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.