Friday, March 29, 2013

Yoshiko Ohara – Ringing In Our Wrists

The name Yoshiko Ohara doesn’t necessarily send out shockwaves, unless you’ve been absorbed in her work for a while, but her time with New York sludge doom band Bloody Panda is sure to ring some bells for people, and rightfully so. You should be paying attention to this as in a few months it’s fair to say that many people will still be talking about Ohara’s debut solo album, Ringing In Our Wrists.

Just what exactly is going on in this album is the golden question. Yoshiko Ohara is an artist very much focused on, and immersed in, crafting atmosphere and to an extent, uneasiness opposed to traditional songs. Ringing In Our Wrists is void of anything that could be called conventional with no standard instrumentation to be heard, rather an evocation of entrancing sounds.

The old cliché is of “voice as an instrument” is quite a tired one at this stage but it doesn’t make it irrelevant. Merging the different and dichotic vocal influences of say Sigur Ros with the haunted voice of Diamanda Galas, Ohara traverses plains well-trod but appears intent on cutting through a few paths and hedgerows to create her own route.

'Symmetrical Lanterns' holds as evidence, and is a sonic envisioning of pain. First opening with steely sounds and cackling noises in the far off distance, the screeching vocals that enter soon after leave you reeling and reveals that Ringing in Our Wrists, at its core, is a torturous oeuvre. While fraternising with serene, almost angelic moments from time to time, Ohara challenges you more than anything to sit through an album that is anything but easy listening.

Ringing in Our Wrists is released by Toby Driver’s label Ice Level. You can stream the track 'Symmetrical Lanterns' on CVLT Nation HERE and watch a snippet of a live show below.

Monday, March 25, 2013

News tidbits: Dread Sovereign, Agrimonia, A Storm of Light

Dread Sovereign, the new band from Primordial’s Nemtheanga posted their first taster of new music in ‘Thirteen Clergy To The Flames’ from the 12” EP We Pray To The Devil In Man that coincides with their live debut at Roadburn. The song meets many of the descriptions that were floating about for a weeks, channelling Cirith Ungol and Venom into a slab of vintage metal that’s totally at odds with the modern era, and shamelessly so. Meanwhile, there’s a cool interview with Nemtheanga on Metal Ireland, conducted by Jamie Grimes, check it out HERE.

Agrimonia  are streaming a new song via Pitchfork. ‘Talion’ is an 11 minute track taken from their new third album Rites of Separation, their first for Southern Lord. The Swedish ‘epic’ crust band, who feature members of Martyrdöd and At The Gates have been absent for a few years but have come roaring with this new song that while a little formulaic at times definitely draws some attention for what will hopefully be another solid album from them. Listen to the song HERE.
Finally, and speaking of Southern Lord, A Storm of Light have announced their new record, Nations To Flames, will be released on the label. The band has hopped between different labels over the years, whether it’s Neurot, Profound Lore or Burning World so who knows how long this relationship for. The album is described as “faster, much darker and noisier,” according to band leader Josh Graham, who left Neurosis late last year when they decided to end all live visuals, which Graham created and orchestrated during shows so it appears that A Storm of Light is his number one priority now, adding “on this record, we have finally found ourselves”. No release date is set yet.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Latest reviews: Bone Sickness, Blood Bright Star, Iron Lung, Devourment and more

Here’s a quick round-up of the reviews that were online this week and beyond.
Washington death metallers, Bone Sickness, will be releasing their debut LP, Alone in the Grave, through 20 Buck Spin and there’s a review online now over on CVLT Nation. If you’re looking for “new” old school death metal that hasn’t become totally pastiche then this is probably for you. Read it HERE.

Meanwhile, and also on CVLT Nation, is the review of the new record from ambient psychedelic drone (and whatever other description you can fit in) band, Blood Bright Star. Solar Infinite is being released by Antithetic Records.

No official release date has been announced yet but click HERE for the lowdown on the album as well as a track to stream.

On Wednesday, the review of Iron Lung’s long awaited new album, White Glove Test was posted on this very blog. So please click thine mouse HERE to read.

There is also a new issue of Ghost Cult available online now. This sixth issue includes my reviews of brutal death metal stalwarts Devourment’s new long player Conceived In Sewage and the debut LP from stoner doomsters High Priest of Saturn, check it out HERE. Finally, in case you missed it, there was a quickfire review post last week so click HERE get in on that.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Iron Lung - White Glove Test

Has it really been about five years since Iron Lung’s Sexless//No Sex album? Despite pining for a new LP from arguably powerviolence’s very best, time has flown by on that one. It doesn’t even seem that long ago that Life. Iron Lung. Death. was trouncing our heads in for the first time but lo it’s been nearly 10 years.

Since then, the generally prolific world of powerviolence and the broader world of grindcore has contorted and changed into different forms – lots of new bands and records, other bands dying a death. Unlike the latter, Iron Lung aren’t feared dead anymore finally unleashing White Glove Test upon waiting ears.

It would be unfair to say that White Glove Test is ‘straightforward’ or anything of the sort but the album does follow an expected path of most powerviolence records. Add to this, the band haven’t just released a new LP of 18 songs but a slew of bonus noise tracks too that, when mixed together in a Times of Grace/Tribes of Neurot’s Grace sense, creates another oeuvre to indulge in. This is where White Glove Test starts to get interesting.

The noise tracks add a whole new depth and level of intrigue to the already pummelling songs of White Glove Test. Between searing guitars and drums, you’ll pick out molesting noise elements piercing through that create a harrowing and uneasy listen. Imagine some of the noise that contemporaries Column of Heaven utilise for a broad idea of what Iron Lung have done with this ‘merging’.

Where the original edition of the album is bludgeoning and aggressive, it could have used a tad bit more sludginess in the tones to gain that truly sloppy, unbridled and severe feel; the addition of the noise creates a whole new world. The bellicosity is complemented by a hypnotic air that’s easy to become totally lost in.

Regardless of which version you listen to, White Glove Test merely compounds the already accepted belief that there’s no other band out there quite like Iron Lung.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Altar of Plagues post new music video

Altar of Plagues have released a new music video for ‘God Alone’, the first taste of their new album Teethed Glory and Injury on Pitchfork now and is indicative of radical changes taking place within Altar of Plagues. It’s really only the tip of the iceberg.

As hinted at by the album’s artwork, the black and white video follows the intense and strange training regimen of three ballet dancers. Mixed with the severe harshness of the track, the visual and audio together is totally entrancing and what exactly the meaning of it is is anyone’s guess.

Watch the video below and try to fathom what’s going on. There will be a full review of the new album in the forthcoming digital issue of Molten Magazine, more news on that soon.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bits n' Bobs: Kayo Dot, Gaza, Link, Absolutist

Lots of various news over the last seven to ten days. Most excitingly, there was word from Toby Driver that Kayo Dot have begun work on a new record, Hubardo, which will be a double concept album clocking in at 90 minutes and the band hope to begin recording in late April. This will be the follow-up to last year’s intriguing Gamma Knife record that was a shorter, more concise record, at only about 35 minutes. With Hubardo, they appear to exploring even more ambitious terrain, which is hardly a surprise considering it’s Kayo Dot.

“We think this is one of the best things we've ever done, honest. So, we’re incredibly excited about it,” said Toby Driver in a newsletter email about the whole endeavour, which will see his former band from Maudlin of the Well, Jason Byron, pen the concept and lyrics.

The album pre-orders are already available HERE if you want to help the band out in getting the project off the ground. Here’s a cut from last year’s Gamma Knife to remind you what a peerless band Kayo Dot are.

Gaza announced they’re breaking up. Given recent controversies, it’s not surprising. The vague status update on Facebook below suggests that it wasn’t a totally amicable decision, especially with the line “some of us” will continue to make music. New band(s) are likely to emerge from their ashes in the coming months I’d wager.

 “Gaza is no longer a band. A big thank you to anyone that has supported us. Some of us will continue to make music together."

Finally, Distroy Records in Sligo are releasing the new split LP from Belgium’s Link and Scotland’s Absolutist and they’re streaming a new song from each right now, which you can listen to below. There’s  a full new offering entitled ‘By All Means’ from Link while Absolutist offer up a three minute sample of the 16 minute track that will make up their side of the LP.

Friday, March 15, 2013

One stone, many birds: Jute Gyte, Njiqahdda, Outer Heaven and more

Jute Gyte – Discontinuities
Another month, another Jute Gyte record. The prolific one man black entity has already put out records in January and February of this year so of course March wasn’t going to be left out and what we have here is Discontinuities. It’s arguably his best work yet but to be fair there’s a lot to choose from and debate over.

For the uninitiated, Jute Gyte’s black metal is one characterised by gruelling jaunts of discordant and agonising BM. Discontinuities is no different, played with 24 tone guitars while dense structures, manic experimentation and searing vocals are the order of the day, with the album clocking in at 62 minutes. Jute Gyte has never been for the weak eared and while testing to listen to, Discontinuities can be a hugely rewarding listen in the end as this discordant hail of leftfield black metal slowly reveals more and more of itself with each listen.

The album is streaming in full HERE with a name-your-price download too, alongside a whole host of Jute Gyte’s other releases. There’s info on ordering a physical copy there as well.

Njiqahdda – Firmaments and the Upper Air EP
Speaking of prolific, Njiqahdda released another new EP last week Firmaments and the Upper Air, this is the swift follow-up to last month’s EP Initiation, which is streaming HERE but more importantly, the follow-up to the full-length Serpents in the Sky, already a 2013 highlight. The Chicago duo’s hypnotic and meandering prog metal that owes a debt to both the worlds of black metal and sludge is explored in more depth here than on Initiation and attempts to expand on the voyage that was Serpents...

Where Initiation picked up where the album left off, its shorter tracks made it feel like more of a stopgap until this lengthy EP, which is almost an album to itself at 49 minutes. Firmaments and the Upper Air is an altogether gloomier listen than the previous efforts, with eerie lingering guitars and slower, doom-imbued structures. The groaning clean vocals definitely add to the despondent air, met by juddering bass drums that combat the slower moving guitars, which creates an intriguing dichotomy within the band once again.

Streaming in full HERE on their Bandcamp as per usual, available for free download with physical copies on offer too

██████ – Demo
This Czech band are not going to make it easy for you to find them anyway. They’re called ██████ and their Bandcamp URL is listed as WeDontHaveAName, which suggests the band is taking a stand against labels and whatnot. Although, their Bandcamp comes equipped with plenty of genre label tags like black metal, post rock, screamo and… post black. So it kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? One look at that slew of sub-genre and sub-sub-genre names and you have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this band. Let’s just call them We Don’t Have A Name, for convenience sake. Meshing screamo, melodic hardcore and black metal is pretty common now and this band are something like a Deafheaven-alike albeit with a poorer production job, but it is still a demo to be fair, however a demo that’s ambitious nevertheless. However, relying on tired clichés of blackened hardcore and ‘screamo/black metal’ (if that’s officially a thing now) has meant that We Don’t Have a Name really fail to start any storms. It’s been done already. Stream the demo HERE.

Outer Heaven – Demo
Another online demo here, this time from Pennsylvania’s Outer Heaven. This short demo is hammering dark hardcore done right with a variety of metal influences, specifically pepperings of death and doom, festering under the surface. Released back in January, this is a band you shouldn’t sleep on.

The demo’s seven short tracks are characterised by slow crushing dirges complemented by pacier juddering slabs of sonic abuse. There’s an old school death metal flavour to be heard here in particular, imagine the ghosts of Incantation or Bolt Thrower haunting an old dilapidated house of hardcore and you have a rough idea. This is only a demo and what Outer Heaven do next, ideally with an album is crucial, but consider your interest more than piqued.

Stream the demo in full HERE on their Bandcamp

Ghost Cult issue six online now

Issue six of Ghost Cult is online now. This issue features my interview with French grindcore band, Blockheads along with reviews of new albums from Devourment and High Priest of Saturn. As per usual, there are some great features and interviews from the other writers in there too. Check it out HERE or read the embedded copy below.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New music from The Ocean and The Dillinger Escape Plan

The Ocean have posted a new song, ‘Bathyalpelagic II: The Wish in Dreams’, from their new album Pelagial, due to be released April 30th through Metal Blade. The German post metallers’ new record will be the follow-up to 2010’s stunning duo of concept records Heliocentric and Anthropocentric, two albums that were more than impressive standouts from that year.

'Bathyalpelagic II: The Wish in Dreams', as the band explains, is the fastest song from the album. Unlike them, it’s actually quite short opposed to the seven to ten minute dirges that mostly characterised their prior two albums. The new record is a concept album exploring the different depth regions of the earth’s seas. Starting in ambient and serene territory, the record will get progressively heavier on each song as the themes changes to a deeper region. It’s a very interesting topic and idea for a concept record and 'Bathyalpelagic…' is the fourth track so it indicates that by the 11th and final track, The Ocean may have written their heaviest material yet. Check out the new track below.

Meanwhile, another high profile album release is coming in May from The Dillinger Escape Plan called One of Us is the Killer. ‘Prancer’ the first taster is here, streaming through the band’s new home at Sumerian Records.

'Prancer' is everything you expect from a Dillinger track and while that may have been an acceptable thing to say in 2007 when Ire Works came out, it doesn’t fly here. While 2010’s Option Paralysis was a solid and sometimes even a great record, it did feel a little phoned in and predictable at times. That’s pretty much the case with ‘Prancer’. Of course, people will still call it unpredictable and manic and chaotic and the usual clichés.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Latest reviews: Ruined Families, Darkthrone, Steven Wilson, PLF

Hey there! Happy Sunday. Here’s a quick round-up of the latest reviews that were online this week so you’ll have something to curl up with and read on this Sunday evening. Aren’t I really good to you?

The latest is the first LP from Greek hardcore band Ruined Families. Blank Language picks up right where their 7” from last year left off. It’s an utter rager. Click HERE for the review now, which also comes with a full stream of the record.

Secondly is the new one from the beloved and sometimes maligned Darkthrone. The Underground Resistance is definitely dividing opinions on the duo of Fenriz and Nocturno Culto. Why? Well, click HERE to find out.

Finally, in case you missed it. HERE is the review of Steven Wilson’s new opus, The Raven That Refused To Sing (and other stories) from last Sunday and you can get the lowdown on PFL’s new album Devious Persecution and Wholesale Slaughter HERE too. As always, more interesting/boring posts in the coming week.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

News: Altar of Plagues, new Pig Destroyer EP, Eluvium

This week Altar of Plagues revealed the artwork for their new album, Teethed Glory and Injury, due to be released on April 30th through Profound Lore. The artwork certainly grabs my attention and given the supposed change of direction for the band on this album, seems to further indicate that. Unsurprisingly, it’s a divisive piece of work as it definitely doesn’t scream “black metal” at you. Personally, I love it and needless to say very excited for Teethed Glory and Injury.
Meanwhile, Pig Destroyer have released a new EP online entitled Mass & Volume, which was released in memory of recently deceased Relapse Records director of sales, Pat Egan. Along with the Patlapse compilation released by Relapse, all money raised will go to a fund for his daughter’s college education. The EP contains two tracks, including the 19 minute title which explores some of guitarist Scott Hull’s ambient drone material and the sludgy doom of the band’s Natasha EP. The shorter track, 'Red Tar' is a little pacier by comparison by certainly not the searing grindcore you would expect. The songs were originally recorded in 2007 but are finally seeing the light of day now. It can be downloaded for $10 and is for a good cause.

Another new track from Eluvium was posted this, over on Stereogum. The one man project will return with a new album Nightmare Ending, delving further into his world of staggeringly beautiful ambience, as teased by the first taster track released a while back. This new song, 'Envenom Mettle', features a guest appearance from Mark T. Smith from Explosions In The Sky. Check it out HERE or just below.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Track stream: Chosen's Engines of Belief

Irish progressive death metallers, Chosen are getting ready to release their debut full-length Resolution on March 30th for free download, followed by two limited edition CD runs, with a new track ‘Engines of Belief’ available to stream and download below.

The band’s melodic prog metal, tinted with shades of modern death metal, brings together the erraticism and edgy compositions of Meshuggah, the ambitious heaviness of Gojira and latter Cynic’s grandeur. While wearing their influences on their sleeves, the pairing of Paul Shields (guitars and vocals) and David McCann (drums and percussion) have tried to forge an identity and sound that they can call their own and Resolution definitely takes some positive steps towards that. The album was produced by Alwyn Walker in the esteemed Westland Studios.

"Our hope is to put our music out there, make it as accessible as possible, and simply let people discover it in their own time, free of charge," said David McCann in a press release about the album and the decision to release for free. "While we do respect the rights of other bands and artists who want to charge for their music upfront, we believe in this new method of exposure and it’s something we are willing to explore for the foreseeable future in this digital age of abundance."

Have a listen to ‘Engines of Belief’ below, which comes with a free download, and check out the CD release details after the jump.

Resolution will be available as a Deluxe Special Edition CD or a Collectors’ Edition. The Deluxe Edition comes with a bonus disc of nine songs while the Collectors’ Edition includes all that as well as expanded artwork and a 60-page liner note booklet. Keep an eye of the band’s website HERE for ordering info.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Year the fourth

Four years… yeah, four years. That’s how long I’ve been running this blog. Is this impressive or just plain sad? You tell me, and why are you even here? You could be looking at cat gifs right now. Anyway yes, The Grind That Annoys is four years old today. Cheers for reading and clicking around every now and again; it’s greatly appreciated.

Various posts are coming later this week but in case you missed it earlier, my interview with Mastodon’s Brann Dailor is online now on Metal Ireland HERE, where he chats a bit about the work on the new album (whatascoop!) and their upcoming Dublin shows in June. 

Brann Dailor, Mastodon interview

Last Thursday, I interviewed Mastodon’s Brann Dailor. While a short chat, he revealed some interesting things about their touring plans for 2013, the song they are contributing to Disney’s Monsters University and most importantly, the new album. The interview is live now on Metal Ireland so check it out HERE.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused To Sing (and other stories)

Someday this world will burn to a crisp, freeze over, flood or be wiped out by a great plague, and in a few millennia after the vestiges of humanity that survived has rebuilt the species, anthropologists will study the music and artists of their ancestors. They’ll scratch their heads at Gangnam Style and Black Veil Brides and think what an inferior race we were. Then, by chance they’ll find evidence of the work of Steven Wilson buried somewhere and a whole new area of study will open up. Or something like that.

But such is the vast work of one man and you would be forgiven for falling behind on the work of Steven Wilson. When one man is involved in an average of three records or so a year, it’s quite easy. He’s never shown any signs of slowing down either, even with Porcupine Tree officially on hiatus. There was Storm Corrosion last year, second solo album Grace For Drowning in 2011, which saw an ambitious touring schedule in its wake and now we have solo record number three – The Raven That Refused To Sing (and other stories). It’s album that could lay claim to being Wilson’s finest non-Porcupine Tree album.

Assembling one of the most enviable line-ups in recent history, The Raven That Refused To Sing (and other stories) stands as testament to Wilson’s reputation and the esteem held for him, joined by drumming luminary Marco Minnemann and revered guitar sage Guthrie Govan. Not to mention, this album is engineered by Alan Parsons, a man with credits as engineer on Dark Side of the Moon and Abbey Road no less, being his first album to engineer in over 20 years.

Where Grace For Drowning was an expansive double album that took in many different sonic vistas that Steven Wilson has explored over the years, it still became a little bloated at times. The Raven… meanwhile perfectly meshes the splendour of Grace… with the judicial precision of first solo album, Insurgentes.

Furthermore, the album continues the act of exploration. It’s no secret that Wilson is a connoisseur of prog’s golden age of the ‘70s, and in various projects he’s brought this influence into his own music quite clearly while keeping it relevant and as far away from nostalgia or tribute as possible. Opening track ‘Luminol’ is a controlled explosion of effervescence and erraticism that you would expect from Yes in the early ‘70s, complemented by meandering passages inspired by Camel’s Moonmadness

It’s contrasted by the closer, the title track. Getting here brought us through the hills and valleys of ‘The Holy Drinker’ and the entrancing vibes of ‘The Pin Drop’. However, this title track ends with Wilson at his most soothing with gorgeous piano lines and a serene closing that’s complemented by guitars oddly reminiscent of Alcest.

Steven Wilson exists in his own sphere at this point, with only a handful of worthy contemporaries and no one that really compares from a song writing or creativity perspective. Long may it last.

Friday, March 1, 2013

New tracks: Kylesa & Barghest

Kylesa have announced the details of their new record, Ultraviolet, set for release on May 24th through Season of Mist and with it posted a new song ‘Unspoken’, which is available for streaming below. The song sees the band’s usual sludge mixed with some helpings of post punk. Laura Pleasants assumes the lead vocals on this one too but to be honest, there’s nothing too gripping about this new one as of yet but it does show a slightly darker edge than Spiral Shadow.

But what is gripping is the new track from Barghest. The Louisiana black metallers released a new song online entitled ‘Agonizing Spiritual Descent’ a few days ago and, while currently unmastered, it bodes quite well for their new LP scheduled for release this summer. Searing buzzsaw riffs are the order of the day to start until total abyssal darkness overtakes everything, much the like material from last year’s split LP with False.