Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - April 2020


Written by: RaduP, musclassia, nikarg, ScreamingSteelUS, Troy Killjoy, Abattoir
Published: 21.05.2020


Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - April 2020
Metal Storm's outlet for nonmetal album reviews

Once again sorry for the huge delay. Busy times.

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 are our previous features:

March 2020
February 2020
January 2020

And now to the music...





Dance Gavin Dance - Afterburner
[Post-Hardcore | Math Rock]


Dance Gavin Dance was a band a friend recommended to me in 2010, but it's taken me a decade to finally listen to them. I'm not entirely sure if the intervening time meant that I met them at a point where I was more predisposed to liking them or not. Some of the more experimental elements of this record (the scream rapping and poppy hooks of "Lyrics Lie", the Latin influences in "Calentamiento Global") might not have appealed at the time, so if they were similarly diverse in the past this may not have clicked so well. However, a quick read suggests that this album shows Dance Gavin Dance at their most experimental, so their earlier music may have been more in line with opening track "Prisoner", a storming proggy post-hardcore cut packed with evocative vocal hooks and math rock chop-changes that immediately stood out to me on first and repeat listens as an album highlight. As it is, Afterburner has been the most diverse of the post-hardcore suggestions that I've come across whilst contributing to this article series, and whilst not all of it vibes with me, the highlights deliver that perfect medium of being hugely memorable whilst slightly off-kilter.

The key component of Dance Gavin Dance's sound on Afterburner is clean vocalist Tilian Pearson, who has a soaring high-pitched voice that perfectly complements the band's sound; there's a poppiness to it, and also a robotic edge (presumably from some effects applied to his voice), both of which work in the band's favour. Beyond him, the harsh and rapped vocal approaches add interesting contrasts to tracks, and the guitar work delivers the complexity, punch and accessibility that is simultaneously desired for bands in this style. There is a lot to digest in songs such as the aforementioned "Calentamiento Global" and "One In A Million", which switches on a dime from mainstream pop hooks to complex guitar syncopation and gnarly vocal shredding, but it's worth taking the time to explore. In terms of reference points, there's hints of Coheed & Cambria and Thank You Scientist in their sound, mainly in terms of the vocal melodies and tonal approach, but there's both a harsher edge and greater mainstream sensibility on display here. Personally, I would've been happy for several more tracks in the vein of "Prisoner", which was comfortably the standout as far as how my tastes are geared and has racked up numerous repeat listens since I first checked out the record, but taking my own expectations for the album based on that song out of the equation, Afterburner is a really interesting and hook-laden record.

Apple Music | Google Play Music | Spotify

by musclassia



The Strokes - The New Abnormal
[Indie Rock | New Wave]


I like it when commercially successful bands come up an experimental record. Well I mean relatively experimental. For example, look at that cover art, what does that make you think of? Arena rock or art rock? Exactly. And with such a title, and it coming out after a long pause since the last record, Comedown Machine, during which time the members tried their hand at some solo stuff and side projects. So what does The New Abnormal bring. Well, duh, abnormality. Meaning that this is the weirdest I've ever heard The Strokes being. Sometimes it's for the best, way too often it's not, but overall I am glad that they did have the courage to do something more left-field instead of just giving the fans another Is This It.

This thing is way longer, or at least it feels so, especially in how long each track drags out. Sometimes it works to get moody, sometimes it feels dreary, boring, or even worse, grating. Julian Casablanca's voice is already somewhat of a mixed bag that can be really great, but it depends on the context, and some of the falsettos, let's say that they're not in the right context. I did enjoy a lot of the 80s throwbacks, but I've heard way too much 80s influenced music lately so much that it doesn't really feel fresh at all bringing some sounds from that period anymore. Still, the way that these are brought is sometimes fairly engaging and interesting. There are a lot of great moments on The New Abnormal, but I feel like its lows are too many and too low compared to its highs.

Apple Music | Google Play Music | Spotify

by RaduP



Zopp - Zopp
[Progressive Rock | Canterbury Sound]


When I hold my reservations about Opeth's more modern work, it's not that I have a natural aversion to classic prog rock, and it's not even that I have a general issue with bands revisiting that sound. Case in point: Zopp, a duo from Nottingham, have released a self-titled record that borrows heavily from the classic Canterbury sound, but do so with such conviction and quality that I am absolutely all in with Zopp. Featuring Andrea Moneta on drums and Ryan Stevenson on nearly everything else, Zopp also includes several guest appearances from Andy Tillison (of The Tangent) on various tracks, plus a handful of other guests, one of whom is credited with 'voice' contributions. However, the vast majority of Zopp is purely instrumental, and those instruments get every opportunity to show their worth.

Stevenson uses an array of different keyboards, organs and synthesizers on Zopp, and they're on full display throughout, with the first minute of "Before The Light", the first full track, featuring extensive interplay between them. This track is every bit a classic retro-prog cut, from the keyboards through the guitars to the drums, but it's delivered with an ample supply of charm and enthusiasm. Several (but not all of the) songs are quite busy, but not in an obnoxious way that feels like Zopp are being technical for technicality's sake. In contrast, a number of other ones retain the progginess but operate in calmer, more soothing territory; amongst these are "Sellanrå", a soothing, delicate semi-ambient interlude, and "V", the memorably melodic track that this interlude leads into. It's difficult to pick out highlights from what is a consistently impressive tracklist, but it would be unfair not to give a special shoutout to the lengthy closing song "The Noble Shirker", a winner from its driving drum rhythms and smooth saxophone solos to its fantastic central hooks and perfectly judged song progression. 9 minutes of bliss, "The Noble Shirker" wraps up a delightful exercise in nostalgia in fine style.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Google Play Music | Spotify

by musclassia



Forndom - Faþir
[Scandinavian Neofolk]


The day after I publish my review of Myrkur's Folkesange, Radu sends me a link to Forndom's Bandcamp and says, "You wanna do this for the nonmetal article?" It takes only a few seconds to establish that mental connection: Forndom's second full-length is a dolorous stretch of dark Nordic folk, soaked in the bitterness of ages long dead. This is folk for the fireside, when the darkness is closing in around you and you wish to raise your voice to your ancestors; L. Swärd, the mastermind and multi-instrumentalist behind Forndom, has created a quiet and personal collection of rich folk tunes that match the album artwork in tone.

The seven tracks sometimes feel like one long song, thanks to the mesmeric singing; Faþir's haunting string melodies and resolute vocal harmonies echo over wistful synths and bare, incessant percussion, painting the mountain mists into view before you. The beautiful, earthy atmosphere of Faþir creates an emotionally absorbing sound that momentarily takes you out of the present and into a land of endless somber melody. It's something to listen to while rowing your longship into the mists of time forgotten.

Bandcamp | Spotify

by SSUS



Melt Yourself Down - 100% Yes
[Art Punk | Afrobeat]


Another band from the Sons Of Kemet-sphere of Afro-jazz alongside The Comet Is Coming, Zed-U, Shabaka and the Ancestors, Seed Ensemble, plus the numerous solo outings of members of these bands. It might be a bit reductive of me, but a significant portion of the jazz music coming out in the past decade that I have listened to has come from this very scene. So obviously I was ready to jump on the opportunity to get into another one of these. And akin to most of its peers, it's infectious, snappy and sweltering. But it's also probably the angriest of all of these.

It's quite impossible to listen to this and not feel some animating sense of urgency. The blend of jazz, funk, punk, grime and UK garage is the most contagiously positive thing (go figure what an album literally called 100% Yes can possible emanate) that I heard all year. It's the kind of "get up and do something" feeling that one can get from a Rage Against The Machine or Chemical Brothers or The Exploited, but with saxophones. But all its quirkiness and its snappiness doesn't stop it from saying what it has to say and demanding to be taken seriously. It's basically shaking you and ordering you to stop being so goddamn lethargic.

Apple Music | Google Play Music | Spotify

by RaduP



Globular & Geoglyph - Messages From The Resonator
[Psybient | Trip-Hop]


I had never heard of 'psybient' (psychedelic ambient) as a genre tag before I came across Messages From The Resonator, but it turns out I might like psybient music a lot based on this first taste. From the first shimmering chimes, flute melodies and gentle bass grooves of opening track "The Observatory", this long-in-the-making collaboration between Bristol artists Globular and Geoglyph takes the listener on a calm, smooth yet trippy journey, seamlessly sliding a smorgasbord of different elements into the mix without ever sounding busy or overwhelming. The use of dynamics is on-point, with the fadeout midway through "The Observatory" and the deftly judged build-up that comes after serving as a great example.

There are some vocal elements, including the robotic singing in latter stages of "The Observatory" and the samples that open "A Peculiar Mission"; however, the instrumental side is the main thing to love here. The laidback glide of "A Peculiar Mission" in particular is very easy to get lost in, between the ebb and flow of the synths and delicate acoustic guitars. It's not all this mellow; the loud record scratches and sound effects at the beginning of "Take Down Everything" are a bit more brash than most of what's featured on Messages From The Resonator, but perhaps a wake-up call midway through the album in the form of this livelier song is a good thing when most of the rest of the record is so warm and cosy, particularly "A General Benevolent Presence", which comes next on the album. The tracklist is arranged so that the longest songs bookend Messages From The Resonator, working down to the shortest songs at the midway point before lengthening them again; given how smoothly the music blends together, I'm not sure this necessarily has a huge impact on the vibe the album gives off, but by closing with "Due To Special Circumstances", Globular & Geoglyph ensure that Messages From The Resonator finishes on a high note, with its various oscillating synth lines, quirky bass electronics, driving beats and synthetic singing all coalescing to create a delightfully psychedelic and stirring conclusion to the record. Discovering albums like this is what makes contributing to this article each month such a treat.

Bandcamp

by musclassia



Midnight Odyssey - Ruins Of A Celestial Fire
[Space Ambient]


With an already voluminous discography of densely proportioned content that marries the best of atmospheric black metal with foreboding ambient soundscapes, solo artist Dis Pater has unraveled yet another textural sojourn through the mystical offerings of outer space through the lens of his typically metal-leaning project Midnight Odyssey. It should come as no surprise to anyone even remotely paying attention to this world shaping storyteller that his songwriting capabilities aren't strictly limited to the typical metal formulae; his vivid imagery and patience with building up to massive climactic sendoffs makes for uniquely positive listening experiences within some of metal's most bleak and depressing emotional boundaries, which is on full display here. Without the jarring effects of guitars and drums pulling you out of the immersive trances synonymous with Midnight Odyssey, Ruins of a Celestial Fire veers its space-oriented focus off course with ethereal electronica and prepares a forever dream for you that promises blissful existence above all else.

This album truly lives up to the project's evocative name, with all its whimsy and grandeur at the ready to act as a buoy for the background droning and overt choir-like resonance. Ever content to traverse the peaceful silence of the great beyond, this retro-inspired album merges its delicate synth passages seamlessly with the overwhelming aura of solitude and isolation, making for a significantly less frightening journey into the black, and instead offers the hope and excitement of exploring the endless supply of intergalactic phenomena throughout the cosmos. Dis Pater has created a work of beauty so impressively enchanting that it entirely distracts from the hollow void of nothingness and ruin by immersing you in the warmth of a celestial fire.

Bandcamp

by Troy



Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts V: Together
[Ambient Electronic | Drone]


Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails is most widely known for dark industrial music and the likes of The Downward Spiral and The Fragile; however, 2008's Ghosts I-IV saw Reznor venture in a more ambient direction, which fed into his subsequent soundtrack work with Ghosts collaborator and now Nine Inch Nails member Atticus Ross for the likes of The Social Network and Gone Girl. Over a decade later, Reznor has returned to the Ghosts series, and whilst I haven't heard the previous entry/entries (depending on how you view Ghosts I-IV), I can see some crossover between this record and some of the more mellow parts of soundtracks he has produced. Ghosts V is a hugely understated piece of work, comprised primarily of soothing background drones onto which sparse instrumentation has been added, whether it be keyboards, pianos, electronic sound effects or wordless voices. These typically give off a feeling of piece, although they can be somewhat insidious; for example, the way these layers build up and distort during the latter half of "Letting Go While Holding On" takes the music away from serene and more towards disquieting.

Ghosts V pushes 70 minutes in length, but varies little in pace or tone. Whether it's the slow, mellow piano of "Together" or the oscillations in "With Faith", everything here is slow and introspective. The songs aren't static; new elements will enter as the songs progress, such as the synthesizers midway through "With Faith", serving to keep things sounding fresh. However, as a whole, the album possesses a consistent subdued, desolate vibe, a gentle sadness that persists throughout all the songs. The only track to substantially deviate from this is "Still Right Here", which delivers bursts of clunking, mechanical beats and pulsating electronics that are far more in line with the sound Nine Inch Nails is renowned for, and a harsher, noisier outro that the rest of the record would predict. As stark a departure as "Still Right Here" is from the rest of Ghosts V, it makes for an interesting denouement for an otherwise soothing-yet-depressing ambient effort.

Apple Music | Google Play Music | Spotify

by musclassia


Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts VI: Locusts
[Electronic | Dark Ambient]


The longer, darker and more substantial sibling of Ghosts V: Together, Ghosts VI: Locusts offers up nearly 90 minutes of unsettling music, with the serene ambient soundscapes of Ghosts V replaced with bleaker noise. Take "Around Every Corner" as an example; a creepy piano performance creeps up and down the keyboard in an increasingly unnerving manner, as waves of noisy ambience swell up and then release and a solitary trumpet meanders around in the mix. This conjugation of disjointed instruments forms an off-kilter whole that, whilst not delivering any signs of aggression, gives off a threatening vibe. Ghosts V feels like an exercise in solitary introspection and contemplation; in contrast, when listening to Ghosts VI, it feels like you have company, and not necessarily of the pleasant kind.

Much of the rest of the record follows suit; "The Worriment Waltz" offers more ominous piano and trumpet, and more eerie noise filtering into the dark ambient background. The music throughout is more immediate - less ambience-dominated, and with faster tempos and faster development of ideas within songs, enabling Reznor to build up the tension constantly within songs, and giving a pace to a track like "Run Like Hell" that fits its title. "Run Like Hell" is constantly on the move, condensing the song progression of the 10-minute cuts from these two records into a runtime half that long. This greater variety and activity means that in general, the record is equally capable of holding the listener's interest as its sibling, despite the extra quarter-hour of music they have to navigate through.

Apple Music | Google Play Music | Spotify

by musclassia



Carpenter Brut - Blood Machines OST
[Synthwave]


Between Carpenter Brut, Perturbator and The Algorithm, there's a lot of electronic music coming out of France from metal musicians or musicians associated with metal bands, much of it inspired by cinema. With Blood Machines, Carpenter Brut takes things one step further by writing a score to go with a sci-fi movie directed by Seth Ickerman, who previously collaborated with Carpenter Brut by making the music video for "Turbo Killer". Both the music and movie are inspired by 80s movies, much like a substantial portion of the synthwave scene as a whole. Blood Machines OST doesn't notably deviate from a sound that has rather exploded in the last decade; however, it does serve as another enjoyable and perhaps more ambient take on this sound by one of the most established names in the genre.

"Blood Machines OST" is a pretty classic synthwave track, with the throbbing low-end electronic bass, trance-y synth melodies and moody-yet-driven energy; this is a song to hack a dystopian government to. In contrast, much of the tracks here serve more as ambient interludes for the movie rather than full-out songs, such as "The Ceremony", two minutes of sustained synth chords, or the brief snippet of pulsating tension that is "Mima". As such, Blood Machines OST works less successfully as a standalone listening experience than the similarly lengthy New Model by Perturbator; however, the likes of "Attack Of The Amazons", "Bloody Kisses" and the closing double-header of "Grand Final" and "Gone Now" feature bursts of that sweet, pulsating synthwave vibe.

Bandcamp

by musclassia



Aprilmen - Heavy Hearts (Special Edition)
[Synthpop | Darkwave]


Alan Averill is mostly known as the vocalist of Primordial, but he is quite a busy man, involved in acts such as Twilight Of The Gods, Dread Sovereign, and others. Aprilmen (more info in this interview) is a non-metal project of Nemtheanga and his cousin Gareth Averill, who is a film composer, something that explains why the atmosphere is very cinematic. They describe their music as horror pop, and it is more or less a synth-laden, gothic pop venture saturated in '80s vibes. Not shocking, if you ask me, hints of these influences can be heard in the metal that Nemtheanga has been part of, with the most recent being "To Hell Or The Hangman" from Primordial's latest album.

This is a bit of a cheat, because Heavy Hearts actually came out in November 2018 but this special edition has just been released and features two new cover songs, U2's "New Year's Day" and Roxy Music's "Love Is The Drug". Now, both of these are among my absolute favourite tunes and Aprilment definitely do them justice, while this new package is a good opportunity for you to check out the EP, in case you missed it the first time. I have to say that I was really impressed to listen to the cold and gloomy take on a song that has been carved in my brain with Brian Ferry's soothing and elegantly seductive voice, and is probably the sexiest track ever written. It's both interesting and surprising to hear this particular Irishman sing "I say go / she says yes / dim the lights / you can guess the rest". Give it a go.

Bandcamp

by nikarg



X - Alphabetland
[Punk Rock | Rockabilly]


Imagine being a seminal punk rock band and self-releasing your first album in 27 years on Bandcamp during the pandemic. Crazy times indeed. Alphabetland would've came out anyway probably, but the way it sounds now sounds defiant against history. It even has all four original members. In celebration of the 40th anniversary of their landmark 1980 record, Los Angeles, this is clearly an album made by old people who aren't doing it anymore for many other reasons other than because they can and they wanna. Their voices aren't as powerful, they don't play as fast, and it's quite obvious that Alphabetland is aware of its limitations. So as punk as it still is, it's more mellow, laid back and fairly humorous.

The limitations that I've mentioned do take away from the album a bit, but there are enough fast moments to show some punk roots. But even so, I wouldn't call this album angry or aggressive. The way I look at X, now seem less like bitter angry folks, but more the kind of old people to make surprisingly inappropriate jokes and call you "sporty". No, it's not angry or aggressive, but it's so fun and badass in its own way. It even ends with a piano poetry piece that is probably the most un-pretentious piece of poetry I have heard in a long time. So a lot of it being more rockabilly and at points pop punk or surf rock isn't completely detached from Los Angeles, but it's great to see X aware and proud of who they are.

Bandcamp

by RaduP



Matt Elliott - Farewell To All We Know
[Progressive Folk | Singer/Songwriter]


Are we absolutely certain that Matt Elliott is in no way related to Leonard Cohen? Because that would definitely explain some things. Mostly the suave very low register gruff that almost mumbles the words, but is so comforting and melancholic. I was aware of Matt Elliott, hence why I even picked this up, but I only knew of his Drinking Songs (the scotch and smoke ones, not the ale and joy ones) album and I had not even listened to that. Well, big mistake on my part. I listen to my fair share of singer/songwriters but there is something that a lot of people are lacking, and it's not just sounding like Leonard Cohen, it's also feeling so damn entrancing while you're doing it. And these songs are probably good for some drinking themselves.

The comparisons to Leonard Cohen (I swear this is the last one), don't stop at the voice, with the sound of this being akin to some of the albums of his final days, being very sparse and somber. Farewell To All We Know is sparse and somber too, but it has a bit of its own tone too. From the more Mediterranean feel of the guitars, to the whole thing having a darker touch of drone and slowcore, and the whole thing missing the choirs and most of the strings, to give this one less of a "collective" feel. All of its darkness is so embroiled within its romantic charm that it almost charms you through any darkness regardless. Slowly, but just as passionately. And passionate is not an easy mood to achieve with something as dreary and depressive as this.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Google Play Music | Spotify

by RaduP



Waxahatchee - Saint Cloud
[Alt-Country | Singer/Songwriter]


I had heard of Waxahatchee before, knowing she was a singer/songwriter, but it wasn't until this pandemic that I actually managed to get into her. Right when things began to get serious, and livestream concerts started appearing, there was an "Uncancelled" Festival, in which her and Snail Mail performed. And I was a bit guilty watching her livestream and being mostly excited about her covering some else's song (even if that song is one of the best songs of last year). So in the meantime I did manage to give her discography a well deserved binge, and I have to say, Saint Cloud is quite a change.

Previous Waxahatchee records where closer to a lo-fi indie rock sound, that while going into folk at times, still had its core rooted. Saint Cloud leaves that behind for some really laid-back alt-country. With some very sparse instrumentation and just enough twang, this is something that feels so comfortable and tame in comparison to all previous four records, which is both a blessing and a curse. For one, it's not as exciting or gripping, but at the same time, I can't help but appreciate the change of pace and how much it feels like staying in the sun and smelling the garden, something I bet a lot of people are looking forward to doing more often. In the meantime, this does give a similar enough feeling to quench that.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Google Play Music | Spotify

by RaduP



Laura Marling - Song For Our Daughter
[Contemporary Folk | Singer/Songwriter]


There is a lot of maturity and contemplation to be expected by a singer/songwriter's seventh album, some sense that the years past by has lead to some gathering of wisdom or at least enough of a lifespan to warrant some reliving old memories. On Laura Marling's seventh album, Song For Our Daughter, the daughter this is dedicated do might be imaginary, and so are most of the characters in the songs' narratives, but the feeling feel more than real. Lacking a lot in the melancholy one would expect from a record in its exact context, Song For Our Daughter feels mostly reassuring if anything. Or peaceful. Sometimes even quite upbeat. Always very personal. As young as she still is, Laura Marling does already have the tranquility and insight of someone quite a few more years down the line.

Obviously this being a singer/songwriter folk album, a lot of it is leaning on the stories told, and on the voice that is a vessel to these. Warning her imaginary daughter of the misogyny she might endure in her life, but certain that she would make it through somehow, Laura Marling has a voice that is incredibly warm and soothing, to further enhance the aforementioned reassuring feeling that permeates this record. Joining the obvious acoustic guitar are some equally warm and soothing strings, but other than the upbeat folk rock "Strange Girl", everything is sparse and lulling, just enough to provide the intimate backdrop of a woman singing "all the confidences and affirmations I found so difficult to provide myself".

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Google Play Music | Spotify

by RaduP



Yves Tumor - Heaven To A Tortured Mind
[Psychedelic Rock | Art Rock]


The glitching opening of "Gospel For A New Century" immediately suggests that Heaven To A Tortured Mind may not be an entirely orthodox release. What comes afterwards is something of a mesh of rock, hip-hop and soul, as Yves Tumor flows above hip-hop beats, guitar riffs, brass ensembles and more, all of which coalesce into an increasingly cacophonic mixture towards the end of the song. Playing with styles is nothing new for the genre-bending Tumor, who has dabbled with noise, ambient music and pop on previous records. For their fourth record, Yves Tumor has turned towards rock, but unsurprisingly there's plenty more to Heaven To A Tortured Mind than generic alt rock. "Kerosene" features a lot of tasteful guitar soloing, but the R&B vocal interplay between Tumor and Diana Gordon and ambient keyboards add interesting dimensions to the track.

The strength of this record is how naturally the different influences are combined; rock guitar, hip-hop rhythms, soul vocals and glitchy synths all feel at home together on the short-but-sweet "Romanticist". Additionally, even the songs that feel more entrenched in a certain style, such as the funk rock of "Dream Palette" or "Asteroid Blues", possess a unique personality. Hints of Yves Tumor's history with noise music come through on tracks such as "Medicine Burn", adding a further element of chaos to an eclectic sonic palette. There really is an awful lot to digest throughout the 30-odd minutes that comprise Heaven To A Tortured Mind, but it's not delivered in a way that feels forced or obnoxious, but rather as the output of a singularly inspired individual.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Google Play Music | Spotify

by musclassia



The Echelon Effect - Drift Ten
[Post-Rock | Ambient]


The Echelon Effect is an UK solo project by David Walters that dwells within the sounds of a post-rock instrumentation for a little more than decade now. However, the newest offering Drift Ten surely isn't a classic post-rock release, but possesses a strong touch and sense of the apparent electronic input with many diverse samples. Soundwise speaking it's not an unusual combination, however this kind of complementing of all provided soundscapes on the post-rock basis may sometimes become too saturated in this sort of sonic pattern mixing (it is the matter of taste as well).

Drift Ten effort certainly provides a well-balanced interoperability of aforementioned elements. Dealing with a considerable dose of slow-paced, gentle piano and xylophone parts that infiltrate into the core of music. It turned out to be a wonderful addition that softens the ambient of the overall sound just perfectly. Even though post-rock sound doesn't have anything to do with being aggressive, heavy, raw, and so on, but rather includes occasional outburst, Drift Ten still leans more towards the ambient, dreamy side of the genre. These illuminating, comforting ten songs will undoubtedly make your mind drift away, trying to create a sense of alienation. For a post-rock/instrumental rock/ambient enthusiasts it won't be an issue to deepen into this new piece that The Echelon Effect has produced.

Bandcamp

by Abattoir



Rina Sawayama - Sawayama
[Contemporary R&B | Dance-Pop]


How can you take a retro pop album seriously if it tries to emulate the early 00s and it doesn't even have any nu metal. Thankfully Rina Sawayama's full length debut doesn't fall in that category, thus we can take it seriously. The Japanese-British pop musician previously garnered some attention with her debut EP, Rina, and now with the LP taking her other name, I'm quite concerned that she ran out of possible release names, so she'll have to adapt. She doesn't have much desire to adapt to the 2020s though, with very few songs having mostly modern sounds, most of Sawayama being closer to Britney Spears, Destiny's Child and System Of A Down than Justin Bieber or Ariana Grande. Yes, you heard that right, System Of A Down. It's only for one or two songs, but when was the last time you heard a pop musician doing a nu metal song like "STFU"?

The entire album is filled with some gloom and the identity crisis of being a Japanese person in the western world, being a child of divorce, but making sure to also glitter a huge chunk of it in chic glam. With most of the album sounding like it was produced by Timbaland (anybody remember him?), even though most of the production came from Clarence Clarity, Sawayama sounds perfectly nostalgic of those times, but doing enough to still see the music of those times through a modern lens. With most of the music world obsessed with the 80s, Rina makes us realize that goddamn, twenty years did pass since then and sounding like that is retro now. Because they don't make bangers like they used to. Oh me, oh my!

Apple Music | Google Play Music | Spotify

by RaduP



Thundercat - It Is What It Is
[Jazz Fusion | Soul]


Longtime Suicidal Tendencies bassist Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner has rather shifted focus since departing from Mike Muir's thrashers, working on a variety of projects (perhaps most notably Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly) alongside his own solo work. It Is What It Is, Thundercat's fourth solo album, was co-produced by Flying Lotus and features an array of notable guests, not limited to Childish Gambino and Lil B. This substantial array of talent has produced an intriguing collection of short-but-sweet songs, several of which run under 2 minutes, but without feeling underdeveloped. The music here is a mixtures of jazz, funk, soul and more; "Innerstellar Love" mixes ethereal keyboards, funk bass, jazzy saxophone, and dreamy vocals to produce a smooth and soothing sound, whilst "I Love Louis Cole" (featuring Louis Cole) is an uptempo, upbeat, charming track with energetic drums sounded off by a quickfire guitar solo.

"Black Qualls", featuring several guests (including Childish Gambino) brings the funk hard, and the featured vocalists make an interesting change from the smooth, 80s vibe of Thundercat's vocals. Another familiar voice that can be heard on the title track of It Is What It Is is the late Mac Miller, a close friend of Thundercat's. The death of Miller clearly influenced the writing of this record, which, despite a rather upbeat exterior and songs such as "Dragonball Durag" that deal with less serious themes, has a sadness lurking beneath. This sadness is perhaps more notable towards the end of the record, with the likes of "Unrequited Love" and "Fair Chance" (the latter of which has something of a lo-fi hip-hop vibe to it) more subdued than the bounciness of "How Sway" or funk of "Funny Thing". The declining mood of the record as it progresses gives It Is What It Is an interesting feel, as does the relatively seamless way many tracks flow together, meaning the record feels both eclectic and singular.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Google Play Music | Spotify

by musclassia



Fiona Apple - Fetch The Bolt Cutters
[Art Pop | Singer/Songwriter]


A lot of the discussion about this album centered about the score that a certain publication gave this. Good for them, but I'm not gonna feed into that. Fiona Apple is one of the most unique singer/songwriters, but also one that seems to come up with a record once every full moon. Basically for a career that's about as long as my life, this is only her fifth album, coming eight years after 2012's The Idler Wheel[...]. So whenever it does actually happen, it feels like an astronomical event. I mean I can only assume so based on the one Fiona Apple record I witnessed being released while caring about her music. And Fetch The Bolt Cutters is nice and pretty as a pop record, but damn it really doesn't sound like anything else other than Fiona Apple being most truly herself and not playing by the rules.

I don't mean to say that this album is so avantgarde that it's not recognizable as music, or that it isn't in any way conventional. I don't mean to say that it isn't either. If it's something that Fetch The Bolt Cutters doesn't feel like, it's fabricated. There's a playful sense about it, perhaps having something to do with the house-made percussion of banging on walls or floors, and it's a sense that somehow isn't at odds with how confrontationally personal and introspective this record is towards all the wrong turns and the insecurities and the awful stuff of the past, mostly involving bullies and men, sometimes both. This really is something nobody else could've made. It may be rough around the edges, but that actually makes it even more appealing. And to make matters better, with everyone trapped in their homes, what a better time to want to fetch some bolt cutters?

Apple Music | Google Play Music | Spotify

by RaduP




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



 



Written on 21.05.2020 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments

Comments: 19   Visited by: 122 users
22.05.2020 - 01:30
musclassia
I think the Nine Inch Nails artworks are the wrong way around - I remember V being white?

otherwise, one of the best months for me yet in terms of discoveries - I really like the Globular/Geoglyph, Zopp and Forndom albums, as well as the Blood Machines title track and Prisoner from Dance Gavin Dance.
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22.05.2020 - 09:21
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by musclassia on 22.05.2020 at 01:30

I think the Nine Inch Nails artworks are the wrong way around - I remember V being white?

Ah, I was only trying to see if anyone noticed ))((((
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Father: How can a picture of a field be sad without a sad person looking sad in the field?
Young Woman: That's an interesting problem. Yeah, I struggle with that.
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22.05.2020 - 11:26
silenius
Carpenter brut has been a favourite for a long time. And Zopp is frikkin amazing
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22.05.2020 - 13:27
Piledr1ver
I absolutely love this series. Thanks for keeping them coming!
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22.05.2020 - 13:42
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Piledr1ver on 22.05.2020 at 13:27

I absolutely love this series. Thanks for keeping them coming!

Thank you, we will
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Father: How can a picture of a field be sad without a sad person looking sad in the field?
Young Woman: That's an interesting problem. Yeah, I struggle with that.
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23.05.2020 - 18:42
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
Didn't even know Fiona Apple released a new album, so that's a pleasant surprise for the weekend listening roster. As well as Carpenter Brut, although I'm less partial to that project compared to Perturbator.

Forndom and Matt Elliott also sound intriguing; I'm always down for a Leonard Cohen sound-alike.
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I have no memory of this place.
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23.05.2020 - 20:43
nikarg
Mod
Written by Troy Killjoy on 23.05.2020 at 18:42

Forndom and Matt Elliott also sound intriguing; I'm always down for a Leonard Cohen sound-alike.

Forndom is really good. Haven't checked out Matt Elliott yet.
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23.05.2020 - 23:05
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by nikarg on 23.05.2020 at 20:43

Written by Troy Killjoy on 23.05.2020 at 18:42

Forndom and Matt Elliott also sound intriguing; I'm always down for a Leonard Cohen sound-alike.

Forndom is really good. Haven't checked out Matt Elliott yet.

Fix that and listen to Drinking Songs too.
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Father: How can a picture of a field be sad without a sad person looking sad in the field?
Young Woman: That's an interesting problem. Yeah, I struggle with that.
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24.05.2020 - 00:01
Nejde
Happy to see a proper synthwave recommendation here. Carpenter Brut is awesome. Other 2020 releases worth checking out are Daniel Deluxe's Exile, DEADLIFE's City of Eternal Rain and the first full length album from Turboslash, Speed. And Dance With the Dead has teased us with a three song EP called Blackout.
You really need more synthwave in this section btw
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"When you are dead, you do not know you are dead. It's only painful for others. The same applies when you are stupid." - Ricky Gervais
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24.05.2020 - 06:02
tintinb
Woah, Fiona Apple out with new album? Thanks for the update.
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24.05.2020 - 16:19
musclassia
Written by Nejde on 24.05.2020 at 00:01

Happy to see a proper synthwave recommendation here. Carpenter Brut is awesome. Other 2020 releases worth checking out are Daniel Deluxe's Exile, DEADLIFE's City of Eternal Rain and the first full length album from Turboslash, Speed. And Dance With the Dead has teased us with a three song EP called Blackout.
You really need more synthwave in this section btw


I don't know synthwave at all well, but the bits I've heard (mainly from Perturbator and Carpenter Brut), I've rather enjoyed. If there's something that's come out in the last month or so that you'd recommend, let me know and I'll check it out with the intention of writing it up for next month's article if I like it - the DEADLIFE album is probably recent enough to qualify for the May edition (and the snippet I heard just now sounds promising), but the other two from January perhaps not
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24.05.2020 - 16:39
JoHn DoE
Zopp - Zopp
Best prog album I've heard this year. Well, so far...
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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24.05.2020 - 18:19
Nejde
Written by musclassia on 24.05.2020 at 16:19


I don't know synthwave at all well, but the bits I've heard (mainly from Perturbator and Carpenter Brut), I've rather enjoyed. If there's something that's come out in the last month or so that you'd recommend, let me know and I'll check it out with the intention of writing it up for next month's article if I like it - the DEADLIFE album is probably recent enough to qualify for the May edition (and the snippet I heard just now sounds promising), but the other two from January perhaps not


Well, one recently released album that comes to mind is Team Sweatwave - Agents of S.W.E.A.T. It's a collab between Turbo Knight, YORU, Dimi Kaye, Gryff & Polemic Heart. Not to be taken seriously though because the album is inspired by energetic over the top aerobics training videos of the 80's (as stated on their bandcamp). It's just a fun album to listen to and it's VERY 80's retro.
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"When you are dead, you do not know you are dead. It's only painful for others. The same applies when you are stupid." - Ricky Gervais
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24.05.2020 - 21:05
musclassia
Written by Nejde on 24.05.2020 at 18:19

Written by musclassia on 24.05.2020 at 16:19


I don't know synthwave at all well, but the bits I've heard (mainly from Perturbator and Carpenter Brut), I've rather enjoyed. If there's something that's come out in the last month or so that you'd recommend, let me know and I'll check it out with the intention of writing it up for next month's article if I like it - the DEADLIFE album is probably recent enough to qualify for the May edition (and the snippet I heard just now sounds promising), but the other two from January perhaps not


Well, one recently released album that comes to mind is Team Sweatwave - Agents of S.W.E.A.T. It's a collab between Turbo Knight, YORU, Dimi Kaye, Gryff & Polemic Heart. Not to be taken seriously though because the album is inspired by energetic over the top aerobics training videos of the 80's (as stated on their bandcamp). It's just a fun album to listen to and it's VERY 80's retro.


Sounds interesting, I'll give it a look. Even if that doesn't work for me, I'll probably do the DEADLIFE album - I checked the first couple of songs and I liked the sound of it
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27.05.2020 - 12:42
Skyum
Really interesting that you discover psybient (or really, psydub) through Globular. Although great on his own, Globular is basically copying the style originally invented by the British producer Ott (ottsonic.bandcamp.com). Ott's first three albums are highly recommended, as well as his Hallucinogen remixes.
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27.05.2020 - 23:03
tintinb
Fiona Apple ha been one of my out of metal comforts and with her latest album she had made every efforts to bridge that gap. This new album of her is raw, avant garde, bordering industrial, sort of grungy, feminazi as well as feminist, a lot to complain about as well as be in awe of it. God, I so wished she would get back to her usual melodic self, but the fact that she gave a huge middle finger here, not only to certain social constructs but also to structural music in general, is a huge win. I miss her softy formats (paper bag, shadowboxer, limp) to the more vocal ones (sleep to dream etc) because usually the former were more melodious. The fact that the newest album was so antithetical to my own presupposition to what Fiona's newest album at her age was supposed to sound like, that my own disbelief corrugated into thinking it to be one of the greatest album ever made, in one drunken supposition.

Yet to listen the rest of Y'all's suggestions.
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28.05.2020 - 19:17
Pierre Tombale
He who liketh Carpenter Brut & Perturbator be advised to give Dance With The Dead a spin
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29.05.2020 - 11:36
musclassia
Written by Skyum on 27.05.2020 at 12:42

Really interesting that you discover psybient (or really, psydub) through Globular. Although great on his own, Globular is basically copying the style originally invented by the British producer Ott (ottsonic.bandcamp.com). Ott's first three albums are highly recommended, as well as his Hallucinogen remixes.


Listening to Blumenkraft right now, digging it a lot! I can see the obvious similarities in sound with the Globular/Geoglyph collab I listened to for this article, but I can also hear the differences - Blumenkraft seems more noticably linked to reggae/dub, whereas Messages From The Resonator has a lusher sound to me. Having said that, in listening to this album I've doubled the number of 'psybient/psydub' albums I've listened to, so very much a beginner as far as these things go
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12.06.2020 - 20:50
Heavy Metta
That Melt Yourself Down record is high on my list of top albums this year. The Dance Gavin Dance one isn't far behind that either. 'Is This It' was a big album back in the day, but I never followed The Strokes after that. The new album is great. The Forndom album is grand. The Nine Inch Nails stuff is great but I haven't been inclined to listen to it a lot tbh. The Carpenter Brut album is what you'd expect, so for me it's a little too generic (but that's expected given its a soundtrack, I guess). Watching the trailer for the film, I imagine it kick arse as the soundtrack to the film! Laura Marling, Yves Tumor and Fiona Apple albums are all ok. Thundercat's album is great, I think that'll be in my personal list of albums in 2020 as well! I have the other albums lined up to check out, but this is a good selection.
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Last Gig: Max & Iggor Cavalera (w/ Conan)
Next Gig: Parkway Drive
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