Despite third album Paradise Gallows (Relapse Records) establishing Virginian quintet Inter Arma as one of the World’s premier exponents of Harsh Progressive Metal, it’s nevertheless arguable as to whether or not the band remains in the shadow of 2014’s staggering opus The Cavern (Relapse Records). Fourth full-length Sulphur English (also Relapse), surely their most brutal yet, will lay such doubts to rest. Continue reading
The haunting Goddess that is Emma Ruth Rundle just doesn’t know when to stop. Since releasing an EP as a founder member of The Nocturnes in 2008, she has released a product every year with Post-Rockers Red Sparowes and under her own guises. Oft mentioned in glowing terms alongside such powerful performers as PJ Harvey, Tori Amos and Lana Del Rey, On Dark Horses (Sargent House) is the LA chanteuse’s fourth album under her own name, and is again filled with deep, shuddering emotion. Continue reading
For those unaware of the sinister, weird magnificence of David Lynch, his films and series are usually accompanied by equally strange yet wonderful music: edgy, dark, seductive, indulging the seedy side of Americana. Young Widows frontman Evan Patterson’s solo project Jaye Jayle fits this bill perfectly, its Dark Country-style jangle carrying a profound melancholy, and with sophomore album No Trail And Other Unholy Paths (Sargent House) being produced by Lynch’s musical adviser Dean Hurley, there’s an added resonance here. Continue reading
Devin Townsend can be a difficult guy to nail down musically. Whether it’s coffee-themed prog-metal concept albums, stadium rock or Strapping Young Lad levels of brutality, there are few styles the man hasn’t touched upon. And now he can add Country music to his repertoire.
The man’s latest album, released under the Casualties of Cool moniker with Ché Aimee Dorval, is the result of a massively successful campaign on Pledge Music. The success of the campaign is testament to the Canadian oddball’s enduring popularity as even in the bio he explicitly states, “It’s not a metal album, nor is it meant to be a statement about my interest in metal…This is something different.”
It’s rarely worth looking at Devin’s solo work in any sort of grand context; previous Devin Townsend Project albums were all radically different from each other, and the bombast of 2012’s uplifting Epicloud was as different to them as it is to this. But there are traces of Ki‘s minimalist songwriting and Ghost’s (all HevyDevy/InsideOut) almost ambient mood music to be found here.
Casualties of Cool opens with ‘Daddy’, a dark country tune, and from there we’re taken on a quiet acoustic journey. Everything is very understated; some parts are quietly uplifting, some more eerily haunting, and the whole thing is full of ambient atmosphere. Dorval (previously heard on the DTP’s Ki) and her deep, smokey voice takes centre stage for most of the album, with Devin providing backup.
With the exception of the epic ‘The Bridge’, it’s hard to pick out any standout songs. They flow into one another quietly without any big fanfare. Whether it’s the jazzy saxophone of to ‘Moon’ or the dark melancholy of ‘The Field’, the quality rarely drops but the quiet, introspective nature means CoC requires multiple listens. What may be little more than ambient whispers on the first or second listen can turn out to be actually a worthwhile bit of music.
It doesn’t have the same kind of highs of previous albums, but Casualties of Cool is an intriguing experiment from a man who excels in making left-field music. Go in expecting massive a prog-metal exercise will only lead to disappointment, but having an open mind will result in a rewarding if largely uneventful experience.
Demons is the new pet project of Zach Gehring, guitarist for the Virginia based Rock band Mae. With Great Dismal (Spartan), Gehring has experimented with styles that he could not fit into Mae, and the results are phenomenal. Gehring really benefits from the experience of writing and producing records, and the sound quality and composition on this EP are therefore really good. The styles vary a bit, but the grungy guitar sounds and melancholic vocals are omnipresent.
Gehring’s voice is sometimes a little Steven Wilson, and sometimes, especially in ‘Lenora Slaughter’, a lot like Marilyn Manson but with vocal lines more like Corey Taylor. Backing vocals are often just a little off, but not enough to make it annoying. In fact, it ends up being a really cool stylistic effect. The vocal lines are often smooth and mellow over more energetic music, as in opening number ‘There Is No Reward’. This is a very hard rocking song, with nice grungy guitar lines, which could have goon on for a little longer in my opinion.
Gehring shows off his musical versatility on his album, as the laid-back and almost Dark Country feel of ‘Godless Girls’ contrasts with the earlier hard rock. It felt like it could have almost been a song by The Hold Steady. On the surface it seems like a simple song, but the timing of the different elements makes it much more, and when you get to the final chorus it seems to somehow go straight through you.
‘Radical Cure’ is in yet another style, and it is an excellent loud and aggressive song. The riffs and mix are once again really good, and the contrast between the vocals and music just adds so much tension in some places, while they complement each other perfectly in others.
The final song is ‘Quietly Waiting’, and it is worth waiting for. I fell in love with it from the very first notes. The acoustic guitar with clean vocals and piano is so melancholic, so beautiful and touching. This is the longest song on this release, and the popularity of artists like Wino and Conny Ochs indicate that Gehring could easily release an entire album in this style. I would happily listen to an hour of this. My only criticism for this song is that it doesn’t end on a closing tone, but I am willing to forgive that.
All in all, this is an amazing début, and I really enjoyed the experience. It touches on a number of different genres and artists, and excels in each style. Give it a listen, it’s worth it.
The countdown to the Official Ghost Cult Magazine Album of the Year for 2014 continues. Please consume and enjoy the results of our 2014 Writers’ Poll. We hope it will introduce you to some of the incredible works of art you may have missed that we have had the immense pleasure of listening to and writing about this year.
In our third installment we bring you albums 30 through to 21
“Casualties of Cool is an intriguing experiment from a man who excels in making left-field music. Go in expecting massive a prog-metal exercise will only lead to disappointment, but having an open mind will result in a rewarding experience” DAN SWINHOE 8/10 Full review here
29. ANATHEMA – Distant Satellites (KScope)
“One of our world’s most understated bands, despite the plaudits they get, Anathema have once again showcased their knack for penning both forward thinking and emotionally driven music which oozes real human character and sentimentality”. CHRIS TIPPELL 9/10 Full review here
“When we look back on this part of their career, we will likely understand that these are less like regular EPs that other bands release, and much more like a mini-opus, in pieces. Down clearly realizes their collective vision, no matter who is in the lineup, every time”. KEITH ‘KEEFY’ CHACHKES 9.5/10 Full review here
“Sadistic and aggressive with endless moments of bleak reflection Splinters is a leviathan unleashed upon unsuspecting listeners and a release surely destined to grace many year end lists” ROSS BAKER 9/10 Full review here
Like a massive-antlered stag glimpsed amidst a wintry landscape, breathtaking, elusive and hard to pin down, The Serpent and the Sphere looks set to continue their elegant and ever-evolving legacy JAMES CONWAY 9/10 Full review here
25. THOU – Heathen (Gilead Media)
“A storm manifest as a piece of music, as devastating as it is awe-inspiring, Heathen is varied and compelling for the entire runtime”. TOM SAUNDERS 9/10 Full review here
“Sharp, buzzing riffs and symphonic keys, strength and brutality amongst moments of pomp and beauty, bloody entertaining and another show of form” PAUL QUINN 8.5/10 Full review here
23. PYRRHON – The Mother of Virtues (Relapse)
“The Mother Of Virtues doesn’t just challenge what is “extreme”, but calls into question whether some of what is produced is actually even music. Completely and utterly impenetrable, and exceptional with it”. STEVE TOVEY 9.5/10 Full review here
“Eyehategod continue to age like a good whiskey, seeming to improve as time goes by, but by no means losing their sting”. CHRIS TIPPELL 9/10 Full review here
21. ALCEST – Shelter (Prophecy)
“Shedding the last vestiges of metal, let-alone any lingering black metal leanings, a captivating and stunning piece of music poured straight from the heart”. JAMES CONWAY 9/10 Full review here
Ghost Cult Magazine Albums of the Year: 50-41
Ghost Cult Magazine Albums of the Year: 40-31