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Friday, July 24, 2015

Album Review: Year Of The Goat – The Unspeakable

Album number two from Swedish occult dark rockers, Year Of The Goat, comes with heaps of their usual melodrama plus a subtle blend of multiple genres. Each one is shot through with their own stylized affectations woven into more recognisable musical touchstones.

The vast 13-minute pastiche of opener “All He Has Read” thrusts us from an introductory summoning of dark spirits before it switches up and kicks into gear with echoing bell tolls and melodic riffs. There are forceful impressions of folk in the rhythmical drum runs and the accompanying rise and fall of the backing vocals breathe a symphonic air into proceedings. The insidious tone of the second movement and minor chords of the guitars mark out the band’s gothic leanings whilst the whole employs some, at times, pretty rough cloak-and-dagger lyrics all breathed out by Thomas Sabbathi’s strained, affected delivery. I had to check the liner notes to check to see if it wasn’t actually Suede’s Bernard Butler!

Upbeat numbers like “Pillars Of The South”, the addictive blast of “Riders & Vultures” and the bluesier “Vermin” jink back and forth upon solid riffs whilst slower, more foreboding tracks like “The Emma”, laced with pantomime villainy, and the Jethro Tull-esque “World Of Wonders” drink deep upon proggy blasts of mellotron allowing the band to really sink their teeth into the flesh of their chosen subject matter.

Dig deeper and you’ll find wedged into the middle of the album are the curio couplet “The Wind” and “Black Sunlight”. Both are invigorated by employing the galloping country rhythms, harrowing narrative and dull baritone of Nick Cave. A trickle of unhinged discomfiture in a sea of assuredness.

Relentlessly engaging without ever really demanding of the listener, The Unspeakable is a solid hitter played with a straight bat. It’ll certainly be interesting to see if next time out they go for something a little more thematically grizzled, perhaps with an eye towards engaging with the extreme, because this hints at it and they have left plenty of room for manoeuvre.



Also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2015/07/year-of-the-goat-the-unspeakable-napalm/

Monday, July 20, 2015

Album Review: The Whorehouse Massacre – Altar Of The Goat Skull

Self-releasing all but one of their first five releases, these fly-by-wire monsters from Ohio are a bit of a rare find. With few having heard their suffocating wall-of-death sound before, it’s a delight to finally wrap ears around it. Well, a delight compared to being poked in the eye with a burnt stick; a delight compared to being put in the stocks and having bricks thrown at you; a delight compared to having your ears syringed with hydrochloric acid. You get the idea.

One suspects their live show must be a bit hairy seeing as the three members all play bass. Luckily, Kyle M. is also adept at playing lead guitar and their vocalist, Willy P., also has a knack for bashing ten bells out of a drumkit. They’ve been hoiking out demos and EPs since 2005, and this latest release marks a compilation of some of their later material. Shot through with distortion and overdrive, the music within is undeniably aggressive, oppressively doomy, dense to the point of crushing and yet curiously hypnotic.

“Indignation” is the equivalent of aural mincemeat. Teeth-rattling bottom-end, sludge-hurling chugs and Neanderthal guttural sounds and animal grunts that form themselves into such eloquent wordplay as “Steel toe mother fucking your head into the curb” and “Choke on your last fucking screams”. No surprise then when it all slowly begins to disintegrate into a torrent of feedback. “Buried In The Darkness” digs out a soft and sweet longwave riff, whilst the scrambling “Bowels Of Hell” goes for something with a similarly bludgeoning sound and equally sympathetic lyrics – “Just another example of living human waste”. Oh hell, what a bundle of joy, this is.

There are no pauses between tracks but you’ll catch when they switch as the thing is like a patchwork quilt of jumps, skips and oblique key changes. There is very little variation in tone or deviation from style. “Sewer Dreams” makes a stab at it, with some flitting, tuneless, ethnic instrument buzzing like a rampant fly stuck in your right ear, but even here they refuse to let you out of the gutter. The grooviest thing is the Sloth cover, “Sassy Pants”, which pitches back and forth with a lively drum section and a quick switch-up in chord structures. It’s quickly down into their usual fare of heads-down, dark droning though. If you can make it as far as the fearsome “Temples Of Perdition” you’re doing well, but I swear if you do the band will have broken you. They broke me there – hell, I even cracked an exhausted smile. Something I last did at an Annotations Of An Autopsy show back in late 2008.

Essentially this is 45 minutes of careless, low-fi slops and barrel-scraping, death-obsessed, elephantine doom-mongering watered-down to the simple joys of constructing a song round a riff, spewing hate and ejecting face-melting levels of distortion. Basic, honest music with zero frills. And therein lays the true pleasure of The Whorehouse Massacre. With so many bands these days welding multiple genres together and throwing everything but the kitchen sink at their music, TWM stick a defiant middle finger up and say “suck on this, you fuck”.

Also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2015/06/the-whorehouse-massacre-altar-of-the-goat-skull-transcending-obscurity/

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Album Review: Vattnet Viskar – Settler

Hailing from the American heartlands yet taking their name for the Swedish for “the water is whispering”, Vattnet Viskar have always been an innovative, multi-faceted band. On the one hand, their clear first love is for the more familial strains of second wave black metal with its speeding double-kick, cascading chords and vocal scowling. On the other, their nous for conjuring strong grooves and melancholic, progressive noodling allows for a deeper connection to the various outlying strains of the genre.

Spending months rather than weeks writing this latest effort allowed the band to really stretch themselves. Bassist Casey Aylward explains: “I think we had a lot of time in the studio to mess around with details and textures… we were diving into different territories a lot on this record”. This extra time taken meant they were keen to find a producer who could bring the most out of the wealth of this fresh-sounding material and so they searched out Sanford Parker (Yob, Twilight). He certainly seems to have given the music more colour than much of their previous material and has retained the visceral edge that so defines them.

Firing us into a squall of feedback, “Dawnlands” sets the pace with classic lines and dark portents before “Colony” picks up the baton and introduces a strident, battle-hardened groove to proceedings. Here, the lyrics begin to disintegrate into binary and the structure and pacing quick-steps between the track’s many facets. Like some bizarre, mutated combination of Lamb Of God’s “Straight For The Sun”, Isis’ “Wavering Radiant” and Steak Number Eight’s “Photonic”, the magical post-doom of “Yearn” settles into a memorable, cyclical riff accompanied by a roared vocal hook. It takes just these three tracks together for us to establish our place upon Settler‘s musical roundabout.

Like its neighbour, the accurately-titled “Glory” similarly takes its influence from the post-metal kinks of Isis, yet summons their more explosive side, piling raging power on top of Nicholas Thornbury’s maniacal, howled vocal. It pitches us straight into the slowly-emerging structure and hefty theatrics of the truly epic “Heirs”. It’s a track that whisks us from speeding metallic grunt to drifting melodics and barbarous, deathly grooves before finally cramming us into the closing dynamic oblivion of something truly special.

Most certainly there are weaknesses in the album, but these are confined to the odd disrupting stumble between segues and a failure to fully-integrate the faster, less accessible parts. The fans should be happy with the result but mere passers-by may find themselves alienated by the looser, more ragged hits of “Impact” and the title-track. What cannot be disputed is Vattnet Viskar’s desire to experiment. From the very first glance of that conflicted and emotionally-cutting front cover (a recreated photo of a beaming Christa McAuliffe training for NASA’s ill-fated 1986 Challenger mission) right through to Settler‘s closing combination of melody and feedback, the band are seeking to expand our minds and their own. They toy with a huge concept by applying varying degrees of pacing and atmospherics. The end result isn’t flawless but it is, ultimately, beguiling.



Also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2015/06/vattnet-viskar-settler-century-media/