Fractured Insanity is going to tear the house down.
Next Sunday, the 2nd of October to be exact, might be an extremely lazy day. Pain in the neck and back, along with a severe headache, could keep me tied to the bed. But it will definitely be worth it. The day before, I'll be selling Metal Decks at a little festival called "Rocktoberfest 2016". Well, 'little' isn't exactly correct. The organization managed to compile a solid line-up with some awesome bands and loads of bands to be discovered. Today, I picked out five acts that I definitely want to see, and you too. But of course, if you can, go see them all...
I'd like to start with Belgian heavy metal act Bliksem. Although they have been touring quite extensively, along with bands like Metal Church and Flotsam & Jetsam, I never had the chance to see them live yet. I did see front woman Peggy perform an awesome version of W.A.S.P.'s 'Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)' with Interstellar Deathroll in a wrestling ring (what? read!). I also reviewed their album 'Gruesome Masterpiece' which is an epic piece of heavy metal, thrash metal and even doom (read). So I think I'm ready to witness them live now. I'm absolutely sure that this will be a stunning performance
Another female fronted band, this time from The Netherlands and a little harsher than Bliksem. I'm talking about death/thrash horde Izegrim. I was quite impressed by their album 'The Ferryman's End' (read review) and thus quite happy that they will play Rocktoberfest. If any of the bands might be responsible for a whiplash afterwards, it's these people. Or like I said in the review: I can easily imagine entire audiences raising their horned fists and screaming along. From the stage, it must look like an ocean of horned fists, creating more noise than a massive horde of berserkers.
Straight to the pit, uncompromising and brutally harsh death metal, that's what you get from these nice youngsters from Belgium. Or, again, as I mentioned in the review for their album 'Man Made Hell': Their weapon of choice is brutal death metal, influenced by bands as Suffocation, Immolation, Dying Fetus and Decapitated. That does indeed mean ill-natured growls, scathing riffs and skullripping drums, often coming up with drilling blastbeats. What else could you possibly want as a death metal fan, right?
Fractured Insanity is going to tear the house down.
Since 2012, these Antwerp residents have been paving their own path in the world of extreme metal. With elements of black metal, thrash metal and post black metal, Witch Trail gradually gets the attention of the Belgian underground scene where they supported bands like Alkerdeel and Evil Invaders. I, at events like these always in for a decent severing of harsh, bleak and eerie noise, am very looking forward to seeing this trio perform their hellish music.
This one is completely new to me but definitely a band I want to check out. Why? Well, their music has something nu-post-stoner metalistic, or as they call it, 'SNØCK', but the most surprising aspect is their language. With Dutch vocals, these guys set themselves, convincingly, within the area of Kleinkunst (Flemish folk music). This is heavy poetry and I like that very much... Muddler might be one of the pleasant surprises on this festival.
Torul is a synthpop/ electropop band from Ljubljana, active since 2003. With obvious influences from the classic bands of the genre, like Depeche Mode and New Order, Torul, despite hardly doing something the genre hasn’t produced before, it is fascinating for showing the world that good bands on this kind of music do exist outside the English-speaking world. Although they [un]fortunately sing in English, they follow the path of a straightforward tradition, doing their best to explore all the possibilities within the genre.
Obviously, bands from this region would hardly have the same amount of evidence that bands from the American – England axis; nonetheless, they persist, showing what they are capable of creating from their influences, and their main musical abilities, having the power to show – at least some of those bands – a little originality, if there is any possibility yet, for the genre, to be original.
Although I have never listened to a lot Torul’s songs, they seem capable to do a decent electropop, which is no minor achievement, since most of these bands actually are only mediocre generic derivatives of the great avatars of the genre, like the aforementioned Depeche Mode and New Order, and we could add to this list another bands as well, like Erasure and Duran Duran, although all these bands do not fall essentially only in the electropop category, being essentially a blending of more two or three genres. In some cases, Electropop is more of an umbrella term, on which some bands fall into, to be included in some kind of categorization.
Nevertheless, Torul is a cool band, and if you like electropop, you can listen to them without fear. At least, some of their songs, you will certainly find pleasant. With an easy listening appeal, essentially radio-friendly orientated, they do produce fine tunes, charming, elegant and a little catchy. Like I wrote some lines above, it is generally same old, same old, but it is good. While you really can’t expect nothing too much out of the ordinary, you can certainly enjoy some of their songs. And as I insist, it is always very good to explore what bands in this part of the world are doing – in fact, in any genre – for the sake of not being alienated only by those bands of the American – England axis, which are the ones that probably will have much more chance to succeed. Unfortunately, bands from peripheral countries will never have the same amount of exposure, so we have to take the initiative to go after them!
Well, finally, if you like electropop, I highly recommend you to listen to Torul. While certainly they will not present you to something you haven’t heard before, they do a competent and decent work on the genre, that have its own life, doesn’t falling into the imitation/ generic derivative category, which can be very hard to endure!
the story + soundtrack of our second year in business
Press play, and enjoy our massive compilation while reading this article...
Well, this is it, Merchants Of Air's second birthday. That calls for a little celebration, don't you think? Two years ago, we kicked things off with a massive review for the Incubate festival. That review started something that would have a great impact on my life and maybe on that of some other people as well.
In 2015 we got to blow out a first candle and, believe me, we were quite happy to be where we were. We learned a lot, which made us realise that we still had a lot to learn. By the end of September 2015 Merchants Of Air began to turn some heads. From then on, the journey has gotten more and more satisfying and amazing, even though most of it takes place in a comfortable couch in a town called Berchem.
Since 25 September 2015, we not only doubled the age of Merchants Of Air, but also our visitor count, or even tripled it. Thousands of pages are being read every day by several hundreds of guests, with peaks up to 2200 unique daily visitors. Apparently, news items from Belgian sludge act AmenRa and American post-rock masters Russian Circles were responsible for these peaks, followed by Japanese post-rockers Mono. That's three peaks, caused by bands from three different continents. Our readers come from all over the world too. I didn't even know that there were 131 countries in the world but we've hit them all.
I don't think this top-5 is a big surprise. United States delivered the most visitors (16.75%), probably because it's a massive country with loads and loads of musicians and fans. Belgium was responsible for another 16% which could easily be explained by our strong will to push music from our fatherland. We have a vibrant scene here, that's true as well. So does France, which comes in third place, a country with a surprisingly varied rock scene. Same goes for India by the way, and even the Middle-East has shown some stunning bands. It's true, music is a universal language, suited for everyone who is willing to give it a shot.
But, as with pretty much everything, there is a downside to that growth. Approximately one in every three reviews causes another review request. Apart from the stuff we get from agencies and labels, more and more individuals seem to find the way to our website and inbox. That inbox is exploding right now. We don't mind but we simply can't keep up with all those releases anymore. We desperately needed new writers, which finally caused the writing-debut of my wife, Eline. She wrote some great reviews for bands like Sophia and composers like Merrin Karras.
We also welcomed Wagner Hertzog to our staff. He contacted us one day, shortly after I was about to give up on finding writers. He asked if we needed anyone and, after reading some of his reviews, I quickly sealed the deal. Currently, Monday is pretty much Wagner-day with all kinds of articles and reviews coming from his hand. I'm extremely thankful for these posts, especially since our other writers had to deal with personal issues, causing them to write less.
Again, I don't mind. At Merchants Of Air, we don't do 'pressure', that's what day jobs and mothers-in-law are for. All our writers are volunteers, I'm the only one profiting from all the millions and millions that come in each and every day. Being a billionaire is easy if you keep your mouth shut to everyone and just secretly spend the money on drugs, hookers and tattooing hamsters. I just let everyone do whatever he can and wants while I publish the whole thing from my yacht in the Caribbean.
Just kidding. We're all poor...
Wagner not only helped us getting through a lot more albums but he also kinda revived the A Small Neat Journal section. With movie reviews, poetry and other great articles he brought a breath of fresh air into Merchants Of Air. Some of those articles inspired me to restart writing some other stuff as well. Not that I had forgotten about A Small Neat Journal but my mind was occupied with something completely different, a deck of cards to be exact.
In February, I was doing the dishes when a sudden memory tuned into an idea. Soon after, the first draft for 'The Metal Deck' was designed, an investment was made and a unique deck of cards was born. Merchants Of Air colleague Paul quickly jumped on the wagon and started recording 'The Metal Deck Theme'. Björn also joined in the fun, accompanying me at the merchandise stands at Rodeo Fest. Wouter already joined me at Rock Herk. Most recently, I introduced Wouter (as marketing manager) and Bart (as graphic designer) to a bunch of wrestlers. The Metal Deck became my number one project for a while and, from a certain standpoint it still is. Along with a few friends, I founded Analoch Games. The Metal Deck is our first game and, as a little premiere, two others are currently in pre-production (meaning, we're thinking them out). In its turn, The Metal Deck became the number one ad-provider on Merchants Of Air.
Frankly, I was sick and tired of outside ads, and with The Metal Deck I finally had something to replace them indefinitely. From then on, Merchants Of Air would become completely independent. Everything we sell, we made or designed ourselves. The shirts are printed and shipped by Spreadshirt and we receive a percentage, which gets us through the hosting costs and pays us an occasional beer. Other goodies will appear in our shop as well in the near future, not because we desperately want your money but because we're creative generalists.
One of my creative ideas turned into a great way to publish more reviews in less time. In July, we published a first set of "Brieviews", which was followed by twelve others in the next few months. With these, we managed to recommend a lot more albums and ep's. Not only did the writing process go a lot faster, but the whole sharing and social networking surrounding a publication took way less time. Another advantage seemed to be the fact that more people read them because they're shorter, without harming the enthusiastic atmosphere of the reviews. In no time, "Brieviews" became a fixed item on Merchants Of Air. Loads more will follow, that's for sure.
The idea also moved over to the news section on Merchants Of Air, resulting in the birth of 'The Rock 'n Scroll'. Again, these are several news items, pressed into one big article and shared over social networks together. Again, more bands can be recommended to more people because they go over the whole thing instead of that one article. Both these and the "Brieviews" lured a lot more visitors in, not only on the site but also on our social networking profiles.
Merchants Of Air is on facebook, twitter, tumblr, google+, minds and instagram. We used to be on Tsu as well but that site suddenly closed down. I bet Zuckerberg bought them out. All our profiles gained followers over the past year. We even invented a successful meme, causing a little section called "Funs 'n Puns". It was a rework of somewhat racist meme with parasols (called "umbrellas" by the author). I thought they looked like Sunn O))) so a contra-meme was quickly born. A few days after I first published the picture, I found it in tweets by Consouling Sounds and Southern Lord. Oh, what a proud day that was...
All that meme-creating, Brieviews- and Rock 'n Scroll writing and Metal Decks selling took a lot of time and before I realized it, I'd missed a heap of concerts. Perhaps the 'concerts' section on Merchants Of Air has become the biggest victim of my creative generalism. On the other hand, that makes it a lot easier to pick out the best gigs of 2016 for our upcoming end-year list. Of course, Desertfest is still coming up and a bunch of other gigs are planned for the near future as well. In all, I think making that list is going to cause me a lot of stress again, but for you, dear reader, I will do it.
Because who else would I be doing this for? Donald Trump? Vince McMahon? Kim Kardashian? Rihanna? Screw them, they already have all the attention they need and loads and loads more. I do it for the ones who deserve attention because of their creative approach, their stubborn belief that music is a living thing that comes from the heart and soul of hard working artists. I do it for people like Angelina Yershova, Aidan Baker, James Welburn and bands like Lilium Sova, Hungry Like Rakovitz and Autokrator who do their stinking best to entertain us.
On the other hand, if Vince McMahon ever asks me to write for him, screw you guys... :-)
Finally, there are a lot of people who deserve a 'thank you'. Our staff of course, and all the bands, labels and agencies who keep on sending us those awesome releases, knowing very well that we can't "catch them all". Finally, I'd like to thank our readers because without you guys, we'd be the literal equivalent of a madman talking to himself. So thank you, come again...
Love Death Immortality is the second album by American electronic music ensemble powerful trio The Glitch Mob, released in 2014. The much anticipated album, the follow up of 2010 Drink the Sea – their first release – proved to be not just groundbreaking, but an astounding confluence of musical artistry, breathtaking from the very first seconds of the first track, to the last moments of the final song.
Being a major and well-combined mix of electronic music subgenres, like glitch, dubstep, industrial pop and electro rock, the album shows itself to be somewhat a great departure from their previous work, definitely more grounded in a mostly homogeneous sound. Love Death immortality, by the other hand, it is way more experimental and shocking, but the results couldn’t have been more amazing!
With an astounding set of songs that will literally blow up your mind, this album was meant to be! Excellent, magnificent, beautifully arranged, well produced, and revealing an unthinkable level of songwriting creativity, the best definition for the The Glitch Mob is passion for music in its purest state perfectly aligned with skilled technical proficiency.
Well, these guys are definitely skilled, and have a very sensitive taste for songwriting, composition of sounds, and innovation, and the work of art which Love Death Immortality proved itself to be is a major achievement not just for these three guys as a band, but for the entire electronic music underground scene, as a whole! And I’m not just saying that. Every single track turns itself into an inspiring surprise, making this particular album an everlasting star in the electronic music scene, turning The Glitch Mob into the greatest promise of present day electronica, with very little rivals competent enough to compete with them.
There’s not much more to say here, since no words could match or explain their level of artistry. If you are into electronic music, you have to listen to this album yourself, and reach out your own conclusions. Love Death Immortality certainly is destined to be regarded as one of the best electronic music albums of the century, being impossible not to become a classic!
Recently, I have seen on Youtube the live performance of British extreme metal band Anaal Nathrakh, recorded at the 2015 edition of Wacken Open Air Festival. And certainly I can say, for sure, that this is one of the best live performances videos that I have ever seen in entire my life, to this day. The show begins with lead singer Dave Hunt apologizing for their second guitarist not being able to play at the venue, apparently because he was stuck in a delayed flight. As a result, he was forcibly absent from the concert. Nevertheless – my sincere apologies for this supposed second guitarist, but – we haven’t missed him: Anaal Nathrakh performance was a pure fucking cosmic blasting reverberation of resounding magnificence. We simply don’t feel something is missing. Their forty five minutes set was an astounding marvelous spectacle of iconic excellence and sonorous contrivance. I have never seen such a powerful performance before.
When they begin to play their songs, it’s unnecessary to say that hell descends on Earth. And what a magnificent way to describe hell, if this can be done at the sonorous ambivalence of Anaal Nathrakh. Their remarkably peculiar style – which can be exceedingly difficult to describe, and imperiously impossible to categorize, partly because their sound departs from a complex fusion of black and death metal, grindcore and industrial music – is a great conspicuous damnation, forged at the height of the most marvelous, descending and groundbreaking creativity that we could possibly find on the scene, with a sonorous intricacy that perfectly challenges the balance between brutality and harmony.
Their furious music has remarkable elements that summarize together an excessively detailed and gloriously made fusion between brutal heaviness and ascendant poetic melodies, counterbalancing different components into such an extent, that their music really acquires severe and straightforward nuances, that gives to their sound a very peculiar identity, that could be labeled as characteristic of their own.
And besides the music, lead singer Dave Hunt is such a character! A terrific host with great charisma, an astounding sense of leadership and a very powerful breath, he sings his lungs out, giving, with the rest of the band, a performance that deserves the best compliments ever! And all of this reminding you that Dave said at the beginning of the concert that one guitarist was missing! We could never notice that, because this performance was ostentatiously electrifying and amazing. So if you are into Anaal Nathrakh, you should never let this show pass by you unseen! And if you do not know who they are, but are willing to risk a chance, you should see this too. This is certainly a magnificent performance, that I personally consider one of the best that I have ever seen. A great reverberation of energy, concentrated, immolated and dispersed in an extraordinary set of songs, played by a deranged group of amazing and horrifically talented musicians. A remarkable top ten performance, beautifully done, beautifully executed!
Hammock is a post-rock duo from Nashville, consisting of Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson, and they have been on the run since 2004. With a very personal signature sound that sometimes is hard to categorize, Hammock is a beautiful musical artwork, and their lack of commercial appeal can translate into the beauty and the sensibility on which both Byrd and Thompson are able to translate feelings of pain, astonishment, anguish and excitement into something so transcendental, so underground, and yet so simple, talking to your mind and to your senses, and to your inner perceptions of the world – devoid of everything superficial – establishing to your soul deep connections that only a few genres of music can achieve, by the mindset of a true philosophical journey through music.
As an instrumental endeavor filled with the unexpected that speaks to your heart, Hammock is not for the weak. And, although being primarily an alternative and almost completely underground act, one of their most recent endeavors, the 2013 album entitled Oblivion Hymns, attracted positive reviews from several major music charts, radios and magazines, being classified as one of the best albums of the year. But all of these compliments and recognition from the music world is nothing but a footnote on the lives of Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson, that are always focused on the music, never interested on a place in the spotlight, which can be seen by their constant working: they are always on tour, and always prepared to make another album. Which is fantastic, by the way. Musicians make the world a better place, whereas rock-stars make it worse.
Of course, with slow paced and long songs, with seven, eight, ten minutes, sometimes longer, you can fall asleep if you’re on the mood, but this is just another major point in Hammock’s music! Besides being beautiful, you can relax while listening to it, and it is one of the most beautiful to hear when you’re all alone in the dead of night. Hammock is not just music, its art for the sake of art, but you can find in it your own mindset of wonders as well. You have to listen, and prove to yourself the places in which such a cosmic sound can lead your thoughts and senses. Usually publishing their albums by their own label, Hammock Music, we can’t expect the mainstream to have an interest in it. This is music for no ordinary persons, peaceful, calm, transcendental and cosmic to the roots.