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Monday, January 27, 2014

Album Review: Servers – Leave With Us

In an age when an embattled music industry has sucked up hit after hit, record labels and their artists have found solace in the art of advertising. A brash band t-shirt, a solid tour slot, an enticing line of blurb, one fanatical album review in the right place and a strong social media presence. Any of these things can be the making or breaking of a band these days. With that in mind, you’d honestly believe that the UK trio Servers were rank amateurs. An instantly-forgettable and distinctly internet-unfriendly moniker, a face-concealing “promotional” snap and music video and a few lines of biographical waffle about cults – that’s pretty much it. It’s certainly a back-door approach to self-promotion.


Take a closer look though, because lurking back there in the shadows is an absolute behemoth spouting musical ear-worms that boast grit, melody and muscle. Some groups may mesh a couple of genres together to create something fresh and dynamic – Servers are an octopic rock band with a groping arm in every pie. They are the very definition of the band you simply cannot pigeonhole. Song by song, their chameleonic music takes in grunge, dark rock, screamo, sludge, cult metal, new wave, industrial and punk n’ roll – there are even a few 70s prog touches here and there.

The keystone here is vocalist/guitarist and former GU Medicine frontman Lee Storrar. His “all is lost” melancholics and soaring Jaz Coleman-esque (Killing Joke) throat-ripping wails lock themselves seamlessly onto his portly chugs and wild riffs, but there is solid support from Ant Nettleship’s pounding drums and Lee Wilde’s fizzing bass. This here is a debut album loaded with viperous intent, an intoxicating dark quality and shedloads of melodramatic attack.

Opening with bleak menace, ‘Save Me From Myself‘ is two-parts Cancer Bats and one-part Five Finger Death Punch. It burns with an intense heat and Storrar’s hoarse yelping rises to a scream with the crecendoing chorus whilst the pistoning rhythm rumbles beneath like a detached and hopelessly lost soul. ‘Universes & Supernovas‘ and ‘Run With The Foxes‘ are their two epic firecrackers with vast riffs that will suck you in. Both Foo Fighters-esque in construction and tone, they feature big, sparkly choruses that will aggressively weld themselves to your brain. Wedged between them the intensely gothic, Icicle Works-friendly comedown of ‘Claustrophobia‘ is utterly thrilling and it’s tonal brother, the dark, sultry creature that is ‘King Things‘, is a pulsating beauty with a powerful “breathe in, breathe out” suckerpunch.

Mega High‘ ups the ante as Lee Wilde’s fat bass strings combine with Storrar’s buzzing, sludge-flinging guitar to take them powering into Orange Goblin and Fu Manchu territory. This gives licence for the vocal to dial up the snarl and caterwauling as the shit-kicking rock licks come out to play. The joy of the stomp is used to great effect for the raging bluster of the QOTSA-esque ‘Do Gooders‘. Here, their bleak cult ethos that they seem to thrive on adds another more sinister tone to their appeal.

Layered deep enough to give it a potent attack, the strong production also slaps on a slick finish and yet it’s been handled lightly enough to give it real character. Listen closely enough and beneath the power and precision, there is still the odd pop and crackle that bursts forth. No matter which track you shuffle to, there is a resplendent joy prevalent in the construction and an undeniable swagger in the delivery. Here is an album that you sense is alive and breathing. It’s dark purpose may be there in the background but, thankfully, it has not been consumed by it. Rather it stands silently within the crowd, yet with arms open, ready to wrap you in its warm, loving embrace.

When the songwriting is of this kind of quality, there really is no need to go through the standard ritual of self-promotion. If the South Yorkshire trio continue along this path, focusing solely on the creation of the music alone, the rest will simply take care of itself. As their final track clearly points out with its (rather tacked on) spooky soundbite from the “Heaven’s Gate Cult Recruitment Tape” – “The only chance you have to survive is to leave with us”. One listen to this album and you will surely want to follow Servers to the ends of the Earth.

Also online @ Heavy Blog Is Heavy = http://www.heavyblogisheavy.com/2014/01/24/servers-leave-with-us/

Thursday, January 23, 2014

EP Review: Colossus Of Destiny – In Lesser Brightness

Who fancies a nice, big, juicy steak?

If you’ve got your hand up then allow me to point you in the direction of Colossus Of Destiny. With a band-name that comes from a Melvins’ live album and being bona fide fans of the Relapse roster, it’s no surprise to discover that this Parisian quintet are all about the meat. With velvety-rich production, beefy drumming, fat strings and a chomping vocal attack that hits like a bloody mallet, In Lesser Brightness is a T-Rex T-Bone of a record.

It’s a beast that digs in early and signs off in style. Opening the six-track EP up with “Dismay In Empty Eyes” and its crashing wave effects, sonorous riffs and cascading toms, they cleverly strip their attack back only to build it all back up again. As a multi-part behemoth, it’s hugely reminiscent of Steak Number Eight’s progressive thunder. It is the ultimate statement of intent. Closing proceedings, the lurking melodics of the title-track and its chaotic brother, “Naked & Unbound”, are similarly brave in structure. Here, the band tug at antagonistic threads that shine a spotlight on Jérémy Le Formal’s drumming as he drives the staggering motion ever onward when it seems the songs may implode.

Conversely, their shorter tracks, like “Unleashed” and “Get Lost”, seem determined to blindly batter away with the guitars ripping out some fairly hefty sludge metal, taking them tramping down the same paths as bands like Bison B.C. and High On Fire. Deep in the mix, Guillaume Taliercio’s bass still displays a magnificent wanderlust whilst vocalist Adrien Guilmoteau has a crack at tearing off a slice of that Matt Pike snarl. Here in the record’s mid-riff the tracks lose some of their individuality as their fleshier parts tend to bleed into each other which is a shame.

A future album release should help nail down whether their intentions are to favour pace and power over a softer, more experimental touch. That opening track here suggests they do, indeed, have the songwriting nous to help them, should they so wish, build up an exciting, expansive style. Whichever way they go, it’s clear you’re going to have to bring a big plate and a sharp knife if you want to dine at Colossus of Destiny’s table.

Also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2014/01/colossus-of-destiny-in-lesser-brightness-hellbound-records/

Monday, January 13, 2014

Album Review: Murmur – Murmur

After plunging the depths with their raw, feedback-abusing, drone-heavy and, at times, utterly inaccessible debut album, “Mainlining The Lugubrious”, this Chicago quintet have pulled back their black metal curtains and allowed in a little more light for their sophomore self-titled.

They have undoubtedly veered towards more of an intensive drone and psych experience, with only suggestions of their former Nachmystium and Burzum stylings shining through. Expect plenty of rhythmic anomalies, staccato attacks and even a little touch of punk nous thrown in to the mix. Tracks such as “Bull Of Crete” and the hellish dirge-into-mayhem of the two-part “Zeta II Reticuli” and “King In Yellow” form the bloodied fists of malcontent. It’s like finding the atonal nadir where These Arms Are Snakes’ vicious howls meet the avant-garde lunacy of Kong.

Retaining their love of ambience, you’ll discover amidst the dying paroxysms, dark bleatings and discordant noise, fresh shoots bursting forth from the dangerously jagged 11-minute monster, “Al-Malik”, and the soulful Latino flourishes of “Recuerdos”. Elsewhere, the album is only memorable for its lack of hooks, curiously liquid segueing between tracks and inconsistent tonal patterns.

What does ring true is their choice of bonus track. If Murmur’s ultimate fetish hadn’t been obvious before then the closing cover of King Crimson’s “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Pt. 2″ will nail that thought into your mind. Faithfully performed (though without the original’s kitsch instrumentation or warm blue tones) it seems a shame they neglected to insert as much of their heroes’ gnarly groove or deap-seated psychoses into the rest-of the album.

Also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2014/01/murmur-murmur-season-of-mist/