Tagged: metal

The Raw and the Cooked

ulrich

Ulrich Krieger
/RAW:ReSpace/
USA XI RECORDS XI137 2 x CD (2015)

We have briefly noted Ulrich Krieger some time ago…he contributed the composition ‘Black Smoker’ to an album of modern pieces played by Lucia Mense, the avant-garde recorder player. I think I was about right to characterise this California-based musician as a “musical omnivore who composes, improvises, plays chamber music and electronic music, and draws no boundaries between free noise, heavy metal and ambient music.” This is borne out by the splendid double-CD we now have before us today, where we can enjoy several lengthy and very successful forays he has made into the world of feedback and saxophone-generated sounds. It’s called the “first-ever experimental noise-metal saxophone solo album”, a boast which is amply backed up by the music. Everything was recorded in 2013 in Acton, California.

Five pieces on the first disc are gathered under the heading RAW, and it’s intended as a set of musical portraits of Desert Towns of Southern California. Ulrich Krieger thinks big; these pieces are huge enough to get lost in, and feel close to conceptual Earth Art pieces of the 1960s and 1970s; they’re more like geography than music. You can’t really conceive these monstrous, over-sized events happening on a concert stage or at a music festival; nothing could really contain them, it’s not music that lends itself to user-friendly repackaging. All sounds are created with an “electric tenor saxophone”, and he also uses the sax to control feedback, plus foot pedals and delay effects…but Krieger is keen to stress there are “no purely electronic sounds” and that the saxophone persists at the heart of this gargantuan beast. Listeners who have turned up here looking for a harder, sterner version of Sunn O))) or heavy metal guitar drone are advised to check out ‘Needles’ and ‘California City’, which feature the lumbering drumming of guest player Joshua Carro (a composer in his own right, who has made records for Vent Sounds and Somehow Recordings). Both cuts destroy the opposition, and will flatten you as surely as a falling boulder flattens Wile E. Coyote. Krieger’s vocals on ‘Needles’ are especially alarming…an enraged Neanderthal grunting appears to be his only comment on this particular locale, famed in my mind as being the home of Snoopy’s cousin Spike.

The other cuts on CD1 are equally appealing, though; ‘Trona’ could be mistaken for an offering in the “harsh noise wall” genre at first glance, but when you get closer you can perceive the basic sound is still a man’s breath passing through a metal tube; it’s probably that the feedback makes it all seem so crazy, untamed. ‘Shoshone’ emphasizes the wild dynamics of Krieger’s approach, and keeps veering from near-empty bleak drones of death to alarming sheets of single-note noise-drone. One extreme to the other, to put it more plainly. Here’s one instance where it’s hard to believe there are no overdubs creating this complex array. Opening cut ‘Desert Center’ is bleakest of all, where some of the bleached-out quality appears to have been produced by a quarter-inch jack cable, demonstrating Krieger’s mastery of his process. The protracted breathing effects continue for nigh-on 13 minutes; it feels like he’s suffocating, drowning in desert sand and sun, and soon you will join him. Did I mention that RAW is “dedicated to the memory of Lou Reed”? A more fitting tribute to Metal Machine Music you won’t get in our lifetimes.

If RAW is the noisy audience-grabbing attention-seeking half of the set, ReSpace is the one for the cerebral half of the audience. 74 minutes of extremely quiet and understated minimalism, probably manifesting something of Krieger’s interest in Just Intonation; its meditational tones are not too far apart from what any La Monte Young disciple has concocted using sine waves or pulse generators. Krieger does it all with saxophone-controlled feedback and his delay setup. This is a piece of blank canvas conceptual art after the sprawling action-painting of RAW, and its serene calmness clearly hasn’t come from the same raging turmoil of emotion that created the angry and desolate tracks on CD 1. True to its title, the presentation – or re-presentation – of “space” feels like a remarkable feat of engineering, proposing a glimpse of infinite horizons, by very simple means; for some reason I am reminded of the work of James Turrell, whose work always managed to keep one foot in reality (based on natural phenomena of the earth, and the light) no matter how abstract it became.

Krieger’s credentials as an outlaw performer subsisting on the fringes of rock and avant-garde music are foregrounded by the press notes here, reminding us that he’s performed with Lou Reed in the Metal Machine Trio, Text Of Light, Faust, and Zbigniew Karkowski; we might add Zeitkratzer to that list, and he even has some connection to French art-rock veterans Art Zoyd. As to the heavy metal strand, there’s his own noise metal band Blood Oath, and the glowing endorsement by Ivar Bjornson of Enslaved printed in the enclosed booklet, which namechecks everyone from Swans, Sonic Youth and Merzbow to Lasse Marhaug. Similar effusions of delight have been supplied by Lee Ranaldo (he’s composed a beatnik poem in praise of Krieger’s horn), Jean-Hervé Péron, and Ignacio Julià, the jobbing Spanish rock writer, who is unequivocal about the value of Krieger’s music; he calls it “the search for the Absolute”. Superlatives abound in this booklet, but this is very good music indeed. From 1st February 2016.

The Grackles

buckgoot

Last noted the American duo Buck Gooter in 2015 with their release The Spider’s Eyes, a strong and ineradicable series of statements about modern alienation expressed through rough collisions of guitars, synths and nasty vocals…excellent stuff…we’re now treated to a survey / compilation of their work called First Decade (FEEDING TUBE RECORDS FTR 216), where each of the ten tracks is drawn from one year of their existence, starting in 2005. Terry Turtle and Billy Brat play like two men possessed…their energy and anger never diminishing over the years, snarling and spitting out concentrated bullets of hate through coarse, flanged guitars, brutal drum machine rhythms, and basic rhythm-melody equations…

Once again the vocals are the strongest element, the singers constantly finding new ways to articulate and express their pain. It’s not just shouting and screaming (as many US hardcore and punk bands settled for in the 1980s and 1990s), but a richly-articulated sneer that contains many nuanced degrees of fury, disaffection, loneliness, and other negative emotions. It’s also possible to trace snapshots of their development and progress over time through this survey, starting with the earliest tracks ‘Cigarats’ and ‘I’ve Got Damage’ where there’s a fairly strong Chrome influence detectable, but by the time of ‘Ouija Guitar’ in 2010 the band have grown a much stronger identity of their own, and there’s less reliance on horrible guitar FX pedals to produce the requisite sense of doom and despair, which instead is mostly delivered by Turtle’s playing, strumming the guitar with the same sort of ferocious attacking force he would use to beat up a man.

Throughout, Buck Gooter’s approach to songs is basically linear – none of that sissy nonsense to do with verse-chorus construction or chord changes for these gumps – instead, it’s all pretty much one idea repeated for four or five minutes in a straight line, with minimal variations on the patterns…this is a very effective way to hammer home the simplistic, sloganeering statements they are making about contemporary life. The release prints all their record covers in full colour on the back, and there’s a series of photos of the duo as an insert…you wouldn’t want to mess with either of these guys, Terry Turtle in particular projecting the image of a war-scarred veteran of the Anarchy wars by way of biker culture, snarling at the camera with his greying beard and tattoos. From September 2015.

Breathe Through Your Skin

normal_love

The LP Survival Tricks (ug55 / PE 117) by Normal Love is a joint release by Bryan Day’s Public Eyesore label, and another USA label called ugEXPLODE – which seems to have an inordinate amount of records by Weasel Walter in its catalogue. This particular item came out in 2012 and was returned to me by another TSP reviewer, who couldn’t say anything about it. Perhaps the grotesque cover art, depicting a hapless cosmic Icarus figure, was one off-putting factor; it does seem to imply a conceptual grandeur which the music might fail to live up to.

As it turns out, Normal Love are a decent combo of happy loons from Brooklyn and Philly, playing a very mannered species of noisy art-rock cut with jazzy and improv elements, and they do it with guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, and two violins. They also have a strong gender balance which is more than you can say for some bands, and both Jessica Pavone and Merissa Martigoni contribute their distinctive vocals to some of these odd songs, besides playing violin and keyboards respectively. Their music is much more pro-active and structured compared to what we usually get from Public Eyesore, a publisher which can indulge a lot of half-baked cluttery improv meanderings that are rather unsatisfying. Normal Love manage to give cohesive shape to their ultra-busy blatterings, yet still find space to turn in the splodgy and indulgent noise eruptions whenever the situation demands that someone “takes a solo”.

They also do the stop-start dynamic thing with a certain panache and craft, even when these moments sometimes misfire; nobody will ever surpass Otomo’s Ground Zero at that particular skill, but Normal Love are determined to make a darned good effort at it. In terms of their “influences”, it seems they would list “no wave, industrial, contemporary composition, extreme metal, noise, outsider pop, oddball punk, musique concrète, and free improvisation” for starters, if I’m reading their press statement correctly. Interestingly, they also like to perform compositions, and have commissioned works from their contemporaries, a process which they liken to throwing down a gauntlet; as if to say, “give us something that’s so complex it’s impossible for us to play”. They formed in 2005 but only have one other full-length release, the self-titled album on High Two records. In all, I bethought me of a cross between latter-day King Crimson with Magma, led by two singers who are wannabee clones of Poly Styrene.

Blood in Outer Space

brightbloodstar

Blood Bright Star
The Silver Head
USA KING OF THE MONSTERS KOTM043 LP (2014)

Another sumptuous vinyl package from Arizona label King Of The Monsters, who we last noted with their release of the split LP by Suffering Luna and Suffer The Storm, plus the sombre self-titled album by Gog. While neither of those albums quite gelled for this listener, I’m planning to award a full five “golden pentagons” to The Silver Head, which is all the work of Reuben Sawyer, a draughtsman whose painstaking pen-and-ink drawings are dazzling in detail; if you wish to take a peep, some images might be found by Googling his nom de plume, Rainbath Visual.

What I like about his music here is the simplicity; the single-minded pursuit of a concise, pared-down perfection to express an idea, which in final form is executed with tremendous precision in the playing – especially the guitars – and a hypnotic monotony in the vocals, and the drumming. As Blood Bright Star, Reuben confirms his intention is to blend death-metal with Krautrock to arrive at something he calls “Death Motorik”, and the results are indeed like a pared-down deep-frozen version of La Düsseldorf as fronted by the evil two-headed mutation offspring of Nick Cave and Ian Curtis.

Like Gog’s Michael Bjella, Sawyer also has a Michael Gira fixation which he wants to work out of his system like so much snake venom, but with every note on this unfussy record he is also carving out a niche for his own personal voice to flourish. No interest is exhibited in flailing guitars, excessive distortion, or even in self-gratifying solos; the vocals neither screech nor rant, but instead patiently unfold their chilling message of doom. All of this is performed as if by stopwatch to an unfailing rhythm section, swaying in time to the compelling movement of 18 merciless cobras which have suddenly appeared on the floor.

When I read the pretentious press release for this one, with its references to “dreams, revelations and trance states”, “Qabalistic lore and alchemical symbolism”, and something that “guides its star through the body of the infinite”, I was primed to expect some unholy blend of Jung, Maya Deren, Z’EV, and The Dead C, but I suppose a little rhetoric is permissible under the circumstances. From 13th August 2014, pressed in clear / silver vinyl, and recommended.

Maniya Velichiya: first Soviet heavy metal album is a shotgun marriage with no clear identity

Ariya Maniya Velichiya

Ariya, Maniya Velichiya, independently released in 1985

At long last I found a hitherto long-forgotten and ancient Judas Priest album where instead of Rob Halford screeching his lungs inside-out and back again, Freddie Mercury is the one warbling songs about war, future dystopian scenarios and riding his Harley off into the sunset after a hard day’s setting the asphalt ablaze. Well, no, not really, but this recording, apparently the first true heavy metal album made by a band in the Soviet Union, sure as heck sounds like it! Go on, hear it for yourself – it’s at this Youtube link – and tell me if I’m hearing things!

Actually this album, the first by Russian band Ariya (more usually spelt Aria in English, I know, but I’m transliterating literally from the Cyrillic spelling) is not bad at all: sure, the influences from Judas Priest and Iron Maiden among others, especially in the singing, are very obvious but the songs are well written and played, and at times the music even surpasses the originals in style, subject matter and inspiration! Most songs have distinct toe-tapping melodies and lead guitar solos that rip up the fretboard and nearly set it on fire. As the album continues, there are inevitable moments where it falls into poodle-rock territory and the arrival of synthesiser on some tracks does put the fear of schmaltz polish into a self-respecting metal-head’s soul, but apart from one song in the middle, most tracks are not long and the musicians tend to keep everything fairly restrained. By the time the last couple of tracks are on the horizon, the early fire has long since settled into warm-hearth mode and only occasional sparks of lead guitar riffing give any indication of what these guys are capable of.

For what is basically a home recording – the band members recorded this album in their own studio/s, and one must bear in mind the political / social context in which Ariya were writing, recording and performing where Western cultural influences were at best frowned upon and discouraged by government authorities – the production is not bad though it’s basic. Indeed the lack of polish adds a much-needed tough quality to the songs, especially those songs coming later in the album that aspire to the operatic (the title track) and the overblown (“Mechty”).

It’s a bit of a shame that at the time the band did not have a very clear musical identity of its own: the guys slip from Judas Priest through Iron Maiden and the Scorpions and back again, and sometimes I even hear 1980s Queen. I have heard one other recording from Ariya and it seems telling that, like this debut, it starts with a track most like Judas Priest and then goes into something more like generic melodic hard rock with no clear identity. According to the band’s entry at Encyclopedia Metallum, it is still a going entity though like Priest and Maiden it has suffered from revolving-door personnel crises and the current line-up features only one original member (guitarist Vladimir Kholstinin) of the line-up that recorded “Maniya Velichiya”.

Blue Steel

Metalycée

Metalycée
Expat Blues
AUSTRIA INTERSTELLAR RECORDS 034 LP (2014)

A cacophonous battering ram of relentless industrial influences come to mind. Picking over the roadkill of what is left after 80’s goth met The Swans, whilst simultaneously being introduced to those who made a career out of sprechstimme, please may I present Metalycée. This Viennese troupe arrived out of Thilges 3 before joining up with vocalist Melita Jurisic – resident of Vienna and Melbourne, actress, who I am advised, appeared in Mad Max, amongst other films.

Opening track ‘Northwest to Southeast’ starts off being driven by a rigid beat and throbbing synth, complemented by Margaret Thatcher-like spoken vocals provided by the Australian black swan Jurisic. It could be that this is the opening salvo in a new bid to smash the capitalist system, although such action can be neither confirmed nor denied. This plummy Marianne Faithful diction approach is a mainstay of the album, and with the slightly Germanic (or crossed German/Australian) accent, provides the slightly surreal experience of Lotte Lenya doing the vocals for a psych album. This use of historical materialist models of prehistoric cultural change comes with computer-generated drones and glitch-infested tone, restrained ugliness and everything in between. The vocals transition into a Jarboe style zoned out singing which mirrors the lumbering psych doom provided by the stabbing synths and shuffling beat. As the camera flips from girl to band and back, the message “sort of feels like something that could have been on a mid-80s Italian horror movie”, flashes on the screen.

Now that we’ve wiped the blood off the knife, let’s proceed. Each track seems to throw-up these configured car crashes as you mentally rush off to identify where you might of heard that before. A number of the tracks have that 80s frequency modulated synth shuffle, beloved of the children’s programmes of that era. You almost expect the children’s screams to be looped against the droning synth tones and electronic pulses. Overall, the approach is a concept that has provided the backbone for countless minimal industrial punk electro combos, and is one which fits the vocal delivery perfectly. Electronic music from the early ‘80s through to the 1990s has lately had renewed interest and this album had me ticking off at various moments, Visage, The Blue Nile, The Wolfgang Press. The latter are really not that far away from Metalycée, just missing the exposure to Industrial that time has allowed the band under review to gain. Both sound like they have spent many hours in the presence of the strange, the disadvantaged, for want of a better phrase, the lowlife. The other two bands mentioned, are here because there were times where, through scene setting, atmosphere, sound, their presence does not seem too far away. Of course what we have now is of a much darker hue, the ugliness has been let loose, the antimacassars have been put away, and Dali and Andy Warhol can be seen shucking for Alka-Seltzer.

Track two finds Metalycée in more of a noisy mood. Industrial surges driven by punk electro ethics weave together bass and guitar, with a ritualised pulse provided by the drums. These elements meet and work towards generating a stream of scenes that build through repetition and which are gradually joined by layers of feedback that swell in and out. Words such as ‘punishing’ come to mind when we listen to this music. Like a collision between 80’s Eastern bloc martial deployments and the would be Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss’ of Washington. That ripping sound you hear is reminiscent of a hit and run accident, except the car comes from hyperspace.

The title track would not be out of place on any of the aforementioned Wolfgang Press’ albums produced up until the point they lost the plot. Ghostly woos and a lumbering gait with a pronounced gothic element, albeit this is goth as interpreted by industrial kids. Locked in time with the bass synth and loud drums that populate the tracks, those warbling background drones start to transform into the over-modulated wet-chrome dreams and asthmatic industrial landscape dominated by the post-war baby.

‘Lest We Forget’ is the nearest to a standard rock song that we get. Breaking down music into its simplest structural elements, Metalyce?e take the traditional guitar band formula and wrench, twist, smash and tear. The track is driven forward by a perpetually shifting chugging rhythm and constructed through repetition and primitivist/futurist riffing. The lack of sprechstimme allows the song, in its widest sense, to regain all its purpose. Gradually joined by layers of piercing high-frequency guitar lines bathed in reverb that swell into the droning synth tones and electronic pulses. The background is composed of the building blocks of industrial. Motors or machines or transmissions of some kind that shift between maker and listener; maker and machine; sound and tundra.

The album ends with ‘The Right Track’, which penetrates the calm, surface-deep beauty of ambient electronica, tapping directly into computer-generated drones and a glitch-infested pulse. There’s a definite sense of power which ties the track together with a delicate, crafted feel and which is guided by vocals that push the envelope of restraint, it teases, but its menace tells us this is not so clean a getaway.

This is a rock record in the sense that there are guitars and drums in there, but one which taps directly into noisy dark soundscapes and industrial terror. These are lensed through the smoky atmospheres of the Weimar Republic and goth aesthetics, not necessarily mutually exclusive, as we can hear here. Metalycée’s industrial leaning’s certainly fit into this lineage. They are not trapping you inside their world, but trapping themselves inside yours, with you. The aficionados can be heard purring from here.

The Summoner: portrayal of grief and loss not as affecting as it could be

miacd030

Kreng, The Summoner, Miasmah Recordings, MIACD039 (2015)

Its tracks tracing the six stages of grief from denial to acceptance – though there may be dispute among psychologists as to whether grief can be neatly packaged and presented in a narrow linear structure – this recording is a sombre shadowy journey into an underworld where the realm of the living and the realm of the dead contact and merge imperceptibly. The music ranges from cold soughing ambience, made up of spirits in perpetual itinerant restlessness, to sudden twisted chamber music / orchestral clutter or scramble, to repetitive death doom metal drone. Although the tracks suggest a definite linear narrative that suspiciously mirrors other distinctively Western cultural narratives – one thinks of the product life-cycle that marketers refer to, which I was taught at university – the actual music itself often ducks and weaves, quiet one moment, loud and forceful the next and then suddenly quiet and passive again, as if protesting or mocking the strictures
placed upon it.

The album is not easy to follow as a result of its unexpected twists and turns – not that Kreng main-man Pepijn Caudron has ever set out to make very straightforward music since he started the Kreng project – and listeners might find themselves wishing that he be more consistent and get to the point of whatever it is he’s trying to say. This perhaps is the unfortunate effect of imposing a cultural construct on the music and the phenomenon it’s referring to. Perhaps it’s not until a person has really experienced a profound personal loss or some of the emotions represented on this album that s/he might be able to approach it on its terms. Although having gone through depression myself, and having heard other music made by people who also suffered from depression and who drew on their experience, I did find the track “Depression” not quite as deep or affecting as it could be: there was no sense of deep emptiness, the impression of having a hole punched in the
centre of one’s being or feeling sudden panic that I’ve detected in other people’s recordings and which I can vouch does happen.

Track 5, intended to be the album’s crowning glory and summation, features both orchestral and death metal music, and I have to say I found this piece not very impressive: the dark orchestral music sounds like generic horror-movie soundtrack fluff and there’s no sense of terror or mystery that something profound might be happening. The slow church-organ transition from foreboding orchestral doom to metal doom is beguiling enough; if only it didn’t get shunted aside by sledgehammer-blunt death doom guitar bludgeon, courtesy of guest band Amenra. Again, this part of the track is a disappointment: we get nothing new here that a thousand million other doomy death metal acts haven’t already done, over and over.

After all is said and done, listeners might find themselves back at square one after a trip that didn’t take them anywhere much. The first half of the album was far better in creating atmosphere and a strong sense of dread but it was let down by some very mediocre music in the second half. This isn’t a work I’d recommend for people who are mourning the loss of a much-loved relative or friend unless as part of a general suite of recordings of varied music on loss and grief generally.

Contact: Miasmah Recordings

Open the Coffin: hardcore sledgehammer sludge doom beneath that tombstone

Same Sex Dictator

Same Sex Dictator, Open the Coffin, Hanged Man Recordings, cassette HMR017 (2014)

With a name like theirs, you’d expect this Seattle-based duo to specialise in some real heavy-duty hardcore sledgehammer sludge theatrics and you’d not be far wrong. The band’s second album is a dive into brain-destroying head-crush mixing blast-beat percussion (some of it at least programmed), a huge lava wall of melodic driving bass and a grinding monster juggernaut of abrasive sandpaper guitar noise. Massive though it is, that guitar noise isn’t actually coming from slabs of guitar texture layers: it’s all being performed on synthesisers. Gape all you want but be warned, the likes of SSD are part of a trend of non-guitar “metal” bands playing metal music. What the traditional metal folks think of these non-string gatecrashers wanting to play metal without going to the bother of learning fingering, strumming and working out which part of the guitar is the headstock and the body, starting from the day they’re delivered by the midwife – and heavy metal is famous for its gatekeepers who zealously police what can pass for metal and what can’t – probably doesn’t bear thinking about (much less be reproduced here in asterisks and symbols) but such non-guitar metal maniacs are here to stay: their music is no less energetic, aggressive and confrontational, and as long as they can write and play good stuff that flows well and opens up new levels of creativity and discovery, the conduit of delivery be it strings or keys should not matter.

“Open the Coffin” combines a hardcore punk style and sensibility, heavy sludge-doom bass rhythm and melody structures that form the backbone of most songs, and drumming that varies from mid-paced to speedy: the result fairly blows the listener away with surprisingly supple bass melodies that take a lead role in an ongoing relentless fury. The singing is not very remarkable and can be very ragged and haranguing. I sometimes wish SSD would let one track be completely wordless and allow the instruments to rampage freely. Lyrics deal in matters ranging from self-loathing to disgust for humanity’s inability to be anything more than short-sighted and self-centred, and metaphors and imagery from Classical Greek and Roman mythology and history pop up in several tracks. In the second half of the recording, layers of synthesiser build up epic drama. There’s much more to SSD than meets – or rather, crashes into – the ear; these guys are going to be much more than noisy hardcore sludge-doom wannabees, even if they don’t play ball … er, guitar.

Contact: Hanged Man Recordings

Crux Lupus Corona: reaching back into classic Sixties and Seventies rock and metal for inspiration

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Inconcessus Lux Lucis, Crux Lupus Corona, I, Voidhanger Records, CD EP IVR-037 (2014)

2014 is shaping up as a watershed year for black metal and metal generally with lots of releases from new or hitherto unknown bands that draw inspiration from music genres including metal itself from as far back as the Sixties and Seventies. Step forward Inconcessus Lux Lucis whose particular brand of BM draws from classic metal riffing and folk melody.

Starting with a swanky rolling introduction, mostly instrumental with some spoken vocal heralding an assault on the Christian religion, and a tango of spidery whining noise guitar and cleaner, dark guitar tones in the background (“Via Dolorosa”), the duo launch into the hurried “Crux” which is a fairly light track texturally and nearly coming undone with the fussy lyrics – the vocalist barely keeps up with the music – but featuring plenty of energetic riffs and howling solo guitar or scrabbly lead fingerwork, and coming across as very enthusiastic and determined. There’s enough fuzz on the guitars and enough lurid crucifixion imagery and suffering to more than justify the BM tag. “Lupus” appears to be more respectably traditional BM with rhythms that lend themselves to the tremolo guitarwork and blast-beat pummelling but the song unexpectedly sets off on a jaunty rock’n’roll groove path that leads it into by-ways of sparkling lead guitar folk melody squiggle and supporting all-male choruses. “Corona” may not be quite as aggressive or energetic as the other tracks – by now, the ILL guys might have pulled out every rabbit they’ve got in their collective hat – but it still boasts some good folk-influenced melodies and rhythms, and the lead guitar playing recalls the glory moments of Seventies rock and metal with a bit of death metal blast-beat discipline to keep everything on the straight and narrow track.

All songs are short and tight and yet they’re packed with so much rhythm, catchy folk tunes and varied percussion, they actually seem longer than they are. The surprisingly light nature of the essential guitars-n-drums set-up – you can hear as much dark space within the songs as the instrumentation itself, even though the guys don’t pause at all or slow down – allows the musicians to showcase their talent for improvisation as well as playing as a tight unit during breaks in the singing. The drums probably could be a bit more prominent and a little sharper to complement the singing, especially during those moments when the vocalist pauses and the drummer gets a chance to hit the tom-toms and snare hard. The clean production means that everything can be heard very clearly. There is scope within the music for ambient background effects here and there but ILL may have deliberately chosen to waive the use of effects.

This is a very creditable work from ILL, very consistent in its execution and style. I concede that at this early stage in their career, ILL are trying hard to impress their label and this attitude seems to affect the music here: it’s very busy and there’s no time for relaxation, it’s all hard work all the way through! On later recordings the duo can find time and space to craft a style that is more varied and relying more on atmosphere, emotion and taking risks.

Contact: I, Voidhanger Records

Black Sabbath

The Sound Projector Radio Show
Halloween Special 2014

  1. ‘Hole In The Sky’
  2. ‘Killing Yourself To Live’
  3. ‘Children Of The Grave’
  4. ‘Iron Man’ (Live)
  5. ‘War Pigs’
  6. ‘Hard Road’
  7. ‘N.I.B.’
  8. ‘Megalomania’
  9. ‘Over To You’
  10. ‘Solitude’
  11. ‘Spiral Architect’
  12. ‘Fairies Wear Boots’
  13. ‘After Forever’
  14. ‘The Warning’

1, 8 from Sabotage (1975)
2, 11 from Sabbath Blody Sabbath (1973)
3, 10, 13, from Master Of Reality (1971)
4 From Live at Beat Club (1970)
5, 12 from Paranoid (1970)
6, 9 from Never Say Die (1978)
7, 14 from Black Sabbath (1970)