Lines In Wax

TWELVE YEARS OF UNWANTED OPINION

Month: May 2016

Cathedral – The Garden Of Unearthly Delights (2005)

Cathedral – The Garden Of Unearthly Delights (2005)

As far as doom metal goes, Cathedral have always been one of my favourites. They were the band that introduced me to the genre in my youth, and therefore have always occupied a soft-spot in my blackened heart. Heading up to London Forum to catch the band’s final show was something that will stick with me forever. The disbanded warriors of gloom have a varied and interesting back catalogue ranging from the downright heavy to the downright weird, and The Garden Of Unearthly Delights is about somewhere in the middle of that scale. Endtyme and The VIIth Coming saw Cathedral’s 90s experimental sound stripped right back to the brutal bare bones. Having once against mastered the medium of heavy in lieu of psych, The Garden Of Unearthly Delights sees the band beginning to re-approach their psychedelic tendencies through a far more clarified, less self-indulgent path. Stadium-fillers such as “The North Berwick Witch Trials” and “Corpsecycle” stand in stark comparison to the epic “Oro The Manslayer” or the 27-minute, obscenely progressive lurcher “The Garden”. The stunning cover painting was provided, as almost always, by the incredible Dave Patchett. The classical chaos of Cathedral album sleeves always makes for an interesting staring match as their twisted doom unfolds. Man, I miss this band.

Nunslaughter – The Devils Congeries – Volume 1 (2013)

Nunslaughter – The Devils Congeries – Volume 1 (2013)

This double CD package brings together a bunch of old splits and demos from the prolific, blackened grinding thrashers Nunslaughter, as well as a bevvy of live tracks. The splits and demos are fantastic, and I will surely review them on their own with the material from the respective splitting bands, but I just want to cast some light on this little package as I got my hands on a copy recently. Do you love Nunslaughter? Yes? Good. Do you love horrendously recorded live material? Er… Unfortunately, about a third of disc one and the entirety of disc two is nothing but awful recordings of live performances. I picked this CD up when I recently bought some second hand cymbals so I didn’t pay too much for it so I’m not particularly bothered, but don’t be fooled by the ace looking art and fancy 2 disc set. This is handy if you can get it cheap and want all the old Nunslaughter stuff in one place, but the sheer volume of crap live tracks really cheapens this package, which is a shame. Definitely for die-hards and collectors only.

The LaFontaines – Class (2015)

The LaFontaines – Class (2015)

I was recommended this band to check out, and having known literally nothing about them I was interested to hear what was going on. The LaFontaines are a very difficult band to pigeonhole; I’m finding myself presented with rapping, smooth sounding vocals, riffs, indie guitar licks, lovely guitar tones amongst really big sounding anthems. What a mental combination! On paper this shouldn’t work, it really shouldn’t… however these guys have seemed to pull it off nicely. I’m hearing multiple genres at play throughout the album – even throughout a single track! But, I’m finding it’s very refreshing to listen to something so different; something that has a surprise around every corner. The standout track on this album for me is definitely “Castles”; if I had to sum this particular track up, it sounds a mixture of all the sounds I’ve just mentioned, but with a slightly anthemic vibe, and to me, what sounds like it could be a You Me At Six or Deaf Havana-kinda sound with a cheeky rap thrown in for a good measure. I’m finding myself hitting repeat on this one. However, the track that follows, “King”, is almost straight up hip hop; such a confusing album in terms of direction and flow, and as I say, this really shouldn’t work, but I find myself quite drawn to it. I think from a marketing perspective this band has something great going on too. as they can kinda squeeze into very varied bills and lineups, and I should imagine the band draws an extremely varied fan-base too. Overall though, it’s a ridiculously strong album and I’d definitely recommend a listen to this to see for yourselves what you make of it – it really is an odd mix, but a great album! For me the album highlights are “Castles” “Class” and “All She Knows”.

The Jesus Lizard – Goat (1991)

The Jesus Lizard – Goat (1991)

The Jesus Lizard are one of those bands that I had been meaning to check out for all eternity but never seem to get around to listening to (until now, obviously). I picked their Goat record to try out at random, simply because the art looked kinda cool and abstract so I just dove in and went for it. Anyway, I’m not sure if it’s just because I’ve taken so long to jump onto this bangwagon, but I feel like I’m stepping into the early 90s whilst listening to this, and unfortunately not in a particularly good way. It just feels like this type of thing is no longer culturally relevant, and I hate saying that because it does kinda throw an insult to the band and the fans but I just can’t shake the feeling that if I was alive in the right generation this shit would be the top kek, as the internet says. I’m just gonna come out and say it – on face value this sounds to me like a poor man’s mix of Helmet and The Melvins. It’s not particularly bad per se, but it plods a bit for me; I’m one of those losers than always seems to skip over the middle-ground of music (it’s either gotta be really slow, really fast, or just pure shit noise haha). There is also a heavy grunge overtone, and that’s not something I’m particularly fond of either; even if said grunge overtone borrows heavily from The Melvins pseudo-grunge template. It’s also not surprising to find that this record was produced by Steve Albini, as it possesses that expected hallmark sound of his. All in all, not bad by any stretch, but not particularly great either.

Darkthrone – The Cult Is Alive (2006)

Darkthrone – The Cult Is Alive (2006)

Just quickly gonna put dibs on a review of this seeing as there’s three of us writing now (four if Kristian gets off his ass and follows up with more). Darkthrone’s The Cult Is Alive marked a turning point in the band’s career; effectively buffeting their sails with a healthy second wind that easily saw them extending their legacy by another ten years or so. Let’s face it, by the late 90s / early 2000s, Darkthrone’s output was lacking somewhat. Nothing particularly terrible surfaced, but there was an awful lot of old shit coming out and being re-packaged, and then that was followed by records that were, dare I say it, almost like Darkthrone’s attempts at nu-metal (or should that be the effects of the dire 90s rubbing off even on one of metal’s most innovating bands). Again, not particularly bad, but albums like Hate Them and Sardonic Wrath lacked the freezing fire that Under A Funeral Moon and Transylvanian Hunger had. But I digress. Moving swiftly along to the mid 00s, and Darkthrone dropped this fucker, seemingly out of nowhere, hitting the refresh button on their career. If someone told me 15 years ago that Darkthrone were a punk band I’d have a good chuckle at their genre-defining-ineptitude (actually I probably would have asked you who Darkthrone are, but there you go). Moving black metal into crust punk territories has been done a thousand times over, but let’s face it; Darkthrone opened this type of shit up to a whole new generation of metalheads who hadn’t quite made it to checking out Hellhammer yet.  “Cult Of Goliath” is the ferocious opener, and the single off here (if that terminology is correct) is “Too Old, Too Cold”; a bitter and almost tired number, whose malice carries the nonchalant crust along sufficiently enough as not to become boring. “Graveyard Slut” has Fenriz taking on vocal duties in lieu of everyone’s favourite grim and frostbitten school teacher, Nocturno Culto, and is also one of the greatest songs in the history of time. “Shut Up” is also another amazing stand out track with some fantastic lyrics (“begging for this and asking for that / shut up, fucking twat!”), as is the crusty-favourite, “Whiskey Funeral”.  This record proved so immensely successful that the next four Darkthrone records essentially followed the same template (although the latest one to date was a bit King Diamond-y for me). Strongly recommended listening!

Gnaw Their Tongues – Abyss Of Longing Throats (2015)

Gnaw Their Tongues – Abyss Of Longing Throats (2015)

I’d never heard of Gnaw Their Tongues until I saw them live at Roadburn and I was almost instantly blown away by them (I say them – it’s just one guy making so much horrible music from his basement). A mix of black metal and noise would probably be the best way to describe this but then again so would two people screaming at you when the sound of the world ending at million miles per hour plays in the background. so when I got home pretty much the first thing I had to do was find the newest album by them. Abyss Of Longing Throats is a more darker and restrained beast than I was expecting, with opener “Lick The Poison From The Cave Walls” going at not much more than a crawl. The music is mostly various horrible noises in the background with intermittent black metal style vocals. You have to wait until track 3 to get any blast beats, giving the music almost an illusion of being straight black metal but with an industrial hint. The rest of the album doesn’t really deviate from that formula as such, going from slow horrible noise to, well, faster horrible noise, all the while having vocals screamed at you. But it’s amazing nothing else in the world really sounds like it so go give it a listen.

Esham – Closed Casket (1994)

Esham – Closed Casket (1994)

Closed Casket is surely the definitive Esham record – I love absolutely everything about it; the sound, the lyrics, the samples, even the artwork (for some reason). Closed Casket captures a slice of Detroit “suicidalist” lifestyle in the smog of the early 90s, during that perfect period when Esham was still dank as fuck but not dropping references to the man down below every 20 seconds. I tend to categorise Esham into two categories – a.) when he goes hard, and b.) when he goes silly. Closed Casket falls entirely into the first camp, and is nowhere near as wet as records such as Mail Dominance or that Gothom City nonsense. All the beats are bangers, the bass is spot on, rumbling nicely along for a fat backbone. The production is lightyears ahead of the previous record, KKKill The Fetus, but still retains that grime and almost, how can I put it, copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copied-cassette sound. This kinda gets lumped in with the horrorcore thing as Esham is associated with ICP and all that lot, but any fan of old school hip hop would do themselves a service by checking this out. Stand-out tracks: “The Wicketshit Will Never Die”, “My Homie Got Shot”, “Can’t Take It Wit Cha”, “Chatty Ass Nigga”, “Flatline”, “2 Dollahoe”, “I’ll Be Glad When You Dead”.

Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Alone In The Universe (2015)

Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Alone In The Universe (2015)

I’ll admit this was actually my first time listening to a full ELO studio album, having only really been familiar with the singles (i.e. the greatest hits) of the ELO brand, but I’ve been meaning to check this lot out for a while. This is a really great sounding album, it sounds like I’m listening to a big, iconic classic rock record despite this being a moderately new release – it just has that kind of sound to it. I can hear an almost Beatles-sounding influence throughout the record, maybe leaning more towards a later Beatles/solo-era sound, but having known Jeff has worked with Beatles members on things in the past (producing the anthology singles, for example), I think it’s a fair comparison to make here. A strong record though and one I can imagine has gone down very well with classic rock fans, as well as maybe picking up a few newer listeners. A personal favourite from the album for me is the track “All My Life”, as well as “Alone In The Universe” and “When I Was A Boy” – a big-sounding modern classic that is well worth a listen.

Enema Shower – She Asked For It (2015)

Enema Shower – She Asked For It (2015)

Enema Shower are a groovy goregrind/porngrind (yadda yadda) band from Slovakia, playing in a slow but funky style of danceable filth. The vocals are low, thick ‘n’ heavy (see what I did there, y’know, because it’s porno grind!), the guitar work is like razorwire despite the slow speed and the drums possess the satisfying piccolo ping that one expects from musical circles such as this. These three guys (and one girl) seem to have a thing for Sasha Grey, who crops up once or twice over the whole record (there’s even a track named after her), but generally the song subject matter ranges from the obscene to the rather clever (“Your Safeword Is Harder”). It’s hard to stay original in such an inward-thinking sub-genre, and whilst She Asked For It doesn’t offer anything particularly new to the pornogrind template it does a really good fucking job of spreading it wide and lubing it up. Grind doesn’t get much slower than this. Butt plug optional.

Glue – Demo 2012 (2012)

Glue – Demo 2012 (2012)

I need more stuff like this in my life! I stumbled across this little hardcore punk gem last month, and haven’t been able to get enough of it. It’s not exactly aeons long with six tracks clocking in at just over eight minutes, but it’s a dirty ride, with a proper old-school production style. The bass drum is so fat, and whilst the guitars have Dead Kennedys written all over them, the riffs are busy and fresh. There’s not a bad track here in all honesty, but my favourites are the intro, “The Jokes Write Themselves” and the fast/slow fuckery of the closing tune, “Falling Apart”. Glue are from Texas, in the US of A and seem to have a bit of a cult following, with the 7″ version of this demo selling for up to £20 on Discogs, which is a hefty price for a 7″ EP. Have a goosey.

Public Image Ltd – What The World Needs Now (2015)

Public Image Ltd – What The World Needs Now (2015)

I went into this release not sure what to expect, but what a fun record! Opener “Double Trouble” immediately sets the mood with John Lydon’s spoken intro; a catchy number with a catchy, repetitive bass line and an indie pop guitar sound. There is a similar vibe and sound throughout the whole record, instrument-wise, mixed in with angst-ridden yet humorous vocals and lyrics from Mr Lydon. I think what really draws me in to this record is that it has really damn catchy songs! So many hidden little pop hooks and harmonies throughout. The track “Bettie Page” for example, showcases this point, as does “Spice Of Choice”. We do have a few slower, stripped back numbers too however; “C’est La Vie” for example. The more I listen to this the more I like it – a great album.

Psychopathic Rydas – Check Your Shit In Bitch! (2004)

Psychopathic Rydas – Check Your Shit In Bitch! (2004)

I know these are bootlegs but fuck, the sound quality absolutely fuckin’ sucks. It sounds like a bunch of low quality mp3s jingling their wateriness all over the place. That being said, it is great to hear all these Psychopathic Records affiliated artists all in one place, and kinda reminds me of an extended Dark Lotus, more than anything. The Twiztid guys really bring it on this record, and the odd contribution from Esham is always welcome.

Bloodlung – Roach (2014)

Bloodlung – Roach (2014)

Bloodlung were a sludge band from South Wales who called it a day a year or so ago. As a result, free copies of their Roach album filtered out and I got given one at band practice when Judas Cradle used to rehearse at One Louder studios in Newport. I don’t usually listen to metal stuff in the car on the way home because a.) I’m usually sick of hearing guitars by that point and b.) I’m deaf as fuck too, half the time. I’m glad I threw this on the car stereo though, although it did make me feel a bit awful that I’d been so ignorant to this band existing in the first place. Doom is literally everywhere now but there’s no-one really repping sludge in South Wales except Hogslayer (not to my knowledge – but then again, I am an idiot) so Bloodlung are a welcome change. It’s gutting that these guys broke up as this album is pretty fucking ace and it’s a shame to see talent disappear but what can you do? At least they dropped this before they fucked off 😉 Give it a whirl, it’s class as fuck.

Butcher M.D. – Traces Of Blood (2015)

Butcher M.D. – Traces Of Blood (2015)

Considering how much I listen to goregrind I always seem to let to the big ‘uns slide right on by….*sigh*. Anyway, this fucking amazing goregrind record was released last year by Bizarre Leprous and is a new project of Ex-LODH/SMES vokill puke bucket Erwin De Groot and one Kirill Maestro, who – according to Discogs – played guitars and programming in a band called Jaga-Jaga Massacre (who I’ll definitely be keeping an eye open for after hearing Traces Of Blood). With song titles such as “Fake Tits Replaced With Two Severed Human Heads” and “Devoured By Oozing Stomach Acids” you know we are back in business. I guess I can liken the drum machine goregrind style to Torsofuck-meets-Regurgitate (minus three hundred truck loads of muddy production), even something a bit more early-days Splattered Entrails, and the vocals are sweet, sweet music to the ears of any fan of Last Days Of Humanity, SMES etc. etc. I wasn’t too fussed on the vocal contributions from Erwin to the Urine Cop project (just couldn’t hear them, more than anything) but this shit is pure fucking filth; it’s so goddamn amazing. Bleeeueueuegrgrgrhhhhhh 

Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor (2014)

Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor (2014)

(Words by Burra, Porth’s last hope for redemption) I’ll be honest, I went into this album not expecting a great deal, and with the mindset it would never be another Mechanical Animals (for me Marilyn Manson’s finest hour). However, I was actually quite surprised by this record; it holds itself up quite well as an album. I think it is definitely the best thing to come out of the Marilyn Manson camp, in recent years at least. I was first drawn into the release after hearing the track and seeing the video for “The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles” which I feel also happens to be one of the album’s strongest tracks. Manson really won me back over on that one. Other highlights from the album include “Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge”, which is a dark, slower number with a really catchy and repetitive guitar hook throughout, as well as (I feel most the Mechanical Animals-era sounding track) “Cupid Carries A Gun”, and also the brilliant “Deep Six”, with it’s very early 2000’s sound and nu metal-esque riffs. Overall not a disappointing album at all, there are a few weaker moments here and there, but otherwise a very decent offering and one that shouldn’t be dismissed.

Cult of Occult – Five Degrees Of Insanity (2015)

Cult of Occult – Five Degrees Of Insanity (2015)

It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot these days but fuck, Cult Of Occult are heavy. From the crushing guitar to the viscous vocals and the pounding drums it’s almost too much at times but it never stops being amazing albeit in a thoroughly unpleasant way. Five Degrees Of Insanity (as can you see from the album cover) is about a man slowly losing his mind – which is a pretty good description of the music. The album starts off with a slow feedback build up for about a minute – lulling you into a false sense of security – then kicks in and you are almost instantly drowning in a river of pain, anguish and misery that pretty music doesn’t let up for 70 minutes. “Misanthropic” offers a brief respite from the constant misery with an almost black metal-like intro and a slow, psych-outro, but still has a solid 10 minutes of good old horrible sludgy misery. If you are in any into sludge or generally unpleasant music this is well worth a listen.

Sleep – The Clarity (2014)

Sleep – The Clarity (2014)

So today (“today” being a month or so before you all see this post) I was casually browsing through The Graveyard (what I call iTunes on my PC since Spotify came along) and I stumbled across this forgotten relic; it had completely slipped my mind that Sleep had done a $neaky little EP for Adult Swim, and top it off, I find out this shit came out in 2014! 2014!!?? Holy fuck… Anyways, on with the review! At first The Clarity strikes me as a bit of a self-parody with lyrics like “the dealer is my refuge” and “back patch / Iommic life complete”, and that doesn’t do much to add the reek of cashing in that this one-track EP gives off (go peep the price of the vinyl for this shit, and also the prices for those ridiculous Sleep action figures and pillows. What is this, fucking Kiss or something? I’m just surprised it wasn’t released on green wax and limited to 420 copies). That being said however, Sleep are rather well known for spacey riffs and silly lyrics about smoking weed, so really, I shouldn’t complain. Musically, this release treads the middle ground, and somehow ends up sounding like an inoffensive mashup between Om and High On Fire, rather than like a genuine Sleep song. That might sound ridiculous, but have a genuine think about that statement for a second. It just seems to me that everybody involved with Sleep is now so far removed from it musically, that revisiting it with the hope of reviving it for future releases seems like a bad idea. It is incredibly sad that Sleep’s legacy only truly began posthumously, but with Om and High On Fire being fantastic bands in their own right, I can’t help but think that Sleep should be left where it belongs: sleeping.