A Columnus Metallicus For The End Of Summer
, September 24th, 2010 11:49
Toby Cook now knows that you should never meet your heroes. He also knows the finest metal releases that you should currently be listening to...
Every once in a while it happens to us all: the OJ Simpson syndrome. In our minds we build up a totally unrealistic picture of someone; we admire them, look-up to and respect them, and when it turns out that they're a murderer (or more commonly, just a bit of a knob) we don't want to believe it and allow the logical part of our brain to flop about like a dead fish as our childhood imaginings beat the living crap out of it. Don't get me wrong, I never thought that being a rock writer only involved hanging out backstage with the band, snorting coke and chucking brown M&M's at strippers, but you like to believe that there are at least some bands doing cool shit like that.
This summer I had the privilege of covering the Bloodstock festival for Metal Hammer, whilst at which I was asked to interview Fear Factory. Somehow, when you see Dino Cazares munching on British Rail sandwiches, on a plastic chair that's struggling to support his weight, in a dressing room that's really a shipping container with a plastic window at the end, some of the magic is lost. When you find out too that Burton C Bell is a total cunt who refuses to shake your hand (ok, so I did play him Bring Me The Horizon, but we've all got a job to do, right?), a part of you dies. If it wasn't for OJ, I'd never listen to Demanufacture again.
Celeste Morte(s) Nee(s) (Denovali Records)
Such grave misgivings and misjudgements are probably pretty unlikely with Celeste; you can imagine that they fucking hate you, and everybody and everything else too for that matter (although I have it on good authority that they're actually a laugh riot). This is more a continuation of its predecessors – the similarly upliftingly titled Pessimiste(s), Nihiliste(s) and last year's devastating Misanthrope(s) – than a stylistic departure, but such is the ferocity of Morte(s) Nee(s) that riding the relentless waves of black metal imbued hardcore (or hardcore tainted black metal - either way, it's bloody horrific) is a palpable sense of rage that simply makes you want to take a really fucking big hammer and smash everything around you, only so as you can later create something more beautiful. And then smash that too.
Masakari The Profit Feeds (Southern Lord)
There's a sort of urban law that says that the guy you should be most afraid of is not the necessarily the skin-headed, tattooed Neanderthal, screaming profanities in a barely intelligible dialect whilst punching himself in the face, but the clean shaven, suited gentleman who whispers "I'm going to slit your fucking throat" as you brush past him on your exit from the bus. Masakari don't do much whispering. In fact, their bludgeoning hardcore dirge is as acerbic as anything released by any so-called hardcore bands in the post-Jane Doe era. Rather, it's the laser guided precision with which they strike their targets – chiefly, organised religion, the government, the military and the capitalist agenda – which marks them out as a gloriously terrifying prospect, of which you should be very afraid.
Lavotchkin Widow Country (Shark City Records)
And speaking of the Post-Jane Doe-ites; it takes a mammoth amount of arrogance to think that if you're in a hardcore band of any stripe you can get away with ripping off the core sound of Converge circa When Forever Comes Crashing, yet it takes a simply mega-mammoth amount of talent, and guts, to do exactly that and yet somehow make that sound your own. Amazingly this is exactly what Newcastle's Lavotchkin have done on this, only their second EP. Still considered one of UK hardcore's best kept secrets – despite being more feral and more adept at penning bleak and uncompromisingly honest music than 90 % of the rest of the scene – provided there's enough to keep them pissed off in the North East (...no, that'd be too easy, right?!), this is a band on the verge of becoming something very special.
Neurosis Enemy Of The Sun (reissue) (Neurot)
Continuing the recent spate of Neurot reissues, Enemy Of The Sun now gets the 'updated artwork by Josh Graham' treatment. Quiet literally ground zero for Neurosis as we know them today, Enemy... might not display quite the same mastery of craft as the rightly more lauded Through Silver In Blood and Grace, yet the vastness of scope, coupled with still rather punk-ish chord progressions and production combines to create a record completely devoid of hope. To be an enemy of the sun is to be, quite literally, an enemy of life itself, a point repeatedly rammed home here - not least during the surly ironically titled 'Cleanse'. If only the full 30 minute version was included (although, on balance, it's possibly better that it wasn't).
Angel Eyes Midwestern (The Mylene Sheath)
Yet more abject misery in a column - and a world - increasingly full of it (I know, how very deep of me) in the shape of Chicago's Angel Eyes. Although owing a heavy dept to Neurosis, and often sounding like what Isis would sound like if they were deep in the grip of a suicidal addiction to opium derivatives, the epic four part post metal of Midwestern is nonetheless all the more enthralling because of it. What most sets Angel Eyes apart from an increasingly clustered herd though (apart from their quite shit name that is) is the almost tangible sense of loathing and hopelessness that, in a very real way, seems to seep out of your speakers and pool into an amorphous black mass that eventually permeates the very pores of your skin, until you're about ready to do unspeakable things with your own shoe laces.
The Sword Warp Riders (Kemado Records)
Before anyone sticks their head in an oven or reaches for a pint of Domestos, let's cheer up with a bit of stoner doom, shall we? After all, most acts of that ilk are far more concerned with non-existent government cover-ups, Illuminati conspiracies and the hidden agendas of a master race of shape-shifting Jewish lizards to be depressed... or if you're The Sword, a loosely held together concept LP about some Archer from the planet Archeron, which although rather clumsy in its conceptual scope is nothing but a shit hot slab of solid Tylium riffs that owes as much to deep space as it does to Sabbath, Metallica and Mastodon. No longer the most over rated band in metal? Fellow Quietus scribe Mark Eglinton seems to agree...
Immortal Sense Call It Anything (Rising)
Bonkers Japanese psychedelic thrash that's neither particularly bonkers nor very psychedelic, but is certainly from Japan. And is definitely thrash. Sort of. Well... no, it's definitely thrash. I think. To be honest, it's difficult to know just what to make of Immortal Sense (or Enema, as their known in their native country). I covered this for Metal Hammer a while back, and I still don't know what to make of it, other than to reiterate that it's "essentially, backwards-looking, forward-thinking thrash..." that occasionally delves into the Metallica book of self-indulgent guitar wankery, and has death metal vocals.
Boris & Ian Astbury BXI (Southern Lord)
Given just how unusual this collaboration sounds on paper, with Boris' penchant for confounding their fans abilities to digest their constantly fluctuating musical bases and Asbury's equally varied history, I was expecting something deep within the realms of the bizarre and borderline unlistenable. That the EP consists of four rather neat verse-chorus-verse compositions is, on reflection, the most unexpected route they could have taken – the post-hardcore (and at times – say it quietly – almost emo) guitar parts perfectly complementing Astbury's howling vocals. But don't take my word for it; I once threatened to punch a guy in the cock after he alluded to Boris being the biggest joke in music, so best read Ben Graham's excellent review elsewhere on The Quietus.
Beehoover Concrete Catalyst (Exile On Mainstream Records)
As much as I love OM (and am apparently one of the few that is enjoying their recent turn for the tantric) this, my stern-jawed metal friends, is how a purely bass and drums duo should sound. Laying somewhere uncomfortably – but, like, in a good way – between Acid King, 5ive and just plain old 'a couple of German dudes with a low frequency obsession', Concrete Catalyst is one of those truly rare things: a record that you expect little, if anything of, yet the vision, execution and – importantly – the sheer heaviness of which completely fucking blows you away.
Neil Jendon Male Fantasies (Land Of Decay)
Bleak, endless, musical inertia; the sort of thing Earth would've recorded had Dylan Carlson spent the early nineties smoking dope, rather than wading through mountains of skag. Half long, droning synth passages, half gaping yawns of mutated noise and tape loops that coat your brains ependymal lining and induces a sort of waking coma that will seem to last far longer than the 40 odd minutes of the album. A cleansing, almost purging... Ah fuck it, look, it's drone, OK? Good drone. Unless you're 'clinically fed-up', in which case you might want to avoid this and get a Billy Joel album or something instead. Oh, and for some reason it's only been released on cassette tape; which, as kvlt as it is, is slightly annoying, because tapes are shit.