Instrumental music is an incredibly niche market, to say the least. For the vast majority of the music-listening population, instrumental music sounds incomplete and lacking that human touch in a way that only the human voice can provide. In the Metal genre in particular, guitar-led instrumental music can often come across as showing off how virtuosic the guitarist is without any care given to musical creation and taste in general. There are a few exceptions to this rule with Steve Vai’s Sex and Religion (Relativity) and Buckethead’s Electric Tears (Metastation) coming to mind. Continue reading
The thing that everyone always forgets about “Post-Rock” is that it was never intended to be a defined style of music. Essentially journalistic shorthand for “I don’t really know what this is, but they use guitars”, it was a useful semi-label for the otherwise unlabelable until someone decided that it was a genre defined by stroke-inducing levels of boredom and its use in a review became the Touch Of Death for all right-thinking people. Continue reading
The beauty to last weeks’ beast, the Ghost Cult album round-up is back for your vulgar delectation, and our final compilation of 2017 captures albums most Metal and most Melodic, shining a light on last-minute stocking fillers that St. Anne, rather than St Nick, would approve of… Continue reading
Ex Eye’s self-titled album (Relapse) is something extraordinarily different, so hold on to your hats and brace yourself! The soon-to-be-legendary group consists of renowned, experimental saxophonist Colin Stetson, Greg Fox on drums, Shahzad Ismaily on synths and Toby Summerfield on guitar and these dudes will literally blow your mind! Continue reading
For those of you who are unaware (and I dare say there will be a few), Davie Allan is a Californian guitarist probably best known for his work on a variety of biker movies in the 1960s. Taking the traditional surf guitar sound, he twisted it into something entirely different using the newly invented Fuzzbox. Allan’s fuzzed up guitar tracks have been used in many films over the years, most recently in Quentin Tarantino‘s Inglourious Basterds.
Joel Grind, on the other hand, comes from a completely different arena. His band Toxic Holocaust have been tearing up the Thrash scene since their inception in 1999. Their (or rather his, as Grind played all the instruments on the band’s first few releases himself) brand of Punk/Thrash relying more on creating sweaty, violent carnage in the moshpit rather than any kind of bizzaro Surf Rock atmosphere. Grind is no stranger to his music being used on soundtracks either though, having ‘Bitch’ from ‘Conjure and Command’ (Relapse) blasting out during a car chase in a Season 5 episode of Sons of Anarchy.
An entirely instrumental affair, this split four track EP (Relapse) consists of some seriously dirty hard rockin’ surf music with a greasy ’60s/early ’70s vibe. From the moment the motorbikes cease their revving at the beginning of Allan’s opening track ‘Recycled Too’ you are immediately thrust into a world of psychedelic, violent biker movies like Devil’s Angels, The Wild Angels or even Werewolves on Wheels where Hell’s Angels smoke weed, drop acid, have hairy, leathery sex, and beat up anyone who looks at them in a funny way. And all this happily continues with his second track ‘Buzz Saw Effect’.
Unsurprisingly, Grind’s contribution is somewhat heavier than Allan’s. ‘Peacekeeper’ kicks off his side of the disc enthusiastically, while second cut ‘The Invisible Landscape’ is driven by a more traditional clean surf guitar tone. Also, being instrumental tracks only, people who aren’t familiar with, or don’t usually care for, Grind’s Dalek-receiving-a-proctological-exam vocals don’t have to worry here.
If Rob Zombie directed a movie about Hell’s Angels on acid fighting a gang of machine gun wielding Go-Go dancers on the back roads of Hell, then this would absolutely be the soundtrack.
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In the world of post-rock, there are a lot of pretenders to the throne, but few worthy of the crown. The holy trinity of the genre in the USA falls to Russian Circles, Junius and, Pelican. As they have once before in their career, Pelican have teamed up with Allan Epley (Shiner, The Life And Times) to add his vocal prowess to their new EP, The Cliff (Southern Lord). On paper what looks like just a good match, becomes an exquisite exercise in songcraft, self-restraint, and true talent.
The main track ‘The Cliff’ has the best of Pelican’s breed working for it. Quietly epic, building slowly and entrancing you with each cadence. Hypnotic drums fall and rise in time with your breathing and brain patterns. Beating out a compelling rhythm that beckons to you follow like a spirit. The layers of guitars, a Pelican trademark, spinning motifs and head crushing waves. Added to this expert mix is Epley’s vocals which as a much an instrument as the band. If you are unfamiliar with his work, Epley has a voice not unlike a young Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees/Mad Season). Somber, but full of gravitas and character, Epley’s powerful tones weigh so heavy, it contrasts beautifully with the sunny (for a Pelican song) final stanza.
The other original song on the EP has been termed a leftover from Forever Becoming (also Southern Lord). However, it’s a track so deep and triumphant, I kind of wished they saved it for their next album. It’s like the soundtrack to sports movie, but only for the final montage part. The other two tracks are remixes of ‘The Cliff’. One remix, by Mr. Justin K. Brodrick (Godflesh/JK Flesh) is sans vocals, but enhances the dream-scape aspect of the guitars with synths and adds a heavier bass mix. Their is also an echo effect on the drums that give a surreal sleep-walking feeling to the listener as well. It definitely takes a killer track to the next level. The other track is remixed by Palms (Aaron Harris & Bryant Clifford Meyer). This track revs up the beat quotient, and adds more a dynamic flow than before. The vocals have a great delay loop on them, and some sick backwards guitars too. This release (digital or vinyl) should be enough of a morsel to tide you over until the next full-length.
Right off the bat, let’s be honest with each other. Everyone likes honesty right? This is a complete re-write of the review. Whilst that isn’t completely unusual, this is a complete re-write in the fact that the sway from negative perception towards positive has been massive. This is because Alright The Captain with Contact Fix (Independent/self-released) have created an album so bonkers and eclectic at points the only way to give it any real justice is to ensure you give it proper time.
The album is wholly instrumental, and like with so many other bands that have chosen to go down this unconventional route, the music simply HAS to be good. There’s no hiding behind the growls and screams of a big personality front man, instead there needs to be enough to grab your attention and maintain it – and one thing is for sure they’ve done this very well. The album is seven tracks long, and runs for just under 30 minutes. This compact running length encourages numerous playbacks, as you begin to listen intently for some of the smaller intricacies contained within each track. If you buy into the ‘Math-Rock’ subgenre title, then this is Math-Rock at its best. We’ve got synths galore amongst a combination between punk fuelled riffs and heavier moments.
At the absolute core of this music though is an unbelievable jazz influence. The drums in particular are testament to this, with both the opening track ‘Toaster Mouse’ and ‘French For Gnome’ the best examples. But this jazz influence isn’t solely contained within the music itself, but more the whole idea behind the album. You never really know which direction it is going to go, it sounds like an impromptu jam but it is actually a very well calculated beast. To be able to create this kind of impression is a skill in itself.