Unmetal Monday // 4/6/2020

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 s 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:

Yves Tumor Heaven to a Tortured Mind

There is no one on planet making music like Yves Tumor. Helmed by artistic firebrand Sean Bowie, whom has grown and refined an incredibly unique sound with each new record with all the flagrant and flamboyant energy of Prince or David Bowie, the project has quickly ascended to elite status within the indie music world. 2018’s Safe In the Hands of Love felt anything but safe, jumping boldly through hoop after ethereal hoop and culminating in a record that easily made my top 10 on the year. Their psychedelic, often ambient and deeply atmospheric sound takes a jarring, funk-filled left turn in fourth full-length Heaven to a Tortured Mind. But for those who may be worried about a stylistic change after the masterpiece that was Safe, fear not. Heaven is every bit as bold as its predecessor, albeit in altogether new ways. 

If Tame Impala’s The Slow Rush left you feeling more empty than usual, Heaven is a perfect balm for your disappointed soul. This record is absolutely bursting with funkadelic and danceable beats, jangling guitar solos, and a more straightforward melodic presence that is without question their most accessible work to date. Opener “Gospel for a New Century” kicks off with a skittering, chopped up beat that spins in and out of consciousness in a manner not unfamiliar to those who have been exposed to Yves Tumor’s previous work. But the bombastic brass and clear bass work, raised high in the mix, adds a hefty dose of hip-shaking groove to the process that ends up becoming a centerpiece for the record at large. It’s a thrilling statement of intent, and if you’re into this track the remainder of the album will please you greatly. “Kerosene!”, “Dream Palette”, and “Super Stars” are among the catchiest and most rewarding compositions of Bowie’s career, and there’s little here that won’t continue to please fans of the projects collected work. 

Heaven to a Torture Mind is one of the most enjoyable and thoroughly adventurous records I’ve heard this year, blending creativity and an intrepid sonic spirit into a record that is as initially accessible as it is worthy of careful, repeated listening. It’s a difficult balance to strike, which Yves Tumor have here perfected. A fantastic album by one of music’s most engaging and creative voices. 

Jonathan Adams

Purity Ring WOMB

No one quite sounds like Purity Ring. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of other great synth-pop duos out there who work in the same spaces as Purity Ring but they kind of work nearby, if that even makes sense. It’s hard to really nail down the qualities that make this true but I guess the secret lies in three things: first, the unmistakable timbre of the vocals. No one quite sounds like Megan James. Her voice is beguilingly innocent, in that its fantasy-like quality belies a depth of emotional expression and melancholy. It creates an enchantment, pure and simple: when it’s playing, it’s hard to pay attention to anything else.

Which makes Corin Roddick’s instrumental work even more impressive, since it still manages to be so interesting as to compete with James’s texture-heavy vocals. Working deftly with samples, electronic wizardry and enough lush tones to make any synthwave artist blush, Roddick achieves that most elusive accomplishment with his music, namely both amplifying James’s vocals while also making musical statements and expressing musical ideas of his own.

Probably what allows that is the last limb in Purity Ring’s triangle of success (gotta write that one down) and that’s the production. Whether it’s the added vocal effects on “Pink Lightning”, the rich drums throughout the album, or the firefly-like synths that hum across “rubyinsides”, Roddick’s production on this album (and elsewhere), is the glue which binds the magic together on WOMB. The result is Purity Ring’s most complex, layered, and undeniably addictive album. It takes their already successful formula and elevates it into the mystical; you don’t exactly know why and how it’s so good but something about how everything comes together, just is.

Eden Kupermintz

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