New things for the new year

Posted in New, Tracks on January 7th, 2010 by Alex

As ever I’m hopelessly behind the times on new releases, but there’s a couple of new tracks from a couple of bands that I truly adore that I wanted to share with you.

First, the mighty Torche are soon to release a split with the intermittently excellent Boris. Here’s the video of King Beef from that finding them sounding a bit like Baroness, which is no bad thing at all in my book.

Then there’s return of the mighty Dillinger Escape Plan. I’m not interested in all the old stuff versus new stuff bickering. Dillinger write amazing songs and consistently push the boundries while still giving the mainstream a run for their money. Farewell Mona Lisa is epic, aggressive, melodic and absolutely fan-fecking-tastic. It’s a departure from the straightforward abruptness of Ire Works. Dillinger will absolutely own 2010.

So stop grumbling about having to go back to work after Christmas (you skived off because of the snow anyway didn’t you) and prepare yourself for the brutal musical onslaught of 2010 – it’s gonna be another goodun.

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Top 10 Tracks of 2009

Posted in Indulgence, Tracks on December 6th, 2009 by Alex

I’m not ready to publish my top 10 albums yet – I have to torture myself over this for a little while yet, plus there’s some bits and pieces that I’ve not heard yet that I wish to hear before making my choice.

These are my favourite tracks recorded this year as they stand right now. I have no doubt that this will change within minutes of me hitting publish, but I’ve got to stick a stake in the ground somewhere. They are in no particular order, as attempting to do so would certainly prove too much for my fragile musical sensibilities.

Here we go:

  • PelicanGlimmer (What We All Come To Need) – A gorgeous instrumental slow burner
  • OmThebes (God is Good) – Hypnotic, epic, looooong
  • Alice in ChainsLooking in View (Black Gives Way to Blue) – Like being sat on by a house
  • The Devil’s BloodThe Anti-Kosmic Magik (The Time of No Time Evermore) – A guitar duel to die for
  • The Devin Townsend ProjectHeaven Send (Ki) – Wacky, but in a mature way
  • GriftegardCharles Taze Russell (Solemn Sacred Severe) – The album title pretty much describes this perfectly
  • PhotonicCustomer Loyalty (Recorded Contact) – Randomness from New Zealand
  • MastodonThe Czar (Crack in the Skye) – Epic, schizophrenic, progressive and loud
  • Middle Class RutI Guess You Could Say (25 Years EP) – It’s shallow but cheerful
  • No Made SenseThe Epillanic Chorigi (The Epillanic Chorigi) – Neurosis style progressive heaviness

Notable omissions:

Various other tracks from both Black Gives Way to Blue, Recorded Contact and Crack in the Skye could have made it in there, but I didn’t want to clutter it with multiple tracks from a single band. Baroness’s Blue Record deserves a mention – as a whole it’s a brilliant album, but individually none of the tracks stood out enough to warrant inclusion. Other top tracks include:

Lamb of God – Reclamation
Extreme – Run
Pixie Lott – Boys and Girls
Dycian Maze – The Hand Inside
TrippyWicked – Movin On

This is all very nice, but the fact is, I’ve had a year of musical discovery, so much of the stuff that I’ve loved this year wasn’t recorded this year, which is why I don’t feel very satisfied with this list…but I’ll save those for another post.

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New: Radiohead – My Twisted Words

Posted in New, Tracks on August 24th, 2009 by Alex

Radiohead performed this hypnotic new track at Poelten Festival in Austria. It’s not a radical departure from their current sound, but it does stray into psychedelic territory with it’s repetitive reverberating groove. There’s probably a few more new tracks to come over the coming weeks on the European festival circuit and if they’re all recorded as well as this we’ll be able to piece the new album together! That said, you never know what they’re going to do with new tracks when they get into the studio. Compare the album version of Like Spinning Plates with the live version – they could be different songs. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s never a dull moment with Radiohead.

<Edit Alex 24/08/2009 12:20 pm>

OK, so apparently I’m woefully behind the times. My Twisted Words was actually first unleashed on the world last week and subsequently claimed and ratified by Jonny Greenwood. It can be downloded here. Ateasweb.com, known for their affiliation with Radiohead speculated that this is part of a forthcoming EP named Wall of Ice and referred their readership to this domain, which was originally pointed at radiohead.com. A message has now been posted on that domain apparently rebutting their claims:

Don’t just publish bullshit only to get hits on your webpage.
Don’t just create your own stories after reading one post on a message board.

Get your facts straight.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=us&q=wallofice.com
http://search.twitter.com/search?q=wallofice.com

Whether this is a dead end or part of a wild goose chase is anyone’s guess – I’ll let Ateaseweb.com sort it out. One thing is for sure, Radiohead have made a career out of confounding, and nothing would suprise me…!

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Part 1

Posted in Indulgence, News, Tracks on August 20th, 2009 by Alex

The Good

Devin Townsend nonchalantly Tweets:

@dvntownsend counting down…late nights, great progress…suddenly very happy about record 2. Released around Nov 20.

and unleashes more verbose psychobabble on the world:

Musically, ‘Addicted’ is along the lines of the big, wall-of-sound hard rock/heavy metal of Ocean Machine and (The Devin Townsend Project’s) ‘Accelerated Evolution’ — even Physicist at points. It is a very direct and ‘to-the-point’ album with an emphasis on groove and the chorus.

Exciting stuff, seriously. If it’s 1/10th as good as Terria or Accelerated Evolution, it’ll be amazing. Perhaps more tantalizing however is:

On other notes: I have been rehearsing with a new band, and we will start touring in early 2010, representing all the back catalogue of solo material, from ‘Ki’, ‘Addicted’, Physicist, Ziltoid, Terria, Ocean Machine, The Devin Townsend Band, Infinity etc… I have some big plans for this and rehearsals are sounding amazing. The touring entity will be called ‘Devin Townsend’ and is essentially a way for me to get out there and interact again and showcase 15 years of music that never really got its fair shake. We look forward to seeing you out there!

Yeah! You better be doing that in the UK Mr. Townsend!

Next – A new track released off of Megadeth’s anticipated new album:

Do I hear some leanings back to Countdown to Extinction days? Speed metal loveliness indeed!

Every Time I Die released another new track off of the forthcoming New Junk Aesthetic on their Myspace. This is a delightfully pleasant recording, but does anyone else notice a hint of a softer, more commercial sound seeping through? Could this be the beginning of a slippery slope for the southern hardcore mavericks?

This week I discovered that not all Metalcore sucks, with the introduction to my music vocabulary of Burnt by the Sun. Like a darker version of Hatebreed, they keep the breakdowns to a minimum and deliver top notch aggressive metal. I may even put on some big sunglasses and a fake beard (to wear over my real beard) and venture out surreptitiously to but a copy.

Other stuff keeping me happy:

  • No Made Sense with their brutal progressive hardcore and stupid sounding album title
  • Photonic, which has lead me to dust off various albums by Fugazi, Pavement and Guided by Voices
  • Oceansize. Apparently they have an EP out soon.
  • Earth. Slowly I’m getting my head around this most frustrating of bands. Albums Pentastar and Hex are simply beautiful but also infuriating.
  • Revocation. Everyone is carping on about them like infatuated teenagers thanks to Cosmo Lee’s article suggesting that they may be the next great metal band. That’s probably going a bit far at this early stage, but they are pretty good. The guitar solo on Dismantle the Dictator is to die for. No doubt Metal Hammer will be forcing them down our throat for the next 3 years.

The Bad

Desparately naive wannabe journo’s laying into indisputably legendary bands like Black Sabbath. Why on earth would you write such an ill-informed bucket of badger shit is totally beyond me.

Music streaming site Spotify is part owned by the evil overlords of the music industry in an attempt to keep the site afloat in the face of pitiful advertising revenues and in lieu of paying out royalties to the record labels. If this isn’t depressing enough, it sounds like the artists aren’t getting any royalties either and are unlikely to see any dividends when some cash burdened corporate is stupid enough to buy this service which is as likely to see profit as I am likely to turn green and transform into a million dollar bill.

…and the Ugly

This dude bustin’ some classy moves. I have been known to do this after a couple of beverages, which is when it gets truly ugly.

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Classic Tracks: Kyuss – Space Cadet

Posted in Classic Tracks, Solos, Tracks on July 30th, 2009 by Alex

Metal is such a frenetic genre. It’s also frequently brutal, angular, angry and most of all noisy. Every now and again, purveyors of the true faith settle down, break out the bong and forget all about all that ADHD nonsense. I don’t mean slapping your balls on the table and wailing lyrical about the power of love. Sometimes you just gotta sloooow dooown dude.

Stoner legends Kyuss managed to capture this laid-so-far-back-you’re-looking-out-from-between-your-legs mood in a musical cloud of herbal smelling smoke with Space Cadet.

Nestling among various slabs of fuzzy, bass laden sludge on their stoner masterwork Welcome to Sky Valley, this unplugged anthem doesn’t hurry, it oozes. It sounds like it emerged from a weed fueled jam, congealing from the waxy, tar stained air, emanating from a basement; suppressed angst – a cleansing by music and sedatives.

The young Josh Homme delivers an acoustic solo that sounds like it burst from the base of his spine. When inhibitions are smudged away; when the fleshy barrier between self and instrument dissolves, such things can emanate.

Space Cadet made itself – a projection of man and miasma – and it is beautiful.

I stand alone on the cliffs of the world
No-one ever tends to me
Sitting alone covered in breeze
Some things are so my mind can breathe
Waiting is hard, fuckin’ takes so long
Draped in sun, hands in sand
Earth acid cleanses me, it cleanses me clean
But the world it never comes, it never comes
It never comes

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New: Devin Townsend – Coast Video

Posted in Tracks on July 28th, 2009 by Alex
Alien?

Alien?

Coast is the most accessible track of Devin Townsend’s coming of (old) age album Ki. Although not necessarily representative of the dense melancholy pseudo-prog on this involving album, it’s an enjoyable atmospheric rock song. This spooky Blair Witch meets Area 51 video, however, casts a completely different aura over this innocuous number. A collage of largely static, monochrome images tell of monoliths and aliens with newspaper cuttings and amorphous landscapes all spliced together in time with the music. Quivering and edgy, this is actually a little unsettling.

Also for your enjoyment Devin has also shelled out for a new website which contains lots of on-brand nu-Devy imagery and plenty of shrink-couch babble for your vicarious indulgence.

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Classic Tracks: The Dillinger Escape Plan – Panasonic Youth

Posted in Tracks on July 17th, 2009 by Alex

Having virtually created the mathcore genre with their revered debut full-length album Calculating Infinity, The Dillinger Escape Plan had to set about reinventing the wheel. A band not satisfied with continually repeating former glories, there is the stench of reinvention about Miss Machine. That’s not to say that Dillinger had morphed into a jazz-funk fusion, or indeed the more obvious route of sloping down the emo stadium filler route we all know that they’re capable of (and have strayed uncomfortably towards with Unretrofied, and several tracks on follow-up Ire Works).

After parting ways with their original singer Dimitri Minakakis and collaborated with (ex-Faith No More singer and musical alchemist) Mike Patton, among others, on the EP Irony is a Dead Scene, Dillinger finally recruited Greg Puciato after hearing an audition tape sent in response to an advert on the band’s website. Puciato brought with him a greater vocal range than Minakakis and a melodic pop sensibility which inflated the band’s chaotic, claustrophobic sound into a jazz-metal-punk-industrial chimera. The edgy industrial stylings and commercial smarts outraged the fanbase, as the band knew it would, but evolution is a fact of life in Dillinger’s universe – stagnation is the death of art.

Miss Machine’s opener, Panasonic Youth is like a sledgehammer to the face – an anarchic statement of intent that both celebrates Dillinger’s intricate staccato violence and ushering in a new dynamic and cinematic sound. There is no chorus here; the song barely repeats. Despite the fact that this is not in the slightest radio friendly this was the first single from the album.

Clearly a message to the old guard Puciato states with unarguable gusto “Evolution gave us a clock that’s always winding down” in full knowledge that they were winding it up once more; Dillinger is dead, long live Dillinger!

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New: Korpiklaani – Vodka

Posted in New, Tracks on July 16th, 2009 by Alex

Vodka by Finnish folk metalers Korpiklaani has to be the best song about drinking since CSS’s 2006 boozy pop bouncer Alcohol. I’m not generally a fan of Folk Metal but this is irresistible. Korpiklaani describe their music as “old people’s music with heavy metal guitars”, but I’ve no doubt that this track will be the soundtrack of plenty of adolescent drink soaked escapades.

So kids and adults alike, let me here you chant:

Vodka, you’re feeling stronger
Vodka, no more feeling bad
Vodka, your eyes are shining
Vodka, you are the real MAN

One word: Wow.

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Classic Tracks: Iron Maiden – Sea of Madness

Posted in Classic Tracks, Old, Tracks on July 13th, 2009 by Alex

I’m generally quite predictable. In these articles (otherwise known as drops in the ocean) I tend to say a little about the band’s legacy and some history before introducing the track. The tracks themselves are usually fairly obvious ‘classics’ or fan favorites. (It is fair to say, that I haven’t actually written enough to constitute a trend, but I’m gambling on the fact that if anyone bothers reading this, they won’t expend the effort to verify my claims). But what hasn’t already said about Iron Maiden? Bruce “compulsive dabbler” Dickinson has said a lot of it at any occasion that some misguided soul listens to him. It would be pointless to sing the virtues of Run to the Hills (not a favorite of mine by a long shot), or 2 Minutes to Midnight (surely one of the greatest metal tracks of all time?)

No, I humbly bring your attention to a track that, perhaps, you haven’t considered for a while. Somewhere in Time is not considered among Maiden’s most revered albums, although it sits comfortably in the middle and has by far the best cover art (feel free to debate this, but you ARE wrong). It was certainly one of their most commercially successful, and Heaven Can Wait was a live favourite for some time.

But amongst the radio friendly (Wasted Years) and pseudo-prog epics (The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner) sits a hidden gem.

Sea of Madness, penned by the band’s pop-metal factory Adrian Smith, harks back to the melodic flourishes of Piece of Mind. It’s a simple trad-metal anthem. No new ground is trodden here – verse-bridge-chorus, repeat, guitar solo (nothing to write home about), quiet bit, repeat the fist bit again. There’s a bit where Bruce goes who-a-o-a-o-a-o. And what a chorus, truly anthemic, unintelligible lyrics, talk of madness, sadness and eagles. What could be more (mid eighties, post NWOBHM) metal?

OK, so I’m pushing the definition of the word to call this song a classic. Maiden didn’t roll it out along with (other hidden classic) Moonchild on their recent Somewhere Back in Time (see what they did there?) tour, but it’s seriously one of my favorites, so just shut up for a few minutes and give it a go – you’ll love it, I promise. If you don’t, then Number of the Beast is pretty good too.

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New: Alice in Chains – A Looking in View

Posted in Coming soon, New, Tracks on June 30th, 2009 by Alex

This first single on the new Alice in Chains’ new album Black Gives Way to Blue is a 7 minute long sludgefest and can be downloaded for free from the bands website. The dense harmonic undertones are reminiscent of their later work and see new vocalist William Duval’s voice largely obfuscated – there’s scant chance here to see what he’s really made of. Slow, brooding and heavy in every sense of the word, this has an understated chorus that has the potential to grow and grow.

I’m feeling a little less uneasy about this enterprise. Alice in Chains seem neither to be reliving past glories nor forging into new territories – this feels like an evolution.

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