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!