Lines In Wax

THIRTEEN YEARS OF UNWANTED OPINION

Month: January 2022

Miles Davis – Big Fun (1974)

Miles Davis – Big Fun (1974)

Big Fun is one of my favourite Miles Davis records. It comes smack in the middle of the 70s experimentation period, and has all the hallmarks of that era. Does it really “go” anywhere? Perhaps not. Big Fun is full of the more meandering moments that you’d get on Bitches Brew, only without the unique haunting vibes that record possesses. This is a straight up set of experimental jazz suites, and I love everything about it. It sounds fantastic. Plus, that artwork is fantastic too.

Killing Joke – Killing Joke (2003)

Killing Joke – Killing Joke (2003)

Is there a comeback album as perfect as this? How many bands go away and then return better than ever before? The 2003 self-titled release from Killing Joke was also the first experience most people of my generation had with the band, too. Personally, I was never really that into it, I loved “Asteroid” and had heard “Loose Cannon” but I was 14 at the time so was neck deep in other types of music. This is the album that Dave Grohl drummed on, in what seemed to be an intense few years of sessioning (Queens Of The Stone Age and Probot also spring to mind). That aside, Youth is back, joining Geordie and Coleman for this excellent rejuvenation effort. Some of my favourite Killing Joke songs are here; the aforementioned “Asteroid”, as well as “Zennon” and the fathomless “Death And Resurrection Show”. Production wise, this is clearer than say, Hosannahs or even Absolute Dissent, but still has the ability for that massive wall of guitar to blow you the fuck away. Amazing.

Motörhead – Iron Fist (1982)

Motörhead – Iron Fist (1982)

Iron Fist is the first meh experience I’ve encountered whilst working my way chronologically through the Motörhead discography. I suppose whatever the band dropped would have to be diamond hard to top Ace Of Spades or Bomber, but Iron Fist is more than just a record paling in comparison, its just flat out not very good. It just seems tired. Its everything about Motörhead that stopped me from listening to Motörhead. The production is rubbish, and honestly, I’m snoozing by the time we’re four or five tracks deep. “Speedfreak” is a decent tune, and there’s one or two that keep that level of quality up towards the very back of the record, but that’s all folks. I’m sure this album has its admirers. I’m not one of them.

Doom II: Speed Of Doom (2010)

Doom II: Speed Of Doom (2010)

Speed Of Doom is an incredibly well made set of maps for Doom II. Honestly, the fact that these began as a speed mapping exercise (hence the name), truly boggles the mind in terms of the level quality. But there is one problem. This is far, far too hard for me. I’m one of those cats that plays on UV because it’s “the” way to experience everything Doom has to throw at you, but Jesus creeping shit, this is hard as fuck. Even just a few maps in, things hit ridiculous levels of difficulty, and before we’ve even hit the half way point, things descend into all-out slaughtermap carnage. Speed Of Doom is a ridiculously difficult challenge for the seasoned Doom player who has conquered everything else. Honestly, the only way I could get a look at the later levels was to chuck on Degreelessness mode and just go ham. There is no way in a million years that I am good enough to do this without cheats. So yeah. Solid fucking effort from all involved. But even after 6 months of solid Doom playing, Speed Of Doom is far, far too difficult for me.

Black Sabbath – Master Of Reality (1971)

Black Sabbath – Master Of Reality (1971)

I’m unsure how the fuck I’ve managed to avoid writing about this album for the entire existence of this website. Especially considering I worked my way through the entire Sabbath discography last year during lockdown. So I broke out my Dad’s copy on 12″ vinyl, and spun it again (any excuse) for the purposes of writing this post. This has to be peak Ozzy era. Three fucking albums in 18 months (this being the third) is just absolutely bonkers. And comparing them, them being the debut, Paranoid and this, is one of my favourite things to do (you can throw Vol. 4 in there too, fuck it). The musical development of these guys is beyond incredible. The riffs here are peak Iommi (yeah I’m going to say peak a lot). “Sweet Leaf”, “Children Of The Grave”, “Lord Of This World”, I could go on. For anyone who says that Ozzy can’t sing, I raise you “Solitude”. I have to mention the backbone of Butler and Ward too, of course, integral to this early, fantastic sound. I cannot praise this album enough. Please listen to this if you’ve never heard it.

Dwarves – Come Clean (2000)

Dwarves – Come Clean (2000)

Come Clean is probably the poppiest Dwarves album. I attribute this to the direction the band took through the 90s, but they eventually came full circle (perhaps not to the original sound, but to the speedy, cheeky punk of old). Come Clean even has some industrial metal influences, (see the verses of “Over You” with its looped riffs and stomping programmed percussion). Its also a pretty short record, all in all. A tidy entry into the Dwarves catalog, but nothing to write home about.

Funeral Rape – Sexperiment (2006)

Funeral Rape – Sexperiment (2006)

This is a dirgy, horrible mess. Of course, I mean that in the best possible way. Fuck if I can remember where I got this thing from, but I had it on my iPod “back in the day”. It must have come from some forum or something. Anyways, mirky, pornogrind meets brutal death metal is the order of the day. The name of the band is pretty awful, but the logo is really cool. The cover art should tell you everything you need to know about how this thing sounds.

Hogslayer – Defacer (2015)

Hogslayer – Defacer (2015)

Hogslayer were big news at one point, at least in the Welsh underground scene. I remember catching their headline set at Red Sun Festival 2015 and being blown away at how many people were in the room. I’d never seen Cardiff’s Moon Club so full (RIP, to the upstairs part at least!). I’ve had this album on my review list since it’s release. I’ve never made it past the first couple of tracks. I’ve always chalked this up to just not being in the mood for sludge or doom, but today when I sat down to listen to it in its entirety, I had to turn it off by track 6. I’m very particular about hearing a record in its entirety and its very rare that I will actually do this, even if I don’t like something. But by track 6, I felt that I’d heard enough. No disrespect intended, I don’t know if it’s the production, but it’s all a bit too samey for me.

Nightwish – Once (2003)

Nightwish – Once (2003)

I can’t remember why I bought this as a kid. I’ve never liked this kind of thing. Maybe I thought Tarja was hot? I honestly can’t remember. This is an epic album, however. The usual, expected bombast of earlier Nightwish is present (before the poppy stuff took center stage), and there is a savage heaviness underpinning proceedings. Tracks like “Planet Hell”, or “Romanticide” keep the record grounded, whilst meandering suites such as “Creek Mary’s Blood” and “Ghost Love Score” take off on flights of operatic fancy. Of course, there’s “Dark Chest Of Wonders” and “Nemo” too, in case you want to sing along.

Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)

Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)

I recently spent a bit more time with this album (it’s been years) and it reminded me of just how special it is. Its easy to think of this as overrated, especially in comparison to some other gems in the Pink Floyd catalogue, but personally, I think this thing deserves all the hype it gets. Is it a disjointed fucking mess with seemingly no direction or purpose? Seems like it. Does it matter? Not really. Not with those songs. This thing is just amazing; beginning, middle and end.

Khthoniik Cerviiks – Æequiizoiikum (2020)

Khthoniik Cerviiks – Æequiizoiikum (2020)

Well this one was a random time investment, purely off the name of the band and the record, and off the cover art. I’m still not quite sure how to classify this fucker, which is a good thing. There’s a ton of different vibes going on here, but the production manages to wrangle it all together; the bands intricate and experimental style is pinned down and grounded by the engineering on this. Truly, a bizarre listen. And that’s saying something, compared to half the shit on this website haha Anyways turns out this trip is the band’s 4th effort, so I’ll have to work backwards and check out some more.

Blood Incantation – Hidden History Of The Human Race (2019)

Blood Incantation – Hidden History Of The Human Race (2019)

Blood Incantation have won the hearts and minds (lol) of death metal fans the world over and it really is easy to see why. Their space and sci-fi vibes may be more akin to thrashers Voïvod or Vektor, but there is no loss of brutality here on Hidden History Of The Human Race. The songs are intricately crafted and very well produced (but not over-polished!), with a stage that gives these monsters room to breath. There is a smattering of non-traditional metal instrumentation too, which adds to the otherworldly vibes, and actually reminds me of Nile a bit, here and there. Great shit.

Terrace Martin – Lies (2020)

Terrace Martin – Lies (2020)

Well this is an absolute banger of a track. I tend to focus on albums rather than singles here on LIW, but every now and then I’ll hear one so have to write about it. This has an absolutely stomper of a beat to it, backed up with some clean and stunning synthesizers and robotic vocals. I believe this guy has done some work with Kamasi Washington so I’ll have to try and hunt that down.

Bestial Putrefaction – Eternal Flesh Ripping Chaos (2021)

Bestial Putrefaction – Eternal Flesh Ripping Chaos (2021)

Fucking heck, lad. This thing pulls absolutely zero punches. Mixing a cauldron of bestial war metal with stomach-churning goregrind, Bestial Putrefaction bring us this disgusting slice of almost-unlistenable audio punishment. Yeah, the production is a little bit on the ear-grating side, but I heavily appreciate what’s going on here. I picked up the cassette version, because musically, it honestly doesn’t get much harder or extreme than this. And that’s sick. Edit: I just found out that this is a compilation of an EP and a demo, rather than a solid album, but fuck it, who cares.

This Is The End (2013)

This Is The End (2013)

This was a strange one. The Franco / Rogan et al contingent and their purile humour tackle the subject of the world ending, of course with a six hundred billion celebrity guest cast list and the main set being James Franco’s house. Honestly, this was absolutely rubbish and I dread to sit and think of what better uses the money used to make this film could have been used for.

Aphex Twin – Drukqs (2001)

Aphex Twin – Drukqs (2001)

Drukqs has always eluded me. I’m not really sure why, but it just has. Maybe it was the length of it? I would be speculating, to give any more reasons. Well, I finally listened to it, and after completing it, I exclaimed: “Oh OK, cool”. Of course, the maddening Aphex “acid” is on par as per always, but as far as some of the mellower moments go… They seemed to drag a bit, I won’t lie. I love the more chilled or ambient Aphex Twin works, there is an unique melancholy to it to the point where, no matter how spacey it gets, you know you’re listening to a RDJ composition. My one complaint with Drukqs then, is the sheer number of mellow and piano compositions in a double album of this length. If anything I feel it hurts the flow, rather than contributes to it. None of the individual pieces are bad, but together as an album, I’m not sure if it is a true success.

JK Flesh – Exit Stance (2017)

JK Flesh – Exit Stance (2017)

This is a fantastic 4-track EP from JK Flesh, released on 12″ by the Downwards label. Expect less of the guitar-orientated tracks of the early 2010s and instead embrace the body-moving, cerebral techno explosions that we have surely come to know and love from the project. My favourite track on this thing has to be “Bullied By Love”, but to be honest, all 4 are absolute corkers. One for the late nights when the weed or booze facilitates shit talking long into the night.

The Exploited – Troops Of Tomorrow (1982)

The Exploited – Troops Of Tomorrow (1982)

My uncle, Terry Oakes, did the cover painting for this one. He did a few Exploited releases actually, I believe, although he mostly did fantasy novel cover paintings. Just a random bit of information for you there. Troops Of Tomorrow is primo old school Exploited though, before the thrash influences crept in. Its raw, ready and definitely rough around the edges. But wouldn’t it be shite if it wasn’t? This is punk after all. I don’t really need to waffle about this one, just fire it up. Stand outs for me are the title track and “U.S.A.”.

Lymphatic Phlegm / S.M.E.S. – Split CD (2002)

Lymphatic Phlegm / S.M.E.S. – Split CD (2002)

Bleeechhh! Hitting you right in the sweet sweet sickness button (your prostate?), Lymphatic Phlegm bring their often-imitated, never-beaten spooky goregrind to the table. The riffs are just super intense here, how do they keep things fresh whilst also sounding so consistent? S.M.E.S. seems weirdly loaded towards the left channel, which is a bit of a head fuck at first but if anything just adds to the cheap, synthetic electronic sound and vibe. If you’ve never heard S.M.E.S.’s bizarre electronic gore then here is a good place to start.

Mastodon – Remission (2004)

Mastodon – Remission (2004)

With the latest Mastodon release unleashed on the world, I figured I’d go back and actually finally check out Remission. Having only heard “March Of The Fire Ants”, I had a lot to learn about this record. The sound stage is huge, with the enormous meat grinder bass taking up the center. Not to shit on the rest of the band, but what captures and ensnares my attention for this entire listen is the drumming of Brann Dailor, which is just insane. I definitely prefer this hard hitting material to the more proggy stuff the band dropped later on.

Jex Thoth – Jex Thoth (2008)

Jex Thoth – Jex Thoth (2008)

I saw Jex Thoth once (fronting Sabbath Assembly), and whilst there is something a bit magical about that band, I prefer her “solo” work (even though this is a band all in of itself). This has a bit more stonery crunch and fuzz to the guitars, a bit more of a dirtier sound and a bit more go to it, where I found Sabbath Assembly to be quite pensive. Granted, there are larger themes at work here, there’s a whole section of tracks about the Equinox, but the material on this self-titled album is gorgeous, hard, fuzzy rock. 10/10.

Lifelover – Dekadens (2009)

Lifelover – Dekadens (2009)

I always thought Pulver would remain out front but I think this mini album (EP?) has won out as the favourite. There is no time wasted here. The running may be short, but it’s nothing but pure quality from start to finish. Any fat has been trimmed. Every single track is an absolute belter and they all stand up there as my favourites from Lifelover. The opening riff on “Lethargy” makes it the smash hit for DSBM, if there ever was one. For fans of miserable metal.

Birdflesh – The Farmer’s Wrath (2008)

Birdflesh – The Farmer’s Wrath (2008)

Birdflesh are probably one of the most fun grindcore bands you could hope to see live. The Farmer’s Wrath is a solid, well-produced full length effort from the comedic trio, who I guess are to “regular/traditional” grindcore that Rompeprop are to gore/pornogrind. Yes, there’s a silliness to proceedings, but the grind on show is 100% serious. Its deadly fast, with razor sharp riffing and barked vocals.

Doom II: No Rest For The Living (2010)

Doom II: No Rest For The Living (2010)

When Doom II was ported to Xbox Live Arcade just over a decade ago, the guys given the job (Nerve Software) also made their own expansion / mini-WAD called No Rest For The Living. Honestly, these are some incredibly solid levels and they can be pretty damn difficult if you bite off more than you can chew. It has the length of an Ultimate Doom episode, rather than a full Doom II campaign, but that doesn’t stop the levels being long, hellish and brutal slogs. This is a very high quality piece of work, and a Doom II level set that I highly recommend.

Slayer – Hell Awaits (1985)

Slayer – Hell Awaits (1985)

There’s a firmly drawn line between “evil” Slayer and “angry” Slayer, and this 80s classis is of course firmly in the “evil” camp. For me, its not as good as South Of Heaven or Reign In Blood but damn this is some sinister thrash right here. Stand out track? Fuck it, just play the whole thing through in one go and be done with it.

Broken Sword: The Shadow Of The Templars (Game) / Barrington Pheloung – Broken Sword Original Soundtrack (1996)

Broken Sword: The Shadow Of The Templars (Game) / Barrington Pheloung – Broken Sword Original Soundtrack (1996)

I initially decided I would split out the game review and OST review for this one (like I’ve done with some games and not others – we value consistency here at Lines In Wax) but honestly, the two elements are so completely interwoven and linked, to separate them is alien. Broken Sword was one of my favourite games as a kid. Granted, I was far too young to really understand the plot and also far too young to be any good at it, instead getting places purely out of sheer luck and process of elimination. However, in recent “adult” replays (I think the most recent being 2009), I can confirm that Broken Sword (and its first sequel) are two of the greatest games ever made. Note: fuck the Director’s Cut, which retcons a bunch of shit, adds a bunch of unnecessary extra scenes, and a ton of absolutely shite puzzles. Put that shit in the sea, next to the 1996 Lucas Star Wars re-tweaks. There is just something so special about Broken Sword. I don’t know how or why, but Charles Cecil and his devs blew the PlayStation apart, making a game that was long, detailed and absolutely dripping from every pore with mood and atmosphere. When I finally went to Paris, imagine how disappointed I was to find it wasn’t like the Paris in Broken Sword. Broken Sword romanticised our dark and miserable real world, in a pre-internet age where beauty could be found in the little moments (yeah, the ones you now fill with pointless scrolling on your smartphone). It’s plot, honestly, doesn’t matter all that much to me (even though I enjoy it), because the locations, characters and dialogue are so perfect, I’m happy to just be here. And that leads us to Barrington’s incredible soundtrack. It’s very low key, yet utterly unique. You know instantly, no matter at which point you could randomly select in its total run time, and instantly know, this is the Broken Sword soundtrack. The musical cues, little flourishes and sparks of emotion through a minimal yet classically composed score, are honestly to die for. I think I’ve gushed enough. If you’ve never played this game, I implore you to do so, even today, in 2021. I hope that when I close my eyes for the last time, the piano music from the Hotel Ubu plays me out.

Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother (1970)

Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother (1970)

To say that this is a “strange” Pink Floyd album probably does the band a disservice, but it feels like the penultimate firework in a display, just before Meddle comes flying out as full-blown peak Floyd of the early days. Side A is whole piece, which is easily the best bit about this record, with the B side containing smaller, more digestible songs which are, unfortunately, a little bit forgettable. The final track is some dude cooking his breakfast, which predates this AMSR shit by 40 years.

Morbid Angel – Blessed Are The Sick (1991)

Morbid Angel – Blessed Are The Sick (1991)

I see a lot of Internet people moaning that the production on this is shit. Its too dry and too sterile, they say. Motherfuckers, are we gonna pretend the whole Morrisound death metal saturation thingy never happened? Shiiiiiit. On the scale of dryness from a martini to the Sahara desert, Blessed Are The Sick is lodged firmly on the tastier, lip-smacking beverage end of dry. So yes, the production is sterile. But the riffs are absolutely fucking sinister, especially when the band slows to a crawl, and Sandoval’s drumming really shines through the mix here. Vocally shit is on point too, and whatever you make of the pointless interludes (nobody seems to slag off Nile for doing this), this is really solid, evil death metal. I have no complaints. Its awesome.

Skindred – Babylon (2002)

Skindred – Babylon (2002)

Where Dub War met its end, Skindred rose from the ashes, sailing to new heights of popularity and success. Babylon would go on to sell extremely well, and whilst maybe it hasn’t aged all that well, stand out tracks like “Pressure”, the title track or “Selector” remind you why this brand of ragga, dub and metal was so infectious.

Mayhem – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994)

Mayhem – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994)

There’s a lot I could say about this album but honestly where on earth do you begin? Considered probably one of the most legendary black metal releases of all time, and steeped in mystery, murder and mayhem (pun absolutely intended), De Mysteriis was the culmination of an insane moment in musical history. But how does it sound? The riffs are ice cold. The drums? Overpowering as shit. I hope you like blastbeats, because you’re gonna be fucked out of luck otherwise. The most interesting thing for me about this album however is Atilla’s vocals. Now well known across the world for his bizarre and unique, twisted vocals and throat singing, here that eery weirdness either sounds like a gibbering demon clawing away inside the vocal booth, or in the case of the throat singing, propels the epic factor of the songs to even loftier heights. Do the drums basically drown everything else out? Yes. But if you can get past that, this is a magical experience. And also a piece of history, to boot.

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble – The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble (2006)

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble – The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble (2006)

I saw this ensemble live in Roadburn Festival, at either the 2011 or 2012 edition. The work they performed there was much more ambient, downtempo and minimal than this self-titled record. It is an album that reminds me of Ulver’s Perdition City, yet of course sounds nothing like Perdition City. The self-titled offering of Darkjazz here however is a cinematic, urban offering that flitters between traditional instrumentation and pulsing electronic passages; one works off the other and so on and so forth. Some of the tracks are pretty intense, whilst others are rather beautiful. Perfect Sunday listening, if I ever heard it.

Rush – Moving Pictures (1981)

Rush – Moving Pictures (1981)

Rush are one of those bands that seem to command infinite respect but who’s legacy has somewhat sailed me by. I’ve also had a lot of time for the rhythm section of this band, but asides from giving 2112 a go a few times, its not really been for me. Moving Pictures (which shares a title with an hilarious Discworld book) suffers the same fate. I just cannot get into it. Shit, this thing leads with “Tom Sawyer”, easily one of the greatest songs of all time, and I still find myself getting a bit bored with it. Rush aren’t bad, but as I said, I just don’t think they are for me.

Wolves In The Throne Room – Black Cascade (2009)

Wolves In The Throne Room – Black Cascade (2009)

I’m not too well versed in the works of Wolves In The Throne Room, and I certainly missed the initial hype that carried these guys along nicely about a decade ago. But none of that matters, because records like Black Cascade will live forever, giving time wasting idiots like me plenty of time to finally get around to hearing it. It reminds me, actually, of Dead As Dreams by Weakling. This is much more polished, refined and I suppose far less depressing, but the 15 minute blasting atmospheric epics are cut from the same cloth, I think. I don’t like to use the term transcendental, because it’s impossible to without sounding like a fucking twat, but truly, that word does fit here. There’s a reason this album is considered such a classic.

Operation Ivy – Operation Ivy (1991)

Operation Ivy – Operation Ivy (1991)

All I know is that I don’t know nothing, right? Tell you for what, I didn’t know that Tim Armstrong was in this band. Shows what I know about punk (next to sweet fuck all now confirmed). Honestly though it’s a good thing, his Clash-style drawl puts me off both Transplants and Rancid, and what I’ve heard of Tim Timebomb or whatever doesn’t exactly inspire me, so if I’d known that Tim was in Operation Ivy this would have gone into the “nope, ta” pile. I’m glad it didn’t because this is a fuckin’ great record / compilation / whatever. I guess this comes under the punk rock banner more than the hardcore punk banner, but I don’t really know. All I know (besides nothing) is that I love the sound, I love the attitude and the swagger it has, and I love how it breaks from noisy shoutfests to ska-like chill out passages. I can see why this is a classic.

Ascension Of The Watchers – Numinosum (2007)

Ascension Of The Watchers – Numinosum (2007)

Holy fucking shit this is boring. There’s some good ideas, some good instrumentation and some good vocals from Mr Bell, but fuck are the songs too long. The album in general could probably lose a third of its run time (that Simon & Garfunkel cover can be the first thing to get into the sea and never emerge again) and be wholly better for it. The first third is easily the best stuff here, even though parts come extremely close to biting Love Of Life era Swans (colour me surprised when I found that ex-Swan Vincent Signorelli was the drummer for this, as he also drummed on that album). I was supposed to see these guys in the new year but I’m not going to be going after hearing this monstrosity of a record.

The Oath – The Oath (2014)

The Oath – The Oath (2014)

Has it really been 7 years since this came out? Haha! Damn, my priorities are all over the place. Granted, I got very tired very quickly with the whole occult rock revival thing, but thats no excuse to take 7 years to review something. The Oath are pretty good to be fair, with decent amounts of occult swagger tinting this fairly safe play on the rock and roll template. The extremely-levelled-off production also compromises to this innate blandness which permeates proceedings. Its not bad, just… give it a bit more dynamic next time, please drive.

Symphony X – The Divine Wings Of Tragedy (1996)

Symphony X – The Divine Wings Of Tragedy (1996)

Usually not my cup of tea, well, ever lol – but recently (last year sometime) I did two Dream Theatre reviews, so figured it only proper to go back and commit this Symphony X record to the site. Its something I came across when I was about 15 or 16, and had it on my iPod, even though I was far from into any of this kinda stuff. Honestly, listening to this put me right back there in the 6th form computer room in 2005. Whether that’s a good thing or not I’m unsure. “Pharoah” is an absolute banger, as is the 20-plus minute title track. The musicianship is perhaps expectedly phenomenal, with my favourites being the bass playing and the drumming. Will I ever listen to Symphony X again? The answer is probably no.

KMFDM – Angst (1993)

KMFDM – Angst (1993)

I have no idea why this is on my To Do list, as this breed of 90s “industrial” really just fills me with rage. I could go off on one here, but I’ll keep it short – how did industrial get from Throbbing Gristle, to Godflesh… to something like this? I often jest how the 90s saw industrial turn from an outsider genre into a tag that basically means “crap dance music for goths”. KMFDM is at the foreground of this movement, and whilst some tunes are pretty damn good (the beats especially), it’s very uninspired and a bit wet, to be honest. There’s a song towards the end where your man here says he wants to die by being suffocated by some titties. And whilst I don’t particularly draw the line on that kind of subject matter, and I am aware that a lot of industrial tries to be either sleazy or sexy in its own way, this is just pure cringe. I checked out after that. It’s worth mentioning however, having worked backwards to this, the influence I have noticed on other bands. The Kovenant for example, based their entire vocal structure and approach off these guys, with THAT vocal effect and the cutting female operatics bursting in every now and then. And, of all people, Rammstein owes a lot to this. Both Herzeleid and Sehnsucht echo the motifs present here. Either way, it’s not for me, kids.

Subhumans – Time Flies / Rats (1990)

Subhumans – Time Flies / Rats (1990)

I’d like to think it was this record but it may have been another Subhumans record, that was often spun by my mate’s dad in his garage when we hung out. This of course, amongst other punk and rock vinyl of the 80s and early 90s. I was quite taken with the band’s Time Flies… But Aeroplanes Crash, which I even painted onto the underside of my skateboard (not without spelling areoplane wrong). Anyways, enough memory lane shite. Tony Soprano once said “‘remember when’ is the lowest form of conversation.” Here on this record Time Flies (1983) is backed with Rats (1984), and a lovely little collection of ditties it is too. Subhumans hit pretty hard, in all fairness, and there’s a malice to proceedings which cuts through the cheeky punk vibe.

Nachtmystium – Nachtmystium (2003)

Nachtmystium – Nachtmystium (2003)

I’m no expert on Nachmystium (only having heard the skull tits album (you know the one) and I saw them live at Roadburn once), I was not previously aware of the harsh, grim and possibly frostbitten beginnings. Less sprawling than their later works, and definitely with fewer external influences, this self-titled EP is cold black metal to the core, with dodgy production to top it all off. Would you have it any other way? Open the frozen jar of bees….

Faith No More – Motherfucker (J G Thirwell Remix) (2014)

Faith No More – Motherfucker (J G Thirwell Remix) (2014)

I need to find some context for this. All of a sudden, all these years after Sol Invictus, the lead single gets a bizarre and honestly, awful (lol) remix by the legendary J G Thirwell. I’m not sure what this is or what it is trying to achieve, but the vocal lines from “Motherfucker” seem shoehorned into some bombastic piece of music that is a thousand miles away from any related vibe. Honestly, I’m confused. Perhaps that is the intention. 2022 edit: OK so apparently the 7″ single version of Motherfucker had this as the B-side, and it seems a random digital release happened towards the arse end of last year. Nothing to get excited about. Oh well.

Ulver – The Assassination Of Julius Ceasar (2017)

Ulver – The Assassination Of Julius Ceasar (2017)

Is this a concept album? I should probably look it up but I can’t be bothered. Anyways, I love all eras of Ulver and its been a while since I’ve written about the later stuff so I decided to spin this up. Unfortunately it’s a bit of a toploader of an album, with all the good shit stacked at the front. It also doesn’t really bring anything new to the table in regards to Ulver’s ever-evolving musical journey, but it’s a lovely slice of dark pop none the less.

Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time (1986)

Iron Maiden – Somewhere In Time (1986)

I’m starting to notice a shift of some sort in Maiden’s music. A shift away from bombast and more towards the proggier end of the stick. Melodic riffing is more reserved, and whilst the bass has always led the way, the galloping is dialled back and the pulsing, backbone-style playing instead underpins the tracks. Bruce’s vocals are also rather reserved, for the most part. I’m not sure what brought on this change? It works in some places (“Alexander The Great”, “Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner”) and fails horribly in others (“Heaven Can Wait” anyone?). I’ve often wondered how Maiden got from Powerslave to the more laid back approach of Seventh Son, and I’ve finally filled in the missing link. I liked this one. I love the art, too.

Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)

Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)

Man this is a classic. I just realised, despite the countless times I’ve listened to this thing, I don’t actually own this record, in any format. I need to sort that out. A cassette or vinyl will do! Honestly, I’m not the biggest fan of Wu-Tang, and whilst I don’t claim to have heard their entire body of work, everything else they released that I have heard just pales in comparison to this absolute masterpiece. Everything about this is great; the raw, hardcore beats and production, the hydra-headed lyrical approaches spitting all sorts of nasty shit, and hey – even the skits, bizarre as they may be, it wouldn’t be 36 Chambers without them. I was listening to this outside recently at a considerable volume whilst doing some DIY and it gave me a new appreciation for this record. 36 Chambers is easily one of the greatest hip hop records of all time.

Amorphis – Tales From The Thousand Lakes (1994)

Amorphis – Tales From The Thousand Lakes (1994)

Is it death metal or is it doom metal? Who cares? Immediately from the speakers comes one of the sickest and dirgiest tones in metal history, with a phenomenal analogue production job to capture it. Sparse flurries of synthesizers punctuate the heavy, yet without becoming hammy or overpowering. Why have I never heard Amorphis before? Add in the absolute banger that is the cover art and you’ve got yourself an incredible all-rounder.

Lord Lovidicus – Book Of Lore – Vol. 1 (2015)

Lord Lovidicus – Book Of Lore – Vol. 1 (2015)

Book Of Lore is a massive undertaking, so much so that I originally had this marked down to review on 2nd March 2020, not long before the pandemic changed everything. I have listened to it twice since then, and can confirm that it’s a hefty listen, but probably great if you are into role playing or D&D and want a good soundtrack for those activities. For those of an Elder Scrolls persuasion, one may notice (or like to have pointed out) that Lord Lovidicus is the name of a vampire from the 4th game, Oblivion, who somehow fathered a half-orc child who went on to become the champion of Cyrodiil’s arena (until he is killed by the player character, of course).

Brian Eno – Neroli (Thinking Music Part IV) (1993)

Brian Eno – Neroli (Thinking Music Part IV) (1993)

One could easily call this album boring, but that would mean one has truly missed the point of such an album as this. In fact, even with its run time, to call it an album feels odd. This is two stand-alone singular tracks (just one in the 1993 release), a single mood in each, left to ring out for an enormous length of time. It really pushes the boundary of what can be considered music, even in ambient circles, yet also evokes something much deeper. It is a record for reflection, or contemplation. Note: what’s pictured above is the original 1993 art. The 2005 and 2014 re-issues had slightly different variations.

Doom II: Hell To Pay (1996)

Doom II: Hell To Pay (1996)

Hell To Pay is probably the tackiest Doom WAD I’ve played thusfar, with the exception of The Lost Episodes Of Doom, which was just awful. Thankfully it was one of the first WADs I’ve started with. I’d never be able to make it though it these days, having played some top quality custom levels since. Hell To Pay isn’t bad. In fact, it has a pretty good story and some incredibly ambitious level designs (ever fancied a Doom battle in outer space? Well, now you can!), but some of the replacement weapons and enemies do leave a little to be desired. The final map is also one of the more frustrating Romero-demon finales I’ve come across, and I had to switch on iddqd just to see it through. H2P’s sister release, Perdition’s Gate, which I recently covered, wipes the floor with this WAD.

Lunar Womb – Planets (1996)

Lunar Womb – Planets (1996)

I love it when you find something that you have never heard before. Yes, I’ve heard Lunar Womb before, but hear me out. The blend of styles on this record are incredibly perplexing. Think dungeon synth mixed with vaporwave. Both are fairly obscure electronic subgenres with little crossover (the runescape.wav (sp?) project the only outlier I can think of), but their unintentional mixture on this 25 year old demo is perplexing and thought provoking. Vaporwave didn’t exist as a genre, at least intentionally, until the early 2010s, but dreamy muzak has been around since synthesisers could synthesise. I don’t really know what Lunar Womb were trying to achieve with this bizarre music, but they certainly have my attention, and my respect. A rare gem.

Gorillaz – Demon Days (2005)

Gorillaz – Demon Days (2005)

I was never that big a fan of Demon Days when it first came out. It seemed to lack the dub stylings of the Gorillaz self-titled album. It could not be argued however, that Demon Days is not packed with fantastic singles. From “Dirty Harry” to “Kids With Guns” to “Dare” or even all the way through to the abstract “Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey’s Head”, Demon Days is loaded with low key banger after banger. Props to Damon Albarn et al for this fantastic sophomore record.

Master Levels for Doom II (1995)

Master Levels for Doom II (1995)

As I work my way through some of the earlier WADs that circulated the official main Doom releases, of course a stop on the Master Levels was required. I had the Master Levels on disc, I bought it in I think 1997, along with Doom II and Ultimate Doom. However, in the absence of any Doom loader like GZdoom or the likes, 8 year old me found it immensely difficult to load any of the maps (which need to be played individually) and I therefore consigned it to the bin. I do however, in a contradictory memory, remember dipping in to the massive list of the Maximum Doom shovelware, and spinning up a few WADs which were absolute garbage. The Master Levels itself though, as in the core 20 levels (fuck Maximum Doom, I’ll come back to those 3000 if I literally have nothing else to ever do), is a realllllll mixed bag. Some of the levels are great, others are pure shit, others are OK but without the guiding hand of a coherent project or a publisher watching over them, lose their way in obtuse design and mind-numbing puzzles. However I will say, for 1995, there are some incredibly complex level designs here. The Titan maps in particular are a headfuck (in both bad and good ways) and TEETH is an absolute bastard of a map, deserving of its reputation. Dr. Sleep’s maps are really cool, as are Cranium’s, but the rest are a mix of quality. Absolutely this is a collection for completionists only.

Haircuts For Men – 共振 (2015)

Haircuts For Men – 共振 (2015)

Ah, Haircuts For Men, can this project be faulted? It’s very prolific, yet the bar of quality remains consistently high. 共振 is no different, taking you on a vapor-tinged journey of old school electronics and introspective beats. Like watching infomercials at 3am whilst stoned off your nut. Banging.

Baphomet – The Dead Shall Inherit (1992)

Baphomet – The Dead Shall Inherit (1992)

Sometimes, album covers are so bad that they become good. This little ditty is one of them. Just look at that thing. Jeez. Anyways, don’t be fooled by the crummy cover painting, Baphomet’s The Dead Shall Inherit is a solid effort in early 90s dry’n’sludgy death metal dirgery (yeah I know, that’s not a word). The production is crisp like a freshly charred corpse, yet with the tunings hanging out down low where the corpses lie, we get some interesting interpretation of the Morrisound era production. That’s not to detract from the metal on display however, which is very well put together and is some genuinely good shit. A gem from off the beaten path, this.

Morbific – Ominous Seep Of Putridity (2021)

Morbific – Ominous Seep Of Putridity (2021)

I checked this out because it kept cropping up online and hey, the logo looks like Impetigo so it must rock, right? Granted, Ominous Seep Of Putridity is not as boggy or disgusting as its art and name promises you, but it’s still a very tasty slab of metallic goodness. It’s well-produced, which is always a nice surprise in these kinda circles, and is overall a really solid metal album. Good shit. I’ll keep my ears peeled for more Morbific.

Death In June & Boyd Rice – Alarm Agents (2004)

Death In June & Boyd Rice – Alarm Agents (2004)

Well then, now I know who does the voice at the beginning of Death In June’s “Tick Tock”. I could never understand why Douglas P would attempt such a bad American accent (like all those 00s post-something bands. You’re from Pontypridd mate, not LA!). Anyways, now that I finally know what Boyd Rice’s voice sounds like, it all makes sense to me. Honestly, this is all kinds of fucking edgy. And fuck if I know if there’s some double meaning to some of these lyrics, which could be perfectly innocent or fairly sinister depending on how you look at it (and knowing who made it). Musically though, there’s some good shit here, and some really cool vibes. Some of the tracks just feel like a waste of time, but when it hits, it hits good. Boyd’s voice, coming on like a lovechild of latter-day Leonard Cohen and Jarboe, is the perfect accompaniment to Douglas Post twinkly guitar strummery. It gives a different and refreshing weight to Death In June’s often light and airy folk compositions. Oh, and that track with all the laughing on it? Pure Twin Peaks black lodge vibes, which I can always get behind.

Cradle Of Filth – Existence Is Futile (2021)

Cradle Of Filth – Existence Is Futile (2021)

Cradle Of Filth have been on something of a second wind for the last 6 or 7 years. I personally didn’t really enjoy the previous album, Cryptoriana, but it seemed to be generally well recieved by fans. I’m sure this second wind has been facilitated by the relatively stable lineup (the loss of Lindsey Schoolcraft aside), which in itself is a rarity for Cradle. Existence Is Futile is a surprisingly “meta” offering from Dani and company, who are often away with the fairies and vampires and the odd blood-drinking countess or two. Instead we have themes of existentialism and environmental catastrophe, which I’ll admit, immediately got me worried. However, it was groundless, because all of this is filtered through the usual Cradle pomp and meandering metal madness. Existence… is absolutely on par with Hammer Of The Witches and its super, super cool to see the band maintaining such a high quality of output, especially after a lull around the 2010 years. Heck, some people are saying this is one of the best albums the band has done in their 30 year career, which I don’t agree with personally but it’s exciting to see how relevant and respected Cradle are today, with all the water under the bridge. If you’ve somehow never heard Cradle Of Filth before, this is a good as any a place to start. They have a ton of albums in this vein and this is a great example of their modern sound. If it’s all a bit polished, or if you crave something a bit wilder, get yourself into their 90s output, which is just indescribably good.

Six Brew Bantha – Six Brew Bantha (2012)

Six Brew Bantha – Six Brew Bantha (2012)

Hyped grindcore bands come and go, and it may seem that Six Brew Bantha have had their time in the sun (actually I need to check this), but the band’s self titled record holds up incredibly well. I recently busted out the record player to spin this again, and was still suitably impressed by the audible clout that the group possess. No nonsense, straight up, blasts of grindcore. Love it.

Iron Maiden – Senjutsu (2021)

Iron Maiden – Senjutsu (2021)

Maiden were one of the bands on my “fill the gaps” project, because as famous as they are, to date I’ve not really heard that many of their full lengths. I tend to go through chronologically, but I made an exception for Senjutsu as its hot off the presses. My first impression is that this thing was going to be slow and boring, and to be fairly honest, the first few tracks were just that. However, after a while, the whole thing opens up, and becomes a whole other journey. It’s a bit of a plodder, but there’s a sharpness to the songwriting, even if Bruce’s voice has mellowed.

Doom II: Perdition’s Gate (1996)

Doom II: Perdition’s Gate (1996)

Perdition’s Gate was one of the commercially released yet unofficial Doom II expansions. From the creator’s website, its hinted that Perdition’s Gate was supposed to be a part of Final Doom, but for whatever reason that didn’t happen. Anyways, dodgy software company Wizard Works eventually released this, on the sly. The thought of that being done in 2021 is really quite impressive. None of this is to shit on Perdition’s Gate, however. I have been playing Doom WADs now in my spare time since about March or April of this year. These vary from old to new (mainly old), and I must admit, that Perdition’s Gate has been my favourite so far. I love the story, I love the level design (often short, sharp and to the point) and I love how challenging it is without being ridiculously impossible to complete. I also draw a lot of parallels between Perdition’s Gate and Quake II (falling down a sewer pipe and starting a new level, dicking about with computers / stopping an alien invasion, and the 2 minutes bomb sequence at the end). Honestly, this one was an absolute ton of fun to play.

Burial – Subtemple / Beachfires (2017)

Burial – Subtemple / Beachfires (2017)

Burial has always been sparse, low key and understated. This double A side (at least I believe its an AA due to the title) 12″ is Burial stripped back even further than I have ever heard before. I am, yes, slowly catching up with the man’s discography (I have fallen off in recent years), but this is easily the most bare bones thing I’ve heard him do.

The Upsetters – Super Ape (1976)

The Upsetters – Super Ape (1976)

Man, this is some good shit. Thick, dense production is the order of the day, which really really lends itself to the dub sound. I’m no expert, but my experience with dub reggae sounds is the same as metal: lots of scooped mids, fat bass and tickling highs. This fucking thing is fat across the middle, just like the ape on the cover. Serious big tunes here, so kick back and enjoy.

Total Fucking Destruction – Peace, Love And Total Fucking Destruction (2008)

Total Fucking Destruction – Peace, Love And Total Fucking Destruction (2008)

A solid entry from TFD, even though a bunch of these songs repeat on a ton of the band’s split 7″s (something which I hate, lookin’ at you Agathocles!). The production really comes into its own here and whilst Hater is probably still my favourite TFD record out of those I’ve heard, you really can’t go wrong with this if insane, scatter-brain grindcore is what you are looking for.

Esham – Homey Don’t Play (1990)

Esham – Homey Don’t Play (1990)

Personally, I blame this EP for the entire existence of ICP. I’m sorry, but there is NO WAY they didn’t model their entire ghetto clown thing off this shit. I mean absolutely no disrespect, but c’mon. Musically, this is oooold school Esham with that trademark sound and delivery, a year or so after Boomin’ Words From Hell dropped. Great shit.