It’s a staggering yet frequent reoccurrence: the hardest music to explain, often due to an apparent lack of infectious hook or because of the fact that little is actually happening, sees its orchestrators revered with an almost pathological devotion. Such is the case, of course, with US Drone gods Sunn O))). An overwhelming crush of Ambient noise, their worshippers hang onto every note, every sparing chime, as if it were a word from the heavens: their live shows remarkable for an inhuman level of sonic pain; each new recorded output more of an event, an experience, than a mere album or EP.
Latest full-length Kannon (Southern Lord) evolves in three movements, the first a sequence of pedal-strewn, cosmic, soaring chords. Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley take turns in expanding the eerie yet soothing soundscapes whilst positively terrifying guttural sounds emanate from the mouth of Mayhem’s Attila Csihar. Save for the brief introduction of didgeridoo and the atmospheric air coursing through this fifteen-minute opener, not much else of note occurs: yet it is inexplicably euphoric, haunting, muscle tightening; a spiritual epiphany which the guys conduct with almost superhuman understanding and control.
The opening chords of ‘Kannon 2’, just as economical, are nevertheless more ‘fuzzed’ and allowed to howl over an almost undetectable bass resonance. Chilling chants are intoned across a throbbing, fulminating body in an almost mournful yet Zen-like expression of emotion: an overtone of synthesised harmonics adding a barely recognisable sense of intrigue to an already hypnotic, captivating sound.
If ‘…2’ is the lament, ‘Kannon 3’ is the grave ascension. A similar structure sees that minimalist riff spike and clash with horrific anger, whilst the chanting bass voices become more sinister yet, paradoxically, reverberating to the verge of messianic celebration: a triumphal, fearful tribute to a returning, victorious tyrant. The intermittent Blackened roars, terrifying yet beatific, are both the counterpoint and the embodiment of the ability to stir and surprise while retaining control of an almost unbearably slow pace.
Masters of their sphere, legends of the galaxies, Kannon sees Sunn O))) display every shimmering ounce of their resplendent power.
Kannon had a limited white vinyl Record Store Day release last Friday, but will see official worldwide release on gatefold LP, CD and digital formats this Friday. Order the album directly via the SUNN O))) store here, at Southern Lord here, at Bandcamp here.
The band is planning many live rituals in 2016, but has announced a brief tour of Australia already. Tickets are on sale now.
SUNN O))) Australian Tour Dates:
Mar 12 2016: Adelaide Festival – Adelaide, AU w/ Magma [tickets] Mar 15 2016: Manning Bar – Sydney, AU [tickets] Mar 16 2016: Max Watts – Melbourne, AU [tickets]
Sevillan duo Orthodox are respected in underground Metal circles as a Progressive Doom outfit. The band, however, see themselves as much more than the descriptors would suggest. From a chilly quadrant in Salford, Marco Serrato and Borja Diaz talk about their first tour of the UK, their transition from a trio to a duo, and the influences that vary their sound ahead of their as-yet-untitled fifth full-length, due in November.
“We have played Birmingham before, around 2008 and 2011; but this is our first full tour of the UK” states drummer Borja. “Here, we are playing five shows as Orthodox, and another with our other project, a free improvisation group called Sputnik Trio. Some people seem to have enjoyed us, but it’s not been too crowded so far: we’ve played in front of about 40 people in both London and Birmingham. England is sometimes a hard place for a small band as you have many big bands, and a busy gig culture compared to ours in Spain.”
The guys are still getting used to being without their former guitarist and founder member Ricardo Jiménez, who left the band last year after a decade of playing together. “It feels strange, and we miss him” reflects vocalist / bassist Marco, “But if we were still a trio we wouldn’t be here today. Ricardo is a schoolteacher, and could no longer play as often as we wanted to as he has other priorities. There were creative differences also, and these two things meant we had to part. It’s painful for both sides: I’ve known him since school, we have children who are friends with each other: but we are still friends.”
The band’s last album, Baal (Alone Records), was a more traditionally Doom-based outing than their previous three albums, and the duo have mixed feelings about it: “After two steps forward, Baal was a step backwards”, opines Borja, “though it was absolutely deliberate. We were so energised after our third album Sentencia (Alone Records), and a number of festivals wanted us including Roadburn. We have to write tunes that we can play live as a duo and a trio, as we usually require trumpets, horns, and all kinds of things, and many venues don’t pay us what we need to provide the extra musicians.”
“If we had money, we could afford to tour and show all the faces of Orthodox”, laments Marco. “Sadly, we will probably lose money even from this tour. People have this impression of us as a schizophrenic force that plays Metal, and we have managed to put this together in Seville where people can see how one thing speaks to another, a kind of Pink Floyd mentality, an organic flow from one thing to another. We like both Metal and Jazz, and like to incorporate the two. We both feel that our second album, Amanecer en puerta oscura (Alone), is the album which most represents our core. Baal is definitely our ‘Metal’ album!”
So how do Orthodox describe Orthodox? “Everything”, states Marco somewhat arcanely. “Sometimes I still feel like that teenager who listened to Sodom and Sacred Reich, but I listen to many things and I’m tired of some of the stupid clichés that are often given in underground metal. You need freedom. I don’t feel offended when people call us a Doom band: I understand that people need labels, and as a point of departure maybe it’s correct. When we first started out we had bands like Cathedral and Sunn O))) in mind, but there’s more to our sound. I can probably identify more with Earth because they play slower and with hard riffs, but they think in ideas. I don’t connect so much with, say, ReverendBizarre, which is a cool band but a little more generic. I personally am not that kind of musician!”
Both Marco and Borja are excited about that upcoming album, which recent single Crown for a Mole (Alone) indicates will be slightly more up-tempo: “There are a couple of faster songs on there”, asserts Marco. “We’ve wanted to play fast for some time. Overall, however, it is the closest album to Amanecer… that we have done. We have put all the faces together again in one album. You have the heavy stuff but you have horns, clarinets, we have a strange African-influenced song on there…we have missed a couple of things from Ricardo, like some of his crazy chords, but it sounds again like our vision.” So how is that rhythmic, sonorous balance achieved? “We play our instruments without many rules”, states Borja, “And sometimes they clash.” “When we were a trio” continues Marco, “we were three soloists playing together but there was always something happening: here we have lots of collaborations, with a guitar player, clarinetists, and saxophonists, so again we have so many different things in our sound.”
It sounds like a remarkable experience, which an Orthodox album always is. If you like your Low-end rhythms shot through with a sense of mystery, adventure, and no little beauty, this Spanish duo are most definitely worth your investigation.
Teenage Time Killers, the supergroup put together by Mick Murphy (My Ruin) and Reed Mullen (COC) is putting on a one-off all-star concert in Los Angeles on September 12th. Featuring many of the big names that make up each of the tracks ofGreatest Hits Vol 1, (Rise Records) taking the stage with Murphy and Mullen will be Randy Blythe, Corey Taylor, Neil Fallon, Lee Ving, Tommy Victor, Vic Bondi, Phil Rind, Ron Beam, Tony Foresta, Clifford Dinsmore, Tairrie B. Murphy, Jonny Webber, Greg Anderson, Pat “Atom Bomb” Loed, Karl Agell, and Trenton Rogers. Tickets are already on sale at this link:
Over the course of her career singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe has hardly given what you would call conventional output. Drawing influence from a distinctly varied and wide range of influences, her music has had a chameleon life effect of changing its style and colours over the years, always proving impossible to pigeonhole. On the path of further mind-fuckery, latest album Abyss (Sargent House) offers perhaps the most surreal and abrasive album of her career to date.
Abyss upholds the dark, gothic tinged atmosphere and tone of previous releases but also shows a greater embrace of orthodoxly heavier genres such as doom metal, drone and noise rock. Always one for sounds of mystery and unease, at times this proves downright terrifying, for example on ‘Iron Moon’ which contrasts between pummeling, sludge like passages with her powerful wail to cleaner, folk like parts where she sings with almost fragility, as eerie effects pierce the background.
Her vocals prove a real ace on Abyss working as both a perfect accompaniment at some parts and providing a perfect contrast to the sheer heaviness of the music at others, heightening the unsettling feel. Far from becoming an entirely metal album however, her varied range of influences from folk and elsewhere still show huge prominence, from the creepy Cello on ‘Grey Days’ to electronic noise throughout, through to the spine chilling string section that draws the album to a close on the title track. Even moments of delicacy pierce through showing beauty throughout the album’s cleaner passages.
As ever Chelsea Wolfe gives us another challenging album that will prove near impossible to categorise, but with Abyss it is certainly her most conventionally heavy and perhaps darkest thus far. Showing more in common with the likes of SunnO))) than ever before, contrasting with her soft vocals and other influences and Abyss is a deep, at times unsettling album that reveals greater nuances, layers and depth with every listen. Without a doubt one of the year’s highlights.
Have you ever heard an album so good you thought it was made just for you? Like someone reached into the great boombox in your brain and pulled out just what you wanted to hear? Well, Greatest Hits Vol. 1 (Rise Records) by Teenage Time Killers is that album for me. If you have yearned for some new tunes to come along and kick your ass back to 1988, then this music is for you. Masterminded by Mick Murphy (My Ruin, and Reed Mullen (Corrosion of Conformity),the core band is rounded out by the ubiquitous Dave Grohl and chipping in everything except lead vocals and Greg Anderson (Sunn O)))/Goatsnake) and his mighty axe. In addition to a cavalcade of former and current stars from across punk and metal, it’s an ambitious attempt to turn the idea of a supergroup on its head.
Certainly, a lot of hype has gone on about the assembled players, especially the vocalists. If you re thinking of Grohl’s Probot project, you are not far off. That was Grohl paying tribute to his metal heroes. TTK is all about paying tribute to a certain mindset. An era when writing fun, smart songs that hit you where you live was the norm. Mullen has put his distinctive angry yelp on many C.O.C. albums and does a fine job here on the opening track ‘Exploder’ and on ‘The Dead Hand’. ‘Exploder’ is just a classic punk track with all the whoa-oh-ohs you can handle. Second track ‘Crowned by the Light of The Sun’ sounds like an early-era Clutch song and thus Neil Fallon is right at home singing over some stone grooves. The most blistering track here is the thrash/punk ‘Hung Out To Dry’. Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) just slays the track with his parts.
Following these first salvos the rest of the album is a tad uneven in a few places, but on repeated listens the entire thing holds together well. Jello Biafra is predictably pissed off in the too-short ‘Ode to Hannity’. ‘Barrio’ featuring Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio/Blink 182 has the second-best track on the album. It’s another fun old-school sing-a-long that is both fun and political. Mike IX (EyeHateGod), Tommy Victor (Prong/Danzig) and Tairrie B. Murphy (My Ruin) anchor the three of the remaining real standout tracks. While it’s great to have an album in 2015 with Lee Ving (Fear), Karl Agel (COC Blind/King Hitter) and Phil Rind (Sacred Reich) altogether, at times you wish the tracks were a little stronger. Although a little short of total greatness for all the meaningful names, Teenage Time Killers backed up having the stones to call this album Greatest Hits Vol 1.
The West Midlands of England has yet another grimy, hooded secret. One as cacophonous and electrifying as Birmingham duo Khost, however, surely cannot be suppressed much longer. Second album Corrosive Shroud (Cold Spring) begins with the sample-driven Industrial swell that defines their sound: a sonic barrage, delivered at an oft-crushingly slow pace, yet fed by walls of the most pulverising low-end chords you’re ever likely to experience.
With the band’s trademark, sampled Eastern chants giving a melodic yet eerie edge, opener ‘Avici’ forces Moby’s Play-era sound into a blender with the clashing steel of Godflesh and the unbearable might of Sunn O))). The howling roars of ‘Revelations Vultures Jackals Wolves’ are initially dwarfed by this unfathomable weight; the horror of their hatred and pain, however, remains undimmed and unmasked, whilst metallic clangs and mashing beats create a cauldron of boiling intensity.
The squalling chaos of début album Copper Lock Hell (Cold Spring) is somewhat replaced here by a more cohesive structure, yet no power is lost, instead being augmented by that heightened Asian influence which lends a unique and emotive diversion. Resonant strikes, when delivered, provide a terrifying alarm call: the slow, steadily pounding sticks of ‘Black Rope Hell’, for example, enter a brief period of quiet in the most invasive fashion whilst filthy, throbbing feedback is suddenly unleashed from the silence, crumpling one’s body. This segues into the magnificent ‘A Shadow On The Wound’, like a sludgy Aevangelist, the salve of those haunting wails a hypnotic contrast, yet as complementary as salt with chocolate. Here is the inexplicable magnetism of Khost – the ability to weave seamlessly the most offensive, deafening, programmed fear with moments of ethereal beauty, creating an experience as captivating as it is nerve-shredding. It’s during those involuntary tics of anticipation, the body often compelled to assume the foetal position for comfort, that one realises how stirring the sound is; an outpouring of emotion and energy, a stretched depiction of a primal scream, essential whilst undoubtedly polarising opinion.
The almost-tribal ‘VMIH’, its surrounding noise less of a contribution than before, exhibits the importance of the participation of rhythm, be it artificially or manually produced. Showing the willingness to incorporate other styles, the last two tracks are remixes of the opening salvo: the former heavily beat-led and mesmeric; the latter a more unsettling encounter awash with deep bass notes, that native intonation falling into oscillating effects and roar-strewn narrative, completing the creation of three songs from one. It’s pure art, invention with a purpose, brutal and occasionally unfathomable yet all the more natural for it.
Brimming with moments of great meaning such as the mournful Shoegaze and pensive poetics infiltrating ‘Inversion’; the exploding violence and skewing electricity of ‘Red Spot’; and the pulsating waves and crashing horror of ‘Bystander’; this is a startling, spellbinding piece of work. Having given us Sabbath, Napalm Death, Godflesh, and Anaal Nathrakh, Birmingham – and Khost – has just provided Metal’s latest evolution.
Festival season is just around the corner, and what better way is there to start the summer than with Temples Festival? Launched in 2013, Temples is an independent music festival based in Bristol. The event will take place from 29th – 31st May at the historic venue Motion.Continue reading →
Obliterations have announced upcoming live dates, which are posted below.
Feb 11: Great Scott – Boston, MA (w/ Sick Feeling) Feb 12: L’Agitee – Quebec City, QC (w/ Sick Feeling) Feb 13: Turbo Haus – Montreal, QC (w/ Sick Feeling) Feb 14: Hard Luck – Toronto, ON (w/ Sick Feeling) Feb 15: Call The Office – London, ON (w/ Sick Feeling) Feb 16: Magic Stick Lounge – Detroit, MI (w/ Sick Feeling) Feb 17: Beat Kitchen – Chicago, IL (w/ Sick Feeling) Feb 18: Beachland Tavern – Cleveland, OH (w/ Sick Feeling) Feb 19: Smiling Moose – Pittsburgh, PA (w/ Sick Feeling) Feb 20: Saint Vitus Bar – Brooklyn, NY (w/ Sick Feeling) Feb 21: Boot & Saddle – Philadelphia, PA (w/ Sick Feeling) May 29-31: Temples Festival – Bristol, UK (w/ Converge, Sunn O))), Nails)
Stream Poison Everythinghere, and watch the official video for “Mind Ain’t Right” here.
Unifying current and ex-members of Black Mountain, Saviours and Night Horse, OBLITERATIONS recorded Poison Everything with producer Chris Owens (Lords, Coliseum, Young Widows) at Dave Grohl’s Studio 606, had it mixed by Kurt Ballou (Converge, High On Fire, Black Breath) at God City Studio, and mastered by Brad Boatright (Tragedy, Integrity, Sleep) at Audiosiege, with nearly a half-hour of grating, hardcore punk charged by a seemingly bottomless wealth of antagonistic energy; prime fodder for fans of The Stooges, MC5, Laughing Hyenas, Black Flag and Poison Idea.
This is a curious proposition. With previous albums and now this EP release The Malefic: Chapter III (self-released), Nader Sadek is a death metal super-group which has seen a variety of members on its releases, all curated by its namesake, one Nader Sadek, who has worked as stage artist for the likes of Mayhem and Sunn O))).
On this latest reincarnation, the personnel includes Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation on vocals, Rune Eriksen (Mayhem), Martin Rygiel (formerly Decapitated) and Flo Mounier (of Cryptopsy fame). Following on from the album In The Flesh (Season Of Mist), which was an impressive slice of death metal if lacking in some cohesion and clear production, this latest EP does see some refining. The production here has a lot more clarity and precision without sounding sanitized, whilst musically it sounds a united and flowing piece, and more straightforward in nature. The vocal contributions of Ryan truly stand out, further showcasing his presence as one of death metal’s most versatile and powerful voices.
A crisp, impressive EP which will admittedly won’t turn the genre on its head but represents a good exhibition of the talents of those in its ranks. Not a world beater, but worth a listen.