Friday, 13 December 2019

Heavy Baby Sea Slugs - Head Ooze // Possession EP + The Minotaur // Trout Fishin' Man EP


Labels: Self-Released
Formats: Digital
Release Date: 13 Dec 2019

Tracklist:

1. Head Ooze
2. Possession

Without even knowing it, today has been a very good day. The blog's received over 1200 hits today so far and it's the weekend. I have a couple of things in the planning stages but this evening I thought I'd re-visit a band that I featured back in March 2017, when I reviewed their EP "Teenage Graveyard Party". Experimental band Heavy Baby Sea Slugs from Texas (USA) has just today released a new two-song EP via bandcamp (what are the chances of stumbling across that!). I thought it'd be cool to write about it, as well as the band's 2016 two-song 7" in a double review.

it feels strange in 2019 to be writing about a band that doesn’t have a social media presence. Yes they’re on Spotify, but there’s no way to interact with them other than through the Heavy Baby Records page on Facebook, which appears to be a little dormant at the moment. Either way, let’s not stop that from spoiling the music of HBSS and this two-track release is literally hot off the press (although not physically). Head Ooze kicks things off with heavy sludge riffs and pounding drums, before giving way to a faster tempo and weird garage-punk/Dave Mustaine inspired vocals. There’s a horror-punk thing going on during the verses but it doesn’t stray too far from the doom/sludge atmosphere that was offered up early on.

Second song Possession is no different, with hypnotising grooves and audible yet projected vocals. Some staunch purists may consider this to be slightly contrived, but I’m not getting that at all. It’s noise-rock at it’s noisiest but also catchiest. As referred to earlier, there’s plenty of experimentation throughout and plenty of different sub-genres at play. After nearly three years without a release, HBSS have come back and are well worth getting behind. Let’s hope these two songs allow them plenty of momentum as they head into 2020.

Stream and download "Head Ooze // Possession" below:-




Labels: Heavy Baby Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 15 May 2016

Tracklist:

1. The Minotaur
2. Trout Fishin' Man

HBSS's musical output dates back to 2013 but I'm not going to that far back just now. Instead, I'm going back to what is their only vinyl release to date. "The Minotaur // Trout Fishin' Man" was released on 7" via Heavy Baby Records in May 2016, as far as I can tell. 

This release pitches HBSS in slightly rawer territory, musically. The Minotaur contains harsher vox but still the same level of groovy guitar work that graces their newest EP. It lurches at a slower pace and sounds a lot more sinister. The experimentation that HBSS is so proud of is obvious within it’s bars too, even though the backbone is more mesmeric and atonal.

You’d expect a song called Trout Fishin’ Man to be a happy and carefree song, but instead it’s a ravaging guitar-led noise fest that seems to get faster and faster in tempo. It’s chaotic for sure and the use of what sounds like a whammy bar throughout is both brilliant and annoying in equal measure. That’s not a criticism though as this sort of music isn’t supposed to be considered easy listening and HBSS don’t do things in a conventional way. 

EP's like this capture a point in time, where only music can. Heavy Baby Sea Slugs may only be slithering forward but that’s better than withering away.

You can also stream "The Minotaur // Trout Fishin' Man" below, where it's also available to buy on vinyl as well as digitally:-



Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Guevnna/Monochrome Nausea - Split Tape


Labels: Kakusan Records
Formats: Tape/Digital
Release Date: 01 Nov 2019

Tracklist: 

1. Guevnna - Into The Night
2. Monochrome Nausea - Based On Photographs

Following last night's Mental Health In Music interview, I wanted to right about something that was connected to that. That something is the recent split tape between Japanese doom band Guevnna and Norwegian noisecore duo Monochrome Nausea. It features one song from each band and was released in very limited number early last month. I last featured Guevnna here back in July 2016 when I reviewed their split with Self-Deconstruction, while MN were featured in September following their split release with Sete Star Sept.

Kakusan’s releases are always loud and Guevnna’s groovy doom on Into The Night is no exception. Their familiar disco-like rhythms and harsh vocals are used to great effect, with melody and distant synths (possibly) making an appearance. Either way, this is great and as is the label’s modus operandi. experimental and forward thinking Japanese music is championed here.

Monochrome Nausea’s noisy rawness comes as a bit of a shock on Based On Photographs but it’s the contrast between them and Guevnna that’s part of this release’s charm. MN’s music seems more improvisational and the bass/drum aesthetic takes more from Sete Star Sept in influence than maybe others. The vocals are sporadic but equally as harsh and there are some grooves hidden in the depths of it all too.

This could be considered one of the most bizarre split releases on 2019 and that isn’t a bad thing at all. It won’t be for everyone but that’s the point. Guevnna’s tones are more soothing while MN’s are downright nightmarish. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

You can stream the split below, where it's also available to buy on tape and digitally:-



Monday, 9 December 2019

Mental Health In Music: A Musician's Perspective #6 - Christer Lunnan-Reitan (Longtime Friend/Label Don/Noise Maker)


Here's the latest interview from my Mental Health In Music and this one comes from longtime (Internet) friend Christer Lunnan-Reitan. Christer used to contribute some reviews to this blog and has been a constant source of new music ever since. A little while ago, I asked him if he wanted to share his thoughts and experiences around being a musician and coping with mental health along the way. He was kind and gracious enough to say yes, so here it is.

1. The idea of this feature is to talk about the problems that musicians face, especially those in DIY  or up-and-coming bands. Would you mind talking about your own experiences with mental health?

A. First off, the idea behind the feature series is extremely important and interesting. My own relationship with mental health is complex. I've more or less lived with depression for as long as I can remember, but only recently been diagnosed with it. I also suffer from mild anxiety and avoidant personality disorder, which is basically a way of saying I avoid confrontations, speaking with authority figures and the likes, as well as being overly sensitive to criticism, how I think people perceive me and the like. 

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2. Being in a band can be an outlet for people to express their feelings and to help them get over certain things in life but do you feel that it can also have a negative effect? If so, what do think these effects can be and are these linked to writing, recording, touring etc?

Oh, I certainly think so. Being able to express their feelings might backlash due to the sheer fact of exposing them to the world and people around you. But I do think that the overall effect of having creative and emotional outlets via art focuses more on healing than something negative. 

In regards to touring and writing, it all depends. I mean, if an artist is having a bad period, earlier material can be a hammer knocking them over their head and making things worse. Touring in a tiny van with people for hours and hours is enough to make everyone fed up, and I recKon it's harder if one is having a bad period in life as well. 


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3. How do you deal with things now? Have you got any advice for those who are struggling themselves, musician or otherwise?

I've recently gone to great lengths to get to a better spot in life. I realised that I needed to get something done, or I would just burn out. I'm going to therapy, taking meds, writing music again and so on. 

My advice would have to be to seek professional help, as well as find someone you trust enough to share things with. Stuff you find shameful or disgraceful might bring you closer to someone. But of course, trust is crucial. 

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4. What more do you think can be done in the underground scene or even the wider music scene to support people who may be struggling?

I think the DIY scene were I come from, or at least the US scene, is focusing on mental health now. But of course, it's hard to go out and write music if you're afraid of being judged by your peers, or it's hard to go to a show if you have social anxiety and so on. 

The internet community is really supportive and goes a long way to make people feel included, regardless of skin colour, your gender identity, your mental health. And I think they're good at standing up for the ones that have a hard time, as well as trying to weed out elitist behaviour (the ones that actually might put you down for your music, etc) 

In general, I think that the focus on mental health and the importance of helping those with mental health issues should be more prominent in media. Big names in pop as spokespersons is a simple, yet efficient way of getting that done, I think.

I hope you've found this interview and indeed the whole series helpful and enjoyable (if thats the right word). I think I've got one more coming up before the end of the year and once we get towards the New Year, I'll be recapping the whole series. Thanks again to Christer for sharing his experiences. Look out for those around you and for yourself. 

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Sun Of The Dying - The Earth Is Silent


Labels: Art Of Propaganda Records
Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital
Release Date: 29 Nov 2019

Tracklist:

1. The Earth Is Silent
2. A Dying Light
3. A Cold Unnamed Fear
4. Orion
5. When The Morning Came
6. Monolith
7. White Skies And Grey Lands

I count this as the fourth review in five days. It's safe to say that December is proving fruitful productivity-wise. The band I'm homing in on tonight is one from Spain's capital Madrid. Doom/death sextet Sun Of The Dying have been together since 2013 yet only released their first album "The Roar Of The Furious Sea" in 2017 with an initial digital self-release and then a digital/cd re-release via Mexican label Throats Productions. In November they released their second full-length via Art Of Propaganda Records. "The Earth Is Silent" is spread over seven song.

Starting with the title-track, Sun Of The Dying paints a melancholic and sorrow-filled picture on “The Earth Is Silent”. This opener may only be an instrumental intro but it proves effective at dragging you down as the choral singing comes in. Doom/death has always been a sub-genre that’s hard to crack for me but hearing the clean vocals and gentle piano/guitar of A Dying Light, it’s hard not to get lost in it’s soothing but unnerving tones. Imagine the Peaceville Three cross-pollinating with Hateful Abandon and you might begin to understand the sonics present here. Slow, mournful tempos mixed with low growls and orchestral instrumentation are all gathered together to great effect.

With A Cold Unnamed Fear, Sun Of The Dying heads in a more black metal direction briefly. The keyboards have more of a presence here and while it’s a long way from being symphonic (possibly a good thing), it’s memorable despite the heaviness. Orion maintains a lengthy instrumental build-up, which is a characteristic of doom/death before those clean vocals reveal themselves again. It brings to mind a whole host of great Scandinavian bands of the same ilk but there’s still an obvious originality to the music. It’s great to hear different countries and indeed cultures put their mark on different musical styles and here Sun Of The Dying combines the heat and positivity of their Spanish homeland with the cold and dank emotion of doom/death’s forbears.

If you’re after something both melodic and truly majestic then look no further than When The Morning Came. It epitomises Sun Of The Dying for me and shows their heart and soul is gloriously open fashion. The vocals, despite being as harsh as they have been throughout, are audible and the song-writing/craft shows a band that is truly maturing. In an age where complex and fast music is providing an instant hit for extreme metal fans, songs like Monolith will provide solace. Again, it’s slow and (as some might say) depressive, but it’s perfectly formed and indeed performed. The mix of textures from the vocals, choral singing and metal instrumentation gives it an instantly listenable impact. It’s possibly the band’s most complete song.

It all segues nicely into album closer White Skies And Grey Lands, with it’s prominent and glorious piano. It’s the final hymn and as such it paints a picture of misty and cold landscapes that are at odds with the sextets’s homeland but that works all too well. Creative and delivered with an assured confidence, “The Earth Is Silent” may be a sleeper when it comes to 2019’s big hitters but it has it’s own place amongst the music that’s shaping this year. As the decade comes to a close, memories will be made and people will be transported to different places thanks to music like this. When I listen to this again, I’ll think of how at peace I was when I first heard it. Incredibly moving, Solemn and soulful.

You can stream and purchase "The Earth Is Silent" on all formats via AOP Records below:-



Art Of Propaganda Records - https://www.facebook.com/aoprecs/

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Nex Carnis - Black Eternity 7"


Labels: Blood Harvest Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 27 Sep 2019

Tracklist:

1. Last Gleams Of A Fallen Conscience
2. The Fathomless Caverns Of Oblivion

Jumping into music from far away lands can often be like staring into the unknown, but it needn't be. Metal and especially extreme metal ignores borders and brings people together. That's exactly what's happening with Iranian death metal band Nex Carnis. They recently released their latest EP "Black Eternity" via Blood Harvest and with it, they're starting to reach the ears of extreme metal fans from across the globe. The roots of the band dates back to 2012, when they self-released their "Death Of The Flesh" demo. 2015 saw the release of debut album "Obscure Visions Of Dark" with help from Italian label Nightbreaker Productions. It may be hard for them to play live either in or outside of Iran, but they'll always have a home amongst metal fans worldwide.

Nex Carnis has risen at the right time. Their death metal is technical, raging and melodic in equal measure. Last Gleams Of A Fallen Conscience is an excellent introduction to the trio for anyone who is crossing paths with them for the first time. The right amounts of murky growls and catchy instrumentation are on show and while you may not consider death metal all that catchy, you might change your mind once you’ve listened to this.

Second song The Fathomless Caverns Of Oblivion is no less listenable. There are moments of death/doom lurking within it but they’re subtle and the main element that’s present here are those bouncing riffs, that seem to lead you all over the place. Imagination in this sub-genre can sometimes be very much devoid but Nex Carnis let theirs run wild. The percussion is more gung-ho and the vocals remain deep and grunt-like but the guitar work is the key to how enjoyable this is.

This EP will definitely be one that keeps spinning. Memorable songs and while there are only two, they will keep you hooked until any future long-player. Another really impressive death metal release from 2019.

You can stream and purchase "Black Eternity" on vinyl or digital formats via Blood Harvest below:-



Monday, 2 December 2019

Lonesome - To Myself, From Myself


Labels: Self-Released
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 26 Apr 2019

Tracklist: 

1. To Myself
2. Remember
3. ;
4. Be Strong
5. In The Heart You Have
6. From Myself

My current mood is yearning more for post-rock/metal than full-on blasting death/black at the moment and there's plenty of the former around. Peterborough (UK) quintet Lonesome are one band that've released music this year that may have flown straight over people's radars. They flew passed mine until recently. "To Myself, From Myself" was self-released by the band back in April, on all digital platforms as well as on lovely white vinyl. To accompany the record, Lonesome also has a live version, recorded at All Saints Church in Sawtry in Cambridgeshire. I'll put a streaming link to that below this review as well.

Lonesome’s music is cinematic, melodic and instrumentally very strong indeed. It has elements of current heavy music crafted by the likes of Bring Me The Horizon (Sempiternal/That’s The Spirit era)  in places and record opener To Myself majors on that cinematic sound, with both clean vocals and screams nestling within it. Remember is a beautifully thought out and delivered song, which is easy going and that won’t frighten off those that sit on the fringes between the mainstream and heavier sounds. It again contains screaming in places but it’s not overrun with it and Lonesome instead allows the music to say everything they want to.

The oddly titled ; is next up and it’s feedback-ridden intro follows directly on from Remember. It’s a lengthy build-up that gives way to gentle keys and guitar work. The grittiness of that feedback still lingers throughout the song even when the volume increases and it turns it into a really nice instrumental song. The second half of the record contains probably their most dissonant song so far in the form of Be Strong. The bass tones can be heard amongst it all, providing extra heft while Lonesome provides the type of quiet/loud dynamic that’s subtle but also very effective. It’s maybe not as obvious as others make it but that’s fine, as it works really well and doesn’t sound disjointed or forced. It does end rather abruptly though, which I wasn’t expecting.

On penultimate song In The Heart You Have, you’re taken back to a calmer and more introspective place. One with less dissonance and more peace. That’s one feeling that Lonesome really conjures with their music, one of peace and wellbeing. It’s fantastic and really uplifting. Ending with From Myself, Lonesome takes one final opportunity to wrap their musical warmth around you. There’s no need to go for the jugular or throw in gimmicks at every turn. Music like this is best left to flow and find it’s own course. The fact that there are bands like Lonesome who have barely scratched the surface in terms of a following is criminal. They’ve not waited for things to happen for them, they’ve done it themselves and for the love of it. They have my full support and hopefully after hearing this record they’ll have yours too.


You can stream "To Myself, From Myself" and buy it physically/digitally from Lonesome below:-



You can also stream and purchase the live version digitally below:-



Sunday, 1 December 2019

A Paramount, A Love Supreme - Crisis Meditations EP


Labels: Larry Records/Zegema Beach Records
Formats: Tape/Digital
Release Date: 15 Nov 2019

Tracklist: 

1. Catastrophizing
2. Overshot
3. I Am Young Without Wilderness
4. Mariner East 2

It's December, I've not even looked at the e-mails I've received promoting 2020 releases yet and I'm not doing an End-Of-Year list (UNTIL AFTER 2019!) if at all. I've put a post up on FB inviting people to submit theirs though! There's still so many releases to talk about from this year and I'm beginning with this EP from Delaware (US) skramz trio A Paramount, A Love Supreme. "Crisis Meditations" was released on limited tape in mid-November via Larry Records and Zegema Beach Records. This EP features both songs from their March 2019 demo, which was also their first release. The post-hardcore/screamo scene just keeps marching on with ever-more momentum, so it's just best to go with it.

Soothing and melodic guitar tones are always welcome and Catastrophizing has them in spades. Following those opening riffs and beyond the sixty-second mark, the trio explodes into a noisy and chaotic screamo frenzy, where the harsh vocals sit in the middle surrounded by the instrumentation. The initial sound is above that whole lo-fi aesthetic. Melody is clear but there’s also a gritty rawness.

It’s energetic with less of an emphasis on the post and more on the violence, as evidenced by Overshot, which is more angular and blackened in a way. Introspection is called for mid-way through and A Paramount, A Love Supreme allows for that with a break in the heaviness for something a bit more restrained. That being said, it’s not that way for long and when they do kick back into top gear, guitar/bass textures are layered atop of complex drumming and heartfelt screams.

They invoke thoughts of barren nature on I Am Young Without Wilderness. Perfectly made for this cold December weather, staring out at the hard frost through my window takes on a different meaning with this playing in the background. It’s uplifting though and that’s another thing you get with this sub-genre. It may sound angry and ugly at times, but it’s true and beautiful if you take the time to appreciate it.

Last song Mariner East 2 contains riffs that could be attributed to early-metallic hardcore but in a subtle way. A Paramount, A Love Supreme doesn’t overdo it and allows plenty of room in the song for the musicianship to truly take centre stage. Stop/Start and delivered with palpable energy, it ends the EP in fine style.

This EP is perfect. It’s short but there’s enough musicality going on amongst it’s songs and while it has one hand in the emo-violence camp, there’s no need for dilution. It seems that A Paramount, A Love Supreme have a lot of room for expansion within their sound. It’s early days yes, but this is a proper starter for ten. Great work, keep em coming!

Stream "Crisis Meditations" and buy it as a name-your-price download from the band here:-




Physical tapes are available via the links below:-

Zegema Beach Records US - http://zegemabeachrecords.storenvy.com


Also, before I forget: Zegema Beach Records is running a special contest throughout December, where anybody who orders from them will be entered into a hat to win a Sawtooth Grin "Cuddlemonster" test-press, courtesy of Wax Vessel. The winner will be announced on December 25th, so you know what to do!