Grindhead Records has recently released another album. Not really grind, nor is it really doom... or any of the other genres normally mentioned on here. It is quite good though. Here's what Grindhead Records have to say:
Grindhead Records is privately inviting you to the celestial experience created by ethereal Mish on their debut album "The Entrance". Offering a combination of effortless tempo changes with a command of syncopation that ebb and flows while soaring, often sparse vocals weave complimentary ambient textures and an appreciation for building motifs, "The Entrance" is a diverse audio presentation.
Crunching, stop-start hammering guitars flow into minimal, hypnotic tones partnered with flowing and yet strong bass lines and a drum kit that commands time dynamically, pulling back the melancholy and pushing forth the rage. Ambient keyboards and samples complete the sculptured, temporal aural-scapes that are monumentally heavy on the groove, catchiness and melody.
For fans of Tool, Helmet, Isis, Cult Of Luna, Neurosis, Meshuggah, Karnivool.
Australian hardcore today seems to be a long way from the days of old Toe to Toe - or even the polished hardcore offerings of later-era Mindsnare. Today's scene is being shaped and driven by like In Trenches, Lo!, Totally Unicorn, Robotosaurus, The Rivalry (I miss you), Night Hag, No Anchor, IDYLLS, The Matador and At Dark. These bands are embracing experimentation, complex rhythms, noise, dissonance, dirging drone and ambience in a move away from the sterile 'one mood, one volume' sound of overcompressed modern hardcore - and this makes me exceedingly happy.
Melbourne's In Trenches really represent a lot of the best progressive elements in modern Australian hardcore. Their music has a basis in seething, noisy hardcore sludge with a slight black metal tinge and occasional departure into spacey post-metal meditation. They're forging a more dynamic and progressive style of heavy music that owe as much to bands like Isis, Cult of Luna, and Wolves in the Throne Room as they do Converge and Eyehategod.
Sol Obscura also represents a complete rejection of the sterile production of modern hardcore. There are no close-mic'd, beat-replaced drums to be found here, and the guitars are cold, squashed and over-compressed. Instead, In Trenches have opted for a far more organic approach, which allows for far more life, more feeling and more dynamics in the music. (Insert a recognition that recording/mixing was handled by a Joel Taylor at Three Phase Studios.)
If this is where hardcore music is moving - into more progressive and dynamic territory - then I can't wait to see how the style progresses. And it would seem that, once again, Australia is on the very cusp of a new development in underground music.
Do yourself a favour. Listen to In Trenches and support Australian underground music.
Nice one, Monolith.
Nigredo is the debut album from Adelaide-based sextet Bronze Chariot. The release also represents the latest of a slew of output from the ever-more-intriguing and diverse South Australian record label Capitalgames Records, who in recent past have featured albums from Coerce, Night Hag and God God Dammit Dammit.
We drop into Nigredo with a beautifully hushed introduction piece played on a lap steel. After this brief mood-setter we move straight into the title track; a driving, hypnotic dark folk/country piece which provides the perfect bedrock for vocalist Benjamin Cooper to bellow out his tale with a characteristic weathered, throaty voice.
From there we fall into Cant Win Em All - which holds a more sedate, melancholy tone, while the fourth Down at the Bar see the group move a little closer to a 'classic' country pub drinking song.
It is from Down at the Bar that Nigredo begins to meander; as if the band is unsure of where to take the listener. By the fifth track By The Crossing I can't help but feel lost.
If there was one criticism of Nigredo then this is it: the album feels not so much like a journey as a collection of songs of similar style. The album closer Horseshoe Bend acts a euphoric, building album-closer, but by then my attention has waned and the journey is already broken.
The musical foundation of Bronze Chariot is solid. Their style of dark, low-gain, folk/country tinged with sedated post-metal and doom provides a nice amalgamation of US Christmas, Earth, Nick Cave and Cult of Luna. However, by referencing these epic "post" bands, I expect to be taken on a fairly clear emotional journey -- at the very least with high and low points. However, the flow of the album doesn't support this journey; and the moods end up being just a little too similar to fulfill my expectation. The 'epic' aspect of the sound falls short.
Make no mistake, Nigredo is an interesting and worthy debut recording from Bronze Chariot. There are songs which most certainly stand out as highlights, and continue to stick in my head. The sound and style of the band is refreshing.
Nigredo is a good launching point for the group; and I look forward to hearing how they progress their style, their tales and their obvious passion for music further in the future. Worth checking out, but not one of the essential releases of the year.
Brisbane's post-metal outfit The Matador have released their new EP "Descent Into The Maelstrom" for free/name-your-price download.
The album itself is a collage of epic doom, haunting vocals, dark post-rock and meditative, reminiscent at times of Rosetta, Helm and Cult of Luna. It's immediately obvious that they guys spent a lot of time, effort and money on this release - it has been carefully produced. Like the guys say on their Bandcamp page - recording an album like this is not cheap, so if you dig it, please donate some money.
I've been spinning the album all morning and have been pretty bloody impressed. There are some really interesting and introspective sections - moments of beautiful post-rock fluttering, of dark, pummeling aggression and everything in-between. Infact - I might just write a review on it sometime soon.
Alright! Today is New Years Eve and I'm at fucking work. How sad is that? In any case it has given me a quick chance to do my Top 6 Albums of 2009. Why my Top 6? Well, because I got to the 6th album I had selected and then grew bored.
Don't get too hung up on ranks and the like. What this list is meant to do is hopefully pique your interest in some music you havent heard before - so you can go check it out.
Overall I wasn't very impressed with the grindcore offerings of 2009. We had new albums from Napalm Death, Magrudergrind, Brutal Truth and Flagitious Idiosyncrasy In The Dilapidation which were all reasonable, but hardly groundbreaking or worth of intense praise. I think I'm at the stage where I really need to hear something different in a band, rather than a rehash of old genre cliches. The Kill's new live album was pretty fucking cool, but really most of those songs were quite old.
I'm definitely struggling to find grindcore that meets any of this criteria (and if you have any suggestions I'd love to hear it!). As for metal - well I'm fairly disillusioned and above all TOTALLY FUCKING BORED of death metal and most extreme genres. They are all too static.
In any case, here are my favourite albums of 2009!
1. Mastodon - Crack the Skye: You read correctly. I have dug Mastodon since Remission; and loved the heavy, sludge-ridden style they demonstrated on their first 3 releases. When Mastodon changed their tune in Blood Mountain, I no longer found the major identifiable elements that had let me previously enjoy the band. The production was comparitively thin, the clean sung vocals seems quite poor and inadequate, and that unabated crushing heaviness that I had come to associate with the band was no where to be found.
Then came Crack the Skye. I can only assume this is the album the guys WISHED they made the first time around. It is a fucking masterpiece of catchy vocal hooks (albiet slightly over-produced and clearly run through many filters), complex King Crimson-esque progressive passages, absolutely blistering guitar leads and wonderfully constructed songs. While Mastodon are definitely a band who people either seem to love or hate (infact my old man recently told me that he thought their album was terrible and was 'as bad as the stadium rock bands you used to listen to when you were 16') I definitely stand in the love camp. This album is a masterpiece, and it's ability to retain memorability and accessability while still being an absolute progressive rape is what it's all about for me.
2. Zu - Carboniferous: Apparently Zu have made 14 records since 1999 - so why the fuck hadn't I heard of them before? I only got this album a few weeks back, but it is fucking amazing. This Italian trio (drums, baritone sax and bassist) pulls out massive Meshuggah-styled rotating polyrhythms - but somehow they make it fucking dancable and catchy. How can a trio with no guitar be as heavy as Meshuggah? How can a seemingly endless supply of awkwardly ear-pleasing opposing rhythms and syncopations be so fun? I have absolutely no idea - but hark, it is so.
This is an obscene mix of metal, jazz, punk, noise and more. A huge warm fuzzed-out bass fits perfectly with a prominent live drum kit sound and the heaviness of baritone sax. A mix of The Melvins, Meshuggah, Hella (pfft) and John Zorn. Totally fucking crushing. Get into it.
3. Helm - Keelhaul… Volume 1: Alright so this album was technically released in the last few weeks of 2008, but I don't care. Helm hail from Queensland, Australia and play music stylistically similar to Cult of Luna, Isis, Jakob, Mogwai and all the rest. Listening to this band it is abundantely clear that Helm are not another derivative Cult of Luna band - how could they be? The average age of the band members is far above that of the bands they are so often compared to. By pulling in such a wealth of exprience and knowledge of music, Helm have provided is a refreshingly unique take on a genre that so often falls victim to rehashed Isis-worship.
They take their vocal and guitar melodies far beyond that of the aforementioned, and the fact that they are Australian - and can replicate their intricate melodies and dynamic shifts live just makes things even better.
4. Brian Campeau - Mostly Winter Sometimes Spring: Brian Campeau is the first Sydney local in this list. Born in Canada, Brian eventually moved to Australia. He is an absolutely incredible singer songwriter, with a voice that I would not hesitate to call beautiful or angelic. His music brings to mind the works of Thom Yorke or Bjork; incredibly emotive and usually vocal-driven. His tunes are marked by a meloncholy which stands in stark contrast to his amazing voice.
Brian is also an incredibly talented studio engineer - and it shows. He has moved far beyond being 'just another acoustic guitarist singer/songwriter' and flourished into an extremely complete musician with an amazing ear for sound textures and soundscapes. Mostly Winter Sometimes Spring acts as a concept album and takes the listener through a range of emotional highs and lows - but it is the completeness of this journey which really struck me. The entire album retains an intense emotional power - you can literally feel songs like 'Denial', 'Anger', 'Throwing Blame', 'Depression', 'Reinventing Myself', 'Acceptance' and 'Thankyou'.
To surmise; here you have a man with a voice so beautiful it should be illegal. His acoustic guitar playing (though sparse on the album) is truly unique and creative, and unlike anything I have ever heard. He has a very strong knack for setting mood through production techiques and soundscapes; not to mention his voice and lyrics. This album also features a wide range of guest musicians to provide double pass, saxaphone, brushes and other various touches. The music is seemingly stripped back, but holds a very distilled emotional power. Needless to say, I am floored.
5. Propagandhi - Supporting Caste: This was my first official taste of Propagandhi - and now I can really see what all the fuss is about. Furious ideallic punk rock tunes played at a frantic pace, but supported by very strong musicianship and incredibly articulate and intelligent lyrics. Over the years these guys have moulded into an incredible tight-knit unit, and coupled with their obvious intelligence and talent for lyric writing this launches them up into one of the best albums of the year.
6. Heroin and Your Veins - Nausea: I've been dabbling around with groups who play atmospheric, dark and doomy jazz. Bohren & Der Club of Gore's Black Earth was my first taste of the genre. The down-tempo jazz/doom on that album is far, far more crushing than the majority of "doom metal" I have heard. From there came an obsession with The Necks, and a taste of more atmospheric and cinematic approach from The Kilimanjaro Dark Jazz Ensemble.
I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I listened to this album from Heroin and Your Veins - the band's name definitely sounded like it would be a generic doom/drone band, so I was delighted when what greeted my ears was a cinematic spin on dark atmospheric doom/jazz, painting extremely moody aural portraits that combines the dark jazz of Bohren & Der Club of Gore with the spaghetti-western Morricone-esque touches of later Earth albums.
And for the record the new Mars Volta was fucking TERRIBLE.