Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Grimmd- Demo I-II

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Artist: Grimmd
Album: Demo I-II
Record Label: Signal Rex

Anonymous Icelandic group's demos buried by the past emerge with plenty of thrilling darkness

Mysticism and anonymity arguably doesn't contribute half as much to any other genre as it does to black metal. Apparently recorded between 2010 and 2011 and re-released early this year by Signal Rex on limited edition cassette, Icelandic group Grimmd's Demo I-II leaves as much to the imagination of the listener as it does come across like a transmission wrenched from the darkest cavern of the deepest forest. 

The seven tracks on offer here certainly presume a chameleon-like approach within the bleak, raw-as-hell confines of the band's sound. There's the thick, off-kilter ugliness of opener 'Hvarf', the beautifully frost-bitten, cascadian epicness of 'Kvika' while 'Skjatti' adopts the same classicism but in a more condensed, demonic form. 

The following four tracks are all entitled 'Onefnt' and sound even more distant and tortured, especially the first which features this release's most nihilistic riffing and howling. The second is a rampaging, groove-ridden blast, while the fourth is a devastatingly slow and funereal crawl. 

There is plenty of black metal of Grimmd's ilk out there, and those well versed in the scene's anti-social fringes will find nothing particularly forward thinking here. All the same, this is fiercely secretive classicism generously distributed with often thrilling darkness. It also adds to the seemingly ever-increasing richness of Iceland's BM scene. 


Key Tracks: 'Kvika', 'Skjatti', 'Onefnt IV'
For Fans Of: Xasthur, Nidingr  

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Iron Reagan- Crossover Ministry

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Artist: Iron Reagan
Album: Crossover Ministry
Record Label: Relapse

Tony Foresta's secondary thrash crew prove themselves to be much more than jokers 

Though the idea of "fun" being a crucial component in thrash metal is likely to stay hidden from the uninitiated forever, whether via his day job in Municipal Waste or in Iron Reagan, vocalist Tony Foresta is swallowing all the old-school, hell-bent-for-denim joy he can.

Crossover Ministry, Iron Reagan's third full-length is as much a fusion of party-centric thrash, hardcore/ skater nihilism and dalliances in power-violence as we've come to expect. It might even be a joke amongst the band members as to just how much they wear their influences on their sleeves. For the most part however, it's a record that proves how much fun this music can be. 

Opener 'A Dying World' is dark, Slayer-esque classicism that sounds as authentic now as it might have done in the Reagan era. Similarly, 'Dead With My Friends' (perhaps accidentally) becomes a rollicking steam-roller that feels like a perfect mantra for these times. 'Condition Evolution' is another highlight complete with guttural growls, gang vocals and blistering riffing. The macabre assault of 'Blatant Violence' is a blood-pumping moment late on, while the rip-roaring Hardcore of 'DogsnotGod' rings with Henry Rollins-like sarcasm. 

The lack in sonic depth or variation does mean that cuts like 'More War' and 'Megachurch' (despite the latter's deliberately comical vocals) suffer via no distinction. However, Crossover Ministry's rough-around-the-edges dark and endlessly bpm-heightening rattle proves that Iron Reagan are a band to both party to and take seriously.


Key Tracks: 'Condition Evolution', 'Dead With My Friends', 'DogsnotGod'
For Fans Of: Suicidal Tendencies, Slayer

Monday, 13 February 2017

Lushlife- My Idols Are Dead + My Enemies Are In Power

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Artist: Lushlife
Album: My Idols Are Dead + My Enemies Are In Power
Record Label: Self-released

The underground Philly MC comes through with 14 tracks of protest music that are as heartfelt as they are necessary

It's been written before, by many commentators including myself, that the idea that torturous political climates spawn great music is a dubious one. The biggest counter to the aforementioned argument is that music is always there and is always an outlet for frustration and emotion. In that respect, the argument is rendered mostly void because people *turn* to music in troublesome times as a way of expressionism rather than revolution. 

Though anti-establishment ethics are deeply embedded in hip-hop more so perhaps than any other genre, Philadelphia rapper Lushlife's new LP, My Idols Are Dead + My Enemies Are In Power (all proceeds from which go to the ACLU) genuinely feels like a call to arms. In the possession of someone less creative and less verbose, much of the content here might come across as preachy, but as Lushlife, together with a hand-picked selection of philosophers, poets and professors, delivers this forthrightly socialist rhetoric, it feels both heartfelt and completely necessary. 

Right from the start and first track proper 'OOOUUU', Lushlife's fearsome literary knowledge and captivating cadence come as a swift jab to the gut as he references Middle Eastern warfare, Cormac McCarthy and Dr. Strangelove seamlessly. 'No Dead Languages (Vocal Mix)' feels irrepressibly bleak, with Lushlife barely stops short of suggesting that the battle is already lost over a beat-less instrumental powered by mournful strings. 

'The Heart Is An Atomic Bomb' is a virtuosity drenched highlight of hard-nosed boom-bap. "I'm just a martyr, an unstoppable human weapon so when I spread like a virus they gon' get to steppin'" he spits before essayist & writer Porochista Khakpour's poignant ode to self-sacrifice and the need to survive gives way to Billy Woods, who brilliantly summarises the paranoia of our time: "You shoot your girl for flirting/ You shoot your man 'cause you can't be sure he ain't snitchin'". 

The gambit from British writer Nikesh Shukla on 'Julie Profuno (Brexit Planet Dust)' makes the transatlantic link and emphasises the danger of ignoring the increasingly deep-set fascism in Western society. The aggressively dissonant, clanging production on 'I Seen It Before, I Was There' provides the perfect backbone to a mystically brilliant verse from Moor Mother. Lushlife's gritty perception of reality comes to life on 'O Glowing Hunter' as he raps "the reality is that reality is to play with, the Mexicans a metaphor and UFO's are slave ships". 

'11 Theses + Anthropocene Dream' is entirely comprised of an intensely moving gambit by Prof. Jebediah Purdy in which he outlines eleven complex, emotional and humanistic ideas for a more equal society free from tyranny and fear, made even more poignant by the beautiful instrumental that grows as the track progresses. 

Despite all its heftiness, My Idols Are Dead... never gets lost in its depth or meaning. It always feels urgent, always righteous in its world view but sensitive in its empathy. It's about as direct an addressing as there could be of these issues, but more it seems to be that that's becoming what's needed. 


Key Tracks: 'The Heart Is An Atomic Bomb', '11 Theses + Anthropocene Dream', 'No Dead Languages (Vocal Mix)'
For Fans Of: Blu, P.O.S. 

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Big Sant- sleEP

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Artist: Big Sant
Album: sleEP
Record Label: N/A

Big K.R.I.T. affiliate comes through with three tracks of smooth, banging and rapid fire Southern swagger

Every now and again an MC comes along within whom it seems to style and deliver their music in a certain way. If you were to cut Mississippi rapper Big Sant he'd probably bleed country swagger, and the sleEP EP proves his pedigree. There's little here in the way of lyrical innovation, but he glides so slickly over the smooth, luxurious beats all the same, until the final track 'Over Slept', upon which producer Kreatev delivers a nasty, dystopian trap-flavoured groove. 


Key Tracks: 'Over Slept', 'Do It Yourself'
For Fans Of: UGK, T.I. 

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs- Feed The Rats

Image result for pigs pigs pigs- feed the rats

Artist: Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs 
Album: Feed The Rats
Record Label: Rocket Recordings 

Newcastle sludge crew utilise sardonic wit and endless psychic riffing to glorious effect on their debut LP

The same sense of humour that seems intrinsic in the UK sludge metal scene permeates heavily from the pours of Newcastle quintet Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. Despite front-man Matt Baty's admission that the name is "sort of a joke gone too far", it's the overall sense of fun and a sort of inward-looking easiness that makes their debut LP Feed The Rats such a blast. 

There is a sense of swirling, cavernous cosmology throughout the three tracks here, largely in part to the effects on Baty's hollering vocals. The riffs and grooves take hulking forms, but the down-tuned sense of grittiness means they feel as fitting an accompaniment to council estate Northern England as they might to acid-fried desert mishaps. 

The balance between character and enjoyment is handled superbly as well. 'Sweet Relief' is an almost deliberately Sabbathian ode, it's rollicking, fuzzy classicism acting as a bridge between two titanic slabs. The closing 17-minutes of 'Icon' is the highlight, engaging all elements of the band's hypnotic core to a life-affirming level. Baty's vocals also attain their most sardonically witty tone as the track reaches its thunderous climax with repeated yells of "come... Be a God in my church". 

Something telling about Feed The Rats is that Baty's keyboard only rears it's head for a brief moment during opener 'Psychopomp'. Pigs x7 are clearly a band with plenty of more sonic ground to tread and in that context, restraint is a tantalising stroke. 


Key Tracks: 'Icon', 'Sweet Relief'
For Fans Of: Eyehategod, Orange Goblin