Foo Fighters “Concrete and Gold” Album Review + Music Videos…

Foo Fighters

Concrete and Gold – Vinyl // CD // DD

Released By Some Big Label on September 15th, 2017

Reviewed by Andy “Dinger” Beresky

 

So….I’ve been asked to review the new Foo Fighters record.  Taste Nation owner Matthew Thomas prefaced our conversation around the possibility of this review happening by saying that he’d talked to another reviewer he’s friends with, and this particular guy had said that “it was actually pretty good.”

Okay – let’s just take a moment right here to talk about the significance of this statement.  What does it actually mean that in order for folks in our business to take a band seriously, we need to be told that the record is “actually good” in advance?  What does that say about Foo Fighters, and about the way we operate in the review business?

In full disclosure, I’ve never been a Foo Fighters fan.  Okay, there was this one song, on one album that they released in the early 2000’s that I actually enjoyed (the song was “Come Back” from the album One By One, thanks Googles!!), though that’s really about it. I actually bought the album, because someone told me that it was “actually good”, then I sold it because I never really listened to it more than a handful of times or appreciated it beyond that one song.  I can, however, appreciate Dave Grohl’s contributions to the canon of punk and rock n’ roll, obviously with Nirvana, though also with Scream.  And I recognize his contributions to our little scene itself: when he took over drumming duties on the third Queens Of The Stone Age album, and with his Probot record, which brought some of the biggest movers and shakers in the underground metal scene into the limelight by virtue of Grohl’s musical reputation.  And I believe that it’s Grohl’s reputation that has prompted the writing of this review – I may not be a Foo Fighters fan, though I recognize that in an industry filled with some real d-bags, he doesn’t seem like a total asshole.  He seems earnest and passionate, hell, even humble….well, as humble as a guy in his position can be.  Aside from that, I do want to recognize his contributions beyond Foo Fighters, and let’s face it – Foo Fighters are a mainstream alternative radio rock band with a huge following and fan base.

Pro Band Shot

Also, the album ACTUALLY is good, by mainstream alternative radio rock standards.  That’s what we’re really talking about in the underground when we say that a record of this stature is “good” – we’re saying that it has at least something that appeals to those whose tastes tend to either veer away from the mainstream, or who are perpetually in search of something beyond the mainstream.  We’re saying that it’s not run of the mill radio swill, and I’d be tempted to dismiss much of Foo Fighter’s catalog as that kind of fluff.  That’s not entirely the case this time around. In regards to reaching beyond the mainstream norms, Concrete And Gold delivers the goods, ironically by embracing the mainstream norms.

Bear in mind, I’m not 100% behind it.  Grohl’s grandiose statement that its a combination of Sgt. Peppers and Motorhead is patently absurd.  I’m not fully endorsing the Foo Fighters as the second coming, nor am I hailing this album as the one that’s going to “save rock and roll.”  There’s some critics who love to drop those kinds of statements; always have been.  I remember in the “alternative 90’s”, when Fig Dish released That’s What Love Songs Often Do.  Great album, you should pick it up if you like 90’s guitar driven alt rock.  It’s a beauty, eh.  I like it well enough, I still own my original CD copy and it’s gotten a lot of repeat plays over the years.  They managed to get a single on the radio that was pretty decent, though it didn’t make much of an over all impact.  My point is, I read this one review of the album in Spin Magazine or some other big name rag, that praised it with outrageous hyperbole and  bold prophesy, saying that in 10 years we’d be referencing Fig Dish as a household name, that we’d be comparing all other similar bands to them, and saying things like “oh another band that sounds just like Fig Dish.”

…………………………………………………

Obviously none of these things came to pass.  Granted, we’re talking about the post-Nirvana 90’s, where everyone in the industry was both eager and unable to recognize the “next big thing” in the wake of Nevermind’s surprising impact and legacy.  I’d like to think that we can all agree that the conditions in the music industry of the time were what made Nirvana’s meteoric rise from promising indie rockers to colossal megastars possible, and that those conditions are no more.  Everything about the music industry has changed, and things will never go back to how they were.  The other key ingredient in Nirvana’s success, that’s more nebulous and harder to define, was their ability to take all of the angst and alienation that our generation felt after the impact of the 1980’s, and channel that into an album that succinctly and directly addressed to how many of us were feeling.  That’s what gave “Smells Like Teen Spirit” it’s anthemic quality and lasting resonance – at the time it DID smell exactly like teen spirit.  Not the cheap, superficial spray that simply masked  what lies underneath: the lyrics, jagged power chords, dynamics, even the simply chorused solo that echoed the song’s main melody cut right through all the glitzy and glossed wool that had been perpetually pulled over our eyes during the 80’s.

I bring this all up because simply making an album that’s “actually good” isn’t going to have the same impact; it’s not going to magically save rock and roll from the vapid auto-tuned pop ditties and overproduced pop country that dominate the airwaves.  Lots of folks would love to see that, I get it.  Part of me would love to see that as well.  The stark reality is that it’s not 1992, and this isn’t Nevermind.  It’s Concrete and Gold, and much like that long-lost Fig Dish album, we’re not going to be saying “oh another band that’s trying to sound like Foo Fighters on Concrete and Gold” in 10 years.

Part of what makes this album actually good is its over-the-top production.  Instead of rebelling against the machine and recording a raw, stripped down rock album, as his prior outfit did with In Utero, Grohl opts for the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach.  It makes sense, since Foo Fighters have basically pumped out pop-rock since their inception.  This is as overproduced as anything that Taylor Swift has ever recorded.  That’s actually not a bad thing, as it makes an otherwise milk toast band sound pretty peaches and cream.   It’s got plenty of layers and nuance, little touches here and there that really make the album shimmer and shine.  Grohl and company have definitely made excellent use of their studio time and a veritable “who’s who” list of special guests (look them up), and I can appreciate the album solely on that level.

What really makes the record work better than prior Foo releases is that it feels more album oriented to me.  It showcases a chance to explore music within the context of a studio, rather than just to write a collection of hit songs.  Sure, there are obvious singles; I guess the second track (after a brief but bombastic intro track), “Run”, is the first single off the album.  It’s the obvious choice.  It’s upbeat and catchy with a huge, hook laden chorus followed by a crunchy, remotely heavy two note riff and harsh screams that will make those whose musical tastes gravitate towards modern rock radio pronounce “Wow!  Grohl’s got his edge back!!  He’s angry.”  Yeah, sure he does….it’s a pretty transparent ploy, and I’m sure it will be lauded and successful in its re-branding effort, thanks to sly marketing campaigns, plenty of PR, and the credulous naive, gullible, and downright disingenuous critics at more “respectable” music rags.

The rest of the album has its moments, its ups and downs.  “Make It Right” has a funky/fun guitar riff that’s akin to what Queens Of The Stone Age are doing.  “La Dee Da” also reminds me a bit of QOTSA, though Josh Homme and company are much quirkier in terms of songwriting and instrumentation.  “The Line” sounds like a classic Foo Fighters track, simple, non-offensive guitar driven rock, treated to the production standards of modern pop.  “Dirty Water” is similar, although it’s more subdued, like the kind of track a band would release as their third MTV video in the 90’s daze of Alternative Nation after their first two hard-hitting singles.  These songs, though unremarkable, are at least coherent – I’m not sure what Grohl was thinking with “The Sky Is a Neighborhood”. The composition and arrangement make about as much sense as the song title, and his attempts to write “political” lyrics are frankly embarrassingly disconnected from the zeitgeist.  His weak, equivocal words don’t capture any spirit of our current age, they simply smell like Axe body spray.  “Sunday Rain” is a fucking mess; the intro has some bluesy licks before the verse uses a reggae styled downbeat/offbeat and keyboard swirls underneath the overproduced vocals, which seem an attempt at Grohl sounding “soulful.”  Instead it’s pure cliche heaped upon cliche.

It’s actually the more somber, understated songs that I prefer.  “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)” sounds like a bar room ready drinking song, and although there’s much better music I’d prefer to have a beer to, it stands out as a stronger track, as does the title track, which finishes the album on a melancholy note, with drawn out passages of slow, longingly over-saturated guitars and moody vocals….

I don’t know folks.  Sure, this album is “actually good” in that it’s not totally boring and takes some unexpected turns, which I think is largely a product of the modern pop production combined with some actual ambition on Grohl’s part to push himself outside of the typical verse/chorus/verse format that’s par for the Foo Fighter course.  It’s also not going to have very much replay value for me, nor is it going to save rock and roll.  Plus, Taylor Swift’s last album was much better.


GoatWhore “Vengeful Ascension” Album Review + Stream..

GOATWHORE

Vengeful Ascension –Vinyl // Digital Download // CD

Metal Blade Records – Released – June 23 2017

Reviewed by Mike Hackenschmidt

 

Line Up:
Ben Falgoust/ Vocals
Sammy Duet / Guitars and Vocals
Zack Simmons / Drums
James Harvey / Studio Bass
Robert “TA” Coleman / Live Bass

Born:
December 20, 1996

Review:

GoatWhore: Just saying the name puts a smile on my face. Say it with me now: GoatWhore. Did you smile? If you didn’t I’m willing to guess you didn’t say it out loud. Maybe you’re on a bus or waiting for the doctor and afraid to be judged? Toughen up a little. PC culture would love to take our GoatWhore away. Are you going to sit back, stay silent and let them take our GoatWhore? Let me hear you! GOATWHORE!

Fuck that feels better! I sure got some dirty looks stopping through white bread America wearing my GoatWhore shirt on my way home from seeing them live at Full Terror Assault. (Check this shit out, best kept secret in American metal). Seeing GoatWhore live has been a treat each time. The energy is electric and these guys know this full well. In fact, according to their Facebook page when they recorded Vengeful Ascension, GoatWhore aspired to match the live experience as much as possible. Let me say, they 100% have the right idea. On one hand, it’s unfortunate that you simply can’t package up the energy of a GoatWhore concert so they’ll never reach this goal. On the other hand it’s fortunate you can’t simulate a GoatWhore concert because you’ll never be able to download it and that means you have to get off your ass and go see them. Each time I have, Ben Falgoust says roughly the same thing (paraphrased): “Get the album. Buy it from the merch booth, off Bandcamp or steal it off the internet BUT come out to a concert and support the band.” So just what are we stealing off the internet?

First the cover of Vengeful Ascension depicts what I believe to be their rendition of Lucifer, having fought his way back from the depths of hell and risen to the earth, clutching the sun and marking it with some sort of magic symbol. He appears to be sucking the energy out of it and into himself no doubt to power himself for impending battle. This imagery seems to hold true to the theme of the album. Straight from their Facebook page, the following is what they intended the album to be all about. I feel compelled to directly quote Falgoust, his words eloquent and clear:

“There’s that whole idea of Lucifer being the anti-hero. He’s cast out from this place in Heaven to the depths of nothing. He keeps trying to ascend to the top again but no matter what, there’s always this significant force trying to destroy him at any point and banish him back to Hell. If you look at it from an everyday aspect in life, it’s the idea of people, hitting the bottom of the barrel or you know, things just aren’t going right in life… emotion plays a huge part in how people react. Whether it’s based on love or hatred or sadness or whatever, there’s always an aspect of emotion that drives people to an extent. So the whole idea of a ‘Vengeful Ascension’ is built on being at the bottom, working your way to the top, and realizing along the way that there’s other facets to the journey aside from just pure retribution. Within negativity there can exist a positive angle as well.”

I would have needed to write a 10,000 word essay to convey this concept. And for this idea alone I would buy this album and use it as a theme to my rise.

live Shot

Musically speaking, Vengeful Ascension is very similar to what GoatWhore has been offering up for the past 17 years. They somehow manage to blend elements of several different sub-genres together in order to create their own unique sound. Wikipedia lists GoatWhore as “Blackened Death Metal”, whatever that means. GoatWhore’s Facebook page list them simply as “Metal”, which I feel is more accurate. Album to album, track to track we get emphasis on different sub-genres. Vengeful Ascension leans toward black more so than any.

Track 2, “Under the Flesh, Into the Soul” has elements of speed metal yet mysteriously sounds like something that might have come out of Dimmu Borgir’s playbook. This is one of my favorite tracks on this album and these jerks have not deviated from the practice of giving the most complicated titles to the earworms. Try yelling out “Under the Flesh, Into the Soul” between songs next time you see them live. As if to prove my point, “Mankind Will Have No Mercy” shows up later on the album again with that speed metal feel that I can’t get enough of. This one probably has the least blackness on the album.

They follow this up with the title track, “Vengeful Ascension”. Again, this track is heavy in the black metal but thankfully not without a slightly off-key melody. Later tracks, “Abandon Indoctrination” and “Those Who Denied God’s Will”, are structured very similarly. It allows the track to keep that black metal feel without being boring.

Pro Band P

Where the “Sun is Silent” is a slower paced track, thankfully the only one of its kind on Vengeful Ascension. I’ll admit my bias right now; I want to spend my live GoatWhore experience in the pit. I’m getting a bit old so one or two slow ones is a welcome breather. I really don’t have time for any more than that.

In summation, Vengeful Ascension is another great GoatWhore album. The band wants you to hear it and it sounds to me like they don’t really care how. The one caveat is that you go out to the shows. I think that’s a pretty fair deal. For those who just aren’t in the right geographical area or for those who aren’t in a financial position: Go back and review the Falgoust quote above and use it as motivation to bring yourself into a better position where you can afford to get out to a show or maybe plan that trip to the festival you’ve always been dreaming of… where you’re sure to see GoatWhore… and maybe pick up a shirt too.


Monster Magnet Monday “Mastermind” Limited Edition + Videos + Review…

Monster Magnet

Mastermind Limited Edition + 2 Bonus Tracks – Released October 25th, 2010

Napalm Records – Vinyl // CD // DD

Reviewed by Terry “The Ancient One” Cuyler

 

Space Rock Voodoo

In the years leading up to “Mastermind” “Monster Magnet” had transformed into a 5 member outfit with the addition of Phil Caivano on guitar to give the band a more dynamic range in sound. They also went from  Atpeek Music to A&M Records where they went Gold in the US with their 1998 album “Powertrip”,  moved to “SPV” then in 2009 signed with “Napalm Records” then released “Mastermind”  in 2010.  Lead guitarist Ed Mundell parted ways after 18 years with the band “to collaborate with other musicians and Producers”, forming The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic. Following their European tour replacing him was Garrett Sweeny.

monstermagnet band pic_Mastermind

For some a review of  Monster Magnets 8th album “Mastermind” might be kinda old hat. But for me and anyone else who has never listened to it, “Mastermind” is brand new. Having never heard it I chose to do this review just so I could have an excuse to listen to it when we came up with our nifty Monster Magnetic Monday Idea.

What came to my mind when I first listened to this is when it had been made Monster Magnet had been together for 20 years when most bands are lucky if they manage two albums. Like many bands that last that long they have managed to keep their core sound that makes them the band they are but change with the times. Unlike Superjudge and earlier albums “Mastermind” has a bluesy feel to it musically and lyrically with more mature subject matter. All in all a solid album. Some the songs I like most are ‘Bored with Sorcery’, ‘Gods and Punks,’ ‘Mastermind,’ ‘100 Million Miles,’ ‘Time Machine’ and ‘Ghost Story.’

Limited Edition Track Listing:

  1. “Hallucination Bomb” – 5:27
  2. “Bored with Sorcery” – 4:02
  3. “Dig That Hole” (Wyndorf, Phil Caivano) – 5:34
  4. “Gods and Punks” – 5:32
  5. “The Titan Who Cried Like a Baby” – 3:36
  6. “Mastermind” – 5:08
  7. “100 Million Miles” – 5:01
  8. “Perish in Fire” – 4:42
  9. “Time Machine” – 5:30
  10. “When the Planes Fall from the Sky” – 5:46
  11. “Ghost Story” – 5:20
  12. “All Outta Nothin'” – 4:29
  13. “Watch Me Fade” (Bonus Track) – 3:05
  14. “Fuzz Pig” (Bonus Track) – 3:13

Line Up for Mastermind:
Dave Wyndorf- Guitar, Vocals
Philip Caivano – Guitar
Ed Mundell-Guitar
Bob Pantella – Drums
Jim Baglino – Bass

For Fans of:  Fu Manchu, White Zombie, Masters of Reality, VAST, Queens of the Stone Age, Rob Zombie, Biohazard, Trouble, Danzig, Burning Brides


RIOT FEST 2017 Shares First Round Of Confirmed Acts Including QoTSA, Dead Cross, N.I.N., Wu-Tang Clan, GWAR, & More

The first round of confirmed artists has been revealed for this year’s Riot Fest 2017 which will take place in Douglas Park in Chicago, IL from September 15th-17th. Headlining acts this year include Nine Inch Nails (Friday), Queens Of The Stone Age (Saturday) and Jawbreaker (Sunday.) Here is who has joined the bill thus far:

Nine Inch Nails
Queens Of The Stone Age
Jawbreaker
New Order
Paramore
Prophets Of Rage
M.I.A.
Wu-Tang Clan
Mike D
(DJ set)
A Day To Remember
Gogol Bordello
Taking Back Sunday
Vic Mensa
Dirty Heads
TV On The Radio
Ministry
Dinosaur Jr.
New Found Glory
Fidlar
Bad Brains
Death From Above 1979
Action Bronson
Pennywise
Built To Spill
X
Peaches
The Lawrence Arms
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
The Orwells
Bayside
Say Anything
Mayday Parade
Streetlight Manifesto
Dead Cross
Minus The Bear
The Menzingers
Liars
Gwar
Buzzcocks
GBH
Real Friends
Hot Water Music
Shabazz Palaces
Andrew W.K.
Fishbone
The Story So Far
State Champs
Four Year Strong
Beach Slang
The Cribs
That Dog
Knuckle Puck
CHON
Slaves
The Hotelier
The Flatliners
Dessa
Saul Williams
Engine 88
Nothing More
Alice Bag
Tobacco
Sleep On It
Downtown Boys
The Smith Street Band
The Regrettes
Hdbeendope
Gazebos
Kitten Forever
Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue

An additional 25 artists will be revealed in the months to come. Tickets are available NOW via Ticketfly.


The MELVINS Announce Dual Album Release Via Ipecac In July

On July 7th, the legendary masters of mighty music, the Melvins, will issue the dual album ‘A Walk With Love And Death‘, via Ipecac Recordings. The double header finds the trio of Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover and Steve McDonald showcasing two distinct sides to the band’s music: First, with Death, a proper Melvins’ release and then secondly, with Love.  The latter release is the score to the Jesse Nieminen directed, self-produced short film also titled A Walk With Love And Death. A release date for the short has not been announced yet but a trailer can be seen below.

“This was a huge undertaking,” explained band ringleader Buzz Osborne. “All three things: the album, the soundtrack and the film are benchmarks for us.”

Drummer Dale Crover added, “A Walk With Love And Death is one giant, dark, moody, psychotic head trip! Not for the faint of heart. You’ll sleep with the lights on after listening.”

The albums, which include guests Joey Santiago (The Pixies), Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes/Crystal Fairy) and Anna Waronker (That Dog), were self-produced with engineer Toshi Kosai.

A North American tour is in the works for this summer with dates to be announced soon.

melvins awwl&d

A Walk With Love And Death tracklisting:

Love
“Aim High”
“Queen Powder Party”
“Street Level St. Paul”
“The Hidden Joice”
“Give It To Me”
“Chicken Butt”
“Eat Yourself Out”
“Scooba”
“Halfway To The Bakersfield Mall”
“Pacoima Normal”
“Park Head”
“T-Burg”
“Track Star”
“The Asshole Bastard”

Death
“Black Heath”
“Sober-delic (Acid Only)”
“Euthanasia”
“What’s Wrong With You”
“Edgar The Elephant”
“Christ Hammer”
“Flaming Creature”
“Cactus Party”
“Cardboro Negro”


New Album Review – Santo Rostro “The Healer”

SANTO ROSTRO

The Healer – Vinyl / CD / DD

Discos Macarras – released February 3, 2017

 

Coming at you from Jaen, Spain is this three-piece power-house consisting of Miguel Ortega – Guitar, vocals and percussion, C. Alejandro –  and Antonio Gámez – Bass and vocals.  The end result is really what matters and the results here are simply put, fucking STELLAR!!

SANTO ROSTRO, which translates in English to ‘Saint Face’, describe themselves as a mix of BLACK SABBATH and MASTODON, heavy on the splash of HIGH ON FIRE type power-riffs with a couple of twists each of jazz, blues and doom while garnished with several healthy drops of speed and aggro-chug guitar lines citing that all is “Done with care and much, much Savoir Faire.” Already in possession of a long live resume, this is their third album where they let loose with wide-open ballast and volume.

 

Santo Rostro Live Shot

 

Consisting of five tracks and clocking in at 37 minutes, this is by far the most cohesive collection of songs yet. As I listened, I was most impressed with just HOW heavy SANTO ROSTRO’s punch really is. From the opener ‘One Small Victory’ to the end of ‘Hylonome’, there is such consistency from one to the next that you barely notice one ending as the next begins and the flow is near flawless.

Each song here stands on its own with the strength of composition to the power of execution and together, there is no denying that they are ready to get their music out to the world!! Standout-track, in MY opinion is the title track ‘The Healer’ and at 10 minutes plus, it is not the longest but shines with the raging fury of the driving pace to the soloing that is completely balanced with the vocal delivery that commands your attention to get every syllable of this tale as it winds along, wrapping around your brain and not letting go.

 

Promo Pic

 

From everything I have found about SANTO ROSTRO, they tour endlessly and do not indicate that that will be changing anytime soon. Get this one ASAP and let’s get them to the US so we can witness this one in a live environment!!

Words by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr


New Album Review – Junius “Eternal Rituals For The Accretion Of Light”

Junius

Eternal Rituals For the Accretion of Light – Vinyl / CD / DD

Prosthetic Records – Release Date:  March 3rd 2017

 

I’ve most likely stated before that it’s impossible to hear every single album ever within the course of one’s lifetime.  If I haven’t put forth that less-than-bold proclamation prior, straight from my personal manifesto, I’m glad that we’re remedying the situation right now.  I feel it is a really pertinent point that comes up quite often in my mundane, so-called life.  All too frequently in conversation, someone mentions a song, album or artist, and it’s completely off my sonic sonar. The people in the conversation are taken aback that I’m not faintly familiar with that of which they so intimately speak.  Often even, something that’s been repeatedly suggested to me as an obscure, long-lost holy grail album or just something that I’m going to completely dig on with my wig on,  I’ve added it to the growing mental bucket list of cool shit to check out, and just never gotten around to following up.  Either way, this inevitably leads to confusion, disbelief, hostility, malevolence and outright violence in close conjunction with the aforementioned conversations: all things that I’d rather avoid if at all possible.

Believe it or not, this does directly relate to my so-called relationship with the band Junius.  I had never heard of them until quite recently.  I discovered them through a happy accident involving chlorine bleach and ammonia, among other household chemicals.  I have the bomb squad and the poison control center on speed dial for times like this when my MacGyver moments go horribly wrong.

Okay….none of that is true, but it would be a whole lot cooler if it were.

 

Music and Merch

 

I stumbled upon Junius when I was checking out the lineup for the Roadburn Festival a few years back, and gazing upon that glorious lineup, I noticed two things: that the bands were getting more and more diverse, and that I had never heard of a good many of them. Wait for it….because it’s impossible for me to hear every band in my lifetime.  For some odd reason, I had an immediate impulse to take some action right then and there.  I decided to investigate some of these bands.  Looking at the list, I picked Junius out of the crowd because it sounded like a cool name for a band, and I simply Googled them.  The Googles told me many things. Lo and behold, they’d been around since 2003, and they were from Boston, Massachusetts, where I often attended shows yet had never seen nor heard of them.  The Googles also told me that they apparently sounded like a cross between The Smiths and Neurosis, which sounded friggin’ cool enough to peak my interest and intrigue my eardrums.  I checked out their debut album, The Martyrdom Of A Catastrophist, and I was suitably blown away enough to immediately order it on shiny golden vinyl.  Thus began my love affair with Junius.  Indeed, there was much to love and adore: the moody yet romantic goth-inspired croonings of singer/guitarist Joseph E. Martinez, the heavy guitar riffs interlaced with pulsing keyboards and throbbing rhythms, just all the right elements that combine the gloomy aesthetic of post-punk with the forward thinking intellectualism of post-rock.

The next step in our relationship was obvious: I needed to check out their second full length, the beguilingly titled Reports From The Threshold of Death. It expanded upon the strengths of the debut and also showed more depth and diversity in songwriting and influence.  I was even further enamored, and took to bringing their various LP’s to bed with me, much to either the chagrin or delight of my other romantic partners.  Fast forward to January 2016, when Junius announced they were working on a third album, and I prepared myself for yet another stage of our ongoing tryst.  Now here we are on the eve of that album’s arrival, entitled Eternal Rituals For The Accretion Of Light.  I can confidently state that this is my favorite Junius album, and when the vinyl is available, I will certainly be indulging in more ways than one.

For me, this album is their high point of artistry: every song just oozes with vividly oppressive, looming darkness, yet never gets bogged down in tangible malice or mere nihilism because of the music’s over-arching transcendent themes, intensely introspective lyrics, and ever-present haunting melodic fancies.  From the opening synth swells and tribal drums to the final hypnotic reverberated chants, the album is just a tour de force trip through the dizzying depths of human emotion.  The moody, longing key shifts of the first track, “March Of The Samsara,” sounds like Hum on a serious and prolonged Joy Division bender with its constant layering and interplay of guitar and keyboard, while the second song, “Beyond The Pale Society” starts off with more frenetic rhythms and urgent textures before settling into a stoic new wave template and climaxing with a soaring, anthemic chorus.  The third song, “A Mass For Metaphysicians”, features lushly alluring croons leading eventually to more aggressive vocal shouts, and when these are combined with the constant barrage of down-tuned guitar chords, it’s heavily reminiscent of the Deftones’ finest alt-metal moments.

 

Pro Band Shot_2 Members

 

The fourth song, “Clean The Beast”, continues in the tradition of the last, and has the album’s most extreme vocals juxtaposed with clever octave guitar licks and slices of keyboard bliss.  “All That Is, Is Of The One” is a short ambient interlude that gives some breathing room before the arpeggiated introduction of “The Queen’s Constellation”, a clever and catchy synth part that thematically repeats itself throughout the course of the tune.  This song has quite a number of twists and turns, and it’s a highlight for me personally.  “Telepaths And Pyramids” is up next, a more sullen and subdued affair that places brilliantly layered keyboards and vocals at the forefront, and spaciously uses the guitars and rhythm section more for emphasis.  “Masquerade In Veils” is another high point, a shorter, mostly acoustic number with monotone goth rock vocals delivered in a gloomy baritone.  A more upbeat affair, “Heresy Of The Free Spirit” is the ninth track.  It’s a song that makes great usage of repetition, drilling particular melodies and vocal lines into the listener’s eager brain.  The closer, “Black Sarcophagus” is another of my favorite songs from the album.  It begins with a slow burning meditation of sound that builds with each passage, gradually peaking with an awesome crescendo of bleak guitar repetitions, drums, synthesizer drones and eerie chants.

This is a serious early contender for my album of the year.  I can really appreciate what this band is doing in terms of a sweeping, grandiose artistic vision; their reverent attention to detail is startling and inspiring.  Although they’re obviously drawing on elements and influences from past decades, Junius are ambitious and innovative.  This is a release well worth checking out in my opinion, as it’s not the run of the mill rock or metal coming out these days.  It’s an intelligent and forward thinking amalgam of diverse influence that brings vibrant color to even the darkest of pallets.  Perhaps there’s a very good reason for this. Rather than copying the styles of whatever heavy music trend is currently in vogue, then rushing to release albums and spending months on end touring, Junius have taken their time on crafting their unique sound and their albums, often first flushing out new ideas in the form of shorter EP’s, and they tour only sparsely.  I know that the conventional wisdom is that a band needs to release an album every two years and spend at least 300 days of one of those years touring to support said album if they want to be “successful.”  Sure, there are bands that do that, and I’m not trying to take anything away from them.  However, in my mind, there’s a big different between a successful band and a successful artist.

Reviewed by Andy “Ding TopUp” Beresky


Album Review – House Of Lightning – “Self Titled”

House Of Lightning – Self Titled

Self Released – Released:  December 1st 2016

 

 

First things first: let’s get Henry Wilson’s impressive resume out of the way, shall we?

Yes, he fronts House Of Lightning with his distinctive guitar and vocal stylings.  He’s drummed in legendary Florida sludge outfits Cavity and Floor, and this isn’t the first band that he’s fronted.  His previous project, Dove, put on one of the most impressive displays of live prowess that I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing.  They played on the floor at an arts space in Lowell Massachusetts, and they absolutely killed it, laying down a non-stop barrage of chunky stop-start riffs and aggressive rhythms, mixing the groove of stoner rock, the urgency and immediacy of hardcore, and topping it off with High On Fire’s undisputed desire to punish.  I will always remember that as one of the greatest live experiences of my brief and uneventful life, especially since it just came out of nowhere, these three guys playing in a relatively unknown band setting up and laying it down like their very lives depended on it, and in the process winning over a crowd that previously had very little exposure to them.  That’s how it’s done.  If you don’t have their solitary self titled release, I’d recommend at least checking it out, especially as it will give a bit of context to this review.  There are certain similarities between Dove and House Of Lightning, besides that they share a frontman, though House Of Lightning brings some rather distinctive influences and attitudes to the forefront.

 

Nuclear Image

 

I mentioned Dove’s penchant for hardcore punk, and that’s the obvious jumping off point.  Their songwriting was punctuated by stop-start rhythms, syncopation, and unexpected twists and turns in the song structures.  These are all things that are still incorporated to great effect with House Of Lightning, though there’s more of a focus on melody, particularly with the vocals.  While Dove utilized a lot of shouted and screamed vocals, all of the vocals on House Of Lightning’s second album are cleanly song, with a laid back delivery and lyrics focused on positivity, peace, and unity.  The vocals have a deliberate reggae vibe to them, as evidenced by their choice to end the liner notes of their debut record with “Thanks and praise to Jah.”  That factor combined with the rapid, thrash-inspired riffs lead me to point to The Bad Brains as the strongest and most consistent influence throughout.  Overall, the six songs on this album are even more melodic than on the debut, Lightbringer, though they’re also a bit more same-y.  There’s often not much distinguishing one song from the next, which they can get away with since the album runs just a hair over 36 minutes.  The one noticeable change of pace comes in the form of the fourth song, “Small Hours”; it’s a slower tune with guest vocals provided by Melissa Hope Friedman, who also contributes backing vocals on a couple tracks.

It’s also worth noting that House Of Lightning have added a bassist for this one – on their debut, Wilson used synthesized bass.  Fellow Floridian Eric Hernandez of the band Wrong now holds down the low end.  Drummer Rick Smith is also a new edition, hailing from the band Torche.  It seems like there’s a lot of cross-pollination going on within the Florida scene, as Jonathan Nunez, bassist for Torche, recorded this album, and it sounds terrific.  The guitars are big and beefy, yet they’ve got enough crunch to cut even when they’re chugging along at maximum velocity.  The drums are constantly in your face, and the bass has enough high end bite to accentuate some of the funkier melody lines going on underneath the mayhem.

 

Band Logo

 

I’m going to end this review by pointing out that House Of Lighning have chosen to finance and release this album by their lonesome rather than work with a label.  Self releasing is a bold move from a band whose resume sports such pedigree.  Their previous debut was released on Translation Loss Records, and I’m not sure what prompted their split with that label, or their decision to release this album themselves, when I’m sure another label would have jumped at the opportunity.  It’s a gutsy decision, though one that’s often pragmatic given our state of the music scene and economic makeup in this country.  By releasing a record themselves, artists cut out the label and directly reap the profits of their labors, though a label usually has more resources at their disposal in terms of promotion and distribution.  I bring this up because I personally think it’s important that bands put a lot of thought into their choices to work with like-minded labels when they record an album, or whether to self finance and self release their music.  Many younger bands put all of their cards into the same hat, hoping to get on the label of their dreams and sometimes subsequently taking deals that aren’t particularly in their best interests.  It’s good to see a bunch of veterans like House Of Lightning demonstrating that a truly independent release is still a viable option for any band.

Reviewed By Andy “Rama Llama Ding Dong” Beresky

 

 


Album Review – DOPELORD “Children Of The Haze”

DOPELORD

Children Of The Haze

Independent – released January 16, 2017

Warsaw Poland is where this bearded foursome hail from, bringing forth a 6-track masterpiece of doom/stoner metal with this, their third official release. Citing “old movies, 70’s music and magical herbs’ as their main influences, it makes sense that they ‘tune low and play slow’ as they follow their strict regimen of ‘smoking, rehearsing and touring.” If that is what it takes to get to this point, roll on gentlemen!!

 

Band in front of Amps

 

Opener ‘Navigator’ is the perfect start to this album with the lone guitar and enough slow-decay delay to carry you until the first rumble of ultra low bass and cymbals take over. For the next minute plus, you feel it creeping into your veins as your eyes close without resistance, waiting for that moment when you hear “Leaf burns to ashes, inhale the holy smoke…” and a grin takes over as you understand. ‘Skulls and Candles’ is even slower in tempo, and is suiting to the tale being told. Love the tone of the guitar solo that takes you to the end, perfectly faded in saturated delay.

‘Scum Priest’ shows the shared love for old movies with the inserted dialogue including “The evil is real, may God have mercy on us” and the crushing assault splits you between the eyes as DOPELORD has shown they love to do, this time with a fury glowing brighter than ever before. ‘Reptile Sun’ is another crusher with a faster pace than usual and you can’t help but to get moving in time.

Two of the tracks stood out to me as incredible and I couldn’t decide which was more of a favorite. ‘Dead Inside (I & II)’ is the quintessential stoner float-along song with their signature ‘low and slow’ pace that carries you to the edges of the picture of lyrics delivered to you with an open hand. When the second part of this tome hits, you are ready for the bass/guitar pummeling that is about to be delivered, feet hitting the ground running. The title track ‘Children Of The Haze’, is near perfection that almost broke my sternum it hit me so hard just HOW definitive this particular composition is of one of the finest moments from DOPELORD… so far. “Dancing madly” absolutely describes how my heartbeat shifted with the flow of this opus.

As the last note faded out, I was stunned at how impressed I was, having been drawn in completely and I am SO looking forward to DOPELORD bringing it live to our shores this year. GOTTA get this one if you don’t have it!!

Words by Ric “Sui-Syko” Dorr

 


Album Review – A Projection “Framework”

A Projection

Framework – Vinyl / CD / DD

Tapete Records – Released January 13th, 2017

 

I’d been telling Taste Nation brainchild Matthew Thomas that I needed some good new post-punk in my life.  Believe it or not, I don’t just sit around listening to stoner metal, doom, and all the old Black Sabbath albums all the time.  I actually have fairly eclectic tastes, and I start to feel pretty burned out listening to one genre of music all the time.  I beg and practically whine to be able to review someone who doesn’t list Kyuss or Sleep as influences, and eventually Matthew was kind enough to oblige.  Okay, maybe not initially, when he tricked me into reviewing another stoner metal band by telling me it was a post-punk band, but I’m willing to forgive him that little bait and switch tactic, because it was a good stoner album, and the next band that landed on my proverbial desk was Sweden’s A Projection.  Matthew basically asked me, “Is this post-punk enough for you yet??”  And I answered with a resounding YES, then proceeded to bombard his Facebook page with cute pictures of kittens as a show of gratitude, for which you’d think that he’d be far more appreciative.

 

Band Pic

 

From the opening bassline from first track, ‘Hands’, which creeps and crawls through the brain like some long-lost Joy Division outtake that’s just resurfaced circa 2017, you pretty much know what you’re getting into: frenetic, restless and infectious basslines, drumbeats that pulse with a steady, hypnotic monotony, cold baritone vocals delivering bleak lyrics and minimalistic melodies, soaring synthesizer parts, and guitars that toe the line between lush ambiance and abrasive angularity.  The second track, ‘Dark City’, follows suit quite nicely, with a catchy instrumental hook that’s reminiscent of the classic Joy Division tune, “24 Hours”, though A Projection definitely ups their early Cure influence on this one.  This tune for me represents the peak of what they can accomplish with the whole  Joy Division exchanging bloody kisses and  black roses with The Cure approach, so I think that it’s cool that they change things up by the third song, “Transition”.  The memorable line “No more singing on the dance floor” is reinforced with the more dance friendly beat and song structure, and it marks a turn towards the more upbeat, which continues on the next track “Sensible Ends”, with its curt vocal delivery and driving drum rhythms that eventually morph into a straight up four-to-the-floor dance beat.

The next track, ‘Scattered’, is where they really start to shake things up a bit.  A Projection utilizes a two chord major key progression that’s eerily reminiscent of the Modern English song “I’ll Melt With You.”  There’s also a really cool and quirky keyboard breakdown thrown into the middle before the vocals break out of the baritone range into more ecstatic octaves.  In case you think that they’re going soft on us, rest assured that the next song ‘I’m Not Here’ once again launches into  a dark and emotionally tortured dalliance, like Ian Curtis providing guest vocals for a Disintegration outtake.  This is followed by ‘No Light’, which is more in the same vein of the second song, “Dark City.”  Just read the above description of that track; it’s the same idea.

‘Next Time’ once again strays into pop territories, with a ridiculously infectious main hook initially introduced by the guitars and then driven home by the catchy chorus.  I swear that I’ve heard this hook in another prominent 80’s tune, though I can’t place it off the top of my head.  The ending of the song is great too, as it descends into this ranting style of vocals, like a goth-rock take on R.E.M.’s 

‘It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (I Feel Fine).’  The next song, ‘For Another Day’, once again reminds me of early Cure, which is fine and dandy. ‘Betrayal’ is next, and once again brings that major key melodic sense to the table, and the quicker tempo gives it an irresistible urgency.  ‘Hollow Eyes’ is slower and bleaker, with a more dissonant, eerie progression and some harsh triggered electronics in the background, along with a splendid descending keyboard line after the chorus.  ‘Breach’ is in the same realm as “Dark Cities”, right down to the main guitar part that reminds me of “24 Hours.”  The final track, ‘Listen To The Dark’ once again makes heavy use of electronics and effects – the drums and vocals are punctuated by heavy delay, which stretches out the otherwise sparse arrangement into a dark abstract soundscape that recalls some of The Soft Moon’s best work.  This would have been a goth anthem were it only released in 1983.

 

Framework_Album Cover

 

I’m sure that you know what you’re thinking right now – I started this review by saying that I was burned out only listening to bands that sound a lot like other bands, and yet here I am reviewing a band that by my own account, simply sounds a lot like other bands.  This is absolutely true; I’m guilty as charged.  A Projection aren’t bravely treading new ground, nor do they really attempt to do so.  This is an album made solely in the post-punk/goth/new wave tradition of the early 80’s.  I’m not going to lie to you or insult your intelligence  by saying that this album is the greatest thing since sliced bread and you must be living under a rock if you haven’t heard it.  It’s just a well written collection of thirteen songs that are executed, performed, and produced to accomplish a particular effect, namely to conjure the spirit of a bygone age of music past.  Right now, that’s simply scratching a particular itch that’s been nagging at my backside for the past couple weeks, plain and simple.  If this albums sounds like it scratches your particular itch as well, then I’d encourage you to check it out for yourself.  If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, and you’re looking to drink down something more in the mode of a 70’s rock throwback, the new Horisont album is most excellent in my humble opinion.

Reviewed by Andy “Darkwave Duck” Beresky