Like the grand majority of modern metal fans, our tastes here at Heavy Blog 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 weekly column which will cover noteworthy news, 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. Head past the jump to dial down the distortion:
Say “Hello” to an excellent new Adele single
Adele releasing a lead single is no normal affair; she released the video for “Hello” this past Thursday, and as of this installment of UMM, it already has over 60 million views. Granted, this is also Adele’s first piece of music in four years, discounting the theme from Skyfall (2012). This decision was clearly in Adele’s best interest, not only for the obvious need for a medical and personal break, but due to her hyper-saturation of the charts after the release of 21. Speaking as someone who initially loved the album as well as 19, I turn off “Rolling in the Deep,” “Set Fire to the Rain” and “Someone like You” whenever they come on the radio. I still think these songs are great from an objective perspective, but having heard them so many times over the past few years, I just have no interest in hearing them anytime in the near future. That being said, “Hello” immediately piqued my interest. Releasing a lead single just a month before its album’s official release is unusual (especially for a major release), as it can easily neuter the hype cycle which lead singles are intended to stoke. My hopes then turned to a single with more staying power, which is exactly what “Hello” has to offer.
A stark piano driven track broken only by subtle, orchestral swells in the choruses, “Hello” is a haunting track which sees Adele passing off the receiving end of heartbreak in her lyrics. In a way, I feel as though this makes her slightly less relatable to the average listener; it is easier to lament lost love than to admit to being the cause of that pain (though both of these emotions are worth confronting). Personally, I welcome this lyrical shift, as it exhibits a commendable degree of honesty which perfectly wraps up the instrumentation and Adele’s vocals into a seamless tale of sorrow and regret, encapsulating her pain of both embracing the mistake of abandoning her lover and realizing that her call for forgiveness is now receiving a similar lack of interest. Of course, Adele’s vocal delivery of this tale is flawless; regardless of your opinion of Adele, I challenge anyone to genuinely criticize her singing abilities. Though her delivery alone would have been enough to sell me on 25, the track as a whole is equally stunning, and I am thankful that the waiting period for the album is relatively brief.
25 will be released through XL on November 20th, with pre-orders available here.
Pure Bathing Culture thinks your favorite stripper is you (and also your lover)
Sometimes you just get hooked on a song and the music video that accompanies it. Usually it’s because the provided visual enhances some aspect of the track and it hits you in that perfect spot that allows you to re-watch it endlessly. Pure Bathing Culture has done that with their video for their newest album’s title track, “Pray for Rain.” A man gets a private show at a gentleman’s club and ends up visualizing himself as the woman dancing in front of him. Afterwards, he meets her outside and she leads him away. That’s the whole plot of the video and it’s not why I’m clicking replay.
What I’m clicking replay for is how the song and the video interact. The song suits the neon-soaked club in an unexpected way. It’s tone is almost too upbeat for the uneasiness portrayed in the first thirty seconds, but it begins to translate through in the passion of the dancer. Deceptively simple drumbeats, a fuzzed out bassline, twinkling guitars and soulful crooning all become the soundtrack for a performance that feels a bit more personal than the relationship of server and client would allow. Then, in the middle of her show, she becomes her client, during which reverbed guitars begin set afloat the soulful echoes of the songs closing questions: “Are you cut in two? Cut all the way through?” The best part is that the dancer whispers those words to her client as she finishes her dance and it drives them home. I’m not exactly sure where home is, but when I see that part of the video I can feel it in my soul for a brief moment. I might just be a bit unusual, but this video stirs something in me that I just can’t shake. Hopefully it can strike you in a similar way.
“Pray for Rain” appears on PBC’s album of the same name; it may be purchased through Partisan here.
Questioning the state of post-punk? “The Answer” is Savage(s)
A couple of years ago, British post-punks Savages released their fierce as hell debut Silence Yourself that presented a mixture of classic gritty punk with the right amount of catchy hooks and enticing atmospherics. The band have been writing, workshopping, and recording their follow-up over the past year, and now it looks like it’s finally ready for public consumption. Adore Life will be out 1/22 through Matador, and they’ve released its first single and video, “The Answer” along with the announcement.
“The Answer” definitely builds upon the strong sound they established in Silence Yourself with an fervent and urgent energy that suits frontwoman Jehnny Beth’s siren melodies perfectly. The video itself is relatively simple but perfectly executed in its immersive, first-person camerawork in the thick of the band performing in a warehouse space. Listening and watching this, it’s pretty impossible to not be swept up in the immense energy of it. Needless to say, I’m pumped for this, and you should be too.
Adore Life will be released through Matador on January 22, 2016, with pre-orders available here.
Sun Kil Moon & Jesu, a.k.a. the dream collab no one saw coming
Several months have passed since I read Justin Broadrick’s announcement of an impending Sun Kil Moon/Jesu collaboration, but I remember saying to myself “Hm…never thought of that, but it could be great.” In essence, I had never considered splicing Mark Kozolek’s heavily narrative-driven folk and Broadrick’s droning, heavy shoegaze, but hearing about it made perfect sense. After all, both SKM and Jesu make heavily emotive music, with the latter relying on Kozolek’s personable spoken-word and the latter focusing on Broadrick’s effect-drenched riff-writing. And after spinning the two lead singles teasing towards the collab’s 2016 self-titled debut, this pleasant surprise evolves from potential to realized success.
There is a great deal that I could say about these two tracks, but…I am going to refrain for now. Kozolek’s lyrics always need time to digest completely, and considering his reiteration of the death of Nick Cave’s son leads me to believe that the album’s lyrics will flow together in some way. Musically, I find “America’s Most Wanted…” to sound like a nearly 50/50 collaboration between SKM and Jesu’s sounds, while “Exodus” falls more in line with Jesu’s electronic. I have nothing but praise to offer thus far, but I want to leave my final thoughts for further down the road.
Jesu/Sun Kil Moon will be released through Caldo Verde on January 22, 2016, with pre-orders available here.
GoGo Penguin’s v2.0 is the dark jazz album you never knew you needed
There’s a very special genre that exists out there and it consists of dreamy piano, cold bass, ethereal strings sometimes and a whole lot of emotional punch. Deaf Center are one band I can cite but their brand of almost-drone jazz is not really what we’re about here. Sure, the opening track of GoGo Penguin‘s v2.0 is dark and ambient but the rest of the album has insane amounts of groove, improvisation and an almost optimism.
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The whole thing is just deep piano and bass overlaid with drums but the trio can perform magic with it; tracks vary from off-kilter rides through complex melodies that are plentiful in jazz through contemplative sojourns like the opening track to catchy, almost pop anthems that stick in your heads for days. Wrapping this package up pretty nicely is a production that drips room noise, presence and, somehow, clarity to produce a snazzy album that can also touch you deep. I jam this during rides through early morning/late night fogs, when I need pick me ups that also challenge my hearing and whenever I’m in the mood for some groove with my contemplation.
Sparks & Steel: Electronic music for metalheads
As much as I’ll always love metal, I’ve found myself distancing from it over the past few years in favor of an equally severe obsession with electronic music. This might seem weird at first as the genres certainly have their differences, but as I dug into the darker, more obscure side of the electronic spectrum, I realized that they have just as many similarities. In this column I’ll discuss and share exactly that: electronic music that metalheads could get behind, or that at least shares an aesthetic similar to metal. I’ll cover anything from abstract experiments in industrial noise, to pounding, visceral techno, to eerie dark ambient. Hopefully at least some of it will stick with you! – DA
Raime – Quarter Turns Over a Living Line
To kick things off, I could think of no album more fitting than Raime‘s 2012 masterpiece Quarter Turns over a Living Line. A simple glance at the cover art or the label releasing it – Blackest Ever Black Records- is enough to understand why this UK duo’s music would appeal to metal fans, and the album doesn’t waste any time in confirming this. Opening with a sub-Earth-frequency bassline and ending with a glacial dirge, Quarter Turns… sets the tone and doesn’t let go at any point in its journey through bleak, delicious darkness.
On paper, Raime could be categorized as some post-apocalyptic mixture of downtempo, industrial, dark ambient, and techno – but even that doesn’t do their distinct sound any justice. Yes, most of the songs here have beats, but this is an album that eschews all dance music conventions, its drums merely augmenting the mood instead of taking center stage. It further distances itself by including live instruments into the mix, most notably the monolithic string scrapes of “Your Cast Will Tire,” and for a record this dark it somehow manages to be quite melodic, too (although its eastern-tinged melodies usually end up enforcing an even greater sense of dread).
Amidst all the bleakness, it should be noted that Quarter Turns… is still an album whose intensity works on more of an emotional level than a sonic one. This is music that’s indeed very esoteric, and conjures up some of the most pitch-black nocturnal soundscapes you’ll have the pleasure of hearing, but it focuses on ambiance above all. Thus, listeners looking to get their fix of darkness while taking a break from the aggression and abrasiveness of metal will find a perfect fit in Raime, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in this type of music in general.
Quarter Turns over a Living Line may be purchased here.