Third albums. What a goddamn mystery. We’ve spoken about the unique challenge posed by them before on the blog but there’s never been any concise solution offered to their peculiar problem. Should bands double down on their established sound and “dig deeper” (like TesseracT’s Polaris for example) or throw everything to the wind and experiment wildly with their sound (like Karnivool’s Asymmetry for instance)? Both options entice with their advantages but both also hold pitfalls. Too often, bands simply don’t choose and try to walk a golden, middle round. This “secret” third option is extremely difficult to pull off but also hedges the band’s bets, since failing it carries less hazards. At worst, it leaves an album a little bit forgettable. Otherwise, this third choice skirts many of the potential disasters of the other two options. This “best worst case scenario” is exactly what Soen’s third release embodies.
In their down time from story-boarding episodes of Rick and Morty and Mr. Pickles for Adult Swim, the team at Williams Street Productions has been an odd source of quality underground music compilations and albums. Not only does their catalog feature works from the likes of Captain Murphy (a.k.a Flying Lotus) and Destruction Unit alongside annual, multi-genre compilations, nearly all of these albums are entirely free to stream and download. If you’re searching for a negative here, there isn’t one, a point the company proved yet again last month with their most avant-garde offering to date. The appropriately blunt title for NOISE should point to the abrasiveness of this collection of tracks; an eclectic range of compositions from an equally broad roster of artists, all of whom approach “noise” as a malleable concept meant to be stretched to its limit.
Perhaps the most definitive element of metal is the growling, shrieking, rasping, inhuman snarls we call harsh vocals. Certainly, there…
The observant among you may find something familiar about LA’s up and coming hardcore firebrands Grand Lord High Master and their new song “Flexxx”; it actually made its debut over the holiday season as a part of our annual Heavy Comp Is Heavy compilation. In case you missed it, we’ve got its “official” premiere today before the album’s release this spring. Truthfully, “Flexxx” is a song so nice, we just had to debut it twice.
Throwing around genre combinations with black metal is all the rage today. From the gospel black metal of Zeal & Ardor to the countless avant-garde bands claiming black metal pedigree, the genre seems to be the suffix du jour for the metal community. Naturally, backlash is building towards this tendency, with purists demanding to see extensive influences in these creations before they “approve” (even if only to themselves) of the different branchings and permutations of the “esteemed” black metal genre. However, the influences which sometimes inform these descriptors don’t always have to be overt; black metal spliced with different genres doesn’t have to have blatant markings of intermingling. Sometimes, like in Glorior Belli’s case, the crux lies in the tone.
“Blackgaze” is now a thing. It’s been confirmed. Just don’t use Deafheaven as the only example. Any new genre needs new blood to keep the momentum high and, though they may not sit perfectly within the designated safety lines, Ruetz are the blackened torch bearers this slightly kooky movement needs. Blackened hardcore when the hardcore needs to be blackened and post-gaze enough to keep the indie kids tapping brown leather shoes to the beat, debut salvo Melanoma stares at it’s trotters long enough to be a gaze. Thankfully, the gaze is short lived and the fun parts move firmly to front of stage.
If a poster was created of famous devil-worshippers then Aleister Crowley’s face would no doubt be near the front and center. Despite not actually being a Satanist, Crowley’s “wicked’’ deeds placed him in league with the Dark Lord in the eye’s of the public back in his heyday. However, he was a practitioner of Thelema, a spiritual philosophy of self-empowerment that’s often lumped in with the glorification of evil much like Satanism has been throughout the years. And like old Beelzebub, Crowley and heavy metal fit together like a hand in glove, and his influence in heavy music can be traced all the way back to the genre’s earliest years.
Story time: the first time I heard Late. play their brand of sludgy, jam-styled, instrumental post-metal, I was in a friend’s basement for an impromptu house show that had only been scheduled one day ahead of time. Several Chicago-area DIY bands had all come together with about as little notice as possible for what was, all around, an absolutely fantastic bill, but Late. absolutely stole the show for me. Up close and personal, crammed in a sweaty, gross basement, I watched them jam through a few tracks and was totally awe-struck by their set, feeling something that, truth be told, I…
At the Drive-In was unlike any else I had ever heard; they had a sense of angst that was so perfectly channeled that it barely seemed angsty somehow. It was raw emotion, but wrapped in ribbons and bundles that allowed it to be easily digestible, even more so than the Dischord Material I idolized (and still do). The band was artful and careful with how they did everything and, at the time, it seemed revolutionary. Now, some 4 or 5 years after that first initial meeting, I am sitting here re-visiting their discography in full, struck not only by its timelessness but by the band’s sonic evolution from release to release. Below is an exploration of those releases, their inner workings, and why they have retained such heavy, influential status among the post hardcore community.
Original concepts often lead to original execution, either out of the necessity to relay new information with a new combination of tools or because thinking outside the bounds of normalcy encourages a new level of creative engagement. There is certainly something to be said for this second one; it’s not rare to see albums of a novel conceptual nature end up sounding somewhat extraordinary as well. Hell, some artists even make careers out of this – The Dear Hunter’s episodic Act series of albums is, rather unconventionally, set in the era just following the first World War, and brings in many elements of musical theater, lounge, and big band to add some temporally appropriate weight, and rap trio clipping. have made quite a name for themselves out of eschewing genre trends, most recently exploring the intersection of sci-fi dark ambient, musique concrete, and hip-hop on their newest album, Splendor and Misery.
Run the Jewels’ Run the Jewels 2 (Known throughout the rest of this review as RTJ2) was one of the best rap albums of 2014 without a doubt. It showed Killer Mike & El-P coming together and really getting on the same wavelength required to become a stellar duo. Now on Run the Jewels 3 (RTJ3), dropped for free as a digital download through RTJ’s website on Christmas Eve, we see them stating their manifesto for capturing the only jewel left to run: yourself. Through the group’s best production to date and a camaraderie that’s only seemed to grow stronger in-between album releases, RTJ3 shows a dynamic duo that is still fighting…