Mini-Reviews XXIV

Punk, rock, metal, pop… I think this one’s one of the most diverse sets we’ve had yet!
Vancouver’s microtonal punk band, Jock Tears, have just released their Sassy Attitude EP. They play some pretty light-hearted punk that almost sounds like surf rock at times, and their live shows are apparently a lot of fun as well! In line with pure punk aesthetics, the use of microtonal instruments give the whole a very ‘badly tuned’ sound, with weird vocal melodies, chord voicings, and guitar leads. The 17-EDO system allows for good approximations of the neutral third and perfect fourth and fifth, and lacks the tritone interval. It sounds very ‘happy’, at least how they use it.
Signals of Bedlam is a progressive rock band from New York with pretty noticeable influences from Mahavishnu Orchestra and The Mars Volta. The vocals are often the main aspect to justify the comparison, but here it’s more the energetic vibe coming out of the compositions and the way they are played. Singer Cero Cartera is much lower pitched than Cedric Bixler-Zavala, and has a sort of soul side to it that makes it closer to Ross Jennings (Haken, Novena) and Jonny Craig (ex-Emarosa, ex-Dance Gavin Dance). Escaping Velocity is a very good album.

In the vein of Soilwork and Dark Tranquillity, Beyond Fiction‘s Dehumanized just came out, bringing a mix of melodic death metal, metalcore, and progressive metal with them. Although melodeath has never been one of my favourite genres, there is something worth listening here. The drums have a certain personality to them and are quite technical from time to time, the riffs don’t all sound the same, and the backing vocals bring some welcome diversity in the voice department. Check it out, especially if you’re the melodeath person.
Race to Your Face just released Feed Me Wizards, Please, their debut album and sophomore release. They play a very chill and innocuous style of math rock that, even without the outstanding musicianship of other acts, succeeds in remaining interesting and relevant through their rhythmic approach. That’s not to say there’s no ‘math rock musicianship’, as proves ‘Cyril Was an Instigator’, for example, but the spotlight is more on relaxing atmospheres and post-rock-ish song crafting.
Taking traditional soul songs by African slaves in America and putting them on a collision course with modern black metal, Zeal and Ardor succeeds in crafting heart-wrenching songs for a metal audience. The rattle of chains, the raw a capella singing, and varied instrumentation depict the harsh truths of these men and women, and are much more relatable and interesting to a new public. Devil Is Fine is a really good and interesting EP where each song will surprise you.
Black metal experimenters Botanist and Oskoreien collaborated for a split release, Green Metal and Deterministic Chaos, in any order you prefer. I think Botanist have long overstayed their welcome in the experimental scene, now only rehashing the same formula that presented an interesting new approach to the genre, more than five years ago. Oskoreien is not doing much for me either. Overall a forgettable split release.
Metal bands sometimes take authors, fictional universes, or even video games as their main themes and inspirations. Ophidius‘ music comes from the world of The Elder Scrolls, and their latest album, The Way of the Voice is set within the lore of the latest chapter: Skyrim. The instrumental death metal EP represents the journey to the top of the High Hrothgar mountain. Their music is pretty cool but doesn’t escape the irony of being about ‘the voice’ while being an instrumental release. The songs seem to leave some space for a singer that is absent. Either that, or they’re just a bit bare to my tastes. In any case, I think you should give it a listen by yourself, and if you’re uncertain, it’s still available as a name your price download.

Inuit experimental pop artist Tanya Tagaq will release her latest album, Retribution, on October 21. This is a very eclectic album, that goes from rap (as in the above video for ‘Centre’), to electro-folk (‘Aorta’), and to some very disturbing compositions like ‘ᓯᕗᓕᕕᓂᕗᑦ’ and the actually scary ‘Cold’. ‘Summoning’ might be my favourite track on the album. There’s also a sad and gloomy cover of Nirvana’s ‘Rape Me’ on there, which takes a whole new meaning in light of the current context of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada. Overall, Retribution is a highly interesting album and you should give it a try.

On October 17 2016, this entry was posted.