Music Quickies

Quick and dirty reviews. Sometimes formed after the 1st listen, sometimes after 10 years. Reader discretion is advised.

Jpegmafia — Veteran – Music quickies

ap,550x550,12x12,1,transparent,t.u7Experimental noise hip-hop

Beats are more more noisy and artsy and a lot less accessible than on Black Ben Carson (2016) or The 2nd Amendment (2016). Melodic elements are more buried but there’s a constant barrage of sounds, noises and snippets popping up. A conscious decision seems to have been made to pursue an unpleasant atmosphere, the album only rewards with multiple listens. Earlier albums were playful while still having build-up, instead of being short snippets. Especially middle part of album seems incoherent. Personally I prefer the longer arrangements more.

The beginning trinity plus beautiful Panic Emoji, trap Rainbow Six are some good Jpegmafia. Baby I’m Bleeding deserves the laziest sampling of the year award, it is repeating a ~0.5 second randomly cut section for almost all its length. It’s been listened over 3 million times in Spotify? WTF!? Are unpleasant beats a thing now? Quite nice if that is so. It is also a single track, I guess that commercial suicide failed pretty badly.

https://genius.com/albums/Jpegmafia/Veteran is a treasure trove, when I dag into it, the album spiraled upwards immediately. It really is required to read the lyrics and dig into the background material at least for a non-native English speaker. That being said, a lot of the references are still really hard to get for a foreigner. This is not the kind of album one would expect from an army veteran!

8-/10

Sol Invictus — Necropolis – Music Quickies

sol invictus - necropolis.jpgA step up from the last album Once Upon a Time (2014), Necropolis sounds inspired. It is sprinkled with a ton of material, short, catchy, annoying, contemplative, experimental sounds, straight-forward neofolk…

See Them is pure luscious magic with great female vocals, bringing in mind The Blade (1997) era. The Last Man is one of the many ingenious traditional ballads Sol Invictus has utilized. When I visited London after listening the album I could not get the track out of my mind. I went as far as visiting some of the places that are sung. And I thought I had gotten bored of all these “London this and London that” lyrics.

If this indeed is the last album of Sol Invictus’s career, Necropolis is a good way to go out with the candle still burning bright… I really hope that even if Sol Invictus is resting in the Necropolis, we will see Tony Wakeford solo albums in the future.

8/10

Ultha — The Inextricable Wandering – Music Quickies

Ultha-Album-1Atmospheric black metal

There’s a lot of shining material but a bit too much inextricable musical wandering in the tracks. If Ultha could slightly condense their output, the entity would be better.

The ends of the last two tracks (We Only Speak in Darkness & I’m Afraid to Follow You There) are good examples of Ultha’s blissful high peaks after slow build-ups. With Knives to Your Heart is a great constantly pacing, very memorable 10 minute track. The Aviarist is the fiercest affair with a ton of battering tremolo melodies. The Inextricable Wandering is still a slight step up from Converging Sins (2016) even though there’s no one masterful track like The Night Took Her Right Before My Eyes.

The Inextricable Wandering is a solid entity even with its 66 minute length. It keeps the interest up surprisingly well as the best bits have been placed evenly. Very much looking forward the next evolution of this lot!

8/10

A Forest of Stars — Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes – Music quickies

255819-400x_center_centeravant-garde black metal / atmospheric black metal

A Forest of Stars have for a few albums had a very solid footing in the ever-changing grounds of avant-garde where black metal is just one of the elements. It is kind of like atmospheric black metal yes, there’s double-bass and plenty of tremolo, but oh so much other textures as well. Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes listens a lot like a poem with dramatic spoken word, crazy whirlwind-fast or almost cried vocals. The lyrics are rich and constantly puzzling.

As satisfying as Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes is, some clearer vocal arrangements or lyrics that are more approachable would have been welcome additions. That being said, there’s something about music that makes one feel dumb that I enjoy. The madness and fierce and tasty bits in the compositions make up for whatever the album lacks in approachability.

The mellow sections often take a long time, making the album challenging but relaxing. This is black metal suitable for afternoon tea. But when A Forest of Stars are not mellowing about, the compositions are rich with plenty of surprises. There’s frenzied pummeling, symphonic keyboards, electronic bridges, quality female vocals and most importantly dramatic violin melodies! They really can use the violin in their favour.

Even if one would go so far to classify the lyrics as poetic art bullshit it is impossible to question the effectiveness of Precipice Pirouette or Decomposing Deity Dance Hall. Shut up and get in the ground! He said to himself knowingly.

8/10

Ancestors – Suspended in Reflections & King Goat – Debt of Aeons – Dazzling Double Doom Quickie

Ancestors – Suspended in Reflections

Ancestors-Suspended-in-Reflections-coverIt is not Ancestor, the Pre-Kalmah band but a plural Ancestors, an US doom band. Suspended in Reflections must be the prettiest album of the year. While it’s definitely not very extreme, it is unquestionably a doom record. Dazzlingly melodic and spacey, quite upbeat but still sadly solemn.

Ancestors song-writing department realized the godly chorus of Gone and repeat it thematically perfectly in the next track Through a Window. The Warm Glow is a perfect title to describe the sensation of the last track, this time there’s also some attitude in the vocals. One could ask, is this pop doom metal (yeah I just made up that genre), have they gone too far with the softness? However it may be to some, Suspended in Reflections is palpably damn well performed. It pulls some of my strings remarkably.

If only the lyrics where somewhere to be found or bought. Bands, add the digital booklets in Bandcamp and tell the customers please. Thanks. I will buy. A lot.

9/10

King Goat – Debt of Aeons

King-Goat_Debt-of-Aeons-500x500

It took a whole of 2 seconds for me to get the first goosebumps. Rapture‘s psychedelic jam is irresistible. King Goat is not supremely original but the riffs are always good and sometimes excellent. Compositions are not boring, the vocalist has a slightly mean and really well-sung output, reminds a bit Primordial’s Nemtheanga. Musically there’s something similar to The Wounded Kings.

King Goat is at their best when they slow down and let things mildly psychedelicate themselves and the riffs grow and alter from original setups. Alterations between heavier and quieter sections are nearly always excellent and delightfully common. The album breathes a lot. If only the melodic centerpiece of the title track Debt of Aeons had lasted longer. Still, it builds a mighty tension to the rest of the track. A very worthy title track

King Goat has had a good start in building themselves a solid discography, Debt of Aeons is their 2nd album, marginally better than Conduit (2016) (8/10 in my 2016 top list).

P.S. Conduit is a prime example on how to build a good album entity, 41 minutes with 26 minutes of solid leftover songs as bonus tracks. Instead of jamming them into 41 minute solid entity, making it too long, they were releases separately. Musicians, take note.

8/10

Haken – The Good Doctor

Is this a good single or what! Haken’s last three releases Affinity (2016), Restoration (2014) and The Mountain (2013) are among the very best progressive metal/rock releases of the 2000s. Haken is about to release a new album Vector October 26th. First single The Good Doctor really ups the expectations.

 

Riff driven, memorable melodies, funky bass groove… Haken is a multifaceted band but I’m glad they are embracing their riff driven metal side. The musical theatrics of Crystallised and Cockroach King, occasional worship of Dream Theater or 80s prog rock of Affinity is not on the forefront. Rhythmic mid-part reminds quite a lot of one of their killer tracks In Memoriam from The Mountain. It’s still pretty damn neat. The way it flows seamlessly back to now heavier double-kicking bridge that leads to chorus really makes sparks fly inside my mind.

Two of the best progressive metal bands at the moment are Haken and Vektor. Therefore I do not think it is coincidence that Hakens new album will be named Vector. The title of Vektor’s next album is still unannounced, but I bet it will be called Hacen!

Like Summer 2018 Music to Your Ears playlist + Music Quickies

Like usual in the summertime I have not looked out for that much new music but focused on… Just summer I guess. I dunno where it went. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been new tracks on my playlist. Not all of the chosen music is summery, in fact most isn’t. Instead of idiotic hip summer music, the playlist has plain really fucking good tracks.

Metals of summer 2018

-6122529-1411671592-2798At The Gates published their new album To Drink From The Night Itself in 2018. It’s a pretty good effort with some memorable tracks (To Drink From The Night Itself, In Nameless Sleep, The Mirror Black) but most of all it made me retry their previous album At War With Reality (2014). Somehow I had skipped it altogether and it proved to be a mistake, it’s an extremely solid melodic death metal album that only loses a bit of punch by the end. And I don’t get excited about melodic death metal easily. Circular Ruins has a grandiose last half, great chorus, lovely guitar harmonies and fierce vocals (even the Crawling Chaos from H.P. Lovecraft gets a mention), what’s not to like.


Slugdge-Esoteric-Malacology-e1519751375282Slugdge – Spectral Burrows. Esoteric Malacology is probably my favourite album of 2018 so far. Cosmic progressive death metal with a gimmicky lyric theme, that does not reflect to the overall quality of the music. How the hell a band that sings about snails makes lyrics and music this good.

 



R-10663576-1501951371-9132.jpegMagoth – Requiem Deus (Anti Terrestrial Black Metal, 2017). So, there’s these rare songs that starts with a chorus. Really untypical but you find them sometimes. Requiem Deus is one of those but on top of that, the chorus is instrumental! That’s even rarer I guess! The basis is a strong as shit tremolo melody. I bet a lot of black metal bands could have composed this tremolo but how the track is arranged brings so much more power to it.


R-12160526-1529516094-5694.jpegCraft‘s 2018 album White Noise and Black Metal does not seem to be as strong as Void (2011), but Void was ridiculously good. Cosmic Sphere Falls is right there among the best tracks of Craft’s career. Summer and black metal baby.

 

 


102919-awakeningAsunojokei – Spring of Passion (Awakening, 2018). Combining black metal, post-hardcore and Japanese anime music melodies. How can it not fail? Asunojokei’s compositions sound so logical that on paper they sound much more weird than what they actually sound!

 


homeland

My Reflection – Homeland (single, 2018) Out of the blue My Reflection published the best song of their career. Extremely symphonic melodic metal with a graceful music video that was shot in a time span of one year to portray Finnish nature and the seasons. The track celebrates the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence. Homeland should satisfy the fans of bands like Wintersun and Nightwish. The 2 minute intro already cuts the mustard and it warms my heart that the soaring female vocals are paired with strongly grunted, black metallish rasp and some good ol’ blast beating sections. I also just published a short article about the track: https://likemusictoyourears.com/2018/08/10/my-reflection-homeland-epic-symphonic-melodic-metal/


leprousLeprous – Stuck (Malina, 2017). Leprous gig in Tuska was among the best of the festival. The band looks like school boys and at best sounds like jazz musicians doing their impression of catchy progressive metal. The weird drumming style and lots of rhythmic hooks have drawn me quite in to their style. The last 1.5 minutes of rhythmics on Stuck are such a bliss.

 


doomedDoomed – Our Gifts (6 Anti-Odes to Life, 2018). Death/doom. Strong album that might lack a bit of high-points but the overall quality makes up for it. Especially The Doors and Our Gifts are high class atmospheric death-doom tracks. Strangely the tacit and slow instrumental Layers (Ode To Life) has been playing in my head after waking up, I guess it’s beautiful enough. As a satisfyingly logical detail, it is also the 7th track of the record!

 


Meshuggah_-_The_Violent_Sleep_of_Reason

Meshuggah – By The Ton (Violent Sleep of Reason, 2016). Another high point of Tuska 2018. The rhythmic majesty combined with the supreme light-show at times induced a catharsis. For example the title track of the record had a super satisfying effect of white lights going down on rhythm and speed with huge downward slides of one of the central riffs (first appearing at 0:34). By focusing on the lights they brought a completely new visual rhythm element to the show. By The Ton is still my favourite track of the record.


Electronics of summer 2018

a0487580087_10Slipdrive – Nova Byzantium a Thousand Spires of Light (River of Heaven OST, 2014). A complete random find from a soundtrack of a pen an paper roleplaying game I’ve never played and probably never will. The soundtrack is lovely sci-fi-game music-chillout-electro. Nova Byzantium and The Coming Renunciation seem to launch the listener straight into space.

 


42084Vector Lovers – Monologue (iPhonica, 2013). Music that sounds like you were on drugs. Sounds that seem to come from an other dimension in surprising relaxing symmetry. Such weird sensations and damn if I like it!

 

 


glanko orvotGlanko – Orvot (single, 2018). Glanko’s progressive sci-fi IDM or what the heck it is always activates my synapses. Chillout electronic track with really strong astral spacey vibes. Ideal for watching a spacestation move slowly with a small beam drive, multicoloured star rings and nebulas shining around it.

 


Finnish music of summer 2018 (sad list)

R-12137234-1529049213-7911.jpegPaperi T – Muutos (Kaikki on hyvin, 2018). My mainstream sin. The flow and sound of Paperi-T’s vocals and the cunning punning lyrics are a joy to listen. Even though his darker compositions and lyrics seem to be in the past, when Paperi-T is at his darkest that’s when I enjoy him the most. One of those lyricists that makes you want to google what the hell he is singing about but can also surprise with straight-forward lines and stories. New album is quite uneven but has a really good starting trinity.