RIVIẼRE – Heal

Newcomers RIVIẼRE (please don’t ask us what that tilde is doing there, we don’t know) show us the lack of identity which the post-progressive genre is afflicted with. This comes with its share of challenges and problems. On their debut album, Heal, RIVIẼRE attempt to tap into the aesthetic of post-progressive metal and generate the melancholy, ambient vibe which the genre is beginning to be famous for. When this works, it works extremely well; the heavier or more dynamic moments on the album are straight up brilliant. But in between those peaks, where the band have to rely on “duct tape” passages to keep everything whole, Heal falls a bit flat, confused as to what exactly is required of it in the interim between climaxes.

Soen – Lykaia

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.

Various Artists – NOISE

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.

Ruetz – Melanoma

“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.

Misanthropia – Omerta

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 3

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…

Pain of Salvation – In the Passing Light of Day

The figure of the auteur is one which we’ve discussed on the blog multiple times. More than just an artist figure, the auteur represents a willpower which motivates an entire project, stamping their name (for good or for bad) on an album, a discography or any other form of art. It also represents a site of unprecedented danger, as arrogance, egotism and a simple lack of inspiration hover on the edges of creativity and look for a way in, looking for a way to twist art into navel-gazing self congratulation. Pain of Salvation have been skirting with these ephemeral lines between artistic impetus and artistic extravagance for years now, ever since Daniel Gildenlöw closed ranks around his vision and aesthetic. The previous three albums (and, one might argue, perhaps four) were mostly about his vision and his expression. Thus, the latest release by the band is suspect; is In the Passing Light of Day, especially when considering the circumstances of Gildenlöw’s life (and near death), able to skirt away from the abyss of artistic self congratulation and produce something more?

Nine Inch Nails – Not The Actual Events

When Trent Reznor announced the release of the new Nine Inch Nails EP, Not The Actual Events, he described its sound as “impenetrable” and removed from his previous soundtrack work from longtime collaborator and now official bandmate Atticus Ross. This was a very enticing prospect, as Reznor and his revolving door of musicians have cultivated a project wherein anything is possible. Not knowing what to expect, the very short time waiting between the surprise announcement and finally hearing the release felt like ages for longtime Nine Inch Nails fans, particularly after a fairly underwhelming 2013 comeback record Hesitation Marks.

The Drip – The Haunting Fear Of Inevitability

2016 grindcore spilled out into the world like creeping, black tar; ’twas quite simply a fantastic year for fans of d-beats, politically infused lyrical batterings and buzzsaw guitar tones. Fantastic stuff for all who proudly slave to the grind. This year now has a lot to live up to, and Relapse have readied the rest of the crowd with the debut full length from The Drip. The Haunting Fear Of Inevitability might be this act’s first full length but it is far from their first musical offering; eagle eyed readers will remember A Presentation Of Gruesome Poetics. Are the d-beats still full of D? Is the crust as fuzzy as ever? Is it inevitable that there is a third question here?