Band Line-up: Andy Lefton-Guitar (War // Plague)
Jon Misery-Guitar (Misery)
Tom Radio-Bass (Frustration)
James Adams- keyboards
Michel (Away) Langevin-Drums (Voivod)
Rob (The Baron) Miller-Bass and vocals (Amebix)
Isle of Skye
Having grown up with MTV from it’s inception, I find that if a band really wants me to buy their album, the spectacle of a good music video is sure to catch my attention. About 2 weeks ago while watching music videos on YouTube, I stumbled across the Video “Lazarus” from their 2015 self titled debut album “Tau Cross”. Impressed by the music and the Cinematography I quickly followed the links to their Relapse Record’s Bandcamp. It was there I discovered they had a new album called “Pillars of Fire” due out in a few days. In the mean time I purchased their first album and made a note in my head to return and buy “Pillars of Fire” especially after being blown away by the debut release.
I could probably write volumes about the members of Tau Cross but will refrain as it would turn into a novel. Vocalist & Bassist “Rob (The Baron) Miller (Amebix)”, drummer “Michel-Away- Langevin (Voivod)”, “Jon Misery (Misery)”, “Andy Lefton (War//Plague)” on guitars, and “Tom Radio (Frustration) ” also on bass bring a great deal of talent and creative energy from the punk and various metal sub genres they offer up. Which is why I suspect they refuse to box themselves into a specific genre. But fear not as the unspecified genres are for my punk and metalhead friends. Tau Cross brings a musical Smörgåsbord.
“Pillar Of Fire” is an album that shows Tau Cross has a second act. While listening I found myself engrossed by the songs. While Tau Cross do not sound like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden or Dio, the lyrics, vocals and instrumentation created the same musical spectacle that drew me to them as a teen. Some may try to compare Vocalist // Bassist Rob (The Baron) Miller for his raspy voice to Lemmy Kilminster of Motörhead. While he can sing with a harsh rasp, I discovered Rob has a vocal range that at times had me asking who’s the other guy singing. These are a few of my favorites from “Pillar of Fire” – ‘Raising Golem’ a song the Golem from Jewish folklore, ‘Bread And Circuses’ which speaks of the savagery Rome descended into. Then comes the tale of the horror of being lost at sea done like a good old fashioned sea shanty ‘On The Water.’ I could go on but I am including a link to the album on Bandcamp so you can listen and buy for yourself and “The Short Stories” the band masterfully forged through the lyrics the band kindly offers up (also on their BC Page). The end result is nothing short of Amazing. This should be in your music library yesterday!! Must Buy!!
TAU CROSS, the multinational punk/heavy metal collective featuring Amebix bassist/frontman Rob “The Baron” Miller, Voivod drummer Michel “Away” Langevin, and members of cult crust outfits Misery and War // Plague, has announced their second full-length album, Pillar Of Fire, due out July 21st on CD, Double LP, and digital formats via Relapse Records.
Comments TAU CROSS on the new album: “Pillar Of Fire is the continuation of some of the ideas that were explored on our first album. This time we have managed to share the songwriting more equally and introduce some other textures to the songs. This should help to establish TAU CROSS as less of a one-off phenomenon and more of an ongoing musical collective producing our own distinctive sonic environment.”
Pillar Of Fire was recorded across three different countries and co-produced by “The Baron” in the same manner as their eponymous debut. The drums were tracked in Montreal, guitars in Minneapolis, bass in Seattle and Minneapolis, and vocals on the Isle Of Skye in Scotland.
Physical preorders and exclusive bundles are currently available via Relapse.com at THIS LOCATION. Digital preorders are available via Bandcamp HERE.
Pillar Of Fire further expands the group’s unique musical approach ranging from dark folk witchery to industrial punk metal brutalism; a moody melting pot of Killing Joke’s metallic post-punk and Motörhead’s anthemic, hard rock with flourishes of traditional instrumentation and an infusion of 16th century English mysticism. Pillar Of Fire is a musical unearthing of TAU CROSS‘ philosophical preoccupations: mythological motifs, ultra-terrestrial hypotheses, surreal, social political landscapes, and the endless search for meaning in a controlled universe.
TAU CROSS: Rob “The Baron” Miller – bass/vocals
Andy Lefton – guitar
Jon Misery – guitar
Michel “Away” Langevin – drums
Tom Radlo – bass
James Adams – keyboards
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.
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.
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.
“Guitar, bass and drums. Played loudly.” And that is how Philadelphia’s own BEACH SLANG describe their music via Bandcamp and Facebook as no pretense, just strait-ahead to the point. And that is exactly how they want it. Representing the latest incarnation of post-punk pop wrapped in teen-angst and power chords, this second full-length release brings 10 tales of strife / love / hate and getting through it all screaming, “I still taste you in the ash of every cigarette you kill.” I think everyone KNOWS that feeling. If you don’t, you are a better person for it!!
Mixing a delivery that rings richly of PSYCHEDELIC FURS meets GREEN DAY, then devoured by SOUL ASYLUM and finally, snorted by SONIC YOUTH all the while adding that ‘snap’ of GANG OF FOUR soaked drum lines being brought to a froth with the richest production values utilized as of yet by this four piece, we have this gem that stands on it’s ‘own eight feet’ as it were, not trying to clone the 2015 1st full length album. James Alex, songwriter and front man for Philly indie-punk outfit Beach Slang, says that “‘A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings’ (Polyvinyl), is a crash-and-thunder collection of songs about what it takes to keep yourself going, to make it through the rest of the night—hell, through the rest of your youth—and beyond.”
Opener ‘Future Mixtape For The Art Kids’ sets the tone from the top, e-chords and lyrics, “Play it loud, play it fast” and you are already moving when the rest of the bands hits stride with the first step.by the last line, “We are fucking alive” and the squealing note fades. Next comes the faster ‘Atom Bomb’ that punches you right in the face from the first second. Pure rage-rock-n-roll hammering forward non-stop to the end. The jangly guitar intro to ‘Spin The Dial’ sets a slower tone with that early SOUL ASYLUM vocal permeating this tale of being “born at the bottom but…”
‘Art Damage’ rips open with a multi-layer guitar line that sounds almost happy with the aforementioned PSYCHEDELIC FURS style delivery from James giving a nod of influence in this track as well as ‘Hot Tramps’, ‘Wasted Days Of Youth’, ‘Young Hearts’ and the quintessential love song ‘The Perfect High’, all that secret recipe mix of spices and seasonings to create this date-friendly blending of songs that run the gamut of scenarios and flavors. ‘Punks In A Disco bar’ has more of that SOUL ASYLUM / SONIC YOUTH blend of punchy guitar lines and reverb soaked vocals that just keeps you moving as sitting still is not an option and there is no fighting the urge anyway.
It appears to be a continuing trend, the last song is the standout here for me. ‘Warpaint ‘ stands out as one of those songs that could be either the perfect opener for a live gig or the ultimate closer in said scenario, it is that powerful and attention grabbing of a song. The first minute thirty is just guitar and vocal before the rest of the band kicks in for the final minute. Striking me as a song of encouragement and direction with the lyrics “Make a muscle with your brain. You’re not as broken as you are brave. All the things that fuck you up, knock them out then come back to us.” By the time that final ringing note decays to silence, the grin doesn’t leave your face with the satisfaction factor of what you have just consumed.
In describing what was put into the writing of this record, James said “I did feel a sense of responsibility to the kids who told me they were finding something in our music that brought them back from a bad place, the ones who were getting BEACH SLANG tattoos and quoting lyrics to me after the shows. I don’t want to let those people down. Am I leaving behind work that’s going to matter? What’s this going to say about me when I run out of air, and my son is listening to these records and tapes that I left behind. Is he going to say, ‘Yeah my dad was all right’? I want to do right by them. When this whole thing started it was like, ‘Alright, I’m going to get to hear my sappy little songs played loud and interact with other human beings again,’ the admittedly shy Alex says looking back on Beach Slang’s existence. “Then one day this really sweet explosion happened and Beach Slang became a thing that mattered to people.”
James and Company put everything into their music. They sweat it, bleed it and it shows in every note of this album. Simply, they are a rock and roll band that makes records, tour and repeat… find out when / where they are playing and get out and SUPPORT!!
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.
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.
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.