’re keen on the sound of either /or with a sludgier, industrial edge.

Greymachine @MySpace

Buy the CD @Hydra Head

Oh, and MetalSucks has a free download of Vultures Descend, posted all the way back in 2008.

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Spotlight on Android Lust & The Human Animal

When it comes to attempts to succinctly convey the tone of Android Lust‘s particular brand of electro-industrial music, there are a few common ones; like Female NIN, gothic, dark, aggressive, moody, seething, rawHR Giger even gets the odd mention, more than likely owing to the erotic overtones of the mechanical/android/alien aesthetic that’s prevalent in both the imagery and sound. I make no arguments to any of those (I’ve used them myself), but they don’t really do full justice to music that can sometimes be really quite haunting and beautiful.

Shikhee, the woman behind the moniker, has a fantastic knack for combining incisive lyrics that highlight some of the darker recesses of human nature – the ones a lot of us think or feel but would rarely, if ever, openly admit to – with music that somehow makes it not only ok to sing along with them, but to agree wholeheartedly with them as well. Stained, for example, from 2002’s The Dividing, takes a look at some fairly hateful thoughts – “I know not how to cease this feeling of hate in me / I just want to see you bleed  / I know what I want / I want to stop seeing red / I know what I want / I just want to see you dead“. Whether you interpret those words as being directed inward or outward, the purity of loathing is made pretty simple, yet the song itself is almost ghostly. The main vocals are strong and smooth, delivered with a sense of mild disdain, but there is no venom in them and ultimately the prespective takes on shades of a fragile hurt. The implication is made that the protagonist has simply become resolved to the desire, but it also seems to make clear that the anger is coming from a deeper, less accessable pain.


Fair warning: This video contains images not recommended for the squeamish

Of course, there are times when subject matter and music are more closely related and forthright. Sex and Mutilation, also from The Dividing, is a manic, glitchy and hyper-kinetic track where the title words are half-screamed with an edge of desperation, while Kingdom of One (and in particular, the remix from 2004’s Stripped & Stitched) is probably the only song I’ve ever heard that uses the normally preternatural sounding and “offensive” C-word in a pointed and derisive manner and yet keep it from actually feeling crude – i.e., it completely avoids the “shock factor”. It certainly puts it beyond merely interesting listening and right into intriguing.

One of the words I neglected to mention in those common descriptors is cold. There’s a couple of reasons for that – firstly, it happens to be one I don’t really agree with. Yes, electronica is rarely ‘organic’, and yes industrial elements tend to lend themselves well to the ‘coldness’ inherent in the mechanical; two things that can often see music of the genre feel cold. The other reason I point that out is that even if there are some older AL tracks that can earn that tag, there is no way possible I would apply it to The Human Animal.

The latest album arrives four years after previous album, Devour, Rise and Take Flight – those four years seem to have been quite well spent. According to the Android Lust website, The Human Animal is “a journey through the psyche of man, as man realizes the futility of living in the grips of ego and surrenders to seek answers within.” Even if you don’t get a good grasp on that concept, you’re unlikely to feel like the album is over your head – in a nutshell, The Human Animal is a very well executed, consistent and accessable album.

Taking a slightly different approach this time around, Shikhee spent some time on the streets and subways of New York, recording sounds that have been incorporated as “rhythmic and melodic elements“. More importantly, though, is the inclusion of live musicians during the recording process for the first time. Losing none of the trademark hard metallic edge, the entire album feels like a deeper, richer experience than much of what has come before it.

From the first few moments of the opening track, Intimate Stranger, you know you’re listening to an Android Lust album – Shikhee’s voice is unmistakable – but the sound has taken on some dirtier, grungier blues tones, which maintains the aforementioned gothic moodiness but also gives it a more prominent and wickedly seductive edge. (You know you’re hooked if you feel the urge to to sing a song like Rub Me Raw when out and about – it would be an interesting experiment to see how well other bus passengers would take to my vocal renditions of “Won’t you smother me ’til I’m sick of you / Crush me ’til I scream for you / Rub me ’til I bleed for you / Rub me raw“. I’m sticking to humming it for now).

There really isn’t a song on here that won’t get under your skin in a similar fashion. At times a little sinister (The Return), other times darkly bluesy with a cat-like fluidity (A New Heaven), and there is yet still moments that are murky and haunting (Flow (of Impermanence)). Android Lust really knows how to get into your head and seduce your darker side out to play, and The Human Animal will stalk you with every track in such a way as to make it impossible to resist.

But of course, why would you resist? In the words of Android Lust herself, it’s a sin not to want things.

You can listen to The Human Animal here, with option to purchase a digital copy, or better yet, buy a CD version here (a very nice deluxe package is also available).

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