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. As is tradition, 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:
Denzel Curry – 13LOOD IN + 13LOOD OUT MIXX
Anyone who consistently reads this column should be familiar with my affinity for Florida rapper Denzel Curry. The man’s discography is beyond reproach, from thoughtful and epic concept albums like Ta13oo to last year’s perma-banger ZUU, it’s hard to approach rap’s fringes without some form of discussion around Curry’s influence on the scene, and his first output of 2020 does absolutely nothing to slow his meteoric rise.
13LOOD IN + 13LOOD OUT MIXX presents 13 minutes of pure Denzel goodness with nary a weak link in sight. Featuring the likes of Ghostmane, Zillakami, AK, and Xavier Wulf certainly doesn’t hurt matters either, making 13LOOD IN + 13LOOD OUT MIXX a further testament to Curry’s expansion and growth as an artist while highlighting his ability to create projects of all shapes and sizes that never sound anything less than excellent. The production on these eight tracks is absolute fire, with Curry (listed on the project under the moniker ZXLTRXN) throwing out some of his best bars yet. Particularly on “Charlie Sheen”, which features the above mentioned Ghostmane to stunning effect. Here’s hoping these two collaborate more often, because the results are spectacular.
It may seem that 13LOOD IN + 13LOOD OUT MIXX is a quick throwaway from an artist riding at the top of his game, but that would shortchange the noteworthy accomplishments of this concentrated dose of hip hop aggression. Even at 13 minutes, Curry destroys the competition, adding further validation to his status as one of rap’s most talented and unique voices. Long love the new king of the SoundCloud generation.
Virgil Donati – Ruination
You might not recognize the name Virgil Donati but it’s pretty much safe to say that you’ve heard his work before. The virtuoso drummer has worked with the likes of Steve Vai and Alan Holdsworth (to clip just two names from his extensive repertoire) and has released many solo albums. Calling these albums “solo” is a bit of a misnomer, since Donati always brings along plenty of talent for the ride. His upcoming release, Ruination, is no different; enlisting a host of great musicians, Donati channels the kind of prog fusion he’s become famous form. At times experimental, with extended drum-centric passages filled with odd time signatures, at times intensely groovy, channeling more of a Steve Vai/rock n’ roll kind of vibes, and at times even leaning towards heavier stuff, Ruination is, at all times, incredibly interesting.
The secret lies in humility; Donati is not here simply to show off his (admittedly considerable) drumming chops. He’s also a talented composer who’s not afraid to let other instruments shine when the music calls for it. On “The Last Night That I Lived” for example, the lead single from the album, keys, bass, and guitars all get their day in the sun. But the secret is not just in letting the instruments run free but also in restraining them where needed. This kind of restraint enables Donati to make sure that his music doesn’t suffer from the self-indulgence and saccharine extravagance that so often infects the prog fusion genre.
So, the end result is an intensely enjoyable but also technical album which weaves the non-metal, jazz, based influences incredibly well into the heavier rock n’ roll influences. This makes Ruination appreciable on the rational level, focused on the intricacy and talent on display, but also on the guttural, groove based level.