Tagged: stoner

The Second Coming: stoner doom metal meets retro-1970s rock with energy to spare

Church of Misery, The Second Coming, Rise Above Records / Metal Blade Records Inc, CD 3984-15077-2 (2012)

This album is a reissue by Rise Above Records in 2012 with a different, more creepy cover for a North American audience. Easy to see why RAR’s Lee Dorrian likes this happily named Japanese bunch who play melodic stoner doom metal with super-heavy, grinding bass, strong percussion, lead vocalist Hideki Fukasawa who sings with crushed rocks in his throat, and lead guitar with a range of tones that goes ’70-s retro and hard-edged raw in equal measures. The band’s choice of subject matter – on this album, a selection of notorious serial killers like Ted Bundy and Aileen Wuornos of the United States and Andrei Chikatilo from Russia - might raise a few eyebrows though there may well be a hidden message about thumbing one’s nose at authority and a controlling society that insists on turning individuals into cypher clones. Fortunately the lyrics are sung in a growling death-metal style and indecipherable to boot so they don’t interfere with listeners’ enjoyment of the music.

“I, Motherfucker (Ted Bundy)” leads with a very strong and catchy riff; if it weren’t for the title and the topic, this’d be obvious single material as is also the second track, the even bouncier groove-tastic “Soul Discharge (Mark Essex)”. Creepy samples and little snippets of news broadcasts detailing the serial murderers’ crimes pop up to add some cold chills in case the music gets you a little over-heated. The band ventures into near-ballad territory with little touches of atmospheric synthesiser on “Red Ripper Blues (Andrei Chikatilo)” – how’s that for a seriously sick sense of humour and a hilarious song title? The singing is similarly laid-back but the roaring riff-heavy music juggernaut chorus is never far away.

The band cover Cactus song “One Way … or Another”, an out-and-out rock’n’ roll song that sounds bit ’70s in melody and structure with plenty of lead guitar breaks and steely riffing. The singing sounds a little James Hetfield / Metallica-ish which suits the stern guitar sound. Go further and “Candy Man (Dean Coroll)” is rather disappointing filler in the context of otherwise stirring music.

Bonus track “For Mad Men Only (May Blitz Cover – extended version” is the real treat of this reissue: the sound and production are less polished but the minimal treatment lends a raw, hungry and energetic quality to the music and Church of Misery come over as a real bunch of hairy hippie dope-smoking rockers on motorcycles! The lyrics are shoved out of the way speedily so the lead guitar can shoot off on a cosmic trajectory and the synthesiser squeals go their own way in the stratosphere up ahead. The rhythm section maintains the time-keeping momentum with no breakouts of its own but the rollercoaster ride with the lead guitarist, the crazy singer’s yabberings and his synth-playing will be mind-blowing enough for most people.

Apart from a few tracks towards the end, this album has energy, dance-worthy riffing and melodies and inspired musicianship to spare. If you don’t know Church of Misery, this second album is the best place to introduce yourself to their particular stoner doom metal style. Melody and massive riffing with a grinding bass and rhythm are sure to trap you in the band’s evil serial-killer fantasies.

Contact: Metal Blade Records

Serve In Silence

Here’s a spoken-word curio which showcases the poetry of Zbigniew Herbert, who I learn was one of Poland’s foremost post-war poets. Pan Cogito (INSTITUTUL POLONEZ) is a double-CD set with 52 short readings of his poems, all recited in Polish, and the book of notes is also in that language, so I’m at quite a major disadvantage…however I see that Robert Piotrowicz was involved, and he has impressed us before with his Guitar Granulizer and made a terrific record of apocalyptic dimensions called Rurokura and the Final Warn. I think he was responsible for creating the low-key dissonant musical backdrops that accompany each piece on this set – lots of uncertain piano and percussion droplets, mingled with washed-out ambient murk, all of which induces instant anxiety and depression in the listener. The readings themselves, delivered in a world-weary monotonous male voice, aren’t exactly designed to inculcate merry-making sensations in your bosom either. But Mr Cogito, the central character in this story, is no barrel of laughs, and some literary critics read him as a “petty and mediocre” citizen and that this work is one of Herbert’s most pessimistic commentaries on the failings of the 20th century. According to one critic, Mr Cogito is “a modern intellectual who reads the newspapers, recalls his childhood, his family; he also muses on pop-art, America, alienation, magic, an aging poet, the creative process.” Sleeve is decorated with various desolate photographic images of the countryside and the city that effectively convey a sense of futility and lonely, pointless journeys. What a great start to the year…

More futility on Failing Lights (INTRANSITIVE RECORDINGS 036), which is a superb solo work of creeping horror from the hands of Mike Connelly of Wolf Eyes and Hair Police fame. Note the fiery Hades-like colour scheme on the artworks (cave paintings executed in acid-tones of orange) and prepare yourself for a journey to the Saturnine realms. It’s designed as a single musical event in five sections and its anti-symphonic movements gently drag the unwilling listener deeper and deeper into a grim mental abyss. The fact that such abject terror is rendered as largely quiet and apparently unassuming music should not deceive you; pure evil lurks in every shadow here, and the sounds become increasingly repulsive and unrecognisable as the album progresses, until we reach the ultimate ghastliness which is the 18-minute closer ironically titled ‘The Comfort Zone’. This final supernatural non-zone of deathlitude and agony administers the coup de grace by piling on layers of grotesque, ill-matched organ chords in a relentless onslaught of slow torture. An excellent construction that explores the far reaches of psychic misery in ways that others cannot follow.

Gotten a nice promo version of Locrian‘s The Crystal World (UTECH RECORDS URCD056/057), which I think has since been issued in November 2010 as a two-disk set; I have only a copy of the first disk clutched in my tongs, which means I’m missing the epic 58-minute version of ‘Extinction’. Also my artwork is different, but I’m providing an image of the final version with its haunting supernatural visage. Here, the American duo of Terence Hannum and André Foisy, who make most of their gloom-craking eerie sounds with imaginative use of ectoplasmic guitar and vampiric keyboards, are joined by the drummer Steven Hess, who as I have said before is a competent enough player, but unfortunately I find his work turns this otherwise distinctive terror-project into just another stoner rock band, weighed down by plodding beats. However, there’s still many enjoyable passages of the distinctive suffocating Locrian blend to make this a worthwhile listen, for example the 11-minute ‘Pathogens’ which creates the effect of a deep mining shaft which is in imminent danger of collapsing on our heads at any moment. The band are joined by Gretchen Roehler’s violin and the anguished vocals of Erica Burgner on ‘Elevations and Depths’, another convincing portrait of world-ending events delivered as a slow and remorseless howl of pain.

Boy, will I be glad when this day’s over…Merzbow and Z’EV aren’t offering me much in the way of balm or relief for my bruised soul as they deliver 18 megatons of crashing metal and digital smashery on Spiral Right / Spiral Left (COLD SPRING RECORDS CSR133CD), wrapped in a cover whose 16th-century engraving depicts lakes of fire wrapped in a cloud of fog, seen in an aerial view. Actually this churning admixture isn’t really like feeling the dead hand of pessimism laid down on your sensitive inner being, but it is very dense, about as dense as molten lead being smelted in a foundry of titanic proportions. The two creators involved are also pretty titanic themselves, in terms of prodigious intellect and the quantity of their created output, and it seems they’ve been planning and honing this particular project for 20 years, scheming by means of fax and email. The final mutual remixes of the respective contributions were realised in London and Tokyo and are now set forth to roar in the world like lumbering monsters. Two long tracks of high-energy excess, and one can’t help but read the title as some sort of mystical instruction involving movements and passes that could be utilised by a Renaissance magician or an Egyptian sorcerer.

Hate Song / Halo Antenna

Handle with care
From Tel Aviv, our friends at Heart & Crossbone unleash more sophisticated stoner-sludge noise in the shape of a new release by Japanese underground core-punkers, MONE¥i$GOD. The variety and sophistication of their musical approaches on M.A.R.K.Z. (HCB 027) is damned effective, experimenting with unusual time signatures and dynamics in the combo playing, while at all times remaining true to the snarling and hate-filled intent to devastate and murder their quarry in sound. The dub-remix version of ‘Black Rainbow’ is particularly shocking, enriched with maximum surprise quotient. A powerpack of a disc delivered through the power of raw-meat fuelled intelligence with all the teeth-gritting style of a crazed antelope.

The item by Dave Phillips is a true puzzler, though we should expect nothing less from a release called ? (HCB 026), and the task of bewilderment on a world-wide scale has long been the chosen career path of this experimenting absurdist from Switzerland. Those that have deeper digged than I into the European perplexment conspiracy will be more familiar with the ins and outs of the Schimpfluch cabal. Perhaps uncharacteristically for this label, the release doesn’t contain that much noisy content pound for pound, and instead offers an unfathomable series of mysterious events, aimless instrumental passages, and nonsensical tape cut-ups that will keep you perched on the edge of your toolbox.

Cut Iowa Network are a trio of young men combining a rock-trio set up (guitar, bass and drums) with restrained electronic effects and tape loops, on a full-length release Projector Gunship Held {0,{0}} (CHAMPION VERSION CV201006.01). While not a totally revelatory listen, gotta admit it is something of a pleasure for me to hear music being performed live by a real band without over-much reliance on computer programming. The trio sprawl and shudder like jelly snakes in a fairly diffuse way, occupying sonic space like an ever-expanding sponge, and stretching out their limbs to best advantage on the longer tracks. With titles that reference power sources like propulsion systems, explosions and antennae, the band are keen to persuade us they can soar like mighty jets into the stratosphere, and while they like to press a lot of Krautrock buttons they also remind me of Boredoms, especially on the final quasi-psychedelic track.

On Ichnites (POTLATCH P110), we hear improvised sax noises and non-musical grinderments emanating from motorised rotating surfaces – always a winning combination in anyone’s book. Lebanese-born Christine Sehnaoui Abdelnour sucks unearthly, gritty whimperings from her alto sax, playing with such weightless grace that you can believe her hands never once made contact with brass. Pascal Battus plucks out motors from old portable cassette players, then rubs them whirlingly against common objects made of paper, wood or plastic, creating tones that make you think all the inanimate objects in the world are spending their time whining and complaining, if only we could hear them. Now we can.

Celtic mystic Ian Holloway was last heard from us when he was musing about the fragility of dragonfly wings at the end of last year. On Handle this wino like he was an angel: Baubles & Gewgaws 2002-2008 (QUIET WORLD 13), he delves into a secret folder on his home PC, contents of said folder of a nature and value known only to himself. Said contents built up over time when he was producing numerous albums and tracks as Psychic Space Invasion between 2002 and 2008. On that basis, one might be forgiven for thinking this is just a collection of anonymous computer music, but this little Chinese puzzle is a far more interesting listen than the banal filtered samples and boring processed loops that most creators manage to summon up from their Samsungs. I rather feel Holloway has somehow left a collection of his own mental imprints in the very circuits of his PC, and he needed only activate a few keystrokes to let these strange ideas and impressions come tumbling out.

Most excellent newie from Rafael Toral, whom I previously knew only for his excellent solo albums of processed guitar work. On Space Elements Volume II (STAUBGOLD DIGITAL 5), he’s exploring his collaborative endeavours and working with some topnotch musicians including Manuel Mota and Evan Parker. The instrumentation here (vibraphone, trumpet, percussion, Fender Rhodes) isn’t too far away from what you’d expect to find at any Miles Davis session recorded after 1970, and perhaps it isn’t too fanciful to suggest Toral is attempting a contemporary update on electric free jazz. Of course, this album is far more restrained and abstract than Agharta or Dark Magus, curbing the excesses of free improvisation into a carefully-constructed suite of space-age sounds, with oodles of ‘white space’. On the strength of this, I’d expect Toral to be awarded a pavilion to himself at the next world’s fair where he shows us the living room of the future with its weightless bookcases and music imprinted on little sugar-coated pills. This’ll be out at the end of April 2010.

From Melbourne, Accretion (NO NUMBER CDR) is an intriguing collection of collaged sounds combined with live electronics and guitar playing by Aumgn, a side project of visual artist Jason Beale. A pleasing mix it be: raw and primitive bedroom DIY heavy-metal guitar music interlocks with completely abstract noise, at times creating near-psychedelic mesmerising effects. The guitar sounds like it’s mostly being played at the far end of the neck (in true Tony Iommi fashion), and while his low-end frequencies could maybe use a little beefing up, it’s a convincing bit of work. It’s as though he couldn’t decide whether to model himself on Ron Asheton or Tod Dockstader, and in the end decided on both.

Eleven Vinyl Vurrtiglifferberries

Thought it was about time to hoover up some of the terriff black plastic consumables that have been sliced from the great musical Chorizo in the sky. Some of these date back to September and October of 2009 as regards when they marched in through the flaps of the Sound Projector tent. Some sound samples can be found on podcasts here and here.

From Belgium, we got a couple nifty 12-inchers courtesy of Timo Van Luijk. Onde describe themselves as a ‘free-form improvising music trio’ active since 2006, all of them emerging from the wreckage of the famed semi-industrial project Noise-Maker’s Fifes. On the LP Purple, (ONDEMUSIC 003) Greg Jacobs, Timo Van Luijk and Marc Wroblewski use just violin, electric guitar, and pieces of metal for percussion, to produce two side-long suites of superb open-ended pulsating instrument-buzziness that are bound to appeal to Krautrock listeners (especially those who favour the spastic walloping of the early Faust). Onde perform with confidence, like seasoned veterans; they contrive to give their music a slightly bizarre and distant vibe, while still weaving a compelling spell over the entranced listener – the constant mesmerising pulse which runs throughout ‘Vloed’ probably helps with this. Comes in a sturdy gatefold cover with a purple picture of the restless ancient ocean and is highly recommended. Timo also sent a copy of Voile Au Vent (EDITIONS LA SCIE DORÉE SCIE 709), a side project of his with Frederick Croene which offers four experiments in perplexing electronic arrangements, not unlike exploring the surface of the moon. Decorated with cover image of an old clipper ship.

The LP by Yoke & Yohs is called The Myth of the Totem (YOYOOYOY YOKE & YOHS LP 001). Naturally one’s attention is mainly grabbed by the outlandish cover, a screenprinted eye-scalder produced by the great Danish visual lunatic Zven Balslev, using intense full-strength colours, scattered collage, mad lettering methods and faux-primitive daubs to lasting effect. The music is fantastic too. When I first spun a few of these blistering belters, I was convinced I was hearing a souped-up customised electric guitar of such magnitude that you could cheerfully use it to crack open a few skulls. Turns out the whole LP (using distortion in the way that some painters use red paint) was made with just saxophone and drums, but produced with zero regard for good taste, common decency, or public health, and to judge by the energy levels captured on this beautifully disgraceful release, one assumes that Yoke & Yohs are only permitted near musical instruments in between wearing of their respective straitjackets. Titles such as ‘Skeletor Pop’, ‘Zombie Attack’, ‘Zoomglub’ and ‘Wolf Cream’ should give you some idea of the range of high genius-idiocy impulses sparking through their deep-fried brain cells. A total must!

Decapitated Hed‘s Subversive Club Processes (SPLEEN COFFIN SP-16) is a 45rpm avant-garde techno bruiser sent to us by Tim from the Spleen Coffin label in Baltimore. Five essential cuts of snarling, mechanised low-range bass-pulsations that instantly transform the dancefloor into a warzone; you’ve rarely heard such naked, brooding hostility pouring off th’ grooves of an innocent disco-biscuit. Leaving no room for its victims to breath, this self-assured little monster sets about the grisly task of nibbling away your ligaments and tendons with its sharp little rodent teeth. Note cover art, printed on flimsy brown paper, which suggests by overprinted lines the pseudo-scientific processes that will be used to carve up our collective anatomy and implant such unwanted devices as ‘Cranial Styli’ and ‘Glowstick Fluid’ into our bio-systems. Just great! I’m tempted now to investigate their Looped Holes CDR, or the double-cassette box of their early recordings…

Dean McPhee‘s Brown Bear (HOOD FAIRE HDFR002V) is a lovely 45rpm record from this great Yorkshire guitarist whose beautiful music can persuade you in less than two minutes that all is perfect with the world. His superb Water Burial split seven-inch (noted in the current ish) made me an instant convert to this man’s very direct and simple work. 500 copies only of this beaut were issued in October 2009.

Uton‘s Unexplained Objects (DEKORDER 037) has renewed my interest in this mysterious droney Finn. Recent releases by Jani Hirvonen of Tampere have struck me as interesting, but a little cluttered in their use of overdubbage and layerings. This one leaves a lot more ‘white space’ and room to breathe, and allows Uton’s unusual sound treatments to really shine. Apparently the record has an ‘outer space’ theme, though you wouldn’t really have guessed that from the enclosed and intimate sound of this LP.

The duo of John Edwards and Chris Corsano can be heard on Tsktsking (DANCING WAYANG RECORDS DWR004), the latest LP from Anna Tjan’s home-made label. A live document of acoustic double bass and drumming from these two high-profile improvisers from the UK and USA respectively. I was initially taken aback by the very restrained tone of this quiet record, but listen carefully at appropriate volumes and you can reveal the detail of their craft; every sound is stitched into place like fine needlework, nimble fingers moving at lightning speeds. Screenprinted art cover and a sleeve note by Evan Parker enclosed.

New Zealand player Peter Wright overdubs everything he possibly can on top of his open-tuned 12 string guitar on Bright Falling Star (RELEASE THE BATS RTB #51). This ponderous and slow droner was made under trying circumstances in a squalid London flat and its title is taken from a David Bowie lyric on the Low LP; Wright intends to convey something about ‘glittering decay’.

A true curio is this instrumental record by James Beckett, called 14 Years in the Fond Company of: The Frèderyck Nùyegen Seaside Memorial Band (EDITION KÜNSTLERHÄUSER WORPSWEDE). British South African artist Beckett seems to have a background in installation art, with numerous exhibitions, residencies and publications under his belt dating back to 1999; only recently has he started making inroads into sound-art. What we hear on the record is some astonishing music made with hurdy-gurdy and percussion, apparently recorded in a Berlin studio last year. Very little information on the cover; it’s not clear if Beckett is playing the music himself, or simply offering us a distillation of recordings he made in the field, but it’s a fantastic listen. 200 copies only from this German arthouse publisher, who also sent us a fairly nice LP of minimal electronics by Ignaz Schick in a box.

Utmarken (RELEASE THE BATS RTB#50) is a dandy ten-inch LP which Matthias Andersson has put together to celebrate the 50th release on his Release The Bats label. Over seven years, Utmarken has seen service as a venue, a record shop and a rehearsal space in Gothenburg, doubtless playing a key role in the development of that city’s currently thriving musical activity. The album compiles a track each by Street Drinkers, Källarbarnen, White and Ättestupa, respective members of whom can be seen on back cover (and there is a little overlap between two of these projects). The one I keep playing so far is ‘Daily Bread’ by Street Drinkers, which is a kind of skeletal reinvention of pop music, using repetition, loops and minimal arrangements to support a wistful echoed vocal. A splendid item with a heart-warming colour insert; Andersson is far too modest about his achievements.

Nernes / Skagen are a Norwegian duo, Kjetil Nernes and Stian Skagen who use just bass guitar and synth (plus some vocals and other devilish devices) to produce four sides of heaving sub-sonic filth now unleashed on the world as Ad Undas (FYSISK FORMAT FY011). Lavishly packaged double LP which in its look and sound is somewhat indebted to the past works of Sunn O))), but listeners looking for exciting variants on the avant-death metal sludge formula in their diet can purchase this growling beast with confidence. I suppose their real secret weapon is to use a stack of amplifiers roughly the size of downtown Manhattan, as evidenced by their live tour of the US east coast in 2008 which required the services of many a haulage truck. One need only imagine the flattening effects of such a PA, which may not translate seamlessly onto vinyl, but they certainly have a good shot at it. The duo see themselves as guardians to the entrance of the underworld, and align themselves with minimal art / deep listening music as much as they do with stoner, doom and the magick songs of Current 93.

Mathcore / Metalcore / Stoner / Gloom… (TSP radio show 11/03/05)

This show compiled and co-presented by Stefan Jaworzyn

  1. Converge, ‘You Fail Me’
    From You Fail Me, USA EPITAPH 86715 CD (2004)
  2. Dillinger Escape Plan, ‘The Running Board’
    From Calculating Infinity, USA RELAPSE RR 6427-2 CD (1999)
  3. Old Man Gloom, ‘The Volcano’
    From Christmas, USA TORTUGA TR023CD (2004)
  4. These Arms Are Snakes, ‘Run it through the dog’
    From This Is Meant To Hurt You, USA JADE TREE JT 1084 CD EP (2003)
  5. Melvins, ‘See how pretty, See how smart’
    From The Maggot, USA IPECAC IPC-002 CD (1999)
  6. Botch, ‘I wanna be a sex symbol on my own terms’
    From We Are The Romans, USA HYDRAHEAD HH666-41 CD (1999)
  7. Dillinger Escape Plan, ‘Phone Home’
    From Miss Machine, USA RELAPSE DEP-MM 6589-2 CD (2004)
  8. Isis, ‘Hym’
    From Oceanic, USA IPECAC IPC-32 CD (2002)
  9. Converge, ‘Jane Doe’
    From Jane Doe, USA EQUAL VISION RECORDS EVR61 CD (2001)
  10. Neurosis, ‘Stones From the Sky’
    From A Sun that Never Sets, USA RELAPSE RR 6496-2 CD (2001)

The Sound Projector radio show,
originally broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM