A bit later than usual – Whitby and general life issues rather got in the way – and this of course will be the last new tracks roundup of 2014, as I’ll be doing the best of 2014 lists from early December as usual. And this is the first of two posts this morning.
Also, to think that I was struggling to fill this with even ten songs a few weeks back, I ended up with far more than I needed and so some songs this time miss out.
Track of the Month
The Butcher’s Arcana
Way back in time, Red20 were a promising industrial-rock band in Sheffield, who played a tiny handful of gigs and released a number of ever-more ambitious albums and then vanished. Al moved to Birmingham, lost his fellow band members along the way, and eventually dabbled again in music after a few years away, but nothing really seemed to capture the magic of the old…until now. This new (mini-)album is generally very good indeed – there is perhaps one song I’m not keen on – but this track is an absolute killer, with a circus-freakshow-meets-industrial-rock feel and a cracking, off-kilter chorus complete with unhinged vocals and quite unsettling electronics that should be accompanied by a fucked-up video in a hall of mirrors. Either way, this is an outstanding return.
Stabbing Westward are a long way back in musical history now, right? Well, they were, until Christopher Hall got Walter Flakus working with him again in his current project, and the result is basically a nod back to the days of Ungod/Wither Blister Burn and Peel – made oh-so-obvious from the first few seconds by the brooding bassline, never mind Hall’s telltale vocals. Clearly something of a move to win back fans of their old band, I’m perfectly happy to keep listening if future material is as great as this.
I was by no means the only one that raised an eyebrow once this collaboration was confirmed – I mean, would it really work? One listen to this at good volume confirmed to me that, yes, it does. Walker’s deep baritone, dramatic delivery and taste for the avant garde dovetails brilliantly with Sunn O)))’s drone-based guitar work, particularly on this opener for the album, which comes completed with cracks of a bullwhip as part of the percussion. Nowhere near as extreme as some of Sunn O)))’s other work, for those put off by their reputation this album could actually be a good place to start.
Homeless in Heathrow
Appalling name, but the music is good, and their website shows an interesting mission statement, too. I’d heard the name mentioned by a few friends on the West Coast of late, with quite a buzz about their live show in particular, and the slick video for this single will also help with any buzz. This is dark, clever synthpop, with a robotic rhythms and ultra-treated vocals that make for a memorable track – and the serial-killer send-up of the video adds to the intrigue.
Menhir – Supplicant
Eleven minutes and forty-five seconds of epic, sweeping Black Metal that does a good job of balancing icy blasts of metal fury and also more contemplative, near-dark ambient passages to keep things interesting over such an epic track length. Over the course of four albums now the band have continued to be one of the more progressive, intriguing and vital Black Metal bands in the scene, and if they keep releasing music as brilliant as this, long may it continue – especially as they fly the flag as one of the few Black Metal bands from these isles to make a significant impression.
It has been a busy year for Cygnets – having already released an outstanding album in Isolator in the spring, they are now back again with a much higher-profile album, having been signed to Negative Gain in the meantime. There have been a couple of tracks released in advance from it (and both have videos, interestingly), and for me this is the better track of the two. A punchy, quickstep of a track, with harmonised chorus vocals that plant hooks in your head, and an urgent vocal delivery generally that powers the track forward. This band are fascinating, really – pulling in influences from post-punk and UK indie music of the past, but marrying it to new technology, and it sounds great. The new album is out this week.
I first heard this artist *years* ago (a cracking track called Alive Right Now on the 2008 Glitch Mode compilation Gears Gone Wild – incidentally the same one that Prude first appeared on), and I’ve been wondering what happened with nothing else released since…until now. Ok, it is only a three track EP, but its a start, and it is picking up where he left off. So, in other words – thumping, bass-led industrial music with a harsh, heavy atmosphere and rhythms that get the feet and body moving (there is a nod to Nitzer Ebb here, for sure). More please!
A Quiet State
Also back after a long, long time away are mindFluxFuneral. The lengthy – seven year – gap since the outstanding Teatro De RevelaciÃ³n has meant I’ve been patiently awaiting this new release for a age but it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Once again this is brutally intense electro-industrial, keeping the blurred vocal treatments and a dense sonic palette that means repeated listens are necessary to appreciate it fully. The first takeaway from the new material is that it is perhaps more measured, and more moderately paced than some of the rampaging pace of the last album, but on this song in particular it seems only to increase the intensity levels further.
Make Your Stand
Our Time Will Come
KMFDM albums are generally fairly reliable nowadays – there isn’t going to be a great deal that is unexpected on a new release from them. The Heavy Heavy Beat is in full effect, there are guitar-heavy songs, there are the more electro tracks, there are the political ones. Our Time Will Come does exactly this, but just for once isn’t front loaded (opening track Genau in particular is no great shakes). Best track on the album, by miles, is the stomping, fist-pumping closer Make Your Stand, a call-to-arms to make a political difference, as one and as a group. And recent collaborator William Wilson’s vocals have a fire to them that KMFDM haven’t had for a little while, too.
Ok, so not a lot has changed – if you are familiar with the band, this is not going to surprise you – but [:SITD:] are back doing what they do well. So that is a very Germanic take on industrial music – thundering, hard beats, glowering vocals and a melodic touch that keeps the song anchored and memorable. Maybe not so much the “in thing” any more, but still very good either way.