Monthly Recommendations: January 2017

‘Utopianisti is a Finn one-man experimental big band project – yes, such a thing exists, apparently -, that is releasing Brutopianisti on January first. Usually more in the progressive rock and metal genres, Markus Pajakkala’s experiment now delves in the worlds of avant-garde metal and grindcore, with this album. Immense props must be given to Markus for writing and playing a thirty-minute album with drums, bass clarinet, soprano sax, xylophone, flutes, and ‘additional vocals’, with only a few guests, mostly for singing. I won’t go into too much detail here, as Dillon, who showed me this album, expressed the desire of writing a full review on it. It’s definitely one of the most interesting albums I’ve heard recently!’
Mini-reviews XLV.
‘Iceland has all the praise, when it comes to black metal, but they never seem to rest on their laurels. Instead, more bands keep budding and pushing their sounds to newer grounds. Although Árstíðir lífsins – stylized as ᚪᚱᛊᛏᛁᛞᛁᚱ᛬ᛚᛁᚠᛊᛁᚾᛊ – is not a new name to the scene, their latest album, Heljarkviða – stylized ᚻᛖᛚᛃᚫᚱᚲᚣᛁᛞᚨ -, is the one with which I discovered them. Get ready, because this is something! First off, the use of organic instruments – like strings, acoustic instruments, and percussions -, as well as very low, choir-like vocals makes this album truly ritualistic and meditative. For all atmospheric black metal fans out there, don’t miss out on this one!’
Mini-reviews LVII.
‘USA’s Czar is an experimental mathcore band, and Life Is No Way to Treat an Animal is their sophomore album. Their take on jazzy mathcore is refreshing and very enjoyable. Their compositions often wander left and right so naturally that it doesn’t come off as forced or undesirable. With nineteen songs over the course of almost fifty minutes, you’re sure to have enough entertainment for a while!’
Mini-reviews LIII.
‘Retail Monkey is an experimental mathgrind trio from Washington, all recorded and produced by one person. ADD/Nihilism is a bunch of ten-year-old compositions only now recorded and published. That couldn’t be better, though, because the twenty tracks on this thirty-odd-minute album are angry, dissonant, chaotic, and so, so rewarding. Definitely a must if you need ultra mathcore.’
Mini-reviews LVI.

Honourable Mentions
‘Coming from the drummer of Musica Masonica, Sol Sinclair, this is less of a post-doom improvisation and more of a meticulously written atmospheric dissonant black metal. The twenty-eight-minute EP consists of four tracks, half of which are more atmospheric and eulogical in nature – the first and last tracks -, while the rest is straight up top-notch black metal.’
Mini-reviews XLIII.
‘Microtonal progressive metal project Cryptic Ruse just unleashed Pineal Algebra upon the world. First off, I think it’s much better than 2014’s Chains of Smoke, which was an interesting experiment, but lacked in substance. Here, the compositions use the xenharmonic scales more naturally, and don’t feel like they are relying on a gimmick. The riffs are very interesting and, sometimes, quite intricate, which is exciting to hear on a microtonal instrument. However, one of the biggest flaws of the release is the use and abuse of programmed drums. As in too many instances, they detract from the experience, and bring down the ‘quality’ feeling of the album. The compositions here deserve to be treated like a real band instead of a bunch of demos. This is pretty much the only downside, though, and, if you’re fine with the drums, it’s an otherwise great album!’
Mini-reviews XLVII.
‘Joey Molinaro‘s folkcore is something that should bluntly appeal to no one: youngsters tend to move away from folkloric music while older people tend to steer clear of harsh music. Yet – and perhaps because of it -, Awash is a thundering success! The indescribable heavy influences – is it black metal? Is it mathcore? – are forced upon a minimalist folk band consisting of only violin, a screaming man, what sounds like feet stomping the ground, and occasional piano. The result is a truly horrendous but thoroughly adorable experiment that goes on for a little less than thirty minutes. It’s a standout album among the current mathcore scene, and one that will certainly make heads turn (and drop).’
Mini-reviews LIV.
‘Russian experimental jazz trio Бром (Brom) invites us to a hard-bop meets jazzcore session, on Рафинад (Rafinad), complete with amplified double bass, saxophone, and drums. The band’s experiments shine, from ‘Камень’ (Kamyen) to ‘Анютины Глазки’ (Anyutiny Glazki), over the course of a little more than three quarters of an hour divided into seven distinct pieces torn between compositions and improvisations. It’s certainly one of the highlights of January for experimental jazz.’
Mini-reviews LIV.

‘Reflections in Cosmo is an experimental jazz project from Norwegian drummer Thomas Strønen. The quartet lacks a bassist, which is unfortunate, but barely felt, thanks to the keyboardist Ståle Storløkken. The whole, forty-minute thing is in a balancing act between composition and improvisation, and delivers a lot of energy, hence the ‘rock-jazz’ term they like to use to describe themselves. Their self-titled album was released on January twentieth.’
Mini-reviews LV.
‘What if technical death metal merged with grindcore, you ask? Seminary is here to answer that very question. Through a thick veil of experimentalism, Automnymous shines as an utterly foreign and dislikable entity. And that’s exactly why I like it so much. The songs are pretty long – for grindcore standards – and display a messy and schizophrenic personality that makes the whole sixteen minutes worth an hour. While I can hardly say the themes and ideas brought up in the songs are thoroughly developed and built upon, their relentless succession renders the classical techniques useless and antiquated. Let’s dive into this riff soup and enjoy every sip.’
Mini-reviews LIV.
‘The Great Old Ones is an atmospheric black metal band from France with a strong penchant towards Lovecraftian imagery. Eod: A Tale of Dark Legacy is their third full-length, following 2014’s awe-inspiring Tekeli-li. I’m glad to find out that they’ve outdone themselves with this record, and that even though I found their previous one to be slightly hard to get into completely, I’ve absolutely no qualms about this one! It comes out next Friday!’
Mini-reviews LIII.

On January 31 2017, this entry was posted.