Monday, 17 June 2013

Brothers from other mothers and Irish Twins

 The Black Dahlia Murder and Killswitch Engage have a lot in common. They have a keen sense of identity and possess deep knowledge of metal history. They love what they do and have a sense of humour. Strnad's thick glasses scream "real life, actual nerd" and Adam D.'s sideburns, receding hairline and tutus on stage have even caused the already fully furrowed foreheads of serious metal heads to furrow even further. Although their chosen genres are somewhat far apart both bands prove that a sense of humour and heavy fucking metal with heart need not be mutually exclusive. They also happen to both have new albums out as I write.

KSE's Disarm the Descent is a splendid, lean platter of post-metal-core explosion, metal... Once posterboys for all that was evil in modern (relatively) mainstream metal KSE have exceeded their image and sound. Heavy verses still give way to smooth melodic choruses but there is is an organic vibe to proceedings. The biggest breakthrough is solos - where once there would have been a breakdown now there are hell for leather solos tearing through the middle eights all over this album. Only problem is that they are often not long enough (for me). Suspending knowledge of 'core and simply opening your ears to this album yields an exquisite galloping, post-Iron Maiden, post-Swedish melodeath theme throughout.

Meanwhile, Everblack is nothing short of a masterpiece. When Cannibal Corpse decided to stop treading blood and properly embrace technicality from Kill onward, they proved to all up-and-comers and veterans alike that while strictly limited, death metal could be done better. They upped the anti and have dropped three slabs of pure, brutal, tech death without compromise over the last 5 years. With Everblack, TBDM have essentially reached the same point as Cannibal did on Kill. Featuring an astounding awareness of death metal conventions and history as well as the gall to experiment and traverse different genres (from the slime of Morbid Angel to the claustrophobia of Suffocation to the soaring heights of the Swedish glory days) Dahlia simply murder (the competition). The production is astounding, polished enough to hear everything that's going on but primal enough so that it sounds like a band playing rather than a Pro Tools' quantisation and sound replacement textbook exercise.

Skinny Puppy - Weapon

After a string of post Goettel overdose, post-The Process niche but mostly mediocre albums

(The Greater Wrong of the Right, Mythmaker, Handover) Cevin and crew return with what is

arguably the most Skinny Puppy sounding album since Cleanse, Fold and Manipulate. Also it

just happens to be excellent.

Skinny Puppy's complexity always sounded best as a kind of Canadian, white boy, junkie

answer to early Public Enemy. Heavy with samples, noise, dissonance and odd loops, their

best work overwhelmed the listener with stimulation but also soothed with cold, distant

melancholia (VIVIsectVI). But when in the late 90s the band went hi-fi a lot of the charm

of the noise was lost. Everything sounded a bit too simple, normal, pedestrian. Where once

they were pioneers, now thanks to better computers, cheaper synths and greater access to

knowledge everyone has access to the same tools. Chances are there are Skinny Puppy

presets available somewhere for download.

With Weapon, however, Key, Ogre and Walk have intentionally stripped back the timbre

pallet and focused instead on melody and word play. And it simply works. There is sense of

self-reflexivity in the deliberately restrained strength. Skinny Puppy finally sound

relevant again, that is to say, unique and in an uncompromised, unemulated state of their

own. Eighties industrial has never sounded better nor more modern.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Church of Misery - Thy Kingdom Scum

Yeah, Swang it baby.

No, really, just do it. This album falls into a special category: Albums by contemporary doom bands that undermine Black Sabbath's relevance in 2013.

This is how you doom. No compromises, giant riffs, time changes, gutsy solos all in the mode of minor pentatonic.

Sounds like it should be boring. Sounds like it has been done.

Well it's not. And it hasn't, not like this.

Production is splendid the album sounding like it was smashed out by dudes in a room. Fidelity goes far but crashes before it sounds too clean, too processed. This is some seriously heroic Twenty-First Century doom - go away pretenders, Church of Misery have released the best album of their career.