As strange as it may seem, 1988 stands as the only year where each member of the “The Big Four” all released new studio albums. Go on, check if you want. I’ll wait.
With Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth, and Metallica having pulled significantly away from the rest of the pack with those 1988 releases, the beginning of the ’90s gave each of them the chance to reaffirm their place at the top of the thrash metal food chain. Along with the likes of Testament, Exodus, and Kreator, 1990 opened the new decade in a blaze of glory while also becoming arguably the last truly great year for the genre.Continue reading →
After a gap of six years, legendary shock rocker Alice Cooper is back once again to give today’s youngsters a gentle, but purposeful reminder of how it’s done. At the age of 69, just a few months shy of joining the ranks of the septuagenarians, Alice is clearly in no mood to relax Continue reading →
In an age where physical releases are going the way of the dodo thanks to the all-conquering march of the digital epoch, it’s heartening when new bands still care enough about their fans to not only produce something that buyers can hold in their hands, but also to put real effort into making each copy a thing of beauty. The self-titled debut album from Cleveland, Ohio based Hiram-Maxim comes complete with a 100-page art book courtesy of local graphic designer Ron Kretsch, and his disturbing black and white images are the perfect accompaniment to the thirty-seven minutes of sprawling, oppressive psychedelia that comprise this debut release.
Spread over four tracks, the music on Hiram-Maxim (Aqualamb) sounds mostly improvised, giving it a genuine feeling of unease as the four band members craft sounds that could be the soundtrack to undergoing a particularly intense k-hole whilst locked in a Salvador Dali museum overnight. The loose, free-form approach often gives way to violent bursts of noise such as on the brutally harsh ‘Can’t Stop’ which sounds as if Throbbing Gristle had been force-fed mescaline. Elsewhere, the tortuous waltz of album opener ‘Visceral’ at least makes an attempt to appear normal in a kind of Sonic Youth-gone-wrong manner while the sparse post-rock melodies and languid singing of ‘One’ fight for prominence with buzzing drone and dissonant drumbeats to create an atmosphere of bemused melancholy.
Offering so much more than your average meat-and-potatoes heavy band, Hiram-Maxim may not have a clue where their compositions are going, but the terrain they visit on the way is freaky and challenging in the way all good psych should be, and crucially never feels pretentious. If you fancy a ramble into dissonant soundscapes where anything could happen then give this impressive first effort a spin and tune your mind into something very strange yet oddly nourishing.