Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Battle of Britain Memorial - The Aftermath Of Your Bright Beings (2011)


Just a quick note before the actual review, since I forgot to mention it in one of the previous posts. All you boys and girls from bands which have, in the past months, sent me a request for being posted here will be written about, even without the previously mentioned physical consent. I don't want to bother you people now with that and will carry the responsibility if some troubles occur. But, bands which in the meantime have already sent me something via mail, like this band and "The Canyon Observer", will go up front a bit, just not to make them wait. Worry not, no one will be neglected and I am really thankful to everyone interested in being on this blog.

"Battle of Britain Memorial" is a four piece act hailing from Toulouse, France. Initially a trio which came together in April 2009, the band expanded its ranks with one more member in the following October and it became their final setup. The band first appeared to the crowd in May 2010 and their recordings saw the light of day one year later, when in May 2011 they released "The Aftermath Of Your Bright Beings". And yes, once again French music manages to highly impress.
This album is truly a beast which succeeded to trample over me upon the very first listen, lashing out a combination of post rock, post metal and screamo. Packed up with six songs and almost forty minutes of music, the tracks are truly massive and composed in such a way that they completely consume your attention. The thing that really intrigued me at first was the fact that every band member has equal amounts of time under the spotlight and everything seems balanced. When I say this I don't just mean the ability of the listener to hear and enjoy every tone when the entire band plays together, but rather instances when a particular instrument steps up and becomes dominant. The perfect example is the opening track, "Welcome to Rapture", which begins with some eerie and atmospheric guitar playing. Later, when the song progresses a bit, one gets the feeling that the drums become the leading instrument, while at the end you get to hear the bass being alone and carrying the song toward the end. This exhibition of certain aspects of the band is present throughout the album and is perfectly executed, since it doesn't sound forced upon, but rather ultimately flowing. Of course, the same goes for the vocal performance which sometimes literally drags the tunes with a forceful command. Swinging between singing so gentle that it seems more like humming at times and a raspy, violent scream, the pinnacles of the verbal sections are quite powerful. I must admit that I really enjoyed the vocals, since the voice is somehow filled with a lot of tension and emotion, the listener having the feeling like it is about to crack any second. Additionally an interesting thing is the use of audio samples which definitely play an important role in this release, because at times they are pushed so much up front that it seems like they are the fifth member of the band.
"The Aftermath Of Your Bright Beings" is a concept album in its core and the flow of the idea is quite good. There is a certain trait of metamorphosis while you listen, since the overall feel of the album changes from aggressive at the beginning and leaning to a more gentle side toward the end. It is not an actual change of style, but much rather a mood swing. Thanks to this, a specific experimental aspect can be sensed in the music and "Battle of Britain Memorial" makes good use of it. Constant tempo changes, the already mentioned tone domination, shifts in mood and the application of samples really paved the way for a high dose of variation when it comes to song composition. Furthermore, this is all enveloped with some excellent production and sound quality thanks to Jérémie Mazan, guitarist of "Nephalokia".
In the end, what to say other than "check this band out". If you are into some music similar to "Rosetta", "Envy", "Time To Burn" and "Arroyo", but crafted in a style contributed solely to "Battle of Britain Memorial", you will not be disappointed. I'd like to thank Jérémy from "Blue Wave Production", the label/booking/promotion from France, for contacting me and for sending the lovely cd, which sadly suffered some damage thanks to a careless postman. You can get in touch with "BWP" via the label's myspace page here and also visit the band's official website found here, where you can download this release. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Distro update

Yeah, so these days I am extremely hooked with listening to "Agalloch" and "Nest" and just can't make myself listen to something else that needs to be reviewed. Until then, I updated the distro section with some new stuff. Remember that although the list is in Serbian, feel free to get in touch even if you are from another country and we will work something out. Some new records are yet to be added, so I will update the list again in the following days.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gig review: Ghone, Aidan Baker, Nadja

Alright, this is a review of a gig to which I was seriously looking forward to in quite a long time. Usually when my brain has that much time to ponder about an upcoming show, I kinda get myself in an over-hyped mood and my expectations are set really high. What happened a few nights ago managed to blow those expectations to oblivion and amaze me beyond words. This was magnificent.

The event happened last Sunday, more precisely 13 November 2011, yet again in "CK13", Novi Sad. Shows just keep popping up in that town that it seriously makes me consider moving over there, if anything to save money I would usually spend to travel to the city. But going back to reality, after some geek action on a "Werewolf: The Apocalypse" session on Sunday, I set off on the trip around 6 PM, catching the train which was surprisingly not late. To my sadness I was travelling alone, so the time during the ride was spent reading some anarchist material I managed to amass, drinking tea and finally arriving to the station somewhere around 8 PM. The gig was supposed to start in one hour from then, so I took a longish slower walk through the city to reach the venue, though the bone piercing wind outside wasn't that pleasant and it actually made me more tired than the walk itself. Arrived, bought ticket, stood in the corner because I was the only person attending alone and probably looking weird, found a neat place near the very stage and somewhere around 9:30 PM the gig began.
"Ghone", a one man project from Greece was the first to create music that night. All his equipment (and that of "Nadja") was set on a little table on the stage, everything being illuminated by one single small lamp, the rest of the lights above the performer being shut off. The audience was slowly getting quiet and "Ghone" cut through the silence with sharp tribal like drumming, with slow and eerie pauses between the beats. The melody was slowly building up and completely entrancing, the sound further expanded with guitar playing. No, not with a pick or with fingers, but with a drum stick. The entire scene where you see "Ghone" enveloped in darkness and using the guitar almost as a violin, creating the most horrific and weird sound was amazing. That entire part of his set was ultimately chilling and grim, tension constantly building up and the sound getting bigger and bigger. What was truly excellent was the progression of the performance, since that eerie tone was slowly transformed into a mellow, gentle and soothing post rock-like melody. It was unbelievably relaxing after all those weird tunes and "Ghone" took his time to set the audience once again at ease. Yet it was a trap, since after all the beauty we were faced with came the darkness once again and we were smashed with some aggressive sections which served as a crescendo moment to end his performance.
After a small pause and a change of light, Aidan Baker got up on stage, taking his guitar and succeeding in taking the crowd for an extremely interesting ride. Repeatedly striking the strings with his palm, Baker created a soundscape which is really hard to describe, but astounding to behold. Watching and listening as he slowly weaved a complex sound construction with constant changes on the pedal knobs and different ways of stroking the strings, managed to make me imagine scenes from the book "Neuromancer". As if flying through the Sprawl, the mood invoked was, personally for me, somewhere between grim and seemingly hopeful. Like I wrote above, extremely hard to describe, but equally mind twisting at the same time. When the crowd was almost completely enveloped in the sound, Leah Buckareff slowly got on stage. She took the bass and masterfully adapted and melded with the ongoing melody created by Baker and thus "Nadja" was formed.
Up until this point, my enjoyment and general entrancement was at its peak constantly, but from the moment Leah joined the stage, the borders of my perception and amazement were penetrated and definitely acquired new heights. What managed to stun me beyond words was the overall perfect combination of both the audio and visual elements, their entire performance like a theater play rather than a regular concert. The sound was indescribable. As the flight through the Sprawl took an unexpected turn, the audience became faced with an enormous cage of sound, nowhere left to run away from it. The vastness and the gigantic proportions of the tones were constantly increasing, literally as if dozens of atomic bombs were detonated around the venue and a work of art being created around you at the same time. While I was standing there in the front row, everything was shaking, my whole body feeling the sound crawling over me at one point, chest pounding and at the peak of everything my left ear felt a short, slashing pain. Meanwhile, the video performance was astounding. Amid the total chaos of distortion and noise, Leah and Aidan were calm, slow moving and gentle, everything crashing around us yet they remained ultimately serene. Their hands were moving above the pedals on the table and masterfully crafting the sound around us, looking like they were slowly picking fruit rather than creating the explosions attacking the crowd. I have been into drone for some time now and seeing such sound being created live was extremely inspiring. The amount of audio manipulation, the overall skill performed by the musicians and various tricks displayed seemed just unbelievably entertaining and once again, purely inspiring. After their performance, there was so much ovation and cheer from the audience, the venue being full by the way, that both Aidan and Leah went off stage with smiles on their faces.
Reading what I wrote in this review, I can't help but realize how short it is, yet being quite descriptive at the same time. It is simply a result of me experiencing this show as something truly artistic and like nothing I saw before. Thus the review itself is a closer expression of the thoughts brooding in my head, more personal than it is usually the case and far less technical. It was an amazing gig and definitely one that deserves to be in my top 3, simply because everything was perfect. "This is beautiful. This is art."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's more like a message to you

As a wise comic book man once said "with great power comes great responsibility" and it seems that the saying can be applied to blog running as well. Looks like this little moth blog acquired quite a fine dose of fame, so to speak, thus recently it has been under the watchful eye of labels and non-band entities. It might sound like a cool thing and it is to some extent, but as the above written quote says, there are some rather unpleasant issues that came along as well.
Namely, in the past few weeks I have received a couple of emails criticizing me for reviewing and posting download links of some bands without the "consent of the respected label", which was quite weird to me. I had to battle my way through things, saying that the bands asked me to review/post them, forwarding emails back and what not, everything being quite frustrating. Luckily after several of those eerie and extremely unpleasant moments and maneuvers I held my ground and the reviews were saved. I seriously don't know what is wrong with the reviews and uploads, maybe those people think that I'm profiting from this in some way and taking glory points away from the people who put out the records with blood, sweat and tears or whatever such nonsense. I'm writing all of these reviews/interviews/tour announcements/everything because I find enjoyment in this and have met a lot of wonderful people through the blog. A bunch of times a band/label would ask me to review them and later not only do they not spread the word about the said review, but much rather fail to even say thanks for the write-up, yet I don't mind, since I'm doing all of this out of pure enjoyment. In fact, the vast majority of everything posted on the blog (something like 90%) was posted per band request and not my own personal pick, which I'm thankful for since I found a lot of amazing bands this way and consider their wish to be here a compliment to my "work". A couple of times I already ranted about blogs and diy and passion and other shit associated with everything in this type of music, which I won't do now since I'd end up writing an enormous wall of text of hate and education and would sound like a pissed off man waving his walking stick and would be just repeating myself.
So, because of all these people who fail to understand the machine that works behind this blog and underground music in general, I'd like to kindly ask all of you something, so that you help me out with not having to battle angry and insulted people in the future. Please, read on:

If you are a solo artist/band/label/whoever and are interested in being reviewed on "Natures With No Plagues", PLEASE send some form of consent toward me, but NOT just in digital format. Send anything, be it a letter asking for a review with a drawing/love letter/band picture/poem/joke/palm print/nude pictures/song tabs (this would be so cool), a cd-r with burned tracks, promo material, real label consent or the actual official release on tape/cd/vinyl/floppy/VHS which you desire to be reviewed, anything as long as I have some "proof" that someone in fact wanted something to be posted up here. Anyone interested can contact me from now on through my email and ask for my address, so that we can further talk about whatever.

I feel completely stupid for having to post this, but I just don't want to have my own experience with spreading my thoughts on digital paper about something I really love get ruined by other bitter people. Lately several bands have actually sent their cds and whatnot toward me on their own right, so I think that setting up these "rules" is nothing out of the ordinary, just making everyone safe, sound and keeping this flowing.
And for those who have been insulted by my review without their respected green light and those infuriated by this post, I recommend listening to this.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Downfall of Gaia & Vestiges - Winter 2011/2012 USA Tour

Yes, these two amazing bands are gonna be conquering the States this winter! The whole tour is pretty much sorted out as much as I see, so this is here just to give you a heads up in case you didn't know that they will be playing in your area. Be sure not to miss out on a gig if you have a chance to attend!

27.12. MA/NY - TBA
28.12. Baltimore, MD - The Compound
29.12. Washington, DC - TBA
30.12. Richmond, VA - Strange Matter (w/Balaclava)
31.12. Rock Hill, SC - The Courtroom
01.01. Asheville, NC - The Get Down (w/Autarch)
02.01. Baton Rouge, LA - Here Today Gone Tomorow (w/THOU)
03.01. Austin, TX - The Scoot Inn (w/ Dead to a Dying World)
04.01. Denton, TX - TBA (w/ Dead to a Dying World)
05.01. Nashville, TN - Little Hamilton Collective (w/ Dead to a Dying World, Sky Burial)
06.01. Pittsburgh, PA - Mr. Roboto Project (w/Complete Failure)
07.01. NY/NJ - TBA*
08.01. Philadelphia, PA - TBA*
*only Vestiges

Recently I traveled with "Downfall of Gaia" on their Eastern European tour, so check out my reviews of those gigs h e r e, just to prepare your mind to be blown away if you go to a show. Also, I did interviews with both "Vestiges" and "Downfall of Gaia", which you can check out here and here

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Canyon Observer - Chapter I: The Current Of Her Ocean Brings Me To My Knees (2011)


I took a few days to rest from writing, since all those gig reports really took it out of me. It is always strange how even the slightest breaking of the writing schedule can make me extremely lazy, so a couple of days turns into a week. Time to roll up the sleeves and dive into the keyboard.

"The Canyon Observer" is a quintet coming from Slovenia, bearing sounds ranging from post metal to sludge and a slight touch of post rock. There isn't much information about this five piece online aside of the rich gig list they have behind them, playing with bands like "Russian Circles", "Rosetta" and "City of Ships". The thing that enraged me was the fact that they actually had a show in Belgrade some time ago, but of course I didn't know about that, retarded "promoters" from this city striking again. Anyway, the first blog post the band made hails from February this year, so I presume that the formation of the project occurred some time prior to that. This release, however, came out in October and it is the first recorded material of the band.
"The Current Of Her Ocean Brings Me To My Knees" brings us four songs with roughly half an hour of music, so get ready for some long and epic tracks. At times when bands have those six plus minute songs, tracks often bear repetitive tones to fill the void and max the length, but the first thing that I noticed while listening to "The Canyon Observer" was the amount of various sounds implemented per title. Something new is constantly happening in a given song, be it a sudden melody shift, a vibrating gentle guitar section or just outright aggressive mayhem, most of the times without any riff or part being repeated.  Only the final track, "My Will", drags along an incredibly massive and reckless repeating sound, but it serves its purpose so well, creating a really heavy sludge atmosphere which the listener dares not to question.
The thing that I really enjoyed with this band is the clash of those violent and soothing parts. There is even a third element floating around, a sort of atmospheric trait which acts as a bridge between the above mentioned sections. It is extremely enjoyable how you are being bounced between the three moody areas, especially since you witness that audio evolution and buildup. The first track, "The Lingering Scent Of Her Divinity", is a perfect example of the harmony and shifting nature of the band's music and just a perfect intro into the album. The slow and mellow buildup at the start of the song takes its time to grow, with tribal-like drumming, a superb background bass line and some elegant guitar playing. But past the second minute, the music suddenly changes and crashes down onto you, with the addition of the vocal leading the collapse in the form of something between a scream and a growl. Once the short explosion of aggression ends, the atmospherics reach their peak, with even the vocal being transformed into a singing one. Until the end of the song you are being thrown between those various mood changes and that trait is omnipresent and persistent even with the rest of the tracks. If I were to quote some of their possible music inspiration, I'd say that there is some quite heavy "Isis" influence being heard in their tunes, which I consider to be an enormous plus, being able to recognize that. Of course, the cool thing is that they managed to carve their way and create something that is solemnly contributed to them alone.
All in all, I really enjoyed this first chapter of the story which "The Canyon Observer" wants to tell. There is quite a lot of potential being heard in their music and I definitely look forward to hearing something more from them. Hopefully they will come to Serbia again for a show and maybe even do a big tour over the rest of Europe, so keep your eyes open. You can get in touch with the band through their tumblr page found here. Be sure to check their page out since it has both the gig dates and some pretty sweet live footage. Enjoy!