Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - May 2019


Written by: RaduP, musclassia, ScreamingSteelUS, Apothecary
Published: 26.06.2019


Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - May 2019
Metal Storm's outlet for nonmetal album reviews

Sorry this was so late. I just finished college and was really busy with stuff.

The place where we'll talk about music without growls or blast beats
unless they still have those but still aren't metal


We here at Metal Storm pride ourselves on our thousands of metal reviews and interviews and article; metal is our collective soul and passion, which is why we bother with this junk. That being said, we'd be lying if we stuck to our trve-kvlt guns and claimed that metal is the only thing we ever listen to. Whether we want to admit it or not, we do check out some other stuff from time to time; some of us are more poptimistic than others, but there's a whole world out there aside from Satan-worshiping black metal and dragon-slaying power metal. We do already feature some nonmetal artists on our website and have a few reviews to back them up, but we prefer to limit that aspect of the site to those artists who have been a strong influence on the metal scene or who are in some way connected to it. This article series is the place for those artists who don't matter to metal in the slightest but still warrant some conversation - after all, good music, is good music, and we all know metal isn't the only thing on this planet for any of us.

Down below, you might find some obscure Bandcamp bedroom projects or some Billboard-topping superstar; as long as it ain't metal and the album itself isn't a best-of compilation, it fits. Obviously, we're certain that not everything will be for everybody (you guys can be viciously territorial even when metal is the only thing on the menu, and we're all supposed to like the same things), but we do hope you find at least one thing that you can enjoy, instead of just pointing and screaming in horror "Not metal!" as if that would be an insult.

Here's a big chart of everything you'll find in this article, and even at full resolution here. Every image below this will look like shit in comparison.


Here are our previous features:

April 2019
March 2019
February 2019

And now to the music...








Port Noir - The New Routine
[Alternative Rock / Progressive Rock]

This is the third full-length from Swedish alternative rock band Port Noir, a band I became familiar with when they supported Pain Of Salvation in 2017. The songs that I was most familiar with prior to this record, "Onyx" and "Neon" demonstrated the smooth, subtle alt rock approach of this band, as well as their inclination towards electronic elements and pop sensibilities, each of which are fully prominent on this latest effort.

Opener "Old Fashioned" delivers the declaration 'We cannot stand to be old-fashioned', which becomes clear early on The New Routine, an album into which modern pop influences are clearly infused, particularly in the stretch of songs beginning with "Blow", a hooky (and, in my opinion, somewhat irksome) track with a bouncy pop-rock chorus hook. I would be surprised to see anything from this break through into pop radio; however, many of the vocal hooks on the album would sound perfectly in their place on such channels. This approach is further backed up by the varied use of electronics throughout the album. This is not a straight-up pop-rock album, however; "13", probably the track that worked most effectively for me, begins with an instrumental hook that instantly invoked Rage Against The Machine, whereas the chorus vocals similarly brought to mind recent Rise Against. All this variety is held together by a power trio core of subtle rock dominated by the silky Nordic vocals of Love Andersson, something of a subdued version of Einar Solberg of Leprous fame.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Disparager - Existential Dread
[Post-Hardcore / Post-Rock]

Following a soothing semi-ambient soft rock prelude, Disparager clearly lay out their stall on "Promise (I've Already Surrendered)" with the usual harsh vocal screams, semi-melodic guitar work and mid-song breakdown one would come to expect from a post-hardcore/metalcore band. If that first sentence made you roll your eyes, you can probably save yourself the effort of reading the rest of this. For those not immediately dissuaded from this type of sound, what Disparager deliver is a more relaxed approach than many of their peers, with a reliably mid-tempo sound that differentiates itself from a number of its peers with the occasional infusion of post-rock influences into their sound.

The delivery isn't always convincing; whereas the harsh first half and uplifting, tremolo-driven melodic ending of the aforementioned "Promise" were very much up my street, the ponderous, rhythmically awkward "Couldn't Tie You Down", with its somewhat soporific clean vocals, pales in comparison to similarly melodic efforts from the likes of Novelists. The band most prominently shows their range on the expansive title track, with its spacious, patient development through increasingly crunchy -core sections between which melodic post-rock-inspired breaks are embedded. Ultimately, this is an enjoyable enough effort, with sufficient variety to make it somewhat noteworthy, but without quite the songwriting chops or musical inspiration to truly stand out.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Pile - Green And Gray
[Post-Hardcore / Noise Rock]

There have been some changes in the Pile camp, firstly the band relocated to Nashville from Boston, and the bast changed half of its lineup, which may explain why Green And Gray feels like the band's most varied and most anxious album to date. It may also be due to the band's laments over growing old, which manifest both through said laments and through a discernible maturity in writing. It's not that easy to write mature noise rock, because otherwise it wouldn't be noise rock anymore. But Green And Grey knows how to show a bit of tenderness and sweep some cellos in before all hell breaks loose.

And there's great interplay between moments of chaotic energy and of brooding lament, each enforcing the latter and expressing confusion and anger in a powerful way. A greater emphasis seems to be placed on adding more atmospheric depth and rich layering rather than just capturing a live sort of raw power, which does put a lot more weight to the brooding part rather than the chaotic part, but no part really feels "catchy", even at their most accessible and twangy, there's a sense of oddity lurking, even though you're sure there isn't gonna erupt into anything just yet. The constant claustrophobic feeling is even more weird in the sweeter moments of the album. So when thing do erupt, they feel very earned.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Sunlotus - This Old House
[Shoegaze]

My knowledge of shoegaze mainly derives from My Bloody Valentine and the associations with the metalgaze scene swept in by Alcest and their associates around a decade ago. If This Old House is a fair reflection of the genre, the influence of the sound on the metalgaze groups is apparent. Between the fuzzy, sustained riffing on individual chords, the noisy, overwhelming sound and the faded vocals on "Picturesque", Sunlotus are recognizable as part of the same lineage as Souvenirs d'un autre monde.

As pleasant as the smothering, shimmering distortion of the opening track is, the rockier and more structured approach on "The Pillars Beneath My Feet" act as a pleasant contrast, allowing for some pleasantly dainty segments between the heavier riffs driving the verses and chorus. The album also contrasts the hard rock of this track with the sedate, soft "Sunroof Shelter", and alternates between a pop-punky opening and a grandstanding, distorted maelstrom climax on "Heatstroke", effectively fitting in a range of elements into its 6-song runtime. Personally, as much as I'm aware muted vocals are a cornerstone of this kind of sound, I feel those on display here are perhaps a bit too soporific, but despite this This Old House makes for an uplifting and surprisingly varied wall of distortion.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia








Vampire Weekend - Father Of The Bride
[Indie Pop / Chamber Pop]

Vampire Weekend had their niche sound of entitled rich New York kids into indie, and they somehow made it work with wit and some clever sounds and lyrics. Even though some of their sounds were cliché millennial pop, they were able to approach that sound much better than most of their peers and incorporate a lot of world music into their sound, some better incorporated, some less. But it made their sound exciting and fun, something which had slightly changed on their previous, more angsty record, Modern Vampires Of The City. And that was six years ago. In the meantime, multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij left the band, frontman Ezra Koenig relocated to Los Angeles and became a parent.

So now we have Father Of The Bride, also the band's longest record, pushing over an hour when their previous ones barely made it over 40 minutes in runtime. But after the long break and the trials and tribulations of young adulthood have passed, this album feels so celebratory and triumphant. It's fun in the same way that previous Vampire Weekend albums were fun, but there's a greater sense of maturity, one that still doesn't take itself overly seriously. Father Of The Bride is still very diverse, something which is made even better by the album's lush production and just general joie de vivre.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Carly Rae Jepsen - Dedicated
[Dance-Pop / Synthpop]

Even though to most people Carly Rae Jepsen is only known for that really popular "Call Me Maybe" hit from like eight years ago, but her subsequent records gave her a bit more of an underground credibility as an above average pop artist, one almost too shy for fame, and one that blends innocence and maturity, older synthier pop sensibilities and modern EDM sounds on her album Emotion and it's B-sides counterpart. Both of those have had a surprising number of almost religious fans, one you would not expect to be that much into a pop album. There's gotta be something about Jepsen that makes her brand of pop music bridge some gaps.

Dedication pretty much continues the trajectory of Emotion, so if you were a fan of that, you'll like Dedication too, or if you haven't heard neither, either could be just as good as a starting point. It feels like Jepsen could've done a bIt more to make this album more of a step forward rather than staying in the sounds that she feels comfortable in, but it made an album that, however still flawed, is still a pop record that's way above average, full of longing for love, olden sensibilities that don't feel as retro as most music re-imagining that era feels like. It's infectious, not overly sweet, not overly glossy, not overly laid-back either.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Charly Bliss - Young Enough
[Power Pop / Indie Pop]

Quick! Think of the sweetest thing you can think of! So sweet that it's yucky just to think about it! Make it double and make it music! Now it's Charly Bliss' Young Enough. Now that may be a bit of an exaggeration and the album isn't really that sugary compared to a lot of stuff, but it's still often way too sugary to be properly enjoyed by folks without a taste for bubblegum pop. And yes, this a pretty huge aspect of the album, especially vocally, but that doesn't mean that it should be written off. Young Enough is blissful and bright as it is sugary.

With this being a pop album with so much bubblegum, it's easy to ignore how the album talks about the liberation and confusion of getting out of an abusive relationship, but granted, the music does make it somewhat difficult to follow along the lyrics or to think that they may be saying anything of substance. So even ignoring the lyrics, there's enough in just the music to feel both liberation and a slight sense of lingering trauma underneath, though the maximalist synthy new wave infusions and the power pop guitars make everything feel unrestrained and euphoric.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

The National - I Am Easy To Find
[Chamber Pop / Art Rock]

The National is one of the few 00s indie rock bands that didn't burn out and still maintained their relevance, which may be due to their emphasis on lush melancholic atmospheres, but mostly due to singer Matt Berninger's persona and voice, which is somewhat of a hit or miss. I'm sure his warm vocals would be a hit for pretty much everyone, but his ocassional disregard for rhythm and rhymes as well as his persona, which sometimes feels like someone who was sheltered but wants to emulate Leonard Cohen. But that works for some people, yours truly included. The combination of the sense of personality and first world melancholia has made some really great tunes.

And while I Am Easy To Find is full of great songs and has a lot of feeling, it's also the longest The National album, with almost 70 minutes of runtime, and I don't think it really was necessary. The album does try to compensate its runtime by introducing a lot of guest vocalists, most if not all female, to work as a counter to Berninger's usual voice, so much so that it feels like he's no longer the sole protagonist or narrator of the story. There's a lot of expansion in the instrumental side as well, whether electronics or orchestrals, both of which remain subdued and subtle, thus neither the vocals nor the instrumentals fall in a pitfall of excessive grandiosity despite their larger cast.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP








Injury Reserve - Injury Reserve
[Experimental Hip Hop / Hardcore Hip Hop]

Quick, how many hip-hop songs about hacking into a Tesla do you know? Well now you know one. Courtesy of Arizone trio Injury Reserve, who have kind of been riding the industrial hip-hop wave popularized by Death Grips, but not really. Sure, there's a lot of industrial hip-hop in their sound, but also loads of jazz hip-hop and industrial techno and trap and their lyrics go from conscious to really silly, so their really hard to put a clear label on. This has both made them a really unique force in hip-hop, but also seems to have kept them from fitting clearly into one crowd.

Hopefully now with a full length debut that isn't a mixtape, and with a song that is literally a tutorial on how to make a hip-hop banger, they would get more of the attention that they deserve besides the underground Internet one. With their mastery of all these different flavors of hip-hop, there's appeal to what ought to be more universal. The rapping duo of Stepa J. Groggs and Ritchie With a T provide flows distinct enough to offer a diverse playthrough, but the album does have guest spots from Freddie Gibbs, Amine and Rico Nasty and even some bits of JPEGmafia.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Skepta - Ignorance Is Bliss
[UK Hip Hop / Grime]

Most of the Hip-Hop that gets international attention is usually pretty much restricted to the US. But UK Hip-Hop has been starting to get some of the recognition it deserves, and a lot of that is owed to Skepta's previous album, Konnichiwa. That album came after ten years of really great grime albums that flew under a lot of radars and, although a lot more heads are turned in that direction, UK Hip Hop is still not at the popularity level of its US counterpart. I'm guilty as well, I should've reviewed Little Simz latest album last month.

Ignorance Is Bliss comes after Skepta's (and grime's in general) big international break, so there is a really high standard to reach and Ignorance Is Bliss doesn't really reach the heights that Konnichiwa did, but it's by no means a disappointment. Perhaps it's how much I love hearing this accent as rapping and how ruthless some of the rhymes and their deliveries are. There are a lot of guests on this record that I'm not familiar with, but it's still Skepta's flow I like most.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Slowthai - Nothing Great About Britain
[UK Hip Hop / Grime]

Yeah, I did listen to grime before so I wasn't exactly a completely outsider to the genre. But that still didn't prepare me to how odd I'd find Nothing Great About Britain's flow and beats. But for a British rapper to get so much attention with their debut album and to also have the balls to namedrop grime's most significant album, Dizzee Rascal's Boy In Da Corner in the verses of the opening track must mean quite something. Not to mention that the album's title is a big fucking sign that the album would be quite political. But in a time of pretty big political instability courtesy of the Brexit clusterfuck, not surprising that hip hop would be getting a tad political.

Now due to my usual inability to pay attention to lyrics coupled with the really strong accent, I'm not gonna talk a lot about lyrics, but I did hear a few references to Gaspar Noe and A Clockwork Orange, so I guess there's reason to look into those. The beats, though are absolutely great, feeling distinctly British to supplement the strongly accented vocals, with UK garage and even post-punk touches throughout. And like I said, there's a really odd feeling of culture shock to hearing hip-hop in such a way, even having listened to a few albums in the style. Might have to do with him being from Northampton, not London.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Denzel Currry - ZUU
[Southern Hip Hop / Trap Rap]

I may not have the insight into hip-hop that Apothecary has, but I know a thing or two. So I'm gonna go straight into his South Florida turf to review South Florida's hottest rapper. If you haven't heard about Denzel Curry yet, here's a video of him covering Rage Against The Machine's "Bulls On Parade". Interested yet? Good. First a bit of context. Denzel Curry has a tendency to release some transitional records in between big projects. Zuu is one of those. It came after his biggest album, so it probably means that there are even bigger things in store. But even out of the transition records, Zuu completely blows all of those out of the water.

Zuu is extremely entertaining for it's pretty short runtime, which is a bit under half an hour, and other than a few unnecessary interludes and skits, it's completely banger after banger. The instrumentals feel like they come from all different places, a lot of them feeling distinctly 2000s drill-like, or southern trap hip-hop-like, even some stuff clearly inspired by the west-coast, all of them mixed with a bit of modern trap feel, without going into mumble rap territories. And even if a lot of the energy come from these instrumentals, Denzel is such an imposing force here, giving tribute to his hometown on this album more than any other, talking about not forgetting you day-ones. It's clearly not in masterpiece tier, but Zuu fucking slaps.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP








Tyler, The Creator - IGOR
[Neo-Soul / Hip Hop]

As big a fan I am of Tyler's eccentric personality and quirky rapping, I admittedly prefer his older material which was all around rawer and more grounded in actual hip hop than the recent wanderings into more poppy, soul oriented sounds that he's been experimenting with. So upon first listening to this year's IGOR, and seeing that it further continues the funky, neo soul type sound introduced with 2017's Flower Boy, I wasn't that impressed. But be warned: this album is one hell of a grower. Repeated listens gradually won me over, and I began to appreciate IGOR more for what it is than I got disappointed with what it isn't.

Indeed, whereas the sound of Flower Boy felt a little forced and as though it was trying too hard to be catchy, with IGOR things feel a lot more streamlined and natural. It's hard to say where the hip hop ends here and the more soul based, R&B sound begins, but that's part of what makes it so fun, the feeling of being a full synthesis of both genres. One could bemoan the move into a more "accessible" sound here as a sign of Tyler's "selling out," but given that the beats are still spacey and all around weird as hell at points, it seems seems more like a genuine change of style still true to his unusual persona than anything else. More challenging, enjoyable, and layered than it may reveal upon a first listen, whether one enjoys the musical curve ball that IGOR represents or not, it's hard to deny that it just further reinforces Tyler's versatility as an artist and admirable devotion to evolving with each new release.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by Apothecary

Jamila Woods - Legacy! Legacy!
[R&B / Neo-Soul]

Modern soul music is a long way from my area of expertise, so I have very limited frame of reference for Legacy! Legacy!; however, whilst not fully embracing it, I can firmly appreciate the quality of this effort. The smooth, subtle instrumental arrangements provide drive and richness to the songs whilst enabling Jamila Woods's vocals to dominate the record. Woods has great range, with a smooth yet slightly husky singing style that carries authority whilst remaining restrained volume-wise, whilst also transitioning into rapping segments on the likes of "Sonia". Additionally, the vocal harmonies throughout the album really take songs to the next level.

Generally, lyrics are low on my list of musical priorities, but for music as vocal-dominated as this, they are clearly of higher importance. The song titles reference significant individuals in Black culture and arts, including "Eartha" Kitt, "Miles" Davis and Jimmy "Baldwin", and the lyrics throughout discuss the difficulties faced by African Americans in the US, and the triumphs of the referenced individuals in face of this. The songs appear to take both lyrical and musical inspiration from their namesakes; for example, "Muddy" Waters is one of the few tracks with notable guitar presence. Ultimately, whilst this is unlikely to be something I revisit, I generally enjoyed this record, particularly the slick, subdued sound and light touch of the vocals on "Sun Ra", and can see it appealing to people with a greater interest in soul/R&B.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Flying Lotus - Flamagra
[Funk Hop / Acid Jazz]

Flying Lotus should truly need no introduction to fans of left field hip hop and contemporary funk music. One of the oddest members of both genres, this multi talented, ever evolving producer has been going strong for well over 10 years now creating scores of bouncy, mesmerizing, and altogether intriguing soundscapes. 2019's Flamagra only keeps up his momentum, boasting a heaping 27 tracks and coming off as a highly stimulating journey through Flying Lotus's various funk, hip hop, and psychedelic influences. While it calls back to some of his earlier work, Flamagra also seems a little more dance and vocal-oriented than usual, featuring several Flying Lotus collaborators both old and new.

Called part of "the new generation of funk music" by Parliament's legendary George Clinton (who actually appears on "Burning Down The House"), repeated listens to Flamagra only further reveal why Flying Lotus is deserving of such an honorific. Yes, the music here is funky, and oozes of retro influences, but it's also unquestionably contemporary, packed to the brim with more up to date dashes of EDM, psychedelia, 2010s hip hop production, and more. With a host of guests to help give the music that extra oomph, including Clinton, Denzel Curry, Thundercat, and even David Lynch, Flamagra is both fun and accessible while still being unorthodox and abstract, and may just be Flying Lotus's most delicious recipe yet.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by Apothecary

Holly Herndon - PROTO
[Experimental / Glitch Pop]

How many more pop albums do you know that feature an artificial intelligence that uses machine learning to process audio? Not many I suppose. And indeed this is probably the most interesting thing about this album, the way that it blurs the line between technology and the humans who made that technology possible. But other than that, there's also the fact that Holly Herndon and her collaborators implemented that concept so well, in a way that gives this record value beyond its gimmick.

A lot of the record is based on vocals of choral ensembles, that give this album a somewhat folky or gospel feeling that makes the technological theme of the album feel almost utopic. The line between how much of the vocals is of human or of digital origin is blurred, so much so that even at their most processed, they still feel in contrast with the clearly digital instrumental. In a world where vocal processing is pretty much the norm in popular music, having it approached from such an odd angle is really refreshing.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP








Craig Leon - Anthology Of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 2: The Canon
[Space Ambient / Drone]

My personal favourite of this month's bunch, this album delivers some lush ambient soundscapes and new age-inspired rhythms. After a brief cosmic-ambient introduction, the first main track, "Standing Crosswise In The Square", is carried by a repetitive percussive rhythm (it sounds like a woodblock, but it's probably something fancier) over which slow, extended electronic drones are patiently layered, along with some more vibrant, but no less peaceful, instrumental motifs. From this point on, the remainder of the songs follow similar paths, with gradual (but not boring) development of ambient layers and subtle motifs, either accompanied by ("The Respondent in Dispute", "The Gates Made Plain") or in the absence of ("Four Floods Of The Point", "The Twenty Second Step�") underlying percussion.

My relationship with ambient/drone-based music has warmed in recent years, but even the music that I have appreciated under this umbrella has typically been heavier and more structured. This is dainty, dreamy and contemplative, invoking the titular cosmic concept, but the songwriting is very well-judged, ensuring sufficient musical development to maintain interest whilst still extracting the maximum satisfaction from the minimal input. I could live without the overlong and underdeveloped closing track, "Departure", but aside from that slight flat note, this is an excellent exercise in quiet bliss.

Bandcamp / Spotify

by musclassia

Tim Hecker - Anoyo
[Electronic Ambient]

I've encountered Tim Hecker's music a couple of times previouslyt, finding Love Streams to be overly chaotic for my tastes and regularly grating, and Konoyo even more irksome with some of its sonic choices. Anoyo doesn't rectify all these issues, but with its more muted approach, it is far more accessible to me, enabling me to appreciate the virtues of Hecker's sound. Opener "That world", with its slowly solidifying primary motif, glitchy sound effects and dainty flutes, is a surprisingly engrossing introduction that is easy to get lost in and appreciate its haunting beauty.

The subsequent tracks don't quite live up to the opener, but compared with how abrasive I've found some of his work in the past, the likes of "Step away from Konoyo" and "Into the void" are remarkably gentle and spacious ambient tracks, using sparse sound effects to add some element of structure to extended droning electronic bases. The most active track, "Is but a simulated blur", has more prominent use of (what feels somewhat formless) percussion and a myriad of different sounds to develop a more disconcerting and unsettling vibe, but even at its wildest, this track is a far cry from some previous efforts. Truth be told, outside of perhaps "That world", I would hesitate to say I really liked this album, but it was far more to my liking than the likes of "Love Streams", and with perhaps a bit more structure to the songs, I could see this sound developing into something I actually like.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Efrim Manuel Menuck & Kevin Doria - Are Sing Sinck, Sing
[Drone / Post-Rock]

Tagging this album is pretty difficult because pretty much each streaming platform credits the artist in a different way. Is it just a collaborative record between Efrim Manuel Menuck (founder of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra) and Kevin Doria (of Growing and Total Life) or is Sing Sinck, Sing the name of the new band which is the collaboration of these two? No one knows for sure. Their bandcamp page seems to support the latter. But the record came alive as a result of the two collaborating on taking Menuck's previous record, Pissing Stars, to a live setting and with this they are transitioning to something less solo.

This album does have a bit of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's sound (obviously never being able to match it) in its throbbing drone and ambiance that do feel very familiar, but are way more electronic in nature than the instrument-rich sound we may be used to. The vocals do come a bit off over it, overly processed in an almost neo-psychedelic way, but their political poetics and the radiance of the electronics contrast in a probably intended uncanny alien way. Indeed these sound like folk protest songs but sung by an alien race who somehow understand our struggles.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Kollaps - Mechanical Christ
[Post-Industrial / Death Industrial]

I can't stop hearing SpongeBob instead of the intended Lingua Ignota screeches on that opening track, but once "Crucify" starts pounding on the walls of my brain, I'm ready to stop joking and accept the industrial apocalypse heralded by Kollaps. The primitive sounds of Mechanical Christ are abrasive and harrowing, ringing with distorted blasts like gunfire through catacombs. When I listen to bands in the industrial/noise/banging-on-stuff-to-make-scary-sounds genre, I typically assume a considerable degree of synthesizing, programming, and studio mastery, but this Australian trio is as much scrap metal and scavenged junk as actual instrumentation, which really puts the "industrial" in... industrial.

The unusual choice of musical instruments makes all the more impressive how stylistically diverse the album is. "Fleshflower" has a weird rockabilly groove that makes it sound like "Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell" with slightly worse production, but it is followed by the creeping dirge "Blood Premonitions," more reminiscent of our favorite Godflesh tracks (though without the same metal leanings). In one way or another, this whole album is ominous and portentous of demonic possession. If your aim is to find something that's not metal but still heavy, let Kollaps be the first stop on your journey.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by ScreamingSteelUS








Fire! Orchestra - Arrival
[Experimental Big Band / Avant-Jazz]

In Metal Storm lore, Mats Gustafsson will forever be remembered as that saxophonist who collaborated with Chaos Ech�s on that Sustain thing. And by Metal Storm lore, I mean like the 10 people who listened to that album. Regardless, it seems like Gustafsson has done quite his share to be more than a footnote in the history of free jazz, and one of his most significant creative ventures is the Fire! Orchestra, a follower of the Godspeed You! Black Emperor school of misplacing exclamation marks, but honestly there are some musical similarities as well, since some moments on Arrival could pass as GY!BE moments if GY!BE had a contrabass player.

But Fire! Orchestra have vocals as well to set them apart, ones that feel quite straightforward for such an experimental venture. But even as a whole, Arrival feels a lot more spacious and airy, especially considering that the orchestra has pretty much halved in size to "just" 14 members. Even with a number still quite high, it feels like Arrival is never too crowded or ahead of itself. The vocals are at the forefront, but what happens underneath is always evolving in restrained free jazz fashion, with less emphasis on the free. Instead it feels like music from the black lodge but with passionate vocals and the feeling that something will happen. Something not very pleasant.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Greg Foat - The Mage
[Cool Jazz / Avant-Garde Jazz]

To be honest, when I saw this tagged as 'avant-garde jazz', I was preparing to turn it off immediately. Except for Brann Dailor and Florida tech-death bands, seeing music described as 'jazzy' or 'jazz-inspired' has generally been a worrying sign for me, as the prioritization of instrumental prowess and improvisation in the genre generally means it misses the mark as far as my personal tastes go. Ultimately, this sounded a million miles from what I expected; no extended drum solos or wild improv detours, this instead a lush, mellow venture, with a laid-back vibe and deceptively simple background arrangements against which the solo instruments can express themselves without becoming overwhelming.

Take "Drifting" for example, which consists of what sounds like the same gentle acoustic guitar 'riff' and bongo rhythm repeating beneath extended saxophone soloing and duetting. Whilst the idea of a 7-minute saxophone-dominated jazz instrumental would usually ring alarm bells for me, the peaceful, lush background to this song even makes the more exuberant solo segments tolerable, and beautifully complements the more restrained moments. Beyond this track, the gentle keys of "The Magic Radish", slick rhythms of "The Mage", and lush piano and rich vocals on "Of My Hands" act as further highlights on this record. Even "The High Priestess", which gets closest to the spastic sax and flashy drums of my jazz nightmares in its opening minutes, moves into an effectively prog rock-style conclusion with its classic keyboards and acoustic guitar. I could certainly do with some dialling down the saxophone during quite a bit of the album; in fact, I would be interested in hearing a sax-less version, as the arrangements otherwise were enjoyably warm and calm throughout. Still, this is the first jazz album I have ever paid money for, which should indicate how positive I feel about it.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Big Thief - U.F.O.F.
[Indie Folk / Dream Pop]

Folk music and psychedelic music have been intertwined for a long time. U.F.O.F. isn't very psychedelic in the common sense, but it feels surreal and dreamy. And most of all, it feels very intimate. The fact that its title references extra terrestrial phenomena with an extra "F" for Friends is absolutely fitting for this album, due to it feeling both extremely human and extremely strange at the same time, as it through it one would discover alien parts of the human experience. And the abstract nature has infiltrated the lyrics as well, what once were vivid tales of hardship now truly feel like dreams.

Big Thief have softened the sound of their previous records to give us such a strange experience. And while most of the album is based on just vocals and acoustic guitars, the band does sneak bits of their older grungier and shoegazier flexibilities to get some guitar feedback appear at points, barely noticeable. But it's also usually felt that this is a band instead of just a folk singer, so the sound feels a lot fuller due to the bass and drums that jangle in the background. So everything, from the lyrics to the music to the production feels dreamlike, and not just due to it feeling light, but with flourishes and abstractions that feel like they follow the logic of dreams too.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Ulver - Drone Activity
[Ambient / Post-Industrial]

Yes, I'm going to use this article to review an Ulver album so that I don't clog the main page. Whatcha gonna do about it?

Drone Activity is a spiritual successor to ATGCLVLSSCAP, both of which were new material recorded live and then heavily edited in the studio, so quite on the border between a live and a studio album. You won't hear any crowd cheering or stage banter in neither of these, nor is it possible to tell where the live performance ends and the studio begins. For all intents and purposes, the venue is the studio. And even though the music itself doesn't necessarily feel like it was made for an audience, listening to Drone Activity, one can't help but wish that they were part of the said audience.

If it wasn't obvious from the title, this album is very droney and ambiental. Each of the four tracks is a megalith of more than 15 minutes of industrial moodscape with very little concern for rhythm or memorability or anything else than a powerful sense of free-form atmosphere. The two "songs" in the middle have a somewhat similar electronic noir feel to their early 2000s work, and the last track has a bit of a warmer tone, but other than that, Drone Activity is a huge canvas of dread and stasis. Even with its stark minimalism, everything about Drone Activity feels absolutely gargantuan.

Bandcamp

by RaduP




And that was it. You've made it through still alive. Congrats. See ya next month.



 



Written on 26.06.2019 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments

Comments: 7   Visited by: 100 users
26.06.2019 - 23:09
Karlabos
Weirdo of MS
Look at Ulver being mentioned in a non-metal article
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2016 - 2017
2018 - 2019
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26.06.2019 - 23:16
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Karlabos on 26.06.2019 at 23:09

Look at Ulver being mentioned in a non-metal article

About time they became a good band, ey?
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Take off those stupid glasses and kiss me
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27.06.2019 - 18:49
AndreMarcos
So much to listen ... So little time. Thanks for the article, really appreciate it.
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28.06.2019 - 08:17
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by AndreMarcos on 27.06.2019 at 18:49

So much to listen ... So little time.

My gripe exactly
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Take off those stupid glasses and kiss me
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01.07.2019 - 21:36
Crème fraiche
I loved Zuu, Igor and Injury Reserve! Keep these coming guys! Loving the non-metal posts as of lately as there is a lot of great music coming out in all genres!
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01.07.2019 - 22:27
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Crème fraiche on 01.07.2019 at 21:36

I loved Zuu, Igor and Injury Reserve! Keep these coming guys! Loving the non-metal posts as of lately as there is a lot of great music coming out in all genres!

Then our work here has meaning
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Take off those stupid glasses and kiss me
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12.07.2019 - 22:37
Rage71
Great article. I know and like a few if those bands (Port Noir, Flying Lotus, etc.). Like someone else said, so much music, so little time. Nice problem to have. Cheers.
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