ALBUM REVIEW: MJ Guider – Sour Cherry Bell

Sour Cherry Bell (Kranky) is the second full-length release from New Orleans-based artist Melissa Guion, who releases music under the moniker MJ Guider. It primarily deals in atmosphere. Guion uses heavily processed electronic textures, often drenched in thick treacle-like reverb, to create moody and evocative soundscapes. There are synthetic drum sounds, but this is certainly not dance music. The emotion-laden washy chord sequences recall the 1980s “Gothic” music and perhaps the “shoegaze” that followed in its footsteps, but this is music that doesn’t fit neatly into any category. Many of the sound-worlds have a lush warmth which lends them a meditative quality, but there is also an unsettling element of tension, as though dissonance and harmony are in competition with each other. Guion’s voice is tender and graceful and with it, she weaves flowing melodies. But the voice is often intentionally distant – buried in the mix and concealed by long reverb tails. It feels as though Guion has intentionally engineered a situation where opposing elements battle it out for dominance. These songs could have been presented in a radio-friendly indie package, but instead, the melodies and words only just lift their heads above the walls of noise that encase them. It takes audacity and boldness to attempt this sort of approach which flouts so many of the accepted rules of composition and music production. It seems that Guion was pushing the boundaries of her creativity and her tools: “I was curious to see how far I could go with them, even if that meant reaching the ends of their capacity to do what I wanted.” Continue reading

Deftones’ Career-Defining Album “White Pony” Turns 20

Success has a way of messing with a good band. First world problems compared to the millions of bands that never make it, sure. However, so often when an emerging band that has fast become a genre leader, big corporate record labels can foul up the flow. This was almost the case of White Pony by Deftones, and the case where the hype was lived up to by pencil pushers, bean counters, and greed almost wrecked the game. White Pony is the band’s pivotal third album, where they built off the stylistic changes that came in with Around The Fur (Maverick) and pushed their sound further than before. In the process, they severed themselves far from the Nu-Metal wave that was exploding at the time and firmly created a new camp of “Deftones Music” as a category. That is, until, the label got in their business later on. Continue reading

BlackLab Shared New Video for ‘Insanity’, New Album Due Out this Spring

Witchy Japanese Doom band BlackLab will release a new album this spring, Abyss, due out May 8th via New Heavy Sounds. You can catch them at their first show ever outside of Japan at Desertfest London! The group has shared a new video for their new single ‘Insanity’, and you can watch it right now!

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ALBUM REVIEW: Sleep Token – Sundowning

The advent of Sundowning (Spinefarm Records), the debut album from London-based shoegazer Sleep Token, goes back over a year: so its release, ahead of a major US tour, has seen a level of furore largely unknown in Metal circles. Hiding identity under a cloak a la Ghost, there’s an added mystique here from an embracing of spiritual and somnolent values (the album’s title is the term given to the daily crash of dementia, for example), while melody is to the fore of the core sound. Continue reading

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Damnation Festival 2019: Live at Leeds University

When Axl Rose waxed romantically about cold November rain in back in 1992, he clearly wasn’t singing about Leeds on a Saturday morning. A cold, depressing day darkened by oppressive black clouds showering their misery relentlessly from above, there is nothing romantic about Leeds city centre. However, above the sound of rain pelting against umbrella canopies, and cars splashing through ankle-high lakes of dirty water, there is hope. Somewhere out there is Damnation Festival. Continue reading

ALBUM REVIEW: Alcest – Spiritual Instinct

Imagine yourself about to jump into an oblivion of feelings, you do not know what to expect, but you feel thrilled because you know that you’re going to enjoy it and that you’re ready for the trip. That is what the new Alcest album, Spiritual Instinct (Nuclear Blast Records) brings to the table from the first track up to the last. I have to admit that I have never really paid any attention to the French masters of post-Black Metal, even a lot of people of my close circle loves them. For some reason, I didn’t want to pay attention and, by God, how wrong I was!

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REVIEW: Rivers of Nihil – Black Crown Initiate, MØL, Orbit Culture Live at Mama Roux’s

With a lengthy and excitable queue having already formed well before the 7 pm opening time, you can already tell heading to Birmingham on a typically drizzly September evening is going to be well worth the effort. After disappearing for a few words with Rivers of Nihil drummer Jared Klein, I arrive back into the previously empty venue to find it heaving with activity. The bar area is already packed, beer flows freely and merchandise is being handed over at an impressive rate. Continue reading

Portrayal of Guilt and Soft Kill Release a Split 7 inch Record

Two of the greatest bands in the underground in 2019 are Portrayal of Guilt and Soft Kill. The two groups just released a split 7 ”, via Closed Casket Activities. Portrayal of Guilt just released their new album Suffering is a Gift just last week! Purchase and stream the release right now via Bandcamp! Continue reading

We Never Learned To Live – The Sleepwalk Transmissions 

Much like Roadrunner Records in the 1990s, a mark of contemporary quality is any band on the Holy Roar Records roster. You are guaranteed an absolute slobber knocker with pretty much everything they have put out over the last decade, whether it’s the all-out Hardcore of Employed to Serve or Secret Cutter, the Screamo of Portrayal of Guilt or the psychedelic Stoner Prog of Boss Keloid. Now turning to Post Hardcore, we as listeners should welcome the arrival of We Never Learned To Live‘s latest offering; The Sleepwalk Transmissions (Holy Roar Records). Continue reading

Tripsitter – The Other Side Of Sadness

They say you should never judge a book by its cover. If you do you might imagine that Ulysses, by James Joyce, is a novel about Irish architecture rather than a masterpiece of modernist literature / a meritless stream of consciousness depending on whose opinion you ask for. A cursory glance at The Other Side Of Sadness (Prosthetic Records) by Austrian quartet, Tripsitter, would imply nu-Metal with its monstrous, Korn-like depiction of a family portrait. What we get instead is a curious blend of Hardcore, Shoegaze and even the tiniest hint of Black Metal – so intertwined are the latter two thanks to Blackgaze. Continue reading