Thirty years ago this week The Pixes dropped their début full-length album, Surfer Rosa (4AD/Rough Trade), and changed alternative rock eternally. The eccentric, genius-level talent in the band made for a lot of well-documented personality clashes between the members, but what was left when the shouting was over was undeniable. Although there were many alt-rock bands founded in the 80s that would have a lasting impact (See also: Joy Division, Husker Du and Sonic Youth for starters), the ascendance of the most infamous non-punk band from Boston that would go from playing smokey clubs on Landsdowne Street to opening for U2 and touring the world in a few short years cannot be understated.Continue reading
With their native mainland Western Europe falling under the spell of Belgian quintet Bliksem, their sophomore effort, Gruesome Masterpiece (Iron Will/Rough Trade) takes the rough and ready chugging metal sound of their debut and looks to expand, both musically and in terms of building a more international following.
Thrashing and flailing, ‘Crawling In The Dirt’ and ‘Kywas’ beckon, coyly curling a finger and inviting us to draw closer to an opening pair of swaggering, pounding, headbanging melodic thrash songs. Peggy Meeusen is a snarling asset, switching from throat savagery to melodic hooks in ‘Room Without A View’ and then vulnerable on ‘Mistress Of The Damned’. But, despite her barb and vigour, and the technical proficiency throughout, as the album progresses and the plat du jour is served, it becomes clear the majority of the album is mid-paced stodgy fodder.
While there’s nothing wrong with pub grub, Bliksem, slang for bastard or asshole, have little to establish themselves beyond being the sort of act you’d watch for a few songs at a festival, beer in hand, head nodding, thinking “Yeah, they’re alright” before wandering off to take in something more substantial, something more inviting, something less… meat and potatoes (with not enough gravy).
They do mix things up, and in ‘Morphine Dreams’ attempt a doomy, crashing nine minute epic, where, sadly ambition and execution, unlike dream and day, fail to unite. In our world of enthusings, ponderings and writings about metal marathons, usually calling a lengthy track “torturous” would be seen as an extremely positive attribute, and an achievement of an aim… in this case, it’s meant literally, as the album centrepiece drags monotonously on, boring you to death. Spiky ‘Twist The Knife’ hurtles in and attempts CPR with compressions that’d break your rib cage all Ripper era Judas Priest / Annihilator ground and pound, but going-nowhere ballad ‘Out Of The Darkness’ sees the last breath escape.
Meeusen’s voice aside, despite aptitude and, I’m sure, a love of all things melodic thrash, harder rock and heavy metal, there is little distinctive in the Bliksem wares. All in, despite promise, there are too many indistinct moments for Gruesome Masterpiece to be anything other than just A.N.Other decent album.
Ghost has announced “The Summoning II:Unholy/Unplugged” tour to support the their upcoming new album Meliora from Spinefarm/Loma Vista on August 21st. Performing unplugged in five cities, the group led by Papa Emeritus III will then host a record signing session.
Ghost The Summoning II: Unholy/Unplugged tour dates:
Aug 18: Silver Platters (SoDo Location) – Seattle, WA (7:00 PM)
Aug 20: Amoeba – Los Angeles, CA (6:00 PM)
Aug 21: ZIA (Camelback Location) – Phoenix, AZ (7:00 PM)
Aug 22: Sound Garden – Baltimore, MD (5:00 PM)
Aug 23: Rough Trade – Brooklyn, NY (2:00 PM)
02. From The Pinnacle To The Pit
05. He Is
06. Mummy Dust
08. Devil Church
10. Deus In Absentia