COUTOUX – A Hell on Earth

The first full-length album from COUTOUX (pronounced "KOO - too") comes to us care of KILL ALL MUSIC, a self-described "anti-label," which is fitting because to nail down exactly what COUTOUX should be labeled as would be akin to correctly identifying the true origins of some mutated abomination as it sludges it's way through the irradiated wastelands in a post-apocalyptic Earth. You may very well call it industrial metal, due to it's at times heavy hitting and seemingly unrelenting assault, but at other times it does relent a bit and eases quite quickly into an unnerving sound of atmospheric electronic doom metal by way of experimental dark synth. Perhaps we need to step back a bit and look at the prior analogy to some Godforsaken hellspawn and how it moves about because, in such a way, COUTOUX feels like it's own beast which can only be described as "sludge synth."

Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun

There's an undeniable joy in watching something that has been preparing to pounce for so long finally take the leap. Where there was once stillness in the air, there is now a sense of urgency and the feeling of excitement. We as listeners should be thankful that we are not the ones on the receiving end of this violent lunge. The hunter in this case is singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe, while the prey is the art she presents to the world. With her newest work, Hiss Spun, we not only see Chelsea in the moment of her victorious pounce, but we also have the great fortune of consuming her kill.

Hey! Listen to Skeleton Beach!

Hailing from Knoxville, Tennessee, the synthwave producer known as Skeleton Beach released his first album, Being There, in January of this year featuring his own unique blend of ambient darkwave. He has since followed it up with the Last Night Alive EP, which was released earlier this month, itself a sort of self-described "bridge" between his first album and the next which is currently in production. Although relatively new to the synth scene, Skeleton Beach has been making music since his early teens starting with the drums before moving on to guitar and eventually piano; all self-taught by just playing what "felt right." Therefore it comes as little surprise that he's been able to take to the synth genre so quickly, notably after being introduced to electronic music through Radiohead, Squarepusher, and Burial. Though what truly inspires the sounds of Skeleton Beach are the horror movie soundtracks of yesteryear, especially those by John Carpenter, and the heaviness of black metal, doom metal, and stoner metal with bands such as Sleep and Sunn O))) constantly in his listening rotation.

Hey! Listen to Gregorio Franco!

When one thinks about synthwave they more often than not conjure up images of neon landscapes made up of transparent grids, sunsets, beaches, palm trees, fast cars and anything else that may fit into such an aesthetic. That said, one does not tend to think about upside down crosses, demons, serial killers and an overall sense of evil in turn. However, for every genre that has ever existed there lies a much darker side, a subgenre which turns things on their head and produces a much more heavier sound in response. For synthwave that would be darkwave or darksynth, either seem to be interchangeable for the most part, with well-known acts such as Carpenter Brut, GosT, Perturbator, and Dance with the Dead carrying the torch. Of course, for every well-known act, there are those who are scratching, clawing and going through hell to be noticed, many of whom were influenced by those already leading that proverbial charge. Gregorio Franco is one of those dark souls of the synth and, if what he's produced thus far is any indication, he is not only one to keep an ear to the ground on but one to keep an eye out for as well.

Editors’ Picks: April 2017

Man, 2017, y'all. We realize that it's kind of our m.o. to be proponents of the whole "Golden Age of Metal" narrative and be incredibly positive about the consistently great level of stuff that is being put out from pretty much every part of the musical spectrum, but it's such an easy thing to do when we are so constantly bombarded with new material that utterly consumes our attention. Even in months where one of us might not have as many new albums that really impressed them, without doubt there will be another one who could barely keep up because of all the superb releases from genres they pay close attention to. This April has certainly been no different in that regard, and we have a whole slew of top-notch albums to recommend to you all.

Hey! Listen to netra!

From Ingrats’ opening jazzy piano and drum duo on “Gimme a break,” it’s apparent that one-man experimental black metal project netra is taking on the genre from a more sophisticated headspace than the torch-bearing, forest-wandering forefathers of the genre. It’s easy to connect the dots to more progressive-leaning artists like Ulver or Altar of Plagues, and to a lesser degree, Norway’s Shining, but those comparisons fall short of capturing netra’s homogenous blend of nostalgic blackened melodies with ambitious electronic leanings.