Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chelsea Wolfe - The Grime And The Glow

Last year I reviewed Chelsea Wolfe's Apokalypsis. I thought it was a good release that kept my attention with surprisingly bearable female leads and its dark atmosphere. I recently refound my love for it so I decided to check out her previous release and 2010 debut, The Grime And The Glow.

It's similar in some ways, and different in many to Apokalypsis.

Sugarcoating a turd is pointless and I'll tell you right up front the production on The Grime And The Glow is shit. I'd go so far as to say the production is the top reason this album wasn't so well-received, and it gave her the 'noise' tag. I don't even mind noise rock or noise-influenced music (Ghola represent!) but The Grime And The Glow feels very inconsistent. Tracks like the "The Whys" are very lo-fi and it does have a novelty to it, but that novelty wears off about thirty seconds into the song. The mixing is weak on here too. "Fangs," has a bass sound that literally makes me cringe, and that's one of the better written tracks with a relatively 'decent' production compared to the rest of the album.

The songwriting on here isn't half as bad though, and Chelsea Wolfe does display a competence in writing decent doom-and-folk influenced rock. "Bounce House Demons" would later become the track "Demons" from Apokalypsis, and "Moses" would become my favorite Chelsea Wolfe track thanks to the redux. "Noorus" is a bending track that sports some very key-warping when the layered grooving takes a break. The Grime And The Glow is a very subtle album, although I'm not sure if that's a byproduct of the production or the songwriting. The grooves don't directly 'stick,' but they're noticeable, making the album bearable if not memorable.

Wolfe's great, woeful vocalwork is here in a less refined state. "Halfsleeper" is in my opinion her vocal apex on this album with its beautiful simplicity. Her voice harmonizes with itself to create a haunting, funeral atmosphere. This contrasts pretty actively with the bouncy opener, "Advice & Vices," which is surprisingly more upbeat and catchy. Like the majority of the album, it sounds like the whole master recording of this track fell into a vat of reverb and didn't quite make it out the same. The bonus tracks on The Grime And The Glow are listenable but that's about it. You won't be remembering them anytime soon.

Shame her debut wasn't as strong, but I guess it paved the way for Apokalypsis.

4.25 out of 10


1. Advice & Vices
2. Cousins Of The Antichrist
3. Moses
4. Deep Talks
5. Fang
6. Benjamin
7. The Whys
8. Noorus
9. Halfsleeper
10. Bounce House Demons
11. Widow
12. Gene Wilder (Bonus track)
13. Move (Bonus track)
14. You Are My Sunshine (Bonus track)


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Holograms - Holograms

Now comes a foray into a musical genre I tend to shy away from: post punk. Holograms is a Swedish band with a neat sound, some 'down' electro-vibes, and '70s throwback vocalwork.

As a subgenre I'm not used to listening to, Holograms' self-titled release comes across as unique and interesting. The electronic influences in particular strike me as appealing. They're subtle and effective, and although they don't always pop up, when they do it changes the entire feel of the track. This self-titled is generally drenched in urban despair - the hallmark of many post rock and shoegaze bands mixed with the angst of late '70s punk - and the electronic element creates some variety. "ABC City" is a wonderfully addictive track that uses an electronic synth beat to carry the melody. Others like the follow-up "Stress" are extremely dissonant. Oft littered with janky, dissonant guitarwork, these songs are appealing and jarring in the context of the album.

Still there are some more standard tracks on the album like "Apostate" and "Astray." The former features mellowed snare rolls which contrast nicely with the denser distortion applied to the energetic guitarwork. It's easily one of the heavier tracks on the album along with the absolutely janky "A Tower." This delightful track has my favorite riffs on the album. They work wonderfully with the bouncing bassline.

The synth and electro elements never become overbearing and generally serve as nuances and effective enhancements of Holograms' core sound. It's nice hearing a band use these subtleties to such a high degree of quality. The production and mixing is generous to these elements as well, and each instrument is given its fair share of the frequency platform. Contextually each track works too, which is nice. I tend to like when an artist creates a 'complete' album with their tracklist, even if it's as simple as exploring one special idea through the variety in their tracks.

Some of the tracks, although contextually fitting, are a bit dull however. The closer is a five-minute borefest for example. The aforementioned "Astray" is also completely forgettable. "Fever" luckily evolves into something more interesting than the upbeat intro riff, but sadly "Transform" never really gets there. It's a short song, and it resolves without accomplishing anything. I feel more when I listen to thirty-second grindcore tracks, and that's a bit more than mildly depressing.

I have to say the vocals definitely won't be for everyone, and they tend to carry their own melody. Good thing I'm not everyone. I'd have to say Holograms' self-titled is a success. Definitely a band to keep an eye on in the future.

7.5 out of 10


1. Monolith
2. Chasing My Mind
3. Orpheo
4.. Memories of Sweat
5. Transform
6. Apostate
7. ABC City
8. Stress
9. Astray
10. A Tower
11. Fever
12. You Are Ancient (Sweden's Pride)
Listen // Buy

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bestial Borelust: A Rant + Desecresy - The Doom Skeptron

After a few busy months, I'm finally back and ready to continue blogging. I was planning on creating a new banner and coming up with a new, more user-friendly layout. However like all things productive I put that off until I completely forgot to do it altogether. Maybe soon, maybe soon...

Now you might be wondering what has been taking me so goddamn long to get back on here. It is summer after all. I should have loads of free time. Well to tell you the truth I do, but I've been spending it on other activities. Music, bar my instruments, has irritated the fuck out of me in the last few months, and 2012 has been shaping up to be one of the weaker years in extreme music outside of the demo scene. Why? There's plenty of erm...great bestial black metal right? We've got Pseudogod, the recently released Wrathprayer, and a bunch of quality demos and EPs. What else do we have? Not much. Even outside of metal it's been a relatively forgettable year.

The whole bestial black metal movement was initially fine by me. There's a bunch of solid acts like Diocletian, Archgoat, and numerous others who make all the Ross Bay Cult worshippers cream themselves in delight. The problem with this movement in 2012 is that, like with all subgenres, it's reached a point of oversaturation. That wouldn't be such a bad thing if it wasn't so sudden.  Maybe it really is just me, but it feels like the whole bestial black metal and associated "war metal" scenes literally exploded in late 2009 and have since been carried over the end of the world on the waters of excess. If it's just me then I apologize now, but it's a thought that's kept me from even feigning interest in black metal for quite some time.

Now comes the part where I come across as a hypocrite. I'm going to recommend that you listen to fucking DESECRESY: gloriously groovy doom-influenced death metal.

Sounds derivative right? Who cares. This shit is wonderful. Told you I'd sound like a hypocrite.

These Finns really know what they're doing when it comes to songwriting. Despite being about as technically challenging as tying one's shoes, The Doom Skeptron is littered with cool phrases and great headbanging grooves. The numerous nods to Bolt Thrower and the similarities to Slugathor's (featuring the same members) less slow side make the album worth listening to. The Doom Skeptron isn't the most original material on the face of death metal (anything but considering the influx of old school death metal bands - almost as bad as bestial black metal), but these guys do a great job with it. That's a lesson that can be learned by all these basement-dwelling bestial black metal acts that keep popping up overnight. If you're going to mimic a style or feel, do it right and with your own spin. Becoming the umpteenth clone of Blasphemy is about as cool as wearing corpsepaint in public.

The Doom Skeptron is consistently catchy and appealing. Each track has a particular standout riff or passage that creates a strong atmosphere and usually leaves my neck sore. "Sons Of The Burning God" is probably the speediest on the album, but the groovy chugging gives way to some interlaced melodies that carry the weight of the song. This is the case even with the slower tracks. The pummeling nature of the low-end creates a gap for the nuanced guitar melodies to become the focal point. In essence the lead guitar isn't competing with any other instrument for the limelight for most of The Doom Skeptron, although you won't be headbanging to the leads so much as the pounding rhythm. An exception is the personal favorite of mine and opener "Forged From Chaos," which features a sinister melody that plays during breaks and ends the song on a softer note. "Declined Resplendence" and the powerful "Burial Adorations" both make for a strong middle and the fitting ender "The Solemn End" closes up the album.

I'm definitely a fan of the solo work and the production values on the album too. The solos are less distracting than usual and serve to immerse more than anything on The Doom Skeptron. As if the production doesn't do a good enough job of that as is. The album is dark, with a hearty low-end and a solid bass although the instrument itself is mixed rather low beneath all the distorted cacophony. The vocals bear a bit on the side of monotony though, and although they fit, they could use a bit more variety. Other than that this is a solid release worth checking out in a year that hasn't been so kind to any metal subgenre.

8.0 out of 10


1. Forged from Chaos

2. The Sleep of Titans

3. The Sceptre of Damnation

4. Burial Adorations

5. Declined Resplendence

6. Vortex Unwinding

7. Sons of the Burning God

8. The Solemn End

Listen // Buy