Thursday, September 29, 2011

Alenah - Mitt Waterloo (2011)


It has been an extremely long, tiring day and I'm finally at home, surrounded by my cats and ready to relax myself with putting some words online. Usually, I post stuff on the blog in the morning hours while drinking coffee, but this one seems like a good night snack.

You should all be well introduced to "Alenah" by now, since this is a band that has been featured on this blog quite a long time ago, actually during its early days when I wasn't acting all smart and writing a wall of text per every post. Yes, this Swedish quintet is still going strong and when Oscar from the band wrote to me about posting this single I immediately went back to check out my review of their previous release, "Sotiga Liljor I Seine". And damn, was that a shitty "review"...yet the dudes enjoyed it, so big hugs for the shown thankfulness. Usually I'd say "yay go back and check it out", but this time you might as well skip it. But what the heck, you might just check it out for the band's sake, so head along and read it here.
Anyways as I mentioned above, "Alenah" prepared for us a single which came out this April. Consisting of two songs, this release really reminded me how good and underrated this band really is. Prior to taking a listen to the single now, I re-listened to their first recording and it once again managed to spark that certain amazement from yours truly. The release was fast, aggressive and rushing past you in a crazy whirlwind of sound, making you want to either break something due to the adrenalin surge or just scream along to the songs. It had a superbly clean sound which the members used to show us just how technical they can be, even amid total chaos. As for "Mitt Waterloo", the quality, uniqueness and the technical aspect were transferred from their predecessor. The thing that is somewhat different is the introduction of the slightly different style of composition. While the second song on the release, "Ett Dödsdatum Satt", provides the well known speedy melody and rushing riffs of "Alenah", the first song bears new traits. Named after the release itself, "Mitt Waterloo" starts out with a slow muted guitar and sounds which you can hardly make out, going between a distant scream and scratchy distortion. Soon it all goes nuts and explodes with insanely catchy riffs and that amazing vocal performance which I enjoy so much. The song goes fast and furious with everything from pounding melodies and pack screaming, until it reaches the middle when tone drops and the vocal is left alone. Explosion again. Vocal alone again. Explosion again and after that, the same melody returns back, but this time somehow stretched and slower, in the end going so far as to becoming completely sluggish and acquires a really melancholic tone while the vocal remains aggressive.
Maybe it's just me thinking way too much about the music I listen to, but this seems like a bit of an experimentation moment on the band's side. Which I fully approve, since it sounds great, especially because it caught me completely off guard due to the fact that they left an impression in my head of a "fast" band with their previous release, the song "Vindspel" being a sort of signature track for me. Of course, they had slower sections, but I guess that they were overshadowed with the other more "in your face" tones or samples and didn't have enough space to leave an impact. "Mitt Waterloo" really managed to mark its presence with a certain emotion and mood, at the same time continuing what the band was known for and somewhat providing a bit of an evolution in the process.
I haven't heard from the dudes since April (NOTE: because you didn't reply to them, idiot), but as much as good old says they had a gig recently, meaning they are still very much alive and kicking. The guys in the band are still young and the band itself is quite fresh, thus it would be amazing to see their future work and see what more they can throw at us. In the meantime, check them out and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Moths are not what they seem

I planned to do some more reviews until September comes to an end, which I will do in fact, but probably less then I expected. This post is just here to clarify why, since I just wanted you all to know that I'm not sitting at home with crossed arms, but working for the blog in full gear!
So, as I said, yesterday and today were supposed to be dedicated to writing a review, but good friend Luka struck me once again with a fine batch of bands interested in doing an interview for "Natures With No Plagues". Thus, questions were produced massively and in the end two were sent, while one is still being written. The amazing black metal/shoegaze/call it how you wish quintet "Deafheaven" already received their questions, as did the the well known hc/crust band "Masakari". At the moment, the interview getting its final touches is for "Homunculi", up and coming post rock/black metal project from Brazil. We also spoke to two more bands, though we are yet to begin writing for them, one being the crust/sludge/doom from Sweden "Agrimonia" and while the other is "Nux Vomica", a band already featured on this blog in a gig review.
On top of all that, I am still waiting for answers from "Owls Are Not What They Seem" and "Gattaca", about whom you can read in my Fluff Fest reports, as well as from "Panopticon" and "Thou". These latter two I doubt will ever see the light of day on this blog, because several months have passed since the questions were sent. But hey it is quite understandable, due to the fact that Austin is a busy family man and "Thou" pumps out new releases like crazy, I think those guys don't sleep! I was really looking forward to those, but there is much more to be done anyway and who knows, maybe one day.
Also, there will be (hopefully) a lot of gig reports in October. As you can see on my page in the events list, I am gonna try and attend a fine number of shows, some of which are beyond the borders of Serbia and it should be a pretty interesting month. I am reluctant to write about the names which I will see live, since I am becoming really superstitious, because every time I post too early that I will go to a gig I end up not going. Yes, I am that crazy.
So there you have it, some of the plans in a nutshell. Tomorrow or the day after I will write a release review and hopefully Friday is going to see one as well. Until then, stay tuned!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Means To An End - Winter Demo (2011)


Woke up early in the morning today only to realize that all of my plans for the day got cancelled by other people. So the unexpected free time should be put to good use and to try and deplete my inbox which is boiling with submissions.

For several months now I have been on an extremely addictive dose of some older screamo projects from the end of the 90's and the first quarter of 2000's, more specifically bands like "Mihai Edrisch", "Orchid" and "Jeromes Dream". Listening to them, one really realizes how those bands had a certain something that sets them miles apart from today's screamo. Here and there you get to hear a brief glimpse of influence from those legendary names, but usually it doesn't get further than that. Well, "Means To An End" is one of these bands that has a strong potential of resurrecting some of that old spirit.
The five piece chaotic screamo from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania recorded this demo in the early months of 2011 and thus far this is their first released material. This project features members of "Masochrist" and "Old Accusers", which I am yet to take a listen to so I will skip talking much about that. But speaking of the above mentioned old spirit, "Means To An End" harbors a very strong taste and influence from "Orchid", at least in my ears. Amid the overall chaos, vocal and instrumental whirlwind, at times I managed to grasp something that managed to awake a certain feel of nostalgia which I connect to some already mentioned bands. I won't write much about this tidbit, since it is in fact just an "influence", so in the meantime just listen for yourself and I will mention what I have on this regard in the closing words.
Getting a bit more technical with the actual music, the "Winter Demo" brings us four tracks with somewhere around eighteen minutes of tunes. In that time, quite a lot of stuff is thrown into your lap and I personally found enjoyment in every second of it. The opening track, "The Day We've Been Dreading For So Long Is Finally Upon Us", specifically took my breath away and I actually ended up playing just that song several times in a row. We are greeted with a chaotic start, buzzing guitars distorting and crashing around the place, the bass following with its deep growl in the same pace, the drums pounding their way through all the craziness and the vocal, of course, being in the form of a raspy, stretched out scream nearly melding with the other instruments. It's all fun and games until you reach the middle of the song which really made me go "wow". Tempo suddenly drops and everything takes on a new dimension, slowly building up toward yet another explosion. This slower mid part really flung me back into the beginning of the 2000 when it comes to screamo. The guitar acquired a clear and gentle, yet somewhat saddening tone, while the bass is heard here and there, like it is hiding behind the guitar, while the drums perform a droning background melody. Tension builds up a bit more as the distorted strings hit again, still slow, with the clean tones crawling through at times. And at last it all explodes again, this time with multiple screams, all leading into an amazing end.
As you can see, quite a more detailed description for just one song, but honestly, "Means To An End" really made me ponder a bit more about their songs then usual. And like I said, they throw at you a lot of things and one just keeps discovering more aspects of their tunes with each listen. I just noticed, for instance, how this pack screaming in the second song is damn amazing. All in all, for a demo this is really great and it definitely sparks interest about their future work, especially since it will probably carry a lot better sound quality and cleaner sound. These recordings aren't bad, mind you, but you can actually sense that this is a demo, if you know what I mean. In the course of listening this release, I also noticed how the band is still experimenting with their sound, since for example you have two songs that are longer than your usual song (longer than four minutes), while the other two are quite short (less then 2 minutes or a few seconds above that) and are actually "untitled". Not only that, but the latter songs also have a different playing style, grabbing some mathy traits, having some riffs that reminded me of bands such as "Merchant Ships", though far less...twinkly. (NOTE: no, I don't call such bands "twinkle daddies", thank you very much, just that word seems quite descriptive for certain riffs) Additionally, those two songs don't have that specific melancholic or slightly depressed/angry mood like the first two tracks, so there is a big style gap in the middle of the demo.
With everything being written thus far, "Means To An End" is a very interesting band. I have nothing but praise to say about the fact that they managed to invoke the nostalgic feel in my chest, especially since those words are rare on this blog, despite me always trying to shine a light on whatever it is a certain band does best. The older screamo style is just an influence on this project apparently, but the potential they glimpsed at us is truly great and my sincere recommendations are that the band should definitely fully embrace this. They also showed potential for a completely different branch of this genre, standing shoulder to shoulder with the previously recommended one. All in all, whichever way they decide to go, their metamorphosis will absolutely be intriguing to behold. Until then, check them out for yourselves and get in touch with them on their blog found here or facebook page found here. Enjoy!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Taste The Void - In Search For Light (2011)


Wow, it seems that time flies even when you are not having fun. Quite a horrid period for your host on a personal level, so in a blink of an eye I realized that more than a week has passed since my last post. The low post counter drives me nuts, so I'll try and be more active after this entry.

"Taste The Void" is a quartet coming from Nantes, France. It has been quite a lot of time since I have had the privilege to be introduced to a French band and I was really excited about hearing this. Most of my readers know how much I praise this country for its screamo projects, but this time we have a post metal/hardcore band on our hands, showing how much the land has various tricks up its sleeve. Ok, I got a bit philosophical with this paragraph, but the excuse for such mumbling is that you really can't find a lot of info about this project, other than that it is a four piece and that they have just this release behind their backs, which came out on 2 February 2011. The mere fact that it is a French project should be enough to get you interested, trust me on that.
Getting a bit to the point, this release, named "In Search For Light", brings us two songs which combine into a fifteen minute giant. After a few seconds of distorted, scratching sounds greeting you at the beginning, you immediately realize how enormous this monster really is. The riffs are sluggish, yet extremely powerful, while the drums provide a persistent beating on all your senses, slightly reminding me of "Time To Burn" or "In The Final Analysis". If you listened to those bands then you will know how much chaotic and massive their sound is. Of course, everything is accompanied by quite a grim and sort of depressive tone, which pretty much justifies the name of the band. At times the mood is splashed with some very slow and gentle parts, harboring quite a lot of melancholy within.
The things I wrote thus far don't sound quite revolutionary when it comes to the genre "Taste The Void" is associated with. This may sound like a flaw, but hey, why would it be? The merits of this band are found in their skill to sculpt the genre in their own visage, which they managed to do quite well and in a lot of different ways. First of all, there is interesting variation when it comes to the vocal performance. Starting out as a screamed, raspy vocal, the voice morphs in the course of the songs into gentle and quite clean singing. Other times however, it becomes a near humming like sound, which is very interesting, since it provides a unbelievable amount of contrast to the music. For instance in the first song, the first time you get to hear that soothing singing the music keeps the dark and brooding tone, which actually makes quite an eerie atmosphere.
Aside of the vocal, the very music itself is extremely interesting. Despite the fact that it clings to the, I'll use the brutal word, "cliches" of the genres, it provides a score of unique details. One of the aces really sprout out of the songs and hit me in the head, that being the fact that amid all of the chaos there is a specific repetitive tone which connects everything together. This is somehow omnipresent for the duration of a specific track and it kinda gives a flowing feel to the tunes. The existence of something like that is a very good composition move, since the songs in general provide a lot of variation in the form of tempo changes, different riffs and rapid mood shifts, so if there was nothing holding all of this together we would have an entirely different tag for this band.
Usually when it comes to bands like this I need to find myself in a specific mood to be able to listen, but thanks to the flowing yet sluggish shifting melodies of "Taste The Void", the band managed to completely grasp my attention without any personal adjustments. They definitely succeed in tickling your interest with the initial entry into your player and that is quite a rare trait. Overall, I enjoyed this release a lot and would really like to see some more work from these four dudes. My sincere recommendations go to all of you to take a listen to this band, since I absolutely stand by the statement that you won't regret it. In case you want to throw just a glance, you can check them out on their facebook page here or on their bandcamp page here. The bandcamp profile also contains a video of their live performance, so be sure to drop by and view it. Also, the posted download link in this review is courtesy of the band. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mala In Se - Mala In Se (2011)


These past few days I completely melted my brain with various black metal bands and found myself in need of some new stuff completely out of the norm. Plus, I haven't written a release review in quite a long time, so this seemed like a good excuse to get back on track.

"Mala In Se" is a trio hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, presumably formed in 2010. I say presumably, since on some places the year 2010 is found as a release year of this album, while on others you will find the year 2011. In the email I received from "Phratry Records" the spring of this year is mentioned as the official release date, so we'll go along with that. In any case, "mala in se" is a phrase in Latin which means "evil in itself" or "offenses against conscience". Once you take a listen to this album you realize how much the name actually suits the band, since the name implies the existence of multiple layers of something (in this case evil if you take it literally, but we will get to that as well). Namely, the band whips out a completely weird mutation of noise, mathrock /core, psychedelic and quite a few other tidbits as well. The instrumental section and overall style of song composition is absolutely hard to define, since there are a ton of genres, tempos and layers of sound flying around. For example, the intro song named "Time lapse photography of decomposing animals" starts off with spasmic, pounding and rushing drums which are accompanied by extremely distorted and chaotic strings. After a few seconds of smashing into your brain, the aggressiveness calms down, followed with some howling of the strings, only for everything to explode again in the next instance, but this time with a bit of a sludge-like tone. Things shift between this and the rushing drums from the beginning, yet somewhere at the middle of the song we are greeted with a section that reminded me of something that could most likely crawl from a "Meshuggah" song. One other great example is the song "Devil Dung". The intro is an eerie sound made by the guitar, but it is soon broken by some overtly technical playing, later transformed into a fast metal-like beast. Tempo drops drastically moments after and it lasts for a while until everything acquires a post metal/sludge tone. Yet, once all the behemoth smashing is over, the ending is executed in an extremely minimalistic fashion and just trails off. As you can see, there are really multiple layers per song, but everything is tied together with a sort of unifying undertone that keeps it all tight and orderly. Be it a certain instrument, a repetitive vocal performance or something else, there is always one element keeping a specific track from being lost in utter chaos. Tempo and melody changes are almost omnipresent, yet you always feel as though everything is in order and there are no stray tones.
Speaking of vocal performance, they definitely deserve some special credits as well. Both string players contribute with their voices and the cool thing is that even here some contrasts and different layers are present. On one side you have a screaming/yelling vocal, while on the other there is a sort of half whine, half shrieking one. This not only provides the above mentioned contrast, but also the combination is unique and quite interesting, not to mention how chilling it is especially when the vocals are followed by some gruesome riffs. The vocals justify the name of the band as well, since they speak of animal cruelty, environmentalism and similar subjects, the evil I mentioned in the beginning. However, it is here where I have a complaint, though it is not a real complaint per se, and that is the band not posting their lyrics on their bandcamp page (which is found here, by the way). What little notion I managed to grab from their words was kinda tough and seeing as though the lyrics are in theme of the rest of the band, posting them online would definitely make things much more enjoyable. So yeah, not really a flaw, just a minor suggestion, if anyone from the band reads this.
All in all, I am really impressed by "Mala In Se". Not every band can manage to throw at you such a bomb filled with chaos and succeed in taming it. This trio has a specific talent with that and I am honestly looking forward to hearing some future work from them. Until then, definitely check out their self titled release, you won't regret it! Download link is provided by "Phratry Records". Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Gig review: La Dispute, Touche Amore, Death Is Not So Glamorous, Dance Or Die!!!, Wasted Struggle, Libido Wins

Ouch, an unexpected amount of days passed between posts, simply because I am completely stuck with listening to a handful of bands, among which are "Wolves In The Throne Room" and "Nadja", so I just couldn't make my mind think and write about anything else. I was also, kinda desperately, waiting for four expected interviews to arrive, but since they still haven't arrived I guess it is time to write something here. Like the previous gig review, this will be more of a comment of sorts, since I already reviewed "La Dispute" and "Touche Amore" in the Fluff Fest report...and more than a month has passed since the gig, so my thoughts about it are already fading a bit.

In any case, the show was held on Monday, 1 August 2011, in a venue called "Dürer Kert" in Budapest. The location of the place is very cool, since it is close to a huge park through which I walked prior to the gig, so from my perspective it seemed as if it is quite secluded from the rest of the city. The complex where the venue is found is quite a big one, composed out of an indoor bar and a sort of cafe, an outdoor bar/cafe as well with a lot of benches, swings and generally a lot of room for hanging out. And of course, the big room where the gig was held. The room was in constant darkness, except for the stage lights, so I kinda failed to pay attention to the design of the place. What did attract my attention immediately when "Libido Wins" started playing was that the sound was horrible, but I will get to that a bit later.
So yeah, first band started playing, but I wasn't actually present in the room, instead diving my nose into the distro section which was placed in a long corridor outside of the gig space. After some drooling and in the end picking up a "Pg.99/Reactor No.7" split and some other sweetness, I went inside the venue to see "Wasted Struggle" playing, completely missing out on the first band. Generally speaking, the band wasn't really to my liking, since the vocal constantly seemed out of place. The drummer however, was a total enjoyment to watch, since he has a very interesting style of playing and the drums themselves really jump out from the rest of the band, in a positive way of course. While the drums proved to be a solid and enjoyable piece, the other elements of the band seemed overtly chaotic and in disarray. In defense of the band I have to mention the sound issue here. The sound bouncing around the venue was extremely obnoxious, the volume being too loud which resulted in the listener unable to hear everything due to the crunchiness and general dispersion of the sound throughout the room. It really took me some time to get used to the audio mayhem and this experience is actually a good reminder to bring ear plugs to gigs in the future.
"Dance Or Die!!!" was up next and I was extremely happy that I will get to see them. In case you are not familiar with the band, I did a review of their release some time ago, so if you missed that one definitely check it out. It is quite short, since it is from the early days of the blog when I wasn't such a "wiseass know-it-all", so take a quick read to get the general picture of the band. The review is found here. Anyways, the band managed to live up to my expectations as a hyper, insane and maniacal entity, simply devastating the crowd during their set. All the chaos and unexpectedness from the recordings is perfectly reflected during their show and the feeling is increased a tenfold with added aggression and the visual part of the performance. As much as I was impressed with them, later I heard from my Hungarian host that the band prefers not having a stage under their feet and at times randomly running into the crowd with their instruments while still playing, so this definitely sparked some more interest about seeing them again. It is really worth mentioning that "Dance Or Die!!!" provided an excellent show despite the awful sound of the venue, bending the chaos and the raspy sound to their will. A totally crazy band, which by the way released two splits, one being a tape with "The Balls Of Justice" and the other a seven inch split with "PFA". You can check out those on their bandcamp page, found here.
"Death Is Not So Glamorous" was next, though I am not a big fan of their music, so I opted to spend some time with my friends outside. After some hanging out, we got inside to find neat spots to listen to "La Dispute". I have to say that I enjoyed the band here more than on Fluff Fest, since, as I mentioned in the festival report, I consider them not really being an open air festival material, instead excelling at a show with a small number of people. And as expected, the atmosphere was great and the overall connection between the band and the audience was on a much more intimate level than when I previously saw them live. There was a lot of energy flowing around from both sides and it was a real enjoyment being a part of that. The song selection was almost copied from the one on Fluff Fest, with the addition of "Said The King To The River" as an encore song and one new song from their upcoming release. I don't know what else to say, since I pretty much covered it all on the festival report. The same goes for "Touche Amore" who were really great, but with an even wilder atmosphere, more stage diving, singalongs and rapid movement in the crowd. And it was finally great to witness everyone screaming the lyrics of "Honest Sleep" and being able to participate in that as well, since on Fluff it was just one dude next to me who knew the words...which was ultimately retarded. All in all, it was a great gig and I was extremely happy to be able to see "Dance Or Die!!!", who are definitely a personal highlight, since I already saw the main bands before. The only downside was the sound of the venue, but hey, you can't have it all.

Friday, September 2, 2011

CN Roundhouse Kick & Distinct Cult - Winter 2011/2012 Euro Tour

Today I wanted to write about something else, but receiving this yesterday made me change priorities a bit. Some time ago I also received a review request from "CN Roundhouse Kick", though I am yet to write about them, so until then this tour announcement will be posted. Winter is still far away, yet these two bands plan to set up everything as soon as possible and on time. Four shows are already booked and here is their basic tour schedule:

25.12. - Ruda Slaska, Poland @ Adk Berza
26.12. - Lublin, Poland @ Tektura
27.12. - Slovakia
28.12. - Cluj Napoca, Romania @ La Gazette
29.12. - Romania
30.12. - Romania
31.12. - Romania
01.01. - Day off or somewhere in Bulgaria
02.01. - Greece
03.01. - Greece
04.01. - Greece
05.01. - Greece
06.01. - Bulgaria
07.01. - Kumanovo, Macedonia @ Kc Bingo
08.01. - Serbia
09.01. - Hungary
10.01. - Czech republic

A pretty long tour and a lot of shows to be booked, so if you are interested in helping the bands out or just wish to give them a contact for booking, feel free to do so via the following mail:
cn-rhk AT web DOT de

Also, until I get to write about the bands, you can check them out on their websites, "CN Roundhouse Kick" found here and "Distinct Cult" found here.