Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bandcamp Picks: Sights of War, Ego Depths, Melmak, Umor

From Voivod down, bands from the French part of Canada do things their own way. Sights of War are one such band; their debut Annihilate To Survive is a perfect blending of Amebix/Discharge style crust and Darkthrone/Aura Noir school of blackened thrash, plus a few off-kilter flourishes that show these guys aren't afraid of a little individuality. The album is available as a "name your price" download.

One man band Ego Depths describe their sound as "Fear.Emptiness.Despair" - how could I resist? Oligoria Blodd is hellish doom/drone that doesn't skimp on the screaming. Depending on your appreciation of drone, this is either a brilliant work of depression and madness... or 75 pointless minutes of feedback and reverb. Personally, I'm thinking the void left by Black Boned Angel may have been filled. The album is available as a "name your price" download.

Though Kyuss' place in the doom metal hierarchy is questionable, their influence on the genre isn't. Case in point: The Only Vision Of All Gods by Sopelana's Melmak. The band may pay lip service to the sludge metal bands a la mode, but their riffing is pure Josh Homme. The album is available as a "name your price" download.

Umor from Croatia are atypical for a doom/sludge band; the vocals are more reminiscent of Joy Division's Ian Curtis or Bauhaus' Peter Murphy than the usual gruff Neurosis/Isis fare. And the music on Held Us Silent For A Moment does a good job of being gloomy and melodic without ever turning into girlfriend metal. If you're a doom fiend, this is well worth a listen. [Free]

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Atomicdeath Interview

It's long past time for an interview with one of my favourite local bands - ATOMICDEATH! I sent some questions to guitarist Pat, who was kind enough to answer.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mixtape 8: Kylesa Interview

Here is the 8th installment of the Dreams of Consciousness podcast. While Kylesa were in town on the Malaysian leg of their South East Asian tour, I was able to snag guitarist/vocalist Phillip Cope for an interview. Of particular note is an extended discussion about his days in Damad. One of the best interviews I've done, except the parts where you can hear the 3 cups of coffee I had right before. Thankfully, Phillip was patient enough to put up with my ADHD and rapid fire stammering.

Many thanks to Ci Chaan and Emi Norazalli for helping to organize this interview; and of course, for bringing Kylesa to KL in the first place.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

When the Napalm rains, it pours

Accompanying Mitch Harris' excellent new Menace album and an EP released to coincide with their Roadburn appearance, there's a new Napalm Death recording - and more excitingly, a Napalm Death Bandcamp page. The new release is a Cardiacs cover, released as a benefit for The Cardiacs' Tim Smith, who suffered a heart attack and stroke in 2010.

I remember checking out the Cardiacs' A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window a decade or so ago, largely due to a dedication to the band on the Live Corruption DVD. To say I didn't understand their music would be a gross understatement - their mix of post-punk, prog, and pop seemed to me like one of the drug induced hallucinations in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

The Napalm cover is similarly batshit crazy. Along with the typical guitar and drums carpet bombing, there seems to be either a keyboard or a melodica and something akin to the harmonized guitar interplay that their friends in Carcass are so fond of. Napalm have always worn their influences on their sleeves - Siege, Repulsion, Swans in particular - but any impact the Cardiacs may have had on Napalm's sound is hard to parse.

Most likely it's less the Cardiacs' sound, but more their "anything goes" approach to songwriting that rubbed off on Napalm Death. Napalm were probably the first band to consciously mix shoegaze with extreme metal; not to mention all the skewed side projects they've done over the years like Meathook Seed and Malformed Earthborn. The two groups probably recognize something of their own renegade spirit in the other, hence the mutual love. One more reason why Napalm have always been a few steps ahead of their peers.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bandcamp Picks: Menace, Idylls, Nuclear Summer, Amouth

The members of Napalm Death are known for their prolific output and eclectic musical tastes; in that spirit, while we wait patiently for the follow-up to Utilitarian, guitarist Mitch Harris rewards us with Menace. On the debut album Impact Velocity, Voivod and Killing Joke collide with Devin Townsend's best moments. Not that this is a complete departure from Harris' day job - the corrupted harmonies on display have a certain kinship with Napalm's nineties material. Wonderfully off kilter and stubbornly resistant to easy categorization, the songs have an insidious way of sticking in your head long after they've stopped playing... just like a virus infecting its host, you might say. [$9.99]

I haven't kept up with Brisbane's Idylls since they played Rumah Api in 2012; their new album Prayer for Terrene shows that our Aussie friends are still very much enamoured with Jane Doe's chaotic fury, occasionally ratcheting up the intensity to grindcore levels or down into the realm of discordant Albini rock. Like a trip to the dentist on PCP, in a good way. [$5 AUD]

Fellow Brisbaners (Brisbanians? Brisbanos?) and Rumah Api guests Nuclear Summer put out a three song EP last year that completely slipped past me. Death to False Sunshine Metal is an amalgamation of all things post (rock/metal/hardcore) that gets surprisingly heavy at times... the occasional death metal roars had this hesher nodding in approval. "I'll dress in black til I find something darker", and so forth, but there might be something to this "sunshine metal". As someone trapped in the furnace of South East Asia, I can vouch for sunshine being as brutal as winter. The EP is available as a "name your price" download.

If I'm ever in Italy and looking for someone who shares my love for Cult of Luna, I'll be sure to look up Arezzo's Amouth. Their debut EP Awaken has the same knack for doomy minimalism and post rock atmospherics. Considering how far Neurosis, Isis, and Cult of Luna have taken the genre, Amouth are playing it pretty safe; but for a debut, this is a strong start. Plus, it's free.