Matthew James and the Rust Belt Union “Impromptu Musicals for the Skeptic” Review + Album Stream…

MATTHEW JAMES
AND THE
RUST BELT UNION

Impromptu Musicals For The Skeptic – Vinyl // DD

Sump Pump Records – released September 14, 2017

Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr

 

Formed:
January 11, 2016

Hometown:
Rust Belt, USA (roughly in a garage, somewhere on the east side of Des Moines, IA)

Genre:
self-described ‘Midwest Junk Soul’

Band Members:
Wrex – Drums.
Larry – Upright Bass
Nathan – Pedal Steel
Brad – Guitar
Matthew – Acoustic / vocal.

Previous Release:
“Live From The Loft” (2016)

 

 

Review:
When I hear the term ‘rust-belt’, I am immediately in mind of that region of the country that begins in western New York and traverses west through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, ending in northern Illinois, eastern Iowa, and southeastern Wisconsin. Previously known as the industrial heartland of America, Industry has been declining in this region since the mid-20th century, leading to the unofficial labeling as the ‘Rust Belt’.

Including Detroit MI in it’s ‘snare’ that has served as home for Matthew,  a singer songwriter originally hailing from the ‘dirty mitten’, aka Michigan. He has been howling in microphones since 2000 and recording hand made lo-fi junk since 2006 with the formation of The Back Home in Michigan Band. He spent a few years touring with Rickett Pass, rambling around the country before settling in Des Moines Iowa. This album is singer Matthew James’ story of moving to Des Moines from his home of Detroit for a girl and leaving everything behind including music with his nationally touring string bands. The single “Goodbye” was written on that drive as heard in the lyrics. Matthew James & The Rust Belt Union refer to their brand of music as ‘Midwest Junk Soul’ and that description could not be more accurate.

Ten tracks that clock in at around 44 minutes.  Musically, what we are presented with here is a collection of compositions that fly up and down the proverbial scale of ‘type’ where we get everything from the elements of folk, gypsy, jazz, be-bop, country, bluegrass, blues, swing and rock to deliver what can only be described as a hybrid that could be described only as Midwest-junk-soul as they have aptly classified themselves.

Band Pic

Filled from the get-go, opener ‘Goodbye’ has each element described above in full force from the raspy vocals flavored with battery-acid, jangly acoustic in tow, great swing beat setting the pace as a soulful wail of lap-steel flows in and out of focus giving the body of this, and each track here a flavor typically kept in the background. Much as Primus brought ‘eh bass guitar to a new level having it out from the shadows, MJ&TRBU have brought this obscure-to-rock instrument to the forefront as well and it is amazing!!

‘Little Light In The Big Rust’ opens with a surf-slide tone over that acoustic guitar and slams right into the body of a song that makes you move!  Like it or not as the beat is infectiously hypnotic and keeps you in hold as Matthew sings of a “child crying and a mother trying” on top of a band that is as tight as any and doesn’t drop a note among the slyly-placed time shifts keep you wanting more. ‘Enthusiastic Apathetic’ opens with a slower, bluesy cadence as MJ’s vocal paints his picture over the band behind him and this pace fits this oratory like a glove, where ‘Left Foot Fail’ is country to the core complete with an upbeat ‘two-step’ rhythm line that pulls your boots to tap at the least along in response.

Shifting gears again with ‘Dying Dogs In South Carolina’, we are given another diatribe of wondering ‘why’, and when ‘Holidays’ kicks in with it’s faster upbeat tempo, it is right on time and lifts the mood again, even as Matthew slides forth with what must be an introspective perspective of what I can only guess to be a typical holiday for as he states that he said “We’re all going to Hell”…

Band Pic 2

The final four tracks represent what I would hope would a block of songs played in this particular order and could very well be the perfect ‘end-piece’ for their live set. From the soft acoustic opening of ‘600 Miles’ with it’s “Cold-moon sinking” into the ‘So broke” exclamation of ‘Tough’ through the advice of ‘It’s The Kind Of Place’ that could very well be describing a day in the life and by the time closing track ‘And We Went Drinking With Ed Love!’ hits, it is the perfect wrap-up of one HELL of a story an I found myself hitting play again after the frenetic ending section to savor it all again.

If you are looking for something that is meaty and satisfying at the same time, cured with the purity of music for the sake of music and masterful storytelling hidden behind a vocal style that will make you listen harder to catch each word, THIS is the record for you. Support them live if they come to a garage / tavern / library / or any other venue near you, play it to death for everyone you know and keep it LOUD!!

Band Logo


Traffic Death “Dead End” Album Review + Stream…

TRAFFIC DEATH

Dead End – Vinyl // Digital Download

Sump Pump Records – Released – Dec 10, 2017

Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt

Line Up:
Nate “Fetus” Phillips – Vocals
Andrew Smeltzer – Bass
Brian Greenfield – Drums
Garan Drozd – Guitars

Review:
Traffic Death is certainly an interesting band name. I figured I’d dig into this bad boy while I was stuck in the passenger seat of a large suburban-type vehicle on a long road trip as I tilted my seat back for a nap. Don’t let my nap fool you, this album is heavy as fuck – I just happen to sleep incredibly well with loud abrasive music in my ears. What I can’t sleep through is shit music. It wasn’t long before I nodded off and found myself in a very non-vanilla sex dream about Miley Cyrus that unfortunately ended too soon. Whether Traffic Death’s lullabies inspired my sweet images of leather and chains and Miley, I can’t say.

So now that I’m fully awake I’m giving Dead End a more serious listen. Traffic Death describe themselves as a “high speed, violent crossover 4 piece”. I see no reason to re-invent the wheel here as they’ve nailed their sound in six words though I will elaborate later. Near as I can tell, Dead End is their 3rd exclusive release but they also have a split release with The Lurking Corpses… whoever they are (I’m going to check them out for sure).

Dead End starts out with “Spontaneous Decomposition/Nothing to See Here” which reminds me a lot of M.O.D. and Billy Milano. I hear aggressive, thrashy, unapologetic hardcore with a touch of dark humor. However, it’s not long into this ingeniously titled tune before it steps up a notch, both musically and with the vocals leaving my comparison behind moving to a more Converge-cult sound.

Promo Shot

“Mandatory Sentence” opens with some seriously fun speed metal guitar work from Garan Drozd that I just was not expecting after hearing its predecessor. What comes next, though, caught me completely off guard. Nate Phillips rips a speed metal scream reminiscent of early Tom Araya. The rest of the track goes somewhere else but the change in direction is completely fluid.

I’m not going to track-by-track this album because the rest of it is more of the same. Clever and darkly comedic song titles perhaps over-use the “/” to translate multiple concepts. There’s a merge of, or shift into and out of, several styles. It seems to be random but if you go onto the band’s (hyperlinked) Facebook about page and read their influences and you know even half the bands, it all makes perfect sense.

My biggest complaint about Dead End is the fact that it’s only 24 minutes long. So even in waking, Dead End is a would-be wet dream cut entirely too short.

Additional Links:
https://sumppumprecords.bandcamp.com/album/dead-end

https://www.facebook.com/TrafficDeath/

Trafficdeath.bandcamp.com

 

Band Logo

Bell Witch “Mirror Reaper” Album Review + Stream…

Bell Witch

Mirror Reaper – Double CD // DD

Profound Lore Records – released October 20, 2017

Reviewed by Terry “The Ancient One” Cuyler

Hello everyone this is  The Ancient One and I want to tell you about a new album I came across just recently called Mirror Reaper by the Seattle based duo BELL WITCH. Founded in 2010 by Drummer/Vocalist Adrian Guerra and Bassist/Vocalist Dylan Desmond, BELL WITCH nearly came to an end. Unable to continue due to his struggle with alcohol and meet  contractual obligations, Dylan Desmond had to make the heartbreaking decision to release founding member Adrian Guerra and replace him with Jesse Shreibman, of the grind-core band Transient.  The two of them had been trying to keep the duo together in its original incarnation but were unable to do so because of Guerra‘s increasing addiction.  Alcoholism is motherfucker of a disease, with a mind of its own. On May 17, 2016, Adrian Guerra passed away in his sleep from heart failure while Mirror Reaper was being recorded.

For those unfamiliar with Bell Witch, the Duo occupies a special place in the metal scene as they rely on nothing more than bass, drums, and vocals to create their haunting funeral doom sound. The best way I am able to describe what they do is to imagine having nothing but black paint and a goal of painting a picture leaving no part of the canvas untouched by the paint forcing the artist to rely on texture to create the negative and positive spaces that make up an image. While many musicians can do this with sound to a point, BELL WITCH’s Dylan Desmond and  Jesse Shreibman have taken it to the next level on there 83 minute single track album Mirror Reaper.

Band Pic

As with past albums BELL WITCH’s Mirror Reaper is a continuation of that which is ghostly. After reading an article about the new Bell Witch album in which Dylan Desmond explained that the track’s theme is about mortality and the experience of dying. Some may want to call this ambient and I suppose you could if you sat down reading a book and used it for background noise. But if you actively listen you will find it easy to picture in your head what is going on for the person on their deathbed.

With a steady mournful riff by Dylan Desmond and slow purposeful beats by  Jesse Shreibman, they sound like a mourner crying and the dying person’s fading heartbeat. When I got to the part were of the song in which Jesse Shreibman stops drumming I found it easy to envision those last moments after the heart stops as I listened to the soft crooning and the soft ghostly bass. Listening to this sort of messed me up as it reminded me of being in the room as my own father died.  While I am certain this album started out being an exercise in thought, I believe  Adrian Guerra’s death made the album a reality for  Dylan Desmond and  Jesse Shreibman that affected the end result leaving BELL WITCH fans with a monolithic masterpiece!

From BELL Witch’s Bandcamp page
“During the writing process we were devastated by the loss of our dear friend and former drummer, Adrian Guerra. In love and respect to his memory, we reserved an important yet brief section in the song for him that features unused vocal tracks from our last album. This specific movement serves as a conceptual turn in the piece, or point of reflection. We believe he would be proud of it as well.” Adrian Guerra (R.I.P.)


Sons of Apollo “Psychotic Symphony” Album Review + Music Videos

Sons of Apollo

Psychotic Symphony – Vinyl // CD // DD

Inside Out Music – Released: October 20, 2017

Reviewed by Eric Layhe

 

Tracklist:
God of the Sun (11:12)
Coming Home (4:23)
Signs of the Time (6:43)
Labyrinth (9:23)
Alive (5:06)
Lost in Oblivion (4:28)
Figaro’s Whore (1:04)
Divine Addiction (4:42)
Opus Maximus (10:39)

American Rock Supergroup featuring:
Mike Portnoy – Drums
Derek Sherinian – Keyboards
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal – Guitar
Billy Sheehan – Bass
Jeff Scott Soto – Vocal

 

Pro Band Pic

 

Former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy is a man with many hats. Granted, most of those hats are as a drummer, he has many hats nonetheless. His latest project, yet another Progressive Metal Supergroup called the Sons of Apollo, may actually be his strongest. Sons of Apollo, comprised of Portnoy, fellow Ex-Dream Theater bandmate Derek Sherinian on Keyboards, former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, Mr. Big Bassist Billy Sheehan, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra vocalist Jeff Scott Soto.

Psychotic Symphony is essentially exactly what you would expect from a Portnoy excursion – it’s essentially a Dream Theater album with a harder edge. That’s not a bad thing, however. As long as you like this very distinct and often-imitated sound, you will be very pleased with this album. Solos galore, plenty of irregular time signatures, and top-notch musicianship abound.

As a slightly lesser-known name in the music business, one would expect Jeff Scott Soto to be something of a weak link in the band, but that is simply not true. Soto has a very muscular baritone that does the music plenty of justice and he is a welcome addition to the band. During the Sons of Apollo’s formative year, they sampled quite a few vocalists, such as Strapping Young Lad Virtuoso Devin Townsend and King’s X wailer Doug Pinnick, and Soto just happened to be the one to stick around.

The Production on this album is notable, being performed by band members Portnoy and Sherinian. The mix is very, very bassy, with a lot of priority being given to lower tones over higher ones. The bass is very audible and few keyboard lines go to very high pitches. Even the guitar is tuned as a baritone guitar, all the way down to B Standard tuning for any guitar players reading this. This grants the entire album significant edge and weight, allowing for a heavy groove in nearly every song. However, such a priority on lower sounds can occasionally result in the songs sounding muddled, especially in faster songs like the blistering “Lost in Oblivion”.

As usual with Progressive Metal, the longer tracks are easily the highlight — in this case, “God of the Sun” and the Instrumental “Opus Maximus”, but this whole album is a recommended listen for any and all fans of Progressive Metal. If musical self-indulgence and sheer showcases of talent is a turnoff for you, then this probably earns a skip, but if those things instead pique your interest, then you’ve probably already bought this album. Otherwise, go pick up Sons of Apollo’s “Psychotic Symphony”.


Hobo Magic “The World Today” Album Review + Stream…

Hobo Magic

The World Today – Limited Vinyl // CD // DD

Desert Highways – Released: September 14, 2017

Reviewed by Zachary “+Norway+” Turner

 

Lineup:
Connor Mitchell – Guitar/Vocals
Jake ‘Greasy’ Bennett – Bass Guitar
Carter Veltmeyer – Drums / Percussion

Previous Releases:
2013:  Single –  Tides of the Astral Sea
2014: full length Self-Titled album Hobo Magic.

Tracklist:
Follow The Holy Riff 06:44
Hobo Magic 06:48
The Poet 04:32
The World Today 06:28
Frostbite 07:40
Lady Of The Groove 09:27

 

 

Review:

Hobo Magic are Stoner Rock band from Noosa, Australia.

But classifying them as just stoner wouldn’t give you a true description of what you are going to hear.  The band use their influences of Black Sabbath, Blues, some Jazz rhythms and at some points even Metal.

Track-By-Track Breakdown:

This whole album is very similar and in the sonic universe of Sabbath’s Paranoid and Master of Reality era. As you listen along you will hear it too. They stay very much in the time period and sounds that can be produced in that time.

Pro Band Pic

Follow The Holy Riff
Which should be subtitled “Children of the Groove”, is a groovy tune. Most of the song is spent on keeping an almost sludgy repeating riff (which might be the holy riff) with breaks in between of a melodic reverbed guitar and great slow solo. The time scale shifts continually but they never sound like they are interrupting the flow of the jam.

Hobo Magic
This song is less “intense” than the last. It starts of sludgy but slowly picks up pace and becomes faster. It isn’t a heavy but still has a repeating riff and it revs up and up until the ending much like the guitar began at the start of the song. After 1:50 the jamming starts now that the almost warm up sounding beginning.

The Poet
The Poet starts off very strangely in contrast to the previous two songs; there is no distortion. This song is more of a melancholy tune, there is just a slow revered riff with slow and vocals that are a little distorted making the song feel cold.

 

Limited Wax

 

The World Today
The title track is a shift from the previous and is back to the norm that the first two tracks set us up for. It is also the most Sabbath sounding sound, the shouted high(er) pitched vocals, more of a jam song with little bits of vocals. Ask a simple question… About the world today. This track straight rips!!

Frostbite
This song is more like the first one; the tempo/timescale change quite a bit, and is a repeated bit with subtle changes. It even has moments that sound close to The Poet. The vocals are processed in a similar way. The song is almost eight minutes and feels like it. Kind of slow, like frostbite.

Lady Of The Groove (Favorite)
This song is a LOT like “Children of the Grave” (I’m pretty sure they meant it to as well.) The song also works as a way to remind and wrap up all the previous motifs that were in the past few songs. This is a great way to wrap up the album for just that reason.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————

In a way they are like a band named Magma. Hobo Magic are sticking to the mythos that they have created; all about the groove, the story of the lady finding and jamming to the groove, even their Facebook is curated in a way to complement the mythos just look at their About Us page.

Like I mentioned before, Hobo Magic are descendants from that 1970-1 period of Black Sabbath and they work really well in changing it into their own thing, different riffs, story, and singing. If you are a fan of Sabbath‘s 2nd and 3rd albums then you will definitely DIG this album.

Funny Band Pic

Stream the album on Spotify or Bandcamp.

Buy and download from Bandcamp HERE.

Extra Links:
https://open.spotify.com/album/6EbXoNDAnLI7GYepgfUNqn

https://hobomagic.bandcamp.com/album/the-world-today

https://www.facebook.com/pg/hobomagicband/about/?ref=page_internal

www.deserthighways.com

https://hobomagic.bandcamp.com/track/tides-of-the-astral-sea

https://hobomagic.bandcamp.com/album/hobo-magic


Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats “Vol. 1” Album Review + Music Video…

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats

VOL. 1 – Vinyl // CD // DD 

Rise Above Records – (Re-Release / Remastered) October 13, 2017

Reviewed by Terry “The Ancient One” Cuyler

 

Dancing in the Witches Garden

Hello Tasters today I’m gonna serve up some tasty music from a band called Uncle Acid & The deadbeats. Formed in Cambridge England in 2009 by Kevin Starrs, Uncle Acid & The deadbeats was originally: Mastermind & Frontman Kevin Starrs,  on vocals and guitars, Kat on Bass, and Red on Drums. While Uncle Acid & The deadbeats transformed from a power trio into a quartet after Kat and Red left. It was with then that  Uncle Acid & The deadbeats established it’s signature sound using elements of acid rock, British pop, and metal, with themes on occult, horror, drugs, murder and mayhem.

For those who are unfamiliar with them, until October this year a search on Amazon and iTunes would have only turned up  Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats’ 2nd, 3rd, and 4th albums on CD and MP3 . Though it would be released as a limited edition vinyl in 2014 The album Vol. 1 was initially used like a demo. Marketed directly to the fans on MySpace & YouTube with a limited release of 30 albums on CD-R Vol.1 helped the band purchase better recording equipment for their 2nd self produced and recorded album Blood Lust. Which after a limited release of 100 on CD-R was picked up by Rise Above Records in 2011 and re-released introducing Uncle Acid’s signature sound to a wider audience.

While I can find no fault with Uncle Acids decision to initially only release Vol. 1 on vinyl, it was on the pricey side. Those who wanted to listen to it had to seek it out on YouTube and burn a copy from a friends album if they didn’t want to buy it on vinyl.  Now that Vol. 1 has been reissued on CD, Vinyl, and MP3 fans can throw away and delete their bootleg copies and get the real deal. Although Blood Lust was the album that got myself and many other fans into  Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats it all started with Vol.1.

Band Logo

What I enjoyed most about Vol. 1 is knowing that although it had to be done on a limited budget, Uncle Acid & The deadbeats still managed to create an auditory work of art. Opening with “Crystal Spiders,” I was immediately sucked into the album and still find myself having to fight the urge to dance around like a hippie on LSD when I listen to Vol. 1 in public. I like all of the songs on Vol. 1 but some of the best are “Witches Garden” and “Lonely And Strange.” Both tracks are sort of has The Doors does metal feel with some creepy electric organ and the latter having some stellar electric and acoustic guitar work by Kevin Starrs that boarders on the divine.

Then once again we get to listen to that amazing electric guitar and electric organ in “Vampire Circus.” “Do What Your Love Tells You” the album’s 6th track has just got some gnarly fuzzed out psychedelic riffs. Closing the album out is the creepy song ‘Wind Up Toys.”  For those who intend to buy this album on vinyl if you get the band’s special edition it will include the bonus track of  Uncle Acid’s cover of the Kinks song “Wicked Annabella”.

Additional Links:
http://riseaboverecords.com/product/vol-1/

https://www.facebook.com/uncleacid/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyOgOmJXlljJqenteOXSboA

 

Album Lyrics

Crystal Spiders

 

I can feel two spiders in my mind

Tangled thoughts in webs they left behind.

I fill my head with misery and smoke.

There’s no use it seems they have awoke.

They crawl, they fall,

Those tiny crystal spiders in my mind.

 

I feel them tapping neat against my brain.

The sound alone at night drives me insane.

The blood runs through my ears and through my eyes.

Skull prison has broken from its ties.

They crawl, they fall,

Those tiny crystal spiders in my mind.

 I just wish they’d go,

Leave me alone.

 

Witches Garden

 

In the witch’s garden,

Plants are burning red.

Hear the witches chanting,

As they raise the dead.

 

Man is watching from forest trees.

Man is watching from forest trees.

 

In the witch’s coven,

Bells are tolling long.

See the spirits dancing,

To their master’s song.

 

Man is watching from forest trees.

Man is watching from forest trees.

 In the witch’s sermon,

Garland passed around.

In the burning circle,

As they hear the sound.

 Man is watching from forest trees.

Man is watching from forest trees.

 

Dead Eyes Of London

 

There was a ring of blind men

Sent by the reverend to kill

Wealthy old pigs feasting on swill

Inside the mouth of madness

The killer creeps into view

A shadow cast in torment

Coming for you

 

Dead Eyes of London – They’re watching you

Dead Eyes of London – Follow you home

Dead Eyes of London – They’re watching you

 

You’re never coming back, you’re never coming back

 

Down by the river

They found another man

Old fat and wealthy he fits the plan

The foggy streets are silent

The cobbled stones are slick

Blind flash of violence, you must be quick

 

Lonely And Strange

 

I look through the window to see world passing me by.

The Harvest sun setting, the smoke rises up through the sky.

The cold chill is creeping through cracks in the ceiling and floor.

Old branches we gathered and brown leaves to seal up the door.

 

We won’t ever change,

You know we just stay the same

I’m lonely and strange

 

Old October breeze as we walk through the trees to our home.

We’re stopped by a farmer, an old fashioned charmer alone.

We won’t ever change,

We just stay the same

I’m lonely and strange

 

Vampire Circus

 

On a winter’s cold and frosty morning she came

Eyes were glowing red to all that looked at them

What did she see, it was not me

And in her hand were coins of three

 

On her crooked back, the sack of crops she’d sewn

Beneath the harvest tree, she stood there all alone

And in her eyes, saw her disguise

An evil woman tell’s no lies

 

Here comes the Vampire Circus

Come taste warm blood from her kiss

Enter the death wall of mirrors

You’ll die in Vampire Circus

 

The woman passing steals from dead men’s eyes

The sickly village taken by surprise

What do they need, the count is freed

On little children they all feed

 

Here comes the Vampire Circus

Come taste warm blood from her kiss

Enter the death wall of mirrors

You’ll die in Vampire Circus

 

Do What Your Love Tells You

 

Up on the tallest mountain, there lives the highest priest

Above the bloodied fountains, below the godly feast

 

Do what you want to do, is what he said to me

Do what your love tells you, to do

 

He stopped the rain with his chanting, the villager looked to the sky

The white sun had appeared, the black clouds had gone by

 

Do what you want to do, is what he said to me

Do what your love tells you, to do

 

He raised his hand up in silence, the gathered crowd all stood still

He said he brings with him violence, just through his mind he could kill

 

Do what you want to do, is what he said to me

Do what your love tells you, to do

 

I Don’t Know

 

I don’t think anyone’s here, but I have no eyes.

Footsteps I follow are clear, they tell me no lies.

I don’t know what you know.

 

I don’t think anyone cares, they don’t come see me.

Left at the top of the stairs, they don’t believe me.

I don’t know what you know.

 

I feel the pain down my back, yeah.

Roll down the stairs to attack, yeah.

My sharpened nails are so strong.

I wanted you oh for so long, yeah.

I plunge the knife in your neck, yeah.

I slip on the blood on a wreck, yeah.

 

I should have stayed home in the night.

Because killers don’t kill in the light, yeah.

 

Wind Up Toys

 

Left up alone in the attic with the crucified picture of Christ.

There was blood on his hands and a memory from those he enticed.

The wind up ballerina dances to a tune I’ve heard a thousand times.

But all I’ve got to keep me sane is her old chimes.

 

Now and then I’ll wind her up again.

I’ll push her hair. She likes it when I’m there.

My windup toys. Windup toys. Windup Toys

 

I’ve yet to see a day of sunlight. I guess they don’t want me around.

It’s just me and Jesus and a gentle playing sound.

Little drumming soldier drumming and a carousel that sings and glows.

When I’ll be set free nobody knows.

 

Now and then I’ll wind her up again.

I’ll push her hair. She likes it when I’m there.

Windup toys. Windup toys. Windup Toys

 

I’d like to go downstairs, but it seems nobody cares.

I’d like to see the blue sky and the clouds that pass on by.

I’m trapped within my cell with Jesus here as well.

But I hear that wood latch good. If I had a match I would.


Mother Mars “On Lunar Highlands” Album Review + Stream + Music Video…

Mother Mars

On Lunar Highlands – CD // DD

Pepper Shaker Records – Releases December 6, 2017

Reviewed by Eric Layhe

 

 

Lineup:
Frank Attard: Drums, percussion, Clavinet, synth, meandering chaos
Paul Attard: Guitars, bass, synth, banjo-mandolin, piano, organ, complications
Dave Schembri: Vocals, harmonica, mellow vibes
Matthew Slager: Lead guitar on ‘Never Fail’

Tracklist:
Wrecker’s Reunion Ball (5:00)
Lost Planet Airmen (4:34)
Bean Stalkin’ (0:28)
Thought It Best To Cut You Loose (5:33)
Soap Bar Pick-Up Joint (3:41)
The Stalwarts of Saltwort Castle (9:31)
The Working Mind of the Creator (3:44)
Woodhollow Green (12:55)
Bean Stalkin’ Again (0:56)
Never Fail (4:13)
Bigger Than Fear (5:44)
On Lunar Highlands (8:35)
The Heavy Hand Of The Destroyer (4:14)

 

 

Review:
Sludge Metal can go in any one of many directions, and one of the most interesting just may be the original: The variety of Sludge both invented and perfected by Black Sabbath. That particular brand of Sludge Metal is heavily Blues-influenced and totally unafraid to incorporate highly experimental elements like irregular time signatures, tempo changes, and long complicated instrumental sections in a manner that is almost progressive. This style of music has existed since the late 70s and one of its latest disciples is Australia’s Mother Mars, and they exemplify it fantastically in their newest release, On Lunar Highlands.

As a listener will easily pick up on while making their way through the album, Mother Mars makes no attempt to pigeonhole themselves. They open with some sludgey goodness on “Wrecker’s Reunion Ball”, but they weave their way through several different styles like early-era Queens of the Stone Age-style desert rock on “Lost Planet Airmen” Psychedelic Folk on several songs, most prevalent in the interlude “Bean Stalkin’” and its brother-in-arms “Bean Stalkin’ Again”, and expertly execute a song that sounds like a long-lost B-side from Black Sabbath’s Paranoid in album high point “The Stalwarts of Saltwort Castle” (stream below).

While Mother Mars is an extremely skilled band, they really show their true talent when their songs are heavier and longer. When Mother Mars give themselves room to breathe, their songs gain an organic energy that is nearly second to none, especially when they decide to allow themselves what is a particularly decadent instrumental section full of guitar solos, bass riffs, and plenty of interplay between the band’s members.

Additionally, there are only 3 members of Mother Mars, though you’d never guess it from listening to them. These Heavy Space Rockers are incredibly adept at filling a space with as much noise as it needs to sound full and heavy without making it sound unnecessarily chaotic. It is chaotic, to be fair, but as Mother Mars proves, chaos is not always directionless. As the band simulates what can only be described as the sonic equivalent of a Solar Storm, they always make sure to include a clearly understandable sense of direction, as the songs always make sense, as a band full of gentlemen this talented should. If you are interested in Bluesy, Spacey, Sonic-adventurous Sludge Metal, and you have 70 minutes to kill, look no further than Mother Mars’ “On Lunar Highlands”. It is skillful, it is eclectic, and most importantly: it is heavy.

Album Logo


Electric Orange “EOXXV” Double Album Review + Stream + Video…

Electric Orange

EOXXV – Triple Vinyl // Double CD // DD

Self Released – September 18, 2017

Reviewed by Eric Layhe

 

Electric Orange is:
Dirk Jan Müller
Tom Rückwald
Georg Monheim
Dirk Bittner

Tracklist:
CD #1
Continuum (22:59)
Under The Nun (16:01)
Gnosis (20:02)

CD #2
Misophonia IV (20:05)
Misophonia V (16:36)
Faint (22:01)
Residuum (16:51)

 

CD package

 

Review:
There’s an old adage that insists that patience is a virtue. Such a sentiment can seem laughable – after all, isn’t instant gratification almost always preferable? However, every now and then, that adage proves itself true: retaining one’s sanity whilst waiting in line at the secretary of state, not crumbling under the pressure of waiting to hear the results of a medical test, and most recently reaping the rewards of listening to an album like Electric Orange’s EOXXV.

 

 

Review:
If the above paragraph didn’t make it clear enough, EOXXV is a tough nut to crack! It is a 135-minute leviathan of relentless sonic experimentation, and such a beast could very easily prove insurmountable to the common listener. Many may find it meandering or even aimless, but those with a tremendous degree of musical patience will eventually come to a metaphorical clearing….one where everything opens up and even almost makes sense.

This is obviously not a very concise experience, but it is without question a fulfilling one. There is a point that one reaches when listening to this album at which the listener and the album achieve a sense of spiritual resonance and the listener enters a groove when you finally reach the point that you not only enjoy the music, but you are prepared to hear more: I reached this point during the gargantuan two-parter of “Misophonia IV” and “Misophonia V”.

It would be an out-and-out lie to say this release is for everyone though. I cannot recommend this album to listeners looking for an emotional experience – this is more an album of vibes and atmosphere than one of emotional release. This album simply doesn’t trifle very much in the realm of emotional release or scenarios one can relate to. That said, this is my experience.  You may have a completely different experience as this is the beauty of MUSIC…..Right??  With 25  years of blowing minds under their belt, Electric Orange once again serves up a platter of Sonic Sensations that transcend words.

Human nature seems foreign in the land of EOXXV. It is a totally alien experience, one that can’t be felt or heard anywhere else. To put it simply, if Michael Gira’s equally experimental work with Swans is the soundtrack to an indie horror film taking place in a cabin in the forest of the Pacific Northwest, than the catalog of Electric Orange is the soundtrack to a Science Fiction film taking place onboard an otherwise uninhabited space station, on which the only life forms are you and a hostile extraterrestrial.

It is expansive, yet isolated. You feel alone, yet somehow watched. Most importantly, you feel paranoid and perhaps even frightened, but you inexplicably want to continue. Maybe it’s out of curiosity, maybe it’s just longing for a sense of completion, but this bizarre and unique experience just begs to be finished, and you are more than happy to do so. Just make sure you are equipped with a preparedness to experience something new and plenty of patience.  Here’s to 25 years Electric Orange!!

Band Logo


Psy:Code “MØRKE” Album Review + Stream + 360degree Video…

Psy:Code

MØRKE – Vinyl // Digital Download

Independent – Released – July 29th, 2017

Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt

 

Lineup:
Schou/ Vocals
SteiN / Guitar
JezpR / Guitar
Dag / Bass
Gøtsche / Drums

 

 

Review:
Psy:Code is a Danish modern hardcore / deathcore act who recently signed to Pavement Entertainment. Mørke is their 3rd independent release that’s created a stir of interest just before their recent signing. According to their website, it’s been a dream of Psy:Code’s to go to America and play their music and between signing with an American label and the scene’s current fascination with deathcore and grind core, the timing couldn’t be better for Psy:Code to realize their aspirations.

Starting with the cover, I’m not exactly sure what they’re going for with this one. The plant and the head and the skull… no clue. I was hoping translating the album title would shed some light on this. Ironically, Mørke is Danish for darkness. I guess that’s where I’m going to stay on this one for now. Maybe one of my readers can explain it to me? I love symbolism when I’m smart enough to get the reference.

Musically, this album starts with some slow guitars, slightly off-tune guitars for a few seconds before going hard and heavy. Schou growl-screams his way through the album Anselmo-style; though there are some periodical clean backing vocals for effect. How original that is? Well… I’d tend to say not very.

Where I think Psy:Code is going to garner most of their fans is from the technical guitar work from SteiN and/or JezpR. To be honest, there’s not much indication who’s playing the lead here so it could be one or the other or both. While the capitalization seems random the song structure tends to be more technical and progressive. This is an area where my expertise is extremely limited, though I can say that the guitar has six strings… except when it doesn’t.

Pro Band Pic

Interestingly, to write and compose Mørke, Psy:Code recluded themselves to a cabin in the Swedish wilderness. If the story in their Riven video is truth, the plan was to make some awesome metal. Instead, they got drunk. I can’t say how many times this has happened to me. Not the part about the Swedish cabin or the part about making awesome metal… just the getting drunk part. Perhaps you can relate? Anyway, what came out doesn’t appear to be the work of drunken fools so I assume they were just kidding. That or I need to start writing shit down when I have a few beers in me. I can hardly operate a pen sober… so maybe not?

Lyrically speaking, I’m not sure what they’re singing. I scoured the internet for lyrics but the best I could find was a lyric video for Riven. They seem to like this song, as this is 2nd video I could find for it. Riven seems to be about being scarred by a vicious former lover or perhaps an over-bearing parent. I’m a little confused but the recurring line “I can’t receive”. I don’t know how this ties into the rest of the words.

In conclusion, Psy:Code is a hard hitting band and  Mørke is a hard hitting album that’s going to appeal to those who enjoy a more technical sound. I believe some will criticize it for lacking variety, which might be a legitimate concern for those who like me who can’t follow the progression. In this case, I think you either get it or you don’t. Check them out and see what you think.

Additional Links:
http://www.psycode.info/

https://psycode.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/psycodedk/

https://www.youtube.com/user/PsycodeDK


Ours “Mercy…Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy” Album Review + Videos…

In Case You Missed It Series: Episode 8

Ours

Mercy…Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy – CD // DD

American Recordings – released April 15, 2008

Reviewed by Zachary “+Norway+” Turner

 

Lineup for Mercy…Dancing…:
Jimmy Gnecco – Vocals, Electric Guitars, Bass, Drum outro, Percussion
Static – Space Guitar, Loops
Locke – Electric Guitar in instrumental, Piano, Keyboard
Anthony DeMarco – Piano
Michael Jerome – Drums, Percussion

Previous Releases:
1994 Demo “Sour”
2001 “Distorted Lullabies”
2002 “Precious”
2008 “Mercy…Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy”
2013 “Ballet the Boxer 1”
2017 ***upcoming “Spectacular Sight”

Tracklist:
“Mercy” 6:41
“The Worst Things Beautiful” 4:21
“Ran Away to Tell the World” 5:00
“Black” 4:51
“Moth” 4:34
“Murder” 5:35
“God Only Wants You” 4:23
“Live Again” 4:27
“Willing” 4:41
“Saint” 5:06
“Lost” 5:18
“Get Up” 4:50

                               Video of Title Track “Mercy”

 

The Band:  Ours is an Alternative Rock band from New Jersey.

Album Art:  “Ghost Girl” was made by James Gnecco IV.

Review:  In 2004, Ours relocated from New Jersey to Los Angeles to work with Producer / Engineer Rick Rubin. The resulting album, Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy was released on April 15, 2008.  If you are not familiar with Mr. Rubin, he is one of the most famous producers of modern music. He has produced music from genres like: Hip Hop, Rock, Heavy Metal and even Country.

Musically this album is very similar to the other music from the late 90’s and early 2000’s like heavy hitters like H.I.M., U2, Sixx A.M., and at some points have a Muse flair. Some more accurate (meaning more recent) comparisons are 10 years and Evans Blue. There is a heaviness in the music but not enough to change the genre from Rock to Metal.

800px-Jimmy_Gnecco_-_Rockwood_Music_Hall

This album is a family affair, in between the album art, the singing (track 12) and the lyrics themselves are focused on Jimmy’s family. It is also a heavy album because of the emotion that is delivered through the singing and with some string arrangements that are present, but not overpowering. Ours’ “Mercy…Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy” could be considered a sulky emo record; while it is a more downtempo album, it isn’t wallowing in its own sadness. It is just poppy enough to be played on the radio and even in some TV shows like NCIS and CSI.

While looking around for info on this album I found that there is hardly any reviews, so in turn, not much open love for it by “The Powers….”. This is a really solid album that (if you like any of the bands above) you should take a listen to. Ours mix their first two albums together perfectly; the great production that was used in their first album, and a rough (while still polished) vocals. The personal lyrics from all of the band’s releases are fueled by meaningful, personal and often times heavy in weight that only frontman Jimmy can deliver.

There isn’t a dull song in the album (and after 20 months) that shows how good Ours are as musicians, as well as arrangers. If I were to choose a favorite track, it would be the title track. It is one of the most powerful vocal performances by Jimmy Gnecco; along with “Live Again”. Give “Mercy…Dancing…” a listen as I cannot recommend

Stream, download, and buy the album HERE

Logo

Extra Links:
https://www.facebook.com/pg/oursmusic/about/?ref=page_internal

http://www.ours.net/ourspages/

https://www.discogs.com/artist/473602-Ours

https://www.amazon.com/Mercy-Dancing-Death-Imaginary-Enemy/dp/B00133KDWS

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dancing_for_the_Death_of_an_Imaginary_Enemy