Another batch of new tracks for you to listen to and read about.
For regular readers, you’ll know that this will be the last new tracks round-up of the year. By the time I reach the turn of December, I’ll be well into my roundup of 2016, which will come as usual across four Tuesdays – starting 29-November and finishing up on 20-December. I’ll actually be on honeymoon during most of that time, so the race is on now to complete everything before I go away, so that I can simply post each part of the roundup as I go along.
Anyway, back to this week. There are a number of a notable industrial artists here, as well as branches into other styles, and as often is the way, I’ve expanded it beyond ten songs to cram in everything I wanted to mention.
Track of the Month: 1
Dead When I Found Her
Eyes On Backwards
Following the extraordinary All The Way Down last year, a musing on how we deal and prepare for/with death, Michael Holloway returns just twelve months later with his next album. Things are considerably more direct this time, something that was signposted by the airing of this savage industrial attack at live shows over the summer. Tantrum pounds and hammers away at your senses thanks to a thumping beat, swirling synths and an arsenal of samples and vocal refrains that all overlay each other, confusing and confounding but at not point does it lose the thread, resulting in possibly the best standalone DWIFH song yet. Eyes on Backwards is released Friday.
Track of the Month: 2
One of the catchiest, brightest songs on an album absolutely stuffed with hooks, the album has been on near-constant repeat since I picked up an early-release copy at Cold Waves V at the end of September. I’ll talk more about the album in due course, but this song has something quite wonderful about it. Kanga’s vocal is frequently restrained, almost deliberately emotionless, it seems, but then she just lets rip with elements like the chorus here, and better still, an astonishing, swirling multi-tracked vocal bridge that comes out nowhere. Musically this is industrial pop, basically – and I’ve got this hunch that this has absolutely massive crossover potential. The album is out later in November, and I can recommend it as an essential purchase.
Walk It Back
Greeted As Liberators
Seven years on from the exceptional This Is Not A False Alarm Anymore, Joseph Byer (for he is v01d) returns unexpectedly with a new album (out on Friday). Judging on this lead track, it’s clear his eclectic influences have continued to be part of his work, with elements of industrial, hip-hop, rock and avant garde electronics all featuring here. The lyrics were posted on FB the other day, and as the album title had already suggested, there is a distinctly political slant to things here – and Byers is angry with the current situation. The rest of the album is keenly awaited.
Brother Death EP
SITD return with a new EP, at the same time marking their 20th anniversary (although their first album proper, the still brilliant Stronghold, didn’t come until 2003). They are one of those reliable bands who have rarely fucked with their sound, mainly because they nailed their style so quickly – and it worked so well – that there was no need to do so. So, perhaps unsurprisingly, this is not going to sway anyone who didn’t like SITD in the first place, but for those of us with an interest, this hits the mark nicely. A bruising, dark sound that perhaps owes a bit to :wumpscut: (particularly those opening synths), but as always SITD ensure that a chink of light comes in to provide an ever-listenable sound.
Flower of Sex
A Corpse Wired for Sound
A new band to me, anyway, with a new album out on 4AD, and they certainly fit what I might expect to hear from a band on that label. Squalling, indistinct guitars paint textures across a muscular, bass-heavy rhythm, and a vocal that has a deep sneer not unlike Ian McCulloch (to me, at least). The elements might be familiar, but this is a brilliant, brilliant song with a catchy melody and the feel of something truly great stirring here.
This was recommended to me a while back by Jacek at Artoffact, and since then I’ve heard amazing things from various sources regarding their (apparently extraordinarily intense) DB20 appearance a few weeks back. This is aggressive, intentionally ugly music – sandblasting electronics, howled vocals and a distinctly sharp-edged, punk feel to the tempos (not to mention some unsettling samples put really high into the mix) – but it sounds fucking amazing. The album is not particularly long – probably for the best at this intensity – and comes with something of a health warning, as it absolutely won’t be for everyone. But I suspect the band like it that way.
Not an area I cover a great deal anymore – it’s been a long time since I ran Stormblast now! – but this is great, solid metal from a band from south Essex. A monstrous, chugging rhythm underpins an impressive metallic attack, complete with a vocalist who has more of a range than just “growl” (the change in tone for the chorus was a bit of a surprise first time). It comes complete with an impressive video, too.
It is amazing to me that GHOST – after three albums and a few EPs, and a whole lot of attention in the press, and not a small amount of success, particularly in the US – have managed to retain their carefully guarded anonymity. Their image is part of what they do, but not half as much as how great their music – and their awesome live show – is. This latest single is just another example of this – organ-drenched, quasi-satanic heavy metal that keeps a populist edge through it’s stadium-sized chorus, and that distinct sense that this band have not completed their upward trajectory just yet.
The Violent Sleep of Reason
We might be able to blame Meshuggah for the seemingly never-ending stream of ‘Djent’ bands (none of whom come close to the technical ability of Meshuggah, never mind write worthwhile songs), but nearly into the fourth decade of their career, they remain a unique outfit. The opening track from their latest album gives a nice primer on where they have reached. There are still the mind-boggling tempos and time signatures, there is massive, chugging riffage, staccato, bellowed vocals – but most importantly, they are so technically able that they manage to bring together dissonant, difficult elements and make them into enthralling, brilliant songs, and this is one of their best in a long while. If you didn’t like them before, though, this will do nothing to change your mind.
This was recommended to be a month or two back, and I was rather impressed when I finally got ’round to listening to it. The project is by a West Yorkshire singer-songwriter by the name of Jayn H. Wissenberg, and to put no finer point on it, there is certainly something of Chelsea Wolfe in her sound. It is dark, gloomy stuff, with a distinct nod also to the doom metal heritage of her home area, and this song in particular is a stellar addition to that lineage, moving between dreamy guitars with breathy vocals, to howling metallic fuzz.
Tom Barman of dEUS has a new side-project, and this is a jazz-oriented quartet who, thanks to Barman’s vocals and knack with a melody, still has a vague relation to the “parent” band in sound and style (especially earlier dEUS, where the jazzy influences still came through at times), but goes far further into the realms of jazz, but kept familiar by Barman’s warm vocals – and intriguingly the refrain of this song bears a relation to Neubauten’s take on The Harlem Hellfighters on Lament!
I seem to recall that Devin said at his (exceptional) RAH show in spring 2015, that he was going to “take a break”. It can’t have been that long, then, seeing as he’s already released another album this autumn. Does this guy ever stop?
I’ve not had the chance to listen to the whole album yet – it’s been a busy year – but this first track that I’ve heard from it is perhaps a little more mellow than the sandblasting, wall-of-sound thrash that frequently is among his best moments. This is more spacey, more…prog? Devin’s unique voice is still at the heart of it, and the mix is still very dense indeed. I like it, but I think I really need to get into the rest of the album too.
Another artist I’d missed this earlier in the year, so thanks Vlad for the headsup on this. Like Darkher, this is bleak, experimental stuff, again with a nod to Chelsea Wolfe, but also to Swans (particularly in the brutal, martial percussion) and also obliquely to Fever Ray. Vocally it is a bit overwrought at points, but a secondary vocal that whispers away on the edge of the mix adds an unsettling feel, as well as the (deliberately) fuzzy, indistinct mix at points of the song. The whole album is an intriguing, varied beast, too, and well worth hearing.
Running Out of Love
A final, late addition to this month’s list came from hearing this lovely song on 6 Music this morning. Not a band I’m particularly familiar with – although their name certainly rings a bell from somewhere in the mists of time – this Swedish band are apparently returning after a few years away.
The track I heard – and the opening track to their new album – has a Serbian title (from a phrase Smrt fašizmu, sloboda narodu, meaning Death to fascism, Freedom to the people, a slogan of the Yugoslav Partisans in WWII), but despite the weighty symbolism behind the title, this is a lighter than air, beautiful track that ends after three minutes or so, when it seems to only have got going. I’ve seen them described as “dream pop”, and this certainly applies here – it has a dreamy, otherworldly feel that is quite, quite beautiful.