Gong Wah - Gong Wah
Cell Press – Cell Press
Sea Sleeper – Nostophobia
PS: Nostophobia is the fear of everything old or everything related to nostalgia.
Blunt Razors – Early Aught
Gong Wah - Gong Wah
psychedelic / shoegaze
There was always something about the sunset in California as far as I remember. It was fast but it was a kind of orange that not only pulsated because of eruptions on the surface of the sun but that seemed to resonate with life with the pumping of the blood in our veins. One might have seen the sun go down thousands of times and yet, every time it feels brilliant and perfect if you sit down and take the time to really see it. When listening to Gong Wah’s self-titled debut album, there is this very same feeling. The band from Cologne, Germany has a certain mood and radiance surrounding their tracks that makes them stand out from the mass. The music is psychedelia in a very familiar way, but there is also some post-punk and some Golden State kind of AOR. It is like a mix of 13th Floor Elevators and the Mamas and the Papas, Blondie and A Place to Bury Strangers. A lot of that has to do with the voice of Inga Nelke, who met the two guitarists Thorsten Dohle and Felix Will early 2018; the band has grown to a full quintet since then. The other element contributing to this loving feeling is the guitar sound, which is a bit like a crossover between A Place to Bury Strangers and some simple effective wah-wah sounds. You need some sunshine in your life during these cold autumn and winter days,? Gong Wah is a good choice for you.
Cell Press – Cell Press
screamo / black metal
Montreal. A thriving scene. Lots of thriving scenes. Awesome bands. LOADS of awesome bands. One example would be Cell Press. Their new five-song EP to be released at the end of the month is adding a deep and well-constructed example for modern screamo. They are not playing it safe with this 24-song-monster, whose final track takes up nearly half of the time of the whole EP (and probably one complete side of the cassingle). The first four tracks are all variants of the screamo genre, some a little more on the black metal side, some a little more on the noise side. What really brings them all together is the thoughtfulness with which they perform: Listening to the first track “Piss Police” one notices that they use the same riff as intro and as outro. Or the final track “My Son will No the Truth” which they never want to play live – it’s more of an experiment with each musician adding one layer to the song without knowing what will be added next. And all of it is based on an 11-minute solo by drummer Mark McGee, who taped the solo and on the next day each musician added his part single-handedly so that in the end the band came up with a monster of a subdued noisy ambient track that never seems to find its course. But this sheer aimlessness makes it even more intriguing. Or the third track “Black Out in Verdun” which is right in the middle between Helmet (the drumming and the bass!) and some early HydraHead bands (the vocals and the dirty, meaty riffs!) - here the band is as close to noise-core as it gets. To put it in a nutshell: Don’t miss on Cell Press!
Sea Sleeper – Nostophobia
post metal / grunge
Sea Sleeper are from Seattle, Washington and, strange as it may sound, you can hear those old, deep grunge roots in their sound, especially in the vocals shared by bassist Nick Kessler and guitarist Jess Cooley. Sometimes it’s just this special kind of Northwestern phrasing, sometimes it’s a little reminiscence to vocals by the Grunge icons Staley and Cornell, just this special kind of slighty higher intonation that is still gritty. The band plays a mix of metalcore, blackened post-metal and some sort of tech death metal. What is striking that the band and especially the rhythm section is really up to the best of the game seemingly changes paces and genres effortlessly. Shane Cooley is on point and delivering some awesome blastbeats and fine-carved work driving the songs with force and finesse. Nevertheless, it is not to be denied that the band should improve a bit on the riff-side when they really want to go pedal to the metal, because the guitar lines cannot keep up. It is all fine, when it’s midtempo and Jess can add some extra distortion but when the songs speed ahead it seems as if he can’t come up with ideas other than your regular metalcore stuff. The vocals give the new album enough of a twist to keep listening, always waiting for that next moment, when they show the influence of their home scene and when the songs exceed the 6 minute mark. “Far more than Substance Now” is a good example for that, with its nearly eight minutes and some really interesting slowdowns and middle parts. If the band follows the path this song and “Mountain Carver” show up, they will definitely gain a lot more attention with their next record.
PS: Nostophobia is the fear of everything old or everything related to nostalgia.
Blunt Razors – Early Aught
dream pop / emo
Planes Mistaken for Stars were/are one of the most important bands at the crossing between hardcore and midwestern emo without ever being emo-core. They released several full lengths all to critical acclaim. Two members of the band now release a Covid-quarantine EP under the moniker Blunt Razors and via Deathwish (where PMFS also published their last full length). Gared O’Donnell and Neil Keener have collected six tracks, one being a cover of the Kate Bush song “Under Ice”. Their record is pure Midwestern magic with lots of spherical guitar lines, hushed up drums and a voice to fall to your knees to. The whole things becomes even more intimate when we remember that Gared is undergoing medical treatment for cancer. The songs show a kind of longing and wishing that it becomes hard not to fall in love with them. It’s like Cyrano watching his beloved from afar and never quite getting her attention. The last lines in “Amber Waves” are a perfect example for this: “I’m just a minute / A minute above you babe / Could you meet me / Would you keep me / Could you give me your minutes / To drown in amber waves“. The narrator is so close to his beloved but yet there is this unbridgeable distance so that he can only dream of them being together and chase new ways. We share these moments and the duo has this ability of drawing us into the songs so much, that we do not feel like observers anymore but participants. The melodies are so delicate and the whole setting so calming and soothing that one cannot but hit repeat and repeat and repeat.
HAD - HAD
death metal / black metal / thrash
Dark Descent Records is one of the most important labels in modern Death Metal, also because they are based in Death Metal Heaven aka Denver, Colorado and because they release the records of death metal megalith’s “Blood Incantation”. With the eponymous debut-EP by the relentless monster called HAD from Copenhagen they released another high quality record by a band that never forgives. HAD is Danish for “hate” and the name is definitely part of the party program. You get 20 minutes of high-octane death metal with no fresh air, no hopeful light, no sound to soothe. Speedy as hell and executing with a blunt axe but making for that lack of precision by mere violence. I think I counted one little break within the four songs and that was in the middle of the final track “Skingrer de døendes pinefulde skrig” (which translates to something like “Dispelling the tormenting cries of the Dying”) and even this little slow-down never comes close to something like doom, it’s still rather midtempo. I am pretty sure that the live shows by this outfit will be something to behold, but best to be witnessed with an oxygen mask and a little reminder that you will be allowed to leave the venue afterwards. Some members of the audience should be given that in order for them not to break down in front of such HAD and speedy masterclass craftsmanship.
Jonathan Fraser – Heaven Is At A Distance
blackmetal / blackgaze
Jonathan Fraser is one of the perfect examples of how often we are led astray by our subconscious labeling of people – one would never guess that there is a black metal soul inside this very humble and gentle person. But when listening to his music it becomes clear that there are some inner demons having taken hold of this man, who together with the help of some friends recorded some wonderful blackgaze music very much in the vein of Skyforest or Numenorean. A lot of swirling, swooshing, uplifting spherical guitar-work that is happening in these songs that are perfectly contrastingly laid upon driving drums. Speaking of drums; that is something one should behold on this record: The drums are sharp and poignant but never pounding, which means, they are the force majeure on the album but never try to outperform the other instruments – signs of a good and thoughtful mix. The other, dominant instrument is, of course, the guitar, and here Fraser delivers so many brilliant moments, for example the move from high-pitched crescendos to intimate picking after a bit more than three minutes of “Empty Prayers, Hollow Gestures”. This track also leads to the motivation behind the album: the artist Jonathan Fraser wrote this for the person Jonathan Fraser, who for near-two years has been suffering from the loss of his dear mother to cancer. He even published an “EP” with “music” that was recorded alongside his mum’s dying. In the booklet one found documents to show how he experienced this slow decay; Fraser himself doesn’t even consider this a proper release but it seems to be his chronicle for those nine months. And somehow there is a connection between these records – the strong intimacy created by his work, the simplicity of some of the synth structures building upon each other, the heartfelt pain going into every hit on the keys. Jonathan is – as of now – not healthy, he probably wouldn’t even say that himself. It’s an ongoing process: learning to live on, to live again, to be again. To cope and not be ashamed of still being here. For him, this new album is the next step; for us, it is a good record to listen to. Blackgaze á la mode de 2020.
Kiova – Empty Fields and Smoke-Filled Skies
post hardcore / black metal
Most of the time, Finland is associated with black metal or doom metal bands, also because there are brilliant examples for both genres from the land of the thousand lakes. Not very often is it associated with Post-Metal or Blackened Post-Hardcore, but Kiova from Oulu, Finland might change that. A sound that can keep up with some of the most advanced and well-known post-metal big players (think of Postvorta or Amenra, Sons of a Wanted Man or Envy) – a result of some brilliant recording and mixing, thanks to Joonas Manninen and Topon Das. The reference that comes to mind most frequently is Fall of Efrafa, as new Kiova-vocalist Janne Pussinen is able to deliver a lot of intriguing vocals including black metal screams as well as hellish growls. “JP” is the new man on the mic for the band after former vocalist Otto Eräjöki, who could be heard on the two splits from 2020 as well as on the debut EP from 2018, left the band months ago. Another feature that they share with Fall of Efrafa and other crust-bands as well is the raging speed that seems to have the drums tumble over each other and still not losing but rather gathering speed. These speed-attacks are often countered by spiraling guitars heading all the time for an ultimate crescendo. This might be the most promising newcomer on the European blackened post-hardcore scene. Keep your eyes open!
Various Artists – Dirt [Redux]
post metal / grunge
Usually, we do not cover “cover bands” or “cover albums” on Merchants Of Air; however, Magnetic Eye Records has released such an impressive list of “[Redux]” records of classic rock records lately, that we simply had to talk about it. Being an old Seattle-grunge-head the author had no alternative to choosing their version of Alice in Chains’ classic “Dirt” now re-imagined in complete by some of the finest in all of post-metal: Thou, Khemnis, 16 or The Otolith to mention just a few. In some ways, this approach is very similar to the style of “Robotic Empire” who did some cover albums for Nirvana’s three full-lengths (by the way, Thou were also part of all of those cover albums, maybe they are just into showing off their roots). Special about this record is certainly the fact that the bands really pay homage to the originals by not trying to alter them too much, they mostly clad them in a new sound scaffolding. The basis and walls are still the very same, but the production of these songs is now fresher and more direct. It becomes obvious how powerful these songs are, how unbreakable the songwriting was, how remarkably well they hold up. The highlights are certainly the new version of “Rooster” by Howling Giant (now less of a soul classic and a stronger emphasis on the riffs and less on the choir) and “Would?” by The Otolith (now with female vocals creating a completely new, less-despaired atmosphere) but as the originals are so mind-blowing, so are these cover-versions. If you want to buy one covers-album this year, this would be my recommendation!
Cryptic Shift/ Replicant/ Inoculation/ Astral Tomb – Chasm of Aeons (Split)
Once again a great release by Swedish death powerhouse Blood Harvest. They accumulate four awesome death metal bands – each with a distinctively own style – on this four-way split. Chasm of Aeons first of all really impresses with its stylish high-class artwork, that reminds one of The Sword’s “Warp Riders” and the Blood Incantation space-themed covers. Then the assembly of bands: Cryptic Shift, who showed all their might and strength on their Blood Harvest-debut earlier this year, New Brunswick’s very own Replicant and Cleveland’s pride Inoculation flex their muscles and Astral Tomb from Denver (see first review above) finish this 19-minute massacre. Cryptic Shift do not disappoint with their track “Cosmic Dreams” and neither do Replicant or Inoculation, but the highlight is definitely Astral Tomb’s “Transcendence from the Mortal Plane (Guided by Familiar Phantasm)” (that title!!!!) because of its rowdy, feisty, biting and scratching noise intro, by a drum kit that intentionally is completely out of tune and trash to the max – if Slipknot ever made real tech death metal, this is what it would sound like. There is even a moment of tribal drumming in these five minutes. Accompanied by an awesome solo and a lot of noisy guitars, there is no better ending for an awesome split than this one. There is no I in team, there is also no I on this split. All blends perfectly together from Cryptic Shift’s ´near-classic-rock´-track (the solo!!!) to Astral Tomb’s cat in heat-noise-tech-death!
For Greater Good - ... Unfolds
ambient / dark folk / cinematic
So, if the first three tracks of a four track EP already remind me of acts like Nick Cave, Penitent, Raison d'ètre, Aphex Twin and Biosphere, I guess it's alright to call this a pretty damn varied release. And then comes 'Synchronism', a goosebumps inducing dark pop anthem with vocals by Raya. In all, '...Unfolds' indicates a more than welcome return for a highly exciting ambient project. Recommended? Dûh!
Noiss - Deafening EP
alternative rock / punk / grunge
Katapult - A Fistful of Truth
WARD041 - Uoltam
dark ambient / drone
Rutger Zuydervelt - Porcelain
drone / ambient / soundtrack
Machinefabriek with Anne Bakker - Oehoe
drone / ambient
Petrolio - GLVWXUER#DQVLD#JHQHUDOL]]DWR
industrial / dark ambient / noise
Hellstorm Of Flaming Nothingness - I Am An Empty Shell
drone / dark ambient
grunge / noise rock / alternative rock
Is it a compliment if you tell a band that they do not sound at all like the place where they come from? It definitely might be an insult to a whole region if one doesn’t really know the “scene” one is talking about. Nevertheless it probably also depends a lot on the people you are talking to. In case of Norwegian-Finnish duo “Barren Womb” you could say they do not sound as if they were from Trondheim, Norway. If you associate that with music somewhere between Motorpsycho and black metal. However, if you think about the freedom to do whatever you want associated with the vastness of the country, Barren Womb might sound exactly like Trondheim.
Their songs change their identity quite often, they are hardcore, punk, noise, a bit mathy but they are definitely clearly not caged into a corset intended to limit the airflow within one’s body and mind: the drummer and guitar player are definitely free thinkers. Being able to play some funky stuff like “Hairy Palms” with its mix of indie dance-guitar licks somewhere Parliament and Franz Ferdinand and rock’n’roll drumming in the style of the Black Crowes needs courage and good execution. One band that comes to mind when listening to “Lizard Lounge” is definitely Torche with their knack for writing catchy yet heavy tunes.
Their songwriting is really awesome because they never lengthen their songs into the unnecessary. Every song is as long as it needs to be, the whole album is only 36 minutes long, even though it comprises ten songs. “Trimming the fat”, they called it. And yet those songs are chunky and addictive. Especially as they all represent a different “genre”, remember the free thinking approach. If you then follow the Timo and Tony through their tracklist, you notice that they come up with a bluesy ditty right called “Crop Circle Jerk” right after funky “Hairy Palms”. Courage!
The author is surprised now how often the record has been spinning in a row, but that is also a good sign how immensely enjoyable the whole affair is. Take “Nerve Salad” for example – a nice mathy bit of stoner rock. Or “Hydroponic Youth” with is slowly build-up that is able to keep the tension despite a slower tempo.
With “Lizard Lounge” you get an awesome record for the BBQ in the summer when you want to entertain your guests with an eclectic mix of songs and ideas that never get bothersome but keep their inner entertainment level high. And then one of their guests will ask “Hey, those guys are from Cali, right?”
Keelrider – Sun / Too Far Gone
grunge / stoner rock
Iceland’s scene is very likely one of the strongest worldwide as we are talking about a country with roughly 360,000 inhabitants and yet we all know so many bands from Iceland pushing the brim for modern music further and further. Keelrider is another one of those, although they most likely will not see as much attention as Sigur Ros, Björk or the whole Icelandic black metal scene because they are Stoner Grungers with a twist. In 2018 they published their debut album “North” and last year they published two singles from their upcoming album “Second Wind”. While “Too Far Gone” is in parts a very nice melange of Alice in Chains-vocals and Soundgarden-stoner riffs, “Sun” is much more interesting because the band some a little more variety when it comes to time signatures and giving the guitar lines more space to breathe. If you are into stoner rock and grunge, this band is something right for you!
Calendula – De Brevitatis
Post-Metal from Italy. Most foreigners automatically associate it with Postvorta but some, a little deeper in and a little longer might remember the name Calendula, the sextet from Parma, which released an EP (2011) and a full-length (2012) a while ago. After some changes concerning line-up and musical direction, they released a 25-minute-song in November which definitely doesn’t fit to the title “De Brevitate Vitae” - it’s not brevis (brief) at all. It is quite a monster with a lot of dynamic changes and oscillates between dynamic driving drums and some really clever, counteracting guitar-work following the long intro, which sometimes hints at a bit of Tool. The vocals are pretty good, they also use some samples to give it a more differentiated sonic outline. Something that can be criticized is the sound as the partially trashy Lo-Fi sound doesn’t really fit a record as ambitious as this one, although on the other side it fits to the proclaimed role models – 90s post-rock bands such as Slint (noticeable in the very effective guitar motif after the first real break). If the guys follow this path, we might have two Italian associations with the term Post-Metal.
A Heart Beats – Dazes the Mind
Svart Records is one of the finest labels when it comes to hard, harsh music, most people know about that. Most people do not know that they also have an electronic sub-label – Svartronix which again is very open-minded. A few weeks ago they released the debut song by A Heart Beats “Dazes the Mind” which is pop music that fits perfectly in any 80s mix of songs by some tropical house producer. This songs purvey a kind of Caribbean calypso feeling but their sex-appeal derives to a large extent from the intriguing vocals of Paile who once was a member of Beastmilk. His delivery is very nice and especially the chorus is so funky that one automatically feels his feet moving, but the line also has some depth “It dazes the mind / and numbs the tongue”. The beats produced by Tuuki are layered with some space basslines in the sense of some more synth-driven Daft Punk and the beat itself is shuffling a bit, so that the sunny, opening sounds give the song a holiday feeling without the stupidity. A promising debut song, let’s hope A Heart Beats and Svartronix has some more servings.
Intaglio – The Memory of Death
doom / death metal
Russian death doom act Intaglio released a demo version of a new track at the end of last year and in some way, the beauty lies in the rhythm. Many voices will now scream that the rhythm is nothing particular new to the genre, as the slow, dragging rhythm of the song is really quite normal, but the way that the strings connect to it, support it in certain passages, yeah, even form it from time to time, that is really breathtaking – the Gothic attitude it brings to the song turns it into a remarkable one. The lyrics, speaking about the overwhelming character of a memory of death which overshadows everything else, are delivered in regular death metal style. Another standout feature is the use of the use of an upright bass that is tuned so well, that you can hear each tap and each ring.
In some way, three pretty singular metal genres are amalgamated into one pretty dense net of emotions that will leave no open ear without imprinting a memory of itself on the listener. If this is a first sign of a new album then one might keep Intaglio in mind.
American Nightmare – Life Support
Everything about this 7” screams “Old school! Old school!”, the cover (seemingly a reverse from the classic Minor Threat discography cover that also was adopted by Rancid several years ago), the cover b-side, the black-white style, the sound, everything! But first things first: The revived band released a good album in 2018 and last December followed with this 7” out on Heartworm Press. The title track is a new shotgun blast somewhere between Zeke, MC5, The Clash, Turbonegro and Black Flag (although one must say, that only the vocals sometimes hint at Rollins) – definitely a good track. The b-side is a well-made cover of “Left for Dead” by The Lemonheads another one of these late 80s punk bands that turned more and more to indie-rock. The cover is good and shows a different side to American Nightmare. However, there is one thing that is lacking in this release and that is the teenage angst that made AN famous. The despair, the sadness, the melancholy – not there. On the other hand, that might drive the listener to despair and achieves the same effect.
Tuatha – The Lore of Place
avant garde / folk
There are genres that seemingly are so heavily steeped in tradition and customs that it is hard to imagine to hear a new sound in them. Take Irish Folk for example; most of us at first might associate it with pub nights somewhere between the Dubliners and Christy Moore (at best) or Michael Flatley and Enya (at worst). But to combine the traditional folk instruments bodhran, flute, violin, and guitar with a wall of sound, lots of spoken word (not cheerfully and rhythmically, but rather intimidating and fierceful) is something rarely heard before. Tuatha is a fierce project that will leave some of us open-mouthed. Formed in early 2019 and already a rising star on the scene, the septet uses old Irish tales from the Middle Ages and Gaelic Dindsenchas (short poems describing certain places) to deepen their already impressive style. In parts, their unrelentless approach reminds one of the approach Archive and SubRosa took in totally different musical landscapes. This here is unique, bewitching and typical Irish yet also totally un-Irish. Folks, give Tuatha a listen!
Mosara – Demo 2019
sludge / doom
A quartet from Phoenix, Arizona with a very grainy, heavy sound, Mosara released their debut demo last November. It shall be a prelude to a record which is in the making and should see the light of day before the end of the year; of course the demo should also draw interest from labels and I think it might: The musical soundscape is strongly influenced by a lot of proto-metal like Sabbath, Blue Cheer, but also by classic doom bands like Electric Wizard or Cough – that means, you get what you expect, low-tuned, richly-distorted, grainy, a bit lofi-ish doom sounds with a tinge of sludge influences (most audible on the second track “Clay and Iron”). Sometimes the howls and growls could be a bit fiercer and less despaired because, sometimes, Tony Gallegos (ex-Twingiant) is a bit too clear. Nevertheless the sound is great, as if someone mated Fu Manchu with Sabbath and their offspring was left in the desert with a guitar as the only means of communication. The riffs are dragging, the bass is dominant, the drums are supportive – all good in the Arizona desert.
Ploughshare – Tellurian Insurgency
death metal / black metal / doom / noise / grindcore
Noise bastard? Yeah. Death metal? Sometimes. Grindcore? For sure. Doomy Gloom? You bet. All of that and more is “Tellurian Insurgency” by Ploughshare. With their third release in as many years (after 2017’s “Literature of Piss” and 2018’s acclaimed “In Offal, Salvation”) the quartet from Australia’s capital Canberra once again proves that the bar is always too low for them. Excellent musicians with a highly complex understanding of how music works they show that extreme metal must also rely on atmosphere that sometimes exists between the chords and blastbeasts. A great deal of the attraction of this band is the vocals, which never sound cheesy but quite on point. This EP also features a remix of their standout song, the title track of “In Offal, Salvation”, which shows that it is even possible to give this dark nightmare of a song an even more desperate twist. One thing that becomes clear throughout the record is how important good drumming is for such a kind of music as it must set the tone for everyone. If the guys can keep up their productivity we should await a new heir to the extreme metal throne in 2020.
Lament Cityscape – The New Wet
Describing this Oakland, CA, quartet is not that easy and not that difficult at the same time. Their sound relies heavily on synths, samples but also on guitar, bass and drums. They cross constantly between electronic noise (aka industrial) and post-punk’ish avantgarde sounds. Initiated in 2013 and having independently released already a bunch of records, Lament Cityscape set out to publish three EPs in 2020, each following some red thread and yet also standing out on its own. Something that they share with some of the pioneers of this kind of sonic assault (Godflesh, Killing Joke, Author & Punisher) are the harsh sounds that sometimes remind one of buoys warning the oncoming ships of the nearby rocks and sandbanks which here are symbolized by the rough drum attacks. In parts, this is a good record for those who like Godflesh’s Streetcleaner a bit less polished and a bit more straightforward. Partially, one is left behind by a lack of surprise, but fans of industrial noises and harsh synth-driven drums will really like this.
Blood Spore – Fungal Warfare Upon All Life
At first, the band’s name might sound like a nice pun on 80s karate flic “Bloodsport” (with the amazing multiple Academy Award winning actor Jean-Claude van Shakespeare) but when listening to this new face on renown Swedish Meta label Blood Harvest it becomes clear that the idea of a fungi which sits parasitically on its host and feeds of it before finally killing it works perfectly within the black metal community. It also works nicely because the record to it is really good and leaves one’s ears with an immediate wish to press replay because of its clever changes in mood, dynamics and tempi. The record (especially the second track “Cede to the Saprophyte”) is like a nice blend of groove metal and black metal with the emphasis, of course, on the latter. Thematically, the record presents the idea of the fungal mass on this planet slowly but certainly taking over and destroying all other organisms, a new take on the apocalyptic visions presented by bands like Botanist or Arx Atrata. For a band that only came together in 2018, this is really somewhat impressive.
grunge / sludge
The Pacific Northeast of the USA. Home to early metal and grunge and blackgaze. Sometimes home to some at the same time. A//tar (pronounced Altar) is a good example of such a combination building their sound on equal foundations of blackgaze and grunge.
It’s all here in these 35 minutes: the timing, the songwriting but also the doom and gloom. Take the epicenter and masterpiece “Induction” for example. A song that takes its time; not only more than eleven minutes long (with more than half of that used for a pretty gloomy intro including a noisy few first seconds, an “offstage” spoken word part and simple yet effective nearly tribal drumming and seemingly semi-acoustic guitar lines before the song takes off), it resembles a Native American ritual pretty well with the second half of the song an example of modern grunge gospel steeped in sludgy post-metal.
Apart from the well-incorporated samples, the voice is the standout element of A//tar as it is as much Scott Weiland as it is Scott van Till, and this shall not be a burden on vocalist Juan Carlos Caceres who also plays the Moog. It is just unusual to come across a singer in a post-metal band who can croon and scream as well. Lyrically, the band uses a lot of time to establish a notion of decay which adds to the idea of witnessing a ritual (albeit not in the Amenra sense rather like Agalloch – we are not talking about Christian ideas but about Pagan procedures) with mankind rotting to the bones before being reborn - “bow down on the earth / ritual then rebirth / your knees are skinned to the bone / hands held to the sky / begging for transmigration / so close to death“. They are talking about a human blindness to what has happened, maybe what we let happen without preventing it. In some moments this sounds pretty introvert, reflexive and in the next moment it’s an accusation with the lines mentioned before used like a code in order to restore our position within nature.
Founder, guitarist and sample magician Tim Burke has gathered a group of talented musicians and A//tar will definitely stir a lot of people’s ears when they witness a new group from Portland, Oregon to step onto the scene and convince the world that this is one of the most influential regions for rock music in the last few decades.
Maximilian Latva - Nekyia
noise / dark ambient / experimental
HIN - Warmer Weather
Winterblind - Effigy
progressive / metal / black metal
Plague 9 - Mr. Ass
heavy metal / thrash metal
Things That Aren’t There - Vicious Cycles
downtempo / electronic / post rock / shoegaze
Wykan - Brigid - Of The Night
psychedelic / doom
Radien - Aste
sludge / black metal
Peter Jørgensen - Alt i Stykker
ambient / modern classical / experimental
Boobs Of Doom - Sorcerer
drone / doom / noise / experimental
Temple Music - The Unquiet Mind
ambient / electronic
Lunden - Lunden
Jimbo - Where The Vultures Gather
stoner rock / grunge / alternative rock
Split/Cross - Rise Of Discontent
hardcore / grindcore / crust
Wan - Gammal är äldst
BufferState - Anthropy
grunge / alternative metal / progressive rock
Doomcult - Life Must End
Hey Life - Masquerade
Geostygma - The Die Is Cast
Two Trains Left - Sorry & Pathetic
Liya - Listen
I Ya Toyah - Code Blue
electronic / darkwave / EBM / Industrial
Wozniak - The Space Between The Trees
alternative rock / stoner rock / grunge
One might wonder, "what's in the Belgian waters?" Bands and releases are popping up by the minute here. A rock band in that corner, a noise act over there and a trip-hop act in another place, it never seems to end in this little country. To answer that question: I don't think it's in the water. It's what Belgians do with that water. We turn it into beer, another thing we have been doing for ages, and pretty damn good too. It's a magical chemical process, turning ingredients into something almost otherworldly. The same goes for our music industry, people come together and create magical chemistry.
Another one in the never-ending tsunami of Belgian releases is 'Superglue For The Broken' by Antwerp residents Tangled Horns. Influenced by rock music of all ages, from the psychedelics of the sixties & seventies to the raunchy grunge scene of the nineties, Tangled Horns invite the listener to a wicked ride of their rock 'n roll rollercoaster. In short: 'Superglue For The Broken' is a groovy-ridden powerhouse that can get any rock 'n roll heart beat a little faster.
Of course, these days you can't write and record a decent rock album without adding a heap of influences. The most obvious reference on this album is Alice In Chains, whose sound shines through in opener 'Shadow (A Personal Piece Of Darkness)' and in 'The Timeline Is A Noose'. Loaded with groove and power, these two tunes can easily get any rock party started, and metalheads will join in on the fun.
Other bands that come to mind include Soundgarden, Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age and The Foo Fighters. That surely makes one interesting list. But, even if it's all in good fun, Tangled Horns also show a well-thought out, mature sound. It's not a bunch of youngsters messing around in a rehearsal studio. It's five bearded dudes paying tribute to the one thing that kept them living their lives the way they do: alternative rock.
'In The Now' clearly shows that. Along with the aforementioned songs, this is my favorite here, a strong rock song that aims for a spot in the grunge-classics lists. On the noisy, gritty 'Beautiful Flaw', Faith No More even comes to mind, combined with either Led Zeppelin or Brant Bjork. Yes, I can easily imagine these tunes rolling over big, crowded meadows next summer. I can see people dancing on 'Destination Tipping Point', go nuts on 'Magnificent Maniac' or make sweet love on 'Icebound'.
So if you're looking for a groovy, versatile and immersive rock album, you should really give this one a change. Once again, a local band proves my point about this country's musical underground (read 'Belgium Rock City' - Dutch only). Naturally I will recommend this to every fan of decent rock music.
Dizorder - Moon Phases
alternative / metal / metalcore
Greyhawk - Ride Out
heavy metal / power metal
Gramma Vedetta - Proof of Concept
hard rock / stoner rock / alternative rock / grunge
Godless - Swarm
thrash / death metal
O n s e t - Unstructured Dissemination
Ssanahtes - Ssanahtes
doom / sludge / post hardcore
Frenzy Frenzy - Just Another
Charles In The Kitchen & Them Stones - Stones In The Kitchen
pop rock / alternative rock