Lech – Lech

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Emerging from former careers in metal bands, Lech describes itself as “doom music,” with the metal absent. More accurately, this is organic ambient noise soundscaping — think Lull, Final and Suuri Shamaani — composed of found, distorted and manipulated sound.

Tracks begin with a single loop of sound and additional layers ride on top of this, many full organic in that they are like older K.K. Null works a sound “bent” to hit different notes but inexactly so that a melodic influence is felt. Usually the first layer creates a surge of noise that asserts a type of rhythm, heavily distorted so that it feels like a distant sound on a fall night, and other sounds are more distinct but still altered to make their source remain unknown. The result creates musical ambiguity that hides the work with tone going on behind the scenes, in sprawling interactions that like those in Tangerine Dream or Neptune Towers set a mood and gradually mutate it behind cover of organic noise.

The eight tracks that make up Lech both resemble each other and remain highly distinct, covering similar ground in an attempt to create a world more than have “songs” which separate themselves by isolating events. Instead, they aim for a kind of continuity where each track is like discovering a new area in a graveyard shrouded in darkness. This is doom music, indeed, but more of the existential darkness and mortal dread variety than the angsty stoned hippies singing about dragons type. While it does not have the instrumentation or format of metal, it follows the metal tendency to be through-composed and use prismatic order where similar patterns recur in different contexts, creating a sense of parallax shift as points of reference are altered and familiar actions appear in a new light. The result is more interesting than the pure drone of Lull and more like what Final wanted to be, but with less intent to be intense on the surface, preferring instead to create a pensive, tenuous darkness that embraces all that it contacts.

In-depth analysis: Desecresy – Chasmic Transcendence

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The seed of Desecresy’s music contains a basal melodic notion or two, not without poignant appeal, which then comes to gradual bloom in an unhurried, self-assured manner. Songs on principle do not outstay their welcome but Desecresy’s approach towards writing revolves solely around realizing vehicles for this germ of an initial premise, in the process sublimating the interstitial stuff that goes into the making of a fully-fleshed, narrative piece.

Flirting rarely with outright aggression, Desecresy prove adept at developing the elegant, bittersweet melodies typical of Finnish death metal, using a mid-tempo style reminiscent of Bolt Thrower, Vore, and Ominous Crucifix for these hooks to sink in. The result is an album curiously devoid of visceral thrills but one that will serve perfectly well as amicable background accompaniment.

This is no slant against the band. Desecresy’s intentions are redoubtable but they could conceivably be making more resonant death metal if they gave away their Honour-Valor-Pride CDs and let their collective imaginations take flight. While the lack of variation in speed renders a sameness to much of Chasmic Transcendence, it is obvious that this is of the band’s volition. Desecresy choose to meander along this detourless path, confident in betting the house on the inherent quality of the melancholic nuggets they litter through the album; more than a few of these are thoughtfully crafted, and capable of launching songs on an altogether different trajectory in another band’s hands (see Creepmime or Deathevokation). Unfortunately, for Desecresy, the monotonous, simplistic nature of bridges linking these phrases — usually little more than a muted, open string or rambling, inconsequential power chords — makes these songs a game of waiting for the next cute part.

This, of course, is a caveat of this particular style of droning death metal; the few good bands trawling these waters are able to create a consistent mood on an expansive, album-wide scale. Desecresy can certainly not be accused of striking discordant notes in this respect; Chasmic Transcendence is a relatively seamless experience but that is a low bar to meet when the band’s sense of adventure clings so close to the ground.

Extreme Noise Terror – A Holocaust in Your Head

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Avoiding the pitfalls of repetition that normally afflict later punk-derived albums, A Holocaust in Your Head is a fire spitting, unhinged, high speed high intensity crust album. That is, if you ignore the first and last tracks, which are a political statement not a song and an insult track to the band S.O.D., respectively.

Extreme Noise Terror rip thourgh hardcore punk and primordial death metal riffs with reckless abandon. Dual singers give some variety to the vocal patterns. Though the political rhetoric in the lyrics can be tiring on some tracks, the music speaks for itself, portraying something quite like the album title suggests: a droning of madness with explosive texture within suggesting a writhing, disturbed and out of control chain reaction just under the surface.

Admittedly none of the musicians here demonstrate great instrumental prowess, but the sheer force of the music and performance makes this entirely irrelevant. It’s as if these fellows channeled their entire frustrated essences into this album; most punk albums get boring half way through, but by sheer energy alone A Holocaust in Your Head remains intense throughout. For the most part this album uses simple song constructions, but interestingly enough there is deviation from verse-chorus-verse format in some songs, which is rare for punk music.

Bands following and contemporary to this group were heavily influenced by Extreme Noise Terror’s hyper speed crust, which became a primordial influence on the rising grindcore movement. Even years after that genre branching and the death of hardcore, A Holocaust in Your Head remains not just essential listening from a historical perspective, but a thoroughly enjoyable musical experience that reveals a world of insanity lurking all around us still.

Coffins / Noothgrush – Split

coffins-noothgrush-split2013 has been a big year for Coffins, with the release of their debut album The Fleshland for Relapse Records in July and the recent announcement of their upcoming appearance at Baltimore’s Maryland Deathfest in 2014. Coffins toured with Noothgrush in 2013 in Japan, thus it is not surprising that the two, who have gifted each other with fresh ideas, have decided to release a split EP on Southern Lord Records.

While Coffins have always had their fair share of sludge influence, the band up the ante by incorporating more stoner rock riffing and melody. The result is slower and stripped down, with less of an Autopsy and more inspiration from Eyehategod. The band still retain their core sound with mid-paced riffing hybridizing Coffins’ downpicked death metal chug and Noothgrush’s crawling musical ethic. Lead work, although sparse, brings a brightly colored spark. The drums straddle the line between D-beat infused percussion in the style of Deathstrike and the breakdowns that are archetypal to the sludge hybrid-genre. Inflected riffing pounds through both tracks in the stoner metal style, inserting absurd jauntiness into droning music.

Noothgrush on their half of the split apply characteristic sludge riffing accompanied by sample-infused soundscapes which provide abstract narratives pertaining to the song titles. The material retains an earthy, doomy sound without digitised production artifacts. “Jundland Wastes” samples the kick drum from “Tusken Raiders” amidst desert winds, reminiscent of the tripped out atmospherics of “Dystopia” but with a more concrete narrative function. “Thoth” follows in very much the same footsteps, with a sample-driven interlude halfway through — complete with layers of ear-piercing feedback and tasteful synth pads — provides a welcome break from the crushing, monolithic riffing.

Whilst Noothgrush ominously work their trademark, sample inflected sludge machine, Coffins’ foray into the sludgier side of the doom-influenced musical spectrum is somewhat generic; it feels lacklustre in comparison to Noothgrush’s experienced assault. Where Noothgrush manage to keep things interesting, if a bit mundane, Coffins’ offering for this split EP feels rushed and uninspired.

Is nu/alt/indie metal at the same level of quality as old school underground death metal?

A reader writes:

Do you think the new underground waves bands like Cryptopsy are good like the old school bands. Or do you think that death metal is the only good option?

The new school metal has not, so far, come close to what the older death metal was able to do.

I don’t think this is stylistic, so much that people are thinking about different things. When you think about things like death metal, the big topics in life like death and justice and war, you are able to make death metal (complex thoughts). When you think about yourself, who are you gonna party with and what your parents are doing that you don’t like, you end up with nu-metal, metalcore, indie metal and other new-wave underground metal band types.

Nu/Alt/Indie metal honors its origins in late 1980s Dischord bands, Fugazi included

strangelight-9_daysStrangelight, a new nu/alt-metal/indiemetal/metalcore/drone band comprised of members of Made Out Of Babies, Thursday, Red Sparowes, Pigs, United Nations, Goes Cube, Mussels and Kiss It Goodbye, will release its debut EP 9 Days on October 1, 2013 on Brooklyn hipster label Sacrament Music.

Written and recorded at vocalist Brendan Tobin’s own Ice Cream Audio in Brooklyn, New York in just nine days (hence the title), 9 Days aims to be a low-pretense version of the music presently in vogue in the hybrid metal/indie scene.

While their past and current bands share little in common, Strangelight — comprised of Tobin, Cooper, Kenneth Appel, John Niccoli and Geoff Rickly — focuses on the modern indie/metal hybrid ideal of jarring music that is also melancholic and self-indulgent.

But here’s where it gets interesting. The press release reveals the roots of indie/metal:

Drawing heavily upon DC visionaries, Amphetamine Reptile destroyers and Touch & Go noisemakers and named in honor of a track off Fugazi’s last record, The Argument, STRANGELIGHT offers up all the signature makings of an early ’90s Dischord band

DeathMetal.org has consistently offered up the idea that post-Minor Threat band Fugazi, along with Rites of Spring and Jawbreaker, provided the post-punk basis to all modern metalcore, drone, nu-metal, alt-metal, indie metal and tek-deth.

It’s good to see that a band such as Strangelight, which contains influences from foundations of the nu-indie-metal scene such as Red Sparowes, Pigs, United Nations, Goes Cube, Mussels and Kiss It Goodbye, in addition to more recent offerings Out Of Babies and Thursday, acknowledges this fundamental influence.

9 Days Track Listing:

  1. Split And Divide
  2. Mosh Party
  3. High Five Hailstorm
  4. Tiers Of Joy
  5. Xmas
  6. White Feather

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajrCZJgwoh4