Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cloudkicker - Subsume

Another year, another Cloudkicker album. The instrumental one-man project from Ben Sharp is guaranteed to put out a new record every year, generally in autumn or winter, and Subsume keeps the streak going. 

Under this moniker, Cloudkicker has done a lot to promote a DIY spirit in a digital age, which deserves much praise and credit. What deserves equal kudos is his creative flair too, being an early innovator for technical instrumental metal, recorded with home set-ups, long before everyone had an eight string and forum habit. Not only that but records like Let Yourself Be Huge have allowed him to explore acoustic arrangements and even tinkering with vocals while standalone tracks like ‘Hello’ saw him venture into drone.

Showing that he has a lot of gas left in the tank, he released the stellar Fade last year, a return to ebulliently heavy riffing with massive hooks, though not to the same exhaustive but utterly exhilarating heights of Beacons. If anything, this new album Subsume leaves a question mark behind.

Thematically, Subsume appears to be something of a concept record. Just look at the rather lengthy track titles, most notably the 37-word third track. Sharp has also pushed himself to lengthier compositions too with one track clocking in 16 minutes, where he shows his mind for paced expression allowing a song to build and build, rather than one adrenaline burst.

Regardless of this, Cloudkicker is still at a crossroads. What needs to be done to shake things up a little bit? Sharpe has maintained much of the volatile heaviness while balancing it with affecting ambience, something Fade harnessed very well but there are plenty of predictable moments too like the flurries of Meshuggah-ish riffs and double kick drums, the latter programmed as per usual we assume.

The final track on Subsume, is where Cloudkicker finally starts to push things to the limit. Where we’re first greeted with familiar chiming passages but soon we’re met with a monolithic riff sodden in distortion, drowning us all in swathes of crushing guitars. It sounds almost Sleep-like or akin to Bongripper, which is what makes it so devastatingly refreshing.

Perhaps some vantage points could say this comes a little too late, being positioned at the very end of the record but it serves to remind us that in the grand scheme of things, Subsume may be Cloudkicker’s weaker record in an otherwise dazzling streak of albums.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Great Falls interview

Great Falls have been around for a little while at this stage but the Seattle noisy hardcore band is just now releasing their first full-length after a spate of demos and splits. The band features ex-members of Playing Enemy, Kiss It Goodbye and Hemingway. Check out this feature interview with bassist Shane Mehling, who explains how it all came together, HERE.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pelican – Forever Becoming

Many bands need to take a breather, to re-analyse and take stock of their position on this landscape. It’s what Pelican have done since October 2009’s What We All Come To Need. The band, once road hogs, didn’t tour a whole lot after it as the realistic woes of it all came crashing in and while the band finally resurfaced in early 2012 with a brief EP entitled Ataraxia/Taraxis, it was clear that Pelican was in a state of flux.
This change would come in the form of a departure, that of long time guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec. While Ataraxia/Taraxis was by no means a dud, it was clear that the band needed to re-evaluate. With fellow Chicagoan and guitarist in The Swan King, Dallas Thomas coming into the fold on a permanent basis and much time to plot and plan this new album, Forever Becoming, Pelican have made it clear that they intend on beginning a new chapter in their decade-plus tale.

Forever Becoming sees a new verve blossoming for the band and while they haven’t necessarily smashed down the established boundaries around their sound, there’s a rich invigoration here, the kind we haven’t quite heard since The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw.

Deftly crafted and with more attention than ever put on layering a song, Forever Becoming sees the band working at their most versatile, shifting between the brooding trudge of their earliest work and the ebullient almost light-hearted spring of City of Echoes, all the while maintaining a distinctly Pelican heaviness.

‘Deny The Absolute’ shows them at their most raucous with an atypically short song, when compared with most in their back catalogue. The manic sludgy tone in the guitars has been tightly and forcefully packed into this track while  ‘Immutable Dusk’ exhibits the band’s nimble skills of push-and-pull. First, slow meandering but crunchy guitars rule the order before descending into a lush, almost lullaby, mid-way passage characterised by an eerie bass undertone and glistening clean guitars. This mood is, predictably but still impressively, disrupted by a boisterously heavy crescendo to close.

While always heavy, the band will equally maintain an affinity for melody and ‘Vestiges’ is more than proof of that with vibrant lead riffs to slowly bloom into beautifully ebullient verses and makes for a record highlight.

'Perpetual Dawn' brings us back to a time when Pelican were able to whip up a maelstrom of a closer, like ‘Sirius’, and that’s exactly what this particular track does with fiery riffs and a juddering crescendo followed by a hymn-like passage to trail us off into tranquil climes to end Forever Becoming.

Revitalised is perhaps the one key word when talking about Forever Becoming. The break has served them well and if this is the next chapter in their tale then the plot may only be getting better.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Anathema to record new album in December

While touring in North America with Alcest and Mamiffer, Anathema’s Vincent Cavanagh has revealed that the band will begin recording a new record in December, which will be the follow-up to 2012’s utterly stellar Weather Systems. In an interview with Decibel, the guitarist and vocalist said "we’ve just released [live album] Universal, which was a lot of work. Now, we’ll be recording the new album in December."

Vincent added on the topic of producer: "Christer [AndrĂ© Cederberg] again. He’s our guy now. He’s our George Martin. [Laughs] Yeah, man. He’s the guy we’ve been waiting for all these years. He’s kind of in the band, in a way. When we’re in the studio, he’s right there. He’s part of the team. He’s part of the sound we’re trying to create."

Read the full interview now over at Decibel, where Vincent also touches on the making of Universal.

Photo: Crystal Spotlight

Friday, October 18, 2013

New Celeste track

French black metal and hardcore hybrids Celeste have been absent from our lives for far too long but will soon remedy that with new record Animale(s), a new song from which you can stream below. The track, ‘Laissé Pour Compte Comme Un Bâtard’, sees the band at a broody pace and mood unlike the searing cacophonies of Morte(s) Nee(s) but it’s still no less deafening and dissonant. Since the release of their last LP in 2010, Celeste have witnessed a burgeoning scene of “blackened hardcore” bands, some rather stellar like Hexis and sadly many others not so much, where little dynamic has been explored, merely meshing the odd d-beat with typically BM shrieking vocals. Thankfully we will soon have Celeste back in tow. Animale(s) will be a double album released in November by Denovali Records. Listen to the new cut below.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

bvdub - Born in Tokyo

Bvdub is one of those artists where keeping track of their productivity is a task in itself, even before soaking in the vastness of the records themselves. The American electronic musician has created an interesting aura around himself with beautiful ambient music infused with spectral shades of dance beats and gorgeous vocal sampling and releases several records year. He’s also done this from his home in China, where he relocated many years ago.

Two of his most recent records, Serenity (2012) and A Careful Ecstasy, released earlier in 2013, have shown, in staggering detail, that his balance between productivity and creativity is at a peak. What’s the point of churning out records en masse if they aren’t any good, right? That doesn’t seem to be a concern for bvdub, real name Brock Van Wey.

Where Serenity and A Careful Ecstasy could lay claim to be being his best work and he could very well have rested on his laurels for Born in Tokyo, this new LP may very well take that mantle now.

The structure is very similar to before with lengthy 10-15 minute compositions and a running time nearing the 80 minute mark and much like previous efforts, it’s an album that drifts by with ease like an autumn breeze. In fact, Born in Tokyo’s aural landscape make a compelling sonic companions for the visual of browning leaves and earlier sunsets with its hazy ambience.

For years now, Van Wey has mastered the art of the restrained build. Each composition first opens in calm and serene reflection where each of the layers slowly begin to emerge from the foggy distance. Bvdub’s music very much begins to blossom after spending minutes laying down a foundation until a gorgeous and invigorating, but still soothing, crescendo takes over, much like the vibrant midway number, ‘Strong Again (Teach Me to Feel)’ where initially some male-led vocals are manipulated before ushering in a meandering soft beat-driven close.

‘We Love Together (It’s Our World)’ sees Van Wey toying with divergent male and female vocal samples, entwining them into a lush harmony that dominates the track only to allow the beats to take over for the remaining few minutes and play us out while something that actually sounds like a guitar, though obviously synth’d, can be heard whirring in the distance.

Another highlight that perfectly encapsulates what bvdub is about is the contrasting fragrances of ‘Two Hours to Forever (Just Ask Me, I'll Stay)’, where the familiar washes of ambience soon morph into lively and ebullient beats that hark back to the more dance oriented shades in his palette, while still being reserved and serene and doesn’t throw out heftier beats just for the sake of it.

Born In Tokyo is equally engaging as it is relaxing while deeply layered but also beautifully airy; another spectacular record from Van Wey.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

New Dublin Noise: Gaze

Here’s some new noisy d-beat from Dublin from Gaze who include Steve from Twisted Mass and Abaddon Incarnate, should that pique your interest. The band has seven tracks of grating cacophony online now, short and sweet, which you can stream below. Fans of noisy Japanese hardcore or Mauser would do well to check this out.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Reviews round-up: Jesu, Anacondas, Fyrnask, Vattnet Viskar, Katatonia

Jesu – Everyday I Get Closer To The Light From Which I Came 
Justin K. Broadrick never rests but with the Godflesh reunion and several other projects, Jesu has been somewhat quiet of late. Until now. Read the review of this stellar new album HERE.

Anacondas – Sub Contra Blues 
Here’s a debut album that’s totally blown up out of nowhere. Brighton’s Anacondas have unleashed a seriously impressive album of sludgy melodic hardcore with Sub Contra Blues. This isn’t one to sleep on. Read HERE.

Fyrnask – Eldir Nott 
Germany’s black metal pedigree is pretty impressive of late and one man entity, Fyrnask is not one to be left behind. Eldir Nott is his second record, which you can read all about HERE.

Vattnet Viskar – Sky Swallower 
Sky Swallower is the first full-length from Vattnet Viskar, released by Century Media. There’s been a bit of a buzz about this record but it may not exactly be up to scratch. Check it out HERE.

Katatonia – Dethroned & Uncrowned 
Acoustic re-recording albums aren’t exactly rare these days but generally bands wait a while before tackling older material, longer than a year anyway. Not Katatonia, they’re recorded last year’s Dead End Kings in more mellow fashion. Read the review HERE.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

New Irish death metal: Malthusian

Malthusian are Ireland’s latest death metal prospects but not with new faces, as they include members of Altar of Plagues, Mourning Beloveth, On Pain of Death and Wreck of the Hesperus. Since playing their first (and thus far only) show in April with Gospel of the Horns, the band’s primeval death metal has been eagerly anticipated in recorded format, with Invictus Productions handling the demo tape release. Now several months later, we are gifted with the first taste of the band’s raw and visceral material – ‘Hallucinogen’.

The band’s sound is the very epitome of underground DM, with murky guitars and a dank atmosphere. The band worked with Ola Ersfjord (who's previously recorded Vomitor) at Sun Studios in Dublin and while the production is anything but glossy, it's much grander than say ZOM in that the band has several different layers, especially in the riffs department and the trio of vile vocals, and they’ve have been given the necessary room to breathe and manoeuvre.

Demo MMXIII will be released on November 23rd when Malthusian play The Pint, Dublin with Urfaust. Expect more on Malthusian soon. Until then, feast on ‘Hallucinogen’: