My girlfriend reckons I have done this a week early, but I doing this now anyway. So, here are the ten tracks that I want to ramble about for the past month…
Track of the Month
What Can Be Safely Written
This band are now on their sixth album of top-drawer technical death metal, and their well of inspiration still doesn’t appear to be anywhere close to running dry. The usual mix of Egyptology and Lovecraftian themes run through the album (sadly with no liner notes for each song, this time), and this is the monstrous, eight-minute-plus opener, whose opening line is “Great Cthtulu / Ever the Warrior God” – and it sounds like they got assistance from the Old Ones in the recording process, too.
The press have not been kind to the new Garbage “Best-Of”, which I find somewhat unfair. Their output is not half as dated as much of the “BritPop” from a similar time, and at their core Garbage did write great pop songs, just submerging them under a technological sheen. Vow opens this “Best-Of”, as it should, and still stands as the bands best moment – a tale of obsession, and revenge, and Shirley Manson’s voice never sounded so icy and full of spite. Just in case you have forgotten how this sounds, check the video.
Where Angels Burn
The Wanderer and His Shadow
Formed by an ex-member of 1349, this is yet another Norwegian Black Metal band, with a toe in both old-school BM – by virtue of a raw, generally synth-free sound – and in something else entirely, with one full-time member of the band being a cellist, who is used to great effect both as a foil to the whirlwind of the music, and also in calmer, doomier moments. Both sides appear in this track, which starts off at full-tilt before turning on it’s head halfway through. Not half as generic as many BM bands nowadays, the whole album is well worth hearing if you have an interest in the scene.
I did this album something of a disservice when I mentioned that it was a remix album last week – it is a total retooling and upgrade of each and every track that sheds some astonishing new light on some already near-perfect tracks. I could have picked any number of tracks for this here, but to go with one it has to be this. Behind the intro, this becomes the opener and is just brilliant. The vocal treatments are stripped away to reveal a raw, raging vocal, and the guitars and drums are turned up louder, with a dense, pulsating mass of electronics filling the gaps. Wow.
Industrial Is Dead [Demo]
Hordes of the Elite
Yet more truly bonkers digital-hardcore-industrial-punk-pop-whatever, that as I understand should appear in it’s final version on forthcoming album This Life Is Where You Get Fucked (what a title!). A fantastic, bitchy rant at the state of the industrial scene in his hometown of Seattle, although much of what he is saying echoes just about anywhere at the moment. Like much of the RJ output, it sounds like it was beamed in from another universe, never mind another planet. Either way, I bet it’s a fun place to be.
Coming from the same compilation, but some distance away from RJ are these guys. This is a brilliant, stomping metal tune riddled with all kinds of electronics, a great chorus that just bores into your brain, and some house-sized riffs, too. Visually this band are more than a bit odd – white boiler suits, and UV-reactant faces and hair (see the YouTube playlist for the live version).
Looking For Strange
The first taster of the new album due in late-August, this is a bit of a departure from recent KMFDM. Rather than the crunching metallic industrial a la Hau Ruck, this has a much more Darkwave feel to it, even before it explodes into a classically-KMFDM chorus. Apparently this is only one facet of a very varied new album – and I look forward to hearing the remainder with keen interest.
I was really keen on this band’s first EP (Havestar), and I’m also suitably impressed with their debut album, too. An unusual signing for Alfa-Matrix – a female fronted industrial/goth rock band, rather than the more normal industrial/electronics – they are clearly doing well and are growing in confidence with each release. This track is one of the more unusual on the album – some icy electronics based around clever, staccato vocals and multi-layered synths, with beats way down in the mix. Still catchy as fuck, though.
Another tilt into the past, with the recent re-discovery of one of the more unusual bands caught up in the “nu-metal” boom, that in reality really were anything but. I’ll be honest and say that I have paid little or no attention to anything released by this band since this album, but I’m happy with that – they were never going to top the bizarre melting-pot that this album brought to the table. This track, built around a music-box sample, Faith No More-style keyboards, an elastic riff and multiple vocalists – oh, and in the video a good representation of their really rather odd image – is probably their best-known moment.
Not A Crime
Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike
I know full well I’m behind the times on this one, that they are utterly fantastic live, etc etc. And no, I don’t have the new album yet. That will be resolved soon, no doubt, and I’m fully intending on seeing them at The Leadmill in December. In the meantime, this album is more than good enough, and this song is just mental. In a good way – insane folked-up punk with barely intelligible lyrics. Oh, and the best moustache in rock (video for proof)…