The word “unearthing” means to dig up something hidden. “After dodging Nazis and snakes, archaeologists spent their time unearthing the Ark of the Covenant.” But perhaps the word should take on a new meaning, which is to “leave Earth.” As the name of the band suggests, Into Orbit want you to leave the planet on a journey. These guys want to unearth you with their recent release, Unearthing.
Mary Bell describe themselves as “Bikini Kill meets Dischord Records” as well as name checking Bratmobile and Sonic Youth. Though more obscure, the band could be best described as the Red Aunts plus 20 years. The big difference with Mary Bell is that while records from Bikini Kill and any number of Dischord acts practically ooze politics, Mary Bell dials up the attitude without being overtly feminist (or otherwise activist) in the way that Bikini Kill epitomized third wave feminism. There is an argument that the sheer act of being an all-female band is political unto itself, but over two decades removed from the riot grrrl movement, let’s hope the world is a better place and not do that anymore. Can we hope it no longer needs to be a “thing?” If you bring the rock, you bring the rock.
Ecstatic Vision’s Raw Rock Fury is a good-natured record that most people are gonna want to like. It’s hard not to smile when the first track, which is all of 17 seconds long, is called “Intro” and is pretty much a swooshing noise. A cursory listen reveals these guys know their Nuggets and have been in several garages, surely. The band has made a fun enough record, at least while it’s being played. In a way it may even be the perfect record for the U.S in 2017—all flash and no substance. Whether this was intentional… well, that’s highly doubtful, though some listeners may feel otherwise. If you’re wondering whether you will enjoy this record, look at the cover and you will know. Raw Rock Fury can be judged by its cover, presumably something the band is intrinsically aware of.
Change and progression have been requirements for respected rock bands (and art) for as long as there have been rock bands that want to be taken seriously. If you evaluate He Is Legend by this criteria only, they are one of the most successful bands of all time. Now He Is Legend are back with Few, their first album since Heavy Fruit in 2014.
With Our Arms To The Sun make a strong case for their longevity on their sophomore LP, Orenda. Where they’ll be heading is really anyone’s guess, but they certainly have the basic ingredients for some exploratory releases, even if the sign on the fencepost that gives directions is unreadable. Scratch your head and get on for the ride…or not.
The genre of technical death metal is tricky to do well. Oftentimes the songs are so densely arranged and executed that they are impenetrable and listeners may struggle for something—anything!—to latch onto. There are bands that do it well, and it’s probably time to start paying attention to Replacire, as they’re bringing some new perspectives and ideas to the genre. Their new album, Do Not Deviate, condenses some of the ideas from their debut, The Human Burden, into a heavily detailed monster. If listeners want a visual cue for what to expect, the bad ass cover art provides a perfect look. Robotic ferocity, Escher-esque labyrinths and the occasional mystical occult vibe--because, hey, why not? And, despite giving plenty for listeners to digest on early listens, this album practically screams that obsessive listens will reveal hidden layers and secrets.
Likely one of the most enjoyable albums of the year, The Mute Gods' Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth is brimming with melody from front to back, with outstanding keyboard arrangements and gorgeous bass licks. This album pays more direct tribute to 80s prog, an era that is maligned but provided some of the giants of the genre (Yes, Rush and Genesis) with some of their biggest hits and served to introduce the MTV generation to some of the most talented musicians on the planet. Tonally, Tardigrades is most like Yes’s 90125 and even has a sort of synthesized new age feel that marked the band’s collaboration with later soundtrack wunderkind Trevor Rabin.