Lines In Wax

TWELVE YEARS OF UNWANTED OPINION

Month: April 2016

Acoustic Wizard – Please Don’t Sue Me Vol. 2 (2013)

Acoustic Wizard – Please Don’t Sue Me Vol. 2 (2013)

Acoustic Wizard is, perhaps unsurprisingly, an acoustic tribute band to Electric Wizard. I could never in a million years have expected this to work, but fuck, it totally does. If anything this project proves that there is real weight to the riffs that Electric Wizard have pioneered, rather than them being yet another crap band playing really slowly and smothered in distortion. I guess this is one of those things where I really can’t say that much and you just have to listen to it to believe that it actually exists. If you’re not a fan of Electric Wizard though, I would definitely give this a miss. There used to be a Bandcamp full of this shit, but perhaps Jus’n’Co (or maybe Rise Above) got to them before us and shut ’em down…Who knows? There’s always Youtube.

Waco Jesus – Filth (2003)

Waco Jesus – Filth (2003)

Filth is the second album from Texan death metal legends Waco Jesus. The fact that it shares a title with Swans’ debut is easily overlooked once you’ve gotten a good eyeful of that sleeve cover – this shit is fucking nasty. Now, death metal thrives on being offensive and sick and gory and can often be quite unkind to women (lol), but Waco Jesus are either doing an excellent job of satirising this or they seriously have a stick up their ass when it comes to females. Tracks such as “Blast You In The Face With My Semen, Blast You In The Face With My Fist” and “I Hope He Beats You” come on with a puzzling mix of snotty Anal Cunt-style offensive-just-to-be-offensive silliness and worrying misogynistic overtones. That being said, musically, Filth is rough around the edges but is a completely savage record. “Punched You In The Cunt” makes me laugh when it probably shouldn’t but it’s just brutal as fuck (more than what can be said for most death metal bore-o-zoids these days) and is easily the stand out track for me, but honestly there isn’t a bad track here. I guess if you find this shit offensive you shouldn’t really be listening to dingy underground death metal in the first place. You literally cannot argue that Filth doesn’t have it’s heart on it’s sleeve. Totes brutes, bruv. Out on Sevared Records in the US of A and Morbid Records in Germany.

John Nolan – Sad Strange Beautiful Dream (2015)

John Nolan – Sad Strange Beautiful Dream (2015)

Sad Strange Beautiful Dream is a solo album from Taking Back Sunday guitarist/backing vocalist John Nolan. I’ve been meaning to give this a listen for a while, after being a fan of Taking Back Sunday since the beginning as well as enjoying the Straylight Run project, so I thought I’d actually sit down and give it a good listen. This is a very mellow and minimalist album. I actually find it quite refreshing and laid back to listen to; it’s quite nice to get an album like that, so this is definitely an album I would turn to if I’m looking for something to put on and just chill out too. There’s quite a bluesy, maybe folkier-style sound here than what the masses would know John Nolan for and a break away from the emo/post hardcore sound those would maybe associate him with. There is definitely a few stand out moments here, especially with the quiet ballad-like number “Drinking Your Way To Confidence”; one of the album’s finest moments, and one that really showcases John as a songwriter and his comfort-ability in this style of music. Overall a great album, and one that could easily hold it’s own without the Taking Back Sunday association, if such is the case. Well worth a listen.

Merzbow – Cycle (2003)

Merzbow – Cycle (2003)

Look at all that lovely sand! Well, one assumes it’s sand – like the coloured sand you hammer into crappy glass bottles on family holidays to the beach. No? Well fuck you. Cycle is a pulsing, circular throb of a noise session, that loops and dives into waves of repetition and (yes) cycles; the palpable worm Ouroboros in wave format, writhing itself in undulations of sonic ecstasy. Yeah. At least, that is what part one sounds like. I expected more of the same from part two (because Merzbow really loves more of the same) but alas I was mistaken – part two starts with a building ambiance of muted synth noise before casually falling apart into a cacophony of what at first appears to be a succession of random sounds. What’s fascinating is, is that as the final stages of the record progress, the blips and hisses firing from all corners of the aural spectrum begin to sound like wildlife (edit: this record is rumored to include recordings of Merzbow’s personal pet chickens). It is as if you are listening to a machine simulation of the Mekong Delta at sunset, rather than a harsh noise record.

PVRIS – White Noise (2014)

PVRIS – White Noise (2014)

As debut albums go this one is certainly one Pvris can be proud of – what a remarkably strong album that could easily be a greatest hits album rather than that of a debut release, and from such a young band. Opening track “Smoke” is an incredibly good opener and one that shines through as a live set opener for the band too (which I can confirm after being lucky enough to catch them live). Some lovely sounding keys to kick off the album and a track that really shows off the power behind vocalist Lynn Gunn’s voice. It’s really hard to single out any tracks in particular from this release as it effortlessly fits and flows together as a piece so well, as also showcased in the way that the band’s videos from the release flow. However, personal favourites are “St. Patrick”, “My House”, and “Fire”. It really is the vocals that stand out on this record for me, especially the first time I heard it. It’s very easy to see from this release why this band have quickly built up a following. If Pvris can keep up with this level of quality upon future releases then they have a very successful career ahead of them.

Mr. Bungle – Disco Volante (1995)

Mr. Bungle – Disco Volante (1995)

Caustic layer upon layer. Saxaphone meets blastbeat. Noisecore meets lounge. Rumba, oompah, slide, shake, swing, mosh, grind, kill. Disco Volante; secret songs, leftfield, experimental, techno, disco, rock, electronica. Sophomore, confusion, exclamation, subtlety, song within a song within a groove within a phrase within a suite. Mr. Bungle’s second record is by far their most difficult to get into. It offers a level of inaccessibility that is surprising even for a band whose sole purpose seemed to be to experiment and push boundaries. The tracklist reveals that there are somewhere in the region of eleven or twelve songs on this record, but to me the entire thing just sounds like one trip, where, for the most part, “songs” are indistinguishable from each other as they either blur into one or are broken down into so many parts it’s hard to keep track of what is what. A perfect example would be “Carry Stress In The Jaw”, a loungy jazz number that collapses head-on into speeding thrash and irritating noise rock, before closing out completely for the geriatric-sounding waltzing of the innate “Secret Song” (which is also part of the same song). Yeah. “Desert Search For Techno Allah” and “Violenza Domestica” seem to be a ten minute suite of weird noises rather than coherent songs. In the latter, Patton yells random Italian phrases over a classico Italiano composizione (and I just racially stereotyped far worse than this track itself) before the rest of the record blurs together into a mush of spazzy outbursts and meandering background noise. Just as any hope of getting into a particular groove or nuance arises, the entire thing uproots and shakes off the previous approach, delving into something new before your tiny mind can comprehend it. Endless, morose, insane, distant. Close. In your face. Loud, quiet, fast, slow. Intense, soft, lush, abrasive. It’s like bugs crawling around inside your head it’s like bugs crawling around inside your head it’s like bugs crawling around inside your head it’s like bugs craw}}..'[[=]////////////___

Pharmakon – Bestial Burden (2014)

Pharmakon – Bestial Burden (2014)

I feel like I have an overwhelming urge to trepan my skull in order to fully envelope my conscious with the buzzing, numbing industrial stomp of Pharmakon’s “music”. I’m joking of course, but it kinda feels like the human brain alone isn’t powerful enough to digest this disgustingly intense mix of industrial, power electronics and ambience. Pharmakon is not afraid to balance the serene and low-key alongside the bashing, crashing havoc of sheer noise, and that pays off in spades on Bestial Burden. The artwork just plain creeps me out, too. Is it an autopsy? Is it a strange mediterranean salad? Is it both? Why am I hungry all of a sudden? Why are we even alive? …Anyway, I digress. Harsh noise enthusiasts are no doubt already familiar with Pharmakon’s offerings, however I would also recommend this to fans of horror movie scores, or ominous soundtracking in general. This shit is plain creepy, but it isn’t afraid to get loud either.

Strapping Young Lad – Alien (2005)

Strapping Young Lad – Alien (2005)

I was introduced to Strapping Young Lad when I was in sixth form. Angela Gossow-era Arch Enemy were touring the UK and SYL were main support, so my friend Gavin sent me some tracks of theirs over MSN Messenger (those were the days, eh?) and within seconds I was like – “errrr…fuck this Arch Enemy shite”. The first track I was sent was “Shitstorm”, track 3 off this intense, industrial, almost symphonic death metal beast (I’m just stringing words togethers as genres these days and hope that it works), and I was instantly hooked on the chaos. Devin Townsend is nothing short of a music genius, but lets not forget that the man was once a complete mess. Mix those two things together and the outcome is worryingly brutal; I genuinely fear the twisted mind who decided “Skeksis” was a good idea for a song. Gene Hoglan’s drum performance on this record is nothing short of pummelling – nonstop as if Agoraphobic Nosebleed sampled Fear Factory’s drum sounds. If I had to say one thing bad about this record is that the whole thing is a bit over-compressed, but even that kinda works with the wall-of-sound style of production that is going on. Devin and pals are now onto pastures far more progressive and calmer, but this will always be one of my absolute favourites from that ever-revolving canon of musicians. There’s so much more to this record than the “Love?” single; this is a tangled, schizophrenic, digital web of distilled hyper-speed industrial metal (kinda like Meshuggah on intra-muscular steroids and bath salts).

Weezer – Weezer (White Album) (2016)

Weezer – Weezer (White Album) (2016)

Having considered Weezer’s Blue Album a fantastic debut and one of the best of its era and genre, as well as a being a big fan of their earlier releases (yet admittedly my attention dipped somewhat in and out of Weezer’s more recent releases), I was very keen to hear if Weezer would really grab my attention with the self titled “White Album”. This is overall a very upbeat sounding Weezer album, and also one where you can hear elements of that classic Weezer sound throughout, in tracks such as “L.A Girls” and particularly “Do You Wanna Get High”, which has 90’s Weezer written all over it to me. It’s quite a strong sounding album, and I feel it flows really well. It would make a great summer soundtrack too, as all the tracks really seem to ooze that type of vibe!  I really like this album as a whole, and I think it’s one that will definitely go down well with the fans, and definitely worth checking out also if as I say your attention has kind of been lost in more recent releases. Overall a great album and a very welcome return to form!

Coheed and Cambria – Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One; Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness (2005)

Coheed and Cambria – Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One; Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness (2005)

This is a strange one: I’ve never really considered myself a fan of Coheed and Cambria – in fact, growing up alongside the “emo” trend in high school, hearing Coheed’s high-pitch croons would send shivers up my spine. But then, with Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness came a maturity that took a while to sink in, although it added a progressive element to Coheed’s already unusual sound, and made me see the band in an entirely different light. Nowadays, early Coheed stuff doesn’t make me want to vomit – I still don’t like it, don’t get me wrong – but now at least I understand it. What I don’t understand however is what the actual fuck is going on here, on this record. There is a puzzling mystery in Coheed’s approach to music. On the surface, to the casual listener, it appears poppy and catchy, but underneath that, if you dig further, there is an intense technical edge to these well-crafted tunes. Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness is an ambitious concept album that continues to unfurl the Coheed and Cambria story (I won’t go into it). You know an album is big when it doesn’t actually begin properly until the third track (the gloriously pompous “Welcome Home”). There is a smattering of Coheed classics here, from the big singles as “Ten Speed (of God’s Blood & Burial)”, “The Suffering” and “Wake Up”, through to the lesser known album tracks such as the hat trick of bangers: “Crossing the Frame”, “Apollo I: The Writing Writer” and “Once Upon Your Dead Body”. My favourite part of this monstrosity has to be the final four tracks, which should really be an EP on its own, The Willing Well Parts I-IV. This is where shit gets real; no more poppy four minuters, it’s like Rush somehow got on board for the latter half of the recording process for this album. At over seven minutes a piece, these tracks are long, meandering yet still catchy, but just plain weird. The drums are absolutely everywhere; buzzing, ticking, fluttering, hissing, with fills galore and hi-hats spasmodic. “The Willing Well III: Apollo II: The Telling Truth” is a reprise of “Apollo I: The Writing Writer” and is the best song on the record, with the closing track “The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut” tumbling in a close second. “The Final Cut” is a Pink Floyd inspired dreamer drenched in wavering organs and jagged guitar leads, underpinned by a venomous lyrical climax. Yikes. The production on this thing as well, is just perfect. Every instrument pushes through with expert clarity so big up to David Botrill who mixed this thing. Get proggy and give the entire Willing Well suite a goosey (medicinal cigarette recommended).

Torturing Nurse – Nonentity (2014)

Torturing Nurse – Nonentity (2014)

Nonentity is a grating, deafening displaying of analogue harsh noise broken down in to three consumable parts. The first part hisses and belches the way good noise should, before the second track “Abuse” provides us with a break that, in all honesty, seems to come a little bit too soon. The third part kicks back in for a final 15 minute push through a seascape of bubbling static bliss. I find myself trying to loop it over in my head, searching for patterns and meaning. But, like most harsh noise, there isn’t one. Just total sonic annihilation. And then it’s over. Nonentity comes in a really fancy DVD-sized case with full artwork and even includes a little booklet choc-full of further xeroxed imagery; a disturbing tangible accompaniment to the aural freakshow that is Torturing Nurse. There’s a ton of harsh noise out there these days, but Torturing Nurse is some of the best. Check out Palinopsia Recordings who put this release together. 

Scumpulse – Broken Reflection (2015)

Scumpulse – Broken Reflection (2015)

Scumpulse are a crusty black metal band from Edinburgh, all the way up in Scotland – that distant and mysterious land just above the flat and boring desperate shithole that is mainland England. Broken Reflection is a nifty little tape single (can’t remember the last time I saw a tape single, I’ll be honest) featuring two tracks ov blackened crust in the vein of Skeletonwitch-meets-Darkthrone-meets-Discharge (yeah that’s a subgenre of crust now, okay?). The title track is the A side here (who am I kidding, I streamed it on the fuckin’ Bandcamp page). It is the faster of the two tracks; a lovely cider-swilling pace in fact, perfect for spilling the dreaded West-Country rot all over your friends as you mosh about during good times. The second track, “Hide” is a bit slower, but a lot more nuanced, with a savage vocal delivery and even a surprise guitar solo to round things off. You can stream these lovely ditties from the band’s Bandcamp page or get your grubby tobacco-stankin’ fingers on a copy of the physical cassette, which is limited to 50 copies.

Ramleh ‎– 31/5/1962 – 1982 (1982)

Ramleh ‎– 31/5/1962 – 1982 (1982)

What I usually associate with Ramleh is an unstoppable barrage of power electronics and barked vocal eruptions. Which is exactly what we’ve got here. This does not disappoint. Catching them live with Godflesh a few years ago literally (and physically) blew me away. I am, however, pleasantly surprised by the static, choppy, experimental nature of how 31/5/1962 – 1982 starts off, which leads into a much more digestible forty minutes or so than the more Vomir-like facebash of powerful noise walls. What is on play here seems like more fun experimentation with delays, loops, basic distortions and pulsating rhythms, until the vocals kick in and destroy everything, at least. It does eventually meander into the dangerous, volatile territory of barked vocal blurs and mental sheets of noise attacks with the self-titled track, “Ramleh” and also “Deathtoll”, but on “Throatsuck” for example, the vocals are used in a much more atmospheric approach, almost like another “instrument”, if you could call it that. Despairing shit. An apparent power electronics classic, dodgy album art or no.

Martyrdöd – Elddop (2014)

Martyrdöd – Elddop (2014)

Martyrdöd are one of them crust bands that have somehow managed to partly transcend the restrictive confines of the d-beat genre and turn into a full fledged metal band in their own right. Don’t get me wrong, there’s quite a few crust bands playing these days with melodic riffs and song structures, but none quite manage to mix soaring metal melodies with messy d-beat drumming as well as Martyrdöd have. Melody has been slowly creeping into Martyrdöd’s music for quite some time, but Elddop is an extremely bold statement to the crust punk scene. It’s hard not to class this record as crust or d-beat (it even has what sounds to me like a massive black metal influence too) but I can imagine quite a few patched nonwashers blowing this off as “too soft” or something like that. Opener “Nodkanal” is just absolutely perfect – perhaps one of the best intros to any album ever, before “En Jobbig Javel” kicks off Elddop proper. The over-arching sorrow and melancholy in these weeping riffs just oozes out of the stereo, and coupled with the blasting ruckus in the background, creates the perfect balance (like when you put a blob of greek yoghurt on top of a fucking scorching chilli) of metallic sounds for my brain.