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Look, it’s as cold as a witch’s tit, and I’m not talking about the variety that likes PVC. With that in mind, here are seven attempts by the underground Metal scene to raise the temperature. As it were. (Come on, give me that one. I have an A-Level in English, and everything). Continue reading
The dizzying heights of pretentiousness. Oh, that’s what I decided to rename this split EP between legendary Japanese artists Boris and Merzbow. Some who may read this review will probably consider me an asshole for not caring about this collaboration. Fine by me. See this whole affair lasts just shy of 150 minutes. Two hours, 29 minutes and 25 seconds to be exact. So I had a fair amount of time to daydream and check e-mails during Gensho’s (Relapse) running time.
And I can already hear some of you dismounting from the high horse to let me know that both the Boris and Merzbow LPs are meant to be played simultaneously. Well thanks for enlightening me. That only makes this slog last 74 minutes, which is about 20 minutes longer than it should be.
Maybe I should be commending both acts for deciding to take the path less traveled on. But the more I think about Gensho’s gimmick, the more annoyed I get. By sticking with the simultaneous premise you limit how fans can consume the music. I can’t truly listen to it in the car, or through my headphones while at work, now can I? And if I cue it up at home I better have two sets of turntables.
There are some non-drowsy moments. During ‘Rainbow’ I was digging the fuzzed waves of guitar distortion that accompanied the whispery vocals. Boris’ ‘Sometimes’ also plays around with this soft/harsh dynamic with results that are sort of like a drum less Radiohead B-Side.
From what I gather the concept for Gensho was born after a joint gig between Boris and Merzbow. See, that wouldn’t be as frustrating as it’s a one off event that most in attendance likely enjoyed, but don’t ask of me to pay for as an experience that doesn’t translate to listening at home. You remember Metallica and Lou Reed’s Lulu? Gensho doesn’t stray far from that level of self-indulgence.
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If anyone reading this is still in their first few years of listening to Extreme Metal, allow me to give you a piece of advice, as unpatronisingly as I can manage – don’t believe all that nonsense it not being ruled by fashion. Next to actual mainstream music Extreme Metal may seem joyous and unrestrained, but once you’ve been around the block a few times you realise that it’s as bound up in the tidal flow of trend and counter-trend as everything else. I mention this because blending your Metal/Hardcore with Noise, it would seem, is IN.
Earlier this year I reviewed the latest album from AEvangelist and talked about how they played their Noise and Death Metal elements simultaneously – this collaboration between Full Of Hell and Japanese Noise Royalty Masami Akita takes a similar approach for most of its eleven tracks, Merzbow’s caustic, dissonant Noise coexisting with FOH’s dirty, rumbling Grindcore. The Noise is much lower in the mix than with AEvangelist, though, adding depth and texture to the Grind rather than competing with. It works well, though doesn’t really explore any territory not already mapped out by Pig Destroyer or Narcosis, and it seems almost disrespectful to hear an artist of Akita’s influence essentially joining someone else’s band as a “Noise guy”.
The balance does shift, however – some tracks are dominated by Merzbow’s sinister, chittering Noise supported by distant feedback and distorted Grind screams, while others (album stand-out High Fells the most notable example) put both elements on a more even footing to deliver something more distinctive and representative of both artists. It’s in these moments when the true value of a collaboration – something new forged from the qualities and strengths of both parties – becomes clear, and it’s a shame that it’s a relatively small part of the album.
I feel as though I’ve been fairly negative here, so I’d like to take a step back – Full Of Hell & Merzbow (Profound Lore) is a savagely efficient, well-structured album that achieves exactly what it sets out to do and doesn’t waste a second of its running time, and is not going to disappoint anyone who finds the idea of Grind and Noise cohabiting an interesting one. Criticising for what it isn’t is perhaps unfair, but with a name like Merzbow on the cover, it’s perhaps not too unreasonable to have hoped that more risks would be taken.
Noise rock; a nice, lazy generalisation of a group of bands you can’t be arsed to describe properly. Christ, the word noise gives zero indication as to what you’re about to hear. Is it Merzbow style, all looped electronica and harsh distortion, or maybe something akin to Pissed Jeans, blurring the lines as they crash into the hardcore world? Even rock doesn’t help because you’re talking 60 years of history and I just don’t have the wordcount for that sort of nonsense. Continue reading