HEALTH – VOL. 4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR

As far as I can remember, I’ve never started out a review with a personal anecdote. But HEALTH holds a special place in my musical journey. Back in 2008, my dad took me to see my first concert: Nine Inch Nails at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire.…

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Street Sects – The Kicking Mule

Austin, Texas favorite sample-based sons Street Sects career arc has been a fast, strange and always interesting one, with their extreme and extremely well-received debut End Position garnering them widespread praise, the band have evolved their sample-based sound while moving slowly away from their industrial elements, playing more to the post-punk side…

Marilyn Manson – Heaven Upside Down

Following a disappointing run that had lasted nearly a decade, Marilyn Manson made a fairly compelling (if not completely convincing) comeback with 2015’s The Pale Emperor. This not-quite-return-to-form also seemed to coincided with a stabilisation and cleaning up of the troubled shock rocker’s personal life, and it caused a stir among those who had all but written off the former “antichrist superstar,” leaving many wondering whether that album would prove to be a one-off glimpse of his former greatness or if he was capable of pulling-off a similar feat in the future. Although hopes remained high, alarm bells began to ring when it was announced that the follow-up to that record would be titled “Say10” and was slated for release on Valentine’s Day. Thankfully, that potentially embarrassing set of circumstances never came to fruition. The release was pulled with little fanfare or explanation—eventually emerging eight months later under the considerably less sophomoric title Heaven Upside Down, on the nondescript date of October 6 (although the first single being released on September 11 seems hardly coincidental). It eventually emerged that Manson was unhappy with the release in it’s earlier form and three extra tracks—it’s beginning, central and ending numbers—were added in the interim before its eventual release. The one-time “god of fuck” appears to have made the right call because, while Heaven Upside Down remains a far cry from the output of his glory period, it also provides further evidence that there’s still more than a little bit of Satanic gas left in his proverbial tank. Unfortunately, it also proves to be a release underpinned by a number of regrettable circumstances and uncomfortable revelations.

Street Sects – Rat Jacket

We’ve already vilified ourselves for missing Street Sects’s 2016 monster End Position, and if you haven’t heard it either, feel free to go spin the record now and share in our shame. The duo of multi-instrumentalist Shaun Ringsmuth and vocalist Leo Ashline came through with an exceptional dose of hyper-aggressive synth punk on End Position, making a bold statement in a genre defined by intensifying punk and its offshoots’ many disparate mannerisms. Not only was the album a debut that far exceeded the benchmark for a successful freshman full-length, it received well-deserved praise from the fickle beast that is the indie blogosphere. Perhaps the album’s success can be attributed to endorsement of well-respected “dark music” label The Flenser, or it could be due to the growing acceptance of heavy music as part of “normal” music consumption. However, there’s one undisputed factor for End Positions’s success, being the album’s undeniably impressive blend of industrial music and hardcore punk in a way that synth punk hasn’t seen done this well before. Seriously, if you haven’t heard this record, stop reading and go listen to it now; I won’t be offended, I promise.

Heavy Delinquency – Street Sects // End Position

As obsessive music fans, we have a pretty intense love/hate relationship with the constant onslaught of new music that crosses our paths on a weekly basis. By the time we sit down to compile our Release Day Roundup every Thursday, there’s a whole new slate of records that we need to tack onto our backlogs of new albums from weeks past, a list that remains replete throughout the year. This being the case, there are bound to be a handful of these albums that slip through the cracks, only to cross our paths months or years later and leave us wondering what possible reason we could have had to not listen to it sooner. While the time has passed to recommend these albums for your 2017 year end lists, we’ve decided to tweak our typical “Hey! Listen to…” series to launch Heavy Delinquency, which will allow us to talk about albums we slept on and make sure they receive the attention they deserve. Which brings us to Street Sects, the inspiration for this column and one of the greatest bands in modern synth punk.

Tau Cross – Pillar of Fire

Tau Cross’ 2015 self-titled debut took many in the metal and punk communities by surprise. It shouldn’t have, given the legendary contributions of band leaders Rob “The Baron” Miller of Amebix and Michael “Away” Langevin of Voivod. That album melded thrash, crust, punk, and a little bit of old fashioned heavy metal into a storming amalgam of heaviness and speed that catapulted the band into the limelight and gave the album more than a few nods on best-of lists at the end of the year. Such an auspicious debut from wily metal veterans such as Miller and Langevin has led to immense excitement regarding the band’s next album and whether or not they could keep pace with their scorching debut. Thus Tau Cross find themselves in the midst of the eternal quandary of all bands who have released excellent debut records. So how do they fair with their new record Pillar of Fire? Not bad at all, to be honest.

Heavy Buys: Nine Inch Nails // Not The Actual Events “Physical Component”

2016 was a strange year for fans of Nine Inch Nails, though not in a bad way; Trent Reznor promised new music and he delivered, in the form of the EP Not The Actual Events near the end of the year, along with a handful of soundtrack work with Atticus Ross. Possibly more interesting than Not The Actual Events was the announcement that Nine Inch Nails is officially a duo, with Ross finally joining Reznor as a legitimate band member (as opposed to just a long-time collaborator). (For those unaware, the two have been officially working together since NIN’s 2005 album With Teeth, though their relationship predates 2005.) Then, to stir the proverbial kettle again, it was announced that Not The Actual Events would not be released on CD (though it is available on vinyl), but instead a very limited “physical component” would be available for purchase, bundled with a digital download of the EP. As a big fan of Reznor’s work, I was excited to see what this could include, and so I ordered this “physical component” as soon as it became available, back in December. It wasn’t until February that I received my copy, and, frankly, the results are…interesting.