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

Written by: RaduP, musclassia, Abattoir
Published: 12.01.2020

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

It's so amazing to think that we managed to do this for an entire year. Excuse us for the shorter article, but we had lives. Thank you so much to everyone involved and to you, dear reader, as well.

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:

November 2019
October 2019
September 2019

And now to the music...

Duster - Duster
[Slowcore / Space Rock]

Ok, first of all I wanna know who green-lighted this cover art and what the hell were they thinking. I almost didn't listen to this album until I realized it is the comeback album of THAT Duster. You know, the Californian slowcore band from the late 90s that released Stratosphere and then vanished off the face of the earth after another album? They seem to be one of the many bands and artists who seemed to have gained more and more recognition only posthumously, with the aforementioned Stratosphere being an album I saw quite often when searching for slowcore or post-rock or shoegaze online. And now, nearly two decades later, we have a new Duster record, and as it seems to be somewhat popular for comeback records to be, it's a self-titled.

From the gear nerds that they obviously are, Duster is more of a record about capturing emotion through tones and recording techniques more than it is about the stories that it tries to tell. Lyrics play a role obviously, but they take somewhat of a backseat with the very hushed vocals, with most of the emotions coming concentrated from the very spaced out meandering guitars. Waves and waves of guitar strums over mellow drumming and hushed vocals, so little to do so much and create some of the warmest space rock, although decidedly less spacey than the aforementioned classic record, whose name oozes of space. Duster does more than enough to feel like those two decades didn't even happen, but without feeling like they just aped their classics. They just finally got what they deserved.

Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Mono & A.A.Williams - Exit In Darkness
[Post-Rock / Dream Pop]

Even if you are just scratching the surface in regards of knowing or exploring post-rock genre, you cannot pass by the Japanese masters Mono, one of the most persuasive and influential acts on the field. In their most recent creation, their musical path has merged with the one of A.A. Williams', resulting in collaborative EP effort - Exit In Darkness - expanding the horizons of diversity even more. A.A. Williams is a solo artist, who has surfaced into the world of music and paved her way with the release of debut, self-titled EP (January, 2019). Being picked by Mono's Takaakira "Taka" Goto for this certain occasion, only proves the value and talent she possess. Both acts are coming out of not-so-different genres (post-rock / dream pop), which from this point of view makes this collaboration even more logical.

Consisting of (only) two tracks and 16 minutes in total, this possessively driven post-rock offering, being slowly poured with the prolonged, soulful sounding vocals of A.A. Williams, extracts an expansive and depressing, gentle sound. The intensity of the first, title-track grows gradually. Starting with only piano/synth and vocals, adding classic "Mono guitars" and strings, and concluding with the addition of percussion. It's quite commonly known/used pattern of the post-rock song structures. The second track floats almost entirely on the same resonating wavelength of soundscapes, blending in with A.A. Williams' graceful vocals on top. Exit In Darkness is a mini product that was more likely created as a result of the given opportunity between the both parties throughout the busy touring year, and of which collaboration could evolve into something even greater in the future. Well, just a though.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by Abbatoir

Twin Tribes - Ceremony
[Gothic Rock / Darkwave]

The regular 4/4 drum patterns, deep vocals and guitar tones of Ceremony announce early on that Twin Tribes are heavily inspired by classic Gothic rock and darkwave artists. The up-tempo nature of "Heart & Feather" would fit nicely alongside prominent hits from the earlier days of these genres, as would the slightly slower yet similar approach of "The River". The first substantial deviation from this retro sound occurs with track five, "Obsidian", a slow, plodding, moody piece that remains content to sustain its steady pace throughout. This change of pace and approach is welcome, particularly as the following track, "Fantasmas", goes right back to the 4/4 drum machine sound.

I don't have a vast knowledge of darkwave; I went to a few Goth rock club nights in the last place I was living, so learnt to recognize common features, but don't know many artists beyond Sisters Of Mercy and Bauhaus. However, I can recognize an awful lot of Twin Tribes's sound, as well as several artists I've encountered in the process of contributing to these monthly articles, from those experiences, and I'm curious as to whether the thoughts of more experienced Gothic rock fans concerning artists such as these are comparable to the opinions metal fans have towards heavily 80s-inspired modern thrash bands - is it nice to hear more of a sound you enjoy, or does the lack of originality limit its appeal? More attempts at experimentation along the lines of "Obsidian" on subsequent releases may help Twin Tribes establish a more unique identity, but for now, Ceremony is a pleasant nostalgia trip, with enough changes in pace and tone to maintain a reasonable level of interest throughout its limited runtime.

Bandcamp / Google Play Music

by musclassia

Jorge Elbrecht - Glass Coma - 002
[Synthpop / Darkwave]

The background of Jorge Elbrect is a bit of a nightmare to navigate, particular based on the peculiar blurb on his Facebook page. This odd persona appears to be matched by the music, which varies wildly in style from Coral Cross - 002, the fragmented, chaotic avant-garde metal release from earlier in 2019, to December's Glass Coma - 002, opening with the disjointed "A Mask In The Ash" before delving into a twisted synthpop sound. The vocals on "Tired Land" are from the same lineage as many classic new wave/synthpop vocalists, but the mechanical, glitching beats and menacing synths differentiate the music on this song from the legion of other 80s-derivative modern artists.

Certain songs on the album are more indebted to the sounds of decades past. "Perish" is a more conventional and danceable song, with a typical Gothic rock drum beat (think "Temple Of Love" by Sisters Of Mercy) and moody vocal hooks, and whilst the off-kilter sounds at the beginning and end of "Finale Voices" are somewhat off-putting, the core of this track is still quite familiar. Conversely, the wildly pulsating electronics of "Apparition" are derived from a completely different and far more abrasive sphere of electronic music, and "Ignite The Eyes" is a sinister, noisy take on the darkwave sound. Glass Coma - 002 is both an homage to and a distortion of the Goth rock/darkwave/synthpop alternative sounds of the 80s, enabling it to stand out somewhat against the myriad modern tributes to this bygone era.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Free Nationals - Free Nationals
[Psychedelic Soul / Funk]

I remember reading an article a while ago about the times David Bowie's or Alice Cooper's backing bands tried to release their own albums and how big of a failures those were. Cases like Bob Dylan's The Band or Neil Young's Crazy Horse seem to be more the exception than the rule. So here we have the first album of Free Nationals, who you may know as Anderson .Paak's backing band, so odds may be in their favor, especially since .Paak himself does make a guest appearance in just one song like a party crasher. But after all, it seems like Free Nationals are more comfortable showing off their skills with the spotlight on someone else.

The microphone spot is taken by a revolving cast of singers, from folks from Unknown Mortal Orchestra or The Internet, to late rapper Mac Miller, and J.I.D., Kali Uchis or T.I., and a bunch of people I don't know. The point is, the spotlight is still on whoever takes the mic, leaving Free Nationals to still sit on their spot as a backing band. Their soul/funk sound is really cool and all, and I'm glad to hear more of this stuff in 2019, but it feels more like a compilation of stuff than an actual album. The music is really laid back, which gives off a great vibe, but I just wish it was a bit flashier, I wish it would do something to slap me in the face and tell me to pay attention instead of being something I vaguely bop my head to. It's not a bad album by any margin, but it's too low-key for its own good.

Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Kaytranada - Bubba
[Alternative R&B / Synth Funk]

I remember first seeing the trippy cover art of Katranada's 2016 debut, 99.9%, and thinking "Get out of town!", and then listening to the actual thing and echoing pretty much the same feeling, as much as it was deceivingly less psychedelic than the cover art, the mix of EDM, funk, hip-hop and soul won me over instantly. In the meantime, I did see the name pop up in production credits all over the place, often in remixes, but it wasn't until now that we see it again on a record. And the magic is right back and I can't stop bopping my head. How in the world does music this quiet and low-key still not let me stay put.

There's always something going on, but it doesn't feel like it throws too much stuff at you, but it constantly builds and deconstructs beats in such a fun and distinguishable way that I can't help but love it. It's definitely one of those albums that you have to listen to with high fidelity headphones to get the full feeling. As great as the cast of vocalists is and how well they are integrated in the thing, this is clearly a cohesive and integrally Kaytranada album, with his presence still strongly felt no matter who is in front of the mic, which often hosts a lot of folks I'm not familiar with, but suddenly a very recognizable name and voice drops on the last track courtesy of Pharrell Williams.

Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by RaduP

Burial - Tunes 2011 To 2019
[Dubstep / Future Garage]

Burial is one of the foremost musicians in the British electronic music scene, although I've only previously heard the song "Loner" and his remix of Massive Attack's "Paradise Circus". After dropping two albums in the 2000s, Burial opted to stick to shorter EP releases this decade, most of which have been included on Tunes 2011 To 2019, a compilation of Burial's releases on the Hyperdub record label. Having not heard much of Burial or Untrue, I can't directly compare the music on this compilation to his earlier efforts, but a sizeable proportion of the material here appears to be more noise and ambient music-oriented than the dubstep sound on these previous albums. "State Forest" is fairly minimalist ambient music, whereas "Beachfires" and "Subtemple", whilst similarly minimalistic, are slightly closer to noise music with some of the unusual sounds that are incorporated.

Unsurprisingly, a 2.5-hour compilation of nearly a decade of individual releases has a good degree of variety, and as the record travels back in time ("Claustro" aside, the compliation is arranged in reverse-chronological order), the songs begin to feel more structured. "Young Death" has an ambient sheen, and a slightly freeform vibe to the vocals and samples, but is the first track here with a more solid underlying beat. "Nightmarket", from the same original EP, is a somewhat chaotic collage of different beats and noises, whereas "Hiders" sandwiches a retro-sounding dancefloor hit between bookending minutes of ambient noise. The scattered approach is a feature of a number of the tracks here, with the more straightforward nature of "Loner" feeling like more of an exception than the norm, with a regular consistent beat, trancey electronics and ethereal vocal samples. There's far too much on Tunes 2011 To 2019 to effectively summarize in two paragraphs, but it serves as a convenient entry point for anyone wishing to delve into the more experimental works of a seemingly increasingly esoteric icon of the darker side of electronic music.

Bandcamp / Apple Music / Google Play Music / Spotify

by musclassia

Bring Me The Horizon - Music To Listen To~Dance To~Blaze To~Pray To~Feed To~Sleep To~Talk To~Grind To~Trip To~Breathe To~Help To~Hurt To~Scroll To~Roll To~Love To~Hate To~Learn To~Plot To~Play To~Be To~Feel To~Breed To~Sweat To~Dream To~Hide To~Live To~Die To~Go To
[EDM / Glitch Hop]

What the fuck?!

Well if Bring Me The Horizon have something going with this release is that they're really not playing it safe. From the cover art, to the music to that excuse of a title. Because I have no idea who they were trying to impress, I'll actually have to assume that they went out of their own way to go as experimental as they can, and with them releasing this one as an EP despite its length of 75 minutes, that this is actually more of an outlier, as if the pop rock Amo that they released earlier this year wasn't already a divisive album. I was actually giggling inside knowing that Amo's guest lineup allowed me to add Grimes to MS. Now that I had to add Halsey too, who is laughing now? Not me.

A lot of this album is filled with collaborations, sometimes with just an artist, like the aforementioned Halsey or rapper Bexey, to full bands like metalcore outfit Lotus Eater and Yonata. This album was really damn hard to properly genre tag, because it's so disjointed and all over the place, all that I can tell you is that it doesn't sound like a Bring Me The Horizon record at all, so I can kinda respect it for that. Take the 24 minutes long "Underground Big {HEADFULOFHYENA}", whose first 5 minutes have a collaboration with a hip-hop artist and a metalcore band, which is actually interesting, but then the rest of the track is just a synth loop and spoken word ramblings from Oli Skies, which wouldn't have been that bad if it wasn't in the middle of the fucking record. What should in theory be a pretty interesting thing to witness is slightly above average "vibe" EDM at best, and completely directionless and grating at worst.

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 12.01.2020 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments: 3   [ 1 ignored ]   Visited by: 105 users
13.01.2020 - 00:12
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
What is future garage
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
13.01.2020 - 00:32
Written by Bad English on 13.01.2020 at 00:12

What is future garage

Garage from the future
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
13.01.2020 - 08:48
JoHn Doe

Twin Tribes sounds nice. Reminds me of New Order.
I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.

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