There’s a lot happening in the music world, and we here at Heavy Blog try our very best to keep up with it! Like the vast majority of heavy music fans, our tastes are incredibly vast, with our 3X3s in each Playlist Update typically covering numerous genres and sometimes a different style in each square. While we have occasionally covered non-metal topics in past blog posts, we decided that a dedicated column was warranted in order to more completely recommend all of the music that we have been listening to. Unmetal Monday is a bi-weekly column which covers noteworthy tracks and albums from outside the metal universe, and we encourage you all to share your favorite non-metal picks from the week in the comments. This week, we’ll be highlighting a few albums and tracks that struck our fancy over the past few weeks. Head past the jump to dial down the distortion:
There’s a lot happening in the music world, and we here at Heavy Blog try our very best to keep up with it! Like the vast majority of heavy music fans, our tastes are incredibly vast, with our 3x3s in each Playlist Update typically covering numerous genres and sometimes a…
Stripping something down to its core components is one of the oldest and most powerful of tropes. The story of getting down to the core of things has immeasurable power over us. In fact, it appears that it becomes more and more relevant the farther along we go; as our lives get more and more complicated in the modern age, the appeal of a return to basics strikes deep. Works as varied as Into the Wild, Breaking Bad and Inception all revolve around the idea of the fake, sleek, modern, and inauthentic self sloughing away, leaving behind it a core that rings with truth and power. These themes and narratives are the fuel behind Hypno5e’s latest release, Alba – Les Ombres Errantes. There can be no other impetus for a band known for their complexity and contrasting influences to make a minimalist album; the drive which makes such an effort go is inherently tied with the idea of a return to basics.
Progfest may not be a name which is too familiar amongst many of our readers. This small, traditionally Melbourne-based music festival has been going strong and steadily growing for the past 10 years and features noted alumni such as Ne Obliviscaris, Caligula’s Horse, sleepmakeswaves, and Twelve Foot Ninja, all of…
A beetle makes its way across the otherwise spotless carpet. Not a particularly large specimen, it waddles in a characteristically militant and somewhat jagged rhythm. It reminds me of Bryan Devendorf’s opening drum barrage in “Squalor Victoria”. It’s from The National’s Boxer, if you’re unfamiliar.
Clichés exist for a reason; usually, they represent a grain of truth that gets buried underneath public scrutiny. The more that people observe or muse on that single grain, the more it gets reused and worn. In the process, a certain derision becomes attached to it but that does nothing to take away from the actual grain present there. Clichés, when used right, still have the potential for truth and incisive perspective. Steven Wilson has, for all intents and purposes, worked long enough in the business to become his own cliché, a musician whose style is so important that it is an arch-type when one approaches music in a large number of sub-genres. As Wilson continues to progress down his career, what is left to him? It seems as if every peak has been conquered. What keeps him going? If To The Bone, his upcoming release, is any indication, it is probably a mix of love of music, dedication to the craft and the constant need to tweak his own style.
The beauty of good art-rock and pop is that it often presents the best of many musical worlds. For those of us who love a good vocal hook, catchy choruses, and a certain immediacy that pop offers but still crave some amount of edge and compositional twists and turns to keep things from getting too simplistic or repetitive, it’s the sonic equivalent of having our cake and eating it too. That mixture of familiar and the unexpected are the things that make acts like St. Vincent or Bent Knee at their best so utterly engrossing, addictive, and fun. And for those who are fans of either of those two aforementioned groups/artists, here’s another to add to your rotation who will surely not disappoint: The New Tarot.
I am at Rough Trade in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the Boston-based art-rock band Bent Knee, both to interview them and to see them play live for my first time. I would love to say that I had been following the band for years and have already seen them a handful of times, but somehow their head-spinning mixture of heavy-hitting Faith No More energy, proggy theatrics, and off-kilter pop/rock experimentations somewhere between Björk and St. Vincent had escaped me until only just this year when a fellow Heavy Blogger introduced me to them through their 2014 sophomore LP Shiny Eyed Babies. Upon hearing tracks like “Way Too Long” and “Being Human” I was instantly hooked. The blend of jazz influences with the bite of heavy rock and metal, extensive incorporation of violin, and the powerful siren sounds of vocalist Courtney Swain were more than enough to grab my attention, and I quickly did all I could to catch myself up on their (at the time) 3 albums.
Man, 2017, y’all. We realize that it’s kind of our m.o. to be proponents of the whole “Golden Age of Metal” narrative and be incredibly positive about the consistently great level of stuff that is being put out from pretty much every part of the musical spectrum, but it’s such an easy thing to do when we are so constantly bombarded with new material that utterly consumes our attention. Even in months where one of us might not have as many new albums that really impressed them, without doubt there will be another one who could barely keep up because of all the superb releases from genres they pay close attention to. This April has certainly been no different in that regard, and we have a whole slew of top-notch albums to recommend to you all.
Though Swans has had several sonic reincarnations, The Great Annihilator is one of the most important phoenixes in the flock. After five perverse, punishing records, Michael Gira and crew began to slowly drift up from the gutters into some puzzling territory. The band followed up Children of God (1987) with an unexpected absolution and released The Burning World (1989), a collection of gothic-tinged neofolk album which was easily the most pleasant offering they’d composed up until that point. Then came sister albums White Light From the Mouth of Infinity (1991) and Love of Life (1992), which strayed slightly from their predecessor but took the general framework along with them. Swaying between dismal post punk, morbid folk and unidentifiable bliss, these albums flirted with a sound that Gira and crew would perfect on The Great Annihilator (1995), one of the greatest achievements of Swans initial life as a band.