CONCERT REVIEW: Dropkick Murphys – Jim Lindberg – The Rumjacks – Jesse Ahern Live at Roadrunner


St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Boston. We know this song and dance already, but let’s recap… green beer, parade, inevitable bar fights, Dropkick Murphys show. But this time, there’s a twist to this weekend. The week leading up to the show also marked the grand opening of Boston’s newest concert venue, Roadrunner! Now, truth be told, I had to Google what the hell Roadrunner even was because I had never heard of it before. But let me tell you something… this may be my new favorite venue in the city.

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REVIEWS ROUND-UP: ft. Emma Ruth Rundle, Emily Jane White, Eight Bells, and Hangman’s Chair


Emma Ruth Rundle – Orpheus Looking Back (Sargent House)

On the back of 2021’s exceptional Engine of Hell release, melancholic song-writer extraordinaire Emma Ruth Rundle cannot resist but cast one last longing look over her shoulder at the material prepared, written, and relating to that period, which included the break-up of a significant relationship – the subject of her previous, delicate, powerful full-length.

Consisting of three songs, each different in sound and style that didn’t completely fit with the dynamic of Engine…, Orpheus Looking Back nonetheless brings beauty in its wistful minimalism. ‘Gilded Cage’ is a strummed acoustic piece, ‘Pump Organ Song’ a spontaneous creation during the recording sessions on, well, a pump organ, while ‘St. Non’ is a breathy, guitar / vocal reflection.

While the format is less immersive than the previous full-length, Orpheus… is further example of Rundle’s class as a song-writer and ability to transfer emotion to bare music.

7 / 10

 

Emily Jane White – Alluvion (Talitres)

Taking a fuller approach to production, singer-songwriter Emily Jane White is reflecting on loss, grief and the impact of recent events on Alluvion, her downbeat and reflective sixth album.

Coaxing a gothic beauty to the underlying synths and minimal instrumentation, there is something of a gentle electro-pop feel to tracks like ‘Show Me The War’ and ‘The Hands Above Me’, a song that introduces subtle guitar peals and swells, and a hint of folk and shoegaze – as does the cello-backed ‘I Spent The Years Frozen’. ‘Mute Swan’ mixes in a repetitive eighties synth refrain with a comforting and underplayed vocal, and the standout track ‘Heresy’ is an ominous and effective duet with Darkher, with sparse chants recalling elements of Chelsea Wolfe.

There is plenty of scope in this reflective offering, as White’s intimate and open tones sit softly over the lush arrangements of multi-instrumentalist Anton Patzner and offer not just escape but hope amongst the darkness of our current situations.

 

7 / 10

 

Eight Bells – Legacy of Ruin (Prophecy Productions)

Patience is indeed a virtue, and good things doth verily come to those who are prepared to take their time dwelling in anticipation. It may be six years (and an overhaul of the supporting cast) since the last Eight Bells release, but the progressive, introspective vehicle of Melynda Jackson (guitars, vocals) is all the better for it. The addition of Cormorant’s Matt Solis works as a perfect counterfoil, either with harsh blackened backing vocals, or when chanting in unison with Jackson’s haunting, melancholic intonations. Solis also pops up in the spaces with as some interesting meandering bass runs, working intuitively with the atmospheres that Jackson creates.

This request for patience bears out in the individual tracks, too. Opener ‘Destroyer’ walks us through hints of progressive metal, psych, sludgy tones and touches of blackened cascades, before using a sparse guitar refrain to take us home and into the doomier, eleven-minute sprawl of ‘The Well’. Dynamically as a whole, this is further played out with the mid-album conjoined dreamy pair of ‘Torpid Dreamer’ and ‘Nadir’ combining and paying off; the former dark and doomed, with the latter bringing us through a moment of reflection to peace with its integrated dual vocals, at times reminiscent of a heavier Fleet Foxes – a feeling which is continued into ‘The Crone’, before the blackened elements of the Portland natives arsenal are unleashed.

And all of this is with the hulking presence of standout track, and album closer, ‘Premonition’ still to come; a summation of all the previous parts. Tremolo refrains scythe under a merging of howls and chants, before things settle, breathe and expand into a stately, melancholic close to moody, yet welcoming album.

8 / 10

 

Hangman’s Chair – A Loner (Nuclear Blast)

Tags and sub-genres, when misapplied, can be quite detrimental at times to bands. Not only are they misleading and mis-set expectations but can lead to people who would embrace and celebrate an act missing out on something that would be a perfect addition to their collection. France’s Hangman’s Chair have been labelled as Stoner and / or Doom (which in itself has a couple of different applications), yet there is nothing Desert or Weed-based here, as their sixth album A Loner continues the evolution and progression of their sound, and is a gorgeously reflective album of downbeat, shimmering Downer alternative rock, laced with moments of shoegaze.

Where there is anything sludgy, it is in some of the Stephen Carpenter / Deftones style looping, rolling low-slung supporting guitar moments, such as on ‘Cold and Distant’, a track that demonstrates Hangman’s Chair have a neat line in understated chorus, too, as does ‘Second Wind’. Moreover songs such as with the aptly titled ‘Supreme’, underline a Type O Negative influence that runs throughout, building in Life of Agony melodies and moments. Cédric Toufouti deals in layered vocals and lines of harmonies to support a voice that sits perfectly floating on top of the cinematic music, at times (‘Who Wants To Die Old’) reminiscent of Kristoffer Rygg.

 

Atmospheric and considered, the pairing of ‘Pariah & The Plague’ – a beautiful, layered non-vocal piece of music with tinkling guitar effects and brooding electronics – and the melancholy title track sum up the strengths of this unsung album.

8 / 10

 

STEVE TOVEY

 


ALBUM REVIEW: Sylvaine – Nova


 

Sylvaine is the pseudonym of Norway’s Kathrine Shepard, a classically trained composer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. Since 2014 Shepard has been releasing albums as Sylvaine, of which Nova (Season of Mist) will be the fourth (not counting a 2020 split with Unreqvited).

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ALBUM REVIEW: Dashboard Confessional – All The Truth That I Can Tell


A contemplative, but serene gaze out of the window, as a hazy half-smile plays on the corner of the lips. Half a memory aligns with the story that is playing in the ears, but it has its own shade and hue, something the same but different, but definitely and absolutely connected. ‘Me and Mine’, the second song in a breathy, intimate, quietly sung middle of the album causes pause to reflect. A simple song about children, how being a parent as your kids grow up can be, it’s about closeness… And it is genuine.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Gregor Barnett – Don’t Go Throwing Roses In My Grave


They say (well, Turisas did, which is probably as unlikely a band to reference in the introduction to a review of a solo album by the vocalist from The Menzingers as you’re going to get) no good story ever starts with drinking tea. But, maybe, just maybe this one does. For the journey of Don’t Go Throwing Roses In My Grave (Epitaph Records), the first solo album from Gregor Barnett begins with the premature closing of one adventure and the unplanned void of returning home to… no plans. Just peace, quiet, solitude, and, well, whatever hot drink of choice our man from Pennsylvania chooses to imbibe the morning.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Matt Pike – Pike vs The Automaton


Absolute legend of stoner doom and sludge metal, Matt Pike has lifted off with his first solo album entitled Pike vs The Automaton (MNRK Heavy). Being known well for his work in Sleep and High on Fire, Matt takes all of the things he loves from those projects as well as other influences to put together a fantastic psychedelic rock album. Groovy, heavy, and really something for everyone can be found here to be enjoyed.

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Amigo The Devil to Livestream His Sold Out Full Band Performance Tomorrow in Los Angeles


Amigo The Devil a.k.a. Danny Kiranos returned to his typical massive touring schedule in 2021 with a 50+ date tour across America with Tejon Street Corner Thieves, dubbed “The Bingo Hall” and other appearances such as Riot Fest! He will return to the stage Saturday, February 5th for special global livestream event dubbed, “Murder at the Belasco”. The event will mark the first time Amigo has ever played with a full live band in concert. The show is sold out but tickets are on sale for the livestream at the link below. His last album Born Against was released on his own Liars Club label and was one of Ghost Cult’s Top 75 albums of 2021.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Emma Ruth Rundle – Engine Of Hell


Emma Ruth Rundle seems to have become an artist with a licence to shift around stylistically as much as she wants while still maintaining, and continuing to build, her devoted fanbase. Last year’s revered collaboration with ThouMay Our Chambers Be Full (Sacred Bones) was dense, heavy, aggressive and complex. Whilst everything Rundle turns her hand to shares a certain delicate and fragile emotional openness, Engine Of Hell (Sargent House) in most other senses explores the opposite end of the Emma Ruth Rundle sonic spectrum.

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ALBUM REVIEW: NOÊTA – Elm


 

NOÊTA is a duo based between Norway and Sweden and consisting of multi-instrumentalists Ândris and Êlea, the latter of whom also provides vocals. Their music is an intriguing hybrid of dark folk and dark ambient styles, with just a hint of black metal seeping in around the edges.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Amigo The Devil – Born Against


There are many ways unironically describe the last year or so of human life in a manner we can all appreciate. A lot of us use sarcasm and deflection as a means to cope, and it shows. We may become numb to our own reality based on a lot of loss and sadness, and the mass psychotic break the world seems to have suffered. If you are here reading these words, hopefully,you are looking for an escape from the mundane in some good music. Music is here for you, both as a hug to say “it’s gonna be OK,” but also to commiserate with someone who has been there through the muck, just like you. Danny Kiranos, a.k.a. Amigo The Devil has found a foothold in our musical diet, a needed figure to tell the unpleasant truths about that muck and mire we need to learn from, or just relate to. He asks us to look with him and at ourselves too. He does this to a bold effect on his new album, Born Against (Liar’s Club Records, Regime Music Group).

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