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

Written by: RaduP, musclassia, nikarg
Published: September 22, 2019

Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - August 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:

July 2019
June 2019
May 2019

And now to the music...

The Murder Capital - When I Have Fears
[Post-Punk / Gothic Rock]

The Murder Capital is an Irish five-piece based in Dublin and, along with their friends and contemporaries Fontaines D.C., they are considered the next big thing in the Irish post-punk scene. The band decided on their name after a friend of theirs suffering from untreated mental health problems took his life and their debut's title, When I Have Fears, came from a poem by John Keats. Produced by Flood, who has worked with U2, New Order, Orbital, Sigur Rós, Foals, Depeche Mode and countless others, the album was largely recorded live and the result does indeed give an indication of the band's greatly reputed live show energy.

Musically and lyrically, When I Have Fears is a reaction to the way society handles mental health issues and reflects the band's existential fears. Both the narrative and the storyline have an important role and the album has an ebb and a flow to it, mixing confrontational anger and outbursts of visceral aggression with deep, sombre and emotional moments. Incensed cuts like "More Is Less" and "Feeling Fades" are balanced by noise-lacking but passion-filled tracks such as "On Twisted Ground" and "How The Streets Adore Me Now" with James McGovern's expressive vocals reminiscing the one and only Ian Curtis. The hype is totally justified.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by nikarg

Tropical Fuck Storm - Braindrops
[Art Punk / Post-Punk]

Tropical Fuck Storm makes weird music. By now if you've spent enough time on MS in our non-metal articles, you've heard plenty of weird and Brainstorm will sound tame, but it's still tame in a very weird way in which I can't really honestly completely put a label on their quirky sound. It's not exactly post-punk, it's not exactly noise rock, it's not exactly punk blues, it's not exactly punk. You get the point. They have such a hard to define approach and it's even weirder that Brainstorm sounds tamer and more introspective than Tropical Fuck Storm previous album and debut A Laughing Death In Meatspace.

At points the album sounds closer to fellow Aussies, The Drones, with which they also share a few members, but for the most part they do stick to their angular guns. A really strong and left-field rhythm section that gets closer to the uncanny valley the more you listen to it, almost bluesy vocals, and all around album that feels like it doesn't quite belong with what we usually think rock or punk music is. Having it be more spaced out and hazy than their debut does make for a much more interesting listen in how they manage to combine the two approaches to create some genuinely emotional moments within all the uncanniness.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Cosmonauts - Star 69
[Psychedelic Rock / Garage Rock]

Cosmonauts of Los Angeles offer up a something of a combination of the stripped-down rawness of garage rock with the hazy melodicism of psychedelic rock on Star 69, which is perhaps best exemplified on opening track "Crystal". This song opens with a pleasant jangling guitar line that both calls back to 60's/70's psychedelic rock and the alt-rock sound from the 90's, the latter of which is further displayed as an influence in the vocals and primary 'are we clear, are we crystal' refrain that comprises much of the second half of the song. The more driving tempo and dirty guitar work of second track "Seven Sisters" feel even more like a product of the 90's.

This combination of two separate styles of alternative rock is pulled off successfully, with the psychedelia, most obviously incorporated on tracks such as "Cold Nature" and the lengthy centrepiece "Wicked City (Outer Space)", serves to offer an intriguing hue to a sound that is otherwise far from my particular tastes. The mid-tempo 90's-alt instrumentation and soporific vocals are far from my own personal tastes, and I must admit there were several times listening to Star 69 that I found my interest heavily waning. However, most of the songs managed to offer up something amongst the drug-tinged guitar work to keep me listening, and if the sounds I've been describing are more up your street [as a reference, I read that Cosmonauts have recently toured with The Dandy Warhols, who based off the one song I know from them ("Bohemian Like You"), aren't a long way off the sound of Cosmonauts, albeit perhaps more rocky and energetic], it may well be worth checking out.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Oh Sees - Face Stabber
[Psychedelic Rock / Krautrock]

The squeaky intro was annoying to me too, don't worry. It almost made me pass this album, hopefully it won't make you neither.

Oh Sees, or Thee Oh Sees or OCS as they used to go by, are another one of those jammy psych garage bands that put out a huge amounts of records, but in their defense they've been around since 1997. Ever since their debut in 2003, there hasn't been an year without at least a new release, so now they're up at their twenty-third. And I wouldn't have expected the band at this point to come out with an 80 minutes long krautrock behemoth, but I guess that's what happens after you tour with Aluk Todolo. Which I was also surprised to find out that they did. Needless to say Face Stabber is wild and trippy.

Built as two sides of about 40 minutes, each ending with a long cut, Face Stabber might be best listened to in two sitting. While it is extremely groovy, psychedelic and fun, it's not as groovy psychedelic and fun that it can go for 80 minutes without loosing any momentum. It does however throw solos and synth throbbings and weird vocalizations and ambient pieces and horn sections in your face so it's not like they don't make sure that you haven't gotten bored along the way, so even if you decide to go for the full experience all at once, it's still unpredictable enough to keep some of its momentum.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Föllakzoid - I
[Minimal Techno / Krautrock]

I rather like techno, but almost all my experience of listening to it is in club settings; as such, I don't have enough 'home listening' experience with the various different artists and approaches within the genre to rate an album like this within the wider context of techno. As it is, I've found I, the fourth full-length by the Chilean outfit Föllakzoid, to be an entrancing and engrossing listen, making for highly effective background music whilst working. Coming in at exactly 1 hour in length, the four tracks that comprise I (inventively named "I", "II", "III" and "IIII") are unsurprisingly gradual yet relentless in their approach, with steady bass drum/hi-hat beats and rippling electronic throbs ebbing and flowing to sustain these slowly progressing efforts through the measured emergence and decay of various synth parts, eclectic noise snippets and occasional vocal cameos.

I is described on the band's Bandcamp page as part of their attempt to fill each new album with 'longer spaces of time with fewer and fewer elements'. To this end, the opening track "I" feels like a quintessential example of stripped-down club music from my experience of techno/trance club nights, a 17-minute example in consistency, as the same drum and electro-beats, and background synth ambience relentlessly persist throughout practically the entire track, with only the array of different additional elements that briefly pop up before departing adding some variety to the track. The other tracks generally follow the same pattern - skip forward five minutes and there'll generally be the same constant base to the track, albeit perhaps with some ebb and flow in prominence. The most distinctive offering is "III", which is effectively comprised of beatless ambient noise for the first several minutes, with only some robotic vocals adding some variety, before finally a pulsating electronic beat slowly emerges just under halfway through. As I said at the beginning, I don't have enough experience with techno to be able to decipher the minutiae of the genre; as such, how Föllakzoid stand up against their contemporaries is a mystery to me. All I know is that I is subdued, subtle yet persistent, and that I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Sumatran Black - Elegy For A Lost Cosmonaut
[Space Ambient / Dark Ambient]

Elegy For A Lost Cosmonaut, between that ominous title and the grainy picture of a Soviet cosmonaut in the black of space, is clearly attempting to evoke the lonely horror of being lost in the vast cosmic vacuum. If this was the intent, the music lives up to it, a 20-minute exercise in sinister dark ambiance. The first half of the EP contains the 10-minute "The Mission", throughout which a constant base of eerie synth drone is punctuated by sinister noise samples and creepy synths that together truly portray a bleak, desolate void; this track would make a perfect soundtrack for all those 'calm before the storm' scenes in space survival horror movies.

The two songs that complete the EP, "Is This Heaven?" and the title track, are arguably less malevolent. The high-pitched sustained drones that open "Is This Heaven?", whilst not necessarily making for comforting listening, are perhaps more serene that what has come before on this record, and ultimately this track feels more like a pondering on the curious uncertainties of space, rather than fear of the black emptiness or unknown horrors that may inhabit it. The closing title track, meanwhile, almost approaches a sense of euphoria with some of the uplifting synth notes it hits, which then dissipate into suffocating noise. As a package, Elegy For A Lost Cosmonaut manages to hit many of the different tonal notes one might expect from a space ambient piece across its 20-minute runtime, reveling in the mystery and danger that our universe inspires in a lot of us.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Blanck Mass - Animated Violence Mild
[Electro-Industrial / Experimental Electronica]

Whereas Föllakzoid deliver a very familiar (to) style of electronic music, Blanck Mass is far more of a novelty to me. The pounding beats, energy, distorted aggression and dramatic synths that make up "Death Drop" combine to create a wild, blood-pumping opening track, rounded off by an infectious almost 8-bit keyboard section at the end. The following tracks pull on even more varied influences, with the glitchy repetitive vocals opening "House vs. House" paired up with some dainty piano, alongside a bouncy electronic line that slowly grows in prominence until it transitions into a full-on euphoric wave of synths that could probably make waves at Ibiza, all within the first two minutes. The variety doesn't stop there, and much like the rest of the album, "House vs. House" manages to fit a whole load more into its 8-minute runtime.

I feel like 'eclectic' isn't an unfair word to use to describe Animated Violence Mild, drawing on all types of musical influences, both from the various styles of electronic music out there and also from other sources, such as pop, hip-hop and punk. A vibrant synth-dance track such as "Hush Money" is a long way away from the mid-tempo indie-influenced "No Dice", and "Creature/West Fuqua" is a complete curveball, opening with intense synths that seem to scream some Pendulum-style drum n' bass/electronic rock is imminent, only to collapse into some lush, harp-overladen ambience accompanied by some club dancetrack-style vocals. It's a lot to take in, and as someone who can find myself rubbed up the wrong way by some of the musical styles that have been incorporated by Blanck Mass, I wasn't always overjoyed by it, but it never stayed in one place long enough to allow the less enjoyable parts to detract from the overall experience, and ultimately I found Animated Violence Mild to be a fresh and intriguing listen.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Touché Amoré - Dead Horse X
[Screamo / Post-Hardcore]

I was a bit surprised that Touché Amoré released a new album and I somehow completely missed it. It was later that I found out that it's actually a re-recording of their 2009 debut album, ...To The Beat Of A Dead Horse, since it's its tenth anniversary and all. I'm entirely opposed to re-recording albums but I find it quite redundant if the original album was perfectly alright in the first place. Even in metal's case, re-recordings of albums that had shitty production are usually less popular than the original albums themselves. But even though I would rather have had a follow-up to 2016's Stage Four, Dead Horse X is still quite a worthwhile listen.

The album itself contains both the original recording and the new recording, so it services both fans of the old record as well as folks curious for the new version. The new recording was mixed by Kurt Ballou, supposedly to match more how these songs sound like performed live in the band's more recent performances. Which also means that bits and pieces have been added to those songs, like changes to the rhythm sections, new backing vocals and so on, and the sound as a whole is a lot fuller as opposed to the raw energy of the original. So whichever you prefer, Dead Horse X packages both options for you to choose from, and with each version being just under twenty minutes, the entire thing will actually feel shorter than most albums anyway.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Electric Youth - Memory Emotion
[Synthwave / Dream Pop]

Starting off with a somewhat Carpenter Brut-esque synth line, "Life" sounds like a dream pop act having a go at the synthwave sound that has become so popular in certain circles since the movie Drive came out. A more delicate, airier version, and a relatively fresh take on this sound, "Life" is groovy and infectious, and immediately grabbed my attention. Electric Youth then threw me a bit with track 2; "ARAWA" isn't a complete sonic departure from the opener, but feels a lot more focused on the dream/indie pop side of the band, with the husky, delicate vocals taking centre stage with some poppy and hooky vocal melodies. Straight afterwards, Electric Youth head right back to the synthwave sound, with the opening of "Breathless" instantly reminding me of "Nightcall", such a prominent track in the sub-genre after its appearance on the Drive soundtrack.

Memory Emotion deftly infuses and switches between the synthpop and dream pop sounds that comprise Electric Youth's musical approach, with the aforementioned soft, husky vocals trading off effectively with the synth lines and electronic percussion that dominate the instrumental side of the band's sound. I feel like the album perhaps peaks early with "Life", easily the standout cut in my opinion, but the catchy vocal line that floats higher and higher in the chorus of "Higher" and the more melancholy, downbeat vibe of "thirteen" act as later-album highlights. Ultimately, without knowing enough about this particular field of music to know whether this approach is as unique as it sounds to me, I found Memory Emotion to a really soothing and pleasant listen, with enough pathos in some of the more mellow tracks to counteract the bubbliness of the more upbeat songs, and a really enjoyable lead singer capable of delivering vocal melodies that adeptly complement the electronic instrumentals.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Cross Record - Cross Record
[Dream Pop / Slowcore]

It's slow, it's tender, it's glitchy, it's subtle, it's still pop, but so restrained and mesmerizing. It's not called "dream pop" for no reason, but it's a lot closer to the spaced-out and anxious pop of a Thom Yorke record than a Cocteau Twins one, while still retaining a dreamlike quality. With an electronic backdrop, carefully layered to feel both very sensible and slightly dreadful, with a new sound being noticed with each repeated listen, Cross Record's third and self-titled record finds their sound at their most morbid. It's no wonder: Emily Cross has been dealing with a divorce, gotten sober and started working as a "death doula".

Her vocals still guide most of the record with their hazy and almost always out of reach feeling of dread and impending mortality. The focus on ambiance and her dreamlike vocals do make for a very hypnotic experience. The production is almost perfect in achieving that hypnotic feeling, with every sound being very clear but not losing any of its dreamlike qualities, so much so that nothing really feels of this world. Rarely have I found an album so simultaneously welcoming and unwelcoming, like it is indeed leading you and comforting you into death, or at least out of this world.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Bon Iver - i,i
[Art Pop / Folktronica]

Bon Iver have been making some of the best Indie Folk for the past ten years, but I gotta admit that I was a bit taken aback by their previous album 22 A Million, with its glitchy and experimental it was while still building around the folky sound of the previous album, but I felt like the record was more adventurous than it was well built for its new direction. And with a title like i,i and such a cover art, it was clear that the new record would take cues from 22 A Million. A few of its faults are present on i,i too, namely some of the songs feeling like they aren't taken to their full potential or the glitchy parts feeling like they don't exactly fit, but i,i is much more coherent.

This is a beautiful record, if that wasn't already expected of it, with Justin's tender voice upfront, but with a lot of the studio trickery having just enough of a presence to take the sound away from the usual folk into more mesmerizing territories. Folk instruments have more of a presence than they did on the previous record, so when combined with the electronica not everything fits its place, but for the most part it does, and when it does it feels really alluring. It feels a lot closer to James Blake's previous record, and Blake indeed does contribute to the record, as do Moses Sumney and a shitload of others, but the album never feels like it loses focus from Vernon.

Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Lana Del Rey - Norman Fucking Rockwell!
[Art Pop / Dream Pop]

Lana Del Rey has been one of those artists that had more popularity with one of the sexes than the other, so it's no surprise that I've only started paying attention to her music only due to my girlfriend being a big fan. I really enjoyed her having a quite similar stuff to all the dreamy/folky/gothic that I usually liked in singer/songwriters but taken to a more commercial and accessible sound, definitely a sound that I don't mind getting a bit more mainstream traction. Of course, I couldn't relate to a lot of the "bad girl" vibe that a lot of her earlier stuff had, and probably the part of her music that most girls actually vibed with the most. So she stayed an artist I appreciated but didn't really click with me much.

Then Norman Fucking Rockwell came. I already liked her last album, Lust For Life, though I found most of the hip-hop parts of that record really not well integrated, so I'm glad that they're no longer present on this one. Instead NFR! feels like her most emotionally mature record, and it really feels like I am listening to Lana the person and not Lana the character more than ever. A sound a lot more subdued, but still feeling very lush and dreamy, kudos to Jack Antonoff's production, with a lot of folk vibes and piano-based songs is what gives the emotion of songs like "Fuck It, I Love You" and "Hope Is A Dangerous Thing For A Woman Like Me To Have" their impact. The album is still far from perfect and some songs still feel unnecessary, but even with its flaws it still is definitely Lana's best album.

Google Play Listen / Spotify

by RaduP

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

Written on 22.09.2019 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments: 2   [ 1 ignored ]   Visited by: 110 users
22.09.2019 - 13:57
Hey, here's four other albums that I wanted to cover but was running too late to do so:

Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
24.09.2019 - 01:02
Good shit, can't wait to dive into these. My entire life's desire at the moment is to hear the new Wilderun album, but this should hold me over until then. Thanks for the post as usual.

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