Although the smoking ban has unfortunately revealed Camden’s hallowed rock/metal pit The Underworld to be smelling as foul as the mood of the music often gracing its atmosphere, it remains one of the capital’s most choice venues within which to descend and embrace all things dark and heavy. It also seems formally most fitting for a band who have a penchant for delving forth into Hellenic mythology as do Chicago’s Southern Lord artists Lair of the Minotaur.
Back again for a surprising second appearance in London in just over six months, Neurosis came out to a full cheering crowd, all ready for the barrage and return to noise that is Given To The Rising, alive in the flesh. Without the desire to disappoint, in burst its opening manoeuvre the title track, with a typically huge, deep riff, swirling around with keyboard atmosphere in amongst the distortion and meaty vocal attacks.
The album is formed of ten tracks, which apart from the slow bombastic intro — the suitably-titled “Launch The Immortal Fleet” — and equally epic instro-metal centrepiece “My Sun Sets To Rise Again”, are all brutal metallic hardcore energy-wipers. After the initial kick in from the opening rolling drums of the title track the thrashy riffs, bassy chugging and intense blasts don’t let up, well only to ring out or give you a very short math-counted breather before blasting back in to take it away again.
All awards ceremonies are flawed: hailing one album better than all others across genres is ridiculous and taste-specific (and as experienced as the judging panel is I’m sure they haven’t got any 16 year old grime kids on it), but the Mercury Music Prize is still an improvement on most. Better than the glossy industry back-slap/sales-boost of the Brits, better than the bizarre categories of the Grammy’s (“Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package” anyone?) and better than the admittedly fun, but narrow-focussed NME Awards. M-People apart it has rewarded some great records in the past, like Screamadelica, Dummy and Different Class.
Pelican have made a trajectory which is appealing to some but not quite so for others. Starting out as a deep, brooding, sludge-strewn instro-metal band the first EP and debut full-length Australasia delivered a fascinating and exiting array of progressive doom riffs and booming post-metal breakdowns. The follow-up The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw took the same recent move as fellows and influences Neurosis and Isis and developed the dynamic aspect more without disregarding the heavy but focusing more than previously on the post-rock-esque soundscapes and builds.
Underfelt is the opening salvo from the malfunctioning toy lazer gun that is Mewgatz – AKA the g-g-glitching, twisted mind of Ed McGregor, who spent his formative years in a Midlands attic surrounded by old keyboards and electronics.
Once again Southern Lord have bestowed us with a astonishing line-up for The highly awaited 777 West Coast Tour. Headlining the spectacle were legendary drone metal bands Sunn o))) and Earth, accompanied by Weedeater (ex Buzzov-en) and Wolves In The Throne Room. Both Opening bands having received a remarkable response from metal enthusiasts, and of course the headliners being the phenomenon that they are, this was a show not to be missed, and definitely one that should be attended with the appropriate mind set. That mind set being quite high in the clouds.
The Yggdrasil is the gigantic and powerful ash tree from Norse mythology which links the different cosmological worlds together. The grouping of the Yggdrasil alongside the Tarot therefore builds an impression of something mysterious, spiritual and cosmic, with the suggestion of power added through the “Atomic” prefix. It comes as no surprise then that both the music offered within the CD and the images and word-play found within the pages of the book have a mysterious, spiritual and cosmic edge. At times the music is a real sonic assault, though at times it is melodic and engaging, similarly there is a range within the poetic acronyms sited on the opposite pages of each colour artwork from the playfully comic to the obtuse, random or the controversial. Also the artworks vary between ultra simplistic monochromes to more detailed images and between dark moods and arrays of bright poster vibrancy.
Three years after the release of their second full-length, Penance Soiree, Los Angeles’ reincarnation of The Stooges, The Icarus Line, are back with their latest offering of down and dirty, liquored fuelled rock n roll. Black Lives At The Golden Coast continues where Penance Soiree left off, serving up 11 tracks of sharp, abrasive rock. The bands sound radically changed after their first full-length, Mono, when the band adapted its now fuzz-the-fuck-out resonance.
Chart success and popularity have done nothing to water down The Chemical Brothers’ distinctive psychedelic big beat sound. Its evolution has kept it fresh while other big dance artists such as Faithless and Basement Jaxx have succumbed to the pitfall of sound-the-same albums recently. With their sixth album, Ed Simons and Tom Rowland bounce back from the disjointed effort of Push the Button (Virgin, 2005) which lacked the cohesion of their initial releases to unleash a stomping rave up followed by soothingly mellow moments held together by their trademark acid house influences.
Oxengate is the fifth album by London-based Candidate. In 2002 they released Nuada, an album inspired by creepy, seventies Brit-horror The Wicker Man. Unlike that dark subject matter, this latest release comes in a sweetly drawn sleeve depicting a country scene and was recorded in a cottage in the Suffolk countryside. A bucolic if slightly dull air weaves throughout the LP.
The August Bank Holiday Weekend is always packed full of fantastic music events, but it just wouldn’t be the same without an annual dose of the highly acclaimed TDK Cross Central. Slap bang in the centre of London at an urban Victorian Goods Yard dating back 150 years and incorporating three of the capital’s finest late night spots, the two-day festival of cutting edge sounds should be on everyone’s hitlist for either Saturday, August 25th or Sunday August 26th — or even both for the party animals.
The Episodes, released on Durtro Jnana, is the eighth solo album from experimental troubadour Chris Connelly, formerly vocailst of the metallic/industrial persuasion having served time in outfits like Ministry, Revolting Cocks and Pigface and collaborated with members of Cabaret Voltaire and Killing Joke and latterly of the avant-folk type in the vein of an earthy Bowie or reclusive Scott Walker type, with a healthy mixture of lounge and post-modern/post-rock styles.
Lose All Time follows Canadian’s You Say Party! We Say Die!’s debut, Hit The Floor, which was released on Sound Document last year. This latest release is on the Fierce Panda label, an imprint that seems to be broadening their horizons from varieties of indie-rock to encompass dancefloor abuse — Lose All Time’s relentless disco-punk follows hot on the heels of the well-received debut LP by Shitdisco.
So-Cal trio Nick 13, Jeff Rofredo and James Meza aka Tiger Army are back with another record of trademark upbeat psychobilly/punk in the form of Music From Regions Beyond released through the Hellcat label and produced by legendary punk desk helmer ‘Huckle’ Jerry Finn.
This is the first career-spanning greatest hits collection from punk-rock legends Social Distortion. The band originally formed amongst the LA hardcore scene back in 1978 and despite the obvious end of that era, numerous personnel shifts and the tragedy of losing long-time member Dennis Danell back in 2000, the band are still rocking on — confirmed by the fact that this compilation includes a new track, exclusive to this release.
Following his solo debut Nova Lux last year, MGR, aka Mustard Gas and Roses aka Mike Gallagher, axe-man from post-metal stormtroopers Isis, is back with a new collaborative work with SirDSS, the initials DSS surprisingly not standing as a TLA (three letter acronym) for Department of Social Services but actually for David Scott Stone, former guitarist of Slug and Get Hustle and collaborator with many including Big Business — dishing out the guitar work on the recent awesome Here Come The Waterworks — as well as Fantomas, Melvins, The Locust, Merzbow and more.
Brought together recording on Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions Volume 9 and 10 Jeordie White (better known as Twiggy Ramirez, of Marilyn Manson fame, and now playing bass with A Perfect Circle as well as Nine Inch Nails) and Chris Goss (frontman of desert doomsters Masters of Reality and producer of stoner legends Kyuss and Homme’s pop band Queens of the Stone Age) struck a chord and penned a few tracks together afterwards. After bringing in Hella’s Zach Hill they recorded a load of stuff, some of which made it on to a ten-track EP I Got a Brand New Egg Layin Machine in 2005. Bringing together material from the last five years or so the duo, plus Hill, plus an assortment of other alternative music cronies including the aforementioned Homme, Josh Freese (Vandals, Devo, A Perfect Circle, NIN), Dave Catchling (Eagles of Death Metal, Mondo Generator), Whitey Kirst (Iggy Pop) and Peter Perdichizzi (The Flys), have put together a weird and eclectic album of punk rock, twisted sixties pop and, not unsurprisingly, desert-loose ramblings. Weird? Eclectic? On Ipecac? I know…
Eddie Argos, lead singer of Art Brut, is a star. Well, not in the UK. In the USA the band have appeared on nationwide chat shows, have played with Ghostface Killer and were given single of the year by Rolling Stone. In Germany they have supported Oasis and Argos has had his lyrics discussed in a Berlin University lecture. Over here he can barely get arrested (well, he probably could if he did something bad like knocking a policeman’s hat off).
On the first two albums Tomahawk have pretty much done exactly what it says on the tin and produced the records that you could easily expect — coming from the sum of its parts: mix up Faith No More (Mike Patton), Helmet (John Stainer), Melvins (Kevin Rutmanis) and Jesus Lizard (Duane Denison) and you get a skewed punk-rock, with perhaps the largest presence coming from vocalist Patton (who is rarely involved in a project that doesn’t come out sounding incredibly like his own) and guitarist Denison (whose guitars take the musical fore) — the two original founding members. 2003’s Mit Gas was in some ways a little disappointing for this, though offering some great noisy and atmospheric rock it sometimes lacked the edge and power of the original self-titled blast (2001), when it was a new prospect. Here on Anonymous, however, the band shake things up and really go for something different. Now a three piece (after Rutmanis departure during sessions) the group have made a concept record delving into the musical part of the American heritage which their name conjures image of.
Despite starting out as Sonic Youth-inspired banjo and clarinet outfit, Coley Park are more part of a typically English lineage of low key psychedelic indie-pop. Now on their second album, they have worked with The Go! Team’s Ian Parton previously, and Neil Halstead from Mojave 3 on this LP. Halstead’s band is the better representation of what Rhinoceros has to offer.
No Age are two improbably-named LA hipsters (Dean Spunt and Randy Randall) who used to be together in the influential but obscure hardcore trio Wives, who split in 2005. Weirdo Rippers is NA’s first CD and first long player, and is a best-of compilation culled from 5 limited vinyl EPs released in a few months on 5 different DIY labels (including Upset The Rhythm in the UK and Deleted Art from Sweden).
This is the second full length from terribly young Californians Epsilons who with luck should have finished high school by the time this record is out. Killed ‘Em… is a straight up garage rock record: three or four chord punk songs with Stranglers type organ, Chuck Berry inspired guitar solos and uncomplicated structures.
Originally released more than ten years ago Durtro Jnana have re-released Current 93’s “Hallucinatory Patripassianist” (as termed by mainman David Tibet) trilogy The Inmost Light, made up from three separate records released within 1995 and 1996. Here Tibet is joined by long time collaborator and influence Steven Stapleton of Nurse With Wound, as well as other like-minded souls including Michael Cashmore (Nature and Organisation), Ben Chasney (Six Organs of Admittance), Joolie Wood, John Contreras, William Basinski, William Breeze and Amy Phillips — and the records also feature guest vocals from Nick Cave, Coil’s Jhonn Balance, Andria Degens of Pantaleimon, Shirley Collins and more.