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Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - January 2023


Written by: RaduP, musclassia, omne metallum, AndyMetalFreak, F3ynman
Published: February 11, 2023
 


Wait A Minute! This Isn't Metal! - January 2023
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:

December 2022
November 2022
October 2022

And now to the music...






Fucked Up - One Day
[Post-Hardcore | Indie]


Fucked Up appeared in the May 2021 edition of this article series with Year Of The Horse, a staggering, monolithic record with an almost inconceivable stylistic variety across its 90-minute runtime. It’s a hell of a record to try and follow up, which is perhaps why Fucked Up have spent the subsequent 18 months releasing standalone singles, live releases, and B-sides/rarities and retrospective compilations. From what I can tell, One Day is the first ‘proper’ full-length from the band since Year Of The Horse, and is very much not a case of the band trying to one-up their previous effort.

At less than half the length of Year Of The Horse, One Day is a more streamlined, focused interpretation of Fucked Up’s peculiar post-hardcore/indie/art rock stylings, perhaps a consequence of the record being conceived within a single day (hence the title). Still, this is not a one-lane record; the more typical post-hardcore energy of “Found” is at contrast to the poppier march of “I Think I Might Be Weird” and alt rock melodies in “Broken Little Boys”. Damian Abraham’s imposing ranting vocals feel more integral to the music this time around, with the exception of guitarist Mike Haliechuk’s chance to shine on vocals on “Cicada”, and Abraham’s delivery may not work for everyone, but One Day will appeal to anyone with a taste for post-hardcore on the quirkier, gentler end of the spectrum.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Polterguise - Eurydice
[Post-Hardcore | Math Rock]


It’s curious to see what has become recognized as ‘Swancore’, as Dance Gavin Dance move further away from the heaviness of records such as Eurydice. This 24-minute burst of energy is the debut ‘album’ (again, when does an EP become an album?) of Kentucky’s Polterguise, and is the latest rendition of the concept of ‘post-hardcore fused with math rock, but y’know, without becoming mathcore’. It’s not the finest entry into the Swancore catalogue, and certainly won’t convert those that have previously been naysayers, but it’s good enough to appeal to established genre fans.

The vocals might be a sticking point for some people; the screams are fine, but the nasally clean singing is a tad thin. At the very least, they deliver some decent vocal lines. However, it’s the instrumental side that is going to win over more fans; the guitars incorporate lighter post-hardcore riffing, more metallic low-end force (“Bleachbather” has a verse that could easily have been on a 00s metalcore record), and consistently elaborate rhythms and lead guitar runs. Eurydice is sufficiently exciting in its consistently frenetic delivery to sustain interest for its bitesize runtime, but perhaps there’s a bit of work needed from Polterguise to start channelling the Hail The Suns and In Angles of the world.

Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





The Murder Capital - Gigi's Recovery
[Post-Punk | Art Rock]


Post-punk is still riding the wave from the last decade, where the latter half of the decade had a huge explosion of new great bands, making some of the most exciting rock music of that era. As more time passes, it's still unclear how to define where that scene currently is. The Murder Capital arrived at the tail end of that explosion, with 2019's When I Have Fears, an album we appreciated a lot over here, and have kept pretty shush until now. Four years might not be that much for a follow-up, but Gigi's Recovery leads to some pretty high expectations for a band that didn't really get the chance to really root themselves as post-punk royalty just yet. After all, does the world really need another moody 30-40 minute post-punk record? Maybe not, but there is something about Gigi's Recovery that might hold up.

Despite having two guitarists, this doesn't feel like a very guitar centric-record. In fact, it's still the vocals, the electronics, and the drums that make the most impact, particularly the swooning and anxious vocals of vocalist James McGovern being responsible for more than half of this album's emotional appeal. The entire thing is much more moody and stripped back, but also weirdly angular instead of just straight-forward. Touches of goth rock and art rock feel more tangible than just post-punk, but also the post-punk sounds here feel closer to some of the post-punk revival bands of the early 2000s rather than those of The Murder Capital's contemporaries. I do wish some of the instruments were louder, because the album relies a lot on the spaces between them, and as fun of a vibe as that is, I wouldn't have minded a bit more bite to contrast the introspection.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Samtar - Shadow Of The King’s Charade
[Progressive Rock]


musclassia's pick


A testament to man’s ability to produce music quickly when not having to work around other people’s schedules, one-man project Samtar has managed to release at least one new full-length album every year since debut record Plotting Against Reality dropped in 2020. It’s the kind of prolific activity that one could imagine would result in diminishing returns, but while I’ve not listened to any of the first few records from Samtar, they’d have to be pretty spectacular for Shadow Of The King’s Crusade to represent diminishing returns, as this is a very solid modern prog album. A prog rock album that occasionally teeters on the edge of, and is inspired by certain bands within, prog metal, Shadow Of The King’s Crusade is full of personality and charm.

One apparent influence might be Rishloo, as “Cool To Me” has a similar energy to its quirky chorus as said band; The Mars Volta may also have some influence. Arguably the most obvious comparison to make with Shadow Of The King’s Crusade, however, is Caligula's Horse, partly because Samtar’s voice has more than a hint of Jim Grey to it, but also musically the heavier moments of this album that flirt with metal (such as the rocking conclusion of “The Fool” and full-on metallic “Lost Vision”, overlap with Caligula's Horse’s musical range. However, there’s more than a few surprising musical twists and turns in this album, from the ska rhythm underpinning “Echoes From Across The Sea” and the jangly funk/alt opening of “The Fool” through to bluesy solo in “You Bleed” and rockabilly drive of “Wild Boys”. The end mix is really fun and characterful; if he’s still got this many good ideas five albums in, Samtar’s got every reason to keep pumping the albums out at the current rate.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Atsuko Chiba - Water, It Feels Like It’s Growing
[Psychedelic Rock]


musclassia's pick


It’s funny that I can spend numerous editions bemoaning the unoriginality of the post-rock scene, yet feel far less inclined to throw similar accusations at psychedelic rock, a genre twice as old as post-rock. I guess there’s an inherent variety to how exactly bands try to be psychedelic while making rock that avoids an excess of repetition. There are some elements of Water, It Feels Like It’s Growing that feel intimately familiar, between the balance of riffs with texturing and the echoing effects on the vocals, but this isn’t an album that is inclined to musings on what is reminds one of. The Montreal quintet (who appear to lack a member titled Atsuko Chiba, or even anyone from Japan) explore rock structure to embrace both the free-spirited and the languid, and both the heavy and the delicate.

“Sunbath” kicks off the album, and while it does share some degree of lineage from indie music with Sunbather, this is far gentler and more contemplative than Deafheaven’s blackgaze great work. The steady, ominous nature of “Sunbath” is the platform from which the likes of “So Much For” and “Shook (I’m Often)” can advance into funky or moody alt territory. There’s an inherent obtuse aura surrounding Water, It Feels Like It’s Growing, yet it’s not a record that shies away from hints of heaviness when called upon. “Seeds” is a protracted, atmospheric endeavour that exhibits hints of both the band’s psych-rock and post-rock influences, subtle tremolos sitting alongside imposing synth lines and tastefully layered guitar arrangements; Atsuko Chiba have a compelling understanding of how best to utilize the talents of their various multi-instrumentalist members for textural and depth purposes.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Black Sky Giant - Primigenian
[Instrumental Stoner Rock]


The End Of Days Pilgrimage did not mark the end of this band's career. The Black Sky Giant has returned one year after its last great release. What can we expect from this new instalment? Well, much of the same: instrumental psychedelic stoner rock. While their style is by now familiar, it's always a pleasure listening to their lovely crafted musicianship. It's not just mindless noodling – one senses deep, provocative emotions behind every buzzing guitar note. Somehow the riffs are able to exemplify both a sombre vibe and a catchy attitude that relaxes and excites the senses simultaneously.

The band's motto that appears on every album booklet is: "In the twilight of time, the giant will soar through the black skies of eternity, telling stories to come". This element of storytelling is bolstered in this newest release by including some accompanying written text (although it's never spoken in the songs). These give a bit of background about the setting of the album, which seems to concern itself with exploring ruins of "the ancients, the primigenians" — hence the title of the album. With only a few clues about "the sea of infinity", "the huge original skulls", and "the primordial wonder, the source of the purest knowledge, the great hall", Black Sky Giant let the listener's imagination run its course, guided by the band's hypnotizing soundwaves.

Bandcamp

by F3ynman2000





Earth - Even Hell Has Its Heroes (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
[Drone | Psychedelic Rock]


A new Earth album dropping on the very first day of the year should be cause for much discussion, and definitely something that would generally get a main page review, but Even Hell Has Its Heroes lies in a weird spot not only being a soundtrack to a documentary, a documentary about the band itself, while also a documentary that hasn't yet been released. Though I will definitely watch the accompanying documentary when it is available, right now this soundtrack lies a bit naked without the thing that it is supposed to act as a soundtrack to. Soundtrack albums are generally a bit more inconsistent because their flow is thought in regards to the flow of the visual media rather than the flow of the album itself, so Even Hell Has Its Heroes does suffer quite a bit from that. But that out of the way, how do Earth soundtrack their own story?

Surprisingly, as inconsistent as it is, it does manage to capture quite a bit of each point in their career. Stripping the sound even further to recapture some of their older droning sound in addition to the more psychedelic cuts. There's a touch of ambient Americana permeating the entire thing, from the oomph of "The Dark And Bloody Ground"'s groovy riffing to "No Ponderable Fire"'s powerful feedback to "16 Tracks And Not Gonna Make It Home Tonight"'s eerie darkness. But even with the original pieces, it is still the two versions of "The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull" that really struck with me, one live and larger, and one dub and even more elegant with its instrumentation. There's definitely a sense both of looking back and celebrating and of looking forward to what Earth could still be.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Lil Yachty - Let's Start Here
[Neo-Psychedelia | Psychedelic Rock]


Ok, ignore the awful AI art for one second. Lil Yachty is a mumble rapper, or at least he was the last time I checked. I can't say I really kept up with him or any of the "Lil" rappers since around 2017, and I was only just surprised to see Yachty last year suddenly releasing a short meme song called "Poland" of all things. But forget all that. Let's Start Here is such a baffling detour from a man I never expected to really take seriously ever. In short, this is a psychedelic rock album, among other things. Sounds like something you'd have on your bingo card, or having bad memories from the last time a rapper tried to do a rock album, but what is amazing about Let's Start Here is that despite its absurd existence, it does seem like something that wasn't made on the fly but something that had a lot of work put into with some understanding of the original sound.

Calling it a "psychedelic rock" sound is a bit reductive, not only because a lot of the producers and guests involved come from the synthpop and neo-soul and indie pop worlds, whereas the psychedelic rock side often seems closer to how Funkadelic approached the jammy sound rather than something more stoner rock-ish. This thing is full of warm synths and fuzz and trippy effects, and the latter especially kinda explains why it makes some sense that a mumble rapper would try this sound, because the autotuned vocals shows that it can be recontextualized into this psych sound. I'm not sure how much of this album working as well as it does is the credit of the collaborators, but Yachty here does seem to have some genuine interest in the sound and is willing to do some homework in how to approach the sound. Even if some moments don't get as well as they should, I'm still in awe at this thing's existence.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





XL Life - The Boogie Down South
[Grime Punk | Hardcore]


Of all rock music styles, rap’s overtures with punk have arguably been the most consistently fruitful. Both genres place an emphasis on passionate lyricism, and both have the capacity for aggression. One derivative of note from hip hop is grime, which emerged from London, just like many of the leading punk bands. Perhaps it was therefore inevitable that a grime punk fusion would emerge one day, and with the emergence of acts such as Asteroid Boys and Bob Vylan, that day has already come. A former frontman of Asteroid Boys, Phillip ‘Traxx’ Davies, is now continuing to explore injecting rap into hardcore punk with XL Life, whose debut record The Boogie Down South also features a guest appearance from Bob Vylan.

Instrumentally, XL Life are very much a punk band; they don’t quite have full-on hardcore punk aggression, but The Boogie Down South clearly incorporates aspects of hardcore, and there’s no hip-hop beats or production to navigate here. It is principally through Traxx that the hip hop influences come through, but even if his flow is most akin to rap, the aggressive delivery that occasionally borders on screaming is still very much of a punk persuasion. At 28 minutes long, The Boogie Down South is brief and to the point; the longest track here is “Baby Steps”, and the verse by Bob Vylan on this otherwise still very punky track is one of the few moments of notable stylistic departure on the record. Still, there is enough exploration within the confines of punk (from hardcore to the more classic 70s iterations) to maintain a degree of variety across the tracklist.

Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Anti-Flag - Lies They Tell Our Children
[Punk Rock]


Perennial firebrand punks Anti-Flag return with their thirteenth offering of scathing sociopolitical commentary by way of pissed off punk rock. While the band have been on a roll since signing to Spinefarm Records, Lies They Tell Their Children is a rare mis-step and one of their weaker efforts in over a decade. While still worthy of a few listens, the album is nothing the band haven't done before.

"Victory Or Death" is another rousing call to arms, while "Work & Struggle" is another 'take no prisoners' polemic that is as relevant as ever. However, the bounty of guest appearances are rarely utilised beyond brief cameos, feeling like missed opportunities rather than meaningful additions, with the likes of "Imperialism" and "LAUGH.CRY.SMILE.DIE" feeling like a spot had to be made to fit in their appearance for the sake of it. No song is particularly bad, it's just that Lies They Tell Our Children doesn't hit the heights the band have recently shown they are capable of hitting with consistency.

Apple Music | Spotify

by omne metallum





Iggy Pop - Every Loser
[Garage Rock Revival]


Every Loser is the nineteenth studio album by the seemingly ageless American rock legend Iggy Pop, an album featuring an extraordinary line-up of guest contributors that includes Chad Smith as drummer and multi-instrumentalists Josh Klinghoffer and Watts, as well as Jane's Addiction members Dave Navarro, Eric Avery and Chris Chaney, Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard, and drummers Taylor Hawkins (RIP) and Travis Barker.

Every Loser is an album which shows the real wild one doing what he's done best for decades, churning out classic rock anthems and getting those stadium filled audiences going wild; this album does just that, taking a trip down nostalgia lane. Perhaps there are signs that Iggy has slowed down in later life, as this album isn't completely his old classic punk rock material, featuring several slower rock ballad type songs, but amazingly he shows he still has enough in the tank to keep his 75-year-old crazy self going.

Apple Music | Spotify

by AndyMetalFreak





John Cale - Mercy
[Art Pop | Electronic]


Speaking of old influential 60s musicians still making music, here's John Cale, most known for his work with The Velvet Underground, and also subsequently acting as a session musician extraordinaire for Nico, Nick Drake, The Stooges, and also starting a solo career that had some pretty well-received albums in the 70s, but that hasn't really recovered from the last high point of the 1990 Songs for Drella collaboration with Lou Reed. That's more than 30 years of John Cale still making music but to no wide acclaim, so it's not like Mercy is some huge comeback, it's just that this time it might be worth more than a glance. I will have to admit that I haven't dived into much of Cale's work outside of the albums I already specified, and even a lot of those are more of a passing memory, so contextualizing Mercy is a bit tough.

Mercy is much more electronics-focused than I remember Cale's art rock being, which does pretty much mean that the "art rock" label is void here. I was never that big of a fan of Cale's vocals, and it doesn't change here either, but the work he does on the instrumental ambient electronics feels somewhat similar to what Brian Eno would do while also expanding in some interesting directions. Perhaps what is more interesting about Mercy is its roster of guest performances, from Laurel Halo to Weyes Blood to Animal Collective, and the electronics feeling simultaneously old timey while also seemingly understanding that their appeal may never be as strong as they are now, in the age of moody alt R&B, synthwave, bedroom pop etc. The only thing that it's really missing is a sense of urgency, something to make it more than cool and to actually compete with the Blackstars and the You Want It Darkers out there.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Nicole Dollanganger - Married in Mount Airy
[Singer-Songwriter | Slowcore]


I'm a big fan of slowcore, but I can agree that it's pretty hit and miss due to, as the name implies, being slow, in addition to being sparse and repetitive. But when done right, the moody lethargy can be quite entrancing. I came upon Married in Mount Airy not really knowing who Nicole Dollanganger was, and if you asked me, I would've guessed this was a debut album by someone pretty young. Well, actually she's been at it for nearly a decade. Ok, maybe I was wrong about that, but there's a very youthful vibe that still permeates Married in Mount Airy, despite, you know, having "Married" in its title. So maybe it's more like mom slowcore? What really set me off was how sweet and high pitched Nicole's voice sounds, which obviously is something that takes center stage in a singer/songwriter album.

The voice was a bit unexpected for me, with how childish it sounds, and along with the very moody music alongside it, I can't help but imagine this as something like Gen-Z kids-these-days slowcore, even though the person who made this is older than me. It's definitely a vibe album, but it's one that I seemingly can't completely get into. It is ethereal and whooshing and sweet and all that, and I love some of the moments where the usually folky acoustic guitar instrumentation gets into something a bit more lively with guitar feedback and pianos, but as a whole I feel like I'm missing the appeal here. A lot of the record's strengths lie in its lyrics, which are mature and vivid, but the whole thing feels too lyrical to be moody and too monotonous to be engaging.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





J. Wiegold - Norfolk Serpent
[Chamber Folk]


There's something very endearing when the album's page thanks "everyone who saw me singing into a microphone in a forest looking very silly and didn't interrupt". Indeed there is something intrinsically silly about Norfolk Serpent, something a little bit tongue-in-cheek, especially as the album starts with a song called "The Life and Opinions of the Last Enby on Earth". But that is not opposed to the fact that Norfolk Serpent is a very emotionally touching piece of folk. J. Wiegold is a musician I've encountered before in projects like the dream pop Alphabet Holds Hostage and the post-rock Swallowtail, both of them already revealing a keen sense of the more ethereal side of life, but it is only recently that Wiegold started releasing music as a solo artist under their name, with two albums in 2022, and Norfolk Serpent seems to already enjoy a less muted reception.

Most folk albums, especially of the singer/songwriter kind usually have the vocals as the centerpiece, something louder or at least equally loud compared to the instrument(s). Here, the soft quiet vocals still serve pretty much as a centerpiece, but I'd argue they're definitely quieter than the acoustic guitar. There's an ambient appeal, as well as a slightly psychedelic one, to the way the album is mixed and how stripped back it is. Originally meant as more of a packed dream pop record, the guitar harmonies do still keep some of that sense of grandeur, but they're subdued to being pretty and only quietly intricate. The delicate singing works really well on top of it, and I can only imagine how silly it must've looked recording that in a forest.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Parannoul - After The Magic
[Shoegaze | Indie Rock]


RaduP's pick


There are very few artists out there who can make music sounding raw and amateurish feel both authentic and appealing. Whether it's the way too exposed cover art or the way too reverby production, there's something about the way Parannoul operates that makes this feel compelling rather than lazy. Even when compared to other pseudo-collective members like Asian Glow and sonhos tomam conta (whose collaboration you can also find in this article), there's something very wholesome in the entire presentation, something that makes the project get away with putting "Magic" in its album title. Just like To See the Next Part of the Dream before it, After The Magic is a pretty sizeable album, at nearly one hour of runtime, but it is packed with wholesome distorted sounds to last for its entire duration.

Though the distortion and the reverb threaten to be quite overwhelming at times, After The Magic rarely feels like it's trying to be aggressive in its sound, rather just trying to push the impact of its strong emotional core. The mix of shoegaze-ish production with plenty of electronic embeddings and a lot of classical instrumentation, from chimes to strings to pianos, make for a sound that's equally as uplifting as it is melancholic. The expanded sound palette is one of the album's strongest points, and how it can convincingly shift its momentum from its quiet to its loud and impassioned moments, and even through its slightly awkward moments (especially vocally). Compared to its predecessor, the less abrasive sounds do lead to something much closer to indie rock or post-rock, but with a more mature touch in terms of songwriting that feels like its justifying its runtime way better this time around.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Asian Glow & Sonhos Tomam Conta - Dreamglow
[Shoegaze | Screamo]


The last few years saw the rise of a sort of "collective" of internet shoegaze emo artists, one that we have covered already in various editions, with South Korea's Parannoul and Asian Glow, and Brazil's Sonhos Tomam Conta (also the related Moondaughter project) all bursting onto the scene in 2020, but making a splash with the trio of To See the Next Part of the Dream, Cull Ficle, and Hypnagogia in 2021, while also collaborating on the Downfall of the Neon Youth split in that same year. Each of them have also released a new album since (and you'll find Parannoull's in this very edition), and Parannoull and Asian Glow have collaborated on the Paraglow EP last year, so it only makes sense that there will be further collaborations within this circle, now in the form of an actual full length.

Sonhos Tomam Conta was already the most "metal" of the bunch, hence why one of the main tags I used was screamo, but one can find bits of post-metal or blackgaze within their usual sound as well as their contribution to this collaboration. The harsher sides blend somewhat decently with Asian Glow's noise pop leanings, but this is a release that's a pretty overwhelming listen texturally. The drums crash in a very artificial way, covered by swoon of wall-of-guitars shoegaze and ambient synths in an aggressively atmospheric sound. The screamo vocals and the cleaner emo ones don't always work that well in tandem with one another, nor do most of the album's elements a lot of the time. A lot of Dreamglow feels like it's trying to push the boundaries of emo into even more jangled and dissonant sounds, and only time will tell whether this will be remembered as messy or visionary. I, for one, am carefully optimistic.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Sightless Pit - Lockstep Bloodwar
[Dub | Industrial Hip Hop]


Sightless Pit originally emerged as a three-way unholy union of Lee Buford (The Body), Dylan Walker (Full Of Hell) and Kristin Hayter (Lingua Ignota). However, in the time since the project’s debut in 2020 and their new release in 2023, Hayter appears to have exited the building, as the Sightless Pit Bandcamp now introduces them as a duo consisting of Buford and Walker. Intriguingly, given the bands/projects that each individual made their name in, the departure of Hayter seems to have shifted Sightless Pit’s, erm, sights away from metal, as the noisy, abrasive metal-bordering industrial electronica of Grave Of A Dog has been replaced by a more muted dub style on Lockstep Bloodwar.

Despite losing Hayter, Lockstep Bloodwar actually has more personnel involved than its predecessor, as the majority of tracks feature guest vocalists; these range from Madeline Johnson (Midwife) and Full Of Hell’s Spencer Hazard to some perhaps less expected names, including Frukwan (Gravediggaz) and the recently departed Gangsta Boo (Three 6 Mafia). While Lockstep Bloodwar is less abrasive than Grave Of A Dog, it’s not necessarily easy listening; the trancey nature of the title track is twisted by the noisy production and Walker’s muted screams, while Low Orbit takes classic Nine Inch Nails in a more distorted direction, Hazard’s screams trading off with Frukwan’s flows. Even songs featuring musicians more renowned for quiet, understated material, such as Midwife’s “Resin On A Knife” and “False Epiphany” (featuring Claire Rousay), have an unsettling darkness to them, the former having a hint of Mezzanine-era Massive Attack taken in a more sinister direction and the latter punctuating its relatively ambient backdrop with some harsher sound effects. The vocal cameos are as effective as they are diverse, with Gangsta Boo’s verse on the trap-heavy “Calcified Glass” slotting in seamlessly alongside Walker’s screams and YoshimiO’s own contributions. All in all, I’d say there’s plenty to praise in the direction Walker and Buford have taken Sightless Pit with this sophomore release.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia




18 Slashes - Jawnnobyl
[Drum & Bass]


With the PlayStation 1-style cover art, it will come as no surprise that Jawnnobyl owes a lot to video games; 18 Slashes describes it as ‘a soundtrack for a not so fictional game’, in which John Noble (get the pun?) gains superpowers from toxic waste and tackles an intergalactic conspiracy. Sounds like it would be a fun game, and Jawnnobyl would make a suitably fitting backdrop to futuristic vehicle shenanigans and alien combat. Unsurprisingly for a drum & bass album, Jawnnobyl is a constantly up-tempo affair, but a fairly texturally mellow one as well, serene synths and throbbing electronics filling out these tracks.

“The Jawnesys Explosion” kicks off with a voiceover sample aiming to outline the setting of this experience, before locking into the first barnstorming beat of the record. Despite the speed across this album, there’s no real abrasion or vulgarity on the electronic side; most of the ambient layering is on the more uplifting side, and while there’s wub-wub bass throbs rumbling around the album, they’re never intrusive; the more prominent electronics are the higher-pitched leading synths, whether skittish, as on “The Jawnesys Explosion” and “Traffic Stop Fight At 1PM (Eternal)”, or more measured, such as in “Jabronis From Mars”. I know there’s a fair few synthwave fans among the Metal Storm user base; Jawnnobyl is the perfect record for those interested in branching out into other electronic music styles.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Ladytron - Time's Arrow
[Synthpop | Dream Pop]


I could go and do my best and try to sell this album to you, dear reader, but all of that would fail when compared to the fact that Hideo Kojima posted about listening to it on Twitter. That art intersection aside, I do enjoy quite a bit of Ladytron myself, having already reviewed their 2019 self-titled comeback record, an album that unexpectedly also sported drum performance by Igor Cavalera. Time's Arrow sports no such weird lineup connection, but it does seem to have a pretty special place in Ladytron's discography due to a change in sound, which isn't something you normally expect from bands more than 20 years into their career, but the world is on its head and Time's Arrow is Ladytron's most ethereal album to date.

On one hand, one could head shoegaze influences in some moments of albums like 2005's Witching Hour, but these were never so wholeheartedly embraced like they are here. Sure, the sounds are much closer to dream pop and ethereal wave than just shoegaze, but there's a pretty whooshing sensation to how the vocals sound and how the progressive electronica tinged synths interact with one another. The synths, in addition to sounding very 70's Berlin School inspired, also can border on video game soundtrack-y (is that what got Kojima?), creating a pretty unique sound for a Ladytron record. I do have my gripes with the production, especially with how awkward the drums sound, and overall feeling like the band is a bit out of lane, and with the album being pretty frontloaded it does lead to sounding more interesting in concept than in execution. I am curious to see if the band can actually push this sound to work for them better than it does here, because this is very intriguing.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Aiming For Enrike - Empty Airports
[Ambient | Electronic]


musclassia's pick


The last time Aiming For Enrike appeared in Wait A Minute! That’s Not Metal!, Covid was still only a background concern and these articles hadn’t yet reformatted. Through the years, Music For Working Out has retained a fond place in my mind when looking back at past editions, even being used by myself as a reference point for similar albums with the same kind of playful electronic rock approach, so I’ve been keen to hear more from the Norwegian duo; however, time has changed us all, and seemingly it has changed Aiming For Enrike, as Empty Airports is a very different proposition to Music For Working Out.

Empty Airports is a fitting title for this album; the relatively sparse soundscapes of several of these songs offer the kind of subdued melancholia one can imagine a weary salesman stuck travelling endlessly between quiet airports during graveyard hours. It’s not strictly ambient; “Empty Airports Pt. 2” is certainly muted, but with subtly nostalgic synth layers, understated electro-beats and delicate guitars. It’s a big tonal shift from Music For Working Out, but it’s an impressively well-executed reimagining; the music finds a fine balance between warm, pleasant calm and the kind of wistful sense of longing for nothing in particular that inspires emotions that are strong, yet difficult to process. The three-part title track is the clear standout portion of Empty Airports, but the 12-minute, liveliver “Feel No Threat/Absent Lovers” serves as a nice bridge between what was and what now is, while “Slopes” injects some 80s nostalgia into an ambient IDM framework.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Silent Whale Becomes A° Dream - North
[Post-Rock]


As much as it’s easy to be desensitized by the army of crescendocore post-rock bands with strongly overlapping styles, there are those bands out there that remind you what this genre is capable of, and Silent Whale Becomes A° Dream are very much one of those groups. They’re not the most prolific band, with only 2 full-length records in over a decade, but the sheer grandiosity of the epic compositions they put together makes those releases worth it when they come. North is not a new full-length, even if it’s long enough to be; this two track EP contains one new song, the title track, and a remastering of 2015’s standalone single “Architeuthis”, but if you’re unfamiliar with the French masters of texture and tension, this is a very good entry point.

Both songs here exceed 16 minutes, which is fairly par for the course for Silent Whale Becomes A° Dream; their songs are epic, sweeping vistas, and “North” is no exception. They’re a band that one could call ‘cinematic’, as violins add an extra dramatic tension to the elaborately layered guitar textures, which build and build, offering few let-ups across the many minutes the song runs on for. “Architeuthis” shows that this approach has remained consistent over the years, although there is perhaps an added heaviness and emotional intensity to the loudest portions of this song. With North, Silent Whale Becomes A° Dream show once again that they sit atop of the post-rock pile.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Jeffk - Tar
[Post-Rock]


It’s a risky move for anyone to be putting out anything musical titled Tar while a certain movie is lapping up the critical praise. As an instrumental post-rock band, Jeffk have an even greater challenge to make an impression with Tar. One thing they do have over many bands under the instrumental post-rock umbrella is a heavier edge; while still falling inside rock, a track such as “Fingers” has a full-blooded aura to it that draws attention, particularly during its subtly engrossing closing stages.

Slick groove is one of Jeffk’s main strengths exhibited on Tar; the likes of “Arcades” and “Lake Bled” glide along with infectious rhythm, akin to the likes of Russian Circles and When Waves Collide. As a trio, there’s room in the mix for the bass to shine, and it plays an important part in establishing the foundations of most of these songs, particularly when the guitar is off playing delicate clean motifs instead of some more muscular riffs. Ultimately, though, Tar is a very familiar album from many other artists’ work, so your mileage with it will depend entirely on your willingness to dive into more of the same.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Hammock - Love In The Void
[Ambient | Post-Rock]


Love In The Void is the kind of album that one could arguably refer to as post-rock, based on the guitar tones and dynamic contrasts employed by Hammock throughout it; however, at the same time, there is such a dreaminess and ambiance to it that it feels reductive to categorize it within post-rock. The long-running project Hammock returns after the pandemic with an album that is both hopeful yet vulnerable, and one can hear both longing and optimism for a better future in the gentle, touching soundscapes populating this record.

At 72 minutes in length, this is not a brief endeavour; Hammock immerse you fully in their delicate, floating sonic vistas, allowing the soothing ambience, sedate shoegaze and shimmering post-rock elements to intersect and intertwine. Some songs capitalize on a broad dynamic range, with the stripped-down barren opening of “Gods Becoming Monsters” contrasting with a brash post-rock tremolo conclusion, but others are more subtle in their evolution, such as the gentle, euphoric “Release”. This track features some very faint vocals adding further soaring melody to the mix; vocals are very much kept to the back of this album, but do make sparing contributions. Love In The Void isn’t an album to just pop on for a brief listen; more like a Sigur Ros or God Is An Astronaut at their more ambient, this is a record to lose oneself in.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by musclassia





Cicada - Seeking The Sources Of Streams
[Chamber Music | Neoclassical New Age]


RaduP's pick


It has been well documented that nature inspires art, and aside from human interaction it has been the most consistent source of inspiration. Here, Taiwanese group Cicada used a trek up some mountain valleys where they sought the sources of streams (as the album's name implies) where they found that it was not just a lake that acted as a source, but a more nebulous "puddles, seasonal underflow, and pores of rocks and sand". Something about that experience lead to some revelation about the mountains' connection to water and maybe also where humanity comes in, usually through logging. And, as a result we now have a 40 minutes long gorgeous classical piece about Taiwan's mountains. Even though Cicada have been around for more than a decade, I'm glad that this is the album I discovered them with.

There is something very OST-ish to the way the music here sounds, from how well the production emphasizes the listener's presence in the soundscape to how the chamber instruments flow and interplay, with plenty of moments where just the piano takes the lead. There are few pieces that can really embody "gorgeous" the way that Seeking The Sources Of Streams does, with everything from the music itself to the presentation having such a humble and vivid tendency towards immersion. The production especially deserves a lot of praise due to how it offers complete clarity to the instruments, but it leaves some echo to create some lasting presence to each of the sounds, making said immersion even more soothing. The songwriting then offers such a strong emotional impact due to how warm and uplifting the guitars, strings, pianos sound both separately and together.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Ryuchi Sakamoto - 12
[Ambient | Modern Classical]


There's something dreadful about albums that feel final even while the artist is still alive, when you hear more and more concerning health updates that makes it feel like any album could be their last. Ryuichi Sakamoto, also of Yellow Magic Orchestra was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2014, and ever since it felt like a battle against time. Soundtrack albums aside, it was 2017's Async that felt like his album to be most informed by his impending mortality. And yet, things haven't gotten better. Sakamoto got a second cancer diagnosis during the pandemic, one that escalated to stage four, so needless to say, 12 dives even deeper into the feelings of mortality of Async. Continuing in the same somber piano soundscape but with something even more disruptive, or rather something that feels more like a diary, each track on 12 is an entry on when it was recorded.

There's something very voyeuristic about 12, aside from how personal the presentation of the album is. The piano compositions themselves are pretty nice, though it's doubtful I'd have given them as much attention on their own. There's a real sense of being in that room as the pieces are being recorded, not only due to the ambient synths being obviously ambient, but mostly due to hearing Sakamoto's difficult breathing alongside. Some songs focus more on progressive electronic ambient synths rather than classical pianos, but both hitting the same haunting vibes, feeling as graceful as they are understated, 12 is more like a demo of sketches of a man who still uses music to transcend mortality. Inconsistent as it is, it achieves what it needs to achieve.

Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP





Kali Malone - Does Spring Hide Its Joy
[Drone | Minimalism]


RaduP's pick


The last I talked about Kali Malone it was about her album last year, Living Torch, a drone album that similarly dabbled electroacoustic mediums but that stood out for how it used its brevity to show that drone can be done well even in 30 minutes. So taking that as a point of reference, Does Spring Hide Its Joy is a huge huge departure in terms of runtime, being roughly ten (!) times as long of an album, basically a triple LP of two hour albums (though a lot of it is just versions overlapping). That's a lot, and just might be the longest album I ever reviewed, leading to the point where I would've written about it regardless of whether I liked it or not simply due to how much time I've already invested just for one full listen. But there's other things to set Does Spring Hide Its Joy apart aside from its length, mostly due to the fact that this is Malone's most collaborative record yet.

Though Kali Malone is still the main artist here, two more artists are credited as features (including on the album cover itself), those being celloist Lucy Railton and guitarist Stephen O'Malley (who you might know from drone daddies Sunn O)))), both of whom contribute more than just performance while still letting Malone write around their respective styles. It does make sense that this piece took shape during the pandemic, a period where everyone's perception of time melted, and as drone is the one piece of music that specifically breaks down time, where sounds just drag on and changes are only so gradual. What keeps Does Spring Hide Its Joy together are its textures and harmonies, basically the way the sound palette works together in a way where it seems like taking apart one of its three elements would've made the album fumble over, but instead it is now a meditative behemoth which is so impressive on how it manages to not lose focus over its immense runtime.

Bandcamp | Apple Music | Spotify

by RaduP




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: 9   Visited by: 119 users
11.02.2023 - 21:20
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Wasn't Caligula’s Horse once featued in MS?
Well another thing I like in this series is how many artworks there are, rare way to me see those outside metal, rock,
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I stand whit Ukraine and Israel. They have right to defend own citizens.

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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11.02.2023 - 22:44
Starvynth
i c deaf people
Staff
Written by Bad English on 11.02.2023 at 21:20

Wasn't Caligula’s Horse once featued in MS?

We will never know.
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signatures = SPAM
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11.02.2023 - 23:02
nikarg
Staff
I quite like that Nicole Dollanganger album. And I had no idea Iggy Pop had a new album out; I have to listen to it, I adore Iggy Pop. The guy is a fucking legend.
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11.02.2023 - 23:22
JoHn Doe
Black Sky Giant is great, I've listened to most of their work.
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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12.02.2023 - 07:23
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by nikarg on 11.02.2023 at 23:02

I quite like that Nicole Dollanganger album. And I had no idea Iggy Pop had a new album out; I have to listen to it, I adore Iggy Pop. The guy is a fucking legend.
it's not so good maybe to me it beats others here, but not good as his old ones. But then Iggy is name.


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I stand whit Ukraine and Israel. They have right to defend own citizens.

Stormtroopers of Death - "Speak English or Die"

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
Loading...
12.02.2023 - 07:24
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by JoHn Doe on 11.02.2023 at 23:22

Black Sky Giant is great, I've listened to most of their work.
Samtar is good, artwork made me listen it's cool music is good to.
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I stand whit Ukraine and Israel. They have right to defend own citizens.

Stormtroopers of Death - "Speak English or Die"

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
Loading...
14.02.2023 - 18:50
A Real Mönkey
Written by JoHn Doe on 11.02.2023 at 23:22

Black Sky Giant is great, I've listened to most of their work.

Definitely one of those bands I gotta stop putting off and just check out.
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"Change the world. My final message. Goodbye."

~Last words of Harambe, seconds before he was shot, according to child he shielded from gunfire
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14.02.2023 - 18:59
F3ynman
Nocturnal Bro
Contributor
Written by A Real Mönkey on 14.02.2023 at 18:50

Written by JoHn Doe on 11.02.2023 at 23:22

Black Sky Giant is great, I've listened to most of their work.

Definitely one of those bands I gotta stop putting off and just check out.

My favorite of their's is still the first one I discovered: End Of Days Pilgrimage
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15.02.2023 - 20:43
A Real Mönkey
Iggy Pop already doing better than 99% of punk music veterans: Still releasing a banger album even in his twilight years.
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"Change the world. My final message. Goodbye."

~Last words of Harambe, seconds before he was shot, according to child he shielded from gunfire
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