Monday, 14 August 2017

The Art Of Noise: Dephosphorus - Impossible Orbits + Review


I'm beginning to move in a slightly different direction with this blog. One of the ideas that I want to build upon is my "Art Of Noise" features, which revolve around interviews with bands and artists about the artwork that adorns both new and old records. This is the third instalment, the other two are here and here. It features the newest album by Greek astro-grind band Dephosphorus and includes short interviews with both the band and the Viral Graphics, who created the artwork above. I've also decided to review the album below as well. "Impossible Orbits" was released in June via Selfmadegod.

Here's what both Dephosphorus and Viral Graphics had to say about the artwork, the creative process and how it reflects the music:-


(Photo Credit: Dephosphorus' Facebook Page)

Dephosphorus

Before I ask you about the artwork itself, I want to ask you about “Impossible Orbits”. What kind of creative process did you go through when writing and recording the album? What ideas and themes are present on it?

Panos: The creative process has been the same as in all our efforts. Thanos, our guitarist and songwriter sends us from Sweden (where he’s currently residing) demos with the songs (with or without programmed drums). We then play them all together once we’re reunited in Athens, as part of our bi-yearly rehearsing sessions. At this point we finalise the drum parts and we add the vocals.

Until recently we’ve been a trio and bass was added at the studio. For “Impossible Orbits” Babis K., an old comrade and band mate of me and Thanos back in the Straighthate days (check out his noise rock band Krause!), has recorded the bass for some songs and he has been able to join some rehearsals as well . After the completion of “Impossible Orbits”, a proper bass player has joined the band, Kostas Ragiadakos, so for the preparation of our new fourth album which we have just finished recording (scoop!), bass was part of the creative process as well.

Last but not least, before hitting the studio we’re doing pre-production which usually consists of drums recorded at our rehearsal spot (Studio D) and the rest of the instruments and vocals recorded home.

Some of the ideas and themes explored this time in the context of our overall concept are:
The alternate states of existence that consciousness and sentient life can be trapped to.
The cruelty that super-evolved civilisations can display.
The evolution of life beyond biology and the possible osmosis between biological beings and A.I.
The mis-management of resources by a civilisation and the associated consequences.

With that in mind, did you have any ideas for the artwork before you approached Viral Graphics to help you out?

Panos: Viral Graphics are like an extra member of Dephosphorus and we trust them 100% for the visual part. They have done all our artwork so far - except the split-7”EP with Great Falls which was part of the Hell Comes Home box set.

We never give them directions: just the music and the lyrics. From there, they extract some key themes and vibes that resonate with them. The result is always perfect and beyond expectations.

Dephosphorus has always been a heavy band that takes no prisoners. How do you think the cover art reflects both the band and the music on the album?

Panos: The cover artwork has captured the darkness and violence of the album’s music and lyrical themes. I also think that more than previous times, it evokes perfectly the space opera dimension of our music and concept.

What has the reaction to “Impossible Orbits” been like so far?

Panos: Being released by Selfmadegod, which is the bigger label we’ve worked with so far, has exposed “Impossible Orbits” to new audiences and media. The reaction is very positive and we are grateful for all the support we’re getting. Cheers!


(Photo Credit: Viral Graphics Tictail Page)

Viral Graphics

You’ve worked with Dephosphorus before, designing cover art for their previous LPs and the collaborative LP with Haapoja. How were you first introduced to the band and what was you first project with them?

VG: We've been friends with the guys for many, many years now, so it was only natural that at some point we would work together, besides hanging out listening to music. We had done some stuff for the previous band of two of the members of Dephosphorus, called Straighthate back in the day - mainly flyers and show posters - so when the time came they commissioned us to work on the artwork and packaging for Dephosphorus' debut "Axiom" LP in the hot and humid summer of 2010. Good times. 

That artwork somewhat jump-started our involvement (and to some extent, our interest) in space/ astral-themed illustration, which is now, 7 years later, quite a prominent ingredient in our work as Viral Graphics, both for Dephosphorus as well as other artists. 

When they approached you to create the cover art for “Impossible Orbits”, did they come to you with a brief or did you just roll with it? How long did it take you to complete?

VG: Since we're good friends with them, we get to constantly talk about the band and what has to be done and so on, so a "brief" in the strict sense of the word is non-applicable. We get to do as we please as it's up to us in Viral to come up with a concept and how that will be depicted on the cover etc. We of course have some guidelines and some ideas do come from the band, but other than that we are solely responsible for everything art-related regarding Dephosphorus. Minimal guidance from the band but exactly what we need in order to work, so everyone's happy and they really trust us, our work and vision.

We started discussing the "Impossible Orbits" artwork about a year and a half ago. They gave us the album's lyrics and we began collaging a concept based on and around them, then proceeded to pencil out the illustration and when it got approved we started inking it. The inking process start to finish took two solid months, from May to July 2016, of painstakingly long workdays in 40 degrees Celsius weather, but it was all worth it as we consider it to be one of our best works to date.

A lot of your artwork has a horror/occult theme to it. What sort of theme did you go for with “Impossible Orbits” and what reaction did the artwork get from the band when you presented it to them?

VG: Well, the concept is best described by the band so we'll just quote them on that as it fits exactly what us in Viral we'd say about it anyway: "Concept and aesthetics draw influences from cosmology, astronomy and science fiction literature, as well as the associated sociopolitical and existential repercussions." 

The "Impossible Orbits" cover artwork is exactly that, given that it has a slave ship on it with more slaves embarking upon voluntarily, while their planet comes to an end through a cleansing, maniacal fire. You could say that the current global situation is like that, you get to be a slave to something or someone, or you get burned by the "fire" closing in on you rapidly.

Much like the current geographical alterations taking place right now, for example the people of Syria, they stay there they get killed, they leave they get drowned in the Mediterranean sea and the ones that manage to get to Greece's or Italy's shores, they get treated like shit, and then afterwards - even if they get through that ordeal too - they have to hike innumerable and unfathomable heights to have something resembling a 'normal life' and that's just one example of what the world has come to. That sense of hopelessness was what we tried to capture with this artwork. It is very earthly in a way, while simultaneously being 'spacey'. 

As for the band's reaction, they loved it but they got to witness each and every step of it, as we were documenting the illustration's progress through photographs which we'd then send over to them to review.

As fans of the music, how would you say the cover represents Dephosphorus and their sound?

VG: Well, it still fits within the band's basic concept of Dephosphorus being an entity, as well as the world surrounding that said entity. This pretty much describes it all in all.

Carry on down to the review below...

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Goblin King - Blood, Drugs, And Death N' Roll EP


Tracklist:

1. Blood, Drugs, And Death N' Roll
2. Goblin King
3. 667
4. Eye Of The Storm
5. Death Sti-XXX

Death n' roll is one of those sub-genres that I've never really understood. I guess it's just another name for an offshoot of death metal, but it's come across as bit of a joke like psychobilly (another sub-genre I don't get). That being said, a lot of the bands that play death n' roll do name Entombed as an influence so it can't all be bad. This brings me onto new London quartet Goblin King and their very newly released (three days ago in fact!) debut EP. They're getting a decent amount of attention at the moment, especially for a band who're only a few months old, so I suppose I should find out what the fuss is about.


First thing’s first, this is a lot heavier than I was expecting. The title-track that kicks things off is fast and furious with plenty of riffs and a mix of growls and gang-vox. It’s catchy I’ll give em that. The song that shares it’s name with the band is equally as frenetic, but also more off-kilter. Goblin King throws in some stoner groove and solos amongst the tempo changes. Proving they don’t take themselves too seriously, they throw in a song called 667. It’s rousing to start with but switches into something more brooding later on. At this point, it’s feel like they’ve crossed over from parody to genuine and sound all the better for it. There are countless comparisons that can be made, but I’m going to leave them to your imagination because I don’t think it’s fair to name drop, as it takes something away from Goblin King themselves. The fact that the vocals throughout this EP are audible is great as well, especially on Eye Of The Storm, with it’s driving rhythm section leading from the front. Closing song Death Sti-XXX rounds out the EP with melody and a party atmosphere flowing through it. This is an enjoyable EP and thanks to Goblin King’s uncomplicated approach to their music, it’s momentum is strong. Good debut and future festival appearances are bound to come their way next year.

You can stream both "667" and "Eye Of The Storm" below via Goblin King's bandcamp page:-



The EP is available both digitally and on CD from their page too.

Goblin King - https://www.facebook.com/GoblinKingOfficial/

LUAU - Wake Up Dreaming


Tracklist:

1. Shitty Dudes
2. Muncle
3. Fire Queen
4. Wake Up Dreaming
5. Debt Collector
6. Oh, It's A Problem
7. Bogan

Beach punx from Basingstoke! That's what LUAU refer to themselves as and who's to argue. They're closer to the sea than we are up here. They're a pretty new band and "Wake Up Dreaming" is their first EP. They've have shared and are due to share the stage with (recently featured) Calligram and Kamikaze Girls respectively and they share members with Eagleburner, who once upon a time played in Harrogate. Hopefully LUAU will make it up here at some point.

LUAU’s obviously worked hard on nailing down that retro garage punk sound. Shitty Dudes is high octane and noisy. It reminds of The Hives. The instrumentation is great, especially the guitar work and the vocals are loud yet audible. Catchy and danceable seems to be the order of the day and Muncle is certainly both of those things. Fire Queen sounds kind of moody during the verses but stays on the right side of lo-fi. That can be said for the whole EP as well really, because the production and mastering gives it an edge for sure. The title-track isn’t as up-tempo as earlier songs, but it looses no attitude. The riffs are killer too. Debt Collector is brief but keeps momentum high while Oh, It’s A Problem follows on immediately afterwards with the same fervour and plenty of opportunity for sing-alongs. Bogan closes out “Wake Up Dreaming” in true punk fashion, with nods to country music too. Musically they are really tight and are one of those bands that need to be heard in a live setting to be truly appreciated. Party on!

Stream "Wake Up Dreaming" and buy a name-your-price-download here:-



LUAU - https://www.facebook.com/luaugaragepunx/

Monday, 7 August 2017

Gehenna - Seen Through The Veils Of Darkness (The Second Spell) Reissue


Tracklist:-

1. Lord Of Flies
2. Shairak Kinnummh
3. Vinterriket
4. A Witch Is Born
5. Through The Veils Of Darkness
6. The Mystical Play Of Shadows
7. The Eyes Of The Sun
8. A Myth...
9. Dark Poems Author

Following their earlier reissues of Bal-Sagoth's fantasy inspired black metal album "Battle Magic" and the avant-garde black metal of Sigh's "Infidel Art", Cacophonous Records turned their attentions to the icy blasts of Gehenna's "Seen Through The Veils Of Darkness...". The Norwegian band's 1995 debut full-length was presented with re-mastered audio by the label that originally released it. It seems more important than ever that in 2017, the bands that helped to shaped black metal are heard by new ears. That certainly seems to be the case with the aforementioned acts and the likes of Fleurety reaching new audiences.

Unlike Bal-Sagoth and Sigh, Gehenna were very much an orthodox band in black metal terms, especially in their early days. They exhibit much of that orthodoxy on opener Lord Of Flies, though they also make use of symphonic elements and subtle catchiness too, though they may not call it so. The orchestral textures within their music on Shairak Kinnummh may sound welcoming, but actually appear more sinister. The shrieks and instrumentation that sits n the background only add to that feeling. It’s still not an easy listen. If you listen closer and look beyond those orchestral textures, you might here early hints of black ’n’ roll too (at least it seems that way to these ears). The urgency and wicked tempo of Vinterriket seems to lean in that direction. The lead-riffs on A Witch Is Born are a nice addition and seem to jump out of the recording here. The bizarre vocal samples/noises are altogether scarier though. Through The Veils Of Darkness seems to take the form of different passages and time-signatures. Musically, it’s very strong and very focused. A band’s first foray into a full-length record can be hit and miss, but Gehenna get stronger throughout. The remastering seems to have really brought The Mystical Play Of Shadows to life, as it’s full-throttle feel is matched by it’s volume. Twin guitar melodies and pounding blasts cut through the choral chants and keys really well. The roars on The Eyes Of The Sun are certainly more torturous than they were earlier on; however, if you’re yearning for a straight-up no frills black metal song, you’ll have to get past the dominating keys first. The near-nine minute song A Myth… to satisfy the yearning for something more extreme though. It’s more atmospheric and is definitely the standout song on the album for me. Dark Poems Author brings the the album to a close with Gehenna’s early staple sound being joined by some classy piano tones. The album goes by really quickly and while it contains a fantasy-like edge, Seen Through The Veils…” is very much of a point in time when blueprints were for ripping up and copycats didn’t exist. 

You can stream and download the remastered version of the album here:-



Gehenna - https://www.facebook.com/PerfectHate/
Cacophonous Records - https://www.facebook.com/CacophonousRecords/

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Christie Front Drive - 4010 b/w Away 7"


Tracklist:

1. 4010
2. Away

This 7" was another one that was released as part of Magic Bullet's 20th anniversary celebrations last year. It also formed part of the label's Christie Front Drive reissue project. It was originally released way back in 1994 by Freewill Records and is now available again on both black and clear vinyl. Christie Front Drive (from Oceanside, California) has been cited as an influence by countless punk/emo bands and their music continues to be revered. 

Part of the enduring thing about metal and punk for me is listening to the bands that laid the foundations for many of the bands I listen to now. I guess without bands like Christie Front Drive, there wouldn’t have been bands like Jimmy Eat World, The Movielife, Brand New or many of today’s newer emo/screamo bands. There’s nothing false about CFD’s sound either, they just did their own thing at the time and hearing 4010 immediately transports you back to a point in punk & rock’s evolution where there was no pretence. It’s a very laid back song especially in the vocal department, yet there’s still room in the recordings for some noise-rick guitar like breaks and whole heap of melody. Away is brimming with feedback, punchy percussion and it’s evidently heavier than 4010, thanks to the screamed passages that sit in the mix. i’ll be up front and honest and say that Christie Front Drive aren’t a band that I’ve listened to a great deal before; however, I completely understand their appeal and can hear a lot of similarities to bands that I have in my own record collection now. They’re great and in me, they now have another fan for life. 

You can stream the 7" below, where you can purchase it digitally and on 7" in both colour-ways:-



Christie Front Drive - https://www.facebook.com/christiefrontdrive/
Magic Bullet Records - https://www.facebook.com/magicbulletrecords/

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Duct Hearts/Dym/Thisismenotthinkingofyou - August UK Shows


In just over a week, Germany's Duct Hearts will be setting off around the UK for a short run of shows alongside London's Dym and Derby's Thisismenotthinkingofyou. It all starts at a "yet to be announced" London venue on August 9th and ends on the 13th as JT Soar in Nottingham.

Duct Hearts are playing in support of their recent LP "Feathers' (reviewed here), which was released by a whole host of labels including Time As A Color and Strictly No Capital Letter, who're helping to make this tour happen alongside Adorno Records and other helpful people. Also, if you peak a little closer at the poster above, you'll notice a familiar logo on there (wink, wink).

The individual social media event pages are below:-

09/08/17 - London - Venue to be announced (Without TIMNTOY)
10/08/17 - Leeds - Temple Of Boom (with Healing Powers)
11/08/17 - Glasgow - 13th Note (with Old Guard & The Cherry Wave)
12/08/17 - Northern England/Scotland (Please get in touch with Duct Hearts in you can help)
13/08/17 - Nottingham - JT Soar (with Elbrus)

Both Dym and Thisismenotthinkingofyou will be playing special sets/new songs and will have tapes available to by at the shows. Duct Hearts will have copies of "Feathers" will them too hopefully. In the meantime you can stream music by all the bands below:-








Duct Hearts - https://www.facebook.com/ducthearts/
Dym - https://www.facebook.com/dymtheband/
Thisismenotthinkingofyou - https://www.facebook.com/timntoy/
Time As A Color - https://www.facebook.com/timeasacolor/
Strictly No Capital Letters - https://www.facebook.com/strictlynocapitalletters/

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Nebraska/Diplomat - Split LP


Tracklist:-

1. Nebraska - Carousel
2. Nebraska - Gravity's Fool
3. Nebraska - Lower Light
4. Diplomat - Minarets
5. Diplomat - Geisha
6. Diplomat - We Were Just Faking

I can't believe it's already August. It feels like only yesterday when I was sat here glancing over social media news feeds salivating over the many releases that were due this year. I've barely scratched the surface. Take this split LP by Australian bands Nebraska and Diplomat. It was released way back in January via four labels from different parts of the world. It was their first release since their debut S/T 7" in 2012 (aside from comp appearances) and it features the first recordings from Diplomat since 2003! Both bands play a take on indie/emo/rock.

Both bands have three songs on this split. Nebraska’s up first with Carousel. The music is twinkly and up front while the vocals sit deeper and sound quiet at times and a bit grunge-like in places. They explode with a DIY sound akin to early La Dispute towards the end. Gravity’s Fool is quite easy going and there’s more than a mere hint of classic 90s emo about it. The vocals are shouted but are still clean and audible, which is where that comparison comes from. Nebraska’s final song Lower Light teeters on the brink between quiet calm and emotive chaos. They wait once again till it’s closing stages to release the pressure and quash any suspense. Diplomat seems like the perfect split partner here. On their opener Minarets they definitely have that earthy sound that only comes from Australian bands, with a bit of Deftones thrown in for good measure. Geisha is a mid-paced trip between fuzzy rock and occasional fits of screamo. Musically, they are more than sound with hypnotic layers created by guitars and percussion alike. Their final song We Were Just Faking is hard to categorise. There’s all kinds of rock, punk and even country music elements in there. This a great split record and both bands compliment each other well. Nebraska’s more old-school emo might seem at odds with Diplomat’s noisy rock but it’s not. Good job all round.

Nebraska's and Diplomat's sides can be streamed and purchase digitally or on LP via the bandcamp pages below:-





Nebraska - http://nebraskafromadelaide.tumblr.com
Diplomat - https://www.facebook.com/diplomatband/

You can also pick up copies of the LP from the labels involved in the release below:-

Ruined Smile Records (AUS) - https://ruinedsmilerecords.bandcamp.com/merch
Time As A Color (GER) - http://timeasacolor.com/shop/product-category/time-as-a-color-releases/
Rubaiyat Records (UK) - http://rubaiyatrecords.bigcartel.com/category/rubaiyat-records
Don't Live Like Me (US) - https://dontlivelikeme.bandcamp.com/album/nebraska-diplomat-12

Ruined Smile Records - https://www.facebook.com/ruinedsmilerecords/
Time As A Color - https://www.facebook.com/timeasacolor/
Rubaiyat Records - https://www.facebook.com/rubaiyatrecords
Don't Live Like Me - https://www.facebook.com/dontlivelikeme/