Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Azoic - Gateways

Azoic's debut dropped out of nowhere. Icelandic metallers sharing members with brutal band-brothers Beneath, these guys have one thing in common with that band: brutality. Not in the same vein, but the pure abrasiveness of Gateways is something to be marveled at.

This is largely due to the black metal influence on the record. The drumming is militant, the guitars are buried in a sea of distortion, and the howling vocals create a dense, bleak atmosphere not unlike traveling in a desert amidst a sandstorm. If your skull was a stone, the battering winds of that storm would likely erode your head. As I said before, Gateways is punishing, and no amount of metaphor will describe the feel of the album.

The beauty of Gateways however is that it remains melodic, interesting, and contains odd musical elements which pique my interest on each listen. "Wisdoms Prayer" features some surprisingly addictive three-note melodies that evolve into a much longer melodic passage, and opener "Apeiron" coalesces into a hammering blastbeat dominated by a subtle melody that harmonizes with the cacophonous noise underneath created by the heavily distorted guitar. The interplay here is what keeps what could be just another dull black metal release feeling fresh and interesting.

This musicality makes Gateways impressive for a black-metal-dominated release, and it shows that these guys really know their instruments. The material here isn't impossible to play, but they're not afraid to abuse odd time signatures or chords to get their point across. "A Portal" is a colossal track that really embodies that aforementioned atmosphere. From a slow-paced hammerblast Azoic climbs into a much more sinister riff before ascending to a colossal closing riff which gets stuck in your head. Luckily they don't abuse the riff either, letting it only repeat twice before it collapses in on itself like a black hole. The track ends with disturbing gasps and cries, and what almost sounds like a gag. It's a creepy end to the best track on the album. Later track "Monasterium" has a tinge of doom-influence and "Spirituphysics" has the whole monk-chanting black metal feel to it. Honestly "Spirituphysics" is probably the most predictable, and black metal, track on the album with its seemingly standard beat and timing, and it leads into the droning two-minute outro "Eldlina."

Clocking in at just over 29 minutes, it's a shame Gateways isn't longer. The atmosphere this album creates for the short time that it plays is worthy of mention alone. The dense distortion and surprisingly prominent basslines will repulse a few, but I feel like they're not an issue here at all. They work to Azoic's advantage, helping to create that powerful atmosphere. A very, very strong debut overall. I'm absolutely stoked to see what these guys come up with in the future.

9.0 out of 10


1. Apeiron
2. Skywatchers
3. A Portal
4. Hold bindur tómið
5. Wisdoms Prayer
6. Monasterium
7. Spirituphysics
8. Eldlína

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Death Grips - No Love Deep Web

No more promises. I should really stop with those. I'll just write reviews when I can. Sorry for letting you guys down over the past few weeks, but it seems like obligations keep popping up out of nowhere effectively killing all my free time for blogging. Someday I'll get to my inbox too. Got a few goodies in there for later...

As for now the internet seems to have ejaculated another Death Grips album to the top of the hype charts. I'm sure the drama with their label supposedly shutting down their website and Death Grips' response (leaking the album with such wonderful artwork) only added to the fanboys' accumulated keyboard gunk.

Poised to reinvent themselves with every new release, Death Grips have proven themselves to be a force in the noise/experimental hip-hop scene. No Love Deep Web is another chapter in Death Grips ever-evolving beatography. We saw the inconsistent yet mildly stimulating The Money Store earlier this year and No Love is essentially a continuation of that sound, so don't get your hopes up.

One thing any Death Grips listener will notice is that No Love Deep Web incorporates a few sinister beats and the distorted shouts of Exmilitary. To my dismay they also incorporate the (often forgettable) dance elements of The Money Store equally as often leading to a varied but inconsistent album. The quality of aggro-heavy tracks like "No Love," "Come Up And Get Me," "Bass Rattles Stars Out Of The Sky," and "Lock Your Doors" is mitigated by weak dance-heavy tracks "Pop" and filler-garbage like "Whammy" or "Stockton." It makes listening to the whole album a chore and I often find myself reaching for the skip button.

The drum sounds on here are incredibly superficial. I can't tell if it's the distortion applied to them or the whole dance-beat bullshit that pervades the entirety of post-The Money Store Death Grips. Zach Hill has plenty of talent (just listen to Hella) but his work here is superficial and feels as arbitrary as the droning meters. "Hunger Games" is especially atrocious with it's 'ding-boop' drum samples.

Another big issue I have is the layered vocals which are a half-hearted attempt at adding "noise" to tracks where it's not necessary. Gone are the days where Death Grips carries itself with aggression and forceful vocalwork. Now it's just layered FL Studio beats and distorted vocals with no real feeling behind them. Normally it's fine to evolve your sound, but this evolution didn't result in a more developed product. Whatever the case, this is a problem that could be remedied by ACTUALLY SPENDING SOME TIME ON WRITING MUSIC, as opposed to pumping out shit to feed the hypetrain.

That's what the problem is here. This album literally feels like The Money Store Part II, where B-sides are scattered equally on both albums to make both feel meaningless. It's like these guys decided to write one album and then write a bunch of filler just to have two albums that they could feed the willing e-morons. At least a few tracks on No Love have balls. Can't really say the same for The Money Store.

6.0 out of 10


1. Come Up And Get Me
2. Lil Boy
3. No Love
4. Black Dice
5. World of Dogs
6. Lock Your Doors
7. Whammy
8. Hunger Games
9. Deep Web
10. Stockton
11. Pop
12. Bass Rattle Stars Out The Sky
13. Artificial Death In The West

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