Monday, 11 December 2017

The problem with bands that have lengthy careers are that members change, the music evolves and grows. This means if you want to know what a genre sounded like you need to revisit classic albums or check out new bands....

In this case Mork have perfected the sound and spirit of classic Norwegian black metal on their new album Erimittens Dal.

It lulls you in with the opener which chugs along but from the second song, Holdere Av Fortet, it is absolutely brutal. In the best traditions this is the brainchild of one man apart from some guest vocals from Dimmu Borgir.

The energy drops a bit on the last couple of tracks but it's still a blast of pure black metal

This is a spot on homage even down to the artwork inspired from the early Burzum albums.

Definitely an early wintery present

Monday, 4 December 2017

Christmas is here and suddenly everyone wants to give you an early presents.....

First up is Attrition with their take on Silent Night. It's starts out with a cut crystal female rendition of the chorus before descending into a disturbing noisescape which sound unsettlingly like someone banging on a steel cell door. Utterly bizarre but not very cheerful

Next up Blueneck release a remix album of their last offering, The Outpost. It only really confirms that remix albums are unnecessary if the original was already brilliant and listening to the first track, From Beyond, it's clear someone in the band has a huge Bladerunner fetish

Moving on and Peter Yates (guitarist with Fields of Nephilim) and Evi Vine (vocalist for The Eden House) give us Just Like Christmas - The Stockholm mix. It's a gauzy, icy track with no real tune but at least has some festive feel in a glacial fashion

Finally, and best, is a bonus EP from Ulver of left over tracks from the Assassination of Julius Caesar album. The opening track Echo Chamber (Track of Tears) appears to be about the July 2005 tube bombings which isn't jolly but its a great track. The drums and synths are straight out of the late 80's and the biggest compliment is that this would not have sounded out of place on Songs From the Big Chair.
The other big surprise is a cover of The Power of Love by Frankie goes to Hollywood. A more stately and less vocally camp version but very true musically to the original. And when they say they will keep the vampires from your door its definitely more believable......

Monday, 20 November 2017

Highly recommended is the debut album from Tusks. Admittedly three of the tracks are lifted straight off the False EP so there's really only 7 new songs to me but Dissolve is still an amazing album...

It's all shimmering, hazy pop but with enough beats and glitches to keep thing on the edge of electronica. The vocals are buried deep in the music and it does make deciphering lyrics difficult but doesn't spoil the sound

The standout tracks are Toronto with a nagging guitar refrain at the start and drums that just appear and disappear and the title track Dissolve which sounds a very personal recounting of a relationship breakdown

Really would like to see this played live but at the moment that doesn't look a possibility...

Go discover.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

I have a wide ranging musical palette from folk to black metal, from Americana to goth but there are 3 forms of music I can't abide.... The first is the banal R&B dross that clogs up the charts and commercial radio. The second is jazz and more specifically the late night wine bar variety

Unfortunately for some of her latest album Nerina Pallot strays deeply into unpleasant area.
There are parts of Stay Lucky I can hardly listen to as it sinks to Katie Melua type depths

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Come into my Room are the worst examples and only suitable to play if you're trying to seduce a young lady (with no musical inclination) with a night cap after a good date

On the plus side the start of the album is fantastic. Juno and Bring Him Fire are some of the best tracks Nerina has recorded. Man Didn't Walk on the Moon begins like an amazing lost track from Rumours before the chorus kicks in (which wasn't a good thing)

Stay Lucky was recorded over 2 weekends by a tight knit group of musicians and it shows with a cohesive feel but it's not a patch on Sound and the Fury where she honed an albums worth of material from 12 months worth of EP's. That was widely varied in both texture and sounds whereas this is almost too homogenised

I missed that imaginative and wildly eclectic Ms Pallot.

(and the third type of music? - The Smiths. I never 'got' it and I'd rather have silence than listen to that)

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Found an envelope full of old ticket stubs for concerts that bought back some memories and also a bit sad because what with online booking and the fact most tickets are now kept by the venues its a collection that isn't going to grow soon....

Anyway below are 10 that recall some amazing nights (it's not a list of my favourite gigs ever just the ones that these tickets remind me of)

Thunder - Sheffield City Hall (06/10/1992) - A band at the absolute height of their power touring Laughing on Judgement Day

Def Leppard - Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield (06/06/1993) - One of only two outdoor gigs I've ever been to and what a line up: Terrovision, Ugly Kid Joe and Thunder supporting

Marillion - St David Hall, Cardiff (25/09/1995) - Remember waiting for the milk train at Cardiff Station while the batteries slowly died in my Walkman

My Ruin - Exeter Phoenix (14/09/1999) - One of the most intimidating front woman I have ever see, take a bow Tarrie B

All About Eve - Tavistock Wharf (03/02/2001) - Driving through the fog to see Eve play acoustic with only a few hours notice

Sisters of Mercy - Bristol Academy (22/04/2003) - Unused ticket as my darling youngest daughter decided to be born 5 days late....

The Damned - Torquay Town Hall (04/12/2003) - Hungover from a gig the night before and the bounciest floor I've ever experienced at a venue (and All Living Fear supported!)

New Model Army - Lemon Grove, Exeter (13/10/20005) - Convincing some girl I met at the gig that it was safe to wander into the mosh pit, only for the next song to be Here Comes the War and it all kicked off!!

Fields of the Nephilim - Astoria, London (24/05/2007) - Just simply the best

Acoustica Festival - Exeter Phoenix (15/09/2012) - I've enjoyed all the Acoustica gigs but watching the Smoke Fairies play ABBA at their sound check was magical

Monday, 9 October 2017

Black metal is a strange genre…. Whilst to most people is just a noise and one band/song is indistinguishable from the next there are some variations of note

Bands form the UK seem to lack that cold nihilism that the Scandinavians do so well and the music seem to be more sort of widescreen, ‘epic’ even

This is especially true of the new (released earlier this year) album from Fen. Over just 6 tracks Winter is a huge feeling album. The length of the tracks ranger from 9 to 17 minutes is part of the reason but the changes in pace, mixed with some brutal musicianship and possibly some sort of concept make it a really fascinating listen

It’s not really worth picking out individual tracks but IV (Internment) has some amazing instrumental passages and even a false ending, the switch in gear on track III (Fear) where the atmospheric intro suddenly takes off with the drums just being pummelled into submission is exhilarating

This is a very English take on black metal, more in line with Winterfylleth but there is also a bit of goth (Nephilim style) and elements of post rock (the density and atmosphere of it all)

It could do with a bit more light and shade in the vocal department to make it a truly classic album – the clean vocals are used very sparingly and you wonder if just adding an occasional female voice in there would take it to the next level  

I bought this on vinyl and the packaging is brilliant…. Double LP in translucent green to match the artwork, fully printed sleeves with all the lyrics and even bonus tracks exclusive to the vinyl. Some more established bands should take note, you can produce an amazing physical product for under £25.

Friday, 22 September 2017

It's Autumn so here come all the new releases.... Admittedly Mareidt is more a freezing winter album but timing isn't everything

On her second full length album Myrkur has really mixed things up and its very impressive. The ferocious black metal is largely gone and replaced in part by a slower grinding metal more in line with Sabbath - this is shown to great effect on the Serpent

It's produced by Randall Dunn who's previous work includes Sunn O))) and Wolves in the Throne Room and some of that influence is evident here

Elsewhere the opening track is all Danish herding calls (!) and ominous storms before Maneblot arrives in a maelstrom of vicious riffing and screams, easily the blackest metal of the album. Even then there are clean vocals and a bit of a Scandinavian jig halfway through

The duet with Chelsea Wolfe is more in line with the guests musical output but is still fantastic.

Within the bonus tracks there are a couple of real oddities.... Bornehjem is all sweet choral work whilst a seriously creepy child's voice explains why it want to hurt people. Very, very strange
At the other end of the spectrum Death of Days could easily be played on daytime radio. Its an exquisitely sung, slightly downbeat tune

Overall it's going to take a while to get my head round all the styles on show but this is an artist spreading her wings and not afraid to mix the beauty with the brutal