Graveyard- Innocence And Decadence


graveyard innocence and decadence album cover

Over the course of a few albums (this one being the latest and fourth), Sweden’s Graveyard have both bypassed and embraced the “retro” tagline they have been lumped with from day one. Never proving nor looking to be a musically revolutionary band, they wear their influences firmly on their sleeves with their brand of familiar and instantaneous blues-rock. At the same time they are more than just a nostalgia act as Innocence And Decadence (Nuclear Blast) shows, they have some individuality of their own.

On the face of it this may prove straight- forward blues-rock which sticks to a recognisable formula (in a positive sense), but scratch deeper this proves a moodier and darker effort than in previous. Innocence And Decadencesees further exploration of their psychedelic and stoner influences alongside moments of pure melancholy next to some upbeat moments. Album opener ‘Magnetic Shunk’ begins with a slow, stoner crawl which proves the album’s only lapse before half way it picks up in to a more confident and catchy strut. The likes of ‘Exit 97’ and ‘Too Much Is Not Enough’ are slower numbers which encapsulate the bleaker side of blues, whilst ‘Hard-Headed’ begins with a brief, but destabilising fuzz of feedback which invokes some of their heavier peers.

All the while this sounds instantly recognisable as their own and is very catchy and immediate throughout. A significant improvement on the previous Lights Out (Nuclear Blast). It feels much more confident in exploring their further influences whilst not deviating too far from their sound, and most importantly it never falters in quality throughout (bar from the slight misstep at the off). As much as they are proud of their classic influences, the want to seek new styles sees them as so much more than a retro band.

7.0/10

CHRIS TIPPELL


Jucifer – District of Dystopia


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Some albums are meant for mass appeal. And then there are some albums that sound like they were created to disperse the entire population as far away from it as humanly possible. District of Dystopia (Nomadic Fortress), the new album – their seventh – from the two piece Sludge/Drone monoliths that are Jucifer, is certainly an album that falls into the latter part.

With its constant barrage of impenetrable mix of sludge and what seems to be the sound of the Elder God’s on a hungover morning, Jucifer have created an experience that is likewise punishing and oddly satisfying at the same time. Sure it might sound like the apocalypse put through several Marshall stacks, but it’s engaging and never strayed from my attention the whole time it was on, and is still an album that I can recall days and weeks after first listening to it.
Overall, although the NOLA tinged sludgy vibes and the sheer sonic weight brought on by these two bringers of despair, guitarist/vocalist Gazelle Amber Valentine and her husband, drummer Edgar Livengood, is something that must at least be admired if not necessarily enjoyed.

If the sound of the Armageddon coming at you in the form of feedback sounds good to you give this a blast, you will not regret it.
8.0/10

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DAN O’BRIEN


Venowl – Patterns Of Failure


Venowl album cover

 

Venowl must hate journalists. It’s the only explanation – why else would they put out music simultaneously this compelling and this hard to positively describe, if not to frustrate the people whose job it is to do exactly that. I really want you to know how great Patterns Of Failure (self-released) is, but I have no idea how to put it across in words. Those devious bastards.

 

Starting with the crudest genre-labels then, the three long tracks on Patterns Of Failure essay an abstract, deconstructed form of Sludge/Doom which borders on outright Noise. Feedback-drenched guitars, drums and piercing shrieked vocals are the core musical building blocks, but how they are deployed is unusual even within their niche genre. Rather than mashed together into a sprawling whole as you might expect, each track follows its own discrete journey from beginning to end, moving through often very intricate shapes while retaining the same punishing tempo and pitch-black tone.

Time, then, for Lazy Journalism trick #2 – comparisons. There are a fair few bands that can be meaningfully name-dropped here, but none are a perfect match; Wormphlegm playing Ehnahre songs, or Grave Upheaval watching snuff movies at Khanate’s house with a crate of ketamine? Sabazius if they squeezed all eleven hours of Descent Of Man into fifty-five minutes?

 

The very best Noise music, I was told once by a fan of the genre, is that which sounds entirely structured in its chaos – creating the impression not of pure randomness but of an order which is too arcane for the listener to easily engage with, but yet is clearly there. That’s perhaps the greatest quality of Patterns Of Failure, along with the fact that something is always “happening” in the music. It would be too easy for an album like this to sit on its hands recycling empty feedback and looking smug, but there’s a real depth to what Venowl achieve here – a depth which captivates even as it frustrates the ability to describe it.

 

Quite simply – every other tactic having failed – Patterns Of Failure is one of the most distinctively horrible things you’ll hear all year.

Venowl band

9.0/10.0

 

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RICHIE H-R