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Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - July 2021


Written by: nikarg, RaduP, musclassia, X-Ray Rod, tominator
Published: 15.08.2021


Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - July 2021
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 2021
May 2021
April 2021

And now to the music...






Nightlife - New Low
[R&B | Djent]

musclassia's pick


Most of the times when you come across something that ends up being the next big thing, it's already gained a lot of traction. When I first heard "New Low", I thought this might be the first time I hear something before it's exploded. Most 'new' sounds that gain real traction involve merging two existing sounds, whether it's merging black metal with soul or metalcore with Meshuggah. Could R&B and djent be the next combination that takes off? Stranger things have happened.

It is admittedly something of an exaggeration to place djent on a level footing with the other sounds here; this is first off an R&B EP, and in the case of "Lonely", there's little more to be found beyond that. However, alongside the smooth vocals and soulful hooks of frontman Hansel Romero, you get funky basslines and crunchy 8-string guitars adding a heft to the choruses of New Low's title track. The guitar work on "New Low" fluctuates between clean funk, punchy low-end grooves, and modern prog-inspired guitar leads and arrangements. Add in some trumpets, slick drumlines and an instantly memorable bridge/climax vocal line, and Nightlife leave a hell of a first impression. "All I Know" contrasts quiet, moody R&B beginnings with a big, forceful chorus and nice solo, managing to make the two extremes of Nightlife's sound feel like natural bedmates. This is only a 3-song debut EP, and it's entirely possible that Nightlife will prioritize the R&B in the future or go in a completely different direction, but in "New Low" and "All I Know", I can hear the baby steps of a fusion that could lead to something special.

Bandcamp

by musclassia





Sonhos Tomam Conta - Hypnagogia
[Shoegaze]


"This album is about me coming to the realization that I don't have many years left in my life- This is where this album stands; an attempt to recreate the colors and atmosphere of the last state of consciousness that I could take." Sonhos Tomam Conta doesn't hold back in the description of Hypnagogia on Bandcamp; this is an album made by a person very open about the mental battles they are fighting. Fittingly, the tone of Hypnagogia is melancholic and subdued; faint, hazy vocals and distant screams just about break through the ambient synths, fuzzy walls of guitar and atmospheric leads on "Alprazolam Vs. Vinho Barato Vs. 6 Da Manhã".

One feature that, whilst sitting low in the mix, differentiates this from quite a lot of other shoegaze are the frantic oscillating electronics; they fade in and out of prominence on "Lonely People In Neon Cities", regularly popping up from the walls of guitars before subsequently retreating. Beyond the unexpected, the combination of shimmering guitar tremolos, echoing vocals and overwhelming layering is well-executed, and the occasional forays towards blackgaze territory later on in certain songs ("Lonely People In Neon Cities", "That Tweet Isn't Funny Anymore", "Grape-Coloured Suicide") inject an additional intensity and power to the music. Like many shoegaze/blackgaze albums, this record is sad but also at times euphoric, and hopefully Sonhos can find some of that euphoria to keep living for in the years to come.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Lightning Bug - A Color Of The Sky
[Dream Pop]


A Color Of The Sky, says the title, as the picture beneath shows at least ten to choose from. There's also ten songs to choose from on A Color Of The Sky, but ideally you'd like all of them, as this gentle voyage of dream pop/soft rock subtly imbued with pathos will see you drift off into said sky on a cloud. The simple drums provide gentle direction to the subtle, overlapping guitars, synthesizers, flutes, and everything else that combines to make "The Return" such a relaxing treat of a song. Above it all are Audrey Kang's husky croons, wisps from said cloud that offer even more serenity.

A Color Of The Sky is an album for a quiet day in the sun; whether it's the gentle acoustic guitar strumming along on "The Right Thing Is Hard To Do" or the echoing chords of "The Chase", there's a classic hippie rock coolness filtered through a modern, sedate lens. "The Chase" is one of a couple of shorter songs on A Color Of The Sky; at 39 minutes, it's not an epic venture, but that works in its favour, as it allows the chilled vibes of Lightning Bug to remain appealing throughout. Additionally, the band slightly pick things up at times, such as with the slightly more up-tempo approach on "Song Of The Bell". Ultimately, this is easy-going, 'lay in the grass with a joint and space out' music, and it's a very good example of that music.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Adjy - The Idyll Opus (I-VI)
[Indie Pop | Progressive Pop]

musclassia's pick


I mentioned a couple of months ago when covering Manchester Orchestra's The Million Masks Of God that my relationship with indie basically depends on how much it reminds me of The Dear Hunter. Well, Adjy have matched one aspect of The Dear Hunter in putting together an epically-lengthed indie concept album, with The Idyll Opus (I-VI) smashing the 90-minute barrier across 15 tracks, 9 of which form a colossal nine-part suite, whilst the closer breaks 17 minutes. This album fully lives up to the 'opus' in its title; however, that's not just based on length, but also quality. The Idyll Opus (I-VI) doesn't overcome all of my reluctance to indie, but the unbelievable ambition of it and earnest emotion of project mastermind Christopher Noyes gets remarkably close.

There's not really enough space in 2 paragraphs to discuss this album properly. It's a concept record focusing on a multi-generational tragic story surrounding the romance of the two main characters, brought to life with a comprehensive array of different instruments (check the album credits on Bandcamp), used to bring together a staggering vision of indie imbued with pathos, not to mention the clear bluegrass and folk influences infused into the music of this Tennessee-based project (see "Where June Meets July: II. On A Road Trip That Summer's Day" and "Where June Meets July: III. at a Dance Where the Stars Cross" for fine examples). The album is arguably bookended by its finest songs, first the beautiful scene-setting of the elaborate vocal arrangements and upliftingly atmospheric instrumentation on "In Medias Res" and then the immense and epic journey that "Eve Beneath The Maple Tree" takes listeners on. There's definitely some hints of The Dear Hunter here, partially from the conceptual angle, but also in some of the vocal work and tone; nevertheless, this is well and truly its own beast. The Idyll Opus won't be for everyone (I'm still not entirely sure if it's for me), but much like Fucked Up's Year Of The Horse (covered in the same edition as Manchester Orchestra), this is an extraordinarily ambitious effort that is pulled off with truly admirable aplomb.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Morningstar Delirium - Morningstar Delirium
[Darkwave]


Colorado's metal scene has been making some interesting waves internationally in the past decade or so; Morningstar Delirium is a side-project featuring members from two of its more noteworthy acts, seeing Dreadnought's Kelly Schilling joining forces with Clayton Cushman of The Flight Of Sleipnir. There's no prog metal or black metal to be found here; if anything, the band that first came to mind whilst listening to the latter stages of "Silent Travelers" was a band that once played black metal in Ulver, but more specifically it reminded me of some of the material from Perdition City, from the trippy beats to the noise sound effects.

Like Perdition City, this is a primarily electronic album, and a moody and trip hop-influenced one at that. Schilling's soft, seductive vocals float around the muted pulses and rhythms of "Blood On The Fixture". Muted is a fair assessment of much of Morningstar Delirium; the songs evolve, gradually intensifying before taking a step back, but overall the mood here is introspective, hinting at the sinister without reverting to the intensity that Morningstar Delirium's members have explored in their main projects. "Silent Travelers"' captivating recall of Perdition City is the highlight of Morningstar Delirium for me, but the rest of the album is still well worth checking out; the more lively and gothic rock-inspired (if those two can go together) "Where Are You Going?" is a bit more scattered structure-wise, but has plenty to enjoy, whilst the potent atmosphere of "A Plea For The Stars" is insidiously engrossing. Morningstar Delirium, whilst not finalizing what exactly they're aiming for musically, exhibit a lot of promise on this self-titled debut.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Sufjan Stevens - Convocations
[Ambient | Electronic]


It was already pretty clear by now that Sufjan Stevens is a pretty versatile artist. He's mostly known for his singer/songwriter indie folk stuff, which is fantastic, but he's veered away from that into electronica/ambient/film scores as far back as 2001's Enjoy Your Rabbit. This part of his sound was either part of actual film scores, or collaborations, or made its way into acclaimed albums like The Age of Adz or The Ascension. But Convocations is not just another of Sufjan's forays into ambient. It has more in common with his 2015 album, Carrie & Lowell, because of its main source of inspiration: the death of a parent.

It's quite clear from the presentation to the tone of the album that this is a very different Sufjan than the one that released the grandiose The Ascension. Convocation is grandiose in its own way, mostly because it's more of a compilation than an actual album, since it compiles the five albums that have been released in between April and May: Meditations, Lamentations, Revelations, Celebrations, Incantations. Each of them fairly fitting titles to describe the mood of the sounds on each disk, even if there isn't that big of a distinction disk to disk. So Convocation is a two-hour-and-a-half ambient album, which makes it pretty hard for me to recommend or dissect, and the end result is pretty abstract and could be enjoyed completely disconnected from the grief that spawned it. Even if grief isn't always the main emotion being transmitted, it never stops oozing of emotion, which, I guess, is a characteristic of all of Sufjan's music.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Stahv - Cold Plunge
[Ambient Electronic]


As someone who needs to think about ideas for a long time in order to write anything worthwhile musically, I'm impressed at anyone capable of improvising something not terrible, never mind actually worth listening to. Cold Plunge, the fourth record from Stahv (a one-man project from Solomon Arye Rosenschein), is pitched in its promotional materials as a purely improvisational effort, with each song recorded in one continuous take with minimal additional overdubs. Quite how one goes about improvising electronic music like this on the fly, I don't know, but regardless of how it was made, the fact of the matter is that Cold Plunge is very much worth a listen.

The opening title track is an easy-going electronic track, a robust main beat driving the song along through uplifting layers of ambience that have a nostalgic feel to them, with a dirty bassline adding some additional depth and momentum to the track. Rosenschein describes this song as a cross of The Cure and Can; I can't say I'm familiar enough with either to comment on it, but if that mixture sounds intriguing give "Cold Plunge" a go. I personally get a bit of an I Break Horses vibe from it, although I'm unsure if that band is well-known enough for that to be a useful comparison. The same vibes cross over into the droning synth work on "A Slow Surrender", which has a bit of Boards Of Canada to it as far as the faintly uplifting, warbling sounds are concerned. In contrast, "Stealth Deception", whilst sharing a lot of the same tones as the first two songs to start with, develops into a more elaborate, noisier affair, with a mesh of dainty synth lines, droning guitar and more abrasive sound effects taking over proceedings. After the pleasantness that has preceded this, the harsher tones used, whilst still mild in the grand scheme of things, add a satisfying degree of contrast. Cold Plunge is short, running just over 20 minutes, so it's not a long journey, but it's one that's easy to slip into and that evolves in a rewarding manner as it progresses.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Raphael Weinroth-Browne - Worlds Within Live
[Modern Classical]


A one man cello project bringing some modern classical/ambient music? Sign me up for that! After listening through half of Worlds Within Live, I already knew I had to write about it on the next "Wait A Minute!" article. I'll keep it simple. This is probably my favourite record so far this year. It's that good.

What makes this one stand out? It's the conveying of emotions through the music. Feelings like: sadness, loneliness, tension, desolation, mourning and a little spark of hope all seem to have been blended in. And they are blended into the music in a spectacular fashion. Tracks flow effortlessly over into each other. Worlds Within Live is engaging from start to finish. Couple that with a simply excellent production and you've got a winner. The warm tones of the cello are pronounced whenever they need to be, but just as quickly it can be turned upside down to convey a more harsher tone.

If I'm lucky I get to hear two or three records in a year that really blow my mind. Something completely unexpected and fresh. This is one of those albums. Please, for the love of God or Satan (whichever one you prefer, I'm not going to judge) give Worlds Within Live a listen. It's absolutely brilliant.

Bandcamp

by tominator





Styx - Crash Of The Crown
[Progressive Rock | Symphonic Rock]


Styx, that's a name many prog lovers will definitely know. After almost 50 years (and 2 breakups) they are still going and have recently dropped their latest album. Crash Of The Crown is their 17th album and as you've come to expect from a band like Styx it offers an experience with some unique sounds.

Songs feel varied yet quite connected to each other in style. Actually style is probably the most important thing to talk about here. On Crash Of The Crown you will hear things that remind you of other bands. The band clearly mixed and matched a bunch of influences together. Queen, some Kansas and (even with my limited knowledge on this particular band) Allman Brothers vibes are clearly used here. However, the band also brings its own hallmarks/traditions to this new record. The harmonies and dynamics in the vocal delivery, the odd arrangements at times and that poppy flavour are present front and centre.

For sure there were some tracks that I liked quite a bit more than others, but even those weaker tracks had usually something going for them. That being said, the two very short intermissions feel a bit tagged on and don't really add a lot of substance to the record. All in all though, I can say that I did enjoy Crash Of The Crown. It didn't blow me away, but it presented a nice and (relatively) easy-to-listen-to prog experience, which left me satisfied.

Apple Music | Spotify

by tominator





Desperate Journalist - Maximum Sorrow!
[Post-Punk | Alternative Rock]


Post-punk revivalism is hardly a novelty by 2021; however, Desperate Journalist do a better job of managing to take post-punk and sound innovative than most acts I've heard. A sense of the unusual is felt early on with the opening track "Formaldehyde", with vocalist Jo Bevan finding only keyboard as company for her soothing, emotive harmonized singing. Once Desperate Journalist kick into uptempo rhythms and groovy basslines on "Fault", you can hear post-punk, but also gothic rock, alt rock and shoegaze coming together, with Bevan's excited (but not excessive) vocals and the slick bass driving everything forwards. The bass and vocals are also the key elements on "Personality Girlfriend"; whilst more subdued, this song sees parts of these different influences merge to create a simple yet effective, sad-tinged yet bouncy track.

Maximum Sorrow! overall is a compelling exercise in taking ideas from several sources and merging them to make something that feels highly familiar yet still fresh, rather than just rehashing one sound in particular. "Armageddon" combines the big fuzzy walls of guitar from shoegaze with a more Kate Bush-leaning verse, whilst "Fine In The Family" opens with big, frantic alt rock riffing before sliding into a more 80s verse. By switching so fluidly between styles from the 80s and 90s, Desperate Journalist manage to thrive by both digging into nostalgia for those periods whilst retaining their own personality.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Koreless - Agor
[Progressive Electronic]


There are some electronic artists that are capable of pumping out a new record seemingly every month. At the other end of the spectrum, you have Wales' Koreless, who took 10 years from putting out his first single and finally releasing his first full-length. It's not been a continual writing process for the record in that decade, with Koreless (aka Lewis Roberts) writing for artists such as FKA Twigs and Rita Ora; however, it's clearly been a long incubation, with Roberts himself describing its creation as a 'sickly obsession'. Unsuprisingly, the final product, whilst glitchy and off-putting at times, is highly polished. "Black Rainbow" does have scattered, glitching sound effects, but they form part of a full mix, the song's initial beat bedding in doggedly as layers of synths build, slowly, slowly, until they're almost engulfing the listener.

The feel of Agor is hard to pin down; there are songs such as "Black Rainbow" that clearly have some aspiration of being dancefloor hits, but there's also a sickly uplifting ambience to portions of this record. For all the fat synths on "White Picket Fence", the song never explodes to life, with the soprano vocals, harpsichord sounds and other effects feeling like they're building towards a drop that never arrives. As this song spill over into "Act(s)", the pulsing synths are gone, causing the other elements to collapse on themselves into something abstract. "Shellshock" similarly opens with trance synths and repetitive vocals that feel like the start of a dancefloor hit, but similarly fakes out before it can really let loose. I feel like some of the glitchier loops on Agor could be toned down; "Joy Squad" and "Frozen" border on irritation with some of the repeating, skipping samples, undermining otherwise pleasant listening. Still, I respect someone persevering for so long on something, and Agor is ultimately a worthy pay-off for those endeavours.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Amaro Freitas - Sankofa
[Avant-Garde Jazz]


On Sankofa, named after an Adinkra symbol depicting a bird flying with its head facing backwards, jazz pianist Amaro Freitas explores and pays tribute to the history of black Brazil, contemplating a return to his roots as a step in realizing true potential when moving forwards. In the song titles, there are tributes to important black Brazilian musicians in the form of "Nascimento" (named after Milton Nascimento) and "Vila Bela", an Afro-Brazilian-dominated community in Mato Grosso. Freitas' homage to this history is brought to life in the form of smooth piano-driven jazz, with the upright bass and drums in this jazz trio filled out by Jean Elton and Hugo Medeiros.

"Sankofa", the title track and opening track on the record, exhibits the strength of the interplay between the trio; in several sections, Freitas locks into a seemingly endlessly repeating motif on the piano whilst the rhythm section builds momentum, but Freitas is also capable of taking the lead with some smooth jazz playing whilst the other two fade into the background. In contrast to the sometimes muted, sometimes intense feel of the title track, "Ayeye" is vibrant and frantic, with upbeat piano melodies speeding by. Further in contrast to "Sankofa", which was mostly built around smooth meanderings or repeated motifs, "Ayeye" sees Freitas flex his skills by shooting all over the keyboard in any which direction. Some of the more exuberant improvisation on Sankofa goes beyond my tastes, but Freitas is clearly a highly versatile and imaginative pianist, and in its best moments, Sankofa is very easy to enjoy.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Naia Izumi - A Residency In The Los Angeles Area
[Neo-Soul | Funk]


This month sees a couple of interesting fusions of R&B/soul with unexpected bedmates: first Nightlife with their djenty take on R&B, and now Naia Izumi taking a smooth soul sound and running all over it with virtuosic guitar work that draws from math rock, as well as funk. Playing guitar this intricately whilst singing this charismatically, what an effort. It must make writing music easier when you can sing that well and play guitar that technically, it removes a lot of the practical limitations that could get in the way of big ideas.

The soul/math fusion isn't an ever-present feature throughout A Residency In The Los Angeles Area; the soul and funk feel like the primary features for most of the record, with Izumi's gentle crooning going well with slick funk guitar on opener "Honesty". It's a slight shame that more songs on A Residency... don't follow the lead of "Natural Disaster", as it's a fusion that feels ripe with possibilities based on that song. Still, the subtle rhythmic complexities in otherwise smooth jams such as "Voodoo" hint that further endeavours along these lines could be in Izumi's musical future, and in the meantime, fans of modern soul music are treated to a lovely singing voice and some muted but cool tracks.

Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Yoo Doo Right - Don't Think You Can Escape Your Purpose
[Psychedelic Rock | Post-Rock]

musclassia's pick


After a brief ambient introduction, Yoo Doo Right come in all guns blazing on "1N914", the first proper song on their debut record Don't Think You Can Escape Your Purpose. The big wall of cacophonic guitar and percussion makes it clearly early on that this isn't going to be a chilled psychedelic album; Yoo Doo Right take inspiration from some of the more pounding krautrock out there, wedding the frantic drum workouts and twisted song structures with noisy abrasion in its more gnarly moments.

Don't Think You Can Escape Your Purpose is a lot of fun, pure and simple. There's loud walls of noise and off-kilter psychedelic meanderings, but there's also trippy space rock chillouts, exemplified by the smooth interlude "Marché Des Vivants", and fun driving riffs such as on "The Moral Compass Of A Self-Driving Car". The title track starts off in a somewhat ambient manner, slowly building into something more intimidating, with big walls of guitar and creepy synths. You get to slide into trippy grooves, zone out to laidback meandering, and grimace at sonic violence, and all along the way Yoo Doo Right offer no let-up in quality; this is a great first album from this trio.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Tangents - Timeslips & Chimeras
[Jazz Fusion]


Timeslips & Chimeras: the '&' in the title is appropriate, as this album is actually a combination of 2020's Timeslips with six new tracks. Timeslips slipped through the cracks, but this new package gives the songs on that record a new chance to find an audience, and they deserve an audience. Tangents play a style based in improvisational jazz, but one that brings plenty of additional elements into the equation, from rock to new age and ambient music. The first few tracks see drummer Evan Dorrian get plenty of opportunity to stretch his muscles, with the drums laying a powerful and energetic groundwork for piano, synths, guitars and a whole array of different noise and sound effects to be added on top of.

Dorrian can alter his approach for the situation; after going for broke on opener "Exaptation", he takes a slightly more restrained approach on "Vessel", allowing the more ambient electronics space to breathe. He's even willing to take a more background role, such as in the whirlwind of electronics and glitching sound effects on "Old Organs". The song that may appeal most to listeners from this site is "Debris", one that uses guitar distortion and noise as a more prominent element amidst the various electronic effects and layers, really conjuring up a sense of aimless drifting of debris. I found myself enjoying the Timeslips half of Timeslips & Chimeras the most, but in general I got quite a lot out of this electronic-heavy jazz approach.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Sleater-Kinney - Path Of Wellness
[Indie Rock]


How laid-back can punk rock be before it's no longer punk rock? Path Of Wellness seems pretty intent to find that out. Sleater-Kinney were one of the biggest and best riot grrrl bands, and punk rock bands in general, with an untouchable ten year run in between 1995-2005, followed by a ten year absence before a return in 2015 with an album where that absence clearly bore its mark. Follow that up with the glossiest album and that's a recipe for punk disaster. Path Of Wellness find the trio turn into a duo with the departure of longtime drummer Janet Weiss, but also it finds them self-producing the album. So instead of a rowdy return to form, it's just here to have some fun.

Well, it's not completely un-rowdy. But somehow "punk" is no longer the first word that comes to mind even with the independent production and the intentional messiness. It's not even pop punk. Thankfully. It feels more poppy in a way that doesn't care that it ever gets ridiculous. It's not especially deep in its lyricism, feeling more like a band that already said what they had to say. It somehow feels both safe and unconcerned with its reception in a weird contradictory way. It's not like there are no interesting musical ideas here, tracks like "Tomorrow's Grave" or "Worry With You" are anything but worth ignoring, but as a whole this feels like an album where the process of making it was more important than what the end result would be, at least that's the feeling I get.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Loraine James - Reflection
[IDM | UK Bass]

RaduP's pick


IDM is pretty much known for its impenetrable abstract beats and cold mathematical precision. So what would happen if you blended that with some trap 808s, drill synths, UK bass soundscapes, and generally a lot of cues from hip-hop. Sure, glitch hop is already a thing, but Loraine James's Reflection might be one of the coldest glitch hop albums in that case. With about half of the tracks containing some guest vocals of sorts, it's easy to see just how big of a presence hip-hop has in this, even if said hip-hop has been ran through an abstract filter. But this is still first and foremost an electronica album, and Loraine and her beats deliver syncopated atmospheres pretty seamlessly.

The blend between the vocal-centric tracks (if you can call them that) and the purely instrumental ones makes it feel like a dreamlike journey through a futuristic after-party in the dead of an urban night. This is pure nighttime in its low energy form. Though the traces of deconstructed club leave some traces of the energy with with said night presumably started, Reflections feels like the space between the party and the dream. And the listener just hover through them. Rarely does IDM in any shape feel this ethereal and yet this grounded. As abstract as they still are it is the presence of vocals that keeps this grounded, especially in tandem with the trap and drill touches in the beats.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Evidence - Unlearning, Vol. 1
[West Coast Hip Hop | Boom Bap]


I don't think I have to reiterate my experience with hip-hop, but in short: enjoyable, but hard to pay attention to. I find it much easier to appreciate flows and beats than lyricism. So here we have Evidence, a name that holds some sway for the people that know him, few as they are. I have heard of him through Apothecary, our hip-hop-head-in-chief, so the name did remain in my memory. And even though I'm not as well versed in his discography as I wish I was, especially since there's 20+ years of that, but even I could kind of tell that Unlearning, Vol 1 is a reinvention of sorts. I mean, it's even in the album title.

It's not that on-the-nose about it, but there's more of an abstract avant-garde feel to it compared to the usual core boom bap sound. His flow is still the slow monotone one, but the tone of it is a lot darker, and from what I can tell, the lyricism is also darker and more personal. There's a change of personnel in terms of the usual beat producers and the guest rappers. There's more dreamlike stripped-back beats from the likes of Animoss and V Don, with some pretty good guest verses from some names I've seen gathering some recognition in hip-hop lately, like Boldy James, Conway The Machine and Navy Blue (pretty much all names I've either covered or considered covering).

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Mach-Hommy - Pray For Haiti
[East Coast Hip Hop | Abstract Hip Hop]


There's a sea of hip-hop out there, and I don't think you need me to tell you that. It seems that from all of it I find myself pretty attracted to the retro-abstract type, which is precisely what Mach-Hommy embodies. This is a Haitian-American rapper whose discography in his less-than-a-decade-long career is quite fucking voluminous. And making abstract lo-fi hip-hop and pumping out these many releases can certainly make it feel like said releases are pretty half-baked. I do get that feeling with Pray For Haiti too, and I haven't really listened to any other Mach-Hommy album to compare, but for a release that is less than 40 minutes in runtime, I don't mind that much if not all of it is completely focused.

The album is "executively produced" by Westside Gunn, which I guess means he does most of the beats, while also guesting on three tracks, so his presence is pretty spread throughout the record. Seems like the two of them make a pretty good pain in moody beats and lyricism that seems pretty sharp. Mach sparsely uses his bilingual rhymes and several samples to emphasize the main topic of the record, just in case the title of the album didn't make it clear enough. For how much hype this record received in the underground I'm torn between being excited to check out more from Mach, and afraid that the rest of his discography is even more inconsistent.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Alexis Marshall - House Of Lull. House Of When
[Industrial | Experimental Rock]


There are a lot of reasons to listen to and make music. There is music that makes you dance. Music that makes you bang your head. Music that pulls your heart strings. Music that evokes a certain context. And here comes House Of Lull. House Of When, which is music that makes you very very uncomfortable and anxious. Alexis Marshall is mostly known as the lead vocalist of Daughters, whose noise rock / hardcore has been pretty much uncomfortable and anxious itself, especially their latest album, You Won't Get What You Want. But that immediate anxiety is replaced with something more dreadful.

It's not that House Of Lull... lacks immediacy, but it's more concerned with constantly keeping the listener on a very tense edge, not really throwing any noisy riffs, but a constant noise reminding them that danger is very very near. With Alexis' spoken word approach being backed by layers upon layers of industrial noise. You can call it experimental "rock", but there is little in terms of rock structures, with everything being much more focused on layers. There's very little that compares to the constant dread of this album, but its lack of development does make this an even harsher listen.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Hiatus Kaiyote - Mood Valiant
[Neo-Soul | Psychedelic Soul]

RaduP's pick


Neo-soul is a genre that is already pretty creative, and even if it often has a pretty big emphasis on the vocals, there's a lot that goes on behind the vocals, usually with some electronica, funk, hip-hop and whatever else. That is especially true with Hiatus Kaiyote whose pretty psychedelic take on neo-soul is indeed still pretty focused on the vocal performance from the caressing vocals of Nai Palm, but they're one of the most creative bands in terms of grooves and syncopation to the point where it borders on nu jazz with tinges of funk and art pop and, dare I say, math rock?

I first got to know Hiatus Kaiyote through their 2015 album, Choose Your Weapon, an album whose cover art really didn't make me think that they're a neo-soul band. I admittedly am a much bigger neo-soul fan than I was back then, but even then I could tell that they're something else. But the six year difference shows us a Hiatus Kaiyote that is even tighter and more focused. Mood Valiant is warm, dreamlike, lush, playful, borderline tropical, extremely well-layered with some amazing performances, both vocally and instrumentally. It's a smooth ride from start to finish.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





The Mountain Goats - Dark in Here
[Indie Folk | Folk Rock]


The Mountain Goats joins a bunch of other indie bands in my list of bands with a sizeable cult following but whose popularity is still pretty restricted, and even if I did listen to a bunch of records from them I never really got into their music. I might've even skipped this album, but they had to add "Dark" in the album title, so here are, I'm giving it its due. It seems that The Mountain Goats approach to folk is quite tongue-in-cheek, and even if I don't find it as appealing as I wish it did, I can absolutely respect it. And I mean, really really respect it. Though maybe the album isn't as dark as the title would imply, the vocals and lyricism of John Darnielle have such an imposing presence that even at their most ironic they hold much sway.

Apparently the band wrote songs for this and the previous album together, with the songs that ended up here being the "wilder", "untamed" ones. I can see that, even if I didn't listen to Getting Into Knives. So even if I'm not crazy about the folk rock sound (and did I hear some alt-country?), there's a weird type of wild elegance to the songwriting here. Commanding presence aside, there is some clear effort made to make these songs exciting, even if the nocturnal feeling of the album does keep it somewhat subdued at times. Dark In Here strikes a pretty good balance between elegance and ardor, at least as much as an aging indie band can deliver. I've seen this called their best in a while, don't quote me on it as I lack the proper background, but I find that plausible.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Midwife - Luminol
[Shoegaze | Ambient Pop]

RaduP's pick


Midwife is one of the projects of multi-instrumentalist Madeline Johnston, though not the only one it seems. This one is tagged as "heaven metal", and though it's metal credential is having the droning moments sound tangentially close to Boris' softer moments, it's the "heaven" part that holds the most weight. Midwife's brand of shoegaze is heavily rooted in slowcore, making very slow minimal pop drenched in a lot of droning reverb. Calling it "pop" also feels weird because it's pop only in the most bare-bones ambient dreamlike form. You can already guess that this isn't a very happy album.

Having listened to a lot of stuff under the dronegaze umbrella, the depressing tone and lyricism of Luminol comes off as completely unsurprising. What is surprising is how much, despite said depressing tone, the album feels like a warm hug from someone that really cares about what you're going through. You can pretty much tell that Luminol is a "quarantine album", and we've been getting a fair share of those lately. Getting drowned in reverb is one of my favorite activities, but having the wall of sound be used to this effect in a way that still feels inspired is a pretty great achievement. How simple effects on guitar strums can pull so many heart-strings is honestly beyond me. But I live for it.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Natalia Lafourcade - Un Canto Por México Vol. 2
[Ranchera | Bolero]


RaduP pulled "a Cartman". He dumped this album on my doorstep to review because I'm "the token latino" of the group. Stereotypes be damned, this is gorgeous!
Natalia Lafourcade started her solo career in the early 2000s, releasing a consistent streak of albums since then. I didn't know anything about her (or that she participated in the soundtrack to the film Coco, which I haven't seen either). I admit that my knowledge of Latin American music is limited but some names from the list of guests stick out to me, like Chilean Mon Laferte and Uruguayan Jorge Drexler.

This is the second instalment of Lafourcade's mission to celebrate and showcase the rich heritage of Mexican music to the masses. As a collection of covers of old Mexican classics and her own compositions, it's impressive how well the album flows. With her beautiful and theatrical voice, Lafourcade gives a new identity to these old songs. The acoustic guitars can be aggressively sensual as well as slow, delicate and deeply intimate. The songs often reach passionate climaxes in the form of rich layers of woodwinds, strings and brass instruments that truly bring Mexico's warmth to your ears. Both volumes have pulled my heartstrings and thrown me to a pool filled with nostalgia and yearning for simpler times. Naturally I have to compare them both, as they go for slightly different approaches. With fewer but longer tracks, Vol. 2 is more eager to create a more enveloping atmosphere and focus on that rather than the larger variation of moods and instrumentations which could be found on the first part of this project. In any case, anyone slightly interested in Mexican music (or Latin American music in general) should keep tabs on Natalia Lafourcade.

Apple Music | Spotify

by X-Ray Rod




And that was it. You've made it through still alive. Congrats. See ya next month. Here's a Spotify playlist we compiled out of stuff featured here:







Comments

Comments: 10   Visited by: 90 users
16.08.2021 - 12:57
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
London leather boy was busy. Why balkan lad was on summer holiday. I like that yes was here, many old bands as yes, Kansas and so on should have own place, own article section. Maybe as split articles.
Yes has 17th, Overkill will put 20th out soon.
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Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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16.08.2021 - 18:35
doez
Hallucigenia
Written by Bad English on 16.08.2021 at 12:57

London leather boy was busy. Why balkan lad was on summer holiday. I like that yes was here, many old bands as yes, Kansas and so on should have own place, own article section. Maybe as split articles.
Yes has 17th, Overkill will put 20th out soon.

I've been browsing this website for 3 years and somehow still struggle deciphering what you say
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16.08.2021 - 19:54
nikarg
Mod
Written by doez on 16.08.2021 at 18:35

I've been browsing this website for 3 years and somehow still struggle deciphering what you say

Since I am the designated translator of BE's posts, here is my take:
"musclassia was busy and did a lot of write-ups for this article because Radu was on summer holidays. I like that Styx [he wrote Yes but he means Styx] was featured, bands like these should have their own articles here on Metal Storm, maybe as a collective one every six months, like it's done with split release articles. Styx released their 17th album, Overkill will soon release their 20th."

Better?
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16.08.2021 - 20:36
doez
Hallucigenia
Written by nikarg on 16.08.2021 at 19:54

Since I am the designated translator of BE's posts, here is my take:
"musclassia was busy and did a lot of write-ups for this article because Radu was on summer holidays. I like that Styx [he wrote Yes but he means Styx] was featured, bands like these should have their own articles here on Metal Storm, maybe as a collective one every six months, like it's done with split release articles. Styx released their 17th album, Overkill will soon release their 20th."

Better?

Perfect, thank you good sir
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16.08.2021 - 20:40
Starvynth
i c deaf people
Written by nikarg on 16.08.2021 at 19:54

Better?

Quite a good attempt actually.

But you skipped the part when he confused Kansas with almost Kansas.
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16.08.2021 - 21:14
nikarg
Mod
Written by Starvynth on 16.08.2021 at 20:40

Quite a good attempt actually.

But you skipped the part when he confused Kansas with almost Kansas.

Thanks

Do you really think he meant Texas? They are too poppy, no? Only he can clear things up for us.
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16.08.2021 - 21:31
Starvynth
i c deaf people
Written by nikarg on 16.08.2021 at 21:14

Do you really think he meant Texas?

No.
But I'm pretty sure that he doesn't know who Styx are.
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signatures = SPAM
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18.08.2021 - 23:46
Uxküll

Have a lot of listening to do, thanks for the recs.
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"Nullum unquam exstitit magnum igenium sine aliqua dementia [there was never great genius without some madness]."

Best of Metal A-Z: http://metalstorm.net/users/lists.php?user_id=158339
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22.08.2021 - 14:38
IronAngel

Midwife is new to me, nice discovery! Hiatus Kaiyote, Lafourcade, Yoo Doo Right and Sonhos Tomam Conta are on my year-end list, too. Adjy I didn't get, must be nostalgia for some indie phase I never experienced, and Sufjan is a bit of a snoozefest.

Edit: Holy shit Promise Ring is a powerful song. And Colorado is fantastic.
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31.08.2021 - 23:14
Blackcrowe

Great Post I've always waiting for it, I discovered new bands especially new prog bands

Thanks
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Six stars of the northern cross
In mourning for their sister's loss
In a final flash of glory
Nevermore to grace the night
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