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

Written by: RaduP, musclassia, nikarg
Published: 13.08.2019

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

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:

June 2019
May 2019
April 2019

And now to the music...

Kokoko! - Fongola
[Synth Punk / Post-Punk]

How often does one get to hear post-punk from Congo-Kinshasa of all places? And one that sounds so good? Well now's the chance. I hope you like your post-punk synthy and exotic, because if there's one instrument on Fongola (other than the vocals if you wanna call those an instruments) that gets most of the attention, it's the synths. Less punkish in the usual sense, but with plenty of euphoric energy and rebellious wit, this feels like a vital piece of life in one of Africa's biggest cities. There's dissidence, but there's a funky feeling of joie de vivre as well.

With the pieces of the puzzle put together in Brussels by producer Débruit, everything fell into place to make Fongola such a fun album to listen to. There's synth soundscapes, instruments that sound both tribal and digital (supposedly salvaged from junkyards) but most of all powerful vocals upon which all the energy of the album is built upon, equally punk-ish, slightly hip-hop-ish, with plenty of other voices as well. And it just sounds so good, that it feels like the party is on your street. Fun today, protest tomorrow.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Joliette - Luz Devora
[Screamo / Post-Hardcore]

Joliette is a Mexican post-hardcore band and the fun part about being a Mexican band is getting your US visa revoked and getting banned from entering the US for five years, which is exactly what happened to Joliette. Regardless, the incident did give them a bit of media attention which might have indirectly lead to me finding out about their music. And they seem to have been around for quite a while, from 2011 to be more exact, and have quite a few releases under their belt, with Luz Devora ("Devour Light") being their fourth.

And it already feels like a step forward. A bit less chaotic and punk and more thought-out and calculated, it feels somewhat closer to a progressive metalcore album but still with clear screamo and post-hardcore roots. Luz Devora does try to balance the more accessible aspects of the sound while maintaining some chaotic punk moments and clearly keeping the metalcore parts more on the core and less on the metal. And the Spanish language barrier makes the music feel more genuine and honestly hearing hardcore in other languages than English always feels weird in a good way, especially in subgenres like screamo where keeping some measure in verses isn't as important.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Spirits Of The Air - S/T
[Indie Rock / Emo]

Spirits Of The Air are a Polish indie rock band, but don't take that "indie rock" band as them sounding much like Arcade Fire or The Killers, instead they have heavy emo, post-hardcore, post-rock and math rock influence and also Polish lyrics. Like I mentioned in a previous review, I really love hearing hardcore (and subgenres of it) sang in languages other than English due to how passionate it sounds and how the language barrier makes me appreciate the distilled emotion behind it. And with it being emo an post-hardcore influenced, you can probably guess that those emotions are sadness and anger and everything in between.

The vocals are the most hardcore influenced of the bunch, but even them don't really go into harsh territories all that often, and the instrumentals even less often, with them often being in math rockier territories reminiscent at times to the Midwest scene of emo with a lot of post-rock sounds in the guitars as well. The production is still reasonably raw, especially around the vocals, but polished (haha, get it, because they're Polish) enough to make the instruments sound clear regardless, thus making it sound even more authentic and close to the 90s sounds that it takes cues from.

Bandcamp / Spotify

by RaduP

Drab Majesty - Modern Mirror
[Darkwave / Synth Pop]

Drab Majesty was initially a one-person project that emerged in Andrew Clinco's (drummer of Marriages) bedroom some time around 2011. Clinco invented and adopted the persona of the gender-unspecified Deb Demure and has been creating since the beginning a darkwave/gothic/synth-pop soundscape that takes its cues from The Cure (who else?), New Order, The Durutti Column, Felt and the like. The band's extravagant theatrical stage presence is further supported by keyboardist/vocalist Mona D. (Alex Nicolaou) and both members use white make-up and dark sunglasses to project an image that does not restrict itself in any identity box.

Modern Mirror is the band's third full-length album and walks on a similar trail to its predecessors but with a lighter and happier mood; at least musically. The lyrics retell the story of Narcissus as it is being witnessed in our modern world of dissociation, where people see themselves as merely the reflection of their digital online personality and tend to forget and dismiss their true self, which results in disjointed and warped communication and interaction between human beings. This rather depressing and pessimistic theme is paired with music that is romantic and dreamy, and although there is a very strong impression of 'been there, heard that already' throughout the album, Drab Majesty employ memorable songwriting to distinguish themselves from the countless imitators and recyclers of the goth fathers and the synth icons of the '80s.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by nikarg

2814 - Lost Fragments
[Ambient / Vaporwave]

2814, a collaboration between Telepath (the only vaporwave musician I've heard of) and HKE, have stated that they aim to focus on "the surreal qualities of vaporwave" with this project. As someone whose only reference point for 'vaporwave' is one song I've heard long ago from Telepath, the most striking difference between his solo and collaborative music is the far more ambient and abstract approach on Lost Fragments, with the smooth synth-lounge vibes replaced with relentless waves of background ambient synths, through which faint, repetitive, hypnotic beats and electronic motifs drift formlessly.

At an imposing 75 minutes, this is a very gradual album, almost having a time-lapse vibe on its longer tracks as the persistent repetition develops and morphs at a near-glacial pace (see track 3, 遠い将来で失). In general, the music has a very strong soundtrack vibe; I could see this very easily fitting the quieter, more melancholic sections of a cyberpunk movie/anime, in contrast to the bombast of somebody like Perturbator, whose pulsating energy matches the urgency of clear influences such as Akira. Lost Fragments also functions as very effective background music, with the pleasant synths and patient musical progression effectively filling the silence without ever approaching the level of variation or intensity that could be considered distracting. As a more focused listen, however, the length and relative monotony means that I can only imagine it having a very selective appeal.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Thom Yorke - Anima
[Glitch Pop / Ambient Pop]

You may have be familiar with Radiohead and if you're not a plebeian who only listens to "Creep" you may know how dark, uneasy and eerie a lot of their catalog is. So here we have the third album (fourth if you include the recent Suspiria soundtrack) from Radiohead's frontman, Thom Yorke, ready to distill the feelings of paranoia and anxiety into a glitchy ambient pop form. Take pop very lightly here, this is definitely not music with commercial appeal, with its heavy mood focus being mostly suited for soundtrack use.

And the mood that the album creates is very subtly dystopian with a very dreamlike feeling, a quiet dreamlike one at that. The vocals and the deceptively simple beats take turns at being in the forefront, with their minimal and repetitive nature, which don't really go far from what we've heard from him, but they sound more tender and more dark and honestly more engaging that his previous solo work and even some Radiohead albums. Even though the minimal sound does feel like less full in sound that a Radiohead record, this is definitely Thom Yorke most complete album to date.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

CFCF - Liquid Colours
[New Age / Jungle]

Liquid Colours is made up of 15 tracks, but effectively blends together into what feels for the most part like a single continuous song. The first half of the record involves the combination of jungle/drum n' bass breakbeats with New Age dreamy electronica, before the record focuses more on the New Age side in the second half. Across this first half, as the drums relentlessly power forwards and the synths ebb and flow, various near-indistinguishable melodic motifs make transient cameos before making way for other, very similar bits to replace them. The second half shares many of these elements, but expands the variety somewhat, with more changes in pace and the inclusion of more distinctive elements, for better or worse (for example, the babbling vocals on "Oxygen Lounge" fall very much in the latter category, delivering a level of irritation that is impressive from what is otherwise an incredibly serene album).

Liquid Colours has been described by Mike Silver (also known as CFCF) as an experiment in satirizing corporatized jungle/drum n' bass, a further extension of the progression of jungle from a product of disaffected lower-class youths to a level of commercialism he feels betrayed the genre's roots. It takes inspiration from, and effectively replicates, the type of bland elevator music/music on hold that combines the drumming style of these genres with inoffensive, soothing synths, and in doing so successfully embodies its intended goal as "a journey into a dreamworld of pure consumerism". Within this context, I wonder whether the more irksome moments, such as the aforementioned vocals on "Oxygen Lounge" or the oscillating sound effects midway through "Healing Kurage", are intended to be bothersome; however, leaving the deliberateness of these choices aside for now, the remainder of this album adeptly embodies the uncontroversial, easy-listening pleasantness it seemingly both abhors and aspires towards.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Yuna - Rouge
[Contemporary R&B / Nu-Disco]

This is the fourth international studio album of Yuna since she moved from Malaysia to L.A., and it's also the first one where most of the folkish influences are completely gone in favor of a modern and somewhat alternative R&B sound. Sounds like a bummer? Maybe, but on its own feet Rouge is a damn great R&B album. Though a lot of the thing that would've made her Malaysian origin evident are stripped (sans that one song sang entirely in Malay), the result is a lush and smooth and oozes of her personality.

From the mix of influences, from nu-disco to hip-hop to smooth jazz to neo-soul, to the mix of guests, from Tyler, The Creator to G-Eazy to Little Simz, Rouge never feels overly commercial or like it sacrifices sincerity. Which is made even more powerful by Yuna's sultry and velvety vocals to perfectly tie all of the above together. Though some of the songs are uneven, as a whole Rouge feels very moody and personal and also very confident. Plus, how many great pop albums by Malayans do you know?

Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Como Asesinar a Felipes - Naturaleza Muerta
[Avant-Garde Jazz / Experimental Hip Hop]

Como Asesinar a Felipes (CAF for short) are a Chilean group with a sound that, at its most reductive, could be considered a combination of hip-hop and jazz music, with smooth saxophone/flute (depending on the song) and slick jazzy rhythms underlying the hip-hop-derived turntable scratches, as well as the rapping that makes up the majority of the vocal presence on this album. However, although a new name to me, CAF have clearly managed to establish a certain reputation, as they managed to secure several guest musicians on this album, most notably Chino Moreno of Deftones, whose gentle vocals on "Disparan (Fill The Skies)" effectively trade off with the rapping to make this track a clear highlight of Naturaleza Muerta.

Beyond the rap/jazz foundations, CAF have certain tricks up their sleeve to add further variety during the ~25-minute runtime, effectively including semi-ambient background keyboard sections (see "Ha Vuelto a Pasar"), numerous vocal samples, and trip-hop influences, most notably on "Dias Oscuros", whose guest vocalist Camila Moreno (no idea if related to Chino in any way) has a slightly Bjork-ish sound to her voice. In addition, a prominent feature of the album is the arrangement of the tracklist - only tracks 2, 4, 6 and 8 would be considered complete 'songs', and are sandwiched by interlude tracks of 1-2 minutes in length. These interludes have typically been recorded in such a manner as to mimic a classic 'old-timey' sound, with vinyl crackle and deliberate sonic imperfections. Despite the merits of these tracks, it does mean that there are less than 20 minutes' worth of 'actual' songs, making Naturaleza Muerta an intriguing and engaging, but ultimately brief experience.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Wreck And Reference - Absolute Still Life
[Experimental Rock / Post-Industrial]

Wreck And Reference was already hard to define in their goth mix of electronics and noise rock and bits of post-metal, constantly changing their sound from album to album and never sounding like anyone else completely. With music that was always made with vocals, drums and samples, this time they seem to cut most of the analog sounds out and made an album that sounds viscerally digital. With noticeable processing on the vocals as well, it feels as bleak as computer processing could ever feel. Absolute Still Life is indeed, very very bleak.

The feeling I'd associate most with Absolute Still Life is numbness, with a lot of the focus on heaviness and harsh vocals being replaced by meditative atmosphere and quiet poetry. Indeed this is an album where not a lot of things actually happen but it still weighs a lot through sheer bleakness. Some of the vocal processing makes the vocals a bit hard to tell apart through the significantly louder "beats", but one really doesn't need to understand all of the lyrics to properly get the feel of the album. And speaking of the instrumentals, even with the extreme digital focus, they sound human at heart.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Jesca Hoop - Stonechild
[Indie Folk / Chamber Folk]

Ah, yes, finally some sweet ethereal sounding folk. With five albums worth of experience in being a folk musician and a few kids worth of experience in being a mother, Jesca Hoop presents us a few of the less glamorous and pleasant sides of motherhood, in an album named after the exhibit of a calcified fetus that a woman carried inside her for about a decade. Sure, this isn't the only theme of the album, and Stonechild is certainly not an album where the bulk of the album is focused on the poetry.

There is plenty to appreciate about the album other than the lyrical themes, like Hoop's soothing vocals, the way the production makes the finger-plucked guitars feel so dreamlike and some of the psychedelic and British folk inspired moments in tracks like "Old Fear Of Father" or "Footfall To The Path", which creates a very ethereal feeling to a relatively dark album. It may not be in my service that I appreciate a genre known for being the medium of transmitting olden stories for exactly the other things about it, but if you're one to appreciate folk for what it is, there's plenty to appreciate here.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Jesca Hoop

by RaduP

Purple Mountains - Purple Mountains
[Indie Rock / Alt-Country]

We usually try to publish reviews as close as possible to an album's release date, but things get in the way and some delays are inevitable, but it's this one in particular would've been a pretty different review had it been published earlier. This would've been just David Berman of Silver Jews fame return to music with a new project after 10 years of silence, one full of witty sadness and black humor. Instead all of the "All my happiness is gone"s and all the "things have not been going well"s get a whole different meaning when David committed suicide less than a month after the album's release. I felt heartbroken after just getting into his music, so I can't imagine what it was like for some original Silver Jews fans.

With a less indie sound than Silver Jews but with just as strong of a country sound, perhaps closer to some 70s soft rock, Purple Mountains sounds very upbeat and chill if you don't take the lyrics into consideration, with Berman's voice sounding convincingly warm, but lyrics like "You see, the life I live is sickening" and "The light of my life is going out tonight / Without a flicker of regret" aren't very subtle. What should've been a man channeling his failures into art to get some emotional catharsis turned out to be a portrait of a man wallowing in the last miserable days of his life so it would feel very inappropriate of me to recommend this album as a good album. Part of me wished I wrote this review earlier so I wouldn't have this burden. I'm sorry.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify by RaduP

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

Written on 13.08.2019 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments: 2   [ 2 ignored ]   Visited by: 77 users
13.08.2019 - 22:24

You're unstoppable man
14.08.2019 - 07:07
Written by musclassia on 13.08.2019 at 22:24

You're unstoppable man

Nothing will stop me posting anything but metal on this site
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?

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