Shortstacks – 3/3/2016

Only got two for you guys today, I’ll see if I can do more tomorrow. One of them was almost a full review, but I figured it was just a bit too short to warrant a spot. The batch today doesn’t really have any stinkers, just complete mediocrity, and one band that has potential, but hasn’t quite realized it yet. So without further adieu, here’s today’s Shortstacks.


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Mouth – Mouth

I feel like there’s a lot of potential for greatness here, but some things just hold them back. Mouth shows they have a fantastic knowledge of riffing in the first two tracks, but that doesn’t show up anywhere else on the album, offering instead of put out very droney, sludgy tracks. During those tracks they also demonstrate they can build an atmosphere, but especially on From Room / Communion of Her it just goes on way too long.

The shorter tracks are definitely the strengths here. They mostly consist of forward moving, muddying tracks that you can bob your head to, coupled with absolutely fantastic drum work. The drums really are the best aspect of this album. When used right, beyond having finesse, they move the pieces forward, to the point where every beat feels like one giant step, creating a driving force. However the guitars are more inconsistent. While yes, there are some pretty good riffs to behold here, the guitars mostly drone on one chord / “riff” (if you can really call it that). That can work in many circumstances, but in an album where half of its length is basically dedicated to those drones (over half actually), and the fact that in many cases they’re coupled with these softer vocals make the whole thing sound more lazy than atmospheric.

I enjoyed this, however I think the band has some growing up to do. This is only their debut, so I’m sure if they continue they’re grow into a fantastic sound. For now Mouth has potential, but is still largely an obviously amateur production.

6.25/10


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Typhus – Typhus

You know an album is gonna be good when one of their track titles spells fixation with two Xs. Basically just generic deathcore with djent shit thrown in so that the band can call it “progressive”. It’s got this pseudo Egyptian thing going on that I don’t really get, but it doesn’t matter because it’s never visible on the album for more than a few seconds at at time. Inoffensive, but not worth anyone’s time.

4/10

 

 

The Body – No One Deserves Happiness ALBUM REVIEW

The Body has always been one of those bands that’s bordered on the edge of “is this actually metal?” at times. And that’s gotten them both acclaim and dissent from the metal community. Because the truth is the metal community doesn’t often take too kindly to massive experimentation of the non-metal variety in metal albums. Many see it as the invitation to the hipster community to love metal, of which as they do everything, will lead to the further degeneration and destruction of metal as a whole. And this isn’t totally wrong, we’ve already seen plenty of shitty pitchforkcore metal albums come out specifically because the general populace has grown more into the more extreme genres of metal. However, that doesn’t faze me when going into this record. Because I like weird shit. If you’ve followed my reviews for the short time that I’ve been doing them, you might’ve caught on that i love really strange and experimental metal, which often involves me giving “random bandcamp album #2324” a 10/10. This is because smaller bands typically do shit that no other large band would even think of doing, because of the risk of losing fans, which equals losing money. The Body isn’t exactly the largest band in the world, but they’re known, and they have quite a following. The difference being The Body has built their image on some of the coldest, hate induced music of any major band right now. No One Deserves Happiness is no different. The Body has created a masterpiece that speaks to everyone who has ever wished ill will on other people or themselves, and those who’s cynicism and pessimism has controlled them to the point of no return.

Even since people have actually started using the descriptors feature of RYM albums I’ve seen the tag “misanthropic” on pretty much any album that’s dark in the slightest. The tag is almost a joke at this point, one that always hypes me up but never delivers. So again, on this record I got the it’s page and sure enough, that tag is there, calling to me another massive let down. Except when I put this on, there was no letdown. This is some of the most anti-social music I’ve heard that wasn’t just noise. And it’s all done by the implementation of industrial sounds in combination with the droning heavy guitars. I think the evilness of machinery is quite underestimated among most music fans, especially those who love metal. One of the reasons black metal sounds so evil is because of the hollow and cold guitar tone associated with it. It sounds distant, cold, detached. However I feel like there’s still some human emotion attached to them, mostly in the fact that they actually play tonal notes. So no matter how black you make the guitar, there’s always going to be some sort of warmth involved. Machines don’t have that. They just have pure, cold, noise. There is no warmth of human flesh attached to those sounds, no familiar imperfections or touch. It’s just noise. But that can be said of any electronic album, why does it work so well here?

It’s because of the combination BETWEEN both the warmth and the cold. In combination with the bleeps and bloops we have warm, down to earth guitars. We have soothing, soft female vocals that almost seem to be sarcasm at times, and at others beckoning those who reject humanity to come back to the comfort of man. We have distant, fuzzy screams, as if a response to the vocals, yelling “NO, let me suffer in peace!” We have a distant and quiet production, which I initially criticized, but came to realize made everything else even more detached. The amazing part of No One Deserves Happiness is that even things I would normally see as imperfections are done so well in context that I see them as strengths. There are tracks where we do see some actual melancholy tonality, something that you would take for granted on basically any other record. Normally I would look at that and think “wow that really doesn’t fit in context of what I’ve heard so far”. But god dammit it works here. Specifically on The Fall and the Guilt, we have a track with pianos and violins, combined with angelic female vocals, contrasted with the guttural, doomy guitars and noisy background fuzz. It shouldn’t work but it fits perfectly because The Body restrains themselves from going too all in on either aspect. There’s just enough of each one to work, no more, no loss.

Which is why this album is one of the best records this year. Because everything fits together perfectly. Not only does it accomplish its goal to almost perfection, but it goes beyond that, giving the listener a true misanthropic experience that I haven’t seen in a long time. I know this is isn’t going to get high ratings from most people, but I urge anyone who can give weird music a chance to let this masterpiece explain to them why humans are pure fucking garbage.


9.5/10

Fluisteraars – Luwte ALBUM REVIEW

I’ve been trying to get back into reviewing more little known albums, as I think the most fun I have as a reviewer is finding fantastic albums that nobody else has given a fair chance. I found my probable AOTY that way, and in Luwte I found one of the best atmospheric black metal albums of the year. While it’s ratings are sparse and mostly low, I hope that that changes after I give it the ‘ol seal of approval.

This album does two things in particular really fucking well; it utilizes unexpected and unconventional chords, and creates a wonderfully dark, depressing, and slow forming atmosphere. Not unlike Beethoven (did you ever think someone would use Beethoven as a comparison in an atmo black review?) Fluisteraars plugs in super strange chords into their progressions, which creates a sense of awe and mystery, while also keeping you interested in the long and drawn out tracks. The best example of this is one the first track “De Laaste Verademin”. The chord progression over the final section of the track reads as D major, Bb 7 (Bb, D, F, A), F #5 (F, A, C#), A major, then back to D major. It’s basically an extended I – V progression, but what’s filled in between is completely off the wall. Neither of those two chords in the middle have anything remotely to do with D major. And yet they sound great. They sound mysterious, unique, questioning. It’s amazing how adding just two chords can completely change the entire landscape of your piece, at least to me anyway. But I’m the music major, I’m supposed to jerk off to that kind of stuff. Even for someone who doesn’t study music I’m sure that you’ll understand what I’m talking about by listening to this, as these kinds of techniques transcend knowledge and go directly into your soul.

Soulful would be a great way to describe Luwte, in that it feels good to listen to. The slow, mind numbing progression of ideas is both extremely relaxing and a bit meditative. However it is also this albums biggest flaw. While I do get that this is supposed to be a very droney record, I feel like it feels a bit too repetitive at times. Ideas really tend to stay longer than they should, especially on the third track, the 15 minute long “Stille Wateran”. It feels like one idea lasts about 6 minutes, which is a bad thing no matter how comforting it is to listen to, or how good the idea is. I’d even call it boring to some extent. It’s one of those albums that you feel “done” with about 2/3rds of the way through.

However this does not take away from what is a hypnotizing and mesmeric record that ranks among one of the best of it’s subgenre this year. I feel like maybe I’m docking it too much for being slow, but I don’t quite feel comfortable giving it a higher rating. It’s still a great album. More people just need to give this a fair chance.


8.25/10

Church – Unanswered Hymns ALBUM REVIEW


If there was ever an album to preach the parable of “don’t judge a book by its cover”, this is it. Holy hell I wasn’t expecting any of this. When I saw the cassettecore lofi black and white cover I thought “this is definitely going to be absolutely shit”. I was wrong. Dear god I was wrong. This is a major candidate for Sludge album of the year, with a combination of crushing riffs, screaming, rip your soul out vocals, and with just enough of a light touch in places to prevent you from being totally overwhelmed.

You might be wondering why I labeled this album “progressive drone metal”. While yes, that is a label I pulled from my ass, I think it fits this in the most literal way possible. The entire album is basically one progression. It starts out super sludgy and murky, being very much like Sumac this year. But unlike Sumac, this relented. As if it was just charging up it’s energy, it slowly crescendoed along to beautiful psuedo climax with the first introduction to the vocals. And oh how I love these vocals. Vocals that sounds like inane screaming are some of my favorites if the situation calls for it. Here, in an extremely non-technical, chaotic environment where it feels like people are just letting all of their energy go in a sea of, I don’t want to say rage, but emotion, it fits perfectly. The second track is set up as the calm before the storm, with a slow evolving lyrical riff that again does a climax tease with clean, somewhat whispered vocals. It acts really nice as sort of a pallete cleanser for the go to track in the album, the third track titled Offering. The opening to this is very stoner doomish in how psychedelic the instrument texture is and with how far out the vocals sound. Here again, we see the buildup that this album is so good as delivering on, building up to the conclusion of this album, where it utilizes both the clean and harsh vocals, as well as turning the sludge meter up to 11 in what I can only describe as a soniscape of musical hatred. I love albums that build up to a finale, and then deliver on it, and Unanswered Hymns answers big time. I very much want to compare this to Sumac again, the difference being this relents at times, mostly for the better, while Sumac is just nonstop sound crush. Also can I just get some appreciation for how awesome guitar distortion and screeches can sound? I always felt that that made the track in the right situations, as long as it wasn’t like Weed Eater who’s songs are pretty much only guitar distortion (still good shit though, check them out).

One of the most overachieving albums of the year, Unanswered Hymns takes your soul and fucks it senseless, let’s it rest and think it’s safe, only to do it again once it’s almost recovered. I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to be soul raped in my entire life than with this album.


8.75/10

Efferat – The Enlightenment ALBUM REVIEW

If there is such a thing as Buddhist temple black metal, this is it. It feels like hat a tibetan monk would make if they were kvlt or something. Chaotic, yet serene, this album takes you on a trip inwards, which makes it very meditative despite it’s loudness at times. I swear I even heard samples of tibetan trumpets, but I wasn’t sure about this. Really great album, definitely worth a listen.


8.5/10