Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Thantifaxath takes its metal spaceward on Void Masquerading as Matter (2017)

One of my favorite black metal albums of the past decade was "Sacred White Noise" by Thantifaxath. It's a sprawling masterpiece of mindfuck horror, without relying on tropes like blood, gore, or vulgarity, but with actually terrifying concepts like eternity and purgatory. It's all handled tastefully too, in my opinion--with reverence to the craziness that must have went into the writing.

img via Bandcamp
The band just released "Void Masquerading as Matter" this month. The news caused excitement to flow upwards and out of me. I will now review the new EP briefly.

This is the kind of music I'd like to make someday. I could listen to this over and over. Thantifaxath have done it again with this EP. Four songs, 33-ish minutes of music, takes you on an epic journey, is sparsed out properly, stylistically unheard of, and will probably be imitated in the future.

This is weird, but I'm starting with track 2. I listened to track 1 a week or so ago when it was released, and it kind of flew in one ear and out the other. I wasn't paying enough attention. Gonna skip it this time. #dealwithit

"Self Devouring-Womb" is scary and hisses all the way thru, but takes the listener thru the whole gamut. It starts slow, has a big rise in its vast middle, and ends with a completely different type of sound and style, adding to the mythos of these ideas they've conjured up there in Toronto, the Far East Stronghold of Canada.

"Cursed Numbers" comes in so smoothly after the previous track that you'll miss it if you're not listening closely for the track change. So far, the songs seem to be thematically connected. This song features the band trying out some new ideas, but they're still staying really close to the style they've created.

Somehow these guys make black metal that sounds like no other black metal I've ever heard. Sometimes I'm reminded of the band Shining--not the suicidal depressive one, but the Blackjazz one.

The way they slow down at the 4-minute mark of "Cursed Numbers" and feature these processed distorted vocals is really cool. Then the sounds of black metal space appear. Sometimes this band reminds me of a sci-fi film. Like "Alien." But they seem firmly rooted in this idea of the afterlife and massive spans of time. This album seems more sci-fi than religious, like their last album, "Sacred White Noise." But the musical style is the same--written and performed by the same three guys, obviously. At least I don't think there were any lineup changes.

Around 7:40 on "Cursed Numbers" the lead guitar is amazing to me. There are sounds of screaming too. It's super scary and technically proficient. The time signature is about as far from 4/4 as you can get, yet it's still head-bob-able.

"Void Masquerading as Matter": do you like new-school Sunn O)))? Then you'll like how this track starts. It's beautiful, quiet, and thought-provoking, and contains perfectly captured performances by at least one guest vocalist.

And wow, do they stick with the theme on this closing track. It's a wild ride. I'm tense the entire time. That was masterfully executed. Well done, Thantifaxath. I'm not going to review the first track, you can listen to it yourself, and I've gotta put my kids to bed.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Fink's "Resurgam" delighted me when I was hating hard on modern music

"Resurgam" (Sept 2017) by Fink is a good album in a style I wouldn't have thought would resonate with me, indicating that it could be an album with appeal to a wide range of audiences. It's mellow, ambient folk with an electronica feel, some shoegaze mixed in. Usually that's a big turnoff, but because of the quality of the music, and Fink's understated, minimalist, chill delivery, this thing was enjoyable.

I was annoyed with popular music when I found "Resurgam", and had been digging for some time. The new Marilyn Manson song, "We Know Where You Fucking Live," is more of his usual tripe. It's revolting to me, as a former huge fan of his. I get so excited each time he releases new music, and it's always the same thing, repackaged in his hollow, self-congratulatory and -obsessed style: the album cover is a picture of his face, his music sounds the same as the last album, his vocals delivered in murky laziness, the picture of him hides his double chin at exactly the line at which it'd be exposed with a tall collar on his jacket, and he shows no signs of stopping. He'll just keep churning out shit for the rest of his usefulness. Ah well. Some people are just lost to the cause, you know? If he's taught me anything at this point, it's that teenagers, like I once was, are gullible, humans lose their fire when they get older, our heroes are fallible, and cocaine's a hell of a drug.

The new Björk song "the gate" is too mellow for me rn. Maybe later. "Resurgam" is mellow too, but it's a mellow that doesn't force me to study it with a fine-tooth comb to find something I care about.

The new Foo Fighters album "Concrete and Gold" is not as heavy as I want it to be, at least not the 1st two tracks. "Run" starts promisingly, but diverts from the heavy, dirty guitar groove into pop too often. It feels like a betrayal of what Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl meant when they were starting out. That they try that desperately to give each song a hook, and sing-song, memorable passages, kills the artistry. It's like they try to lure me in with a tasty carrot, and then slam the door shut to the Jail Cell of Mediocre Rock behind me, only the door is weak af, it's only made of bologna and Swiss cheese. It's like, are you guys even trying anymore? Breaking out of there actually nourishes me! Slightly. Cheese and bologna aren't healthy--that's why it's dangerous to step one foot in the waters of Mediocore Rock Created By Our Heroes Who Haven't Been Good In 30 Years. The first track on Concrete and Gold--"T-Shirt"--I enjoyed. I like short songs with ideas that only come once, and don't repeat.

The times for our musical heroes of the past are over. They rocked us hard once, so they keep receiving more money, getting more chances--like Ricky Gervais and Seth McFarlane in the film world--and they relentlessly churn out predictable, safe tripe that bends no boundaries, is cowardly at its root, and ultimately adds nothing to the musical lexicon. The marketplace of ideas will shut them out eventually. Their new albums won't nearly stand the test of time that their old ones did. Not even close.

Not every album can be mind-blowing, but it could at least be original, and at least the artist could try. IMO if you're not working really hard, it's not gonna be good. These bloated fat fuckers with their money--and this is different from poor people being fat because the food industry actively tries to poison poor people by making cheap food unhealthy--just thinking they can stride on into the studio and bang out some shit without suffering for it can take their crowning achievement and bury it in the ground. Yay for them. Let's celebrate them more in popular media. Great job. Meanwhile, new and emerging artists struggle to be heard.

So I was looking thru the rest of the new releases on Spotify by album cover, annoyed and impatient, and I saw Fink's "Resurgam" and it looked interesting. Visually it's not incredibly original, but it does fit the mood of the music, and I like the blurred out face--it shows the artist without being self-indulgent. He's emotional, but not putting his entire heart on his sleeve like a teenager. Fink's music is chill, reserved, gives you just enough to go on, and has a cool rhythm.

This was my first time hearing him, mind you, and I only listened to half the album. It looks like he's been releasing music since 2000. I apologize to hardcore Fink fans if "Resurgam" is, to you, more akin to what I described above à la "Concrete and Gold", but it hit me in just the right place.

And I hadn't even smoked any weed when I heard it! So the overall point of this review is that, if you're feeling like you want some new music, check this shit out. It might take you out of the same bad mood I was in and let you groove and dance a little and forget your troubles and be a tiny bit hopeful for the future, but also live in the moment, cuz that's what it did for me.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

George Michael dies on Christmas 2017

George Michael, who wrote Careless Whisper, died today at 53 years old. He passed away peacefully at home, and police say there were no suspicious circumstances.

Wham! Ugh, please 2016, don't take anyone else away from us! Now I really have to watch that Behind the Music about the guy.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Liturgy is black metal's savior

Brooklyn's Liturgy approaches black metal truly individualistically. It's black metal, definitely--not speed, thrash, grind, hardcore, punk, or anything like that. This, to me, is black metal and no other genre. Yet, Liturgy's sound and visuals are not fully, rigidly black metal--there's just no other term available with which to compare them, because no other band sounds like Liturgy. It's why they're more famous than contemporaries who dwell in works of the past, in non-innovation and repetition of sound.

Liturgy represents growth, fury, defiance, and beauty--even hope. They're like a fine wine. They're like a crazy new friend who comes into your life. Sometimes they're a depiction of heaven--rare, wondrous, and breathtaking. They blend so much together so deftly, both within black metal confines, and breaking out of said confines, spilling over effortlessly. Black metal as a genre cannot hold the greatness that is Liturgy. They shine forth with a power none may restrain.

No other band sounds like Liturgy, so if nothing else, they're unique. That alone warrants further exploration.

So y'all know I love Zev Deans, and he of course has had his hands in some Liturgy videos, because he picks awesome bands with which to work. Here, watch some more of his stuff here at his website's music page, if you want. He's got a growing body of unique work, aided in large part by Ghost, one of my fave bands alive today.

Peep this video for "Returner," track 3 from Liturgy's 2011 album Aesthetica, directed by Deans. This'll give you and idea of how Liturgy started, which will lead into where they went.

So that's pretty black metal-heavy, right? But the religious and church and high-minded aspects are there. Aesthetica was Liturgy's second album; on 2015's The Ark Work, that religious aspect was heightened--the music alone exemplifies this. The visuals compliment the mood perfectly--the album art, and the way Ark's music videos look.

Liturgy definitely has a mind toward high heights, and they use concepts of God, angels, and an ever-expanding brightness as vessels of conveyance. It's nothing like what actual churchgoers would feel free to conjure. It took a backing away from religion and its ever-safe-tenets, to give us a real look at a possible God we do not understand, but could feel safe in the embrace of. It's about vulnerability. It's about accepting what is before you, and the brilliant warmth you feel when you realize it's not going to be anything but positive and enlightening. It's like the closest you can come to an acid trip without the acid.

This video for "Quetzacoatl," directed by Aujik, exemplifies this perfectly.

Two people, witnessing this swirling whirlwind of angels. Isn't it great? That the music is constantly going in unexpected directions amplifies the feeling of "this is new and amazing." You can't help but just fall into Liturgy's arms. You have no idea what to expect, but what they're giving you is beautiful.

A few days ago I listened to The Ark Work in its entirety, and I had this thought, near the middle-end of the album, where everything is really quiet, and solemn, and there's this wavering keyboard thing going, and the mood is really meditative, and accepting, and quieting, and it really made me feel at peace. It was like, a true peace. Not one that panders to our desires for sugar, it was a truly relaxing thing. It sounded religious too. Like a religion that wouldn't detest me. Like something I'd actually like to be a part of.

Then all of a sudden, the music blasts into this unbelievably positive and intense whirlwind of major-key, symphonic, fast-as-fuck black metal. But is it black metal at this point? There's nothing black about it. It's just Liturgy. It's a bright, shining future. I had this thought: "They're giving me heaven right now." They're just giving it away. It's recorded, it's there. I may consume it. It's a gorgeous depiction of heaven and it made me feel like I was floating, as I was standing there drying dishes. That it's not being played in huge cathedrals, but in homes and kitchens like mine, seems a waste.

Of course, Zev had to make more than just one Liturgy video. Peep this The Ark Work album trailer he directed, and feel your jaw drop at the sheer power of the visuals, combined with that shaking keyboard thing I mentioned above:

So okay, next watch this live video from 2015. I love the way this venue is set up. I want to be there, one of those kids walking out the door to smoke a cigarette; one of those kids watching the show; one of those kids playing the show. Liturgy is humble up there--not trying to wow you with theatrics, but with true musical innovation. The bassist and drummer are also hawt.

Here's the last thing, it's "Follow" from Ark, from 2015, played in a studio where you can hear everything perfectly. The bell guitar effect is so cool along with black metal rhythms. It's controlled chaos. The vocal processing is really cool too, I want to know how he does that live.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Soul Day

It's Soul Day here at Sound Revue, and to celebrate, we've hand-picked these excellent so nice videors for your. So, to enjoy. Help me. With giving a hand for these, my--pre-video explainiations. My explainies.

Megan says there's some douchey cover of this from someone like Rod Stewart--is she right? Yes. It's by Simply Red. Don't pay attention to that, listen to this one. I feel like black singers have to sing this song, I see a white guy singing it and I'm like, aah stealing the limelight from black folk again, are we? Harold and the blues sing it like I want to hear it, personally.

When I graduated from high school, I moved to a small town outside Philadelphia to work for a staging, lighting, and sound company, doing shows all over the East Coast, including one where Billy Paul played on a stage I helped build in a Philly neighborhood. And in the video below, from his heyday, he is the epitome of smooth.

My first show at that production company was for Kool and the Gang. So even though they're not soul necessarily, I'm a put them on here and you can enjoy. I had this song in my head today, and had to hear it.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

My band has shows + here are the bands w/which I'm playing

My personal pan pizza pet project Freeze is slated to play The Central Saloon today (Thurs 9/15), and The Lair (blue house next to Lo-Fi on Eastlake) on Saturday.

Two weeks ago, I played Black Zia Cantina--nice people working there, punk vibe, cheap drinks, New Mexico-themed, 10/10 would recommend--which was kind of like a practice run for me. My last show as Freeze was at Lo-Fi about six months ago. Since then, my wife and I changed jobs, summer flew by, and my kids started school. Last August, I suddenly had three shows lined up for September, and another way out in December. When it rains, it pours.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

New Ghostblood song: Eviscerama

Ghostblood just released a new song, "Eviscerama." This is some impressive, clean-sounding, dirty thrash and speed metal. Right up my alley. Full disclosure: I know these guys. However, that is not what made me post this song. I posted because it fukkin ripps.